Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo, Circuit de Catalunya, 2022

“Some strong areas” in new Alfa Romeo despite low mileage – Bottas

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Valtteri Bottas gave a mixed verdict on the first Alfa Romeo Formula 1 car he will race ahead of this week’s second test.

In brief

Bottas, who has joined Alfa Romeo from Mercedes, was only able to give limited feedback on the car as the team completed the fewest laps of all 10 in the first pre-season test at the Circuit de Catalunya two weeks ago.

“The nice feeling is that I definitely feel that there is potential, there is some strong areas in the car in certain type of corners,” he said.

“But also, of course, I immediately noticed points to work on with the balance, with some of the behaviour. But nothing that we shouldn’t be able to fix. It feels like we are still in very early stages of actually discovering the car.

“For me it was quite limited running that we had with two different tyre compounds, only with quite a very few set-up changes. So there’s still so much more to discover.”

He hopes to gain a “better understanding in Bahrain” when testing resumes on Thursday. “There’s work to do, I’m not saying anything against that. But also I feel like there is potential in this package and I’m looking forward to discover more about it with the team.”

Williams sign British F4 driver Gray to academy

Williams have signed British Formula 4 racer Oliver Gray to the team’s driver academy ahead of the start of the new season.

Gray, who stepped up to single seaters in the British F4 championship last season, will contest a second year in the series in 2022 with Carlin. His first season saw him finish seventh in the standings, with two wins and one pole position.

“As I begin working with the team, my immediate goals are to develop as a driver both on and off the track, as well as focus on my 2022 season,” said Gray. “I can’t wait to get started.”

Mercedes pressure over Masi akin to “bullying”, says Horner

Michael Masi, Imola, 2021
The FIA gave Masi a new role following Abu Dhabi
Christian Horner says that he believes Mercedes pressured the FIA to drop former race director Michael Masi from his position during their investigation into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Speaking to the BBC, Horner said he disagreed with the decision for Masi to be replaced in his role ahead of the new season.

“Was it right to fire him based on pressure that was placed on him from a rival team? That for me was wrong,” Horner said. “That’s tantamount to bullying. It’s passively aggressive.

“Yes, Michael did make mistakes and it was frustrating, but you have to look at the role that he was in and the tools that he had at his disposal. You can’t just place the blame on Michael. It’s unfair to do that.”

Haas hit with freight delays ahead of second test

Haas have been forced to seek alternative transport for their cars and equipment to Bahrain after their freight plane from Doncaster Airport was delayed.

The team’s cars and equipment were supposed to leave the UK for Bahrain ahead of the second pre-season test beginning this week, but their original flight was delayed due to technical problems, as reported by Auto Motor und Sport.

The delay could hinder the team from running their cars on the opening day of the second test if they are unable to rearrange alternative transport in time.

It is the latest complication in a tumultuous pre-season for the team, who have dropped their title sponsor and driver Nikita Mazepin as a result of sanctions placed on Russian businesses following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Pietro Fittipaldi is scheduled to run in the three day test for the team alongside race driver Mick Schumacher.

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Comment of the day

As Gene Haas claims that his team are looking at multiple candidates to fill their vacant second race seat for the new season, @srga91 hopes that reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi does get a chance to race this season…

I hope Haas at least give Pietro Fittipaldi a chance to prove himself, before hiring someone else in a hurry. He didn’t do too bad in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi two years ago for the team and was reasonably close to Magnussen.

I don’t expect him to be on the same pace as Mick Schumacher, but I don’t think he will be massively off either. Time will tell if he’s worth the seat or not.

If not, then Giovinazzi would be a safe bet. He’s experienced, knows a lot about the Ferrari PU and would’ve likely been involved in development of Sauber’s 2022 car (meaning he has at least theoretical knowledge in that area). Plus he would be a good benchmark for Mick Schumacher.

The only other candidate I see is Oscar Piastri. He’s definitely fast, one of the biggest talents right now. I don’t see him being a rookie as a big problem. However, his link to Renault/Alpine might be an obstacle. I can’t imagine Ferrari wanting a rival’s junior driver in a team so closely related to their own works team.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Les, Preekel, Rebecca, Stig Semper Fi and Mark Adams!

On this day in motorsport

  • On this day in 1997 Jacques Villeneuve put his Williams on pole position by 1.7 seconds from his team mate, and over two seconds ahead of the closest car which wasn’t a Williams

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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36 comments on ““Some strong areas” in new Alfa Romeo despite low mileage – Bottas”

  1. RandomMallard
    8th March 2022, 0:33

    Both those interviews with Horner are interesting to say the least. Managed to read the BBC one in full, but only able to go off the quote in the round up for the FT article. I try not to have an active dislike for anyone in F1, everyone there is very quick and/or very intelligent, but Horner (and Wolff sometimes as well) can really stretch that.

    This pre-season is turning into a nightmare for Haas isn’t it…

    Nice initiative from Plato if you ask me (assuming it’s going to humanitarian causes)

    Interesting take from Hill, although I haven’t managed to read the full article.

    New appointment at Alfa then, quite high up it seems. Don’t know how much that’ll affect the team day to day though.

    1. He is certainly competent, but Christian Horner is the least charismatic team principal in the paddock by a long shot.

      1. It’s extremely rare that something comes out of his mouth that is not exclusively for Mateschitz/Marko/Max/Horner’s interest.
        I guess they’re happy with that, I don’t listen.

      2. @ferrox-glideh At times last season both Horner and Wolff were really grinding my gears, but when you step back from listening solely to the words coming out of their mouths and always remember that whatever they say is said with the sole aim of assisting their team to achieve its goals, it makes them both easier to bear.

        This helps with everyone in F1…no one is showing their true selves (even Land

        1. Hopefully Ferrari and Mclaren are at the front battling it out this year so that Toto and Christian are not in the spotlight so prominently this year. But I agree both bosses are just doing their jobs. The problem with modern culture is everyone seems to lay their hat on one driver/team, so the natural ‘division’ that the media, and especially social media always try to create means there is always this ‘either your with us or against us’ mentality with the ‘fans’. (Only Sith’s deal in absolutes – if I was to quote Obi Wan)

          1. I am concerned that if Drive to Survive S4 is all about the rivalry between Mercedes/Hamilton and Red Bull/Verstappen this will become even worse in terms of division between fanbases.

          2. 100% agree. The internet in general and social media in particular have no understanding of nuance. This “your either all for something or all against it” attitude is fuelling people’s anger.

          3. Indeed – I was pleased for Max to become World Champion, but desperately wanted Horner to lose…

        2. @geemac Of course partisanship is required by the teams, but the constant whinging and bullying by the team leaders is still off-putting. Maybe they could keep it behind the scenes? I would certainly rather have a publicly level-headed leader if I had to deal with them day in and day out.
          Sometimes I think Lando may actually be showing his true self, as he certainly knows that this would be a form of mental gamesmanship too. :)

    2. Managed to read the BBC one in full

      What happened to original articles being linked in the round-up?

      Also the Sauber/Alex tweet could use a bit more background. According to this site it’s not a full MD role, but merely a Director (if that) with some operational responsibilities.
      Maybe something got lost in translation; we’ll see.

      And I guess Kvyat won’t fill the final F 1 seat.

  2. Masi was mostly incapable if resisting merc’s pressure and when he did he got the boot, it sends the wrong message.

    1. I wonder what Horner would say if it was Mercedes giving Masi detailed instructions about how the restart should be done and Masi complied. Horner is a nasty character with a smiling face.

      1. I wonder what Toto would say if Horner was giving orders to not bring out the SC when it was clearly needed….
        Toto is every bit as nasty as Horner. It’s a draw.

        1. It would be nice not to see them for a year. We might actually get back to F1 being a sport

    2. If “Masi was mostly incapable if resisting merc’s pressure” as you say, then he clearly wasn’t up to the job and it was right to remove him. The teams, if allowed to, will pile pressure on the officials when they believe it will gain them an advantage. That’s part of their job. A large part of the race director’s job is to deal with that pressure, so if he wasn’t capable of doing so, he wasn’t capable of doing the job he was being paid for.

  3. I don’t think the FIA could have kept Masi even if they wanted to because I think his position became untenable. Not just because of Abu Dhabi but because of many decisions, inconsistencies & the way certain things had been done during his tenure resulted in him losing the confidence of many fans as well as some of the competitors within the sport.

    Had they kept him every decision he made would have been put under the microscope & Every bad or questionable call called out louder than usual.

    Change was needed, A reset of the system & those in charge of it was vital not to appease any team/driver but to give the fans the belief that things will improve because lets be honest fans on all sides have been vocal repeatedly about decisions been made & the lack of consistency.

    The Max/RBR fans praising him in Abu Dhabi were tearing him apart after Silverstone & Monza as were Red Bull & Verstappen who have been just as critical of him with Christian Horner lets not forget bemoaning the loss of Charlie Whiting to the point where the stewards felt the need to warn him about his words just a few weeks before Abu Dhabi.

    The change, The reset & the new faces allow us to go into 2022 with a fresh start & that is what was needed, Especially after the way 2021 ended.

    As a more neutral fan I welcome this.

    1. but to give the fans the belief that things will improve

      Blind optimism: the hallmark of an F1 fan.

      The Max/RBR fans praising him in Abu Dhabi were tearing him apart after Silverstone & Monza as were Red Bull & Verstappen who have been just as critical of him

      Another example of confusing the Stewards with the Race Director.
      Regardless, it’s okay to disagree with them – stuff happens in sport. However, it’s not okay to demand their removal, nor celebrate it when it happens.

      As a more neutral fan I welcome this.

      As a completely neutral viewer, I feel the opposite, @stefmeister.
      This just appears that when the most powerful and influential team (and/or driver) in F1 loses or gets upset, change in the FIA’s ‘independent’ administration is just around the corner. There’s a clear image of appeasing them in case they threaten to leave, which would practically cripple the whole series.
      The best thing the FIA could have done was leave everyone where they were, update the rule book and get on with it, IMO. That proves independence and shows that they won’t be bullied or coerced into change due to anything that has happened on the track, or off it.

      1. I’ve been very critical of Masi’s performance and inconsistency over the past 2 years.

        But now is the wrong time to remove him, especially since the stewards twice reviewed his infamous decision and approved/condoned it.

      2. Agree with you, and I consider myself a neutral fan too. If anything the decision to dump Masi just shows that the teams have a lot of influence on FIA, more than expected really. The things needed here were better written rules covering more scenarios and clearer guidelines regarding VSC , SC and Red Flags and more info and more real time data for race control to enable them quick decisions. Dumping Masi won’t change the human interpretation from race stewardship and the risk of inconsistency on decisions. Clearer rules will help in minimize the inconsistency, but this won’t change. This happened even on Charlie Whiting era.

        1. Clear rules only work if they are enforced, and there are no contradictory rules or “interpretations”. The safety car rules are very clear, but when there is another rule which says (according to the stewards’ interpretation from AD) “the race director is allowed to ignore all other rules around safety cars and race starts and make up anything he wants”, then clear rules aren’t worth the paper they are written on.

    2. The Max/RBR fans praising him in Abu Dhabi were tearing him apart after Silverstone & Monza as were Red Bull & Verstappen who have been just as critical of him with Christian Horner lets not forget bemoaning the loss of Charlie Whiting to the point where the stewards felt the need to warn him about his words just a few weeks before Abu Dhabi.

      As a Max fan (also Lewis) i didn’t blame Masi as he had nothing to do with the Silverstone/Monza punishments. But i was critical of the amount of pressure the team put on him at Abu Dhabi. Was that something to fire him No but to increase the RC team so during the race Massi doesn’t have to handle Teambosses & contactpersons himself.

      1. @macleod Was Masi fired though? All o can find is that he was ‘removed’ as Race Director and is still with the FIA. I’d say there is an argument to be had that he declined to continue as RD, since the death threats that went flying at Latifi, surely would have went to everyone involved and undoubtedly Masi has been targeted a lot more than any driver.

        It’s quite bizarre the statements of ‘absolute fact’ I’ve seen over the past few months that Masi is a well known racist, has it in for Hamilton, is a Verstappen fan boy and would break every rule to ensure Hamilton couldn’t get his 8th title, even that he is a huge Schumacher fan and won’t let anyone get an 8th so his hero’s reputation is protected.

        Even with very thick skin, the barrage of harassment must have been extreme and overwhelming in his shoes.

        1. @jasonj He is going to be replaced (even if he works with the FIA) and we call that fired if it happens to me. I didn’t hear that he declined to contine as RD only that he was replaced.

          Or I don’t understand all this politics but i am going to leave it and conitinue with the next test.

  4. The Dolphins
    8th March 2022, 2:42

    Horner would do well do dodge these interview questions. You got the championship now let it rest. Throwing mud around the paddock is not going to make your win any more legitimate.

    1. True. 100% legitimate is as much as it can be.

      1. That’s not the way I see it. If it was “legitimate” there wouldn’t have been any changes made. 2021 will always need an asterisk. The fact that the broken system allowed it to happen doesn’t make it legitimate. I understand Max fans see it differently.

        1. Changes are made every season, @jms90h5.
          Surely you aren’t implying that all F1 championship season winners are illegitimate?

  5. Haas should consider the dark horse too….

    Bring back Kimi!

    1. @TheDonz He most definitely won’t re-return.

  6. Like RBR didn’t pressure him at all.
    Of course, Horner said what he said because his team benefitted from rule manipulation.
    Additionally, Hill has some points, & while Masi could’ve stayed with some help & role sharing, the ousting from being RD was unsurprising in the end.

    Things couldn’t get any worse for Haas.

    Based on Latifi’s helmet cam view, the 18-inches & tyre covers don’t seem to obstruct sightline view hugely versus last season’s equivalents with other drivers including his former teammate in Monza, as the camera is placed equally on the left-eye side material.

    I already replied to COTD in the original article, so a shorter version here: P. Fittipaldi or Gio, no other realistic options this close to the season-opener.
    Piastri has been unrealistic from the get-go & equally unrealistic as he was for AR when speculated last year.
    I feel like people consider him only for emotional reasons, feeling he deserves an F1 chance more than anyone else without being realistic about his actual chances.

    1. @jerejj “Things couldn’t get any worse for Haas.” They haven’t hit bottom yet!

  7. Horner doesn’t seem to know what passive aggression is. In psychology it simply means the expression of anger or hostility by withdrawal or silence. In other words, one expresses anger by not doing anything.

    1. Oh, I think Horner is clever enough to have mastered all versions of aggressive communication.

  8. Always good to see a helmet cam, and I appreciated the option of playing it at 1.25x to simulate one of Albon’s laps.
    Shame the new cars are stuck with the old T-shaped camerasaurus on the roll bar – couldn’t they build a lower, more involving angle into the new regulations?

    1. @bullfrog How does 1.25x video speed simulate Albon’s lap? I don’t quite get what you mean?
      I don’t mind T-cams. A lower, more involving angle I’m unsure if such were doable.

    2. @bullfrog They do have cameras at lower positions than the T-cam. There’s still one on the nose as well as the ‘classic’ angle on the side of chassis looking over the drivers shoulder (The one eyed view as Murray Walker used to call it). That angle never went away & has been used consistently since the mid 80s alongside the T-cam, Nose mounted camera & the one at the bottom of the halo strut looking back at the driver (And the Helmet visor-cam introduced last year). Admittedly however the over the shoulder view has had to be raised since 2019 to look over the Halo.

      The reason they have kept with the T-cam since 1998 is because it’s a very aerodynamically neutral design & it’s also an easier, More optimal design to hold both forward & rearward facing cameras as well as the other electronics it includes as the T-cam isn’t just a camera, It’s the control box & transmitter for all data that is sent to/from the car for both FOM, The FIA & the teams themselves.

      The T-cam is a design that we came up with along with the teams & of the various setups that was looked at by both us & the teams in 1997/98 & when it’s been revisited since it’s always stuck as the best design that does everything it needs to with no compromises needed.

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