Vettel challenges Ferrari claims over contract decision

Sebastian Vettel has challenged Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto’s claim that the COVID-19 crisis was the trigger for the change of philosophy that led to his contract not being renewed.

Binotto said ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix that while Vettel’s was Ferrari’s first choice, the pandemic led the Maranello squad to change its preferences.

“I think the virus and pandemic situation, which changed the entire world, not only our motorsport, our F1,” he said.

“The budget cap has been changed by quite a lot, and is a lot more strict, the regulations have been postponed from ’21 to ’22, which somehow was something important for us.

“So during the shutdown as Ferrari we had to eventually reconsider our position.” 

When questioned for the first time on Ferrari’s decision to drop him for 2021, Vettel revealed last week that the news came in a “surprise” phone call from Binotto.

“Yes, that’s what I said,” Vettel told ServusTV when asked to clarify. “I think that the last five years haven’t brought what I think was the goal from both sides. Still, I think that it would have been an option to continue and work on the goal in any case.

“And that had been communicated in the same way. I was told that we want to continue. Until I got a phone call out of nowhere, when I was told that there would be no offer, that there would be no future.

“That surprised me at first. The conditions with corona and so on – I don’t want to harp on it now, but I don’t think they’ll be that decisive.

“There were also some reports that we could not agree on the financial aspects. So that was not an issue at all and would not have been an issue.

“If you have been in Formula 1 for so long and you’ve been lucky enough to be so successful and on the other hand gain a certain independence, that would certainly not have been an obstacle, which is why it was surprising.

“But well, the decision as it is, I don’t have a problem with it and I accept it as it is, but I’m still trying to do my job this year and do a better job than yesterday and do the best for the team to bring this to a good end.”

Vettel insisted that his future remain plans remain open, but he made it clear that he wants to continue to race in the right environment.

“Honestly, I haven’t made a decision yet, and I don’t know yet for myself either. What’s important, of course, is to find an environment that fits. I have enjoyed the last five years very much in many respects, but the last five years have also taken a lot of energy.

“The goal at that time was to rebuild the team. And certainly both sides have tried everything. But at the end of the day we failed on both sides, because the title didn’t come. That was the big goal. Now this is a new situation for me. It will be important for me to find something that is good for me and fun. I think that is a very important thing.

“As I mentioned earlier, the financial aspect is not at all in the foreground. And of course I am still very ambitious, motorsport is my life. I don’t know any other way, except the last three months it’s been a little different.

“But I wouldn’t really want to miss it. With the right job and the right place I would still feel very much at home in a Formula 1 car. I think the next few weeks, months, will shed light – also for myself – on what is possible, and what I want to do.”

Vettel said that he made contact with Red Bull’s Helmut Marko immediately after he received the call from Binotto.

“I called him right after the decision, but not to ask, ‘Helmut, do you have a place?’, but because I get along very well with him and he has been a confidant for years.

“I asked him for advice. I described the situation to him as it is. He’s known for putting his heart on his sleeve. And then I spoke to him. What will come out in the end remains to be seen. The talks in this regard are of my own making.”

Asked about the option of Mercedes, he suggested that it was unlikely that the Brackley team would have a seat for him.

“I think that the team, as it is currently driving, is very happy and is doing very well. The last few years prove that right. I can understand that they want to stick with it. No decision has been made in this respect yet. In theory, both places are still free. But is clear that Lewis can stay if he wants to. And the same goes, after yesterday, for Valtteri.”

He conceded that there were three options, namely to find a seat for 2021, take a year out and return in 2022, or stop for good.

“I think you have to – at least that’s how my head works – I think if you make the decision to close the door, you shouldn’t make it in such a way that you have the hope to open it again. Unless it is clear from the outset.

“I believe that you must then be ready for yourself to be ready to keep the door closed. In other words: if it does not open, for whatever reason, then one should not regret the decision.”


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Motocrew cuts down BMW Motorrad's K100RS –

At its essence, a motorcycle is two wheels, engine and a frame, with suspension which is pretty much what German outfit Motocrew has reduced BMW Motorrad’s K100RS sports-tourer down to. For those who might not know, the K100RS was BMW Motorrad’s first foray outside its traditional boxer-twin layout.

When released in 1984, BMW Motorrad fans were… divided. The purists, much like the Harley-Davidson fans when the VRSC with its Porsche developed DOCH, liquid-cooled Revolution V-twin was released, howled and bayed for blood, saying the “character” of the brand was diminished.

Needless to say, due to the machinations of the stubborn and unyielding, Harley-Davidson was left in a technological vacuum for 25 years. BMW Motorrad, however, didn’t, doing well with it’s inline four cylinder as installed in the S-series motorcycles, while also having in its motorcycle engine range an inline-six, parallel-twin, single-cylinder and retaining its best selling boxer-twin.

Coming back to the K100RS molested by Motocrew, the team felt the K100RS, because of its sport-touring origins, was a little portly in the back, reports To that end, the rear sub-frame was hacked off, replaced with a cafe racer tail, tying the frame line, painted in white, to the bottom of the fuel tank.

A pair of vanes, also in white, fill in the gap at the front end of the tank, a function formerly performed by the K100RS’ front fairing. Adopting the cafe racer design style, the headlight is a single, round, LED unit, in keeping with the overall retro theme.

The longitudinal inline-four, resting on its side and dubbed the “Flying Brick” by aficionados, is not coated a satin black, as are all components below the fuel. The original K100RS airbag was dumped in favour of a diminutive DNA air filter while new exhaust headers lead into a SC Project CR-T exhaust.

If you’re looking for the front turn signals, they’re there and practically invisible. Motocrew relocated the turn signals to the bar ends, where the wing mirrors are located while the rear turn signals are located inside the frame rails.

MotoGadget supplies the minimalist speedometer and bluetooth-enabled mo.unit blue controller allowing for keyless start of the Motocrew K100RS. Tokico brake callipers axial-mounted on upside-down forks completes the K100RS build.

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Mark Webber: Carlos Sainz stepping into a very hot kitchen

Mark Webber admits he was surprised that Ferrari opted to sign Carlos Sainz instead of Daniel Ricciardo as Sebastian Vettel’s 2021 replacement.

Vettel is leaving Ferrari at the end of this season after the Scuderia decided not to renew his contract.

That came as a shock to many, especially Vettel given that Ferrari had been telling him and everyone else that he was the number one pick to partner Charles Leclerc in next year’s championship.

The surprises didn’t stop there.

48 hours after confirming Vettel’s exit, Ferrari announced that McLaren driver Sainz would be the one replacing the four-time World Champion.

That too was a shock as it was widely believes that Ricciardo was the favourite to take the Ferrari seat.

The Aussie had been linked to Ferrari several times during his Formula 1 career and publicly stated that it would be a dream move.

Instead he’s off to McLaren to replace the Ferrari-bound Sainz.

The new F1 2020 game is out on July 10! Pre-order now for PS4, Xbox One and PC

His compatriot Webber is “surprised” by the decision and feels Sainz could have a tough time of things when he races in red.

“I was actually surprised,” the former F1 driver said via Channel 4.

“Daniel was the obvious answer on all of our lips to go into that role in terms of his credibility, race wins and being out of contract.

“There was a chance I thought that might happen.

“Carlos is very statesmanlike and professional. I think he fits the brand well and I’m cool with that but I feel like he is going to go into a very hot kitchen.

“Driving there in the future is going to be a pretty tough gig for him and Charles, obviously, is world class.

“So yeah…bit surprised but Formula 1 is full of those.”

He’s not the only one.

Another former F1 driver, David Coulthard, believes Ricciardo would have been a better option for Ferrari as he would have pushed the Scuderia to improve.

“I agree with Mark,” Coulthard added.

“Daniel was the more obvious choice for Ferrari in that he has got those race victories and got Italian descent.

“I just think he [Daniel] is more elbows out [than Carlos].

“He is known for loving his kickboxing and they [Ferrari] need to get their ass kicked there and get themselves back in shape.”

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Sebastian Vettel scoffs at Binotto's coronavirus excuse

Sebastian Vettel doesn’t believe Mattia Binotto’s claims the pandemic forced Ferrari to change their 2021 driver plans, saying it was “not” a factor.

Earlier this year Vettel and Ferrari announced that 2020 would be the German’s final season racing in red.

Stating that the two no longer had a “common desire” to work together, Ferrari later confirmed Carlos Sainz as Vettel’s replacement.

Vettel has since spilled the beans on his Ferrari exit, revealing that while he thought he would be staying with the team for 2021, he was never offered a contract with team boss Binotto instead informing him he was not longer wanted.

Asked about Ferrari’s decision to change its 2021 driver plans, Binotto told the media that the coronavirus pandemic had forced a rethink.

“Certainly we have always said during the winter, privately to him, and publicly, that he would have been our first choice, which I confirmed,” said the Italian.

“What happened since then, with the virus and pandemic situation which changed the entire world, not only motorsport in F1.

“The budget cap has been changed, it is a lot more strict, the regulations have been postponed from 2021 to 2022, which is important to us.

“During the shutdown we had to consider our position and we took a decision, that is our decision and our responsibility and we communicated it to him.”

Vettel has rubbished Binotto’s claim about the pandemic and finances playing a role in his exit, reiterating that money would never have been a factor in his decision to continue with Ferrari.

“The conditions with coronavirus are not so decisive there,” he said in an interview with ServusTV.

“There were also partial reports that we could not agree on the financial. That was not an issue at all and wouldn’t have been.”

The four-time World Champion confirmed that he believed, given what Ferrari had been saying, that he would continue with the team in 2021.

“I still thought it would have been an option to continue with Ferrari,” he said. “It was communicated like that.

“I was told they wanted to continue together.

“Then out of nowhere, I got a phone call, in which I was told that there won’t be any offer and no future together.”

Despite Ferrari’s decision and the manner in which it was carried out, Vettel has vowed to give his all in his final races with the Scuderia.

He concedes it didn’t work out that way at the season-opening Austrian GP when he spun but says he will do better in the coming races.

“I’ll accept the decision and have no problem with it,” he added.

“Despite that I will continue to fulfil my task and unlike last weekend, do a better job for the team and have a satisfactory closure.”

As for his future, the 33-year-old is still weighing up his options which reportedly include Renault and Aston Martin.

“I haven’t made a decision yet,” he revealed. “I don’t know.

“It’s important to find an environment that suits me. For me it’s important for me is to find something that gives me joy.

“The financial part is not important.”

One option, though, that is off is the table is Mercedes.

The Brackley team has all but confirmed Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas for next season.

Asked about his chances of heading to Mercedes, Vettel said: “I am informed about the situation at Mercedes

“I think Mercedes is very satisfied with how they drive at the moment. I can understand that they want to hold on to it.

“The driver decision hasn’t been made yet, but it’s obvious if Lewis wants to continue, they will and with Bottas after such a weekend it’s the same.”

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Car Reviews

2021 Skoda Octavia vRS Mk4 gets new 2.0 TSI, 2.0 TDI engines – sportier looks, full range of safety systems –

The fourth-generation Skoda Octavia line-up has grown once more, with the sporty Octavia vRS receiving two additional powertrain options. Prior to this, the vRS was available as a 245 PS/350 Nm plug-in hybrid, with propulsion coming from an electrified 1.4 litre TSI engine.

But those who want the more traditional vRS experience can now choose between a 2.0 litre four-cylinder TSI or 2.0 litre four-cylinder TDI engines. To start, the 2.0 TSI makes 245 PS (same as the PHEV) and comes with a six-speed manual as standard, while the seven-speed direct shift gearbox (DSG) is optional.

The 2.0 turbodiesel, on the other hand, delivers 200 PS and 400 Nm of torque, and gets a seven-speed DSG as standard. It’s also the only variant here to get the optional all-wheel drive system. The 0-100 km/h sprint is done in 7.1 seconds, and the top speed is 235 km/h. No performance figures have been released for the 245 PS TSI variant, though.

Standard on both variants are progressive steering system and vRS sports suspension, the latter reducing ride height by 15 mm. For a more dynamic performance, there’s the optional Dynamic Chassis Control that offers parametric changes to suspension, damping and steering characteristics depending on the chosen drive mode.

Being a vRS, both new models get numerous black accents on the exterior, such as the radiator grille surrounds, diffuser, air curtains, wing mirror caps and window frames. Also standard are model-exclusive front and rear bumpers, 18-inch alloys (upgradable to 19-inch units), and full LED Matrix headlights.

The cabin gets a similarly sporty treatment, featuring a redesigned three-spoke leather-wrapped sports steering wheel, knurled dials, front sport seats with integrated head restraints (Alcantara upholstery is optional), vRS badging, as well as red or grey contrast stitching. Carbon-fibre inlays on the dashboard further amplifies the sense of sportiness.

For safety, vRS variants get a rather comprehensive suite of safety systems, which include autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, predictive cruise control (works from zero to 210 km/h), blind spot monitoring with exit warning, and Travel Assist system that combines traffic sign recognition, lane assist, traffic jam assist and emergency assist. Collision avoidance assist (with steering correction) and turn assist (detects oncoming traffic when turning at a junction) are available, too.

According to the Czech Republican automaker, vRS variants account for more than 20% of the models sold in Germany, the UK, and Switzerland. Skoda compact model boss, František Drábek said: “No matter which drive concept you opt for as an Octavia vRS enthusiast, Skoda’s vRS models deliver exactly what you would expect: they combine the performance that has been cherished by customers for decades and supreme everyday practicality. All three drive systems are convincing with their consistent power delivery and excellent fuel consumption, and showcase the latest technology in impressive style.”

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Car Reviews

Ford shows off 2021 Bronco 'Built Wild' family – three models to kick off the new 'outdoor lifestyle brand' –

Ford has shared family photos of its new Bronco range for the first time. Actually, it’s more than a range. Ford is calling Bronco a new outdoor lifestyle brand, the off-road equivalent to Mustang (both logos feature horses). They’re going for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Jeep brand with this sub-brand, that’s for sure.

The “Built Wild” SUVs that build on the “1966 Bronco DNA and racing heritage” – to be revealed on July 13 across Disney network channels National Geographic, ESPN and ABC in the US – are the Bronco two-door, first-ever Bronco four-door and the smaller Bronco Sport. The Bronco reservation system will open when the 4x4s are unveiled.

“Bronco gave rise to the fun and versatile off-road SUV in 1966, becoming the first enjoyable sport utility vehicle for those who wanted to live, work and play outdoors. Like the original, the all-new Bronco family is engineered to take you to epic places, with capability to deliver confidence on any type of terrain,” said Ford COO Jim Farley.

So what’s this Built Wild thing about? There are three principles, according to Ford. Built Wild Extreme Durability Testing is about elevated torture tests that ensure toughness across thousands of lab, proving ground and real-world extreme challenges in the tough and harsh climates.

Built Wild Capability refers to confidence to go over any-type of terrain (G.O.A.T.), provided by standard 4×4 and an exclusive terrain management system, plus unique Bronco-variant architectures with claimed class-leading levels of capability and suspension technology.

As for Built Wild Innovative Design, Broncos “are the future of off-roading and deliver off-road ingenuity, new design innovations coupled with heritage-inspired DNA, plus new-levels of personalisation that can flatter the novice and challenge the expert adventure seeker.”

If you thought the G.O.A.T. thing sounds cheesy, it’s at least not new. The original Bronco was nicknamed G.O.A.T. by Donald Frey, the Ford product manager who championed both Mustang and Bronco nameplates and challenged engineering teams to deliver “go anywhere roadability”.

Also, Ford dubbed the original 1966 Bronco “a completely new line of sports-utility vehicles” at its reveal in August 1965 – the Blue Oval is now calling that the first reference to “SUVs” from an American carmaker.

The old Broncos all featured a body-on-frame design with short overhangs at both ends, high ground clearance and a short wheelbase. All these gave it agility and good off-road capability. Driven by Rod Hall and Larry Minor, the Bronco captured the overall win at the gruelling 1969 Baja 1000, a victory that no other production 4×4 has replicated in 50 years.

1966 Bronco Exterior

From L-R: 1966 Ford Bronco, 1996 Ford Bronco Eddie Bauer

Of course, the Ford Bronco is no stranger to popular culture, having been featured in more than 1,200 films and 200 songs. With news of the return of the nameplate after nearly 25 years (Ford last made a Bronco in 1996), prices for the old ones have skyrocketed; according to Barrett-Jackson, the average first-generation Bronco sale price nearly doubled from $39,763 to $74,820 in just over three years (the return announcement was made in January 2017).

Interestingly, Ford is also developing “authentic experiences” for its new lifestyle brand. Called Bronco Off-Roadeos, it’s four off-roading and outdoor adventure playgrounds built for all skill levels, with experiences designed to build confidence and inspire Bronco owners to get out in the wild. They will start opening in 2021. Needless to say, Ford is ramping up all-new Bronco merchandise, too, from gear to remote control cars.

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Car Reviews

2020 Benelli Leoncino 500 in matte colours, RM29,288 –

Now coming in three new matte colour schemes for this year is the 2020 Benelli Leoncino 500, priced at RM29,288. The three colours are Matte Red, Matte Green and Matte Grey with pricing excluding road tax, insurance and registration.

Designed as a retro-styled, versatile middleweight motorcycle, the Leoncino 500 carries a 499.6 cc, liquid-cooled, two-cylinder mill, producing 46.9 hp at 8,500 rpm and 45 Nm of torque at 5,000 rpm. Power gets to the rear wheel via a six-speed gearbox and chain final drive.

Suspension is done with 50 mm diameter upside-down forks and rear pre-load adjustable monoshock. Twin 320 mm diameter discs on the front wheel are clamped with radial-mount four-piston hydraulic callipers while the rear uses a 260 mm disc and single-piston calliper, with two-channel ABS as standard.

The Leoncino 500 rolls on 120/70 tires on the front and 160/60 at the rear, shod in Pirelli Angel tyres. LED lighting is used throughout and inside the cockpit an LCD instrument panel displays the necessary information.

Set height on the Leoncino 500 is set at 810 mm and dry weight is claimed to be 196 kg, with fuel carried in a 12.7-litre tank. The Leoncino 500 comes with a two-year or 20,000 km warranty against manufacturing defects.

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Supercars drivers, teams react to ‘crazy’ border run

Supercars drivers and teams have taken to social media to react to last night’s race to beat the New South Wales/Victoria border closure.

Tickford Racing, Erebus Motorsport, Walkinshaw Andretti United, Team 18 and Kelly Racing were all left scrambling to pack and flee Victoria yesterday by news that the border to New South Wales was closing for the first time in 100 years.

The closure, sparked by an ongoing coronavirus outbreak in Melbourne, would have made it all but impossible for the July 18-19 race at Sydney Motorsport Park to go ahead had staff and equipment not cleared the border by midnight last night.

All of the affected teams are now in New South Wales, with most set to bump in to SMP today and set up temporary bases.

Their return date is unknown, with the possibility crews will be in exile for as long as eight weeks to ensure the Darwin and Townsville rounds also go ahead.

Social media has been abuzz since the ambitious border run began, with teams and drivers detailing a “crazy” 24 hours.

Here is some of the reaction:

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Auto News

Compel banks to extend loan moratorium or expect record forfeitures, MTUC urges BNM, finance ministry –

Another call to extend the six-month moratorium on loans and financing repayments has been made, but not from the public. This time, it’s from the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC), which urged the finance ministry (MoF) and Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) to compel banks to extend the deferment by another six months, The Edge reports.

Failure to do so would see record asset forfeitures involving borrowers, it said. According to MTUC secretary-general J Solomon, the moratorium extension was needed, especially for the targeted group of workers who are still unable to service loans.

“This would include many of the 800,000 workers who lost their jobs until April this year, and thousands more who were forced to take deep pay cuts or go on unpaid leave by their employers,” he said, adding that it would take time for workers to get back on their feet and service their loans.

“There should not be any doubt on the part of the government, especially the MoF and BNM, that a large slice of the workforce is far from ready to resume servicing car and housing loans. If the banks persist to ‘collect’, then we can expect to see record forfeitures of vehicles and homes of the working class, which will inflict untold misery on them and their families,” he explained.

His statement was in response to news reports the cited BNM assistant-governor Adnan Zaylani Mohamad Zahid as saying that “we (BNM) have no intention of extending the moratorium as it would have repercussions that we want to avoid.”

Solomon said there is no question of banks incurring losses because of the moratorium. “The loans are not written off, but the instalment payments merely need to be deferred until the economy normalises. There are no losses to speak of, merely a temporary deferment of monies that would be returned to the banks’ coffers,” he said.

Under the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package (Prihatin), BNM had on March 25 proposed measures to assist individuals, small and medium enterprises (SME) and corporates affected by Covid-19, in which an automatic moratorium on all loan repayments for six months was announced.

Those with hire purchase car loans or fixed-rate Islamic financing will enjoy a six-month relief, with only the duration of the tenure shifted by an additional six months. There is no change to instalment payments after the moratorium period ends, nor will there be any additional interest charged during the period, which is effective from April 1 to September 30.

In June, finance minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz said it is up to banks to decide if they wanted to extend the loan moratorium. He had suggested that an extension of the moratorium could perhaps be done in a targeted manner and on a case-to-case basis.

Last week, Malayan Banking said it will not be extending its loan moratorium period past September, while AmBank says it is looking at extending the loan moratorium, but not in a blanket manner, with any possible extension being for targeted segments.

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F1 news: Gasly reveals he almost parked car that finished P7

Pierre Gasly has revealed that his AlphaTauri team almost gave up his points finish in Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix when they asked him to pit his car after just 10 laps due to fears of a brake failure.

Gasly was running in 12th position when his brakes overheated just 10 laps in. After being instructed to pit, Gasly asked for one more lap to try and get the brake temperatures under control, which he managed to achieve. He went on to finish the race in seventh place.

“I mean, we were that close from retiring the car,” said Gasly. “The team asked me actually to box on lap 10, because my brake pedal was completely flat and the temperatures were going over the roof, and I just asked for one more lap.

“They told me ‘Okay, try’. I stayed out, things got better, and in the end we finished P7, so we were one lap [away] to box the car, and then next lap stayed out and managed to get a couple of points.”

After the scare, Gasly took advantage of retirements ahead of him – notably Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault and the Racing Point of Lance Stroll – as well as Alex Albon’s spin after his collision with Lewis Hamilton.

“I think if someone told us we’d be P7 on Sunday, we would have signed straight away at the beginning of the weekend,” added Gasly. “We knew it will be quite challenging against the Renault, McLaren and Force India, and in the end we just stayed out of trouble until the finish and had some good fighting and then, yeah, managed to get a couple of points.”

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