No guarantees warns Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen says that there are “no guarantees” in his Ferrari’s teams home race, despite Mercedes being the favourites going into this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
For the first time in the current V6 Hybrid era, Mercedes are being seen as the underdogs going into this weekends race because of the progress Ferrari has made. Mercedes has gone unbeaten at Monza for the last five years, while Ferrari hasn’t won their home race since 2010.
This weekend is believed to give Ferrari there best chance in recent years, however, Raikkonen and his teammate Sebastian Vettel have warned that Mercedes can’t be counted out yet.
Raikkonen told Sky Sports “It is not clear-cut. There are no guarantees. It is who puts it together, lots of small things, and one place is best for one team and another place is best for the other.”
His teammate Sebastian Vettel has also welcomed the positive talks around Ferrari and says it nice to be in the position they are currently in.
Vettel added, “People forget that for the last five years, Mercedes have had absolute dominance, especially in terms of power unit, and obviously it’s nice from them to put us in that position because it means that they believe they are not the strongest anymore.”
The German says that the team cannot take anything for granted and Ferrari where determined to work hard to put themselves in a position to win this weekend.
Vettel says that Ferrari started the year a little bit behind but has managed to improve to a point where the car is working at all the tracks. He believes that the second half of the season will be stronger than last year.
Ferrari to maximise pressure on Mercedes
Ferrari’s team principal Maurizio Arrivabene has called on his team to take advantage of Mercedes being under this much pressure as the German team hasn’t been used to having this much pressure while they fight for the title.
Sebastian Vettel cut Lewis Hamilton’s lead in the championship to seventeen points ahead of this weekend’s race at Monza. Speaking in Milan on Wednesday at F1 Live, the Italian says that Ferrari needs to pull above its weight if it’s to beat Mercedes for the first time in the V6 hybrid era.
He told the media, “They are not used to it. In the last few years we were with our heads held low, we took punches right and left, but we always got up. We’re used to it.”
“They are not, so the speech made to the boys is simple: let’s keep them under pressure. Sooner or later, when we reach them [Mercedes], we are the aggressive ones who have taken them [the punches] and we know how bad it is.”
This season the momentum between Ferrari and Mercedes have switched, with them both winning five races each. In the constructors Mercedes leads Ferrari by fifteen points, the Italian team are the favourites this weekend as there upgrade allowed them to beat Mercedes dominantly.
Arrivabene cautioned that the team cannot get carried away just because of one victory. Saying “It’s a recovery but we’re still behind. We have to put this in our heads that if you win a race, you have not won the championship, and that is our goal. We must put pressure on Mercedes, who are not accustomed to it.”
Why Renault ruled out Ocon over Mercedes relationship
Renault’s F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul says that the reason the French manufacturer ruled out signing Esteban Ocon was because of his close relationship with Mercedes.
Ocon was tipped as the favourite to drive alongside Nico Hulkenberg next season, however that plan was abandoned when Daniel Ricciardo made himself available and was signed by the team over the summer.
The Frenchman would have been loaned from Mercedes to Renault, in the same way that Sainz was loaned from Red Bull this season. However, Abiteboul said the team had reservations over being beholden to a leading rival once more, especially another manufacturer.
He told Autosport, “It was a difficult decision. I think Esteban was a great fit. We’ve been extremely honest in our decision with people around Esteban.”
“As always with these things the discussions are never with the driver – but in the present case it was a bit awkward because it was a competitor, Mercedes.” Abiteboul admitted that it was at the back of their mind and had to be discussed with Mercedes.
About Sainz, he said “”I have to accept the fact that without discussing with Red Bull we would not have had Carlos this year, and I think it was great to have Carlos, so I think on balance we still did something good last year.”
“But having to do that again – one more year or two more years, 2019 and ’20 – in years we are supposed to, if we are to comply with our road map, start competing with top teams.” Abiteboul says that it would have been awkward to have been dependent on another manufacturer.
Kvyat could return to Toro Rosso
Daniil Kvyat could be returning to Toro Rosso next season, less than a year since he was dropped as a Red Bull driver. The Russian has spent 2018 as Ferrari’s test driver after he was replaced by Brendon Hartley.
It is understood that during last weekend’s race at Spa, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner and advisor Helmut Marko met to discuss the possibility of the twenty-four-year-old re-joining the Red Bull programme. The reason Red Bull want Kvyat back is because they currently lack options to fill Pierre Gasly’s seat next season.
Gasly has been given a seat with Red Bull replacing Daniel Ricciardo, who has decided to leave the team to join Renault. It was believed that the seat would have gone to Carlos Sainz, who then joined McLaren after the Australian took his seat with Renault.
Brendon Hartley yet to convince Red Bull he is worth retaining for a second full year in F1 following his surprise call-up at Kvyat’s expense in 2017.
Red Bull does not have any juniors either ready or qualified to step up to F1 and has been linked with left-field alternatives like McLaren protege Lando Norris or possible McLaren outcast Stoffel Vandoorne.
Last week, when asked by Motorsport.com about his team’s options, Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost said: “There are different names which are being discussed but up to now no decision has been made. So, therefore, we just wait and Red Bull will announce it.”
Another driver under consideration is believed to be Ferrari’s development driver Antonio Giovinnazzi. However, he has been linked to a seat with Sauber.
Hamilton misses media day
Lewis Hamilton has not spoken to the media ahead of the Italian Grand Prix. The world champion was also excused from the official driver autograph session but immediately went to greet the fans upon his belated arrival at the circuit.
Hamilton didn’t arrive at Monza until this evening, with Mercedes cancelling his press briefing because of an “unavoidable personal commitment”, Hamilton did not arrive at Monza until Thursday evening and the team, therefore, cancelled his usual afternoon media call.
Vettel suffers shunt during a demo
Sebastian Vettel got Ferrari’s home Grand Prix of on an embarrassing start after he suffered a small shunt during an F1 Live event in Milan. The German and his teammate Kimi Raikkonen drove the car as part of a demonstration event on the streets of Milan’s Darsena dockland area.
Going into a corner at slow speed, the four times champion suffered oversteer going straight on into the barriers and broke the front wing. The team were joined by Sauber’s Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson, and Toro Rosso duo Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley.
Thousands of fans lined the streets to watch the F1 cars in action, with Sauber also bringing an older-spec V8-powered car to the show, while Bernd Maylander (Mercedes F1 safety car) and Giancarlo Fisichella (Ferrari FXX) also performed.
The Weekend Ahead
This weekend Formula One heads to Monza for the final race of the European season. Naturally, the pressure is on Ferrari as the Tosfi will only be happy with the team winning, we saw on Sunday that the team over performed really at Spa. That has to give them some confidence for this weekend.
But, they know that Mercedes is a really big threat with the engine performance and downforce, though it is believed that Ferrari holds the edge now, I have a feeling that Mercedes will be stronger. This weekend I feel it’s a two horse race between Mercedes and Ferrari because this isn’t a circuit where Red Bull are expected to be strong.
Toro Rosso should not be a strong contender this weekend at there home race, ten years ago they won here. However, it should give Red Bull an indication on a power circuit how far they have progressed as Honda has struggled with power in recent years at Monza.
Formula One Vault will bring you LIVE and full coverage of the Italian 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