Wolff confident that drivers won’t reach breaking point
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says he has confidence that the relationship between Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will never reach breaking point like it did between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Bottas took his first Grand Prix victory in Sochi on Sunday, while Hamilton had to settle for fourth after he struggled with his car and tyres during the race.
Bottas’s win has brought the Finn back into the title race as well as prompting questions about how they would get on if they were fighting for the title. However, Wolff insists the relationship between the two is healthy and “completely different” to when Nico Rosberg partnered Hamilton through a rocky four years.
Wolff told ESPN “The relationship between the two of them is very much intact. Lewis was one of the first to congratulate Valtteri on his first race victory and that shows the respect they have towards each other.”
“Nevertheless both are fierce competitors and want to win races and fight for the championship, but I don’t think it will affect the team dynamic like it did with Nico. That was a completely different relationship.”
Bottas’s win has clearly proved the doubters wrong and put him only ten points behind Hamilton in the championship. The Finn looked more comfortable in Sunday’s race and has got his win earlier in his time at Mercedes than Hamilton did.
Wolff described Bottas as “an outstanding driver and a very deserved winner.”
Adding “He is going to be very happy about this milestone that he has achieved but now it is about looking forward.”
Sauber sources McLaren gearbox
Autosport says they understand that Sauber has concluded a deal to use the gearbox of McLaren from next season. On Sunday, the Swiss team announced it was ending its association with Ferrari will finish at the end of this season, joining McLaren in being powered by Honda.
Sources told the magazine that in another deal, Sauber has agreed to use the McLaren gearbox. But, team principal Monisha Kaltenborn has been tight-lipped on the reports. Saying that “I can say nothing on that.”
“Details on the transmission side will not be disclosed right now. We’ll see in time. No further details at this stage, it is too early, really.” In recent years, Sauber has sourced its gearbox as part of the Ferrari power unit.
McLaren supplied gearboxes to Force India, while both teams were powered by Mercedes.
The deal indicates McLaren is at least already committed to creating a gearbox that mates with Honda’s 2018 engine, even though suggestions it will return to using Mercedes engines linger.
Everything went wrong – Steiner
Gunther Steiner says his Haas team ended the Russian Grand Prix “pissed off” after a weekend where “everything that can go wrong went wrong.”
Romain Grosjean struggled all weekend, qualifying twentieth before a collision with Jolyon Palmer saw him retire on the first lap. Meanwhile, Kevin Magnussen who was running well, lost ground because of a five-second penalty for exceeding track limits at turn two.
Steiner told Autosport “I’m pissed off with the weekend, as you get when you have a weekend like this. Almost everything that can go wrong went wrong.” He, however, accepts that the penalty awarded to Magnussen was far.
The Dane went wide at Turn Two to avoid the mess at the corner, however, he failed to re-join the circuit behind the bollard. He hoped that Felipe Massa’s back past would have been enough to avoid the penalty.
Steiner said “I’m not even trying to argue it, we were told and we didn’t do it. You live by your choices. [Without the penalty, points] would have been possible but I don’t know – It would have been a tough battle.”
Renault’s good step – Hulkenberg
Nico Hulkenberg believes that Renault made a “good step” with their race pace, even though the team has had made a good start to the season, following their return to the sport last season.
The Anglo-French team has had a strong start to the season, with Hulkenberg getting into Q3 in Bahrain and team-mate Jolyon Palmer, joining him in Bahrain. The result means that Renault is currently eighth in the constructors’ championship.
A new front wing in Russia, aimed at helping fix the deficit, and Hulkenberg finished where he started – eighth – despite dropping to 10th on a messy first lap.
Asked by Autosport, if he felt Renault’s race pace had improved, Hulkenberg said “Yes, definitely, that’s fair to say. Still not entirely happy, I think there’s still more work to do.
“For my taste, there’s still a little bit too much of an offset between the two [qualifying and race pace]. But I think we definitely did a good step in the right direction this weekend in this case.”
Hulkenberg praised the team’s strategy saying he is really happy with the way the team played the race.
Pirelli plan for old cars to test wet tyres
Pirelli is planning to carry out some of their wet weather tests using the old specification cars, despite the huge discrepancy in downforce levels.
The Italian manufacturer has already built wet weather testing in with Red Bull following Monaco at Paul Ricciard and with McLaren in July following Silverstone at Magny-Cours.
The rest of the tests this year will be focused on the dry tyre, but Pirelli can request more track time, using older cars. Last week, the Strategy Group agreed that Pirelli can talk to teams about the availability of 2015 machinery to do the job.
Pirelli still believes it can benefit from such testing, despite having to use the previous smaller rim sizes and the reduced downforce.
Pirelli F1 boss Mario Isola, Told Motorsport.com. “W believe that we can have a few additional sessions for wets and intermediates, where we can test some ideas on previous cars and older sizes.”
“Of course we have some baselines, so we can compare the new ideas to the baselines, and have some indication for the development of the current sizes,” Isola admitted there would be comprises as the cars will have different downforce levels.
He says that the idea is to test something on the previous car which gives them direction then test them on the current cars.
Isola said all the teams have been given the opportunity to provide a car, with the full costs of the sessions paid by Pirelli.
Best chance of podium following updates – Ricciardo
Red Bull’s best chance of scoring a podium in the first half of the season will come following the Barcelona upgrade, according to Daniel Ricciardo.
It has been a very hard start to the season when Red Bull had been widely expected to benefit the most following the regulation changes. Ricciardo has retired from two races because of brake failures.
But, Red Bull are bringing a significant upgrade aiming at closing the gap to the front runners. Ricciardo Told ESPN “It will definitely be our best hope for the short term to get any closer to the podium.
“I probably won’t go as far as saying [it would dictate our] whole season, but it would probably dictate if we are going to be on the podium in the first half of the races.”
So far Red Bull has been unable to match Ferrari and Mercedes on race pace. With Max Verstappen managed to finish fifth but was over a minute down on race winner Valtteri Bottas. Red Bull sits third in the constructors’ championship