Published: Sat, May 13, 2017
Medical | By Sammy Miller

Vettel, noncommittal on Mercedes switch suggestions

Vettel, noncommittal on Mercedes switch suggestions

Ferrari and Mercedes may be the front-runners again, but Red Bull expect to be close in pursuit with a heavily-updated vehicle while local hero Fernando Alonso has more modest hopes.

Bottas joined the Silver Arrows from Williams at the end of last season after Nico Rosberg's shock decision to retire after winning the world championship.

One possible reason for the eye-catching new features could be Hamilton's apparent lack of pace in the Russian Grand Prix, during which he struggled to get his tires up to temperature - something that will be helped by the extra force from the wings. Red Bull is thought to be bringing further updates throughout the weekend, so judging the success of the so-called B-spec RB13 on FP1 pace alone would probably be a bit premature. Just two weeks earlier, Bottas had been asked to move aside for Hamilton at the Bahrain Grand Prix but Hamilton has no doubt his teammate can mount a title challenge this season.

Niki Lauda has said that Mercedes have work to do to catch up with Ferrari. "The small margins we are seeing this season are demonstrated by the closeness at the top of the drivers' championship and even more so by the one-point advantage we have in the constructors'". It seemed like I had to wait a long time!

But that will surely change, with the flow of upgrades set to speed up now that teams are closer to their factories, and Red Bull have some big chassis modifications in the pipeline and engine improvements still to come.

Mercedes rolled out on Friday with a radical slim-line nose on its upgraded auto, while Red Bull appeared to have cut the gap to Ferrari with its own B-spec vehicle in FP2.

Wolff said Mercedes has to get used to this new scenario after dominating the series for the last three seasons.

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Haas are set to maintain their Brembo brakes package after a trial of the Carbone Industrie variety to satisfy Romain Grosjean, who hass felt a great imbalance in braking since joining the American team in their first campaign previous year.

Nico Rosberg, victor of the first four races in 2016, won the title last season with Mercedes, while Hamilton won the previous two championships.

"As always we will work hard to find any performance".

"I think coming into this weekend we have a good understanding what went wrong on our side of the garage", Hamilton said.

Reports have emerged from Italy that Vettel, 29, has already held discussions with Mercedes' non-executive chairman Niki Lauda to partner Hamilton next year. People bring some bits, but if you look at the last 10 years, it's not anymore a fixed date where you bring a new auto.

Mercedes has introduced a raft of upgrades for the first European round of the 2017 F1 season, including a more tapered nose, a re-designed shark "fin" and a "scooped duct".

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