Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • McLaren knows Norris is good, hence the rumors Toro Rosso wants him
    McLaren knows Norris is good, hence the rumors Toro Rosso wants him

    McLaren 'not surprised' by Norris rumors

  • Mercedes delays Canada-spec engine
  • Verstappen to 'regroup' amid 2018 crisis
  • Ickx: Only Alonso can get McLaren out of the hole
  • 2019 tweaks no ‘cure’ for F1’s overtaking issues
  • Latifi expects to be in F1 in 2019

McLaren 'not surprised' by Norris rumors
(GMM) McLaren says it is "not surprised" amid reports Red Bull made a move to sign its junior driver Lando Norris.

With Brendon Hartley's seat at Toro Rosso in doubt, widespread media reports say Red Bull made a move to snap up 18-year-old Briton Norris, the Formula 2 championship leader.

According to the reports, McLaren turned down the request to release Norris ahead of the Austrian grand prix.

"We are not surprised that other teams are looking at our drivers," a McLaren spokesperson is quoted as saying.

"They obviously believe, as we do, that they are very talented."

It is believed, however, that Red Bull could try again in October. It is then that Norris apparently needs to be either signed up by McLaren for 2019, or released.

Also rumored in recent days is that MotoGP star Marc Marquez could be an option for Toro Rosso.

The Spaniard tested a few-year-old Red Bull car at the Spielberg circuit recently, and Dr Helmut Marko said his performance was "impressive".

"In the coming years, he will set many more records in MotoGP," he told Servus TV. "Maybe after that, formula one will be an issue for him.

"Only a few exceptional talents like John Surtees can succeed in both categories, and Marc has what it takes," Marko added.

Verstappen to 'regroup' amid 2018 crisis

Is Jos thinking how do I get Max that brain transplant Niki Lauda said he needs?
Is Jos thinking how do I get Max that brain transplant Niki Lauda said he needs?

(GMM) Max Verstappen says he will try to "regroup" after a difficult start to the 2018 season.

Many experts and pundits think the young Dutchman's career is in crisis, following an error-strewn first half of the year.

"The question for him is how he will handle this negative phase and how fast can he get out of the hole?" former F1 driver Timo Glock told Speed Week.

"It could keep going for the rest of the year."

And Jan Lammers, another former F1 driver and a Dutchman like Verstappen, told De Telegraaf: "Max does not have to change. And even if he wanted to, which is not the case, then it would not work.

"Racing is in his blood," he added.

Indeed, Verstappen said in Montreal that he is determined to put his 2018 season back on track.

"I would not call my start to the season frustrating, but rather unlucky," he told Le Journal de Montreal.

"It's heartbreaking what happened in the first part of the calendar. Now we need to try to regroup to deliver performances similar to the past two seasons.

"Consistency is one of the keys, but for the moment we don't have that," Verstappen added.

On the bright side, Verstappen will have an upgraded Renault engine this weekend in Canada.

"I'm sure I can expect a bit more performance," said the 20-year-old. "We'll have to wait for practice to see how the car will react to the changes.

"But I trust our car. If we can narrow the gap to the leading group, we can compete with the others."

Ickx: Only Alonso can get McLaren out of the hole

Alonso cannot work miracles when the car is 99% and he isn't designing it
Alonso cannot work miracles when the car is 99% and the design is inferior

Jacky Ickx is the most illustrious of 24 Belgian Formula 1 drivers that have raced at the highest level and at 74 still follows the sport avidly, and although he rates young Stoffel Vandoorne highly he believes only Fernando Alonso has the capacity to lift McLaren from the doldrums.

The eight-times Grand Prix winner who raced for the likes of Ferrari and Lotus in their heyday, “In general, in Belgium they have high expectations for Stoffel, this is his second season at McLaren… the time that has passed never comes back, but I’m still positive and confident."

“Stoffel is a fast driver, he has not lost his talent, he is the second driver on the team and there are many problems that we do not know about. He may be missing this opportunity to break the barrier and establish himself, like everyone else, as a number one in the short or medium term, but I still believe in him."

“We do not live inside the team, we do not know what is happening there. McLaren does not occupy the place it usually occupies, it is facing big problems."

Putting aside his sentiments, Ickx added, “To get out of the hole they are in they have concentrate and focus their energy on Fernando Alonso because he is clearly their number one driver."

Vandoorne’s time at McLaren coincides with a new era for the team as they attempt to rebuild themselves into the powerhouse they once were. Last year, his rookie season was plagued with bad reliability and a woeful Honda-powered car.

This year McLaren have produced a sub-standard car, way off their preseason target of Red Bull, which has hampered Vandoorne as he has been comprehensively out driven by his veteran teammate as he was for most of last season too.

2019 tweaks no ‘cure’ for F1’s overtaking issues

Chase Carey
Chase Carey

The aerodynamic tweaks to the Formula 1 technical regulations for the 2019 season should not be seen as a “cure" to the sport’s current on-track overtaking difficulties, according to CEO and chairman Chase Carey.

Following complaints from drivers that it was difficult to tail cars ahead closely on-track due to the dirty air being produced, the FIA pushed through tweaks to the 2019 technical regulations in a bid to make it easier to follow and increase overtaking opportunities.

The issue has been most evident in Australia and Monaco so far this season, with the lack of passes in the latter resulting in heavy criticism from drivers including world champions Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

Speaking at the FIA Sport Conference in Manila earlier this week, Carey explained how the 2019 changes should not be regarded as the cure to F1’s ongoing overtaking headache, but instead as a step in the right direction before a greater overhaul arrives in 2021.

“For sure, overtaking is clearly an issue," Carey said. “I think we know the steps we’re taking in 2019 with the FIA are not a cure. They are a step. The changes in 2021 will be more significant, so we are more broadly addressing the aerodynamics.

“We don’t want to lose the aerodynamic aspects that make Formula 1 racing so spectacular, but we do think we need to do things that enable overtaking to be a much more significant part of the sport.

“It’s not the only problem. I think there are lots of things that we have underway that will bring a more competitive balance, more action on the track, and in many ways more unpredictability."

Latifi expects to be in F1 in 2019

Like Lance Stroll, Formula 2 driver Nicholas Latifi has a rich daddy
Like Lance Stroll, Formula 2 driver Nicholas Latifi has a rich daddy

Formula 2 driver Nicholas Latifi is relishing the prospect of making his official Formula 1 debut when he takes part in FP1 on the Friday of the Canadian Grand Prix weekend, the Toronto native will be driving for Force India in the morning session in Montreal while hoping this is the prelude to a full-time seat on the F1 grid next year.

Speaking to Journal de Montreal ahead of his debut on home soil, Latifi said, “It will obviously be very special for me. The Canadian Grand Prix is home."

Latifi was born in the Montreal area of Dollard-Des Ormeaux, but his family moved to Toronto when he was only six months old and have built up a fortune said to be worth billions in the food industry.

“I still have uncles, aunts and cousins who still live there," added Latifi. “They will all come and show support and encouragement on Friday."

“I attended the last two Grands Prix in Montreal, but I never raced there. I’m really excited. I am confident that when I leave the pitlane I will have a big smile. It’s a dream come true. I want to have fun of course, but I am aware that the laps I will achieve will be very useful for the team."

Latifi is clearly a man on a mission, “In 2019 I do not want to stay another season in Formula 2. My goal is F1 next year."

Like Lance Stroll, whose billionaire father financed his way on to the F1 grid with Williams, Latifi is faced with comparisons. Expectations are that Latifi family money will have to talk to make the dream come true.

When asked about this Latifi replied, “You are not the first to talk about my father. Money is not the only guarantee of success in motor racing. I have proven that concrete results are needed to succeed in this business."

Furthermore, the 22-year-old has not set the racing scene alight, while in contrast Stroll was champion in all the classes he entered, while Latifi has never finished higher than fifth in any series he has contested since 2012.

Last year he finished 5th in his debut Formula 2 championship season and now lies 10th in this year’s standings after eight points scoring rounds, trailing his DAMS teammate Alexander Albon who is third.

Meanwhile his father, Michael Latifi recently announced a colossal investment in the McLaren Group, which includes the Formula 1 operation.

In an attempt to snub out speculation that this may be the first step in a sale of the McLaren race seat to Latifi, a McLaren spokesperson pointed out, “There is no question of a connection between the investment in McLaren by Michael Latifi and the career of Nicholas Latifi as a driver."

An alternative for Latifi’s ambition to be on the grid would be a seat with Force India, but that is pure speculation as much lies in limbo regarding the immediate future of the team owned by embattled entrepreneur Vijay Mallya.

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