Bottas wants a two-year deal
Valtteri Bottas wants to avoid another one-year contract with Mercedes and firm his future up for “at least” the next two seasons. The Finn joined Mercedes at the beginning of 2017, replacing Nico Rosberg on a one-year deal.
Three wins last year saw Bottas earn a one year deal for 2018, that means that like his teammate Lewis Hamilton he needs it negotiate a new contract for 2019. Like his teammate, he said there was “no rush” and he had not begun proper talks with the team.
Bottas told Motorsport.com “I would like to stay with this team, hopefully for a long time. That is my target. As long as I keep performing like I’ve been performing this year so far, naturally it should be OK, all good.”
Bottas joked that if Mercedes only offers him another one-year deal then “we need to talk”, and reiterated he hopes to secure a multi-year agreement. “I always kind of had one-year deals, so I would naturally like to know at least for the next two years what I’m going to do,” he said.
The Finn says he was not interested in other teams to use as bargaining chips with Mercedes, believing that his performance is key.
There has been more harmony since Bottas joined Mercedes, with him saying that Hamilton is a complete driver, which is helping him become a more complete driver. Speaking about Baku, he said, “It was, for a single race, maybe the biggest disappointment.”
“Leading three laps before the end and then that gets taken out of you, it’s tough. Knowing how the championship table would have looked, it was hard, but I can’t change it
Boullier believes he still the right man for McLaren
McLaren racing director Eric Boullier still believes that he is still the right man to lead the team, despite the restructuring of the team and speculation over his future.
Though the British team is currently fourth in the constructors, they have not made the progress they had hoped for. McLaren hoped to be fighting with the top three teams this year, however, has only made it into Q3 once and the best result has been a fifth place.
The team has already officially parted company with Tim Goss, who made up part of the team’s technical chiefs, while there are rumours it has done the same with Matt Morris and Peter Prodromou.
Boullier, the team’s racing director, is confident in his ability to lead the team back to the front end of the grid. Asked by ESPN, if he still felt like the man who should lead McLaren’s revival, he said: “Yes, I think so. It’s hard work. There’s always a lot of expectation, obviously from McLaren and from a lot of people.”
“I think in my past life, I’ve been managing, rebuilding, restructuring a few teams, and I won with all of them, in any category I was. We need to make sure we can make it and deliver it on time.”
McLaren is hoping that the upgrade introduced in Barcelona will allow the team to be the best of the rest, however, Boullier says this is not an ultimatum or set any clear targets because everyone knows what McLaren should be striving for. “No orders are needed. We know what we need to do. We had to improve the reliability, we had to improve the performance,” said the Frenchman.
Adding “We have now some other teams using the same power units, so at least we have some references. This is what we are working on. It’s a long way to go.”
Stroll family has faith in Williams
The father of Lance Stroll Lawrence insists that the family still has faith in Williams, saying there are no plans to begin looking at other options for next year.
The British team has had a difficult start to the season, with Stroll’s eighth place in Baku the only time that the team has scored points and there are no signs of consistent form. Stroll Sr says he has not reached the stage where he would start to look for an alternative home for his son for future seasons.
He told Motorsport.com, “We’re not there yet. I believe in Williams, I believe in the team. Clearly, they got it wrong so far. I do believe this is a rude awakening.”
“Hopefully it will bring the best out of the people, and they’ll fix it. I’m sure not as quick as we’d like, and not as quick as they’d like either. But we’re not going anywhere else.” Stroll says it was clear from testing that the car wasn’t where they wanted it to be.
Its understood that the businessman has been pushing behind the scene for a closer relationship with engine supplier Mercedes, however, he played down the extent of his influence.
“I’m not a board member, I don’t own one share of this team, I’m simply Lance’s father. Whatever they can do to make the car go better, I’m in favour of, let’s put it that way.”
Grosjean can rectify poor form – Steiner
Haas team principal Guenther Steiner has no doubts that Romain Grosjean can end his current run of poor form. While the Frenchman has struggled so far this season, his teammate Kevin Magnussen has been one of the stand out performers this year.
In Baku, Grosjean crashed behind the safety car and spun out taking two cars out in Barcelona. The first lap crashed earned the French penalty points and a costly grid penalty for the Monaco Grand Prix.
Also probably cost him a strong points finish given Haas’ good pace. Grosjean has been very open about the fact he sought professional psychological help to overcome the struggles which plagued the early years of his career.
However, Steiner says his current rough patch will remedy itself. He told ESPN, “I think it eats on you, but sometimes a little bit of success puts it the other way,” Steiner said. “So at the moment he is for sure on a down but I spoke to him and he seems to have reacted OK.”
“It’s not how you get down, it’s how you get up. So if he has a Romain result, like he can have, everyone will have forgotten about the last nine races.” Steiner says he is not worried about it getting out of control as frustration grows.
asked if he was worried if the situation could spiral out of control if Grosjean’s frustration continues to grow, Steiner replied: “No. What we can do, we can support him and do what we can do. I think he will be fine.”
Steiner was angry with the penalty which will see Grosjean drop three places in Monaco describing it as “like kicking a guy in the face while he was already down on his knees.”
Todt defends aero changes
FIA president Jean Todt has defended the sports governing body against the criticism of changes to aerodynamic regulations aimed at improving overtaking next season.
The sport has been looking to reduce downforce levels by introducing simplified front wings, however, since that idea was suggested it been criticised as the sport only brought in the current rules last season.
Todt told Motorsport.com “We hear all the time from the drivers that the cars can’t get close to each other. I read the press conference transcripts, they all complain. And they’re [racing] in the front. Can you imagine what it’s like at the back?”
“I feel that if we understand that something is wrong we should try to find a solution. We all say we want to have a better sport.”
“On one side people say ‘let’s wait for 2021’ [when the 201k7 high-downforce rules were originally intended to be replaced], so we would go through 2018, ’19 and ’20 knowing that there’s a problem which is damaging the sport.”
Todt says in this case engineers have told us the problem was getting close because of the aero around the front of the car.
Before making the proposals, the FIA invited teams to use their in-house aerodynamic resources to research potential solutions, making this arguably the most evidence-based regulatory change in F1’s history.
Some drivers have been frustrated with not being involved in the conceptual process, especially those intended to generate more overtaking.
Row over Catalan anthem
The organisers of the Spanish Grand Prix have a response to the criticism by the countries motorsport federation over the playing of the Catalan anthem at the race last weekend.
Both Spanish and the Catalan anthems were played ahead of the start of the race on Sunday, with the Spanish and the Catalan flags also displayed on track during the ceremony. That has been done since the first race in 1990.
The Catalan issue has been high on the agenda since a referendum in October last year where 92% of voters backed independence from Spain. The vote has been unrecognised by the Spanish state, the FIA and the UN.
The Spanish federation’s president Manuel Avino said the body had been “surprised” by what it labelled as a change to the usual protocol.
Avino said the decision to play the anthem appeared to send a “political message” during a tense period following the Catalan government’s attempt to secede from Spain earlier this year. He added if the federation were informed of the plan, it would have blocked it.
“Obviously, being the Spanish Grand Prix, and since the regulations name the national anthem in singular, this cannot be other than the Spanish anthem – which is the only official Spanish anthem since 1970,” Avino said in a statement earlier this week.
“The playing of no other anthem is expected, therefore the presence on track of the Catalan flag, as well as the playing of the Catalan anthem, is out of place in this ceremony.”
In response, the organisers say that there was no change to the protocol and has been the same since 1991 but has been updated with the new opening ceremony in 2015.
Adding, “Avino witnessed [this new format] for the first time last season in his role as president of the Spanish motorsport federation, with both anthems playing and both flags displayed.”
The Week Ahead
The next week is one of the busiest race weeks for the drivers as they head to Monaco. This week there will be many fashion shows, the Cannes film festival and the annual football match on Tuesday night.
The drivers will be looking at the race itself, but they need to avoid becoming distracted by the other events off track. Also, this race is a big one where business like sponsorship deals, marketing opportunities and other things happen so this is a highlight of the year.
I think the media will be focusing on Charles Leclerc, even more so given his result in Barcelona, this is his first home race and he dominated last seasons Formula Two race. Leclerc will know if he can get a good qualifying he could score points.
I would also expect that we will hear muted words from Bernie Ecclestone who was outspoken about Liberty asking him to stay away. But, Monaco is a place where you imagine Ecclestone will attend.
Expect more fall out and reaction about the first lap drama in Barcelona, I believe Romain Grosjean will be asked about that. But Monaco is a place we see accidents, but Grosjean will want to avoid them.