Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Hockenheim is back but for how long?
    Hockenheim is back but for how long?

    Hockenheim admits German GP future not safe

  • Honda crisis threatens McLaren future – Webber
  • Liberty bought F1 to end 'crisis' – Carey
  • Hulkenberg tips Ferrari for title
  • Berger believes in Schumacher 'miracle'
  • No 'brutal' team orders at Mercedes – Wolff
  • Verstappen 'cannot switch to Ferrari' – Marko
  • Mercedes reveals W08 identification tweaks
  • Ferrari use filming day at Mugello for practice starts
  • Hamilton: Could retire soon, it could be far away

Hockenheim admits German GP future not safe
(GMM) Hockenheim boss Georg Seiler admits the future of the German grand prix is not secure beyond next year.

Amid the Nurburgring's troubles, the country is not on the calendar this year, but Hockenheim is at least scheduled to host the race in 2018.

But Seiler told the German news agency DPA: "We will not conclude a contract for the future that involves any risks."

He is referring to the fact that the existing contract, an alternating scheme devised by Bernie Ecclestone, has nonetheless put financial strain on Hockenheim.

"From an economic point of view, we had to accept losses through formula one, which had a significant impact on our results in recent years.

"We also do not get a single euro of subsidy from the region, country, federation or anyone else, unlike just about every other race track," said Seiler.

So when asked if there will be a German grand prix in the future, he answered: "For me it's clear. We have a contract for next year, but after that not.

"If we follow the previous rule, 2019 it would be the Nurburgring's turn and us in 2020 again. But only if the contract fits.

"If the basic conditions do not change, the future of formula one in Germany is certainly at risk," Seiler added.

"If we can at least break even, that would be alright. But if there is no more formula one, then so be it. However I hope and firmly believe that the new (F1) owners have an interest in having a German grand prix.

"Germany is an important market for formula one, no matter what circuit it takes place at," he said.

Honda crisis threatens McLaren future – Webber

McLaren in trouble with no good engine
McLaren in trouble with no good engine

(GMM) McLaren's performance crisis is risking the entire future of the great British marque.

That is the concern of former F1 driver Mark Webber, who thinks the only figure who can be at least fairly relaxed amid the situation is Stoffel Vandoorne.

"I predict a good career for him," the Australian is quoted by Spain's Marca.

"He's lucky to be with Fernando Alonso. Right now Fernando is in charge there and he's a great model for Vandoorne."

More generally, however, Webber is worried that Honda's reliability and performance crisis is endangering McLaren's very existence.

"That team does not exist to be 14th," he said.

"They have to find a solution very quickly because McLaren as a company could see their future threatened."

Amid the crisis, Webber's friend Alonso has elected to skip Monaco later this month to try to win the Indy 500.

"Alonso's decision to skip Monaco shows who's really running McLaren at the moment," said Webber.

"His relationship with them is clearly at a critical point. Honda has to raise its level of performance or McLaren will have to accept that a driver change is inevitable."

Liberty bought F1 to end 'crisis' – Carey

Carey (c) says they bought F1 to save it from crisis
Carey (c) says they bought F1 to save it from crisis

(GMM) Liberty Media decided to buy F1 because it saw potential amid the sport's "crisis".

That is the claim of Chase Carey, who has replaced long-time F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone as the sport's chief executive.

Asked by the Spanish daily AS why Liberty bought F1, American Carey answered: "Firstly because we believed that formula one, one of the most global sporting events, had entered a great crisis and needed a renewal.

"The second reason is that in the last six years, F1 had lost even economic potential. The sport is also a business and we can help it to grow also on the digital side, which has been forgotten until now."

And so Carey said change is looming for formula one, even though there is no immediate rush.

"We want to respect the history of the sport but always keep searching for new paths," he said.

"My real goals are for 2020. I am more concerned about what this sport will be like in three years rather than in three months."

Carey also responded to recent speculation that Turkey could be set to return to the calendar.

"It's a good circuit and we have to look carefully at each destination, whether it be the US, Asia or Europe and decide whether to keep 21 races or expand," he said.

Hulkenberg tips Ferrari for title

Nico Hulkenberg
Nico Hulkenberg

(GMM) Nico Hulkenberg has hailed the fight at the top of formula one this year.

The German is impressing after switching to the renewed and improving French works team Renault for 2017, but he admitted his eye has also been on the exciting fight for the title.

"Not for a long time have the top two teams been so close together," Hulkenberg told Germany's Sport1. "It's a very good battle for formula one.

"Mercedes has been consistently at the highest level for years, but I'm extremely impressed with Ferrari at the moment," he added.

"They've built a super car and that's why I'm going to tip Ferrari," Hulkenberg added.

"But both teams are in a position to win. Who will ultimately become world champion is impossible to predict."

Berger believes in Schumacher 'miracle'

Michael Schumacher needs a miracle
Michael Schumacher needs a miracle

(GMM) Gerhard Berger says he believes his F1 contemporary Michael Schumacher will one day recover from his brain injuries.

Little is known about the seven time world champion's current condition following a 2013 skiing fall, but it emerged in court last week that he still cannot walk.

"I believe in the miracle and very much hope that we will soon hear positive news from Michael," Berger, the new DTM series boss, told the German newspaper Kolner Express.

The report said Berger is in contact with Schumacher's wife Corinna and son Mick.

"How Corinna and Mick deal with this difficult situation is admirable," said the former Ferrari and McLaren driver.

"I think it's a wonderful story that Mick has listened to his heart and wants to take on the racing profession," added Berger, referring to the 18-year-old's foray in European F3 this year.

"Of course Michael's footprints are enormous, but Mick has the talent and the right environment to deal with the pressure. He is a Schumacher and he knows what he's doing."

No 'brutal' team orders at Mercedes – Wolff

What will Mercedes do if Bottas keeps beating Hamilton?
What will Mercedes do if Bottas keeps beating Hamilton?

(GMM) Toto Wolff says Mercedes is reluctant to issue any "brutal" team orders this year.

Before he won in Russia, closing the points gap to his teammate Lewis Hamilton to just 10 points, team newcomer Valtteri Bottas was asked to move aside in Bahrain.

But Mercedes boss Wolff says orders will be used as rarely as possible.

"The topic is rightly very controversial — nobody wants to see it," he told the German news agency SID.

But he also said recently that, after three years of dominance, Mercedes now needs to tweak its approach.

That is because the new rules "put everything back to zero", and Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel did an "exceptionally good job".

"There may be situations where one of the two is faster for whatever reason and we must think of the team winning the race," said Wolff.

But he said the days of crude position-swapping like Schumacher-Barrichello in 2002 are over.

"No, I think that was a different era. Such brutality of team orders is not our intention," said Wolff.

But Wolff said he is proud the top two teams are clearly ahead of all other 2017 challengers.

"This is clear proof of our strength as a team," said Wolff.

And he said it's good for F1 that the two drivers at the top of the championship at the moment are Vettel and Hamilton.

"For the championship it's a good thing that the drivers with the biggest personalities and almost 100 wins between them fight for the title," said Wolff.

He also said he is happy with how Bottas is settling in.

"It's crazy that after three races some were saying he is the 'number 2' of the team," said Wolff. "It was a risky step for him to arrive at the champion team with Hamilton as his teammate.

"But after four races he deserves to have a pole and a win," he added.

Verstappen 'cannot switch to Ferrari' – Marko

Verstappen stuck at Red Bull
Verstappen stuck at Red Bull

(GMM) Red Bull insists there is no risk it could lose Max Verstappen to a rival team like Ferrari before his contract runs out.

Former F1 driver Martin Brundle this week said he can sense the 19-year-old's "frustration" this year, as Red Bull struggles to match Ferrari and Mercedes.

So there are rumors Verstappen could be poached by Ferrari, whose contracts with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen run out late this year.

Although Dutchman Verstappen is under contract for 2018, one rumor is that his deal contains a clause that might let him leave Red Bull for performance reasons.

But Red Bull driver manager Dr Helmut Marko told Germany's Auto Bild: "Contrary to all rumors, there is no performance clause in Verstappen's contract.

"If we do not release him, he cannot switch to Ferrari."

Mercedes reveals car identification tweaks

You can finally see the numbers
You can finally see the numbers

Reigning World Champions Mercedes has revealed minor tweaks to its livery, to align with the FIA's request for easier driver identification from this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix.

During last month's meeting of the F1 Commission and Strategy Group it was decided that regulations dictating that driver names and personal numbers on cars must be clear would be strictly enforced.

Mercedes took to social media on Wednesday to reveal that the three-letter identifications used for its drivers – 'HAM' for Lewis Hamilton and 'BOT' for Valtteri Bottas – will be displayed on the W08.

The three-letter abbreviations will feature on the 'shark fin', alongside each driver's personal number – 44 for Hamilton, 77 for Bottas – along with their flag of their respective nations.

Mercedes has also changed the coloring on Bottas' number from red to dark blue, aiding the identification process.

Other teams are expected to follow suit, with similar tweaks expected when the drivers appear for practice at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Friday morning.

Ferrari use filming day at Mugello for practice starts

Ferrari tests starts
Ferrari tests starts

Ferrari conducted ‘film day’ at Mugello last week as they prepare to take the fight to Mercedes at the forthcoming Spanish Grand Prix.

Speedweek report that the outing was more akin to a test than a promotional filming day with both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen in attendance.

Formula 1 rules allow teams to conduct two film days per season, in which cars cannot cover more than 100 km and must use hard tires with little resemblance to the rubber on offer currently from Pirelli.

Typically it is a time when teams shoot footage and take photos of their cars and drivers for promotional purposes.

But Ferrari are said to be working overtime to address their tardy starts, a factor that may have cost them the race at the Russian Grand Prix.

Despite qualifying one-two for the race at Sochi, a first Ferrari front row since 2008, both Vettel and Raikkonen were slow off the line while Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas out-dragged them into Turn 2 and went on to win the race.

Stung by this it appears that the Maranello outfit have used the filming day at Mugello to allow their drivers to practice starts.

Vettel hinted at the teams concerns when he spoke to media after the race in Sochi, “Now it’s going to Europe, I see ourselves on top with Mercedes. Everything is going according to plan. Barcelona was good for us in testing, since then the car has become better. Unfortunately we have a long drag to the first corner there…"

Ferrari head to Spain one point adrift of Mercedes in the constructors’ championship standings, while Vettel heads up the drivers’ points table.

Hamilton: Could retire soon, it could be far away

In Russia Hamilton wasn't even on the podium
In Russia Hamilton wasn't even on the podium

Lewis Hamilton’s future in Formula 1 has recently been subject of some speculation, new reports have emerged in Germany suggesting that the triple Formula 1 World Champion might be considering calling it quits when his contract runs out in at the end of 2018, if not earlier.

Well connected Ferrari insider Leo Turrini wrote this week that Mercedes have an option on Sebastian Vettel for 2018 when the German’s contract runs out with Ferrari. Turrini claims the deal was signed before this season started and his source is none other than Niki Lauda.

‘New boy’ Valtteri Bottas delivered his first win for the Silver Arrows, suggesting that the Finn has the pace to be a regular winner and it is highly likely that he his one year contract will be extended.

Thus if Hamilton does decide to quit, within the next two years, Mercedes have their bases covered and are unlikely to be caught flat footed as they were late last year when Nico Rosberg decided to retire after winning the world title.

Hamilton has in the past made no secret that he does entertain the thought of retirement. With a net worth estimated to be around €130-million he is not racing for the money and he is always keen to point out that he has other interests beyond the sport. Music being a big passion.

Earlier this year he mused about retirement in an interview on Channel 4, “I’ve thought about how I’d make the decision, about when the right time would be."

“I have some sort of plan about what I want to accomplish before making the decision to retire.

“I’ve worked hard to have a life outside the track in recent years, so when I stop it will not be such a big difference."

“Some drivers focus only on racing, and when they stop competing there is nothing more for them. So I’m very aware I am building my brand in preparation for when I retire."

“I don’t think about retiring a huge amount, but of course I do think about it"

“At the end of each season and particularly at the beginning of each season, when you’re going through the tough training."

“I really don’t know when is going to be the time. It could be soon, it could be far away. That’s the exciting thing about life," Hamilton added cryptically.

Leave a Reply