Hamilton backs out of race fight for titles fight
Lewis Hamilton says he would not have backed out of his scrap with Charles Leclerc at the Italian Grand Prix they “would have collided” if he wasn’t chasing his sixth title.
The Mercedes driver was hunting down the Ferrari for much of the race with the pair going wheel-to-wheel approaching the second chicane, but the Mercedes driver was squeezed off the track and had to cut across the run-off area to avoid contact.
Arguably his decision to back off saved the pair from colliding and ruining both their races. Asked by Sky Sports, if he would have done anything differently if the F1 2019 championship was resolved, Hamilton admitted: “I wouldn’t have moved. We would have collided.”
Hamilton is sixty-three points ahead of closest challenger teammate Valtteri Bottas, with seven races remaining as he looks to become only the second driver in F1 history with six titles.
Mercedes F1 CEO and team principal Toto Wolff, who felt Leclerc’s moves were “maybe over the line”. Adding “The driver that goes for the Drivers’ Championship saved Charles and saved himself.”
“Lewis knew what he was doing, he didn’t lose any bits or parts in that incident, but he could have equally decided, ‘I’m not going to let this happen’, and put the two cars out.”
Hamilton questioned the decision by the stewards’ decision not to inflict a harsher penalty on Leclerc and labelled the driving as “dangerous” on team radio. He later insisted he had no problem with “one of the most respectful drivers” in Leclerc.
Adding “There is no lack of respect. We don’t have a problem, we are not in a fight, I congratulated him when he got out of the car.” The Englishman described Leclerc as one of the most respectful drivers.
He says going wheel to wheel with Leclerc he learned how he approached different scenarios, which maybe could help him in future battles. Hamilton praised him for the “exceptional job”, and says that its good to race hard and have a tough battle which is good.
while Hamilton called for more consistency when it came to rules and penalties, he said he is happy to race hard.
Vettel facing driving ban as pressure mounts
Pressure continues to mount on Sebastian Vettel, as his penalty for ‘dangerous driving’ during the Italian Grand Prix has left him three licence points away from a race ban. The four-times champion failed to score points while teammate Charles Leclerc delivered Ferrari’s first home win since 2010.
Vettel’s race was effectively ended when he had an early spin and collision with Lance Stroll, and that dropped him out of the points. With his return to the track deemed ‘dangerous’ by the stewards, Vettel was given a ten-second stop-and-go penalty, the most severe sanction before a disqualification.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Vettel said, “Obviously I’m not happy with it, I can’t be happy with my day. I lost the rear and couldn’t catch it, as simple as that. After that, the race was gone.”
Asked if he had seen Stroll coming, Vettel replied: “No. I struggled a couple of times to get the car going and to get in the right direction as well, so I couldn’t see him.” Following the race, he was awarded three points to his licence.
Vettel is now on nine points for the last eleven months, three more before 19th of October he will face an automatic suspension for a Grand Prix. No driver has ever been banned since the licence points system was introduced in 2014.
His incident was followed by him losing fourth place in the driver’s championship to Leclerc, who is now ahead of him by thirteen points in the drivers.
Vettel added, “Of course I still love what I do, but surely when you’re not doing well what you know you can do well, you can’t be happy.”
Mercedes played a strategic game – Leclerc
Charles Leclerc says the being the only Ferrari in the Italian Grand Prix lead fight allowed Mercedes to play a strategic “game”, following teammate Sebastian Vettel’s spin.
The German spun off while in fourth and collided with Lance Stroll, meaning that he was left on his own to fend off both Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
Mercedes had attempted to use split strategies to allow Hamilton to put pressure on Leclerc through the middle phase of the race after an attempted undercut, while Bottas extended his stint by several laps and closed in on Leclerc with fresher tyres at the end.
After holding on to win Ferrari’s home race, despite switching to hard tyres with the Mercedes on mediums, Leclerc told Motorsport.com “Obviously it’s always an easier situation to have two cars instead of one. But obviously [in qualifying] Seb was extremely unlucky.”
“He couldn’t do the lap in the second run of Q3. I’m pretty sure it will be better in the next races.” Leclerc switched to “Plan B” during the grand prix, which Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said was “simply a longer first stint.”
Binotto says the decision to go with the hard tyres was made as Ferrari assessed the data during the first stint. Adding “Degradation by the end of the stint [on soft tyres] was not critical, but was there. We knew that by putting the hard we would have had a better pace by the end of the race.”
Hamilton slipped behind teammate Bottas, but the five-times champion believes that he could have been second if he had used hard tyres in his second stint, instead of mediums, but would still not have beaten Leclerc.
Adding, “I did ask in the morning if I could go to the hard tyres and they said no. They said that because we hadn’t run it they didn’t know it was quick enough.”
Ricciardo praise engine department
Daniel Ricciardo has praised Renault’s engine department following the manufacturers best result as a works team since the 2008 Japanese Grand Prix.
Ricciardo was fourth his best result of the season, while teammate Nico Hulkenberg matched his best finish for Renault with fifth after a weekend in which their car consistently ran in the top six.
The result represented the highest two-car finish for a works Renault team since the Fuji 2008, when Fernando Alonso won the race and Nelson Piquet Jr finished fourth.
Ricciardo who joined the team this year and was critical of Renault when he was at Red. Bull, says the manufacturer’s often-criticised engine operation particularly deserved the success. He told Sky Sports “Obviously I’m happy for the whole team, but I want to give a special shout out to the boys in Viry building the engines”
“To get the best team result, here in Monza on a power circuit, since 2008 is a real statement. They copped a lot of grief over the last few years and they have made some big gains this year on the power unit. This one’s for them.”
The French manufacturer will be hoping that in the coming races that Monza can kick start a late resurgence to challenge McLaren for fourth. Ricciardo admitted since Canada they have not got the most out of the car, and that they really believe that they have a fourth-place car.
Asked if they can now maintain such a level of performance, Ricciardo replied: “I really wish we can and hope we can. We are coming up to different circuits – high-downforce Singapore, street circuit, bumpy – but even though this is Monza and it’s unique and you take all the wing off.”
Renault’s F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul described the weekend as “a demonstration after Montreal and Spa the clear progress of the team and in particular on the power unit side that has been so openly criticised in the past.”
Williams posts a significant financial loss
Williams has posted a significant financial loss in the six months to July, as the team pays for its poor performance last season. The team is beginning to feel the effects of falling from the midfield to last, harming its financial income from Liberty Media.
In addition to the loss of F1 money, it has also lost the income associated with drivers Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin, as well as previous title sponsor Martini. However, it has gained a new title sponsor in ROKiT, as well as Orlen sponsorship from Robert Kubica.
In the six months to June it posted a £46.3m loss for the team, down £16.8m from the same period last year. But some off the losses were offset by increased revenue from Williams Advanced Engineering, which increased its revenue from £21.5m to £30.9m.
Total combined revenue for the group, Williams Grand Prix Holdings fell from £82.6m to £77.8m, with the overall EBITDA loss increasing from £2.7m to £18.8m.
CEO Mike O’Driscoll said, “Our financial results reflect a challenging half-year for our F1 operations, yet also demonstrated continued growth in the Williams Advanced Engineering business.”
“The F1 financial results primarily reflect our finishing position in last year’s Constructors’ Championship and the consequent reduction in prize money (which is paid a year in arrears).”
He also admitted that part of the reason for the loss was a lack of sponsorship during the first half of 2019, but the team has signed major new partnerships with ROKiT and Orlen.
Results next year for 2019-20 will likely be hit as a result of its poor season, but are hopeful of a reset in 2021 when the regulations should change.
Haas parts with title sponsor
Haas has parted company with its title sponsor Rich Energy, but the team cars would retain the black and gold livery for the rest of the season but without the energy drink company’s branding.
The future of the relationship had been in doubt after a tweet in July where Rich said it had terminated the deal. Then shareholders later said in a statement issued by the team that those comments were unauthorised and the ‘rogue actions’ of one individual.
“Haas F1 Team and Rich Energy have amicably agreed to end their partnership together in the FIA Formula One world championship with immediate effect,” the team said in a statement.
In May, Rich Energy lost a court case brought against it in Britain by Whyte Bikes for copyright infringement of its stags head logo, which was removed from the F1 cars.