In the round-up today: Interlagos F1 tyre test cancelled amid security fears; Bottas’ performance was embarassing says Jacques Villeneuve; Conservative engine mode hurt performance says RedBull; Vettel win shows how strong SF70H is say Ferrari; Hamilton voices concern over weight in next year’s cars; Vandoorne says Alonso not a mentor; Steiner hits out at inconsistent stewarding again.
Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has decided to cancel its planned test at the Interlagos circuit due to safety concerns at the Brazilian Grand Prix venue.
The two-day test, aimed at completing Pirelli’s evaluation work on its 2018 tyres, was scheduled to take place on Tuesday and Wednesday with McLaren drivers Stoffel Vandoorne and Lando Norris.
However, following a robbery attempt on Sunday involving Pirelli staff, the Italian manufacturer announced on Monday that the test has been called off.
“The decision, shared with McLaren, FIA and Formula 1, was made in the interest of the safety of the personnel, both McLaren’s and our own, who would have participated in the test.”
McLaren added: “We have jointly decided with Pirelli to cancel this week’s tyre test at Interlagos. The safety of our people has always been our top priority, and, given recent events, we felt that it was an unnecessary risk to proceed.”
Apart from the Pirelli incident on Sunday, members of the Mercedes, Williams and Sauber teams were involved in another two separate attacks outside of the circuit during the grand prix weekend.
Although there were no injuries in the attacks, questions have been raised about the security of the venue after organisers had promised additional police around the circuit following the first incident.
World champion Lewis Hamilton had been one of the most vocal drivers in expressing his dismay at the situation.
The mayor of Sao Paulo said public safety is the city government’s responsibility and believes the Formula 1 Brazilian GP venue sale will improve safety after a spate of attacks.
The city of Sao Paulo is in discussions with three parties interested in purchasing the Interlagos circuit.
Pressure on public funds, amid an uncertain economic climate in Brazil, has led to a proposal to raise cash through the privatisation of real estate, including the circuit, owned by the city.
Doria said privatising the circuit will lead to enhanced security in and around the venue.
Doria added that the city is pushing on with plans to sell the circuit and expects the sale to be completed in the “first half of next year”.
Interlagos has a deal to host F1 until 2020 and Doria hopes the new owners can “renew for another decade”.
Valtteri Bottas’s performance in the Brazilian Grand Prix was “embarrassing” and the level of a “number two” driver, says 1997 Formula 1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve.
“It was a great drive from Vettel, he won it at the start,” Villeneuve told Motorsport.com. “He was aggressive.
“When you see what the Mercedes was capable of, you just have to look at Lewis and Bottas wasn’t up to pace. It’s embarrassing for Bottas.
“Lewis finished around three seconds behind him when he started from the pits.
“It’s embarrassing. He simply is not on the pace of Hamilton. It’s been like that all year. That’s his level. Which is a good number two.”
Bottas admitted he lost the race by getting a poor start and letting Vettel beat him to the first corner, but he believes it was very close in terms of performance between the two.
Red Bull says that a combination of track characteristics and being forced to run conservative engine modes were to blame for its failure to challenge Mercedes and Ferrari in the Brazilian Grand Prix.
When asked to explain why Red Bull’s pace in the Brazilian GP was not great, Horner said: “I think, circuit layout, and we’ve run pretty conservative engine-wise – to be honest with you.
“The way that the race panned out, Max [Verstappen] was having to take so much out of the tyre to go with the leading group, and you could see, if he got within two seconds, it started to damage the tyres.
“Early on, he thought he was quicker than Kimi, but then the tyre started to get into a few issues and then you start to be restricted in your stint length. So it was one of those days where we just didn’t quite have enough pace to mount a challenge to the cars ahead.”
Although annoyed that the lack of engine performance hampered its bid for another podium finish, Horner admitted that after recent reliability problems, and a shortage of parts, it would have made little sense to try to push things to the limit.
“I think after all the problems that there’s been, it was perhaps the more prudent approach to the race,” he explained. “And this layout – you know, it’s different, it’s very power sensitive here, more so than Mexico.
“With the operating parameters, we ran a little lower. But of course it’s a different challenge here, there’s a lot more full throttle here than there is in Mexico.”
Sebastian Vettel’s win in Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix clearly demonstrated the strength of Ferrari’s 2017 car, says Maurizio Arrivabene.
“Already in qualifying, it was clear that the SF70H was quick and well prepared,” Arrivabene said.
“On Sunday, we got the confirmation that we have a very good car at our disposal.
“The result of this race is also down to the great job carried out by the team, both here at the track and back in Maranello, not forgetting the drivers who, on the day, know how to step up to the mark.
“Now we look ahead to the next challenge in Abu Dhabi, still determined to give it our all, right to the very end.”
Vettel reiterated his belief that, while it all looked easy from the outside, the Brazilian GP had in fact been a very difficult race to manage.
Lewis Hamilton is concerned by F1 taking on more weight next season following the introduction of the Halo and additional engine management components.
With power unit allowance reduced from four to three units for the entire season, the 2017 world champion and Mercedes driver fears the negative consequences which could accompany the changes.
“I don’t like the idea of going to three,” Hamilton said, according to the BBC, referring to the decreased number of engines allowed in 2018.
“That sucks. Sprinting is what we are missing in F1.
“The car is going to be a bus next year, it is going to be so heavy, like a NASCAR. The braking distances get longer, the brakes are always on fire, on the limit,” he lamented.
“I know it sounds negative but as a racer we want fast, nimble cars where we can attack always every single lap.”
Hamilton admitted however that those hopes likely won’t materialize anytime soon.
“Unfortunately that is not what we generally have. I had that today but I was coming from a different place. If you look at the front guys, they were managing and that is what we are normally doing.
“I don’t think that is too exciting for people to watch,” he admitted.
“If you look at the most exciting races, particularly when it rains, we don’t have those limitations. I’m not sure cutting down engines is helping it in that direction.”
McLaren Stoffel Vandoorne sees team mate Fernando Alonso as just another competitor, dispelling the notion the Spaniard is a mentor for the Belgian charger.
Vandoorne denied however that his relationship was comparable to that of Lance Stroll and Felipe Massa at Williams, insisting teh two-time world champion was not his mentor.
“No!” he told Brazil’s Globo.
“Of course we work together on the same team and in the same direction, but he does not stand next to me helping.
“We are very open and have normal conversations when we are out of the car,” Vandoorne added. “But he is not there to be my mentor.
“Maybe Lance needs this, I don’t know.”
Vandoorne admitted however that racing alongside one of F1’s greatest drivers did have its benefits.
“He’s probably the best reference in formula one,” Vandoorne agrees.
“I have a good relationship with him, even if there is a lot of competition, which is normal.
“We do not have a strong package this year, but it has been positive for me because I had the chance to get quite close to him,” he added.
Haas team principal Gunther Steiner has criticised Formula 1’s stewards for a lack of consistency after Romain Grosjean was penalised in the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Grosjean lost control of his Haas at Turn 5 on the opening lap of the grand prix and hit Esteban Ocon, sending the Force India into the barrier and into his first F1 retirement.
The stewards deemed Grosjean to be at fault and handed him a 10-second time penalty and two points on his licence.
Grosjean, who finished 15th, apologised for causing the accident but said after the race he is “struggling to understand” why he was handed a penalty.
Steiner questioned the severity of the penalty, given Lance Stroll only got one point and a three-place grid penalty after blocking Grosjean in Mexican GP qualifying.
“I share my surprise more in the verdict,” said Steiner. “It doesn’t influence our result here. We were done by then. We took it as a test session, nothing else.
“He got two penalty points for a race accident in my opinion. Then you see Stroll got one penalty point when the speed difference was 140km/h and that was pretty dangerous.
“I’m struggling with consistency here. I continue to struggle. It doesn’t get any better. The more I mention it, I think it gets worse.”
Steiner spoke to F1 race director Charlie Whiting immediately after the race in Mexico to try to understand why Grosjean was penalised for cutting a corner and Fernando Alonso was not punished when they later made contact.
At the time Steiner said they had “constructive discussions” but when asked if there has been any progress on the issue since the talks, the Haas team boss said: “Not as far as I know.
“Today hasn’t shown any progress. It’s difficult, very difficult.”
Kevin Magnussen escaped sanction from the stewards after being summoned to explain his role in the incident at the start the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Speaking before the decision, Steiner said: “It was a racing incident. Turn 1, what should he do? Let everyone by again?
“It’s very similar to Sebastian Vettel – Max Verstappen incident in Singapore when Vettel didn’t see [Kimi] Raikkonen was on the left [and they collided but no driver received a penalty]. It happened. For me it’s as simple as this.”