Category Archives: F1

Team bosses open to F1 share acquisition

Team bosses are open to the possibility of accepting Liberty Media’s invitation to acquire shares in the F1 business.

Last week F1’s new owner indicated that it is willing to allow the teams to acquire a stake, although the company did not give any more details on how that process might unfold, or what the timing would be. Until now only Ferrari has held a minority stake.

“I think it’s a sensible thing,” said Red Bull’s Christian Horner. “I think the teams are key stakeholders in F1, without the teams there is no F1. For the teams to take a minority shareholding would make sense, to be offered to all the teams on the same terms would make total sense. I think to keep it for a minority shareholding the teams would be the right thing, because anything beyond that, we’re never going to agree upon. But obviously it does make sense for the teams to be a participant in the shareholding.”

“The idea sounds good,” said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. “If you are able to align the major stakeholders with a long term vision, and you make the teams shareholders, there are many problems you could solve. But obviously it’s a commercial and financial decision, and the devil lies in the detail.”

“I think it’s a great opportunity,” said Renault’s Cyril Abiteboul. “A lot of value has been derived for the existing shareholders from F1. I think it will be a great thing if F1 teams were able to capture some of that value given the risks that are taken by the different parties who finance the team. So yeah, if it makes sense, I would say clearly why not?”

“Why not?,” said Sauber’s Monisha Kalternborn. “We’ve had these kinds of discussions before. I think it’s an interesting idea. It can make sense to have all times actually given this opportunity and be represented as well. At the end of the day it depends what you get and what the price is.”

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Lewis Hamilton: “I’m told it wasn’t driver error…”

Lewis Hamilton says he was not responsible for his poor start in Monza, despite a radio message to the team during the race in which he accepted blame.

At the Mercedes post-race debrief Hamilton was told by his engineers that it wasn’t his fault, and that the clutch was responsible.

“I’m told it wasn’t driver error, I’m told it wasn’t anyone’s error,” he said. “We continue to have an inconsistency with our clutch. You’ve seen it with Nico in Hockenheim. It’s bit me quite a lot this year. I was told the procedure was done exactly how I was supposed to do it, but unfortunately we just over delivery of torque, and the wheels were just spinning from the get-go.”

Hamilton said the team has worked extensively on the clutch this season.

“Of course, we never stop improving and learning. Today we would have learned again. But yeah, this year has been a harder year for us with out clutch. They’ll be working very hard. It’s not a quick fix, something you can change for the next race. We have made improvements, so we have seen more consistent, better starts, but we are still caught out by the random variation that we have from one weekend to the other. We do practice starts all weekend, and they’re varying a little bit, and then we get a drastic variation on the grip.

“As I said you’ve seen it with Nico, you’ve seen it with me, quite a few times. It is something that we need to work on. I can assure you on Tuesday [in the factory] that’s the only thing we’ll be talking about, because everything else we’re doing really well. So we’ll be trying to work and give as much information, learn as much as we can, if there’s any more, to try and make sure in the next six or seven races… We’re not struggling with pole positions, it’s just getting off the line.”

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Verstappen “learning all the time,” says Horner

Christian Horner says Max Verstappen is comfortable with the outcome of Friday morning’s informal discussion with Charlie Whiting about his defensive moves in Spa.

The Dutchman, who viewed TV footage of Spa with Whiting, has said little about what transpired, although Whiting has indicated that he could have been given a black and white warning flag.

“I think he’s happy with where he’s at, what he’s seen,” said Horner. He’s only 18, he’s in his third year of car racing, and he’s learning all the time. He hasn’t picked up a single penalty yet. We only deal with facts, not ifs and buts.”

Horner suggested that Verstappen was frustrated because Raikkonen had delayed handing back the place after he’d gone off track the previous lap.

“What I hadn’t appreciated was there was a bit going on the previous lap as well, where he was expecting the place to be given back earlier [by Raikkonen], and of course that all contributes to the robust defence.”

Meanwhile Horner concedes that this weekend in Monza will be about damage limitation for Red Bull.

“We expected coming here that of all the tracks on the calendar it was probably going to be our biggest challenge. It’s actually been a respectable Friday, we’ve got data from all three compounds, so plenty to look at tonight. Let’s see tomorrow. I’d say we’re about where we expected to be at the moment.

“The likelihood is that Mercedes and Ferrari will be ahead here, so we obviously have to try and limit the damage. That is what this weekend is all about before some circuits come up that hopefully suit us a bit better.”

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Lewis Hamilton: “Hopefully now I’ll get to fight…”

Lewis Hamilton has played down the significance of his recovery to third place at Spa, and insists that the result didn’t give him any kind of psychological boost over Nico Rosberg by getting such a good finish from 21st on the grid.

However he admits it was good to get the grid penalties behind him, and that he is now free to race Rosberg on equal terms this weekend.

“It was obviously an important race for me, and I got what I needed from it, and more,” said Hamilton. “It’s not done anything psychologically, it’s been a positive, and I’ll move on. The penalties are done, the free weekend kind of thing for the opponent is past, and hopefully I can put into action… I mean free from battle. Hopefully now I’ll get to fight, and it’s a race from here.”

Hamilton said that having a stock of fresh engines did not give him a particular advantage compared to earlier in the season, even though he was mindful of engine mileage before the summer break.

“Honestly I don’t feel any different now to what I did in Hungary. I guess perhaps subconsciously in Hungary I never knew if the engine was going to make it. But that’s still a question today, you hope with fresh engines that you are in a good position, but all sorts of things have happened. I had fresh engines earlier on in the season, so we’re not really in a different position except I’m hopefully not at risk of any particular penalties. The engine’s upgraded for reliability, so we should be in a good position. Now I can hopefully focus on getting my head down and getting back to the way I was driving before the break.”

Hamilton insists he is not worried about the possibility of Rosberg being able to to take a upgraded engine in the coming weeks.

“I’m happy with the phase that we have, I’m happy to run that for the rest of the year, and if there’s an upgrade I’m not bothered to take it. I can win with the ones I have. Usually upgrades are reliability, and if they are, it’s often small steps. That I’m not concerned about.”

Meanwhile he declined to talk about the issue of high tyre pressure at Monza, having been critical at Spa about the impact on Mercedes.

“Unfortunately I’ve decided to take a sabbatical from talking about tyres! There seem to be some emotional people about it, so unfortunately I won’t be able to answer too much more about it. If the weather’s the same as the last race – we don’t have any high speed corners – but I’m told it may continue. Honestly I have no idea at the moment.”

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Mercedes struggling with tyres, says Wolff

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits that the team has been struggling with its tyres at Spa this weekend, and has not been able to get the supersoft to last.

While Nico Rosberg ultimately took pole with the softest compound he was not much more than a tenth faster than Max Verstappen, which represented a much smaller gap than has been usual this season. However Rosberg won’t have to use the supersoft in the race as he got through Q2 on the soft.

“We seem to struggle more than other teams with overheating and blistering,” said Wolff. “As a consequence the normal one second gap from the soft to the supersoft doesn’t materialise, because the supersoft just gives up. The drivers said that after Turn One you could feel that the rear was going on the supersoft. Our performance on the soft was what we deem as normal, but we are not able to extract more from a softer tyre, because the tyre just gives up.”

Wolff said there was no single reason why Mercedes was having problems this weekend.

“It is always a combination of all the factors, there is not one factor that makes it go out of control. The asphalt is a very abrasive asphalt, and it’s very “stoney.” That uses the tyre much more. It’s a bit of a vicious circle, because the more downforce you put on the car, the more you use the tyres, the better you put them in the window.

“We’ve had races where that’s given us a great benefit, such as Baku, for example. But then if all odds go against us, that particular tarmac, the heat, high energy corners, and the supersoft tyres, then the consequence can be like we saw today. I think when you look at the calendar in general, in 21 races you will never have a car that is perfect for all races. It is always a compromise, and trying to achieve the best possible performance on average. Maybe we have to live with that.”

Wolff said he had no regrets about choosing Spa for Lewis Hamilton’s power unit grid penalties.

“At a certain stage we needed to take it. If you look at the gaps now it’s probably very difficult for him tomorrow to recover to a good position. In hindsight if we would have known, which we didn’t, then Monza would have been a better choice.

“But I’m 100% convinced that given the parameters and information we had before Spa, taking the engine penalty here, taking it early, getting a new engine early into Lewis’s car, was the right decision. But, if it’s hot tomorrow it’s going to be very difficult for him to recover to a sensible position.”

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Lewis Hamilton: “It’s going to be tough out there for everyone”

Lewis Hamilton believes that World Champion believes the chances of recovering to the points in Belgium will be much tougher than Shanghai, where he started from 22nd and finished seventh.

In Spa he will start 21st after Fernando Alonso’s power unit penalties ensured that Hamilton won’t actually start last.

Hamilton says the high pressures mandated by Pirelli will make it hard to keep the tyres alive over a stint, especially as he tries to fight his way through the pack.

“It’s completely different to China,” said Hamilton. “In China we didn’t have [tyre] failures the previous year, and therefore they didn’t put the pressure up to a ridiculous number. That is the case here. They had failures last year, they’re nervous of failures this year, so they put the pressures up to 23 or 24 whatever it is, which is so high, I’ve never seen pressures like that in my whole racing career. That doesn’t help.

“Plus it’s very hot, and being at those pressures, we get blisters. In China the tyres went a lot longer, it was cooler, and the tyres behave more like normal tyres. Here there’s not really much you can do to stop the tyres from blistering and overheating. Tomorrow is going to be interesting with that, so it’s definitely a much harder race than China ever was.”

Hamilton said one of the big problems will be running in traffic.

“As I said before its going to be a very, very hard race. If I had a choice of tracks to start dead last and overtake, this is definitely not in the top three for me in terms of an overtaking circuit. Whilst you can have a good tow up to Eau Rouge, being this hot, it’s going to be hard to follow.

“Being in the traffic it’s very unlikely I’m going to get to my stop target or go longer than the guys in front of me. I envisage tomorrow it’s even going to be hard to get into the top 10 with the tyres the way they are. I hope that I prove myself wrong, and I hope that I’m pleasantly surprised.”

Hamilton insists that he will start from the grid rather than pitlane, despite the obvious risk of getting involved in a first corner accident.

“I never like to start from the pitlane. It means you have to wait for them to come past you in the pitlane exit. By the time I get round the corner they will be half way down the hill, almost going into Eau Rouge, the last car.

“That means then I have to catch up. Of course, there’s a possibilities of me crashing in Turn One and you avoid it, but there’s also possibilities that there’s not, and then I just give up seven seconds or whatever it is. I can’t afford to lose any time. So my plan is to start from the grid.”

Regarding a realistic target he said: “All I can hope for is just to aim as high as possible, and try and get up as high as I can. It feels unlikely that it will be a podium position, but it’s not impossible. Things could happen, safety cars, all these sorts of things. But with these tyres the way they are, which is a bit of a mess, it’s going to be tough out there for everyone. It’s definitely going to be tough to come through and get on the podium and win.”

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Verstappen and Ricciardo made own tyre choices, says Horner

Red Bull Racing decided to split the starting tyre strategies of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo at Spa because the team doesn’t know whether a first stint on the supersoft or soft will be the better choice.

However the drivers made the decision for themselves as Verstappen had a clear preference for the supersoft, and Ricciardo preferred the soft. They will start second and fifth, split by the two Ferraris.

In Spain the two ran different strategies, and Verstappen came out on top, much to the frustration of his team mate.

“From a team perspective because it’s unclear what is the better strategy at the moment,” Christian Horner told this writer. “So to split them made sense. When we discussed it this morning we put it open to the table. Max was keen to start on the supersoft and Daniel was keen to start on the soft, which made the situation very easy.

“The drivers and their respective engineers picked the strategies, and from my perspective and a team point of view it covers both options. We’ll know tomorrow which one is the right way and which is the wrong way.

“It will be a fascinating race, to see how the strategies unfold. It’s going to be all about tyre deg.”

Horner agreed that as the fastest supersoft runner in a battle with four cars starting on softs Verstappen will not been in a direct fight with his rivals: “He’s got his own race going on, and it will be up to him to get through the traffic and get on with it.”

Horner said the team had expected to find it hard to beat the Ferraris, although Ricciardo made his life harder as he didn’t have a good Q3.

“We always knew here this circuit was always going to be a bit more of a Ferrari circuit than a Red Bull circuit, so to have outqualified them and be right with them was better than we expected coming into the weekend. As soon as Ferrari turn the engine up they are in good shape.

“For Daniel the first run in Q3 looked to be the quicker, because the wind changed between the two runs. He had a bit of a moment in Turn One, and of course that hurts you up the hill. He did a reasonably recovery on run two, but the circuit had lost a little bit of pace.”

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