Hamilton only understood influence of champion at Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton says he has only understood the key influence that world champion can have in pushing their teams forward since arriving at Mercedes.
Hamilton has just matched Schumacher’s tally of seven world titles, and now also holds the records for the most victories and the most pole positions in F1 history. His latest championship win has failed to silence those who believe he is only winning because he is in the best care.
Hamilton says that even he did not fully comprehend just how big a role drivers must play in car development before he joined his current team as Schumacher’s replacement. The Englishman who replaced Schumacher at Mercedes in 2013, says he can see the role his fellow seven-time champion played, which he says it is something those outside the sport do not appreciate.
He told Motorsport.com, “In terms of helping develop the car, that’s something that I think that drivers, and as I’m approaching where Michael was, I never fully understood. It’s difficult for someone starting in F1, for young drivers, it’s hard for them to fully understand what it is that Michael did, what I am doing in this team.
“They’ll just see that we have a good car, just see that Michael had a good car, but now I’m here I understand what Michael did with the team, or perhaps what he might have done with this team. I’m sure it’s similar to what I’ve had to do.”
While he has equalled Schumacher that hasn’t silenced those who suggest he only wins because he has the best car. The Englishman says he didn’t fully comprehend the big impact the German played, and the impact was something not appreciated by those outside the sport.
In a wide-ranging interview reflecting on his 2020 championship, Hamilton said that this season felt like a step above his previous campaign. He says that this season feels the most rounded he has been at this high level.
Hamilton says that the pandemic allowed him to focus on areas of weakness like qualifying, which has also helped him to improve in racing which was a surprise for him.
But Hamilton still thinks there is room for further improvement in the future, as he reckons the easiest thing is simply to let his standards drop.
Saying, “For any athlete that is at the top of their game, you could always say it is going to be hard to raise the bar. The easiest thing is to let it slip. But it is not like I am new to this.”
“zero tolerance” for qualifying resuming under yellow flags
Sebastian Vettel says he has “zero tolerance” for a mistake made by FIA race director Michael Masi during qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix, which saw the second session get underway while a recovery crane was still in one of the run-off areas.
The crane was still recovering the Williams of Nicholas Latifi from the gravel at Turn Eight, after he went off at the end of Q1. In normal conditions, a session would not start until the track was clear, however a mix up in communication between the Clerk of the Course and race control saw the session start before the circuit was ready.
Double yellow flags were waved at the scene to warn drivers to slow down, but Vettel said such an oversight should not be possible in modern Formula One.
Vettel told ESPN, “I think we are all human, mistakes happen, but this mistake has zero-tolerance. So I think we’re all well aware and I hope and am very confident it will not happen in the future again. But we will for sure talk about this and disclose the reasons why.”
The incident was alarming for many, given it similarly to the fatal accident for Jules Bianchi at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, which left the French driver with severe head injuries that led to his death nine months later.
Bianchi was left with fatal head injuries after crashing into a recovery crane, after losing control of his Marussia in wet conditions.
Charles Leclerc, who is the godson of Bianchi, said it was shocking to see a similar oversight happen again in Turkey.
He said, “Well, for the crane obviously I think we have all been a bit shocked to see that.”
Adding “We will probably speak together at the next briefing to try and avoid this type of situation. No need to say what happened in the past with these sort of situations, I think it shouldn’t happen and we’ll make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”
It was the second mistake in two races, at Imola drivers were allowed to unlap themselves from behind the Safety Car while marshals were still clearing up debris from the track. That resulted in drivers unlapping themselves when marshals were on track.
Masi said both incidents are being investigated and said lessons would be learned. Saying, “From an FIA perspective we review every incident that takes place, whether it be minor, major, in between or otherwise at any point in time in a session or outside of a session and continually learn from everything that takes place,”
“From that end, we will continue to learn and it’s no different to a team learning from different elements over a weekend and in between.” He said that with the recovery crane he had been given assurances that it would be well and truly clear.
Ferrari can join the battle for third – Seidl
McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl cautiously believes that Ferrari could join them in the battle for third in the constructor’s championship. Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc finished third and fourth in the rain-affected Istanbul race.
That result of twenty-seven points between them, by far the biggest single-race score for the Maranello outfit this year. With three races to go, there are less than twenty-five points between Racing Point, McLaren, Ferrari and Renault in the battle for third.
A poor qualifying for McLaren in Istanbul left the team to finish behind Ferrari in the race but limited the damage with Carlos Sainz finished fifth and Lando Norris eighth. Seidl acknowledged that the battle is hotting up.
when asked by Motorsport.com about the contest for third, Seidl said, “It was obviously great for us to score this result because it kept us in the fight for the constructors’ championship.
“Which is good, but we definitely do not have I would say the third or fourth quickest car at the moment in this battle. What we’ve seen also from Ferrari, one more good result and suddenly it’s a fight between four teams for this P3, P4, P5, P6.”
Seidl says he is not worried about Ferrari closing in, but says he was not a surprise that they have come back this season. He says that McLaren has a competitive car which shows they have made a step forwards, but is warry that Ferrari are able to come back.
Seidl stressed that McLaren has to concentrate on getting everything right in the coming races. Saying “It’s important now on our side to focus on ourselves. To see that we can still extract more performance out of the car, especially on Saturdays also. It’s important to keep the level of reliability up.”
Renault “underdogs” in battle for third
Daniel Ricciardo says he is not disheartened that Renault is now the underdog in the fight with McLaren and Racing Point for third in the constructor’s championship.
The Australian has played a key role in the three-way fight for third in the constructor’s championship, behind both Mercedes and Red Bull. While there was just a point between the three teams ahead of last weekends race in Istanbul, a strong weekend for Racing Point and a disappointing outing for Renault means there is now an eighteen point gap between them.
Ricciardo admits the situation is not ideal, but they still remain an opportunity for Renault to fight back. He told Motorsport.com, “For sure now we’re the underdog, but it’s still doable, and there’s still three races. If there was only one race left, or even two, I’d certainly be a bit more pessimistic. But we can still do it.”
“It’s obviously a shame that there was a big swing [in Turkey]. It does sting, we can’t deny that. But with three races to go, I think we still have a chance to pull it off. And although the races will probably be dry, they’ll still be a bit going on.”
Ricciardo’s teammate Esteban Ocon is also optimistic the team can fight for third in the constructors. The Frenchman added, “There are still three races to go, a lot of points available on the table. Where we are, it can turn very quickly from one way to another. So, you know, I have no doubt that we’ll be again in the fight in Bahrain and in Abu Dhabi as well.”
Ocon thinks the warmer temperatures expected in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, compared to recent races, will be a boost to his team. He believes that the team performs well where the heat is strong
F1 targeting twenty-four races
Outgoing Formula One CEO Chase Carey says the sport is targeting a calendar of twenty-four races “in the next few years,” with some events rotating. Earlier this month a daft 2021 calendar listed twenty-three races with the calendar adding one new race from the original 2020 calendar.
There has been a common feeling between drivers, teams and the media of how tough an expanded calendar will be for mechanics and other travelling crew members.
However, Carey says that the long term plan is to extend the schedule even further, with the new or revived races added this year on the list of possible candidates.
Carey told investors in a virtual meeting, “Looking beyond 2021, we continue to feel great about the excitement from locations around the world in hosting F1. Many locations we raced at this year expressed great interest in new races and other countries have stronger than ever interest.
“We expect to move to a 24-race calendar in the next few years, and will probably rotate a few races so we will be able to accommodate a few new partners. But they will be limited as long-term partnerships continue to be our priority.”
Carey says despite the challenges this year caused by the pandemic the sport will be operating close to normal next year. He also says that relationships with promoters have been strengthened, with a close to normal experience planned for 2021.
He says the sport has proven it can travel safely and operate in a way which it can manage the virus.
Carey, who hands his job to Stefano Domenicali in January, believes that the sport will be in a healthy state in the coming years. Saying, “We have successfully weathered the challenges of the virus in 2020. We are planning for a world that begins to move forward in 2021, and have been clear with all our partners as it relates to those expectations.”
He says that the regulation changes in 2022 will help to create a healthier business model to broaden the appeal of the sport.
Jacques appointed as Channel 4’s commentator
Channel 4 has appointed Alex Jacques as lead commentator from next season, replacing Ben Edwards. Edwards announced ahead of the Turkish Grand Prix that he would stand down from the role of free to air commentator after nine seasons.
Jacques is currently the lead commentator for F1TV as well as Formula Two, Formula Three and Formula One eSports, as well as being a relief commentator for BBC Sport, which produces F1 radio coverage.
He began his sports broadcasting career with BBC Radio Suffolk, before moving on to The Times. At weekends, he continued to cover sports events for BBC radio stations and agencies.
In 2015 he became the FOM world-feed commentator for GP2 and GP3 (becoming F2 and F3) and in 2018, moved up to cover F1TV.
Speaking about his appointment, Jacques said: “I’m delighted to join the Channel 4/Whisper F1 team. As an avid Formula 1 fan since the age of nine, I know how much the broadcast means for everyone’s weekend.”
“It will be hugely exciting to share races with so many fans and join a team which commands such respect in F1 and TV circles alike. I can’t wait to get started in 2021.”
Jacques will commentate alongside former F1 race winner David Coulthard, who has been a part of C4’s coverage since the off. Coulthard co-owns Whisper with former co-presenter Jake Humphrey, which will continue to produce the coverage for C4.
It hasn’t been confirmed whether they will also commentate on W Series, ahead of the cancelled 2020 season it was announced they would commentate together from this year. W Series will support a number Grands Prix next year.
Three new Coronavirus cases
Formula One has announced three new cases of Coronavirus in the week to Friday 20th November a decrease of five compared to last week. 746 tests were carried out in the last week, it brings the total number of cases since June to 73 with 60,000 tests being carried out.
The Week Ahead
Next week F1 heads to Bahrain for the first of the flyway races, with the championship now settled the focus shifts towards Lewis Hamilton’s future. However, reading what’s being said I believe we won’t get an announcement this side of Christmas with a triple header. But its certain he is remaining with Mercedes unless he decides to retire.
The news agenda I think at this time of year normally shifts towards drivers and teams reflecting on the season, but don’t forget we still have three races to go. Alex Albon’s future is likely to remain subject to speculation, but we know Red Bull have said its Albon’s seat to lose.
We are slowly beginning to shift towards 2021, and that’s going to be the focus now. We still need to remember the battle for third in the constructors with McLaren, Renault and Racing Point. This is hugely important and that development war is likely to continue.