F1 Today – 02/03/2021

F1 Today

Mercedes unveils W12 online

Mercedes have launched there 2021 car the W12 online on Tuesday, the German manufacture unveiled its car from its Brackley base.

The car looks largely the same but has looked slimmed down further from last season, however it did not reveal where it had spent its two development tokens. These tokens are designed to allow teams to recover some of what they agreed to cut from downforce over the winter.

Mercedes have traditionally held its cards tight, technical director James Allison said he would not yet say where they have used them. But added the car presented was not the final aero package as other teams would copy.

Allison said, “the normal fare of seeking out opportunity across every square centimetre of the car with particular attention to finding places where we can invest extra weight into fancier aerodynamic geometry.”

He says the pandemic hasn’t really affected the development because of the large carryover from last year, most of the work was done remotely because of restrictions in the UK.

The team has also been forced to remove the DAS system which has been outlawed by the technical regulations.

Head of its engine division Hywel Thomas says the new power unit should see the team “take the next development step” on both performance and reliability. In early 2020 the team admitted they were having failures but they used the delay to correct the problems.

Thomas also says that the revamped power unit for 2021 features a number of new ideas that he hopes will deliver a step forward in performance. Saying “We’ve got some completely new innovations that will be in the racing PU for the first time.”

The team are to remain with the black livery introduced in July last year, as a visible message to stand against racism. However, the hint of the silver arrow can be seen on the engine cover as well as the turquoise blue of the team’s title sponsor Petronas. Mercedes described the move as “a sign of the team’s continued commitment to becoming more diverse and inclusive as a company.”

Mercedes had traditionally used silver as its racing colour since the 1934 German Grand Prix, but a small amount of silver has returned to the car.

Speaking about Sir Lewis Hamilton’s contract delay, Wolff explained that them both catching coronavirus in December held up the talks. Wolff says he had mild symptoms, over the Christmas period.

Hamilton says his aim this year is to push for greater diversity with Bottas aware that Red Bull is on the heels of Mercedes following the strong result in Abu Dhabi. Both drivers have been avoiding going into the factory over the last year due to restrictions, but the seven-time champion had been in touch over the winter.

This season Mercedes is looking to extend there run of drivers and constructor’s championship to eight back-to-back, having already surpassed the record set by Ferrari in the early 2000s.


No plans for my future – Hamilton

Sir Lewis Hamilton says he only signed a one-year deal because there was “no real need” to plan for the future, hinting that he may only sign short-term contracts from now on.

The winter was dominated by what was going on with his future after he won a seventh world title last year, he eventually signed a one year contract in early February. This was a surprise for many as he has normally signed three-year deals with the team.

Hamilton explained the reasoning at a press conference following the launch of the W12 that he was “fully invested in this season. I still love what I do. There was great discussion around diversity last year, but what’s really important is that we’re taking action.”

Mercedes have continued with the black livery to which they switched their cars in 2020 as a continuation of their push for diversity and anti-racism. The Englishman says he is proud of the steps the team are taking to their team more inclusive and increase opportunities for minorities.

The Hamilton Commission investigating why there was a lack of diversity in motorsport would deliver its first report in the summer. Hamilton says he is starting to see progress, but it would be one step at a time, his message this year is set to be about accountability.

After taking the knee before races last year to highlight anti-racism, he said he had not yet decided what actions to take on the grid this year.

While there is and will be speculation that if he wins his eighth world title and be the first driver to pass a century of wins this year he could retire. He says he has already decided that was not the thing he wanted to be the deciding factor, as he loves racing and going for records could see him ‘lose his way.’

But added “Of course it is the ultimate dream but I don’t think it is not going to be the deciding factor whether I stay or keep going; it is more whether when I still have the smile when I leave the garage.

“It is going back to: ‘Do you enjoy it?’ Last year was a really tough year for everyone, including me, but there were some really impactful moments. Will that be the case this year? We’ll see. Will I enjoy it as much, we’ll see. I am excited now, so I am sure I will.”

Hamilton has used the break to recover after testing positive for coronavirus in Bahrain, saying “I just kept to myself and was focused on recovery – because it wasn’t a quick situation – and getting myself back to full strength.”


Mercedes name three reserve drivers for 2021

Mercedes has named both its Formula E drivers Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries, as well as Esteban Gutierrez as its reserve drivers this season. De Vires had been linked to the role since signing to race for the team ahead of the 2019-20 FE season.

De Vries his maiden victory in Friday’s season opener in Diriyah in a dominant victory. In a press release, the team said, “We also have a strong reserve driver line-up for the 2021 season, with Stoffel Vandoorne continuing in the role alongside his Mercedes teammate in Formula E, Nyck de Vries.”

For the Dutch driver, it marks his first official role as a test driver, having been a development driver with McLaren when he was part of its young driver academy. He made his debut for the team alongside Vandoorne, in December’s post-season young driver test Abu Dhabi.

Gutierrez has not been listed as part of Mercedes’ lineup for the coming year, but it emerged last summer that his super licence had expired, making him ineligible to race in F1. This emerged at Silverstone last year when Racing Point needed to replace Sergio Perez after he tested positive for Coronavirus.

He explained because he hadn’t raced in F1 for the past three seasons, meaning he had to complete a 300km test to regain the super licence. De Vries has held enough points from junior categories to race in F1 since 2016, as well as clinching all of the required points in one go by winning the F2 title in 2019.

When Lewis Hamilton tested positive in Bahrain last year, the team opted to draft in junior driver George Russell from Williams for the weekend instead of placing Vandoorne in the cockpit.


Alpine launches first F1 car following rebrand

Alpine has launched its 2021 car the A521 online, the former Renault team has been rebranded to one of its sub-brands.

The livery on a black base incorporates the French tricolour flag, with blue, white and red being the dominant colours, but the team says it also represented the union between Enstone in Oxfordshire where its chassis is built and its Viry-Chatillon near Paris where its power train is built.

While the brand may be new to F1 they celebrated the heritage, they have in endurance racing. Two-times world champion Fernando Alonso is also returning to the team where he won two titles, he will partner Esteban Ocon. Alonso wasn’t present as he continues to recover from a cycling accident last month and due to travel restrictions.

Alonso is returning to the sport on a multi-year deal following two seasons out of the sport. He previously raced for Renault between 2003 and 2006, winning the world championship in 2005 and 2006. After one season at McLaren, he returned for 2008 on a two-year deal before leaving for Ferrari.

In a recorded message the Spaniard said, “I’m very excited to be back in Formula 1 and to be part of Alpine F1 Team’s next chapter in the sport. I’ve been working hard to prepare myself for racing back in Formula 1 and the target is to attack from the beginning.

“Driving the car for the first time is going to be a very exciting experience and I hope both factories can saviour the moment. We have a strong team and together with Esteban we must push on from last year and deliver results

Last year the team finished fifth in last year’s constructors’ championship, but scored three podium finishes to mark its first rostrum appearances since returning to F1 as a works outfit in 2016.

CEO of parent company Renault, Luca De Meo said, “It is a true joy to see the powerful, vibrant Alpine name on a Formula 1 car. New colours, new managing team, ambitious plans: it’s a new beginning, building on a 40-year history

Alpine has also appointed a new CEO Laurent Rossi following the departure of Cyril Abiteboul, while Davide Brivio has joined the team from Suzuki becoming racing director.

Rossi says the team aimed to continue the momentum they had last year where they scored podium to turn that into a regular occurrence, before going for there long term target of challenging for titles

Although the team will be targeting improvement from last year, some of the team’s focus will be on next years technical overhaul.

The Alpine A521 will make its first extended on-track appearance at the start of pre-season testing in Bahrain, which takes place from 12-14 March.


Kvyat joins Alpine as reserve driver

Daniil Kvyat has joined Alpine as the team’s reserve driver, the Russian was dropped by Red Bull from its sister team at the end of 2020. Alpha Tauri opted to replace him with Yuki Tsunoda who partners Pierre Gasly, bringing to an end his third stint with the team.

Kvyat will remain within the F1 paddock this year after Alpine announced on Tuesday that the Russian would be joining its lineup as a reserve driver for the 2021 campaign. At the team’s online launch, CEO Laurent Rossi said “We have a strong addition to the team in Daniil Kvyat, who is going to be our reserve driver for the season.”

“We’re pretty happy about that, because in a pandemic, it is important for us to have a strong backup, and Daniil has proven that he is a very quick and reliable driver in very difficult condition.”

Kvyat added, “So we are quite happy about this strong addition to our team. I am very excited to join the Alpine F1 Team family. The team has achieved some great results in the past year and is very technologically advanced. Development has been strong, and I am aiming to contribute to this positive trend.”

He says he will try to use his experience to help develop the car, believing as a reserve driver you need to remain sharp and was looking forward to integrating into the team in several different areas.

Kvyat lost his Red Bull seat to Max Verstappen in early 2016 following a difficult return to Toro Rosso (now Alpha Tauri) he was then dropped at the end of 2017. After a year with Ferrari, he then returned to the team in 2019 taking a shock podium for the team at that year’s German Grand Prix.

He was overlooked for a promotion back to Red Bull, though, and with the emergence of Tsunoda in F2 last year, was left without a seat for 2021.


Two Americans handed over for aiding Ghosn’s escape

Two Americans Michael Taylor and his son Peter Taylor have been handed over to Japanese authorities for helping the former boss of Renault’s parent company Carlos Ghosn flea the country. The two were charged last year with helping Mr Ghosn flee Japan, hidden in a box and on a private jet.

Mr Ghosn escaped to his childhood home, Lebanon, which has no extradition treaty with Japan. The Taylor’s have fought a months-long battle to avoid extradition over the case.

Last month the US Supreme Court cleared the way for the extradition of the Taylors, who have been in US custody since their arrest in May.

The Massachusetts men have been locked up at a suburban Boston jail since their arrest in May. They were handed over to Japanese officials early on Monday, according to their lawyers.

Michael Taylor is a private security specialist and US Army Special Forces veteran. He once run a private military contractor that focused on helping people on helping people escape difficult situations overseas. According to a profile in Vanity Fair, he has completed nearly two dozen escape operations, charging clients anywhere from $20,000 to $2m per job.

According to NHK CCTV footage showed Mr Ghosn leaving his house and walking about to a nearby hotel, where he joined two other men. The three then boarded a train to Osaka and went to a hotel near Kansai international airport.

It is believed Mr Ghosn was concealed in one of two large, black box-like luggage cases, which was then loaded onto a private jet without being checked by the authorities.

A Turkish court has already convicted the Turkish jet company MNG and two pilots for their involvement.

Ghosn was arrested in November 2018 on charges of financial misconduct after allegedly under-reporting his pay package for the five years to 2015. A number of other charges followed, including an accusation by Nissan that he directed money from the company for his own personal enrichment.

In a press conference following his escape, he denied charges of financial wrongdoing in Japan, claiming the country’s justice system was “rigged”. He described himself as a “hostage” in the country with a choice between dying there or running.


Mazepin believes he can move on from groping incident

Nikita Mazepin believes he has done enough to move on from the controversy following a video where he groped a woman’s breast insisting, he has learnt from what happened.

The Russian driver posted a video on Instagram on Dec. 9 which showed him touching a woman in the back of a car. The video was promptly deleted but captured and circulated on social media.

Haas condemned the actions and launched an internal disciplinary action, while Liberty and the FIA condemned the move but said it was not their responsibility to deal with the incident.

Haas released a statement saying it dealt with the matter internally. ESPN says it has learnt that Mazepin was not sent on an awareness course, as was speculated at the time. When approached for comment, Haas referred back to its original statement on the matter.

In his first interview with the broadcaster since the incident, the Russian said, “First of all it’s very important to say that my actions in December about the whole incident were incorrect. I do take the full responsibility for it.”

“It was a very big learning experience, and I can confidently say that I’m much further in my knowledge on this kind of matter than I used to be, so there’s a small bit of positivity there.”

Mazepin also said he has not had any contact with the woman since the incident.

The whole incident prompted a backlash on social media with the hashtag #WeSayNoToMazepin, whenever he or Haas have posted things on social media in the last few months a flurry of replies with the hashtag have been sent,

When asked what steps he has taken to educate himself, Mazepin replied: “I totally understand they are correct in their feelings and that I was not correct with my actions. I’m not proud of it. It’s important to progress.”

The Russian driver believes his actions on the race track will be enough to redeem his reputation in the eyes of fans. Saying, “The people who are with me over the past 21 years know who I am. It’s very difficult to be fake for people and I’m far from that. I will be myself outside of the track, like I’ve been. I’ve had my ups and my lows, but that’s part of life. I think the racing should do the speaking, mostly.”


Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.