Vettel believes he could be closer in “happier” Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel believes that he could get closer to Mercedes in a “happy” Ferrari, admitting that the team is still struggling to find the sweet spot as the Italian manufacturer searches for the first win of the season.
Despite strong performances in testing making the team look like the favourites for the title fight with Mercedes, but Ferrari have had their worst start to the season since 2016. Mercedes have won the first six races and secured five 1-2 finishes.
Ferrari, who boast the strongest engine on the grid, has shown glimpses of the pace most expected from them, but are yet to hook up a full weekend with a package that is high on power, but low on downforce. Speaking to Sky Sports, Vettel said “It’s just because overall we are lacking downforce, a weakness that we know.”
“I don’t think the car is as bad as it looks. The results should be better here and there but it’s very difficult for us to get the car in the window where it is happy. Certainly, when we get it in there, we’re more competitive but still a way from where we want to be.”
He says that the team needs to focus on getting the car into the right window. Vettel also says that the other weakness is simply that the team was lacking grip, saying they should focus on putting the grip on the car so they can go faster.
Adding that ‘the grip guy’, “seems to hide fairly well. I don’t know exactly where he is right now, so if you find him, or if you’ve got his number, that grip guy… we’ve been looking for him for a while!”
Ferrari’s woes have allowed Max Verstappen, to emerge as Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas’ closest challengers in recent weeks – a scenario Vettel is not willing to settle for.
Vettel added “It’s not going to happen overnight. We need to work hard and pay a lot of attention to small things, to details in order to get closer and once we are matched I think we can put a lot more pressure on them.”
Ferrari discussing return of Alfa’s Resta
Ferrari and Alfa Romeo are believed to be in discussions about switching Alfa’s technical director Simone Resta. Resta left his role as chief designer to join Alfa as technical director last year, replacing Jorg Zander.
The Italian left the role as essentially Ferrari’s chief designer to take up the role as Alfa’s technical director. He played a key a role in delivering a car last year which managed to challenge Mercedes, but with the team failing to win this year maybe they see Resta as the man to rescue their season.
Speaking to F1.com, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said “As a team, no doubt we are always trying to improve ourselves by looking where maybe we miss strengths,”
“Simone has been with Ferrari in the past. He moved to Alfa Romeo as Technical Director and is having a great experience. We are evaluating him to be back at a certain stage but that’s not something which we have already decided. We’ve covered his role currently in Maranello, so it’s not a plug-in situation.”
Binotto, however, said the team was thinking about its personnel going forward.
Hamilton expects engine upgrades
Lewis Hamilton says that Mercedes first engine upgrade of the season is just one of the improvements he expects to see for the Canadian Grand Prix. Mercedes have dominated the season so far, winning all six races and getting both drivers on the podium.
In Monaco, Hamilton held off Max Verstappen to take victory after being under pressure for much of the race and his task made harder after Mercedes placed him on the wrong tyre. Hamilton, who will be looking for his seventh win in Montréal, said he and Mercedes still had room to improve.
He told Motorsport.com, “A lot of analysis will be made, particularly towards trying to understand the tyres better and deliver better in terms of our processes. On my side, [I am] trying to work even better with my engineers to try and extract more from my car.”
“That means Bono and Marcus and a lot of the engineers trying to extract more information from the energy recovery system, and positioning the information in the right way so I can deliver more from this car.”
Hamilton knows that the team are working hard on developing the car, but also knows that they will continue to move forward.
Mercedes are the only manufacturer not to have introduced its first upgrade of the season, and thus Mercedes is on a conventional schedule. Honda was the first to do so, bringing forward its ‘Spec 2’ engine for reliability reasons at round four in Azerbaijan.
Renault had a new-spec engine on reliability grounds for the following race in Spain, where Ferrari introduced its own upgrade in the pursuit of greater performance.
Despite the commanding position in the championship, Hamilton insists Mercedes will not relent in its quest to improve.
Barcelona calls for “urgent” government help
Organisers of the Spanish Grand Prix has called on the government to step in “urgently” to try and save the race in Barcelona. The Catalunya race has been on the F1 calendar since 1991, but it is in doubt for next season, having not renewed the deal that expires this year.
The race is expected to drop off the calendar which has been fuelled by the announcement that the Dutch Grand Prix will return to the calendar in 2020 with a May date, usually the time the European season starts in Barcelona.
The circuit’s chiefs said after this month’s race that it was “in the process” of renewing its contract with F1 owners Liberty Media. Today, the organisers asked the government to step in and find a solution that would secure the future of the grand prix at the Spanish circuit.
a statement by the RACC read. “The RACC asks all administrations and the business world consensus and unity of action to achieve the renewal of Formula 1 and thus be able to maintain one of the most important sporting events held every year in the world in our country,”.
“The Club considers that betting on the continuity of the grand prix in Catalunya is a strategic decision at business, economic and sporting level and that for this reason the best solution must be urgently found.”
“The grand prix has an economic impact on the services, automotive, tourism, transport and leisure sectors of nearly 163 million euros and generates 2700 direct jobs. At the same time, the event is key to the Circuit, one of the most important sports infrastructures in Catalunya.”
“For all the above reasons, the RACC asks the Government of the Generalitat, the Spanish state, the rest of administrations and the business world, collaboration, consensus, strength and unity of action to reach a stable agreement so that the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya continues to host F1 in the upcoming years”
Porsche testing a 2021 engine
Porsche has built and tested an engine which will be compatible and form the basis for an entry in 2021 if they were to enter the sport. The German manufacturer has been considering returning to the sport as the new regulations make F1 more attractive.
Last year, Porsche became part of the negotiations about the future of the sport. Its potential entry into F1 may have been boosted after its parent company Volkswagen opted to cancel its World Endurance Championship/LMP1 project in favour of a Formula E entry, and the prospect of simplified and cheaper F1 engines stalled.
Head of Motorsport, Fritz Enzinger has reviled that the manufacturer has been working on a six-cylinder engine that was F1 compatible. He Told Motorsport.com, “In 2017 there were signals from Formula 1 that the regulations were to be changed and that energy recovery from the exhaust gases [the MGU-H] was no longer required.”
“As of 2017, Porsche was a member of the FIA Manufacturers Commission and was involved in the discussions about the future drive strategy in F1 from 2021 and represented at the meetings.” But Enzinger says that it would change if the engine was to be used in F1 the situation would change.
The manufacturer decided to leave WEC in 2017 and since then has had forty people looking at a potential F1 project after the series failed to find a replacement for Porsche’s sister brand Audi. Porsche has not competed in F1 since its failed engine programme in 1991 with the Footwork team.
Porsche has not competed in F1 since its failed engine programme in 1991 with the Footwork team. Enzinger said its six-cylinder engine “is complete and running on the test bench” as a team of “20 to 25 technicians” use it “for analyses and further orders with regard to series relevance”.
“The possible use for this six-cylinder engine was completely open. If it had been decided to send Porsche 2021 to Formula 1, we would have made it the way we did in 2018,” he added.
Stewarding broken system – Steiner
Haas team principal Gunther Steiner believes that some stewards “are just not up to being stewards” and feels like a “broken record” talking about inconsistent decision-making.
Following qualifying in Monaco Steiner was irritated after the stewards gave Pierre Gasly a three-place grid penalty and a licence penalty point for impeding Haas driver Romain Grosjean during qualifying.
In Bahrain, Grosjean was awarded the same penalty, when he held up Lando Norris during qualifying, which Stiner believed was wrong. Asked by Motorsport.com if he would raise his concern, Steiner said: “There’s no point in raising it because nobody does anything about it anyway. What can you do? How many times do I have to say it? It’s like a broken record.
“Some of the stewards are just not up to being stewards. I cannot raise it more because after a while…I just say it like it is. I’m not going to spend more time writing letters to people anymore.”
He said some stewards needed to read the rules and they shouldn’t have penalised both drivers. Steiner said that because of the circumstances, either the Gasly decision was wrong or it was an error to award the same penalty to Grosjean in Bahrain.
He argued that Grosjean had to react to the slowing Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel and this also caught out his team, both factors that were acknowledged publicly by Lando Norris, the driver Grosjean baulked.
But, he says that Gasly “out in the middle of the track on a fast part of the track, standing basically still for no reason because he wasn’t told by his team.”
The Week Ahead
Next week F1 heads to Canada for the seventh race of the season, the big question will again be can anyone beat Mercedes and you need to believe that looks to be a tall order given Ferrari’s woes. I think realistically this has become now a two-horse race between Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
One of the big news stories will be the upgrades to the paddock, although not a major story it will be one the drivers and teams will be talking about. Also, it’s the week prior to another crunch meeting of the strategy group and commission where they need to sign off the 2021 regulations.
This is the key meeting, deal or no deal, it could mean the changes don’t happen on time. But the sounding is positive, we need clarity that has been the main message from the teams as it takes around eighteen months to build a car. That means June has to be the cut off date, no deal would put it back to 2022.
This is Racing Point’s owners home race, so they will be looking to at least get Lance Stroll into the points. This also increases the scrutiny of the team by the media. Haas as well, as Montreal is nearer to their US headquarters than Austin.
The other talking point will be the upgraded pit lane, following last years race it was demolished and rebuilt. This, of course, doesn’t affect the racing but teams will be talking about it naturally.