Abiteboul: Renault owes 2020 progress to Ricciardo

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Daniel Ricciardo The Renault F1 Team “wouldn’t be what it is today without Daniel” Ricciardo, according to Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul. Ricciardo’s podium last time out in the Eifel Grand Prix was not only his first since winning in… More »

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Marko has no guarantees for Gasly

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More and more teams are finalising their lineups for 2021. Red Bull Racing is the only one of the top teams where this is not yet fully known. Everything will depend on how Helmut Marko in particular judges Alexander Albon’s performance. “If… More »

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Marko hints at Kvyat exit

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The end of Daniil Kvyat’s Formula 1 career now seems imminent. Yuki Tsunoda has been tipped to replace the Russian and Helmut Marko has dropped the latest hint regarding the Alpha Tauri driver. Tsunoda the only one with a shot Helmut Marko didn’t… More »

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Kvyat: Luck has not been on my side this year

Daniil Kvyat was taken out in Germany through no fault of his own and feels that luck has rarely been on his side in 2020.

At the Nurburgring, Kvyat was in with a shot of finishing in the points before Alex Albon hit him, taking off his front-wing and ruining his race.

The AlphaTauri driver ended up crossing the line last of those who finished the race, while team-mate Pierre Gasly took P6.

The margin between the two is now 39 points, and Kvyat feels that this has largely been down to bad luck on his side.

“Unfortunately, the Nürburgring race did not go well for me from lap 12 onward when I got hit by Albon, but these things happen in racing. He got penalised, but my race was damaged from then on and so was my car,” he said.

“Up until then, I was definitely racing for solid points and I had been happy with my lap in Quali. However, the events were out of my control and luck has not been my strongest point this year, to be honest. Nothing seems to have landed in my basket for free. I have had to work hard for everything

“But we will turn the page and move on. We keep working, we keep digging with my engineers and I am still happy with the way we approach each race weekend.

“Our understanding of the car is much better, and it will come right soon. It’s been good for the last few races and it was just this last weekend where we were unable to score points.”

Portimao Circuit

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The Portuguese Grand Prix is next up on the calendar and will see the sport go to Portimao for the first time ever.

Like the majority of the grid, Kvyat has never driven there before, with his only experience of it coming on a simulator.

“I’ve never been to Portimao, so it will be a completely new experience for me and I guess for most of the other drivers. It will be an interesting challenge,” he added.

“A while ago, I did a few laps of the Algarve circuit on the simulator, but it’s not so fresh in my mind. I think we will have to work hard and learn everything we can on Friday and Saturday morning.

“It is quite an unusual layout, with drops and climbs, so something different to work on. We should get ideal weather there at this time of year, in the low 20s maybe, certainly better than the unusual conditions we had at the Nürburgring.”

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‘With Ricciardo, Renault has a trump card’

Racing Point’s Andrew Green says that, in the fight for P3 in the Constructors Championship, Renault has a trump card in Daniel Ricciardo.

Racing Point is currently leading said fight, but Renault is just six points behind and is the in-form team after finishing on the podium in Germany courtesy of Ricciardo.

At the same race, Nico Hulkenberg stood in for Lance Stroll and finished in P8. While technical director Green feels the German was excellent, he says that losing a regular driver hurts the team, especially when rivals have such a strong one.

“We haven’t done ourselves a favour by changing drivers. At the Nürburgring, for example, we actually only had one car and therefore only 50 percent of the data,” he told Auto Motor und Sport.

“It was an incredibly difficult task for Nico to jump into the car coldly and drive straight away. The goal was simply to qualify for the race. He did that with ease. The improvement was incredible. One more try and he would even have made it into Q2.

“The fact that he still finished eighth from the very back was a great performance on the one hand, but it also shows that our car can’t be that bad.

“With Ricciardo, Renault naturally has a trump card in hand. He always really gets everything out of this car.”

Sebastian Vettel

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Everyone at Racing Point will be hoping that they can have a trump card of their own next season in Sebastian Vettel, who is replacing Sergio Perez.

Green is confident that this will be the case, feeling that he will have a positive impact on the team, and they will help him re-find his form.

“Nobody forgets how to drive a car fast. You just have to have the right car and the right people around you to do your job. Obviously, he’s having problems right now. We can offer him what he needs to return to his old form,” he added.

“The whole team wants him. He will feel that. We know that he can bring us as much as we can for him. Everyone in the team is looking forward to January when we can finally work with him.

“If he just opens the door to the factory, it will increase the motivation of every single employee. When a multiple world champion gets into one of our cars, it is also an appreciation of the people who work here.

“We deserve it. We were facing bankruptcy 18 months ago. This team almost didn’t exist anymore, and now a World Champion wants to drive for us. With us, he can experience his second wind.”

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Norris extra motivated in fight for P4

Lando Norris says the battle for P4 in the Drivers’ Championship is giving him that extra push at race weekends.

The Briton started the season in style at the Austrian Grand Prix, scoring his first ever podium finish with P3, and since then he has kept his name in a large bunch of drivers battling it out for P4 in the Drivers’ Championship.

Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen will lock out the top three positions, and although Daniel Ricciardo is the current ‘best of the rest’ in P4 with 78 points, Charles Leclerc is only 15 points adrift of the Renault driver in P8.

Norris finds himself nestled in P5 on 65 points after losing that P4 spot following back-to-back races without points.

But that extremely close scrap for P4 is giving him an extra motivation to go racing with 6 rounds of the 2020 season to go.

“It’s nice to go into every weekend like this because you can find extra motivation thinking about it,” he told Motorsport.com.

“Of course, I don’t go into every weekend thinking about the Championship or trying to hold that position in the Championship, but it still motivates me and makes me push a little bit more.

“Obviously, there have been ups and downs. We started the year very well and managed to get the maximum from the first few races.

“As a team, we started very strongly, especially on my side. In this way, we had the advantage at first.”

Norris is wary though of Renault and Ricciardo after losing ground to the Aussie in recent weeks.

“Renault had a very strong rise in the middle of the season. I’ve made mistakes in a few places. Some tracks didn’t suit us as well as Renault,”he explained.

“We’re pushing too hard and trying to keep our position. But at the same time, it’s not that easy to achieve.

“One weekend we’re slightly ahead, while another weekend we may be slightly behind. So when we’re behind or we have the faster car, we try to get the maximum and earn more points.”

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McLaren are yet to fully understand the benefits of updates like their new Mercedes-style nose cone which they have introduced, but Norris believes McLaren’s overall upgrades are giving them some momentum for the remainder of the season.

He also teased further upgrades to come for the Portuguese Grand Prix.

“We haven’t had many updates during the year. We started the season with a very good package and it took him a while to understand it,” the Briton explained.

“The updates we’re bringing in now, the updates we brought in at the beginning of the season, and the fact that we understand the car better every weekend.

“Understanding, working on and developing today’s cars is very challenging. We have a plan for that.

“We’ve had a few updates in Russia, and there’s still going to be some minor updates this weekend, but they’re still not updates that will allow us to get second place in the Championship or do special things.

“We’re trying to put it all together and we want to make sure the car is working properly. We are trying to get the maximum from the package.”

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‘There’d only be a few thousandths between them’

Former Mercedes vice-president Norbert Haug thinks there’d be nothing to choose between Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton at their peaks.

With Hamilton joining Schumacher on 91 wins at the Eifel Grand Prix and all but set to match the German haul of seven World Championships, the debate over which, if either, is the best Formula driver of all time has grown and grown.

Haug, who was vice-president of Mercedes’s motorsport branch until 2012, has now weighed in, refusing to pick a side by stating that there’d be little to choose either way.

“If they had both raced each other in their prime, there would probably only have been a few thousandths of a second between them,” he told Motorsport.com.

“Both drivers also have the utmost respect for each other, which is nice to see. I have never heard one of them speak a bad word about the other.”

Schumacher was renowned for his work-rate and dedication, fundamentally changing the sport in terms of fitness levels and regimes.

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Hamilton does not have the same reputation, with the Brit enjoying an often glamorous lifestyle outside of F1. Some criticise him for this, but Haug thinks that he’s every bit as hard-working.

“All kinds of pictures on Instagram really do not deliver fast lap times,” he added.

“All extremely good drivers are willing to make those extra meters [in terms of training work]. They are both perfectionists, always ask questions and even after a one-two punch they want a very long debrief.

“That’s why they can get on people’s nerves.”

Like Haug, Schumacher too left Mercedes in 2012, with Lewis Hamilton replacing him. There has been talk that the team forced the former out to ensure the latter would join, but that apparently isn’t true.

“But I know only a few rumours from the F1 world that actually turn out to be correct. That also applies in this case,” Haug said.

“No one retired him early. In reality, it was a very clear and structured process, with Michael always in charge.

“He laid the foundation for Lewis’s records in a way.”

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