Hamilton needs more time to judge upgrades

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Lewis Hamilton is looking forward to FP3 tomorrow as he gets to grips with the upgrades for his Mercedes W04, with the first two practice sessions today giving him some mixed results.

Although the 2008 world champion said that he could feel a positive change, he was still not entirely pleased with how the car felt in the dry conditions of FP2.

“The team have done a great job to bring our upgrades here this weekend and whilst I could feel the impact immediately, it’s difficult to quantify how much of an improvement has been made at this early stage,” Hamilton said in a team statement. “After the first session this morning, I felt there was some good promise and the car was well-balanced but I was a little less happy in the different conditions this afternoon.

Like many, Hamilton was anticipating a late night in order to make sense of the data collected.

“We’ll keep working on it tonight and see if we can make tomorrow a little better.”

Team principal Ross Brawn was focusing on improving the long run pace of the W04, and particularly its tire management. In Bahrain, Nico Rosberg suffered from great degradation on his rear tires, causing him to drop to 9th come the checkered flag despite starting on pole.

“The car seems to be quite good on low fuel as we know,” Brawn said. “Tire degradation is going to be a key consideration over the weekend and we must remain focused to ensure that we get the best possible performance from the car in the race. That’s our priority.”

Mercedes will be chasing a third consecutive pole position in Spain this weekend, but they are yet to repeat their pre-season pace at the Circuit de Catalunya so far in practice.

Daniel Ricciardo to decide soon about moving from Red Bull to another F1 team

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LE CASTELLET, France (AP) Daniel Ricciardo says over the next six weeks he wants to decide between staying at Red Bull or joining another Formula One team for next year.

Ricciardo said on Thursday at the French Grand Prix, “It would be nice to go on the summer break knowing what I am doing.”

F1 is working its way toward its three-week break in August with speculation mounting that Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren are interested in luring Ricciardo away from Red Bull for 2019.

“I will be honest, everyone is talking about Mercedes and Ferrari as potential places for me to go, and I am aware that there will be interest from other teams,” he said.

The Australian driver has won seven races in his four-plus seasons with Red Bull. He is fourth in the standings behind leader Sebastian Vettel heading into the race at the Paul Ricard Circuit near Marseille.

Ricciardo’s stock has risen in recent months after his victories in Shanghai and Monaco. His Monaco win was particularly impressive because Ricciardo had to deploy some masterful defensive driving to protect his lead after losing an estimated 25 percent of his engine power.

Ricciardo said he had not directly spoken to rivals Ferrari and Mercedes, but he hedged when asked if his manager had.

“People talk, have coffees, I will leave that one open-ended,” he said with a laugh.

Ricciardo called the decision on whether to go or stay with Red Bull the biggest choice of his career following his decision to leave his native Australia and continue his racing career in Europe over a decade ago.

“For sure the priority is to get a car to win the world title because I really believe I can,” he said. “I am slightly careful because it is easy to think the grass is greener and maybe it is, but I also have it pretty good where I am.

“People do like a change but just to make change for the sake of making a change is not enough for me. I need to find some substance behind it to jump ship.”

Red Bull announced recently it would be ending its 12-year partnership with engine-maker Renault and switching to Honda motors for next year.

Ricciardo was hesitant to endorse or criticize the change, saying he was going to “try to keep putting the pieces together if it is a good move.”

But with the question of the engine manufacturer out of the way, Ricciardo said Red Bull would likely be looking to resolve its drivers’ lineup for next year.

“I haven’t been pushed yet, but I would say that there will be some movement in the next week,” he said. “Whether that is something that gets put down on paper (or not), for sure the discussions will start to ramp up in the next few days.”