Latest F1 news in brief – Saturday

  • With the higher corner speeds comes bigger F1 crashes
    With the higher corner speeds comes bigger F1 crashes

    All F1 tracks set for 2017 upgrades

  • Ferrari opens door for Mick Schumacher
  • Berger would have picked Wehrlein over Bottas
  • Vasseur not ruling out F1 return
  • Haas blocks early F1 payment for Force India – report
  • Marciello ends F1 dream
  • McLaren to launch car 'right before' testing
  • Hembery expects more one-stop races

All F1 tracks set for 2017 upgrades
(GMM) Every F1 circuit will be tweaked and upgraded to accommodate this year's much faster cars.

That is the news from the governing FIA, whose safety chief Laurent Mekies said he is in the process of informing every promoter on the calendar.

The move has been prompted by data from the F1 teams, showing that cornering speeds will increase by as much as 40kph at some tracks this year.

"Every single track is receiving from the FIA a requested upgrade based on that work," said Mekies.

Mick Schumacher has shown zero brilliance so far
Mick Schumacher has shown zero brilliance so far

Ferrari opens door for Mick Schumacher
(GMM) Ferrari has swung open the door for Mick Schumacher.

Mick is the 17-year-old son of F1 legend Michael Schumacher, who won five titles for Ferrari between 2000 and 2004.

This year, he will enter European F3 for the Ferrari-linked Prema team, but it has seemed more likely Schumacher would actually enter the Mercedes family.

But Ferrari's driver 'academy' chief Massimo Rivola said: "About his (Mick's) future, I don't know what he will decide to do.

"But if he would like to enter the Ferrari program, he will find a red carpet," he told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

What Berger says carries zero weight today
What Berger says carries zero weight today

Berger would have picked Wehrlein over Bottas
(GMM) F1 legend Gerhard Berger says that if he was in charge at Mercedes, he would have signed Pascal Wehrlein for 2017.

The former Ferrari and McLaren driver helped negotiate Nico Rosberg's lucrative new contract earlier this year, but the German quit F1 as soon as he won the 2016 title.

Now, it appears Mercedes has negotiated a complex contract release with Williams so that Valtteri Bottas can replace Rosberg.

But Berger told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport: "I would have taken Wehrlein. Because it would underline your (driver) program.

"Wehrlein gave a convincing impression in the program, but he can only show how good he really is in a top car."

However, Berger said he understands Mercedes' reasoning.

"Compared to Bottas, Wehrlein is certainly a risk. But perhaps the most clever solution is not always the obvious one.

"I rate Bottas highly. He is fast, a good team player, a nice guy and he has earned the chance to prove himself. On the other hand, he did not stand out from Massa enough to say clearly 'He is the right choice'," he said.

And Berger also thinks Mercedes' 2017 solution is only an "interim" one.

"Mercedes needs to think about the future regarding its drivers, because even Hamilton's contract will expire. They need an interim solution with a view to 2018," he said.

"The most important thing now is to find a second driver so that Hamilton doesn't fall asleep. But it could also be that without Nico, Lewis finds the peace he needs and doesn't get himself into trouble.

"I believe Mercedes will again be the benchmark in 2017," added Berger.

Frederic Vasseur
Frederic Vasseur

Vasseur not ruling out F1 return
(GMM) Frederic Vasseur says he might not be done with his F1 career.

The Frenchman says he quit as Renault team boss after a single year because the management team together with Cyril Abiteboul was not effective.

And now in conversation with the French broadcaster Canal Plus, he credited inspiration from Nico Rosberg in helping to make the call.

"During the break, I thought that you should not compromise and you should do what is true to your heart," said Vasseur.

"I thought of Nico, who was not driven by fame or money but by what he wanted to do, and I found that very attractive," he added.

Vasseur said his biggest achievement in 2016 was convincing Nico Hulkenberg to leave Force India in order to drive for the French works team this year and beyond.

"This was the hardest part of my decision," he said, "because I am close to Nico and I put everything into convincing him to join us.

"I think he's one of the most talented drivers of the junior series of the last ten years," Vasseur added. "There were three who won GP2 as rookies: Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Nico Hulkenberg, and I hope that the third will also be world champion."

As for his own future, Vasseur said: "Formula one may be an option, it just depends in what form. We'll see."

Gene Haas
Gene Haas

Haas blocks early F1 payment for Force India – report
(GMM) Force India has suffered a financial blow ahead of the 2017 season.

That is the claim of Germany's Auto Bild, reporting that the Silverstone based team made an application to Bernie Ecclestone for an advance in its prize money.

But Force India was turned down "because Haas voted against it", the report said.

Normally, teams are paid their official F1 money in May, but having suffered cash flow issues in the past, Force India applied for an advance.

"Auto Bild has learned that (American F1 team) Haas refused to give approval for the advanced payment, although all the other teams gave the green light," the report added.

Raffaele Marciello was not considered F1 material because his check was not large enough
Raffaele Marciello was not considered F1 material because his check was not large enough

Marciello ends F1 dream
(GMM) Former Ferrari junior Raffaele Marciello has called off his F1 dream.

After the 2015 season, the now 22-year-old Italian left Ferrari's development 'academy', through which he had worked with the Sauber team as well.

"He (Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene) did not deem me suitable for F1 and so it ended," Marciello said at the time.

He stayed in GP2 last year, finishing fourth overall, but Italiaracing now reports that Marciello is turning the page by switching to GT sports cars for 2017.

"I think it's best not to be too focused on F1, perhaps missing other opportunities," he said.

"I'm still quite young and there are older drivers than me who are continuing to try, but I'm happy with my choice," Marciello added.

The days of a big 'live' launch are just about over
The days of a big 'live' launch are just about over

McLaren to launch car 'right before' testing
McLaren has yet to settle on a launch date for its 2017 car but will likely present it "right before" pre-season testing begins, according to Executive Director Zak Brown.

Four teams have confirmed launches for their new cars, with Renault currently the earliest on February 21, followed on successive days by Force India, Mercedes and Ferrari.

Reports in the Spanish media on Thursday suggested that McLaren could launch as early as February 19, but Brown says the car will appear on the eve of the opening test.

Barcelona will host two tests from February 27 to March 2 and March 7 to 10.

"We've just signed off on the car livery and I think the fans will be excited to find out what the car looks like, both technically and visually," said Brown at the Autosport Show.

"We're working on [confirming] the launch date now.

"It's going to be right before the Spain test, so late February.

"I don't think we've landed on a specific date yet, but we've shown it to the shop floor, to the guys and girls at McLaren, and we're very excited for our future."

Brown says initial reports on the car and engine are positive.

"We've seen the aero reports, which are looking good, and the power reports are looking good," added Brown, who hailed "great progress" from engine partner Honda.

"[Racing Director] Eric Boullier and [Commercial & Financial Director] John Cooper are spending a lot of time in Japan, so everyone is working really well together, pushing hard.

"Obviously 2015 was a pretty painful year for the team.

"2016 was a good step forward, but still not where you'd expect McLaren to be.

"If we can make that same step from '15 to '16, '16 to '17, I think we're heading in the right direction."

Brown is also hopeful that Formula 1's new regulations will deliver.

"The cars are going to be a lot faster and I hope the racing is better and closer," he said.

"I think any time you get a rules shake-up, that means there will be some sort of surprise, someone will get it more right than anticipated and someone might get it more wrong than anticipated.

"I'm looking forward to [testing in] Spain… that doesn't necessarily tell you everything you need to know, as we all end up being on different agendas, but I think it's going to be excellent."

Less pit stops in 2017 means F1 will be even more boring
Less pit stops in 2017 means F1 will be even more boring

Hembery expects more one-stop races
Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery says he is expecting "a lot more" one-stop races throughout the 2017 season, as a result of the manufacturer's heavily-modified tires.

Formula 1 lap times are set to be significantly quicker this year, through overhauled aerodynamics and much wider tires, which supplier Pirelli has been testing extensively.

Pirelli's tires were designed to be much more durable, so that drivers can push to the limit, and Hembery explained that test results indicate a big shift in tire performance.

"The degradation levels will be reduced substantially," Hembery told Reuters.

"And the gap between the compound levels will be much reduced…

"I think the strategy elements that we've seen in the last seasons will be greatly reduced – fewer pit-stops, following a trend that we've seen actually over the last two years.

"I'm quite sure that we'll see a lot more one-stop races [through 2017]."

Hembery is wary, though, that the new tires could be criticized as much as the old.

"It'll probably go the other way and we'll be sat here and you'll be saying 'How does Pirelli feel now that the racing is boring? There's no overtaking and no pit-stops'," he added.

"We've already written that script and we'll see that coming… but we did for six years what we were asked to do – we've been given a different challenge and we're trying to meet that.

"I'm absolutely sure we will see things we want to change during the year."

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