Alberto Antonini, formerly a prominent Italian journalist, was the head of Scuderia Ferrari’s Formula 1 press office until earlier this year. Now, Alberto Antonini has reembraced his first love by returning to journalism.
In an interview for formulapassion.it, the former head of Scuderia Ferrari’s Formula 1 press office talks about Formula One future ideas like reintroducing “F1 customer” car suppliers:
“I’m well aware that my idea is a provocation. But if Formula One wanted to do something and not just shout ‘someone do something’, the first, most obvious solution would be to convince (or maybe force) the only real three teams left to sell their projects. Not those of last year, so it’s not fair, the most recent, perhaps in a simplified version.
[…] I’ll give you just one example, just one. Ask 80-year-old Jackie Stewart how he won his first world title. Tyrrell, if I’m not mistaken, had entered F1 the year before. For a few seasons the car ran on Matra chassis, so as a ‘customer’. No one was offended. March and Lotus sold their single-seaters. Not to mention the Benetton-Ligier of the ’90s, even if then there already existed the rules of intellectual property. Today this is forbidden. But does it seem more dignified to you that for years the Caterham has made the Caterham, that is the appearance, despite having a Renault-Red Bull rear axle? Who needs such a presence on the track? Think about it: immediate reduction in costs and personnel, without even needing to control budgets. And competitiveness guaranteed.” – Alberto Antonini explained, as reported by the Italian media earlier today.
In the space of less than a week, we go directly from one of the longer laps on the F1 calendar (in France) to the shortest, in terms of overall lap time, in Austria: the first back-to-back of the season. One laps of the Red Bull Ring takes only just over a minute to cover, and with the fastest-ever lap there set in qualifying last year (1m03.130s) we could see the benchmark lowered even further this weekend. Pirelli is bringing the C2 as the white hard tyre, C3 as the yellow medium, and C4 as the red soft choice in Austria.
The Red Bull Ring, which returned in the F1 calendar in 2014 in its current guise, consists of 4,318 metres of up and down smooth asphalt in the Styrian mountains. The first two sectors are quite fast whereas the final sector is slower and more technical.
Traction and braking are the main characteristics of the Red Bull Ring, with corners linked by a series of brief straights. As the lap is so short, traffic is often an issue.
While the weather should be warm in summer, the circuit’s proximity to the Northern Styrian Alps increases the possibility of rain or more variable weather. However, last year was hot with track temperatures close to 40 degrees centigrade.
Historically, this has normally been a one-stop race with relatively low levels of tyre wear and degradation. Last year, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won with a one-stop supersoft-soft strategy, but different variations of a one-stopper were seen throughout the top 10. Outside the top 10, some drivers stopped twice.
Most of the corners are right-hand turns, but the two most demanding corners in terms of energy through the tyres are left-handers. Consequently, the loaded tyres go into them almost cold, as they are not otherwise worked hard during the lap. A key to extracting the best lap time will be to maximise the performance of those tyres.
MARIO ISOLA – HEAD OF F1 AND CAR RACING
“Like last year, we have exactly the same nomination for Austria as we had for France, with the races again separated by only one week, at the same time of year. The difference is that the 2019 compounds are more evenly spaced, which should encourage more varied pit stop strategies and better racing. Austria is an unusual track, with lots of blind corners and unpredictable elements such as weather and traffic. This means that plenty of confidence, as well as exactly the right set-up, is needed to get the best out of the tyres on this short track and maximise all the different opportunities that present themselves; also in terms of strategy. Spielberg is a circuit where we have always had some blisters in the past; we are confident that we will see a difference this weekend with the 2019-specification tyre”.
OTHER PIRELLI NEWS
Pirelli remains in Austria for another private test following the grand prix, with Alfa Romeo running one car to test prototype 2020 Formula 1 slick tyres on Tuesday and Wednesday after the race.
The six drivers from the three top teams have all made different tyre choices from each other: a relatively unusual occurrence, which could lead to some interesting battles and tactics.
Pirelli tackles the legendary Pikes Peak hillclimb in Colorado, USA, on the same day as the Austrian Grand Prix, targeting a new production car world record with the Bentley Continental GT driven by Rhys Millen.
Scuderia Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto confirmed that the Italian side’s floor upgrade, which was tested during the first free practice sessions for the 2019 French Grand Prix, did not work as expected and as a result was removed from the car before qualifying at the Paul Ricard circuit on Saturday. Mattia Binotto admitted the team expected Paul Ricard would be a difficult circuit for them but said he was disappointed their upgrade package had not worked as expected:
“We were expecting a difficult race weekend here in Paul Ricard” – Mattia said Binotto after the team’s cars finished third and fifth. “We said it’s a circuit that could be very similar to Barcelona in some respects and if you look at last year we were as poor in Ricard as we were in Barcelona. So I think in that respect we improved a bit, not yet sufficiently, but we were not expecting to close the gap at all here in Ricard. We brought some upgrades, some of them work well, others not. We removed the floor from the car after Friday practice. It’s always a shame when something are not working so we’ve got some homework to do in that respect. But that’s ensuring that we’ve got some margin to improve the car so at least the direction that we are starting to set is the right one. [There’s] still much to do but overall I think that you cannot say [it was] a positive weekend but I think not too bad as well considering initial expectations.” – he added.
Scuderia Ferrari did run its revised front wing, rear and and front brake ducts. Mattia Binotto indicated there were other upgrades not visible on the car’s surface: “I don’t think we got all the answers from this weekend because the floor not working properly [is] a lack of answers,” he admitted. “So we will still work on that one. I think we’ll have some test items again in Austria, try to better understand. I think we will fully understand only when all the parts properly work as expected.”
The race weekend provided further evidence that the team needs to trade off straight-line speed for aerodynamic performance, said Mattia Binotto: ” We are looking for eventually more downforce to the detriment of the speed. I believe the car will not be too efficient but giving more downforce to get the tyres working. That will be the direction to go. I think again here on Saturday we’ve seen how difficult it is to make the tyres work. That’s something on which we are focused on.” – the Scuderia Ferrari Team Principal concluded.
Scuderia Ferrari Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc admitted that he was surprised to suddenly catch Valtteri Bottas in the final laps of the French Grand Prix. The Maranello team’s driver closed in quickly on his Mercedes rival over the final laps and even had a speculative look up the inside of Bottas at the final corner:
“I was catching quite quickly at the end,” said Charles Leclerc. “The car felt pretty good. I had paid quite a lot of attention to both axles of tyres before and I was just focusing on the end of the race, to have the tyres in quite a good shape and I think on that we did quite a good job. To be honest though I did not expect to catch Valtteri.” – he explained at the end of the 2019 French Grand Prix.
Charles Leclerc was eight seconds behind Bottas with eight laps to go but started the final lap within DRS range of the Mercedes: “It was a good surprise and when I saw that I pushed even more,” he said. “At the end we finished very, very close. I tried to show myself in the inside of the last corner, but obviously I was too far [away] to try something.”
The Monegasque driver confirmed that he was pleased with his performance at the Paul Ricard circuit, but at the same time admitted that for the Maranello team there is still a lot of work to do: “I believe hard work always pays off and I feel we proved that this weekend. Now we go straight to Austria where I hope we can maintain this same good form. But clearly Mercedes are quite better for now, so we need to work and to try to catch up and close the gap.” – Charles Leclerc concluded.
Former Scuderia Ferrari boss Jean Todt insists the health condition of Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher is still “very private”.
Michael Schumacher, now 50, has not been seen publicly since he fell while skiing with his son Mick in the French Alps just after Christmas in 2013.
It is believed he has severe and lasting brain injuries, but only a very close circle of family and friends have any actual knowledge about the great German’s state.
One of those very close friends is his former Ferrari boss, current FIA president Todt.
“It’s a very private thing,” – Jean Todt said in France, as he atended the Grand Prix which took place at the Paul Ricard circuit last weekend.
“Michael is very well surrounded, living with his family in his house between Geneva and Lausanne,” the Frenchman told RMC Sport. – “He continues to fight. That’s the only thing I can say today.” – the former Scuderia Ferrari boss addee.
Watched on by Jean Todt, 20-year-old Mick Schumacher raced in the Formula 2 support race at the Paul Ricard circuit. The Ferrari Academy driver is currently 15th overall in the championship.