Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • 'Pirelli
    Pirelli 18" wheels and tires
    Getty Images

    Pirelli to test 18-inch tires this year

  • Sochi to make F1 track surface more abrasive
  • Liberty official says F1 wants second Chinese race
  • Schumacher needs super license points in 2019
  • Verstappen 'in the fight' in 2019 – Hamilton
  • Correspondent says McLaren 'lost focus'
  • Newey's 2019 car on schedule – Marko
  • China teen breaks into Formula 1 with Renault
  • F1 Launches Marketing Strategy To Gain Ground In China
  • McLaren's 'Future Grand Prix' concept

Pirelli to test 18-inch tires this year

'Current
Current 13" wheels vs 18" wheels

(GMM) Pirelli will start thinking about the low-profile tires for 2021 in the second half of this year.

Despite competition from Hankook, Pirelli last year won the FIA tender to keep supplying the only make of tires to formula one teams for the 2020-2023 period.

In 2021, the regulations stipulate that 18 inch wheels must be used.

Speed Week reports that Pirelli F1 boss Mario Isola has stated in Milan that while testing for 2020 will take precedence in the first half of this year, that focus will change in the second half.

"Starting in July, the Italian company will start preparing for 2021," the report said.

The move to 18 inch tires has been controversial, but Renault technical director Bob Bell says: "It gives the cars a more modern look.

"The biggest challenge will be to learn how to get the best performance from them. It's completely new territory for everyone involved," he added.

Sochi to make F1 track surface more abrasive

Sochi
Sochi

(GMM) Organisers of the Russian grand prix are looking into ramping up the track action at Sochi.

Promoter Rosgonki's CEO Alexey Titov says the actual Sochi track layout will not change.

"We are inside the Olympic Park and surrounded by stunning views," he said. "To alter the route inside the Olympic Park is quite difficult.

"But we will try to come up with some options to change the abrasiveness of the asphalt. We are exploring that in detail," Titov said.

He said the Sochi asphalt could be sandblasted or chemically treated, which would increase the abrasiveness and force drivers to make extra pitstops.

Liberty official says F1 wants second Chinese race

Chase Carey. Liberty is interested in racing where any government is willing to lose their shirt to line Liberty's pockets
Chase Carey. Liberty is interested in racing where any government is willing to lose their shirt to line Liberty's pockets

(GMM) Liberty Media is looking to add a second Chinese race to the F1 calendar.

A race in the important Chinese market was introduced in 2004, and still takes place at the expansive circuit in Shanghai.

But Murray Barnett, who is Formula One Management's head of global sponsorship, says Liberty would like another race in China.

Xinhua news agency also said a dedicated F1 office in Beijing is another possibility.

"We would love to have a second race here," said Barnett. "Probably not in the short term, given how congested the schedule is already, but we'd certainly love to figure out a way to have another grand prix here."

That is despite the fact that prominent F1 races in new markets including Korea and India fell apart. Liberty Media has inked a deal for a Vietnamese race in 2020.

"We've learned what we did wrong in those races, and we're making sure we don't make the same mistakes again," said Barnett.

The Beijing office aside, Barnett says F1 needs to work harder in China to ramp up interest in the sport.

This week, it emerged that Chinese teenager Zhou Guanyu has secured a F1 development role with Renault.

"We'd love to see him (in F1)," Barnett said. "Ultimately, that's down to the teams, but I think even they recognize what a fantastic opportunity China is, and you never know, we might see him in F1 very soon."

Schumacher needs super license points in 2019

Mick Schumacher
Mick Schumacher

(GMM) The system for awarding F1 'super licenses' to aspiring drivers could see Mick Schumacher left off the grid for 2020.

Many are tipping the 19-year-old son of F1 legend Michael Schumacher to make his debut next year, having signed up with manager Nicolas Todt and the Ferrari development program.

He will race in Formula 2 this year as the reigning European F3 champion.

But the German broadcaster RTL points out that it could be the FIA's super license system that derails Schumacher for 2020.

Last year, it emerged that Dan Ticktum was actually Red Bull's top pick to race for Toro Rosso in 2019, but he could not secure enough super license 'points'.

Currently, Schumacher has more than the 40 points he needs for a super license. But RTL says 20 of those points expire this year.

It means Schumacher needs to score 10 super license points this year in Formula 2, which would mean at least a sixth place overall in the championship.

Verstappen 'in the fight' in 2019 – Hamilton

Some are picking Max Verstappen to win the title in 2019
Some are picking Max Verstappen to win the title in 2019

(GMM) Lewis Hamilton thinks Max Verstappen could be "in the fight" to win the 2019 world championship.

Verstappen's 2018 teammate Daniel Ricciardo has fled to the works Renault team, but has also admitted that the Dutchman could have a title winning car this year.

"Max drove very well throughout last year, showing his consistency," 2018 world champion Hamilton said.

"He was right up there with us many, many times, so if his team does the job and delivers a platform with which he can compete even closer with us, then of course he'll be in the fight," the Mercedes driver added.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, the 2018 runner-up, agrees that 21-year-old Verstappen is ripe for the title.

"I think he's got all the ingredients," said the German.

"I think there's a couple of guys out there who have these qualities and Max is certainly one of them."

Especially given his start to 2018, some believe Verstappen is still too inexperienced to be a consistent title challenger.

But the Dutchman insists he is "ready".

"I always find that a really difficult question, because you're so dependent on the package in formula one," said Verstappen.

"I mean, I remember seeing Lewis and it seemed like he was ready for the title in his first year. So the first thing is hopefully we will have the package."

Correspondent says McLaren 'lost focus'

Nygaard is wrong. McLaren lost focus on F1 when it found it could make a lot of money manufacturing high performance passenger cars
Nygaard is wrong. McLaren lost focus on F1 when it found it could make a lot of money manufacturing high performance passenger cars. That became its focus

(GMM) One of struggling McLaren's biggest problems is that it "lost focus".

That is the view of Peter Nygaard, a correspondent for the Danish newspaper BT.

McLaren is one of F1's greatest ever team names, but last year failed to recover in the wake of the Honda divorce and for 2019 has lost Fernando Alonso.

"One of the reasons is that they lost focus," Nygaard claims.

"They wanted too much. They wanted to race at Indy, in GT racing, and so on. But formula one must be their core focus."

Nygaard thinks McLaren then entered a downward spiral that culminated in management disputes, with Zak Brown now at the helm.

"When you're a big team and you start losing in the way they did, you start to blame each other, and internal disputes arose all through the team," he said.

Newey's 2019 car on schedule – Marko

Adrian Newey
Adrian Newey

(GMM) Red Bull is on schedule with production of its 2019 car.

That is the news from Dr Helmut Marko, the closest team official to owner and fellow Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz.

Some teams have already announced that their 2019 chassis have passed the mandatory crash tests, while others have revealed a reveal date.

Red Bull, however, is traditionally late with its new cars, with Adrian Newey famous for pushing deadlines to the extreme.

But Germany's Motorsport-Magazin.com reports that the new Red Bull will actually be crash tested on Thursday, with a rollout then planned for the days before official Barcelona testing.

Marko says the rollout will happen at Silverstone.

"It's always tight, but we've taught Newey that the first official test day is not a rollout," he said.

Red Bull has switched to works Honda power for 2019, and some are predicting that it could be a winning package.

Dutchman Max Verstappen, the top Red Bull driver, insists he is "ready" to push for the championship.

"I always find that a really difficult question, because you're so dependent on the package in formula one," he said.

"I mean, I remember seeing Lewis and it seemed like he was ready for the title in his first year. So the first thing is hopefully we will have the package."

China teen breaks into Formula 1 with Renault

Guan Yu Zhou was a Ferrari Academy driver
Guan Yu Zhou was a Ferrari Academy driver

Chinese teenager Guan Yu Zhou has joined the Renault Formula 1 team as a development driver and academy member.

The 19-year-old, who will compete in the Formula 2 feeder series this year, was previously part of Ferrari's young driver academy – the first mainland Chinese driver selected by the Italian team.

Renault said his duties would include working in the team's simulator at the Enstone factory and taking part in engineering briefings.

"I know the significance of Renault in China, so I'm especially proud to represent both Renault, as a brand, and China in the racing world," said Zhou, who won two races in last season's European F3 championship. "Formula 2 is the next step in my career. It looks to be a competitive field of drivers and there is going to be a lot to learn in a short space of time."

Formula 1 Launches Marketing Strategy To Gain Ground In China

F1 in Shanghai
F1 in Shanghai

Formula 1 held a China Strategic Marketing Conference at the British Embassy in Beijing on Tuesday, celebrating the 1,000th F1 Grand Prix to be held in China and "launching a series of new plans for the Chinese market," according to Andrea Huang of YUTANG SPORTS.

On April 14, the F1 China Grand Prix will be held in Shanghai. F1 announced that the China GP hosting agreement was renewed through '20. In the meantime, CCTV "will once again broadcast F1 races after five years of not showing the F1 race."

F1 announced for the first time a China regional sponsorship system "with the aim to develop more regional partners in China."

The organization also plans to "enhance its digital media and social media presence in China and develop merchandise" YUTANG SPORTS

XINHUA's Michael Butterworth reported F1 Head of Global Sponsorship Murray Barnett said that the sport is "keen to establish" a second GP in China and increase the number of F1 fans in the country.

Barnett said, "We would love to have a second race here. Probably not in the short-term, given how congested the schedule is already, but we'd certainly love to figure out a way to have another Grand Prix here."

Barnett added that expanding F1's Chinese fanbase was "a priority." He said, "We're looking at a number of different things to try to generate more interest on a local basis. We can't just be here for the three days of the Shanghai Grand Prix. We need to have a year-round presence here and be much more locally relevant in order to really establish a big fanbase here". XINHUA

McLaren's 'Future Grand Prix' concept

McLaren Applied Technologies has released what it calls ‘Future Grand Prix’, its vision for what Formula 1 could look like in 2050.

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