Hamilton excited for ‘best era’ come 2021

Formula 1 could be in for the “best era of racing” in a long time come 2021, that’s according to Lewis Hamilton.

The six-time World Champion has been weighing in on Liberty Media and the FIA’s new regulations for 2021.

Not only will F1 embrace ground effect aerodynamics, making for easier passing, but financial regulations will also level the playing field between the have and the have nots.

Hamilton feels it could lead to the best racing F1 has witnessed in a years.

He told AP: “If it (the new rules) does what it says on paper, it could be the best era of racing that we have seen in a long, long time.

“And I want to be there if it is the case.

“It will be another opportunity to show my abilities.”

The Mercedes driver highlighted today’s “massive problem” in Formula 1, saying that while the cars have pace, they can’t follow.

The 2021 will be three seconds per lap slower but should lose less downforce when following another car.

“We got these great cars with great power and grip, but you can’t get close enough in the races,” he added.

“That means less excitement for all of you.

“That means we have to have a DRS (drag reduction system), which is a band-aid for the poor characteristics of the current regulations.”

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Brawn: F1 will crash and burn without a cost cap

Formula 1 is in desperate need of a budget cap with Ross Brawn saying the sport will “crash and burn” unless someone pulls the teams into line.

Liberty Media will do just that in 2021.

F1’s owners, together with the FIA and the teams, have agreed to implement a $175 million per season budget cap.

That will cover everything relating to the car except customer engine deals, which are capped at just short of $16.5m per year.

What it doesn’t include is drivers’ salaries, bonuses, the wages of the team’s top-three employees and their travel costs, marketing and F1 entry fees.

Brawn, though, feels it is a big step in the right direction.

He told Sportsmail: “F1 is a victim of its own success.

“If you win, it is so valuable in terms of the rewards it brings, therefore you can justify increasing the budgets to succeed because the rewards are so high.

“Suddenly you can’t afford to fail and you have to keep ploughing money in.

“You’d imagine budgets would stabilise at some point but they haven’t. I have seen budgets escalate on a yearly basis.

“It takes an economic crisis for those things to be redressed but we don’t want to wait for an economic crisis.

“I don’t see what the options are, if we throw it open again Formula One will crash and burn, it will be a victim of its own success.”

And although Brawn acknowledges it won’t be easy to police, the F1 sporting boss is confident that the penalties that await teams who don’t adhere to it will be a sufficient deterrant.

“We have a big challenge to make sure it is applied fairly but there is no alternative, we have to grow through the challenge of making the cost cap work,” he continued.

“If a team in the last three races had a lot of crashes you’d have some sympathy for that situation.

“If a team turned up to the last race with a big upgrade there could be no sympathy, so there has to be some flavour put into that.

“Then there will be degrees of transgression, until ultimately you could say there has been fraud where a team has purposely tried to deceive you and hide that expenditure.

“That would obviously be the major category. It is up to the FIA as the regulatory body what the punishment is but there is a proper process now.

“Teams have been advised like any transgression, if your car is illegal, this will have teeth. It has to otherwise it will get played strategically. The teams are so competitive.”

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Leclerc: Race pace not as bad as it looks

Although Ferrari are losing out in grands prix compared to their qualifying pace, Charles Leclerc insists it is not as “bad as it looks”.

Ferrari have claimed six pole positions since Formula 1 returned from the summer break but only three race wins.

The Scuderia were widely condemned by the Italian media and other pundits when they bagged back-to-back 1-2s on the Japanese and Mexican GP grids and yet only put one car on the podium. And neither was for the win.

Leclerc, though, says it is not all down to a lack of race pace.

Rather he feels Ferrari have tripped up in other avenues while admitting that even he hasn’t done a perfect job every Sunday.

“I believe on my side, I’ve not been perfect,” Leclerc admitted to RaceFans.

“Especially in the race, I’ve got a lot of improvements to make on my side.

“In Mexico, I learned quite a lot.

“From the outside, it is difficult to see but from the driver’s side of things, I tried a lot of things during the race.

“We’ve been unlucky on some races, Sochi could have been another win but we could not control the failure of Seb, which created a Virtual Safety Car.

“So there have been a few missed opportunities, but I don’t think it has been as bad as it looks.”

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Hamilton expects ‘drivers switching’ for 2021

Lewis Hamilton reckons the 2021 grid could look a lot different to next season’s with drivers switching teams ahead of the implementation of the new regulations.

Formula 1 is making big changes for 2021 with new financial, sporting and technical rules coming into play.

This led many of the top drivers such as Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen only committing to their current teams until the end of 2020.

Hamilton predicts there will be a few changes after that.

“In this next year we must see drivers switching, there is a lot going on that is happening in the background, each driver talking to certain teams,” he told Reuters.

As for next season the six-time World Champion is expecting a tougher challenge from Ferrari and most notably Charles Leclerc.

The Brit believes Leclerc along with Verstappen are “champions of the future.

“I think both have really fair, aggressive driving styles, which is great.

“In terms of who is going to win, well hopefully I’m still here to try to stop them.

“I think Ferrari has the better chance of providing a car that can fight for the World title in the short term.”

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Sainz was doing doughnuts before he was three

Carlos Sainz has shared a video of him doing doughnuts in a motorised toy car as a child, saying he wasn’t even three at the time.

The video is from the late 1990s, at which point Sainz’s father Carlos Sainz Sr was competing as a rally driver.

He came home one day to see his son performing what has become a form of celebration in racing – the doughnut.

The Spaniard said that nobody, especially not his dad, had taught him how to do them and that the racing ability just came naturally to him.

And with his 100th Formula 1 grand prix coming up in Brazil, Sainz’s belief sure seems to ring true.

“My dad had just returned from a rally and he saw me doing these doughnuts. I was not even three,” he told Yahoo! Sport.

“He said ‘Who the hell has taught this guy to do doughnuts?’ because he hadn’t taught me how to do that. Probably the most impressive thing from that video is not that I was doing the doughnuts but that I was doing them without anyone having taught me.

“There is clearly this gene inside me or this thing inside me that I’ve always had in my blood. I don’t know, but since very little I’ve always wanted to be in racing cars, and that was without knowing who my dad was and what he was doing for a living.

“I had no idea at two or three years of age that my dad was a rally driver and he was doing doughnuts around the world.

“It’s something within me since I was very little. When I jumped in a go-kart at three or four, with my friends, I was super fast without anyone really teaching me.

“It’s one of those things that you’re just meant to be. It’s the way it has worked for me.”

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Albon is good, but Red Bull could have had better

After a solid seven races at Red Bull, Alex Albon has been signed for next season. He’s undeniably talented, but had the team not been so stubborn, they could have had better.

At the start of the 2018 season, Red Bull had the best driver lineup on the grid. Max Verstappen was the sport’s biggest talent, while Daniel Ricciardo was, on his day, as good as anyone.

The latter caught them off guard a few months later when he chose to join Renault instead of stay for 2019. It was a blow, but not a disaster. After all, they still had Carlos Sainz on their books.

The Spaniard had spent the entirety of the season on loan at Renault and performed well. Despite being outscored by team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, he still managed 13 top 10 finishes, including two in the top six.

Prior to that, he had been hugely impressive at Toro Rosso, giving Verstappen a good fight in 2016 and comfortably outperforming Daniil Kvyat in 2017. Surely Red Bull would call him up?

Nope. The powers that be were angered at his decision to leave Toro Rosso for Renault, seeing it as a terrible betrayal given how they’d gotten him into the sport in the first place. In retaliation, they shunned him and promoted Pierre Gasly instead.

Sainz has since enjoyed his best season in the sport to date, absolutely dominating the midfield at McLaren, finishing inside the top six on seven occasions. Embarrassingly for Red Bull, he even beat Gasly in four races prior to the Frenchman’s demotion, despite having considerably slower machinery.

Carlos Sainz

Albon has admittedly been an improvement on Gasly, but it’s hard to believe Sainz wouldn’t do better. In the five races since the Thai driver joined Red Bull, the Spaniard has finished just a place behind him twice.

Nevertheless, he’s now tied down to McLaren and more than happy there, so was never a 2020 option for Red Bull, and they only have themselves to blame.

With Sainz ruled out, was Albon the best the team could get? Again, nope, that accolade surely goes to a certain German…

Sainz was indeed impressive in 2018, but Hulkenberg was even better. He scored 16 points more and ended the season as the best of the rest. Of the 12 races he finished, half of them ended with him in the top six.

2019 would present him with an even more formidable team-mate in the form of Daniel Ricciardo, and while he looks set to lose the battle, he’s put up a good fight.

With two races to go, the German trails 12-7 in qualifying and 8-5 on race day when both have finished, and is nine points behind. Surely someone so close to Ricciardo would be the perfect man to fill the huge gap the Aussie left in the team when he joined Renault?

If that’s not a big enough reason, Verstappen has spoken of how he misses having a more experienced team-mate such as Ricciardo to push him. Albon doesn’t fit this criteria, but Hulkenberg certainly does.

Nico Hulkenberg

Ultimately, Red Bull were reluctant to hire someone outside of their driver programme and gave Albon the nod, leaving Hulkenberg without a seat.

He’s drawn praise for his opening seven races, but they look much less impressive when compared to Verstappen and Ricciardo, who both got one win and two podiums in their first seven for the team.

Another stat that’s being doing the rounds is that he’s outscored Verstappen since joining Red Bull. This may true, but Verstappen has retired from two races in that time.

In races that they’ve both finished, Verstappen leads Albon 3-2, and Albon’s two come from one race where Verstappen started from the back of the grid and another where he suffered a puncture. In the three that Verstappen has, it hasn’t been close either.

Throw in the fact that Albon is older than him and it seems like an uninspiring appointment indeed. He’ll most likely prove a capable number two, but even the biggest Albon fan would struggle to genuinely claim that he’ll do a better job than Sainz or Hulkenberg would have alongside the Dutchman.

Red Bull missed out on the first due to the fact that he’d hurt their pride, and on the second due to their reluctance to look outside their circle. Both rejections could turn out to monumental mishaps, especially if Verstappen jumps ship when his contract ends in 2020.

If so, they best pray that Albon turns out good, otherwise they’ll be left without a world class driver and have little talent to choose from in their academy heading into 2021, the most important season in years. So yeah, no pressure, Alex.

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McLaren’s reliability has been a ‘weak spot’ in 2019

McLaren CEO Zak Brown believes the team have made great strides forward in 2019, but reliability remains their “weak spot”.

The Woking outfit look set to land P4 in the Constructors’ Championship ahead of Renault with two races to go, but the current margin of 38 points could have been far greater if it wasn’t for several notable reliability issues.

Lando Norris has suffered the worst of it – The 20-year-old retired from P5 at the Belgian GP on the last lap with Carlos Sainz’s DNF making it a double retirement, while Norris was again cost a strong haul of points in Mexico by a wheel problem at his pit stop.

So looking to the future, the clear area of improvement for McLaren in Brown’s eyes is reliability.

“Our pit stops, we were seventh, eighth best pit stops last year, this year we’re kind of sitting around third,” Brown told Crash.net.

“Launches, we were floating around first, second best, we were sixth, seventh best.

“If you look at the race team fitness if you want to call it that, you see a clear moving forward of not just a better race car and drivers doing really well, but pit stops are getting better, launches are getting better, and then we need to work on reliability.

“That has probably been our weak spot this year.”

But perhaps the biggest positive for Brown has been the performances of both Sainz and Norris, as well as the relationship they have developed in their first season together.

“I’m very pleased with both drivers, I think everyone is impressed with how they have raced,” he said.

“Lando in particular has not made the level of rookie mistakes that you would expect.

“If you look at Leclerc, his first year, he’s had one incident in Spain, which was kind of a racing incident, so he’s driven extremely maturely, which I think is very impressive for a driver of his age.

“He’s been very fast, the drivers are I think 9-9 in qualifying, which is exactly what you want.

“Make no mistake about it, while they get on very well, they’re extremely competitive with each other, but in a very healthy way, so I’m really pleased with our driver line-up and their pace.”

Sainz joined McLaren for the 2019 campaign after a season and a bit with Renault, and the Spaniard said that for him, McLaren was “love at first sight”.

“What sold me on McLaren was, first of all, the connection with Zak and how much this team wanted me to join,” he told Yahoo! Sport.

“As a driver, it’s very important to feel at home and feel that the team wants you. I’ve always felt at McLaren it was pretty much love at first sight since we started talking.

“It was very important for me, after the Renault and Red Bull periods where I never felt fully at home, that I went to a team that wanted me and that I could show my talent, so that was a big, big part of it.

“Then when I saw the restructuring going on inside McLaren, I realised how realistic they were about their chances, and how honest they were about why they had been so poor in recent years.

“I also saw a team in the making and wanting to move forward, which is exactly what I needed at the time.”

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