Mercedes did struggle with understanding Spa engine
Mercedes says it didn’t fully understand the engine upgrade it introduced for the second half of the season. One of the defining moments in this years title battle was how the team responded to Ferrari’s dominant win at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Hamilton dominated the race at Monza after he got past both Ferrari’s on the opening lap, before going on to victory. The engine upgrade also allowed him to lead in Singapore, Sochi and Suzuka which ultimately led to the Englishman sealing his fifth title.
Speaking about what happened at Spa, Wolff said “We brought an upgrade to the power unit in Spa that we didn’t quite understand yet. It was a work in progress in how to deploy the energy in the right way.”
“Also in Spa, we were a bit unfortunate because they [Ferrari] had much strong straight line speed, and we were not competitive in the single most important corner on the track [La Source], where you take all the speed for the straight. So we were unlucky there.”
He added that for Monza the engineers understood the calibration of the engine after what happened at La Source. Wolff stays that the race hugely contributed to the performance gains as well as developments from earlier in the spring.
Wolff says that Ferrari might have suffered a mental set back after the first corner set back and that Sebastian Vettel may have won the race or finished second at Monza if there wasn’t the first lap contact.
Wolff added that having to overcome more “bad moments” than in previous years made Mercedes’ fifth consecutive F1 title more rewarding.
Saying ”It feels that we had to fight more for it, that we had to overcome bad moments more often than we had to do in 2017, and the team held together. It’s why the relief winning those two championships this year was much more satisfying than last year.”
Mercedes mindfulness key to success
Mercedes F1 CEO and team principal Toto Wolff says focus on “mindfulness” which has been key to maintaining the team’s dominance in Formula One.
The German manufacture sealed its fifth back to back drivers and constructors championship. If the team successfully defends the title next season it would equal Ferrari’s record of six, which it won between 1999 and 2004.
Despite Mercedes dominating the early years of the hybrid era, since last year Ferrari has put up a tough fight but has ultimately failed to secure the title. Mercedes has meanwhile constantly delivered a car which has been able to close out the championship.
Wolff told ESPN, “I don’t think complacency was ever a factor within our team, because the group is very motivated and we set objectives together that we are passionate about. It is more about how can you maintain those levels of energy.”
“Sometimes a level of energy can become unhealthy and that is an area that we are putting a lot of effort into in order to be able to continuously perform at these levels.”
However, he said the team were looking at mindfulness to give the staff a better working environment. Wolff says this includes, nutrition, medical care and sport, he also says the team has a policy of sending people home if they weren’t in a good frame of mind.
Despite the recent run of success, Wolff says there is plenty of room for improvement in 2019. Saying “We are trying to really act not like a group of 5-year-olds who play football where everybody runs behind the ball, we are trying to let the ball run.”
Wolff says that the team are naturally asking themselves where they can improve.
Alonso’s input very valuable for 2019
Fernando Alonso’s input on next years McLaren car will be “very valuable” according to both Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz. The two times champion has left the sport with his former team deciding on a new line up for 2019.
The teams CEO Zak Brown has made it clear that Alonso was willing to drive next years McLaren, and Norris hinted he would be willing to give up some running to have Alonso sample the car. Speaking to Autosport, the Englishman said, “I think [his input] will be very valuable.”
“He’s got the best idea how the car’s changed over the years, the best experience of what’s good and what’s bad, a lot more than I do. I don’t know what’s going to happen if he’s still going to be part of much. He’s still part of McLaren. It’s up to him.”
Norris admitted he would like as many days in the car as possible, but says that he will give track time up for Alonso if it were a team decision. He believes that Alonso’s “ feedback will be just as important as mine or Carlos’s, then I think it’s a good thing.”
Sainz agreed McLaren could benefit from Alonso testing the 2019 design. Saying “It’s something that for sure is in McLaren’s interests, or also Fernando’s interests to keep himself active. It’s a decision more up to the management than to our self.”
While McLaren’s sixth place was a clear improvement on 2017, the team ended the season with the slowest car of all. Brown freely admitted it was “an extremely poor race car”.
McLaren underwent major operational changes in 2018, but Norris conceded “no one knows” whether improvements will come as soon as next year.
Brown says the team are confident that they are making the right changes for next year.
New details on Schumacher’s condition
Michael Schumacher is “not bedridden or surviving on tubes”, according to reports in newspapers across Europe. The seven times champion suffered serious head injuries in a skiing accident around Christmas 2013.
His family has said that he is receiving medical care at home and not at a specialised hospital in a Swiss chateau. The German magazine Bravo as reporting Schumacher is to be moved to a clinic in Dallas, Texas, that specialises in treating brain injuries.
Mark Weeks, the director, told the magazine: “We have a lot of experience with patients who are suffering this kind of trauma. There is probably no clinic in Europe that treats as many cases as we do.”
He said although Schumacher’s face has “become a little fuller” the record-breaking driver still looks the same as he did when last seen by his millions of fans.
Earlier this year the families spokeswoman Sabine Kehm had said that the German had planned to disappear from public life.
Meanwhile, the Prefecture of the Papal Household Georg Gänswein has told how he paid an emotional visit to see the Schumacher in 2016 as he recovered from his horror skiing accident three years earlier.
Gänswein, told the German newspaper Bild “I sat opposite him, took hold of both hands and looked at him. He senses that loving people are around him, caring for him and, thank God, keeping the overly curious public away. Of course, I include Michael Schumacher and his family in my prayers.”
One of the people with inside knowledge of the situation is FIA president and Ferrari’s former team principal Jean Todt, he said “I love Michael. I see his family. I wish the situation would be different.
When people ask me what is my best memory, it’d say Suzuka in 2000. Michael is world champion after 21 years. I remember saying to Michael, ‘On a professional level, things will be different for us.”
Leclerc admits he was intimidated by F1
Charles Leclerc has admitted that he found Formula One “intimidating” at first ass he got used to dealing with more people than he was used to before.
The Monegasque driver impressed enough during his rookie campaign for Sauber to earn a seat at Ferrari for 2019, he has confessed to finding the step up to F1 tough, to begin with. He says that at the start of the season he was intimated because there were so many people to talk to.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Leclerc said “Everything you are going to say is going to be analysed, not only by your engineer, but by so many people. So obviously it’s quite, not scary, but intimidating as I said. But then you get used to it.”
“Also the type of feedback you give, you can be a lot more precise with everything you say because there are a lot more people in the background.” He says that in F1 the analysis you give is more detailed, whereas in F2 you need precise and that there are more people helping you with the car.
Leclerc says that the other thing you need to get used to was the length of the race, he was thinking around lap twenty there was a few laps to go before reminding himself that there was forty or more to go.
He added “Most of all it comes from just getting used to this paddock, to the things that we need to do around driving that I didn’t expect at the beginning of the year. All these things are small details but it makes quite a big difference.”
“And also just the way you work with so many people. I’ve learned to work with quite a lot more people. Before you are used to speaking only to your engineer and that’s it.”
Haas’s Ferrari links causes “friction”
Racing Point CEO and team principal Otmar Szafnauer says that the closeness between Ferrari and Haas is causing “friction” with its rivals. In the latest tit for tat row between the two teams this year, Haas complained that RPFI was not a constructor as it had acquired a car from the defunct Force India.
Racing Point successfully protested Haas’s floor at Monza getting the team excluded from the race. Haas was also subject to calls for FIA checks at the beginning of 2018 and its technical partnership with Ferrari has been repeatedly questioned since its arrival in 2016.
Asked by Motorsport.com about the source of Haas tension, Szafnauer said: “Well, I think when you design, make and build your own cars, and there’s one team that isn’t doing it, and is getting a lot of technology from a top team, you’re going to get that friction.”
“I think that’s what it’s really about. It’s not about the competitiveness. That’s the root cause of the friction.” Szafnauer said that it was odd that two designers working independently of each other could come up with the same design was questionable.
FIA race director Charlie Whiting has said F1 needs to look “very carefully” at the potential for ‘servant’ outfits and stated the concerns began with Haas.
Szafnauer says that the protest was “good and bad”, as they would have rather not have protested but wanted to clarify the situation.
Racing Point to launch in Montreal
Racing Point will launch its 2019 car in Montreal on Wednesday 13th February. The Canadian owned and British based team were brought in August by a consortium of investors led by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll.
Following the 2018 season, it was announced that his son Lance would join the team from Williams for the 2019 season.