Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Alonso wearing his McLaren 'Honda' at
    Alonso wearing his McLaren 'Honda' at

    McLaren's 'one problem' is Honda – Alonso

  • Alonso hints he will race beyond 2017
  • F1 needs Schumacher-like 'heroes' – Brawn
  • Renault advisor Prost 'big fan' of Sainz Jr.
  • Villeneuve backs Stroll sponsor deal
  • Father worried about pressure on Verstappen
  • Perez confirms winter struggle for Force India
  • F1 won't return to V10 engines – Todt
  • Todt undecided over third FIA presidency term
  • Ferrari faster than Mercedes – Lauda
  • Renault engine set for Melbourne fix – Verstappen
  • Massa: 1.5s faster than Sauber but couldn't pass

McLaren's 'one problem' is Honda – Alonso
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has isolated Honda as the only missing piece in his quest to get back to winning in F1.

McLaren's works partner is struggling yet again at the beginning of its third consecutive season with the British team, and Alonso has now made his frustration clear.

Asked if the new regulations mean he is flat-out through turn 3 at the Barcelona test, he joked: "Yes, but I think we are full throttle in many corners!"

As for what exactly is wrong with Honda's project in 2017, the Spaniard insisted ironically: "I think that's a question for Honda. I'm not an engine designer. Maybe I will be one day."

Jokes aside, it was clear Alonso's strategy is not to shield Honda from criticism amid McLaren's situation.

"Everything is working well with the chassis. We only have one problem, which is the power unit," he said.

But the 35-year-old said there is always hope of an improvement.

"Neither last week's specification nor this week's was giving what we believed or what was expected. So for Australia we have to wait and see," said Alonso.

"The situation is similar to last year but it's a bit more frustrating now because we counted a lot on the new regulations. We had hoped to close the gap over the winter.

"In the team, we are all ready to win except Honda," he is quoted by the Spanish press.

Alonso hints he will race beyond 2017

At McLaren Honda Alonso has learned that F1 is 99% car and 1% driver. Without a good car he could do nothing to make it fast
At McLaren Honda Alonso has learned that F1 is 99% car and 1% driver. Without a good car he could do nothing to make it fast

(GMM) Even amid his obvious frustration with the Honda situation, Fernando Alonso has given the strongest indication yet that he will stay in F1 beyond 2017.

Until now, the Spaniard has been making no promises beyond his expiring McLaren-Honda contract.

But he said in Barcelona that even though Honda is lacking "30 kilometers per hour" on the straights at present, he is enjoying driving "in the corners".

"If the others start braking later than me and accelerating earlier, then I know it is time to stop," Alonso, 35, is quoted by the Spanish press in Barcelona.

"But right now the exact opposite is the case. I see myself at the highest level. I feel very good. I also think that with the new cars I can take full advantage of my driving style," he added.

Alonso also indicated that he has no intention of quitting F1 while his results are at a low.

"I will not stop racing without a good feeling that I feel I deserve," he said. "I have prepared better than ever. I really enjoy driving this car and I feel strong, it's just the car does not have the necessary power.

"I am confident that this year we can be competitive, I just don't know when. If everything is in the wrong direction, I will attack next year," Alonso added.

F1 needs Schumacher-like 'heroes' – Brawn
(GMM) F1 must return to an era when the top drivers were "heroes".

That is the view of the sport's new chief Ross Brawn, who pointed to his old protege Michael Schumacher as a perfect example.

"Michael was a hero," the Briton told Sport Bild.

"But hero worship is no longer promoted," said Brawn, although he thinks that will change thanks to his bosses at Liberty Media.

"They come from a world of stars," he said.

Brawn said potential "heroes" are Sebastian Vettel, thanks to fabled Ferrari, but also the "modern rebel" Max Verstappen who has "huge potential to be a hero".

Brawn also has good news for F1 fans from Germany, as the country once again drops off the race calendar for 2017.

"We need the history of formula one, and Germany is part of that," he said.

Renault advisor Prost 'big fan' of Sainz Jr.

Carlos Sainz Jr.
Carlos Sainz Jr.

(GMM) Carlos Sainz Jr. has received a ringing endorsement from official Renault team advisor and F1 legend Alain Prost.

The quadruple world champion said he advised his old team Ferrari last year that it should sign up the Toro Rosso driver.

"I would like to see how he would do in a major team," Prost told France's Auto Hebdo. "I would put him in a Ferrari.

"A few months ago I recommended him to Ferrari so you can imagine that I'm a big fan of his," he added.

Now, Prost works as an official advisor or consultant for the works Renault team, who reportedly already wanted Sainz for 2017 but could not extract him from his Red Bull contract.

Prost said: "Right now we do not think about the drivers for next year. But for me Carlos is one of the top drivers. Many teams are interested in him."

Villeneuve backs Stroll sponsor deal

Stroll happy to have government backing
Stroll happy to have government backing

(GMM) Jacques Villeneuve has defended a new sponsorship deal agreed between the Williams team and the Canadian business jet company Bombardier.

In the Canadian press, Bombardier's backing of Lance Stroll was criticized on the basis that the company has received state funding, while Stroll's father is a billionaire.

"A Canadian sponsor supporting a Canadian driver, what's better than that?" 1997 world champion Villeneuve told the Journal de Montreal newspaper.

"We can't criticize this company for using F1. It's an outstanding showcase," he added.

"What's the problem?" said Villeneuve. "They have to advertise in one way or another, and there is nothing better than F1 for a company specializing in aviation."

And Villeneuve said the Stroll deal would not be costing Bombardier too much anyway.

"If it (the branding) is only on the helmet it's not expensive, especially for a company like them," he said.

Father worried about pressure on Verstappen

Max and father Jos
Max and father Jos

(GMM) Jos Verstappen has admitted he is worried about the pressure that is mounting on the shoulders of his 19-year-old son.

Max Verstappen is now heralded as a rare, Senna-like young hero in formula one, but his father and former F1 driver Jos worries about that mounting popularity and pressure.

"Max can no longer go anywhere he is not recognized," Jos told the Dutch broadcaster L1. "He is under really a lot of pressure.

"The situation is no longer good for Max. His work is six and a half days a week and even that is getting very difficult. All this news coverage is not good for him," he added.

"Of course I'm a concerned father but luckily Max himself stays calm under all this pressure and media attention."

As for Max's chances of wins this year, Verstappen snr answered: "Everyone is optimistic, but we try not to be too excited.

"Ferrari is fast, Mercedes is also very fast, but we are also good. At the same time nobody knows — everybody is trying to hold something back.

"For the world title I think it's a year too early. If Max wins a couple of races I would be more than satisfied. I expect 2018 will be Max's year if everything goes as it should," Jos added.

Perez confirms winter struggle for Force India

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez

(GMM) Sergio Perez has admitted Force India is struggling through the 2017 pre-season.

Fourth overall last year, winter testing for the small Silverstone based outfit has been marred by obvious problems and a lack of pace.

"It is all solvable, but we need time," Mexican Perez is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

"Hopefully we'll get it under control for Melbourne or the second race," he said.

Perez said the basic problem is missing rear grip and poor handling.

But he insisted: "It is not so important where you are at the Barcelona test, but where you end up in Abu Dhabi.

"There's a long way to go with these cars. The development speed will be fast."

F1 won't return to V10 engines – Todt

Jean Todt should really retire
Jean Todt should really retire

(GMM) Jean Todt has ruled out a reversion to screaming V10 engines for formula one.

Liberty Media's new F1 sporting chief Ross Brawn admitted at the Barcelona test that although the faster cars are good, engine sound is still a major issue for the sport.

"I miss the V10 engines," agreed Fernando Alonso this week. "Formula one today has a sound that it does not deserve."

Brawn has indicated that Liberty and the FIA should re-think the current hybrid 'power unit' engine regulations beyond 2020.

But that plan does not appear to have the support of the FIA president.

Asked by the FIA's own Auto magazine about a potential return to V10 or even V12 engines, Todt said: "It would not be accepted by society.

"We have a responsibility to run an organization monitored by global society, and global society will not accept that.

"Indeed, I'm sure if you said 'Let's go back to engines from 10 years ago', many manufacturers would not support such a move. I'm convinced a minimum of three out of four would leave," said Todt.

Todt undecided over third FIA presidency term
(GMM) Jean Todt says he has not decided if he will run for a third consecutive term as FIA president.

The former Ferrari chief took over from Max Mosley in 2010, and then secured a new four-year term covering 2014-2017.

71-year-old Todt's presidency has often been controversial, as he keeps a much lower profile than predecessor Mosley and makes decisions based on consensus.

Asked by the FIA's own magazine Auto if he will stay beyond this year, Todt said: "I have begun to work with my team and our members to make my decision and this will allow me to announce that choice very quickly.

"Of course, with a democratic organization I could have a competitor who beats me. But clearly it's a goal that should be addressed in motor sport, whoever is the leader, to try to bring costs down."

Ferrari faster than Mercedes – Lauda

The Ferrari was fast until Raikkonen wadded it up yesterday
The Ferrari was fast until Raikkonen wadded it up yesterday

(GMM) Niki Lauda has joined fellow Mercedes stablemate Lewis Hamilton in declaring Ferrari the early favorite for 2017.

Before Kimi Raikkonen crashed the new red car on Wednesday, Mercedes team chairman and F1 legend Niki Lauda watched it from the side of the track in Barcelona.

"The Ferrari looks the fastest," he told Auto Motor und Sport. "It is like on rails.

"Our Mercedes is a little tighter in the corners. Ferrari is at the top of my list," Lauda insisted.

As for Red Bull, Lauda agreed that the energy drink-owned team is yet to truly impress.

"So far, they are not the big surprise," said the Austrian.

Renault engine set for Melbourne fix – Verstappen
(GMM) Renault is working hard to solve some problems with its new engine before Melbourne.

That is the claim of Max Verstappen, after Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Renault's own works team suffered a slew of reliability problems with the '95pc new' power unit for 2017.

"I am told that the Renault guys already know how to solve the problem before the season starts in Melbourne," Red Bull driver Verstappen said at the Barcelona test.

"They plan to bring a different version of the power unit to Melbourne, so everything should be in order."

Also not panicking is Jolyon Palmer, the British driver for Renault's works team.

"It's to be expected," he said, "because the engine has been completely redesigned. But it's also been made better.

"Sometimes you have to take one step back to take two steps forward."

On the other hand, Palmer's new teammate Nico Hulkenberg is marveling at the smooth winter being enjoyed not only by Mercedes, but also Ferrari.

"The Ferrari looks extremely reliable and good this year," he said. "I can see how good that car is."

Massa: 1.5s faster than Sauber but couldn't pass

Felipe Massa learned that F1 will be a 'true' parade now
Felipe Massa learned that F1 will be a 'true' parade now

Felipe Massa has highlighted the difficulty the F1 drivers face in overtaking this season, revealing he was “1.5 seconds faster than the Sauber" but still couldn’t pass.

Putting in the laps in pre-season testing, the drivers have been a glimpse of what Formula 1 will be like this season with the new regulations.

And it seems all the concerns regarding overtaking are being realized.

“This is the new Formula 1, overtaking is very difficult," Massa said.

“I was 1.5 seconds faster than the Sauber but I could not pass!

“Behind me was Hulkenberg, and he was faster than me but had no chance to overtake.

“I think we will see less overtaking this year than in the last seasons.

“You lose a lot of downforce when you are behind. You guys will see on the races definitely less overtaking than we used to have."

However, Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson believes that could lead to better battles and “pure" overtaking maneuvers.

“I think there’s still going to be overtaking, though maybe not as much," he told Autosport.

“The last couple of years there’s been a lot, but maybe not the most exciting because it’s been [by using] DRS on the straight.

“I think now maybe there will be less, but more pure than the DRS ‘pass on the motorway’ overtakes.

“If I watch a race, I prefer to see one good battle than 10 DRS passes on the straight.

“We have to wait and see how it works out in the races, but I still believe it’s going to be possible to overtake."

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