Hulkenberg glad to have “survived”
Renaults Nico Hulkenberg says he has pride that he has “survived” for a decade in Formula One despite the growing threat posed by drivers. In his eight seasons in the sport, the German is still yet to score a podium.
Hulkenberg also came close to driving for Ferrari, however, he is still yet to score a podium. He says moving to Renault is bringing him closer to the front as the team moves further towards the front. He also admits that there is a lot more he wants to achieve.
The German says he is satisfied with holding on to a seat in the sport for this long, despite the ever-growing pressures on drivers to bring financial support to their teams.
In an interview about his career with Autosport, Hulkenberg said “In a way that is an achievement. To still be here and have survived that, I think it does say something about me and the driver I am.”
“At the same time that sounds a bit shit also. And boring, you know? I want more. But we know that you need to have the right timing, you need to be in the right car in the right moment. That’s why I am here now. My career is not done.”
He says he has a very good team with the French manufacturer and that they share the same target and vision, which they are both fighting and working hard for.
Hulkenberg believes that the only time that his career was really under threat was when he was dropped by Williams at the end of his rookie season in 2010.
But was given a lifeline by Sauber before returning to Force India for three seasons and then joined Renault in 2017.
Asked if he ever felt vulnerable, Hulkenberg replied: “Maybe yes, in a way. I never had the help of money in the background – it could be the cherry on the top a little bit – whereas some others had that to offer.”
Wolff expects “extremely tight” second half
Mercedes CEO and team principal Toto Wolff said he is expecting an “extremely tight” second half of the season and insists that his team or Ferrari cannot be considered favourites for this weekends Belgian Grand Prix.
As the sport returns from its summer break, and with nine races to go, Lewis Hamilton leads the championship by twenty-four points over Sebastian Vettel, while Mercedes lead Ferrari by ten points.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Wolff said “Both the Drivers’ and the Constructors’ Championship are extremely tight and I expect it to be a close battle all the way through to Abu Dhabi.”
This year it has been a tight battle between Mercedes and Ferrari, and Wolff admits the world champions will return to the track “recharged” and “energised” after a huge swing in momentum before the summer break.
Going into the five races in six weeks, Vettel held a narrow lead in the drivers with Mercedes leading the constructors. After the mammoth number of races and after back to back wins in Germany and Hungary its now Hamilton who leads Vettel by twenty-four points.
Wolff is, however, wary of Ferrari’s recent surge shows that the team is clearly pushing and will put up a very tough fight. His says that the team needs to eliminate the weaknesses and build on their strengths.
Ferrari hasn’t won a race at Spa since 2008, over the last year they have pushed to close the gap to Mercedes. It is now believed that Ferrari holds a slight power advantage over Ferrari.
With that in mind, Wolff added, “It’s very difficult to make any predictions for Spa.”
WEC Alonso disqualified from six hours of Silverstone
Fernando Alonso and teammates Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima have been disqualified from the six hours of Silverstone. The Toyota threesome took a dominant win at the English circuit taking their third win of the season.
However, both Toyota’s where both disqualified by the FIA after failing scrutineering. The FIA ruled that the car had, “deflected 6 mm on the right-hand side and 8 mm on the left-hand side under the specified 2500 N load at the front of the skid block”. A similar infringement was found on the No.7 car.
A statement from the Japanese manufacturer said “Both cars suffered damage to their respective front floor areas during the race due to impacts against the new kerbs at Silverstone. Regrettably, this also caused both cars to fail deflection tests in post-race scrutineering. As a result, race stewards disqualified both cars.”
This means that privateer Rebellion racing has taken the victory, meaning Toyotas championship lead has been narrowed to just two points.
Perez close to Force India deal
Sergio Perez is close to extending his deal with Force India now that the teams future has been secured after being rescued from administration. The Mexican has been with the team for five years, but earlier this year he admitted his future with the outfit hinged on whether it would overcome its “critical” financial situation.
Now Perez has told the American network Fox Sports, that he is close to extending his Force India stay. He said “I think it’s a great opportunity to continue with the team. When you don’t have a chance at Ferrari or Mercedes, I think Force India is a very attractive option.”
“We are almost there [for 2019]. In fact, it’s just a matter of days or weeks. It’s just about clearing up the situation with the team. My contract doesn’t need signing. The renewal [option] is there and it’s just about seeing what position the team is in to continue.”
Perez played a key role in the rescue deal after he placed the team into administration forcing the sale of the team to a consortium led by fashion mogul Lawrence Stroll.
Stroll’s son Lance, who has been driving for Williams since 2017, is now widely expected to make the switch to Force India for next year.
“It was a very complicated situation, where I realised I was in a position I never expected as a driver and I had to act,” Perez recalled. “There were 400 jobs at risk. Fortunately, everything has been rescued and everything looks great.”
Class B damaging for F1
Sergio Perez believes the way that the sport forces drivers to fight for ‘fake’ class wins and titles is damaging the sport. Since the current engine regulations were introduced in 2014, only Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull have taken victory and locked out the top three in the constructors.
While the gap between the top three has decreased in the last three years, the gap between sixth and seventh place had increased. Perez’s Force India team has finished a distant fourth in the constructors, while the Mexican has Perez is one of the only drivers outside those teams to score a podium in the last three seasons.
He told Motorsport.com, “That is quite difficult. The difference in budget these days, going into a new generation of cars, is tremendous. You cannot compete. The last four or five years it was simply two categories in Formula 1.”
“I’ve never heard before, that people were talking about “yeah, I won the race”, when you are best of the rest, or ‘I’m leading the championship’ if you are best of the rest.”
Recently Kevin Magnussen said he had created a ‘Class B’ title in his mind because the midfield cannot fight for outright honours.
Since the beginning of the 2016 season, the grand prix podium has included a non-Mercedes/Ferrari/Red Bull driver just five times. Force India have three of those wins and this season, the Class B championship is being led by Hulkenberg.
F1’s next major change is scheduled for 2021, when sweeping resource restrictions and fairer funding distribution are supposed to be brought in alongside car and engine changes.
Grosjean denies joining Haas as a way to Ferrari
Romain Grosjean has denied that he joined Haas with the view of a potential future with Ferrari. Haas and Ferrari have a close relationship, with the American team buying in all the permitted parts allowed within the regulations.
That was one of the reasons Grosjean was attracted to the US team, there has a close partnership with Ferrari. There have also been suggestions that he may seek a drive with Ferrari, replacing Kimi Raikkonen.
But before Ferrari President Sergio Marchionne died, it was widely expected that Charles Leclerc would replace Raikkonen. While the chances for Grosjean to move up into a Ferrari seat have been dented by a difficult season, but he remains in the running for a fourth season with Haas.
Grosjean says He says he is committed to the Haas project for its own sake rather than seeing it as a potential stepping stone to a bigger team.
Asked by Autosport, whether Leclerc’s emergence had likely ended his prospects of moving to Ferrari, Grosjean said “I still want to try and be world champion. The one thing that nobody knows is 2021 [when new rules and commercial structure will be implemented] and I’m hoping there is going to be more chances [for more teams] to win races.”
“We’ll see what the future’s like. I am very happy to be part of it. Haas is the best midfield team now, that’s why everyone wants to come here – we are doing amazing and I never came here to go to Ferrari.”
Grosjean admitted he would never hide the fact that the dream would be to go to Ferrari.
Speaking about Leclerc, he said that the Monacan has “done amazing this season.” However, he warned that the a warned a driver’s second year in F1 can be much tougher than their rookie campaign thanks to raised expectations.
“I didn’t know much of him before F2 and obviously he has been really strong in F2 [and] he’s done amazing this season,” said Grosjean of Leclerc.
“To me, the second season is always harder than the first one – there is no expectation in the first one and then second season there is more expectation, especially if he ends up at Ferrari.”