Hamilton urges Mercedes to hit ground running
Lewis Hamilton has urged his Mercedes team to “hit the ground running” after the enforced break from competition. The six-times champion says that he is in regular contact with his team to ensure that the team is up to speed when racing resumes.
In an interview with his team’s website and released on YouTube, he said he hopes to come back better, but admits when practice begins in Austria that they are going to be rusty after four months out of the car. He says he will be interested to see how they are going into practice “rusty as hell”
Adding “So it will be really interesting to see how we hit the ground running. But I’ve been on the phone with my team, speaking to Bono [Peter Bonnington] and speaking to James [Vowles], and trying to discuss with them a plan.”
“I think we all need to make sure we arrive utilising all the tools we have like race simulations – I probably will get in the simulator, which I don’t always love – but utilising those tools to make sure that when we come to that first race, we hit the ground running and we’re ready as if we’ve not missed any of the races.”
Hamilton says that arriving in Austria is going to be a real challenge, but during the break that everyone should be striving to improve themselves. He believes that it’s not a time to waste time and his focus has been on improving himself.
Hamilton says he has been enjoying his own company during the break and has been keeping his mind occupied. Adding “Mentally it’s really about ultimately feeling good about yourself, it’s about finding a way to make sure you love yourself and be comfortable on your own. “
He says he has been taking time for himself and making sure he appreciates himself. Adding, “I have days when I wake up and feel groggy, I don’t feel motivated to work out, I feel, ‘Jeez, where are we going, should I continue racing?’ I think all these different things. The next hour it passes, and I think I love what I do, why would I ever consider not continuing?
Wolff proud that Austria is the season opener
Mercedes F1 CEO and team principal Toto Wolff says he is “very proud” his home country of Austria is set to host the first two rounds of the 2020 season.
The first ten races of the season have either been cancelled or rearranged for later in the year with a draft calendar being released last week. Austria will host two races, with the Red Bull Ring working with F1 and state and local authorities on procedures that will allow the race to happen, such as regular COVID-19 testing over the weekend.
Wolff said in a Mercedes video, “I’m pretty optimistic that we can start in Austria because Austria has been one of the best countries in keeping the virus numbers low and I think they will come up with a plan of how we can race.”
“I know the circuit extremely well because I did a thousand laps there as a racing driver and as an instructor. I lived in Spielberg, being a junior driver. It feels a little bit like a second home. I love Styria, and have many fond memories from the place.”
“Starting the season there makes me very proud, that Austria will be the season opener, and doing it on two consecutive weekends so that finally we get two races done.”
Wolff says that a special group has been established within the Mercedes team to help prepare for a full return to work. When the factory returns to F1 operations there will be a lot of changes, including moving desks and offices around because of social distancing.
He also says that that the team has learnt over the past two months they can do a lot from home and via video conferencing.
McLaren has “awesome” 2021 line up
McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown believes that the combination of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris in 2021 will be “awesome,” and he thinks the experienced Australian will help his younger partner to further raise his game.
The American believes Ricciardo is capable of winning a championship “immediately,” and has made it clear that he was always the first choice after Carlos Sainz indicated that he had an opportunity to move to Ferrari. Also confirmed that the team tried to sign him a couple of years ago.
Brown told Sky Sports, “We went after Daniel a couple of years ago and I think narrowly missed out. So we’ve been a fan of Daniel’s for some time. Obviously, he went to Renault, and then we brought on Carlos and Lando, who have done a fantastic job.”
“We were out of contract with Carlos, and he had some opportunities. We’re going to miss Carlos, he’s done a fantastic job, but now we’ve got a seven-time Grand Prix winner in the car and we couldn’t be more excited.” Brown says that the combination of Ricciardo and Norris, will be exciting and if they have the right car they could be capable of winning a championship immediately.
He added that Ricciardo represented an important step in the rebuilding process following major changes in the management of the team. Brown says McLaren are on the road to recovery, and the technical team lead by Andreas Seidl and James Key as well as the people behind the scenes, who ultimately contribute to a race team being successful.
Adding “We restructured the entire leadership team, that took some time, they are now all in place. Andreas really has the race team where he wants it.”
“Then, of course, you want to have two great drivers, which we currently have today, but to be able to have a seven-time winner, someone that you know is the absolute benchmark is great for the team.
Vettel still passionate about F1 – Binotto
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto believes Sebastian Vettel remains “passionate” about Formula One but does not know what the four-time world champion will do next when he leaves Ferrari at the end of 2020.
Speaking to Sky Sports Italy the Italian admitted that going for Sainz did represent a “gamble” for the team, given the new partnership with Charles Leclerc will give them their youngest line-up since 1968. But he is confident it is one worth taking to begin a “new cycle” as they bid to end their long wait for F1’s world titles.
Speaking about Vettel’s decision to leave the team at the end of the year after he said, “I think it was the right thing for him and for us. Only Seb knows what he will do in the future. He’s a great driver and he’ll make the right choice.”
“He spent six years at Ferrari and the team has a special place in his heart. We have a good relationship with him, which isn’t to be taken for granted when there’s a parting of ways.”
Vettel’s future remains unclear, with McLaren signing Daniel Ricciardo and both Red Bull and Mercedes unlikely to sign him. Binotto says that the German will have a few things to think about.
That ‘long-term project’ means Ferrari now have two of the grid’s most highly-rated youngsters signed up for the next few years. Sainz is 25 years old, with Leclerc three years younger. But, unless Leclerc wins the title this year, Ferrari will start 2021 without a world champion in their line-up for just the second time in the last quarter of a century.
But despite this Binotto says he has faith and is pleased with the direction they have taken, saying the world has changed and that they need to look at F1 in a different light.
Adding “Carlos Sainz is a young driver and Ferrari haven’t had such a young driver pairing in 50 years. It’s a gamble for us and we’re happy to be taking on this challenge. We want to begin a new cycle.”
“It’ll be a tough path, but putting faith in youngsters is also geared towards that, not just for the drivers, but also for the mechanics. Sainz is a very nice and intelligent guy.”
Singapore in “dialogue” over 2020 race
Organisers of the Singapore Grand Prix say they are in “an open dialogue” with the Formula One about the event’s place on the 2020 calendar.
The race isn’t currently on the revised calendar and its date 18 – 20 September has been filled by Baku. However, there has been no official announcement about a cancellation either from the promoter or from F1.
As a street circuit, Singapore is less flexible than traditional tracks, and work on building the circuit would typically have to start in late June to make the currently scheduled date. The race could still, in theory, go ahead in September or October, should Russia, Japan or China be cancelled.
However, a new date is unlikely, and team sources believe that Singapore won’t happen. Race organisers say discussions are continuing but made it clear that government regulations and the lead time to build-up the venue were key.
A spokesman told Motorsport.com, “The Formula 1 calendar for the 2020 season is currently being finalised and Singapore GP has been maintaining an open dialogue with Formula 1, the Singapore Government, and our stakeholders during this time, to assess different possibilities.”
“Singapore GP is also working closely with the Singapore Tourism Board and various government agencies on the circuit setup timeline.” However, they admitted that they would need three months to build the infrastructure, but are waiting for easing of restrictions to allow work to begin.
Standard issuing of tyres in opening races
Pirelli is planning to stop Formula One teams from making tyre selections for each Grand Prix and issue a standard allocation of compounds once the 2020 season begins.
The opening ten races of the season have either been cancelled or rearranged for later in the year because of coronavirus. The season is due, to begin with, double-headers in both Austria and the UK in July, while further dates for the rest of the calendar have emerged in recent days.
Pirelli has already been left with a stockpile of tyres after the opening races were called off but will have to quickly return to production once plans for the start of the season are confirmed.
Speaking exclusively to Motorsport.com, Pirelli F1 boss Mario Isola explained the possible changes that lay ahead. Saying “If we have the first part of the season in Europe and then we move to Asia, and America, in a very short period, it means that for production, it will be quite a busy period,” Isola said.
“We probably have to produce something in the region of roughly 35,000 tyres in probably a couple of months, not in one year. You can imagine the impact on production. That is quite big.” He also says that they are having discussions with teams and they are being flexible in the situation.
Normally Pirelli makes three of its five dry compounds available to teams for each Grand Prix, who are then allowed to pick thirteen sets, offering a chance for tactical differences between teams. Teams are required to give Pirelli fourteen weeks’ notice on tyre choices for flyaway races, and eight weeks for European rounds.
Isola says that he believes that despite issuing standard tyre allocations to teams, he doesn’t think that teams would be too concerned about losing this flexibility, noting that most strategies converged come the races.
Explaining that “We are not saying that each team has to return the same number of tyres or same type of tyres and so on. They will have the same allocation at the beginning of the event, but then they can end up with a different allocation for qualifying and the race. That is what happens today.”
However, the amendment to the regulations is needed by only a majority of the teams because they have wavier the super