Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Charlie Whiting
    Charlie Whiting

    F1 penalty controversy to race on in Brazil

  • Perez dumps sponsor after Trump victory
  • Massa seeks talks over Brazil GP future
  • Stroll 'not like Maldonado' – Villeneuve
  • 'No extra pressure' as title beckons – Rosberg
  • No extra security for Ecclestone in Brazil
  • Renault retains Palmer for 2017 season

F1 penalty controversy to race on in Brazil
(GMM) The controversy about penalties in F1 will keep racing into this weekend's Brazilian grand prix.

After being verbally abused by Sebastian Vettel in Mexico, F1 race director Charlie Whiting will join the German driver in Thursday's FIA press conference.

It is an unusual step for the governing body, after the Ferrari driver also lashed out on the radio at Max Verstappen's driving. Dutchman Verstappen will also be at the press conference.

The FIA said Whiting will be there to "talk about" what happened in Mexico.

But it is actually a wider issue, with many drivers unhappy about how penalties are being given out by the stewards at grands prix.

"When my family watches the races on television they don't understand the penalties," Carlos Sainz told the Spanish sports newspaper Marca on Wednesday.

"They do not understand why one driver is penalized while another is not. I think there should be fewer or less strict rules because no driver, no fan is happy with how the decisions are being made."

1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve thinks the current system of stewards is the main problem.

He said that in his heyday, the issue of driver discipline was largely left up to the drivers themselves.

"There was the fear of being penalized," he told www.Minute-Auto.fr, "but it only happened when we did something extremely dangerous.

"Before, when a driver blocked another driver, he was blocked in the next session. Suddenly, no one is blocking anyone because making enemies makes things difficult for yourself.

"As a driver then, it would have been a nightmare for Verstappen," said the French Canadian.

Villeneuve thinks F1's stewarding system, with a former driver nominated to join the regular stewards at each race, is wrong.

"The guest driver is a very bad thing," he said.

"The model used in MotoGP is much smarter as they found a former driver (Capirossi) who is paid to do a specific job. So there is no need for him to play politics and make friends," Villeneuve explained.

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez is petrified Trump may build the wall and Mexicans will have to come into the USA legally

Perez dumps sponsor after Trump victory
(GMM) Sergio Perez has dumped a sponsor in the wake of Donald Trump's shock win in the US election.

As the world digested the surprise news that Trump had beaten favorite Hillary Clinton to the White House, the sunglasses company Hawkers made a joke in Spanish on Twitter.

"Mexicans, put these glasses on so people don't see your swelling eyes when the wall is being built in the morning," the message from Hawkers Mexico read.

Trump has famously promised to build a "beautiful wall" on the US-Mexican border and make the Mexican people pay for it.

Mexican driver Perez, whose name has just been put on a special edition of Hawkers glasses, did not see the joke.

"What a bad comment," he said on Twitter. "Today I finish my relationship with Hawkers MX. I will never let anyone mock my country."

Hawkers MX apologized for the Tweet.

Felipe Massa
Felipe Massa

Massa seeks talks over Brazil GP future
(GMM) Felipe Massa is not convinced privatization is the answer as Interlagos looks to safeguard the future of the Brazilian grand prix.

While Nico Rosberg has a chance to seal the 2016 title at Interlagos this weekend, the future of the race in Sao Paulo is in doubt, after Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA published the 2017 calendar with an asterisk for Brazil.

Recent reports have suggested the brand new mayor of Sao Paulo, Joao Doria, wants to privatize the Interlagos track, which has hosted F1 since 1990.

"I'd like to talk to the mayor," said Massa, who will contest his last home race in Sao Paulo, his native city, this weekend before retiring.

"I want to hear his ideas before responding about something I don't know about. If the privatization happens for the good of the circuit, I am completely in favor," he told Brazilian journalists in a pre-weekend dinner.

"If the privatization is for something else, as happened to the track in Rio de Janeiro, then I am not in favor," Massa added.

Massa, 35, also admitted he is worried about the future of Brazilian drivers in F1, with only Felipe Nasr left to carry the banner beyond 2016.

But there is a chance there will be no Brazilians on the grid at all next year.

"I hope that does not happen but there is a possibility," said Massa, "because Felipe has not signed a contract."

Lance Stroll
Lance Stroll

Stroll 'not like Maldonado' – Villeneuve
(GMM) Jacques Villeneuve insists it is not fair to compare Lance Stroll with other F1 'pay drivers' like Pastor Maldonado.

Reportedly after his father and Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll spent an amazing $80 million on the 18-year-old's career to date, Lance will make his debut next year for Williams.

Asked if Williams' choice was surprising, former team driver Villeneuve told www.Minute-Auto.fr: "I don't know.

"He arrives with a huge budget and Williams needs it, but also with the F3 title and, on paper, a huge talent. It's not like Pastor Maldonado!" he insisted.

Still, Villeneuve expects Stroll to have a tougher introduction to F1 than did the similarly young Max Verstappen, and not just because the 2017 cars will be faster.

"Yes, but we must not forget that Verstappen arrived with Red Bull and could afford to push. Especially as he has been somewhat protected by the authorities, as we see with the lack of penalties he's had.

"But Stroll comes with financial security, so he can afford to take his time and learn well," Villeneuve added.

Also with a significant budget and well-known father, Renault has confirmed that Jolyon Palmer will stay with the French works team next year.

The news reinforces reports that the Briton's 2016 teammate, Kevin Magnussen, is heading to Haas on a multi-year deal.

"We thank Kevin Magnussen for his efforts in 2016 as he has done a great job for us this year," said Renault F1 chairman Jerome Stoll. "We wish him all the best for 2017 and beyond."

Nico Rosberg has turned into 'stroker ace' as of late
Nico Rosberg has turned into 'stroker ace' as of late

'No extra pressure' as title beckons – Rosberg
(GMM) Nico Rosberg has arrived in Brazil insisting he doesn't feel any more pressure than usual.

That is despite the fact that a win on Sunday will see him crowned world champion.

But EFE news agency quotes Rosberg as saying at a press conference in Sao Paulo: "I don't feel any more pressure than normal.

"The difference is that I have much more experience in the fight for the championship."

It is a rare mention of the championship for German Rosberg, who has closed himself off to any talk about the bigger picture this year.

Even when his Mercedes contract was up for renewal earlier this year, he appointed someone to take care of it for him.

"Nico did not want to burden himself with contract negotiations in this crucial season for him," team chairman Niki Lauda told Auto Motor und Sport.

"Toto (Wolff) and I talked with him about the contract maybe twice, but 50 times with Gerhard (Berger)," he added.

After the cap-throwing end to last year's failed title bid, Rosberg has also calmed the waters of his rivalry with Lewis Hamilton.

The 31-year-old said he has "respect" for the Briton, while the relationship is "neutral for the good of the team".

And for Brazil, where he can wrap up his first title triumph over Hamilton, he is counting no chickens.

"We have seen so many times in formula one that anything can happen," Rosberg said this week. "I will do everything I can to win and then we'll see."

Meanwhile, Lauda said Rosberg's steely resolve in 2016 has meant a change of focus for Hamilton, who has won the last two grands prix on the trot.

"Lewis has understood that his natural talent is no longer enough to stand up against this complete Rosberg," said the F1 legend.

"That's why he is now investing much more time in the car, the tires and the setup. The question is whether he still has enough time to make use of it."

Nico Rosberg will be crowned World Champion this weekend if…

He wins the race
He finishes second, and Hamilton finishes fourth or lower
He finishes third, and Hamilton finishes sixth or lower
He finishes fourth, and Hamilton finishes eighth or lower
He finishes fifth, and Hamilton finishes ninth or lower
He finished sixth, and Hamilton finishes 10th or lower

Bernie Ecclestone
Bernie Ecclestone

No extra security for Ecclestone in Brazil
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone insists he has no fear for his personal security ahead of this weekend's Brazilian grand prix.

Earlier this year, the mother of the F1 supremo's Brazilian wife was kidnapped and threatened with beheading by a group linked with a helicopter pilot who formerly worked with Ecclestone.

So when asked if he is worried as he returns to Sao Paulo for the grand prix, the 86-year-old insisted: "I'm not afraid. Why should I be?

"In the last eight years, this was one of the biggest abductions," Ecclestone told the German newspaper Bild. "Brazil is not as dangerous as many people think."

In fact, the Briton revealed he is not planning to implement any extra security measures for his travels in the sprawling metropolis this week.

"No," said Ecclestone. "There's no need to be frightened or worried."

Bild also asked Ecclestone about reports some drivers are calling for the return of gravel traps in F1, to stop cars from cutting corners.

"We walked away from gravel because then you have trucks and cranes on the track removing cars that are stuck," he said.

And he also played down claims that Sebastian Vettel can be a Michael Schumacher-like figure for Ferrari, amid the Italian team's current crisis.

"No," said Bernie. "He does not have the charisma and power that Michael did. Vettel is not Michael. He was special."

Finally, Ecclestone eased the fears of German F1 fans who worry that F1's new owner Liberty might take the sport off free-to-air television.

"No," he said. "RTL will get formula one again for the next three years."

But he warned that the future of the uncertain German grand prix is another matter entirely.

"The organisers, whether it's Hockenheim or the Nurburgring, can't even pay a strongly reduced fee," said Ecclestone.

"It's not fair on the other organisers in Europe if we make an exception for them. Maybe it's the Germans who do not like formula one," he added.

Renault retains Palmer for 2017 season
Renault has confirmed that Jolyon Palmer will continue to race for the manufacturer in Formula 1 next year, alongside new arrival Nico Hülkenberg, ending speculation over the outfit's 2017 pairing.

Palmer, the 2014 GP2 champion, spent last season as Lotus' test and reserve driver before penning a deal to graduate to a race seat, with his commitment honoured when Renault acquired the squad.

Palmer endured a difficult start to his rookie campaign, which included finishing last in China, crashing out heavily in Monaco and exiting Q1 in 10 successive events from Bahrain to Hungary.

However, Palmer has made progress across the second half of the season and recorded his first Formula 1 point in Malaysia, before going on to enjoy solid races in Japan and Mexico.

Palmer's future was uncertain as Renault dithered over its 2017 line-up, with Kevin Magnussen and Mercedes-backed Manor driver Esteban Ocon initially thought to have been favoured.

However, Magnussen is set to make the switch to Haas, with Ocon poised to join Force India, which uses Mercedes power units, leaving Palmer secure at Renault for a further term.

"I'm over the moon to be racing with Renault for a second season and I can't wait to reward the team's faith in me on track," commented Palmer, as the deal was announced by the team.

"Having worked out of Enstone since 2015 I can fully appreciate the development of the infrastructure this year. This means I share the excitement of the team looking to 2017 and our new car."

Palmer is confident that both he and Renault will make a step forward next year.

"For me, it's been a steep learning curve driving in Formula 1 and I know that I am performing better than ever, and that there's still more to come," the 25-year-old went on to state.

"There is tremendous drive and enthusiasm [at the team's UK and French factories] in Enstone and Viry-Châtillon looking to next year and I'm honoured to be part of this."

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