Baku press conference line-up revealed

Daniel Ricciardo will no doubt be answering more questions about his future in Formula 1 after being selected for press conference duty in Baku.

Ricciardo is set to be quizzed on whether the rumours that he has signed an option agreement with Ferrari are true, and there could be a response to Red Bull imposing an August deadline for him to decide whether he is staying with the team or not.

Flanked alongside him will be Renault's Nico Hulkenberg and Haas' Kevin Magnussen, who have both enjoyed strong starts to the 2018 season.

The Drivers' Press Conference gets underway at 1500 local time on Thursday.

In between FP1 and FP2 on Friday, it will be time for a trio of bosses to field questions from the press. 

This race weekend it is James Allison from Mercedes, Red Bull's Paul Monaghan and Pirelli boss Mario Isola. 

As usual, the top three qualifiers will take part in Saturday's press conference and the podium finishers will be present at Sunday's conference.

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Williams: ‘Our sport is basically broken’

Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams has once again criticised the structure of Formula 1, saying it is "impossible to keep up" with the big teams.

Williams has always been strongly vocal about how the foundations of Formula 1 should be built and welcomed with open arms the prospect of a $150m budget cap as part of Liberty's vision for the sport.

The Grove-based team have become a fallen giant in Formula 1, having not won a title since 1997 nor a race since 2012, and Williams believes they do not stand a chance given how the sport now operates.

"When I started, I really thought we could win again,” Williams told Blick.

“Now I do not believe that any more. Our sport is basically broken."

"It's naive to believe that if you just work hard, you'll be rewarded.

“Except for the top three teams, nobody will win in the future.

"The financial discrepancy compared to Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull is just too big. It's impossible to keep up. And it's sad.

"If the new Formula 1 owners actually push the $150 million budget from 2021, we could survive."

Williams did conclude, though, that the team need to be doing a better job after a point-less start to their 2018 campaign.

She said: "There are teams with less money than we have who are doing a better job."

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Symonds: Mercedes tyre issues nothing new

Formula 1’s Chief Technical Officer of Motorsports, Pat Symonds, is not surprised by Mercedes' tyre issues as their superior power unit has "masked" the problem in the past.

Mercedes are yet to win a race so far this season after Ferrari claimed victory in the first two races before Red Bull most recently snatched an opportunistic win in China.

The Silver Arrows have admitted themselves that they have struggled to get the tyres, especially the softer compounds, into their optimum working window.

Symonds, though, believes Mercedes have long been blighted with this issue, which manifested itself long before this season.

“If you look back at the recent history of Mercedes, one thing that they've never quite got on top of is tyre management,” said Symonds via Motorsport Week.

“We saw it a lot in the pre-hybrid era when they didn't have the engine advantage they enjoy now.

“Then, if they didn't get their tyre quite right, they didn't have great races. I think things were masked from 2014 to 2016, simply because they had this big power advantage.

Symonds also questioned the 'diva' label that became attached to last year's W08, which had a tendency to under-perform at certain tracks.

He added: “Last year we started to hear the car being called a ‘diva'. What's that about? In my mind, the difference in performance you get from one weekend to the next is not really explainable in aerodynamics or vehicle dynamics or anything like that.

“With an aero/chassis package, getting your set up just right might mean you're hoping to pick up a tenth or so from Friday to Saturday qualifying.

“But when you get a big shift, when suddenly you're not competitive, it has to be down to tyres. And if it's down to tyres it's down to not using them well and not getting the temperatures correct."

Symonds concluded by stating that Mercedes have not all of a sudden become a team not capable of winning the title and that strategy calls have also played their part in the Silver Arrows' difficult start to the season.

He said: “They’re still strong and still very, very capable of winning the title this year but perhaps more than Ferrari, they are going to have races where they don't get their tyres into the right working range and therefore they will not be as competitive as they should be.

“Strategically they've also had troubles. When you have a fast car and you're controlling the race, the strategy comes to you. But recently with Mercedes we've seen some… I won't call them wrong, but I would say some imperfect strategy calls.

“I think that's because there may have been imperfect calls before but with such a performance advantage you don't really see them.”

 

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