Sprint races for ‘historical’ races from 2022
Formula One CEO Stefano Domenicali says that the organisation plans to focus sprint format events on “certain historical Grands Prix” from 2022. The Italian also indicated that the third event will take place at Interlagos, following the second trial at Monza next month.
While the circuit in Sao Paulo has long been suggested as the venue, the sport has long speculated that the trial would happen at Interlagos. However, the pandemic means there are still uncertainties around the second half of the season, as well as places like Austin expressing an interest in holding a sprint race.
Speaking to Wall Street investors, Domenicali said, “First of all, when we talk about the sprint format, the idea was to offer something different in order to make sure that there was something new that we can offer to all the stakeholders in F1.”
“We have said that we wanted to do three tests, one has been done in Silverstone, another one will be in Monza. And the other one will be at the end of the season in Brazil. At the end of this complete test, we’re going to have a plan to see what will be the next step.”
He says that following Silverstone, people did tune in to Friday qualifying. Domenicali says it was ‘dramatically positive’ because it brought attention, interest to TV, and also partners because thanks to that we have brought in, for example, Crypto.com
Domenicali and motorsport managing director Ross Brawn have made it clear that sprint qualifying will not be used at every venue, venues such as Monaco, Singapore are examples of venues that could be unsuitable.
He suggested that the idea could be the format used for “certain historical Grands Prix, and certain special awards that we want to offer, and add to the already incredible platform of F1.”
Sainz doesn’t believe 2021 is strongest yet
Carlos Sainz believes that this season has not been his strongest yet, despite him being able to match his teammate Charles Leclerc in his first year at Ferrari. The Spaniard has been one of the stand out performers of those who have joined new teams, challenging Leclerc almost from the start of the season.
Sainz has managed to finish on the podium twice, which has moved him into sixth in the driver’s championship three points ahead of Leclerc, pending Aston Martin’s appeal over Sebastian Vettel’s disqualification in Hungary.
While Sainz admits he has been delighted with how he has integrated within the Maranello-based squad, he believes he is yet to have a Grand Prix weekend in which he gets everything right. In an interview published on Monday, Sainz told Motorsport.com, “It doesn’t feel like my strongest season in F1 definitely. I feel like there’s a lot of points, a lot of missed opportunities here and there.
“I think I said that before this race that I feel like I haven’t maximised a weekend, yet as a Ferrari driver I haven’t put a whole weekend together, and this is something that I used to do very well. And for some reason, maybe it’s just being part of a team, it just takes time, to maximise weekends.”
Sainz says he is happy with the way he is integrating with the team during the first half of the season, happy with the speed he has shown. He also revealed that he has felt on top of the car since Sakhir, feeling like he was on top of the car and able to push the car to the limit.
In Budapest, he finished fourth on track, but was prompted to third when Sebastian Vettel was disqualified. It also was a brilliant recovery drive by the Spaniard driving from fifteenth following his crash in qualifying, which he says highlighted the need for him to iron out mistakes.
He added, “This weekend I think is the best example. I did a mistake in quali, I paid the price in the race. There was one strange thing going on the pitstop that didn’t allow us to release”
“We missed a podium opportunity because of that, and all of a sudden the whole weekend doesn’t taste that good, you know, because I feel like we could have scored even better points.
Ferrari claims to have the best driver line-up
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto believes that the team driver lineup of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz forms the best driver lineup of any on the grid. This season, despite having similar levels of experience, both drivers have impressed and that allowed the Italian manufacture to sit fourth, three points behind McLaren in the constructors.
Reflecting on the first half of the campaign, Binotto thinks that his drivers deliver more together than any other team’s pairing. He explained to Motorsport.com, “I’m very happy for many reasons. First, I think we’ve got the best line-up for the entire pit lane. Second because we know Charles is a fantastic driver but is continuously improving, and we are pretty happy with that.”
Ferrari had a dismal 2020 season where they slipped to sixth in the constructors, the team has made gains both on its power unit and chassis. Binotto remains confident despite not winning a race since Singapore 2019, there has been chances for that this year.
He added, “We had great opportunities for wins this season. The first was in Monaco and for the reasons we know, it didn’t happen. On the other side, Carlos is integrating very well and is improving race by race. Let me say that he is a benchmark for Charles as well, pushing him as well when conditions are more difficult.”
Despite not winning races, Binotto says it shows how important it is to have both drivers scoring points, believing that in the future they will give Ferrari great success. Ferrari has taken two pole positions this season, with Leclerc setting the fastest times in qualifying for the Monaco and Baku.
The teams best chance of a win was at Silverstone, when Leclerc led much of the race before being overtaken by Lewis Hamilton a few laps from the chequered flag.
Lobbying by Red Bull/Mercedes never seen by Newey before
Red Bull chief technical officer Adrian Newey says he cannot remember a time when his team has faced a barrage of ‘politicking and lobbying’ against it like this year. The close battle with Mercedes has provided great racing and the tensions overboiled at Silverstone, following the crash between Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
It’s also been a season where the political battle has seen the two clash as the FIA started to push back through technical directives on flexi wings, tyre pressures and pit stops. All these interventions appear to have been targeted against Red Bull, although none of them have so far made a noticeable difference to its performance.
Newey who has been with Red Bull since 2006 and in F1 on and off since 1980, says that the level of behind-the-scenes shenanigans has been greater than he has experienced before. He told Red Bull’s website, “In many ways it is a compliment to the team to find ourselves under such scrutiny from others. We have experienced this before, but I can’t remember a time when we have received the same level of behind the scenes politicking and lobbying against our car.”
“Possibly if you look back to when we were exploring aeroelastics in 2010 / 2011 then we were under constant scrutiny and would adapt to each changing set of regulations. We’ve been here before in the last championship battles with Ferrari which involved some rows over bodywork flexibility as well.”
Newey says he has never liked the war analogy, but understood it was a decent one. He says that you need to look at every aspect to improve your competitive position, which he said F1 was the nature of the sport.
Reflecting on the flexi wing saga that emerged at the Spanish Grand Prix, Newey said the biggest hindrance to the clampdown was not a performance one, but more the costs involved in needing to strengthen their components.
He says that Red Bull weren’t the only team to have that issue, pointing out that Mercedes weren’t worried about Alfa Romeo doing it, saying they were concerned about them getting a benefit, which we really weren’t.
British bias portrayed Verstappen as ‘bad guy’ – Alonso
Fernando Alonso believes that the British centric view of Formula One is the cause of drivers like him and Max Verstappen being portrayed as the sport’s ‘bad guys’. The incredible tight batter between Verstappen and Sir Lewis Hamilton boiled over following their collision at Silverstone.
In Hungary, the tension between Mercedes and Red Bull were still running high admit a protest from Red Bull who believed that Hamilton had not been given a harsh enough penalty after going on to win the race. As the questions continued, Verstappen eventually lost his temper in the post-qualifying press conference when he objected to ‘ridiculous’ questions about the chances of another clash.
Alonso then prompted some intrigue when he was asked if he had any sympathy over Verstappen’s outburst for being on the receiving end of repeated probing. He told Motorsport.com, “I didn’t see the press conference. But I feel probably what they are experiencing now. Especially Max, because he’s the younger guy fighting with a legend, with a champion. He’s not British, so it will be always more difficult for him.”
Having being asked to clarify what he meant by the ‘British’ remark, he explained that he felt the UK domination of the sport, with seven of the teams being British-based, had left the sport biased towards home nation drivers.
Saying, “I have the impression always that when things become a little bit spicy or tense in the title fight… this sport is a British environment. All the teams, they are British. Most of you guys, journalists or the media attention, and TV crews, everyone comes from the UK.”
Alonso said it was understandable there was bit of preference towards British drivers, saying that Hamilton can be competitive and keeps winning. Saying when he was racing against Hamilton in 2007 he felt like the bad guy.
That season fighting for the championship at McLaren was set against the Spygate scandal.
Alpine can manage exhaust allocation despite using more
Alpine are confident they can get through the remainder of the season managing its engine exhausts so it doesn’t incur grid penalties, despite it using more than their rivals.
Teams are allowed to use eight exhausts during the season before they face grid penalties, and Alpine has already gone through seven for Esteban Ocon and five for teammate Fernando Alonso. None of the other teams has used more than four in the first eleven races of the planned twenty-three race season.
The French manufacturers executive director Marcin Budkowski, says the team used more exhausts than it expected because of reliability worries, but says the problem has now been solved. He concedes, however, that the situation has left the team “exposed” for the remainder of the year.
Budkowski told Motorsport.com, “We had an issue at the beginning of the year which meant that we limited the mileage of our exhausts to avoid failure during the race. So we have introduced a few exhausts at the beginning of the year to contain the risk. We believe we solved this issue now with a spec of exhaust we introduced during the season.
“What we’re doing now is really managing the pool. We have a number of exhausts per car for the season, we just need to manage it. And effectively you manage them between practice sessions, qualifying, race, by having a bit more resources in your pool you can use them in the most efficient way for the rest of the season.”
Alpine remains confident that they can get through the remainder of this season without the need for penalties.
The team, rebranded from Renault this year, are the only team using the power unit, Budkowski admitted that some of its rivals have managed to make improvements that the French manufacturer has been unable to make as a result of using an engine design from 2019.
It had planned to introduce a new unit this year, but the pandemic caused delays in production. While Budkowski was supportive of that decision he admitted that has left it losing ground to rivals.
Alpine sits fifth in the constructors’ championship after its victory in Hungary, but nearly a hundred points behind fourth-placed McLaren.