Latest F1 news in brief – Sunday

  • Palmer found he was axed on Autosport. His check wasn't big enough.
    Palmer found he was axed on Autosport. His check wasn't big enough.

    Palmer read Renault ax story on internet

  • Porsche should enter F1 – Haug
  • Pirelli making 'softer than ultra-soft' tire for 2018
  • Alonso-McLaren announcement due within days
  • Ricciardo 'confident' he can still take victory
  • Horner: Red Bull has nothing to lose in race
  • Perez confirmed at Force India for 2018
  • Bottas: Mercedes has a lot of work to do
  • Hamilton says he 'threw the sink' at Q3 effort
  • Vettel elated with fourth Marina Bay pole

Palmer read Renault ax story on internet
(GMM) Jolyon Palmer says he learned about losing his seat at Renault from the internet.

"I knew it when I read it on the internet," Speed Week quotes the Briton as saying.

"So that's a bit unfortunate and I don't know who released that to the media, but honestly it doesn't change the facts," said Palmer, who is being replaced for 2018 by Carlos Sainz.

"Of course I knew that the team was looking around, because it's been a tough year for me. But you never know what will happen until it happens," he added, amid speculation he is now in the running to replace Felipe Massa at Williams.

Palmer said in Singapore that he is determined to see out the remainder of his 2017 contract, with speculation emerging that Renault is trying to pay him off for EUR 3 million.

According to Auto Bild, Renault chief Cyril Abiteboul had promised Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko that Palmer would be gone by Malaysia, paving the way for Sainz and his Toro Rosso replacement Pierre Gasly to get started early.

"But he (Abiteboul) has constantly changed his mind," Marko commented.

Porsche should enter F1 – Haug
(GMM) Norbert Haug has urged Porsche to enter formula one.

Recently, with the famous VW-owned carmaker announcing its decision to quit Le Mans, Porsche has been linked with a 2021 F1 engine foray — and even a potential Red Bull buyout.

"I can imagine that very well and from my point of view formula one would be a great fit for Porsche," Haug, the former Mercedes F1 chief, told Speed Week.

"Like Audi, they can either spend EUR 250 million in prototypes or join Mercedes with a far more cost-effective move in formula one. If successful, the international media and audience exposure is unequaled," he added.

"Porsche did an incredible job with its LMP1 prototype, had an excellent engine and car concept, and therefore demonstrated its competence for a commitment in formula one," said Haug.

Pirelli making 'softer than ultra-soft' tire for 2018

Pirelli will make an even softer tire than the ultra-soft used the past year
Pirelli will make an even softer tire than the ultra-soft used the past year

(GMM) Pirelli has committed to supplying softer tires to F1 teams and drivers in 2018.

Although the tires are bigger this year to accommodate the much faster 2018 cars, there has been widespread criticism of the compounds — especially the hardest ones.

"The hard tire is so inappropriate for this generation of racing car that I don't know a single driver who wants it on the car," Force India technical boss Andy Green told Speed Week.

Pirelli F1 chief Mario Isola has now reacted, vowing to retract the hard tire selection from intended forthcoming races including Sepang, Suzuka and Brazil.

And he has also promised that the 2018 tires will be generally softer.

"Everything will change to an extent," he confirmed in Singapore.

"What was an ultra-soft will be a super-soft next year, super-soft will be the new soft, and soft the new medium. All of that means that we are of course developing an all new ultra-soft," Isola explained.

"We will have the tires ready for the teams to drive (test) in Abu Dhabi," he added.

Alonso-McLaren announcement due within days

Alonso happy now
Alonso happy now

(GMM) An announcement to confirm that Fernando Alonso is staying at McLaren next year is due within days.

The Spaniard is believed to have pushed for the British team to dump Honda and sign up for 2018 with Renault, with whom he won his two titles over a decade ago.

"We are close to a contract extension with Fernando," international reports quote McLaren director Zak Brown as saying.

American Brown was speaking after a key dinner meeting with Alonso, 36, in Singapore.

"We have a plan B, but I'm confident it will work out with Fernando," he added.

Speed Week speculates that McLaren's 'plan B' is the retired Jenson Button, who actually remains under contract to the Woking based team for 2018.

The final sticking point could be talks over Alonso's huge retainer, given that Honda's departure also means a $100 million sponsorship hit.

Brown said: "Fernando is one of the best paid drivers in the sport, and for us to retain him he will continue to be one of the best paid drivers in the sport.

"We have very committed shareholders who have told us to do whatever it takes to win," he added.

Also confident McLaren will retain Alonso is team boss Eric Boullier.

Referring to the Honda split, the Frenchman said: "I'm happy and relieved.

"It's good to know that next year we are going to have a more competitive car — or we hope so. But we have a good base now and all the tools to fight the other teams.

"Now we must focus on closing the deal with Fernando. We are very close to finalizing it. We have already agreed the most important points in terms of years and money.

"It is just a matter of details," Boullier added.

Another detail could be McLaren allowing Alonso to take part in the fabled Le Mans race next year, having already tried his hand at the Indy 500 this year.

Toyota has already expressed interest in signing Alonso.

"I think 2018 is too early for McLaren to be at Le Mans," said Brown. "But we have talked about it with Fernando and if it's something that he would like to do, he would be free to do it in the right circumstances."

Finally, Alonso was asked why McLaren did not announce his contract extension over the Singapore weekend, when a spate of other deals also saw light of day.

" I think there were too many announcements this weekend," he smiled.

"It was also very important to deliver the best possible result. After here I will be at the karting world championship. Then I will be in the factory and the simulator and it will be a better time to discuss the future," said Alonso.

Ricciardo 'confident' he can still take victory

Riccardo knows his teammate Mad Max will probably take out Vettel in Turn 1 clearing the way for his victory
Riccardo knows his teammate 'Mad' Max Verstappen will probably take out Vettel in Turn 1 clearing the way for his victory

Daniel Ricciardo labelled himself "confident" of taking victory at the Singapore Grand Prix, despite missing out on pole position to Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.

Red Bull started the weekend in charge, with Ricciardo topping both Friday sessions, before Max Verstappen moved ahead in third practice, maintaining his pace in Q1 and Q2.

However, Vettel surged clear in Q3 and claimed pole position by over three-tenths of a second, with Ricciardo collecting third spot, behind team-mate Verstappen.

Ricciardo, though, is adamant that he can overhaul Vettel in race-trim and deliver victory for Red Bull around the streets of Marina Bay.

"I'm a little envious today, I will accept a little bit of defeat," said Ricciardo, who endured a messy final practice session, which included a brush with the wall.

Mad Max Verstappen (L) was so 'mad' after qualifying he can't wait to attack Vettel's Ferrari in Turn 1
Mad Max Verstappen (L) was so 'mad' after qualifying he can't wait to attack Vettel's Ferrari in Turn 1

"But tomorrow I'm still confident we'll get victory, so I think we've got a good package.

"Seb turned it on in qualifying, but I'm looking forward to tomorrow."

Verstappen, who finished 0.026s ahead of Ricciardo with his final Q3 run, commented: "It's a shame that we couldn't put it on pole.

"The final lap was not great, but we were quite close, so I'm pretty happy with that.

"During the race it will be difficult to pass him [Vettel], so we'll have to see on the first lap."

Ricciardo has already tasted victory this season, capitalizing on drama around him at another street track, the Baku City Circuit, back in June.

Horner: Red Bull has nothing to lose in race

Horner ready to beat Ferrari
Horner ready to beat Ferrari

Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner says the outfit has "nothing to lose" in its quest for victory against Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel at the Singapore Grand Prix.

Red Bull expected to perform strongly at the Marina Bay Street Circuit and had led every session, only to be overhauled in Q3 by Vettel, who beat Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo to pole.

Red Bull has taken just one victory this year, courtesy of Ricciardo in Azerbaijan, having lagged behind Mercedes and Ferrari, meaning it is not in contention for the title.

As a result, Horner feels Verstappen and Ricciardo can put Vettel under pressure.

"We've been quickest in every single session this weekend," Horner explained to Sky Sports.

"Then the one that really counts, unfortunately, you can just see that once you get to that crucial part of qualifying, in those last stages, the drivers have extracted everything there was out of the car, but we just don't have that last little bit.

"I think the race pace that we showed [during Friday practice] puts us in good stead. I'm happy with a front row start and third.

"The race isn't won on a Saturday. If we can get a good start, can have good race pace, then hopefully we can give him a hard time.

"We've got nothing to lose, Seb's got a championship to think about."

Horner also feels that his drivers are "tightly matched", after the pair were split by just 0.026s in Q3.

"On average I would say, Daniel has had a smidge in Sector 1, Max has been a little bit stronger in Sector 2 all weekend, and then Daniel has had that little bit in Sector 3," he said.

"They are so tightly matched and it's great to see how they are really pushing each other."

Perez confirmed at Force India for 2018

Sergio Perez rings a big check from Carlos Slim for his ride
Sergio Perez rings a big check from Carlos Slim for his ride

Force India has confirmed that Sergio Perez will continue to race for the team through the 2018 season, completing an unchanged driver line-up, alongside Mercedes-backed Esteban Ocon.

Perez, 27, represented Sauber and McLaren before joining Force India for the 2014 season, and has since established himself as one of the strongest midfield racers.

He currently holds seventh position in the Drivers' standings, equaling his highest-ever placing from 2016, having taken four podiums during his time at Force India.

Some doubt was cast over Perez's future at the team following a series of clashes with new-for-2017 team-mate Esteban Ocon, who arrived on a multi-year deal.

However, with the team making clear that it intended to keep both drivers onboard earlier this month, Perez has put pen to paper on a new deal.

"Staying with Sahara Force India was always my priority," said Perez, whose contracts are always signed in conjunction with his various sponsors.

"It's a team that has allowed me to show my talents as a driver and I feel very happy here.

"I'm proud of everything we have already achieved together and I think there is more to come.

"The team has done an amazing job this year to develop the car and establish our position as the fourth best team in Formula 1.

"In the end it was an easy decision to continue our journey together."

Team Principal Vijay Mallya added of the agreement: "Sergio has played an important role in our success story over the last few years.

"Since joining us, he has matured to become one of the quickest and most consistent drivers on the grid.

"His track record speaks for itself as the most successful Force India driver ever with four podiums.

"Alongside Esteban, retaining Sergio gives us stability going into next season and one of the most exciting driver pairings in Formula 1."

Bottas: Mercedes has a lot of work to do

Bottas much slower than his teammate Hamilton
Bottas much slower than his teammate Hamilton

Valtteri Bottas emphasized that the layout of the Marina Bay Street Circuit has highlighted Mercedes' weaknesses, after the team emerged only third quickest during qualifying.

Mercedes has typically struggled on low-speed, high-downforce tracks in 2017 and, allied to its historic difficulties at the event, was braced for a challenging weekend in Singapore.

Its fears were duly realized in qualifying as Lewis Hamilton took only fifth, seven-tenths behind pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel, with Bottas a further seven-tenths back in sixth place.

"Definitely, the gaps are too big for us," said Bottas.

"From two weeks ago at Monza it was pretty good for us, and now we're really struggling.

"It just highlights that we still have issues producing enough downforce and mechanical grip at a track like this, so that is an area we really need to work on.

"We tried a lot of different set-ups this weekend and in practice three, making big changes, bigger than we normally do, because we were just way off the pace."

On Mercedes' prospects for Sunday's race, Bottas said: "Tomorrow is the race and we know the car is not quick enough for the podium – that's a fact.

"We need to get all the other areas right and maybe it's possible."

Hamilton says he 'threw the sink' at Q3 effort

Hamilton gave it everything but came up 1/2-sec short
Hamilton gave it everything but came up 1/2-sec short

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton says he "threw the sink" at his Q3 effort and admitted surprise at Ferrari's pace, after qualifying in fifth position for the Singapore Grand Prix.

Mercedes had been braced for a relative struggle at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, but Hamilton stated after Friday practice that nothing was out of reach for the squad.

However, he lagged seven-tenths behind pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel and will line up from the third row of the grid as he bids to preserve his championship advantage.

"We knew that today would be tough," said Hamilton.

"I definitely didn't anticipate Ferrari being as strong as they were. I thought Red Bull would be as quick as they were, but we still remained hopeful.

"I got everything that I could out of the car – I gave it everything and more. I literally threw the sink at it.

"I don't know where Ferrari have picked up their pace. It's strange, from race-to-race, it's a little bit different between us."

Hamilton believes that he will have to "play the long game" if he is to move up the order in race trim.

"This is a crap track for overtaking," rued Hamilton.

"It's usually just a long, long train. I think it's going to be very difficult.

"I think the start is an opportunity, strategy is an opportunity, Safety Cars, who knows… I think tomorrow I'm just going to have to play the long game.

"It's a marathon, not a sprint, so I'll try to take that method into tomorrow."

Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas will start from sixth.

Vettel elated with fourth Marina Bay pole

Vettel surprised to beat Red Bull
Vettel surprised to beat Red Bull handily

Sebastian Vettel could barely contain his delight as he claimed his third pole position of the season during a thrilling qualifying session for the Singapore Grand Prix.

Red Bull led the way during each practice session, with Max Verstappen also topping Q1 and Q2, before Vettel turned the tables in Q3.

Vettel set two laps fast enough for pole, his quickest a 1:39.491, as he wound up over three-tenths of a second clear of Red Bull's Verstappen.

Vettel's pole provides him with the ideal opportunity to re-capture the points lead from Lewis Hamilton, who will start from fifth position.

"I love this track," said Vettel, after leading qualifying at Marina Bay for the fourth time in his career.

"The car was tricky [to drive], but it came alive and was getting better and better and better as the night progressed, [so I'm] really happy that we got it done.

"It's an amazing track if you feel the car is coming alive and you can do what you want to.

"I knew we had it in us, it was a bit of a struggle to get there, now I'm just happy."

Vettel, though, remains wary of Red Bull's potential in the race, after Verstappen and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo qualified second and third respectively.

"Tomorrow is a long race, these guys [Red Bull] are very quick," he commented.

"We had a difficult night yesterday, it's a better night today, and I'm sure the car will [perform] like it did today, so it should be better, but it will be a very close race."

Vettel trails Hamilton by three points ahead of the race.

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