Reporters – 15/09/2019

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Alex Albon made his debut for Red Bull at Spa, but he had a tough challenge thanks to an engine change. But despite starting from seventeenth, he managed to finish fifth and impress team boss Christian Horner.

Horner impressed with Albon’s fifth

Christian Horner says that Red Bull’s new driver Alex Albon’s charge to fifth place from seventeen in the Belgian Grand Prix was impressive. On his debut for the team, he was forced to take a grid penalty after taking the Spec-4 Honda engine.

Expectations of Albon were low, having limited experience of his new car and being out of position, but Albon put in a well-judged performance to grab fifth place at the end. Horner says he was delighted by the job Albon did, especially the way that he muscled past experienced racers like Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez.

Horner told Motorsport.com, “I think Alex has impressed me all weekend with his approach, his feedback, and his pace. In the race, I think he did a very mature job.”

“In the first half of the race we weren’t quite as competitive on the harder tyre as we were on the softer tyre but he didn’t make any silly mistakes or take any silly risks. He just dialled himself in.” Horner says the car as the team expected came alive in the second half of the race, which they expected.

He is hoping that Albon’s performance at Spa will give the British-Thai driver confidence going to Monza this weekend. Horner hoping that he can have a straight forward weekend this week in Monza.

Horner also reckoned that Pierre Gasly, who Albon switched places with, has made the best start possible on his return to Toro Rosso. Saying, “Having spoken to Pierre over the weekend as well, he seems to have exactly the right frame of mind getting into the Toro Rosso. He recognises there are still opportunities to him and he certainly seems to be approaching it with the right mindset.”

 

Esteban Ocon will replace Nico Hulkenberg at Renault next season. Hulkenberg is regarded and in the record books as the driver with the most points without a podium. His teammate Daniel Ricciardo is hoping that the easy to work with teammate, if can find a seat…

Ricciardo hopes Hulkenberg stays in F1

Daniel Ricciardo is expecting Nico Hulkenberg to have a “chip on his shoulder” but hopes his outgoing Renault teammate stays in Formula One after finding him “easy” to work with.

The Australian joined Hulkenberg at the French manufacturer at the start of 2019, but his teammate will leave the team and be replaced by Esteban Ocon for next season.

Asked by Motorsport.com if he was surprised to see Hulkenberg go, Ricciardo said: “Yeah, I had no indication prior to this week that he was going to go. I’m not sure yet what his plan is.”

“If he wants to keep racing in F1, I hope for him he finds something. He’s been, I want to say, easy to work with. We kind of just did our thing. He’s experienced, he’s been around. It’s kind of no-nonsense, ‘we’re here, we’re going to race’ and try to give the team as much info as possible.’

Ricciardo said it been a relaxed approach with Hulkenberg and says that he can still learn from him before the end of the season, with him expecting them to push each other “pretty hard.”

Hulkenberg arrived in F1 in 2010 with huge expectation after an impressive junior career that included back-to-back titles in European Formula 3 and GP2.

However, he has never found himself in race-winning machinery, and last year his seventh-place in the drivers’ championship was his career-best F1 finish.

Haas could be both his only and the most competitive option next year, but with limited options on the table Hulkenberg, he could end his F1 career without a podium.

Ricciardo said he expected a “top-tier driver” in Hulkenberg but also “he won everything as a junior but never had a top seat in F1, [so] probably a little bit of frustration, and a chip on his shoulder” as well.

“But in a way that was going to drive him to perform really well this year. Now having me in the team, if he beats me, it’s ‘well, you know he’s a race-winning driver’.”

 

The sport’s established drivers where once the once to be challenging the establishment. Lewis Hamilton is well aware that he now faces a “twice as hard” challenge to stay ahead of the two twenty one-year-olds, so how are they helping him?

Hamilton facing “twice as hard” challenge

Lewis Hamilton says he will need to “twice as hard” to stay ahead of rising starts Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc. The three drivers have proved the leaders in the midseason for their respective teams, Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari.

Hamilton and Verstappen have won two of the last five races apiece, with Ferrari’s Leclerc winning the other in his debut Grand Prix victory at Spa last Sunday. Aged thirty-four, Hamilton is thirteen years older than both twenty one-year-olds and has been impressed by their early-career progress.

Speaking to Sky Sports Italia, the Englishman said “They are both doing a phenomenal job. It’s interesting to watch their journey because I’ve been there at that age in the earlier part of my career and seeing the trials and tribulations you go through.”

“So I can empathise with what they are going through. I’ve got to work twice as hard now to stay ahead of them because they are fresh and young and energised, and it’s harder when you get older to stay as fit, as driven and as sharp.”

Verstappen and Leclerc are leading the sport’s next generation of young drivers, both have a very slim chance of a maiden championship. But Hamilton has sixty-five point lead over teammate Valtteri Bottas with two hundred and eight points to play for.

Hamilton insists “I honestly don’t even know the number of points I have” but says he keeps tabs on his race finishing positions and “that’s what I try to keep as high as possible.”

“I have no idea if and when or how the rest of the championship is going to go but I have to try and make sure I keep punching at this high level,” added Hamilton.

Mercedes head to Monza where they have been unbeaten since the hybrid turbo regulations came in 2014, while Hamilton is also the joint Monza record holder with five victories overall.

However, has Leclerc’s impressive win for Ferrari in Belgium established the home team as the clear favourites at Monza this weekend.

 

Monza saw Renault make another step forward with their best result as a works team since Fuji in 2008. While Daniel Ricciardo was critical of the manufacturer at Red Bull. Now he started to praise the team, following the race he prasied the team

Ricciardo praise engine department

Daniel Ricciardo has praised Renault’s engine department following the manufacturers best result as a works team since the 2008 Japanese Grand Prix.

Ricciardo was fourth his best result of the season, while teammate Nico Hulkenberg matched his best finish for Renault with fifth after a weekend in which their car consistently ran in the top six.

The result represented the highest two-car finish for a works Renault team since the Fuji 2008, when Fernando Alonso won the race and Nelson Piquet Jr finished fourth.

Ricciardo who joined the team this year and was critical of Renault when he was at Red. Bull, says the manufacturer’s often-criticised engine operation particularly deserved the success. He told Sky Sports “Obviously I’m happy for the whole team, but I want to give a special shout out to the boys in Viry building the engines”

“To get the best team result, here in Monza on a power circuit, since 2008 is a real statement. They copped a lot of grief over the last few years and they have made some big gains this year on the power unit. This one’s for them.”

The French manufacturer will be hoping that in the coming races that Monza can kick start a late resurgence to challenge McLaren for fourth. Ricciardo admitted since Canada they have not got the most out of the car, and that they really believe that they have a fourth-place car.

Asked if they can now maintain such a level of performance, Ricciardo replied: “I really wish we can and hope we can. We are coming up to different circuits – high-downforce Singapore, street circuit, bumpy – but even though this is Monza and it’s unique and you take all the wing off.”

Renault’s F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul described the weekend as “a demonstration after Montreal and Spa the clear progress of the team and in particular on the power unit side that has been so openly criticised in the past.”

 

He is the greatest motorbike racer in history and admired by two F1 drivers. Valentino Rossi has spoke this week about how his young F1 fans have a bright future

Rossi honoured to have ‘very strong’ F1 fans

Seven times Moto GP champion Valentino Rossi says he is honoured to have ‘very strong’ F1 drivers like Lando Norris and Alex Albon as fans of his.

The two English born drivers have admitted to supporting Rossi as they grew up. Norris ran a tribute helmet and boots that were painted in the nine-time champion’s colours, at Rossi’s home race at Monza.

The Yamaha rider said that he can’t wait now swap helmets with Norris, as he said that the youngster’s exploits in F1 this season had turned him into a fan of the McLaren racer.

Asked for his reaction ahead of this weekend’s San Marino Grand Prix, Rossi said, “I’m very happy, I’m very proud, for me, it’s an honour. At the beginning of the season arrive new drivers like Lando or also Albon, they said that they grew up following MotoGP, following me, that they are my fans – and it’s something good.”

“I like the feeling, especially because they are two drivers very very strong. Lando did a great job, it was a great pleasure. Now we swap the helmet as soon as possible.”

Norris and Rossi met at last months British Grand Prix, where Rossi gave the Bristolian the idea and support for the helmet.

Norris added “It was an opportunity to make this race more special and more of a one-off and something to remember it by, and that was by having more of a connection with Valentino, the guy I’ve always looked up to, my hero. So it is more of a dedication to him than anything else.”

Rossi says that Norris is a good guy, very clever and aged nineteen looks to have more experience than he did at that age.

 

And that’s all from Reporters for this week, goodbye

Jack

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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