Today Toto Wolff, Cyril Abiteboul, Otmar Szafnauer and Mario Isola answered journalists’ questions.
Toto Wolff from Mercedes was asked about actual topic that is Ocon’s possibility to stay in the championship. Toto said the team is continuing work on it.
“We are still working on the alternatives, the remaining alternatives. I don’t expect there to be any news in the next week. We need to see how it all plans out at Williams and what we plan to do with Esteban long term and come up with a decision”.
Friday practices were mixed for Mercedes drivers. In FP1 Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas finished on 3rd and 4th places, but in FP2 took the first row. Friday isn’t right time to make some conclusions, and Toto Wolff doesn’t think his team is a main favourite of the Russian stage.
“I never see ourselves as favourites. We were beaten in qualifying last year and Valtteri had a really brilliant started, towed the Ferrari and went into the lead. And how the season has been going this year, first of all, there is no patterns any more, and I don’t want to put us in a favourite position, let’s see where we are tomorrow after qualifying”.
Artem Markelov drove the Renault car in the first practice session, replacing Carlos Sainz. The team’s principal Cyril Abiteboul rated his performance as a very good job.
“I think he’s done a very good job this morning. He didn’t make any mistakes, first and foremost and we had a number of new parts on the car, so we would not have wanted to lose those parts, obviously. Good also on the procedures, and God knows there is a lot in terms of engine, aero test and so on. In pace, he was very decent, more than decent, I should say. Eight-tenths off Nico, obviously who’s got a great track record of being able to extract maximum performance, in little bit by degradation of the tyres. That’s an area where he needs to work and learn – but I guess an interesting referential point for his future hopefully”.
Pirelli racing manager Mario Isola told about compounds and strategic options at Sochi track for Sunday race.
“We decided to nominate the hypersoft here because it’s a smooth track but with some characteristics you need traction, especially for sector three, you need a strong tyre, especially the front for turn three, that is a very demanding corner. Then it is up to them to find the right setup of the car to preserve the tyres. We know that it is an aggressive choice, same choice as Singapore but with completely different characteristics of the circuit. Therefore, I can imagen they will manage the tyres during the race. This is something that is happening since the beginning of the year. It’s a sort of reaction from the teams to our decision to go softer and with more degrading tyres, and we will see. This morning I believe was not really representative, considering that we had a lot of track evolution – so probably in the afternoon we have a better picture of delta performance and the level of degradation”, - said Isola.
Also, Isola told about Pirelli tests at Paul Ricard, and said the tyres with the new construction for 2019 will be provide at the tests in Abu Dhabi.
“The test was very good. We had Ferrari, Mercedes and we were able to complete all the program, so the construction is now decided, so we are supplying all the data for the new construction to the teams by the 1st of October – that is the deadline. We are working on some fine tuning of the compounds, because the target for next year is to nominate five compounds. We will provide all five compounds with the new construction in Abu Dhabi at the test that is planned after the race, similar to last year, to give the teams the opportunity to have an idea of the 2019 product”.