Hamilton expects to stay until 2020
Mercedes Lewis Hamilton says he expects to stay in Formula One until at least the end of 2020. The Mercedes driver wrapped up his fourth world championship in Mexico, despite a season’s long battle with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton’s current Mercedes contract ends at the end of next season, with talks about an extension expected to begin after Christmas. Speaking to Motorsport.tv, the Englishman said “I have spoken to those who have retired early, those who retired late and everyone says stay in as long as you can.
“That’s not going to happen. The seasons are getting longer and longer and you see the things I do outside, which take a lot of my energy and time. I’m enjoying what I’m doing now. I enjoy being with this team, I love racing and I still feel at the moment I’m driving at my best.”
Hamilton hinted that 2021 could be the time he retires, as that is when the next set of engine regulations are scheduled to come in. He adds that he expects that by then his teammate will be the Mercedes junior driver George Russell.
When it was suggested to him that he could have had six F1 titles by this stage had scenarios played out differently, Hamilton replied: “Yes. I’m grateful I don’t have six because I’m still hungry, I’m still enjoying racing. I wouldn’t be the champion I am today if I didn’t have those experiences.”
Hamilton’s place as one of the greats of the sport is now secure as he is a member of an elite club, which includes Michael Schumacher, Alian Prost, Juan Manuel Fangio and his rival Sebastian Vettel, who have four or more championships.
However, Hamilton says he is not thinking about matching the record seven titles Schumacher achieved. “This is crazy, people around me are now saying ‘you’ve got to get eight’. I’ve only just got four’. It’s one step at the time.” He added
Williams admit they were out developed
Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe has admitted the team was out developed by Force India after they lost fourth place in the constructor’s championship.
Last year, the British team finished ahead of Force India, but the Indian owned team manage to leapfrog Williams at the constructor’s championship following the summer break. Then Williams was unable to fight back in the second half of the season.
Asked by Autosport, asked where he felt Williams had lost out to Force India this term, Lowe said: “We started the season with a car that was generally quicker than theirs. We’ve ended generally slower. So we have lost ground to Force India on performance.”
“We have both been developing through the season at a rate you don’t see – and they’ve done a better job. It’s our job to recover that and more over the winter. We need to make a bigger step with the new car than they make.”
Lowe says that Williams was out developed by Force India, losing ground on performance and that the job was now to recover that lost ground over the winter,. He also said that the team did not take its opportunities earlier in the year, particularly on rookie Lance Stroll’s side of the garage.
While Massa scored in four of the first six races, Stroll retired from the first three races and did not score a point until the seventh race of the season in Canada.
“The first half of the season, when we had quite often the quicker car, we weren’t scoring the points, particularly on Lance’s side, when the opportunities were presented,” said Lowe.
Baku the low point in the season
Sebastian Vettel says the lowest point of the season was the morning after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, where he collided with his title rival Lewis Hamilton behind the safety car.
In an odd moment, Vettel drove into the side off Hamilton while the pair were preparing for a restart behind the Safety Car. Vettel believed Hamilton had brake tested him in the previous corner, but FIA data showed no evidence that Hamilton had acted unusually during the restart period. Mercedes as they prepared for the restart of the race.
He showed no remorse immediately after the race and was summoned to face an FIA disciplinary panel to explain his actions. Vettel, however, retained his lead in the championship until Singapore, which started a slip in form from Ferrari.
The Asian leg saw Ferrari tangle on the opening lap in Singapore, before reliability saw him retire in both Malaysia and Japan. But speaking on Friday, Vettel said “”The worst feeling I had was after Baku. Just because I lost the race with something unnecessary. I struggled with that.”
“Then you would probably refer to other races such as Singapore and Japan, but I think Singapore [and the collision with Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen], in my point of view, that’s racing.”
“The same in Japan — I don’t know if it’s the literal translation to English, but you can’t hold onto something that is not in your hands. That’s a good fit and sometimes things are not in your hands and you have to move forward.” Vettel says in life the things you mess up you struggle with, rather than the ones that got messed up.
But, Vettel says its important not to overlook the good job Ferrari did this year as well.
“I think we all want to have the perfect result every single time, but there were races where we [the team] could have done better and races where I could have done better, but there were also races where we should have done a lot worse and we didn’t.”
Mercedes needs “disruption,” says Wolff
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that the team needs “disruption” between Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas so that the team can perform at the highest level.
Hamilton and Bottas got on well during their first season as teammates creating a more harmonious atmosphere within the team, following three seasons of tension as Hamilton fought with then-teammate Nico Rosberg.
However, Wolff made it clear that he wants both Hamilton and Bottas fighting for the title next season to raise the level of the team even if that proves difficult to manage. He told Autosport “I don’t think we need to avoid a stressful situation. We need to acknowledge that, if two team-mates can fight for race wins and a championship, that this will be a rivalry.”
“And we need to be conscious and acknowledge that that is the case. We are not trying to build a new family here, we want to be the most effective racing team, and an effective racing team needs stress, needs tension, needs disruption as much as it needs calmness and a positive attitude and mindset.”
However says like in life, you need a mixture of both for success. Wolff praised the Finn for turning around his season in the final two races of the season. Saying “The best ones are the ones that recover from bad moments. Maybe in a few years, we will look back and say this was an important moment for his racing.”
“The only thing we can do as a racing team is to stay transparent and fair to both of them, support them where we can, but eventually they are alone in the car, and Valtteri pulled himself out of it.”
Pirelli nominate tyres for first three races
Pirelli has announced the tyre compounds that drivers will be able to choose from for the opening three Grand Prix’s of the 2018 season.
For the opening race of the season in Australia, the manufacturer has gone for the medium range of tyres bring the ultrasofts, supersoft tyres but has chosen the soft tyre instead of the medium tyre brought last year.
For the Bahrain race, it has chosen the mid-range of soft tyres with the ultrasoft and supersoft tyres, but has chosen the medium tyre instead of the soft tyre.
Like last season, for the Chinese race it has chosen the supersoft, soft and medium compounds of tyres.
Kvyat needs a break for long-term
Toro Rosso’s team principal Franz Tost says that Daniil Kvyat needs a short break if he is to revive his chances of a long-term career in Formula One.
The team dropped the Russian in October following a disappointing and frustrating year where he struggled to match teammate Carlos Sainz. Kvyat was also dropped from the Red Bull programme as well, leaving him without a seat for 2018.
Although there is one seat free with Williams next season, it is very unlikely that he will get a seat as the team continues to assess Robert Kubica and Sergey Sirotkin, with Pascal Wehrlein also still available.
It has been a tough two years for Kvyat, demoted from Red Bull ahead of the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, where he watched on in his Toro Rosso as his replacement Max Verstappen took the victory. That appeared to impact on his confidence as he over droved his car for the rest of the year.
Speaking to F1.com Tost said “I am still convinced that Daniil has a very high natural speed. He was sometimes even faster than Daniel Riccardo, but somehow last year and this year he couldn’t show the potential that is within him.”
“He was involved in many incidents – but in his defence, I also have to say that he had many reliability issues and that didn’t help build up confidence. Being the victim of too many incidents killed the performance he would have been able to show.”
Tost said if Kvyat returns he will be back at his normal level.
Renault targets top three in testing
Renault has set itself the target of being in the top three teams in terms of millage during winter testing as it looks to make further gains next season.
While the French manufacturer made progress this season with the speed of the car, progress was held back in terms of reliability of the engine and the team’s overall package. They believe that to get on top of these issues they need to complete as much running in testing.
Managing director for Formula One, Cyril Abiteboul told Autosport “We are ambitious again, as we are every winter. You have 10 teams who are very sure that they are going to produce a fantastic car, and we are just taking a very methodological approach.”
“We need to focus on what matters, on what counted, this year, which is in particular the first goal – to have a very reliable car as soon as the winter tests. We want to be right up there in terms of mileage.”
In testing last season, Renault was only sixth in terms of mileage, across the eight days, managing 1,364km compared to Mercedes 2,597km. But Renault sealed sixth place in the championship after a late season upturn in performance.
Abiteboul believes the e high level of motivation within the team will make a bigger difference than the extra prize money. Adding “You need resources, but that is not what is going to make a huge difference for next year. But people, mindsets, spirit, and motivation, they are huge”