Lewis Hamilton has revealed he had held talks with Ferrari about switching to the Italian manufacturers from the all-conquering Mercedes, but aborted the move because the offer wasn’t the right one.
The Brit secured a record-equalling seventh world championship last weekend with victory in Turkey to tie Michael Schumacher’s tally in the sport.
Hamilton has won six of Mercedes’ seven driver titles having won his first at McLaren, but with his contract up at the end of this season, there was talk he may look to move to the Scuderia to fulfil his childhood dream to drive for them.
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Hamiton equals Schumacher
And now the 35-year-old, who is now set to stay at the Silver Arrows alongside Valtteri Bottas, has admitted that despite talks taking place, the two parties were never really on the same page.
“We were never really close,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport. “We talked on occasion but we didn’t go beyond understanding what options were on the table and they weren’t the right ones.
“Our positions have never aligned. I think timing matters and things happen in the end for a reason.
“In recent seasons my contract always expired in years different from that of all the other drivers. In the end, it went like this.”
After leading Mercedes to a seventh-consecutive constructor championship with victory at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton dropped the potential bombshell that he wasn’t even sure if he would be in F1 next year, let alone at German manufacturers.
“I don’t even know if I’m going to be here next year so it’s not a concern for me at the moment,” Hamilton said.
He later clarified his position when he added: “I would like to be here next year, but there’s no guarantee of that for sure. There’s a lot that excites me of the ‘afterlife’ so time will tell.”
The Mercedes seat is one of five still yet to be confirmed for 2021 with four drivers already heading for new teams at the end of the season in a massive driver shake-up.
Here is how the 2021 grid is shaping up with just four races remaining of the current season…
Mercedes is approaching a changing of the guard, whether it is at the end of this season or the next, with the futures of Hamilton and team boss Toto Wolff up in the air as both men have revealed they are contemplating their next moves.
However, with another year under the current specifications before the new breed of F1 cars is released in 2022, it would be a surprise if Hamilton left especially, given he will win the drivers’ championship this year and have the chance to beat Michael Schumacher’s all-time record next year while still in the best car.
He is yet to sign on officially, but expect an announcement at some point between now and the end of the season — even if Wolff decides to move on from a team principal role.
One person who certainly will be there is Valtteri Bottas, who is contracted until the end of next season and has been the perfect partner to Hamilton’s dominance over the last few years.
The duo will be the longest-serving partnership currently in F1 when the 2021 season starts with big Mercedes changes more likely to be in 12 months’ time.
Max Verstappen will still be there but it is who will be sharing the garage with him which will be of the greatest intrigue over the next few weeks.
Red Bull has already said they are re-evaluating the position of Alex Albon, who stepped up from Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri) midway through last season, but confirmed he would see out the season.
Albon has struggled this season and a late mistake at Imola saw him drop out of the points yet again with his seat and future in F1 under real pressure.
Red Bull won’t be swapping him with either of the drivers currently at AlphaTauri having already removed both of them from the senior team once, with a more experienced driver thought to be favoured.
Red Bull has typically promoted youngsters from their driver program, but Sergio Perez is now thought to be at the top of the list, closely followed by Nico Hulkenberg, who has so excellently filled in for Racing Point in the absences of the Mexican and his teammate Lance Stroll.
This is the hottest seat in F1 but has few contenders to actually compete for it with so many of the top drivers already committed.
Verstappen’s tyre EXPLODES
Confirmed drivers: Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz
Ferrari was the team to get all of its business done first, with the sacking of Sebastian Vettel before the first race of the season triggering a massive driver scramble, with many drivers then forced to make up their minds about their next move before even seeing what the car was like at their current team.
Carlos Sainz was brought in from McLaren to replace Vettel with Charles Leclerc already locked in on a long-term deal with the team.
Sainz has dropped off somewhat at McLaren as the season has gone on with current teammate Lando Norris, Perez, Leclerc and Daniel Ricciardo all ahead of him in the driver standings behind the big three.
It is not alarming enough form to suggest Ferrari made the wrong call but they could be forgiven to be perhaps a little rueful that they decided to overlook Ricciardo for a second time, especially given the red-hot form he has been in this season.
Confirmed drivers: Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris
McLaren was caught right in the middle of the driver shake-up in losing Sainz, but it has gained a better driver, at least in the short term anyway, and one that Zak Brown desperately wanted two years earlier.
McLaren’s massive step forward last year hasn’t been as big this year with Norris and Sainz consistently in the points but not at the level of Ricciardo or Perez, who have been registering consecutive top six finishes.
Ricciardo’s addition will help develop the team and Norris in particular and it is arguably one of the most exciting line-ups on the grid.
If McLaren can make another big step next season — as it is expected to do with Mercedes power units bolted in instead of Honda — then Ricciardo could well be on course to add to his seven career race wins – at least that is what the Aussie has gambled on.
He will be slightly concerned whether he made the right decision if McLaren doesn’t have a big finish to the season, but the driver makes all the difference, with Ricciardo a perfect example when you compare his results to his teammate Esteban Ocon.
Ricciardo celebrates in style
Confirmed drivers: Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon
Renault probably came out the worst from that pre-season scramble, with Ricciardo’s exit causing some anger and plenty of frustration among the team who were relying on him to keep driving them forward.
Ricciardo has taken the team to two podiums in three races while his teammate Ocon has struggled to keep up with the Aussie’s points haul.
Therefore, it is difficult to tell whether the car has been a big improvement on the previous year or if Ricciardo has been just that good.
Ocon is a highly-regarded driver and he has been outscored by both McLarens, which will give Ricciardo great hope that he has done the right thing, knowing that as a proven race winner he should be able to elevate his new team just as much.
It’s impossible to tell whether it is the right decision or not until next year begins but judging by how those around him are doing, Ricciardo has still seemingly made the right call, and he will be convincing himself about that.
As for Renault, Ricciardo will be replaced with a two-time world champion in Fernando Alonso to add some extra spice to what promises to be a midfield battle just as tight as the current one.
Renault couldn’t really have asked for a better replacement for Ricciardo and he will certainly still keep them competitive having not lost any of the fire in his belly.
This will be the Spaniard’s third stint at Renault, where he joined in 2002 and rejoined in 2008 after just one year at McLaren.
Confirmed drivers: Sebastian Vettel, Lance Stroll
Racing Point will actually become Aston Martin next year and will have Sebastian Vettel as the headline name after finishing up at Ferrari.
He comes in to replace the unfortunate Perez, who is currently without a team despite being up there with Ricciardo, Hamilton and Verstappen as the best performers of the season.
Lance Stroll keeps his place instead of Perez given his father is owner of the team but he has also put in some very promising drives again this season, even if they’ve been coupled with some curious errors.
Perez can count himself frustrated and unlucky but he may ultimately get the chance to become a race winner should he nail the final Red Bull seat.
As for Vettel, if he can move past his struggles this year and rediscover some of his form around the track, Racing Point/Aston Martin will count itself as a big midfield threat.
On current form, dropping Perez for Vettel looks like the wrong decision but there are not many teams who can turn down a four-time world champion.
And besides, should Vettel rediscover his hunger then this could turn out to be one of the all-time driver bargains.
Confirmed drivers: Pierre Gasly, TBC
This will be an interesting one to follow, with the official line-up unlikely to be confirmed until the final Red Bull seat is decided.
Pierre Gasly got the team’s first race win since 2008 when they were racing as Toro Rosso but his overall form has been superb all season long and would certainly have been a contender for the Red Bull seat had he not already had one disastrous bite at the cherry already.
Daniil Kvyat currently holds the other seat and has also been impressive this year with six points finishes culminating in a fourth-placed finish at Imola.
He also scored a podium last season and losing his seat would feel harsh.
However, Red Bull will still be keen for Alex Albon to remain in F1 and could push for him to take the second seat at the junior team if they decide not to retain him for another season in the top team.
Either way, AlphaTauri will have two very talented young drivers at its disposal and one unlucky gun who will likely miss out on an F1 drive altogether.
Confirmed drivers: TBC, TBC
Haas is the only team without either driver confirmed.
After years of underperformance, the team axed Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen who are both expected to drop out of the F1 driver pool altogether.
For Grosjean, it’s a sad end to an eight-year career that had a promising start — he claimed nine podiums for Lotus F1 across his first two years.
The Frenchman would stand on an F1 podium just one more time — in 2015 — and spend the next five years among the backmarkers at Haas.
Speaking to Sky Sports after his axing, Grosjean was under no illusion that he’d be a man in demand for 2021.
“Most likely Formula 1 is closing its doors (to me),” Grosjean said. “There aren’t many seats left available.
“It’s never impossible, so never say never, but also there are other challenges that I’m ready to tackle. Different challenges, different categories.”
Meanwhile, Magnussen said he had options to stay in F1 elsewhere but could now be looking to change category to chase wins as well.
“There are, and were, options in Formula 1 and I would say I had options to stay in Formula 1,” he said. “But I think I miss winning, and I miss really being competitive, and that’s played a big part in how I look and pursue my future, is that I miss winning, and I want to be in a position where I can be competitive and win races and championships.”
As for the contenders, the name on everyone’s lips is a familiar one: Mick Schumacher.
The son of seven-time world champion Michael is the championship-leader in Formula 2 and is ready to make his step up to the big leagues.
Like his father once was, the 21-year-old is contracted to Ferrari, which has ties to both Alfa Romeo and Haas who use the manufacturer’s power units.
Alfa Romeo has already finalised its 2021 driver line-up, meaning a seat at Haas or another year in F2 are his most likely outcomes.
But he has strong competition from fellow Ferrari Academy drivers Robert Shwartzman and Callum Ilott, who are both racing in F2.
Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto said the team would make a call about which juniors to promote in the coming weeks.
Confirmed drivers: Kimi Raikkonen, Antonio Giovinazzi
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
That’s been Kimi Raikkonen’s philosophy for a while now and, at the ripe old age of 41, he sees no reason to head into retirement just yet.
Raikkonen still has the motivation to race, and Alfa Romeo allows him to do so relatively quietly without as many media commitments and sponsorship engagements to worry about.
His willingness to continue is good enough for Alfa Romeo who has resigned the Finn.
The other seat at Alfa Romeo is Ferrari’s to play with — and it has decided to give Italian Antonio Giovinazzi another year.
He’ll be pleased, but his resigning is more because Ferrari isn’t yet ready to promote Shwartzman or Ilott, while Schumacher is tipped to go to Haas instead.
Giovinazzi also doubles as Ferrari’s reserve driver, so it pays to have him keeping his skills sharp in an F1 car.
Confirmed drivers: George Russell, Nicholas Latifi
Once Valtteri Bottas was locked in at Mercedes for 2021 it only seemed like a matter of time before Williams would confirm George Russell’s stay.
The 22-year-old is highly-rated in F1 circles with Fernando Alonso saying he believes his “natural speed” makes him the future of the category.
Mercedes will likely one day reap that reward, but for now, its junior driver will continue to rack up experience at Williams alongside Nicholas Latifi.
Perez was thought to be a strong contender for a seat at Williams given the team’s financial troubles and the Mexican’s ties to large endorsement dollars.
Nonetheless, Latifi was already under contract for next year and Williams — now in the hands of American investment firm Dorilton Capital — will honour his deal.
Team boss Mattia Binotto on Monday rejected mounting speculation that Ferrari are favouring Charles Leclerc over Sebastian Vettel by giving him a faster car.
The pair finished six places apart in Sunday’s Portuguese Grand Prix after which Vettel suggested that Leclerc had been driving a faster car.
Leclerc came home fourth and four-time champion Vettel 10th, a result that extended the German’s season-long run of defeats by his team-mate as he seeks a dignified exit in his swan-song season with the Italian team.
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Hamilton overtakes Schumacher
“The cars of Seb and Charles are identical, no doubt,” Binotto told Sky Italia.
“I sincerely hope that Sebastian can qualify better at Imola and show more of what he is capable of during the race.
“Charles is very good, but maybe you can expect more from the second driver.” Binotto’s cryptic comment followed an equally enigmatic explanation from Vettel for his struggle for form.
“On the one hand, I’m satisfied because I had the feeling that I drove a good race,” he told RTL.
“I had a hard time at the beginning, lost places and almost lost the car two or three times.
“But, on the other hand, it’s obvious that the other car is much faster. Where do I lose time? I have been biting my tongue all year long.
“Some idiot might never figure it out, but am I a complete idiot? I doubt it.
“At some point, you should be lucky and hit the limit. I never hit it and, if I do, then only with a lot of difficulty. On the other side (of the garage) it looks much easier.”
A sparkling qualifying lap from Leclerc exemplified their differences as he claimed fourth on the grid and was half a second faster.
Vettel avoided making any direct accusations after the race, adding: “I have to think that we have the same car. I trust the people around me and in the garage.”
To add to Vettel’s current difficulties and much unwanted attention, he revealed also that he had sent Lewis Hamilton a pre-race text message, encouraging the six-time champion to claim a record 92nd race win.
‘What the f*** is he doing?!’
“I’m happy for him,” he said. “I think he deserves every single victory he had so I think the number speaks for itself. I’m sure he will hit 100.
“I texted him, before the race, to get 92. He achieved that and congratulations to him for that. You can’t acknowledge that enough.
“Even when people say it’s easy with that car, you have to have this kind of consistency over the years to do this.”
Vettel was told before the season began that he was not being retained by Ferrari for 2021.
Since then, he has agreed to join Racing Point, who will compete as Aston Martin next season.
FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 – Italian Grand Prix – Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza, Italy – September 5, 2020 Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel wears a mask as he watches on during qualifying Miguel Medina/Pool via REUTERS
September 10, 2020
By Alan Baldwin
(Reuters) – Four-time Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel will race for Aston Martin, the new name for the Canadian-owned Racing Point team, on a multi-year deal after leaving Ferrari at the end of the season.
The 33-year-old German replaces Mexican Sergio Perez, whose departure at the end of the 2020 season was announced on Wednesday.
“I am pleased to finally share this exciting news about my future. I’m extremely proud to say that I will become an Aston Martin driver in 2021,” Vettel said in a team statement ahead of Sunday’s Tuscan Grand Prix at Italy’s Mugello circuit.
“It’s a new adventure for me with a truly legendary car company. I have been impressed with the results the team has achieved this year and I believe the future looks even brighter,” he said.
“I believe we can build something very special together. I still have so much love for Formula One and my only motivation is to race at the front of the grid.”
The statement did not give details but said Vettel, who won his titles for Red Bull between 2010-13, had signed up “for 2021 and beyond.”
Vettel has had a tough time at Ferrari since the arrival of Monegasque Charles Leclerc, with the youngster beating him on wins, points and poles last season.
Ferrari have struggled this year but announced in May, before the season had even started, that Vettel would be leaving at the end of the year. He will be replaced by Spaniard Carlos Sainz from McLaren.
Racing Point are fourth overall after eight races, with Ferrari sixth.
At Mercedes-powered Aston, Martin Vettel will team up with Canadian Lance Stroll, son of the team’s billionaire owner Lawrence who is also the executive chairman of the British-based sportscar maker.
“Everybody at Silverstone is hugely excited by this news. Sebastian is a proven champion and brings a winning mentality that matches our own ambitions for the future as Aston Martin F1 team,” team principal Otmar Szafnauer said.
“Sebastian is one of the best in the world and I can’t think of a better driver to help take us into this new era. He will play a significant role in taking this team to the next level.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin; editing by Alex Richardson and Jason Neely)
Mick Schumacher will drive his father Michael’s 2004 Ferrari around the Mugello circuit on Sunday at the Tuscan Grand Prix celebrating the Italian team’s 1,000th Formula One championship race.
The car took German great Michael Schumacher to his record seventh and last world title.
Mick, a member of the Ferrari driver academy, is competing in Formula Two and won the feature race at Monza last weekend.
He also drove the F2004 at Hockenheim in 2019 before the German Grand Prix.
Ferrari – the sport’s oldest and most successful team as well as the only one to have competed in every season since the first in 1950 – will race in a special retro burgundy livery to mark their milestone.
The colour was used on the first racing car that used the Ferrari name, the 125S.
The Mugello circuit is owned by Ferrari and has never previously hosted an F1 race.
Former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has blamed the Italian team’s management for their own poor form and the bungled departure of four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, who is set to leave the team at the end of 2020.
On the eve of the Italian Grand Prix, in which Ferrari are widely expected to struggle to avoid another embarrassing and uncompetitive weekend, Di Montezemolo said Vettel carried no blame for his and the team’s struggles, adding that the team was not prepared for the sport’s move to hybrid turbo engines in 2014.
The man who organised Italy’s hosting of the 1990 World Cup football finals and led Ferrari through the glory years of success with Michael Schumacher told RTL that Vettel had lacked support in his time with the ‘scarlet scuderia’.
Vettel could not in any way be blamed for the outcome of his six years with Ferrari, said Di Montezemolo.
“He has never caused any problems and always works from the team point of view,” he explained.
“And he has won many races that other drivers would not have won.
Hamilton dominance continues
“I am therefore not happy with the way Vettel has been treated. The timing was not right and the way it was done was certainly not right.”
He added that Vettel had, like Schumacher, needed support from the team.
“Those drivers need an environment where they feel at home and supported. That was the case with Michael when Jean Todt was at the helm and I did it with Niki Lauda,” he said in reference to his earlier days as team manager under Enzo Ferrari.
Referring to F1’s switch to hybrid power technology in 2014, Di Montezemolo added that Ferrari had paid a “very high price” for the change and had struggled to master the complex technology.
“We underestimated the complexity of the new power unit project,” he told RTL. “Compared to Germany, there was no hybrid culture here in Italy.”
He added that Ferrari’s problems were made worse by a management crisis following his departure and then that of Stefano Domenicali.
“After that, the people had neither experience nor competence for Formula One,” he said.
In particular, he said, it was a serious mistake to allow technical boss James Allison to leave the team. Allison later joined Mercedes where he is technical director.
Even worse, the team has no explanation for the spectacular flop — and in a sign of how truly beaten they are, didn’t even act surprised at the result.
It was only the eighth time since Formula 1’s three-stage qualifying system was introduced in 2006 that both Ferrari cars failed to make Q3, according to Skysports.com.
The 2014 British Grand Prix was the last time both Ferrari drivers didn’t make the final shootout, when Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were knocked out in Q1. At least there was rain that day that they could blame.
There was no such blame available to them on Saturday night (AEST) in Spa.
At the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix Vettel and Leclerc put their Ferraris on the front row of the grid.
12 months later, the team is a rabble.
Leclerc warned Ferrari’s passionate fans not to expect any miracles — suggesting the qualifying debacle is an accurate reflection of where the team is at.
Leclerc, who claimed his maiden victory from pole position in last year’s Belgian race, admitted he and the team had no explanation for the team’s slump in form this season — ahead of the next two races which are scheduled to take place on home ground in Italy.
“It’s very difficult to find any explanation,” said Leclerc.
“It’s a big step back to the others.
“We need to find the issue and address it. It’s not a good day, but it’s like this at the moment.
“We have got to work hard and we have to keep our heads up in tough times like this.
“We can understand the fans are disappointed, but we can’t expect any miracles.” Four-time champion world Vettel who is in his final season with the team said: “This is the true picture of what our car can do. We tried everything.
“We are not where we want to be, but that’s not the first qualifying and first race where that has been the case.
“For myself, it’s my job and I still like driving. P13 and P14 is not as exciting as P1, but this morning it looked like we wouldn’t get out of Q1.
“So, obviously, it was not a success, but its what we could do.”
The team’s struggles appear certain to continue next weekend in their home race at Monza, the Italian Grand Prix, where raw power and speed is essential for success.
One week later, they could be embarrassed again at their own 1000th race celebrations at the Tuscany Grand Prix.
Ferrari haven’t won a world drivers title since 2007 when Kimi Raikkonen was crowned champion.
Lewis Hamilton delivered two successive record breaking qualifying laps to claim his sixth Belgian Grand Prix pole position and a record-increasing 93rd of his career with a flawless demonstration of speed on Saturday.
The championship leader and six-time champion clocked a best lap in one minute and 41.252 seconds in the final seconds of a session that he dominated in a personal tribute to the Hollywood film actor Chadwick Boseman, who died on Friday.
And while Daniel Ricciardo finished an ‘awesome’ fourth – his equal best qualifying result in a Renault – it was a nightmare day for Ferrari who could only manage 13th and 14th in an embarrassing new low for the season.
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Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was second, to complete another ‘black arrows’ front row of the grid, but he was more than half a second adrift of Hamilton’s pace.
It was Hamilton’s fifth pole in seven races this year, a feat he said he had wanted to achieve in memory of Boseman whose life had been an inspiration to Hamilton.
“Today was a very, very clean session for me and the end of the lap was getting better and better. We did such a lot of work for this in the background.
“This is a really important pole for me because I woke up to the saddest news of Chadwick passing away … It has been such a heavy year for all of us so it rocked me.
“I wanted to go out there and drive to perfection because of what he has done for our people and how he has shown young kids what is possible.”
I want to dedicate this pole to Chadwick. What he accomplished and the legacy he left is so incredible to me. He’s inspired a whole generation of young black men and women and provided them with a true superhero to look up to. Rest in power my friend.#WakandaForever#blackpantherpic.twitter.com/M7EgGess9p
Max Verstappen, who trails Hamilton by 37 points in the drivers’ title race, took third place for Red Bull ahead of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, who aborted his final lap, and Alex Albon in the second Red Bull.
Esteban Ocon took sixth in the second Renault ahead of Carlos Sainz of McLaren, the two Racing Points of Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll, and Lando Norris in the second McLaren.
After winning last year’s race, Charles Leclerc and his Ferrari teammate four-time champion Sebastian Vettel were eliminated during Q2 and will start Sunday’s race from 13th and 14th positions.
RICCIARDO HAILS ‘AWESOME RESULT’
A low-downforce package helped the team’s straight-line speed, and despite having to abort his final lap Ricciardo was beaming after qualifying.
“Obviously holding third would have been perfect but I’m really happy with qualifying, I’ve been happy all weekend,” he told Sky F1.
“Last year these low-downforce tracks were our strong ones – Spa, Monza – and we’ve replicated that this year.
“If it rains, it rains, but I’m hoping for a dry one as we’ve got good track position and pretty good straight-line speed.
“At the start of the race we have a real opportunity and then I think I can defend for a while if I have to. That’s the plan: try to go a bit better on the start and elbows out!”
“There was a lot going on in that session, I’m still trying to come down a bit, but it’s an awesome result.”
Schumacher record BROKEN
While the prospect of both cars exiting in Q1 loomed, they managed to escape by the skin of their teeth to reach Q2, and eventually qualified 13th (Leclerc) and 14th (Vettel).
“It’s very difficult to find any explanation,” said Leclerc. “It’s a big step back to the others.
“We need to find the issue and address it. It’s not a good day, but it’s like this at the moment.
“We have got to work hard and we have to keep our heads up in tough times like this.
“We can understand the fans are disappointed, but we can’t expect any miracles.”
Four-time champion world Vettel who is in his final season with the team said: “This is the true picture of what our car can do. We tried everything.
“We are not where we want to be, but that’s not the first qualifying and first race where that has been the case.
Insanity as Merc tyres BLOW!
HOW IT HAPPENED
After heavy overnight rain, the session began in cool and capricious conditions with occasional rain and sunshine at different parts of the circuit at the same time.
Much attention was focused on Ferrari after their struggles in practice, but both drivers squeezed through into Q2, Leclerc by the narrowest of margins.
The 2019 Belgian winner, who had started from pole, survived the cut in 15th place, just eight-hundredths of a second ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in his Ferrari-powered Alfa Romeo.
The Finn was joined in making an early exit by both Ferrari-powered Haas cars driven by Romain Grosjean, 17th, and Kevin Magnussen in 20th along with his Alfa teammate Antonio Giovinazzi who was 18th, one place ahead of Canadian rookie Nicholas Latifi of Williams.
Hamilton topped the Q1 times ahead of Bottas with Verstappen third and was back on the pace immediately in Q2 with a lap in 1:42.014, more than half a second quicker than Leclerc’s pole time last year.
Joining Ferrari in failing to make it out of Q2 were Russell and the two Alpha Tauris of Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly.
Piastri: Our next F1 star?
Given licence to use their ‘party’ engine mode for the last time before it is banned next week, Mercedes took the initiative in Q3 with Hamilton clocking 1:41.451 for a new track record and provisional pole, 0.576 seconds clear of Bottas.
A fast lap from Ricciardo gave him third for Renault, just 0.032 behind the Finn and ahead of the two Red Bulls on the opening runs as most of the teams slipstreamed in pairs, reverting positions for their second runs.
Hamilton was out on his own, however, and proved it with his stunning second flying lap in 1:41.252 – and another track lap record – to which Bottas responded by taking second, but more than half a second adrift as he fended off Verstappen’s challenge.
FILE PHOTO: Chairman and CEO of Exor and Chairman of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles John Elkann speaks during investor day held by the holding group of Italy’s Agnelli family in Turin, Italy November 21, 2019. REUTERS/Massimo Pinca/File Photo
July 28, 2020
By Alan Baldwin
(Reuters) – Misfiring Ferrari have complete confidence in team boss Mattia Binotto but cannot expect to return to winning ways in Formula One before 2022, company chairman John Elkann said on Tuesday.
The team are Formula One’s oldest and most successful but the current car is too slow and they are fifth overall after the season’s first three races.
“The reality is that our car is not competitive. You’ve seen it on the track and you’ll see it again,” Elkann said in an interview with the Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Today we are laying the foundations to be competitive and get back to winning when the rules change in 2022. I am sure of this,” he added.
Ferrari were runners-up last season but Mercedes have won an unprecedented six successive drivers’ and constructors’ titles and are favourites to make it seven this year after a dominant start.
Sweeping technical and sporting rule changes that were due to come in next year have been postponed to 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with teams continuing to use this year’s cars next year.
Elkann said the 2020 car had structural weaknesses that had been around for some time in aerodynamics and vehicle dynamics, and had lost engine power.
Elkann asked ‘suffering’ fans to be patient, recalling that Ferrari’s golden era with seven times world champion Michael Schumacher only came after a long ‘fast’.
Schumacher joined Ferrari in 1996 and had to wait until 2000 for his first title with them, the third of his career, to end a 21-year drought for the Maranello-based team.
Ferrari, who last won a title in 2008, have had four principals in six seasons but Elkann said Binotto was fully supported.
“Complete confidence,” he declared. “Also because Mattia Binotto, who has been at the helm for a year, has all the competencies and characteristics to start off a new winning cycle.
“He was at Ferrari with (former team boss Jean) Todt and Schumi, he knows how to win and from next year he will be working with two young drivers as ambitious as us.”
Asked whether Ferrari were right not to renew the contract of four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel, who is leaving at the end of this year, Elkann said it was harder to rebuild with those who had already won than those yet to succeed.
Ferrari have Monegasque Charles Leclerc on a long-term contract with Spaniard Carlos Sainz joining from McLaren next year.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Christian Radnedge)