No short term fix for Mercedes
Mercedes say that their problems with their 2017 car will not be fixed in the short term and have conceded that Ferrari is the current favourites for the title. Ferrari scored their first one-two finish in Monaco and look to be in strong form heading into the Canadian Grand Prix.
The Scuderia current holds a seventeen point advantage over Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship, with Sebastian Vettel’s three victories this season puts him twenty-five points ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the Drivers Championship. Thou Mercedes and Ferrari are tied on victories, the current champions have struggled with their setup.
Team boss Toto Wolff has insisted “we have to fight with all that we are worth” for every result as “you can no longer expect that when you look at a timesheet the two Mercedes will be right at the top”.
Wolff told Sky Sports “It’s painful, but we are not the favourites for this year’s championship. Everybody at the factories is working absolutely flat out to assess the current difficulties we are facing – to define our objectives, work with the data we have and then come up with the right solutions”
Wolff has admitted these fixes will be short term and others could take longer. Mercedes has had difficult weekends before but has bounced back at the next race. He said “I remember the troubles we had in Singapore in 2015, which hurt badly. We gave ourselves a deadline to address that setback before switching our focus to the next race in Suzuka, which we won.”
He also says the team has done the same thing following their difficulties in Monaco. Wolff says it is “painful” to admit that the winners of three title doubles on the spin, are no longer F1’s dominant force but believes “everything is completely open” as they work on solutions for their performance problems.
Mercedes have been strong in Montreal since the beginning of the hybrid power units in 2014, but Wolff is not convinced it will be quite as strong this time. Wolff has backed his drivers, including five-time winner Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas has always been strong in Montreal as well.
This weekend Mercedes will need to do their homework if they are to take their four successive win.
Wolff added, “We have two excellent drivers and we will hold true to our philosophy of letting them race each other to drive the team forward – even if sometimes it can be difficult because you can’t always have the one who is ahead in the championship-winning.”
Kubica back on track
Robert Kubica has driven a Formula One car for the first time since a rallying accident in 2011. The Pole drove the 2012 Lotus in the Renault livery at Valencia’s Ricardo Tormo circuit, the scene of Kubica’s last F1 test before his horrific rally crash six years ago.
The team said Kubica completed 115 laps during his private test in Valencia. The test included long runs on high fuel, qualifying simulations and practice starts. The Pole had been tipped as one to watch before a dramatic accident changed his career.
He crashed into a church wall during the Ronde di Andora rally and suffered severe damage to his right hand, arm and leg. He underwent several hours of surgery and suffered a partial amputation of his forearm.
Kubica took Sauber’s only F1 win in Montreal in 2008 and three podium finishes for Renault in 2010, his final season in F1 prior to his accident. In 2012, Fernando Alonso declared: “For me the best driver is Robert Kubica. When he returns, which will surely be soon, I’m sure he will continue to be the best driver.”
Any chance of a race return would require physical and medical checks by the FIA.
Stroll excited by home race since November
Lance Stroll says he has been excited about his home Grand Prix this weekend ever since he was announced as a Williams driver in November. The Canadian rookie will race this weekend in front of his home fans for the first time.
Stroll hasn’t managed to score any points this season and is aware he needs to break the blank becoming an obsession. Speaking at an event celebrating the teams forty years in Formula One, Stroll said “I do have my targets, in terms of what I need to improve on. In terms of position, not really.”
“I don’t look at Canada and say ‘I need to finish in the points’ because that would be the wrong approach. I look at Canada and say ‘what are my weaknesses? I need to improve in this area, this needs to happen and that needs to happen.’ And then hopefully points will come.”
Stroll had a clear aim when he was announced as a Williams driver, to prove it was his talent and not his privileged upbringing which earnt his seat. He says it has been a challenging year for the team, but they need to “work as hard as we can and try and do the best we can.”
Williams has always performed well with Valtteri Bottas scoring two podiums in three years in Montreal. But it is an unfamiliar track for Stroll but he hoped to use home energy in a positive way.
“I do strongly believe that tables will turn and things will start working out. And they have been… there have been positives as well,” he said.
Could Portugal return to calendar
Motorsport.com say they have learnt that the owners of the Autodromo Internacional Algarve have begun talks with Formula One owner’s Liberty Media about bringing the Portuguese Grand Prix.
The Grand Prix last took place in 1996, at Estoril and held the race thirteen times from 1984. But the 100,000 capacity circuit near Portimao has been refurbished recently and it is understood the Portuguese government asked Algarve circuit bosses to explore the possibility of bringing F1 back to the European country.
Talks have taken place between the Algarve track and F1’s new owners, but discussions are at an early stage. The circuit has been upgraded to meet the necessary infrastructure in place in the local area.
But there is growing competition with the French Grand Prix returning next year, as well as rumours about the Dutch Grand Prix returning. The Portuguese economy is grown following the global economic downturn, with the government in a position where they can prove the race fees.
Currently, commercial boss Sean Bratches and sporting chief Ross Brawn are working on next year’s calendar. Brawn is keen for quality over quantity, while Bratches has said the new owners are being “proactive” in targeting markets.
Ecclestone questions Liberty’s approach
Chairman Emeritus Bernie Ecclestone has questioned the ‘all change’ approach that Liberty Media has taken since completing their takeover in January. Ecclestone was ousted in a coup and replaced by Chase Carey.
Ecclestone told Blick newspaper: “That is almost a compliment. But it’s now a completely different way of thinking and working.” Carey has not been shy to criticise Ecclestone’s formerly dictatorial style, but Ecclestone says “I have to live with that (criticism).”
“Maybe I should have changed more things. For me it was always clear: I wanted to run Formula One Management so that it makes a profit for the shareholders. And in the end, the shares were so high that this was the reason it was purchased by the Liberty group.”
Ecclestone says that Carey “Doesn’t need me. He says he knows what he is doing and he has surrounded himself with people who also claim to know what they are doing.” But has criticised the focus on social media, and now he says all that free content is upsetting the TV broadcasters.
“A lot of the TV stations are unsettled and annoyed,” he claimed.
Asked if that’s a problem, Ecclestone said: “Yes. We have contracts with these stations which are very exclusive. But right now it looks like you can get Formula One without paying anything.”
When asked what advice he would give Carey, Brawn and co, he answered: “Why should I recommend anything to these gentlemen? They have different views, as I said before.” Ecclestone says he should be given the credit for the current on-track battles which he says has “changed the situation for the better.”