Hamilton not changing approach
Lewis Hamilton’s approach of working hard and playing hard paid off in 2017, something that the four-time champion is unlikely to change this year.
The Englishman spent most of his winter snowboarding in Japan, surfing in Hawaii and jetting between Europe, California and Colorado.
He has been working hard in training too, all the time questioning himself about his aims and how to be stronger than ever, in a season that could see the top three teams even more closely ma0tched. When Mercedes launched the car last month, he asked himself could be better, is he still hungry and what next? He answered with three yes’s.
He said, “As you start going through that training process, you start to discover your goals. And it’s quite simple. I want to somehow be better than I was last year”
Last year, he won nine races on his way to a four world title and remains the favourite again this season. As ever, he will face his rivals at Ferrari, as Sebastian Vettel looks to beat him to five titles. But Hamilton remains the bookies favourite.
Last year Hamilton set himself a punishing schedule, regularly jetting across the Atlantic between Grand Prix’s and living life to the full.
This year he has had time to regain some balance, deleting much of his social media after a controversial post about his young nephew wearing a princess dress, and maintaining a lower profile.
FIA’s headache in searching for a deputy race director
The FIA is facing a challenge now following the departure of the deputy race director Laurent Mekies a week before the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Mekies has stood down from F1 duties following the announcement of his departure to Ferrari. It has been reported that Mekies predecessor Herbie Blash is not able to fill the role, as he has other commitments. Blash stood down in 2016 and has re-joined Yamaha.
The role of deputy race director is important as they are effectively in charge of race control for the grid, formation lap, start and opening laps, while race director Charlie Whiting is busy with starting the Grand Prix from the pit wall and then making his way back.
This responsibility extends to making calls on red flags and safety cars. The role of deputy race director also involves training and being the safety delegate.
There are no obvious candidates to fill the role who are qualified enough to fill the role. Blash will be in Thailand next weekend for the world superbike race however it’s understood that he could be potentially available for subsequent races if called upon.
An alternative course could be to second an experienced race director or deputy from another FIA series, at least on a temporary basis.
Red Bull more prepared for a strong season
Daniel Ricciardo says Red Bull are more prepared for a strong season than in any other season since he joined the team. The Australian joined the team just after they won a fourth consecutive drivers’ and constructors’ title.
But Red Bull hasn’t managed to produce a car which has challenged at the front of the field all season, since the introduction of the V6 hybrids. This season following a promising testing, Ricciardo is confident he told ESPN, “We are certainly more ready than we were last year, and probably every year before that since I’ve been with the team.”
“We did a lot of laps and I think the pace of the car is not bad, but we still have some things to improve, which is normal. But, yes, going to the race and having confidence to push the car on the limit and push the engine a little bit — I think we have much more confidence now.”
Ricciardo believes that Mercedes and Ferrari will be the leaders on track, but isn’t sure where the others will be relative to the top two.
Renault won’t endlessly fund team – Bell
Renault’s chief technical officer Bob Bell says the French manufacturer will not just fund the team until it matches Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull because their resources are in “another league.”
Since Renault brought Lotus at the end of 2015, they have invested heavily in upgrading the teams’ facilities at its Enstone base and has carried out an aggressive recruitment drive. The team last won the title in 2006.
But the team withdrew from the sport in 2009, with the team going into private hands. When it was Lotus, there was the failure by the owners Genii Capital to invest in the team meaning it dropped behind its rivals.
2017, the second year under Renault control it rose to sixth place in the championship. However, Bell has warned that the team needs to prove itself as the best of the rest before Renault would fund it to the next level.
He told Motorsport.com “Our team is being managed from the very top in a very sensible way. I suppose one way to look at it is to say we were sixth in the championship last year and we need to get into the position to comfortably maintain fourth place in the future.”
Bell pointed out that Force India has achieved fourth place with similar resources and says that Renault will not write cheques for motorsport until they prove they are capable of match of challenging the top three.
He added, “Once we’ve done that we can start the discussion of what’s it going to take to move into the top three, or take on Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull because they are another league again in terms of resources.”
But, Bell says the expansion plans would not go beyond a point which wasn’t silly in case the sport did introduce a cot cap. Saying that any staffing restrictions wouldn’t necessarily hurt Renault. Adding “The beauty is it gives us time if the world of Formula 1 changes and there are cost caps, and suddenly everything downsizes, it’ll come to us”
Launching the first global ad campaign
Formula One has launched its first ever global marketing campaign. Today the sport launched a film called ‘Engineered Insanity’, initially rolled out over social media, focusing on the visceral appeal of the sport as experienced by ‘superfans’ inside a wind tunnel.
Recently appointed, director of marketing Ellie Norman, telling Reuters that teams were supportive of the initiative. “There is definitely a sense of appreciation that for the first time Formula One is promoting the sport and the series itself,” she said.
“The teams work incredibly hard from their team and driver perspective but there has not been something from Formula One that promotes the series.”
A multi-platform campaign will accompany next week’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne before spreading around the world. Norman said that every race would have a new edit with the ‘key moments’ from the last race.
2018 is shaping up to be the season in which the US media company begins putting its vision onto the sport. Speaking about F1 Live Norman says there will be no attempt to get all 10 teams and drivers to participate.
“We’ve had really positive pickup from a number of teams that want to come and either do static cars, bring team members down, live demo runs,” said Norman. “That depends on logistics, availability.
The Week Ahead
Next weekend, the Formula One season begins where we will get the first real understanding of the pecking order. However, you need to take race one with a pinch of salt because it is the first race and it’s a street circuit.
There will naturally be a focus on Daniel Ricciardo, he will be trying to manage expectations as will all the drivers. As we go through the next week, we will hear more from everyone as ever the focus will be on getting through the spin and to the real story.
Away from the track, I feel Liberty will be outlining some of there plans for this year and for the Concorde Agreement. Ferrari I feel has the most questions to answer around these threats to quit, but we need to listen because of Ferrari’s influence in the sport.
Thursday could be key in this technical row about T-wings, as we said before A loop in last season’s technical regulations allowed high T-wings on the top of engine covers, allowing teams to boost performance.
But that loophole has been closed, however until we get a ruling from the stewards it isn’t known how its to be understood. I think drivers will be talking about the Halo, as that is the biggest visible change this year.
On Thursday evenings before races, this season we will bring you ‘The Weekend Ahead’ as part of our coverage.
Formula One Vault kicks off its build-up to the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday with the Season Prixview, Monday with a new Prixview and with TFTV on Tuesday. We will bring you full coverage from Thursday through to Sunday next week, F1 Today is back on Monday.