Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Jock Clear
    Jock Clear

    Ferrari rivals not using tire pressure tricks – Clear

  • More crashes could mean team orders – Wolff
  • Benoit says Sauber must change driver lineup
  • Webber says angry Ricciardo will bounce back
  • Haryanto 'working hard' to buy full season
  • Pirelli reveals Singapore compounds
  • Horner: 2016 a turning point for Red Bull

Ferrari rivals not using tire pressure tricks – Clear
(GMM) Jock Clear does not think Ferrari's troubles are related to supposed tricks some rivals may be deploying to lower tire pressures in 2016.

In the last two races in particular, the Maranello team has fallen behind Red Bull and even further behind Mercedes, mainly due to a mysterious struggle in the latter stages of qualifying.

One theory might be that other teams are doing a better job with supposed trick technology in dipping crucial tire pressures below the mandatory minimums set by Pirelli.

But Clear, an experienced and well-known F1 engineer who started work at Ferrari this year, doesn't think so.

"Lower pressures give you more grip," he admitted to Auto Motor und Sport, "but for one lap in qualifying, it is easier to keep the pressures in the window where you want them."

Clear said regulating tire pressures in the race – no matter the technology – would be much harder.

"We do not believe the stories that some teams can lower their tire pressures significantly," he insisted. "Perhaps half a PSI, but not two. We think that's impossible.

"There's a lot of talk about smart solutions that get the heat out of the wheels, but they are all illegal," Clear added. "The FIA has confirmed that all the cars are legal and we have no reason to doubt that."

As for Ferrari's apparent performance dip, Clear also downplayed suggestions in the media that it is a 'crisis'.

"The gap to Mercedes is bigger than we had calculated," he admitted, "but it's smaller than the average of last season and the last race of 2015. That's the positive side.

"We are closing the gap to Mercedes, and we are sure that the two performance curves will overlap in the future. The only question is when," said Clear.

Toto Wolff
Toto Wolff

More crashes could mean team orders – Wolff
(GMM) Toto Wolff has warned that more crashes between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg would cause Mercedes to rethink its policy of allowing the pair to race freely.

World champion Hamilton said after Barcelona, where on the first lap he collided with teammate Rosberg in a race-ending crash involving both drivers, that Mercedes' decision to not change its policy about letting them race was "cool".

But team boss Wolff has now told Sport Bild: "Should it happen again, we have the option of introducing a team order."

The Austrian said he was happy, however, that in the race after Barcelona – last weekend's Monaco grand prix – Rosberg and Hamilton were playing together nicely.

Indeed, championship leader Rosberg even pulled over to let Hamilton past when he was struggling for pace, contributing to the Briton winning the race.

"We only waved Lewis past because Nico was clearly having problems with his car," Wolff said.

"But I can only take my hat off to Nico that he allowed the team to take the victory," he added.

If their pay-to-drive drivers can't get along Monisha Kaltenborn will have to find another ride-buyer. Pastor Maldonado is ready to get back in!
If their pay-to-drive drivers can't get along Monisha Kaltenborn will have to find another ride-buyer. Pastor Maldonado is ready to get back in!

Benoit says Sauber must change driver lineup
(GMM) A leading Swiss journalist has suggested Sauber needs to make a change to its driver lineup at the end of the season.

In Monaco, their bitter old rivalry from their GP2 days came back with a vengeance when Felipe Nasr point-blank refused to accept the team's order to let teammate Marcus Ericsson past.

Some laps later, Swede Ericsson tried to pass Nasr, they both crashed and ultimately retired. Team boss Monisha Kaltenborn said their behavior was "unacceptable".

"As the saying goes, there are always three sides to the story: yours, mine and the truth," Nasr told the Brazilian press.

Roger Benoit, one of the most experienced and respected journalists in the paddock and close to team founder Peter Sauber, said he believes Nasr and Ericsson as teammates is now untenable.

"One thing is clear, if Sauber is still there in 2017, these drivers cannot be together," he wrote in the Swiss newspaper Blick.

"If the team loses control of the drivers, at least one head must roll," Benoit added.

Nasr, however, said that in the wake of the Monaco shenanigans, a meeting between himself, boss Kaltenborn and Ericsson had cleared the air.

"As a team, we had a conversation and he, myself and Monisha clarified all the points. It was just to clear the air and go forward in the most professional way," he is quoted by Globo.

"From Monisha's side, as the team leader she wants the drivers to respect team orders," Nasr admitted.

Indeed, in a rare open letter to its fans, Sauber has this week reiterated its view that F1 is a team sport and "with every position gained we are that much closer to points".

"We are all racers, but the team's overall interest will always be more important than that of any individual," Sauber's letter added.

The Globo report suggested that with the Banco do Brasil-backed Nasr's contract ending this year, the 23-year-old intends to be professional for the rest of the season while seeking a more competitive seat elsewhere for 2017.


Webber says angry Ricciardo will bounce back
(GMM) Plain-talking former F1 driver Mark Webber has named Ferrari as the most disappointing team of 2016.

The Maranello team entered the season upbeat about its chances of bridging the gap to dominant Mercedes, but Australian Webber insisted: "Ferrari have been the most disappointing team so far.

"They haven't really hit their straps at all, but I predict they'll get their season underway in Canada," the former Williams and Red Bull driver said.

Speaking to the British publication Somersetlive whilst promoting his autobiography, Webber said he has been more impressed with the 2016 form of his countryman Daniel Ricciardo.

"He's the form driver of the year in terms of the performances he's delivering and he can't do any more than that," said Webber, who now races in sports cars.

Ricciardo was livid after the recent Spanish and Monaco grands prix, suggesting that on both occasions only team mistakes by Red Bull robbed him of victory.

"It's part of the game unfortunately, and adversity comes with it," said Webber, who drove for Red Bull for seven years until 2013, winning 9 times.

"You have to take the big right hook on the chin sometimes, which is tough and he's had a couple of tricky weekends where he feels that he did everything he could," the 39-year-old added.

"It's a bitter pill to swallow for a driver when you do everything you can and you don't get the result that you deserve, which can be frustrating, but he'll bounce back," Webber said.

Rio Haryanto working hard to buy the full season
Rio Haryanto working hard to buy the full season

Haryanto 'working hard' to buy full season
Rio Haryanto says his management team are "working hard" to ensure that he will see out the 2016 season with Manor, amid recent doubts over his financial backing.

Haryanto used personal backing and support from Indonesia's government to help claim the final spot on the Formula 1 grid alongside Mercedes junior Pascal Wehrlein.

Haryanto is still attempting to raise the funds required by Manor at certain stages of the campaign, however, through a government-related crowdfunding effort.

"I hope that I can be here for the full season," commented Haryanto, when asked to clarify his situation at Manor following the recent speculation over his future.

"There are some rumors that I'm only going to do half of the season at Manor, but at the moment my management are working very hard to get the full season.

"I'm focusing on the job and we'll see what happens later."

Haryanto hopes that the situation will soon be settled to reduce the extra pressure, and is also keen to demonstrate his full potential against the highly-rated Wehrlein.

"It's important to lift that [financial] side of me," Haryanto went on to explain.

"I've just got to do my best, drive the car as quickly as possible and work with the team well.

"I still believe there is a lot more to come, and to be able to compete with Pascal, and to match him, is a good reference, so I'll just try to keep it up and be slightly quicker again."

Pirelli tires
Pirelli tires

Pirelli reveals Singapore compounds
Formula 1 tire supplier Pirelli has announced its compound selections for the Singapore Grand Prix, the first of the late flyaway stint, with the Ultra Soft (purple), Super Soft (red) and Soft (yellow) to be used.

Pirelli has allocated a set of Super Softs and Softs for the race, with a set of Ultra Softs for qualifying.

For the 2016 season, each driver receives 13 dry-weather sets per event, with Pirelli selecting two sets for the race (only one of which must be used), and a set of the softest compound, only for use in Q3.

Drivers are free to select any combination of the chosen compounds for the other 10 sets.

Pirelli's 2016 tire choices so far:

Australia – Super Soft / Soft / Medium
Bahrain – Super Soft / Soft / Medium
China – Super Soft / Soft / Medium
Russia – Super Soft / Soft / Medium
Spain – Soft / Medium / Hard
Monaco – Ultra Soft / Super Soft / Soft
Canada – Ultra Soft / Super Soft / Soft
Azerbaijan – Super Soft / Soft / Medium
Austria – Ultra Soft / Super Soft / Soft
Britain – Soft / Medium / Hard
Hungary – Super Soft / Soft / Medium
Germany – Super Soft / Soft / Medium
Singapore – Ultra Soft / Super Soft / Soft

Christian Horner
Christian Horner

Horner: 2016 a turning point for Red Bull
Red Bull has emerged as Mercedes' main contender in recent races, with the newly-promoted Max Verstappen taking victory at the Spanish Grand Prix and Daniel Ricciardo almost adding another win in Monaco. Between the two events, sat down for a wide-ranging chat with team boss Christian Horner.

So, Christian, are we at the brink of a new Red Bull era?
(Laughs) I would like to think so! Certainly this year has been a turning point. We felt we would be more competitive in the second half of the year than the first, so to have already won a race, been on the podium and be third in the World Championship at the moment is more than we expected.

Do you think the RB12 the best chassis on the grid at the moment?
It's a very strong chassis; Renault has made good progress with the engine, and the combination is working well so far. We still have a lot more ground to make up to catch Mercedes, but we're going in the right direction.

Some people perhaps questioned Red Bull after 2014 and 2015…
In 2014 we won three races and were second in the World Championship, but 2015 was a tough year. I think we had a pretty decent chassis, but obviously we gave a lot away in performance. But I think with the changes that have been made over the winter and the upgrades that the power unit has brought, have been really positive, and we've been able to make best use of that.

Red Bull has won many races, but where does Spain rank?
That was our 51st victory and I think it was one of our best. We were racing head-to-head with Ferrari, it was very, very tight and very exciting. Max was on his debut, so it was a fairytale scenario, as the youngest winner, while (Red Bull boss) Mr. [Dietrich] Mateschitz was there.

Red Bull strongly pushed for regulation changes in 2017, but now that you're catching up with Mercedes, is it a disadvantage for you that an overhaul is coming?
I think it's a good thing. It's a clean sheet of paper for everybody. In reality, the gap to Mercedes is still reasonably big, so with a clean sheet of paper, we relish the opportunity to take on that challenge.

Red Bull came close to quitting Formula 1 last year amid its search for an engine. Do you think they underestimated your importance to the sport, or overestimated you as a competitor?
I think there was a genuine fear of Red Bull… This team is a world-class team and, of course, it doesn't sit too comfortably with some of our opponents.

Does this somehow prove them right that, with a Ferrari engine, you could have been ahead?
I think Mr. [Sergio] Marchionne said we gave him all the reasons why we didn't supply Red Bull. It is a compliment, I have to say. Our current engine partner, badged as a TAG Heuer now, has stepped up and they're doing a good job now. What's in the pipeline for the next year or two looks very promising.

We mentioned Verstappen earlier. Were you always as convinced as Dr. Helmut Marko?
I think it was obvious that he was a talent, a very clear talent. I remember we sat down and spoke about him in 2014 at the German Grand Prix over dinner, about plans to get him into the Toro Rosso and so on. He was only 16 at that point. I think he's met and exceeded all our expectations. He's a very talented young man. He needs to keep his feet on the ground, which he's doing a good job of. You can see that the potential is huge.

But there must have been some doubts about him at the same time…
I think after watching him closely last year at Toro Rosso, for me he was one of the most exciting things about the 2015 season. It became obvious that it was the right thing to shuffle the drivers. Helmut rang me with a suggestion and after five minutes of thinking about it, it made perfect sense.

How difficult is it to manage expectations surrounding him?
It's an important part of his development. He's still inexperienced, still young and still learning. He has hit feet on the ground. His family have done a good job of keeping him level-headed. But of course he's a Grand Prix winner, living in Monaco, driving an Aston Martin, wearing a nice watch… It's an awful lot of success very young. But I think with the benefit that his father his, he understands this world quite well, his mother as well, and I think they've done a good job of keeping a balance around him.

Was it difficult to make the choice between him and Sainz Jr. – also for 2017?
It's a luxury problem. We had an awful lot of information, we have a lot of data from these guys from when they're juniors, how they come through. For us, it was reasonably straightforward.

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