Montoya: Vettel’s problem is not mental it’s technical

Juan Pablo Montoya believes Sebastian Vette’s problems are not head-related and suggests that the error-prone Ferrari driver is struggling to come to terms with the SF90 while his shooting star teammate Charles Leclerc appears to have adapted his style to the potent but finicky package.

Montoya told Motorsport Network, “I think he doesn’t like something in the car or this year’s tyres and Leclerc is able to better adapt. Vettel has to suffer to go as quick as the other guy. Because he has to suffer and he is not comfortable, he makes mistakes. When you’re not happy with the car and you push, mistakes happen.”

At 31 Vettel is a wily campaigner with four F1 world titles under his belt as well as 52 wins in 234 Grand Prix starts but is now on a winless streak lasting over a year.

At Monza last Sunday, he messed up in front of the tifosi with a blatant error while his teammate powered to a famous victory, the 21-year-old’s second in a week in which he comprehensively outshone his illustrious teammate.

Montoya said of Vettel’s freefall, “I don’t think it’s a mental thing. It is more a technical one. It’s about understanding, having someone on your side who’s able to find what’s going on.”

The popular Columbian driver revealed how he had to alter his driving style to suit the McLaren’s of 2005 and 2006,  “I had to change the way I braked the car and it started doing very different things to what I was used to.

“Changing they way you drive is very complicated. If you change the way you drive the car you can still be quick, but probably not as quick as you used to be.”

“He will have to adapt to a certain extent, but learning to be quick in a different way is very difficult. It’s better to adapt the car to your driving than your style to someone else’s.”

Vettel has never been fully comfortable with the hybrid turbo era as he was with the V8s. Daniel Ricciardo outdrove him in 2014, and at Ferrari the German was hardly tested by Kimi Raikkonen in the last stages of his journey in Red.

Young gun Leclerc has by intent or not been extremely smart in how he has slowly shifted the power from the submissive young gun to the team’s top gun by simply delivering a blistering pace, setting the marker in race-mode and almost taunting Vettel with his ‘catch-me-if-you-can’ approach.

As the seven-time Grand Prix winner and Indycar Champion pointed out, this has the #5 car chasing too often, the driver trying too hard and triggering mistakes.

Perhaps it would be wise for him to take a page out of the Prost-Senna battle archives to figure out what The Professor did to contain and beat a teammate who was faster and younger than him. Tortoise and hare spring to mind.

Montoya, who is back in the F1 paddock coaching Lance Stroll, closed with advice for Vettel, “The only way is working harder, doing something different to what he’s doing now. He must be used to working in a certain way, but right now it’s not working out for him.”

Big Question: What’s bugging Seb?


Imola and Mugello 'considering bids' for F1 spot

After the success of the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, two other prestigious circuits in the country are reported to be thinking about making bids to hold future Formula 1 races.

Monza has just secured a five-year extension to its existing contract to hold a race at the Temple of Speed until 2024.

But with F1 bosses interested in expanding the calendar, that doesn’t rule out the possibility of another circuit in Italy holding an additional race – possibly under the historic San Marino or European Grand Prix marques.

Both Imola and Mugello are said to be considering just such a move.

Imola’s Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari has already played a big role in Formula 1 in the past, hosting the San Marino Grand Prix on 26 occasions between 1981 and 2006.

It was also the venue for the 51st Italian Grand Prix in 1980 when Monza was undergoing refurbishment.

Sadly, it was also where Ayrton Senna suffered his fatal crash in 1994, in what is considered to be one the blackest weekends in the recent history of the sport.

Seen by many as Ferrari’s true home circuit, Imola has recently completed a redevelopment program to return it to the FIA Grade 1 required to host a Grand Prix which included removing the final chicane.

Circuit chiefs have now contracted track design company Dromo to revamp Imola’s paddock hospitality facilities. A statement from the Imola management said that they were “ready to accept the challenge” of hosting a Grand Prix again.

Circuit president Uberto Selvatico Estense spoke of “the possibility, even at our historic racetrack, to see the red cars and the whole circus return.

“To achieve such a result it is essential to have the full support of regional and metropolitan institution,” he added.

Paul di Resta (GBR), Sahara Force India Formula One Team 03.05.2012.

In contrast, the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello has never held an official F1 race, although it has hosted test sessions as recently as 2012. It’s best known as the venue for the motorcycling MotoGP event and supporting Moto2 and Moto3 races.

The circuit revealed on Tuesday that the annual activity at the track contributed almost 130 million euros to the local and regional economy across Tuscany in 2017, according to a new economic impact study.

Not surprisingly, Mugello chiefs would love to add to that by bringing F1 to the circuit for the first time, although for the time being their focus remains keeping on the MotoGP calendar.

“The first objective will be to renew the agreement with the MotoGP,” said Mugello circuit director Paolo Poli. “Then in five years we will also think about applying to bring Formula 1 to Tuscany.

“It should be remembered that unlike other Italian circuits, Mugello is not state-run,” Poli told Italian news agency Ansa.

“Partnerships will be necessary at national level, as Monza did by signing the agreement with F1 for the next few years.”

Gallery: The beautiful wives and girlfriends of F1 drivers

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Wet Italian Grand Prix on the cards

Formula 1 could be in for a wet Italian Grand Prix with rain forecast throughout Sunday at the Monza circuit.

F1’s rookie, and even some of the more experienced drivers, could have a battle on their hands this weekend as they take on Formula 1’s fastest circuit in the wet.

Rain is forecast for Friday’s practices where the day’s high will be 22’C.

While it will dry up on Saturday, the temperature up to 25’C for qualifying, the rain will return that evening.

There is a 45% chance of rain at the start of Sunday’s Italian GP and while that lessens as the afternoon progresses, it is expect to continue falling.

The day’s high is 21’C.

Formula 1 last had a wet session at Monza in 2017 when it poured in qualifying.

Lewis Hamilton took pole position ahead of Lance Stroll.

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Italian GP secures new five-year deal with F1

The Italian Grand Prix at Monza will remain on Formula 1’s calendar until at least 2024 confirmed on Wednesday ACI president Angelo Sticchi Damiani.

The event had been listed as “being finalized” on the sport’s 22-race calendar released by Liberty Media last week.

Sticchi Damaiani first shared the good news with the thousands of fans attending this afternoon’s Ferrari event on the Piazza Duoma in Milan dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the legendary manufacturer.

“It is just like winning a Formula 1 Grand Prix, a very hard and important one, fought to the finish line – which counts as not one but five titles,” said the president of the Italian automobile Club.

“It was a challenging journey to get to this outcome and is one of those race victories that makes us forget every risk, every effort, and leaves inside a great joy and an uncontrollable desire to celebrate.”

F1 CEO Chase Carey said: “This is one of four Grands Prix that were part of the 1950 championship and still features in the calendar and along with the British Grand Prix, it is the only one to have been held every year since then.

“History, speed and passion are words that motorsport fans associate with Monza. The feeling one gets at this Grand Prix is truly unique, as is the circuit’s distinctive podium.

“I would like to thank the ACI, especially its President, Angelo Sticchi Damiani for its efforts and this five year deal means that another part of the jigsaw for the Formula 1 of the future, is now in place.

“The championship features many historic venues such as Monza and also new countries in which the already vast fan-base of our sport can grow.”

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Stat Attack: 2019 Italian Grand Prix

Statistics for Sunday’s Italian Formula One Grand Prix at Monza, the 14th race of the 21-round season:

Lap distance: 5.793km. Total distance: 306.720km (53 laps)

2018 pole: Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari, one minute 19.119 seconds.

2018 winner: Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes

Race lap record: Rubens Barrichello (Brazil), Ferrari. One minute 21.046 seconds (2004).

Start time: 1310 GMT (1510 local)

Sunday’s race will be the 90th edition of the Italian Grand Prix, with the first staged at Monza in 1922. Ferrari are also celebrating their 90th anniversary.

Hamilton has won at Monza five times, a record he shares with Michael Schumacher. Mercedes have also won for the past five years.

The Briton has been on pole six times at Monza, including four of the past five.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel can become only the second driver, and first since Britain’s Stirling Moss in the 1950s, to win at Monza with three different teams.

Moss won with Maserati, Vanwall and Cooper. Vettel has done so previously with Toro Rosso (2008) and Red Bull (2011 and 2013).

The Italian and British Grands Prix are the only ones to have been on the calendar in every year since the world championship started in 1950.

The Italian race has been staged at Monza every year except 1980 when it was at Imola.

Raikkonen’s 2018 pole lap was at an average speed of 263.587 kph, the fastest in Formula One history.

The race has been won from pole position 10 times in the last 14 years.

Ferrari have won 18 times at Monza since the championship started, more than anyone else, but their last home success was in 2010.

Hamilton has 81 victories from 242 races and is closing the gap to Schumacher’s record 91. Vettel, third on the all-time list, has 52.

Vettel has not won since his victory at last season’s Belgian Grand Prix, more than a year ago.

Ferrari have won 236 races since 1950, McLaren 182, Williams 114, Mercedes 97 and Red Bull 61. Former champions McLaren and Williams have not won since 2012.

Hamilton has won eight out of 13 races so far this season and has a 65-point lead over team mate Valtteri Bottas, who has won twice. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has also won twice and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc once.

Hamilton has a record 87 career poles, Vettel 56.

Four races so far this season have been won from pole — Bottas in Azerbaijan, Hamilton in Monaco and France and Leclerc in Belgium. Max Verstappen took the first pole of his Formula One career in Hungary on Aug. 3.

Belgium was Ferrari’s 63rd front row lockout, one behind Mercedes in the list of records.

Hamilton has 145 career podiums. Vettel has 117.

Hamilton has now led 141 grands prix, leaving him one off Schumacher’s record.

Hamilton has finished the last 25 races in the points. He holds the record of 33 successive scoring finishes.

Verstappen’s retirement in Spa last Sunday ended a run of 21 successive top five finishes. It was his first blank since Hungary in July 2018.

Leclerc’s first career F1 victory in Belgium made him Ferrari’s youngest winner, at 21 years old, and the sport’s third youngest after Verstappen and Vettel.

The Monegasque is the 39th driver to win for Ferrari, and Formula One’s 108th winner.