Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix 2018

Formula One: 'Blame me' for Ferrari's failings, says team principal Maurizio Arrivabene

Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari during last night's second practice session for the Singapore Grand Prix. He completed only 11 laps after his car bounced off a wall, breaking a hydraulic pipe and damaging his right rear and front wheels. Team-mate Kimi R
Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari during last night's second practice session for the Singapore Grand Prix. He completed only 11 laps after his car bounced off a wall, breaking a hydraulic pipe and damaging his right rear and front wheels. Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen posted the fastest lap.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Team principal Arrivabene says errors are common in F1 while he's excited over Leclerc

Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene launched a staunch defence of his four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel yesterday and also took the blame for his team's struggles.

Vettel has come under fire this season for several errors, the latest at Monza two weeks ago. He started the Italy race second - behind team-mate and pole-sitter Kimi Raikkonen - and had the chance to cut into Lewis Hamilton's 17-point championship lead.

Instead, the title contenders collided in the opening lap of Ferrari's home grand prix, and the German finished fourth behind his rival, who took the chequered flag to extend his lead to 30 points.

Arrivabene, 61, said: "In Formula One, everyone is making mistakes, it's just a matter of whether they are bigger or smaller ones.

"If in Monza, I was pointing my finger at Sebastian... then the rest may think it's their turn the next time. It's not what I want.

"I accept any criticism because in 31/2 years I haven't won anything, but it has to be in good faith."

The Italian was also adamant his trust in 20-year-old rookie Charles Leclerc will be repaid in the long term. The Prancing Horse will replace former world champion Raikkonen, who is 38, with the Sauber driver next season.

Arrivabene said: "When I signed Charles for the Ferrari driver academy, we have already designed and committed his future in Formula One... and I hope he is going to continue his career with us, at least until 2022 for sure.

 
 

"But the first mistake will be to put too much pressure on his shoulders."

The bold destiny of the sport was also glimpsed yesterday, as F1 managing director for motor sports Ross Brawn officially unveiled its concept cars for 2021 and beyond.

The former Mercedes team principal and former Ferrari technical director said that the aesthetics of the future car were important because "we want cars young people want to stick up on their walls".

But the Briton added that the "raceability" of the cars was also vital to the project he has worked on for the past year, during which he consulted drivers.

Brawn, 63, said: "Currently, when you are two or three car lengths away (from the car in front) you lose about 50 per cent of your performance... but with our designs at the moment you maintain about 80 per cent of the performance."

The three concepts shown include elements such as 18-inch wheels and partial shields over the rear wheels, which improve the airflow and performance for trailing cars, and thus enable more "battles" between drivers.

Responding to an earlier, leaked picture of the concept car, Hamilton said on Instagram: "I'm definitely going to be driving if cars look like this... just please bring a V12 or V10 (engine) back."

Not all were impressed. Arrivabene said: "I was asking our engineers what they thought, they said it was a bit underwhelming."

F1 SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2018, with the headline ''Blame me' for Ferrari's failings'. Print Edition | Subscribe