Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Brendon Hartley
    Brendon Hartley eyes F1 or IndyCar

    Hartley not ruling out longer F1 adventure

  • Kvyat unsure if Austin is last F1 race
  • Kvyat to step aside for Gelael in FP1
  • Vettel urges against big changes at Ferrari
  • Verstappen would prefer to avoid top team switch
  • Wehrlein hopes to know future before Abu Dhabi
  • Massa interested in Liberty Media role
  • Hamilton decides against 'taking a knee'
  • Verstappen unmoved by Dutch street race reports
  • Alonso, McLaren deny contract for one year only
  • Brown: Alonso buys into McLaren direction

Hartley not ruling out longer F1 adventure
(GMM) Brendon Hartley says his future is unclear beyond Sunday's US grand prix.

The New Zealander, who last tested an F1 car for Mercedes in 2012, has been drafted into Toro Rosso's Austin lineup by his former backer Red Bull.

But there is speculation that when Pierre Gasly returns from his Super Formula duties next weekend, Le Mans winner Hartley could stay at Toro Rosso as Daniil Kvyat's full-time replacement.

"Nothing has really been said yet," Hartley, 27, said in Austin.

But he did admit that when Porsche announced its intention to pull out of Le Mans some months ago, he rang his old boss Dr Helmut Marko.

"I said 'Look, I'm a different driver than I was 10 years ago, I've learned a lot, and if there is ever an opportunity I am ready'," Hartley said.

Before a future in F1 looked a possibility, Hartley was linked with a move from sports cars to Indycar for 2018.

"Nothing's been confirmed for me for next year," he said. "I'm trying not to think further forward than this weekend because I've got a fair amount on my plate.

"But yeah, I was looking at Indycar and I still am."

Kvyat unsure if Austin is last F1 race

Kvyat's Russian money appears to be drying up. Are USA sanctions working?
Kvyat's Russian money appears to be drying up. Are USA sanctions working?

(GMM) Daniil Kvyat admitted in Austin that he is not sure if he will remain in his Toro Rosso seat beyond Sunday's US grand prix.

The Russian was recently sidelined by team owner Red Bull to make way for Pierre Gasly.

But Gasly is in Japan this weekend completing his Super Formula season.

So when asked what comes next for him after the race in Austin, Kvyat said: "I'm just concentrating on this race."

The 23-year-old did not want to respond to a suggestion that, in the last couple of years, he has been treated unfairly by Red Bull.

"Fair or unfair is not the question here," he said. "What happened has happened and I must accept it.

"I have always felt that I am capable of a lot, but this year my potential was not used in the best way and I want to fix that.

"But instead of negative thoughts I try to see the situation positively. The break helped me to recharge my batteries and I'm fully motivated for his race."

However, he admitted he wants to sit down with Red Bull chiefs to talk about what comes next.

"I do not see any drama," said Kvyat.

"I have returned to the paddock and now I will have a conversation behind closed doors with Red Bull.

"Of course I would like to hear some explanation on what the next steps are. But in general I came here to do this race as best I can."

But given his travails of the past couple of years, Kvyat admitted it is important that talks with Red Bull are held.

"My contract with Red Bull only expires in two years," he revealed. "And then, if there are any other possibilities, we will discuss them together."

Asked if those 'other possibilities' might be outside of F1, Kvyat said: "I have some ideas, but I do not want to talk about it now.

"If it happens, it will not be the end of my career or a catastrophe or anything like that.

"But if you want to know if I have a plan B or C, then that is always useful."

Kvyat to step aside for Gelael in FP1

Sean Gelael
Sean Gelael – has check, will drive

Toro Rosso has confirmed that Daniil Kvyat will make way for Sean Gelael for the opening practice session at the United States Grand Prix, as part of the Indonesian's test program.

Formula 2 racer Gelael, following test days in Bahrain and Hungary, signed up for four Grand Prix practice sessions, the third of which has been scheduled for Friday in Austin.

Toro Rosso enters the event with a revised pairing of Kvyat and Porsche sportscar racer Brendon Hartley, in the wake of Carlos Sainz Jr.'s Renault switch and Pierre Gasly's Super Formula title push.

Toro Rosso has opted to give Hartley the maximum track time possible as he gears up for his Formula 1 debut, with Gelael poised to step into Kvyat's car for the first 90-minute session.

Kvyat will then return to Formula 1 action in the second session, having sat out the previous Grands Prix in Malaysia and Japan.

Gelael will also run during practice in Mexico next Friday.

Vettel urges against big changes at Ferrari

Vettel wants Ferrari to be careful about changes
Vettel wants Ferrari to be careful about changes

(GMM) Amid rumblings of looming changes, Sebastian Vettel says Ferrari should actually stay the course.

Recently, as his title campaign crumbled amid reliability problems, president Sergio Marchionne said "organizational changes" are now on the cards.

And Germany's Bild newspaper has reported that team boss Maurizio Arrivabene's job could be in doubt.

But Vettel thinks Ferrari is on the right track.

"We have massive potential in the factory that we have not fully exhausted," said the German.

"We have good people, good ideas, good talent, and now we all have to work together to make it a success.

"There is no reason to panic because of what happened in the last two races," he insisted.

"Sometimes you just have to make a few small adjustments with the same people and it's much better," said the 30-year-old.

Vettel says even the 2017 title is not lost.

"It must be our goal to win the remaining four races," he said, even though winning the title would rely on Lewis Hamilton having some bad results.

"We cannot focus on what others will do," said Vettel. "We have enough to do for ourselves."

Verstappen would prefer to avoid top team switch

Verstappen will stay at Red Bull as long as his paycheck has enough zeroes on it
Verstappen will stay at Red Bull as long as his paycheck has enough zeroes on it

(GMM) Max Verstappen has suggested he would prefer to stay at Red Bull rather than switch to a rival team.

The Dutchman remains under contract until 2019, but rumors he is being wooed by F1's top two teams Mercedes and Ferrari are constant.

Clearly, Red Bull wants the newly 20-year-old to stay, with boss Christian Horner saying the energy drink company is prepared to build the team around him.

"It's nice to hear such words," Verstappen said.

"I've always had good relations with everyone in the team, including with Christian."

But he said all he really wants is a car with which to fight for his first world title.

"I know Red Bull can build a better car, and in the last two races we showed that," said Verstappen.

"But we do not fully control the situation," he added. "The engine still lacks power.

"I hope that in the future the problem will be solved, and then I will have no reason to leave."

Indeed, Verstappen suggested to Algemeen Dagblad newspaper that he would prefer not to switch to Mercedes and Ferrari.

"Lewis is firmly in place at Mercedes and Sebastian at Ferrari," he said.

"I do not want to be like the second driver. I'd rather stop than do that," Verstappen insisted.

"I also do not think they want to have me as a teammate, and two 'number 1's is also difficult, which showed before with Hamilton and Alonso at McLaren," he said.

And so Verstappen's best chance of being the clear 'number 1' appears to be staying at Red Bull.

"Daniel (Ricciardo) is already 28, he wants to win races but who knows what he's going to do. I feel at ease with this team, it's good with everyone as it is and that's very important," Verstappen said.

Wehrlein hopes to know future before Abu Dhabi

Pascal Wehrlein wonders where Mercedes will buy his next ride
Pascal Wehrlein wonders where Mercedes will buy his next ride

(GMM) Pascal Wehrlein has admitted his future could remain in doubt for some time.

The German arrived in Austin fresh from celebrating his 23rd birthday, amid rumors he is hoping to be retained by Sauber next year.

"I'd rather be 25," Wehrlein joked, according to Germany's Auto Bild.

He is referring to rumors a potential move to Williams is problematic because the British team's main sponsor Martini would prefer an older driver.

"There is nothing new," Wehrlein added, even though he confirmed that his backer, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, is in talks with Williams.

"I just hope to know what I am doing before the last race in Abu Dhabi," he said.

Wehrlein could be pushed out of Sauber by Ferrari junior Charles Leclerc, while Marcus Ericsson is in the running for the second seat.

But it is believed new Sauber boss Frederic Vasseur would actually prefer Wehrlein to stay, even if Ericsson is closely linked to the team's owners.

Indeed, Swede Ericsson admitted in Austin that his future is not clear.

"When you don't have a contract signed, you can never be comfortable in formula one," he said.

Massa interested in Liberty Media role

Felipe Massa wants to remain in F1 paddock
Felipe Massa wants to remain in F1 paddock

(GMM) Felipe Massa says he would be interested in a role with Liberty Media once his F1 career ends.

After 16 seasons on the grid, the 36-year-old is fighting for his Williams cockpit against 2018 contenders Robert Kubica, Paul di Resta and Pascal Wehrlein.

Although he retired at the end of last season only to surprisingly return, Massa seems unhappy his place is now in doubt.

"I have nothing to say," the Brazilian said when asked about Kubica and di Resta's 'shootout' test in Hungary last week.

"I'm focused solely on my job."

Many in the paddock believe Williams has already decided to oust Massa. The driver said he is simply waiting for the British team's decision.

"There were no new negotiations," he said.

"Of course, when I talk with the team I state my position clearly, but I think they know perfectly well what I can do. From my side I'm sure that they need me."

Massa said he is hoping for Williams' decision before his home race in Sao Paulo early next month.

His departure would also mean that there are no Brazilians on the 2018 grid.

"Of course it would be bad because Brazilians love formula one and they want to cheer for their driver. But let's see how things develop," he said.

If he does retire from F1, Massa has been linked with a move to Formula E.

But he was also asked if he might be interested in a consultancy role with F1 owner Liberty Media.

"If I can help, and they are interested in my help, then of course we can talk," he said in Austin.

"But at the moment I am completely focused on racing, because it's what I love most and what I've done all my life. But for the future, everything is possible."

Hamilton decides against 'taking a knee'

The half-white Hamilton decides against disrespecting America
The half-white Hamilton (his mother is white) decides against disrespecting America

(GMM) Lewis Hamilton says he will not 'take a knee' before Sunday's US grand prix.

Earlier, as American football players protested during pre-game renditions of the national anthem, the Mercedes driver hinted he could also kneel in solidarity before F1's only race in the United States.

"I will have to think about it," Hamilton said three weeks ago.

But now ahead of Sunday's race, he told reporters in Austin that he will in fact not kneel.

"I found the movement that (Colin) Kaepernick started is awesome and I'm very much in support of it," said the Briton.

"But I'm here to win and that's the top of my priorities at the moment and I'm not really focused on anything else.

"I don't really plan on allowing all the BS that's surrounding the topic pull me down in my strive to winning this world title," added Hamilton.

Verstappen unmoved by Dutch street race reports

Verstappen unfazed by rumors of a street race
Verstappen unfazed by rumors of a street race

(GMM) Max Verstappen says he is not getting excited about reports F1 could be heading to the streets of his native Holland.

Earlier this month, we reported that off the back of the Red Bull driver's huge popularity, Liberty Media was open to approving a street race in either Amsterdam or Rotterdam.

But Dutch F1 broadcaster Olav Mol had told Ziggo Sport Totaal: "It seems to be a long-short to me."

And when asked about it in Austin, Red Bull driver Verstappen said: "There is a lot of talk about it, but there are no concrete plans at all.

"So what are we even talking about?" he told Algemeen Dagblad newspaper.

"If there is the money and the support and everything, then we'll see."

Alonso, McLaren deny contract for one year only

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso

(GMM) Fernando Alonso has denied his new McLaren contract is for one year only.

The Spaniard and the British team announced in Austin that the new deal "underlines Fernando's long-term ties to the organization".

But at the same time, there are rumors that only Alonso's presence in 2018 is guaranteed.

"We don't talk too much about the inside of contracts, but no, it's not one year," Alonso said.

Alonso has been clear about wanting to be contractually allowed to do non-F1 races occasionally, amid rumors Daytona or Le Mans are on the cards for 2018.

"Even if (F1) is still the priority, we will see what the future brings," he confirmed.

When asked about Le Mans, he answered: "We have not talked about this yet, but if there is an opportunity, I will try to use it.

"If it happens, it will be with McLaren, just as we did the Indy 500 this year," Alonso said. "But so far there are no plans."

When asked about the details of Alonso's contract, including the duration and possible exceptions and clauses, McLaren boss Zak Brown said: "We have made an agreement that allows us to keep Fernando for a rather long period.

"We want it to be that whatever car he is racing, he is doing it with McLaren," said the American. "It's a multi-year agreement."

Brown: Alonso buys into McLaren direction

Brown eyes multi-year future with Alonso
Brown eyes multi-year future with Alonso

McLaren Executive Director Zak Brown says Fernando Alonso "buys into the direction" the outfit is taking, after confirmation that the Spaniard will stay onboard for 2018.

Alonso returned to McLaren amid the squad's link-up with Honda for 2015, but the stint has been characterized by a lack of reliability and performance, prompting the operation to seek an alternative.

McLaren will instead be supplied by Renault in 2018, and confirmed on Thursday that Alonso has renewed his contract to remain part of the team for another campaign.

Brown hailed Alonso's ability and emphasized that the 36-year-old can return McLaren to the front of the pack in Formula 1.

"He has been a fantastic asset to the whole organization for the past three years, is an incredible individual and is one of the most accomplished and talented racing drivers of the modern era," said Brown.

"It always made sense for us to continue our journey together.

"His commitment will ensure we head into 2018 feeling increasingly confident that we'll be able to take a meaningful step forward.

"Fernando fully understands and buys in to the direction we are taking.

"With Fernando, there is no doubt that we have a driver who can help us achieve our goal of winning again in F1 – and, believe me, we are all keen to do that."

McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier believes the outfit can deliver a competitive package for Alonso in 2018.

"He's always been clear to me that this is a team he loves, and that his heart has always been set on staying," said Boullier.

"Today's announcement shows that he's fully committed to racing and winning as a McLaren driver.

"While we've often shared his frustrations over the past few years, we now feel that we can deliver on our promise to give him a competitive car next season.

"Consistency of driver line-up is one of those small but essential elements that really helps a team to maintain momentum.

"With Fernando and Stoffel [Vandoorne], we're lucky to be writing a fresh chapter with what we believe to be the best driver line-up in Formula 1."

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