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F1 Today – 11/04/2018

Red Bull chances of Honda switch boosted

Honda is boosting their chances of being a viable option should Toro Rosso’s sister team Red Bull chose to switch to the Japanese manufacturer for 2019, following there promising start to the season.

Pierre Gasly started fifth and finished fourth in Bahrain Grand Prix, which was a surprise for many and that result was aided both by a double retirement for Red Bull and Lewis Hamilton starting out from ninth on the grid.

Renault has made it clear to Red Bull that they want to know sooner rather than later about Red Bulls plans when it comes to engine supply because of the May/June deadline given by the FIA for manufacturers to confirm which teams it will be supplying.

Honda’s current form has inevitably boosted speculation the Red Bull could be set for a switch next year. Speaking to Motorsport.com, Ricciardo said “I mean, it’s helping their chances of looking attractive to Red Bull. At least at the moment it has got nothing to do with me. And I do mean that, because I’m not contracted to the team for next year.”

“But those engine discussions, you know, don’t involve us drivers. I’m aware that there could be some changes next year. And it’s cool for Honda.” The motorsports advisor to Red Bull Helmut Marko has made it clear that the chances of the senior team switching to Honda have increased given their strong start to the season.

Marko added, “Before we made the decision to work with Honda we believed it could be a successful package, once they showed us what they were planning to do.”

“When the time is right, we’ll make our decision. There’s a bigger picture which we have to look at”

 

Cannot lose more ground to Vettel

Lewis Hamilton says he cannot afford to lose any more points to Sebastian Vettel at this weekend Chinese Grand Prix.

This weekend is the third round of the season and despite eighteen races after China, Hamilton claimed his mind was “already on the world championship” after watching Vettel clinch back-to-back wins.

Vettel’s back to back wins is the first time a Ferrari driver has started the season with two wins from two races since 2004, allowing him to build a seventeen point lead over Hamilton. Hamilton is the most successful driver in Shanghai, winning five times, and says he must find a way to halt Vettel’s impressive charge.

Hamilton told the media “It’s always been a good track for me. So I really hope that I’m able to climb the ladder and get back to where we’ve been working towards being in the last two races.”

“There are good things to come, but I am 17 points behind and I can’t afford to lose any more points to Sebastian.” One thing which cost Mercedes victory in Bahrain was poor communication, Hamilton aims he would have known how much to push and how much to save tyres if he was kept informed of Vettel’s progress.

“It is very marginal now and so really magnifies the importance of communication and these small little things that can make a difference of seven points or not,” explained Hamilton.

He says that the team cannot afford to lose races to Ferrari and needs to understand how they can win. Hamilton was lost the victory in Melbourne after a miss calculation on time needed under the Virtual Safety Car.

And the Englishman insists the issue must improve in China, adding: “It’s probably so hard to understand what it’s like out there because you’re sweating, there’s so much heat, it’s so intense, you’re fighting for your life.”

 

FIA launches an investigation into the rise of unsafe Releases

The FIA has begun an investigation into the rise of unsafe releases following pit stops in the opening two races of the season, with race director Charlie Whiting saying the incidents are “looking less and less like a coincidence”.

Ferrari mechanic Francesco Cigarini suffered a double leg fracture in Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix after Kimi Raikkonen was given the green light to leave his pit box before his left rear tyre had been replaced. The Italian team had suffered two unsafe releases during the weekend and were fined €50,000 for each unsafe release.

The problems followed a double retirement by both Haas’s because of loose wheels after wheel nuts cross-threaded in Melbourne, while a wheel came off Fernando Alonso’s McLaren during winter testing.

Speaking to F1.com, Whiting said “It’s looking less and less like a coincidence but the two incidences in Melbourne were quite clearly wheelgun operator error.”

“They cross threaded the nuts and thought it was tight, came off and then realised a little too late it wasn’t. [With the incident in Bahrain], the guy hadn’t even taken the wheel off, which is slightly perplexing.”

Whiting said there was also an incident during testing and there have been discussions at the  Technical Working Group to try and learn from the incidents.

He suggested “When the wheel started to tip a little bit, it put abnormal loads into the things that were holding the nose in and once the nose came out, there was no retention

 

Ericsson hides my performances – Leclerc

Charles Leclerc says that his first two races in Formula One have been made more difficult by the performances of his Sauber teammate Marcus Ericsson.

The Formula Two champion and Ferrari academy driver is in his first season in F1 while Ericsson his in his fourth with Sauber. Ericsson scored the teams first points in Bahrain with a strong drive from seventeenth to ninth.

Speaking to Motorsport.com, Leclerc says Ericsson has a bad reputation but believes that he doesn’t deserve it. Saying “ In Melbourne and in Bahrain, he’s very fast, and it’s difficult for me. But I can learn a lot from him. This is good, and I hope it stays like that.”

Ericsson’s results have been muted thanks to back-of-the-grid machinery, although he did score points in five races when Sauber was more competitive in 2015.

The Swede is one of the heavier and taller drivers on the grid and over the winter brought in an  expert help to work out how to lose weight without compromising strength.

He shed 5kg in body weight and, with Sauber’s car also no longer 5-8kg overweight, Ericsson says he is at the target level for the first time. Ericsson said “It’s been a tough winter for me but I’ve been working my ass off.”

“My F1 career I’ve had a weight disadvantage to my teammate. It’s difficult to go up against, you try to say it to people but they don’t really take it into account.” He added that Leclerc is the strongest teammate he has ever had.

Ericsson avoided the unwanted record of most races without a point, saying “You can feel a weight lifting from your shoulders because even though you know the car has not been there to score points, it’s what we’re here for.”

 

John Miles dies aged seventy-four

The former Lotus driver who competed in the 1970 season John Miles died on Sunday at the age of seventy-four. He used his skills as an engineer and driver to make a Lotus Elan quick enough to score nine consecutive wins and claim a British GT championship in 1966.

The reserved, bespectacled Englishman may have looked like a studious accountant rather than a racing driver. However, his progress on the track was good enough to attract the attention of Colin Chapman, earning him a seat in F2 and F3.

The engineer wasn’t always impressed with Chapman’s ideas but fought on as the third driver in 1969. It wasn’t as if the Englishman was doing it for the money, Miles receiving the princely sum of £300 per race.

He started five Grands Prix with the 63 and finished just one; 10th and last in the 1969 British Grand Prix, several laps behind after as many pit stops. Chapman then focused on the Lotus 72, which has gone down as one the greatest cars in the sports history.

After the difficult season in 1972 when he clashed with Chapman at Monza, but with the death of Jochen Rindt he and the team withdrew from the race.

After retiring from racing, John became an engine builder, wrote road test reports for Autocar and worked in various roles within automotive engineering.

In 1985 he also founded Miles Music, a jazz recording company that won the BT Jazz CD of the Year Award with ‘Tamburello’, a CD by Pete King inspired by the death of Ayrton Senna.

 

Tost expect consistent points

Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost is expecting that his team to be consistently in the points after Pierre Gasly’s strong weekend at the Bahrain Grand Prix. The Frenchman delivered one of the stand out performances, qualifying sixth as best of the rest on Saturday and finishing fourth in Sunday’s race.

Many believed that when the Italian team announced they were switching to Honda engines the team would struggle, however, Toro Rosso believes that they can repeat that success this season. Honda appears to have made a step forward giving Toro Rosso confident of repeating its Bahrain heroics later in the season.

Tost told ESPN “Not a fourth place but I always said within the first ten [races] I expect and later on, this is all about the second half of the season.”

“I expect both cars permanently within the first ten that means we qualify in Q3 and in the race because if our development plan from the power unit side and the chassis side goes in the correct direction then we must be there.”

Tost admitted they were lucky with the problems at Mercedes and Red Bull, and the team had good race pace and Gasly didn’t make any mistakes.

0Brendon Hartley’s race was disrupted by two incidents with Force India’s Sergio Perez. However, Tost is adamant Hartley has shown the pace and competitiveness during his short time in F1 and believes points were possible in Bahrain without the incidents with Perez.

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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