Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Wide tires will help make F1 cars look better
    Wide tires will help make F1 cars look better

    Allison says 2017 cars to be 'beautiful'

  • Todt plays down need for radio ban rethink
  • Dave Ryan 'sure' McLaren will win again
  • Capito to start at McLaren in late August
  • Tost hopes to keep Toro Rosso drivers for 2017
  • Jackie Stewart Says U.S. 'Very Important' For F1’s Future
  • Todt: Formula 1 in 'good shape' in 2016
  • Arrivabene says 'sensitive' car needs work
  • Azerbaijan sure of long-term F1 future

Allison says 2017 cars to be 'beautiful'
(GMM) F1 is creating a fleet of "beautiful" next-generation cars.

That is the news from Ferrari's technical boss James Allison, when speaking about the sweeping new rules for 2017 featuring wider cars and Pirelli tires.

"We made a small step forward already to get rid of the horrible noses that we had a couple of years ago," the Briton is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport from the FIA sport conference in Turin.

"Now, the rules for next season are a conscious effort to make incredibly fast and beautiful cars," he said on Wednesday.

"Their proportions are fascinating, and those of us who are lucky enough to see them while they are born know that they are beautiful," Allison added.

Jean Todt (R) with Claire Williams
Jean Todt (R) with Claire Williams

Todt plays down need for radio ban rethink
(GMM) Jean Todt has played down the need for F1 to revisit the controversial ban on certain pit-to-driver radio communications.

The issue has arisen after Sunday's Baku race, during which Lewis Hamilton in particular struggled for power due to an engine mode setting he was unable to resolve.

Kimi Raikkonen had a similar problem in Azerbaijan but Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene did not join his Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff in calling for a rethink.

"We have some crazy situations now and I know many people like that when they watch on TV," the Italian told Bild newspaper.

"I am not complaining about the rules."

1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve, however, told Brazil's Globo that the radio clampdown has been "bad for F1".

But at an FIA conference in Turin, the governing body's president Jean Todt insists the radio clampdown will remain in place in full.

"It was requested in an unanimous way to reduce the assistance given to the driver," said the Frenchman.

"So if we talk about the show, I feel that this year it has been really good.

"We have always believed that so-called driver aids should not be allowed," Todt continued.

Todt said that, in general, he is happy with the spectacle of F1 in 2016, mainly because Mercedes is no longer all alone at the front of the field.

"There is a close battle for the championship and I'm glad it involves drivers from smaller teams as well," he is quoted by Italy's Corriere dello Sport, apparently referring to Sergio Perez.

"Of course, I would always be happy to see Ferrari in first position," he added, "but the important thing is that the outcome is not predicted from the beginning of the race."

Dave Ryan
Dave Ryan

Dave Ryan 'sure' McLaren will win again
(GMM) Dave Ryan is sure McLaren will eventually returning to winning ways in F1.

The New Zealander is now the racing director at Manor, but for the bulk of his F1 career until the well-known 'lie-gate' scandal he was the sporting director at the Woking based team.

"They will return to the top of F1, for sure," Ryan told the Spanish broadcaster Movistar.

"It's a great team with good people and the engine is improving. I'm sure that, over time, they will come back," he added.

Which drivers will be at the wheel when that happens, however, is another matter.

Jenson Button, for instance, is expected to be replaced by McLaren reserve Stoffel Vandoorne for 2017.

He is being strongly linked with a return to his first F1 team, Williams, but is not commenting on those rumors.

"I don't know yet, but whatever I choose to do it will be my decision," Button, 36, told Spain's AS newspaper.

"But it won't be made for a few months yet."

The Briton said his prerequisite for continuing in F1 beyond 2016 is that he has "a competitor car" to race.

"I think when you've won races and the world championship you just want to be fighting at the front. So if I feel I can be in that position next year, I will stay in formula one," Button added.

His current teammate, Fernando Alonso, has a contract for 2017 but the Spaniard is undecided about whether he will sign a new one beyond that or quit F1 altogether.

"When it is time, I will go. I will feel it," he told France's L'Equipe.

"My father build me a go-kart in the McLaren-Honda colors of Senna, and now I'm driving for McLaren-Honda," Alonso explained. "I feel emotionally that I am closing the loop.

"Yet when you look at Raikkonen, Button, Massa, you get the feeling that they will never stop, but I probably will not be like this," he added.

Jost Capito
Jost Capito

Capito to start at McLaren in late August
(GMM) A couple more months will pass until McLaren's new chief executive will start work at the Woking team.

We reported a month ago that Jost Capito, currently VW's racing chief, would probably start work in late August, despite being signed up by McLaren in January.

The German had said he would not leave VW until a successor is appointed.

"I don't know when exactly he will officially take up his duties," McLaren team boss Eric Boullier had said in Monaco.

But now 57-year-old Capito has announced at an FIA conference in Turin that he will kick off his McLaren duties "shortly after Rally Germany".

Rallye Deutschland concludes on 21 August, a week before the Belgian grand prix at Spa.

"It will be the end of August, beginning of September. Around this time," Capito confirmed.

"I look forward to the change, otherwise I would not have done it."

Capito has had a senior F1 position before, at Sauber in the 90s, as he explained: "In the paddock I see many familiar faces, just older!

"But I do not see any major changes. Of course, the cars and technology have changed, but it is still formula one."

Capito said it is "sad" to see his former employer, Sauber, struggling financially for survival. "It would be sad if formula one would lose them, but unfortunately it is a part of the sport," he said.

Franz Tost
Franz Tost

Tost hopes to keep Toro Rosso drivers for 2017
(GMM) Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost said he would be happy if the Faenza team lined up with the same drivers in 2017.

It looks almost certain that team owner Red Bull will trigger the automatic 1-year extension of Carlos Sainz's contract, with an announcement expected imminently.

"It's very, very close," Tost told the Spanish broadcaster Movistar when asked about the extension for Sainz after an impressive first year and a half in F1 for the Spaniard.

"I think he will soon be officially confirmed," the Austrian has now declared at the FIA sport conference in Turin.

Whether Sainz's current teammate Daniil Kvyat will also stay, however, is much less certain.

The 22-year-old Russian was demoted from Red Bull's main team earlier this year and he has been making noises about wanting to move on for 2017.

Tost said: "In the end, Red Bull decides on the driver who can bring the best performance for the team and ultimately for Red Bull."

When asked if Red Bull's next young hotshot – the GP2 frontrunner Pierre Gasly – could replace Kvyat for 2017, Tost admitted: "Could be.

"Personally, I hope Kvyat stays with us because I think he is a really good driver. But he must also feel good so we will see what the future brings."

Tost indicated that Kvyat has been given a second chance by Red Bull because he may have been promoted to the top team slightly too soon.

"Ideally, it would have been better if he had stayed at Toro Rosso," said the Austrian, "but it was not expected that Sebastian Vettel would go (to Ferrari).

"In hindsight one is always wiser," Tost added.

"But he can be happy about is that Red Bull has two teams, otherwise he would not be outside of F1."

He backed Kvyat to bounce back from the disappointment of losing his Red Bull seat and do "a good job" for the rest of 2016.

"At the beginning he was quite shocked, but now he's back in good shape," said Tost. "We had many meetings and discussions because we all know that Daniil is a very fast and talented driver."

 Jackie Stewart
Jackie Stewart

Jackie Stewart Says U.S. 'Very Important' For F1’s Future
Formula 1 throughout its history has failed to captivate the U.S. audience and former world champion Jackie Stewart attributes it largely to North America’s isolation from the rest of the world. Despite this assessment, Stewart believes the U.S. market is “very important" for F1’s future.

The reasons why F1 has not been able to conquer the U.S. are manifold, including competition from domestic racing series and sports leagues, as well as the lack of a permanent home. Stewart, who himself won two U.S. Grands Prix during his career at Watkins Glen in ’68 and ’72, told SBD Global that America has to become more global than it is today to really embrace the sport.

“It used to be that only 10% of the U.S. population had a passport," he said. “While I’m sure the number is much higher today, it is still not anything like the other countries in the world that travel a lot." The most recent statistic by the U.S. State Department puts the number of U.S. citizens in possession of a valid passport at 46%.

QUALITY SPONSORS: Whatever the number, Stewart says this has to change, and he credits the new Haas F1 Team for doing its part to make it happen. Haas F1, which joined the grid this season, is the first American-led team in the series in 30 years. Stewart, who together with his son Paul owned Stewart Grand Prix from ’97-99, said it is important for the Haas F1 entry to deliver results.

“That’s the story at the end of the day," he said. “By hook or by crook you’ve got to deliver. With just a little bit of success, American companies should see more opportunity to go into Formula 1 because North America is actually very domestic."

The U.S. has its own economy, industries and markets due to its vast size, Stewart explained. Team Founder Gene Haas, who also co-owns NASCAR team Stewart-Haas Racing, currently uses his machine tool brand Haas Automation as the primary sponsor for his cars. Stewart believes this could soon change considering the team’s early success with three point-scoring finishes so far this season.

He expects Haas F1 to align itself with “quality sponsors," preferably multinational companies.

“Multinationals are the ones to go to," he said. "They’ve got the longer leg, stay in longer and look ahead."

BUILDING A HOME: The series’ lone U.S. race is currently held in Austin, Texas, after investors constructed a purpose-built venue near the city that opened in ’12. The decision by the Texas state government to reduce its funding for the race at the Circuit of the Americas has cast doubt over its long-term future in F1.

Stewart hopes the event, which has been hailed by fans and drivers, will remain part of the series as it has turned a city known for its music and universities into an int’l destination for racing fans. “The whole world was looking at Austin, Texas, when it put a grand prix in the marketplace," he said.

“Austin became better known for that than almost anything else because [F1’s] global television audience is so big. I just hope it’s allowed to be financially. HJ Mai/

Todt: Formula 1 in 'good shape' in 2016
FIA President Jean Todt believes Formula 1 is in "good shape" in 2016 despite Mercedes maintaining its position at the head of the pecking order, and has also lauded the success of Formula E.

Mercedes has dominated the sport since the introduction of V6 power units at the start of 2014 and has opened up an 81 point advantage over Ferrari this season, winning seven of the eight Grands Prix.

However, Todt reckons Ferrari and Red Bull have closed the gap, and also pointed to the performance of Force India as reason for optimism.

"I believe Formula 1 is in good shape this season, thanks to the fact that it is no longer totally dominated by just one team, as in the past couple of years," he said at the FIA Sport Conference in Turin.

"Of course, Mercedes is still very strong, but Ferrari has made a lot of progress, Red Bull is fighting back and Force India are showing well, with [Sergio] Pérez twice on the podium already this year.

"It's positive that the sport is less predictable, but one should not forget that, historically, there have often been periods when one team has had a clear advantage."

Todt also heaped praise on the Formula E championship, with the season set to draw to a conclusion in London next weekend.

"I don't remember ever having seen such a young series like Formula E generate so much interest: the response from constructors, teams, suppliers and drivers has been amazing," he said.

"One must never take anything for granted and one has to bear in mind that one of the reasons for its success is that the races take place in the heart of great cities.

"I don't think it would be the same story if they were held outside major conurbations."

The Ferrari just isn't an Aldo Costa design. Period.
The Ferrari just isn't an Aldo Costa design. Period.

Arrivabene says 'sensitive' car needs work
Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene has indicated that the outfit needs to work on its "sensitive" chassis following its performance at the European Grand Prix.

Ferrari struggled throughout practice at the Baku City Circuit but recovered as Sebastian Vettel secured second position, with Kimi Räikkönen fourth, during last Sunday's race.

However, while noting the gains made by the engine department following the introduction of an upgraded turbocharger in Canada, Arrivabene is wary that Ferrari needs to improve in other areas.

"Our race pace was good, albeit not quite as good as it should be," he said.

"We saw a very good performance by both our drivers we must work hard to provide them with a better car.

"As we had seen already in Canada, the engine seems to be our strength, while we still need to work on the other areas, because this car has proven to be very sensitive to set-up changes.

"The gap to our main competitors is still there so we have to work hard to improve in the areas where we are still weak and keep focusing on this year, because there's still a long way to go to the end of the season."

Ferrari trails Mercedes by 81 points in the Constructors' championship.

Azerbaijan sure of long-term F1 future
The promoter of the European Grand Prix is sure that Azerbaijan will have a long-term presence on the Formula 1 calendar, following the inaugural event at the Baku City Circuit.

Azerbaijan joined the Formula 1 calendar last weekend with a six-kilometer circuit around the streets of the country's capital, Baku, with the race won by Mercedes' Nico Rosberg.

While some recent additions to the calendar have lasted only a handful of years, such as India and Korea, race promoter Arif Rahimov is certain of the event's long-term future.

"It is a success," he told Reuters. "It's really great to hear all the compliments from everyone.

"From drivers, from teams, from Formula One management… everyone's really happy, everyone's proud of the event. We made it.

"We showed what Baku is: great racing along with a great city.

"If we reach the success that we reached this year, I'm sure it's going to be a long term event, just as good as the old races that are now on the calendar, like Monaco and Monza."

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