Vettel: We have positive expectations ahead of 2018

Date published: February 23 2018

Sebastian Vettel is “confident” Ferrari’s new SF71H will be a “good” car, but how good remains to be seen.

The German was on hand at Maranello on Thursday to take the covers off the Scuderia’s 2018 challenger.

It is the car that Vettel hopes will carry him to his first World title with Ferrari after missing out last season.

He had been leading the championship through to the Italian Grand Prix but a spate of poor races meant Lewis Hamilton took control, and the title.

Vettel is hoping to bounce back this season.

“Well, I think we always have some positive expectation,” he said.

“The amount of work that goes into a new car is immense, it’s not just the work of the winter.

“Work on this started quite early during last season to look after this year’s car, and this is the result.

“Exciting times!

“In terms of expectations, it’s always difficult… we’ve worked very hard and we think in the right way.

“The next few weeks will be very important to understand if all the things we’ve thought of start making sense.

“We’re confident the car will be good to drive, and I can’t wait to get a feel.”

Palmer joins BBC F1 radio coverage team for 2018

Ex-Renault Formula 1 driver Jolyon Palmer will join the BBC 5 Live F1 commentary team for its coverage of the 2018 season. 

The Briton, who recorded a career-best result of sixth place in 35 grands prix starts for Renault between 2016 and 2017, was replaced at the French manufacturer by Spaniard Carlos Sainz for the final four races of last season. 

Palmer will work alongside Jennie Gow and Jack Nicholls as part of BBC 5 Live’s coverage of every F1 session across the 2018 season, while he will also contribute on the BBC Sport website as an analyst. 

“I’ve worked with Jennie and Jack a lot but am more used to being grilled by them,” the 27-year-old said. ”It’s going to be great joining them in the commentary team and to get to ask the questions myself.

“I’m fascinated to see how the inter-team rivalry plays out and hope I’ll be able to bring my own knowledge of the personalities involved to shed further light on the relationships.”

Wehrlein, Russell to split Mercedes F1 reserve duties in 2018

Pascal Wehrlein and George Russell will split Mercedes’ reserve driver role between them during the 2018 Formula 1 season.

Wehrlein has moved back to the DTM championship he won in 2015 for this season, after losing his Sauber seat to Ferrari protege and reigning Formula 2 champion Charles Leclerc. 

Despite missing out on a spot on the 2018 F1 grid, Mercedes made it clear it was keen to keep the German involved in its F1 operation.

Wehrlein will miss the French and Belgian Grands Prix due to clashing DTM rounds at the Norisring and Misano, meaning fellow junior Russell will takeover Mercedes’ reserve driver duties on those weekends.

The reigning GP3 champion will be both races anyway as part of his F2 campaign with ART Grand Prix. 

Russell took part in Friday practice outings with Force India in Brazil and Abu Dhabi last year and had been linked with a reserve role at the Mercedes customer team, until it announced fellow F2 racer Nicholas Latifi would fill the position instead. 

Wolff wants to take Halo off with a chainsaw 

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits he would remove Formula 1’s Halo with a chainsaw if given the chance, adding he is “not impressed” with the controversial cockpit protection device.

Following the announcement of its mandatory introduction on all F1 cars for 2018, fans, drivers and team members alike have expressed displeasure regarding its aesthetics. 

Technical chiefs have also revealed the extent of the challenge of integrating the system, with Mercedes technical director James Allison recently saying the team’s W09 needed strengthening to the point where it could withstand the weight of a London double decker bus. 

“I’m not impressed with the whole thing,” Wolff said at the team’s launch of it’s 2018 challenger at Silverstone. “If you give me a chainsaw I would take it off. I think we need to look after the driver’s safety but what we have implemented is aesthetically not appealing. 

“We need to come up with a solution that simply looks better. It’s a massive weight on the top of the car, you screw up the centre of gravity massively.  As much as it’s impressive to look at the statistic that you could put a bus on top, this is a Formula 1 car.”

The FIA has rigorously tested the Halo system over the past few years to ensure the device will keep drivers safer, not only from the possibility of flying debris, but also with regards to impact accidents as well as driver extraction.

While Wolff was critical of the looks of the Halo, he believes the system cannot be flawed in terms of improving safety.

“The FIA has very thoroughly conducted all kinds of tests and possible scenarios and overall, the Halo makes it much more safer for the driver. Whether there are scenarios where a driver is trapped, probably these scenarios do exist, but overall it is safer with the Halo than without the Halo.”

Gallery: Ciao to the new Ferrari SF71H

Date published: February 22 2018

Seven down, three to go! Ferrari are the latest to reveal their 2018 challenger, shortly after main rivals Mercedes peeled the covers off the W09.

Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene were all present at a special launch event at the Marenello base.

A section of the Ferrari garage were also invited to celebrate the launch of the new SFH71.

Following the presentation, Ferrari released a small collection of studio shots to allow us all to get a better look at the car.

The new Ferrari is pretty much all-red following the departure of major sponsor Santander. Still enough time for a major sponsor to take its place, however.

Ferrari confirmed that the SFH71 has a longer wheelbase compared to last season, more in line with the title-winning Mercedes W08.

Ferrari also have some aggressively-looking sidepods, a very tightly-packed rear, and the nose/chassis transition vanes have vanished.

Some McLaren-style front wing pillars have also been added.

Check out the other 2018 launches so far:

Red Bull

Ferrari take the covers off the SF71H

Date published: February 22 2018

No sooner had the covers come off the Mercedes W09, Ferrari were hot on their heels with the officially unveiling of their 2018 challenger – the SF71H.

Ferrari re-emerged as Mercedes’ main title threats in 2017 after a strong pre-season was followed up by four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel spearheading the Scuderia’s revival.

The German headed into the summer break with the World Championship lead, but his and Ferrari’s challenge would eventually fade away as dreaded DNFS and reliability issues took hold.

But Ferrari will be hoping those issues will be a thing of the past with the successor to last year’s SF70H.

Toro Rosso, Mercedes and McLaren have all been victim to leaked images of their new cars so far, but Ferrari managed to keep their challenger under wraps until the official launch time of 1400 GMT on Thursday.

Ferrari confirmed at launch that the new car has a longer wheelbase compared to last year and more aggressive-looking sidepods.

Click here for a gallery including studio shots.

F1 champions Mercedes reveal W09 at Silverstone

Reigning Formula 1 world champions Mercedes have officially unveiled its 2018 car, the W09, as it hunts a record-equalling fifth consecutive drivers’ and constructors’ world titles.

This year Mercedes has the chance to match Ferrari’s all-time record of five straight F1 drivers’ and constructors’ world championships secured with Michael Schumacher between 2000-2004. The German manufacturer has dominated the V6 hybrid era with a clean sweep of world titles from 2014-2017 and enters the new F1 season as strong favourites.

Repeating its 2017 season launch, Mercedes has presented its new F1 car at Silverstone in a dual shakedown test and filming day while broadcasting the launch both online and on television.

The F1 world champions name an unchanged driver line-up of Lewis Hamilton, preparing for his sixth season at Mercedes, alongside Valtteri Bottas who retains his place having replaced the retired Nico Rosberg last year.

Bottas was the first to debut the W09 during a short run at Silverstone. The Finn carried out a series of laps on the damp track in the morning before he is set to handover the car to four-time world champion Hamilton in the afternoon.

Having faced its toughest challenge in four years against Ferrari last season, which saw Sebastian Vettel lead the F1 drivers’ standings until round 13 at the Italian Grand Prix, Mercedes has laid out its plans to keep the positive ‘diva’ traits from its 2017 F1 car while refining its handling and consistency.

Mercedes’ W09 continues to run the familiar silver livery with highlights of turquoise while the team has received fresh backing from new sponsor Tommy Hilfiger who has designed the team’s apparel for the new season.

Additional reporting by Lewis Larkam