Istanbul returns, with two Bahrain races
Formula One has confirmed the final four Grand Prix’s will take place in Istanbul, Sakhir and Abu Dhabi. The Turkish Grand Prix returns to the calendar after a nine-year absence and will be the only race to take place in Asia.
Having run all six races so far behind closed doors, F1 has also confirmed that a “number of races” will “be open to a limited number of fans, including hospitality”, with reviews on the policy regularly held.
Turkish will take place on 13 – 15 November, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has been postponed by two weeks to allow Bahrain to hold two races on 27 – 29 November and 04 – 06 December. Abu Dhabi will now take place on 11 – 13 December, and will probably be followed by the third test.
There have been rumours that the Sakhir Grand Prix will take place on the ‘oval style’ circuit, but there was no mention of any layout change for the December 6 race in F1’s announcement.
The circuit later confirmed on Twitter that it has not decided on whether fans will be allowed to attend, and the rumours of the layout changes for the second race were still being discussed.
It’s also not known if both races in Bahrain will be night races.
It sets Formula One up for the latest finish to a season since 1963, when the season finished in South Africa on 28th December.
F1 CEO Chase Carey said, “This year has presented Formula 1 and the world with an unprecedented challenge and we want to pay tribute to everyone across Formula 1, the FIA, the teams, and our partners who have made this possible.”
Briatore in hospital with Coronavirus
Former Renault and Benetton team principal Flavio Briatore has been taken to hospital in Italy after testing positive for coronavirus. Reports in Italy say the Italian was transferred to the San Raffaele hospital to Milan on Monday as the result of complications caused by the virus.
It comes as a controversy comes around a billionaire club in Port Cervo, which has become a centre of a cluster of coronavirus, according to reports from Italy say that Briatore was transferred to the San Raffaele hospital to Milan on Monday as the result of complications caused by the virus.
While there has been no official statement on his condition, the respected L’Espresso news magazine says that his condition is serious, although he is not in intensive care.
Briatore was banned from F1 for life following his involvement in the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix Crashgate scandal. When Nelson Piquet deliberately crashed to help Alonso win the race.
He was initially banned by the FIA from any involvement in sanctioned events, but he took the matter to court and successfully overturned that punishment. However, he has since had no desire to make a formal return to a role in F1.
Briatore is also known for masterminding the first two world championships for Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso to their first title successes.
He led Schumacher to the crown with Benetton in 1994 and 1995, while he helped Alonso to win his only two world titles with the Renault team in 2005 and 2006. He still retains ties with Alonso, whose career he had helped manage.
The billionaire club has had sixty members of staff have tested positive for Coronavirus. Briatore has recently participated in a friendly soccer match there with VIPs, including Bologna coach Sinisa Mihajlovic, who also tested positive for Coronavirus.
Vettel not intending to hire a manager
Sebastian Vettel has no intention of hiring a manager, despite the uncertainty surrounding his F1 future. Since the announcement in May that his Ferrari contract would not be renewed there has been speculation about whether he will continue in F1 or not.
His options appear limited, with Aston Martin appearing to be his only option, despite Sergio Perez insisting that he will not give way. Vettel has elected to run his own affairs and has previously relied on support from trusted individuals like Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko.
He got to know Marko well when he was part of Red Bull’s young driver programme and helped deliver a race win for Toro Rosso and titles for Red Bull Racing. His only advisor appears to be his press officer Britta Roeske and his legal team.
Speaking about comments made by Ralf Schumacher, who suggested that Vettel get a manager, Vettel said, “Maybe it helps here and there. [But] I think this is the path I have always taken. Some people come and go. There are a lot of people who pat you on the back, and a few weeks later the same people are criticising you.”
“I have always been… I do not want to say alone as, of course, you have people around you who support you. But I think that more important than perhaps creating public opinion is that you know which people you can trust and with whom you can build upon.”
Vettel says he has a good environment and is still in good spirits, despite what is been speculated in the media.
“difficult” return to Spa a year on from Hubert’s death
Charles Leclerc says returning to the Belgian Grand Prix a year after the death of friend Anthoine Hubert will be difficult. Hubert was killed during last years Formula Two race at Spa following a high-speed crash.
The loss deeply affected many of the F1 drivers, who had to confront their own mortality in a way many had not experienced before. For many, it was the first driver fatally during a Grand Prix weekend since Imola in 1994 when Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger were killed.
Also, since Jules Bianchi died from injuries nine months after the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.
Leclerc told BBC News, “Spa-Francorchamps has a special place in my heart. While it is here that I took my first win, it is also where we lost our friend Anthoine last year. He will be in our thoughts.”
The whole paddock was shaken by the incident, for many the first time they had come face to face their own mortality in a way many had not experienced before.
Pierre Gasly, added, “Spa is my favourite track and racing through all those high-speed corners is a great thrill. I really enjoy driving it and have had great races there in the past.”
“However, this year, returning to Belgium will also be a sad moment, because it is just one year ago that Anthoine lost his life after that terrible accident in the F2 race in Spa.”
This weekend marks the first anniversary of the accident.
Hamilton calls for better tyres
Lewis Hamilton has called on tyre supplier Pirelli to provide better tyres from 2022. The Italian manufacturer has been the sole tyre supplier since 2011, a period which has been characterised by high levels of tyre degradation.
The aim has been to create races with multiple pit stops and varying strategies, but the reality has often seen drivers lapping several seconds off the pace to manage their tyres and ensure a one-stop strategy.
In theory, races with high levels of tyre degradation should create differences in performance between cars leading to overtaking, but drivers often complain that they cannot attack the car in front as they need to look after their tyres.
The last three races have been characterised by tyre wear, with the six-times champion calling on Pirelli to change its approach from 2022 onwards when F1 will introduce wide-ranging rule changes.
He told ESPN, “Moving forward, probably not for next year, but for 2022, we need a better tyre. A tyre that gives us more grip, better safety, a key matter there, and enables us to drive closer to other cars and give the fans better racing.”
“Right now we are doing a serious amount of [tyre] management today, and I don’t think that’s what the fans want. Managing for multiple seconds behind another car, that’s not good enough We want to help Pirelli to make a better tyre if they can. And that’s obviously the question.”
In the Abu Dhabi test last year the teams and drivers complained that the tyres intended to be used this year were a step backwards, which is why the 2019 tyres were carried over to this year.
Hamilton believes part of F1’s tyre problem is rooted in the target letter and hopes F1 and Pirelli will listen to the drivers on how to change the tyres for 2022.
“I think moving forward we really need to put a lot of pressure on Pirelli for the future. Unfortunately, they didn’t do a great job at the end of last year to develop the 2020 tyre, so, unfortunately, we had to carry this tyre, the same as 2019, over into this season.” He added.
Verstappen “annihilating” teammates
Jenson Button believes that Max Verstappen is “annihilating” teammates not seen since the likes of Ayrton Senna or Michael Schumacher. The Dutchman has not been beaten by a teammate since making his debut in 2015.
The Dutchman hasn’t been beaten by a teammate in the F1 standings since he was paired with Daniel Ricciardo in May 2016, and even then Verstappen out-qualified the Australian 13-7.
That qualifying balance blew out to 15-5 in Verstappen’s favour the following season, while Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon were only able to outqualify Verstappen once each during the 2019 season. In the first six races this season, he has out-qualified and finished ahead of teammate Alex Albon.
Button believes that is impressive, with the 2009 world champion telling the In the Fast Lane podcast that it reminds him of greats Senna and Schumacher.
Button said, “You compare him to his teammates the last two years, he has just annihilated them. I haven’t seen that in motorsport for a very long time, probably back to the Ayrton Senna days, and Michael Schumacher days.”
“I don’t think there’s been a driver that’s annihilated their teammate like he has in a very long time. He is doing an exceptional job. I would love to see him go up against Lewis [Hamilton] in a championship fight. Those two, top of their game, it’s what we all want to see. Is it ever going to happen? I don’t know.”
Button says that the lack of competition from the other side of the garage isn’t necessarily a positive, as it doesn’t help Verstappen that his teammate is a second off.