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FERRARI: WE HAVE POTENTIAL TO IMPROVE SIGNIFICANTLY

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Scuderia Ferrari comes away from the French Grand Prix with a third place courtesy of Charles Leclerc, the Monegasque driver finishing right behind Valtteri Bottas and a fifth place from Sebastian Vettel, who thus finished two places higher than he started, following a difficult qualifying on Saturday.

The German also set the fastest race lap, which is a new lap record.

Start. When the five red lights went out, Charles went wheel to wheel with Max Verstappen, getting the better of the Dutchman before closing in on Hamilton and Bottas. Sebastian hung on to seventh place, keeping out of trouble which is often a factor in the middle of the pack.

Overtaking. In the opening laps, Leclerc managed to pull away from Verstappen, while a bit further back, Vettel thrilled the French crowd with a handful of spectacular passing moves. He stuck to the McLaren of Lando Norris, getting by on lap 5. At this point he set his sights on the other orange car, that of Carlos Sainz. The German closed up to him on lap 6 and passed him to go fifth on the following lap.

Pitstop. Both men started on the Medium tyres and Charles was the first to stop on lap 21, taking on the Hard tyres, rejoining fourth behind Vettel. The German came in a few laps later, the aim was for him to have fresher rubber at the end of the race so that he could profit from any drop off in performance from the Dutchman rival. Sebastian rejoined fifth on lap 26, just over six seconds behind Verstappen.

Tyre management. At this point, for both drivers the main task became tyre management, as there was a risk of degradation because of the high track temperature. Charles made a very good job of this so that, towards the end, he was able to close right up on Bottas, sitting on his tail for the final lap and tried to get alongside him a couple of times, although a pass was never really on the cards.

Fastest lap. Sebastian also managed his tyres well, but he couldn’t really close the gap to Verstappen. So on lap 51, the team brought him in for a set of Soft tyres and he went off in pursuit of the race fastest lap. The German took the chequered flag in fifth place having achieved that goal with a time of 1’32”740, which was also a new lap record. This was Charles’ third F1 podium following on from those in Bahrain and Canada. The World Championship resumes in only a few days with next Sunday’s Austrian GP at the Spielberg circuit.

Charles Leclerc: “Overall, this weekend was pretty positive. I’m pleased I was able to fight for second place right at the end, even if I never had a real chance to attack Valtteri. I am satisfied because we managed to maximise the potential of the car.

“It was about time, because after a few so-so weekends, everything went smoothly right from the start of free practice and then in qualifying and the race, where our strategy was perfect both in terms of the timing of the pit stop and our tyre management in the second part of the race.

“I believe hard work always pays off and I feel we proved that this weekend. Now we go straight to Austria where I hope we can maintain this same good form.”

Sebastian Vettel: “I had a pretty lonely race, apart from a bit of confusion at the start, given that the timing of the lights going out caught us a bit by surprise. It was fun fighting with the McLarens, first Norris then Carlos.

“The first stint went pretty well and that meant I could close the gap to Charles and Max. Then in the second one, I had a few more balance problems and I didn’t feel totally comfortable with the car. I think today’s fifth place was the most we could have done, given that Charles, Max and me were all running at pretty much the same pace. At least getting the fastest race lap means I get an extra point.

“We still need to understand why Friday was so complicated with some of the parts we brought here not working as we had hoped. Our car is not yet strong enough and it’s down to us to improve. We still don’t have the pace to beat Mercedes, but I know that everyone at Maranello is working with so much positive pressure – and passion.”

Mattia Binotto, Team Principal: “It was rather a straightforward race, the end result being that Charles maintained his start position all the way to the end. Sebastian managed to shake off the McLarens as we had hoped and then ran a strong race, keeping a consistent pace, on a par with those ahead of him.

“When Verstappen pitted, we kept Seb out for a few more laps, given that the tyres were difficult to manage and were likely to suffer with significant degradation in the closing stages, as we saw on the Mercedes. Therefore every extra lap we stayed out would mean having fresher tyres towards the end and that could have been important in terms of giving us a chance to beat Max.”

“In terms of performance, we are not yet where we want to be. We knew this circuit would be tough for us and to finish with Charles right behind Bottas is encouraging. The developments we have introduced since the Spanish GP have allowed us to close the gap and we have shown that we are on the right path.

“Some of these updates have proved to be very useful, others, unfortunately, less so but we know that we have potential to improve significantly. At this point, we are confident, aware that there is still a lot to do, but that we have the ability to develop the car and to be competitive on all tracks.”

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ALFA ROMEO: WE’RE BACK IN THE POINTS!

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We’re back in the points! Kimi brought home the car in P8 to add FOUR points to our championship tally. It was a deserved result after a fighting performance and one that reflected the improvements we have seen all weekend long.

They say hindsight is always 20/20, but in reality, there were plenty of elements that were hinting that four points would have been the reward for our efforts. At the time they looked like coincidences, but now we know they were FOURshadowing the events of the weekend.

It’s not that our drivers arrived in shiny, new Alfa Quadrifoglio – FOUR leaf clover – nor that Kimi (FOUR-letter name anyone?) was the driver leading the team home. The Finn was involved in a FOUR-car battle with Norris, Ricciardo and Hülkenberg, a fight triggered by a virtual safety car called FOUR laps from the end of the race.

Are we reading too much into this? Maybe. But we don’t care. We’ll still celebrate a good team result tonight. What’s on the menu? Petit FOURs, of course.

(Now, if it turns out we scored six points… then we’ll need a whole new lot of coincidences!)

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal: “It was very good to bring back the team into the points. All weekend, we have showed our fighting spirit and that we can compete with teams like Renault and McLaren.’

“Kimi drove an excellent race, withstanding incredible pressure from Hülkenberg for most of the afternoon and making the most of his opportunities in the final laps to claim some important points.”

“Antonio was unlucky, his race compromised by having to start on soft tyres. He showed good pace in the opening laps, but there was nothing he could do to remain in the points. He should take heart from a strong performance in qualifying.”

Kimi Räikkönen

“I was a bit disappointed to miss out on Q3 yesterday, but we knew it would be much better to start on different tyres than the softs, and so it was. I didn’t make the best start but luckily I didn’t lose too much on the straight and I could fight back in the next few corners.

“We were in a strong position after the start, on the hard tyres, but I had to hold back Hülkenberg the whole race. It was a great battle with the Renaults for most of the afternoon and in the end I was able to catch up with the cars in front.

“The last few laps were very intense and it was good fun. It’s really good that we could fight against other cars in the midfield and be up there. We had the speed and we got a good result in the end.”

Antonio Giovinazzi

“It was disappointing to finish out of the points, but we were up against it when starting on the soft tyres. It was the price to pay for a good performance on Saturday, but it effectively compromised my race before the start.

“We pitted early as the softs didn’t last, but in the end we had to make another stop in order to finish the race. I can still take some positives from a strong qualifying, and of course it was important for the team to get back into the points.

“I would have loved to celebrate Alfa Romeo’s birthday with a better result, but we showed to be competitive and hopefully we can carry this form to the next races.”

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MCLAREN: GOOD MOMENTUM TO KEEP PUSHING FLAT OUT

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McLaren report from the French Grand Prix, Round 8 of the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship, at the Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet.

Carlos Sainz

“Very happy after a strong and well-executed race. I made another good start and once I was in P6 I controlled the race, controlled the pace, and drove to the target lap times the team was giving me to manage the tyres. It was a simple race from that point of view and one of those days where everything comes together and produces the maximum result available, so well done to everyone.

“We were definitely the fourth fastest car this weekend – in qualifying and the race – so happy with that. Congratulations to the team for the hard work all weekend and for another double point finish. We just need to keep pushing hard to improve at every race.”

Lando Norris

“I had a good start, same as the guys ahead of me. Being on the inside, I got boxed in and Carlos managed to go around the outside, which was something I couldn’t have done from my starting position on the inside. The rest of the race was good, I had good pace and was just managing the gap to Carlos to protect my tyres for later in the race.

“A hydraulic issue, around 20 laps from the finish, cost me a lot of time and made the car really hard to drive. The steering wheel went really heavy and I lost the power steering. It was really tough, I did my best not to lose places but it was too much of an issue to hang on as I had lost so much pace. Still, one point, considering everything, is a good result as it could have been much worse. Great job by the team all weekend and everyone back at the factory to give us both such a quick car.”

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “Congratulations to our entire team, at the track and back home in Woking, plus of course the drivers. It’s been our best weekend of the season and it was encouraging to see our car performing well from the first practice session until the end of the race.”

“This gives us good momentum to keep pushing flat out as the pendulum of performance swings between teams from circuit to circuit.

“Carlos and Lando both did a great job managing the tyres over the distance. It was unfortunate that Lando lost positions on the final lap but he and the engineers did very well to battle through the second half of the race after a hydraulic issue arose affecting gear shifting, braking and steering.”

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HONDA: THERE IS STILL ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

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A tough French Grand Prix yielded another 12 points for Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, with Max Verstappen securing his seventh top-four finish of the season.

On a hot day at Paul Ricard, Max showed great skill at the start to resist pressure from behind and then attack Charles Leclerc for third place. Settling into fourth, Max made his only pit stop on lap 20 but was too far adrift to undercut the Ferrari at that stage.

With Sebastian Vettel behind, Max then managed his pace perfectly to ensure the second Ferrari did not become a major threat and crossed the line fourth to bring his points tally for the season up to 100.

Pierre was always facing a tall order having to start from ninth place on the soft tyre given the conditions, but an impressive first stint allowed him to pit on lap 17 to switch to the hard compound and run to the end of the race. Unfortunately, cars that didn’t reach Q3 had a free choice of tyre and opted for the hards, gaining track position and relegating Pierre to 11th place.

Toro Rosso had a challenging afternoon after Alex lost a number of places on the opening lap and dropped from 11th to 16th, with tyre management making it tough to fight back through the field.

Alex produced a number of good overtakes before pitting for hard tyres on lap 25, while Daniil ran the opposite strategy and started on hards before switching to mediums with 21 laps remaining.

Daniil made good progress after he started at the back of the grid, and passed Alex with five laps to go with a clean move at the chicane to finish 14th, one place ahead of his team-mate.

We will now analyse all the data gained from the updated power unit ahead of Red Bull’s home race next weekend in Austria.

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Toyoharu Tanabe, Technical Director: “This was a tough race for us, but as usual, Max drove a strong race to finish where he started, with the three cars ahead of him also finishing in grid order. Although all our cars took the chequered flag, our other three drivers had a more difficult afternoon.

“Our new Spec 3 PU performed as expected, but there is still room for improvement, and we will continue to work on that immediately to try for a better overall result next weekend in Austria.”

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RACING POINT: DISAPPOINTING TO LEAVE EMPTY-HANDED

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Racing Point report from the French Grand Prix, Round 8 of the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship, at the Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet.

Sergio Perez

“I don’t understand why I was penalised. I have to look at it properly, but I did what I’m supposed to do, which was to go around the bollards. The rule is that you have to come back on the track as soon as you go through the bollards, which is what I did. I think what they did is wrong, because I stuck to the rules. Whether or not I gained an advantage, for me it was impossible to judge – it was lap one and there were so many cars around.”

“It’s supposed to be slower than the racing line so that you don’t gain an advantage, but if it isn’t it’s not my fault. The penalty really hurt my race. We had the possibility to score some points today but this ruined it. We were a lot closer in terms of race pace, so that was promising. At the moment we are still struggling in qualifying and that’s where we must focus our attention to see what we can do better next week. Hopefully we can get back into the points in Austria.”

Lance Stroll

“It was a good race today. The first stint was really strong and we went really long before fitting a fresh set of mediums at the end so that I could push and attack in the final few laps. Unfortunately, I think we stopped a little bit too late because I could feel the tyres dropping off towards the end of my first stint, which cost us some time.”

“There was also some life left in the mediums when I finished the race. Pitting a few laps earlier could have changed our final result, but it’s easy to say that after the race. It was a good team effort today and we showed good pace to move up the order. We will come back in Austria and give it another shot.”

Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal: “Opportunities were few and far between today with a one-stop strategy being the only realistic approach for scoring points. We chose to split the strategies again and ultimately there was little to choose between the two with Sergio and Lance ending the race line astern. We came into this weekend aware that this circuit would present us with a tough challenge.”

“But it’s still disappointing to leave empty-handed. We take some encouragement from our competitive race pace, with both drivers happier with the car in race trim compared to yesterday. There’s plenty to learn and analyse so that we can come back stronger in Austria next weekend.”

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HAAS: THE WORST RACE WEEKEND SINCE WE STARTED THE TEAM

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Rich Energy Haas F1 Team driver Kevin Magnussen finished 17th in Sunday’s French Grand Prix while teammate Romain Grosjean retired six laps shy of the checkered flag on Sunday's eighth round of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship at Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet.

Magnussen started 15th on a set of Pirelli P Zero Yellow medium tires and picked up two positions over the first 10 laps of his initial run before dropping back to 16th. He pitted for a set of White hard tires on lap 16 and resumed at the back of the field. He was able to advance three positions before the checkered flag.

Grosjean began the race on hard tires from his 16th grid position, dropped two spots on the opening lap to 18th, but then worked his way up to 13th on lap 20 before pitting on lap 32 for a set of Yellow mediums. He resumed just in front of Magnussen in 17th, gaining one position before his Haas VF-19 was retired on its 45th lap, two down on the race leaders.

Rich Energy Haas F1 Team leaves France having dropped one position from eighth to ninth in the constructor’s championship with 16 points, one behind eighth-place Toro Rosso and 16 ahead of 10th-place Williams.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton scored today’s victory from the pole for his 79th career win, his sixth of the season and his second career and second in a row from the pole at Paul Ricard. His teammate Valtteri Bottas finished 18.056 seconds back in the runner-up position, giving Mercedes its fifth 1-2 finish of the season and 50th all-time. Scuderia Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc took the final podium position.

The 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship resumes with next weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix June 30 at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.

Romain Grosjean: “I got the maximum from the car, but it was just not good enough. Even though the balance felt okay, we were just very slow. We need to go back and analyze everything, try and understand it. We’re just really struggling. It’s hard to retire in front of your home crowd, but we’ve saved some parts. We were far from the points anyway. I think it was the right decision.”

Kevin Magnussen: “There’s not much to tell. I think after Friday we were thinking that qualifying might be difficult, but the race would be strong. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. We were fighting at the back the whole race. We were a bit helpless. Obviously our pace is the biggest challenge at the moment. We just lack pace sometimes, and today was one of those days.”

Guenther Steiner, Haas: “Unfortunately this race weekend was the worst since we started the team. We need to try to find a way out of our issues. This is not where we want to be.”

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WILLIAMS: WE DON’T HAVE THE PERFORMANCE TO COMPETE

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Williams report from the French Grand Prix, Round 8 of the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship, at the Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet.

Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer: “We continued today in the way we have all season, maximising the package available to us. We executed our planned one-stop strategy well across both cars, and then managed the traffic as best we could to not minimise any damage to ourselves whilst not impeding the front runners. ”

“We had an issue on George’s car after damage sustained early in the race when he hit a marker board running wide at T10. The damage, unfortunately, worsened to the point we needed to box him for a second time for a front wing change.”

“Our pitstops were also good, once again reinforcing that we continue to work as racers even though we don’t have the performance to compete with the rest of the field at present.”

Robert Kubica: “The tyres lasted better than expected so it was less painful as they behaved very well. My first lap was good, I made some correct decisions without risking too much. The rest of the race was alright, I struggled with the rear tyres in certain moments of the race, but I kept them under control, so it was ok. The battle with George was good experience for when the car gets quicker, which will hopefully pay off in the future.”

George Russell: “With my first attempt to overtake Robert around the outside, I ran wide and hit the polystyrene board. We thought that wasn’t too much of an issue but then we found that damage to the front wing worsened. For safety reasons we decided on the change. The pace seems strong, but it was an expected day. We need to be patient, learn as much as we can and then hopefully in a number of races time start the battle. Overall, not satisfied, not disappointed just normal.”

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MCLAREN TO BUILD NEW WIND TUNNEL

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McLaren are to build a new wind tunnel at their Woking headquarters as the former Formula 1 champions seek to return to competitiveness after years without success.

The team, who last won a race in 2012, have been using the Toyota facility in Cologne, Germany, for most of the past decade.

“The 1.5 seconds we are missing to the top cars or even more depending on the race track is simply aero load,” newly-appointed team principal Andreas Seidl told reporters at the French Grand Prix.

“One of the big deficits we have clearly is not running our own wind tunnel,” he added. “So we’re very happy that the decision has been made that we install a new wind tunnel in Woking.

“It is obviously a great message for everyone inside the team because it also shows how serious (McLaren Racing chief executive) Zak (Brown) and the shareholders are regarding our way back to the front.

Construction of the facility, replacing an old one, will take about two years and will be shared with the automotive side of the company and other motorsport projects.

McLaren enjoyed their best qualifying session since 2016 at the French Grand Prix on Saturday, with British rookie Lando Norris lining up in fifth place and Spaniard Carlos Sainz sixth on the grid.

The team are currently fourth in the standings, two points ahead of engine providers Renault’s factory team.

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99% chance F1 will race in Rio de Janeiro in 2021

Start of the Brazilian Formula 1 Grand Prix

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has said there's a "99 per cent chance" Formula 1 will race in Rio de Janeiro from 2021, replacing Sao Paulo on the calendar.

Bolsonaro had already stated that Rio would take over hosting duties at a newly constructed venue on a disused military base, with the track layout revealed last month.

Bolsonaro met with Rio governor Wilson Witzel and F1 chief executive Chase Carey on Monday to discuss the plans, as Sao Paulo's current deal is due to expire next year.

"We will not lose Formula 1," he told Brazil's Globo. "The contract expires next year with São Paulo and we have decided to retain F1 in Rio de Janeiro. There's a 99 per cent chance, or more, of having F1 from 2021 in Rio de Janeiro."

Carey however said negotiations with Sao Paulo were ongoing and that nothing had been agreed over the future of the Brazilian Grand Prix.

"We are looking at the possibility of continuing our participation in Brazil from 2021. We do not want to eliminate any possibility, we are negotiating with Rio de Janeiro and with Sao Paulo."

Bolsonaro called on Sao Paulo mayor, João Doria, to think about Brazil and not just his city, given his presidential hopes.

"What the press says is that he will be running for president in 2022," added Bolsonaro. "So he has to think about Brazil and not just his state."

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Max Verstappen: Lack of top speed hurt Red Bull

Max Vertappen, RB15 at French Grand Prix 2019

Max Verstappen says a lack of top-end speed hurt Red Bull during Formula 1’s French Grand Prix, and reckons Renault has made substantial gains.

Verstappen finished a lonely fourth at Circuit Paul Ricard but in qualifying classified just 0.009s ahead of Lando Norris, and had to repel Carlos Sainz Jr. on the opening lap of the race.

“You could see lap one we were clearly missing some top speed to the top guys,” said Verstappen.

“Even the McLarens behind were very quick on the straight. We definitely need to make a bigger step on the engine.

“You can see Renault over one lap have a quite powerful quali mode or whatever they use in lap one.

“Afterwards they have to back it out of course and you can see they are not a threat anymore but over one lap we can definitely improve.”

Verstappen heads to Red Bull’s home event having already reached 100 points for the season and last year secured victory for the outfit.

But Verstappen doubts he will be in a position to pull off a repeat result.

“[It will] not [be] much better than this weekend to be realistic, but we’ll see,” he said.

“There’s still a lot of straights and not many corners to really gain a lot, if you gain something, as at the moment I don’t think we’re really superior [in corners].”

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Ross Brawn: Mercedes could clinch 2019 F1 title by Monza

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Ross Brawn says Formula 1 chiefs are acutely aware of the need for change in the sport, quipping that Mercedes could clinch the 2019 title by Monza in September.

Mercedes has remained atop the pile through Formula 1’s hybrid era and is in the midst of a 10-event unbeaten spell, stretching back to last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix, and now holds a 140-point lead over Ferrari in the standings.

The processional nature of the French Grand Prix raised further questions about the future of the sport, with victor Lewis Hamilton expanding on his feelings post-race.

Brawn concurred with the overriding view of the situation, explaining: “We’ve been saying for a long time that there is a need for change and the numbers don’t lie.

“After the French Grand Prix, the eighth race of the season, the seven teams classified from fourth to 10th place in the Constructors’ Championship have amassed a total of 143 points, less than half the amount accumulated by Mercedes and just six more than the total amassed by third-placed Red Bull.

“At Paul Ricard just five drivers avoided being lapped by Hamilton and only one of them, Carlos Sainz, doesn’t drive for one of the three top teams.

“If Mercedes keeps up this pace it could seal the Constructors’ Championship by Monza, with a third of the season still left!

“Let’s be clear: Lewis, Valtteri [Bottas] and Mercedes are not to blame for a season verging on perfection, and it should be obvious that the rule changes we want to introduce are not directed against a team that is rewriting the record books.

“But we must all understand that the sport we love needs more competition, so that other teams can also aspire to podium finishes and it is not just a few powerful teams that dominate.”

Brawn also welcomed Hamilton’s comments on the state of the sport.

“I’m happy Lewis has confirmed his willingness to make his own contribution in the coming months, and we can’t wait to work with him, particularly in each of the three meetings now scheduled,” said Brawn.

“We know well that Formula 1 needs to make an important change in direction if it wants to maintain its position as one of the most followed sporting spectacles in the world.

“All of the key stakeholders – ourselves, the FIA and the teams – agree on the objectives and there is broad agreement on the major principles, such as the introduction of the budget cap and a fairer distribution of the revenue, while on the technical aspects we, and the FIA, have worked together with engineers from all the teams.

“It will be great to have an input directly from the drivers.”

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Hamilton: 2021 F1 overhaul "nowhere near where it needs to be"

Hamilton: 2021 F1 overhaul "nowhere near where it needs to be"

Lewis Hamilton says Formula 1's 2021 overhaul is "nowhere near where it needs to be" and requires "serious changes", after attending a crunch meeting that delayed finalising the rules.
Discussions over the major rules change first started in April 2018 but teams retain a number of concerns over the latest proposals and the summit in Paris two weeks ago shuffled the deadline to finalise the rules back to October, to buy stakeholders more time.

 Lewis Hamilton, Renault's Nico Hulkenberg and Grand Prix Drivers' Association head Alex Wurz provided driver representation at the meeting.

Asked by Motorsport.com what he expected to gain from attending the meeting, and if it left him encouraged, Hamilton gave a detailed answer about what drivers are trying to achieve, why the rulemaking process needs to achieve, and where he believes things can be improved.

He acknowledged that "it was encouraging that they allowed us to be there", but was critical of the situation F1 is currently in.

"They were really, really welcoming, which was great," he said. "I'm hoping they'll continue to have us there, a couple of us drivers each time.

"They've extended the decision of making the rules. I think they need to, because they are nowhere near where it needs to be in my opinion. They've got to make serious changes to the decisions they've already made for what 2021 should be."

Hamilton said that the root of his attendance was that the drivers are finally united under the GPDA banner and they are "just trying to get in the door and be a part of it [the rulemaking process]".

"For many, many years they've never wanted us in that room," said Hamilton. "Which I guess is why it's never happened. Because they are engineers and the guys that make the decisions. We're 'just' drivers.

"But we know how the car feels and we have good positive criticism and negative criticism that can only help influence their decision.

"You can't make a rule change about something without having all the facts behind it, and what effect it will have. So we just go in there to try to be a guide and if we can be part of the rudder.

"If they come up with an idea, we can say, 'Actually that would feel terrible in the car'."

Hamilton said an element that was positive is F1's commitment to "a real aero package that hopefully will have an impact on [cars] following [one another]".

However, he claimed that the weight of the cars "is not a great thing" and wants the 2021-generation car to be lower and replicate "the speed of the cars in the early 2000s".

"It still needs to be F1, the pinnacle of the sport and the fastest cars around the world," said Hamilton. "Hopefully with us as a part of it we can make a real cool change.

"It's not only that, it's the format of the weekend that can shift a little bit for the fans, how we engage and bring the fans in. There's all these things that can be better."

Hulkenberg echoed Hamilton's views that the aero element of the 2021 rules was encouraging.

"The cars are fast, they are spectacular, the problem is you can't get close to a car," he said. "But I think for the 2021 rules that hopefully will be addressed properly.

"I have faith that on the aero side, which is the most important, that will be corrected and adjusted the right side."

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Renault will consider options beyond Hulkenberg for 2020

Renault will consider options beyond Hulkenberg for 2020

Renault needs to look at the options beyond extending Nico Hulkenberg’s contract as it mulls over its 2020 Formula 1 driver line-up, according to team boss Cyril Abiteboul.
Hulkenberg has raced for the works team since 2017 and played a key role in its rise up the grid, beating his teammates over the two full seasons completed so far and finishing seventh in the drivers’ championship last year.

He has now been joined at Renault by ex-Red Bull driver and multiple race winner Daniel Ricciardo, who has a deal for next season whereas Hulkenberg’s current arrangement expires after 2019. Last year, Renault was linked with a loan deal for Mercedes protege Esteban Ocon before signing Ricciardo.

Asked about Renault’s driver situation for 2020 and if the team would have another look at signing Ocon, who has been sidelined this year, Abiteboul said: “The answer to the first question is in the second part of the question.

“The situation is clear. We have a two-year contract with Daniel. Nico’s contract, the initial term is coming to an end at the end of this year.

“There is some mechanism of options as has been commented on press – which I’m not going to disclose the details [of] – that can kick in.

“It’s maybe that we continue our journey with Nico. Nico has delivered for the team, clearly, and if you look at where we were when Nico joined us and where we are today, it’s crazy the change to the team, to the buzz.

“Clearly the drivers are no stranger to that, it’s not just engineers.”

Hulkenberg has been responsible for 124 of the 207 points Renault has scored since he joined in 2017.

Those efforts have been key to Renault finishing sixth and fourth in the constructors’ championship in the seasons Hulkenberg has raced for the team, and Abiteboul said “we need to give credit to that”.

“But also we need to look at the options, like everyone is doing, like I’m sure Nico is doing,” Abiteboul said.

“Things are open for him and for us, but there is also an option in place so that we can possibly continue our journey together.

“We will see, we’ll see probably after the summer break will be the right time to sit down, discuss it on the basis of fact and desire also.”

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Perez furious with French GP penalty after ‘sticking to the rules’

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Racing Point knew they were going to struggle in France after admitting that their RP19 was not suited to the Paul Ricard circuit. But any hope of scoring points was dealt an extra blow when Sergio Perez was landed with an early penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage on the opening lap - a penalty the Mexican strongly believed was incorrectly awarded...

With the field bunching up into the tight right-left chicane at Turns 3 and 4, Perez locked up his front-left tyre and took to the run-off, going left instead of right. The Mexican followed the rules by emerging the right side of a bollard just before Turn 5, but was slapped with a five-second penalty after the stewards decided he hadn't been forced off the circuit, and in leaving the track he gained positions which he then retained when re-joining.

Speaking after finishing in P12, one place ahead of team mate Lance Stroll, Perez questioned the stewards' logic.

“I don’t understand why I was penalised,” he said. “I have to look at it properly, but I did what I’m supposed to do, which was to go around the bollards. The rule is that you have to come back on the track as soon as you go through the bollards, which is what I did. I think what they did is wrong, because I stuck to the rules.

“Whether or not I gained an advantage, for me it was impossible to judge - it was Lap 1 and there were so many cars around. It’s supposed to be slower [going around the bollard] than the racing line so that you don’t gain an advantage, but if it isn’t it’s not my fault. The penalty really hurt my race. We had the possibility to score some points today but this ruined it.”

Racing Point have scored just two points in the last four races - those coming from Lance Stroll's ninth place in Canada. However, Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer said there were some encouraging signs.

“We came into this weekend aware that this circuit would present us with a tough challenge,” he explained. “We take some encouragement from our competitive race pace, with both drivers happier with the car in race trim compared to yesterday. There’s plenty to learn and analyse so that we can come back stronger in Austria next weekend.”

The Red Bull Ring in Spielberg has been a happy hunting ground for Perez who has finished seventh in the last two Grands Prix in Austria. A similar result this year would be most welcome.

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WOLFF: LAST YEARS RACE IN AUSTRIA WAS LOW POINT OF OUR SEASON

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The 2018 Austrian Grand Prix proved that almighty Mercedes are vulnerable too when a hydraulics issue sidelined Valtteri Bottas early on in the race followed by a fuel pressure issue on Lewis Hamilton’s car which resulted in a very rare DNF for the Silver Arrows.

Although his team have bagged eight wins out of eight, Toto Wolff is (as per his custom) taking nothing for granted despite the fact they can boast having one of the best cars, if not the very best, in the history of Formula 1.

As the circus heads to the rolling hills of Spielberg bad memories of last year are coming back to ‘haunt’ the team boss, “Our result in last year’s Austrian Grand Prix was the low point of the 2018 season, a double DNF after a promising front-row lockout meant that we left a lot of points on the table.

“The race was a cruel reminder of how quickly things can go wrong in our sport and that reliability and performance go hand in hand in F1.

“This year, our race finishing record has been good, but it would be complacent to ignore the fact that for two weekends in a row now, our mechanics had to perform the equivalent of ‘open-heart surgery’ on our cars.

“We’ve faced a number of different issues on different components, each of which could have easily caused us to retire, so we need to get on top of those challenges as quickly as possible.

“The forecast for Austria predicts temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius and more – combined with the reduced air density owing to the track’s location at altitude, this means that cooling could become a real challenge in Spielberg.

“Add to that the short lap and the close gaps on that circuit and our direction is clear: we need to keep working diligently, stay humble and give it everything to do a better job than we managed 12 months ago,” concluded Wolff.

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MCLAREN: POSITIVE ATMOSPHERE PUSHES US HARDER AND HARDER

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Since 1970, the Austrian Grand Prix has had only one home: the Red Bull Ring, however, the track has undergone various name changes during that time – it was originally the Osterreichring, then it became the A1 Ring before adopting it’s latest moniker.

It has been re-profiled on several occasions, but the race has always been staged at this racetrack in the heart of the Styrian mountains. There are a couple of unique features to the event. First, the track is situated at 700m, making it the first high-altitude challenge of the season; second, it is the shortest lap of the year in terms of time, with pole position expected to get close to 60s this year.

Carlos Sainz: “We go to Austria with good momentum following a strong performance in France. We were the fourth fastest car out there the whole weekend and my ambition is to keep getting closer to the cars ahead while keeping the other midfield teams behind. It’s not easy, but we’re working in the right direction and we still need to keep pushing at every race.

“On Sunday afternoon, after the race debrief, our focus immediately switched to maximising our package for what can be a challenging circuit in Austria. This is the first back-to-back of the season and I can’t wait to race again.”

Lando Norris: “I’m looking forward to experiencing the Austrian circuit in an F1 car for the first time. I had a good result there in F2 last year. We showed that we had good pace in France and I did everything I could, but it ended up being out of my control. I’m pleased to have scored points anyway.

“We know that we’ve got to keep on working hard to stay ahead of the rest of the midfield. Austria is a fun and quick circuit and I’m looking forward to going racing again.”

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “We head to the Alps aiming to replicate the strong weekend we had in France. The team executed last weekend well, but, as always, we must not get complacent heading into the next race. Reliability remains an important focus for the team and the points at stake can make all the difference in the battle for the championship.

“There’s a really positive atmosphere within the team and among the fans which is motivating us to push harder and harder at each race weekend. The commitment and performance shown by our drivers is encouraging everyone back at the factory to give it their all and provide Carlos and Lando with the best possible car.

“Austria is a unique track and the first high-altitude circuit of the calendar. These characteristics pose a new set of challenges that we haven’t faced yet with the MCL34, however we’re prepared to meet them head-on and look forward to an exciting weekend of racing.”

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PIRELLI: AUSTRIA SHOULD ENCOURAGE VARIED PIT STOP STRATEGIES

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In the space of less than a week, we go directly from one of the longer laps on the Formula 1 calendar (in France) to the shortest, in terms of overall lap time, in Austria: the first back-to-back of the season.

One lap of the Red Bull Ring takes only just over a minute to cover, and with the fastest-ever lap there set in qualifying last year (1m03.130s) we could see the benchmark lowered even further this weekend. Pirelli is bringing the C2 as the white hard tyre, C3 as the yellow medium, and C4 as the red soft choice in Austria.

Track Characteristics

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The Red Bull Ring, which returned in the F1 calendar in 2014 in its current guise, consists of 4,318 metres of up and down smooth asphalt in the Styrian mountains. The first two sectors are quite fast whereas the final sector is slower and more technical.

Traction and braking are the main characteristics of the Red Bull Ring, with corners linked by a series of brief straights. As the lap is so short, traffic is often an issue.

While the weather should be warm in summer, the circuit’s proximity to the Northern Styrian Alps increases the possibility of rain or more variable weather. However, last year was hot with track temperatures close to 40 degrees centigrade.

Historically, this has normally been a one-stop race with relatively low levels of tyre wear and degradation. Last year, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won with a one-stop supersoft-soft strategy, but different variations of a one-stopper were seen throughout the top 10. Outside the top 10, some drivers stopped twice.

Most of the corners are right-hand turns, but the two most demanding corners in terms of energy through the tyres are left-handers. Consequently, the loaded tyres go into them almost cold, as they are not otherwise worked hard during the lap. A key to extracting the best lap time will be to maximise the performance of those tyres.

Mario Isola, Head of F1: “Like last year, we have exactly the same nomination for Austria as we had for France, with the races again separated by only one week, at the same time of year. The difference is that the 2019 compounds are more evenly spaced, which should encourage more varied pit stop strategies and better racing.”

“Austria is an unusual track, with lots of blind corners and unpredictable elements such as weather and traffic. This means that plenty of confidence, as well as exactly the right set-up, is needed to get the best out of the tyres on this short track and maximise all the different opportunities that present themselves; also in terms of strategy.”

“Spielberg is a circuit where we have always had some blisters in the past; we are confident that we will see a difference this weekend with the 2019-specification tyre”.

Other Pirelli News

Pirelli remains in Austria for another private test following the grand prix, with Alfa Romeo running one car to test prototype 2020 Formula 1 slick tyres on Tuesday and Wednesday after the race.

The six drivers from the three top teams have all made different tyre choices from each other: a relatively unusual occurrence, which could lead to some interesting battles and tactics.

Pirelli tackles the legendary Pikes Peak hillclimb in Colorado, USA, on the same day as the Austrian Grand Prix, targeting a new production car world record with the Bentley Continental GT driven by Rhys Millen.

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LOWE: I WILL NOT RETURN TO WORK AT WILLIAMS

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Former technical director Paddy Lowe is leaving Williams with immediate effect and has stepped down from the board of directors, the Formula 1 team announced on Tuesday.

Lowe had been on an extended “leave of absence” since March 5, before the start of the season.

Lowe’s position at the former world champions appeared shaky last year and worsened after they failed to finish their new car in time for the start of testing in Barcelona and turned up two days late.

The team are last in the championship and have yet to score a point with a car that has been the slowest on track all season. Williams finished last overall in 2018 and have not won a race since 2012.

Lowe joined Williams in 2017 from dominant champions Mercedes but last year’s car – the first under his supervision – proved ill-handling and uncompetitive.

The family-owned British team have British rookie George Russell and Poland’s Robert Kubica as their drivers.

Official Press Release:

Paddy Lowe, who has been on an extended leave of absence since 5 March, will be leaving Williams and will step down from the board of directors with immediate effect.

Paddy Lowe said: “After a period of careful reflection I have reached the decision that I will not return to work at Williams.

“I wish all my previous colleagues the very best to meet the challenges ahead, which I am sure they will do. I would especially like to thank the Williams fans who are so supportive.”

Claire Williams said: “We understand and respect the decision Paddy has reached and wish him well for the future.”

MIKA: Claire Williams should do the same.... 

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WOLFF: VERY OPTIMISTIC OCON WILL BE IN A F1 CAR NEXT YEAR

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Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has taken a dig at Renault counterpart Cyril Abiteboul while remaining confident that French driver Esteban Ocon will secure a seat in Formula 1 next season.

Mercedes-backed Ocon raced for Force India, now Racing Point, last season but was left without a drive when Renault sprang a surprise and signed Australian Daniel Ricciardo from Red Bull for 2019.

Until then, the 22-year-old had looked set for the seat at the French manufacturer team as part of a loan deal agreed verbally between Abiteboul and Wolff.

“I like Cyril but in order to become a gentleman with the handshake, he needs to restore his gentleman image,” Wolff told reporters at the weekend’s French Grand Prix when asked if he would discuss another such loan.

“We are looking at all options. Esteban is a hot topic because he’s clearly one of the most promising young drivers and he deserves to be in F1, and we can see that with the interest that he generates. I am very optimistic that we will see him in a F1 car next year,” said Wolff.

Renault could have a vacancy next season with 31-year-old Nico Hulkenberg out of contract and the German’s future uncertain.

Abiteboul said in February that Hulkenberg would be measured against Ricciardo in what could be a make-or-break year.

Hulkenberg holds the Formula One record for most grands prix started without ever stepping on the podium — 164 to date with a best result of fourth.

“Nico’s contract; the initial term is coming to an end at the end of this year but there is some mechanism of options. So it’s maybe that we continue our journey with Nico. Frankly, Nico has delivered for the team,” Abiteboul said at Le Castellet.

“But also we need to look at the options, like everyone is doing, like I’m sure Nico is doing… things are open for him and for us, but there is also an option in place so that we can possibly continue our journey together.”

Hulkenberg has scored half of Renault’s 32 points this season after eight races. The team, fourth overall last year, are currently fifth and eight points behind McLaren.

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IMPERIOUS HAMILTON CLOSING IN ON SCHUMI’S AMAZING F1 RECORDS

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Lewis Hamilton could overtake Michael Schumacher’s record haul of 91 wins by the end of the season, however surreal that may sound, the Mercedes driver is accelerating towards a sixth title with an air of inevitability after Sunday’s French Grand Prix took his tally to 79 career wins with six victories in eight races so far this season.

“It’s crazy to think that we are where we are right now,” he mused at Le Castellet after his fourth win in a row sent him 36 points clear of teammate Valtteri Bottas, and 76 ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

“I definitely didn’t expect to have six wins at this point and it doesn’t feel real.”

With 13 races remaining, Hamilton has a mathematical chance of celebrating win number 92 in Abu Dhabi if he continues to steamroller all rivals in a fashion reminiscent of Schumacher in his pomp.

To do that he would have to obliterate more records, however.

No driver in the history of the sport dating back to 1950 has won more than 13 races in a season or conjured up a run of more than nine triumphs in a row. France was Hamilton’s fourth on the trot.

No team has won more than 11 in a row in the modern era. Mercedes are on 10.

If this season is unlikely to see it happen, the 34-year-old’s chances of ultimately overtaking Schumacher, whose records once seemed sure to stand the test of time, are looking better than good.

The great German, lest anyone forget, was also no stranger to boring wins every bit as one-sided as Hamilton’s pole-to-flag stroll on Sunday.

Hamilton has averaged 10 wins a season for the past five campaigns, with the Briton generally picking up an unstoppable momentum in the second half of the season.

Most ominous of all, the reigning champion has never been this dominant so early on.

In 2014, when he ended the season with 11 wins, he also won four in a row but they were his only successes in the first eight races.

Last year — another championship he ended with 11 wins — he won only three of the opening eight.

There are plenty of races to come where Mercedes can be beaten, starting with Austria next weekend where Hamilton and Bottas swept the front row last year but then suffered a double retirement.

It would be surprising if the champion fails to strike well into double figures in 2019, however.

As Hamilton observed on Sunday, it is all some turnaround from pre-season testing where it looked like Ferrari had the advantage and Mercedes were on the back foot.

“In Barcelona, I truly believed we had done a good job over the winter,” he said. “The car was looking good with the numbers and everything, we got to the test and it was a disaster to drive and it’s really difficult to know what you’ve got to change.”

The ensuing string of victories — one thanks to Vettel being handed a five-second penalty in Canada while leading from pole — came as a surprise but Hamilton is feeling stronger and stronger.

“My feeling within the car is improving as I get more into the season, particularly in qualifying but also in the race,” he warned.

“I know we’ve had a lot of success, and [Mercedes] are used to it, but I hope they continue to keep pushing. That’s what I’m doing.”

MIKA: Records are meant to be broken.

I'm not a Hamilton fan, but there is no doubt he is one of the best. Saying that, to compare records from Schumachers era where cars were a lot harder to drive, race wins yielded less points, less races per year, compared to now where anyone can sit and drive a Mercedes is not really the same sport. IMHO.

Irrespective of what I say or think as a fan, the record books will not take any of the facts into consideration so it will just be a record broken.

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WOLFF: BOTTAS JUST NEEDS TO CHANGE HIS DRIVING STYLE

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Valtteri Bottas can still challenge runaway leader Lewis Hamilton for the Formula 1 World Championship title but he needs to adapt his driving style to do it, according to Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.

The Finn finished runner-up in Sunday’s French Grand Prix, a distant 18 seconds behind his teammate, and is 36 points adrift in the standings after eight races.

He has won twice this season — leading the championship after the opener in Australia and then taking victory in Azerbaijan.

But the prospects of a real title bid have faltered since Baku, with Hamilton winning four races in a row and six of the last seven. Bottas remains three or four tenths shy of his teammate as he has been since he joined the Silver Arrows, and of course he does not appear to have an answer to ‘Hammertime’ which hands the #44 car four-tenths more thanks to the driver.

The Finn won no races last year, as Hamilton romped to the title, and took most of the winter getting himself back into the right state of mind before returning re-energised in Melbourne as ‘Bottas 2.0’.

“With a decent start in some of the last races he could have won two of them, and he knows that,” Wolff told reporters on Sunday.

“So I’m optimistic that Valtteri just needs one good weekend in order to come close to Lewis and not let him run away with the championship.”

That said, the Austrian recognised that Bottas had work to do on tyre management, particularly at certain tracks where the rears have less grip into corners.

“Valtteri has shown great pace on the single lap, I think he’s ramped up his game tremendously from last season to this season,” said Wolff of a driver with three poles to his credit this year.

“Now the second weakness that he needs to tackle is the tyre management. And he’s very aware of that where he needs to improve.

“There are tracks where he’s as strong as Lewis, or has been stronger, where it’s not rear-limited. On the tracks where that is more of a factor, he just needs to change his driving style,” added the Austrian.

“That is not trivial for a racing driver but he has all the abilities to do that.”

Wolff reiterated that Mercedes treated their drivers equally, with the same opportunities and material, and assured Bottas the team would do all they could to make sure he was “in a good place”.

Bottas said on Sunday he had been unable to match Hamilton’s pace, and had suffered some front tyre blistering in the second half of the race, but would keep fighting.

“He was really strong and consistent today, and also yesterday in qualifying. He’s not unbeatable. I know that,” he added. “I just need to work hard. “He was quick and efficient on the tyres and that’s how he made the gap.”

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F1 Race Director Michael Masi explains why Sergio Perez was penalised

French Grand Prix, 2019

Formula 1 Race Director Michael Masi says Sergio Perez was penalised in France because he passed two cars while taking the off-track route.

Perez was handed a five-second time penalty at Circuit Paul Ricard and cut an angry figure post-race as he emphasised that he had obeyed the pre-event notes regarding re-joining safely.

But Perez was judged to have overhauled Kevin Magnussen and Alexander Albon while taking the off-track route, avoiding Turn 5, with Masi emphasising that drivers had been warned.

“With the whole instruction about cutting the circuit at various points, the overriding point at I think the second last one is that when someone re-joins, they must firstly re-join safely, and two must not gain a lasting advantage.

“And looking at the in-car [footage] particularly, when you look at Lance [Stroll’s], who was immediately behind him, Sergio’s locked up, chosen to go to the left, and bypass the bollard, and come out in front of both Albon and Magnussen.

“So that was part of a discussion that was actually had following Monaco at a drivers’ meeting where the drivers actually requested that they need to be behind, effectively, who they entered.”

Masi, who took over duties following the shock death of Charlie Whiting on the eve of the Australian Grand Prix, said Racing Point never communicated to check whether Perez’s move was legal.

“To be honest, I think if Sergio had chosen going out of Turn 6 to drop back behind those two cars, I think we would have looked at it and said he’s created his own disadvantage effectively and dropped into where he should have,” concluded Masi.

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Ferrari still seeking answers on new parts claims team boss Mattia Binotto

Updated front wing, Ferrari SF90, 2019

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto says the team is still eager to understand the full picture of its upgrade package, in the wake of a so-so display at the French Grand Prix.

Binotto cautioned prior to the weekend that Ferrari was unlikely to be in the mix for victory and that its new components were going to be a small step, as it strives to improve the SF90.

Binotto’s words proved prescient as Charles Leclerc took third while Sebastian Vettel was fifth, and not all the parts tested during Friday practice were kept on the car.

“We were expecting a difficult race weekend in Paul Ricard,” said Binotto.

“We said it’s a circuit that is pretty similar to Barcelona in some respects and if you look at last year we were as poor in Paul Ricard as we were in Barcelona so I think in that respect we improved a bit, not yet sufficiently but we were not expecting to close the gap at all in Paul Ricard.

“We brought some upgrades, some of them worked well, others not. We removed the floor from the car after Friday practices.

“I think it’s always a shame when something is not working so we’ve got some homework to do in that respect but that’s ensuring that we’ve got some margin to improve the car.

“At least the direction that we are starting to set is the right one. Still much to do but overall I think that I cannot say it was a positive weekend but I think not too bad as well considering initial expectations.”

He added: “I don’t think we’ve got all the answers from the weekend because the floor was not working properly and somehow there is a lack of answers. We will still work on that one.

“I think we’ll have some test items again in Austria, to try and better understand. I think we will fully understand normally when all the parts fully work as expected.”

Ferrari is now 140 points behind Mercedes, with Vettel 76 points adrift of runaway leader Lewis Hamilton, but the four-time champion stressed that the outfit has to keep pushing.

“Sometimes we move a step ahead, unfortunately, this weekend some bits didn’t work but overall I think the pressure is there and the ambition is there to keep improving,” he outlined.

“If it was easy we would do it overnight and we would’ve done it already a lot of races ago.

“But it’s not easy but obviously they’re [Mercedes] very, very strong and currently showing the limits to all the other teams so it’s up to us to come up with solutions and make our car faster so we can put more pressure on them.”

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Lewis Hamilton: F1 can’t turn its back on Silverstone

Lewis Hamilton

Reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton says Formula 1 can’t turn its back on Silverstone and believes there is the capacity for two events in Britain.

The current deal between Liberty Media and the British Grand Prix expires at the end of 2019, though it is understood that a new contract is set to be reached.

Formula 1’s inaugural race took place at Silverstone in 1950, with the circuit having been a mainstay on the schedule since 1987.

“There are some really awesome circuits and Silverstone is one of those,” said Hamilton.

“The UK is really amongst the foundation of what this sport is and if you start taking away the legendary races and it’s all just new ones, you lose all the history and all the culture which is what Formula 1 is.

“So I truly believe they have to keep Formula 1 in the UK and particularly Silverstone, it’s such an awesome track, such an awesome place. One of the biggest turnouts of all season. Can’t turn your back on that.

“It wouldn't be bad to have two races in UK, because I think London would be awesome for the country and tourism and all that kind of stuff, such a big noise and event in the world.

“I don’t know if it will happen. As long as we have one of them. We have all these great tracks in the UK. Don’t know who designed them all but they did a great job.”

Formula 1 is set to feature two new/returning events in 2020 in the shape of Vietnam and the Netherlands, though Hamilton has warned that the sport must find the right balance of events.

“Liberty is doing a good job in terms of bringing other places into the sport,” he said.

“We’ve just got to be careful though that when [you] choose tracks you choose places with a great fan base and yes we’ve got to create new fan bases in places, but also got to find a track that’s going to deliver exciting races.

“Sometimes I can already tell you how bad the race is going to be, in some of the places they have decided to bring on.

“There’s great places and a big fan base there but the race isn’t going to be great. Not going to say where that is but you will see next year.”

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Ricciardo: Paul Ricard should consider different layout for F1

Ricciardo: Paul Ricard should consider different layout for F1

Daniel Ricciardo believes the organisers of the French Grand Prix should consider running the Formula 1 race at a different layout of the Paul Ricard circuit.

F1 found itself facing complaints about how boring it was when the French Grand Prix proved a disappointment – with a lack of drama at the front and the only real excitement coming on the final lap as a struggling Lando Norris got engulfed by a swarm of cars.

Ricciardo, who overtook Norris and fought off Kimi Raikkonen on the final lap but was penalised for two infringements, said passing was "tricky" in the race.

"I think as well because for Turn 8, at the end of that DRS, you brake so late that unless you're really kind of alongside or there, it's really hard to make a big lunge," he said.

“And also with this new tarmac, if you do go off line, if you're carrying too much speed, then you're never making the corner. So it does make the track very one-line, and for that I think it was difficult as well for overtaking.”

Asked whether the track's characteristics brought the worst out of F1, Ricciardo said: “It is tricky. There's a lot of long corners and you're in those medium-speed corners where you struggle so hard to stay close to a car, and the first few laps there, when I was behind the guys on softs, I was just killing the tyres.

“It was my fault for putting myself out of position at the start but, yeah, it does make it tricky for racing. So, tough one, I know they've got so many variations here, maybe they could look at something else.”

Ricciardo's teammate Nico Hulkenberg, who endured a frustrating afternoon as he was trapped behind Raikkonen for almost the entire race, agreed with the premise that the current layout did not work well with F1's current-spec cars.

“They are fast, they are spectacular, but the problem is you can’t get close to a car and this is one of the worst tracks for it,” said Hulkenberg, when asked by Motorsport.com.

“It’s always third/fourth gear and the speeds are quite high, so the aero effect is just massive. That’s what I just did - spending one and a half hours experiencing that.

“But I think for the 2021 rules that hopefully will be addressed properly. Hopefully we can have a track like this but with much better racing.”

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