Latest F1 news in brief – Sunday

  • Marko wants curbs removed
    Marko wants curbs removed

    'Dangerous' curbs cause a stir in Austria

  • Button clarifies 'Formula Desperate' comments
  • Wehrlein a 'very special driver' – Wolff
  • Gutierrez went to hospital after Baku
  • Kvyat to start from pits with new chassis
  • Bottas eyes top-five race challenge
  • Vettel felt he 'underperformed' in Q3
  • Rosberg pays tribute to mechanics

'Dangerous' curbs cause a stir in Austria
(GMM) Troublesome curbs have been causing a stir this weekend in Austria.

Several cars, including that of championship leader Nico Rosberg, have had suspension destroyed over the controversial, yellow and high 'baguette' curbs at the Red Bull Ring.

Even the track owner, Red Bull, is not happy, with the energy drink marque's Dr Helmut Marko calling the curbs "nonsensical" for single seaters.

"We wanted them removed," said the Austrian.

Marko is not alone. Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said telemetry data has shown the curbs contribute "extreme loads" to the suspension, revealing the team had to strengthen the wishbones in the garage with carbon fiber tape.

"It's not very formula one (like)," said the Austrian, "but anything to help.

"We have seen problems with different cars and different (suspension) designs," Wolff added, "which worries us. We need a response" from the FIA.

Pole sitter Lewis Hamilton said after qualifying that the "dangerous" curbs could even lead to driver injury, prompting Wolff to add: "I don't know what the FIA will decide."

But F1 race director Charlie Whiting insisted: "We can't re-do the track now.

"Either the driver needs to stay away from the curbs or the teams need to reinforce the suspension," he is quoted by the German press as saying.

Jenson Button
Jenson Button

Button clarifies 'Formula Desperate' comments
(GMM) Jenson Button has clarified his comments about young drivers in formula one.

Heading into the Austrian grand prix weekend, a Brazilian outlet quoted the F1 veteran as saying young drivers in the sport today make the category seem like 'Formula Desperate'.

"They are very erratic. It's like they are driving in 'Formula Desperate' — they look like they're always so desperate," he reportedly told UOL Esporte.

Arriving at the Red Bull Ring, however, the 36-year-old slammed the report and the journalist and denied the 'Formula Desperate' quote.

"Some journalists do not deserve to be journalists", Button said on Twitter.

The Portuguese-language journalist, however, confronted Button at the Red Bull Ring with the audio recording of the original quote.

UOL Esporte then quoted the McLaren-Honda driver as clarifying: "Young drivers today do not spend enough time in the minor categories and end up taking certain behaviors to formula one.

"A lot of pressure is put on them to get it right from the first year," he added.

However, Button – who signed his first F1 contract as a 19-year-old in 2000 – added: "But when you get the opportunity as a 17-year-old to go into formula one, of course you would say yes. I would as well.

"I would say I am even an example of a driver who was not ready when he arrived in F1," he concluded.

Pascal Wehrlein in Austria
Pascal Wehrlein in Austria

Wehrlein a 'very special driver' – Wolff
(GMM) Pascal Wehrlein's F1 career took a major step forward in Austria, according to Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.

Currently placed at Manor for his rookie season, the reigning DTM champion is actually a strongly-backed Mercedes junior.

German Wehrlein, 21, has sometimes failed to shine too brightly in 2016 alongside his Indonesian-backed teammate Rio Haryanto.

But at the Red Bull Ring, Wehrlein was not only half a second clear of Haryanto on the short Austrian layout, he was also faster in both Q1 and Q2 than both Romain Grosjean's Haas and the McLaren-Honda of champion Fernando Alonso.

Wehrlein therefore lines up a career-best 12th.

"For the first time in F1 he has really shown that he is a very special driver," Mercedes' Wolff said, according to the German news agency SID.

"This is the first track that Pascal has raced on previously, and this effect should not be underestimated," he added.

Indeed, last year during the Red Bull Ring's DTM round, Wehrlein was caught up in the "push him out" saga, involving Timo Scheider being instructed to punt rivals into the gravel.

Wehrlein poked fun at the controversy during his F1 track walk this weekend, posting to Twitter a photo of being 'pushed out' at the same part of the track by a Manor engineer.

"Looks like I got pushed out again," he joked.

Esteban Gutierrez
Esteban Gutierrez

Gutierrez went to hospital after Baku
(GMM) Esteban Gutierrez has revealed he needed a day in hospital after the recent race in Baku to get to the bottom of a lingering health issue.

The Haas driver said that after struggling with illness for some weeks, he travelled from Azerbaijan to his native Mexico for hospital checks.

"I was examined all day from head to toe," Gutierrez, 24, is quoted by Speed Week.

Doctors discovered that not only was the driver suffering from a virus, but also a bacterial infection.

"I was worried," he said, "because I could tell in the three or four weeks beforehand that something was wrong."

Gutierrez claims that F1's hectic round-the-world schedule had affected his body's ability to fight back.

"After Monaco I had gone home to the heat of Mexico, and then to Montreal where it was very cold. Immediately after that we were on the other side of the world in Baku, where it was hot. Of course that made it worse.

"Now it's under control and I'm 100 per cent healthy again," he revealed.

Indeed, Gutierrez qualified 11th in Austria, two places ahead of his Haas teammate Romain Grosjean.

Kvyat to start from pits with new chassis
Daniil Kvyat will start Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix from the pit lane, with Toro Rosso mechanics building up a new chassis after his dramatic accident in qualifying.

Kvyat crashed out in the closing stages of the Q1 phase, after he suffered a right-rear suspension failure as he ran over the new curbing at the exit of Turn 8.

Kvyat went on to swipe the pit entry wall, before a second impact with the barriers on the outside of the final corner, causing further damage to his STR11.

Toro Rosso has since changed Kvyat's chassis, which results in a pit lane start, though also opens the door for set-up changes, ahead of a potentially wet race.

Valtteri Bottas
Valtteri Bottas

Bottas eyes top-five race challenge
Valtteri Bottas is hopeful that Williams can challenge for the top five positions in Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix, despite a low key qualifying session at the Red Bull Ring.

Bottas and team-mate Felipe Massa could only place eighth and 10th in the pole position shootout, which started in wet conditions but gradually dried out.

Bottas will gain one place, however, as a result of Sebastian Vettel's gearbox-related grid penalty, and reckons further progress should be possible in the race.

"Qualifying was a special case with the conditions in Q3," said Bottas.

"Everything was looking good in Q1 and Q2 in the dry, but tire warm-up was difficult in the mixed conditions

"In the beginning [of Q3] we struggled with the Intermediate tires, and once we got onto the slicks the main problem was to try to get heat into the tires.

"But there is the possibility to overtake here [in the race]; I think in any conditions we need to try to aim to have both cars in the top five, that's a good target for us."

Massa lost out in qualifying as the first driver to start the last sequence of laps.

"The conditions in Q3 were very tricky; one lap you're third, then the next lap you're 10th," he said.

"It's very difficult to understand the situation when the track is improving so much.

"I was the first car to start the last lap, so the last car had the track a lot drier, but that's the way it is, so let's try to have a good race, a good strategy and finish with very good points."

What is Vettel saying he can win in Austria with both Mercedes starting well ahead of him. He must be on some sort of hallucinogen
What is Vettel saying he can win in Austria with both Mercedes starting well ahead of him? He must be on some sort of hallucinogen

Vettel felt he 'underperformed' in Q3
Sebastian Vettel felt he "underperformed" during qualifying in Austria en route to a second row grid slot, which he will lose to a penalty.

Vettel set the pace in FP3 but could only finish fourth in a wet/dry Q3, losing out to the Mercedes pair and Force India's Nico Hülkenberg.

As drivers moved from Intermediate tires to slicks, Vettel reckons he could have pushed harder and limited the damage of his gearbox drop.

Vettel will start ninth, losing out to Jenson Button's McLaren, Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, the Red Bulls and Valtteri Bottas' Williams.

"At the end it was a bit of a gamble," Vettel said of the conditions.

"In Q3, the later you were on track the better, and I should have taken more risks, but that's what it is.

"I think first of all it matters when you cross the line, and then how much risk you're taking.

"The indication from my first lap [on slick tires] was that Turns 1, 2 and 5 were pretty damp, but then I arrived and it was dry, so I underperformed – it dried quicker than I expected.

"You're already taking risks, as you expect, but you can't see around the corner. You have to do what you feel, and with hindsight I could have carried more speed, and braked later."

Despite his gearbox penalty, Vettel is adamant that he can still win the race.

"Of course we can," Vettel replied, when asked if he can challenge for victory.

"We have very good pace… it's a shame we didn't have a normal qualifying. Usually I don't mind these conditions, but I wanted to see where we were compared to Mercedes.

"It will be a long race, but the car feels very good – lot's to look forward to."

Nico Rosberg
Nico Rosberg

Rosberg pays tribute to mechanics
Nico Rosberg has paid tribute to mechanics on both sides of the Mercedes garage for repairing his car in time for qualifying in Austria.

Rosberg, who topped both of Friday's sessions at the Red Bull Ring, crashed exiting Turn 2 in FP3 due to a suspected suspension failure.

Mercedes worked flat out to get the heavily-damaged F1 W07 ready for Q1, and managed to send him out with just over 10 minutes to spare.

Rosberg went on to finish second to team-mate Lewis Hamilton, but will drop to sixth on the grid as a result of his forced gearbox change.

"First of all, a really unbelievable job from everybody," said Rosberg.

"Even Lewis' mechanics came to my car to try to get it out on time, so that was a huge team effort. We got it out with 11 minutes to go in Q1 – really tight, so that was great."

Rosberg admitted that Hamilton simply had more pace in the wet/dry conditions at the end of Q3, but is now fully focused on fighting back from a "very costly" grid penalty.

"It was an exciting qualifying; dry, wet and dry," he added.

"Lewis did a good job at the very end [of Q3] and that's it. Second's not first, but it's OK. Five places will be very costly for tomorrow, unfortunately, but we will make the best of it."

Rosberg holds a 24-point lead over Hamilton ahead of the race.

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