Latest F1 news in brief – Friday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Felipe Massa
    Felipe Massa

    Massa questions Kubica-di Resta 'shootout'

  • Drivers admit 2017 Mercedes difficult to drive
  • Verstappen feels better after Malaysia illness
  • Verstappen hopes for 'magic' Renault button in 2018
  • Ericsson says weight held him back in 2017
  • Sainz Jr. not planning for 2019 season yet
  • McLaren can win with Renault power – Alonso
  • Drivers confident of Ferrari turbo fix
  • 2018 cars will be ready with Halo – Steiner
  • Force India F1 team named in Mallya money laundering
  • Mercedes F1 Generated £289M In Turnover In '16, With Only 10% From Its Parent Company
  • Alonso not commenting on Catalonia issue New
  • Bottas struggle is 'Mercedes' fault' – Lauda New
  • F1 wants Germany on calendar – Carey New
  • Sainz Jr. gets 20-place Suzuka grid penalty New

Massa questions Kubica-di Resta 'shootout'
(GMM) Felipe Massa has questioned the wisdom of Williams' apparent decision to hold a 'shootout' test between Robert Kubica and Paul di Resta.

As it appears the duo are the frontrunners to replace Massa next year, the Brazilian veteran said reports they will go head-to-head in a 2014 car concern him.

"I don't even know if it's true," he said at Suzuka.

Massa said his bigger concern is that his future will not be decided before his home race in Brazil, as a return to F1 retirement could be on the cards.

"I think it would definitely be good for the team and also myself that we know what's going to happen before Brazil," Massa added.

As for the Kubica versus di Resta shootout, the 36-year-old said he is not overly interested.

"It doesn't change anything for me," said Massa.

"Williams know 100 per cent what I can give to the team. I think if you do a test with a car that is four years old, it's completely different. You cannot evaluate too much."

Drivers admit 2017 Mercedes difficult to drive

Hard to drive? They win just about everything
Hard to drive? They win just about everything

(GMM) Mercedes' two drivers have admitted their 2017 car is difficult to drive.

Having the more obvious struggle recently is Valtteri Bottas, whose pace relative to championship leader Lewis Hamilton has been starkly off.

"I think Lewis has been able to extract a little more with the compromises we've been needing to do in some circuits to get it into the right window," said the Finn at Suzuka.

So with Ferrari and perhaps even Red Bull sometimes speeding ahead in terms of pure pace recently, team boss Toto Wolff has called Mercedes' 2017 car a "diva".

"I didn't say that. Toto did," Hamilton told reporters in Japan.

"It's stubborn, but it's cool because I'm stubborn."

The Briton said he expected Malaysia to suit the Mercedes last weekend, and the team now has higher confidence that Suzuka will be a good circuit for the car.

"This deep into the season, I still have no idea where it's going to be good, where it's going to be great, where it's going to be a real struggle," admitted Hamilton.

Verstappen feels better after Malaysia illness

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen

(GMM) Max Verstappen says he is feeling better after his illness in Malaysia.

The Dutchman admitted only after winning at Sepang that he struggled physically throughout the weekend.

"I was not feeling well at the start of the race," said the Red Bull driver. "Then it got worse and worse."

Verstappen, 20, duly sprayed his champagne on the podium but admits he didn't celebrate at all after that.

"I also took it a bit easy in the next few days. Now I feel good again," he said at Suzuka.

Verstappen admitted he is now looking ahead to 2018, and a potential title challenge if Red Bull can come into the season with a strong car straight away.

"We will not go into another season so much behind," he said confidently.

"Adrian Newey is now taking full care of formula one again, so from the point of view of next year, everything should be in order."

Verstappen hopes for 'magic' Renault button in 2018
(GMM) Max Verstappen hopes Renault heads into 2018 with a "magic" button for him to press.

There are reports the French engine supplier wants to emulate the sort of 'qualifying mode' that has worked so well for Mercedes' engine in the power unit era.

Asked if that would be a big step forward, Red Bull driver Verstappen admitted at Suzuka: "Yes.

"If we had that, I would not have had to pass Lewis in Malaysia for example. For some circuits like Monaco it is very important to get something like this.

"We'll see, but hopefully," the 20-year-old added.

Ericsson says weight held him back in 2017

Marcus Ericsson was a bit chubby
Marcus Ericsson was a bit chubby

(GMM) Marcus Ericsson says extra weight has held him back in 2017.

The Swede said the fact he weighs 10 kilograms more than teammate Pascal Wehrlein explains the pace difference between the two Sauber drivers.

"He has the numbers on his side," said Ericsson, who is now fighting to keep his seat at the Swiss team notwithstanding his links to the Sauber owners.

"I'm ten kilos over the limit and he's at zero — and it's a big difference," he explained.

"It's a lot of laptime lost every single lap."

Wehrlein admits he is now under "pressure" to keep his seat, particularly amid reports his chances of a switch to Williams are low.

So it seems his options now are staying at Sauber or leaving F1.

"I like the Indycar series," Ericsson said. "I like to go fast, and on high speed tracks I am strong, so it would be cool."

Sainz Jr. not planning for 2019 season yet

Carlos Sainz Jr.
Carlos Sainz Jr.

(GMM) Carlos Sainz Jr. says he is not yet thinking about 2019.

Actually, the Spaniard is set to switch from Toro Rosso to the Renault works team next year.

But Red Bull is retaining the option of pulling him back to the premier energy drink-owned team for 2019, with Dr Helmut Marko declaring that Daniel Ricciardo is "on the market".

"I guess he's talking about beyond (2018), but nothing's been said between us," said Ricciardo in Japan, when asked about the Marko comments.

"I don't think he has a plan beyond '18 yet."

So when asked if he is hoping to race for Red Bull or Renault in 2019, Spaniard Sainz said he is not thinking about it.

"Honestly, for now it doesn't matter," he said at Suzuka.

"Next year I will be at Renault and my top priority will be results for that team. I'm not thinking about 2019. What will be, will be.

"I will try to do the results that Renault wanted me for, and the results that meant Red Bull wanted to keep me. It's that simple," Sainz added.

"I will focus on doing the best in each particular race, because that is exactly what I have done from my debut."

McLaren can win with Renault power – Alonso

Alonso thinks Renault will make McLaren a winner again
Alonso thinks Renault will make McLaren a winner again

(GMM) Fernando Alonso thinks Renault can power McLaren to race wins in 2018.

The Spaniard's future is still unclear, but it is believed he is talking over only minor details regarding a new contract with the British team.

That is because McLaren has dumped Honda for 2018 in order to team up with Renault, who powered Red Bull to victory with Max Verstappen a week ago in Malaysia.

"It gives us hope that with this engine you can win races if you have a good chassis," Alonso said at Suzuka.

"But it also puts pressure on McLaren that they need to build a good chassis next year."

When asked if McLaren can withstand that pressure, he said: "McLaren should be afraid of nobody. This team has everything you need to build a good car."

If he stays at McLaren, Alonso will be joined again by Stoffel Vandoorne, who said on Thursday that he is "100 per cent" ready to lead the team.

Indeed, the Belgian outpaced Alonso all weekend in Malaysia.

"Stoffel simply did a better job than me," Alonso admits.

"He was one and a half tenths in front. Definitely it was not the best race for me in terms of luck and the position of the cars after the first corner.

"But Stoffel looked better in practice and qualifying and his race pace was higher," he added.

Drivers confident of Ferrari turbo fix

Ferrari drivers hope for the best
Ferrari drivers hope for the best

(GMM) Ferrari's drivers say the team has fixed a technical problem that ruined their weekend in Malaysia.

The Italian team looked strongest overall at Sepang, but Sebastian Vettel was left last in qualifying with a turbo problem that seemed to repeat itself on Kimi Raikkonen's failed car on the grid.

Reports said the problem was a carbon tube, with the power units all returned to Maranello between Malaysia and Japan for a fix.

"I think we have a good understanding of what happened," German Vettel said, insisting he still has a chance of beating Lewis Hamilton to the championship.

"It has only been a couple of days but some parts went back and I'm pretty sure it shouldn't be an issue here," he added.

Raikkonen agreed: "We fixed the problem, but no one can guarantee that it won't happen again."

Also at Maranello, Ferrari repaired superficial damage to Vettel's gearbox, following his bizarre post-race crash at Sepang with Lance Stroll.

Vettel admitted he is relieved he will not take a penalty.

"We will only find out after we put the gearbox on the car on Saturday, but judging from what I heard, everything should be fine," he said.

However, a slightly more panicked reaction to Sepang had reportedly been made by president Sergio Marchionne, who hinted that organizational changes would occur.

"I heard about it," Vettel said. "Or I read it in the press. I'm not sure if his words were taken out of context.

"I know what is going on inside the team," he added. "There is no panic — no emotional reaction to what happened. As far as I know, no big changes are planned."

2018 cars will be ready with Halo – Steiner

Teams have already done Halos - no big deal
Teams have already done Halos – no big deal

(GMM) F1 teams will be ready with Halo-equipped cars next year.

That is the view of Haas boss Gunther Steiner, when asked about reports teams are concerned the FIA has released detailed information about Halo very late.

"Everyone is complaining," Steiner said at Suzuka, "but in the end it's the same for everyone. Everything will be done on time.

"Formula one is the highest category of motor sport, so if you are not able to cope with such difficulties then in my view it is better not to be in this championship," he added.

"Of course, if you have two or three extra months to develop a car, we would use them until the last minute," Steiner said.

"But if the information about Halo is shared simultaneously with all the teams, then everything is fine. In any case, we cannot change it."

Force India F1 team named in Mallya money laundering

Vijay Mallya
Vijay Mallya

Vijay Mallya is accused of laundering money related to his F1 team Force India.

On Tuesday, the former Indian billionaire was arrested in the UK and later released on $80,000 bail.

“He will return to court on November 20," the financial news agency Bloomberg reported, that – The new charge is essentially showing where the money went to, for example, it is alleged that some of the funds ended up with the Force India racing team".

A prosecution statement said some of Mallya’s allegedly laundered money in the case “ended up with the Force India racing team".

Outside court, he did not deny the charges.

“You heard it all (in court)," said Mallya.

“Many allegations are extraordinary and you will hear it in the next hearing, no doubt. Whatever I will say I will say in court and do not have to repeat to the media."

More from Bloomberg: Embattled liquor baron Vijay Mallya has been arrested in London in connection with the Enforcement Directorate’s money laundering probe into the Rs 900-crore IDBI Bank-Kingfisher Airlines bank loan case.

He will be produced at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court at 2 pm (London time) today, the U.K.’s Crown Prosecution Service told BloombergQuint. He’s likely to get bail, they added.

Mallya is undergoing trial and is currently out on bail in another case in which he was arrested in April following the Indian government’s extradition request.

He has been staying in London for over a year now after leaving India on March 2 last year, in the middle of attempts by a group of banks to recover more than Rs 9,000 crore loaned to him for his now collapsed Kingfisher Airlines.

India had made an extradition request in February to Britain to send back the businessman to face trial.

Mercedes F1 Generated £289M In Turnover In '16, With Only 10% From Its Parent Company
The Mercedes Formula 1 team generated an "astonishing" turnover of £289M in '16, and its parent company "only had to pump in" around 10% of that figure, according to AUTOSPORT.

While they do not include the costs of the HPP powertrain division in Brixworth, the numbers "suggest that F1 is a bargain for Mercedes in terms of the exposure the marque receives," certainly compared to the figures spent by Porsche and Audi in recent years.

The Brackley team's '16 accounts show that turnover rose from £213.2M the previous year to £289.4M last year. That figure includes sponsorship, income from F1's commercial rights holder and what the team calls "marketing revenue" — the payments that it receives from Daimler AG.

Costs increased by £27.9M in '16, "due to the extra R&D investment required as the team prepared for the huge changes" to the '17 regulations, and to currency exchange rate losses. There was also a £15.9M tax charge, as opposed to a £13.3M tax credit in '15. The team made an operating profit of £14.3M — compared to a loss of £33.9M in '15.

Mercedes Motorsport Dir Toto Wolff said, "The marketing contribution from Daimler is around 10% of revenue. That is a fraction of the exposure they generate." AUTOSPORT

Alonso not commenting on Catalonia issue

The Catalonia Region of Spain wants to become its own country
The Catalonia Region of Spain wants to become its own country.

(GMM) Fernando Alonso is refusing to weigh into the political turmoil in Spain.

In his native country, an argument is raging between the region of Catalonia – which is seeking independence – and the Spanish government.

"Everyone has his own opinion," Alonso said at Suzuka, "but I prefer not to get involved. That is my position."

According to the Spanish sports daily Diario Sport, Alonso had a similar response when asked about the progress of his 2018 McLaren-Renault contract.

"There's nothing new to say for now," he said.

Bottas struggle is 'Mercedes' fault' – Lauda

Lauda would never admit they slowed Bottas so he won't beat Hamilton and ruin Hamilton's title chances
Lauda would never admit they slowed Bottas so he won't beat Hamilton and ruin Hamilton's title chances

(GMM) Niki Lauda says struggling Valtteri Bottas is not to blame for his collapse in form.

The Finn was having a solid first season for Mercedes until a few races ago, when Ferrari and even Red Bull began to step ahead of the reigning champions.

"The alarm bells are ringing loudly," Lauda, the Mercedes team chairman, told Kronen Zeitung newspaper.

"There is something wrong aerodynamically or mechanically. The car is not stable. So when you are over one second behind, you don't even need to think about the tire window."

Team boss Toto Wolff said Mercedes has made progress since its struggle a week ago in Malaysia, but F1 legend Lauda revealed: "We still have no solution.

"But we will surely have a different setup in Suzuka. And we hope that we return to our old form," he said.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton has found a way to drive around many of the 2017 car's problems, but teammate Bottas is notably struggling.

Lauda explained: "This is easily explained. Lewis said in Malaysia that it was exhausting for him to keep the beast on the road. He succeeds with this because of his talent.

"Bottas on the other hand needs a stable car," the F1 legend added. "We could not give him that. This is our fault."

Lauda was also asked about contractual matters, with Hamilton reportedly pushing for a new deal beyond 2018.

Lauda said: "He still has a contract for 2018, so we will talk about it after Abu Dhabi."

As for rumors of a 'pre-agreement' with Max Verstappen for 2019, Lauda insisted: "There's nothing in it. Zero. Honestly, nothing at all."

F1 wants Germany on calendar – Carey

Chase Carey - show me the money Germany
Chase Carey – show me the money Germany

(GMM) Chase Carey says F1 wants to keep Germany on the calendar.

The country is missing on this year's schedule but will return next season.

But beyond 2018, there is no deal in place yet for a race in either Hockenheim or the Nurburgring.

F1 chief executive Carey told Die Welt newspaper: "Germany is very important.

"We are very clear about growth in America and Asia. But the importance of the foundation of the sport is clearly the top priority, and the foundation of the sport is in western Europe.

"Germany is the largest and most prosperous country in western Europe with a great sports history. Our world champion is German, our constructors' world champion is German.

"We would like to build on what we already have in Germany, and an event is obviously an important part of it," Carey added. "So we need to see where and how we can make it happen."

Carey was also asked about uncertainty surrounding Germany's free-to-air television coverage, but he answered: "I will not publicly negotiate.

"Publicity usually leads to disagreement and hinders decision-making and the ability to build genuine partnerships," the American insisted.

Sainz Jr. gets 20-place Suzuka grid penalty

Sainz Jr screwed by the crash and then screwed over royally by F1's silly engine rules
Sainz Jr screwed by the crash and then screwed over royally by F1's silly engine rules

Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz Jr. is set to start from the back of the field in Sunday's Grand Prix in Japan after taking on several new engine components, at the cost of a 20-place grid drop.

Sainz has moved on to a sixth MGU-H in Suzuka, as well as a fifth internal combustion engine and a fifth turbo. The first change comes with a 10-place grid drop, while the ICE and turbo each incur five-place drops.

The Spaniard's penalties were confirmed shortly after a heavy crash in the opening practice session, which caused extensive damage to his Toro Rosso.

Alongside Sainz, several other drivers have taken on new components this weekend – including Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. All four are within their allocation of four components for the season, but any further changes would result in grid penalties.

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