Ferrari “not discouraged” despite early season losses

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Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali says his team are not disheartened by the problems which have cost them points in the opening four rounds.

Domenicali said the team will “work with renewed attention” to address the reliability problem which affected Fernando Alonso’s race in Bahrain, when a stuck DRS flap forced him to make two pit stops.

“We must also continue to develop the car and increase our understanding of the tires, which is more crucial than ever this year,” Domenicali added.

“In these first four races of the season, we have not managed, for various reasons, to bring home the points that were within our grasp.”

“That’s why the gap to the top in both classifications seems quite large, but we must not be discouraged by this, quite the contrary, because we have seen so often, both in our favor and against, how things can change in a hurry. We believe in our ability to be in the fight for the titles right to the end and this time, we have been in that fight since the start, which has not been the case for a while.”

Four races into the season Ferrari are third in the constructors’ championship, 32 points behind leaders Red Bull. Alonso is 30 points behind Sebastian Vettel in the drivers’ championship.

Domenicali said to reduce the gaps Ferrari will “have to be perfect in every area”.

Hartley to make F1 debut from back of grid after penalty

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Brendon Hartley’s hopes of a points finish on his Formula 1 debut took a hit on Friday after the FIA confirmed the Toro Rosso driver will start the United States Grand Prix from the back of the grid due to an engine penalty.

Porsche factory driver and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Hartley was drafted in by Toro Rosso as a surprise replacement for Pierre Gasly in Austin, with the Frenchman tied up with Super Formula duties at Suzuka this weekend.

Hartley took to the track in an official grand prix session for the first time on Friday in Austin, marking his first run-out in an F1 car since a test with Mercedes in 20120.

However, FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer confirmed in his pre-race report that changes had been made to the power unit on Hartley’s Toro Rosso car since the last race in Japan, triggering a grid penalty.

Toro Rosso elected to take a new internal combustion engine, MGU-H, energy store and control electronics on Hartley’s Renault power unit, totaling a 25-place grid drop that will be applied after qualifying. Confirmation of the penalty is set to follow later today.

The penalty comes as a setback for Hartley, but was necessary as Toro Rosso found itself short on engine elements to get to the end of the season.

Hartley is not the only driver to have a penalty confirmed, with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne also taking new engine elements, also confirmed in Bauer’s report.

A new ICE, turbocharger and MGU-H for Hulkenberg will see him drop 20 places on the grid, while an eighth ICE of the year for Vandoorne will trigger a five-place drop.