Saturday noticebook – Russian Grand Prix

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Russia, Sochi International Street Circuitru

Leaving the Sochi paddock surprised, McLaren announced on Saturday that the team’s cars will be powered by Mercedes from 2021 under a long-term agreement. Pirelli also confirmed that Sebastian Vettel will take part in a 2020 tyre test in October.

Important Sunday – Juan Manuel Correa will undergo a surgery on Sunday which is set to last more than ten hours. After having opted against amputation of his right foot, the doctors will try to save what can be saved and remove what needs to be removed in order to rebuild his right lower leg to the best possible condition. The Ecuadorian-American was transported to a new hospital in London that specializes in orthopedic surgeries. The young driver is now fully conscious and his lungs have recovered faster than anticipated which made tomorrow’s surgery possible. The family provided an update about Correa’s state of health. It reads: “The surgeons are the top in their field and are cautiously optimistic given the fast-paced recovery that Juan Manuel has had in the previous week.”

Vettel with a tight schedule – Pirelli requested an additional two-day test from the FIA to finalize its tyre compounds for the 2020 season. The sport’s leading teams Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull have offered to take part in the test. Although several midfield teams feared that the top teams could enjoy an advantage over the rest of the field, the governing body pushed through the test session which will take place at Barcelona on October 7-8. Sebastian Vettel will run on behalf of the Scuderia, while development drivers Esteban Ocon and Jake Dennis will handle testing duties respectively for Mercedes and Red Bull. For the German champion, it will be logistically a challenge as he has to fly over to Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix as soon as he completes the testing duties.

New engine partner – McLaren has announced today that it would join forces with Mercedes once again after the two parties agreed an engine deal. The German engine manufacturer will supply the Woking-based squad with its power unit from 2021 with the deal running until the end of 2024. McLaren team principal Zak Brown stressed that the agreement is the latest step towards returning to the sharp end of the grid.“This agreement is an important step in our long-term plan to return to success in Formula 1. Mercedes is the benchmark, both as a team and a power unit, so it is natural we would seek to secure a relationship with the company for the next phase of our journey.” Previously, McLaren’ cars were powered by Mercedes between 1995 and 2014.

No standard brakes – As a part of cost saving, FIA has been planning to introduce a number of standard parts from 2021. The brake system was identified as one area for standardisation, but the governing body has now scrapped the idea after fears from several teams that standard brakes could result in reliability troubles. FIA confirmed to abandon the idea in a statement issued on Friday. “To allow further evaluation of the real-world performance of 2021 Formula 1 cars, the FIA has chosen to delay the potential implementation of single suppliers for brake friction materials and brake system components,” the statement reads.

Advantage exaggerated – Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto played down the suggestions that his team enjoys a huge competitive advantage over its rivals thanks to a superior engine. The SF90 has been the class of the field all season long when it comes to straight line performance and therefore the car has mainly excelled on tracks dominated by long straights. However, Ferrari took a surprising one-two finish in last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, on a high-downforce track, leaving their rivals shocked. Binotto said that the results at Singapore showed that Ferrari has now a car which does not suffer that much in the corners as it did at the beginning of the season. "Our drag advantage is lower at high downforce. Singapore showed that our superiority with the engine has been exaggerated."