Honda withdrawing doesn’t affect Verstappen’s belief
Max Verstappen says Honda’s decision to quit Formula 1 does not affect his belief that Red Bull can challenge Mercedes before the end of next year.
The Japanese company announced last week that they would quit F1 after the 2021 season, leaving Red Bull needing to find a new engine for 2022. The dutchman signed a contract over the winter to remain with Red Bull until 2023.
Speaking at the press conference ahead of the Eifel Grand Prix, Verstappen said, “We are still driving with them for one and a half more years, It doesn’t [affect my confidence] at the moment.”
Honda has pledged to push on with a new engine for next year, even though they have decided to stop. Cost-saving restrictions introduced as a result of the coronavirus pandemic mean F1 teams have to use the same cars next season, although aerodynamic changes are unlimited.
Red Bull went into this season believing they could challenge Mercedes, however, the world champions have taken another step forwards. Asked about Honda’s decision, Verstappen said: “You could feel it coming. It’s a shame, but understandable from their side. But they are not going to back off now.”
Although Honda’s decision came long after he committed the next four years of his career to Red Bull, Verstappen said he was aware it was a possibility because the company had signed only a one-year extension with Red Bull late last year.
Verstappen said that the news came after he had signed a new contract, saying that his focus was on the next fifteen months and it doesn’t make sense to think about what happens after that.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said this week that Verstappen’s contract did not contain an “engine-related” clause that would allow him to leave earlier.
Benefits of fast and non-political teammate
Alex Albon believes there is a benefit to having a super-fast teammate like Max Verstappen, as he praised the Dutchman for not being ‘political.’ The British-Thai driver has struggled to get on top of the Red Bull, as well as going up against the relentless pace and experience of Verstappen.
Albon says that he has found benefit from having such a good benchmark to learn from. Asked by Motorsport.com, if he felt having a teammate like Verstappen was a blessing or a pain, Albon said: “It is both because you’re obviously against him as one of, if not, the quickest guy out on the track.”
“He’s on the limit, all the time. From FP1 to the race. So, of course, you’re always going to have a tough time to be up against him. But at the same time, the way I see it is, is you’ve got pretty much the best data as well to look at.”
He says while is experienced in F1, in a global sense he is still learning, and being able to look at Verstappen and see where he finds lap time is good to help himself improve.
Albon said at a top level of motorsport like F1 there was no way he would expect Verstappen to actively help him. However, he does like the way the Dutchman handles himself with the team.
Adding, “Everyone at this kind of stage in motorsport, they keep it to themselves. No one’s going to be accommodating to each other. But at the same time he’s definitely not hiding anything. There’s no kind of political nature about him, not in the slightest. He’s very open in how he speaks.”
Albon says that he and Verstappen have similar feedback about the car and everything was open, with them tending to go in
Schumacher tougher in his day
Former F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone believes that Michael Schumacher had it tougher in his day, in an interview timed for Lewis Hamilton’s second attempt to equal Michael Schumacher’s ninety-one wins.
The Englishman, who replaced Schumacher at Mercedes for the 2013 season. In December that year the German suffered a severe brain injury while skiing and has been out of the public eye ever since.
Ecclestone said Schumacher, who made his F1 debut in 1991, raced in a different era. He told AFP “Schumi was driving on his own more or less when he was racing in his car. Hamilton has got God knows who helping him, telling him what his tyre pressure is, speeds through corners.
“In the old days Alain Prost, who I have great admiration for, when the flag went to start the race he was on his own and it ain’t like that any more.”
Ecclestone, who turns ninety later this month, said he was not trying to undermine Hamilton’s achievements during a spell of extraordinary dominance for the British driver.
he said “You cannot say anything bad about Lewis, you cannot say he is not good, that is not the point. How good he is compared to somebody else, well he is super, super talented and would be amongst the top five drivers for the last 30 years.”
“Was he better than Michael? Would Michael have been better in that car (Mercedes)? You can’t say.”
Ecclestone says Hamilton, 35, comes from a different mould to drivers of earlier generations, who were easily identified as racing car drivers.
Saying “In general I would say he is limitless in what he gets up to. The way he dresses, if you did not know Lewis was a race driver you would never say he was a racer whereas with Nelson (Piquet) and Schuey, if you saw them you would say they were race drivers, they dressed for the role.
Hamilton against Camboata Forest track
Lewis Hamilton has said he opposes plans to hold the Brazilian Grand Prix at a new track in Rio De Janeiro to be built on land that is currently forest.
Yesterday it was announced the Deodoro circuit has agreements with F1 to hold the race but the track has not been built and its construction is facing environmental opposition.
Hamilton told the press conference, “But the most sustainable thing you can do is not tear down any trees. I don’t think it’s a smart move. There is a global crisis with deforestation.”
As we reported yesterday, the promoter at Interlagos does not have a good relationship with Liberty Media, who are determined not to return to the track. This year’s race which was due to be held in November has been cancelled because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The plan backed by president Jair Bolsonaro would involve the felling of thousands of trees and requires the approval of environmental authorities. This comes as environmental groups on other matters, which they is a failure to prevent fires in the world-famous wilderness areas of the Amazon and Pantanal, and the wider clearing of the Amazon rainforest for farmland.
Bolsonaro has described the criticisms as “disproportionate”.
Organisers also say they plan to move most of the trees and plants and add many more at the site itself and other places in the city. They also want to be the first zero-carbon circuit on the calendar.
Hamilton, who has backed several environmental causes in recent years, said: “My personal opinion is the world doesn’t need a new circuit. There are plenty of circuits that are great and I love Interlagos.”
News in Brief
Mercedes member tests positive
A member of Mercedes has tested positive for Coronavirus, the team has announced on Twitter. It’s the first case before a weekend since Sergio Perez tested positive at Silverstone and brings the total number of confirmed cases to twenty-six.
The announcement comes just under a week after the FIA reported the highest number of cases for six weeks, full figures will be published on Friday evening.
Second coldest race
The weather forecast for this weekends Eifel Grand Prix is set to be the second coldest race weekend with wind and rain forecast. The temperature is set to be eight degrees on Sunday, just three degrees above the record set in 1978 at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.
Schumacher has nothing to prove
Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel have both voiced their support for Mick Schumacher on the eve of his debut in FP1 at the Nürburgring. The German will make his first outing in the Alfa Romeo, in difficult conditions with rain forecast for the weekend. Vettel believes that Mick has done enough to land an F1 race seat in 2021.
Raikkonen dismisses contract signed rumour
Kimi Raikkonen has dismissed reports that he will celebrate becoming the most successful driver in Formula One history by signing a new contract to stay at Alfa Romeo next year.
Motorsport.com said the Finn has taken up the option to remain with the team for 2021, this weekend if he starts Sunday’s Grand Prix, he will beat Rubens Barrichello’s record of 322 race starts.
Asked about the report, Raikkonen downplayed the suggestion that he agreed a deal at the end of September when an option came up. “If you believe the news, maybe then it’s the truth. But I never had an option in my contract. So that’s pretty much telling you that it’s not true.”
Räikkönen said some things in the media were not 100% true, and he hasn’t yet signed anything.
Speaking to Motorsport.com about whether or not he cared about becoming F1’s most experienced driver, he said: “No, not really. If somebody would ask me the number I have no idea. I’ve never really looked how many races I’ve done or how many others have done.”
“Obviously people talk about it, but to me it makes no difference. I think most of the records in the future will always be broken. I’m not here because I want do ‘this many’ races. As long as I enjoy I’m happy to do it.”
is Ferrari’s most recent champion, he says that the key thing for him was that he achieved his dream of winning the title. The Finn seemed happy that he has one championship, and says for different reasons.
He added, “If I feel that I’ve done it how I wanted, then good or bad I can live with it. I always wanted to win championships [and] obviously you want to win more but we came close a few times but for many different reasons it didn’t happen. But, you know, that’s how it goes in racing.”
As part of its partnership with Ferrari, the Maranello-based team has the right to decide on who takes one of the Alfa Romeo cockpits, and it is evaluating whether to stick with Giovinazzi or promote Schumacher from F2.
Schumacher will make his F1 practice debut tomorrow with the team.
Ilott not on Haas’s 2021 shortlist
Callum Ilott is not on Haas’s shortlist for a race seat next season, despite making his practice debut with the team in FP1 tomorrow at the Eifel Grand Prix. The Englishman will replace Romain Grosjean, as he starts building on a recent test in a 2018 Ferrari F1 car at Fiorano.
Haas team principal Gunther Steiner says Ilott isn’t currently on the teams reported list of ten drivers under consideration, saying it is up to Ferrari has to decide what to do with him.
He told Motorsport.com, “He’s not on the list because he’s a Ferrari driver. He’s their driver, so therefore he’s not on the list. I don’t know what they’re doing with him, what they’re planning with him and so on. Therefore at the moment, he’s not on the list.”
“I have a lot of respect for him because he’s second in the F2 championship which means he’s pretty good. I met him the first time this morning briefly, we’ll have a meeting this afternoon, so I will learn a little bit more about him.”
Steiner did leave the team a bit of room for changing their mind, hinting he may be on the list. Ilott will be joined in opening practice at the Nurburgring by fellow Ferrari junior and current F2 title rival Mick Schumacher, who will appear for Alfa Romeo.
Ferrari has a say over one of the seats at Alfa Romeo, currently occupied by Antonio Giovinazzi, that could feature one of its young drivers next year.
Haas is yet to decide on its line-up for 2021 as it considers the futures of incumbent drivers Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, as well as those drivers without a contract for next year. Steiner says there had been no significant progress to report in making the decision ahead of this weekend’s race.
Saying “I don’t want to go into any detail of how many are there [on the shortlist]. This is not without disrespect to anything, it’s just right, then we are sitting here just speaking about something we have been covering the last two months now.”
The weekend ahead
This weekend is going to be about Lewis Hamilton’s second attempt to equal Michael Schumacher’s nine one wins, we said in the Prixview that following the difficult race in Sochi he always bounces back stronger. Hamilton will equal it, but the question is when.
This is Mercedes home Grand Prix, they haven’t won a race at the Nürburgring since 1954. They are likely to be fighting again with Red Bull, but the type of circuit it is makes it more difficult for Max Verstappen. We need to see practice to understand the conditions.
We are at the Nürburgring in October, the forecast is going to be cold and wet we have not had a race here at this time of year since 1984. Teams face a different challenge with them need to look at keeping the tyres warm and the weather forecast is for wet weather and temperatures in the teens.
Schumacher’s son Mick makes his practice debut tomorrow which will be interesting as he attempts to try and get a seat alongside Kimi Raikkonen at Alfa Romeo. We have several Ferrari young drivers debuting over the coming weeks, this could be interesting in terms of the driver market for next year.
We will bring you updates throughout the weekend and hopefully LIVE coverage on Saturday and Sunday. Prixview