Ricciardo will not be fooled by Hulkenberg
Daniel Ricciardo says that he will not be fooled by Nico Hulkenberg going nine years since his debut in F1 without scoring a podium, believing that his new teammate is “not that level of driver.”
Hulkenberg is highly regarded as one of the best drivers on the grid and has won the 24 hours of Le Mans, but in his 156 Grand Prix career, he is yet to finish on the podium. The German also holds the record jointly with Sergio Perez for most entries without a win.
Ricciardo has left Red Bull, where he scored seven wins and 29 podiums during a five-year spell at the team, to partner Hulkenberg at the Renault works team. He says he will need the happy memories of his time and success at Red Bull to ease the transition at his new team and beat Hulkenberg.
Ricciardo told Motorsport.com, “I’ll certainly take a lot of the highs with me and take them with me as confidence moving to Renault, and I’ll need that as well because of Nico.”
“I think that everyone who knows F1 knows his calibre. From the outside, you can think that he’s done 200 races or whatever and never had a podium, but we all know he isn’t that level of driver.”
The Australians final season with Red Bull was marked with him enduring the majority of the team’s reliability issues, as well as being comprehensively defeated by teammate Max Verstappen in the championship.
However, his 2018 highlights include a long-awaited win in Monaco despite an MGU-K failure, and Ricciardo says memories like that are very powerful.
He said “I’ll still hold onto Monaco forever because the aftermath of all that was the biggest high I’ve ever had. Walking back into the Energy Station that day after doing all the press – just seeing everyone…It was full, and I got a standing ovation, and I was so proud that everyone was so happy for me.”
Lauda discharged from hospital
Mercedes non-executive director and three times champion Niki Lauda has been discharged from hospital following treatment for influenza. The Austrian was admitted to hospital after falling ill during a family holiday in Ibiza over the Christmas period.
In August, Lauda was admitted to hospital and underwent a triple lung transplant due to injuries and lung problems caused in a crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix. In the accident at the Nurburgring, he suffered burns to his face, hands and lungs but returned to action six weeks later.
When asked about a report by APA newswire, a hospital spokeswoman confirmed Lauda had left the hospital on Wednesday.
The former champion has developed a career as an entrepreneur and was appointed by the German car manufacturer as chairman in 2012.
Ferrari rejects reports of further management changes
Ferrari’s president John Elkann has denied a report that the Italian manufacturer is facing further management upheaval and that the team could turn to former boss Stefano Domenicali for help.
The recent promotion of technical director Mattia Binotto to team principal as the replacement for Maurizio Arrivabene fuelled talk that it could be the start of a period of major change at Maranello. There were also reports that Ferrari’s CEO Louis Camilleri could be moved to another position within the Fait-Chrysler group and replaced by former team principal and current Lamborghini CEO Domenicali.
in an open letter to fans that was published in Gazzetta dello Sport on Tuesday, Elkann has clarified that there are no plans for further restructuring at Ferrari – and is clear that the Binotto appointment was not a panic response prompted by conflict within the outfit.
These reports started on Monday after comments he made at the Detroit Motor Show, clarifying those comments Elkann wrote “I read with surprise words and opinions attributed to me about Ferrari, but that have never been said and do not reflect my thoughts.”
“I feel obliged to clarify some points, for the benefit of readers and in respect of the truth. The appointment of Mattia Binotto to team principal of Scuderia Ferrari does not represent ‘a turnaround’ in management and does not arise from alleged disagreements within the team.”
“On the contrary, it was a choice decided by the company in agreement with Maurizio Arrivabene, who has worked tirelessly in the four years of work in that position to turn the Scuderia back to the levels of competitiveness it deserves.
Elkann says that Binotto has already begun laying the foundations ahead of this season, saying that it’s a foundation precisely on what has been done in recent years.
Sources have also made it clear that Domenicali has no interest in returning to Ferrari and is fully committed to Lamborghini, Elkann has also reiterated his commitment to Camilleri.
Finland to study Grand Prix possibilities
A study is being undertaken to see whether F1 can return to Finland in the near future, with the Kymi Ring as a possible venue.
The Finnish Grand Prix was only run twice in the 1930s and is the only pre-war European race which hasn’t featured on the F1 calendar, and along with New Zealand and Macau is the only national Grand Prix which hasn’t featured in F1.
AKK Motorsport, Finnish motorsport’s national governing body, has now launched an official study into the possibility of a home grand prix. This includes evaluating whether the Kymi Ring, which is due to host MotoGP for the first time in 2020, could be an F1 circuit in the future as well.
A statement from the Finnish government confirmed that the Finnish motorsport governing body the AKK, has applied for funding “create a realistic road map towards the possible application for hosting a Finnish F1 Grand Prix”.
AKK CEO Tatu Lehmuskallio said: “Finland has an excellent and unique legacy in motorsports. Not only have Finnish Formula 1 and WRC rally drivers collected more world championship points in recent seasons than drivers from any other country.”
“We also have internationally-recognised expertise on hosting modern, reliable, sustainable and – most of all – thrilling motorsport events for fans, partners and athletes.”
The 2.79-mile circuit is located under a hundred miles north of the capital Helsinki. The circuit is set to be awarded ‘grade 1’ by the FIA. Creating a Finnish F1 race would end an absence of more than 40 years of grand prix racing in that part of the world.
The Nordic and Scandinavian region of Europe is the only sub-regions of Europe without a Grand Prix.
Red Bull confirm Buemi as reserve driver
Red Bull has announced that former Formula E champion Sebastien Buemi will continue as the teams’ reserve driver for the ninth year. Since 2014, the Swiss driver has been racing in FE as well as the World Endurance Championship.
Buemi has not competed in Formula One since he left the Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso team in 2011. He was also Red Bull reserve in 2008.
In a statement, the team said, “Sebastien continues to be a highly valued member of the Red Bull Racing team and he’ll once again help drive the team forward in 2019.”
Perez believes a year out can “definitely hurt” Ocon
Sergio Perez believes that a year out for his former teammate Esteban Ocon this season can “definitely hurt him more than it can benefit him.” The Frenchman has been appointed as Mercedes reserve driver after a turbulent driver market left him without a seat.
He was expected and was due to sign for Renault before the team shocked the paddock by signing Daniel Ricciardo. Then lost his seat at Racing Point for 2019, being replaced by Lance Stroll after his father Lawrence lead the consortium which brought the team.
Ocon was ruled out of drives at McLaren and Toro Rosso because of his Mercedes link. Asked if a year off can hurt Ocon, Perez told Motorsport.com “Definitely. It definitely can hurt him more than it can benefit him. Formula 1 is evolving so much year by year. You never know what the future will hold.”
“He is in a great position with Mercedes. He definitely deserves a seat in Formula 1, he is one of the best drivers in this sport. But I think a year out of this can change so much.”
During their two seasons as teammates, Ocon and Perez were often clashing both on and off track because of incidents during races which cost them points. They were banned from racing each other following the 2017 Belgian Grand Prix, before costing Racing Point serious points in Singapore in 2018 because of another accident.
Perez, who has partnered the likes of 2009 world champion Jenson Button and Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg, said Ocon needs to be more mature. He said “I rate quite highly all my team-mates.”
“They are all different. But the one that I rate the most is Hulkenberg and I think Esteban is there, he is in that group. I think he is lacking some maturity still, but I think that will come with the time.”
Sauber announces a partnership with Sparco
Sauber has announced that the Italian motorsport manufacturer Sparco has become the team’s official partner. The company says it produces some of the most advanced motorsport equipment and accessories for various series in the racing industry.
Sparco will supply the Swiss teams drivers and pit crew with safety gear and equipment, also providing the safety belts which will be integrated into the team’s single-seaters starting from the 2019 Formula One season. The logo of the manufacturer will also appear on the sidepod floor.
Sauber’s CEO and team principal, Fred Vasseur said “We are pleased to announce our partnership with Sparco as a new Official Partner. Sparco has been setting standards in the design and production of equipment and accessories in motorsport for decades.”
“By supplying our drivers and pit crew with their products, together we will ensure that our team is provided with items that will meet the highest demands in terms of safety and comfort as we fight for ambitious results in the championship. We look forward to the collaboration.”
Sparco says that it is synonymous with guaranteed quality and safety, and has been designing innovative and revolutionary products since 1977. They say they combine cutting-edge technology and style with an ability to understand champions’ requirements and convert them into victories, offering racing drivers the utmost protection and high performance.
CEO Sparco Claudio Pastoris, added, “We are proud of this new partnership based on two assets of great importance for the company I represent – our experience in motorsports, more than 40 years serving the most competitive teams and drivers in Formula One.”
“Our long-term relationship with Alfa Romeo and the FCA Group, putting us in the front lines of production of OEM seats and accessories for the brand’s highest performing vehicles.”
Massa’s ten-year challenge recalls Budapest 2009
Felipe Massa has used the latest social media craze the ‘ten-year challenge’, to recall his near-fatal accident at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix.
During the second part of qualifying, the Brazilian was struck on the head after a spring fell off the Brawn of Rubens Barrichello knocking him unconscious in the crash with an injury initially considered to be life-threatening. He made a full recovery and returned to racing with Ferrari in 2010.
Massa recalled the incident in the latest social media craze, which includes posting a photo from ten years ago alongside one from today. The caption said: ‘2009-2019. Thank you God’.
The accident came weeks after the death of Henry Surtees, the son of former F1 and Moto GP champion John, who was struck by a tyre in F2 earlier in the month.
Massa and Surtees’s accident lead to the introduction of Halo protection device ahead of the 2018 season.
Massa has been a vocal supporter of the safety push and last year called the device “beautiful” after Fernando Alonso was involved in a terrifying crash which saw him bounce over the Halo above the head of Charles Leclerc’s Sauber.