Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Vettel has zero chance to win the 2017 title now as most of the races remaining favor the longer wheelbase Mercedes chassis. It is over despite Brawn saying it's not to ensure fans bother to tune in to the races
    Vettel has zero chance to win the 2017 title now as most of the remaining circuits favor the longer wheelbase Mercedes chassis. It is over despite Brawn saying it's not to ensure fans bother to tune in to the races

    Vettel can still win 2017 title – Brawn

  • Earthquake hits Mexico before October F1 race
  • Perez donates to Mexico earthquake fund
  • Aston Martin shows interest in engine supply
  • Mercedes Singapore GP rundown
  • Boullier: We will have the same engine as Red Bull
  • Renault eyeing big name for 2019 season
  • Singapore Grand Prix Strategy Analysis

Vettel can still win 2017 title – Brawn
(GMM) F1 boss Ross Brawn has backed Sebastian Vettel to bounce back and continue to fight for the 2017 title.

After Singapore, where the Ferrari driver was blamed for the first-corner crash, the Italian press said it was the death knell for Vettel's title hopes.

But Brawn, the F1 sporting boss, does not even agree that Singapore was clearly the German's fault.

"Such a thing can always happen," he told Germany's Sport Bild.

"It was a typical first lap accident," Brawn added.

And the Briton, who was the technical boss at Ferrari throughout the super-successful Michael Schumacher era, also backed Vettel to recover his 28 point deficit to Lewis Hamilton.

"The world championship is by no means over," said Brawn.

"There are still six races to go. Vettel and Ferrari are so strong that they can still win the world cup on their own power."

Brawn admitted that he has a soft spot for Vettel and Ferrari, saying the pairing reminds him of his time at Maranello with Schumacher.

"It's inevitable that Sebastian and Ferrari remind me of my time at Ferrari," he admitted.

"Sebastian resembles Michael very much in the way he stands by the team and sees himself as part of the whole. And I recognize the same discipline and focus in bringing Ferrari back to the top.

"It will remain a tough battle between Lewis and him, but if he does it, he will have earned it," Brawn said.

Earthquake hits Mexico before October F1 race

The earthquake was not centered far from Mexico City
The earthquake was not centered far from Mexico City

(GMM) A dark cloud has moved above Mexico, just over a month before the country is scheduled to host its grand prix.

Over 200 lives have been lost as buildings crumbled around greater Mexico City, where the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is due to welcome F1 late next month.

Sergio Perez, F1's only Mexican driver, announced on Twitter that he is donating $170,000 towards the earthquake relief effort.

"I'm deeply concerned about what my country is going through," he said. "It's time to be united."

Indeed, football stadiums as well as the F1 circuit are being used as humanitarian staging areas as authorities deal with the crisis caused by the magnitude 7.1 quake.

The famous Estadio Azteca football stadium, meanwhile, has reportedly been damaged, but a spokesman for the Mexican grand prix denied the Mexico City circuit is also affected.

There were some reports of damage, including to the asphalt on the main straight, but "various good sources say the venue is in good condition", the Spanish newspaper AS reported.

The F1 track's media spokesman confirmed: "Everything is in good condition, although there were reports of damage.

"Further reviews together with the authorities will be carried out to verify that this is so," he added.

Perez donates to Mexico earthquake fund

Perez gives back
Perez gives back

Force India driver Sergio Perez has donated three million pesos (around £125,000) to help those affected by the recent earthquake in his native Mexico.

Tuesday's earthquake, measuring 7.1 magnitude, killed more than 200 people after toppling dozens of buildings in the country's capital, Mexico City.

In a post on social media, Perez called for a "united" front.

"I'm deeply concerned for what my country is living," he said.

"I've made an alliance with [Fundacion Carlos Slim] and for each $1 that [Fundacion Checo Perez] receives, they will donate $5.

"I'd like to kick off this initiative by donating three million pesos."

Mexico is set to host its Grand Prix from October 27-29.

Aston Martin shows interest in engine supply

The current F1 engine formula, devised by Mercedes, has ruined F1 in many aspects - costs have skyrocketed, Mercedes has a hugh HP advantage, and the cars sound sick
The current F1 engine formula, devised by Mercedes, has ruined F1 in many aspects – costs have skyrocketed, Mercedes has a huge HP advantage, and the cars sound sick

Aston Martin "might be interested" in becoming a Formula 1 engine supplier, depending on the make-up of the post-2020 regulations, according to CEO Andy Palmer.

Formula 1 has used 1.8-liter V6 turbocharged power units since 2014, but earlier this year agreed to introduce simpler, cheaper and noisier engines from the 2021 season.

Formula 1's four-point engine plan for 2021:

– A desire to maintain Formula 1 as the pinnacle of motorsport technology, and as a laboratory for developing technology that is relevant to road cars
– Striving for future power units to be powerful, while becoming simpler and less costly to develop and produce
– Improving the sound of the power units
– A desire to allow drivers to drive harder at all times

Current power unit manufacturers, along with manufacturers not involved in Formula 1, have attended technical meetings on the subject, as work continues to define the rules.

Palmer confirmed at the Singapore Grand Prix that Aston Martin, which already has a relationship with Red Bull, would be open to becoming an engine supplier, but only if costs are lowered.

"I'm over here negotiating what we look like in the sport for next year, but it's somewhat predicated on what the 2021 engine regulations look like," Palmer told Sky Sports.

"If we can get more theatre back into the sport, and if we can reduce the cost of the engine, then Aston might be interested in producing an independent engine.

"And with that independent engine, with that kind of destination in mind, obviously it would make sense for us to increase our participation, even as soon as next year."

Palmer hopes that the regulations will be outlined "by the end of the year".

Red Bull technical chief Adrian Newey has been working with Aston Martin on the Valkyrie hypercar, powered by Cosworth, another manufacturer involved in the post-2020 talks.

Mercedes Singapore GP rundown

Another double podium for Mercedes
Another double podium for Mercedes

The Singapore Grand Prix has been one of the standout fixtures on the Formula 1 race calendar since making its debut in the 2008 season.

In the tenth running of the event last weekend, something unusual happened: the first rain-affected night race in the history of Formula 1.

Although the Silver Arrows have an ambivalent relationship with the tricky Marina Bay Street Circuit, Sunday was a day of celebration for the team, as Lewis Hamilton ended a dramatic race by clinching his 60th GP victory, his third on this track and his seventh of the 2017 campaign.

Lewis also clocked the fastest race lap for the seventh time this year with a time of 1:45.008 minutes.

Valtteri Bottas made it a double podium for Mercedes with third place – his best race result in Singapore and his tenth Top Three finish of the season.

It was GP win number 73 for the Silver Arrows, their ninth of 2017 and their third on the Singapore street circuit.

But the team was not only fast out on the track: the pit crew performed the two fastest stops of the race, sending Lewis on his way in 2.27 seconds and Valtteri in 2.40 seconds. This was the third race weekend in succession that the team has carried out the fastest pit stop.

Boullier: We will have the same engine as Red Bull

Boullier claims McLaren will have the same engine as Red Bull
Boullier claims McLaren will have the same engine as Red Bull

McLaren chief Eric Boullier is upbeat about his team’s future as a Renault customer from 2018 and beyond, and believes that with the French manufacturer the Woking outfit can again be a force in Formula 1 while admitting that parting ways with Honda was tough.

Boullier, a former Renault team principal, told the official F1 website, “We are ‘privileged customers’ with Renault. We will have the same engine and access to information as Enstone or Red Bull Racing, so this is a real partnership with Renault."

“We also have the possibility to work with them – to put ideas in the box for the future that might be taken into consideration. That will allow us to influence in the future. But yes, a full works team is different from our situation in 2018."

“But it is like in school: you look at the pluses and the minuses – and looking at all the pluses and minuses we made our decision, which we believe will be the best one for McLaren for at least the next three years."

The McLaren-Honda saga is well documented, and although the final break came during the Singapore Grand Prix weekend, mortal damage was done to the partnership months earlier during pre-season testing in Spain.

Boullier explained, “The crucial moment was after the Barcelona testing, when we tried to work and help Honda to improve the situation in a very short time, including having discussions with the other engine manufacturers, and without going into details."

“It became obvious that they again would miss the target that we had agreed for the season. Then by the summer we knew that we had to take a decision, to stay or not to stay."

By ditching Honda power McLaren will also forfeit a substantial chunk of income provided by the Japanese manufacturer.

But Boullier believes that when the team becomes successful again they will be able to attract more sponsors, “Well, when you look at the last three years it’s been a proper disaster for us in terms of credibility and getting new sponsors."

“And then you have to take the long-term view: in the next five years I am absolutely sure that we will go back to where McLaren belongs. And with this bouncing back we get our credibility back and it will rebuild our sponsor portfolio."

“It might take two to three years. We are ninth in the championship – with a top engine I think we would be fourth right now and just on the FOM money we could cover the engine side, so it will not be a big risk on the monetary side."

“Thanks to the shareholders who have been brave enough to take a sporting choice and not hurt McLaren. They could have said: Let’s wait until Honda wakes up."

Asked if Fernando Alonso was a factor in the new deal, Boullier responded, “Yes and no. But to be honest, I don’t think he is in that stage right now. He is only interested – and he’s been saying this for months – in a competitive car. That is for him."

“For us – McLaren – we are happy that the shareholders have made a sporting choice and not a business choice and changed the engine. McLaren’s DNA is to be competitive – the team has always been in the top three and we belong there again."

“Today we know that we have a decent chassis, which would allow us to be in the top three again with an equal level engine, so for us as a business it is important to be competitive, no matter what role Fernando plays."

“We had to make this decision for us. But if you want to be competitive you not only need an engine, you also need a driver. That is when Fernando comes into the picture. We did what we did for McLaren first – but the package includes also the driver."

It is no secret that it was McLaren who ‘filed for divorce’ from Honda, but Boullier revealed that it was a painful process for both organisations.

Asked if parting was was hard he replied, “Very hard. The whole story for them, as it was for us, was to recreate the legacy of the past. On paper everything looked right. Just the way it’s been done was not right, obviously."

“Luckily we managed to make it an amicable settlement and they understood that all the investment that they have made, they should get a reward from that at some stage. We can’t wait – but they can get the reward with somebody else."

“I am so glad that they have decided to stay in Formula 1 and commit to another team. Personally I feel a bit sad that it didn’t work, but these have been very intense three years," added Boullier.

Honda will power Toro Rosso from 2018, and there is speculation suggesting that Red Bull may shift from TAG Heuer (Renault) power in 2019 if Honda are competitive by then. Grandprix247

Renault eyeing big name for 2019 season

Would Ricciardo or Verstappen agree to drive the slower Renaults? Of course not.
Would Ricciardo or Verstappen agree to drive the slower Renaults? Of course not.

Renault are hoping that an even stronger 2018 season will allow them to muscle in their way into the driver market and potentially attract a big name.

Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr will lead the charge for Renault next season, but Sainz has only initially been acquired on a season-long loan from the Red Bull family.

As it stands, there are a whole host of driver contracts expiring at the end of the 2018 season with Sebastian Vettel the only notable driver who has an extended multi-year deal.

"The driver market is important and we are in position for the end of 2018 when it is a little bit open for discussion," Renault team advisor Alain Prost told Sky F1.

"At the end of 2018 there are a lot of drivers without contracts. We want to be better as a team, next year we will prove we are better than we are now and we want to be in the key market."

Renault have already tried to take the likes of Daniel Ricciardo from Red Bull as part of the recent engine negotiations, while another approach could be made for Sainz to join on a long-term deal.

"We have Carlos next year but he is remaining in the Red Bull family. But if he performs well and wants to stay we will find a solution," Prost added.

Renault are currently sit seventh in this year's Constructors' Championship.

Mercedes Singapore Grand Prix Strategy Analysis
This week, Mercedes F1 look at how the team approached the first wet weather night race in Formula One history at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, including tire choices and pit stop calls across three separate Safety Car periods.

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