F1 digest: Ricciardo makes ‘staggering’ contract demand
Australian driver reportedly wants £36m over two years amid rumours of a move to Ferrari or Mercedes
As the F1 circus rolls into Azerbaijan for this weekend’s Grand Prix, the future of Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo continues to dominate the headlines.
Last week Red Bull boss Christian Horner told the official F1 website that he thought the Australian would be happy to remain with his current team, but only if he was in a car that could win races regularly.
“I think Daniel’s happy in the [Red Bull] environment,” he said. “If we can give him a car like we did [in China], why would he want to be anywhere else?”
The answer may be money, according to the Daily Express. The paper says that “staggering” reports in Italy suggest that Ricciardo wants a “£36m, two-year contract at whichever team he ends up at next season”.
The 28-year-old will be out of contract at the end of this year. He’s said to be in negotiations with both Mercedes and Ferrari, but his contract demands could put them off. Ferrari currently pay Kimi Raikkonen (who would be the driver to make way) a mere £6.1m a year.
Hamilton wants to upset Ferrari
Another driver out of contract at the end of the year is world champion Lewis Hamilton. But he has made it clear that he sees his future with Mercedes and wants to be a thorn in the side of their rivals Ferrari.
“I want to be part of this journey where Mercedes are the most successful Formula One team in history,” he said. “I want to push it as far as I can, with the lifespan as a driver that I have... I think it would really upset the red cars and the red team, so that’s my goal.”
It’s an ambitious goal, says ESPN. “With 76 wins compared to Ferrari’s 231 and four constructors’ titles to Ferrari’s 16, it is unlikely Hamilton will make Mercedes the most successful team in F1 during his time in the sport. However, a fifth constructors’ title this year will bring Mercedes within one title of Ferrari’s record of six consecutive titles between 1999 and 2004.”
Mercedes boss predicts a legendary season
It hasn’t been a great start to the season for Mercedes, who have failed to win any of the first three grand Prix of the season. But team boss Toto Wolff says he’s relishing the challenge laid down by Ferrari and Red Bull this season.
According to Wolff, the 2018 season is set to have “the fastest F1 cars in history, driven by some of the best drivers this sport has seen.”
He adds: “So far, this year has all the ingredients for one of those legendary F1 seasons – a season that fans will look back on with smiles on their faces in years to come.”
Mercedes will have their part to play, says Sky Sports. “While Mercedes are yet to win this term, few in the paddock doubt their capacity to bounce back, or the potential of a W09 car which was formidably fast in Australia before losing performance relative to Ferrari and Red Bull in both Bahrain and China.”
Mystery Ferrari paddle prompts FIA warning
A third paddle has been spotted on Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel’s steering wheel that may have prompted a warning note to teams from the FIA ahead of this weekend’s race.
The paddle was seen after the German’s pole position lap at the Bahrain Grand Prix, reports Motorsport.com. It features on the right-hand side of the wheel, above the clutch and gearchange shifter.
“Ferrari has been tight-lipped on what the paddle is for, but it has denied early rumours that it is being used to alter engine map settings to help keep its exhaust blowing in corners when off-throttle.”
Nonetheless the intrigue may be behind a “fresh clampdown on trick engine modes”, says Autosport. The concern is that teams are using the exhaust to influence the car’s aerodynamics.
Nikolas Tombazis, the FIA’s head of single-seater technical matters, has warned teams: “We do not accept that engine modes specifically designed to increase the exhaust flow in corners are permissible.”