Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Anyone who says they know how Schumacher is doing is likely blowing smoke up your posterior
    Anyone who says they know how Schumacher is doing is likely blowing smoke up your posterior

    Family friend says Schumacher 'doing well'

  • Wehrlein admits Williams 'only option' for 2018
  • Champion Hamilton caught cold after title win
  • Red Bull 'pretty clear' about engine future
  • Force India duo 'free to race' in Brazil – Perez
  • Bottas not ruling out Hamilton 'team orders'
  • Carey plays down Ferrari's NASCAR charge
  • Vettel slowly getting over 2017 title defeat
  • Force India would 'surprise' with budget cap
  • Massa hopes to continue racing in 2018
  • A deafening silence following Strategy Group meeting

Family friend says Schumacher 'doing well'
(GMM) There is still hope Michael Schumacher might one day return to a normal life.

In recent months and years, almost no official information has emerged about the health of the F1 legend, who sustained brain injuries in a 2013 skiing fall.

Now, Bunte magazine in Germany said the Schumacher family still has hope.

"Corinna and the children hope to this day that a medical miracle occurs," a supposed 'family friend' is quoted as saying.

The friend also said that, thanks to Schumacher's fitness at the time of his fall, the former Ferrari and Mercedes driver is "doing well in the circumstances".

Wehrlein admits Williams 'only option' for 2018

Pascal Wehrlein hoping to replace Massa
Pascal Wehrlein hoping to replace Massa

(GMM) Pascal Wehrlein has admitted Williams is his last hope of staying on the F1 grid for 2018.

The German does not deny reports that the Swiss team Sauber has decided to oust him after the Abu Dhabi finale.

"I think my sporting performance now has no effect," Wehrlein, 23, said.

"The races here and in Abu Dhabi will not be decisive. We will not score points and everyone knows that," he added.

"I would say that Williams is my only option for 2018," France's Auto Hebdo quotes him as saying in Brazil.

"I was told pretty early on that there would probably be no room at Sauber next year.

"And if I miss next season, then returning to formula one after that would be very difficult," Wehrlein added.

Wehrlein admitted that financial backing is a problem, amid Toto Wolff's recent claim that Mercedes cannot support a driver forever.

"If you do not have any sponsors, it's not possible to organize a cockpit today on your own. It doesn't work," he said.

"If my family could pay five to ten million it would be different, but they cannot."

Champion Hamilton caught cold after title win

Hamilton had a cold
Hamilton had a cold

(GMM) After wrapping up his fourth title two weeks ago, Lewis Hamilton has emerged in Brazil with a cold.

Sounding gruff, the Mercedes driver revealed that to celebrate his achievement, he took a group of friends to Peru where they climbed the iconic Machu Picchu.

"We landed and it was miserable," he said.

"We came through the darkest cloud and I was like 'What am I doing here?'

"It was raining, it was cold, and I got a cold," said Hamilton.

"I feel good again now. Even if my voice is still not great, I'm healthy," he insisted.

Red Bull 'pretty clear' about engine future

Look for Red Bull to get a Honda engine in 2019
Look for Red Bull to get a Honda engine in 2019

(GMM) Red Bull may already know what engine it will use in 2019.

Earlier in 2017, Max Verstappen was highly critical of the energy drink team and especially its struggling engine supplier Renault.

But although Red Bull will still have Renault power next year, the Dutchman has signed on for the 2018, 2019 and 2020 seasons.

It seems as though the team knows what power it will have beyond next year.

"We're pretty clear about what we're doing," top Red Bull official Dr Helmut Marko told Germany's Sky.

Among Red Bull's potential options for the future are Aston Martin, Honda and Porsche.

And Verstappen, who won in Mexico two weeks ago, also sounds upbeat about the future.

"Let's put it this way," he said in Brazil.

"For me the most important thing is the car. Any driver can win if he has a very powerful engine, and we don't have that, but we still win races."

Force India duo 'free to race' in Brazil – Perez

Look for Perez and Ocon to hit each other in Brazil
Look for Perez and Ocon to hit each other in Brazil

(GMM) Force India has lifted the standing team orders preventing Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon from going wheel-to-wheel in races.

Earlier this year, the Silverstone based team imposed the racing ban on its warring drivers after a spate of collisions.

"Here and also in Abu Dhabi we are free to race without team orders," Mexican Perez confirmed in Brazil.

He said he is happy with how the 2017 season went for Force India, who can no longer be beaten to a solid fourth place in the constructors' championship.

"It has been an incredible year," said Perez. "I am very proud of my team."

Bottas not ruling out Hamilton 'team orders'

Bottas knows Vettel's Ferrari is no match for the Aldo Costa designed Mercedes
Bottas knows Vettel's Ferrari is no match for the Aldo Costa designed Mercedes. He just has to learn how to drive it like Hamilton did

(GMM) Valtteri Bottas is targeting second place behind his teammate Lewis Hamilton in the 2017 world championship.

Sebastian Vettel was gutted in Mexico to have lost the title to Hamilton, but now it is the other Mercedes driver who is aiming to beat him in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.

"Yes, it is possible," the Finn told the C More broadcaster in Brazil.

"The difference is 15 points and 50 points are still available, but it requires some good races in the next two weekends.

"Of course it's not the same as fighting for a championship, but second is always better than third," Bottas added.

"Especially for the team, first and second is better than first and third," he said.

To that end, Bottas may expect Hamilton to fall in line as his 'number 2' in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.

But Bottas said: "It depends on the situation.

"Lewis has his own ambition, just like any other driver, so he wants to win the races even if his championship is safe.

"I'm not expecting anyone to completely ruin his race for me, so as I said it all depends on the situation."

Bottas also admitted that he did not attend Hamilton's post-race championship celebrations two weeks ago in Mexico.

"I was not involved," he said.

"I flew home straight after the race and didn't know or hear about the party."

Carey plays down Ferrari's NASCAR charge

Chase Carey dismisses Marchionne's comments
Chase Carey dismisses Marchionne's comments

Chase Carey and Greg Maffei have used a Liberty Media conference call today to refute Sergio Marchionne's claim that F1 faces being NASCAR-ised under the sport's new owners plans for its future.

While the Ferrari president's claim came in the wake of proposals for the 2021 engine formula, it is clear that this was really the opening gambit in a bitter struggle the sport faces as Liberty seeks to attract more fans and sponsors, and thereby rake in the money, by levelling the playing field. This will be done not only by introducing a spending cap but by dividing the prize pot more equally, a move that would benefit the likes of Force India and Sauber, but damage the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes.

Speaking today, both Carey and Maffei refuted Marchionne's claims.

"Actually I don't think we have a differing view to Ferrari," said Carey. "I'm not trying to be derogatory to NASCAR, but we don't plan to be NASCAR either.

"I think what was meant by that is, we don't want to standardise the cars. We don't want twenty identical cars going around the track and the only difference is the driver.

"F1 is unique," he insisted, "it marries up competitive sport to state-of-the-art technology. We want all the teams to have the ability to do what they do to create cars that are unique to them – unique engines to them, unique bodies to them. But we want to make success dependent on how well you spend your resources within some constraints, versus how much you spend. I think that's a healthier sport.

"Then those that can develop the technologies, develop the capabilities that are better than others, will enable them to succeed," he continued.

Ferrari is coming out with an SUV. Marchionne could put a big #3 on it and race it NASCAR style
Ferrari is coming out with an SUV. Marchionne could put a big #3 on it and race it NASCAR style

"But we want the cars to be unique, we want each team to have the ability to have a car that is unique to it, so I don't actually see it any differently."

Referring directly to the manufacturers, he said: "In terms of ‘win on Sunday, sell on Monday', that's always going to part of it and we want teams to compete to win, but we want all the teams to have a chance. It's never going to be equal, but over time we want all the teams to feel they have a fighting chance.

"Sports are built on the unexpected, so we want a sport that can expect the unexpected and that benefits… realistically, if somebody wins every race, every week, at the end of the day the sport's going to suffer. Sports are built on drama, uncertainty, the unknown; you need competition, you need the unknown, you need great finishes, you need great stories, you need great dramas.

"We've got to create that. That attracts more fans and thereby benefits all the teams. Our first priority is to make this better for us and the existing teams in it. I can understand that a team wants to win every race, but from our perspective what you want is that you're creating a sport that has that basic appeal to consumers of great action, unexpected results and the uncertainty that comes with live sports."

"I think there's an implied element of over exposure," added Maffei, "NASCAR is heading to 40 races alone in the US, there's no sense of exclusivity, no sense of uniqueness, and everything that we're trying to do, that Chase and his team are trying to do, is build on that exclusivity, built on that uniqueness, that excitement.

"I think we're far more aligned with some of the goals some of the teams have expressed publicly than they understand."

Vettel slowly getting over 2017 title defeat

Vettel knows there is a good chance the 2nd string Mercedes driver, Bottas, will push him down to third in the standings.
Vettel knows there is a good chance the 2nd string Mercedes driver, Bottas, will push him down to third in the standings.

Sebastian Vettel says he is determined to maximise the final two races of the season as he slowly gets over the "big disappointment" of missing out on the title.

Vettel and Ferrari challenged Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes for both titles over the first half of the campaign, but dropped back amid a troubled spell of Asian races.

Mercedes duly secured a fourth successive title in the United States, with Hamilton following suit a week later in Mexico, joining Vettel on four championships.

"Obviously time passes and that helps," said Vettel, speaking ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix.

"Mexico was a big disappointment, but here it's a different race and a new challenge, and for these last two Grands Prix we want to do everything really well as a team."

Vettel added that there will be plenty for Ferrari to take from its race-winning SF70H into next season, amid relatively stable regulations.

"We don't stop developing our car and this year we have improved it in order to give us advantages also for the future," he commented.

"Development is an ongoing process and, since the regulations don't change that much, there are many things we can learn from this season and carry over into next year."

Kimi Räikkönen echoed team-mate Vettel's sentiments.

"Although both championships are now decided, our aim is still the same; as at any other race, we are here to fight for the win and do the best we can," he said.

"At the end of the season we'll see where we end up."

Vettel holds second in the standings, 15 points clear of Valtteri Bottas, with Raikkonen fifth, 14 adrift of Daniel Ricciardo, and 30 ahead of Max Verstappen.

Force India would 'surprise' with budget cap

Force India prays for budget caps
Force India prays for budget caps

Force India would "surprise" rivals if Formula 1 introduces a budget cap in the future, given its current level of performance, reckons Esteban Ocon.

A budget cap is one of the areas being explored by the sport's new owner, Liberty Media, as part of a push to create "a healthy Formula 1 from top to bottom".

Formula 1 has attempted to introduce a cap on several occasions in the past, most recently for 2010, only for some teams to threaten to leave the sport.

However, discussions have ramped up again under Liberty's ownership, and Ocon believes that Force India, which has secured fourth in the standings for the past two seasons, would benefit greatly.

"I think that's a very good question," commented Ocon, when asked what he feels Force India would be able to achieve if Formula 1 chiefs introduce a budget cap.

"Honestly, if everyone had the same budget, I think some people would be surprised at what Force India can achieve. With the budget we have, what we are achieving is amazing.

"The level of work we are putting in is a lot, but at the end the level is there, and the performance is on track.

"Having a budget cap in Formula 1 would be nice!"

Force India's Deputy Team Principal, Bob Fernley, highlighted the financial gulf to the front of the field in an interview with GPUpdate.net last year.

"If you look at our budget, and you look at the budgets of the three teams in front of us, we're a minimum of 200 million a year difference," he explained.

"Can we compete with those teams on our budget? Probably not. But we've frightened a few in the past.

"I'm a great believer that you run the team lean and mean. You don't need to be throwing money at it to have results, and that's clearly proven.

"On the other hand, you still need to have a sizeable budget to be able to maintain that development process.

"I think as a whole Formula 1 overspends anyway, and we don't need to spend the amount of money, even what we're spending, to put on a good show."

Massa hopes to continue racing in 2018

Massa will race anything in 2018, just not IndyCars
Massa will race anything in 2018, just not IndyCars

Felipe Massa says he expects to compete elsewhere in 2018, after announcing his decision to retire from Formula 1 at the end of the season.

Massa, having delayed his Formula 1 exit in the wake of the unexpected end-of-2016 reshuffle, will bow out of the sport later this month, with Williams not offering any guarantees.

He explained earlier in the year that he felt DTM and LMP1 were "finished", due to the respective moves by Mercedes and Porsche respectively to focus on Formula E.

Massa sampled Formula E machinery at the start of 2017 and believes the category has an "important future", though all seats in the 2017/18 championship have already been taken.

Although in no rush to sort his future plans, the Brazilian emphasised that retiring from Formula 1 does not mean he is hanging up his helmet.

"It's part of my expectation to keep driving, to keep having fun on the track – that's what I've been doing since I was eight years old, that's also my job since a long time," he said.

"When you're driving and competing you really feel the emotion of doing your job or enjoying yourself.

"I really hope I can find a category that I can have fun, like I had in Formula 1 for very long.

"I will have enough time to think about it, to understand which is a good category to go to."

Massa's impending exit means there will be no full-time representation from a Brazilian driver for the first time since 1969, while the future of the Brazilian Grand Prix is regularly up in the air.

"I really hope Formula 1 stays forever in Brazil," Massa stressed.

"Definitely, Brazil is a very important country for Formula 1 – so many titles, so many drivers. I really hope Interlagos stays for a very long time in Formula 1 and anything I can give to help…

"It's true that we're suffering not an easy moment in Brazil, financially, but I think it's a very important event for Sao Paulo, it's a very important event for Brazil."

A deafening silence following Strategy Group meeting

Zak Brown usually leaks info to his Motorsport.com publication. He controls the media and its message.
Zak Brown usually leaks info to his Motorsport.com publication. He controls the media and its message.

When a motorsport news publisher's non-executive chairman also happens to be executive chairman of a leading Formula One team, or at least a member of the controversial Strategy Group, it is natural that you are going to enjoy the occasional scoop.

Which makes it all the more surprising that in the 48 hours since Tuesday's meeting of the group, at which Liberty Media was due to unveil some of its plans for the sport's future, there hasn't been a smidgen of news. Not the merest hint, far less the scoop of the century.

Consequently, one must assume that the meeting proved so controversial that all involved have been ordered to keep schtum on pain of repercussions should 'exclusives' start appearing online.

It's understood that Liberty Media's plans for the redistribution of prize money – the most controversial aspect of the sport's new owners programme – was put on hold for the time being, with Liberty instead seeking to focus on budget caps.

Just seven days earlier the proposed engine rules didn't go down too well, with Mercedes and Renault voicing their unease and Ferrari warning it may leave the sport.

Remember, this was just about the engine rules, the big stuff, the really big stuff, such as the likes of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari being told that their prize money is being drastically cut, is yet to come.

It would be absolutely pointless to try and second guess what happened on Tuesday, for besides the fact that there will be leaks over the Interlagos weekend, the major issue, that of prize money and bonuses, has yet to be discussed.

To add a little further spice to a weekend which should already provide plenty of action, Bernie Ecclestone will be popping in from his ranch, and the stirring won't be limited to the samples of his Celebrity Coffee he may hand out.

No, whatever Lewis, Max and Seb get up to on track this weekend, the real action will be taking place in the paddock. Pitpass

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