Ricciardo aware of how big a gap
Daniel Ricciardo says he is aware of how big the gap is between his Red Bull team and the two leading teams Mercedes and Ferrari after he finished the Spanish Grand Prix a minute and a half behind in Sunday’s race.
Red Bull had hoped that their upgrades would have narrowed the gap to the front. However, while the RB13 showed better one-lap pace in qualifying, that failed to translate into race pace with Ricciardo well behind winner Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.
The Australian told Sky Sports “I’m aware of the gap to the leaders, I think they lapped up to fourth place, to Perez behind me, so I was the next place, the next victim.”
“I was wondering if they lapped me and then take each other out, do I win the race but get lapped, how does that work!? But to be honest right now, I’m aware still of our deficit but I’m just trying to soak up the podium.” Despite the huge gap, Ricciardo says he is relieved to claim his first podium of the season.
However, part of his third place was because of the retirements of both the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen, who crashed into Ricciardo’s team-mate Max Verstappen. Both Raikkonen and Verstappen suffered suspension damage.
But, there were signs of improvements for Red Bull in qualifying when Verstappen was just over half a second off Hamilton’s pole position time, the closest Red Bull have been to the front this season.
Red Bull and Force India unlikely to close performance gap
Red Bull and Force India agree the performance gap to the front runners, Mercedes and Ferrari mean they are not going to become on-track rivals despite the small gap in the points.
Force India had a strong race in Barcelona with Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon finishing fourth and fifth respectively. That result for Force India, means the team are just nineteen points behind Red Bull in the constructor’s championship.
Force India say while consistently being in the points, the believe the speed differential between them and Red Bull will favour Red Bull for the rest of the season.
Speaking about the challenge, Red Bull boss Christian Horner Said: “We haven’t had a double finish with our cars for two or three races now, and I think they are doing a great job.”
“But I think in pace, there is still quite a significant gap between ourselves and Force India. They are maximising their opportunities that are presented to them, which they are doing a great job.” He says that continuing to get both cars home in the points would be a problem.
Force India COO Otmar Szafnauer added “We’re 19 points behind them now with a quarter of the season gone. Nineteen points isn’t insurmountable, so it’s still an objective that is achievable.”
“However, to achieve that we need more pace. They are faster than us, they are going to beat us, it’s that simple. If everything stays the same they will beat us.” Szafnauer added.
He also believes the team could not relax in thinking its fourth position was secure, despite a 32-points advantage over Toro Rosso.
Holding up Vettel was my duty – Bottas
Valtteri Bottas says it was his job and duty during Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix to hold up the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, to allow his Mercedes team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, to win.
The Finn played a key role in the race after Hamilton got ahead of Vettel and that allowed Hamilton to close the gap to the Ferrari, despite him being on the slower medium-compound tyre at the time. Vettel said after the race, he knew that Bottas would do that.
Bottas told Autosport “I was doing everything I could to keep Sebastian behind and make him lose time, that’s how it goes. That was my job and mission at that point. But the pace difference was too big and eventually he got past.”
“But I definitely helped the team today. I hope it made a bit of a difference and at least we managed as a team to grow the small points difference to Ferrari which is good.” The Fin retired from the race later on because of an engine failure.
But, hopes of a good result had already been dashed with damage on the opening lap of the race, following an first corner incident involving Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen.
Reflecting on the incident, Bottas felt there was nothing he could do to avoid the crash. He says “I was looking first to go left but there wasn’t quite enough space. I tried to go inside because there was a gap initially, but then Sebastian closed it so I was stuck behind him.”
“Going in to turn one I was trying to keep inside, obviously the guys on the outside always try to overtake you and it was unlucky that me and Kimi collided. It was just all a bit too tight and close, and a shame what happened to the guys after.”
Bottas says in racing that how it goes.
No change in policy for Mercedes
Mercedes say their driver policy will not change yet despite Lewis Hamilton breaking away from Valtteri Bottas in the drivers’ championship.
Hamilton is now only ten points behind Vettel in the championship, while Bottas is forty-one points behind Vettel. Bottas had first retirement of the season at the Spanish GP while the sister Mercedes won the race.
Despite the defect in points for Bottas, team boss Toto Wolff believes it too early to discount the Finn from the fight. Wolff told Sky Sports “At the moment he [Hamilton] is quite a large chunk ahead in terms of the Drivers’ Championship, but we are in race number five and there are 14 to go.”
“As a team, we have never made that call and we have never made it that early, so we are going to continue to work like we do.” Ferrari are also facing the same decision, but the team has clearly already made the decision to bac Vettel over Raikkonen.
Raikkonen has had a difficult start to the year, he hasn’t managed so far out-qualify or outrace team-mate Vettel this year, is 65 points behind the championship-leading Ferrari and seemingly already set to be cast into a support role.
Renault finances improve
Renault has posted improved financial results following their takeover of Lotus, reducing losses substantially and a rise in income. Having lost £57 Million in 2015, the team reduced that to £3.3 million last year.
The teams turnover rose from £78.4m to £119.7m a year-on-year increase of £41.3m, or 52.7%. The figures were impacted by “one-off transactions, and the rise in credit according to the team is because of “enhanced sponsorship and favourable exchange rates following the Brexit vote.”
Renault’s investment in rebuilding their Enstone base saw an increase of £12m on cost of sales, while fixed assets have increased by £11.8m. The company also notes that finance costs are down due to debt reorganisation.
Average staff levels rose from 475 in 2015 to 511 last year, adding £2m to the wage bill. That number has since moved towards 600.
The notes read that last season the on-track performance was “not expected to be ground-breaking” while stressing that for 2017 its official aim “is to finish fifth in the constructors’ championship.”
Classic cars and circuits in F1 2017
Classic cars are to return the game F1 2017 when the game is released during the Belgian Grand Prix weekend in August. Today, the developers revealed the first details of the new game.
F1 2017 will feature twelve classic cars, including the Williams FW14B and Ferrari F2002, while the McLaren MP4/4 from 1988 will be available in a ‘special edition’ version of the game or as a separate downloadable purchase.
The classic cars will be part of what has been described as an “even deeper career mode” and players have the chance to compete in additional invitational races in the famous machinery.
Game director at Codemasters Paul Jeal, told Autosport “We are delighted to be re-introducing classic F1 cars back to the series. Classics were incredibly well received when we included them in F1 2013, and in F1 2017 they are back and better than ever.”
“With so many great cars to choose from, it was hard to decide on the final 12, but we are delighted with our selection of some of the most successful and iconic fan favourites from the past 30 years.”
The game will also have “four alternative circuit layouts”, which creative director Lee Mather said was part of a push to increase the variety in the new 2017 version.
Codemasters has also promised “numerous multiplayer enhancements, and a brand new ‘championships’ game mode”, although details have not been revealed yet.