Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Mercedes drivers read the riot act
    Mercedes drivers read the riot act

    Mercedes duo hears 'firm' new crash rules

  • Sauber has secured its F1 future – Kaltenborn
  • Perez leaving Ferrari future open
  • Wehrlein could get second year at Manor
  • Lower profile for Jos helping Max Verstappen – Marko
  • Marko hints Kvyat to keep Toro Rosso seat
  • Honda takes engine upgrade to Silverstone
  • Ocon in running for 2017 Renault seat – Vasseur
  • 'Frail' Murray Walker to sit out British GP
  • Ferrari re-signs Kimi Raikkonen for 2017 F1 season

Mercedes duo hears 'firm' new crash rules
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg face harsh penalties should Mercedes' "final warning" about in-race collisions not be listened to.

After their Austrian clash, the pair met with a stern Toto Wolff early on Thursday where a mysterious set of consequences for more crashes was laid out.

"Both know the consequences. They listened carefully but we will not make the details public," Wolff told Bild newspaper. "But they know where they stand.

"This is the final warning. There are new rules in place now. We are speaking about possible sporting and financial consequences," he added.

Crucially, however, the world champion team has shied away from its earlier threat of imposing team orders, amid speculation Mercedes has instead raised the specter of financial penalties or even race suspensions.

"It doesn't really change anything," said Hamilton. "I will still race." When asked if the deterrents put in place are "scary", he added: "I guess I should say yes."

But the reigning world champion later added: "The (rules) amendment, I can assure you, is very, very firm."

Rosberg, who was booed by the crowd at Silverstone on Thursday, commented: "The message has arrived from the team and they have done a good job in bringing home the message."

When asked about F1's hottest topic, Fernando Alonso said Mercedes could afford to put away the idea about team orders because of its continuing dominance.

"If Ferrari or Red Bull was close to them they may have had more pressure, but Mercedes will have no problem to win the world championship," he told Spanish reporters.

Ride-buyer Marcus Ericsson's Swedish backers rumored to have bought into Sauber
Ride-buyer Marcus Ericsson's Swedish backers rumored to have bought into Sauber

Sauber has secured its F1 future – Kaltenborn
(GMM) Sauber has "found a solution" to its financial woes that almost sunk the Swiss F1 team.

That is the news from team co-owner and boss Monisha Kaltenborn, amid rumors and reports that Marcus Ericsson's Swedish backers are buying the team.

"I will not comment on rumors, but I can confirm that we have found a solution," she told Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper.

"I will not name a time frame for the announcement but I can say that we have reason for optimism," Kaltenborn added.

She said the Hinwil team's situation since former owner BMW's withdrawal in 2009 has been "very difficult", often designing a car for the new year without knowing if it will be raced.

"Also with the economic environment of the global crisis," said Kaltenborn. "From this view, it's surprising how long Sauber lasted. Not only that, every rule change meant additional costs, while of course we didn't always do everything right ourselves.

"But now it is about stabilizing the team and primarily securing jobs. We have now succeeded at that," she revealed.

So Sauber is now planning for the future, Kaltenborn declared, even though the team will not be running in the post-British grand prix Silverstone test.

"We have prepared a few innovations and are able to implement them now. But we must also look to 2017," she said.

Kaltenborn said Sauber is staying with Ferrari power for 2017 while "the drivers will be announced in due course".

"After the financial security we want to improve," she explained. "We have put the pressure behind us now, let's see how far we can get."

With Raikkonen re-signed by Ferrari (see below) Sergio Perez cannot buy into Ferrari just yet
With Raikkonen re-signed by Ferrari (see below) Sergio Perez cannot buy into Ferrari just yet

Perez leaving Ferrari future open
(GMM) Sergio Perez is still leaving the door open to a move away from Force India for 2017.

The Mexican is in top form this year, triggering widespread speculation that Ferrari could buy him out of his contract with the Silverstone based team.

"I've said several times that I have not decided my future and when I do, I will let you know," Perez was quoted by the Spanish sports newspaper Marca at Silverstone.

He said the time is not right to be embroiled in talks about the future.

"I am concentrating on these three races before the summer (break) which is an important moment for as in our fight with Williams," said Perez.

"Outside of that, I'm in a good position," he admitted.

"At some point I will see what options I have on the market and make the best decision, but it's a good situation to have options."

When asked specifically if he has received an offer from Ferrari, Perez answered: "Today there is nothing, but if there is something more in the future, I don't know."

Pascal Wehrlein
Pascal Wehrlein

Wehrlein could get second year at Manor
(GMM) Pascal Wehrlein has said it is possible he will stay at Manor for a second season in 2017.

The rookie German but also his backers at Mercedes were relieved in Austria when Wehrlein, the 21-year-old reigning DTM champion, finally had a standout weekend performance in Austria, resulting in a rare point for the backmarker team.

"It is really nice for the team and also for me," he told DPA news agency at Silverstone.

"If we could finish the year in this position, it would help us a lot for next year regarding the prize money," explained Wehrlein.

But the Red Bull Ring performance also dispelled any doubts in the mind of his mentor, Mercedes chief Toto Wolff, that Wehrlein is a "very special" driver.

"It helped me a lot to prove to a few other important people that I have the talent," Wehrlein admitted.

As for his future, the 21-year-old answered: "Of course I'd like to go straight into Mercedes and win races and hopefully the world championship, but if there is no way, I'm glad to get another year at Manor."

Max (L) now relies more on his engineer Xevi Pujolar (R) than his father
Max (L) now relies more on his engineer Xevi Pujolar (R) than his father

Lower profile for Jos helping Max Verstappen – Marko
(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko has confirmed that Jos Verstappen's step into the background in recent races has been deliberate.

Until his shock mid-season graduation from Toro Rosso to Red Bull, teen sensation Max Verstappen was always side-by-side with his famous father, former F1 driver Jos.

But Marko, the architect of Red Bull's driver program, said it was time for Max to step out on his own.

"Max is maturing," he told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.

"It's not for nothing that his father is now moving into the background. Jos and lived their whole lives, just about day and night always together," added Marko.

"That is now changing. Max learns to stand on his own two feet."

When told that Max runs the risk of racing off the rails without supervision, however, Marko hit back: "He is 18, he lives in Monaco and has an Aston Martin. I think it could be worse."

Although Daniel Ricciardo still seems less than 100 per cent committed to his place at Red Bull for 2017, Marko insists that together with the Australian, Verstappen and Ricciardo is the top driver lineup in F1.

"I'm already looking forward to 2017," he said.

"The development of the new car and the developments at Renault look good. Very good indeed.

"I seriously believe we have the package with the new rules next year to compete seriously for the championship with Ricciardo and Verstappen.

"They would then have to fight each other to show who is the best," Marko added.

Daniil Kvyat's Toro Rosso ride secure as long as the Russian checks don't bounce
Daniil Kvyat's Toro Rosso ride secure as long as the Russian checks don't bounce

Marko hints Kvyat to keep Toro Rosso seat
(GMM) Daniil Kvyat's chances of keeping his seat at Toro Rosso next year appear to be growing.

Earlier, the disappointed Russian and his Red Bull paymasters looked destined to split, following Kvyat's demotion to the secondary team.

But Toro Rosso chief Franz Tost sounds keen to keep the 22-year-old in 2017, and the ultimate decision-maker – Dr Helmut Marko – seems to agree.

Defending his decision to demote Kvyat, Marko told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf: "It was a win-win situation.

"As a team, you want the two best drivers in the best cars and we needed the championship points – the difference between third and fourth is about twenty million so that's the easiest sponsor of all.

"The call to Kvyat was not fun, but I'm supposed to act in the interest of Red Bull. And afterwards it proved to be a correct decision.

"Verstappen has shown he can handle the pressure of a top team, and at Toro Rosso Kvyat is trying to recover now. He is more relaxed and open than in his time at Red Bull," he said.

As for Kvyat's chances of keeping that seat for 2017, Marko indicated it is possible.

"We want Toro Rosso to fight for fourth of fifth in the constructors' championship, and that is only possible with two good drivers," he said.

"We do not want a new driver just because he is new. We want a new driver if he has the potential in our eyes to win races. And at this time, I do not see someone else.

"So maybe this lineup will stay as it is now," added Marko.

Honda takes engine upgrade to Silverstone
(GMM) Honda has brought an updated engine to the British grand prix.

McLaren-Honda Fernando Alonso said the improvements are related to the Japanese power unit's internal combustion engine, which is now Honda's focus for catching up with Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault.

"In electric power we are already on a level with the top manufacturers," Alonso told Spanish reporters at Silverstone.

"In the V6, we still lack quite a lot so I expect that we will achieve a good step in performance here mainly because of the engine.

"Theoretically we have a bit more power and that's always welcome. We'll see what happens on the track," the Spaniard added.

Esteban Ocon's check might be bigger than Magnussen's or Palmer's
Esteban Ocon's check might be bigger than Magnussen's or Palmer's

Ocon in running for 2017 Renault seat – Vasseur
(GMM) Renault's newly-promoted 'team principal' has admitted French youngster Esteban Ocon is in the running for a race seat in 2017.

This week, although he was already running the new French works team, Frederic Vasseur had his place at Enstone memorialized with the official title of team boss.

But although still in 2016, Renault has its eye firmly on the future.

The team's competitiveness has not been good this year after taking over the almost-collapsed Lotus outfit, but Vasseur said everyone at Renault "knows that the project is for the medium and long term".

"We started from scratch," he told Brazil's Globo.

"If you look at other projects, you see that Mercedes needed five years to be world champion, and Red Bull won its first race only after five years. It is always a long-term process," Vasseur added.

So after Lotus almost collapsed, he said Renault is now "investing heavily" at Enstone in a process that will continue for "the next two or three years".

"To enlarge the space, build a new building, it takes time," said Vasseur. "If you hire engineers from another team, you must comply with grace periods until they can start so it means it (their work) doesn't go on the car for two years.

"You need time to develop a team and have to accept it," he added.

"If you focus your interest only on getting a good result at Silverstone you are lost. You have to be realistic set a goal to fight for the first places in 2018 or 2019."

Vasseur therefore confirmed speculation that Renault started work on its 2017 car long ago.

"We started early, as I believe our competitors did, with the chassis in the wind tunnel," he said. "There is a lot of work within the group in this project."

Jolyon Palmer looking over his shoulder
Jolyon Palmer looking over his shoulder

Renault has proved it knows how to make rapid progress by significantly improving its power unit from 2015 to 2016, but Vasseur only smiled when asked how that was possible within the current 'tokens' regime.

Told that he will probably not want to answer the question, Vasseur laughed: "Your question is my answer!"

He is similarly coy about Renault's next driver lineup, although he did say the team wants young drivers rather than big names.

"First, we have two young men who are doing a good job," said Vasseur, referring to Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer.

"The second point in the choice of our drivers is the need to build the team around them. All the success stories in F1 were made that way.

"We know we will be in a position to fight for the title in 2020 or 2021, so I need to choose a driver for then rather than now, so that he can develop and gain experience."

One obvious choice is Frenchman Esteban Ocon, the reigning GP3 champion who was loaned by Mercedes to Renault to be reserve driver this year.

"From here in Silverstone he will often be in the car on Fridays, and will test for us next week," Vasseur confirmed. "After that we will have a better view of his potential but he is a natural candidate to race for us in 2017.

"I know a lot of other people who would like to drive for us but until the end of August I will not think about it. We have some initial conversations with some but it is not the time to focus on that," he added.

'Frail' Murray Walker to sit out British GP
(GMM) Legendary former F1 commentator Murray Walker will be a rare absentee at the British grand prix this weekend.

The iconic Briton is synonymous with the sport after serving for decades as a commentator, but now aged 92 he admits he is "too frail" to be at Silverstone this time around.

"I am an old man, my legs aren't what they used to be," he told the Mirror. "You know four days of walking about at a grand prix is very hard work indeed.

"I would rather quietly stay at home," Walker added. "You never like to say never but I think I have been to my last grand prix. Do I like it? No I don't. But you work with the hand you are dealt."

Kimi Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen gets one more year

Ferrari re-signs Kimi Raikkonen for 2017 F1 season
Ferrari has re-signed Kimi Raikkonen to partner Sebastian Vettel for the 2017 Formula 1 season.

The 2007 world champion's future had been the subject of speculation over the first part of the season, but Ferrari ended the rumors on Friday morning at the British Grand Prix by confirming Raikkonen will remain at the team.

The Finn's contract was set to expire at the end of the season, with several drivers including Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean linked with the seat.

In a statement, Ferrari said: "Scuderia Ferrari announces that it has renewed its technical and racing agreement with Kimi Raikkonen.

"The driver line-up for the 2017 racing season will still consist of the Finnish driver and Sebastian Vettel."

Ahead of this weekend's British GP Raikkonen said: "This is my 100th race with Ferrari, it doesn't sound like a lot but it's quite a few years.

"This is the best team in F1, together we won a title in 2007, we had good years and some difficult ones.

"I'm really happy to be part of Ferrari, the atmosphere is fantastic, we are always pushing each other forward and hopefully we'll get the team back where it belongs."

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