Latest F1 news in brief – Saturday

  • Hamilton guaranteed a seat at Mercedes
    Hamilton guaranteed a seat at Mercedes

    Wolff tips Hamilton to stay after 2018

  • F1 income must not be 'socialism' – Haas
  • Hamilton scoffs at Alonso's Indy rivals
  • 2017 Ferrari 'has no weak points' – Gene
  • Some F1 tracks like 'carparks' – Wolff
  • Magnussen not worried over court date
  • Hamilton admits 'too old' for MotoGP switch
  • Ricciardo not ruling out Red Bull exit
  • Button hints at Vandoorne future

Wolff tips Hamilton to stay after 2018
(GMM) Toto Wolff has tipped Mercedes' top driver to stay with the German team.

Lewis Hamilton has a contract with Mercedes until the end of next year, but boss Wolff rated his chances of retaining the triple world champion.

"If you would have asked me the same question one year ago, I would not have been very optimistic, but now it is different," he is quoted by the Irish Independent.

"After five years, this relationship has become so strong in a way that it wasn't last season," Wolff added.

F1 income must not be 'socialism' – Haas

Gene Haas doesn't believe is IndyCar's socialism program
Gene Haas doesn't believe in IndyCar's socialism program

(GMM) F1 must be "very careful" as it moves to shake up the income distribution model in the near future.

That is the warning of Gene Haas, the American billionaire owner of the small Ferrari-linked American team.

Having ousted Bernie Ecclestone after the Liberty Media takeover, new F1 CEO Chase Carey has said he wants to start again once the current Concorde Agreements expire in 2020.

"As far as I can see, they're doing everything right," Haas is quoted by Speed Week.

"They seem to have a lot of ideas, and a lot of them are very positive — like easing the rules for video clips on the web."

But he said F1 must be "careful" when it comes to redistributing the sport's vast income, amid calls from some of the other small teams for a more equal slice of the cake.

"As the newcomers, every additional sum for us is very welcome," said Haas.

"But I do think we have to be very careful. There are some teams at the top who have been there for 50 years and therefore have a right to a larger share of the revenues.

"I'm not saying that the teams at the end of the field have not earned more money, but it's just like the top drivers who rightly earn more for winning. We must not degenerate into socialism," he insisted.

Hamilton scoffs at Alonso's Indy rivals

Hamilton thinks IndyCar drivers will get smoked by Alonso
Hamilton thinks IndyCar drivers will get smoked by Alonso

(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has apparently scoffed at the level of competition facing Fernando Alonso ahead of Sunday's Indy 500.

Not long after this weekend's prestigious F1 race, Monaco absentee Alonso will start from fifth as he bids to win the fabled Indy 500 on the other side of the Atlantic.

Hamilton, however, does not seem to rate Alonso's full-time Indycar competitors.

"I looked at the times and, frankly, for his first ever qualifying for Fernando to be fifth — what does that say about Indy?" the Mercedes driver told France's L'Equipe.

However, Hamilton defended his former McLaren teammate's decision to tackle Indy.

"A great driver, if he cannot win in formula one, will look for other races to win," said the Briton, before smiling. "But to see him fifth against drivers who are there all year is … interesting."

2017 Ferrari 'has no weak points' – Gene

Marc Gene
Marc Gene

(GMM) Ferrari's 2017 car has "no weak points".

That is the claim of the Italian team's long-time test driver Marc Gene, as Ferrari enter the Monaco grand prix weekend as favourite.

"We knew our car was good from the start, but there are always doubts," the Spaniard told the Spanish sports daily Diario Sport.

"Under Arrivabene's management we were asked to be cautious, remain very focused and not be influenced by others. But now, after five races, we have proved that we are fast on all kinds of circuits and conditions.

"And that is what you need to fight for a championship," Gene insisted.

"This Ferrari has no weak points."

However, he acknowledged that Ferrari will often struggle to compete with Mercedes on Saturdays this year.

"In qualifying we know that Mercedes uses a more aggressive engine map and are aware that it will cost us some poles," said Gene.

But he tipped the fight for the 2017 world championship to remain exciting anyway.

"We will see the cars develop but I honestly believe that it will not be decided until the last race," said the former Minardi and Williams driver.

Some F1 tracks like 'carparks' – Wolff
(GMM) Toto Wolff has admitted he would not necessarily miss some F1 circuits if they fell by the wayside.

The sport's new owners Liberty Media have hinted at adding more races to the calendar, but Mercedes chief Wolff said the main thing is that the most exciting grands prix are protected.

"Some circuits are like airports or supermarket carparks," he is quoted by Italy's Corriere della Sera.

"Fortunately there are Monaco, Spa, Monza and Suzuka where courage counts and you cannot afford mistakes."

The Italian newspaper said the results of the latest F1 fan survey were revealed at Monaco, and it showed that Monaco and Spa were voted the most important tracks.

At the bottom of the list were Bahrain, China and Russia.

Magnussen not worried over court date

Magnussen has worried look on his face
Magnussen has worried look on his face

(GMM) Kevin Magnussen sounds unconcerned about the prospect of heading to court next week.

Recently, we reported that the Haas driver's ousted former manager Dorte Riis Madsen is pursuing a claim against Magnussen for current and future earnings.

The Copenhagen proceedings are set to begin next week.

"I'm not thinking about it right now and I have nothing to say at this time," Magnussen told Ekstra Bladet newspaper in Monaco.

"I don't know much about the case but I will get more insight in the coming week. At the moment I don't even know if I have to show up," the 24-year-old said.

In the paddock itself, the Danish driver is quite popular.

"I'm a big fan of Kevin's," F1 veteran David Coulthard told the Danish broadcaster TV2.

"So far he's just found it difficult to show his talent, as he has either not been at the right team or not been with a team for long enough."

The small American team Haas appears happy with former McLaren driver Magnussen, who switched from Renault for 2017 and beyond.

"We are a small team and he is a driver that fits well with that," owner Gene Haas said in Monaco. "It seems that we are a good match.

"But I think both drivers are equal," the American billionaire added.

"Romain Grosjean has a very different driving style, but over a full season I think they are very evenly matched."

Hamilton admits 'too old' for MotoGP switch
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has declared himself "too old" to make the switch to MotoGP racing.

On several occasions in the past, the triple world champion has expressed interest not in the Indy 500 or Le Mans, but F1's spectacular two-wheeled equivalent.

"I love MotoGP!" the Mercedes driver told France's L'Equipe.

"It would be great, but I'm too old.

"I respect the competition too much to try to match those guys who've built their careers around that discipline. Even if I had all the right lines, I would never do as well as they do."

Hamilton continued: "Valentino Rossi could have had a career in F1, but he would have had to start as I did, as a child.

"I had a cross-country motorcycle when I was young but my father told me that I would never ride bikes in competition."

Ricciardo not ruling out Red Bull exit

Ricciardo ready to bolt?
Ricciardo ready to bolt?

(GMM) Daniel Ricciardo is not ruling out leaving Red Bull to drive for another F1 team.

That is despite the repeated claims of Red Bull officials who say the Australian and his teammate Max Verstappen have "watertight" contracts for 2018.

But the affable Australian Ricciardo expressed some frustration that Red Bull is not in a title-challenging position so far this year.

"Obviously now it gets to that point where we really – and I – want to be fighting for a championship," he told Fairfax Media in Monaco.

"It can't kind of be a long-term plan anymore to me.

"Obviously I thought this year would be a chance and that seems to be slipping away," said the 27-year-old. "So we have got to see some real progress over the year and a sign that next year it can be delivered, because it is just, obviously, personal goals."

Asked directly about the prospect of leaving Red Bull, however, Ricciardo said: "At the moment, no.

"I don't really know what they are going to do, to be honest. It is all pretty much a closed book I guess at this stage. So yeah, I would say it is still an unlikely for next year."

Button hints at Vandoorne future

Stoffel Vandoorne, has check will drive
Stoffel Vandoorne, has check will drive

(GMM) With a single comment, Jenson Button has fired speculation of a full-time return to F1, and cast doubt on the future of Stoffel Vandoorne.

The 'retired' 2009 world champion is back on the grid at Monaco this weekend, filling in for the Indy 500-racing Fernando Alonso.

Alonso's contract runs out at the end of the year, but it was believed Belgian rookie Vandoorne had a long-term agreement with McLaren-Honda.

"I have a contract to drive in 2018," Button, the reserve driver in 2017 and 2018, said at Monaco.

"I think I'm the only McLaren driver with a contract for the coming season," he added.

Realising he may have misspoken, Button then said: "I don't know, it's just a feeling, not a fact. We'll see."

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