Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • F1 engines must last 11 to 12 races each starting in 2019
    F1 engines must last 11 to 12 races each starting in 2019

    Just 2 engines per driver by 2019 – report

  • Verstappen 'unbelievable' at 18 – Prost
  • Wolff hopes drivers 'have learned' from crash
  • Schumacher gets award for 'life's work'
  • Allison hails Ferrari test progress
  • Boullier: Monaco should suit McLaren
  • Wolff: Mercedes must 'hit back hard'
  • Mercedes drivers clear air after clash

Just 2 engines per driver by 2019 – report
(GMM) F1's long-life engine rules will get more than twice as arduous for manufacturers beyond 2019.

A few weeks ago, after a long period of negotiations, changes to further converge performance and cut costs were finally agreed.

At the time, the FIA said cost reduction will be possible through a "progressive reduction of the number of power unit elements per driver per season".

Currently, drivers can use five engines per season, but Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said that by 2019, that number will drop dramatically to just two, irrespective of the size of the race calendar.

When asked if that will even be possible for Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda to achieve, FIA race director Charlie Whiting said: "I am confident they will succeed, because the manufacturers themselves are confident and agreed to these numbers."

Verstappen impresses Prost
Verstappen impresses Prost

Verstappen 'unbelievable' at 18 – Prost
(GMM) F1 legend Alain Prost says Max Verstappen has been impressive beyond his mere age of 18.

Some pundits are warning the F1 world not to go overboard in praise for the sport's youngest ever winner, but Frenchman Prost is not among them.

A winner of 51 grand prix wins and four titles, and the former teammate of the legendary Ayrton Senna, Prost said of Verstappen: "What we saw in Barcelona was amazing.

"It is almost frightening, considering that he started at 4 in karts, so he has been in racing almost all of his life," he told Auto Motor und Sport.

"In my time, you could only race once you had a driver's license. I did my first formula one race at 25, but these days you are already on the scrap heap.

"I sometimes talk with him and the amount of race experience he has at 18 years is unbelievable," Prost continued. "He is 18 years old and knows all the tricks of an experienced driver.

"From my generation with Senna to Schumacher, Alonso to Vettel and now Max, it was always in the same direction: the drivers getting younger."

But there were some exceptions. "We had Mike Thackwell, who was 19 when he made his F1 debut, and one or two other young drivers who came into F1 and it destroyed them. They were simply too young," said Prost.

"Verstappen on the other hand does not act like an 18-year-old," he added.

"But the rules and the cars today allow a young driver to do a good job, which was not possible in my generation because it required a lot more experience and kilometers to succeed."

Nonetheless, Prost is particularly impressed with Verstappen.

"We have never seen a driver at his age who can withstand the pressure like he can," the 61-year-old told Germany's Auto Bild Motorsport.

"We have seen drivers who are very strong in mediocre teams, but then suffered with the pressure in a top team. But (in Barcelona) he made no mistakes all weekend," Prost said.

Toto Wolff
Toto Wolff

Wolff hopes drivers 'have learned' from crash
(GMM) Toto Wolff is heading into Monaco this weekend determined that Mercedes' drivers will not crash again.

From the moment Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg tangled and ended in the Barcelona gravel, the German team's boss has played down the explosive incident.

But now, just a day before track action resumes in Monaco practice, Wolff is insisting it will not happen again.

"The drivers know how we operate," he said. "The team is responsible for giving them the best possible cars and they are responsible for getting the best out of them – and for bringing them home."

That comment was made in Mercedes' official race preview, but in the pages of the Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten, Wolff added: "I feel physical pain when I think of Barcelona.

"As a team we lost 43 points and I hope our drivers have learned from it. Obviously something like this happens to us every two years," he added, referring to a collision between Rosberg and Hamilton at Spa in 2014.

Initially, although team chairman Niki Lauda pointed the finger at Hamilton, Wolff insisted that in fact neither the Briton nor Rosberg were to blame for what happened in Spain.

He now says: "They were both to blame.

"Lewis because he was aggressive, and Nico because he should have known that in his engine settings he was missing 160 horse power," Wolff explained.

Mercedes this week rubbished a wild rumor that Hamilton's partying had finally caught up with him and he could be sidelined in Monaco because of a mysterious nightclub incident.

Wolff told Salzburger Nachrichten that the reigning world champion's off-track lifestyle is under control.

"He is the first to know what is good for him and what is not. And if his performance suffers from his lifestyle, he would change it. So he doesn't need us to do anything," he insisted.

Michael Schumacher - will we ever see him in public again?
Michael Schumacher – will we ever see him in public again?

Schumacher gets award for 'life's work'
(GMM) Michael Schumacher will be honored at an award ceremony this week, the German newspaper Bild reports.

The report said the inaugural 'Nurburgring Award' trophy will go to the great German on Friday after he won at the fabled circuit a record five times.

As he is still recovering from his 2013 skiing fall, the award will be collected by the 48-year-old former Ferrari and Mercedes driver's manager, Sabine Kehm.

"Nobody deserves this award more than Michael," former Mercedes motor sport director Norbert Haug said.

"This award for his life's work will give him a lot of strength on his road to recovery," he added.

Not only that, Sebastian Vettel will star in a celebrity football game in Schumacher's honor in the days before the German grand prix in Hockenheim in July.

Kehm said: "For many years, Michael was the initiator and unifying figure in such benefit football games.

"We are happy that together with (German basketball player) Dirk (Nowitzki), we can offer a real highlight for the fans, because we want to thank them for their support," she added.

Finally, former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo sounds hopeful about Schumacher's recovery, with the British newspaper Daily Express saying the record winner of 91 grands prix is "reacting".

"I'm very pleased to know that he is reacting," said the Italian, without elaborating.

"I'm sure that thanks to his determination, which will be crucial, he will come out from this very, very difficult situation."

James Allison hails Ferrari progress. The question is did the others progress even more?
James Allison hails Ferrari progress. The question is did the others progress even more?

Allison hails Ferrari test progress
Ferrari Technical Director James Allison reckons the team made solid progress with the handling of the SF16-H during the post-Spanish Grand Prix test last week.

Ferrari finished second and third at Barcelona, after the Mercedes drivers collided on the first lap, but lacked speed to Red Bull in the tight and twisty final sector.

Allison says Ferrari worked to resolve this during the two-day test.

"We spent a couple of days in Barcelona after the Grand Prix through a whole range of technical set-ups and improvements to our car," Allison commented.

"It was a very successful test for us and happily we made some progresses, so we are looking forward to taking more lessons and applying them in Monaco."

Allison underlined the importance of a strong qualifying result in Monaco.

"It is a circuit, of course, where a good grid position is absolutely everything for getting a good race result," Allison added, as he discussed what is required at the venue.

"That good grid position comes from a whole weekend where you can't afford any mistakes. The track changes so much as the weekend progresses that you have to be on it all the time.

"This is a very high downforce circuit, the corners being so slow, the straights being so short, and the cars which have the most downforce available generally do well on this track."

Eric Boullier and his reserve driver Vandoorne
Eric Boullier and his reserve driver Vandoorne

Boullier: Monaco should suit McLaren
Eric Boullier is confident that Monaco will suit McLaren's Honda-powered MP4-31 "more than other circuits", as the partnership continues its push towards the front of the grid.

Honda has struggled for power unit reliability and performance since reuniting with McLaren last season, but engine power does not play such a crucial role in Monte-Carlo.

Boullier, echoing the sentiments of Fernando Alonso, hopes McLaren will be able to prove that it has a strong chassis, as Honda works on further improvements to its unit.

"Outright power certainly plays less of a role there, which means car set-up is a delicate trade-off between downforce, drivability and balance," said Boullier.

"Monaco is a track where, on paper, it should suit our package more than at other circuits.

"But one of its unique facets is its unpredictability.

"The weather conditions often change, accidents are frequent which tend to have bigger-than-usual impacts on a race outcome, and overtaking is notoriously difficult.

"That said, these elements are what make Monaco so special, and we will approach the weekend with a lot of valuable data gathered from the tests, and maximum effort and determination to keep pushing forward.

"The key objectives for us are reliability – especially given Fernando's retirement in Barcelona – and qualifying performance, as this can often dictate where points are scored or missed.

"We must look to qualifying to give us the best opportunity at the start of the race, and aim to finish in the points on both sides of the garage."

Wolff wants to crush Ferrari and Red Bull
Wolff wants to crush Ferrari and Red Bull

Wolff: Mercedes must 'hit back hard'
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that Mercedes must "hit back hard" at this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, following a double first-lap retirement in Spain last time out.

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg clashed as they fought for the lead through the first few corners at Barcelona, with Red Bull and Ferrari going on to fight for the win.

Wolff, who declared that all parties have since "moved on", is eager for a swift return to the top step of the podium as the paddock moves on to Monte-Carlo.

"Once again, we have seen our competitors make steps forward which have given us an even bigger battle on our hands," said Wolff, as he previewed the event.

"Red Bull came out on top [at the Spanish Grand Prix] in Barcelona after a close fight with Ferrari, so it's clear that we are under attack from more than one angle.

"We cannot afford to drop the ball, so we must remain united, remain strong and hit back hard."

Mercedes technical chief Paddy Lowe reckons Mercedes will need to be flawless from the outset to bounce back with a victory on the streets of Monaco.

"It's set to be an intense battle between ourselves, Ferrari and Red Bull, so we'll need a perfect weekend to come out on top," Lowe commented.

"Monaco is a unique circuit requiring unique characteristics from the car, so you can never approach this race with absolute confidence in the performance of your package.

"That confidence is something which may only grow through the weekend, as the team fine-tunes the car and the drivers dial themselves in to the track."

Can Rosberg resume his winning ways in Monaco?
Can Rosberg resume his winning ways in Monaco?

Mercedes drivers clear air after clash
Mercedes team-mates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton have held clear-the-air discussions following their dramatic first-lap clash at the Spanish Grand Prix, with it being declared "chapter closed".

Hamilton, who started from pole position, lost the lead to Rosberg on the run down to the first corner, but was able to fight back through Turn 3 when Rosberg dropped into an incorrect engine mode.

But as Rosberg moved back to the inside line in a bid to defend his position, Hamilton was forced onto the grass and spun around, which triggered a collision and sent both drivers out of the race.

Prior to the Monaco Grand Prix, Rosberg and Hamilton talked through the incident.

"I was gutted after what happened in Spain – for myself, but mostly for the team," said Rosberg.

"We're in this together and I know how hard everybody [at the team] works to make these amazing cars, so for us to leave them both in the gravel is the worst possible scenario.

"But we've talked it through and now it's time to leave it in the past."

Hamilton remains 43 points behind Rosberg in the championship standings, and has slipped to third in the championship standings, behind Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen.

"Barcelona was the worst feeling but, like I always say, the true test is how you get back up when you've been knocked down," the three-time World Champion added.

"It was a tough moment for all of us after the race but it's now chapter closed."

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff confirmed that all parties have moved on.

"The drivers know how we operate," Wolff commented.

"The team is responsible for giving them the best possible cars and they are responsible for getting the best out of them – and for bringing them home.

"When we let them down, we apologize, and the same goes the other way. It's a pretty normal culture – we deal with setbacks together and we move on."

Leave a Reply