Latest F1 news in brief – Saturday

  • Brown vetos the ugly Shark Fin
    Brown vetoes the ugly Shark Fin

    McLaren 'veto' means shark fins banned for 2018

  • Liberty ready to reveal new F1 logo
  • Hamilton did not improve in 2017 – Rosberg
  • Alonso denies losing F1 focus
  • Sainz Jr. hopes Kvyat returns to F1
  • Grosjean happy with Magnussen as teammate
  • F1 tests new microphone to improve engine sound
  • F1 cars set to feature 360-degree cameras
  • Vettel: No need for drastic set-up changes

McLaren 'veto' means shark fins banned for 2018
(GMM) McLaren has thrown a spanner in the works as rival formula one teams design their cars for 2018.

Earlier, the FIA declared that for 2018, the controversial 'shark fin' appendages on this year's engine covers will be banned.

But the teams then decided unanimously to allow shark fins next year.

"I thought we all agreed we were going to leave it and stick the number there," said Red Bull boss Christian Horner.

"And then in the usual fashion we left the meeting and things changed."

What happened is that McLaren executive Zak Brown changed his mind, and because the shark fin ban had been in the original FIA rules, Brown's 'veto' was effective.

The official version of the story is that Brown, a sponsorship expert, decided that the shark fin actually spoils the commercial appeal of the rear wing.

"We've got this big engine fin that blocks the rear wing," he said, "so it was really more of a case of starting to free up some commercial locations on the race car."

But German publications Auto Motor und Sport and Auto Bild say some teams suspect that McLaren always intended to issue a last-minute 'veto' in order to mess up their rivals' 2018 car designs.

Force India technical boss Andy Green said: "We developed our rear wing on the assumption that the fin will be there. And I think most of the other teams did too."

Horner confirms that Red Bull's aerodynamicists report that the McLaren solution "screws up the rear wing".

And Ferrari's Maurizio Arrivabene said: "Somehow Zak is removing the fin and doesn't have that commercial space, and on top of that needs to find space for the (driver) number.

"So I think there's something wrong here."

Liberty ready to reveal new F1 logo
(GMM) F1's new owners are preparing to reveal a new official logo for the sport in Abu Dhabi.

Earlier, we reported that three potential new logos – to replace the familiar 'Flying 1' logo introduced under Bernie Ecclestone – were being considered.

New F1 supremo Chase Carey confirmed that Liberty Media is now ready to unveil the new logo.

"We want to provide a fresh energy to the sport and thought the new logo was a great way to emphasize that," he told British television Sky in Abu Dhabi.

However, with fans denouncing the proposed new logos, Cary admitted that replacing Ecclestone's well-liked trademark will be controversial.

"For sure, any time you change you are always going to get a mixed set of views," said Carey.

"We are not looking to change the sport, we are looking to provide a fresh innovation and energy to a sport that is a great sport. We think we can enhance and better it."

Hamilton did not improve in 2017 – Rosberg

Hamilton did not improve said Rosberg
Hamilton did not improve said Rosberg

(GMM) Nico Rosberg does not think Lewis Hamilton upped his game in 2017.

One year ago, Rosberg beat his then Mercedes teammate Hamilton to the 2016 world championship and promptly retired.

He is back in Abu Dhabi in 2017, but this time only as a pundit for German television RTL.

When asked if he agrees with the perception that Hamilton upped his game to win his fourth title this year, Rosberg shook his head.

"I know what level he was driving at last year and I'm probably the best judge of that," the German told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper. "I would say no. I don't think he could have improved.

"During the season he had his strong and weaker moments, and like I did last season, Sebastian (Vettel) tried to use those weaknesses. But the difference this year was that unlike in 2016, Lewis did practically all of Mercedes' wins.

"Last year we drove at such a high level throughout the season that Valtteri (Bottas) had a very difficult job to try to continue in the same way," Rosberg added.

Rosberg said he is more impressed with how Mercedes survived the 2017 rule change to hang on to its drivers' and constructors' titles.

"To survive a rule change like that with such dominance is very, very rare in formula one," he said. "It was the next step to legendary status (for Mercedes)."

Rosberg said Ferrari's surge in performance this year was also impressive.

"You have to see their performance increase as a kind of miracle," he said.

"There was confusion in 2016, a big change of personnel — they were in no man's land," he said.

Therefore, he said Ferrari's collapse in reliability towards the end of this year was "normal", because the Italian team was simply "on the limit" of what is possible in F1.

As for himself, Rosberg said he is comfortable with his decision to have beaten Hamilton a year ago and simply retired.

"I became champion because I looked at everything outside the car and worked on them very hard," he revealed.

Rosberg said he didn't want to continue with that level of intensity, "So in that case you're better off stopping completely".

However, he admitted he would be tempted to at least test a current F1 car, adding: "On the other hand, I am very grateful that I have survived my formula one career without injury."

Alonso denies losing F1 focus

Brown and Alonso shake on a new commercial deal
Brown and Alonso shake on a new commercial deal

(GMM) Fernando Alonso has denied he is spreading himself too thin across other disciplines.

Last year, Alonso did the Indy 500, next year Daytona and Le Mans are on the cards, he has a kart track back in Spain, and his new fashion brand Kimoa has now become a multi-year McLaren sponsor.

The 36-year-old denies he is spreading his focus too thin.

"No. The key is the concentration when you lower your visor," he is quoted by Marca sports newspaper.

"In the car you always return to your environment and can concentrate without problems."

McLaren boss Zak Brown also dismissed the notion that Alonso is slowly withdrawing his focus from F1.

"We have the basis for a long-term agreement," he told AS newspaper. "Next year will not be his last year, for sure.

"I would like Fernando to finish his career with McLaren and then I think he will keep driving.

"There are some drivers like Nico Rosberg who simply stop. I think for Lewis it will be the same.

"But I think Fernando is one of those rare drivers like Mario Andretti who will want to race in other categories," Brown explained.

"He may be 36, but his body is only 22. I think he has a lot of time to keep driving."

Sainz Jr. hopes Kvyat returns to F1

If his check is large enough Kvyat will be back in F1
If his check is large enough Kvyat will be back in F1

(GMM) Carlos Sainz Jr. says he hopes Toro Rosso refugee Daniil Kvyat finds a new home in F1.

Having scaled to the height of Red Bull's driver program, Russian Kvyat has been ousted by the energy drink company altogether.

"I saw Daniil once after Austin but I haven't heard from him since and I don't know what his plans are," Renault driver Sainz, who started 2017 alongside Kvyat at Toro Rosso, told the Russian broadcaster Match TV.

Kvyat, 23, has been linked with the Williams seat for 2018, but it is expected that Robert Kubica will take that place.

"I wish him (Kvyat) all the best as he deserves to be in formula one," Sainz said.

"He always pushed me so I hope he gets a new chance."

Grosjean happy with Magnussen as teammate

Grosjean and Magnussen - two backmarkers for the un-American Haas team
Grosjean and Magnussen – two backmarkers for the un-American Haas team

(GMM) Romain Grosjean has backed the Haas team's current driver lineup.

There have been rumors the American squad is under pressure from technical partner Ferrari to accommodate Antonio Giovinazzi next year.

But Frenchman Grosjean is under contract, as is Kevin Magnussen, who has become known among his rivals as the "bad boy" of the grid.

"I think the team has worked really well this year and the relationship with Kevin is quite good," Grosjean told Ekstra Bladet newspaper.

"Actually it's the best I've had with a teammate," he added.

He said that all together, Haas has done a good job in 2017, trailing sixth place in the championship by only a handful of points.

"The second year for a new team is always the hardest," said Grosjean, "so I think we've done a really good job.

"We are in the final race with the chance to become sixth in the championship, and when you consider that three teams are untouchable, that's quite good.

"As a driver you don't even look when you're outside the top five or six, so that doesn't matter to me, but for the team it means more prize money and that means more car development," Grosjean added.

F1 tests new microphone to improve engine sound

George Russell tested a microphone on his Force India to compensate for the horrible F1 engine sound
George Russell tested a microphone on his Force India to compensate for the horrible F1 engine sound

(GMM) F1 is working to turn up the engine volume for the sport's television viewers.

After earlier efforts to amplify the actual engine note for the trackside spectators failed, Liberty Media now has a new approach.

Auto Bild claims that instead of trying to make the 'power units' actually louder, the new idea is simply to improve the sound for those watching television.

To that end, a specially-developed, heat-resistant microphone was placed very close to the exhaust of the Force India cars in Abu Dhabi as a test.

The German report claims that the F1 microphone project has been aided by a Hollywood sound engineer who worked on the films Rush and The Fast and the Furious.

"The engine noise sounded more authentic and raw," the report concluded, revealing that earlier versions of the mic were tested in Austin, Mexico and Brazil.

An official working on sound for F1 commented: "The new version is not quite finished. We have discovered that a wind deflector improves the sound even more."

F1 cars set to feature 360-degree cameras
Formula 1 is planning to introduce 360-degree onboard cameras onto each car from the 2018 season, as part of Liberty Media's ambitions to enhance the spectacle for worldwide television viewers.

Formula 1 has featured onboard cameras for decades and broadcasters have analyzed several different mounting points over the course of time, to provide a variety of angles.

Technology partner Tata Sports trailed 360-degree cameras at the Singapore Grand Prix, one trackside and one in the paddock, to evaluate the speed of data transfer to the live feed.

Previously, 360-degree footage has required a delay of around 30 seconds, preventing its widespread introduction in sport, but technological advancements have facilitated the move.

The cameras, which will be around the size of a golf ball, are due be mounted on the top of the chassis, in front of the new 'halo' device, for 2018.

Force India technical chief Andrew Green described the camera as "very impressive" and confirmed that it will be mandatory on all cars.

"There is a 360-degree camera being added to next year's car, on top of the chassis, which will give a different perspective of things," revealed Green.

"It will be just in front of the halo, giving you the 360-degree video."

Green admitted that the halo will negatively impact other camera views.

"We know where the cameras are [for 2018]," he commented.

"The only new position that's going to occur because of the halo is the high-speed camera position, which is the one that looks at the driver in the event of an accident, which I don't think is footage that is readily available, or happens that often, to be honest.

"The other camera views around the halo are slightly more obstructed because of the halo – they are not an improvement, so they're not enhanced."

Vettel: No need for drastic set-up changes

Nothing to change for the Ferrari, they can't beat the Mercedes anyway
Nothing to change for the Ferrari, they can't beat the Mercedes anyway

Sebastian Vettel believes Ferrari does not need to undertake many changes prior to Saturday's qualifying session in Abu Dhabi, following a competitive display on Friday.

Vettel led the way in first practice at the Yas Marina Circuit before placing second to Lewis Hamilton in the second 90-minute session, which took place in representative day/night conditions.

Vettel's Ultra Soft effort left him 0.149s behind World Champion Hamilton but the German says that Ferrari has begun the weekend in the correct manner.

"This was a good day", said Vettel, a three-time victor of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

"The car and the balance were good and I think we were all very close.

"If we can do the usual step forward on Saturday and improve the car a little bit, then it should be a good day, but I don't think we need to do too much.

"It is important to finish this season in the right way, because the better the result, the better the mood within the team.

"Saturday is always particular and different, but we'll see what happens. We need to get everything right."

Kimi Raikkonen, meanwhile, trailed Vettel in both sessions, and classified fourth overall at the conclusion of running.

"For sure there are things we have to improve; there is some work to be done, but that's the normal story," he said.

"Today, it was not easy to put a good lap together; the car felt very good in some places, while in some others it could have been better."

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