Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Red Bull bossmen Marko(L) and Mateschitz think Red Bull can win by summer
    Red Bull bossmen Marko(L) and Mateschitz think Red Bull can win by summer

    Red Bull targets race wins by Austria

  • Barrichello's son starts car racing career
  • Jos Verstappen arrested after club brawl
  • Verstappen hails new direction for 2021 engines
  • New F1 era means higher interest – Marko
  • Wehrlein to do Friday practice in China
  • Vandoorne sticking with McLaren-Honda amid crisis
  • Hopes high for more passing in China

Red Bull targets race wins by Austria
(GMM) Red Bull is targeting race victories later in 2017, according to team official Dr Helmut Marko.

The energy drink company will host the F1 circus at the Red Bull Ring for July's Austrian grand prix, and Marko said the RB13 could be ready to win by then.

"The basic concept of the car is right," he told Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper, even though Ferrari and Mercedes were clearly faster in Australia.

"We believe we know the area in which we need to work on the chassis," Marko added.

He said car improvements are even ready for this weekend's Chinese grand prix, even though a clearly better Renault engine will have to wait until Montreal in June.

"But in the course of the next races, there should be considerable further chassis developments," he said.

And Marko said a lighter Renault power unit is at least coming two races earlier than Montreal, in Barcelona next month.

"A big update from Renault is only planned for Canada, but we will have a version that is slightly lighter and can be driven in a higher mode for a longer time," he explained.

"This makes us optimistic that we might be able to take the lead by Austria," said Marko.

Barrichello's son starts car racing career

At age 12 with his parents Rubens and Angelica
At age 12 with his parents Rubens and Angelica

(GMM) Rubens Barrichello's son is now beginning his own single seater adventure.

Already, the son of Barrichello's former Ferrari teammate Michael Schumacher – 18-year-old Mick – is climbing his way up the ladder towards F1.

And now, Germany's Auto Bild reports that Eduardo Barrichello will start his own single seater career in May.

Photos have emerged of 15-year-old Barrichello junior having a seat fitting in a Formula 4 cockpit, although Auto Bild said it was not clear in what series Eduardo will race.

The early rumor is that he will contest the Mexican series.

There are plenty of other well-known sons coming up the ranks too. Giuliano Alesi and Pietro Fittipaldi are in the Ferrari program, while Sebastian Montoya, Enzo Trulli, Brando Badoer and the three Wurz sons all race karts.

Jos Verstappen arrested after club brawl

Jos Verstappen (R)
Jos Verstappen (R)

(GMM) Max Verstappen's father was taken into police custody following a nightclub brawl, reports in the Dutch media claim.

De Limburger newspaper said former F1 driver Jos Verstappen suffered facial injuries in the fight, with club staff in Roermond ordering those fighting to leave.

"A man with significant injuries refused," the Dutch broadcaster 1Limburg quoted a police spokesman as saying.

Algemeen Dagblad, another Dutch newspaper, quoted Verstappen's lawyer as saying the 45-year-old was the one who was attacked.

"He was waiting to be picked up. If you are a victim, why do you have to leave?" the lawyer said, referring to Verstappen's arrest.

De Limburger said Verstappen, who last year was involved in an altercation with his own father, said police confirmed he suffered a black eye and facial wound.

A police spokesman was quoted as saying it was expected the former Benetton and Minardi driver would spend the night in jail.

Verstappen hails new direction for 2021 engines

Max wants the scream back
Max wants the signature F1 scream back

(GMM) Max Verstappen has backed F1's move to simpler engine technology for 2021 and beyond.

Last Friday, the manufacturers already on the grid met with the FIA in Paris to discuss a new engine formula for the sport beyond 2020.

But the FIA confirmed that "manufacturers and independent suppliers not currently involved in F1" also took part in the meeting.

We have already reported that one interested observer was Lamborghini chief Stefano Domenicali, representing the Volkswagen brands.

But La Gazzetta dello Sport said Harald Wester, representing Alfa Romeo, was also present.

Alfa is owned by Fiat Chrysler, whose chief Sergio Marchionne also runs Ferrari.

"First, we need to be involved in Formula E because electrification via hybridization is going to be part of our future," he told the FIA magazine Auto.

"The second is to see Alfa Romeo back racing in F1 again someday, because I believe very strongly it's a place the brand should be."

And La Repubblica newspaper reports that Wolfgang Hatz, Porsche's former research and development chief, was also at the Paris meeting.

FIA president Jean Todt said he was "pleased" with the outcome, with parties agreeing that F1's 2021 engines should be simpler, less expensive, louder and more durable.

It would have been music to Red Bull driver Max Verstappen's ears, as he has criticized the sport's current 'power units', according to De Telegraaf newspaper.

"The engines are so complicated that other manufacturers don't dare to come in," he said.

"Look how hard Honda is having it — a brand that was so dominant in the 80s and 90s," Verstappen added.

"I understand that we cannot escape hybrid technology and so on, but it must always be possible for manufacturers to come in, for less money as well. It would benefit not only formula one but the entire auto industry."

New F1 era means higher interest – Marko

Austria GP ticket sales are up
Austria GP ticket sales are up

(GMM) Spectator interest in F1 is picking up as the sport begins its new era.

That is the view of Dr Helmut Marko, a top motor racing official for Red Bull, the owner of two F1 teams and promoter of the Austrian grand prix.

Trackside spectator numbers and TV ratings already got a boost in Melbourne, where the first race featuring F1's much faster cars took place last month.

Now, Marko told Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper that tickets for July's Austrian grand prix are markedly up compared to 2016.

"The rejuvenation of formula one is going in the right direction, which is confirmed in our ticket sales. They are clearly above that of the previous year," he said.

Marko said race organizers will also be able to offer attending spectators more, as new F1 owner Liberty Media is looking to enhance the fan experience.

"There are now activities that are possible that were previously unthinkable," he said, referring to the former Bernie Ecclestone-headed era.

"The fans are now closer to formula one and the drivers, it's a three-day spectacle and we expect a very good number of spectators," Marko added.

Wehrlein to do Friday practice in China

Pascal Wehrlein to try again
Pascal Wehrlein to try again

(GMM) Pascal Wehrlein will return to the cockpit of his Sauber this Friday in Shanghai.

That is the claim of the Italian media, after the German apparently voluntarily withdrew from the Melbourne season opener citing a lack of fitness following his winter back injury.

Wehrlein, backed by Mercedes, was replaced for qualifying and the race by Ferrari reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi, who went on to impress.

But the young Italian said he would be back on duty for Ferrari in China.

"I will be in China dressed in red," said Giovinazzi. "Then we'll see."

However, it emerged subsequently that Giovinazzi will in fact remain on standby for Ferrari-powered Sauber as well.

Ferrari had intended to use the 2016 GP2 runner-up during the 'young driver' tests after Bahrain, but if he races again he will be ineligible.

La Gazzetta dello Sport said last week that Ferrari has agreed to release Giovinazzi to Sauber for the China-Bahrain double header if necessary.

But it appears Sauber's plan is to put Wehrlein back in the car, at least initially in China.

La Gazzetta dello Sport, as well as other Italian sources, report that the 22-year-old will definitely be back in the Swiss team's blue and gold car on Friday morning.

"The session will be to understand if Wehrlein is able to do the grand prix on Sunday or whether it will once again be Giovinazzi," the newspaper report said.

Vandoorne sticking with McLaren-Honda amid crisis

There is no other ride for him in F1, he had better not say anything bad or risk being sacked
There is no other ride for him in F1, he had better not say anything bad or risk being sacked

(GMM) Stoffel Vandoorne insists he is staying upbeat, even though he is making his full-time F1 debut in arguably the slowest car overall in 2017.

"We are last, that is the reality of our true state of performance," the Belgian rookie's famous teammate, Fernando Alonso, declared in Melbourne.

"This is what we will see in China and Bahrain," the Spaniard predicted.

Indeed, it's not as though Vandoorne, 24, is debuting for a F1 backmarker. McLaren is a former grandee whose dire performance could now lead to a split with its struggling works engine partner Honda.

But Vandoorne insists he is upbeat.

"No, the excitement is still there," he told France's Auto Hebdo.

"There are only 20 drivers on the grid and I'm lucky to be one of them and in one of the best teams. So nothing has changed, nothing is affected.

"Yes, we are in a difficult situation, but we are still pushing," said the Belgian.

So Vandoorne said he is in it for the long-haul, and committed to helping McLaren return to its former glory.

"The problems we have cannot be solved quickly, so we need to improve step by step and I'm determined to fight for it.

"We cannot give up, because I'm only at the start of my career. I should learn a lot and get used to the tracks.

"I know that I will be with McLaren for a long time, as we have to work towards having a competitive package in the future," he added.

Hopes high for more passing in China

Looking up the front straight in Shanghai - hopefully it is long enough for DRS to create passes. i.e. the car will be doing the passing not the driver, he just pushes the button
Looking up the front straight in Shanghai – hopefully it is long enough for DRS to create passes. i.e. the car will be doing the passing not the driver, he just pushes the button

(GMM) Hopes are high that Shanghai will host a more spectacular grand prix this weekend.

F1's new era – characterized by faster cars and better tires – kicked off in Australia last month, but some were concerned that almost no overtaking took place.

"Melbourne has always been a track where overtaking is difficult. It's only slightly better than Monte Carlo," F1 legend Niki Lauda told Auto Motor und Sport.

While that is not untrue, in 2016 there were 37 passes during the Australian grand prix, compared to a worrying tally of just 5 in 2017.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen said in the Dutch press: "In Australia, overtaking is difficult. But in China it should work out much better with the long straights."

Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas agrees: "The wider cars make a larger hole in the air.

"So if the straight is long enough, it should be easier for us to get close before the braking point."

So for now, race director Charlie Whiting says the FIA won't make any knee-jerk rule changes on the basis of just a single grand prix.

"We have just one race behind us," he said.

"Melbourne is always problematic for overtaking, and it wasn't possible to extend the DRS zones there anyway.

"But Shanghai and Bahrain are circuits where the straights are longer, so if there are problems there too, we can think about extending the zones," Whiting added.

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