Reporters – 05/05/2019

Features Reporters

Lewis Hamilton is one of the best drivers of his generation, now with five titles how close is he to his hero Ayrton Senna. Well now twenty-five years after the Brazilian’s death does his former teammate Gerhard Berger believe he was wrong to think no one could match Senna?

Berger ranks Hamilton alongside Senna

Former F1 driver Gerhard Berger says that Lewis Hamilton now ranks alongside his hero and three times champion Ayrton Senna. Speaking ahead of the twenty-fifth anniversary of Senna’s death, he told reporters his friend still led as a personality and the legend that surrounds him.

In purely sporting terms, however, the similarities were clear.  He explained, “Everybody asks me ‘How do you see this driver against Ayrton?’ and I always, in all the years, say ‘I don’t see anybody near to Ayrton’. But Lewis is (now) the first driver I put on the same level as Ayrton.”

Berger believes that statistics were only one way of measuring greatness. “I go more by feeling and watching, and for me — and there were great champions like Nelson (Piquet), like Niki (Lauda), like (Alain) Prost, like Michael (Schumacher) – there has always been one above Ayrton,” he said.

“And now Lewis I see in the same league.”

The Englishman who has won four of his five titles with Mercedes in the last five seasons. He is leading the championship into this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The 34-year-old Briton holds several records, including most pole positions (84), and his 75 wins are second only to seven times champion Schumacher’s career haul of 91.

Berger said Hamilton was “outstandingly fast”, made fewer mistakes than rivals and knew when to be patient. Adding “It looks like he’s just running the game in such a good way that he’s unbeatable at the moment. Yes, he’s in the best car and best engine, but he also is the best. By far the best man at the moment.”

He says that Hamilton has a good chance of breaking Schumacher’s records.


Williams dismal season continues but has part of its problem been fundamental differences between both cars. While it searches for answers it drivers struggle for places

No “clear solution” for Williams

Robert Kubica says that Williams does not have a “clear solution” to the differences between his and teammate George Russell’s cars this year. Despite running similar or identical set-ups to Russell, Kubica has felt his car has a different aerodynamic behaviour to that of his British teammate.

The Pole saw some signs of encouragement after Friday practice in China but struggled again on Sunday, saying he has had “no race pace” since his return to F1. Kubica says the team has been looking to find answers, but are still to find a solution.

Speaking in Baku, he said, “I don’t know exactly how we are going to, let’s say, approach this week, but I would say from what I know people have been working on it and trying to understand, but I think for now we don’t have a clear solution.”.

Asked by if he had experienced something like this where the two cars respond so differently, he said: “No. Unless there was a problem. In this particular case, no.”

He says that this is a new track for him, and his focus is on getting a good feeling. This will be Kubica’s first proper street race in F1 since Singapore in 2010, but his reparations have been somewhat hindered by Williams’ simulator not having an updated version of the circuit.


That wasn’t getting better in FP1 in Baku, when “hundred of thousands” of pounds worth of damage to George Russell’s car. But why did it happen and cause chaos

Drain hole cover causes chaos

Baku is known for its drama and this year that drama came within the first half hour as George Russell ran over a lose drain cover which caused “hundred of thousands” of pounds worth of damage.

The British driver struck the manhole cover in FP1 between Turn Two and Three early on causing the session to be abandoned for safety checks. While it left his car with significant damage and cracking the chassis. Its also left the team which has struggled this year with more work to do.

Speaking to the media, deputy team principal Claire Williams said “It never rains but it pours this year. It could have been worse than it was. A drain cover coming off like that could have done a lot more damage.”

“George is fine and that’s the most important thing, and the FIA are clearly taking it incredibly seriously and making sure every one of those manhole covers is checked and bolted down as they should be.” The Williams team will be seeking compensation from the circuit, as it was not the teams responsibility.

The team would not be drawn on the exact cost of the repair bill as it was not responsible for the accident.

Last time this happen at Sepang in 2017, Haas were compensated by the circuit. However, the case took almost a year to be settled.

Williams to seek compensation for car damage caused by drain cover

Baku officials said the loose manhole cover had been caused by an “undetectable problem”, which FIA race director Michael Masi said related to one of the underground clamps holding it down.


We have looked at the Dutch Grand Prix returning before, but after the success of Max Verstappen and the decline of Fernando Alonso does it say more about the need for a star driver than heritage?

Zandvoort could return in 2020 says it has learnt that the Dutch Grand Prix will return to the calendar replacing Barcelona next season. The success of Max Verstappen has seen interest in bringing the race back, with Zandvoort emerging as the best location.

A senior source told in Baku last weekend that a contract has been now agreed between the F1 organisation and the Zandvoort promoter, but it has not yet been signed, as final details are still to be sorted out.

If as expected Spain drops off the 2020 calendar it would allow Liberty to put Zandvoort into the early May slot, ahead of the Monaco GP. Barcelona is one of five races whose contracts expire after this season, along with Silverstone, Hockenheim, Monza and Mexico City.

Barcelona hasn’t been a race which has been targeted to remain on the calendar. It has also lost government backing and with the retirement of Fernando Alonso, ticket sales have fallen.

It’s understood that the calendar will run, Australia, Bahrain, Vietnam, China, Azerbaijan, Dutch, Monaco, Canada for the early races. Chase Carey is understood to have discussed possible solutions to the logjam in a meeting with team bosses in Baku.

Zandvoort first hosted a World Championship race in 1952, and was a regular fixture on the calendar until 1985, missing only four seasons during that time.

While the circuit facilities requires some work it’s understood that the circuit itself requires little work to meet modern standards for fans and teams.

Asked recently about Zandvoort, where he raced in F3, Lewis Hamilton described the track as “awesome” – but conceded that passing was difficult. Adding “It was an awesome track when I was younger. There wasn’t any overtaking there, so I don’t know how that will be different.”


Ferrari went into this season as the favourites, but four races into the season and Mercedes dominance the team faces vital weeks. Speaking ahead of the race in Baku Sebastian Vettel says they need to unlock the car…

Vital weeks for Ferrari – Vettel

Sebastian Vettel says his Ferrari faces a vital few weeks where it must establish how it will develop its own car during the middle of the season. The Italian team emerged in testing with a slight edge over Mercedes, but in the first three races, they have been beaten by Mercedes.

It has been suggested that the teams aerodynamic philosophy is compromising the performance in the corners as the team goes after straight-line speed. In Shanghai, Vettel admitted that he was happy within the most recent Chinese Grand Prix, staying Ferrari must quickly decide what it wants to do with its SF90.

He told, “We have a very strong car, there’s nothing wrong with it, but I think we’re not able to yet put it in the window. Especially for myself, here and there.”

“I’m not entirely happy yet compared to where we started off. Obviously, the three tracks we’ve been to now are quite different. The conditions we had are different.” Vettel believes that a pattern is developing and they are beginning to understand how to unlock the car.

Ferrari and Mercedes have taken a different approach with this year’s aero regulations which has affected the aero performance of each car,  with Mercedes superior in the corners and Ferrari quicker down the straights, that has influenced the first three races of the season.

Ferrari was behind Mercedes at the opening race in Melbourne, before dominating in Bahrain before technical problems cost Charles Leclerc victory. While in Shanghai, Mercedes had the quicker package but Ferrari was not as far off the pace as in the season opener.

Team principal Mattia Binotto believes the competitive edge will continue to fluctuate based on different circuits. He believes at circuits like Sakhir and Barcelona that the gap will be closed, while at others it will be bigger.

He said “We know where are the limits of our car, and these limits might be emphasised in some circuits compared to others. The key will be to develop the car as such that we are making it even stronger in the future.”


And that’s all from this edition of Reporters, goodbye


Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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