Latest F1 news in brief – Sunday

  • Lucas Auer - his check does not have enough zeros yet to buy his test day
    Lucas Auer – his check does not have enough zeros yet to buy his test day

    Force India 'not ready' to announce Auer test

  • FIA halts Austria GP track extension – Marko
  • Hamilton-Vettel 'aggression' to increase – Lauda
  • Liberty should buy Silverstone – Brown
  • Bottas will not back up Vettel for Hamilton
  • Magnussen 'gutted' after suspension break
  • Alonso: McLaren 'definitely moving forward
  • Vettel: Ferrari needs to focus on own race
  • Bottas praises Mercedes handling after pole

Force India 'not ready' to announce Auer test
(GMM) Force India is still not confirming reports that DTM frontrunner Lucas Auer will get his first F1 test in August.

Austrian Auer, who is F1 legend Gerhard Berger's nephew, is personally sponsored by BWT, the company who convinced Force India to paint its cars pink for 2017.

The 22-year-old is also partly supported by Force India's engine supplier Mercedes, whose boss Toto Wolff said: "If he's in a car in Hungary, or a Force India, it's not up to us to communicate that."

Wolff's reference to Hungary is the post-grand prix 'young drivers test', set to take place after the Budapest race early in August.

Force India is still not confirming the news about Auer, however.

"When we are ready to announce something, I am sure you will be happy," said Force India sporting boss Otmar Szafnauer.

"We are impressed with Lucas — he is doing a great job in DTM," he told APA news agency.

Szafnauer denied that a test for Auer would simply be due to his connections with BWT, the team's main sponsor.

"It must be a combination," he said. "If he is a good driver, and it is someone who we want to see how he goes in a formula one car, we give them the opportunity.

"If it is Lucas, you can be sure that it is not just a commercial deal," he added.

FIA halts Austria GP track extension – Marko

Red Bull Ring
Red Bull Ring

(GMM) F1's governing body appears to have put the brakes on plans to expand the current layout of the Austrian grand prix.

A year ago, track owner Red Bull started looking into reviving a fabled high speed section of the former Osterreichring called the Westschleife (west loop).

"It would separate the men from the boys a lot more than it does nowadays," former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said at the time.

But Dr Helmut Marko told the Austrian broadcaster ORF this weekend that the plans to expand the current Red Bull Ring have hit a hurdle in the form of F1's governing body.

"The FIA is currently not willing to allow such fast circuits with correspondingly short distances to the guardrails," said the Red Bull official.

However, Marko added: "Never say never."

But another well-known Austrian, F1 legend and Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda, backed the current Red Bull Ring layout.

"The track is interesting as it is now," he said.

"I do not think it would be a major improvement to revive the old circuit, because success speaks for the current course."

Hamilton-Vettel 'aggression' to increase – Lauda

Vettel (L) and Hamilton (R)
Vettel (L) and Hamilton (R)

(GMM) Niki Lauda has warned that tensions between F1's two championship protagonists look set to heat up rather than cool down.

After Baku, Lewis Hamilton made clear he thought Sebastian Vettel should have been punished more heavily for crashing into him deliberately.

But FIA president Jean Todt told reporters in Austria: "Sebastian has had some very strong warnings.

"It won't happen again, and if it would then the consequences would be very severe."

But that did not appear enough to calm the tension after qualifying, when Hamilton blatantly refused to shake his German rival's hand.

However, video evidence showed that the Mercedes and Ferrari drivers did in fact shake hands before being specifically asked to by interviewer Davide Valsecchi.

F1 legend and Mercedes team chairman Lauda, however, has warned that the tension could still continue to ramp up.

"The FIA's mild judgement in the Vettel case was an invitation for them to express their aggression and emotions on the circuit," he said.

"That is perfect for egocentric racing drivers wanting to claim their territory. As a driver I would do so, because you know the FIA will not intervene.

"This naturally leads to more action on the track, and that is what the spectators want to see," said Lauda.

Liberty should buy Silverstone – Brown

Wrong Zak - how is that any better for Liberty than just lowering their sanction fee a bit. And no the NFL does not own the venue that hosts the Super Bowl each year
Wrong Zak – how is that any better for Liberty than just lowering their sanction fee a bit? And no the NFL does not own the venue that hosts the Super Bowl each year

(GMM) Silverstone could come to regret axing its long-term British grand prix contract.

That is the warning of Red Bull boss Christian Horner, mere hours before the circuit-owning British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) is tipped to exercise a break clause in its current race deal.

Reports say the BRDC is breaking the Bernie Ecclestone-negotiated contract in the hope of renegotiating the escalating annual fee with F1's new owners Liberty Media.

"There has been an element of mismanagement or poor negotiating originally if they have a sell-out and still lose money," Horner told the Daily Mail.

And he warned that cancelling the contract could be the next big mistake made by the BRDC.

"I'm sure Liberty would love to see a London grand prix, so the BRDC need to be careful what they wish for.

"If they pull out and try to renegotiate, it's a high-risk strategy as there are other venues queuing up for a race," Horner added.

But according to McLaren executive Zak Brown, Liberty could be musing another strategy.

"I think they should buy it (Silverstone)," he told the Telegraph, "much like the NFL — they own the Super Bowl.

"The nice thing about Liberty is that you can share your views and they take them on board and you see them register," Brown, a renowned F1 marketing expert, added.

Bottas will not back up Vettel for Hamilton

Of course Bottas will try to backup Vettel, but he would never admit it to the media. He will do whatever Mercedes wants him to do to keep his job.
Of course Bottas will try to backup Vettel, but he would never admit it to the media. He will do whatever Mercedes wants him to do to keep his job.

Austrian Grand Prix pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas says he will not back up Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel during Sunday's race, in a bid to boost Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton's championship chances.

Bottas secured pole position at the Red Bull Ring as Hamilton, hit with a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change, took third, behind title leader Vettel.

Hamilton, who trails Vettel by 14 points, has dropped back to eighth position, six places behind Vettel, but both Mercedes drivers have ruled out playing games with the German.

"Well, what I've seen on the pre-race strategy notes, that kind of plan is not on those notes," said Bottas, when asked whether he would go slower up front in a bid to help Hamilton.

"We need to focus on having a good start of the race and we need to win the race.

"For sure, Lewis can fight back from where he's starting.

"You know, if you start playing games like that here it's quite tricky. If the car behind gets within the DRS zones and gets a good slipstream, it only needs one mistake and you can lose the win.

"We're not planning on that [backing up] at the moment."

Hamilton agreed that it would make "no sense" for Bottas to back up Vettel, and urged his team-mate to go flat out for what would be his second victory in Formula 1.

"It makes no sense for Valtteri to slow down, that will not be the case," said Hamilton.

"It makes sense for him to push as hard as he can to win the race."

Mercedes leads Ferrari by 24 points in the Constructors' battle.

Magnussen 'gutted' after suspension break

Magnussen gutted
Magnussen gutted

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was left feeling "gutted" after a suspension break scuppered his qualifying efforts at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Magnussen impressed throughout practice at the Red Bull Ring, finishing seventh in FP2 and FP3, behind only the Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull drivers.

However, during Q1, Magnussen's suspension broke when he ran over the sausage curb at the exit of Turn 3, sending him out of the session.

Magnussen had already made the Q2 cut, but was unable to continue, as team-mate Romain Grosjean went on to reach Q3 and qualify seventh.

"We were looking good, so it's really frustrating not getting the whole qualifying," said Magnussen, who ended up 15th overall.

"It's really unfortunate to break the rear suspension. It's just bad luck.

"I think we could've gone on to Q3 today and had a really good chance of points tomorrow. Now it looks more difficult.

"We had been performing well all weekend. We had good pace and were in the top 10.

"I'm gutted not to get anything out of it."

Grosjean stopped on track in the closing stages of Q3, though still took seventh, and will move up one position due to Lewis Hamilton's gearbox-related grid penalty.

"We've been quick all weekend, Kevin and I, we've both been pretty happy with the car," he said.

"Unfortunately, Kevin had the suspension issue in Q1, otherwise I think he would've been up there with us.

"In between Q1 and Q2 we found some performance. We had good grip in the car.

"I think we just lost an electric connection on the car. I'm hoping it's nothing more serious than that. It's a long race. It's going to be tough on the brakes, tough on the engine and tough physically.

"It's the second time this year though, after Melbourne, where I feel the tires are working well and I can really enjoy myself and push the car to the limit."

Alonso: McLaren 'definitely moving forward

Alonso says McLaren improving
Alonso says McLaren improving

Fernando Alonso says McLaren-Honda is "definitely moving forward" after coming close to a Q3 appearance during qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix.

Honda introduced its 'Spec 3' power unit at the Red Bull Ring, with both McLaren drivers making it into the top 10 in FP1, and Alonso finishing eighth in FP2.

Alonso was forced to revert to the 'Spec 2' engine after Friday practice, with an MGU-H issue detected, though still fought for the top 10 in qualifying, missing out on Q3 by less than a tenth in 12th.

"I feel we did the maximum today – I'm happy with our laps, our result and our performance in general this weekend," commented Alonso.

"We had an unexpected change of engine, and I reverted back to the old spec today, so finishing P12 and feeling competitive all through quali was positive news.

"The team is working very hard to improve our situation: we bring aero updates to every race, we bring new engine specs whenever we can, and we're definitely moving forwards.

"We still need to improve our reliability, but hopefully we'll see further signs in the next couple of weeks.

"From 12th place, with a good start or a good strategy, we could be in a position to score points.

"There's some possible rain forecast for tomorrow – if that turns out to be correct, it'll probably open up more opportunities for us, [so] we need to be ready to take them."

Vandoorne, still running the updated Honda power unit, finished just over a tenth down on Alonso in 13th, and believes the team is "heading in the right direction".

"I think it's been a pretty good weekend for us so far," he said.

"The practice sessions have gone well and qualifying was more or less what we expected.

"This afternoon's times were extremely close: it all came down to a couple of small details – with another couple of tenths, we'd have been into Q3.

"Today really shows that every improvement we bring to the car is very valuable – it all helps.

"We're definitely headed in the right direction – every new piece of performance we bring is welcome, but we need to keep pushing."

Vettel: Ferrari needs to focus on own race

Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel says he and Ferrari must "look after our own race" and not get distracted by title rival Lewis Hamilton dropping from third to eighth after qualifying.

Vettel heads into the Grand Prix 14 points clear of Hamilton, though will start six places higher on the grid, due to an unscheduled gearbox change for the Mercedes driver.

In another close qualifying battle between Mercedes and Ferrari, Vettel was pipped to pole position by Valtteri Bottas, with just 0.042s between the pair.

"Q3 was pretty good, I was very happy with the lap," said Vettel, who lapped half a second quicker than team-mate Kimi Räikkönen (fourth).

"In all fairness, what goes around comes around, as I have been on the lucky side a couple of times, especially against Valtteri, with tight gaps.

"So the story continues between us two – well done to him obviously.

"Valtteri said he still had a bit of margin, but I was pretty happy with my lap to be honest… maybe there was a sniff in the last corner, but it's a short track, it's not easy to get everything right.

"Overall I'm pretty happy, the car was good and I think we did a good step from yesterday to today, so hopefully we can carry that into the race."

Asked about capitalizing on Hamilton's grid position, Vettel commented: "We'll see, it's a long race, and a lot of things can happen.

"I think we have to look after our own race.

"It will be a tough race with Valtteri, he has been quick all weekend, also yesterday, setting a good pace, so we'll see – it should be a good race."

Hamilton refused to shake Vettel's hand during the post-session interviews, when asked by ex-racer Davide Valsecchi, but it was later clarified that they acknowledged each other earlier.

Vettel escaped any further sanction following the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, where he reacted to a suspected brake test under the Safety Car by driving into Hamilton's W08.

Bottas praises Mercedes handling after pole

Aldo Costa - his F1 cars stick to tracks like glue
Aldo Costa – his F1 cars stick to tracks like glue

Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas reveled in his second career pole position as he edged out Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel during qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix, hailing the handling of his Mercedes W08.

Bottas clocked a time of 1.04.251 to finish 0.042s clear of Vettel across the first runs, with drivers unable to complete a second effort due to yellow flags.

Bottas was thus assured of pole position, adding to his achievement in Bahrain, and felt his pace was getting "better and better" as the session progressed.

"We definitely got the car really nice and stable for qualifying," said Bottas.

"I was just able to build up the confidence, and this is a track where you need it in high speed corners.

"On [the] balance, we didn't really touch the car at all during qualifying, and the laps were getting better and better as a result.

"So as team we have done a great job over the weekend to get the car better and it felt good today."

Bottas added that he expected a "good fight" ahead with Vettel and reckons Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton can recover from his gearbox-penalty imposed grid spot of eighth.

"It should be an interesting [and] good fight tomorrow," he commented.

"The target is not less than winning of course; I'm sure Lewis still has a good race ahead, there's a lot of time to come back and get good points for us as a team, so I can't wait for tomorrow."

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