Kimi Raikkonen: “It gives me pleasure to see disappointed people…”

Kimi Raikkonen joked today that he is happy to see “disappointed people” after news of his new Ferrari contract stirred up some criticism from media and fans.

Raikkonen has been confirmed as Sebastian Vettel’s team mate for next season despite inevitable discussion about whether he deserves to stay on. Raikkonen said he’s pleased that the talk will now stop.

Obviously it is more easy,” he said. “People stop asking the same question. I would not sign the contract if I wouldn’t be happy here, if I wouldn’t think that I can drive well. The rest doesn’t really change. We go every race weekend the same way, we work the same way.

It’s just I think more easy for us, people leave us alone a little bit more and are not hassling us around these kind of things.

Obviously I am very happy about it. It gives me pleasure to see disappointed people! When it comes to next year obviously it is a different story again with the different rules.”

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Sebastian Vettel: “It’s something we need to fix…”

Sebastian Vettel says that Ferrari has to get to the bottom of its gearbox issues after he picked up his third five-place grid penalty of the season at Silverstone, resulting in him dropping form sixth to 11th on the grid.

The German was most concerned about the fact that he had the same failure on Friday and in FP3 this morning.

“It’s difficult to remember all of them!,” said Vettel. “One was a consequence of what happened in China, the second one I don’t remember, and this one here obviously was after the failure this morning. It was something new we haven’t suffered before [Silverstone]. Obviously we need to understand, because we had the same failure yesterday and this morning.

“I think the problems that we had yesterday and today, that’s a weakness, and we need to stop it. Obviously I think the other occasions it was more a consequence of other things happening, especially the first one – if you crash, obviously it was a mild crash, but still a little crash in China, and we had to change it. You see other people crashing and they have to change it. They are not made for crashing, if you see what I mean. Surely the issue that we had yesterday and today was something new, and we need to fix it.”

Vettel said the fact that the problem did not occur for a third time in qualifying gave him some confidence heading into the race.

“I think we took some precaution going into qualifying. We didn’t have the failure in qualifying, we didn’t see the failure on Kimi’s car, so I’m fairly confident that we will be fine tomorrow. But surely we got caught out twice with the same problem. We didn’t have it before, so it might be something related to the track here. It happened also at the same place, at the end of the lap onto the main straight, so we need to have a look and really understand what happened.

“Rest assured that we are looking into that. It’s a very high priority, obviously it cost us five positions today, and if it happens again it will do the same again. It’s something we need to fix. Plus if it happens in the race, you don’t finish.”

Vettel admitted that he had not had a great qualifying session, and felt he should have been a couple of spots higher than sixth he earned before his penalty.

“I was on a good lap the first attempt, and then obviously lost the rear in Stowe. I was able to catch it, but the majority of lap time was lost. And then the second approach I started similar to before but just went in a little bit too deep and wide in Turn One, and then it was difficult to recover from there. I didn’t have good laps at the end of qualifying when it mattered. I think the pace was actually OK, we were able to split the Red Bulls, but we didn’t in the end, so that’s a shame.”

Vettel said he had no problem with the track limits rules imposed this weekend.

“We spoke about it yesterday, everybody was there, so we all agreed on it. That’s it. So it’s OK. I don’t personally care if we can go out or not, it just has to be clear, and it was made clear yesterday.”

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Ferrari confirms Raikkonen for 2017

Ferrari has confirmed that Kimi Raikkonen will stay with the team in 2017, ending speculation about the Finn’s future and his possible replacements.

A simple statement said: “Scuderia Ferrari announces that it has renewed its technical and racing agreement with Kimi Raikkonen. The driver line-up for the 2017 racing season will still consist of the Finnish driver and Sebastian Vettel.”

Although it is not spelled out it would appear that the deal is just for one year.

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Alonso downplays Mercedes team mate problems

Fernando Alonso has downplayed the team orders saga at Mercedes, saying it won’t make any difference as either Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg will eventually win the title.

The Spaniard said that it was good for the sport that the team has decided for now to let its drivers race.

“It’s something that is probably up to them, and only they know what is the situation inside the team,” said Alonso. “From the outside definitely they have enough advantage to do whatever they want, they will finish the championship first or second whatever they do.

“At the moment they are racing, I read that they will keep racing free, that’s good probably for the fans, for everyone, because the sport is about competition. If one day they need to police this, probably it’s also normal.

“At the end of the day there is one team principal, there is one owner, there is one president of a car company, that they want to see both cars on the podium, not both cars on the gravel. It’s something that as I said from the outside is not a big thing, or even on the inside is a big thing, because they will finish first and second in the championship anyway.”

When asked about being in the same situation himself Alonso joked that he never had a car that was a step ahead of the field: “I don’t think I ever had a car that is one second faster than everyone! So I don’t agree that I was in that situation, ever…

“With your team mate normally you have extra care, you have your bosses and your team waiting fort you in the garage. That’s something that you need to take a little bit more. Sometimes when you are that close and fighting for a championship, sometimes you forget that.

“It’s something that is inside any driver, inside the competition. I don’t think it’s a big thing. I know it’s a big thing for media, because the championship is terribly boring, and they are winning every race, and it’s good to talk. But I don’t think it will change anything for them, or anything for the championship. Life will still be the same after Austria.”

Alonso said that problems were inevitable.

“It’s something that will happen. They crashed in 2014 in Spa, and this has been going on and on, in Austin last year, in Suzuka, and some races, this year it’s Austria, maybe it’s Austin again in 10 races time. They’ve been three times World Champion [including 2016].

“Nothing will change, it’s normal. They are close, they don’t have battles with Red Bull, because they are 30 seconds ahead, they don’t have battles with Ferrari, because they are one minute ahead, they have battles with their team mate. Sometimes they crash, in 50 races they crash three times, it’s normal.”

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Mercedes lets its drivers race under threat of team orders

Mercedes has confirmed that its drivers are free to race each other for the World Championship – but the team has imposed new “rules of engagement” to minimise the risk of further contact between the pair.

The team issues a statement today following meetings between the team management, Lewis Hamilton, and Nico Rosberg.

“Our drivers were informed that they remain free to race for the world championship,” the statement said. “We believe this is the essence of Formula One, including between team mates. As passionate racers, we want to see them racing, and so do the fans of Formula One.

“However, this freedom comes with a duty for our drivers to respect the values of the team. In the past five races, there have been three incidents which have cost us over 50 points in the constructors’ championship.

“We have therefore strengthened our Rules of Engagement to include much greater deterrents to contact between our cars. With these in place, we will trust our drivers to manage the situation between them on track. Their destiny is in their own hands.”

Mercedes added that in certain circumstances points for the team will be a priority.

“The drivers were also reminded that we may issue instructions during the race to protect against a potential loss of constructors’ points, such as we did at this year’s Monaco GP when Nico was instructed to let Lewis pass.”

Mercedes concluded: “If the drivers do not honour the revised Rules of Engagement, we may impose team orders as a solution of last resort.”

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Toro Rosso has to get qualifying right, says Sainz

Carlos Sainz says that Toro Rosso has to start to get qualifying right in order to take full advantage of the pace of the STR11.

The Spaniard put in a charging drive to eighth in Austria, but he was compromised by starting only 15 th after hitting engine problems in qualifying. That came on the back of qualifying dramas in the previous two races.

“It’s good, but it showed that we need to start doing better Saturdays, because the pace in the race is there,” he said. “Unfortunately we’ve been on three consecutive Saturdays having problems – me in Canada crashing, Baku with the brakes, and here with the engine. Hopefully in Silverstone we can return to the top 10 in quali, and from there do better races, because at the moment we have to recover too much in every race.”

Sainz lost out in Austria when he pitted as the safety car led the field through the pit lane, and had to wait before he was released. From 17 th immediately after the safety car he was eighth by the flag.

“We recovered a lot of sports at the start, and then we lost them all at the second pit stop, because of the traffic in the pitlane. And then from second to last I had to recover to eighth, so it was good fun, I enjoyed it a lot. Unfortunately we didn’t have a lot of top speed, but with the good chassis, we could recover.”

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Herbie Blash to leave FIA F1 role at end of 2016

The FIA’s Deputy F1 Race Director Herbie Blash is to step down from his role at the end of the season having worked alongside Race Director Charlie Whiting for 20 years.

Blash will be replaced by fromer Minardi/Toro Rosso engineer Laurent Mekies, who is already safety director of the FIA.

Mike ‘Herbie’ Blash started his F1 career as a mechanic in the 1960s, working for Rob Walker, Team Lotus, and latterly Brabham. He became sporting director of the latter team prior to its demise, before joining  F1 engine supplier Yamaha. He took on his FIA role in 1996, but has continued a parallel career with Yamaha, helping to manage its two-wheeled programme.

The change reflects a desire from Jean Todt to introduce new people into key FIA roles, and it’s not yet clear how long Whiting will remain in his current role.

“I would personally like to thank Herbie for all of his hard work for the FIA over the past 21 years, and especially for his contribution in maintaining Formula One’s place at the pinnacle of motor sport,” said Todt. “Along with Charlie, Herbie has been instrumental in the seamless running of Grand Prix races for over two decades, and we are pleased that he will continue to work with the FIA in future.

“Replacing someone with Herbie’s immense experience was never going to be easy. However, we are fortunate to be able to appoint Laurent Mekies to this position. Laurent brings a wealth of Formula One experience, and has been responsible for driving the FIA’s safety agenda since joining us.

“Combining his strong Formula One history and work as the FIA’s Safety Director, I am confident that he will ensure that the FIA’s flagship single-seater championship continues to set the benchmark for race management and safety – a status that his predecessor, Herbie, can take great pride in helping to nurture.”

Whiting added: “I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to Herbie for his years of tireless work for our sport. It has been a huge pleasure to be alongside him for almost two decades. Of course Herbie will be hard to replace but, with Laurent’s extensive experience in F1, I’m sure he will be a worthy replacement, he will also be able to bring a new dimension of experience to our team of F1 officials.”

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