Mercedes “hard slog” paying off – Hamilton
Sir Lewis Hamilton is hoping that Mercedes “hard slog” to understand its 2021 car has started to pay off in this year’s championship fight. The seven-times champions appeared to be on the backfoot going to Silverstone, but the last two races swung away from Red Bull.
Red Bull was threatened to pull away in the championship following five consecutive wins, but its streak was broken at Silverstone when Max Verstappen was eliminated in a controversial collision with Hamilton, who went on to win. Verstappen hit more trouble in Hungary after getting caught up in the Turn One carnage triggered by Valtteri Bottas.
Hamilton took his first pole in six races and it is likely he would have won a record-breaking ninth time in Budapest as well as his hundredth career win, if Mercedes hadn’t took the restart when the rest of the field pitted, placing him on the back foot for the restart.
Mercedes has been working hard to unlock more performance from its car, appearing to make a breakthrough with the upgrade at Silverstone giving encouragement to Hamilton. He told Crash.net, “I hope so, I really hope so. I tell you it’s definitely been a hard slog for us in terms of trying to… those guys with their update, they had I think a combination of things but they took a really good step once we got the midpoint.”
“Monaco onwards was intense and the upgrade really has worked. Then we’ve just been working on our procedure through the weekend and trying to extract more from the car and I think now we’re a lot closer.”
Hamilton says that Budapest was “very strong and definitely surprising to see how strong it is compared to them so proud of everyone back at the factory, as I said, who continue to not give up.”
He made a vow, never to give up and says the team will keep pushing as they learn from the mistakes.
The title race resumes this weekend at Spa, the first race in a triple header. Hamilton leads Verstappen by eight points in the driver’s championship, while Mercedes are twelve points ahead of Red Bull.
New Crypto overtaking award
Formula One has announced a new award for the driver who makes the most overtakes during the season. The Overtake Award will be backed by Crypto.com, the cryptocurrency company that already has strong links with F1’s sprint events.
Liberty Media says that the new award is “designed to celebrate the bravery exhibited by drivers who make bold moves in pursuit of success.” It says that graphics similar to what we see in Grands Prix will be shown during the race to forecast overtakes, as well as graphics keeping records of the driver who have carried out the most overtakes.
By definition, the award is set to go to a driver from the midfield rather than a regular pole man or race winner. It’s understood that Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel is the current leader after the first eleven races of the season.
F1 said in a statement, “new broadcast graphics will be introduced live during each race, to signal overtaking possibilities and potential moves, and to help fans keep track of drivers’ progress in the hunt for the Crypto.com Overtake Award, [and] which will chart the amount of overtakes made throughout the campaign.”
The news shows that F1 is continuing to seek fresh ways of involving its key sponsors in new areas, tyre supplier Pirelli already sponsors the pole position trophy, awarded to the driver who takes the most poles in a season as well as at each race. While logistics partner DHL sponsors fastest lap and pit stop awards.
F1’s director of commercial partnerships Ben Pincus said: “We’re delighted to be expanding our partnership with Crypto.com as we introduce the Overtake Award which will integrate the brand into F1 throughout the season, in addition to the title partnership of the F1 Sprint Events.”
Pincus says that the partnership ties well with Cryptocurrency, as it demonstrates the bold and strategic moves which reflects the qualities needed when dealing in cryptocurrency.”
Crypto.com chief marketing officer Steve Kalifowitz added: “We are extremely proud to be introducing a first of its kind award to Formula 1. We strive to create partnerships that deliver win-win-win opportunities and I can’t think of a more perfect opportunity than the Crypto.com Overtake Award.
“No guarantee” top teams nail 2022 regulations
Fernando Alonso says he expects the 2022 regulation changes to throw up “many surprises” when the new generation of cars are unveiled at winter testing. Following a years delay due to the pandemic, the sport will introduce regulations designed to create more downforce, therefore racier and less reliant on clear air. l
That overhaul means that teams have shifted focus to 2022 earlier than usual, having to effectively start from a clean slate. The rule changes, in combination with F1’s decreasing budget cap of £125 million, offer an opportunity for the pecking order to change.
While Alonso says he has no information on how next years Alpine will turn out, he says there will be some surprises when the cars are unveiled. He told Motorsport.com “We are working on next year’s project but it’s very early days and no one knows what the numbers are, because you have nothing to compare against.”
“So, we are all a little bit realistic and waiting for February because we will see many surprises when the cars are uncovered for everyone. We will see different philosophies, we will see different ideas and will be time to be sharp and react if we see something interesting.”
However, while the belief remains that Mercedes and Red Bull are in the best place to take advantage of the change, Alonso believes there are no guarantees for any team to get it right, and that teams who do get ahead might be hard to catch for the competition.
He added, “Eventually, you will see the same results for four or five years as we saw, a team that is dominant at the beginning of one set of rules, they seem to keep that advantage for year; everything gets closer and closer, but the same one is winning.”
Tsunoda’s struggles are not “not out of blue” – Egginton
Alpha Tauri technical director Jody Egginton says that Yuki Tsunoda’s struggles have not come “out of the blue,” given the growing complexity and difficulty of entering Formula One for young drivers.
The Japanese driver stepped up to F1 after finishing third in last years F2 championship, but he has had an up and down first half of the season in the sport. With several incidents including crashing at Imola twice, as well as having incidents in Baku and Paul Ricard.
Tsunoda acknowledged that he needed to “calm down” after his early crashes, and scored points in three of the last four races before the summer break, including his best finish to date of sixth in Hungary. Egginton felt that Tsunoda had been progressing “day after day” through his first season, and that to encounter moments of difficulty was nothing unusual.
He told Motorsport.com, “If you consider any first-time driver in F1 who’s had any length of career, they have ups and downs. I can think back to my time in previous teams were at the start of the season with a young driver, there was a mixture of exuberance and bad luck.”
“Before you know it, you are five races in and scratching your head and going ‘what’s gone on there?’. It’s not unusual for me. It’s frustrating and challenging, but it’s not out of the blue. I think some of the added focus is on the fact that he had a good opening race.”
Egginton believes that the competitive car means expectation goes up. When you focus towards the front then it happens all of a sudden, making the questions seem more intense, but he doesn’t see anything out of the ordinary.
Tsunoda rise has been accelerated by Red Bull and Honda, he only made his F4 debut in 2018 before moving up the ladder every season. Egginton admitted that while progression at that speed was unheard of, he says the complexity of modern F1 made Tsunoda’s adaptation more of a challenge.
Adding “Obviously he’s not the first with [Felipe] Massa, [Kimi] Raikkonen, other people like this doing it. What is different now of course is the complexity of Formula 1. In terms of the driver workload, it is difficult to draw parallels to other instances.”
“With the intensity of what you’ve got to pick up, what you’ve got to learn and also the rapid pace of development in F1 from an engineering and car development side, it just makes it more challenging.”
Schumacher not worried about pointless season
Mick Schumacher believes it would not be a “huge drama” if he failed to score points in his debut F1 season, saying they would be “an amazing bonus”. The current F2 champion made his debut with Haas this season, who have been honest about not developing this years car deciding to focus on next years regulation changes.
It has left Schumacher battling with his teammate Nikita Mazepin at the back of the grid, but during the mixed up race in Budapest scored his highest finish in twelfth. The US-owned team is the only team that has failed to score points leaving it three points behind Alfa Romeo.
However, Schumacher has won praise for his performances so far this year, routinely beating Mazepin in both qualifying and races, as well as reaching Q2 at the French Grand Prix.
Asked by Motorsport.com, what success would look like in the second half of the season would look like, the German said he hoped Haas could get closer to the points, but did not think they would make or break the team’s season.
Schumacher said, “If we see at the end of the season that, maybe not consistently, but if we’re closer to Q2 in qualifying and closer to points, I think that that will be a success for us.”
“Obviously, an amazing bonus would be to get points. I think that that’s really what we’re hoping for. For sure there [will be] some race weekends that will be crazier than some others and hopefully we’ll be in the race to gather those points. But, again, I think it wouldn’t be a huge drama if we didn’t collect points.”
Team principal Gunther Steiner has regularly described this year as a “transition year,” with Haas hoping they can jump back into the midfield with next years regulation change.
Schumacher has however set his sights on fighting with Williams, or at least matching their pace. He revealed he was drawing motivation from taking the fight to Williams despite having a far less developed car.
Adding “I think that’s really what’s motivating me. That’s also why I come in at work early and leave late – so that I know that I’ve done everything possible to be able to allow us to be as close as we can.”