Latest F1 news in brief – Sunday

  • Alonso says the McLaren is fast if not for Honda
    Alonso says the McLaren is fast if not for Honda

    McLaren 'very competitive' without Honda – Alonso

  • Hamilton admits Alonso pairing 'toxic'
  • Alonso hits back at Ralf Schumacher amid kart dispute
  • McLaren urges Vandoorne to 'adapt' to F1
  • Struggling Stroll 'will find solution' – Ocon
  • Kubica admits dreaming of F1 'comeback'
  • Vettel 'most complete driver' – Villeneuve
  • Pirelli 'listened to Vettel' about 2017 tires
  • Red Bull can't write off 2017 car – Verstappen
  • Wolff hails 'sensational' Hamilton effort
  • Senna helmet leaves Hamilton 'shaking'
  • Ricciardo: Mercedes has so much power it is scary

McLaren 'very competitive' without Honda – Alonso
(GMM) Fernando Alonso says there is nothing wrong with the McLaren car or his own driving.

The Spaniard was happy with his qualifying lap in Montreal, saying it equated to pole when the Honda power deficit was factored in.

Amid rumors Honda is 90-100 horse power down, Alonso told Auto Motor und Sport: "I don't want to say numbers because I cannot prove them.

"But if you look at the time we lose on the straights, we would be very competitive."

The German report said McLaren has calculated with GPS that it is losing 1.3 seconds around Montreal due to Honda.

"With a top engine, we could have done Bottas' time," an unnamed team member said. "Only Vettel and Hamilton would have been out of reach."

McLaren's new, highly critical tone is reportedly the result of Honda having promised and then failed to deliver a key engine upgrade for Canada.

"It's wrong to talk about a delay," boss Yusuke Hasegawa said. "We would have liked to have it in Canada, and now we hope to have it in Baku, but I cannot promise."

Some suspect McLaren has already decided to dump Honda, but boss Eric Boullier said: "We have a long term contract with Honda and are connected on many levels.

"I hope there is still a McLaren-Honda next year, as we want to believe in this project. But at the moment our patience is put to the test."

Indeed, there are now clear signs of strain even in the personal relationships. McLaren executive Zak Brown said this week Honda is "lost".

"It was an unfortunate word," said Hasegawa, according to Spain's AS newspaper.

And Brown replied: "I do not think I said unfair or unfortunate things, and I get along well with Hasegawa-san.

So for now, McLaren is not ruling out splitting with Honda and entering talks with McLaren, Renault or even Ferrari.

"We value all our options, and the whole situation is very complex with sporting but also commercial aspects, so it is not something simple.

"But we will have an engine in the car next year," Brown said.

Hamilton admits Alonso pairing 'toxic'

Alonso and Hamilton in 2007 at McLaren
Alonso and Hamilton in 2007 at McLaren

(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has admitted his clash with Fernando Alonso at McLaren a decade ago was "personal".

With Spaniard Alonso now on the driver market for 2018, some have linked him with a move to Mercedes.

That would reunite the old Alonso-Hamilton partnership of 2007, with Alonso always saying he only clashed with McLaren's culture and supremo Ron Dennis.

But when asked if he would want to be paired with Alonso again, Hamilton told Spain's El Pais: "It's not just about me, but the hundreds of people working in the team.

"My relationship with Fernando was toxic and it intoxicated the whole team.

"So yes it was personal. There are people with whom you get along and others who you cannot coexist with in any way," said Hamilton.

"If you put two world champions in the same team, each will try to do his best and neither will give way on a single corner. There is too much friction."

But the Briton said that in the years since the "toxic" McLaren season, he actually now gets along with Alonso.

"Formula one is a show and there are very few drivers who are able to make it that show," said Hamilton.

"There's Alonso, Vettel, myself … So I hope they (McLaren) can solve the problems he is having with his team."

Alonso hits back at Ralf Schumacher amid kart dispute

Ralf Schumacher in 2007
Ralf Schumacher in 2007

(GMM) Fernando Alonso and Ralf Schumacher have clashed bitterly over a dispute in the world of top-level kart racing.

This weekend, the European karting championship is taking place at Alonso's own circuit in Spain.

Former F1 driver Schumacher is there with his team KSM, and the German admitted he is not liking Alonso's track at all.

"For the first time since I joined karting again it feels totally wrong to race at a track like this," said Ralf, saying the circuit is damaging karts and endangering the "health" of the drivers.

Some weeks ago, a boy died whilst driving on Alonso's circuit.

But from Montreal, Alonso lashed back at his former F1 rival when he heard about the critical comments.

"I think Ralf has been out of the headlines for many years and needs some publicity," said the McLaren-Honda driver.

"He also has a kart track where he wants to host a European championship event himself, and perhaps the FIA is not happy with it," Alonso added.

"I think only Ralf is breaking things, so he may need to tell his drivers to stay on the asphalt. Maybe he's running out of money."

McLaren urges Vandoorne to 'adapt' to F1

Vandoorne, fast in GP2, slow in F1
Vandoorne, fast in GP2, slow in F1

(GMM) McLaren has urged Stoffel Vandoorne to "adapt" to his new life in formula one.

Entering F1 this year as a highly rated rookie, Belgian Vandoorne has in fact struggled alongside teammate Fernando Alonso so far in 2017.

Team boss Eric Boullier told El Pais newspaper: "In the lower categories, the car is the same for everyone so you adapt to it and then your style doesn't change.

"But in F1 there are always new parts and that changes the entire character of the car," said the Frenchman.

According to the newspaper, an unnamed team source was even more critical of the 25-year-old.

"The current (Honda) situation does not help, but the main problem is that Stoffel is not Lewis Hamilton, and McLaren thought he was.

"He is good, but he's not a star. It is not possible to go to a circuit like Barcelona, where he has driven so many laps, and be so far behind his teammate," the source added.

"It is true that before his debut in 2007, Hamilton did a lot of testing and Vandoorne did not. But neither did Verstappen."

Struggling Stroll 'will find solution' – Ocon

Lance Stroll, out to lunch
Lance Stroll, out to lunch

(GMM) Esteban Ocon has tipped Lance Stroll to "find a solution" to his current troubles in F1.

At the seventh round of his new F1 career, 18-year-old Stroll slumped at his home Canadian grand prix, qualifying a full ten places behind Williams teammate Felipe Massa.

But Stroll is actually the reigning European F3 champion — a title held by the impressive Force India driver Esteban Ocon two years earlier.

So when asked why there is such a huge difference between their performances in F1, Ocon told Le Journal de Montreal: "First, I have more experience than him, which makes all the difference.

"I was better prepared than him," said the Frenchman. "I did a lot of testing with some important teams.

"Also, I drove and rubbed shoulders with several F1 drivers before that."

Nonetheless, 20-year-old Ocon tipped Stroll to improve soon.

"He'll find a solution. He's a good driver," he said.

Kubica admits dreaming of F1 'comeback'

Robert Kubica
Robert Kubica

(GMM) Robert Kubica has admitted he is dreaming of a "comeback" in F1.

The Pole made a stir with his low-profile Renault test last week, six years after almost severing his arm in a rally crash.

Kubica, now 32, insists it was not a publicity stunt.

"The approach by Renault was a nice surprise," he is quoted by Italy's Autosprint.

"They tried to keep it as secret as possible, as the test for them was not about putting me in the car and making a good story, even if it generated a lot of interest."

Earlier, Kubica had almost completely ruled out returning to F1 due to permanent physical movement limitations, but he said the test showed him that he can drive a competitive full race distance.

As for that "comeback" word, the former BMW and Renault driver said: "It's not for me to decide what the future holds.

"It's nice to know that I can do what I did 6 years ago in spite of my limitations.

"I feel ready, I have worked so hard and I can say that I have never trained so hard and well even in the years I was racing.

"I am looking forward, I hope there is something else but it's not for me to decide," Kubica added.

He said the years since leaving F1 were "difficult", but "Last year I said I wanted to go back to formula one".

"I just did one test, but for me it's an important goal and I feel I am starting a new path even if I don't know where it will take me.

"But I do not hide that I would like to go down it, because I had good feelings. It doesn't depend on me, but I do know I can give my best," added Kubica.

Vettel 'most complete driver' – Villeneuve

Vettel will need to be on his best game Sunday to beat Hamilton
Vettel will need to be on his best game Sunday to beat Hamilton

(GMM) Jacques Villeneuve has tipped Sebastian Vettel to win the 2017 title.

Vettel currently leads Lewis Hamilton by 25 points, and although the Mercedes is on pole in Montreal, local hero Villeneuve thinks it will be the Ferrari star who wins his fifth crown in 2017.

Why? "Because he has no weaknesses and it seems at the moment that Ferrari don't either," 1997 world champion Villeneuve said at the Montreal track, which is named after his father Gilles.

Canadian Villeneuve said Vettel is "the most complete driver".

He is less enthusiastic regarding news that F1 is likely to keep its V6 engines beyond 2020, saying the sport should actually "throw them in the trash".

Villeneuve argues for a return of big V8, V10 or V12 engines, or "Whatever is necessary to make formula one cars racing cars again".

He said F1 "must be an extreme sport and a place for gladiators, and that's not what they are now.

"I'm not surprised when people start to get bored," he told the German newspaper Welt.

Pirelli 'listened to Vettel' about 2017 tires

Wolff making excuses
Wolff making excuses

(GMM) Toto Wolff has denied Sebastian Vettel gave Ferrari a big head-start in his bid for the 2017 title.

With Ferrari reveling on Pirelli's new tires and Mercedes often struggling, some see a link between Vettel's close involvement with the Italian supplier's 2017 development program.

Mercedes, on the other hand, did most of its Pirelli development work with Pascal Wehrlein at the wheel.

"Our situation last year was different to Ferrari's," boss Wolff told Speed Week.

"We were fully involved in the world championship battle between Nico and Lewis, and so neither of them was overly worried about the development of tires for the future.

"But I believe that you only very rarely find the silver bullet in formula one that gives a decisive advantage. It's more about putting together a lot of small details.

"Perhaps the credibility of Sebastian Vettel as a developer and his statements about the tires had an impact at Pirelli. Perhaps they listened more carefully to what an experienced driver says compared to a young driver.

"But I have no evidence of that. For me it's just a personal guess," Wolff added.

Red Bull can't write off 2017 car – Verstappen

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen

(GMM) Red Bull cannot simply write off 2017 in order to get ready for a full championship challenge in 2018.

That is the view of Max Verstappen, after Mercedes and Ferrari's engine advantage over Red Bull's Renault power became all too clear in Q3 in Montreal.

"As expected, they turned up the performance in the last qualifying segment," said Daniel Ricciardo. "We just can't do that."

"I think that extra power would even be scary for us," the Australian smiled, "but it would be a good problem to have."

Teammate Verstappen said he has heard Renault might be ready with an engine update for Baku, but it is not definite.

"It is what it is and I can't influence the situation," said the Dutchman.

"You can get upset, angry, but it doesn't solve anything. It's better to be optimistic and try to make the most of the situation."

So when asked if Red Bull might simply write off 2017 in order to start work on 2018 ahead of time, Verstappen answered: "The regulations are not changing much, so the more the team learns this year, the better it is for next year."

Wolff hails 'sensational' Hamilton effort

Wolff elated with Hamilton
Wolff elated with Hamilton

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff praised Lewis Hamilton's "sensational lap" as the Briton secured pole position for the Canadian Grand Prix, ahead of title rival Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton set provisional pole at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve but was challenged by Vettel, who set a lap to sit within 0.004s of the Mercedes driver, as they battled for top spot.

Hamilton responded, setting the quickest ever lap at the venue with a 1:11.459, to wind up 0.330s quicker than Vettel, his fourth pole of the year, and sixth in Canada.

The result also drew Hamilton level with Ayrton Senna on 65 pole positions, second on the all-time list, behind only Michael Schumacher, on 68.

"I'm very pleased indeed with how the team has worked this weekend," said Wolff.

"We have improved the car from session to session, made good decisions with the set-up and, with a sensational lap from Lewis on top, pole is the reward.

"We spent the first half of qualifying working out which timed lap was the optimum for tire performance and, in the end, settled on the first timed lap.

"It was all on the line for Lewis in that final run, so to find three tenths was very impressive.

"It takes him to a very significant milestone in his career, level with Ayrton in terms of pole positions, which I know means a lot to him."

Mercedes and Ferrari have shared the six victories equally this season, and Wolff is expecting another close scrap for the win in Sunday's 70-lap race.

"It was very closely matched with Ferrari and I'm sure we will see more of the same tomorrow," he said.

"I am always the sceptic when it comes to making predictions – but that's the mind-set we need to cover all the bases tonight and have a strong race."

Senna helmet leaves Hamilton 'shaking'

Hamilton with Senna helmet
Hamilton with Senna helmet

Lewis Hamilton was left "shaking" after he was presented with an original race-worn helmet of his hero Ayrton Senna, after he matched the Brazilian's pole tally during qualifying in Canada.

Hamilton, 10 years to the day since his maiden Formula 1 victory, clocked a time of 1:11.459 – a new record at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve – to record his 65th pole position in the sport.

The landmark drew him level with his hero Senna, and during the post-qualifying interviews, conducted at Turn 2, Hamilton was presented with one of Senna's helmets, a gift from the family.

A visibly moved Hamilton raised the helmet aloft in front of the crowd, and commented: "I'm shaking… I'm speechless.

"Ayrton… I know for many of you he was your favorite driver and it's the same for me, he was the one that inspired me to be where I am today.

"To match him and receive this [gift] is the greatest honor, so a big, big thank you to the Senna family."

Hamilton also reveled in his run to pole position, the sixth time he has headed qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix.

"Montréal has been good for me over the years," he said.

"It was a close battle with Ferraris, they were so quick, they have been quick all year.

"I was gunning, I was pushing, I got great support and wanted to give them a great lap, luckily I got it.

"It was a sexy lap! It was a great lap, I can't believe it came together so well.

Ricciardo: Mercedes has so much power it is scary

Hamilton uses the Mercedes power advantage to win pole
Hamilton uses the Mercedes power advantage to win pole

Red Bull-Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo says that it would be "scary" to have the amount of engine power the Mercedes Formula 1 team has with its qualifying engine modes.

Ricciardo and team-mate Max Verstappen were 0.2-0.3 seconds off the pace set by Lewis Hamilton in the second segment of qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix, but in Q3 they were 0.9-1.0s off the pace.

"Q2 we all looked pretty close, even to the leaders, but then in Q3 they all turned it up," Ricciardo told reporters on Saturday.

"They've got something special in Q3.

"We'd love to have the Mercedes power, what they had in Q3, that might be scary, actually!

"Going down the straights, we might brake really early because the speed is so high.

"It would be nice to have more, but I guess we're used to this position.

"We're still trying to do what we can with the chassis, we've brought quite a lot to the car this week and I think it is working but it's still hard to quantify when we're down [on power] in Q3 like that.

"Mercedes are strong, I'm not convinced they can hold that in the race – I'm sure the power they have to turn down a bit and on tyres they don't seem as comfortable as last year.

"I don't think they'll have it easy against Ferrari, and I feel like we will be closer than we were on one lap."

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