Latest F1 news in brief – Saturday

  • If Honda comes good in 2018 you can bet Red Bull will become the Honda 'factory' team
    If Honda comes good in 2018 you can bet Red Bull will become the Honda 'factory' team

    Red Bull's engine future unclear

  • Rosberg to help Kubica's F1 comeback
  • Kvyat 'not fearing' Toro Rosso driver shakeup
  • Alonso to probe Renault before making 2018 decision
  • Sainz Jr.-Renault switch for Malaysia 'possible' – Marko
  • Red Bull 'a second faster' in Singapore – Lauda
  • T-wings banned for 2018 but shark fins staying
  • F1 regime change held up Singapore GP deal
  • Force India to be 'Force Racing' in 2018
  • Vettel: Ferrari went in the wrong direction
  • Honda targets top three with STR in 2018
  • McLaren to focus efforts on Alonso deal

Red Bull's engine future unclear
(GMM) With McLaren and Toro Rosso all set up with respective engines for 2018, speculative attention is now turning to the 2019 season.

Specifically, the rumor in Singapore is that Toro Rosso owner Red Bull will assess Honda's performance at the junior team next year and potentially decide to switch to Japanese power for 2019.

The speculation also comes amid rumors Renault has already told Red Bull that it is not willing to supply it with French-made engines beyond next year.

"Obviously that is speculation at this point in time," Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul said.

However, the Frenchman also didn't deny the story had truth in it.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, on the other hand, tried to divert the speculation in Singapore by hinting on British TV that the team might actually be powered by Aston Martin in 2019.

"No," said the Briton.

"I was asked a question about Porsche coming into formula one and I answered that very clearly we have an existing relationship with an OEM that don't make F1 engines, and obviously that will continue," Horner added.

But he did admit that Red Bull will watch the progress of Honda-powered Toro Rosso very closely next year.

"At Toro Rosso, the pressure will be lower for Honda than it was at McLaren, so they'll be able to work on their problems in peace," said Horner.

Asked specifically if Honda is targeting a Red Bull tie-up for 2019, senior Honda representative Masashi Yamamoto said in Singapore: "If there is a chance in the future to supply engines, why not?"

But he did deny rumors Honda is buying Toro Rosso from Dietrich Mateschitz.

"I read it in the news but we never discussed that in our company," said the Japanese.

Rosberg to help Kubica's F1 comeback

Kubica does not have a big enough check to buy his way back
Kubica does not have a big enough check to buy his way back

(GMM) Retired reigning world champion Nico Rosberg has joined Robert Kubica's management team.

The German announced on Twitter that he is "excited to be working with Robert" on his "return to F1".

Rosberg was on the grid when the now 32-year-old Pole last raced in F1 in 2010, but since retiring has been open to new opportunities within motor racing.

Sport Bild said Rosberg, also 32, will share responsibilities for the former Renault and BMW driver's attempt to come back to F1 with Kubica's long-time manager Alessandro Alunni Bravi.

Kubica was hoping to return from his permanent injuries with Renault next year, but is now linked with a potential move to Williams for 2018.

He said: "It's fantastic to work with Nico. We've known each other since childhood and he'll now be a big help with my formula one comeback."

Kvyat 'not fearing' Toro Rosso driver shakeup

Sean Geleal drove FP1 for Kvyat Friday
Sean Geleal drove FP1 for Kvyat Friday

(GMM) Daniil Kvyat says he is still waiting to hear if he will be kept on board at Toro Rosso for 2018.

Earlier, the Russian said he would be patient while the Red Bull junior team sorted out the identity of its engine supplier for next year.

So with the Honda deal now done, Kvyat said in Singapore: "I'm waiting for them to have the time to think about me.

"Today is not the time as the main thing is the racing this weekend," he added, "but soon we will have time to clarify the situation and get answers."

Kvyat, 23, said he thinks Toro Rosso's switch from Renault to Honda next year is "good for the team".

"Our team has constantly changed engines in the last three years," he admitted, "but it's great that we now have clear plans for the future and will be able to build strong relationships with a supplier.

"We will be the only team with Honda engines, so it's a fantastic opportunity to build a solid foundation."

Kvyat's future is actually far from clear, even though Toro Rosso might want continuity given Carlos Sainz's departure to Renault.

However, Pierre Gasly is expected to replace Sainz next year, and in Singapore Sean Gelael – the son of the Indonesian KFC magnate – drove in free practice.

Not just that, Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost sounds open to accommodating a Honda-backed driver next year, such as Nobuharu Matsushita.

"I assume Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz will finish the season with us," said Tost in Singapore.

"Regarding the drivers for next year, Red Bull will decide and of course we will also take into consideration any request from our partners."

When asked about that, Kvyat said: "I do not want to comment on this.

"In formula one, situations can change very, very quickly, so it's too early to start worrying or fearing. I think that is the right approach for me."

Alonso to probe Renault before making 2018 decision

Alonso can probe all he wants
Alonso can probe all he wants, if Honda gets it right, and another team benefits from McLaren being the test bed, then the humiliation will be very hard to swallow

(GMM) Fernando Alonso says he will look into Renault's plans for 2018 before deciding whether to stay at McLaren next year.

Some believe the Spaniard actively pushed for the British team to dump Honda, and that he will therefore definitely now sign up for 2018.

"You don't do engine deals solely by listening to drivers," McLaren executive Zak Brown scoffed when asked about that by Finnish broadcaster C More.

"Fernando is a part of our team and so his opinion is important, but this decision was made for the good of McLaren," he added.

However, Alonso was seen in Singapore smiling and shaking hands with Brown immediately after the Honda axe was announced.

"I just said hello to him, because I hadn't seen Zak until today," Alonso insisted in Singapore.

"I think if McLaren decided that it's time to part with Honda and go to Renault, they must have important information about next season," he added.

"I hope this will bring McLaren back to the positions that we think it deserves, but for now I do not have full information.

"I learned the same news as you did today," Alonso said on Friday.

"Now for me the main thing is this weekend in Singapore, and after that I will try to learn more about the project, about the Renault engine and the expectations for next season.

"After analyzing, I will make a decision," he revealed.

Sainz Jr.-Renault switch for Malaysia 'possible' – Marko

Marko may let Sainz Jr. go early
Marko may let Sainz Jr. go early

(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko has admitted Carlos Sainz Jr. might start his new Renault adventure as soon as the next race in Malaysia.

That is despite the fact the rumor was shot down by other senior personnel in Singapore.

"I assume Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz will finish the season with us," Toro Rosso chief Franz Tost said in Singapore.

Indeed, Jolyon Palmer is insisting his 2017 contract with Renault be honored in full, and boss Cyril Abiteboul agreed: "We have an ongoing contract with Jo until the end of the season".

But Marko, the boss of the Red Bull driver program, told German television Sky when asked about Sainz's early switch ahead of the Malaysian grand prix: "Everything is possible."

Spaniard Sainz himself also suggested the issue is up in the air.

"For the moment, I will be sitting in a Toro Rosso in Malaysia and everything else is speculation," he said.

Sainz added: "The decisions are made by Red Bull, Renault and others, not by me. I am ready for everything, but my thoughts are about Singapore at the moment.

"I will not close any possibility, but all of these agreements we see this weekend did not involve me so I think I would not be the one who knows first.

"If it happens I am ready even though it would not be an easy change and it would take time to adapt," he added.

What is clear is that Red Bull is 'loaning' Sainz to Renault for a single season only, which the 23-year-old said is "a sign that my (Red Bull) bosses appreciate me".

But another suggestion in Singapore is that Renault really wanted Red Bull to loan them Daniel Ricciardo.

"I'm not surprised," said the Australian driver. "I'm good looking and fast."

When asked about the rumor, Marko said: "I think Renault was a little optimistic about the future. When we are on average two seconds faster, why would he change?"

Red Bull 'a second faster' in Singapore – Lauda

Ricciardo happy Red Bull 1-second per lap faster on long runs
Ricciardo happy Red Bull 1-second per lap faster on long runs

(GMM) Niki Lauda says he has his eye on Red Bull in Singapore.

The world of F1 had touched down in Singapore expecting Ferrari to be the favorites on the tight and twisty floodlit streets.

Lauda, the Mercedes team chairman, admitted the reigning world champions are somewhat struggling in Singapore.

"We were a bit worse than expected," the F1 legend said. "But Ferrari was surprisingly slower.

"We thought Ferrari would be our problem, but it's Red Bull," Lauda added on Friday. "They were outstanding today.

"On the long runs they are a second faster than us."

T-wings banned for 2018 but shark fins staying

No more T-Wings
No more T-Wings

(GMM) The shark fins are staying, but F1 fans can wave goodbye to unseemly 'T-wings' in 2018.

That is the news out of Singapore with regards to tweaks to the 2018 technical regulations.

It had been rumored that the 'shark fins' would go as well, but Auto Motor und Sport reports that the engine cover appendages will still be on the cars next year.

But what is going are the T-wings, such as the unseemly version seen on the Force India in Singapore.

"We call our solution here the Stegosaurus," laughed Force India technical boss Andy Green.

Also banned for 2018 are the so-called 'monkey seats', with the changes to be officially discussed at the next meeting of the F1 strategy group.

"The FIA wants to get rid of the monkey seat, because they suspect the teams could use it for exhaust gas blowing," Green said.

F1 regime change held up Singapore GP deal
(GMM) F1's change of management held up talks for a new Singapore grand prix deal, minister S Iswaran said ahead of the city-state's 2017 race.

Before a new contract for 2018-2021 was announced on Friday, the Singapore night race – now one of F1's blue-riband events – had mere provisional status on next year's calendar.

Trade and industry minister S Iswaran said the move from the Bernie Ecclestone era held up the talks which have now concluded successfully.

"First, with the changes in the ownership and management of F1, serious negotiations could commence only in February," he explained.

Iswaran also explained why Singapore has agreed only a four-year deal, even though the previous contract extension was for five years.

It is believed the decision is connected with the looming end of the current 'Concorde agreement' in 2020 and Liberty Media's plans beyond that.

"We wanted to thoroughly evaluate the medium-term prospects for F1 and the value a term extension could bring to Singapore," said Iswaran.

"I am glad that all parties have been able to agree on commercial terms for the extension."

Force India to be 'Force Racing' in 2018

Perez will drive for Force Racing in 2018
Perez will drive for Force Racing in 2018

(GMM) Force India looks set to be known as 'Force Racing' from 2018.

Earlier, as embattled owner Vijay Mallya considered dropping 'India' from the official name in a move to internationalize the team, the apparent frontrunner was 'Force One'.

But F1 owner Liberty Media intervened, according to Auto Motor und Sport.

The report said Liberty was worried that when Force One was abbreviated to 'F1', it would create confusion when compared to the similar abbreviation of the sport's name.

"The name is still not quite confirmed, but Force Racing has good chances," sporting boss Otmar Szafnauer said.

Meanwhile, while many in F1 celebrated the McLaren-Renault-Toro Rosso-Honda engine shakeup, Force India wondered if the moves were even allowed by the regulations.

"Are engine changes at this late date covered by the sporting regulations?" Szafnauer wondered.

"We will look into it in more depth next week."

Vettel: Ferrari went in the wrong direction

Ferrari was out to lunch
Ferrari was out to lunch

Sebastian Vettel has admitted that Ferrari went in the wrong direction with its approach during Friday practice in Singapore and needs to improve before Saturday's qualifying session.

Ferrari endured a disappointing home event in Italy two weeks ago and had been tipped to bounce back, with the SF70-H expected to suit the layout of the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

Vettel finished second to Daniel Ricciardo in the opening session but placed only 11th in second practice, after his two Ultra Soft efforts were scuppered by traffic and a brush with the wall.

"Today was a mixed day and obviously not an ideal one," said Vettel, whose quickest timed effort came on the Soft compound.

"I lost a little bit of balance and confidence. We tried a couple of things and I am not sure they were the right things to do.

"Now we'll see what we can do for tomorrow. We need to improve, but I think we have enough time to find the solution.

"Today we were here to practice and, being Friday, everything we did was for free.

"Clearly, we are not where we want to be, so there's still a lot of work ahead of us."

Kimi Räikkönen, meanwhile, was able to register an Ultra Soft effort, but it proved quick enough only for ninth position.

"Overall it was just a difficult day," rued Räikkönen.

"It was far from ideal and for sure we were expecting an easier start, but it's only Friday, and tomorrow is another day.

"We tried some things and not everything made sense in the end, so now we have a lot of work to do, [but] I'm sure we can improve for tomorrow."

Honda targets top three with STR in 2018

Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost (R) and Honda aim to bury McLaren in 2018
Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost (R) and Honda aim to bury McLaren in 2018

Honda says that quitting Formula 1 was never an option and has set an ambitious target of challenging for the top three positions with Toro Rosso in 2018.

Several engine-related announcements were finally made on Friday, confirming that McLaren will drop Honda for Renault power, with Toro Rosso taking on the Japanese manufacturer's unit.

Katsuhide Moriyama, Honda's Chief Officer for Brand and Communication Operations, admitted that the latest spell with McLaren was "a very tough situation", but is hopeful for the future.

"For Honda, Formula 1 has started with the dream of our founder, Mr. Soichiro Honda, and we already have a history of more than 50 years with Formula 1," he commented.

"For our company, Formula 1 is a very important culture as well as the DNA of our company.

"It's true that we've gone through a very tough situation and nobody was satisfied with the current results, especially the board.

"We have gone through many discussions due to the dissatisfaction of the present and discussed this project with the company to improve the situation.

"[But] quitting F1 was never an option for us."

On next season, he said: "It is our goal to overcome this tough challenge and get back to fighting the frontrunners of the sport – Honda's spirit is going to come back.

"For next year, our goal is to fight for the top three at the top of the grid."

Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost also expressed confidence that Honda will be able to make "dramatic" improvements over coming seasons.

"They have a fantastic infrastructure, and I think they have also learnt a lot about the new power unit," he said.

"I'm convinced that in the next three years, also within the short term, Honda will improve the performance dramatically.

"They have already come up with really good updates during this season, unfortunately, because McLaren is very close to us [in the standings].

"I am 100 per cent convinced that Honda will make big steps forward in the near future and within the next three years.

"I think that Honda and Toro Rosso will have a successful season [in 2018]."

McLaren to focus efforts on Alonso deal

Alonso has McLaren just where he wants them
Alonso has McLaren just where he wants them

McLaren will now switch its attention to securing Fernando Alonso's services for 2018, having clarified its engine situation, according to boss Zak Brown.

McLaren confirmed on Friday that it will split from Honda at the end of the season and instead take on Renault power units until 2020.

The subject of Alonso's future has been a running saga throughout recent months, with the Spaniard's three-year McLaren deal concluding at the end of 2017.

Alonso has made several proclamations at various stages of the campaign, most recently declaring on Thursday that he will make his decision once McLaren's 2018 plans were finalized.

Brown says that with the engine situation now sorted and out in the open, McLaren will concentrate on reaching an agreement with Alonso, and expects a solution in the near future.

"We're going to turn our attention to Fernando now," Brown explained in Singapore.

"We've been speaking a lot… he's been waiting to see what technical solution we came up with.

"He won his two championships with Renault, he's very happy with the racing team and we're very happy with him.

"I think in the not too distant future we should be able to get something done, and that will be the last big piece of the puzzle.

"Then I've got to find us some sponsorship with our commercial team and get ready for next year."

McLaren has already retained Stoffel Vandoorne for 2018.

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