F1 Today – 02/11/2021

F1 Today

Hamilton going to win eighth title – Rosberg

Lewis Hamilton’s former Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg believes the seven-time champion is still going to win his eighth world title, despite the extreme pressure from Max Verstappen.

The Hollywood blockbuster of this season’s championship is heading for an incredible finale with five races in six weeks to decide whether F1 has an eight-time or a first-time champion, with the Dutchman currently ahead by twelve points. Speaking to Sky News at COP26 in Glasgow, Rosberg backed his former teammate to take his seventh title in seven years.

The German said he felt it was “more Verstappen who is under pressure because it’s the first time he’s in this situation. Lewis has done this before, he’s already won seven titles, he’s been in a title fight towards the end of the season nine or 10 times.”

“For Max, it’s the first time ever and that is such an extreme situation to be in. It’s your dream that’s at stake, to be Formula One world champion, you don’t really know if you’ll ever have another chance, with the regulations changing next year you don’t know if the Red Bull is still going to be a fast car.”

Verstappen has shown little sign of the strain of a title fight against Hamilton, and claimed a marvellous victory ahead of his rival at the last race in Austin. A win in Mexico City would go a long way to him taking his first title.

Rosberg added “So far he’s been doing amazingly. One doesn’t even see that he’s under pressure, it’s incredible how he’s dealing with it. That’s why he’s also so strong at this point in time. Let’s see how it continues.”

 

Bottas “optimistic” of Mercedes strength Mexico City

Valtteri Bottas believes Mercedes should be stronger than in recent years at this weekends Mexico City Grand Prix, having “optimised” its power unit. The highest circuit of the season in the country’s capital at 2,000m, usually equalised engine performance because of the air is 25% less dense than normal.

In two of the last three races, the circuit has favoured Red Bull with Max Verstappen taking victory, while Bottas lost victory at the last race following a collision with the dutchman. The Finn recognises that the Mexican venue has been something of a “weakness” for Mercedes, but feels the progress made with its engine should translate into the team being more competitive this year.

Bottas still believes that Red Bull will still be difficult to beat. He told Motorsport.com, “For Mexico, we know it’s usually been a bit of a weakness for us and it feels like quite a big chunk has been in the recent years from the power unit, with the high altitude.”

“But I think we’ve been able to optimise a lot since, so I would expect us to be in a better place than in the recent years. Still, on paper, we think they’re really strong places for Red Bull and we’ve just really tried to do all the learnings we can from previous years and prepare the best that way.”

Mercedes CEO and team principal Toto Wolff believes Red Bull’s past success at the Mexican venue is no guarantee that it will be favourite for this year’s race given how the 2021 season has played out.

He added, “Mexico was traditionally a track that was difficult for us but this season everything can change because we’ve seen that where traditionally our strong ones and they haven’t, and vice versa so I think it’s really race by race.”

Lewis Hamilton goes into the final five races with a twelve points lead over Verstappen, while Mercedes leads the constructors’ championship by 23 points from Red Bull.

 

Ferrari look to take advantage at high altitude

Ferrari is hoping that the high altitude in Mexico City will give them even more advantage in their fight with McLaren in constructors’ championship. The two most successful teams in F1’s history, are separated by three and a half points in the fight for third with five races to go.

A recent engine upgrade having lifted its performance, the team is increasingly bullish about its prospects for the remainder of the campaign. In Austin, Charles Leclerc finished fourth, nearly twenty-five seconds ahead of McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo.

That performance is seen as significant, as on paper it wasn’t a circuit that should have favoured Ferrari because of Austin’s high-speed corners and long straights, is not one that should have especially favoured the Italian squad. I t is why Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto thinks that the unique nature of Mexico, where teams run with maximum wing, could be an even better hunting ground.

Binotto told Motorsport.com “In Mexico, we are running there with maximum downforce performance, and it is a track where power sensitivity is less important. So although there is still a gap to Mercedes [in power terms], I think the Mexico track will be in our favour compared to what we saw in Austin.”

He believes that the fact that Ferrari was much faster in Austin was significant because it was a venue that should have played to the strengths of McLaren. Saying that McLaren has always been always very competitive with the medium/high-speed corners.

Adding “I think if I look at the overall performance of the weekend, we were ahead of them: which was very obvious in qualifying, and Charles [in the race] was half a second on average ahead of Ricciardo, finishing 25 seconds ahead of him.”

Binotto believes over a single lap Ferrari has the faster car, on a circuit which shouldn’t have suited their car. This has made him pleased with the progress Ferrari has made giving him confidence for the races remaining this season.

 

Williams admit they will start testing on the back foot

Williams have admitted they will start 2022 testing “on the back foot” after deciding to miss this years second and post-season test in Abu Dhabi, after electing not to produce a mule car.

The two-day test is designed to give the teams the opportunities to test the new 18-inch tyre. But the teams have to adapt their suspension to deal with the larger tyres. Williams has elected against building a mule car just for the Abu Dhabi test, so looks set to miss the event completely.

Head of vehicle performance Dave Robson said: “Unfortunately we won’t be doing anything. We won’t be running there as we don’t have a mule car and that stops us from running at the test. My understanding is if you don’t have a mule car then you are not entitled to do the test. So we won’t be there.”

Robson explained the decision to not build a mule car was made for financial reasons, with Williams not convinced that the benefit of running at the Abu Dhabi test was worth the expense of creating a bespoke car.

While the test is the only opportunity for teams to experiment with the tyres prior to next year’s first pre-season test, Robson is in no doubt that Williams will be behind in its knowledge compared to its rivals. But he is convinced there is plenty of time to be able to catch up before the 2022 season gets fully underway.

Asked how much of a disadvantage he felt not running in the Abu Dhabi test would be, Robson said: “We’ve not done any exercise to put numbers on it. We know that the mule car would have been beneficial but unfortunately, at the time we had to commit to that, we just didn’t have the resource to do it.”

 

Right conditions “coming true” for Porsche to join F1

Porsche’s new vice-president of motorsport, Thomas Laudenbach, says the factors required for the manufacturer to join Formula One are “coming true”, but it cannot “wait too long” to make its final decision.

The Volkswagen Group which owns Porsche and Audi has been part of the discussions between engine manufacturers, F1 and Liberty Media about the new engine regulations are due to come in. Over the last two years, progress has been made in trying to frame new regulations to please both current teams and those outside of F1, with the MGU-H, set to be abandoned as a compromise.

While these discussions are continuing, one of the concerns has been about the advantage that any new manufacturer could be given to ensure they were not consigned to being uncompetitive against rivals with much more experience of the current turbo hybrids.

Porsche has been weighing up whether to enter the sport for many years, and had been experimenting with converting a WEC power unit for F1. That plan was abandoned when a shake up for 2026 was announced.

While its recent meetings have been overseen by CEO Oliver Blume, newly appointed vice-president of motorsport Thomas Laudenbach is now heavily involved in the decision-making process. He says the factors required in the next generation of power unit regulations for Porsche to commit to the championship are falling into place.

He told the media, “If you look into the future and you look at what car manufacturers are announcing concerning the share of electric vehicles they want to sell in the future, I think it is very important that Formula 1 does a shift towards electrification.”

“Yes, it is clear you can’t do such a format with a [fully] battery electric vehicle. We all know that. But there needs to be a much higher priority on the electric part of the powertrain. That is important. As an OEM, you want to show yourself in motorsport, it needs to be relevant to what happens on the road.”

During the round table event asked if F1 needed to go further and beyond the recently introduced cost cap, to increase the likelihood of Porsche committing. This would help balance the cost of increasing the electric capacity of the power units. Laudenbach suggested using more standardised parts in the internal combustion engine.

He added “there is no decision made yet. From what I know, a lot of things are going to the right direction concerning Formula One, how important is the electrification or the electric part of the powertrain. We would like to see more standard parts in the engine, the freedom of electric parts”.

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.