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McLaren F1 driver Norris tests positive for COVID-19 - Motorsport
McLaren Formula 1 driver Lando Norris has tested positive for COVID-19 and is now self-isolating in Dubai.
Norris is currently in the United Arab Emirates on holiday ahead of a planned training camp, but after recognising some symptoms, underwent a test for COVID-19 on Monday. McLaren confirmed in a statement that Norris had tested positive, and would now be self-isolating for the next two weeks. "McLaren can confirm that Lando Norris tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday in Dubai, where he is currently on holiday ahead of a planned training camp," a statement reads. "After recognising a loss of taste and smell, he was tested immediately and informed the team. In line with local regulations, he is now self-isolating at his hotel for 14 days. "He is currently feeling well and reports no other symptoms." Norris is the fourth F1 driver known to have tested positive for COVID-19. Racing Point driver Sergio Perez was forced to miss two races last year after contracting the virus ahead of the British Grand Prix, while teammate Lance Stroll tested positive after pulling out of the Nurburgring race weekend. Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton missed the penultimate race of the 2020 season in Bahrain after testing positive, but was able to return for the season finale in Abu Dhabi. "Yesterday I lost my sense of taste and smell so immediately self isolated and took a test," Norris wrote in a message on social media. "It's come back as positive, so I've told everyone that I've been in contact with and will be self isolating for the next 14 days. "I feel alright and have no other symptoms but I just wanted to let you all know. Take care." F1 drivers underwent rigorous testing throughout the 2020 season as part of the series' protocols to ensure grands prix could be staged in a safe manner. Although they will not be subject to such strict guidelines mandated by the FIA during the off-season, a number of drivers have spoken about the need to keep safe and ensure their winter preparations are not impacted. Related video
Hamilton knighted in UK Queen’s New Year Honours list - Motorsport
Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton has received a knighthood in the United Kingdom Queen’s 2021 New Year Honours list, which was officially announced on Wednesday evening.
The knighthood which means he will be known formally as Sir Lewis Hamilton has been awarded at the end of a year that saw him match Michael Schumachers record of seven F1 World Championship titles and surpass the German's race wins tally. He has also pursued a campaign to increase diversity in the sport and frequently spoken out against racism in society, although the honour is for his services to motorsports. It comes exactly 12 years after Hamilton, following his first World Championship title, became a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for services to motor racing. Hamilton is the third F1 World Champion to receive a knighthood, following Jack Brabham (in 1978) and Jackie Stewart (2001), while the honour also went to Stirling Moss (2000). However, Hamilton is the first to gain this status while still an active driver. In addition, racers and land speed record breakers Henry Segrave (1929) and Malcolm Campbell (1931) were both knighted before World War II. Read Also: Aside from drivers, Williams F1 team founders Frank Williams and Patrick Head have also received knighthoods, in 1999 and 2015 respectively. Hamilton has been awarded a knighthood at the age of just 35, although he is not the youngest sportsman to be recognised in the modern era. Tennis star Andy Murray was 29 when he was named in the 2017 New Year Honours list, following his second Wimbledon victory, while cyclists Bradley Wiggins and Chris Hoy were both 32. Sailor Ellen MacArthur was 28 when she was made a dame, the equivalent of a knighthood, in 2005. New F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, who officially starts work in January, has paid tribute to Hamilton. Lewis is a true giant of our sport and his influence is huge both in and out of a car, said Domenicali. What he has achieved is phenomenal with still more to come. All of us at F1 congratulate him on this well-deserved recognition of his achievements and look forward to seeing more of his brilliance in 2021. Mercedes-Benz AMG F1 team principal Toto Wolff commented: "Lewis is one of the very greatest racing drivers of all time and the most successful British sportsperson of his era. Around the world, he has long been recognised for his sporting achievement; this year, he combined his excellence on the track with a powerful voice to fight discrimination. In every sense, he led the way in 2020. "The news that he is to receive a knighthood shows that he is now receiving the recognition he has earned during a career of unparalleled success in motorsport. The UK can be very proud to have a champion and ambassador of the calibre of Sir Lewis Hamilton." 2008 FIA Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, and winning constructor Ferrari Team director Stefano Domenicali Photo by: FIA Earlier this month Hamilton received recognition from the British public when he was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year for a second time, having previously won the prestigious award in 2014. He also won the 2020 Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsman of the Year prize, sharing it with footballer Lionel Messi. Read Also: Related video
The 2021 design tweaks revealed in Abu Dhabi - Motorsport
Formula 1's opening day of practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was quite a low-key affair in terms of the battle for this weekend.
However, a closer look at the cars showed that the focus of many teams was very much on 2021, as there were a host of next year's parts being tried out including floors, diffusers and brake ducts. Haas dipped its toe into testing 2021 specification parts for the first time at the Yas Marina circuit, whilst Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault used practice as another opportunity to gather data that can be used to develop their solutions for next season. The 2021 regulations require teams to cut a triangular shaped section of the floor out ahead of the rear tyre, and also prohibit the use of fully enclosed holes in this area too (main image). Meanwhile, the rear brake duct winglets in the lower half of the brake duct will have to be 40mm narrower and 50mm has to be lopped off the bottom of the diffuser strakes. The aim of these changes is to reduce downforce by approximately 10 percent and alleviate some of the stress this causes the tyres when they're fully loaded up. So, let's take a look at the various solutions that the teams have been evaluating... Red Bull Racing RB16 floor detail Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images Having briefly tested 2021 specification parts on its car in Portugal, Red Bull took the opportunity to capture more data in FP1. Its floor featured the required cut-out ahead of the rear tyre but we can see it is already looking at ways of influencing the airflow. The twisted floor strake (arrowed) helps to move airflow across the tyre face, mitigating some of the effects of tyre squirt that reduce the performance of the diffuser. Ferrari SF1000 floor detail Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images Ferrari arrived in Abu Dhabi with a new 2021 specification floor design, having already tested parts for next season in Portugal. A vertical strake has now been added on the edge of the floor (circled), rather than the dog-eared edge that featured on the previous floor iteration. Slots also break up the strake in order that the airflow be affected by them. Furthermore, ahead of this, Ferrari has added three twisted winglets that hope to prime the airflow received by the rear tyre (red arrow). Ferrari SF1000 floor detail Photo by: Giorgio Piola The floor specification tested in Portugal featured a dog-eared edge ahead of the rear tyre Pietro Fittipaldi, Haas F1 Haas VF-20 Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images Haas fitted Fittipaldi's car with the 2021 specification parts, which included a version of next year's floor that more closely represents the design that the FIA intended when introducing the regulations. Esteban Ocon, Renault F1 Team R.S.20 Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images Renault also has a simplified version of the floor that we saw it test in Bahrain, but this time it was installed on Ocon's car. Related video
Mercedes impressed by how Russell handled pressure - Motorsport
Mercedes head of trackside engineering Andrew Shovlin has cited the way George Russell handled pressure as one of the outstanding aspects of the team newcomer's Bahrain GP weekend.
Russell only had Wednesday and Thursday to prepare before driving Lewis Hamilton's car in Friday practice on Sakhir's outer circuit. He topped both sessions, qualified second to team mate Valtteri Bottas, and then lost victory in the race after a pitstop mix-up and subsequent puncture. Shovlin said that the team knew that Russell would be fast, but was impressed by the way he attacked when a high profile mistake would have been costly. "Probably the thing that was least surprising was his speed in qualifying," said Shovlin. "Because if you look at what he'd been doing in the Williams, clearly he knows how to drive a car quickly. And he knows how to get the most out of it. "So that was not a complete shock to me, it was kind of what we were hoping to see, and what we were pleased that we did see. "How he handled the pressure, that's the harder thing to really predict, how he's going to get on. But that was very impressive, actually, he really attacked the session. "The risk if this is one opportunity to show what you can do in a fast car is it's so easy to get it wrong. And it's so easy to create lasting impressions. "But clearly, he wasn't thinking about that for a second. He really attacked the session. He was confident, he was disciplined. He was methodical in how he approached each run. "At times, we were under pressure with both drivers in the early part of it. And he stayed calm, and that was nice to see. He's clearly a very good racing driver." Shovlin stressed that the team had tried hard to help Russell adjust to his new environment. "We were just trying to feed the information to him in a way that wasn't going to overwhelm him," he said. "We weren't telling him things on Thursday night that he didn't need to know until Sunday morning. So we tried to have a sort of structured approach, as it's quite a difficult thing for the drivers to jump from one team to another, one car to another. "And he obviously did a good job, and in some ways our car will be easier than the Williams that he normally drives because it's quite a nice handling car, there aren't any major vices, it's got good grip. So in some ways that direction is easier. "But the fact is the performance envelope of our car is much bigger. And you can brake later, you can get on the throttle sooner, you can be more aggressive with it, and the car will look after you and, and not catch you out as much as some others, and you can carry much more speed into corners. And it's just sort of understanding that. "And it takes more than one race to really build up a sort of full appreciation of what the car can do. One of the things that he was sort of chipping away at was just understanding how late you can actually brake for Turn 1, and how much speed you can carry into Turn 7 and 8. "He's done a good job, he's approached that methodically. And importantly, he's done it without going over the limit. Because you go over the limit, and then you can end up with some significant consequences." Shovlin conceded that fitting Russell into Hamilton's W11 hadn't been easy. "It was difficult. And it's been made difficult by the fact that we've not had such a tall driver for a very, very long time. "And every year, as you're looking for what can you squeeze, something here and there, and work on the packaging, and put a bit more performance on the thing, it becomes a less and less comfortable environment for a guy who's quite a bit over six foot tall. "It's not just physically things being in the way, and not being able to have your normal seating position. Also it's painful, because we can't quite get enough space for him. So he's being pinched, and the seat is not quite perfect. "And so it's not just that you're cramped, it actually hurts to drive. He was determined to fit. And he was determined to be able to drive it. But it won't be a perfect environment for him." Related video
Hamilton in race to be fit for Abu Dhabi GP - Motorsport.com, Edition: Global
Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton is in a race to get fit and test negative for COVID-19 in order to participate in the Abu Dhabi GP.
Hamilton was announced as having tested positive last Tuesday, handing George Russell the chance to enjoy a sensational weekend with the Mercedes team in the Sakhir GP. While Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll were both quickly able to recover and return after missing races due to positive tests, Hamiltons case is made more complicated by the strict regulations applied in both Bahrain and in Abu Dhabi. He remains under a strict quarantine in Bahrain, and is currently just seven days into it. However, the biggest challenge is that Abu Dhabi has applied especially tight restrictions, where all regular arrivals in the country face a 14-day quarantine. An exception has been made for F1, and the entire paddock is obliged to travel on Monday under controlled conditions, before entering a closed biosphere around the track and the neighbouring hotels. Hamilton has the flexibility of travelling in a private jet, but he will have to gain special dispensation from the Abu Dhabi authorities if he is to travel later this week. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has made it clear that Hamilton's car will be waiting for him if he is able to travel. I think if Lewis recovers, and is getting better every day, and hes been considered COVID free, negative, then he will be in the car, he said after Sundays Sakhir GP. FIA race director Michael Masi said Hamiltons fate was in the hands of the two governments involved. Obviously the main part with all of this has always been complying with the respective governments, laws and regulations, said Masi. So it's very much a decision for the Bahraini health authorities to determine if Lewis is fit and complies with their regulations, and then further for the Abu Dhabi authorities to determine their criteria. So it's effectively two government entities that need to determine entry criteria. If he meets the entry criteria of the respective governments and then further complies with the testing protocol from an FIA perspective, in being tested negative prior to entering the paddock, then there's no problems from our perspective." In theory, Hamilton has to be in Abu Dhabi at the latest by Saturday afternoon in order to participate in the qualifying session. Within the current framework of the regulations, similar to what was used in Nurburgring, as long as the driver participates in a practice session, or qualifying, they're permitted to race, said Masi. So technically here and now a driver only has to fulfil one of those criteria. So they couldn't just turn up and race, as their only thing, they would have to do one of the practice sessions, be it free practice or qualifying practice beforehand. The problem for both Mercedes and Williams is that both need to know as soon as possible if Hamilton is able to travel, and commit by Friday to Russell driving the car or not, to avoid the possibility of him having to swap back in the middle of the weekend. Should it become apparent that Hamiltons car will only be vacant on Friday, one option could be to allow reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne to drive it until the world champion arrives, rather than disrupt Russells preparations with Williams. Related video
Bruised Russell fears fatigue after squeezing into Mercedes - Motorsport
George Russell expects his Mercedes Formula 1 debut in the Sakhir Grand Prix to be “quite a fatiguing race” considering his struggles fitting into the cockpit of Lewis Hamilton’s car.
Russell is having to squeeze into the W11 that has been optimised around Hamilton, who is four inches shorter, and is wearing race boots that are one size too small to help the situation. He is also having issues with the clutch paddles on the Mercedes steering wheel being too small for his hands although the team is understood to have made some modifications to help with this. After qualifying second behind temporary teammate Valtteri Bottas for Sundays grand prix, Russell explained how the cockpit issues might impact him during the race. He said: Im very bruised and sore and its going to be quite a fatiguing race if youre not comfortable in the car. I had ice on my shoulders last night to reduce some swelling and what have you, and knees [and] toes. When asked about his mindset ahead of the race, Russell said he was feeling very relaxed, to be honest. When I was waiting for confirmation if Id got this drive, it was incredibly anxious but as soon as I got the confirmation, I just saw it as a great opportunity, so I was pretty chilled, he added. Everyone at Mercedes Toto [Wolff] and James [Allison] they just said: Go out and enjoy it theres zero expectation from you. If Lewis were to jump in a Williams, lets say, it would be difficult, so were not expecting anything from you, and if you qualify first two rows, top five, top six fine. You can still get a podium from there. So [Im feeling] very relaxed. But obviously I always want to do well, I always want to be happy with my own performance and then comfort-wise its still not perfect. Russell finished just 0.026s behind Bottas in qualifying and said the difference between them was down to problems hed been having keeping speed high at the exit of Turn 1. The main thing, I was just struggling with a lot of understeer at the apex, which meant when I picked up the power, I was just getting a snap of oversteer, Russell explained. The driving style I was doing in the Williams last week [in the Bahrain GP], where I was strong last week in the Williams, was not working, and it was very different to Valtteri, very different to what Lewis was doing. I think the Mercedes just has so much more grip and so much more front end on the entry phase that could allow me to carry a bit more speed, but it was difficult. Its just a very different way to drive the car.
Russell's speed with Mercedes shows what F1 is missing - Sainz - Motorsport
George Russell’s impressive performance for Mercedes at the Sakhir Grand Prix shows what Formula 1 is missing by there not being a level playing field between teams, says Carlos Sainz.
With Russell having qualified on the front row in Bahrain after a last-minute call up by Mercedes to replace Lewis Hamilton, the young Briton looks on course to take the first points and potentially the first podium of his career. And while many of his rivals say they are not surprised that Russell has done so well straight out of the box, Sainz believes that the situation proves that the spread of form between cars is too big to allow driving talent to shine through. He thinks there is something wrong in the way that Russell can only really show how good he is by stepping in to a car like the Mercedes that allows him to prove his skills. It just demonstrates what Formula 1 is missing out from, by having cars that are two seconds apart when pretty much the whole grid could be within three tenths of a second because of the talent there is on the grid, explains Sainz. It's a shame that a guy that is fighting for P15 every weekend, suddenly when you put him in a race winning car, he's 20 thousandths off pole. If anything for me, this demonstrates what F1 is missing out from, creating a much more incredible show if you could level the playing field a bit more and allow the driver to make more of a difference. At the moment, when you are one second off the pace or two seconds off the pace you cannot really see the last two tenths from a driver that makes a difference. Sainzs McLaren teammate Lando Norris thinks the quality of talent on the F1 grid means that a lot of drivers would be doing what Russell had done this weekend but says there remain things that Hamilton brings to Mercedes that few could match. We can all drive cars extremely quickly, and maybe it's just a car that suits George and probably suits a lot of other drivers as well, he said. If you want to win a championship, you need to be in a Mercedes. So I think a lot of drivers could do something kind of similar and, at some races, bring the fight to Valtteri or bring a fight to Lewis. But there's a lot of traits which Lewis has, like his consistency to be able to be on pole, the majority of the weekends and have flawless races without mistakes. I think those are his impressive traits. I think if we go to Abu Dhabi maybe you'll see a slightly different story. I think this is a track with four corners. If there's a track where maybe it's a bit easier for a driver to jump into a new car and do something special, it is probably here. So it'll be interesting to see if George was in the Mercedes next weekend in Abu Dhabi, whether it'll be the same story and whether he'd be even quicker, or whether he just struggles that little bit more because he doesn't know the Mercedes like the back of his hand like Valtteri would. Related video
Wolff calls for calm after Russell tops first Sakhir practice - Motorsport
Toto Wolff called for calm after seeing George Russell set the fastest time in his first Formula 1 practice session in the Mercedes W11 car.
Williams regular Russell will make his first start for Mercedes this weekend in Bahrain after being drafted in to replace seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who tested positive for COVID-19. Russell hit the ground running in opening practice for the Sakhir Grand Prix, finishing at the top of the timesheets and beating teammate Valtteri Bottas by three-tenths of a second. But Mercedes team principal Wolff called for calm in the wake of Russells result, feeling there were a number of factors to consider and not get too excited about. We need to calm everybody down, because it was a first session on a new and short circuit, Wolff said. He delivered a really solid job, what we expected from him on a single lap. The long runs are difficult with all the cars anyway, and difficult to really establish a benchmark because Valtteri broke his car very early on in the session. He wasnt really able to stop it properly. So I would say Im happy with what George has done. Its about what we expected him to. Russell has been part of Mercedes young driver programme since the end of 2016, and is the first member to race for its works team. The British driver is yet to score a point in his F1 career, but has impressed with his performances for the backmarker Williams squad, as well as winning the title in Formula 2 and GP3 Series prior to joining the grid. Wolff felt Russells mentality and talent had been proven throughout his career, meaning he had no issues stepping up to a front-running car and dealing with the related pressures. Hes somebody that is generally relaxed, Wolff said. He comes across on the radio as chatty and buzzing, but driving the car, in the debriefs, hes very focused and calm. The race record that he has, winning GP3, winning F2, both in the rookie years, and the maturity he has shown from a very early age stand out. I remember him coming to my office when he was 15 or 16 years old with a black suit and a black tie with a powerpoint presentation why Mercedes should support him. So very mature for his age. But probably well-suited from his personality to jump in the car in such a high-pressure situation. Lets keep both feet on the ground, its FP1. We havent discussed it, [they] havent been taken out in anger, and havent raced yet. Related video
Russell frontrunner to replace Hamilton at Mercedes - Motorsport
George Russell has emerged as the front runner to replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes for the Sakhir Grand Prix, Motorsport.com understands, with a final decision due on Wednesday morning.
With Hamilton having been forced out of this weekends second Bahrain race because of a positive coronavirus test, Mercedes has been pondering its options about who best to step in. It is understood that the choice from the off was whether to hand the opportunity to reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne, who is flying to Bahrain tonight following this weeks Formula E test at Valencia, or arrange a deal to take Russell from Williams. Vandoorne and Russell are the only two available drivers who have had seat fittings with the team and have previous experience of working with the outfit, factors that are believed to rule out other options like Nico Hulkenberg. Russell is part of the Mercedes young driver programme and his three-year deal at Williams was always being viewed as a way of preparing him for a future with the German car manufacturers works team. Any move to take Russell would not be automatic, however, with the young Briton under firm contract at his current Grove-based outfit. However, with Mercedes having a good relationship with the Williams team, it is possible that a separate deal could be arranged to loan him out. Sources suggest that discussions about a potential deal are ongoing. Beyond any financial incentive of loaning Russell, an added attraction for Williams would also be that the youngster, who is committed to the team for 2021, would return to it after his loan spell as a higher profile driver with some solid experience from a front-running car and potentially strong results underneath him. Russell also brings with him current race experience and a good understanding of this years Pirelli tyres. For while Vandoorne has extensively tested in the Mercedes simulator, and will likely having done preparation work for this weekends race on the outer loop, he has not raced in F1 since the end of the 2018 F1 season. Russell is believed to be Mercedes preferred option because of the benefits it will bring him in terms of his long term development. But it is understood no final decision has been taken as talks remain ongoing between Mercedes and Williams about the scope of any arrangement. Mercedes is believed to want a decision made by Wednesday morning, however, so it can prepare properly for the weekend ahead. Should a deal be struck for Russell to move to Mercedes for either one or two grands prix, then Williams is likely to promote its reserve driver Jack Aitken for his F1 debut. Aitken is due to race in the F2 season finale this weekend, and took part in a Friday free practice session for Williams at this years Styrian Grand Prix. Related video
Grosjean recalls Bahrain GP escape: "I saw death coming" - Motorsport
Romain Grosjean has recalled his escape from his fiery crash at the Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix, revealing he told himself to get out of the wreckage for his children.
Grosjean crashed out on the opening lap of Sunday's race in Bahrain, hitting the barrier at the exit of Turn 3 at 137 mph, recording a force of more than 50g. The Haas F1 car tore apart on impact and burst into flames, leaving Grosjean to escape from his cockpit that had become embedded in the barrier. The Frenchman escaped quickly, suffering only burns to his hands and avoiding any broken bones. Grosjean will remain in hospital until at least Wednesday and will miss this weekend's Sakhir Grand Prix, but is hopeful of returning for the season finale in Abu Dhabi. Speaking in his first extended interview since the accident, Grosjean joked that he had "Mickey Mouse's hands" due to his bandages, but was otherwise fine and had no issue moving. Grosjean recalled his immediate thoughts in the accident, conceding that it felt longer than the 28-second period from impact to him getting out of the car. "I don't know if the word miracle exists or if it can be used, but in any case I would say it wasn't my time [to die]," Grosjean told TF1. "It felt much longer than 28 seconds. I see my visor turning all orange, I see the flames on the left side of the car. I thought about a lot of things, including Niki Lauda, and I thought that it wasn't possible to end up like that, not now. I couldn't finish my story in Formula 1 like that. "And then, for my children, I told myself that I had to get out. I put my hands in the fire, so I clearly felt it burning on the chassis. "I got out, then I felt someone pulling on the suit, so I knew I was out." Grosjean revealed that his five-year-old son, Simon, believes he has "magical powers" and that he has a "magical love shield" that protected him. "These are very strong words from the children," Grosjean said. "My eldest, Sacha, who is seven years old, is more rational, he tries to understand. "And my little one has drawn a picture, 'for daddy's sores on his hands'." Grosjean acknowledged he would likely need to discuss the trauma of such a dramatic accident as he feared he would be killed. "I was more afraid for my family and friends, obviously my children who are my greatest source of pride and energy, than for myself in the end," Grosjean said. "I think there's going to be some psychological work to be done, because I really saw death coming. "Even in Hollywood, we're not able to do images like that. It's the biggest crash I've ever seen in my life. The car catching fire, exploding, and the battery that burst into flames too, so it added a lot of energy to the impact." Grosjean gave thanks for the messages he had received, but said again that he was eager to be back in the car in time for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. "I would say that there is a feeling of being happy to be alive, of seeing things differently," Grosjean said. "But also there is the need to get back in the car, if possible in Abu Dhabi, to finish my story with Formula One in a different way. "It was almost like a second birth. To come out of the flames that day is something that will mark my life forever. "I have a lot of people who have shown me love and it has touched me a lot, and at times I get a bit teary-eyed." Related video
Hamilton: Mercedes no longer has rotation weakness - Motorsport
Mercedes has managed to cure the one weakness its long-wheelbase Formula 1 car concept has had in terms of difficulty with corner rotation, says Lewis Hamilton.
The German car manufacturer has differed from other teams in electing to run a longer car during the latest rules phase. While the length of the car offers greater opportunity for improved downforce as there is more car area for airflow to influence it has meant it is not as nimble in corners as shorter rivals like Red Bull. While Mercedes has always believed that its long concept is the right way to go for the current rules set, it has had to battle hard to try to overcome the increased difficulty its drivers face in getting the car rotated in corners. Hamilton says that he has been surprised other teams have not pursued the Mercedes idea, especially now that the team made changes this winter to the W11 that have helped it wipe out its problem area. With last years car for example, we had the longest car, he said. Its definitely been a bit of a surprise to see that none of the other teams have gone to the longest car. Weve been winning with the longest car since 2017, and they [other teams] are so stuck in the way they do things, in that were still going to keep our car shorter. Being that its a long car, its obviously got great downforce, but its not as nimble as a shorter car. Last year our car was good through medium and high-speed corners, but was quite poor in low-speed corners. The car would not rotate as well as wed like. We started this year in winter testing and the car had similar characteristics. I had some challenges that I put towards the team in terms of how we set the car up, which changed that. Its difficult to say too much but that difficulty we had last year with the car rotating, we dont have that problem any more. Hamilton says he is a driver who always prefers a responsive front end to a car, which has not always been something that Mercedes has delivered in recent seasons. However, he says dialling out the setup characteristics has not been the work of the moment, because of the complexity involved in ensuring a change in car balance does not hurt the tyres too much. Ive always preferred a more positive front end in the car, he said. But theres a limitation with these tyres. The front has a limitation, the rear has a limitation, grip wise. Theres saturation, theres thermal deg and theres only a certain amount you can do with the mechanical balance before it affects the other end. Its like a see-saw. Last year our car was definitely very, very strong at the rear, and the car was generally driven by the rear end. The front was a lot more understeery last year. You struggled a lot more when you go over the tyre [grip] and no matter how much we put the mechanical rearwards it wouldnt really fix it. This year we have made some changes. With the aero balance its a much longer process. You cant just change it. Definitely over the winter we fixed it and moved the aero balance more rearwards, so the car was shifting different, and also at different steering angles and different yaw. So it definitely is working a lot better. For a full interview with Hamilton, where he talks about his role in developing the Mercedes car and opens up on his working relationship with Mercedes, click here. Related video
What 2011 comparisons tell us about Turkey's no-grip surface - Motorsport
Formula 1 drivers had been chomping at the bit to experience the high-speed swoops of the Istanbul circuit with the current generation of high-downforce cars.
Talks ahead of the opening day of practice for the Turkish Grand Prix had been of the thrills to be expected, and what a joy it would be to take Istanbul's iconic Turn 8 completely flat out. But all their hopes were wiped away as soon as the cars were unleashed on Friday morning, as the newly resurfaced track surface offered up almost zero grip. Things were also not helped by track officials trying to improve the situation and washing the track early on Friday morning. That only served to make things even more difficult for everyone as the surface had not fully dried by the time FP1 started. As Max Verstappen said: "Yeah, let's not do that again." While drivers steadily got accustomed to the conditions, even if Lewis Hamilton labelled it 'terrifying', it is the laptimes of the day that perhaps tell us the true story of the impact the track surface has made. Read Also: There is not much recent data to go on, but some comparisons with the 2011 season do at least offer us some basis to show how far off the current track is. Back in 2011, Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the Turkish Grand Prix with a laptime of 1m25.049 seconds. During this morning's free practice session, Verstappen's best lap was 1m35.077 seconds so more than 10 seconds adrift of that Vettel lap. Verstappen's time would not have been enough to get within the necessary 107% back in 2011, and in fact the slowest man on the grid that year Narain Karthikeyan would have been nearly four seconds up the road with his 1m31.564s. As the track conditions ramped up today though, and the drivers learned about how best to get their tyres working, Verstappen got down to a 1m28.330s in the afternoon. That was still three seconds adrift of Vettel, but at least pointed to being roughly in the ballpark of what F1 cars should be doing. Read Also: However, what we need to take into account is just how much faster the current cars should be. For the huge downforce that 2020 F1 cars generate mean they should not just be matching what happened in 2011, they should be smashing those times. Looking at some comparisons from race tracks that have featured this year and in 2011, we can see that current machinery should be lapping around five seconds per lap faster than they did back then. Here are the comparisons for the Nurburgring and Barcelona to give us a rough indication. German Grand Prix pole position time (Nurburgring) 2011: 1m30.079s2020: 1m25.269s Spanish Grand Prix pole position time (Barcelona) 2011: 1m20.9812020: 1m15.584s If we estimate that the cars should be five seconds per lap faster than 2011, then, with a decent track surface, the pole position time for Turkey this year should have been around 1m20s. Getting down to that level seems very unlikely right now. But, according to some team insiders tonight who are furiously trying to recalculate their expectations for the weekend, F1 teams may even struggle to get near that 2011 pole time. Verstappen spoke for many drivers about the disappointment of not being able to push as they would have liked. "Yes, it's a bit of a shame," he said. Perhaps the only saving grace for drivers right now is that the original plans to wash the track again overnight are understood to have been abandoned so at least the rubber laid down today may still be there tomorrow so they aren't starting from scratch again. Related video