Latest F1 news in brief – Saturday

  • Red Bull shield tested in 2016
    Red Bull shield tested in 2016

    F1 to have Halo or Shield in 2018 – Whiting

  • Sainz Jr. hits back after Red Bull rebuke
  • Marko says 'No' to Verstappen rumors
  • No regrets after Force India exit – Hulkenberg
  • McLaren denies Honda power 'break' rumor
  • Wolff rules out Ocon for Mercedes in 2018
  • Mateschitz 'understands' Verstappen anger
  • Vandoorne plays down 2017 gap to Alonso
  • Alonso reverts to 'Spec 2' Honda engine
  • Formula 1 cars 'not designed' for big curbs
  • Sainz Jr. read the riot act

F1 to have Halo or Shield in 2018 – Whiting
(GMM) F1 cars will feature either Halo or 'Shield' cockpit protection in 2018.

Earlier, the controversial 'halo'-like system was shelved by F1 chiefs in deference to research into the more attractive transparent shield device, which is set to be tested by Ferrari next weekend at Silverstone.

Only after the 'Shield' tests will the FIA decide how to proceed.

As for what will happen if the solution is ruled out, F1 race director Charlie Whiting told Auto Motor und Sport: "Then the Halo will come in.

"There will be some sort of cockpit protection in 2018," he insisted.

At present, the frontrunner is Shield.

"It is structurally much easier to integrate into the chassis than the Halo," said Force India technical boss Andy Green.

"And its aerodynamic effects are significantly lower than in the case of the Halo."

Sainz Jr. hits back after Red Bull rebuke

Carlos Sainz Jr.
Carlos Sainz Jr.

(GMM) Carlos Sainz Jr. says he will talk to Helmut Marko, Christian Horner and Franz Tost, after being slammed by his Red Bull bosses in Austria.

Earlier, amid rumors he has been offered a Renault seat for 2018, the young Spaniard said it was indeed "unlikely" he will stay at Toro Rosso next year.

Horner, the Red Bull boss, called Sainz "disingenuous", while Red Bull driver manager Marko was even harsher in his reaction to his comments.

"He must be confused," Auto Motor und Sport quotes the gruff Austrian as saying.

"He knows his contract situation so if he putting pressure on us, it's the wrong way. He signed a contract with us in 2018. No ifs and buts.

"I have to wonder about his behavior," Marko added. "Normally you do not bite the hand that feeds you.

"I think he should concentrate more on his racing. In the last races, Kvyat was always in front.

"Maybe it is his father (Carlos Sainz snr) who is dreaming," he said.

Even Franz Tost, Sainz's normally fully supportive Toro Rosso chief, hit back at the 22-year-old, insisting: "Red Bull paid and financed his whole career.

"Why should Red Bull give him away to another opponent?"

When asked if he was surprised by the 'hype' that followed his original comments in Austria, Sainz replied: "I would not call it hype, that's too strong a word.

"But in my opinion, from what I said yesterday it's a bit exaggerated because I think I said nothing strange.

"I have serious sporting ambitions and I have always said my main goal is to become a driver for Red Bull Racing. I owe everything to this company," he explained.

As for whether Horner, Marko and Tost's reaction 'surprised' him, Sainz continued: "I can say that I was a little surprised, but such things can often happen in formula one.

"It's no problem, I can talk to them — about Red Bull, my devotion to the company, about what I want to achieve. What can I say? I think my words were misinterpreted.

"What I said is a fact, because no one has driven for Toro Rosso for more than three years. It's a youth team, where drivers gain experience, so in my opinion with what they say about me, it's a little strange.

"I just called a spade a spade while expressing loyalty to Red Bull," he insisted.

Marko says 'No' to Verstappen rumors

Dr Helmut Marko (L) is not going to allow Verstappen (R) to break his Red Bull contract
Dr Helmut Marko (L) is not going to allow Verstappen (R) to break his Red Bull contract

(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko has issued his latest clear "No" amid speculation Max Verstappen could be on the move for 2018.

Rumors the young Dutch driver is positioning to accept an offer from Ferrari despite his ongoing Red Bull contract have been consistently denied.

So amid the latest wave of speculation in Austria, 19-year-old Verstappen was asked by Auto Bild if he wants to drive for Ferrari.

"I want to sit in the fastest car," he replied.

As for Marko, the Red Bull driver manager has said repeatedly that Daniel Ricciardo is under contract for 2018, while Verstappen's deal even has an option for 2019.

And when asked if a Ferrari offer might be the contractual trigger for Verstappen's exit, Marko said clearly: "No."

No regrets after Force India exit – Hulkenberg

No regrets says Hulkenberg even though he is now in a slower car
No regrets says Hulkenberg even though he is now in a slower car

(GMM) Nico Hulkenberg says he has no regrets after switching from Force India to the Renault works team for 2018.

While Force India is an impressive fourth in the constructors' championship, Renault is a lowly ninth as the halfway point of the season approaches.

So when asked if he regrets accepting a pay rise to drop clearly down the F1 pecking order, Hulkenberg insisted: "I did everything right.

"It was clear that it would be a small step back this year and that we could not beat Force India," he told the Austrian newspaper Kurier.

"It was about the future, especially 2019 and 2020," the German added.

"I believe in the potential of this team and the fact that it represents a car with which I can compete for victories."

As for when that first win will come, 29-year-old Hulkenberg is not sure.

"That is speculation," he said.

"Officially, the team says it wants to compete for wins in 2019, but there are no guarantees in formula one.

"There is only hard work, decisions, budgets, the right people. With this recipe, however, the team has everything to go to the top."

McLaren denies Honda power 'break' rumor

McLaren sticking with Honda says Boullier
McLaren sticking with Honda says Boullier

(GMM) The future of the McLaren-Honda project appears to be in healthier shape this weekend in Austria.

Ahead of the FIA press conference on Friday, Mercedes' Toto Wolff was supposed to have been joined by Pirelli's Mario Isola and Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene.

But at the last minute, the Italians were replaced by McLaren's Eric Boullier and Honda chief Yusuke Hasegawa.

It fueled speculation it could be the scene of the announcement of the McLaren-Honda split, with Wolff also present to represent McLaren's next engine supplier.

But proceedings did not pan out that way.

Instead, the McLaren rhetoric suddenly took a turn, fueled perhaps by Boullier's confirmation that the 'step 3' Honda engine is indeed a clear step forwards.

"(We had) a little bit of a setback at the beginning of this season but I think we can see now we are back on the right path to get back to the front," said the Frenchman.

As for the rumor that McLaren could take 'a break' from Honda power next year and run for the interim with Mercedes engines, Boullier, Hasegawa and Wolff all denied it.

"I think we have a common answer — no," said Boullier.

Hasegawa agreed: "Of course it is not our option. We don't want to do that.

"We want to keep this collaboration and at this moment there is no other story."

And Mercedes' Wolff said: "If it's not their option, it's not my option either."

Wolff rules out Ocon for Mercedes in 2018

Esteban Ocon will have to wait
Esteban Ocon will have to wait

(GMM) Toto Wolff has ruled out signing up Esteban Ocon to replace Valtteri Bottas for 2018.

Currently, while happy with Bottas' performance at Mercedes this year after he replaced Nico Rosberg, Wolff says he is not ready to re-sign the Finn for 2018.

Fernando Alonso has been slated as one potential alternative for Mercedes, but another could be Frenchman Ocon, the impressive 20-year-old Force India driver who is also the lead member of Mercedes' driver development program.

But when asked if Ocon is a contender, Mercedes chief Wolff told the Finnish broadcaster C More: "No, he's too young.

"He's a good guy, and he has a future, but we cannot put him alongside Lewis Hamilton yet," he added.

Mateschitz 'understands' Verstappen anger

Dietrich Mateschitz (L) and Dr. Helmut Marko
Dietrich Mateschitz (L) and Dr. Helmut Marko

(GMM) Dietrich Mateschitz says he 'understands' the anger expressed recently by Max Verstappen.

Amid rumors the young Dutchman is trying to leave his Red Bull contract to join Ferrari, Verstappen was fined EUR 25,000 in Baku for storming out of the circuit without talking to the media.

Mateschitz, Red Bull's low-profile billionaire team owner, says he understands.

"Of course," he told De Telegraaf newspaper.

"Almost everything that can happen to him has happened to him this season," the Austrian billionaire said at the Red Bull Ring.

"Max is unique and a strong personality. He is courageous, charismatic and despite his young age very disciplined, purposeful and determined. His overtaking is incredible and yet he's always in control. That is pure class.

"Do you know what my ultimate dream is in formula one? That Max is the youngest world champion in history with Red Bull. We have two more years to achieve that goal," Mateschitz added.

After that, the controversial 'power unit' engine era will be ending, and Mateschitz says it is crucial for the sport that independent suppliers are able to join F1 in the future.

And if Red Bull is not happy with the post-2020 engine rules, Mateschitz says he could quit.

"Yes! But this is not just for Red Bull, but for the future of formula one," he said.

"You only get exciting races if there is competition. Just two drivers from one team fighting for victory is lethal to the sport, but only two teams competing is not much better," said Mateschitz.

Vandoorne plays down 2017 gap to Alonso

Stoffel Vandoorne
Stoffel Vandoorne

(GMM) Stoffel Vandoorne insists he is not getting down about his disappointing first season in F1.

The once-promising Belgian is not only struggling with the below-par McLaren-Honda package, but being consistently outshone by his teammate Fernando Alonso.

But he told Brazil's Globo: "I don't think you can compare us yet.

"The two cars are almost never on the track at the same time and under the same conditions. When one runs the other has problems.

"If you look at the results – the numbers – it's true that Alonso is ahead, but we'll see what it looks like when there are not so many interfering variables," Vandoorne, 25, added.

And so the 2015 GP2 champion said he, and also McLaren, still has faith in his ability.

"I have no doubts," said Vandoorne, "and once I have a fast car it will show.

"The timing of our project requires us to work together to overcome the difficulties, so this is the priority."

When asked specifically about McLaren's faith in him, Vandoorne answered: "They know my ability, what I demonstrated in the past, and that I am trying everything to help the team out of this difficult situation.

"I go to the factory a lot, I encourage the group, and they know I'm giving 100 per cent – my maximum – and that's all I can do."

Finally, McLaren boss Eric Boullier denied rumors the gap between Alonso and Vandoorne is because of inequality in the equipment supplied to the drivers.

"It is 100pc false," the Frenchman told the RTBF broadcaster.

"Many people forget that it takes time for young drivers who arrive in formula one.

"Even Verstappen had to acclimatize at Toro Rosso, and it was the same for Ricciardo and many others," said Boullier.

"What is more difficult for Stoffel is that he has one of the best drivers on the grid at his side. But when he really has the car he needs, as at the beginning of the weekend here in Austria, he is at most a tenth behind," he added.

Alonso reverts to 'Spec 2' Honda engine
McLaren driver Fernando Alonso has reverted to Honda's 'Spec 2' engine for the remainder of the Austrian Grand Prix weekend, after a problem was detected on Friday night.

Alonso and team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne were both given the 'Spec 3' power unit at the Red Bull Ring, following Alonso's test run during practice for the previous event in Azerbaijan.

However, Honda picked up an MGU-H issue in Alonso's car following FP2, with the decision made to change the power unit, and revert to the older Internal Combustion Engine (ICE).

"Last night we detected an issue with Fernando's MGU-H," read a note from Honda.

"We have changed his power unit; all newly fitted components have been used during previous Grands Prix so there will be no penalties.

"The ICE will be Spec 2 from day two in Azerbaijan."

Honda chief Yusuke Hasegawa was cautiously optimistic over the update on Friday, after both McLarens made the top 10 in FP1, and Alonso finished eighth in FP2.

"It's [too] early to say the performance, as it's Friday, but so far it looks nice," said Hasegawa.

"Of course the performance is not just coming from the power unit, as the chassis is always being updated [by McLaren], and it depends on circuit characteristics, [but] from the data point of view the engine also contributed to some of the lap time improvement.

"Definitely we are [going] in the right direction, and we are closing up some of the gap to the frontrunners, but it's [still] not [big] enough."

Formula 1 cars 'not designed' for big curbs

If Verstappen thinks the curbs are too big then stay off of them
If Verstappen thinks the curbs are too big then stay off of them

Max Verstappen has hit out at the sizeable curbs in place at the exit of several corners at the Red Bull Ring, stating that "cars are not designed for it".

For the 2017 event, long sausage curbs are in place at the exit of Turns 1 and 3, while rows of white and yellow mounds are in place at Turns 6, 8, 9 and 10.

Several drivers, including Verstappen, ran over them during Friday's practice sessions, with Haas' Romain Grosjean sustaining a puncture on impact.

A year ago, Verstappen suffered a suspension failure when he ran over the circuit's curbs, and he has expressed further doubts over their presence.

"The yellow curbs again," said Verstappen, when asked about what challenges he faced in FP1 and FP2, adding, "luckily there was not too much damage" when he went off.

"I think it's just not a curb for a Formula 1 car, the cars are not designed for it."

Verstappen ended the first day of practice fourth fastest, 0.349s off pace-setting Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, having been hindered by a brake issue early in FP2.

"At the beginning of second practice, one connector was not connected for the brakes, so we had to take the floor off again, but from there on it was not too bad," he said.

"At the end of the day I did more or less the program I wanted to do.

"I'm not fully happy about the balance we had, but we are not too far off."

Daniel Ricciardo, 0.041s down on team-mate Verstappen, was also delayed by a technical problem in FP2, related to his Turbo Charger, preventing him from completing a race simulation.

"I think Baku was a good one, and today relatively it seemed OK, so let's see how we go tomorrow," he commented, having won last time out in Azerbaijan.

"I didn't really get to do a long run, as we had couple of issues, but otherwise it was a smooth day."

Sainz Jr. read the riot act
Carlos Sainz Jr. says he will now stay "more internal" with Red Bull following the commotion caused by the comments he made over his Formula 1 future earlier this week.

Sainz Jr. stated ahead of this weekend's Austrian Grand Prix he is "unlikely" to race for Toro Rosso for what would be a fourth season in 2018, as he bids to move up the grid.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner struck back, making clear that Sainz Jr. will stay at Toro Rosso, with no room at Red Bull, and no desire to loan him out to another team.

Asked to reflect on the reaction, and whether it came as a surprise, Sainz Jr. said: "I wouldn't call it fuss, but everything has probably been thrown a bit out of proportion.

"What I said is nothing strange, I believe, as an ambitious driver and as a human… it is very clear my first goal in life is to become a Red Bull driver and to start fighting for podiums.

"Again, I owe them everything, I owe Toro Rosso and all the people there everything I know in Formula 1 at the moment, but I have ambitions and my ambition is to be a Red Bull driver one day.

He added: "I will learn from it and from now on it will stay a bit more internal."

Sainz Jr. also sought to clear up any confusion over his initial remarks.

"What I said is a fact, in 12 years of Toro Rosso no one has been in a fourth year, so to be in a fourth year I would be the first one in history," he went on to comment.

"Normally it's a junior team where you develop drivers and put someone up. Maybe the word 'unlikely' can be interpreted in different ways, but it would be a strange situation."

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