Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Kubica at speed in the Williams Tuesday
    Kubica at speed in the Williams Tuesday

    Raikkonen 'not worried' about Kubica return

  • Mercedes joins Ferrari in F1 quit threat
  • Rosberg not ruling out full-time TV role
  • Sauber to make announcements on Wednesday
  • Toro Rosso partnership to be 'more equal' – Honda
  • Webber takes on Australian Grand Prix role
  • Hamilton wins 2017 Fastest Lap award
  • Kubica: Disappointing if I miss 2018 F1 seat

Raikkonen 'not worried' about Kubica return

Kimi Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen

(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen insists he is "not worried" he might be sharing a grid with Robert Kubica next year.

After a seven year absence, Pole Kubica looks set to return to F1 next year with Williams.

With only minor modifications to the 2017 car, including a bigger recess in the cockpit side to accommodate the restricted movement of his right arm, the 32-year-old did over 100 test laps in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

Also on track was Ferrari driver Raikkonen, who was asked about speculation some drivers are worried about racing against Kubica next year.

"Why should I be worried?" the Finn responded.

"I'm sure Robert would not be driving if he was not sure of his abilities," Raikkonen insisted.

"I am happy for him. It's great if he finds a place at a team again."

However, there have been some grumbles in the paddock about Kubica returning, including one whisper that he basically has to drive the car "one handed".

"That's nonsense," Kubica said in Abu Dhabi. "It's not possible to drive a formula one car with just one arm.

"Certainly I have limitations, but I can compensate with the rest of my body and so far I'm doing quite well."

And he insisted that if he is on the Melbourne grid, it will not only be because he has convinced Williams but also himself that he is fully up to the job.

"There are a lot of people wishing to see me back because of the story," he said, "but first I have to ensure that if I get the chance I am ready and prepared.

"If I do come back I am not here to make up the numbers. I have to make sure I can give the best of Robert Kubica."

Mercedes joins Ferrari in F1 quit threat

As we said yesterday elite brands Mercedes and Ferrari cannot be beat by econo-brands Honda and Renault or it would ruin their elite image. Hence they have to get more money and they have to win. If not they must leave F1. They will never risk tarnishing their elite image.
As we said yesterday elite brands Mercedes and Ferrari cannot be beat by econo-brands Honda and Renault or it would ruin their elite image. Hence they have to get more money and they have to win. If not they must leave F1. They will never risk tarnishing their elite image.

(GMM) Mercedes is now joining Ferrari in threatening to quit formula one after 2020.

Earlier, Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne said that if Liberty Media proceeds with its plans for the 2021 engine rules and budget cap, the Italian team could withdraw and race elsewhere.

And now, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has admitted he is not happy at the end of Liberty's first year in F1.

"Nothing," he said when asked by Kronen Zeitung newspaper to point out a Liberty-inspired highlight of 2017.

"Doing erratic actions like Michael Buffer in Austin does not make the sport any better," said Wolff.

When told that Liberty just wants closer racing, a better engine and cost controls, Wolff responded: "But we do not see any vision.

"Nobody knows where the journey is going. All we know now is that sales and profits have fallen sharply."

So when asked if Mercedes could join Ferrari in its F1 quit threat, Wolff said: "Such a scenario is quite conceivable. Just as it is for Ferrari.

"If we do not see what formula one stands for, then we have to ask ourselves the difficult question: not if but where do we want to operate in motor sport at the highest level?" he added.

Rosberg not ruling out full-time TV role
(GMM) Nico Rosberg is not ruling out replacing F1 legend Niki Lauda as a full-time television pundit on German television.

During the broadcast of the 2017 finale in Abu Dhabi last Sunday, Mercedes team chairman Lauda shocked viewers by saying it was his last race as a pundit for the free-to-air network RTL.

Since then, Bild newspaper has been running a poll about who should replace him, and Rosberg – who worked throughout the Abu Dhabi weekend for RTL – topped the charts with 47pc.

"It's great," the 2016 world champion enthused. "It seems that people liked what I did, but it was also fun for me.

"I still don't know what I'm going to do next year, but I'm basically open to anything."

However, he pointed out that the first thing RTL needs to organize is a new contract with Liberty Media for 2018.

"At the moment it's a theoretical discussion as there are no TV rights for RTL," said Rosberg.

Sauber to make announcements on Wednesday

We now await the Leclerc announcement
We now await the Leclerc announcement

(GMM) Sauber is preparing to make some key announcements on Wednesday.

Blick newspaper reports that the Swiss team will confirm that its Ferrari engines will be rebranded as Alfa Romeo, while Charles Leclerc will join the team as driver.

It is a key sign that Sauber is moving closer to Ferrari, as Alfa Romeo is owned by Ferrari parent Fiat and Monaco-born Leclerc is a Ferrari junior driver.

Veteran Blick correspondent Roger Benoit says Leclerc, 20, will enter F1 in 2018 off the back of recent tragedy, after his father died in June.

"It was a very difficult time to lose first (friend) Jules (Bianchi) and then my dad. But I think it made me stronger and I see life differently now," he said.

Asked if he is worried that, as reigning Formula 2 champion, it will be difficult to start in F1 with a back-of-the-grid team, Leclerc answered: "No.

"I remember that Alonso started at Minardi."

Blick claims that Sauber will make the Alfa and Leclerc announcements after Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne approves the press statement.

Toro Rosso partnership to be 'more equal' – Honda
(GMM) Honda thinks it will have a "more equal partnership" with Toro Rosso in 2018 after three ill-fated years with McLaren.

The Japanese marque's Yusuke Hasegawa admitted this week that Honda was "not ready" to link up with a "top team" like McLaren back in 2015.

So with that relationship now ended, Honda will power the Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso cars next year, and Hasegawa said engineers are already hard at work.

"We've been the ones making the majority of requests so far, but it's fair to say this will be a more equal partnership than it was with McLaren in terms of leadership," he said.

"Obviously Honda as a company is huge but we had little recent F1 experience. So from that point of view McLaren was still leading us. That won't be the same with Toro Rosso," Hasegawa added.

He said Honda will begin the Toro Rosso relationship with an engine that is based on the one used by McLaren this year.

"It will remain the same power unit concept from this year, so we are able to use the current one as the starting point," Hasegawa confirmed.

But he said that with lessons learned from the McLaren era, Honda will not be setting any early targets for 2018.

"We have to provide Brendon (Hartley) and Pierre (Gasly) with the performance they need," said the Japanese.

"Of course they are very good drivers but they are also rookies in F1 so it's too early to say what we can target from a constructors' championship point of view."

Webber takes on Australian Grand Prix role

Mark Webber
Mark Webber

Mark Webber will serve on the Australian Grand Prix Corporation board for the next three years, the Victorian Government has confirmed.

Webber is one of two new appointments to the AGPC board, alongside Kimberley Brown, General Manager of Saltwater Hotels and Properties.

"The Australian Grand Prix Corporation plays a huge role in driving our visitor economy and bringing visitors to our state," said Minister for Tourism and Major Events John Eren MP.

"Mark Webber and Kimberley Brown, both leaders in their respective fields, will undoubtedly add another dimension to the Board and ensure our events continue to go from strength to strength."

Webber and Brown arrive following Alan Oxley's retirement from the board after 15 years.

"Alan has made a remarkable contribution, playing an integral role in the success we have achieved," said Australian Grand Prix Corporation Chairman John Harnden.

"We are sincerely grateful to Alan for his dedication and unwavering support."

Harnden added: "Both Mark Webber and Kimberley Brown are outstanding individuals and will bring fresh perspectives to the board."

Webber competed in 215 races across 12 seasons in Formula 1, taking nine wins, 42 podiums and 13 pole positions, and contributing to four Constructors' Championships.

Hamilton wins 2017 Fastest Lap award

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton

World Champion Lewis Hamilton has received this year's DHL Fastest Lap award.

Hamilton, a recipient of the honor in 2014 and 2015, clocked the fastest lap in seven of this year's 20 Grands Prix, en route to his fourth world title.

Hamilton's tally of seven meant he beat Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel (with five) to the award, with Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas taking the fastest lap on two occasions.

Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo, Fernando Alonso and Max Verstappen also set the fastest lap during one Grand Prix this year.

"It is never our specific target to set fastest lap in a race – so when we do, it is a sign of how quick our car has been in race conditions," said Hamilton.

"It also shows the consistency of the Pirelli tires this year. These cars are the fastest we have ever driven in F1 – and it has been cool to set a few all-time lap records.

"They have been a challenge for us drivers to master, more physical to drive, and that is how it should be."

Hamilton's third overall award brings him level with Vettel in the contest which was introduced in 2007.

Kubica: Disappointing if I miss 2018 F1 seat

Robert Kubica
Robert Kubica

Robert Kubica admits that there would be a level of "disappointment" if his Formula 1 tests do not result in a full-time comeback to the sport with Williams in 2018.

Kubica competed for BMW and Renault from 2006 to 2010 but his career came to a halt when he sustained serious arm injuries in a rally crash in 2011.

Kubica began exploring the possibility of a return earlier in the year, when he completed three runs with Renault, culminating in a test in its 2017-spec car in August's Hungaroring test.

However, Renault signed Carlos Sainz Jr. on loan from Red Bull, prompting Kubica to turn his attentions to Williams, undertaking two private tests in a 2014-spec FW36.

Kubica was afforded the bulk of Tuesday's running at the post-season tire test at the Yas Marina Circuit as he got to grips with Williams' FW40.

The Pole amassed 100 laps, before handing over to Lance Stroll, and finished ninth of the 12 participants, as the only driver not to clock his best time on the Hyper Soft compound.

Williams is evaluating candidates to replace the retired Felipe Massa and Kubica conceded that, while wary of his situation, there would be disappointment at missing out.

"It's not that I want to come back just to come back," he said.

"Even if I will get a chance and don't feel confident or able to do it I will not come back, there is no point.

"I'm very demanding of myself and although I understand my situation and try to adapt, in the end the high standards I put into what I'm doing, it hasn't changed.

"The worst thing I would do is convince myself that I can do it and then having troubles.

"There are question marks have to be answered for the team and also myself.

"But this day, in generally I see big improvements, day by day, so I can expect things getting better which is why I say I would be disappointed [if nothing further happened].

"Because in the end I put in a lot of effort and I see there is a good chance I am able to do it.

"If you look overall picture where I was 12 months ago and where I am now it has been a good 12 months.

"For sure today was the kind of day [where] if nothing happens more there would be disappointment as I feel very confident and very comfortable.

"But also if you think where I was I can be only happy and proud what I achieved in last 10 months."

Kubica added that he feels he is potentially in "better shape" than when he competed in his most recent Grand Prix at the same venue seven years ago.

"There is someone saying I'm driving one-handed, but for sure I think it's impossible to drive an F1 car with one hand," he said.

"For sure I have some limitations, so in some way I am using some [of] my body [to] learn some compensations, which is natural.

"That's something which I think I'm on top of it, and physically I think I have done great work, good work in last six months.

"It hasn't been easy, it's not like I've been lying in bed, actually probably I'm in physically [the] best shape by far, better shape than when I was racing in 2010.

"The motivation is there, the body is reacting in a good way, of course I'm starting from nearly scratch as Formula 1 has changed so much in last seven years that it's likely nearly starting from zero.

"But the experience I gain from the years I was racing in Formula 1 will help me to get on top of the learning process quicker than it used to be in the past."

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