Bottas’s confidence boosted by Japan
Valtteri Bottas says his confidence has been boosted by his performance in the Japanese Grand Prix, believing he has learnt from his dip in form the second half of the season.
The Mercedes driver labelled his slump in form following the Malaysian Grand Prix, as the “most difficult time of my career,” but was much closer to the pace displayed by team-mate Lewis Hamilton at Suzuka.
In Sukuza, Bottas managed to get within three-tenths of Hamilton to qualify second the closest since the summer break, but a gearbox penalty relegated him from second to sixth on the grid.
Bottas finished the race fourth less than a second off third, although his race was slightly compromised when he moved aside for Hamilton before his first stop. Bottas told Sky Sports “From the last few weekends I’ve definitely learned a lot.”
“I think I managed to perform in a better way this weekend and controlling some of the issues I’ve had before. I think my performance was better.” He says that without the penalty, he believes that Japan was a good race for him pace wise and he was looking forward to Austin.
Since the summer break, Bottas has fallen seventy-two points behind Hamilton. While he still remains mathematically in the championship, he would need to win all four remaining races and have Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel retire or not score in those races.
But, second place is a more realistic option as like Hamilton he has benefited from Vettel’s recent run of bad luck, with him thirteen points behind, that is of little comfort to the Finn.
“The main thing for me is it’s a shame the gap to Lewis is massive now. It’s good for him and also what happened [to Sebastian] was very good for his championship fight but for me it’s not ideal.”
Oil burning mocks green credentials
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has backed calls for the FIA to get tougher on oil burning because he believes it mocks the push for Formula One to be more environmentally friendly.
Oil burning has been an ongoing debate all season after Ferrari questioned the legality of the practice, which the FIA says in principal is illegal. But, it hasn’t been outlawed for 2018 instead the FIA has lowered it to .6 litres per hundred kilometres, however, McLaren said over the Japanese Grand Prix weekend that it believed even this level was too high.
Red Bull’s engine supplier Renault, is understood to be exploiting oil burn as much as Ferrari and Mercedes, questioned why F1 made an effort to introduce turbo hybrids if the engines then burn oil in an inefficient way.
Horner told Autosport “Burning 4kg of oil in a race, it’s almost a diesel engine. It goes against what the concept of this eco-friendly hybrid formula is.
“I think the reality is it would be better to see it addressed properly, and take away the uncertainty. I know other teams are particularly upset about what they perceive as oil burning, particularly during qualifying.”
McLaren racing director Eric Boullier reiterated his belief that the FIA should get tougher on the oil burn situation, rather than be giving teams leeway.
“I know the FIA and Charlie [Whiting] are working very hard to try to close the loophole because there’s not a clear definition of oil in the FIA regulations, but I don’t know if it’s going to be enough,” said Boullier.
Sauber eye Ferrari parts for “huge” step
Sauber team principal Fred Vasseur says taking non-listed parts from Ferrari would help the team to make a “huge” step, as he debates to what extent the two teams should collaborate to.
Earlier this year, Sauber agreed to a new deal with the Italian manufacturer to take the latest specification engine and its gearbox for 2018 and is now in discussions over running Ferrari junior drivers and extending the technical collaboration.
Vasseur is targeting the midfield next season for the Swiss team and believes that in the short term that will see them make progress. However, that would mean that the team would be unable to make the most of the team’s Hinwil factory, enhanced during its years as BMW’s factory team and capable of producing an F1 car in-house.
When asked about whether the relationship will extend to non-listed parts, Vasseur told Motorsport.com, “It would be a huge support to Sauber to have this kind of partnership with Ferrari. It would be the fastest way to improve because it’s a huge step in three months.”
“It’s a good way to improve quickly and come back onto the pace and catch the midfield, and then we can see what will be the next step. We need to think about the close future, next year.”
“On the other hand, you need to keep in house the skills and the technology and the know-how and I don’t want to give up on this.” He said he doesn’t want the in house skills and technology to be lost.
Vasseur says that the right balance needs to be found, further talks about the technical collaboration are expected in the coming weeks. The first area which needs resolving is the extent of the technical partnership and then drivers.
Ferrari junior Charles Leclerc, who won the F2 championship at the weekend, is favourite to get a seat with Sauber next year, but it remains unclear whether fellow junior Antonio Giovinazzi will get the second seat.
Vettel will not give up – Rosberg
Mercedes ambassador and current world champion Nico Rosberg says Sebastian Vettel will not give up on trying to close the gap to Lewis Hamilton, despite the growing deficit he has in the driver’s championship.
With Hamilton fifty-nine points ahead of Vettel and one hundred remaining, a win for Hamilton and Vettel sixth or lower, or if Hamilton is second and Vettel is ninth would hand the Englishman his fourth world title.
Rosberg admits his fellow German has an uphill battle if he is to catch Hamilton, but believes Vettel believes he has the ability and desire to catch three-time world champion Hamilton. He told Autosport, “Ferrari always come back strong. It’s so difficult for Sebastian now. Lewis has such momentum, everything is going in his direction.”
“Sebastian needs a miracle to come back but he’s a fighter and he won’t give up. It will remain interesting so let’s see how far he can take”
Rosberg has been appointed as Robert Kubica’s manager, speaking about the Pole’s test with Williams on Wednesday, he said “Williams is evaluating him so we need to be patient.”
“In my 20 years of racing, the fastest guys I saw were Hamilton and Kubica, so I know how fast he can be.
“I am exploring and enjoying this management side of it – it’s different doing it for someone else. I was my own manager, but this is another good way to stay connected to the sport.”
We threatened to sack Hamilton and Rosberg – Lauda
Mercedes non-executive director and three times champion, Niki Lauda says the German manufacturer threaten to sack both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg if there was a repeat of the first lap collision in last season’s Spanish Grand Prix.
The Mercedes duo crashed out at Turn Four on the opening lap, after Rosberg pushed Hamilton onto the grass as he tried to make a move on him. The accident was a flashpoint in the fractious relationship between the pair and Lauda said the incident prompted Mercedes to install new rules of engagement.
In a YouTube interview with Graham Bensinger, Lauda said “We put some regulations in, we told them – especially in Barcelona when they pushed each other off the track – we said this was unacceptable for Mercedes.”
“We had some rules put in, that you are not allowed to and you have to pay a penalty if you do it again or we will think of releasing you from your contract, because we are team players here and we cannot destroy each other.”
Speaking about the debrief, he said Hamilton wasn’t happy because “I said right away if I have to choose between the two it’s more Lewis’ fault than Nico’s fault.”
“Lewis did not appreciate that, because he was of a different opinion. He said, ‘Why do you criticise me?’ I said, ‘Excuse me. I cannot accept that you guys crash and then we have nothing and nobody’s fault. For me it has to be somebody’s fault.’
The two childhood friends relationship had broken down by then and Lauda said that had more of an effect on Hamilton rather than Rosberg
No interest in Dutch GP says local government
Local governments in both Amsterdam and Rotterdam have said there is little interest in their cities hosting a Dutch Grand Prix street race.
Earlier this week, it was reported that commercial boss Sean Bratches recently paid a visit to the Netherlands to talk about the possibility of holding a street race in one of the country’s major cities.
While the idea of a race is still in the early stages, both cities have told Motorsport.com they are not too keen on exploiting the growing popularity of Max Verstappen by holding an event on their streets. A spokesperson for the city of Amsterdam told Motorsport.com: “A car race should take place on a circuit, not in an old city centre.”
While the idea of race in the capital has also been shot down by the sports minister in the municipal executive of Amsterdam, earlier this week on Twitter.
On the possibility of a F1 race in the streets of the Dutch capital, Van der Burg tweeted: “In Amsterdam? That’s fine, but in Amsterdam Beach [Zandvoort], where they have a beautiful track. Not in the city centre of Amsterdam.”
A spokesperson for Rotterdam says that the possibility of holding a race within three years would be almost impossible due to city centre works.
“Rotterdam has not been approached regarding a Formula 1 event, so there have also been no discussions about this. In the coming three years this would be unthinkable anyway due to a renovation of the Maastunnel and a refurbishment of the Coolsings.”
Zandvoort which last held the race in 1985 is said to be conducting a study into whether the race is viable. Another possible venue could be Assen which hosts Moto GP.