Norris “strong list of improvements”
Lando Norris says that he has a “strong list” of areas to improve on ahead of his second season with McLaren in 2020. The Bristolian had a stand out performances in Bahrain and Austria topping the midfield, however, his season was marked with bad luck leaving him forty-seven points behind Carlos Sainz.
Norris says that the key areas for him to improve are his driving and learning more about the team’s car, which he believes Sainz used to his advantage. Speaking to Motorsport.com, he said, “I think there is a general few things that are repetitive on some weekends, when we get to qualifying, how Carlos finds his time and how good he is at adapting to track conditions and everything. Things like that.”
“One of the biggest things I’ll be working on this winter is my knowledge of the car, how it works, not just how to drive it faster around corners or brake later or whatever.” He also says there are things on driving he need to improve and use different techniques, as well as knowledge.
Norris says the rollercoaster year he had in 2019 has brought the team closer together and helped it learn ahead of next season. He is happy with his and his engineers’ progress believing that they are in a much better position for 2020.
He says they are not only focusing on the driving, but also on stuff away from the track. Adding “Formula 1 isn’t just a game of who can drive the best, there’s a whole package you need. Some of the time it’s just been focusing on all these different areas.”
Russell speaks about sacrifices
Williams driver George Russell says the “big sacrifices” made by the current crop of Formula One rookies during their ascent to the series felt normal to them.
The former F2 champion and 2018 runners up Lando Norris and Alex Albon, all last season made the step up into F1. Following his mid-season switch to Red Bull, he emerged as the leading rookie jumping to eighth in the drivers’ championship. with Norris just missing out on the top 10 while Russell struggled to last in the standings in an uncompetitive Williams.
All three drivers grew up racing each other and following similar paths in leaving school early to focus on racing – something Russell admits simply “felt like the norm” and “nothing special” as they worked their way towards F1.
Russell told Motorsport.com, “We all left school early, took a big sacrifice there, none of us were out partying and drinking through our teen years We all thought this was the norm. We didn’t think we were doing anything special. We just thought that’s what it takes to become an F1 driver.”
He says they are now appreciating they did go above and beyond to reach their goals, which people are appreciating and they are all performing at a decent level.
Russell says the time the trio spent racing together in lower formulas and karting meant he “knew we’d be on a similar level” to each other when they made it to F1, and that they’ve “pushed each other” through their approach to racing.
“I know we’re all good drivers, but I raced against these guys for my whole life, so I just thought it was the norm”, he added. He believes that they all pushed each other over the last decade to do there best, and it was a great feeling.
Hamilton’s pledge to help Australian Bushfires
Lewis Hamilton has pledged to donate half a million dollars to services and charities that are working amid the Australian bushfires. On Thursday, Australian authorities reported twenty human deaths and it believed that a billion animals may have been killed.
Taking to Twitter, posting a video of a koala bear amid the flames, Hamilton wrote on Twitter: “It breaks my heart to see the devastation the Australian bushfires are causing to people and animals across the country. I’m pledging $500k to support the animals, wildlife volunteers and rural fire services. If you are able to, and you haven’t already then you can donate too.”
In another post on Instagram, he says he has been saddened by the deaths of a billion animals and knows first-hand how beautiful the country is. Adding “I’ve spent some time speaking to people in Australia who are working at the heart of this and I’m filled with admiration for everything they are doing.”
An area totalling nearly 600,000 hectares (1.5m acres) – about four times the size of Greater London – is now ablaze. At the moment Melbourne, where the opening race takes place, appears well away from the fires.
The state of New South Wales has seen more than 1,300 houses destroyed and around five million hectares impacted by the fires. In Victoria where the race will be taking place in March has just declared a state of disaster. January is normally the worst month for fires.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo has used social media to urge people to donate and said his country was “suffering”.
Gasly reflects on a “Hollywood” 2019
Pierre Gasly says that his 2019 season driving for both Red Bull and Toro Rosso felt like a “Hollywood movie”, such were his highs and lows in 2019. The Frenchman started the season with Red Bull, but his struggles to match teammate Max Verstappen.
During the summer break, he was replaced by Alex Albon but bounced back to finish on the podium in Brazil and outperformed Daniil Kvyat during the second half of the season. He also had to contend with the death of close friend Anthoine Hubert during the Belgian Grand Prix.
Reflecting on his 2019, Gasly told Autosport: “It’s been almost like a Hollywood movie. I would not even imagine it’s real, like all the stuff that happened.”
“How it started, when it started, and the things that happened during the first six months. Then after the swap, the way I got back into the [Toro Rosso] team, it just did not feel real. Like so many moments over the year, it has been: ‘This can’t be happening. It can’t be real.”.”
Gasly described Hubert’s death as the lowest point of 2019, and his second place at Interlagos as the highlight.
Saying “One of the saddest moments in my life was in Spa when Anthoine passed away, and already I was in a difficult weekend going back to Toro Rosso. Then there was Brazil, which was probably the best moment in my life and also in my career.”
He says there were many ups and downs throughout 2019, saying that despite the ups and downs, all the emotions he really kept himself pushing with the hope that things would fall into place. Gasly played down the idea of his Brazilian GP podium silencing his doubters.
Saying “It’s good to see when the work pays off, so it was nice. After I came back here [to Toro Rosso], one more podium or one less, it doesn’t change the person I am.”
“I am still the same. I’m still working the same and approaching things the same way. But it’s just nice to show that, even after all these difficult times, I always keep working until I reach the performance I want.”
2020 could see more overheating of tyres – Pirelli
Pirelli motorsport boss Mario Isola says the teams may face more overheating with the tyres by fitting the 2019 compounds to cars that have developed into faster iterations for 2020.
After the teams unanimously voted to reject the new rubber Pirelli had been developing for this season late last year, it was agreed F1 would continue to run the tyres used in 2019. Despite no changes to the technical regulations, cars will get faster as the teams improve their designs.
In response, Pirelli will raise the tyre pressure requirements to 2020 to try and balance the resulting increased energy levels being put through the ’19 rubber, which Isola says is “the only tool” the tyre manufacturer has available.
Isola speaking at Autosport International, “In a condition of consistent technical regulation, because the technical regulations for this year are no different compared to last year, the rate of development is measuring 1-second to 1.5s per lap.”
“In one season [that is] the improvement in lap time. So, I can expect that we have another step in 2020. That means some more downforce, that means more energy. Probably, if we have to predict something, it could be more overheating, maybe.”
He believes that the teams will have fewer issues warming up the tyres, last year some teams were complaining about tyre warm-up in cooler conditions.
Isola says it won’t be an issue this year as the advantage compared to last year.
Wiring up fans to measure excitement
Formula One’s research into fans want to see from its on-track product has included wiring some fans up during live races to measure their excitement levels.
Next year, the sport will have a complete overhaul of its sporting and technical regulations in 2021 and has been working to better understand what fans want to see. Chief technical officer Pat Symonds said F1 was tapping into fans’ emotional levels during the 2019 season.
Symonds said at the Autosport International, he said “We absolutely are focused on what’s good for the sport and what makes a good race. You’d be amazed at the amount of analysis we’re doing on that.”
“It’s even down to things like we have people who are wired up while they watch races, and we look at that galvanic skin response to see their emotions while they’re watching races.”
He says from the research they are starting to understand what is important because the skin response in the sweat gland reflects the intensity of emotions.
McLaren announces Unilever deal
McLaren has announced a new multi-year technical partnership with Unilever following the brand’s split with Williams. The partnership will see the two companies work together in several areas across engineering, digital and talent projects starting in 2020, with branding for Unilever products set to appear on the team’s car.
The announcement is just the latest big brand partnership for the team under the leadership of CEO Zak Brown, who in recent years has signed deals with Coca-Cola, Dell and British American Tobacco.
Brown said “McLaren and Unilever are two organisations with a global reputation for innovating, inspiring and leading in the technology industry. For more than 50 years, McLaren has been an innovator in engineering and the driving force behind cutting-edge technological firsts and pioneering breakthroughs.”
He says that the partnership will “allow us to share knowledge and expertise between two global organisations, developing in integral areas to both businesses. We are looking forward to starting this partnership in the 2020 season.”
The Week Ahead
This weekend marks the start of the countdown to the season begins as we have Autosport International. One of the stories which will come from that will be Charles Leclerc, he is headlining the event and with his first interview of the year, it will be interesting what he will have to say.
The countdown to testing will begin, Ferrari has already announced their launch date. But going on history, I believe it’s still too early to confirm all dates until Red Bull, Mercedes etc confirm the dates. Its mid-January teams are still building and getting ready for the year.
This week the biggest off-track news has centred on the Australian bushfires, I expect this will die off in terms of F1 story for the moment until early March ahead of the opening race of the year. But it will be at the back of everyone’s mind.
Also, it’s the time over the next few weeks when we will begin to get financial results from teams, we are not expecting the year results until March-April, but for the fourth quarter. How will the Brexit deadline being missed and the General Election play into it? Plus the exit date on the 31st January?