Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • The McLaren Honda is getting competitive
    The McLaren Honda is getting competitive

    Hulkenberg hails McLaren-Honda progress

  • Sirotkin in running for Renault seat – father
  • Red Bull continues Pirelli 2017 testing
  • Ferrari will not 'surrender' against Red Bull
  • Perez's sponsors to dictate who he drives for

Hulkenberg hails McLaren-Honda progress
(GMM) Nico Hulkenberg has hailed McLaren-Honda's rate of improvement in 2016.

The German drives for Force India, the small Silverstone based outfit that has impressed by taking on Williams for the role of F1's fourth-quickest team.

But Hulkenberg says McLaren-Honda is no longer too far behind.

Force India is currently just 15 points behind Williams for fourth, but Hulkenberg is quoted by Spain's AS newspaper: "We want to fight for it and, in my view, McLaren-Honda will also be there.

"I think in the remainder of the season, we will have a very intense battle between these three teams," he added. "The truth is that the McLaren looks better all the time."

While the battle in 2016 will continue to rage, most teams are now beginning to focus very hard on the big change of chassis and tire regulations for 2017.

But Honda's Yusuke Hasegawa said of the remaining goals for 2016: "McLaren wants to finish as the third force, and Honda wants to improve by half a second."

Sergey Sirotkin
Sergey Sirotkin

Sirotkin in running for Renault seat – father
(GMM) Sergey Sirotkin's father thinks the 20-year-old Russian is in the running to step into a race seat with Renault for 2017.

Sirotkin first made F1 headlines in 2013, when his father Oleg was at the Centre of a so-called Russian rescue deal for the Sauber team that ultimately fell through.

Sergey, however, is now a frontrunner in GP2, where at Hockenheim he took the joint lead in the championship standings.

Sirotkin is also a test driver for the French works team Renault, thanks to his backing by the Russian program SMP Racing.

His father Oleg told Russian radio Sport FM that Sergey taking the lead in the GP2 championship is significant.

"GP2 is the last step before formula one so it is really a merit to his efforts and SMP Racing," Oleg said.

"As for Renault, Sergey will still do some formula one tests and we are in fact talking about Sergey getting a chance with the team.

"The first thing to do is minimally the top three in the GP2 championship, but it is better to win. The Russian market is very important to Renault, and the presence of a Russian driver I think would be very good for them," he added.

Buemi tests wide 2017 tires for Red Bull
Buemi tests wide 2017 tires for Red Bull

Red Bull continues Pirelli 2017 testing
Pirelli continued its 2017 tire testing program with Red Bull on Wednesday, as Formula E champion Sebastien Buemi returned to the wheel of a Formula 1 car.

Ferrari kicked off Pirelli's development work at Fiorano earlier this week, with Sebastian Vettel and Esteban Gutierrez running provisional Intermediate and Wet compounds.

Directly after that test session, Buemi, running in a modified RB11, racked up 82 laps at fellow Italian track Mugello, as the Swiss driver sampled further slick compounds.

Buemi will drive again for Red Bull and Pirelli on Thursday.

Pirelli's tire development test schedule:

Dates Track Team Type Drivers
August 1/2 Fiorano Ferrari Wets Sebastian Vettel / Esteban Gutierrez
August 3/4 Mugello Red Bull Slicks Sebastien Buemi
September 6/7 Barcelona Ferrari Slicks TBA
September 6/7/8 Paul Ricard Mercedes Slicks TBA
September 21/22 Paul Ricard Mercedes Wets TBA
October 12/13 Barcelona Mercedes Slicks TBA
October 14/15/16 Abu Dhabi Red Bull Slicks TBA
November 2/3 Abu Dhabi Red Bull Slicks TBA
November 14/15/16 Abu Dhabi Ferrari Wets TBA
November 29 Abu Dhabi Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull All TBA
Maurizio Arrivabene will have to surrender, he put an engine guy ahead of the chassis and aero development. Ferrari is going one way and it isn't up
Maurizio Arrivabene will have to surrender, he put an engine guy ahead of the chassis and aero development. Ferrari is going one way and it isn't up

Ferrari will not 'surrender' against Red Bull
Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene insists it will not "surrender" against Red Bull, despite slipping behind its rivals in the championship prior to Formula 1's summer break.

Ferrari began the year expecting to fight Mercedes for the title and only a strategic blunder denied Sebastian Vettel the chance of opening his 2016 account with victory in Australia.

However, Ferrari has failed to finish on the podium at the past three Grands Prix and is now down to third position in the Constructors' standings, 14 points behind Red Bull.

Arrivabene is nonetheless adamant that Ferrari can fight back against Red Bull and that the team just needs to "fine tune" its current situation in order to move ahead once more.

"Mercedes is unbelievably strong and this is something that is in front of all of us," said Arrivabene, as he discussed the current pecking order in Formula 1.

"I have to say that they [Red Bull] improved quite well and that's something that was in our mind.

"But it doesn't mean we are going to surrender and we have to think about it and react.

"Regarding Red Bull, if you look at the race in Hungary, we were much quicker than them, so it's not a drama, we just need to fine tune and to fix [matters]."

Ferrari has not won a title since its Constructors' crown in 2008.

Sergio Perez has huge check will drive a better car in 2017
Sergio Perez has huge check will drive a better car in 2017

Perez's sponsors to dictate who he drives for
Force India has revealed Sergio Perez's Formula 1 future is out of its hands, as it has no influence over the Mexican driver's sponsors writes Ian Parkes of Autosport.

While Perez does have a contract with Force India for 2017, as previously stated by team principal Vijay Mallya, Autosport has learned there is effectively an escape clause in the deal.

Given the substantial investment behind Perez from his Mexican backers, that group – in conjunction with the 26-year-old – controls his F1 destiny.

Autosport revealed during the German Grand Prix weekend that Renault is hoping to recruit Perez in the coming weeks, while Williams is also known to have had discussions with his sponsors.

Force India is naturally hoping to retain its current lineup of Perez and Nico Hulkenberg, but appreciates the ball is not in its court.

"It's a case of seeing how the promotional side goes," deputy team principal Bob Fernley told Autosport.

"We'd dearly love to keep everyone on board, but it's their decisions at the end of the day, not ours.

"Vijay's main objective is to keep the driver pairing together, and that's what we're after. "But at the end of the day everybody has to make their own minds up.

"We can only influence the drivers; we can't influence the commercial side."

Although there is a possibility Perez could leave, Fernley has confirmed there is no plan B, as it would be wrong to start talks with another driver only for Perez to stay.

"I don't think you can play that game, you have to play it straight," added Fernley.

"There's a contract in place, and unless something happens with that I don't think you can dangle a carrot to another driver. It's not fair.

"For me, we've got plan A, and plan A is what it is. If that fails only then will we have a plan B.

"You know another driver will have his future in place, and if we know that is the case then we wouldn't want to mislead them in any way."

Suggested to Fernley it would be preferable for an answer from Perez as soon as possible to allow the team the time to find a replacement, he replied: "It will look after itself. I'm not unduly worried."

Perez at least suggested that by the next race in Belgium in late August his future will be resolved.

"I will have a break to reflect on what we [Force India] have done," he told Autosport.

"It's great what we have achieved this year. "I really hope by the time I come back to Spa I can define my future.

"There are a couple of options, very attractive options, but I haven't made my decision yet." Ian Parkes/Autosport

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