Alonso hails “step forward” by Ferrari in Germany

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Fernando Alonso believes that Ferrari have made a step forward in Germany despite qualifying down in 8th for tomorrow’s race at the Nurburgring.

The Spanish driver, who has won twice before at this circuit, was pleased to see an improvement from the pace that was on display at Silverstone where he benefited from his rival’s poor luck to reach the podium.

“Well I think we did a step forward this race,” Alonso said after qualifying today. “There’s no doubt that we’re more competitive than we were at Silverstone. We were 1.5 seconds off the pace in Silverstone in practice and in qualifying one and two which was not the case today.

“The team did a step forward and we’ve gone back to a more normal level of competitiveness.”

However, Alonso still admitted that there was a need to improve if Ferrari were to challenge Red Bull for both the drivers and constructors’ championships.

“We need to improve, yes, no questions about that, we were not the quickest before, especially on Saturdays. We’re at least more confident and optimistic for tomorrow because the car is performing in a more normal way.”

Ferrari opted to put Alonso on the medium compound tire for the final stage of qualifying, costing him a chance at pole position in favor of a longer first stint in the race tomorrow. Alongside Felipe Massa, he had ran strongly in the first two sessions today, but he admitted that this was purely due to tire usage, not raw pace.

“The pace was just a coincidence. We were the only top team to use the soft tire in Q1 so we were top, and then in Q2 when we put the second new set of softs you maximize the grip level and we were 1:29.9 which is our representative timed lap, and the other teams they were doing just the first set of softs at the time.”

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”