Marchionne praises Ferrari’s progress
Ferrari’s chairman Sergio Marchionne has praised the teams progress this season and says despite the teams recent setbacks the season is not lost.
Sebastian Vettel retired from Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix with a spark plug issue allowing title rival Lewis Hamilton to open up a fifty-nine point lead. This means that Hamilton could wrap the title up in Austin if Vettel has more problems and fails to score points.
Suzuka followed two difficult weekends, in Sepang Vettel failed to qualify and started last, that followed Singapore where Vettel crashed out on the opening lap of the race with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.
Speaking at an event in New York, Marchionne told CNBC “The season is not lost, there’s still all to do. I won’t talk of bad luck, I don’t believe in it,” he added. “The important thing is to not lose the confidence that has brought us so far.”
“I’m delighted with what the team has done and I have tremendous confidence that in the next four races we will be able to close most of the Mercedes gap.” The Italian also expressed his frustration last week, saying that component quality and procedures needed to improve.
He admitted that the team has probably ignored it but now they have seen the “devastating” impact on performance they need to solve, as he believes that they are the same levl as Mercedes.
Hamilton relishes battles with Verstappen
Lewis Hamilton says he is relishing the prospect of future battles with Max Verstappen, following their fight during the Japanese Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver held off the Dutchman in the second half of the race to take his eighth win of the season.
His win has allowed him to open a fifteen nine-point lead over Sebastian Vettel in the driver’s championship, with one hundred remaining Hamilton could seal title in Austin next weekend. His battle with Verstappen followed another fight in Sepang where the Red Bull driver took victory after passing Hamilton.
Speaking to ESPN, Hamilton said “I’m enjoying being in an era with such great young talent coming through. He’ll be here far beyond when I stop and until then I’m not giving him too many poles, too many wins.” Following the race, Hamilton joked that he had extra incentive to hold onto victory, as he was determined to keep F1’s youngest-ever winner behind him to show that he is still “young at heart”.
He said during the race he was thinking “Jeez, the guy behind me is so much younger than me”, however, Hamilton is keen to show he is young at heart.
Speculation continues about Verstappen’s F1 future, with Mercedes and Ferrari believed to be considering a move for the recently-turned 20-year-old once his current “watertight” deal with Red Bull runs out at the end of 2019.
Red Bull Keen to extend driver contracts
Red Bull are determined to extend the contracts of both Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen until the end of 2020, as speculation about their future continues.
Formula One’s driver market is being shaped by two factors, many top drivers like Ricciardo and Hamilton are out of contract at the end of 2018, while Fernando Alonso is yet to commit to McLaren beyond the end season.
Though both drivers have been linked to both Ferrari and Mercedes, team principal Christian Horner has explained Red Bull is keen to retain both drivers. Speaking about Ricciardo, Horner told Autosport “He’s technically out of contract at the end of 2018 because he will have completed a five-year contract. But what is absolutely clear is that it’s our intention to retain both of our drivers, I would say until 2020.”
Should the Australian leave Red Bull, the team still retains an option on Carlos Sainz, who is on loan to engine supplier Renault for the remainder of this and next season.
However, the loan option is a sign that Red Bull is not sure about both its drivers staying, Horner says that in an ideal world there will be no shifting around.
“Carlos, I wanted to keep under contract as an option should one of the [existing] drivers past next year not be with us. But the absolute intention is we want Ricciardo and Verstappen in Red Bull Racing cars going forward. They both enjoy being in the team.”
“The difference with Daniel is for the first time in his career at Red Bull he’s got an end in sight to his contract.” These comments were in response to the teams motorsport adviser Helmut Marko that Ricciardo was ‘on the market’, Horner said that the comments were not intended to suggest his team was resigned to losing him.
Talks begin on Dutch GP
Formula One bosses are beginning talks about getting the Dutch Grand Prix back on the calendar, with the possibility of a street race being considered. The race was last held at Zandvoort in 1985
Autosport says that it understands that commercial boss Sean Bratches recently held talks with local officials, to understand what needs to be done to make the race a reality. The reason why the Netherlands has become a target for Liberty is that interest has boomed there thanks to the Red Bull driver.
While Zandvoort remains an option, the vision for Liberty is to have destination cities holding Grand Prix’s, the circuit would require major investment for a race. However, a race in Amsterdam is likely to have more logistical issues.
Rotterdam has regularly held F1 street demos in the past so the city does at least have some experience of the complications that can come from hosting an event there.
It is not clear what timeframe Bratches is looking at to get a Dutch GP city race on the calendar, but his recent visit highlights that he is eager to get the ball rolling.
Teams go for Ultra’s for Austin
Pirelli has announced the drivers tyre selections ahead of next weekends United States Grand Prix. For next weekend’s race in Austin, Pirelli has nominated the softest end of its tyre compounds with the Ultrasofts, Supersofts and Softs available for drivers.
Both Mercedes have seven sets of the Ultrasofts, while Lewis Hamilton has spilt the remainder of his allocation equally giving him three of both the Supersoft and Soft. But Valtteri Bottas has an extra Supersoft, giving him four sets.
Both the Red Bull’s and Sebastian Vettel have the same allocation for all their drivers with seven ultrasofts, four supersofts and two softs. Both Force India’s, Renault’s and Toro Rosso’s have eight ultrasofts, three supersofts and two softs.
While both Williams and McLaren’s have nine ultrasofts they have varied the selections between both drivers, the more experienced Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa have two of both the supersoft and softs. Their team-mates Stoffel Vandoorne and Lance Stroll have nine ultrasofts, three softs and a soft.
Both the Haas’s and Sabuer’s have seven sets of the ultrasoft. Romain Grosjean has five supersofts and a soft, while Kevin Magnussen has four supersofts and two softs. With Pascal Wehrlein has three sets of both the supersofts and softs, while team-mate Marcus Ericsson has four supersofts and two softs.