Tag Archives: Lewis Hamilton

Toto Wolff: “The best Nico Rosberg I have ever seen…”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that Nico Rosberg’s drive to victory in Singapore was the best the German has produced so far.

Rosberg took pole, left Lewis Hamilton far behind in the race, and then held on to defeat a charging Daniel Ricciardo in the closing laps.

“I’ve known Nico since 2013 and that is the best Nico Rosberg I have ever seen throughout a weekend since then,” said Wolff.

“We have the tendency of saying that Lewis has an awesome pace, and this is what we have seen with Nico this weekend – he was just blindingly fast. He was sixth tenths quicker than P2 in qualifying in Singapore – something we are not used to seeing at all here.

“And in the same way he drove the race. He had a great start, controlled the pace and on the contrary, Lewis didn’t have a clean weekend, he was lacking laps in order to find the right set-up so he couldn’t really choose the direction and from then on went backwards.

“Spa wasn’t a real good opportunity for him because of the engine penalty and here it just started on the wrong foot. And he couldn’t recover. In Singapore if you are lacking laps in free practice and lacking direction on where to take the set-up, it is a vicious circle and confidence is key around Singapore and if your team mate gets out of the block in the way Nico did this weekend it becomes very difficult. Lewis is the first one to acknowledge that.

Regarding the change of momentum in the title battle he said: “We have the tendency of talking one up and the other one down. We have had this since three years, since the two of them have been fighting for the championship, you have seen those waves.

“I remember talking about Lewis’ momentum a couple of weeks ago and suddenly we have this mega Nico weekend, and in two weeks we will see if that changes or stays the same in Malaysia.”

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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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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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Hamilton wants clarity on yellow flag rules

After losing pole to team mate Nico Rosberg in Hungary a frustrated Lewis Hamilton has called for the FIA to clarify to what extent drivers are expected to slow down for yellow flags, and in particular double waved yellows.

Rosberg took pole despite passing through a double yellow zone on that lap, albeit just as spinner Fernando Alonso had got under way again. Rosberg lifted when he saw the yellows, but only lost a minimal amount of time, and has since been exonerated after an FIA investigation.

Hamilton had passed the scene moments earlier, when Alonso’s car was still stationary, and had to abort his lap.

“It just needs to be clarified now,” said Hamilton. “Us drivers need to understand the yellow flag situation, because obviously in the way that it’s written is potentially not the way it’s interpreted, either by the stewards or the drivers. So more clarification would be good. For me there was no question I had to lift, because Fernando was on the track. Perhaps for Nico, Fernando had cleared, but there were still flags, so it was a different scenario.”

Hamilton was keen to point out that double yellows mean be prepared to stop: “When it’s a yellow flag it says you have to be prepared to slow down, or you have to slow down, and lose some time. If it’s a double yellow – there could be a car on the track, there could be a steward on the track, you don’t know what’s around the corner – you have to be prepared to stop, that’s what it says.

“Nico only lost a tenth through the corner, so if that’s what we’re really allowed to do in the future, even though you lift and approach the corner with due care, if that’s allowed on double yellow… Because I thought that was the case on a single yellow, but maybe on a double, I thought you had to pay more caution to it. So if it’s only a tenth that you have to lose, that’s now different for all us drivers, we have to approach it potentially differently.

“But I’m not sure that’s the safest approach. We’ve instances in the past – I seem to remember Maldonado nearly hit a marshal in Monaco one time, because he hadn’t slowed down enough, and there was a marshal on the track. It’s really to make sure that it’s very, very clear to us. It’s not particularly our safety, it’s if there’s a car, a driver on the track, or a marshal.”

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Nico Rosberg: “I didn’t expect Lewis to turn in…”

Nico Rosberg is adamant that he was not at fault in the last lap collision with Lewis Hamilton in Austria, despite the FIA stewards deciding otherwise.

Rosberg insisted that he had left enough space for his team mate, and that he was surprised when Lewis turned in.

So, I am on the inside, I have the right to defend,” said Rosberg. “I don’t need to take the ideal line and I have Lewis on the outside and I wanted to keep him there. Of course always leaving him track space, that‘s clear, that is always the intention. That‘s it.

It is a fact he had space. You can look at the on-board, and all the other cameras. Of course after the collision it may look like no, because I am airborne, and I lose grip, so of course it takes me further out of the track. And after that it may look like there was less space, but that‘s irrelevant because it was after a collision. I just want to repeat, at all times there was space, prior to the collision.

I am just extremely frustrated because for me I had the win in the bag, and even in the moment I was sure that I’m in a good position here to defend and win this even, just instances before the collision. Because the collision completely took me by surprise, I didn’t expect Lewis to turn in.”

Asked if he could apportion blame he said: “I can say that for sure I didn’t drive into anybody because I had the car fully under control at all times, I didn’t lock up or anything. Completely under control. And him turning in completely took me by surprise. He apparently said in a TV interview that I was in his blind spot, and so maybe that is why he turned in. Maybe that is a possible explanation.”

Rosberg insisted that he wasn’t thinking about longer term ramifications for his relationship with Hamilton,

I don’t think of a big picture like that. I am just thinking about today, I’m gutted, and that‘s it. Why think back or forward or whatever? I‘ve lost the race and he won it, I am the guy who suffered from the collision, and he didn’t. That is it. I was unlucky, he got lucky.”

Asked if he’d discussed it with Lewis he said: “I wanted to discuss it before but he didn’t feel the need to because I wanted to hear why he turned in.”

 

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