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F1 Today – 17/05/2019

Hamilton looking for answers about unlocking the W10

Lewis Hamilton says that he is still looking for answers as to why he is unable to get the best from the Mercedes in qualifying. The five-time champion is happy with his race form, where he believes he is doing a good job with tyre management.

However, Hamilton admits that he is frustrated by his efforts over one lap, and has only taken one pole this season, with his teammate Valtteri Bottas taking the last three. He stressed that the two Mercedes cars employ essentially the same set-up, and thus his issues are not down to specific personal choices.

Hamilton told Motorsport.com, “So that’s how I drive the car, I drive the tyres slightly differently in the race, and often I’m able to eke them out a little bit more, longer. That currently is still a benefit and advantage.”

“The car is obviously great, but I’ve generally struggled with the car since Australia, had similar kinds of problems since Australia. My qualifying in Australia was just OK. I was only a tenth ahead.”

He says that there are areas that he needs to focus on and has spent this week trying to understand why he hasn’t been there in qualifying. Hamilton has spoken to different departments as he tries to create a picture with data to where he is going wrong.

Hamilton stressed that despite his struggles, he is more than happy with the W10 overall. He added, “Ultimately it’s a fantastic car. It’s just the working window that I’m in with my driving style, it’s not always doing what I want it to do. It’s the best car we’ve made up until now.”

Hamilton agreed that Bottas remains his main rival, and the Finn is keeping him on his toes. Saying “The closest car to you is the one that is always the biggest threat. At the moment it’s still too early, but naturally, the closest person is Valtteri.”

“So I have to keep delivering, especially as he keeps pulling out really quick laps through the weekend, he’s performing better than ever.”

 

Form hurt by driving style says Gasly

Pierre Gasly says that his form so far this season has not been helped by his aggressive driving style and not suiting the 2019 tyres. The Frenchman has had a difficult start to the season, but in recent races has looked more comfortable with the car.

He believes that one of the factors holding him back is how aggressive he is with the throttle and behind the wheel. Speaking about his feeling from behind the wheel, he told Motorsport.com “I’m not too far [off],” he said about how far he is from feeling totally happy in the Red Bull cockpit.

“I think that we’ve found something I am pretty happy with, but still there are a few things I’d like to change, so it’s difficult to know exactly how far. But what I can feel is that there’s more to come.”

“At least with what we’ve found there is more consistency, more predictability and I think it’s a better baseline to work from every weekend.”

“We’re pretty happy with the baseline we have but I think to really find the last few tenths there are a few things we need to change and also on my side to really suit the car as it is at the moment.”

Gasly says that the performance at some tracks was good, but admits that he has been too aggressive which hasn’t suited the car. The progressive work is he believes is paying off.

One of the areas where the car has struggled is finding consistent balance in the corners, particularly through the mid-corner and ext. The issues with balance has affected the Frenchman a bit more, especially when it comes to getting back on the power.

He explained, “I think it’s clearly something that happened at the beginning of the year, something we tried to improve to get a more consistent balance and less shift through the corner.” The teams knows it is one area they must improve.

Although Gasly has been outpaced by Max Verstappen this year, Red Bull boss Christian Horner has faith that the Frenchman will improve. Horner explained, “Pierre continues to get stronger,”. “His race [in Spain] was compromised in the second half because he picked up some debris in the front wing but he drove a strong race.”

 

Racing Point announces ‘new car’ for Germany

Racing Point has announced that the major upgrade for the German Grand Prix will be an “almost a new” car according to the team’s technical director Andrew Green.

The team is looking to change its aerodynamic philosophy which follows a change in the wind tunnel from the Toyota one in Cologne to the Mercedes on in Brackley. A change not motivated by Brexit, but to increase efficiency and cost savings.

The Northamptonshire based team has upped its development this year with more finance and resources following a buyout by Lawrence Stroll last August. This has allowed it to fast track new pieces to the car, whereas previously it was often hindered by financial restrictions.

The team brought a major front aero and suspension package was introduced in Barcelona, although the team struggled to optimise it.

The next major update is scheduled for before the summer break, provisionally for the German GP in late July. team principal Otmar Szafnauer told Motorsport.com, “This is a big one and the aerodynamic philosophy changes as well, so it’s a big thing. We have to try and get it in asap, hopefully before Hungary.”

Szafnauer denied that such a mid-season change of philosophy involved taking a risk, “It’s not a risk, no. I think other people are already doing what we’re trying to do. A lot of things will change – it’s a big mass flow rate of air change.”

He says that the direction of the car is right and the team will continue to improve the car. Green says the changes are specifically to address the issues that have hampered the team at venues like Barcelona.

“It’s a difficult circuit for us with respect to the balance of the car that we’ve had recently, and I’m talking over the last few years, it’s something we haven’t been able to address fully for a while.”

“But we have some new parts coming, almost a new car coming, before the summer shutdown. Hopefully, we’ll address some of the issues that we tend to have at this type of circuit.” Green adds.

He admits that the team is still playing catch up, but says he believes they won’t fully catch up until next years car.

 

Zandvoort to revise final corner to increase overtaking

Organisers of the Dutch Grand Prix are hoping that a revised final corner will create increased overtaking opportunities when the race returns to the calendar next May.

The changes are being made to the Arie Luyendyk right-hander, which leads onto the pit straight and the run down to the heavy braking zone at the famous Tarzan first corner, are among a series of revisions that have been planned for the track. The big change to the Hugeholtz hairpin, behind the pit lane despite being unchanged since it opened in 1948.

Many drivers who have raced at Zandvoort in the past have indicated that passing will not be easy. However, Dutch GP sporting director Jan Lammer is convinced that the changes will make for better racing. He likens the new run on to the pit straight to that at Interlagos.

Lammer, who has raced at Zandvoort since his teens, told Motorsport.com “The Gelachbocht, the open right-hand corner, Turn 3 effectively, will get a bigger run-off area. Turn 4, the Hugenholtz hairpin up the hill, will have a wider inside, to make the corner more fluid so it won’t be a stop-start corner.”

“The same thing will happen with the S-chicane, or the Hans Ernst Bocht. That will also become more fluid by putting more tarmac on the inside. Then the Arie Luyendyk Bocht will be accommodated exactly to his liking, as it will be a little bit more like Indianapolis because it will be banked.”

Lammer says that it’s going to be banked in a way to encourage more overtaking for the Tarzan corner. With the aim of increasing overtaking and creating more pit stops. He also says that the grid and finish line will move forwards a bit, so the main grandstand you can see the whole field.”

 

Interlagos hopes of retaining race boosted

Interlagos has had a major boost in its attempts to remain on the calendar, despite the claims by Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro that the race will move to a new purpose-built circuit in Rio from next year.

At a Sao Paulo city council meeting, councillor supported the Interlagos circuit not being privately sold, as the city attempts to secure its F1 future and defeat a push to transfer the race to Rio. This dismissed president Bolsonaro’s claims that the race will move to a new purpose-built circuit in Rio from next year.

However, this was met with scepticism given the suggestion the new track would be built this year, and the fact Sao Paulo has a contract with F1 that finishes after the 2020 race.

Interlagos has hosted the Brazilian Grand Prix continuously since 1990, and in recent years has been upgraded, with negotiation with F1 bosses to extend the deal ongoing.

There has been a suggestion that the circuit could be sold off, and used for the original purpose of building housing in the overcrowded neighbourhood.

The key thing is Sao Paulo’s city council approved the circuit’s concession rather than committing to privatisation at a vote this week. This still needs to be approved by mayor Bruno Covas, but it is a boost for the city’s chances of keeping the Grand Prix at Interlagos in 2020 and beyond.

Meanwhile, the council is preparing to meet with president Bolsonaro and the minister for tourism, Marcelo Alvaro.

Covas told local media “There is no doubt that Sao Paulo can continue to host the grand prix. We have security, organisation and we carry out works annually for maintenance in the pits and paddocks.”

In addition to this, Globo reported that Covas called for equal treatment from the president towards Rio and Sao Paulo over bidding for F1. He said that it was his understanding was the president had been told the Brazilian GP would drop off the calendar if it did not move to Rio.

Meanwhile, the council’s opposition leader Antonio Donato has called for an explanation on why it changed its mind on privatisation, and the council believes that avoiding privatisation eliminates doubt and speculation over the future of the surrounding area.

 

The Week Ahead

Next weekend Formula One heads to Monaco, this is one of the highlights of the season as it presents the most challenges for drivers. But its also a big week for the business of teams and drivers, so you need to keep an eye out for who is there.

The stories going into the weekend and Thursday’s practice will be Ferrari, however at every race since Melbourne, we have been asking ‘is this the race where they come back?’ pressure will be on them as this is historically a very difficult circuit for Mercedes.

Red Bull also have opportunities for good points, this is a downforce circuit needing grip and stability rather than speed. The other big story will be Charles Leclerc, can he deliver under the weight of being a Ferrari driver at his home Grand Prix.

Ferrari comes into this weekend needing to deliver if they are going to be in the title hunt, Leclerc needs to have the backing now I feel if they are going to challenge for the title. Ferrari won’t do that yet anyway. They need to step up, and watch what they say in the media.

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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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