Mercedes considers support role for Bottas
Mercedes are going to discuss whether they should use Valtteri Bottas in a support role to help Lewis Hamilton’s bid for a fifth title, after this weekends Italian Grand Prix.
Currently, both Hamilton and Bottas share equal status within the team, unlike Sebastian Vettel who leads a drivers championship. But while both drivers mathematically remain in the title race, Hamilton remains his closest challenger.
Mercedes know that they will struggle to match Ferrari at some of the upcoming races, and they have admitted they could consider the use of team orders going forward.
When asked after the Belgian Grand Prix if now was the right time to install Bottas as number two, Mercedes F1 CEO Toto Wolff said: “I hate to do that. It is completely against my racing instinct. We try to be very neutral to both drivers and we haven’t done it yet, and we haven’t discussed it.”
“Let’s see how Monza pans out and how it goes, and then we will address the question whether we need to put all force behind one driver. And we owe it to the two men and F1 to not interfere into the racing.”
Wolff also admitted that the team is facing a number of ‘deficits’ in their fight with Ferrari, and says the teams’ current advantage will not be enough for a smooth run to the title.
Perez could return to McLaren
Sky Sports says it has learnt that Sergio Perez could return to McLaren as he is one of four drivers under consideration to partner Carlos Sainz next season.
The Mexican who has already indicated he is likely to remain with Force India, although it is understood that he has already had held discussions with the team. McLaren has declined to comment on the reports about Perez’s return.
Sky Sports understands the team’s shortlist is completed by Stoffel Vandoorne, who has driven for the team for the last two seasons, Perez’s Force India team-mate Esteban Ocon and British teenager Lando Norris.
Perez was dropped by McLaren in 2014, after a single season where he struggled to match his. Teammate Jenson Button. He was brought in from Sauber after Lewis Hamilton left the team for Mercedes. Since leaving McLaren he has been delivering results and last year finished seventh behind the top three teams.
McLaren has not hinted about who will partner Sainz, but its understood that Stoffel Vandoorne is facing an uncertain future as he has been unable to match his teammate Fernando Alonso. On Friday, Alonso sat out FP1, to allow Lando Norris to drive the McLaren.
The Bristolian is expected to be given another opportunity to impress this weekend in Friday practice at the Italian GP. Ocon, meanwhile, is believed to have had a seat fitting at McLaren during the summer break.
The Frenchman’s place is under threat at Force India following the buyout led by Lawrence Stroll, father of Williams driver Lance. However, rumours suggest that McLaren has ruled out a mid-season swap, as Ocon is too tall for the car.
The team were also liked to Kimi Raikkonen, however, Ferrari is expected to confirm a contract extension in the next few days.
Vettel confident of Ferrari home win
Sebastian Vettel has confidence that this years Ferrari can power the team to victory at the teams home Italian Grand Prix. The German’s win at Spa on Sunday has made the Italian team the favourites ahead of this weekend’s race at Monza.
Mercedes have dominated at Monza since the current engine regulations were introduced in 2014, taking four wins from four races. Meanwhile, Ferrari hasn’t won their home race since 2010 with Fernando Alonso.
Ferrari is believed to be in a much stronger position as it is believed that the team hold an edge on engine power. Vettel is hoping that the advantage of the package and power of the engine could power them to victory, as well as secure the long-term future of the race.
Vettel told ESPN, “I think we have a good car that seems to work everywhere. I don’t think the car was there right from the beginning of the season, but I think we’ve got it now to a point where it seems to work everywhere and we are competitive.
“So I hope it helps Monza to boost the race, I’m sure we will get a lot of support but I also hope it helps Monza stay on the calendar for a long time because I heard some rumours. I’m looking forward to going to Italy.”
Vettel says that the race is special and that their home race should be fun. The German described Monza as “an absolute highlight” and says “for us it’s a great race”
Adding “There are so many families and support from our own people there, but the main thing obviously is all the fans, the Ferrari fans. As much as I enjoyed the orange the last couple of races I hope that we will have red for a change and I’m pretty sure that we’ll beat the orange.”
Red Bull will not challenge in 2019 – Verstappen
Max Verstappen believes that Red Bull will not be able to challenge for next season when they switch to Honda. While the Dutchman has taken four victories since joining the team and including winning on his debut, he has not had a car which has been able to challenge for the title.
Next year, Red Bull are switching to Honda with the long-term hope of challenging for titles and get better results which they haven’t got with Renault in the current V6 hybrid era. However, the Japanese manufacturer has been off the pace since returning in 2015, with Verstappen believing Honda cannot make a big enough step for 2019.
Speaking to F1.com, Verstappen said “Everyone wants that, but in Formula One that’s a tricky thing. At first we will need to take some more steps, but hopefully, at the end, we will be close. The year after, we should be out in full force.”
Asked if next year would be a development year, Verstappen said “I think so, but in a positive way. We will, in any case, know what we will be getting and which steps are being taken.” This season Honda has delivered good results with Red Bull’s sister team Toro Rosso, Verstappen believes that now they are a serious candidate.
Adding “You very rarely see something get broken. The most important thing is that they want to take things to the limit. They have the means, which is very important if you want to take on the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes.”
Hockenheim reaches ‘principle’ deal for 2019
Liberty Media and organisers of the German Grand Prix have reached a deal for Hockenheim in principle to host next years race. A source close to the negotiations has told Motorsport.com, that all hurdles in the negotiations have been overcome.
A contract has not yet been signed between Liberty and Hockenheim, says that all the remaining hurdles have now been overcome and the contract is now a formality. Motorsport.com understands that the German GP deal is only for one season, and has been fast-tracked through in a bid to offer Hockenheim chiefs the maximum possible time to make preparations and sell tickets – having been boosted by a 70,000 race day crowd last month.
The negotiations about a new longer deal from 2020 are set to continue as the immediate future of the races has been resolved. There have also been reports that the race hosting fee has been halved and Hockenheim is negotiating with partners to gain a better financial footing.
One of those backers is expected to be the German manufacturer and current champions Mercedes, at the weekend F1 CEO and team principal Toto Wolff said that they were “very keen” to have a home race.
He told the media, “We are very keen that the German GP happens. As we’ve said in the past we are not a promoter. We run a team and that is complicated enough. It’s tricky to get involved in discussions between Liberty and the local organisers.”
Wolff admitted that they have been involved in trying to facilitate the talks, but has not currently involved in the discussions.
Changes to DRS zones for remaining race
Formula One’s governing body has outlined changes to DRS zones for the remainder of the season. Already the FIA has made a number of changes to DRS to increase overtaken, and this weekend the DRS zone has been doubled for the Italian Grand Prix.
Today it announced changes for four more races, Russia, Japan, the United States and Brazil, which will all see at least one of the zone extended. Following Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, there was criticism that overtaking had been made too easy.
For the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, the main DRS zone on the main straight will be extended. For the United States in Austin the zone between turns eleven and twelve on the back straight. While in Brazil the zone after Arqulbancadas will be extended by 100m, as well as both zones in Abu Dhabi.
Teams agree to increase rain Light visibility
Motorsport.com says that teams have agreed to a plan to introduce a rear wing light in order to increase the visibility of the cars in poor light. During May’s Barcelona test, Lewis Hamilton tested a version of the device.
The idea behind the new lights is that visibility would be improved because they are higher up, meaning they would stand out better in heavy spray conditions.
Testing of the new lights has been largely successful with the teams giving it unanimously backing. The necessary approval at the next Strategy Group, and then ratification by the World Motor Sport Council, should be a formality before the rear wings light are officially put in the rules.