Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Wolff and wife Suzie await first child
    Wolff and wife Susie await first child

    Wolff could miss birth of child

  • Ferrari insiders tip Shanghai struggle
  • Bottas would obey Mercedes team order
  • Alonso to launch fashion brand
  • Berger thinks Mercedes still ahead
  • Raikkonen wants to stay beyond 2017
  • Trulli hopes Giovinazzi gets full F1 season

Wolff could miss birth of child
(GMM) Toto Wolff has admitted he could miss the birth of his child in the coming days.

Back at their home in Switzerland, Wolff's wife and former Williams test driver Susie Wolff is due to give birth on April 10, according to Austrian reports.

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff, however, is in Shanghai for this weekend's Chinese grand prix.

"If I'm not there, she has a good setup around her," he is quoted by the Austrian broadcaster ORF.

Ferrari insiders tip Shanghai struggle

Ferrari fans hope the car is fast on a track like Shanghai too
Ferrari fans hope the car is fast on a track like Shanghai too

(GMM) Two Ferrari-linked figures are concerned the Italian team could face a tougher test for victory this weekend in China.

After a year without victory, Sebastian Vettel put Ferrari back on the top step of the podium in Melbourne.

Gian Paolo Dallara, whose racing car marque is involved with the production of Haas' F1 single seater, said: "It's great that a machine designed by young Italian engineers won.

"Also true is that overtaking on the track was difficult, and Seb was fantastic but he won thanks to the pitstop.

"So let's go slowly, because China could favor Mercedes now," he is quoted by the blog of Ferrari insider Leo Turrini.

And legendary former Ferrari F1 designer Mauro Forghieri added: "Maranello has done an outstanding job, particularly on the rear suspension.

"Although in Australia Ferrari was superior to Mercedes, I doubt they will be in China — but I hope!" he said.

But even if Mercedes does bounce back in China, Vettel's former teammate Mark Webber thinks the German is still likely to be competitive in 2017.

"Tire management is Sebastian's specialty," the Australian told Germany's Auto Bild.

"In Bahrain, Ferrari could be even better, because the temperatures will be higher and the rear tires are heavily loaded."

Bottas would obey Mercedes team order

Bottas will obey no-pass orders
Bottas will obey no-pass orders

(GMM) Valtteri Bottas says that while he would obey team orders, he does not see himself as the 'number 2' driver at Mercedes.

The Finn had a solid start to his new role as Lewis Hamilton's teammate in Australia, but many see Bottas as basically subservient to the triple world champion.

Bottas does not agree.

"We have made it clear from the beginning that Lewis and I get to race in every situation," he told the Finnish broadcaster MTV.

"Only if there are different tactics or a problem, then perhaps the team will give an order. But in general we are allowed to race, as long as it is done honestly and without colliding with each other.

"Our philosophy is that we are racing, and that's how it should be," Bottas added.

So the former Williams driver insists that, if an order from the pitwall does come during a race, he will obey it.

"If there is an order that you have to let your teammate past, it's the worst thing a racing driver can hear," said Bottas.

"But there would always be a reason, which is why there is also a manufacturers' championship. I also have a goal of a long-term future with Mercedes, and I have always been loyal to the teams I drive for," he added.

Alonso to launch fashion brand

Unable to win in F1 with McLaren, Alonso turns to fashion to make some money
Unable to win in F1 with McLaren, Alonso turns to fashion to make some money

(GMM) The signs are growing by the day that Fernando Alonso intends to stay in F1 beyond 2017.

Earlier, before the much faster regulations for this year made their debut, the Spaniard was leaving open the possibility he might retire at the end of the season.

But then in Australia two weeks ago, he dropped a strong hint that he wants to stay.

When asked about reported plans for an expansion of the calendar beyond 20 races, Alonso answered: "We all love racing so I think more racing will always be welcome. But in a couple of years' time."

Many took 35-year-old Alonso to mean that he is on the market for a new contract for 2018 and beyond.

And there are other signs that the former double world champion is staying put.

In Melbourne, Alonso was suddenly no longer wearing the sunglasses of his former sponsor Oakley. Instead, he wore glasses featuring 'Kimoa' branding.

Spanish publication Moda now reports that Kimoa is actually a fashion brand that is set to be launched by Alonso and his manager Luis Garcia Abad.

The report also says Alonso has secured the assistance of auditor KPMG, which is already an on-car McLaren-Honda sponsor.

"The first step will be totally online, so the platform will have a global focus," said Alonso's manager Garcia Abad, explaining Kimoa.

"In 2018 maybe we will consider getting into the physical side."

In Australia, Alonso also made his debut as the only Adidas-sponsored F1 driver, wearing three-stripe branded gloves and boots.

Berger thinks Mercedes still ahead

The Mercedes is till the car to beat says Berger
The Mercedes is till the car to beat says Berger

(GMM) Gerhard Berger says it is too soon to declare Ferrari the favourite for the 2017 world championship.

The Austrian legend spent two stints during his career driving for the great Italian marque, which ended a season-long winning drought with a win in Melbourne.

But Berger told the Austrian broadcaster Servus TV that Mercedes is still very much in the hunt.

"After just one race on a city circuit such as Melbourne, it's always difficult to assess the pecking order properly," he said.

"What I say is that we have to wait three races to get a clearer picture," Berger added.

"But for me it is clear that Ferrari has made a big leap forward, which surprised me.

"I currently see Mercedes ahead in qualifying, and maybe less in the race. But this was more to do with circumstances. I believe Mercedes has maintained a lead.

"But of course, as fans we all hope that the top three teams will all be together, and then we will watch a great world championship," Berger said.

Meanwhile, Berger rebuked Lewis Hamilton for the Briton's recent slight against now-retired reigning world champion Nico Rosberg.

Berger said Hamilton was unfair to have said in Australia that his new head-to-head with Vettel battle is finally "the best against the best".

"I'm sorry, but what Lewis said is of course nonsense," Berger, who last year negotiated a new contract for Rosberg, said.

"In formula one there are a number of drivers like Ricciardo, Verstappen and Rosberg who are all at the top, top level. It's not just about Lewis and Sebastian," he said.

Raikkonen wants to stay beyond 2017

Kimi Raikkonen not ready to hang it up yet
Kimi Raikkonen not ready to hang it up yet

(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen has indicated he wants to stay in formula one beyond 2017.

The 2007 world champion, now 37, has been a solid if not standout performer during his second stint at Ferrari.

But the general perception is that he was outclassed by his respective teammates Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel.

And now, a fresh, young and Italian face is looming on the horizon in the form of Antonio Giovinazzi, and some in the paddock think Ferrari is clearly grooming the 23-year-old for a future at the Maranello team.

Finn Raikkonen, on the other hand, is now the oldest driver on the grid and with only a one-year deal.

But ahead of the Chinese grand prix, Speed Week quotes Raikkonen as saying: "As long as I enjoy driving and my services are desired, I will stay in formula one."

Trulli hopes Giovinazzi gets full F1 season

Antonio Giovinazzi in Melbourne
Antonio Giovinazzi in Melbourne

(GMM) Former F1 driver Jarno Trulli thinks Italian countryman Antonio Giovinazzi kicked off a "promising formula one career" in Australia.

Actually, Giovinazzi had travelled to Melbourne simply as Ferrari's reserve driver, but was ultimately called up to replace unfit Sauber racer Pascal Wehrlein.

"Antonio did an excellent job in Australia," Trulli, the last Italian in F1 before Giovinazzi, told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"A good performance was not a matter of course," the former Renault and Toyota driver added, "because he had to take over a car completely by surprise.

"But he was just a tenth behind his experienced teammate, Ericsson, and even beat him in the first qualifying segment, so he made a strong impression on me," Trulli added.

"In the race he did a very mature performance and a good twelfth place," he said.

Now, 23-year-old Giovinazzi, from Italy's Puglia region, will again race for Sauber this weekend in China, and perhaps beyond.

"This (Melbourne) was the beginning of a promising formula one career," said Trulli. "Now I hope that one day he will have the opportunity not only to do individual races, but compete for a full season."

Meanwhile, Trulli said he was also happy to see Ferrari turn its promising winter season into victory over Mercedes in Australia two weeks ago.

"I had my doubts," the 42-year-old admitted.

"I thought Mercedes had never completely revealed its cards in the winter. But Australia showed that we can look forward to a strong Ferrari.

"It was important not only for the tifosi that Ferrari can again win races, I can say that we will have an exciting world championship," Trulli added.

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