Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Sergey Sirotkin wants the WIlliams seat, which he will get if he buys it
    Sergey Sirotkin wants the Williams seat, which he will get if he buys it with a large enough check

    Sirotkin admits wanting Williams race seat

  • Mallya fears death in Indian jail
  • Hamilton could quit 'at any time' – Surer
  • New tires to help F1 car designers – Isola
  • Todt 'forgives' Vettel for Baku incident
  • No 'triple header' races after 2018 – Brawn
  • Honda 'needed' change of teams – Hasegawa
  • Wolff: Abu Dhabi 1-2 a 'special' conclusion
  • Bottas learns 'great deal' about 2018 tires
  • Yas Marina open to 'small' layout tweak – Tilke

Sirotkin admits wanting Williams race seat
(GMM) Sergey Sirotkin has admitted he is hoping Williams picks him instead of Robert Kubica to drive for the British team in 2018.

Although Kubica is the hot candidate, and other drivers are still in the running, Russian Sirotkin actually got a test in the 2017 car this week in Abu Dhabi.

"I want to thank Williams for giving me the opportunity even if I don't know what the future will bring," the 22-year-old told France's Auto Hebdo.

Sirotkin, strongly backed by the Russian program SMP Racing, was Renault's reserve driver in 2017.

Some believe Williams just wanted to collect a one-off sponsorship payment from SMP, while others think he is a contender to be the team's reserve driver.

But Sirotkin makes clear he wants the race seat.

"What is certain is that I am not here at the test to enjoy the sun," he insisted.

"I cannot hope for a Renault seat in the immediate future, but it's a privilege to be able to work with different teams at the highest level."

Sirotkin said that, despite Kubica being a rival for a 2018 seat, he found the Pole to be friendly.

"I met Robert for the first time and he's very open and nice," he said.

"He happily talked to me and we could compare our times even if that doesn't mean much. The main thing for him was to have been able to drive at a good level. I think what he has done is really exceptional," Sirotkin admitted.

But he said he wants the race seat for himself.

"It's really hard not to have a seat and just be the reserve," said Sirotkin. "I know I'm learning a lot but I need adrenaline."

Mallya fears death in Indian jail

Vijay Mallya going to do jail time
Vijay Mallya going to do jail time

(GMM) Vijay Mallya says he fears being murdered if he is put in an Indian jail.

Over a corruption case, the Indian government wants to extradite the Force India team owner and boss from Britain.

And the Times of India reports that Mallya is arguing to a London court that he fears being murdered, citing a case involving a female prisoner in June.

Mallya's legal team also said "torture in Indian jails" is another strong argument against extradition.

"He fears for his life in case he is sent back", a source said.

But an official insisted: "The UK court will take into account a sovereign guarantee given by the government of India that Vijay Mallya would be kept in a safe jail environment at Arthur Road jail (in Mumbai)."

Hamilton could quit 'at any time' – Surer

Hamilton will not quit as long as Aldo Costa is designing his cars
Hamilton will not quit as long as Aldo Costa is designing his cars. He is just saying he might so Mercedes gives him a larger contract to keep him in the sport.
Hamilton dreaming of paychecks with a lot of trailing zeros

(GMM) Lewis Hamilton will quit formula one when his "private life" becomes more important to him.

That is the claim of former F1 driver Marc Surer, following the reigning world champion's latest claims about potentially quitting the sport.

Hamilton's latest comments could be because he is reportedly negotiating a lucrative new deal with Mercedes to take him beyond his 2018 contract.

But Surer said: "I also think sometimes that he's so distracted by his private life.

"One day he could say 'Oh man, do I have to go and race again?' I think that could happen to him any time," the Swiss told the German broadcaster Sky.

Surer also thinks Hamilton will only now be motivated if he is pushing for a title, as was demonstrated in the last races of 2017 when Valtteri Bottas had the edge.

"Bottas is just in a different category to Hamilton," he said. "We saw that clearly this year.

"If Lewis is serious, Bottas lacks something to him."

"It's like the weather. It's about trying to find the balance," said Hamilton during an interview.

"I've currently got another year with the team and I do want to continue. But, I'm at that point where there's that question.

"You can't come back to F1. If it's next year, if it's five years from now, whatever happens you're gonna miss it when you finish.

"There's a saying you stay as long as you can – I'm not quite sure about that exactly, but there is a lot of life left beyond it. There are things that I've missed in life.

"I was talking to my best friend the other day about things that I do envy or look forward to, like living in one place, getting a routine, that's my gym, I have game night with my friends here, my family.

"Each year I stay in the sport, I delay those things. But from 40 onwards there's so much time for it."

"My auntie died from cancer and on her last day she said, 'I've worked every day with the plan of stopping one day and doing all these different things, and then I ran out of time', so I'm battling with that in my mind," he added.

"So I do live my life day-by-day and try to live it to the maximum. I want to keep racing but there are these other things I want to do.

"I just want to make sure I choose the right time, but I think I will."

Hamilton says that he has no interests in a political career, but says there are many cultural things he wants to get involved in.

"I have discovered these other strengths and qualities and I don't mind going to start in a company at the bottom and working my way up, if that's what I end up doing," he said.

"I don't mind doing an internship. I'm excited about learning new crafts. It's exciting, it's risky and I like the idea of that. It's different if you're worrying about a pension and you don't have the financial stability.

"There's the charity stuff I've done before, but I'm really starting to focus on the future as my time comes to an end in F1, putting things in place for that part of my future."

New tires to help F1 car designers – Isola

The 2018 tires are softer across the entire range. Look for tire marbles to increase
The 2018 tires are softer across the entire range. Look for tire marbles to increase

(GMM) Pirelli's softer new tires for 2018 will open up new car design possibilities for F1 teams.

That is the claim of Mario Isola, the Italian tire supplier's F1 chief.

This week, top drivers gave a thumbs up to Pirelli's all-new 'hyper soft' tire for 2018, with next year's compounds also being softer across the range.

"The feedback from the drivers was positive and the hyper soft turned out to be 1 second faster than the ultra-soft," Isola told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"The other compounds were a little closer together in performance than we expected, but it's not a problem because we are not obliged to bring similar compounds to the races and skipping a step will mean more flexible strategies," he added.

Isola also said Pirelli wanted to produce a tire for 2018 that allows either one or two-stop strategies.

"We wanted to leave the door open for one stops, yes," he confirmed.

"We believe that these tires will allow designers to be free to explore two schools of thought: making a car either very fast but hard on the tires, or kinder with the tires in order to exploit the softer compounds," Isola said.

He said the 2018 tires have also been designed to reduce blistering, and be less sensitive to pressures and temperatures.

Todt 'forgives' Vettel for Baku incident

Jean Todt, a figurehead
Jean Todt, a figurehead

(GMM) FIA president Jean Todt says he "forgives" Sebastian Vettel for his actions this year in Baku.

In the heat of their 2017 title battle, the Ferrari driver pulled alongside Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton during a safety car period in Azerbaijan and deliberately crashed into him.

But Todt says it's important to move on.

"You know, I'm very tolerant," the 71-year-old Frenchman is quoted by Auto Bild.

"I do not like people judging behavior without taking into account the emotions from the cockpit.

"I can relate to that very well, because I have experienced situations like that with Michael Schumacher.

"Can you imagine what happened in Jerez in 1997," Todt recalled, "or in Monaco in 2006 when he did that stupid thing in qualifying?

"People have weaknesses, and when they realize and say 'I should not have done that' then you have to forgive. That's how it was with Sebastian," he added.

No 'triple header' races after 2018 – Brawn
(GMM) Ross Brawn says F1 wants to avoid organizing 'triple header' races in future.

Mid next year, during its first-ever 21 race calendar, the schedule will for the first time feature three races on consecutive weekends — France, Austria and Britain.

F1 sporting boss Ross Brawn admitted it will be hard for F1's travelling personnel, telling the German broadcaster Sky: "The (football) world cup presented us with a very unusual problem.

"The final is in the afternoon and it would have been very unfair to have run a race on that weekend," he added.

"We could only solve that by having three races in a row but it's not something we want to repeat in the future. It was an emergency measure," Brawn said.

Honda 'needed' change of teams – Hasegawa

McLaren was never the right fit for Honda
McLaren was never the right fit for Honda

Honda boss Yusuke Hasegawa believes the company "needed" to switch to new surroundings in 2018, and has "no regrets" over moving to a new power unit concept this year.

Honda, following three years with McLaren, which were characterized by a lack of reliability and performance, will link up with Toro Rosso next season.

Hasegawa believes that Honda will be able to profit from operating in a different environment, reckoning the change should assist it in understanding where it can improve.

"A new challenge and making new relationships with people is always exciting," said Hasegawa in an interview with Honda's official website.

"From an experience point of view, for this era of Honda, it will be the first time we have changed team and we'll get a better understanding of what a normal situation is.

"We only know things as the McLaren-Honda way, but this will be another opportunity to expand our understanding and experience of a different way of working.

"I think we needed the change.

"From a technical point of view it's good for us to know more about other things, like new cooling situations or how the top speed of a different car design is affected by drag.

"It is very important to understand what the standard is."

McLaren's split with Honda was prompted by the manufacturer struggling during the first half of the campaign, having overhauled its power unit design, in a bid for greater long-term potential.

Hasegawa insists Honda has "no regrets" in revising its approach, resulting in short-term pain in 2017, and its eventual divorce from McLaren.

"Although we showed some decent performance last year we knew it wasn't good enough to break into the top three, so we needed to change the engine concept," he explained.

"There is no doubt that this was the right direction but we just couldn't complete the package in time for the start of the 2017 season.

"That meant we had to solve many issues at the Grands Prix instead, but unless we tried those modifications there was no chance of going forward in the longer term.

"So that's why we decided to change. I have no regrets in taking that decision."

Wolff: Abu Dhabi 1-2 a 'special' conclusion

A 1-2 finish for Mercedes
A 1-2 finish for Mercedes

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff labelled its 1-2 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as a "special way" to end a 2017 campaign which yielded both titles for a fourth straight year.

Mercedes, after three dominant years, was regularly challenged by Ferrari across the opening half of the year, but pulled clear after the summer break, amid incidents and reliability setbacks for its rival.

Mercedes locked out the front row of the grid in Abu Dhabi for the first time since Azerbaijan (its 1-2 in qualifying in Japan wrecked by Valtteri Bottas' penalty) and cruised away in race trim.

Bottas controlled the 55-lap race to log his third win of the season, while Hamilton followed behind, as the Finn finished almost 20 seconds clear of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.

"This was a special way to end a special season: a dominant 1-2 finish in the final race of the season gives us good momentum into the winter," said Wolff after Mercedes' fourth 1-2 of the season.

"The car was magnificent – quickest in qualifying and also in race conditions, on both types of tire.

"I am really pleased to see the way that Valtteri has worked out of the difficult races after the summer to finish the season like this, two pole positions and the final win of the year. It was simply his race.

"As for Lewis, [2017] has been the best performance I have seen in all five years working together.

"He has become more rounded as a character and just as impressive as a racer."

Mercedes finished the year with 12 victories from 20 races and wound up 146 points clear of Ferrari in the final standings.

Bottas learns 'great deal' about 2018 tires

Bottas in Abu Dhabi
Bottas in Abu Dhabi

Valtteri Bottas says he learned a "great deal" about Pirelli's new-for-2018 tires after trying them for the first time during the post-Abu Dhabi Grand Prix test.

Formula 1 conducted two days of post-season running at the Yas Marina Circuit to enable drivers to gain valuable mileage with Pirelli's modified slick compounds.

Pirelli has added a pink-banded Hyper Soft and orange-ringed Super Hard to its dry-weather range, meaning it now comprises seven compounds.

Each team had 20 sets of tires available at the test, 12 selected by Pirelli and eight by themselves.

"It was a really interesting day, trying out the new Pirellis and discovering the differences between this year's and next year's tires," said Bottas.

"I could really feel the differences and it was nice to get the feel now rather than next year.

"We tested all kinds of compounds and learned a lot out of all of them. I myself learned a great deal about the driving style with these new tires."

Pirelli chief Mario Isola commented after the test that feedback from drivers had been "very positive".

Bottas' Mercedes teammate, Lewis Hamilton, labelled the Hyper Soft tire as the best tire Pirelli has produced since it returned to the sport.

Yas Marina open to 'small' layout tweak – Tilke

Yas Marina
Yas Marina

Formula 1 track designer Hermann Tilke says the Yas Marina Circuit could be tweaked in the future, in the wake of last weekend's processional Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Yas Marina has rarely produced dramatic battles in Formula 1, with the leading nine qualifiers holding position in the 2017 race, making gains only through Daniel Ricciardo's retirement.

Tilke and his company have been behind the design of several Formula 1 venues, including Yas Marina, and is open to a "very small" tweak that could have "a lot of impact".

"We have an idea to change one corner, but we don't say [which one]," Tilke told Sky Sports.

"We have an idea, but it's a very small change by the way, but maybe it has a lot of impact – we are in discussions."

Tilke nonetheless defended the circuit, pointing out that the qualifying result – with very few, if any, drivers out of their expected position – was an influential factor in the quality of the race.

"This race, the fastest was in front of the slower [drivers], you cannot overtake, so what to do," he said.

"If it [the grid] is lined up in this way, then you will never overtake.

"Maybe it's the fault of the car and the fault of the circuit maybe."

Speaking after Sunday's race, second-placed Lewis Hamilton suggested the circuit should investigate making changes in order to enhance the spectacle.

"It's such a beautiful place here in Abu Dhabi, everyone has such an amazing time," said Hamilton.

"If there's any way we can improve this track to enable us to have these battles… you've got these long straights where you can't even get close enough to utilize them.

"If there's some way where we can enable us to be able to remain closer in that third sector, I think this will go up in the rankings of a great circuit.

"I don't know if they can do it, but I know there's money to do it, but I just hope… I have hope for Abu Dhabi to get better."

Abu Dhabi joined the Formula 1 calendar in 2009 and has been the season finale for the past four years.

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