Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Wolff says he was surprised how many companies were interested in simpler engine rules. Duh no kidding Toto, it was your company that put forth the current 'silly' formula
    Wolff says he was surprised how many companies were interested in a simpler engine formula. Duh no kidding Toto, it was your company that put forth the current 'silly' formula that destroyed the racing and sent costs thru the roof

    Current silly 'power unit' regulations were putting off many potential F1 participants

  • Alonso expects 'nothing' from new Honda
  • Carey denies targeting 25-race F1 calendar
  • 'No more chances' for temper-prone Vettel
  • Now communication boss leaves Sauber
  • FIA confirms minor tweaks at Spielberg
  • Mercedes finding 'sweet spot' more regularly
  • F1 in fresh China push with marketing deal
  • Stewart calls on government to save British Grand Prix
  • Formula 1 To Stage London Street Demonstration Ahead Of British Grand Prix

Current silly 'power unit' regulations were putting off many potential F1 participants
(GMM) If the latest F1 meeting is any indication, the sport's future is looking bright.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff headed to his native Austria for this weekend's grand prix only after attending the engine group meeting, where the post-2020 rules are rapidly taking shape.

F1 has said it wants the next engine to be louder, cheaper and simpler, amid rumors it will be a 1.6 liter V6 with a bi-turbo and single KERS.

But what was surprising about this week's meeting was the number of interested parties in attendance.

"There were surprising participants like Porsche, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Cosworth, Ilmor and AVL," Wolff is quoted by Speed Week.

Other sources report that Audi, Alfa Romeo, Zytek and others were also there.

The implication is that the current 'power unit' regulations were simply putting off too many potential F1 participants for too long.

F1 legend Gerhard Berger told Servus TV: "Many companies can handle the technology of the current engine very well.

"But when it comes to the entire thing in its complexity with the hybrid systems, only a few are really able to do it very well."

F1 CEO Chase Carey agrees: "The engines should be louder but also less complicated, while at the same time keeping the costs down."

Alonso expects 'nothing' from new Honda

Alonso has given up on Honda
Alonso has given up on Honda

(GMM) Fernando Alonso has played down expectations about Honda's 'new' engine ahead of the Austrian grand prix this weekend.

Amid strong rumors about a McLaren-Honda divorce, the struggling Japanese manufacturer tested the 'spec 3' unit in Baku and both drivers will race it in Spielberg.

"I am looking forward to seeing our performance," said Honda F1 boss Yusuke Hasegawa.

But Spaniard Alonso is not optimistic.

At an FIA event in Vienna, he is quoted by EFE news agency: "I think the engine is good for the team to do a press release, but it is practically the same.

"Any upgrade is welcome, but there is no change with the new engine. We already tried it in Baku practice, but we were last and second to last," Alonso added.

So asked what is expecting from the 'spec 3' Honda in Austria, he answered bluntly: "Nothing."

Alonso's comments come amid intense speculation he is targeting a seat at Mercedes or Ferrari for 2018, but he said his future is not a topic "until September".

A move to Mercedes seems unlikely, anyway.

Team chairman Niki Lauda told Sport Bild: "Alonso cannot come to us. Lewis (Hamilton) has a contract.

"Valtteri (Bottas) brings a great performance too, both harmonize well. There is simply no space with us."

Carey denies targeting 25-race F1 calendar

Chase Carey (c) knows F1 cannot do 25 races a year
Chase Carey (c) knows F1 cannot do 25 races a year

(GMM) Chase Carey has denied setting 25 races per season as the target for future F1 calendars.

A 21-race schedule for 2018 has already been revealed, but there are claims new events – particularly in the US – could drive the tally to unprecedented heights.

"25 races would be possible," Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko told the Austrian broadcaster Servus TV.

"But then we would be at the point of working with two teams that are replacing one another.

"For us the number of races is not the point. We want to see the driver, not the engineer, at the center, and this dominance of the engine must end," he added.

"We want to see things like Verstappen fighting with Hamilton and Vettel, not hearing the engineers tell the drivers how to save fuel or go to another engine mode."

In fact, new F1 chief executive Carey seems to agree that there are more important considerations than taking the number of races per year up to 25.

"We have never suggested that," he clarified.

"We have only discussed the possibility of more races, including an additional race in the US in New York or Miami perhaps.

"But 25, 23, 22 races is not the reality at the moment and not the point of the discussion," Carey explained.

"At the moment, our attention is on making the 21 races really great events, making more of what we have and putting the fan back in the middle," he added.

'No more chances' for temper-prone Vettel

What, me?
What, me?

(GMM) The FIA would have to act if Sebastian Vettel loses control of his temper one more time.

That is the view of former F1 driver turned pundit Marc Surer, amid criticism of the F1 governing body's decision to essentially pardon the Ferrari driver.

Vettel was this week summoned to Paris after driving deliberately into Lewis Hamilton behind the safety car in Baku, publishing an official apology to his website afterwards.

Some suspect the quadruple world champion's remorse was not real.

"Because he took so long (to apologize), I think it was calculated," Surer, a pundit for German television Sky, said.

"He really thought Hamilton had brake tested him, but Sebastian is an intelligent guy and knew he would get away with an apology."

Asked if Vettel escaping a major sanction – like a race ban – surprised him, Surer answered: "No, even though he is a repeat offender.

"But it will be the last time he gets away with it. In his next offense, the FIA would have to follow through, as even a go-kart driver is punished if he rams another."

Some insiders suspect the FIA, presided over by Jean Todt, is giving preferential treatment to Vettel and Ferrari.

Surer said: "The FIA did not want to make the story even bigger, with a procedure dragging on until the summer.

"I think this mild judgment is also to not influence the world championship. If they ban Vettel for a race, Hamilton would naturally win it and that could really influence things.

"In this respect, the FIA was keeping an eye on the championship fight," Surer added.

Now communication boss leaves Sauber
(GMM) Another key Sauber member has left the Swiss F1 team.

Just before the Baku grand prix a fortnight ago, team boss Monisha Kaltenborn was ousted by the new owners.

And now, the Swiss newspaper Blick reports that communications boss Robert Hopoltseder has also left Sauber.

"I had been dealing with Monisha's departure every day," Hopoltseder said.

It is believed Sauber will announce in Austria this weekend that Kaltenborn's replacement as boss will be Frederic Vasseur, the former Renault chief.

FIA confirms minor tweaks at Spielberg


The FIA has confirmed that minor tweaks have been made to the Red Bull Ring ahead of this weekend's Austrian Grand Prix.

Formula 1 returned to Spielberg in 2014 but for 2017 the numbers allocated to corners has been tweaked, with the left-hand kink shortly before the end of the first sector now recognized as a bend.

The remaining corners have been renumbered accordingly, meaning that there are now officially 10 turns at the 4.3km circuit.

Tire barriers at Turns 4, 7 and 8 have been increased in depth, while TecPro has been added to the guardrail around the pit entry, ostensibly due to Daniil Kvyat's near-miss in qualifying last year.

Orange 'baguette' curbs have been installed only at Turns 6, 9 and 10 – to deter drivers from running wide and gaining an advantage – while the spacing between them have increased to 3.2 meters.

Additionally, at the request of motorcycling's governing body, the FIM, 30cm-wide flat curbs have been installed at the track edge at various locations.

The circuit layout has not been changed since Formula 1's most recent visit.

Mercedes finding 'sweet spot' more regularly

The Aldo Costa designed Mercedes is simply superior
The Aldo Costa designed Mercedes is simply superior

Toto Wolff says Mercedes is starting to find the W08's "sweet spot" more regularly, having carried out extensive analysis following a difficult Monaco Grand Prix.

Mercedes dominated Formula 1 from 2014-16 but Ferrari has emerged as a threat in 2017, under revised regulations, which include much wider Pirelli tires.

Mercedes' fluctuating form, amid tire and set-up troubles, prompted Wolff to call its car a "diva", while Ferrari expressed confidence that it can perform at any track.

However, Mercedes bounced back from Monaco with a dominant win in Canada, and led in Azerbaijan before Lewis Hamilton's headrest came loose, forcing an extra pit-stop.

Speaking ahead of this weekend's Austrian Grand Prix, Wolff said: "We have made a step since Monaco in understanding what it takes to make our car perform.

"The sweet spot is still difficult to find, but we are starting to do so more regularly.

"Clearly, we are not the only team who took time to understand the combination of the new regulations and tires, but we are making progress, step by step.

"We must continue to do so in the next two weekends to maximize our points score."

Mercedes has won all three races in Austria since it returned to the calendar in 2014, with Nico Rosberg triumphing in 2014 and 2015, and Lewis Hamilton taking victory last season.

"Happily, it has been positive ground for Mercedes over the last three years," Wolff added.

"But we cannot rely on our historic success rate in Spielberg because the regulations are brand new.

"We start again from the ground up on Friday and will aim to come out of the blocks well in FP1. In a season as close as this, we have to if we are going to be on the top step at the end of the year."

Sebastian Vettel leads Hamilton by 14 points in the Drivers' standings, while Mercedes holds a 24-point advantage over Ferrari in the Constructors' battle.

F1 in fresh China push with marketing deal

A big push in China
A big push in China

Formula 1 has signed a deal with marketing company Lagardere Sports and Entertainment in a fresh push to boost the sport's profile across China.

China joined the F1 calendar in 2004, with the purpose-built Shanghai International Circuit, and the aim of the new partnership is to grow the audience.

Lagardere, founded in 1992, and based in Paris, has already played an important role in promoting Asian Football Confederation events in China.

Sean Bratches, F1's commercial chief, commented: "We have a proud and longstanding relationship with motorsport in Asia, working with some great motor race circuit owners and successful race promoters from Singapore to Suzuka in Japan through to Shanghai in China.

"Across the region, Formula 1 fans have proven themselves to be some of the sport's most passionate supporters with over 8.8 million people attending race weekends since 2004.

"We are keen to build on this, developing our brand through unique live entertainment experiences designed to get fans closer to the action.

"We're delighted to be working with Lagardere Sports, whose knowledge of the market in China will help establish long-term benefits for all our partners and brands that we work with."

Lagardere's Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Georgiou, added: "Through this new partnership together we will work with Formula 1 to develop premium local content for the Chinese market, in a way that the sport deeply engages with local fans and becomes part of the Chinese sporting culture and fabric.

"It's a very exciting time to be supporting Formula 1."

China was listed as 'to be confirmed' on the 21-race 2018 calendar, along with Singapore, but F1's new owner, Liberty Media, has no doubts that both events will go ahead.

"Our expectation and goal is to have a race," stated F1 Chairman Chase Carey during last month's FIA Sport Conference in Geneva, when pushed on the matter.

"The reason is the contracts were up this year, so we're negotiating new agreements, so those agreements aren't completed, but we're having good discussions.

"We wouldn't have put it out if we didn't expect it to be 21."

Stewart calls on government to save British Grand Prix

Jackie says Silverstone must be saved.  It does not need saving
Jackie says Silverstone must be saved. It does not need saving

We can't remember when we first came up with the term Planet Paddock but somehow that description of the strange little land populated by beings seemingly totally out of touch with the real world has never seemed so apt.

At a time the British Prime Minister is essentially having to pay a billion pounds to keep her job, when the country is in turmoil as it seeks to find favorable terms for its exit from the European Union (or not), when the police, NHS, local government, the armed forces (such as they are) and who knows who else are struggling to maintain some semblance of service in the face of austerity, Sir Jackie Stewart is calling on the UK government to come to the aid of the British Grand Prix.

Having agreed to a deal which appeared perfectly fine, until it read the little bit in the small print regarding an annual 5% increment, the British Racing Drivers' Club, which owns Silverstone, has finally come to realize that it is, as chairman John Grant so eloquently put it, facing a "potentially ruinous risk".

Consequently, the BRDC has a matter of days before deciding whether it will trigger a clause in its contract that will terminate it after the 2019 race, as opposed to letting it run until 2026 and thereby face said risk of ruin.

Talking to the Grand Prix Show on talkSPORT2, the three-time world champion called on the government to step in.

"In this country we are the capital of motorsport technology," he said. "My information, supplied by the authorities, is that 143,000 people are employed in the British motorsports industry in the United Kingdom. That means there is a high technology labor bloc which is valuable to the United Kingdom because about 80 per cent of it is exported. That means we have a tremendous contribution to make to the country.

"Many other sports are given some assistance to be able to bring medals home," he continued. "The British GP has never been able to get the government, and that's been several governments, to support it. If there is a gap between the Liberty Media contract and the affordability for the British Racing Drivers' Club and Silverstone, then I think we have to find a way for government support to happen.

"Other sports don't have an industry behind them as powerful, and lucrative, to the nation as the British GP has through the technology which Britain leads the world in," he insisted. "The Mercedes Silver Arrows are not manufactured in Stuttgart. The car is manufactured in Brackley and so is the engine. It's an entirely British operation and it's the great German team who are taking the benefit of that on a global basis.

"We cannot afford to lose the British GP," he warned. "I fought very hard to keep it, and Bernie Ecclestone did make concessions, but it was still a very large amount of money for a private members club to afford. It's the only private members club in the world who has a grand prix circuit being raced on since 1950, and that's when the first grand prix was ever held. The first world championship was held at Silverstone in 1950 and we have not missed a year since and Britain has contributed enormously to the world of motorsport because of how well we've done over those years, both with drivers and also the technology of the cars."

Formula 1 To Stage London Street Demonstration Ahead Of British Grand Prix
Mercedes Formula 1 team driver Lewis Hamilton will "speed past some of London’s most iconic landmarks" next week as F1 "descends on the capital ahead of the British Grand Prix," according to the PA.

The demonstration run, "the first of its sort in London for more than a decade," will take place on Wednesday — four days before the Silverstone race — following a "series of discussions" involving F1 owner Liberty Media, City Hall and Westminster City Council.

Specific details of the demo "will be formally announced just 48 hours before the event after a number of London authorities expressed their concerns over excessive crowd numbers bringing the city to a standstill."

The parade, which will involve all 10 teams, "will take place from Trafalgar Square, along Whitehall and up to Parliament Square."

The demonstration fits with F1 CEO Chase Carey's "mantra of turning each grand prix into a week-long event, emulating the Super Bowl."

A new law was passed in April allowing motorsports to take place on public roads across England for the first time. PA

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