Riccardo denies signing pre-contract with Ferrari
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo has categorically denied reports that he has signed any agreement with Ferrari to join the team for 2019. The Australian is out of contract at the end of the season and has been linked to both Mercedes and Ferrari.
Speaking in the press conference ahead of this weekends Azerbaijan Grand Prix, he said “That’s not true, I can say that. I’ve only had talks with Red Bull. Even last year we had been pretty open with each other. They are interested in keeping me and we have had some talks regarding that.”
Earlier this week, Red Bull boss Christian Horner said that the team wants Ricciardo to decide his future by August, while Ricciardo has said he wants to wait to see what car may give him the best world championship-winning opportunity.The Australian also insisted he would not move to a team where he would be a number two driver.
“If it got to that stage and I was in those discussions, I wouldn’t sign up for anything where I’m not able to win. The only reason why I would, if I did, move on is to try is to try and win. That’s all I want to do. I would be aware of all those things going on.”
He added “Wherever I may be or go, I will always make sure that there was some clarity.” He says also that he doesn’t want to be a number two driver and that at Red Bull they have always been open and honest with him. Adding “It has been a nice environment and I would expect that environment everywhere.”
Goss removed as chief technical officer
BBC News understands that McLaren has removed chief technical officer Tim Gross from the post. The move comes after McLaren showed poor pace in the first three races of the season despite the switch to Renault.
A spokesman declined to comment on the reports that Goss would be moving from the role as one of their three most senior F1 engineers.
But the spokesman said McLaren was “undergoing a review of its technical operations as part of its programme to return the team to success.”
“This is a proactive, ongoing process that addresses a broad range of factors across the organisation. More details will be given in due course. Until that time there will be no further comment.” Goss has been at McLaren for nearly thirty years.
He has been part of the chassis team and had oversight of the team’s chassis alongside chief technical officer, specialising in aerodynamics Peter Prodromou, and chief engineering officer Matt Morris.
Fernando Alonso may have scored more points than last year in three races, but the team remain short of their target of challenging Red Bull who also run the same engine.
McLaren claimed over the past few years that they had one of the best chassis in F1 and their belief that the Honda engine was the only thing holding them back. However, they have struggled to get into Q3 so far this season.
The underperformance means that McLaren has realised that they have a wider problem within the design department. This is the first major reshuffle since Zak Brown was appointed CEO of the team, following a reorganisation of the group earlier this month.
It is not impossible that other changes could follow in the coming weeks, but this could depend on the performance of the car at the Spanish Grand Prix when a major upgrade package is being introduced. Among the changes will be a new nose design.
Verstappen appreciated Vettel’s reaction to his apology
Max Verstappen says he appreciated Sebastian Vettel’s reaction to his apology for their collision at the Chinese Grand Prix. The Dutchman sought Vettel out in the Shanghai paddock immediately after the race having rammed into the side of the German’s Ferrari after locking up.
Speaking ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Verstappen said “It was obvious that I had to apologise to Seb so that is what I did. He was very nice about it so that was good.”
Before that accident the German looked as if he could have extended his lead at the top of the championship, however, the accident meant he had to limp home and resulted in his lead being cut.
Vettel told Sky Sports “I was lucky to continue and the fact that he came straight after the race, I appreciated it. I told him as well, ‘Look, this was your race to win and you didn’t so you need to ask yourself what happened’.”
“He took me out on the way as a consequence as well but ultimately nobody wants to take themselves out.”
Verstappen has accepted his desire to win had probably got the better of him in the closing stages when his Red Bull was on fresher tyres compared to the Mercedes and Ferrari cars ahead of him.
Hamilton not concerned about not winning
Lewis Hamilton says that he is not concerned by the fact he hasn’t won a race so far this season. The Mercedes driver is currently nine points behind his Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel and is yet to win a Grand Prix this season.
Speaking ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the four times champion says he was “refreshed” after spending time at a music festival in California.
He told BBC News, “It’s only been three races. We would like to have won races but it has been a learning process. We know it’s a three-way battle. It is not going to be easy and it requires a lot of work to perform at our best.”
“I needed to switch off and spend some time with friends,” he said. “I had a great weekend – a lot of travelling but that’s what I do. I get back in the car feeling refreshed, feeling like it is not a new start but it is coming back and reset.”
Hamilton has already admitted that the team was having difficulties getting the tyres in the correct operating window but says the “whole” team are up for the challenge.
Speaking about this weekend, he believes that Ferrari and Red Bull will quick again like they were last year, saying he still believes that Mercedes can challenge them.
Stroll says push on downforce eliminates straight line speed
Williams drivers Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin say that the teams push to create more downforce has eliminated the team’s straight line speed without making enough gains in the corners.
The British team took a more aggressive philosophy when it came to designing this years car, however that has resulted in the team not scoring points in the first three races. The team in Shanghai fell to the bottom of the speed trap figures, which they topped last season.
The Russian told Motorsport.com “This year the ideology changed a little bit. Nobody was, of course, planning to completely flip this balance, but we wanted to move it to maybe a bit 50-50.”
“I won’t say that we were really planning to lose on the straights, but we knew ahead of time and were expecting that we wouldn’t be the fastest.”
Lance Stroll said “we’ve lost a good chunk in our strong point and we haven’t gained enough in our weak point”, adding: “We don’t have the handling benefits that we were looking for of the direction change that we made over the winter.”
Both drivers have agreed that entry stability is the biggest weakness when cornering, along with other issues with handling.
The Weekend Ahead
Mercedes need to have a really strong weekend as they have been unable to deliver the results we expected in the first three races. Baku is a difficult circuit to get close and overtaking may be difficult, the city is known as ‘the fastest street circuit in the world.’
Mercedes know that this weekend that they need a good weekend as they have one there longest spell without a win. If Mercedes still have some of that straight line performance that could help. At the moment, Baku remains slightly unpredictable as we don’t have a trend, only Mercedes and Red Bull have won here.
You need to be wary and being on track at the right time could be important because both qualifyings have been interrupted by red flags. Talking points away from the track, I feel will continue to be regulation changes and Max Verstappen, who needs a good weekend after his difficult and messy start to the season.
Formula One Vault will bring you LIVE and full coverage of the Azerbajian Grand Prix from 09:45 UKT on Friday with first practice on our LIVE Twitter account @F1VaultLive. We will bring you race coverage from 12:40 on Sunday with the race starting at 13:10 UK Time.