Vettel’s regret over Baku actions
Sebastian Vettel says he has apologised and regrets deliberately driving into the back of title rival during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Vettel is to face no further action following the FIA inquiry into the incident.
Speaking at the press conference, Vettel said “It was the wrong move, to drive alongside him and hit his tyre. Am I proud of it? No. Can I take it back? No. Do I regret it? Yes. I had the impression I was fouled. That was wrong. I wasn’t happy, I overreacted.”
Hamilton who is fourteen points behind Vettel in the championship said he accepted his apology. However, Hamilton says his concerned was the accusation that the Mercedes driver had “brake-tested” him, calling for him to withdraw the statement.
Hamilton added “We spoke after the race on Monday and shortly after that he messaged me the day after. I just said that for me I still have the utmost respect for him as a driver and will continue to race him hard as a driver as we always have and no less hard.”
The Mercedes driver says he did not break testing him and Vettel accelerated, which he had no intentions to do that. There was no need.
“There wasn’t actually an apology in the conversation we had, even if that was maybe the intention. The next day when we were texting there was an apology and I did accept it.”
Vettel added he had been caught out by the differing speed in the cars as they exited Turn 15 preparing for a restart after a safety car period. Vettel denied he had an issue with anger.
Ferrari parted company with engine chief
Good sources according to Motorsport.com, say that Ferrari has parted company with the chief engineer of it’s power unit, Lorenzo Sassi.
Although the team has refused to comment, a report in the newspaper Il Giornale said that Sassi’s departure had been prompted following direct intervention from President Sergio Marchionne. It is unclear if he has left the company completely, or has been moved to another role within the Fiat group.
The sources say that that the departure in the last few days has come as a surprise because the team has made good progress with its power unit this season.
It is believed that there is now very little difference in power terms between the Ferrari and Mercedes engines. Furthermore, Ferrari is due to introduce a heavily upgraded engine at the British Grand Prix which is said to utilise some technical innovations to deliver a good boost.
Vettel didn’t get away too lightly
Sebastian Vettel’s former Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo has said that the Ferrari driver did not get away too lightly for his ‘silly’ actions during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Vettel was awarded a ten-second stop-go and go penalty for driving into the back of into Lewis Hamilton behind the safety car at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but he risked further punishment after the FIA looked into it again in Paris earlier this week.
Ricciardo was the race winner in Baku and thinks that the whole issue was escalated by the fact that Hamilton did not triumph because of his headrest problem.
Writing in his official Red Bull column, Ricciardo said: “There’s a view going around that Seb got off lightly with the penalty he got, but to me, that’s only because he ended up beating Lewis and that only happened because Lewis had his own issues with the headrest.”
“If that hadn’t happened and Lewis won, which he looked like was going to, and Seb was, say, fifth or something, then there wouldn’t be as much noise about it. What he did wasn’t right, but it wasn’t dangerous – we were doing 40km/h – so it was more silly than anything.
“For me, a 10-second stop-go penalty, the one Seb got, is the biggest penalty you can have without being black-flagged. There’s no bigger time penalty because you lose 20 seconds in the pits, and then you have to be stationary for 10 seconds.”
Sainz unlikely to remain with Toro Rosso
Carlos Sainz says he is unlikely to remain at Toro Rosso for a fourth season next year. The Spaniard turned down the offer to move to Renault to focus on proving to Red Bull he deserved a chance to move up to the senior team.
But, that is unlikely to happen as both Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo have contracts until the end of 2018 and, as a result, he has hinted he will consider a chance elsewhere.
Speaking ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix, Sainz said “It’s still a long season ahead and these rumours will always come. My target number one is to be with Red Bull next year and start fighting for podiums, wins or whatever they are fighting for next year.”
“I’m going to keep pushing for this. If that doesn’t happen, a fourth year in Toro Rosso is unlikely and I’m not going to close the door to any opportunity.” The Spaniard says he is definitely ready to make the step forward in his career.
Sainz leads his team-mate Daniil Kvyat by twenty-nine points and his target is to continue to deliver on track. He says he is confident with the team, who he says have had a positive season so far.
Ocon needs to learn – Perez
Sergio Perez says his Force India team-mate Esteban Ocon needs to learn about racing, following a costly collision in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Force India have said that both drivers remain free to race, however, Perez believes that Ocon needs to understand what that exactly entails. He said, “What happened in Baku was totally unacceptable from a team point of view, that’s the feedback I got from the team.”
“In all my experience I’ve had with my team-mates the competition was always really intense but never to that extent and never to unnecessarily crashing into each other. I gave him enough room to do the manoeuvre, he was already ahead, and there was no need at all to ruin our races.”
Asked if the team should impose team orders Perez says that Ocon simply needs to understand what racing means. Saying “We were free to race, we had big battles on track, but we were always free to race. As long as Esteban understands what racing means that should be clear.”
Ocon dismissed the claim by Perez saying that his suggestion that he was at fault was wrong, saying Force India put the blame at “50-50” between the two of them. He added, “I don’t want to respond to those comments.”
“I’ve been finishing more than 40 races in single-seaters in a row. I’m European champion and GP3 world champion, so I don’t think I’m lacking experience either on racing or wheel-to-wheel fights.”
Honda struggles due to lack of experience
Force India’s Chief Operating Officer Otmar Szafnauer says he believes that the key reason why Honda is struggling is because of a lack of experience within the programme.
Szafnauer worked in the Honda programme between 2001-08 and says the difference between the old and new programme is the current on lacks personnel who have the relevant experience.
He told Autosport “What I found was that the guys who had worked in the third generation project [from the late 1990s] who had come from the second generation [1980s] had very good knowledge of F1 and what it takes.”
“They were able to put the programme together in order to compete at the highest level.” Szafnauer says that one engineer was able to extract more BPH from the engine, which was just a little bit lighter than the BMW and a little bit more powerful.
He says that Yusuke Hasegawa was a control engineer at the time, but says he is not sure if they have the depth of experience to develop their power unit. Another problem may be Honda’s decision to keep its main F1 operation in Japan has been cited as a factor in its difficulties.
During their last spell in Formula one, Honda based there assemble in the UK, with All the design, development and manufacturing happened in Japan and it didn’t have an impact.
“You need to understand the task and how difficult it is.”
A return to Mercedes power for McLaren has been mooted, but Szafnauer – whose Force India team is a Mercedes customer – believes sticking with Honda is McLaren’s best bet.
Avoiding a team war
Ross Brawn says that his long-term planning for the sport is by implementing the strategy that Liberty Media wants is the new ownership’s way of “avoiding a war” between teams over future rules.
The managing director of motorsports has repeatedly spoken about moving away from the short term planning that was used by Bernie Ecclestone. Brawn recently appointed a new team of experienced F1 engineers to help shape Grand Prix racing’s future rulebook.
He believes this team of engineers is the best way of avoiding disagreements between teams and stops them focusing on their own individual interests.
Brawn told Autosport “What I’ve always felt in F1 is that short-term fixes – unless there’s something that’s so obvious that there can be no argument – create the most friction.”
“Short-term changes almost inevitably favour one team over another, and that provokes hostility. If you’re talking about something that’s going to happen in three years’ time.”
“There’s more balance because teams know they can respond properly, and in my experience, there’s less resistance to those sort of initiatives.” He says talks about the 2021 engine regulations have been extremely constructive.
That’s all from F1 Today this week and Jason Fluhrer will be bringing you full coverage of the Austrian and British Grand Prix’s. F1 Today returns Monday 24TH of July. Preview here