Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Pierre Gasly waiting in the wings
    Pierre Gasly waiting in the wings

    Marko denies Gasly to oust Kvyat

  • Teams could reject new Pirelli tire – report
  • RTL flags new TV deal for Germany
  • Honda eyes new technology for 2017
  • F1's 'second thoughts' over Euro exodus – Monza
  • Vettel not committing whole career to Ferrari
  • Pizzonia's top speed F1 record could tumble
  • Formula 1's 2017 Season To Open With Australia-China Back-To-Back
  • Haas F1 Owner Says F1's Future Could Grow More Lucrative After Sale

Marko denies Gasly to oust Kvyat
(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko has slammed rumors Pierre Gasly is on the cusp of beginning his F1 adventure.

The 20-year-old Frenchman is next in line in Red Bull's young driver program, but he arguably underperformed in the first half of the GP2 season this year.

But he then won three races recently, at Silverstone, Hungary and Spa, and clearly leads the title standings.

"Since Gasly had an accident at Silverstone, he wins," Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko smiled to Auto Motor und S0port.

The Red Bull driver manager is not talking about a racing crash for Gasly, but a normal road car accident.

However, Marko's smile disappeared when he confronted rumors that Frenchman Gasly could make his F1 debut as soon as this weekend at Monza, replacing Toro Rosso's struggling Daniil Kvyat.

"That is absolute nonsense," said the Austrian.

Teams expected to reject stiffer sidewall tires for 2016
Teams expected to reject stiffer sidewall tires for 2016

Teams could reject new Pirelli tire – report
(GMM) Pirelli's plans to introduce a new construction for its tires in 2016 could be rejected by the teams.

The new construction, tested with the 'soft' compound in practice recently, is reportedly stronger in the sidewall to better protect against curb damage.

But a mid-season introduction must be accepted by all the teams, and there are concerns that the tires are fundamentally different.

"It (the prototype) seemed more like a medium than a soft," one driver is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport as saying.

And although the FIA could force through the change on safety grounds, a Force India official added: "We will argue against these tires. They're too hard."

Also controversial at the moment is Pirelli's approach to tire pressures, with many drivers complaining loudly about the "balloons" at Spa.

Toto Wolff said the situation is particularly hurting Mercedes.

"Our entire development and all of our simulations are being hurt by a tire that is completely different to what we expected. When you have a contact surface that is half the size you expect, it's very difficult," he is quoted by Spain's AS sports newspaper.

"I understand why Pirelli does it — we are in the final season with these tires, we have had failures in the past and integrity is extremely important to a tire supplier.

"I don't want to blame anyone," Wolff added, "because it is the same problem for everyone. But we have a car with a lot of downforce and we are not able to put this on the track.

"I just hope that next year it is different with the bigger tires," he said.

RTL flags new TV deal for Germany
(GMM) German free-to-air broadcaster RTL is considering extending its F1 television deal yet again.

Last year, after a period of uncertainty, German fans breathed a sigh of relief when RTL confirmed a new deal with Bernie Ecclestone had been reached.

RTL had been re-considering its deal for financial reasons, amid dwindling spectator interest in Germany.

Now, as the contractual issue arises again, RTL's sports chief Manfred Loppe told Sport Bild: "Our interest (in F1) is very much there.

"Formula one is currently in a consolidation phase. So far this year we are at an average of 4.3 million viewers, which is about 100,000 more than in 2015," he added.

"And I'm optimistic that it keeps going upwards," said Loppe.

He said he thinks the close title battle between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg is the reason for the upswing.

"The race for the world championship is more exciting than it has been for a long time," said Loppe, "and next year with the rule changes it could be even more close.

"On top of that, Mick Schumacher may soon be in F1," he enthused.

Honda F1 engine
Honda F1 engine

Honda eyes new technology for 2017
(GMM) Honda has indicated it could follow the technological lead of F1's other 'power unit' makers.

McLaren's Japanese works partner has made great strides in 2016, but the Honda unit is now the only one in pitlane not using so-called "pre-combustion chamber" or TJI technology.

Spain's AS sports newspaper said the technology has been used by Mercedes since 2014, by Ferrari since mid-2015 and by Renault from Monaco this year.

"As an engine company, we are always looking for new technologies and the TJI is one of them," Honda's F1 chief Yusuke Hasegawa said.

"It is an area we have studied that could be an option for the future, but we have not decided anything yet," he added.

Monza
Monza

F1's 'second thoughts' over Euro exodus – Monza
(GMM) Italian grand prix chief Angelo Sticchi Damiani thinks a shift back to Europe could be occurring in F1.

After a long period of uncertainty, Monza and Bernie Ecclestone appear ready to sign on the dotted line of a new three-year contract from 2017.

"In the next hours, lawyers will exchange the latest considerations in London," Italian automobile club president Damiani told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I trust the signatures will be there by the end of the week," he added.

"Everybody has worked hard but even Ecclestone has been patient," Sticchi Damiani said, "which is a sign that Monza is important for him as well."

Indeed, he suspects that after a decade or more of aggressive expansion by F1 beyond the sport's traditional European base, things might now be changing.

"We all know that the world keeps evolving and F1 does too," he is quoted by Italy's Autosprint.

"Let's see what happens. We know that in Europe, there are many difficulties for organizers," said Sticchi Damiani.

In fact, it is rumored that to keep Germany on the calendar for 2017, Ecclestone is even willing to agree a much lower fee and become the quasi-promoter.

"Europe is the heart of F1," the Italian said. "We have seen many hosts abroad come and go and it's not just about money — it's about culture.

"Here, at Silverstone, Spa, Monte Carlo, F1 is in the DNA of the people. If you look at the numbers of Azerbaijan, there were not many people there on the three days.

"We have to wait now for this tsunami that led to the impoverishment of Europe from F1 to settle. Let's see what happens in this three years if there are second thoughts about people who just say 'I have the money'," he added.

Vettel learning that in F1 you are only as good as the guy who designs your car
Vettel learning that in F1 you are only as good as the Chief Engineer who designs your car

Vettel not committing whole career to Ferrari
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel is relieved Monza looks to be back on track with a new three-year F1 race deal.

"I could never imagine F1 without Monza," he told Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper. "It would be a nightmare.

"I can't wait to be back on track with all those fans, the passion, the banners, the children and adults who queue for an autograph or selfie. It's magic," said the Ferrari driver.

He might be happy with Monza, but 2016 has been less than perfect for the German.

But Vettel denies he is plagued by bad luck.

"I don't think of that," he said. "Sometimes it goes well, at other times not. In formula one, everything is on edge and behind every trouble is an explanation."

Some, however, have equated 2016 with Vettel's poor season at Red Bull in 2014.

The 29-year-old denies it.

"No, in 2014 I could hardly drive early in the season with huge technical problems, coming after four consecutive world titles. When I realized I was not able to defend them, the feeling was really horrible," said Vettel.

Indeed, he has since switched to Ferrari, where his mentor Michael Schumacher only won his first title for the Maranello marque in the fifth year.

Asked if he is just as patient, Vettel answered: "Um, it's a very difficult question.

"If I had a chance to win only half of what he did (at Ferrari) it would be worth the wait," he said. "But formula one is not a sport of patience.

"We have worked hard to recover the gap, but it's useless to hide it — we are not competitive enough to win a race yet," said Vettel.

He therefore does not want to answer if Ferrari will be his last team in F1.

"Why, do you think of me as old?" Vettel laughed. "I haven't thought about it because it's too far away. My biggest challenge is to win with Ferrari, and it takes all of my heart and energy."

Finally, Vettel denied that after no less than two first-lap clashes with his teammate Kimi Raikkonen in 2016, their relationship is currently strained.

"No, not at all," he said.

"We like and respect each other and that is very good for the team. We both want to win and we know that we are not yet able to do it, so we are trying to help with the car as much as possible.

"Kimi and I are very different types: for sure I speak more, but with the engineers he gives a lot of feedback about how the car is," added Vettel.

Monza 2004
Monza 2004

Pizzonia's top speed F1 record could tumble
(GMM) A 12-year F1 record might finally tumble at Monza this weekend.

In 2004, it was Antonio Pizzonia who set the sport's current top-speed record in a BMW-Williams, as he blasted down the long straight at 369.9kph through the official speed trap.

That was with a 1000hp V10 screaming at 21,000rpm, but some believe the incredible current V6 units might go even quicker in Sunday's Italian grand prix.

Recalling that day at Monza as he substituted for the injured Ralf Schumacher, Brazilian Pizzonia said: "I was in the right car at the right time at the right track.

"With the 10 cylinder BMW, I had the strongest engine there was at the time. You noticed immediately how fast you were going: I still remember being in the tow of David Coulthard's McLaren and really feeling how fast I was," he told Germany's Auto Bild.

However, Pizzonia said there was no fear.

"To be honest, if you've driven enough laps at Monza, you get used to it," he said.

Australia to again open 2017 F1 season
Australia to again open 2017 F1 season

Formula 1's 2017 Season To Open With Australia-China Back-To-Back
Formula 1 is set for its "latest start" since '11 next year, with the Australian Grand Prix "provisionally put down for a March 26 slot," according to Adam Cooper of MOTORSPORT.

According to a draft version of the calendar, the season opener in Melbourne "will be twinned with China as a back-to-back." This will be the latest start to a season since '11, when the first race was held on March 27, giving teams "extra time to prepare for the new regulations."

It will also be the first time since '13 that Melbourne "has been part of a double header."

However, it "remains unclear if the logistics of getting F1 in to China makes it even possible to run it just one week after Australia." The decision to move China to the second race comes after Malaysian Grand Prix chiefs "rejected a push" by F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone to return their slot to the start of the calendar.

The final calendar is expected to include 21 races at the same venues as '16. It will be submitted to the World Motor Sport Council by Ecclestone at the end of September. MOTORSPORT

Haas sees a big future ahead for F1. TV numbers are everything. Worldwide F1 has them, IndyCar doesn't
Haas sees a big future ahead for F1. TV numbers are everything. Worldwide F1 has them, IndyCar doesn't

Haas F1 Owner Says F1's Future Could Grow More Lucrative After Sale
F1's future could be even more lucrative than it is now for all its stakeholders, with the sale of the series expected later this year, Haas F1 Team Owner Gene Haas said. Recent reports suggested Liberty Media Corp., backed by U.S. billionaire John Malone, is in discussions with CVC Capital Partners, F1's controlling stakeholders, regarding an $8.5B takeover.

Haas, whose F1 team joined the series this season, told SBD Global the potential sale of the sport to a global media company could be incredibly helpful in reaching new audiences and generating value.

"In this day and age of Google, where you deliver a specific viewer for a specific price — maybe only for a few pennies at a click — that's proven to be very valuable," he said. "There might not be 2 billion people that want to watch Formula 1, but if they can find that specific set of people — even 1 or 2 percent of the 7 billion population — and deliver that and charge $1 per viewer, the numbers become just outrageous in how much value you would get out of that."

CHANGE ON THE HORIZON: The series is already highly profitable, having been able to increase its profits to $329.9M last year on revenue of $1.7B. Despite those figures, the old model, pioneered by F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone — of selling rights to an individual company at the highest price — may have run its course, Haas said.

"You have to take a broad view," he said. "How do we reach all those billions of people, so that you not necessarily make a tremendous amount of money, but you make a little bit of money out of millions of people?"

F1's viewership has declined by one third to more than 400 million annually since '08. However, racing content remains very desirable for broadcasters, which was proven by Sky's $125M-per-year deal to show the series from '19. The biggest challenge for media companies will be reaching their audiences, Haas said.

"It's one thing to have a market, but it's a whole other thing to get to those different people," he said.

"[But] having something that people will watch is a very valuable commodity." F1 has put an increased effort on social and digital media activities over the past two seasons after failing to realize early on that this is the way to connect and interact with young fans.

"In general, racing is looking for new outlets and new ways of reaching new customers," Haas said. HJ Mai/Sportsbusinessdaily

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