Reporters – 20/05/2018

Features Reporters

Charles Leclerc has become one of the stand out performers in the lower end of the grid in the first four races he delivered good results for Sauber. Could his performances mean he could move to Ferrari, Jolyon Palmer believes so but why?

Palmer believe Leclerc could move to Ferrari

Former Renault driver and BBC analyst Jolyon Palmer believe that Sauber’s Charles Leclerc could be promoted to Ferrari next season. The Monacan has made a good start to the season after points at the last two races.

Writing for BBC News, Palmer said, “It’s still early days but if he keeps moving in this direction, he will be in the frame for a big seat. It seems Ferrari might have their obvious future driver here.”

Leclerc is a member of Ferrari’s junior programme and was placed at Sauber after the Swiss team agreed to closer ties including Alfa Romeo sponsorship. There have been rumours from within Ferrari that they are considering promoting him to the senior team or move him to the more competitive Haas team in 2019, which also has close links to Ferrari.

Palmer said: “After a difficult opening three races in his F1 career, full of minor spins and missing a bit of pace, Leclerc seems to have found his feet and has delivered two fantastic points-finish drives in a row.”

The Englishman said the data he saw when Leclerc was teammates with his brother Will shows “e appeared to have this feeling in the car that marks drivers out as champions, were a cut above the rest. It was impressive.”

Palmer believes Leclerc’s impressive form, allied to that of Lewis Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes, could mean Daniel Ricciardo has no choice but to stay at Red Bull next year.

 

Mercedes have two race seats and five drivers, for many that be a headace deciding who to place where. All five of them are having great seasons in 2018, but despite the obvious problem why does CEO Toto Wolff see that as a “good problem”?

Mercedes has a “good problem” with drivers – Wolff

Mercedes CEO and team principal Toto Wolff believes having multiple options for the teams 2019 driver line up is a “good problem to have.”

Both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are currently not contracted with the team having an option with Force India’s Esteban Ocon. Mercedes have indicated that they will help junior driver George Russell into F1 if he performs well in F2 this year.

Asked by Motorsport.com about its 2019 headache, Wolff replied: “It is a good problem to have. We are very satisfied how Valtteri has been going these days, and Lewis we don’t need to talk about – he is the best of the current drivers in my opinion.”

“Then you have these kids growing up, like Ocon and George. I am optimistic about the future Mercedes line-up.” Both Mercedes and Hamilton have already indicated they want to extend the deal.

However, last year Wolff vowed never to put Mercedes in a situation where they didn’t have a plan B. Bottas earned himself a one year contract extension with his performance last season.

If Mercedes retains Bottas for another season alongside Hamilton, then Ocon is almost certain to extend his stay at Force India for a third year.

Force India is unlikely to shuffle out Sergio Perez, who brings good backing and emphasised his value as one of F1’s top midfield operators with a surprise podium in Azerbaijan last weekend. Russell himself has identified Force India as the best chance of a seat in F1.

Although Mercedes could go outside its customer teams, that is a less preferable option.

Russell’s fellow Mercedes reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein raced for Sauber, Ferrari a customer, last year. He is now back in the DTM after Sauber dropped him for Charles Leclerc thanks to the Swiss team’s growing Ferrari links.

Mercedes said it would leave the door “open” for a Wehrlein F1 return, which would add another complication if pursued for 2019.

 

Last week at the Spanish Grand Prix, Robert Kubica made his first outing at a Grand Prix since Abu Dhabi in 2010. However why did he say it was “not enjoyable” and “hard work”?

Kubica returns

Robert Kubica made his first outing at a Grand Prix since November 2010, but he says that the Williams car was “not enjoyable” and “hard work”, while he was satisfied with his performance.

Kubica was only nineteenth fastest, 3.3 seconds off the pace and teammate Lance Stroll, who crashed with half an hour to go, was twelfth.

“It’s difficult to say that it was enjoyable because our car balance was very bad and it was very difficult to drive, so it was difficult to enjoy it. But I’m satisfied with the session and how I reacted to difficult conditions and a difficult balance.”

“It sounds strange that you can be happy about P19 but actually I’m happy. To enjoy it you need to have a car which is suiting your driving style and is giving you margin to drive it.” The Pole says that the team knows the weakest part of the car and there were no short-term fixes.

 

Next April, Formula One will reach a milestone a thousandth Grand Prix… but where? One idea was to hold the race where it began Silverstone. However, why was ;  

No 1,000th race for Silverstone

Formula One has decided not to move next years British Grand Prix to April so it could be 1000th Grand Prix because of “sub optimal” weather.

The sports owners Liberty Media were considering swapping the Chinese Grand Prix with Silverstone, which held the first world championship race in 1950. However, Commercial Managing Director Sean Bratches admitted he had underestimated the volatility of the climate in the UK.

Bratches told Reuters “Silverstone was the first grand prix and we would have liked to see the 1,000th go back to the first. I think there’s a nice story and a nice harmony there.”

“But when I was told, being a relatively new Brit, that the weather is sub-optimal in April, they warded me off that quickly.” The race look set to be held in Shanghai, which is seen by Liberty as a key growth market,

Speaking about China, he said, “We’ve spent a lot of time on this topic and looking at different circumstances, weather patterns. China is a great place to race. It’s part of our future and we’re excited about going there for that particular race.”

 

And that’s all from Reporters 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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