Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Hamilton will win in Mexico and wrap up his 4th title
    Hamilton will win in Mexico and wrap up his 4th title

    Hamilton wants title with Mexico win

  • Hulkenberg has 'no problem' with faster teammate Sainz Jr.
  • Liberty set to unveil 2021 engine rules
  • FIA expected Verstappen apology
  • Grosjean moves on after 'shut up' video
  • Sainz Jr. denies improving image after Renault switch
  • Ocon ups Mexico security after death threats
  • Alonso not denying Daytona could be Le Mans prelude
  • Verstappen hopes Ricciardo stays at RBR
  • Alonso, Vandoorne to get sizeable grid drops

Hamilton wants title with Mexico win
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton says he has no intention of playing it safe with a mathematical game in the Mexican grand prix.

Even if his championship rival Sebastian Vettel wins on Sunday, Mercedes' Hamilton only needs a fifth place finish to guarantee his fourth career title.

But Hamilton said in Mexico: "I want to win.

"I have no desire to come here, finish fifth and watch someone else stand on the podium."

Mercedes and even Hamilton's own teammate Valtteri Bottas say the British driver has been untouchable in 2017, particularly since the summer break.

Team boss Toto Wolff admits Nico Rosberg's shock retirement at the end of last year was ultimately a good thing.

"Looking back at the season and the structure we now have with Lewis and Valtteri, which has benefitted our overall team's performance and the drivers' performance, then yes," he confirmed.

Nonetheless, team chairman Niki Lauda said Mercedes needs to do a better job in giving Bottas a car he can more easily drive next year.

"It is our job to put a car on the track that makes Bottas' life easier," he said.

Hulkenberg has 'no problem' with faster teammate Sainz Jr.

Hulkenberg has met his match in Saniz Jr.
Hulkenberg has met his match in Sainz Jr.

(GMM) Nico Hulkenberg insists the arrival of his new teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. poses him "no problem".

Although the German had a less than smooth weekend in Austin, some believe Hulkenberg was outperformed by Sainz as the Spaniard made his Renault debut a week ago.

When asked how his first weekend alongside Sainz went, Hulkenberg answered in Mexico: "Well enough.

"He quickly got used to the team and was immediately able to show good speed."

But when asked if he likes the idea of having a more competitive teammate, after spending most of 2017 alongside Jolyon Palmer, Hulkenberg answered: "Well, it's good.

"No problem.

"As I said, Carlos almost immediately was able to show good speed and he's not only quick but he works a lot — which is good for us.

"The team always wins when both drivers help the team to move forward," he added.

Liberty set to unveil 2021 engine rules

Wolff is desperate to keep the MGU-H on the engine - it's where Mercedes have an advantage
Wolff is desperate to keep the MGU-H on the engine – it's where Mercedes have an advantage. Hence why everyone else wants it gone.

(GMM) Liberty Media is now mere days from revealing the 2021 engine rules to the F1 teams.

But despite that October 31 presentation date, there remains plenty of uncertainty in the paddock about what those regulations will actually be.

"Normally it's pretty well leaked," Force India boss Bob Fernley told Auto Motor und Sport, "but this time it's different.

"We know a little but not much. The new owners are keeping their cards face down."

What is known is that the 2021 engine will be based on the current 1.6 liter V6s and will definitely include an MGU-K.

But it is unclear if the MGU-H will still be in place, and whether there will be a single, larger or even twin turbo.

Mercedes' Toto Wolff said: "If we omit the MGU-H, we lose 60 per cent of the electrical energy. How will we get that back?"

Red Bull, however, argues that axing the complex MGU-H will mean independent suppliers like Ilmor and Cosworth can seriously consider entering F1.

"With MGU-H, we will not have those companies, and we definitely want them in the boat," said Dr Helmut Marko.

Whatever is presented early next week could be highly controversial, particularly as Liberty does not need the teams' approval for 2021 due to the expiring Concorde Agreement.

Mercedes' Niki Lauda said: "There is no point in being political now.

"They have decided something, they will tell us, we will listen, and then we will decide if it's good for us or not."

FIA expected Verstappen apology

Does he look sorry?
Does he look sorry?

(GMM) F1's governing body made clear in Mexico it wanted a public apology from Max Verstappen.

A week ago, the Dutch driver was believed to have been referring to Garry Connelly when he said a steward who repeatedly penalizes him was a "mongol" and "idiot".

He withdrew the 'mongol' insult, but amid reports the FIA wanted an apology, Verstappen stood by the other criticism.

"When you are unjustly taken off the podium after a race, it seems normal to me that you are angry," Verstappen is quoted by Algemeen Daghblad newspaper.

"Unfortunately I cannot change the word that I used."

F1 race director Charlie Whiting, however, hit back at the suggestion that one steward was responsible for the decision, saying all four officials in Austin voted for the penalty.

And he added: "Until now Max has not apologized. But it would be good if he did."

Verstappen later wrote on Instagram: "I once again apologize for the language that I used following the US grand prix.

"I know that the words I used were inappropriate and they were not directed at any one person."

Another US GP steward, former F1 driver Mika Salo, revealed this week that he received death threats from some of Verstappen's fans.

But Kimi Raikkonen rubbished the idea that Salo, a former Ferrari driver, had sided against Verstappen in order to get a fellow Finn on the podium.

"He (Salo) was also one of the stewards in Belgium," Raikkonen said in Mexico, "where I got the penalty for the silly yellow flag thing.

"I know how Max feels," the Ferrari driver added. "I have also received plenty of punishments which in my eyes were for nothing, but at some point you have to let it rest."

Grosjean moves on after 'shut up' video

Steiner told the whiny little Grosjean to shutup
Steiner told the whiny little Grosjean to shut up

(GMM) Romain Grosjean says he has moved on after being told to "shut up" during last Sunday's US grand prix.

The Haas driver has earned a reputation for complaining vociferously on the radio about his car and rivals.

In Austin, Grosjean asked to retire the car in the closing stages due to suffering tire problems, and was interrupted during one tirade by team boss Gunther Steiner who told the Frenchman to "shut up".

When asked about it, Grosjean said in Mexico: "I will not comment on anything.

"We solved the problem and everything is now in order.

"I will only say this — if you summarize everything I said over 30 laps in one video, it sounds very sharp.

"So I was a little shocked when I heard it because it was actually quite different.

"At one stage I was afraid for my safety, because one of the tires was completely worn out and the team didn't know because the sensor didn't work," Grosjean explained.

"But I have since discussed everything with Gunther," he added.

Sainz Jr. denies improving image after Renault switch

Carlos Sainz Jr. has to shave now
Carlos Sainz Jr. has to shave now

(GMM) Carlos Sainz Jr. has denied he has had to change his personal image after switching from Toro Rosso to Renault.

When driving for the Red Bull-owned team, the young Spaniard was mainly seen with scruffy hair, stubble and often a backwards-worn cap.

But suddenly, now that he is a works Renault driver, the 23-year-old is clean shaven, without a cap and with a fresh, clean and combed haircut.

Asked if he has been told to adhere to Renault's higher corporate standards, Sainz protested: "No!

"I shave every Thursday," he smiled in Mexico.

"I get my hair cut when I get my hair cut, but because I wear a cap, very few people notice.

"The fact is that negotiations about which cap I will wear – Renault or Red Bull – are still going on. So I think when you wear a cap, you can spend less time in front of the mirror," Sainz added.

He said a more important issue is the welcome he has got at Renault, including praise from his bosses like F1 legend Alain Prost.

"I know they are happy with the first race so I want to keep this level now," said Sainz.

"Alain Prost is a legend of the sport but also many drivers congratulated me because nobody knows better how hard it is to change teams," he added.

Ocon ups Mexico security after death threats

Perez's fans want Ocon dead
Perez's fans want Ocon dead

(GMM) Esteban Ocon has upped his security after receiving death threats ahead of the Mexican grand prix.

The Frenchman has been at war this year with his Force India teammate Sergio Perez, who is the local hero of this weekend's race in Mexico City.

And now there are reports that Ocon's security has been increased and his personal schedule tweaked after some of Perez's fans issued death threats for this weekend.

"It was necessary to take precautions to avoid problems," Ocon confirmed to RMC.

The report said the measures include a later than scheduled arrival in Mexico for Ocon, an armored car, a police escort and bodyguards.

A low-point of the weekend could be the drivers' parade, when it is expected Ocon will be booed, but the 21-year-old said: "As long as they don't throw rocks, it's ok."

L'Equipe quotes Ocon as saying: "I received many death threats since the Azerbaijan grand prix but today I have all the people I need for my safety.

"For now everything is fine and I hope it stays that way all weekend."

For his part, Mexican Perez said he has "respect" for his teammate Ocon.

"I don't think the fans will be bad to Esteban," he insisted. "I think they really like the sport and at the end of the day it's just a sport."

Alonso not denying Daytona could be Le Mans prelude
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has not denied that his prototype sports car debut next January could be a precursor to also racing at Le Mans in 2018.

The Spaniard will drive the LMP2 prototype fielded by McLaren boss Zak Brown's United Autosports team in the Daytona 24 hour.

Asked if that is good preparation for Le Mans, Alonso is quoted by the sports daily Marca: "Yes, it is an opportunity to try out a prototype, see how driving in a closed car is and test myself, as I did in Indianapolis."

But Alonso also said he simply enjoys racing.

"As I said in Austin, I would race every weekend if I could," he said.

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel wished Alonso well for his Daytona adventure, but admits he doesn't know much about that 24 hour sports car race.

"I don't even know which cars they really race there. I think it's mostly GT3 in Daytona?" he said.

Verstappen hopes Ricciardo stays at RBR

Best Buds
Best Buds

Max Verstappen says he hopes that Daniel Ricciardo will ultimately decide to continue at Red Bull beyond the 2018 season, after signing his own fresh deal last week.

Verstappen recently committed to Red Bull through 2020, following reports linking him to Ferrari and Red Bull, hailing a "really good atmosphere" inside the team.

Ricciardo himself is in no rush to settle his future, amid anticipated driver market fluidity in 2018, though stated that he has not said "no" to extending his stay.

Asked if he would like Ricciardo to remain alongside him at Red Bull, Verstappen commented: "That would be good, because the relationship is really good.

"Also, in the team there are not like two sides, it's like one big side, everybody can be happy for each other if somebody has a good result, which is also very important."

Pushed on the reported interest from Ferrari and Mercedes, Verstappen said: "I don't speak about those kind of things normally, but I feel good at the team.

"The improvements we made this year, I think they have been the most of the whole grid, especially the last few races we've been really competitive.

"I think how we are going to start next year will be better than how we started this year.

"I believe in the team, and what is also very important is that you have people around you who really support you, and they are good friends to you as well.

"There is just a really good atmosphere in the team, so why would I give that up?

"If we can sort out the horsepower deficit, then I'm sure that we can win races."

Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, commented that should Ricciardo leave Red Bull, he would be open to racing next to him again at Ferrari.

"I don't mind, I like Daniel," said Vettel, the pair having been team-mates at Red Bull.

"Obviously for next year things are sorted. You know, things can change quick, things cannot change quick – it depends on what's going on.

"It's not my choice, it's the team's choice, and in the end, if you are not prepared to race whoever it is, then what's the point in racing? That's the way I think.

"But it's not what I'm thinking about now."

Alonso, Vandoorne to get sizeable grid drops
McLaren drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne will both be hit with sizeable grid penalties at this weekend's Mexican Grand Prix, after taking on an array of new Honda power unit elements.

Alonso, having hinted at changes, will run a new Internal Combustion Engine (ICE), MGU-H and Turbo Charger at the Aut¢dromo Hermanos Rodríguez, resulting in a 20-place drop.

Vandoorne, who also started at the back of the grid in the United States, will use a new ICE, MGU-K, MGU-H, Turbo Charger, Energy Store and Control Electronics, meaning a 35-place drop.

A spokesperson for Honda explained to that Mexico City "isn't a strong circuit for us, so it made sense to introduce new parts here for remaining races".

Under current Formula 1 regulations, drivers are permitted to use only four of each of the six elements that make up the power unit before grid penalties are imposed.

The first time a fifth element is used, a 10-place grid penalty will be imposed, with a five-place drop issued the first time a fifth of any of the remaining elements is used.

The first time a sixth element is used, a 10-place grid penalty will be imposed, and so on.

Alonso and Vandoorne will continue at McLaren in 2018, but with Renault power.

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