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Reporters – 03/02/2019

Sebastian Vettel’s 2018 will be remembered for his mistakes which cost him his fifth world title. But his mistakes also cost him the dream of a world title with Ferrari, Nico Rosberg says that the pressure is on Ferrari. So what does he believe they need to do to challenge Mercedes?

“Pressure is on” Vettel – Rosberg

Nico Rosberg believes the “pressure is on” Sebastian Vettel as he fights to equal Lewis Hamilton by winning his fifth world title. The German enters his fifth season with Ferrari this year and is still looking for the “dream” of winning a title with Ferrari.

In the last two years, the German’s title hopes have ultimately unravelled, with the Mercedes ambassador believing that the four times champion is facing increasing scrutiny to deliver. Rosberg told Sky Sports, that “the pressure is on, absolutely.”

He added “He was feeling it, I’m sure, already last year and especially driving for Ferrari that’s where the pressure is the highest because you’ve got the whole country on you. He’s feeling it, that’s clear. He just needs to put it together next year.”

Ferrari, have turned to technical boss Mattia Binotto to lead them back to the front after appointing him as team principal in a bid to win their first championship in more than a decade. The team has also replaced its last champion Kimi Raikkonen with Charles Leclerc, following his impressive debut season.

Rosberg says that both Vettel and Ferrari needs to improve overall because there were just too many mistakes they should have possibly won the title last year.

“They’ve made some major changes. They’ve changed Arrivabene and put in Binotto, so they’ve made a change in the highest position there.”

“Also with Sebastian’s new team-mate, Leclerc, that could also be a very, very positive dynamic, but it could also be negative and backfire! So it’s going to be awesome to watch.”

Rosberg is hoping that this season it will be at least a three-way fight for the title.

 

Promotors normally stay out of F1 politics, but this week the Promoters Association waded into the debate about the future of the sport. But not all agree, so what are the concerns of the mainly European and North American promoters about rules and regulations?  

Race Promotors express concerns about direction

Formula One’s Promoters Association have demanded a more open approach from Liberty Media after expressing concerns about the future of the sport.

The association which represents sixteen of the twenty-one promotors say they want “a more collaborative approach from F1” in the future. Their main concerns are about the loss of free-to-air television, a lack of clarity over rules and F1’s attempts to attract new races.

The race organisers will express those concerns to F1 bosses in London on Tuesday. The move comes as five of the key races, Britain, Italy, Spain, Germany and Mexico, begin to renegotiate their contracts which expire at the end of 2019.

All say they want to continue holding races after this year, however, agree that they cannot do so under the current financial arrangements. Their current deals were agreed under the management of chairman emeritus Bernie Ecclestone over the last decade.

Chairman of the FPA and managing director of Silverstone Stuart Pringle, told the Daily Mail, “Everyone is disgruntled. Liberty’s ideas are disjointed. We have all been compliant and quiet hitherto, but we have great concerns about the future health of the sport under the people who run it now

Liberty is looking at widespread changes to the sport, however, like many of the teams and drivers, the promoters say its hard to plan long term contracts without knowing the direction of the sport.

The circuits are also concerned that the migration of TV coverage away from mass-market outlets towards either pay television or direct to consumer through F1’s own outlets will inevitably restrict the sport’s appeal.

In many European and Americas countries only the home Grand Prix and highlights air on free to air tv. This year, the British Grand Prix will be live on free-to-air, on Channel 4, which also has highlights of the other 20 races.

F1’s overall TV audience has grown in the two years since Liberty took over, for the first time in a decade. The total audience in 2017 was 1.755bn and 1.758bn in 2018.

 

Brendon Hartley left F1 at the end of 2018, but this week he revealed that the rumours about his departure in Monaco were true. He says that the rumours were shocking, but why?

Hartley reveals plans to replace him started in Monaco

Former Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley says that there were plans to replace him as early as last years Monaco Grand Prix. The New Zealander replaced Daniil Kvyat from the 2017 United States Grand Prix, seven years after being cut from Red Bull’s young driver programme at the age of 20.

The remarkable comeback was extended to a full season in 2018, with Hartley racing alongside Pierre Gasly, who has now been promoted to Red Bull for 2019. However, Hartley was dropped in favour of F2 runner up Alex Albon, who will race alongside Kvyat.

He told The Players’ Tribune, “What I will remember most about it [the Monaco Grand Prix weekend] is walking down to the paddock to meet with the media on the Wednesday before the weekend started, and receiving a bunch of questions about my future.”

“Here I am, a handful of races into my F1 career, and I’m being asked about the end. The worst part of that day, though, was finding out there was some truth to the rumours. After a few races, there were some people, it appeared, who didn’t want me there. I’ll be honest, this was a bit of a shock.”

He says that because of his experience, winning two World Endurance championships and a win at Le Mans 24 Hours, it was hard to believe that there was talk of him being replaced so early in the season.

After a series of engine issues and some bad luck, Hartley went into the final race of 2018 with just four points. He said he arrived in Abu Dhabi not knowing what his future would hold.

He says “Like the fans, I had no idea what was going to happen. That’s the thing about the politics in F1, it can be a little bit … awkward. Everyone sort of walks on eggshells, and there isn’t always clarity.”

 

Lewis Hamilton has broken every record for a British driver, while he is regarded as the greatest driver of the his generation some say he has set unrealistic targets. But why does Sir Jackie Stewart believe that there wrong?

Hamilton doesn’t set an unrealistic benchmark

Three times world champion Sir Jackie Stewart believes that the success of five times champion Lewis Hamilton doesn’t give British rookies an unrealistic benchmark because there is an element of luck involved.

The Englishman made his debut in F1 in 2007 and won his maiden world title the following year, his move to Mercedes in 2013 has seen him add four further world titles to his 2008 win. Hamilton has been dominant over the past five years, taking four championships and helping the team win five constructors titles.

This year, three new British drivers Williams’s George Russell, McLaren’s Lando Norris and Thai born Toro Rosso driver Alexander Albon all make their debuts after locking out the top three in F2 last season.

Asked about Hamilton setting an impossible benchmark for those three drivers, and the urge for newcomers to replicate the success of others, Stewart told Motorsport.com that “you shouldn’t be boxing yourself in.”

The Scotsman added “Lewis currently is not only driving well, he has also got the best team in the world with the best engine in the world right now. But he’s driving it well too. You’ve got so many other dimensions to it when you’re a Formula 1 driver, and the dependency of the car.”

He says that Hamilton has been extremely lucky that McLaren picked him up when he did because at that time the team had the best car in the world.

Lando Norris will be a McLaren rookie this year, however, the team hasn’t won a race since November 2012, George Russell joins Williams who have slid to the bottom end since the 2017 regulation changes and haven’t won since May 2012.

Norris will be paired with Carlos Sainz, Russell with Robert Kubica who hasn’t raced in F1 since Abu Dhabi 2010 and Albon with Daniil Kvyat. Stewart added “When I went in, I was going in at the time of Jim Clark and Jack Brabham and Graham Hill, Bruce McLaren. They were all top-line drivers.”

“I think you learn from the top drivers, you watch them, you listen to them, you try and get communication with them. You want to get comfortable with everybody. Human relationships are very important.”

  

Daniel Ricciardo shocked the sport by his decision to move to Renault from Red Bull for 2019. But why do Renault believe that the Australian can “fast track” them to the front of Formula One?

Ricciardo will “fast track” Renault to top

Renault’s F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul believes that Daniel Ricciardo’s move to the team this season will help in “fast-tracking” the teams’ bid to challenge at the front of the sport.

The French manufacturer pulled off the move of the summer when it managed to convince him to leave Red Bull and join the team. Renault finished fourth in the constructors year, but as they go into 2019 the team are still not expecting to be fighting for wins and the world championship this year.

Abiteboul said a key positives of having Ricciardo on board is that it would quicken Renault’s march to achieving success in F1. He told Autosport “We are not limited by finance, we are not limited by budget. What is limiting us is time. You can only spend based on the size of your organisation.”

“It is like a start up. When you don’t have the revenue yet, you have a cash-burn rate, and an F1 organisation is exactly the same. You are limited by your ability to spend, which is a factor depending on the size of your company, the number of people releasing some drawings, sending that to production and so on.”

He believes that Ricciardo should help the team to reduce the time it takes to close the gap to the front because more people have become interested in the team.

Asked if he felt Ricciardo’s arrival had changed Renault’s target of waiting until 2020 to fight for wins, Abiteboul said: “It will increase the chances to stick to the road map. I don’t see us suddenly in a position to fight for wins or the championship. That is not what we have told him, and he has been clear about that too.”

He says that everyone in the sport knows that it will take time for the gap to close, and that Ricciardo has only increased the chances of wins in 2020.

 

That’s all from Reporters for this week, goodbye

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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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