Mercedes couldn’t be five times champions without Hamilton
Mercedes says that they could not have claimed five constructors championships in a row without Lewis Hamilton, according to CEO and team principal Toto Wolff.
The German manufacturer secured his fifth world title in Brazil, and next year will be trying to secure its sixth to equal Ferrari’s record between 1999-2004. Wolff has already admitted that 2018 has been the team’s “most difficult” of the V6 turbo era given the intense challenge of Ferrari for much of the season.
Hamilton joined Mercedes in 2013, a year before the hybrid engines were introduced. Since then he has claimed four more titles and fifty-one wins, so far. Fifty-one of his seventy-two career wins have come with Mercedes, and all but one of his Mercedes wins in the hybrid era.
When asked if the team could have won so many in a row without Hamilton, Wolff said: “No, we wouldn’t have won five championships. He’s an extraordinary driver.”
“An unbelievable personality, human is the right word, and therefore he has been an integral part of the team. He’s at the forefront of the car. There are many other exceptional people who have contributed to the success but clearly, it wouldn’t have gone without him and it wouldn’t have gone without others either.”
Wolff also praised the contribution made by Valtteri Bottas, believing that the Finn’s bad luck forced him into the supporting role he was in for most of the second half of the season. Saying “Valtteri’s contribution was enormous. Until the Baku incident where he lost 25 points he was properly in the fight for the championship.”
“Since then it has gone against him and he’s kept his dignity and played a big role in supporting the team without losing his stature as a racing driver and as a racing driver that can win”.
Vettel should be stronger next year
Ferrari’s chief engineer Jock Clear believes that Sebastian Vettel will come back a stronger driver next year, after “unfinished business” of not securing a title with Ferrari.
Although Ferrari appeared as a major threat to Mercedes throughout the season, a number of mistakes since July derailed the team’s championship challenge. But Clear believes that the German will use the experience to make himself better in 2019.
He told Motorsport.com “The fact is drivers of his calibre relish the pressure. That’s again what I think, the top athletes pit themselves against the best and the pressure is the pressure. That’s part of the job. I think he has enjoyed the season. There have been highs and lows.”
“I think he said recently that losing the championship in 2009 he found more frustrating. I think on the whole, he has come to this battle willing to take risks, willing to give it his all and we’re part of that. We’ve all done our part this year to the ups and downs.”
Clear says from Vettel’s position it should give him more strength to come back next year to complete ‘unfinished business’. The key lesson Ferrari will take away this year, is that the team to perform consistently throughout the whole season.
Mercedes defend Hamilton’s criticism of India
Mercedes has defended comments made about the Indian Grand Prix by Lewis Hamilton on social media. Hamilton was critical about his experience racing in India when the sport held an event there between 2011 and 2013.
Speaking to BBC News, he said “I’ve been to India before to a race which was strange because India was such a poor place yet we had this massive, beautiful grand prix track made in the middle of nowhere. I felt very conflicted when I went to that grand prix.”
In a subsequent post on his Instagram and Twitter accounts, Hamilton wrote: “Hey everyone. I noticed some people are upset with my comment on India. First off, India is one of the most beautiful places in the world. The culture there is incredible. I have visited and always had an amazing time however whilst it is the fasted [sic] growing economy it also has a lot of poverty.”
“My reference was that a Grand Prix there felt strange to drive past homeless people and then arrive in a huge arena where money was not an issue.” He says that the money would be better spent on education and homes for those who need it.
Mercedes F1 CEO Toto Wolff said it was “unbelievable” how Hamilton’s “thoughtful” comments about his experience of racing in India had been misconstrued.
In a statement, he said “It is once again unbelievable to me how the words and the meaning of Lewis get spun out of context in this way. He spoke with empathy about India and the painful contrast between wealth and poverty that we face while travelling the globe as sporting ambassadors.”
“He did not criticise the nation and his words were those of a thoughtful and considered champion. The only fault here lies with the people who have twisted his words to mean something else entirely.”
F1 to drop “unattractive” races – Carey
F1 CEO Chase Carey says that he will drop races which have “unattractive” deals with the sport and replace them with deals negotiated by the new management. The only new race confirmed by Liberty Media in Vietnam, which is scheduled for 2020.
However, he has regularly stated there’s extensive interest from potential hosts, and that the calendar could extend to up to twenty-five races in the future. This also comes at a time when a number of the historic and key races are facing huge financial difficulties.
Speaking during a conference call for Liberty investors, Carey stressed the new owners are working more closely with race promoters to put on a good show, suggesting that in the past events were “stale”.
Saying “The promotion end of our business has been viewed as more mature than other revenue streams in F1. This perception was fuelled by a lack of investment or freshness by the prior regime in our events.”
“Quite simply our events became stale, which led promoters to focus on costs as opposed to growth.” Carey believes that maximising the value and communication is key to creating world-class events.
He stressed that a strong demand for new races to join the calendar will allow F1 to make better deals. Adding “We believe there is still potential growth, significant growth, in the promotion segment, during the next few years.”
“The expansion will be modest, but we have been excited by the number, quality and diversity of new locations interested in hosting a race. We are on the right side of the quality of races or fees.”
Further expansion beyond twenty-two races has been unpopular with drivers, teams and broadcasters. One solution could be reducing Friday practices at some races which don’t pull in crowds on practice day.
Renault announce the successor to Stroll
Renault has announced Thierry Koskas as the successor to the president of Renault Sport Racing when Jerome Stroll retires at the end of the year. Stroll was appointed as president in 2016 ahead of the manufacturers return as a works team.
He set out a two-stage plan to get the French manufacture back to challenge for titles in 2020, the first stage focused on restructuring the team over a three-year period and the second stage aimed at bringing it back to the very front of the grid.
Koskas moves to the F1 division after three years as Renault’s sales and marketing executive vice president is due to kick off the second stage of the plan when he joins at the beginning of next year.
A press release confirmed he would work alongside Renault Sport Racing’s managing director Cyril Abiteboul with the aim of bringing the team “to the highest level of the discipline”.
The team is on course to finish fourth after holding off a strong challenge from Haas, despite being out developed in the final few rounds. Its secret is well known as its plans to work towards a championship assault in 2021 following the next major regulation change.
Key to Renault’s restructuring has been the appointment of Marci Budkowski from the FIA to head up its technical department as well as Daniel Ricciardo joining the team from Red Bull next year.
Fittipaldi about talent not name – Haas
Haas team principal Gunther Steiner says that the team did not sign Pietro Fittipaldi as test driver for commercial or publicity reasons, joking they could have signed his grandfather Emerson if he’d wanted to.
The twenty-two-year-old is the grandson of the two times champion and will make his debut for Haas at the post-Abu Dhabi test later this month. Fittipaldi will play a key role in its testing plans and upgraded simulator programme in 2019.
Steiner told Motorsport.com “on [F1 weekend] Fridays we can test set-ups and with aero developments, we put them in first with Pietro. This is part of getting better and it takes time.
“You cannot do it all in the first year. Pietro wants to do this to get into F1, he needs to do testing for the correlation between the car and simulator, so it’s a genuine test role.” He says that he met Fittipaldi at his house with his uncle in North Carolina.
Steiner says he told the young Brazilian, “when you win a championship you can come back”, which he did. Speaking about the name he said it doesn’t hurt but also creates pressure.
Adding “If he is called Fittipaldi or, I don’t know, Sanchez or whatever – I don’t really care at this moment. He needs to add something us, an element to get the team better, and not us do better marketing-wise.
“It’s not about publicity, you know. Because, if I wanted that, I could have asked Emerson to do something for us – we can employ Emerson, he is available!” he quipped.
Sainz denies Verstappen blocked Red Bull move
Carlos Sainz has denied suggestions that Max Verstappen blocked his move to Red Bull next season. The Spaniard was the natural successor to fill Daniel Ricciardo seat after he announced he was replacing him at Renault.
However, it was announced that Sainz would leave Red Bull after a season on loan to Renault to join McLaren. That announcement prompted speculation that Verstappen Sainz not joining Red Bull, Sainz poured cold water on those claims in the latest edition of F1’s podcast.
Verstappen and Sainz were very evenly matched as teammates in their debut season at Toro Rosso, there had been reports that the Dutchman and his management blocked a deal, which the Spaniard denies.
Asked by F1’s Beyond The Grid podcast, if Verstappen could have denied his promotion, Sainz said: “I don’t know, but I would say no. I don’t think drivers really have an effect on that. It is a very difficult question you could ask him.”
“I think as we got on well and we have a rivalry of course, I wouldn’t think he would go to Helmut [Marko] or to Christian [Horner] and say: ‘No I don’t want Carlos.’” He says that sound weak if you asked a team boss not to say who you want or don’t want as your teammate and that Verstappen never really said that.
Sainz thinks an incorrect perception has grown in recent years that he and Verstappen are on bad terms, something he says is untrue. Adding “It’s one of the big enigmas of the paddock. Everyone thinks me and Max hate each other, and that’s absolutely not the case.”
“We were having fun that year, I promise. We were having a lot of fun out of the track. In the track, we were extremely competitive.
The Week Ahead
Next weekend F1 heads to Abu Dhabi for the final race of the season, with both the drivers and constructors now settled it is widely expected that all the top teams will allow free racing. Abu Dhabi should be then the best race of the season, teams will go into the race hopeful throwing everything at winning and not the championship for the front-runners.
The next ten days, with the final test of the year post-race, is very important teams want to carry momentum into the winter. We also know one that having momentum into the winter can be the springboard to the championship.
Celebrations will be taking place for a number of drivers, Fernando Alonso will be a big focus all will be looking back on his career and legacy. But McLaren will face questions like where did it go wrong, which is the story of his career and the teams last six years.
Another will be at Red Bull ahead of Daniel Ricciardo’s departure, we have reported today he is confident his bad luck will “dissolve” next season at Renault. But, you can’t not think about the end of Red Bull’s relationship with Renault.