Albers remains tight-lipped on Caterham driver line-up

1 Comment

Newly-appointed Caterham team principal Christijan Albers is remaining tight-lipped about his team’s driver line-up for the rest of the season, simply saying that “I want to see results.”

The team has endured a difficult start to the 2014 season, and remains rooted to the bottom of the constructors’ standings. After five seasons of trying, former owner Tony Fernandes threw in the towel last month and sold the outfit to a consortium made up of Swiss and Middle Eastern investors, with Albers becoming team principal.

There have been a number of changes in personnel over the past two weeks, and this was thought to possibly be extended to the current driver line-up of Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson. When asked about their future with the team, Albers remained coy.

“I want to see results,” he said. “That’s very important for every Formula 1 team.

“To be honest today I think they did a good job. We had some bad luck in the second practice, but they are sharp and we know we need performance and also of course, with a team as Caterham F1, we also always need a little bit of budget.”

Kobayashi is not thought to be bringing a huge amount of finance to the team, with his experience being the main lure for Caterham when he was signed. Therefore, if the team is in need of a bigger budget, a number of drivers could fit the bill in more ways than one.

Red Bull junior Carlos Sainz Jr. was rumored to be in the running for a seat with the team, given that the F1 weekends do not clash with his World Series by Renault commitments. Albers confirmed that they had spoken, but not necessarily about a seat for 2014.

“I have seen a lot of rumors in the press as usual in Formula 1,” he said. “At this moment, of coruse, we have seen Carlos and we have spoken to him also, but at this moment there is nothing done.

“The drivers are performing now, I was happy today, that’s the situation.”

Red Bull rising into the form expected when the season began

Getty Images
Leave a comment

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Young “Mad Max” Verstappen had plenty to be angry about for the first half of the Formula One season. After his breakout season in 2016, this year had been little more than a rash of retirements, crashes and clashes with other drivers.

But a late burst over the last two races delivered his second career victory and a second-place. Those results have Red Bull rising and looking more like the fast and muscular team it was expected to be.

Verstappen and teammate Daniel Ricciardo now look primed to keep pushing for the front over the final four races of 2017, starting this week at the U.S. Grand Prix. Do that and the prospects for a 2018 title fight grow brighter.

“We’re definitely going the way we need to be going,” Ricciardo said. “If we start on the front foot, I genuinely believe we can fight for the title if we start closer. That’s what we’re aiming for.”

Verstappen’s win in Malaysia demonstrated a perfect marriage of the young Dutchman’s driving skill and his improving car when he beat Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton with a head-to-head pass early. He was on the podium again a week later in Japan. The champagne spray at both races was a tasty but dry reminder that Red Bull wanted – and expected – so much more this season.

While Ricciardo has been a workhorse with nine podiums and one victory, Verstappen’s season was crippled by reliability issues with his car or crashes.

“There were so many races this year when he was in a fantastic position to achieve big results,” team principal Christian Horner said this week. “Credit to him that at such a young age he hasn’t let frustration boil over … when it comes right for him, it’s going to come right in a big way. And that’s exactly what happened in Malaysia. He drove a great race there, with no issues.”

Some of the “issues” created internal tension.

The first lap of the Hungarian Grand Prix was a disaster for Red Bull. Verstappen tried to overtake Ricciardo and hit him, knocking Ricciardo out of the race while Verstappen finished fifth. Ricciardo lashed out at Verstappen as “immature” and criticized the “amateur” maneuver.

Verstappen said he can’t think about what happened early in the season.

“That frustration I put behind me,” Verstappen said. “It happened. You can’t change it anymore. You’re just happy that it’s going well again and we had some good results.”

Ricciardo has carried Red Bull to the podium time and again but his broad smile hasn’t beamed from the top spot since Azerbaijan in June. Despite his run of strong finishes, he’s stuck at fourth in the driver’s standings and needs a boost to overtake Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas for third.

The Circuit of the Americas has been good for both Red Bull drivers in the past. Ricciardo finished third here in 2014 and 2016. Verstappen had an attention-getting drive in 2015 when he finished fourth in his Toro Rosso after sloshing his way through the field on a wet track.

Verstappen had a wild race in 2016 when he challenged for the lead early, came in for a pit stop when the crew wasn’t ready and yelled to his garage: “I’m not here to finish fourth!” He didn’t finish at all when his car was knocked out with a gearbox problem on lap 32.

Verstappen was 17 when he joined the F1 grid as the youngest driver in series history and he still jokes about his age. Austin is known for its live music and nightlife, but he’s limited as to how much he can party away from the track.

“I’m only 20. I can’t drink,” Verstappen said. “If I’m on the podium (Sunday) I won’t care.”