F1 Today – 15/09/2020

F1 Today

Ferrari “in a hole” and needs to wait to be competitive

Ferrari CEO Louis Camilleri says the Italian company’s Formula One team “is in a hole” at the moment and realistically has to wait until at least 2022 to be competitive again.

The manufacturer held it 1,000th Grand Prix at Mugello at the weekend. However, it wasn’t a race where they scored big points or were fighting at the front with Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel finishing eighth and tenth, respectively.

This season has been difficult for Ferrari, with the team dropping into the midfield as they are struggling to fight with Mercedes, Red Bull as well as midfield leaders Racing Point.

Mugello was the third of a triple header which included gruelling race weekends at Spa-Francorchamps and Monza, where the team suffered a double retirement. Camilleri said only hard work will get the team out of its current situation.

He told ESPN, “We are in a hole now — we know we are in a hole. It’s a confluence of factors, but anything I say will come across as excuses. And we’re not into excuses. What matters is to focus on the issues we have, to work hard with determination to what we consider to be our rightful place.”

The Coronavirus pandemic and the delay to the start of the season has prompted a delay to the rule changes it had planned for 2021. As a result, there are limited improvements Ferrari can make to its existing package.

When asked if there was any hope of improvements next season, Camilleri said: “Realistically, it’s going to be tough. Formula 1, we’re always fighting time, on track and in development. There’s no magic bullet. It will take time.

“I’m hoping with a bit more flexibility in the regulations next year, we can at least step it up from where we are. Mercedes, hats off to them, they’ve done an incredible job. We’ll see in 2022 with the new regulations whether it creates a reset.”


Mercedes play down reports INEOS buyout

Mercedes F1 CEO and team principal Toto Wolff has downplayed reports that INEOS is to become a full owner of the Brackley-based outfit. However, he stopped short of denying that the chemical company would have a closer involvement in the team in the future.

INEOS was first announced as a partner of the team last December, initially in conjunction with a new Applied Science division that provides technical support for the chemical company’s cycling and sailing programmes.

In February, the INEOS involvement expanded to significant sponsorship of the F1 team for the 2020 season. Over the weekend, Channel 4 pundit and former team principal Eddie Jordan, suggested that the next step will be for INEOS to take over the team and rebrand it.

However, asked by Motorsport.com about the situation Wolff was keen to downplay such suggestions. He said, “You know people pick up bits and pieces and construct the story around it,” he said.

“We have a magnificent relationship with INEOS, we work together on several high-tech projects around America’s Cup and the cycling team. And the partnership is very complimentary. We have the same ambitions with our sports teams. And that’s why INEOS is a partner of ours.

“Beyond that everything is just speculation. Daimler has no intent in giving up the team, and INEOS has no interest in buying a majority of the team and calling it like this.”

Wolff says he has no reason to depart from my shareholding. Asked if it was impacting discussions over both his future with the operation or that of Lewis Hamilton, Wolff added: “Hundred per cent of how you worded it, the future of the team is absolutely clear. It’s the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team. And nothing is going to change that.


FIA drops investigation on t-shirt message

The FIA has dropped their investigation into whether Lewis Hamilton broke any rules by wearing a T-shirt with a message about the shooting of Breonna Taylor both before and after his win at the Tuscan Grand Prix.

The six-time champion, wore the top on the podium as he collected his winner’s trophy and ended his immediate post-race interview by saying: “Justice for Breonna Taylor.” While the FIA has not begun any formal investigation, the question is whether Hamilton’s T-shirt broke rules relating to political statements or gestures at events.

Stewards took no action on the matter at Mugello on Sunday.

The 26-year-old Taylor, a medical worker, was shot and killed by plain-clothes police officers raiding her home in Louisville, Kentucky, in March. The death of Taylor became public knowledge in June when police undertook a no-knock search warrant.

The t-shirt read ‘Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor’, while the back contained her picture below the words ‘say her name’.

The actions come as drivers took the knee ahead of the national anthem, as they continue their protest against racism and inequality. The Mercedes driver has been a prominent voice in the Black Lives Matter movement and has called for lasting change both inside F1 and society at large.

In his post-race interview, Hamilton said: “It took me a long time to get that shirt and I’ve been wanting to wear that and bring awareness to the fact that there’s people that have been killed on the street and there’s someone that got killed in her own house, and they’re in the wrong house, and those guys are still walking free.”


Drivers would “love” Mugello return

F1 drivers say they would “love” to return to the Mugello circuit in 2021. The circuit was one of five new venues added to this year’s schedule to replace other cancelled races, under a special one-off contract with owner Ferrari that was supported by the Tuscan region.

However, while Liberty Media is currently planning a normal calendar for next year, but still coronavirus uncertainty could result in a return to Mugello.

Lewis Hamilton said “I personally love it. I don’t know how it was for the racing, but it was one of the toughest tracks to drive, I think being that it’s medium and high-speed.”

“But it’s a fantastic circuit, and I don’t think it was too dangerous. I think it’s more old-school with the run-off areas and the gravel, so I hope they don’t change that, and I would love to come back.”

Charles Leclerc said that an unexpected amount of overtaking had contributed to the show. Leclerc added, “I actually really enjoyed this weekend and the track overall, so yes I would love to have it back on the normal calendar.”

“Then it was also a special race because there were a lot of red flags and everything, but to be honest, before the race, I was a bit sceptical about how much we could overtake on this track, but after the race, there have been quite a lot of overtakes.”

Daniel Ricciardo agreed there was more overtaking than anticipated, and he hopes that Italy can permanently justify two races, as was the case up to 2006 when Imola hosted the San Marino Grand Prix.

Saying “I think we all feared we would love it in qualifying but kind of hate it in the race, with being unable to follow. But it certainly provided a much better race than anticipated. It was one of the most exciting races of the year, not even close to boring.”

“I think many drivers would like to come back. Obviously, we’ve got Monza as an Italian race, which we all love as well. So I don’t want it to come at the expense of Monza. But if we could have this one as well, then that would be nice.”

Sebastian Vettel l stressed that the track was not to blame for the incidents that triggered safety cars and red flags.

Saying “I think it’s a great track, so it would be nice if we were to come back in the future. As a driver, you enjoy the up and down and the fast corners. But I don’t think the race that we saw today, with three starts and red flags, is a consequence of the track.”


Russell believes points were in the bag

George Russel believes he had his first Formula One points “in the bag” at the Tuscan Grand Prix before a disastrous finish to the race cruelly denied the Williams driver his first points.

While Williams has been struggling at the back over the last year and three quarters, Russell has been continent and never been out-qualified by a teammate. In the second stint, he was running ninth comfortably ahead of both Renaults – before the second red flag.

On the third start, Russell made a poor start dropping to thirteenth last of the cars in the race, although he did recover to eleventh just one place outside the top ten.

Russell told Sky Sports, “I was ahead of the Ferraris and the pace was good. I was fully maintaining the position. We had P9 in the bag there to bring it home.”

“Then I lost all my positions off the line on the second restart with a poor launch. I don’t really know what happened, everything seemed to be on target. I went straight into wheel spin which was really odd, and got hit by Kimi [Raikkonen].”

Russell believes it’s a shame as that the race was under control and was driving like hell with everything was stable. He believes the team deserved points and if the race hadn’t been stopped they could have scored points.

Sebastian Vettel who denied Russell his first points admitted he felt bad and that the Englishman had been driving better for most of the race.

He told Dutch broadcaster Ziggo, “I felt a bit sorry to be honest for him because I felt he drove really well, especially before the last restart he was quicker than us, more consistent. He managed his race well, I could see what he was doing.”

“It will come for him but… poor soul! I think he really deserved the point today. I feel a bit sorry for him because he fought his way up to the points and didn’t get the result he deserved.”


Albon had ‘flashbacks’ to Hamilton

Alex Albon says he had flashbacks to his collisions with Lewis Hamilton when he made the decisive move on Daniel Ricciardo which earned him a maiden F1 podium finish.

Albon finished third at the Tuscan Grand Prix, passing Ricciardo around the outside of San Donato several laps after the second race restart.

The Thai driver has had two near-misses since joining Red Bull, colliding with Lewis Hamilton at last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix and this year’s Austrian Grand Prix when it looked like a podium or a win was on the cards.

It was third time lucky, although Albon admitted feeling nervous as he sized Ricciardo up for the move. Albon told Sky Sports after the race, “I had the Lewis flashbacks going into the corner, but Daniel left enough space and it was all OK.”

Albon drove his car homed cleanly, although Ricciardo admitted that he was hoping that he could pressure the British-Thai driver into a mistake.

Saying, “I knew if I could hold on to him for a few laps maybe it would hurt his tyres. I knew because he disposed me pretty quickly I thought, alright, that’s probably done.

“But also in the back of my mind I was like, OK, the kid’s never been on the podium before, if I try to do anything to put pressure on him and force him to keep driving at a high pace maybe something could happen.


Renault taking to FIA about Alonso test

Motorsport.com says it has learnt that Renault is in talks with the FIA to see if it can get permission to run Fernando Alonso in the post-season Abu Dhabi young driver test.

The French manufacturers growing competitiveness has led to growing interest from Alonso, with the belief that his return next year could deliver more than originally hoped. Speaking to Motorsport.com, Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul said, “Initially it [the approach] was, I drive when I drive.”

“But now I get the feeling that he is really keen to get to have a go, even in the current car. So we are looking into the opportunity to do that, but being very sensible.”

“So I mean, I’m not talking about any FP1 because frankly he doesn’t need that: he doesn’t need the exposure of FP1. And we need clearly the set up opportunity. But we’d like to see [him in the car] because I can feel that he has hunger for it.”

The reluctance to use an FP1 for Alonso leaves Renault with very limited opportunity to try the current car. This is partly because of the changes to the regulations because of the package of emergency regulations because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Previously, the post-season test at Abu Dhabi had been run over three days and used as a combination of young driver running and tyre testing for the following season.

However, with Pirelli’s rubber virtually unchanged for next year, teams agreed that the Yas Marina running would be cut back to a single day and was supposed to be for young drivers.

The third test will now take place as the post season test, but the regulations states, “unless otherwise approved by the FIA, not have competed in more than two F1 World Championship races during their career.”

It means that if Renault wants to get the vastly experienced Alonso on board for the test, it will have to get permission from the governing body either to let Alonso in, or change the format of the test.

However, there is a suggestion that the teams could push and unanimously agree a change to the regulations because of the high numbers of drivers switching teams for 2021.

Alonso had been clear when he signed for Renault that his only focus was on 2022, when a new era of rules come in. However, Abiteboul says that the Spaniard’s mindset had changed with the team now battling for podiums.

“At the start, it was much more about the future. It was let’s go very hard on 2022 and forget about 2021 and write off 2021. But as he sees that we are starting to have interesting battles on track, Fernando, he wants to feed the blood: in a positive way,” he added.


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