Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Chase Carey not worried about 3 races in a row
    Chase Carey not worried about 3 races in a row

    Carey plays down 2018 'triple header'

  • Carey confident all 21 races set for 2018
  • No hurry to sign new Bottas deal – Wolff
  • McLaren deal not Mercedes 'priority' – Wolff
  • Honda not ruling out F1 help
  • Russia GP date change due to World Cup
  • Sauber not commenting on McLaren gearbox claims
  • Prost welcomes new F1 team rumors
  • Berger's nephew to make F1 test debut
  • Mallya: SFI pair will continue to race freely

Carey plays down 2018 'triple header'
(GMM) Chase Carey has played down the 'triple header' that will take place in F1 next year.

On the bustling 21-race calendar for 2018, three events – France, Austria and Britain – will be held on subsequent weekends.

Carey, who has replaced Bernie Ecclestone as F1 CEO, said the back-to-back races are to avoid a clash with the World Cup final.

"It would have been difficult for promoters to have to compete with the final of a World Cup," he said.

"It's important to notice that all of the races of the three are in Europe. I think the calendar is well thought out," added Carey.

Carey confident all 21 races set for 2018
(GMM) Chase Carey has played down speculation next year's 21-race calendar could actually drop to 19 grands prix.

Both China and the popular Singapore night race have been marked on the provisional 2018 schedule as "subject to commercial rights holder confirmation".

F1 CEO Carey said: "Our goal is to have the races in Shanghai and Singapore.

"We are negotiating new agreements that are not signed, but we have good communication and our expectation is that these races are on the calendar.

"We would not have put 21 races on the calendar if there are doubts, but the reality is that today we do not have agreements," the American added.

A spokesman for the Singapore grand prix confirmed that a decision about the 2018 street race "has not been reached".

No hurry to sign new Bottas deal – Wolff

Is Wolff sringing Bottas along waiting to see if Hamilton quits?
Is Wolff stringing Bottas along waiting to see if Hamilton quits?

(GMM) Toto Wolff says Mercedes will "take our time" in deciding whether to keep Valtteri Bottas for 2018.

The Finn, currently on just a one year deal following Nico Rosberg's shock retirement, said this week his goal is to secure a multi-year deal.

"Of course there is pressure on him," team boss Wolff is quoted by Spain's Marca.

"For me, Valtteri has performed well so far. He got the call to join our team very late, and is driving against one of the best F1 drivers in his fifth season at Mercedes.

"Overall his performance and the way he has integrated into the team has been very positive," Wolff added.

However, on paper at least, big names like Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso are available for 2018, and so for now Wolff is biding his time.

"When we made our offer to Valtteri, we knew we would take our time because the driver market is more open in 2018," he said.

"We will not be in a hurry to make a decision. But in general, the team's view is that he has done a good job."

McLaren deal not Mercedes 'priority' – Wolff
(GMM) Toto Wolff is still reluctant to talk about the possibility of Mercedes supplying customer engines to McLaren next year.

It is now very possible that McLaren and its hapless works supplier Honda will split, and Mercedes has been mentioned as the most likely alternative for the once-great British team.

But Mercedes chief Wolff is quoted by Spain's Marca sports newspaper: "If you are considering a new girlfriend, you first want the couple to divorce before jumping into bed.

"It's not our priority at the moment," he added.

"The most important thing is for Honda to improve, to continue in the sport and to have a good deal with its customers or teams. We do not want to interfere at this stage," said Wolff.

Honda not ruling out F1 help

Yusuke Hasegawa appears lost
Yusuke Hasegawa appears lost

(GMM) Honda is no longer ruling out accepting help as it looks to finally get up to speed in F1.

Until now, the Japanese marque has usually been reluctant to look outside its own company during its three-year struggle so far in collaboration with McLaren.

But amid strong rumors of a McLaren-Honda split, the rhetoric is now changing.

Recently, F1 sporting boss Ross Brawn reportedly said the sport itself could help Honda.

"He said he would be happy to help Honda on request," Honda F1 chief Yusuke Hasegawa is quoted by Spain's AS.

"We'll have to ask. I greatly appreciate the offer. We'll keep talking," he added.

Russia GP date change due to World Cup
(GMM) Next year's football World Cup is one reason organisers of the Russian grand prix pushed for a date change for 2018.

This year, the Sochi round took place in April, but on next year's schedule the Russian GP will not happen until almost October.

"The initiative to change the timing appeared a few months ago, and it is very important that our colleagues supported us," Veniamin Kondratyev, the governor of the Krasnodar Krai region, told Tass news agency.

He said it is much better that the World Cup and the Russian grand prix will no longer clash.

"We are talking about a range of initiatives and events and now both ourselves and our partners will be able to avoid these risks," he added.

Sauber not commenting on McLaren gearbox claims

Sauber was hoping to get McLaren gearbox
Sauber was hoping to get McLaren gearbox

(GMM) Monisha Kaltenborn has played down the impact the potential McLaren-Honda split might have on Sauber.

Currently, McLaren is Honda's works team, while Ferrari-powered Sauber is set to become the Japanese marque's first customer in 2018.

But now, it seems possible Sauber could actually be the only Honda-powered team next year, particularly with Williams denying it could take over from McLaren in the event of a divorce.

"They (McLaren and Sauber) are two separate projects. We are two customers," Sauber boss Kaltenborn told the Swiss news agency Schweizerische Depeschenagentur.

"There will be no synergies."

However, earlier it appeared likely that – because Sauber does not produce its own gearbox – the Hinwil based team would use McLaren's transmission next year.

"I cannot say anything at this time," Kaltenborn now insists.

But admitting that Sauber's new owners are "not happy" with Sauber's current performance, some are saying that moving from a year-old Ferrari engine to Honda may not be a forwards step for the team.

"It is not working at the moment at McLaren," said Kaltenborn, "and of course that is not good.

"But I am not able to draw any conclusions about how it will be next year. This is all speculation and I have no reason to doubt," she added.

What Kaltenborn is happy about is F1's new owners, having complained bitterly in the past about the current revenue distribution model within the sport.

"In the past, the owners did not take the trouble to come to us," she said. "But Sean Bratches has made himself very available to us.

"They maintain very open contact, and in things like marketing they are much more open," Kaltenborn said.

Prost welcomes new F1 team rumors

Alain Prost
Alain Prost

(GMM) F1 legend Alain Prost has welcomed rumors suggesting an eleventh team could be on the grid in 2018.

The quadruple world champion, now an advisor for the Renault works team, told Germany's Auto Bild the conditions to enter F1 are now better than when his own team went bust in 2001.

Prost's comments follow reports a group with Chinese backing has enquired about signing staff from existing F1 teams for a new project.

"We used to be racing teams, but now everything is much more like business," the Frenchman said.

"That is one reason we lose fans — they don't quite understand how a drinks maker like Red Bull can defeat automobile companies.

"But I can say that whoever wants to start a private team today has it easier than in my time. That was probably the worst time ever," Prost said.

"We never received more than $10 million (from F1), but we paid $28 million in the first year for engines, 30 in the second — how is that supposed to work?

"Today, every team gets at least $40 million in prize money," he said.

Berger's nephew to make F1 test debut

Lucas Auer
Lucas Auer

(GMM) Gerhard Berger's nephew is set to take a big leap forward in his ambitions to race in F1.

22-year-old Lucas Auer, whose mother is F1 legend Berger's sister Claudia, is a title contender in the German touring car series DTM this year, driving a Mercedes.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has said Auer has "everything you need" for a career in F1.

And now, Germany's Auto Bild reports that Auer will make his F1 debut driving a Mercedes-powered Force India at the young driver test following the Hungarian grand prix.

Auer drives a pink-liveried Mercedes car in DTM, as it shares a main sponsor – Austrian water company BWT – with Force India.

Mallya: SFI pair will continue to race freely

Vijay Mallya
Vijay Mallya

Force India Team Principal Vijay Mallya has insisted that Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon will continue to be allowed to race freely, following a tense situation in Canada.

Pérez and Ocon ran fourth and fifth, behind Daniel Ricciardo, with the French youngster requesting to be allowed a chance to attack the Red Bull racer, due to being equipped with fresher tires.

Pérez held firm throughout the race, before both were overhauled during the closing laps by the recovering Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel.

Mallya commented post-race that "new guidelines will follow" and he has now expanded on Force India's stance.

"Montréal showed the strengths of our driver line-up," he said.

"Sergio and Esteban are very closely-matched and they are pushing each other hard on the track.

"They both want to beat each other and this healthy competition will help drive us forward. They will get the best out of each other.

"We will continue to allow them to race freely, but we will always balance this with the best interests of the team.

"You can't pre-plan these things and every situation will be different."

Mallya added that Force India's pace in Montréal proved that its pre-season target of fighting with the top three teams was "not too outlandish".

"At the start of the year, when we launched the VJM10, I said we wanted to carry on where we ended 2016 as the fourth-placed team," he said.

"I even dared to dream that we could look ahead of us towards the top three.

"I think our performance in Montréal showed that such ambitions were not too outlandish.

"To be fighting with Red Bulls and Ferraris feels pretty good. We are not consistently at their level, but on our day we can fight with the top teams.

"It's a credit to everybody at Force India that we have come away from the first seven races with 71 points – a fantastic achievement."

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