Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • After losing their shirt on F1 for decades, Spa and other F1 venues should host an IndyCar race instead
    After losing their shirt on F1 for decades, Spa and other F1 venues should host an IndyCar race instead – at 1/10th the cost

    16 F1 Race promoters threaten to quit F1 calendar

  • Bottas vows to return to rallying
  • Kubica to be 'stronger than before' – Ecclestone
  • Ricciardo backs move to help heavier drivers
  • New Renault car, engine 'encouraging' – Ricciardo
  • Verstappen wants fast start in 2019
  • Schumacher needs time to 'grow' – Montezemolo
  • Alonso personality 'not easy' – Montezemolo
  • Mazepin to test 2017 Mercedes this year

16 F1 Race promoters threaten to quit F1 calendar

A group of F1 race promoters are preparing to confront the sport's owner Liberty Media.

Led by Silverstone, the race officials are angry with Liberty over the handling of their contracts, with the Daily Mail reporting that they are threatening to leave the calendar.

The newspaper said the promoters met for a meeting in London to discuss the situation.

"Everyone is disgruntled. Liberty's ideas are disjointed," said Stuart Pringle, the Silverstone boss and head of the F1 promoters' group.

Chase Carey should sell F1 now. It has zero future once cars become all-electric all that R&D manufacturer money will dry up
Chase Carey should sell F1 now. It has zero future once cars become all-electric and all that R&D manufacturer money dries up. Besides F1 fans won't pay to watch silent race cars

This year, the race contracts of Silverstone, Monza, Barcelona, Hockenheim and Mexico all expire.

"We have all been compliant and quiet hitherto, but we have great concerns about the future health of the sport under the people who run it now," Pringle added.

He admitted they are particularly angry about Liberty's handling of a potential race in Miami, even though a deal was not ultimately done.

"Miami are seemingly getting a free deal," said Pringle. "That has not gone down well with anyone, not least with the guys at Austin, Texas, who are working hard to make their race pay.

"If this continues, formula one will be racing on second-rate circuits, if any at all."

“It is not in the long term interest of the sport that fans lose free access to content and broadcasting," said FOPA in its statement – referring to making F1 available on a pay service like IndyCar is doing. It is the fastest way to lose sponsors and is called being pennywise and pound foolish.

It also challenged Liberty’s rate of progress in developing Formula 1. “There is a lack of clarity on new initiatives in F1 and a lack of engagement with promoters on their implementation," said the statement.

FOPA warned Liberty not to undermine existing races by adding new rounds to the calendar. This appears to be a thinly-veiled criticism of Liberty’s courting of Miami to host a second US round of the championship by offering it a cut-price deal.

“New races should not be introduced to the detriment of existing events although the association is encouraged by the alternative business models being offered to prospective events," it said.

“As we enter a new season of the sport that we have promoted for many decades, the promoters seek a more collaborative approach to the development of the championship and the opportunity to offer their experience and expertise in a spirit of partnership with Formula 1 and the FIA," the statement concluded.

In a separate report, RaceFans has confirmed the 16 races represented by FOPA are as follows: Australia (Melbourne), Azerbaijan (Baku), Spain (Catalunya), Canada (Circuit Gilles Villeneuve), China (Shanghai) – not present at meeting, France (Paul Ricard), Austria (Red Bull Ring) – represented by Hungary at meeting, Great Britain (Silverstone), Germany (Hockenheimring), Hungary (Hungaroring), Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps), Italy (Monza), Singapore, Mexico (Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez), USA (Circuit of the Americas) and Brazil (Interlagos). The five races not represented (excluding newcomer Vietnam) are: Bahrain, Monaco, Russia (Sochi), Japan (Suzuka), Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina).

Bottas vows to return to rallying

Bottas recently winning a Rally stage. He's is practicing for when Mercedes sacks him after 2019
Bottas recently winning a Rally stage. He's is practicing for when Mercedes sacks him after 2019

Valtteri Bottas says he intends to do more rallying in the future.

The Finn made his professional rally debut last week at the Arctic Lapland event in Finland.

He finished fifth overall, winning a stage.

"After completing the rally, I love rally even more," said the Mercedes driver.

"It is necessary to practice more, and it requires maximum concentration, but I am used to that in formula one. Generally, it was fun."

When asked if he intends to return to the same rally in the future, Bottas was quoted by the Finnish media: "I don't know yet.

"In terms of driving, F1 and rally are really different. I have a lot to learn, but I can say that this was not my last rally."

Kubica to be 'stronger than before' – Ecclestone

Robert Kubica
Robert Kubica

Bernie Ecclestone has tipped Robert Kubica to be stronger than ever this year.

After an eight year absence due to his permanent right arm injuries, the now 34-year-old Pole is returning to the grid in 2019 with Williams.

Former F1 supremo Ecclestone clearly supports the move.

"If Robert did not have his accident, he would be world champion by now. I think he will come back stronger than before," the 88-year-old is quoted by

"He is mentally better and will be more aggressive than he was before. I only see good things in front of him," Ecclestone reportedly said.

Ecclestone played down concerns that Kubica's injured right arm will hold him back, and perhaps even pose a danger to the other drivers on the track.

"In terms of physical fitness, I can give another example," the Briton said.

"Many years ago, when I had a racing team, I had the driver Archie Scott Brown, who did not have his right hand. But he was very fast and in a much, much worse situation to Robert.

"He had many successes with us and I think Robert's injury will not stop him either," Ecclestone added.

Ricciardo backs move to help heavier drivers

Ricciardo knows that despite ballast to equal the weights, lighter drivers can have ballast moved around to help the car balance
Ricciardo knows that despite ballast to equal the weights, lighter drivers can have ballast moved around to help the car balance

Daniel Ricciardo has backed a move that will help F1's taller and heavier drivers in 2019.

Following claims some drivers were dangerously underweight to comply with the previous 734kg 'driver plus car' minimum weight, the rules were changed for 2019.

Now, the driver (plus the seat) will be weighed separately, and must tip the scales at 80kg or more. Any ballast must then be carried in the cockpit area.

"All of us will enjoy our food a little more," Australian Ricciardo smiled.

"I'm not complaining about it. It's not like we're going to take the piss, it's just that a lot of us were tending to starve ourselves on race weekends.

"Even in training we couldn't really do much strength training because we would just put on mass. This just allows us to train harder, eat more," said the Renault driver, who switched from Red Bull.

"It's not like we're going to have beer bellies or anything, we're just going to be stronger and I think that's only a good thing," Ricciardo added.

New Renault car, engine 'encouraging' – Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo says the noises coming out of Renault ahead of the 2019 season are "encouraging".

The Australian surprised the F1 world last August when he announced that he is leaving the top team Red Bull to join the works Renault outfit from this year.

Some upper management troubles aside, the noises from Renault have been positive. New technical boss Marcin Budkowski said recently that after "three years of construction, three years of attack are beginning".

His comments coincided with reports that Renault's engine and chassis are fundamentally all-new for 2019.

"It's encouraging, obviously," Ricciardo said.

"When I signed, I knew that there was work ahead but I know they're putting a lot of effort into making things better and expanding a lot of departments and trying to make '19 and '20 stronger."

Overall, despite finishing the 2018 season fourth overall, Renault was disappointed particularly with how the team managed to improve the car over the season.

"I think '19 is a new car and it's going to be a fresh start again," said Ricciardo.

"Obviously, all I can do is try to be fully immersed in it all, try to help as much as I can and see how things go from there."

Verstappen wants fast start in 2019

Who will Max Verstappen drill in Melbourne?
Who will Max Verstappen drill in Melbourne?

Max Verstappen thinks he could challenge for the 2019 world championship, but only if the Red Bull-Honda package is fast right from the start.

Over the past months, the Dutchman has warned that while Honda could ultimately develop a front-running engine for Red Bull, the package might not be ready to win right from the start in 2019.

"We need to make sure that from the start we are a little bit closer so we can actually start fighting with them a bit sooner," said Verstappen, referring to Red Bull's efforts to take on Mercedes and Ferrari in 2019.

"It seems like we keep our car progressing in a good way throughout the season, which helped us out at the end of last season and also the season before.

"We just need to be a little bit sooner than at the end of the season," he added.

Following Daniel Ricciardo's move to Renault, Verstappen's new teammate at Red Bull will be former Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly.

The Frenchman says "things look really promising" for the first year of the new Red Bull-Honda collaboration.

"Honda are working really hard," said Gasly. "They really want to make the best out of this situation.

"For sure we need to give them time. It's super difficult to catch up with Mercedes and Ferrari, but slowly they are catching up and I'm really excited to see what they can do," he added.

Schumacher needs time to 'grow' – Montezemolo

Luca di Montezemolo
Luca di Montezemolo

Former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo says Mick Schumacher needs time to "grow" into a F1 driver.

Ferrari has signed the son of Ferrari's five-time world champion Michael Schumacher to its young driver development 'academy'.

Mick, 19, will be managed by former Ferrari team boss and FIA president Jean Todt's son Nicolas, and will race in Formula 2 this year.

The pressure on the young German is intense.

In Germany, for instance, there is said to be a bidding war taking place for the television rights to the F1 feeder series, Formula 2.

"We are in active talks in Germany," a Liberty spokesperson is quoted by Kolner Express newspaper.

The report added that Schumacher's sponsor Deutsche Vermogensberatung, which also sponsored Michael, might help to finance that broadcast deal.

Fernando Alonso, the now retired two-time world champion, says the pressure on Schumacher is clearly high.

"He is a great talent and it will be good for the sport to have the Schumacher name in F1 again," said the Spaniard.

"Let's see what the future brings without putting extra pressure on him which I'm sure he has enough already. Let time decide," Alonso added.

Montezemolo agrees.

"Mick Schumacher? I love him," the 71-year-old Italian is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I've known him since he was in the crib, when Michael protected him from mosquitoes.

"He is a serious, intelligent boy who must be allowed to grow up. Like father like son? It's still early but I hope so," Montezemolo added at a book launch.

Alonso personality 'not easy' – Montezemolo

Alonso at Ferrari in 2012
Alonso at Ferrari in 2012

Former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has admitted that Fernando Alonso does not have an "easy character".

After retiring from the sport, Spaniard Alonso got his post-F1 career off to a flying start with victory at the Daytona 24 hour.

"I am very happy," said Montezemolo, who lured Alonso to Maranello from Renault in 2010.

"Fernando is a great driver," the 71-year-old Italian told La Gazzetta dello Sport at a book launch.

"He often had difficulties with being a team man, but together with Schumacher and Lauda he was the strongest of all time at Ferrari," Montezemolo added.

"His character is not easy but he always gave everything. My only regret is that in 2010 and 2012 he did not manage to win the world title, despite fighting until the end," he said.

Mazepin to test 2017 Mercedes this year

Nikita Mazepin's check is big enough to test a 2-year old F1 car
Nikita Mazepin's check is big enough to test a 2-year old F1 car

Russian driver Nikita Mazepin will conduct a series of F1 tests in a two-year old Mercedes car this year.

The 19-year-old, who steps up to Formula 2 this year, is the son of Russian billionaire Dmitry Mazepin.

Last year, Mazepin snr's company Uralkali tried to take over Force India, but that team ultimately did a deal with another billionaire, Lawrence Stroll.

Now, Speed Week reports that Mazepin's son Nikita, who raced in F3 and GP3 in the last two years, will conduct an innovative private testing program with Mercedes this year.

Stroll's son Lawrence, now with Force India for 2019, underwent a similar set of private tests with Williams prior to his own F1 debut in 2017.

Speed Week reports that Mazepin will test a 2017-spec Mercedes on 12 separate days this year, in addition to his full Formula 2 race campaign.

Correspondent Mathias Bruner said: "Mazepin is not part of Mercedes' junior program."

However, it is claimed that Mercedes' George Russell and Esteban Ocon will be involved in the tests to assist Mazepin.

The news will surely re-ignite the 'pay driver' debate in F1, but Lance Stroll says families or sponsors supporting drivers is just a part of motor racing.

"You need support, whether it's a family or a sponsor," he said.

"But then you're on your own — money doesn't buy victories, no matter how much support you have. And if you don't win often enough, it won't be enough for F1."

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