Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Now Vettel must be taking the same halluciogen Alonso was on. The mmajority of races remaining favoor the longer wheelbase Aldo Costa design. He chose the longer wheelbase after studying all the track configurations. Vettel has near zero chance of beating Hamilton
    Now Vettel must be taking the same hallucinogen Alonso was on. The majority of races remaining favor the longer wheelbase Aldo Costa design of Mercedes. Vettel has near zero chance of beating Hamilton

    Vettel still believes he can beat Hamilton

  • McLaren-Renault to benefit both sides in 2018 – Prost
  • Honda to slow engine upgrades to McLaren
  • 'Body language' shows Alonso staying – Boullier
  • Verstappen says he's faster than Ricciardo
  • 2017 championship 'not decided yet' – Brawn
  • Haas 'hasn't given up' on taking seventh
  • Gasly received F1 promotion text on Monday

Vettel still believes he can beat Hamilton
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel does not think his championship hopes ended in Singapore.

The German was widely criticized for causing the first lap crash that ultimately left him 28 points behind Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton with just six races to go.

But Vettel told Sport Bild: "There are enough races left to catch up.

"I am looking race by race but I strongly believe that we can still do it. It's a setback but I keep fighting."

The Ferrari driver also said he is unmoved by the strong criticism of his driving in Singapore, including by the partisan Italian media.

"I can live with that," Vettel insisted.

"It's always easy to form opinions from the outside — in this case about something that took five seconds to happen."

He denied that he was overzealous in Singapore, particularly in the heat of a close championship battle and when starting from pole.

"Basically, I always try to get the best out of a start, but I'm also not desperate. It's in the middle. If there is a chance to make or defend a place, you have to go for it."

And so, starting with this weekend's race in Malaysia, Vettel said he is optimistic for the final part of the season.

"I believe we have a strong package and we are full of confidence. Even if the results were missing in the last three races and we lost the lead, I still have hope.

"Why? Because the car is fast. And because we still have a few things planned. Whether it all works — let's see. But I believe in us," he added.

McLaren-Renault to benefit both sides in 2018 – Prost

The McLaren won't beat the Aldo Costa designed Mercedes regardless what engine they use
The McLaren won't beat the Aldo Costa designed Mercedes regardless what engine they use

(GMM) Alain Prost thinks the new McLaren-Renault alliance for 2018 will help both parties.

It was finally confirmed a fortnight ago in Singapore that McLaren and Honda are splitting, with the British team tying up with Renault instead.

Prost, who is a Renault advisor, says he sympathizes with Honda's struggle.

"Quite honestly, even Renault – the pioneer of the V6 turbo – did not arrive with an exceptional power unit," he told France's Auto Hebdo.

"And even after four season it is not at the level of Mercedes," added Prost, the quadruple world champion and former McLaren driver.

The F1 legend joins those who are surprised that the McLaren-Honda relationship did not work.

"They (McLaren) are in their fifth season without victory and certainly believed that in relaunching the Honda partnership they would quickly relive their best moments from the past," said Prost.

"Especially with that third big name in the mix, Fernando Alonso, who is also in a hurry to win again."

Now, there will be pressure on the brand new McLaren-Renault partnership, which Prost thinks will be good for both sides.

"The Renault engine is probably not the best, but it is getting there and will be missing very little next year against the Mercedes. And that little amount can be offset by some other aspects that contribute to performance," he said.

"And McLaren, who know very well the ups and downs of this discipline as well, will also bring a lot to Renault," added Prost.

Honda to slow engine upgrades to McLaren

Honda now wants McLaren to finish as low in the manufacturers standings as possible as payback for being dumped. They will focus on next year's engine for Toro Rosso
Honda now wants McLaren to finish as low in the manufacturers standings as possible as payback for being dumped. They will focus on next year's engine for Toro Rosso

(GMM) Honda looks set to slow down the improvements to its engine made available to McLaren for the remaining races of 2017.

It was confirmed in Singapore two weeks ago that the Japanese's works partnership with McLaren will end, as Honda switches to Toro Rosso next year.

Spain's El Confidencial newspaper now quotes Honda F1 chief Yusuke Hasegawa as saying the marque wants to "minimize the engine evolutions" released to McLaren from now on.

"Previously, we prioritized performance, as any improvement would be also for next year," he is quoted as saying.

The Japanese is also quoted by Italy's Autosprint: "Now we would like to get maximum results. We will no longer work with Stoffel and Fernando next year so it means we can focus on McLaren's results this year."

However, Hasegawa also said it is possible Honda will introduce engine upgrades before the season concludes in November.

"If we succeed in having a big development then we will not hesitate," he said.

"It could be in Malaysia or Suzuka or the United States. Obviously we will try to avoid a penalty at Suzuka, but six races remain and we could introduce a new engine."

'Body language' shows Alonso staying – Boullier

No one else wants or can afford him. Of course he is staying at McLaren.
No one else wants or can afford him. Of course he is staying at McLaren.

(GMM) Little doubt remains that Fernando Alonso is staying in F1 with McLaren next year.

The Spaniard reportedly pushed for the British team to swap its Honda engines for a Renault deal for 2018.

But the Spanish newspaper AS reports that it could be a month before Alonso's decision is actually made public.

"September was the month chosen by Alonso to decide, but according to our sources, the official communication will be at the end of October although he hopes it could be earlier," reported journalist Manuel Franco.

McLaren team boss Eric Boullier is in little doubt about the 36-year-old's intentions.

"Alonso wants to stay," the Finnish broadcaster MTV quotes him as saying. "You can see it in his body language and in his comments."

Boullier said he is confident that McLaren will take a considerable step forward next year.

"We know what the car is capable of doing with a proper engine, which is why we decide to move to Renault," he said.

"We also need a top driver, so keeping Alonso is important."

Verstappen says he's faster than Ricciardo

Verstappen says he is superior. It fails to register in his brain that Ricciardo sets his car up to perform better in the race. That is why on race day he always beats Verstappen. The lad has a lot to learn.
Verstappen says he is superior. It fails to register in his brain that Ricciardo sets his car up to perform better in the race. That is why on race day he always beats Verstappen. The lad has a lot to learn.

(GMM) Max Verstappen thinks he is driving better than his teammate Daniel Ricciardo this year.

That is despite the fact the young Dutchman has not scored even half the amount of points compared to his fellow Red Bull driver Ricciardo.

But Verstappen says it's all about the reliability of his car.

"What can I do?" the 19-year-old told Auto Motor und Sport.

"I just have to see the positives of the season, which is qualifying. The speed is there," Verstappen said.

"Even in the race I was always in good positions before I failed."

He rejects the notion that his driving style is somehow contributing to his constant technical problems.

"My approach is right, so why should I change something? I am fast," he said.

"We can see from the telemetry that I don't do anything wrong or different to Daniel. It's just funny that the problems on race day are always on my car."

Still, Verstappen says he is consoled by the fact that he is regularly beating Australian Ricciardo in qualifying.

"Daniel was always known as a fast qualifier," he said. "He is very fast. But I am faster this year by three or four tenths on average. That's a lot of time."

And so with a Mercedes or Ferrari at his disposal, he is "100 per cent convinced" that he would be fighting for the title.

"I am very self-confident," Verstappen added. "I am also honest and straightforward — I do not lie.

"The only thing I want is a winning car."

He will not comment on Red Bull's potential post-2018 future with Honda, saying only that Renault is pushing to up its game.

But Verstappen said he is happy with Red Bull.

"In general the mood in the team is better and better," he said. "In the corners we are close to the others, but often we use more downforce to compensate for our power deficit so it's hard to say exactly where we need to improve.

"Everything is in the right direction, but much of it is not in our hands. The car is our hands though and so that's what we have to make the most of."

2017 championship 'not decided yet' – Brawn

Brawn is trying to play up Vettel's chances so fans don't switch off the TV. Hamilton will bury Vettel in the longer wheelbase car at almost all the remaining circuits. It's over.
Brawn is trying to play up Vettel's chances so fans don't switch off the TV. Hamilton will bury Vettel in the longer wheelbase car at almost all the remaining circuits. It's over.

(GMM) Ross Brawn has backed Sebastian Vettel's view that the Ferrari driver is still in the title hunt.

Vettel's hopes took a big hit in Singapore, with the German widely blamed for a first-corner crash that blew out his points deficit to Lewis Hamilton to 28 points.

But there are six races to go and Brawn, the F1 sporting boss, thinks Vettel can catch up.

"Absolutely," he told Auto Bild.

"Mercedes has had a run and is doing a super job, but the world championship is not decided," Brawn added.

"Singapore was a typical start accident, but Vettel is a fighter who never gives up. If he manages it, it will be more than deserved."

Brawn is a key part of F1's new Liberty Media era, with the former Ferrari and Mercedes boss now watching races alongside the television director.

"I'm here as an enthusiast, but I'm also trying to get involved," he said. "If I notice a certain race strategy developing, I'll point the director to it."

He also thinks there are other things F1 can do to improve.

"We definitely need more cars capable of winning, some different circuits," said Brawn. "The engine makes too much of a difference. But in the short term there's not much we can do.

"Longer term we will simplify the engines and a budget cap would also help," he added.

As for the 2017 season, Brawn says he is "very happy" with what he has seen.

"Three teams are fighting for victory, which is great," he said. "Of course, I recall my time with Michael and Ferrari very fondly, but domination is always bad for the sport.

"We now have real competition, Lewis against Sebastian, which attracts the fans again. We've already seen some records at some races. And if next year we provide more website content, we will raise it to a higher level again," added Brawn.

Haas 'hasn't given up' on taking seventh

Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner fighting for 7th.
Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner fighting for 7th.

Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner says the outfit "hasn't given up" on taking seventh in the Constructors' Championship this year, despite slipping to the back of the midfield group.

Haas finished eighth in its rookie campaign in the sport in 2016, and set its sights on moving up "a position or two" in the standings this year.

Both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen have contributed to Haas' points tally of 37, more than it amassed in 2016, but it fell behind Renault in Singapore, and now holds eighth overall.

Steiner, though, is confident that Haas can still battle for seventh in the championship, as it faces just a five-point deficit to primary rival Renault.

"We still want to achieve seventh, or the best result we can, we haven't given up," said Steiner, ahead of this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix.

"Singapore was one of the worst tracks for us, including Hungary. We knew we'd be weak on those tracks, and we were.

"We got away with two points, so we got away better than we expected to.

"Hopefully, at the other tracks, we won't be this far behind the midfield.

"In the midfield, anything and everything can happen. It's up and down all the time. Regardless, we'll work hard to achieve seventh."

Steiner also outlined that Haas is pressing on with the development of its 2018 car, alongside its current ambition of taking seventh in the standings.

"We decided a long time ago that we would start focusing full-time on the 2018 car in August, and we started partially on our 2018 car in March," he said.

"You have to plan it well because it's so complex, but everyone else is working on their 2018 car as well.

"If you were to develop something at this point for the current car and you put it into production, when it comes out it would be too late.

"If you develop something now, you won't get it to the racetrack for this year."

Gasly received F1 promotion text on Monday

Pierre Gasly
Pierre Gasly

Pierre Gasly says he was only informed on Monday that he might be making his Formula 1 debut at the Malaysian Grand Prix, as he prepares to step in for Daniil Kvyat.

Gasly, a member of Red Bull's young driver scheme since 2014, claimed last year's GP2 title, but Toro Rosso opted to retain Kvyat, with the Frenchman placed in Super Formula.

Red Bull, though, has now "stood down" Kvyat for the next two Grands Prix, with Gasly handed his debut in the sport, as the company evaluates its options for 2018.

"I knew there were things going on with Red Bull, but then I didn't know exactly what," Gasly said.

"I travelled from Japan on Monday. I was racing last weekend in Super Formula in Sugo.

"I travelled from Tokyo on Monday to Malaysia, and when I got here I received a text saying that I might be driving this weekend.

"I got really excited about it. I tried to sleep on Monday night, which was a bit difficult, with all the excitement!

"On Tuesday morning I had the confirmation that I was going to drive. It was an amazing moment and great news."

Gasly added that Toro Rosso's plan for the remainder of the season, beyond next weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, has not yet been determined.

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

"I'm just fully focusing on the weekend, trying to do my best and learn as quickly as possible.

"It's a great opportunity for me to [to race with] Carlos [Sainz Jr.], who is on top of his game at the moment – he's a really good benchmark for me.

"We'll focus on the weekend and then we'll see what's going happen in the next few weeks a bit later."

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