Mercedes could make Bottas champion – Hakkinen
Former world champion Mika Hakkinen believes that if Valtteri Bottas’s move to Mercedes is confirmed he could become world champion. Speaking on MTV he said for a driver, “The situation could not be better for a driver – a team wants you.”
“Especially if it’s a team that has dominated Formula One such as Mercedes, it’s a dream situation. I can imagine Bottas winning the championship,” he added.
“When you get to the team which is on top of the mountain, and which is able to win championships and races, then it’s up to you to develop, to take wins and the championship.”
The Fin has been the leading driver to fill the seat since Nico Rosberg shocked the sport by announcing his retirement day’s after winning the title. Its believed that Williams want the entire £14 million cost of their 2017 engine supply to be written off in exchange for releasing Bottas.
If the Finn does move on, Williams are set to recall Felipe Massa from retirement to take over from Bottas as team mate to rookie driver Lance Stroll. Bottas is seen as the best candidate as Mercedes are reluctant to promote Pascal Wehrlein as he only has a year of experience in F1.
Vettel losing because of Ferrari – Ecclestone
Berine Ecclestone says that Ferrari is to blame for Sebastian Vettel’s bad form and they need fresh blood to win. Vettel’s debut season for Ferrari in 2015, resulted in race wins and being a strong challenger to Mercedes.
Last season Ferrari had high hopes of challenging Mercedes on track for the title, however the team failed to score a win and fell behind Red Bull in the constructor’s championship. Ferrari also struggled with their pace and reliability causing frustration for the German, including that now famous outburst in Mexico.
President Sergio Marchionne has suggested he should calm down. Ecclestone told German newspaper Bild “Ferrari has fallen back again into the era before [Michael] Schumacher and [Jean] Todt.”
“Too many Italians are working for the team at the moment. I have nothing against Italy, but to have a firm rule within a team doesn’t run in Italian DNA.” He added. There appear to be tensions between Vettel and team boss Maurizio Arrivabene.
Ecclestone added he thinks Vettel suffered from the team’s slump in form, rather than his own doing. Adding “Ferrari needs fresh blood. I’m sure Sebastian does all he can do to be successful [with Ferrari]. The question is how much are they willing to let him do.”
“It’s not his fault that he doesn’t win. It’s down to the car and the team. Sebastian’s mission is Ferrari. The way I know him he wants to fulfil this mission first.”
Ms Williams doesn’t understand criticism of pay drivers
Claire Williams the Deputy Team Principal of Williams says she doesn’t understand the criticism of Formula One drivers who bring financial support for their teams.
This season the eighteen year old Lance Stroll will make his debut for the team, following the support of his billionaire father Lawrence who has over seen his rapid rise into F1. Stroll’s programme has been similar to the one by countryman Jacques Villeneuve.
The sport has face criticism in recent years for pushing for younger and younger drivers as well as promoting young drivers who bring significant financial support over those with greater ability but less monetary might. But Ms Williams says the loss of manufacturer support and sponsors; because of the 2007-08 banking crisis is to blame.
Williams told Autosport “With every driver in Formula 1 there are commercial considerations for any TP [team principal]. [Fernando] Alonso comes with financial backing – maybe not personal but he attracts sponsors, Santander is there because of him; Jenson [Button] exactly the same thing; Sergio Perez.”
“I don’t understand why in this sport that is such big business, and where teams rely on having budgets in excess of a million sterling if they’re to succeed, why there is such a negative connotation around having a driver that brings backing.” Ms Williams also pointed out it’s a wider motorsport issue.
She said that people criticise drivers who have backing without the support the teams wouldn’t survive and then the sport may not survive.
I thought it would be tougher – Palmer
Jolyon Palmer says he expected last season to be tougher because of the lack of preparation that Renault had. The French manufacturer had a difficult return after taking over the Lotus team and having to redesign it to take a Renault power unit.
This meant the team had a difficult season, finishing ninth with over half there points being earnt at a single race. Palmer told Autosport “I thought it would be harder than it was in terms of car performance, even though that sounds strange because we’ve been struggling,” Palmer told Autosport.
“We both got into Q2 in [the first race of the season] Australia and I never thought that would be possible at the start of the year. I’d been around the team all winter and there was nothing going on in the factory in December, it was a ghost town.”
He added that work didn’t start on their car until the takeover was complete and that meant they started the season on the back foot. Renault showed progress in the second half of the season and Palmer was surprised the team was able to fight in the midfield.
Palmer said “To be in a position where we could fight with McLaren, Haas and Toro Rosso regularly over the second half of the year showed the progress. In the first half of the season, we were miles behind all of them.”
He added he thinks by securing another season means he met his personal targets meaning he could be in a position to get strong results as the team gets more competitive in the seasons ahead.
F1 reached its peak in the mid 2000’s
Fernando Alonso says that Formula One reached its peak in the mid 2000’s and the legendary clashes between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost would be considered boring now.
The two times champion has been a critic of the previous regulations which he believes has compromised what many consider as the championship’s halcyon period. He says in the 1980’s and early 90’s that “Formula 1 at that time, it was very boring,” he said of the Senna/Prost era.”
He says “If you see a race now from ’85, ’88 or ’92, you will sleep through the race, because it was two McLarens, the fourth guy was lapped and there was 25 seconds between each car. There were 10 cars not finishing because the reliability was so-so.”
During the mid to late 2000’s, the races were a lot closer with more manufacturers booming and Alonso believes this was the high point for the sport. Adding “We didn’t understand that situation, probably. The costs were very high, technology was very high, some manufacturers pulled out.”
Alonso believes that when drivers retire, they become a idol then as when you’re racing you are criticised. He says that “[Lewis] Hamilton, [Sebastian] Vettel, they will be idols for the kids in go-karts now.”
The Spaniard says that the drivers don’t have the same feeling now. Saying We have a car that is way too slow with no grip. So we are sitting in a single-seater but with the feeling of a GT.”
However is optimistic that the increased performance of the 2017 cars which are intended to lap four-to-five seconds faster due to improved aerodynamics will make F1 more to his taste.
Mercedes announce new paint partner
Mercedes have announced that they are extending their supplier agreement with Axalta Cota Systems. Axala is a company is a company which develops paint and coating for vehicles of leading manufacturers.
Their customers include all of the leading manufacturers of cars and commercial vehicles, body shops engaged in refinishing and fleet branding, and a wide range of industrial products. Axala say they pride themselves on making innovative and high performance coatings with a passion for racing.
They claim that there brand weights less and will contribute to the performance of the car. Team boss Toto Wolff said “We are delighted to be expanding our relationship with Axalta and building on the developments that we have made with their Spies Hecker products over the past few years.”
“Our Silver Arrow cars are the highlight of the team’s brand during the race weekends and the finish achieved by our Paint Shop with the help of these superb products is outstanding.”
Chairman of Axalta, Charlie Shaver said “We are very excited to expand our relationship with Mercedes- AMG Petronas Motorsport and give millions of racing enthusiasts and our customers around the world the opportunity to see Axalta on the Formula One track.”
Gutierrez to take part in Formula E
Former Haas and Sauber driver Esteban Gutierrez looks set to make his Formula E debut this season according to the series CEO Alejandro Agag. Agag made the announcement in Mexico City which is due to hold a round in April.
It’s believed that the Mexican will replace Loic Duval when he takes part in DTM, which clashes with the Paris and Brussels ePrix’s as the dates clash with the Lausitzring and Norisring DTM rounds. But it’s not known if he will race at his home ePrix in April, though it is believed he will race.
This will be another boost for the series which launched in 2014 with a number of former F1 drivers, including world champion Jacques Villeneuve take part. Gutiérrez may also take part in next month race in Buenos Aires, but this hasn’t been confirmed.