Category Archives: F1 News

Vettel to take gearbox grid penalty in Sochi

Sebastian Vettel’s chances of taking on Mercedes in Sochi have been dealt a blow after he has been forced to take a new gearbox and thus a five-place grid penalty.

Ferrari thought that there might be problems after the collision with Kimi Raikkonen in China, and ran the gearbox today to check it out. The data confirmed that a change was necessary for Saturday.

Meanwhile Vettel was forced to pull off and park on the pit straight in FP2 today after he was hit by an electrical issue that prevented him from running for the balance of the session while the crew worked on the car.

“It looks like we had an electronic problem,” said Vettel after the session. “It’s a bit of a shame because we’re lacking a couple of laps, especially in the long runs and race trim, to see how competitive we are. I think that Kimi did homework for the team, so not too bad. Also I think here we know roughly what to expect. I think we can still learn a lot from what other people did.”

Regarding the Italian team’s prospects for the weekend he said: “Difficult to say. The balance isn’t yet where I wanted it to be, but I think we can improve. Naturally I think the circuit should come our way. It was quite slippery this morning, I spun the first two laps. I didn’t spin this afternoon, that’s already a massive improvement!

“I felt happier as the day continued. Obviously we did some stuff for qualifying. For the race we’re lacking a bit information, but it shouldn’t be too bad. So let’s see tomorrow morning, we still have another practice session.”

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Nico Rosberg: “My opposition had a really messy start…”

Nico Rosberg says he’s just being realistic when he talks up the prospect of a Ferrari resurgence in 2016.

The German has said on several occasions recently that we have yet to see the Maranello team’s full potential after it endured a difficult start to the season.

I’m not really sounding any notes of caution,” said Rosberg. “I’m just realistic, and Ferrari, among others, just haven’t shown what they can do yet. They’ve taken each other out in the last race, for example, in the first corner and from then it was just messy, an an example. A lot of things have been going wrong and for sure they are a lot quicker than they have shown and we think they are very, very close to us.”

Rosberg played down the significance of his run of victories: “For me, it’s not six in a row because the three last year were last year and they don’t count for anything in this year’s championship, so for me it’s winning the first three, which I’m really happy about. Yes, I’ve been driving really well but my opposition had a really messy start. That’s the reality of it.

I definitely expect them all to bounce back, especially Lewis, and it’s going to be a great battle against them as always. And it will be tough, even if I have some points lead now, but it’s still such a long season. Three races is a seventh or something of the whole thing. There’s like 450 points to take still, and now I have 30-something in front, or whatever. There’s still a massively long way to go, so it’s not really changing the situation much.”

Meanwhile he denied that fighting for the championship was proving tough mentally.

I generally see it as a very pleasurable experience! Because it’s just an awesome feeling to come to a race track, to know that I have the car to be able to be on pole and win the race. I just look forward to it. So I’m here in Sochi and I can’t wait to get going and see where we are compared to our direct rivals and try to make it happen.”

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Booth joins Toro Rosso management team

Former Manor F1 team principal John Booth, who left the outfit he founded at the end of last season, has taken up a new role with Scuderia Toro Rosso.

The Englishman will work on a consultancy basis as director of racing while continuing to oversee his newly formed Manor LMP2 team.

“It is a great honour to join such a well-established and competitive team as Scuderia Toro Rosso” said Booth. “It is a team that has achieved so much in a relatively short space of time. I am looking forward to getting started and working with Franz and the team this weekend in Sochi.”

“I have known John for many years and I am delighted to welcome him to the team,” said STR’s Franz Tost. “Formula 1 is becoming ever more complex, with recent changes on the tyre front, car set-up, radio communications and so forth.

“Therefore, having a competitive car and talented drivers, both of which we have, on its own is not enough. With his vast experience I am sure John will help the team raise its game and become a more effective force over a race weekend.”

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Sirotkin lands Renault F1 role

Sergey Sirotkin has joined Renault Sport F1 as a test driver, and the Russian will drive Kevin Magnussen’s car in FP1 in Sochi on Friday.

The 20-year-old, who has extensive GP2 experience, was previously involved with Sauber.

This is a great opportunity for me, although it has all come together so quickly,” said Sirotkin. “I still can’t quite believe it. This is, however, the moment that all young racing drivers are working towards, and I am determined to learn as much as I can, as quickly as I can, doing the best possible job for the team while driving in Free Practice 1.”

Sergey is one of the most promising drivers from the junior categories so it is great for us that he is joining Renault Sport,” said team boss Frederic Vasseur. “We saw that he was the most promising rookie in the GP2 Series last season, where he achieved a race win and podiums, and for 2016 he is very well placed to fight for the title. He has driven the Sochi Autodrom in a GP2 Series car previously so we have confidence in the job he will be able to do for us this weekend.”

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Wolff impressed by Hamilton’s maturity

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that Lewis Hamilton’s personal development has been “mind blowing” as he has matured over the past few seasons.

In making his case Wolff cited how the World Champion reacted to the problems he experienced in qualifying in China today.

Having failed to complete a flying lap rather than express frustration Hamilton went out of way to to show his support for the Mercedes crew.

“He’s in a great place,” said Wolff when asked if we were seeing a new Lewis this year. “The development I’ve seen in him as a personality is mind blowing, over the last three years he’s been with the team. He’s won two championships and found himself, I think, as a person.

“You can imagine how much pressure he is under with all the people who criticise, and nevertheless he follows his instinct, he follows his way, and that seems to be functioning. And for the team it’s great. We have two very competitive drivers who are in good spirits and who have integrated so well in the team and give energy to the team and push the team forward.

“The Lewis I’ve seen today coming back straight into the garage after such a situation and shaking everybody’s hand, giving a little clap of support, it just leaves me with my mouth open.”

Told later of Wolff’s comments Hamilton agreed that he’s much more comfortable this year.

“Firstly that’s very warming to hear that from Toto, someone I respect highly, and who has been a real part of this journey that I’m on,” he said. “It is just a part of the growing process. Since I’ve been in F1 my friends have been ‘you don’t know who you are,’ and I guess searching for yourself… I just feel comfortable in who I am, and I’m happy. I don’t really know how to explain it. It’s definitely a positive, there’s no negatives in it. I hope it can reflect in a much better result than it’s looking like at the moment this year.”

Lewis stressed that he’s focussing all his energy on the future.

“For sure my mentality is perhaps a little bit different, more relaxed. It doesn’t mean I’m not happy, I’m fighting for the World Championship, and at the moment, [Nico is] walking away with it. There’s a long, long way to go, so there’s no real need to be too stressed about it, there’s no reason to dwell on what just happened an hour ago, because there’s nothing I can do.

“All I can do is try and shape the future, and that’s really what I’m trying to put my energy towards. Zero energy to what’s behind me, 100% energy to what’s in front.”

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Massa failures triggered by brake duct

Williams faced major dramas in FP1 in China today after Felipe Massa suffered two left rear tyre failures in quick succession, the first having pitched him into a spectacular spin.

The team then sat out the remainder of the session while investigations indicated that the wheel rims had failed first, rather than the tyres themselves, as a result of contact with the brake duct. The issue was addressed over the lunch break and both cars ran without a repeat in FP2.

We had a problem with the wheel rim and we made a modification and found the problem,” said Massa. “At least everything is okay now for the car to run without problems. That is positive. But then the day was not very positive, looking that we lost the first session and we ran in the second session – and it wasn’t easy to understand the feeling with the cars and the tyres, degradation was pretty high for everybody. We have another day and I hope we can be more competitive tomorrow.

For sure you are always concerned when you see these things happen, you are always concerned. We had a problem on the wheel rims and we made a modification from one session to another session and the problem was solved, so that is important, and for sure it was not a very positive day because I lost one session.

The second session I managed to do some laps but it would have been better to do a proper day running both sessions Tomorrow maybe the conditions will change, maybe rain, but we should be ready for everything.”

Williams technical chief Pat Symonds confirmed to this writer that the brake ducts were the source of the problem: “The wheel rims failed because of the way we’d set up the whole of the back end – more brake ducts actually. It wasn’t an easy one to see what had happened but we did figure it out and fixed it. Once we realised what it was it was actually quite easy. The ducts were the same as Bahrain essentially, there was a very minor change.”

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Vandoorne on standby pending Alonso medical check

McLaren has confirmed that Stoffel Vandoorne is on standby to drive in the Chinese GP, pending an FIA medical check for Fernando Alonso on Thursday morning.

Vandoorne travelled to Shanghai on Tuesday, on the same plane as team boss Eric Boullier.

Once again, Stoffel will be on standby until Fernando has his routine meeting with FIA doctors on Thursday,” said Boullier. “And until then we will be readying ourselves as normal. Fernando has been recuperating at home and training as usual, and we, like him, hope to see him back in the car. We’ll accept the outcome – whatever that may be – and plan accordingly.”

Meanwhile Alonso said: “It was disappointing to be told I couldn’t race in Bahrain, but I fully respected the decision of the FIA medical team. While I hope I’ll be back in the cockpit on Friday, until I get the all-clear from the doctors to race – whenever that may be – we cannot assume anything, but I’m continuing to prepare for the race weekend as normal.”

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