Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Carey (R) says Ecclestone (L) was too stuck in his old ways
    Carey (R) says Ecclestone (L) was too stuck in his old ways

    Ousted Ecclestone 'couldn't change' – Carey

  • Honda says McLaren relationship 'strong'
  • Wolff carries 'lucky injury' into 2017
  • Rosberg-Hamilton relationship 'negative' – Wolff
  • Carey Lays Out Vision, Says He Wants Drivers To Be 'Stars'
  • Elephant in the room
  • Verstappen: Mercedes, Ferrari ahead of RBR
  • Perez: 'Anything can happen' in Australia

Ousted Ecclestone 'couldn't change' – Carey
(GMM) New F1 chief Chase Carey says he is still in contact with his ousted predecessor Bernie Ecclestone.

But his comments are at odds with the news from 86-year-old Ecclestone himself, as he told the Daily Star newspaper that he is not "worried that these people have not bothered to contact me".

Carey told another British newspaper, The Times, that he speaks with the Briton "once or twice a week" to get "invaluable" insights about the sport he has taken over.

Since being ousted, Ecclestone has given a couple of interviews in which he said Liberty Media initially wanted him to stay as chief executive, only for Carey to take full control immediately.

Carey now tells the Times: "As I looked at it and the way he controlled every decision, down to a paddock pass, it seemed to be really difficult to envisage, having done it for so long, that he could change."

Ecclestone, who is officially 'chairman emeritus', revealed that he will shortly speak with the Brazilian president about race funding, and then attend about half of this year's grands prix.

He said: "I don't bear grudges and I would have been happy to help and I think I could save people a lot of time and money with lots of valuable contacts. But they clearly don't want my advice."

Carey admits losing his role in F1 must be difficult for Ecclestone.

"I assume it's difficult or awkward for him as it was his life. I respect that. We clearly do want to run the business in a different way," he said.

Honda says McLaren relationship 'strong'

All is peachy between McLaren and Honda says Honda F1 boss
All is peachy between McLaren and Honda says Honda F1 boss

(GMM) Honda has hit back at reports its works McLaren collaboration is on the road to tatters.

Recently, McLaren did not categorically deny speculation that, in the wake of a dire winter with the new Honda power unit, it has been in contact with Mercedes about the possibility of an engine switch.

But now, the veteran F1 correspondent Roger Benoit quotes Honda chief Yusuke Hasegawa as responding: "Of course we are not where we want to be.

"But our partnership is very strong. We are completely with McLaren," the Japanese is quoted by the Swiss newspaper Blick.

Benoit also writes that, while Fernando Alonso's trip to Australia was at least smooth, the same cannot be said of championship favorite Sebastian Vettel.

The journalist was on the same flight from Switzerland to Melbourne via Dubai as the Ferrari driver as well as Sauber's Pascal Wehrlein.

"That's a good start," Vettel joked to Benoit as the plane was delayed due to technical trouble.

There was then another delay before landing in Dubai, meaning the passengers missed the scheduled connecting flight and all trace of their luggage.

"It's the second time my luggage has not arrived with me in Melbourne," Vettel shrugged.

Wolff carries 'lucky injury' into 2017

Toto Wolff
Toto Wolff

(GMM) Toto Wolff is carrying a 'lucky injury' into the 2017 season.

The Mercedes chief revealed to the Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper that he recently damaged a disc in his back during a tennis coaching session with his 12-year-old daughter.

"The coach put tennis balls on the court for a sprint exercise. When the coach said a good time was 22 seconds, I thought 'Great, it's about the stopwatch'.

"I started out and thought 'I'm faster'. By the fifth ball I turned around and felt fire. It was a disc," Wolff said.

But there is a silver lining. In 2014, Wolff broke several bones in a cycling crash. In 2015, the 45-year-old damaged his knee at the gym.

Both times, Lewis Hamilton went on to win the world championship.

"It's a good sign for Lewis, because every time I hurt myself, it works out for him," Wolff smiled.

However, in winter testing it was clear that Ferrari has taken a big step forward for 2017, while Wolff is also refusing to rule out Red Bull as a challenger.

"The tests showed that it is tighter between Red Bull, Ferrari and us," he said. "Then there is a gap.

"Our car did not behave as we expected, especially in the second week, but we will only know what is actually going on after qualifying on Saturday," Wolff added.

Rosberg-Hamilton relationship 'negative' – Wolff

Rosberg (L) and Hamilton (R) hated each other
Rosberg (L) and Hamilton (R) hated each other

(GMM) The intense relationship between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg had become "negative" for Mercedes.

That is the claim of Toto Wolff, as he puts a positive spin on the reigning world champions' new driver lineup of Hamilton alongside Valtteri Bottas.

The team boss insisted he was never really angry at Rosberg for suddenly calling it quits after winning the 2016 title, despite having a firm contract for 2017 and beyond.

"Not at all," Wolff told Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper.

"I immediately tried to see the opportunity of the situation. On the one hand, Nico was a top performer who pushed himself and his teammate to top performances.

"On the other hand, the rivalry between him and Lewis had become so intense that it was a negative for the team," Wolff added.

"We always had to deal with the things that came up as a result of these animosities rather than taking care of performance issues, which was not good."

So although names like the fiery Fernando Alonso were mentioned to fill Rosberg's seat, Mercedes ultimate plumped for the quiet Finn Valtteri Bottas.

"I'm expecting some quieter times," admitted Wolff.

"But if Valtteri is really good and the two of them are close to each other, it can be just as difficult, I am under no illusions," he said. "Even Bottas knows that he has little time to prove himself.

"We cannot afford to put someone in the car who is not fast enough and doesn't push Lewis. But his personality played a role. Valtteri is extremely quiet, not political, not manipulative. Pairing him with Lewis is the right combination," Wolff insisted.

Indeed, it is character as well as inexperience that also played against Pascal Wehrlein getting the seat instead.

"He can drive a car very well but he is also an explosive character, like Mr. Hamilton," said Wolff. "In the car that is quite positive, but in combination with Lewis we needed to take into consideration this explosiveness.

"There is one name from history in which there was a real explosion between two drivers. Our Spanish friend (Fernando Alonso) left us with these scars," Wolff added.

Carey Lays Out Vision, Says He Wants Drivers To Be 'Stars'
F1 Chair Chase Carey "has been given the task of turning around a sport" that has lost 200 million TV viewers since '08, according to Rebecca Clancy of the LONDON TIMES.

The Harvard-educated American "has decades of experience of working in sports media," as Rupert Murdoch’s "right-hand man" and exec vice-chair of 21st Century Fox in the U.S. Carey said that he and Liberty were attracted to the sport because it is an "iconic unique global event content" and has "not been managed to its potential."

He said, "There are probably two overriding views. One is that unique global event content will appreciate in value in a world where everything else is fragmenting. F1 is all of that. It’s the sweet spot in the content world. I think the second would be that we think it is a franchise that has really not been managed to its full potential, I guess particularly in the last five or six years." Carey added that the management of the sport "will not be played out in public."

He said, "Generally I’ve always been of the world where you try to get something done and then explain publicly why you thought that was the right thing to do."

Of his broad view of the sport, Carey said, "The top line view I’ve heard multiple times is that the racing needs to be more exciting and less predictable. The rules have become very complicated. Engineers have overtaken the drivers, so we need to push the drivers back to the forefront. …

"We want them all to be stars." [Editor's Note: AR1 has been saying that since 2001 – the drivers have to be the stars, not the cars] There are about 70 employees in the company that runs F1, "mostly working in finance and legal."

Carey plans to keep the organization "lean" but is "likely to double the number of staff" by hiring people in areas such as sponsorship, media, marketing and digital.

Former F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone "openly shunned digital platforms and social media."

Carey is talking to "multiple" cities in the U.S. about hosting a race, including a street race like Monaco and Singapore. He says that he would "like to get another American race on the calendar" for the '19 season, alongside the existing grand prix in Austin, Texas. As it stands, "he is not looking to lose any of the 20 grands prix" on the calendar for '17. LONDON TIMES

Elephant in the room
AUTOSPORT's Glenn Freeman reported F1 Managing Dir Ross Brawn wants F1 to avoid a "Mexican standoff" over its future, but has "hinted that the richest teams should be prepared to sacrifice" their current favorable financial terms.

Following Liberty Media's takeover of F1, "there is hope that revenue will be split more fairly" when new deals come into place after '20.

Brawn: "There's always going to be differences of opinion, there's going to be different views on things and things sometimes get a bit heated. But at the core of it, there's lots of willingness to cooperate.

"The elephant in the room, we all know, is distribution of funds. We don't want to have a Mexican standoff in 2020 to see who's 'chicken,' that's what happened last time" AUTOSPORT

Verstappen: Mercedes, Ferrari ahead of Red Bull

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen has admitted that Mercedes and Ferrari are both likely to be ahead of Red Bull when the 2017 season begins in Australia this weekend.

Mercedes and Ferrari led the way during the pre-season period, Mercedes racking up the most mileage and Ferrari posting the outright quickest lap time.

Red Bull, meanwhile, had a low-key winter, as it struggled for mileage, amid Renault's ERS-specific power unit gremlins, and clocked few rapid lap times.

Verstappen, although optimistic that Red Bull can ultimately be a contender this year, has cast doubt on the team turning up in Melbourne and fighting for honors.

"It is always hard to say who now has the better car, but it is very obvious that Ferrari is stronger than last year," Verstappen told his official website.

"Mercedes is always up there as well. I think that they are not showing their true potential. The past years that was also the case.

"For us, it's hard to say. Personally, I think that we aren't the best team yet, but we need to wait and see

"After qualifying in Australia we will be able to see how it is, based purely on speed. In any case, we are not heading off to Melbourne with the thought of being able to take pole.

"At this moment, I think that Ferrari and Mercedes will be at the front, but hopefully, like last year, we'll gradually get into a better rhythm.

"We can do better, compared to last year, albeit we need to work hard to achieve that."

Red Bull finished second to Mercedes in the 2016 standings, with Verstappen placing fifth overall, behind Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

Perez: 'Anything can happen' in Australia

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez has stressed the importance of being "ready at all times" during the season-opening Australian Grand Prix weekend, as Formula 1 teams get up to speed.

Melbourne, which has often staged the first round of the season since joining the Formula 1 calendar back in 1996, possesses special characteristics as a half-street circuit.

Discussing the fuss around the start of a season, and questions over the pecking order, which are not always answered immediately, Perez said: "It's important not to get distracted.

"We want to start well and get back into the race weekend rhythm, and get on with our work.

"The track itself is quite enjoyable and it's a challenge to drive because it's almost a street circuit. It starts the weekend very green and as you go on, you get more grip and more confidence in your new car.

"I am confident we can do well and score points from the first race: Australia is a place where anything can happen and we have seen some very unpredictable races there in the past.

"You never know what opportunities turn up in a race so you have to be ready at all times to take them."

Perez's team-mate, Esteban Ocon, will be driving at Albert Park for the first time, but feels confident after a smooth adaptation to Force India over the winter and pre-season.

"Of course it's not easy when you don't know the track in advance," said Ocon.

"So it's especially important to learn quickly in the Friday sessions and listen to the feedback from the engineers – whether it's where I can be faster or where we can make the car quicker.

"I think I have all the tools and all the people around me to do that.

"Joining this team has gone very smoothly from my perspective.

"The team welcomed me and made me feel at ease straight away. I feel very comfortable about the way we work and I feel this will help me give my best in Australia."

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