Alonso announces retirement
Fernando Alonso has announced he is retiring from Formula One at the end of the season. The thirty-seven-year-old is considered to be one of the best drivers of his generation, however, has failed to win a championship since 2006.
The two times champion is regarded as one of the greatest drivers of his generation, however, the Spaniard has failed to win a race since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix.
In a letter read out on his social media, Alonso said: “After seventeen wonderful years in this amazing sport it’s time for me to make a change and move on I made this decision some months ago and it was a firm one.”
“There are still several grand prix’s to go this season, and I will take part in them with more commitment and passion than ever. Let’s see what the future brings; new exciting challenges are around the corner. I’m having one of the happiest times ever in my life but I need to go on exploring new adventures.”
Over the past two years, he has looked at other series, and this season has competed in the World Endurance Championship winning the 24 hours of Le Mans. That win means he has now won to legs of the triple crown, and only needs to win the Indy 500.
Alonso was the sports youngest world champion, pole sitter, points scorer and race winner until 2008, youngest double champion until 2011. Despite his successes since the mid 2000’s he has been unable to mount a serious successful title bid.
His career was also marked with controversy, falling out with McLaren in 2007 before returning to Renault. What he knew about the plan for his teammate Nelson Piquet Jr to crash deliberately in Singapore the following year and team orders at the 2010 German Grand Prix.
More recently, his outspoken nature caused tension within McLaren with their relationship with Honda. He has not been on the podium since re-joining the team from Ferrari four years ago.
His carer could be described as near misses, losing the 2007 championship by a point tying with rookie teammate Lewis Hamilton. Losing to Hamilton by four points the following season and to Sebastian Vettel by three points in 2013.
His decision to quit Ferrari for the McLaren-Honda ‘project’ proved, in retrospect, to be a critical mistake and will be seen as having taken his career up a dead end.
Hamilton believes he will be a “different athlete”
Lewis Hamilton believes that he will be “a different athlete” with a revised driver rules next season will allow drivers to be slightly heavier. Next season the sport will introduced a minimum weight for drivers which will no longer be part of the cars overall weight.
The new rules mean that the taller and more heavier drivers will face an aggressive diet in order to save weight. Last season, the four times champion switched to a plant based diet in a bid to challenge for the fourth world title.
Hamilton is likely now to use the new rules to bulk up, saying he is excited to change his training programme towards the end of the year. He told Motorsport.com “I should be a different athlete next year, I’m excited about that,” said Hamilton.
To bring lighter drivers up to the new weight limit, teams will need to place ballast adjacent to the driver’s seat. Teams who have drivers and cars which are under the weight limit currently have freedom with the ballast, which can be placed lower in the car aiding its centre-of-gravity and improves the balance.
That means the further a driver is from the new limit, the more ballast needs adding higher in the car. “I don’t see my healthy eating changing, I just generally like to eat well,” added Hamilton.
“The rule is changing, which I think is cool. I’m excited to go and eat, increase my intake, I can be a little bit heavier next year, I can be a lot stronger.
Hamilton had called himself “a little chubby for my liking” on Instagram while using his social media account to document a training push between the German and Hungarian GPs. He says that he is trying to be more open with his body insecurities, saying his six pack is “not as good as I like.”
Grosjean compares season to Djokovic’s
Romain Grosjean has compared his struggles this season to the poor form that thirteen times tennis grand slam winner Novak Djokovic had prior to this years Wimbledon.
The Frenchman has had a turbulent season, he failed to score points in the first eight races. However, points in the four races in July has allowed him to move from nineteenth to fourteenth with three point scoring results.
His teammate Kevin Magnussen has maximised the strengths of this years Haas to score forty five points. Grosjean said his dip in form is no different to former world tennis number one Djokovic slipping to 21st in the ATP world rankings, before returning to the top 10 and winning Wimbledon in July – his first grand slam success in two years.
He told Autosport, “It’s been tough. I think it’s just getting yourself back to where you believe you belong and what you know to do and there are various reasons in life where sometimes you are going through a tougher patch.
“Look at Djokovic, he’s number one in the world and then two years completely off and now he’s won Wimbledon again, it’s great to see. And he hasn’t lost his tennis [ability], he hasn’t lost his fitness, he was just different. Sometimes you are.”
In the first eight races, Grosjean lost a number of points due to accidents. Crashing out in Baku and Barcelona, before compromising Esteban Ocon in Le Castellet and his teammate Kevin Magnussen at Silverstone.
But, incidents haven’t been his fault, in Melbourne, he was forced to retire after an unsafe release and an engine problem in Montreal stopped him from qualifying.
He added “This year didn’t start well and didn’t go well after that and I did struggle to recover my form. But, it was just that it was a lot together. Sometimes things don’t go your way, sometimes the feeling is not what it should be.”
Tost says Toro Rosso hasn’t achieved goals
Toro Rosso’s team principal Franz Tost has admitted that the team “hasn’t achieved our goals” with some of its major upgrades this season. Saying that the Italian team is currently “behind expectations.”
The Italian team introduced a raft of upgrades for both the Austrian and British Grand Prix’s however they have struggled to extract the performance, meaning they have failed to make the gains they where expecting.
Tost admitted he “expected more” from it and is concerned a failure to make gains with the updates could make it “difficult to defend” its eighth position in its midfield battle with Sauber, which trails the Italian squad by just 10 points.
Tost told Motorsport.com “We haven’t achieved our goals with the upgrades, we expected more from it. The midfield is very close, it’s [covered by] hundredths of seconds. If you can’t improve then it’s difficult to defend the position.”
“Currently we are behind our expectations. I hope for the second half of the season we can improve our performance. It’s difficult, yes. Sauber, Haas made big steps forward, also thanks to their fantastic Ferrari power unit.”
Pierre Gasly, currently thirteenth, says that the team was yet to “understand” its inconsistent form. The Frenchman also warned that both the Belgian and Italian Grand Prix’s would be “tough” for both Toro Rosso and Honda.
Saying “I think there are still a couple of things we don’t understand, why sometimes we perform a lot more than we expect and some other times we struggle a lot more than we think.”
“Of course we know that there are tracks where we’re going to perform a lot more, I think Spa and Monza will be quite tough for us.”
Vasseur hails Sauber’s progress
Sauber’s team principal Fred Vasseur has hailed the teams progress this season. The Swiss team is enjoying a more competitive season following a closer relationship with Ferrari.
Sauber has scored points in seven of the eleven races so far this season, it currently is ninth in the constructors championship and ten points behind Toro Rosso. The team has more points than they have scored in 2016 and 2017 combined with Vasseur impressed with how the team is moving forward.
He told ESPN, “”Yes, I think we are on a good path. If you compare with the beginning of the season and the first part of the season, I think we improved a lot, more than 1.5 percent compared to the front of the field. It’s a huge step forward for us now.”
“But I know perfectly that the more you move forward the more the steps are difficult. It’s good to have expectation because it’s the best way to put some pressure on the team to put some pressure on the guys, on the drivers, and this is the key point for the team.”
Vasseur has confirmed that with the introduction of simpler front wings and changes to rear wings, that the team has already turned its focus to next year’s car. He believes that finishing higher this season is worth continuing development.
We are going to be off for the next two days, we will be back Friday evening and Monday – Thursday next week!