Ricciardo: Cars still dictate F1, not the drivers

Date published: December 14 2017

Daniel Ricciardo would like to see more balance in Formula 1 and reckons Lewis Hamilton would not have won titles if he was in a midfield car.

New aerodynamic regulations were introduced in 2017 and while drivers are happy with the initial results of the changes, Ricciardo feels that driver talent is still not a big enough factor in Formula 1.

“Lewis [Hamilton] has won three of the last four championships, but if he was in a midfield team, he wouldn’t have three of the last four championships,” Ricciardo said.

“The car is a big part of it, but you need to be a good driver to get the equipment to the top. You need both. It’s still a bit more dominant with the car than the driver I’d say maybe 75 percent to 25 percent.

“If we make it a bit more equal by bringing the driver in a bit more and taking the equipment out, then that would be better.

“A 50/50 would be something more realistic in the near future, and hopefully that’s the case.

“Even from Lewis to the guy that’s coming last, maybe the lap time says 3.0s, but the driver is maximum 1.0s.

“We are all a lot closer than that, and it would be great if we could all stay within 1.0s with the equipment because then the racing would be pretty fun.”

Ricciardo is continuing to weigh up his options as he enters into the final 12 months of his Red Bull contract and has been linked with a move to either Mercedes or Ferrari.

Newey: Halo is a ‘clumsy and ugly’ solution

Date published: December 14 2017

Red Bull’s chief technical officer Adrian Newey is still caught in two minds over the implementation of the Halo, praising the safety element but critical of the design.

The Halo will be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season onwards, much to the annoyance of many drivers, teams and fans alike.

The aesthetics of the Halo is the main gripe, but teams have been up against time trying to develop the cockpit safety device as part of their design plans for their 2018 challengers.

And while Newey believes driver safety does need to be improved, he is not convinced that the Halo is the way to do it.

“I have to admit I do have mixed feelings on the Halo,” Newey told Sky Sports F1.

“On the one hand, I do feel that anything you can do to make a car safer is a good thing.

“When somebody gets’ really seriously injured or dies that it is horrific. I attended Justin Wilson’s funeral three years ago, and to see the grief on the family’s faces was terrible.

“So if it helps to make the car safer, that has to be applauded.

“The engineer in me says that it just seems to be such a clumsy and ugly solution, it just feels as if we ought to be able to do something better than that.”

Newey feels more time and development should have gone into the whole process in order to come up with a decent solution that can be implemented all levels.

“I think there needs to be more research,” he added.

“Probably a canopy would be visually more attractive, but then it’s closed-cockpit racing.

“What is important is whatever Formula 1 does has to be affordable for the lower formulae, because the bottom line is why should a Formula Ford driver’s life be valued less than an F1 drivers’ life?

“We have to find a solution that can be carried across, but there’s no escaping it’s ugly. The aesthetic artist in me finds that offensive.”

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.”

Red Bull tell Ricciardo: ‘We won’t wait forever’

Date published: December 12 2017

Red Bull boss Christian Horner has warned Daniel Ricciardo that he cannot keep the team waiting forever for a decision on his Formula 1 future.

Ricciardo is out of the contract at the end of next season but is in no rush to commit his future with anyone as he assesses what the best move is for him at this crucial stage of his career.

At 28, Ricciardo feels he is now in a position to dictate the contract proceedings and make the move that could potentially give a shot at silverware.

But Horner has said the team will move on to other candidates for the seat alongside Max Verstappen if he does not make a decision soon.

“I think Daniel knows what our strengths are and hopefully we’ll be in a reasonable position,” Horner told Racer.

“I think he’s at a stage in his career where he’s wanting to evaluate all of his options, which you can understand.

“The problem is we won’t wait around forever and we’ve got some very good options available to us, but our priority is to try and ensure we find a solution with Daniel.”

Ricciardo could find himself in a position where he has three options to consider: a move to Mercedes or Ferrari, or to stay at Red Bull if they can prove they have car that is capable of challenging for the title.

And Horner believes that is what the Aussie is waiting for before he evaluates options elsewhere.

He added: “I get the impression he’ll want to see relative engine performances next year. He’s had four years of frustration on that side of things, so I can understand him wanting to see how things are panning out.”

Ricciardo needs to ‘lift game’ in qualifying

Date published: December 10 2017

Daniel Ricciardo is well aware that he needs to work on his one-lap pace for the 2018 season after being outclassed by team-mate Max Verstappen.

The Aussie won just seven out of 13 qualifying battles against Verstappen last season with the average gap between the pair over the course of the campaign standing at three tenths.

Ricciardo, who is into the final 12 months of his Red Bull contract and assessing his future, knows that he needs to improve in the area he usually considers to be a strong point of his.

“I can’t deny that Max was better more times than not in qualifying this year – and qualifying has always been a strength of mine,” Ricciardo said.

“So yeah, I’ve definitely got to lift my game in qualifying. The first part of that is to understand what I didn’t execute as well this year as last.

“If it’s half a tenth, it’s half a tenth: it could decide pole; could decide a championship. We’ve got to fight for everything.

“And that’s good. This year I think Max and I both feel that any mistake in qualifying means we’re going to be second best.

“In the past, with some team-mates, you might perhaps get away with a little mistake here and there and still come out on top. Not anymore. We keep the pressure on each other.”

Continuing to look ahead to 2018, Ricciardo was also quitely confident that Red Bull can buck their trend of starting the season slowly and becoming stronger as the year goes on.

He added: “I don’t want to set the expectation bar too high – mostly because I hate that phrase – but yeah, the way we’ve progressed this year has been massive.

“We’ve developed more than anyone else. Because of that, it’s hard to think we would not start next year on the right foot.”

Verstappen and Ricciardo both clinch awards

Date published: December 9 2017

Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo have won awards after both drivers had an up-and-down 2017 campaign.

Verstappen and Ricciardo suffered 13 DNFs between them throughout the season, but both still managed to have their moment in the spotlight.

Verstappen won two of the last six races of 2017, while Daniel Ricciardo came out on top in a crazy race in Baku amongst a string of podium finishes.

Ricciardo’s performance in Azerbaijan earned him the ‘Best Overtake of the Year’ award in an official Formula 1 poll, beating the likes of Sebastian Vettel’s pass on him in China and Fernando Alonso’s battle with Lewis Hamilton in Mexico.

Meanwhile, at Friday’s FIA Gala, where Hamilton finally got his hands on his fourth World Championship, Verstappen collected the ‘Personality of the Year’ award for a third consecutive season.

Ricciardo won’t settle in contract talks

Date published: December 6 2017

Daniel Ricciardo has warned Red Bull, and other teams, that he won’t settle when it comes to his contract negotiations.

The Aussie is out of contract with Red Bull at the end of 2018 and has been linked to a move to Ferrari or Mercedes.

Red Bull have made it clear that they want him to stay on and continue as Max Verstappen’s team-mate through to the end of 2020.

The team, though, may face some tough negotiations with the five-time grand prix winner.

“I’m 29 next year and the next deal will take me into my 30s, so it’s not like I’m the young unproven kid who’ll sign anything just to get on the grid, or at the other end of my career when I’m hanging on and doing things year by year – I don’t ever want to get to that stage, I can’t see myself being that guy,” he told the Red Bull website,

“You look at Lewis [Hamilton] and when he did his Mercedes deal, he was the same age as I am now if I remember correctly. He was already doing very well where he was, but his career has really taken off since then. So, there’s a lot to consider.”

“So where do things stand? The short answer is that there’s absolutely no rush, and things can take as long as they take – I’m not setting a deadline for anyone else’s sake, or just to get it done for me.

“I’m not just going to settle on something because I want it to be off my mind, because there’s a lot at stake. It’s a big decision for me, so if I need to take time to make it, I will.

“I’m planning on being in the sport for a long while yet, but in saying that, if I was to sign, say, a three-year deal, that’s a big chunk of the next part of my career.

“I need to get it right, so it’s a big call – the most important one for me yet, I think. I’ll take as much time as I need to. It’s not going to be a distraction.”