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Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday
  • Ricciardo waiting to see if Raikkonen gets the ax at Ferrari
    Ricciardo waiting to see if Raikkonen gets the ax at Ferrari
    Ricciardo in no hurry to sign 2019 contract
  • Leclerc 'definitely' a future champion - Pujolar
  • McLaren plans mid-season Alonso talks
  • Wolff slams Marko over tire conspiracy
  • Verstappen can win in Monaco - father
  • Boss defends Grosjean amid new career crisis

Ricciardo in no hurry to sign 2019 contract
(GMM) Daniel Ricciardo insists he is still not in a hurry to sign a new contract for 2019.

Having entered F1 as a Red Bull junior, the Australian is now an undisputed top driver and looking at a potential move to Ferrari or Mercedes.

But Red Bull wants an answer by the summer.

"The next contract I sign must be 'the contract'," Ricciardo told El Confidencial newspaper.

"I can't say what I'll be doing in five years, so that's why this next one has to be perfect for me."

Red Bull has warned that it can pull Carlos Sainz back from Renault to replace Ricciardo for 2019.

But Ricciardo insists: "I'm not in a hurry. The team wants to have it done by the summer, but if the team tells me we can wait until October, then I can wait."

The 28-year-old is a happy and ever-smiling member of the F1 circus, but he disagrees with Red Bull's recent assessment that he was 50 per cent to blame for the crash with Max Verstappen at Baku.

"For people who know this sport, they know it was not my fault," Ricciardo insisted.

Leclerc 'definitely' a future champion - Pujolar

Charles Leclerc
Charles Leclerc

(GMM) Charles Leclerc is "definitely" world champion material.

That is the view of Xevi Pujolar, an experienced engineer who works with the Monaco-born rookie at Sauber.

"He is a potential champion. Definitely," he told El Mundo Deportivo newspaper.

"The way he is very demanding with himself, I've seen in other drivers like him. He does everything to the maximum and until he does he's not happy. And he wants the same from those around him.

"They're the kind of people who ultimately win because they're always looking for their limits," Pujolar added.

"He has many things I have seen in other great drivers, but I prefer not to compare. What I can say is that if the car improves he would do great results."

Leclerc, 20, is a Ferrari junior driver and tipped for a future at the Italian team.

Asked if he would win in a winning car, Pujolar answered: "Yes.

"Ok, at some of the first races he made mistakes, but that's normal. You arrive from Formula 2 where you've won everything and find that everyone is a champion.

"So at the beginning it's a shock. You think 'How is that driver as fast as me?' But once this type of driver knows how to regulate their potential, everything starts to happen.

"Sauber is the best place he could have started in F1," he added.

McLaren plans mid-season Alonso talks

The only place Brown can promise Alonso a winning car is in IndyCar next year
The only place Brown can promise Alonso a winning car is in IndyCar next year

(GMM) McLaren will open talks with Fernando Alonso about 2019 around the middle of the season.

That is the news from team executive Zak Brown, acknowledging the rumors that the Spanish driver may not stay in formula one or at McLaren beyond this year.

Alonso, 36, did the Indy 500 last year and is attempting the full world endurance championship plus Le Mans in 2018.

But Brown says McLaren wants Alonso to stay.

"We want him to continue here for many years and we want him to continue at McLaren," he told AS newspaper.

However, McLaren has young charger Lando Norris waiting impatiently in the wings for an opportunity.

But Brown said the British team is still focused on Alonso.

"Formula one is his passion, but he's been doing it a long time and he's achieved everything. So we'll see.

"But he loves McLaren, the work we do, everything. I don't think he was this happy at another team.

"We'll sit down in the middle of the year and see. He will see how the car develops and the further improvements we are going to bring.

"But I think Fernando's heart is in formula one and at McLaren. He wants to win," Brown added.

Wolff slams Marko over tire conspiracy

First Vettel accused Pirelli of changing tires to help Mercedes, now Marko is making the same claim
First Vettel accused Pirelli of changing tires to help Mercedes, now Marko is making the same claim

(GMM) Toto Wolff has slammed Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko for alleging that Mercedes is receiving special treatment by F1 tire supplier Pirelli.

Already, Sebastian Vettel has suggested the new, thinner tire tread supplied by Pirelli in Barcelona was a cause of Ferrari's sudden struggle.

"You don't have to be a genius to understand that the tires get harder when you scratch off 4 millimeters. That's how other teams got on better than we did," the German told Bild newspaper.

Red Bull's Marko agrees: "The tires were changed at the request of Mercedes.

"When you're a team and a manufacturer at the same time, you can do that.

"We produce energy drinks," he continued to Auto Bild. "Of course we cannot influence as much compared to a maker of passenger cars."

Mercedes boss Wolff, however, hit back at Marko's allegations.

"It's not the first time the doctor sees ghosts," he said.

"There were problems with blistering on the tires in the winter tests, even at Red Bull. The rears looked like a volcanic landscape. So Pirelli improved them.

"It's bad for business if tires explode.

"I think it looks weak if you have a bad weekend and complain. First and foremost, we look at ourselves for our problems," Wolff added.

Verstappen can win in Monaco - father

Will Verstappen win in Monaco, or will he clout the barrier or another car
Will Verstappen win in Monaco, or will he clout the barrier or another car as most expect?

(GMM) Max Verstappen's father thinks the young Dutchman can finally win again next time out at Monaco.

The Red Bull driver had a bad start to the 2018 season, but he put the criticism behind him in Barcelona with a solid third place.

"I understand that everyone likes the podium, but we want more," Jos Verstappen, a former F1 driver and Max's father and mentor, told Ziggo Sport.

Jos said the key to better results for his son is qualifying.

"That's the problem. Because if he's on the first row, Max can win every time.

"Because of these front wings it's just incredibly hard to overtake," he added.

And so while some say Max needs to calm down in order to shine, Verstappen snr tipped the 20-year-old to keep his foot on the throttle.

"We just want to win. That's why I'm looking at Monaco.

"The engine is not that important -- the car is important there. And in the slow corners, Red Bull is really the best," Jos said.

Boss defends Grosjean amid new career crisis

Haas drivers Grosjean and Magnussen
Haas drivers Grosjean and Magnussen

(GMM) Gunther Steiner has defended under-fire Haas driver Romain Grosjean.

The Frenchman is having a bad start to 2018, and is yet to score a single point compared to his on-form teammate Kevin Magnussen's 19.

Not just that, Grosjean crashed out during the safety car in Baku, and in Barcelona was given a grid penalty for Monaco for the first corner crash.

Nico Hulkenberg, taken out in the crash, was livid.

"He spun eight times this weekend and is completely unpredictable," said the German. "Maybe he should think about changing sports."

It is not the first time Grosjean's F1 career has been in crisis, after being banned for a race in 2012 due to a spate of crashes.

But Haas boss Steiner defended his driver.

"For me it was a normal first lap incident," he said.

"Yes, the consequences were unpleasant, but you only have a few milliseconds to decide -- and that's what he decided.

"Right now Romain's reputation suffers and he's an easy target for criticism, but I think the decision of the stewards was a slap in the face."

Steiner said he is therefore standing behind Haas' most experienced and highest paid driver.

"I went to talk to him immediately, because I could imagine how he felt," he told Ekstra Bladet newspaper.

"If I fail him, it's finished. So we'll help him," Steiner added.

"I told him I do not blame you. You tried to get the best possible start and it did not work. Move on. Focus on Monte Carlo and do your best there.

"Right now Romain is down, but he responds in the right way. Of course, nine races without points is not good, but he's just got to get on the horse again."

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