Vettel: Room for improvement following practice

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Sebastian Vettel has conceded that there is room for improvement after finishing second in both practice sessions ahead of the Korean Grand Prix this weekend.

Vettel has dominated the past three grands prix, winning the last race in Singapore by over half a minute. Therefore, finishing second to Lewis Hamilton in both FP1 and FP2 came as something of a surprise, and the German driver admitted that there was still some time to be found.

“There is some room for improvement,” Vettel said. “It will be close with Mercedes; of course we’re not sure what others were doing with their fuel loads today, but it seems close ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying.”

Red Bull and Mercedes locked out the top four positions in both sessions on Friday as Ferrari and Lotus struggled to put up any sort of challenge. In the second practice session, less than two-tenths covered Hamilton, Vettel, Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber. For Webber, his challenge will be even greater thanks to a ten-place grid penalty he received in Singapore for picking up three reprimands for the stewards.

“We need to work on the balance,” Webber said. “It’s more about understanding the tires again and getting those working as well as possible. We need to work on both the short and long run balance, as obviously I’m going to be out of position after qualifying.”

Brown: Dennis would have made same decision on McLaren-Honda split

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Zak Brown believes former McLaren team boss Ron Dennis would have made the same decision to cut ties with struggling Formula 1 engine partner Honda had he still been in charge at the team in 2017.

McLaren executive director Brown helped engineer a deal for the team to split with Honda at the end of the 2017 season after three tough seasons that had seen the Japanese manufacturer offer little in the way of performance or reliability.

The decision split opinion, with McLaren spurning a significant annual financial injection from Honda in order to link up with Renault, believing its on-track fortunes had to be prioritized over its commercial interests.

In an interview with Sky Sports, Brown was asked if he believed Dennis – McLaren’s long-running team chief before stepping down at the end of 2016 – would have made the same decision to cut ties with Honda.

“I think he would have,” Brown said.

“He was here when those conversations were ongoing and I think Ron always has and always will have the best interests of McLaren in his heart.

“He is Mr. McLaren. It burns him inside as much as us not to see us winning races.”

Brown also elaborated on the decision to break off the much-lauded relationship with Honda, saying the first signs of trouble with the 2017 power unit were clear in pre-season.

After a number of attempts to try and rectify the situation, Brown and his fellow team bosses felt there was no alternative but to end the Honda deal for 2018.

“We knew we were in trouble in testing in Barcelona and we worked really hard for six months to try and find solutions that would give us confidence that we’d be much more competitive in 2018,” Brown said.

“Ultimately, after trying many different things and many different ways we felt we couldn’t get there.

“Three years is a long time in Formula 1 and so we needed to change the direction to get our team back at the top.”