Melbourne postponed says Stroll
Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll has told the Reuters news agency that the Australian Grand Prix will be postponed to the back end of the Formula One season with Bahrain replacing it as the opening race in March.
Throughout the week there has been mounting suggestions from teams and sources in Liberty Media that the opening race of the season is set to be postponed because the coronavirus pandemic and quarantine restrictions, has been widely flagged in the media but is yet to be confirmed by Formula One or local organisers.
Stroll told the media, “Melbourne has been, it’s not officially announced but it will be, not cancelled but postponed. We will go there sometime in the fall (autumn) and the first race will be Bahrain.”
He added “I do believe we’re in for a difficult two or three months. There is a light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine. I think the first few races will be slightly challenging.
“But Formula One management and the FIA, I really take my hat off to them to deliver 17 races as we did last year in 23 weeks, without really any major hiccups, in a very impressive manner.”
It is understood at the F1 Commission meeting on Monday that the teams were informed of the postponement. They also agreed to for pre-season testing to move from Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya to Bahrain, without setting a date.
The last time the opening race was postponed before 2020 was the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix, which was ultimately cancelled because of anti-government protests caused by the Arab Spring.
Aston Martin gives a glimpse of new car
Aston Martin gave the first glimpse of there 2021 car when they launched their title sponsor, Cognizant on Thursday. The British manufacture announced a multi-year deal with the IT company as they return to F1 for the first time since 1960.
The team also gave strong suggestions that they are to drop the pink used by Racing Point and use the traditional British racing green for their car. A Tweet said, “We’re delighted to announce a multi-year title partnership with @Cognizant. Discover how Cognizant, one of the world’s leading IT brands will play a key role in empowering the team as we take to the grid later this year”
The team are looking to build on there strong 2020, with the arrival of four-time champion Sebastian Vettel and the new investment in the team brought by it backers lead by Lawrence Stroll.
Chairman Stroll said, “The return of Aston Martin to Formula One after more than 60 years away is a landmark moment in the history of the sport. Everyone knows what Aston Martin stands for, but the Formula One team will allow us to take the essence of the brand to new places, building on the strong foundations laid by the previous iterations of the team.”
The Canadian said he was proud to begin this new chapter with the support of Cognizant, as the digital revolution continues. Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer says the long term partnership was more than a branding exercise.
Adding “With a new factory already under construction, Cognizant’s expertise and resources will add value in all areas of our IT operations and make a valuable contribution to our performance on track.”
Stroll says 2020 answered own questions on ability
Lance Stroll says his performances last season has helped him to answer “a lot of questions to myself” over his ability, building his confidence in a good Racing Point.
The Canadian had his best season in F1 scoring more than his combined points between 2017-19, as well as finishing on the podium twice and taking his maiden pole position in Istanbul.
His strong results alongside Sergio Perez allowed the team to finish fourth in the constructors’ championship, narrowly losing out to McLaren in the fight for third as it regularly competed towards the head of the midfield.
Despite the controversy about the design based on the 2019 Mercedes, the team benefited from financial stability through the design process following Lawrence Stroll’s takeover in 2018. Stroll Jr said the 2020 Racing Point was “by far” the best car he had driven through his F1 career.
He said it also helped build confidence in his own ability after previously struggling in worse-performing cars, particularly at Williams. Stroll told Motorsport.com, “If you get a good car, you get good results, and then you just build confidence from there. Sometimes when I was in a bad car, if anything, it kind of backfired on me.”
“Especially in the beginning of your career, when you’re in a bad car and you don’t know what it’s like to be in a good car until you sit in one, you kind of start to question what your ability is like, and if it is as good as the others that are in good cars, because you just don’t know what a good car feels like.”
Stroll says that he proved a lot to himself, in terms of his own questions which he hadn’t had the opportunity to drive a car which performs well. ]
The Canadian became the youngest driver in F1 history to score a podium in his debut season when he finished third for Williams at the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix and recorded a handful of further points finishes through his rookie campaign.
Williams slumped in form the following year when he could only manage two points finishes before he joined Racing Point, now Aston Martin, following his father’s takeover.
Stroll said his previous form left him asking himself “the simple kind of questions” about his ability.
Stroll said, “Am I capable of delivering results?” “To finish up at the front? Am I capable of qualifying up at the front? You just don’t get those results. A lot of it also wasn’t all down to results, it was just like, ‘what does a competitive car feel like?’ How much better is it?”
He says last year he learnt what the advantage of having a good car was, Stroll explained that it allows you to attack the corners harder and push the car harder.
Mercedes needs to maintain its drivers’ confidence
Mercedes F1 CEO and team principal Toto Wolff says the team must do more to help maintain its drivers’ confidence levels, rather than rush between “exuberance and depression” over small changes in form.
The Austrian says that Valtteri Bottas’s difficulties in the latter part of 2020 highlights the change of mindset when a driver challenges for titles. Wolff suggested that this wasn’t a factor which was always appreciated.
Bottas had a difficult Sakhir weekend where he was overshadowed by stand-in teammate George Russell, the Finn and Wolff had talks to discuss how best they could help support each other more. One change made for the F1 season finale in Abu Dhabi was a request from Bottas for Wolff to be more encouraging on the team radio.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Wolff said that the driver’s mindset should be something that should be done, and the team needed to stop putting too much emphasis on single weekend performances.
Saying, “What we need to look at, and what we need to work out collaboratively, is that for drivers, it’s all about winning the world championship. When that has been decided, we need to find out how to keep the energy levels high. But the margin between winning and losing, between hero and zero, is so small in this sport.”
He says that if Bottas had led the way in Sakhir and won the race no one would have criticised him. The Finn had a good to a less good start to Russell, and that was down to a good or less good start. Mercedes then mustn’t swing between exuberance and depression in terms of our judgement on drivers.
Wolff says this must be seen as the average to help the drivers to develop their abilities and achieve sustainable performances.
Although Bottas was beaten by Hamilton by a margin of almost five victories in terms of points, he said that doesn’t tell the full story. He pointed to the fact that the Finn lost a lot of points through events which were outside his control.
Adding “I think he could have had a handful more victories. And the championship could have stayed more open much, much longer. He performs on a very high level. There’s no reason to question him if he has those fantastic weekends with top performances.”
“Panic” of an inconclusive Coronavirus test – Ricciardo
Daniel Ricciardo has spoken about the “panic” he felt after he had an inconclusive Coronavirus test at the Russian Grand Prix. All the people entering the paddock had to undergo regular testing and were not allowed to enter paddock without a negative test result for COVID-19.
Three drivers ended up missing races as a result of contracting the virus. Sergio Perez missed both races at Silverstone, his teammate Lance Stroll withdrew from the race at the Nürburgring with an illness which turned out to be the virus, and Lewis Hamilton was absent from the Sakhir Grand Prix after contracting the virus.
Earlier this week, Lando Norris tested positive while on holiday in Dubai ahead of a training camp. Speaking to a group of media, Norris’s new teammate revealed that he had a scare of an inconclusive test result.
He told Autosport, “I did actually wake up one morning with” an inconclusive result. “I had a scare at like 6am one morning. I was then trying to figure it out, and had to get tested again. There was a bit of panic, and that wasn’t fun.”
“I was fine in the end, but that obviously was something I hadn’t kind of gone through before. And then you kind of start playing games in your head, like ‘do I feel a little [unwell], maybe I do have it! That was a bit of panic one morning actually.”
Ricciardo said that his inconclusive result came between the Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello and the Russian Grand Prix at the end of September.
A similar incident happened with Alex Albon, also at the Nürburgring when Stroll tested positive. Through the season drivers were careful where they went, with Ricciardo saying he became more and more disciplined with isolating or just taking care of myself.
Mazepin and Schumacher not friends
Mick Schumacher says he isn’t friends with his Haas teammate Nikita Mazepin has ignited a rivalry.
The Russian driver has already been criticised after a social media video showing him groping a woman’s breast while in his car, has added another layer to his persona by distancing himself from his new teammate at the US-owned F1 team.
Schumacher attempted to foster a working relationship with his new teammate by explaining that the pair were familiar with each other from their early days in kart racing. The German told Match TV, “He was very nice and there was healthy respect between us as teammates.
“Then we lost touch with each other a bit and, of course, we have both changed since then.”
Mazepin added “We are not friends. At most, we are old acquaintances as we raced together in karts.” He also says that he has no interest in Schumacher’s famed name in the sport, and said that, if anything, his higher-profile teammate will race under more pressure.
Norris has grown as an F1 driver
McLaren has revealed the ways that Lando Norris has grown as a driver, even though he arrived in the sport with some great traits already. The Englishman is heading into his third season with the team, after scoring his first podium in Austria last year.
Norris showed progress on the track last season following his rookie season, the team says that they have been impressed with his approach which stands out as much as his place. McLaren’s head of race operations Andrea Stella says that his approach stands out as much as his pace.
Asked by Motorsport.com, how Norris has developed as a driver, Stella said “I think Lando is a really strong racer now. I would like to add that occasionally, he has been affected by some technical problems.”
“Lando, one quality I really like about him is that he doesn’t cry. He doesn’t say: ‘I had this problem and this problem, and these are the problems. I’m the best in the world. But because of this problem, I couldn’t show I’m the best.’”
Stella says McLaren are definitely witnessing his growth as a driver, as well as his consistency, capacity to stay on target, drive to the stint he is required by strategy and tyre management.
He also said Norris is more mature when it comes to feedback, which comes from his growth in his own confidence. Norris has according to Stella been naturally honest with McLaren since he started.
Adding, “I think we helped him separate what is the car, and what is the driver. Very often the driver actually needs to be more demanding with the car rather than simply thinking I need to adapt, or I’m not doing a good enough job at the corner.”