F1 Today – 13/08/2021

F1 Today

Aston Martin withdraws Vettel’s disqualification appeal

Aston Martin has withdrawn its appeal over Sebastian Vettel’s disqualification from the Hungarian Grand Prix. The four-time champion who finished second in Budapest was excluded from the race after the FIA could not extract the minimum one-litre of fuel that is required for post-race technical inspections.

The British team had been confident that there was more than enough fuel remained in the car beyond the 0.3 litres the FIA got, but it could not be accessed due to a fuel pump system failure.

According to telemetry data logged over the race, Aston Martin had estimated that there should have been at least 1.44 litres more fuel in the car beyond what the FIA had got hold of. Following the race, Vettel’s car was impounded by the governing body and was taken to its technical facilities in France in case it was needed as evidence in a legal hearing.

The team immediately lodged an appeal and requested a right to review of the FIA stewards’ decision to disqualify Vettel, after feeling the disqualification was unfair. Despite providing new evidence that the fuel cell pressure relief value had indeed failed to prevent fuel getting pumped into the tank, the FIA rejected the request for the review.

As part of the team’s own investigation, they discovered that there was also a fuel leak, meaning there was not as much fuel in the car as Aston Martin initially suspected. While the evidence proved there was a failure, the team failed to proved there was a one-litre of fuel in the car.

Having considered its position, Aston Martin has now elected to withdraw its appeal as well, meaning that Vettel’s second place has now gone.

In a Tweet sent on Thursday, Aston Martin said: “Having considered our position and having noted the FIA stewards’ verdict that there was clear new evidence of a fuel system failure, we have nonetheless withdrawn our appeal on the basis that we believe doing so outweighs the benefits of it being heard.”


Aston Martin modified every part of car to turn around 2021

Aston Martin has revealed that it has modified nearly every visible component on its car to turn around its season. Despite being one of the fastest cars last season when it was called Racing Point, the British team has lost a lot of performance after the 10% cut in downforce, which has hurt its low rake concept.

But after spending some time battling near the back of the midfield, Aston Martin made good gains with its challenger as it set about an aggressive development push. Sebastian Vettel has now finished twice on the podium, although lost his second place finish in Hungary for a fuel irregularity.

Speaking to Motorsport.com, the team’s performance director Tom McCullough has praised the team’s efforts to get on top of things giving the website an insight into just how much has changed on its car.

He said, “It was and is a more or less never-ending process of iterative development, and, as a result, there is almost no externally visible part of our car that has not been improved in some way between Bahrain and Silverstone. To put it another way, if a part of our car is licked by the wind, we have probably updated it at some point over the past four months.”

“We know that our car is still not the fastest, but it is now closer in performance to the cars of our principal rivals than it was at the beginning of the season, and that is the result of a carefully managed programme of aero improvement that has necessarily involved trial and error but has also delivered real results”

While Aston Martin has made good gains during the first half of the season, it knows it cannot keep on developing any longer. McCullough says the impressive efforts will now shift to next years car.


Ferrari damage bill highlights issues with budget cap

Ferrari says the €2.5 million damage bill so far this season shows why a potential rethink about cost cap limits. The bigger teams have faced a challenge to cut back their spending to £125m, as set out by the cost cap introduced forcing the bigger teams to cut back on spending.

Both Mercedes and Red Bull talked about the pain they had to go through over the winter to lay off staff that they could no longer afford to keep. But as the season has worn on, there has been further concern about the complications that outfits are facing when it comes to paying out for unexpected damage.

Following Valtteri Bottas’s collision at Imola with George Russell, Mercedes feared that they would have to cut back on development upgrades, while Red Bull was unhappy about a $1.8 million repair bill it faced from Max Verstappen’s accident at the British Grand Prix.

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto suggested that rivals whose drivers are guilty of causing crash should pay for any damage caused. However not all the teams are in agreement that this is realistic, Binotto says there are justifiable grounds for at least teams and F1’s chiefs to get together and talk about it.

He says that an inspection of bills from the first half of 2021 shows Ferrari has faced paying out €2.5m for damage, which shows the kind of leeway that has to be built into budgets nowadays for unexpected events.

Binotto told Motorsport.com, “These are overall damages, and sometimes we can damage ourselves, so these are not [just] other teams that damage ourselves. Now, there’s been a lot of discussions that if there is a crash and there is a guilty driver, and you’re not faulty, and if you have been damaged, then should that be exempt from the budget cap?”

“I think it’s certainly an important point because the reason why I mentioned 2.5m euros is to show that overall the damage can be significant. So should we consider a different type of regulation in those cases? I think certainly there is merit for it.”

Binotto accepted there are no easy solutions to this and that the sport needed to discuss this in the coming weeks. Another area of debate in the wider picture is whether teams should face exemptions from things like gearbox and engine penalties if there a result of another drivers actions.

Leclerc lost his second power unit of the year after he was swiped by the out-of-control Stroll at the first corner of the Hungarian Grand Prix. This means he will at some point this year need to introduce a fourth and fifth unit into the pool, thus gaining penalties.

Binotto thinks there are grounds to discuss a potential change here too, even though it would be very complicated to sort out. Adding, “There is no obvious solution,” he said. “If we damage an engine, as in our case like in Hungary, it was an engine that still had its intended usage but was not new.

“By replacing it, you fit something new so you don’t do it with something of equal mileage and the same lifespan. So it’s complicated.”

He also said there are talks about further reductions in 2025, going down to two, which makes the issue more important. But again stressed he thinks there is no easy solution.


Ferrari impressed by Schumacher’s rookie season

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says the team has been impressed with the job that Mick Schumacher has done in his rookie season, despite some obvious mistakes. The German who is a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy has had a difficult season as he tries to gets to grips with the tricky Has car.

While he has shown maturity and to be very much a team player, the German has been involved in some incidents with teammate Nikita Mazepin and had a big practice crash ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix. Binotto says after Schumacher is showing encouraging signs of progress, which he hopes will continue into the second half of the season.

The Italian told Motorsport.com, “Mick in his very first year in F1 driving for Haas, I think we said at the start of the season that the objective for him was first no pressure, but to make sure that he is learning. So 2021 has to be for him an important year in terms of learning. And I think if we look at that objective he is doing well.”

“I think Mick since the start of the season is doing well, he is learning, he is progressing. Obviously a few mistakes, but that’s part of the learning process. So I think overall in terms of balance so far, we can be happy.” Binotto says it is important for Schumacher to continue developing and progressing in the second half of the season.

While satisfied with the progress of Schumacher, Binotto says Ferrari cannot be as pleased with the results of its other FDA youngsters.

In F2, Robert Shwartzman is currently third in the standings, having taken two wins so far this season, while Marcus Armstrong is down in fourteenth with the best result of a second-place at Silverstone. While in F3, Arthur Leclerc is down in eighth place overall having taken just a single victory in France so far.

He added, “If I look at the junior drivers for the Ferrari Driver Academy, I think there’s no doubt that overall in terms of results it is not as good as last year.”


Schumacher to stay at Haas

Mattia Binotto also said in a separate interview that Ferrari would like Mick Schumacher to stay at Haas and Antonio Giovinazzi to remain with Alfa Romeo next season. Both drivers are Ferrari Academy graduates and Ferrari provides engines to both teams.

Speaking to the Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport earlier this week, the Ferrari team principal said, “Mick Schumacher’s first season is a learning one, without pressure, and we’re talking with Haas to confirm him there.”

“Giovinazzi remains our reserve driver… he’s growing every year and I hope he can stay at Alfa, he deserves it.”

There has been some speculation that Schumacher, the son seven times world champion Michael, might move up to Alfa, who have been more competitive than tail-enders Haas. Meanwhile, the team is currently third in the constructors’ championship.

Binotto says that third place is the most they could hope for as Mercedes and Red Bull already are too far ahead in the championship. Its already been announce they will have a boost on the engine side later in the year but not before the next two high-speed races in Belgium and Italy.


McLaren has no excuses not to fight for titles in 2024

McLaren Racing CEO Zac Brown says that the team will have no excuses if they are not fighting for championships by 2024 when they have caught up to front running teams with its infrastructure.

The team is currently working on a new wind tunnel and other upgrades to its Woking base, it will allow them to return wind tunnel operations from Cologne after years of using Toyota’s facility.

The need for a new state-of-the-art tunnel was one of the first issues team boss Andreas Seidl raised on his arrival in May 2019 as he identified the next steps for McLaren to return to the front of the field. Originally the plan was to have this completed by next year, but the pandemic has lead to delays of two years.

But Brown believes the team will have caught up by the 2024 season, which means it will have “no excuses” in the fight for world championship success. He told Motorsport.com, “I think it’s always dangerous to pick a point in time in which you should be going for it.”

“What I will say is we will have caught up by 2024 with all of our infrastructures, most specifically the wind tunnel. I think we’ll have no excuses come the 2024 season, and would like to think that by that point, the sport is going to be so competitive that there’ll be a variety of teams fighting for the championship, and I like to think we’d be one of them.”

McLaren has been on a steady upwards trajectory since 2018, climbing to third in the constructors which it hopes to repeat this season. Asked whether the regulation change next year could give the team a chance to fight for wins and championships even before its 2024 target, Brown has preached patience and said the final step to the level of Mercedes and Red Bull will be the hardest one to make.

Explaining, “We’ve gone ninth, sixth, fourth, third. And here we are in third. I think it gets tougher as you get closer to the front, so I don’t think it’s going to be two, one,” he explained. That would be nice, but I don’t think that’ll happen.”

“While we now have the annual resources to compete at the same level as everyone else, we are behind on our infrastructure, and while we’ve let loose the investment, it’s simply going to take time, most notably the wind tunnel.”


No alternatives for Alpha Tauri driver line up – Tost

Alpha Tauri team principal Franz Tost says that he doesn’t “see any alternatives” to his current driver line-up, backing Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda to stay with the team next season.

Gasly re-joined the team during the summer break in 2019 after swapping seats with Alex Albon, last year he took his maiden win at Monza. He was joined by Tsunoda who stepped up from F2 this year after impressing both Red Bull and its engine supplier Honda.

While Gasly has raised his game and is performing at a high level, he has been single handily trying to help the team fight for fifth in the constructors’ championship against Alpine, rookie Tsunoda has had a more difficult time finding the right balance between speed and consistency.

Tost says that he wants Red Bull to keep the driver line up unchanged for 2022 as he believes that Tsunoda will make progress after having a full season under his belt. He is also hoping that the team will make an announcement following the summer break.

He told Motorsport.com, “Yeah, I hope so because I don’t see any other driver there. I hope we will also next year be with Pierre and with Yuki because for Yuki, then it will be the second season and he knows now the tracks. Because you must not forget, we will go in the second half of the season where Yuki doesn’t even know the race tracks.”

“In Europe, he raced in Formula 2 and Formula 3 and so on. But we are coming to America, he has never raced there. We are coming to Mexico, where he didn’t race. We will come to Sao Paulo where he didn’t race.”

Tsunoda finished sixth in Budapest taking his points total to eighteen, twenty-seven behind Gasly. The Japanese drivers rookie season struggles are “nothing special” and part of the deal when giving a chance to a young driver.

Tost added, “Pierre is doing a fantastic job, and Yuki, once more, is a newcomer and he is doing a good job. He has to get experience and he has to learn a lot but that is nothing special. That’s logical with young drivers. That’s the risk you take when a rookie comes on board.”


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