Toto Wolff on Red Bull’s Dominance: “We Were Held Back Then”
Red Bull Racing have won 15 consecutive races and 24 of the last 25 World Championship runs. This has led some fans to question if such dominance is detrimental to the sport. Mercedes’ Team Principal, Toto Wolff, emphasizes that when a team dominates as Max Verstappen has with Red Bull, it’s only fair. “This is a performance society. As long as you adhere to the technical, sporting, and financial rules, you just have to say: Well done,” states Wolff. He recalls people complaining when Mercedes dominated. Between 2014 and 2020, Mercedes won both the driver and constructor championships seven times in a row. It was only in 2021 that Max Verstappen broke this streak. Wolff believes that the 2021 regulations, which involved cutting a piece from the floor, were introduced to reduce Mercedes’ advantage. Despite this, he hopes there won’t be such interventions in the future.
F1 Owners Admit Verstappen’s Current Domination a Challenge
Last weekend in Monza, Max Verstappen achieved a new milestone with his 10th consecutive grand prix win. Together with his Red Bull teammate, Sergio Perez, they have claimed victory in every race of 2023. Greg Maffei, whose company owns F1, mentioned that CEO Stefano Domenicali is emphasizing Verstappen’s historic run, suggesting it’s a must-watch event. Maffei highlighted the increased overtaking in the midfield and the overall competitiveness of the sport. However, he humorously referenced the 1994 ice skating incident involving Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan, implying that barring an unforeseen event, Verstappen’s dominance is hard to counter. Maffei praised Verstappen’s driving skills, noting his aggressive yet precise racing lines. While acknowledging that TV viewership isn’t the sole metric for F1’s popularity, Maffei pointed out the sport’s growth across various platforms, including social media, indicating a high demand and interest in F1. Source
Albon: Monza Points Vital as Williams Faces Challenges in Upcoming Races
Williams’ performance at the Italian Grand Prix was commendable, with Alex Albon successfully holding off McLaren’s Lando Norris to secure seventh place, largely due to the superior top speed of his car. This achievement is part of a series of impressive results for Williams, which has seen the team pull away from Haas and now sits 10 points clear in seventh place. Despite the recent successes, Albon has expressed concerns about the upcoming races. He pointed out that the Williams FW45’s lack of downforce could be a significant disadvantage in some of the forthcoming circuits.
“I worry about tracks like Brazil, this kind of races. But I hope we’re in a better place now,” Albon shared. He further added, “We needed that, because I don’t think the next few races, we’re not really going to stand a chance until Vegas.”
However, there’s a silver lining. The advancements Williams has made, especially with the significant aerodynamic upgrade introduced at the Canadian Grand Prix, might make the upcoming races less challenging than initially anticipated. Albon’s eighth-place finish at the Dutch Grand Prix on the Zandvoort circuit is evidence of this progress. Still, Albon acknowledges the team’s weaknesses, especially in high degradation and hot track conditions. He believes that cooler track temperatures would have further boosted their performance at Monza. As the F1 calendar moves to Asia and America, where hot conditions are expected, Albon anticipates challenges ahead for Williams. Source
Horner Dismisses Claims of Favoring Verstappen with RB19 Design
Christian Horner, the Team Principal of Red Bull Racing, has refuted claims suggesting that the RB19 car was specifically designed around Max Verstappen’s driving style, thereby favoring him over teammate Sergio Perez. These speculations arose after the Dutch Grand Prix qualifying session where Verstappen, who secured pole position, outpaced Perez by 1.313 seconds. Toto Wolff, Mercedes Team Principal, found the gap between the two drivers “odd” and “bizarre,” even suggesting that Verstappen has a knack for molding cars around his driving style, which might be challenging for other drivers. Responding to these comments, Horner stated ahead of the Italian GP that such assumptions show a “total lack of understanding” of car and team development. He emphasized that the goal is to build the fastest car possible, and sometimes, faster cars can be more challenging to handle. Horner believes it’s up to the drivers to adapt. Source
Massa’s 2008 Controversy Continues: Reportedly Banned from Italian GP
The ongoing drama involving former Formula One driver Felipe Massa persists. According to Fox Sports’ Mexican branch, Formula 1 allegedly advised Massa not to attend the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, even though the 42-year-old Brazilian racer had plans to be present.
In 2008, Lewis Hamilton was crowned the Formula One world champion. However, Massa contends that there was a significant oversight by the management during that period. He is now claiming substantial monetary compensation and has threatened legal action against the British High Court.
During the Italian Grand Prix weekend, a banner was displayed, proclaiming “Felipe Massa – 2008 world champion.” Formula 1 reportedly sought to remove this banner promptly, citing it as a ‘sight obstruction’. Source
Massa Seeks Ferrari’s Support in ‘Crashgate’ Case
Felipe Massa is looking to gain Ferrari’s backing in his effort to challenge the outcome of the 2008 world championship. Massa’s legal team has given Formula 1 and the FIA a limited timeframe to address their legal threats related to the notorious ‘crashgate’ scandal. At the time of the incident, Massa was racing for Ferrari. However, Ferrari’s current chief, Frederic Vasseur, expressed reluctance to comment on the matter, indicating his disapproval of altering race results post-race. Notably, if Massa proceeds with legal action against F1, the sport’s CEO, Stefano Domenicali, who was Massa’s team principal at Ferrari in 2008, would represent F1. Massa, speaking to the TV program TG1, mentioned that he hasn’t received any support from Ferrari yet but remains hopeful. He emphasized his commitment to seeking justice. Source
McLaren’s Andrea Stella Defends Lando Norris’ Radio Communication Style
McLaren’s team principal, Andrea Stella, has come to the defense of Lando Norris regarding his radio communication style, emphasizing that holding people accountable is “what champions do.” Norris had expressed frustration over the team’s strategy during the Dutch Grand Prix, stating he felt he made himself “look like an idiot” with a series of expletive-laden messages to his race engineer. Stella acknowledged that while Norris was visibly frustrated due to a missed opportunity caused by the team’s decision to stay out an extra lap, such reactions are expected from champions. Stella appreciates Norris’ challenging nature, emphasizing that it’s preferable to a passive driver. He also mentioned that while Norris might adjust his tone in the future, the team is content with his current approach and is focused on supporting him. Source
Jacques Villeneuve: Leclerc’s Frustration Evident Amid Ferrari Chaos
Jacques Villeneuve, the 1997 F1 World Champion, believes that Carlos Sainz is currently outperforming Charles Leclerc at Ferrari. Leclerc, who is sixth in the Drivers’ Championship, six points behind Sainz, has had a series of mishaps, including an error-ridden Dutch Grand Prix from which he had to retire. Villeneuve feels that consistency is crucial for success at Ferrari. In an exclusive interview with PlanetF1.com, Villeneuve expressed doubts about Ferrari’s ability to challenge Red Bull’s dominance in F1, citing a clear lack of direction and chaos within the Italian team. He pointed out that Leclerc seems to lack confidence, leading to numerous mistakes. Villeneuve emphasized the importance of drivers pushing their teams forward, suggesting that Ferrari’s drivers aren’t currently doing so. With Ferrari undergoing changes, including Fred Vasseur taking over as team boss in 2023, Villeneuve believes drivers need to remain calm and consistent. He speculates that Leclerc’s frustration stems from seeing contemporaries like Verstappen achieve success while his own aspirations at Ferrari seem distant. Source
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