Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Mick Schumacher
    Mick Schumacher

    Mick Schumacher admits father 'my idol'

  • High costs hurting F1 'show' – Todt
  • Stroll expects more difficult races in 2017
  • No F1 return for Bridgestone
  • McLaren contract stopped Alonso talks – Wolff
  • Fast Ferrari means Vettel will stay – Haug
  • Raikkonen will struggle to catch Vettel – Lauda
  • Pundits doubt McLaren will ax Honda
  • Red Bull heir enjoys jet-set life 4 years after hit-and-run
  • Vettel: Ferrari work starting to pay off

Mick Schumacher admits father 'my idol'
(GMM) Mick Schumacher has broken his long public silence about his father, admitting the F1 legend and former Ferrari and Mercedes driver is "my idol".

Schumacher, who has just turned 18, is stepping up to the highly competitive European F3 series this year, which is widely regarded as a potential final step before formula one.

"My idol is my dad," he said in an interview for the German broadcaster RTL.

"Simply because he is the best. He is my role model."

And Schumacher said his goal is clearly to emulate what his father – seven time world champion Michael Schumacher – achieved.

"My goal is to become formula one world champion," he said.

Mick is already working as a brand ambassador for Mercedes, but he also has an open invitation to join Ferrari's young driver program.

"I'm doing it my way for the moment," he said. "What the future brings, we'll see."

High costs hurting F1 'show' – Todt

Jean Todt and his silly awful sounding hybrid engines have driven F1 costs through the roof and not added a single new fan to the grandstands
Jean Todt and his silly awful sounding hybrid engines have driven F1 costs through the roof and not added a single new fan to the grandstands

(GMM) As far as the F1 pecking order is concerned, Jean Todt says he likes what he has seen so far in 2017.

"It's good," he told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, "because a competitive Ferrari is essential for formula one."

And the FIA president also said Mercedes is obviously "still very strong" this year.

"There has been controversy about the choice of second driver (Valtteri Bottas), but I never had any doubts about him," said Todt.

"The real problem is another: the gap between the first car and the last."

Todt says the cause of that problem is the discrepancy in budgets between the biggest and smallest teams, with the "loser" being "the show".

One solution, he said, is to clamp down on the sort of simulation tools the most sophisticated teams now use.

"In my day, it was a miracle if you did 5 or 6 laps on the first test day. Now they're doing 70-80 laps without stopping," said the former Ferrari chief.

Todt said the detailed work behind the scenes is "fascinating", but "in F1 we need emotions, action and entertainment on the track, not in the laboratory".

And so when it comes to redistributing F1's vast income more fairly, Todt said he supports Liberty Media.

"We need a different redistribution of income," said the Frenchman. "It is not our problem – the new owners will take care of this – but I think it is clearly a priority."

However, Todt played down early worries about a lack of overtaking in 2017.

He said: "Let's say that it's the price you pay for the fastest cars in the corners and straights that are now more difficult to drive.

"I am sure that Ross Brawn as well as the FIA will address this topic, but for now I will just mention that the overtaking problem has always been there."

Stroll expects more difficult races in 2017

Lance Stroll has check, will drive
Lance Stroll has check, will drive

(GMM) Lance Stroll says he is sure he will have more difficult races as he gets up to speed in F1.

The teenage rookie had a mistake-strewn winter, and he then crashed in Melbourne practice before starting his debut grand prix last.

Stroll admits the much faster 2017 cars are hard to drive.

"When you're in control of the car, it has a lot of grip, but when that grip goes away, it's very difficult to recover," the Canadian is quoted by Brazil's UOL.

"The cars of the last few years were different and you could play with it without losing the car," Stroll added.

And so the Williams driver says he is not disappointed to have been clearly outperformed by his teammate Felipe Massa in Australia.

"I did not expect to compete with my teammate or fight for podiums," Stroll insisted. "I came to Melbourne to see where I was and get more comfortable with the car.

"I know there are 19 more races where many things will work but many will go awry as well," he added.

Stroll won last year's European F3 series, but he admits that the F1 cars this year are much faster.

"Physically it's a beast to be controlled and mentally it's definitely more intense as well," he said.

"The cornering speeds are much higher, the braking zones are much smaller, things happen much faster. It's a big step."

No F1 return for Bridgestone
(GMM) Bridgestone is not looking to return to F1 any time soon.

The Japanese marque was synonymous with the sport in both the 'tire war' and single supplier eras until 2011, when Pirelli took over.

But Bridgestone has just signed up as a major sponsor of the Olympics, with the brand's European chief Robin Shaw saying: "At this moment in time, we've invested our time and resource in the Olympics.

"I don't see us venturing back into formula one in the near future," he told City AM.

"I'm a formula one fan, I enjoy watching it but I'm pleased we've got our investment in the Olympics rather than formula one at the moment."

McLaren contract stopped Alonso talks – Wolff

Fernando Alonso went to McLaren because of Honda
Fernando Alonso went to McLaren because of Honda

(GMM) Toto Wolff says it was mainly a contractual issue that halted negotiations between Mercedes and Fernando Alonso ahead of the 2017 season.

With McLaren-Honda now deep in crisis, but Alonso dropping strong hints that he wants to race on beyond his expiring deal, Mercedes chief Wolff earlier said it was a clash of personalities that made hiring Alonso less attractive.

"You have to see the team as a whole, with its dynamics, and that played its part," he now tells the Spanish broadcaster Movistar.

But Wolff said the biggest issue with the talks between Mercedes and Alonso about the 35-year-old replacing Nico Rosberg this year was purely contractual.

"For me, Fernando is a great driver and a very important person for formula one," he said.

"And yes, we had talks with him, but he is tied to McLaren with his contract and we respect that, so the negotiation did not prosper," added Wolff.

"That was the situation — you have to respect the contracts," he insisted.

Wolff says he sympathizes with Alonso now that the extent of McLaren-Honda's problems this year are clear.

"It is certainly not an easy situation for him, because McLaren is a great team and Honda a great engine manufacturer, but for some reason it hasn't worked yet.

"For Fernando, not being able to fight for victories would not be easy. But we also miss McLaren — it's an important brand for formula one, with great performances throughout history," he added.

Fast Ferrari means Vettel will stay – Haug

It's too early to predict whether Vettel will stay at Ferrari
It's too early to predict whether Vettel will stay at Ferrari

(GMM) The chance Sebastian Vettel will stay with Ferrari beyond 2017 stepped up a notch in Melbourne.

That is the view of former Mercedes chief Norbert Haug, not long after his successor in silver – Toto Wolff – said German Vettel would be a "good fit" at the German marque.

Ferrari, whose contract with Vettel runs out late this year, has struggled in the past two years but the 29-year-old won the 2017 season opener in Melbourne last weekend.

Still, team boss Maurizio Arrivabene is not ready to talk contract extension.

"Talking about contracts now is only distracting the attention of our drivers," said the Ferrari chief.

"But I would like to see Sebastian happy during the season because if Sebastian is happy that means the car is very quick," Arrivabene added.

Haug, now a DTM commentator, thinks the chances of a 2018 Ferrari deal increased for Vettel in Australia.

"If he can see that he can be world champion with Ferrari, he will be comfortable there," Haug told Sporttalk Heimspiel.

"If not, they will have to accept that he will consider a possible change," he added.

"The safest way for him to stay is if Ferrari keeps giving him a car like in Australia," said Haug.

Meanwhile, Haug welcomed the faster cars of 2017 but joined those who are concerned about the difficulty of overtaking.

"We have to create cars that allow the drivers to get closer," he said. "Ross Brawn will work hard so there is more overtaking."

Raikkonen will struggle to catch Vettel – Lauda

Kimi Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen

(GMM) Another win for Sebastian Vettel could set up a very difficult season for his Ferrari teammate.

That is the view of Niki Lauda, who said the gap between Melbourne winner Vettel and his teammate Kimi Raikkonen was "unusual".

"If Sebastian gets a momentum with this victory, then the whole team gets behind him because he is already the several-times world champion," F1 legend and Mercedes team chairman Lauda told German broadcaster RTL.

"Then it's hard for Kimi to catch him."

Even current FIA president and former Ferrari chief Jean Todt agrees, saying Vettel's manner at the Maranello team "reminds me of Michael Schumacher".

"They both have the same thirst for victory that is so great that it can leverage a whole team to succeed," Todt told the German magazine Sport Bild.

"Vettel's victory in Australia was important for formula one," the Frenchman added, "because it means Mercedes finally has an opponent."

Pundits doubt McLaren will ax Honda

McLaren and Honda stuck with each other
McLaren and Honda stuck with each other

(GMM) Two F1 pundits have played down reports McLaren could be about to sensationally dump Honda.

Given the great British team's disastrous start to its third season with the Japanese marque, rumors swept the Melbourne paddock that talks between McLaren and Mercedes have now begun.

McLaren didn't deny it, and team boss Eric Boullier sounded pessimistic that Honda can fix the situation.

"When are we going to have a good engine? I don't know," the Belgian daily La Derniere Heure quoted him saying.

"Honda still has to invent it," Boullier added.

"That they are not happy is quite clear," former F1 driver Christian Klien told Austrian broadcaster Servus TV.

"But this is something they need to solve, because I do not believe they will find a new partner so quickly. There are also contracts that are very important," he added.

Another former driver turned F1 pundit, Christian Danner, agrees.

"While very complicated with these power units, changing engine supplier is technically possible," he told German broadcaster RTL, "but it would be almost an act of violence."

Red Bull heir enjoys jet-set life 4 years after hit-and-run

Vorayuth Yoovidhya
Vorayuth Yoovidhya

The Ferrari driver who allegedly slammed into a motorcycle cop, dragged him along the road and then sped away from the mangled body took just hours to find, as investigators followed a trail of brake fluid into the gated estate of one of Thailand's richest families.

But the prosecution of Red Bull heir Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhya has been delayed almost five years. When Vorayuth, 31, has been called in to face authorities, he hasn't shown up, claiming through his attorney that he's sick or out of the country on business. And while statutes of limitations run out on key charges this year, it's widely assumed he's hiding, possibly abroad, or quietly living locally, only going out in disguise.

He isn't.

Within weeks of the accident, The Associated Press has found, Vorayuth was back to enjoying his family's jet-set life, largely associated with the Red Bull, an energy drink brand co-founded by his grandfather. He flies around the world on Red Bull jets, cheers their Formula One racing team from Red Bull's VIP seats and keeps a black Porsche Carrera in London with a custom plate: B055 RBR. Boss Red Bull Racing.

Last month, social media clues led AP reporters to the sacred city of Luang Prabang, Laos, where he and his family enjoyed a $1,000-a-night resort, visited temples and lounged by the pool.

Critics say inaction in this case epitomizes longstanding privilege for the wealthy class in Thailand, a politically tumultuous country that has struggled with rule of law for decades.

The Yoovidhya family attorney did not respond to AP's request to interview Vorayuth.

He's due at the prosecutors' office again, this Thursday. More at AP Story

Vettel: Ferrari work starting to pay off

Like Schumacher before him, Vettel is helping to rebuild Ferrari
Like Schumacher before him, Vettel is helping to rebuild Ferrari

Sebastian Vettel believes that the work undertaken at Ferrari over the past couple of years is "slowly" starting to pay off, following victory at the Australian Grand Prix, his and the team's first for 18 months.

Vettel arrived at Ferrari off the back of the team's worst campaign in two decades, but won three races during an encouraging 2015 campaign, before regressing last year.

Ferrari failed to win a race in 2016, amid a lack of reliability and performance, though Vettel reckons changes behind-the-scenes during that difficult year are now paying dividends.

"In the end, it was clear that when we started off two years ago, three years ago, that there's a lot to do, a lot to reshuffle – I think the team was at a low," Vettel explained.

"The spirit was very good in the first year, in 2015. I think last year was a very good year. Obviously not for the results but in terms of growing the team.

"It's good also to hit some lows and go through difficult periods – even though it pretty much sucks – if you look race-by-race it's not great, but seeing what happens in the background is important.

"I think people always kept the belief and, as I said, the last six months have been very calm.

"We have done our work and it starts to slowly pay off. Now it peaks and we are at the top [at the Australian Grand Prix] but that's a small achievement."

Vettel, who heads the standings for the first time since 2013, still remains wary of the threat carried by Mercedes, which won 51 races from 2014-16, along with each world title.

"If you look at who we are up against, I think Mercedes has been phenomenal the last couple of years: incredible team effort, incredibly by both drivers," he said.

"I think Valtteri [Bottas] just fitted in and kept doing a fantastic job for the team.

"[There's] no weak link from the outside, not that we can see, so they will be the ones to beat."

Ferrari leads Mercedes by four points after the first round.

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