Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Paul di Resta
    Paul di Resta

    Kubica and di Resta in Williams 'shootout' test

  • Verstappen can win again in 2017 – Lammers
  • Montezemolo backs 'unreliable' Ferrari car
  • Haas wants Sepang to pay Grosjean repair bill
  • Force India named in Mallya money laundering
  • Red Bull to consider Ricciardo replacement – Marko
  • Mercedes used Bottas as 'road block' – Vettel
  • USGP Promoter does not want race back-to-back with Mexico
  • Ferrari making changes after engine failures
  • Pirelli predicts 'truly impressive' Gs at Suzuka

Kubica and di Resta in Williams 'shootout' test

Robert Kubica
Robert Kubica

(GMM) Robert Kubica will test for the Williams team later this month, amid reports he is a contender to replace Felipe Massa next year.

Multiple media sources report that the Pole will drive in a test being unofficially billed as a 'shootout' against Paul di Resta — another major candidate to become Lance Stroll's 2018 teammate.

"The Pole, who was badly injured in a rally accident in 2011, is expected to test for one day at Silverstone in October and one more day in Budapest," the German news agency DPA reports.

It is believed the Budapest test will in fact take place over two days with a 2014-spec Williams.

"No official statement was available," DPA acknowledged.

Now supported in his F1 comeback bid by reigning world champion Nico Rosberg, 32-year-old Kubica has conducted track tests with Renault earlier in 2017.

Brazilian Massa, however, also wants to be considered by Williams for 2018.

"There are people on the team who understand motor sport and they support me," he is quoted as saying in Malaysia last week

"It is not the engineers who make the decision," Massa added.

Verstappen can win again in 2017 – Lammers

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen

(GMM) Max Verstappen could win another race before the end of the 2017 season.

That is the view of former F1 driver Jan Lammers, who like the 20-year-old Red Bull driver is Dutch.

"If Max had not had disproportionately bad luck this year, he probably would have won two or three already," Lammers, referring to Verstappen's Malaysian grand prix victory, told De Telegraaf newspaper.

"I expect Red Bull to win another race in the remaining five races this season."

Verstappen's father, another former F1 driver Jos Verstappen, agrees.

"Will this be the first of many victories? I think so," the former Minardi driver said.

"I hope this is something we get used to, and the sooner the better."

Red Bull started 2017 clearly behind Mercedes and Ferrari, but the team has steadily improved.

"We have been very fast since Budapest, but it was important that everything went smoothly on a Sunday," team official Dr Helmut Marko told Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

"Our goal must be to get on the podium in the last five races."

Montezemolo backs 'unreliable' Ferrari car

Luca di Montezemolo should know about unreliable Ferraris. When he ran the team they were both slow and unreliable
Luca di Montezemolo should know about unreliable Ferraris. When he ran the team they were both slow and unreliable

(GMM) Luca di Montezemolo has backed Ferrari, amid criticism of the Italian marque's poor car reliability in Malaysia.

Current Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne this week admitted Sepang last weekend made him angry, vowing organizational changes after both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen suffered car problems.

But Marchionne's predecessor, Montezemolo, hailed Ferrari's step forward in 2017.

"I think everyone realizes now that we are close," he is quoted by Corriere dello Sport.

"The world championship is difficult but there are still five races and with this car it is justified to believe."

And so Montezemolo defended Ferrari, even after two separate technical problems in Malaysia that prevented a likely victory last Sunday.

"The important thing is to have a fast car," he said.

"Ferrari could have been first and second in the last two races. But it is better to have a fast car that is liable to break than a reliable car that is behind."

Haas wants Sepang to pay Grosjean repair bill

Grosjean destroyed Haas
Grosjean destroyed Haas

(GMM) Gunther Steiner has confirmed reports he is seeking compensation for Haas' repair bill from last weekend's Malaysian grand prix.

In practice, Romain Grosjean's car sustained a reported $650,000 in damage when a drain cover came loose on the Sepang circuit.

An invoice made out to Sepang boss Razlan Razali did the rounds on the internet, but it turned out to be a fake.

"It is purely a malicious attempt by certain parties to somehow disrupt the finale of the Malaysian grand prix this year," Razali said.

But Steiner has confirmed that Haas is indeed pushing Sepang to pay the bill.

"We can't simply say 'Ok, we lose three quarters of a million dollars because someone forgot to do some welding," he is quoted by the Spanish daily Marca.

"We paid to come to Malaysia — everyone pays. We have talked about it and they were professional," Steiner added.

"They have insurance, so let's see what we can do."

Force India named in Mallya money laundering

Vijay Mally
Vijay Mallya

(GMM) 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, quoting a prosecutor as saying one charge involves money laundering that "relates to Force India formula one 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."

Red Bull to consider Ricciardo replacement – Marko

We predict Ricciardo will go to Ferrari and Verstappen to Mercedes...unless Honda comes good, really good
We predict Ricciardo will go to Ferrari and Verstappen to Mercedes…unless Honda comes good, really good

(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko has admitted Red Bull is already looking for "alternatives" to Daniel Ricciardo for 2019.

It looks certain the energy drink company's premier F1 team will line up next year with unchanged drivers, with Ricciardo joining Max Verstappen once again.

But Australian Ricciardo has been making noises about a potential move for 2019.

"Verstappen has a longer contract," team official Marko told Auto Motor und Sport. "But Ricciardo is already on the market.

"We have to look for alternatives. We will not be unprepared."

Indeed, while Carlos Sainz is being loaned to Renault next year, Red Bull has the option to pull him back into the Red Bull family for 2019.

Sainz will undoubtedly be replaced at the junior team Toro Rosso next year by Pierre Gasly, who already made his debut in Malaysia.

"In Q1 he was only one and a half tenths from Sainz," Marko said of the Frenchman. "And even in the race, when he was running alone, the laptimes were at Sainz's level."

Marko said Red Bull will "tell you (the media) at Suzuka" whether Gasly will stay in the car for the rest of the season or Daniil Kvyat will return.

He is more forthcoming about Red Bull's hopes for 2018 and beyond, despite a bad start to the season for the premier team this year.

"We are ensuring that it does not happen again," said Marko. "There is a new procedure in the wind tunnel and we are not even finished developing this car."

But the paddock is now expecting Red Bull to split with Renault at the end of next year, with the only option being a speculated move to Honda for 2019.

Asked if he is worried about that, Marko answered: "Not at all. We are fully focused on the current car and 2018.

"And when you look at where McLaren is now finishing, it strengthens us in the decision that we have taken at least with Toro Rosso."

Mercedes used Bottas as 'road block' – Vettel

Has Mercedes detuned Bottas' car so he can block for Hamilton?
Has Mercedes detuned Bottas' car so he can be a moving chicane behind Hamilton? Strange that he went from beating Hamilton to being so much slower.

(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has accused Valtteri Bottas of deliberately holding him up during last weekend's Malaysian grand prix.

Bottas and Mercedes have each denied that the Finnish driver is now clearly the 'number 2' to championship contender Lewis Hamilton.

But Ferrari star Vettel alleges that last Sunday at Sepang, as he made his way through the field from last, he was held up by a deliberately baulking Bottas.

"It was clear what Mercedes were doing," the German is quoted by Krone newspaper.

"The used Bottas as a road block," Vettel added.

However, it may well be that 28-year-old Bottas was simply struggling for pace.

After Sepang, and following a run of poor performance, the Finn admitted he is currently suffering "the most difficult time of my career so far".

"If I keep doing races like this for long, that is not going to be a good thing for anyone," he said.

USGP Promoter does not want race back-to-back with Mexico

Bobby Epstein
Bobby Epstein

U.S. Grand Prix promoter Bobby Epstein is "still pushing for his race in Texas to be split from neighboring Mexico" on the Formula 1 calendar, according to Alan Baldwin of REUTERS.

The two races are on back-to-back weekends, with Austin's Circuit of the Americas playing host on Oct. 22 before the action shifts to Mexico City's Aut¢dromo Hermanos Rodríguez on Oct. 29. Epstein has "long maintained" that the scheduling is more geared for F1's "convenience, from a standpoint of logistics and saving on freight costs, than in the best interests of fans and sponsors."

Any hopes that F1 owner Liberty Media might change the arrangement were "dashed when the pairing was retained" on the draft '18 calendar.

Epstein said, "They came out with their calendar in June … and I don't expect that to change any time soon. I think it's going to be that way. It would certainly be better for the promoter if the races were further apart on the calendar. Mexico with Canada. We'd be with Brazil." REUTERS

Ferrari making changes after engine failures

Sergio Marchionne
Sergio Marchionne

Ferrari will introduce "different standards" after both of its cars suffered engine failures at the Malaysian Grand Prix, says President Sergio Marchionne.

Sebastian Vettel lined up at the back of the grid at Sepang, due to a failure in qualifying, while Kimi Räikkönen, second on the grid, was unable to even start.

Both issues were linked to the airflow connecting the engine to the turbo, though there has been no official word from the team on the exact causes.

Vettel recovered from last to fourth position, but he is now 34 points adrift of title leader Lewis Hamilton, with Ferrari falling 118 behind Mercedes.

Marchionne reckons that, without the engine problems, and the first-lap collision in Singapore, Ferrari could have finished 1-2 at the past two races.

"The fact that both the Ferraris could have beaten everybody is undisputed," Marchionne was quoted by Reuters at an event in Rovereto, northern Italy.

"It was also the case in Singapore.

"Without external factors, those cars would have been first and second."

Marchionne made reference to Ferrari's "young" engine department as he declared that the "entire chain" would be addressed to ensure no repeat.

"We are addressing the entire chain to impose different standards," he said.

"It's one thing breaking an engine on the bench at home, but it really looks bad when you have to be pushed off the grid from second place.

"It's enough to make you pull your hair out."

Pirelli predicts 'truly impressive' Gs at Suzuka

Suzuka
Suzuka

Formula 1 tire supplier Pirelli has predicted "truly impressive" g-force loadings at the Japanese Grand Prix, given 2017's overhauled regulations and the layout of the Suzuka circuit.

Formula 1 introduced wider cars and fatter tires this season, in order to boost downforce and grip, making the sport faster and more challenging for drivers.

At the season-opener in Australia, official Formula 1 data analysis showed a year-on-year increase of more than 1g, with the peak forces rising to 6.5g.

In addition, new lap records have been set at eight out of 15 races so far: Russia, Monaco, Azerbaijan, Austria, Britain, Belgium, Singapore and Malaysia.

Mario Isola, Head of Car Racing at Pirelli, says another lap record is likely to be set this weekend, along with significant gs, given the loadings previously witnessed at Suzuka.

Pirelli's Super Soft, Soft and Medium compounds will be supplied.

"The Japanese Grand Prix continues the trend we've seen so far this year of bringing softer, and therefore faster, tires to several Grands Prix compared to last season," said Isola.

"In the case of Suzuka, this is particularly pertinent.

"It's one of the most challenging tracks for tires of the entire year, with a very big emphasis on lateral loads that can cause thermal degradation if the tires are not properly managed.

"This is also one of the reasons why the drivers enjoy Suzuka so much.

"With the cars travelling a lot faster through the corners this year, it's very possible that we will see another lap record fall and some truly impressive maximum g-force loadings."

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