Latest F1 news in brief – Sunday

  • Paul di Resta
    Paul di Resta

    Mercedes eyes di Resta as F1 reserve

  • Alonso eyes McLaren engine 'gift' for 2018
  • Sainz Jr. not commenting on Toro Rosso-Honda rumor
  • Ferrari 'simply better' on slow circuits – Wolff
  • F1 defends editing negative Halo comments
  • Mercedes not dumping F1 for Formula E – Lauda
  • Red Bull eyes independent engine supplier for future
  • Bottas: Ferrari 'just too quick' for Mercedes
  • Vettel hails 'phenomenal' car after pole
  • Verstappen hails overnight set-up changes

Mercedes eyes di Resta as F1 reserve
(GMM) Paul di Resta is now in reigning world champions Mercedes' sights.

It comes after the former Force India driver performed admirably as he stood in for the unwell Felipe Massa in qualifying in Hungary.

It is believed Massa is suffering from Labyrinthitis, a virus that is sweeping the F1 paddock and struck down British commentator Martin Brundle at Silverstone.

"He's having vertigo and has some problems with his ears but I don't know the medical terminology," said Claire Williams. "He (Massa) will have some more tests after the weekend."

What the Massa case has highlighted is that many F1 teams do not have a reserve driver on standby.

Indeed, although Williams' official reserve, di Resta does not seem an obvious choice, as he has not raced in F1 for years and was in Budapest as a commentator for British television.

One issue is the F1 super license system, with many younger but more appropriate potential stand-in drivers unable to get FIA permission to race.

Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko said the current system is "not user friendly" and McLaren's Eric Boullier said the di Resta situation is even a "safety risk".

Boullier said: "Technically we still have Jenson Button, but we would probably have to ask Ferrari if we needed someone at the last moment."

Indeed, Ferrari reserve Antonio Giovinazzi has a super license, with even reigning champions Mercedes not having an official reserve at races on standby.

"We would put Niki (Lauda) in the car," Toto Wolff joked.

"We would probably use Paul (di Resta)," he added. "He did an incredible job, having never driven that car and only being seven tenths slower than Lance Stroll.

"Perhaps he has revived his F1 career today," said Wolff.

Alonso eyes McLaren engine 'gift' for 2018

The McLaren chassis is good, and with a Mercedes or Ferrari engine it would win races
The McLaren chassis is good, and with a Mercedes or Ferrari engine it would win races

(GMM) Fernando Alonso has hinted he will stay with McLaren next year, depending on the outcome of the team's engine supplier crisis.

The team held a surprise birthday party for the 36-year-old in Hungary after qualifying, and boss Eric Boullier said: "Now we hope we will celebrate your 37th birthday together."

And Marca sports newspaper quoted Alonso as responding: "I'm very proud of the team and we have worked well for the last three years.

"Hopefully we will see each other next year as well if Eric, Zak (Brown) or someone else sends me a nice gift."

When pressed as to what 'gift' he is talking about, Alonso remarked: "I think here we are fighting for seventh place, but it's not the position dreamed about by any driver.

"There are other things going on that are not about seventh position for next year, when I hope we are fighting instead for pole."

Sainz Jr. not commenting on Toro Rosso-Honda rumor

Will Sainz Jr. be driving a Honda in 2018?
Will Sainz Jr. be driving a Honda in 2018?

(GMM) Carlos Sainz Jr. will not comment on rising speculation about a change of engine supplier for Toro Rosso.

Rumors suggest that after the Sauber-Honda split and continuing talk of a McLaren-Honda divorce, it could be the second Red Bull team that gets Japanese power for 2018.

"It is a rumor and so I will not comment," Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz told Marca.

"If it happens I will give my opinion without any problem."

Recently, there has been tension between the 22-year-old Spaniard and the Red Bull camp, after Sainz hinted that he might leave Toro Rosso at the end of the year.

"It was a strange moment," Sainz said, "and an episode of my career that I'm sure I will learn from.

"I still think a fourth year at Toro Rosso is not normal, but if it is the case, I do it with a smile on my face and regard it as a reward not punishment."

Ferrari 'simply better' on slow circuits – Wolff

Wolff says shorter wheelbase Ferrari faster on tight circuits like Hungary
Wolff says shorter wheelbase Ferrari faster on tight circuits like Hungary

(GMM) Toto Wolff thinks Mercedes' victory chance in Hungary is "one per cent".

That is despite the fact the reigning champions have appeared generally stronger than Ferrari in recent races.

Some believe the recent Mercedes boost has been at least in part due to a Ferrari slump, connected to Rumors the Italian team has had to change several aspects of its cars over legality concerns.

First, the FIA put a stop to the oil-in-fuel trick, then an aerodynamic tweak involving the wheels was banned, and finally Ferrari was asked to stop its floor from flexing.

However, Sebastian Vettel then led a Ferrari one-two in Hungary qualifying.

"There was a lot of talk after Silverstone and it's good we've given the answer on the track," said the German.

But Mercedes chief Wolff thinks Mercedes will be back with a bang after the summer break.

"I think it's circuit specific," he said, likening Hungary to Monaco, where Ferrari also dominated.

"I think it will be similar in Singapore as well," Wolff added. "The DNA of our car is very good on the fast tracks, but Ferrari is simply better with its shorter wheelbase on tracks like this one."

F1 defends editing negative Halo comments
(GMM) F1 says cutting negative opinions about the 'Halo' safety concept from press conference footage was an "editorial decision".

In Thursday's FIA press conference in Hungary, drivers including Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen criticized the controversial forward protection system that is compulsory for 2018.

But only drivers with positive opinions were included in the official FOM video edit of the press conference.

Asked why that is the case, a spokesperson for Formula One Management told Bild newspaper it was an "editorial decision".

Mercedes not dumping F1 for Formula E – Lauda

Wolff and Lauda hate silent racing, i.e Formula E
Wolff and Lauda hate silent racing, i.e Formula E

(GMM) Niki Lauda says there is no risk Mercedes will dump F1 in favor of the increasingly-popular all-electric series Formula E.

Mercedes and Porsche made waves earlier this week by pulling out of DTM and Le Mans respectively in order to enter Formula E.

But Lauda, the Mercedes F1 team chairman, says there is no risk the decision is a precursor to Mercedes dumping its F1 program.

"Formula one is our racing sport so an exit is not an issue at all," he told the German broadcaster RTL.

Rather, Lauda said entering Formula E is simply about the future. "We had to ask 'Where is the future going?'

"At the same time we have to try to make Formula E more attractive, because at the moment you even have to change the batteries."

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff agrees: "Formula E is still at the beginning of its development, but electrification is in full swing.

"I would not be surprised if in three, four, five years Formula E is completely different and we are talking about every single race."

Red Bull eyes independent engine supplier for future

Marko and Mateschitz
Marko and Mateschitz

(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko has played down early links between Red Bull and Volkswagen brands interested in entering F1 in the future.

That is despite the fact Marko said Red Bull is now basically ready to take on Mercedes and Ferrari for the title, with the only missing link being a top engine.

"From a technical point of view, the chassis is at a very high level compared to Ferrari and Mercedes," he told Welt newspaper in Hungary.

"Our engine partner Renault is making continuous progress, which means that Red Bull will win one or two races on its own strength this year," he added.

It is an awkward situation for Red Bull, with Max Verstappen being courted behind the scenes by Ferrari but the Dutchman locked into a contract for 2018 and 2019.

"The bottom line is that Max ranks among the best drivers in the world," said Marko.

"How he will react under the pressure of the world championship is harder to judge. What we have seen from his five technical failures this year is that he absolutely wants to win everything and has not enough discipline for the negative events.

"But he will learn that," he insisted.

For now, it might make sense for Red Bull to kick off talks with a VW brand like Porsche, which is reportedly interested in joining F1 for the post-2020 engine rules.

But Marko said: "For us it is currently more important that independent engine manufacturers such as Aston Martin, Cosworth or Illien are present in the negotiations.

"What we see with Honda is that even with the highest financial and personnel expenditure, it is not possible to have success with these very complex engine regulations."

Bottas: Ferrari 'just too quick' for Mercedes

Bottas says Ferraro to quick at tight Hungary track
Bottas says Ferraro to quick at tight Hungary track

Valtteri Bottas conceded that Ferrari was "just too quick" for Mercedes after Sebastian Vettel led a 1-2 during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Vettel recorded two laps quick enough for pole position at the Hungaroring, while team-mate Kimi Raikkonen completed a front-row lock-out for the Italian marque.

It meant that Ferrari turned the tables for the first time since May's Monaco Grand Prix, ending Mercedes' four-race run of poles.

Bottas emerged as Ferrari's primary opponent but was left in third position, and says Mercedes has work to do on high-downforce circuits in order to provide a challenge.

"Definitely I think today, all day, Ferrari has been just too quick for us," he said, after finishing 0.254s down on Vettel's pole time.

"We saw in [final] practice what they were doing, after that we expected a tricky qualifying.

"Yesterday was looking a bit better for us, today was a surprise, but it just shows that we have work to do on tracks like this that requires maximum downforce on the car.

"We're struggling a bit more for one reason or another, so we need to keep working."

Bottas added: "Clearly we can see we're not performing as we should, and how we want.

"There's work to do with the car, [but] it's going to be a long [race] and still anything is possible."

Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton will line up from fourth place on the grid.

Vettel hails 'phenomenal' car after pole

Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel hailed his Ferrari SF70-H as "phenomenal" as he led a 1-2 for the team during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Vettel, having set a blistering pace during the final practice session, set provisional pole position early in Q3, and his time was not bettered by his rivals.

Vettel's lap ensured Ferrari led the way across one-lap for the first time since Monaco, ending Mercedes' streak of four pole positions.

"It was seamless in terms of that we didn't have any problems, I felt quite good in the car from Q1 onwards and we did the laps we had to do [to] come through," said Vettel.

"In Q3 I was fairly confident, very happy with the first run, I knew there was still a little bit [of time], so I went flat out for the second [run].

"I was a little bit faster, then I arrived in last sector and asked a bit too much of tires beforehand and lost it in three corners and did the same lap [time].

"I looked up and didn't know who was behind me, when I saw it was two reds in the first two positions at the same time the radio opened and there was a big scream!

"It was really nice, it's only Saturday and there's nothing to get today, other than the best position, but we did that."

Vettel also suggested Ferrari's pace was a riposte to those who criticized its performance since its most recent victory in Monaco.

"It's great and especially after… there was a lot of talk after the last race," he commented.

"It was a bit much, so it's good to give the answer on the track.

"I'm just happy, I really like the track, the car was fantastic today, it was really a pleasure to just go around."

Raikkonen finished 0.168s down on Vettel.

Verstappen hails overnight set-up changes

Max Verstappen ponders who he might spear on Sunday
Max Verstappen ponders who he might spear on Sunday

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen expressed relief after qualifying fifth for the Hungarian Grand Prix, having "really struggled" over the early stages of the weekend.

Verstappen was unhappy with his car's balance through Friday practice, finishing half a second down on pace-setting team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, albeit hindered by yellow and red flags.

But major set-up changes overnight, and further tweaks for qualifying, led to him placing second and third in Q1 and Q2, before slotting behind the Ferraris and Mercedes in Q3.

"I was struggling a lot yesterday, I didn't feel happy in the car," Verstappen told Sky Sports.

"For the first time the whole season I was really struggling with it, but we managed to turn it around quite for qualifying, so I'm very pleased for that.

"We already swapped a lot between first practice and second, and even there it wasn't working.

"It was a lot of thinking last night, and even this morning wasn't perfect, but then for qualifying we made some little changes again and it seemed to put it a bit more in the comfort zone where I liked it.

"It just gave me those few tenths to move up."

Verstappen reckons Red Bull has made a "good step" with its latest updates, but conceded that there is still plenty of work to do to catch Mercedes and Ferrari.

"The whole year we have never really been in a position to fight them, so I never really expected to fight them here, especially coming from Silverstone, where it was really difficult," he said.

"I think we made a good step forward, there's still a long way to go, car-wise and engine-wise, but we are heading in the right direction."

Ricciardo, meanwhile, lamented a difficult second day at the Hungaroring, after suffering a hydraulics-related stoppage in FP3, and having to make do with sixth in qualifying.

"I think we lost out a bit this morning and it was just hard to come back from that," he said.

"We started off this afternoon in Q1 with quite a different car to what we had yesterday, and it didn't really work. It would have been nice to have the pace I had yesterday.

"It looked like we could be front row, or at least the top two rows, and we're at the back of that lead bunch, so that's frustrating, but we can move forward tomorrow."

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