Revalue McLaren’s aims – Alonso
Fernando Alonso says that McLaren’s results in the opening two races have been “very good” and it was time the team re-evaluated their expectations.
McLaren has switched from Honda to Renault for this season, the change of suppliers started huge expectations that the team would be fighting for victories and podiums.
Alonso himself added to that expectation after he said McLaren had the strongest chassis on the grid throughout the 2017 season and only failed due to Honda’s lack of power. Double points in the first two races of the season is a huge improvement from this time last year.
Alonso told ESPN, “I don’t know exactly what people were expecting from one season to another when the regulations stay the same and there are three teams ahead of everyone.”
“Last year after three races [we scored] zero points. Bahrain last year, Stoffel didn’t make the start. On the grid he was pulling the car into the pitlane. This year, two races, four cars to the chequered flag. This is a very good start.”
However, Alonso still believes that the team has plenty of work to do to close the gap to the front.
He says that the team are still well behind Red Bull, who also run the same power unit. Adding “No doubt we need to improve, we need to bring updates, we need to find speed. At the same time, when we don’t have that pace, when we don’t have that speed in qualifying, we are still scoring points, which gives us confidence for the future.”
Hamilton and Verstappen draw line under Bahrain
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have agreed to draw a line under there clash at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Both drivers have blamed each other for the collision, with Hamilton later telling reporters that Verstappen’s attempted to overtake “lacked respect.”
Ahead of this weekends Chinese Grand Prix, the four-time champion sort out Verstappen in front of the media to bring the spat to an end. Hamilton confirmed he and Verstappen had shaken hands at a fan-signing event at the circuit, with the Dutchman acknowledging the gesture.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Hamilton said “It’s always good to show respect and being that I’m the older driver, I felt it was important that I went to him. I shook his hand and I was like ‘look, I’m sorry about the last race’. Regardless of whether it is his fault or my fault, it doesn’t really matter. It’s in the past.
“Hopefully that sign of respect shows a lot and helps you move forwards racing each other. Hopefully it keeps respect between you because I think it’s important between drivers.”
Asked what Verstappen said in response, Hamilton replied: “I don’t really know because there was a lot of noise around us, but he acknowledged it.”
The row between the two began after the clashed on the second lap of the race, which both drivers blamed each other for the incident. Hamilton also said the Dutchman made moves which he was too in experienced.
Verstappen added “I might have a talk with [Lewis], it depends if it’s really necessary. Why should I change something? I don’t think I did anything wrong in terms of my approach. I was just trying to overtake a car and I think it was a fair chance. I went for it.”
Hamilton expects another close fight in China
Lewis Hamilton is predicting another closely fought battle between Ferrari and his Mercedes team at this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix. The four time champion has also warned that Ferrari’s straight line speed will be difficult to beat.
Mercedes have underperformed in the opening two races of the season, which has allowed Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel to take back to back wins in the opening two Grand Prix’s. Mercedes have won the last four races in Shanghai and Hamilton has r but Hamilton is wary of the extra horsepower the Prancing Horse has found this year.
Hamilton told Sky Sports “They are going to be hard to beat. Their straight-line speed in the last few races has been faster than ours and we have the longest straights here. So I’m anticipating they will be very, very fast and hard to beat.
“They are faster than us on the straights and as quick as us through the corners. Their engine programme has really taken a big step this season. It will be interesting to see how their reliability will be – as it will be for Renault and us.”
Ferrari beat Mercedes despite the German team having a clear advantage over Ferrari on pace in Melbourne. However, Ferrari had the edge in Bahrain.
“I still believe we are the best team. We definitely have the potential to win races and to fight for this championship. But what’s important is that we all stay on our toes.”
Mercedes have spoken about the ‘A game’ at all the races, with Hamilton has cited improved communication between pitwall and car to ensure they are maximising race strategy.
Mercedes dominance of the sport has seen them win the last four drivers and constructors, but Hamilton has only once held an outright points lead in the world championship standings after a season’s first two rounds.
Ricciardo would have tried to pass Vettel
Daniel Ricciardo says he would have “at least tried” to pass Sebastian Vettel to try and win the Bahrain Grand Prix if he was in Valtteri Bottas’s position.
The Mercedes drivers chances of passing Vettel in the closing stages were increased as his tyres were well past there best, but Bottas didn’t mount an attack on the final lap, despite him being within DRS range.
Ricciardo, who said he watched the closing stages from his hotel, says that he would have “at least tried” to pass Vettel into the first corner. Asked by Motorsport.com if there was anything he would have done differently he said “Well, I would have tried to win, definitely. I was watching and like ‘Make a move! Go, go, go, go!’ Obviously, the fans want to see it as well, but he didn’t.”
“Maybe in Valtteri’s head he thought ‘I’ll get him in Turn 4’ but for me the first opportunity you have to take. If you locked up and went wide, you’re still finishing second. I don’t want to tell him all my tips, but I wouldn’t be content.”
“If it’s for a win, you just can’t [settle]. It’s not in me, at least.” When asked about the comments that he wasn’t aggressive enough, Bottas response was that he was unaffected.
Saying “I have reviewed everything, and if I could live the situation again, I wouldn’t do anything different. I’m fine with that and people can always say what they want.”
Ricciardo says that at the start of his career he was too cautious but joining Red Bull was the kick he needed to be more forceful in battle.
He earned his maiden grand prix win by catching and passing Sergio Perez and Nico Rosberg in Canada in 2014, and has since built a reputation as one of F1’s most aggressive overtakers.
Honda form amazing – Grosjean
Romain Grosjean says that the surprise form by Toro Rosso and Honda is “amazing” for Formula One, as it proves that new engine manufacturers can come in and be successful.
After a difficult opening race of the season, Pierre Gasly was best of the rest in Bahrain which was Honda’s best result since returning to the sport in 2015 with his fourth place.
Grosjean said the recent success stories of his Haas team and Honda’s new partnership with Toro Rosso shows what’s possible if you keep working hard and don’t give up.
He told Autosport, “I wasn’t happy they were in front of us, but I’m happy that Honda, with a good collaboration with Toro Rosso, managed to get such a good result. Qualifying everyone was like, ‘oh in the race they’re gonna fall down’, but actually no, they finished fourth.”
“For Formula 1, in general, it is amazing. It shows a constructor, like the Haas project, can be successful after three years. It’s great for Formula 1. It shows you can do it.”
Former Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz agreed, saying the team deserved the result for working so hard to adapt its car to the Honda engine.
“I saw the mechanics, I went down to shake hands with them and congratulate them. It’s good for them, they deserve it – they’ve pushed hard over the winter to get that engine back into the car, redesign the car. It’s a good story for Formula One”
Grosjean believes that the current unpredictability in the midfield made the sport “super exciting”.
The Weekend Ahead
This weekend Mercedes are needing to break this Ferrari win cycle, as they know momentum is currently with Ferrari. This Shanghai race should, in theory, be more favourable to Mercedes, as the power of the power unit should be an advantage for all of the teams they supply.
Lewis Hamilton has recently been dominate in Shanghai and has taken four wins in his career. The circuit seems to suit his driving style, hard and late-breaking is important in China. You need to have good car set up.
The weather at this time of year can be variable, it can be warm at times, but on the whole, the races have been overcast and cool. This makes set up difficult for the teams and in the race, drivers have been known to get it wrong. The same goes for qualifying, depending on conditions being on track at the right time is key.
Formula One Vault will bring you full coverage and reports throughout this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix. With analysis and reaction in Notebook and reports of sessions in reports on our website! Read the Prixview here