Ferrari formally requests Canada penalty review
Ferrari has formally called for the steward’s decision which cost Sebastian Vettel victory in the Canadian Grand Prix. Teams are allowed a ‘right of review’ if they present the stewards with ‘significant and relevant’ new evidence which was unavailable at the time of the ruling.
The Italian team has not reviled what its substantive new evidence is, only confirming that they have launched the appeal process with the FIA, the sports governing body.
Under the terms of the International Sporting Code, ‘the stewards shall have the sole discretion to determine if a significant and relevant new element exists’ ahead of any full review hearing.
Vettel was awarded a five-second penalty after the stewards decided he had re-joined the circuit unsafely and forced Lewis Hamilton off the track, after running wide on lap 48. The German took the chequered flag first but was relegated to second behind the Mercedes driver once his penalty was applied.
Vettel immediately raged against the decision on team radio, with his anger prompting extraordinary post-race scenes, while team boss Mattia Binotto later made clear: “There was no intention in what [Vettel] did at all. He was still ahead and tried to keep his position on track, as simple as that.”
“The crowd have their opinion today and not only the crowd, whoever you may ask. We are really disappointed what happened and there have been very similar situations in the past as well that have not been judged as today.”
Although time penalties cannot be directly appealed Ferrari has gone to the overriding International Sporting Code which governs all FIA championships to make their case against the stewards’ Montreal decision.
Article 14 of the Code allows for a ‘right of review’ if the affected party can present stewards with fresh evidence which was not available at the time of the judgement.
The question now faced by the same stewards is whether the teams’ new evidence is “a significant and relevant new element exists.”
It adds “The decision of the stewards as to whether or not such an element exists is not subject to appeal before the national court of appeal or the International Court of Appeal.”
Ferrari have “small evolutions” for Le Castellet
Ferrari will have “a few small evolutions” on their car at the French Grand Prix as they look to win their first race of the season. However, the team says the additions will be key in defining their development direction, they also “won’t be the solution to our problems”.
The team head into the first doubleheader of summer following being stripped of victory in controversial circumstances in Montreal, handing Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton take another victory, a decision the team continue to challenge.
But the Italian outfit says they are ready to take the fight to the Silver Arrows again this weekend. Team principal Mattia Binotto told Sky Sports, “Following Canada, we definitely want to get back on track and go racing with our rivals once again.”
“In France, we will have a few small evolutions, elements that represent for us a useful step in defining the direction we will take in developing the car.”
“What we will be bringing won’t be the solution to our problems, but the technical feedback we get from these evolutions will be important for the next steps we take.” The circuit near Le Castellet should offer Ferrari a chance to get closer to Mercedes, but they could struggle in twister parts.
Team principal Mattia Binotto admitted that the circuit was tricky for them, last year and was not favourable to the car. However, added “nothing is impossible so we will be ready to do our best.”
But Vettel, who clashed with Valtteri Bottas at Turn One in France last season, was more positive about his team’s chances. Added “The circuit has long straights and low-speed corners, although there is a wider range of corner speeds there. Most of the corners have been resurfaced since last year.”
Mercedes operating in “sweet-spot” – Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton believes he is operating in the same “sweet spot” he found midway through last season, as he and his Mercedes team continue their best start to a season in their history.
The five-times champion has taken five wins in seven races and has finished second in the other two races continuing his run of nine podiums in nine races going back to last years Brazilian Grand Prix. He has also won thirteen of the last eighteen races, putting him only fourteen wins behind Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of ninety-one victories.
He told Sky Sports, “Last year I hit that sweet point at some point during the season and started being really, really consistent and that just happens to have not really left.”
“The races have been really strong, the same as last year, and I’ve not really dropped the ball in that sense, I’ve not dropped off. Last year qualifying at the end of the year was very strong.” Hamilton believes that lifestyle and health changes are paying off.
He says that the team is doing a good job, regardless whether they are the quickest on the track they can deliver. The Englishman hopes that the team continues to deliver that for the rest of the season.
While Mercedes was second on the track in Montreal, it was clear that Ferrari had the upper hand on pace. However on paper and based on last years race, this weekends race at Paul Ricard should be another race which favours Mercedes.
But, the world champion says their rivals’ current advantage keeps them on their toes. Hamilton added “You see how quick the Ferraris are. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.”
“They are quicker than us in the straights and they have another level of engine mode they can go to – particularly in qualifying, but also the race.”
Spark plug caused Stroll’s Canada retirement
Mercedes says that Lance Stroll’s spectacular power unit blow up at the Canadian Grand Prix was caused by a spark plug failure, which they have taken steps to avoid a repeat.
All six Mercedes powered cars took an upgraded power unit for Montreal, including a new V6, turbo and MGU-H. Stroll’s Racing Point suffered a failure early in FP3, inevitably leading to some concerns about the remaining examples.
However, there were no further issues over the course of the weekend. Mercedes is satisfied that they have traced the cause and has taken steps to address it for this weekend.
A Spokesman told Motorsport.com, “The origin was a spark plug failure that caused a cascade of other problems, resulting in the engine failure. We will have countermeasures in place for this weekend.”
Sparkplug failures are uncommon, but in the opening race of the hybrid era in 2014, Lewis Hamilton was forced to retire, Mercedes say they are unconnected.
Stroll had to switch back to his original Phase 1 engine for qualifying and the race in Montreal, which still had mileage on it, but which inevitably cost him some performance.
Although a spare Phase 2 was available on site, it was not allocated to any of the three teams, and in the short gap before qualifying it would have taken too long to customise its systems for use by Racing Point.
McLaren says new structure will show in 2020
McLaren believes the true benefits of the changes to the team over the last year will only be shown by the 2020 car, despite the progress they have shown this season.
The British team has bounced back from a difficult few seasons the team has bounced back to lead the midfield in the constructor’s championship, two points ahead of Renault. Over the last year, McLaren has carried out an overhaul of its technical operations, this included the arrival of new team boss Andreas Seidl and technical director James Key.
Seidel told Motorsport.com, “This year’s car, which is a good step forward compared to last year’s car, has been started late after all the issues that were there last year with the team.”
“I think the full extent of all the changes that have been initiated already inside the team last year we will only see next year because it is actually the first car that is in the normal rhythm of the development.”
“We see some strong or weak points on the car straight away and that is the first time actually where you start thinking what can we still develop or improve for this year’s car, or are there things around that we will tackle for the year after?”
With the team’s engine manufacturer Renault, returning to form it could have a fight for fourth on its hands, but Seidl does sense some growing momentum inside the team.
Alonso, Nakajima & Buemi crowned WEC champions
Fernando Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi secured the world endurance championship following back to back wins at the Le Mans 24 hours.
The former F1 and Toyota drivers were on course to take the overall WEC crown with second place into the penultimate hour of the prestigious Le Mans race. However, sister car driven by Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez, suffered a puncher.
For the Spaniard, it is his first world title since his last F1 title in 2006. Alonso said, “It is amazing to win Le Mans for the second time but the win came really unexpectedly. We did not have the pace to win this race against car #7 on track. Today luck was a big factor and this is part of motorsport.”
The drivers lead the sister car home by seventeen seconds in LMP1 class, as Toyota claimed their second successive one-two at Le Mans. Russian entry SMP Racing finished third, with former McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne part of their line-up.
Buemi has also now been crowned a two times WEC champion.
In the LMP2 class, Paul Di Resta was fourth and ninth overall as part of the lead United Autosports entry.
Schumacher’s 2002 Austrian car for auction
The car which Michael Schumacher took the most controversial victories in Formula One will go up for auction at this year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The 2002 Austrian Grand Prix remains ingrained on the sport because Ferrari ordered Rubens Barrichello to hand victory to Michael Schumacher just before the finish line. The victory was Schumacher’s fifth in a dominant championship.
Team orders were banned later that season after Schumacher cruised to a dominant fifth world title.
It will be sold at the end of the season in Abu Dhabi along with other items. Proceeds from the sale of the F2002 will be donated to Michael Schumacher’s Keep Fighting, Never Give Up Foundation, a charity established by Schumacher’s family after he suffered severe head injuries in a skiing accident in 2013.
RM Sotheby’s will host the auction in Formula One’s Paddock Club hospitality and the cars will be paraded down the start-finish straight and in the pit lane ahead of the auction.
Auctioneer Oliver Camelin said “The Michael Schumacher F2002, chassis No. 219, is truly special; it represents one of the last Rory Byrne-designed, V10-era cars and was like a guided missile in acquiring wins on route to a championship won with sheer racing dominance.”
Tyre choices for Austria
Pirelli has announced the drivers’ tyre allocation for next weekends Austrian Grand Prix. For the race at the Red Bull Ring, it has nominated the C2 as the hard, C3 as the mediums and C2 as the soft.
Mercedes, Renault, Haas, Alfa Romeo, Toro Rosso and Williams have chosen nine sets of softs for all their drivers. With Lewis Hamilton, Kevin Magnussen and George Russell going for two sets of both the mediums and softs. Respective teammates Valtteri Bottas, Romain Grosjean, Kimi Raikkonen and Robert Kubica as well as Daniel Ricciardo and teammate Nico Hulkenberg, have three mediums and a hard.
Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen and Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat have three mediums and a hard. Respective teammates Antoino Giovinazzi and Alex Albon have two of both the mediums and hards.
Ferrari has seven softs, Sebastian Vettel has four mediums and two hards, teammate Charles Leclerc has five mediums and a hard. Red Bull has one hard for both drivers, Max Verstehen has eight softs and four mediums teammate Pierre Gasly has nine softs and three mediums
McLaren has chosen the same allocation both drivers with eight softs, three mediums and two hards. Both Racing Points have seven softs, four mediums and two hards.