In the round-up: Aston Martin’s performance director Tom McCullough admits the possibility of losing the only practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix is a concern for his team.
Risk of rain a concern for Spa practice
The Belgian Grand Prix is a sprint race weekend, meaning there is only one, hour-long practice session before qualifying. If that session is wet and subsequent sessions are dry, teams will face especially difficult set-up choices on the track which has many high-speed corners.
“At Spa obviously the biggest concern for us is a wet free practice one, which often happens there over the years,” McCullough told media including RaceFans in Hungary. “We’re going a bit earlier this year, before the August break.”
Setting up the car without a representative practice session would be difficult, said McCullough, especially given the new tyres introduced two races ago at Silverstone.
“You’re going to rely a lot on your simulation tools. We’re still learning with these tyres. You’re going to go straight into a weekend when you commit to your low-fuel, high-fuel, wet set-up all with one session at a pretty unique track,” he said.
However he believes Aston Martin are “in a reasonable shape – we’ve got some more updates coming.”
The official FIA weather forecast currently indicates an 80% chance of rain on Friday. Any teams who make significant set-up changes to their cars after Friday’s qualifying session will have to start the sprint race and grand prix from the pit lane.
Ricciardo reveals Alonso chat behind F1 break
Daniel Ricciardo, who returned to F1 with AlphaTauri at last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix after Nyck de Vries lost his seat, says a conversation with Fernando Alonso a few years ago made him feel more ready for what he expected to be a full year out of racing after leaving McLaren at the end of 2022.
“I certainly just kind of reset myself and I feel energised again,” he told media including RaceFans.
“Actually I remember having a conversation with Fernando maybe two years ago now, and I wasn’t thinking of taking a break, but we were just having a chat on a flight somewhere. He said the break for him was one of the best things he ever did.
“That got me thinking, maybe if I ever feel I need it, then not to be too scared of it. And then I think seeing the year he’s had, that also filled me with some confidence.
“So I’m really glad to have been put in this position and come back feeling everything normal again: The grid, the start, the emotion, adrenaline, enjoyed it all.”
Haas unsure when to prioritise 2024 car – Steiner
Haas team principal Guenther Steiner admits the team has taken a step backwards since the season began and are unsure over how best to make progress. “We had a good start to the season again, but we’ve fallen back a bit as we haven’t got as much out of our car compared to other teams,” he said.
“The positives are that we now have Nico [Hulkenberg] in the team, which has been a big help to get all the performance out and he’s working really hard to keep the team motivated and to push, he also fits in fantastically.”
But, Steiner conceded, “the most important thing we don’t bring home is points.” They are eighth in the standings at the halfway point in the season.
“Because of how mixed-up the teams are getting and how close it is, it’s hard to come to a definitive conclusion on whether an update works,” Steiner explained. “Our upgrade was small as we all know. What it promised to do, it did, but it just wasn’t enough.
“Upgrades for this season will also be implemented on next year’s car and that’s why we’ve decided to continue with this year’s car development to really understand our problems and where we need to put effort into making the car better for next year. Right now, we’re developing both cars in parallel, and we don’t really know yet when we switch over only to 2024.”
Red Bull juniors cool on AlphaTauri prospects
Red Bull-backed Formula 2 drivers Dennis Hauger and Ayumu Iwasa say they aren’t entertaining expectations of promotion to Formula 1 next year despite recent driver moves at AlphaTauri.
“For us, we’re focused on our season and the job with the team in F2, to do the best we can,” said Hauger. “We’re not involved in that situation, that’s not in our area at the moment.”
Iwasa said his only priority is “to do a good season in F2. Otherwise if I don’t have enough results in F2, enough performance, for sure I will not get opportunity to be in Formula 1.
“I’m just trying to do my best, and also I’m trying to be better with the team and also in the Red Bull programme. I’m trying to improve my performance as much as I can. I think that will be the most important in this season.”