F1 Today – 22/12/2020

F1 Today

Hamilton believes he won’t be caught out again

Lewis Hamilton feels he has learned from his penalty slip-ups through the 2020 Formula One season, saying the stewards “won’t be able to catch me out again”.

The seven-times champion received in-race penalties on three occasions this year, the first coming at the opening round in Austria when he received a five-second penalty for a collision with Alexander Albon, dropping him from second to fourth place.

His most severe penalty came at Monza, when a ten-second penalty for entering a closed pit lane dropped the Mercedes driver from first to last place, meaning he could only fightback to seventh at Monza.

Hamilton was angry and accused the stewards were “trying to stop me” and called the penalties for doing two practice starts in the wrong place in Sochi as “ridiculous”.

Reflecting on his comments in Sochi, Hamilton admitted they were made in the heat of the moment and explained how there was, in fact, growing respect between himself and the stewards.

Hamilton told Autosport, “Ultimately you say things in the heat of the moment. When you feel that you’re swimming against a tide sometimes, I think that is a human reaction. Looking back, we can always look and think we can do things differently.

“I think we’ve grown. There’s been a lot of growth I think this year, both as a sport and the steps that we’ve taken.” Hamilton described it as an experience as he rarely gets called to face the stewards, but said there was a growth of respect between the stewards and himself.

The penalties did not have any eventual impact on Hamilton winning a seventh world title but did coincide with three of the six races he failed to win this year.

Hamilton said he still did not think the penalties he received “were the necessary penalties”, but acknowledged “it’s not my job to come up with what the penalty should be”.

He said he has learned lessons from it and believes he won’t be caught out again, saying he has to be very vigilant and diligent.


Haas to open Maranello hub

Ferrari has announced that Haas are to open a new hub in Maranello, which will allow more staff from the Italian personnel set to be moved across to the American-owned outfit.

With the introduction of a budget cap next year, the team has been forced to trim its personnel and has been looking to redeploy key staff to its customer team.

Also with ten days before the UK leaves the Brexit transition period this third base in Europe could be beneficial to avoid concession at ports and custom checks. No deal has yet been signed around trade and movement of goods.

Earlier this month it was announced that Simone Resta, Ferrari’s head of chassis engineering, would be moving to Haas in an undefined role. Now the Italian squad has revealed that more transfers are expected to be finalised soon.

A separate ‘hub’ factory is being set up near Ferrari’s facility where personnel can work solely for Haas. Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said: “These persons will be in Maranello in a completely separate building to Scuderia Ferrari. They will not have access to the Scuderia Ferrari building. It is separated and they will remain in there.”

Binotto says the relationship with Haas remained a customer one, with no suggestion of pooling resources which could be against the regulations.

He added “Haas is a fully independent team, compared to Ferrari. It is not a junior team and we are not exchanging information beyond what’s possible in the regulation.”

But describing it as a great opportunity for Haas to reinforce their team, and saves Ferrari from losing that expertise to other teams.


No replacement for Red Bull title sponsor

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says that the team does not have a new title sponsor to replace Aston Martin next year. Aston Martin will take over the Racing Point team from next year which is also owned by Lawrence Stroll.

Since 2018 the British carmaker has appeared prominently on the Red Bull, but that agreement has come to an end.  Horner confirmed that Red Bull has no plans to find a new title sponsor. He told Crash.net, “We don’t have a title sponsor replacing Aston Martin for next year.”

“We will have new sponsors that we introduce into next year. Aston Martin obviously won’t be on our car. We’ve enjoyed four years, three years as title and four years with them on the car. We’ve helped to push the brand, and we’ve obviously enjoyed a great relationship with Valkyrie.”

Horner explained that the old deal was agreed by former CEO Andy Palmer, who was always supportive. But admitted it was natural for Aston to end partnership when Stroll brought the Racing Point team.

“Very strong” progress in 2020 – Ocon

Esteban Ocon feels his progress on his return to Formula One with Renault was “very strong.” The Frenchman was forced to sit out 2019, after failing to find a seat spending the year as Mercedes reserve driver.

Renault was swift to sign Ocon for 2020 to partner Daniel Ricciardo, allowing the Frenchman to return after just a year on the side-lines. Ocon finished the season twelfth in the championship and scored his first podium earlier this month in Sakhir.

Ocon admitted earlier in the year that it took him to regain race sharpness, Ocon was pleased with his eventual progress when looking back on the season. The Frenchman told Motorsport.com, “Overall, the progress has been very strong.”

“I’m pretty happy with how I’ve ended the season in terms of pace, performance, and how we are working with the team together. That is a lot stronger than how it has been to start with.”

He feels he gained in performance and confidence, with him hoping to be on top of the details and ready. Ocon says it was a shame to miss out on third in the constructors, but there was a lot they could take on board.


Zanardi responding to outside stimulation

Former F1 driver and Paralympic champion Alex Zanardi has made positive steps towards recovery and is responding to outside stimuli, according to an Italian media report.

The Italian was badly injured in a handbike crash, suffering neuro injuries in June, but according to Corriere della Sera he has now started responding to voices with hand gestures having recovered his hearing and sight following a series of brain operations after his brutal accident.

Zanardi remains in hospital in Padua, with reports saying that he can shake hands and raise his thumb in response to questions.

It’s understood that he recognises his wife Daniela, who visits him every day, but cannot speak due to a hole in his throat that doctors have kept open as a precaution should he suffer any relapses in his recovery.

Doctors had to rebuild his face and skull following the impact with the truck, they believe that Zanardi will be able to regain most of his brain function.

After a further two operations, he was showing signs of improvement, and on July 21 he was moved to the Villa Beretta rehabilitation facility in Costa Masnaga, close to the town of Lecco, to the north of Milan. Around this time his sedation was reduced and he was brought out of his coma.

However, shortly after the transfer, his condition deteriorated, and on July 24 he was moved again to the intensive care unit of the San Raffaele Hospital, which is located between central Milan and Monza.

A further operation was carried out because of “late complications due to the primal head injury.”


Russell makes suggestions to help Williams

George Russell says since he has returned to Williams following his stand-in for Lewis Hamilton in Sakhir, he has made several suggestions to help the team improve. Russell was brought in to replace Hamilton after he tested positive for coronavirus.

However, a botched pit stop and a puncher cost the Englishman the chance of his maiden win, before returning to Williams for the final race in Abu Dhabi. Although he cannot reveal any of Mercedes’ direct secrets, his knowledge of how the German car manufacturer does things will be invaluable in helping direct Williams to focus on specific areas.

One of the things Williams would like to understand is why Russell made a good start in the race for Mercedes, while he has struggled in his Williams all season is to get a consistent start.

Williams’ head of vehicle performance, Dave Robson, says Russell already had some suggestions of how to improve things after experiencing what Mercedes does. He told Motorsport.com, “It’s something he’s mentioned. He did a particularly good [start in the Mercedes].”

“He has had some good starts in our car, but I think what we’re lacking is the consistency. It’s probably as much down to what they do on their car, than it is the driver.”

“So he’s got some ideas, particularly about how he might like to change the clutch paddle, so the sort of ergonomics of what they do. That’s something we can look at over the winter.” But Robson believes that the drivetrains are a bit too different which affects the tyre preparation and understanding the grip.

While the different concepts of the Mercedes and Williams cars means that specifics of the designs cannot be carried across, Robson still thinks there are general concepts of performance that could help his outfit. He says the fundamental problem was the pace difference, which isn’t simple to resolve.


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