F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • VJ Mallya arrested, out on bail
    VJ Mallya arrested, out on bail

    Mallya arrested, bailed in London

  • Mercedes drivers admit tire problems
  • Former boss hails Renault progress
  • Massa accepts Verstappen apology
  • Alonso 'advised badly' in F1 career – Horner
  • Red Bull not letting Sainz go – Horner
  • Ferrari 'hungrier' than Mercedes – Alesi
  • No room at Porsche for Alonso – boss
  • Stroll not getting down about 2017 so far
  • Renault: Aero updates 'bring tangible benefit'
  • Giovinazzi: SF70H run 'a dream come true'
  • Gelael describes 'amazing' F1 test debut

Mallya arrested, bailed in London
(GMM) Force India boss Vijay Mallya was arrested in London on Tuesday.

The news follows the Indian government's attempts to have the former billionaire extradited on corruption and fraud charges relating to huge debts.

India's Hindustan Times newspaper claims the 61-year-old was bailed on a 650,000 pound bond "within hours".

An Indian politician was quoted as saying: "Will it take another dozen years, 15 years, 30 years or our entire lifetime before Mallya is brought back?"

Mercedes drivers admit tire problems

The Mercedes cars struggle when it's hot
The Mercedes cars struggle when it's hot

(GMM) Mercedes' two drivers have admitted the team is struggling with tire problems in 2017.

After three races, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel is leading the world championship, leaving triple back-to-back champions Mercedes to ponder the reasons.

"We have a bit to do at this test," said Lewis Hamilton, after staying around in Bahrain for the post-race test that began on Tuesday.

"We need to improve the car and our knowledge about the tires so that we are in a better position in the next race," he is quoted by the DPA news agency.

The next race in Russia should at least be cooler, with Mercedes more comfortable in China than in hotter conditions like Melbourne and Bahrain.

"The softer compound has been more of a struggle with the tires and also the hotter it is, more of a struggle," Valtteri Bottas admitted. "So it's definitely something for us to understand."

Former boss hails Renault progress

Renault coming on strong
Renault coming on strong

(GMM) Former Renault boss Frederic Vasseur says the French works team is performing well in 2017.

On paper, the black and yellow-colored team appears to be struggling in its second year since the Lotus takeover, scoring just 2 points in three races.

But Vasseur told France's L'Equipe: "I do not share your judgement.

"In pure performance, they are there, and Nico (Hulkenberg) is the perfect driver for a renaissance team."

Indeed, it was Vasseur who selected German Hulkenberg for 2017 and beyond, even if he himself decided to leave Renault amid political problems.

Asked if it's frustrating to now be left with only his Formula 2 team ART to look after, he insisted: "Not at all. There is zero frustration.

"Ok, I worked damn hard last year, as the whole team did, to build something good, and I will not be there when the results come. But I'm a big boy and I made my decision on my own," said Vasseur.

He also said he is not too sad to have said farewell for now to F1, even with its much faster cars for 2017.

"No, what I like is competition, not the car, and the public wants a fight, not a performance," said Vasseur.

But he did admit that the Mercedes versus Ferrari battle looks set to be exciting this year.

"On that I agree," said the Frenchman. "It's nice to turn on the TV on a Sunday without knowing the winner in advance, and it was a long time since we've had two teams, with two world champions, fighting for victories."

Massa accepts Verstappen apology

Felipe Massa
Felipe Massa

(GMM) Felipe Massa has called a close to the latest controversy surrounding Max Verstappen.

In Bahrain, the Dutch teenager hit out at Brazil as a nation following a qualifying run-in with Felipe Massa.

Massa responded angrily, and the Red Bull driver duly apologized via social media.

When asked about the apology, Massa said on Tuesday: "To tell the truth, he was hot headed and said things he should not have.

"But I get along really well with him, I have no problems with him and to be honest, I was only playing with him," Massa is quoted by Brazil's Globo.

"And I think he understood, because he apologized and that's the way it should have gone. He's a cool guy, a great driver and I'm sure with age, he's going to get better," the Williams driver added.

Alonso 'advised badly' in F1 career – Horner

Poor decisions hurt Alonso's career
Poor decisions hurt Alonso's career

(GMM) Fernando Alonso's career has taken a "strange" turn because of "mistakes" in his decision-making processes.

That is the summary of Christian Horner, boss of the Red Bull team.

In Bahrain, Horner joked that Alonso needs a "psychiatrist" after deciding to skip Monaco next month in order to tackle the fabled and dangerous Indy 500.

"I don't really understand," the Briton told the Spanish broadcaster Movistar.

"Monaco is the biggest race of the year, where the engine matters a whole lot less and sometimes it rains and could be his biggest chance of a good result.

"So for the driver to go to another championship in which he has never participated, it's strange, but you have to respect him," Horner added.

But on another level, Horner said he can see how Alonso has been led to his "strange" decision.

"Fernando is frustrated and angry, because he should be driving a competitive car. He is one of the best drivers in the world and it's frustrating for everyone to see him in the situation he's in.

"But it's because he was advised badly or because he made mistakes when he made decisions. Anyway, he's too good a driver to be so far behind — he should be fighting at the front with Vettel, Hamilton, Ricciardo, Verstappen," Horner said.

Red Bull not letting Sainz go – Horner

Christian Horner
Christian Horner

(GMM) Christian Horner says Red Bull does not intend to release Carlos Sainz from his contract.

Last year, the impressive Toro Rosso driver was linked with a move to Renault, but Red Bull elected to keep him at the junior team and as a 'reserve' for the main outfit Red Bull Racing.

"Carlos has a contract with Red Bull, who brought him into F1 and he's there for the investment they made.

"So at the moment we do not intend to release any of our drivers," Horner, the Red Bull team boss, told the Spanish broadcaster Movistar.

"Carlos is developing and the Toro Rosso is a good car that should give him good opportunities. He's still very young but we value him a lot and that's why we don't want to get rid of him," he added.

Horner was also asked about rumors linking Daniel Ricciardo with Ferrari for 2018, but the Briton insisted: "There are always rumors in Italy."

Ferrari 'hungrier' than Mercedes – Alesi

Vettel and Ferrari are hungry
Vettel and Ferrari are hungry

(GMM) The secret ingredient at Ferrari this year is "hunger".

That is the claim of Jean Alesi, a popular former Ferrari driver of the 90s.

After three years of utter Mercedes dominance, Ferrari has won two of the opening three grands prix of 2017.

"The advantage of Ferrari is clear," Frenchman Alesi, 52, told the Swiss newspaper Blick.

"They're hungrier. Mercedes is somehow full and suddenly realizes that it's not so easy to win and are making strategy mistakes," he added.

No room at Porsche for Alonso – boss
(GMM) Porsche has played down claims it will host Fernando Alonso's bid for 2018 Le Mans victory.

The Spaniard is tackling next month's Indy 500, as part of his stated push to win the 'Triple Crown' of motor sport — Monaco, Indy and the fabled 24 hour endurance race.

Reports said Porsche's LMP1 project is what Alonso is targeting for his 2018 Le Mans assault.

But team boss Andreas Seidl told Auto Bild: "We have six drivers with whom we are very satisfied — and with whom we are planning for the long term.

"Alonso is an interesting driver and two years ago we could have put something together. But now we do not have a third prototype — and there are currently no plans to change," he added.

Stroll not getting down about 2017 so far

Lance Stroll
Lance Stroll

(GMM) Lance Stroll says he is not getting down about the difficult start to his F1 career.

The Canadian teen, already under pressure after a mistake-strewn winter and claims he is a 'pay driver', struggled in Australia and China as his race career kicked off with Williams.

And there was more trouble in Bahrain, when he called being taken out by Carlos Sainz during the race as "ridiculous".

But before that, he said he was doing well last Sunday.

"I lost a few positions at the start, but then I ran really well on the soft tires," said the Canadian.

"I even managed to do a few passes, even if it all came to nothing because of Sainz."

But he told the Canadian newspaper La Presse: "I console myself by telling myself that the season is still young, and that I still have many more opportunities to recover.

"I'm looking forward to taking my chance," the 18-year-old added.

Stroll is also under big pressure at Williams, where the midfield battle in the constructors' standings with Force India, Toro Rosso, Haas and Renault looks set to be intense.

"I don't have as many concerns as you might imagine," deputy team boss Claire Williams said.

"I think Lance has really proved that he deserves the seat. We are going to give him the space he needs to grow but I don't actually doubt that he's going to be capable of scoring the points that we need him to."

Renault: Aero updates 'bring tangible benefit'

Nico Hulkenberg testing new aero bits
Nico Hulkenberg testing new aero bits

Renault's aerodynamic upgrades, trailed at the post-Bahrain Grand Prix test, have brought a "tangible benefit" to the R.S.17, according to Sporting Director Alan Permane.

Nico Hulkenberg declared that Sunday's race exposed Renault's long-run weakness, after he fell from seventh to ninth, while team-mate Jolyon Palmer dropped from 10th to 13th.

Hulkenberg completed 74 laps on the first day of this week's in-season test, spending the morning working through aero runs, before turning his attention to tire performance.

Permane reflected: "We're very happy with the new aero parts we tried as they bring a tangible benefit to the R.S.17 in terms of general pace and, in particular, race pace.

"The car performed well across the day, with Nico giving positive feedback."

Hulkenberg, who ended the day sixth fastest, added: "It looks like everything we added to the car is healthy and working as we wanted so we were able to improve the car and learn more about it.

"We've found some interesting things; it was a good day, overall very positive."

Renault reserve driver Sergey Sirotkin has been given Wednesday's running.

Giovinazzi: SF70H run 'a dream come true'

Antonio Giovinazzi
Antonio Giovinazzi

Antonio Giovinazzi says that a childhood dream came true after he drove Ferrari's current-specification Formula 1 car on the first day of the post-Bahrain Grand Prix test.

Giovinazzi, runner-up in GP2 (now F2) last year, joined Ferrari as its reserve driver ahead of the 2017 season, providing back-up to race drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen.

He made his first outing in a Formula 1 car at Fiorano in February, when he drove the 2015-spec SF15-T, comparing data acquired during simulator running and on the track.

The Italian went on to contest the first two races of the 2017 campaign with Sauber, racing in place of Pascal Wehrlein, who lacked fitness after injuring his back pre-season.

On Tuesday, he got another run in F1 machinery, this time at the wheel of the SF70H during in-season testing at the Sakhir circuit, ending the day second overall with 93 laps.

Ferrari stated that he displayed "maturity and professionalism" throughout.

"I enjoyed every single lap in the car," commented Giovinazzi after the test.

"To drive the car that won the last race and is leading the championship, working with the Ferrari engineers and mechanics, is a dream I've had since I was little and racing in karts."

Vettel also ran on the first test day, helping Pirelli with development tires, before he returns for a standard program on Wednesday.

Gelael describes 'amazing' F1 test debut
Sean Gelael described his first ever run in a Formula 1 car as an "amazing" experience as he drove for Toro Rosso during the post-Bahrain Grand Prix test.

Gelael, who currently races in Formula 2 with Arden, racked up 78 laps, despite a pair of stoppages, en route to a best time of 1:33.885, enough for eighth on the timesheets.

Toro Rosso will hand the Indonesian, 20, further test outings following the Hungarian and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix.

"Today is a day I will never forget," said Gelael.

"To finally drive a Formula 1 car is something every driver dreams of, and to do it with Toro Rosso makes it even more special – what an amazing feeling!

"This year's car is a beast, it's so quick!

"I settled in nicely throughout the day and we definitely made progress. I was able to complete plenty of laps and get used to the car quickly.

"The power and overall grip is amazing and, compared to the Formula 2 car I drive, the grip under braking and the curb riding are two of the biggest differences I felt.

"Honestly, it's really fun to drive and I'd like to thank everyone who made this possible!

"I now can't wait to drive the STR12 again in a few months' time at the test in Hungary."

Head of Vehicle Performance Jody Egginton praised Gelael for his efforts.

"Today was an opportunity for evaluation of a number of development items, but also a fantastic chance for Sean to sample a current-spec Formula 1 car," he said.

"He acclimatized himself very well, covering a number of test items across a range of tire compounds, gathering some very useful data for the team.

"Sean drove consistently, making no mistakes and therefore should be very happy."

Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr. will drive the STR12 on Wednesday.

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