Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Bottas is clear #2 now
    Bottas is clear #2 now

    Bottas should be 'number 2' driver now – Lauda

  • Verstappen hype 'not eclipsing me' – Ricciardo
  • FIA clarifies oil burn situation from Monza
  • Renault cautious over Italian GP prospects
  • Massa: Eighth 'like a victory' for Williams
  • Hulkenberg hyped that Renault fourth-best
  • Commemorating Bruce's 80th Birthday

Bottas should be 'number 2' driver now – Lauda
(GMM) Valtteri Bottas looks set to be shuffled into de-facto 'number 2' status for the remaining eight grands prix of 2017.

Until recently, the Finn looked right in the running with championship leaders Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, but he had a poor weekend at Spa.

Bottas, however, thinks he's still in the hunt.

"There are still eight races and a lot of points left on the table," he is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

"Lewis and Sebastian have had no failures yet, and I don't wish that on anybody — it's just a fact. Something can always happen.

"It's up to me. I just have to be on pole position and then beat my opponents," Bottas added ahead of the Italian grand prix.

However, with Ferrari operating a fairly clear driver hierarchy – with Kimi Raikkonen obviously supporting Sebastian Vettel – it is an awkward situation for Mercedes.

When asked about the specter of 'team orders' in relation to Hamilton's push to keep closing the 13-point gap to Vettel, Bottas said: "I don't think too much about it because I don't want it to affect me negatively.

"It is clear that from a certain point in the season the team must clearly put everything on one driver. But to me it seems a little bit early now," he insisted.

But from Mercedes' point of view, the issue of a driver hierarchy is at least ripe to be thought about.

"You can only beat an opponent like Ferrari when everything fits," boss Toto Wolff said.

"We do want to keep ourselves open for all the options as long as possible, and we also know that there is no manual for dealing with these problems.

"Ferrari has the luxury of one driver being clearly ahead of the other, so for now we will decide on a race by race basis," he added.

"Let's see after Monza," Wolff said.

"It is a circuit that is good for us, but we saw at Spa that Ferrari has made progress."

Team chairman and F1 legend Niki Lauda, however, thinks the time has now come for Hamilton to get full 'number 1' backing.

"This giving away of points must stop now," he said, clearly referring to Hungary when Hamilton pulled over for Bottas to honor a policy of driver equality.

"I was champion by half a point, so I know exactly how important every single point is when you count them in the end," the triple world champion insisted.

"I know exactly what we need to do," Lauda told RTL television. "Bottas did not have a strong weekend at Spa so it is already clear that Lewis has a better chance for the championship.

"If Lewis had not given away those three points in Budapest, he would now be only four points behind Vettel," Lauda said.

Verstappen hype 'not eclipsing me' – Ricciardo

While Verstappen (R) either breaks his car or someone else's almost every race, Ricciardo keeps reaching the podium when it counts
While Verstappen (R) either breaks his car or someone else's almost every race, Ricciardo (L) keeps reaching the podium when it counts – six times this year

(GMM) Daniel Ricciardo insists he is not bothered by the level of media and team attention attracted by his teammate.

Teen sensation Max Verstappen, 19, not only hogs the media headlines, but he also seems to receive the lion's share of attention doled out by Red Bull.

For instance, just recently Red Bull mogul Dietrich Mateschitz said his big dream is that Verstappen becomes the youngest world champion in F1 history.

"The next day after Dietrich said that I called him directly on the phone," Australian Ricciardo said. "I said 'I've read your comments — unless you pay me $10 million dollars, I'm leaving'."

Spain's El Confidencial newspaper said the Red Bull press officer interjected immediately to clarify that the always-grinning Ricciardo was of course joking.

Ricciardo confirmed: "Honestly, I don't really care what goes on in the media, and I don't take those kind of comments from my bosses personally at all.

"I know I have a good relationship with Red Bull and I've always been loyal to them as well," the 28-year-old continued.

"They're never unfair to me in any way and from their point of view, I understand why it's so much about Max. He's the youngest driver in history and as a brand it makes for pretty good headlines.

"In the end, I know this is also a business," Ricciardo added.

And so Ricciardo says he is happy with his situation at Red Bull.

"I am proving that I'm a good driver and I don't feel that Verstappen eclipses me in any way even if he has a lot more coverage in the media," he said.

FIA clarifies oil burn situation from Monza

By outsmarting Ferrari, Mercedes now able to burn a lot more oil in their fuel
By outsmarting Ferrari, Mercedes now able to burn a lot more oil in their fuel

Mercedes will be able to run its new engine with a higher level of oil burn moving forward, having introduced it in Belgium, the FIA has confirmed.

A new, stricter oil burn limit of 0.9 liters per 100km will come into force at this weekend's Italian Grand Prix, following a technical directive (TD) last month.

Mercedes opted to introduce its fourth engine at Spa-Francorchamps, ahead of the cut-off, with championship rival Ferrari still running its third element.

Despite the TD, questions remained as to whether engines introduced at Spa, or before, would be subject to the stricter 0.9 liter per 100km limit, particularly in relation to customer teams.

On Tuesday morning, the FIA clarified that Mercedes will only have to comply with the 1.2 liter per 100km limit, outlined in last month's TD, as it has already used its new engine.

Mercedes' supplied teams (Force India and Williams), however, will need to stick to the 0.9 per 100km limit when they introduce their final power units.

"If an engine (ICE element) is introduced at or after the Monza race weekend, its oil consumption needs to be below 0.9L/100km whenever it is used," said an FIA spokesman.

"If an engine (ICE element) has been introduced at or before the Spa race weekend, its oil consumption needs to be below 1.2L/100km whenever it is used."

The FIA made clear that it deems an engine to have been used as soon as a car's transponder has shown that a driver has left the pit lane.

Renault cautious over Italian GP prospects

Renault not too confident for Monza
Renault not too confident for Monza

Renault says it is adopting a cautious approach to this weekend's Italian Grand Prix due to the high-speed nature of the Monza circuit.

Renault has emerged as a regular points contender across recent events, and has out-scored its midfield rivals since it introduced updates at the British Grand Prix.

Renault continues to hold eighth in the standings, but is now just 11 points behind Williams, which occupies fifth, the position Renault targeted pre-season.

"The latest updates have all worked as they should to help us increase performance and put us in the top 10 on a regular basis," said Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul.

"Monza is one of the most demanding races on the engine due to its frequent and prolonged high-speed straights and curves.

"We have to approach the weekend with a sense of caution as we know the remaining races after this weekend should be more favorable for us.

"It will be about seeing how we go about this to get the most out of the car. Our aim remains to get both cars in the points to keep gaining ground on the teams above us."

Renault's prospects of a double-points finish at the preceding Belgian event were hampered by a gearbox issue during qualifying for Jolyon Palmer.

Palmer, who had shown strong pace during practice, pulled off on his Q3 out lap, while a subsequent penalty demoted the Briton to 14th, from where he recovered only to 13th.

Renault believes the problem was a one-off, but is wary that reliability must improve, with Red Bull's Max Verstappen also hit by an issue during the race at Spa-Francorchamps.

"We will address it for Monza and ensure it doesn't occur again," said technical chief Bob Bell.

"Reliability is still a priority and we must ensure that Monza is a trouble-free weekend.

"Pace is where we hoped it would be at this point in the season but reliability still needs to improve."

Massa: Eighth 'like a victory' for Williams

Felipe Massa came back strong at Spa
Felipe Massa came back strong at Spa

Felipe Massa says that his eighth-place finish at the Belgian Grand Prix "felt like a victory" for himself and Williams after a tough start to the race weekend.

Massa crashed heavily just 15 minutes into the opening session at Spa-Francorchamps, forcing a chassis change that ruled him out of second practice.

He returned to action on Saturday, but Williams lacked pace and suffered a third double Q1 exit in four events, with Massa taking 16th, and Lance Stroll ending up 18th.

However, in the race, Massa enjoyed a change of fortune, working his way up to eighth by the time of his first pit-stop, which he maintained after the Safety Car.

"I'm very happy with the race, it was like a victory," said Massa.

"Great start, great overtakes, good pace for the car we struggled with [in qualifying], so I'm really happy and also to be able to keep the cars behind at the end.

"I know eighth place is not a nice position, looking at everything I have achieved in my career, but the way I drove the car and the way I drove in this race, it was definitely like a victory and I'm so happy.

"For sure there's a lot to understand and improve in the car, like what wasn't working in the last two races, but I'm happy with the perfect race I had."

Williams technical chief Paddy Lowe also paid tribute to Massa.

"Congratulations to Felipe for a great race and four points," he said.

"After his difficulties through the last month with missing the race in Hungary, it is great that he could come back to such a challenging circuit and deliver a strong result for the team.

"I am sure no one is happier about that than he is."

Stroll finished 11th in the other Williams, 10 seconds shy of a point.

Hulkenberg hyped that Renault fourth-best

Palmer in the Renault at Spa - he was fast
Palmer in the Renault at Spa – he was fast

Nico Hulkenberg was encouraged as Renault again proved to be the fourth-quickest team at the Belgian Grand Prix, in the wake of recent development work.

Hulkenberg qualified seventh, behind the Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull drivers, and gained a position in the race after Max Verstappen's retirement to take sixth.

It marked Hulkenberg and Renault's third sixth-place result this season, and follows on from a host of updates, leaving him confident heading to the next round in Italy.

"I'm happy and pleasantly surprised," Hulkenberg said of his race.

"I had a poor start but was able to rectify it at the first corner with a move down the inside to have a great run on Checo [Sergio PĂ©rez] through Eau Rouge.

"The car felt better than [in qualifying] and we were the fourth quickest team out there again which allowed us to finish in the top six.

"I had some great fighting with Fernando [Alonso]. It was pretty hairy getting three abreast with him and Esteban [Ocon].

"Fernando was making a move with DRS and a big tow, then Esteban had a massive overshoot so for a moment I thought, 'Oh gosh, it's not going to end well', but fortunately it was great racing.

"I've definitely got good confidence heading to Monza."

Jolyon Palmer had led Renault's charge in qualifying until a gearbox issue early in Q3, which resulted in a change of unit and him starting from 14th position.

He was only able to make up one spot in the race, but is adamant that he could have scored his first points of the season without the aforementioned issue.

"We knew that taking a penalty would mean starting on used tires with everyone around me on fresh sets and that was always going to put us on the back-foot," he said.

"Despite that, I had a decent start and the car was much better once we changed tires. It was just a case of being stuck in traffic for much of the race.

"I had some good fights, they were fun, but it's a shame not to have anything to show for it. Had we started seventh, points would have definitely been achievable."

Renault still holds eighth in the championship standings, though is now just 11 points away from fifth-placed Williams, as a tight midfield battle continues.

Commemorating Bruce's 80th Birthday
McLaren's tribute to Bruce McLaren in the week of his 80th birthday at the Belgian Grand Prix, the home our very first win.

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