Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Lauda (R) cautions on safety changes
    Lauda (R) cautions on safety changes

    F1 must be 'careful' with next safety steps – Lauda

  • Wolff to meet Mercedes drivers on Thursday
  • F1 could lose Brazil GP, drivers – Massa
  • Pirelli, Ferrari set date for 2017 tire test
  • Blash to step down as Deputy Race Director
  • Gasly gets Red Bull in-season test chance
  • Horner encouraged by Red Bull showing
  • The Silver Arrows story

F1 must be 'careful' with next safety steps – Lauda
(GMM) Niki Lauda thinks F1 needs to learn lessons from its recent past, balancing safety against safeguarding "the DNA" of the sport.

The F1 legend and Mercedes team chairman thinks that after a few difficult and less popular years for the pinnacle of motor sport, "We are now back on the road to the right direction.

"But it will take a while until people really believe it again," Lauda told the Austrian broadcaster Servus TV.

Not only that, the former triple world champion thinks F1 needs to be "careful" about its next steps.

"This ridiculous Halo system is one example, because the development is not finished for me," said Lauda, referring to F1's apparent determination to introduce it in 2017.

"We have to get the FIA to decide only things that make sense.

"For me, the increased safety has changed everything. The drivers today are no longer taking the risks that Helmut (Marko) and I did to succeed.

"In spite of all the dangers, we were all alone. The joy of driving and the fear of a potentially fatal accident predominated," he added. "Today, all of that is blurred.

"Clearly it is better that we see fewer accidents, but we also have a very different generation of drivers, with few real characters."

Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko agrees, saying that F1 has gone from an extreme sport to a more sanitized one.

"A skier lives considerably more dangerously than a racing driver," he said.

"But the risk has always been a part of the fascination of motor sports.

"The sport has become more safe, and that's right, but if it is excessive, that magnetic draw is lost. You cannot take away every single risk," added Marko.

Wolff to lay down the law on Thursday
Wolff to lay down the law on Thursday

Wolff to meet Mercedes drivers on Thursday
(GMM) Toto Wolff will sit with Mercedes' two drivers to decide the next steps after their Austria run-in — whether Lewis Hamilton wants to or not.

That is the claim of team chairman and F1 legend Niki Lauda, after the German newspaper Bild quoted Hamilton as saying he had no intention of discussing the matter as "There is nothing to discuss".

But when asked by Osterreich newspaper about Hamilton's apparent refusal, Lauda said: "Toto Wolff will sit with them both. This nonsense must stop."

The big risk for F1 is that, as a result of Wolff's meeting with the drivers, Mercedes might decide to put a stop to the free racing policy, imposing a rule that drivers must hold position.

"We need to let them race," F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone told The Times.

"Imagine if we get to the final race of the season and one is told they can't overtake and that decides the championship? It's not good for formula one and it won't be good for Mercedes either," he added.

However, even Lauda – a staunch racing 'purist' – is coming around to the idea that Hamilton and Rosberg might need to have their racing freedoms curtailed.

"We want to be world champion with two top drivers, but the championship must be won without accidents," he said.

"Lewis will not give up, neither will Nico, and logically there is a crash. This is unacceptable," said Lauda.

"I would expect from two adult and intelligent drivers that they manage to do it without accident.

"Toto is talking with Lewis and Nico on Thursday. We want them to race freely, but if it doesn't work and you add up the two and half accidents in Barcelona, Montreal and Spielberg, re must reserve all the steps."

Lauda told Bild newspaper that he thinks the latest saga is predominantly Rosberg's fault.

"For two years he was more reasonable, now he wants to be world champion and goes flat out. But he may not engage in such actions as Spielberg when he wants to be world champion.

"As a racer he must ask himself 'Am I a world champion or a crash driver?'. He should think of his father, Keke, who was world champion with only one win.

"It must be that the drivers can switch on their brains in such a situation," he added.

"Toto and I are working on a new concept that is better for all. But this much is already clear: a new crash between the two is no longer accepted. We will tell the drivers that clearly before Silverstone."

Felipe Massa
Felipe Massa

F1 could lose Brazil GP, drivers – Massa
(GMM) Felipe Massa has warned it is possible Brazil will fall out of formula one altogether at the end of 2016.

Bernie Ecclestone has warned that the Interlagos race is endangered, while F1 veteran Massa himself is out of contract at Williams.

Also ending is fellow Brazilian Felipe Nasr's deal at Sauber, including the struggling Sauber team's deal with his major Brazilian backer Banco do Brasil.

"In my opinion, it would be sad not having any Brazilian drivers in F1 anymore nor a Brazilian grand prix," Massa, 35, told UOL Esporte.

"I hope it doesn't happen but if it does, it will of course be sad not only for Brazil but also motor sport," the former Ferrari driver added.

Massa said the biggest blow for Brazil would be the departure of local drivers to cheer on in F1, because the country is fiercely patriotic.

"Brazilians want to see sports with other Brazilians participating," he explained.

"To tell you the truth, I had never watched surfing in my life but today I watched it because a Brazilian was there. We're like that," Massa said.

He said the problem is the economic situation in Brazil and how it has affected the development of motor racing.

"We've known we have a crisis in motor sport for a long time, and if it happens this will be the end result. The base is always important for any country."

Pirelli and Ferrari set test date
Pirelli and Ferrari set test date

Pirelli, Ferrari set date for 2017 tire test
(GMM) The first date for Pirelli's track testing for its bigger and wider 2017 tires has reportedly been set.

Speed Week reports that the first of 24 days in total with specially-modified test mules will take place at Ferrari's own Fiorano track on August 2.

"We agreed with Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes that we would test the tires on modified old cars," Pirelli's Mario Isola is quoted as saying.

"'Old' so that the other teams do not believe these teams get a competitive advantage. We will rotate with the three teams but it is not easy to find test dates.

"We are in the longest world championship of all time so we have to look carefully for the opportunities," Isola added.

The report said the running on August 2 will be with a modified 2015-spec Ferrari, and that the 24 days will be split evenly between the three top teams.

Pirelli wants the running to be done by top racing drivers, but as the Fiorano test will take place in the summer break, it is not clear whether that will be Sebastian Vettel or Kimi Raikkonen.

Recent Italian reports suggested Raikkonen plans to get married in early August.

Blash to step down as Deputy Race Director
Herbie Blash is to step down as Formula 1's Deputy Race Director at the end of the season, the FIA has confirmed, and will be replaced in the role by Laurent Mekies.

Blash began his Formula 1 career in 1965 with Rob Walker Racing and enjoyed spells at Lotus and Brabham before becoming the FIA's Deputy Race Director in 1996.

Blash will be replaced by Mekies, who held positions with Arrows, Minardi and Toro Rosso before joining the FIA as its Safety Director in 2014.

"I would like to thank Herbie for all of his hard work for the FIA over the past 21 years, and especially for his contribution in maintaining Formula 1's place at the pinnacle of motor sport," said FIA President Jean Todt.

"Along with Charlie [Whiting, F1's Race Director], Herbie has been instrumental in the seamless running of Grand Prix races for over two decades, and we are pleased that he will continue to work with the FIA in future.

Whiting, who became Formula 1's Race Director in 1997, paid tribute to his colleague.

"I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to Herbie for his years of tireless work for our sport," he said.

"It has been a huge pleasure to be alongside him for almost two decades."

Pierre Gasly
Pierre Gasly

Gasly gets Red Bull in-season test chance
Pierre Gasly will receive an opportunity to prove his worth for a 2017 Toro Rosso seat next week with the French youngster set to line up for Red Bull during both in-season test days at Silverstone.

Gasly, 20, has been a member of Red Bull's young driver scheme since the start of 2014, and conducted three days of testing for Red Bull and Toro Rosso last year.

Gasly added to his Formula 1 experience during the post-race test in Spain, completing a day in the STR11, and will now receive his first taste of Red Bull's RB12.

Under F1 rules, teams must field a driver with fewer than two Grand Prix starts for two of the four test days.

With Red Bull having used Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen in Spain, it must allocate its remaining test days to a young driver, with Gasly fulfilling the criteria.

Gasly is in a straight fight for a 2017 Toro Rosso seat with current racer Daniil Kvyat, after Red Bull opted to retain Carlos Sainz Jr. for a third successive season.

Red Bull has so far refrained from making a decision on its 2017 line-up, instead preferring Gasly to focus on his GP2 season, with three rounds across the next four weekends.

Gasly finished as runner-up to Sainz Jr. in Formula Renault 3.5 in 2014 and graduated to GP2 full-time in 2015 with DAMS, after a brief stint at Caterham at the end of 2014.

Gasly has taken four pole positions and seven podium finishes in GP2 and currently occupies eighth in the standings with Prema, 19 points behind leader Raffaele Marciello.

Gasly was on course for his maiden GP2 victory, and first single-seater triumph since 2013, at the last round in Austria, but spun out of the lead in slippery conditions.

Christian Horner happy
Christian Horner happy

Horner encouraged by Red Bull showing
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says the squad's showing at its home Grand Prix in Austria was "really encouraging", as Max Verstappen finished on the podium.

Red Bull had struggled at the Red Bull Ring since the race returned in 2014, with Daniel Ricciardo only eighth, as Sebastian Vettel retired, while last year Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat placed 10th and 12th.

However, Verstappen was able to manage a one-stop strategy to enjoy a stint in the lead, prior to being overhauled by the Mercedes drivers, and held third, narrowly ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.

When the Mercedes pair collided on the final lap Verstappen moved up to second at the expense of Nico Rosberg, to secure a podium, his second of the season.

"I think it's really encouraging," commented Horner, as Red Bull moved to within 24 points of Ferrari in the Constructors' Championship.

"We know we have work to do, there are areas at the track where it's obvious we have ground to make up.

"But we've had a good first half of the year and I think there's more to come in the second half and all the signs are reasonably positive."

Horner also hailed the performance of Verstappen, who fended off Raikkonen during the closing stages.

"He's been very strong and he's very good on the tire, under pressure – it doesn't phase him at all," Horner went on to explain.

"He's got a bit of work to do in qualifying, Daniel [Ricciardo is] right at the top of his game at [that], but it's great to have two drivers so evenly matched and pushing each other."

The Silver Arrows story
The French Grand Prix in Reims on July 4th, 1954 marked the return of the Silver Arrows to Formula 1. And what a comeback that was! Juan Manuel Fangio and Karl Kling lapped the entire field as they drove to a comfortable one-two win!

Watch video clip:

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