Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Horner says F1 has a choice to make, continue to feed at the manufacturers R&D trough by going all-electric and hence silent, or continue to use ICE engines no one makes anymore
    Horner says F1 has a choice to make, continue to feed at the manufacturers R&D money rough by going all-electric and hence silent, or continue to use ICE engines no one makes anymore

    F1 'at crossroads' over future engine – Horner

  • Legal issues forced Halo introduction – Horner
  • Domenicali enjoying F1's 'open' 2017 season
  • Kubica had 'no problem' with 2017 car – engineer
  • Pundit defends Magnussen amid criticism
  • Kvyat can't take Toro Rosso seat for granted – Petrov
  • No rush to add more American races – Carey
  • Ocon feels he's made 'massive step' in 2017
  • McLaren has September engine decision deadline – Boullier
  • Steiner: Haas drivers boosted by early renewals

F1 'at crossroads' over future engine – Horner
(GMM) The swarms of carmakers flocking to Formula E is a chance for F1 to think about going back to the future with its next engine.

That is the view of Red Bull boss Christian Horner, as the sport looks to move on from the controversial 'power unit' era post 2020.

Talks about the 2021 engine are already taking place, and it appears F1 will simplify the current V6 engines by adding another turbo and reducing the hybrid elements.

But Horner told Auto Motor und Sport: "I hope we do not end up with a bad compromise.

"The manufacturers are all going to Formula E, which is their playground for future technologies. Porsche, Mercedes, Renault, Audi, Jaguar — that's already more than formula one ever had.

"The cost of Formula E is 5 per cent of a F1 budget, so what I can imagine is that the mass scale manufacturers go there and the sports car manufacturers like Ferrari, Aston Martin and Lamborghini are in F1. That's their place.

"So I see formula one at a crossroads," he explained.

"If you believe the politics, we'll all be driving electric cars in 2030, so formula one should be the counterpoint — pure racing, man and machine, a competition of the best drivers in the world with combustion engines," he added.

Horner said the ultimate call may be made by new F1 sporting boss Ross Brawn, who "needs the courage to make the right decision".

He said Red Bull has done "a lot of market research" for the Aston Martin supercar project, which shows that "the overwhelming majority want a V10 or V12 and not a hybrid".

"And I did my own survey at one of the fan forums, and everyone cheered when I said do we want to go back to the V10s.

"I doubt we are going to do that," Horner acknowledged. "We'll have to be content with the bi-turbo V6. But the sound is the key.

"Of all the criticism of the current engines, the most important thing for the fans is the sound."

Legal issues forced Halo introduction – Horner

Horner thinks all racing series will have to adopt the Halo on insurance legality grounds
Horner thinks all racing series will have to adopt the Halo on insurance legality grounds

(GMM) Mercedes backed the FIA into a corner over the issue of cockpit protection in F1.

That is the view of Red Bull chief Christian Horner, who is no advocate of the governing body's decision to mandate the controversial 'Halo' solution for 2018.

A debate is raging about whether 'Halo' is good or bad for F1, but Horner thinks it was Mercedes who backed the FIA into a corner.

"Mercedes came out with that concept (Halo) and it put the FIA in a difficult position," he told Auto Motor und Sport.

"If we have an accident now and we don't have Halo on the car, but it might have saved a life, then from a legal standpoint it will be difficult to argue why it wasn't there if it was available," he said.

"That's why we (Red Bull) developed the Aeroscreen — to try to solve the problem more aesthetically than this 'flip flop'.

"The FIA is now in a corner with only the Halo and no other option.

"My concern is that every racing formula down to karts will have to have this thing — where does it stop? I think that at a certain point, as a driver, you have to accept certain risks," Horner said.

Domenicali enjoying F1's 'open' 2017 season

Former Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali on the outside looking in at Ferrari team doing what he could not
Former Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali on the outside looking in at Ferrari team doing what he could not

(GMM) Former Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali has admitted he is crossing his fingers the Maranello marque can end its decade-long title drought this year.

The Italian was Ferrari team principal for six years until 2014, and now heads Lamborghini.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner has linked Lamborghini with a future move into F1, and Domenicali agrees that the Italian brand is at least not ready for the ultra-modern technology of Formula E.

"Our priority is the technologies we already have," he told Italy's Autosprint.

"I do not see this step in the short term for any super sport brand but above all us. Formula E is interesting to many manufacturers but I think it's also complimentary to traditional motor sport," Domenicali added.

As for F1, Domenicali said he is happy to see his old team Ferrari doing so well in 2017.

"I see a much more interesting season than the last, with a totally open championship that can be decided in the last race," he said.

"And as an Italian, I really hope we get to the end with a result that repays the great passion surrounding Ferrari in our country."

Domenicali was also asked about the controversial Halo innovation for 2018, and said: "The federation is right to put safety first.

"I recall many innovations that had a negative public reaction, but I don't think anyone can question the usefulness, while the aesthetic issue will soon be forgotten," said the Italian, who doubles as the head of the FIA's single seater commission.

Kubica had 'no problem' with 2017 car – engineer

Kubica found that current F1 cars are a breeze to drive with globs of downforce to spare
Kubica found that current F1 cars are a breeze to drive with globs of downforce to spare and power steering.

(GMM) A Renault engineer has raised expectations Robert Kubica might indeed be heading back to F1.

Dozens of Polish media and thousands of his fans cheered the 32-year-old as he got to grips with Renault's 2017 car in the recent Hungary test, notwithstanding his permanent injuries sustained in a crash six years ago.

Ricardo Penteado, a leading Renault engineer, said any doubts about Kubica's ability to drive a modern F1 car evaporated at the test.

"You can forget that question — he has no problem to drive the hybrid cars," Penteado told Brazil's Globo.

Kubica's best lap in Hungary was competitive, but Penteado said the 2008 Canadian grand prix winner could also have been quicker.

"The most important thing is that Kubica did not have fuel for just one lap," he said.

"The other thing that stands out is the number of laps he did — the equivalent of two races," Penteado added. "It was 40 degrees and Robert did not get out of the car complaining of exhaustion."

Finally, Penteado said Kubica was able to drive the Renault with only minimal changes to the layout of the steering wheel.

"He had no difficulty," he said. "We asked for a lot of changes from him via the steering wheel, and he did everything within the normal time."

Pundit defends Magnussen amid criticism

Magnussen, like Verstappen, drives over their head at times
Magnussen, like Verstappen, drives over his head at times

(GMM) A leading F1 correspondent has backed Kevin Magnussen amid criticism of the Haas driver's racing style.

Magnussen won internet infamy with his "suck my b-lls" retort after Hungary, but Nico Hulkenberg had triggered the insult by accusing the Dane of being an unsporting driver.

Subsequently backing Hulkenberg in their assessment of Magnussen were two former drivers, Marc Surer and Jacques Villeneuve.

But Peter Nygaard, a correspondent for the Danish newspaper BT, says that's unfair.

"Kevin drives to the limit and sometimes a bit over," he said. "But that's what you have to do in formula one, where the big boys play.

"Looking at the penalties, Daniil Kvyat has the most and Sebastian Vettel – who is a four time champion – has the same number as Kevin," Nygaard added.

Nygaard hit back particularly at the criticism coming from 1997 world champion Villeneuve, saying the Canadian was also a "hard dog" as a youngster.

"But it's always different when you're retired and you've achieved what you wanted to," he insisted. "It's completely different when you're on the track and trying to gain the respect of those around you."

Kvyat can't take Toro Rosso seat for granted – Petrov

Daniil Kvyat
Daniil Kvyat

(GMM) Daniil Kvyat cannot take his place in formula one for granted.

That is the view of the Russian youngster's countryman Vitaly Petrov, who some years ago became the first Russian to race in F1.

Now, 23-year-old Kvyat is flying the flag for Russia and, according to Red Bull chiefs, stands a good chance of keeping his place for 2018 at the junior team Toro Rosso.

However, Red Bull hopeful Pierre Gasly is saying he would like a seat, while the Faenza team's boss Franz Tost is warning Kvyat of being too "emotional" at the start of races.

"As a F1 driver, no one is immune from the risk of being replaced at any moment," Petrov told the Russian broadcaster Match TV.

"So even if Christian Horner is saying they want to extend the contract, he (Kvyat) cannot be complacent. I remember driving for Renault and Nick Heidfeld was very strong, and yet the team changed during the season to Bruno Senna.

"So I think Daniil needs to have a good rest now, reboot and get ready for the second part of the championship. If there are similar accidents as we saw in the first half, then everything can end badly for him," Petrov warned.

No rush to add more American races – Carey

Carey is finding governments in the USA refuse to pay millions to make an F1 race financially viable
Carey is finding governments in the USA refuse to pay millions to make an F1 race financially viable

(GMM) Chase Carey says he will not rush to set up a second race in the United States.

Currently, the annual US grand prix is held in Austin, Texas.

But after the Liberty Media buyout, there have been claims Bernie Ecclestone's successor, American Carey, has prioritized the adding of a second or even third race in the US.

However, the new F1 CEO says he actually has a "five year plan" regarding the American market.

"I don't want to criticize Bernie," he told Germany's Auto Bild, "because he did many things very well.

"But I think he went too much for short terms deals. So if you want to go to New York, it takes time and good planning.

"Previously, formula one worked in so far that you sign a contract and leave the rest to the promoter. But this is no longer possible," Carey insisted.

"You have to capture people's imagination. You don't do that with Phoenix, but in New York or Miami.

"We can already see the first signs, as since we have increased our commitment to social media, we are already seeing more feedback from the US. There is a bigger fan base there than we thought," Carey added.

Ocon feels he's made 'massive step' in 2017

Esteban Ocon
Esteban Ocon

Force India driver Esteban Ocon believes he has made a "massive step" across the opening half of the 2017 campaign, following on from his part-season with Manor last year.

Mercedes-backed Ocon graduated to Formula 1 at last season's Belgian Grand Prix, competing for Manor, following previous test outings for Mercedes, Renault/Lotus and Force India.

Ocon has scored points in 10 of this year's 11 Grands Prix, with a best finish of fifth in Spain, and holds eighth position in the standings, having amassed 45 points.

"If you look at [the pace in] Australia there was a massive step until now," Ocon commented.

"In the first five races I was continuously improving, then the fine details is the rest that you need to improve and I'm starting to get this.

"This takes a bit more time obviously, and yes, I'm just learning all the time, and I will not lift off until I get my podium!"

Ocon added that, having sampled Formula 1 machinery at each remaining 2017 venue – courtesy of his 2016 Manor spell – he can approach the rest of the season with greater assurance.

"I'm quite happy with how the season went at the moment," he said.

"The target was to be scoring points in every race and that's what we're doing, [apart from] in Monaco where we were a bit unlucky.

"I feel more and more comfortable with the team each time I get into the car and with each race I do, and now I will start being on tracks I know, which helps me as well, which is good.

"I look forward to what the rest of the season brings, but at the moment I'm happy with what I've done."

Ocon's team-mate, Sergio Perez, has scored 56 points.

McLaren has September engine decision deadline – Boullier

Eric Boullier
Eric Boullier

McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier says the operation has until September to decide on its engine partner for 2018, due to the deadlines in designing next year's car.

McLaren reunited with Honda in 2015, the Japanese manufacturer returning after six-year absence from the sport, in a bid to rekindle the dominant partnership of the late 1980s/early 1990s.

However, McLaren has yet to capture its desired results, taking a best race result of fifth, and holds ninth in the standings, amid Honda's struggles with its revised 2017 power unit.

McLaren has criticized Honda on a regular basis this year and sounded out rival manufacturers over a potential 2018 supply, though Honda, also linked with Toro Rosso, has repeatedly reiterated its desire to stay.

On a deadline for finalizing its 2018 partner, Boullier said: "Technically you could change an engine in 12 weeks, let's say.

"Then you can change it any time before the [next] season up until, let's say, three months before.

"It's going to be September, if you want to do the base design around an engine – September."

Boullier also emphasized that McLaren has been thoroughly disappointed by its showing across the first 11 races of 2017.

McLaren holds ninth position in the Constructors' Championship, having only demoted Sauber to the foot of the standings at the previous event in Hungary.

"Well, obviously, we finished the last year sixth, and we can't be happy with where we are with the situation, the reliability, and performance," Boullier explained.

"If we have to say after half a season where we are: we are working hard to recover.

"After [our] performance and competitiveness we had last year [we had] the ambition to do a better job this year but this is not where we are and where we want to be.

"We can't be very happy so far."

Steiner: Haas drivers boosted by early renewals
Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner believes Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen will be boosted by their early renewals for 2018, which will in turn benefit the squad.

Haas owner Gene Haas confirmed last month that it would retain Grosjean for a third season, along with Magnussen, who joined the team for 2017 after previous one-year spells at McLaren and Renault.

Haas is currently embroiled in a four-team scrap for fifth in the Constructors' Championship, with 15 points covering Williams, Toro Rosso, itself and Renault.

Steiner reckons sorting out its 2018 driver line-up earlier in the season will reduce the number of off-track distractions.

"We are happy with our drivers and from the beginning we never said anything that we'd change them," explained Steiner.

"They both have contracts, we're good…

"Signing drivers up, especially in the midfield teams, is always stressful. There are the good drivers [and] you have to convince them [to be at the team]; the bad drivers you don't want.

"If you've got your drivers sorted out… for me last year Esteban [Gutierrez] didn't do a bad job, but we still had to make changes, you need to do it with respect, because he deserved respect.

"When you need another driver, you need to attract somebody, and it's hard work, so this year at least that isn't there.

"It's also good for the drivers to know going forward that they are in a team.

"They don't have to start looking around for a seat and it gives them confidence, they can focus on racing, not getting the next contract.

"I think we're in a good place."

Haas has scored points in seven of this year's 11 Grands Prix, taking a best result of sixth in Austria, courtesy of Grosjean.

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