Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Charlie Whiting says track limits must be policed
    Charlie Whiting says track limits must be policed

    Track limits must be policed – Whiting

  • Teen Ocon can handle F1 pressure – Lagrue
  • Hamilton to take engine penalty at Monza
  • Tires to dominate battle for fourth – Symonds
  • Toro Rosso 'good place' for 2017 – Kvyat
  • Honda: 'Next year we're aiming to match the Mercedes engine
  • Renault basing 2017 car on 2015 model
  • Williams ready for a star driver, says Symonds

Track limits must be policed – Whiting
(GMM) Two F1 team bosses have slammed the current situation in the sport regarding the thorny topic of so-called 'track limits'.

Just before the summer break, leading team chiefs approached Charlie Whiting to plead for a change of heart, with interpretations of the legal limits of the track having controversially changed from corner to corner, and track to track – and even day to day – in recent races.

Mercedes' Toto Wolff thinks the FIA should stop policing the limits altogether.

"Let them race," he is quoted by Gulf News. "It is good for the spectacle and great for the fans.

"If you start to analyzing white lines and whether a driver has put two centimeters of his tire over the marks and his laptime is taken away, nobody understands."

Red Bull's Christian Horner has a slightly different view, believing that while track limits should be policed, it should at least be done so consistently.

"You just cannot take it corner by corner and my frustration is like so many other people's," he said. Horner thinks a "white line" marking the extremities of the track should be strictly policed, just like in tennis.

The other issue, Wolff explained, is the lack of consistency.

"In Germany is was stupid," he said. "The legislation was changed three times."

F1 race director Whiting, however, said it is just not feasible to stop policing track limits.

"I felt that was inappropriate," he said, following the requests of team bosses at Hockenheim to drop the policing. "I think we should carry on doing what we do.

"There are certain corners on certain tracks that do present us with little problems but we are getting rid of them one by one.

"The difficulty of allowing complete freedom and letting them go very wide and no longer taking any notice is that simply there would be a different track fundamentally and it would be faster and there would be less run-off — so we couldn't possibly contemplate it," Whiting added.

Esteban Ocon ready for F1
Esteban Ocon ready for F1

Teen Ocon can handle F1 pressure – Lagrue
(GMM) The head of Mercedes' driver development program insists Esteban Ocon is ready for F1.

The 19-year-old Frenchman is set to make his grand prix debut this weekend at Spa, after Manor racer Rio Haryanto's funding dried up.

Ocon is stepping up from being Renault's reserve driver, and is under consideration for a full race seat for 2017, but he is actually signed up to Mercedes' driver development program.

He beat Max Verstappen to the European F3 crown in 2014, and is the reigning GP3 champion.

"We were able to verify in the lower categories that Esteban always responds in the most intense moments in terms of pressure," said Gwen Lagrue, who since early this year has been Mercedes' development driver chief.

"In FP1 for Renault this season, he has not made any mistakes," he told Auto Hebdo magazine, referring to Ocon.

"At Spa, perhaps he will feel a greater emotion from what he has experienced so far, but I have total confidence that he can handle the pressure on F1. He is ready," Lagrue insisted.

Hamilton's car is so superior he can win from anywhere
Hamilton's car is so superior he can win from anywhere

Hamilton to take engine penalty at Monza
(GMM) It has been decided that Lewis Hamilton will slide down the grid at Monza.

The reigning world champion extended his lead in the 2016 standings recently, but insisted he still doesn't feel like the true leader because he is running short on engines.

"It's still not enough because I'm not a race win ahead yet," he said. "I hope I'll be able to get a race win ahead and then I'll feel like I am ahead."

He will get the chance to do just that at Spa this weekend, before taking a fresh Mercedes engine and a subsequent grid penalty at Monza a week later, according to Russia's Sportbox.

"Why Monza? Because we want to minimize the impact of the penalty and it's easier to overtake there," said team boss Toto Wolff.

Pat Symonds
Pat Symonds

Tires to dominate battle for fourth – Symonds
(GMM) Mastering Pirelli's tires will be the key to a close battle for top spot behind F1's 'big three' teams in the latter phase of the 2016 championship.

That is the view of Williams' technical boss Pat Symonds, referring to the British team's efforts to fend off the threat posed by Force India but also Toro Rosso and McLaren over the remaining nine races of the season.

"I believe that in terms of the relative strengths of the teams, things will be more static from now," he told Brazil's UOL Esporte.

Symonds is of course referring to the fact that, with huge technical rules changes coming for 2017, most of the grid will now focus all development efforts on next year's cars.

But he said that doesn't mean the pecking order won't go up and down.

"The problem is that not many of us are really on top of these tires," said Symonds. "We are in a situation where, when we get it right with the tires, we have a good weekend, but the next weekend the result is quite different and another team is doing well.

"We will continue to see these ups and downs," he added.

But Symonds doubts that the teams' ability to choose their compounds per race will be particularly crucial in the latter stage of 2016.

"We are now making these choices with more experience and so probably the trend is that the choices will be increasingly similar," he said.

Toro Rosso is the most Daniil Kvyat's check can buy
Toro Rosso is the most Daniil Kvyat's check can buy

Toro Rosso 'good place' for 2017 – Kvyat
(GMM) Daniil Kvyat has admitted staying at Toro Rosso would be a "very good place" for him to continue his career in formula one.

Earlier in 2016, the Russian seemed psychologically destroyed by his demotion from Red Bull's top team.

Kvyat, 22, doesn't deny it.

"I love formula one, but I did not enjoy May, June, those months which was not the best period for me mentally, but sometimes it happens in your career and the future is much better," he told the Spanish website LaF1.

Kvyat's bosses including Franz Tost and Dr Helmut Marko are not writing him off yet, and now even Kvyat seems open to continuing his F1 adventure with the junior outfit Toro Rosso.

"It has been a pretty interrupted career," he said.

"I'm no longer a rookie so I'm looking now for consistency, a place to settle down and show my full potential."

Asked, however, if he is worried about his F1 future, Kvyat answered: "I'm not worried, I'm ready for whatever happens.

"There is no rush for me or anyone, we take our time to make an informed decision that is best for me and for them. Toro Rosso, of course, is a very good place to continue my career and we are considering this scenario.

"The decision is not far away, so for now we just have to wait," he added.

Kvyat, though, said he is confident.

"At Toro Rosso I feel quite comfortable. I know the people here. What remains now is to find consistency in the car and the problems we have on the track, and as soon as we have that, the rest will come.

"More or less, I know what I need to do in the future," he insisted.

Yusuke Hasegawa
Yusuke Hasegawa

Honda: 'Next year we're aiming to match the Mercedes engine
Honda have set themselves the ambitious target of not only closing the performance gap to rivals Renault and Ferrari, but to overhaul them and match the level of the Mercedes power unit next year.

Honda's engine chief Yusuke Hasegawa admitted they're still the fourth best in terms of power, and the gap to Renault may have increased following the French manufacturer's massive Monaco upgrade, the scale and success of which surprised Honda.

"We're number four. It is Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and then Honda," admitted to Hasegawa to Autosport.

"We have a huge gap to Renault. I've been surprised by their progress. They have done a very good job."

However Honda aren't letting that get them down and believe the removal of the token system next year will allow them to explore every possible opportunity for improvement, allowing them to achieve the current level of the Mercedes unit.

"Next year, we're aiming to achieve the level of Mercedes engine," he added. "At this moment, I don't know if that is possible but that is our aim.

"Because there are no tokens, we can search anywhere the possibility to improve and we can choose the area to modify so that give us more freedom to consider.

Frederic Vasseur admits this year's Renault is junk
Frederic Vasseur admits this year's Renault is junk

Renault basing 2017 car on 2015 model
"The no token system removes the mental barrier for us."

Renault's 2017 Formula 1 challenger will be based on last year's model, as opposed to its current RS16 chassis, Team Principal Frederic Vasseur has outlined.

Renault returned to F1 as a works team for 2016 after a protracted takeover of Lotus, powered by Mercedes in 2015, which has compromised its car and engine package.

As a result, Renault switched focus to 2017 – and the regulation overhaul – early in the season, and Vasseur has revealed that the outfit is using the 2015 design as a base.

"Yes, we do consider 2017 a good opportunity for us," Vasseur told the official Formula 1 website, when asked about abandoning 2016 development earlier than its rivals.

"Right now we are using a 2015-designed car that was built around a Mercedes engine, so when switching to a Renault engine [for 2016] we suffered from the very beginning.

"We are not building the 2017 car based on the 2016 one, but on the 2015 car – that is a lot of catching-up!

"But as I just said, 2017 holds a good opportunity for us. Yes, right now it is a bit stressful to manage such a huge gap based on the structure that we have – but we are working hard on it."

Renault currently holds ninth in the standings on six points, 22 adrift of Haas and five clear of Manor, and Vasseur admits the team is unlikely to gain any positions in 2016.

"Well, the pecking order seems quite clear," he went on to comment.

Pat Symonds - Williams ready for a driver with a really bug check
What Pat Symonds is saying if you read between the lines – Williams ready for a driver with a really big check to boost the team budget and make them stronger

Williams ready for a star driver, says Symonds
Williams is ready to recruit a star driver following its progress over the last couple of Formula 1 seasons, according to its technical director Pat Symonds.

The team finished third in the constructors' championship in 2014 and '15 and currently lies fourth with nine races to go this term. Symonds has previously said Williams would prioritize spending on development of its car over trying to secure a superstar driver. However, he now believes Williams is in a position to attract a big name driver and give them a car worthy of their abilities.

"In 2014, people were asking why don't you go and get [Fernando] Alonso and things like that and I said no, we weren't ready as a team and we weren't ready financially," Symonds said. "As a team now, I would welcome any driver.

"We can produce the goods but we're not a big-budget team. One of the skills of a team like ours is to allocate resource correctly whether it's human resource or financial resource and that includes the resource spent on drivers. So one would need a balance."

It is believed Williams favors keeping Valtteri Bottas on for a fifth season with Jenson Button, Sergio Perez and Felipe Nasr also understood to be in contention for a seat.

Symonds said he is happy with the current line-up of Bottas and Felipe Massa, teammates since 2014, particularly with the new regulations coming in.

"Continuity is an important thing, particularly when you're moving into a relatively new set of technical regulations, but you can't have the same drivers forever," he said. "Because we have two equally matched drivers, I hope we keep at least one of them, if not both. I'd be happy if we had both of them.

"Being in racing for 40 years, I've had a lot of years where I have had one really good team driver and one not so good. I've had years where I've had two that were not so good. I honestly think the last three years I've never had two drivers who have worked together so well and are such good team members.

It's taken me a long while to get to that joyous place." Lawrence Barretto/Autosport

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