Leclerc “very happy for Seb” after Aston Martin’s first podium

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In the round-up: Charles Leclerc said he was pleased to see his former team mate Sebastian Vettel score Aston Martin’s first podium in Azerbaijan.

In brief

Leclerc pleased for Vettel and Gasly in Baku

Despite finishing behind Vettel and Pierre Gasly on Sunday, Leclerc said he was pleased for both of them, and eager to understand how Aston Martin had suddenly made a step forwards.

“I think the biggest two surprises of today are the two Aston Martins that were flying and this we honestly did not expect,” said Leclerc after the race. “So we need understand to what they’ve done right because they’ve definitely done something right.

“But I’m very happy for Seb, very happy for his first podium with Aston Martin, he deserves it. And very happy for Pierre too. We had a very nice fight at the end, it was very, very close.”

Leclerc said his main priority in the race was ensuring his kept McLaren’s Lando Norris in his mirrors. “I knew I had Lando just behind and I don’t want to take too much risk because at the end he is our main competitor,” he said. “So it was it was a good race overall.”

Texas crashes meant “conservative” Indy for Bourdais

Start crash, Texas Motor Speedway, IndyCar, 2021
Bourdais was taken out twice in Texas
Sebastien Bourdais revealed his Foyt team had to take a conservative approach for the Indianapolis 500 after he was involved in two crashes on consecutive days in a “dismal weekend” in Texas. Bourdais was taken out by rivals in both races on the super-speedway, the second of which occured as Sunday’s race started.

“That definitely set the tone a little bit for a bit of a more conservative 500,” Bourdais admitted yesterday. “When you’ve pretty much already wiped out your crash budget in a matter of 24 hours, I think we all felt very conservative, maybe a little bit too conservative, in quali trim and everything.”

One Covid-19 case among F1 contingent in Baku

The FIA and Formula 1 confirmed 4,630 tests for Covid-19 were conducted on personnel associated with the race in Azerbaijan, of which only one was found to be positive.

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Comment of the day

Can Formula 1 do more to reduce the risk of debris damaging tyres, asks Nitzo:

Both crashes were high speed and dangerous and steps will have to be taken to avoid them as much as possible.

If they were indeed caused by debris on the track, then the first question on everybody’s mind is why weren’t those pieces of debris spotted earlier? And if they were tiny enough to not be spotted through the video feeds from the camera, then can something else be done? Can we have better track monitoring equipment if possible? Et cetera…

I think all the stakeholders – drivers, teams, FOM, FIA – will have to come together on this and find a way out.
Nitzo (@Webtel)

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  • 35 years ago today Michael Andretti won the Milwaukee 200. Future star Formula 1 designer Adrian Newey was part of his March team’s trackside engineering squad

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  • 30 comments on “Leclerc “very happy for Seb” after Aston Martin’s first podium”

    1. I like this debris that specifically targeted 🎯 warn hard tyres…. Must be new technology ⚙… Homing in to prevent teams running long…. Think 🤔 this needs a patent…

      1. Did someone see Bernie Ecclestone in the paddock this weekend?

        Did he manage to sneak in some of his inventive “improve the show”-ideas?

    2. I am sorry I just can’t support the ‘blaming debris’ line of thinking. That thinking rests on 2 main assumptions: 1) These debris are new and never seen before in F1, 2) These debris are specific to street circuits.

      But neither of these assumptions are true. 1) The only new debris on F1 tracks these days are worn out Pirelli rubber that usually sits just off the racing line. And I am sure Pirelli rubber doesn’t act as debris to Pirelli tyres. 2) Pirelli tyres have failed on all types of tracks before. So it can’t be a street-circuit specific issue.

      The only explanation I feel is plausible, is that, Pirelli tyres while harder and heavier than previous years, are still made out of softer material than what Bridgestone / Michelin used to make. And Pirelli are forced to use such softer material because the tyres need to degrade. While cars have undoubtedly got faster and heavier since the Bridgestone and Michelin era, I don’t believe car technology has ‘surpassed’ tyre technology so much that it is impossible to make long lasting tyres for current generation of F1 cars.

      Not casting any aspersions on Pirelli, the manufacturer. The blame lies on the feet of FIA. Just for one season, please ask your tyre manufacturer to make durable long lasting tyres which can work across a range of temperature, pressure and distance and see what product comes up.

      1. @sumedh COTD material.

      2. I agree the debris theory doesn’t make much sense. It doesn’t explain Stroll’s failure, for example.

        However, it seems the tire failures weren’t really wear-related it seems. The inner structure just failed on the inside rear tire. This suggests to me that the tires might have been damaged from hitting a curbstone the wrong way or against the guardrail. Last year, after the tire failures during the British Grand Prix some curbstones were changed, and in the next race at the same track the tires survived, so the track might have been the culprit.

      3. Allegedly next season they will be more durable, but I’m sure we’ve heard that before, and I’ll believe it when I see it.

      4. At the same time almost everybody was running the same amount of laps on the hard tires and only 2 hard tires failed. So how can it be the tires?

        Reply moderated
      5. Don’t forget that the drivers/teams keep demanding softer and faster tyres – even to the point of rejecting improved and more durable ones. They vehemently oppose slower tyres with more headroom/safety margin because it’s ‘no fun to drive’ and ‘looks bad’ when F1 cars go slower.

        Tyres will always be a problem in F1, until the actual core issues or addressed.
        The cars and all their inherent issues, the fetish for lap records, the reluctance to use more aggressive pit strategies and the ever-present fact that no matter which tyres they have available, the teams will use all their masses of data and telemetry to push them to the absolute limits and beyond.

        1. S I have a feeling you’re oversimplifying and putting words in the drivers’ mouths. From what I gathered, sure the tires were more durable, but were also terrible to drive. I think you are taking license to suggest they were just rejecting ‘slower’ tires that were ‘no fun to drive.’ They actually called them terrible which to me hinted more at something like dangerous to drive (and yeah I’m probable taking some license there too), not just ‘no fun.’ But certainly they did not at all think they were ‘improved’ as you imply. They would hardly have rejected improved tires that just weren’t fun enough, as you seem to be suggesting.

          1. The drivers don’t know how much stronger those tyres may have been structurally, and they don’t care until they fail.
            All they care about is feel and speed. Neither of which satisfied them, so they rejected them.

            Simplified? Perhaps. But that was the outcome.

    3. RE Cotd: One of the components of the 2022 rule changes is to coat the parts of the car that fall off most often, like the front wing, in a membrane so that the chance of punctures is reduced.

      1. There was once floated a suggestion of adding a UV dye to the carbonmixtures used, making them visible under a “blacklight” / certain optical filters on cameras.

    4. The usual promotional about women in motorsport, and then the angle is how how the job messes up her clothes, lol

      1. lol, the piece is so contrived to start with. Just their way to say the job is tough, and I’m sure it is, it is hands on.

    5. What about those Astons indeed. In combination with the Merc performing not as well as usual, I’d say the answer must relatively easy be found for Toto why the mercs were slow. Or the Aston boys have found a Ferrari trick

      1. Only one merc was slow.
        The other one should have won.

      2. Aston’s relative lack of performance seems to have encouraged them to think outside the box on strategy. Hopefully Leclerc noting this will lead him to push Ferrari to be more creative on this front, because it’s one area in which the Scuderia has lacked for many years.

        The Mercedes weren’t really slow in either Monaco or Azerbaijan. Bottas in Monaco and Hamilton in Azerbaijan were basically the best right behind Red Bull, so much so that they could have taken two second places from two races. Mercedes probably feels at this point it’s better for moral to note they were simply slow, when it’s more a case of them messing up, drivers included.

        1. Strategy only works when you have speed, Leclercs fastest lap was 5 tenths slower than Vettel.

          Aston Martins race pace was the third best without the SC he was going to overtake both Leclerc and Gasly anyway.

    6. Brawn skeptical about Aston Martin hiring the ageing Vettel reminds of his nasty comments to Schumacher during his return. Remember the humiliating ‘what was that!’ comment after a poor overtaking attempt (was it Singapore)? Nasty.

      Brawn also doubting Hamilton’s brake excuse by the sound of it:

      I don’t know what happened at the restart. He said it was a switch issue. It was obvious the rear brakes were clearly very hot.

      1. His comments about Vettel seem pretty fair, though. Vettel’s last season (singular) was really bad for a man of his standing. The big thing Brawn leaves out is the influence if Ferrari’s failing endeavors. By 2020, Vettel had seen multiple years in a row of Ferrari getting worse and worse. Even after getting somewhat better this year they’re still a long way from the lead.

    7. Even if the tyre failures were indeed caused by debris I still feel like that is a concern as throughout the last 10 years of Pirelli supplying the tyres it has felt like we have seen a lot more tyres getting cut than was the case before. And I don’t just mean cuts that resulted in failure but also cuts in the tyre that ‘could’ have led to a failure (Such as the one found in Hamilton’s tyre in Baku).

      Is it that over the past 10 years there has simply been a lot more debris around for some reason or is it that the Pirelli tyres are simply more susceptible to suffering cuts than the tyres from before 2011?

      1. Indeed @stefmeister.

        I think i recall a few years ago there was an article posted on here detailing how pirelli had found something like 200 cuts in tires over the period of 2-3 races & rather than see that as a highly unusual concern they didn’t seem that worried by it which i thought was odd.

        And the pirelli defenders will no doubt babble on about heavy cars, high downforce & so on…. Yet we were seeing many of these same problems before the downforce increase in 2017 & when cars were lighter in 2011/12/13 so that clearly isn’t the reason.

        And even if that was the issue then if Pirelli can’t produce tires to suit the cars then they should step away and let somebody else have a go. WEC cars are heavier than F1 cars & they were producing tons of downforce not that long ago & they never had any problems with tires. In fact drivers praised how amazing the Michelins were/are & I think the general consensus is that Michelin make the best tires in the sport right now & tend to be the tire to be on in categories such as WEC that still allow open tire competition (As F1 should).

        #PirelliOut #PirelliF1Embarrisment #PirelliComedyTires #NoToCheeseTires

        1. @roger-ayles How many cuts were Michelin, Goodyear and Bridgestone reporting to the public? Yep, they didn’t, but don’t make the mistake of assuming that there weren’t any. Their tyres were failing too, remember, for various reasons – and with much lower demands on them.
          No, you’ve probably conveniently neglected that aspect.

          If you’ve got any evidence to support your claim that Pirelli should leave F1 and some other manufacturer/s should replace them with their superior tyres, I’d really love to see it.
          Don’t forget to include the fact that only Pirelli and Avon have made F1 compatible tyres for the last 10 years. F1 cars and their demands on the tyres have changed a lot in that time, as has F1’s approach to what they expect from their tyre supplier.
          Of course WEC’s Michelin’s were lasting longer – that’s an endurance series. Their drivers, teams and administrators probably weren’t and aren’t constantly demanding softer tyres and more grip.

          Your opinion is your opinion, and as such is perfectly valid – but come on, a bit of reality wouldn’t go astray.
          Michelin don’t want to make F1 tyres the way F1 want them to – and even if they did, they probably wouldn’t be any better anyway. At least Pirelli have 10 years of relevant experience.

        2. @roger-ayles with regards to Michelin and the World Endurance Championship, I think it is important to take that with a little bit of a pinch of salt.

          Firstly, it could be noted that there is a complex financial relationship between the LMP1 teams and Michelin, as Michelin is also one of the biggest, if not the biggest, sponsors of the World Endurance Championship.

          There have been occasional hints in the past that teams have felt a bit reluctant to voice concerns in public because of that. Back in 2013, you might recall that Michelin was making a lot of fanfare about their “slick intermediate” tyres, which was a slick tyre that could operate as an intermediate rain tyre – however, whilst the public position was that the drivers were praising the tyres, I recall that Radio Le Mans reported that the truth was rather less positive in private, but that those drivers felt under pressure from Michelin not to publicly voice their complaints.

          They noted that, in private, quite a few drivers complained that “slick intermediate” was prone to unexpected losses of grip and was a lot trickier to use than suggested in public. They even noted that the Corvette GTE team completely refused to use those tyres and sent them back to Michelin on the grounds that they were dangerous for the drivers to use.

          Secondly, it could also be noted that, whilst the LMP1 category was theoretically an open category, Michelin effectively had a monopoly in all but name. Dunlop was around until 2013, and then briefly back in 2016, but they’ve said that the shrunken LMP1 field means it’s no longer financially viable to try to enter as there are too few customers to pay for development.

          Effectively, the only category that had anything that approached some degree of competition was the LMP2 category of the WEC and European Le Mans Series – the equivalent series in Asia and the USA had already switched to monopoly supply contracts. It’s also worth noting that, for a long time, Michelin wasn’t the preferred supplier in the LMP2 category – Dunlop was, for a long time, the preferred tyre supplier in that category.

          I would also like to note the use of the term “was an open category”, as that changed a few years ago and there is no competition now. Back in 2019, the ACO signed a multi-year contract with Michelin that gave them monopoly rights to provide tyres for the LMP1 and LMP3 categories, whilst Goodyear has a multi-year monopoly supply deal for the LMP2 category.

          As an aside, it has to be said that, over in MotoGP, Michelin has been receiving quite a bit of criticism over the past few years for their tyres after taking over the tyre supply contract, and there has been a lot of criticism that their current MotoGP tyres have a quite narrow operating window. Quite a bit of the current criticism Michelin faces in MotoGP would sound awfully familiar to the criticism Pirelli are receiving in F1 now, as it happens…

        3. #PirelliBetrayedFormulaOne

    8. Two-lap race bodes well for sprint qualifying

      I was encouraged to hear a number of commentators say we needed another 10 laps of the action we saw in the final two laps of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix because it acts as a good prequel to sprint qualifying.

      Sprint qualifying will be a little longer, around 17 to 20 laps, but it could well feature the same type of thrilling racing as drivers won’t have to worry about saving tyres.

      From the Brawn column. Well I knew that argument was coming. If Monza 2020 can be used as justification for reverse grid races, then a 2 lap race after a red flag was always going to be used to represent the sprint races. I don’t see many parallels with sprint races tbh. We know that the first 1 or 2 laps of the race are the most action packed, but after that the first stint of the race is usually the most boring, since all cars are on similar tyres so there is nothing to generate any pace difference other than the cars themselves. On top of that, there is also less to gain since drivers are only competing for grid slots and not the actual race points, so are likely to take less risks when weighed against the lower rewards available.

      And I even disagree that drivers won’t have to worry about saving tyres – since when do you not have to manage Pirelli tyres over a 20 lap stint? Very rarely is that the case unless they force the teams to use harder compounds than they would like.

      1. I agree @keithedin and was actually about to post a similar counter argument to that part of Ross’ column.

        Some of what Ross is saying recently makes me think that rather then him bringing some F1 knowledge to Liberty (Who had no prior knowledge of the sport or it’s history) it has actually worked out where they are simply telling him what gimmicks, artificialness & nascar-ificatin type stuff they want to force onto F1 & are simply using Ross, Stefano & co.. to try & justify it & sell it to fans.

        It’s sad to see how much of a puppet Ross has become. A lot of his points & arguments don’t even sound like Ross Brawn anymore, They just sound like the repeated lines from the Liberty overlords.

      2. It was a 2 lap sprint to win the Grand Prix and for full points. Of Course drivers went for it…

        When it’s just to decide the grid positions for the actual race, they’ll be much more careful. If you’re in 8th, you’re not going to risk starting from the back of the grid just to gain one position. They’ll gun it at the start and hope to make up some places before settling back into it. If they can pass with DRS, they’ll do it but otherwise, they’ll be very risk averse.

        Get into position, turn the engine down and protect the car.

        1. @petebaldwin Just look at the F2/F3 2021 format for further proof.

          The 1st sprint race sets the grid for the 2nd sprint race & the 1st sprint race has thus far been the least interesting of the 3 races over the weekend. For the most part drivers just hold position knowing that the risk of damage or a DNF that costs them points in that race & then also puts them towards the back at the start of the 2nd isn’t worth it so they just hold back a bit to maintain the points position.

          Will be the same in F1. You may see some changes at the start but the rest of the race will likely be far more static & maybe even less interesting than the opening stint of a GP as you won’t have any of the strategy or other things that will play out over a longer race to create some extra interest.

          1. Bring back the old format next year.

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