F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Lance Stroll - has check will drive
    Lance Stroll – has check will drive

    2017 'good time' to make Williams debut – Stroll

  • Honda can target Mercedes for 2017 – Alonso
  • Magnussen hints power struggle behind Renault driver delay
  • Poor starts could cost Hamilton title
  • Force India Owner Vijay Mallya Has Led Team To Success
  • Shell's John Abbott Discusses Company's Partnership With Ferrari F1
  • Decision on Perez' 2017 plans "delayed"

2017 'good time' to make Williams debut – Stroll
(GMM) Lance Stroll says he thinks 2017 is a "good time" for him to make his F1 debut.

Still 17, the French Canadian and European F3 championship leader is the favorite to become Valtteri Bottas' new teammate at Williams for 2017.

"It is a fact that I'm going to have a new teammate next year," Finn Bottas, still not officially confirmed for 2017, said in Singapore.

Stroll has leapt into contention after serving in a Williams development driver role, having switched from Ferrari's respective junior program.

"Ferrari did a great job for me, but Williams gave me the opportunity to be closer to F1," Stroll told the French magazine Auto Hebdo.

However, Stroll has been labeled a 'pay driver' by some sections of the press, including 1997 world champion, fellow French Canadian and F1 pundit Jacques Villeneuve.

Stroll, whose father is the fashion billionaire Lawrence Stroll, answered: "I really don't want to go into these controversies. I need all my energy to reach my goals.

"Jacques can think what he likes, but I think it's a shame if all people see is money."

Asked if he feels ready at the age of 17 to be announced as an F1 driver, Stroll answered yes.

"With the introduction of the new regulations, I think it would be a good time to start, because everyone will be discovering at the same time," said Stroll.

"Also, if the gap between GP2 and F1 only widens further, it's best to get in sooner rather than later," he added.

Fernando Alonso hallucinating again
Fernando Alonso hallucinating again

Honda can target Mercedes for 2017 – Alonso
(GMM) Fernando Alonso thinks Honda can be targeting Mercedes for 2017.

The works McLaren-Honda project struggled in 2015 but has made big strides forwards this year.

And according to media reports, the Japanese manufacturer is planning an even bigger step for 2017.

"I am very optimistic about the engine for next year," Alonso told Spanish reporters in Singapore. "I think we can be up to Mercedes, and I am sure that Renault and Ferrari will also do a good job to make everything more interesting.

"I do expect a big step forward, everyone is hoping to keep up with Mercedes, although it may be a very optimistic goal.

"But in Belgium we saw that we had improved and could be in the battle, and in 2017 I expect a major improvement. Having a great engine is something that gives everyone an extra motivation," he added.

Alonso has even spoken about the possibility of race wins, and said that if and when it happens it will be one of the best feelings in his successful career.

"Yes, the first win with this project will be a great thing," he said. "I don't know if I'll have that opportunity, or Stoffel (Vandoorne), but when that day comes it will be something great for all who have participated in this project from day one."

Kevin Magnussen - it's a bidding war at Renault at who can write the biggest check to buy a seat
Kevin Magnussen – it's a bidding war at Renault at who can write the biggest check to buy a seat

Magnussen hints power struggle behind Renault driver delay
(GMM) Kevin Magnussen has admitted to some frustration about Renault's delayed decision about the shape of the works team's 2017 driver lineup.

Earlier, it was believed the team would inform the Dane of its decision in Singapore, but team boss Frederic Vasseur has now been quoted as saying the call could be made as late as a week before winter testing.

"Hopefully it will be soon," Magnussen told the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet in Singapore.

"Otherwise, I will take it (a decision). I am a racing driver and to race, I cannot wait until the week before the first test. It's not an option.

"I don't know if that's exactly what he (Vasseur) said, but if it's true that he believes Renault can wait until a week before the first test, then it will not be me," said Magnussen.

Renault has a 2017 option on Magnussen's services that will expire in two weeks.

"I cannot sign somewhere other than Renault before the option expires," he confirmed.

Asked if he would sign something after then, Magnussen added: "If I have a better offer, yes."

The 23-year-old suggested the problem could be a power struggle at the top of the team, with Vasseur and Cyril Abiteboul apparently in conflicting roles at present.

"I don't think there is so much I can do about the situation right now, and it's frustrating," said Magnussen.

"If it was quite clear who was in charge at Renault right now, I am sure there would be a decision. But there certainly is not," he added.

He said he has asked Vasseur about the situation and got only positive feedback, including about his leadership skills.

"I asked him and he said he has nothing to complain about. Whether it's true or not I don't know," Magnussen said.

Hamilton wonders if the German Mercedes computers favor German Rosberg
Hamilton wonders if the German Mercedes computers favor German Rosberg

Poor starts could cost Hamilton title
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has admitted he is worried poor starts could cost him the 2016 world championship.

The Briton has had several poor race starts in 2016, most recently at Monza where he was slow off the line from pole and teammate Nico Rosberg closed the points gap to just 2.

"If you gauge my season, then the championship could be lost through starts," Hamilton admitted in Singapore.

"Considering I have had a lot of pole positions, I have lost the race from the starts."

Mercedes sources insisted after Monza that it was not actual technical trouble that cost Hamilton, but simply the difficulty of the recent clampdown on clutches.

"Would I prefer my clutch not to have inconsistencies? For sure, but that is not going to change any time soon," said Hamilton.

Finally, indicating the current level of tension between title rivals Hamilton and Rosberg, the British driver refused to congratulate his teammate for hitting the milestone of 200 grands prix this weekend.

Asked if he had anything nice to say about Rosberg's achievement, Hamilton answered: "Not really, no."

Vijay Mallya
Vijay Mallya

Force India Owner Vijay Mallya Has Led Team To Success
When Indian entrepreneur Vijay Mallya bought a "failing" Formula 1 team in '07, "few paddock insiders took him seriously," according to Brad Spurgeon of the N.Y. TIMES.

But now, as Force India "is reaching the end of its ninth season in the series, the skeptics have been persuaded." Force India, which is based in Silverstone, England, has been a "resounding success" — by Formula 1 terms — "and has steadily climbed up the grid."

During that period, Mallya himself has had "a reversal of fortune in India, where he is one of the country’s most famous names."

His company, the United Breweries Group, makes Kingfisher beer and "sells a variety of products, from alcohol to chemicals to fertilizer," and he was the founder of the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines. He has "become mired in a debt scandal related to the airline’s collapse."

At the same time, his role as a Formula 1 team owner and "his bona fides as a racer have only improved." He said, "Since I am now spending my time in England — far more regulated, less hectic — I am doing what I am passionate about. And one thing I sure am passionate about is Force India and Formula 1. And I spend a lot more time, I get a lot of pleasure out of it, and the team is delivering results."

Force India is "indeed doing that." Since it entered the series in '08, the team has "made a constant climb up the standings."

After finishing 10th that first year, it finished the season fifth in the series last year. N.Y. TIMES

Shell's John Abbott Discusses Company's Partnership With Ferrari F1
John Abbott, 56, is a director and member of the exec committee of Royal Dutch Shell, where he has worked since '81, "mostly in global manufacturing and supply, trading and distribution," according to Brad Spurgeon of the N.Y. TIMES.

Last year he oversaw the signing of "a major partnership deal" between Shell and the Ferrari Formula 1 team. Excerpts from a Q&A are below:

Q: Shell and Ferrari have a partnership deal. Ferrari has not won any Formula 1 races this year, and has not won a title for many years. How important is winning for this partnership?
A: Winning is important. Let’s be honest that we are here to sell fuels and lubricants and the reality is we will sell more fuels and lubricants if Ferrari wins. Ferrari has a fantastic brand. And I also believe that Shell has a very strong brand. So we have two very strong brands together. And Ferrari has a strong brand which is driven through its vehicles; but it has also very much driven that brand image by winning on the racetrack. So people will stick to the brand, but if they don’t win, there is a risk that over a period of time the value of that brand diminishes.

Q: In terms of the larger picture of Formula 1 as a series, how, as a top exec in a multinational company, do you see the series globally? It sometimes has image problems.
A: Obviously our main affiliation is with Ferrari, and the Ferrari brand, and Ferrari products. If you come to Formula 1 per se, I think there are some questions about the business model that is being applied today. Let’s accept and acknowledge that it was very successful in the past, but what made you successful in the past isn’t necessarily going to make you successful in the future. … If I were running Formula 1 — which I’m not — I would have to be asking myself: How should we reposition this sport, to A) maintain the viewers and the affiliation with the sport, and B) are we doing the right things to position it? N.Y. TIMES

Sergio Perez - his 2017 check must not have cleared yet
Sergio Perez – his 2017 check must not have cleared yet

Decision on Perez' 2017 plans "delayed"
Sergio Perez has revealed that a decision on his plans for 2017 has been further delayed.

For as long as anyone can remember, Force India has been insisting that its line-up in 2017 will remain the same as 2016 and indeed 2014 and 2015.

However, Sergio Perez, though keen to remain with the Silverstone-based outfit, has continually denied this, insisting that the final decision rests with his sponsors.

Speaking in Singapore, despite further assurances from Force India that the deal is done, the Mexican admitted that a decision has been further delayed.

"I was hoping to be able to be in a position to announce my plans for this weekend," he told reporters. "We have some delays but I really hope before the next race we can definitely announce where I will be racing."

The Mexican (and his backers) are understood to be on the 'want list' of a number of teams, most notably Renault and Williams, however, Perez is known to be keen to see what happens at Ferrari come 2018.

With Force India currently looking a better bet than either Renault or Williams, Perez admitted that he might be best served staying put.

"I always say I will be very happy if I can stay where I am," he said. Pitpass

Leave a Reply