Ferrari sign Wehrlein & Hartley
Ferrari has announced that former Mercedes test driver Pascal Wehrlein and former Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley will be two of its test drivers for 2019.
The New Zealander joins Wehrlein who was announced by the team at the end of last year. Although Hartley wasn’t successful in Formula One, he has won two drivers championships in the World Endurance Championship as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Formula Two driver Antonio Fuoco steps up from the junior programme after being replaced by Mick Schumacher, to join the teams Driver Academy.
Davide Rigon is what the team describe as a simulator veteran. The Italian has been driving the simulator since 2014 in addition to his work as an official driver in GT competitions and has been racing for AF Corse Ferrari in the FIA WEC.
Team principal, Mattia Binotto said, “Our team has taken on four undoubtedly talented drivers, who possess innate feeling, with a strong understanding of race cars and tracks.”
“These are exactly the qualities required in the skilful role of driving in a simulator, one of the vital pieces of equipment in the Formula 1 of today.”
Ferrari “obligation” to win is a “problem” – Massa
Felipe Massa believes that the pressure and “obligation” that Ferrari has to win has become a “problem” for his former team. The Brazilian who spent eight seasons with the team, says that the did a good job to produce cars that were able to challenge Mercedes over the past two years.
Massa says that he believes that things have become “difficult” at Ferrari because of the culture that has developed since Jean Todt moved on from his role as team boss after the 2007 season.
Mattia Binotto has replaced Maurizio Arrivabene as Ferrari team principal for the 2019 season, the fourth team boss change in eleven years since Todt left the role. Massa told Motorsport.com, “A lot of things happen in a difficult way inside Ferrari in terms of pressure.”
“They feel this a lot. The inside of the team was always like this. There was a time that they felt less because they had more results, in the time of Jean Todt.”
“Jean was a guy who had great leadership in every area of the team. He could put an area working together with the other ones without any pressure. After this, things happened in a very different way.” But now he says that the pressure and obligation to win has become a problem.
Massa has backed Binotto to handle the pressure better that Arrivabene did. Binotto has led the technical team very well building two competitive cars, however, this will be his first experience of management.
Massa said: “Binotto is a calm guy. He is a guy that has the capacity to work in a calmer way and maybe absorb less of this pressure that you have in Ferrari than Arrivabene. But it is a new moment for him. He was never a team principal before.”
He says that it is an important change, both on the technical and management side which can be good. Massa says that the team made “lots of mistakes” last year.
Hulkenberg not resting on laurels
Renault’s executive director Marcin Budkowski believes Nico Hulkenberg was not “resting on any laurels” last season and sees new teammate Daniel Ricciardo as “an opportunity to prove himself.”
The German holds the record for most Grand Prix’s without a podium but has beaten both his Renault teammates Jolyon Palmer and Carlos Sainz to become the teams lead driver. The highly-rated German will have a race winner in the same team for the first time in 2019 following Ricciardo’s move from Red Bull.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Budkowski said “I don’t think Nico was resting on any laurels. Carlos was a good push for him last year and we were very happy with the interaction of the two drivers.”
“For Nico now having Daniel coming with his reputation as a very quick driver, as a very quick racer and overtaker, and proven himself as a race winner, he sees it as an opportunity to prove himself.”
Marcin says that the German wasn’t unhappy about a driver of Ricciardo coming, he was happy because it’s an opportunity to prove himself.
In a video the team published recently a fan question asked, what his reaction was when he knew Ricciardo would be his teammate, Hulkenberg joked: “I was devastated. I was on the floor. I was crying. It really hit me hard.”.
Laughing, Hulkenberg added: “No, I was actually OK with it. It was good news.” The intra-team battle between Hulkenberg and Ricciardo will likely be one of the most entertaining subplots of the 2019 season.
Budkowski said: “We’re going to have an interesting interaction there between two drivers who have never been competing against each other in the same team, who are both highly rated.”
Ferrari plans to increase its budget
Ferrari is planning to increase its Formula One budget in 2019 in an attempt to end its decade long championship drought, in a move that is expected to see the team focus on reliance rather than race wins.
The Italian manufacturer has not won a constructors championship since 2008, with Kimi Raikkonen winning the last drivers title the year before. In a bid to regain the constructors it has replaced team principal Maurizio Arrivabene ahead of the 2019 season and named former chief technical officer Mattia Binotto.
It has been reported that chairman and CEO Louis Camilleri told investors last week, “While our Formula 1 performance last year was the best one since we won the constructors’ championship in 2008, we fell short of our ambition to raise the winners’ cup.”
“Our objective going forward remains the same as it has always been, to win. In 2019 we project an increase in spending which partially reflects this ambition, but also includes the development expenditures required to address the new tactical regulations that will form part of the envisaged Concorde agreement that should come into force in 2021.”
It is unclear what Camilleri was referencing with 2021 development work, as the regulation changes have not been finalised. However, a broad concept of the engine rules, evolving the current specification of turbocharged hybrids, has been publicly outlined.
The alliance between Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull about the future regulations appears to be holding up. Although under Camilleri’s leadership the team has softened their threats to quit.
Red Bull announce reveal date
Red Bull has announced they will launch there 2019 car next Wednesday. The Anglo-Austrian team has not given more details other than saying it would be “revealing our 2019 challenger”.
Last year the team tested the car before official pre-season testing, with the team using one of its two permitted promotional events to shake the car down at Silverstone. It released images of the new car on the same day before rolling it out in its official colours a week later at Barcelona for testing.
The option to use the filming day would give the team a chance to observe its new engine partner Honda on track itself, having spent last year using its junior team Toro Rosso to monitor the Japanese manufacturer.
Use of filming days are restricted in mileage and tyres, but. Have been used by both Ferrari and Mercedes to iron out small engine design or installation gremlins that could limit mileage in the crucial first four-day test at Barcelona.
There had been reports at the start of the year that Honda had ran into trouble, but it is now understood that this was overblown. Red Bull has insisted it has given Honda freedom to design its 2019 without placing aggressive packaging targets.
Haas to revel livery on Thursday
Haas has confirmed it will launch there 2019 livery this Thursday, but haven’t announced that the car will be launched this week. The American team is expected to have a black-and-gold colour of title sponsor Rich Energy after signing a deal with the energy drink company late last year.
The livery change comes after the team were forced to defend its deal with Rich Energy after the drinks manufacturer failed to by what is now the Racing Point team.
Haas had its best year in F1 yet in 2018 with its driver line-up of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, finishing fifth in the constructors’ championship after its first two seasons yielded eighth.