FRIC Ban – not reason why Red Bull trailed behind
Red Bull insists that the ban on the use of the trick suspension systems was not the reason it was trailing Ferrari and Mercedes at the Australian Grand Prix.
Both Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo were around half a second off the pace of Ferrari and Mercedes during the race, the team struggles with set-up and the lay of power from the Renault power unit.
Also, the FIA before testing clampdown on sophisticated suspension systems that meant that Mercedes and Red Bull had to remove concepts they had been evaluating for 2017. When asked, if the clamp down had proved costly for his squad because it had a more sophisticated device, he said “I don’t believe so.
He told Autosport “The suspension system that was outlawed was something that we looked to develop over the winter. And, to be honest with you, even if we had the ability to run it, it wouldn’t earn a place on the car because of the weight involved.”
“We are running effectively as we’ve run in previous seasons.” Ricciardo had a difficult home race. In qualifying, he crashed in Q2, he had a gearbox sensor issue and then a terminal fuel cell problem – Verstappen could manage no better than fifth.
That was a disappointing start to a year with Red Bull are tipped to emerge as the main threat to Mercedes. Horner remains hopeful that the margin can be closed down quickly.
He added, “We definitely had the third quickest car here and we’ve got to find a good half a second to get into that fight with the cars ahead.”
John Surtees laid to rest
The funeral of John Surtees has taken place on Tuesday attended by family and the whole paddock. The 83-year old who is the only man to win the Formula One and Moto GP titles, died earlier this month.
More than 300 people attended his funeral service at Worth Abbey in West Sussex, among them Nigel Mansell and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
An emotional Mansell told Sky Sports “John was a consummate professional, a gentleman, an incredible champion on two and four wheels and a gentle, massive giant.”
“When you spoke to him he was so unassuming you actually forgot he was the champion he was. I found him awesome, but he was a friend. He was an awesome friend.”
Horner says it was “a great shame” Surtees’ sporting achievements and charity work, after the death of his son Henry in a Brands Hatch accident in 2009, had not brought a knighthood.
Read obituary here
News In Brief
Liberty should buy circuits – The promoter of the United States Grand Prix says the sports new owners Liberty Media, should buy some circuits as part of their long-term strategic plans for the sport.
He says “I do think it makes a lot of sense for them to own some circuits. It would have to be part of any long-term strategy for them.”
Difficult to impress – Stoffel Vandoorne has admitted it is difficult for him to show what he is capable of while McLaren-Honda remains not competitive.
The Belgian had most of the problems in Melbourne and retired from the race. However, says “I think I more or less got the most out of [the car].”
Driving at my best – Fernando Alonso believes he is currently driving better now than at any point in his career, but says it is “really disappointing” he does not have the car to challenge for points or podiums.
When asked in Melbourne if he could take any positives from the race, he told ESPN “Not many. I think I feel very well prepared. I feel I’m driving at my best in my career.”
Red Bull hope to fight Mercedes and Ferrari
Red Bull Helmut Marko says he is hopeful that the planned massive upgrade by supplier Renault which is due for the Canadian Grand Prix, will allow them to fight with Mercedes and Ferrari.
The team was expected to be the team most likely to challenge Mercedes, but it was a tough opening race. Max Verstappen start the race fifth, 1.2 seconds down on Mercedes and in the race he couldn’t improve on his place and was 28.8 seconds off Sebastian Vettel.
Marko says the team is hoping for improvements in Barcelona in May, with a bigger step the following month in Montreal. He told Motorsport.com “There’s a lot of work to do. The race speed makes us think positively. But from our side, there is a lot to do, and Renault’s side as well.”
Asked if the Renault upgrades would be enough to move his team up the order, Marko said: “We hope so if we improve our chassis dramatically as well. Our engineers think so, and the simulations say so, also.”
Wrong to think to overtake more difficult
Valtteri Bottas says it’s wrong to think that this season’s regulation changes have made overtaking impossible after just one Grand Prix, insisting some tracks will throw up good racing.
Last weekend’s opening race in Melbourne saw very little overtaking with Renaults Nico Hulkenberg to say passing was “almost impossible” given the dirty air. However, Albert Park has always been a circuit where historically it has been hard to overtake.
FIA President Jean Todt suggested it was a price worth paying for the quicker cars. Bottas believes that this will not be a thing repeated in Shanghai with its long straight, will be a totally different story.
Asked by Autosport whether he felt overtaking being harder in Australia was down to the track or rules, Bottas said: “I think in general it will be a little more difficult, but it’ll depend on tracks.
“So some places we will see good racing and some places like Barcelona it will be very difficult to overtake. Let’s wait a few more races and see how the racing goes, but obviously [Australia] was more tricky than last year.”
Bottas says the expectation of more overtaking because of the regulation changes was wrong as the regulations make following more difficult. But Kimi Raikkonen says lapping cars had proved to be a bit easier, saying “I think the lapping, I must say, it felt more easy.”
Wehrlein should be praised, not criticised – Kaltenborn
Sauber’s team principal Monisha Kaltenborn, says that the criticism by the press following Pascal Wehrlein’s decision to withdraw from the Australian Grand Prix on fitness grounds “awful” and “appalling”.
Wehrlein withdrew from the race following practice on Friday because he had concerns over his fitness after he suffered a back injury in January’s Race of Champions.
The German sat out the first test but realised on Friday that he wasn’t fit enough for racing. This then faced criticism for his decision, but she says that his decision to stand down should be praised, not criticised.
Kaltenborn told Motorsport.com “He just needs time. I think it is really awful how people think they have any sort of competence to say anything about him.”
“They just have their weird views from wherever they come and have no authority at all to judge over anyone. I think it is rather appalling how people think they can judge this and they should look at themselves first.”
Kaltenborn says it takes ambition to openly admit ‘in these circumstances, I cannot cover the entire race distance.’ she appreciates his openness and honesty with this, adding “which is not easy to maintain with the kind of pressure these guys have.
Wehrlien is not to seek a specialist between now and the Shanghai race because his fitness would improve sufficiently in the interim for the team not to be concerned.
Kidnapping Enzo Ferrari
Italian police have uncovered and foiled a plot, to kidnap the body of the Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari. Ferrari founded the company in the early 1900’s and died in 1988, after building a car giant.
Police in Sardinia told a news conference the gang had planned to demand a ransom from the Ferrari family or company after spiriting away the body.
Thirty people have ban arrested this week from the Anonima Sequestri, a Sardinian criminal organisation that has a history of kidnap-for-ransom crimes
They gave no further details about the plot but said it was discovered during an investigation into arms and drug trafficking that led to a number of arrests.