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F1 Today – 04/06/2019

A shift in focus helps Mercedes – Wolff

Mercedes F1 CEO and team principal Toto Wolff says the change away from the philosophy in straight line speed has helped it maintain its position as the sports leading team.

The German manufacturer has had a huge power advantage since the beginning of the V6 turbo hybrid era, but over recent seasons the manufacturers have gradually converged. But despite five drivers and constructor’s back to back, Monaco has been a bit of a difficult circuit.

Mercedes have won the last eight races going back to November last year. Speaking to Autosport, Wolff said “You can see the development of this team. In the early days of the power unit regulations, we had a car which was a low-drag fast car on the straights and carried by the might of the engine.”

“Over the years I think chassis and power unit have merged in order to extract the optimum lap time. And half of that was that the engine is still impressive, but we were able to wrap a chassis around it that has more downforce, and more drag.”

Wolff says that the team are no longer the fastest in a straight line, but the compromise between the two main blocks of performance works well for us.

Asked what it means for the high-speed Circuit Gilles Villeneuve – which will host the Canadian GP this weekend, Wolff said, “I think every single one [circuit] is a great challenge. Monaco traditionally wasn’t historically our best track, and we knew from the slow-corner performance that we saw in Barcelona that we have a chance, but Monaco is different again.”

 

Ferrari not expecting “significant” improvements

Ferrari says that it’s not expecting to be able to make any “significant” improvements “for the time being.” The Italian manufacturer has gone from being the favourites in testing to failing to win a race this season.

The team’s aerodynamic upgrades to both Baku and Barcelona as well as a new power unit, but these updates failed to cut away at the advantage Mercedes had. As well as the upgrades to the aero package, the team has brought a new power unit.

But ahead of this weekends race in Montreal, team principal Mattia Binotto said there was nothing similar planned. He told Motorsport.com, “We know we’re not competitive enough right now and, for the time being, we haven’t got any more changes coming on the car that will have a significant effect on the problems we have encountered since the start of the season.”

Ferrari believes its main problem is that it struggles to get the tyres in their working range because its car does not generate enough peak downforce. It has begun a push at its Maranello factory to investigate new concepts that could help, but that work is still in its early stages.

While he believes that Montréal is maybe more suited to the Ferrari, there will not be a magic solution. Canada is being billed once again as a make or break race for Ferrari’s 2019 hopes, but Binotto believes the team still has time to turn its campaign around.

Ferrari may have a better chance of taking the fight to Mercedes in Montreal because the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve’s long straights are perfectly suited to the Italian team’s straight-line advantage.

Ferrari won the race last year, as it lacks the corners where Mercedes usually hold the advantage. Asked if he felt Canada offered cause for optimism, Binotto said: “I think it’s very difficult to judge. I think we will be in a better shape compared to Barcelona.”

“I think they [Mercedes] have still got the best car and the strongest car at the moment. I think they are still the ones that should be ahead but maybe the gap will be closer. If there’s any opportunity, we will be ready to take it.”

 

Vettel dismisses retirement

Sebastian Vettel has dismissed rumours in the German media stared by former driver Emanuele Pirro and F1’s Chairman Emeritus Bernie Ecclestone that he could walk away from the sport at the end of the season.

The former Benetton driver says that the four times champion is clearly “not having fun” this year or last, as he now grapples for number 1 status at Ferrari with Charles Leclerc.

Vettel’s friend Bernie Ecclestone also thinks retirement is an option for the four times world champion. Ecclestone said recently “He won’t change teams, he will end his career, and I think not much is needed for that to happen.

“Sebastian has a happy family life and does not want F1 to put him out of balance.” The thirty-one has dismissed the reports, telling Auto Bild, “I have no plans to stop. I still have a lot of fun in Formula 1 and something to do at Ferrari.”

He says his priority is to try and turn around the season, hoping that this weekends race in Montreal will be the turning point in the season.

 

Schumacher “not with us”

F1 chairman emeritus Bernie Ecclestone says seven times champion Michael Schumacher “is not with us at this moment.” The German driver suffered brain injuries in a skiing accident during Christmas 2013, official updates are rare.

But those like Ecclestone give rare insights into his condition. A film backed by a Schumacher’s family, due to be realised later this year, the Englishman said, “He is not with us at this moment. But when he is better he will answer all the questions.”

According to German media the statement, according to local media, Ecclestone’s statement provides both fears and hope about Schumacher’s condition.

One German daily wrote that “it makes it clear how much the consequences of the ski accident still affect Schumacher five years later” while Ecclestone’s second sentence also “gives hope for a successful recovery”.

Schumacher’s family has been reluctant to give updates on his medical condition.

The last official statement came in December 2014, “We need a long time. It’s going to be a long time and a hard fight. He is making progress appropriate to the severity of the situation”

What we do know is, Schumacher is currently being treated at his home in Switzerland on the shores of Lake Geneva.

His wife Corinna, is reported to have said “Michael is a fighter and will not give up.”

 

Williams mid-season test

Williams says their mid-season update will be a key test in finding out whether the concept for this years car is flawed or not. The British team has been struggling at the back after it was late with its car build and missed some testing.

It is hoping that a significant development push before the summer break will deliver a step forward, as well as highlighting whether the car is fundamentally flawed. Speaking to Motorsport.com, Senior race engineer Dave Robson said: “I think those upgrades when they come will be a big guide to where we really are.”

“I think we know that coming into this year we did change the philosophy of the car for good reason. Now we need to see whether we are just a little bit behind the curve and can catch up, or actually we’ve made a mistake and might have to go back.”

With the regulations remaining stable into 2020, there is little reason for teams to trying anything too radical for next year. But Robson says that if the upgrades show its car does not work then it may have to try something different.

He believes that Williams, “can still evolve our way out of that. I don’t think there is anything so heavily baked in that is going to influence next year’s car.”

 

Smedley accuses Williams of under-investing

Williams former head of engineering has accused his former team of not investing enough in the team. Rob Smedley left the team at the end of last year, after joining from Ferrari alongside Felipe Massa in 2013.

In a wide-ranging interview with Motorsport Magazine, he spoke about his career and life as an engineer in F1. He also opens up about Williams’ current predicament, life at Ferrari and more. He said that Williams “clearly needed a lot of work.”

“We instilled lots of new engineering practices, but the next part of the journey was R&D investment and that never happened. If you want to be a true constructor, you have to have that level of investment or you’ll be left behind, regardless of how good your people might be.”

“I don’t want to talk about particular individuals, but it’s clear some bad decisions have been taken for the team to be in its current position. It’s a real shame.”

Last season the British team finished bottom of the constructors, and has had a difficult start to the season. Despite that deputy team principal Claire Williams told F1.com last week, “there’s a certain positivity in the team at the moment.”

Williams currently sits last without a point in the constructors’ standings; Alfa Romeo has scored 13.

 

The boy who inspired Hamilton’s Barcelona win dies

The five-year-old terminally ill boy who was sent a Formula One car after he inspired Lewis Hamilton’s victory in the Spanish Grand Prix has died. Harry Shaw, from Redhill, Surrey, who had a rare form of terminal cancer, died on Saturday.

A post on his fundraising page for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity said Harry took “his last breath after a tough 10-month battle”. The youngster had recently moved back to his home for his final days.

More than £230,000 has been raised so far in Harry’s name.

Hamilton described Harry as his “spirit angel” as he dedicated his victory to him on 12 May. Mercedes arranged for a car to his home following the race.

In a statement, the family said, “On 1 June 2019, five-year-old Harry Shaw took his last breath after a tough 10-month battle against Ewing’s Sarcoma; a rare bone cancer.”

“Losing Harry means our happy family unit of 4 now becomes 3. We lose our firstborn child; our two-year-old daughter Georgia loses her brother who she will probably never remember, and the wider family lose their first grandchild and nephew.

“We would like to say Harry died in peace and comfort; to an extent he did, dying at home in his own bed surrounded by his toys and the people he loved.”

Hamilton added, “Harry, thank you for being such a positive light to us all. You’re so brave and the world will miss you dearly. Thank you, friend and inspiration.”

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Jack Fielding
Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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