Ferrari under investigation over the legality of engine
The FIA has launched an investigation into Ferrari following allegations that the power unit is illegally recovering energy from the car and giving them and their customers an unfair advantage by deploying more engine power than is permitted.
The sports governing body has been monitoring the situation since March and last night asked ordered the Italian team to a device on their engine to ensure they are sticking to the law book.
A statement on F1.com on Thursday evening, said “The governing body have asked Ferrari to run an extra piece of hardware that monitors their Energy Recovery System.
“This weekend, the FIA will monitor the system in operation before analysing data and making any judgements.” A spokesperson for the Italian team said in Monaco: “Ferrari does not comment on speculation.”
Suspicions about Ferrari’s engine began at the Chinese Grand Prix, where Mercedes had dominated between 2013-17, however, Ferrari were half a second ahead this season and won.
In Baku Vettel took pole again, and that is when the FIA asked all four engine manufacturers, Renault, Ferrari, Mercedes and Honda, to give them details of their engine layouts. However, in Barcelona where Ferrari dominated in testing, Mercedes took pole and dominated the race.
Mercedes non-executive chairman, Niki Lauda, said. “The FIA has to clarify these unanswered questions by the next race in Monte Carlo.”
Speaking after practice on Thursday, Vettel, who trails Hamilton by 17 points in this year’s championship race, played down the FIA investigation.
He said, “Obviously we have heard about it. It is normal that every now and again you have something that pops up, and then there are rumours and this time is about us.
“It is the FIA’s job to look after everyone. We trust them as much as the other teams trust them to do their job. For us it is pretty straightforward. It is more outside talk.”
The magic of Monaco
Monaco is one of the ultimate races in motorsport, one leg of the Triple Crown its seen highs and lows over the last ninety years. Founded by the founder of Monacan Motorsport the creator of the chequered flag Antony Noghes in the 1920’s Monaco has become one of the sporting wonders of the world.
Greats like Prost, Senna who dominated the race for a decade in the 1980’s, Michael Schumacher both the Rosberg’s and Graham ‘Mr Monaco’ Hill and the great Juan Manuel Fangio have all won here.
Monaco, while it’s a race with little overtaking that doesn’t mean theirs no drama. Crashes, risky moves all common, but thankfully not a death since 1967 when Lorenzo Blandini crashed out and died. However, his death saw the FIA ban straw bales around circuits.
While Monaco is one of F1’s and motorsports crown jewels, it doesn’t see much overtaking. However, accidents remain a part of the drama, Senna once crashed outside his apartment and returned there for days.
Monaco is very much a home for Formula One, providing drivers with the shortest commute of the year. You see celebrities and it allows the fans to get really close to the circuit and even walk the track.
Formula One, sport and the world wouldn’t be the same without the playground of Monte Carlo.
Vettel and Hamilton say Leclerc hype “Justified”
Four times champions Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton believe that the hype around Charles Leclerc is “absolutely justified” and say they believe that the Monacan has the potential to do “great things”.
The Monacan who is a Ferrari young driver programme gained a seat with Sauber, after dominating both the 2016 GP3 Series and last years Formula Two championship. After a difficult first three races this year, Leclerc scored points in Baku with an impressive sixth place.
Asked by Motorsport.com about their opinion of Leclerc, Vettel said “the hype is absolutely justified” while Lewis Hamilton said he has “the potential to do great things here”.
Vettel said “ If there’s no hype around him, then I don’t understand who should be hyped. You walk through all the categories like that, then you belong here.”
Vettel said he sees no reason Leclerc will not race for Ferrari in the future, adding: “The races he’s had so far, he used his opportunities. He’s doing everything he can at the moment.”
Four-time world champion Hamilton said he watches the junior categories with his Mercedes team, and that included monitoring Leclerc’s progress.
Saying “What he’s done in the last couple of years has been great to see. Formula 1 is supposed to be the pinnacle of the sport, which it is, but it’s supposed to have the best drivers from around the world and in all honesty.”
Hartley plays down speculation on future
Brendon Hartley says he was “surprised” to see reports in the media that this weekends Monaco Grand Prix could be his last.
In the last three races, the New Zealander has crash three times including twice with his teammate in Shanghai and Baku, as well as in third practice in Barcelona. That has fuelled speculation that he could be replaced.
Hartley believes that his recent blips have overshadowed his better moments in 2018 such as his qualifying performances against teammate Gasly in the opening three rounds and his first career points in Baku.
He told ESPN “Well yeah, I have a contract, so I was surprised to hear. Formula One obviously moves quick, there are plenty of critics.”
“As a driver, you’re your own biggest critic. I had two weekends not completely clean. In fairness, I scored my first point in Azerbaijan. The first three races of the year, I was ahead in qualifying for two of the three.”
He says that Toro Rosso doesn’t have the pace to be in the points all the time and says he was happy with the way he dealt with his crash.
Hartley acknowledges rumours and speculation are part of being an F1 driver and he is sure a big result is around the corner.
“I’ll move on and fight this weekend, and hopefully have a good result. There’s always anyway a lot of rumours in Formula One so as a driver, it’s better not to read too much.”
“I know that I’m a team player. I’m working very hard behind the scenes. I know I’m more than capable. I think I’ve showed that in the first three qualifyings of the year”
Baku wants to negotiate a better deal
Organisers of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix have asked Liberty Media for a reduction in race sanctioning fees from 2021. Currently, the organisers pay one of the biggest fees of any race on the calendar.
The reason Baku pays one of the biggest fees in the sport was to convince then CEO Bernie Ecclestone that the race would be financially viable. He agreed on a deal until 2025, but with a break clause after 2020.
While the organisers remain committed to the deal until 2020, they want a more favourable deal for the second five-year term from 2021 to 2025.
The push for a better price comes in the wake of a similar move from Hockenheim, whose contract to host the German GP in alternate seasons ends this year, and the news that the Miami GP will have a new style of risk and revenue sharing deal.
The deals in Germany and America were expected to open a Pandora’s box when it comes to contracts beyond 2020-25 with race promoters. Also, Silverstone is in negotiations over its fifteen-year contract, following the break clause which means the British Grand Prix is uncertain after 2019.
Azerbaijan promoter Arif Rahimov, told Motorsport.com “We have a contract which is a binding contract for five years, for five races, starting in 2016. Neither of us can break it unless we agree to break it.”
“We haven’t triggered the break clause. We’re negotiating on the second part of the contract. We all know we need to improve bits, so we’re trying hard to make sure that it’s good for us and good for F1.”
He says that they cannot take the average European fee as the race cost more to run but cannot afford the fees pays by the other flyway races.
Rahimov was keen to dispel rumours that the arrival of the Miami GP in 2019 could lead to Azerbaijan being dropped to make way, with some even suggesting that the Baku pit and paddock infrastructure would be shipped to Florida.
Saying “I think it was just a rumour, I don’t know how this rumour got spread, because it made no sense from the beginning. I guess they’re going to release the draft calendar this month of next month.”
Miami proposes morning race
Organisers of the proposed Miami Grand Prix have suggested holding the race in the morning to capitalise on viewers in Europe and South Asia.
Earlier this month the local commission approved the plans by organisers to begin negotiations with Liberty Media over a ten-year contract. Also a draft proposal for a circuit has been circulated on social media.
However, the circuit is in disputed land around the American Airlines Arena, which may prompt alterations to the final layout. Planners are also looking not to go too far into the city to opposition from business and homeowners associations.
It is believed that the race would be held in October around the same time as the United States Grand Prix, which is held in Austin.
Since the beginning of the championship in the 1950’s races have been held around two o’clock local time. However, over the last decade races in Asia-Pacific region have been moved to between three and five o’clock to suit viewers in Europe and night races in Singapore and Bahrain have started at eight and six o’clock respectively.
According to Ken Russell, the city commissioner for the district set to host most of the current circuit, Miami is open to the prospect of holding a morning to maximise viewers. He told ESPN “The [planning] deck I received giving an intro to the race and what might be involved suggested a morning race because of the airtime around the world.”
“If we had a morning race in Miami it would be an afternoon showing in Europe and a prime-time race in Asia.”
“A morning race may not have as much of the night time visual excitement, but it’s still a really impressive backdrop with the skyline and such.”
A morning race in Mami also would avoid clashes with the NFL games at the nearby Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, north of the Biscayne Bay area.
Grid girls – sexism campaigner angered with return
The boxer and anti-sexism campaigner Stacey Copeland has told BBC News that it’s wrong to objectify woman, after four-time champion Lewis Hamilton welcomed the organiser’s decision to use ‘grid girls’ ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix.
Although the models aren’t being called ‘grid girls’ one of the sponsors the watchmaker Tag Heuer will be on the grid but not as ‘grid girls.’
Copeland said, “It doesn’t add anything and enough is enough. It’s not about ugly versus beautiful, it’s saying the sexual objectification of women in sport is not OK.” In January Liberty announced that grid girls would be banned because they are “at odds with modern-day societal norms”.
Traditionally, grid girls would hold driver placards on the grid but the Monaco models, who will include men, will only be there as representatives of Tag Heuer, taking pictures of the drivers to be posted on social media.
Four-time champions Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have welcomed the move. Hamilton said “Women are the most beautiful thing in the world. Monaco is a very elegant grand prix and when we pull up to the grid and there’s beautiful women on the grid. That’s a lovely thing.”
Vettel added: “I like women. I think they look beautiful. The bottom line is that there is too much of a fuss nowadays.”
Copeland, response to the comments were “Change is always really tough and will have its ups and downs, but just because we’ve always done something does not mean it should carry on.”
“Grid girls in F1 and ring girls in boxing are unnecessary and unequal so we have to over-correct.”
Tomorrow qualifying looks as if Red Bull will be the leaders however you can never rule out Ferrari and Mercedes. Red Bull showed in practice on Thursday that they have good pace this weekend on single lap pace, which we expected this weekend.
Monaco is unique as we were saying in Barcelona anyone who was strong in the final stop/start sector should perform well. Monaco will reward the driver who pushes to the limit, however, punishes those who go too far.
We have the added factor of the Hypersoft tyre, drivers will not want to use them really in Q2 to get into Q3 as that means starting the race on a tyre which has high degradation. But we know all the drivers have used most of there allocation on Hypersofts.
The drivers in the top teams need also to wary of yellow and red flags, as accidents and traffic will cause problems. We need to watch around Rascasse as that’s where drivers back up and if you are on your quick lap it can cause headaches.
Formula Vault coverage of the Monaco Grand Prix continues tomorrow morning from 10:45 BST/11:45 CEST with live coverage of third practice and qualifying from 13:45/14:45. Race coverage from 13:40/14:40 on Sunday. Notebook round-up tomorrow evening