Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Lewis Hamilton doing his own training
    Lewis Hamilton doing his own training

    Hamilton keeping fit without trainer in 2017

  • Verstappen must wait for faster Red Bull
  • Rosberg would not have beaten Bottas – Lauda
  • Ex boss wants Giovinazzi to replace Raikkonen
  • Alonso could race for five more years – Brown
  • Grosjean sees 'huge potential' despite exit
  • Hulkenberg 'just couldn't overtake' Alonso
  • Sauber baffled at no Magnussen penalty

Hamilton keeping fit without trainer in 2017
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton says he is looking forward to battling Sebastian Vettel for the world championship in 2017.

Since 2014, with Mercedes basically alone at the front of the field, Hamilton's battle were confined to an acrimonious inter-team scrap with Nico Rosberg.

So with Rosberg retired and Ferrari's Vettel now in the fray, Hamilton was asked if he thought the German would be a better challenger.

"Definitely. Definitely," he is quoted by Die Welt newspaper.

Hamilton's answer might be interpreted as a slight against Rosberg, who hung up his helmet immediately after winning the 2017 title.

"This year we will see the best against the best," the Briton said. "The best drivers at the top."

However, some might question Hamilton's hunger in comparison to quadruple world champion Vettel, with the Mercedes driver heading off for 'snowboarding' in the desert this week rather than staying in Asia ahead of next weekend's Chinese grand prix.

But Hamilton insists: "Definitely my discipline has gone up. With my diet, my sleep, all these things."

He revealed that although the cars have got much faster for 2017, he is now doing his physical training by himself — without the aid of a trainer.

"That was the challenge I set myself — could I have the motivation to do it myself? I'll need to keep working, because there are going to be some really tough races this year," said Hamilton.

Verstappen must wait for faster Red Bull

Verstappen learns that F1 is 99% car and 1% driver
Verstappen learns that F1 is 99% car and 1% driver

(GMM) Max Verstappen says he must be patient amid Red Bull's push to catch top two F1 teams Ferrari and Mercedes in 2017.

While some thought the energy drink-owned team was bluffing in the winter, the Dutchman finished fifth in Australia as Red Bull admitted to both chassis and engine deficits.

Red Bull said it is working on upgrades to debut in China and Bahrain, while improvements for the Renault power unit might take until May's Monaco grand prix to arrive.

"If it's frustrating to have to wait so long? That's how it is," Verstappen is quoted by the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. "I can't change anything about it.

"The gap is big," he added, "so we'll have to work hard."

Verstappen said one bright spot is that the new-generation 2017 cars are more enjoyable to drive, but he joined those worrying that overtaking will be particularly rare this year.

One count showed there were just 5 passes during the Australian grand prix, down from two dozen in 2016.

"The cars have become more fun to drive," said Verstappen. "But it (Melbourne) wasn't very exciting. I could have made two extra pitstops without endangering my position."

Verstappen also told the Dutch broadcaster Ziggo Sport Totaal: "I'm not really frustrated because already during the winter I noticed that the car is not quite perfect.

"The most positive thing about the (Melbourne) weekend? The weather."

Rosberg would not have beaten Bottas – Lauda

Bottas did very well inhis Mercedes debut. Can he beat Hamilton?
Bottas did very well in his Mercedes debut. Can he beat Hamilton?

(GMM) Valtteri Bottas is being praised from all sides after his solid Mercedes debut in Melbourne.

"Initially he was a Calimero," joked Italian journalist Giorgio Terruzzi, referring to a popular and cute cartoon baby bird, "but he eventually showed signs of being a Rosberg."

Terruzzi is referring to Nico Rosberg, the driver and reigning world champion who Finn Bottas has replaced on a one-year deal.

The correspondent for the Spanish newspaper El Pais, Manel Serras, agreed: "In the end, (Lewis) Hamilton was defending second from Bottas rather than fighting for victory."

Mercedes' team bosses also approved.

"Bottas did something incredible," team chairman Niki Lauda is quoted by France's L'Equipe. "He did exactly what was expected of him. We made the right choice, thank god."

The F1 legend added: "I don't think Nico would have done better, and in Valtteri's first grand prix for us, that's sensational."

According to DPA news agency, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff agreed: "I am very impressed."

And Germany's respected Auto Motor und Sport gave Bottas a post-race rating of 9 out of 10 — the same as teammate Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Sauber debutante Antonio Giovinazzi.

However, particularly after trailing Hamilton by less than three tenths in qualifying, Bottas admitted he was "angry".

Mark Webber told the Finnish newspaper Iltalehti that's a good sign.

"It shows Valtteri is hungry," said the former Red Bull driver, "and he is putting the pressure on, as he should. If he was really satisfied, that would be the cause for concern.

"Bottas knows that his teammate is really hard to beat, but that's his goal — and that's good."

Ex-boss wants Giovinazzi to replace Raikkonen

Giovinazzi impressed on his last minute F1 debut
Giovinazzi impressed on his last minute F1 debut

(GMM) Antonio Giovinazzi has put himself in pole position for a Ferrari race seat.

That is the view of the great Maranello marque's former boss Cesare Fiorio, after Italian Giovinazzi made his surprise race debut for the Ferrari customer Sauber in Melbourne.

"What Antonio did in Melbourne was outstanding, particularly as he was woken up on Saturday morning to replace the Sauber driver (Pascal Wehrlein)," Fiorio exclaimed on Italian Radio Anch'io lo Sport (Rai).

Giovinazzi finished second in last year's GP2 championship and is now Ferrari's new reserve driver.

"I have followed him for 4-5 years and he is definitely the best talent we (Italy) have and is ready for formula one. Ferrari did well to put him under contract and I hope they will give him a chance."

Fiorio said Giovinazzi, 23, is an obvious candidate to replace Kimi Raikkonen for 2018.

"His (Raikkonen's) last season with Alonso and the first with Vettel were embarrassing, although he recovered last year with Vettel.

"But by the end of the season, he starts to be a driver at 38, 39 years old and then I think it's time to conclude his adventure at Ferrari," he added.

Finally, Fiorio hailed Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel's opening race of the 2017 season in Melbourne.

Referring to German Vettel in 2016, he said: "Last year was the result of anxiety — he did a very bad season. So it was important for Vettel to let everyone know he is a four time world champion.

"And Ferrari also had to show Mercedes that this year they will put them in great difficulty.

"It was said that without British engineering you cannot go anywhere, but instead (Sergio) Marchionne's team of young engineers was the winning choice.

"Now comes the hard part," added Fiorio, who ran Ferrari at the end of the 90s. "With the new rules, they must add a tenth at each grand prix, so two seconds by the end of the season.

"If Ferrari can do this they will remain competitive, if not they will stay where they were before. It will take a great effort in the area of aerodynamics," he said.

Alonso could race for five more years – Brown

Alonso could race fr 5 more years, but it won't be with McLaren
Alonso could race for 5 more years, but it won't be with McLaren

(GMM) McLaren would be willing to sign up Fernando Alonso for five more years, new team executive Zak Brown has hinted.

The Spaniard has been with McLaren-Honda since he left Ferrari after 2014, but he is now letting his frustration with the hapless Anglo-Japanese collaboration show.

But Zak Brown, McLaren's new executive, thinks there is a chance Alonso will stay for more in 2018.

"He's very motivated and fit — he has five years ahead of him if he wants it," the American is quoted by the Spanish sports daily Marca.

"I'm very keen for him to stay and I think he will if we give him a car," Brown added.

As for Alonso's obvious signs of frustration, Brown responded: "No one is more desperate to win than Fernando.

"But he has behaved impeccably. He has said what he feels because the facts are the facts and he is the best driver in the world," he added.

Grosjean sees 'huge potential' despite exit

Grosjean locks a wheel in the VF-17
Grosjean locks a wheel in the VF-17

Romain Grosjean expressed confidence that Haas' VF-17 has "huge potential", despite the team suffering a double retirement at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Grosjean, having qualified in sixth position, as the quickest of the midfield pack, slipped behind Williams rival Felipe Massa at the start, but was able to maintain seventh during the opening phase.

However, Grosjean's race came to a premature end when his car developed a water leak, the cause of which is still being investigated.

The Frenchman is nonetheless confident that Haas has a strong package and believes it is now important for the team to emerge with consistency, compared to its 2016 form.

"I suddenly lost a lot of power, I told the guys, then the next thing I knew I had to slow down the car," Grosjean said, reflecting on his exit.

"It's a pretty disappointing result, but the car was there in qualifying in sixth.

"The start wasn't ideal, so we need to improve that. I felt I was faster than the Williams, so there's huge potential in the car.

"I guess the key for us is to keep the momentum and get the consistency we didn't have last year, where I'd be fifth in Bahrain then 19th in China.

"I really want to improve on that and get more consistency in terms of results.

"If we do that, then I'm sure there are going to be plenty of races where we can score good points; we've got a great car, so no matter what, we're going to be there this year."

Haas team-mate Kevin Magnussen clashed with Marcus Ericsson on the first lap and retired later on due to a suspension failure.

Hulkenberg 'just couldn't overtake' Alonso

Hulkenberg got stuck behind the McLaren slug but could not pass it.
Hulkenberg got stuck behind the McLaren slug but could not pass it.

Renault's Nico Hulkenberg was left frustrated after dropping behind McLaren-Honda rival Fernando Alonso on the opening lap of the Australian Grand Prix.

Hulkenberg lined up from 11th place on the grid and was in the thick of the midfield action on the first lap, as he challenged Daniil Kvyat through the second sector.

However, Hulkenberg had to back off and lost out to Alonso, before he was jumped in the pit-stop phase by Esteban Ocon, as the trio ran line astern.

Ocon eventually overhauled Alonso to climb into the top 10, with Hulkenberg following him through, as he finished 11th, just a second down on his Force India replacement.

"The conclusion from my first race with the team is that we are firmly in the midfield and we're looking forward to continuing to improve," he commented.

"My first lap wasn't great as I tried to get Kvyat on the outside of Turn 13 but he squeezed me wide and I lost a position to Alonso.

"There was not much I could do about him, even though I was a lot faster as I just couldn't overtake.

"I had a very positive last stint on the Ultra Soft tires with the car getting better and better, although it wasn't quite enough to gain another position.

"My battle with Ocon and Alonso was a lot of fun, I had massive double tow from them, so I gave it all with overtake mode and DRS, it was quite spectacular.

Team-mate Jolyon Palmer started from the back row of the grid and retired due to a brake problem.

"My race was going well, I made places at the start despite being on the hardest tire, my pace was pretty reasonable and I could see Nico and Esteban ahead of me," he said.

"Unfortunately, my brakes stuck on at Turn 14. We hoped it was just a glitch, but it happened again so we had no alternative other than to retire."

Sauber baffled at no Magnussen penalty

Magnussen ruined Ericsson's race
Magnussen ruined Ericsson's race

Sauber Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn blasted an "incomprehensible" decision by the stewards not to penalize Kevin Magnussen, following a collision with Marcus Ericsson in Australia.

Magnussen tipped Ericsson into a spin on the opening lap at Albert Park, with the duo coming together at Turn 3 and running into the gravel, compromising the races of both drivers.

The stewards opted to investigate the incident, but ultimately took no further action; both drivers went on to retire from the race, Ericsson with a hydraulic failure related to the clash.

Stewards' decision in full:

"The stewards noted that Magnussen moved to the inside to avoid Ericsson, and Magnussen followed a very similar line to the car in front of him. Ericsson did leave enough room, and Magnussen, who was fully on the inside, took a reasonable line, but unfortunately the action of the curb forced him wide and caused the collision. The stewards determined that this was a racing incident, and neither driver drove in violation of Article 27.4. No further action was warranted."

Kaltenborn, though, was perplexed by the call.

"Marcus' race was ruined after the start in Turn 3," she said.

"The situation there was clear-cut, so it is incomprehensible why the stewards didn't react to the incident."

Magnussen, who retired with a suspension issue which Haas said "likely stemmed from the incident with Ericsson", offered his side of the story.

"I had Ericsson on the outside and I understeered into the side of him, which was unfortunate," he said.

"I lost my front wing and damaged the car a little bit."

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