Bottas says he will be stronger this year
Valtteri Bottas says that he will be stronger in F1 this year after finding “many positives” that he could not see at the end of 2018. The Mercedes driver had a solid debut season for the team in 2017, but last year bad luck played its part in him not winning last year.
The bad luck played its part in his poor results in the final four races a run of fifth-place finishes in the final four Grand Prix’s and dropped him to fifth in the points standings. Writing on the team’s website, Bottas said “I am very happy to start a new season, because for me personally, 2018 did not go the way I wanted to.”
He added, “There was quite a bit of criticism at some stages of 2018, but that’s actually been a positive thing for me because it’s given me an extra boost. I’ve taken all the points I can learn from last year to come back stronger.
“I also found many positives, which I maybe didn’t see at the end of the year, but now digging deep I can see those. I can build on all of that for 2019.”
Bottas has spent most of the last two months in South America, before making his rallying debut last weekend. He finished fifth driving a Ford Fiesta in a Finnish national rally taking a stage win.
Mercedes ambassador Nico Rosberg has tipped the Finn to use the new seas to his advantage and make sure he is “annoying” Hamilton more in 2019.
Bottas added “I am excited that everyone starts with zero points. We are all on the same line and 2019 can bring anything, that’s exciting. It’s going to be a new season ahead and I’m going to put everything I have for this year, all in.
The team has won the last five drivers’ and constructors’ titles, having resisted a stronger challenge from Ferrari last year. But Bottas believes Mercedes is well-placed to handle the “question marks” that come with regulation changes for 2019, which include simpler front wings and bargeboards.
Sauber renamed Alfa Romeo Racing
Sauber has announced it will be renamed Alfa Romeo Racing for the 2019 season. Last year the Italian manufacturer became the teams’ title sponsor and technical partner, but now it has taken over the Swiss team ahead of this season.
However, the Swiss team will remain an independent team and its ownership will be unchanged. CEO, managing director and team principal Fred Vasseur, told Sky Sports “It is a pleasure to announce that we will enter the 2019 Formula One World Championship with the team name Alfa Romeo Racing.”
“After initiating the collaboration with our Title Sponsor Alfa Romeo in 2018, our team made fantastic progress on the technical, commercial and sporting side.”
Vasseur says that 2018 has given a boost to the motivation of each team member, as they are seeing the hard work and that is being reflected in the team’s results. The team made a big step forward last year and finished eighth in the constructors, which convinced Kimi Raikkonen to join the team from Ferrari.
CEO of Fiat Chrysler Group, who owns Alfa Romeo, Michael Manley, said “Make no mistake: with Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi on one side of the pit wall and Alfa Romeo and Sauber expertise on the other, we are here to compete.”
Ricciardo will “fast track” Renault to top
Renault’s F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul believes that Daniel Ricciardo’s move to the team this season will help in “fast-tracking” the teams’ bid to challenge at the front of the sport.
The French manufacturer pulled off the move of the summer when it managed to convince him to leave Red Bull and join the team. Renault finished fourth in the constructors year, but as they go into 2019 the team are still not expecting to be fighting for wins and the world championship this year.
Abiteboul said a key positives of having Ricciardo on board is that it would quicken Renault’s march to achieving success in F1. He told Autosport “We are not limited by finance, we are not limited by budget. What is limiting us is time. You can only spend based on the size of your organisation.”
“It is like a start up. When you don’t have the revenue yet, you have a cash-burn rate, and an F1 organisation is exactly the same. You are limited by your ability to spend, which is a factor depending on the size of your company, the number of people releasing some drawings, sending that to production and so on.”
He believes that Ricciardo should help the team to reduce the time it takes to close the gap to the front because more people have become interested in the team.
Asked if he felt Ricciardo’s arrival had changed Renault’s target of waiting until 2020 to fight for wins, Abiteboul said: “It will increase the chances to stick to the road map. I don’t see us suddenly in a position to fight for wins or the championship. That is not what we have told him, and he has been clear about that too.”
He says that everyone in the sport knows that it will take time for the gap to close, and that Ricciardo has only increased the chances of wins in 2020.
Ferrari fires up 2019 car
Ferrari’s team principal Mattia Binotto has overseen the team’s first fire up of its 2019 car, the 670. The car is essentially a bare chassis at present, with its bodywork and aerodynamic elements still in development and/or build ahead of its February 15 launch.
The team are planning a shakedown test at the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya the week before pre-season testing begins on Monday 18th February.
Reacting to the news, Charles Leclerc tweeted “Car fired up today. Can’t wait to be back in the car in 2 weeks !”
With two customer teams to supply, Haas and Sauber, it was important that Ferrari was able to prove its power unit, transmission and rear suspension were all assembled and functioning as planned.
McLaren fires up too
McLaren has also completed its first fire up of its 2019 car the MCL33, the team released a video of its car being fired up on social media. The British team will launch the MCL34 at there Woking base on Wednesday 14th February.
This season McLaren are looking to recover from four disappointing seasons. The short video which was tweeted by McLaren shows staff gathered in the F1 bays watching the fire up as engineers check through the data to ensure everything is working as planned.
With Carlos Sainz also overseeing proceedings, the staff applauds when the fire-up is completed.
Mick Schumacher visits Ferrari museum
Mick Schumacher has paid a visit to a museum dedicated to his father Michael’s career. The nineteen-year-old posted photos of his visit on Instagram.
His father’s former team and his current team where he is a junior driver, Ferrari unveiled the special exhibition at their headquarters in Maranello on 3 January to mark former Ferrari driver Schumacher’s 50th birthday.
A statement said “Michael has a special place in the history of Ferrari. The museum is decorated with images from the unforgettable years that the seven-time world champion gave to all at Ferrari.”
The German suffered serious head injuries in a skiing accident in 2013 and has not been seen in public since. He is being treated at his home in Switzerland, but little is known about his recovery.
His family have said he is “in the very best of hands”.
Mick followed in his father’s footsteps by winning the Formula 3 championship last year and has been selected for the Ferrari driver academy.
The Week Ahead
Monday marks two weeks until the beginning of pre-season testing in Barcelona, so naturally, we will be looking for the remain launch dates. The news agendas will be dominated by the teams setting their positions ahead of testing, as ever we will need to cut through the spin.
There are a few moves in the driver market I feel, these focus on reserve and young drivers. Teams will also be looking at the driver lineups for the tests, we expect Mercedes will split the days again as they have done in recent years.
We will also be watching social media for little hints of the new cars and livery. Two teams we know are being rebranded, Force India becomes a new name and Sauber becomes Alfa Romeo so these are the ones we are watching because they are ‘new’ teams.
The big names like Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen, are still yet to give interviews this year. Vettel and Verstappen they will face more difficult questions. Vettel and Ferrari will try to put the mistakes from last year behind them.
The monthly strategy group meeting is around about now, this will be mainly focused on the ironing out of the 2021 regulations. We need to see how the teams unite and respond to Liberty’s plans. We are also beginning to hear more from drivers, and that will increase going towards testing.
We will be continuing to watch the Carlos Ghosn scandal, it seems that every week we get another twist in the story. We also will be looking for 2018 results, these will tell us a bit about how the teams are doing financially.