Japanese GP cancelled due to Covid-19
The Japanese Grand Prix in October has been cancelled due to ongoing Covid-19 issues in the country. Following discussions between Liberty, the promoter and the government the decision was made to cancel the race for the second year in a row and abandoned the East Asian leg of the championship.
It is understood to have been planning for such a scenario and have options to keep the calendar at the planned twenty-three races. Already both the Singapore and Australian Grands Prix have already been cancelled, with a revised calendar expected in the next few weeks.
F1 said in a statement, “Formula 1 has proven this year, and in 2020, that we can adapt and find solutions to the ongoing uncertainties and is excited by the level of interest in locations to host Formula 1 events this year and beyond,” said the sport in a statement.
This will be a big blow for the circuit’s owners Honda as they fight Mercedes for the championship in their final season in F1, where it was expected Red Bull could have pushed for victory.
Koji Watanabe, Honda’s chief officer for brand and communication operations, added “At Honda, we are particularly disappointed, because this is the final year of our Formula 1 project and we know that so many fans were looking forward to attending the event.”
“The 2021 season is now heading for an exciting climax and we will be giving our all, fighting hard all the way to achieve our goal of winning the championships as this Honda Formula 1 project comes to an end.
The F1 season resumes next week after its summer break at the Belgian GP, the first event of a triple header which also includes the returning Dutch GP at Zandvoort and then the Italian GP at Monza.
Eleven of the planned record twenty-three races for 2021 have already taken place. Twelve more were originally scheduled to follow in the space of sixteen weeks up to and including the season finale in Abu Dhabi on 10 – 12 December.
The cancellations of Australia, Singapore and Japan mean only ten of the remaining events are currently confirmed, with doubts remaining over several more ‘flyaway’ rounds such as Mexico and Brazil.
One idea has been to turn Austin into a double header with the Texan Grand Prix replacing Mexico or Japan, or another venue in the US, as well as returning to the Outer Circuit in Bahrain.
Gasly “waiting to see what happens” with 2022
Pierre Gasly says he is waiting to “see what happens” with Red Bull as he hopes to get clarity on his future in Formula One over the summer break. The Frenchman made his debut with the team in 2017 before spending half a season at Red Bull, before being demoted to Alpha Tauri.
Gasly has since gone on to deliver strong performances over the last two years, including a surprise victory at Monza last year as well as three podiums. He also has appeared to carry the team by himself, scoring fifty points compared to his teammate Yuki Tsunoda’s eighteen.
Gasly’s improved form has been praised by Red Bull, although it is unlikely that he could return to the team despite the team not yet extended the contract of Sergio Perez. Asked by Motorsport.com, about his F1 future, Gasly admitted he is waiting to “see what happens” at Red Bull first and hopes he will get some answers before the 2021 season resumes in Belgium at the end of August.
He added, “I think it’s pretty clear on my end, it’s in Red Bull’s hands. Max is signed for next year in the top team, Sergio I think has a one-year contract, so we’ll see what happens there and then what we do going forward together.”
“I’m obviously contracted with them for some more time, and I’m pretty confident we should get some answers at some point during the summer break, or after the summer break.”
Alpha Tauri team principal Franz Tost has made it clear he wants to keep Gasly as the team’s leader alongside Tsunoda while giving the Frenchman more responsibility as team leader. Gasly said he relished the role of team leader but admitted a driver “always wants to be in the best car” whenever the opportunity presents itself.
He says that he believes the team wants him to push the team forward and that’s what they are discussing, but his focus remained on performing weekend after weekend to show his potential.
Saying that “It’s in their hands, whether they want me to step up or whether they are happy with the pair they are having, and depends on how Sergio is performing, and how they are planning the future of Alpha Tauri.”
Ferrari’s recovery “complete surprise” – Leclerc
Charles Leclerc says that Ferrari’s recovery from a disastrous 2020 season is not a “complete surprise.” The Italian manufacturer had one of the worst seasons in its history, finishing sixth in the constructors, the teams worst result since 1980.
Despite chassis development being restricted by the regulations this season, Ferrari has been one of the most improved teams, including nearly winning at Silverstone. The Monegasque driver says, having seen the work at the factory, Ferrari’s turnaround is not a big shock.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, about Ferrari’s season so far, he said, “Better than expected. I think there is a lot of work behind, and obviously, I can see it whenever I go in Maranello, here at the track. So it’s not a complete surprise.”
“Obviously there is a big gain compared to last year, which is great to see, and it shows we are doing something right in the way we work. But it’s not the end of the road, and we have as a target to be back on top. we are just not really focusing on expectations.”
Leclerc says the team are really focusing on expectations, with the focus being on the work to maximise everything so they can be back where they want to be as soon as possible.
The Monacan says the arrival of new teammate Carlos Sainz has been “great” for him, as the Spaniard has managed to push him from the start. But says as the team tries to build towards being on top of everything for next year, saying it is not an easy phase. Adding “It’s going very, very well. We are pushing each other, he’s very, very competitive, which is great for me.”
He says that the team are working very well as well as trying to use this moment to gain experience for next year, which he described as “a very important year.”
Alpine “blown away” by Alonso’s race craft
Alpine F1 executive director Marcin Budkowski says the team has been “blown away” by Fernando Alonso’s race craft across the first half of the season. The two-times champion made headlines after holding off Sir Lewis Hamilton in Budapest, allowing his teammate Esteban Ocon to take his maiden win.
The French manufacturer has been stunned at several races this season, by his race craft and his ability to read races from the cockpit, the double world champion often being aware of the full picture as much as his team on the pit wall. Budkowski told Motorsport.com, “I’ve worked with a number of drivers a bit more than 20 years in F1 and he is extremely impressive.”
“He’s impressive in his approach, which is very, very professional. The other thing that blows me away is his race craft. And I think we’ve seen it in the [Silverstone] sprint race, we’ve seen it in Baku, they were great opportunities to see that.”
“What Fernando did in Silverstone was effectively forming a DRS train behind him, because he wasn’t afraid of [Lance] Stroll but he was afraid of [Pierre] Gasly and therefore he eliminated any possible attack from Gasly by putting him in Stroll’s DRS.” Budkowski says that was mind blowing watching from the pit wall as he was driving at full speed.
He says the thing which impresses him the most about the Spaniard his ability to analyse the race without as much data as they have on the pit wall. Alonso claimed that his two decades of experience in F1 has only made him a better driver, suggesting he would now beat his 23-year-old self “with one hand”.
Budkowski has also noticed Alonso is still as hungry and ambitious as ever, and believes the Spaniard will remain in F1 for years to come if Alpine manages to give him a fast car.
Budkowski explained, “How long [he’ll go on], it’s a question for Fernando, [but] he doesn’t feel like an old man ready to retire. He’s hungry, he’s looking forward to next year. Every time he’s in a factory he’s asking how’s next year car coming along.