Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Button hopes McLaren can compete for wins in 2017
    Button hopes McLaren can compete for wins in 2017

    Button hopes for four-way title fight in 2017

  • Hamilton fears title lead won't last
  • Pirelli wants Bahrain test for 2017 tires
  • Ocon deal shows strong Mercedes link
  • Steiner: Haas delivered what it promised

Button hopes for four-way title fight in 2017
(GMM) Jenson Button has headed into his summer break declaring that his future in F1 is currently clouded.

F1's most experienced active driver is linked with a return to his first team, Williams, for 2017, but he indicated he only wants to stay in F1 if he can win.

"Driving in formula one is still fun for me," he told Germany's Auto Bild.

"But it's not just about driving, it's also about winning. And for a long time now I haven't been doing that."

Button, 36, said he is at least happy with the regulations direction the sport is heading in for 2017, with more downforce and bigger tires.

"It's in the right direction," the Briton confirmed. "The sport is back on the way up.

"Hopefully we get more races like Barcelona, which everyone loved because four cars fought for victory. That only two drivers from the same manufacturer fight for the title on their own is not what the sport needs."

However, Red Bull and Ferrari have at least looked closer to Mercedes in the past couple of years, while Fernando Alonso thinks McLaren-Honda could be another 2017 title contender.

Button said: "I don't know what it will be like next year.

"What we can say is that the top three teams will also be at the front next year, and hopefully McLaren-Honda as well, looking at our development this year and the talented people on the team.

"Look, it's conceivable, but so far it's just reading tea leaves.

"It's nice to see that things are looking up and I'm part of the programmed, but if you're not on the podium and fighting for wins, you're never happy," added Button.

Unless Mercedes chooses to make Rosberg champion, Hamilton has nothing to fear. He is the better driver and has the best car in F1
Unless Mercedes chooses to make Rosberg champion, Hamilton has nothing to fear. He is the better driver and has the best car in F1

Hamilton fears title lead won't last
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton said he headed into F1's summer break aware that his lead in the world championship might not last for long.

Many pundits are predicting that F1's reigning champion now looks set for a third consecutive world championship, having raced to a 19-point lead over teammate Nico Rosberg at Hockenheim.

But while Rosberg is on schedule with his engine usage in 2016, Hamilton said he is aware that he will need to use a sixth Mercedes V6 this year, thereby incurring a grid penalty.

There is even speculation Mercedes will make use of the overtaking opportunities at the forthcoming Spa or Monza rounds by 'doubling up' with a seventh new engine for Hamilton as well, putting him effectively last on the grid.

"I'm conscious that there's going to be at least one more race where I'm further behind and I don't know how much I'm going to be able to limit the damage," said the Briton.

"Now, the Red Bulls have picked up their pace and it might be difficult to get past them, to even get into the top five. I'm conscious of that," Hamilton added.

He said those worries mean he did not head into the August break thinking he was the clear championship leader.

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

Pirelli F1 tires
Pirelli F1 tires

Pirelli wants Bahrain test for 2017 tires
(GMM) Pirelli chief Paul Hembery has revealed he is pushing for track testing to take place in warmer locations, admitting Bahrain would be "ideal".

Recently at Hockenheim, team officials indicated that even with the cars and tires changing dramatically for 2017, they were not too keen on doing more testing away from the cold temperatures of the European winter.

"I think there's some mule (modified) car testing that's going to happen in Abu Dhabi which traditionally has been hot," said Force India's Otmar Szafnauer.

"As long as Pirelli share all the data equally, we're happy for that to happen and I'm sure the tires will be fine for the start of winter testing."

But Pirelli's Hembery said: "From the perspective of the tire manufacturer, it would be better to go to a warm place at that point in time (winter testing).

"In recent years, we tested in Bahrain which gave us a very clear indication of tire performance.

"I recognize that the teams believe this is a financial penalty, but we are in a sport in which hundreds of millions are spent. A test in Bahrain would be a big step for us to let us know where we'll be for the season," he is quoted by Brazil's UOL Grande Premio.

Manor is officially the Mercedes 'B' team now
Manor is officially the Mercedes 'B' team now

Ocon deal shows strong Manor-Mercedes link
Renault Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul says Esteban Ocon's deal to race for Manor across the remainder of 2016 highlights the "excellent relationship" between his outfit and fellow manufacturer Mercedes.

Manor confirmed on Wednesday that Ocon will replace Rio Haryanto for the rest of the season, after the Indonesian failed to adhere to contractual obligations.

Ocon has been affiliated with Mercedes for a couple of years, with his position with the manufacturer strengthened after winning the GP3 title last season.

Ocon made his debut in DTM this year, alongside his duties as Renault's reserve driver in Formula 1, where he participated in four free practice sessions and a day of in-season testing.

Abiteboul says Ocon's progression reflects the strong alliance between the two manufacturers.

"Esteban joining Manor for the last nine races of the season demonstrates the excellent relationship the two teams, Renault and Mercedes-Benz, have maintained for several years.

"It is an outstanding opportunity for Esteban to gather mileage and race experience in a young, stable and very professional team."

Renault has yet to confirm either of its drivers, Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer, for 2017, and Abiteboul says Ocon's stint at Manor will allow the team to assess his capabilities for the future.

"Esteban will be up against a highly rated and quick team-mate, which will enable us to evaluate him in a representative environment," explained Abiteboul.

"I hope this experience will be of great benefit for him and for Renault in the near future."

Haas has delivered says Steiner
Haas has delivered says Steiner

Steiner: Haas delivered what it promised
Haas team boss Guenther Steiner feels that the outfit "did what we promised to do" on and off the circuit over the first half of its maiden season in Formula 1.

Haas began with sixth- and fifth-place finishes at the Australian and Bahrain Grands Prix, courtesy of Romain Grosjean, before settling in the midfield pack.

More points in Russia and Austria, again through Grosjean, have put the team eighth in the championship standings, just 14 points down on McLaren-Honda.

Asked to sum up Haas' campaign so far, Steiner commented: "It's been ups and downs! Some good ups and some bad downs, but they were never really bad.

"If you start on an up like we did at the first two races, you expect to just keep on going up, but this isn't easy. Everybody is trying to do better than anybody else.

"All in all we can be pretty happy and the guys can be proud of what they did.

"If you have never been in Formula 1 and you see us, you wouldn't think we have done only 10 races. A lot of people have told me that nobody would see that we've just came in this year.

"I think we did what we promised to do, which was that we would come to Formula 1 well-prepared, well-equipped, with good people, make some points and not be last.

"I think we achieved everything, but we still want to be better."

Steiner is now looking for a double points finish and Q3 appearance.

"I always said we are around eighth to 14th, which is where we should be," he added.

"What I would like to try to achieve this year is to have two cars in the points for a race, more than once hopefully, but at least once, and to get into Q3 with one car.

"These are targets we would like to achieve this year. Are they doable? Yes, if all the stars are right. We need to get a good day, a good drive – everything needs to line up."

Haas plans to introduce a final 2016 update package in Singapore.

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