Latest F1 news in brief - Monday
Verstappen says he, Leclerc top stars of future
|Max Verstappen declares he is great. Says he is one of two future stars|
- Steiner 'happy' with Ferrari-Alfa alliance
- Top teams will be unbeaten in 2019 - Grosjean
- Haas to use Dallara simulator from 2019
- Haas drivers admit putting on weight for 2019
- Staying in F1 beyond 2020 not decided - Marko
- McLaren not confirming Alonso test yet
- Ferrari switches crews for Vettel and Leclerc
Verstappen says he, Leclerc top stars of future
(GMM) Max Verstappen thinks he and Charles Leclerc will be the 'Hamilton and Vettel' of the future.
Verstappen, 21, will be the de-facto number 1 at Red Bull this year, while Ferrari rookie Leclerc - also 21 - will be four time world champion Sebastian Vettel's teammate.
"I imagine we will be like Hamilton and Vettel in the future, because at some point the old generation will go," the Dutchman told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Verstappen says there is no reason both he and Frenchman Leclerc will be unable to challenge for the world championship in 2019.
"If I had a competitive car in my first year, I could have competed for the title," he said.
"Whether Leclerc has a chance to win depends on his car, but if he's good enough, he has a chance," Verstappen added.
By attending a stewards meeting in Geneva, Verstappen has now completed his two days of FIA community service for violently confronting Esteban Ocon after the Brazilian grand prix.
Steiner 'happy' with Ferrari-Alfa alliance
(GMM) Gunther Steiner says he is "happy" with the ever closer alliance between Ferrari and the team formerly known as Sauber.
Steiner is the boss at Haas, the small American team that has a close technical collaboration with Ferrari.
However, Ferrari and 'Sauber' are moving even more closely together, with the rebranding of the Swiss team as Alfa Romeo and rumors of a full buyout.
But Steiner is quoted by Speed Week as saying the Haas-Ferrari collaboration is still going strong.
"What happens with Sauber and Alfa Romeo is none of our business," he said.
"I don't think I am in a position to tell Ferrari what to do. They know that I respect that and do not interfere.
"As long as we get what has been promised and what we have received so far, I am happy," Steiner added.
Top teams will be unbeaten in 2019 - Grosjean
|Grosjean knows he has no chance to win|
(GMM) F1's current top teams will remain unchallenged until at least 2021.
That is the view of Romain Grosjean, a driver for the small American team Haas.
Thanks to its Ferrari collaboration, Haas is tipped to continue to challenge right behind the top teams Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull in 2019.
But Grosjean doubts any team will be able to actually beat the top three, even if the aerodynamic rules are changing this year.
"Formula one needs to improve the chances of other teams winning races, but I do not think it will happen before 2021," he is quoted by Corriere dello Sport.
"Ideally it would be nice to have more teams fighting for victory, because what sense does it make that it is always the same drivers?
"But at the moment, I think it will be the same thing. I do not think we will beat Red Bull, Ferrari or Mercedes this year," Grosjean added.
However, the Frenchman says the battle behind the big three will nonetheless be close.
"Renault will be strong and you never know about McLaren. It's big team that can always come back," he said.
"Racing Point is putting a lot of money into the team, and Toro Rosso is moving closer to Red Bull with the technical partnership, so there are many people who would like to be best of the rest," added Grosjean.
Haas to use Dallara simulator from 2019
|Pietro Fittipaldi will be the Haas team simulator driver|
(GMM) Haas is stepping up its simulator program for 2019.
Until now, the small American team has used the Ferrari simulator at Maranello.
But according to boss Gunther Steiner, Haas has been unable to use the simulator during grand prix weekends because it is monopolized at these times by Ferrari.
"We have access to Ferrari's simulator," Steiner told Denmark's BT newspaper, "but they use it on the grand prix weekends.
"Now we want to use a simulator on the weekends too, so we are switching over to Dallara's simulator," he said.
Italian company Dallara builds Haas' F1 cars.
"It takes time to build a simulator program, but we expect to have it in place during the spring. From the fifth or sixth race I expect we will be up and running on the grand prix weekends," Steiner added.
Haas' simulator driver is Pietro Fittipaldi, the 22-year-old grandson of double world champion Emerson Fittipaldi.
Steiner says the Brazilian will get some actual running in the 2019 car early this year.
"To ensure that what happens on the track corresponds to what he experiences in the simulator, he will drive half a day in the car during the first winter test," he said.
Haas drivers admit putting on weight for 2019
|Kevin Magnussen enjoying some Big Macs|
(GMM) F1 drivers will not look like 'The Hulk' in 2019, even though the rules about driver weight have changed.
That is the claim of Haas driver Kevin Magnussen.
His teammate, Romain Grosjean, admits to have "overdone" his weight gain over the winter, as the rules now mandate a minimum of 80kg driver-plus-seat weight.
"With the freedom, I relaxed a little with the diet. It was fun!" Grosjean is quoted by Ekstra Bladet newspaper.
"It is much better for health and fitness," the Frenchman explained.
"I put some muscle on and need to trim down a little now before the first race. But I think the rule is a step in the right direction."
Even Grosjean's teammate Magnussen says he has put on some weight.
"I am not one of the tallest drivers so I've never had to starve myself because the team suddenly made a floor that weighed a bit more," said the Dane.
"I've put on weight, but we're talking about a kilo or two of muscle compared to where I ended the season. I do not expect anyone to turn up and look like The Hulk," Magnussen added.
"But I have trained differently than before, and the intensity has been different. I feel more fit and it's a good feeling."
Staying in F1 beyond 2020 not decided - Marko
|Marko says there is no guarantee that Red Bull will stay in F1 beyond next year|
(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko says that if Honda stays in F1 after 2020, Red Bull will stay as well.
The current 'Concorde Agreement', which binds the teams to the sport, expires in December 2020.
Marko, a top Red Bull official, says whether Red Bull signs a new one depends on negotiations with Liberty Media.
"At the moment, no decision has been made," he told Auto Motor und Sport.
"We have no regulations, no agreement with the commercial rights holder, nothing.
"We are taking the same approach as Honda," said Marko.
Indeed, Red Bull and Honda have teamed up for a full works collaboration from 2019.
Marko said: "We are hoping that, finally, there will be clarity, and if Honda decides to stay after 2020, we will provide them with everything they need to participate."
And Marko said Red Bull's attitude towards the V6 turbo 'power unit' era has changed now that it is in collaboration with Honda.
"We always opposed the hybrid engines, but Honda wants to continue to work with this engine," he said.
"We changed our mind because Honda is our supplier now.
"For the first time in 14 years, we are treated as a factory team, which of course creates a completely different situation," added Marko.
McLaren not confirming Alonso test yet
|Alonso busy pursing other things|
(GMM) Gil de Ferran is not confirming that Fernando Alonso will test for McLaren in the forthcoming Barcelona tests.
In the past hours, the recently retired-from-F1 Spaniard has been spotted at McLaren's Woking factory.
It invigorated speculation Alonso may test the British team's 2019 car next week, following an invitation by McLaren boss Zak Brown.
When asked if Alonso will test, sporting boss de Ferran answered: "We don't know yet, we'll see."
But he said that Alonso's recent Daytona win only underscored his talent.
"I have always said that for me Fernando is one of the best drivers in history," the Brazilian told Spain's AS newspaper.
De Ferran also cleared up some uncertainty about his ongoing McLaren role, as it has emerged that he will also be CEO of the new off-road series Extreme E.
"I will not have a day to day role in Extreme E, but obviously I would love to see that it is successful," he said.
"I support Alejandro (Agag) and his team with the best of my abilities."
And whether Alonso is in Barcelona or not, de Ferran said McLaren's goal is to improve compared to 2018.
"Obviously, to know how competitive the car is going to be with the new rules, we have to wait and see it in the Barcelona tests," he said.
Ferrari switches crews for Vettel and Leclerc
Ferrari have made a bold inter-team move. Vettel's team was assigned to Leclerc and the one that operated with Raikkonen was switched to Sebastian.
In this way, Leclerc is with a staff of mechanics and technicians used to working with the four-time world champion, therefore positive to accelerate Leclerc's learning curve.
At the moment it is not yet known who will be Vettel's chief mechanic after his resigned to pursue a different career. At this point Ferrari fans just have to cross their fingers and hope for an exceptional season. The elements are all there.