The state of the top three
Mercedes are heading into this weekends Singapore Grand Prix ready for a fierce battle with Red Bull, even though the team are not counting out Ferrari despite their belief that the Italian team will struggle.
Ferrari head to Singapore following back to back wins at the power-friendly Spa and Monza, expect to be better suited to the iconic street circuit – having won at similar low-speed, high-downforce tracks this season.
Red Bull heads to Singapore in a very strong position after challenging Hamilton at similar circuits in Monaco and Budapest, where Max Verstappen took pole.
Hamilton, who holds a sixty three-point lead in the championship heading into F1 2019’s final seven races, has had great battles with Verstappen, as well as Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, in recent months and is relishing more of the same.
The five times champion told Sky Sports, “I am not looking forward to the next race thinking it will swing our way. I hope that it is competitive between us – I want this battle to continue.”
Mercedes F1 CEO and team principal Toto Wolff says that Red Bull is Mercedes main threat, but Ferrari cannot be counted out despite the lack of pace at circuits without long straights.
He added “We knew that Spa and Monza would be difficult for us, On paper, we should be strong in Singapore – as should Red Bull be. Let’s see if we are really demolishing them there. But I have no doubt that Ferrari will have learned and will have a good package there, better than Hungary.”
Ferrari is going to Singapore well aware of the difficulties in Budapest, where they finished a minute off the pace. Charles Leclerc, who won the last two races, added “We need to stay realistic.”
“I think we expected that Spa and Monza would be very good races for our car but we also know that the next few races will be a lot more difficult for our car.” He added
Reality of dangers hits Hamilton hard
Lewis Hamilton says the realities of dealing with the dangers of the sport following the death of Anthoine Hubert at the Belgian Grand Prix was something that hit him in the ‘depths’ of his soul.
The sport has been rocked by the death of Hubert following a crash during a race at Spa, with Hamilton was one of many who took to social media at the time to express his feelings. While Hamilton has dealt with deaths before, with the death of Jules Bianchi, hero Ayrton Senna and kart race in 1994 when rival Daniel Spence died, he says such situations remain tough.
speaking to selected media Hamilton said, “That’s why I posted the things [on social media] because it’s not impossible, I’ve experienced that [before].”
“Obviously we had that in Japan, we had that experience, but then I had another 11-year-old die on the race weekend when I was racing as a kid. So I’d experienced it before. And for a driver, it really hits you hard.
“I don’t know how it was for the other drivers, but for me, ‘woah’, it hit me in the depths of my soul. It was really hard. For the rest of that day and then the evening, I couldn’t go to sleep, I just couldn’t believe what had happened that day.”
Hamilton reflected on what has been a difficult season, following the death of race director Charlie Whiting and three times champion and mentor in recent years Niki Lauda. He said “the world just goes on. It’s sad, I think, that that’s how life is.”
He said some may have not contemplated the fact that it’s a dangerous sport. Hamilton says every accident he has is a sudden reminder that the sport is dangerous and that days are numbered
Manuel Correa suffers complications
The family of Juan Manuel Correa who was seriously injured in the F2 crash which killed Anthoine Herbert, say he is improving. Hubert was pronounced dead several hours later, while Correa was sent to a Liege hospital for surgery on leg fractures and a minor spinal injury.
Correa was moved to a hospital in London last week but has had c complications had arisen and that Correa had fallen into a state of Acute Respiratory Failure, an injury considered common in high-impact incidents.
The family has released a further update on Correa’s condition. The statement said: “Our son, Juan Manuel, remains in the Intensive Care Unit at a hospital in London, England with my wife and I at his side.”
“We have good days and bad days as well as long nights and short nights but with the support of the motorsports community, our friends, family, country and fans, we continue to pray for Juan Manuel.”
“Juan Manuel remains in a state of induced coma with paralysis in order for his lungs to get as much rest as possible. Continuing to be assisted by an ECMO machine many of the key vital indicators have improved slightly while others have deteriorated very little.”
The statement added that an upwards trend in improvement is all they can ask for and that infections are under control and respiratory indicators remain stable and all vital signs continue to remain consistent and stable.
“We believe in our son’s strength and determination, we see the minor improvement as an indication of him starting to turn the tide in his favour, we just need him to do it a little quicker.”
Ferrari still has chances to win – Binotto
Ferrari’s team principal Mattia Binotto is adamant his team will still have more chances to win in the rest of the season, despite the last two tracks having clearly favoured his cars.
The Italian team used it engine advantage to win at Spa and their home race at Monza, with Charles Leclerc, claimed both wins, with the latter being Ferrari’s first Italian Grand Prix victory since 2010.
The Italian team had failed to win in 2019 until those two races despite glimpses of competitive pace, a combination of design problems and strategy decisions have cost Ferrari the chance to fight Mercedes and Red Bull for wins.
Binotto told ESPN, “We knew that these ones were tracks where we may have been competitive. It was not a given, but certainly being power sensitive and having long straights it was important for us.”
“It’s important for us not to miss any other opportunities as we missed in the first part of the season, and the fact that we capitalised on the strengths of our car in these two races makes us very happy.”
On circuits where a high-downforce setup is required, Ferrari has consistently struggled this year, whereas circuits that feature high-speed corners and long straights have been its forte. Singapore is expected to be a circuit where Ferrari will struggle against Mercedes and Red Bull.
However Binotto sees the upcoming slate of races as a good opportunity for Ferrari to focus on the weaker aspects of its current race package. He believes there will be a few good circuits for Ferrari, but wouldn’t say what ones.
He added, “It’s important for us to continue to develop the car, continue to understand it, try to have the best balance, and give our drivers the best opportunities whenever they come.”
Concerns over air quality in Singapore
Specific measures will be in place at the Singapore Grand Prix in response to health advisories from the national government over “unhealthy” air concerns.
Daily advisories have been issued by the National Environment Agency since the start of August, because of drier-than-normal weather conditions in Singapore and the surrounding region were forecast.
Nearby Southeast Asian islands have produced “hotspot activities with smoke plumes” that triggered the risk of transboundary haze, a form of air pollution that crosses territories.
Though the situation is not as severe as in 2015, when an air pollution crisis-affected multiple countries in the region, weekend advisories from the NEA warned of Pollution Standards Index readings of more than 100, which is “unhealthy”.
The NEA said gradual improvement has been made, but readings were still in the “low end of the unhealthy range”. It is hoped that this will progress further in the coming days, although PSI levels can change quickly hour-to-hour.
There is no threat to the race itself, however the entertainment schedule for the weekend, but organisers have acted in response to the ongoing haze concern.
In a statement, the organisers told Motorsport.com, a spokesperson for the Singapore GP confirmed that the PSI reading and latest health advisory will be on the event website, mobile app, big screens between on-track sessions and broadcast on the in-circuit radio system.
The relevant advisory will also be posted at entrances to the circuit.
Channel 4 keeps UK free to air rights
Channel 4 has signed a ‘multi-year deal’ to show live coverage of British Grand Prix and highlights of all races in the UK and Ireland, keeping the sport on free to air TV.
Channel 4 was unable to show live races except for the race at Silverstone after Sky signed an exclusive right to the championship in a deal that runs to 2024. However, Sky and Channel 4 struck a deal that allowed the British GP to continue being shown live, along with highlights for the other races.
It has now been announced that “a wider, multi-year content deal” has been reached between the two broadcasters. While the length of the deal is unknown, it suggests that a longer agreement has been reached.
Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon said: “Channel 4 has established itself as the go-to channel for free to air television coverage of Formula One and we’re thrilled that motorsport fans will be able to continue to enjoy the excitement of F1 through our highlights of all the races and live coverage of the British Grand Prix.”
Renault “awkward” McLaren fight
Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul says fighting customer team McLaren is an “awkward situation.” Drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg earned fourth and fifth places in the last race at Monza.
In the two races since the summer break, the team has made a net gain of twenty-five points on fourth-placed McLaren, leaving the current gap at eighteen points with seven races still to run. Abiteboul believes that Renault has the better overall package and will able to close the gap by making the most of weekends where it has an advantage over the Woking outfit.
Abiteboul told Motorsport.com, “It’s a bit of an awkward situation, but clearly McLaren’s resurrection is also due to a combination of a resurgence on the power unit side and on the chassis side.”
“I think they have a better chassis in certain conditions, we have a better car overall and a better chassis in the other conditions. That’s a fact, so I think it’s going to be about track characteristics and who is capable of seizing the opportunity offered by the track.”
He added that the target of fourth place in the constructors remains Renault’s target, which looks like an achievable target, and that’s what we are focussing on. He says that they need to keep working on the achievable target.
Russia tyre allocations
Pirelli has announced the drivers’ tyre allocations for next weekend’s Russian Grand Prix. For the race in the Sochi Olympic Park, it has nominated the C2 as the hard, C3 as the mediums and C4 as the soft tyres.
Both Mercedes have eight sets of softs, with Lewis Hamilton having four mediums and a hard, while teammate Valtteri Bottas has three mediums and two hards. Both the Ferrari’s and Red Bull’s have nine softs, three mediums and a hard.
Both Renault’s, Haas’s, Racing Point’s and Alfa Romeo’s have ten sets of the softs. With Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen having a medium and two softs, while the rest have two mediums and a hard.
Both McLaren’s have nine sets of the softs, and two of both the mediums and hards.
Both Toro Rosso’s and Williams’s have nine softs, with Daniil Kvyat and George Russell going for three mediums and a hard. There respective teammates Pierre Gasly and Robert Kubica have two of both the mediums and hards.