Vettel says he is own worst enemy
Sebastian Vettel has admitted he is his own worst enemy in this year’s title battle after a series of mistakes have left him thirty points behind championship leader Lewis Hamilton.
The four times champion has lost sixty points in a series of mistakes in Azerbaijan, France, Germany and last time out in Italy. This weekend’s race around Singapore last season marked the turning point in the championship after Vettel crashed out at the first corner.
Ferrari is expected to be the favourites this weekend, and Vettel believes he is still in control of the championship. Speaking ahead of this weekends race, he told ESPN, “I think it is pretty straightforward for me. the biggest enemy is me. I think we have a great car, I have something to play with and we have all the chances to do it in our way.
“Obviously he [Hamilton] is the leader at the moment, he’s the one ahead and he is the one to beat, but I think we have all the chances and how much we could be better by now and so on is a different question.” Vettel believes still that Mercedes are enemy number one, and they need to look after ourselves to win races.
Vettel said his mistake in Germany, in which he crashed out of the lead of the race when it started to rain, was the hardest error to put behind him.
Saying “I think most important thing is that I know what happened and I can explain it and then everyone is free to have their own views on what happened.”
“I would have loved to win in Germany, for sure, but I’m not too bothered and I’m generally looking forward and not focusing on what we all could have done differently to avoid what happened.”
Hamilton fashion not a distraction
Lewis Hamilton says that despite spending the last week promoting his new Tommy Hilfiger fashion range, his focus remains on this year’s title fight with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
The past two weeks have seen the four times champion travel between Shanghai an New York, to launch his new TommyXLewis brand. Hamilton is of course used to travelling between Monaco, America, the UK and races, but insist that F1 remains his priority.
He told ESPN, “Trying to fit in the training obviously for the last week has not been easy, but that is not how every single week goes for me. It was just a hectic time for me with a lot going on in the outside world.”
“I travelled a lot more this week than I have all year long, in just these two weeks, but from experience, I have been able to move around even more than I have these past two weeks and still arrive and switch into race mode.”
Despite the other things going on, he insists that there was not a moment where he wasn’t thinking about racing ahead of what is expected to be a tough weekend for Mercedes.
When he was asked if it was a gamble to dedicate so much time to interests outside F1 at such a crucial point in the season, he maintained that it had a positive impact.
“Not at all. Referring to the question before, I get a lot of energy from these sorts of things. I find it stimulating and I think you see it in my results which have shown that for the past few years.”
Leclerc expects equal status
Charles Leclerc says he will be allowed to race Sebastian Vettel next season when he joins Ferrari. The Monacan is joining the Italian team next season following an impressive debut season with Sauber.
Leclerc’s promotion for 2019 puts him up against the fifty-two times winner and four times world champion after he proved more consistent than Kimi Raikkonen. However, despite the experience and status shortfall to his new team-mate, Leclerc is certain he will start next season on equal footing.
Leclerc told Sky Sports “It’s more or less like this in every team. You have two drivers who start the season on equal status and then at one point in the season you see some team orders because probably one driver is playing for the championship and the other is not.”
“This is normal, in every team it’s happening. But I believe they will let us race at the beginning of the season.” Leclerc will become Ferrari’s youngest race driver in over half a century and admits he needs to deliver and perform next season.
Adding “I’m not saying I will not learn anything anymore, as I have so much to learn still and I can still improve a lot, but I will be a lot more ready than I was at the beginning.”
Teams should have three cars – Andretti
Former world champion Mario Andretti believes that teams should be allowed to run three cars for guest drivers at certain races. The American was given his first drive in a third car at the 1968 United States Grand Prix.
At that race at Watkins Glen, he earned himself pole in a Lotus. Before three years later in a third Ferrari, he took his first win at the South African Grand Prix. Speaking to Autosport, Andretti said “We’re always looking for an angle to try to promote F1 in a different way and try to reach out to fans.”
“Colin Chapman gave me a ride in a top team in a competitive car, and that’s the reason I was on pole in a third car. I won my first race in South Africa with Ferrari as third car. The point I’m making is it launched my career because I had a competitive car under me.”
He believes that it will be a huge promotion boost for races, for example, IndyCar drivers could drive at the race in Austin. That he says that could boost the fans by 40,000. The regulations allow only two cars to score points in the constructors.
Andretti understands why midfield teams do not want to see extra entries from the top three on the grid, but he insists the overall value of his third-car plan to F1 is more significant. “Competition is competition. You’re looking at the big picture,” he added.
“If all of a sudden you’ve got to think about favouring one team, that’s not what makes you grow. You’ve got use every bullet in the gun that you can to try to advance the cause.
Crashgate 10 years on
This weekend, Singapore marks ten years in F1 but the race was marked by one of the biggest political scandals in the history of the sport. The ‘Crashgate’ scandal leads to the downfall of Renaults team principal Fabio Briatore.
The facts are the same… Nelson Piquet crashed deliberately into the wall on lap fourteen following Fernando Alonso’s pit stop. The ‘accident’ brought out the safety car bringing Alonso into the lead of the race. Data from the car showed the Brazilian continuously pressing hard on the throttle even after the back of the car drifted out “in the knowledge that this would lead to my car making heavy contact with the concrete wall”.
Fast forward to the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, Piquet went to the FIA and accused Briatore and technical director Pat Symonds of asking him to crash, prompting an inquiry and leading to Renault being charged with race fixing.
Piquet was given immunity from prosecution by the FIA courts, for his evidence. Briatore and Symonds denied the conversations, but Renault was found guilty of race-fixing.
Max Mosley, the former FIA boss, announced there would be no fine for Renault and their punishment would be a suspended two-year sentence, which the team subsequently did not serve.
Briatore was later banned for life from FIA sports, however, he won an appeal and was later given a five-year ban. Currently, he is Alonso manager.
Symonds returned to the sport as technical director following a five-year ban. He currently works under F1 managing director for sporting and technical matters Ross Brawn as an advisor on technical matters.
Piquet went on to win the 2014-15 Formula E championship with Renault.
Ten years on, the biggest question remains, whose idea was it to get Piquet to crash? and will the truth ever be clear? “But it remains the worst cases of cheating in sporting history” according to the then BBC F1 correspondent Ted Kravitz
The Weekend Ahead
This weekend, the highlight of the second half of the season takes place in Singapore. Singapore is sometimes called ‘Monaco of the east’, it is a tricky low-speed circuit around the streets meaning Mercedes are on the backfoot this weekend.
Marina Bay is a mentally and physically demanding circuit for the drivers, given the heat and humidity in the car. That isn’t really helped by the fact that the race often runs to the two-hour mark, and the high probability of a safety car. That means restarts could be important.
The circuit on paper is one which Mercedes should struggle at, this has always been a race where they have struggled at even at the high of the dominate patch at the start of the hybrid era that masked the weakness. Singapore is a place where business is done, so watch out next week and in Sochi, for driver announcements.
It has become hard to predict the next moves in the driver market, expect that to become clearer in the next week now the Sauber/Ferrari switch has been done. We need Toro Rosso I see as the next big call as we now expect Brendon Hartley to stay as there is no clear successor in the Red Bull programme.
Formula One Vault will bring you LIVE and full coverage of the Singapore Grand Prix from 09:15 UKT on Friday with first practice on our LIVE Twitter account @F1VaultLive. We will bring you race coverage from 12:40 on Sunday with the race starting at 13:10 UK time