German Grand Prix Recap and Results

German Grand Prix Recap and Results

Return of the Torpedo has been Confirmed

Daniil Kvyat has had a challenging couple of years, but we were psyched when Toro Rosso announced he would be driving for them again after the promotion of Pierre Gasly to the senior Red Bull team in 2019 (expect his demotion or firing shortly…).  From fourteenth on the grid, amid absolute chaos including two virtual safety cars (why do these even exist) and four legitimate safety cars, Kvyat managed to fight his way up to second, ultimately finishing third.  This was his best finish since China 2016 the first podium for Toro Rosso since Sebastian Vettel won in the Toro Rosso at Monza in 2008. 

Over the course of the 64 lap race, there was almost constant entertainment except for a few laps where nothing happened.  A few laps where nothing happened until everyone decided to switch to slicks, maybe a couple of laps too early.  At the checkered flag, in the top 10 were both Toro Rossos, both Haas’s, both Alfa Romeos, and one Lewis Hamilton on the outside looking in.  A penalty given after the race to both Alfas demoted them out of the points, Lewis into the points, AND one Robert Kubica from Williams into the points.  I’m pretty sure no one said at the beginning of the season Kubica would score points before George Russell did, or that either Williams driver would actually put that car in the points.  There’s nothing like a wet race with ever changing conditions, six safety cars, and seventy-eight total pit stops, including one by Mercedes that was over 50 seconds.

Vettel has hopefully gone full circle from Germany last year and will turn things around.  Lewis made multiple mistakes, probably the same number he made his rookie season, and the number he made between his rookie season and now.  Even his mechanics made mistakes.  Not to worry for all you Mercedes fans, they are champions and will come back from this even stronger than before.  Max got his second win of the season and tied his old teammate Danny Ric for race wins (7).  The answer to the question should have Ricciardo stayed at Red Bull seems clear now.  No, he should not have.  Despite their car being better in absolutely every way than the Renault, this is Max’s team completely and no one else’s.  Marko has even come out and said not to rule out Max for the championship this year.  This is absolute nonsense though.  Hamilton will be back in full force in Belgium after the summer break, if not in Hungary.  For Gasly though, don’t expect him to be around at the senior Red Bull team much longer.  I’d be surprised if he was still in that car at Spa.

Best of the rest – Renault is an absolute joke.  Poor Daniel Ricciardo.  It would be great to see him fighting for race wins again, but it sure as hell isn’t going to happen this year.  His teammate, Nico Hulkenberg, who for some reason is regarded as a good driver, is struggling horrifically.  He knows the pressure is on and is not handling it well at all.  He threw away a second place finish at his home Grand Prix Sunday which would have ended his drought (and World Record of things no one wants) of a podiumless career in F1 of 167 starts.  While he won at Le Mans in 2015, he has proven he does not deserve a top car (not that his Renault is a top car).  He will likely be dropped and back at Williams or in some other inferior form of racing in 2020.  Speaking of Williams, they finally got a car in the points.  Congratulations to them!!!  That single point might save them for 2020.  At Haas, Grosjean and Magnussen had another incident in Germany, absolutely infuriating Gunther Steiner (team principle).  One of them or both of them will be gone soon.  My money is on the Frenchman (leaving).  Finally, Lance Stroll made it out of Q1 for the first time this season.  While he was still last in Q2 (15th), it ended his horrific streak of 10 races being knocked out of the first session of qualifying.  It had seemed he was completely complacent with his billionaire father as a boss and wasn’t pushing himself at all.  Let’s hope this fourth place finish in Germany turns his season around.

 

Turning Point for Ferrari (and Mercedes)

The 2018 German Grand Prix was a nightmare for Sebastian Vettel. He had just won his fourth Grand Prix of the season, was 8 points of Lewis in the standings, and was leading the German Grand Prix. Meanwhile his main rival, Lewis Hamilton, started 14th. Regardless of where a Mercedes, Ferrari, or Red Bull starts the race, there’s always a good chance, they will find their way into the Top 6. If they finish the race anyways. In the rain and completely on his own, Vettel made a mistake, crashing his Ferrari into the wall and taking him out of the race. Lewis won in Germany and in Hungary at the next race. He then won four of the next five, the two final races of the year, and never finished worse than fourth. While Seb did win one more race in 2018 (at Spa), his championship hopes were over at this point.
 
This run of form worsened in 2019, with Vettel making mistake after mistake up to Hockenheim. It wasn’t his fault for not being able to qualify, but it did leave him one hell of a hole to dig out of. What proceeded to happen to Vettel over the 64 lap race should go to show that no matter what the circumstances, a four time world champion should never be counted out. The same goes for Lewis in Germany in 2018. After this race though, has Vettel come full circle and gotten whatever he was dealing with out of his system??
Optimistically, it would be great to see Lewis, Seb, Leclerc, and Max all battling for the title. Lewis still holds a solid lead in the championship – 84 points over Vettel and 63 over Max. Regardless of winning two races so far, Bottas is not a legit contender (in my opinion). Mercedes made more mistakes during the German Grand Prix than I can remember them making in a season. Lewis was called out for going too slow behind the safety car, FINALLY. At point the safety car was about to lap Lewis, if this were even possible. Between Lewis hitting the wall, breaking his front wing, getting the five second penalty for late pit entry, the insanely long 50 second pit stop where no one was ready, and Bottas crashing out, it was a tough day for Toto Wolff and Mercedes.
 
They have won five double doubles in a row. They are Champions. Champions always bounce back, and quickly. Depending on the heat in Hungary, this coming race may be tough for them. After Hungary is a three week break. Expect Mercedes at full strength in Belgium at the end of August. The one thing that is for sure, they will be back stronger than ever. I just hope that Ferrari and Red Bull have enough to bring the fight to them, and we all get to see some great racing!!!
 

Return of the Torpedo Validated

The Torpedo has returned in with a vengeance! After one hell of a race at Hockenheim on Sunday, Daniil Kvyat appears to be a new driver. After being demoted from the senior Red Bull team after colliding with Sebastian Vettel in the 2016 Russian Grand Prix, he had a run of tough luck and a lot of mistakes. Ultimately he was replaced with Pierre Gasly for the Malaysian Grand Prix in 2017. This only lasted two races until Carlos Sainz was picked up by Renault for the United States Grand Prix. He finished tenth in this race but was then dropped again and replaced by the Kiwi Brendon Hartley. For 2018, Ferrari picked him as their reserve driver. Whatever Ferrari did to him, it worked!
 
This past weekend in Germany was arguably one of the best weekends of his career, and possibly life. He started fourteenth on the grid, which was less than ideal. However, with the weather how it was, there is always a chance for a freakish race. That’s exactly what we got! Not only did Kvyat, aka The Torpedo, drive a fantastic race finishing on the podium (his first podium since China 2016, but he and Kelly Piquet had a baby girl the night before. That’s one hell of a 24 hours for the once down and out driver. It’s looking up for Daniil, and The Torpedo has Returned and is ready to FIGHT!
Hungarian Grand Prix: Verstappen’s Orange Army hope to extend party

Hungarian Grand Prix: Verstappen’s Orange Army hope to extend party

German Grand Prix winner Max Verstappen and his Dutch Orange army of Formula One fans hope to continue the party in Hungary on Sunday, even if it will be hard to match the madness of Hockenheim last weekend.

The Hungaroring, narrow and technical and sometimes described as ‘Monaco without walls’ because of the difficulty of overtaking, is a circuit that should play to Red Bull’s strengths.

Red Bull’s Verstappen arrives with two wins from the last three races and, while a massive 63 points adrift of five times world champion Lewis Hamilton in the standings, is looming increasingly in the Mercedes mirrors.

The track is a favourite, even if it gave the 21-year-old plenty to swear about last year.

“We’ve won two races so far and a couple of other podiums, a couple of ‘should have beens’ and ‘could have beens’,” commented Red Bull boss Christian Horner after a wet and chaotic weekend in Hockenheim.

“We’ve got a car that’s capable of qualifying near the front now, we’ve got a great racecar and everybody in Milton Keynes, Adrian (Newey) and his team, are all getting performance through to the car as well.

“Hopefully we can sign off with a good result in Budapest and then the second half of the year we’re expecting hopefully some more good things.”

Verstappen’s hopes went up in smoke after six laps in Hungary a year ago, when the team were powered by Renault engines and Hamilton won from pole position after a wet qualifying.

Hamilton has won a record six times in Budapest and he has vowed to “come back with fighting spirit” after a German weekend in which he started on pole, finished 11th on the track and was then promoted to ninth.

High temperatures could work against Mercedes, who struggled with cooling in the heat in Austria and could face more of the same in Hungary, while Hamilton has to shrug off the after-effects of the bug that laid him low in Hockenheim.

The champion, who has won seven of 11 races, said on Sunday he was going home to sleep and had cleared out his diary.

A win in Hungary would send Hamilton 48 points clear of teammate Valtteri Bottas in the championship, double the lead he enjoyed over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel last year going into the August break.

Bottas needs to do something special to shrink the gap, with his future to be decided in August and Verstappen closing in fast on second place.

Vettel led home a Ferrari one-two in Hungary in 2017 and, fast approaching the anniversary of his last win in August 2018, would love a repeat even if he is prepared for another tough afternoon.

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“Hungaroring is a pretty physical track in a current Formula One car, because there aren’t any long straights and it’s a very stop-start circuit, which means you are always working away at the wheel,” he said.

“And given the time of year, it’s usually boiling hot, which definitely doesn’t help.”

Ferrari’s major concern will be ensuring there are no repeats of the power unit problems that affected both Vettel and teammate Charles Leclerc, who crashed out last Sunday, at Hockenheim.

German Grand Prix: Verstappen survives mayhem to win a classic

Midweek Wrap: German GP, Max v Lewis, Silly Season Underway

Midweek Wrap: German GP, Max v Lewis, Silly Season Underway

Between an incredible race, some spicy debate and even spicier rumours, it’s been another eventful week in the F1 world.

German GP Fallout: Even by usual wet weather standards, the German Grand Prix was a particularly eventful race, with many angles to dissect it from, such as the continued ascent of Max Verstappen (see below), the morale boost for Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari, a remarkable 24 hours for Daniil Kvyat, the precarious asphalt at the last two corners, Lewis Hamilton’s illness, Haas’ latest cock-up, Williams scoring a point and on, and on.

Truly it’s hard to think of a race (at least in recent memory) that had more going on, and considering it’s already landed on the short-list for “best of the century”, it’s safe to say the German Grand Prix won’t be lived down any time soon.

Is Max Better Than Lewis?: I suppose it’s inevitable that at some point, Max v Lewis for “best on the grid” will be a real argument, but I’d still say it’s a little early. Clearly Gijs van Lennep doesn’t think so, arguing his compatriot is already “just as good” as the five-time world champion.

Obviously, the tear Max is on in the last three races is nothing to scoff at, but compared to the body of work Lewis has – and continues to expand – he’s still got a ways to go.

German GP Unlikely to Continue: It’s been a very topsy-turvy decade for the German Grand Prix — for all the memorable races it’s provided, it has struggled to maintain its place on the calendar, and now it looks like it might be going away for the foreseeable future.

Only happening this year due to the good will of Mercedes, the Silver Arrows have made it clear they won’t be doing Hockenheim another favour. Yes, it might be a popular track with fans and driver’s alike, but we all know money talks in this sport, and with Hanoi and Zandvoort set to debut in 2020, it seems a likely casualty. Here’s hoping its replacement doesn’t disappoint.

Silly Season Ramps Up: The summer break may still be a race away, but that hasn’t stopped the silly season rumours from kicking into overdrive. Nico Hulkenberg, Valtteri Bottas, Pierre Gasly, Romain Grosjean, George Russell and Esteban Ocon have all had their names bandied-about over the past seven days, with many teams either openly discontented with their current drivers, or outside speculators thinking they can do better.

Particularly in the case of Gasly – who endured another disappointing weekend in Hockenheim – there seems to be legitimate danger he won’t see out the season, and indeed, it’s hard to defend him when his teammate has two wins, while he has less podiums than a Toro Rosso driver.

German Grand Prix: Verstappen survives mayhem to win a classic

Kvyat seeking more success after ‘surreal’ weekend

Kvyat seeking more success after ‘surreal’ weekend

Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat is still trying to get his bearings after a weekend that was undoubtedly one of the most ‘surreal’ of his life.

Kvyat finished on the podium for the German Grand Prix just hours after his partner gave birth to their first child together.

Unsurprisingly, the young Russian was still looking somewhat shell-shocked as he made his way to Budapest for the next round of the 2019 season.

“The last race in Germany was an incredible experience after stepping onto the podium again after three years,” he said.

“It was special because we didn’t have an easy weekend before the race, we didn’t qualify well so it looked like it was going to be a difficult Sunday.

“However, I think I drove a great race in the changing conditions and made good strategy calls along with the team,” he added.

“To be on the podium the same weekend my daughter was born is a surreal feeling!”

Kvyat will be able to spend some welcome time with his family after the next race, with the Hungarian Grand Prix heralding a three week summer hiatus for everyone working in Formula 1.

“After this race, we have the summer break and it will be nice to get some rest and recharge my batteries,” he noted. “But I know that after a week, I’ll be keen to go racing again.”

It would be even better if he could go into the break with another strong result, or even back-to-back podiums. An it’s not out of the question as the 25-year-old has form here.

Daniil Kvyat (RUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso celebrates his third position on the podium.

“The Hungaroring is where I got my best-ever result in Formula 1 when I finished second in 2015 – but that seems a long time ago now.

“In the past, this has been a good track for Toro Rosso, so the key will be finding a good balance and hopefully it will be a successful weekend for us again this year.

“Although the track is nice to drive, it can be tricky during the race if you get stuck behind slower cars as it’s very difficult to overtake and you might have to try a change of strategy.

“Therefore, you want to have a very good Saturday and then control things on Sunday – but things rarely go to plan, so you must be prepared to be flexible!”

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Steiner warns F1 against rushing into change in 2021

Steiner warns F1 against rushing into change in 2021

Haas F1 boss Guenther Steiner says that the sport should be wary about introducing too much change in 2021.

That’s when the next big revamp of Formula 1’s sporting and technical regulations is due to be made. But Steiner thinks that the current proposals – which include a new ground effect design – need more work first.

“For 2021, the detail is not very clear at the moment,” he said this week.

“In general, I think the devil is in the detail, and we need to work on that to make sure we’re not taking a wrong way here.

“If it is for the benefit of the sport, I have nothing against making changes,” he added. “[But] if we’re not convinced that it will work, we shouldn’t run the risk of changing too much.”

In contrast, Romain Grosjean sounded more upbeat about the recent slate of proposals unveiled by F1’s new owners.

“I think those rules are going in a good direction,” he said. We hope that 2021 will be a good turn made by Formula 1.

Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas F1 Team with the media.

“As drivers, we want better racing. We want to be able to follow another car, to be closer,” he continued, adding that the tyres were also a key component of how competitive the sport will be in the future. “We’re hoping Pirelli can help us also with the tyres.”

As for Kevin Magnussen, the Dane was remaining non-committal at this point until more information was available to make a judgement.

“I have an interest in it, but I feel it’s hard to really know what’s happening,” he said. “I’ll wait to see what actually gets determined for 2021.”

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Horner needs Gasly to start delivering points

Horner needs Gasly to start delivering points

Red Bull boss Christian Horner says that he needs Pierre Gasly to start contributing to the team’s championship campaign on a more regular basis in the second half of 2019.

So far this season, Max Verstappen has scored points in every one of the 11 races, finishing no lower than fifth place.

By comparison Gasly has had a more ragged time since he moved to the senior team from Toro Rosso over the winter. He failed to score points in Australia and Azerbaijan, and then crashed out last weekend in Germany.

His total points haul so far is 55, which is just over a third of the amount picked up by his team mate. As a result, Red Bull is behind Mercedes and Ferrari in the constructors standings – and increasingly falling away from title contention.

“If we can start double scoring, that’s our target in the second half of the year, to close that gap down,” Horner acknowledged. “[But] it’s been up and down.”

Gasly’s most recent miss in Hockenheim had been a particular blow as far as Horner was concerned, especially since both Ferrari drivers suffered technical issues in qualifying and started the race out of position on the grid.

Verstappen meanwhile lined up in second and went on to win the race, while Gasly qualified in fourth but then lost ground at the start.

“Gasly had a strong qualifying. He had a difficult first pit stop, there was a problem with the right-rear wheel nut. And then they had to hold him because a whole queue of cars came in.

“He was recovering well – recovering, recovering, recovering – then on the last restart he passed [Sebastian] Vettel but went wide on three consecutive laps at turn 1. And that’s where the other cars got past him.

“Then obviously, racing with Albon they tripped over each other,” he said of the incident on lap 61 when the two drivers were battling over sixth place.

“It was frustrating because it was a good opportunity to take a lot of points out of Ferrari,’ Horner pointed out. “But instead of taking 20-odd points out of them we’ve only taken seven or eight.”

Pierre Gasly (FRA) Red Bull Racing RB15.

Red Bull won four back-to-back constructors championships from 2010 until 2013, and last beat Ferrari to second place in 2016. Since then they’ve had to settle for third place in the standings.

But Gasly is hoping to redeem himself with a strong showing this weekend in Hungary, where he finished in sixth place in 2018.

“In Germany I was disappointed not to finish the race as there were a lot of points on offer,” he admitted. “But we will continue to focus and I’m confident that soon we’ll get our reward.

“Budapest brings back a lot of good memories from last year’s race with Toro Rosso,” he noted. “It was my second best result of the year with P6.

“I’ve had a lot of good races in Hungary with victories, podiums and pole positions in GP2, Formula Renault 3.5 and 2.0.”

He added that the notorious heat of the city in the middle of summer didn’t bother him. “I like the warm temperatures. I feel good when I’m there and I’m always excited to race on this track.

“The Hungaroring is the kind of circuit where Red Bull has been pretty strong in previous years, and hopefully that remains to be the case this year.

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Szafnauer spies more progress for Racing Point in Hungary

Szafnauer spies more progress for Racing Point in Hungary

A new package of aero updates helped bring SportPesa Racing Point some much needed success at Hockenheim, and team principal Omar Szafnauer is expecting even more progress this weekend in Hungary.

“Hungary will be another important test for our updated car,” he said. “We have some more mechanical items to evaluate this weekend.

“Our performance in Germany shows we are moving in the right direction, and I believe there are plenty more gains to be found with this new aero philosophy.”

Lance Stroll finished the most recent race in fourth place, narrowly missing out on a podium, after finding the ideal moment to switch to slick tyres for the final stint.

Unfortunately his team mate Sergio Perez had already crashed out of the race after a single lap in the initially treacherous conditions.

“It was a case of highs and lows,” Szafnauer acknowledged. “Wet races can be a lottery, but it was a relief to end the day with some points in our pocket.

“We need to get back into the habit of regular points scoring,” he added.

“Historically we don’t have the best track record at the Hungaroring, but we will give it everything to try and come away with some points.”

Last year Perez finished the Hungary race in 14th place, while Stroll – then driving for Williams – was 17th. Both are aiming to do better this time around.

Lance Stroll (CDN) Racing Point F1 Team RP19.

“Racing in Budapest in the summer is quite tough,” said Stroll. “It’s a physical circuit and the weather is usually hot and humid at this time of year.

“To be competitive you need lots of downforce and a set-up that is not too demanding on the tyres.

“I think we made some progress with the car last week,” he added. “The new parts have helped and we need to build on all that work this week.”

Perez was also looking forward to heading to the Hungaroring, which heralds the start of the three-week summer break for teams and drivers during August.

“You always want a good result here before the summer break because it’s a long wait until you get back in the car,” The Mexican driver commented.

“It would be great to begin the holiday with a handful of points.”

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Mercedes defends ‘messy’ Hockenheim pit stop for Hamilton

Mercedes defends ‘messy’ Hockenheim pit stop for Hamilton

Sunday’s German Grand Prix pivoted on a dramatic moment mid-race when Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton spun off the track in wet conditions on lap 29, and then suffered an agonisingly long pit stop for a new front wing.

Hamilton was in pit lane for 50 seconds, an eternity in F1 terms where stops are regularly completed in just two or three seconds.

“There was a lot of chaos when Lewis came in,” Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin admitted in the team’s regular Pure Pit Wall debriefing video. “It looked messy.

“We were in the pits ready for Valtteri,” he explained. “He decided to stay out. At the same time, Lewis had gone off track, hit the wall, broke the front wing.

“He came in,” Shovlin continued. “We could see that he was coming in, but it takes the guys a little while to get the different tyres out.

“Also we had this broken nose and we can’t lift the car on that to do the normal change with the jack. So, we had to get different kit out to do that.

“Then there was a change of driver on the tyre call, and we also changed the tyre spec from a soft to an intermediate tyre.”

Hamilton had changed to the slicks just a lap before his spin, only for the rain to pick up again. “The conversation we were having with him was actually about the medium,” Shovlin revealed.

“We thought it was going to get drier, that’s what we were reading into the weather forecast and the medium was the only tyre we were comfortable taking to the end.

“Lewis was actually saying that the tyre is too hard, and that was why we put him on the soft tyre.

“We know now that we should’ve been having the conversation about going to the intermediate tyre, but at the time what we were discussing with Lewis was just medium or soft.”

Having to change back to intermediates on the follow-up stop as well as replacing the front wing inevitably contributed to the confusion.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W10 runs wide and crashes into the barrier.

“Getting the communication through to the guys when everything is so chaotic is very difficult,” Shovlin agreed. “It wasn’t pretty [but] the guys in the pits actually did a really good job reacting to that.

“We at least got the right tyres on the right car!

“Those situations are very difficult, and they are not rehearsed. They are not the ones we practice. But it does show us where we need to be stronger in the future.”

Both Mercedes drivers lost places as a result of the confusion. Hamilton was also hit by a further five second penalty for not coming into pit lane the correct way.

A further spin meant that Hamilton finished the Grand Prix outside the top ten, but a subsequent post-race penalty saw him promoted two places into ninth place for which he picked up a couple of championship points.

That was better than his team mate Valtteri Bottas, who spun off the track in the first corner on lap 57 where Hamilton had also had a scare moments earlier.

“Both the cars spun in Turn 1 as you saw,” Shovlin acknowledged. “There were two reasons.

“The balance was a little bit oversteery for the conditions. We obviously hadn’t run in those cold, damp conditions during the weekend, we didn’t get it quite right.

“But there was also the dry line and then a damp patch. With both of them, they just got a wheel on there, lost a lot of grip and it triggered it into the spin.”

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Renault: We had a small taste of being at the front on merit

Renault: We had a small taste of being at the front on merit

Renault F1 Team previews the twelfth race weekend of the 2019 FIA Formula 1 World Championship, the Rolex Hungarian Grand Prix.

Drivers Nico Hülkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo share their thoughts on the challenges of the Hungaroring, while Cyril Abiteboul and Chassis Technical Director Nick Chester give the latest on the team and on the 2019 package.

Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal: “We left Hockenheim with a bitter taste as, in exceptional races like Sunday’s, you can really pick up some big points. We have another chance in Hungary to demonstrate what we can do, and I know both drivers are motivated to deliver on the potential and go into the summer on a positive.

“We continue to be focused on our objective to build a more competitive car. We had a small taste of what it feels like to be up at the front on merit and this is just the motivation we need heading towards the summer break. The championship is open and, quite clearly, we need to score good points in Hungary to stay in the race.”

Nick Chester, Chassis Technical Director: “The track is tight, with lots of low speed corners. The only long burst of full throttle is the pit straight. We run in a high downforce configuration, one of only four times over a season we will run it, along with Monaco, Singapore and Mexico. The average speed is therefore low, but it is hard on the tyres, in particular the rears. There aren’t many overtaking possibilities, and qualifying becomes even more critical than at other races.”

Nico Hülkenberg: “The Hungaroring is a very technical circuit and almost non-stop. Corners come one after the other and they all combine in a way. A small mistake on one corner means you’re off for the next one and it’s therefore quite challenging to string together a lap. You need confidence in the car. Last weekend hurt, but we have the opportunity for an immediate comeback this weekend in Hungary. I’m determined as ever for a strong result.”

Daniel Ricciardo: “People liken the circuit to Monaco without walls, but it’s tricky to make that reference as it is its own track with its own challenges. It’s fast there, quite tight, but that doesn’t mean overtaking isn’t possible. Plenty goes on at the wheel at the Hungaroring. I’m looking forward to Budapest and we know how important it is for a strong team result so we’re heading into the summer on a positive.”

Renault eager to move on from ‘bitter’ double DNF

Renault wants to use this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix to get over the frustration of a double retirement in Germany as it slipped to sixth in the constructors’ championship.

Daniel Ricciardo retired early on with an exhaust issue before Nico Hulkenberg crashed out of fourth place in wet conditions at Hockenheim (pictured), in a chaotic race that saw Daniil Kvyat finish on the podium. That result — coupled with Alexander Albon’s sixth place — enabled Toro Rosso to move ahead of Renault into fifth in the constructors’ standings and managing director Cyril Abiteboul admits Germany was a big missed opportunity for his team.

“We left Hockenheim with a bitter taste as, in exceptional races like Sunday’s, you can really pick up some big points,” Abiteboul said. “We have another chance in Hungary to demonstrate what we can do, and I know both drivers are motivated to deliver on the potential.

“We continue to be focused on our objective to build a more competitive car. We had a small taste of what it feels like to be up at the front on merit and this is just the motivation we need heading towards the summer break. The championship is open and, quite clearly, we need to score good points in Hungary to stay in the race.”

“It was a bitter one and I’m very disappointed for the team and myself,” Hulkenberg said. “We were doing a very good job in difficult conditions. It hurts, but we have the opportunity for an immediate comeback this weekend in Hungary. I’m determined as ever for a strong result.”

While the immediate focus is on a result in Hungary, chassis technical director Nick Chester revealed there will be another big push from Renault after the summer break in terms of car development as it chases fourth-placed McLaren.

“Everyone is tired after an intensive start to the season, but the break will be a chance to recharge the batteries and focus on a significant program of upgrades we plan to introduce in the second part of the year,” Chester said.

Williams: In Hungary we have new parts to evaluate

Williams: In Hungary we have new parts to evaluate

We’ve reached the midway point of the 2019 season as Hungary marks the final stop on the calendar before teams are rewarded with a well-earned break during the annual summer shutdown.

The Hungaroring is one of the shortest tracks on the calendar, and its popularity amongst drivers, teams and fans doesn’t go unnoticed for its location near the beautiful city of Budapest. On top of this, the Hungarian Grand Prix is the closest event to a home race for Robert Kubica and we expect to see many Polish fans in attendance.

Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer: “Following the high-speed and high-efficiency circuits of Silverstone and Hockenheim, the opening part of the 2019 season finishes at the high downforce, low-efficiency Hungaroring.”

“The track was renewed in 2016 and now has a fairly smooth and consistent surface which is less demanding on the tyres. As in Germany, Pirelli have made the middle of their compound range available and so C2 is the Hard, C3 Medium and C4 the Soft tyre. How these will behave will depend on the track temperature, which can regularly exceed 50°C during August in Budapest.

“Since winter testing began in mid-February, we have completed 11 race events and five test events in little over 20 weeks. The schedule demands a lot of the team, both at the factory and on the road, and it is to everyone’s credit that we arrive in Hungary with further parts to evaluate ahead of the second half of the season, which begins with the traditional back-to-back races in Spa and Monza that marks the end of the European season.

“We approach the race in Hungary as we do any other, with tyre testing and parts evaluation on Friday before we switch focus to qualifying and the race. Once pack-up is complete on Sunday evening, the whole team can start to think about some well-earned rest and recuperation before we head off to the Ardennes for one of the best races of the season.”

Robert Kubica: “Hungary is the closest event to a home race for me and so even though it’s not in Poland, I expect a lot of Polish fans to attend. I made my Formula One debut at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix and it was the first Formula One race I attended when I was 12 years old in 1997. There a lot of things that I can relate to with Hungary, so let’s hope for a good weekend. Finally, I would like to thank the fans for their support during this difficult period.”

George Russell: “Budapest is one of my favourite races of the year. The circuit has a good flow to it and the fans always provide a great atmosphere. It’s the last race before the summer break, so we are going to make sure that we enter the holidays satisfied that we got the most out of our package.”

McLaren: We must keep pushing

McLaren: We must keep pushing

Hungary has been a permanent fixture on the Formula 1 calendar since 1986. During that time the event has evolved into one of the sport’s most celebrated grands prix, with only Monza and Monaco staging a greater number of consecutive races.

The track is located 12 miles north-east of Hungary’s capital city, Budapest. It sits in a natural bowl, on the side of a hill, and although only two corners have apex speeds in excess of 200km/h (125mph), the Hungaroring is one of the most demanding tracks on the calendar; its tortuous layout is a constant test of man and machine.

Carlos Sainz: “I’m looking forward to heading to Hungary and getting back into the car, especially after a good result in Germany. The Hungaroring is an interesting challenge to prepare for, as the track is very technical and requires precision and commitment all the way through.

“I’ve prepared well for the race and my target is to keep scoring as many points as possible for the team. I’ve been in the points at the last three races there, so I hope to keep the stats on my side. This is our final push before a well-deserved summer break for the whole team, and I’m hoping to finish the first half of the season on a high.”

Lando Norris: “After a disappointing weekend in Germany I can’t wait to get back on track, which luckily is only a few days away. The Hungaroring is a track I know quite well having raced there a few times in the past. I managed to get on the podium there in both F3 and F2.

“Its also a track that I’ve already driven in an F1 car – I completed tests there in 2017 and 2018. I’m hoping to take that experience into the weekend and leave for the summer break with a good result.”

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “Following a chaotic weekend in Germany, we go straight into preparation for the Hungarian Grand Prix. The Hungaroring poses a tricky challenge for the teams and generating high levels of downforce is crucial to getting our set-up right. It will be crucial to see what impact the track temperatures and tyres have when we get on track this Friday.

“Although the summer break is just around the corner, we are focussed on keeping our trackside operations at the highest possible level, and we must keep pushing if we are to maintain our gap over the rest of the midfield. In particular, we need to ensure the reliability of our cars, so that we give our drivers the best possible tools to do their job.”

McLaren: Another solid race where we scored valuable points

Vettel urges F1 to value historic venues over profit

Sebastian Vettel says Formula 1 would be “stupid” if it lost some of its historic venues in order to make a greater profit from new races.

The German Grand Prix signed a one-off contract for this season with Mercedes-Benz as title sponsor, and a large, enthusiastic crowd (pictured) saw a thrilling race won by Max Verstappen last Sunday. Vettel climbed through from 20th on the grid to finish second at his home circuit — to the delight of a large number of vocal fans — and says he hopes there is a way to keep the race on the calendar.

“I know the people (at Hockenheim) very well, and they are putting a lot of effort in, a lot of passion, and they’re very keen on staying, having the grand prix here,” Vettel said. “It’s a great show. I don’t think they make any money; I think they lost money last year and thanks to Mercedes they were able to have the grand prix again.

“So I don’t know what is the negotiation for next year and how much more money they would need. The problem is Germany is not keen to pay anything. So you need people from outside, investors, because the government is not happy to support — unlike in the Netherlands or other places we go.”

“I think the way they run their business is based on how much people pay and then you get a grand prix. I think it’s important we don’t lose certain grand prix, irrelevant of what they pay. I think Formula 1 without Monza would be stupid. Losing big countries like Germany, we’ve been to Spain many years — I think it’s wrong, but I’m not deciding.

“People always want to make money and profit so it doesn’t help if tracks pay less than others but I think it’s important to bring the sport where there’s passion for the sport, so keep countries like Germany on the calendar, or the UK, those iconic places. That would be my take on it.

“I think it’s more fun for us also to drive in front of a lot of people rather than empty grandstands, even if they are equipped with new seats — they are useless if there’s no one sitting on them.”

Villeneuve: Replacing Gasly with Kvyat ‘not the way to go’ for Red Bull

Villeneuve: Replacing Gasly with Kvyat ‘not the way to go’ for Red Bull

Jacques Villeneuve believes Red Bull would be wrong to re-promote Dany Kvyat to its senior squad but admits the Milton Keynes-based outfit’s options are limited.

Kvyat has finished in the points in over half of the races so far this season and put in a spirited drive last weekend in Germany that delivered its second podium finish in its history to Toro Rosso.

The Russian’s improved performances after a year on the sidelines coupled with Pierre Gasly’s disappointing results with Red Bull year-to-date have fueled rumors of Kvyat’s return to Milton Keynes.

Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko has dismissed dumping Gasly before the end of the season, but the Frenchman’s seat still appears in jeopardy.

However, Villeneuve believes Red Bull would be wrong to elevate Kvyat once again to a race seat at its senior bull team.

“They have already had him, why would they do that? That’s not the way to go,” the Canadian told the French edition of Motorsport.com.

“It’s very different to drive in a big or a small team. Some drivers are incredible in small teams, and not good in big teams.

“It happens even with 10 years of experience, we’ve seen it over the years. They won races in a small team, go to a big team, struggle to win, go back to a small team and start winning again. You can’t predict it.”

©RedBull

Assessing Gasly’s season, Villeneuve believes the 23-year-old is lucky to still be in F1.

“He’s really, really far off,” said the 1997 world champion.

“He’s not at the level he should be. It’s tough. Max was leading the race and he was sixth or seventh, behind the two Toro Rossos. It’s not good.

“Then he was unlucky because Albon crossed the line and should have been severely punished for his maneuver.

“Gasly’s lucky to still be there. Red Bull and Helmut Marko were a lot more aggressive with their drivers in the past, it just shows that they don’t see anyone coming up through their ranks, so they don’t know who to replace him with.”

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Haas: We need to understand what went sideways

Haas: We need to understand what went sideways

Fresh off a double-points effort in last Sunday’s German Grand Prix where Rich Energy Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen finished seventh and eighth, respectively, to deliver the team’s best collective result of the season, the American outfit heads to Budapest for this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

The 4.381-kilometre (2.722-mile), 14-turn Hungaroring is a tight circuit that many drivers liken to a full-size karting track. It is the slowest permanent venue in Formula One, a change from the recent run of power circuits. Slow, however, doesn’t mean easy.

Despite an average speed of 200 kph (124 mph), which is notably slower than the average speed drivers normally experience in Formula One, the Hungaroring requires precision and preservation. It is a physical track, demanding a lot from the drivers who, in turn, demand a lot from their car throughout the 70-lap race.

Tire management is a crucial part of that strategy. The track is a seemingly never-ending succession of corners, where typically hot weather combined with a high amount of traction, braking and lateral energy demands work the tires and the driver hard.

As such, an extreme level of fitness is required for the drivers, who are seemingly always turning the wheel amid high temperatures with scant amounts of air flowing through the car.

For Rich Energy Haas F1 Team, those air currents will again flow over two different aero specs on the Haas VF-19s wielded by Grosjean and Magnussen. For the third straight race, Grosjean will use the aero spec first seen in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Magnussen, meanwhile, will have the latest upgrade, which he experienced for the first time last weekend in Hockenheim. These in-season car-to-car aero tests are helping Rich Energy Haas F1 Team better understand why its strong, single-lap pace doesn’t carry over into race pace.

And with the Hungarian Grand Prix being the last event before the FIA-mandated summer shutdown, time is of the essence.

When teams return from break, only nine races will remain in the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship. Rich Energy Haas F1 Team is currently tied with Alfa Romeo for eighth in the constructors’ standings, with each having 26 points.

They have a healthy 25-point advantage over last-place Williams and are just five points behind seventh-place Racing Point and an achievable 13 points arrears the factory Renault team while Toro Rosso has only a 16-point edge.

Opportunity still abounds, both for future point-scoring finishes like the recent one in Germany and for improving the Haas VF-19. While Hungary always serves up a challenge for Formula One teams, the venue also serves as another mechanism for Rich Energy Haas F1 Team to improve its fortunes.

Q&A Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

After comparing the team’s original aero spec on Grosjean’s car at Silverstone and Hockenheim with the second-generation spec Magnussen ran at Silverstone along with the third-generation spec Magnussen recently ran at Hockenheim, what is the gameplan for Hungary?
GS: “Having compared the three specs at Hockenheim, we still haven’t come to a conclusion as to what is actually happening on our race pace – where we seem to be slow, but can do a good qualifying lap. So, we’ve decided to run again in Budapest – Grosjean with the Melbourne spec and Magnussen with the Hockenheim spec.”

After trialing these different aero specs, what will you do with all of the information before the FIA-mandated summer shutdown so that you’re ready for the next round of races in Belgium and Italy? More specifically, how much time do you have to do what you want before you’re forced to take a break for two weeks?
GS: “You take all the data and just try to compare where we can improve and see where we went off the plan. At the beginning of the season we were looking very competitive, then in the races after Melbourne, that’s not been the case anymore. So, we need to understand what went sideways, and that is what you do when you compare two specs of car. Hopefully, we can get as much information as possible and come to a conclusion in which direction we need to work.”

Considering the amount of work the team has put into sorting the Haas VF-19s finicky nature, how important is the shutdown for Rich Energy Haas F1 Team personnel to take a break and come back refreshed for the final nine races of the season?
GS: “Hopefully, we end up on a high, which may or may not happen, but it’s a good thing if we can. Normally, as you cannot work, the only thing you can do is recoup some energy and be ready for when we get going again in Spa.”

While physical work on the current car and next year’s car stops during the summer shutdown, it’s difficult to turn off one’s brain. Do you find yourself scribbling down ideas or thinking about what needs to happen next, or are you able to actually tune out Formula One for two weeks?
GS: “You never tune out of Formula One at this level where I work. You’re always thinking about it, but you’re not there consciously thinking about it in an office. You do other things. That’s sometimes very good, as you can think a little more with an open mind than you do normally when you’re in the middle of a battle. You try to chill, but you’re always thinking about what you can do better and what needs to be done straight after shutdown.”

Work continues on the 2019 car and directions are being determined for the 2020 car, but an overview of regulations for the 2021 car has been revealed. What are your thoughts on the 2021 car, which features a new ground effect design that includes a much simpler front wing?
“For 2021, the detail is not very clear at the moment. In general, I think the devil is in the detail, and we need to work on that to make sure we’re not taking a wrong way here. If it is for the benefit of the sport, I have nothing against making changes. If we’re not convinced that it will work, we shouldn’t run the risk of changing too much.”

Q&A Romain Grosjean

What are your expectations for Hungary? Does the tighter track pose more of a challenge for Rich Energy Haas F1 Team or can it benefit the Haas VF-19?
RG: “We don’t really know how it’s going to go. We take everything race-by-race at the moment. For now, we’re in an experimental time as the car has been quite tricky to understand. At some tracks where we thought we’d do well, we did not, and other tracks where we thought it was going to be a bit more tricky, things actually worked better. So, let’s just go race-by-race. Hungary is one of my favorite races of the year. I love the fans there, I love the circuit, the atmosphere, and it’s always the summer. It’s right before our summer break, so you know you can really go flat-out then recharge your batteries. I’m looking forward to going there.”

A lot of grip, a lot of braking and a lot of high-energy demands all conspire against tires at the Hungaroring. What do you need to do to manage the tires and get the most out of them?
RG: “They don’t get much rest in Budapest, that’s for sure. There aren’t many high-speed corners, which doesn’t put too much energy into them, but there’s no rest either, and temperatures can be really high. It’s a good challenge on tires, and getting them to work nicely in the window.”

You’re constantly turning the wheel at the Hungaroring and with the slower speeds, very little air flows into the car. Combined with the normally high temperatures experienced in Budapest, how physically demanding is the Hungarian Grand Prix?
RG: “It’s a tough grand prix because of the heat and a lack of straight lines. There’s a lot of action behind the steering wheel. The g-forces aren’t as high as they can be at some other places, but it’s a tough grand prix. I like the challenge.”

In seven career Formula One starts at the Hungaroring you’ve finished in the top-10 four times, with a best finish of third in your first race there in 2012. What makes it such a good track for you?
RG: “I’ve always enjoyed the Hungaroring. I was on the front row in 2012 also, my best grid start ever. Obviously, in Formula One you rely a lot on the car, so I guess I must’ve had some good cars there. I also scored my first pole position in GP2 there in 2008. I’ve always had a good feeling there, and I’ve always enjoyed driving there.”

Considering the amount of work the team has put into sorting the Haas VF-19s finicky nature, how important is the shutdown for Rich Energy Haas F1 Team personnel to take a break and come back refreshed for the final nine races of the season?
RG: “I think for everyone it’s important. It doesn’t matter if you’re leading or fighting, it’s draining. We’ve been racing now for four months, every other week, so everyone needs a bit of a rest. Summer break is always welcomed for that. We know the second part of the season is not any less tiring. There’s a lot of travel, which is great, but there’s a lot of jetlag and fatigue that goes with that.”

What will you do for your own well-being and self-preservation during the summer shutdown?
RG: “I spend some good time with my family, especially with my kids and my wife. I’ll probably go cycling – too much as my wife would say, not enough I would say. I’ll do a bit of kite surfing, because we’ve decided to go on vacation where there’s some wind.”

Work continues on the 2019 car and directions are being determined for the 2020 car, but an overview of regulations for the 2021 car has been revealed. What are your thoughts on the 2021 car, which features a new ground effect design that includes a much simpler front wing?
RG: “As drivers, we want better racing. We want to be able to follow another car, to be closer. I think those rules are going in a good direction. We’re hoping Pirelli can help us also with the tires. We hope that 2021 will be a good turn made by Formula One.”

Q&A Kevin Magnussen

What are your expectations for Hungary? Does the tighter track pose more of a challenge for Rich Energy Haas F1 Team or can it benefit the Haas VF-19?
KM: “It’s hard to say, really. We were strong in Monaco – that’s a pretty low-speed track, as is Hungary – but obviously not quite like Monaco. We’ll see when we get there. It’s pretty hard these days to make too many predictions.”

A lot of grip, a lot of braking and a lot of high-energy demands all conspire against tires at the Hungaroring. What do you need to do to manage the tires and get the most out of them?
KM: “You try and keep the rear tires – the tire surface temperature – in control with the throttle. You manage those temperatures as well as you can. That’s the main thing.”

You’re constantly turning the wheel at the Hungaroring and with the slower speeds, very little air flows into the car. Combined with the normally high temperatures experienced in Budapest, how physically demanding is the Hungarian Grand Prix?
KM: “It’s very physical because you don’t get many breaks. You’re always turning on the steering wheel. You’re always active in the car. Every track has its own characteristics. Hungary is a pretty enjoyable track to drive, even though it’s such a small and twisty circuit.”

Considering the amount of work the team has put into sorting the Haas VF-19s finicky nature, how important is the shutdown for Rich Energy Haas F1 Team personnel to take a break and come back refreshed for the final nine races of the season?
“I think it’s important. For us drivers it’s OK, but for the engineers, and especially the mechanics, they don’t get to see their families much during the year. They spend a lot of time together as a team, which is good in some ways as it gets them very close, but it’s a long year and they work crazy hours. It’s very good for them to get some time off and really completely switch off from Formula One.”

What will you do for your own well-being and self-preservation during the summer shutdown?
KM: “It’s good for us as drivers, mentally, to get that time off, but we don’t need it as much as the guys in the garage.”

Work continues on the 2019 car and directions are being determined for the 2020 car, but an overview of regulations for the 2021 car has been revealed. What are your thoughts on the 2021 car, which features a new ground effect design that includes a much simpler front wing?
KM: “I have an interest in it, but I feel it’s hard to really know what’s happening. I’ll wait to see what actually gets determined for 2021.”

Haas: The result looks better than it is

Norris fears rivals have moved ahead of McLaren

Norris fears rivals have moved ahead of McLaren

Lando Norris believes a number of McLaren’s rivals made bigger development steps in Germany that could lead to a tough Hungarian Grand Prix for his team.

Carlos Sainz qualified seventh and finished fifth in a chaotic race at Hockenheim, but Norris dropped out in Q1 for the first time this season before retiring from the race with a power unit issue. The midfield battle was particularly tight as Alfa Romeo, Haas, McLaren, Racing Point and Renault all got drivers into the top 10 in qualifying, and Norris says a number of other cars appeared quicker.

“(Germany) was already pretty tough, as good as it looked at times and with P5 as a result, our pace wasn’t that strong, so we’ve got a lot of work to do I think,” Norris said. “A lot of others brought upgrades and made some decent steps ahead of us.

“It’s going to be tough, no matter what — even if we’re quick or slow, it’s still going to be tough. But at the moment we don’t look like we have as strong as a car as we’ve had in the last few races. So yeah, we’ve been trying to improve.”

“That was a driver fault, the (Nico) Hulkenberg one — it was freaking tricky, so I’m not going to blame him. It’s good to maximize the points that we can get — which is what Carlos did and his guys — but if we’re just there for pure pace, we wouldn’t have had as good a result as they’d had.

“So we were lucky the conditions were like that, I think — if they are more plain and normal and boring, it’s going to be a much tougher weekend.”

While Norris failed to finish on Sunday due to a reliability issue, he also says he almost didn’t start the race after testing out conditions on his way to the grid.

“The only thing that was stupid that led to a lot of crashes was the drag strip. Luckily, I did it on my laps to the grid, because we had an onboard that we had to watch, the one magic lap from Fernando (Alonso) when he was with Ferrari, and he goes two wheels over the curb, onto the drag strip, and everything looks fine.

“So I did my lap to the grid, I tried it, and I genuinely thought I was going to be out of the race before I even started. I put the clutch in, full opposite lock, I’m not exaggerating! I was like, ‘Oh s••t, this is not going to be good!’ Because the guys were waiting there to put me up on the jacks and put me in my positions, and I had the biggest fright of my life.”

Brawn: German GP the best response to ‘vitriolic’ criticism of F1

Brawn: German GP the best response to ‘vitriolic’ criticism of F1

Formula 1 managing director Ross Brawn says last weekend’s entertaining German Grand Prix offered the perfect rebuttal to the recent “vitriolic” criticism of the sport.

Last month’s processional French Grand Prix led to a scathing review by fans and the media of F1’s current state of affairs and Mercedes’ tiring supremacy.

However, three successive action-packed races – and two Mercedes defeats – have gone a long way towards silencing the critics.

Last weekend’s German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, where changing track conditions captivated the crowd from start to finish, was but another perfect antidote to a potential plague of negative commentary.

“The German Grand Prix was incredibly exciting, from first lap to last,” wrote Brawn in his usual post-race debrief.

“It had everything, overtaking, mistakes, less than perfect strategies, immense bravery, crashes and a podium line-up – indeed a top-10 order – no-one could have predicted after qualifying.

“The points placings featured drivers from eight different teams, and on a day when the big guns faltered wholly or in part, only Toro Rosso and Haas managed to get both drivers in the points.

“It has to be said that intermittent rain really made the spectacle, but it can’t be denied that for different reasons, all three recent races have been hugely entertaining.

“It’s the best possible response to the unfortunate criticism the sport received after the French Grand Prix, some of it surprisingly vitriolic.”

Brawn conceded that not every race can keep spectators on their toes for the duration of the afternoon. But the F1 chief pushed back on frequent allegations that Grand Prix racing was boring.

“I’m not saying everything is perfect, especially when you consider that Daniil Kvyat’s third-place finish is only the third time that a driver from outside the top three teams has finished on the podium since 2017,” he added.

“But I think it is fair to say that over half of this year’s races have been anything but boring, despite the dominance of Mercedes who have simply done a better job than any of their rivals.

“Not every race can be at this level, but there are enough to make this the greatest motorsport series in the world.”

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Marko: PU upgrade for Monza and for Sochi new fuel

Marko: PU upgrade for Monza and for Sochi new fuel

Red Bull-Honda could soon close the gap completely to Mercedes according to Helmut Marko, after Max Verstappen won two of the past three grands prix, the latest a famous victory at an epic German Grand Prix.

“I would not rule it out,” the Red Bull official said when asked by Auto Motor und Sport if this world championship and closing the deficit is still a realistic target.

Marko admits that it took Red Bull some time to put the 2019 car in the sweet spot, “We should have looked better in France but the upgrades did not work as expected. Honda was also too conservative with the new engine.

“But in Austria, we put everything together for the first time. And Hockenheim showed that Mercedes makes mistakes if you can put proper pressure on them,” he said.

When asked how far away the Red Bull-Honda is from Mercedes in pure pace, Marko answered: “Not so far anymore. We were less than two tenths away at Silverstone and closer in Hockenheim if we had not had some problems. It’s going in the right direction.

“At Monza we get another engine upgrade, and in Russia we get new fuel. Then we should have unlocked the engine. A lot is also coming to the car. Wait and see,” said the Austrian.

Marko is therefore confident that Verstappen has received enough ‘signs’ that he should stay at Red Bull rather than triggering a contract exit clause, “We do not need to send him any more signals.”

Marko thinks the Dutchman has taken another big step forward in 2019. “His discipline and risk assessment are better, as is his feel for the tyres. And in a battle he is almost flawless. Unlike the Mercedes drivers. They are no longer used to a fight.”

Big Question: Can Honda close the gap to Mercedes before the end of the season?

Verstappen: Mercedes are still the dominant team

Masi denies Ferrari ‘unsafe release’ fine creates precedent

Masi denies Ferrari ‘unsafe release’ fine creates precedent

FIA race director Michael Masi denied that fining Ferrari for the unsafe release of Charles Leclerc in the German Grand Prix may have created a precedent that teams could exploit in the future.

Ferrari was hit with a €5,000 fine for releasing Leclerc into the path of Haas’ Romain Grosjean during Sunday’s chaotic race.

But the fact that the stewards opted for a fine rather than a five-second time penalty has brought about fears that teams could be incited to tempt fate in the future.

“I don’t think so,” said Masi. “I think it’s one of those… I think you’ve got to take each… I’m very much a firm believer, and the teams all agree, that you treat each case on its own merits.

“As much as you can try and group things, generally, you have to treat each and every circumstance that comes up and judge it.

“So yeah, I think in the end that’s pretty straightforward.”

©Ferrari

Masi also clarified why Ferrari’s unsafe release did not warrant a time penalty compared to a similar incident involving Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas that took place earlier this year at Monaco, and for which the Red Bull driver was punished with a five-second time penalty.

“In Monaco, for clarification, it was labelled an unsafe release, but it was actually for causing a collision in the pit lane,” explained the Aussie.

“So that’s why that was different to Germany, which was clearly an unsafe release.

“Part of the discussion we had with team managers the other day, knowing the conditions could be changeable, and also taking into account everyone coming into the pit lane to do tyres at the same time is going to be a factor, it is still quite clearly consistent with the previous penalties.

“The fact that every other team thereafter was out didn’t, even though the fast lane is as wide as it is, didn’t allow what we saw at Silverstone with the car driving on the painted area.”

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Marko: Gasly is too weak when fighting and overtaking

Marko: Gasly is too weak when fighting and overtaking

Pierre Gasly is very much under the microscope at Red Bull after a torrid German Grand Prix weekend in which he crashed and was not only humbled again by his teammate Max Verstappen and also the Toro Rosso duo.

Early season struggles for the Frenchman triggered speculation he could be ousted within his first season with the energy drink owned ‘senior’ team.

But then he bounced back with a strong showing at Silverstone before crashing twice at Hockenheim before race day and then was outshone on every front by the other trio of Red Bull backed drivers.

Red Bull’s driver manager Helmut Marko told Auto Motor und Sport, “In qualifying, he showed a strong reaction to his accident. His pace in the race wasn’t bad, but Gasly is just too weak when fighting and overtaking. The crash with Albon was completely unnecessary.”

If Red Bull does oust Gasly for 2020, the overwhelming favourites to replace him are Toro Rosso drivers Alex Albon or Daniil Kvyat, “Kvyat is a gifted racer, and Albon has again shown his fighting qualities. That’s a good prospect for the future.”

Big Question: Is Pierre the next Stoffel?

Villeneuve: Gasly’s very lucky to still be there

Villeneuve: Gasly’s very lucky to still be there

Villeneuve: Gasly’s very lucky to still be there

Pierre Gasly is only keeping his seat at Red Bull for now because of a lack of alternatives claims outspoken 1997 Formula 1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, who thinks Red Bull has been surprisingly lenient on the struggling French driver in 2019.

“It’s more than difficult,” he said when asked about Gasly’s current situation by MN Italia, “He’s really, really far away, and not at the level he should be.”

Amid intense pressure and rumours of an imminent ousting, Gasly took a step forward at Silverstone but 48-year-old Villeneuve doubts the situation will change fundamentally.

“Why should it?” said the French Canadian. “He’s lucky to still be there. Red Bull and Helmut Marko have been much more aggressive with their drivers in the past.

“It just shows that they don’t see anyone emerging in their ranks, so they don’t know who would replace him.”

Indeed, Villeneuve does not even think the more mature Daniil Kvyat would be a good replacement for Gasly, “They’ve already had him, so why would they do that? That’s not the way to go.”

“Driving in a big and a small team are very different things. Some drivers are incredible in small teams but not in big teams. It even happens with drivers who have ten years of experience,” Villeneuve added.

Big Question: Is Pierre a big team driver?

Gasly: I want to apologise to all the boys in the garage

If Renault are at 1000 hp why do they get lapped?

If Renault are at 1000 hp why do they get lapped?

Renault have hinted that they have broken the four-digit horsepower barrier with its ‘improved’ 2019 Formula 1 engine.

That is despite the fact that, just two weeks ago, a Mercedes engineer denied that even the championship-winning engine has broken through 1000 horsepower.

“No, not even Ferrari,” the engineer told Auto Motor und Sport about that elusive benchmark.

But Renault’s engine boss Remi Taffin says there are times when the French team’s 2019 engine achieves 1000hp, “There are only certain performance peaks in qualifying, We cannot always get that performance.

“In the race, we have over 950hp, and at times 960 or 970. It depends on many factors, including the circuit and the temperatures,” he explained.

When asked about Taffin’s claim, a Mercedes source responded: “We would not talk about 1000hp. Maybe Renault calculates it differently to us. What matters to us is the lap-time, anyway.”

As for Honda, a source at Red Bull commented, “We are reliable. Renault may be 1000hp, but we still lap their cars in the race.”

Big Question: If Renault are at 1000 hp why do they get lapped?

Renault: Our competitiveness level has been stronger

Van Lennep: In equal cars Mr Hamilton won’t see Max

Van Lennep: In equal cars Mr Hamilton won’t see Max

Max Verstappen is already a better driver than Lewis Hamilton claims fellow countryman Gijs van Lennep, as the Dutch youngster blows life into the mushrooming Orange Army which these days appears to include all of Holland.

77-year-old van Lennep, who raced 8 times in the 70s, thinks Verstappen is now ready to take on five-time F1 world champion Hamilton even at the wheel of identical equipment.

“Max no longer needs to learn anything,” van Lennep told De Telegraaf. “I often say that the best driver is in the best car, which in this case is Lewis Hamilton, but Max is just as good. Only his car is not at the same level.”

“Even so, Max has now managed to win several races with the car he has. I say that as long as Adrian Newey continues to be there and with a little bit of good luck, Max will be champion next year because he is the best driver on the grid.”

Van Lennep also thinks it is inevitable that Verstappen will eventually be at the wheel of the best car, “If he has an equal car, Mr Hamilton won’t see him.”

Big Question: Max v Lewis in equal cars… who will win?

Horner: Right now Verstappen is better than Hamilton

Prost: Current F1 regulations are not exactly ingenious

Prost: Current F1 regulations are not exactly ingenious

According to Formula 1 legend and Renault F1 advisor Alain Prost, the current regulations are making it difficult for Renault to catch the top teams, the French outfit fluctuating in the midpack pecking order still a second or so off the pacesetters.

Prost has been promoted from an advisory role at the French works team to become a Niki Lauda-style non-executive director.

The development comes as Renault struggles to meet its goal of closing the gap to Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.

“We always say the same thing, but the current situation is proof that the current regulations are not exactly ingenious,” quadruple world champion Prost told Canal Plus.

“In the winter we all thought Mercedes had faltered a little, and then we see they are still doing an incredibly good job. But if they can, then everyone else has to as well” and added “we have to be realists they are unbeatable” for now.

The 64-year-old, who won 51 grands prix until his retirement in 1993, explained, “We have to develop, develop and develop again, but at the same time get our reliability under control. I expect one or two more difficult races for us, then it should improve again.”

“We also have to be aware that these top teams are real machines, with considerably more resources and staff. So we have to be more resourceful,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the regulations leave little room to be more resourceful. We built a better car than 2018, but the others may have worked even better.

“But we also have a lot of developments to come, so let’s see how that develops. For now, we don’t see any reason to change our season goal,” insisted Prost.

Big Question: Have Renault ever really been in it during this F1 hybrid era?

Abiteboul: We’re level with Ferrari and Mercedes in the race

Haas to persist with split-specification cars in Hungary

Haas to persist with split-specification cars in Hungary

Haas has confirmed that it will once again run its VF-19 car in two different configurations in Hungary as it continues to investigate its car’s relatively weak race pace.

Haas’ successive updates during the first half of the season failed to deliver consistency to its car’s performance in qualifying and race trim.

The confusing discrepancy incited Romain Grosjean to request a return to the VF-19’s Melbourne specification, a demand that was duly granted for the British Grand Prix where teammate Kevin Magnussen ran with an updated car.

The comparison between the two specifications was cut short following a clash between the Haas drivers on the opening lap at Silverstone.

At Hockenheim, both cars saw the checkered flag, with Grosjean leading home his teammate. However, the team wasn’t any closer to elucidating its race pace riddle.

“We still haven’t come to a conclusion as to what is actually happening on our race pace – where we seem to be slow, but can do a good qualifying lap,” said team boss Guenther Steiner.

“So, we’ve decided to run again in Budapest – Grosjean with the Melbourne spec and Magnussen with the Hockenheim spec.”

©Haas

Formula 1 will enjoy a well deserved multi-week shutdown after Hungary, but it likely won’t be much of a holiday for Haas’ engineers who will be digging into all the data collected recently to define the VF-19’s optimal specification for Spa at the end of August.

“You take all the data and just try to compare where we can improve and see where we went off the plan,” added Steiner.

“At the beginning of the season we were looking very competitive, then in the races after Melbourne, that’s not been the case anymore.

“So, we need to understand what went sideways, and that is what you do when you compare two specs of car.

“Hopefully, we can get as much information as possible and come to a conclusion in which direction we need to work.”

©Haas

At Hockenheim, Grosjean expressed once again his preference for Haas’ Melbourne spec although the Frenchman recognized its potential limitations in terms of performance.

Ahead of next weekend’s race, Grosjean was candid about his prospects.

“We don’t really know how it’s going to go,” he admitted.

“We take everything race-by-race at the moment. For now, we’re in an experimental time as the car has been quite tricky to understand.”

“At some tracks where we thought we’d do well, we did not, and other tracks where we thought it was going to be a bit more tricky, things actually worked better. So, let’s just go race-by-race.”

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Ocon: I expect my phone to be very hot during the break

Ocon: I expect my phone to be very hot during the break

Esteban Ocon is expecting his mobile phone to be busy during the August break as Formula 1 takes a holiday as the sidelined Frenchman’s future is in the throes of being mapped.

Most of the rest of the F1 world will take a well-deserved break in August as the factories mandatorily shut dow, but Haas boss Gunther Steiner thinks Mercedes reserve Ocon is the key to the 2020 silly season, as he pushes to return to the grid next year.

With Mercedes’ assistance, the French driver is being promoted for potential seats at the works team, Renault, Racing Point, Haas and Williams.

“We will see what will happen with my future, I will have more answers after Budapest,” Ocon told the French broadcaster Canal Plus.

When asked about the forthcoming August break, Ocon answered: “There will be a lot of things going on for me. I expect my phone to be very hot during the summer break.”

“But as long as things are happening and people are talking about me, it’s a good thing. What I really hope for is a competitive car for next year.

“My dream has always been always to win races and championships, so I want to come back as soon as possible,” added Ocon.

Big Question: Where to for Esteban in 2020?

Wolff: We won’t block Ocon if we can’t offer him an F1 cockpit

Markus Shafer slips into Lauda’s seat at Mercedes

Markus Shafer slips into Lauda’s seat at Mercedes

At the time of his death in May, the F1 legend was the team’s non-executive chairman, reporting directly to Daimler’s management board.

Lauda was also a 10 per cent owner of the F1 team, but it is not known what will happen to that share.

Mercedes has now named the new non-executive chairman – Markus Shafer – who Bild report “will do the job differently” to Lauda. For instance, he is not expected to appear at many grands prix or get involved in the team’s day-to-day decisions.

Still, Toto Wolff is confident that Mercedes’ parent company continues to support the F1 project. The commitment of our parent company has been fundamental to the team’s success and will continue to be so in the years ahead.”

Niki Lauda The Bravest of the Brave

Williams: Russell is going nowhere

Williams: Russell is going nowhere

Williams is not going to let George Russell be poached by the Mercedes works team without a fight as the silly season hots up as the Formula 1 circus sets up tent in Budapest.

At Hockenheim, Toto Wolff suggested that Valtteri Bottas’ 2020 seat is not secure because of the promise of Mercedes’ juniors Russell and Esteban Ocon.

“We are very happy with their development. The aim is to make them ready for a seat in a Mercedes,” he said.

But Claire Williams, who has Russell at the struggling British team this year on loan from Mercedes, says Williams is not going to let the 21-year-old go.

“I told Toto that George is on a three-year contract with us, he is firmly in our plans for the future and is going nowhere,” she told the Daily Mail, and not the first time either.

Big Question: Is George all hype or the Real Deal?

Williams: Russell is world champ material and big part of our future

Ferrari seeking confirmation in Hungary of SF90 improvements

Ferrari seeking confirmation in Hungary of SF90 improvements

Scuderia Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto hopes next weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix will confirm the performance improvements displayed by its SF90 in recent races.

Since Barcelona, Ferrari has regularly implemented updates on its 2019 contender in a bid to chase down its Mercedes rival and improve its car’s speed and balance in medium and slow corners, an area where the Silver Arrows squad’s W10 has excelled.

The Italian outfit appears to have made some progress in recent races, but the slow and tortuous nature of Budapest’s Hungaroring – where Ferrari will roll out more updates – should provide another indication of the SF90’s performance relative to its Mercedes and Red Bull peers.

“It will be important to see if this race provides further confirmation that our car has improved on various types of track, said Binotto in the team’s Hungarian GP preview.

“We will be able to count on the various elements we introduced recently, as well as some aerodynamic updates.”

However, upgrades won’t be the team’s only focus in Hungary where the Scuderia will be keen to avoid the reliability issues that squandered its drivers’ qualifying efforts in Germany.

“Budapest is a track where cooling is usually an important factor and where cars run in maximum downforce configuration,” added Binotto.

“The tyres come under a lot of stress, because of the type of corners and that even applies over a single lap in qualifying.

“Of course, we are focusing on resolving our recent reliability problems to ensure they do not occur again.”

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Formula 1 on USA TV grows and breaks records on ESPN

Formula 1 on USA TV grows and breaks records on ESPN

F1 TV television

ESPN report that viewership of Formula 1 on their channel is breaking records with the most recent German Grand Prix breaking previous benchmarks.

  • Formula 1 Continues U.S. TV Growth on ESPN Networks – Audience Up Double Digits From Last Two Years
  • German Grand Prix on ESPN Attracts Race’s Largest Cable TV Audience on Record

In ESPN’s second season since returning to live Formula One World Championship race coverage, viewership for the race telecasts is continuing to grow after another record-setting telecast this past weekend.

With year-over-year audience increases in eight of the 11 live race telecasts so far this year, Formula 1 on ESPN networks is averaging double-digit viewership increases over averages of the past two seasons on U.S. television.

This past Sunday’s German Grand Prix averaged 688,000 viewers on ESPN, the largest audience for a cable television telecast of the race on record and an increase of 27 percent over the 543,000 average for last year’s telecast on ESPN2. The telecast peaked at 839,310 viewers between 10:45-11 a.m. ET as Max Verstappen won what many are calling the most thrilling race of the season.

Formula 1 races on ESPN networks are averaging 679,000 viewers through the first 11 events of the season, up 19 percent over last year’s average of 571,000 on ESPN networks and up 21 percent from the 561,000 average on NBC networks in 2017.

The next Formula 1 race is the Rolex Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday, August 4, at 9:05 a.m. on ESPN2 and the ESPN App.

Outside Line: Where’s the Love for Mercedes?

Outside Line: Where’s the Love for Mercedes?

They might have won the last five world titles and carry the flag of their country proudly, but Sunday’s German GP made it clear the love doesn’t go both ways for Mercedes.

I certainly didn’t think this way when I was boiling in the heat of Thursday and Friday, but there’s something to be said for “slumming it” by catching the train to the track, unlike most journalists. Taking your own car, you’re never going to get the same feeling as being amongst the rest of the F1 fans, and that proved a particularly illuminating experience at Hockenheim.

Being in the crowds, if only for a little while, it became very apparent very quickly that Mercedes were not viewed as the home heroes they’d like to be. Whether it was Seb Vettel/Ferrari fans, Dutch/Red Bull fans, Finns, and even a fair few Renault supporters, you would hardly know it was the German Grand Prix, save for the fact everyone was speaking, you know… German.

Now maybe it would be too much of a stretch to expect a similar level of patriotism to what Ferrari get in Italy, but I still expected some sort of passionate, pro-Mercedes presence. Instead, you had things like a red “Forza Seb” banner draped over Mercedes’ own grandstand – well, at least until it was taken down.

Apparently five-straight F1 world championships don’t count for much ’round these parts, nor does the fact that Mercedes was the only reason the race happened at all.

Of course, people have reasons other than nationality to give their allegiance, and that is fair enough, I just think that’s something Mercedes have tried very hard to cultivate – the notion that as much as the team is based in Brackley, and its lead driver is very much British, it is nevertheless a German outfit at heart. Unfortunately for them it hasn’t taken, and that goes doubly so with the way the crowds cheered when Lewis went off on Sunday.

Under no circumstances would you get a similar response should that happen to a Ferrari driver at Monza – indeed you’d be lucky to get anything more than stunned silence from the tifosi – but the Hockenheim faithful were nothing short of elated, revelling both in Lewis’ rare moment of weakness, and the opportunity it provided for other drivers.

For Lewis, Toto Wolff, Daimler Chairman Ola Källenius and everyone else at the Silver Arrows, that can’t have felt good.

Evidently, the German fans are as fed-up with their half-decade of dominance as everyone else, and seeing Lewis slide off at turn 16 was a welcome antidote. With that in mind, perhaps it’s a good thing the race won’t be returning in 2020 – if home is where the heart is, it’s definitely not in Hockenheim.

Big Question: Why don’t Mercedes get the love they wish for?

Mercedes reveal special 125 years of motorsport livery

Vettel: I’m as impatient as everyone but it will take a little while

Vettel: I’m as impatient as everyone but it will take a little while

Ferrari have not won in fourteen races, while their star driver Sebastian Vettel has been winless for nearly a year while their Tifosi have suffered without a title for their beloved team since 2008 when they won their last title.

In his fifth year with the Scuderia, Vettel has called for patience from their fans and told Sky F1, “I’m as impatient as everyone else to get the results finally but it will take a little while. We know what we can improve and that’s where we are working on but in the meantime, I hope that people are a bit patient and give us that freedom in that time.”

“It’s certainly a tough time for us as Ferrari with days like [qulaifying at Hockenheim] because it shows that we have things that we need to sort out, we have things that we need to do better but I think in this period it’s very important that we keep the morale, we keep supporting the team,”

“From the inside that is happening and from the outside I hope it’s happening as well. I know the Tifosi are behind us but sometimes the headlines can shift in either way so it’s important that we keep the support because I think things are moving,

“We are pushing very, very hard and when it comes to passion I think we put a lot of effort and a lot of hours in; the people are very determined,” added Vettel.

Big Question: How long do Ferrari need to get their act together?

Binotto: To be honest we expect more from Vettel

Wolff: ‘Bruised’ Mercedes will come back stronger

Wolff: ‘Bruised’ Mercedes will come back stronger

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff admits the Silver Arrows squad took a proper beating in Hockenheim but insisted the defeat will strengthen its troops.

Mercedes’ home race, which commemorated the team’s 200th Grand Prix start as well as 125 years of motorsport, was a disastrous story for the manufacturer.

Lewis Hamilton only salvaged a 9th-place finish thanks to Alfa Romeo’s post-race demotion out of the top 10, while Valtteri Bottas concluded his afternoon in the barriers, caught out by the treacherous conditions.

“I think everybody’s pretty bruised,” said Wolff.

“Because it’s one thing if a race goes against you and you’re losing a car, or you’re crashing out, or you haven’t done your best. But with both cars, not in the points, one out, one DNF…

“I think it’s fair enough to be bruised now. Go home and then come back in the office.

“These are the days that made us strong in the past, these are the days where you analyse and you scrutinise more than you have done in the past.

“You never go home and say, ‘Why the f**k did we win?’. You go home, ‘Why the f**k did we lose?’.

“And this is certainly going to be the discussion that we’re going to have. And we’re united in the pain, as we are united in the joy of winning.”

©Mercedes

The dismal outcome of an event that promised so much felt “bitter” to Wolff, although he stopped short of nominating the 2019 German Grand Prix as his worst race as the Silver Arrows team boss.

“You’ve got to stay humble because we’ve won many races, I don’t know how many, 80 or 90 races, and five championships,” explained the Austrian.

“And this is why the pain is just so much more intense of losing than actually the joy of winning. But that’s it.

“Is it the worst moment I’ve had? Well I can say that maybe the weather played against us today and we weren’t 100 percent chiefs of our own destiny.

“Maybe in Austria last year when we had a double DNF, which was to our own doing, felt worse. But at the moment it’s just very bitter.”

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Marko believes Verstappen still has a shot at the title

Marko believes Verstappen still has a shot at the title

Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko won’t rule out the possibility of Max Verstappen overhauling Lewis Hamilton in the fight for the 2019 drivers’ title.

Verstappen won his second race of the season at Hockenheim, albeit in extraordinary circumstances that saw the Dutchman’s key rivals – except for Sebastian Vettel – caught out by the chaotic changing conditions.

Still, Verstappen drove a remarkable and near perfect race, helped by the flawless pit work of his Red Bull crew.

“Max drove sensationally again,” Marko said, speaking to Auto Motor und Sport.

“The way he recovered from his spin, that was Senna style. When he had a clear track, he was world’s faster than anyone else.

“Also, our pit stops were optimal, we just made a mistake when we pulled out the medium tyres on the second stop. But that was understandable given the hectic rush.”

©RedBull

Verstappen currently sits third in the drivers’ standings, 41 points behind Hamilton. But the Red Bull charger has outscored the reigning world champion by 24 points in the last three races.

Asked if Verstappen could ultimately snatch the title from the Mercedes star, Marko said: “I would not rule it out.

“Max has proven he can overtake Mercedes and Ferrari on the track. In England he could have finished second had he not been stuck behind Leclerc for so long.

“And Hockenheim has shown that Mercedes can make mistakes if we can put pressure on them properly.”

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FIA explains difference between Verstappen and Leclerc pit lane penalties

FIA race director Michael Masi has explained the difference between Max Verstappen’s pit lane time penalty in Monaco and Charles Leclerc’s incident in the German Grand Prix.

Verstappen was released alongside Valtteri Bottas in Monaco and the two made contact, with Bottas needing an extra pit stop as a result. The stewards at the time gave Verstappen a five-second time penalty that demoted him from second to fourth in the final result, but a similar incident between Leclerc and Romain Grosjean at Hockenheim – in which the Haas driver braked to avoid contact – resulted in Ferrari picking up a fine without any time penalty.

“But part of the discussion we had with the team managers the other day, knowing the conditions could be changeable, was also taking into account if you’ve got everyone coming into the pit lane to do tires at the same time.

“That’s got to be a factor in it, but still quite clearly and consistent with the previous penalties – a €5000 fine for the team for what happened. The fact that every other team thereafter was out, even though the fast lane is as wide as it is, didn’t allow what we’d seen at Silverstone for a car to drive on the painted area.”

Masi insists the incident doesn’t set a precedent, saying he has the teams’ support to make more decisions based on individual circumstances rather than look at past incidents.

“No I don’t think so,” he said. “I’m very much a firm believer – and the teams agree, from the principals down – that you treat each case on its own merits. As much as you can try and group things generally, you have to treat each and every circumstance as it comes up and judge it. I thought that was pretty straightforward.

“It’s not something that’s happening regularly, it’s an isolated matter. I think the teams are pretty well aware of self-preservation, because the dangers of damaging the car and the consequences of that are far greater for them than anything else.”

While Red Bull team principal Christian Horner suggested he agreed with the Leclerc penalty and disagreed with Verstappen’s in Monaco, Haas boss Guenther Steiner says the FIA has to be careful teams don’t try and take advantage in the future.

“If it just costs money… I know what you’re saying – I’ll pay money and I get an advantage!” Steiner said. “I don’t know. Actually I didn’t think about that one, but we do need to think about this because it encourages people to pay, the FIA takes the money and we lose the positions. Everyone else wins except the guy who loses out.”

Stroll: My mistake cost podium in Germany

Lance Stroll believes a mistake he made in the German Grand Prix cost him a podium finish ahead of Daniil Kvyat.

The Racing Point driver was the first to change to slick tires for the final part of the chaotic race on Sunday, pitting at the end of the penultimate Safety Car period from the back of the field. It was the right call, as he took the lead for half a lap when others pitted ahead, but he was eventually passed by Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel and Kvyat to finish fourth.

“Initially I didn’t have very good pace on the slicks, but once everyone settled in, I had quite good pace, and we were in the hunt for a podium. Unfortunately it slipped away from us. I made an error in Turn 8 on my second or third lap on slicks, and that allowed Kvyat to overtake me. If only that wouldn’t have happened, I think we had the podium. But it’s still a great result, P4.”

Stroll has excelled in wet conditions before, securing a front row start at Monza in the rain in his rookie season, and said he takes confidence from his performances in such weather.

“I’m not driving everyone else’s car, I’m just driving my car,” he said. “We definitely had really good pace out there; certain parts of the race we were really, really strong even though we were in the back because we pitted five times, and we were on the wrong tire. When we were on the right tire, we were always catching the group in front of us by big margins every lap. So that gives me good confidence for the remainder of the season if ever it starts raining, I think we can be confident.”

Despite his pace, Stroll said Racing Point only got his strategy right at the end of the race on a day when all teams were trying to respond to constantly changing conditions.

“We got it wrong four out of the five times!” he said. “We went on slicks, then it started raining, then I spun twice in one lap, so I was limping back to the pit lane. We fitted the inters, and then it was dry, and it started to dry up, so we fitted another set of inters because we were destroying those inters, and then we fitted the slicks at the end.

“I’ll have to re-watch the race and figure it all out, because it’s a lot to reflect on and explain in detail. It was definitely an exciting one, and it goes to show that in these conditions, it’s never over until it’s over.”

Alfa Romeo recruits Ferrari’s Alessandro Cinelli as new head of aero

Alfa Romeo recruits Ferrari’s Alessandro Cinelli as new head of aero

Alessandro Cinelli, a 17-year Ferrari veteran, will move from Maranello to Hinwil where he will oversee Alfa Romeo racing’s aerodynamics department.

Cinelli will report directly to the team’s technical director and former aero chief Jan Mondchaux who was recently promoted to the post following the return of Simone Resta to the Scuderia.

Cinelli, who was Head of Aero Experimental Group and covered various other positions within Ferrari’s Aerodynamics department, is scheduled to begin work with Alfa Romeo on August 19th.

“I am delighted to welcome Alessandro to Sauber Motorsport and Alfa Romeo Racing,” said Alfa team boss Frédéric Vasseur.

“He joins a strong aerodynamics team and we are eager to see them continue the good work that was done so far.

“The recent appointments show how we continue to strengthen our structures and represent an evolution, rather than a revolution, of the system that has helped us progress in recent years.”

On his role with Alfa Romeo, Alessando Cinelli said:

“I am really excited about my appointment at Sauber Motorsport and I am looking forward to the challenge of leading an extremely talented group of people as Head of Aerodynamics,” the Italian engineer said.

“I join this young team with the mission to build on the solid foundations that have already been laid and to help produce results on track.

“I am confident we can continue on the right direction and bring even more success to the team.”

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‘Phenomenal turnaround’ from Honda aiding Red Bull charge

Red Bull’s Christian Horner credits the “phenomenal turnaround” that Honda has delivered over the past two years for some the team’s recent improvements after Max Verstappen’s second win in three races at last weekend’s German Grand Prix.

Verstappen won in Austria to give Honda its first victory since returning to Formula 1 in 2015, and then was able to challenge for pole position at Silverstone before having a podium slip away due to contact with Sebastian Vettel. In Germany, Verstappen won a thrilling wet race that also included Daniil Kvyat giving Toro Rosso its first podium in 11 years – and the first Honda double podium since 1992 – and Horner says gains with the car have been matched on the engine side by the Japanese manufacturer.

“[Germany] was harder [than Austria],” Horner said. “It’s fantastic for Honda; two cars, two engines on the podium. Red Bull drivers past and present up there as well. It was a good day for us.

“We have been getting more performance on the car. The chassis has been getting better, the engine’s been getting better, we’ve got some good stuff in the pipeline for the second half of the year… so our target is, we’ve got stable regulations from 2019 into 20, whatever we learn this year applies to next year, so we want to keep the trajectory going the way we are.”

Helmut Marko set a Red Bull target of five victories in 2019. Horner said that he doesn’t share that aim, but insisted that the team is further ahead than it expected to be at this stage of its Honda partnership.

“I never spoke about five wins!” he said. “Helmut, that’s his objective and optimism. At the halfway point we’ve won two grands prix, which is fantastic, considering this is a transition year with Honda. For Honda, if you think of the results they were getting a year or two ago, it’s a phenomenal turnaround.”

Although Red Bull has traditionally been very competitive at the Hungaroring, Horner still sees Mercedes as the favorite for this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

“Hungary is a track that we enjoy going to, but Mercedes’ slow corner performance is pretty mighty and I think they’re going to be tough opponents next weekend,” he said.

Leclerc’s full uncensored radio message after German GP exit

Charles Leclerc suffered a heartbreaking end to his German Grand Prix, the Ferrari driver committing a small mistake that led to big consequences at Hockenheim.

Leclerc was skillfully navigating the track’s treacherous waters, positioned in second place behind leader Lewis Hamilton on lap 27 when he ran wide at the exit of Turn 15.

The Monegasque found himself on the very slippery run-off tarmac, unable to regain control of his car, even at slow speed, as he drifted into the gravel and out of the race.

Leclerc radioed in his obvious frustration, with himself and the tarmac which he later criticized as being “unacceptable” for F1.

Listen to the full one-way radio communication between the Ferrari driver and his crew.

Interestingly, a fan present in Hockenheim’s SudTribune A captured footage of Leclerc walking away from his stranded car just as Hamilton veered off course at the exact same spot, when the Safety Car car had already been deployed.

Leclerc was apparently oblivious of Hamilton’s mishap which fortunately did not put the Ferrari driver in harm’s way.

Hamilton was also lucky to extract himself from the gravel and make his way to the pitlane.

Check out the video:

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Vettel: Formula 1 losing German GP would be wrong

Vettel: Formula 1 losing German GP would be wrong

Sebastian Vettel believes that Formula 1 would be wrong to remove the German Grand Prix – or any other historical race – from its calendar, based on financial considerations alone.

The event at Hockenheim delivered a thrilling and entertaining afternoon of racing, in which Vettel did his part to please the local crowd thanks to a spirited driver from dead last on the grid to second.

Unfortunately, German fans may have witnessed on Sunday their country’s last F1 Grand Prix, at least for the foreseeable future, as the race’s promoters have so far been unable to secure the financial backing necessary to keep their event on the sport’s schedule.

Mercedes who acted as the race’s title sponsor – and savior – this year has already said that it is unlikely to step in to fund the race in 2020.

Many agree however that Germany’s automotive and motorsport history warrant its presence on the calendar. And Vettel thinks that presence should not always be conditioned by money.

“I know the people here very well,” said the Ferrari driver, quoted by RaceFans.net.

“They are putting a lot of effort and a lot of passion. They are very keen on staying and having the grand prix here. It’s a great show.

“I don’t think they make any money. I think they lost money last year. Thanks to Mercedes [this year’s title sponsor] they were able to have the grand prix again.

“So I don’t know what is the negotiation for next year and how much more money they would need or not, I don’t know.

“But the problem is obviously that Germany is not keen to pay anything so you need people from outside, investors.

“The government is not happy to support unlike in the Netherlands, unlike in other places that we go.”

As far as Vettel is concerned, none of the sport’s historical races should become vulnerable to F1’s financial demands.

“I think it’s important that we don’t lose certain grands prix irrelevant of what they pay,” added the German.

“Formula 1 without Monza would be stupid. Losing big countries with a lot of racing history like Germany or, we’ve been to Spain through the years, I think is wrong.

“But I’m not deciding. People always want to make money and profit so it doesn’t help if tracks pay less than others.

But I think it’s important to bring the sport where there’s passion for the sport so keep countries like Germany on the calendar or the UK or those iconic places. That would be my take on it.

“I think it’s more fun as well for us driving in front of a lot of people rather than empty grandstands. Even if they are all equipped with new seats but useless when there’s nobody sitting in them.”

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Leclerc: It’s just unacceptable and dangerous

Leclerc: It’s just unacceptable and dangerous

A frustrated Charles Leclerc said that the low-grip asphalt used on the outside of the final corners, where the Ferrari driver made a mistake and crashed out of Sunday’s German Grand Prix, is “unacceptable” in Formula 1.

The Monegasque driver, who had started 10th and climbed into the top six, admitted he was “completely at fault” for his accident in Turn 16 as he prepared to take the lead of the chaotic rain-hit race.

“I’m disappointed with myself,” he said. “It wasn’t a huge mistake. It’s a small mistake and I’ve done a lot bigger mistakes during the season.

“It doesn’t make anything better for my mistake, but, first of all, I think the asphalt in the last two corners – it’s just unacceptable that we have that on a F1 track when it’s wet.

“We can’t have so much low-grip. We’ve seen other drivers too, maybe I was the only one on slicks, but I was at 60kph and had absolutely no grip. There’s something there. It’s like a dragster track and once you go on it, it’s just very, very dangerous.”

“But overall that does not forgive my mistake. I’m completely at fault today and it’s a huge shame. I’m very sorry for the fans and the team,” the 21-year-old added.

Pn the day several top drivers skidded off the track in a similar fashion in the same part of the circuit – adjacent to the entry of the pitlane – including championship leader Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes and his team-mate Valtteri Bottas and Nico Hulkenberg of Renault.

Leclerc’s teammate Sebastian Vettel finished a delighted second after starting from 20th and last on the grid, “It took a while — I don’t think there was a problem, but at the beginning, with the intermediates, I couldn’t get the hang of it.”

“But, eventually I got going, so it’s good the afternoon took so long. I stayed tidy for most of the race. It was a long one!” reckoned the German.

Big Question: Were conditions too dangerous to run the race at Hockenheim?

Leclerc: It’s a shame and I am sorry for the team and our fans

Brawn salutes ‘almost flawless’ performance from Verstappen

Brawn salutes ‘almost flawless’ performance from Verstappen

Formula 1 managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn labeled as “almost flawless” and “masterful” Max Verstappen’s winning performance in Sunday’s German Grand Prix.

Rain at the outset and changing conditions throughout led to chaotic but very entertaining race at Hockenheim, where Mercedes fell off a cliff in front of its home crowd while Red Bull’s Verstappen skillfully picked up the pieces to secure his second win of the 2019 season.

Amid the chaos, Verstappen endured his own share of tumult, suffering a poor start from the front row alongside Lewis Hamilton and then treating his large congregation of Dutch fans to a frightening 360-degree spin.

The mishap proved benign however for the Red Bull charger who went on to collect his seventh career win in F1.

“The Dutchman and his Red Bull delivered an almost flawless performance in Hockenheim, Brawn said in his post-race debrief;

“The only two mistakes were a less than perfect start from the front row that briefly dropped him to fourth, and a harmless spin after switching to medium tyres shortly before half distance.

“However, as was the case in Austria, Max didn’t let either misstep impact on his performance, and again as with Austria, he simply got his head down and put his foot down on the way to a masterful seventh career win – and a point for the fastest lap of the race.”

“The win puts him right up behind Valtteri Bottas in the drivers’ standings and it would be impressive if he can split the Mercedes pair, who, thus far have appeared untouchable.”

.

The German round of the F1 world championship also saw Honda collect its second win of the season and its first double-podium finish since 1992.

Brawn believes the accomplishment points to a maturing partnership between Honda and Red Bull.

“The second win for the Red Bull-Honda combination is further reason for them to feel pride in their achievements,” he added.

“They both took a risk teaming up for this adventure, but it already seems to be paying off.”

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Mercedes names successor to Lauda as non-executive chairman

The Mercedes F1 team has announced that Daimler’s Markus Schäfer has been nominated as the outfit’s new non-executive chairman.

Schäfer – a former non-executive director of the Silver Arrows outfit and member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development – follows in the footsteps of Niki Lauda who passed away earlier this year.

Mercedes has also appointed Frank Markus Weber, Vice President Corporate Development of Daimler AG, as a non-executive director of the team with immediate effect

“The commitment of our parent company has been fundamental to the team’s success and will continue to be so in the years ahead,” said Mercedes team principal and CEO Toto Wolff.

“This support for Formula One has always been reflected in our team’s board, with strong representation from Daimler’s senior leadership, and it continues through the appointments of Markus and Frank Markus for the years ahead.

“Formula One is a powerful technology and marketing platform for Mercedes-Benz globally, and a valuable shop window for the company’s values and its competitiveness.”

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Rossi: It feels good to continue with Andretti Autosport

Rossi: It feels good to continue with Andretti Autosport

Alexander Rossi will continue to call Andretti Autosport home after extending his tenure with the team on a multi-year agreement

The championship contender will return in 2020 and beyond to pilot the #27 Honda, with primary sponsorship divided between long-time team partners NAPA Auto Parts and AutoNation.

“We’ve been working hard on this, and I’m happy to see everything come together,” said Andretti Autosport Chairman and CEO, Michael Andretti. “Since 2016, we’ve built a strong relationship with NAPA Auto Parts – they’re such a natural fit for the series, Alexander and for the team and we’re pleased to be able to continue working with them into 2020 and beyond.

“We first met AutoNation through Ryan Hunter-Reay – and we can’t thank Ryan enough for his support and efforts in helping the continued growth of that relationship. It’s been exciting to see AutoNation grow within the sport, and to see them now welcome Alexander to their family is just great.”

NAPA Auto Parts first appeared as a partner with the Andretti Autosport team in 2016 for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 where Rossi drove his NAPA Racing machine to victory lane. Headquartered in Atlanta, NAPA Auto Parts will paint the #27 racing machine at nine races, including the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 and for the championship run up to the season finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

“We are pleased to announce our extension with Andretti Autosport and Alexander Rossi,” stated Gaylord Spencer, NAPA Senior Vice President – Marketing. “Since our initial partnership back in May of 2016, when NAPA was fortunate enough to ride along to a historic win at the 100th Running of the Indy 500, the team at Andretti Autosport and Alexander have continued to represent us well both on and off the track.

Alexander brings a unique style to IndyCar that resonates well with many loyal fans of Indy car racing. NAPA is honored to play a small part in keeping this winning combination together for many years to come.”

AutoNation, America’s largest automotive retailer, has been a long-time partner with the championship-winning team providing associate support for Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti and made their IndyCar Series primary sponsorship debut at the 2017 Indianapolis 500.

The past two seasons, AutoNation’s DRVPNK campaign decorated Marco Andretti’s race car for the doubleheader event in Detroit. The NTT IndyCar Series circuit will see an AutoNation livery featured at seven events including the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and the Indycar Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as well as the Detroit Grand Prix.

“Alexander is a great addition to the AutoNation Team,” said Marc Cannon, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for AutoNation. “We look forward to a very successful run for the #27 AutoNation/NAPA Auto Parts Honda. AutoNation continues to partner with great drivers and co-sponsors; 2020 is going to be a memorable IndyCar season.”

Rossi boasts a total of seven wins (Indianapolis ’16, Watkins Glen ‘17, Long Beach ’18, Mid-Ohio ’18, Pocono ’18, Long Beach ’19, Road America ’19) and 18 podiums in just 62 starts. Finishing second in the 2018 championship, Rossi currently sits second in the championship, 29 points from the lead with five races remaining. The 2020 season will mark Rossi’s fifth season in the NTT IndyCar Series, each with Andretti Autosport and Honda.

“It feels good to continue with Andretti Autosport,” said Rossi. “Over the past four years, we’ve built a very strong team with great chemistry and I believe that we have the tools necessary to win races and championships.

“I’m looking forward to not just calling this my team, but my home in the IndyCar Series. Michael [Andretti], J-F [Thormann], Doug [Bresnahan] and the entire team have been working very hard to put all the pieces of this deal together and it’s definitely a relief to have the future settled and be able to focus on the championship fight ahead of us.

“It’s fantastic to have NAPA Auto Parts, AutoNation and Honda supporting the 27 program. I’ve had the pleasure of developing a great relationship with both NAPA and Honda and couldn’t imagine not having them in my corner.

“AutoNation has always had a strong partnership with the team through Ryan [Hunter-Reay] and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to represent the Drive Pink campaign and getting to know the AutoNation team better.”

The Andretti Autosport team will also continue to drive under Honda Power in 2020 as part of a multi-year extension. Together, Andretti Autosport and Honda Performance Development have captured three championships and five Indianapolis 500 wins.

In addition, the team has collected 55 Indy car wins with Honda power. In 2018, Honda won the NTT IndyCar Series manufacturers championship with 11 wins in 17 races. Honda currently leads Chevrolet in a tight battle for the 2019 championship.

“We have a longstanding relationship of success with Honda and we’re happy to continue to build accolades together” continued Andretti. “All five of our Indy 500 wins have come under Honda power, and I’m looking forward to working with the entire HPD team to add to that count.”

“This is an important moment for Honda Performance Development,” said Ted Klaus, President, Honda Performance Development. “Andretti Autosport is unquestionably one of the premier teams in the NTT IndyCar Series, and we are gratified to earn their confidence for the foreseeable future.

At HPD, our first goal every season is winning the Indianapolis 500, and Andretti Autosport has won more ‘500s’ for Honda than any other team. That said, HPD is fortunate to work with multiple high-caliber racing organizations. This commitment from Andretti Autosport strengthens our entire effort, as we move into the next era of Indy car competition.”

Rossi continued his quest to capture his first championship by securing a P5 finish at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this past weekend, his tenth top-five finish of the season. The next race is Aug. 18 at Pocono Raceway.

Big Question: Why did Haas not swoop on Alex?

Hamilton and Vettel lead call to save German Grand Prix

Hamilton and Vettel lead call to save German Grand Prix

Formula 1’s top drivers Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton are pleading with the sport to keep Hockenheim on the calendar.

It seems that both Barcelona and Hockenheim could be missing from the 2020 schedule in order to make room for new races at Zandvoort and Vietnam.

“We just had a great race and it would be a shame to lose it,” Ferrari’s Vettel told DPA news agency before leaving Hockenheim for potentially the last time. It’s important to have the sport where the passion is.”

“Germany and Spain have long histories of racing, so it would be pity to lose them and instead go to a place where they pay millions to host the race but nobody is in the stands,” he added.

Vettel also told Bild newspaper: “I know the people here at Hockenheim very well. They don’t make any money from Formula 1, but their passion and dedication is remarkable. But in Germany, unlike many other countries, there is no political support.”

Mercedes’ Hamilton told RTL he agrees with his Ferrari rival, “There are only a few races that are the home of motorsport with such passionate spectators. Whatever happens, we 100 per cent need a German Grand Prix.

Hockenheim could be 2020 F1 season stand-by race

Red Bull sets another world record for fastest pit stop!

Red Bull sets another world record for fastest pit stop!

Just one race after lowering the benchmark for the fastest pit stop in the history of F1, Red Bull Racing did it again at Hockenheim where Max Verstappen’s all four wheels were changed in a record 1.88 seconds!

The Milton Keynes-based outfit and its blindingly fast and skilled mechanics were rewarded for the second race running with the DHL Fastest Pit Stop Award, and the team leads the current rankings from Williams and Ferrari.

Red Bull’s new record shaved a few hundreds off the 1.91-second pit stop executed by the team at Silverstone with Pierre Gasly.

There was no respite for F1’s team crews in last Sunday’s race, with the changing and chaotic conditions forcing drivers into the pits on multiple occasions.

Verstappen made five tyre changes over the course of the 64-lap race while teammate Pierre Gasly stopped four times.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was full of praise for his team’s expert pit work.

“The pit stop crew were unbelievable today,” said Horner, who sent chief mechanic Phil Turner up to the podium to collect the constructor’s trophy.

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#TheXtraLap: Gasly didn’t deliver and other Hockenheim stories

#TheXtraLap: Gasly didn’t deliver and other Hockenheim stories

This edition of #TheXtraLap provides insight into the #GermanGP on Twittersphere, his take on one of the craziest races in memory, definitely worthy of Race of the Century – here are the extra bits you might have missed out in the aftermath of an epic weekend at Hockenheim.

#GermanGP

When the weekend started on Friday, I thought Ferrari would be the team to beat and Mercedes could be in a bit of trouble while Red Bull stayed in the mix. Saturday morning came and my first indication got confirmed when Ferrari topped all 3 practice sessions.

Saturday afternoon and it was game on but many, including myself, were shocked by the outcome as Ferrari had one issue after the other in qualifying and Mercedes took yet another pole position with Hamilton while Bottas lined up in 3rd.

Red Bull’s Verstappen took 2nd and Gasly took an impressive 4th. A few other surprises went through to Q3 so the Sunday would prove to be a great day. Sunday came and it was wet. This would be the “extra” ingredient the race needed to make it something spectacular.

For the full length of the race, something happened up and down the grid with Verstappen to be the winner so I will try to give my low-down, team by team, in this week’s episode of #TheXtraLap.

Is Mercedes making mistakes under pressure?

In the last few races, it became clear that Mercedes wasn’t bulletproof but in Germany, it went from bad to worse. During the race, although in wet conditions, both Hamilton and Bottas made a few mistakes but the team really messed up during one of their pitstops.

It was disorganised and it showed that, if things don’t go exactly as planned, they are also human and make mistakes. On track, Hamilton made an error behind the safetycar, went off and damaged his front wing. If that wasn’t bad enough, he came across the track to enter the pit entry on the wrong side of the bollard which earned him a 5 second time penalty.

Could it get worse?

Yes. Bottas, on podium course, dropped it on the kerbs and spun into the wall, damaging his car to the extent he had a DNF. All in all, Mercedes can call themselves lucky to salvage 2 points because due to the Alfa Romeo penalties, Hamilton got P9 as a gift. A weekend to forget.

Did Ferrari show they still have it?

With Leclerc starting in 10th and Vettel in 20th position, it all looked like Leclerc would be the one scoring good points and hopefully Vettel could make it into the top 10. Nothing was further from the truth as the race unfolded.

Both Ferrari men had a good start and at one point, Leclerc was up to P4 while Vettel battled his way up to P10. With everything that was going on around them, Ferrari made the right strategic calls and both Leclerc and Vettel looked like they would end up with some great points.

Then disaster struck and Leclerc went off into the wall and it was a DNF for him. Vettel meanwhile, kept picking off drivers left and right and at the finish, found himself in 2nd position. A race with 2 sides but all in all, a great weekend for the men in red.

Is Red Bull a contender for 2nd or even 1st in the WCC championship?

Looking at how Verstappen is performing this season, he does have a shot for second in the drivers’ championship BUT to get second in the constructors’ championship or even first, you need both cars to get as many points as possible. We just finished the 11th race of the season and while Verstappen is third in the WDC with 162 points, he is just 22 points behind Bottas.

Gasly once again didn’t deliver and is still on just 55 points, 7 points ahead of Sainz. Starting the race, both Red Bull cars got off to a bad start, dropping Verstappen from 2nd to 4th at turn 1 but Gasly dropped even further from 4th to 11th.

As Verstappen worked his way back up, and with a great strategy, eventually taking the lead, Gasly couldn’t manage to make up enough ground and while being in 7th, tried a move on Albon that didn’t work and he damaged the car and went off. Another bad result for the Frenchman.

Again, talks about replacing Gasly resurfaced but I think, although he’s not delivering for the team, he will remain for this season. That said, if Gasly doesn’t turn the switch, I’m not sure if he’s in the RB16 in 2020.

Can McLaren keep the momentum going?

What to say about McLaren? Again, they did better than the factory team and even though Norris pulled over on lap 25 with an issue (no power), both cars were running quite high. At one point, Sainz was even battling with Hamilton for positions. At the finish line, Sainz was 5th and that was a great result for the team. If McLaren keeps up their rate of progress, they can keep 4th position in the WCC and be best of the rest.

Have Toro Rosso found a solution?

During the last few races, Toro Rosso have been there or thereabout but couldn’t make that final push to get some good points. In Germany however, the weather gods helped them a bit and it resulted in Kvyat coming home in 3rd and Albon fighting to a well earned 6th position.

In all honesty, if Leclerc and Gasly didn’t go off and both Mercedes cars weren’t having the issues, we would never have the podium we saw on Sunday. Don’t get me wrong though, I enjoyed every single minute of the race and feel that both Kvyat and Albon got what they deserved. Kvyat, who just became a dad on Saturday night, had an awesome race, defended where needed and was smart not to defend too hard when it wasn’t the time or place to do so.

Then there’s Albon who, before Sunday, had never driven an F1 car in the wet. Albon held his ground and together with a great strategy from the team, both men earned a great haul of points for the small Italian team. So have they found a solution? I hope so but if they can keep finishing inside the top 10, they would be doing an awesome job.

A weekend to forget for Renault.

From Friday onwards, Renault had trouble finding the pace needed to be on the front end of the midfield. With Hulkenberg starting in 9th and Ricciardo in 13th, the surprises came throughout the race.

As Ricciardo experienced an exhaust issue and had to pull out of the race in a cloud of smoke, it was Hulkenberg who at one point, found himself in 2nd position and his first ever podium in 169 races could be on the cards.

It wasn’t meant to be as he went wide in turn 16 and couldn’t recover enough and hit the wall. Both Renault cars scored zero points in Germany and they need to work hard to defend their 6th position in the WCC with just 39 points out of 11 races with Racing Point on 31 behind them in 7th.

Is the B-spec car for Racing Point an improvement?

On Friday, Racing Point came out with a car full of upgrades and updates and straight out of the block, it showed potential. During qualifying, Lance Stroll managed to get out of Q1 for the first time this season and with the Canadian starting from 15th, points were possible.

Sergio Perez did it better and he found himself in 8th on the grid. As with (almost) all teams, Racing Point came across some issues during the race but it was Perez who made the mistake of getting on the power too soon on a wet kerb which made him spin around and his race ended up in the wall.

All was not lost as Stroll was in a groove and thanks to a bold move during one of the pitstops, it was the Canadian who went out on slick tyres first. This ultimately meant he could make up ground and when the other drivers went in to pit, Stroll found himself in a podium position. In the end, he couldn’t hold on but came across the finish in 4th position, earning himself and the team 12 strong points.

Which path will Haas go towards the future?

Like the last race, Haas opted to put Grosjean in a car that was set up with the Australia specs while Magnussen had all upgraded parts on his car. From Friday onwards, Grosjean looked to have the better car. At least Grosjean felt better in his car and could push a bit more without having too many issues.

Grosjean started 6th with Magnussen 12th but after lap 1, both cars were inside the top 10 and all looked good for the team. While both drivers are known for making contact with each other, it seemed to be going well in Germany.

But somehow, they couldn’t behave again as Grosjean tried a move on Magnussen by going around the outside and steered in too early and again, there was contact. Fortunately, this time, it wasn’t a race-ending contact so both drivers could continue. Grosjean ended up 9th and Magnussen 10th but due to the Alfa Romeo penalties, they both moved up two spots and bagged 10 points for the team.

Not knowing if Grosjean actually raced with the Australia spec, it is hard to say how they need to move forward but at least they managed to have a solid race.

A great result out of the window for Alfa Romeo.

With a 5th place on the grid for Raikkonen and a 11th for Giovinazzi, Sunday promised to be a great day for the Swiss team. Although Raikkonen stayed more or less out of trouble, it was Giovinazzi who had some great battles left and right to end up right behind his teammate.

It turned out to be a strange Sunday as after the race, it became clear that both Alfa Romeo drivers were reported to the stewards for a “false start”. (The investigation related to the driver’s getaways from the starting grid, specifically how the torque demand from the driver matches the actual torque in the clutch.

The FIA demands that the output from the clutch matches the driver input within a 70 millisecond time frame. At the start of the race, the Alfa Romeo cars took 200 and 300 milliseconds to match the output with the input.

This regulation exists to prevent teams using their ECUs as a form of traction control and, whilst Alfa Romeo argued that this occurred because of the lack of wet-weather practice, the only course of action was to issue a ten-second stop-and-go penalty.

As this stop-and-go penalty cannot be served after the race (because the issue was not spotted in-race by the stewards), the penalty is converted into a 30-second post-race time penalty. / explanation thanks to Thomas Maher)

This all meant that Raikkonen dropped to 12th and Giovinazzi dropped to 13th. HOWEVER, Alfa Romeo is planning to appeal the decision so we have to wait on the official outcome of the German GP.

Is Williams slowly getting their act together?

Williams came into the weekend on Friday with an update for Kubica, with Russell getting it on Saturday so that data could be compared. To the outside, it was hard to tell if it all worked as both cars remained in 19th and 20th position but it had to be said, they were closer to the rest of the midfield so the first signs were good. On Sunday, Russell lined up in 18th on the grid while Kubica was behind him in 19th. During the early stages of the race, both drivers kept their noses clean and they could keep up with the rest of the field. A large part of this was because of the wet track and the multiple safetycars that bunched up the field. Everybody needs a bit of luck and no matter what happened during the race, Russell and Kubica did very well and at 1 point Kubica was in front of Russell. At the finish, the Williams team established a new record because after the German GP, they are the only team that had both cars finish every race in 2019. And to top that off, due to the Alfa Romeo penalties, Kubica was pushed forward to 10th position and 1 hard earned point in WDC and WCC. Russell just couldn’t manage to be close enough to Kubica at the finishline so he ended up in 13th position. That said, with the appeal of Alfa Romeo, the outcome might change again.

Social media went crazy on Sunday.

It wasn’t just the on-track action that was massive but also on social media, things went crazy as soon as the lights went out. A lot of positive feedback came for the German GP as a whole but some negative comments were thrown at Mercedes and Renault.

Gasly also got his portion of internet trolling but at the end of the day, social media was an awesome place to be as it provided so much info, so much fan footage and so much pleasure to read everything. Now we head off to Hungary this weekend as it is a back-to-back race weekend for F1.

As @MsportXtra , I already have the Weekend Outlook updated and ready for the fans to enjoy. Looking forward to doing the 12th #TheXtraLap in 1 weeks time.

TheXtraLap: Hamilton on top after sixth #BritishGP win

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