Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Boullier thinks McLaren only two weeks behind
    Boullier thinks McLaren only two weeks behind

    McLaren 'only two weeks behind' – Boullier

  • Title hopes not over for Vettel – Hamilton
  • Michael Schumacher could move to America – report
  • Haas defends Singapore 'team orders'
  • Auer future unchanged after Force India decisions
  • Brown: Renault move 'not a short-term fix'
  • Sauber to revise procedures after Singapore

McLaren 'only two weeks behind' – Boullier
(GMM) Eric Boullier insists the long-running 'will they or won't they?' McLaren-Honda divorce saga has only slightly delayed the British team's preparations for 2018.

Although the split was only made official in Singapore, the McLaren team boss says the team is actually only two weeks behind schedule.

"Obviously for a while we will have to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to compensate for the two weeks that have passed since the optimal decision-making time," he said.

"But it is quite possible to catch up those two weeks," Frenchman Boullier is quoted by international media reports.

And Boullier said that any delay will also be compensated by Renault's better engines next year.

"Next year there will be no compromises," he insisted.

"Of course, we do not have experience with Renault's power unit, unlike some other teams, so we will have to get used to that. But we believe in our engineers."

Not only that, he said development of McLaren's Honda-powered 2017 car will continue.

"We will increase our workload to compensate for the delay, and then return to our normal schedule of work," said Boullier.

"The transition to another manufacturer of power units will not change our approach. There will be no revolution, only evolution," he added.

Title hopes not over for Vettel – Hamilton

Hamilton is being nice. It's over.
Hamilton is being nice. It's over.

(GMM) Lewis Hamilton says his championship rival Sebastian Vettel cannot be written off.

In Singapore, as he extended his winning streak to a hat-trick, Mercedes' Hamilton pulled out a 28-point lead over Vettel, Ferrari's former championship leader.

Niki Lauda, the F1 legend and Mercedes team chairman, thinks Vettel's first corner crash on Sunday cost the German dearly.

"28 points is not bad for us," Lauda told Auto Motor und Sport.

"Until now, it was always two or three points in one direction or the other. But 28 is a cushion.

"I would say this was a small preliminary decision," he admitted.

Briton Hamilton, however, doesn't think so.

He is quoted by Bild newspaper: "Coming up we have Japan where you need a lot of downforce, so that definitely won't be our strongest circuit.

"In Brazil the others will be strong as well, and in Mexico the teams with the most downforce could have the upper hand," Hamilton added.

"Honestly I think it's going to be very close. It's hard to predict," he said. "We'll find out when we get there."

Haas defends Singapore 'team orders'

Gunther Steiner
Gunther Steiner

(GMM) Haas boss Gunther Steiner has defended a case of 'team orders' imposed in Singapore last weekend.

When he emerged from his car under the city-state's floodlights, Kevin Magnussen told the media that being ordered by his bosses to give up a place to teammate Romain Grosjean potentially cost the team points.

But he now tells the Danish newspaper BT: "After the race I said on TV that the decision cost us points. But it was a slightly different situation than I thought."

Indeed, boss Steiner said the order was simply a matter of making the best use of race strategy to boost the team's chances of points.

"There is no favoritism," he insisted. "Romain and Kevin are equal, but during the races we make certain decisions from the pitwall.

"We have talked and cleared the air. Maybe we hurt some feelings, but we have explained why and it was accepted," Steiner added.

Auer future unchanged after Force India decisions

Lucas Auer
Lucas Auer

(GMM) Lucas Auer says Force India deciding to keep the same drivers for 2018 doesn't affect his own motor racing future.

Earlier, the Austrian – whose uncle is the F1 legend Gerhard Berger – tested for the Silverstone based team thanks to his pink-colored sponsor BWT.

Force India's driver lineup was up in the air for 2018 as Sergio Perez was linked with Renault and Williams, and the Mexican has been squabbling with his teammate Esteban Ocon.

But Perez has now re-signed for 2018, and Frenchman Ocon subsequently announced on Twitter that he is also staying at Force India next year.

Asked how that will affect his own plans, Auer told Servus TV: "Not much.

"The test was a huge trust in me and I am still in contact, but my focus is on the DTM."

Auer's uncle Berger, who is also the DTM series chief, agreed: "Luki still has chances. Force India has an eye on him.

"You can already see that because he was invited to the test without my help — he really worked it out for himself," the former Ferrari and McLaren driver added.

"He has a very good chance of winning the DTM (title)," Berger said. "And with his test, he has shown that coming into formula one is absolutely realistic."

Brown: Renault move 'not a short-term fix'

Zak Brown
Zak Brown

McLaren's decision to part ways with Honda and move to Renault power for the 2018 season "is not a short-term fix", according to McLaren chief Zak Brown, who sees the foundation for a lengthy tie-up.

McLaren and Honda reunited in 2015 but the latest partnership has been characterized by a lack of reliability and performance, and the parties will split at the end of the year.

McLaren will instead take on Renault power units in a three-year deal, while Honda has signed a multi-year agreement with Toro Rosso, ensuring that it stays in Formula 1.

McLaren was rebuffed by engine pace-setters Mercedes and Ferrari before settling on Renault, but Brown reckons there is potential for a long-term arrangement with the French manufacturer.

"No, this is not a short-term fix," commented Brown, when asked about the change, and the next engine cycle, which will come into play from the 2021 campaign.

"At the end of the day, no-one knows yet what the engine rules are in 2021, so I think it's hard for anybody to look beyond 2020, because we don't know what '21 looks like.

"We think we've got a long-term partnership, the foundation for it.

"Renault's got a great history in the sport, won a lot of championships with Red Bull, won a lot of championships themselves, so we're very happy where we are.

"We think that we'll be very competitive together."

Honda's deal with Toro Rosso has led to talk that Red Bull could become the manufacturer's works team in the future, should it make sufficient progress with its engine.

However, rather than Honda winning elsewhere, Brown says his biggest concern is the current costs in Formula 1, which he hopes the new engine rules will go a long way to addressing.

"I think probably what we're most concerned about is not a Red Bull-Honda combination or any combination out there – we need to get budgets under control," he said.

"I think the reason you see the gaps in the field now is the gaps in budgets between the top two teams [Mercedes and Ferrari] and everyone else is way too big.

"The gaps seem to be getting bigger, [so] I think that's something that Formula 1 is going to address.

"That's probably where our biggest concern is, making sure we get a more level playing field, so that many teams can win races [from] '21 onwards."

Sauber to revise procedures after Singapore

Frederic Vasseur
Frederic Vasseur

Sauber team boss Frederic Vasseur says procedures will be revised after a "system error" compounded another challenging Grand Prix for the outfit in Singapore.

Sauber, running year-old Ferrari power units, has often been cut adrift of the pack this season, and again brought up the rear at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein gained places at the start, as the Ferraris and Red Bull's Max Verstappen clashed and retired, but still circulated at the back.

Wehrlein fell further adrift as he went longer than anyone else on Wet tires, before a brief run on Intermediates, having swapped "too late", and two stints on Ultra Softs.

Ericsson, meanwhile, made an earlier switch to Intermediates, but lost almost half a minute when he pitted for slicks, due to a miscommunication, which led to him being sent out on Softs.

Ericsson pitted again for Ultra Softs a few laps later, but then crashed heading onto the Anderson Bridge, with Wehrlein the final finisher in 12th, two laps down.

"It was a tough race for us," lamented Vasseur.

"Both of the drivers were on Wet tires when we split their strategies – Marcus changed to Intermediates.

"Pascal was still running on Wet tires, as we were waiting to put him onto the dry compound. Unfortunately, the track did not dry up as quickly as we expected it to.

"He [then] lost a lot of time due to several blue flags later on during the race.

"During Marcus' pit-stop, there was a system error, which led to miscommunication. The procedures have to be revised to avoid repeating such situations in the future."

Ericsson blamed the slow pit-stop on his crash, which brought out the Safety Car.

"I lost a lot of time due to an incident in one of the pit-stops," he said.

"I was pushing hard to make up for lost time, and went a bit over the limit. Unfortunately, that caused me to spin out of the race."

Sauber remains last in the standings on just five points.

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