Monthly Archives: April 2016

2016 Russian Grand Prix Drivers Press Conference Transcript


Here’s the official transcript from the 2016 Russian Grand Prix Drivers Press Conference as provided by the FIA as follows:-

DRIVERS – Felipe NASR (Sauber), Sergio PEREZ (Force India), Esteban GUTIERREZ (Haas), Jenson BUTTON (McLaren), Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes), Daniil KVYAT (Red Bull Racing)


Daniil, I’ll start with you, as it’s your home race. Twenty-second birthday this week also. You were fifth on the grid here in 2014 and fifth in the race last year but Red Bull’s performance in China must give you hope of improving on that this time out?

Daniil Kvyat (referred here after as DK):- Yeah, you know, lately we have been competitive on most of the tracks – doesn’t really matter, any kind really, starting with Australia, Bahrain, China we always looked in quite good shape. I think Sochi also in the past for us maybe hasn’t been the easiest track, as a team, but now we are just coming to any track and we are just trying to extract everything the car has got and I believe also here we can fight for quite strong points. We will do our best and I think the car is looking in great.

Obviously you’ve had time now to look at the video from the last race, of that start. Are you happy enough with everything that went on, with your moves during that race, or at the start?

DK:- Yeah, I’m very happy actually. I think everything confirmed my point of view. I think obviously everyone told their opinions on that incident, also the people involved. I think all in all I did what any competitive racing driver would do. But now I think there has been enough talk about it. Now it’s time to turn the page and move forward and now we are fully focused on the upcoming races.

Thank you. Nico, if we could come to you. Three wins from three. Formula One love a statistic and there have been plenty bandied about concerning your start to season – best start since 2004 for Michael Schumacher. However, you’re the one who has been sounding a note of caution through all that hyperbole. Lewis you’re obviously expecting to bounce back, but how real a threat over these three races has Ferrari been. Have you seen any evidence of what they are capable of yet?

Nico Rosberg (referred here after as NR):- I’m not really sounding any notes of caution, I’m just realistic and Ferrari, amongst others, just haven’t shown what they can do yet. They’ve taken each other out in the last race, for example, in the first corner and from then it was just messy, an an example. A lot of things have been going wrong and for sure they are a lot quicker than they have shown and we think they are very, very close to us.

Mika Hakkinen made some interesting comments earlier this week, I read, talking about your performance this season and what it takes to be a world class driver. I’ll read them: he said the road is long and painful and it doesn’t whether or not your father is a world champion or not, or whether you have friends and family beside you, ultimate a driver is alone in the process. Is that a fair analysis?

NR:- I didn’t know that.

Is that how you see it. Is a driver alone in the position that you’re in?

NR:- No. I’m not alone. I have our whole team. It’s a team sport in the end; alone I can’t achieve anything. Then the closer group, which is my family, friends, my management, physio and everything. Everything plays into it, everybody has their role and any success I have on the track they are a part of it.

Does it feel like there is a mental burden upon you? Last year, as well, when you were going for a championship, and this year, is there a greater mental burden in that. Does it become very tough?

NR:- I generally see it as a very pleasurable experience! Because it’s just an awesome feeling to come to a race track, to know that I have the car to be able to be on pole and win the race. I just look forward to it. So I’m here in Sochi and I can’t wait to get going and see where we are compared to our direct rivals and try to make it happen.

Thank you. Sergio, you’re celebrating your 100th grand prix presence this weekend and also coming back to the scene of one of your most memorable podiums, last year. That obviously must give you a good feeling for the weekend?

Sergio Perez (referred here after as SP):- Yes, definitely. When I come back here and I remember my great race that I had last year, not that long ago actually. It was a great feeling, a great achievement to the team. And as you say my 100th race [weekend]. It has gone really quickly, I really hope I can have a great race on Sunday to have a full achievement, you know, because my 100th race, it’s something very special as a driver to achieve and hopefully there’s hundreds more to come.

It hasn’t been the easiest start to the season for you; there have been some incidents during the race that have maybe hampered your progress. Those race incidents – have you been happy with the team’s reaction to those incidents during the race and the strategic decisions that have been made?

SP:- Obviously you always learn a lot after a race, after you have done the decisions. I think we have been affected a bit by strategy sometimes, the track position we’ve been having more than our pace. I think clearly in the last race we did a great race. I think we have improved quite a bit. But still we need a bit more especially in the race pace. I think our quali pace over one lap is good.

We have to improve our degradation and I think we have found the issues with the car. I think it’s just a question of time how quickly we can fix them. We are planning to have some upgrades for Barcelona. But I’m pretty confident it will be a good season for us, although right now we have zero points. We should have a couple of points already in the pocket, but the season is very long.

Felipe, if we could come to you. There’s been some talk in the run-up to this race about you getting a new chassis here. Can you give us the latest on that? Is it happening?

Felipe Nasr (referred here after as FN):- Yes, I can confirm I do get a new chassis here. You have to remember that a Formula One car is made up of many components and it’s just one part of it. I think it’s a sensible step from the team that we are looking further to discover these problems, these handling issues I’m having in the car. Since we put the car on track in Australia we’ve been having this very strange behaviour let’s say, it’s very unpredictable to drive the car. As I said, I can confirm, it’s a sensible step here and let’s see how the weekend goes.

Was there a definite problem with the chassis, the old one?

FN:- Not that they could identify. But as I said, there’s so many places to look at. For this we need resources, we need time. The cars haven’t been back at the factory. It was really good to have a full let’s say look to every detail if we could, but I’m sure they are doing everything they can on the things we have in our hands now.

It’s a good step we take on this, ticking the box now and seeing if there’s anything wrong with the chassis, and let’s see how the weekend goes. It’s been great here last year. I had one of my best races in Formula One. It’s a track that I like, so at least I have this good reference in my mind.

Esteban, we’ll come to you. You’ve also had a couple of difficult races at the start of the season but you completed a race distance in China. How much of relief was that, how much of a weight off your shoulder?

Esteban Gutierrez (referred here after as EG):- For sure it was a relief to finish the race finally. It’s been a frustrating start for me, a lot of interruptions over the weekends, but I wasn’t satisfied completely just by finishing the race of course, I want much more than that. China overall wasn’t a great track for our car. Hopefully we can recover from now on, in Russia, and that this track gives us better possibilities.

Last week you said the year you spent out, doing a lot of work in the simulator, had give you the opportunity to develop a range of driving styles that you may not have used before. How has that informed your approach to driving the car you have now?
EG:- It didn’t change the approach; it changed my knowledge. I basically experiment a lot. I used that time for it in the simulator, having different references. I made sure that that time, that year, was a benefit and not only a post time. I made sure of it and I really used everything, so I feel very confident and I feel very prepared right now and everything is in front of me.

Great, thank you. Jenson, finally coming to you. Would it be fair to say that this season so far McLaren has slightly flattered to deceive? There has been good performance on Friday and Saturday you’re on the cusp of Q3 but the races haven’t quite gone according to plan. What’s that down to, why are the races not panning out as you’d like to them to?

Jenson Button (referred here after as JB):- Not doing a good enough job possibly. I think the last race, if you look at it – it’s very difficult for a driver, because you come home 12th and 13th and it’s not where you want to be – but if you look at it compared to last year, every car finished in China. So it’s a big step forward to last year in China. In terms of where I think we are, yeah, our qualifying pace has been reasonable but I still don’t think we have shown our true potential in qualifying either.

We have been close to Q3. Circuits like this don’t really help us either, but I think when we get back to Europe it should be easier to show our pace in qualifying and hopefully in the race. Yeah, it’s moving forward but you always want more, you always want more. Formula One is so competitive right now.

For us I feel that having something new coming every race, aerodynamically and also with the power unit, it’s moving in the right direction, but we always want more. I think when we start scoring points on a regular basis we’ll be a lot happier, but that hasn’t happened.

Honda have said the power unit is ‘”nearly there”. Is that a fair analysis, is that what your experience has been?

JB:- It’s very difficult to know what ‘nearly’ means. I think we’re very happy with the way the deployment is this year, compared to last year. We’re a lot close to the other manufacturers, which is great. In terms of outright power, I don’t know. I don’t think anyone really knows, but we know there is still a lot of work to do and that’s the aim.


Q: (Angelique Belokopytov – Auto Digest) You drive in Formula One since more than 15 years and that means you have driven a lot of cars. Which style of car do you prefer? Today more complicated at a technical level or as you had in the past requiring more stylish driving or something like that?

JB:- I think it’s a very easy answer. I think the drivers that were racing back in 2004 will say the V10s, lots of downforce, a tyre war – but this isn’t were we are. We’re not there right now. It’s easy to look back and say the racing was better – and it probably was. And more fun to drive – but things have evolved and things have changed.

Technology is a big thing with Formula One and manufacturers are very interested in Formula One because of the technology and I know that Honda is – so we’re moving in a certain direction. I think Formula One can be as good as 2004 and hopefully that is soon.

Q: (Andrey Kortasha – TASS News Agency) Question to Daniil Kvyat. How much is it important for you to finish ahead of your team-mate at your home grand prix? Is it important for you?

DK:- I think it would be logical to say that it is always important to finish in front of as many people as possible and, since your team-mate is one of those other drivers of course you try to do your best and finish in front of him. Of course, you know I’ve got quite a tough team-mate to beat. Very talented, very strong driver, very good reference since then. To beat him you have to do an absolutely perfect job in qualifying and in the race.

And every time that happens I know it has been a really good day. Of course it’s only three races this season so far and it hasn’t been looking too bad. I think it can only get better as the season goes by. Let’s see where the end of the season is going to be.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – To all drivers. We had in the last race more than 150 overtakes and here we have just one pitstop predicted, considering the history of the grand prix. What scenario do you project for the weekend. Similar to the last one or something completely different: a more stable race let’s say.

EG:- Well, I think it is a very different type of track. Russia offers… yeah, let’s say a medium range of overtaking so it’s not very straightforward but hopefully the strategy can be a bit more viable, that we can have more pitstops. As you say, the prediction is not the case, but hopefully we have a fun race for the people outside to watch, and have fun.

Nico, is there much you can do on strategy at this race? It’s been a regulation one-stop in the past.

NR:- Yeah, strategy-wise that’s not going to make it as exciting probably as China, for example, in terms of overtaking. More straightforwards there. But, y’know, Turn One, for example, is still a good place to overtake on this track and we’ve seen some exciting stuff in past years. Not as much, of course, as China but some individual exciting moves so hopefully it will still be good. Let’s see.

Felipe, does the tyre choice you get now, will it make any difference here?

FN:- I think it’s very straightforward as well. Looking back to last year, we got basically the same compound and I think it’s the kind of track you can push pretty much every lap. I agree with Nico, it’s not going to have as much excitement as it was in Shanghai but it’s still a race. The time when to box, to know which tyres to start the race – sometimes a car is better on one compound, another is better on the other – so it’s still playing to whatever tyre adapts better to which car and how you take it into the race. But from what I remember, last year was good that we could push throughout the whole race.

Sergio, is it a good track for overtaking?

SP:- When you compare it to China, of course not because degradation, as Felipe says, is a lot lower here. It’s not as high as China. But I think if we have a straightforward race we’re going to see different strategies. We have an extra compound, having the medium this year, it might create something towards the end of the race, something different, especially if you are having people on the medium and others on the supersoft, that’s a two-step softer tyre so there might be the opportunity to overtake.

I don’t think we’ll see as much overtaking as China but it will be an interesting race in terms of strategy. This characteristic of Pirelli bringing three compounds might create a little bit of different strategies and at the same time more excitement in the race. I think last year the race was very exciting – but given the conditions and what happened all through the race. I think if we have a straightforward race we might see a more interesting race than in the past years. I don’t think we’re going to see many cars on one stop this weekend.

Jenson, your thoughts on it. Fernando did 40 laps I think on a supersoft last year. Is there much you can do? Is there any strategic variation?

JB:- None of us are muppets here, we know what the race is going to throw at us! It’s not going to be like last year, with the time of the year and the circuit temperature, it’s 20°C hotter than last year, so it’s not going to be as easy to do a one stop, I don’t think. It’s going to mix it up, which is great. I don’t think every race is going to be like Shanghai. I wish it was – but I don’t think it will be. But still I think this race will be an interesting race.

Dany, your thoughts on your home track. Red Bull have gone quite aggressive with tyre set choice here with ten supersofts for both you and Daniel

DK:- Yeah, I think obviously looking at last year, similar compounds to what it was last year and most of the people managed one stop I guess last year. Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad track actually for the debut of the Ultrasoft, I don’t know. But anyway, I think it is what it is, the same for everyone, and I still think the track offers some good opportunities for racing because there are long straights, so it can be quite exciting.

Q: (Krill Zaytsev – Question for Daniil. Please tell us more about relationships with your team-mate and, one more question, do you have number one and number two pilot in your team or you are equal with Ricciardo?

DK:- I think it’s a normal working relationship, we know each other for a while, we can share a joke outside the track like everyone, like normal,  I guess like everyone. But once it comes to the work I think we’re both focussed on our work because we’re both professionals and we have plenty of things to do over the race weekend. Regarding your second question, it’s not a very popular question to be honest. What defines Formula One is how fast you drive, how hard you work and then this brings you the result in the end. It’s the only thing.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Nico, after six wins in a row, can we say that this is the best Nico ever and is it possible for you to describe when the spark ignited, maybe because of the birth of your daughter or maybe they changed the modifications on the car?

NR:- First of all yeah, I’m the most experienced Nico since I gained experience last year and the last two years from battling for the championship. Definitely I’m pleased with the way I’ve been driving now in the first three races. For me, it’s not six in a row because the three last year were last year and they don’t count for anything in this year’s championship so for me it’s winning the first three which I’m really happy about but as I said, it’s because… yes, I’ve been driving really well but my opposition had a really messy start.

That’s the reality of it. I definitely expect them all to bounce back, especially Lewis and it’s going to be a great battle against them as always and it will be tough, even if I have some points lead now but it’s still such a long season: three races is a seventh or something of the whole thing. There’s like 450 points to take still and now I have 30-something  in front or whatever. There’s still a massively long way to go so it’s not really changing the situation much.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kvyat, I would like to know how different this car is to last year’s that allows you to do better performances? What is the strongest part of the car this year?

DK:- I think generally at the end of last year I think our car was behaving itself pretty well. Over the winter there hasn’t been any revolution, let’s say, in terms of the car. There were just a few ‘tidies up’ here and there on the chassis side. I think also the engine side also improved, there was a step forward and it was very pleasing to see and hopefully there will be another step forward coming at some point soon when we will be able to give a bigger fight to the competitors which are still ahead of us.

It would be very nice, especially in the last year we have been able to develop through the season quite nicely and I think that if we will have a similar rate of improvement we will become hopefully a headache for some people.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – We are reaching a moment where we are seeing nice races this year but everything will change dramatically for next season. There will be a more downforce in the cars, wider tyres and everything. This solution, from the drivers’ point of view, is the solution to make the show even better, to see more competition, to attract the public more?

NR:- Our opinion was that it’s not the right direction to go and we were hoping that they would definitely re-look into it and just make sure from a technical point of view to double check. Now this is the way it is, so now all we can do is accept it and make the most of it and hope that there are going to be some surprises.

Maybe we’re going to love the cars and enjoy driving them even more than we are now. Maybe all the grip is going to feel great or whatever. Now it’s just accept it and make the most of it.

Q: Jenson, was it worth waiting for some degree of convergence?

JB:- I concur.

DK:- Well, I’m not completely clear where we’re going to head but maybe it’s going to make it interesting because obviously for 2014 the regulations, everyone knew quite well in advance how the regulations were going to be, so some people could be better prepared for it, but now I think, as time to prepare is a bit limited, I think everyone might start in a very similar condition, which could lead to closer racing perhaps.

All the teams might be much closer and yeah, I think downforce, generated in the right way and mechanical grip from the tyres could be an interesting combination, also for racing, for us drivers to really reach some incredible speeds would really be quite cool.

Q: Sergio, is it a case that you accept what regulations are given to you? Do you drive the car that you’re given?

SP:- Yeah, I meant there’s nothing else you can do. I really hope that the sport goes in the right direction, that we can see more competition, closer teams as we’ve seen in the past. We’ve seen big gaps between the teams in the past. I really hope that we can have a much closer field and that the regulations and the direction we’re going in cannot create those sort of gaps, that we can close up the gaps.

In my opinion it’s what Formula One needs, it needs more competition rather than more downforce, it needs more competition across the teams.

Q: Esteban, is this regulation change something that could disadvantage a team like Haas, just coming in at the point it has come in?

EG:- Not disadvantage. My opinion is that the changes of having wider cars, wider tyres  is the right one because what we need is to increase the mechanical grip of the cars. In my opinion that will give us a better feeling when we are driving on the limit. What I’m not fully convinced about is obviously the increase in downforce which will naturally make overtaking more difficult or let’s say following a car more difficult.

The changes are there so as a driver, we don’t have an option, we just make the best of it. I think the cars will look spectacular so from that side of things it’s positive.

Q: Felipe, is it important to have a change like this in order to improve the show or did it need improving?

FN:- Well, I guess it is. I do believe changes can always bring different kinds of mixes and surprises, depending on how teams face it but all I can say is that in a team like Sauber at the moment it’s  difficult for them in the actual situation they are facing plus to have such a change to face next year is complicated.

You need to have the right resources and time, fighting against other things that they are facing now, so it is difficult but on the other hand, I think that from a driver’s point of view, I think the mechanical grip will be such a good thing for us drivers to have it back, as I think we are all pretty much leaning in that… trying to get this back in the car but I agree with the others, what they are saying about the downforce, is it exactly what is going to improve the show? We don’t know but let’s hope for the best.

Everybody’s here to try and do the best with what we have and what we can do as drivers but I think that’s pretty much it.

Q: (Angelique Belokopytov – AutoDigest) For all of you; Nico you were just saying that we just have to accept and do the best with it. Do you all agree with the fact that you have no word to say about what you’re doing on the track? You are making the race so why not have a part of the decision-making?

NR:- Actually we’ve been trying to get more involved and actually it’s moving in the right direction because the FIA is asking us more things now. They want to hear our opinion, asking us for get-togethers and so the process is going well, I think, and with time, let’s see where it goes.

We will try to be more and more involved because I think we can really give something additional to the direction of the sport, because we know a lot of things about what should be good for the sport, because we’re driving the cars in the end.

Q: Jenson, you concur again?

JB:- Yes.

SP:- I share the view of Nico.

Q: What I did wanted to ask was: drivers, the input that you have, when you’re driving the car, do you really know what is the best for the sport from the outside, because a driver will always want what’s best for a driver but can you make that valued judgement on what occurs?

JB:- You could say that for anyone that makes a decision, couldn’t you?

NR:- What I meant  was  we love the sport, all of us and I don’t say that we’re just going to say what we think is best for us driving in the car. We do think beyond that and think about everybody who’s in front of a TV screen,  supporting us and excited about this sport. That’s what we’re think about and we think that as a group we are wise enough to definitely give some added value for the future direction.

2016 Track Preview: Russian Grand Prix

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Nico Rosberg wins the Chinese Grand Prix ahead of Sebastian Vettel in second place and Daniil Kvyat in third place. Williams and Toro Rosso managed to score points from the race.

We will also see local GP2 driver Sergery Sirotkin making an appearance in FP1 for the Renault team and building upon the experience he gained with Sauber when he last appeared in F1 in 2014.

The Sochi Autodrom circuit (which was formerly known as Sochi International Street Circuit and Sochi Olympic Park Circuit) is a part of a venue used for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. The Olympic Park and the racing circuit is located in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, Krasnodar Krai, Russia ner the southern border.

The surface was not laid until after the closing ceremony of the Olympics. Hermann Tilke designed the track and the first Russian GP was given the green light by the FIA after the first official inspection in August 2014.

The circuit is partly integrated in the public road network and consists of two circuits. The long circuit is to be used only for Formula 1, the short circuit is supposed to function throughout the year to host multiple motorsport events. The large lap, including 1.7 kilometers of public roads, is 5.85 kilometers long and feature 19 corners, 12 right-handers and 7 left-handers.

The track width varies from 13 to 15 meters and the direction is clockwise. The track’s combination of straights and really fast corners makes it to one of the fastest Formula One tracks. The top speed is about 320 km/h.

Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone signed a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin in October 2010 for Sochi to host the Russian Grand Prix from 2014 to 2020. The Russian government spent about 200 million dollars to build the circuit that hosted the country’s first ever Formula 1 grand prix.

It fulfilled a long-held ambition of Putin’s for Russia to be part of the multi-million dollar Grand Prix circuit, former attempts to stage a race at Moscow and St Petersburg having failed.

And here are the facts and figures as we head into the race weekend in Sochi…

Facts and Figures:-

  • Sochi has hosted the Grand Prix since 2014.
  • Lewis Hamilton is the most successful driver at the track with one win.
  • Mercedes is the most successful constructor to win the Grand Prix with one win.
  • Race distance: 310km
  • Number of turns: 18
  • Laps: 53
  • Top speed: 336kph
  • Lap record: Valtteri Bottas- Williams (2014)- 1.40.896

Past winners of the Russian Grand Prix:-

  • 2014- Lewis Hamilton
  • 2015- Lewis Hamilton

My top five finishers of the Russian Grand Prix:-

In no particular order, here’s my top five predictions for the Russian Grand Prix as follows:-

  1. Nico Rosberg
  2. Lewis Hamilton
  3. Sebastian Vettel
  4. Kimi Raikkonen
  5. Valtteri Bottas

Based on what the top five drivers have managed to achieve in the first few Grand Prixs, I believe that Rosberg might have the edge over Hamilton this weekend in Sochi. With Rosberg winning his first races of the season, he will want to keep up this form for as long as possible.

Hamilton will also want to repeat his performance from last year and gain on the championship gap that Rosberg has and also keep Vettel behind him as well who I believe could challenge the Mercedes pairing this year; provided that Ferrari keep going in the same direction they are currently. And finally, I believe that Raikkonen and Bottas could both have solid weekends provided that they are able to get the right set ups on their cars over the weekend.

Do you agree with my predictions for this weekend? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Sky Sports F1 are showing uninterrupted coverage of every Practice session, Qualifying and race for the Grand Prix (and every race of the season) and the BBC also are showing coverage, details for both are below:-

  • Sky Sports F1:- Friday (Practice 1 and 2) 7.45am and 11.45am [Replays throughout Friday], Saturday (Practice 3 and Qualifying) 9.45am and 12.00pm [Replays throughout Saturday], Sunday (Race) 11.30am
  • Channel Four- Saturday (Qualifying highlights) 5.30pm, Sunday (Race highlights) 6.00pm

2016 Russian Grand Prix Press Conference Schedule


Here’s the official press conference schedule ahead of the 2016 Russian Grand Prix as provided by the FIA as follows:-

All times are local (Russia is +3 GMT)

Thursday, 28th April, 3pm (12pm GMT)

  • Jenson Button (McLaren)
  • Esteban Gutierrez (Haas)
  • Daniil Kvyat (Red Bull)
  • Felipe Nasr (Sauber)
  • Sergio Perez (Force India)
  • Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)

Friday, 29th April, 4pm (1300 GMT)

  • James Key (Toro Rosso)
  • Ayao Komatsu (Haas)
  • Paul Hembery (Pirelli)
  • John McQuilliam (Manor)
  • Otmar Szafnauer (Force India)
  • Beat Zehnder (Sauber)

Saturday 30th April

Post qualifying press conference from top three qualifiers

Sunday 1st March

Post race press conference from top three finishers

John Booth joins the Toro Rosso team


It was announced yesterday that former Manor team principal John Booth has joined the Toro Rosso Formula 1 team on a “consultancy basis”, in the role of director of racing.

Booth left Manor at the end of last season having resigned along with sporting director Graeme Lowdon because of what is understood to be a difference of opinion with owner Stephen Fitzpatrick.

The Englishman has since started the new Manor Endurance Racing squad with Lowdon, fielding two ORECA-Nissan 05s in the LMP2 class throughout this year’s World Endurance Championship.

He will dovetail those duties with his Toro Rosso role, which he will begin at this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix in Sochi. In an interview with the media yesterday, Booth is delighted to have joined the team and cannot wait to start in his new role. Booth said the following:-

‘It is a great honour to join such a well-established and competitive team as Scuderia Toro Rosso.  It is a team that has achieved so much in a relatively short space of time. I am looking forward to getting started and working with [team boss] Franz [Tost] and the team this weekend in Sochi.’

In his own interview with the media yesterday, Toro Rosso Team principal Franz Tost added the following about Booth joining the team as follows:-

‘I have known John for many years and I am delighted to welcome him to the team. Formula 1 is becoming ever more complex, with recent changes on the tyre front, car set-up, radio communications and so forth.

‘Therefore, having a competitive car and talented drivers, both of which we have, on its own is not enough. With his vast experience I am sure John will help the team raise its game and become a more effective force over a race weekend.’

Sirotkin gets FP1 drive in Sochi with Renault


It was announced yesterday that Russian GP2 driver Sergey Sirotkin will take part in the opening practice session of the Russian Grand Prix weekend for Renault after joining the team as a test driver on a “long term development plan”.

Further details of the contract were not released, but Sirotkin will substitute for Kevin Magnussen in FP1 on Friday in the Renault RS16. It will be the second time the Russian has driven an FP1 session at his home race after taking part in first practice at the inaugural Russian Grand Prix in 2014.

In an interview with the media yesterday, Sirotkin believes it is a great opportunity for him, is thankful for the opportunity and is determined to do the best job he possibly can. Sirotkin said the following:-

‘This is a great opportunity for me, although it has all come together so quickly. I still can’t quite believe it. This is, however, the moment that all young racing drivers are working towards, and I am determined to learn as much as I can, as quickly as I can, doing the best possible job for the team while driving in free practice one.

‘Renault Sport, which I would like to thank, has shown many times that it is the best place for a driver to start his Formula One career, and I intend to make the most of this opportunity. My commitment to challenge for the GP2 Series title will be enhanced by such a great chance and I would like to thank SMP Racing for the great support given to my career, commencing in Sochi, in front of my compatriots.’

In his own interview with the media yesterday, Renault racing director Frédéric Vasseur added the following about Sirotkin driving for the team in FP1 at Sochi as follows:-

‘Sergey is one of the most promising drivers from the junior categories so it is great for us that he is joining Renault Sport. We saw that he was the most promising rookie in the GP2 Series last season, where he achieved a race win and podiums, and for 2016 he is very well placed to fight for the title.

‘He has driven the Sochi Autodrom in a GP2 Series car previously so we have confidence in the job he will be able to do for us this weekend. For Renault Russia it is a good opportunity to harness the growing popularity of Russian motorsports, starting this weekend with the Russian Grand Prix and looking forward to the Moscow ePrix, which will be held again near the walls of the Kremlin on 4 June.’

Hungaroring signs extension until 2026


It was announced last week that Hungaroring has signed an extension to its deal to host the Hungarian Grand Prix through to 2026.

The circuit’s deal was extended to 2021 three years ago but work has continued to resurface the track, while further governments are being allocated from next year for redevelopment of facilities. The circuit has not missed a year since joining the calendar in 1986 and has become a popular fixture in that time, with memorable wins for Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel in the last two seasons.

In an interview with the media last week, Bernie Ecclestone said the following about the extension as follows:-

‘Yep, we’ve a new deal. They’re good supporters, they do a good job, good for the country, good for us, and I’m very, very happy we’re always in Hungary, and we’re staying there.’

The Budapest circuit has made a profit for the last five years and in his own interview with the media last week, Hungary’s national development minister, Miklos Sesztak says it made sense to keep improving the facilities to secure a long-term F1 future. Seztak stated the following-

‘Without giving out secrets regarding the details of our contract, I can tell you we’ll be able to organise and run our F1 race for another five-year period under very favourable terms,” Sesztak is quoted as saying. “However, despite the fact that after the grand prix everybody seems to be satisfied, saying they’ve had a great time here, we know further improvements are needed.

‘The resurfacing work that has just finished was the first step in this direction. I can reveal the 2017 [governmental] budget submits substantial resources earmarked for the development of the circuit. This is because every year the race is one of the most important sporting events for our country, so the government of Hungary is committed to a good quality track such as the Hungaroring.’

FIA approves Pirelli’s 2017 test plan


It was announced yesterday that Pirelli has been granted permission for an extensive test programme to develop its 2017 tyres.

On Monday the F1 Commission and Strategy Group unanimously approved a test programme for Pirelli’s 2017 wider rubber, which is part of the revamped cars hoping to gain a significant increase in lap time next year. The result means the number of Pirelli test days increases from 12 to 25, which can be used at any point over the next three years.

In a statement to the media, an FIA statement said the following:-

‘The further testing was deemed to be essential for the purpose of developing the new tyre sizes permitted by the 2017 F1 Technical Regulations. The changes will allow 25 car days of testing with current cars, fitted with 2017 tyre sizes, in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

‘In addition, there will be an opportunity to test prototype 2017 tyres (in 2016 sizes) on 2013 or 2014 cars – these tests on older cars only apply in 2016.’

Pirelli had warned it would walk away from the sport if the programme was not ratified as it did not feel it could adequately develop new compounds without it. The approval means Pirelli is likely to sign off on its contract to remain the sole tyre supplier in Formula One until 2019.

Five teams have agreed to supply a 2015 car for modification in the Pirelli tests.

Niki Lauda handed Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award


Over the weekend, Triple world champion Niki Lauda was presented with a Lifetime Achievement award at the Laureus World Sports Awards.

Current Mercedes non-executive chairman Lauda was presented with the award by Lewis Hamilton and actor Daniel Bruhl, who played the Austrian in the critically-acclaimed 2013 film Rush about the 1976 Formula One season. It was the year of Lauda’s close fight with James Hunt and horrific crash at the German Grand Prix, which left him with severe burns.

Lauda, who won the title in 1975, 1977 and 1984, said his award was a good reminder of the harder days he endured during his career.

Speaking at the ceremony, Lauda said the following about receiving the award as follows:-

‘Thank you very much for this award, I know it’s very important. But I want to say one thing, I’ve seen a lot of people here winning and losing. So I’d like to dedicate this award to the losers. Because I can tell from my own experience, winning is one thing, but out of losing I always learned more for the future. So one grows stronger in losing.

‘One thing that is really worrying me is the world is not turning in the right direction. But sport should be the best ambassador for the future generation to get us closer together again. This is really important for me.’

Tennis ace Novak Djokovic claimed the World Sportsman of the Year award, which Hamilton had been nominated for after his dominant 2015 success. Max Verstappen missed out on the Breakthrough of the Year award, which went to golf’s Jordan Spieth.

Hamilton: Horrifying race but positive experiences


In an interview with the media today, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton feared his seventh place finish at the Chinese Grand Prix would result in a bigger points deficit to team-mate Nico Rosberg in the drivers’ championship.

Rosberg won his third race in a row on Sunday to extend his advantage over Hamilton to 36 points in the standings, while Hamilton sustained damage in a first corner collision and battled back to seventh. Despite the low finishing position, in his interview with the media today, Hamilton took some positives from Sunday’s race. Hamilton said the following:-

‘A pretty horrifying race really but there’s some good experiences, with the overtaking. At one point I went around somebody around the outside of Turn 7 and around the outside of someone at Turn 8 so I love doing that stuff you know — catching people where they are not expecting it and even with the damage on the car. So there are some proud moments out there today, but is it 50 something points now?’

When he was told it was 36, he added the following:-

’36 behind? Oh ok. That’s not as bad as I thought, I feel pretty good right now. I thought it was 50 points so I was like… wow.’

It is clear that luck hasn’t been kind to Hamilton since the start of the 2016 season, but it is great to see Hamilton is still in positive spirits and still hasn’t given up hope of retaining his championship either. But you can be sure that Hamilton will learn from today’s race and use this as motivation to aspire to for the rest of the season ahead.

The damage to his car was caused by the front wing folding under the car after contact with Felipe Nasr and breaking part of the floor. He was able to pit for a new front wing, but Hamilton further on in his interview believes that the damage to the floor was of a similar magnitude to the damage he sustained at the start of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Hamilton added the following:-

‘It felt similar, but I’m not aware if it was worse and it doesn’t look as bad. I got a good start and was taken it very cautious once I got into Turn 1. Kimi went off, and a couple of the others — I don’t know if they touched — but I was trying to avoid them when Kimi came on. As I went to the inside, one of the cars on the inside was trying to avoid Kimi and turned into me.’

Overall, it is clear what Hamilton believes happened to him in the race today and there is nothing he could have done about that apart from resolve what happened and drive his own race as a result of that as well. But even though things didn’t go his way in Shanghai today, all Hamilton can do is learn from today and work on getting prepared for Sochi in two weeks time as much as possible and try to regain ground on Rosberg if he wants to retain his title which will be his ultimate aim.

Ricciardo: Puncture cost me second place today

Daniel Ricciardo

In an interview with ESPN F1 today, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo says his early puncture at the Chinese GP hurts a lot” because he is sure it cost him a place on the podium.

Ricciardo got a great start off the line in Shanghai and beat the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg into Turn 1. He led the two laps but soon ran over debris from the first-corner chaos and suffered a spectacular rear left tyre failure on the long backstraight, though he was able to bring his Red Bull home to the pits.

The Australian turned in a brilliant drive to finish fourth, behind teammate Daniil Kvyat, but he has stated in his interview with ESPN F1 today, that he is convinced he would have been celebrating on the podium were it not for the early blowout. Ricciardo said the following:-

‘Part of me hurts a lot right now. I think we should be standing second on the podium but it didn’t’ happen. The positives are the pace was really good, I think I recovered and the team recovered with me — we drove an amazing race, a perfect race. Just a shame we don’t get some champagne.’

Even though the puncture was very unlucky for Ricciardo, there is no doubt that this acted on him failing to capitalise on his starting position on the grid for the race today. But he put in a great drive and he should be proud of what he achieved today.

When asked further what happened, Ricciardo added the following:-

‘Not sure why, no. There was a bit of debris on the first lap and when we came around lap two I saw some debris on the track. Obviously I tried to avoid it, so I don’t know if it was anything like that — it just came very, very suddenly.

‘I did the start I needed and around Turn 11, Turn 12, I felt already something was wrong. I came on the radio and said the tyres were finished. A couple of seconds later the tyre burst and that’s where we lost the lead but also had to pit, then the safety car put us even further back.’

From what Ricciardo has stated today, there is no way he could have avoided the debris or predicted that would end up on the track and he did the best that he could do when he saw it on the track and just had to deal with the situation when it arose and regain back ground after dealing the issue.

Despite his frustration, Ricciardo admits in the latter stages of his interview that he is “immensely proud” of the drive he turned in after his puncture. Ricciardo stated the following:-

‘The puncture was unlucky, and then the safety car put us even further back. So we restarted 17th, so to get through Hamilton and the Williams at the end, and the pace we had, I’m definitely proud.

‘I am immensely proud of the way I recovered and the way the team got me back on track. We did the best we could. We closed it up. I could see Danny down the back straight in the last few laps. I know I could not catch him. Of course for the team it is awesome to finish third and fourth. We should be second, that is a fact, but that is racing. It is unlucky, but it sucks, it really does.’

Ricciardo for me sums it up best; he couldn’t have done anything more in that race. He tried to avoid the debris, he was unlucky to have picked up that puncture but he dealt with the issue and drove his heart out to get some points today; even though he did deserve more than that for his efforts.

But total respect to Daniel for congratulating his team mate on what he achieved today in the race and Ricciardo knows that the team are capable of achieving results like that this season; even if many fans doubted their ability to do so especially after the Renault engine saga last season.

All Ricciardo, Kvyat and Red Bull can do is analyse the data from today, use it as a foundation on which to build upon for the rest of the season and see what happens for the rest of the season. Because there is no doubting that if Ricciardo gets into a position like that again, he will be up for the fight and will give it everything he has got as well. That has never been questioned.