Marko’s Apology to Perez and more – F1 Recap 11.09.2023

Russell on Verstappen’s Dominance: “It’s a Shame”

George Russell, the Mercedes driver, has candidly expressed his views on Max Verstappen’s unparalleled dominance in the current Formula 1 season. He described it as a “shame” but also acknowledged that Red Bull is deserving of their success. Verstappen recently set a new F1 record by securing his 10th consecutive win at the Italian Grand Prix. This season, Red Bull has been victorious at every race, with Sergio Perez also clinching two wins.

While Verstappen and Red Bull have been the talk of the town, other championship contenders, including Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, have been relegated to fighting for the “best of the rest” title. Russell, who transitioned to Mercedes in 2022, currently holds the seventh position in the championship standings. His season has been a blend of highs and lows, and he has been consistently trailing the dominant Verstappen.

However, Russell pointed out that such dominance is not uncommon in F1. Speaking to PlanetF1, he said, “There’s always been dominance and probably a factor of their huge success has been reliability.” He reflected on the past, noting that in the 80s and 90s, car breakdowns were more frequent. “For probably 25 years now, there’s always been a team that has dominated during a certain period,” Russell added.

While he feels that the dominance is a bit disheartening, Russell emphasized that one cannot undermine Red Bull’s achievements. “You can’t take it away from Red Bull, they’re obviously doing an amazing job and you need to give them credit for that,” he stated. Despite the clear lead by Verstappen and Red Bull, Russell finds the competition for the second spot between teams like Mercedes, McLaren, Aston Martin, and Ferrari to be genuinely thrilling. He expressed his desire to see such intense competition at the forefront of the grid in the future. Source

Vasseur Lauds Verstappen’s Flawless Performance Over Two Seasons

Ferrari team principal, Frederic Vasseur, has commended Max Verstappen following his record-setting 10th consecutive grand prix win. Vasseur highlighted Verstappen’s remarkable ability to avoid mistakes as a significant factor in his success over the past two seasons. During the recent Italian Grand Prix, Ferrari aimed to pressure Verstappen into making an error, but their efforts were in vain. Carlos Sainz Jnr led the race’s initial 14 laps before Verstappen overtook him. Vasseur expressed his admiration for Verstappen’s consistency, noting that the Red Bull driver hasn’t made a single error in races over the last two years.

Vasseur acknowledged that leading races might make it easier to avoid mistakes, but he was particularly impressed by Verstappen’s strategic approach, especially during challenging races like the one at Monza. Verstappen’s ability to manage situations, apply pressure without taking unnecessary risks, and strategize around pit stops was evident. Vasseur admitted that after observing Verstappen’s pace and lack of tire degradation during the race, he wasn’t very optimistic about Ferrari’s chances.

Red Bull’s team principal, Christian Horner, also emphasized the importance of avoiding mistakes, praising the team’s consistent high-level performance, which he described as unprecedented. Source

Felipe Massa Suggests Alonso Knew About ‘Crashgate’

Felipe Massa has insinuated that his former Ferrari teammate, Fernando Alonso, was aware of Renault’s controversial strategy during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, an incident now infamously known as ‘Crashgate’. The 2008 Singapore GP has recently returned to the spotlight due to Massa’s legal action challenging the 2008 F1 title’s outcome. The Brazilian driver lost the championship partly because of a problematic pitstop during that race. Renault’s Nelson Piquet Jnr. intentionally crashed his car during the race, which led to the Safety Car’s deployment. This sequence of events favored Alonso, who eventually won the race, while Massa faced issues, driving off with his fuel hose still attached.

Former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone’s alleged admission that both FOM and the FIA were aware of Renault’s actions before the season concluded has reignited the controversy. While Alonso was previously believed to be innocent of any knowledge regarding Renault’s plans, Massa now thinks otherwise. Massa shared that he had conversations with Alonso, and based on those interactions, he feels confident that Alonso was aware of the strategy. Massa is currently assembling a significant legal team to challenge the 2008 title’s outcome and aims to reclaim potential lost earnings. He emphasizes that his actions are for the sport’s integrity and not motivated by money. Source

Helmut Marko Apologizes for Comments on Sergio Perez

Red Bull motorsport consultant, Helmut Marko, has issued an apology for his remarks attributing Mexican driver Sergio Perez’s inconsistent form to his ethnicity. Marko, an influential figure in the dominant Formula One team, made the apology via a formal statement on the website.

“I would like to apologise for my offensive remark and want to make it absolutely clear that I do not believe that we can generalise about the people from any country, any race, any ethnicity,” Marko stated. He further clarified, “I was trying to make a point that Checo [Perez] has fluctuated in his performance this year, but it was wrong to attribute this to his cultural heritage.”

Marko’s initial comments were made on the energy drink company’s television station after the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. He had said, “We know that he has problems in qualifying, he has fluctuations in form, he is South American and he is just not as completely focused in his head as Max [Verstappen] is or as Sebastian [Vettel].”

It’s worth noting that Perez is from Guadalajara, which is geographically in North America, not South America. Marko’s attempt to clarify his comments was met with criticism. The comments made headlines in Mexico and globally. The Mexican Grand Prix organizers expressed their support for Perez, emphasizing the importance of respect in the sport.

Perez joined Red Bull in 2021 and has since won six races, two of them this season. He is currently second in the championship, trailing Verstappen. Marko did praise Perez for his second-place finish in Italy, acknowledging his commendable performance. Source

Wolff Hints at Coulthard’s Theory Being Accurate Regarding Hamilton’s Contract Delay

Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton recently confirmed a renewed contract that extends until the end of 2025, announced during the F1 Italian Grand Prix. This announcement concluded a prolonged negotiation phase that both Hamilton and Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, had consistently assured fans would result in a renewed agreement.

Wolff mentioned, “Lewis and I were clear on the major terms in June, July. Things were just dribbling along. Bubbling along slowly. Then it was summer break.” He further clarified that the delay was primarily about marketing aspects rather than significant contractual terms, adding, “That took a bit of time.”

Former F1 driver David Coulthard had previously proposed a theory to the Irish News regarding the delay in finalizing Hamilton’s contract. Coulthard speculated, “Mercedes will want a certain amount of time from Lewis for their partners. Mercedes will have sold sponsorship on obtaining access to their drivers. Some businesses will have signed up with the Silver Arrows because Lewis is there, rather than George Russell. Perhaps Lewis might be wanting to do fewer days or have fewer commitments? What Lewis will be signing up for goes way beyond him driving at a grand prix. It is about what rights he retains in terms of his image, and what rights he sells to the team. Mercedes are buying more than just Lewis’ driving services. They are buying his promotional image and his PR image.”

Wolff’s comments seem to align with Coulthard’s theory, suggesting that the contract negotiations encompassed more than just Hamilton’s racing commitments but also his promotional and PR roles. Source

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