Verstappen showed “champion’s quality”
Red Bull’s motorsport boss Helmut Marko, says that Max Verstappen showed “champion’s quality” in his drive to victory in the Austrian Grand Prix.
Marko praised the way Verstappen controlled the race from the front and says his victory was reminiscent of the Dutchman’s maiden win on his Red Bull debut in 2016. He told Motorsport.com, “All these critics that were talking in the beginning of the year, he showed them that it was absolute rubbish. He had to nurse the tyres, and we also turned down the engine around mid-race, because of safety reasons and technical reasons.”
“He still managed to keep up this speed which was necessary to keep Raikkonen behind, and only three or four laps from the end, when it was three seconds, did we turn the engine up. He was so smooth, he controlled it, he never got any panicking whatsoever. It was like Barcelona , a little bit.”
Verstappen has come in for criticism this season after the opening few races saw him make a number of errors, but he is currently on a run of three consecutive podiums.
Marko continued: “He’s grown up. He punished himself very much, he could be battling for the championship. Sometimes there was bad luck, there were only two stupid accidents, one was Monte Carlo and the other one was in China with [Sebastian] Vettel.
“But at 20 years old to drive such a race, that shows what champion’s quality he has. He’s done three good races now, and all three were unbelievable.”
Marko made it clear that the team’s first win in its home circuit meant a lot to Red Bull.
“More than happy. It was 2014, the first GP on this circuit, and it’s always been won by Mercedes. So the first time our win, and we beat Mercedes.
Ricciardo set to sign Red Bull deal – Horner
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says that Daniel Ricciardo is set to say with the team unless Lewis Hamilton suddenly announces his retirement in the next few days.
The Australian, who celebrated his birthday on Sunday, has been assessing his options for the future. However, over the last month, it has become clear that the sports biggest two teams Mercedes and Ferrari, are unlikely to sign him.
Horner, said in a press briefing, “We’ve now got to the point where there is a desire from both sides to continue the relationship. So it’s just a matter of now really going through the detail and coming to a conclusion which will certainly be done prior to the summer break.”
With Mercedes winning the last four drivers’ and constructors’ championships and trading the lead with Ferrari this year, Horner recognised the champions could have lured Ricciardo away.
“I think that had Mercedes put a serious offer on the table, or an offer, he would have been potentially interested. He’s impatient to try and challenge for a world title so I think he would have had his head turned in the event of a Mercedes or a Ferrari offer but I think those two teams look pretty set where they are.”
Mercedes are expected to announce in the next few days, that Hamilton has signed a new contract and his teammate Valtteri Bottas is also expected to re-sign.
Asked whether Ricciardo would get equal money to 20-year-old Dutch hotshot Max Verstappen, winner in Austria last weekend, Horner said only that each had their own value.
Bottas says poor results is “bad luck”
Valtteri Bottas says that his recent run of bad luck this season has become a “bad joke.” The latest case of bad luck came in Austria when he was forced to retire from the race with an engine failure.
Bottas was on course for the win in Baku, before he picked up a puncture in the closing laps and in Paul Ricard he was taken out in a first corner incident. His retirement has dropped him to last of the top three teams and is sixth in the driver’s championship with a fifty-four point deficit to Sebastian Vettel.
He told ESPN, “The luck I’m having this year feels like a bit of a bad joke at the moment,” Bottas said. “My start was not ideal. I had quite a bit of wheelspin and there was less grip than we expected, so I dropped a few places.”
“Going into Turn 3, I could recover two places and was back in second place. After that the car felt strong, we were running well, but then I suddenly experienced a loss of hydraulic pressure.”
“There was nothing I could have done to prevent the DNF. I guess it was just not meant to be today – but one day it will be.
No change to strategy for Mercedes
Mercedes have ruled out making changes to their strategy team following the “painful” Austrian Grand Prix, which saw the current champions lose the lead of both the drivers and constructors championships.
For the third time this season, the current champions were caught out by a Virtual, or full, Safety Car period with then-race leader Lewis Hamilton the only leading car not to pit for fresh tyres under a VSC on lap 15. That meant that Lewis Hamilton dropped to fourth, prompting chief strategist James Vowles to apologise.
However, Hamilton race ended in retirement because of an engine failure. CEO Toto Wolff has insisted that the team doesn’t need to make changes.
He told Sky Sports, “The most important thing is to understand why an error happens and go back into the situation and analyse. I don’t think that we would make an error twice, it’s just the situation is very different this year, and very complex.
Wolff says the initial priority was the recovery of Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes after it pulled off the circuit with a hydraulics fault.
After losing three positions by the time he pitted nine laps later, a perplexed Hamilton said the team had “thrown away the win” to which Vowles replied: “I have thrown away the win, but you have the potential opportunity to get back up”.
Wolff says that the team believed that the could of recovered the lost ground, and they were all paying for the mistake they had made. He says that the teams believed that by admitting the error they could have helped recover lost ground, as Hamilton wouldn’t be questioning himself.
Vettel says drivers are to blame for excessive penalties
Sebastian Vettel believes that he and other drivers have by “whinging and complaining” brought on excessive penalties. The four times champion was awarded a three-place penalty for impeding Carlos Sainz during Q2 in Austria.
Vettel said after qualifying that Ferrari had not informed him of Sainz approaching, though the stewards ruled that “being aware of the issue of rear vision with his mirrors” he should have come off the racing line just in case.
Following the race, when he converted sixth on the grid to third place, Vettel remained frustrated but felt drivers’ actions in recent years had pressured stewards into a too-stringent policy. He explained “ I wasn’t told, I tried to look out for him, I don’t want to drag on about it, but… The rule book’s now so fricking big.”
“I think it’s a result of all the drivers, all of us, I think we’ve more or less all been there, whinging and complaining, ‘oh he’s done this, he’s done that’. In the end, you should let us sort it out on track, that’s my belief.”
Sainz was sanguine about the qualifying incident, accepted that Vettel blocked him accidentally. The Spaniard said “I feel like this situation is sometimes more the engineers’ fault, not the driver’s fault, for not letting you know someone is coming.”
Race director Charlie Whiting, says the stewards might in future look more at the consequences of an incident for others, rather than focusing on the scale of the perpetrators’ mistake or their intentions, when deciding penalties.
He acknowledged that had that theory been employed in Austria, Vettel’s punishment might have been lighter because Sainz still progressed to Q3.
2019 to start earlier
The organisers of the Australian Grand Prix have announced that next years race will be held a week earlier. The race in Melbourne will be held in mid-March, despite the race being held on the last weekend of the month, to co-inside with clock changes in Europe.
The reason for moving the race back a week is to help avoid a triple-header in mid-summer. Sunday’s British Grand Prix is the third race in three weeks, with five held in six weeks in June and July.
The Australian Grand Prix Corporation, which announced the new date, said it was subject to official ratification by the FIA, but there is no reason to believe it will change. This year’s race took place on 25 March. No other dates have been announced.
Next years calendar is expected to feature twenty-one races, with the addition of Miami replacing the German Grand Prix. However, both races are subject to confirmation.
Also Honda who own the Suzuka circuit which holds the Japanese Grand Prix, don’t yet have a contract. But Honda will be keen for the race to continue.