F1 Today – Russian Prixview – 23/09/2021

F1 Today

Hamilton thinks pressure of title race getting to Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton thinks that the pressure of going for his first Formula One world championship may be having an impact on title rival Max Verstappen. At the last race in Monza, a collision at the first chicane midway through the race saw both drivers crash out of the race.

While Hamilton has won seven titles and been involved in three more title contests, Verstappen’s push this year is the first proper shot at a championship he has had. The Englishman is aware of what he went through in his early carer, and believes that could be weighing down on him.

Hamilton told Motorsport.com, “Obviously he won’t admit to it, and I’m not going to make an assumption, but I remember what it was like when I had my first [title fight] and it definitely mounted up. It was difficult. It was intense. I was going through a lot of different emotions.

“I didn’t always handle it the best. And that’s to be expected. There’s a lot of pressure: you’re working in a big team. There’s a lot of self-expectation and pressure because the desire to win is huge. So I empathise and understand that. But I know that we will continue to grow from this.”

Hamilton believed that experience was a critical factor in wheel-to-wheel battles too, especially when it came to knowing when not to keep up the fight for a corner. He says that you need to be smart and know when you are not going to make the corner so you can fight at the next corner.

Saying that you need to know when your not going to make the corner, so you can fight at the following corner, but Hamilton says finding that balance was something you could only learn through experience.

Verstappen says Hamilton, is going through a lot of different experience and emotions during that time.

Hamilton confirmed that there is no lasting impact of the neck pain he suffered after the Italian Grand Prix crash when Verstappen’s right rear wheel struck his crash helmet. Responding to claims by Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko of ‘faking injuries’ after Verstappen’s car landed on top of him, he says he doesn’t really listen.

Adding, “I don’t really listen to what these individuals talk about. It’s natural when a car lands on your head you’re going to have some sort of discomfort. As I said, I definitely felt a bit of pain after the race, and then I said I was going to get it checked out.

“I worked with Angela [Cullen, his physio] straight after the race and during the flight, and had check-ups the next day. Then we just worked on it through the week with acupuncture and everything.”


Bottas happy with team orders

Valtteri Bottas says he would be happy to accept team orders to help his Mercedes teammate in his championship battle with Max Verstappen. Hamilton and Verstappen are separated by just five points at the top of the F1 drivers’ championship, with Bottas a eighty-five points off the lead in third place.

Mercedes have used team orders in the past to help Hamilton win championship, something  Bottas later said was “pretty tough to accept” and that he would not do again, highlighted during the latest series of Drive to Survive on Netflix.

Mercedes gave consideration to possibly needing team orders at Monza two weeks ago. While it ruled out making any decision before the sprint race after locking out the front row, Toto Wolff said it would “presumably” have done so during the sprint race if required.

Speaking ahead of this weekends race, Bottas acknowledged there was a “reasonable gap in the points” at the top of the championship. Despite making inroads with third at Monza, he accepted that he would be willing to “take one for the team” to support Hamilton.

Saying, “We have discussed many things internally, including different scenarios,” said Bottas, who will join Alfa Romeo in 2022 and be replaced at Mercedes by George Russell. Every race is always different. There could be times that we need to play as a team, and I need to take one for the team.”

“At this situation, how the situation is, yes, I would do it, because we’re here as a team and really need to make sure that we win both titles, not only the constructors’ but also drivers. At the moment, Lewis has the greater chance for that, so that’s the situation now at the moment.”


No change in Verstappen’s approach

Max Verstappen says he has moved on from his crash with title rival Lewis Hamilton at Monza and is not planning to change his approach. The two title rivals separated by five points crashed out of the Italian Grand Prix, with Verstappen’s Red Bull being launched onto Hamilton’s Mercedes as he attempted a move at the first chicane.

The Dutchman was found by the steward to be ‘predominantly to blame for the incident,’ and was given a three-place grid penalty for this weekends Russian Grand Prix. Although he doesn’t agree with that verdict, he insists he is not dwelling on the matter.

Verstappen told Sky Sports, “We are professional enough just to handle the situation. At the time, I think we are both upset with what happened, but it’s also important to move on.”

“You cannot always look back on the past because if you have to do that with every single one or moment in your life, not only Formula 1, then I think you will be a very sore person. You should be able to forget stuff, forgive stuff in general in life otherwise I don’t think you will live a very happy life.”

Verstappen says that he believes that it really made any change to it because he thought he had a fair shot at fighting the corner. He says they need to look at why they got into that position in the first place, but says that fighting for the championship means you want to give each other the most minimal amount of space.

Verstappen also believes it was hypocritical of people to criticise him for walking away from the scene of the accident without checking if Hamilton was OK.

One of the reasons for cries of hypocrisy, was the Dutchman criticising Hamilton celebrating his British GP win while the Dutchman was in hospital following the pair’s high-speed coming together on the opening lap.

Responding to the claims, Verstappen said, “I jumped out of the car and looked to the left and he was still trying to reverse, shaking the wheel, trying to get away from under my car.”

“I think he was absolutely fine because also flying on Monday or Tuesday to America to attend a gala, you only do that if you feel fine. So I think already there, everything was all under control.”

Red Bull will wait until later in the weekend before deciding whether to put a new engine in Verstappen’s car this weekend.


Leclerc given grid penalty for power unit change

Charles Leclerc will start this weekends Russian Grand Prix from the back of the grid after a new upgraded engine. The new Ferrari power unit  features a revised hybrid system that provides a significant performance upgrade.

Leclerc has already used his permitted number of engines this season so a new one means an automatic grid penalty. His Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz will continue with the old-specification hybrid system.

The Spaniard will receive the upgraded engine at an unspecified point later in the season that Ferrari say will “follow an evaluation of the right compromise between competitiveness and the impact of the penalty”.

The reason why Leclerc is taking a new power unit is that he lost one in the opening lap accident in Budapest. Ferrari says using the new engine, which includes a new battery, is a “precautionary measure relating to the potential risk of using the battery pack damaged in Hungary”.

Leclerc has been using it in the three races since the accident but his car was running short of battery-related parts as a consequence of the accident.

Meanwhile his teammate Carlos Sainz will receive the upgraded unit later in the season, “following an evaluation of the right compromise between competitiveness and the impact of the penalty.”


Race Directors Notes & Circuit Changes

The FIA has announced they will be enforcing track limits at Turn Two and on the exit of Turn Eighteen at this weekends Russian Grand Prix.

At the second corner, every driver who fails to negotiate the corner or passes the orange kerb before the apex must re-join the track by driving through the blocks before re-joining at Turn Three.

Any lap time achieved during any practice session or the race by leaving the track and failing to negotiate Turn Two by using the track, will result in that lap time being invalidated by the stewards.

While at Turn Eighteen, any time which is achieved by going behind the kerb will be deleted.

On the third occasion a driver cuts a corner, he will be shown a black and white flag, any further cutting will then be reported to the stewards. For the avoidance of doubt this means a total of three occasions combined not three at each corner.


Haas confirm Schumacher & Mazepin

Haas has confirmed that Mick Schumacher will be staying with the team next season, alongside Nikita Mazepin. The two drivers formed an all-rookie line up, with the team deciding not to develop this year’s car mean they have only been fighting themselves, but the team has been impressed.

Schumacher, the son of seven-time champion Michael, had been linked to moving to Alfa Romeo but has instead been retained by the team who are last in the constructors but have big hopes for next season, when a rules overhaul could shake up the order.

Team principal Guenther Steiner said “We knew we wanted continuity behind the wheel in 2022 and I’m happy to confirm exactly that with Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin competing for Haas next year.” He also stated that the pair have “embraced the challenge” of 2021.

“w as we look ahead to the 2022 season, we’re confident we can move forward as a team and give Mick and Nikita a competitive race package to make the next step in their Formula 1 careers.”

Schumacher, who is also a junior driver for the Ferrari team his father won five of his seven crowns with, added, “By being part of the Formula 1 field, I am living my dream. New technical regulations, the impressive ambition of the entire Haas F1 team and the support of Ferrari – of course, I believe this will bring us closer to the field in the 2022 season and we will be able to fight for points.:

The German said he was looking forward to being part of a team which is getting stronger, and would continue to move the team forward. Schumacher has also been consistently much faster than his teammate in qualifying.


Vettel my future was “not really” in doubt

Sebastian Vettel says there was “not really” any doubt that he would extend his contract with Aston Martin amid his excitement for next years regulation change. The announcement last week ended speculation the four-time champion had triggered an option to extend his contract for next season.

Vettel will again partner Lance Stroll next year, speaking ahead of the Russian Grand Prix, he said that agreeing a new deal was “not really” in doubt and spoke about his eagerness for the new rules coming next season.

He told reporters, “I think in the end the excitement for next year, the new cars, new regs, and I think where the team is going, everything looks very promising. We don’t know until next year, but it’s great to be part of that.”

Since joining Aston Martin, Vettel has scored one podium finish, taking second place in Azerbaijan, and has brought home the majority of the team’s points so far this season as it fights for fifth place in the constructors’ championship.


Miami confirms May race debut

The organisers of the Miami Grand Prix has confirmed the race will take place on 06 – 08 May. The circuit which will be making its debut next year becomes the second race to announce the date of its 2022 race.

Miami Grand Prix chief executive officer Richard Cregan said the circuit has “our date confirmed with Formula 1”. Meanwhile F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali said this week that the 2022 calendar would be published on 15 October, follow the next FIA world motorsport council meeting.

Domenicali has already confirmed the target was for twenty-three races, although the pandemic could still lead to changes and cancellations during next year. But the sport is hopeful the five races cancelled in the last two years, Australia, China, Canada, Singapore and Japan – will be able to return in 2022.

The historic Monaco event has been reduced to a standard three-day weekend next year to allow more flexibility in planning the calendar and to make it easier to run it back-to-back with another event.


The weekend ahead

This weekend Mercedes I think need to start striking back at Red Bull, and historically this has been a very good race for both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. The world champions have gone over two months and four races without a win, but we know Sochi is a high-speed circuit where overtaking is difficult.

Red Bull have openly said that this circuit shouldn’t suit them, I think they will be nearer McLaren and Ferrari. Qualifying is going to be important, this can be a difficult circuit when it comes to overtaking. We know a street circuit can cause drama this means safety cars are highly likely, being on track at the right time in every session is important.

McLaren we know had a win in Monza it will be interesting to see whether they are ahead of Ferrari, this however leans more towards Ferrari. Sochi on paper looks sometimes like Monaco, but it is when it comes to overtaking but it’s a lot more high speed, thus why its difficult to say which team will have the advantage.


You can join us for LIVE coverage of this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix via Twitter @FormulaOneVault starting with FP1 Friday from 11:15 / 09:15 BST, Qualifying 14:45 / 12:45 and forward race coverage 14:30 / 12:30 lights out 15:00 / 13:00

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.