Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Massa in limbo for 2016
    Massa in limbo for 2016

    F1's Brazilian duo face uncertain future

  • F1 should start 2021 engine planning now – officials
  • Red Bull sets sights on catching Mercedes
  • Red Bull carries out Glasgow demo runs
  • Wolff still wary of Ferrari despite 'setbacks'
  • Grosjean suggests rethink over blue flags
  • Mercedes conservative with tires for Spa
  • Video: Summer F1 shutdown explained
  • Button to discuss contract in Sept.

F1's Brazilian duo face uncertain future
(GMM) F1's two Brazilian drivers are each facing an uncertain future beyond 2016.

The most experienced of the pair is Felipe Massa, the long-time Ferrari driver whose current employer Williams is openly assessing its options for 2017.

But Valtteri Bottas, Massa's current teammate, thinks the British team would be wise to keep the 35-year-old on board.

"Massa is undervalued," the Finn is quoted by the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat as saying. "He is still driving really well.

"It depends on Felipe as well, but personally I see no reason why he can't continue," Bottas added.

Their technical boss, Pat Symonds, apparently agrees, even though deputy team chief Claire Williams has named Jenson Button and Sergio Perez as potential alternatives.

Symonds, however, said: "Drivers are one of the things I am satisfied with regarding our team."

Arguably with a more secure future than Massa is his countryman with an almost identical name — Felipe Nasr.

Over a decade younger and with millions in Banco do Brasil sponsorship, Nasr currently drives for the recently-sold Swiss team Sauber.

He told Brazil's UOL Esporte: "It is not me who takes care of the issue of the contract — I have good people working on it.

"I need to consider all the options and see what is best for us."

The report said Haas could be one alternative, with his manager Steve Robertson said to have been in talks with the Ferrari-linked American team.

Current Haas driver Esteban Gutierrez told UOL Esporte: "Yes, I will continue in formula one. In Haas? We'll see, but definitely I will be in F1."

What will the next generation F1 engine be? All electric?
What will the next generation F1 engine be? All electric?

F1 should start 2021 engine planning now – officials
(GMM) F1 should start putting its mind to the future of the engine regulations, according to two of the sport's leading technical officials.

Mercedes has dominated the first three seasons of the controversial 'power unit era', but the basic 1.6 liter V6 formula is set in stone until the end of 2020.

Some believe F1 took a sharp wrong turn with the state-of-the-art, quieter and highly expensive technology, with even Mercedes' Paddy Lowe agreeing that F1 has a "big question" to ask itself regarding the future.

"It does raise some very big considerations," he said. "How do we define an engine or power unit that is correct for the sport but also relevant to the kind of power units that we will see in the future in road cars?

"Do we make remain in some way related attached to that technology which is increasingly electrical or do we go our own way? So there are some very, very important questions there," added Lowe.

Engine noise has been a big topic since 2014, even though the volume has steadily increased since then to the point that trackside spectators are once again having to use earplugs.

Lowe said: "It doesn't match the sound of the old V8s or the V10s but it still raises an interesting debate. I think road cars in the future will at some point be completely silent if they are all electrical so will we (F1) want noise? Will we associate noise with performance or not?

"There are some very interesting debates there and I think we need to start that process," he added.

Senior Ferrari engineer Jock Clear agrees that F1 collectively "underestimated" the challenge when the current turbo V6 power unit era was devised, disappointing the public and creating big performance gaps in the field.

"As such, the sooner we start, the sooner we'll be aware and the sooner we can come to a solution that will be the best for the sport," he said.

"We need to think about it in the context of what the sport needs, what the public wants, what looks sexy. But fundamentally, it's still a technological challenge and we need to get the technology right," Clear added.

It will be the battle of the titans of F1 – Adrian Newey vs. Aldo Costa as to who can design the best F1 car

Red Bull sets sights on catching Mercedes
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says the outfit's sights are now set on reeling in Formula 1 pace-setter Mercedes, after achieving its previous target of overhauling Ferrari in the championship.

Red Bull has been Mercedes' main challenger in recent races, and moved 14 points clear of Ferrari at the German Grand Prix, with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen claiming a double podium.

"It's been ebbs and flows, but that's where we are in the Constructors' Championship," commented Horner, when asked if it is now fair to call Red Bull the second-fastest team on the grid.

"There's still a long way to go, but our objective was to come into the break ahead of Ferrari.

"There are some races on the calendar [over the second half of the season] which will hopefully be favorable to us, and our objective is to try to close that gap still further to Mercedes.

"I think on average we were within three tenths of them [at Hockenheim]."

Horner went on to state that, despite Red Bull – along with most other Formula 1 teams – switching focus to 2017, and the new regulations, the RB12 will continue to be developed.

"We still have a few bits we can tidy up on the car this year that are in the pipeline and have been ticked off some time ago," added Horner, when asked about Red Bull's plan.

"I think that there is still progress that's going on with the engine, the drivability, so there are some positive things that can hopefully help us try to reduce that gap further."

Mercedes holds a 159-point lead over second-placed Red Bull.

Red Bull carries out Glasgow demo runs
Red Bull has carried out its latest Formula 1 show run at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, as part of Glasgow's Ignition Festival of Motoring this weekend.

Former Red Bull racer David Coulthard and Junior Team member Sergio Sette Camara completed a series of runs in the RB7, which was used by the squad during the 2011 season.

Sette Camara conducted duties on Friday before handing over to local driver Coulthard, who competed for Red Bull between 2005 and 2008, for the remainder of the weekend.

F3 regular Sette Camara joined Red Bull's junior scheme at the start of the year and received his first official Formula 1 test with Toro Rosso at Silverstone last month.

Wolff has nothing to worry about. Ferrari put an engine man (Binotto) in charge of chassis development
Wolff has nothing to worry about. Ferrari put an engine man (Binotto) in charge of chassis development

Wolff still wary of Ferrari despite 'setbacks'
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that the team remains wary of Ferrari's potential, despite its rival encountering "setbacks" during the 2016 season.

Ferrari recovered from a troublesome 2014 campaign to emerge as Mercedes' closest challenger in 2015, securing three victories courtesy of new recruit Sebastian Vettel.

Ferrari hoped to compete for the championship this year but is yet to win a race, has not scored a podium over the last three events, and is now behind Red Bull in the standings.

Mercedes, meanwhile, has triumphed in 11 of the 12 Grands Prix so far in 2016 to open a 159-point advantage in the standings, though Wolff still carries a cautious tone.

"I am not aware that we have received the trophy for the Constructors' title yet – so we will come back nine more times," Wolff told the official Formula 1 website.

"We are skeptical people and believe that you haven't won until it is mathematically over.

"Looking at our competitors: the expectations for Ferrari are always very high – and living up to those expectations is a different matter.

"It needs time to develop – and many times it is not a steady upward trend but you also have setbacks. And probably after a strong 2015 season we see a setback for Ferrari this year.

"But I do believe that they are improving."

Wolff's drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, have led the way in the standings for the third successive season, with Hamilton turning a 43-point deficit into a 19-point advantage.

Despite Hamilton's post-Spanish Grand Prix surge, which has included six victories in a seven-race spell, Wolff reckons the battle between the pair remains wide open.

"We are halfway through the 2016 season and only 19 points separate both," he commented.

"That's less than one race win, and Nico is superb in qualifying – both are on the same level."

Romain Grosjean
Romain Grosjean

Grosjean suggests rethink over blue flags
Haas driver Romain Grosjean has suggested that the rules governing blue flags require a rethink, after team-mate Esteban Gutiérrez received criticism across successive races.

Gutiérrez was called out by Lewis Hamilton in Hungary and Daniel Ricciardo in Germany over his perceived inability to allow the leaders through in an efficient manner.

Formula 1 drivers can be penalized by stewards after a blue flag is shown on three occasions, but Grosjean has called for the regulation to be tweaked.

"When they're coming on new tires, or the same tires and are just faster, it's easy," Grosjean explained, regarding the process of being lapped.

"When you have it [in Germany] when [Sebastian] Vettel was behind me and was two tenths faster, as he was on old tires, and I'm on Super Softs, it would take him 10 laps to close a two-second gap.

"I did a few laps in front then had a warning from [Race Director] Charlie [Whiting] and I lifted, but it cost me 2.6 seconds in one straight, so that was a lot of time lost.

"Ideally I think we'd like a blue flag system which is in function of the delta speed between the cars so if they are one second faster a lap then a two-second gap is fine.

"But if they are only two tenths faster then a two-second mark is just…. you see them in the mirrors and they're miles away and they're not catching up so you're like, 'Why should I let them by?'

Grosjean confirmed that the issue has been discussed in recent Drivers' briefings and accepted that the variables over being lapped creates difficulties.

"The problem is it's a case-by-case thing and it's very tricky, it's hard to police," he explained.

"I would be in favor of a shorter threshold [to be lapped by leaders], but as soon as you see blue flags, you have less than one lap to let the guy by."

The Mercedes generate so much downforce they can run harder tires
The Mercedes generate so much downforce they can run harder tires

Mercedes conservative with tires for Spa
Formula 1 tire supplier Pirelli has revealed the driver-by-driver selections for the Belgian Grand Prix, the first race after the break, with Mercedes picking significantly fewer Super Softs than its rivals.

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will take just four sets of the Super Soft compound to Spa-Francorchamps, while the Ferrari and Williams drivers will take seven each, and the Red Bull drivers six each.

No other team has selected only four sets of the red-marked rubber for the late-August event.

Ferrari, on the other hand, has chosen just one set of Mediums, the hardest compound available.

For the 2016 season, each driver receives 13 dry-weather sets per Grand Prix, with Pirelli choosing two sets for the race (only one of which must be used), and a set of the softest compound, only for use in Q3.

Drivers are free to select any combination of the chosen compounds for the other 10 sets.

What is the F1 summer shutdown?
The Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team's Executive Director (Technical) Paddy Lowe explains what the F1 summer shutdown is. He tells us just what will and won't be going on at the factory during the 2-week break.

Jenson Button
Jenson Button

Button to discuss contract in September

Jenson Button says he will sit down with the McLaren team to discuss his future after the summer break once the season has resumed in September.

The Briton, who has been with the team since the 2010 season, came close to losing his seat at the end of the 2014 season as McLaren reunited with both Fernando Alonso and Honda.

However he signed a last-minute two-year deal to remain, which is set to end later this season.

The 2009 champion could be replaced by Stoffel Vandoorne which would either see him retire or possibly move teams, with Williams the most likely candidate, with team boss Claire Williams admitting he is an "attractive choice" but warned the team wouldn't wait for him to make a decision.

They might not have to wait too long though as Button says contract talks will begin next month.

"I haven't talked to the team yet," explained Button. "In September we are going to sit down and have a chat and decide whether I want to be racing in Formula 1 or whether they want me racing in Formula 1 or what the decision is."

Button says he would consider competing in the World Endurance Championship or even Rallycross in the future.

"If I'm not racing in F1 next year, I don't know where I'm going to be. [I'll] have some fun," he added.

"I would love to be part of the WEC programme. I think I would really enjoy the camaraderie and the team effort that goes into building and racing a car for a long distance event.

"I'd also like to do Rallycross in the future, something my dad did. There's lot of things I'd love to do.

"There are so many options, not just in motorsport, but in other sports, in life."

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