Ferrari consider Mercedes as the only target
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says that the gap to Mercedes cannot be considered as the teams only target, as they are seeking more downforce. This season the team prioritised aerodynamic efficiency over downforce, as a result, it has struggled.
The Italian manufacturer is trying to rectify that deficiency with a series of in-season updates but is aware that will not be enough for next year. Binotto told Motorsport.com, “We are lacking maximum downforce. There are circuits where we’re not running to maximum downforce so in that case, it can be different.”
“We are certainly seeking more downforce, already in the current year. In the second part of the season, we will try to put whatever maximum downforce we can put on the car and the car for next year will require even more.”
He says that the team cannot consider the current gap as a single target, aware that the 2020 development race is well underway and are trying to increase downforce next season. In Budapest, both cars more than a minute behind race winner Lewis Hamilton at the finish.
However, it was not the team’s worst weekend for outright pace – although it does just sneak into the top five, once Germany is discounted because of the team’s unrepresentative qualifying pace.
Its strongest weekends have been thwarted by errors and reliability problems, and Binotto admitted maximum downforce is not the team’s “only weakness”
Binotto added, “Not only because having the same regulations as next year, whatever we can do this year will be to the benefit of next year’s car as well.”
The team’s target for the second half of the season will be to return to winning ways.
Thinking differently when battling Hamilton
Valtteri Bottas says he might “think differently” when he is next battling with his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton after he lost out on the opening lap of the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The Finn followed Mercedes rules and gave Hamilton space on the outside of Turn Two, which cost him momentum. He then felt the world champion was then “a bit on the limit” when Hamilton slipped and made contact with Bottas.
Seconds after that Bottas clashed with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, the incident giving him front wing damage that ruined his race. He admitted he wouldn’t have left as much room at Turn 2 if he had been battling for position with someone else.
He told Motorsport.com, “That’s how it goes. “We’re also here as a team, we want to maximise the points, and we don’t want to compromise that side of things. Racing still can be good even though you don’t push others off the track if you do it nice and fair and hard, there still can be good respect.
“Obviously Turn 3 was a bit on the limit, [Lewis] didn’t leave much room, and next time like in Turn 2, where I lost, I’ll think differently. But we both still have the respect, and we know the limits.”
Team principal Toto Wolff made it clear that his drivers are not allowed to take their contest to the sort of extremes seen in Austria, where Max Verstappen passed Leclerc, and the Ferrari driver went off the road.
The FIA deemed that that kind of move, where the driver who loses out had the option to back off, is acceptable. However, Wolff says it’s not right between teammates.
Wolff said “It was just a really unfortunate half-lap for [Valtteri]. There is an outside line outside Turn 2, and if you stick your nose out there and you are able to hold the position through the corner you are on the inside. We’ve seen it with the Toro Rosso’s and in F2. The outside is a possible line.”
Verstappen fight thrill like no other – Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton has described his fight for the win at the Hungarian Grand Prix with Max Verstappen as a thrill like no other a racing driver can have. The two drivers had dominated the talk in the few days between Hockenheim and Budapest.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner suggested last week that Verstappen is current the best driver in F1 right now and Hamilton responding by saying he would happily have the Dutchman join him at Mercedes to prove himself in equal machinery.
Hamilton told ESPN, “Honestly, there really is no better feeling from a racing driver’s point of view when you have a race like this and face a really strong competitor and a great driver like Max at their best.”
Verstappen has shown he can race hard and cleanly, something he may have lacked a bit in recent years after the two drivers avoiding contact as they went wheel-to-wheel as they jousted for the lead.
Hamilton added, “Max is at his best and is continuing to perform great. It’s really comforting and really important to see the respect level between us. It was really respectful driving and I hope to continue that.”
He says he went into the battle knowing that it was going to happen, praising the Dutchman for his good car control and attempts to try and pass him. Hamilton says there was no need to be aggressive, and it was about pulling off a clean move.
This will, like following the duel at Paul Ricard, lead to many questions about the future of F1, but Hamilton is thankful that Verstappen and Red Bull has helped change the narrative going into the summer break.
Hamilton added “I really am happy that, particularly after a period of time where everyone was so negative talking about the sport, and then all of a sudden we get this big step up from the Red Bulls and now we have a really good battle on our hands and it looks like it will stay.”
Title challenge requires Mercedes mess up – Horner
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes that only a “gargantuan” blunder by Mercedes would be enough to allow Max Verstappen to challenge the two Mercedes for the title.
The Dutchman’s recent form has made him the high scoring driver in the last four races has made the German manufacturer convinced that he is now a threat. However, Horner is not as convinced believing that the sixty-nine point gap with nine races to go is unrealistic.
Asked about the team’s championship hopes by Motorsport.com, Horner said “Lewis has close to a three-race advantage with nine races to go, so he would have to not turn up for three races. It is hugely unlikely. They [Mercedes] would have to f**k up by gargantuan proportions not to win this championship.”
“I think our target in the second half of the year is very much to close that gap. And as we get more performance on the car as Honda continues to make progress, this is very much a building year as we transition into 2020.”
Horner says the car has improved rapidly since the team introduced an upgrade at the Austrian Grand Prix, which helped to improve the car balance and the confidence of the drivers. He admitted that the regulation changes have hurt the way the team ran its front wing, but had recovered the deficit.
He added, “I think definitely we have made really good progress there in the last few months and hopefully with the development we see in the second half of the year, we have got a good vein of development.”
Mexican contract set for renewal
Organisers of the Mexican Grand Prix have announced that the race will continue beyond the current contract, which ends after the this year’s event.
Along with Britain, Spain, Italy and Germany, Mexico City is one of five Grand Prix’s that came up for contract renewal this year, and whose promoters have been in negotiation with Liberty Media. It means that two of the five races have now agreed a new deal.
The organisers tweeted from the races Twitter account “The City of Mexico’s #FIESTA will continue! Thanks for being the best fans on the planet. Stay tuned on our social channels tomorrow to know all the details.”
The news was confirmed in a video by Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, who took over the office in December. She said, “I want to share some good news that I just received. Formula 1 is staying in Mexico City. The FIA president is going to be here tomorrow to sign it. This is good news for the city.”
“I also want to tell you that this is thanks to a group of businessmen who made this possible because this time the city is not using any public funds. It’s good news for the city. It brings tourism, it brings income, and it’s also good for the country.”
The race’s future was under threat after the withdrawal of significant public funding had meant that the future race was under serious threat, despite the huge crowds attracted since 2015, thanks largely to the presence of Sergio Perez.
The official announcement of the deal will be made at the mayor’s office on Thursday, which will coincide with Liberty’s release of its latest quarterly financial results.
According to Motorsport.com, the deal is for three years, rather than the five of the previous contract. Thus far of the five out-of-contract races, only Silverstone has been formally confirmed, so a second extended deal will allow the sport’s owners to announce some good news.
Nothing wrong with Magnussen’s driving – Steiner
Haas team principal Gunther Steiner says that he doesn’t understand the fuss made about the defensive driving by Kevin Magnussen when he was battling Daniel Ricciardo during the Hungarian Grand Prix after it earned the Dane a warning from race control.
Magnussen put up a robust defence as he fought the Renault driver, but the way he moved across the track in the braking zones led his Renault rival to complain over the radio.
With race control having been alerted about what was going on, it duly informed Haas to warn them that what its driver was doing could not continue, and a short message was passed on Magnussen. But Ricciardo believed that Magnussen deserved more than just a warning for his behaviour, Steiner says he did not see that much wrong with what his driver did.
Steiner told Motorsport.com, “Race control said he has to stop to move under braking, and that was it, and because there is another driver who does it all the time and gets away with it, that was our answer! I think we had a good battle going on for thirteenth and fourteenth, otherwise, the TV was pretty boring.”
Haas didn’t give any orders or advice itself on what to do, even though that opened the door to potential trouble if there were repeat incidents. They believed that it was not dangerous or anything, but accepts that Ricciardo wasn’t happy about it.