F1 Today – 30/11/2021

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Marko discusses “one-sided” stewarding with liberty

Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko has discussed the “one-sided” decisions in favour of Mercedes with F1’s management this season. The two teams have been locked in the battles due to how close a title race it has been between their respective drivers Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.

Currently, Verstappen leads Hamilton by eight points with just two races to go. Marko says he spoke to the FIA and Liberty Media about regulatory changes around the rear wing which were implemented after Mercedes complained about Red Bull. He told Motorsport.com, “When Mercedes saw that we were equal or even faster, they first came up with flexi wings and then with all kinds of other false arguments.”

“We took those actions as a very unsportsmanlike gesture and afterwards we also focused on what happens at Mercedes, for example with those wings. That’s all part of it when the battle is as intense as it is this year and especially when someone is not used to another team offering competition.”

Marko says that Red Bull felt there was a certain one-sidedness in the decisions, which they have had several discussions with the FIA and Liberty, as ‘part of the game.’

The rivalry is set to intensify with the final two races over the next fortnight.


Verstappen “polished up” aggression – Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo says former teammate Max Verstappen has “polished up” his aggression on track, but reckons his approach to battles with rivals remains unchanged. The Dutchman is currently fighting Sir Lewis Hamilton, for his first world title and has an eight-point lead with two races remaining.

The fight between the two title contenders has been extremely intense, clashing several times, including accidents at the British and Italian Grands Prix. Verstappen’s aggressive driving was back in the spotlight at Interlagos earlier this month when he and Hamilton went off track as they battled for the lead of the race.

Ricciardo, who was Verstappen’s teammate between 2016 and 2018, believes the Red Bull drivers maturity has helped him to avoid more accidents with rivals while retaining his aggression.

He told Motorsport.com, “I think in general, being his teammate, I don’t know if I have any more knowledge than everyone watching from the outside, because I think teammate or not, we know Max, you know, the calibre of driving, how he races.”

“I think he always came in with an aggressive approach, but I think he’s certainly matured over time and certainly finds himself in less incidents or accidents as I feel he was in the first year or so in F1. So I think he’s definitely polished up that aggression but still has it.”

Speaking about the move at Interlagos, Ricciardo said he didn’t know whether it was right or wrong. But pointed out that at this stage in the season you are doing everything you can to hold on to the lead, however, accepted that it may have been slightly over the limit.

Adding “As I said, since the first year I think he matured, but I think the last few years the approach hasn’t changed and I think that’s, in a way, what I’ve always respected, is you know you’re going to get raced hard with Max.”


Seidl questions the constancy of stewarding

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl believes the current stewarding system is enough to deliver consistent verdicts without the need for permanent stewards. Through out this season, the stewards have faced criticism for inconsistency with different verdicts for incidents that drivers have found to be similar to previous ones.

The decision not to penalise Max Verstappen for pushing Lewis Hamilton off the track in Brazil made McLaren driver Lando Norris say his penalty for a very similar incident in Austria was unfair.

Earlier this year, Alpine’s Fernando Alonso was also unhappy with the consistency of some of the decisions made this season, especially in regards to drivers leaving the track and gaining an advantage at the start of races. These incidents have prompted some to call for permanent stewards.

However, while there have been some calls for permanent stewards over the years, Seidl reckons the current system should be enough to have more consistent decisions because the stewards are always checking precedents before making a call.

He told Motorsport.com “I don’t think that not having permanent stewards is the issue, to be honest, because as far as I understand, whenever there’s a case popping up, the first thing that stewards are doing is going back through the history of cases and see racing precedents and check if is it comparable or not, in order to try to be consistent.”

“I understand that after each race weekend, there’s a lot of exchange between stewards to make sure everyone is on the same level of information and understand what’s happened in detail. That’s why I don’t think that this is the big issue, in my opinion.”

Seidl pointed out the reason why many people had been in favour of a rotation system, was so that stewards didn’t build up negativity of, for example, to a certain team or driver.

Race director Michael Masi agrees as he feels a panel of permeant stewards could lead to a “perceived bias” and feels any regulating body will always come under fire for their decisions, especially in a championship fight as tight as this years.

Adding, “With every system, we need to take a step back and remember it’s a first time in a long time we are in a real championship fight between two amazing drivers, two fantastic teams, and as a regulator, there’s no regulator in the world that’s going to be popular.”


Williams a “true enthusiast” – Jones

Alan Jones says that Sir Frank Williams was a “true enthusiast” who simply loved motorsport. Following the death of Williams on Sunday, tributes are continuing to pour in for the former Williams owner and team principal.

The latest to pay his respects to Sir Frank is Alan Jones, who took the Williams team to the first of its seven drivers’ world championships, driving the FW07 in 1980.

According to Jones, Sir Frank’s greatest attributes were determination and sheer enthusiasm for motorsport. He says the latter was highlighted by his persistence in attending Grands Prix in the years that followed the car crash that left him in a wheelchair.

Speaking to Motorsport.com, Jones admitted that hearing of Sir Frank’s passing had been hard to take. He said, “At the end of the day apart from being a boss he was a friend. I like to think I was very close to the family. He epitomised the spirit and the determination of the ultimate enthusiast.”

“At the end of the day, apart from being a team owner, he was a true enthusiast who loved motorsport. How he put up with going to as many Grands Prix as a quadriplegic I will never know. His determination and enthusiasm, it was just so amazing.” Jones believes that the legacy of Williams will be ‘you can basically do anything as long as you put your mind to it.’

As well as the breakthrough title Jones played a pivotal role in the early success of the Williams squad during a four-season stint from 1978 to 1981. Reflecting on that success, Jones says it was made more special by an underdog spirit shared by himself, Williams and famous technical guru Patrick Head.

Jones says they had a wonderful working relationship between the three of them, being a similar age, and to win against established names was very very satisfying.

Explaining, “Frank started out racing second-hand F1 cars and scrambling up bits and pieces, so for him to win a world championship, it was the culmination of a dream. For me having left Australia and gone over [to Europe] to live and gone through the lesser formulas, to win the F1 world championship was a very emotional moment.”

He says that exchange at Watkins Glen in 1980 sums up Williams when the team didn’t qualify well. Williams decided to change the engine because he was down on power, adding that Williams said “right we will change it. There is no point me paying you all this money to drive for me and doubting you word.”


Ocon backs Piastri to get into F1

Esteban Ocon has backed Alpine’s reserve driver Oscar Piastri to soon get a seat in F1 despite missing out on a seat for 2022. The South African currently leads the F2 standings ahead of the Saudi Arabian and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix, having stepped up after winning last years F3 title.

But despite his rapid rise the Australian will spend 2022 on the sidelines, becoming Alpine’s reserve driver after missing out on a potential F1 seat. Piastri had been one of the drivers linked to the Alfa Romeo seat which went to fellow Alpine junior, meaning he will take a year out.

Ocon, who also had a bumpy journey into becoming an established F1 driver, thinks it is “just a matter of time” before Piastri will join him on the grid. After winning the GP3 Series title in 2015 Mercedes protege Ocon was placed in DTM by the manufacturer.

He was also loaned out to Renault as a reserve driver before making his F1 debut halfway through 2016 at Manor. His next move was to Force India/Racing Point for two years before sitting out 2019 after losing his seat to Lance Stroll.

After a season as Mercedes reserve driver, he joined Renault now Alpine last season. Ocon told Motorsport.com, I had “quite a few years watching from the side-lines, but I think it’s just a matter of time [that] Oscar will join us on the grid. He’s more than talented, he’s won pretty much all the titles up until now, of course, he still has F2 to go.”

Looking back on his time as Mercedes reserve, he thinks it will still be useful for Piastri to ease his way into the sport being reserve driver, but expects waiting isn’t the best thing for drivers. But added “What I did on my side, just trying to gather as much information as I could and once you get in the seat you know how everything works from the inside. And that’s what I’ve done, so I’m sure he will probably do the same.”

One driver trying to do this is Guanyu Zhou, who will make his debut with Alfa Romeo next year, which Ocon believes is fantastic. Adding, “He was developing very fast in the F1 car, so I don’t think it will take him long to get up to speed, but I definitely wish him the best.”


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