Photo: Getty Images

Formula 1: Recapping the past week’s news

Leave a comment

With the FIA Formula 1 World Championship a week away from opening its 2018 season at the Australian Grand Prix, news from F1 this past week quieted down somewhat, as teams regroup following two weeks of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

However, a few F1 items were in the news this past week for varying reasons. A recap of noteworthy headlines is below.

Hamilton Still Negotiating New Mercedes Contract

 

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – NOVEMBER 26: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP on the drivers parade before the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 26, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has had ongoing negotiations with Mercedes AMG Petronas to return to the team after his current contract expires at the end of the 2018 season, but a new contract has not yet been signed, leading some circles to believe that there might be a rift between the two sides.

However, Hamilton rebuffed such sentiment this week.

“I’m really super relaxed, I don’t feel pressure from the team, I don’t feel pressure within myself,” Hamilton said in a story posted on the Express, an outlet based in London. “I want to continue racing so I’ll have to do a contract at some stage but I’m definitely not going to do it when people want me to do it.”

Hamilton enters 2018 once again as a championship favorite.

Jean Todt Expresses Optimism About 2021 Rules

SOCHI, RUSSIA – OCTOBER 10: FIA President Jean Todt arrives for a FIA press briefing regarding the Japanese Grand Prix after practice ahead of the Russian Formula One Grand Prix at Sochi Autodrom on October 10, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

As discussions about the 2021 technical regulations continue, a pervasive feeling is that teams want a deal finalized sooner rather than later, possibly as soon as midway through the 2018 season.

While hitting that target is certainly a tall task, Jean Todt did express optimism that a deal can be reached over the next several months.

“I am optimistic that we will be able to find a solution,” he said in a piece posted on Crash.com. “I think we need to be fair to the investments which have been done in Formula 1. Clearly we don’t want to use anybody as a whole or anybody as an engine supplier.”

However, Todt also acknowledged that there is still a long way to go before an agreement is reached.

“It’s a work in process. We are just starting the 2018 Formula 1 season and we are now also working on the 2021 regulations,” he explained. “Clearly – and it’s something I’ve instructed our people – I think it would be very unfair to destroy all of what has been done on the engine to start with a completely white piece of paper.”

Todt added, “So for me it is essential that we optimize what has been developed, what is known. We know that technology is progressing very much. Not only on complication but also on simplification, so the whole idea is to work on what are the engine rules now and make them better.”

 

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – NOVEMBER 26: Valtteri Bottas driving the (77) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO8 lead Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO8 into turn one at the start during the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 26, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

A new procedure for 2018 is the introduction of standing restarts following red flags.

Some drivers, such as Haas F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean, have voiced concerns about the new policy, citing that a lack of heat in the tires could wreak havoc once racing resumed.

However, race director Charlie Whiting does not believe that will be the case.

“I’m not too concerned about that. I think the grip was quite low in Barcelona anyway. They didn’t put new tyres on, did they? Because it was a quick procedure. I’m not overly concerned about that,” he said in a story on Crash.com.

Follow@KyleMLavigne

Could Scott Dixon someday break Foyt, Andretti wins and championships records?

IndyCar
2 Comments

With five races left in the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season, Scott Dixon is in the driver’s seat to potentially earn a fifth career IndyCar championship.

After winning Sunday at Toronto, Dixon now has a 62-point edge over second-ranked and defending series champ Josef Newgarden and a 70-point lead over third-ranked Alexander Rossi.

The triumph north of the border was Dixon’s third there, as well as his 44th career IndyCar win, third-highest in IndyCar annals.

Add in the four IndyCar championships and those are stellar numbers indeed.

What makes things all the more amazing is Dixon has done all that in under 18 full seasons on the IndyCar circuit. Heck, he’s only 37 years old, too (although he turns 38 on July 22).

Dixon’s championships have come in 2003 (his first full season in IndyCar after two prior seasons in CART/Champ Car), 2008, 2013 and most recently in 2015.

The quiet, unassuming New Zealander has been one of the most successful drivers ever not just in IndyCar, but in all forms of motorsports.

When his name is mentioned, it’s typically included with the only two drivers who have more career wins than he does: A.J. Foyt (67 wins and seven championships, both records) and Mario Andretti (52 wins and four titles).

That’s a pretty lofty pair to be part of.

One might think that after all the success he’s had, Dixon could easily walk away from IndyCar and Chip Ganassi Racing and enjoy an early retirement.

But competing in and winning races isn’t really a job for Dixon. He enjoys what he’s doing so much that he easily could keep doing what he’s doing – and at a high level – for another seven or more years, at least.

So, can Dixon catch Mario and A.J.? The former would be easier than the latter, for sure.

Numerically, it’s possible – at least part of it:

* Dixon can easily be competitive into his mid-40s.

* He’s averaged three-plus wins every season since 2007 (37 wins from then through Sunday). That means if he can keep that average going, he could reach 24 more wins – to overtake Foyt – by 2026. Yes, that may be a stretch to even imagine, but if there’s any current driver who potentially could overtake Foyt, it’s Dixon.

* Dixon already has three wins this season, and with five more races still to go, he could easily win another one, two or maybe even three more in 2018 as he continues his road to the championship. And let’s not forget that with each additional win, that’s one win closer to overtaking Andretti and Foyt.

In his usual modest and humble manner, Dixon downplays not just talk comparing him with Andretti and Foyt, but also overtaking one or both.

“I think A.J. is pretty safe,” he said. “He’s a long ways ahead. … Eight (championships) is an infinity away. Takes a long time to get eight.”

But that doesn’t mean Dixon can’t keep working at approaching Foyt’s mark.

“I think for us, we take it race by race,” he said. “We’re in the business of winning races. If we’re not doing that, I won’t have a job for too long. That’s the focus for right now.”

If he wins the championship this year, he’ll pass Andretti’s championship mark. That would be one record down, three to go.

And if he can win nine more races over the next few seasons, he’ll pass Andretti’s 52 career wins, making it two records down and two more to go.

“Right now with 44 wins, next on the list is Mario I think at 52 or something,” Dixon said after Sunday’s win. “We’ll see how it goes. Right now, we’re just trying to get the job done for the team.”

And he’s doing a darn good job at that indeed – with likely even more success still to come.

Follow @JerryBonkowski