Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Sergey Sirotkin
    Sergey Sirotkin

    Sirotkin 'stronger than Kubica' – father

  • Kubica's race dream still alive – Rosberg
  • Montreal promoter opposes Friday ax plans
  • Former driver defends Kvyat's new role
  • Boullier not worried about Renault reliability
  • Toro Rosso holding Japanese culture lessons for staff
  • Haas-Maserati deal 'would be good' – Marchionne
  • Whiting Coming Down On Teams Actively Designing Rule-Breaking Cars

Sirotkin 'stronger than Kubica' – father

Oleg Sirotkin says his son is faster than Kubica
Oleg Sirotkin says his son is faster than Kubica

(GMM) Sergey Sirotkin's father says the young Russian secured the Williams seat because he was "stronger" than Robert Kubica.

Many Williams, F1 and Kubica fans are disappointed and angry that the British team signed the heavily backed Sirotkin over Pole Kubica, whose F1 career was halted seven years ago due to injury.

But Sirotkin's father Oleg told Tass news agency: "Sergey proved to be stronger than Kubica in testing, both in qualifying and racing mode.

"Sergey was also tested on the simulator where he demonstrated very good knowledge. He gives feedback above the level of other young drivers before him," Sirotkin Snr added.

Williams finished fifth overall last year, but some question whether 2018 drivers Lance Stroll and Sirotkin – with a combined age of 41 – can do equally well.

Sirotkin's father Oleg continued: "The task is to keep the team's fifth position, because the situation is now more complicated.

"McLaren is going to Renault engines and they have always produced one of the best chassis. Renault has been preparing its car for this season for about two years, so they will also be faster, so the competitors will be Force India, Renault and McLaren," he said.

"I think Williams has good potential for growth," said Sirotkin Snr. "Yes, they have young drivers now, but in a year or two they will be even stronger."

Kubica's race dream still alive – Rosberg

If Sirotkin's checks stop coming, Kubica is 'in like Flynn'
If Sirotkin's checks stop coming, Kubica is 'in like Flynn'

(GMM) Nico Rosberg insists Robert Kubica's dream of returning to the formula one grid remains alive.

Legions of the Polish driver's fans are disappointed that Williams elected to instead sign the heavily-sponsored Russian Sergey Sirotkin for 2018.

But Kubica's co-manager, 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg, told Auto Motor und Sport that the test and reserve role the 32-year-old has secured is still positive.

"Robert will be able to do many kilometers," Rosberg said.

"For him, it's a mega contract and definitely a step in the right direction."

Kubica had put together an $8 million sponsorship purse for the race seat, but Auto Motor und Sport claims that he will actually be paid by Williams this year.

Montreal promoter opposes Friday ax plans

Francois Dumontier
Francois Dumontier

(GMM) A race promoter says he is basically happy with Liberty Media's new approach as the sport gets together in London this week.

Liberty has convened a series of major meetings with F1 stakeholders this week, including all 21 race promoters on the 2018 grid.

"Since I took over the Montreal race in 2010, I have never participated in a meeting with all my counterparts present without exception," Francois Dumontier told Le Journal de Montreal newspaper.

"More than ever, Liberty Media is listening to its promoters. And that's a good sign," the Canadian GP promoter added.

It is clear Liberty is taking a different approach in the post-Bernie Ecclestone era, but Dumontier is keeping his lips sealed.

"Our discussions are confidential," he said, "but you will hear about it soon."

Dumontier would, however, admit that he is totally opposed to reported plans to scrap Friday practice sessions.

"Fans come to Montreal in large numbers on Fridays," he said. "I cannot imagine the Canadian grand prix over just two days. This is also the case in Australia and a few other places."

Liberty's meeting with team bosses will take place on Thursday, with the new F1 owners to reveal their plans for the future of the category.

Former driver defends Kvyat's new role

Kvyat might get a chance to do some Friday session 1 track cleaning for Ferrari
Kvyat might get a chance to do some Friday session 1 track cleaning for Ferrari

(GMM) Russia's first F1 test driver has backed Daniil Kvyat as he is snapped up by Ferrari for 2018.

Some are declaring that Red Bull refugee Kvyat's move to a development role at Ferrari is effectively the death knell for his career.

But Sergey Zlobin, who more than a decade ago became the first Russian test driver with his Minardi role, said the idea of dead-end test jobs is an "incomprehensible stereotype".

"In fact, Kvyat has received a good and highly paid job," Zlobin told Sportbox.

"Yes, he will be seen less on TV, but he becomes a member of this elite team and if one of the Ferrari drivers has problems, he will get the chance to race.

"I would say half the paddock dreams of such a job," he added.

Boullier not worried about Renault reliability

Eric Boullier
Eric Boullier

(GMM) Team boss Eric Boullier says he is not worried about engine reliability for 2018.

After three bad years with Honda, McLaren has switched to customer Renault power for this year.

However, although Honda's reliability was woeful, Renault finished last season also notably struggling with technical problems.

Asked if that's a worry, Boullier told France's Auto Hebdo: "Not at all.

"Renault has taken the necessary measures and made great efforts to make progress in this area."

He said McLaren has also worked very hard over the winter on the Renault switch.

"The employees voluntarily worked throughout the holidays," Frenchman Boullier revealed.

"Everyone has taken the news about the transition to Renault very positively, and we are working perfectly with our new supplier already," he added.

However, it might be said that there is big pressure on McLaren this year, given its bold claims about its chassis and the fact Red Bull has won races with the Renault engine.

"We do not feel additional pressure," Boullier insisted. "On the contrary. The team is motivated by the fact that we will have two strong rivals in Red Bull and Renault.

"McLaren is in formula one to perform, not for the numbers," he added.

Finally, Boullier declined to confirm or deny McLaren executive Zak Brown's hint that the 2018 car may be painted in a full orange livery.

"You will see everything at the launch," he smiled.

Toro Rosso holding Japanese culture lessons for staff

F1 team members will have to give up Italian Pasta for Chop Sticks and Sushi
F1 team members will have to give up Spaghetti and Meatballs for Chop Sticks and Sushi

(GMM) Toro Rosso is looking to avoid some of the pitfalls of the ill-fated McLaren-Honda partnership.

With McLaren dumping its works backing after three woeful years, Honda power is now moving to the Red Bull junior team.

And boss Franz Tost said Toro Rosso is determined that the very different Japanese culture is understood by the staff at the team's Italian HQ.

"For a better understanding of Japanese culture, seminars and workshops are being taken up with great interest by our employees," he told Speed Week.

"We all know that Japan has its own culture and it's one of the really exciting challenges actually to synchronize that with our own culture," Austrian Tost added.

"If we were not convinced that it can be achieved, we would never have gone ahead with this project."

Although the decision to switch to Honda was taken late, Tost insists Toro Rosso has enough time to integrate the very different engine for 2018.

"Actually an early decision like this is rare," he insisted.

"Let me remind you that the change to Ferrari two years ago was decided in December, but we managed to do it in a timely manner. The use of our own transmission simplifies the process," Tost said.

Otherwise, Tost said being the works Honda team "will help" in finding sponsors, but that the existing basic team structure will remain unchanged.

"The number of employees is a healthy basis for a successful future," he said.

As for 2018, he said: "The realistic goal for us is a place in the midfield.

"Generally, I do not expect big changes. I'm still expecting Mercedes but of course I'm hoping that Red Bull and Ferrari fight for the championship. And if I'm honest, I hope more for Red Bull than for Ferrari."

Haas-Maserati deal 'would be good' – Marchionne

Marchionne may put the Maserati name on the anti-American Haas team
Marchionne may put the Maserati name on the anti-American Haas team

(GMM) Sergio Marchionne has repeated his hint that a deal between Haas and Maserati could be on the cards.

Last month, the Ferrari president sealed the deal on a title sponsorship between Fiat Chrysler brand Alfa Romeo and Sauber.

Now, Marchionne has his eyes on a similar tie-up, with talks between the Ferrari 'B team' Haas and Maserati said to be taking place.

Italian reporters asked him at the Detroit auto show if he is thinking about sending Maserati into Formula E.

"I'm not so sure. In terms of a possible cooperation, it is maybe better to try to organize a joint project with Haas in formula one," Marchionne answered.

"It would be a good project."

He also said the next step for Alfa Romeo could be a move into Indycar, in partnership with Dallara.

"We do not have much experience in American racing, but we are thinking about Indycar. Why not?" he said.

"Giampaolo Dallara is an excellent specialist and the best Italian engineer in the motor sport industry," Marchionne added.

Whiting Coming Down On Teams Actively Designing Rule-Breaking Cars

Charlie Whiting
Charlie Whiting

The FIA’s Charlie Whiting has come down on teams using suspension tricks to increase car performance, giving a 5mm limit on height changes from steering lock to steering lock.

Speaking on last season Whiting revealed concerns that teams were deliberately manipulating their cars to reduce ride height below acceptable limits in corners, with the end product being improved aerodynamics and grip for offending cars.

"It became clear during the season that some teams were designing the suspension and steering systems in an attempt to change the front ride height of the car," Whiting said.

"Whilst some change is inevitable when the steering wheel is moved from lock-to-lock, we suspect that the effect of some systems was a far from incidental change of ride height.

"We also believe that any non-incidental change of ride height is very likely to affect the aerodynamic performance of the cars."

Though it’s only coming to light now, teams playing tricks with suspension to gain an advantage is far from a new thing. A twenty-five year old ruling was given by Whiting as a reference, stating "any car system, device or procedure which uses driver movement as a means of altering the aerodynamic characteristics of the car is prohibited."

Whiting continued by saying that teams will be expected to keep cars above the 5mm limit when moving from steering lock to steering lock, and that the duty is on them to prove that their cars adhere to this.

"It is our view that such steering systems should be treated in the same way as suspension systems, i.e. that the 1993 ICA ruling should apply when assessing compliance with Article 3.8 of the Technical Regulations.

"Hence, any change of front ride height when the steering wheel is moved from lock-to-lock should be wholly incidental.

"We will therefore be asking [teams] to provide us with all relevant documentation showing what effect steering has on the front ride height of [their] car and, in order to satisfy us that any effect is incidental, we believe that ride height should change by no more than 5.0mm when the steering wheel is moved from lock-to-lock."

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