F1 committed to next years regulation changes
Formula One says it remains fully committed to introducing all new regulations next year, despite speculation the tweaks could be delayed until 2023. The regulations designed to create closer racing were already delayed by the year because of the pandemic.
As Europe continues to be gripped by lockdowns and restrictions there have been some suggestions that the changes in 2022 should be delayed by another year. However, Liberty Media has made it clear that there will be no further delays to the regulations, which they view as essential for improving the sport.
A spokesman said, “Any suggestion the 2022 regulations will be delayed is wrong and has not been discussed. The new regulations are designed to improve competition on track and give our fans closer racing.”
“This combined with the new financial regulations will improve F1 and create a healthier and stronger business model for the whole sport.” The original delay was agreed in March last year when the financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic when it first broke out, with F1 concerned that some teams could collapse as a result of the crisis.
But the success of the sport in pulling off the seventeen-race season has eased the concerns about the survival of the smaller teams. But they have continued to push for further delays to the regulations, motorsport and technical managing director Ross Brawn dismissed the bid to slash costs further.
Speaking last year, Brawn said, “I think some teams pushed to delay them a further year. I think there’s a justifiable need to carry these [current] cars over into next year because we’re in the middle of the [lockdown]. That’s completely justified.
“The initiatives we’re bringing with these new regulations are to make the sport more economically viable in terms of the complexity, where the money is spent. With the cars we have now, they’re so complex that with the more you spend the quicker you’ll go and we need to level off that slope.
Brawn says the sport needs to create an environment where the money is not the only priority in how competitive you are.
Although F1 teams will experience some increased costs from needing to develop 2022 cars alongside their current challengers, the imposition of a budget cap for this year means that spending cannot get out of control.
Leclerc and Sainz “free to fight” – Binotto
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz will be “free to fight” as team-mates at the start of 2021. The Italian says that he is excited by the team’s young driver line up means he doesn’t have regrets about not bringing Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari.
2020 was a difficult season for the Italian team with there worst finish in the constructors since 1981. They head into the new decade with their youngest ever line up as Sainz joins the team replacing the four-times champion Sebastian Vettel.
Sainz, who was at Ferrari’s Maranello headquarters on Tuesday to start preparations for the 2021 season, will drive in the iconic red after a move from McLaren – which was agreed back in May of last year.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Binotto said, “I think Sebastian is a great person, a great driver, and we had some great moments together – but I think it was time to take a different decision and to move forward.”
“We will have a very young line-up in the future, the youngest Ferrari line-up since 1968, but those two drivers, Charles and Carlos, are very strong, very talented, and even though they are young they have some good experience in F1.”
Ferrari has traditionally employed the ‘number one’ and ‘two’ driver over the years, most famously when Michael Schumacher embarked on a trophy-laden streak in the early 2000s, including the famous race at the Red Bull Ring in 2002 leading to a ban on team orders.
Under Binotto’s leadership Ferrari has treated its drivers equally, but that has lead to collisions between Leclerc and Vettel, but he says that Sainz and Leclerc will start that way too.
He added, “There is not a number one and number two, they will have equal opportunities – certainly at the start of the season. I’m pretty happy then that they are free to fight.”
“I think what we have to do as usual is to optimise the team points, and when you optimise the team points normally you are optimising the drivers’ points as well. Team points is the number one.”
Binotto did, however, say later in the season that they may need to adopt a different strategy, but they will be free to fight early in the season.
Vettel will “bring out the best” out of Aston Martin
Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer says four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel will “bring out the best” in his teammate Lance Stroll. The German joins the former Racing Point team after Ferrari decided not to renew his contract.
Vettel had a tough time in the last two seasons when he was partnered with Charles Leclerc. But the team believes that he will thrive in his new environment, with technical director Andrew Green suggesting in October that the team can help him “rediscover his mojo.”
Szafnauer anticipates that Vettel and Stroll will motivate each other. He told Motorsport.com, “It’s hugely exciting for everyone in the team. In Sebastian, we have a proven four-time world champion with experience of helping teams become race-winning and championship-contending outfits.”
“That’s why he is such an important signing for us. He brings a winning mentality, and we will all undoubtedly learn a lot from him on this journey.”
Szafnauer says also that Stroll was a talented, hard-working driver who last season enjoyed his best season to date making progress in all areas of his racing. But says the team are capable of reaching its goals if they give him the correct tools.
Szafnauer conceded that managing the transition from Racing Point to Aston Martin, while not diluting the outfit’s proven ability to do a lot with limited resources, has not been an easy process for the team.
Speaking about the transition he described it as a “mammoth task,” while at the same time balancing that against the best season in the team’s history where they finished third in the constructors’ championship.
Adding “Everybody involved should be extremely proud of that achievement and I think it demonstrates that while this is a new team name and identity, we have retained the strong backbone that has guided us through some tough times to where we are today.”
Szafnauer says once Aston Martin had established themselves as the most efficient team, their next challenge was becoming one of the top teams, while still maintaining efficiency.
He also suggested that Aston can target race wins in 2021: “With a new name, committed shareholders, fresh investment, and an experienced team, we believe we have all the ingredients in place to compete for even more podiums and hopefully victories too.”
Russell not thinking about prospect of joining Mercedes
George Russell says that he is not thinking about the prospect of joining Mercedes next year ahead of the new season because he knows his situation can change so fast.
Following his debut for Mercedes in Sakhir after Lewis Hamilton tested positive for Coronavirus, his performance in that race has made him the leading candidate to replace Hamilton if he doesn’t sign a new deal or Valtteri Bottas when his contract expires.
Despite what is up for grabs if he impresses for Williams this year, he says the rollercoaster that he experienced last season to get his first Mercedes chance shows why there is little reason to get too carried away with his prospects right now.
Speaking in an interview with Motorsport.com, Russell said that he was not thinking about any target he needed to reach in 2021 to please Mercedes bosses.
He said, “No, they’ve not said what I need to do. At the moment I’m just respectful to everybody at Williams and I will just be giving my absolute all for that team, as they have done for me for the last two years.
“I don’t like to think about the future. This sport changes incredibly quickly, people’s perception of drivers – your reputation [can change fast]. And outside factors, as we’ve seen [can come into play].”
Russell says the chance to drive a Mercedes as a one-off had been on his radar last year, because Williams’s previous management had always been so against it. His attitude to his future was rammed home to him with that drive in Bahrain when he came close to victory.
He added, “Telling me in the middle of the year that I’d have been leading the race, and that I should have won a race this year, and starting in the front row – because I didn’t even think it would be possible to be…. I didn’t even think it was possible to get the chance for Mercedes, as a reserve driver.”
Russell says in the past the team had said no, but the new owners of the team wanted to give him the opportunity to see how he would perform. His performance was brilliant, and he was on course for his maiden win before the puncher cost him a shot of victory.
He says that losing that race was not eating him up inside because he sees the race as almost a victory in itself. Adding, “That’s what I’m trying to tell myself anyway to get over the disappointment of losing it!
“I think the pitstop fiasco almost gave me that opportunity to go out there and sort of show what I can do in a very difficult circumstance – when the pressure is high.”
Russell said he had the race under control before the mistake, then he knew that dropping to fifth would make it difficult to overtake.
You can read more on that Sakhir weekend in Behind the Headlines – Shakir – Russell’s fairy-tale goes wrong
McLaren’s target for Ricciardo
McLaren says they have one target in mind for Daniel Ricciardo, with the feeling that they have been together for years. This season due to the pandemic and cost savings as well as strict limits on who could join the Abu Dhabi young driver run last year.
Despite that, there not giving excuses for any early cautiousness or a grace period for Ricciardo and his crew to get up to speed with each other. It knows that in the harsh world of F1, it has to hit the ground running in Bahrain.
McLaren has put Ricciardo on an intensive preparation at its Woking base and homework that the Australian will have to take away with him. Racing director Andrea Stella, says that having a new driver on board is always a very interesting challenge.
He told Motorsport.com, “you work your way back in terms of what you need to do to make sure that you are as prepared as possible. And it’s a combination of competence and being methodical.”
“Because I’m sure everyone, such as the engineers, will be eager to share with the driver tons and tons of information and solutions. But actually, you need to do the right things because there won’t be a lot of time to test on track.”
He says that was the objective in Bahrain, before qualifying and the race. Although integration begins before the three days of testing two weekends before the race. The early phase of their new relationship will be about driver and engineers getting to know each other, and especially learning about each other’s demands and quirks.
He says the two weekends in Bahrain will be about building towards the qualifying session on 27th March, where he said that it was important to act “like we’ve known each other for a long time, personally, technically, and operationally.”
Ricciardo will have specific tasks set as part of this process: including work on the simulator and some jobs that Ricciardo will be asked to do in his own time.
At Renault, Ricciardo proved that it can take more than a year to get fully integrated and delivering your best for a team, that is not to say a great deal can be unleashed from the start.
Grosjean reveals burns following Bahrain crash
Romain Grosjean has revealed on Twitter the burns he sustained in his crash in November’s Bahrain Grand Prix. The Haas driver made contact with Daniil Kvyat on the opening lap, the Frenchman collided with the barrier at the exit of Turn Three, which saw his car immediately erupt into flames as it pierced the barrier and split in two.
Grosjean sat out the final two races of the year and underwent surgery on his left hand to repair ligament damage in his thumb and clean the burns. Since the accident, he has returned home and keeping fans updated.
In his latest post six weeks on, he shows that he is no longer wearing bandages to cover his injuries.
The French driver is currently looking at his options after losing his seat at Haas. However, says he wants to finish his F1 career with a private test, seven times champions Mercedes have indicated they are open to give him the opportunity.