Latest F1 news in brief – Friday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

09/28/17

  • Bottas cannot drive Mercedes designed around Hamilton
    Bottas cannot drive Mercedes designed around Hamilton

    Driving style doesn't match Mercedes car – Bottas

  • Alonso eyes new McLaren deal before Austin
  • Too early to predict Aston Martin-powered future – Ricciardo
  • 'Culture' explains F1's Sepang demise – Ricciardo
  • Vandoorne happy as Honda slows 2017 development
  • Stroll unsure of 2018 Williams teammate
  • Wehrlein more optimistic about F1 future
  • Kvyat will 'maybe' return in 2017 – Gasly
  • Hamilton eyes Mercedes contract talks
  • Ericsson: 'Big push needed' for 2018 seat
  • Sainz to 'finish season with Toro Rosso' New
  • Bottas to make own team order decisions – Hamilton New

Driving style doesn't match Mercedes car – Bottas
(GMM) Valtteri Bottas has identified his driving style as the reason for his recent struggle.

In recent races, although the Finn has secured a new Mercedes contract for 2018, he has struggled to match the pace of championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

"In Singapore I didn't have Lewis' pace in either qualifying or the race," he admitted in Malaysia.

"Together with the engineers we have analyzed a lot," Bottas added. "It looks as though my driving style does not fit so well with what the car needs.

"So I still need to work with the team and on myself, but I am sure I will manage to do it."

Bottas is therefore confident he can turn around his slump, improve in 2018 and set the foundation for a long-term stay at Mercedes.

"This year, I had to learn a lot in a short time," he said. "But next year will be a whole new feeling and a fresh start. I can show that I deserve a long-term contract at Mercedes."

Alonso eyes new McLaren deal before Austin

One thing is certain, Alonso won't be driving an IndyCar
One thing is certain, Alonso won't be driving an IndyCar

(GMM) Fernando Alonso says he will turn his attention towards a new contract for 2018 after the forthcoming F1 double-header in Malaysia and Japan.

The Spaniard actually left Singapore a fortnight ago hinting that days spent at the McLaren factory last week would involve talks about next season.

But now, he says there will not be time to talk about a new deal for the next week or so.

"There is hardly time between Malaysia and Japan," said Alonso at Sepang. "I hope there will be more clarity between Suzuka and Austin."

With the switch to Renault power now set in stone, it is believed Alonso and McLaren have agreed in principle to keep working together in 2018.

The only sticking point may be his huge retainer.

Asked if money is the problem, Alonso answered: "No, it will not be a problem. The only problem is how competitive we will be.

"I have always said that the chance of podiums and victories have priority.

"It is hard to predict today what will happen next year. But McLaren gets its cars right more often than not. And even when they miss the goal like they did in 2009, they still manage to turn it around and win some races," he said.

Alonso also insisted that leaving the door open for 2019, when some key vacancies will open up elsewhere on the grid, is "not at all important" in his McLaren talks.

Too early to predict Aston Martin-powered future – Ricciardo
(GMM) Daniel Ricciardo says it is too early to predict a Honda or Aston Martin-powered future for Red Bull.

The Australian openly admits that with his contract ending late next year, he is not ruling out a move to a more competitive team.

A major issue is Red Bull's engine supplier.

The current relationship with Renault looks set to end; Red Bull is dipping a toe in the Honda waters with the new Toro Rosso deal; and 2018 title sponsor Aston Martin is considering entering the sport as an engine supplier.

"You'll see us gradually increase our involvement," Aston Martin chief Andy Palmer confirmed in the FIA's Auto magazine.

Asked if that means an engine supply project, he answered: "You're certainly hinting in the right direction."

But Ricciardo says it's too early to talk about Aston Martin's future in F1.

"All I know is that I'll have a great road car to drive again next year," he grinned in Malaysia.

"As for the rest, I don't know. Clearly it's great that the team is associated with a brand like Aston Martin, but how it will develop and what engines we will have in the future, I don't know.

"My contract ends next year, but it's not the time to think about 2019," said Ricciardo.

"Let's see how next season unfolds and what direction the team is moving in."

When asked what his top option would be if Red Bull does not improve, Ricciardo laughed: "Tennis?"

'Culture' explains F1's Sepang demise – Ricciardo

Fans tired of sweltering heat and humidity
Fans tired of sweltering heat and humidity

(GMM) Daniel Ricciardo thinks "culture" has a lot to do with F1's demise in Malaysia.

This weekend, after almost two decades on the calendar, Malaysia is farewelling its grand prix after deciding not to renew its contract with formula one.

One argument given by the Malaysian government is that more spectators come to Sepang for MotoGP each year.

"I can understand that," Australian Ricciardo said.

"It certainly has something to do with culture. There's a lot of traffic and a lot of people on bikes here. So they probably identify more with that.

"The people going to MotoGP is also definitely to do with the costs," the Red Bull driver added. "The purchasing power here.

"It's also fun to watch the MotoGP races, but it's not better than formula one. Valentino Rossi is pretty good but it would be better if I was there," Ricciardo grinned.

Vandoorne happy as Honda slows 2017 development

Stoffel Vandoorne
Stoffel Vandoorne

(GMM) Stoffel Vandoorne says he is comfortable with Honda's approach to the final six races of its McLaren adventure.

After the McLaren-Honda divorce was announced in Singapore, Honda chief Yusuke Hasegawa said the Japanese marque would slow down the rate of engine improvements offered to McLaren in order to avoid grid penalties.

McLaren driver Vandoorne, who will be powered by a Renault engine next year, said he can understand that approach.

"Yes, because we want to achieve the best possible results in the remaining races," he said.

"It's hard to say which approach is the best, but we just want to finish the last six races in the highest possible positions, and if possible score a few points," the Belgian added.

Earlier, it was rumored Honda was preparing its 'Spec 4' upgrade for its home race at Suzuka, but now Fernando Alonso is not so sure.

"First, the engine needs to be ready," said the Spaniard.

"Then we have to decide if the power gain is enough to justify the penalty. Honda wants to do well at Suzuka, but if it's only a few horse power and we start from the back, that will not be possible."

Stroll unsure of 2018 Williams teammate

Lance Stroll
Lance Stroll

(GMM) Lance Stroll says he is getting on with his job rather than worrying about who his teammate will be in 2018.

With Felipe Massa's future unclear, Williams has one of the highest profile cockpit vacancies for next year.

Headlining the list of candidates are Robert Kubica, Paul di Resta, Jolyon Palmer, Marcus Ericsson — and Massa himself.

"The team is 100 per cent aware of my opinion," said the Brazilian veteran. "I want to stay.

"Perhaps you journalists know more than me," he smiled.

After losing his chance at Renault, meanwhile, Pole Kubica's F1 comeback chances may be dwindling.

He told the FIA's Auto magazine: "I am very realistic and I know that the possibility of my returning full-time to racing in formula one is very slight."

And Renault refugee Jolyon Palmer is believed to be toying with a switch to Indycar.

Canadian Stroll, on the other hand, is definitely safe at Williams for 2018.

So when asked what his opinion is regarding his next teammate, Stroll answered: "It's my job to drive the car and deciding the drivers is up to the team."

But he denied he needs a figure like Massa alongside him as a "mentor".

"I do not regard Felipe as my mentor anyway," he said. "For me he is just a very good reference point.

"In my opinion, the most important thing is to have a team player. Someone to score points, and work with yourself and the team to achieve maximum results.

"In the end that is exactly what Felipe did," Stroll added.

"For next year, what will be will be. Of course, with a new teammate the situation changes, but I don't know if it would be better or worse. We'll see."

Wehrlein more optimistic about F1 future

Mercedes reaching deep to keep Pascal Wehrlein in F1
Mercedes reaching deep to keep Pascal Wehrlein in F1

(GMM) Pascal Wehrlein thinks his chances of staying in F1 next year are now "quite good".

Earlier, the Mercedes-backed German seemed resigned to losing his place at Sauber, as the Swiss team ramps up its relationship with Ferrari.

But now, the big rumor is that Marcus Ericsson could be the driver set to lose his place to Ferrari junior Charles Leclerc.

Wehrlein said in Malaysia: "There is still nothing new.

"But I think there will be a decision in the next few weeks. This year we will not have to wait as long as last year."

When asked if he is now more positive than a few weeks ago about his prospects for 2018, he answered: "I think the chances are quite good.

"But during the season I try to only think about the coming races.

"Of course I will always be informed when there are new developments. Toto (Wolff) tells me of any important phone calls and of course I always talk with Fred (Vasseur).

"I'm assuming I'll be in formula one next year," Wehrlein added.

Kvyat will 'maybe' return in 2017 – Gasly

Kvyat might return in 2017 if his checks start flowing to Toro Rosso again
Kvyat might return in 2017 if his checks start flowing to Toro Rosso again

(GMM) Pierre Gasly has confirmed reports he is not sure how many races he will contest for Toro Rosso this year.

What is fairly certain is that the 21-year-old Frenchman will be Carlos Sainz's full-time replacement at the junior Red Bull team next year.

But for now, the man he has ousted in Malaysia – Daniil Kvyat – could be back in the car after the Malaysia-Japan double-header, as Gasly returns to fight for his title in Japan's Super Formula championship.

When asked about that at Sepang, Gasly answered: "It's a really good question.

"At the moment I don't know exactly what's going to happen in the next couple of weeks."

One of Toro Rosso's sponsors declared this week that the Gasly deal is currently only for the next two races.

Gasly commented: "At the moment, I don't know how many races I'm going to do. There is nothing confirmed. The team told me to focus on this weekend and try to do my best."

As for the ousted Kvyat, Gasly said he feels bad for the Russian.

"Of course I feel sorry for him, I think he's a really talented driver," he said.

"Unfortunately, it's happening and I'm taking his seat. But I'm pretty sure we will see him back on the grid at some point maybe. We will see what happens in the near future."

Hamilton eyes Mercedes contract talks

Hamilton will still sign a new deal with Mercedes
Hamilton will still sign a new deal with Mercedes

(GMM) Lewis Hamilton says he would like to negotiate a new contract with Mercedes.

Throughout 2017, the triple world champion has been sending mixed messages about his future — hinting about a new deal beyond 2018 and then suggesting he could retire.

Asked to explain that contradiction, the Briton said in Malaysia: "Racing really gives me more pleasure than ever.

"But you have to look ahead. So I'm thinking about the decisions that I will take in the future.

"The longer I put off leaving the sport, the later my – how do I say it? – 'next life' will begin," Hamilton, 31, explained.

"So I'm just trying to weigh everything up. In the meantime I'm continuing my career in formula one."

So when asked about reports of a new three-year contract with Mercedes beginning in 2019, Hamilton answered: "At some point in the near future it will be the time to discuss it.

"Actually I think right now is a good time for negotiations, because I'm in great shape. You always want to negotiate a deal when you're winning and leading the championship!" he smiled.

Ericsson: 'Big push needed' for 2018 seat

That 'big push' Ericsson needs is a big check
That 'big push' Ericsson needs is a big check

Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson says "a big push is needed" over the final stages of the season if he is to convince the team to extend his contract into 2018.

Ericsson has raced for Sauber since 2015, and has links with owner Longbow Finance, which purchased the Swiss outfit midway through the 2016 season.

However, his last points finish came more than two years ago, at the 2015 Italian Grand Prix, and he admits he needs to prove that he "deserves" to be in Formula 1.

"Nothing is done at the moment for me," he said of his future.

"I need to keep pushing and do good, the last couple of races now, to show that I deserve to be in F1 next year.

"It's important, even though we are struggling a bit as a team to keep up with the other guys, it's still very important races for me, so yeah, a big push is needed."

Sauber, running year-old Ferrari power units, has been cut adrift of the pack in 2017, but Ericsson says both he and the team must keep pushing.

"With the old power unit it was always going to be difficult towards the second half of the season," he added.

"And now we're really see in the last couple of races that we've been lacking quite a lot compared to the competition, so it's tough.

"But we need to still, as a team, keep pushing and keep motivated and do the best we can to maximize the performance, and we can see crazy races.

"In Singapore, it was an opportunity with a lot of things happening with the rain there, so it's these types of circumstances that can play into our hands.

"Here in Malaysia as well, the weather can really play a big part.

"We need to be there to maximize and try to take the opportunities. I thing that's the important thing to keep the motivation high and keep pushing as a team."

Ferrari-backed F2 title leader Charles Leclerc, preparing to make the first of four practice outings with the team at Sepang, is set to take one of Sauber's seats for 2018.

Sainz Jr. to 'finish season with Toro Rosso'

Carlos Sainz Jr.
Carlos Sainz Jr.

(GMM) Carlos Sainz Jr. says he is staying in his Toro Rosso seat for the rest of 2018.

In the weeks before Malaysia, there were rumours the Spaniard would make his move to Renault before this season is concluded, to make way for Pierre Gasly's debut.

But Gasly is instead debuting in the ousted Daniil Kvyat's place this weekend, meaning Sainz looks set to stay until the Abu Dhabi finale.

Reportedly, the Sainz move was called off because Jolyon Palmer and his father Jonathan Palmer turned down Renault's EUR 3 million 2017 contract buyout offer.

In Singapore, Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost emotionally told Sainz on the radio that he wanted him to stay.

"I appreciate Franz's confidence in me," Sainz said at Sepang.

"For now there is no worry, because at the moment I know that I will finish the season in Toro Rosso. It looks like that's going to happen."

Bottas to make own team order decisions – Hamilton

Bottas too slow to help Hamilton
Bottas too slow to help Hamilton

(GMM) Lewis Hamilton says he does not expect teammate Valtteri Bottas to be his 'number 2' for the rest of the 2017 season.

Most insiders would agree that the 2017 title battle is now between Hamilton and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.

But Hamilton said that doesn't mean he expects the sister Mercedes car to pull over for him.

"My goal is to make sure we are not in that position to need it," the Briton is quoted by Spain's Marca.

"Valtteri will make his own decisions in the situation, if he even feels that he is out of the title fight," Hamilton added.

Earlier this year, Hamilton gave up some championship points when he voluntarily moved aside for Bottas, to honour a previous change of position.

"After Hungary, Valtteri told me that he did not expect me to return the position," Hamilton revealed. "I thought 'Sh-t!'

"Valtteri wants to beat me on the track as much as I want to beat him."

Leave a Reply