Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Luca di Montezemolo made Ferrari into a loser the day he let Aldo Costa get away
    Luca di Montezemolo made Ferrari into a loser the day he let Aldo Costa get away

    Montezemolo expected bigger Ferrari step

  • Motor racing needs more minimum age rules – Wolff
  • Verstappen says he must stay grounded
  • Le Mans rules out French GP revival
  • Ricciardo: Spain defeat still 'hard to take'
  • Renault set to bring engine upgrade to Monaco
  • Video: Button's Monaco preview

Montezemolo expected bigger Ferrari step
(GMM) Luca di Montezemolo says he expected Ferrari to make a bigger step forward in 2016.

Towards the end of 2014, Ferrari's long-time president was stepped down and replaced by Sergio Marchionne, before the new regime got a lot of credit for the performance boost of 2015.

But the 68-year-old Italian insists: "I know what we made in 2014 to improve. The progress of last year was a product of the work the year before."

Ferrari has made yet another step forward for 2016, but Montezemolo says the level of that step has been a surprise.

"To be honest I expected a bigger step this year from last year with, after five races, not winning even one," he told The Australian newspaper. "But it is a long way to go."

In another interview, with CNN, Montezemolo also responded to those who play down Mercedes' current level of dominance on the basis that teams like Ferrari also dominated in the past.

"Ferrari was very strong (previously)," he said, "but Renault was very strong too. McLaren was strong. Williams was strong.

"Today, between Mercedes and Ferrari there is a gap, and between Ferrari and the other teams there is another gap," added Montezemolo. "So despite a fantastic job from Mercedes, there is now less potential competition."

Finally, amid rumors Ferrari may be in talks with Nico Rosberg, Montezemolo urged the Maranello marque to in fact sign up Australian Daniel Ricciardo.

"First of all he is a nice guy," he said. "He is very quick — Sebastian Vettel can tell you how quick he is. He is also half Italian!

"If I was still with Ferrari, he would be my first choice," Montezemolo added.

Motor racing needs more minimum age rules – Wolff
(GMM) Toto Wolff thinks the world of premier motor racing might need to revisit the issue of driver age, following an enormous crash at the weekend.

Li Zhi (Peter) Cong is currently in hospital with broken vertebrae, but he was otherwise lucky to survive an incredible rear-end smash into a rival who spun during the top European F3 series race at the Red Bull Ring.

The rival hit by Cong, American Ryan Tveter, collapsed after escaping from his wreckage but is basically unhurt.

Kleine Zeitung, an Austrian newspaper, called it "probably the most spectacular accident of the decade".

While neither Cong nor Tveter are teenagers, Formula 3 in the past year or so has been the scene of many spectacular and scary incidents.

"The pressure on these young lads is too high," Toto Wolff, Mercedes' F1 team boss, said.

"It cannot be a good thing when 16-year-olds are racing in Formula 3. I think a minimum age should be introduced — 18 years for F3 and twenty for formula one."

Following Max Verstappen's arrival in F1 last year as a 17-year-old, the governing FIA installed a minimum age of 18 for the pinnacle of motor racing.

Verstappen says he must stay grounded
(GMM) Max Verstappen is sure becoming F1's youngest ever winner will not go to his head.

Hot on the heels of entering the category as the world's first 17-year-old grand prix driver last year, the Dutch sensation broke through for victory in Barcelona — mere days after being promoted to Red Bull's top F1 team.

Verstappen has admitted he has spent the week since then trying to take it all in, including watching the replay of the race commentated in his native Dutch.

"The commentator was crying," he exclaimed to Algemeen Dagblad newspaper.

"I still get goose bumps when I see it," Verstappen added.

He said he is not the type to get "emotional very easily", but admitted he was holding back tears on the podium. "I did it," he smiled.

Verstappen also admitted it has been impossible to ignore all the hype triggered by his Spanish grand prix triumph.

"Today it's all a bit crazy," he said, "but it's very important not to lose touch of the ground. My father and my manager help me with that."

Verstappen is now moving on to the Monaco grand prix, where last year he shone for Toro Rosso until a huge rear-end smash sent him into the barriers.

"That won't happen again," he insists. "I've learned my lesson."

Instead, he is targeting his next podium, acknowledging that although Red Bull is expecting to shine on the Principality's streets, "I was a bit lucky" in Spain.

"I feel really at home around Monaco," Verstappen is quoted by the Daily Star. "I love street circuits. Sure, it is difficult to overtake here as I found out last year when I tried and hit the wall.

"But that won't put me off trying my best for another win or at least a place on the podium."

Le Mans rules out French GP revival
(GMM) Le Mans has ruled itself out of the running to revive the French grand prix.

Pierre Fillon is the president of the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), the organizer of the fabled 24 hour endurance race at the Le Mans circuit.

He told Le Maine Libre newspaper that FIA president Jean Todt had been in touch to ask if Le Mans would consider reviving the French grand prix, absent from the calendar since Magny Cours last hosted it in 2008.

"I think it would not bring us anything. We would need to invest 17 or 18 million euros, financing it exclusively via the ticket booths," Fillon said.

"At best, we would be breaking even," he added.

Fillon was also asked about the possibility of new manufacturers entering Le Mans, and answered: "Ferrari will remain in F1 until they become world champions.

"I would find it an excellent idea if Fiat positioned Alfa Romeo in endurance racing," he added.

Ricciardo: Spain defeat still 'hard to take'
Daniel Ricciardo has admitted not winning the Spanish Grand Prix is still "hard to take", as he missed out on claiming his first victory since mid-2014.

Ricciardo led the opening stages of the race following the collision which eliminated both Mercedes drivers, but dropped to fourth as Red Bull adopted a three-stop strategy.

Ricciardo ultimately classified in fourth, despite a puncture, as teammate Max Verstappen two-stopped en-route to his maiden Grand Prix win.

"Part of me is happy the team is winning again, and everyone is super motivated and confidence is high," he said in an interview with Red Bull.

"That's a positive I'm trying to draw myself to, but from a personal side it was massively frustrating.

"It's a tough one, it's a team sport but you are doing it for yourself as well, it's as individual as it is team, that balance is a tricky one to always try and manage but from a personal side it's still a hard one to take."

Ricciardo was nonetheless encouraged by Red Bull's performance across the opening five rounds.

"I think the season has been better than expected," he said.

"I've had four fourths from five races, the first two fourths were really good, since then those fourths should have been better.

"I don't feel we've got the most points we could have but in terms of competitiveness we're better than we thought."

Renault set to bring engine upgrade to Monaco
Renault is set to bring its B-spec power unit to next weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, following positive feedback during the in-season test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Renault initially intended to trial the upgrade last week and then introduce the B-spec power unit at next month's Canadian Grand Prix.

However, the manufacturer is now attempting to ready the revised units for the upcoming event around the streets of the Principality.

"The tests were very positive and showed it to be more powerful and drivable," said engine chief Remi Taffin.

"We had originally planned to use the new version in Canada when the current units are scheduled to be removed from the cycle.

"But if we can get the units together and completely validated by Monaco we will use the ones available at this race."

Taffin has suggested that the upgrades could boost Renault, and clients Red Bull, by half a second per lap.

"The power unit we have used since the first race in Australia was really a continuation of the work started in the 'Spec D' power unit we introduced at the tail end of 2015," he explained.

"We explored some concepts in that earlier iteration and the 2016 unit took them further, for example in the turbo.

"This new spec goes even further down the line and also includes significant modifications to the combustion system.

"It will make the ICE [Internal Combustion Engine] more powerful but also efficient, leading to a gain of around half a second per lap. We've used a small proportion of our token allocation for this upgrade."

Video: Button's Monaco preview
Speaking ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix, McLaren-Honda’s Jenson Button shares his thoughts on the famous Monte Carlo circuit – a track steeped in history, at which Button is yet to record a career win. Meanwhile, Button’s race engineer Tom Stallard provides an insight into the technical challenges that arise from racing on the unique street track.

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