Friday, September 22, 2017
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Mercedes not ready to make Bottas ‘number 2’ driver

Toto Wolff says he still will not designate Valtteri Bottas the 'number 2' driver behind Lewis Hamilton. While Hamilton completed a victory hat-trick and pulled out a 28 point advantage over Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel in Singapore, Mercedes teammate Bottas has struggled recently.

"Yeah, Valtteri has been a bit lost," agreed former F1 driver Mika Salo, speaking to the Finnish broadcaster MTV. "It's difficult to know the reasons -- maybe it's just been hard for him to set up the car. Or maybe it's starting to show that Hamilton is more familiar with the car concept," he added.

So with Bottas now lagging in the championship and off the pace, Salo said team orders is not an issue "because Lewis is simply faster". When asked if Mercedes will put its full weight behind Hamilton for the rest of the championship, team boss Wolff answered: "I think it's clear that Lewis' chances of winning the championship are higher than Valtteri's. As before, we will assess the situation, but the situation becomes clearer after every race."

But Wolff added: "I don't want to say that one driver is the number 1, because it could affect the motivation of the second ... I mean the other, driver." (GMM)

Magnussen praises F1 for racing in wet Singapore

Kevin Magnussen has praised the F1 race stewards for allowing the drivers to race in the wet at the Singapore Grand Prix. Many had feared there would be a safety car start or a delay to the action because of the rain making conditions extremely tricky on the demanding Marina Bay street circuit, but racing went ahead as normal.

McLaren two weeks behind schedule after late engine deal switch

McLaren's plans for 2018 have not been compromised after only recently announcing its new engine partner. However, racing director Eric Boullier admits that it is two weeks behind schedule. Last Friday, the Woking team confirmed that it would be ditching Honda at the end of the season.

Niki Lauda blames Vettel for Singapore crash

Niki Lauda has joined scores of fans and insiders who blame Sebastian Vettel for putting his championship hopes in tatters in Singapore. On Twitter, the Maranello team lashed out at Max Verstappen for Sunday's first corner crash, while boss Maurizio Arrivabene said it was "clearly" the Red Bull driver's fault.

But Lauda, the F1 legend and Mercedes team chairman, told Osterreich newspaper: "It was clearly Sebastian's fault. I don't know why he would risk so much at this important stage of the world championship." He also told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "If that had happened in my time, we would have walked back to Maranello."

Why German Vettel was not punished by the stewards for causing the crash, meanwhile, is another matter. Jos Verstappen, Max's father, told he sensed a "political" reason. "If they (the FIA) gave him a real punishment, the championship would be over," he said.

And the Spanish newspaper Marca quoted Mark Webber as saying the stewards not punishing Vettel was "a joke". "I think sometimes Seb forgets where the back of his car is," said Vettel's former Red Bull teammate.

But it could get worse for Vettel anyway. La Repubblica newspaper reports that the German's engine may have been damaged in the crash. "The one used in Singapore was number 3 for the season. If it cannot be recovered, Vettel may take penalties later in the season," the reporter noted. (GMM)

Italian press slams Ferrari after Singapore ‘disaster’

The Italian press has lashed out at Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel after a disastrous Singapore grand prix. The Italian team and boss Maurizio Arrivabene blamed Max Verstappen for the first corner crash that wiped out both Ferraris on Sunday.

As a result, Vettel's points deficit to Lewis Hamilton blew out to 28 points. The partisan Italian press knows where to look for blame. "Ferrari did everything wrong," declared La Gazzetta dello Sport. "The red cars destroyed themselves in a way that even the best horror movie director could not imagine."

The front page of Corriere dello Sport declared: "No, Vettel! Not like that! The first 300 metres in Singapore was one of the most catastrophic events for Ferrari in the last decade." Tuttosport added: "A catastrophic accident drowns Maranello's world title hopes. In a few seconds an entire season is destroyed." And La Stampa said: "Hamilton can now walk to the world title." (GMM)

Arrivabene still holding on to title hopes

Ferrari team principal, Mauricio Arrivabene is still holding on to a slim title hope he says after a disastrous Singapore Grand Prix Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel. After taking pole position on a track that the team were always targetting as a place to gain points on their title rivals, both Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel retired after a first lap incident whilst Lewis Hamilton went on to win the race.

Wolff feeling sorry for Ferrari after Singapore disaster

Toto Wolff says that he can't help but feel a bit sorry for Ferrari after the Singapore Grand Prix. After starting from first and fourth, both of the Prancing Horses were out of the race after the first lap after being involved in an incident with Max Verstappen.

Hamilton won’t change approach to races

After extending his lead in the driver's championship on Sunday, Lewis Hamilton says that he will not change his approach to race weekends. The Brit was looking to limit the damage after a poor qualifying in Singapore, while title rival Sebastian Vettel was set to retake the lead in the standings.

Honda: “McLaren finds it hard to adapt to change”

Honda thinks Toro Rosso could be a better fit for the Japanese marque than McLaren. After the split was announced in Singapore, Honda's senior F1 chief Masashi Yamamoto said he would have preferred to keep racing with McLaren next year. He said a lack of performance and reliability "created tension between us" and led to the split.

However, Honda will race on next year with Toro Rosso, Red Bull's junior team. "The regulations go on until 2020 so we still have three years and we want to show our improvements in the technology," said Yamamoto.

So rather than see it as a step down in the paddock, Yamamoto thinks Toro Rosso could even be better for Honda than McLaren was. "First Mr (Franz) Tost knows a lot about Japan. He understands the culture and it's a good communication that we have," said the Japanese.

"Working with McLaren, I've realised that they are a very big company which is very systematic," Yamamoto explained. "It's obviously very strong because of that but at the same time they can find it hard to adapt to change. Compare that to Toro Rosso, it is a company that is growing."

"Take this for an example: if we compare both teams with different cuisines, let's say McLaren is a very sophisticated French cuisine -- that's the way it is. Toro Rosso is more like a countryside, homemade delicious stew where you can add new ingredients. We're excited to do that," he added. (GMM)

Carlos Sainz unsure if Singapore was last Toro Rosso race

Carlos Sainz left Singapore on Monday wondering if it had been his last race for Toro Rosso. The Spaniard made his F1 debut for the junior Red Bull team in 2015, but will be loaned to the works Renault team next year.

So when Sainz crossed the line in a career-best fourth place on Sunday, Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost told him on the radio: "Stay with us. We don't (want to) let you go." Tost may also have been alluding to persistent speculation that Sainz, 23, could replace Renault's Jolyon Palmer as soon as the next race in Malaysia. Reports indicate Palmer is weighing up a contract buy-out offer of between $3 and $7 million.

So when asked if Singapore was a fitting way to farewell Toro Rosso, Sainz answered: "Yes, but I'm still not thinking this was my last race. I told my team and my mechanics beforehand to not worry about what happens next. Let's just do a perfect weekend."