F1 Today – 07/10/2020

F1 Today

Vettel speaks about Ferrari failure

Sebastian Vettel has given an interview to F1 Beyond The Grid podcast about why he has “failed” on his Ferrari F1 mission, admitting there were “fights I shouldn’t have picked”.

He also revealed what convinced him to join a “fun” Aston Martin project for 2021. The four-times champion has been subject to huge amounts of speculation this year, after Ferrari deciding back in May that they wouldn’t renew the four-time champion’s contract.

Ferrari is currently uncompetitive, the much-fancied link-up between F1’s most successful team and one of its most successful drivers will therefore end without a title after six years.

While Vettel insisted, he has “no regrets” about leaving Red Bull to chase his dream in red, he confessed that “it is true that I have failed, because I set myself the mission to win the championship with Ferrari.”

The German explained, “There’s things that I should have done better, things I probably should have seen earlier, fights I shouldn’t have picked. But then I think everything that happened brought me to where I am now.”

“I’m generally not talking about stuff happens on the track. Losing the car in Hockenheim [2018] in half-wet, half-dry conditions, many people point that one out as a low point.”

“But I’m not talking about things like that, more about what’s going on. If I am fair, and harsh, then I have failed. Were there reasons? Probably yes. But I don’t accept them as excuse.”

Speaking about his 2017 and 2018 title battles with Lewis Hamilton he said, he had picked fights which “maybe looking back, weren’t worth fighting”.

Vettel says that fighting is probably he had picked fights which “maybe looking back, weren’t worth fighting”. But it was his nature to fight these battles with points a stake.

Asked about his move to Aston Martin, currently Racing Point, he said owner Lawrence Stroll had convinced him, along with their scope for on and off-track growth. He says all the boxes, performance, where the team is and where its going, made it quite easy for him.

Adding “It is very different to Ferrari, I think it’s an incredible challenging journey for the whole team, and me joining… I hope I can contribute a lot of things and do good in the car, and outside the car.”

 

Mercedes to push AMG branding

Mercedes parent company has announced that the AMG branding is expected to feature more prominently on Mercedes’ Formula One cars next year. The move comes following months of speculation that Daimler was considering selling its F1 team.

The team is already officially registered as the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team, but Daimler wants to deepen the links between its performance brand AMG and its on-track success. As it looks towards it seventh consecutive world title this year, Mercedes are hoping F1 becomes cost neutral for its parent company over the coming years.

The announcement on Tuesday will be seen as the Daimler chairman Ola Källenius’s first real outline of his vision for the company since taking over as chairman last June.

Källenius said, “Formula One as the pinnacle of motorsport, the highest form of performance, we will use the technology we have developed in Formula One for performance hybrids and other exciting technologies in the future and put that into our AMG cars.”

“With Project One we are taking a Formula One powertrain and putting it on the road, so it comes naturally to us to leverage Formula One even more for AMG going forward.”

Although Mercedes plans to push all its brands toward electrification over the coming years, it still believes the hybrid technology used in F1 will be relevant to its performance models.

Källenius used the example of the Project One hypercar, which is powered by a modified F1 engine, as an example of technology transfer between motorsport and the AMG brand.

The announcement shows that Mercedes still believes that the sport is important for his brand, less than a week after Honda announced its decision to pull out of F1 at the end of 2021 to focus its R&D efforts on electrification.

 

Setting up for history starting at the Nürburgring

The next six weeks could be key in deciding the world championship, with four circuits which were not on the original calendar this year. The Nürburgring, Portimao, Imola and Istanbul were added as the European season was extended due to the pandemic.

This weekend the Nürburgring makes its return, the ‘Green Hell’ will ensure its position of holding a Grands Prix across every decade of the world championship’s history.

The first twenty two races took place around the infamous 14.2-mile Nordschleife, dubbed ‘The Green Hell’ by Sir Jackie Stewart before the significantly shorter Grand Prix track was created for a return in 1984.

Sebastian Vettel was the winner in 2013, before the race dropped off on financial grounds of its race-share agreement with Hockenheim for the German GP.

It’s the latest running of a Grand Prix at the Nürburgring since 1995, with cold temperatures and rain are forecast for the race weekend, which begins on Friday.

Lewis Hamilton is on course to take his ninety-first career win soon, if he does manage that this weekend he would equal Michael Schumacher’s ninety-one wins at a circuit where the German won a record five times.

Schumacher’s son Mick makes his Friday practice debut, Hamilton has his second chance to equal the F1 great’s all-time wins record on Sunday. The young Schumacher leads the F2 championship ahead of the final rounds in Bahrain in November and December.

One record which will fall, if Kimi Raikkonen starts the race, is the record for number of starts, the Finn will become the most experienced F1 driver of all time when he starts his 322 Grands Prix, one more Rubens Barrichello.

Barrichello has held the record since Istanbul 2008 when he passed Riccardo Patrese’s record of 256 starts and completed his final race at his home Grand Prix at Interlagos in 2011 setting the record at 321.

 

You can read more in our Prixview

 

Rio reportedly signs a deal to host Grand Prix

The prospect of the Brazilian Grand Prix returning to Autódromo de Deodoro in Rio de Janeiro have moved a step further after F1 CEO Chase Carey confirmed that he has agreed a deal with the organisation behind the event.

The plan is to build the circuit on a military base near the Camboata Forest which was used for the 2016 Olympic Games, including hockey, rugby sevens, shooting, BMX, mountain biking, show jumping and the modern pentathlon.

The planned circuit is located in the Camboata Forest, and its construction would involve the felling of thousands of trees. The previous circuit was demolished in 2011-12 to make way for the Barra Olympic Park.

Motorsport.com has obtained letters between Carey and Rio’s acting governor Claudio Castro, Carey confirmed that a deal to run the race has been signed with the promoter, pending the granting of permission to proceed with the building of the venue.

Carey wrote: “I am writing to update you that we have now finalised race agreements with Rio Motorsports LLC to host, stage and promote Formula 1 events in Rio de Janeiro.

“These agreements are ready for execution and announcement by Formula 1 as soon as all necessary licences have been issued by the relevant authorities, INEA/CECA, in Brazil/Rio de Janeiro.”

However environmental groups will criticise the move because of its environmental impact of the circuit construction project. Since taking office, President Jair Bolsonaro has planned to open up the Amazon for mining, logging and agriculture.

Currently, there is no deal in place for next years race with either Rio or Sao Paulo, Interlagos hasn’t signed a deal beyond 2020 and this year’s Grand Prix was cancelled due to coronavirus.

Carey’s letter does not specify that the race has to be run in Deodoro, so attention could yet move to an alternative site.

The current deal for the Brazilian Grand Prix to run at Interlagos came to an end this year, amid a poor relationship between the Sao Paulo promoter and the current management of F1.

Liberty Media discovered Interlagos wasn’t due to pay a fee for the last few years of the contract as a legacy of a deal agreed with Bernie Ecclestone.

 

Honda withdrawal could bring forward regulation change

Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul believes that Honda’s impending withdrawal from the sport should trigger an earlier than planned change of power unit regulations.

The current turbo-hybird regulations are due to remain in place until the end of 2025, and discussions are already underway about what direction F1 technology should take after that. F1 motorsport and technical managing director, Ross Brawn has publicly acknowledged that no new manufacturer is likely to join the sport until new regulations come into force.

Abiteboul suggests that Honda’s withdrawal indicates that the current rules are not as successful as they should be, and that the change should be brought forward from 2026 in order to encourage other manufacturers to enter.

He told Motorsport.com, “I want to be very clear that we take no satisfaction in the Honda situation. We need to call it the way it is, it’s not a positive development for F1.”

“We want an F1 with car makers, with OEMs, with engine suppliers, and being down to three engine manufacturers is not a positive development. We need to draw some clear conclusions from this situation, and it’s something I’ve been urging the governing body to look at more carefully.”

Abiteboul says the engine situation is both technological and financially unsustainable and needed changing sooner. He is also expecting there will be some discussion of the next engine regulation change in 2026.

He explained there was a lot of cost involved in just in development and technology, with Honda’s withdrawal not reflecting well on F1. He believes the sport has failed to promote its own push for efficiency credentials.

“It’s just more evidence that we have failed in putting together the right messaging and the right marketing of these engine regulations, which are mind blowing – there is nothing more advanced in the world in terms of automotive powertrain.”

Abiteboul says the manufacturers have failed collectively in prompting technology which is a collective failure.

 

Red Bull dismisses Verstappen exit clause

Red Bull has dismissed reports that Honda’s decision to quit F1 at the end of 2021 means that Max Verstappen can trigger an exit clause in his contract.

The Dutchman has committed his future to the team until the end of 2023, having joined the team and taking his first win at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix. Last weeks announcement of Honda’s withdrawal, prompted reports claiming that Verstappen has break clauses in his contract that are dependent on engine suppliers.

Speaking to Red Bull’s TV network Servus TV, team principal Christian Horner dismissed the reports of Verstappen has that clause in his contract. He says, “There is no such clause in his contract The contracts between the driver and the team are private, but there is definitely no engine-related clause in Max’s contract.”

“He is competitive. He feels very comfortable in the team and believes strongly in the Honda program. I think he also sees that Honda has brought forward the engine from 2022 to 2021.”

“That is encouraging, of course. So we will take another step forward next year. He’s excited about this, and he still has a long way to go until 2022.” Red Bull has been aware of Honda’s decision for some time, it has not yet opened any serious discussions with potential future engine suppliers.

Its widely expected that Red Bull is likely to return to Renault and a change of leadership with the arrival of new CEO Luca de Meo has triggered a change of atmosphere at the car manufacturer and Horner has suggested his views of the company have changed.

Horner says they need to start thinking about an engine partner now, considering all possibilities and it was important that to have enough power to challenge Mercedes in the coming years.

Adding “Of course I understand why people assume that we will talk to Renault. Since the separation, Renault has changed. The new board brings a lot of fresh wind and some changes. Things are moving forward.”

Horner believes that the cost to a new manufacturer is too high and that no new manufacturer will enter F1 until the cost comes down.

 

McLaren impacted by wind sensitivity

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl says it “sucks” that his team’s 2020  car’s form is so impacted by wind sensitivity issues. While the team is currently third in the constructors’ championship, their season has been hampered by weather.

both Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris find themselves struggling to get comfortable with the car if there is a strong tailwind, especially in qualifying when the time gap between cars is so close.

In Sochi Sainz said he struggled in the first sector with the tailwind, saying “We had a lot of tailwind in Sector One and all of a sudden our car was not any more in the sweet spot. And we were suffering a lot more with car balance issues.”

He added: “I don’t like speaking a lot publicly about the issues that we have in our car, but we do know we have a wind sensitivity [issue], and we do feel like it affected us quite a lot in Mugello.” Sainz says he didn’t want to blame anyone.

McLaren is hoping that an aero upgrade package based around its nose would be based around its new nose concept, Seidl said that technical director James Key and his team would be trying to address the wind sensitivity problem.

He also believes they have already made steps forward, but now the aim was to get on top of the issue which is a complicated matter for teams to solve.

 

Hamilton not on the same level as Fangio or Clark

Sir Jackie Stewart says that wins and titles alone don’t put Lewis Hamilton on the same level as the likes of Juan Manuel Fangio or Jim Clark. Hamilton is on the verge of equalling Michael Schumacher’s ninety-one wins this weekend.

The Englishman is also on course to break that record and equal Schumacher’s haul of seven titles, leaving the door wide open for Hamilton to become the standalone record holder in both categories by the end of the current regulations.

Despite the number of wins and his dominance in turbo hybrid era, Stewart isn’t ready to put Hamilton among the sport’s greats. The three-time champion says Fangio and Clark are still the best Formula 1 has seen, while Hamilton’s numbers have been helped by longer seasons and the modern dedication to competing in a single category.

The Englishman is also on course to break Michael Schumacher’s ninety-one wins if he wins the next two races at the Nürburgring and Portimão. Stewart told the In The Fast Lane podcast “I don’t think that you can account that sort of level of success, just because today there are 20, 22 races.”

“Juan Manuel Fangio is in my mind the greatest driver that ever lived, with Jim Clark the second greatest, even ahead of [Ayrton] Senna. But those people only raced sometimes six to eight or nine races a year in Formula 1. They were driving sports cars, GT cars, etcetera.”

“But the world championship now, Lewis Hamilton, or any of the other top contenders, are doing 22 races – only in Formula 1. Not in touring cars, not in GT cars, not in IndyCars, not in Can-Am cars…”

Stewart says that is “almost unfair” advantage enjoyed by the Mercedes squad in recent seasons also works against Hamilton in the ‘all-time great’ stakes. But says that comment wasn’t to diminish Hamilton’s skills, and suggested that the eras were different as Fangio and Clark would switch teams.

He says that Hamilton made the right decision to leave McLaren and join Mercedes, but it has got to the point where it has become almost unfair on the rest of the field. Stewart says that he needs to take his hat off to Mercedes as they have built a team which has the best engineers, getting the best money that most other teams couldn’t get, apart from Red Bull.

Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.