‘Vettel’s objective is still to win the title with Ferrari’

The Drivers’ title looks to be out of his reach again this year, but Sebastian Vettel won’t give up on his dream of winning the Championship with Ferrari, according to team boss Mattia Binotto.

This year marks the German’s fifth consecutive season with the Italian giants, but he and Ferrari have come up short so far with his best campaigns in terms of position coming in 2017 and 2018 when he finished second.

With only nine races left in the 2019 season, Vettel finds himself 94 points adrift of leader Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes while there has also been talk that he is losing interest in the sport.

Binotto, though, says the 32-year-old’s goal remains the same: to win the title with the Scuderia.

“I think that his objective hasn’t changed – to become World Champion with Ferrari,” he told Motorsport.com.

“And he’s got that objective very clear. Obviously the start of the season in that respect is frustrating, because it means for his final goal he’s not in the best position to achieve it in 2019.

“But because he’s got such a strong objective, he knows exactly what he’s looking for. I think that is where he’s finding his own boost, and that is not compromising anything, so he’s clearly still pushing [very] much, because he knows where we need to go and he knows exactly what he’s looking for.”

Vettel has made some uncharacteristic errors this year, but Binotto feels it’s because he is trying to make up for Ferrari’s slow pace, adding the German’s feedback has been excellent during his poor spell.

“He’s very analytical, in his way of looking at the problems and the lack of pace, and I think that’s helping as well the team,” the Italian added.

“Because at the end it’s only a matter of looking at facts, understanding what is wrong, what needs to be improved. I think that in that respect he’s got the right approach.”

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.

The post ‘Vettel’s objective is still to win the title with Ferrari’ appeared first on PlanetF1.

‘Demanding’ Kimi ‘fully committed’ to Alfa Romeo

The Kimi Raikkonen-Alfa Romeo relationship is “working perfectly” and the “demanding” Finn will push the squad to the next level, according to team boss Frederic Vasseur.

After five seasons with Ferrari, Raikkonen was forced to look for a new team for the 2019 season after the Scuderia opted to promote Charles Leclerc. But he didn’t have to look too hard as the Hinwil-based squad came calling with a two-year deal.

And the F1 veteran has made a decent start to life at Alfa Romeo as he picked up 31 points during the first half of the season and his team boss is pleased with what he is bringing to the table.

“The advantage with Kimi is before he signed last year we had hours of discussions, about the team, the positive and negative points, where we could improve, where we have to improve,” Vasseur told Autosport.com.

“We were very open about what is the real situation of the company.

“And I think now he is not surprised when we have issues because we knew that before.

“He’s fully committed on the project. I don’t know how he was last year with Ferrari, I was not there, but for us it is working perfectly.”

Questions have been raised about Raikkonen’s commitment to F1 in the past, but the 39-year-old has not let his standards drop since returning to the team where he made his Formula 1 debut back in 2001.

“The most important for me was to make sure he was committed,” Vasseur added.

“Committed means he will be present at the factory, he will push the guys, he will be demanding.

“He is demanding, and I don’t want him to relax, that’s absolutely not the case.

“I want to have someone in the team pushing for results.

“It’s a good situation for the engineers also and it’s important.

“But he already understands that he’s not at Ferrari or Mercedes and everything can’t be fixed in two weeks.”

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.

The post ‘Demanding’ Kimi ‘fully committed’ to Alfa Romeo appeared first on PlanetF1.

Sainz: You need time to find secrets at a new team

Carlos Sainz has highlighted the complexity of changing teams, saying even the best drivers in the business “need a bit of time to find the secrets” after they have joined a new outfit.

The Spaniard is in his fifth full season in Formula 1, but while he spent his first three years at Toro Rosso, he has found himself chopping and changing the last two campaigns as he switched to McLaren for the 2019 season after only one year with Renault.

He was replaced at Renault by Daniel Ricciardo while the Australian’s move to the French manufacturer saw Pierre Gasly promoted to a Red Bull seat. Meanwhile, one of the other big off-season changes saw Charles Leclerc land a Ferrari.

Although Sainz has done a lot better than expected as he is seventh in the standings with 58 points, the 24-year-old told Autosport.com that it takes a while before you find your way at a new team.

“They are very different,” he said of the three teams he has driven for so far in his career.

“A lot more different than what people imagine. And the cars behave a lot more different than what people think.

“That’s why I think you’re seeing that every driver needs a few races to adapt to a team, to a car.

“We’ve seen it with Ricciardo this year, with Pierre, with every driver that has changed teams… Leclerc at the beginning of the year.

“You need a bit of time to find the secrets.

“And the teams work differently in every way, so it takes time and people underestimate how much performance you can extract from a package when you’ve been there more than one year.

“The performance that I was extracting from a Toro Rosso, that for me was not the midfield leader at any point, and sometimes being good with the Toro Rosso like I was in 2016, 2017, I only achieved it because of knowing my package and knowing how to exploit it.

“You see [Racing Point’s Sergio] Perez, you see [Max] Verstappen now with Red Bull, you see [Lewis] Hamilton with Mercedes.

“It’s a consequence of spending a bit of time with a team and knowing how to exploit that car to the limit.”

After McLaren’s recent struggles, Sainz’s quick adaption to life at his new team have helped the Woking-based squad to a comfortable fourth in the Constructors’ standings.

He picked up back-to-back fifth places in the final two races before the summer break, but is confident he can still take it up a notch.

“I still feel like I have a lot more room for improvement and the car has a lot of more room for improvement, myself setting the car up a bit more to my liking,” he said.

“We are still trying a lot of things every Friday just to see which direction I like and everything. But it’s a slow process.

“What I mean is a matter of years, you know? The more years you are in a team or in something, you always learn more about the car and learn more about the team, about the people, how to extract more from every individual.

“I guess it’s like any other work in the world.”

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.

The post Sainz: You need time to find secrets at a new team appeared first on PlanetF1.

Wolff opposed to scrapping Friday practices

While Toto Wolff is opening to reducing the length of Friday practices, the Mercedes motorsport boss has urged F1 not to drop it completely.

F1’s powers-that-be are currently looking at ways to spice of up grand prix weekends with changes set to come into effect in 2021.

One of the proposals on the table is doing away with Friday practices.

While some drivers such as Daniil Kvyat, and even team bosses like Christian Horner, believe F1 should scrap Friday’s running and only have a Saturday practice, Wolff feels this would be a wrong move for F1.

He told RaceFans.net: “We did that in the DTM many years ago and it felt like the weekend was not spectacular and special anymore.

“If it’s cut short in two days it takes some value out of a race weekend.

“Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motor racing and it’s the World Championship among engineers, drivers and the best teams and therefore that is a thing I wouldn’t change.

“I would leave it on Friday.

“What we can think about is cutting a session short on Friday or reducing the running time to 60-and-60 minutes rather than 90 minutes.

“These are things that are worth considering but I wouldn’t go for a radical cancellation of the Friday.”

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.

The post Wolff opposed to scrapping Friday practices appeared first on PlanetF1.

‘Gasly undone by crashes, Albon better than Kyvat’

Red Bull chose Alexander Albon to replace Pierre Gasly because Helmut Marko feels he is “better” than Daniil Kvyat while explaining that Gasly was undone by his testing crashes.

Last week Red Bull announced that Gasly, under-fire for a lack of results, would be heading back to Toro Rosso with immediate effect.

His place at Red Bull would go to rookie racer Albon for the final nine races, giving the team the opportunity to evaluate the driver before deciding on Max Verstappen’s 2020 team-mate.

Red Bull advisor Marko played a role in making the decision and recently explained it to Japanese publication, Autosport Web.

The Austrian reckons Red Bull did not see the best of Gasly this season as the Frenchman was unable to shrug off his pre-season crashes.

Gasly twice crashed the RB15 during the Barcelona tests, not only putting Red Bull on the back foot but he was also publicly blamed for the crashes by Marko.

“Not just once, but twice,” Marko told as-web.

“Yes, his crashes had a great effect on the team’s test programs. We were short on parts, and faced issues completing our tests.”

Asked if Gasly felt responsible, Marko said: “That’s definitely true. And even after the season began he was not able to erase it.”

He added: “Pierre until this year was fast, and there was no hesitation in overtaking during the race.

“However, the original speed has not come out at all this year.”

As for the team’s decision to put Albon in the car, Marko says he has been impressed by the Thai-British driver’s performances in his debut campaign.

“I am optimistic,” he said.

“To be honest it was unexpected that he showed such a good performance in his first year.

“Moreover, he has made steady progress from race to race.

“Alex’s contract only covers the remaining nine races of this year.

“No one has yet decided who will be Max’s team-mate next year so Alex should be able to grow and race without feeling any extra pressure.”

The decision to put Albon in the car instead of Daniil Kvyat came as a surprise to many especially as the latter is the one who stood on the podium at this year’s German GP.

Marko explained: “I think Albon is better.

“We know how fast Kvyat is, we can say that he has become a more complete driver. However, based on all factors, we chose Alex.”

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.

The post ‘Gasly undone by crashes, Albon better than Kyvat’ appeared first on PlanetF1.

‘Red Bull offered Gasly seat to Alonso at Silverstone’

Red Bull approached Fernando Alonso around the time of the British Grand Prix, offering him Pierre Gasly’s race-seat only to receiving a “resounding ‘no’”.

Alonso walked away from Formula 1 at the end of last year but continues to make headlines as reports link to him a possible return in 2020.

It, however, could have been earlier had he accepted a Red Bull race-seat midway through this season.

Although Red Bull were publicly proclaiming that the team would stick with Gasly through to the end of this campaign, behind the scenes they were already shopping around at July’s British Grand Prix.

According to Mundo Deportivo, the Milton Keynes squad offered Gasly’s seat to Alonso only for the double World Champion to decline the offer.

“And it is not Fernando who approached Red Bull,” claims the report, “but it was the team led by Christian Horner who was interested in the driver.”

The answer though, was a “resounding ‘no’.”

When Alonso left F1 last year, he made his feelings on today’s sport well-known, saying he is unimpressed and uninterested in the lack of competition.

This is not the first time that Alonso has been linked to Red Bull with tech guru Adrian Newey revealing they were “very close” to signing him back in 2007.

“It’s one of those things that unfortunately never happened,” he told Esquire Magazine. “But it was very close.”

There were also talks in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013 while last year Alonso stated that Red Bull also approached him in “Monaco and again in August” regarding a 2019 drive.

Red Bull denied the latter approaches while it remains to be seen whether this latest one will come with a rebuttal.

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.

The post ‘Red Bull offered Gasly seat to Alonso at Silverstone’ appeared first on PlanetF1.

Honda engine/penalty strategy is ‘very complicated’

Honda admit is is “very complicated” deciding when to introduce a new Spec 4 engine as it means penalties for both Red Bull and Toro Rosso.

Honda have already introduced two engine updates this season, the Spec 2 and Spec 3.

The latter has been in action since the French GP but already the Japanese manufacturer has another upgraded ready to go.

The question is when do the Red Bull and Toro Rosso drivers take it.

“We are discussing all the time with the teams and we will decide when we apply a new engine or updated spec,” Honda’s F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe told Motorsport.com.

“At the moment no decision has been made yet.

“It depends on the situation and timing and the result of the discussions with the teams.

“It’s very complicated.”

While Formula 1 returns from the summer break with Spa and Monza back-to-back, both high-speed high-power circuits, Singapore is likely to be the next race on the calendar have a really good chance of winning.

Then there is the Japanese Grand Prix, Honda’s home race and one in which they would love to excel.

Singapore will almost certainly be prioritised given it represents a significant opportunity for Red Bull to take another win this season, but Honda’s home race in Japan is only the fifth race after the summer break.

With Motorsport.com reporting that Honda believe their power unit can last six races without issues or losing performance, it is a case of balancing long-term goals with short-term ones.

Tanabe added: “We have two types of plan, long-term and short-term.

“After the race we review the situation, the condition of the PU, maybe two or three races is the short-term. And the long-term means until the end of the season.

“It is very complicated.”

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.

The post Honda engine/penalty strategy is ‘very complicated’ appeared first on PlanetF1.