D Thursday is the PR day before a grand Prix. auto motor und sport will find stories and rumors for you in the paddock. We ask the engineers what's new about the cars and the drivers what they think of the race. Here is our foray through the ten garages.
Many goodbyes and a comeback. Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne, Brendon Hartley, Sergey Sirotkin, Esteban Ocon and Marcus Ericsson are driving their last Formula 1 race in Abu Dhabi. Kimi Raikkonen, Charles Leclerc, Daniel Ricciardo, Pierre Gasly and Lance Stroll change teams. Robert Kubica returns to the circus after nine years.
Mercedes wants to try out Lewis Hamilton's ailing engine in Friday practice and then decide whether or not to change. The use of a fourth engine would set the world champion back by at least 10 starting positions. In theory, Hamilton could still drive the Spec 2 engine that was used in Paul Ricard, Spielberg, Silverstone, Hockenheim, Budapest, Singapore and Mexico City, but an eighth GP weekend with the drive unit would be at least as risky as one Racing with an engine that ran too hot for 55 laps.
After investigations, the engineers are cautiously optimistic. The checks with the borescope did not reveal any damage to the piston at first glance. Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are registered for next week's tire tests in Abu Dhabi. “It's about next year's generation of tires. We need the feedback from our regular drivers, 'says Mercedes.
Sebastian Vettel takes stock:' We had ups and downs this year. It would be nice to end the season on a high. It's been a while since the last victory, but I don't think we've forgotten how to win. 'Kimi Raikkonen's hunger for third place in the drivers' championship is limited:' Then I have to go to the award ceremony. I can do without the appointment. ”Räikkönen is 14 points missing from compatriot Bottas.
Daniel Ricciardo doesn't know why the Red Bull has been a winning car again in three races. “Things are so complex, the sport is so confusing. The engineers will surely know an answer, but maybe they won't tell me any more. ”Ricciardo praises the aerodynamics development, but says that there isn't one big secret that makes the Red Bull RB14 faster. Team boss Christian Horner becomes a bit clearer: “We were wrong with the diffuser development. We corrected that mistake after the summer break. ”
One of the keys to the Red Bull's strong form is its exceptionally low tire wear. Even the drivers are surprised: “In Brazil, I moved up from 11th on the grid, got stuck in traffic, and yet the tires didn't suffer,” says Ricciardo. Max Verstappen looks back on the Brazilian GP with no regrets: “I wouldn't do anything differently. To me, Ocon's maneuver was pointless. Two laps later his tires would have worn out again and he would have had to let me past again. ”
In Brazil, Force India was out of shape. No chance against Sauber and HaasF1. Sergio Perez hopes that the slack has only to do with the track characteristics. And with the disturbed preparation of his car. “I hardly got to drive before qualifying.” Esteban Ocon regretted the accident with Max Verstappen 14 days late, but explained his maneuver anyway: “The team told me to attack. So I did it. ”
In the Ocon case against Verstappen, Perez partially defends his teammate. “I would have attacked Max in a comparable situation, but with less risk. I would have left more space in place of Max. ”Looking back on two years of tough duel with Ocon, the Mexican judges:“ Of all my teammates, Esteban was definitely not my best friend. I would say our relationship was professional. ”
Robert Kubica is celebrating a comeback at the Australian GP 3,045 days after his last GP appearance at the Abu Dhabi GP on November 14, 2010. The 33-year-old Pole breathed a sigh of relief: “It was a long way to this moment. But now that I've finally made it back to Formula 1, a new challenge begins with Williams on the track. Being back in Formula 1 is one of the greatest achievements of my life. Thanks to everyone who supported me and believed in me. '
Lewis Hamilton congratulated the returnees and joked:' How old is Robert? What, a year older than me. What luck. Now I'm only the third oldest driver in the field next year. After Alonso left, I feared that I would be the second oldest driver. ”
Sergey Sirotkin is now looking down the drain. “I have been preparing for this for a week, but I was only properly informed last night. That is hard. As a racing driver you obviously want to race. I haven't thought about an alternative yet. I'll leave Williams with the thought that I haven't been able to show my full potential. ”
It could be another good race for Renault. “Short curves, mostly at right angles. That suits us, ”says head of operations Alan Permane happily. “The biggest problem are long corners or those that you brake when turning. There are only three or four of them here. ”Nico Hülkenberg dares to sum up:“ The season was okay. The headline is: We're fourth. But things have to get a lot better in the future if we want to catch up with the top teams as planned. ”
For Pierre Gasly, the Abu Dhabi GP is a real one special race: “Here I won my Formula 2 championship. This is my last race for Toro Rosso. And after the race, my future with Red Bull will begin. ”Therefore, the Frenchman is hoping for a conciliatory result as he leaves.
Gasly believes that Toro Rosso will play the night race in the cards. “It's cool there, and we shouldn't have problems with blisters on the tires, as we did recently.” That turned out to be the car's weak point in the last few races. What Gasly doesn't want to understand: “Most of the timeDuring the season, tire management was our strength. Suddenly not anymore. ”The fight for 8th place against Sauber is only of secondary importance for the French:“ We have to concentrate on ourselves and not on this place. I'm just saying: Nothing is impossible in Formula 1. ”
HaasF1 has protested against Force India. Since the team has been competing with a new license under the name Racing Point Force India since the Belgian GP, it logically did not build the car itself. That is what the Formula 1 statutes require. HaasF1 does not want to lock Force India out, just equal rights for everyone. If Force India receives the attendance bonus (Pillar 1 money) for the next two years, HaasF1 is also entitled to this in the opinion of the US team. The Americans would have to be paid around 60 million dollars for 2016 and 2017.
Fernando Alonso is driving his last Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi for the time being. McLaren donated the Spaniard an extra paint job. The two-time world champion has to get used to the fact that everything is taking place in Abu Dhabi for the last time. “I think the emotions won't come until Sunday. I landed here ten hours ago from Japan and not really in racing mode yet. ”
After all, he has already picked out his highlight in 18 years of Formula 1. “My victory in Valencia in 2012. It came completely unexpected. We weren't even in Q3 in qualifying. Then we did everything right. The strategy, the overtaking maneuvers. We took every chance. ”
The greatest compliment was paid to him by a driver who, like Alonso, will no longer drive in Formula 1 next year. Brendon Hartley praises neither the speed nor the racing intelligence of the 32-time GP winner. The New Zealander has a different picture of Alonso: “I've never seen such a fair driver in a duel. Fernando always leaves you room to survive. ”
The goal is ambitious. After Sauber overtook Toro Rosso in the battle for 8th place, the Swiss racing team is now aiming for 7th place. Force India is 6 points missing. To pass bySauber would need 7 points because Force India has the better individual result with Sergio Perez's 5th place in Spa. 'The chances are not great, but we can try,' says team manager Beat Zehnder.
The problem with Abu Dhabi is that this Grand Prix rarely delivers spectacular races. “There are always few failures, never a safety car, never rain,” Zehnder regrets. It is not yet official, but internally it is already clear. The tire tests on Tuesday and Wednesday will be driven by Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi. Charles Leclerc is already testing in the Ferrari.