F1 Today – Dutch Prixview – 02/09/2021

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Verstappen calls on fans not to boo Hamilton

Max Verstappen says it is not up to him to stop Dutch fans from booing Lewis Hamilton at Zandvoort this weekend but has urged his title rival to send a “powerful message” by not responding if they do.

Since the two title contenders collided at Silverstone the seven-time champion has been booed by mainly Verstappen and Dutch fans, this weekend is expected to have a more partisan atmosphere this weekend as the ‘Orange Army’ descends on Zandvoort for the first Dutch Grand Prix since 1985.

He called on his fans to be “professional” but stressed he won’t be telling them what or what not to do. Verstappen told Sky Sports, “I look at it like this; you go to a football match and you come to a home ground, the opposition will be booed at some point.”

“I’m pretty sure that most of them are here to have a great weekend and see some cars racing, and of course some of them will boo. But I cannot decide for them. Of course, I can say you can do it or you cannot do it, but do you really think they’re going to listen to me?”

Verstappen says however he is not saying that it’s correct that the booing happens, but says it’s natural instincts. He pointed out that Hamilton has already said he isn’t bothered by it, so that’s the most important thing.

Hamilton acknowledged the booing was “naturally something you would expect” at Zandvoort, and that while he did not agree with it, he would look to channel the energy into a positive.

He added, “I’ve never been someone that would go to an event and boo, but I understand it. You see it in football events, the passion that the fans have, or the dislike that some of them have of their opponents. But I respect it.”

Hamilton says the people who support him are probably a small portion in the grandstands out there, and I admire them for being able to withstand the boos too.

Asked if he would ever feel a need to tell his own home fans, not to boo, Hamilton replied: “Well, fortunately, the British fans don’t do the booing. They’re amazing, the British fans. I think they’re just there for a great weekend. I don’t think I’ve heard booing from the British fans for anyone in my time”

Looking ahead to the weekend, he Verstappen, “I think what we have to try and aim for is a great weekend for everyone and I’m sure the fans will enjoy. If there would be a little bit of booing, I guess just close your ears and don’t listen to it.”

“At the end of the day if you don’t respond, that is the most powerful message you can give to them. I think when you don’t respond to someone they feel like it’s not working, for me at least it works like that.”

 

Mercedes is in “difficult” position if it signs Russell – Verstappen

Max Verstappen believes George Russell would make things “very difficult” for Lewis Hamilton if he were to become the seven-time world champion’s Mercedes teammate next year. Mercedes are believed to announce in the next few weeks after CEO Toto Wolff said at Spa, a decision has been made.

Russell is widely expected to get the seat, having been part of Mercedes’ junior programme since 2017 and starred during his time with Williams in F1 since debuting in 2019, as well as impressing in a one-off appearance for Mercedes in last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix after Hamilton tested positive for Coronavirus.

Asked by Motorsport.com for his view on the potential move would change the team dynamic at Mercedes, Verstappen said he thought Spa runner-up Russell would “make it very difficult for Lewis”.

Verstappen said, “He jumped into the car in Bahrain, and basically he was already from lap one making it very difficult for Valtteri. So you can only imagine the more experience you gain in that car, and the more you get accustomed within the team, naturally, you’re going to be becoming faster.”

“When you do your first race, you are guided by the team about set-up direction, because you just don’t know what to do really, initially, with the car. Even though of course F1 cars look pretty similar, the way of setting them up can be very different.”

Verstappen says Russell’s performance at Spa was really good and he was expecting him to do well if he gets the Mercedes seat.

Verstappen currently finds himself in a close battle with Hamilton for the F1 drivers’ championship, sitting just three points behind after his half points victory at Spa last weekend. He goes into his second home race looking to return to the top of the standings after crashing out in Budapest and half points a Spa.

Looking ahead to Zandvoort, he said, “They’ve done an incredible job setting this all up, first of all hosting a Grand Prix, but also now how you look at the whole complex as a whole.”

 

Hamilton calls for “free race” following Spa washout

Lewis Hamilton would like to see give fans a “free race” at Spa to make up for last Sunday’s washout at the Belgian Grand Prix. Sunday’s race at Spa was abandoned after a four-hour delay and two full laps behind the safety car.

It marked the shortest race in F1 history to have a result, beating the previous record held by the 1991 Australian Grand Prix that lasted only fourteen laps. By meeting the minimum requirement for a classification, half points could be awarded.

Seven-time F1 world champion Hamilton was outspoken after the race, calling it a “farce” and saying that the decision to run the two laps behind the safety car was purely for commercial reasons. He called on F1 to issue a refund to the fans who attended the race on Sunday, believing they had been “robbed of a race”.

While a rescheduling of the race at Spa seems to be out of the question for this year, Hamilton said that a free race for the fans would be something he would support. He told Motorsport.com, “I’d absolutely come back,” Hamilton said. “I love it here so if there is a way we could find a window where it wasn’t raining and we give the fans a free race, that would be great.”

Hamilton’s idea was supported by George Russell, who scored his maiden F1 podium at Spa after his charge to second place in qualifying. Russell said, “If we did have to have a replacement race [this year], I would have nothing against coming back here.”

“Obviously [it is] one of the best races and circuits in the world, and obviously so many fans who probably love Formula 1 who live locally or in Belgium didn’t have the opportunity to see what they came here for.

The FIA has already announced the F1 Commission and teams will meet with teams at the start of next month to discuss a possible change to the regulations to prevent a repeat of Sunday’s events.

 

Russell says knows his future

George Russell says he has been told where he is driving in the 2022, as Lewis Hamilton praised his young compatriot as an “incredibly talented driver”. Although Mercedes has not announced who will partner the seven-time champion next year, its widely expected Russell will be announced as Lewis Hamilton’s teammate.

On Wednesday, Kimi Raikkonen announced that he was retiring from the sport at the end of the year, which is expected to path the way for Bottas to replace him at Alfa Romeo.

Speaking in the press conference ahead of the Dutch Grand Prix, Russell said, “The truth is there’s nothing to announce but I’m aware of the situation of where I’ll be racing next year.”

Russell, whose career is managed by Mercedes, said he was informed ahead of Spa last week. The promotion of Russell would create a mouth-watering all-British partnership at Mercedes, the first team to have a all British line-up in a decade.

Hamilton spoke glowingly about his young countryman and praised Russell for his first podium at Spa last week. He said, “I honestly think it would be good. George is an incredibly talented driver, clearly. I’d say probably the only highlight from last week was his qualifying lap, it was amazing.”

“He’s humble, he’s got a great approach, naturally being British I would imagine probably helps in terms of communication. At the moment, naturally, I have to be super supportive of the team-mate I have right now, so that’s why I’m always supportive of Valtteri because we have a job to do right now.”

Hamilton described Russell as a members of the future of the sport, saying he is humble and has a great approach. But he has a super supportive of the team-mate I have right now, and Russell was one of the members of the future of the sport.

Speaking about last weekend he added, “The only good thing that came from the weekend was George’s lap really. It was absolutely amazing. Seeing the excitement from his team – that’s what this sport’s about. It’s been a long, long wait for Williams to have a result like that, it was a shame it wasn’t an actual real race.”

 

Bottas “excited” about his future

Valtteri Bottas wants to secure a multi-year Formula One contract as part of any deal for 2022, saying he is “happy” and “excited” about what next year could hold. Mercedes have been deciding who will partner Lewis Hamilton next season, with it widely expected that he will be replaced by George Russell.

Should Bottas leave Mercedes, a move to Alfa Romeo is thought to be on the cards after the team placed him at the top of its shortlist for 2022 if he became available. Something which will gather momentum in the coming weeks, after Bottas’s Finnish compatriot Kimi Raikkonen announced his retirement on Wednesday.

Asked if he knew where he would be racing next year, Bottas replied: “Maybe I do, maybe I don’t.” A repeat of his answer from last week at Spa. He said that news on his future would not arrive this weekend.

Bottas has always been on one-year contracts with Mercedes after initially signing for the team in 2017 as a late replacement for Nico Rosberg following the German’s retirement. He has previously said he would like his next contract to be multi-year and being part of a challenging and exciting project.

Adding, “That’s something I’ve never had before in Formula 1. That could definitely give you a good, full commitment to the team not just that year, but knowing that the work continues. It needs to be challenging. It needs to be exciting. It needs to be fun, in an atmosphere that I really enjoy working with.”

 

Raikkonen announces retirement

Kimi Raikkonen has announced he will retire from F1 at the end of the season. In a twenty-year career, the Finn has won twenty-one Grand Prix in his two decades in the sport has seen him claim twenty-one wins from three-hundred and forty-one starts.

Since starting his F1 career in 2001, he has raced for Sauber, McLaren, Ferrari, Lotus and current team Alfa Romeo and has finished on the podium more than 100 times. He finishes his career where it all began with Alfa Romeo, which was rebranded from Sauber in 2018.

Raikkonen wrote on Instagram: “It was not an easy decision but after this season it is time for new things. F1might come to an end for me but there is a lot more in life that I want to experience and enjoy.”

The Finn has become an icon of the sport, as his driving. He cemented his place in F1 folklore on his way to victory for Lotus in the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, when he replied to a radio message from his engineer Simon Rennie by saying: “Just leave me alone, I know what to do.”

Since returning to the sport following a two-year break in 2012, he has won three races, but his second stint at Ferrari saw him play second fiddle to Sebastian Vettel. Raikkonen’s arrival in F1, would not happen today he had only raced in Formula Renault – three rungs below F1 on the motorsport progression ladder – before he was given his debut by Sauber.

In the test in which he convinced the Swiss team to sign him, he impressed a watching Michael Schumacher. Although then FIA president Max Mosley said he thought it had been wrong to give someone so inexperienced an F1 licence, Raikkonen immediately proved him wrong by scoring a point for sixth place on his debut in Melbourne.

His impressive debut season saw McLaren sign him, replacing Mikka Häkkinen, he then built a reputation as one of the fastest drivers in the sport coming close to the world title in 2003 and 2005.

Arguably his greatest victory came in the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix, which he won from 17th on the grid. But relations with team boss Ron Dennis soured, and Raikkonen was attracted to Ferrari for the 2007 season – a contract that was signed a year and a half before he joined the team.

Replacing Schumacher, he became an even match for teammate Felipe Massa, a strong late season run saw him close hefty points deficit to score an unlikely championship win. He pipped Lewis Hamilton to what would have been a fairy-tale debut season denning him a championship by a single point.

His final two seasons of his first stint at Ferrari saw him outshone by Felipe Massa and he was replaced by Fernando Alonso taking a break from the sport. He was later lured back by Lotus, now Alpine, in 2012, Raikkonen and team-mate Romain Grosjean were evenly matched over the two seasons for speed. But Raikkonen’s experience and savvy often gave him an edge when it came to delivering results.

He took the two wins in Melbourne and Abu Dhabi, but some team insiders felt the car was good enough at the time to have won the title had Alonso been in it. Alonso meanwhile was losing confidence in Ferrari, the year he replaced Massa, with him returning to McLaren it allowed Raikkonen to return to Ferrari.

Alonso left and was replaced by four-time champion Sebastian Vettel for 2015, Raikkonen’s position as a de facto number two continued. Vettel, too, proved the consistently superior driver, but Raikkonen’s experience, compliance and friendly relationship with the German won him a second contract at the end of 2016.

But the rise of Charles Leclerc in 2018 put Ferrari in a difficult position, a rising star against a safe pair of hands but ones which have been out-performed by Vettel. Leclerc immediately justified Ferrari’s decision by out-performing Vettel in his first season with the team, and carving himself a status as the legendary marque’s new lead driver.

His career then became full circle, with him returning to Sauber now called Alfa Romeo. Alfa Romeo kept him partly because of the status his image gave a team struggling to grab attention at the back of the grid.

 

Drivers call for limit minimise flare usage

Several drivers have called on fans attending the Dutch Grand Prix to keep smoke flares “to a minimum” after their usage at Spa obscured a section of the circuit. Images from the circuit and surrounding town has shown huge popularity ahead of the races return after thirty-six years.

Reports and images from the circuit shows fans also queued up on the access roads on the approach to the circuit entrance in an attempt to spot drivers arriving on site.

But some racers, led by Mick Schumacher, have called for a degree of understanding with the use of the popular but “very smelly” orange smoke flares.

Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez reckoned he felt embraced by the home crowd, saying “I’m sure they’re supporting the whole team”, the Mexican added that “we are all expecting a bit of a crazy weekend.”

Haas driver Schumacher went further and addressed spectators, requesting them to limit the use of the smoke flares seen most recently at the Belgian Grand Prix last weekend. Schumacher said: “Everybody’s looking forward to [the event]. Big support. [But] I was going to say.”

“I hope they’re not as many flares because like in Spa, it just all came on to the track. It also smells very badly, and it sits in the cockpit all the time. So yeah, guys, keep it to a minimum please”.

Alpine driver Esteban Ocon, who was in the same pre-event press conference as Schumacher, reckoned the orange smoke at Spa had enveloped one of the turns. He continued: “We couldn’t see in one corner for the whole race.”

Ocon says when he arrived in Zandvoort on Wednesday it was fanatic to see how the town transforms.

 

Decision on second DRS Zone on Friday

Organisers of the Dutch Grand Prix are still hoping that the FIA will allow DRS to be used through the banked final corner once F1 drivers have got a first taste of the track. Ahead of the circuits return to the calendar this weekend, one of the modifications to the Arie Luyendyk corner.

But although the 18-degrees of banking was constructed after both FIA and F1 simulations showed it would allow cars to run through there with their rear wings open, ahead of the weekend it has emerged that DRS will not be allowed. Instead, the second DRS Zone will run from just after the corner and run for 600m towards Tarzan.

While the situation has caused some surprise to Dutch GP officials, who are well aware of how difficult overtaking is going to be, there remains some hope of a change of heart if F1 cars have no trouble navigating the banked bend on Friday.

Jan Lammers, who is sporting director of the Dutch Grand Prix, told Motorsport.com about the decision: “I was surprised, but not astonished. I think it’s normal that they want to look at the data and hear the reactions of the drivers first.”

“I think it’s sensible that they made that call and that they want to analyse the facts first. But I think the FOM will be the first to adjust it when they see it is safe to do so. Then that will happen immediately.”

The former F1 driver believes that a change could be as early as Friday night once the governing body has seen how the real situation through the corner matches what was shown on simulations.

He says the simulations have shown it seems possible, but they want to see it in real life first.

 

Zandvoort track limits

The FIA has announced that track limits will be imposed at the escape roads at Tarzan (Turn One), Masterbocht (Turn Eight) and Turn Ten as Zandvoort returns to the calendar for the first time since 1985.

At Tarzan, if any driver overshoots the corner they must take to the escape road which re-joins on the exit of the hairpin. At Masterbocht if a driver runs wide they must follow the escape road which re-joins the track at Turn Nine. While at Hans Ernst Bocht (Turn Eleven) drivers must follow the escape road and re-join at Turn Twelve

 

FIA announce plans for changes following Spa washout

FIA president Jean Todt has announced there will be changes to prevent a recurrence of Sundays Belgian Grand Prix. The ‘race’ eventually was abandoned after two laps behind the safety car because of heavy rain making it unsafe to race.

Todt, the president of governing body the FIA, said the rules would be reviewed “to see what can be learned and improved”. The matter will be discussed at a meeting of the F1 Commission on 5 October.

Heavy rain had prevented any competitive racing at the Spa-Francorchamps track. The event dragged on for three and a half hours as the FIA sought to find a window in which a race could be run in the heavy rain, but poor visibility meant conditions were deemed too dangerous to let the cars loose.

F1’s rules dictate two racing laps is the minimum for points to be awarded. These were completed behind the safety car at 18:17 local time and Max Verstappen was declared the winner. Todt insisted that officials had tried to run the race.

He told BBC News, “The weather windows predicted by the forecasters did not appear throughout the day, and while a small window did appear late in the day, during which there was an attempt to start the race, conditions quickly worsened again.”

“Therefore, due to the lack of visibility created by the spray behind the cars, we could not run the full race in sufficiently safe conditions for the drivers, marshals as well as the brave spectators who waited for many hours in the rain, for whom I am very sorry.”

 

The weekend ahead

Following Spa everyone wants a race and I hope the weather is better with typical conditions for this time of year. We have not had a race at Zandvoort in thirty-five years, so we need to treat it almost as a new race but I think looking at the maps, on-boards and images it is giving me Suzuka vibes.

Max Verstappen is going to be the favourite of the fans, on paper I think this is going to be a Red Bull circuit more than a Mercedes or we could see a surprise. Zandvoort comes possibly at the worst possible time for teams in between high speed circuits, but they should get on top of that early on.

Mercedes believe this could be the best race of the triple-header in terms of performance, that makes you wonder do we need to turn what we have come to expect from Mercedes in the hybrid era.

I expect Friday practice to be busy as drivers only have two hours to learn the circuit, we need to watch Ferrari could they spring another surprise. We could see that like in Budapest and Monaco, but I say McLaren again could be quick in the midfield with Ferrari being close. The other question is do teams comprise this weekend to be in a good position at Monza?

Williams I think could be in a good position, not because of George Russell’s front row last week based on their performance at Imola and Budapest, this is about downforce and straight line speed.  Their battle is now I think firmly starting to become in the midfield but not quite on the same level as Alpine and Alpha Tauri.

The news of Kimi Raikkonen’s retirement is going to be a talking point, two decades in or around F1 is always going to make it a topic. This will fuel speculation about Valtteri Bottas, he and Russell I think have alluded to knowing, if they do I am expecting confirmation at Monza.

 

You can join us for LIVE coverage of this weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix via Twitter @FormulaOneVault starting with FP1 Friday from 11:15  / 10:15 BST, Qualifying 14:45/13:45 and forward race coverage 14:30/13:30 lights out 15:00 / 14:00.
Jack

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.