Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Honda feels Alonso could go pound sand
    Honda feels Alonso could go pound sand. The feeling is mutual we're sure.

    Honda relationship 'difficult' with Alonso – boss

  • Sponsor to switch F1 teams with Sainz Jr.
  • McLaren Indycar team 'years' away – Brown
  • Aston Martin ramps up F1 expertise with ex-Ferrari staff
  • Ecclestone leaving tax-and-spend London
  • Pirelli's Ultra Softs to be pink for Austin
  • Alonso optimistic of points return in Austin
  • Hartley to race with number 39 on F1 debut
  • Haas to bring final 2017 upgrade to COTA
  • Leading F1 teams split on Mexico tire choices

Honda relationship 'difficult' with Alonso – boss
(GMM) Yusuke Hasegawa admits some of his colleagues at Honda did not appreciate Fernando Alonso's forthright criticism.

After three uncompetitive and unreliable years, the McLaren-Honda partnership will be disbanded after next month's 2017 finale in Abu Dhabi.

Honda F1 boss Hasegawa admits it was three years of high pressure, with Spaniard Alonso applying some of that pressure himself.

"Alonso always came to put pressure on me," the Japanese told El Confidencial newspaper.

"If the car was bad, he had no qualms about telling me he was not happy.

"But he is a good person and he probably felt very bad about having to scold me. But he had to, because he wanted everything to be right," Hasegawa told the Spanish publication.

Hasegawa denied paddock claims that Alonso is "too political" a driver.

"No, not at all," he said.

"Alonso criticized us because he was not satisfied, as he had every right.

"There are people at Honda who were not happy with Alonso's attitude, but for me it was not a problem.

"I am personally very disappointed that I did not give him a good engine, but here in F1 it is difficult for everyone to be happy.

"Because he was not happy, it is very difficult to establish a good working relationship," Hasegawa added. "But of course it was not personal.

"Alonso did his job, as he was a good professional. But drivers are very emotional guys and you have to understand when they behave like that," he said.

"If he had the best car, would he be happy? Yes, and that is why we cannot complain."

Honda is now moving to the Red Bull junior team Toro Rosso, and both sides are confident 2018 will mark the beginning of a more successful time.

"Honda's expectations were so, so high," Hasegawa said of the McLaren-Honda partnership. "That was our big mistake.

"We were too ambitious, and actually we were not ready in 2015.

"But Honda's identity is to always fight, never give up, and if it was different we would leave F1," he said.

Sponsor to switch F1 teams with Sainz Jr.

Sainz Jr. takes sponsor with him
Sainz Jr. takes sponsor with him

(GMM) A sponsor looks set to follow Carlos Sainz Jr. from Toro Rosso to Renault.

This weekend in Austin will mark the start of Sainz's new assignment at the French works team, ahead of a full season with Renault in 2018.

The Spaniard's new teammate, Nico Hulkenberg, is looking forward to it.

"Carlos is a young, ambitious driver," the German told Kolner Express tabloid.

"He's supposed to help us get fifth place in the championship," Hulkenberg added.

"I am looking forward to working with him, because I really get along with everyone."

Sainz, 23, has warned that it could take some time for him to get up to speed in an unfamiliar car.

But his cousin and manager, Carlos Elnoro, said Sainz got a "spectacular welcome" when the former Toro Rosso driver visited his new team at Enstone in the past days.

"The atmosphere was very good and people were very happy to see Carlos, because it was known for some time that he was going to come to the team," he told El Confidencial.

"His arrival is a stimulus for the team before the last races of a long season," Elnoro added.

Sainz himself said he was impressed by his visit to Enstone.

"The extension at the factory is still under construction but there are already 640 people working there," he said.

"The facilities given an impression of Renault's commitment to be back at the top in formula one. It's another world compared to Toro Rosso," Sainz added.

Finally, it appears that a personal sponsor, Spanish beer brand Estrella Galicia, is set to move from Toro Rosso to Renault.

"In principle, they are talking to the team to see the terms for this year and next year," Elnoro said.

McLaren Indycar team 'years' away – Brown

Zak Brown says an IndyCar deal has to be commercially viable. With low TV ratings on cable network NBCSN there isn't much commercial viability to IndyCar these days
Zak Brown says an IndyCar deal has to be commercially viable. With low TV ratings on cable network NBCSN there isn't much commercial viability to IndyCar these days

(GMM) "Years" will pass before McLaren fields a team in the full Indycar season.

That is the view of the British team's executive Zak Brown.

This year, McLaren paired with existing Indycar outfit Andretti to field Fernando Alonso in the Indy 500.

But with the team expecting to be more competitive in F1 with Renault power next year, it is believed a follow-up project in 2018 is unlikely.

"If I remain in formula one it's because I believe I can win next year," said Alonso.

"So I will be in Monaco because I don't want to lose any points there."

As for a full-time McLaren entry in the full Indycar championship, executive Brown played down that likelihood for now.

"We need to make sure when we get involved in activities beyond our formula one program that it doesn't detract from our formula one efforts," he said in a teleconference.

"Second, we have to be competitive, and third, it has to be commercially viable.

"With all that we have going on right now, spending much time thinking about Indycar would detract from our formula one efforts, so I'd say we're years away from fielding an Indycar team," Brown added.

Aston Martin ramps up F1 expertise with ex-Ferrari staff

Andy Palmer hiring Ferrari staff
Andy Palmer hiring Ferrari staff

Aston Martin has boosted its staff with F1 personnel as it continues to study the possibility of entering the sport as an engine supplier beyond 2020.

The luxury car brand, which worked with Red Bull Racing on the development of its Valkyrie hypercar, will become the Milton Keynes-based outfit's main sponsor next season.

But Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer is also closely monitoring the inception of Formula 1's future engine rules and hasn't ruled out a potential power unit deal with Red Bull in the future.

"I’m sure we have the technical capability," Palmer told Motorsport.com.

"Some of the people I have recently recruited, coming in from Ferrari, means I have the brainpower to be able to develop a Formula 1 engine.

"The question will be whether the cap on the expense of doing that is affordable to a company like Aston.

"That’s the big difference between a small company like Aston and the big boys like Renault or Mercedes Benz.

"The people I have recruited have associations with the F1 side in the past and also the roadside. So I have an interesting mixture now of technical capabilities."

According to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, Formula 1 will present its 2021 engine regulations later this month, on October 31.

Ecclestone leaving tax-and-spend London

The income tax rate in the UK is much higher than Switzerland
The income tax rate in the UK is much higher than Switzerland. The income from Ecclestone's investments is huge

Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that following his removal as F1 supremo he is upping sticks and heading to Switzerland.

"We are just setting things up," he told the Mail on Sunday. "I have had Swiss residency for nearly thirty years. The intention ages ago was that I would build a house there and move the F1 company abroad, but I couldn't get all the people I needed to leave England.

"That's the reason I stayed," he adds. "But now I don't care about that. I can just go over there and live. I will take a few members of staff, but not many.

"I will still come back to London from time to time, to see friends," he reveals the 87-year-old understood to be retaining the Princes Gate address from which he ran the sport since 1985. "I will also spend more time in Brazil, where we have a coffee farm. But Switzerland will be my main home."

Ecclestone took the opportunity to confirm that despite being given the infamous title Chairman Emeritus, he was effectively fired by F1's new owners just 48 hours after they took control.

"I didn't choose to leave, I was fired," he reveals. "Chase called me on the Sunday, and said, 'Can I see you tomorrow?' He said he'd come to the office. I said, 'Yeah, I'll be there' "He said, 'You know we completed the deal on Friday?' 'I said, “Yes, congratulations." ‘He said, “I need you to stand down as chief executive. That's the job I want."

"I said he had bought the car and might as well drive it. I resigned. They had all the documents on them for me to do that. It was a surprise because I was told they wanted me to stay on a three-year contract. I could have made a bit of a fuss, but I didn't.

"If the boot had been on the other foot, I would not have done it the way they did it. They would have been better off working with me for six months and seeing how it went. Anyway, they elevated me to such a high position in the company that I can't see what's going on."

While he will attend the Brazilian Grand Prix next month, Ecclestone admits to being persona non grata as far as the sport's new management is concerned.

"Chase sent a message to one of the girls in the office to tell me that they haven't got so many offices at the circuits, only what the race promoter gives them," said Ecclestone. "There are three of them so the three offices are being used. So basically they don't want me to come to races. It would have been just as easy to have said that to me. Anyway, I have obliged them."

While the media 'love-in' with Liberty continues, Ecclestone shares the same opinion as Force India's Bob Fernley, and Pitpass.

"They haven't done anything yet as far as I can see. They said they wouldn't talk, they would act. They said I talked before doing anything. I didn't. I got things done quietly. All they do is talk.

"If I say I am going to whack someone next time I see them, I'd better bloody well do it. Chase had preconceived ideas of what needed to be done. But now he's on board, it isn't quite as easy as he thought. So I feel sorry for him."

Finally, asked about the championship outcome, the veteran is in no doubt.

"Lewis will win it in Austin next race,' he says. "He has driven superbly this season, while Ferrari awoke and then fell asleep."

Pirelli's Ultra Softs to be pink for Austin

The pink tires should match the pink Force Indias
The pink tires should match the pink Force Indias

Pirelli's Ultra Soft tire will be colored with pink sidewalls for this weekend's United States Grand Prix, as part of Formula 1's link-up with the Susan G. Komen foundation.

Austin's round coincides with Breast Cancer Awareness month and there will be a number of activities, both on- and off-track, to mark the partnership between Formula 1 and the charity.

Formula 1 intends to turn the weekend pink, and Pirelli has confirmed that the softest of its available compounds will be colored pink, rather than purple.

"For America, we're once again taking a softer range of compounds that we have done for previous races there," said Pirelli's Head of Car Racing Mario Isola.

"The Ultra Soft will be available in Austin for the first time: but in pink as a one-off, to highlight the brilliant work of the Susan G. Komen foundation.

"This should bring lap times down, continuing the trend we have seen over the course of the season."

Pirelli's Super Soft (red) and Soft (yellow) compounds will also be available this weekend.

Alonso optimistic of points return in Austin

Alonso like the USA. Is that a hint for the future?
Alonso like the USA. Is that a hint for the future?

Fernando Alonso is confident that he can return to the points-paying positions at the United States Grand Prix, off the back of a string of near-misses and incidents.

Alonso was involved in the first-lap clash in Singapore, believing that the clash cost him a shot at the podium, before he claimed back-to-back 11th-place finishes in Malaysia and Japan.

Alonso is sure that McLaren can creep into the top 10 if the operation maximizes its potential at the Circuit of the Americas.

"I really enjoy spending time in the States and I have lots of happy memories there," said Alonso, having already competed in the country earlier this year, at the Indianapolis 500.

"I hope in Austin we can build on the momentum we know we've been gathering behind the scenes, despite not being able to show the results on the final timesheets.

"I think there's the potential to score points if we can pull everything together.

"There are a lot of factors to take into account and anything can happen at this race – we've seen quite a lot of drama both on-track and off it over the last few years.

"I'm optimistic we can have a positive weekend if we can maximize every opportunity."

McLaren team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne, who has never raced in Austin, is also confident the outfit can enjoy a more positive weekend compared to its display in Japan.

"After a couple of positive races for me, Japan was trickier for us and we struggled to make up any ground on Sunday after an unfortunate start," he said.

"Austin should be a bit better for us in terms of power sensitivity, although there's a wide range of corners which each give us a different challenge, so the key will be to balance the set-up all the way around the lap.

"There should be more overtaking opportunities there too and I'm hopeful we can have a more positive weekend."

Hartley to race with number 39 on F1 debut

Brendon Hartley
Brendon Hartley

Brendon Hartley will race with #39 on his Formula 1 debut at the United States Grand Prix, taking up one of Toro Rosso's dedicated test/reserve numbers.

Hartley is stepping into the STR12 vacated by Pierre Gasly, who made his Formula 1 debut in Malaysia, and remained in the car in Japan, alongside Carlos Sainz Jr.

Toro Rosso initially confirmed Gasly and Daniil Kvyat this weekend's Austin event, but Gasly will instead race in the Super Formula finale, as he looks to secure the title.

With Sainz Jr. moving to Renault, and Gasly unavailable because of his Super Formula duties, Toro Rosso recruited Hartley to make his Formula 1 debut.

See also: F1's first double swap since 1994

Under Formula 1 regulations introduced in 2014, drivers are free to choose a number between 2 and 99 to carry throughout their career, with 1 reserved for the reigning champion.

Formula 1 teams are also given dedicated test/reserve numbers for use during each season, with Toro Rosso handed 38 and 39 for 2017.

Toro Rosso applied 38 to Formula 2 racer Sean Gelael, who has made several test and practice outings, and has now allocated 39 to Hartley.

Haas to bring final 2017 upgrade to COTA

Can the Anti-American team show well in America with its foreign drivers?
Can the Anti-American Haas team show well in America with its foreign drivers?

Haas will apply its final upgrade package of the season for its home race, the United States Grand Prix, team boss Guenther Steiner has explained.

Haas will be bringing a new floor and updated bargeboard sides to the Circuit of the Americas, as it looks to maximize its chances in a tight midfield battle.

Battle for fifth position:

Williams – 66 points
Toro Rosso – 52 points
Haas – 43 points
Renault – 42 points

"It's the last upgrade for our car this year," said Steiner.

"The modifications are on the bargeboard sides and on the floor of the car. It's easily recognizable when you see the car what has changed."

Romain Grosjean claimed a point for Haas at COTA last season and Steiner is hopeful of adding more this time out, despite the "unpredictable" midfield.

"As I always say, to make predictions this year, in the midfield, is impossible," he commented.

"People wrote us off after Malaysia. They said we'd scored the last of our points this year. Then we came back in Japan with two cars in the points. Anything can happen.

"It doesn't depend only on how we are doing, but how good the other teams are. That's obvious, but by being so tight, anything can happen.

"Last year we scored a point at COTA and we'll try to do better this year."

Leading F1 teams split on Mexico tire choices

Pirelli Tires
Pirelli Tires

Leading Formula 1 teams Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull have taken different stances regarding tire compounds for next weekend's Mexican Grand Prix.

Pirelli has nominated its softest three compounds – the Ultra Softs, Super Softs and Softs – for the event at the Aut¢dromo Hermanos Rodríguez.

Out of the front-running teams, Mercedes has taken the most aggressive stance, with both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas having nine sets of Ultra Softs from its 13-set allocation.

Ferrari, meanwhile, will have seven sets of Ultra Softs available, while Red Bull has adopted a relatively conservative stance, with six sets of the purple-banded compound for Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.

Title rivals Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel will have just the one set of Softs available, with their compound variance coming in Super Softs, with Vettel having five sets to Hamilton's three.

A substantial bulk of the field – nine of the 20 drivers – will have 10 sets of the Ultra Soft tire available for the weekend's action.

As per the regulations, one set of Ultra Softs must be set aside for use only in Q3, while either the Super Softs or Softs must be run for one stint of the Grand Prix.

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