Grosjean not expecting to challenge for points at Spa

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Lotus driver Romain Grosjean does not believe that he will be fighting for points in the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend, but felt that his practice runs went better than he was expecting on Friday at Spa.

The French driver finished 13th in the first free practice session and 14th in FP2, but conceded in a media session on Friday evening that the lack of power in the Renault engine is proving particularly costly at Spa.

“It was not as bad as I was expecting in FP1,” Grosjean said. “We had a small technical issue on the rear of the car early on in the run, so hopefully that will explain the loss of performance. We knew it would be a track where we suffer.”

When asked to predict how he would fare during qualifying and the race, the Lotus driver said that under normal conditions he expects to be scrapping outside of the points.

“At the moment, I wouldn’t say that the top ten is possible,” he admitted. “Probably inbetween 12th and 15th, 16th.

“But again, the weather may change and that always helps you a little bit when you’re struggling.”

Grosjean’s teammate, Pastor Maldonado, also endured a difficult practice on Friday, culminating in a huge crash at the beginning of FP2. However, he was more optimistic than Grosjean when it came to gauging Lotus’ chances of points.

“The car looks, to be honest, not too bad,” he said. “Let’s do our best tomorrow. I think still we have a good chance to be close to the top ten, and then in the race, everything can happen.”

‘Still quite early’ for Ricciardo to think about Red Bull F1 future

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Daniel Ricciardo feels it is “still quite early” to make a decision about his Red Bull Formula 1 future despite seeing teammate Max Verstappen announce on Friday he would be staying with the team until 2020.

Verstappen, 20, put pen to paper on an enhanced F1 contract with Red Bull, with his previous deal due to expire at the end of next season in parallel to Ricciardo’s own agreement.

Ricciardo was asked following practice on Friday why he is yet to strike a new deal for himself with Red Bull, and explained he is in no rush to make a final decision when he has over a year to run on his current contract.

“It’s not that I’ve said no to anything. It’s just still quite early I think,” Ricciardo explained.

“People talked a little bit about contracts and the silly season for next year, but I thought that would still happen next year. It’s still quite early.

“If I’m to try and extract some positives out of his news it’s that it gives us good confidence for next year. He and his management see a lot of positives in the team to continue like that.

“I’m 100 per cent here next year, I can at least say that, and I think it gives both of us confidence that we’ll keep progressing the way we are.”

Red Bull said upon announcing Verstappen’s new deal that it wants to “build a team around him”, with the 20-year-old standing out as a once-in-a-generation talent.

The focus surrounding Verstappen has not left Ricciardo feeling as though he is in the shade or in any way playing second-fiddle to the Dutchman, stressing he has no internal concerns at Red Bull.

“For sure, as far as media goes, he certainly gets a lot of attention. He’s broken records for his age and things like that, so rightly so,” Ricciardo said.

“Take the media out of it, as far as inside the team, new parts on the car, things like this, there’s always been parity and equality.”

Verstappen is only the third driver to commit to a deal beyond the end of next season, following Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari and Fernando Alonso at McLaren on multi-year contracts.

All 10 F1 teams have at least one free seat for 2019, making Ricciardo a possible candidate for seats with either Mercedes or Ferrari were he to consider a move away from Red Bull.

Speaking to British broadcaster Sky Sports, Red Bull F1 advisor Helmut Marko said he felt Ricciardo was “putting himself on the market” by waiting to make a decision on his future, but that talks would take place when possible.