Ferrari makes a fresh attempt with an upgrade package
Ferrari is to try a fresh attempt at getting their upgrade package to work at the Austrian Grand Prix, as they bid to close the gap to Mercedes.
Sebastian Vettel suggested the team had “failed” to achieve their main goal of making “significant” inroads into their rivals’ advantage last weekend in France, where they finished third and fifth, after not racing all of their latest development parts.
The team will use Friday’s practice session at the Red Bull Ring to run further “test items” to try to allow them to get the best out of the car. Team principal, Mattia Binotto told Sky Sports “We are happy to be getting back on track so quickly because it’s the best way to put ourselves to the test again to try and understand the elements that did not go according to plan in France.”
“We have various test items to evaluate, mainly in order to give us a clearer picture as to why some of the updates we brought to Le Castellet did not work as expected.” Following last weekends race at Paul Ricard, he explained that not all the upgrades worked.
Binotto admitted that the team has homework to do, but the car has shown marginal improvement and shows that they are going in the right direction. He says that the team has struggled with grip in the corners and that Ferrari is ready to compromise some of the SF90’s standout straight-line speed traits.
He added “We are looking for, eventually, more downforce to the determinant of the speed. The car will not be too efficient but giving more downforce to get the tyres working, that will be the direction to go.”
Red Bull needs improvements “everywhere”
Red Bull has admitted they need to make improvements “everywhere” if they are going to gain on their rivals, as Max Verstappen claims he is lacking grip from the chassis as well as top speed from the engine.
The four times champions headed into the season full of optimism, hoping that more power from their new engine suppliers would help them build on a car that was arguably the strongest on the grid last year.
However, nine races into the season they have not won a race as Mercedes dominance continues only managing two podiums and a best finish of third.
Team principal Christian Horner told Sky Sports, “We are missing two or three tenths”. Asked if they were losing time with their chassis or engine, Horner replied “Everywhere.”
Although the team has regularly battled the underperforming Ferrari’s this season, they are still much slower on the straights while Mercedes continue to dominate the campaign.
Verstappen, one of the season’s most impressive and consistent performers, said he got the maximum from his race at Paul Ricard, where he held off Sebastian Vettel but failed to trouble the top three.
The Dutchman said after the race, “Every driver would like more grip, but at the moment it’s not only grip it’s also top speed. You could see on the first lap [in France] that it was difficult to attack but also difficult to defend. We have to work on both sides to make a step up.”
Verstappen insists that Red Bull doesn’t a “fundamental problem”, but also that he expected more from Honda’s upgraded engine. Believing that Honda’s upgrade was not enough to keep up with the other manufacturers.
Verstappen also says that the new regulations for 2019 have helped Red Bull. Explaining “We were really good at controlling everything that was happening with the front wing last year, and the year before.”
“So they took a bit more of our strength away. We have to fine-tune around it.” He says that maybe they have not optimised it and they were trying to get back on top of it.
Asked if he can secure another surprise Austria win in front of the infamous sea of orange in the stands, he isn’t expecting “miracles”.
Renault is as fast as McLaren
Renault’s F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul claims the works team was as fast as McLaren at the French Grand Prix, despite losing out to the customer team.
McLaren had their best qualifying in recent years at Paul Ricard, Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz qualified fifth and sixth, while Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg started eighth and thirteenth, the latter handicapped by a technical issue in Q2.
In the race, Sainz won the battle finishing sixth ahead of Ricciardo, who dropped out of the points because of penalties for last lap incidents. Abiteboul stressed that his team lost the battle with McLaren in qualifying and was potentially faster in race trim.
Abiteboul told Motorsport.com, “It’s an OK result, being in the points is good, but we are targeting more points than that. We’ve seen that we are just as quick if not quicker than McLaren when not held back.”
“But obviously McLaren was so much faster in qualifying, and that’s what matters the most in current F1. On different compounds and on the longer runs we are much more competitive against them and the rest of the field.” He says that will be the focus in Spielberg where the circuit which is damaging to its tyres.
The Frenchman praised McLaren, who he described as a good brand, and car maker showing what is possible on the chassis. Abiteboul says “They are our partner and customer team, so their success is also coming from our contribution. That’s good and positive, and it’s also showing on the chassis side what’s possible”
The Renault McLaren battle is shaping up to be one of the stories of the second half of the season.
Paul Ricard worst weekend for Haas
Haas has had extreme highs and lows in its three and a half years in Formula One, but team principal Gunther Steiner has described last weekend’s French Grand Prix as the worst weekend in their history.
The American team has only scored three out of eight races so far this season, but have been regulars in Q3 given the pace of their car over a single lap. One of the team’s problems has been the difficulty to get the tyres into the right operating window.
Speaking to F1.com, Steiner said “In the race, we still struggled. I don’t know why. What is bizarre to me is that a car that was good enough to qualify seventh and eighth in the first race and then sixth in Monte Carlo, all of a sudden we are second last.”
“Don’t ask me what it is, I don’t know. So don’t even ask me, please, because I couldn’t answer it. We need to find out and it’s very disappointing to be honest, ending up in this situation but not having an understanding of it is the worst of all.”
He said the situation was worst than Montréal and they were lucky even to get one car out of Q1. While in Monaco the team qualified sixth where they struggled with the slow race place, Steiner described the situation as very bizarre.
Haas is yet to provide answers for these wild fluctuations in their form, they are working hard to understand why. He believes that it’s a challenge of getting out of the current situation, and they need to understand the situation to move forward.
Silverstone could hold July testing
Silverstone could hold one of the in-season tests next season, should the British Grand Prix remain on the calendar. At a meeting in Paul Ricard, the teams discussed possible venues for the two tests, which have to take place on the Tuesday and Wednesday after a race weekend.
Bahrain is almost certain to remain the venue for the first in-season test, while the first, second and fourth tests normally held in Barcelona remain in doubt as the race is likely to be dropped next season. However, it is likely to hold pre-season tests.
There are few options for the test, which has to take place in Europe, before the summer break, at a venue the teams approve, and after a race which is not the first part of a double-header.
Silverstone is one of the possible venues, however, the unpredictable British weather is one of the downsides, and that all depends on whether a deal can be agreed to keep the British Grand Prix on the calendar.
Silverstone managing director, Stuart Pringle told Motorsport.com, “I have not heard about a test but we’d be keen to hold it. Clearly, they won’t test with us if we don’t have a contract, and that’s still the case.”
Bahrain was also considered seriously, however that has been ruled out on logistical and cost issues, especially for the smaller teams, caused the idea to be dropped.