F1 Today – 22/03/2021

F1 Today

Hamilton reflects and looks ahead as ‘game changer’

Over the last year, Sir Lewis Hamilton has become F1’s moral compass while going for his seventh world title. Ahead of his attempt to surpass the record and become the first driver to win eight world titles as well as being the first driver to surpass a century of wins.

Hamilton, who has been a vocal supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement as well as F1’s powerful and leading voice for increasing diversity, wouldn’t just like to be remembered for his record-breaking exploits on the track.

In an interview with Sky Sports due to air this weekend, when asked how he wanted to be remembered in history, he said “Gamechanger, or voice for equality. Something like that.”

Over the weekend Hamilton posted pictures of the latest meeting of the Hamilton Commission, saying “There is so much work happening in the background, to help tackle some serious issues that prevent young Black people getting through into STEM careers. Days like today excite, inspire and motivate me to keep pushing.”

In his first sit down interview of the year recorded last week and due to air on Sunday, Hamilton discusses his knighthood, his twin goals for 2021, F1’s anti-racism efforts so far and much more. But the central storyline of 2021 will remain going for his eighth world title and a century of race wins, as well as extending records he already holds.

Throughout recent seasons, two numbers have stuck out as targets for Hamilton, ninety-one, and seven. Already, Hamilton is one of the best drivers statistically not only in F1 history but the whole history of Grand Prix racing, having surpassed Michael Schumacher’s win record and equalled his seven titles.

This leaves the question of what else there is to accomplish. The one-year contract with Mercedes and should he surpass Schumacher this year, as well as his other projects and next year’s regulation change, has prompted speculation that he could retire at the end of 2021.

Speaking about an eighth title, he said “It’s the ultimate dream.”

The saga about his contract was the storyline over the winter, which wasn’t helped by Sir Lewis and Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff catching Coronavirus, although he has proved so often that he is undeterred by outside noise.

Another story set to take centre stage this season is set to be the battle with Max Verstappen. Red Bull finished 2020 strongly and following testing where they looked to have designed their best car since their last title eight years ago, with the RB16B the pick of the bunch at a very impressive pre-season testing.

Hamilton added, “Having seen them win the last race [in 2020], you can only assume they’re going to be right there, if not at the front, of the first race [of 2021].”

 

“Sensational” test for Tsunoda – Marko

Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has described Alpha Tauri rookie Yuki Tsunoda following pre-season testing in Bahrain, calling his performance “sensational”. The Japanese driver will make his debut in Bahrain this weekend after finishing third in F2 last season.

After completing private tests for AlphaTauri in old F1 machinery, Tsunoda enjoyed his first extended run in the team’s 2021 car in Bahrain last week. The Japanese driver finished second on the timesheet when drivers fastest times were put together across the test, just nine hundredths behind Max Verstappen.

Although Marko was impressed by Alpha Tauri’s performance through the test and the car it has produced, he was particularly complimentary about Tsunoda’s performance. Marko said in an interview with RTL, “Our Yuki Tsunoda is twenty years old, and has only been in this car for one-and-a-half days, but he has delivered a sensational performance.”

“Of course you can’t do that without a car. But I guess AlphaTauri will be near the front midfield, which is very close. There is Renault, there is Ferrari, also Aston Martin. I think McLaren is a notch ahead. We expect there to be a tough battle there. Depending on the track, one or the other will be in front. But again, Tsunoda was sensational.”

The Austrian has overseen Tsunoda’s jump from F4 to F1 over the last three years. Tsunoda felt the fashion in which he quickly adapted to each junior series will leave him in good shape for his debut in F1 this year as he bids to get up to speed.

He said, “Two years ago, for first time I came to Europe, in Formula Three, and most of the tracks I was on for the first time. There was only one free practice, and you were straight in qualifying. You have to perform well in qualifying to get a good points in every race.”

Tsunoda says at the beginning of his time in F3 he struggled to adapt to tracks which was useful when he started racing in F2.

 

Teams look to increase 2022 testing

Formula One teams are in favour of increasing the number of days testing next year because of the regulation changes. This year’s pre-season test was compressed into three days last weekend in Bahrain, due to limited changes and to save cost in terms of travelling between Barcelona and Sakhir.

But the complete overhaul in F1’s technical regulations for 2022 means that teams are keen to extend the number of days available for testing.

Alpha Tauri team principal Franz Tost was positive about F1’s decision to test in Bahrain, citing the more clement weather as ideal, but also added that the teams will need more test days to get on top of next year’s cars.

Tost told Motorsport.com, “I always was positive to test in Bahrain or in Abu Dhabi, and I think [on the Friday] in the morning and [the Saturday] morning, we had reasonably good conditions, but [Friday] in the afternoon, it was quite bad.”

“Barcelona is quite difficult during this time of the year. It can be wet, it can be cold. When we normally would have had the test, one day it was wet, it was around 14 degrees, these are not test conditions which are optimal for Formula 1.” He says he believes that three days of testing won’t be enough.

He says the teams need to sit together and decide on how many days, weighing up costs of extra testing as well as the regulation changes.

Aston Martin CEO Otmar Szafnauer agreed with Tost, suggesting that choosing the right venue as well as the right length of time was crucial for testing 2022’s cars adequately.

He added that 2021’s three test days were “appropriate” for the continuation of last year’s cars, in which teams were allowed to make limited updates to the structural parts of the chassis via a token system.

Szafnauer explained the right venue, as well as the right length of time, was crucial for testing 2022’s cars adequately. Saying three test days were “appropriate” for the continuation of last year’s cars, in which teams were allowed to make limited updates to the structural parts of the chassis via a token system.

Adding “we’re going to have an entirely new car next year and that should go into considering where and for how long we test next year. I think three days was appropriate for this year with what happened in 2020, the pandemic, and reducing the amount of development in the car.

 

Marquess of Bute dies aged sixty-two

The former teammate of three times champion Ayrton Senna when he made his debut in 1984 and 1988 Le Mans winner Johnny Dumfries, the seventh Marquess of Bute, has died aged sixty-two following a short illness.

Officially named John Crichton-Stuart, but known to friends as Johnny Bute, he took on the surname he became known by to race fans worldwide in order to keep his background as low profile as possible.

A statement said he was an “indomitable spirit and energy which Johnny brought to his life will be greatly missed, and the immense warmth and love with which he embraced his family.”

“His heart was firmly rooted on the Island of Bute where he spent much of his time. Johnny chaired the Board of Mount Stuart Trust from its active inauguration in 2005 when Mount Stuart and its gardens opened to the public, and its rural estate was vested into the charitable trust.”

“He was a moderniser and an inspirational thinker, transitioning a family home to a progressive, working visitor facility and estate.”

Dumfries made his name in FF1600 driving a Ray, having raised funds working as a painter and decorator, and as a van driver for the Williams team. He then went on to win the British F3 title in 1984 and then had a frustrating F3000 season in 1985, before being partnered with Senna in 1986.

He struggled in the Brazilian’s shadow, scoring points only twice, with a fifth in Hungary and sixth in Australia. He was dropped at the end of the year, and it would prove to be his only F1 season, although later he tested for Benetton.

He moved to sportscar racing in 1987, initially with Richard Lloyd’s Porsche team, before winning Le Mans with TWR Jaguar the following year.

His racing career came to an end following the death of the sixth marquess in 1993 when he took over the running of the family estate on the Isle of Bute in Scotland.

 

Spa 2019 in Gasly’s own words

Pierre Gasly has written an article for Players Tribune about the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix and the death of close friend, Anthoine Hurbert. The French driver says there was a lot he wanted to say about that weekend which changed his life forever, saying “the day my old life ended, and a new one began.”

Going into that weekend the Frenchman had been replaced by Red Bull and swapped seats with Alex Albon. He says he had arrived back in the garage after the round of interviews to watch the first few laps of the Formula Two race, saying “I always make sure to keep an eye on one of my best friends, Anthoine Hubert.”

Watching the start and on the second lap the images cut to a mess of debris at the top of Eau Rouge, seeing those image he said “I knew right away it was bad. I just knew. There were car parts all over, and I knew that on that part of the track, those cars would have been going over 250 kmh. If something goes wrong at that speed, it goes very wrong.”

He says that his first thought was this was bad and whoever was involved would be out for the rest of 2019, but then seeing the red flag he then tough the driver was seriously hurt. But “In my heart, though, I could feel something was deeply wrong — my body just knew.”

“So, I asked our team manager to let me know as soon as he heard who’d been involved. As our debrief began, I tried to focus on gear ratios, braking points and strategy, but my mind couldn’t process any of the information.”

“I just wasn’t there. That’s when our manager cut in. O.K., it looks like it was Hubert and Correa who were involved in the crash. We don’t know anything else right now.” Gasly described Hurbert as the quickest kid in France, the two had grown up together through the junior formulae since 2005.

They went to school together leaving home aged thirteen to a school run by the French national governing body, base at Le Mans. He says that was a big commitment but “Basically my whole life, all I ever wanted to be was a Formula 1 driver. I knew that that was what I wanted to do. And I’m an all-in type of guy. You need to know that about me. I either do something 100% or I don’t do it at all.”

Gasly also says that Hurbert’s strict self-discipline was there from an early age, which taught him self discipline, and together after spending most of our time together. We’d push each other to be better.

The two were the only two boys who wouldn’t go home on the weekend, but their peers would go home. But the acceptance that French boys just don’t make it. And it seemed like everyone around the sport just had to remind us at every step that we weren’t going to get there.

“Their doubt and our belief bonded us. We both knew what sort of sacrifices we had made, that our families had made, to get us to where we were. If I’m being completely honest, I think, deep down, Anthoine and I both thought we weren’t going to make it. The odds truly were not in our favour.”

At Spa, Gasly believes that he was beginning a new chapter and felt he was “on my upward trajectory and eventually become world champion. But being put back in the middle of the pack at Toro Rosso, I felt like I was evolving out of the old Pierre”

 

Read the full article by Gasly

 

Marques ‘terrified’ of dying from Coronavirus

Former Minardi driver Tarso Marques says he was terrified that he was going to die after a serious case of coronavirus, which he is now recovering. Speaking to the Portuguese Caras magazine, Marques reviled he had 85% of his lungs compromised and was rushed to intensive care in hospital.

He said, “I thought it was all right – I was always very healthy, I had good nutrition, I did physical activity. I thought that nothing would happen to me. What I really cared about was my parents.”

“Two hours after this new diagnosis, I was already short of breath. Another hour and I couldn’t breathe anymore. Now, speaking in this interview, I still only have 30% of my lung capacity.

“The first three, four days in the hospital were like terror. You are practically dead there. It destroys you. I got so much medicine – every three hours a tray with an injection, corticosteroids [anti-inflammatory steroids]. I spent nine days without sleep, I used oxygen at the limit.”

Marques says “one thing after another – stomach pain, there is an allergy out of nowhere in my legs, I am still full of spots, I was sobbing for two whole days, I had a hellish headache. The virus is attacking every place.”

 

Alfa Romeo biggest surprise in testing – Russell

George Russell believes that Alfa Romeo was the biggest surprise in pre-season testing, following the teams difficult 2020. Last season, both Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi struggled to make an impression in the midfield partly because of the settlement between Ferrari and the FIA over the 2019 engine.

In Bahrain last week, Alfa Romeo showed signs of a step forward with Raikkonen ending the final day fourth fastest. The team are still expected to be battling this season with the Swiss team as well as Haas.

Speaking about Alfa’s performance on the final day of testing, Russell said, “Kimi looked very, very fast. I have to give him credit. Although I need to look deeper into the data, I would say at the moment they look like the most surprising team. I can’t honestly tell you where I think we are in comparison, but on the face of things, Kimi looked very fast.”

The C41 looks to be a sign of being a step forward and with Giovinazzi appearing upbeat about the progress the team has made going into the new season. He told Motorsport.com, “I am happy with the work done in Sakhir. Although they are still tests, I believe that the first impression with the car is still important.”

“Despite the difficult conditions with the wind and sand on the first day, I never had any particular problems. In fact, even in the tricky conditions, the car proved to be stable and you could drive it with pleasure. I would say that this is a well-born project, and we can be satisfied with the work of preparing for the season.”

All of the teams have been working to recover lost downforce following a ten per cent cut in downforce, Giovinazzi said these changes had made the car better. Saying “The front of the car is more responsive, especially in the low-speed sections, and in general the feeling is positive in all types of corners.”

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.