Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Lance Stroll hopes to buy a Williams seat in 2017
    Lance Stroll hopes to buy a Williams seat in 2017

    Stroll says Bottas and Massa's contracts expiring

  • Montreal 'far from in decline' – promoter
  • 'Sober' F1 no longer 'excessive' – Villeneuve
  • Grosjean admits to eyeing Raikkonen's seat
  • 2017 'very important' for Alonso, McLaren and F1
  • Red Bull to stay ahead of Ferrari – Verstappen
  • Alonso admits Ferrari has improved since 2014
  • Forbes names Hamilton highest-paid F1 star
  • Four F1 drivers among Forbes' 100 highest-paid athletes
  • McLaren to receive fuel upgrade in Canada
  • 2017 tires will be "amazing" for F1

Stroll says Bottas and Massa's contracts expiring
(GMM) Lance Stroll has admitted to eyeing a potential vacancy at the Williams team for 2017.

The 17-year-old, whose father is the Canadian fashion billionaire Lawrence Stroll, is already a development driver with the British F1 outfit.

Stroll is also dominating this year's European F3 championship for the top team Prema, but told La Presse he is not keen to leap into formula one too prematurely.

"It's important that I do each step in the right way, without taking short-cuts," he said ahead of the Canadian grand prix.

"We see too many young drivers get to F1 very quickly, perhaps too quickly, and make many mistakes. You only really have one chance to break into F1, because there is always someone else ready to take your place," added Stroll.

Nonetheless, he said he is open-minded about getting an opportunity for 2017, particularly if it can be in a competitive car like the Williams.

"Everything will depend on the opportunities that arise over the next six months, either in GP2 or F1," he said.

"The goal, obviously, is F1. If I finished the year as I should, I don't see why I would not be ready. We already know the contracts of the Williams drivers (Valtteri) Bottas and Felipe Massa will expire at the end of the season so it's very possible," said Stroll.

F1 interest in Canada still high
F1 interest in Canada still high

Montreal 'far from in decline' – promoter
(GMM) Amid declining television and spectator numbers, Canada is one of F1's exceptions.

"As promoters, there are 21 different markets," said Francois Dumontier, organizer of the popular annual Canadian grand prix in Montreal.

"The reality in Sochi or Abu Dhabi is not the same as it is in Montreal," he told La Presse ahead of the race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

"We are far from being in decline," Dumontier said.

Renault team boss Frederic Vasseur agrees: "The interest of the public is not necessarily down everywhere."

In fact, he argues there is little wrong with today's F1 spectacle.

"When we complain today about Mercedes' dominance, I recall the years when McLaren won 15 of the 16 races, or Mansell won 14 of 17. It was always like this," Vasseur added.

Jacques Villeneuve - after winning the F1 title he made a money grab to another team and never won an F1 race again
Jacques Villeneuve – after winning the F1 title he made a money grab to another team and never won an F1 race again

'Sober' F1 no longer 'excessive' – Villeneuve
(GMM) Jacques Villeneuve prefers the "excessive" F1 of the past, compared to today's "sober" equivalent.

"It's not boring," said the 1997 world champion, "but it's not the same."

F1 has grown and evolved in the almost two decades since the French Canadian beat legend Michael Schumacher to the title, but the sport has found itself in a period of soul-searching amid declining spectator interest.

"It begs the question," Villeneuve, now a television pundit, told La Presse newspaper in Montreal. "What do we want from F1?

"For me, this sober F1 is not excessive. For me it's not gladiatorial, which is what made me love the sport. Often there was no real action but people recognized the talent and risk that these drivers were taking and playing with."

Asked why F1 is lacking some of that today, 45-year-old Villeneuve answered: "Because it's forbidden to hurt yourself, I guess.

"There is this position of the FIA to put an emphasis on road safety and use F1 to push that image."

He said F1's democratic voting systems have also hurt the sport, but said Force India and Sauber's argument that huge budgets are to blame is not right.

"The budgets were always huge," said Villeneuve. "Formula one is not socialism. If you're not good enough, well, go home, that's all.

"If you look at some small teams, like Manor or Sauber now, they don't even try to be an F1 team, they are just trying to survive. F1 is a business — it was never the purpose to have everyone within the same second."

The problem, Villeneuve argues, is that F1 has become not only obsessed with safety but also 'the show'.

"We tried to turn F1 into a TV show, and that's the big mistake. Now we have lots of passing but never on the edge of your seat, wondering if the driver will make the pass. There's nothing exciting about it now.

"We have to stop saying that F1 is just a show. F1 is supposed to be extreme; it's supposed to be expensive; it's supposed to be something unreachable.

"It's supposed to take a driver six months to be physically able to drive the car.

"No, F1 is now a show, F1 is the pinnacle of motor racing and a show in itself. In their day, everyone looked at Prost and Senna and said 'In my life, I will never be able to do that', and that was enough to make people dream," said Villeneuve.

Romain Grosjean would love the 2nd Ferrari seat
Romain Grosjean would love the 2nd Ferrari seat

Grosjean admits to eyeing Raikkonen's seat
(GMM) Romain Grosjean has admitted he would not turn down the chance to replace Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari.

When asked by Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport to rate his chances, the Frenchman grinned: "If I had my way, the chance would be 100 per cent."

Grosjean gave himself the very best shot by switching from Lotus to the new Ferrari 'B' team Haas for 2016, even though Sebastian Vettel has said he wants Raikkonen to stay put next year.

"It's not me who decides," Grosjean continued. "I would love to, of course.

"But I'm not thinking about anything other than doing well and bringing Haas to a competitive level. If I get a call from Maranello, I would be happy to say yes," he added.

Asked what Ferrari means to him, Grosjean said: "(It's) a big thing.

"We are talking about the most important team," he continued. "When I was 18 or 19 years old, I spoke with Jean Alesi and he told me 'Before I was only a formula one driver, then I became a Ferrari driver."

For now, Grosjean is a Haas driver, but after a very promising start to 2016, the team's performance has petered off.

"From China onwards, we have had trouble identifying the right window for the tires and the ideal pressure," he said. "But the car is faster than what we have seen recently and I believe we will get back there again."

Less likely, said 30-year-old Grosjean, is that he will suddenly be found nightclubbing or water-skiing with Justin Bieber, as per the antics of world champion Lewis Hamilton.

"I'm a quiet and boring, normal guy, and I really like that," he insisted.

"There's nothing like waking up on Monday after a race and hear your kids say 'Daddy, daddy, did you win a nice prize?' And whatever the answer, they say 'You're the best, I love you'."

Grosjean does, however, have a hobby, with his love of cooking meaning he will soon open a restaurant in Paris. And, on the side, he is even taking lessons in speaking Italian.

"Non e male!" he beams, answering 'not bad' when asked how the lessons are going. "I started to learn because I have an engine engineer from Ferrari. I take private lessons every week in Geneva," he revealed.

Alonso looks in the mirror everyday knowing he has zero chance to win
Alonso looks in the mirror everyday knowing he has zero chance to win

2017 'very important' for Alonso, McLaren and F1
(GMM) Fernando Alonso says 2017 will be an "important year" for many reasons.

We have already quoted the Spaniard this week as declaring that if he does not enjoy the faster and more aggressive next generation of cars in 2017, he may turn his attention to another challenge like winning Le Mans.

"Next year will be very important," the former two-time world champion told Brazil's UOL Esporte.

"There is no doubt it will be a very important year for McLaren, for this (McLaren-Honda) project and also for formula one, because in recent years there has been a negative trend for the category.

"We have changed engines, TV agreements — today there is more money from TV but there are less viewers. We have less noise from the cars.

"So next year will be very important for the sport and, in my case, it will be no different," Alonso added.

Indeed, the 34-year-old's three-year McLaren contract ends next year.

"I have a contract with McLaren," he confirmed, "and so I will see how the cars are, how attractive they are from a driver's point of view and then I will make a decision about my future."

Alonso also hinted that he may soon turn his attention to the "dangerous hobby" of starting a family.

"Seriously, having a family would be something good. Finding a good woman will probably be my greatest goal after I leave F1," he said.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen

Red Bull to stay ahead of Ferrari – Verstappen
(GMM) Max Verstappen says he is confident Red Bull will stay ahead of Ferrari for a third consecutive race this weekend in Canada.

The teen Dutchman won in Barcelona and his teammate Daniel Ricciardo dominated almost all weekend in Monaco, despite Ferrari insisting it has not fallen behind Red Bull.

"In speed we are still ahead of Red Bull," SID news agency quotes Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel as insisting.

But as news broke that Verstappen will be the latest winner of the coveted Lorenzo Bandini award in July, the 18-year-old said Red Bull is heading confidently into the Montreal round.

"There are definitely opportunities for us," he told his official website verstappen.nl.

"Mercedes is still too strong, but we should be able to beat the Ferraris so I'm racing for a podium," added Verstappen.

In the wake of his Barcelona breakthrough, Max also said he learned a valuable lesson in Monaco, where crashes not only in qualifying but also the race earned criticism even from within Red Bull circles.

"Of course there was a bit of criticism but I think it's good to share criticism," Verstappen said.

"In the end it just makes me better. If they only say 'it happens' then I won't learn a thing."

Alonso wishes he was still with Ferrari, but they signed Vettel and he was gone
Alonso wishes he was still with Ferrari, but they signed Vettel and he was gone

Alonso admits Ferrari has improved since 2014
(GMM) Fernando Alonso says his former team Ferrari has improved since 2014.

The Spaniard left the fabled Maranello team for McLaren-Honda, declaring that he would rather build up a new project rather than finish second for more years.

"Ferrari is better this year than last year," he admitted to Germany's Sport Bild. "The gap to Mercedes last year was bigger, despite the three wins."

Alonso's comments come amid an apparent mid-season dip for Ferrari, who are yet to join Mercedes and now even Red Bull in the winner's circle in 2016.

Alonso's Ferrari successor, Sebastian Vettel, agrees that the red team is better this year.

"Last year we were in no man's land," he is quoted by the Telegraph newspaper.

"This year by nature the gap is smaller, we are closer, we probably haven't had smooth races like we had in the beginning last year, so things didn't yet come together which is also our fault," Vettel added.

Ferrari is reportedly pushing ahead with a vengeance for Canada, upgrading its turbo unit, preparing aerodynamic improvements and revising the suspension to solve the 2016 car's problem of 'turning on' the tires in qualifying.

Alonso continued: "Ferrari is doing everything right, but Mercedes is just too strong.

"The lead they got with the hybrid engines in 2014 was so great that they still benefit today. But the changes in the chassis for 2017 could shake up the field and Ferrari will be strong again," the Spaniard added.

For now, many expect that Ferrari will struggle even to speed back past Red Bull, who in Barcelona and Monaco were Mercedes' biggest competitor.

"The biggest lesson for us has been how dangerous Red Bull can be," Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said ahead of the Montreal race, according to DPA news agency.

Former F1 driver and now German-language Sky pundit Marc Surer said in Canada: "I think (Daniel) Ricciardo is due a win, whether it rains or not."

A very rich Lewis Hamilton
A very rich Lewis Hamilton

Four F1 drivers among Forbes' 100 highest-paid athletes
(GMM) Forbes, the respected American business magazine, has named Lewis Hamilton the highest-earning driver in formula one.

In its annual top 100 ranking of the world's highest-paid sports stars, the reigning triple world champion came in 11th with $46 million earned through his contract with Mercedes, bonuses and endorsements.

The list was dominated by football, basketball, tennis and golf stars, with Cristiano Ronaldo right at the top with his incredible annual haul of $88 million.

After Hamilton, F1's next representative is Sebastian Vettel and his $41 million, followed by Fernando Alonso whose $36.5m was good enough for 24th place.

Just scraping into the top 100 was championship leader Nico Rosberg, with his $21 million earning him the 98th spot, beating only baseball's Carl Crawford and Buster Posey.

McLaren gets more potent fuel in Montreal
McLaren gets more potent fuel in Montreal

McLaren to receive fuel upgrade in Canada
McLaren will receive a new fuel from ExxonMobil which is "quite different to what everybody else is doing" at the Canadian Grand Prix.

The new fuel is the first upgrade introduced for the Honda power unit this season, coinciding with a circuit which requires strong engine performance. ExxonMobil's global motorsport technology manager Bruce Crawley says the fuel itself should represent a gain of around 0.1s in lap time.

"We're bringing a new fuel to Canada, which we've been working on with Honda," Crawley told Motorsport.com. "It's a new concept, and quite different to what everybody else is doing. It's part of an ongoing program of development which is now in its third year.

"We made a significant step forward in Melbourne, with a double-digit power performance increase relative to where the engine was with the previous fuel. We've been running with that fuel so far this season. The new fuel for Montreal represents about a 1 percent power increase.

"In round numbers, that's around 5kW, or about a tenth of a second, depending on what circuit you are on."

And Crawley says one of the major positive aspects of the new fuel is the way it opens up further potential for Honda's future developments.

"The interesting thing about this technology we're putting into the engine spec for Montreal is it's very much an enabling technology.

"The fuel technology has the potential, with changes and evolution of the engine hardware, to extract even more performance.

"We very much see this as a breakthrough in terms of enabling further gains with changes to the combustion system of the engine. Basically what we're trying to do is give Honda a headroom space to develop into." Motorsport.com

Wider 2017 tires
Wider 2017 tires

2017 tires will be "amazing" for F1
Pirelli chairman believes the new tires for 2017 will give the sport a boost.

Unveiled to the media in Monaco, the tires for the revised formula in 2017 are significantly wider than their current counterparts and, coupled with an increase in weight, not to mention the other new regulations, should lead to increased lap speeds.

"They look powerful," says Pirelli chairman Marco Tronchetti Provera, according to Motorsport.com. "They give the sense of power.

"The first test made in the wind tunnel they are proving that the outcome can be amazing," he added, though the tires have yet to be tried on track.

"It's a major change," he admitted. "Technologically speaking it's very attractive for us. People are very much involved and willing to deliver the best possible performance and I think these tires can provide an amazing result, because to improve some tenths of a second you have to do a lot of things on the car and the engine."

In anticipation of the changes, tests with tires in the current size, but with prototype constructions and compounds and using 2012, 2013 and 2014 cars, began last month, while the first test using 2017 size tires is scheduled for August.

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