“no concern” over Hamilton’s future
Mercedes F1 CEO and team principal Toto Wolff has “no concern” about Lewis Hamilton re-signing to stay with the team next season. Hamilton is yet to sign a new contract with Mercedes and has yet to start talks with Wolff over a new deal.
The Englishman broke Michael Schumacher’s ninety-one wins in Portimão on Sunday, making it mathematically possible for him to seal a seventh world title in Istanbul or Bahrain.
He said before the race in Portugal that he does want to stay with Mercedes but that “there are many questions to answer” about the detail of the contract. One of the issues delaying the formal talks is the pandemic, he doesn’t want to risk missing races by catching the coronavirus which could see him lose the championship.
Wolff said he had been in Monaco, where Hamilton lives, before the race in Portugal but had decided it was too big a risk to hold a meeting. He told BBC News, “Where we stand today is that everybody has the will to continue. The situation is very simple, and I know there are some conspiracy theories in F1, but with Lewis and I, we are living like hermits and our team is particularly disciplined.”
“We have another 11 cars for our staff, we are not allowing more than two people to have dinner together, the seven or eight system-relevant people are not allowed socialise with each other and the drivers are most exposed.”
“I was in Monaco last week and we decided not to meet because the worst that could happen is that me dragging corona into our meeting,” Wolff says that there hasn’t been time to talk and concentrate on a deal.
He also praised Hamilton for his continues development, saying that the six-time champion who joined Mercedes in 2013 was a totally different person from today.
“Incredible” achievement for Hamilton – Verstappen
Max Verstappen believes the “incredible” Lewis Hamilton will continue to raise the bar in F1, saying it is now “pushing me to go until I’m forty,” to match those records.
Hamilton became the most successful F1 driver of all time, in terms of race wins on Sunday by claiming a 92nd victory with a typically dominant display at the Portuguese Grand Prix. He now chases a seventh title which mathematically can happen in Istanbul in mid-November.
Hamilton’s natural successor is seen as Verstappen, who paid a fulsome tribute to his main rival’s achievements, while also insisting they will take some beating.
Saying “Lewis says he keeps pushing because he wants to set it very high. Yeah, I have to work hard to try to get there! It’s amazing. What can you say? It’s just incredible. An incredible achievement. Ninety-two victories and I don’t think it stops there. It will go well over 100.”
The six-times champion has yet to sign a new Mercedes contract for 2021, shows no sign of wanting to leave, or slowing down.
Verstappen believes what appears to Hamilton’s ‘seemingly nailed-on record-equalling’ seventh F1 world title was also “very impressive”, added: “Everybody knows he’s very quick but what has also been a very strong point is that he’s also very consistent and very rarely makes a mistake. That’s why I think also he got to this number so quick”
The Dutchman only twenty-two certainly has time on his side, he has already won more races than Hamilton at hat age. Although records are currently a distant dream with Red Bull unable to match Mercedes. Verstappen, however, says that even if he doesn’t reach that level, as long as he gets the feeling, he got the most out of his career.
Norris apologies for “stupid and careless” comments
Lando Norris has issued an apology on social media for “stupid and careless” comments made over the Portuguese Grand Prix weekend about Lewis Hamilton and Lance Stroll.
Norris hit out at Stroll following their clash early in Sunday’s race at Portimao that left the McLaren driver with damage, ending his hopes of scoring points.
Following a similar incident involving the Canadian with Max Verstappen during practice, prompting Norris to say after the race: “He obviously didn’t learn from Friday, but he doesn’t seem to learn with anything he does. It happens a lot, so I just need to make sure I stay away.”
Norris had initially apologised on team radio during the cool-down lap about the expletives he used about Stroll in reaction to the incident. “I apologise for what I said about Lance, I shouldn’t have said the words I did, but just in the moment, I was annoyed,” he said.
Norris was later asked about fellow countryman Hamilton’s record-breaking 92nd F1 race win in the aftermath of Sunday’s race but faced criticism on social media for his comments.
He said following the race “I’m happy for him, nothing more It doesn’t mean anything to me really. He’s in a car which should win every race basically. He has to beat one or two other drivers, that’s it.”
On Twitter this morning Norris wrote “I owe an apology. I’ve been stupid and careless with some things I’ve said lately in media and interviews, and haven’t shown the respect I should have to certain people.”
“I’m not that kind of person, so know I should apologise to them but also everyone reading/listening. Sorry”
Norris finished down in 13th at Portimao as a result of the clash with Stroll that left him “just trying to survive”.
2021 calendar starts taking shape
Motorsport.com says the latest draft calendar for 2021 is set to see twenty-three races, with the Saudi Arabian and Dutch Grands Prix being moved to autumn dates.
The 2020 calendar was revised after thirteen races were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, F1 has been clear in its plan to run a calendar next season that is closer to normal. It is understood that teams were handed the draft calendar.
Despite earlier reports, its now believed both the Australian and Bahrain Grands Prix’s have been moved back a week to 19 – 21 and 28 – 29 of March.
A two-week gap will follow before the Chinese Grand Prix on 09 – 11 April, with the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix set to be held two weeks after that. The Dutch Grand Prix is to be postponed to September, running back to back with Spa and Monza.
Azerbaijan returns to a June slot paired again with the Canadian Grand Prix. The regular France, Austria, Britain and Hungary, the latter hosting the final race before the summer break on 1 August.
Singapore, Sochi and Suzuka retain their regular slots in mid-September to early-October with a final triple header. Before the double header in Austin and Mexico City.
The Brazilian Grand Prix is set to move to Rio de Janeiro for 2021, although the race is currently subject to pressure from environmental groups over the plans to build the circuit.
Saudi Arabia is to make its debut in November on a street circuit followed by Abu Dhabi.
So far there has been no confirmed back up plan, as concerns about the viability of some events due to the uncertain nature of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, F1 has not officially informed teams of any potential back-up races as it hopes to stick to the planned schedule.
Frustration on Perez’s reprimands
Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer has expressed his frustration after Sergio Perez received two reprimands over the Portuguese Grand Prix weekend.
The Mexican will get a ten-place grid penalty if he gets a third in the course of this season, and Szafnauer says that the Mexican will now have to “drive like a saint” in the remaining five races. The first was awarded for blocking Pierre Gasly in Q2 at Portimao and was then given a second for a blocking incident with the same driver in the closing laps of the race.
Meanwhile, Max Verstappen escaped sanction after knocking Perez into a costly first lap spin, after Charles Leclerc also went unpunished after a similar first-lap clash with his Racing Point teammate Lance Stroll in Sochi.
Szafnauer speaking about the Gasly incident, he told Motorsport.com, “Sergio moved first, before Gasly did. Sergio is allowed to make that move in defence, you can’t move twice, but you’re allowed to move once. Gasly got out of the throttle. And there’s no contact.”
“So why the reprimand? On lap one Sergio is hit by Verstappen, who comes back onto the track after being off track, comes back on acutely in order to get his car in a position so he has grip again, and runs into Sergio, and they do nothing.”
Szafnauer says that Perez and Gasly didn’t touch, and If we start reprimanding drivers and punishing them for racing hard, but safely, where’s that going to take our sport
Concerning the Verstappen clash, he said: “That was a collision, right? So you’ve got to look at a collision. The Gasly/Sergio thing was not a collision. It was a good, hard defending, and you punish that?”
The German was also frustrated that Stroll was given a five-second time penalty in Portugal for causing a collision with Lando Norris. Saying the Canadian was faster than Norris, and it was a bit harsh, to give him a penalty.
Perez’s management fuelling rumours about future – Russell
George Russell has accused Sergio Perez’s management of fuelling rumours that he is going to be kicked out of Williams next year. The Englishman has a contract to drive for Williams in 2021, but stories ahead of the Portuguese Grand Prix suggested his position could come under threat from Perez.
Asked about the speculation, acting team principal Simon Roberts refusing to confirm Russell and current teammate Nicholas Latifi would remain at the team during a press conference on Friday.
Perez, who will lose his Racing Point drive to Sebastian Vettel next year, is also a contender for a Red Bull seat in 2021 if Alex Albon fails to justify his place at the team in remaining races.
Russell believes the rumours about his future are being fuelled by Perez’s management in order to gain leverage in their negotiations with Red Bull.
He told ESPN, “I think all of this speculation has probably been fed by the Perez camp, who are trying to apply pressure on other teams further down the grid, potentially [for] a Red Bull seat. That’s my view on it. I’ve got a contract, I’ve got nothing to worry about, and I’m just here focusing on my job.”
Russell’s contract was signed before the team was sold to Dorilton Capital, who are looking to make changes. He is managed by Williams’ engine supplier Mercedes as a young driver, said he had received assurances from Dorilton that his job is not under threat for 2021.
Adding “They’ve been here, I’ve spoken to then and they have said don’t worry and everything is going to be fine. We had a small chat about it and moved on to talk about the rest of this year, moving into next year and how we are going to push things forward. That’s enough for me.”
He says Roberts comments were taken slightly out of context, which is exactly what the team didn’t want to do.
Mercedes have confirmed, Russell would have a guaranteed reserve role at Mercedes if he missed out on a Williams seat in 2021.