Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Vettel says contract news will not happen until after Monza
    Vettel says contract news will not happen until after Monza

    Vettel says no contract news at Monza

  • Hamilton tips Mercedes to re-sign Bottas
  • Still no new contract for Sergio Perez
  • Sainz welcomes James Key re-signing
  • Wehrlein admits Ferrari junior could oust him
  • Vasseur denies Sauber to be Ferrari 'B team'
  • Palmer pushing to keep Renault seat
  • FIA to mandate 'Halo' beyond F1 – Mekies
  • Ralf Schumacher's son set for Formula 4 debut
  • Magnussen not sorry after 'suck my b-lls' rebuke
  • Alonso says September is 'decision month'
  • Hamilton, Bottas get new engines for Spa

Vettel says no contract news at Monza
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has played down claims Ferrari will confirm he is staying put for 2018 next week at Monza.

The Italian team said this week that the German's friend and teammate Kimi Raikkonen is staying at Ferrari next year.

"I have no idea what will happen in his (Vettel's) case," Raikkonen said at Spa, "but hopefully it all stays how it is now."

There are rumors all will become clear at Ferrari's home race next weekend, but Vettel denied that.

"The main focus now is not news, it's the race and that will be the same next week. So I don't expect news within the next two weeks," said the quadruple world champion.

Another rumor is that Raikkonen's new contract was a 'condition' of Vettel also deciding to stay.

"The team asked me if I'm happy with it (Raikkonen staying) and I'm happy," Vettel said. "There is no doubt about Kimi's speed but the decision is of course Ferrari's."

Hamilton tips Mercedes to re-sign Bottas

Bottas a shoe-in to be re-signed be Mercedes
Bottas a shoe-in to be re-signed be Mercedes

(GMM) Lewis Hamilton says he hopes Valtteri Bottas stays at Mercedes next year.

In the past days, Ferrari and McLaren have re-signed Kimi Raikkonen and Stoffel Vandoorne respectively for 2018, but Finn Bottas' fate at Mercedes is less clear.

One rumor is that Sebastian Vettel could replace him.

"I think it's highly unlikely that he (Vettel) will be here," Hamilton said at Spa, "and I don't think he wants to be my teammate.

"He would not be in the position he is now in his team (Ferrari) in terms of how the team operates if he was here (at Mercedes)," the Briton added.

However, Hamilton indicated that he would welcome any driver to Mercedes, because "I am always game to race whoever it is".

But the triple world champion also said he thinks Mercedes is happy with Bottas.

"I don't believe any of the bosses or any of the individuals within the team is unhappy with what is currently in place, so I find it hard to believe they will change that," said Hamilton.

Still no new contract for Sergio Perez

Perez's check from Carlos Slim has not cleared yet
Perez's check from Carlos Slim has not cleared yet

(GMM) Sergio Perez has emerged from F1's August break without a new contract in place for 2018.

The Mexican headed into the summer factory shutdown period declaring that he hoped his future at Force India would be clear by the end of August.

"Unfortunately there is nothing to report," Perez said at Spa.

"As you know, it's not only my decision as what I do is coordinated with my sponsors. Hopefully there is more clarity by the time we go to Asia."

He denied that he is disappointed with the news out of Ferrari that Kimi Raikkonen is staying put at Maranello.

"It was no surprise to me. It is virtually impossible to get into one of those top teams. Bottas was lucky," said Perez.

"It's sobering that there are only two teams that can win."

Renault has been mentioned as a possible alternate team for Perez, but the 27-year-old insisted: "I cannot go wrong with this team (Force India). They're always there somehow."

Complicating Perez's cause is his current teammate Esteban Ocon, who has been impressive at Force India especially in recent races.

There is also obvious tension between the pair, but Perez insisted: "I'm not afraid of anyone.

"On the other hand I am not surprised by his performance, because these days young drivers are very well prepared for formula one and that is especially true for him.

"He knew a great deal more about F1 than I did when I started."

Sainz Jr. welcomes James Key re-signing

James Key
James Key

(GMM) Carlos Sainz Jr. says the re-signing of technical boss James Key is good news for Toro Rosso.

"I have always said that James is very important for Toro Rosso," said the Spaniard, whose Red Bull bosses also want to keep him at the junior team for 2018.

"I don't know for how long he has extended the contract, but I am sure that if every F1 team had the same budget, Toro Rosso would be much higher and in many respects that is due to James," Sainz added.

However, the recent August break started amid rumors Toro Rosso could switch to Honda power for 2018, but now there are claims those talks have stalled.

"To be honest I have nothing to do with that and I have been told nothing by Helmut Marko or anyone else, so I think it's nothing more than rumors," said Sainz.

Another rumor is that Toro Rosso might be contemplating a driver change for 2018, with reigning GP2 champion Pierre Gasly eager to break into F1.

"Of course I have sympathy for him and I wouldn't mind if he became my teammate," said Sainz.

"But this is also Helmut Marko's responsibility, not mine, so I have no idea if he will go for stability or get a new talented driver.

"Unfortunately for F1 it's not enough to show excellent results — a number of circumstances have to come together as well so you need to have patience," he added.

Wehrlein admits Ferrari junior could oust him

Pascal Wehrlein - one and done in F1
Pascal Wehrlein – one and done in F1

(GMM) Pascal Wehrlein has admitted he might find himself ousted by Sauber at the end of the year.

There are reports that after new team boss Frederic Vasseur swapped the team's planned 2018 Honda deal for an extension with Ferrari, the new arrangement could see a Ferrari junior join Sauber next year.

"Obviously Ferrari want to promote their drivers," German Wehrlein, who is in Mercedes' driver program, said at Spa.

"They (Ferrari) have two strong drivers so it makes sense. As for my program for 2018, I don't know anything yet," he added, referring to Ferrari juniors Antonio Giovinazzi and Charles Leclerc.

"But I don't have a backup plan. It's only August. This year I signed the contract in January and the year before it was even February, but I do hope I will find out soon what is coming for me in 2018," Wehrlein said.

Asked if he would consider a stop-gap solution for 2018 as a 'reserve driver', Wehrlein answered: "There is no point discussing that now. Talks are underway.

"There are usually different options and you always go for the best one."

Finally, Wehrlein said he is expecting Sauber to now switch focus to its 2018 car.

"It is likely that the configuration of the car will remain until the last race in Abu Dhabi," he confirmed, "but there are still things we can do with the settings."

Vasseur denies Sauber to be Ferrari 'B team'

Frederic Vasseur
Frederic Vasseur

(GMM) Frederic Vasseur has played down claims Sauber could join Haas in becoming another Ferrari 'B' team.

It has emerged that Sauber will use Ferrari's fully up-to-date 2018 engine next year, and possibly run one or both of the Italian team's junior drivers Antonio Giovinazzi and Charles Leclerc.

"I knew you would ask me about the drivers," new Sauber boss Vasseur laughed at Spa.

"We will only discuss the situation and make a decision in the next few weeks."

There are rumors Sauber could even become a fully-fledged Ferrari 'junior team', and Vasseur said: "It is good that we will be supported by one of the top teams, and not only technically.

"But honestly no. Haas has its own philosophy and we have ours," added the Frenchman, when asked if the Ferrari-Haas deal could be replicated.

"We want to develop our own project with Ferrari, with the engine and gearbox at the heart but we can expand the number of parts we receive from Maranello.

"At Sauber we already have very good infrastructure and perhaps Haas does not. We have one of the best wind tunnels in formula one, for example.

"Perhaps at some point we will find a better option to collaborate, but we will not become a 'B team' or customer team," Vasseur insisted.

Palmer pushing to keep Renault seat

Jolyon Palmer hoping his check is big enough
Jolyon Palmer hoping his check is big enough

(GMM) Jolyon Palmer says he is determined to try to keep his place at Renault for 2018.

The Briton has scored zero points this year while his teammate Nico Hulkenberg amassed a tidy tally of 26.

Linked with Palmer's place for 2018 are Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz and even Robert Kubica.

"Honestly I have no idea who it will be," Hulkenberg said at Spa.

Palmer is not writing off his chances of turning his 2017 season around.

"Last year the second half of the season was better than the first, and that's what I need now," he said.

"I know I can do it and the car is now more competitive than before. So that's what I have to do.

"The situation is the same for me as it was last year, when I also did not think about the following season but instead concentrated on racing and getting good results," Palmer added.

FIA to mandate 'Halo' beyond F1 – Mekies
(GMM) F1's governing body has admitted it wants the controversial 'Halo' concept to be rolled out across the spectrum of open wheel racing.

Many F1 drivers, insiders and fans are unhappy the 'flip flop'-style safety innovation will protect the open cockpits of every F1 car next year.

But the FIA's technical boss Laurent Mekies said: "There is no sense in something like Halo if it cannot be introduced in another similar series.

"That doesn't mean the same version will be used everywhere," he is quoted by Russia's Match TV. "But I think it would be hard to understand if only the best drivers were protected by something like that.

"F1 is the best environment for testing and research of solutions and so it was only natural that we developed it here. But it is obvious that our intention is to introduce the concept in other series," Mekies added.

Ralf Schumacher's son set for Formula 4 debut
(GMM) Another Schumacher is well on the road to formula one.

Already, great hype and attention is surrounding the rise of F1 legend Michael Schumacher's 18-year-old son Mick, who is currently in European F3.

But it now emerges that Michael's brother Ralf also has a son on the path to F1, with David Schumacher set to move from karts to German Formula 4.

David, 16, will drive for his father's own team US Racing in 2018.

"I was happy with my first test," Mick Schumacher's cousin said, according to Germany's Auto Bild.

Magnussen not sorry after 'suck my b-lls' rebuke

Magnussen not sorry for rude comment.
Magnussen not sorry for rude comment.

(GMM) Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg are refusing to make up after their high-profile falling out in Hungary recently.

Haas driver Magnussen entered the August break by telling Hulkenberg to "suck my b-lls", following their on-track battle.

Renault's Hulkenberg started the row by interrupting a live television interview to tell Magnussen he is the "most unsporting driver" in F1.

Asked if they had got together since then to clear the air, German Hulkenberg told Bild newspaper: "No. And we will not. There's nothing to clarify.

"We just don't like each other."

Magnussen, meanwhile, told the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet: "I watched the incident afterwards and it was hard driving from my side.

"I try my best and, yes, sometimes I squeeze the lemon as tightly as possible and go over the limit.

"But I'm not here to make friends. I'm here to get results," he added.

Asked how his Haas bosses responded to the controversial "suck my b-lls" comment, Magnussen answered: "They just laughed.

"They want me to drive a hard race and that's what they got!"

And when asked if he will get together to clear the air with Hulkenberg, Magnussen said: "We haven't spoken, and we will not."

Alonso says September is 'decision month'

Alonso, having no other choices, will likely re-sign with Zak Brown at McLaren
Alonso, having no other choices, will likely re-sign with Zak Brown at McLaren

(GMM) Fernando Alonso has admitted the time is nearing for a decision about his future beyond 2017.

The Spaniard said previously he would contemplate his next move during the summer break, so as the F1 circus reconvened at Spa, Alonso was asked if he has decided.

"I've always said that September would be the decision month," he answered.

"Today is August 24. So you have to wait."

A few days ago, Alonso admitted that if he cannot secure a winning seat in F1 next year, he may look outside of the category he has raced in since 2001.

However, McLaren clearly wants him to stay, and the rising star of Lando Norris might be seen as pressure on Alonso to ink a new deal.

"I have zero pressure," Alonso insists. "I will take my decision when I want."

But Alonso's alternatives appear scarce, with Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes appearing to have no vacancies for 2018.

"I am not worrying about who has already signed and what is still available," Alonso insisted.

He also said whether McLaren stays with or dumps Honda will not be decisive.

"For me, only the competitiveness of the package matters," the 35-year-old explained.

"The only thing you can guess is that there are three teams where the performance is right. Everything else is speculation."

Alonso does, however, welcome the news that McLaren is keeping his current teammate Stoffel Vandoorne, saying the Belgian has done "a super job" in his rookie year.

"I have always tried to be positive and believe in the team, despite the difficulties," he added.

"Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber have told me they are surprised that I haven't exploded. But what would that do?

"If someone told me we would find a second per lap if I exploded, I would do it. But the guys in the team and at Honda are already giving their all," said Alonso.

Hamilton, Bottas get new engines for Spa

Mercedes ups the ante with more HP
Mercedes ups the ante with more HP

Mercedes has fitted new power unit components to the W08s of both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas at the Belgian Grand Prix, putting the pair one step away from a grid penalty.

An updated list of power unit parts issued by the FIA on Friday morning confirmed that Hamilton and Bottas have received their fourth Internal Combustion Engines, Turbochargers and MGU-H.

Consequently, the duo have now used up their 2017 allocation for these three power unit components, meaning that they will have to recycle parts in order to avoid a grid penalty.

As expected, Haas pair Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen have moved onto their fourth ICE, in order to run Ferrari's latest spec engine, which was introduced in Britain.

McLaren-Honda's Stoffel Vandoorne is currently the only driver facing a grid drop for this weekend's event, with a 35-place demotion to follow the installation of new parts.

As with Mercedes, both Ferrari drivers are one element away from a penalty, with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen having used their four allocated Turbochargers.

However, technical chief Mattia Binotto has explained that a rotational policy across the remaining nine races should mean that grid penalties are avoided for both drivers.

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