Latest F1 news in brief – Sunday

  • Old man Ecclestone threw a 'hand grenade' into the F1 paddock and Toto Wolff called it nonsense.
    Old man Ecclestone threw a 'hand grenade' into the F1 paddock and Toto Wolff called it nonsense.

    Wolff says Ecclestone collusion claims 'nonsense'

  • Hamilton 'best possible ambassador' for F1 – Carey
  • Tost, Sainz tip Kvyat to rebuild F1 career
  • Force India would release Ocon to Mercedes
  • No further action over Verstappen/Bottas
  • Ricciardo felt 'helpless' during qualifying
  • Gasly gets another penalty, FP3 woe

Wolff says Ecclestone collusion claims 'nonsense'
(GMM) Toto Wolff has described as "nonsense" claims that Bernie Ecclestone, the FIA and Mercedes have helped Ferrari to be more competitive.

The claims were made this week by none other than former F1 supremo Ecclestone himself, who said all parties benefit from a Ferrari team that is at the front.

Christian Horner, the Red Bull team boss, called it the "usual Bernie thinking".

"It's very clear that there's a very tight relationship between Ferrari and Mercedes," he said. "The way they operate in meetings, one won't lift the hand without the other one being in agreement these days.

"As for whether one has one has helped the other, I'd be surprised," added Horner.

Wolff, though, called the comments a usual Ecclestone-brand "hand grenade".

"Bernie is the only person who can throw a hand grenade from the other side of the world which lands in the paddock and explodes. I love his stories!" he said.

"I miss him stirring up meetings in this way but of course it's completely nonsense," the Mercedes team boss told Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

Hamilton 'best possible ambassador' for F1 – Carey

Hamilton is not only fast, he has a great personality
Hamilton is not only fast, he has a great personality

(GMM) Chase Carey says he is delighted with the likely outcome of Sunday's Mexican grand prix.

Although Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel could win from pole, it is Mercedes' Hamilton who is almost guaranteed his fourth career drivers' title.

"He is the best ambassador one can wish for in formula one," Carey, the new F1 chief executive, told Bild am Sonntag.

"He represents the sport in the best possible way."

He may be ruing the dramatic collapse in the head-to-head title fight between Vettel and Hamilton late this season, but Carey says Liberty Media is "completely satisfied" with its first year in charge.

"While month by month progress is important, what's more important is where we stand for 2020," said the American.

"That's when the long-term contracts expire and we can start with a new formula one."

But Carey says Liberty doesn't want to "reinvent" F1, but it will be made "for the fans again rather than for the teams".

"The engines must be louder and cheaper and not so complicated. And we need more action on the track," he insisted.

As ever, however, F1 politics is a murky world and Carey acknowledges that making all of the powerful players happy is difficult.

"There are some strong characters here," he said.

"But after my first year, I can see that everyone realizes that some things must change. The most important is that one or two teams cannot win everything."

But some people fear that the sort of Indy 500-style spectacle of the driver introductions in Austin will soon take precedence over the actual races.

"No, no — not at all," Carey insists. "The race will always be at the center. But a formula one race also has to be an unforgettable event in every country.

"I can imagine race weekends with Formula 3, Formula 2 and Formula 1," he added. "Then the young drivers get a lot of attention and can develop faster."

Carey also wants a few more races on the already bustling annual calendar, and will start by selecting "an Asian country" to replace Malaysia.

"And an extra race will be added in America in either Miami, New York or Las Vegas," he said.

Tost, Sainz Jr. tip Kvyat to rebuild F1 career

Franz Tost explains why Kvyat got the ax. However, everyone in the paddock thinks it was money - the Russian checks stopped coming
Franz Tost explains why Kvyat got the ax. However, everyone in the paddock thinks it was money – the Russian checks stopped coming

(GMM) Franz Tost and Carlos Sainz Jr. have tipped Daniil Kvyat to bounce back from his axe from the Red Bull program.

The young Russian quickly scaled the peak of the energy drink company's infamous junior program, but has now joined the scores of others who were ultimately ousted.

In contrast, his former teammate Carlos Sainz has graduated from Toro Rosso to a works Renault seat, and he admitted he feels bad for Kvyat.

"Of course," said the Spaniard.

"We grew up together from karts and finally made it to formula one. Now I hope he can have a future in F1 even without Red Bull," said Sainz.

Toro Rosso chief Franz Tost says the Red Bull camp and Kvyat simply fell out.

"I still regard Daniil as a high skilled driver," he told the Finnish broadcaster C More, "but this season simply did not go as it should have.

"There were many technical failures that were not his fault, but he also made some mistakes.

"We lost our trust in Daniil," Tost added, "and Daniil lost his confidence in the team. This is not a good basis for future cooperation.

"So we gave him the opportunity to not wait anymore so he can go to another team. I hope he does because he can perform well in the future. He is still very skilled and fast," the Austrian added.

Now, Toro Rosso is giving Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley a chance, with the pair almost guaranteed to keep their places into 2018.

"I look forward," Tost said. "Next year we have two drivers with experience. Don't forget that Hartley won Le Mans and the LMP1 championship and is still the fastest Porsche driver.

"And Gasly won GP2 last year and was close to winning the Super Formula championship this year in Japan. We have two fantastic drivers and I'm excited for next year," he added.

Sainz, meanwhile, defended the approach of the "very unique" Red Bull driver program.

"Without doubt it's the toughest school," he said.

"It's a school that can open all the doors for you, but it can also be over quickly.

"Yes it's hard, but if you want to succeed in formula one, you need a certain hardness. Without this pressure to constantly show your best performance, I might not have won the Formula Renault 3.5 title in 2014 which is how I got into F1.

"The pressure is enormous but that drives you to your best performance. Basically it's only about results, and that's what formula one is about, no?" said Sainz.

Force India would release Ocon to Mercedes

Esteban Ocon was sensational in qualifying, putting the Force India 6th n the grid. Recall Ocon beat Verstappen in F3 and is every bit as good.
Esteban Ocon was sensational in qualifying, putting the Force India 6th on the grid. Recall Ocon beat Verstappen in F3 and is every bit as good.

(GMM) Force India has acknowledged it may lose Esteban Ocon after 2018.

The impressive young Frenchman is staying alongside Sergio Perez next year, but he also remains part of the Mercedes driver program.

And with Valtteri Bottas having struggled at times in the second part of 2017, Mercedes could be looking to replace the Finn for 2019.

Asked what would happen if Mercedes come knocking for Ocon late next year, Force India sporting boss Otmar Szafnauer said: "We would release Esteban.

"He is a Mercedes driver," he told Auto Motor und Sport.

"Mercedes has financed his career and therefore they have a certain right to him. We would not want to deny him the chance to race in a top team for the world championship."

Until then, Force India is happy with its drivers but planning to add a regular third driver to the team for 2018, with a view to potentially replacing Ocon the year after.

"We did it successfully with Hulkenberg, di Resta and Liuzzi," Szafnauer said, amid rumors Daniil Kvyat could suddenly be a candidate to be the Force India reserve.

"They all became regular drivers after a testing year," he added.

No further action over Verstappen/Bottas

Father Jos and son Max Verstappen wait to hear about possible penalty. He was cleared.
Father Jos and son Max Verstappen wait to hear about possible penalty. He was cleared.

Max Verstappen has escaped a penalty after the stewards accepted that he did not impede Valtteri Bottas during Mexican Grand Prix qualifying.

Bottas, on a flying lap, approached Verstappen, on a slow lap, during the early stages of the Q3 phase at the Aut¢dromo Hermanos Rodríguez.

Verstappen moved to the left for Bottas at the exit of Turn 12, but Bottas' line appeared to be compromised, and he locked up into the following corner.

Stewards looked into the incident after the session and, while they noted that Verstappen's "slow" movement "could have affected" Bottas, did not view it as impeding.

"The stewards examined multiple angles of video evidence and radio calls to car 33, and heard from Max Verstappen, the driver of car 33, Valtteri Bottas, the driver of car 77 and the team representatives," read a stewards' statement, following the investigation.

"The driver of car 33 was clearly aware from the team radio and using his mirrors that car 77 was approaching on a hot lap.

"He moved from the racing line on the exit of Turn 12 to avoid impeding to car 77.

"The driver of car 33 did move slowly from the racing line which could have affected car 77, but the stewards do not consider this as impeding."

Verstappen will thus start second, with Bottas fourth.

Ricciardo felt 'helpless' during qualifying

Ricciardo was frustrated that his car was so much slower than his teammates
Ricciardo was frustrated that his car was so much slower than his teammates

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo admitted he felt "helpless" during qualifying for the Mexican Grand Prix as he struggled with tire warm-up throughout the three-stage session.

Ricciardo topped Friday's second session and was in the mix throughout a tightly-contested final practice session at the Aut¢dromo Hermanos Rodríguez, but did not figure at the front in qualifying.

While team-mate Max Verstappen challenged for pole position, winding up in second, Ricciardo mustered only seventh, having been edged out by Force India's Esteban Ocon.

"It was about… just being confused and not understanding what was going on," said Ricciardo.

"In terms of grip, we didn't touch the car, even from yesterday we left the car as it was, and every time we left the pits it just had no grip.

"We tried in Q3, we tried experimenting, doing an extra warm-up to try and give the tires something, but it just seemed like what I left the box with was the level of grip I had throughout the whole of qualifying.

"You know, sometimes, you get one set of tires that you can't turn on or don't warm up properly, so you might lose a bit of time, but every run was the same story so…

"I'm super frustrated and confused but I'm sure we'll find something, but it still doesn't make the session any easier to go through it was just… we couldn't really do anything."

Track temperatures were higher during qualifying compared to practice, a situation which Ricciardo admitted left him even more perplexed.

"I think the start compared to the morning was close to 20 [degrees] or something," said Ricciardo.

"That doesn't really explain the problems we had, if anything that should've helped our warm-up.

"If we figure it out and get the car back that we had for the rest of the weekend, I think we can still race up to a podium tomorrow.

"Understanding the last hour is what we've got to do because… obviously the adrenaline is slowly coming down now… I was… for sure I was angry, but just helpless, helpless in that qualifying."

Gasly gets another penalty, FP3 woe

Gasly never got on track Saturday
Gasly never got on track Saturday

Pierre Gasly's Mexican Grand Prix prospects have been dealt a further setback due to an impending 10-place grid penalty, which was followed by more mechanical woe in FP3.

Gasly, already facing a five-place drop due to taking on new Control Electronics, is set to receive another 10 places after Toro Rosso fitted a new MGU-H to his STR12.

As it is the first time a seventh version of the component has been used, a 10-place drop is impending, bringing his cumulative total to 15.

Gasly did not compete in FP1, as tester Sean Gelael drove his car, and undertook limited running in the second session due to a power unit problem.

The Frenchman then pulled to the side of the track during the early moments of FP3 after a puff of smoke emanated from his car.

Gasly attempted to restart the STR12, having received convoluted instructions from Race Engineer Marco Matassa, but was forced to abandon his car, and walked back to the pits.

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