Ferrari: The feeling in the car was good

Ferrari: The feeling in the car was good

Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc got through all their planned programme for the two Friday free practice sessions in preparation for the German Grand Prix.

They also topped the time sheets on a day when Hockenheim was a veritable furnace with the air temperature reaching 38 degrees, while the track temp hit 52.

FP1. In the first session, Sebastian and Charles ran the Soft tyres, working on finding the best car balance for qualifying and the race. They also assessed various aero configurations, while simulating different phases of the race. Overall, the two drivers did 46 laps, 21 for Vettel, with a best of 1’14”013, while Leclerc did 25, stopping the clocks in 1’14”268.

FP2. In the second 90 minutes, when air and track temperatures shot up, Charles and Sebastian began with a qualifying simulation to set their best times of the day in 1’13”449 and 1’13”573 respectively. The team then began working in race trim, with Leclerc running the Medium tyres and Sebastian the Hards.

Programme. The third free practice session in preparation for qualifying begins at noon, while the grid-decider begins at 15.00 CET, when the forecast is for quite a high risk of a thunderstorm. There is less chance of rain on Sunday (the race will start at 15.10), but the temperatures are due to drop.

Sebastian Vettel: “I am happy with how today went. It took me a short while before finding the rhythm. We lost a bit of time in the first session when running the Mediums because of a red flag.

“I don’t know what programme our rivals were on, and how much they had to turn down the engine mapping because of the heat. It would be nice to have this weather on Sunday.

“Overall, it was a positive day, mainly because we have understood how to manage the car in these conditions. We got through all our programme aimed at having the car in the best possible set up and we have to continue down this route tomorrow when track conditions and the weather could be very different.”

Charles Leclerc: “It was a positive day overall. The feeling in the car was good and we performed well during the high-fuel runs, which was one of our main challenges at the beginning of the season.

“High temperatures, such as those we saw today, suit our car well. It seems that there may be a change in the weather conditions tomorrow and on Sunday, which we will adapt to.

“Over the past few weekends, our competitors only revealed their full potential in qualifying. We must keep our heads down and continue working on optimizing our performance on this track. I look forward to being back in the car tomorrow and will give my best to put it on the front row.”

Hockenheim FP2: Leclerc fastest but it’s close at the top

Haas: Everything is currently in the hands of the lawyers

Haas: Everything is currently in the hands of the lawyers

Haas F1 team principal Gunther Steiner says the American team’s title sponsorship situation could change after the summer break but for now not much is being said as matters are now in the hands of lawyers.

At Silverstone, a farcical saga involving the controversial energy drink Rich Energy and its boss William Storey cast a shadow over Haas’ sponsor deal.

Team boss Steiner hinted at Hockenheim that the situation could soon change.

“We are still where we were before,” he said. “That means we have to hear from them about how to proceed.

“I don’t know what’s happening internally with them, but I don’t want to know either. It’s not our business.

“All I can say is that we have to get an answer from them before the summer break. That is a deadline that is legally binding,” Steiner added. “Everything is currently in the hands of the lawyers.”

Steiner confirmed that Rich Energy is not currently in arrears with its sponsorship payments.

Reader Rights: Making sense of Rich Energy endgame

Vettel: We presented our point of view about F1 as drivers

Vettel: We presented our point of view about F1 as drivers

Earlier this week Formula 1 drivers presented the FIA and Liberty with a ‘four-point plan’ to improve the sport at the highest level as stakeholders plot the way forward for 2021 and beyond.

A recent meeting about the 2021 rules was attended by Lewis Hamilton and Nico Hulkenberg. And on Tuesday in Geneva, Sebastian Vettel and Romain Grosjean were there to similarly represent the now-united Grand Prix Drivers’ Association.

“We have four main points that we want to address,” Grosjean is quoted by France’s Auto Hebdo. “They are tyres, aerodynamics, the weight of the cars and the disparity of income between the teams. If we solve those four points, the competition will be very beautiful.”

He said the tyres, aerodynamics and weight all work together, with the currently very heavy cars putting too much strain on the tyres, “When I started in 2009, the cars were 605 kilograms. Now they are more than 740.”

“You really feel that difference of 140 kilos. In the slow corners, the cars are very heavy, and I’m not even talking about the start of the race where we have 850kg with the fuel. We feel that it’s too much for F1,” he added.

Grosjean said FIA president Jean Todt has promised the GPDA “full support” with Vettel, also in Geneva on Tuesday, adding: “We presented our point of view. Let’s see what happens.

“If we continue only to debate, not much will happen. At some point, actions must be taken. But that doesn’t work if everyone is talking.

“Someone needs to say this is what we are doing. That’s why I think the decision-making process must be a lot simpler in the future,” the Ferrari driver added.

Big Question: Is it good to involve drivers in the decision-making process regarding the future rules of F1?

2021 Update: The shape of Formula 1’s future 

Spanish Grand Prix organiser says no deal done for 2020

Spanish Grand Prix organiser says no deal done for 2020

Barcelona Aerial view photo

The Spanish Grand Prix circuit owners say no deal has yet been reached to host a Formula 1 race next year.

Spain holds one of five F1 races whose contracts run out this year, and attendance has fallen sharply from 140,000 spectators in 2007 to 90,000 in 2018.

Amid media reports a deal has been reached for 2020, the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit says “no agreement has been reached yet with Formula One in order to renew,” adding that negotiations are “still open.”

A final decision will be made known by the circuit.

F1 is expected to keep a 21-race calendar next year. But with the Vietnam GP and the Netherlands GP being added, two races are set to be dropped.

Seiler: Unlikely Hockenheim will be on 2020 F1 calendar

Verstappen: Since Pierre took my setup it works better for him

Verstappen: Since Pierre took my setup it works better for him

The secret of Pierre Gasly’s sudden form boost may have emerged at Silverstone, amid intense rumours that Red Bull may need to oust him, the Frenchman was suddenly a lot closer to Max Verstappen’s pace.

“There were many factors and changes,” Gasly said at Silverstone. “Altogether, they made a big difference.

“I don’t want to go too much into the details, but we now know what works. I see myself in an ongoing learning process, but we feel now that it is moving forward,” Gasly added.

Team boss Christian Horner said Gasly’s step was so big at Silverstone that he seemed like a “different driver”.

“I think I’m still the same,” Gasly smiled. “I always knew I was fast enough to fight with the best.”

Verstappen and Helmut Marko, however, have a slightly different take on Gasly’s form boost and said, “Gasly should take the setup from Max and adapt it for his own driving style.”

Verstappen added in Hockenheim: “I don’t look at the other side of the garage, but since Pierre took my setup, it works better for him.”

Gasly: I am someone who is always optimistic

Renault first F1 team to test Pirelli 18-inch tyres

Renault first F1 team to test Pirelli 18-inch tyres


Renault will be the first team to test Pirelli’s 18-inch Formula 1 tyres for 2021 after the top teams agreed informally that testing of the low-profile tyres should be delayed until next year, but then Renault asked the tyre maker if it could be the first to test in 2019.

That test will take place in October, to be followed by Mercedes and McLaren.

“Honestly, I didn’t know,” Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg said at Hockenheim.

But Hulkenberg did play down suggestions that the head-start for Renault will be an advantage for the French team ahead of 2021.

“As far as I’m aware, you are kept in the dark as to what compounds you are testing and what kind of tyre it is, so it is hard for teams to take a big advantage,” said the German.

Interestingly, the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association is not a big supporter of the move to 18 inch tyres.

“Didn’t anyone know that it will make the cars even heavier?” Sebastian Vettel is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

Big Question: Are 18-inch wheels the way forward for F1?

Pirelli: We cannot make a separate tyre for each team

Leclerc: Max and I put on a great show Austria and Silverstone

Leclerc: Max and I put on a great show Austria and Silverstone

One can pinpoint Austria as the fist real round in the Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen bout that is set to enthral Formula 1 for the decade ahead, anything before that was sparring for the big stage which they now share.

Leclerc is Ferrari’s future while Verstappen packs the punch for Red Bull and in the hills of Spielberg the pair went for it toe-to-toe in a flurry of super-exciting laps with the blue car muscling to the front to claim a famous at the expense of the red one.

Round one to Verstappen.

While the Monaco Kid reeled from the venom of the Dutchman’s game but took that as the line-in-the-sand and at Silverstone last time out it was Leclerc who outfought his rival in another frenzy of wheel-to-wheel racing that blew much needed fresh air into the F1 landscape.

Round two to Leclerc.

Speaking ahead of the German Grand Prix weekend, Leclerc told reporters, “With Max in both Austria and Silverstone, we put on a great show. It’s fun to be able to race like this and I hope that there will be more of it in the future, maybe even for the win and for world titles

“Our reference point is the team that’s been out in front since the start of the season, while for me, the target is to get that first Formula 1 win. We are working hard and in recent races, I managed to find a better way of working with the engineers, managing to set up the SF90 in a way that best suits my driving style.

“I think we’ve done a very good job in qualifying and now we must also optimize our race pace, where there is still room for improvement.”

Since Leclerc’s arrival at Maranello, his teammate Sebastian Vettel has been hit by a crisis of confidence and is plagued by a growing list of glaring errors, not least his infamous crash last year at Hockenheim while leading the race, under no pressure and with the finish in sight.

But the 21-year-old remains respectful of his ten-year older teammate, “It hasn’t changed since the start of the season. We respect one another and work really well together, regularly swapping information.

“The interest of the team is our number one priority but of course we are racing drivers and we always try and beat one another. We are in Formula 1 and it’s normal that should be the case.”

With regards to the Hockenheim weekend, Leclerc said, “This is a special weekend for me because I’ll be able to spend a bit of time with my brother. Today, for example, we did the track walk together and I hope this weekend he can show what he is capable of.”

Big Question: Will Max v Charles be the next great feud in the mould of  Ayrton v Alain, Piquet v Mansell, Rosberg v Hamilton, Mika v Schumi? Fernando v Schumi? Fernando v Seb?

Leclerc: I’m happy we can now race like this

Hockenheim FP1: Vettel and Ferrari set the early pace

Hockenheim FP1: Vettel and Ferrari set the early pace

Ferrari showed strong pace during the first free practice session of the German Grand Prix weekend, with Sebastian Vettel topping the timing screens ahead of Charles Leclerc.

Vettel was a quarter-second faster than his teammate with his best time of 1:14.013 set in the heat of the 90-minute morning session. Bith Ferrari drivers setting their times on the Pirelli soft tyres.

Mercedes kept their powder dry by opting to use the medium tyres for their runs, with Lewis Hamilton third fastest and three tenths shy of the top time, with teammate Valtteri Bottas three-tenths further down in fifth.

The Finn went off at the same corner Vettel crashed at last year but extricated himself from the gravel without damaging the car.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen split the silver pair on the timing screens with the fifth-fastest time, 0.317 of a second down on Vettel, but half a second up on Pierre Gasly in the sister car.

Best of the Rest went to Carlos Sainz in the McLaren, albeit a second down on the benchmark lap time, with Romain Grosjean eighth despite Haas running his car in the same specification it used for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Lance Stroll was ninth for Racing Point and Daniel Ricciardo, who survived a minor spin, rounded out the top 10 for Renault.

Grosjean surprised to be so quick in ‘outstanding’ old-spec Haas

Romain Grosjean admits he was surprised to be so quick in the Melbourne-specification Haas during Friday practice for the German Grand Prix, describing the car as “outstanding.”

Haas looked competitive at the start of the season but struggled to get performance out of its tires, with an upgrade in Barcelona not solving the problem. Grosjean has reverted to the original specification car used at the first race in both Silverstone and in Hockenheim, and after being sixth quickest in FP2 in Germany he says the strong showing should be used as a confidence boost for the team.

“The race 1 package is very good and I think we need to look at it as a positive that the boys know what to do when it is about designing a car,” Grosjean said. “Yes the latest update seems to be a bit more challenging but we need to understand why.

“But we have proven again we know how to do a car, which is positive. There are some limitations that we are well aware of in the package and that we need to work on but definitely it was surprising to be that quick — and also exciting.

Although the weather forecast is for rain and cooler temperatures on Saturday, Grosjean is still targeting a spot in the top 10 given how strong he was in practice.

“We will see but yes, definitely after today we can hope for Q3 and hope that we can understand what is different between our new package and this and move forward.

“It has been a long time since we have been this competitive on a Friday and things went smoothly, so I am happy with that in tricky conditions as it was very warm. But we have been working very well and done a lot of tests on the car — more than we have done over the season so far — and had some good answers. Some less-clear stuff but we are very happy with our Friday.”

Vettel downplays Ferrari start given expected rain

Sebastian Vettel downplayed Ferrari’s start to the German Grand Prix weekend due to the mixed weather forecast at Hockenheim on Saturday and Sunday.

Ferrari recorded one-two results in both practice sessions, with Vettel fastest in FP1 and Charles Leclerc setting the pace in the second 90 minutes. Friday’s running took place in extremely hot conditions — with the air temperature exceeding 100F — but the forecast is for cooler temperatures and rain on both Saturday and Sunday, and Vettel admitted he’d rather the heatwave continued.

“It was a good day and I think we are quite happy,” Vettel said. “There is margin to go faster and it’s good to know where it is. We’ll see how the conditions are, I think that’s the main thing. We tried to do the job today and do our homework and carry that into tomorrow but it will be different.

“It’s hard to say (where we’ll be) because I don’t know how much Mercedes and Red Bull had to compromise for the heat. I think it impacts everyone — you saw that everybody was opening the cooling to the maximum. So I think it would have been nice to have a really, really hot race. It’s also fun inside the car and I quite like it when you break into a sweat. I don’t know but I think the forecast says it won’t be like today.”

Leclerc agreed with his teammate’s outlook, saying at least one of Mercedes or Red Bull are likely benefit from different conditions over the weekend.

“It’s obviously looking good, but on the other hand it’s only Friday, and we know Mercedes sometimes is hiding a little bit until Saturday, so it’s not going to be easy,” Leclerc said. “Also it’s going to be cooler tomorrow, which will help the other teams. We are always very strong when it’s sunny, and if it’s raining, we also know that Red Bull is very, very quick in the rain. So it’s not going to be easy, but a positive day anyway.

“I think (heat) is working quite well with our car at the moment. We need to understand what to do better when the conditions are cooler and to try and improve in these conditions. But I think any time it has been very warm this season, we have been very quick.”

Marko: He Just Lost It

Marko: He Just Lost It

Pierre Gasly’s significant shunt in FP2 was down to driver error, according to Red Bull’s Helmut Marko.

Speaking to reporters shortly after the session finished, Marko asserted there was “no issue on the car” that caused Gasly to careen into the barriers at the final corner with just 15 minutes to go.

“He just lost it”, said Dr. Marko.

Asked about whether the crash might dent the Frenchman’s newfound confidence after a strong showing in Silverstone, Marko was hopeful it wouldn’t, but expressed a more pressing concern was the premium it had placed on resources.

“We are running out of parts now, that’s the problem.”

Recording 10 Gs on impact, the incident wiped out much of the left side of Gasly’s car. Fortunately his RB15 was not equipped with either its race engine or gearbox at the time, but it will still require a full rebuild of the suspension.

Sitting in 6th in the driver’s championship — three places and 81 points behind teammate Max Verstappen — Gasly has endured a rough start to his Red Bull career in 2019. Particularly with speculation rife he is in danger of being replaced before season’s end, today’s events certainly did him no favours.

Gasly apologizes to Red Bull for crash

Gasly apologizes to Red Bull for crash

Pierre Gasly apologized to his Red Bull team after his heavy crash towards the end of second practice at the German Grand Prix.

Exiting the final corner, Gasly tried to catch some oversteer but it pitched the car wide through the gravel and into the barrier at relatively high speed. The whole left-hand side of his Red Bull was damaged in the incident — which brought out the red flags — and the Frenchman says he is sorry that his team will have a busy night in high temperatures trying to make repairs ahead of final practice on Saturday.

“It was quite a tricky day today,” Gasly said. “We managed to get some decent laps during FP1 and the feeling with the car was good. We completed the normal tests and then in FP2, we had a couple of issues which meant we didn’t get a short run on soft tires and that put us back in the classifications, but the feeling was still good.

“Unfortunately, towards the end of the session I lost the car exiting the final corner during a long run and hit the barrier. Fortunately I wasn’t using my race engine or gearbox, but more importantly I’m really sorry for the boys in the garage and I want to apologize to them as the repairs will make for a long night.

“Looking ahead to tomorrow, the conditions are going to be completely different so we need to learn from today and analyze all the tests we have done.”

“He lost it,” Marko said. “No issue on the car. He just lost it.

“I hope (his confidence isn’t hurt). First we have to see that we can repair the car — I’m sure we can, but we are running out of parts now, that’s the problem.”

German GP: Friday’s action in pictures

German GP: Friday’s action in pictures

Stroll delighted with performance of updated RP19

Stroll delighted with performance of updated RP19

SportPesa Racing Point’s Lance Stroll was delighted with the performance of his updated RP19 on the opening day of running for the German Grand Prix.

The Silverstone-based squad introduced its long-planned upgrade package at Hockenheim, modifications the team hopes will allow it to fight once again at the top end of F1’s mid-field.

Friday’s sessions yielded productive results, with Stroll and teammate Sergio Perez concluding their day in the top 10, a position the Canadian hasn’t enjoyed in a very long time on a Friday.

“It is good to see we are in the upper end of the sheets for a change on Friday,” Stroll said, speaking to Motorsport.com.

“It has been a while. So it is always a good start to the weekend.

“The car is very different, she’s actually been on a diet. It is good and we have to keep it up.

“Days like this are always nice. But it is a practice session and it doesn’t count for anything. Sights are set on tomorrow.”

©RacingPoint

Perez echoed his teammate’s positive assessment, believing the team “was looking good”. But the true test of the RP19’s updates will come on Saturday afternoon.

“I have to say that it has been a good day,” said the Mexican;

“A difficult day to find balance out there, struggling still with balance, but generally with the level of competition we have shown today we can be pleased with that.

“I think we are looking good. Hopefully we can maintain the level of competitiveness that we have shown today.

“Obviously tomorrow is going to be a very different story. But we aim for Q3 after the day we have today.”

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Mercedes and Hamilton admit heat taking its toll

Mercedes and Hamilton admit heat taking its toll

Hockenheim’s scorching temperatures on Friday predictably made for a tough opening day of running for Mercedes and its drivers.

Both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were outpaced by Ferrari in today’s free practice sessions as the German team tread relatively lightly in the high temperature conditions.

“It’s not been the best of days in terms of the heat, but pretty straightforward otherwise,” Hamilton said.

“These tyres don’t like the temperature so we had to do very slow outlaps and the tyres don’t last very long.

“It’s all about trying to keep the tyres in the working range. They were always overheating, so that’s been the main issue today, but we’re all in the same boat.

“We’re hoping the weather won’t be like this for the rest of the weekend.

“If it’s cooler and it’s dry, nothing from today really applies – the tyres will come back towards us and everyone will be quicker and more comfortable on the track.”

Mercedes has added several new components to its W10 in Hockenheim, partly to improve its car’s cooling capabilities but also to enhance its performance.

But chief race engineer Andrew Shovlin confirmed it had been a hot day in the sun for its 2019 contender. Fortunately, Hockenheim should be basking in lower temperatures on Saturday and Sunday.

©Mercedes

“We were seeing over 39°C in the second session which was pretty hard on the tyres and the car, not to mention the drivers and the team in the garage.

“We had quite a few new bits on the car, some for performance and some to improve the cooling.

“So far, it all seems to be in the right direction but there is so much overheating on the tyres today that it is hard to know where we stand.

“In terms of pace, some runs were a bit better than others but our overall feeling is that in these temperatures, we’re probably sitting a little bit behind Ferrari.

“We’ve got some useful learning from the sessions today and it’s been a good test of the car, but we’re expecting a big drop in temperature for the remainder of the weekend.

“With the cooler temperatures there is a good chance of rain which should keep things interesting.”

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Ferrari remains on top in FP2 as Leclerc edges Vettel

Ferrari remains on top in FP2 as Leclerc edges Vettel

Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel kept Ferrari at the top of the timesheet in FP2, but the pair only enjoyed a small advantage over Lewis Hamilton.

The reigning world champion concluded his day 0.124s behind Leclerc but a half a second clear of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was fifth, just ahead of Romain Grosjean who enjoyed a productive afternoon for Haas.

The heat wave at Hockenheim will still in full force when cars took to the track, with 50°C on the tarmac and 37.8°C in the air.

McLaren and Haas kicked things off, but the action was limited in the first few minutes of the session.

Traffic gradually increased and Charles Leclerc laid down a 1m13.449s marker followed by Vettel, Hamilton and Romain Grosjean with everyone running on either hard or medium tyres.

A switch to softs increased the overall pace, although Bottas made only marginal gains, slotting in fourth behind Hamilton.

Racing Point’s Lance Stroll positioned himself once again among the top-ten, the Canadian clocking in sixth after 45 minutes of running, some 0.819s adrift from Leclerc’s best time.

A laborious start to FP2 for Max Verstappen – thanks to a minor power unit issue – was followed by some better laps that pushed the Dutchman up to fifth.

With a little over 30 minutes remaining, many were those who switched to long runs to trial their race pace, an exercise during which Vettel appeared to have a slight edge over Hamilton.

As the session wound down, Nico Hulkenberg brought out the second red flag of the day, the Renault driver stranded out on the track onboard a motionless car.

However, it later appeared that the culprit of the stoppage wasn’t the German but Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly who had hit the barriers on the exit of the final corner, heavily damaging the left side of his RB15.

As Gasly’s car was retrieved and brought back on the flatbed, only nine minutes remained on the clock and no significant improvements were recorded.

Ferrari thus remained in control, with Leclerc leading Vettel, with Hamilton snapping at both drivers heals.

Grosjean was an unexpected but welcomed visitor among the top six, although the Frenchman reported a sudden lack of power during his final run which Haas will need to investigate.

Stroll confirmed Racing Point’s upturn in form, while Alfa Romeo improved its pace from its morning session with Kimi Raikkonen clocking in P8, followed by Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez who closed off the top 10.

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Sainz: Impact of Seidl’s leadership at McLaren will take years

Sainz: Impact of Seidl’s leadership at McLaren will take years

Carlos Sainz says McLaren F1 boss Andreas Seidl will soon start to have a big influence on the Woking-based outfit, but the true effects of the German’s presence may not be felt for years.

Seidl, who spearheaded for several years Porsche’s massively successful LMP1 programme, joined McLaren earlier this year and has been given a free reign to manage the team as he sees fit by CEO Zak Brown.

After a dismal period of under-performance, marked by its failed partnership with Honda, McLaren is finally enjoying a resurgence of sorts this year.

But Sainz reiterated his belief that the team’s current P4 position in the Constructors’ standings is a result of the development work that took place in the back-end of last season rather than an effect of the team’s recent structural changes.

“I think the credit for this year’s car is mainly due to what happened last year,” Sainz said.

“All the development that happened during that second half of the season, where the team basically decided to stop developing the 2018 car to try and understand why the 2018 car was so poor.

“The job done, obviously in the early months of this winter, going into March, the job of Andreas, what he’s doing very well now is doing a whole analysis of the situation that we are in in the factory.

“Especially back in Woking and he’s just having an overlook and have a very good look into what can be improved and it’s more a midterm to a long-term project.”

©McLaren

Sainz believes McLaren will soon start to reap the benefits of Seidl’s input, but the effects of more significant changes likely won’t be felt for another few years.

“I think he’s quite advanced and he’s going to start having a very big influence in the upcoming months but you need to give him time,” the Spaniard said.

“I think when there is an environment of six hundred to eight hundred people like we are in McLaren at the moment, to notice any kind of change you need years, to feel the change and that’s going to take time for sure.”

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Gasly unhurt after heavy 10G crash adds to his woes

Gasly unhurt after heavy 10G crash adds to his woes

HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY - JULY 26: Pierre Gasly of France and Red Bull Racing climbs from his car after crashing during practice for the F1 Grand Prix of Germany at Hockenheimring on July 26, 2019 in Hockenheim, Germany. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Pressure just ramped up even further on Pierre Gasly as he crashed heavily in the final stages of the second free practice session of the German Grand Prix weekend on a very hot day at Hockenheim.

Replays showed the Red Bull snap out of control through the final corner, which speared him off onto the run-off and smashing to s a stop in the barriers.

Gasly confirmed he was ok, but his plight in the top flight just got more precarious as he is under pressure to raise his game which has not quite got going since he stepped into the energy drinks senior team.

The session was red-flagged to clear the wrecked Red Bull while Gasly was picked up by the medical car and checked at the circuit medical centre before returning to his team’s complex to avoid media.

Christian Horner told reporters that the impact registered 10G. At time of writing it was not sure if the crash was a result of driver error or breakage on the RB15.

Report in progress…

Hockenheim FP2: Leclerc fastest but it’s close at the top

Hockenheim FP2: Leclerc fastest but it’s close at the top

Charles Leclerc topped the timing screens at the end of day one of the German Grand Prix weekend as Ferrari made a clean sweep of proceedings at a sweltering Hockenheimring.

After playing second fiddle to teammate Sebastian Vettel in the morning FP1 session, Leclerc got on the loud pedal to mark a best time of 1:13.449 with the hard Pirelli tyres bolted onto his car.

That was 1 tenth and a bit faster than Vettel in the sister car, although the German set his time on the mediums.

Lewis Hamilton was best of the Mercedes duo, his time 0.146 of a second shy of the top time – very close between the top three on the day.

Next up was Valtteri Bottas in fourth, albeit half a second down on his teammate but a tad quicker than Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in fifth.

His teammate Pierre Gasly had a miserable afternoon after he crashed the RB15 at high speed, forcing the session to be red-flagged with a dozen minutes to go in the 90-minute session.

Romain Grosjean provided his team with a revelation when he powered around Best of the Rest in his Haas, using Melbourne specs! Meaning that whatever the American team had spent (money and time) on development of their package was wasted because they went backwards since the opener in March.

Notably, the Haas driver was only seven-tenths adrift of the benchmark time suggesting that the Big Three teams have not turned up the wick thus far.

Racing Point unbagged a raft of upgrades as they transform their chassis almost entirely in the next two with phase one unleashed today.

Early indications are that there is a significant step up in the right direction as Lance Stroll showed up seventh on the timing screens, less than a tenth off Grosjean – the kind of territory the Canadian youngster has not had the good fortune of playing within this season thus far.

Kimi Raikkonen was eighth fastest in the Alfa Romeo, a fraction quicker than ninth-placed Nico Hulkenberg who was fastest of the Renault powered brigade and the only one of the quartet in the top ten. But the German stopped before the session ended with “a software” issue.

Sergio Perez rounded out the top ten in the other Racing Point, the Mexican a couple of tenths down on his teammate and in a midfield where sixth place to 16th are within a second.

Hockenheim FP2: Leclerc fastest but it’s close at the top

2019 German Grand Prix Free Practice 2 – Results

Full results from Free Practice 2 for the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, round 10 of the 2019 Formula 1 world championship.

2019 German Grand Prix – Free Practice 2 results

PosDriverTeamTimeGapLaps
1Charles LeclercFerrari1:13.449s33
2Sebastian VettelFerrari1:13.573s+ 0.124s30
3Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:13.595s+ 0.146s30
4Valtteri BottasMercedes1:14.111s+ 0.662s30
5Max VerstappenRed Bull1:14.133s+ 0.684s23
6Romain GrosjeanHaas1:14.179s+ 0.730s33
7Lance StrollRacing Point1:14.268s+ 0.819s32
8Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo1:14.458s+ 1.009s33
9Nico HülkenbergRenault1:14.472s+ 1.023s26
10Sergio PérezRacing Point1:14.518s+ 1.069s30
11Carlos SainzMcLaren1:14.662s+ 1.213s34
12Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1:14.800s+ 1.351s39
13Daniel RicciardoRenault1:15.010s+ 1.561s33
14Alexander AlbonToro Rosso1:15.062s+ 1.613s36
15Pierre GaslyRed Bull1:15.089s+ 1.640s19
16Lando NorrisMcLaren1:15.247s+ 1.798s29
17Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo1:15.406s+ 1.957s31
18Kevin MagnussenHaas1:15.470s+ 2.021s28
19George RussellWilliams1:16.900s+ 3.451s27
20Robert KubicaWilliams1:16.980s+ 3.531s26

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Mercedes to decide Bottas’ 2020 future in August

Mercedes to decide Bottas’ 2020 future in August

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has revealed that the Silver Arrows outfit has set an August deadline to decide the future of Valtteri Bottas.

The Finn enjoyed a strong opening to his 2019 season, trading wins with Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in the first four races.

Since however, Bottas has struggled to match the Brit, at least on race day, with Hamilton adding five more wins since Bottas last victory in Baku.

Mercedes is reportedly considering reserve driver Esteban Ocon as a possible replacement for Bottas, although Max Verstappen is also understood to be in the mix, with a performance clause in the Dutchman’s contract with Red Bull allowing for a move away from the Milton Keynes-based team.

Wolff was clear that Mercedes’ decision regarding its 2020 driver line-up would include the team’s long-term interest.

“We want him [Bottas] to end the season before the shutdown in a good place and put in two solid performances in Hockenheim and Budapest, and then spend some time thinking about the driver line-up for 2020 and beyond,” Wolff said.

“It is pretty unusual to announce drivers in July. If you want to take all the time, you properly need to assess and you can even drag it into the winter like we have seen in some other teams and it was a standard in the past.

“For us it is not only about making the right decision for next year but looking ahead and this is why we agreed that we will take the decision in August going forward, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we will announce it in August.”

Ocon has been biding his time at Mercedes but has made no mystery of his desire to return to action in 2020.

The Frenchman has been linked with Haas and Renault, but regardless of the potential team, Wolff said that a move to a non-Mercedes affiliated outfit would mean losing Ocon for at least two years.

“As we all know it was an unfortunate situation last year that Esteban fell between the chairs. He could have chosen between two seats and in the end nothing came out,” Wolff explained.

“From our perspective everyone knows about his driving capabilities for Mercedes. Valtteri is showing some very strong performances and merits the seat but equally Esteban has shown that in the past and is a great addition to the team.

“He contributes a lot a lot behind closed doors, he drives the sim overnight on race weekends, he comes in here Saturday and gives us input and he is a great kid overall.

“Putting a Mercedes young driver in the car would be interesting as well. Having said that, there is interest for Esteban among other teams and we need to carefully make a decision for ourselves and with the other interested parties, not only for our own benefit but also for Esteban’s benefit.

“If it would be that we were taking a decision in favour of Valtteri it clearly also means that somebody else would continue to develop him [Ocon] and would mean we would lose our hand for a year or two or more on Esteban. These are the consequences of that decision.”

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Barcelona still in the running for a slot on 2020 calendar

Barcelona could be granted by Formula 1 a one-year extension to its contract to host the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya, saving the race’s presence on the calendar for 2020.

The Spanish round of the F1 world championship is believed to be in jeopardy along with Germany and Mexico, with just one of the three races expected to secure its spot on the sport’s 21-race schedule next season.

However, a report from Motorsport.com contends that the Spanish Grand Prix promoters are currently in talks with Liberty Media for a one-year extension to the Circuit de Catalunya’s deal with F1.

A short-deal would buy some time for the event and allow its promoters to negotiate a longer-term agreement with F1’s commercial rights holder.

However, for today’s report, the Circuit de Catalunya issued a statement clarifying its position, insisting no agreement had yet been reached with F1.

The following statement is made in respect of the news published today in the media, regarding Formula 1® at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya:

1. No agreement has been reached yet with Formula 1 in order to renew the agreement for the Spanish Grand Prix at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

2. The negotiations for the renewal of the agreement with Formula 1 continue, and are still open.

3. As soon as an agreement has been reached, whether for the renewal or the non-renewal, it will be made known officially through the usual channels used by Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Barcelona’s situation therefore appears fluid, while the status of F1’s negotiations with Hockenheim and Mexico is unknown.

Should the Spanish race secure its short-term future its uncertain when the event would take place as its traditional spring date is expected to be taken by the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort.

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Hamilton to co-produce new Hollywood documentary

Hamilton to co-produce new Hollywood documentary

Lewis Hamilton has joined the likes of Hollywood heavyweights James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger to co-produce a major documentary about veganism.

Entitled ‘The Game Changers’, the documentary depicts the explosive rise of plant-based nutrition in professional sports, “mixing real-time, groundbreaking science with cinematic stories of struggle and triumph,” according to the film’s description.

The documentary’s executive production team is led by Oscar-winner James Cameron of Titanic and Avatar fame, but also includes Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Hamilton and tennis icon Novak Djokovic.

“Performance is everything and it all begins with having the right kind of fuel in our bodies,” Hamilton tweeted.

“I’m proud to be Exec Producer on The Game Changers. It’s a revolutionary new documentary movie, and I can’t wait for you guys to see it this September.”

A plant-base diet devotee since 2017, the five-time world champion has often vaunted the benefits of stripping his nutrition of meat and animal-based food.

However, Hamilton says the documentary is also an opportunity for him to get involved in the entertainment industry.

“I spend a lot of time in LA, and there are a lot of opportunities out there,” said the Brit.

“I have a lot of meetings. And in particular film and entertainment, it’s an area I’m particularly interested in. I’m interested in TV and particularly in movies.

“I heard that James Cameron actually wanted to get in touch to talk about this project that he was involved in, and I’m a massive fan. So, I obviously jumped at the opportunity just to be a part of it, and it’s just really cool.

“When you see Arnold Schwarzenegger, who luckily I’ve met through being at the Grands Prix – Australia I think – and I’m a massive fan and I know he’s a big part of it.

“I remember watching his training regime, and my old trainer was a fan boy of him, a big muscly guy, and he would always be watching his documentary about he would train.

“So it was interesting I thought to see other people’s perspectives. And naturally I’ve gone along the same journey as some of the people that are in there, who achieving another level of physical fitness and peak.

“Just look at Djokovic, that little extra bit that’s there that people are reluctant to look in to.

“I think it was really cool to be part of. Time wise it’s not easy, and there’s a lot more that I’m doing in that segment. But that’s a long process, so more to come.”

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Vettel leads Ferrari 1-2 in first German GP practice

Vettel leads Ferrari 1-2 in first German GP practice

Sebastian Vettel led a Ferrari one-two in the opening practice session for the German Grand Prix as the top three teams began the weekend closely matched.

The home favorite was a quarter of a second clear at the top of the standings in extremely hot conditions, posting a 1m14.013s as temperatures reached 95F in the opening session. Charles Leclerc backed up his teammate with a 1m14.268s to finish second, although Ferrari used the soft compound tire compared to Mercedes on mediums.

Lewis Hamilton was 0.302s off the pace in third, just edging ahead of Max Verstappen — also on soft tires — by 0.015s. Both Mercedes drivers ran dangerously wide at the final corner early on, dipping a wheel in the gravel, but then Valtteri Bottas had a bigger off-track moment late in the session.

The Finn made the same mistake as Vettel did when leading the race at Hockenheim a year ago, locking up at the Sachskurve and understeering into the gravel. Bottas had got further around the corner by the time he went off, however, and missed the barrier as he was able to stop the car and then crawl back out, pouring gravel onto the track as he went.

At the same time as Bottas had his off, Daniel Riccardo had a spectacular spin at Turn 1, swapping ends at high speed but recovering through the run-off area without damage.

Ricciardo ended up 10th overall, splitting the two Racing Point cars that showed encouraging pace while testing an aerodynamic upgrade. Lance Stroll was ninth and both drivers used the medium tire to set their best laps, with Stroll 1.1s off the overall pace.

Ahead of Stroll were Carlos Sainz in seventh and Romain Grosjean in eighth — 0.012s apart and a second off Vettel — but Haas did not have a completely smooth session. Kevin Magnussen stopped on track in the opening moments with a suspected power unit issue, but the brief red flag allowed the car to be towed back to the pits and he rejoined the action after only a short delay.

Lando Norris in 12th was the only other driver to use the medium tire for his best lap time, with track temperatures reaching 117F to give the softer compounds a tough test.

Williams continued to test new parts as it introduces mid-season upgrades after its difficult start to the year, and Robert Kubica’s best lap left him within 0.2s of Antonio Giovinazzi ahead of him.

Vettel and Leclerc lead the charge in FP1 at Hockenheim

Vettel and Leclerc lead the charge in FP1 at Hockenheim

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel clocked in with the fastest lap in Friday’s first free practice session, the local hero outpacing teammate Charles Leclerc by a quarter of a second while Mercedes Lewis Hamilton was third.

Both Scuderia chargers achieved their benchmark lap in FP1 on Pirelli’s soft compound while Hamilton was 0.302s adrift on the medium tyre.

The soft-shod Red Bull of Max Verstappen was fourth, Valtteri Bottas was fifth, over 0.3s behind Hamilton, while Pierre Gasly rounded off the top six.

Hockenheim’s weather forecast predicted on Friday morning that today’s free practice sessions could turn out to be the only dry running of the entire race weekend.

Regardless of how the weather develops, high temperatures will remain the norm, which in turn put Mercedes in cautious mode in light of the W10’s cooling issues.

The entire field – except for the two local crowd-pleasers which was the Mercedes duo – took to the track when the lights went green for routine installation laps.

McLaren’s Carlos Sainz was the first driver to put his name at the top of the board, followed by Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly, but the times were not particularly significant.

A red flag period erupted after 20 minutes when Kevin Magnussen’s Haas stopped on track, with no power. The Dane was eventually towed back to the pits where the team identified a minor engine sensor issue.

Max Verstappen set the first benchmark time with a lap in 1m16.100s achieved on medium tyres, but the presence on track of both Mercedes kicked things into motion.

Bottas’ opening effort on soft tyres put the Finn in command with a 1m14.805s that edged Hamilton by 0.048s while Ferrari’s Leclerc was third, followed by Verstappen.

Racing Point saw some early signs that its latest upgrades were improving the performance of its RP19 as both Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll positioned themselves among the top-ten during the first sixty minutes of FP1.

Pushing a bit, Hamilton overhauled Bottas at the top of the timesheet but both Mercedes drivers were on the ragged edge on the exit of the last corner.

Meanwhile, Sainz shot to third followed by Haas’ Romain Grosjean, with both men running on Pirelli’s soft compound.

Also running on softs, Leclerc popped up at the front with a 1m14.268 that beat the medium-shod Hamilton. Verstappen also improved to slot himself into third in front of Bottas.

Behind the top four, Gasly also made good use of a set of softs to clock in fifth, albeit five tenths behind his Red Bull teammate.

Running a bit under the radar until 20 minutes from the end of FP1, a soft-shod Vettel put himself in gear to dispatch Leclerc at the top by 0.255s.

No improvements from the usual suspects in the closing stages of the session allowed Vettel to close out the morning in the lead.

However, with minutes to go, Bottas suffered a mishap at the Sachskurve where the Mercedes brushed the barrier but managed to extract himself from the gravel trap and coast back to base.

Behind the Ferrari-Mercedes-Red Bull top six, Sainz was once again ‘best of the rest’ in P7, the Spaniard heading Grosjean, Stroll and Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo.

Down at the lower end of the proceedings, Robert Kubica validated Williams’ upgrade package, outpacing teammate George Russell in FP1, although the Pole was still a hefty 2.5s off the pace.

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2019 German Grand Prix Free Practice 1 – Results

Full results from Free Practice 1 for the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, round 10 of the 2019 Formula 1 world championship.

2019 German Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 results

PosDriverTeamTimeGapLaps
1Sebastian VettelFerrari1:14.013s21
2Charles LeclercFerrari1:14.268s+ 0.255s25
3Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:14.315s+ 0.302s32
4Max VerstappenRed Bull1:14.330s+ 0.317s28
5Valtteri BottasMercedes1:14.660s+ 0.647s28
6Pierre GaslyRed Bull1:14.813s+ 0.800s23
7Carlos SainzMcLaren1:15.062s+ 1.049s30
8Romain GrosjeanHaas1:15.074s+ 1.061s30
9Lance StrollRacing Point1:15.191s+ 1.178s26
10Daniel RicciardoRenault1:15.567s+ 1.554s23
11Sergio PérezRacing Point1:15.604s+ 1.591s24
12Lando NorrisMcLaren1:15.616s+ 1.603s26
13Kevin MagnussenHaas1:15.759s+ 1.746s27
14Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1:15.776s+ 1.763s30
15Alexander AlbonToro Rosso1:15.777s+ 1.764s24
16Nico HülkenbergRenault1:15.823s+ 1.810s23
17Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo1:15.953s+ 1.940s26
18Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo1:16.382s+ 2.369s31
19Robert KubicaWilliams1:16.559s+ 2.546s27
20George RussellWilliams1:17.126s+ 3.113s23

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‘Intimidated’ Leclerc waited before demanding changes to SF90

‘Intimidated’ Leclerc waited before demanding changes to SF90

Charles Leclerc says he felt “intimidated” when he arrived at Ferrari and resorted to adapting his style to the Scuderia’s SF90 rather than the other way around.

Leclerc’s move to Ferrari after a formative year in F1 with Sauber was announced well before the end of the 2018 season.

But the 21-year-old still felt daunted when he walked through the gates of Maranello to prepare for his maiden season with Scuderia.

Despite almost winning his first Grand Prix in Bahrain in only his second race with the Italian squad, Leclerc felt compelled to adapt his style to the Scuderia’s 2019 contender.

However, as he gained in confidence, the Monegasque reversed his approach before the French Grand Prix.

“I think before France, it was more myself that was adapting to the car,” Leclerc explained.

“After that I think changed a little bit the approach, and I think I adapted the car a little bit which enabled to drive me a little bit more naturally, which helped me.

“Arriving in such a big team, when I arrived it was only my second year in Formula 1 and you are a little bit intimidated, I was a little bit intimidated and just to arrive and straight away say ‘I want this, this and this’ was not the way I wanted to start this relationship.

“So at first, I wanted to understand the car, try to adapt my driving as much as possible to the car.

“I think at one point I managed to do good things adapting my driving style but then I felt there was more performance by trying to put the car a little bit more into my direction and this has helped the performance a bit since then.”

Ongoing development of Ferrari’s SF90 – and a quest for better consistency – has led to a car that is now less prone to understeer and more guided by the stability of its rear end.

However, the change appears to have better suited Leclerc than Sebastian Vettel

“To be completely honest on that point, I struggle or feel it less,” said Leclerc.

“He’s complaining a little bit about entering stability which it doesn’t affect me as much.

“These are the weaknesses and we know them, and we are trying very hard to try and fix them as soon as possible.

“At the end I feel comfortable with the car, it has some weaknesses but in the end I think Seb has done very good races too, maybe he hasn’t been so lucky in the last few ones but I’m very sure soon he will be back on top, it’s just a matter of time.

“At the moment I just feel good in the car, happy with the car. As I said, we still need to be working, especially on our race pace and that is what we are doing to make improvements soon.”

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New upgrades aim to bring ‘balance’ to Racing Point

New upgrades aim to bring ‘balance’ to Racing Point

SportPesa Racing Point has brought a significant package of upgrades to the German Grand Prix which aim to bring some much needed additional balance to the RP19.

Sergio Perez indicated that the new parts were just the first step in improving the performance of the car, with more upgrades due for the race in Hungary the following week.

“We’re trying to bring balance to the car, to try to cure some of the deficits in terms of balance,” Perez told the media on Thursday.

“We hope that this first step can bring us a bit of that,” he added. “Rear end mainly. You’re going to see some bits on the car, all around.

“We’re getting something more for Hungary, so for the time being – for the moment – we are focusing on the new package that we have here.”

Perez said that the upgrades were to the sidepods, floor and “other stuff” including moving the internal cooling systems to the top of the engine cover in a similar fashion to changes at Red Bull.

“We hope we can make a good step forward and that can bring a bit more balance to the car,” he explained. “Something that we’ve been missing in the last couple of races.

“We are in a critical part of the season where we definitely need to make a step to be more regularly able to score points.”

He admitted that the team simply hadn’t kept pace with their rivals when it came to in-season development. “We didn’t improve enough, and probably some other teams did improve more since [Barcelona], that has been the real issue.”

Perez himself has failed to score any points since Baku, while team mate Lance Stroll last finished in the top ten at his home race in Canada. As a result, Racing Point has dropped to seventh place in the constructors standings, equal on points with Toro Rosso.

Sergio Perez (MEX) Racing Point F1 Team.

However Perez pointed out that he had been unlucky not to score points last time out at Silverstone. He had been running as high as eighth place before a steering wheel issue caused him to run into Nico Hulkenberg during a restart.

“I think we were very unlucky that day,” Perez said. “We did everything perfect from our side, we definitely deserved the points that we were going to score. In the end they didn’t come, but we definitely deserved those.”

Whether Perez will remain at Racing Point beyond the end of the current season is still to be decided, although he indicated that there might be news on that subject next month.

“It’s only two weeks from summer break so I think during summer break I will know exactly what my plans are going to be,” he suggested. “I hope I come back from summer break with my future resolved.”

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Hamilton still fearful of cooling issues – hopes for rain

Hamilton still fearful of cooling issues – hopes for rain

As Hockenheim sweltered on Thursday, Lewis Hamilton feared the high temperatures could revive the cooling issues that defeated Mercedes in Austria last month.

While the heatwave across Western Europe should stick around on Friday, forecasts in Germany are calling for cooler temperatures during the weekend and the risk of rain, a prospect Hamilton welcomes.

“It’s definitely a good thing if it rains,” said Hamilton who addressed Mercedes’ potential cooling issues.

“There’s not really much we can do because it’s a much bigger design issue we have when it gets hot, so it’s not so easy to change it.

“We are working towards changing it, but it’s very small steps, small increments which they’re not making a massive difference.

“Hopefully this weekend should be okay in that sense, and if it stays hot we’re going to struggle and be in trouble.

“If the next race is this hot, we’re going to struggle and be in trouble, on the edge like Austria. But fingers crossed it doesn’t come to that.”

Valtteri Bottas believes Mercedes won’t be the only team to struggle at Hockenheim if high temperatures prevail.

However, the Finn says the modifications implemented by Mercedes on its cooling system for this weekend should “make life easier” for the Silver arrows squad.”

“After Austria it was quite a strong reaction from the team, clearly a big weakness in our package,” Bottas said.

“We basically introduced a new upgrade for the cooling systems, so they should be more efficient, and should give hopefully quite a few degrees of margin.

“I’m not sure anyone expected to be racing in 40C! Maybe less on Sunday, but at least [Friday]. We’ll see how it goes.”

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Vettel heads to home race under increasing pressure

Vettel heads to home race under increasing pressure

Given Sebastian Vettel’s lack of form, the last place he might want to race this weekend is his home grand prix in Germany as Hockenheim serves as a painful reminder as to when his title bid started to unravel at the track last year.

He was leading Lewis Hamilton in the Formula 1 championship, and comfortably leading the race heading into the closing stages. Then, he crashed into the barriers and gifted Hamilton a win. Although the rain was falling hard it was a mistake unbefitting of a four-time world champion, especially considering he was under no pressure from Hamilton at the time.

“I won’t forget that race, that moment,” Vettel said. “That was a mistake and it was costly. Very costly.”

It proved to be a turning point as from then on Hamilton took command in the title race, just like in September 2017 when Vettel’s title bid crumbled following a crash from pole position in Singapore .

The errors have been piling up for Vettel, while the wins have not, and his composure remains a talking point in F1. That’s all despite Vettel having 230 races and 115 podiums, including 52 wins in a career spanning 12 years.

At the British GP two weeks ago, he misjudged an overtaking move and slammed into the back of Max Verstappen’s Red Bull .

Vettel apologized in person to the irate Verstappen, a winner in Austria the previous race, but it was yet another baffling error from Vettel.

Unfortunately for Ferrari, which last won the drivers’ championship with Kimi Raikkonen in 2007, these mistakes are becoming commonplace.

Vettel was in contention to win the Canadian GP last month, too, but seemed to panic when Hamilton’s Mercedes appeared behind him and he swerved off and back onto the track. Vettel was handed a time penalty for unfairly impeding Hamilton , costing him the win.

Vettel’s last victory was at the Belgian GP last August, a barren run of 18 races.

The pressure on Vettel to start delivering for Ferrari is mounting. He has one year left on his contract after this season, and questions are being asked as to whether he should be the team’s No. 2 driver behind Charles Leclerc.

The 21-year-old Leclerc is only in his second year in F1, having replaced Raikkonen at Ferrari after impressing with Sauber.

Leclerc has not won a race, although he came close in Bahrain and in Austria, but has shown greater speed and composure than Vettel in recent weeks.

Vettel, although the vastly more senior driver, leads Leclerc by only three points — with Vettel fourth and Leclerc fifth in the standings.

Leclerc is aiming for a fifth straight podium finish and a third pole position of the season. By comparison, Vettel has no podiums in the past three races and four in 10 so far, with one pole position.

Vettel’s ongoing woes, and the ongoing debates at Ferrari, are great news for Mercedes. Hamilton’s main rival is not Vettel or Leclerc, but Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Although Bottas started the season strongly, Hamilton leads him by 39 points approaching the halfway point of the season. Bottas, who is second overall, has not won since Azerbaijan in April.

Hamilton’s quest for a sixth world title, which would move him one behind German great Michael Schuamcher’s F1 record, is gathering momentum.

The 34-year-old British driver has won five of the past six races, and counts 80 overall as he chases Schumacher’s all-time record of 91. Ferrari seems powerless to stop him.
 (For AP by Jerome Pugmire)

Big Question: Can Seb turn things around at Hockenheim?

Hamilton: Vettel will come back stronger in the next race

Hamilton: If it stays this hot we’re going to be in trouble

Hamilton: If it stays this hot we’re going to be in trouble

Formula 1 World Championship leader Lewis Hamilton is hoping rain will come to the rescue as a Hockenheim heatwave threatens to dash Mercedes’s hopes of a home German Grand Prix win on Sunday.

The five-times F1 world champion and Mercedes have been dominant this season, the team winning nine of 10 races so far, but they wilted in the sweltering heat at last month’s Austrian Grand Prix.

Mercedes have made changes to help cool the car but, with much of Europe caught in the grip of a heatwave, Hockenheim could be even hotter than the temperatures were at Spielberg where Max Verstappen won for Red Bull.

“If it stays this hot we are going to struggle and be in trouble,” the 34-year-old Briton, who leads team mate Valtteri Bottas by 39 points in the standings, told reporters on Thursday.

“There is not much we can do (when it comes to cooling), it is a much bigger design issue when it gets hot which is not so easy to change.

“We are working towards it but it is very small steps and small increments which are not making a massive difference. It is definitely a good thing if it rains,” he added.

Friday, when the cars first take to the track for two sessions of practice, is expected to be just as hot as Thursday, when temperatures touched 39 degrees Celsius.

But thunderstorms are predicted for Saturday, when qualifying is held, while the chance of rain on race Sunday — a 200th Formula One start for Mercedes as a constructor — has also gone up.

Hamilton, who won in the rain from 14th on the grid last year even as Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel crashed out of the lead, is renowned as a wet-weather specialist.

He has won the German Grand Prix four times, three of those victories at Hockenheim, and is chasing his eighth win of the season on Sunday.

Rain would cement his status as favourite to collect a fifth German Grand Prix win, a record for success at the race in the world championship era.

Hamilton, who won his home British Grand Prix at Silverstone for a record sixth time two weeks ago, is still spoiling for a fight, “Last year here… I think Ferrari were slightly quicker but I hope it gets closer throughout the year. I’m always ready, it just has not always been the case every year.”

Big Question: What can stop Lewis winning in Germany on Sunday?

Mercedes reveal special 125 years of motorsport livery

Bus smashes into Hockenheim start lights

Bus smashes into Hockenheim start lights

A bus preparing to take ticket holders on a lap of the Hockenheim Formula 1 circuit took out the German Grand Prix start lights on Thursday after the driver misjudged his clearance.

Organisers said nobody was hurt in the incident, with passengers yet to board the bus, and the overhead lights were quickly replaced.

It was the second time this season that a vehicle has hit a structure spanning a Formula One track.

In Azerbaijan in April, a recovery truck hit a bridge with its crane while taking George Russell’s Williams back to the pits in practice.

Sunday’s grand prix is a home race for Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and for champions Mercedes, who have won nine of 10 rounds so far this season.

German Grand Prix Drivers’ Press Conference

German Grand Prix Drivers’ Press Conference

Full transcript from the FIA hosted driver’s press conference on Thursday ahead of the German Grand Prix weekend, Round 11 of the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship, at Hockenheim.

Featuring Carlos Sainz (McLaren), Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo), Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari), Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) and Alex Albon (Toro Rosso)

Press Conference

Welcome gentlemen. A question to the two German drivers, please. Can you just tell us about the build-up to your home race here at Hockenheim and the emotions of racing at home? Nico, can we start with you please?
Nico Hulkenberg: A fairly calm and steady build-up to be honest this year, which is quite nice. No particular events, just the usual day-to-day I would say. No, it’s good to come back here. I remember last year, I loved this weekend, it was an amazing atmosphere. Hockenheim was I think packed. Every grandstand ticket was more or less sold, and it was full of people and there was this magic atmosphere all weekend. I really enjoyed it here last year. It happened to be the best race of the season for me as well, so obviously it would be nice to repeat something like that, although sporting-wise we don’t seem to be as strong but of course we are going to give it our best shot. But yeah, happy to be back here and looking forward to a hot weekend.

Q: Thank you. Sebastian?
Sebastian Vettel: Yeah, it’s been pretty calm on the build-up, so pretty straightforward. Obviously I like this place very much, it’s pretty close to where I come from. We had a nice dinner together with the team last night, but other than that it’s been fairly calm. But like Nico said, very good memories of last year in terms of atmosphere. Obviously the final outcome wasn’t great, but overall the weekend was fantastic – the amount of fans, the amount of German flags, the enthusiasm around the track. Hopefully we can have something similar this year.

Q: Your 10th German Grand Prix.
SV: Yeah, here we go.

Q: Here we go indeed. Thank you guys. Alex, turning to you, a frustrating race for you last time out at Silverstone with an electrical problem. Can you tell us about that problem and without it would a points finish have been possible?
Alex Albon: Yeah, it was a bit frustrating. Basically, the car was live, so we couldn’t really touch the car. I think the mechanics would have been a bit electrified if they did, so we had to stay out on track. It was frustrating, but it’s hard to say if we… I think we would have finished where we were before we had the issue. I think we were running about eighth, around there. Of course, it was just points missed, so that was a frustrating weekend, because we had two tough races before that, and that was kind of the time…. At Silverstone we were back on track and it was an opportunity to score some good points. Fortunately Dany did, so it wasn’t too bad at the end of the day.

Q: So, a frustrating race for you at Silverstone, but how do you sum up the season so far, because half distance in the race here will be the halfway point of the 2019 season. So how would sum out how it’s gone and what have the team told you about 2020?
AA: It’s going well. I would say I’ve had a few ups and downs. But yeah, I’m quite happy with how it’s gone so far. And regarding 2020, who knows? I think that’s in other people’s hands.

Q: Thank you. Nico, same sort of question to you really. As we reach the halfway point in the season, how are you feeling about the Renault project, how has it evolved during your three years with the team and looking ahead, do you stick, do you twist? What are your plans?
NH: Yeah, I think it’s fair to say that so far this season we can’t be entirely happy with what we have achieved. I mean, to start with we had a lot of issues and missed out on results. But, a little bit more disappointing is just where we are in terms of pace, the development rate, it’s not where we really needed it and wanted it to be. Behind the expectations this year, so probably maybe, all in all, as well, not entirely happy and if you look across the three years we can’t be entirely happy with everything we’ve done. Nevertheless, the outlook is good. We still see light at the end of the tunnel and we still believe we can catch up to some extent, how much is always difficult to say with entire certainty. Yeah, we’ll see what happens in the future and what happens to me as well. As for now, there is nothing set in stone, but I think it’s quite likely that I will remain with the team.

Q: You’re 21 points behind McLaren in the Constructors’ Championship now. Do you think that’s a fair reflection of the relative performance of the two teams?
NH: Well, it is. That’s a fact. It is 21 points but I think we could be right up there with them, if you add up all the complications we had, all the missed results, problems, we should be there or thereabouts, but for sure McLaren are very strong at the moment and are probably one of our main competitors that we will be battling from here until the end.

Q: Ok, good luck this weekend. Carlos, just to ask you about that battle with Renault. When you came into this season, did you expect to be ahead of them at this point?
Carlos Sainz: No. I think the right answer is no. I wouldn’t expect to be in front of Renault. There was a good trend going last year in Renault and I think we finished off the season quite strongly but McLaren was at that time in Abu Dhabi more than half a second behind in qualifying, pretty much in every qualifying. Then in the race, also, it was difficult to match, or to see Fernando and Stoffel battling more at the back than Nico and me. It was very difficult to predict that at this stage this year we would be in front. I don’t think we are in front. I think we are in front in the championship but we are very equal in performance and it makes the battle good fun, like it was in Silverstone, in Austria, in France, and we are happy to be battling with a team like Renault. I think just the objective of us two is to keep moving forward, both together, towards the top. Not looking too much to what Renault is doing, but keep looking forward, keep looking to Mercedes, keep looking to Red Bull, Ferrari and try to get that gap down.

Q: You mention Austria and Silverstone. You raced very well at those races – 19th to eighth in Austria, 13th to sixth at Silverstone. So clearly you’re racing very well, but progress hasn’t been quite as sweet in qualifying. Why is that?
CS: Yeah, it’s a good point actually. I’m not entirely happy with how things are going in qualifying. If you go race by race, it would be very easy to point out three or four races where obviously I was affected by issues away from my own. But what is important or what I feel is like I have the speed in the car. Every time I jump in the car I feel like I can extract the maximum out of it, I feel like I understand the car, I feel like I am quick every time I jump in, but then circumstances in qualifying they always come down to one lap then you’re whole qualifying picture looks bad, but what is important is that I feel speed, I feel comfortable with the car and I can prove it on race day and race days are going very well.

Q: They are. Thank you. Kimi, coming to you, you’ve scored in seven of the 10 races so far, including the last three. Is that the level of performance and consistency you expected from Alfa Romeo when you joined them?
Kimi Raikkonen: It’s hard to say, because obviously where they’ve been the last few years it’s not been the greatest. Last year they made good gains from half way through. So, very unknown. I just went into the season to try to do the maximum, to see what we get. We had a bit harder part, three or four races where we were not very fast. But we managed to recover from that a little bit. There is still a long way to go but I think it’s not been too bad, at least in their own book. So we’ll keep trying and try to make the car faster.

Q: How much have you improved the car so far?
KR: For sure we have improved. I don’t know how much. It’s depends on what you compare. Obviously we compare to the guys that are close to us and obviously we are still behind on pure speed but we bring as much as we can new parts and try to improve. At least usually the parts work very well, what we brought. So that’s a good thing. Obviously with a small team like us it takes a bit longer to bring new parts. But I think we are quite happy with how things have gone forward. But like I said, there is still an awful lot of work to be done to get more faster and to try to get closer to McLaren and things like that.

Q: You’re happy with developments but how happy are you this year Kimi? How much are you enjoying Formula 1 in 2019 and how different is your experience now compared to last year?
KR: I don’t think it’s a lot different. Obviously racing a bit more rearwards. But if you don’t count that the big picture hasn’t really changed. It’s a different team, but I’ve worked with some of them before. I think F1 hasn’t changed. We still this press conference, we have the same kind of meetings, interviews. That hasn’t changed, but obviously, outside of racing I have a bit more free time, so that is the nice part, but I don’t think it’s night and day what happened last year to this year.

Q: Sebastian, let’s start by talking about the car. You’ve told us in the past that it’s tricky to drive. Can you tell us why it’s so hard to find the sweet spot of the SF90?
SV: Well, I think we had occasions where things were looking very good and other occasions where it was a bit more difficult but I think that’s also pretty normal throughout the season: you have different tracks with different characteristics and sometimes the car feels more the way you like and other times less – but yeah, I think we have, after the first couple of races we were able to get quite a good picture of what was missing compared to the performance we seemed to have at the beginning of winter testing. With that, I think we’ve made progress. Obviously we are not where we would like to be, not as competitive as we would like to be, but I think overall, the understanding and the direction is going in the right way.

Q: You say you’re not as competitive as you want to be – well, Red Bull have taken a step forward in recent weeks, so how do you see the pecking order at the front of Formula 1 now?
SV: Well, I think obviously Mercedes does have an edge on everyone else, that’s, I think, pretty clear. Similar to previous years, they seem to struggle on tracks where tyre wear and degradation is a bit higher – like we’ve maybe seen in the last part of the race in France, or in Austria. But in terms of raw speed, they are the benchmark – and I think for myself and for us, that’s the benchmark. I think obviously between ourselves and Red Bull, it’s been sometimes closer, sometimes we were ahead, most of the times I believe we were ahead, sometimes we were behind but y’know, that’s not the objective. The objective is to fight for wins and to do so at the moment you need to be level or better than Mercedes.

Q: And what would a victory here, on home soil, mean to you on Sunday?
SV: I think it’s always special, first of all to have the opportunity to race in your home country; yeah, obviously I was very close last year, let’s see how close we can get this year. I think we are, y’know, a less strong position to start the weekend. Then again, I think we’ve seen some recent races, we’ve been very strong in terms of qualifying – but also race pace. So yeah, I think we’re fairly open minded. I’m fairly open-minded, to be honest. We start the weekend, see where it goes, obviously it’s going to be very hot initially and then probably cool off a little bit.

Questions from the Floor

Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – motorsport-total.com) Kimi, you’re back at Sauber – or Alfa Romeo – the first team that you started with in Formula 1. Is this full circle for you? Are you going to end your career here or do you consider moving teams?
KR: I have no idea. I mean, obviously, I have a two-year contract, this and next year, and then we see what happens. No plans really. That’s about it really.

Q: (Stefan Ehlen motorsport-total.com) Question to Sebastian. How badly do you want to win on Sunday, and how badly do you need to win on Sunday?
SV: Not badly. Oddly I want to win, that’s for sure – but as I said, I’m also realistic. So, coming here, I don’t feel as we are the favourites but I feel we have a chance. For me, that’s the point of going racing. You have a chance of do well. So, that’s the objective and we will find out during the weekend. But certainly it’s a special place to me. It’s very close to where I’m from, it’s a lot of family around and friends close by. To find a good way to celebrate, I wouldn’t need to go very far, so that would be quite handy.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Sebastian, Kimi will be shortly 40 years old, can you see yourself racing as long as that?
SV: I don’t know – I’m not as handsome as Kimi now, so I won’t be as handsome as he is when I’m 40! I don’t know, there’s not much point thinking about it. Imagine if you had asked Kimi when he was 32 if he can imagine to race when he’s 40, I don’t think you would have got an answer. I don’t know, it depends on how the next years go. It depends, I think, on where the sport is going with the big run change that will or will not come for 2021, and then we’ll see what happens after that. I’ll be 40 in 2027, so I don’t know is the answer. Sorry Heikki!

Q: (Giles Richards – The Guardian) Question for Sebastian. You’ve said in the past you struggle when you’re not feeling the car. Can you tell us, are you feeling this car and, if not, is it compounding the weaknesses that it already has?
SV: Well, I think it’s not… as I tried to explain earlier, I think it’s normal that sometimes you feel more comfortable and sometimes less. I think for us it was important after the first couple of races to understand what brings this inconsistency, where the strength of the initial feeling with this car has gone and why we’re not able to repeat it the way we would like. But I think we do have a very good understanding by now. I think we are trying a lot of things to obviously make it better, to find a direction. I think a lot of things we tried are very good, other things we tried we went back on but yeah, obviously there are some things that probably this year are different than maybe they have been before – but nothing that you couldn’t adapt to.

Q: (Jonathan McEvoy – Daily Mail) To Sebastian. What’s it like… it’s obviously been a long while since Ferrari won the Drivers’. Do you feel a sort of burden to lead them to victory to lead them after, what 11, 12 years? Does that sort of weigh on you? I mean, the sort of Ferrari dynamic, what it means to the nation. How do you feel bearing that responsibility?
SV: It doesn’t feel like a burden, it feels like a privilege, y’know, to go out and race for Ferrari and obviously my mission or my goal, as well as the team’s goal, is to get back to, y’know, the – how do you say? – the winning ways. If we do that then we have a much better chance to fight for the Championship. Having said that, I think from when I joined and where we are now, obviously this year hasn’t gone the way we wanted after the last two years, but still, I think things are progressing in the right direction. In the big picture – but naturally the big picture doesn’t interest you if you are not currently where you would like to be. So, I think we all know that Formula 1 is a world where people are very short-sighted, which is also fair and part of the game. Like I said, overall, even if things look good, we still obviously miss that final step and that’s the most important step.

Q: (Julien Billotte – AutoHebdo) Question to Seb and Nico. How do you see the state of Formula 1 in Germany. Do you think it’s still as popular as it was 15 or 20 years ago – and in terms of drivers, behind you of course, there is a lot of interest for Mick Schumacher in Formula 2 but beyond him there doesn’t seem to be many German young talents – do you think it is because Formula 1 is not as inspiring as it was when you guys were growing?
NH: I think, based and judged on last year, people were very interested. Like I said earlier, I’ve never seen that much interested since I’m in Formula 1, since my career in Germany, and that was pretty amazing and nice to see. I think generally, Germans, we are known, we are a car country and we love our cars and the interest is still there. I think naturally some years it’s a bit more, some years it’s a bit less but I think yeah, we have a spoilt history in racing, so that’s also one thing to consider – but I think in general, the appetite and the interest of the population is still very much alive. And yeah beyond Mick, to be honest, I’m not really sure entirely what’s coming through the go-kart series and the young formulae, so can’t really comment on it.
SV: I think obviously it’s normal that the biggest hype, I believe was when Michael started winning as he was the first German to win the Championship. Being the first, there is always more momentum and more interest – but as Nico said, I think the atmosphere last year proved that there is still very much an appetite for racing but I also feel that the German crowd is a very fair and direct and honest crowd, so maybe some things that have happened in our sport didn’t help the popularity. For the future, I think you need to draw, a bit, the bigger picture. I think, again, Germans are quite straightforward with the way they spend their money and unfortunately junior racing, starting from karting and through the series after that are – I think – way too expensive. Nico and myself we enjoyed each other in go-karts and racing each other. I think the background is not that dissimilar. I think giving us the same chance today, I think our career would stop fairly soon because we simply wouldn’t have the pocket money to do it. So, I think overall, to allow more kids – boys and girls – to start racing, the sport would need to be a lot cheaper, as currently I think it’s way too expensive and unaffordable for most.

Q: (Manuel Sanchez – Il Tamburello.net) My question is for Nico Hulkenberg. Renault will be the first team to test the future Pirellis. How much advantage will have Renault with this?
NH: When are we going to test those tyres? Honestly, I don’t know? I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about.

This weekend, it’s published that Renault will be the first team to test the new Pirellis… In October, Nico?
NH: I think it’s very hard to say if that’s an advantage or not. I think all teams in rotation do tyre tests but, as far as I’m aware, you are kept in the dark as to what compounds you are testing and what kind of tyre it is, so it is hard for teams to take conclusions from that and use it for the future. So I don’t think it’s a big player or a big advantage.

Q: (Phil Duncan – Press Association) Sebastian, just following on from the earlier question about racing for Ferrari, is this a team you would like to see out your career with or do you envisage racing for someone else?
SV: Not at the moment. As I said earlier to Heikki that I don’t know how long I’m going to be here but I love racing, I think they’re the best cars to… the fastest there are. The joy that I get from driving is like it’s ever been and as I said, obviously the motivation is high to get the job done with Ferrari so that’s the two things that are, I guess, dictating whether I’m going to be around for long or not.

Q: (Carlos Miguel Gomez – AutoHebdo Sport) Carlos, what is the secret to be the best of the rest?
CS: At the moment there’s no secret. If I find it, I will obviously keep it secret. I think it’s a combination. I think it’s a combination of hard work done by the team and creating a package good enough to do what we are doing on race day. It’s a combination of good strategies come Sunday. It’s a combination of good starts, good pace when you need to have good pace and good development. Nowadays the midfield battle is so tight that you need to be on top of everything and be very good at everything and I think this year we’ve been very good at mostly everything and that’s why we are leading in that battle. We haven’t been the fourth fastest car every race weekend but somehow we’ve managed to score good results when we were not the fourth fastest car and in the midfield I think that’s important but my wish is to separate a bit from this midfield and see if the team can keep improving and keep separating itself from the midfield which I think this year is going to be nearly impossible to do. It’s more thinking in the future.

Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Sebastian, sorry to take you back to 12 months ago here. You had your mistake in the race; since then there’s been a few mistakes along the way, all the way through to Silverstone and the last race. How satisfied are you on your performances over the past twelve months? Is it fair to say that you haven’t delivered, given the car that you’ve been given by Ferrari? And do you feel under pressure?
SV: Well, I always put myself under pressure so I can’t be happy, obviously, if things go wrong. I think some of the things, obviously, were bigger than others. I think the main thing is that – as I said previously – that we keep progressing in the right way but for sure if I get something wrong and make a mistake I can’t be happy with that. The pressure I put on myself after that I think is bigger than any external factors. This has been the same as long as I can remember. I think for me it’s the most honest and straightforward way to deal with it myself because I know what I’ve done wrong and what I’ve done right. I know when I had the opportunity to do well or not. I think you’re always your best judge, no matter what you do so that’s the rules by which I play.

Q: (Rebecca Clancy – The Times) Sebastian and Kimi, do you ever miss each other as teammates and can you say what the best qualities were about each other as a teammate?
KR: The meetings are a lot shorter now, now that we’re not in the same meetings any more. Or in the same team. We see each other still. I enjoy it, for sure, it was very good but we were friends before and it never changed and it’s still the same so life goes on. I think it’s always been very honest with Seb so it’s easy, easy going.

Q: His best qualities?
KR: Straightforward, honest.
SV: I can only return. Obviously now the meetings are not as short as they were which is a pity. Yeah, as Kimi said, we’ve sort of got on with each other before, had respect for each other and it’s the same now. Best qualities? Straightforward and honest! Yeah. No, I think the interesting thing is, even if, no, we look very different from the outside in terms of what people think but I think inside, as I said, we got along with each other fairly quickly right from the beginning and it’s probably because we share a lot of the same values and key to that is there were never any games or any attempt to play anything or… just no attempt to waste time, basically.

Q: (Luke Smith – Crash.net) Seb and Nico, following the earlier question about the future of F1 in Germany, you mentioned Mick Schumacher. How significant do you think the return of the Schumacher name to an F1 race seat in the future could be for F1 in this country and also how important is it that he’s not rushed on that journey?
SV: Yeah, I think it’s crucial that he’s given the time he needs. I think it’s fair to judge him and his racing like every one of us has been judged and will be judged but it’s not right to measure and compare too much to other people and to his father. I don’t think it’s fair. It’s a different time, different racing but for sure, as I tried to explain earlier, Michael was the one who set off a huge hype when we were kids and therefore the name Schumacher is one hundred percent known in Germany due to him. Obviously to have Mick at the doorstep of F1 and one day hopefully joining would be huge and hopefully a big boost for Germany. On top of that, despite the name, he’s a great guy, he’s a nice kid so I think our fingers are crossed for him. There’s been a time when I think we had a lot of Germans in Formula One – like six or seven – and everyone was wondering why and so on. Now we have two we don’t get these questions any more but back then I think there were zero French guys and now you have quite a lot of French guys in Formula One and very close so I think it’s just how it goes around but yeah, hopefully he gets the chance one day and does well and brings some more enthusiasm. NH: Yeah, not much to add. I feel and think the same as Seb said. I think he needs his time, of course, also to go through his development but I’m sure he will get his chance. But then for Germany that could be quite… obviously another big ignition to motivate people to go back to a Formula One race to watch so it could play a big part in that and it would be great to see.

Q: (Edd Straw – Autosport) Sebastian, a question about the past. I wanted to ask you about one of your most successful cars, the 2011 Red Bull RB7. What do you remember about that car and how challenging was it to get the most out of that, given that there was the exhaust blown downforce and you had to adapt your technique to get the most from it?
SV: Yeah, obviously it was a very experimental phase because back then exhaust blowing was unknown and the effects of it and the logic behind it and so on. It was the first year where we really explored the limits, up to the point where we blew up a tyre on the grid because the plume and the hot air on the tyre obviously was coming at very high speed and made a big difference to how the car felt, made a big difference to how you had to drive the car, made a big difference to how you set up the car but I think we got the hang of it. I think key to one, a very clever way to design the car. Second was Renault’s input back then which I think they’ve been first in class and most extreme and probably the most brave to adapt and come up with solutions to help the demands of our aero department at the time. Obviously then it got banned and the years after, what people have been trying ever since is to find a way to get back because it’s proved to be so powerful. Season-wise it was a great season because I think we as a whole team matured a lot from little hiccoughs in 2010 so it was a lot more straightforward in 2011.

Q: (Rosal Mohedano – MomentoGP.com) Carlos, Andreas Seidl has been in the team for some months now, has he changed a lot in the team to make a midfield car the top midfield car?
CS: I think the credit of this year’s car is mainly due to what happened last year, all the development that happened during that second half of the season, where the team basically decided to stop developing the 2018 to try and understand why the 2018 car was so poor and the job done, obviously in the early months of this winter, going into March, the job of Andreas, what he’s doing very well now is doing a whole analysis of the situation that we are in in the factory, especially back in Woking and he’s just having an overlook and have a very good look into what can be improved and it’s more a midterm to a long term project. I think he’s quite advance and he’s going to start having a very big influence in the upcoming months but you need to give him time. I think when there is an environment of six hundred to eight hundred people like we are in McLaren at the moment, to notice any kind of change you need years, you need months or even years to feel the change and that’s going to take time for sure.

German Grand Prix: Vettel returns home to face his demons

Verstappen: We are further away than I would like

Verstappen: We are further away than I would like

The in-form Max Verstappen said on Thursday he has set his sights on not only overhauling Ferrari, but also catching and beating Mercedes on a regular basis in the future.

Speaking to reporters ahead of this weekend’s German Grand Prix Red Bull’s Dutchman, who is third in the driver’s championships, said he wanted to close the gap on Mercedes and in Hungary next week before he headed off on holiday for the traditional European summer break.

“Closing the gap to Mercedes,” he responded to a question about his biggest target in the next two weeks. “We want to win so that’s our biggest challenge ahead – to try and close that gap.

“We are further away than I would like, but we are getting closer. It’s not good enough, but we know that so we’re working hard to try and close that.”

Verstappen is behind the two Mercedes men, with defending five-time champion Lewis Hamilton on top 31 points ahead of Valtteri Bottas.

The 21-year-old has been in fast and consistent form this year with a sequence of top-five finishes including one win, at the Austrian Grand Prix in sweltering conditions in June.

That win lifted spirits at Red Bull and across Formula One as it ended Mercedes unbeaten start to the year.

He was on course for another impressive podium finish at the British Grand Prix two weeks ago before Sebastian Vettel drove into him in his Ferrari, “At the end of the day, second is always better than third, but we’re here to win.

“Of course, we want to be in front of Ferrari, but we want even more to be in front of Mercedes. This year, at the moment, we are trying to get the most out of the engine as well and learn from what we did wrong in the beginning of the season, or not as good compared to Mercedes and Ferrari. Hopefully, next year, we can fight for the wins all the time.”

The much-matured Verstappen was also philosophical about the collision that cost him dearly at Silverstone and which was not of his making and said of Vettel, “He said that he made a mistake, to me, after the race.

“Of course, I’m disappointed not to have been on the podium, but what can I say? It happens. I made a mistake in China against him (in 2018) and he was quite calm about it at the time. It happens, unfortunately. It’s racing as well. You prefer it not to happen, but it happens.”

While Verstappen has shone this year, his Red Bull team-mate Pierre Gasly has struggled to understand the RB15 car until the last few weeks when an upgraded front wing has helped him turn around his fortunes.

The Frenchman finished fourth at Silverstone, his best result in F1 and with confidence restored will hope to do just as well again in the heat of Hockenheim this weekend.

Big Question: Is Max getting impatient?

Mercedes reveal special 125 years of motorsport livery

Mercedes reveal special 125 years of motorsport livery

The reigning Formula 1 World Champion’s, Mercedes are running a special livery in Hockenheim to celebrate 125 years of motorsport.

On 22 July 1894 the very first motor race was held from Paris to Rouen. The Mercedes-Benz Grosser Preis von Deutschland 2019 will also be the 200th start for the team in Formula One.

The special Hockenheim livery is an homage to the design of classic Mercedes-Benz racing cars. The front wing and the nose of the car are painted white – similar in design to Mercedes race cars in the beginning of the 20th century. Back then, the colour of the car would symbolise the origin of the team – French cars were typically painted blue, Italian cars red and British cars green. The international racing colour for German cars was white.

Some of the most impressive machines in the motorsport history of Daimler and Benz were painted white, including the Grand Prix racing cars from the early 20th century, the Blitzen-Benz and the Mercedes-Benz SSK.

In the first and second decade of the 20th century, Carl Benz’ and Gottlieb Daimler’s inventions competed in a number of races against each other. One of the most prestigious races of that time was the French Grand Prix. In 1908, Christian Lautenschlager won the race driving the Mercedes 140 hp Grand Prix racing car, followed by Victor Hémery and René Hanriot, both of whom were driving the Benz 120 hp Grand Prix racing car.

The Blitzen-Benz (“Lightning Benz”), powered by a massive 21.5-litre engine producing 200 hp (147 kW), broke the land speed record in 1911 in Daytona Beach with a top speed of 228.1 km/h – a record that would last for the next eight years. Driving the Mercedes-Benz SSK, Rudolf Caracciola won the European mountain racing championship in 1930 and 1931. In 1931, he also won the Mille Miglia from Brescia to Rome in the upgraded version SSKL.

The white nose and front wing also feature historic logos from Mercedes-Benz, PETRONAS, Tommy Hilfiger and Pirelli as well as Niki Lauda’s signature to pay tribute to the racing legend, chairman and friend of the team who passed away two months ago.

In the barge board area at the front of the chassis the white paint seems to be “scraped off”, exposing the silver livery below. This effect echoes the legendary origins of the Silver Arrows. In 1934, the Mercedes-Benz W 25 competed in the 750 kg formula; however, legend has it that it was slightly too heavy before the race, so the team scraped away the white paint to save weight, exposing the metallic bodywork underneath it.

Towards the rear of the car, the paint scrape effect fades away, showing the original paint job of the 2019 Mercedes-AMG F1 W10 which includes the Mercedes-Benz brand pattern that the team has run all season.

The team’s race garage has also been redesigned for Mercedes’ home race at Hockenheim and features historic race posters from different eras in which the Silver Arrows competed.

The team has one more visual surprise planned for the weekend to celebrate the 1950s – the era when Mercedes originally joined Formula One. Keep your eyes peeled…

Hulkenberg: It’s quite likely that I will remain with Renault

Hulkenberg: It’s quite likely that I will remain with Renault

Nico Hulkenberg is ‘quite likely’ to stay at Renault next season, he said on Thursday – ahead of the German Grand Prix weekend – despite speculation linking others to the seat.

The 31-year-old, teammate to Daniel Ricciardo, is in his third season at Renault and out of contract at the end of 2019.

In nine and a half seasons in the sport, and 166 starts, the Le Mans 24 Hours winner has yet to stand on the podium — a Formula 1 record — with a best result of fourth.

“If you look across the three years, we can’t be entirely happy with everything that we’ve done,” told reporters ahead of Sunday’s German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.

“Nevertheless, the outlook is still good. We still see light at the end of the tunnel and we believe we can still catch up to some extent.

“We’ll see what happens in the future and what happens to me as well. As for now, there’s nothing set in stone but I think it’s quite likely that I will remain with the team.”

Young French driver Esteban Ocon, who is backed by Mercedes, has been linked to Renault and was set to join last year before Ricciardo decided to leave Red Bull and take the French manufacturer’s offer.

Renault are fifth in the championship going into the 11th race of the 21-round championship, 21 points behind McLaren, who use the same engines. Hulkenberg has scored 17 points to Ricciardo’s 22. The team were fourth overall in 2018.

Big Question: Does Nico deserve to remain in F1?

Hulkenberg: We need fixes rather sooner than later

‘No regrets’ over Renault move as Ricciardo faces $12.5m legal claim

Daniel Ricciardo insists he has “no regrets” over his Renault move, as he faces a legal claim from his former advisor for £10 million ($12.5m) in alleged unpaid fees.

Glenn Beavis claims he has yet to receive a number of commissions following Ricciardo’s surprise move from Red Bull to Renault last year, with the Australian signing a two-year deal. In a lawsuit filed in London’s High Court, Beavis alleges he is owed 20 percent of Ricciardo’s base salary, having provided management services since 2012 until early this year.

The lawsuit says negotiations with Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul were opened in mid-2017, with Ricciardo signing a contract on August 2 of last year. Ricciardo then informed Beavis that he was seeking to end the partnership in December, but filings state it was agreed he would continue “there were various outstanding matters to be dealt with first, including negotiating the long form of the Renault driver contracts.”

“It’s unfortunate it’s come to this, but in the face of non-payment I’ve been left with no choice,” Beavis is quoted as saying by ESPN.

Ebury Partnership is representing Ricciardo but has yet to file his defense, and while the Australian would not comment on the ongoing legal proceedings on Thursday at the German Grand Prix, he insists he has no regrets over leaving Red Bull.

“Next year is long way ahead but I do still have faith in this project 100 percent,” Ricciardo said. “No regrets. After Max (Verstappen) won in Austria I was asked, ‘You see him win so do you regret leaving Red Bull?’ No I don’t regret it because basically I feel I’d be in the same position at Red Bull, even though on paper the results are better, whether I’m getting podiums to whatever I’d be getting, it is still what I was getting the last few years.

“At least this year I’ve got to work with new engineers, learned more about myself, tried to get a more difficult car further up the grid. So from the personal level I know that I’ve got more out of myself this year than I would’ve at Red Bull. I would have kept doing the same thing and with the same people.”

INSIGHT: Why have F1’s 2019 tires been such a curveball?

INSIGHT: Why have F1’s 2019 tires been such a curveball?

If you’ve watched a Formula 1 race in the past 10 years, you’ve probably noticed that people within the sport tend to talk about the tires. A lot.

The 2010 Canadian Grand Prix is often referenced as the catalyst, when the Bridgestones could not complete a one-stop race and tire strategy made for a thriller. That blueprint was handed to Pirelli, with a request – make sure the tires degrade. A lot.

More recently, the drivers have asked for harder tires in order to be able to push more, and so we’re back to one-stop races despite built-in degradation. But it turns out that this year, that’s brought tires back into the spotlight again for a completely different reason: some teams can’t generate enough heat in the harder compounds, and keep it there.

“They are talking about difficulty in warming up the tires,” Pirelli’s head of car racing Mario Isola tells RACER. “I’m not 100% sure, to be honest. It could have been true in Shanghai where it was quite cold; we had Baku [where] if I’m not wrong, that was colder than in previous years. But in the last few races, the warm-up was not reported as an issue for any of the teams.”

As the only items connecting the car to the track, tires are always a great differentiator. But it has also been common to hear drivers complaining that the operating window of the Pirellis is too small. If you’re not in that window, you lose performance. The problem is, the window is constantly changing.

“To define the working window of the tire is not so easy,” Isola admits. “If you consider the curve of the grip, you always have a peak. You don’t have a warm-up phase, then a plateau and then the overheating phase. You have a curve and then you have a peak.

“So from the peak, you define the window that says how much grip you lose. That can be 1%, 2%, 3%… depending on the definition, you can consider the window wider or narrower. So we should define the window first.

“Then this window is affected by several factors. If we talk about running on track, there is the influence of the tarmac, the layout of the circuit, the level of wear on the tire, the weather conditions in terms of temperature, the set-up of the car, the downforce on the car, rim heating or rim cooling…

“If you are good at managing the temperature of the air inside the tire, you are basically managing the pressure, so you know exactly how the footprint is working. The level of complexity in which teams manage the tire is very, very high. They look after every detail. When you consider all these elements, they are all going to contribute to warming up the tire or overheating the tire, etc.”

Haas has attributed some of its 2019 struggles to a lack of understanding of the current Pirellis. Image by Dunbar/LAT

Despite all of that focus on the tires, they remain tricky beasts to tame. Pirelli is confident it has delivered a range of compounds that overheat less than last year, suffer from fewer blisters and are spaced correctly in terms of lap time delta. So why the problems so far this year? Isola believes the answer lies in the new aerodynamic regulations.

“Last year the tires had certain characteristics; teams were probably focusing more on designing cars to be lighter on tires compared to last year,” he says. “Looking at the efficiency, opting for less drag instead of more downforce. At the same time, we were developing tires with different characteristics, but based on the targets that they’d asked for.

“These tires require a bit more energy to work properly, so we went in a direction, they went in a direction. We gave them the tires in Abu Dhabi, but obviously they tested them with a 2018 car that was different, so we had no complaints – everybody was happy with the tires.

“What is strange that we went to Barcelona for the pre-season test with the same tires – exactly the same tires, because the Abu Dhabi test was successful so we had no need to change anything – and we had no complaints. In Melbourne we had no complaints. Then they started to come later in the season.

“At this point it is impossible for us to make any adjustments because the regulation is clear. We cannot change. We can ask the FIA to change tires with their authorization only if there is a safety issue.

“So what happened for example last year, when for three events we asked for a different specification of the tire was that on these three specific tracks – Barcelona, Paul Ricard and Silverstone – they had been resurfaced. With new tarmac in Barcelona we experienced a lot of blisters, and every type of blister is not the same.

“There are small bubbles that are blisters, but they are not affecting the performance or the integrity of the tire, and these are acceptable. But sometimes we have big blisters where part of the tread is coming off, and this is not acceptable because in that case you expose the construction and you take a big risk. Therefore, you can have a tire failure. That’s why we asked to modify the specification for the three races.

“So it’s important to define the differences; why last year we decided to change for a safety issue for three races. This year, there is no issue. If I have to send a request to the FIA for a safety issue this year I have no idea what to write on the paper.”

Despite often being in the crosshairs when a team is looking for someone to blame for its struggles – Haas has been particularly vocal this season while it struggles to extract its car’s potential over a race distance – Isola says he welcomes constructive criticism.

A bid to revert to the 2018 tires was shot down, but Isola says it wouldn’t have helped the teams anyway. Image by Hone/LAT

“When you are the sole supplier, it’s quite common that teams are complaining,” he says. “What is important is that the criticism is made in a productive way and a positive way. So if we can understand and learn and direct our development in the right direction, it’s useful to have these kinds of complaints. Otherwise it’s not giving us any tools to improve, so it’s not useful.”

Pirelli assigns engineers to each team, and those engineers do not have access to data from any other car. That applies throughout the company – save for a handful of staff predominantly based in Milan – in order to ensure integrity. While the tire supplier understands the conditions under which its tires work best, different car designs and characteristics require a unique equation for each team.

“We have an idea because we analyze our compounds and know what is the best temperature for the peak of grip for each compound,” Isola says. “The problem is, when we talk about the temperature of the compound, we are always referring to the bulk temperature – the temperature that is inside the compound – and this is a temperature that you cannot measure.

“The surface should be at the same temperature to generate the grip. What happens is they measure the carcass temperature and they measure the surface temperature, but these two temperatures are not always at the same level. The carcass temperature is mainly due to the energy you are putting through the tire, [so] the surface can be affected a lot by the sliding or another aspect.

“So that’s why they then make an estimation of the bulk, they look after the carcass and the surface and then they make their calculations to find the best compromise in order to make the tires work.”

That challenge was almost changed in Austria, where the teams, FIA and F1 met to discuss returning to last year’s compounds. Unanimous approval was not forthcoming – much to the dismay of Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto – but Isola says it would have been a pointless change regardless.

“Going back to last year’s tires means having the same problems as we had last year, because the cars this year are quicker, and the lap time is telling you how much energy the cars are putting into the tires,” he says. “That’s why going back to last year’s tires – in my opinion – was not the right move.

“Then, if we want to have meetings and discussions with teams, drivers, the FIA and FOM to try and improve the show, we are more than happy to be involved, and to be part of that if we can do something with the tires as we have in the last nine years. But it’s not going back to last year’s tires that is fixing the issue.”

The trend in previous seasons has been for teams to start getting on top of tires as the season goes on, with car development tailored to extract more performance from them. Upgrades sometimes take months to deliver, so it’s not inconceivable that a change of tire could have made the situation worse when new parts designed around the 2019 compounds came through later in the year.

Either way, as all teams get the same tires in the same way they are handed the same technical regulations to work with each year, Isola says it’s just another aspect to highlight which outfits are capable of doing a better job.

“It’s not easy, it is a challenge. I believe it is quite interesting, it’s a technical challenge just like if you ask an aerodynamicist to find more downforce. It’s a part of how to use the package. Obviously the tire is the same for everybody, the information we give to the teams is the same for everybody, then it’s up to the team to find a way to use the tire in a better way.”

German GP: Thursday’s build up in pictures

German GP: Thursday’s build up in pictures

Formula 1 has set up shop at Hockenheim for the 11th round of the F1 world championship. Scorching temperatures are forecast to be the norm this weekend, so many were those who sought some shade during Thursday’s build-up.

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Pirelli primer: which tyres for the German GP?

Pirelli primer: which tyres for the German GP?

Hockenheim is no longer the power circuit it used to be, the German Grand Prix venue now offering in its modern guide a more balanced layout.

Pirelli’s subsequent selection for this weekend’s race is the middle range represented by the Hard C2. Medium C3 and Soft C4 compounds, a choice broadly equivalent to last year.

“Hockenheim is not a track that the teams are historically completely familiar with,” says Pirelli F1 boss Mario Isola.

“For many years it alternated with the Nurburgring, then it dropped off the calendar entirely, before returning last year.

“Nonetheless, there’s nothing about the track that is particular surprise, with the demands and forces on the tyres being quite balanced.

“One exception is the Motodrom section, which is a bit more stop-and-go, while another thing to be aware of is the camber on Turn 12 and Turn 13.

“Wear and degradation is generally low, so in the past we have seen some quite long stints on the tyres.

“As we experienced last season though, the weather is hard to predict in Hockenheim at this time of year and this could certainly be one key element influencing strategy.”

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Williams to roll out major upgrades for Kubica and Russell

Williams to roll out major upgrades for Kubica and Russell

Robert Kubica and George Russell will be running with the Williams team’s latest upgrades to the struggling FW42 in Friday’s practice sessions for the German Grand Prix.

Williams is the only squad yet to score any championship points in this year’s F1 season, and is in desperate need of improvements if it is to close the gap to the rest of the midfield teams.

“I think hopefully this weekend will be the first time of the year where we see a small step forwards,” said Russell.

“Robert will be running the new stuff tomorrow,” Russell confirmed. “And I’ll be running the previous stuff to get a full back-to-back correlation to see the differences.

“Then I’ll have it on my car for Saturday,” he revealed.

The team was giving few details about what upgrades would be making their appearance in Hockenheim, but reports suggested major revisions ot the car’s floor and to the bargeboards.

“We have a few new bits on the car which is a continuation of what we introduced a bit in Silverstone,” said Russell. “We’re looking forward to seeing how they do.

Russell said that the upgrades were “focusing on getting the car faster, getting more downforce on the car. Hopefully they will work as expected, and should be a good improvement.”

“How much that will be not sure yet, but definitely some visible changes to the car for this weekend,” Russell explained. “It’ll be a step forwards.”

However the British rookie driver said that no one should be expecting any sudden improvements in Williams’ performance this weekend.

“I’m still sure we’ll be slowest still,” he said. “[Even if the upgrade] reaches our targets we’ll still definitely be slowest this weekend. But we know we’ve got more to come later in the year.

“If they work as expected it’d be positive for us,” he continued.

“I won’t give a figure on that in terms of a number, but we have some expectations of where we think how much it should improve by.

George Russell (GBR) Williams Racing.

Russell said that there was a lot going on behind the scenes at Grove. “We’re definitely seeing a lot of progress so we hope that translates onto track as well,” he explained.

“A considerable amount has been done back at the factory,” he added. “It certainly feels that we are in a much better position than we’ve been.

“It’s now just about moving forward and continuing the development path that we’re on.”

Russell said that the team was “hoping that we can continue to close down the gap to pinpoint kind of platform that we needed to make progress.

“It just demonstrates the spirit that we’ve got with Williams still. The teamwork that we’ve got, and the morale to keep pushing and to keep fighting to get us back to where we want to get to.”

Russell has said that he’s not thinking about where he will be in 2020 at this point of the maiden season in F1.

“I’m absolutely committed to Williams at the moment,” he insisted. “The only way I wouldn’t be at Williams next year is if I was in a Mercedes.

“If the opportunity came along at Mercedes, that would obviously be fantastic, but that’s not at the forefront of my mind.

“I’m just fully focused [on Williams],” he stated. “Everything we’re doing now is also working towards next year’s car and making that to a much better level than our current car is.”

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Vettel says Mercedes ‘big favourite’ to win at Hockenheim

Vettel says Mercedes ‘big favourite’ to win at Hockenheim

Sebastian Vettel fears that Mercedes could run away with this weekend’s German Grand Prix.

“Obviously I want to win, but I’m realistic,” Vettel said. “Coming here I don’t feel we are the favourites – but I do feel we have a chance.

“We have a chance to do well, that’s the objective,” he continued. “It’s a special place for me. Close to where I’m from. Close to family and friends.

“I won’t have to go very far to be in a place where I can celebrate,” he added.

“You should never say never, and I’ll give everything as always, but realistically Mercedes is the big favourite,” the Ferrari driver told Auto Bild this week.

Last year Vettel appeared to have victory in the bag when a rare mistake from the four-time world champion saw him spin out of the lead of the race with 16 laps to go.

“Obviously, I was very close last year. Let’s see how close we can get [to that],” he said, before admitting: “I think we are in a less strong position to start the weekend.

“Then again, in recent races we’ve felt very strong, both in qualifying and in race pace.”

Experts say that the SF90’s tendency to understeer is holding Vettel back, especially compared to his team mate Charles Leclerc.

“I am not feeling the rear of the car at the moment,” Vettel admitted. “For me that means I am missing confidence.”

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari in the FIA Press Conference.

Leclerc has acknowledged that finding himself only three points behind Vettel in the drivers championship is giving him renewed motivation to push hard to catch his team mate again this weekend.

“It was always going to be a very interesting challenge for me,” the Monegasque driver told BBC Sport this week.

“I am at the beginning of my career,” he explained. “He is a very experienced driver and to have him by my side is very important.

“I can definitely grow a lot and learn a lot things from him, which I did from the beginning of the season.

“But it is also a great challenge for me to try to beat him, and that’s what I am here for. I always want to be the fastest on track and I always try to give absolutely everything to be in front.”

At the same time, Leclerc doesn’t want to force his hand too soon and get himself into hot water at Maranello.

“As I’ve said, I am still very early in my racing career and I am pretty sure there is a lot more I can learn and a lot more things I can do better,” he said.

“I will focus on these things and hopefully there will be even more turning points in the future.”

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Hulkenberg expecting to stay at Renault in 2020

Hulkenberg expecting to stay at Renault in 2020

Nico Hulkenberg says that he expects to sign an extension to his current contract with Renault to keep him at Enstone in 2020.

“For me there is nothing set in stone but I think it is quite likely that I will remain with the team,” he told the press in Hockenheim on Thursday.

The 31-year-old German driver has been with Renault since 2017, when he switched from Force India. This year he was joined in the driver line-up by former Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo on a two-year deal.

Although the two drivers have been putting in very comparable performances over the first ten races of the current season, the overall results haven’t been as good as the factory team had ben hoping for

“I think it is fair to say that so far this season we cannot be entirely happy with what we have achieved,” Hulkenberg conceded.

“To start with we had a lot of issues and missed out on results,” he continued.

“But a little bit more disappointing is where we are in terms of pace and development rate. It is not really where we needed or wanted it to be.

“So behind expectations this year probably all in all,” he admitted. “[Also] not entirely happy if you look across the three years. We cannot be entirely happy with everything that we have done.”

However Hulkenberg still sees a lot of potential at Renault – enough to ensure that he wants to stay at the team given the opportunity.

“The outlook is still good, we still see light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “I do believe we can still catch up to some extent.

“How much is always difficult to say with entire certainty, but we see what happens in the future and we see what happens to me as well.”

The team is currently 21 points behind McLaren in the constructors championship. Closing that gap is Hulkenberg’s first objective, one that he feels is within reach.

Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault F1 Team in the FIA Press Conference.

“It is 21 points, that’s a fact,” he agreed. “But I think we could be right up there with them if you add up all of the complications we had, all the missed results and problems.

“We should be there or thereabouts. But for sure, McLaren look very strong at the moment and are probably one of our main competitors that we will probably be battling with from here till the end.”

If the team does decide to retain Hulkenberg alongside Ricciardo then it will be a blow for Esteban Ocon, who has been hoping for an opening at the team as one possibility to return him to the grid next season.

Ocon lost his seat at the former Force India squad to Lance Stroll. Despite being backed by Mercedes, there were no openings on the grid to keep him in F1 this season.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has said that he hopes to find a solution for Ocon next season.

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Verstappen sets his sights on catching Mercedes

Verstappen sets his sights on catching Mercedes

Max Verstappen says that Red Bull should be setting its sights on overhauling Mercedes in upcoming races – but admits that the team still has a way to go before it can achieve that goal.

The Dutch driver said it was no longer enough to aim to beat Ferrari, if that meant being merely second-best.

“Of course we want to be in front of Ferrari, but we want to be even more in front of Mercedes,” he told the media in Hockenheim.

“Second is always better than third, but we are here to win,” he pointed out. “That’s our biggest challenge ahead: to try and close that gap [to Mercedes].”

The 21-year-old, who is the only non-Mercedes driver to win a race in 2019 after success in Austria last month, admitted that Red Bull is still someway behind their rivals: “Further than I would like,” he acknowledged.

“We are getting closer,” he continued. “It’s not good enough, but we know that so we’re working hard to try and close that.

“This year at the moment we are trying to get the most out of the engine as well and learn from what we did wrong in the beginning of the season,” he said. “Or not as good compared to Mercedes and Ferrari.

“Hopefully next year we can fight for the wins all the time,” he added.

So far, the Red Bull’s competitiveness has been up and down compared to its rivals depending on the nature of the track in question.

“Sometimes we are running less downforce, sometimes a bit more,” Verstappen explained. “It depends on how your car is balanced as well. High speed or low speed it depends, one track is high speed and the other is low speed.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing with Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari in parc ferme.

“At Silverstone we were running less downforce so automatically in the lower speed corners you lose a bit of grip.

“For example we were faster on the straights at Silverstone than [Mercedes], which is a bit odd but it seemed to work the best for us.”

“The grip has been stepping up for sure,” he added.

Last time out, Verstappen lost a likely podium finish in the British Grand Prix after being rear-ended by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. However he insisted that there would be no bad feelings between himself and the four-time world champion this weekend.

“He said that he made a mistake to me after the race,” he said. “Of course, I’m disappointed to not to have been on the podium, but what can I say? It happens.”

Verstappen recalled a previous clash between the pair in 2018 where the blame had been the other way around.

“I made a mistake in China against him,” he said. “Ie was quite calm about it at the time. It happens, unfortunately. It’s racing as well – you prefer it not to happen, but it happens.”

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Mercedes reveals 125-year livery for German GP

Mercedes reveals 125-year livery for German GP

Mercedes has unveiled the special livery it will race with at the German Grand Prix to mark 125 years of competing in motorsports.

The German manufacturer is marking 125 years since the first motor race from Paris to Rouen on July 22, 1894, where Gottlieb Daimler’s 3.5-horsepower engine powered the winning cars. In honor of the company’s heritage in motorsport, a special livery has been produced for this weekend’s race at Hockenheim.

The nose and front wing is painted white in reference to the German racing colors used at the start of the 20th century, with historic logos used from the various team sponsors and partners.

The white paint then appears to be scraped off around the front of the sidepods to reveal the current livery underneath. This effect is in reference to the birth of the Silver Arrows colors in 1934 — the story goes that the W25 was overweight and engineers scraped the paint off the car to in order to save weight, revealing the metallic bodywork below.

On the Halo, a mix of the retro Mercedes logo and the current design is used, as well as the scraped-off paint effect.

The team’s current livery makes up the engine cover and the rear of the car, since the regulations do not permit significant changes to a livery during the season, limiting how much Mercedes was able to adapt.

Steiner still fuming over Grosjean/Magnussen clash

Steiner still fuming over Grosjean/Magnussen clash

Haas F1 Team principal Guenther Steiner has revealed that he’s still furious about the way that his two drivers took each other out on the first lap of the British Grand Prix two weeks ago.

Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen collided going into turn 5, and the damage on both cars was so severe that the pair were eventually obliged to retire from the race.

Steiner made it clear at the time that he was furious with both drivers for wrecking any chance that the team had to salvage crucial data or the possibility of points at Silverstone.

“I am still not over it,” he admitted this week. “They have got a certain amount of opportunities, and this year we are struggling in some of the races.

“They don’t let me down as a person,” he continued. “They let the team down which is disappointing.

“As I said, I am still not over it. I get over things pretty quick, but not this one.

“We had a clear talk after Barcelona about what to do and not to do and it was not followed, which is disappointing.

“They need to understand where we are, and that is the disappointing thing to me.

Such fierce words raise the possibility that Steiner might take the ultimate step to stop Grosjean and Magnussen failing to follow team orders – by dropping one or both of them for 2020.

“You know what I can do, I can do a lot,” Steiner said when asked if this was a possibility. “I don’t know yet

“We decide that one after the [summer] break what we are doing for next year,” he explained. “After the break we will know everything about drivers for sure.

“In Spa you will all be lining up saying what did you do about drivers, and I will say: we are almost there. Give me a few more events and I will tell you.”

Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas VF-19 leads team mate Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team VF-19.

The team had struggled in qualifying for the British GP. Grosjean started from 14th on the grid with an older set of aerodynamic components, with Magnussen lining up just behind in 16th place.

But Steiner had felt that both men would have had a chance to bounce back in the race if they hadn’t taken each other out.

“The car on Friday [in practice] was a lot better in long runs, and that is on times, and if you can compare them that is factual,” he explained.

“If it would have been the same in the race, 100 per cent I cannot say, but the chances were high. And then we were out at turn 5.”

The lack of points from the last four rounds of the 2019 season has left Haas down near the bottom of the constructors championship, between Toro Rosso and Williams.

“I think our position at the moment doesn’t reflect where we are in reality,” Steiner said of Haas’ current ninth place.

“We have got these big ups and downs and when we have ups we put ourselves down one way or another, so that is quite frustrating.”

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Mercedes reveals one-off German GP celebratory livery

Mercedes reveals one-off German GP celebratory livery

After teasing its special “125 years in motorsport” livery earlier this week, Mercedes has unveiled the commemorative white motif that will adorn its cars this weekend at Hockenheim.

The German Grand Prix will mark the team’s 200th start in F1, but Mercedes is also celebrating the very first motorsport event which took place 125 years ago.

The event was a Paris to Rouen race held on France’s open roads which was won by a Peugeot powered by a 3.5 bhp engine designed by Daimler.

The milestone is an opportunity for Mercedes – the title sponsor of this weekend’s German Grand Prix – to pay tribute to it past by running a matte white livery that harks back to the manufacturer’s pre-war days in Grand Prix racing.

“The Eifelrennen, held on 3 June 1934 at the Nürburgring, was the first race in which the Mercedes-Benz W25 competed,” explains the manufacturer.

“The car was a newly designed race car for the 1934 Grand Prix season, which saw the introduction of a new set of regulations that limited the total weight of the car to 750 kilograms without fuel, oil, coolant, and tyres.

“It was a mighty race car, but according to Silver Arrows legend there was one small issue with it: when the W25 was weighed the day before its first race, it was slightly above the weight limit of 750 kg.

“Allegedly, the team was able to bring the weight down to within regulatory limits by scraping off its white paint.

“Without the white paint, the metal bodywork of the car was exposed, giving it a silver look: the first Silver Arrow was born.”

The white paint is back for this weekend, but its doubtful the mighty Merc will weigh in significantly above the regulation’s minimum weight!

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Steiner still angry at Haas drivers

Steiner still angry at Haas drivers

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner admits he is still angry at Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen after the pair collided at the British Grand Prix.

The two drivers came together on the opening lap, with light contact in the first sector giving both punctures that eventually forced them to retire. Steiner was livid after the race and upon arriving at Hockenheim for the German Grand Prix he says he has still not calmed down nearly two weeks later.

“We need to see what we will do,” Steiner said. “We haven’t done anything yet but I think they got the message pretty clear after the race in Silverstone.

“I’m still not over it, because you have got a certain amount of opportunities. Obviously this year we are struggling in some of the races and I cannot say we would have been fantastic, but on Friday it was a lot better on long runs.

“Would it have been the same in the race? 100 percent I cannot say but the chances were high. And then you go out at Turn 5 and we are P9 in the championship, and I think our position does not reflect where we are in reality. We have got these big ups and downs — and when we have got ups, we put ourselves down one way or another, so that is quite frustrating.”

“You know what I can do — I can do a lot but I think they need to understand where we are. That’s the disappointing thing for me. They don’t let me down as a person, they let the team down.

“Like I say I’m still not over it. Normally I get over things pretty quick, but this one — because we had a clear talk after Barcelona about what to do and what not to do, and it wasn’t followed — is disappointing.”

Steiner says both drivers share the blame equally because they did not respect his rules, with a plan in place if one driver yields to avoid contact.

“Yes, I think it is equal because my instructions from Barcelona were quite clear — even if the guy has gone backwards he will be put forward again, so that should have taken that question out.

“Otherwise you are sitting around the table forever and you never end up at 100% to 0%; it is always 70-30 or 60-40 and then you discuss and discuss and never get a conclusion. Instead of having that I said let’s do it like this: We’ll look afterwards and if the guy who lifted was right then he will then move forward if needed.”

FIA adjusts DRS zones for Hockenheim

The FIA has modified the DRS zones for this weekend’s German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, leaving drivers with two activation points.

In 2018, drivers could use their Drag Reduction System on the main straight, but that zone has now been discarded.

Instead, an activation point located before Turn 1 will allow driver to deploy DRS right after Hockenheim’s first corner all the way to Turn 2.

The second DRS zone will start right after Turn 4 and run all the way down to Hockenheim’s Turn 6 hairpin, where most of the overtaking is expected to take place on Sunday.

While scorching heat is expected this weekend in the Mannheim area – not exactly Mercedes’ preferred outlook given the cooling issues encountered by its W10 in Austria, race day could prove entertaining with a risk of rain currently forecast for Sunday afternoon.

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Berger: F1 should have chosen Assen over Zandvoort

Berger: F1 should have chosen Assen over Zandvoort

Former F1 driver Gerhard Berger believes Formula 1 should have chosen Assen as the venue for next year’s Dutch Grand Prix rather than Zandvoort.

With Max Verstappen’s popularity ramping up unabated, the historic home of F1 in the Netherlands battled with Assen for a spot on F1’s calendar and ultimately secured a multi-year deal with Liberty Media.

While many have commended F1’s commercial rights holder for adding an old school track to the sport’s schedule from 2020, drivers fear they will be challenged to produce a good show at Zandvoort because of the circuit’s layout which will offer few potential opportunities for overtaking.

Berger, who now manages the German DTM series which visited TT Circuit Assen last weekend, insists the track had all the qualities Formula 1 was looking for.

“I was deeply impressed with the circuit,” Berger told Holland’s De Telegraaf.

“I don’t understand why Formula 1 did not come to Assen. It’s one of the best circuits I have seen. Everything here is perfect to hold such a race.

“The stands can accommodate many spectators, the paddock is big and the infrastructure with the airport and hotels in the vicinity is also great,” Berger added.

Ahead of next season’s event, which could be the first F1 race of the European season, Zandvoort will undergo a series of changes destined to enhance the track’s character and hopefully the racing.

But the general consensus among the drivers is that the crowd may not get its money’s worth next year.

“From a driving point of view it is fun,” recently said Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo. “But how fast it is, and how narrow some places are, I don’t think it would be that exciting for overtaking.

“Just my initial feeling, I think with the speeds we go now, following another car would be very difficult. So that is my reservation with it, I think it could be a very processional race.”

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