Latest F1 news in brief - Monday
Ecclestone not done with F1
|Bernie not done with F1 just yet|
- Ecclestone says Liberty Media turning F1 into a 'Burger Joint'
- Alonso to 'lose his patience' - Ramirez
- 21 races 'the maximum' for F1 - Brawn
- Canamasas eyes F1 test role for 2017
- Sainz flattered by Prost praise
- McLaren engine switch rumors hard to believe - Sainz
- Unclear if more teams will buy F1 - Lauda
- Briatore not excited by Ferrari test form
- Boss sure 'year two' easier for Haas
- Verstappen plays down early race wins in 2017
- Lauda denies Mercedes eyeing Vettel for 2018
- Jos Verstappen could help another young driver
- Pirelli's Isola agrees Ferrari in 'good shape'
- Founder admits Sauber to be 2017 backmarker
- Haas is team closest to Sauber - Ericsson
Ecclestone not done with F1
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone is not yet done with formula one.
That is despite the fact that he was ousted as the sport's chief executive by Liberty Media, and insists he has "no idea" what his new title 'chairman emirates' really means.
"I'd like some rules and regulations so I know what I am supposed to do or not supposed to do," the 86-year-old told British television Sky.
However, Ecclestone revealed that his successor Chase Carey has actually asked him to go to Brazil to see if the country's president will "put some money into the (Interlagos) race."
But the diminutive Briton won't be in Australia this weekend.
Ecclestone said he broke the news to his friend Sebastian Vettel by saying: "'I'm not bloody well coming to Australia just to play backgammon with you!'
"'Can you wait until Bahrain?'" Ecclestone also told the Ferrari driver, according to the Daily Mail newspaper.
He said he will attend about half of all the grands prix this year, but isn't sure what his longer term future is.
"It depends what Liberty want me to do here," said Ecclestone. "I don't want to stay here not doing anything positive for the company."
Ecclestone says Liberty Media turning F1 into a 'Burger Joint'
Bernie Ecclestone was "deposed" as CEO of Formula 1 in January after "one of the longest running reigns in sport, driven out of power by American conglomerate Liberty Media," according to Oliver Holt of the London DAILY MAIL.
|Bernie says the Americans are turning F1 from a 5-star restaurant to a 'burger joint'|
It marked the end of a "tumultuous 12 months which shook Ecclestone's professional and private lives." But "self-pity has never been his thing," and as the new F1 season starts, he is "as busy as he has ever been."
Ecclestone: "Since I've been out of work, I've been flat out. Lots of things. Other people's problems. Everything. Whatever. People know I'm no longer doing what I should do, so they contact me."
He "has been handed the honorary title" of F1's chair emeritus, but the day after Liberty Media completed its £6B ($7.4B) takeover of F1 from private equity firm CVC in January, he was informed that Chase Carey "was taking over" as CEO.
What Ecclestone's new role with the company entails "remains to be seen."
He said, "The last thing I am is an ambassador. I'd be a bad one, actually." What "is clear" is that Liberty wants to "take F1 in a different direction."
It wants to be seen as "modernizers" and is "uneasy about the sport's association with regimes in places such as Azerbaijan and Bahrain." Liberty believes the sport "has become too elitist" and wants to make it "more open and accessible."
That "jars" with Ecclestone's philosophy. He said, "They have an American culture and at an American race everyone is in the paddock and the pits and they can chat with the drivers and sit in their cars. In F1, we have been running a five-star Michelin restaurant, not a hamburger joint. But maybe now the cuisine will be more accessible. Maybe it will even have a better taste." DAILY MAIL
Alonso to 'lose his patience' - Ramirez
(GMM) Fernando Alonso will eventually "lose his patience" with McLaren-Honda.
That is the view of the famous British outfit's former long-time team manager Jo Ramirez.
The Mexican declared recently that, given McLaren-Honda's winter testing form, he predicts a dire season for the team.
"Look, I want to be a little more optimistic," Ramirez told the Spanish sports daily AS. "I think maybe they are able to do it.
"They're going to have difficulties in the first three or four races, but I think they will fix their problems and be in the battle," he added.
As for whether that will be enough in light of the last couple of years and amid Alonso's expiring contract, however, Ramirez is less sure.
"He (Alonso) is having a lot, lot, lot of patience. The truth is that his attitude is admirable, but of course everything has a limit and I think at some point he will lose his patience," he said.
21 races 'the maximum' for F1 - Brawn
(GMM) Ross Brawn says there are enough races on the F1 calendar already.
When Liberty Media took over the sport, reports circulated that new chief executive Chase Carey saw potential on the schedule for 25 or more races.
Brawn, the new F1 sporting chief, agrees that some of the new races could be in America.
"I think so," he told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
"But the priority is the quality of the events. North America is important but so is Asia and Europe.
"How many races should we have? We must not inflate the calendar. 20-21 is the maximum. France will be back next year and perhaps Germany as well. And Monza is very important," Brawn added.
As for speculation F1 could rev up the 'show' by bringing back screaming normally-aspirated engines, Brawn insisted: "Unthinkable.
"However, we are thinking about the evolution of the hybrid engine."
Another option to spice up F1 would be to give Pirelli some competition from another tire maker, but Brawn answered: "Competition is useful, but it's expensive.
"And Pirelli has done a great job -- it's too easy to criticize them. That said, we will analyze which tires will be most suitable for the F1 we have in mind."
Canamasas eyes F1 test role for 2017
(GMM) Formula 2 driver Sergio Canamasas is looking for a role in the F1 paddock for 2017.
It appears likely the long-time GP2 driver, who is 28, will stay in the category this year as it transitions to become 'Formula 2'.
"At the moment I have done the tests," Canamasas told Spain's El Mundo Deportivo newspaper, "but this is not the only project of mine for this year.
"In formula one I am in talks with three teams and we will have to wait and see if anything comes of it. My intention is to enter the program of a team," he added.
Sainz flattered by Prost praise
(GMM) Carlos Sainz says he is flattered by the praise coming from F1 legend and Renault team advisor Alain Prost.
It is believed Renault tried to sign the contracted Toro Rosso driver for 2017, while Prost said the 22-year-old was also good enough to drive for Ferrari.
"For me, that someone like Prost says that about me, you can imagine how that makes me feel. He is one of the most important people in formula one -- for me, he was on the same level as Ayrton Senna.
"Three or four years ago I would not have imagined someone saying something like that about me, so it means I have to keep doing things just as I have done," Sainz is quoted by the Spanish press.
However, Carlos Sainz's famous father has warned the youngster to focus on 2017 rather than consider a team switch for 2018.
Sainz Jr agrees: "I'll talk about 2018 when I'm finished 2017. Right now, without having done the first race, to think this is the year for me to make the leap is to take energy from one place and put it somewhere else.
"All my energy is on Melbourne, then China, then Bahrain. Race by race, and then we'll see where we will be," he added.
McLaren engine switch rumors hard to believe - Sainz Jr.
|Carlos Sainz Jr|
(GMM) Carlos Sainz Jr. says he cannot imagine McLaren deciding to dump Honda and switch to customer Mercedes engine power in the near future.
Last week, the beleaguered British team did not outright deny speculation its situation is so bad it had been in contact with Mercedes about a last-minute engine switch.
"It would be an enormous thing if McLaren changed engine," Toro Rosso driver Sainz told the Spanish press.
"I don't know, but for me it would be an incredible thing for formula one and so I find it hard to believe."
Sainz was asked about the McLaren-Honda situation because of his closeness to countryman and mentor Fernando Alonso, who drives for the beleaguered Anglo-Japanese collaboration.
But Sainz insisted: "I have enough things to worry about myself, but I wish him the best because if I can't win, I want him to win.
"They have had a very hard winter, but last year they started behind us and ended up ahead," he added.
Unclear if more teams will buy F1 - Lauda
(GMM) It is still not clear if more teams will join Ferrari in buying into formula one.
Recently, it emerged that after Liberty Media made an offer to the teams, Ferrari had taken possession of shares in the company.
Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda now tells Handelsblatt: "As far as I know, there is currently an offer on the table that allows the teams to participate in formula one.
"Every team must check for themselves if it makes sense for them or not," he added.
Lauda is more convinced that Liberty is right to want to make changes to the F1 spectacle.
"Liberty wants to make an event out of formula one (races)," he said. "It is unquestionable that spectators only watching cars in circles for two hours is unattractive."
Briatore not excited by Ferrari test form
|Flavio Briatore says Mercedes are sandbagging in a big way|
(GMM) Flavio Briatore's big hope for 2017 is that Mercedes will be challenged for the world championship.
The controversial former team boss was asked by F1 insider Leo Turrini if, like many Italians, he is excited by rumors that Ferrari's title drought could finally end in 2017.
"I do not share this optimism surrounding Ferrari," Briatore told Turrini's Quotidiano blog.
"I understand the feeling after the Barcelona test, but I doubt that the results are reliable," he added.
"I just cannot imagine Mercedes behind, with the margin of advantage they had until the end of November. I think the Germans have been hiding," Briatore said.
"I would settle for a more balanced championship, with competition between different names."
Briatore, who recently held a surprise farewell party for his friend Bernie Ecclestone, was also asked about new F1 owner Liberty Media's plans for the future.
"I do not enthuse about Liberty, who bought formula one but may not know what they have bought," he said.
"They want to make every grand prix like a Super Bowl, but what are they talking about? How do you do a Super Bowl in the middle of the Ardennes? Or in Malaysia, between the monsoon and the snakes?"
Boss sure 'year two' easier for Haas
(GMM) Team boss Gunther Steiner is confident F1's notorious 'second year syndrome' will not strike Haas.
So often, a new team has a much tougher time in F1 in year two, but Steiner is sure life on the grid will actually be easier for Haas in 2017.
"Compared to 2016, everything is calmer," he told Auto Motor und Sport.
"One year ago we were looking for the plugs to use our computers!" he laughed. "We were warned that the second season is harder but I think we are definitely no worse than 2016."
Some of that confidence is thanks to Ferrari, who Steiner says have delivered a great 2017 engine.
"We did all eight days of testing with one engine," he revealed. "The thing runs and runs and runs and really has more power."
Verstappen plays down early race wins in 2017
(GMM) Max Verstappen has confirmed expectations that Red Bull will touch down in Australia this week with several improvements for the 2017 car.
The energy drink owned team had a low profile winter, obviously behind Mercedes and Ferrari but amid suggestions Adrian Newey was planning a 'miracle upgrade' for Melbourne.
Asked how the Melbourne-spec car will differ, Verstappen told De Telegraaf newspaper just before leaving for Australia: "I can't say.
"But it looks better and hopefully it will be faster."
However, the 19-year-old is not confident he will have a pole and race-winning car this weekend.
"Personally, I don't think we can challenge for the victories at this stage. But we can still improve a lot during the season and we have started already," said Verstappen.
He admits that the big winter surprise was Ferrari's form, even though he is not sure the Italian team can challenge Mercedes for the title.
"But we can see they have made a big step forward and they will certainly fight for victories," said the Dutchman.
As for Mercedes, Verstappen told his website verstappen.nl: "They will always be there. They have probably done a little sandbagging, as always."
Lauda denies Mercedes eyeing Vettel for 2018
(GMM) Niki Lauda is heading to Australia denying rumors Mercedes is lining up a tilt to sign Sebastian Vettel.
The German team does not deny that Nico Rosberg's successor, Valtteri Bottas, was given a mere one-year deal so that a bigger name might be signed up for 2018.
But F1 legend Lauda denies the big plan is to lure German Vettel from Ferrari.
"That is not our plan -- I must say that quite clearly," the triple world champion and Mercedes team chairman told the Austrian broadcaster ORF.
However, he doesn't deny that Mercedes is keeping its options open.
"We're going to start with Bottas and (Lewis) Hamilton and see how it goes," said Lauda.
Jos Verstappen could help another young driver
(GMM) Max Verstappen's father is not ruling out trying to help another youngster make his big mark on formula one.
The former F1 driver masterminded his teenage son's meteoric rise to prominence, but now admits to missing young Max.
"There are times when I am at home and Max is in Monaco and I've thought 'Damn, it's really nice what has happened to him', but for years - day and night - we did everything together.
"And then he left suddenly," Jos Verstappen told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. "It's a natural process, I know that, but when we entered motor sport together, I didn't think it would go so fast," he added.
"I miss him. It's that simple."
However, Jos admits it is also "nice" to have more time for himself, but is also not ruling out returning to the fray with another promising young talent.
"I do think about it," said the Dutchman. "I've even talked about it with Helmut Marko, who knows that I have a lot of contacts in the lower racing classes."
Pirelli's Isola agrees Ferrari in 'good shape'
(GMM) Ferrari is on the cusp of returning to the top in formula one.
That is the view of Mario Isola, who is taking over from Paul Hembery as the most prominent F1 figure representing the sport's official tire supplier Pirelli.
He thinks the Italian marque has succeeded in making new, wider tires that will contribute to this year's cars being much faster and more challenging to drive.
"Last year, the cars were reaching forces of 4G, but now we're measuring figures at about 6G, so we can say that the new racing cars are nearly fighter planes," Isola smiled to Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.
"I am sure the drivers will be tired at the end of the race which could lead to errors and opportunities for opponents to mount an attack."
But apart from that, Isola admits that the greater downforce could actually make overtaking more difficult.
"Yes. We have more durable tires and more downforce, so we will see less tire changes and the drivers will find it harder to follow a rival closely.
"But I want to emphasize the positive aspect," he insisted. "We will experience less overtaking moves, but the fans will feel that these overtaking moves will be more real."
Finally, Isola was asked about Ferrari, and the fact that the new regulations appear to have worked out well for the Maranello team.
"I don't know that, but it is clear to me that Ferrari is in good shape," he said.
"Even if it is normal that we don't see everything in the tests, I do believe that we have recognized in Barcelona the people that are strong.
"Personally, I would like to see a more complex fight for the world championship, and not just with Ferrari but also Red Bull and even an outsider like Williams," added Isola.
Founder admits Sauber to be 2017 backmarker
|Peter Sauber - Psst...when was Sauber not a backmarker?|
(GMM) Team founder Peter Sauber has admitted the Swiss outfit is set to bring up the rear of the field in 2017.
"There are ten teams," he told the Swiss newspaper Sonntagsblick. "The initial position for Sauber is number ten."
But a worse fate seemed in store for Sauber not too long ago, with the 73-year-old admitting the team he took into F1 back in 1993 almost collapsed completely.
Now, with a rescue buyout complete, semi-retirement has become full retirement for Peter Sauber, who says he is no longer involved and owns "not a screwdriver" at Hinwil.
In fact, he said he will be holidaying in South Africa by the end of this week and may not even watch the 2017 season opener on television.
Sauber admitted he still feels affected by the turmoil of his last years in F1.
"I needed some time to process the separation from my company," he said. "It is not easy and I have had sleepless nights.
"It was a real tightrope walk and a collapse was always possible," revealed Sauber. "For me it was an extremely stressful situation with many unpleasant encounters and telephone calls."
One rumor, for example, is that Sauber fell out with the team's ongoing boss, Monisha Kaltenborn.
"We have very little contact," he admits. "I still have contacts with some employees, but no office and I'm never there.
"They say I am the founder and they will use the Sauber name, which is important for the new owners," said Sauber.
"But overall, we made a clean break. It is better like that. So I have nothing to do with the company anymore."
So for now, Peter Sauber thinks the team that still bears his name will be last in 2017, "But I hope they will succeed in overtaking one or two teams".
"There are no miracles in formula one," he admits. "When I look at the years after BMW, 2012 was the last really good season and after that it became difficult because of the lack of financial resources.
"During the development of the 2017 car, the time between May and September was very important and it was then that the funds were missing," said Sauber.
Haas is team closest to Sauber - Ericsson
(GMM) Marcus Ericsson says he is not sure where Sauber will line up on the 2017 grid.
Most observers think the small Swiss team, which almost joined Manor in collapsing recently, will bring up the rear starting in Melbourne this weekend.
When asked where Sauber really is, driver Ericsson - whose sponsors are reportedly linked with the team's new owners - told Blick: "That's the million dollar question for all of us.
"Nobody has the answer. But the tests encouraged us, because Honda and Renault had their problems with reliability, even if we are far from where we want to go," said the Swede.
"I think Haas is the closest to us, but forecasts are very difficult after only eight days of testing," he added.
However, it's no surprise that when asked what his wish for 2017 would be, the answer is finance-related.
"The money should be distributed more equitably," said Ericsson. "At the moment it's not fair, because for a good show, everybody is needed and the manufacturers come and go when they want."