Hamilton optimism of close battle
Lewis Hamilton says he is optimistic of a close battle between Mercedes and Ferrari this season. Sebastian Vettel took victory following a close fight with the Brit in Melbourne.
Speaking ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix Hamilton said “It is very close. Pace-wise and qualifying is close. In the race, he was able keep up with me [in the first stint] and there are going to be races where that fluctuates.”
“Perhaps they’re ahead and we’re behind, or we’re ahead and they’re behind – but we hope to make it more that we’re up ahead,” he added. Hamilton says that the good thing that it is close because it makes racing exciting.
Hamilton had led the race before Vettel got past him during the pit stop window and Hamilton was unable to pass him. The Bit says that it was “Cool” to see racing that close.
Mercedes have been unbeatable in Shanghai since the introduction of the current engine regulations. Hamilton is the most successful driver at this race with four wins.
Sebastian Vettel has maintained Mercedes are still the favourites for the F1 2017 season despite Ferrari’s winning start in Australia. Vettel took victory in Melbourne, putting Ferrari on the podium.
As he arrived in China, the four-time champion stressed that Melbourne may have been a blip. He told Sky Sports “Mercedes have to still be the favourites. We had a very, very strong first race but, in the team, we are just looking at it race by race.”
“We know we have a good package which puts us in a strong place. But we have a lot of things we need to do to keep up with them,” he said.
Both, Vettel and Hamilton, have repeatedly labelled each other’s team has favourites for this year’s title. However, Ferrari must be wary as in recent seasons the team has started the season well only to drop off later in the season.
Vettel said, “The car’s been feeling good all the time when we’ve been running it and people can think what they want, but we have a good package, good team and we have to make a good job out of it.” He says this season they need to minimise the mistakes.
Renewed calls over Bahrain’s human rights
human rights groups have called on Formula One to once again cancel next weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
The race has proved controversial ever since the beginning of the Arab Spring in 2011 when the government launched a crackdown on anti-government protesters. Earlier this week, King Hamad ratified a constitutional amendment that enables military courts to try civilians.
With Amnesty International warned that the measure was so vaguely worded that it could be used to try government critics, including peaceful activists.
The letter from the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, Article 19 and Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, said: “Concerted and visible action is now required from Formula One, consistent with its commitment to human rights.”
“We call on you to suspend this year’s race in view of the alarming situation in the country.”
The government has recently stepped up a crackdown on the opposition, banning the al-Wefaq party and arresting several prominent activists.
Campaigners say Formula One would “become complicit” in human rights violations in Bahrain if the race was not cancelled.
Eyes will be on the new owners about how they respond and ousted CEO Bernie Ecclestone due in Bahrain next weekend.
A lot to learn – Bottas
Mercedes Valtteri Bottas says that there are “a lot of things” he needs to learn and improve as he continues to adapt to his new team. Bottas started and finished third at the opening race in Melbourne, however, was behind team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
executive chairman Niki Lauda said Bottas had matched what Rosberg would have achieved. Bottas expects the learning process to continue beyond China. Bottas told ESPN “I feel well, being part of the team, and pretty comfortable with the team, but I haven’t reached the point where I can say that I can’t learn anything more about this team.”
“There’s definitively a lot of things I’m getting more and more comfortable, I feel good, but I think I’m going to continue in the steep learning curve I’ve been in for the last few months for a while more.”
The Finn says he thinks it was a good starting point but added it wasn’t a perfect weekend and he feels more comfortable and confident going into this second race with the team. The first one is done and now we focus on this one, but it’s way too early to say if it’s possible to win here.
he added, “We’ll see where we are, we’ll see with the weather and everything, but I feel that historically this track has been better for Mercedes than Melbourne.”
“So if that’s the case this year we should be able to fight for victory. But let’s see.”
I will not walk away – Alonso
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso has rejected claims that he could walk away from the team during the season. The less powerful and reliable engine means McLaren are at the back of the field.
His friend and Channel 4’s Mark Webber claimed that he could quit mid-season were “definitely not true”. Alonso told BBC News “If one ex-driver is interviewed, there is always one question about Alonso, on the situation, how difficult it is.”
“Everyone [acts like they are] close to me and it’s like I have a depression, and it’s not like that. In F1, I am delivering at my best, I am more prepared than ever. I perform at my best.”
Alonso had looked on course for tenth until a broken brake duct caused him to retire in Melbourne.
He added, “At the same time, the team is expecting an extra result from me now, as we did in Australia when the predictions say we are last.”
“If in China they say we are last, hopefully, Alonso will be in the points.” Alonso is out of contract at the end of the season and there is speculation he could leave the team, he says that nothing is off the table.
That’s all from F1 Today this week and we will be bringing you full coverage of the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend. F1 Today returns next week, with Notebook Saturday evening. Preview here