x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Vettel wants to see 'red' on the podium

Champion-elect driver leaves all guessing on possible move to Ferrari. Gary Meenaghan looks at pointers from the Italian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel's move to Ferrari is inevitable.

When the German revealed after winning Sunday's Italian Grand Prix that the only way the podium could have felt more special would be "to be wearing a red suit", he meant in regards to being the subject of adoration from Ferrari's mass of ever-enthusiastic tifosi.

Of course, that is not how it was interpreted by the Italian media and, inevitably, he was later asked whether this meant he dreamt of winning at Monza in a Prancing Horse. His answer, while respectful to Red Bull, left little in doubt.

"We will see what happens in the future, but for now I am very, very happy," he said. "I owe a lot to Red Bull. Without them, I wouldn't be here and it's very special for me to race for that team and be able to win races. But of course, one day you don't know what's happening. We will see."

In other words: I love Red Bull, but, yes, I want to race for Ferrari.

 

Jenson Button deserves his lifelong contract.

Martin Whitmarsh confirmed this weekend that Button will remain at McLaren-Mercedes for not only next year, but until the 2009 world champion decides to retire. Such a display of appreciation is precisely the recognition the 31-year-old Englishman deserves after some of the performances Button - particularly this season - has provided since joining the marque in 2010.

Button's drive at Monaco this year was fabulous, but his performance two weeks later in Montreal will live even longer in the memory. It was a fantastic, daring, gripping display that encapsulated the sport perfectly. The King of the Wet reclaimed his crown.

Fortunately, Button is as smooth in character as he is in driving style, and he provides McLaren with the perfect foil to Lewis Hamilton. Whitmarsh is desperate to retain the services of the latter, and knows he could do far worse than ensure Hamilton is paired with a teammate with whom he enjoys a close friendship.

Button's deal is a win-win for everybody, including the sport.

 

Home drivers/teams face too much pressure.

David Coulthard, the former F1 driver, suggested recently that the commitments put on drivers racing in their home grand prix was detrimental to their performance.

The Italian Grand Prix was the eighth race of the season that had either a driver or a team competing in their home race, yet none have been won by the crowd favourite.

At Silverstone, the McLaren drivers criticised the amount of promotional work they had to do, while this week Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa understatedly said they were "a little busier here than on some other races". It is hardly surprising then that Ferrari could not replicate last year's success.

Formula One is a growing sport with international interest and a long calendar. Drivers need to be able to rest and focus; not be dragged to the opening of an envelope for the sake of sponsors.

 

Bruno Senna is more than a mere marketing tool.

When Eric Boullier, the Renault team principal, was asked what Senna brought to the team, his response was not what they recommend in Motivational Speeches 101. "Nothing," Boullier replied.

Senna, the nephew of the late, great Ayrton, has in fact been a protagonist in Renault announcing two new Brazilian sponsor deals - with Embratel and OGX - but on the track he is proving more than capable since replacing Nick Heidfeld last month.

The 27 year old finished ninth at Monza, securing the first points of his career and returning the famous Senna name to the top 10 for the first time since 1993. If he can maintain such form going into the last six races of the season, Renault will have a tough decision when Robert Kubica, the injured Polish driver, is ready to return.

 

Abu Dhabi factory move not viable for Toro Rosso.

Franz Tost, the team principal of the Italian manufacturers, told The National that stories linking them with a takeover from Abu Dhabi were wide of the mark. He also dismissed talk that the team were readying to relocate their factory to Yas Marina as "fanciful".

While attracting Toro Rosso to the Emirates would be a huge coup for the capital, it would be a tough task to operate an entire team from 5,500km away from "Motorsports Valley" in England.

Every race but one would be a flyaway, and transporting parts and staff and all the other logistical issues that every team faces would be magnified.

Besides, the team's current ageing base in Faenza is undergoing upgrades and expansion. To give all that up would require not only serious consideration, but also serious money.

 

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

 


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