Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Frederic Vasseur getting close to deciding which ride-buyers checks to take for 2017
    Frederic Vasseur getting close to deciding which ride-buyers checks to take for 2017

    Renault getting close to 2017 driver call

  • Nasr denies taking political sides in Brazil
  • Montezemolo denies latest Schumacher comments
  • Ocon: "I hadn't expected to make the step up to F1 quite this soon"
  • Hamilton: Winning over doubters 'awesome'

Renault getting close to 2017 driver call
(GMM) Renault is now mere weeks from closing on its driver lineup for the 2017 season.

In recent months, speculation has been building that Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer's futures are not secure, with the duo each on only one-year deals.

Reportedly in the running to potentially replace them are French teen Esteban Ocon, who will be evaluated by Renault during his forthcoming stint at Manor, as well as Sergio Perez, Valtteri Bottas, Felipe Massa and others.

However, team boss Frederic Vasseur insists that Magnussen and Palmer cannot be written off yet, particularly as the French marque has struggled for performance after buying Lotus and rebranding it the Renault works team.

"It's not easy for them either," he told F1's official website.

"They have been used to winning in the past — and now they are cut off from that.

"I see both of them improving," Vasseur added. "Keep in mind that Jo (Palmer) is a rookie and Kevin did only one season before — and that was two years ago.

"Both have a very optimistic approach. They are a good support for the team."

Vasseur has said that Renault needs drivers who can inspire from the cockpit, and is looking to build the next star rather than sign an existing champion.

"If you look at the success stories of the past, success was always built around a driver: Schumacher and Ferrari, Vettel and Red Bull, Lewis and Mercedes, and also Alonso and Renault in the past — so the driver is important," he said.

"It is too early to make any decision right here and now. We will probably do it at the beginning of September," Vasseur added.

Felipe Nasr
Felipe Nasr

Nasr denies taking political sides in Brazil
(GMM) Felipe Nasr has denied taking a political side this week after making an official visit to Brazil's acting president Michel Temer.

Brazil's elected president, Dilma Rousseff, was recently suspended amid accusations of corruption and fiscal crimes and stands to be impeached. She claims her suspension is akin to an anti-democratic "coup".

Indeed, interim president Michel Temer was loudly booed at the opening ceremony for the Olympics in Rio recently, and has opted to skip the forthcoming closing ceremony.

So it was amid those controversies this week that Sauber driver Nasr, one of two Brazilians on the F1 grid, visited Temer at his office.

But the 23-year-old driver denied he was taking a political side.

"I didn't come to show support," O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper quoted him as saying.

"I came as a representative of Brazil and show my willingness to help the country.

"I am a representative of my country, regardless of the party, regardless of like or dislike."

Nasr said he was happy to discover that, like himself, Temer is of Lebanese descent, but he denied that he discussed the potential investment by the Brazilian government of investment in motor sport.

However, Nasr and his Swiss team Sauber are backed by the Banco do Brasil, which is majority owned by the Brazilian government.

He said: "Sponsorship is essential for any athlete, not only those in motor sport."

Luca di Montezemolo
Luca di Montezemolo

Montezemolo denies latest Schumacher comments
(GMM) International publications and Luca di Montezemolo have clarified reports this week that suggest Michael Schumacher's condition is now improving.

Numerous authoritative media outlets on Tuesday quoted former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo as having given the promising news to 'Ecunemical News'.

"I'm very pleased to know that he (Schumacher) is reacting," Montezemolo said.

However, Spain's El Mundo Deportivo said of Montezemolo's words: "They are not new, but date back to May 2016."

Indeed, official news about the great seven time world champion's condition in the wake of his late 2013 skiing accident has been scant for months, as the German's family and manager Sabine Kehm fiercely guard their privacy.

Bild, a German newspaper that has closely followed 47-year-old Schumacher's career and life, also said in the wake of the latest reports that the former Ferrari and Mercedes driver's condition "has not changed appreciably".

And Sky Italia has quoted a spokesman for Montezemolo as also playing down this week's reports.

"He never made such statements and has not spoken about Schumacher's health for several months," he said, adding that the latest reports are "totally unfounded".

Esteban Ocon
Esteban Ocon

Ocon: "I hadn't expected to make the step up to F1 quite this soon"
Esteban, you're just one and a half weeks away from making your Formula 1 debut with Manor Racing. Would you ever have thought that the step up to Formula 1 could come quite so early in your career?
Esteban Ocon: No, not at all. But thanks to all the tests and my preparation this year, I feel ready for it. It's helped me a lot. But I never thought that I would be offered this opportunity quite so soon. At the same time, I'm very happy about it and I'm looking forward immensely to my first Formula 1 race weekend in Belgium.

Are you nevertheless a bit disappointed that you're unable to bring your first DTM season to a conclusion?
Esteban Ocon: Yes, I'm a bit sad that I cannot complete the DTM adventure. I've kept raising my level of performance in the course of the season and gained a lot of experience. My pace has been steadily improving. So from that perspective, it's a pity that I'm unable to finish the season with the team. But it's not possible to compete simultaneously in both championships. Consequently, I had to decide, and the decision went in favor of Formula 1.

After a few days' holiday with friends, you now begin with the preparations for your first Formula 1 race at Spa. To what extent do these preparations differ from those in the DTM?
Esteban Ocon: It was nice to relax on vacation with friends. It helped take my mind off things. But since the announcement was made, of course, I've also been training hard. The training isn't all that different from in the DTM. I'm preparing as thoroughly as possible so that I'll be ready for my first F1 race weekend. Before going to Spa, I will meet up with my new team again and we'll go through all the details together.

Hamilton knows in his heart when you have the superior car on the grid you have only one person to beat - your teammate.
Hamilton knows in his heart when you have the superior car on the grid you have only one person to beat – your teammate.

Hamilton: Winning over doubters 'awesome'
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton says it is "awesome" to be winning over doubters who have criticized his life outside Formula 1, and hopes he can prove more people wrong in the future.

Critics have targeted Hamilton's hectic off-track lifestyle during dips in form, most recently the final three races of 2015 and first four of 2016 – all won by team-mate Nico Rosberg.

When asked to react to ex-Formula 1 driver John Watson changing his mind on the three-time World Champion's choices, Hamilton said: "Personally, I think that's awesome.

"I like that view… I think for all of us in general it's easy to get stuck in our ways and our views – sometimes we're not willing to be open-minded about things and we're not willing to shift.

"It's taken a long time. It's been 10 years! I've definitely seen plenty of interesting stories from him.

"I just live life the way I want to live it and there's not a day that goes by that I regret living it.

"I really believe that you never know when it will be your last day, so I think that the most important thing is to enjoy and embrace whatever opportunity it is that you have ahead of you.

"If you've got set goals, put everything into it, but along the way you've still got to enjoy it.

"But I think that's a real positive thing to see, not only in this little scenario, but in life in general."

Hamilton trailed Rosberg by 43 points after their opening-lap collision at the Spanish Grand Prix, but has turned it around – taking six victories from seven races – to lead the way by 19 points.

"I'm going continue to do what I do and drive the way I drive, and hopefully over the next god knows how many years, if I change one other person's perception, that would be a success," he summed up.

Hamilton would move to joint third in the all-time list by winning a fourth title.

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