Sep.28 (GMM) Mercedes is struggling at the scene of the Russian GP at Sochi.
The Finnish broadcaster C More says Toto Wolff cancelled a scheduled interview after Friday practice in order to sit in on a crisis meeting about the team’s performance.
“We saw that we were behind in practice, but there are always meetings,” Valtteri Bottas told the broadcaster.
“Sometimes it’s happier, sometimes it’s a little darker.”
What is alarming Mercedes is that, after three defeats to Ferrari on the trot, it was Red Bull as well as the Italian team clearly faster on Friday.
“At the moment it’s a big question mark,” said championship leader Lewis Hamilton.
“The balance of the car is fine.”
Boss Wolff agrees: “We are too slow and we do not know why. If we are honest, we are only the third team here in Sochi.
“It looks like we have maybe not pushed the development forward as much as the others.”
He admitted that, in the short term, he is hoping forecasts of abysmal weather including heavy rain showers prove accurate.
“Anything that can turn the current order upside down is good for us,” said Wolff.
The faces at Red Bull are much brighter, after Dr Helmut Marko blamed a simulator error prior to Singapore for a weak performance.
“Sochi is our new Singapore,” beamed team boss Christian Horner.
The only issue is that if Max Verstappen continues to dominate and puts his Red Bull on pole, he will line up just sixth after taking a new Honda engine.
“We have the penalty but I’m not too worried,” Dutchman Verstappen said.
“If I had known how difficult Singapore would be, I would have preferred to have it there. But it’s only five places and you can overtake here.”
Horner agrees: “Our Honda engine now has the power of Mercedes and Renault. Only Ferrari stands out.”
Also happy in Russia is Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto, who said practice indicated that the team’s three-race winning form is no flash in the pan.
“We have now shown on a second track that our upgrade works,” he said. “(It works) on a lap and in the race, even if in general we are a bit stronger in qualifying.”
F1 Changes Starting in 2021 - After many months of discussions and deliberations, Formula 1’s ten teams have now agreed to the terms of the “Concorde Agreement” that binds them to the world championship for another five years.
This agreement is a contract between Formula 1, the FIA governing body and the teams which wish to compete in the F1 World Championship from 2021 to 2025 and defines how F1’s television revenues and prize money will be distributed.
Formula 1 bosses have been keen to build a strong foundation on which to secure the long-term future for the championship. As such a revolutionary new budget cap will be introduced next year, along with new technical regulations and a new set of sporting rules coming in 2022.
The Covid-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for everyone in 2020, and has served as another reminder that something needed to change. Once the championship restarted, so too could the commercial agreement talks.
By changing the way the prize money is distributed, it was inevitable that some teams would be happy – as they would receive a greater share – and others less so, as they would have a smaller slice.
But ultimately, as they have increasingly done in recent months, all the stakeholders found a way to come together and compromise on the document, which they agreed to in time for the early deadline of August 18th – which brought a small financial incentive.
With the 10 teams signed up for the next five years, and the regulations and cost cap defined, Formula 1 can finally embark on a new era. The new agreement also squashes any speculation that teams like Mercedes or Haas might not be around for the long term.
The hope now is that all F1 teams can develop themselves into robust operations financially while also closing the pack in terms of competitiveness that can in turn improve the racing spectacle.
Roll on 2021!