Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Steiner says the Haas team will stay small at least thru 2021
    Steiner says the Haas team will stay small at least thru 2021 – i.e. zero race wins

    Haas puts team expansion plans on hold

  • Hamilton tips Alonso to be in 2018 fight
  • Wehrlein's F1 exit 'a shame' – Wolff
  • Michelin not interested in 2021 return
  • Ricciardo determined to improve in 2018
  • Arrivabene envies Mercedes' 'winning mentality'

Haas puts team expansion plans on hold
(GMM) The American team Haas says it has put on hold any plans to expand.

Team boss Gunther Steiner said that despite the reputation that the second year is harder for a F1 team, he is impressed with how Haas went in 2017.

"I would not have expected that we are so stable in all areas," he told Auto Motor und Sport.

"Only after the first year are you aware of the level required to put it all together, but we met all of our expectations," Steiner added.

Haas finished eighth overall this year, only ahead of McLaren and Sauber but not far behind Toro Rosso and Renault.

But Steiner said that because of Haas' small size, it makes little sense to make lofty plans to expand the team while Liberty Media contemplates a budget cap for 2021.

"Before we continue to grow, we need to know at what level the budget cap would be. It makes no sense to enlarge the team now and then reduce staff again in 2021," he insisted.

Hamilton tips Alonso to be in 2018 fight

Alonso should be competitive at LeMans with Toyota
Alonso should be competitive at LeMans with Toyota

(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has tipped Fernando Alonso to join the fight for the world championship in 2018.

This year, Briton Hamilton emerged victorious from his battle with Ferrari, but he thinks there will be others in the fight in 2018.

"I will prepare more than ever to try to take home my fifth championship next year," Mercedes' Hamilton is quoted by Italy's La Repubblica.

"We will be in a four-way fight: us, Red Bull, Ferrari as always and perhaps McLaren. We cannot afford to stay calm, we need to keep working and improving."

After three years with underpowered and unreliable Honda power, Alonso will have customer Renault engines aboard his McLaren next year.

"There will also be McLaren with the Renault engines," Hamilton acknowledged.

Referring to his old McLaren teammate Alonso, Hamilton said: "This year we had a nice duel and I'd like more of them.

"Fernando deserves to fight at the front so I hope that another world champion like him can join the battle."

Wehrlein's F1 exit 'a shame' – Wolff

If Wehrlein was fast enough, Wolff would have paid to put him in the 2nd Williams seat
If Wehrlein was fast enough, Wolff would have paid to put him in the 2nd Williams seat

(GMM) Toto Wolff says it's a shame Pascal Wehrlein looks to have been left without a seat in F1.

German Wehrlein is a Mercedes-backed junior driver, but although Wolff recommended him for the Williams seat, the British team appears to be choosing between either Sergey Sirotkin, Daniil Kvyat or Robert Kubica.

It is the last seat on the 2018 grid, prompting Mercedes boss Wolff to say: "Pascal deserves to be in formula one. He's an excellent driver.

"He's not in an easy position because there are no seats open to him," Wolff is quoted by Italy's Corriere dello Sport.

"It's a shame, because he has the potential to win and his performances on the track have been exceptional."

It therefore means that if Mercedes is looking to replace Valtteri Bottas for 2019, the better placed candidate is now Esteban Ocon, the other Mercedes junior who is staying with Force India.

Wolff said: "Our goal is to find the new Lewis Hamilton, which is not easy because he is at a very high level.

"Our strategy is to hire quick drivers who already have experience. Mercedes is not a place to learn," he added. "Those who arrive here must already be a complete driver."

Michelin not interested in 2021 return
(GMM) Michelin appears uninterested in returning to F1 even after 2020.

The French marque makes tires for Le Mans, Formula E and MotoGP, but motor racing boss Pascal Couasnon says the rules are not right for a return to F1.

"It is not an option as long as there is no change in the regulations," he told AS newspaper.

"For us, it does not make sense to manufacture 13 inch tires when these are not seen on street cars. It would be different with 18 inch wheels, but it seems to me that the 2021 changes are focused on the engine and the budget," Couasnon added.

"The most important thing for us is the technological challenge — to have something to learn from. Otherwise we will not invest," he said.

Ricciardo determined to improve in 2018

Although Riccardo (L) scored way more points than Verstappen (R) did again, in qualifying Verstappen destroyed him
Although Riccardo (L) scored way more points than Verstappen (R) did again, in qualifying Verstappen destroyed him

(GMM) Daniel Ricciardo says he is determined to improve in 2018.

The Australian remains highly rated, and is wanted by Red Bull for a new contract in 2019 even though he is sniffing around the other top teams.

However, Max Verstappen has already been signed up for the future and the Dutchman won two races last year compared to Ricciardo's one.

Ricciardo also admits that his former qualifying strength needs work for 2018.

"In the past often I didn't attack as much in the race and I performed much better in qualifying," he told the Russian publication Sport Express.

"But this season everything changed, and Saturdays weren't the best for me.

"I feel like I am still constantly progressing on Sundays, but qualifying for me stabilized this year. I would not call it a step back but I'll work on it for next year. After all, you can always improve something," said Ricciardo.

Meanwhile, Ricciardo admitted that while he feels bad for Daniil Kvyat, who has been ousted by Red Bull, he hailed the Russian's replacement at Toro Rosso, Brendon Hartley.

"I think in Brendon's case, the decisive factor was perseverance," he said.

"He was in the Red Bull family and left, and after that he was in different series, including retro cars. He was always trying to punch his way back.

"He was constantly calling, harassing different people — 'Give me a chance, let me drive'. And in the end with the results, it began to work out.

"He did everything himself — he doesn't have a rich family or anything. He created opportunities for himself, and Red Bull appreciated that and gave him a second chance.

"I think he's much more mature now and is able to cope with the pressure," Ricciardo added.

Finally, Ricciardo was asked about Sergey Sirotkin, the well-funded Russian driver who appears to have been selected above Robert Kubica for the Williams seat.

"I don't know him much," Ricciardo said.

"We talked a bit at the driver briefings and he made an positive impression, but as a driver I don't know him enough yet.

Arrivabene envies Mercedes' 'winning mentality'

Not smart enough to realize that the difference between Mercedes and Ferrari is Aldo Costa
Not smart enough to realize that the difference between Mercedes and Ferrari is Aldo Costa

(GMM) The difference between Mercedes and Ferrari is the winning habit.

That is the view of Maurizio Arrivabene, the normally taciturn Ferrari team boss.

Sebastian Vettel was the 2017 title favorite in the first half of the season, but driver errors and car reliability meant Ferrari's challenge collapsed suddenly.

Arrivabene told Speed Week the difference could be a winning mentality.

"For Mercedes, first place is not an event but a habit," said the Italian. "That's how it has to be for us in the future.

"We are on an uptrend, but the fact remains that we were not good enough to win the championship," Arrivabene added.

He also admits that Mercedes was simply stronger.

"If you do not respect a team that has won four consecutive world titles, who will you respect? For me, their great strength lies in the organization.

"Perhaps it is also the winning habit that makes the difference. Sometimes you get a pole position and it's a big deal.

"But to be in front, whether it's in qualifying or in the race, it should be the natural result of our work," he said.

"I see the season like a glass of water. By the middle of the season, the glass was half full. But then we used the remaining water to dissolve the headache tablets at the end of the season," Arrivabene smiled.

"We worked well and never gave up, which is the positive aspect for me. But things did not go in our favor. Mercedes deserved to win," he said.

"We have to work harder. We know what we need to do in the future."

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