Vettel: Gap to Mercedes hasn’t changed since Australia

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Sebastian Vettel has said that Red Bull needs to make bigger gains with the RB10 car if it is to even begin to cut the gap to Mercedes at the front of the field.

Red Bull’s defence of its world championships has been very tame, whilst Mercedes has taken advantage of the new regulations to forge ahead at the front of the field with almost double the points of any other team.

Despite appearing to make up some ground over the first half of the season, Vettel feels that Red Bull is just as far behind the German marque now as it was in March, and is unsure whether the gap can be made up before the beginning of next season.

“It’s difficult to say right now,” Vettel said when asked about catching Mercedes for 2015. “The gap is very big and we didn’t really close the gap since race one.

“We have tried lots of things to improve but they do the same thing. We need bigger steps of development to close the gap even more. I think at the end of the season we can judge a little better what we need to do during the winter.”

The likely banning of FRIC suspension systems for the German Grand Prix could dent Mercedes’ advantage, but Vettel is unconcerned about the change at Red Bull should it go ahead.

“We know what we are running but we don’t know what they are running,” he said. “It’s pretty clear what the FIA has said and probably some teams will be more affected than other teams.”

Williams’ Valtteri Bottas also suggested that Mercedes of all teams will be affected, saying: “Maybe some teams could be more affected than us I would say. We’ll see, I don’t really know what’s going to happen.

“What will be the decision, I think we’ll be okay with it. I don’t think it’s going to be key to the season or anything like that.”

Vettel will be hoping to return to form at his home race in Germany next weekend, but barring a double failure for Mercedes like we saw in Canada, his hopes of securing back-to-back home wins appear to be slim.

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.