Red Bull won’t discuss Perez’s contract
Red Bull says it will not discuss a 2022 contract with Sergio Perez or any other driver until Formula One’s summer break at the earliest. The Mexican replaced Alex Albon on a one year deal but has been slow to match teammate Max Verstappen, scoring less than half the points.
Red Bull is in no rush to decide whether Perez is a longer-term option than just one season. Motorsport adviser Helmut Marko told Formel1.de, “We’ll start thinking about it in the summer at the earliest. We are a very sought-after partner on the driver market.”
“I don’t think a driver will enter into negotiations or a deal with any other team until he has tried to come to an agreement with us. We are now fully focused on the world championship, and we don’t see any problem there in terms of who will be Max Verstappen’s teammate next year.”
Perez is one of the most experienced drivers in the sport and won his first Grand Prix in Sakhir six months ago and was brought in after young drivers Pierre Gasly and Albon struggled alongside Verstappen. Marko said Perez has shown glimpses of matching Verstappen so far.
Saying, “It’s very good, sometimes at Max’s level. He proved that in Monte Carlo when we went for the overcut. That was three or four laps where he drove the fastest laps overall, with already very used tyres. So the race pace is there. The area where we’re still lacking is in qualifying. We need to see an improvement there.”
Alpha Tauri plans to move Tsunoda to Italy
Red Bull motorsport adviser Helmut Marko has said they are planning to move Yuki Tsunoda closer to Alpha Tauri’s base in Faenza to help rebuild his confidence after a tough run of races. The Japanese driver finished third in F2 last year and on his debut in Sakhir, he charged his way to ninth place.
However, Tsunoda has not managed to score any points since Imola when he crashed d out of qualifying and then spun in the race while inside the points. Red Bull advisor Marko was instrumental in Tsunoda’s rapid promotion into an F1 seat that saw him move all the way up from F4 in just four seasons.
He acknowledged that Tsunoda’s start to the season was “really fantastic”, but felt an over-confidence had led to some mistakes, prompting Red Bull to move the 21-year-old from England to Italy so he could be closer to AlphaTauri.
Marko said in an interview with Formel1.de, “Trying to overtake Hamilton on the wet track at Imola is a daring manoeuvre, and of course it went wrong – that was the spin that knocked him out of the points.”
“We’ve now decided he’s moving to Italy, where he’s under the personal watchful eye of Franz Tost. The young man now has to concentrate and will learn that Formula 1 is the toughest sport in motor racing. Accordingly, the work and approach must also be as professional.”
Marko said the AlphaTauri team principal Tost would supervise and arrange Tsunoda’s daily routine, including a focus on “lots of fitness, go-karting, technical work in the factory, reading out data and the like.”
Tsunoda has already recognised things he needs to improve, including controlling his emotions more on team radio, and apologised to the AlphaTauri team after an outburst after qualifying in Spain.
Asked if Tsunoda’s self-confidence was a concern following his Imola crash, Marko replied: “Yes, the development has certainly not been positive. But with the mistakes that have happened, it’s clear that self-confidence has also suffered.
Norris can take McLaren to the top – Sainz
Carlos Sainz believes his former teammate Lando Norris can take McLaren “to the top of Formula One,” after signing a long-term contract two weeks ago. The two drivers were teammates at the British team in 2019 and 2020, striking up one of the closest partnerships in F1.
Sainz left McLaren at the end of last year to join Ferrari, but Norris had continued his impressive form, scoring two podiums so far this season. Norris has recently signed a new multi-year contract to remain with the team until at least the end of 2023.
Speaking about Norris’s new deal, Sainz was confident his former teammate could lead McLaren to the very top in F1 over the coming years, naming him as one of the best drivers on the grid.
He told Motorsport.com, “I think there are a bunch of drivers now that are on a very similar level of performance. I would include Lando among them, that they are potential world champions, and they just need the right car to win it.”
“I would include myself, I would include Charles [Leclerc] of course, and many others. The level in Formula 1 is so high that unfortunately, we are more dependent on what the team is capable of rather than I think what we can do. But I believe Lando has the potential to win and take McLaren to the top.”
Sainz and Norris both finished on the podium at the Monaco Grand Prix behind race winner Max Verstappen. With an average age of 23 years, 11 months and 28 days, it marked the third-youngest podium in F1 history, only trailing the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix and the 2008 Italian Grand Prix.
Sainz felt the results showed that F1 is “in good hands for the future”, noting the tiny margins between the front-runners on the grid. The Spaniard says the level of drivers this year is super high, saying that it was not only the young drivers delivering but most of the grid.
Adding, “I’m glad to be sharing this grid with so many talented people and comparing myself against them, and see how you can do.”
Cost of getting into motorsport “absurd” – Wolff
Mercedes F1 CEO and team principal Toto Wolff says that motorsport needs to be made “much more affordable” for youngsters after Lewis Hamilton said Formula 1 has become a “billionaire boys’ club”.
The seven-time champion was raised on a council estate in Stevenage and recently said that it would be impossible for him to get into F1 now. The seven-time F1 world champion said in an interview with Spanish publication AS that F1 “has become a billionaire boys’ club”.
Adding: “If I were to start over from a working-class family, it would be impossible for me to be here today because the other boys would have a lot more money.
Three of the twenty drivers, Lance Stroll, Nicholas Latifi and Nikita Mazepin – are the sons of billionaires, while the majority of the other seventeen drivers have needed the backing of manufacturers or sponsors to get into F1. Wolff said that while every driver had their own story, he agreed with Hamilton that more had to be done to reduce costs in grassroots racing.
He told Motorsport.com, “What makes the sport so attractive is that it provides the narrative for good soap [opera] outside of the racing too. Drivers have always come from different backgrounds, and I think there is not always, everyone has his story, and things to cope.”
“I doubt that kids from a more privileged background have it easy all the time. They are fighting their own demons. What I think we can do is make sure that grassroots racing becomes more affordable, so kids that haven’t got any financial background can actually be successful in the junior formulas.”
Wolff says that the sport needs to identify those kids rather than making the costs unaffordable.
Bottas uses negative images to motivate him
Valtteri Bottas has revealed he uses a “negative” computer desktop picture as motivation to “show them what I can do” after a suggestion by Mercedes F1 CEO and team principal Toto Wolff.
The Finn has had a difficult start to the season retiring from two of the five races so far to leave him fourth in the drivers’ championship, fifty-eight points off leader Max Verstappen. He was on course to finish second in Monaco before retiring from the race due to cross-threaded wheelnut caused his retirement.
Bottas has faced regular scrutiny about his ability to fight for an F1 title during his time with Mercedes as he battles with seven-time world champion teammate Sir Lewis Hamilton. Wolff has regularly talked up Bottas’s mental strength, before the start of the season he said that he underwent “extreme” preparations over the winter to get himself in the right mindset.
Wolff revealed over the Spanish Grand Prix weekend that one of his management tactics is encouraging employees to have a photo of their rival in a place of prominence to act as motivation.
The Austrian explained, “You could place a photo of that person in the calendar or on the desk, and every time there is a little lack of motivation, you look at these people. Everyone is free to do it. Of the people I work with, I keep seeing such photos pop out. It’s good. It’s called enemy building, and it’s a powerful psychological weapon.”
Following those comments Bottas was asked whether he used a similar approach with his direct F1 rivals. Bottas revealed he does use the idea differently. Saying “I have one, actually inspired by the chats with Toto last year,” Bottas said. “I have one thing on my computer, a desktop picture, that is a motivation to me every time I open the computer.”
Paul Ricard start of “a new championship” – Alonso
Fernando Alonso says “a new championship” will start for him from mid-June’s French Grand Prix while he still gets up to speed after a two-year absence. The two-time champion has struggled to match his Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon, who is currently twelfth scoring three times more points.
Alonso believes that this years calendar has made it harder for him because he hadn’t raced at Imola since 2006 and had never raced before at Portimao. The following circuits are street circuit last weekend in Monaco and this weekend in Baku, which is why he has suggested Paul Ricard will be a new start.
The Spaniard told Motorsport.com, “In a way the start of the season is not the best possible calendar for a newcoming driver. I had Imola, I had Portimao, two circuits that I was not racing for years or never like in Portimao.”
“The guys were racing four months ago in the last year championship. And then two street circuits, Baku and Monaco. So, [from] the first six races of the championship four were extremely challenging to get used to.”
Alonso says that he is hoping that he can get a better balance in the car was key. He also says he needs to get on top of the tyres to perform better in qualifying, explain he needs to a better job of understanding “the variables” of an F1 weekend.
Adding “I think it is a little bit random what do we get. I will not say that it is a luck factor, but there is something that is hidden. At different times of the weekend some people [are] at the back of the grid in FP2, some people in FP3, some people in Q2. So, why all these variables are happening in a weekend. We need to understand better.”
Zandvoort targets 100,000 fans this year
Organisers of the Dutch Grand Prix have announced they are targeting over 100,000 fans a day when it returns to the calendar in September. The race is returning following a thirty-six-year hiatus after being cancelled last year due to the pandemic.
The majority of F1 races took place behind closed doors last year, but fans have steadily been returning at events so far this season, including the last two races in Spain and Monaco. Last week, prime minister Mark Rutte announced the end of most restrictions on Friday.
Meanwhile, the countries health minister Hugo de Jonge followed this by saying he expects social distancing and mask-wearing to be scrapped from 1 September, two days before the start of the race weekend.
The races sporting director Jan Lammers, is optimistic that a capacity can be reached this year, following the rollover of the sell out crowd for last years cancelled race. However, admits that the 1.5-metre social distancing would need to be scrapped to make that viable.
Lammers told Motorsport.com, “It’s going in a positive direction very quickly, but that in itself is not so strange. Everyone knows now how to act with the virus around. And then you have the people who’ve already had corona and those who have already been vaccinated.”
“If you take all of those things together, you already have a certain amount of spectators who are safe from getting the virus from someone else anyway. We don’t have a clear idea of how big those numbers are at the moment, but it’s looking good and that’s nice.”
He says the decisions on running the race would need to be made in the next month, having previously made clear a bumper attendance was required to make the race financially viable. Saying that they need two months to build the temporary grandstands and facilities for the race.
Lammers says that things like the late April and May bank holiday’s, haven’t seen the Covid figures worsen, hoping that the trend continues in the coming days.
Aston Martin teams up with Racing Pride
Aston Martin has become the first Formula One team to announce a partnership with Racing Pride and will hold a series of social and community initiatives to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ diversity and inclusion.
The announcement marks the start of June’s Pride Month, the month-long campaign will see the team highlight the strength of the LGBTQ+ community within motorsport, while Racing Pride logos will feature on the bodywork of Aston Martin’s car at the French Grand Prix.
Richard Morris, Racing Pride’s co-founder, said: “This landmark partnership between Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team and Racing Pride will have a widely felt positive impact for the LGBTQ+ community.”
“We look forward to continuing to work closely with the team as it constantly strives to create an inclusive culture in which all team members are respected, empowered, and valued.” Morris says the partnership will be a source of inspiration to the LGBTQ+ community within the sport, among its global fanbase, and in broader society.
Sebastian Vettel says he wants to highlight the positivity around the message of inclusion and acceptance. Adding “I congratulate the people who have pushed the discussion that has led to wider inclusion; but, equally, I’m aware that more needs to be done to change attitudes and remove much of the remaining negativity.”
He says it was great to see Aston Martin giving its support to this issue but there is a long road ahead but was pleased that the team can play a positive role.
Teammate Lance Stroll added “As a racing driver and a public figure, I’m passionate about building inclusion within the motorsport world.
“I’m already involved in helping to develop a STEM programme with Cognizant for young engineering students, but this initiative is a way we can be proactive as a team in breaking down barriers and fostering positivity.”