Ferrari must reproduce Merc’s ‘winning habit’

Date published: December 14 2017

Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene has offered an honest assessment of the Scuderia’s 2017 campaign and their overall standing in relation to the top dogs Mercedes.

Sebastian Vettel sparked a Ferrari revival in the season opener in Australia, but the Prancing Horse were ultimately unable to sustain their title challenge for the entire campaign and fell back to a familiar spot of being second best to the Silver Arrows.

“For Mercedes, first place is not an event but a habit,” Arrivabene told Speed Week. “That’s how it has to be for us in the future.

“We are on an uptrend, but the fact remains that we were not good enough to win the championship.

“If you do not respect a team that has won four consecutive world titles, who will you respect? For me, their great strength lies in the organisation.

“Perhaps it is also the winning habit that makes the difference. Sometimes you get a pole position and it’s a big deal.

“But to be in front, whether it’s in qualifying or in the race, it should be the natural result of our work.”

Arrivabene compared Ferrari’s 2017 season to a glass of water and said there was a big headache to clear in a messy end to their title hunt.

He added: “I see the season like a glass of water.

“By the middle of the season, the glass was half full. But then we used the remaining water to dissolve the headache tablets at the end of the season.

“We worked well and never gave up, which is the positive aspect for me. But things did not go in our favour. Mercedes deserved to win.

“We have to work harder. We know what we need to do in the future.”

Hamilton preparing for four-way fight in 2018

Date published: December 14 2017

Lewis Hamilton believes as many as four teams could be in contention for the titles next season with McLaren being the new dark horse.

The Brit reckons his former team could become a threat now that they have ditched the Honda engines in favour of getting their power units supplied by Renault.

He is also expecting improvement from Ferrari and Red Bull, so he is aware that Mercedes need to start the season on the very top of their game.

“McLaren will have Renault engines, then we may see four teams fighting for the championship,” Hamilton said via BBC Sport.

“Red Bull will be quicker (than this year) and Ferrari will be fast. We can’t stand still. We have to keep moving forwards.”

Hamilton added that his mentality is the same as it always has been and is only interested in finishing first.

He said: “I have the same mindset now for next year.

“When I’m training and preparing for a new season, I firmly believe that we can be contenders for the next championship.

“It may turn out to be not possible, but you have to have that mindset.

“If you go in with expectations of finishing fifth, it’s not going to work. You’ve got to gear yourself up to win.”

Hamilton is heading for the mountains in the off-season so he can recharge the batteries ahead of his latest title defence and fancies catching up on Game of Thrones in the process.

“I go to the same place in the mountains every year,” he said. “I have my dogs, I’m in the snow, and it’s very quiet and peaceful there.

“I spend most of the day sitting by the fireplace. We go skiing, watch some movies and catch up with some TV series.

“I’ve never even seen any of Game of Thrones. My friends and especially my brother are huge fans, and I think I’m going to get into it in the winter.”

Raikkonen: ‘Too early’ to judge Liberty

Date published: December 12 2017

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen believes it is too early for an accurate assessment of Liberty Media’s time in charge of Formula 1.

Liberty are approaching their one-year anniversary since taking over from Bernie Ecclestone in January with the general consensus being that they have made a good start in modernising the coverage of the sport and getting fans more involved in the spectacle.

But some decisions such as the driver announcements in Austin and the unveiling of a new Formula 1 logo have not been too well received and neither has their blueprint for the future of Formula 1.

Raikkonen, though, says they can only be really judged when that change in direction eventually comes.

“They are trying to make it better, easier to follow and more involving the public,” Raikkonen told Auto Hebdo.

“But it will only be in a few years, when the new regulations are in force (in 2021), that we will really see the impact of their arrival.

“I think they’re putting a lot of effort in, listening to everyone and asking the right questions. I think we’ll see if it has been good when we get the new cars.”

Mercedes set to swoop for ex-Ferrari engineer

Date published: December 12 2017

Mercedes are set to add former Ferrari engineer Lorenzo Sassi to their team ahead of the 2018 season.

Sassi, who was the chief engineer of Ferrari’s power unit in 2017, was fired on the direct orders of Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne in July.

It came as a shock to many at the time given how well Ferrari had developed the engine to the point where Sebastian Vettel had a 14-point advantage in the World Championship standings at the summer break.

There was also confusion as to whether Sassi had been moved to a role within the Fiat Chrysler group instead, but he is now a free agent and Mercedes are poised to snap him up.

Both AS and Marca believe the deal is done and an announcement will be made in due course.

Sassi would be following in the recent footsteps of distinguished designer Aldo Costa and current Mercedes technical director James Allison in making the move from the Scuderia to the Silver Arrows.

Vettel: ‘Some races are boring, so what?’

Date published: December 11 2017

Sebastian Vettel is hoping that “everybody calms down” when a boring race comes along and people just look forward to the next one instead.

The new aerodynamic regulations for 2017 raised concerns about overtaking and they were proven to be correct when Pirelli revealed that there was a 49 per cent drop in overtakes – 866 to 435 – when compared to the 2016 season.

Vettel was asked by Autosport what his wishes were for 2018 and first on the list is a change in attitude when a boring race happens.

“Wishes for next year is that everybody calms down,” said Vettel.

“Some races are boring, so what? I don’t see the problem in that.

“I don’t think we need another record, another record every race, to have more overtaking and more overtaking.

“It’s true that [difficulty in] overtaking sometimes, especially if you’re behind and you’re fast and you can’t get past for those reasons, it annoys you.

“But then again if you make the move there is a massive reward inside the car, sometimes out of the car.

“What I want to say is that overtaking should be an achievement and not handed to you.

“Sometimes just relax and calm down and accept a boring race or a boring two races in a row and then there will be another great race after that and another one.”

Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton wants to see changes so that drivers can get closer to each other rather being trapped in dirty air.

“On the racing side, I hope moving forwards, overtaking gets easier,” he said.

“Not easier, but being able to follow each other is really what the sport needs.

“The more overtaking the more fun it is for people to watch.”

Hamilton: Vettel came under ‘extreme pressure’

Date published: December 10 2017

Lewis Hamilton felt that Sebastian Vettel’s demise in 2017 came because he was under “extreme pressure” and is “not afraid” of a potential fightback next season.

Vettel had the World Championship lead going into the summer break, but a series of events which were partly Vettel’s fault and partly the team’s fault, meant that Hamilton and Mercedes were able to land the double once again.

But Hamilton believes Vettel was tested like he never has been before and ultimately it became too much to handle.

“Seb showed more nerves this season than before,” Hamilton told Stuttgarter Nachrichten newspaper.

“None of us are superman, and everyone can fail under extreme pressure.”

“Some reached that point sooner, others later. It’s like tennis. If Federer plays against Nadal, one waits for a small weakness in the other, because half a percent is enough.”

Hamilton acknowledged that Vettel has responded well since the title slipped away and knows that his own performance has slipped, too.

But the Brit is ready to go to into battle with his fellow four-time World Champion next year.

“You saw it at the end of the season,” he added. “Suddenly I had no more pressure and was not very good. I compare this season with a 100 sprint by Usain Bolt.

“He often gets a bad start but then he comes back.

“I’m assuming that he [Vettel] recovers his strength for next year, but I’m not afraid.”

Vettel: Formula E is ‘not the future’

Date published: December 9 2017

Sebastian Vettel has dismissed the potential of Formula E becoming the future of motorsport despite the increasing presence of big-name manufacturers.

Formula E, which has just began its fourth campaign, will welcome BMW to the sport next year, with Mercedes and Porsche joining the year after, but Vettel cannot see the all-electric series becoming a threat to Formula 1.

“To me, this is not the future,” Vettel told the Swiss newspaper Blick.

“E-mobility is currently very popular in the world, but anyone who is honest and identifies with motor racing does not think much of Formula E.

“The cars are not very fast and many drivers who drive there tell me that the driving is not very exciting.”