Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Well of course he wants to continue driving an Aldo Costa designed car
    Well of course Hamilton wants to continue driving an Aldo Costa designed car

    Hamilton admits wanting new Mercedes deal

  • Ferrari snubs Montezemolo at Monza
  • Alonso to decide future after Honda talks
  • Massa not ruling out Formula E switch
  • Symonds to help write 2021 rules
  • Haas switches focus to 2018 car
  • Villeneuve says 'no' to podium interview job
  • 'No panic' despite late contract – Bottas
  • Honda confirms 35-place drop for Alonso
  • Vettel insists no team orders at Ferrari

Hamilton admits wanting new Mercedes deal
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has confirmed reports he wants to sign a new Mercedes contract.

After the reports emerged recently, team boss Toto Wolff said that while he wants the triple world champion to stay, he will delay the talks until after the close battle for the 2017 world championship is over.

Hamilton said at Monza: "I plan to extend with the team, which we will do at some point in the second half of the season or towards the end of the year.

"I know Toto said that we will wait until the end of the season because that is what I like to do. There is no rush, and I still have another year, so we still have a lot of time," he added.

Hamilton's comments come just a week after the Ferrari contract of his championship rival, Sebastian Vettel, was extended by three years.

"In the plan that I have coming up – with the five or six years that I have left in the sport – that piece in the puzzle is now in place so it makes my decision moving forwards a lot easier," Hamilton said.

Mercedes looks set to also extend the contract of Hamilton's current teammate, but the British driver denied he needs Valtteri Bottas' help to win the title.

"I've never asked for that. It's up to Toto to decide when the right time (for team orders) has come.

"I prefer to win when I have to fight honestly for it. Valtteri has had a very good season and when he has beaten me, he was faster than me," Hamilton said.

Ferrari snubs Montezemolo at Monza

Luca di Montezemolo put out to pasture by Ferrari
Luca di Montezemolo put out to pasture by Ferrari

(GMM) Luca di Montezemolo says Ferrari did not invite him to Monza for this weekend's celebrations.

Ahead of the Italian grand prix, the great Maranello team is celebrating its 70th anniversary with special branding and events.

Curiously, Montezemolo was also born in 1947 – exactly 70 years ago – and the team's former long-time president also celebrated his birthday this week.

But the Italian told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "I have not been invited to Monza.

"But that does not matter much. The main thing is that Ferrari wins again," Montezemolo added.

When he was ousted in 2014, Montezemolo publicly fell out with new Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne.

He continued: "I miss Ferrari very much and also the races, but even more so the factory, the men and the women of Maranello."

Alonso to decide future after Honda talks

Alonso has nowhere to go in 2018
Alonso has nowhere to go in 2018

(GMM) Fernando Alonso says he may travel to Japan to meet with Honda chiefs before deciding his next move.

Prior to Monza, it was reported the fiery Spaniard had issued an ultimatum to McLaren — either dump its works Japanese engine supplier or lose him.

"That is completely wrong — it's a lie," Alonso insisted at Monza.

"McLaren is a team with 1000 employees and I am just one — and all of us want to change the situation."

Indeed, it appears that Alonso is in fact almost completely out of options, as Williams denied holding talks with the 35-year-old and Renault said it is not ready to give him a title-winning car.

Asked about Renault, the two-time world champion said: "Renault will always be in my heart.

"At my kart circuit in Spain I even have an arrangement with them. But talking about racing, I'm very pleased with McLaren. We have everything we need to win the title.

"And Renault has said repeatedly and very honestly that they doubt their readiness to fight for the title next year," Alonso added.

Honda has struggled since 2015, but on the track the Japanese manufacturer is now bringing steady improvements.

When asked about his deliberations about 2018, Alonso said: "I have to sit with McLaren and with Honda to see what their expectations are in detail.

"Maybe I will have to fly to Japan and see firsthand before I make a decision," he is quoted by the Spanish media.

"Ferrari managed to make its engine competitive in one winter, and Honda can too," Alonso continued.

"They now have three years of experience and are helped from the outside in the right direction."

And so Alonso denied that his relationship with Honda is now completely broken, and said claims he faked an engine failure at Spa a week ago are wrong.

"Have you forgotten that I have been in this situation for three years?" he asked. "In Bahrain last year I even wanted to race with a broken rib.

"I never give up."

Massa not ruling out Formula E switch

Felipe Massa Formula E bound?
Felipe Massa Formula E bound?

(GMM) Felipe Massa is not ruling out a switch in the future to Formula E.

In fact, the Brazilian looked set to switch to the electric single seater series for 2017 before Valtteri Bottas suddenly vacated his Williams seat.

Massa said at Monza: "After I decided to retire from F1 I did a test with Jaguar.

"I think it's a fantastic series and I see a great future when I decide to stop F1," he added.

Rumors are swirling that Williams could replace Massa with Fernando Alonso, Carlos Sainz or Sergio Perez for 2018.

Massa, 36, told Brazil's Globo: "I feel like I'm still competitive and so that is motivating.

"But it is true that I do not want to stay in F1 to be at the back of the grid."

Symonds to help write 2021 rules

Pat Symonds
Pat Symonds

(GMM) Pat Symonds has joined a panel tasked with helping to shape the next generation of F1 rules.

The panel has been put together by his old Benetton cohort Ross Brawn, who is now the sport's new sporting boss.

Brawn is looking to reform the controversial system of grid penalties for technical problems, and ultimately to change the car design so that DRS is not necessary.

One idea is that grid penalties in future are replaced by docked championship points.

"Of course I support that," Red Bull's Max Verstappen told Algemeen Dagblad newspaper. "The team or the supplier should be punished, not the driver.

"But I think it should not be points — just a good fine. A few million or so, so that not delivering a good job hurts them," said the Dutchman at Monza.

To help shape the new rules – particularly for the start of the next 'Concorde' period after 2020 – will be Pat Symonds, who already attends races as a British television pundit.

"The group is currently four people but it will increase to 12," he told Bild newspaper.

"We meet regularly in London and will try to use our experience for the next set of regulations.

"It's a very interesting task," former long-time Renault and Williams technical chief Symonds added at Monza. "And it's great to work with Ross again."

Haas switches focus to 2018 car

Haas team knows 2017 is hopeless
Haas team knows 2017 is hopeless

(GMM) Haas has admitted it has switched almost full attention to the 2018 car.

The small Ferrari-linked American team is seventh overall in the constructors' championship, but in a close battle with Williams, Toro Rosso and Renault.

But boss Gunther Steiner told the Danish newspaper BT at Monza: "We are working towards next year now while still trying to score as many points as possible this year.

"At the factory the biggest focus is on next year but on the track we are always trying to get the best out of this year's car," he added.

Steiner admitted that with the likes of Renault and the chasing McLaren having bigger budgets, there is a risk Haas will drop down the championship order.

But he also said: "I think everyone is trying to focus on 2018 now. I don't know what the others have planned for this year, but I think that for most of the midfield, the focus is on 2018."

Villeneuve says 'no' to podium interview job

Jacques Villeneuve
Jacques Villeneuve

(GMM) Jacques Villeneuve says he has repeatedly turned down offers to conduct the post-race interviews on the F1 podium.

The 1997 world champion attends grands prix as a television pundit for Italian television.

But unlike other drivers who do the podium interviews, the 46-year-old Canadian says he is not officially retired.

"When you get this kind of request, you are a driver who no longer races — a 'has-been'. But I'm not there yet. Not yet," he told Le Journal de Montreal newspaper at Monza.

"I'll leave it to the others."

However, Villeneuve did accept a request to drive F1's official two-seater 'F1 Experiences' car at Monza, with the program run by Paul Stoddart and Mike Gascoyne.

"I agreed because it's Monza — the temple of speed. It's a circuit I've always loved and it's so rich in history," Villeneuve said.

He said he has not forgotten how to drive an F1 car at speed.

"No, you don't lose it," said the former Williams and Honda driver.

"You get to the first corner and know exactly what to do. I admit to having some nausea because my ears are no longer used to the acceleration.

"The engine is 880 horse power so it's amazing, and the steering and the braking are very precise too — it's great," Villeneuve added.

'No panic' despite late contract – Bottas

Bottas knows he will be at Mercedes again in 2018
Bottas knows he will be at Mercedes again in 2018

(GMM) Valtteri Bottas insists there is "no panic" even though he is still not signed up for 2018.

While the top teams fill their seats for next year, and even his teammate Lewis Hamilton is talking about a contract for 2019, Bottas still has no Mercedes deal beyond November's Abu Dhabi finale.

However, Toto Wolff said at Spa a week ago that the 'paperwork' is now being done.

"You can never say that it's 100 per cent certain when it's not," Bottas said at Monza.

"We need to sort everything out for sure," the Finn told Ilta Sanomat newspaper.

"But my feelings have not changed and I'm not panicking — because I never have. I feel good about what I expect will happen."

Probably a bigger concern for the 28-year-old is the specter of having to shuffle into a supporting role for Hamilton for the balance of this season.

It comes after a particularly uncompetitive weekend at Spa.

"I have no clear answer as to why my pace was not good at Spa," Bottas said. "Nothing wrong was found with my car.

"It will be interesting to see how my pace is here at Monza, with a clean slate," he added.

Honda confirms 35-place drop for Alonso
Honda has confirmed that Fernando Alonso's grid penalty for the Italian Grand Prix will amount to 35 places, after the latest Spec 3.7 engine was fitted to his MCL32.

Honda deliberated over whether to run Spec 4 during practice at Monza, but ultimately settled on running Spec 3.7 for the first session only.

Alonso has taken on his ninth Turbocharger, ninth MGU-H, seventh Internal Combustion engine, seventh MGU-K, sixth Energy Store and fifth Control Electronics.

As it is the first time he has taken on a ninth version of any of the power unit elements, he receives a 10-place penalty, followed by a five-place drop for each of the remaining parts.

As a result, he will drop a notional 35 positions on the grid from wherever he qualifies.

Honda also revealed that Alonso may finish the first practice session early in order to maximize the time available in changing power units before the second session.

Alonso's car will be fitted with Honda's Spec 3.5 engine for the second session, along with a mixture of other power unit components already used.

McLaren-Honda has opted to take the sanction at the high-speed Monza circuit in order to enhance Alonso's prospects of scoring points in Singapore, which should be better suited to the MCL32.

Stoffel Vandoorne currently does not have a grid penalty, after confirming that he will remain with the Spec 3.5 power unit he raced in Belgium, with Honda not expecting to take a drop.

Vettel insists no team orders at Ferrari

Vettel in Thursday's Press Conference
Vettel in Thursday's Press Conference

Formula 1 championship leader Sebastian Vettel insists that there are no team orders at Ferrari to favor him over team-mate Kimi Räikkönen in the battle for the 2017 title.

Vettel, winner of four races this season, holds a seven-point buffer over Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, with Räikkönen, yet to win, fifth in the standings, 92 points behind Vettel.

Suspicions of favoritism were raised in Monaco, when pole-sitter Räikkönen commented that his strategy, pitting from the lead five laps earlier than Vettel, who consequently moved ahead, was "impossible" to work out.

Later on, in Hungary, Vettel, nursing a steering problem, preserved his position over second-placed Räikkönen, who in turn defended against Hamilton, rather than launching an attack on his team-mate.

Vettel, though, insists the Ferrari duo have been "racing each other all year" and that there is no need for orders to be implemented.

"I'm a bit surprised by the way things are put, [about] Kimi and myself, I can't speak for other people, [but] we've been racing each other all year," he said.

"I read [after the] Hungarian Grand Prix that he was protecting me… you should speak to him, he made it very clear, I don't think he was leaving anything behind.

"I think if he had the opportunity he probably would have passed me, or tried, that's fair enough, I think it would have been the same the other way around.

"I think we are racing obviously for the team, we both try do our best.

"If it happens that you race for the same spot then you might meet [the other] on track, [and] you are both fighting for yourself.

"I don't know what other teams are doing, but for us, I think we are both going flat out, and we'll see what happens."

Ferrari trails Mercedes by 44 points in the Constructors' Championship, ahead of its home event in Italy this weekend.

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