Latest F1 news in brief - Monday
Rosberg hits back at Wolff, Hamilton reports
|Just sour grapes for Hamilton?|
- No Le Mans clash under Chase Carey's watch
- Whiting gives Imola F1 circuit approval
- Honda to deliver engine upgrade in Baku - report
- Sainz Jr. wants to challenge for title in 2018
- Grosjean: Maximum needed in 'tight' midfield
- Steiner: 25 races workable with tweaks
- Massa 'happy to continue' in Formula 1
Rosberg hits back at Wolff, Hamilton reports
(GMM) Nico Rosberg has dismissed comments made by his former boss, Toto Wolff.
Last week, as he reflected on the acrimonious relationship between the now retired Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, team boss Wolff told a British newspaper that it was the German who was the main internal protagonist at Mercedes.
"I know what Toto really thinks about me, so I don't care what an English newspaper writes," the reigning world champion told DPA news agency.
"Last Tuesday, we collected EUR 600,000 for blind children at a charity event together," Rosberg added.
Indeed, the 31-year-old former driver has repeatedly tried to bury the hatchet with Hamilton now that their tumultuous pairing as feuding teammates is over.
But Hamilton is still regularly quoted as being critical of his former friend and colleague.
"From time to time I read what is on the internet," Rosberg told Bild am Sonntag newspaper, "but this chapter is closed for me.
"It's funny because it just doesn't affect me anymore. I won my battle. I Just hope we can laugh together again one day."
No Le Mans clash under Chase Carey's watch
|Chase Cary says no F1 clash with LeMans. Said no such thing about the Indy 500|
(GMM) F1 and Le Mans appear to be entering a new era of collaboration.
At the weekend, new formula one CEO Chase Carey was the honorary official starter of the fabled 24 hour race at Le Mans.
But just a year ago, the now ousted F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone was accused of having deliberately engineered a date clash between Le Mans and the F1 race in Baku.
"We are demonstrating the new relationship between the (Le Mans organizer) ACO (Automobile Club de l'Ouest) and formula one," said ACO chief Pierre Fillon.
"With Chase Carey at the top of F1, the time has come to work together on a motor sport calendar that allows fans to enjoy both formula one and the races of the world endurance championship," he added.
F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg won Le Mans in 2015, but was unable to follow up his triumph a year later due to the Baku clash.
And now, the German is a works Renault driver.
"At the moment, I don't think I am missing participating in Le Mans," he told Firstpost. "I am focused on the Renault project and I would like to give this my best shot in the next few years.
"For the future, who knows?"
Whiting gives Imola F1 circuit approval
(GMM) Imola remains on track for a future return to the F1 calendar.
Before current Italian GP host Monza's 2017 deal was signed last year, the now ousted F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone had admitted Imola was in the running to snatch the historic Italian GP.
Now, Italy's authoritative La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that following an inspection by F1 race director Charlie Whiting, Imola has been given the necessary FIA circuit approval to host grands prix in future.
"I hope that soon there is the confirmation by national authorities so that we can implement at Imola the promises made by the president of the Aci (Automobile Club d'Italia)," said Formula Imola chief Uberto Selvatico Estense.
Honda to deliver engine upgrade in Baku - report
|Can Yusuke Hasegawa deliver?|
(GMM) Honda looks set to deliver a much-needed engine upgrade this weekend in Baku.
In Canada just over a week ago, McLaren chiefs admitted their frustration was at boiling point after the team's hapless Japanese partner failed to deliver the upgrade as scheduled.
Honda's F1 chief Yusuke Hasegawa then said he could not promise it will even be ready for the following race in Azerbaijan.
But he has now told the Japanese publication Sportiva: "There will be some kind of improvement in the combustion engine in Baku.
"I don't know if you can call it specification three, but we'll definitely introduce something even if it is intermediate," Hasegawa added.
The report said Honda has been working hard on 'specification three' at Sakura to address the current power unit's problems, including excessive vibration and a 90hp performance deficit.
But Hasegawa played down hopes the new engine will completely end Honda's 2017 troubles.
"If you improve the combustion engine, the temperature of the exhaust decreases by being more efficient, which reduces the energy recovered through the turbo and MGU-H, making it necessary to change these parts too.
"The situation is more complicated than people can imagine," he added.
The outcome of Honda's latest efforts to improve could be the final straw for the McLaren partnership, and also the next turning point in the career of Fernando Alonso.
"Due to some of his decisions, Fernando could be remembered as one of the lost talents of F1," former Honda F1 team boss Nick Fry is quoted by Spain's La Sexta.
Sainz Jr. wants to challenge for title in 2018
|Carlos Sainz Jr.|
Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz Jr. says he wants to step up to Red Bull in 2018 and fight for the title, as he continues to make an impression in his third campaign.
Sainz Jr. has taken five points finishes from seven races so far this season, including a sixth-place result in Monaco, behind only Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes cars.
Red Bull currently fields Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, and has stated that both have a contract through 2018, but rumors continue to link them with rivals.
"Ideally, I want to fight for a championship [in 2018], I want to have the chance to show everyone that I'm able to fight for a world championship," Sainz Jr. told Crash.net.
"Red Bull knows this, I've told them, they know it perfectly.
"I think if I keep bringing home good results the opportunity will come, and hopefully it will come with Red Bull, this is my target and this is what I'm looking for."
Sainz Jr. is nonetheless focused on helping Toro Rosso achieve its 2017 target.
"My target is fifth in the Constructors' Championship; at least, that's the target of Toro Rosso, it's been the target for the past three seasons," he commented.
"Personally, getting in the points whenever I finish a race and keep this run of consistency.
"I'm obviously really happy with how these first races have gone, particularly with the early points, particularly with Monaco, that was a big weekend for me.
"It hasn't been as easy as it looks, sometimes we've struggled to qualify in the top 12, even in the top 10 compared to last year – it's a lot tighter to get in there.
"We have to do a lot of races coming a bit from the back, but still we've managed to get the points. The team has improved a lot in pit-stop strategy, so it's helping."
Sainz Jr. has scored 25 points to team-mate Daniil Kvyat's four in 2017.
Grosjean: Maximum needed in 'tight' midfield
Haas' Romain Grosjean says the closely-contested nature of Formula 1's midfield means teams have to extract "100 per cent" from their packages at every stage in 2017.
While Force India has pulled clear in race trim – holding a strong fourth place in the standings – Toro Rosso, Williams, Renault and Haas are covered by only 14 points in the battle for fifth spot.
Grosjean believes the close fight has forced teams to raise their games in order to battle for positions inside the top 10 over both one-lap and race-pace.
"It's actually very exciting," Grosjean commented on the midfield encounters.
"If you were removing the three big teams at the front and only leaving the midfield, there would be a different race winner almost every Grand Prix.
"The difference between pole position and second in Canada was much bigger than from P10 to around P17 or P18.
"That shows how tight it is in the midfield and how much we have to be getting 100 per cent from the car every time."
Grosjean added that Haas has made "some big steps forward" compared to its rookie campaign, with the Frenchman having captured four top 10 finishes across the last five Grands Prix.
"It's been a pretty good start," he said of Haas' sophomore season.
"I think from last year we've made some big steps forward in all places. We're more consistent. We've been able to score points more times than last year, which is good.
"There are still a lot of areas where we want to improve and we can improve, [but] generally I'm very pleased with the way the team has been moving forward."
Steiner: 25 races workable with tweaks
Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner believes a 25-race Formula 1 calendar is manageable in the future, if changes are made to its composition.
Formula 1's calendar has gradually expanded across the championship's history, with 2016's record of 21 races set to be matched in 2018, as France and Germany return, and Malaysia departs.
Formula 1's commercial chief, Sean Bratches, installed after Liberty Media's takeover, has indicated that he would like to increase the number of races in future seasons.
Steiner reckons that an additional handful of races would be workable, so long as the calendar is "well-organized", in order to reduce the number of long journeys.
"I'm not opposed to a few more races," said Steiner.
"What I wish is that the races are more bundled – that we stay in one region and are not going back and forth to Asia, where you go back for one week and then back the next.
"How big the area you group together, I don't really know. It needs to be studied of how many F1 races an area can take.
"For instance, I think it would be difficult to have a race in Abu Dhabi and then another one the next week in Bahrain because we are very close together there.
"But a few more races, if it is well organized, will not be that much more time away for the teams.
"In general, I have nothing against getting up to 25 races."
Steiner nonetheless cautioned that an expanded calendar would require teams to adopt a different logistical approach.
"We just need to plan and maybe relieve some people," Steiner commented, if more events are added to the schedule.
"Maybe not all the people will want to do 25 events, but I think it can all be managed, and if we do it cleverly, it is not so much more.
"For sure, there is more cost involved because you travel more. You need more car parts because you run more.
"But, in general, if we've got enough time to get prepared properly, we always find a way to make things work."
Massa 'happy to continue' in Formula 1
|Massa will sing a different tune if Williams' Mercedes engines go to McLaren|
Williams driver Felipe Massa says that he would be "happy" to extend his Formula 1 career into 2018, having led the team's charge so far this season.
Massa was initially replaced by Lance Stroll for 2017, prior to Valtteri Bottas' switch to Mercedes, made possible when the Brazilian agreed to return to a seat.
Over the first seven rounds, Massa has finished in the points on four occasions, including sixth-place results in Australia and Bahrain, putting Williams sixth in the standings.
Massa has already fielded questions over his future, around a third of the way into the campaign, and stated that he would not be against staying on.
"As the middle of the season draws near, it is inevitable that talk has started shifting to 2018," Massa, contesting his 15th season in Formula 1, told Motorsport.com.
"I've already started facing questions from the media about my plans for the future – and especially next year.
"I feel good, I'm happy doing what I'm doing and I have a great relationship with the whole Williams organisation. Plus, above all that, I know I'm still competitive, which is what matters most.
"So on that basis, I would be happy to continue what I have always wanted to do – which is to race in F1."
Massa also backed rookie team-mate Stroll to build on his maiden points finish at the Canadian Grand Prix, which the 36-year-old watched from the pits after a first-lap crash.
"The early end to my race did at least allow me to watch the great race from Lance Stroll, who took his first points in Formula 1," added Massa.
"He pulled off a lot of overtaking maneuvers, confirmed that he has made progress, and in the end delivered a good weekend.
"After some difficult times in Formula 1, he needed a breakthrough like this.
"I am certain that taking away some points from his home race will allow Lance to continue his rookie Formula 1 season with more confidence."