Hamilton feels greater pressure this season
Lewis Hamilton says that the pressure of this year’s championship fight with Sebastian Vettel is greater than he has ever experienced before.
The Mercedes driver goes into this weekends Hungarian Grand Prix, seventeen points ahead of Vettel, after the German crashed out of his home Grand Prix while leading the race.
Hamilton told BBC News “The pressures are huge. The demands and the desires of myself and Sebastian are higher than ever. The pressure is higher than ever. I am not fazed by it. I am excited by it.”
That allowed Hamilton to take one of the greatest wins of his career and says that “I really work hard to position myself mentally and physically that I am the last to crack. It is not easy but I am happy with where it is right now.”
Last year, he says that the team reached the highest points in terms of pressure and that this year the smallest mistakes can be costly. Hamilton believes there is more pressure on the team to extract every millimetre.
Vettel didn’t talk to the media on Thursday, as Ferrari morn the loss of president Sergio Marchionne on Wednesday. four days after he was replaced as president and chief executive officer of Ferrari after becoming ill from complications following shoulder surgery.
Hamilton says that he expects that Ferrari and Red Bull will be stronger in Budapest. He says that the layout of the circuit is not favourable to Mercedes, “This is a really tough track, very hot, the way the corners are laid out has not in the past been good for our car package.”
“Our car likes to be on a more open circuit, more high-speed, downforce-dependency corners. This is mostly medium- and low-speed, so it will be interesting.”
Bottas denies being forced to support Hamilton
Valtteri Bottas has denied that he has been forced or will be forced to support his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton’s bid for a fifth world title, following the use of team orders at the German Grand Prix.
Following the late Safety Car period at Hockenheim, Bottas was able to challenge Hamilton to win, benefiting from his fresher tyres. Hamilton managed to fend Bottas off with the pair going side by side through most of the middle sector. Then Mercedes asked Bottas to hold position after allowing Hamilton to pass.
Asked by ESPN whether he’s still allowed to race his teammate in the second half of 2018, Bottas said: “I do believe we are still allowed to race freely. Obviously, it always is case by case but there’s no plan in place at the moment for me being at all in a support role. We are still on equal terms and that’s the plan for now.”
“Hopefully, it’ll continue until the end of the year. Back to what happened, I think with all the difficult races we had in the triple-header. kind of get the team’s position after lap one [after the late Safety Car period] we were side by side a couple of times and they wanted to get those points.”
Mercedes also used team orders in Budapest last year, Bottas let Hamilton through so he could attack the leading Ferrari’s but was required to give back the position, which he did after being unable to make an overtake.
Bottas says that the team will decide on a “case by case” bases, and it wasn’t guaranteed that it would happen again in identical situations.
Alonso gives backing to Vandoorne
Fernando Alonso has given his support to his McLaren teammate Stoffel Vandoorne amid his difficulties. The Belgian goes into this weekends Hungarian Grand Prix, with the team unable to resolve the issues with hamper him at Silverstone and Hockenheim.
Despite Vandoorne being a serial title winner in junior series and being in his second full season in F1, he is the only driver on the grid yet to out-qualify his team-mate this year after 11 rounds and scored his last points at the Azerbaijan GP in April.
However, two-time champion says that the former GP2 champion has already proved that he belongs in F1, and says Vandoorne will be closer when the team get to the bottom of the issues affecting his car. He told Sky Sports, “I don’t think it [Vandoorne’s reputation] is going down, the car is what it is.”
“In Silverstone, it was the same case, the car is underperforming. We as a team are trying to find the problem and to have both cars in the same condition and the same performance.”
“He’s shown his talent already. No need to prove [anything]. Being champion in every single series before Formula 1 and he arrives now in a difficult car with some difficulties last year and this year as well.” Alonso believes that when McLaren get on top of those issues that Vandoorne can deliver a normal performance.
Alonso has out qualified Vandoorne at sixteen consecutive races stretching back to Malaysia last September, but the Belgian’s average 2018 qualifying deficit to the two-time world champion had been a respectable 0.236 seconds.
But that gap grew to nine-tenths at Silverstone, which CEO Zak Brown has described as “unusual”.
Alonso believes that Vandoorne has generally proved closer to him on pace than a lot of his past team-mates – citing Kimi Raikkonen as a particular example.
Key set to move to McLaren
McLaren has announced that James Key is to join the team from Toro Rosso as Technical Director. He will take up the same post within the team once a period of ‘gardening leave’ has ended. It is not clear at this stage when Key will start his new role.
Morris was part of the technical team set up by former racing director Eric Boullier, but that team has been disbanded following Boullier’s departure earlier this month. Chief technical officer Tim Goss resigned in April.
McLaren has also announced that engineering director Matt Morris has resigned from his role, effective immediately.
Key’s appointment is part of s restructuring of the team, earlier this month, the team appointed Andrea Stella as performance director and former Indycar champion Gil de Ferran sporting director.
Key appointment as technical director is a change in the structure of the team, for years McLaren has spilt the role between different roles such as aero and chassis. But now an appointment of an overall technical director will be seen as further acknowledgement by the team that their previous structure was not working.
When they were partnered with Honda, McLaren believed that they could be at the same level as Red Bull. However, since the switch to Renault McLaren has seen them continently a second a lap slower than Red Bull, and behind the works Renault team.
Meanwhile, Toro Rosso, who switched from Renault to Honda, has remained in a similar competitive position this year to 2017, and Red Bull will drop Renault and switch to Honda in 2019, believing the Japanese company is a better long-term bet.
The Weekend Ahead
This weekend, we have the final race ahead of the summer break in Budapest. It is a circuit which should favour Ferrari and Red Bull because it’s the slowest circuit on the calendar and its about downforce rather than out right speed.
Red Bull and Ferrari should be stronger, Mercedes have already admitted that they are worried as we saw in Monaco and Montreal their car doesn’t perform well on this types of circuits. Ferrari need to maximise this following following Sebastian Vettel’s crashing out on Sunday.
Mercedes have openly admitted that this isn’t a race they expect to be strong. We have seen this already at places like Melbourne, Monaco and Montreal, there targets I feel are to be as close to Ferrari as possible.
There is going to be a sombre mood in the paddock and particularly at Ferrari, following the death yesterday of Sergio Marchionne. As of yet, we haven’t heard about an official minute silence before the national anthem.
But I expect the sport will be holding one, to avoid the controversy we had following the attack on Bataclan in 2014, when a long planned minute of silence for the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims was upheld rather than the Paris attacks.
Next week will be about the teams testing, I think this could be important for both Ferrari and Mercedes as this is the last in season test for the teams. Development war will heat up over the summer break, and this will be key for the teams for the second half of the year.
Formula One Vault will bring you LIVE and full coverage of the Hungarian Grand Prix from 09:45 UKT on Friday with first practice on our LIVE Twitter account @F1VaultLive. We will bring you race coverage from 13:40 on Sunday with the race starting at 14:10 UK Time. We will also bring you extensive coverage of next weeks Budapest test, which begins on Tuesday.