Whatever it takes – Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton says he is willing to do whatever it takes to avoid another engine failure this season, including skipping practice sessions. Hamilton’s fourth world title suffered a huge blow during the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Hamilton later confirmed it was a power unit which was introduced at Spa. The reigning champion has suffered three failure this season, which means he was forced to penalties at Spa. He has one new engine and one three-race old engine to complete the remaining five races.
Mercedes don’t understand the issue but Hamilton is willing to do whatever it takes to ensure another failure does not cost him more points in his battle with Nico Rosberg. Hamilton told ESPN “I need to understand why these keep happening because we’ve got 43 engines.”
“There’s eight Mercedes cars out there, powered by the same engine as mine, and mine happens to fail. So for sure when these things happen I want to understand what that is.”
“Right now my concern is that I’ve got these two engines and I want to make sure they can treat them with whatever they can to make sure they last.” Hamilton hasn’t ruled out sitting out practices, but Mercedes boss toto Wolff says its unlikely.
Wolff explained “We have two engines left, one that has run three races and one that is brand new. We will leave no stone unturned to check them for the next races. Having said that, it is already the way we do things, that we are forensic in our approach and how we check all the bits.”
Wolff adds missing practices is harmful for Hamilton’s weekends.
Mermistory over Hamilton failure
Mercedes say they don’t know why Lewis Hamilton’s engine to expired while leading the Malaysian Grand Prix says technical director Paddy Lowe. Hamilton looked on course to retake the lead of the championship when his engine failed in the closing stages of the race.
On Sunday team boss Toto Wolff said the team will “leave no stone unturned” in a bid to stop Hamilton suffering another failure in the title run-in. Speaking to Autosport ahead of this weekends race Lowe said: “We are continuing to investigate the issue with his engine. We are doing everything we can to ensure that it is first understood and then contained for the remainder of the season.”
“As it stands, despite the failure of this engine, Lewis now has the same stock of power units as Nico for the remaining five races – including used power units which he can fit for free practice sessions.” Wolff added “There is no rational explanation or pattern in these failures. If there were, we would resolve it.”
Wolff says Mercedes are letting down the brit, but didn’t concede the title race was over. Saying “ I remember 2014 when Nico had a failure at the start of the last race [in Abu Dhabi when he had a shot at beating Hamilton to the title].
“It’s frustrating it comes at a crucial moment in the championship, and we are letting him [Hamilton] down this year. It’s him this year.” Hamilton belives there is “no use dwelling on these things” and insists he will “find strength from within to fight back over these next five race weekends.”
But if he does not find a way to recover and win what would be his fourth F1 world title, Hamilton said he would accept losing it to luck.
More experience needed – Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen believes that Ferrari requires more experience with the aero upgrades they used at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Ferrari brought a package with a raft of updates including turning vanes, an under-nose bat wing and vertical vanes mounted atop the T-tray splitter.
The team didn’t run all the parts at the race with the Fin admitting more analysis needed to be done at this weekend’s race in Japan. Raikkonen finished the race behind the Red Bull’s and Nico Rosberg in fourth. He told Autosport “We keep trying things and try to learn. Sometimes we used them and sometimes we didn’t. We try them again next week.”
“We didn’t have the most straightforward weekend so we need data and experience with it.” Raikkonen added it is a never ending process to improve and the team know what they need to improve.
Ferrari has found it hard finding the pace in qualifying but have been more competitive on race day. The team has dropped to 46 points behind Red Bull in the battle for second in the constructors’ championship with five races to go.
Raikkonen said the SF16-H simply needs more speed but conceded it is not easy to find as all its rivals are improving.
Red Bull perform better at Suzuka
Red Bull thinks there car will perform better this weekend at Suzuka than it did at Sepang when they piled the pressure on Mercedes causing reliability issues.
Daniel Ricciardo took advantage of Lewis Hamilton’s engine failure when he was leading the race to take the race win his first Belgium 2014. Suzuka is a circuit which is expected to suit Red Bull because of the twisty nature and there only being on straight.
Team Principal Christian Horner told Motorsport.com “We are looking forward to Suzuka. Hopefully it should be a circuit that plays a bit more to our strengths than Malaysia.”
“We have seen our car very competitive all weekend in sector two, so we are quite looking forward to sectors one and potentially two in Suzuka. It is a great track, a great drivers’ circuit, and hopefully we can have another strong weekend.”
Horner is relieved that Ricciardo managed to win a race this season after being robbed of wins in Barcelona and Monaco through no fault of his own. Horner added “It was great to see him get that victory. He celebrated it in his own unique style and he was a very popular winner.”
Williams to try new belts
Williams are planning to try new seat belts at the Japanese Grand Prix after Valtteri Bottas’s belts came undone during the Singapore Grand Prix. The Fin was forced to make another stop when his belt came undone.
The team has carried out an investigation into what happened but they couldn’t understand what happened. But the belts are a vital safety so the team will switch from Willans to OMP as the supplier.
Tests with OMP will be conducted in Friday practice at Suzuka to check everything is okay, and then the plan is for Bottas and Felipe Massa to switch over fully from the United States Grand Prix. Speaking to Motorsport.com performance director Rob Smedley said “”Unless you find a fault with the buckle, seat belts very rarely – I mean, never – come undone. So something else has happened to make the seat belt come undone.
“Whatever it is, whatever has forced the seat belt open after 30-odd laps, whether it is Valtteri touching it with his gloves or his overalls riding up, it shouldn’t happen. It should never, never happen” Smedley says that the safety of drivers is absolute number one priority.
This is the reason for the change of supplier and he explained they wait until Austin is because they want time to properly analyse the running from Japan.
Development been the best – Ricciardo
Daniel Ricciardo says that Red Bull has developed their car this season than any other season since joining the team. The Australian joined the team from Toro Rosso which coincided with its dip in form after winning four successive F1 drivers’ and constructors’ titles.
But this season an improved relationship with Renault and have had a better car which has allowed them to push Ferrari to third in the constructors championship. Ricciardo told Autosport “Everything we put on the car, maybe our feedback is helping as well, but all the updates seem to be going in the right direction.”
“Since I’ve been with Red Bull it’s been the best year for that. A lot of things we’ve used or put on the car have worked.” Ricciardo took his first win since Spa 2014 and it was Red Bull’s first one two since Sao Paulo 2013 .
Ricciardo said last month that Verstappen’s arrival has made him raise his level in F1, Ricciardo added that the strong performance of both drivers is helping the team push forward.
“The level me and Max are maintaining is helping the team. We’re certainly pushing each other. We’re both driving at a pretty good level.”
Faith I’ll be on the grid – Wehrlein
Pascal Wehrlein says he has complete faith in Mercedes that he will be on the grid next season. With just under two months and five races remaining he is one of a declining number of drivers who does not have a confirmed seat for the 2017.
Manor are expected to be the last to confirm its line up but they have expressed a desire to keep both Wehrlein and fellow Mercedes protege Esteban Ocon.
Asked by Autosport whether he was confident he would have a 2017 F1 seat, Wehrlein replied: “My feeling is that first of all I’m confident. I’m a Mercedes driver and they are all happy with me.”
“I know that they will do what they can, and they will find the best option for me next year, so I’m not concerned about next year – which is good. I have showed some good results this year and everyone is happy, but as you know Formula 1 is not always so easy.”
Wehrlein says his instruction from Mercedes this year was simply to learn the ropes in F1. He added “The biggest target was to learn as much as possible because it’s my first year in Formula 1, my first year in single-seaters for three years.”
Wehrlein says Manor has done “a better job than expected” given its limited resources in terms of both finance and personnel compared to the works Mercedes team that he tests for.
He said that Mercedes have 700 people working on the engine alone compared to 170 for the whole car at Manor. He added “For what we have we are doing a very good job.”