Ferrari not “extracting their full potential” – Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton believes that Ferrari has not been “extracting their full potential” in the opening races of the season.
Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas outpaced the Ferrari most of the weekend in China as Mercedes became the first team to start the year with three 1-2s since Williams in 1992. The Mercedes driver has stressed that while Charles Leclerc was the moral winner in Bahrain the race before, Mercedes had to be there to take advantage of his power unit problems.
He told Motorsport.com “I think with what we have we are operating with what we have at its full potential. But there will be more performance improvements to come in the future, we will make steps forward.
“I think in the last race [Bahrain], you can’t say that was necessarily on full merit because weren’t quick enough to win the race really.” But, Hamilton says that the team were in a position to win which they had to do and that China was a win on merit.
He believes that Ferrari is not extracting their full potential on the weekend and that their execution doesn’t always look as faultless as they have shown in the past. Hamilton also is aware that Red Bull is there with them too, saying that the team is there about the same as Ferrari and Red Bull.
Hamilton has insisted since testing that Ferrari has had an advantage after testing and that the way the season-opening Australian Grand Prix panned out was a surprise. He says that they had a couple of tenths all season, but have failed to get a solid weekend.
He added, “I’m not really sure where they are losing out, but they’re gaining something like 0.4s on the straights, but losing out on corners, so it will be interesting to see how long they adopt that strategy in the coming races.”
Hamilton says that there should be many races where they should be outperformed by Ferrari, believes that Mercedes are over delivering and there’s more to come.
Media unfair representation of team orders –Vettel
Sebastian Vettel has condemned the media for their unfair representation of Ferrari’s used of team orders in the first three races of the season. The Chinese Grand Prix saw the team try to dictate the order of its drivers on the racetrack from the pit wall.
Early on in the race, the team asked Charles Leclerc to let Vettel past him, as it felt the four-time world champion was quicker, Leclerc initially protested, but obeyed, and arguably lost fourth position to Max Verstappen as a result.
Ahead of the weekend, Ferrari repeated that they would continue to favour Vettel in 50/50 situations between its drivers and all three occasions fit in with that mindset. But he ignored a similar request early on in the Bahrain Grand Prix to overtake him.
Asked by ESPN, whether he had requested to have Leclerc moved out of the way, and whether he thought doing so would have been fair, Vettel replied: “Well, let’s put it this way, I knew the moment it was happening that I would have to face these questions.”
“Not sure I want to answer because I’m a little bit against the way you all of you work, because you take bits out of answers here and there and put it into the wrong light.”
“So, if you ask me again in half an hour down in the paddock, maybe I give you a straightforward answer and you don’t write it down or record. Seems the way that not maybe all of you but some of you are working.”
He does believe that he was faster and was struggling in the free air, believing that he was able to chip away at Mercedes once he found a rhythm.
The topic is expected and will resurface again later in the year, but you need to remember that Mercedes used team orders on several occasions in 2018 to help Lewis Hamilton’s title bid.
Vettel, however, added that the decision should always be made in the context of what is best for the team.
Haas searching for race pace – Steiner
Haas team principal Guenther Steiner says that the team is struggling to find out why it is lacking race pace. In Shanghai for the second race in the row, the US team qualified both cars in the top ten but failed to score any points on Sunday.
Going into this season the team looked as if it could be the strongest midfield team, but despite having the fastest car over one lap the first three races have only resulted in six points thanks to Kevin Magnussen’s sixth place in Melbourne.
Asked about Haas’s lack of pace, Steiner told ESPN, “Same as Bahrain, very similar. You could all see it. We went out on new tires when they had heat in them, and it was fine, then going on… that’s it.”
“We tried but we didn’t fix it. We understood the problem after Bahrain but we couldn’t fix it in time for here; we still need to work on it. We need to keep on working and try and find a solution to our big issue.”
Steiner does not think there is a short-term solution and is readying himself for more of the same at next week’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix. He says that he is preparing himself for the worst in Baku, but hopes they can find something which can get energy into the tyres.
Getting heat into the tyres is a crucial part of unlocking the performance, this can be especially problematic at circuits with certain characteristics. China is an example, while it has long straights it’s low energy corners which don’t create the heat in the tyres.
When it was suggested the issue could have been down to poor vehicle dynamics, the term for how a car responds to inputs while in motion, he replied: “It’s a combination. It’s not vehicle dynamics, it’s combination of everything. You cannot put down to vehicle dynamics. It’s aero, it’s everything, there is a lot of things going on here. Otherwise, it would be too easy.”
Six Chinese cities interested in a race
Formula One’s bosses are to hold meetings this week with local government officials from six Chinese cities to explore the possibilities of creating another street race in the country.
Liberty Media has been clear since they took over the sport in 2016 that they see China as a place to grow the sport and wanted to add an additional race in the worlds second largest economy.
During the Chinese Grand Prix, commercial managing director, Sean Bratches has said that the ideal for him would be for a street circuit, with rumours suggesting that Beijing could be one of its targets. Beijing has had two street circuits in the past used for DTM and Formula E.
Bratches told the AFP news agency, “In terms of interest, we would be highly interested in a street race. It would be a nice juxtaposition to the purpose-built, extraordinary facility that we have here. Our intent is to bring our show to the people.”
He says that the meetings this week are to evaluate exactly what would be possible. Other mooted opportunities have been in Chengdu Province. Next April the Vietnamese Grand Prix will join the calendar, with the race replacing The race in Malaysia which was dropped at the end of 2017.
Albon proud of his start to season
Alex Albon says that he is proud of the start he has made at Toro Rosso following his late announcement as a race driver this year. Albon is one of three British driver, although he races under a Thai licence, and he has finished in the points in the last two races in Bahrain and China.
Albon is the least experienced driver on the grid and only gained his first experience of an F1 car in testing, unlike Norris and Russell who had participated in young driver tests. However, the British-Thai driver does not believe that he has been at a disadvantage despite the late confirmation of his graduation to F1.
He told Sky Sports, “Yeah I am [proud], to be honest, Formula 2 itself is a really good stepping stone for Formula 1. Even tyre management and all those things, they’re directly related to Formula 2. Learning the tricks, from there it carries directly over to Formula 1.”
In the race, he started in the pit lane following a crash in FP3, to finish tenth. Toro Rosso has had a driver qualify between eleventh and thirteenth in the opening three Grand Prix’s, but Albon feels the team have the pace to be targeting regular Q3 appearances over the remainder of the season.
He added “After FP3 it felt like a really big opportunity missed because the pace was really strong all weekend. I really thought we could have been in it in qualifying, so to be starting from the pit lane. I really think so [we can aim for Q3 every race].
The Vatican to get a sculpture of Ayrton Senna
Pope Francis is to be presented will be presented with a special bronze sculpture of Ayrton Senna on Wednesday, as part of a tribute ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Brazilian’s death.
The artwork was created by Senna’s niece Paula Senna Lalli and is to be presented by her sister Bianca, who is a director of the Ayrton Senna Institute. The sculpture will then become part of the Vatican Museum.
The commission for the Senna bust, called ‘Meu Ayrton’, came from the three-time world champion’s mother Neyde Senna three years ago, and the ceremony will be its public unveiling.
Senna Lalli said: “I was very proud to be given this mission by my grandmother, who wanted to portray the way he is remembered by the family with lots of warmth.
“I took on the challenge, even though I knew it would be hard: not many masterpieces like this are approved by our family, and even fewer by grandma [Senna’s mother], who is known for having high standards.”
Further commemoration events are planned to take place at Imola, Donnington Park and Interlagos in late April and early May. As well as for Roland Ratzenberger.
Drivers go for softest compounds for Baku
Pirelli has confirmed the driver’s tyre allocations for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. For the race in the capital Baku, it has gone for the harder end of its tyre compounds, nominating the C2 as the hard, C3 as the medium and C4 as the softs.
The top three teams Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull have all chosen to give their drivers one set of the hard tyre as well as choosing a set of the hard compound, doing the same are Haas, McLaren, Renault. and Racing Point.
Mercedes have gone for eight softs, four mediums, while Ferrari has seven softs, five mediums. Haas and Red Bull going for three softs and a hard.
Renault, McLaren and Racing Point have also gone for similar choices with there allocations. Both McLaren’s and Racing Point’s have ten softs, two mediums and a hard, with Renault varying the mediums and softs between its drivers.
Daniel Ricciardo having one medium and two hards, Nico Hulkenberg having two mediums and a hard.
While Alfa Romeo, Toro Rosso and Williams all have nine softs, with Kimi Raikkonen, Daniil Kvyat and George Russell having two of both the mediums and hards. Their teammates Antonio Giovinazzi, Alex Albon and Robert Kubica having three mediums and a hard.