Paris Summit – Abiteboul confidence of no hijacking
Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul is confident that none of the big teams will try to “hijack” Formula’s 2021 rule changes at a crunch meeting in Paris on Wednesday.
Teams, the FIA and Liberty Media are meeting to try to finalise the rules covering technical, financial and sporting regulations aimed at making grand prix racing closer and more exciting from 2021. Following Saturday’s unplanned ‘discussions’, it is understood some progress was made in Suzuka.
However, resistance from some top teams about the details of new technical regulations, there is a fear that a deal may not be so easy to reach, which could leave the sport with a huge headache in terms of what it does from now on.
There is an alliance between both Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull, Toro Rosso on mostly financial and standard parts which they oppose and the other teams. But Abiteboul believes the time for anyone to block what is happening has long gone.
He told Motorsport.com, “I don’t think anyone in the current climate, and I am talking about the economic landscape in the automotive industry, can afford just having a go at the process and threatening the process.”
“I don’t think you can hijack it, as that could cause so much chaos not just for that one team but for the whole of F1. We are passed that point.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes that a compromise solution can be found, with the looming deadline able to focus minds to ensure that the process moves forward. He added, “I think the good thing about having fixed deadlines is, and it’s a bit like Brexit, it focuses people’s minds and attention.”
“I think actually it needs focusing for all parties to try to achieve inevitably what will be a compromise.” However, he hopes the deal can be agreed by the end of the month.
The teams have split into two groups, with Haas joining engine partner Ferrari and the other top teams Mercedes and Red Bull, while most of the US-owned team’s midfield opposition is in another group.
The top three want to stay closer to the current regulations, with more aerodynamic freedom than is currently being proposed, while the latter teams are essentially backing the changes that are planned, which include more standard parts and tight restrictions on aero.
Fifth place at Suzuka ‘special’ – Sainz
Carlos Sainz says his fifth place at the Japanese Grand Prix, was “more special than others” after being so quick he forced Ferrari and Charles Leclerc to ‘give up’ at Suzuka.
The McLaren driver qualified seventh for the race, before taking advantage of the Ferrari drivers clash with Max Verstappen to equal his best result of the season. Leclerc had to recover through the field after damaging his front wing hitting Verstappen on the opening lap, but was unable to get within five seconds of Sainz in the second half of the race and eventually aborted his long stint to change tyres.
When Autosport suggested it must have felt good to force Ferrari to do that, Sainz said: “Oh yeah, it did. When you have a Ferrari 10 seconds behind, and when they are a couple of seconds faster in race pace, you think you’re not going to make it.”
“I had been saving my tyres at the beginning of the stint and when I was required to push I was able to find half a second of pace and although he was half a second quicker for the first three or four laps, he suddenly degraded and I kept up the pace and he gave up.”
The race was the third time this season that Sainz has finished fifth, allowing him to move ahead of Pierre Gasly in the constructors. He believes that was because of the sheer pace of the car, which worked well in the first sector.
He also says that Leclerc was unable to keep up and that he was proud they were able to do that.
Sainz survived a near-miss with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton on the opening lap as he took advantage of the Verstappen/Leclerc clash and a poor start from Red Bull’s Alex Albon to surge into fourth.
About the contact, Sainz added “He was on my blind spot so I didn’t know where the Mercedes was.
“I knew he was somewhere on the inside and obviously they are a lot quicker through the Esses – in quali it was quite impressive to see them! I didn’t know where he was, so I had to lift a bit and leave a bit of space, and it was just enough for him to go flat and pass me.
The real chequered flag should end races – Vettel
Sebastian Vettel believes that only the real chequered flag should be shown at the end of the race, after the light panel showed the chequered flag on lap fifty-two of the Japanese Grand Prix.
The result of the fifty-three lap race at Suzuka, where Vettel withstood a last-lap attack from Lewis Hamilton to finish second, was instead taken at the end of lap 52 because the chequered light panel was activated too early.
The sporting regulations say that should the chequered flag or the signal panel show a chequered flag, the race will be deemed to have finished when the leading car last crossed the line before the signal was given.
Asked by Autosport for his thoughts on the situation had moved before the lights went out at the start of the race, Vettel joked that “I wasn’t the only one who was eager and went early. From the driver’s point of view, it’s very clear: there was no chequered flag.”
“We have the pit board giving us the information on the laps, we see it on the dashboard as well how many laps are still to go. I saw there was a lap to go and got the call by radio it was the last lap, even though there was a confusion because I think it’s more the timing [system] that set the chequered flag.”
The German argues that the chequered flag is the “ultimate signal” for drivers and that should be the case with the rules too.
Adding “We had an issue in Canada [last] year where the chequered flag was waved too early. Now as I understand it the timing [system] is the more decisive one. Whereas I think it should still be the chequered flag as well.”
Vettel says if a driver sees the chequered flag they know they shouldn’t continue.
Ferrari’s team principal Mattia Binotto said Ferrari had immediately instructed its drivers to keep racing to the end of the lap after receiving the chequered flag signal.
Miami reaches principle agreement for 2021
F1 has announced plans for a race in Miami around Miami Dolphins NFL stadium, could be held in 2021 after a deal in principle was agreed between the sport and venue owners.
The Hard Rock Stadium announced on twitter in a joint statement that it has signed an initial agreement.
A joint statement, by Sean Bratches, F1’s commercial managing director, and Tom Garfinkel, the vice-chairman of the Miami Dolphins, said “We are thrilled to announce that Formula One and Hard Rock Stadium have reached an agreement in principle to host the first-ever Formula One Miami Grand Prix at Hard Rock Stadium.”
They believe that the race could bring around £3.1m to the local economy every year, because of the impact on the tourism industry for their patience. Adding “We look forward to bringing the greatest racing spectacle on the planet for the first time to one of the world’s most iconic and glamorous regions.”
However, local media are reporting that planning permission now needs to be granted from Miami-Dade County officials and, should the green light be given, the inaugural race would take place in May 2021.
Should it go ahead it would be the first time since 1984 that America has hosted two Grand Prix’s in a season. Miami fits the intention to add ‘destination cities’ to the calendar after buying the sport nearly three years ago, with the American market a key target.
This year the city will host F1 Live as a support event to the race in Austin. Earlier this year, plans for a street circuit in the downtown area of the city from this year were postponed amid local protests against the event and concerns about the suitability of the track layout.
Hamilton on veganism and saving our planet
Lewis Hamilton has written on his social media that he feels “like giving up on everything” and posted about the positives of going vegan. The five world champion wrote the lengthy post on his Instagram Stories calling the world “messed up”.
The five times champion has sold his private jet in a bid to go greener and in September opened Neat Burger, a plant-based restaurant in London. He writes “Go vegan, it is the only way to truly save our planet today,” Hamilton wrote.
Adding “I’m sad right now with the thought of where this world is going. Extinction of our race is becoming more and more likely as we overuse our resources.”
In the post, which is no longer available to view, Hamilton stated: “education is key” and admitted it had taken “32 years to understand the impact” he is having on the world.
Hamilton is increasingly using social media to promote environmental issues on a number of occasions including uploading clips about dolphin hunters.
Toro Rosso’s name change agreed
Motorsport.com says that they have learned the Toro Rosso’s request to be renamed Alpha Tauri has been approved. The Red Bull sister team has used its current name since the drinks manufacturer purchased Minardi in 2005-06.
Last month, it was reported that Red Bull wanted to rebrand the team, which has raced under its current name – an Italian translation of Red Bull, for 15 seasons. The website says an e-vote took place by the F1 Commission before the Russian Grand Prix and was approved.
Alpha Tauri, launched two years ago, is named after a star in the Taurus constellation. While teams tweak their official entry names on a regular basis to denote title sponsors, it is not common for names to be changed completely without a change of ownership.
However, Sauber was rebranded Alfa Romeo Racing for 2019, in deference to the Italian manufacturer taking its title sponsorship to an unusual level, even though the Swiss operation is still behind the entry.
Force India’s transformation into Racing Point during 2018 is a different case because it is officially a different entry.
Pirelli announces Mexico tyres
Pirelli has announced the driver’s tyre allocation for next weekends Mexican Grand Prix. For the race in Mexico City, they have nominated the C4 as the soft, C3 as Medium and C2 as the hards
Both Mercedes, Ferrari’s and Toro Rosso’s have seven sets of the softs, with Lewis Hamilton, both Ferrari’s and Pierre Gasly have five mediums and a hard. While Valtteri Bottas and Daniil Kvyat have four mediums and two mediums.
Red Bull, Renault, Haas and Williams have nine softs. Both Red Bull’s and Haas’s, as well as George Russell, have three mediums and a hard. While Renaults and Robert Kubica have two of the mediums and hard.
Both McLaren’s and Racing Points have gone for eight softs, three mediums and two hards. Both Alfa Romeo’s have eight softs, with Kimi Raikkonen having three softs and two hards, teammate Antonio Giovinazzi has four softs and a hard.