Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Nico Hulkenberg awaits news of his new teammate
    Nico Hulkenberg awaits news of his new teammate

    No preference for Palmer replacement – Hulkenberg

  • No contract news in Baku – Vettel
  • Bottas has 'earned' Mercedes seat – Hamilton
  • Alonso unenthused over Honda upgrade
  • Mercedes has solved tire trouble – Hembery
  • Williams rules out Honda switch
  • Kaltenborn exit 'a shame' – Wehrlein
  • Driver atmosphere 'fine' at Force India
  • Fourth year at Toro Rosso 'difficult' – Sainz
  • Alonso wants 'safe' F1 team for 2018
  • Force India not confirming Auer test rumors
  • Renault has upgrade in Baku – Ricciardo

No preference for Palmer replacement – Hulkenberg
(GMM) Jolyon Palmer reacted with tetchiness at Baku when asked yet again about his future in F1.

Asked what might help to up his performance in 2017, the under-pressure Renault driver said: "No more questions like these."

Rumors are now rife that Renault intends to oust the Briton during the summer break.

Sergey Sirotkin, Sebastien Buemi and even Robert Kubica have been mentioned as potential candidates to replace him.

Palmer's current teammate Nico Hulkenberg, however, said in Baku that he has no preference.

"A faster teammate does not make me faster," said the German.

Fernando Alonso once said Robert Kubica was the best F1 driver he has met, and the Spaniard said again in Baku: "I consider him the best.

"I would be glad to see him return to formula one, but I don't know all the details of his situation.

"I read that he had a test but I don't see him as one of the candidates for Renault. Perhaps it is too early to talk about him coming back," added Alonso.

No contract news in Baku – Vettel

Vettel looks very happy
Vettel looks very happy

(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has no news in Baku about his contractual situation with Ferrari.

The championship leader is out of contract at the end of the season, and most tip him to stay with the Italian team.

But Vettel said: "Normally, contracts begin on 1 January and end on 31 December.

"So probably the final date for a decision is 31 December," he smiled.

"I know I haven't answered your question, but it's a very intense phase of the season with a lot of races in a short period. Perhaps at the end of the summer there will be more time," Vettel added.

He suggested he is happy at Ferrari.

"We are working together very well, and slowly all the puzzle pieces are in the right place," said Vettel.

"I hope this is only the beginning and there is much more to come."

Bottas has 'earned' Mercedes seat – Hamilton

Bottas has earned seat says Hamilton
Bottas has earned seat says Hamilton

(GMM) Lewis Hamilton says Valtteri Bottas has "earned his place" at Mercedes.

Team boss Toto Wolff has said that, while happy with the Finn, he is in no rush to extend Bottas' deal into 2018.

Bottas' teammate, Hamilton, said in Baku: "I honestly think he has earned his place with us.

"He's doing a great job and he's going to keep developing. He's in his first year and has already won a grand prix. I think there's much more to come, he just needs to get the right opportunity."

Hamilton has also said he is enjoying the atmosphere in the garage, following Nico Rosberg's retirement.

"His (Bottas') energy helps to create a great harmony in the team," said the Briton.

Alonso unenthused over Honda upgrade

Alonso frustrated
Alonso frustrated

(GMM) Fernando Alonso does not sound enthused with the news Honda has brought an upgrade for its hapless power unit to Baku.

Sources say the improvement is somewhere between 12 and 30 horse power, amid reports Honda's deficit until now has been close to 100hp.

"We lose about three seconds on the straight here," Spaniard Alonso said in Baku. "If it's only 2.8 seconds now, nothing will change."

Not just that, changing the engines will leave both Alonso and his teammate dead last on the grid.

"It will be a hard weekend again," Alonso said.

When asked for specifics about Honda's upgrade, the McLaren driver added: "I don't know. You have to talk to Honda. I have no idea."

Mercedes has solved tire trouble – Hembery

Paul Hembery
Paul Hembery

(GMM) Mercedes has now solved its early-season tire problems.

That is the view of Pirelli chief Paul Hembery, referring to the way the German team bounced back from Monaco to dominate in Canada two weeks ago.

"The hard work paid off," the Briton told Germany's Auto Bild.

"What they did between Monaco and Canada was impressive — a dramatic step," Hembery said in Geneva.

He also played down recent speculation that Mercedes' struggle was amplified by an alleged advantage gained by Sebastian Vettel over the winter, as the Ferrari driver participated heavily in Pirelli's 2017 test program.

"We would have liked more top drivers as committed to work as Sebastian was (to join him)," Hembery said.

"He gave us important feedback from morning to night, pushing us in the direction the drivers wanted, and we have to thank him because it makes a difference whether an inexperienced driver or one of the best tests tires," he added.

Still, he thinks any advantage Vettel got was fleeting.

"If there was an advantage, it was at the very first winter test this year," said Hembery.

Kaltenborn exit 'a shame' – Wehrlein

Kaltenborn was covering up Wehrlein's shortcomings so he hated to see her leave
Kaltenborn was covering up Wehrlein's shortcomings so he hated to see her leave

(GMM) Pascal Wehrlein in Baku said it is "a shame" boss Monisha Kaltenborn was ousted from the Sauber team.

Sauber's new owner has rejected rumors F1's first female team boss lost her job following a dispute over making Wehrlein's teammate Marcus Ericsson the clear number 1 driver.

"I do not want to comment on equality," German Wehrlein said in Baku.

But it is rumored Wehrlein and Kaltenborn were close, and Swede Ericsson – who is closely linked to Sauber's new owners – admitted he has not spoken with his former boss following her departure.

Wehrlein, however, admitted: "She called me on Tuesday evening to inform me herself.

"We talked for a few minutes and she just said that she and the team have separated and she is not coming to Baku."

The German also confirmed that no one representing Sauber's new owners contacted him.

But he said: "For me, nothing changes. I always try to do my best but personally, I find all this a pity because I got on well with Monisha.

"I was very surprised. There was no sign."

When asked who his new boss will be, the 22-year-old answered: "I don't know."

DPA news agency says there are multiple candidates to replace Kaltenborn, including Colin Kolles, Frederic Vasseur, Graeme Lowdon and Ericsson's manager Eje Elgh.

Driver atmosphere 'fine' at Force India
(GMM) Force India's drivers insist the atmosphere is "fine" following events in Montreal two weeks ago.

In Canada, despite reportedly being asked to move over for his teammate Esteban Ocon, Sergio Perez did not comply.

Perez denies a clear team order was actually issued, but he says of the relationship with Frenchman Ocon: "Everything is fine.

"The team is in a very good period, we are happy and we're looking forward to doing the best we can."

According to France's RMC Sport, Ocon agreed.

"Everything is fine between us," said the Frenchman. "Everything is calm. We are not kart drivers, we are professionals and our job is to fight on the track, not outside of the track."

Fourth year at Toro Rosso 'difficult' – Sainz Jr.

Carlos Sainz Jr.
Carlos Sainz Jr.

(GMM) Carlos Sainz Jr. has admitted staying at Toro Rosso for a fourth consecutive season in 2018 would be "difficult".

The impressive Spaniard has in the past been linked with moves to Renault, Ferrari and most recently McLaren, but Red Bull is insisting his contract be honored.

Sainz confirmed in Azerbaijan: "It's no secret that my sporting career depends on Helmut Marko and Red Bull.

"But I do not think that will affect my future," he is quoted by El Mundo Deportivo. "I do not close the door to anyone but I know that a fourth year in Toro Rosso is extremely difficult because it's never been done before.

"I also think both Red Bull and I want to take a step forward," Sainz added.

"It would be stupid to close the door to any F1 team, but I do not hide that my goal is to take a step, and if that step is Red Bull or elsewhere, I don't know yet."

Alonso wants 'safe' F1 team for 2018

Alonso serious about good team
Alonso serious about good team

(GMM) Fernando Alonso has given the clearest sign yet that he will leave McLaren-Honda at the end of the year.

The Spaniard has struggled with the hapless Anglo-Japanese collaboration throughout his three-year contract, but said in Baku he wants to make it "clear to all my fans" that he will definitely still be in F1 next year.

As for the team, though, it now seems obvious Alonso will stop hoping that Honda will finally improve.

"I'm not going to sit down with anyone until September," Alonso told Spanish radio Cadena Cope.

"But I want to go to a safe project, not a risky one. I would like to be in a place I can be competitive from day one and win.

"After 16 years, with everything I have achieved, I would like to be competitive in my last years in formula one," the 35-year-old added.

Alonso also said he thinks the 2018 'silly season' will be more unpredictable than many F1 insiders are expecting.

"I know there are more moves than we all probably know," he said.

"It seems that some teams are already set for next year, but I do not think it is 100pc confirmed," Alonso added. "I think there will be a lot of changes in 2018."

Force India not confirming Auer test rumors
(GMM) Force India is not ready to confirm reports Gerhard Berger's nephew will test for the Silverstone based team in Hungary.

Amid the reports in the Austrian press, a spokesman for DTM frontrunner Lucas Auer this week would not confirm that the 22-year-old will test the pink car at the young driver test after Hungary.

Now, a Force India spokesman told APA news agency: "Until now, we have not announced anything.

"We confirm the driver lineup for the tests usually two weeks beforehand, so there will be no information until Silverstone," he added.

Renault has upgrade in Baku – Ricciardo

Ricciardo was right, the Renaults are fast now
Ricciardo was right, the Renaults are fast now

(GMM) Daniel Ricciardo has revealed that Renault has taken improvements for its 2017 power unit to Baku.

The news comes despite Renault chief Cyril Abiteboul saying recently that there will in fact be no more major upgrades until 2018.

Red Bull's Ricciardo said: "It's not the upgrade that has been talked about, but it should help us. And we'll take whatever we can get."

In recent days and weeks, there have been cries of frustration about the Red Bull-Renault situation, but Ricciardo says the team has been improving the car.

As for the engine situation, the Australian added: "It's not as bad as it might seem from the outside.

"Of course, we would welcome a big upgrade – it would be fantastic to get a second a lap – but it is clear that this is unlikely to happen.

"But until the last race in Abu Dhabi, we will get various upgrades," he said.

Also clear, however, is that Renault is already focused on 2018, and the works team's driver Nico Hulkenberg said there is plenty to do.

"The gap to the top is significant and we need a lot of performance," said the German.

Leave a Reply