Hamilton calls on Mercedes to cover themselves
Lewis Hamilton says that Mercedes must “cover ourselves,” to ensure stewards do not have “even a sniff” to sanction them after his Russia penalties. The world champion was given two-five seconds penalties for practice starts in the wrong place while on his reconnaissance laps to the grid ahead of the race.
The penalty meant that Hamilton was unable to fight for victory, and finished the race in third. It was the second time in three races that the Mercedes has made a mistake and been punished by the stewards, after the red light at the end of the pit lane.
Hamilton told Motorsport.com, “I guess we’ll go through the rule book and pick out areas where they can create rules, areas where penalties have never been given before.”
“We’ll try and figure out all the ones that they have, and try to make sure that we cover ourselves in the ones that we are aware of. I don’t think anyone’s had the penalty for that before, so we’ll just work hard.
“We’ve gone through seasons before without penalties, so just have to make sure I give them no reason, not even a sniff, to be able to do something.”
Following the race, Hamilton said after the race in Russia that he felt the stewards were “trying to stop me”, but took to Instagram earlier this week to explain his reaction.
He wrote on Instagram, “I may not always get it right in the face of adversity. I may not always react the way you want me to when tensions are high, but I am only human after all and I am passionate about what I do.
Ferrari announce Nürburgring upgrades
Ferrari are looking to bring the next round of upgrades to its car for next weekends Eifel Grand Prix at the Nürburgring. The Italian manufacturer ran a number of upgrades in Sochi where Charles Leclerc had the teams best result in five races.
The updates included new rear wing endplates, a new nose cape and turning vanes as the team looked to remedy the issues with the underperforming car.
asked by Autosport how much progress he felt with the updates, Leclerc said, “Driving-wise, it’s not like we felt a big difference. But the data says that it’s a small gain, which is what we expected, so this is already positive.”
“Now I’m looking forward to the next race where normally we’ll have something a bit bigger.”
Team principal Mattia Binotto expanded on Leclerc’s comments by confirming some updates would be brought to the Nürburgring and said attention would thereafter shift to improving the diffuser on the SF1000.
He said, “As Charles said, we have a few more upgrades in Nürburgring, but again not major. Still for us, I think [they are] important considering the level of competitiveness. Then we’ll focus mainly on the diffuser for the remaining part of the season, but by when, it’s not yet defined.”
While saying that the upgrades did help Leclerc, he believes that the car was better suited to Sochi and it was better balanced. Ferrari has slumped to sixth place in the constructors’ championship this year after a difficult start to the season that has seen its form dip dramatically from last year.
Wolff speaks about future
Mercedes F1 CEO and team principal Toto Wolff is currently weighing up his future, following eight years of world championships he has led the team to the top of the sport.
He spoke to Sky Sports in Sochi, about his future and how it could affect star driver, six-time world champion and record-chaser Lewis Hamilton. Wolff has lead Mercedes to titles since the beginning of the turbo-hybrid era, and his reputation is one of the best in the sport.
Earlier this month he stated that running the team was “taking its toll” and that he didn’t want to go from “very good, to good”. This comes at a time where his contract is currently being renewed and he, however, is likely to move to a new role.
He told Sky Sports, “I think I’m going to mix it up a little bit. What I always said is you need to realise where the point comes from very good to good, because then you can’t contribute any more to an organisation’s performance.”
“I don’t feel that this moment has happened yet, but in our team, we look ahead. We look at senior leaders and the potential of young ones coming up. We don’t want to create a bottleneck for talent to prosper and this is why far in advance we are already looking at every position.”
Wolff says it doesn’t mean he is walking away, but rather is looking further ahead, as his focus is shifting onto the long term plan. Again he insists that the rumours the team could be sold to partners Ineos were “without any foundation”.
Bahrain’s outer circuit one-off
Organisers of the Bahrain and Sakhir Grand Prix say they are not expecting the Outer Circuit to host a Grand Prix after this season. The circuit will hold the penultimate two rounds on the revised calendar in late November and early December.
The Bahrain race will use the Grand Prix Circuit, with the Sakhir race using the Outer Circuit. Unlike the other two tracks, Bahrain will use different circuit layouts for its two events, making use of its outer loop configuration for the second race on December 6.
The circuit is set to offer lap times of under 55 seconds in qualifying, according to F1’s simulations, and has been described by some F1 drivers as “awesome”.
But it is unlikely the outer loop layout will become a permanent fixture on the calendar, with Bahrain International Circuit CEO Sheikh Salman bin Isa al-Khalifa believing the regular Grand Prix track will remain the priority.
Sheikh Salman told Motorsport.com, “It’s an interesting year, I think decisions were made, especially with us, because of the situation that we’re in.”
“It is a lot shorter of a track, and so for us, I think the international layout is something that we know more fans can see, because of the inner part and the technical aspect.”
However, suggested if the situation arises like this year with the pandemic, they were open to holding a second race on the outer circuit. The outer circuit will host its first international event, with parties working together to make the most of the layout and create an exciting spectacle.
Organisers also say they are expecting next years race to go ahead in March, but admit it was a challenge to hold three races in four months.
Renault still hoping of Alonso test
Renault says they are currently in the process of putting in a testing programme for Fernando Alonso, before his return to Formula One next year. The two times champion will join the team for a third stint with the team where he won both his title.
Since leaving the F1 grid two years ago, the 39-year-old has only driven F1 machinery again in a two-day test outing with McLaren in Bahrain in April 2019.
Alonso and Renault are both keen to have some running before testing next February/March, with F1 managing director and team principal Cyril Abiteboul saying they are looking at their options for limited running in old and current cars.
Abiteboul told Sky Sports, “We are in a process of building his programme. We know that it would be in the second part of the season so we didn’t rush anything. He also had his IndyCar programme to do.”
“So we are building the programme which is a programme that could be composed of some 2018 cars that we could do. He’d like to do between two and four days and we are looking into that. That car will be in the Middle East later this year for our young drivers.”
The other option is using one of the teams filming days, as the Abu Dhabi test is designated for young drivers, Abiteboul added: “There is also some talk about the post-season test as reported, but we also want to be sensible with our young drivers.”
“We have Oscar [Piastri] who has already won the [F3] championship. There is Christian [Lundgaard] and Guanyu [Zhou] in the mix also [in F2].”
However, Renault has been pushing for permission to run Alonso in the test, which is only designed for inexperienced up-and-coming drivers and Renault would have to gain approval from the FIA to run the veteran, Alonso.
The regulations for that test state: “Unless otherwise approved by the FIA, not have competed in more than two F1 World Championship races during their career.”