Mercedes taking McLaren as seriously as Ferrari and Red Bull
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that the team are taking the threat posed by McLaren “seriously” as well as the threat from Ferrari and Red Bull.
Last season, Ferrari emerged as Mercedes main rival as the team challenged the Silver Arrows for the championship for most of the season. Red Bull are tipped for a much stronger 2018, following there strong finish to last season, following the switch to Renault Wolff expects McLaren to be strong.
Wolff told Motorsport.com “This is the pinnacle of motor racing you need to respect every team and the top drivers. We are taking Ferrari, we are taking Red Bull, we are taking McLaren, we are taking Renault seriously.”
“I want to remain humble and expect competition from all of these teams and if we are able to align the dots like we have done in the last year then we will be winning race.” Last year, Ferrari’s performance in the first half of the season looked as if they could have fought Mercedes all season.
However, Ferrari’s season collapsed because of poor reliability and an accident in Asia, which allowed Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton to pull away and take his fourth world title.
Speaking about Ferrari’s season, Wolff said “How the car performed on track was exceptional and the step they made over the winter was probably the biggest step of all the teams.”
“I am happy that we kept it together. We have a record of 11 race victories versus the five of Ferrari and the stopwatch never lies.” But admitted they could have won more races last year, meaning Ferrari needs to be taken seriously.
Halo doesn’t hinder Bottas
Valtteri Bottas says that driving a full race distance in the simulator did not hinder him. Speaking to Motorsport.tv’s The Flying Lap that he did not notice the controversial new cockpit protection device once he had got used to it.
He told the programme “In the simulator, I’ve done a race simulation already with the halo, and I have to say during the race I never noticed it anymore.”
“Once you get used to it it’s there and you get used to it, I think that’s going to be the same for the spectators. Initially, it’s something new, it looks different – some people say it’s not nice at all.”
Renault may need three years to catch up
Nico Hulkenberg says he has accepted that his Renault team may need another two to three years to catch up with Mercedes. The team will launch their 2018 car, the R.S.18 on Tuesday their third car since the brought out Lotus.
Renault has set itself the target of challenging for the title at the end of the decade and has committed major investment into improving its Enstone base. Speaking to Autosport, Hulkenberg said, “It is a very time-consuming thing to get a team to the level that Red Bull and Mercedes are.”
“The investment they make now in building and modernising the factory, the benefit we will get only in two/three years’ time – not until everything is up and running and we understand it. There is always such a long lead up time. They have all been through the same.”
Hulkenberg pointed out it took Mercedes four years following the take over of Brawn to get to a place where they dominated the sport. He also says that the team need to adapt and you need people with new ideas.
When the team was owned by Genii Capital, the team suffered because of underinvestment. Speaking about the teams progress, Hulkenberg said “I don’t know if I would call it a radical shift, but you see with your bare eye that a lot of things are moving or being worked on constantly. It takes time to build it back up, even though we would like to make it in two weeks, it doesn’t happen.”
He added that it takes time to rebuild the team and that this season the team has a more competitive package overall.
Red Bull unveils the RB14
Red Bull has unveiled images of its 2018 car the RB14. On Monday, the team released a special temporary black and blue livery, with the team set to launch the car next Monday.
The car will be given a shakedown test this week at Silverstone; the car features the Halo which has become a talking point since the beginning of the year. The RB14 also features prominent branding of the team’s new title sponsor Aston Martin.
In a statement about the late launch, Red Bull said “The pattern of the last few years has been to launch ‘aggressively late’. This has allowed the design department the maximum amount of time to add goodness to the car.”
“Before the cut-off point at which the design is frozen and a launch car produced. It’s been not uncommon to have the car finished, fired up for the first time and shipped to Spain for the start of testing all on the same day.”
The team added that its preferable to finish the car early to solve any little problems with the car because of the limited amount of track time during pre-season testing.
Ricciardo shakes down the Red Bull
Daniel Ricciardo has given Red Bull’s 2018 car a shakedown during a filming day at Silverstone. Despite bad weather at the British track, Ricciardo was still able to help his team become the first to run a car this year.
As this was a filming day the team were limited to 100km, but that should be enough for the team to iron out niggles ahead of pre-season testing at Barcelona in Spain next week.
Williams expects “phenomenal” season from Stroll
Williams believed that Lance Stroll could have a “phenomenal” second season. The Canadian made his Formula One debut last season, despite a difficult start he managed to secure a podium at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Speaking about what he expects from Stroll this season, chief technical officer Paddy Lowe says he expects he will approach his second season completely differently. He told ESPN “He came in very young, 18 years old, a very new environment, new challenge.”
“It’s a huge amount of information to manage and use in the intense environment of Formula One racing. So I think at his second season he’ll be so much better off and a year older”
When asked if he thinks people expected too much from Stroll in his first season, Lowe said: “Yeah, I agree, and people do keep forgetting how young Lance is. I think we’ve got all the hope and the promise he can have a phenomenal second year and keep building a terrific career in Formula One.”
Lowe also pointed out that Stroll gained more positions on the opening lap than his rivals in 2017. He added that one of the less talked about things was Stroll’s first lap performances and he was really strong in that area all season.