Hamilton admits “no guarantee” of staying
Lewis Hamilton has admitted there is “no guarantee” he will remain in Formula One for 2021 despite his and Mercedes’ prolonged success, Hamilton and team principal Toto Wolff are yet to commit to Mercedes beyond the end of the season.
The Englishman is expected to resign for Mercedes and told Sky Sports that he “plans” to keep racing next season when he will likely be aiming for an eighth title. However, following the teams sealing of the constructors, Hamilton cast unexpected doubt on the formality of his stay.
Hamilton was asked about his influential boss Wolff, who is considering stepping aside from his role as team principal, and the fear of Mercedes losing momentum without him when he replied in the press conference: “I don’t even know if I’m going to be here next year so it’s not really a concern for me at the moment.”
Hamilton, who has the most number of wins and poles, can seal a record-equalling seventh title in Istanbul next weekend, says while he feels he can deliver, he is considering his future.
With four races and thirty-nine days to go in the campaign, Hamilton added “I feel great, I still feel very strong, I feel like I could keep going for plenty of months. But you mentioned about Toto and shelf-life, there’s multiple things that do stay on the top of my mind.”
Hamilton says that he would like to remain with Mercedes, but there were no guarantees he would stay and would likely start contract talks after wrapping up the 2020 title.
Hamilton’s comments were made as reports and remarks by Wolff that he was set to move to a different role within Mercedes.
Wolff, who is a co-owner of the team and has spoken of wanting to spend more time with family, saying “I’m never going to abandon it because it is something I love to do.” He has also said that he believed that everyone had a shelf life, but still believes he can still contribute.
Hamilton said he “understood” how Wolff felt and that “we have a lot of deep conversations so I’m very aware of where is mentally”.
Mercedes celebrates seventh title
Mercedes celebrated their record seventh successive Formula One constructors’ title on Monday with champagne glasses raised remotely and special home deliveries of facemasks.
The team celebrated their success against the backdrop of the pandemic with a mixture of in-person and online, with many staff working from home, this year’s triumph was always going to be very different to the previous six.
In the past factory staff, at Brackley and the engine side at Brixworth, have assembled for a group photograph with drivers and bosses before speeches of thanks and motivational talk.
England will enter a second national lockdown at midnight, with the government saying people must stay at home. A spokesman said a video debrief was sent around for staff to watch at their leisure and a virtual team photo was planned.
The spokesman added, “Employees working from home have had champagne and championship facemasks delivered to them by willing volunteers and people in the factory have received the same.”
Andrew Shovlin, head of trackside engineering, said after Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Italy’s Imola circuit that it would be a strange celebration with a national lockdown looming.
Adding, “We’re at quite low capacity in the factory now because we’ve dropped it again, people who can work from home are working from home and there won’t be any gatherings.”
“We obviously need some people in because some people have jobs that you can’t do remotely. But really we’re going to be leaning on technological solutions to try and have our celebrations and keep everyone together.”
In his address, Lewis Hamilton who could win his seventh title in Istanbul agreed the constructors’ championship was always special.
Saying “The core of our job is to deliver points and results for the team. So when you win a team championship I think it’s almost better than an individual because it’s something you do collectively, with a large group of people.”
Russell “sorry” for crashing at Imola
George Russell says he is “so sorry” for crashing behind the safety car during the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. The Williams driver looked on course for his first points in F1 running tenth with twelve laps to go when he crashed into the wall at Acque Minerali.
Russell has yet to score a point from his thirty-four race starts, with Williams facing there first pointless season in the team’s history. Russell said, after clambering out of his crashed car “Gutting, to be honest. I don’t really know what to say.”
“I was working as hard as I could to keep the tyres working, I was pushing as hard as I could throughout the race and it’s probably the most on-the-limit I’ve ever been throughout the whole of the race.”
“I think it was really showing and we were in such a good position. Obviously, I just went over the limit under the Safety Car and as soon as I lost the car it was already too late and I was in the wall. Really sorry for the team and unacceptable from my side really.”
Going into the weekend in an interview with Sky Sports, two times champion Fernando Alonso described Russell as a young driver to watch for the future, explained: “I was accelerating and changing gear at the same time and just with cold tyres. This sometimes happen with cold tyres and it was my job to try and work them as hard as I can to keep Kimi [Raikkonen] and Sebastian [Vettel] behind on new hot fresh tyres.”
After the race, Russell wrote on Instagram, “I’ll never forget this day, this mistake. I’ll learn from it, be stronger for it. I’m so sorry, to the whole team. No excuses.”
That prompted Lewis Hamilton and Romain Grosjean, two of F1’s most senior drivers, to send their support to the 22-year-old.
Hamilton wrote “George, you were giving it your all. It’s ok to make mistakes and it’s ok to feel the pain. I’ve made more than I can remember. You’re great bud. Keep your head up and keep pushing, on to the next one.”
Grosjean, who himself crashed behind the Safety Car in Baku in 2018, wrote: “Man, I know the feeling. Will take some time to forget it, but what you do is mega. Keep pushing.”
Good strategy not luck behind Kvyat’s fourth place
Alpha Tauri team principal Franz Tost insists that good strategy and not luck was key to Daniil Kvyat’s late charge to fourth place at Imola. The Russian was running eighth when a puncher for Max Verstappen triggered a late safety car.
The top three runners, Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez, all pitted for soft tyres. The next three in line, Daniel Ricciardo, Charles Leclerc and Alex Albon, opted to stay out on hards. Alpha Tauri decided that soft tyres would give Kvyat a boost, and he took the restart in seventh immediately behind Perez.
When the race resumed Kvyat did a better job than Perez managing the softs and passed the Racing Point and Red Bull, as well as a brilliant move on Leclerc for fourth place, but could not pass Daniel Ricciardo for third.
Tost told Motorsport.com, “Let me say it in this way, we were not lucky, we took the right decision because all the other teams could have done the same. Some of them did it, some not.”
“We did it, and we got something out of it, three places at the end, because he was seventh and afterwards he was fourth. He overtook Perez, Leclerc and Albon, and finished on the fourth position, just behind Ricciardo, and more laps to go I think he could have had a good chance also to overtake him.”
He said that the move was fantastic and that Kvyat made a fantastic move, saying the Russian showed a “real, real good performance.”
Finishing ahead of Ferrari allowed Alpha Tauri to gain two points in the battle for sixth place in the constructors’ championship, with the Maranello outfit currently just 14 ahead. However, Tost played down the significance of the fight.
Tost, however, says the team are focused on doing the best job possible, and then they would see what the results would be. Heading to the next race in Istanbul, Tost is confident that the car has proved that it can be quick everywhere.
Adding “I must say that currently, we have quite a competitive car, because we were fast in Spa, we were fast in Monza, we had a good race at the Nürburgring where Pierre [Gasly] finished sixth, we had a good race at Portimao, and we also had a competitive car here in Imola.”
He believes that all the circuits have different characteristics and that the team can be quick in Istanbul.
Pirelli announces tyre test in the Middle East
Pirelli have announced they will test the 2021 tyres during a FP2 session in Bahrain or Abu Dhabi, or possibly both. The move follows a successful test of different prototype new constructions in Portugal.
The running-in Portimao allowed the Italian manufacturer t to the FIA by the November 1 deadline on which version it has settled. The reason for giving the teams the extra FP2 running to allow everyone to try the final choice and gather set-up data for next season.
As was the case in Portugal the rules allow the first 30 minutes of FP2 sessions to be used for testing extra tyres. The new construction is intended to improve durability in the wake of the issues seen at Silverstone earlier this season.
The biggest change is to the front tyres which have a revised profile which could not be adjusted, mainly due to the problem of testing them in Portugal with the current floors, and the risk of contact with the bodywork. Pirelli F1 boss Mario Isola told Motorsport.com, “We tested the new prototypes in Portimao.”
“We made an analysis of the result of the test, collecting all the feedback from drivers, and all the telemetry data. It was a good validation, in difficult conditions, with a new track and so on. But we had a good result.”
“We identified a prototype that is an improvement in our opinion compared to the current specification. All the prototypes we brought to Portimao had a higher level of integrity. What we were missing was the driveability and the performance of the tyres on track.”
Compounds for 2021 will be the same as those used currently, and only the construction will change. He says the profile has slightly changed and some elements that are different, and also materials that are different.