Sebastian Vettel may have endured a difficult start to the 2014 Formula 1 season, but the German driver is still feeling positive heading to next weekend’s British Grand Prix.
Silverstone has proven to be a happy hunting ground for Red Bull over the past five years, with its drivers winning the race three times. The event is also an important one for the team given that the track is not far from its factory in Milton Keynes.
“I always like going to Silverstone, the track is incredible to drive and the British crowd that turns out to watch the weekend is always massive,” Vettel said in the team’s grand prix preview. “Whether it’s wet or dry everyone always looks like they are having a really good time.”
The race will be the second of three ‘home’ rounds for the team. Last weekend’s race in Austria was the team’s official home race, given that owner Dietrich Mateschitz is Austrian, and the race after Silverstone – the German Grand Prix – is Vettel’s.
“It’s a busy time right now, we had Red Bull’s home race in Austria, the Team’s local event here and then we go to my home race in Germany!” he said. “This race has an extra element as it’s so close to the factory and a lot of the staff who work so hard on the car will be watching from the grandstands with their families – I hope we can get a good result for them.
“As the factory is only about half an hour or so from the track a lot of the race team live nearby and can sleep in their own beds for the weekend which surely is a nice thing for them.
“I have good memories of Silverstone, the best must be winning there in 2009 and Mark [Webber] won there in 2010 and 2012 so we have a good record at the track.”
Vettel’s poor title defence only continued in Austria as he retired when a lap down on the field. For the rest of 2014, a return to the top step of the podium must be the aim for the German driver, but it may take a huge slice of luck for him to follow in teammate Daniel Ricciardo’s footsteps.
With action pretty much limited in both practice sessions due to the diesel spillage in free practice one and rain in free practice two for the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, teams could only do limited wet-weather runs.
Williams Martini Racing tried to make the best of the circumstances, as one of only five teams that completed laps in FP2 (McLaren, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Ferrari) with eight cars.
Felipe Massa led second practice but it was an essentially meaningless session.
“It was quite a stunted session today which stopped us from completing all of the work we wanted to,” said Rob Smedley, Williams’ head of vehicle performance. “We had planned to run in the wet but we had a strange situation this afternoon in that half of the circuit was much wetter than the other half which made most of the tests null and void.
“We have been working on the wet set-up of the car and so wanted to get out at the end of FP2 to see the progress we have made. In a similar vein to our low speed corner work in Singapore, we seem to be making progress. We got through all of the bits and pieces we wanted to get through in terms of control systems and power unit set-up, and we have to go into tomorrow with a good plan for FP3 to get the car set-up for qualifying and the race.”
Valtteri Bottas finished third in Sochi a year ago, while Massa seeks a rebound after a fuel flow issue in qualifying resigned him to a Q1 elimination and an 11th place finish.
Three weeks after announcing his retirement from motorsport, Johnny Cecotto Jr. will return to racing this weekend at the GP2 round in Sochi, Russia.
Cecotto said on Twitter that “today my career ends” on September 17, announcing that he had lost his backing provided by the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
However, the GP2 veteran will return to racing this weekend with Trident, having last raced for the Italian team at Monza one month ago. He will partner Ferrari junior driver Raffaele Marciello once again.
Cecotto’s return is just one of a number of driver/team stories heading into the GP2 race weekend at Sochi:
- American driver Alexander Rossi returns to GP2 with Racing Engineering this weekend following his two-race stint in F1 with Manor. He will also take part in grands prix in the USA, Mexico and Brazil before returning to GP2 once again in Abu Dhabi.
- Julian Leal has announced his retirement from GP2, and is replaced by debutant Dean Stoneman at Carlin. Stoneman won at Sochi in GP3 last year en route to second place in the championship.S
- Sean Gelael will race for Carlin once again, having missed the round at Monza due to a Formula Renault 3.5 clash.
- Nicholas Latifi returns to GP2 this weekend with MP Motorsport, racing alongside Rene Binder.
- Nathanael Berthon also returns, racing for Team Lazarus.
- Hilmer Motorsport will miss the round in Sochi altogether, reducing the grid down to 24 cars.