Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Mick Schumacher
    Mick Schumacher

    Mick Schumacher on cusp of F3 step

  • Vandoorne not worried about Button contract
  • Renault almost ready to name driver
  • Whiting has question to answer after Mexico – Prost
  • Frank Williams out of hospital
  • Brawn to be new F1 supremo 'nonsense' – Ecclestone
  • Brawn: 'Encouraging signs' for Schumacher
  • Ross Brawn Says He Would Be 'Happy' To Work Alongside F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone

Mick Schumacher on cusp of F3 step
(GMM) Mick Schumacher has admitted he is poised to step up to one of the final steps before hitting formula one — European F3.

Teenager Lance Stroll, who at 18 is just a year older than F1 legend Michael Schumacher's son, will himself step up to formula one next year with Williams.

Stroll is the new European F3 champion.

And that is the category that Mick Schumacher is likely to contest next year, as the young German is currently testing for the Prema F3 team in Germany.

"I'm going to race in Formula 3 — hopefully," Schumacher, who this year finished runner-up in the German and the Italian F4 categories, told the German press.

"The key thing for me is to collect more experience. If it works out, my full focus will be on Formula 3," he added.

European F3 is on the support bill of the German touring car championship DTM, whose boss Hans Werner Aufrecht admitted he is looking forward to Schumacher's next step.

"It's just incredible how this name fascinates people," he told Auto Bild. "Of course he will help us in many areas."

Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher's former F1 boss Ross Brawn has told the BBC there are "encouraging signs" about the health of the seven time world champion.

"There are encouraging signs and we are all praying every day that we see some more progress and that one day we can see Michael out and about and recovered from his terrible injuries," he said.

Vandoorne will challenge Fernando Alonso
Vandoorne will challenge Fernando Alonso

Vandoorne not worried about Button contract
(GMM) Stoffel Vandoorne says he does not feel under pressure even though McLaren will have three contracted drivers on its books next year.

2015 GP2 champion Vandoorne is stepping up to F1 with the famous British team in 2017, but veteran Jenson Button has curiously been kept under contract by McLaren not only for next year but also 2018.

Asked if he feels the pressure of that, or if he has been given specific targets to has to hit in 2017, Vandoorne insisted: "No.

"I'm just getting ready for my debut season in F1 and to give everything I can for that," the Belgian told Adrenaline Productions Japan Motorsports.

"I will do the same as I did in any other championship I've been in.

"The priority is just to do as much work as we can together so that McLaren is winning again," Vandoorne added.

Vandoorne, 24, spent this year in the Japanese open wheeler series Super Formula, where he rounded out the season recently with a win.

"In terms of results, it probably wasn't the best year for me but there were several highlights," he said.

"But I think everything is ok because I have been preparing for 2017 at the same time. I mainly focused on formula one and worked very hard in the simulator."

But he says that since he was officially confirmed as Fernando Alonso's teammate for next year, his involvement with the engineers has ramped up.

"I can see that work on the car for next season is progressing and I'm spending more time in the simulator," said Vandoorne.

"I think we need to wait until the first test to see which team has done the best job, but the new regulations should give us a good chance to reduce the gap," he added.

Will Magnussen get to keep his Renault seat?
Will Magnussen get to keep his Renault seat?

Renault almost ready to name driver
(GMM) Renault is almost ready to make its decision about the identity of Nico Hulkenberg's teammate for 2017.

Kevin Magnussen and Kevin Magnussen are waiting impatiently to see if they will be retained by the works team, with candidates including Esteban Ocon, Felipe Nasr and others linked with the seat.

"The talks are moving slowly," team boss Frederic Vasseur told the French broadcaster Canal Plus.

"I guess we will make a decision before the Brazilian grand prix."

Especially regarding Dane Magnussen, there have been conflicting stories recently suggesting he was re-signed by Renault, and also offered a 2017 seat by Haas.

"Do not pay attention to the rumors," Vasseur insisted. "It's a trick of the journalists."

When it comes to infractions Charlie Whiting turns a blind eye toward his 'pet' drivers
When it comes to infractions Charlie Whiting turns a blind eye toward his 'pet' drivers

Whiting has question to answer after Mexico – Prost
(GMM) Charlie Whiting has a question to answer in the wake of last weekend's Mexican grand prix.

That is the view of F1 legend Alain Prost, referring to a controversy about drivers cutting corners at the Mexico City circuit.

Daniel Ricciardo in particular was furious, when Lewis Hamilton was not penalized despite getting a big advantage at the first corner by running through the grass.

Before Max Verstappen was penalized for the same infraction, Ricciardo said on the radio: "What about all these guys out-braking themselves? Lewis at the start and Max.

"Put a f—— wall there and they won't do it. F—— kindergarten stuff," the Australian fumed.

Four time world champion Prost thinks the biggest problem is the inconsistency, with Verstappen punished but race winner Hamilton not.

"I do not judge any of the drivers, it's just necessary to ask if there is a rule or not," he told the French broadcaster Canal Plus.

"At the start, Lewis made a mistake and got the advantage, but then there was the safety car so he lost that advantage.

"So it's necessary to ask the FIA and Charlie Whiting what would have happened with Hamilton if there was no safety car.

"Otherwise, everyone who starts from pole position but is afraid of losing their lead at the beginning of the race should just cut the first corner. It's a serious problem," added Prost.

Sir Frank Williams
Sir Frank Williams

Frank Williams out of hospital
(GMM) Sir Frank Williams is now out of hospital after a long illness.

It emerged last weekend that the 74-year-old, perhaps the oldest living tetraplegic following his 1986 car crash, was suffering from pneumonia.

Team officials admitted founder and boss Williams had been in hospital since falling ill at the Italian grand prix in early September.

"I'm very pleased and happy to say he's now back home, back at the factory, with us," his daughter, team deputy Claire Williams, said on Thursday at Williams' 2017 driver announcement.

"It was a slow recovery but I'm really pleased to say he's pretty much back to the old Frank we know and love," she added.

Ecclestone shoots down rumor Brawn might replace him. Brawn too has denied the rumor
Ecclestone shoots down rumor Brawn might replace him. Brawn too has denied the rumor

Brawn to be new F1 supremo 'nonsense' – Ecclestone
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has moved to put a lid on speculation he is about to lose his spot at the very top of F1.

Reports this week suggested former Ferrari and Mercedes chief Ross Brawn has been lined up by new F1 owner Liberty Media to be the sport's new sporting CEO.

The 61-year-old subsequently clarified that he is only doing "a little consulting", and that his future "all depends" on Ecclestone, who is 86.

Ecclestone has now told Germany's Bild newspaper: "I'm staying as the boss. This will not change.

"I can assure everyone that everything is staying as it is."

However, it has been rumored that Ecclestone is being marginalized by Liberty, who are keen to make changes after years with former majority owner CVC in charge.

Ecclestone explained: "It's quite simple — the Concorde Agreement runs until 2020. Until then, the teams and the rules cannot and will not change.

"The shareholders can of course change, and the new ones will put more emphasis on advertising and commercialization than CVC did."

But he said it is too soon for Liberty to start making big changes because the takeover is not complete.

"They do not control the company," he is quoted by the Spanish sports daily Marca. "They have 10 per cent of the company and for the moment, I'm still the CEO.

"It is the same company it has always been," Ecclestone insisted.

"If Liberty gets control then they can do whatever they like, as anyone can who owns a company. But at the moment they are not the owners, so they cannot do whatever they want."

And as for Brawn, Ecclestone makes clear that he is not interested in opening the door for the highly-rated engineer and manager.

"I would be happy if he went to the FIA," he said. "But he can't do anything for us at the moment. We don't need an engineer or someone with Ross' skills.

"I haven't spoken to him in a long time. I have no idea what he will do."

As for the reports that Brawn will be the 'new Ecclestone', Bernie told Bild: "This is utter nonsense."

Michael Schumacher
Michael Schumacher

Brawn: 'Encouraging signs' for Schumacher
Former Ferrari and Mercedes chief Ross Brawn says that there are "encouraging signs" for Michael Schumacher as the seven-times World Champion continues his recovery from serious head injuries.

Brawn worked with Schumacher at Benetton, Ferrari and Mercedes, remaining a close ally throughout the German's time in Formula 1, in which he won 91 Grands Prix and seven world titles.

Schumacher sustained serious head injuries when he suffered a skiing accident in December 2013 and no official update has been provided since he was released from Lausanne hospital in September 2014.

Schumacher's manager, Sabine Kehm, denied rumors earlier this year that he could walk, saying "unfortunately we are forced by a recent press report to clarify that the assertion that Michael could move again is not true."

During an interview with BBC Sport, Brawn commented: "The family have chosen to conduct Michael's convalescence in private and I must respect that.

"There are encouraging signs and we are all praying every day that we see more of them. So it is difficult for me to say very much and respect the family's privacy.

"All I would say is there is a lot of speculation about Michael's condition.

"Most of it's wrong and we just pray and hope every day that we continue to see some progress and that one day we can see Michael out and about and recovered from his terrible injuries."

Ross Brawn
Ross Brawn

Ross Brawn Says He Would Be 'Happy' To Work Alongside F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone
Ross Brawn said that "he would be happy to work alongside" Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone if he was offered a job running the sport, according to Andrew Benson of the BBC. The former Mercedes F1 boss "denies having a formal job with new owners Liberty Media but admits he is interested in the possibility."

The 61-year-old has had a "fractious relationship with Ecclestone, 86." Brawn said that he expected Liberty Media, which is in the process of finalizing a $4B deal to take a controlling stake in the commercial arm of F1, "to take its time before deciding how the sport's management should change."

He said, "When the day comes that Bernie eventually stops there won't be another Bernie. It will be a different structure and with Liberty Media getting involved there is speculation about how things will evolve."

He added, "I don't want to go back to being in charge of a team. That doesn't really motivate me. But what could motivate me is contributing some way to the future of F1 and how it can progress and meet the challenges it is facing today and that could be any number of roles.

But Bernie is the ring master and he is the one who is going to decide how things play out in the next few years." Brawn said that parting with Ecclestone, who has run the sport for 40 years, would be a "brave move" from Liberty. BBC

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