Verstappen accuses press of double standards

Max Verstappen is “angry” with press as he feels they will not treat Sebastian Vettel in the same way as him following the German’s collision at the French Grand Prix.

Vettel was given a five-second penalty for causing a collision with Valtteri Bottas at the first corner at the Circuit Paul Ricard and had to come from the back of the grid to finish P5.

Verstappen, who secured the best result of his season with second place in France, has come under a lot of pressure from the media after starting his season with six consecutive race weekends with an on-track incident, and he wants to see Vettel asked the same questions that were posed to him.

“I hope when we get to Austria that the journalists ask him if he will change his approach because that is what l heard for so many races,” Verstappen told Sky Sports F1.

“It really annoyed me and was stupid to ask. I’m getting annoyed about it.

“Mistakes happen and they happen to the best of us. But it makes me angry because they won’t be as bad on him as they were on me.

“All the time they came to me on how l should change my approach and these stupid comments. I didn’t change a thing and now everything is going right.”

Not finished there, Verstappen called out those “stupid” enough to question his driving ability.

“I focus on my myself, but all these stupid comments you read on social media and journalists, it’s really stupid,” Verstappen continued.

“I am not going to hold back on it.”

 

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Lauda baffled by lenient Vettel penalty

Mercedes’ non-executive chairman Niki Lauda has said that Sebastian Vettel should have been given a bigger penalty for his “enormous mistake” at the French Grand Prix.

Vettel locked up at the first turn and tagged Valtteri Bottas, causing damage to both cars and leaving both drivers with a recovery mission from the back of the grid.

Vettel was handed a five-second penalty by the stewards for the collision, but Lauda, as well as Lewis Hamilton, have seriously questioned whether that was the right punishment.

“I think we could have done [finished with a Mercedes 1-2], and why Vettel only gets five seconds for this enormous mistake I don’t really understand. It is too little,” Lauda told Sky Sports F1.

“There is more time they can give them. That is what I mean. Five seconds is nothing. He destroyed the whole race for himself and Bottas.”

As for the race winner Hamilton, Lauda said that the Brit was always in control throughout the afternoon.

”Sometimes he [Hamilton] was pushing but he had the race really under control,” Lauda added. ”He did no mistakes and the team worked perfect, so fantastic.

“It’s the right result but it would have been better if Bottas had been up there too but nevertheless I thank the whole team and everyone for the result.”

Vettel finished P5, with Bottas only able to recover to P7 after also collecting floor damage.

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Alonso: ‘I really hope it is a one-off’

Fernando Alonso says that he hopes McLaren’s poor showing at the French Grand Prix is just a “one-off” and better things are to come from the team.

The Spaniard, fresh (or not) off the back of his win at the Le Mans 24H last weekend, retired at Paul Ricard, his third straight retirement in F1.

“This was by far the worst performance of the year,” Alonso said. “So, I really hope it is a one-off and not the normality.”

Despite the problems, the two-time World Champion is still looking on the bright side.

“I’m surprised how negative you are because as I say, we are the 20 top drivers in the world and the questions are how I manage to be positive, how I manage to smile, how I manage to breathe, to eat – I manage quite well, you know and I feel very privileged,” the McLaren man stated.

Alonso did say, though, that they were hindered by the first corner carnage, and that other drivers cut corners, while the Spaniard stayed on track, and lost out because of it.

“All the race we were on the back foot, from the start we had to avoid a lot of accidents and from the last… people seemed to short cut the circuit and nothing happened. We stayed on the circuit and came last,” he added.

He is hoping to have better weekends soon enough, with the next part of the triple header coming in seven days time in Spielberg.

“And after at the end we had a suspension problem and couldn’t even see the chequered flag so not a very competitive weekend for us but in five days we have another opportunity to forget this and I really hope that Austria and Silverstone will be better circuits for us,” Alonso continued.

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Driver Ratings: French Grand Prix

Which drivers excelled at the unfamiliar Circuit Paul Ricard and who got their triple-header of race weekends off to a poor start?

Lewis Hamilton: Mercedes are back…and so is Lewis Hamilton. After a below-par performance at his beloved Canada, this was the perfect response from the Brit who re-takes the World Championship lead from Sebastian Vettel.

He put a gem of a final sector together to pinch pole position – the 75th of his career – from Valtteri Bottas and managed to stay clear of all the carnage at the start. He controlled the race from there and the bad weather just about stayed away for Hamilton to have a stress-free race. 9

Max Verstappen: The Dutchman is starting to build some momentum now with back-to-back podium finishes, his best result of the year and another decent performance in qualifying. He too avoided the chaos at the start and got himself up to second place in the process. He was unable to put any sort of pressure on Hamilton, especially with the race staying dry, but, some “annoying” vibrations aside, it was a relatively straightforward race for Verstappen. He will want plenty more of those considering his start to the season. 8

Kimi Raikkonen: Two contrasting days for Raikkonen with his Ferrari future very much under the spotlight again in recent weeks. Another messy qualifying, in where he completely messed up Q3 and was called “desperate” and “erratic” by a compromised Kevin Magnussen, was followed up with a solid race performance.

He found himself behind his potential replacement Charles Leclerc once the Safety Car peeled back into the pits but put together a decent recovery with a long first stint on the ultras and ultimately made amends for his dismal qualifying with a podium finish, which was of course helped by the troubles of his team-mate Vettel and Ricciardo, whose race unravelled a little bit towards the end.  6.5

Daniel Ricciardo: The Aussie looked poised to make it a double podium for Red Bull at one stage but, alas, it just wasn’t to be. Ricciardo came out behind Sebastian Vettel after his pit stop but soon got that place back with a sweet overtake on his former team-mate. However, he ultimately lost out on the final podium spot due to some debris taking away part of his front wing and leaving him very vulnerable to Raikkonen. 7

Sebastian Vettel: This was a weekend to forget for Vettel, who has seen a one point World Championship lead turn into a 14-point deficit. Starting from P3, he got off to a very good start and looked to have gobbled up Bottas at the first corner. But, he carried too much speed up the inside, locked up, and massively compromised both his race and Bottas’, too.

The wing/nose damage sustained in the incident put him right at the back of the grid at the restart and what could have been a challenge for the race victory quickly turned into a recovery mission. The soft tyres he changed to tailed off rapidly yet his pace on them suggested a fourth win of the season would have been a very realistic aim. He managed to limit the damage somewhat with a P5 finish. His five-second penalty for the first lap clash was essentially covered by Bottas’ slow second pit stop.

Vettel was awarded the ‘Driver of the Day’, but we are not really sure how. Thankfully for him, he does not have too long to wait to try and put things right again. 6.5

Kevin Magnussen: A second P6 finish of the season for K-Mag and delivers Haas’ first points since the Spanish Grand Prix to put them right on the tails of Force India in sixth spot. Magnussen was also rewarded by staying out of trouble early doors and was as high as P5 at one stage. There was a nice overtake on Stoffel Vandoorne thrown in there and the late VSC aided his attempt to keep the recovering Bottas behind him. At least someone can be relied upon at Haas. 8

Valtteri Bottas: This race weekend would have felt like a kick to the stomach for Bottas. He probably thought he did enough to clinch pole position, only for it be stolen away from him at the last second by his team-mate Hamilton.

And then all hopes of a Mercedes one-two on Sunday were crushed when Vettel caused him to pick up a rear left puncture and all the way at the back alongside the German when the track went green again. While Vettel was able to make relatively quick progress through the field, Bottas was further restricted by floor damage sustained in the collision and, to top it all off, a slow second pit stop and a late Virtual Safety Car limited the Finn to a P7 finish. 7

Carlos Sainz: Sainz can cast himself very unfortunate to finish down in P8 when he had both Kevin Magnussen and Valtteri Bottas behind him with just a handful of laps to go. You never want to lose engine power, but it would have hurt even more to experience that with the chequered flag almost in sight. The Spaniard was running as high as P3 after the first-lap carnage and qualified best of the rest on Saturday in tricky conditions. A good weekend for him, slightly undone by a pesky reliability issue. 7.5

Nico Hulkenberg: The Hulk admitted after qualifying that he “hadn’t found the love or harmony I usually have” with his Renault car in France, but a little bit of that would have come back after doing his part in delivering a double points finish for Renault. From P12, Hulkenberg made light work of Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean to ensure his run of points finishes extended to three races. 7

Charles Leclerc: This guy is the real deal. Leclerc is doing his chances of getting that Ferrari seat as early as next season no damage whatsoever after a stunning P8 in qualifying – the first time Sauber has been in Q3 since Monza 2015. He found himself ahead of Raikkonen when the Safety Car was deployed but was vulnerable to attack for most of the afternoon after that. He still did enough, though, to bag his fourth points finish of the season and second in a row. 8.5

Romain Grosjean: The wait for his first points of the 2018 season continues for Grosjean. He still puts it down to bad luck, but we are not entirely convinced. His latest crash, this time in Q3, put a swift end to all hope of perhaps finishing best of the rest in qualifying and then he was at the heart of the first-lap drama by causing a collision with Esteban Ocon. A five-second penalty would have stung, so too the fact that he finished just outside the points in P11. 5

Stoffel Vandoorne: The Belgian spent most of his race fighting with Grosjean, but even with the Frenchman’s penalty he still was not able to get ahead of him, such is the continued woefulness of the MCL33. It’s now 8-0 to Fernando Alonso in the qualifying battle. Show us at least something, Stoffel! 5.5

Marcus Ericsson: Recovered well to get himself into Q2 after his crash in FP1, but even when doing that he was still upstaged by the superior Leclerc with his performance. Managed to undercut Hartley with his pit-stop to come home in P13. 5.5

Brendon Hartley: After weeks of intense speculation about his future, it seems Red Bull are going to give the New Zealander a little more time. What he did not need was a whole new engine fitting after a blow -out in FP2 to leave him starting at the very back of the grid. The DNFs helped him get up to a slightly more respectable P14, but he is in desperate need of a clean weekend to showcase what he do on a even footing. 5.5

Sergey Sirotkin: Another largely uneventful weekend for the Russian rookie in the rotten Williams. The team tried to take advantage of the first lap drama by pitting under Safety Car conditions but points will have to remain a distant dream for Sirotkin, who was handed a five-second penalty for driving unnecessarily slowly behind the SC. The stewards seemingly unaware he is driving the FW41. 5

Fernando Alonso: Welcome back to Formula 1, Fernando. From the high of winning Le Mans to the big bump of dead last of the finishers at the French Grand Prix. We have seen the two-time World Champion work miracles in the, let’s face it, slow McLaren car but there was not even the slightest sign of that this weekend.

Alonso was unable to drag the car out from a Q1 exit and a spin when been overtaken by Vettel left the Spaniard with his work cut out. With brake and tyre issues then developing, Alonso gave up all hope and pitted for some glory laps toward the end to try and make a statement with the fastest lap. But, that plan went awry, too, limping home via the pit lane with a rear left puncture.

Please leave at the end of the season. It’s for your own good. 6

Did not finish

Lance Stroll: Stroll stated he wasn’t “a big fan” of the Paul Ricard circuit in his race preview and that will no doubt remain the case after this weekend. Another scruffy qualifying was followed up by his tyre going pop with just two laps to go. It was another case of some bad driving mixed with a bad car. 5

Sergio Perez: The Mexican was on the cusp of getting back into the points following a poor performance from Force India in qualifying on Saturday. But, he was forced to retire on lap 30 after the garage spotted an issue with that brand new Mercedes engine. 5.5

Pierre Gasly: Starting from P14, Gasly vowed to “try everything to get back in the points” but that dream came to a very abrupt end after hitting fellow countryman Esteban Ocon in the first couple of corners. It’s a second first-lap retirement of the season for the Frenchman. 5

Esteban Ocon: No joy for Ocon on his home Grand Prix weekend, either. He missed out on Q3 by a mere 0.020 seconds and then his race was all over in a instant. Ocon said that a collision with Grosjean at the start would have ended his race anyway, regardless of the coming together with Gasly seconds later. 5

 

 

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Ricciardo: I was driving ‘a wounded car’

Daniel Ricciardo has said his RB14 was “a wounded car” after some front wing damage caused him to slip out of the podium places at the French Grand Prix.

The Australian had been comfortably running in P3 for most of the race, but some debris caused parts of his front wing to break, leading to a lack in downforce.

“It seemed we were catching Max and pulling away from Kimi at the time and then when I pitted, the boys said the front left part of the wing was damaged,” Ricciardo said after the race.

The incident happened just before the Australian pitted for his only stop at Paul Ricard on Sunday afternoon.

“They think it happened about two laps before the pit stop because I started, all of a sudden, to get quite a lot of understeer,” the Red Bull man added.

“I don’t know if it was a failure or we hit some debris but that broke, so then already with the soft tyre, we were struggling when we left the pits and then I think a few laps later the team said the right part broke, so both parts identically seemed to break,” the Aussie continued. 

He was running P3 when it happened, but the issues caused him to slow enough for Kimi Raikkonen to get past him and take that final podium spot.

“Obviously because of that we had a lot less downforce and understeering so with Kimi, he was always going to catch us with that pace,” Ricciardo stated. “But as I said, we were a wounded car from just before the first pit stop.”

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Hear the one about the three French drivers?

Three Frenchman arrived at a grand prix, only one finished, no one scored. Pierre Gasly is blaming Esteban Ocon, Ocon is blaming Romain Grosjean and Grosjean says he’s innocent.

Sunday’s French GP saw three drivers all hoping to score points, however, a first lap collision, triggered by Grosjean, meant Ocon and Gasly retired.

Grosjean “turned into” Ocon as they tussled for position at the Circuit Paul Ricard.

As a result the Force India driver found himself side-by-side with Gasly where once again there was contact.

“Very disappointed,” said Ocon.

“I was alongside Romain for half of the straight and already I was on the edge of the track, one wheel outside the white line.

“He had nobody on his side on the right and suddenly he turned into me. It was a massive hit which launched me on the kerb and damaged my side.

“I think I would have retired from that actually. And then I keep going and in Turn 3 Pierre ends the job.

“It’s been so long since I wanted to race here. We prepared very hard and it ends after 3 corners. It’s just silly.”

Gasly believes the blame rests entirely with Ocon.

“I was behind Esteban and I saw he had damage on the car and then in Turn 3 I went on the inside and thought he had seen me and would leave me space, and he just took the corner like there was nobody (there) and it was impossible to avoid the contact.

“I’m sure he didn’t do it on purpose, but it’s just a very difficult moment now, especially to have a collusion between two French drivers of the comeback of the French GP.”

The stewards, though, blamed Grosjean who was penalised during the grand prix, handed a five-second timed penalty.

He response: “For what? It’s a f****** joke!”

The Haas driver finished the grand prix in 11th place as his run of point-less Sundays continues.

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Hamilton: Vettel penalty ‘doesn’t weigh up’

After winning the French Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon, Lewis Hamilton said that the penalty his title rival, Sebastian Vettel, was given did not “weigh up”.

The German went into the back of Hamilton’s team-mate, Valtteri Bottas, and was given a five-second penalty by the stewards.

“Ultimately you shouldn’t really be able to finish ahead of him if you took him out of the race,” Hamilton said. 

“We are all going into Turn 1 as hard as we could but ultimately when someone destroys your race through an error and it’s kind of a tap on the hand really, and [he is] just allowed to come back and still finish ahead of that person he took out. It doesn’t weigh up,” he continued.

“It’s disappointing for the team because we had a chance to get a one-two and that’s the ultimate goal,” the Brit added. “Valtteri really had done a solid job all weekend, as he has really been doing this year.”

Hamilton led the race from start to finish, after topping two practice sessions and qualifying on pole position.

The four-time World Champion said that after a couple of poor weekends, he was glad to have the team behind him.

“I feel very grateful, just grateful for a solid weekend. My guys [Mercedes team], I have been with them for six years and they just continually push the boundaries and they’re never giving up so I’m forever grateful for all their work,” Hamilton said.

The only worry for the Brit came at the start, where he went out into the lead with all the chaos happening behind him.

“The start was the closest [in needing to look in his mirrors] and then after that fortunately was very comfortable with the balance,” the reigning World Champion continued.

“Max [Verstappen] had really good pace, but fortunately I was able to eek out a little bit more when needed and maintain the gap when needed,” he added. “It got to something like 4.5 seconds and I kept it there.”

Hamilton took victory on a 26th different track in his Formula 1 career, extending his own record, and it was his first win in France.

“The weather was good and the fans have been crazy today. It has been really good to see so many people here at the French GP so for me personally, it is the best French GP I have ever had,” the Brit added.

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