Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Ecclestone plays down new race rumors
    Ecclestone plays down new race rumors

    Ecclestone plays down latest Las Vegas, Argentina and Kyalami reports

  • Drivers lukewarm over new Baku layout
  • Red Bull keeping same drivers in 2017 and 2018
  • Magnussen hopes contract talks start soon
  • Grosjean urges Haas to fix wing flaw
  • Heineken's F1 Deal Triggers New Call For Ban On Alcohol Sponsorships

Ecclestone plays down latest Las Vegas, Argentina and Kyalami reports
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has dismissed the latest reports about Las Vegas potentially joining an F1 calendar of the near future.

Speculation that F1 might host more American races often does the rounds, but the latest word from Las Vegas was that an event on the world-famous 'strip' is more than just fantasy.

However, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport now quotes Bernie Ecclestone as insisting: "The Americans talk a lot, but nothing happens."

The F1 supremo has also given an alarming quote about the future of the Brazilian grand prix, saying of the long-running race at Interlagos: "It could be that the grand prix in Brazil this year is the last."

Auto Motor und Sport said the problem in Brazil is purely financial, as the national broadcaster Globo reportedly struggles with strict austerity measures.

"Ecclestone will have negotiations with the organizers in Sao Paulo soon," correspondent Michael Schmidt revealed, surmising that the Briton's comments might just be "sabre-rattling".

There is better news about the uncertain future of the German grand prix, despite Ecclestone saying not too long ago that the country could fall back off the calendar for 2017.

But he has now declared: "I can imagine there being a race in 2017."

Schmidt said there are rumors that Ecclestone himself will promote a German race next year, and perhaps also leap to the rescue of the embattled Italian GP at Monza.

But Ecclestone played down rumors about Argentina and South Africa.

"I'm afraid they (Argentina) don't have the money," he said. As for South Africa, "It would be good, but Kyalami is too small for us."

Baku
Baku

Drivers lukewarm over new Baku layout
(GMM) F1 drivers have admitted they are not sure how much they will enjoy this weekend's inaugural grand prix on the streets of Baku.

The track in Azerbaijan has been billed as an ultra high speed street layout including an exciting, ultra-narrow run past the old city walls.

But world champion Lewis Hamilton sounds uncertain.

"It has a very long straight," the Briton is quoted by Brazil's UOL.

"Street circuit? I think Monaco is a street circuit. It (Baku) is so wide in some places — I don't know why they do circuits like this. But I hope it's exciting."

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel said he has tried the layout in the simulator.

"I thought it has a few interesting parts and some other more simple parts," said the German. "At least it will be hotter than in Canada!" he smiled.

Felipe Massa thinks the cars with the most powerful engines will shine because top speeds will rival those seen at Spa-Francorchamps and even Monza.

"It's a bit like Sochi with one quite narrow part," said the Williams driver.

And Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat is quoted by the Spanish daily Marca: "It reminds me a little of Valencia."

Red Bull Racing, meanwhile, has been impressed with Renault's improvements so far in 2016 but is not expecting to enjoy the extremely long straight at Baku.

"In our calculations, we assume we will lose 1.2 seconds on that straight," Dr Helmut Marko is quoted by the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.

"We have an excellent car but we can never make all of that (deficit) up in the corners."

Dr Helmut Marko happy with driver lineup
Dr Helmut Marko happy with driver lineup

Red Bull keeping same drivers in 2017 and 2018
(GMM) Red Bull is confirming that it will field an unchanged driver lineup in 2017.

There had been increasing speculation that Daniel Ricciardo could be eyeing a move to Ferrari, which was music to the ears of Toro Rosso hopeful Carlos Sainz.

"I'm here when Red Bull needs me," Spanish reports quoted him as saying.

But multiple international reports, including Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport, now report that Red Bull has extended Australian Ricciardo's contract for 2017 and 2018.

Dr Helmut Marko had told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport a few days ago: "Ricciardo will be with us until 2018, there is no doubt."

Team boss Christian Horner agreed that rumors Ricciardo's contract is ending are "wrong".

Asked by F1's official website if Red Bull will field Ricciardo alongside Max Verstappen in 2017, Horner answered: "Yes. But not just 2017!"

Gazzetta said an official announcement is expected soon, amid suggestions Ricciardo has secured a pay-increase that will see him earn EUR 20 million over the next two years.

Marko, the architect of Red Bull's controversial driver program, said he believes the team will be well placed to take on Mercedes for the 2017 title.

"Every time there were serious rule changes, Red Bull was in front," he told the latest edition of Germany's Sport Bild magazine, published on Wednesday.

"The rule changes, the expected performance increase from Renault, and especially our driver duo of Verstappen and Ricciardo will make us Mercedes' challenger in 2017," the Austrian added.

Marko said he thinks Red Bull's driver pairing is better even than Mercedes', even though he insisted that is not a criticism of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

"I'm just saying the Ricciardo and Verstappen will be better," he explained. "Both are able to win the world title in the next two years."

Kevin Magnussen hopes his check is big enough to buy another year with Renault
Kevin Magnussen hopes his check is big enough to buy another year with Renault

Magnussen hopes contract talks start soon
(GMM) Kevin Magnussen hopes his talks with Renault about staying with the French works team beyond 2016 begin soon.

After losing his place at McLaren, the Dane got his F1 career back on track this year by joining the Enstone based team, following the Lotus buyout.

Renault has struggled so far in 2016 but Magnussen, 23, said he hopes to stay with the "project" next year.

"I hope it (the negotiations) doesn't get too late in the season. I hate that," he told the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet.

"Hopefully it will be as soon as possible that we can begin to talk," Magnussen added.

"In the end it's not up to me. I am very happy to be here and would like to stay a part of the project. I can't say any more than that," he said.

Ekstra Bladet claims that Renault signed a one-year contract with Magnussen this year, but that the deal includes an option for 2017.

Grosjean leads Vandoorne in Bahrain
Grosjean leads Vandoorne in Bahrain

Grosjean urges Haas to fix wing flaw
(GMM) Romain Grosjean has urged Haas to get to the bottom of a recurring technical fault in 2016.

More than once this year, the new American outfit has been halted by mysterious and dangerous failures to the front wing.

The latest was in Montreal last weekend, so Grosjean told the French broadcaster Canal Plus: "This is the third time we have lost the front wing in a race.

"I think I'm going too fast for the car!" he joked.

"We have to find the explanation, because we were not very far from points. I was doing the maximum I could, really on the limit everywhere with the car, and then the wing broke all by itself.

"Afterwards I got the most I could from the car so I'm pretty happy with the race, but we need to manage to solve all of these problems," Grosjean added.

Heineken will be plastered all over F1 race tracks and podiums going forward
Heineken will be plastered all over F1 race tracks and podiums going forward

Heineken's F1 Deal Triggers New Call For Ban On Alcohol Sponsorships
Dutch brewer Heineken's sponsorship deal with F1, announced last week, "has led to renewed calls from European campaigners for a ban on alcohol sponsorship in the sport," according to Alan Baldwin of REUTERS. European Alcohol Policy Alliance network Eurocare, which groups public health and non-governmental organizations, said on Tuesday that "it wanted stronger legislation from the European Commission and member states."

Eurocare General Secretary Mariann Skar: "F1 should ask themselves if they want to be a motorsport or an alcohol brand event."

The Heineken deal is estimated to be worth $150M to F1 over five years. Skar: "If both the sport and the drinks producers want to be seen as responsible industries, they should stop this deal and move away from alcohol sponsorship in F1." Eurocare also published a letter sent to FIA President Jean Todt. Todt, a Frenchman and former Ferrari principal, "has made reducing the number of motoring fatalities a cornerstone of his presidency and is a United Nations special envoy for road safety."

Tobacco companies "were big backers of Formula One until the sport kicked the habit in 2008." Ferrari, Williams, McLaren and Force India "all have alcohol branding" while Diageo's Johnnie Walker has been F1's official whisky since '14 with considerable trackside advertising. Reuters

AUTOSPORT's Ian Parkes wrote Skar declared Heineken's involvement "a major concern because alcohol and driving should not be mixed," and argued "alcohol brands are now dominating sponsorships in F1, linking a popular motorsport to one of the major killers on our roads, drink driving."

Skar: "Alcohol marketing has a powerful effect on society, in particular on young people." In her letter to Todt, Skar concluded, "We would like to request that you take this issue seriously and consider moving away from these sponsorship agreements, as you did with tobacco sponsorship" Autosport

THE DRINKS BUSINESS' Lauren Eads wrote Heineken said it "would use the platform to also promote F1’s 'Open your World' and 'If You Drive, Never Drink' campaign, with activations including F1 circuit branding, TV commercials, digital activations, live fan experiences and events, dedicated PR initiatives, and packaging/point-of-sale activations."

Former driver David Coulthard and triple world champion Jackie Stewart "will be ambassadors for the respective campaigns." Heineken already invests 10% of its global media spend on "responsible alcohol consumption campaigns such as Moderate Drinkers Wanted and Dance More Drink Slow."

The message "is also delivered through sponsorship platforms such as UEFA Champions League and Rugby World Cup where one third of all pitch side advertising is dedicated to the message" The Drinks Business

NOTHING WRONG: Sir Jackie Stewart is confident alcohol brands will not face the same future as tobacco companies in F1.

Speaking to SBD Global after the official announcement of the Heineken deal, he said, "I see nothing wrong. It’s not a health hazard, for example, in the same way that the cigarette companies were facing from governments. I think they (Heineken) thought well about it and they decided this is the way to go."

The 77-year-old former driver and team owner worked for more than two years on the deal with the Dutch brewer, and as an ambassador he will also support Heineken's campaign efforts against drunk driving. "They (Heineken) think they can do a lot of good to encourage people not to drink and drive, while at the same time they obviously want their product to be more enjoyed by different nationalities and Formula 1 does that," Stewart said.

The triple world champion added he already shot a TV commercial for the beer company that is expected to air around the time of the Italian Grand Prix in early September. Stewart also brought in Rolex as a global partner of the racing series in '12 HJ Mai, Sports Business Daily Global

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