Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Monza, 2021

Mercedes “should be competitive” in Sochi after run of “messy races”

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In the round-up: Mercedes are hopeful of a strong showing in this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.

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In brief

Sochi looks good for us, say Mercedes

Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin expects a competitive showing for the team at Sochi but says they must put a run of poor weekends behind them.

“We need to make sure we put a good weekend together in Russia,” said Shovlin. “It’s a place where the car should be competitive.

“But we’ve had pretty messy races for quite a long time now. And really, the team needs to not get distracted and just focus on delivering the kind of performance that we know we can and the performance that we need to win these championships.”

The team confirmed last week Lewis Hamilton’s power unit did not sustain any damage in his race-ending collision with Max Verstappen. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said they were not planning to replace his power unit as they did for Valtteri Bottas last weekend.

“It’s not an absolute must because we still are running very comfortably with this power unit,” he said. “It’s a decision that that can be made at any time but at the moment we don’t feel it’s necessary.

“Does that mean we’re not going to take a fourth? No, it doesn’t. I think we will see how the next races pan out.”

Hill backs Lowe’s zero-carbon fuel firm

A British technology firm developing synthetic fuels with zero carbon emissions has raised £200,000 in investment from a syndicate backed by 1996 world champion Damon Hill.

Zero Petroleum, which was ​founded by a former McLaren, Mercedes and Williams Formula 1 designer Paddy Lowe, intends to begin production of the fuel using a combination of electricity from renewable sources and carbon dioxide captured from the atmosphere. The company says its fuels can be used for motoring, aviation and other applications. It received injection of funds through investment firm Raising Partners.

New Russian GP track interests Schumacher

Igora Drive changes
Report: Igora Drive building new track extension for first F1 race in 2023
Mick Schumacher is curious about the new venue Formula 1’s Russian round will relocate to in 2023. “I’m excited to get to know new tracks and Igora looks like an interesting one,” he said.

“I think Sochi is quite a ‘simple’ track,” he added. “We have a lot of 90-degree corners, but obviously if you’re not good at that it could be terrifying – if you’re good then it helps.”

Simmons to make FIA F3 debut in place of Yeany

Hunter Yeany will miss the final round of the Formula 3 championship after it was brought forward to this weekend as he was already scheduled to participate in the Formula Regional Americas championship at Virginia. Ayrton Simmons, the 2018 British Formula 4 runner-up, will take his place at Charouz.

New format: Penalty Box

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Comment of the day

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown’s claim F1 teams could eventually be worth ‘billions’ was greeted with some scepticism:

At the end of the day value is decided by the investors. If nobody invests you can feel like you have the most valuable product in the world, but it doesn’t mean anything.

Markets are also fragmented, having globally bigger reach doesn’t isn’t necessarily better than having a smaller market which is more easily targetable by advertisers – other sports can target a particular demographic down to a very city. Also, it has to be said, the combustion engine issue. It’s been beaten to death but F1 is kind of doubling down on combustion saying that it’s not going anywhere any time soon. Meanwhile many national governments are saying it is. Bit of a disconnect there.

Also there’s quite big risk. F1 has changed hands only recently, not only from an ownership perspective but also in terms of leadership. Who knows what that will even mean in the years to come, in relation to providing a fair and stable competition. At the end of the day he’s right, solving the massive expenditures of recent years will increase the value, but F1 still has a lot more problems to solve compared to a national basketball or football competition where all that’s needed is a ball, a court and some fair referees.

Of course his quotes make a great marketing pitch though. (Who would have thought?)
Tristan (@Skipgamer)

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On this day in motorsport

  • 15 years ago today Lewis Hamilton impressed McLaren by lapping a tenth of a second quicker than Pedro de la Rosa in a test at Silverstone. His GP2 rival Nelson Piquet Jnr set the fastest time of the day for Renault for the second day in a row.

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  • 35 comments on “Mercedes “should be competitive” in Sochi after run of “messy races””

    1. Zero Fuel !? Well it’s alcohol of course, sugarcane grows in sunny climes so solar power for EV battery application in planters and harvesters is easy, the growing cane uses the CO2 to produce sugar, yeast uses the sugar to produce alcohol and CO2, a virtuous cycle but hardly new or innovative.

      1. Technically it is not zero carbon, in the end marketing is all that matters.
        It would have been really bad luck to lose a pu as a result of an innocuous crash, therefore not surprised the pu is fine. Merc, like any team only make mistakes when they are not utterly dominant. The silverstone upgrade was a good step but they have failed to capitalize on that, instead they have gained points in other ways.

      2. @hohum

        Check out Carbon Engineering, a Canadian based company. Their tech is pretty interesting. However, just like with all this stuff, I question if the net gain is actually worth all the energy that is expended. The other with this, and generation of blue H2, is the copious amounts of water that is required. Desalination is a net loss of the environment.

        On the topic of growing crops to make fuel…yeah well, I’m not sure that the best use of resources to be honest.

        There is no easy solution here, we have to strike a balance of some sort. This is not a zero sum game as some make it out to be. A lot of people (cough politicians, twitterati et al) who parrot these buzz words have no idea how anything is built, or how power is generated, which I think is a problem, because the solution they put forward are typically counter productive.

      3. If it is sugarcane then many hectares of rain forest will be destroyed to make way for it. It has already happened for other crops.

        The forest wood is burnt of course so there will be no real gain or offset to use this fuel.

        1. This sugarcane is produced for food @andyformsandy.
          The non-food (inedible) excess waste (stalks/leaves/roots/fibrous material) is used to make this fuel. It would otherwise just be burned or used in other less beneficial ways.
          Nothing is being grown specifically for fuel production, and no rainforest has been removed just to ‘replace’ petrol.

          1. But not only the “waste” can be used to make ethanol, that’s just the most ethical way to make it. If sugar cane prices increase because of this, which they will, then it will become more profitable to deforest areas to plant more sugar cane, and people will do it. Heck, even if the companies involved refuse to buy anything but the “waste” products, that is likely to lead to the edible parts being thrown away or disguised.

            We can see this when we look at what happened with using waste cooking oil to make biodiesel. Many suppliers found that, because this waste product was more valuable than fresh palm oil, they could just throw palm oil in with the waste products. This increased demand for, and therefore the price of, palm oil, which led to deforestation to plant more oil palms. It also led farmers to change what they were growing to what was more valuable. Massive damage has been done to rain forests, food supplies and more, even though the biodiesel producers were only buying “waste oil”.

            1. Yep @drmouse. With every good comes a not-so-good – particularly where humans and money are involved.
              At least biofuel is a step up from fossil fuel in terms of environmental sustainability – at least for limited production.
              Let’s also not pretend that electric is perfect either, though. Current battery tech is no better for the environment than liquid fuels are, and still remains far inferior in terms of energy density.
              Improving, but slowly…

              Now, if there were no such concepts as money or ownership, humanity could really achieve something worthwhile.
              Unfortunately, while everything has a financial value, that will remain both the primary incentive and barrier.

    2. “Mercedes “should be competitive” in Sochi after run of “messy races””

      McLaren leads and win the 2021 Sochi GP.

      Sound like 2021 Monza GP to me.

      Reply moderated
    3. @jaymenon10, The “solutions” put forward by politicians and their useful fools are only ever productive to their election campaigns and their donors.
      Here in Oz there is a major alcohol fuel supplier that uses the crushed cane by-product of sugar to feed the yeast but that is less easy to demonstrate as being zero-emmission.

      1. To clarify, ….uses the crushed cane a by-product of sugar production……
        A bit clumsy but should be clear now.

      2. @hohum

        Yeah I live in Oz too…”politicians and their useful fools are only ever productive to their election campaigns and their donors”….haha. The likes of Adam Bandt are a bottomless pit of “solutions”.

        1. Unlike the solutions proposed by Angas or Canavan?

          1. Canavan is a clown, but this is Angus’ portfolio and he couldn’t be more dangerously placed.

    4. The team confirmed last week Lewis Hamilton’s powered unit

      Eh, Knowwhatahmean, nudge nudge, say no more…

    5. If you were to invest $10Billion in an F1 team it will still be worth no more than $300Million 3 years later.

    6. Yesterday RaceFans introduced a new article format we intend to use during select upcoming rounds. Take a look at Penalty Box below and share your feedback on how we could improve it in the comments?

      Apart from that I don’t think we needed another article on either incident at this moment, but I can see how much traffic it generates (which is fair enough and I’m glad the site thrives under this year’s rivalry). The voting options might give us a better insight on the balance of opinions, i.e. settle the dust caused by all the clutter in the comments section.

      What could be added to the format, in my opnion, are descriptions of similar incidents/same situations, which inevitably will show up in the comments anyway.

      1. It’s difficult to see what value there is in re-hashing these incidents weeks after the event. Whenever there is a contentious occurrence there will be immediate debate, generally with most commenters being firmly entrenched on one side or the other. Any additional real information (such as that presented in the Penalty Box articles) will come too late to influence the discussion / debate / argument.

        What could be added to the format, in my opnion, are descriptions of similar incidents/same situations, which inevitably will show up in the comments anyway.

        It always amuses me when I see comments to the effect that Max / Lewis should know better because of some incident that happened five years ago. Does anybody really believe that in the split seconds of an incident a driver remembers and reacts to such old events?

        1. Does anybody really believe that in the split seconds of an incident a driver remembers and reacts to such old events?

          I don’t believe that for a second, but I think (optimistically, I must admit) it for instance can kill the one-would-never-make-the-corner-at-that-angle-carrying-that-speed parts of a discussion.

          I agree with you though that a format like this would only work on the day after the incident occurred and not half a week or even two months later. Preferably combined with reactions from the people involved, so we can have a centralised discussion (pageloadclick-wise, that’s wishful thinking).

          1. I agree with you though that a format like this would only work on the day after the incident occurred

            I’m not sure I agree. For instance, I try to wait until at least the day after the race before I vote in “Rate the Race”. Immediately after, my emotions are often running too high for me to make a rational judgement. The excitement or disappointment of the result can have a massive influence on how I rate it in the hours after the result. A day or two later, having calmed down and had time to consider it objectively (or at least less subjectively), the rating I give can be significantly different.

            With particularly contentious incidents like this, most people will make an on the spot judgement, and their emotional response is unlikely to allow that to be changed for a significant amount of time afterwards. Publishing a “Penalty Box” article the day of, or the day after, a major incident like these is going to encourage emotional responses over rational ones. Waiting a few weeks would give people more chance to calm down and look at it objectively.

      2. @Ruben

        Keep in mind that the readers of this site are not a random sampling, but will be self-selected based on language and culture. And in turn, those people will tend to have biases based on their language and culture.

        1. I’m fully aware of this being a British website with a predominant British audience. While writing the comment above I had the hope that only the registered users (i.e. the ones who can vote in the polls) would automatically be more serious towards the sport and have less of a tunnel vision for any specific driver. However, after another check of some of the ‘discussions’ elsewhere on this site I must say that many of the users that send comment sections into turmoil are, unfortunately, registered as well.

      3. A poll clarifies people’s view more so that’s good.

        Just try to make the ‘explanation’ of what happened not so blatant.

    7. For this week’s edition of My F1 Cars we spoke to a driver who once raced for three different teams in three consecutive races…

      That has to be Johnny Herbert doesn’t it (Team Lotus, Ligier, Benetton in the 1994 Portuguese, European and Japanese Grands Prix respectively)?

      1. Wow, that’s an interesting stat.

    8. Zero-carbon fuel: Interesting.

      Lucky, although I wonder why did Lando use racing overalls rather than casual clothes? The fire risk in a road car is non-existent versus racing.

      I also reckon they’ll collide again.

      1. No need to wonder about Norris’ race suit, @jerejj. This was a marketing stunt… ;)

    9. Mercdes have won just 1 of last 10 races. The first 5 of these – Monaco, Baku, 2 Austrias, France – they simply didn’t have the raw pace.
      Post Silverstone upgrade, they have still been outqualified (in regular qualifyings) in 2 out of 5 weekends – Belgium, Netherlands. The other 3 – Silverstone, Hungary, Monza – were potentially winning for Mercedes but they let 2 of them go.

      Hope Mercedes can tighten up their on-track ops so that they don’t lose wins like Hungary / Monza.

      1. I’m not sure where you see they didn’t have the pace in france, hamilton was pressing verstappen for a while till red bull decided to do a (imo) suicide strategy giving up track position and barely ended up re-catching and passing him.

        I hope you aren’t using the last stint where one had 20 laps newer tyres to say red bull had more pace.

        Reply moderated
      2. I don’t know about the pace. I think Mercedes just doesn’t have a supreme advantage anymore, and the Red Bull is competitive. But the difference is very small in my opinion.
        Qualifications are very tight, I think the biggest advantage Red Bull had was a quarter of a second between Max and Lewis in France.
        On the other hand in Monza Valtteri had 411 ms advantage on Max and in Hungary Lewis had 421 ms on Max.
        So for qualifications at least, one could say Mercedes and Red Bull are very matched.

      3. I’m not sure where you see they didn’t have the pace in france, hamilton was pressing verstappen for a while till red bull decided to do a (imo) very risky strategy giving up track position and barely ended up re-catching and passing him.

        I hope you aren’t using the last stint where one had 20 laps newer tyres to say red bull had more pace.

        1. Agreed that Mercedes could have won in France. They dropped the ball there IMO, I still can’t understand why they waited for an extra lap to bring Hamilton in, and giving verstappen the chance of the undercut

    10. Mercedes also thought they were in better shape for Zandvoort than Monza and look how that turned out.

      They just aren’t looking like the team they’ve been for the last few years, the litany of strategic and tactical errors coupled with wayward practice sessions saved at the 11th hour with a major setup change in qually gives me little confidence they will be any different in Sochi unfortunately.

      1. Even so, they still have plenty of pace and definitely it’s mercedes’ to lose in sochi, verstappen with penalty, mercedes having won all races since russia came, bottas being as strong as hamilton or more in russia, it would be silly to bet on red bull.

        1. A conveniently timed SC/VSC can turn things on their heads tho. Seen plenty of crashes/incidents at Russia before, but admittedly all things being equal then Merc should have the upper hand. Will be interesting to see if RB use this as the time to change Max’s engine

    11. Ayrton Simmons has been pretty disappointing in GB3 this year, will be interesting to see how he gets on in FIA F3.

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