Ferrari has nothing to fear – Vettel
Sebastian Vettel says that his Ferrari team has nothing to fear in the remaining six races this season, saying he is targeting victories in all of them so he can keep the title race in his hands.
Following the Singapore Grand Prix, the German is now forty points behind his title rival Lewis Hamilton. His third place in the race means he has to win the remaining races or hope that Mercedes runs into difficulties.
Vettel has only won five races this season, but his own mistakes since crashing out of his home race in Germany has cost him four potential victories in five races. Asked by ESPN, if he thought his team had let him down, Vettel denied that was the case and remained resolute that he could still be crowned champion at the end of the year.
Vettel said, “I don’t feel like that, we are team. Everything that we achieve, we achieve it together.”
“Obviously it’s not great when you come to the end of the championship and you are losing points instead of making up points, but we still have a lot of races left and some way to go.”
Next weekend F1 heads to Sochi, where Mercedes has won four out of four races. However, Vettel is confident his Ferrari will be competitive not just in Russia but at all the remaining rounds. Saying “Russia, I think, has been getting better the last years for us, so it should suit our car as well.”
“I don’t think we have any tracks to fear that are coming. I think our car is working pretty much everywhere and that’s a strength of our car, so no need to be afraid of what’s coming.”
Vettel says Singapore was not a disappointment, it was that Ferrari wasn’t as strong as they wanted to be in terms of race pace. But, believes they still could have been better.
Hamilton calls on Mercedes to bring forward upgrades
Lewis Hamilton has called on his Mercedes team to bring forward there developments which they planned for next year because he wants to “feel it on a race weekend.”
Despite expecting to struggle in Singapore last weekend, the Englishman dominated the race from pole position. While his title rival Sebastian Vettel only qualified and finished the race third. Mercedes F1 CEO Toto Wolff believes the upturn in results is because the team brought forward its Singapore upgrade to Monza.
Hamilton says he now wants to capitalise on the “energy” that the team currently has to look with the engineers to look at concepts, rather than risk losing the initiative over the winter. He told Autosport, “ I had this meeting with the guys, and if you can see this energy with everyone, it is really – I find it really inspiring.”
“We started off the year, I felt great, and then we tailed off and we had some struggles with the understanding of the car, how to utilise the equipment that we had tyre-wise and balance-wise, we had a couple of so-so races, and then luckily we found our footing.”
Hamilton believes that Mercedes are going from strength to strength, in the way they understand the car and utilise the tools. The Englishman says that they are far more comfortable with the car, and know what they need to do.
F1’s technical regulations will undergo substantial tweaks next year ahead of a more radical change for the 2021 season. Speaking about the tweaks, he said “I am pushing the guys because they have to sign off things now for next year’s tests already.”
Bottas admits dip in confidence
Valtteri Bottas has admitted his disappointing 2018 season has begun to take its toll on his confidence. Bottas took three grand prix wins, ten other podium finishes and four poles in his first campaign with Mercedes last year.
Bottas expected 2018 to be another step forward, following his late switch to Mercedes last year. But he hasn’t won a race since November last year, with just six podiums so far this year and is only fourth in the championship – 110 points behind teammate Lewis Hamilton, who has won seven times in 2018.
Asked by Motorsport.com what effect Hamilton’s current form was having on him, Bottas said “It is hard. It’s always going to be hard, trying to beat him. He’s having a good run now. He’s obviously really fighting for the championship and I’m not really anymore.
“I still want whatever is possible in the championship, I think third at least is possible so that’s going to be the goal for me. I’ll keep motivated and keep trying to bring good results. But I really feel like I need some good results now.”
He admits it has been a while since he has had a good result. Hamilton has now pulled out a 40-point championship lead over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, raising the possibility of the title being decided early.
Asked if that might shift Mercedes’ focus and help his chances of winning a race, Bottas acknowledged it could but said he could not afford to think that way. He said “The team also wants good results from me, but of course if he secures the title then it’s a little bit different. I need to try and keep hungry and motivated for each race.”
But says that the remaining races will be mentally different for him, but says he will continue to set targets for himself. Bottas added that he doesn’t want to be there to help.
Ricciardo already lifting Renault – Chester
Renault’s chassis technical director Nick Chester says that the team are already receiving a lift from the imminent arrival of Daniel Ricciardo is giving the team a lift.
The French manufacturer pulled off the biggest moves of the season when they convinced the Australian to leave Red Bull to join them for 2019. Since joining Red Bull four years ago, Ricciardo has established himself as one of the best drivers on the grid.
Renault has steady rebuild themselves back up following the buyout of Lotus in late 2015. They have set themselves the long-term target of challenging for championships, and Chester believes that Ricciardo shows how serious they are about this.
Asked by ESPN, why this was the right time to make such a big-name signing, he replied: “I think it’s always the right time if it makes you quicker. If that’s a better driver that’s great. It pushed the team on, it will help with development.”
“I think it is right. It also shows that commitment, it’s a big deal to show to everybody that Renault believe in us enough to get a top-line driver. So we need to go on and do the rest of it.”
He says that Ricciardo has also focused the mind and that everyone knows that with the right equipment he will deliver.
Verstappen believes Red Bull has the best car
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen believes that the team now has the best car in the sport, following its strong showing in last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix.
Although the Dutchman did not show the pace to fight with the Mercedes in the race, he had a stronger qualifying which allowed him to stay ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. While Red Bull is well aware of the power deficit it has to its rivals, Verstappen is now convinced that on the chassis front the team is ahead.
Speaking to the media during the opening of a new Jumbo Supermarket in Holland, he said “I think we have the best car in the field, as we found out in Singapore. Of course, we hope that next year with a new engine supplier it will continue in the right direction.”
“We already have the right people on board, but the whole package is not yet right. That will also be difficult next year, but I hope we will have a real chance the following year.” The Dutchman believes the team has the right people on board but admits that the next year will be tough and hopes that Honda’s ambition will drive the team forward.
Asked why he had trust in Honda, Verstappen said: “First of all because of the budget they have, which is many times bigger than that of our current engine supplier. Furthermore, they just go in the right direction, also in terms of test bench results. Moreover, they really, really want to win.”
Honda is expected to bring an engine upgrade for next weekend’s Russian Grand Prix, it is believed it could deliver a horsepower step that puts it ahead of Renault. However, the Japanese company has yet to confirm its plans.
Nicolas Todt to manage Kvyat
Nicolas Todt has become the new manager for the Ferrari reserve and former Red Bull / Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat. The Russian has been tipped to return to Toro Rosso next season, following the promotion of Pierre Gasly to Red Bull.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Todt said “I have managed Daniil’s racing career for the last few months. I’m very keen to help a talent like him, who in my opinion has unfinished business in F1.” Kvyat was sacked by Red Bull after the year’s United States Grand Prix and has spent this year as a simulator and test driver for Ferrari.
Although his return to Toro Rosso has yet to be confirmed, paddock sources have suggested that the deal has been done for some time and that he has already wound down his Ferrari duties in anticipation of the move.
Todt also manages the careers of Ferrari bound Charles Leclerc, former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa.
It is believed that Red Bull want Red Bull is understood to give the Russian another chance because the company believes that he has benefitted from being away from the camp.
Helmut Marko told Motorsport.com recently, “I would say he is more mature, but we are not in a hurry with Toro Rosso. We will solve our driver problems. We have a big list of names, and we’ll see.”
The Week Ahead
Formula One heads to Sochi next weekend and this race has been very controversial and remains so, given the wars in Ukraine and Syria plus the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in March, means this comes at a time when tensions are high between Moscow and the west.
Human and LGBTQ rights groups may this race to raise awareness of the situation in Russia. But we haven’t seen Liberty’s line when it comes to political issues, we know the Ecclestone line on Russia and LGBT rights.
Politics will take centre stage in the week after, so many of the bigger teams will push their ideas for the future this week. This is a pinch point in whether the teams blink or FIA over 2019 minor changes which need to be agreed now.
Driver announcements are still on the agenda, Sergey Sirotkin will, I think, stay at Williams and they would like to announce at his home race. Daniil Kvyat is expected to return to Toro Rosso, that is a surprise but Red Bull have no one to fill Pierre Gasly’s seat.
The title race is heating up, so expect the media to focus on Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. Both drivers have a chance, but Mercedes are I say in a stronger position as both Hamilton and Bottas have performed well in the past.