Anything’s possible – Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton says that anything is possible in the last three races which he has called his “three FA Cup finals” in the closing month of F1’s title battle. The world champion needs his team-mate Nico Rosberg to have two bad races and be out of the points.
Rosberg could take the champion if he wins on Sunday and Hamilton fails to finish in the points. Hamilton took is first win since July in Austin and says he has retained a “positive mentality” amid the ups and downs of recent months.
Hamilton told Sky Sports “So I’ve still continued to keep a positive frame of mind – I’ve got to. There are still points available, anything is possible. The moment you give up that’s the moment you’re doomed. I’ve never given up in my life and I don’t plan on doing.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner labelled Hamilton’s task as “three FA Cup finals.” Saying “He’s just got to win all three races and then what happens with the other car he can’t control.”
The British driver has claimed two of his titles in the final race, however he has never done that from this far behind in the standings at this stage of the season. But Sebastian Vettel turned hid defect in this stage around to take the title in 2010.
Hamilton nearly managed it in his debut season – if you recalculate to the current points system – to turn a 37 point defect to a point defect at the final race in 2007. However, he is not banking on history repeating and is going to keep pushing. He said “There have been times where it’s been dead certain already, and there have been times where it has flipped.”
Allison’s departure has no detrimental impact
Sebastian Vettel has confidence that the mid-season departure of Ferrari’s technical director James Allison will not have a detrimental impact on development of the team’s 2017 car.
Allison left the team on the eve of the German Grand Prix after three years with the team with Mattia Binotto moving from his role as engine boss to become chief technical officer. Ferrari’s head of race activities Jock Clear said at the time the team would have to “work hard to cover the gaps” created by Allison’s departure.
Vettel said the news of the departure of Allison was tough to take, but the German does not believe it will throw development of Ferrari’s 2017 car. He says the development started early and it wasn’t easy for the team to digest.
Ferrari started 2016 with hopes of challenging Mercedes, on the back of a vastly-improved ’15 season in which Vettel won three races. But has failed with a so far winless year and falling to third behind Red Bull. Vettel admits this season has been inconsistent but insisted Ferrari is in a better place than when he joined from Red Bull at the end of 2014.
“You will always get measured by what you achieve on the day. We’ve had some good days this year, we’ve had some not so good days. It’s part of the game.”
Extra pressure for Palmer
Renault’s signing of Nico Hulkenberg has added “an extra element” to his battles with current team-mate Kevin Magnussen says Jolyon Palmer. A few weeks ago it was announced that Hulkenberg will join the team next year.
Palmer told Autosport “Fighting your team-mate is quite tense for the battle for next year. There’s probably an extra element between the two of us to finish ahead.”
“I’m still pushing to show the best I can and hopefully that’s for Renault [next year], if not then I need to show the best I can for everyone else. There’s a lot to play for. I hope it’s not too late.”
Palmer says that he was disappointed that Renault didn’t issue team orders to let him pass Magnussen and says he has shown himself to be much stronger since the middle of the season. Saying “my performances have been much stronger. Every weekend now I’m right there, and the race pace is much stronger. I’m showing everything I can, and I hope it’s enough.”
He said he has been pleased with his qualifying being on a good run and the pace in the last three races has been good.
Kio partners Toro Rosso
Toro Rosso has announced that Mexican IT company KIO will be partnering the team from this weekend Mexican Grand Prix.
Team principal Franz Tost said “Last year’s Mexican Grand Prix proved to be a great success, providing an amazing show. It’s a real pleasure to welcome KIO Networks on board for this race on their home soil, establishing a good new connection with such a high profile IT company.”
CEO of Kio Sergio Rosengaus said “We are very happy to join forces with Scuderia Toro Rosso, with whom we share the passion for technology, innovation, IT and its high-level performance. We are happy to be associated with a team that, as KIO Networks itself, is daring, challenging and fun.”
Canada looking for compromise
Organisers of the Canadian Grand Prix are confident they can get a compromise deal in the next few weeks to keep the race on the calendar next year.
Montreal is due to hold the race in June but has only been marked as provisional because it’s understood that it’s behind with the revamp of facilities – including the paddock, control tower and medical centre – would be finished by next year. This has been delayed until 2019.
This means they may need to renegotiate their contract Bernie Ecclestone and FIA president Jean Todt. They meet in Austin last week where race promoter Francois Dumontier said he was confident matters were heading in the right direction.
Dumontier told Motorsport.com “It is now being discussed between the mayor’s office and Ecclestone. I’m pretty confident that they can reach an agreement that will remove the [to be confirmed] ‘asterix’ from our race.”
“There is a proposal to delay the completion of the work until 2019, and if we get agreement on that then we should be fine.” The race should be sorted by the end of the post season tyre test in Abu Dhabi when the FIA is expected to finalise the 2017 calendar.
Ecclestone on collision course with drivers
Berine Ecclestone has suggested that there should be more walls at corners to make the sport more dangerous. Ecclestone’s comments are likely to put himself on a collision course with the drivers and the FIA who want to continue the drive for more safety – which he has accepted.
Ecclestone told Sky Sports “I’ve been criticised probably by everybody because I wanted to build 40cm walls around the corners.”
“In those [the old] days, and it can’t happen again, people would come to a race and think somebody could get killed.” The quest for safety dates back to Imola in 1994, where Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna where killed. In recent years since the death Jules Bianchi caused by injuries sustained during the 2014 Japanese GP.
Ecclestone said that Fernando Alonso’s dramatic crash at the season-opening Australian GP as another reason to consider change. “What Fernando had in Australia … you wouldn’t think he was going to walk away” said Ecclestone.
Nico Rosberg told the press conference “we should look at other areas before we start turning back the time in safety terms.” With Carlos Sainz adding “we should look at ways of losing time if you go off.”
No pressure for pay driver – Fernley
Force India say there is no pressure for them to replace Nico Hulkenberg with a pay driver next season. The team looked set to retain both Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez before the German announced he was joining Renault.
It is believed that Manor’s Esteban Ocon is favourite to replace him if Mercedes want to give him a better seat. Ocon was also the teams reserve driver and has links to Renault too. Others being free are Renault Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen and Sauber pair Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson, who says he would be “stupid” not to look at the drive.
Speaking to Autosport the teams Deputy Team Principal Bob Fernley said “all of the above” were in consideration, when raised.
“the bottom line is it’s Vijay’s [Mallya] decision and we won’t discuss and review it until we can get back [from the Mexican GP] and sit down with him, us speculating has no impact because at the end it’s what he says.”
Fernley added the team’s financial situation is strong enough that a driver with considerable sponsorship is not a necessity. He said “You are never going to turn away talent that has support with it.”
50/50 chance of return – Haryanto
Manor driver Rio Haryanto says there is a 50/50 chance he will return to a race seat next season. Haryanto lost his seat to Esteban Ocon during the summer break after failing to raise the funds to complete the year.
He instead took on the role of Manor’s reserve driver, and is now working towards a race seat for 2017. Haryanto told Motorsport.com “It’s a shame that I couldn’t do the full season with Manor this year, but all in all, I’m still here to learn. It’s going very well and I’m currently working to get back for next year, for sure.
“There are some good options. I think the chances are still, I’d say, 50/50. We’ll see, I hope there will be some good news coming.” When asked if he was looking at other teams he says there is a number of options but F1 remains his main priority.