Vettel: Red Bull may be closer to Mercedes this weekend

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Sebastian Vettel was left feeling optimistic about Red Bull’s chances at this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix following practice today, believing that the team may be a step closer to Mercedes than it has been at recent races.

Mercedes has been the runaway team in the 2014 world championship, with title holders Red Bull failing to put up much of a fight. The RB10 car has been hindered by the troublesome Renault power unit, but Vettel feels that these issues are less noticeable in Hungary, although he does remain wary of the cars behind.

“I think we could be a little bit closer this weekend,” he explained. “At least today it looked a bit better, but then again we saw that people can make a big step from Friday to Saturday, particularly Williams, so we have to be careful.

“We hope we can do a big enough step to keep the pace of today, and to be able to use a little bit more power, but we’ll have to wait and see where we are.”

Vettel finished third in FP2 on Friday afternoon, and his long run pace suggests that he could finish as the best of the rest on Sunday behind the Mercedes drivers.

Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo was less comfortable, echoing Lewis Hamilton’s comments about the lack of grip at the Hungaroring today.

“To be honest we struggled quite a lot today trying to find the grip,” the Australian explained. “This circuit does tend to ramp up a lot over the weekend, this morning’s session the grip was really low for everyone and we saw a lot of people sliding.

“We thought we would find some more this afternoon but we didn’t quite evolve with the track, so we’ve got a bit of work to do tonight to understand that, but that’s what Friday’s are for, you learn, you try things and hopefully you put it all together Friday night in the best way for qualifying.”

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.”