Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Ron Dennis
    Ron Dennis

    Dennis denies Button decision made

  • 'No bodyguards' for Verstappen at Monza – manager
  • Pundit hopes crash doesn't dent Magnussen chances
  • Formula 1's Profits Jump 30% To $330M As Fall In Pound's Value Reduces Costs
  • Magnussen set for medical checks on Thursday
  • Monza weather forecast looks good for this weekend
  • 3 questions for Pascal Wehrlein
  • Monza GP winners preview the race

Dennis denies Button decision made
(GMM) Ron Dennis has denied claims Jenson Button will definitely leave McLaren and possibly F1 at the end of the season.

Writing for the Sunday Times, respected journalist Mark Hughes claimed the Honda-powered team told Button, 36, at Spa that he will be replaced by Stoffel Vandoorne.

Hughes added: "It is understood that Button has decided against a return to the Williams team with which he started his F1 career 16 years ago."

But McLaren supremo Dennis told the British broadcaster Sky F1 that the contract talks, whilst imminent, have not taken place yet.

"We've always said that Monza would be when we discuss it internally. A final board decision will be taken at the end of September — that's the plan and it's always been the plan," he said.

Meanwhile, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport claims that amid reported talks with Renault, the on-form and heavily-sponsored Mexican Sergio Perez would actually prefer to stay at Force India.

Perez was quoted as saying: "There is no team that does so much with its money. If I have my way, I will drive for Force India next year."

Will the tifosi get 'Mad Max'
Will the tifosi get 'Mad Max'

'No bodyguards' for Verstappen at Monza – manager
(GMM) Max Verstappen's manager has denied reports the Dutch teenager might be wise to take precautions ahead of the Italian grand prix.

After the first-corner clash at Spa, the on-track battles with Kimi Raikkonen and then Sebastian Vettel's post-race comments, Verstappen said the Ferrari-clad duo should be "ashamed".

"I think he shouldn't tell anyone where he's staying in Monza," Bild newspaper quotes Red Bull team boss Christian Horner as saying.

"There could be a lot of unhappy Italian fans," he added.

And the other top Red Bull official, Dr Helmut Marko, said: "I think Max is a red rag to Ferrari. I hope they calm down."

But Verstappen's manager Raymond Vermeulen told the same German newspaper: "We don't need to hide.

"We also don't need bodyguards. Max has moved on and we look forward to Monza," he added.

But Verstappen's race at Spa last weekend has fired a major controversy, with the F1 paddock split over whether he is reckless or simply good for the sport.

Jan Lammers, a former Dutch F1 driver, thinks Verstappen caused much of the raucous with his angry post-race reaction to the criticism.

"Until now he surprised everyone with his mature attitude, but remember he's only 18 years old," he told De Telegraaf newspaper.

"Max is a stone in the formula one pond and these are the ripples," Lammers added. "Not everyone loves that he upsets the established order."

Another former F1 driver, Pierluigi Martini, also hailed the youngster's impact on F1.

"I wish there were more like him," he told Marca sports newspaper.

"He has managed to cause a stir and that is good for formula one. People are tired of rules and judges and although the other drivers criticize him, he has become an idol for the young."

Magnussen will need bigger check for 2017 after destroying 100% of his car at Spa
Magnussen will need a bigger check for 2017 after destroying 100% of his car at Spa

Pundit hopes crash doesn't dent Magnussen chances
(GMM) Danish racing driver Jason Watt hopes Kevin Magnussen's huge crash at Eau Rouge doesn't dent his chances of staying at Renault in 2017.

Despite hurting his ankle in the 40-plus G impact, Dane Magnussen is uninjured and will travel to Monza for mandatory FIA checks on Thursday.

"I'm feeling much better, which is very good news," the 23-year-old said.

"I've had several checks that show I am fit to race in Monza and I am sure I will be in the car this weekend," Magnussen added.

But the timing of the crash was bad news for the Danish driver, who is pushing to prove to Renault that he should be kept on board for 2017.

Magnussen had qualified 12th and was running comfortably in the top ten when he crashed.

"It is of course not ideal," fellow Dane Watt, a former F3000 driver, told Ekstra Bladet newspaper. "Far from it.

"It was a golden opportunity for him to strengthen his position relative to Jolyon Palmer," he added.

"But I think the people who must evaluate Kevin also know that accidents can occur and realize that he was clearly much faster than his teammate in both qualifying and the race.

"I don't think he has damaged his chances," said Watt. "I don't think he is any worse off today than he was last week."

However, there remains a strong chance that Magnussen will be ousted at the end of the season, as multiple candidates line up for the two seats at the French works team.

"As I see it, it is a battle between Kevin, Jolyon Palmer, Sergio Perez, Esteban Ocon and Felipe Massa as an outsider," said Watt.

"Perez is looking strong in a Force India and even has lots of money in the luggage. I believe he will be in one of the (Renault) cars next season," he added.

Ecclestone knows how to make money for F1
Ecclestone knows how to make money for F1

Formula 1's Profits Jump 30% To $330M As Fall In Pound's Value Reduces Costs
Formula 1's parent company "has revealed that its operating profits" accelerated by $76.3M to $329.9M last year as a "fall in the value of sterling reduced its costs," according to Sylt & Reid of the London TELEGRAPH.

It has "turbo-charged the sport’s appeal to suitors" which are understood to include American billionaire John Malone’s Liberty Media. It is believed "to be in pole position" to buy the 35% stake in F1 held by its controlling shareholder, private equity firm CVC. F1’s HQ is in London but company documents reveal that "most payments we receive from our counterparties under our commercial contracts are denominated in US dollars."

In contrast, many of F1’s costs, such as paying its 356 staff, "are in pounds so as the value of sterling falls it gets more for the dollars it receives and its costs reverse." Recently-released accounts for Luxembourg-based Delta 2 show that in the year ending December 31, 2015, total costs were down $77.5M to $1.3B on revenue of $1.7B.

F1’s 11 teams are "amongst the biggest beneficiaries of this" as their prize money, which comprises 63% of F1’s underlying profits, surged 4.7% to a record $903.8M last year. F1 is "on track for further boosts as the fallout from Brexit" and a cut in interest rates has driven sterling to "new lows."

At the same time F1 has announced "a string of blockbuster deals."

In March, British broadcaster Sky won the exclusive rights to show F1 from '19 in a deal believed to be worth $125M annually, a 39% increase. Three months later F1 unveiled one of its "biggest-ever sponsorship deals," a partnership with beer brand Heineken worth around $40M annually. TELEGRAPH

Magnussen's destroyed Renault
Magnussen's destroyed Renault

Magnussen set for medical checks on Thursday
Renault has cleared Kevin Magnussen to compete at this weekend's Italian Grand Prix, though he will need to pass an FIA medical examination on Thursday.

Magnussen sustained a heavily bruised left ankle when he lost control of his RS16 at the Belgian Grand Prix last Sunday, slamming into the barriers at Raidillon.

Magnussen was transported to a hospital in nearby Verviers as a precaution before being released on the same day, returning to his native Denmark.

"I'm feeling much better, which is very good news," he said.

"I've had several checks that show I am fit to race in Monza and I am sure I will be in the car this weekend.

"We were running in the top 10 in Belgium and I'm very motivated to repeat this again in Italy."

The final decision regarding Magnussen's participation at Monza will be made by FIA doctors on Thursday, a standard procedure after heavy impacts in a preceding event.

Monza weather forecast looks good for this weekend
Friday – Sunny, high 30°C / low 21°C
Saturday – Light cloud, high 30°C / low 19°C
Sunday – Light cloud, high 29°C / low 19°C

2016 Italian Grand Prix Timetable

Session

Local Time (CEST)

Practice 1

10:00 – 11:30

Practice 2

14:00 – 15:30

Practice 3

11:00 – 12:00

Qualifying

14:00 – 15:00

Race

14:00 – 16:00

Pascal Wehrlein
Pascal Wehrlein

3 questions for Pascal Wehrlein
Pascal, you now have 13 Formula 1 races behind you. How would you sum up your progress so far?
Pascal Wehrlein: In very positive terms. Formula 1 has been a really cool experience for me so far. It's like a dream come true. I've also had some successes, most notably of course my first points finish at Spielberg. Thanks to this result, we are ahead of Sauber in the constructors' championship. This is a great position for our team to be in and one that we aim to defend to the end of the season.

What targets have you set yourself for the rest of the campaign?
Pascal Wehrlein: At the beginning of the season, it was hard to set targets. My main ambition was to score points as a Manor driver. But given our situation, I knew that would be no easy task. The team has made a huge step forward this year, and the car has developed extremely well during the season. From that perspective, we have achieved our goals and also had some successes such as in Bahrain, in Austria and in qualifying last weekend in Belgium. When you achieve your primary targets, you obviously set your next targets even higher. We've managed to bridge the gap to the midfield. We now intend to take more steps forward during the rest of the season. In this regard, the upcoming race weekend at Monza is going to be very important, as we think that our strong Mercedes Power Unit should once again stand us in good stead.

What's your assessment of the season so far in the DTM, and who do you think will be inheriting your crown as the new DTM champion?
Pascal Wehrlein: Obviously, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for my former Mercedes team-mates. From their perspective, the season has been going very well. I've been very pleased about that, because the team initially didn't know exactly how well the new car would perform. But it turned out that Mercedes were now highly competitive on tracks where they wouldn't have expected to be in the last few years, and that they've got the best out of the car there. I'm expecting the title chase to be a straight fight between BMW and Mercedes. My prediction is that it will be either Marco Wittmann or Robert Wickens. They are the two drivers who I regard as most likely to win the championship this season. In the last few races, we've seen how each of the three manufacturers has been focusing on one or at the most two drivers. It's apparent to me that the manufacturers who were complaining loudest last year are now relying heavily on strategy. So for that reason, I wouldn't rule any of the current Top Five or Top Six out of contention.

Look for Hamilton to win in a cakewalk
Look for Hamilton to win in a cakewalk

Italian GP winners preview the race (win guaranteed)
Lewis Hamilton
Spa was about as good as damage limitation can get, I think! It was a fantastic result for me and for the team. The guys deserved it so much after all that hard work, so I was massively pleased for them and proud of what we achieved together. Now we go to Monza – a track I know well from so many racing categories throughout my career and one it's impossible not to love. The speed, the history, the atmosphere… it's just so iconic in every way. Standing on that amazing podium, looking out over a sea of fans on the straight, has to be up there as of the most incredible experiences a sportsman can have. I had a perfect weekend on track there last year. If I can repeat that it would be amazing but we'll see how we look when we get there. It's game on for me now with the penalties out of the way and fresh engines ready to use. I can't wait to get back out there.

Nico Rosberg
It's great to add a classic circuit like Spa to the list of wins. It wasn't a straightforward weekend for us – but everybody did a fantastic job and the car kept improving with every session, so hopefully that puts us on a good curve as we head to another legendary track in Monza. This is a race I really enjoy and one I'd really love to master. The tifosi create such an incredible atmosphere every single time, no matter who wins the race. Last year obviously didn't end so well for me there, so I'm hoping for a bit more luck and a little less fire this time… I'm really enjoying the battle out there right now. We've got several cars in the mix now which is exciting for us and also the fans. For me, I'm taking every race like a cup final. It's great to know you have the team and the car to just go out there and lay it on the line. I can't wait to make our Silver Arrow fly at Monza.

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
We go to Monza in high spirits after a positive weekend by all measures in Spa. Nico drove a perfect race, while a combination of skilled driving and decisive strategy calls meant taking the penalty for Lewis turned out to be far less detrimental than we could even have dared to hope. On top of that, the tremendous job by the guys in the garage proved how strong we are as a unit. They were faultless, with no incident whatsoever on the engines. We're entering a busy final phase of the season, so to see that level of performance in such tough circumstances is encouraging for the road ahead. Eight races remain, with just nine points separating our drivers now. It has been bouncing in both directions – and my gut feeling is we will go long into the season before we see who comes out on top. On top of that, we have already seen our opposition come back stronger after the break – even if luck was not on their side at the last race. If things continue as they have been, we're set for an entertaining end to the year.

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
It seems like yesterday we were in Spa! We were very happy to come out with such a great result in what proved to be a difficult race from a tyre management point of view – quite apart from the challenge of getting one car from the back of the grid to the podium! It was a great start to the second half of the season which puts us in a strong position heading to Monza – another classic, unusual circuit with quite specific demands on the car. The track is characterised by high power sensitivity, heavy demands on brakes and a low-drag configuration requiring a special rear wing. This race sees the same tyre compound allocation as Spa – the Medium, Soft and SuperSoft. However, the energy put through the tyres is notably less at this circuit, so we should see a different situation to the last race from that perspective. Monza is always a fantastic weekend for fans. The tifosi are world famous for their passion for the sport and there's nothing quite like the atmosphere of the crowd gathered under that unique podium. Although they're normally cheering for the red team, above all they love a good race – so we'll aim to provide just that.

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