Vandoorne ‘pretty sure’ of McLaren future

Despite lagging behind Fernando Alonso in the standings, Stoffel Vandoorne believes he has shown McLaren why he deserves a third season in 2019.

While Alonso has bagged 40 points in this year’s championship, Vandoorne has managed just eight.

The Belgian is also losing out to the Spaniard on Saturdays where he has yet to outqualify Alonso.

His form has led to speculation that Vandoorne could be out of McLaren come the end of the season, replaced by reserve driver and F2 championship contender Lando Norris.

“I think it’s the time of the year where everyone talks to everyone,” Vandoorne told Motorsport Week of the rumours.

“Before the summer break is usually a moment everyone speaks about the driver market and yeah, that’s kind of normal.

“We’ve never really discussed that with the media so I’m not really going to go into that.”

Pressed on whether he believes he’s done enough to stay at McLaren, he replied: “I think so yeah, I’m pretty sure.”

The 26-year-old Belgian racer does acknowledge that he hasn’t had the best time in Formula 1 since entering the sport last season when McLaren were still powered by Honda.

He is, however, adamant that he has built on that difficult first season this year.

“For sure it’s not been a year and a half I was hoping to have in Formula 1,” he said.

“Ultimately we’ve been struggling a lot in terms of the results, we’ve had both years a car that struggled to fight for points let’s say.

“It’s not always easy to show the right things in those circumstances. But that’s the situation we’re in.

“I feel I’ve taken a lot of positive out of this as well, in going through difficult times, how to deal with certain issues, is something I didn’t really have when I was in junior series.

“So the approach has been quite different and it made me definitely a stronger driver.

“Just being in your second season is very different to your first season.

“You feel much more comfortable in the way you prepare your weekends, the way you build up in the practice sessions to the race, you feel that a year of experience helps a lot.”

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Hulkenberg: Haas, not McLaren, are main threat

Haas may only be three points ahead of McLaren, but Nico Hulkenberg reckons they are potentially the biggest threat to Renault’s best of the rest placing in the standings.

Renault have bagged 70 points in the opening 10 races of this year’s championship, putting them a relatively comfortable 19 points ahead of Haas.

Force India are sixth on 49 points with McLaren one behind.

It could, however, have been a different picture had Haas not squandered points-scoring opportunities – and more than once.

As such Hulkenberg acknowledges that if Haas fulfill their potential, they could challenge Renault.

Asked if he felt Haas pose the biggest threat to Renault, Hulkenberg told Crash.net: “It looks like it now, since the last couple of weekends.

“I think its shifted around with Haas coming through more and McLaren seem to have lost out a little bit.

“We take them seriously because they are fast.

“How they got there doesn’t really play a role for me, they are strong at the moment and we just have to deal with it.

“They fulfilled their potential [in Austria], whereas before they’ve really missed out.

“The momentum sometimes swings around, but at the end of the day they have a strong car and a good package.”

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Whiting: Driver’s choice to use DRS

Charlie Whiting believes drivers who had incidents through Silverstone’s new DRS zone have only themselves to blame as it is a “driver choice” to open the flap.

Romain Grosjean was the first big casualty as the Frenchman crashed in Friday’s practice after failing to close his DRS.

Two days later it was Marcus Ericsson who was buried in the barriers, the Swede revealing he failed to hit the button resulting in his crash.

As such F1 race director Whiting reckons the new zone, which led onto the already flat-out Turns 1 and 2, was very much in the hands of the drivers and it was their “choice” whether to take the chance.

He said: “I think the incidents where drivers lost control through Turn 1 because they had their DRS open through Turn 1 is a driver choice, just like any other choice you make on a car.

“It’s like any car that is challenging to drivers, and sometimes they try to do it flat when it’s not really flat, and they spin.

“It’s the same thing, it’s their choice. If they thought they could do it, they can try it. It’s not a requirement to do it.

“It’s like any other choice that teams and drivers make.”

However, whether it is there next year remains to be seen as Whiting concedes it didn’t help with overtaking.

“I don’t think it actually helped,” he said.

“The idea was that drivers might get a little bit closer than they would have done otherwise and therefore be in a better position to attack on the straights between Turns 5 and 6.”

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Mercedes ‘doing a lot of work’ on starts

Mercedes will be spending this week “doing a lot of work” on race starts after wheelspin dropped Lewis Hamilton into Kimi Raikkonen’s clutches at Silverstone.

Hamilton started Sunday’s grand prix from pole position but lost out at the start, challenged by Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas.

As a result he found himself third, one place ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. Next thing he was tagged by the Finn and dropped to P18.

Although Hamilton recovered to finish second, Mercedes concede they need to work on their race starts to prevent similar incidents in the future.

“I think the first thing we need to understand is where can we improve and where can we engineer,” said motorsport boss Toto Wolff.

“We need to find some performance in the race starts to avoid incidents like we saw [at Silverstone].

“This is something we can change.”

Mercedes engineer Andrew Shovlin revealed the Brackley squad will be doing a lot of work on their race starts before heading to Germany for round 11 of the championship.

“The simple answer is we got some wheelspin,” he said when asked what went wrong with Hamilton’s start. There was a bit less grip on the grid than we were expecting.

“We had done practice starts there, Silverstone they do actually let you do a start from the grid, but for some reason on Sunday we didn’t quite have what we expected and as soon as you get the wheelspin you lose traction.

“That then lost him places pretty quickly.

“So, we are doing a lot of work here this week trying to understand that because we know fine well that if we qualify on pole, we have got to get off the line as well as the Ferraris and that’s what we will be trying to do in Hockenheim.”

Read More: How to watch the German GP free online

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Horner: Ferrari engine is the new benchmark

Ferrari have overhauled Mercedes as Formula 1’s benchmark when it comes to engines; that’s according to Red Bull’s Christian Horner.

10 races into this year’s championship and Ferrari are leading both standings with Sebastian Vettel eight points ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the race for the World title and Ferrari ahead of Mercedes in the Constructors’.

The Scuderia’s form has seen them winning at race tracks where previously they struggled in the V6 era, most recently at the British Grand Prix.

Although Vettel did not bag pole, he was a mere 0.044s behind Lewis Hamilton in qualifying before going on to win the race.

“I think it’s setting the benchmark now,” Horner said of Ferrari’s engine.

“You can see with Haas and Sauber as well having made good gains.”

Red Bull was not happy with Renault’s power deficit at Silverstone with Max Verstappen comparing it to F1 versus F2.

Next year, though, Red Bull will be running Honda engines having agreed on a two-year deal with the Japanese manufacturer.

Horner insists it is the right call.

He told Autosport: “You can see the situation between the engines is very similar at the moment, and it’s all about the potential development.

“This weekend has been a very tough weekend for Renault, and it just very clearly defines where the level is at – you can’t hide behind the statistics of what we’ve seen.

“There is a gap to fill. In Honda, we have a lot of belief in what they have coming in the pipeline.”

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Kubica paid ‘too high a price’, lost Ferrari chance

Robert Kubica has confirmed he agreed a deal to race alongside Fernando Alonso at Ferrari for the 2012 F1 season but was robbed of the opportunity when he crashed during a rally.

A star of the future and, touted as a possible World Champion, Kubica took a moment away from Formula 1 back in 2011 to contest the Andorra rally.

It almost cost him his life. It did cost him his Formula 1 career.

He crashed heavily and suffered life-threatening injuries, most notably to his arm.

And while Kubica has returned to the test arena with Williams this season, he is left to ponder what could have been.

Speaking on F1’s official podcast hosted by Tom Clarkson, he admitted he considered withdrawing from the rally event but decided to press on.

He was, however, aware that “the team I was going to drive for next year, I was not allowed to rally.”

Asked by Clarkson whether that team was Ferrari, he replied: “Yes.

“[The] First [goal] is to enter F1. Second is to become an established driver in F1, so you have good value, a good reputation, which is more difficult than to enter.

“Third, you win a World Championship or become a Ferrari driver. I haven’t won a World Championship, in the end I haven’t become a Ferrari driver but I was very close.”

And knowing how close he was to that dream only adds “additional pain” down the line.

He explained: “My recovery was so hard that for the first 16-18 months it did not hurt.

“I was fighting, I was concentrating on recovery, I was going through a difficult period.

“The more time was going the more difficult it was becoming, because the hope that things can get sorted are disappearing.

“There were moments I was recovering extraordinarily good and there were then months when surgeries went wrong and I went back six months instead of improving.

“It was painful [not racing in F1] but it was not more painful because I knew I was going to race for Ferrari.”

As for his decision to even take part in rallies, Kubica says he wanted to be a better driver.

He added: “I thought rallying would give me this. And it really gave me [that]. The problem is I paid too high a price.”

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Hamilton: ‘Sometimes we say dumb sh*t’

Lewis Hamilton has posted on his Instagram page saying that Kimi Raikkonen has apologised to him after the Lap 1 incident at Silverstone on Sunday.

Hamilton was tapped by the Finn, and spun round.

The four-time World Champion was P18 at the end of the first lap, but came through the field to finish on the podium at the British Grand Prix in P2.

However, he stormed off after the race, and was not interviewed in parc ferme. Instead, Martin Brundle caught up with him on the podium where he suggested that Ferrari were using ‘interesting tactics’ to get the victory.

After reflecting on it overnight, the Brit seems to have calmed down, and understood the situation of the high-pressure scenario.

He said on his Instagram post:

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Brundle explains Hamilton’s hasty exit

Such was Lewis Hamilton’s anger in the immediate aftermath of the British GP that he walked off before giving a post-race interview done in anger.
Hamilton, second in Sunday’s British Grand Prix, stormed off instead of speaking to interviewer Martin Brundle in the wake of the race.
The Brit was furious with Ferrari’s “interesting tactics” which saw Kimi Raikkonen tag him on the opening lap, spinning Hamilton down into 18th place.

WATCH: Hamilton refuses post-race interview

Raikkonen’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel won the race while Hamilton put in an incredible drive to recover to second.
He was nonetheless still furious.
“The reason Lewis didn’t talk to me in the Parc Ferme is because he wanted time to go and calm down,” Brundle explained to Sky Sports.
“He was so angry about that. He didn’t see it as a last-to-second comeback drive.
“He saw it as somebody torpedoed me off the race track.”
He added: “He scampered out of Parc Ferme, up the stairs.
“Matteo Bonciani of the FIA said ‘be careful with him, he’s really not happy at all at the moment’.
“So by the time I came out on the podium, I think he composed himself.
“I don’t think he wanted to say any words that he’d regret down there.”
Lewis Hamilton has since posted on social media that he has accepted Kimi Raikkonen’s apology and is ready to move on.

https://twitter.com/wtf1official/status/1016274078288760832

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