Hamilton: I put side before self at Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton believes he has “become more of a team player” at Mercedes as he has gotten older with age.

Hamilton is well on course to land a sixth World Championship title and help Mercedes secure a sixth consecutive World Championship double.

Ahead of Singapore Grand Prix, where he is the bookies’ favourite to notch up three wins in a row at the Marina Bay circuit, Hamilton has given an insight into how his mentality has changed over his Formula 1 career and how it perhaps differs from the younger drivers such as Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc.

“Now, the goal is to help the team get the most points and finish as high as possible,” Hamilton told Autosport.

“When you’re slightly further back, you’re willing to take a little bit more risk to gain one extra position, and when you’re in the lead, you’re thinking long-term.

“It’s a subtle difference, but also when you’re younger, you care less in general, you know? Your perceptions are different when you’re younger to when we’re all older.

“When you’re 21 to where you are now, so now I’m in the car, I’m thinking of how much space I have to give each driver, I’m thinking of the fact that I have 2000 people who make my car and they rely on me to make the smart decision and not be selfish and try to get that extra one spot which would be good but it comes at a cost of potentially losing the team the constructors’ championship.

“I think as I got older I’ve become more of a team player, more of an understanding of ‘you can’t win them all’.

“As a kid, you’re like ‘no, I have to win every single one!’. And I understand that it’s a long game, it’s a marathon not a sprint. And that philosophy for me, I didn’t know that when I was 21 or 22 years old.”

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Third DRS zone added to Singapore GP circuit

Drivers will have three opportunities to use DRS at the Singapore Grand Prix this weekend after the FIA added another zone to the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

It is notoriously difficult to overtake on the road circuit and the FIA has given drivers another helping hand in an attempt to liven up the on-track action.

The new DRS detection point will start just after Turn 12 with the activation zone on the exit at Turn 13.

The first Drag Reduction System zone on the track comes on the long straight just after the Turn 5 exit while the final opportunity to use DRS is on the start/finish straight with the DRS detection point situated after Turn 21.

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Five classic moments from the Singapore Grand Prix

The 2019 Singapore Grand Prix will be the 12th staging of a race that has become a gem of the Formula 1 calendar.

It may be a street circuit but overtaking is commonplace around Marina Bay, while drama is also plentiful in supply.

And just to prove it, we have five classic moments gifted to us by the Singapore Grand Prix…

Crashgate

Let’s begin with one of the most memorable moments in Formula 1 history, never mind in the 11-year history of the Singapore GP.

During the 2008 Singapore GP, the first staging of this event, Renault’s Nelson Piquet, Jr crashed out of the race on Lap 14.

It was a simple mistake said the Brazilian, and why would you doubt it? Perhaps because his team-mate Fernando Alonso was the only one to have pitted for fuel at the time of the crash and, with this advantage, Alonso went on to win the race.

Piquet would leave Renault in 2009, but shortly after an FIA investigation into the incident confirmed the allegations of race fixing.

Piquet said during the investigation that he had been ordered to stage the crash by Renault team principal Flavio Briatore and engineer Pat Symonds, and on 4 September 2009 Renault were charged with conspiracy and race fixing.

Briatore and Renault said that they would take legal action against Piquet, Jr for making false allegations before they faced the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris on 21 September 2009.

But, before the hearing Renault announced that they would accept the charges, while they also confirmed that Briatore and Symonds had left the team.

Ferrari’s disastrous 2017 race

Thunder, lightning and a bit of rain is nothing new in Singapore, but in 2017 it was for the Singapore Grand Prix.

The heavens opened just minutes before the formation lap begun to give us the first ever wet race under the Singapore lights, and it proved to be very bad news for Ferrari.

Running three-abreast down the straight, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen got themselves into a Max Verstappen sandwich, resulting in Raikkonen and Vettel colliding.

Raikkonen would skid back on track to finish Verstappen off for good and also wipe out Alonso, while Vettel soon spun again and went reversing around Turn 5 with no front wing – that was the end of his and Ferrari’s race.

It was quite the gift for Lewis Hamilton who went on to claim victory.

Hamilton’s ridiculous 2018 pole lap

Let’s stick with the Brit and his insane qualifying lap that put him on pole for the 2018 Singapore Grand Prix.

A blistering 1:36.015 saw Hamilton come out of nowhere to take his 79th pole from Verstappen, but that lap itself had many more layers than just a time for a P1 grid slot.

That lap was 3.476 seconds faster than the previous year’s pole lap set by Vettel, while Hamilton made an improvement of 1.2s from his fastest Q2 time to set it.

Hamilton first took pole at Singapore in 2009 – his 2018 effort was 11.876 seconds faster. Of course back in those days we had the ‘Singapore Sling’ chicane and qualifying was done on race fuel, but still, it’s mightily impressive.

Massa vs Hamilton 2011

After the pair had pitted Hamilton in his McLaren, the Brit set about overtaking Felipe Massa, but it didn’t quite go to plan with the pair colliding at Turn 7 when Hamilton tried to go around the outside.

The incident meant a damaged front wing for Hamilton, while Massa with a right-rear puncture dropped all the way down to P19.

Hamilton received a drive-through penalty for his efforts but finished P5, while Massa recovered to finish P9.

It’s safe to say Massa wasn’t very impressed with his rival, and although “attack” is a little bit of an exaggeration in the YouTube video, Hamilton was probably off the Brazilian’s Christmas card list for a while.

Massa’s crazy overtake 2012

Massa has had his fair share of incidents at the Singapore Grand Prix. The aforementioned tussle with Hamilton, the botched pit stop in 2008 being released with the fuel hose still attached and this quite frankly ridiculous overtake on Bruno Senna in the 2012 edition.

The Brazilian was forced to fight his way back through the field after suffering a puncture on the first lap and had to go to the extreme to get past the Williams car for P9 following a second Safety Car restart.

Through the narrowest (and we mean the narrowest) of gaps, Massa got the job done basically with his car sideways as he wrestled through with full opposite lock.

Talk about supreme control!

 

Jamie Woodhouse

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Binotto: Ferrari boss role ‘more enjoyable than expected’

Life as Ferrari team principal is never easy, but Mattia Binotto says the first few months of his tenure have been “more enjoyable than expected”.

Binotto was chosen as the man to take the Scuderia forward at the start of the year as he replaced Maurizio Arrivabene, who spent four years at the helm.

However, it wasn’t the easiest of starts to life as team boss as Ferrari struggled to match Mercedes with the German manufacturer winning nine of the first 10 races.

But despite the early season struggles, Binotto “enjoyed” life in the fast line.

“I would say it is more enjoyable than what I was expecting, rather than difficult,” he told the official Formula 1 website.

“The reason why it is enjoyable is because I think we have got a great team and a great team spirit and that is somehow giving to the team principal the right confidence and boost – and again our tifosi.”

Charles Leclerc came closest to winning for Ferrari during the opening races, but an engine failure at the Bahrain Grand Prix saw his hopes disappear.

Ferrari and Leclerc had to wait until after the summer break before it finally clicked as the Monegasque driver won at Spa and followed it up with victory in front of their home fans at Monza.

Binotto added: “The first part of the season has been difficult and somehow to manage the situation is never easy.

“It’s true with the fans, with the media and it’s true within the team. But somehow that will make us even stronger in the future by making sure that we have been able and capable of managing the start of this season.”

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McLaren looking to ‘reset and refresh’ in Singapore

McLaren are looking for a fresh start in Singapore after securing just one point from the previous two race weekends combined.

The Woking team have occupied the P4 spot in the Constructors’ Championship for much of the season, but Renault have closed the gap to their customer team to 21 points with seven races of the season remaining.

Team principal Andreas Seidl said that Spa and Monza show just how even the smallest setback can have big consequences, but wants the team to see Singapore as a clean slate.

“We go to Singapore looking to reset and refresh following two difficult weekends in Belgium and Italy,” Seidl said in McLaren’s Singapore preview.

“Those races demonstrated just how close the midfield pack is, and that even the smallest issue can cost a lot in the Constructors’ Championship.

“We know the areas we need to work on between now and the end of the season, and the team is pushing hard right through to Abu Dhabi.

“The night race in Singapore creates a unique environment. It offers an interesting challenge from an operational point of view, with the team working on a European-time schedule, but through the night due to the local time zone.

“But, as ever, we are focused on maximising our capabilities as a team throughout the race weekend and extracting performance at every opportunity.”

Sainz has suffered back-to-back retirements at Spa and Monza, but is still full of positivity heading to Singapore.

“The last two European races of the season didn’t go to plan, so I‘m looking forward to recovering some positive momentum in the upcoming flyaway races,” Sainz added.

“Spa and Monza were unfortunate but there is no reason to not stay positive. As always, we need to keep our heads down and fight for every opportunity.”

The unique Singapore experience is all new to Lando Norris, meanwhile, and he is flying out early to get fully accustomed to the conditions and schedule.

“I’m excited to head to Singapore for the first time and I’ve been doing a lot of prep back in the factory to get ready for the weekend,” he said.

“From my work in the simulator, the street circuit seems to be an exciting challenge and I’m really looking forward to my first laps on Friday.

“I’ll be heading out to Singapore a few days early so I can get used to the temperatures with some specialist training, take in some of the city and prepare myself for the weekend ahead.”

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Montreal ‘damaged Vettel’s faith’ in Formula 1

Ex-Formula 1 boss, Bernie Ecclestone, feels Sebastian Vettel has “lost something” and the events of Montreal have had a significant impact on him.

Vettel was given a controversial penalty in Canada which gave Lewis Hamilton the win and demoted Vettel to second place.

More mistakes have followed since the Canadian Grand Prix and he is still without a victory since the Belgian Grand Prix in 2018. Team-mate Charles Leclerc has won twice following back-to-back wins in Belgium and Spa.

Vettel’s future with not just Ferrari, but in Formula 1 overall, was called into question after another self-inflicted error at Monza and his friend, Ecclestone, believes Montreal has had a lasting effect.

“He seems to have lost something,” Ecclestone said in an interview with Auto Motor und Sport. “The worst thing that happened to him was the punishment in Montreal.

“The punishment there was completely wrong and unnecessary. It somehow damaged Sebastian’s faith in the sport.

“His action was not dangerous. Everyone else would have reacted like him. Lewis was clever, making it look dangerous.”

Meanwhile, Ecclestone also named that his ideal driver line-up at the moment would be Lewis Hamilton partnered with Max Verstappen.

He said: “These are two different drivers, two completely different types – and they also win their races in different ways.

“That’s why the choice is hard for me. We could really compare the two in the same car. I wish to see that.”

Ecclestone has also had his say on the ever-increasing calendar, with the 2020 Formula season to feature 22 races.

He, like Vettel, feels 16 is more than enough.

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Hamilton: Hubert death ‘hit depths of my soul’

Two weeks after Anthoine Hubert tragically lost his life, Lewis Hamilton has revealed that the Frenchman’s death “hit me in the depths of my soul”, adding that people sometimes forget that motorsport remains a “dangerous sport”.

F2 driver Hubert died after he was involved in a high-speed collision with Juan Manuel Correa in Belgium. Correa remains in hospital with the last update from his family saying his condition has “improved slightly”.

After the crash, Hamilton took to social media to pay tribute to the 22-year-old Hubert.

He wrote: “All these drivers put their life on the line when they hit the track and people need to appreciate that in a serious way because it is not appreciated enough. Not from the fans nor some of the people actually working in the sport.”

The five-time World Champion again took time out during a media session to highlight the dangers of the sport.

“That’s why I posted the things [on social media], because it’s not impossible,” he told Motorsport.com. “I’ve experienced that [before].

“Obviously we had that in Japan [with Jules Bianchi in 2014], we had that experience, but then I had another 11-year-old [Daniel Spence] die on the race weekend [during karting in 1994], when I was racing as a kid. So I’d experienced it before. And for a driver it really hits you hard.

“I don’t know how it was for the other drivers, but for me, ‘woah’, it hit me in the depths of my soul. It was really hard. For the rest of that day and then the evening, I couldn’t go to sleep, I just couldn’t believe what had happened that day.

“I guess your mind is just working overtime, trying to get used to the reality of what has happened. And also to the fact that, look, we lost Charlie [Whiting] this year and Formula 1 just continues on, we lost Niki [Lauda] and the world just goes on. It’s sad, I think, that that’s how life is.”

Asked to elaborate on those views, he reiterated that while motorsport is slightly “safer”, there is always a “potential possibility”.

“I think that’s just in general in the world,” he continued.

“I think you go to a sporting event, which is such a great great event, but people turn up for the fun weekend. Some of them may not have even contemplated the fact that it’s a dangerous sport, these guys could have an incident like that – because it doesn’t happen so often.

“Back in the day, when it was happening all the time, it was ‘ah, these guys are superheroes, it happens all the time, he dodged death!’. But whilst we are in a safer period of time in the sport, it is still there, still a potential possibility.

“I think just in life, as humans, I think we take lots of things for granted. All of us do. Even I do. It’s just the way we are tuned.

“I arrive to my engineers and it’s just a part of our weekend. We go through our cycle, I get in and I come out tired, it’s just the norm. And if I get in, I crash, and I get hurt, it’s ‘oh my god’. All of a sudden it’s a shock. I’m conscious of when I get in, that my days are numbered, you know?”

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