Haas inexperience cost them fourth
Haas team principal Gunther Steiner says that the inexperience ultimately cost the team fourth place in the constructor’s championship. The US-owned team had been locked in a narrow fight with Renault in the closing races and was unable to claim best of the rest behind the top three.
Although it lost out in that battle by 29 points in the end, Steiner says that there can be no regrets about how things turned out – because it was its own mistakes that ultimately cost it.
Steiner explained to Motorsport.com “I think it was our own fault that we didn’t finish fourth. It is part of the learning we are in as a team. We never have to forget that we are only in our third season.”
“To finish fifth is great – and to finish first of the privateers I would call it, because the guys in front are all works team except Red Bull, which works like a works team. There is always this ‘we could have been fourth’. But could and would doesn’t get you anything. So I decided to be happy with fifth.”
Steiner, however, accepted that the team had missed opportunities to score big points this season, including at the season opener in Melbourne when mistakes during both stops cost the team a potential fourth and fifth place finish.
However, he says that of more importance was that the team was able to learn from what went wrong so it did not make the same errors again. Saying “For me, it is important that if you make a mistake once, it is not okay, but the important thing is you don’t make the mistake a second time. That is when you call it learning.”
Steiner says that the team reacted rightly to that, adding that pit stops were slower post-Melbourne to allow the team to get it confidence and process back.
Ricciardo says goodbye to Red Bull
Daniel Ricciardo said goodbye to Red Bull when visiting the teams base in Milton Keynes on Friday. The Australian is leaving the British based team to join Renault, after announcing the shock move in early August.
His last day at Red Bull started with a ride on drift bikes around the facility with team-mate Max Verstappen before both drivers completed an autograph session with members of the team that lasted nearly two hours.
Team boss Christian Horner and Verstappen then addressed the team about the final two races of the season in the usual post-grand prix debrief, before a ‘#CheersDan’ highlights video was played celebrating Ricciardo’s time with the team.
In a Q&A with staff, he explained that he had altered the ‘Honey Badger’ decal on his helmet for his final race with the team as a way of paying tribute, adding wings and a can of Red Bull.
“The wings are significant for Red Bull but also for my departure. I thought it would be a nice little gesture. Honey Badger, he’s sipping some Red Bull and basically saying cheers for the memories.”
He added that he was glad he was only leaving and moving ‘next door’, rather than leaving the sport. He also thanked the team.
FIA releases 2019 entry list
The entry list for 2019 has officially been released by the FIA, with Force India officially being renamed as Racing Point from next season. The entry list was released earlier than expected after the team announced Lance Stroll was confirmed by the team.
The Canadian is the son of billionaire Lawrence, who led a consortium to purchase the team after it fell into administration in August. The team will officially take on the name of the consortium for next year, meaning the Force India title will be absent from the grid for the first time since 2007.
Williams drivers George Russell has retained is 63 as his permanent driver number which he used last year as a test driver, and teammate Robert Kubica has chosen 88. Kubica is returning to the sport seven years after a life-changing accident in 2011.
Lando Norris has chosen 4, which previously was used by Max Chilton. Numbers can only be reallocated once a driver has not participated in a race for two consecutive seasons, Chilton has not raced since the end of the 2014 season.
Antonio Giovinazzi who will make his full-time debut next year has retained his number 99 which he used when he raced for Sauber in the opening two races of 2017. Daniil Kvyat also retains his number 26.
Drivers are not allowed to choo0se 1 as Lewis Hamilton has the choice of using 1 or 44 next season as champion right, his 44 will be allocated to him until he retires. While 14, 8 and 2 remain allocated to Fernando Alonso, Marcus Ericsson and Stoffel Vandoorne until the end of 2020.
Seventeen is the only unused number not available to any driver. It was officially retired following the death of Jules Bianchi, who died in 2015 due to injuries sustained in an accident at the previous year’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Latifi joins Williams as reserve driver
Williams has announced that Nicholas Latifi will replace Robert Kubica as the team’s test and reserve driver for 2019 after it was announced that the Polish driver would return to a race seat with the team next season.
The Canadian will take part in six practices, one day of pre-season and two in-season tests as well as Pirelli tyre tests for the team next season. His main focus will be based on the simulator helping the team to develop there 2019 car.
The twenty-three-year-old, told Sky Sports I’m thrilled to be joining an iconic team like Williams as a reserve driver for 2019. It’s a fantastic opportunity to continue my F1 development.”
“I look forward to spending time in the factory at Grove, immersing myself within the team and assisting wherever I can. This is an amazing opportunity that I’ve been given and I’m excited to get started.”
The team added ‘Latifi will be fully immersed into the team both trackside and in the factory at Grove whilst undertaking simulator sessions.’
Deputy team principal, Claire Williams added: “We are certain he will be a great fit for the team and we look forward to working with Nicholas next season.”
Sirotkin thought it was “obvious” he would stay
Sergey Sirotkin believes it was looking “quite obvious” until the very end that he would get a second season with Williams. The Russian made his debut for the team this season, however, his backers have decided to spilt with the team.
SMP Racing has said that its decision to split with Williams was because of Williams’s poor performance and is understood to have lacked faith it would be a worthwhile investment next year.
Williams has signed Robert Kubica to partner George Russell for next season. Sirotkin told Motorsport.com: ”I would strongly hope for [a second season] and it looked like it was the case. It looked quite obvious it would be the case for quite a while. But it’s F1, it’s a difficult world.”
“To get success there are also many, many different parameters which unfortunately most of the time aren’t up to the performance of the driver or whatever.”
The Muscovite cored a solitary point in his rookie season, aided by Romain Grosjean’s disqualification at the Italian Grand Prix. However, he defeated teammate Lance Stroll in the qualifying battle despite Stroll’s extra year’s experience and beat him in eight times they both finished.
Sirotkin had hoped that something would change in the last few weeks, but the discussions made it clear that it wasn’t going the way he wanted.
Asked to reflect on what being a Grand Prix driver was like compared to his expectations, Sirotkin reiterated comments earlier in the season that he could probably have been less intensive with his off-track commitments at the Williams factory.
Hamilton suffers small crash during Superbike test
Lewis Hamilton escaped uninjured from a motorbike crash in a private test at Circuito de Jerez-Ángel Nieto on Sunday. Reports in Gazzetta dello Sport, say the five times champion was riding a works Yamaha used in this year’s World Superbike championship.
The private test, organised by British track day firm No Limits, riding a completely black bike with stickers bearing his racing number 44. His day was hampered by a small crash, but he escaped the incident without injury and was able to continue riding afterwards.
Hamilton was mentored by fellow Englishman Cal Crutchlow, who rides for LCR Honda and finished seventh in the Moto GP riders world championship this season.
Mercedes sweep the Autosport Awards
Lewis Hamilton has been named British Competition Driver and International Racing Driver of the Year, at the Autosport Awards. The five-times champion won his sixth award in both categories beating Sebastian Vettel.
His Mercedes team also won the Racing car off the year, despite the W09 proved tricky to master in the early part of the season, Hamilton won four of the five races immediately after the summer break to build a commanding lead in the drivers’ championship, before sealing his fifth crown with two races to spare at October’s Mexican Grand Prix.
Mercedes CEO and team principal Toto Wolff was named as the winner of the John Bolster Award, which is awarded to an organisation or person that has made an exceptional contribution to motorsport technology. Wolff oversaw Mercedes’ latest clean sweep of the constructors’ and drivers’ titles in 2018 to make it five championship doubles in a row.
Ferrari bound Charles Leclerc was named rookie of the year for the second year in a row, following his impressive debut season at Sauber. The Monacan said “It has been a great season. I did not expect it to be so positive or the promotion.”
“That is quite crazy and I don’t quite fully realise what is happening. The first the three races were quite difficult, a lot to learn and new things. After that, it went smooth and it was a great year and it was not positive without a great team behind me unlocking the car.
The sport’s governing body and FIA president Jean Todt were jointly given The Pioneering and Innovation Award for implementing the halo cockpit protection safety system.
Eyes now turn to St Petersburg for this weekend’s FIA conference where the governing body has its annual Prize Giving this weekend, as well as national awards like BBC Sports Personality in Birmingham on 16th December.