Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • As Pascal Wehrlein has proven, and  Lucas Auer now knows, taxi cab drivers do not make great F1 drivers
    As Pascal Wehrlein has proven, and Lucas Auer now knows, taxi cab drivers do not make great F1 drivers

    Auer plays down F1 chances

  • Villeneuve confirms Williams spat
  • Vettel denies Ferrari entering 'crisis'
  • Honda staying in F1 with McLaren – Yamamoto
  • Williams not ready for 2018 driver topic
  • Ferrari could keep Raikkonen – Schumacher
  • 'Halo' makes F1 too safe – Audetto
  • Verstappen 'patience' could end – manager
  • Kubica to drive at in-season Hungary test
  • FIA: Halo is 'best solution' for F1 in 2018
  • Matsushita to test for the Sauber F1 Team at the Hungaroring

Auer plays down F1 chances
(GMM) DTM frontrunner Lucas Auer has played down his chances of moving into F1 next year.

The Austrian, who is F1 legend Gerhard Berger's nephew, will make his F1 test debut in Budapest next month thanks in part to Force India sponsor BWT and his links to Mercedes.

"At the moment I do not think of formula one as my goal," Auer said, "because I am entirely focused on DTM.

"In DTM you need to spend three of four years to be ready for the title, so I will be happy to stay with Mercedes for next season even if at the moment I have no clarity about where I will be.

"Let's see if there are options and what they are," the 22-year-old added.

Auer said he will attend the Hungarian grand prix as a Force India guest to prepare for his post-race test.

Villeneuve confirms Williams spat

Villeneuve stuck his foot in his mouth once too many times
Villeneuve stuck his foot in his mouth once too many times

(GMM) Jacques Villeneuve has confirmed his spat with his former F1 team Williams.

We reported last week that the 1997 world champion, who now works as a pundit for Italian television Sky, was banned from Williams' motor home.

The ban follows Villeneuve, 46, having declared his Canadian countryman Lance Stroll the "worst rookie" in F1 history.

"I am not paid to help the young drivers but to express my opinion," Villeneuve now tells Italy's La Repubblica newspaper.

"But before Baku, they let me know I was no longer welcome. I replied that I never insisted that I was."

The feud then continued after Baku, when Williams posted on Twitter a photo of Villeneuve on the podium comparing it with 18-year-old Stroll's breakthrough.

Villeneuve asked for the photo to be removed, but Williams did not comply.

"Firstly it was a promotional photo for Lucky Strike," he said, "but what is the meaning of being unhappy with me and then celebrating with a tweet?"

Vettel denies Ferrari entering 'crisis'

Vettel coming the realization, like many others before him, that you cannot beat an Aldo Costa designed car
Vettel is coming the realization, like many others before him, that you cannot beat an Aldo Costa designed car (Mercedes)

(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has denied Ferrari might be on the brink of a new 'crisis'.

The German is still leading the world championship by a single point, but the momentum has clearly shifted in Mercedes' direction in the past few races.

Some in the Italian media suspect a new Ferrari 'crisis' is on the horizon.

"I don't think so," Vettel told La Repubblica.

"I do think Mercedes has recovered a lot of ground, but we are still fast — especially on Sundays.

"On Saturday we suffer too much, because when starting the races from behind it is not always possible to recover."

Vettel said he expected Ferrari to be slightly stronger at Silverstone recently, but he said there were positives about the performance of the red car.

"In the corners it behaves very well and is balanced. At Copse we were 10kph ahead of them.

"Maybe they are a little more efficient in aerodynamics, which this year counts for much, but in general we are there," he insisted.

F1 moves to Hungary this weekend for the last race before the August break, but Vettel is not sure it will be a 'decisive' weekend.

"I don't know about decisive, but I do think it will be very different (to Silverstone)," he said.

Honda staying in F1 with McLaren – Yamamoto

It appears Alonso will be driving a Honda powered car again in 2018
It appears Alonso will be driving a Honda powered car again in 2018

(GMM) Honda says it is staying in F1 with McLaren next year.

In 2017, speculation has been rife that the Anglo-Japanese works collaboration will end after three hapless years.

More recent rumors say the Sauber customer deal for 2018 may also be off, triggering suggestions Honda could be out of F1 completely.

But Honda F1 official Masashi Yamamoto told Sportiva: "I am always talking with president Takahiro Hachigo and the board members, and there is no intention to withdraw from formula one."

However, Yamamoto didn't deny that "talks" between McLaren and Honda are taking place.

"There is a contract between us and the premise of the talks with them is to continue," he said. "We exclude the possibility that McLaren will even temporarily use the power unit of another manufacturer.

"As for Sauber, we had very good negotiations with Monisha Kaltenborn and were moving in the right direction, but the new leadership changed course and now we are negotiating," added Yamamoto.

Williams not ready for 2018 driver topic
(GMM) Williams is not ready to show its hand regarding its driver lineup for 2018.

While it is reported that Haas is definitely keeping Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen next year, less clear is whether Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll are staying at Williams.

"We have decided to let the driver question rest for a while," deputy team boss Claire Williams is quoted by Speed Week.

"We currently have a tough fight on the track and do not want this kind of topic as a distraction," she added.

Ferrari could keep Raikkonen – Schumacher

Kimi Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen

(GMM) Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher can imagine Ferrari deciding to keep Kimi Raikkonen on board next year.

While the Italian team is not ready to commit to the Finn for 2018, there are reports Sebastian Vettel is making a new deal for the 37-year-old a condition of his own contract extension beyond this season.

Schumacher, 42, raced against Raikkonen in his own F1 career and told Finland's Ilta Sanomat: "In terms of talent I think Kimi is brilliant.

"He is already a world champion but is certainly able to achieve more," the German said while overseeing his kart team in Finland.

"When you take into account his age, he's doing a great job," Schumacher added. "I think Ferrari has been smart to keep him as a driver.

"This year he has a good car, but Sebastian Vettel has been stronger. I think it's ideal for Sebastian, but Kimi is still able to win races. We'll see what happens next season," he said.

Schumacher also said he is enjoying watching F1 as a spectator this year.

"It has to be said that F1 has become very interesting now that Ferrari and Mercedes are fighting each other," said the former Williams driver.

'Halo' makes F1 too safe – Audetto

Which is uglier, the Shield or the Halo?
Which is uglier, the Shield or the Halo?

(GMM) Former F1 team boss Daniele Audetto has hit out at the FIA's decision to impose the controversial 'Halo' in 2018.

Amid scorn and derision from many leading figures as well as millions of fans, F1's governing body has moved to justify the decision to introduce the frontal protection system.

"Safety in motor sport is a paramount concern for the FIA and while great strides have been made in many areas of motor sport, head protection in single seater competition has been an area of concern for many years," it said.

However, former Super Aguri and HRT chief Audetto says "risk" is simply part of a racing driver's job description.

"In my time, it was a great honor and at the same time a great risk to drive in formula one," he is quoted by Speed Week.

"I've lost some friends, but the reality is that a formula one driver must accept the risk," added the 74-year-old.

"So many circuits are now in the desert, where it is almost impossible to have an accident. It's like driving in a simulator, with drivers remote-controlled from the box.

"There is far too much technology and safety," Audetto insisted. "And with this exaggerated safety and zero risk, formula one has in my opinion lost some of its essence.

"It is also less attractive for the spectators," he continued. "It's not good to say, but people want to sometimes see accidents just as they want to see fights on the track."

Verstappen 'patience' could end – manager

Red Bull owns Verstappen
Red Bull owns Verstappen

(GMM) Max Verstappen's "patience" with Renault-powered Red Bull may eventually end.

That is the warning shot fired by Raymond Vermeulen, the Dutch driver's manager, amid speculation Verstappen has been offered a Ferrari seat for the future.

However, the 19-year-old is under firm contract to Red Bull for 2018 and 2019.

Vermeulen told the Dutch publication Formule 1: "Ever since Max made his debut, there was always interest.

"Other teams were ready to offer him a contract, but we want to win with Red Bull Racing," he said. "Red Bull considers Max their star and will not sell him."

But Red Bull mogul Dietrich Mateschitz has often said a driver cannot be forced to comply with a contract.

Vermeulen said: "We do not have any specific deadlines for Red Bull, but it is important that Max continues to achieve success.

"I'm still confident in the progress of the team, because Red Bull Racing has won four world championships together with Renault. But it must be understood that our patience is not unlimited," he added.

Kubica to drive at in-season Hungary test

Robert Kubica
Robert Kubica

Robert Kubica will get behind the wheel of Renault's 2017 car, the R.S.17, during next week's in-season Formula 1 test at the Hungaroring for a "new phase" in his assessment, the team has confirmed.

Kubica raced in Formula 1 between 2006 and 2010 but his career was cut short after he sustained severe arm injuries in a rally crash in early 2011.

Kubica returned to competitive action on the rally stage, taking the 2013 WRC-2 title, and a handful of top 10 WRC finishes, before participating in a few sportscar events last year.

Kubica climbed back into the cockpit of a Formula 1 car for the first time in six years during a private test in Renault's 2012-spec E20 at Valencia's Ricardo Tormo Circuit last month, completing 115 laps.

Kubica, following a demonstration run at Goodwood, was afforded a second test in the E20, at Paul Ricard, in order for Renault "to assess his capabilities to return to the highest level of competition."

Renault commented after the test that it saw "no obvious roadblocks" to his chances, while the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix victor felt he could return to his pre-accident levels of competitiveness.

The Pole will now link up with the rest of the Formula 1 paddock for next week's test at the Hungaroring, and will pilot the R.S.17 on Wednesday's second day of running.

"The first two days of testing allowed both Robert and ourselves to gather a great amount of information," said Renault Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul.

"The upcoming session with the R.S.17 at the Hungaroring will allow us all to obtain detailed and precise data in a current car and representative conditions.

"After this test, we will carefully analyze the collected information to determine in what conditions it would be possible for Robert to return to competition in the upcoming years."

Formula 2 racer Nicholas Latifi will test the R.S.17 on the first day of running next Tuesday, his first public run in Formula 1 machinery.

It will be the Canadian's second time in the R.S.17, after he carried out running in Barcelona in May as part of Pirelli's 2018 tire development program.

Latifi, who holds fourth in the F2 standings, having taken his maiden win at Silverstone, has also carried out private running in old-spec machinery with both Renault and Mercedes.

Confirmed line-up for in-season test:

Mercedes – George Russell
Red Bull – TBC
Ferrari – Charles Leclerc, TBC
Force India – Nikita Mazepin, Lucas Auer
Williams – TBC
McLaren – TBC
Toro Rosso – Sean Gelael, TBC
Haas – TBC
Renault – Nicholas Latifi, Robert Kubica
Sauber – Gustav Malja, Nobuharu Matsushita

FIA: Halo is 'best solution' for F1 in 2018

F1 Halo is a true eyesore, but it keeps flying wheels out of the cockpit
F1 Halo is a true eyesore, but it keeps flying wheels out of the cockpit

Formula 1's governing body, the FIA, has defended its decision to introduce the head protection device, dubbed the halo, in the sport next season, labelling it the "best solution" out of the available options.

Formula 1 has striven to increase frontal cockpit protection in recent years, with the halo, which wraps around the cockpit in the form of three struts, extensively trialed in 2016.

The planned implementation of the halo was delayed by a year while further analysis, both on the halo and other options, took place, and it was announced on Wednesday that the system would be mandatory in 2018.

On Saturday, the FIA released an in-depth statement explaining its choice, under the headline "why [the] halo is the best choice for 2018."

It emphasized that "the severity of the incidents made it clear to the FIA that developing a solution to mitigate against frontal impact in the area of the cockpit is a research priority for the FIA."

"There were also a number of near misses [or] accidents that highlighted the need for action."

The FIA outlined that the halo performed successfully in extensive trials, including the deflection of large objects, and that these tests had alleviated any concerns over reduced visibility or extrication difficulties.

"Centering on three significant major risk types, car-to-car contact, car-to-environment contact and external objects, tests revealed that in the case of car-to-car incidents the halo was able to withstand 15x the static load of the full mass of the car and was able to significantly reduce the potential for injuries," the FIA explained.

"In car-to-environment tests it was established that the halo was able to prevent helmet contact with a wall or a barrier in many cases, using a selection of previous incidents as a reference.

"Finally, in the case of external objects the halo was found to successfully deflect large objects away from the cockpit environment and also demonstrated an increased net level of protection against small debris.

"Furthermore, feedback from extensive track testing revealed that visibility was substantially unaffected, and there was no significant visual obstruction due to the central strut.

"Track testing also revealed no issues regarding egress from the cockpit and multiple extrication tests were conducted with the halo in place, with a revised procedure formulated to ensure safe extrication."

Sebastian Vettel trialed an alternative device, the canopy-like 'shield', during practice for the British Grand Prix, though the embryonic nature of the system meant it was not a viable option.

The FIA went on to explain that, with the halo currently the best solution, and having vowed to introduce increased head protection for 2018, its decision was straightforward.

"After static testing, the shield system was given a short track test at the 2017 British Grand Prix, with the device fitted to the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel," the FIA commented.

"Feedback from this test concerned a number of limitations around such a system.

"In light of this and cognizant of the successful deflection tests conducted with the halo system, the multiple successful track tests conducted with a wide variety of drivers and teams in the latter half of the 2016 season, and the need to implement regulations for the desired deadline of the start of the 2018 season, the halo system represents the best solution to the issue of frontal cockpit protection currently in existence.

"The latest design of the halo will now be further refined ahead of its introduction in 2018 in a joint effort between teams, drivers and FIA."

The FIA explained that Red Bull's 'aeroscreen', trialed in Russia last year, was "successful in some areas" but that "further testing raised concerns as to the effectiveness of the device."

Matsushita to test for the Sauber F1 Team at the Hungaroring

Nobuharu Matsushita
Nobuharu Matsushita

We are pleased to announce that Nobuharu Matsushita will be driving in the Sauber C36-Ferrari at the second in-season test at Hungaroring following the Hungarian Grand Prix from the 1st – 2nd of August 2017.

The 23-year-old Japanese started his racing career in karting at the age of four, and competed in various single-seater championships in Asia. Since 2015, Matsushita has been competing in the FIA Formula 2 Championship (former GP2 Series) with ART Grand Prix. Matsushita is currently running in P7 in the overall ranking of the season, with one victory in his pocket.

During the second in-season test at the Hungaroring, Gustav Malja will test the Sauber C36-Ferrari on day one, while Nobuharu Matsushita will take over the cockpit on day two.

Nobuharu Matsushita:
“When I was four years old, I was fascinated by Michael Schumacher, watching him racing in Formula 1. Since then my dream was to become a Formula 1 driver. I am very excited about my first Formula 1 test and I am really looking forward to driving the Sauber C36-Ferrari at the Hungaroring – it is a great opportunity for me. I hope it will be a productive day for the team as well as for myself, so that I can learn as much as possible. I would like to thank the Sauber F1 Team for making this happen."

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal:
“I am pleased that Nobuharu has this great opportunity. He deserves the experience of his first test in a Formula 1 car. Ever since his debut in Formula 2 with ART Grand Prix, I have been following his progress closely, and have watched him advance his performance from year to year. With this Formula 1 test, he comes one step closer to his dream of becoming an F1 driver one day."

Nobuharu Matsushita
Date/Place of birth 13th October 1993 / Tokyo (Japan)
Nationality Japanese
Website www.nobuharu.com

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