Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Alonso to get another grid penalty
    Alonso to get another grid penalty

    Alonso to get British Grand Prix grid penalty

  • Ericsson: Vasseur's first priority is Honda
  • Haas sets sights on sixth in championship
  • Toro Rosso summoned to stewards over unsafe car
  • Hamilton's rivals question London absence
  • Honda denies considering F1 exit
  • Sauber-Honda engine deal in doubt – Ericsson
  • Alonso has 'nothing to say' about future
  • Perez not committing to Force India for 2018
  • Vettel plays down Silverstone engine boost
  • Ecclestone admits Singapore GP in doubt
  • Ferrari will decide future – Raikkonen
  • Hulkenberg happy with Kubica or Alonso for 2018
  • Rosberg rules out Ferrari comeback
  • Ocon admits blocking Perez fans on Twitter
  • Massa wants to stay at Williams
  • Vettel calls for jump start rules rethink
  • Vettel keeps open mind about 'Shield'
  • Vandoorne 'not worried' about McLaren exit

Alonso to get British Grand Prix grid penalty

Alonso has had a year to forget
Alonso has had a year to forget

Fernando Alonso is set for a host of engine-related grid penalties at the British Grand Prix, with Honda confirming that he has a five-place drop as it stands.

McLaren-Honda's 2017 season has been characterized by a lack of reliability and performance, though Honda enjoyed minor gains with a Spec 3 power unit, introduced in Austria.

However, an MGU-H issue with Alonso's Spec 3 PU post-Friday at the Red Bull Ring meant Alonso reverted to his Spec 2 engine for the remainder of the weekend.

Alonso will run the Spec 3 power unit during practice on Friday at Silverstone, running a replaced MGU-H, though a new Energy Store, his fifth of the year, means he has a five-place demotion.

A Honda spokesperson confirmed that the strategy for the remainder of the weekend will be finalized after Friday's running, but added that further penalties for Alonso are expected.

Alonso's team-mate, Stoffel Vandoorne, will run the same Spec 3 power unit as in Austria.

Ericsson: Vasseur's first priority is Honda

Frederic Vasseur
Frederic Vasseur

Marcus Ericsson says new Sauber team boss Frederic Vasseur's first priority will be confirming the outfit's engine situation for 2018, following recent speculation.

Media reports surfaced earlier this week that Sauber's supply deal with Honda had been called off, following Monisha Kaltenborn's departure from the Swiss team.

Vasseur was announced as Kaltenborn's replacement on Wednesday, following brief stints as Racing Director, and then Team Principal, of the renewed Renault works team.

Ericsson, speaking ahead of the British Grand Prix, stressed the importance of Vasseur promptly clarifying the situation, with the halfway mark of the season approaching.

"I'm not really sure to be honest," said Ericsson, when asked about the reports.

"There have been a lot of things happening in the last few days, obviously nothing I'm involved with, but from what I understand there are some things happening.

"Fred's priority to start off with is to sort that out."

Pushed on Honda's position, he said: "I think if Honda is 100 per cent committed, I think Honda would be great for Sauber, [but] if they're not then obviously that's not so great for Sauber.

"I think that's the question, and I don't know how they feel about it."

Moving forward, Ericsson expects Vasseur to have a positive impact on Sauber.

"I think it's a really good signing for Sauber," he said.

"Fred has shown, maybe not in Formula 1, but in everything else he's done, he's been very, very successful. In the paddock, when you speak to people, he's highly respected.

"He will put his touch on the team, he will overall look at different departments and he will make sure that things are done the way he wants, so it's pretty good.

"I tested a few times for his team, ART, and I met him a few times, but I don't know him that well. I'll go to Hinwil straight after the race this weekend and sit down with him."

Haas sets sights on sixth in championship

The American team is getting stronger
The American team is getting stronger

Haas team boss Guenther Steiner has set his sights on securing sixth in the 2017 standings, which would mark an improvement of two places over its debut season.

Haas entered Formula 1 in 2016 and racked up 29 points, all courtesy of Romain Grosjean, en route to eighth overall, ahead of Renault, Sauber and the now defunct Manor.

Formula 1's midfield has been hotly-contested so far this season, with a group of four teams covered by just 22 points, behind the high-flying Force India.

Haas holds seventh, having already equaled its '16 haul, four points down on Toro Rosso, and a further seven adrift of Williams, and Steiner is relishing the squabble for positions.

Formula 1's midfield battle:

P5 / Williams / 40 points
P6 / Toro Rosso / 33 points
P7 / Haas / 29 points
P8 / Renault / 18 points

"I think P5 for us is a little bit ambitious; if we would end up with P6 I would be happy," said Steiner, when asked by GPUpdate.net for an end-of-season target.

"It will be tough, and it comes on always how many good races you can have, how many times you are the best of the rest, because it's getting tight in there.

"Anything can happen. I wouldn't rule out Renault coming back, because they are not far off as well, and they've got Nico [Hülkenberg] driving there – he doesn't sleep.

"It's tough, but I think that's what makes it interesting.

"We have our highs and our lows. I think we missed an opportunity with Kevin last week [in Austria] to score points, so that doesn't help us, but things happen, and they can happen to the other ones as well.

"Therefore, it is what it is. It's so competitive – I like it."

Steiner also talked up the importance of both Haas drivers scoring in 2017, with new arrival Kevin Magnussen contributing 11 points, to incumbent Grosjean's 18.

"It's cool that we've got two cars out there in the race," he said.

"From last year, when we had two cars in points-scoring positions, I wouldn't say we struggled, but it was intense. Now the team is ready for it, we're in control.

"When you see last week, Kevin retired, but we still had somebody there which would get it [the result]. And the race before [in Azerbaijan], it was the opposite."

Toro Rosso summoned to stewards over unsafe car

Sainz Jr.
Sainz Jr.

(GMM) Toro Rosso found itself in trouble with the FIA ahead of the British grand prix.

After Thursday scrutineering, Silverstone stewards took the unusual step of actually publishing a photo of the damaged and partially repaired 'tethers' designed to keep Carlos Sainz's wheels from detaching in a crash.

The FIA said Toro Rosso "refused to follow the instructions of the scrutineers", having "presented the car in an unsafe condition".

Reports suggested the Faenza based team was at risk of being excluded from the event at Silverstone, but the Times newspaper claimed Toro Rosso was "confident" that would not be the case.

Indeed, an FIA source told Auto Motor und Sport that the tether manufacturer backed Toro Rosso's explanation about the condition of the scrutineered tether.

Hamilton's rivals question London absence
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton's rivals say they do not understand his decision to skip the London demonstration this week.

As he arrived at Silverstone for the British grand prix, the local hero defended his decision to be the only F1 driver to skip the promotional event.

Recalling a similar event in his native Holland, however, Max Verstappen said: "If I had tried to do that (stay away), I think they would have shot me!"

McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne told La Derniere Heure: "I don't understand why Lewis was not there.

"He is a triple world champion, he's British, but I cannot imagine if such an event was organized in Belgium on the eve of our grand prix that I would not go."

And Williams' Felipe Massa said: "I think Lewis is the first to lose by not being there."

Honda denies considering F1 exit
(GMM) Honda has denied claims the Japanese manufacturer is considering pulling out of formula one.

Rumors of a McLaren-Honda divorce were already rife, but now there are claims Honda is considering pulling out of its 2018 customer deal with Sauber.

"This is the first matter I will work on," new Sauber boss Frederic Vasseur told L'Equipe.

"Given what I've heard from McLaren, it's frightening."

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said Honda executives will meet in October to discuss the future of its troubled F1 collaboration.

But a Honda spokesperson told the Spanish daily Marca: "We are not considering any option other than continuing in F1 with McLaren next year.

"It is not true that we are evaluating the possibility of stopping. We are going to fulfil the contract that we have."

As for the Sauber rumors, however, Honda said: "We have no comment on this."

Former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone told Brazil's Globo: "I think it (McLaren-Honda) is like a marriage that has entered a very difficult phase.

"Whether they will separate or not, who knows?"

Sauber-Honda engine deal in doubt – Ericsson

Ericsson
Ericsson

(GMM) Marcus Ericsson has admitted the identity of Sauber's engine supplier for 2018 is in doubt.

Earlier, the Swiss team inked a contract to become Honda's first F1 customer, but rumors suggest the deal could now be scrapped.

"To be honest, a lot has happened over the past few days," Swedish driver Ericsson said.

"Frederic (Vasseur)'s first priority is to look into the matter."

Asked if he would be happy with a Honda engine next year, Ericsson answered: "If Honda is 100 per cent focused on success, then it's good for Sauber. Otherwise not.

"I understand the question, but I don't really know what to think of it," he added.

Meanwhile, amid speculation Ericsson is too closely linked to Sauber's new owners, incoming boss Vasseur told L'Equipe: "The future of a team should not depend on a single driver.

"I will have the last word on the driver question in the future," he said.

Alonso has 'nothing to say' about future
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has "nothing to say" about his future.

In the few days between Austria and Silverstone, Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne has played down reports Alonso might return, while McLaren's Eric Boullier said the British team needs a fully committed driver for 2018.

And Flavio Briatore, involved in Alonso's management, was quoted as saying McLaren needs a "revolution" in order to convince the Spaniard to stay.

"Marchionne? Nothing to say. Flavio? Nothing to say — and I read something else today too. Nothing to say," Alonso told Spanish media at Silverstone.

Perez not committing to Force India for 2018

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez

(GMM) Sergio Perez is not ready to commit to Force India for 2018.

Last year, the Mexican turned down an offer from Renault but now he admits the driver market looks more interesting ahead of next season.

"It's too early to talk about it," he told the Spanish daily Marca at Silverstone.

"But for now I have no contract with anyone next year."

When asked about the Renault offer, Perez answered: "Today we know that in formula one you can only win with Mercedes or Ferrari.

"Ferrari is perhaps the best team, but obviously we have to see what the possibilities are. Probably in August or September I will have a clearer picture."

Recently, Alonso said the 2018 market is actually more wide open than it appears on paper, and Perez does not disagree.

"There are many options this year," he admitted. "Probably more than in previous years.

"It will be an interesting market because there are many possibilities."

Vettel plays down Silverstone engine boost
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has played down reports Ferrari will have a new engine specification this weekend at Silverstone.

Germany's Bild newspaper claims the championship leader's campaign will get a 15 horse power boost, but Vettel insisted: "I don't know if it will make a big difference.

"It was a planned change but it shouldn't change the hierarchy," he is also quoted by Italy's Mediaset.

And Vettel's teammate Kimi Raikkonen added: "We should be strong here, but it's not a matter of the engine — it's the overall package that makes the difference."

Ecclestone admits Singapore GP in doubt

Singapore is spectacular but loses tens of millions of dollars each year
Singapore is spectacular but loses tens of millions of dollars each year

(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has admitted next year's Singapore grand prix might not go ahead.

The night race on the streets of the city-state is one of the most popular events on the calendar, but a provisional 'asterisk' has been put alongside its date for 2018.

Ousted former F1 supremo Ecclestone told Brazil's Globo: "Malaysia decided that F1 was not a good investment anymore.

"They are happy with MotoGP because they say there are many fans, they sell thousands of tickets and they make money. But in F1 the opposite was happening and they lose money. So they're leaving F1.

"Singapore is more or less the same case," Ecclestone explained.

"It cost them a fortune to do everything we asked, to look after the track, the lights for a night race, and they took everything very seriously for ten years.

"But now it's time to make some money, but it will not be with F1," he added.

Ferrari will decide future – Raikkonen

Kimi looks like a deer in headlights as he ponders his last year in F1
Kimi looks like a deer in headlights as he ponders his last year in F1

(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen says Ferrari will decide his future in F1.

A year ago, the Maranello team extended the Finn's contract for another season, but now president Sergio Marchionne has admitted Ferrari is considering a change.

Raikkonen said: "The situation is the same as it was a year ago. You must ask Ferrari if you want to know more."

He also told the Finnish broadcaster C More: "Every year for the past ten years has been pretty much the same story.

"Of course, people make it a big issue but I'm not stressing about it. Life is more than just here and answering questions."

Raikkonen, 37, admitted that 2017 has not been a perfect season for him so far.

"I'm not happy about how some races have gone, but I cannot change it.

"I don't even know how many points I have, but in any case it's less than it should be. I know I have the speed, but sometimes it's not enough," he added.

Hulkenberg happy with Kubica or Alonso for 2018

Nico Hulkenberg
Nico Hulkenberg

(GMM) Nico Hulkenberg has admitted that Robert Kubica could be his teammate in 2018.

Pole Kubica's hopes of a popular F1 comeback are racing ahead, following his tests at Valencia and Paul Ricard, and a run in the 2017 car in the simulator.

Next, it is rumored the former team driver will get a run in the 2017 Renault in Budapest later this month, and perhaps a Friday practice outing.

Asked if he would welcome Kubica as his 2018 teammate, Hulkenberg said: "Of course I would be happy with him, but it's the same with anyone else as well.

"It's Renault's decision, not mine, and the team needs to choose the best drivers it can," he added.

Another potential 2018 teammate for Hulkenberg is Fernando Alonso.

Hulkenberg said: "I don't care if Kubica or Alonso come. As I said, I have no preference."

When asked if a return for Kubica really is a possibility, Hulkenberg continued: "We all saw the severity of his injuries, but I cannot say what the current situation is.

"What is certain is that he was always a fighter, so that is absolutely in his favor," said the German.

Rosberg rules out Ferrari comeback
(GMM) Nico Rosberg has ruled out returning to F1 next year with Ferrari.

With the Maranello team openly considering replacing Kimi Raikkonen for 2018, reigning world champion Rosberg's name has been mentioned as a candidate.

But the retired former Mercedes driver said: "No, it will not happen.

"It's an honor that so much is speculated about me, but I am fully satisfied with my career," German Rosberg told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. "I have no regrets."

Ocon admits blocking Perez fans on Twitter

Esteban Ocon
Esteban Ocon

(GMM) Esteban Ocon says he had to block some of Sergio Perez's fans on Twitter.

Recently, the Force India teammates have been at loggerheads over team orders in Montreal and a clash of wheels in Baku.

As a result, Frenchman Ocon says he was abused on social media by some Mexican fans.

"I blocked them because they insulted my parents, and that is not healthy.

"It's just a sport — we fight hard, but we're not murderers. So people need to calm down," the 20-year-old said at Silverstone.

Later this year, Ocon will travel to Perez's native country for the Mexican grand prix, but he says he isn't worried.

"I think everything will be fine," he insisted.

"I never said anything bad about Mexico. I like the country, I had a great time there in the past and I have a good relationship with Sergio."

Massa wants to stay at Williams

Massa still feels competitive
Massa still feels competitive

(GMM) Felipe Massa says he is happy to stay at Williams in 2018.

This year, the British team pulled the Brazilian out of his brief retirement to replace Mercedes-bound Valtteri Bottas.

Team boss Claire Williams said recently she can imagine Massa, 36, staying next year.

"At the moment, I see no reason why I should not be in formula one next year," Massa said at Silverstone.

"I like the new cars and I'm doing a good job. If Williams wants me, I'll be here. But of course you can never be sure before the contract is signed," he added.

However, Massa said that if he has to accept a move into a less competitive team, he will return once again to retirement.

"If I do not get the right car, I'll stop," he confirmed.

Vettel calls for jump start rules rethink

Vettel knows Bottas jumped the start
Vettel knows Bottas jumped the start

(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has called for a rules rethink regarding jump starts in F1.

A week ago in Austria, the Ferrari driver disputed the FIA's insistence that Valtteri Bottas did not jump the start.

The current rules permit some movement of the car after the fifth light goes on, allowing for the engagement of the clutch.

But Vettel says this means a driver can anticipate the start of the race, rather than react purely to the lights going out.

Finn Bottas admits: "If you're moving exactly at the same point the lights go off you definitely are on the risky side rather than the safe side.

"Everyone is obviously free to kind of guess when the lights go off," he added.

But Vettel said that's wrong.

"He got away with it because that's the way the rules are," said the Ferrari driver. "So we should look at the rules more closely.

"I don't think any of us would risk trying to repeat what he did. If he tried it again he would not succeed, because it's impossible to predict the time of the start.

"His car started to move just before the lights went out," Vettel continued. "But even if you start at the same time, the human response is still greater than zero tenths of a second."

Vettel keeps open mind about 'Shield'

Vettel with Shield on Ferrari
Vettel with Shield on Ferrari

(GMM) Sebastian Vettel was keeping an open mind before giving the 'Shield' cockpit protection design its track debut at Silverstone.

The German's Ferrari has been fitted with the open-topped, polycarbonate windshield for the opening laps of Friday practice ahead of the British grand prix.

F1's governing body says either the Shield or the controversial Halo concept will be mandatory in 2018.

"I don't know how many laps I'll have it for, but let's see what sensations I will have," the championship leader said.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner urged F1 not to rush to introduce it.

"We have to ensure we do not violate our duty of care by not doing our homework thoroughly," he said.

"There are still quite a few points to clarify as I'm not sure it has been tested as extensively as the Halo or the Aeroscreen.

"I would prefer we went for an introduction in 2019," the Briton added.

Vandoorne 'not worried' about McLaren exit

Stoffel Vandoorne not worried
Stoffel Vandoorne not worried

(GMM) Stoffel Vandoorne says he is not worried he might lose his McLaren seat at the end of the season.

Although strong throughout his junior career, the Belgian rookie has regularly struggled to shine alongside teammate Fernando Alonso in 2017.

"I think everyone knows our weaknesses this year," the 25-year-old said at Silverstone.

"Because of the engine, we lose a lot of time on each lap, but the chassis itself is quite good. I'm not saying it's the best, but it's definitely very good."

Nonetheless, speculation Vandoorne might lose his seat for 2018 has been rife, even though McLaren executive Zak Brown said this week he expects him to stay.

Vandoorne said at Silverstone: "I am not worried, because I signed a multi-year contract with the team.

"I like everything here, we are moving in the right direction, and I'm sparing no effort in working together with McLaren. It's my main goal and I'm completely focused on it," he added.

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