Ferrari promote Leclerc as Raikkonen returns to Sauber
Kimi Raikkonen is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season and re-joining Sauber for 2019. The thirty-eight-year-old will be replaced by the rookie Charles Leclerc who will partner four times champion Sebastian Vettel at the Italian team.
The Monacan has delivered for the Swiss team this season, following his dominant Formula Two season in 2017. Leclerc had been tipped to replace the Finn earlier this year, however in recent months had cooled, before regaining traction over the last two weeks, On Tuesday, Ferrari confirmed Raikkonen’s departure, which was followed by the news the Finn will return to Sauber on a multi-year deal in 2019 and later that morning, Ferrari announced Leclerc’s promotion
Leclerc also posted messages to social media. In them, he thanked Ferrari for the opportunity but paid tribute his late father Herve, who died last year before Leclerc had secured his record-breaking Formula Two championship, and former godfather Jules Bianchi, the Marussia driver who was killed after injuries sustained at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.
In a series of Tweets, Leclerc said “Dreams do come true… I’ll be driving for @scuderiaferrari for the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship. I will be eternally grateful to @scuderiaferrari for the opportunity given. To @nicolastodt for supporting me since 2011. To my family❤️.”
“To a person that is not part of this world anymore but to whom I owe everything of what is happening to me, Papa. To Jules, thank you for all the things you learnt me, we will never forget you, and to all the persons that supported me and believed in me.”
“I will work harder than ever to not disappoint you. But first, there is a season to finish with an amazing team that gave me the opportunity to fight and show my potential. Let’s go @SauberF1Team ❤️
Since Raikkonen returned to the team in 2014, he has failed to match his teammate Vettel, however, remains the last man to win a drivers championship with Ferrari in 2007.
F1 faces a real problem if only manufacturers can win – Renault
Renault’s technical director Nick Chester believes that Formula One will face a “real problem” with only a couple of manufacturers being able to win races unless the sport stops the use of ‘slaves teams.’
The proposed budget cap for 2021, has led to concerns that the bigger teams could increase support for the smaller teams to get around the cap. It would help the manufacturer ensure that its performance could progress with the spending being done by the smaller outfit.
The FIA has already promised to act on the matter, and Chester is clear that the situation needs to be taken very seriously if F1 is to maintain a competitive field.
Asked for his views on collaboration, Chester told Motorsport.com, “I think it is a real problem if that model continues into budget cap. I cannot see how a team can fight at the front without having one or two satellite teams.”
“I think it is something really important that the FIA and F1 need to look at. If that model cannot be effectively got rid of, it will be a big problem and you will end up where, if you want to win, you have to be a manufacturer with two satellite teams or you don’t think about winning.”
Speaking at the Italian Grand Prix, race director Charlie Whiting said that the sport’s governing body would be looking into the role of servant teams. Adding “there was a loophole in the beginning which has been closed to new entrants, which is what [Haas] were able to do, a lot more work than a current team before they were established as a proper entrant.”
“But the sort of things we’re hearing about are alliances between existing teams. I think that needs to be looked at very carefully.” Chester believes that one way of doing this could be to increase the number of listed parts or introduce standardised parts.
Asked about what would happen if action was not taken, Chester replied: “I think it is bad news because ideally, you want a lot of teams that can win. You want the manufacturers, you want some very good independents.”
“If you have this model where teams can collaborate, there is no point in being an independent any more. It kills that chance of having a good independent team.
Williams “blindside” at the start of hybrid era
Williams has admitted they were “blindsided” about the need for a change of culture because of their strong performances at the beginning of the V6 hybrid era.
After a disappointing season, the team has undertaken a review of its practices to try and understand what went wrong. Following that review, it now believes that the answer lies with the team not addressing cultural issues during the last restructure.
Back then the team had a rethink of its driver, engines, personnel and budget – and its efforts paid off as it finished third in the constructors’ championship in both 2014 and 2015. However, deputy team principal Claire Williams believes that that success disguised other long-standing issues that have only come to light during its current struggles.
Williams told Motorsport.com, “I think one of the key things we missed, and as a result of probably not having the time to do it, was addressing some cultural issues that we have within Williams.”
“We have to make sure it is a great place to work. Also that it is one that enables our employees to thrive, gives them everything that they need in order to do that and to do the job that we ask them to do. And so that is one of the pieces that we are really focusing on.”
Ms Williams says she was a believer in the talent the team already has, rather than looking outside for help. While admitting that the team were probably blinded by the success at the beginning of 2014.
Although Williams is facing a big challenge to recover right now, with it set to take a financial hit on the back of losing title sponsor Martini, driver Lance Stroll, plus a big drop in constructors’ championship earnings, the team remains confident it can deliver.
Saying “I think all sports team experience situations like we have had to endure this year, I don’t think it is unusual. It is obviously extremely unfortunate and it is a very difficult process to go through when you find yourself in this position. Of course, you wonder what is going to come next for us.”
She cautiously said she was optimistic that the team could get out of the current situation and warned there was no quick fix to what has gone wrong this year, and admits it will take a while for it to move back towards the front of the grid.
McLaren expect a struggle for rest of season
McLaren is expecting their current struggles to continue for the rest of the season, as it rivals have out developed their “extremely poor” car. The last two races at Spa and Monza, have exposed the teams’ top speed deficit as the season reached a new low.
The British team has failed to qualify in the top ten since Monaco and has only been in the points at three of the last nine races. Asked by Motorsport.com, if McLaren could turn around its current form, CEO Zak Brown said “We’ll continue to push on this car but unfortunately we’ve produced an extremely poor race car that is not that responsive to changes, which will tell you that inherently we don’t have a good race car.”
“I would expect, unfortunately, similar type of results – maybe a little more circuit-specific – over the balance of the year. I certainly wouldn’t expect any miracles.” McLaren currently holds sixth in the constructors, following the exclusion of Force India and addition of Racing Point Force India as a new F1 entry.
However, McLaren has fallen away from Renault and Haas in the fight for fourth and is only 20 points clear of Racing Point Force India after just two races for the new team.
A characteristic of its car has stopped McLaren from identifying problems on the windtunnel, which has hampered its attempts to improve. Brown admitted: “Other teams have developed at a faster pace than ourselves. It appears we’ve gone backwards. In reality, everyone else has gone forwards, but in Formula 1 if you’re not going forwards you’re going backwards.”
Brown says that the team are not giving up because they want to solve them if they can.
Minor tweaks to Marina Bay
Organisers of this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, have announced minor changes to the circuit due to building work in the final sector. The length of the circuit has been reduced by two meters, meaning its now 5.063km or 3.143mi.
The reduction doesn’t affect the race distance of sixty-one laps. Meanwhile, the track has also been resurfaced around Turns 1, between Turns 5 and Memorial Corner, between Turns 15 and Esplanade, and around Turn 23.