Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Horner will not take a cut
    Horner will not take a cut

    Red Bull will not accept less income – Horner

  • Raikkonen still best choice for Ferrari – Salo
  • Sainz should be happy with Toro Rosso news – Alonso
  • Massa says he will decide F1 future
  • Vettel takes penalty, Hamilton expects to follow suit
  • Grosjean sure Dallara fixing Haas problems
  • FIA moves to stop tire pressure loophole
  • Wolff flags 'multi-year' deal for Rosberg
  • Wolff agrees with performance-based prize money

Red Bull will not accept less income – Horner
(GMM) Christian Horner says Red Bull will not accept a reduction in the income it gets from F1's Bernie Ecclestone-led organization.

F1 supremo Ecclestone has flagged changes to the controversial system that distributes the lion's share of the commercial revenue to the biggest teams — including handsome 'bonuses'.

"Yes, no bonus," the 85-year-old said ahead of the Austrian grand prix. "Everyone's in the same boat (after 2020)."

World champions Mercedes' chief Toto Wolff said increases to the income pool should be distributed in a "fair and reasonable" way beyond 2020, but said he thinks bonus payments remain fair.

But Force India supremo Vijay Mallya told The Times that bonuses that leave out the smaller teams are "absolute rubbish".

"We all have an equal right to be on that a grid. We are not asking for hundreds of millions of pounds," he said.

Red Bull's Horner, meanwhile, said that while he is open to the smaller teams getting more, he would not accept that if it means Red Bull gets less.

"I don't think any team will be happy to take less money," he said.

"If he (Ecclestone) can bring in the revenues to bring up the bottom line, then fine."

Kimi gets support from Salo
Kimi gets support from Salo

Raikkonen still best choice for Ferrari – Salo
(GMM) Mika Salo thinks his countryman Kimi Raikkonen remains the best choice for Ferrari beyond 2016.

The fabled Maranello team is clearly shopping around for alternatives to the Finn, with rumors Sergio Perez and others are in the frame.

But Salo told Finland's Ilta Sanomat newspaper: "I do not see any reasonable options.

"If I was the team boss, I would keep the same drivers because everything is running smoothly," he explained.

"With a new driver there is always a risk regarding how he adapts and things. Continuity is always the key to success," Salo added.

Asked what he thinks of Raikkonen's performances so far in 2016, he answered: "Admittedly they have not been too good, but he still has the speed and the desire to win. That is what's most important."

Sainz Jr. with Toro Rosso another year
Sainz Jr. with Toro Rosso another year

Sainz Jr. should be happy with Toro Rosso news – Alonso
(GMM) Fernando Alonso says his young countryman Carlos Sainz Jr. should not be disappointed he is staying at Toro Rosso for a third year in 2017.

Team owner Red Bull has taken up its option on the Spaniard, even though he had been linked with Ferrari.

"Everyone knows that if they want to negotiate with me, they have to call Helmut Marko," Sainz is quoted by EFE news agency in Austria.

"I could leave but a team would have to pay a lot of money to get me," he added. "I trust Helmut. We all know he is tough, but such an early contract extension for next season gives me confidence and motivation."

Alonso agreed that Sainz should be happy rather than disappointed that he is staying at Toro Rosso.

"I am happy for him," he said at the Red Bull Ring.

"Perhaps it is right that he stays another year at this team. Hopefully next year he and the team can make another step forward so let's see.

"I would not pay much attention to rumors about his move to Ferrari," Alonso, who raced for the Italian team for five years, added.

"Between March and July, nearly every single driver is linked with Ferrari."

Felipe Massa
Felipe Massa

Massa says he will decide F1 future
(GMM) Felipe Massa insists he is in control of his next move in F1, as his current Williams contract runs out.

Rivals Jenson Button and Daniil Kvyat are among drivers linked with the Brazilian veteran's current seat, but 35-year-old Massa said he will not just sit back and wait for decisions to be made.

"Nothing will be done for me," he is quoted by Brazil's UOL. "I will choose what I want.

"I am completely relaxed and just thinking about my work," Massa insisted.

"I don't know what will happen, but I will decide what I do."

Although he has talked about Formula E and Le Mans, Massa confirmed that he wants to stay in F1, where he has raced since 2002, winning 11 grands prix for Ferrari.

And he said he is not interested in staying in F1 "just to participate".

"I believe I'll be on a team that has an important job to be done," said Massa.

"We have already started negotiations, but only time will bring the right answer. We'll see," he concluded.

Vettel takes 5-grid penalty for new transmission
Vettel takes 5-grid penalty for new transmission

Vettel takes penalty, Hamilton expects to follow suit
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel's Austrian GP campaign has taken an early hit as he will drop five places down the grid due to a gearbox change.

Reports indicate metal debris was detected inside the unit and will be changed, with a Ferrari spokesman confirming the news.

"I called Sebastian to tell him and he said 'Oh crap'," said Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The better news for Ferrari is that it has reportedly taken an engine upgrade to Austria, costing one FIA token and giving a 10 horse power boost, according to Auto Motor und Sport.

"We do not have the best car or the best engine, but we know our weaknesses and we're working on it," said Vettel.

"I am convinced that we will be much closer to Mercedes in Austria than we were in Baku. As close as in Montreal or perhaps even closer."

It also emerges in Austria that world champion Lewis Hamilton is braced for a similar penalty setback, as he moves to some of his final engine components for the season.

"I am starting with my last engine this weekend and will have at least one race where I will start dead last — and most likely two," said the Mercedes driver.

"The worst thing is I am the only Mercedes driver to have that," Hamilton added.

Also at the Red Bull Ring, a debate is raging about the current tight restrictions on pit-to-driver radio instructions, after Hamilton ran into trouble in Baku and called for a rules rethink.

But his teammate and championship leader Nico Rosberg said he doesn't support that call.

"The fans were complaining that we were puppets, which is why the rule changed," said the German. "They (the rules) are ok the way they are now."

Grosjean sure his wings will be OK now
Grosjean sure his wings will be OK now

Grosjean sure Dallara fixing Haas problems
(GMM) Romain Grosjean has defended Haas' chassis-making partner Dallara, after a series of wing failures in 2016.

"We have made serious efforts to stop this problem so hopefully it will not happen again," the new American team's French driver, having criticized Haas following the most recent front wing failure, said in Austria.

Haas is unique in F1, having allied strongly with Ferrari but also the Italian chassis maker Dallara for the design, development and production of its first car.

Dallara was last involved in F1 with the now defunct Spanish team HRT.

"Dallara continues to learn," Grosjean said. "It is one thing to build a GP2 car, but in formula one the speeds and the loads are higher and it takes time to have the right processes.

"I'm sure gradually this is being resolved," he added.

Regarding Haas' 2016 car, team boss Gunther Steiner said the team has now stopped developing it in order to work on the 2017 model for the new rules.

Grosjean commented: "I think all the teams have done the same, or will do in the near future.

"Our team is new in the championship and it was important to have a good foundation but in the second year it is necessary for us to do more," he added.

FIA moves to stop Mercedes cheating on tire pressures
FIA moves to stop Mercedes cheating on tire pressures

FIA moves to stop tire pressure loophole
(GMM) As predicted by an F1 pundit, the FIA has quickly closed a loophole allowing teams to minimize tire pressures.

It emerged after Baku that Mercedes and Red Bull were leading the charge with sophisticated axle heating equipment that allows tires to be minimally inflated on the grid.

Jenson Button said on Friday that the minimum pressures demanded by Pirelli in Austria are "unbelievably high".

Marc Surer, a former F1 driver turned pundit for German television Sky, said: "But what the teams are doing to heat the whole assembly is highly costly.

"So I am sure the FIA will act and ban it for the forthcoming season. Another way would be to measure the pressures before the wheels are fitted."

Indeed, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that the FIA has done exactly that, informing teams that pressures will now be checked by Pirelli and the FIA before they are fitted to the cars.

The report said the new rule will apply as of Friday practice at the Red Bull Ring.

Rosberg will be happy with 2-year extension
Rosberg will be happy with 2-year extension

Wolff flags 'multi-year' deal for Rosberg
(GMM) Toto Wolff has flagged a new "multi-year" contract with Nico Rosberg.

Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda hinted at a new two-year contract for the championship leader last week, but German Rosberg denied anything is signed.

"With myself, Gerhard Berger and Niki Lauda, you have three Austrians in the room negotiating and it's difficult," team boss Wolff smiled, according to Speed Week.

"Seriously, the details are being cleared up. Nico will get a multi-year extension, but it's not signed yet," he added.

As for the future, Wolff said Mercedes is well positioned with Pascal Wehrlein and joined Red Bull in playing down suggestions of a deal with Mick Schumacher.

"We have no plans with him," Wolff said. "The boy will go on with his development in peace."

Wolff was also asked about the likely 2017 debut of the updated 'Halo 2' concept, warning that the safety boost could come with "disadvantages".

"What if the car is upside down and something happens? There is a horror scenario with these batteries that a fire can start that cannot be put out — I don't want to see trapped drivers," he said.

Toto Wolff
Toto Wolff

Wolff agrees with performance-based prize money
Earlier this week, Bernie Ecclestone revealed that once the current agreement with the teams comes to an end in 2020, he would like to do away with the controversial bonuses paid to certain teams and follow the example of the Premier League, whereby the prize pot is shared equally.

In addition to the percentage teams receive from the main prize pot, which was worth almost a billion dollars in 2015, four teams receive a special Constructors' Championship bonus. Then there are other bonuses such as the historic bonus paid to Ferrari, which has been a stalwart of the sport since its inception in 1950.

However, the bonuses bear little relationship to teams standings in the championship, meaning that McLaren, for example, can end up with more money than Red Bull, which scored 187 points and finished fourth in the 2015 standings compared to the Woking outfit's 27 points and ninth.

Similarly, despite finishing runner-up to Mercedes, and 275 points adrift of the German team, Ferrari walked away with more (approx. $21m) cash.
"We had a long discussion, one topic was how to redistribute the prize fund going forward," Wolff told reporters in Austria. "I think it’s in everybody’s interest to have stability long-term and we discussed the various models.

"The prize fund is growing so we are talking about upside," he continued, "how the upside can be distributed in a way that is more fair and equitable."

With potentially the most to lose, Ferrari has maintained silence since Ecclestone first made the suggestion, and whilst the likes of Force India, Sauber and Haas would be delighted with such a move, the Italian team is hardly likely to accept such a momentous move gracefully.

Speaking for Red Bull, another potential big loser should Ecclestone's plan be implemented, Christian Horner made it clear that whilst he would be glad to see the smaller teams receive more money this should not be at the expense of their rivals. The Briton also argued that his team was entitled to its bonuses not only due to its successful, though brief, history in F1 but also what it does in promoting the sport.

It's early days, and one cannot help but feel that Ecclestone, a master in the art of smoke and mirrors, has let slip this 'proposal' because he has something else in mind.

Fact is, having happily taken the bonuses for the last few years, none of the bigger teams is going to be willing to take a pay cut be it to keep smaller teams in the sport or not.

Wolff, who like non-executive chairman Niki Lauda, has a sizeable stake in the Mercedes team, appreciates that the sport has an historical debt to the likes of Ferrari and therefore believes any future system should be based on current performance, historical achievements and a basic share of the pot.

"I would think the three elements are probably the right way going forward," he said. Pitpass

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