Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Alonso gave Hamilton a run for his money in Mexico. He hopes to make Hamilton's life difficult in 2018
    Alonso gave Hamilton a run for his money in Mexico. He hopes to make Hamilton's life difficult in 2018

    Hamilton title win 'very easy' – Alonso

  • Marchionne slams Ecclestone 'hogwash'
  • Briatore backs Liberty's budget cap
  • Hamilton feels he won title in 'horrible way'
  • Vettel: Hamilton deserves 2017 F1 title
  • Verstappen hails 'perfect' reply to penalty
  • Ocon: Podium was possible without VSC

Hamilton title win 'very easy' – Alonso
(GMM) Despite a difficult race in Mexico, Lewis Hamilton cruised to an "easy" championship win in 2017.

That is the view of Fernando Alonso, who put up a strong fight against the Briton's Mercedes on Sunday as Hamilton battled through the pack after a first lap puncture.

"I think Lewis now knows how good the McLaren is in the corners," Spaniard Alonso said afterwards.

"Hopefully I can race him more often next year," he added.

Earlier in 2017, Hamilton and his championship rival Sebastian Vettel were locked in a close fight, but the Ferrari driver's challenge collapsed in Asia.

"It was very easy for him," said Alonso, referring to the new four-time world champion Hamilton.

"He had no opponent. Last year he had to chase Nico (Rosberg) right until the last race, but now Mercedes secured the constructors' championship four races before the end and Hamilton is champion in the third to last race," he added.

"That's too easy, but hopefully we can change that as McLaren-Renault," Alonso smiled.

German Vettel was visibly gutted as his championship challenge ended mathematically on Sunday, but he said Hamilton was "generally better" in 2017.

But when asked if the Briton simply had a better car, he answered: "I don't like that question.

"I do not want to downplay in any way the success that he deserves," added Vettel.

Now, the pair are shaping up for another title battle in 2018, with Hamilton ruling out a Rosberg-like eleventh-hour decision to quit F1 as champion.

"Obviously I could do the easy thing like Nico did which is just stop and retreat with these four title," said Hamilton.

"But I think there's more in me, more to come, more of a challenge and harder times ahead and I like that, I love that," he added.

And as Max Verstappen's easy win on Sunday showed, Red Bull might also join the Mercedes versus Ferrari title battle in 2018.

"I like a three-way fight and even McLaren with the Renault engine could be there as well," said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.

"Clearly Verstappen is a guy with a future and a very fast car."

Marchionne slams Ecclestone 'hogwash'

Sergio marchionne probably wishes Ecclestone would stick to pulling weeds in his garden
Sergio Marchionne probably wishes Ecclestone would stick to pulling weeds in his garden

(GMM) Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne has hit back at Bernie Ecclestone following the former F1 supremo's controversial comments of last week.

Marchionne said the newly 87-year-old Ecclestone's claim that Ferrari received help to be more competitive from the former F1 boss, the FIA and even Mercedes is "hogwash".

"I think it's called pure hogwash," said the Italian-Canadian.

Ecclestone had claimed Ferrari got help from several parties over the years to succeed, but Marchionne hit back: "I think Bernie has to thank Ferrari for giving him the chance to run formula one and, thanks to our assistance, become a billionaire.

"God bless him. He has done so much for this sport, but also Ferrari did so much for formula one," he added.

Marchionne's comments come as Ecclestone's accusations of Ferrari-Mercedes collusion deepen.

Forbes' F1 business journalist Christian Sylt has now published a 2016 statement from Ecclestone that quotes the diminutive Briton as saying: "Ferrari, with help from Mercedes, have caught up.

"Between them … they control the championship. The only competition is between Mercedes and Ferrari," Ecclestone added.

"Who knows what agreement there was or is for now to help Ferrari."

Marchionne has also hit out at Chase Carey, who is Ecclestone's successor. The Ferrari president warns that Maranello will not automatically sign up for Liberty Media's post-2020 vision of formula one.

"If we do things well, I'm willing to talk about anything," he said.

"But if we start making formula one just a cheap business deal, I'm not interested," added Marchionne.

"One must be rational — F1 is still part of Ferrari's history and I have every intention of protecting its involvement in the sport. But not at any cost or purely for commercial reasons.

"There is a noble aspect to formula one — it's a sport unlike the others so it cannot be commercialized like everything else," Marchionne added.

Finally, the Ferrari chief referred to Sebastian Vettel losing the 2017 world championship and said heads at Maranello "are already in 2018".

"The important thing now is to have learned the maximum possible from what we did wrong this year," said Marchionne.

"Last night I spoke with (Mercedes CEO) Dieter Zetsche and despite being ruthless competitors on the track, we are friends. He acknowledged that we had bad luck this year and there would be different results if what happened in Asia didn't happen."

Briatore backs Liberty's budget cap

Briatore And Wife Elisabetta Gregoraci
Briatore And Wife Elisabetta Gregoraci

(GMM) Flavio Briatore thinks F1's new owners Liberty Media are doing the right thing to modernize the sport.

Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne has told the Italian press he is prepared to "fight" for Maranello's interests, as rumors gain speed of simpler engines, limited budgets and standardized parts to close the field in the future.

"I still watch everything," said former F1 team boss and Bernie Ecclestone confidante Briatore, speaking to Germany's Bild newspaper.

"I am especially watching what the new owners are doing differently. It had to happen," he added.

"Ross Brawn called me in the spring and we agreed that the driver should be back in the spotlight and that it should no longer be an engineering world championship.

"It's going in the right direction," the flamboyant Italian said.

A headline proposal by Liberty Media is a budget cap, with Marchionne declaring that he is prepared to "fight" for Ferrari's interests in imminent forthcoming meetings.

But Briatore said it is actually "high time" F1 introduced a budget cap.

"The fans do not care about the budgets," he insisted.

"I was with Fernando Alonso at the Indy 500 this year where a top car costs $10 million for an entire season. That's a twentieth the cost of F1 but the show is better," Briatore said.

As for Ecclestone's clashes with his successors at Liberty Media, Briatore thinks the 87-year-old's sudden removal as chief executive caught the Briton by surprise.

"It was unpredictable," he said.

"We are old friends and talk almost every day, not only about formula one but also about business and life.

"I assure you that Bernie is doing very well. Better than most people think," said Briatore.

"He enjoys life, works a lot about his coffee plantation in Brazil, and enjoys life with his wonderful wife Fabiana."

As for his old friend Michael Schumacher, however, Briatore is less chirpy.

"I'm not in direct contact with the family," he said, "but I'm very worried.

"I always try to talk to people who are close to him. I do not want to talk about it, but I'm very sad."

Finally, Briatore referred to Fernando Alonso, another former charge. He has admitted the Spaniard made mistakes with his career moves, but at least has a huge annual retainer to ease the frustration.

"You can only put it (the frustration) away with money," smiled Briatore, who reportedly rubbed his thumb and index finger together as he answered.

"It is certainly a kind of compensation."

Hamilton feels he won title in 'horrible way'

A horrible way? Lewis you won how many poles and how many races?
A horrible way? Lewis you won how many poles and how many races?

Lewis Hamilton feels that he clinched the 2017 world title in a "horrible way" after coming home ninth at the Mexican Grand Prix, having previously expressed a desire to seal it with another victory.

Hamilton, who qualified third at the Aut¢dromo Hermanos Rodríguez, went wheel-to-wheel with title rival Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen at the start of Sunday's race.

In a dramatic opening sequence of corners, Verstappen overtook Vettel around the outside of Turn 1, with Hamilton getting a run on Vettel into Turn 2, after which the trio made contact.

Vettel damaged his front wing as he tagged Hamilton's rear-right tire and inflicted a puncture, forcing both men back to the pits, as Verstappen, escaping contact, stormed to victory.

Vettel needed to finish either first or second to keep his titles hopes alive but could only recover to fourth, with Hamilton taking ninth, via a late scrap with Fernando Alonso.

Hamilton duly secured a fourth crown, moving ahead of Sir Jackie Stewart as the most successful British driver in terms of titles, but admitted he had hoped for better circumstances.

"It was a horrible way to do it, to be honest, but what could I do?" Hamilton commented.

"I told you I wasn't going to go easy at Turn 1, and I don't think I was too aggressive or anything like that. I placed my car in just the perfect position. I left a lot of space for the car behind

"'Still I rise' and that's all I'm going to say, I kept going and I kept pulling back."

He added: "It was unusual, being 40 seconds behind is horrible, it's like being in no-man's land, but you just have to keep looking forward to the future.

"I had no idea what was going to happen with the championship.

"I was just thinking about moving further up and getting involved in the race, and this is such a difficult track, if not the worst track, to follow [other cars], so trying to get past people was a disaster.

"To be honest, the feelings are a real mix right now."

Asked how many titles will be 'enough' for him in Formula 1, he responded: "Well, I just kind of feel you should take it one day at a time – I'm really happy with this fourth.

"I'm really going to have to take some time to think about it, but I'm proud of the flag and everyone that represents it and I hope those that are watching are happy with this year's result.

"I'll continue to rise as high as I can."

Vettel: Hamilton deserves 2017 F1 title

Hamilton waves to cheering crowd
Hamilton waves to cheering crowd

Sebastian Vettel says Lewis Hamilton has done a "superb job" in Formula 1 this season and is fully deserving of the 2017 championship.

Vettel led the standings through to the Italian Grand Prix, having won four races over the opening half of the campaign, but his title challenge unraveled amid a spate of incidents and reliability issues.

Vettel entered the Mexican Grand Prix with a 66-point deficit to Hamilton and needed to secure a top-two finish, with Hamilton enduring a difficult race, in order to keep his hopes alive.

Both Vettel and Hamilton were compromised on the first lap when the pair made contact, with Vettel sustaining front-wing damage and Hamilton receiving a rear-right puncture.

Both pitted, effectively ending Vettel's title chances, though he recovered to fourth position, after running an aggressive two-stop strategy, while Hamilton came home ninth.

"It's not that important what we have done today, it's more important what Lewis has done," Vettel explained post-race.

"He's done a superb job all year round and deserves to win title, so congratulations to him.

"It's not about anybody else, it's about him, it's his day.

"I like racing with him, I would have liked a little bit more of that this year, but overall they were just the better bunch."

When asked if he had any regrets over how the year had panned out, Vettel replied: "What does it matter now?"

Vettel and Hamilton embraced in the post-race press pen, with the Ferrari driver congratulating his Mercedes rival on securing the crown.

Verstappen hails 'perfect' reply to penalty

Verstappen was dominant
Verstappen was dominant

Max Verstappen hailed a "perfect" response to his penalty last time out in the United States as he stormed to victory in Sunday's Mexican Grand Prix.

Verstappen snatched third from Kimi Räikkönen on the final lap in Austin but was demoted to fourth after the stewards deemed that he left the track and gained an advantage.

He arrived at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez apologetic for a post-race outburst, but adamant that he still deserved a podium, and bounced back with a rapid display.

Verstappen, having topped final practice, narrowly missed out on pole position, but overhauled Sebastian Vettel at the start, via a wheel-to-wheel scrap at Turn 1.

He went on to dominate proceedings, finishing almost 20 seconds clear of nearest rival Valtteri Bottas, as he took his third victory in Formula 1.

"Of course, the start was very crucial," said Verstappen.

"I went around the outside, which worked out well, and from there on I was just basically looking after the tires – the car performed brilliantly in the race.

"A big thanks to Red Bull, because without them this was not possible.

"After last week, this is a perfect race."

Verstappen's team-mate, Daniel Ricciardo, retired early on with another suspected power unit issue, having climbed into the top 10 following a grid penalty.

"Friday we were strong, yesterday afternoon something happened and from there on it got worse," said Ricciardo, referring to his qualifying struggles.

"My turbo made weird noise and when I got back onto the throttle I didn't have the power.

"This evening I will go to the gym and release some testosterone, some energy."

Ocon: Podium was possible without VSC

Esteban Ocon was quick all weekend
Esteban Ocon was quick all weekend

Force India's Esteban Ocon believes he would have been able to secure his maiden Formula 1 podium in Mexico without interference from the Virtual Safety Car.

Following the opening lap contact between frontrunners Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, Ocon moved into third place, behind Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas.

With Kimi Räikkönen recovering from a poor start, the Ferrari driver became the main threat to Ocon's podium chances as the race developed.

Ocon made his pit-stop first in order to cover the threat from Renault's Nico Hülkenberg and team-mate Pérez, with Räikkönen opting for a longer stint.

However, when the VSC was deployed for Hülkenberg's retirement, Räikkönen avoided losing time during his pit-stop to comfortably maintain third.

Ocon eventually lost another spot to a recovering Vettel, and had mixed feelings over fifth, despite equaling his best Formula 1 result.

"I'm a little bit disappointed, but happy at the same time," admitted Ocon.

"I was P3 for so long, took a great start, managed to just stay out of trouble and then gain from the others, and that's what we did.

"I was P3 for so long and I really believed in it, but it was the maximum we could've done today and also the luck wasn't totally with us with the Virtual Safety Car.

When asked if he believed he would have been able to keep Räikkönen at bay, he responded: "It would've been close, but I think so.

"You know, you cannot predict the future. I mean, we did the optimum strategy we could today, and there was nothing left."

His result, along with a seventh place finish for Sergio Pérez, means that Force India has secured fourth place in the Constructors' Championship.

Leave a Reply