Mercedes no reason yet to impose team orders
Mercedes say they have no reason at the moment to bring in team orders in this year’s championship fight, saying it will be holding off for as long as possible before deciding to introduce them.
The German manufacturer had previously said they would decide after the Italian Grand Prix whether they would use Valtteri Bottas to help his teammate Lewis Hamilton in the championship battle. At Monza, Hamilton opened up the lead in the championship without Bottas needing his teammate’s help, something the team hope to keep as it is for now.
Mercedes CEO and team principal, Toto Wolff told Motorsport.com “I don’t really like team orders, they are not cool and not good for the sport, and they are not good for either driver. Lewis doesn’t want to have anything gifted and Valtteri doesn’t want to give anything up.”
“We are looking at it from race to race. We discussed it [on race morning], various scenarios and there was no necessity and we will see what happens in Singapore. I want to push that moment back as far as possible.”
Hamilton’s win on Sunday was helped by Bottas holding up Kimi Raikkonen in the second stint. The Finn, however, says he is open to supporting the Englishman when it makes sense. Saying “It wasn’t really like I was sacrificing my race, as long as I was keeping Kimi behind. If he overtook me then for sure I would lose time.”
“But knowing the fact that just a little bit earlier maybe would have been ideal for me to stop, I was happy to do it, because I knew I would still get a chance to attack [Max] Verstappen, so I don’t think we really compromised my result. That’s all good.”
Bottas is now almost a hundred points behind Hamilton, who currently leads the championship. Mercedes are aware that Bottas’s ninety two-point deficit and the strength of Hamilton and Vettel means it’s unlikely he will be unable to win the title, while he mathematically has a chance.
Why we chose Norris – McLaren
McLaren’s CEO Zak Brown has insisted that Lando Norris is the “guy we wanted”, despite there being more experienced drivers being available. Norris will replace Stoffel Vandoorne alongside new signing Carlos Sainz, meaning the team has a brand new line up for 2019.
McLaren was said to be in talks with Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen to replace Fernando Alonso, before it held talks with both Force India drivers Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez. But decided that the reserve driver was the best for the job.
Brown told ESPN, “In the event, we felt Lando was up for it. We were always down the path of Lando being the guy we intend to put in for next year, hence him being our reserve driver.”
“We wanted to see how he would mature over the year, so in those instances, you always want to have other plans in place or conversations going.”
Brown says the names which had been linked to the team are very good drivers and were considered by the team, but they went for Norris as he is ready.
With Lance Stroll expected to move to Force India next year there is a danger that either Ocon or Perez could be left without a drive. Brown said Ocon’s ties to Mercedes were a deterrent for a team like McLaren.
Raikkonen believes booing isn’t acceptable
Kimi Raikkonen says that fans shouldn’t boo their favourite drivers’ rivals, after the Tifosi targeted Mercedes Lewis Hamilton, following his win at Sundays Italian Grand Prix.
Both Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas were subjected to boos post-race, after a weekend in which the tifosi’s usual Ferrari support was mixed with antagonising its rivals.
Asked how he felt about drivers being booed, second-place finisher Raikkonen said: “I think everybody has the right to do what they feel like but I don’t think it’s very nice. I don’t think it should happen. It’s not my decision but it happens and that’s how life is. But it’s not very nice.”
Despite Raikkonen and his teammate Sebastian Vettel locking out the front row, Ferrari failed to convert that into their first win at Monza since 2010. Mercedes, meanwhile, has dominated the race at Monza since the hybrid began in 2014, with Hamilton winning four of the five races.
Hamilton said he thinks the booing is “acceptable” but said, “I don’t really understand it”. He added: “I’ve been to football games, NFL games, basketball games and rugby games, I’ve never booed a player on the opponent’s team and none of my friends do either.”
Bottas backed his teammate’s opinion that fans have the right to “say whatever they like”, but said it was “not as nice as when someone is shouting your name”.
Both Mercedes drivers also said they used it as fuel to perform this weekend.
“For me, it is easy to allow it to get to you, to have an impact of your life,” said Hamilton. “It is also quite easy to harness it and use. That gave me so much motivation today. I welcome it, if they want to continue to do it, it just empowers me.”
Bottas added: “Like Lewis mentioned, sports people have the right mindset, and we can turn some negative experiences into strengths. If you do it right you can really use that as a source of energy.”
Fry returns to McLaren
McLaren’s former engineering boss Pat Fry has returned to the British manufacturer as they look to build a better performing car, following four years of underperformance.
Fry worked for the team between 1993 and 2010, winning two constructors and three drivers championships with Mika Hakkinen and Lewis Hamilton. The Englishman later joined Ferrari in 2010 as the teams’ deputy technical director and more recently was a consultant for Manor.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, CEO Zak Brown said Fry was starting with the team today. Adding “From a technical standpoint Andrea Stella is leading the way and will work very closely with Pat Fry. Andrea will set direction, targets and performance criteria and Pat ultimately will work with him to execute that.”
McLaren has signed James Key, but he is not expected to join the team until 2019, after gardening leave from his Red Bull contract.
This season, technical director Tim Goss, engineering director Matt Morris have both resigned and McLaren parted with racing director Eric Boullier.
Next season, McLaren has announced a new driver line up, Carlos Sainz joining from Renault and 18-year-old Briton Lando Norris stepping up from his reserve role.
McLaren has not won a race since 2012 and this season switched from Honda to Renault engines, a move that exposed the weakness of a chassis that the team had thought to be one of the best on the starting grid.