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Daniel Ricciardo set for boost, Lewis Hamilton slams Pirelli tyres, Red Bull flexi wing, Mercedes

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After struggles at the first three races, McLaren F1 boss Andreas Seidl said Daniel Ricciardo’s teething issues at the team were being exaggerated by low-grip circuits.

It’s perhaps little surprise then that races at low-grip street races, Monaco and Azerbaijan, delivered Ricciardo’s worst results of the season on paper.

The Australian was 12th in Monaco and snuck up to ninth in Baku, with some help from late spins from Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.

Scroll down for what we learnt from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix!

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Better times could be ahead for Ricciardo.
Better times could be ahead for Ricciardo.Source: Getty Images

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FREAK TWIST CAN’T MASK ANOTHER DANIEL RICCIARDO FAILURE

F1 CHAOS AS ‘UNACCEPTABLE’ FARCE, BRUTAL LATE CRASH SETS UP FINISH NO ONE SAW COMING

‘COULD HAVE LOST HIS LIFE’: F1 BLAME GAME EXPLODES AS FURIOUS DRIVERS REVOLT OVER ‘HORRENDOUS’ FAILURE

Meanwhile, teammate Lando Norris came third and fifth, creating the biggest points gap between the drivers since teaming up this year.

Experience and past successes at Monaco and Azerbaijan — he won at both tracks for Red Bull in 2018 and 2017 respectively — were thought to be of some help to Ricciardo’s acclimatisation process at McLaren.

But sub-par showings at both events, including a crash in qualifying at Baku, have proven just how gruelling that process is.

It’s clear that McLaren’s cars need to be driven in a particular way, while Ricciardo has a trademark style under braking that, so far, hasn’t been compatible.

That gap between how the McLaren wants to be driven and how Ricciardo wants to drive it has only been exacerbated by tricky assignments at the past two races.

In theory, Ricciardo now heads into a friendlier stretch with the French, Styrian, Austrian and British Grands Prix all boasting flowing layouts.

Two of those races — Styria and Austria — will be held at the Red Bull Ring, where two races were held last year, too.

That familiarity should boost Ricciardo’s chances — he was strongest this year in Spain where he’s logged countless laps during pre-season testing.

He’s also working hard in the simulator, which he said was proving to be productive before the Azerbaijan GP.

“It was really just trying to take a step back and understand what’s going on and how the car works and what needs to be done to get the car working well,” he said.

“Certainly some things now do seem more clear to me, and I think it was really productive to do that.

“I’m just looking forward to putting that in play now on track.”

‘FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM’ A STAIN ON MODERN F1

Perez claims wild GP victory! | 03:41

After sudden punctures to Verstappen and Lance Stroll, and after a large cut was found in one of Lewis Hamilton’s tyres, Pirelli’s performance as F1’s sole tyre provider is squarely back in focus.

Since becoming F1’s exclusive provider in 2011, Pirelli has been under pressure to deliver a tyre that can withstand wheel-to-wheel racing, but degrade enough to make two-stop strategies occasionally viable.

Pirelli has never convincingly delivered, and is now under fire for what’s being labelled an “unacceptable” failure in Baku.

Verstappen was four laps from victory when his left-rear blew out at about 320km/h, moments after the same happened to Stroll.

“It’s not acceptable,” Paul di Resta said on Sky Sports, noting that the drivers “don’t like the tyres”.

Verstappen predicted Pirelli would blame debris, adding that the excuse is “a bit hard to accept”.

Sure enough, Pirelli boss Mario Isola was swiftly on the defensive, saying: “I believe I can exclude that failures were due to tyre wear, because it’s not a matter of tyre wear…

“I don’t want to give any preliminary conclusions. But it seems that it is a cut due to debris, because as I said, it’s not the most stressed tyre.”

The issue now is that Pirelli isn’t under any meaningful pressure to provide a valid explanation given it is contracted to be F1’s sole supplier until 2023.

Hamilton recently told Speedweek that Pirelli, however, has long been making a “fundamental” error.

The solution could be to go back to having competing tyre suppliers, Hamilton said.

“We drivers constantly complain that these tires are overheating. We can’t attack constantly, and from my point of view that’s the basis for better sport,” Hamilton told the publication.

“Pirelli is guilty of a fundamental problem. These cars are getting heavier.

“When we had several tire manufacturers in Formula 1 at the time, the racing cars were considerably lighter. But the companies spurred each other on. Today this incentive is missing because we have a sole supplier. It’s only us drivers who put pressure today.”

HAMILTON SHOCKS WITH SLOPPY ERROR

Lewis Hamilton made a surprising rookie error in Baku.Source: Getty Images

Hamilton was ruthless in the first four races of the season, capitalising on errors from Red Bull to seal three wins and another podium.

It’s hard to believe the same driver could only qualify, and finish, seventh at the Monaco Grand Prix and fail to claim any points in Azerbaijan.

In Monaco, Hamilton was at a loss for words to explain why he suddenly was so much slower.

That race could have just been a small blip on the radar of a long season but, on Sunday, Hamilton was guilty of doing something he never does: Compounding an error.

The seven-time world champion had another race win at his mercy after Verstappen’s late puncture.

But at the restart, Hamilton made a surprisingly rookie error by accidentally flicking a “magic” switch that effectively left him without brakes at Turn One.

“Did I leave the magic on? I could have sworn I turned that off,” Hamilton said as he went off, and ended up finishing 15th.

He later added: “On the restart, I think when Checo (Perez) moved over towards me I clipped a switch and it basically switches the brakes off so I just went straight.

“I had no idea that I’d even touched it.”

The result ensured that Verstappen would stay in the championship lead by four points heading into the French Grand Prix.

Miller gets on podium in Barcelona | 01:13

WOLFF VS HORNER SET TO EXPLODE   

A bubbling spat between Mercedes and Red Bull bosses Toto Wolff and Christian Horner could reach boiling point at the next race as the FIA introduces new testing procedures.

Red Bull has been feeling the heat amid claims — chiefly from Mercedes — that its rear wing breaches technical regulations by flexing at high speeds.

Meanwhile, Horner believes Mercedes is guilty of double standards, suggesting the team’s front wing should also come under the microscope.

“If you’re picking on one end of the car you have to look at the other,” Horner said on Sky Sports after qualifying. “Sometimes you’ve got to be a little bit careful what you wish for.”

“I think if I was Toto with the front wing he’s got on his car, I’d keep my mouth shut.”

In response, Wolff said: “Christian is a bit of a windbag who wants to be on camera.

“It’s about being punchy. It’s easy to be punchy when you are on top of the time sheet, but you should be a little bit more modest I think.”

The time for the war of words, however, is drawing to a close with the FIA set to introduce new wing flexibility tests ahead of the French Grand Prix.

The Red Bull design will therefore be rigorously tested under new procedures and either Horner, or Wolff, will be validated.

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How much did Max Verstappen’s crash cost Red Bull, British GP

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Red Bull boss Christian Horner said Friday his team has been left with a bill for a whopping AUD$1.8 million to repair the damage to Max Verstappen’s car after the controversial collision with Lewis Hamilton at the British Grand Prix.

Verstappen and seven-time world champion Hamilton clashed on the opening lap of last weekend’s race at Silverstone.

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The Dutchman was forced to retire and undergo a six-hour hospital check-up while Hamilton took victory to revive his title hopes.

“That crash has cost us approximately $1.8 million and an accident like that has massive ramifications in a budget cap era,” Horner wrote in a column on the team’s official website.

Horner was not happy with how Mercedes celebrated the win at Silverstone.Source: AFP

Horner also criticised Hamilton for his celebrations on the podium, a display already blasted as “disrespectful and unsportsmanlike” by Verstappen.

Even though Hamilton was handed a 10-second penalty, his victory allowed him to slash Verstappen’s lead in the championship from 33 points to just eight.

“I am also still disappointed about the level of celebrations enjoyed in the wake of the accident,” added Horner.

“The Mercedes team were aware of the gravity of the crash, with Max widely reported as having been hospitalised and requiring further checks.

“It is unimaginable not to inform your driver of the situation, moreover to protect your driver in case they do not show the necessary restraint in celebrating, particularly when it was as a result of an incident he was penalised for.”

Horner continued his criticism of Hamilton for his role in the first-lap crash.

“The reality is that Hamilton has met his match in a car that is now competitive, and I agree that both drivers need to show each other respect, but Hamilton was the aggressor on Sunday,” he wrote.

Hamilton celebrated a win on home soil.Source: AFP

“I also felt the narrative that Max was being ‘overly aggressive’ was unjustified.

“You only have to look at the fact Max has zero penalty points on his licence and has not been found guilty of any on-track misjudgements in recent years.”

Hamilton and Verstappen will renew their rivalry at the Hungarian Grand Prix next weekend.

Horner added: “I spoke to Max on Monday morning and he felt like he’d done a few rounds with (heavyweight boxer) Tyson Fury.

“He was battered and bruised but feeling lucky and grateful to the medical team, as we all are, and in true Max style he was already trying to put it out of his mind and look ahead to Hungary.”

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Max Verstappen crash, evidence, Lewis Hamilton, British Grand Prix, Red Bull, Mercedes, update

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In a new twist, Formula 1 expert Martin Brundle has revealed Red Bull believes it has the data to prove Lewis Hamilton entered Copse corner on the first lap faster than any other during the Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen accused seven-time world champion Hamilton of being “dangerous, disrespectful and unsportsmanlike” following their collision at Silverstone on Sunday.

Red Bull’s Verstappen had to retire from the race while Hamilton went on to win, slashing the Dutchman’s lead in the championship from 33 points to just eight.

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Hamilton nudges Max for home GP win! | 03:07

“Red Bull felt it was a professional foul, an intentional accident from Hamilton,” Brundle wrote in his post-race Sky Sports F1 column.

“They were incandescent, their potential world champion was bruised, their car expensively wrecked in this new cost cap era, and with possible grid penalties to come from any engine and ancillary damage.

“They would score zero points from the race and both championship leads would be seriously eroded. I am told by Red Bull there is data to prove Lewis was significantly faster into Copse than at any other time and he would not have made the corner without running wide, and inevitably contacting Max.

“Presumably, that will be made publicly available and if Red Bull feel they have ‘new evidence’ they may well make an appeal to the FIA as to their perceived degree of fault and leniency regarding Hamilton.”

Verstappen wins first ever sprint race | 01:04

Mercedes, meanwhile, insisted Lewis Hamilton’s controversial first-lap move on world championship rival Max Verstappen at the British Grand Prix was “absolutely in line with the overtaking guide”.

“As far as we are concerned, the manoeuvre that took place, the manoeuvre that Lewis did, was absolutely in line with the FIA’s overtaking guide,” said Mercedes technical chief James Allison.

Hamilton was penalised 10 seconds for the incident.

“Lewis definitely was substantially alongside. He had his front axle well beyond the midpoint of Verstappen’s car,” added Allison.

“It requires you are substantially alongside and it requires that you must be able to make the corner. By make the corner it means go round the corner and not leave the track or lose control of the car. Those are the things you need to satisfy.

“If you can go round the corner, if you are substantially alongside the other car then the corner is yours.” He added: “I did feel that it was harsh to get the penalty.

“This is about what are the rules to do with overtaking and I didn’t see that Lewis did anything wrong with respect to those rules.”

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F1 British Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, racially abused, Twitter, Instagram, latest news

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Lewis Hamilton was the victim of “multiple instances of racist abuse on social media” during and after his controversial win in the British Grand Prix, according to a joint statement by Formula One, the FIA and his Mercedes team.

The seven-time world champion was involved early on in an incident that saw championship leader Max Verstappen plough his Red Bull into a wall and out of the race.

Hamilton was hit by a 10 second penalty but went on to win the race and close the gap in the title race to just eight points.

“During, and after, yesterday’s British Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton was subjected to multiple instances of racist abuse on social media following an in-race collision,” they said in a joint statement condemning the behaviour “in the strongest possible terms”.

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“These people have no place in our sport and we urge that those responsible should be held accountable for their actions.

“Formula 1, the FIA, the drivers and the teams are working to build a more diverse and inclusive sport, and such unacceptable instances of online abuse must be highlighted and eliminated.”

Daniel Ricciardo also hit out at the racism Hamilton has received in light of the incident, saying: “I’ve seen some of the remarks aimed at Lewis after yesterday. No matter what happens on track there is absolutely zero place for racism and hate. We have to be better than this.”

Verstappen, who was taken to hospital for checks after the race, later accused Hamilton of “disrespectful and unsportsmanlike behaviour”.

A public supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, Hamilton gave his support a week ago to the England footballers Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho who were also abused after they missed penalties in the Euro 2020 final.

“I hope this opens a conversation around acceptance,” he wrote on Instagram at the time.

“We must work towards a society that doesn’t require Black players to prove their value or place in society only through victory.”

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