We cannot fix weakness this season – Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton says that his Mercedes team will not be able to fix the current weakness of the car until next season. Though Mercedes took the win in the Singapore Grand Prix, the team has struggled this season on high-downforce, low-speed F1 circuits such as Marina Bay.
Though Mercedes struggled in Qualifying, the team was handed victory after three of the four cars ahead of them crashed at the start of the race. Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas said before the race the team had been working on a solution resolve the issues, but Hamilton says the car’s flaws are too fundamental to be fixed before the end of the season.
Hamilton told Autosport “I think this weekend really shows the strengths and weaknesses of our car and the characteristics. In the dry conditions we were nowhere, so to come to probably our weakest circuit, perhaps second or first to Monaco, and win is obviously a great result.”
“We’ve got to stay on our toes and keep trying to extract everything out of this car. We understand what we can do, potentially for the future, to make it better. It won’t happen with this car; potentially for the next one.”
With Hamilton now twenty-eight points clear in the championship and the remaining seeming as if they will swing towards Mercedes, the British driver is expecting a close battle until the end of the season. Adding “Malaysia, I think we should be OK,” he added.
“Then we have Japan, high downforce circuit, could be close – [the] Red Bulls are very, very strong at that circuit, it won’t definitely be our strongest circuit.”
“Austin, I think we’ll be fine. I think Brazil would be a place where these guys will be particularly strong. Ferrari will be particularly strong.”
Renault wants to be “key” in driver market
Four times world champion and advisor to Renault Alain Prost says the team wants to be in the “key market” for drivers in 2019. Next season, the French manufacturer has signed Carlos Sainz on a deal from Red Bull replacing Jolyon Palmer.
But while the top three teams have retained their current lineups for 2018, all the teams have at least one seat free. With key names like Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez all being out of contract at the end of next season.
Renault is currently seventh in the constructor’s championship, with Prost saying they want to improve next season to attract leading drivers. The Frenchman told Sky Sports “The driver market is important and we are in position for the end of 2018 when it is a little bit open for discussion.”
“At the end of 2018 there are a lot of drivers without contracts. We want to be better as a team, next year we will prove we are better than we are now and we want to be in the key market.” Sainz’s move to Renault was part of this McLaren – Renault, Toro Rosso – Honda deal which was signed on Friday.
The move was a coup for Renault and Prost said Renault are relishing the challenge of beating their new partners. Speaking about the deal, Prost said “It’s a good achievement that we have an agreement with McLaren. It was a long process, not only about having a new partner but the Renault strategy for the long-term. We wanted everything in our hands.”
Meanwhile, it is understood that Renault has served notice on Red Bull that they will cease to supply them from the end of next season. While team bosses Christian Horner and Cyril Abiteboul remained coy on the issue, merely calling it “speculation.”
John Nicholson dies aged seventy-five
John Nicholson who made one Grand Prix start but won two championships as an engine builder has died aged seventy-five. The new Zealander was best known for founding Nicholson-McLaren engines, a premier suppliers of Cosworth DFVs.
The engine powered both Emerson Fittipaldi in 1974 and James Hunt in 1976 to their championships.
His reputation as an engine builder saw him join McLaren, where he worked on a CanAm and Formula Five Thousand.
He then went on to set up his own business under the name Nicholson-McLaren. After he established himself as a manufacturer, he returned to Lyncar.
Using his own engine he won back to back Formula Atlantic titles in 1973 and 1974. That 1974 season, saw the debut of the Lyncar 006.
He was a non-classified finisher at the Race of Champions in March, and in April finished a respectable sixth at the International Trophy. He then attempted to qualify for the British Grand Prix, but failed to qualify after a crash in practice.
He did the same program the following season. However this time he qualified and started at the British GP at Silverstone.
He then sold the team and returned to Formula Two and then Formula Atlantic, before winding down his motor racing career.
However in 1977, he returned to powerboat racing, having decided that it fit his schedule better.
The F1 team dropped out of F1 the following season.
“Popper disaster” for McLaren
McLaren’s time supplied by Honda has been a “popper disaster” for the team’s credibility as a top team, says the teams racing director Eric Boullier.
The team returned to Honda in 2015 with the aim of recreating the success they both had during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. However, the partnership has not brought success, with McLaren set to finish in the bottom half of the constructors championship for the third consecutive season.
In an interview with F1.com, Boullier admitted that the team needed to change engine supplier in order to restore its credibility and start attracting sponsors once again. “When you look at the last three years it’s been a proper disaster for us in terms of credibility and getting new sponsors” Boullier said.
“And then you have to take the long-term view: in the next five years I am absolutely sure that we will go back to where McLaren belongs. And with this bouncing back we get our credibility back and it will rebuild our sponsor portfolio. It might take two to three years.”
Boullier says that he believes that if the team had a top engine they could be fourth in the championship.
The Frenchman revealed the team had been debating the future of its partnership with Honda already in pre-season testing when it was clear that the Japanese engine had failed to deliver the performance expected.
At that point discussions with other manufacturers started, then by the summer, the “very hard” decision was made to part with Honda.
Best chance of a win gone – Verstappen
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen is fearing that the teams best chance of taking another Grand Prix victory this season has gone, after crashing out of the Singapore Grand Prix.
The Dutchman and his team-mate had a great qualifying with them both being second and third on the grid. Red Bull had looked in a very good postion through-out the weekend and looked in a position to challenge Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the race.
However, Verstappen’s, Vettel’s and Kimi Raikkonen’s race came to an end in a first corner collision. While Daniel Ricciardo suffered a gearbox problem in the race leaving him unable to properly threaten race winner Lewis Hamilton.
Asked by Autosport, about the form Red Bull expects in the remaining races, Verstappen said it would not be as strong as Singapore. Pushed on whether Abu Dhabi would be a race where Red Bull could win, he said “No, there are too many straights there. This was, of course, our best chance to get a good result – and that didn’t happen.”
“But the whole year things haven’t gone my way. So maybe it needs to happen a couple of more times and then maybe you have a couple of years where everything goes really well for you.” Verstappen’s retirement was his third on the opening lap this season.
He says that there is no point venting “unnecessary” frustration in the knowledge that a number of his retirements this season have been out of his control.
Saying “That’s the way I’ve been brought up. I wasn’t allowed to do this and I’ve never done this: especially in a situation where you can’t do anything about it yourself, then it’s also completely unnecessary.”
Perez pleas for donations following Mexico Earthquake
Sergio Perez has made a three million peso (£124,500) donation to the victims of Tuesday’s earthquake in Mexico. More than 200 people have died after a magnitude 7.1 quake hit the country.
Thirty, mainly children were killed after school collapsed in Coapo distric of Mexico City with almost half the victims being killed in the capital. Perez has made a plea for donations on Instagram “I’m deeply concerned for what my country is living. It’s time to be united.”
“I’ve made an alliance with @fund_carlosslim and for each $1 that @fundacionchecoperez receives, they will donate $5. I’d like to kick off this initiative by donating 3 million pesos. Please join us!”
Meanwhile spokesperson for next month Mexican Grand Prix has confirmed that the circuit has suffered no structural damage, following the quake.
“There is no damage to the circuit, it has been completely overhauled. As soon as all the people can return to work we will continue with the assembly tasks for the Grand Prix.” Said the spokesperson.
While Lewis Hamilton tweeted “A country very close to my heart. I’m praying for all those affected in Mexico ?”