Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Jenson Button
    Jenson Button

    Button says Abu Dhabi 'my last race'

  • Hamilton handshake snub not deliberate – Rosberg
  • Renault recommended Magnussen to Haas
  • Dennis exit 'healthy' for McLaren – Magnussen
  • Sainz unfazed by low media profile
  • Perez not open to sponsor reconciliation
  • 2017 to be 'transition year' for tires – Hembery
  • Hockenheim confirms no grand prix in 2017

Button says Abu Dhabi 'my last race'
(GMM) Jenson Button has admitted Sunday's Abu Dhabi grand prix will probably be his last in formula one.

When the F1 veteran announced that he won't be racing in 2017, he insisted: "To be clear, I'm very definitely not retiring."

But now that the 2016 finale has come around, he admitted to reporters: "I go into this thinking it's going to be my last race.

"At this moment in time I don't want to be racing in formula one past this race, and that's the whole idea," said the 36-year-old McLaren driver.

Asked why he has changed his mind after initially announcing a sabbatical and potential 2018 return, Button insisted: "Nothing's changed.

"It is true that I have a contract for 2018 but at this moment in time I don't want to be racing in 2018.

"The whole idea was for three months, when I've eaten myself stupid and I'm thinking of things to do in the future and I feel like I need formula one back in my life. But at this moment in time that isn't the case," he said.

Rosberg and Hamilton
Rosberg and Hamilton

Hamilton handshake snub not deliberate – Rosberg
(GMM) Nico Rosberg says he and Lewis Hamilton did not deliberately refuse to shake hands as they head into their 2016 title showdown in Abu Dhabi.

Before the FIA press conference, moderator James Allen asked the Mercedes pair to stand for the photographers and shake hands, but they did not do the latter.

But Rosberg later told Bild newspaper: "We were only asked to stand up for a photo. It would have been no problem to shake hands with Lewis."

Actually, the pair on Thursday insisted they have mutual respect, and it is obvious that the open hostility of their previous title battles has gone.

"Obviously we had ups and downs but ultimately, particularly in the last year, I think we've been able to manage it pretty well," said Hamilton.

Rosberg agreed: "We've had some difficult moments but also some good ones and this year I think we've made progress so it's generally neutral but of course a difficult environment."

So both contenders played down any claims 'dirty tricks' could play into Sunday's title battle, including Hamilton backing Rosberg into the chasing Red Bulls.

"If I'm out ahead, I generally want to be as far ahead as possible. That's as painful a blow as you can give to the guy you're fighting," said Hamilton.

And while Rosberg said he will do whatever it takes to win the title, he will only do what is "Within the limits of what's acceptable".

Kevin Magnussen
Kevin Magnussen

Renault recommended Magnussen to Haas
(GMM) Kevin Magnussen is heading to Haas with the recommendation of many in the F1 paddock, including those at his current team Renault.

That is the claim of Haas team boss Gunther Steiner, explaining the decision to pick the Dane to replace Esteban Gutierrez for 2017.

"Everyone knows that we spoke with Kevin already last year," Steiner told the Danish broadcaster TV2 in Abu Dhabi.

"At the time we chose Romain Grosjean because he had more experience. But now he has run through this season and we have been able to see what he delivers."

Magnussen has said he got a one-year offer to stay at Renault, but internal politicking and the promise of a two-year Haas contract motivated him to switch.

Steiner said: "I spoke with people at Renault, the engineers and technical staff, and they are really happy to work with him."

He is also quoted by the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet: "Many people in the industry regard Kevin very highly. Other drivers, other team bosses, other team owners. He is highly respected.

"It is people with experience who said to us: Look at Magnussen," Steiner added.

Steiner said he thinks Magnussen will enjoy Haas' no-politics, no-nonsense approach to racing.

"From the time he said 'Yes I want to change' it took ten days. It was simple," he revealed.

"I think he got a good feeling for us. We are a small and simple race team. We race with no politics. Gene Haas owns the team, I control the operations and there is no need for politics.

"My impression is that Kevin likes that approach, because he loves to race and we are racers."

Ron Dennis isn't smiling now
Ron Dennis isn't smiling now

Dennis exit 'healthy' for McLaren – Magnussen
(GMM) Kevin Magnussen thinks Ron Dennis' departure is actually "healthy" for McLaren.

The Danish driver was a protege of the Woking team's supremo and made his F1 debut for McLaren in 2014.

But Magnussen was then ousted, famously learning of the decision by email on his birthday.

"Ron was my boss when I drove there," the Renault driver, who will switch to Haas for 2017, told the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet in Abu Dhabi.

"It was not Ron's decision that I left McLaren, it was other things. Maybe he was responsible for it somehow, but it was not him who chose it," Magnussen insisted.

"As such I have nothing against him. But I think actually that it's very healthy for McLaren to get some fresh blood in."

Indeed, Dennis was recently axed from his position as group CEO by his fellow McLaren shareholders, and replaced as a director by Zak Brown.

Magnussen continued: "To be honest it looks positive with what is happening there. Someone like Zak is really good on the commercial side and seeing things from a business perspective."

Carlos Sainz Jr.
Carlos Sainz Jr.

Sainz Jr. unfazed by low media profile
(GMM) Carlos Sainz Jr. says his low profile in the international media does not bother him.

Since debuting last year, the Spaniard has gained the respect of the F1 paddock but it is Max Verstappen who got the call up to Red Bull's senior team as well as the high-profile comparisons to greats like Ayrton Senna.

When asked if his comparatively low profile bothers him, Toro Rosso driver Sainz answered: "I know that those in the team and around me are very happy.

"If the international press doesn't talk about it, it matters little to me because I know formula one and the people who know say I have been good enough, or better than good enough," the 22-year-old is quoted by Marca newspaper.

Sainz was also asked about the possible poaching of Toro Rosso technical boss James Key by Ferrari.

He said: "In F1 there are always rumors in the press, sometimes just to create some tension.

"But James has always had a contract with Red Bull and Toro Rosso and so, unless something strange happens, I don't think it will change.

"Anyway, he has already designed the 2017 car almost completely, so I'm calm," Sainz added.

Perez not open to sponsor reconciliation
(GMM) Sergio Perez says his decision to dump a sponsor is final.

Just after Donald Trump's shock US election win, the Mexican driver failed to see the funny side of a joke made on Twitter by sunglasses sponsor Hawkers about the proposed US-Mexican border wall.

After Perez dumped the brand, Hawkers apologized and announced the formation of a charity in the Force India driver's name to make up for the gaffe.

But Perez said in Abu Dhabi: "I will not go back to working with them.

"Yesterday we finally broke the business relationship," he is quoted by the Spanish sports daily Marca.

"They proposed a foundation with my name, but I said no. I already have a foundation, but if they want to make one for charitable causes that's fine with me, but I do not need it," Perez insisted.

Paul Hembery
Paul Hembery

2017 to be 'transition year' for tires – Hembery
(GMM) Pirelli says it regards 2017 as a transition year as the sport adapts to the radically different technical regulations.

In Abu Dhabi, F1's official supplier unveiled the bigger and wider slicks that will be fitted to next year's much faster cars.

"This was not an easy project because we had to start with many unknowns," boss Paul Hembery is quoted by Speed Week.

He thanked the teams for helping with data, and especially Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari for converting 2015 cars to simulate next year's greater downforce.

"We estimate that these (test) cars have 20 per cent less downforce than the cars we'll see next year," said Hembery.

"So this is a starting point, we'll see the new cars in February and then it will be exciting to see if we can achieve the targets we have set."

He said the characteristics and compounds of the tires have been changed compared to 2016, "But we can't say yet in detail whether we have been too aggressive or too conservative".

"We will find out in February," Hembery explained. "We see 2017 as a transition year, because we will be able to develop the tires during the season with the 25 test days in order to have an even better tire in 2018."

Hockenheim confirms no grand prix in 2017
(GMM) Hockenheim boss Georg Seiler has confirmed reports the German grand prix will drop off the 2017 calendar.

Reports said that because a race deal could not be struck for 2017, Hockenheim will go and next year's calendar will shrink to 20 grands prix.

Seiler confirmed: "We have noted that a formula one event for Germany is no longer on the 2017 calendar.

"This is regrettable, but not surprising since a date was only reserved and there was no contract for the Hockenheimring."

The circuit chief continued: "There was no offer in which all economic risks were excluded, which was always our condition to be a possible venue for 2017."

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