F1 Today – 15/09/2021

F1 Today

Hamilton needing new power unit “not an absolute must”

Mercedes CEO and team principal Toto Wolff says it is “not an absolute must” that Lewis Hamilton will need to take an additional power unit this season and serve a grid penalty. With still a third of the season to go all the teams are preparing to hit and brake the limit of three power units for the season.

Title rivals Red Bull has already confirmed that Max Verstappen will have to take a grid drop at a race later this year, but that will be done at a race where they believe the Dutchman can recover places.

Mercedes at Monza decided to move Valtteri Bottas onto his fourth unit of the season, meaning that the Finn started the race from the back of the grid despite topping qualifying and winning the sprint race. But Wolff explained that it was not a definite decision that Hamilton would take a grid drop at some point this year, given he still has life in his latest power unit.

He told Motorsport.com, “We believe that between P1 and P2, with the fastest lap, that if you have one DNF it needs the other guy four races to catch up. And that’s brutal. So you can afford to finish four times in second [place]. Therefore, you just need to really play it safe while not giving up performance.”

Hamilton added, “At the moment I’ve still got two engines. And there’s currently no plan for me to have to take an extra engine, hopefully. But we shall see.”

Before the collision between Hamilton and Verstappen in the race, Wolff said he was wary of the impact that retirements could have in both the drivers and constructors championship.


Ricciardo “never lost faith” in winless drought

Daniel Ricciardo says he “never lost faith” in his ability despite his three-year victory drought and challenging debut season with McLaren. The Australian surprised the sport when he decided to leave Red Bull for Renault (now Alpine) leaving one of the sports top teams to go to a midfield team.

Ricciardo then joined McLaren this season where he has struggled to match his young teammate Lando Norris. Ricciardo says that “there have been lows this year but deep down I never lost faith or the belief” as he comes to terms with his momentous achievement.

He told Sky Sports, “The weekend was a bit of a product of that. Already on Friday night I had a chip on my shoulder. But this is crazy, to be the guy that gets the first win for the team in nine years is pretty special.”

“You can easily get lost. You know, deep down I would have moments of frustration or moments of, yeah, dropping my head, but I kind of made a point never to let that last. I also made a point to try and gain something from it and learn from it.”

Ricciardo admitted that he momentary fell out if love with the sport, but you soon have clarity afterwards which makes you realise how much you love the sport. He also says that after playing second fiddle to Norris in the first half of the season, the summer break for the reset.

Adding “The August break kind of forced me to get away from it. I spent it in the States and I just got away. I spent time in nature, at a friend’s ranch, and it was just the time I needed to just reset.” He also admitted to a “pinch-me moment” of winning for McLaren.

“I’m sorry if I sound a bit self-absorbed now but when I think of McLaren I think of (Ayrton) Senna. That’s the early memories and I’ve seen you know, like the trophies in the cabinet at the MTC and to have a winning trophy now with my name in pretty much the same cabinet is crazy,” he said.


Verstappen lacked self-control – Hill

Former world champion Damon Hill believes the crash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton while fighting for the lead of the Italian Grand Prix reflected a “lack of self-control.”

The incident at the first chicane put both men out of the race, and it came just three races after contact between the pair at Silverstone led to a heavy crash for Verstappen. Hill who coincidently had collisions with his 1995 title rival Michael Schumacher at Silverstone and Monza says he rivalry between the current title contenders has made for a great battle, but one that he would prefer to see settled on merit.

Hill told Motorsport.com, “It’s made it very gripping, it’s enthralling and fascinating. I just think it’s a shame in our sport that it inevitably boils over into these crashes. I don’t think that’s an exhibition of skill. It exhibits a lack of self-control, really. It was avoidable.”

“The question whether it’s an error of judgement, or a deliberate reluctance to give in. They’re both playing hard, but I think that you have to get at least a wheel ahead to have a go at going round the outside of someone, and Max wasn’t ever in that position.”

Hill admitted that Verstappen was out of control after hitting the kerb, but pointed out that he could have gone down the escape road and avoided contact. He says that the consequences are quite dire, and very luckily, Lewis is unhurt.


FIA looking at Sainz Monza crash

The FIA is to look at why Carlos Sainz’s stretched seatbelts resulted in him being thrown forwards when he crashed in second practice at the Italian Grand Prix. When the Spaniard spun into the wall at the Ascari Chicane he made a hefty impact with the wall.

Onboard footage of the incident highlighted how big the impact was, with Sainz being thrown quite far forwards towards his steering wheel. Ferrari is currently conducting its own investigation into the accident using the mandatory FIA high-speed cockpit cameras, as well as other telemetry data, to get a full picture of the incident.

One thing which is unclear at the moment is whether or not Sainz’s helmet made contact with the steering wheel, which should become clear from any analysis that Ferrari and the FIA conduct.

How Sainz was thrown forward in the crash caused some alarm from observers, because it seemed so unusual. However it’s normal for seatbelts to give a little, because that is safer than the body being rigid.

FIA race director Michael Masi explained to Motorsport.com, “You’ve got a human body in there, so there’s got to be some give. You can’t just keep everyone completely tied in because there has to be a bit of giving in things.”

“So we will look the belt stretch, as we do with any major incident, or significant incident like that, and see what we can learn from it. You know, can it be improved? Let’s have a look?”

Asked if there was an element of the belts perhaps stretching too much in Sainz’s case, Masi said: “Possibly. And let’s try and learn from it.”

Sainz has already ruled out the suggestions that the HANS had snapped and this was backed up by photographs. He explained, “It was just that the impact was so heavy that my head went forward a lot and I took a bit of the belts with me, but not the HANS.”

Investigating accidents is a normal part of the FIA’s work, designed to look at any safety improvements which can be made.


Ocon frustrated by a time penalty

Esteban Ocon was frustrated after getting a time penalty for forcing Sebastian Vettel off at the Italian Grand Prix, arguing a similar incident in 2019 was left unpunished. On lap fifteen at Monza when battling Vettel for twelfth, the Frenchman nudged Vettel off track.

Because the pair collided and Ocon didn’t leave a car’s width for Vettel, he was handed a five-second time penalty, which he served during his only pitstop. That penalty ultimately prevented the Frenchman from finishing higher than tenth.

But it raised a question, why Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton, in which Hamilton had to take avoiding action after leader Leclerc made a similar move. At the time, Leclerc got off with a warning and hung on to win the race, and Ocon was left wondering why the stewards took a different decision this time.

Ocon told Motorsport.com, “The incident with Sebastian is a racing action, it’s not really a racing incident, because the same happened to Charles and Lewis in 2019, and there was no action there taken. So, we have no damage on the car, nothing really happened. That caused me a good three places, I would say. So, it’s a bit frustrating.”

“We were side by side, a bit too close, but basically the track narrows once you arrive on braking. I didn’t really move the steering wheel. It’s just that the track just narrows and that’s what happened exactly with Charles and Lewis and if that incident didn’t have any penalties or things like that, then mine shouldn’t have as well, because it’s two of the same thing.

Asked why the incident was treated differently, race director Michael Masi said the FIA and the teams had agreed after the 2019 race that a time penalty would have been a better decision in such incidents. He says while they were similar they were not the same.

Adding “after the 2019 one we did a complete discussion with all of the drivers, team principals and sporting directors. And it was sort of deemed in that situation that probably a five-second penalty would have been better than a black and white [flag]. So, exactly what came about.”

Earlier in the race, Ocon had also been ordered by the stewards to let Williams driver Nicholas Latifi after cutting the corner at Turn 4, although it took four laps for the stewards to get that message through.


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