Hamilton better man but we are stronger
Sebastian Vettel has accepted that Lewis Hamilton was the better man this season but warned his Ferrari team will be an even tougher challenge for Mercedes next season.
The German led the championship for most of the season, however, his hopes of a fifth world title fell away with accidents and reliability problems in the Asian flyways, allowing Hamilton to pull away and seal his fourth world title.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s final race in Abu Dhabi, Vettel said “Lewis probably made fewer mistakes and the best man won in the end.” However, the history books and championship standings will not give a real reflection on how close it was between Ferrari and Mercedes this season.
Vettel is confident that the team can make another leap forward next year. Saying that “It was toe to toe for most of the season but not for the most important part of the season.” Acknowledging that catching Mercedes in 2018 will “be massively tough,” Vettel admitted: “The final step is always the hardest.”
The Ferrari driver claimed five wins this season, which equals the number the team has won in the last five seasons. That underlines the huge progress they have made this year.
Speaking about next season he said “The spirit is definitely there and already now people are completely fired up for next year. We know that we have to make that final step and that final step is the toughest one.”
Next season there is hope that Red Bull can join that mix too. The team made a slow start to the season, but have made progress allowing them to win races on merit this season.
Facing an uglier future – Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton says that Formula One faces an uglier future after this weekends Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with the halo head protection set to be introduced next season.
The device is designed to protect drivers heads from flying debris and the danger of being struck by bouncing wheels has been written into next year’s regulations despite reservations about the look. Speaking ahead of this weekends race, the four times champion said “It’s the last race where the cars will look good.”
“I think from next year it’s all downhill in terms of how it looks but safety will go up at least. Maybe start a new flip-flop brand next year and be successful in some way” added Hamilton. The halo is a device is a loop around the drivers heads designed to deflect debris away from the helmet.
Hamilton’s former title rival Sebastian Vettel agreed that the current cars looked better but felt the sport would get used to the change.
“I think it’s something that we all get used to but there’s no doubt that the cars look better the way they are now. We’ll work on the aesthetics so that it will look fine also. So in the end it’s probably less of a big deal.”
No on-track highlight – Alonso
Fernando Alonso says there has been no on track highlight since he returned to McLaren three years ago. The Spaniard joined the team in search of a third world title, but he has failed to score a single podium in that time.
The lack of performance and progress has meant McLaren has terminated the contract with Honda in favour of a switch to Renault for next season, with the hopes of returning to the front of the grid. Asked for his most memorable moment, Alonso could only point to the team’s work ethic amid a lack of tangible results.
Speaking in the press conference ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, he said “Probably in the performance side or in the races, it is difficult to pick out one side because the performance was never there. Even the P5 in Monaco last year was not as fun as it should be.”
“I think what I take from the last three years is the commitment and the spirit in the team, which has been amazing.” Alonso added he was impressed by the teams’ determination through the worst results of his career.
Adding “I had some highs and lows in my career with different teams and different performances, but it was the first time with the kinds of performance we had on Sunday that the team was fully committed for the next race.”
Ericsson faces uneasy weekend
Marcus Ericsson’s future in Formula One after this weekends Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is uncertain. His Sauber team is yet to announced who will be driving for the team next season, following the deeper relationship with Ferrari it is unclear if they could place a driver with the team next year.
Earlier this year it was announced the two teams had signed a new engine deal which included deeper collaboration between the two teams. But its unclear how deep and to what extent the collaboration goes too. Speaking to ESPN, Ericsson said, “From what I understand, it’s the talks with Ferrari and how much collaboration they’re going to do with Ferrari and what that will improve.”
“For me that’s what’s been taking the time. I know Ferrari is pushing to get drivers in the team, and I think that’s the main worry for me at the moment. That’s not been decided yet.” But the Swedish driver remains confident of being with the team.
Despite rumours of an announcement being made this weekend, Ericsson says it is an uneasy feeling having no plans in place for next season.
Pirelli reveals details of the seven compounds
Pirelli has revealed details of its seven dry weather tyres that will be used from next season, with two new tyre compounds the superhard and hypersoft being introduced.
The Italian supplier says the compounds in the 2018 “rainbow” range will be “considerably softer” compared to 2017. The first new tyre will be the orange super-hard, slotting in as the hardest of the range.
It will be what Pirelli describes as its “insurance policy” given the other compounds have gone softer for next season. The other new tyre called the hypersoft was chosen by fans in a poll online and will be the softest compound.
Pirelli head of racing Mario Isola said “This is the softest compound we’ve made so far in F1. We decided not only to move all the range one step softer but to introduce one more level of softer compound, that is the pink hyper-soft.”
“We realised that, under the unique circumstances of this year, some of our 2017 compounds were perhaps conservative. The tyres we have created for 2018 addresses this, in line with the objective of having around two pit stops at most races.”
Isola added the design concept of the tyre hasn’t changed as the drivers have appreciated the ability to push throughout the race. The new tyres will be tested in next weeks tyre test in Abu Dhabi.
Stroll has no preference on teammate
Lance Stroll says he has no preference about who Williams chooses as his teammate next season, as long as they are a “team player.” Williams has been insistent that no decision has been made.
Although in next week’s tyre test, the favourite Robert Kubica is driving alongside the Canadian. There has been speculation about whether Stroll wants a veteran from who he can learn and who could help to accelerate car development, or a driver with a comparable level of experience.
He told Autosport “I think you just want a team player. At the end of the day you just drive your car, that’s kind of what you have to focus on, yourself and what’s going on on your side of the garage.”
“But of course it’s always good to have a good relationship, and you never want to have kind of a negative battle – you don’t want the team to start splitting up in any way, I think that’s the most important thing.”
He says they need to be pushing all the time, at the top of their game, but ultimately it is the decision of Williams.
Formula One Vault will bring you full coverage of the final round of the season the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Live coverage from 08:45GMT tomorrow from @F1VaultLive. Preview here
F1 Today returns next Tuesday, with a special edition following the tyre test and to our readers in America, Happy Thanksgiving.