Wednesday, January 23, 2019

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F1 News

Schumi not getting hopes up for Britain

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Michael Schumacher has admitted that he has no idea whether Mercedes will be in better shape at Silverstone next weekend as the team still does not fully understand why its car cannot make this year's tyres perform in qualifying.

The seven-time world champion has had two disastrous races in the midfield in the last

Read more: Schumi not getting hopes up for Britain


Lewis Hamilton hits back at Fernando Alonso jibe

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Lewis Hamilton has accused Fernando Alonso of sour grapes as their bitter rivalry resurfaced following Sunday's contentious European Grand Prix.

Alonso said the race was "manipulated," and accused Hamilton of disrespect for overtaking the safety car in Valencia.

Specifically asked if Alonso's reaction was a case of sour grapes, the McLaren driver replied: "Yeah."

And Hamilton added: "I saw him overtaken by a Sauber. He must have been completely in another world."

Referring to Kamui Kobayashi's overtaking manoeuvre on Alonso on the penultimate lap, Hamilton added: "It's very unlike him to be overtaken by a Sauber."

For his infringement, Hamilton was handed a drive-through penalty but retained second place behind Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel.

Alonso had been just behind Hamilton in third when the safety car emerged from the pits but while Vettel and Hamilton scurried clear of the safety car, Alonso was at the head of the pack of the cars queuing behind it.

The Spaniard finished ninth, only to be promoted one place to eighth after an investigation into several drivers for driving too fast when the safety car was out.

The stewards took 15 laps and nearly half an hour to hand down Hamilton's punishment, with the Englishman driving on for several more laps before coming in for the penalty.

The timing of the penalty meant that he could build up enough of a cushion to complete the drive-through without losing a place.

Alonso said after the race that "they gave the penalty but a bit too late - 20 laps to investigate one piece of overtaking".

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali, president Luca di Montezemolo and vice-president Piero Ferrari have all voiced their displeasure about the actions of Hamilton and the stewards in Spain last weekend.

President Luca di Montezemolo, claiming what took place was "unacceptable" and that it has created "dangerous precedents," has even suggested the FIA should look into the matter and take further action.
There is history here: bad blood, and simmering resentment. The circumstances of Sunday just happened to conspire to bring it all to the surface again and elements within Ferrari poured fuel onto the fire.

Mark Hughes on Hamilton-Alonso rivalry

It is highly unlikely they will do so, nor are they likely to punish Alonso for comments that could be construed as calling into question the integrity of race director Charlie Whiting and his stewards.

Hamilton said: "I don't understand why I affected his race so much. Everyone has a right to their opinion, and he must be disappointed with his own result, but I didn't do anything to him."

Defending the stewards, who have penalised Hamilton for a number of infractions in the past, the 25-year-old added: "The FIA are doing an incredible job because they are allowing us to race this year."

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said: "If you look at the incident itself it was very, very difficult to avoid what happened. It was minuscule."

Despite the grievances of Alonso and the Ferrari hierarchy, they appear to have little support from other teams in F1.

Red Bull Racing's Christian Horner said: "I think the safety car rules have not played out for Ferrari, and McLaren was perhaps a bit naughty with the way it worked it, but it got a penalty for that.

"Arguably it didn't cost them, but that's just the way it worked out. I don't think it was manipulated. The FIA just need to look at the safety car rules in the future."

Lotus Racing's chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne added: "I think it is just one of those things.

"Charlie is trying to do the job as he sees it, calls it as he sees it, and he has as difficult a job as anyone."

Hamilton's fierce rivalry with Spaniard Alonso goes back to the 2007 season when the pair had a tumultuous season as team-mates at McLaren.BBC-F1

Alonso apologises for FIA criticism

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Fernando Alonso has apologised for over-reacting to the safety car controversy at last weekend's European Grand Prix - and said he never intended to fuel suspicions that the FIA had 'manipulated' the race.

The Spaniard was furious after the race in Valencia - suggesting that the FIA had favoured Lewis Hamilton by taking too long to hand him a punishment for overtaking the safety car early in the event.

Those delays meant Hamilton was able to take a drive-through penalty without losing position.

Two days on, Alonso has said he is much calmer about the situation - and clarified that his remarks were fuelled by frustration that he had lost positions by respecting the rules, while Hamilton had effectively benefited from breaking the regulations.

"Obviously, in the clear light of day, I am much calmer than I was in the moments immediately following the race," said Alonso in his diary column on the official Ferrari website.

"At the time, I reacted emotionally and in that situation, it is all too easy to adopt a tone and say things that can be interpreted wrongly, giving rise to suspicions, something which I had no intention of doing.

“Sure, I understand that the stewards have a difficult job to do and they have to take decisions that are not easy. What I meant was that those drivers who, like us, respected the regulations, unfortunately, in this situation, suffered much more than those who broke them, even though they were given a penalty.

“And I am not referring to any of the drivers in particular: it’s a general matter and I think we should talk about it together in a calm way, to ensure that things like this do not happen again."

There had been speculation that the FIA could punish Alonso and his Ferrari team for some of their outspoken remarks after Spain, but the governing body gave no indication it intended to react. Alonso's apologetic comments will, however, help serve to draw a line under the matter.

The FIA is aware, however, that the events of Sunday have highlighted several potential problems with the current safety car regulations, and has called an extraordinary meeting of thinktank, the Sporting Working Group, to go through the issues next week ahead of the British Grand Prix.

Alonso welcomed that move and hoped that any matters up in the air after Valencia can be cleared up so there is no repeat controversy in the future.

“I was pleased to hear that the FIA has reacted promptly, calling an extraordinary meeting of the Sporting Working Group and I am confident, certain even, that all the points up for discussion will be cleared up in a comprehensive fashion.”

Despite losing valuable points in Valencia through the bad timing of the safety car, Alonso remains upbeat about his title prospects.

“Even if the Valencia result was not what we wanted, it has not done irreparable damage,” he said. “It’s true that the gap to the leader has now jumped to 29 points, but we have not even reached the halfway point of the season. We trail by just over one win, so the situation is still very open.

“The updates we brought to Spain saw us make a step forward and get closer to the front runners. I am satisfied with that, but also aware that we must continue to push on with the development of the F10, because we need to have a car capable of fighting for pole and to give us the edge over our rivals as soon as possible.

“If we are now 29 points off the championship leader, it means that in the next ten races, we have to score at least 30 more than whoever is in the lead at any one time.”AUTOSPORT-FI


Webber 'lucky to be in one piece'

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Mark Webber admitted he was "lucky" to escape unhurt from a horrific 200mph accident in the European Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver somersaulted and landed upside down after running into the back of Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus.

Webber said: "I'm happy. I was just having a shower and thinking, 'Mate, you're lucky to be in one piece.'

"It was a nasty incident. I was surprised by what happened. I'm a little bit tender here and there but the car did a great job."

Webber was fighting his way back up the field after two early blows to his hopes.

A poor start from second on the grid meant he ended the first lap in ninth place and then he dropped to the back after making an early pit stop to change tyres in the hope of making up lost ground.

He came up behind Kovalainen, whose Lotus team are one of three new outfits this season, all of which are at least four seconds off the pace of the top teams such as Red Bull.

Webber said he had been caught unawares by Kovalainen's driving in the much slower Lotus as they approached Turn 12 on lap nine.

"Initially I thought Heikki was letting me go," said Webber. "Then I thought he was closing the door and started to make little movements.

"I thought, 'What is he doing?' And then he braked 80m before I did on the previous lap - it's a different category (the new teams are in).
"Picking up the tow, he goes across to the left, then across to the right, then left, then a little jink and we're still along way from the braking point.

"He was blocking pretty aggressively. The thing that caught me out was how early he braked.

"I still had everything under control. Heikki may have been braking for his corner, but for me it was a massive surprise."

Webber said he felt Kovalainen's defence of his position was pointless against a car that was so much faster.

"It takes two to tango," added Webber. "I've driven slow cars and when someone comes at that closing speed, how long is that going to last for? Another 15 seconds. So it's not worth it."

Kovalainen said: "I'm very happy that Mark is fine as well. It was an unfortunate incident that should not happen but it did.

"I think Mark was surprised how early I had to brake for that corner.

"He was behind me but I was defending and racing - he was not sure which way to go and at that moment I hit the brakes and he had no chance to react."

The issue led BBC pundit David Coulthard to point out the potential dangers of the decision to introduce adjustable rear wings next season in an attempt to improve overtaking.

The idea is to allow drivers trying to overtake a rival to be able to adjust their rear wing to make their car faster on the straight to make passing the car in front easier.

Kovalainen said he did not think the speed differential between cars was a significant risk.
"I don't think it's an issue," said the Finn. "We should be good enough to deal with that.

"We need to see the telemetry and everything to see if we can learn from the incident.

"It can happen - it was a big accident and luckily he didn't get hurt. The speed difference between my car and the top cars has not been so great that I've felt I couldn't handle the situation."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: "I think Mark is blameless for that (accident). (But) I don't blame Heikki for that either - he's a pro and racing in a car that's a great deal slower.

"Lessons need to be learnt and observed from that." BBC-F1

Sebastian Vettel beats Lewis Hamilton in European GP

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Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel beat McLaren's Lewis Hamilton to win the European Grand Prix in Valencia.

World championship leader Hamilton bounced back from a drive-through penalty, but German Vettel proved equal to the challenge.

McLaren's Jenson Button was third after escaping with a five-second penalty for an offence under the safety car.

The safety car was used after a massive crash for Mark Webber's Red Bull from which the Australian emerged unhurt.

Webber had made an early pit-stop to get himself out of traffic, after he had found himself running down in ninth place after losing places on the first lap following a poor start.

Webber was trying to pass the Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen when he hit the back of the Finn's car. The Red Bull reared into the air, before crashing onto the circuit upside-down.

It flipped the right way up before Webber sledded at high speed into the tyre wall. Amazingly, he emerged unscathed.

There had already been an incident on the opening lap, as Hamilton tried to pass pole-winner Vettel for the lead at Turn Two.

The Red Bull's wheel clipped the left-front wing of the McLaren, and as a result Hamilton was suffering from a vibration during the opening stages of the race.

But the safety car, which appeared on track while marshals mopped up the debris from the Webber/Kovalainen accident, effectively allowed Hamilton to have a new nose fitted to his McLaren without losing a position.

Vettel managed to pass the pit-lane exit before the safety car emerged onto the circuit.

The safety car then exited the pits just as Hamilton was passing. Had the Englishman continued at racing speed he would have beaten it to the white 'safety-car line', but he backed off, then illegally accelerated past the safety car a matter of feet after the line.

Hamilton then sprinted clear of the rest of the pack before following Vettel into the pits, as the timing of the safety car scuppered the prospects of Ferrari.

Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were third and fourth respectively before Webber's accident. They had just passed the pit entry when the race went under caution, and were first in the queue behind the safety car before they pitted one lap later.

Button, who was in sixth position at the time of Webber's accident, was able to dive into the pits immediately the race went under caution.

That vaulted the reigning world champion to fourth, behind Vettel, Hamilton and the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi, who had elected not to pit while the race was under caution.

With Button unable to challenge Kobayashi for position, Vettel and Hamilton scorched away from the pack.

Hamilton then served his drive-through penalty at the end of the 27th of 57 laps, and such was his advantage over Kobayashi that we able to rejoin without losing a place.

As well as his first-lap brush with Hamilton, Vettel survived another scare when he locked up under braking at the final turn, just as the safety car returned to the pits.

The German was particularly happy to take his second win of the season on a circuit that was not expected to suit the Red Bull.

"We didn't expect to be that strong," said Vettel, "so it was great to be quick enough to slightly pull away, find the gap and then bring the car home.

"I had a huge lock-up of my brakes after the safety car, trying to brake as late as I could. The tyres weren't up to temperature after going round slowly, but I could stay in front.

"I tried not to push too hard and when I got the message that Lewis had the penalty I backed off a bit more.

"It's good to get a lot of points, it's good for the championship and the guys can be extremely proud - they had very little sleep but it paid off, and now we have to focus on the next one (the British Grand Prix in two weeks' time)."

Hamilton said: "At certain stages it looked like he was slowing down, so I tried to close the gap, but he was able to react to that.

"Therefore I just tried to bring the car home in one piece - there's nothing worse than getting almost the whole way through the race and then for something to happen at the end."

Kobayashi pitted with just six laps remaining, freeing up Button, who immediately set what would be the fastest lap of the race.

Button was one of nine drivers who were penalised after the race, by the addition of five seconds to their race time, for breaching the rules when the safety car was called out.

Each was found to have completed the third sector of the track and entered the pits below the minimum time allowed under safety-car regulations.

It made no difference to the final result for the four highest-placed offenders: Button, Williams's Barrichello (who took fourth, his team's best result of the season), Renault's Robert Kubica (fifth) and Force India's Adrian Sutil (sixth).

But it provided further misery for Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi.

After his late stop, Kobayashi rejoined in ninth and, on fresh tyres, was able to pass both Alonso and Buemi (who left the door open at the final corner of the race) to take seventh.

Buemi's five-second penalty then meant he lost a further place to Alonso, who was able to gain a crucial two extra points as he was elevated to eighth.

Sauber driver Pedro de la Rosa was another to lose out. He had finished 10th on the road, but his penalty knocked him down to 12th.

It meant that Mercedes' Nico Rosberg was promoted into the points after a miserable race for the team, who suffered from severe brake problems on the cars of both Rosberg and Michael Schumacher.

Others to lose places due to penalties were Renault's Vitaly Petrov, who dropped from 11th to 14th, and Force India's Vitantonio Liuzzi (13th to 16th). The last of the nine, Nico Hulkenberg, retired his Williams a few laps from the finish. BBC-F1

Kubica: It's not just Merc we must beat

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Robert Kubica insists Renault's goal for the Championship is not to beat Mercedes GP, it's to "beat everybody".

With McLaren, Red Bull and Ferrari ahead of the chasing pack, Renault'sclosest rivals in this year's title fight are Mercedes GP, who currently hold a 29-point advantage over Kubica's outfit.

Read more: Kubica: It's not just Merc we must beat


Michael Schumacher backed by Mercedes team chief

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Mercedes have defended Michael Schumacher and insist the 41-year-old will improve after his drive to 11th place in Canada was criticised.

Schumacher tangled with Ferrari's Felipe Massa and Robert Kubica's Renault but was absolved by stewards.

"From inside the team we see

Read more: Michael Schumacher backed by Mercedes team chief


Alonso gets first Fiorano F1 run

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Fernando Alonso drove a Formula 1 car at Ferrari's legendary test track Fiorano for the first time on Friday.

Prior to the testing ban, Ferrari's race and test drivers racked up countless miles around the private venue at the team's factory, but its use has been severely restricted since testing was limited at the start of last year.

Read more: Alonso gets first Fiorano F1 run


Red Bull to use F-Duct in Valencia

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 Red Bull is bidding to return to dominance on the streets of Valencia next weekend by using an F-duct system.

With Red Bull earlier looking set to walk the 2010 title, McLaren crept onto the pace in Turkey and then leapt to the top of the championships with one-two victory in Canada last weekend.

Read more: Red Bull to use F-Duct in Valencia


Button: McLaren move totally justified

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Jenson Button says his position in this year's championship shows his decision to move to McLaren is completely justified now.

The Briton clinched last year's title with the Brawn GP team - now Mercedes GP - but decided to leave the Brackley-based squad to drive alongside Lewis Hamilton at McLaren.

Read more: Button: McLaren move totally justified


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