Vettel too focused on race wins – Briatore
Former Benetton and Renault team principal Flavio Briatore believes that Sebastian Vettel’s biggest mistake has been focusing on race wins rather than the championship this season.
The Ferrari driver is now sixty-seven points behind his championship rival Lewis Hamilton, with Vettel’s hopes of a fifth title appearing unlikely. While Vettel mathematically remains in the fight, he would require major failures from Mercedes and wins in nearly all the races to be champion.
Vettel’s own mistakes have cost him points and allowed Mercedes to steal a march on Ferrari, but Briatore thinks the real mistake was not playing the long game. He suggests that incidents like in Germany and Italy – where Vettel determination to win ended up causing crashes – are proof of too much obsession ongoing for the victory each time.
In a podcast interview with former world champion Nico Rosberg, Briatore said “Vettel is not winning the championship, he’s winning races and it doesn’t work like that. If you lose out in three or four opportunities like that, it’s 25 points thrown away every time and it’s becoming very difficult after that mentally.”
“I believe the stress you have as a driver is enormous and if you’re in the position to handle the stress and do the job and not go out [retire from races], you’re winning. Because when you go out, it’s the worst possible scenario – we know that.”
Briatore says Vettel must learn from what he taught Fernando Alonso in 2005-06, in terms of mindset. He also says that Vettel has been trying too hard, and needs to master not going for wins but podiums and scoring points.
Arrivabene refuses to give up on the title
Ferrari’s team principal Maurizio Arrivabene says the team will not give up on this year’s title while it remains mathematically possible. Following the team’s mistakes at the Japanese Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel is now sixty-seven points behind with a hundred still to play for.
Arrivabene was in a defiant mood after the result at Suzuka. Arrivabene told Sky Sports, “It’s easy to be pragmatic. Saturday we had a problem that everyone knows about but as I said many times I was a bit disappointed but we win and we lose together.
“I have to say concerning the race, the teams and the drivers reacted very well. We have circumstances during the races that impede us to achieve the podium. I think at least the podium was in our hands and the car, even if it was damaged, both of the cars, it was going quite well.”
He says that the situation looks impossible, but the job was to challenge for the impossible.
Hamilton will win his fifth title if he wins the race and Valtteri Bottas is second.
A new formula for women
A new woman’s motorsport series has been launched in a bid to try and find female drivers which are capable of racing in Formula One. The W Series will start next year, and has been backed by David Coulthard and Red Bull design chief Adrian Newey.
The Scotsman and F1 commentator says he believes men and women could compete on equal terms in motorsport. Coulthard said: “If you want a fundamental change in the outcome, you need a fundamental change in the process. W is a fundamental change in creating an opportunity to bring through female talent to the highest possible level.”
The series which is free to enter with drivers selected on ability to compete in six races around Europe with a prize of just over a million pounds. The winner will receive $500,000 (£381,000) to help further her career, as well as support and advice from the experts employed by the series.
Coulthard said he “absolutely” believed women could succeed in F1.
President of the FIA Women’s Commission Michele Mouton added “One of the objectives of the commission is to help ensure females have equal opportunities to compete at the highest level of the sport.”
“We know from our recent driver-assessment programme that there is a pool of very talented women drivers who deserve the chance to do this.” Mouton says that the objective is to have more woman competing alongside men.
Catherine Bond Muir, the chief executive of W Series, said: “We aim to bring the sport up to date and show the world just what women are really capable of.
Raikkonen defends Verstappen over driving
Kimi Raikkonen says Max Verstappen isn’t the kind of driver who would deliberately drive a rival off track, despite their clash at the Japanese Grand Prix.
The Red Bull driver was awarded a five-second penalty after the stewards decided that he had re-joined in an unsafe manner after missing the chicane on the opening lap. As he came back on the circuit, he ran wide and forced Raikkonen off the circuit, damaging Finn’s car.
While Raikkonen’s teammate Sebastian Vettel was outspoken about Verstappen’s driving, the Finn appears more open-minded. He told Motorsport.com, “In the situation where I was with him, it is a bid hard to say because I know sometimes when you come back over the kerbs it is impossible to turn the car when you bounce over them.”
“I don’t know if that was the case. I think if we were both on the circuit next to each other, I don’t think he would squeeze because we all know what will happen from that. But it was obviously a bit of an odd situation where we ended up. I don’t think he purposefully tried to hit anybody, but this is what happened.”
Renault blaming others for the dip in form – Steiner
Haas’s team principal Gunther Steiner says that Renault will “try anything instead of focusing on themselves to get better”, as the two teams battle for fourth in the constructors continues to intensify.
The French manufacturer has been fourth all season, but since the summer has lost out to Haas in the development race and hasn’t been performing as well since the summer break. Haas would be fourth if Renault hadn’t protested over Haas running an illegal floor in Monza.
The results of the race remain ‘TBC’ after Haas appealed to the FIA Court about the exclusion from the race. Should Haas win the appeal, it would move ahead of Renault in the constructors.
Asked by Motorsport.com if Haas smells blood as Renault’s form has dropped, Steiner said: “I just see their performance has gone down, I don’t know what’s going on internally.
“For sure they dropped their performance, and their engine they make themselves so they can have nobody to blame. If they confuse themselves even more, it’s better for us – I’m not against it!” The appeal will be heard in the days after the Mexican Grand Prix.
Steiner accused Renault of being “desperate”, saying they are doing everything but focus on themselves to be better. Despite the appeal, he remains confident that Haas can still beat Renault on track, saying that they were not strong in Japan. Steiner has previously stated he wants his team to win fourth place on-track and not rely on its appeal being successful.
That case will be heard at the start of November after the United States and Mexican GPs are held back-to-back. “We all go back to the UK straight after Mexico and then we have got three days to prepare ourselves and go in there,” said Steiner.
“I fly back from Mexico straight to the UK with everybody else and we take it from there.”
Wehrlein turned down Formula E
Pascal Wehrlein missed out on a long-term driver with the Mercedes backed HWA Formula E team to focus on a return to accord boss Ulrich Fritz.
The former Manor and Sauber F1 driver completed a half-day run with HWA ahead of the team, which is a precursor to Mercedes joining FE as a works operation in 2019/20, making its debut in the electric championship in season five.
Fritz explained that HWA had “talked to him” and that Wehrlein also delivered “a good performance” during his FE run, “but at the time when we would have liked to have made the decision, Pascal’s focus was very clear: to return to F1. Which I can also understand and comprehend.”
It is believed that Mercedes wanted Wehrlein to take on a three-year commitment, but he did not want to enter into a long-term deal that would disrupt his chances of making it back to F1.
“I don’t want to set up a Formula E team where, after two races, a driver says that he’ll be going straight back because he wants to enter F1. The expectation of us was that Pascal would then decide in favour of FE in the longer term.” He added.
McLaren didn’t miss tyre deadline
The FIA has backed McLaren’s claims that they did not miss the deadline to nominate tyres for the Japanese Grand Prix. McLaren’s ultra-conservative choice of rubber left it on the back foot at Suzuka, with Fernando Alonso unable to run on the supersoft tyre prior to qualifying.
The tyre selection had prompted suggestions that it missed the fourteen-week deadline to nominate tyre allocation, meaning the FIA nominated the tyres for the team.
FIA race director Charlie Whiting said that the governing body had never been aware of any team missing its deadline and that the FIA would have warned any team at risk of missing the deadline.
Whiting told Motorsport.com “I was not made aware of anyone being late. It is a long time ago anyway. What we would normally do is that if they haven’t selected it the day before.”
“We would give them a quick call and say, ‘don’t forget you have to make your tyre choice’. But they are right on it.”
McLaren’s sporting director, who joined after the team made its selection for Japan, Gill de Ferran says that the decision was made because the team preferred harder compounds.
Adding “Particularly on this type of track with very high Gs and a lot of sequence of corners, it would be a more suitable choice. Quite frankly as it transpires we got it wrong. We’ve been spending the whole weekend trying to deal with a non-optimal choice we’ve made.”