Monthly Archives: June 2016

2016 Austrian Grand Prix Drivers Press Conference Transcript

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

DRIVERS – Esteban GUTIÉRREZ (Haas), Felipe NASR (Sauber), Kevin MAGNUSSEN (Renault), Daniil KVYAT (Toro Rosso), Daniel RICCIARDO (Red Bull Racing), Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN (Ferrari)
PRESS CONFERENCE

Daniil, can we start with you. Good qualifying last time out in Baku but results are proving hard to come by at the moment. Are you now fully settled back in with the team and what are your goals for the rest of the season?

Daniil Kvyat (referred here after as DK):- Yeah, I think step by step it was coming better and better. We had a few competitive, in terms of pace, weekends and Baku wa certainly one of them, starting from the third row. That was already a good achievement, even though of course the points are given on Sunday, that’s why we didn’t manage to finish let’s say.

But I think there are plenty of races left, things are coming better and better and I’m feeling more settled in the team. They are giving me lots of support because obviously coming in like this wasn’t very simple but now things are more clear and I’m just enjoying racing. I’m enjoying myself and to be honest I’m having a really good time.

This is another power circuit obviously. Are we starting to see the effects of your one-year old power unit versus all the current units?

DK:- Yeah, we do. To be honest, already Baku was one of those tracks where it wasn’t meant to be easy for us but nevertheless we found good compromises and managed to make a good Saturday. I think here is going to be another very difficult weekend for us. Obviously it is a power-limited track and most of the time on the straight it’s not the biggest friend of us. Still, you know, we have to keep fighting and play the best game with the cars we have in hand, so we will just do our best and then we will see where we are.

Thank you for that. Felipe, coming to you, you won the GP2 feature race here back in 2014 and you made the most of the package in Baku, getting into Q2 and then racing up to P12. How satisfied were you with that result, which I think was your best of the season so far?

Felipe Nasr (referred here after as FN):- Oh, it was pretty good, you know. I think it was one of the very first trouble-free weekends I had and I was able extract the maximum from the car, from the strategy. We actually had pretty good pace in the race, able to fight the McLarens and I was pretty close to the top 10. I mean, not enough but it was a decent weekend, you know. If we can have something similar here and if we c a n have a bit of fortune on our side then maybe we can score our points of the season.

It’s your second year in Formula One. Looking at the rest of the field and prospects for your team, where do you go from here, do you think, looking forward?

FN:- Where do I go from here? [Laughs]. Well, we still have 13 races to go, there’s so much to go on yet, so many things to roll and happen. I’m still fully committed to the team I’m pretty sure. The situation seems to have got better from what I hear – getting all the employees and the salaries paid it juts gives a boost to everyone back at the factory, at the track. I’m sure we can soon start updating the car. All we want is the results on the track, which I think we can have pretty soon. So we just got to keep on doing what we can for now.

Thanks for that. Esteban, Haas has fallen from fifth in the Constructors’ recently to eighth, but you personally have been on a bit of an upward curve, you out-qualified your team-mate in Monaco and Canada. What’s been making the difference for you?

Esteban Gutierrez (referred here after as EG):- Well, I’ve been pretty unfortunate in the first part of the season. It hasn’t been easy to have a lot of technical issues. It wasn’t very straightforward. Therefore, I believe it wouldn’t be fair to rate my season based on the points, because I’ve been in a lot of positions to score the points in many races and not been able to finish the race because of different reasons that were not in my control, so now it’s been improving a bit.

It hasn’t been easy in the last three grands prix because of my health, but now I feel much better so now I’m looking forward to the next four grands prix, which are pretty close together.

The F1 paddock is now starting to think and talk about next year, new contracts and such. Have you started that process yet with Haas?

EG:- Yeah. I know pretty much where I’m going, so…

OK, sounds good. Kevin, coming to you, there have been some notes of optimism coming through from the team’s pre-race preview materials. What is it about your car that’s really not worked recently and that gives them some optimism about this race track?

Kevin Magnussen (referred here after as KM):- I think we have tried some very different things to learn about the car, to get a better understanding of the car we have and basically we are going back now to something we know and that gives a little bit of optimism. I don’t think it’s going to a lot better than previous races but hopefully we will be able to know what we have and to get a better weekend.

Looking at it from the outside it would make sense to stop developing this car and focus 100% on 2017, but what are you, as a driver, asking for and what’s on the horizon?

KM:- As a driver what you care about at the end of the day is winning and we are so far off that that in my mind I would be fine to switch focus completely, because we are clearly not going to win with this car. The sooner we can start winning the happier I am and that’s what I want to focus on, so shifting focus as quick as possible I think is the best thing. But I am not team principal and there is a reason for that. Maybe more qualified people take these decisions but I trust whatever the team is doing.
Thanks for that. Kimi, coming to you, 99th race start for Ferrari this weekend, puts you fourth on the all-time list for the Ferrari team. There has been quite a lot of discussion externally, ie within the media and among other teams as well, about Ferrari’s strategy decision-making in the last few grands prix. I know you have been on the wrong side of it a couple of times. Have you reviewed it internally and will you be approaching it any differently as a team?

Kimi Raikkonen (referred here after as KR):- No I think we did the best that we could. Obviously people outside the team can talk as much as they want. We cannot control them and it’s not our business. We work as a team, one group as Ferrari and obviously we always look at what we done over the weekends afterwards and we try to learn on everything, good and bad things.

I think it hasn’t been easy weekends for us lately but I think we managed to turn them around quite well as a team. There are some decisions that have to be made over the races and we had no issues with them. We tried to make the best out of it as a team. Obviously certain situations have changed a few things in the last race, but it’s a normal thing.

We’re now coming into that traditional part of the season where the Formula One paddock speculates about your seat at Ferrari for the following year. Do you have any clarity on whether you will carry on next year?

KR:- I don’t know. I know that I have a contract for this year and I don’t know what will happen next year. A lot of talk. A lot of talk every year I would say since I’ve been in F1. It’s nothing new. Same story really – people can say what they want and discuss but they have very, very little understanding of what’s happening and then this I’m not signing the contract.

Well, if I was making the decisions then it would be very easy to tell what will happen, but I don’t. We’ll see. We’ll try to do our best and for sure the team knows my side of the story. That’s enough from me. The rest I have no interest to talk about it in here or anywhere else, apart from with the team.

Thank you for that. Daniel, your 27th birthday tomorrow I believe, entering your prime I guess. Just a pair of seventh places in the last two grands prix though, whereas you had a chance to win the two before that. Is it all about the engine or have you personally lost a little bit of momentum?

Daniel Ricciardo (referred here after as DR):- I haven’t lost anything. We had Canada, yeah, I think we could have done better than seventh. The second set of tyres flat-spotted and would have tried to maybe do a one-stop race if that wasn’t the case and that could have been a different story. Baku – I think it is a power circuit but also we knew we had gone a bit wrong after three laps in the race. We struggled a lot with tyres.

We probably just haven’t executed the perfect weekend I’d say since… probably not for a while, but I think performance-wise there’s still more in there. We’re better than seventh, that’s probably what I’m getting at. This circuit will test us this weekend. Historically, the last couple of years it hasn’t been a strong one for us, but we’ll see. We’ll try to do what we can, hopefully better than seventh.

There’s been quite a bit said recently about your contractual position over the next couple of seasons – discussions about Ferrari, but also discussions about options been taken up for the next couple of years. Can you confirm today that you are staying with Red Bull until at least the end of 2018?

DR:- Yeah. Yeah.

A little more detail, a little more flesh on the bones.

DR:- Every word I say… one word turns into 10, and then 30 and 50. So, I’ll just leave it at that.

But obviously a big part of that is it is your own decision to do that rather than take any other options or look at other options?

DR:- Absolutely. It goes both sides for sure. It’s a bit like what Kevin touched on. We want to win. This year is going to be tough for a world title but obviously where we are this year is where we are. You can’t do anything about that now. But looking ahead to next year and spending time with the team and seeing what’s ahead I think it’s the best place to be to try to challenge Mercedes, so that’s where it stems from.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q (Peter Farkas – Auto Motor) Question to all of you. Obviously at the last race a couple of drivers, including Kimi, had some problems with the radio restrictions. We are now into the ninth race of the season and the new radio rules. What are your stances on this one? Lewis Hamilton said it’s impossible to memorise all the settings that you have on the steering wheel. Do you agree with that, or is it manageable? Is it fine like that?

KR:- I think it’s fine. Obviously always some certain situations you might have some issues that you want to talk but rules are rules and they’re the same for everybody. It wasn’t really any big issue. I kind of knew what it is but tried to get some confirmed things from it – but it didn’t change anything. It wasn’t anything that we had to know 100 per cent or we would have had some issues. I think it’s fine, y’know? It is what it is.

Daniel, did you have any sympathy for Lewis?

DR:- um… not really. Obviously not directed at Lewis, I think anyone in that position… on race day you care about yourself, so certainly you don’t feel any sympathy for anyone else in those two hours on a Sunday. Yeah, I think Kimi touched on it: it is what it is; it’s the rules and, sure we can’t… I think everything we can do is in front of us, so some things, if there’s a failure during the race, the team’s allowed to tell us a certain procedure perhaps to fix the failure – for example an electronic thing or whatever it is – but in terms of engine modes and things like that, sure there’s a lot to do but we do know – or we should know at least where it all is. So, I think yeah, we’ve just had to adapt to it but it’s been OK.

How about you Daniil? Are you good at this stuff? Are you quite techie? Do you enjoy it?

DK:- Yeah. It hasn’t been an issue for me. You might say the new generation… I haven’t played Playstation or anything like that, but it hasn’t been an issue for me so far. You have to prepare yourself for many scenarios. I try to predict these things and see what might happen. Of course it’s impossible to see everything – but it hasn’t’ been an issue for me.

Felipe?

FN:- I think similar to the other guys. You either try to know the most you can on what you have to do in the race. There’s some things we can cover and some other things it depends on the team communication. Some of them, they’re not allowed to say – but I haven’t faced anything yet to be in such a situation. It is what it is.

Esteban?

EG:- I have absolutely no problem. I like the idea because it will motivate engineers to get rid of a lot of buttons on the steering wheel. We just need two pedals and one steering wheel to drive.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – globoesporte.com) To all drivers. We saw here the organizers amplify the run-off areas, increase the safety. And we come from one circuit where, most of the bends, you approach at 300kph, you didn’t have run-off areas. Which options you prefer? High risk or less risk?

KM:- I think it’s a difficult one because when you have do something to improve safety you do it. It has to be done. You can’t not do something for safety because it’s more exciting or whatever. If there is something that you can do to improve safety, you have to do it. But there’s no reason to deny that the more risky circuits are more fun.

At least for myself I think so and I’m sure most of the drivers will say the same – but we can’t make the tracks more dangerous on purpose to make it more fun. But yeah, I guess that is a factor: for most drivers, it’s more fun when the track is more risky.

DK:- We’re coming from Baku and I got a lot of adrenaline, I was really on the edge all the time. I was always thinking ‘ this corner, if I make a mistake, it’s going to punish you’. I’m a bit old-fashioned on this question – but of course you cannot just put a concrete wall everywhere to make it exciting.

You have to find a good compromise between paying the price for your mistake and not hurting yourself, obviously, because Formula One has been investing so much in safety and it is incredible what has been achieved. Let’s say here also, Turn Five, Turn Six, there are gravel escape roads so you pay a higher price if you go off, let’s say. I think this kind of track, they have a bit more value. In my view, personally.

Esteban?

EG:- I have the same opinion as Kevin and Daniil.

Felipe?

FN:- I would say so. I think Baku was something… you would pay the price for it if you did a mistake or something but we’ve been working so much on safety that we don’t need to give up all of it to just say we should risk more on tracks that is, more… if you want to call it dangerous. Like the other guys said as well. It’s also true to say that some tracks, you lock-up, you go off and you come back on the race… I feel for me it’s sometimes so easy to give up time there and you are back on the race. If it was like before you wouldn’t have been able… if you have a gravel trap or something, you would have lost a lot more time to come back. Drivers that do less mistakes, somehow they get benefited.

How about you Kimi? Precision’s always been a big part of your game.
KR: Well, comparing last race and this, they’re completely different because one is a street circuit so it will never have the run-off areas than in a normal circuit. In the end the FIA has the group that works on measurements of how much run-off area you need in each place and, y’know, it’s safe everywhere. They would never make the circuit where there is not enough run-off area in how they calculate the chances.

It may look different but the end result, it can’t be an awful lot different. Obviously it will because it’s a street circuit and there’s no space like we have here at a normal circuit. I think it looks a lot of different but in the end it’s a different place. Every circuit is different. Some are a bit older circuits, obviously then there are different run-off areas. New ones usually are tarmac but what it good, what is not… you always try to stay on the circuit because that’s the fastest way around.

How about you Daniel, how do you feel about paying a high price for mistakes on those sorts of tracks and this sort of track?

DR:- Yeah, I think we’ve all got a similar view. It’s a hard one. You obviously want to balance the safety always but Baku, I can obviously speak because I had a… it wasn’t a big accident but it was at least an accident and, yeah, I thought it, in a way, had a good balance because it destroyed my car, so if that was the race it was clear I was out – but the impact didn’t feel like anything.

So I thought all the… you paid a price but looking at the track you were going to pay it in a safe way. Sure the walls, sometimes don’t tickle, but wherever there was the high speed there was generally a SAFER barrier or something. So, I think that’s the main one. As Felipe touched on, if you do make a mistake, at least pay a bit of a price for it.

Whether it puts you completely out of the race or not, at least lose time – because sometimes it is too easy to just run wide, come back on and lose a second as opposed to losing ten or whatever. Yeah, tough one. I’ve always liked street circuits. It does give you the biggest rush, and I think now they’ve got a good balance. All the street circuits we go to are pretty good. Sure, you crash but I think you can crash safely.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, there are 100 points to gain in July. How many of those hundred would you need to still be in the fight for the championship in the second part of the season?

KR:- Obviously we try to get as many as we can. I don’t think one month will decide the whole story. It’s still a long way to go and the end of season a lot of things can happen. The point is always, when we come racing is to do the best and try to score as many points as we can. No need to make any plans. We go to every race like normal and hopefully get out the good result.

Q: (Dan Knutson – Speed Sport magazine) Daniel, your team-mate Max Verstappen has also been confirmed through 2018. How do you see that relationship evolving or is it too early to tell?

DR:- It’s hard to predict what’s going to happen in the long run. I can obviously speak for the first few races and it’s been good. Max came in and set a bit of a tone in Barcelona. That was obviously a pretty crazy weekend and I think since then it’s been good. Obviously Monaco didn’t work as well for him and he openly admitted it and took it on the chin. In a way we’ve thrived off the new challenge, the new rivalry, so hopefully it can keep pushing the team in the right direction.

Hopefully there is some rivalry. A rivalry would probably mean we’re fighting for victories more often. Sure you can still have a healthy one. I think if you’re mature about it and if you can basically just admit if one guys better on the day and be open about it, then you’ll have good respect for each other. It’s probably when you start making excuses out of nothing, is when it doesn’t work out so well. Keep going hard and, so far, so good.

Q: (Peter Vamosi – Vas Nepe) Bernie had the idea, fifteen or maybe 20 years ago, that there should be a race at the Olympic Games, every four years – a non-championship race? Basically, what do you think about this idea and of course, Felipe, will you be at the Olympic Games in Rio this year?

FN:- You want me to go to Rio? You want me to race? We have our break so if I’m in town, I probably will be, so a flight to Rio is not far away, give a bit of support to my Brazilian athletes wouldn’t be a bad idea. Yeah, but you said, to have a race every four years then I don’t know. I don’t know. I think we have got enough races going on already.

EG: Yeah, it would not be a bad idea actually, why not?

KM: Yeah, I wouldn’t mind another race.

DK: We would maybe build a same car, probably, for the Olympic sport and all 22 drivers, same car, same tyres everything the same. Maybe it could be interesting, like a world final, if you like.

DR: I was about to say, I like medals so yeah.

KR: What can I say? There’s always ideas, let’s see what happens in the future but it’s hard to see that it’s going to happen so…

DR: No points, but a lot of prize-money, I guess. Yeah?

Q: A quick question: apart from Felipe, is anybody here planning to go to any of the Olympic Games, just as a spectator or is anyone hanging out there? No? No.

Q: (Barna Zsoldis – Nemzeti Sport) Danny, as your 27th birthday is approaching, how do you look back at your career so far and are you where you expected to be, 10 or 15 years ago?

DR:- Getting deep, getting deep. Let me bring out my notebook and see what notes I made when I was ten. I don’t know. I didn’t really look back on it, so far, to be honest. I think it all happened so quickly that you just sort of get into a bit of a… you sort of roll with it and just keep going but sure, as a kid, I dreamed to be racing Formula One, it’s one of those things, you know. In 2011 I got my chance and it was like a dream come true but then you do a few races and then it’s like, OK, now I want to be with a better team and I want points and then I want podiums, I want wins.

Fortunately I’ve been able to get some wins now which is a big box ticked for me but now it’s like, OK, I want the next best thing which is the World Championship. In a way, you’re never satisfied but I think obviously that’s good because I’m obviously still very young and hungry so I think that fuels my hunger but sure, I’m happy and I’m obviously very grateful to be in this position.

I think of all us appreciate the… it’s 22 of us that are here. It is awesome but you can’t help but want more, you know? I think Seb at my age, already his 24… not 24, his four titles so I go look at Seb and I go aaahhh. Obviously I would love to achieve more at this age but fortunately I’ve got some time on my side, I think.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) To Esteban and to Felipe: Mr Ecclestone said that at the end of the new Concorde Agreement, he will fight to share the money in Formula One in a more equal way. You from Sauber, you from Haas, what’s your point of view about it?

EG:- Well, luckily I’m a racing driver, I don’t have to think about… Yeah, exactly. Well, it’s not happening now, not necessarily going to affect me. There are many propositions which are probably going around, many ideas but I’m sure they are going to chose the most convenient for Formula One. We have to think in all other sports and try to bring the sport higher and higher and if that is the right way then for sure everybody will be happy with that.

FN:- Well, I think it would for sure balance out things better for teams that are dependent on other resources. For example, Sauber is a private team, it just gives you a better chance to start the year developing the car, developing things. Sometimes you’re just so spread apart that we cannot even get close to other teams, just on how much we can do with Sauber, financially or resources. It wouldn’t be  a bad idea. For sure, it’s something to consider but it has to balance out for everyone as well, not only thinking about us so let’s see.

Q: (Peter Farkas – Auto Motor) Coming back to the danger topic; obviously many fans and even some drivers say that danger is part of the attraction but if we look at the race in Baku, it was actually quite dull and every one of you seemed to be quite cautious, maybe because of what happened in the GP2 race, and we always moan about these big run-off areas and the tracks being not dangerous enough, or some people do anyway. But can you argue that actually a risky track doesn’t produce really good racing? If you look at Monaco or Baku, because you are obviously being more cautious and these tracks that are more safe and have these big run-offs actually are able to produce better racing, because you take more risks?

DK:- Well, it’s a good point because we saw in GP2 that it was quite a big mess, there was a lot going on so obviously everyone knew that on this track a lot might happen but actually didn’t happen, but these kind of races just happen and it was just a one-off. I think the track, when you look it, could provide a lot of entertainment and I think in the future that will happen, a lot of races on the track which I think will enter history because I think this kind of track, in my opinion, will provide some great racing.

I think everyone was good because in the end we are professional drivers, no one hit the wall during the race. There was no safety car to reshuffle the strategies so everyone more or less knew what they were doing. The faster cars just went ahead, the slower cars just settled there in the middle so there was no big action going on, I think. I still think that this kind of track should be… of course not every track should be a street circuit. It didn’t affect me at least.

Q: How about you, Kevin. As you came through the field, were you holding anything in reserve or were you giving it everything?

KM: No, I think we were giving it everything but for sure, after watching the GP2 race I thought this is going to be a good one to finish because I thought there would be quite a few crashes and safety cars and stuff. For sure, I took a little bit more care not to crash but not a huge amount. I think it was just coincidence that no one did.

KR: That’s probably why it’s GP2 and F1 is a different story. We’ve seen many other weekends when we watch their race…

EG: I thought Baku was pretty exciting.

DR: I was going to go more towards the open circuits, like the modern ones and that. I think some have done it well and some not as well. Yeah, that’s the thing. If you have a modern circuit then sure there’s some risk which is taken away because of the safer run-offs but if they shape the circuit well, then it can produce good racing. For me, Austin is a great example. Austin’s a pretty safe track, there is a lot of run-off but I think the way they’ve tried to design it… like turn one, it’s such a wide apex.

You can take so many different lines into that corner, that creates great passing and you’ve got other corners on that track which are a bit unique. I think a lot of the time with our sport, a lot of it is one line. There’s an ideal racing line. I follow… also this guy next to me… we follow motocross a lot and there’s so many different lines in motocross and I think there’s some room in F1 to create something like that. Obviously not extreme but you’ve got some… you know the ideal line is perhaps… like in motocross you go the long way round because the corner’s like a bowl, it’s banked, you carry momentum but then if you’re close you sort of do a block pass.

I don’t know, so maybe there’s some room for these modern circuits to be more exciting. So they’d be safe, sure, but the racing could be more exciting. I think there’s still some things which circuit designers can implement and maybe we can learn from other motorsports.

KR: Obviously you always want to see more overtaking but it’s not easy, there has been a lot of different rules and stuff been done in F1 to create overtaking but has it really changed a lot? Over the years, not really in my view but you know you’re going to blame the circuits that they built, they will not spend I don’t know how many millions of dollars or euros, money, to make a new circuit like in US and expect them to make it without run-off areas. In MotoGP, they have to have run-off areas for when they fall down. They’re being used for a lot more than just F1, they are not building circuits just for us so they have to make everybody happy.

Q: (Silvia Arias – Parabrisas) Kimi, I would like to know how difficult it is for Ferrari to get the right temperature in the tyres and what do you expect in this race?
KR: For sure, it’s not been easiest job in the last few years but it varies a lot depending on how the circuit is, conditions, weather, all those things, what tyres we will have over the weekend and I think in the last few races it’s been quite difficult but we managed to find something and turn it around for qualifying, for the race. It depends how the weather will be here, obviously. It’s a bit unknown. There’s a new surface on the circuit so how will that affect things we will have to see but I think it should be OK.

Q: (Peter Vamosi – Vas Nepe) There are some rumours that the old Osterreichring will be restored, the big layout for endurance racing. As Formula One drivers, what do you think? Would it be better to use that one or is it OK right now?
Q: Double thumbs up from Dan Ricciardo, you’re obviously aware of the history, Dan.

DR: A little bit.

Q: Seen the old vids on YouTube?

DR: Ah, no, but I’m aware of it. For a few reasons. I think it would be cool to have a bit more distance on the track. I think next year, as well, if the cars are going to be as quick as they say they are then the lap times are going to be close to a minute which is a very short lap and I think it would create a bit more to the circuit. I think that there is the space so yeah, I’ve heard a few people talk about it and I think it could be pretty interesting for us.

DK: I tried to open a video last night but wifi was slow so I had to give up. But I agree with Daniel…

DR: He was too busy looking at other things!

DK: No, sorry Dan!

DR: Don’t be sorry!

DK: So I agree with Dan, yeah, on track.

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Hamilton closer to grid penalty after power unit change this weekend

lewis-hamilton-mercedes-20142

It was announced this afternoon that Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of a grid penalty after Mercedes fitted the last complete power unit of his season’s allocation ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix.

Under the regulations each driver is allowed to use five of each power unit component before incurring penalties and Hamilton is now on his fifth MGU-H and turbocharger of the year. He says it is now inevitable he will use a sixth of those components over the remaining 13 races, which, if taken at the same race, would result in a 15-place grid drop at one of the future races.

He has now used three internal combustion engines and MGU-K units as well as four energy stores and control electronics.

In an interview with the media this afternoon, Hamilton has no idea what has happened but is dealing with the situation as best as possible. Hamilton stated the following:-

‘I don’t have an answer to why it’s happened the way it has but I’m starting with my last [full] engine this weekend and so I will have at least one race where I start dead last, most likely two, probably. With two more fresh engines I’ll have to take the sixth and seventh [components]. The worst thing is that I am the only Mercedes driver [including drivers at customer teams] to have this, so for sure it’s difficult for us as a team and it’s difficult considering we are the Mercedes team, so you wouldn’t expect it to happen.

‘If there is 40 engines you would hope that we would have the best of the 40 but that’s just the way it goes and I’ll just have to do the best I can with the one I have now and hopefully the next one or two I get it doesn’t happen.’

When further asked if he was frustrated by the issue, Hamilton added the following:-

‘Well for sure it’s not easy to look at the table and you see eight Mercedes drivers and everyone else is on the normal plan, on their second engine and still have four engines left and I only have one left, for sure it doesn’t feel great but there’s nothing I can do about it.

‘Speaking to anyone about it won’t make no difference, it is what it is. I don’t fully understand why it’s happened but I just hope that Mercedes grows from it and I hope they learn something from the faults that they’ve found on mine and hope it doesn’t happen to the rest of the Mercedes-Benz engines.’

Hamilton finally added that the Mercedes team will aim to lessen the impact of the penalties by making the component changes at circuits where overtaking is possible. Hamilton concluded with the following:-

‘I will try to look to take it at a circuit where I feel like I will be able to get the furthest up, closest, maybe a track where I might be able to catch up and maybe try to challenge for a win,” he said. “That’s my thought process and I have to go into it thinking I can still win it. There might be safety cars, there could be all sorts so I will try to have an optimistic view on it but it’s not that easy to overtake at some places so…

‘The percentage chances of Nico winning and me finishing second or further back is obviously higher, but we all try to minimise firstly the engines that we have to take. It is what it is so you just have to deal with it and try to weave your way through it.’

Ferrari to test latest version of the Halo concept in Austria

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It was announced this afternoon that the Ferrari team will run the latest version of the Halo cockpit protection device during Friday practice for the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend.

Since first running an early prototype in pre-season testing, the FIA has been developing the concept to increase its strength and reduce weight. The most recent evolution features a titanium structure and will add roughly 10kg to the car’s weight but protect the driver from large flying objects.

The latest prototype built by Ferrari is expected to be fitted to Sebastian Vettel’s car for a brief one-lap run at the start of first practice.

Driver extrication tests with the modified Halo will also be held this weekend in Austria, but the FIA’s Laurent Mekies told the media in a statement last week that he did not envisage any major issues. Mekies said the following:-

‘We have obviously done extrication with the initial version of the Halo and it didn’t prove to be a problem, even with the current time [limit in the regulations]. We are saying that whatever problems you might find now, we should be able to resolve them between now and the season start, so it should not be a show-stopper right now.

‘Because the geometry has been evolving, when we get to the final geometry, hopefully in the next few weeks, we will start intensifying the work. But yes, we have done quite a lot of extrication tests already.’

Following the tests in Austria this week, the FIA will present the latest concept to the teams ahead of a final decision on its implementation by mid-August.

The Racer In Me- My First Time Go Karting

All rights reserved to TeamSport.

All rights reserved to TeamSport.

Yesterday, I fulfilled a childhood dream. My childhood dream growing up was to go Go-Karting and participate in a race with fellow racers just as passionate about motorsport and racing  like myself. And I did that yesterday; thanks to Ste who is one of my closest friends on the planet who very kindly organised this as part of my 27th Birthday celebrations.

The TeamSports centre in Brunswick.

The TeamSports centre in Brunswick.

In order to get my first Go-Karting experience off to the best possible start, me and Ste first started by getting to the centre where the track is (its an indoor track!) in Brunswick (just outside Liverpool City Centre) which didn’t take very long by train. When I first saw the centre, I got goosebumps, got competitive and also at the same time nervous about what to expect and if I would be able to drive the kart competitively and most importantly safely.

My overalls.

My overalls.

But with all these feelings and emotions, we entered the centre, got checked in, met our instructor for the day Stuart and got given our overalls and instructions to where to get changed and to attend a Drivers Briefing before we got racing on the track. After getting changed into our overalls (minus a mishap with a locker!), me and Ste with our instructor Stuart went into the Drivers Briefing room, met our fellow other racers and listened as Stuart briefed us on how to race safely and professionally before leaving us in the room with a seven minute DVD.

During the Drivers Briefing, I will admit to you now that I was incredibly nervous and I said to Ste that I don’t know if I’ll be able to race competitively and it’s gonna be different to a PlayStation game I’ve been brought up with. But Ste just calmed me down and said to me just enjoy yourself and be safe.

The TeamSports Liverpool circuit overview.

The TeamSports Liverpool circuit overview.

As the Drivers Briefing finished, Stuart came back in to ask if we had anymore questions and then took us out to the track ready for my first ever Go-Kart race. Entering the track was absolutely amazing and felt surreal; just watching the last group racing each other competitively filled me with fear, anticipation and excitement all mixed together and I was going to be experiencing what they are in about five minutes time.

Stuart then instructed our group to get our balaclavas (which you can purchase at the reception when you check in) on, find a helmet that fits us correctly and comfortably (I was a large!); put on some gloves,  to check what kart number we would be on the screen (I was number 4 in the first race) and then get into the kart ready for further instructions from Stuart.

I thought to myself as I walked to the kart “This is it… my childhood dream is finally happening. Jesus, I’m gonna be racing four guys and can I do it? Guess this is the time to find out Sarah.” But soon enough I was called to my kart and getting into the kart for the first time was a very personal and emotional experience. Just getting into the seat; adjusting myself and adjusting the brake and accelerator pedals (I’m a bit short in height) blew me away, I got pumped up and wanted to get  going and show what I can do on the circuit safely and try and be as competitive as I can be too.

Pits at the TeamSports Liverpool circuit.

Pits at the TeamSports Liverpool circuit.

In order to get to racing, we all had to pass a brake test with Stuart. And mine didn’t go well. Firstly; someone bumped into the back of me as we moved down the line and I had to use the brake pedal to stop and ended up stalling the engine. But after getting the engine going again, I managed to pass the brake test and made my way out of the pits. And I have to say it was the most exciting, scary, nervous adrenaline rush I’ve ever experienced, knowing that I had control of a powerful go-kart and I had the power underneath me to push the limits.

As I went into the first corner, I was amazed at how the car responded to every pull of the steering wheel and also how it managed to stop so quickly. I thought to myself, I’ve got past the first corner, let’s see what this is really about and I’ll have three laps to build my confidence up. As I headed towards the end of my first lap and into the first corner, I see Ste in front of me and eyed him up for an overtake and thought I can do this.

Unfortunately, I misjudged the braking point and went too fast into the corner while making my move on Ste and hit the back of his go-kart and he went into the barrier. My first thoughts now was “Oh no, is Ste okay? I don’t care if I get black-flagged for this, I want him to be okay.” Well Ste was okay and after the marshall had a word with me, we both carried on with the rest of the first race and getting more experience around the track.

By the third lap, I was gaining more and more confidence with the kart and learning more about myself pushing the limits and feeling like I was getting faster with each lap that was going by (even though I stalled on the second lap after taking the corner way too fast and caught the back end which resulted in the engine stalling and be calling for a marshal). But the fourth lap, I got a nasty shock at how dangerous karting can be first hand.

I went up the ramp which is in the middle of the circuit and the red flag came out after someone had a spin on the track. I was halfway up the ramp and after remembering the briefing; Stuart said to get to the top of the ramp and keep your foot on the brake. So I tried that and I took my foot off the brake pedal and ended up going backwards down the ramp. I was scared for my life especially as it is very steep, you can’t see anything behind you and I hope to God I don’t hit a fellow racer and injure them or myself.

However, I did the distress sign and was helped by the marshal to recover and he told me again the advice in the briefing and said not to let it affect me as I’m doing well. That gave me the confidence in the next five laps. As I just pushed the limits and myself and found myself fighting for third place (I didn’t know it at the time) and in a great move into the first corner which has a tight apex, I took the place away from my rival and set my sights on progressing up the grid further before the laps ran out.

I loved the run up to the back straight into the home straight and Turns 1 and 2, you could put your foot down and hear the incredible noise of the engine humming like a bird and it was like literally threading a needle at over 50mph. It gave me a thrill each time, I wanted more of it each time I went past and I wanted to do it better each time as well.

On the last lap, I did not see the yellow flag signalling me to slow down and ended up being black flagged for it. I then slowed down into the pits and Stuart told me that I didn’t slow down for the yellow flag and I told him that the green flag was showing where I was on the circuit and I only saw it as I entered Turn 6 and slowed down straight away. Stuart said “I will not disqualify you from the race as you’ve done well for a beginner, but you shouldn’t go flat in the ramp corners as its dangerous and you need to brake earlier for corners and be patient as you have the speed and commitment to improve massively in Race Two.”

After the first race, I found himself in third place on debut!

After the first race, I was classified in third place on my  debut!

As I was waiting for Ste and the other racers to join me in the pits, I was sitting in the kart thinking “How did I not see that flag? I was watching as best I could while driving but it was green. As for the ramp corners, I knew I could go flat out and control the car and it’s helping me catch up to the others, I do feel bad not listening but racing drivers push the limit and today I am a racing driver”. I was truly angry at myself as Stuart told all of us to get out of the karts and check our times on the screen. And boy did I get a shock…. I was third fastest! In my first ever race.

My telemetry from the first race.

My telemetry from the first race.

I couldn’t believe it. Me. Third fastest. My fastest lap time was a 53.359 (on Lap 6), which meant I was 6.369 seconds behind the leader. I was like someone pinch me. Even Ste couldn’t believe it, even though I still felt bad about crashing into him and I could tell he was shook up by it. Stuart then told us to take our helmets, gloves and balaclavas off and we will have a short break before going to race in the final event.

Me celebrating my third place finish in Race 1.

Me celebrating my third place finish in Race 1.

At the break, me and Ste took the time to reflect on what just happened, how we felt about the first race and also to look at the telemetry of our times. In my case, I still in shock that I finished third in my first race and I wanted to go straight back out and race again and I could see from looking at the data where I was losing time and felt sure that I could build upon what I achieved already.

So after a few photos to celebrate the occasion, me and Ste headed back on track for the final race. As I got my balaclava, helmet and gloves on, checked my kart number (number 4 for the second race); I knew I was in a good position to challenge for the lead and to maintain my current position in the group. I was still a bit scared but confident that I could push myself further and get more performance out of myself and the kart.

As I exited the pits to start the final race, I knew what I had to do which was drive better than I did before. And going into the first corner, I took on board Stuart’s advice by braking earlier and getting onto the power straight away and already I could feel the difference. I was slowly gaining ground on second place (I knew where I was as you start the race in the positions you finished Race 1 in) and by Lap 7, I was catching him inch by inch and closing the gap to as close as 0.2 seconds as Stuart later pointed out.

Lap 8. I was catching him to the point where I was lining him up for pass into the home straight. He defended very well indeed and correctly I should say. At this point, my fellow racer and I was lapping Ste and Ste moved out of the way to let both of us past. As we all headed into the first corner, my competitor gave me a width as per the Drivers Briefing and I made my move; confident that I can take him on the exit of the corner but he stupidly closed the door on me and I hit the side of him but backed off enough to let him recover without getting us both in a position not to finish the race.

This then lead to him retaining the position and in my head thinking “You’ve just done an Maldonado on me, I had the racing line, you knew I was there. But I’ll get you and take that place off you in the process.”. As the laps steadily went down, I continued to put pressure on him and let him know that one mistake we made and that place will be mine for sure this time. And this time, I won’t back off mate, no way. Never underestimate the power of a Jones.

The final lap. I knew the first corner was gonna be my last chance to get him and I tried everything I could to get past but it wasn’t enough. I had my chance and it wasn’t meant to be. But as we made our way back to the pits for the final time, I was angry that he closed the door on me, disappointed that I couldn’t have another go at taking the place off him but I knew I gave it everything that I could, I enjoyed myself and I finally achieved my dream at long last!

The times after Race 2. Third again means I finished third on my debut.

The times after Race 2. Third again means I finished third on my debut.

As I exited the kart for the final time, I wished that I could have another go and that I didn’t want to leave it behind. I felt connected to the car; felt like we was in harmony and that it served me well. But once again; me and Ste look at the time screens and I found myself third! I actually thought this was a dream! This time my fastest lap was a 47.879 (on Lap 6 again) and was 2.817 seconds behind the leader; a massive improvement to Race 1.

Post Race celebrations; third place!

Post Race celebrations; third place!

After the obligatory celebration photo, congratulating my fellow racers, taking the gloves, helmet and balaclava off and looking at the telemetry to see the improvement (and having words with the fella in second place), I was so happy with what I achieved in my first ever go-kart experience and race and I just wanted to do it all again.

In 27 years of being on this planet and following motorsport for 20 years; I now fully understand why drivers love racing. It’s the most liberating, exciting, frustrating, nerve-wracking and most rewarding experience I’ve ever had. In the space of three hours, I’ve felt every emotion you can get and was rewarded for my efforts with two third place finishes and third overall in the group. On my debut!

Me and Ste after Race 1 but best picture of both of us together.

Me and Ste after Race 1 but best picture of both of us together.

And even though Ste was a bit nervous and scared about this, he did extremely well and got more confidence as he got more experience and mileage around the track. And I’ve got to say a big thanks to Ste for organising this and letting me achieve my childhood dream at last; you really are one of the most caring and generous people I know.

Cheeky celebration selfie after the race!

Cheeky celebration selfie after the race!

Overall, all I can say is that if you haven’t been go-karting and you love your motorsport; you have to experience it. No words I can type can explain the sheer joy, bliss, satisfaction, gratification you feel while driving the kart as fast as possibly can dare while pushing yourself every inch of the way. And I cannot wait to go back and do it all over again and it’ll be sooner than I think.

2016 Track Preview; Austrian Grand Prix, Speilberg

austria-red-bull-ring

Nico Rosberg wins the European Grand Prix ahead of Sebastian Vettel in second place and Sergio Perez in third place. Williams, Force India and Red Bull managed to get some much needed points from the race.

The Red Bull Ring, formerly known as A1-Ring, is host for the Austrian Grand Prix. The circuit is located near the city of Spielberg in Styria, in the southeast of Austria. The area is harmoniously integrated into the landscape and offers a breathtaking surrounding, a panoramic view as well as a great safety because of long, asphalted run off areas. With lap times of around 70 seconds, it is one of the quickest laps on the Formula 1 calendar.

Red Bull Ring is 4.326 kilometers long with a total of only 8 turns, 6 right-handers and 2 left-handers. The driving direction is clockwise. Due to stop and go passages on turn 1 and 2, the track is very challenging. The downhill sections with the curves are very tricky, especially if the track is wet. Get this right and a driver is well on his way to a competitive lap time. Cars need plenty of power as the few corners are relatively quick and are linked by long straights that require plenty of full-throttle running. Drivers are flat out on the accelerator for 72 percent of the lap.

A race track has existed at the current location in one form or another since 1969. The originally name was Osterreichring and it was a spectacular, scenic and unique circuit. It was totally redesigned by German track designer Hermann Tilke and rebuilt in 1995 and 1996. It was also renamed the A1-Ring. Its length was shortened from 5.942 to 4.326 kilometers, and the fast sweeping corners were replaced by three tight right-handers, in order to create overtaking opportunities. The track was renamed the Red Bull Ring in 2011.

Here’s the facts and figures going into the race weekend…

Facts and Figures:-

  • Austria has hosted the first Grand Prix in1964 at the Zeltweg circuit before being moved to the Osterreichring circuit in 1970 and then to the A1 Ring in 1997.
  • Alain Prost is the most successful driver to win the Grand Prix with seven wins.
  • McLaren are the most successful constructor to win the Grand Prix with six wins.
  • Race distance: 307.146km (190.848 miles)
  • Number of turns:8
  • Top speed: 315kph
  • Lap record: Michael Schumacher- Ferrari (2003)- 1.08.337

Winners from the last 5 Austrian Grand Prix:- 

  • 2001-David Coulthard
  • 2002- Michael Schumacher
  • 2003- Michael Schumacher
  • 2014- Nico Rosberg
  • 2015- Nico Rosberg

My top five finishers of the Austrian Grand Prix:-

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

  1. Nico Rosberg
  2. Lewis Hamilton
  3. Sebastian Vettel
  4. Kimi Raikkonen
  5. Daniel Ricciardo

Based on what the top five drivers have managed to achieve in the first eight Grand Prixs, I believe that Rosberg will want to beat Hamilton this weekend again in order to show that he maintain the lead of the championship that he has even though his performance in Baku last week wasn’t what we all expected.

Hamilton will also want to win this weekend and regain the gap that Rosberg has over him while maintain the championship gap over to Sebastian Vettel 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 Ricciardo 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 Channel Four also are showing coverage, details for both are below:-

  • Sky Sports F1:- Friday (Practice 1 and 2) 8.45pm and 12.45pm, [Replays throughout Friday], Saturday (Practice 3 and Qualifying) 9.45pm and 12.00pm, [Replays throughout Saturday], Sunday (Race) 1.30pm
  • Channel Four- Saturday (Qualifying Highlights) 5.30pm, Sunday (Race Highlights) 6pm

Sainz Jr retained by Toro Rosso for the 2017 season

640px-Carlos_Sainz_Jr_Motorland

It was announced this afternoon that Carlos Sainz will remain at Toro Rosso next year, Red Bull boss Christian Horner has confirmed.

After seeing his Toro Rosso teammate Max Verstappen promoted to Red Bull ahead of him earlier this year, Sainz’s career path looked less certain. However, Horner in an interview this afternoon confirmed that Red Bull has taken up its option to keep him at its junior team next year, putting an end to speculation about his future. Horner said the following:-

‘We took up his option earlier this week, so he’s committed to Red Bull for the next 12 months and, as with all the drivers, they are contracted to Red Bull Racing and we have the ability to place them where we want. He is currently at Toro Rosso, which is where we expect him to be next year.

‘We had until the end of the year to take up the option and we chose to do it early to put his mind at rest.’

When further asked if Sainz’s current teammate Daniil Kvyat would be replaced, Horner added the following:-

‘I’d be surprised to be honest with you. Daniil Kvyat is continuing his development and you can see that he is finding his feet now and there is not an obvious candidate knocking on the door at the moment who would warrant that seat.

‘It’s great for us to have a development programme that is producing talent like Ricciardo, Verstappen, Sainz as well and obviously Daniil Kvyat. We are not short of talent in our stable.’

As hinted before, Horner also confirmed Red Bull’s drivers are contracted until the end of 2018.

‘We are set in Red Bull Racing for the next two and half years, so it is a luxury issue to have.’

2016 Austrian Grand Prix Press Conference Schedule

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Here’s the official Press Conference Schedule ahead of the 2016 Austrian Grand Prix as provided by the FIA as follows:-

Thursday 30th June- Drivers Press Conference

  • Esteban Gutierrez (Haas)
  • Danill Kvyat (Toro Rosso)
  • Kevin Magnussen (Renault)
  • Felipe Nasr (Sauber)
  • Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
  • Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)

Friday 1st July- Team Principals Press Conference

  • Luca Furbatto (Manor)
  • Yusuke Hasegawa (Honda)
  • Paul Monaghan (Red Bull)
  • Rob Smedley (Williams)
  • Graham Watson (Toro Rosso)
  • Beat Zehnder (Sauber)

Saturday 2nd July- Post-Qualifying Press Conference

Sunday 3rd July- Post- Race Press Conference