Vandoorne believes he capable of matching Alonso
Stoffel Vandoorne believes he is now more capable of producing the same performances as his teammate Fernando Alonso in difficult situations.
Vandoorne’s first full season coincided with the final difficult season of McLaren’s partnership with Honda, while his teammate Alonso managed to deliver some results. Though results so far still show McLaren is in the midfield, the Belgian has been closer to his teammate.
He has qualified one place behind his team-mate in all three Grand Prix’s, trailing him by 0.25 seconds on average, with his race highlight being a Bahrain charge to eighth after falling to last at the start. Vandoorne believes he is beginning to emulate Alonso’s ability to “pull it out the bag”
Vandoorne told Autosport “He knows how to overcome a few things, how to build his weekend towards that critical moments. One of his strengths, whatever the conditions and circumstances he always delivers at 99%”
“That for me has been very good to learn out of. I definitely feel I became a lot stronger and am able to do this myself a lot more now whenever conditions are difficult or the situation is tricky.” McLaren’s struggle with one lap pace has meant it has been unable to get through to Q3.
Vandoorne, who only has six points and struggled more in the last race in China than the first two GPs, insists he takes the challenge of being Alonso’s team-mate positively.
“I have a great benchmark, I know exactly when I’m up there, fighting for the last few hundredths, we’re getting 100% out of the package. If I want to be world champion one day I’ll have to beat a world champion.”
Red Bull issue deadline to Ricciardo
Red Bull boss Christian Horner has given Daniel Ricciardo until August to renew his contract or the team will begin looking elsewhere. The comments come after reports that the Australian has begun negotiations with Ferrari.
Ricciardo is seen as a key mover in the driver market as well as four times champion Lewis Hamilton and 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen, who are all out of contract at the end of the season. Speaking to Auto Motor Und Sport, Horner said “We do not want to wait forever. We have other good options. There should be a decision by the summer (August) break at the latest.”
“Our priority is to continue working with Daniel. If that does not work, we’ll pull the other options. The most obvious is Carlos Sainz. He is under contract with us. And then there are a few young drivers.” Its understood that Ricciardo is locked into pre-talks with Ferrari until July.
Ricciardo has also said he only wants a two-year deal as uncertainty remains about regulations and future direction after 2020. Ferrari has already warned that they could walk away if they do not like what is on offer.
“Each year something might change so I don’t want to tie myself down for four more years and then I’m like, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore,” Ricciardo told The Times.
Meanwhile, Mercedes have yet to announce a new deal for four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton or teammate Valtteri Bottas, who are also out of contract at the end of this season.
Russell could test for two teams this season
Mercedes young driver George Russell could be set to test for two Formula One teams this season while driving in Formula Two. The Englishman drove the Force India last season and is sharing the role as reserve driver with Pascal Wehrlein.
Force India has already announced that Nicholas Latifi will be the teams’ reserve driver this season, and the team has F3 driver Nikita Mazepin as development driver.
The Englishman is also expected to drive for one of Mercedes customer teams in practices and at the Barcelona or Budapest test, in addition to carrying out tyre testing for Mercedes, according to Motorsport.com.
Speaking to the website, Force India’s chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer confirmed Russell “will still do some work for us”, and said he and Latifi would be drafted in for “simulator work at the beginning, and then we’ll try throughout the year and get them both on track”.
Russell added that testing for Mercedes was “on the cards and on top of that I would love to get behind the wheel of a Force India again”. Calling Force India “a great place I can start my F1 career” after impressing in practice sessions last year.
He says “There’s no reason we shouldn’t continue to build on that relationship throughout this season. Mercedes are fully behind me with that thought, but we are both on the same page in saying that Formula 2 is my main priority and focus.”
“It’s very easy in my position to get caught up in the F1 dream and forgetting about going out and winning F2.” Ocon is seen as a replacement for either Valtteri Bottas and/or Lewis Hamilton should or both of them not resign.
Russell is hoping that a good season with ART will give him a full-time race seat in F1 next season. Saying “Force India is the place that I’m looking towards for next season. We’re continuing a relationship this year and there’s no reason why that shouldn’t expand into a full-time seat next year.”
FIA gives green light to mirrors on Halo
The FIA has told teams that from this weekends Azerbaijan Grand Prix they can mount the wing mirrors on the Halo, providing they comply with the relevant regulations.
Mirrors have been one of the talking points this season after drivers reported to be struggling to see anything behind them while Ferrari has tailored the design to create more aero gains. Some teams believe that mounting mirrors on the halo can have aerodynamic benefit.
After enquires, FIA single-seater technical director Nikolas Tombazis has clarified the governing body’s position and given the go-ahead for teams to follow that route.
However, they will still have to meet all current regulations, including those that specify the theoretical “box” within which they have to be located, and the ability to meet a rear vision test conducted by the FIA, in which a driver has to read letter or number boards placed behind the car.
Mirrors will also have to comply with the new rule on the laminate of any parts that are within 20mm of the halo structure, which was written to cover aerodynamic fairing.
The directive says “We expect that you will be able to satisfy us that the installation is sufficiently rigid to ensure that the mirror does not vibrate too much, which would limit driver visibility.”
In addition, mirrors cannot be mounted both on the halo and the chassis, because such an arrangement would make it harder to remove the halo.”
“We will not accept a dual mirror mounting (halo + traditional survival cell), as this could cause delays in the event a rescue team had to remove the halo following an accident.”
The FIA says cameras cannot be place on halo mounted mirrors and that could become an issue should FOM request that a particular car run such cameras.
Ferrari has decided to back Vettel – Symonds
Formula One’s chief technical officer Pat Symonds believes that Ferrari has already decided to back Sebastian Vettel over Kimi Raikkonen, based on strategic decisions in Shanghai.
Raikkonen was kept out of the pits to help his teammates strategy. However, the Finn still finished ahead of Vettel in China because of the safety car. Former Benetton and Renault technical director Symonds says that such strategies will not help Ferrari’s chances of winning the constructors’ title.
He told F1.com “I think they need to decide how they’re going to go racing. I think that the way they used Raikkonen in China was unfortunate – leaving him out for so long and trying to slow down other cars.”
“And to be honest, it didn’t really work. By the time his rivals reached him, his tyres were shot and they could easily overtake, so it wasn’t a great strategic decision.” He says that isn’t the way to win the constructor’s championship, believing that Ferrari is targeting the drivers.
Symonds believes that the team is in better shape than it has been since the hybrid era began, saying that Ferrari has had consistent performance and been stronger on race pace.