Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Flavio Briatore thinks Vettel made too many mistakes. No kidding? Really?
    Flavio Briatore thinks Vettel made too many mistakes. No kidding? Really?

    Vettel had wrong approach in 2018 – Briatore

  • 'Years' until Renault title success – Hulkenberg
  • New favorite emerges for Toro Rosso seat
  • Marchionne's death has had 'major impact' on Ferrari's performance
  • How Verstappen screwed Vettel in Japan

Vettel had wrong approach in 2018 – Briatore
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel did not have the right approach to be world champion in 2018.

That is the view of former title-winning Benetton and Renault team boss Flavio Briatore.

Ferrari's Vettel is being roundly criticized for mistakes that, despite earlier having the better car, have dropped him far behind championship rival Lewis Hamilton.

Mercedes' Hamilton defended him.

"I feel the media need to show a little more respect for Sebastian," he wrote on social media. "You simply cannot imagine how hard it is to do what we do at our level."

But Italian Briatore agrees with those who think Vettel threw the title away.

"He will finish second, and it's always a fine line between the winner and the first loser," he told Bild newspaper. "I think Sebastian made a lot of mistakes this year.

"He must learn that a race is 53 laps, not just one. You don't have to win every race to be world champion, you have to keep scoring.

"Vettel races for race wins, and that's not how it works."

Briatore acknowledged, however, that Ferrari also "made a lot of strategy mistakes in the last three or four races".

Ross Brawn, who is Liberty Media's F1 sporting boss but arguably more famous for his earlier role at Ferrari, praised the Italian team for catching up with Mercedes this year.

He said: "There is no doubt that the sudden death of Sergio Marchionne had huge consequences. He was such an important figure within the team."

Brawn said he has lived through plenty of Ferrari crises, explaining: "That's why I know it's now time to put heads together, stay united and look ahead without blaming one another.

"An unwritten rule in every sport, not just formula one, is that the drivers, engineers and management all win and lose together.

"Everyone at Maranello knows that too," he is quoted by Speed Week.

'Years' until Renault title success – Hulkenberg

Nico Hulenberg - no hope
Nico Hulkenberg – no hope for Renault

(GMM) It will take Renault a "few years" to be ready for a world title bid.

That is the admission of Nico Hulkenberg, who next year will be joined at the French works team by Red Bull superstar Daniel Ricciardo.

At the Paris motor show, the German driver admitted that Renault's performance has tapered off in the most recent stage of the 2018 season.

"The battle is tight in the middle of the grid," Hulkenberg told L'Equipe.

"The other teams have worked a lot to make life difficult for us and we haven't looked very good. But we still have a good car and I think we can improve in the last four races and keep fourth place.

"Fourth is an improvement over last year. We are going in the right direction," he added.

"I arrived last year and I've seen the team grow enormously with the investments made by Renault. The premises and equipment were improved and there were more people hired and more resources.

"Everything that can be expected from a manufacturer is there.

"Our ambition is always to be at the front, fighting for podiums and victories in a few years, but we are still in the development phase. I think we have put in place the structure we can build on in the next few years," Hulkenberg said.

New favorite emerges for Toro Rosso seat

Pascal Wehrlein is said to have a sizable check to buy a Toro Rosso ride. He is not a Red Bull junior, but money buys anyone a ride in F1
Pascal Wehrlein is said to have a sizable check to buy a Toro Rosso ride.

(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko has admitted that Pascal Wehrlein is on the list of contenders to be Daniil Kvyat's teammate at Toro Rosso next year.

Pierre Gasly is moving on to Red Bull Racing, but Brendon Hartley's place at the energy drink company's junior outfit is not secure for 2019.

"The results don't exactly show it, but I know I've got stronger at every race," said the New Zealander.

"I'm just focusing on doing the best I can one race at a time and hoping that I'm on the grid next year."

Dr Marko, in charge of the Red Bull driver program, admits the list to potentially replace Hartley is long.

He joked to Germany's Auto Bild that, when "arranged alphabetically", former Mercedes protege Wehrlein's name is "very far down" the list.

Plenty of other drivers are rumored to also be on the list, but a new favorite has now emerged.

His name is Alexander Albon, a Briton with a Thai heritage who is currently second overall in Formula 2.

The 22-year-old has historical links with Red Bull, and according to Auto Bild, he has reportedly driven Mercedes' F1 simulator at Brackley this year.

Marchionne's death has had 'major impact' on Ferrari's performance

Marchionne - smoking killed him way to young
Marchionne – smoking killed him way to young

Formula 1 Managing Director of Motorsports Ross Brawn attributes the death of "strong" leader Sergio Marchionne to its downfall.

“As was the case last year, in September and October Ferrari seems to have gone off the rails," said Brawn.

“Up until Monza, the Scuderia had seemed capable of fighting for both titles all the way to the end, but the trips to Singapore, Russia and Japan put a stop to that, particularly in the Drivers’ classification.

“As an outsider it’s always difficult to give a correct assessment as to why this has happened.

“It’s obvious from even a brief analysis of the way the car behaves that Ferrari has a very strong technical package, thanks to the efforts of the past few years which has seen the team close a technical gap to Mercedes that had developed since the introduction of hybrid power units in 2014.

“Compared to last year, even Ferrari’s reliability has improved. So where’s the problem?

“There is no doubt the shock of the sudden death of its leader, Sergio Marchionne, who had been such a strong reference in the team, will have a major impact, and that is totally understandable."

“Having experienced many crises myself during my time with Ferrari, what I know is that this is the time to come together, stay united and look ahead, without resorting to recrimination and playing the blame game," he said.

“Drivers, engineers and management all win and lose together, which is an unwritten rule in every sport, not just Formula 1. Everyone at Maranello knows that.

“Now is the time to try and turn things around and finish in style a season that has many positives."

How Verstappen screwed Vettel in Japan

Verstappen screwed both Ferrari drivers in Japan
Verstappen screwed both Ferrari drivers in Japan

Vettel's weekend started to unravel when Ferrari chose to send both drivers out at the end of qualifying on intermediate tires following a short rain shower, when in fact the track was almost bone dry and they had to come back in immediately for slicks.

That put both drivers under pressure with rain fast approaching again. Vettel made a big mistake on his lap and could qualify only ninth, which became eighth after a grid penalty for Force India's Esteban Ocon.

The need for Vettel to fight his way up through the field was always going to increase the risk of something going wrong – and so it proved.

He was quickly up to fourth place by the end of the first lap, but his attempt to make further progress faltered at the first attempt.

The Ferrari driver went for a move on Verstappen at Spoon Curve as soon as he got a chance. He attacked on the inside, Verstappen turned in, the pair touched and Vettel spun to the back, for the second time in four races.

I can understand the move from Vettel's point of view. He had the run, there was a gap on the inside and he went for it.

People can argue that he should have been more careful considering he's fighting for the championship, but that went out of the window long ago. He was 50 points down heading into the weekend and, with Hamilton leading the race, Vettel didn't have a lot of time for caution. He needed to grab the bull by the horns.

He had a huge closing speed, because Verstappen started 'clipping' (energy harvesting, meaning he was missing 160bhp) at the end of the straight. It was an instinctive move for Vettel to go to the inside. But it didn't pay off.

If he had waited until after Spoon, he would have had a better chance to make the move into the chicane at the end of the lap, a much more conventional overtaking spot. I'm sure in hindsight Vettel is aware of this as well.

In a split-second decision, his race was effectively over, and that has been the case all too often for Vettel this year in his championship bid. Moments of misjudgment have cost him a lot. The German and Italian Grands Prix in the summer were the obvious cases of this.

Lewis Hamilton: 'Media need to show Sebastian Vettel more respect'
Verstappen had his own share of blame in this incident. Arguing afterwards that "in that corner you can't overtake," isn't a sensible or reasonable explanation. It was proved that you can. Vettel passed many other cars at that corner, including Romain Grosjean's Haas for sixth.

The Dutchman also said he left Vettel space, which in fact he didn't. He saw him coming and actually didn't leave a car's width on the inside. Vettel had no space on the track at the apex. The only space was if he had got well up onto the apex curb, which in itself unsettles the car and would have thrown him into Verstappen.

In the end, Vettel spun and Verstappen carried on, with a strong drive to third. But, as with Hamilton and Vettel's collision at the second chicane in Monza last month, it could easily have been the other way.

In Italy, Vettel spun, Hamilton won and it was a turning point in the season. At Suzuka, it could have been Verstappen spinning off, and Vettel claiming a podium. I still think it would be a racing incident if that was the case and Verstappen would have only himself to blame. Jonathan Palmer/BBC

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