Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Hamilton and Alonso mock F1 radio gag rules
    Hamilton and Alonso mock F1 radio gag rules

    Hamilton finds allies in radio rules complaint

  • No GP2-like 'chaos' for F1 in Baku race
  • Sainz waiting for Red Bull's decision on future
  • Ferrari in no hurry to decide Raikkonen's future
  • Williams Announces Karun Chandhok as Official Heritage Driver
  • Vettel explains decision to overrule Ferrari
  • Raikkonen slams 'stupid' pit entry penalty
  • Vettel pleased with Ferrari's recovery
  • Triple World Champion Jackie Stewart Talks Formula 1's Current State, Heineken Deal

Hamilton finds allies in radio rules complaint
(GMM) The big topic after Sunday's inaugural F1 race in Baku was the controversial limitations on radio traffic between driver and pitwall.

As his points comeback faltered on the streets of Azerbaijan, world champion Lewis Hamilton let his frustration show as he grappled with an engine setting problem that Mercedes engineers could not help him fix.

"In the end it was only a switch that was in the wrong position," boss Toto Wolff told German media. "And at 350kph, it is not so easy to realize what the problem is."

While Mercedes officials said winner Nico Rosberg's similar problem was easier to resolve, the team confirmed that the German also grappled with the issue but quickly fixed it.

"I felt the power loss and looked at my steering wheel. I thought about it briefly and then realized what it must be," Rosberg confirmed.

The situation raised suggestions that Hamilton's party lifestyle was finally catching up with him versus the apparently far more studious Rosberg.

But Hamilton insisted: "There was no way for me to know what was wrong, no matter how much I had studied it. I was looking at the steering wheel most of the time, which is dangerous.

"The rule needs to be looked at again," he insisted.

The Briton is referring to F1's clampdown on radio communications, after a perception had emerged that engineers were doing as much driving in the complex 'power unit' era as the actual drivers.

On this issue, Hamilton has plenty of allies, including Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda.

But Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel also agrees, calling the clampdown "a joke", and Fernando Alonso was similarly scathing.

"Stupid," agreed Kimi Raikkonen, who also struggled to fix a problem without the help of the pitwall on Sunday.

No GP2-like 'chaos' for F1 in Baku race
(GMM) After two calamitous GP2 races in Baku, the stage was set for a thrilling and incident-filled inaugural formula one battle on the Azerbaijani streets.

But the excitement did not materialize.

That was partly due to the fact that, with Ferrari and Red Bull having closed the gap in the previous three races, Mercedes' dominance was peerless in Baku.

"It's like the track was designed for Mercedes," complained Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, referring to the 2 kilometer long straight.

But the energy drink-owned team also struggled notably on Sunday with tire management: an issue Horner said Red Bull must now resolve "as a matter of priority".

Ferrari was notably also not on Mercedes' pace all weekend in Baku, but it was the lack of action up and down the field that was so different to what had been seen in GP2.

"I think people who had bet on the number of safety cars lost a lot of money," smiled Sebastian Vettel.

The German said he thinks the difference in "quality" between the F1 and GP2 field made the difference.

Winner Nico Rosberg agreed: "We're all much more experienced and able to avoid incidents better, and we also learned a lot from what was going on in GP2 for sure, because we were watching and it was mayhem."

Vettel said the fact there had been so much pre-race talk about safety at Baku – a wall-lined circuit that saw an incredible top speed of 376kph – also made a difference.

"I think there are some corners here where you don't want to think about what happens if you get it wrong," he said. "It definitely makes you more alert.

"I don't think we were taking it easy, but equally you don't take any stupid risks because it could end quite badly."

It also seems apparent that drivers may have been warned by their respective teams to avoid the sort of chaos seen in GP2.

"The opposite of what I expected happened," said Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne. "No safety car, no accidents.

"The drivers followed the instructions of the teams and avoided the incidents."

And circuit architect Hermann Tilke told Auto Motor und Sport: "The drivers probably took a more conservative approach because they thought a finish would automatically mean a points finish."

Carlos Sainz Jr. to get Toro Rosso renewal?
Carlos Sainz Jr. to get Toro Rosso renewal?

Sainz Jr. waiting for Red Bull's decision on future
(GMM) Carlos Sainz Jr. looks set to stay at Toro Rosso for a third consecutive season in 2017.

Amid rumors of interest from Ferrari and Renault, it is believed Red Bull has decided to take up an option on the Spaniard's contract that will keep him at the Faenza based junior team next year.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner indicated an announcement may be made "in the next few days".

On the morning of Sunday's race in Baku, Toro Rosso chief Franz Tost was asked about whether Sainz is staying for 2017 and he answered that it was Red Bull's decision.

"I'm comfortable at Toro Rosso," 21-year-old Sainz told Spanish television, "but we need to take a step forward to stop things like today from happening if we want to fight for fifth place in the constructors' championship."

He is referring not only to suspension problems that affected both himself and teammate Daniil Kvyat, but a range of issues for Toro Rosso at Baku.

"We had three very good races and for this weekend, for one reason or another, things did not go so well, but that doesn't mean Austria will not be different," said Sainz.

"It has not been my best weekend but the team has been doing a good job," he added.

As for the rumors he is being retained by Red Bull for Toro Rosso in 2017, he responded: "Let the ones who will take the decisions do so. I have no choice but to wait while I continue doing everything I can from my side.

"Then we'll see that in the end we have an agreement or not," he said.

The team Toro Rosso is fighting against for fifth overall is Force India, whose Sergio Perez has been on the podium two times in the past three races.

"The truth is that Force India seems to be on another level, but we will keep fighting and learning," said Sainz.

Marchionne and Arrivabene defend Raikkonen
Marchionne and Arrivabene defend Raikkonen

Ferrari in no hurry to decide Raikkonen's future
(GMM) Ferrari has admitted Kimi Raikkonen's future remains uncertain beyond the end of his 2016 contract.

However, one impeccable source close to the Maranello team insists the Finn looks set to stay.

"I can confirm that the renewal of Kimi's contract is approaching," Leo Turrini, a well-known Italian blogger, is quoted by the Finnish broadcaster MTV.

But Raikkonen, 36, has had up and down form so far in 2016, including being penalized for crossing the pit entry line on Sunday and then being passed by Sergio Perez for the podium.

Indeed, Mexican Perez – a former Ferrari development driver – has been on the podium twice in the last three races and is now linked with a return to Maranello.

Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene was asked by a courageous reporter on Sunday if team backer Carlos Slim, who also backs Force India's Perez, will be pleased with Perez's recent performances.

"I do not understand your question and what you mean about Carlos Slim," he said.

"His company is a Ferrari sponsor, period."

As for Raikkonen's performance in Baku, his pit entry line mistake cost him a penalty and he was not able to stop Perez from beating him to the podium.

"Kimi's mistake? Unfortunately it happened," Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne, in Baku for the race, said.

Arrivabene added: "Raikkonen was passed by the Force India in the end because of the fuel consumption."

And when asked about Raikkonen's future, he answered: "It makes no sense yet to talk about next season, because it benefits nobody and the end of this championship is still so far away.

"Kimi is totally focused on his work and today he demonstrated that he is a good teammate for Sebastian. Kimi did a good job but we are in no hurry to make any decisions.

"Today both drivers drove well but we need to improve our car," Arrivabene added.

Marchionne added: "We are still clarifying but the focus at the moment is on supporting our pilots unconditionally.

"Kimi is a world champion and very experienced and his future depends entirely on himself."

Karun Chandhok
Karun Chandhok

Williams Announces Karun Chandhok as Official Heritage Driver
Williams is delighted to welcome experienced racer Karun Chandhok as official driver for its Heritage division.

In his new role as Williams Heritage Driver, Karun will focus on the testing and public demonstration of Williams’ historic racing cars. He will make his first appearance as a Williams Heritage driver at the 2016 Goodwood Festival of Speed (June 23rd – 26th), where Karun will drive up the iconic Goodwood Hill behind the wheel of an FW08C from 1983 and an FW13B from 1990.

Williams Heritage was created to manage the team’s collection of historic Formula One cars, dating from Williams’ first season in Formula One in 1977 to the most recently retired models. The division showcases these classic racing cars to fans at a selection of events throughout the year, and also identifies and prepares a selection of cars for private sale. With one of the world’s finest reserves of competition cars with an impeccable pedigree, the Williams Heritage program presents an exclusive investment and ownership opportunity for active enthusiasts and investors.

As part of his new role, Karun will also act as a driver coach to customers of Williams Heritage who have purchased a running car and use Williams Heritage to run and maintain it.

Speaking about his appointment Karun Chandhok said; “Williams is such an iconic British team, steeped in racing history so it’s a real honor to be involved in its Heritage program. So many of the Williams Heritage cars are pieces of racing history with great stories to tell, so to be offered the chance to get up close and personal and drive them – sometimes being the first person to do so in decades – is an incredible opportunity.

"I look forward to not only demonstrating the cars from time to time, but working with other Williams car owners to help them fully enjoy their experience of driving these pieces of F1 history."

Jonathan Williams, Williams Heritage Director, said “With a wealth of experience in a wide range of championships, including Formula One, GT, LMP1 and Formula E, Karun was the ideal candidate to be our Heritage driver. What’s more, he has a real passion for motorsport history and is a font of knowledge when it comes to Formula One.

"The Goodwood Festival of Speed is a highlight of the motorsport calendar, always providing fans with a truly impressive collection of modern and historic cars. We are very much looking forward to taking part in the event once more."

Vettel overrules another possible Ferrari strategy mistake
Vettel overrules another possible Ferrari strategy mistake

Vettel explains decision to overrule Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel has explained his decision to overrule Ferrari's pit-stop judgement during Sunday's European Grand Prix, after he was called in early in the race but opted to stay out.

Vettel started third but quickly moved ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who then made an early stop, along with team-mate Max Verstappen, as Red Bull suffered with high tire degradation.

Ferrari responded immediately by calling Vettel into the pits to prevent the 'undercut' from Ricciardo, but the four-time World Champion replied: "Are you sure? The car feels good."

While team-mate Kimi Raikkonen pitted after nine laps, Vettel stayed out until 21/51.

After the race, Vettel said: "Basically, I was called in. We wanted to react to Daniel who pitted, as he was struggling a lot with his tires; obviously we passed him and then he went into the box.

"But I had a decent feeling, the pace was quite OK. I was asking the team to stay out.

"I maybe saw that Daniel was struggling and that the tires were not feeling so comfortable in the first six to 10 laps – I was a bit worried that the second stint would be very, very long."

Vettel lost out to Raikkonen in the stops but was allowed to pass to regain second.

"In the end I don't think there was much in it [pitting earlier or later]," he said.

"We lost position to Kimi who undercut us, but we played well as a team to make sure that, when I came out behind him with the fresher tires, to use the pace and secure second."

Raikkonen took fourth, after being overtaken by Sergio Pérez on the final lap.

Raikkonen enters the pits
Raikkonen enters the pits

Raikkonen slams 'stupid' pit entry penalty
Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen has described as "stupid" his penalty for running over the pit entry line in the European Grand Prix.

Raikkonen earned a five-second time penalty for crossing the white line while gaining a tow from Daniel Ricciardo, who was pitting.

Raikkonen went on to finish in fourth position, after being overtaken by Force India rival Sergio Pérez on the final lap of the race.

"I kind of understand the rule of crossing the line, but in my book it's stupid," commented Raikkonen, who was also given two penalty points by the stewards, which puts him on five for the 12-month period.

"You gain zero from that, to go over it, but unfortunately I got the penalty."

Raikkonen also spoke of his frustration over the lack of blue flags in the race.

"The aim was to keep five seconds to the next ones [behind], but twice I ended up following one Sauber and one Haas for more than a lap, and lost a lot of lap time," he added.

"At least the same guy who gives you the penalty should then do his job and give the blue flags. Obviously that was the start of the small issues, but the speed was more or less there.

"Overall I'm a bit disappointed. It was a difficult weekend, but it wasn't a disaster."

Vettel says Ferrari recovered to finish 2nd but he knows his car is miles behind the Mercedes
Vettel says Ferrari recovered to finish 2nd but he knows his car is miles behind the Mercedes

Vettel pleased with Ferrari's recovery
Sebastian Vettel says Ferrari put in a "great recovery" to finish second at the European Grand Prix, after initial struggles earlier in the weekend.

Vettel was only eighth quickest during Friday practice at the Baku City Circuit but qualified in fourth place, which became third after a penalty for Sergio Pérez.

Vettel held position at the start before moving ahead of Daniel Ricciardo to take second, where he eventually finished, securing his fifth podium of the campaign.

"It was a great job for us today," said Vettel, who cemented third place in the standings.

"Already by the end of yesterday the car was coming alive.

"We were struggling a bit [during practice] on Friday, but to see where we are now, it's a great recovery.

"It's our second, second place in a row. We're two times in a row on the podium now after Canada, which is great, scoring some good points.

"I think the pace is there, the car is good and we're coming along."

Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was fourth in the sister SF16-H.

Jackie Stewart
Jackie Stewart

Triple World Champion Jackie Stewart Talks Formula 1's Current State, Heineken Deal
Triple world champion JACKIE STEWART continues to affect Formula 1's future more than 40 years after his last grand prix victory. Stewart recently brought a new global partner to the series with Dutch brewer Heineken. Adding multinational companies like Heineken, and previously Rolex, to the sport is rewarding, Stewart said. The 77-year-old Scotsman, who also had his own F1 team, Stewart Grand Prix, before selling it to Ford, recently spoke with HJ Mai of SBD Global about the racing series' ongoing challenges, including economics, safety, competition and sponsorship deals.

On the current state of Formula 1 …
Jackie Stewart: The way I look at it is there are more people driving cars today than there has ever been in the history of the world. There are more drivers in India than there are in America. Therefore these new countries that are being motorized are taking a greater interest in the motor car. The love affair for the motor car for them is sharper than in countries that had motor-car availability for years. The economy at the present time, I think people are frightened they are going back to a 2008 experience. But they do have the money. They got it stashed away and they are frightened in case they get another crisis. People are shy about that. Boards are shy about it. Multinationals are more shy about it than, let’s say, young start-up companies. That’s just the tone of the global economy. …
But the highest level of technology within the automobile world is F1 and motorsport in general. … Everybody goes through ups and downs. You can’t expect to be constantly the top of the flagpole. … More than 39 percent of the American cars are bought by women, so we need more women coming to motorsports, for example, because they are going to be influential in the purchase of the car. … We are better off today for the longer term future. Motorsport isn’t going to change because there’s no viable alternative in the foreseeable future for the motor vehicle. You’ve just got to take the good with the bad.

On safety and Jules Bianchi's deadly accident …
Stewart: You always have to move forward. I don’t suppose there has been anybody in racing being as close to changing it, in particular, in the areas of safety as I’ve created over my period of changing the whole world of safety. … I’m sorry that his parents and family are taking this to law. I’m very sympathetic to them and their grievance must be extremely painful. But my own view of this is that the track at that time was under a double yellow. A double yellow says that you must be prepared to stop.

Jules was not having the speed that would have allowed him to safely stop and he aquaplaned and he had a massive crash. And, sadly, he died.
But I don’t think you can look back and say, 'I want to have a law case against this.' Because one thing was for sure, if the driver had been going a lot slower he wouldn’t have aquaplaned on that piece of water and, therefore, I’m afraid (that's) what I call a racing accident. …
We do go through cycles of being able to break new ground, and I don’t discourage that. More than anyone else, I suppose, I changed the whole face of Formula 1 on the basis of track safety and the obstacles that were on these tracks that were absolutely ridiculous.

Stewart at the 1969 Dutch Grand Prix

On the emergence of Formula E …
Stewart: It’s good that Formula E has arrived, but at this stage and for the next good number of years it’s not going to challenge Formula 1. It’s not going to challenge the Le Mans 24-hour race or any of the other long-distance races. But it’s a niche market of motorsport with ecological advantages that they have produced that give a not hard core motor racing enthusiast crowd a reason to go there. The crowds are not big, but they are in the middle of the cities. …

I think it’s good and healthy, but I don’t think it is a challenge to Formula 1. Formula 1 is the crème de la crème. You’ll always have crème de la crèmes, and you’ll always have the others.

On what impact the Heineken deal will have on the sport
Stewart: The fact that Formula 1 is so global offers the opportunity for big multinationals to take advantage of it. There’s only one Formula 1 race in every single country every year, so it is a big ticket. I think they see that it allows them to get to an audience that they have never been part of, and everyone who’s motorized is going to be encouraged not to drink and drive by the people who produce the alcoholic product, i.e. Heineken beer. It’s a good message because they want to be sure that they become socially acceptable. They want safety and that is why they have taken interest in me. …

I think it’s a win-win situation for both. For Formula 1 because right now we are putting together some very good blue-chip companies. You can’t get much more blue-chip than with Emirates, Pirelli, DHL and Heineken. Very few sports can boast partnerships of that quality. That’s what I like to deal with, I like to deal with the right people, successful people. It’s always more interesting to be with people who are winners. I was more than happy to take an interest in trying to bring them into Formula 1. …
The public will get closer to the grand prix drivers with Heineken than they have with any sponsor that I can think of within the last 30 or 40 years. HJ Mai SBD Global

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