Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Can Palmer write a big enough check to keep his seat?
    Can Palmer write a big enough check to keep his seat?

    Palmer pushing to keep 2017 Renault seat

  • F1 keeps engine penalties in place for now
  • Honda future makes Red Bull drivers nervous
  • Hulkenberg laughs at F1 record in Singapore
  • Bottas happy as Mercedes keeps 'options open'
  • Perez 'about to sign 2018 contract'
  • Magnussen would jump at 'top team' chance
  • Singapore to host the Formula 1 World Championship until 2021

Palmer pushing to keep 2017 Renault seat
(GMM) Jolyon Palmer says he intends to keep his Renault seat at least for the rest of the 2017 season.

Although confirmation is still lacking, strong rumors in Singapore suggest the French team wants to kick off its new 2018 lineup of Carlos Sainz alongside Nico Hulkenberg as early as the next race in Malaysia.

But Briton Palmer says he has a valid contract at Renault for the remaining seven races of 2017.

"I've got seven races to do," he said. "I'll be in Malaysia. I'll be racing until Abu Dhabi.

"I have a contract. There have been suggestions for the past 35 races that I might not be at the next one, so this is nothing new for me — it's water off a duck's back," Palmer insisted.

However, while officially everyone in the paddock is remaining quiet about the McLaren-Renault, Toro Rosso-Honda and Sainz-Renault deals, Palmer at least admits that seismic moves are happening behind the scenes.

"I don't care too much to talk about it," he said. "I know what's happening.

"I think there will be announcement at some point in the future, not too long. For me, I'm excited about the future. I haven't thought too much, but I'm excited for what's to come."

Sainz's manager Luis Garcia Abad was seen in conversation with Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul in the Singapore paddock on Thursday.

When asked about Sainz joining the team, Renault said: "Wait for the announcements."

F1 keeps engine penalties in place for now
(GMM) F1 has decided against immediately acting on the issue of grid penalties for engine changes.

Fans and many of the sport's insiders argue that what happened at Monza, where the grid was confusingly mashed up by a spate of complex penalties, was unacceptable.

"The penalties today are completely on another level and unfair on the drivers," said F1 legend Mika Hakkinen.

But Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that when teams got together with the FIA to discuss potentially reforming the system in Singapore, the proposals for change were shelved.

"It's been like this for years and it's been ok," said Force India team manager Andy Stevenson.

"What happened at Monza happened by chance, as normally there are only one or two penalties that everyone can understand," he added.

However, it is believed the FIA is committed to at least better explaining the penalties that are applied.

Honda future makes Red Bull drivers nervous

Where would Ricciardo go?
Where would Ricciardo go?

(GMM) Red Bull and its engine supplier Renault will reportedly split after the 2018 season.

The shock news emerged as the teams set up ahead of the Singapore grand prix, and just as Honda's move from McLaren to the junior Red Bull team Toro Rosso was about to be also announced.

Some reports say Renault is dumping Red Bull at the end of an often fractious relationship, while other sources say the energy drink company is happy to assess a potential 2019 tie-up with Honda or usher Porsche into F1.

Dr Helmut Marko told Auto Bild: "I cannot comment at this time."

But the news of Renault's departure, perhaps to be replaced with the unreliable and uncompetitive Honda power unit, is rightly making the Red Bull drivers nervous.

"Yeah, they obviously need to improve," Daniel Ricciardo said of the Japanese supplier.

"I'm sure there's a reason to it (the move to Toro Rosso), and there's some faith they're going to get better, but for sure they'll need to show up next year," he said of Honda.

Teammate Max Verstappen, on the other hand, is already unhappy with his season at Red Bull, and now contemplating the final Renault-powered year in 2018.

"If this can happen, it's not until 2019," said the Dutchman when asked about a potentially Honda-powered Red Bull in the future.

"All I know is that next year I will drive a Red Bull car with a Renault engine," he added.

"So first of all I want to focus on the beginning of the season and see how competitive we will be.

"It is also possible that next year the Honda engines will be very good. So I think we just have to wait and see how everything will turn out," Verstappen added.

Hulkenberg laughs at F1 record in Singapore
(GMM) Nico Hulkenberg is set to take over an unenviable record in formula one.

In Singapore, the German is set to beat countryman Adrian Sutil's mantle as the driver with the most grand prix starts – 128 – without a single podium.

"I have waited a long time and worked really hard to have this record," the Renault driver joked to German media when asked about it.

"The Sutil era is ending and the Hulkenberg era begins," Hulkenberg laughed.

Bottas happy as Mercedes keeps 'options open'

Valtteri Bottas
Valtteri Bottas

(GMM) Valtteri Bottas says he is comfortable with his new one-year Mercedes contract.

The Finn was an eleventh-hour signing to replace Nico Rosberg this year, but has now been given yet another one-year deal amid rumors Mercedes wants Max Verstappen for 2019.

"I understand that Mercedes keeps its options open," Bottas said in Singapore. "But I'm happy.

"For my part I know I have to perform but it's always been like that in my career. I'm not used to a different situation."

Bottas also confirmed to the Finnish broadcaster C More that he negotiated the deal without the help of a manager, hinting that he did at least succeed in getting a higher fee.

"It's still better than the original contract I had," he said.

"As always in my career, it's in my own hands. If I show a good performance, there will be no problem and we can have a long future together."

However, the 28-year-old also admitted that his chances of continuing to fight for the 2017 title – rather than slotting into a supporting role for Lewis Hamilton – are fading.

"The gap to the front two is quite big," Bottas acknowledged.

"I need to make some better points sooner rather than later to keep my world championship chances alive."

Perez 'about to sign 2018 contract'
(GMM) While new deals for Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz are getting the headlines in Singapore, three other F1 drivers are also featuring prominently on the 2018 driver 'silly season'.

Bernie Ecclestone said this week that Fernando Alonso will definitely drive a Renault-powered McLaren next year, but the Spaniard himself is quiet.

"I'm relaxed, happy and we'll see what's going on in the next weeks," he said.

More unclear is what Williams' next move will be.

Although Claire Williams is now absent to give birth to a baby boy, there are rumors Sergio Perez or Robert Kubica are in the running to replace Felipe Massa.

Mexican Perez, however, indicated he is definitely staying at Force India.

"I'm about to sign a contract and I hope I can tell you before the next race," he said.

However, he is expected to keep his options open for 2019 by signing only a one-year deal, confirming: "In 2019 there will be many seats available. So you have to be flexible."

Meanwhile, it is believed Williams – like Renault – regards a comeback for the permanently injured Kubica to be a risk.

And 36-year-old veteran Massa keeps the British team's alcohol sponsor Martini happy with his experience and age.

But Massa said in Singapore: "I don't want to stay at a team just because it suits some sponsors. I want to be wanted and able to contribute to achieving the goals."

Magnussen would jump at 'top team' chance
(GMM) Kevin Magnussen says Haas would not stand in his way if a top team came knocking for him.

After ill-fated adventures at McLaren and Renault, the Dane landed at the American team this season on a two-year contract.

"But it's clear that I would go to a top team if I got the chance," Magnussen, 24, told BT newspaper in Singapore.

"I think Haas would understand, and they would probably be proud of having led me to such an opportunity. But until then I'm very happy to be here," he added.

For now, after his acrimonious split with his former manager that is now the subject of a court dispute, Magnussen does not need a manager as his 2018 contract is clear.

"It's first and foremost my responsibility," he said.

"But it's clear that for the future I cannot do it alone — I need advice and guidance," said Magnussen, whose father Jan was also an F1 driver.

"In any case, it's great to not be involved in the speculations about the 2018 season."

Singapore to host the Formula 1 World Championship until 2021

Singapore GP renewed
Singapore GP renewed

Formula 1, the pinnacle of motor sport, is delighted to announce together with Singapore GP Pte Ltd and Singapore Tourism Board that the Singapore Grand Prix will continue to be part of the Formula 1 World Championship for four more years, from 2018 to 2021.

Since its debut in 2008, the first ever night Grand Prix is one of the highlights of the F1 calendar and one of the most attractive and spectacular races. Over the years, the Singapore event has distinguished itself as one that is not just about the competition, but one complemented by a strong line-up of concerts, entertainment and lifestyle offerings both within the circuit park and throughout the city.

The announcement comes against of the background of a year-on-year 19% growth in ticket sales, with the race weekend sales still to be included.

Chase Carey, Chairman and CEO, Formula 1, said:
“The Singapore Grand Prix is a signature Formula 1 race and therefore we are very pleased that it will continue to feature on the calendar for a further four years. The first ever night race in this sport is one of the most thrilling events of the year, taking place against the stunning backdrop of Marina Bay.

"The Singapore Grand Prix, the Singapore Tourism Board and the Singapore Government have all done an excellent job of making this an event that involves the whole city. We are looking forward to offering our continued support to make the next four years even more spectacular and exciting."

Carey and Singapore execs make the announcement
Carey and Singapore execs make the announcement

S. Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry), said:
“The F1 Singapore Grand Prix has generated significant benefits for our economy as well as the Formula 1 franchise. With its global viewership and media coverage, the race has reinforced Singapore’s image as a vibrant and innovative city to a wide international audience. It has also created good opportunities for Singaporeans and the local business community. We look forward to the continued support of all Singaporeans as we work with Formula 1, Singapore GP, and all stakeholders, to ensure the F1 Singapore Grand Prix remains an event that we can all be proud of."

Mr. Ong Beng Seng, Singapore GP, said:
“Since 2008 we have enjoyed a close working relationship with Formula 1 and all of its key players. We believe this has been a beneficial partnership for all parties, for our city and for the sport, and we look forward to building on that foundation with F1’s new owners."

Mr. Lionel Yeo, Chief Executive, Singapore Tourism Board said:
“The race in Singapore has provided an excellent platform for businesses to test bed new lifestyle initiatives and products. This has not only created an exciting atmosphere during the race season, but also injected creative concepts and experiences that continue to attract tourists to Singapore all year round."

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