The Roar
The Roar

Michael Lamonato

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Joined July 2012

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Michael is a presenter/producer of ABC Grandstand's national F1 programme Box of Neutrals, but his most significant claim to fame came during the 2013 Australian Grand Prix when he angered the French contingent of the paddock by accidentally opening an umbrella indoors. He's also done some other things, none of which are particularly interesting. You can find him every Friday at 10:30AM (AET) on ABC Grandstand, or talking largely to himself at any time on Twitter: @MichaelLamonato.

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Not sure what you mean, mate. I said team orders were rarely deployed in Vettel’s favour because he was regularly faster than his teammate, and you seem in furious agreement.

Leclerc's bittersweet Belgium a reminder motorsport will always be dangerous

I think any negative emotions towards Vettel come from the idea that he was emotionally favoured by the team — also occasionally actually favoured like that at 2010 British GP — and still in a phase of arrogant youth. Like you say, team orders rarely came into given he was usually faster by Webber by the end of their time as teammate.

Similar for Vettel in that regard, I think. It was rare Raikkonen had to be ordered into compromising his race for Vettel because he wasn’t often anywhere near him — though that doesn’t credit those times Ferrari would be so focussed on Vettel that the other car would fall into a bad strategy, for example.

Leclerc's bittersweet Belgium a reminder motorsport will always be dangerous

Bit much to say “hated to this day”. I haven’t heard anyone reference that race in years until today. In any case it shows that it’s not only Hamilton who might problems with team orders.

But you’re right to say there haven’t been any issues with team orders in Ferrari this season. You’d have to say, though, that the only occasions on which they’ve been used with victory at stake, one driver (Leclerc) has been undeniably faster and so there’s been no opportunity to make a fuss. How will the team approach the race if the drivers were evenly matched this weekend? That’s what’ll be interesting. If Ferrari is a clear cut above Mercedes in qualifying and the race, one of either Leclerc or Vettel will have to finish second.

Leclerc's bittersweet Belgium a reminder motorsport will always be dangerous

A very interesting weekend for the Ferrari dynamic. We all remember how badly the team managed the Italian Grand Prix last year. Can Ferrari deal with it this season? What happens if Vettel fires out of the box? Who’ll get the quali slipstream. Fascinating weekend we’ve got ahead of us on that front.

I’m very excited to see how Albon can do. The second half of his race was exactly the kind of thing RBR would have wanted to see — and would have wanted from Gasly during the first 12 races. That said, it was only one race and a lot of the people he passed, Ricciardo in particular, were on slower and ageing tyres relative to his. Take nothing away from him, however; he still had to nail the passes in a car he’d only first driven two days earlier, so it’s a big tick first time out. He’ll be leading the team in Italy given Verstappen will start with a penalty, so it’ll be another big test, then the head-to-heads with Max will begin from Singapore.

Leclerc's bittersweet Belgium a reminder motorsport will always be dangerous

Look, we shouldn’t pre-empt the FIA report on exactly what happened. Telemetry and footage not broadcast will reveal a much clearer picture of exactly what happened. For example, I’ve heard that Correa had picked up a puncture in Eau Rouge. Boschung had picked up a puncture moments earlier from debris from Alesi’a car. Latifi had also picked up a puncture in an unrelated incident at the hairpin, so there could’ve been other debris on the circuit from this.

Bottom line is it’s unclear, and it’s pretty unfair to apportion blame when we have a fairly limited view of the full set of circumstances. To call it a “brain fade from the American” is extremely premature and, frankly, uncalled for.

That said, what I will add is that the Eau Rouge-Raidillon complex of corners is both extremely fast and largely unsighted. It’s easy to suggest Hubert or Correa should’ve hit the brakes hard immediately, but on the second lap with cars still bunched up and with cars already off-line to avoid Alesi, it could have been just as, if not more, dangerous. After all, a slow car a little past the peak of an unsighted crest is exactly what set this accident in motion; imagine had one of their car been even closer to the peak.

Leclerc's bittersweet Belgium a reminder motorsport will always be dangerous

I think both views on the Ghosn debate are potentially correct. His departure is unlikely to be having an effect on performance this year, but Renault is approaching the point Mercedes also reached in the early 2010s when it decided it had to ramp up spending ahead of the 2014 rules changes to make progress. Would the Renault board without Ghosn be open to increasing spending sufficient to close that widening gap to the front? The new CEO, Thierry Bollore, is apparently a supporter of the team’s involvement, but this would be the test.

As for Ricciardo’s decision to leave RBR, I believe him when he says this wasn’t just a straight performance move — he wanted a new challenge and an opportunity to build his own team in the way Red Bull Racing offered Verstappen the same. Will he be regretting writing off McLaren, though? That could become the real question in the next season or so.

Ricciardo's growing Renault reality

It’s a really fascinating situation. The Red Bull programme brought him back this year supposedly because they always believed he just needed a mental reset (after the torture they doled out to him), so if that’s truly the case, there’s no reason a rejuvenated Kvyat shouldn’t be promoted back to RBR at the end of the season assuming his form continues to be strong.

That said, I’d argue Albon was the better performer in this race. No F1 wet-weather experience and in only his 11th grand prix, he was just about faultless and running ahead of Kvyat the entire race until the Russian was given the tyre strategy gamble that paid off big time. That’s not to take nothing away from Daniil, of course, who was very good in that final stint to make it work — Stroll, for example, couldn’t maximise the strategy quite as effectively.

But then Albon is less experience and could well just end up as the next Gasly, promoted too soon into a team very focussed on the other driver.

Redemptive German Grand Prix a race for the true believers

Renault has kept itself deliberately below the proposed budget cap to ensure it doesn’t have to downsize during its rebuild. It’s unfortunately costing it some momentum, but that’s the compromise the company has made to justify its F1 spend in the first place.

The problem at Haas isn’t the drivers — or certainly they’re far from the biggest problem. The team just fundamentally misunderstands its car. That Grosjean was faster than Magnussen in Q1 while running a Melbourne-spec aero configuration says it all.

I think Perez will likely keep the faith at Racing Point unless some big openings further up the grid come about. The team will improve next year and in 2021 — its problems this year are a hangover of the administration debacle last season.

Whether he wants to or not, Vettel is passing on the baton

This is a great analogy, I like it a lot. There are so many talented drivers in F1 today that Vettel can’t rest on his laurels if he’s not performing, no matter the reason. I wonder how much he’s thinking about his legacy these days.

Whether he wants to or not, Vettel is passing on the baton

I can’t wait to see Leclerc and Verstappen in championship-winning cars. It’ll be a rivalry for the ages — and we’ve probably got a good 10 years or more of it!

Let’s keep fingers crossed the magic formula that’s delivered the last two races holds up in Germany and Hungary.

Whether he wants to or not, Vettel is passing on the baton

I think you’re right about the mental aspect of it. I wonder how much recognising that he let slip his big chance last year is playing a role too. Ferrari is already sounding out drivers to fill his seat, but on the chance Vettel pull up stumps — I don’t see him being dropped.

Whether he wants to or not, Vettel is passing on the baton

In what other context are you able to use the word Monegasque, though? May as well cash in while we can.

The midfield has gone in a dramatically different way than was expected earlier in the year — even McLaren seems surprised its come together so quickly for them, while Haas seems to completely lack an understanding as to why it’s been so bad lately. The second half of the season will be interesting to see how this pans out.

Timely Austrian thriller proves F1's OK after all

You’re right to say this race doesn’t fix all the sport’s problems, but it does demonstrate why it’s not the end of F1 in the way everyone was quick to proclaim last week. There’s a lot still good about this sport, and with a couple of important changes in 2021 it can — excuse the phrase — great again.

Timely Austrian thriller proves F1's OK after all

Sometimes internal pressure can be a driver’s undoing! But yes, he does have the advantage of being sufficiently talented that he can fine-tune himself without worrying about anyone pushing him if he were to slip up.

I don’t think it’s just Leclerc talk that’s died down; I think those hoping for a Ferrari challenge have finally reached the fifth stage of grief.

The title's finished, but you have to admire the way Hamilton ended it

It’s a fair point regarding the Federer comparison. There’s no doubt a driver’s fortunes are tied to the quality of the team, though we can still appreciate when individual talent is making a difference.

As for Mercedes numbers, you’re not far off! The Mercedes team comprises almost 1000 staff, but that doesn’t include the headcount contributing to the engine. Of course they’re not all involved in working on the car — PR, sales, logistics et cetera are all in this number — but still, it’s a lot of people to send two cars around a track once a fortnight.

The title's finished, but you have to admire the way Hamilton ended it

Unfortunately there’s nothing to be done about the acres of run-off, but i can see no reason why, on what is essentially just a huge tarmac pan, they can’t draw a better track! Sure, it’s a stern test of a car — that’s why there was so much field spread and therefore so few battles — but it’s clearly not delivering on the racing component.

The title's finished, but you have to admire the way Hamilton ended it

He’s not this year, but last year’s Ferrari could have claimed the championship with fewer driver errors!

I think you’re right to say he looks like he’s enjoying it a little less this year, even with Canada aside. How Ferrari responds to its poor form will be key to convincing him better times might be around the corner.

Has Seb Vettel fallen out of love with Formula One?

You seem to have missed the point.

Why Lewis Hamilton deserved victory in Canada

Got into my house and saw all my Hamilton posters, did you?

Why Lewis Hamilton deserved victory in Canada

Yeah, I think you’re right. I don’t think they have much of a chance anyway, though — it’s probably just to have their grievances noted, to be honest. Even if you think the penalty is completely contrary to the spirit of the rules, the regulations still entitle the stewards to make the decision, so I’d be surprised if an appeal were upheld.

Why Lewis Hamilton deserved victory in Canada

It’s a good comparison — but so is last year’s Japanese GP when Verstappen got pinged for doing to Raikkonen what Vettel’s done to Hamilton. It’s as consistent as you can get when the stewards are always rotating, I think — which is another matter entirely!

Why Lewis Hamilton deserved victory in Canada

Good thing no-one was on his tail.

Why Lewis Hamilton deserved victory in Canada

I can see what you mean about Hamilton having to get the job done, and that was ultimately the frustrating element of the penalty — but if the guy you’re chasing on the track and you’ve pressured into an error cuts a corner, you should have to contend with him cutting you off if you’ve stuck to the racing line. I think that’s the difference. Hamilton also didn’t have anywhere to go, really, so he could only choose to brake.

Why Lewis Hamilton deserved victory in Canada

It’d be an interesting race! I think you’d definitely get a top tier forming comprising some of the usual suspects you’ve mentioned, but I don’t think the rest would be that far behind — I think F1’s grids in the last few years have been pretty consistently strong with few, if any, drivers who don’t really belong on the grid.

For the record, I think Leclerc would be in that top tier (and would finish the race!).

The reinvention of Max Verstappen

Renault’s really got some questions to answer. If the car’s unreliable, there’s no excuse for them not to be maximising the occasions it’s quick, as it was in Ricciardo’s hands at the weekend. I think back to hearing Guenther Steiner say last season that Renault was worried because “they know they cannot beat us” in the F1 Netflix documentary, and the more we see of the team, the more it’s clear that he’s got a point, and not simply because the car might not be the outright quickest.

Why Monaco is still magic