Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Brendon Hartley's check isn't large enough to buy his Toro Rosso seat for 2018 yet
    Brendon Hartley's check isn't yet large enough to buy his Toro Rosso seat for 2018

    2018 Hartley deal not set in stone

  • Pirelli staff targeted by robbers in latest Brazil attack
  • Sao Paulo mayor plays down F1 violence
  • Alonso 'not my mentor' – Vandoorne
  • Abu Dhabi test for Kubica not yet confirmed
  • Verstappen not seeking 'number 1' status
  • Honda switch should have Toro Rosso 'worried' – Alonso
  • Lauda 'worried' about Liberty's F1 vision
  • Verstappen wanted to pit for fastest lap
  • Vettel thought he had 'missed chance'

2018 Hartley deal not set in stone
(GMM) A 2018 deal to race for Toro Rosso is not yet set in stone for Brendon Hartley.

One media source reported from Brazil that while Pierre Gasly is definitely set to drive for the junior Red Bull team next year, a similar deal for New Zealander and sports car champion Hartley is not quite done.

However, Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost admits: "There is a high possibility that this will be the driver lineup for 2018."

To put that deal beyond doubt, Hartley's father Bryan is set to travel to Abu Dhabi for the 2017 F1 finale in two weeks.

"Once we all find out what's going on and there's something to be announced, then there will be an official announcement," Hartley snr told the New Zealand media source Stuff.

Pirelli staff targeted by robbers in latest Brazil attack

Massa said he won't live in his own country of Brazil because it is too unsafe
Massa said he won't live in his own country of Brazil because it is too unsafe

Brazilian Grand Prix organizers are likely to face further questions about why security was such a failure at last weekend’s event – following another attack on Sunday night.

Less than 48 hours after Mercedes team members were subject to a terrifying armed robbery, and despite promises of a heightened police presence around the track, a car being driven by Pirelli tire fitters was targeted by robbers.

It is understood that the criminals attempted to force the Pirelli car to stop so it could try to rob the people inside – but luckily the tire company’s staff were able to escape.

Although nothing was stolen, and all the Pirelli crew were uninjured, the incident will prompt unease among F1 members because there had been promise of extra police around the Interlagos venue.

Over the Brazilian GP event, Mercedes, Williams, and Sauber team members were subject to attacks, while officials from the FIA were also approached by armed robbers before being able to escape.

Lewis Hamilton was left especially frustrated by the way in which there had been repeated incidents over the Brazilian GP, despite it being clear that more needed to be done by the police.

“The most frustrating thing is that I’ve been in Formula 1 for 10 years and every single year that has happened to somebody in the paddock, and it continues to happen," he said.

“It’s an issue I’m sure the government here are fighting, but I think maybe on this weekend, there are protocols that should be put in place to help, like for example when we go to Mexico, which weren’t there for these guys.

“So I hope that moving forwards, and I think moving forwards, there will be those. And I think it should be for the whole paddock. That’s partly F1’s responsibility, but generally the people at the top need to take action to keep everyone safe.

“It’s no good just the bosses having security and myself having security. People need to be looked after."

Security for this week's planned Pirelli tire test at Interlagos, which is to be conducted by McLaren, is now being discussed.

Sao Paulo mayor plays down F1 violence

An alarming number of F1 team members were mugged this past weekend. Sao Paulo is a very unsafe place to go.
An alarming number of F1 team members were mugged this past weekend. Sao Paulo is a very unsafe place to go.

(GMM) Sao Paulo mayor Joao Doria has played down the violence that marred this year's Brazilian grand prix.

After robbery attacks on Mercedes, Williams and FIA staff earlier at Interlagos as team staff travelled to and from the circuit, the next victim late on Sunday were members of Sauber.

"As we came to the circuit today, there were so many police it looked as though civil war had broken out," said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.

Local mayor Doria admitted he had ordered the security crackdown, but defended Sao Paulo.

"What has happened cannot be justified," he is quoted by DPA news agency, "but I've seen worse cases at other race tracks.

"It was the first time we had a case of such seriousness," the mayor added.

Sao Paulo native Felipe Massa had been critical of the situation this year, saying Brazil must evolve as a country.

"We are going through difficult times," said the F1 veteran.

Mayor Doria responded: "I like Felipe very much, but circumstances like these have occurred on other racetracks in the world. And no one ever said he was ashamed to be from that country or to have that circuit.

"These are regrettable circumstances, but they can occur in any country," he told Globo.

Some insiders fear that the incidents of 2017 could be the death knell for Interlagos, with the city selling the circuit and Massa's retirement meaning there are no more Brazilians on the grid.

"I hope formula one stays in Brazil," Massa said. "This country is too important, having had so many drivers, so many world champions."

Mayor Doria is confident Brazil's place is secure.

"We have a contract until 2020 and whoever purchases the circuit must respect it.

"After that, we hope we can renew for another ten years," he added.

And when asked if the violent incidents of the past weekend might hurt negotiations for a post-2020 future, Doria answered: "No, because while bad things happening are unfortunate, it also means you make things better in the future."

Alonso 'not my mentor' – Vandoorne

Stoffel Vandoorne
Stoffel Vandoorne

(GMM) Stoffel Vandoorne says he does not need Fernando Alonso's help in formula one.

After a sluggish start, Belgian rookie Vandoorne is now regularly competitive alongside his McLaren teammate Alonso, who is arguably one of the best F1 drivers ever.

"He's probably the best reference in formula one," Vandoorne agrees.

"I have a good relationship with him, even if there is a lot of competition, which is normal.

"We do not have a strong package this year, but it has been positive for me because I had the chance to get quite close to him," he added.

But Vandoorne, 25, said it is wrong to compare his relationship with Alonso to Felipe Massa's with Lance Stroll at Williams this year.

Vandoorne insists Alonso was not his "mentor".

"No!" he told Brazil's Globo.

"Of course we work together on the same team and in the same direction, but he does not stand next to me helping.

"We are very open and have normal conversations when we are out of the car," Vandoorne added. "But he is not there to be my mentor.

"Maybe Lance needs this, I don't know."

Abu Dhabi test for Kubica not yet confirmed

Kubica's check has not cleared yet - he needs to buy his test
Kubica's check has not cleared yet – he needs to buy his test

(GMM) A test for Robert Kubica in Abu Dhabi is not quite set in stone.

Earlier, Williams boss Paddy Lowe admitted the Pole would "almost certainly" get a run in the team's 2017 car in the forthcoming post-grand prix test.

But he has now told the Finnish broadcaster C More: "That's not quite right."

However, another Finnish source – MTV – insists that Kubica, the former BMW and Renault driver, is very close to securing a full-time Williams contract to race in 2018.

In fact, a French broadcaster reported from Interlagos on Sunday that the deal is even signed.

"According to MTV Sport, however, while the agreement is very close, the details are still being defined," the Finnish report said.

Kubica last raced in F1 in 2010, shortly before almost severing his forearm in a near-fatal off-season rallying crash.

Verstappen not seeking 'number 1' status

Verstappen is a massive 42 points behind his teammate Ricciardo
Verstappen is a massive 42 points behind his teammate Ricciardo

(GMM) Max Verstappen says he does not want to be Red Bull's 'number 1' driver.

With the Dutchman all signed up through 2020 but Daniel Ricciardo still yet to ink a new deal, some believe Red Bull is clearly building the team around Verstappen for the future.

But even Australian Ricciardo doesn't see it that way.

"For me, Max's new contract doesn't change anything," he said. "And as long as I don't feel disadvantaged, everything is fine for me.

"I don't want to put any suspicions in my head when it's not necessary," he is quoted by Speed Week.

"I can understand the marketing value of Red Bull making Verstappen the youngest champion, but I don't see that as an obstacle for me," Ricciardo, 28, added.

And even Verstappen, 20, said a situation of full equality at Red Bull is no problem for him.

"I can see that we receive equal equipment and both sides of the garage work equally hard," he said.

"I don't want to be number 1 because I have to be able to beat my teammate with the same car. And the bottom line is that it is more satisfying anyway."

Honda switch should have Toro Rosso 'worried' – Alonso

If Alonso would stop running so much downforce and drag in his McLaren maybe it would be faster down the straights
If Alonso would stop running so much downforce and drag in his McLaren maybe it would be faster down the straights

(GMM) Toro Rosso should be "seriously worried" about its forthcoming future with Honda power.

Actually, boss Franz Tost said he is confident Honda will sort out its problems over the winter and have a strong power unit to supply to the team next year.

And Tost also seems keen to put the Renault era behind him, given the scale of his dispute with Cyril Abiteboul in Brazil.

Some even fear Renault will withhold engines from Toro Rosso in Abu Dhabi, but advisor Alain Prost insisted: "Of course Toro Rosso will have engines from us in Abu Dhabi."

He also rejected Tost's insinuation that Renault might be deliberately sabotaging the equipment supplied to Toro Rosso.

"Renault has been involved in formula one for so many years, and we have always given everyone the same opportunities," he is quoted by Speed Week.

"We would never play dirty to win a place in the world championship."

As for Toro Rosso's Honda deal for 2018, though, Alonso thinks the team should be "seriously worried".

The Spaniard again enthused about his McLaren chassis at Interlagos, but said the power deficit on the straight lines was nothing short of shocking.

"The lack of power should be worrying for Toro Rosso next year," he said.

As for whether he is worried about switching to Renault, however, given the French marque's reliability problems of late, Alonso has no doubts.

"Renault is the best engine manufacturer in formula one of the last 15 years," he insisted. "They won more titles than anyone, so I'm not worried at all."

Lauda 'worried' about Liberty's F1 vision

Lauda thinks Brawn's idea of budget caps and more equality to bad for F1. Of course he says that, he wants Mercedes to keep dominating
Lauda thinks Brawn's idea of budget caps and more equality too bad for F1. Of course Lauda says that, he wants Mercedes to keep dominating

(GMM) Niki Lauda admits Liberty Media's vision of the future of formula one leaves him "worried".

In recent days, the sport's new American owners have outlined their plans for a new engine formula and team budget caps.

"I'm worried," F1 legend and Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"They needed time to figure out what F1 is, but that's about to expire and what they think about the future is worrying me," he added.

"Brawn says we need to level performance, but F1's DNA is the opposite," Lauda insisted.

"You're a fool if you think that to make the races more attractive you need to have a different winner every weekend."

However, Lauda does acknowledge that it is fair for Liberty to want to make engines available to teams for a lower price.

"Sure, and I'm sure we will find a satisfactory compromise," said the Austrian.

"The heart of the problem is the rise in costs and the decrease of revenue, but more than that, where do we want to go? We need ideas but I do not see them.

"I heard from Sean Bratches that we would like to see drivers accompanied to the track by kids. But is it a new idea to simply copy football?" Lauda added.

"The budget cap is logical and correct, but we need a three-year plan to implement it. Do you want us to send thousands of employees into the street?

"For now Liberty has only announced what it wants to introduce, but not how it intends to do it," Lauda added.

So the final question is whether Mercedes is prepared to join its track rival but political ally Ferrari in threatening to quit F1 over the Liberty vision?

"I don't think it's right to make threats," said Lauda, "but from September 2018 we have to decide how to increase revenue and reduce costs. Because it is worrying."

Verstappen wanted to pit for fastest lap

Verstappen wanted to bury Hamilton's fast lap time and he did - by 8/10th sec.
Verstappen wanted to bury Hamilton's fast lap time and he did – by 8/10th sec.

Max Verstappen says he pitted for a second time late in the Brazilian Grand Prix to push for the fastest lap, with his track position secure.

Verstappen had a lonely race at Interlagos, holding fourth, behind leaders Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Räikkönen, for the majority of proceedings.

As his tires dropped off, he was caught and passed by the recovering Lewis Hamilton, and likened his situation to driving on "rocks".

With a sizeable gap back to Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who was involved in a first-lap clash, Verstappen requested to pit for fresh Super Softs.

He duly lit up the timesheets, clocking a 1:11.044 on lap 64/71, some eight-tenths quicker than the next best time, posted by Hamilton.

Reflecting on his fifth-place finish, Verstappen said: "In general this is not a track that suits our car and together with the power deficit on the straights it is very hard for us.

"You then try and catch up on the corners, but you ask too much of the tires and get more drop-off.

"Of course, I hoped for more in the race, but it was a difficult situation, but I think we maximized the result and that was fifth.

"I didn't want to drive the last 10 or 15 laps with difficult tires and at the end of the day I wasn't going to lose a position, so we decided to make a second pit-stop.

"From there on the race was gone, but I pushed for the fastest lap, I didn't get it in Mexico, so I'm really pleased to take it here."

Ricciardo recovered from the back of the field to sixth after the incident involving Haas' Kevin Magnussen and McLaren-Honda's Stoffel Vandoorne.

Magnussen tagged Vandoorne into the right-hand element of the Senna 'S', with Vandoorne in turn thumping Ricciardo, who spun around at the exit.

"The start was not ideal," he said of the three-way scrap.

"I saw a space on the outside so I tried to get as much room as I could, but I knew there were two cars on the inside, so there was always a risk they would have contact and then come into me.

"I think that's what happened, but I don't regret trying… the start is an opportunity to make up a big chunk of positions and as I was nearly at the back I had to try something.

"Fortunately the car didn't suffer any damage, we just changed the tires and then I could get on with the race and make some good overtakes, and it was a good race.

"Every time I was catching a car I passed it as soon as I could and there were some good fights.

"It was nice to see the checkered flag and I felt I got the maximum out of it."

Vettel thought he had 'missed chance'

Vettel barely got down the inside of Bottas at the start
Vettel barely got down the inside of Bottas at the start

Sebastian Vettel says he initially thought he had missed his opportunity to pass Valtteri Bottas off the line, before making a race-winning move into the Senna 'S' at the start of the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Vettel lined up from second place on the grid but neither he nor Bottas made strong getaways, as they dueled for the lead into the Senna 'S'.

Vettel pulled alongside his rival on the run to the left-hander and edged clear, before preserving the advantage through the next sequence of corners, at which point the Safety Car was deployed.

Vettel bolted clear at the restart and preserved an advantage over Bottas through the remainder of the race to record his fifth win of the campaign, and first since the summer break.

"Initially I had a very good getaway and then I had some wheelspin," said Vettel.

"I thought, 'I've missed my chance', but then Valtteri was struggling even more so I really had a chance to squeeze down the inside.

"I think I surprised him a bit, which obviously is very crucial.

"I think after that we were pushing after the Safety Car for the remaining 65 laps flat out, I was trying to give everything to pull a little bit of a gap, to control the race from there.

"So I'm really happy, especially for all the guys and the team back in Maranello, they're working so hard.

"It's been a tough couple of weeks for us but it's nice to get it today and have both cars up here."

Vettel went on to describe his win as a "relief", after a sequence of events compromised by incidents and reliability setbacks, which derailed his title bid.

"I think for now it's been a great relief, it's been a very tough day, tough race," he said.

"I just spoke with Valtteri, I think the pace was all… we were all more or less the same, it was very difficult, no room for mistakes, really difficult to control the tires for the whole race."

Vettel is now 22 points clear of Bottas in the standings.

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