Hamilton defends Vettel
Lewis Hamilton has defended his expected main title rival Sebastian Vettel following a costly battle during the Bahrain Grand Prix, believing that the “great athlete” will bounce back.
The German’s mistake while battling with Hamilton wheel to wheel, saw Vettel lose second place and saw him drop to fifth. Vettel’s error was similar to the mistakes made last season, where he spun out in Monza, Suzuka and Austin.
But when that streak was put to Hamilton, the world champion leapt to the defence of his title rival. He told Sky Sports, “There are too few of them to really look too much into it. It happens to all of us. Just because you’re a multiple world champion it doesn’t mean you’re not going to have off-weekends.”
“It’s more accumulative. You look at Vettel’s career and he’s had stunning performances that far outweigh the weaker races, and when he’s spun, for example, they are minuscule on the status that he’s accumulated and created.”
Hamilton says that the windy conditions in Bahrain made it difficult for Vettel. Hamilton to victory follows a heavy deficit to new Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc, who dominated the Bahrain race before engine issues handed Hamilton the win.
Hamilton said, “There are always times when you happen to just not get the right car set-up. You guys don’t get to see all the little things that we’re doing and it just doesn’t happen to work that weekend and the differences are so small, yet they look so big.”
Red Bull can’t do worse than Bahrain
Max Verstappen says Red Bull’s performance “cannot be worse” than in Bahrain, believing they can do “a lot better” than they have started the season.
The Dutchman has made a good start to the season with a third place in Australia and fourth in Bahrain but was unhappy throughout the second Grand Prix weekend. Red Bull’s team principal Christian Horner has admitted the team needs to find the “magic password” to improve its set up.
Following Tuesday’s test, Verstappen told Motorsport.com, “It cannot be worse than what we showed here. Also, we made some mistakes I think in terms of set-up. I think if you look back to Australia, we were actually quite happy.”
“Of course, it was still 20 seconds to Valtteri [Bottas, race winner], but in that race, I couldn’t go and push like I wanted to because basically I was always held up by a car. I think we can do a lot better than what we showed so far.”
Despite the cooler conditions and rain interruption to testing, Verstappen believes the test was well timed for Red Bull. The team says that they knew “what went wrong” in Bahrain, he says that they could improve downforce but they clearly got something wrong in terms of balance `
Verstappen believes that the test was well timed for the team as they look to increase downforce and balance on the car. Adding “Just always doing one and a half hour sessions [in Friday practice] is not amazing. Doing a day like this is very helpful.”
Riccardo admits needing to change driving style
Daniel Ricciardo says that he is needing to adapt his driving style at Renault, needing to “get out of some old habits” from his time with Red Bull.
The Australian has had a difficult start to the season with his new team after leaving Red Bull, suffering two retirements and failing to make it into Q3. Ricciardo has also been outperformed by teammate Nico Hulkenberg in seven of the ten sessions this season, two of which were because of technical issues.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Ricciardo admitted he has yet to feel fully comfortable in the car. He said “The weekend was a struggle. Just quite a long way off the pace and trying to understand why.”
“For sure some is in me learning the best way to drive the car, trying to maybe get out of some old habits from last year. But also a few set-up things and trying to work out what works best for me to build my confidence in this car.”
“I don’t want to say I’m stuck in my old ways with the Red Bull but for sure this car needs to be tamed a little bit differently. I’m just trying to master that.”
Ricciardo had looked to score his first point for Renault in Sakhir, before a suspected MGU-K failure three laps from the finish forced him to retire from the race. He also admitted that his accident with Hulkenberg in the race was still lacking confidence in the braking.
Despite not making the start he had hoped to at Renault, Ricciardo remains excited about what is to come one he become more in tune with his surroundings.
He added, “There is still some room for me to grow with it, for sure. In a way that excites me.”
Schumacher surprised by performance
Mick Schumacher says that he did not expect the performance he showed in his first F1 test, having found it “easy” to improve with Ferrari and Alfa Romeo.
The German, son of seven-time world champion father Michael, drove for Ferrari on Tuesday and Alfa Romeo on Wednesday. The current F3 champion was was second-fastest in the Ferrari and then sixth-quickest in the Alfa, setting almost identical lap times in both.
Asked by Motorsport.com if he expected this performance ahead of the test, Schumacher admitted: “To be honest, not. But I guess because I had so much fun it was easy the work on my myself, to work with the team.”
“Both teams were very open and very good in teaching me the points I had to know. Over the whole day, I was able to improve and to find the limit.” However, his Ferrari running was cut short because of wet conditions, although he had improved on his second day, comparing the times were difficult.
Schumacher added that he had gained confidence by targeting “all the points of [Tuesday] that maybe didn’t work, or where I had the feeling of being able to improve. It seems like it worked well, so I’m happy.”
His next F2 race is the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku, at the end of the month.
Puma agrees on a partnership
Formula One has announced a long-term deal with Puma for the German sportswear company to become the sport’s exclusive merchandise retail partner. F1 says Puma had gained the rights to design, produce and sell Formula One branded products trackside at Grand Prix.
Puma stands and superstores will be present at 17 of the 21 races on the calendar this season. Puma already partners with all of the top teams to produce merchandise.
CEO of Puma Bjorn Gulden said “Our agreement with Formula 1 will allow us to connect with the fans directly at the races by offering them the best motorsport merchandise experience possible.”
F1 Managing Director Commercial Operations, Sean Bratches added “We are always looking to enhance fans race day experience and to have such an experienced and creative partner such as Puma on board to bring the latest items to our fans is something we are really excited about.”
Ghosn re-arrested over new allegations
Former Renault boss Carlos Ghosn has been re-arrested by Japanese police while on bail ahead of his trial over financial misconduct. Prosecutors said the 65-year-old had been detained over suspicions he caused Nissan $5m (£3.8m) in losses, according to reports.
In a statement, Ghosn said that that the re-arrest was “outrageous and arbitrary.” Mr Ghosn’s lawyer told a news conference they would strongly appeal against the latest arrest.
Junichiro Hironaka also said that Tokyo prosecutors had confiscated the passport and mobile phone of Carlos Ghosn’s wife, Reuters reported. Mr Ghosn, who denies any wrongdoing, was recently released on bail after 108 days in custody.
Reports from the broadcaster NHK, say that police entered his home at 21:00GMT on Wednesday before taking him to their office on suspicion he had misappropriated Nissan funds for personal use, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported.
Mr Ghosn’s lawyer said it was almost unheard of to arrest someone after being released on bail. The statement added, “I am innocent of the groundless charges and accusations against me.”
He said the arrest was “part of another attempt by some individuals at Nissan to silence me by misleading the prosecutors. Why arrest me except to try to break me? I will not be broken.”
The latest twist in a five-month drama of the man who was the architect of the alliance between Nissan and French carmaker Renault, and brought Mitsubishi on board in 2016. He is credited with turning around the fortunes of Nissan and Renault over several years.’
The latest arrest centres around a dealership in Oman where he is said to of made payments of personal debt of around £4.5m. Police have three weeks to question him but comes after tweet on Wednesday where Ghosn said he would “to tell the truth about what’s happening” next Thursday.