F1 Today – 20/03/2019

F1 Today

Leclerc established a “good starting point”

Ferrari’s team principal Mattia Binotto says that Charles Leclerc has established a “good starting point” on his debut for the team and is already pushing the engineers hard.

Leclerc who joined the team this year from Sauber after a single season finished Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix fifth after the team denied him a chance to challenge Sebastian Vettel late in the race. Asked by Motorsport.com to appraise Leclerc’s first weekend for Ferrari, Binotto said: “I’m happy, I’m happy the way he’s behaving as a team player.”

“Not only as a driver, he’s very helpful for the team. He [is] very involved trying to do his best, pushing the engineers hard to try to do [get] even them to improve themselves and to have a better car. If we judge his entire weekend it’s a pretty strong one.”

Binotto says that his weekend was a good starting point and he was happy with the way he approached the weekend. It is expected that Leclerc would have been able to pass his new teammate for fourth and beaten him at the first attempt had Ferrari not chosen to adopt a zero-risk approach at the end of the grand prix.

Vettel reiterated his belief that Leclerc will “put a lot of pressure on me the whole season” when asked by Motorsport.com to consider Leclerc’s debut and his own first start for Ferrari back in 2015.

He says that his new teammate has done well so far, Vettel is himself expecting a lot of pressure from Leclerc for the rest of the season. Adding “He’s very talented, I want to meet his parents and congratulate them because by the looks of it they brought up a nice boy, and a fast driver too.”

Impossible to fill Whiting’s shoes – Wolff

Mercedes F1 CEO and team principal Toto Wolff believes that it will be “impossible” to replace F1 race director Charlie Whiting with a single person, following his death ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.

The former technical director turned referee passed away suddenly in his sleep on the Thursday before the F1 season opener, with the FIA putting in place emergency measures to get through the Melbourne weekend without him.

While motor racing’s governing body is now trying to finalise a plan for what it does in the longer term, Wolff says that F1’s chiefs are waking up to just how difficult it will be to cover off everything that Whiting did.

He told Motorsport.com, “I had a chat with Ross Brawn on the way to the [grid] photo and the minute of silence, and he said they just discovered how much Charlie was doing.”

“[This includes] trivialities like, are the cameras in dangerous positions. This is what Ross mentioned to me. A bunch of tasks, and I didn’t have any direction with the race director in the race.” Wolff says there will be tough decisions made, but its impossible to replace Charlie.

It is unclear whether F2/F3 race director Michael Masi will continue as acting F1 race director until a successor is appointed. Teams, Liberty Media and The FIA are set to begin talks to set out the

Construction begins in Hanoi

Construction work on the streets of the Vietnamese capital to build a street circuit began on Wednesday. Hanoi is set to become the fourth street circuit one the calendar when it joins next year, joining Monaco, Singapore and Azerbaijan.

It is the first new event to be added to the F1 calendar since Liberty Media completed its takeover at the start of 2017. The race organisers say the 3.4 mile circuit in the west of Hanoi should be completed by next March.

The circuit seven and a half miles from the centre, is set to run near the My Dinh National Stadium. Although primarily a street circuit, it will have purpose-built sections and a newly constructed pit and paddock complex.

The circuit is designed to have “a real desire to steer away from humdrum 90-degree road-junction type corners and foster a layout that facilitates wheel-to-wheel racing while retaining a closed-in street feel that makes city race tracks so demanding for drivers.”

Designed by Herman Tilke the circuit was designed in a similar way to the Circuit of The Americas as it has taken ideas from other circuits around the world. These include Monaco, Suzuka and Sepang, one of the stand out features is a mile long straight with a heavy breaking zone.

While the country does not have much of a motorsports tradition, sporting events or competitions in which the national team does even marginally well are widely watched and passionately celebrated.

Currently there are seventeen races contracted with five still negotiating new deals and with rumours of Zandvoort or Assen also joining next year it is possible that 2020 could be the longest season in the history of the sport as it enters its eighth decade.

 

Magnussen happy with very, very good start

Kevin Magnussen secured the first leader’s spot in Melbourne with sixth place in the race and helped Haas to finish ahead of the midfield teams. But as the weekend developed the Dane established himself ahead of teammate Romain Grosjean.

In Sunday’s race, Magnussen beat his teammate off the line to head their battle in the first part of the race, before a wheel nut failure on Grosjean’s car. In last years race, the same issue ruled out both Haas’s in Melbourne, forced the Frenchman to retire from what had looked set to be a strong points finish.

Unlike last year, Magnussen wasn’t affected driving the perfect race in Melbourne to finish sixth, comfortably leading the rest of the field. He said “It was good – happy about today. Obviously sad for the team not to get both cars [in the points] because surely Romain would have been in a good position as well.”

“[He] did a great qualifying yesterday and really gutted for them that they didn’t get anything out of it today, unfortunately. But P6 for me is very, very good and really happy about today. I did a good start and just had a really good car from there.”

Magnussen says that he was able to push throughout the whole race and look after his tyres and was happy that his season began like that.

Asked if his car had felt as good during the race as it had done throughout qualifying, Magnussen replied: “Maybe even better. I think in the race, I could just push and push and push and as the fuel comes out, you can just push more and more and more. It’s a good feeling. The car was very, very good today.”

 

No regrets despite Williams struggles – Kubica

Robert Kubica says that he has no regrets about returning to Formula One despite his Williams team struggling for competitiveness. The Polish driver took part in first race since 2010 but has endured a tough start to the year, with its new FW42 having been finished last and having the slowest car on the grid.

Although Kubica admits that he wants to be more than a backmarker, he says that his return to the sport after life-changing injuries,  personal satisfaction and the fun he gets from driving outweigh the negatives of his current situation.

Asked by Motorsport.com if he had had any regrets, Kubica said: “No – because in the end, I took the decision after thinking for more than six weeks last year. I knew it would be an extremely difficult challenge for me to be back in such a competitive sport and being on the grid.”

“I knew it might be difficult for Williams. But I didn’t expect to come to Australia so unprepared. [That’s] not from a physical point of view but from a lack of driving. For me, before testing, Barcelona would be the most important days of the last eight years as a driver, although not as a person when I was half in hospital and couldn’t walk!.”

Kubica says there haven’t been more important days in his racing career than in Barcelona. But he admits that it wasn’t the start to the season he wanted, he says that Melbourne felt like a great achievement.

Kubica accepts that he will never be able to silence the questions marks that surround him after the arm injury he suffered in a rally crash in 2011.

However, he is clear that he came back to F1 because he would never have forgiven himself if he had turned down the chance to take an easy life.

Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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