Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Vettel should be happy Williams not faster or Ferrari would only be 4th fastest car on the grid
    Vettel should be happy Williams not faster or Ferrari would only be 4th fastest car on the grid

    Vettel expected stronger Williams in 2016

  • Renault doesn't need 'big name' driver – Vasseur
  • Mercedes dominance 'part of F1' – Todt
  • Kvyat: Barcelona test day 'essential'
  • Wehrlein feels he is ready for Mercedes
  • Magnussen wants new engine in Monaco
  • Video: Williams motorhome tour

Vettel expected stronger Williams in 2016
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel says he expected Williams to be putting up a tougher fight in 2016.

The Grove based team finished third overall in the past two world championships — behind Ferrari last year, and Red Bull in 2014.

But both of those teams are ahead of Williams so far in 2016, causing Ferrari's Vettel to muse to UOL Esporte: "Maybe the surprise is that Williams is a bit behind so far.

"Perhaps this was the biggest surprise," he added.

Less surprised, however, is Brazilian Massa.

"We cannot forget that we are fighting against teams with more potential than us," he said, referring to the much bigger budgets wielded by Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.

"We are trying to improve the car but I think they (Williams' rivals) always had a better car than us. The difference is their engines are improved now.

"So we know it's not so easy to develop against teams as strong as Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. Even with McLaren it's not so easy, but we are in the fight," Massa added.

Williams had heads turning at the Barcelona test last week when the car ran with a novel, ultra-wide rear wing, which if fielded at an actual race weekend would be deemed illegal.

Massa confirmed that the team has been working on "future developments".

"And I hope they are not for the very distant future," he is quoted by Globo. "I hope we can understand important things to make our car faster."

Frederic Vasseur prefers ride-buyers who bring a big check to the team vs. a big-name driver that demands a big salary
Frederic Vasseur prefers ride-buyers who bring a big check to the team vs. a big-name driver that demands a big salary

Renault doesn't need 'big name' driver – Vasseur
(GMM) Renault is open-minded about the composition of the driver lineup for its new works team beyond 2016, according to boss Frederic Vasseur.

Having inherited Jolyon Palmer's contract from Lotus and then signing up Kevin Magnussen at the eleventh hour, speculation about the next Renault lineup has swirled in the F1 paddock so far this year.

But Renault has also backed Palmer and particularly Dane Magnussen, even though youngsters Sergey Sirotkin, Esteban Ocon and Nicholas Latifi are all being given chances to shine on Friday mornings.

The French marque's former double world champion Fernando Alonso has been linked with Renault again, but Vasseur played down the likelihood of a 'big name' signing.

"The idea is that at some point my boss will ask me to deliver," he smiled to Denmark's Ekstra Bladet newspaper.

"And he does not care what the drivers' names are.

"If you put a big name in the car, it works for you for a week but in the end it's all about results. So you either put the best in your car or someone who could improve to become the best," Vasseur added.

"If you look at it, we are only putting young drivers in the car. For us the most important thing is to find the world champion of 2020 or 2021, not 2006.

"I can't remember who won in 2005 or 2006. Or 2007," Vasseur laughed, referring not only to Alonso but also Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

So he suggested that Renault's involvement in the 2017 'silly season' will be a low-profile one.

"First, we must be able to give our drivers a proper car," said Vasseur.

Todt (R) knows all about domination - When he ran the Ferrari team Aldo Costa designed his cars and no one could beat them
Todt (R) knows all about domination – When he ran the Ferrari team Aldo Costa designed his cars and no one could beat them. Ditto today with Mercedes.

Mercedes dominance 'part of F1' – Todt
(GMM) Jean Todt has played down the need to stop Mercedes' dominance of F1, arguing that it has always been a feature of the sport.

While the FIA has agreed with future measures like engine performance 'convergence', F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone appears determined to stop the German marque's now two and a half year run of almost constant winning.

"I want to change things. I want to stop Mercedes dominating," Ecclestone told Britain's Sky in Barcelona last weekend.

But FIA president Todt said it is strange to hear the voices of those suggesting Mercedes' dominance is unprecedented.

"I always wonder if people have selective memory," the Frenchman told Finland's MTV Sport.

"Dominance in motor sport, or even in sport is general, is just a part of it," Todt added.

"50 years ago it was Lotus and Jim Clark and Colin Chapman, then there was Williams' domination, McLaren's domination, Ferrari's domination, Red Bull's domination and now it's Mercedes' domination," he said.

"Instead of talking only about one team's domination, we should be encouraging all of the others to make every effort in order to catch up with them and beat them," added Todt.

Ferrari has been steadily closing the gap to Mercedes since 2015 and Red Bull broke through for its first win of the season last time out in Spain.

Mercedes parent Daimler's chairman Dieter Zetsche said he welcomes the competition.

"Absolutely," he told Britain's Channel 4. "I like it when it's getting tight. As I said before the season, I would like to win the championship in the last race by 1 point."

Wehrlein wants to drive for Mercedes
Wehrlein wants to drive for Mercedes. Who wouldn't – it's the best car

Wehrlein feels he is ready for Mercedes
Pascal Wehrlein feels that he would be ready to step up to Mercedes following a surprise test outing for the German team at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Wednesday.

Wehrlein, backed by Mercedes and currently racing for Manor, racked up over two race distances after being drafted in at the last moment to complete the team's program.

Asked about a potential promotion, Wehrlein said: "Yes, I would be ready."

Wehrlein insists, however, that he is focused on performing at Manor.

"I'm pushing as hard as I can – that I can't win a race this year is clear," he said.

"You never know what happens in the future. At the moment, I just focus on my job. I want to learn as much as possible and get the best results out of the car. Other decisions? I'm the wrong person."

Esteban Ocon, acting as Renault's reserve driver after being loaned out by Mercedes, was expected to test the F1 W07 Hybrid on Wednesday before Wehrlein got called up.

"I don't really know [the reasons why]," Wehrlein commented.

"I think [on Tuesday] they couldn't finish the test program and they wanted an experienced driver, so I got the call, went back to the track, did the seat fit and drove [on Wednesday].

"It was very, very good. We did many laps, more than 130 laps, so I'm really happy. We could finish the test program and it was a good time in the car. I really enjoyed it."

Kvyat demoted to Toro Rosso
Kvyat demoted to Toro Rosso

Kvyat: Barcelona test day 'essential'
Daniil Kvyat says his extra day of running at the post-Spanish Grand Prix test was "essential" to help him get to grips with Toro Rosso's package, after being dropped by Red Bull.

Kvyat, who lost his position at the senior team to Max Verstappen, qualified 13th and finished 10th in last weekend's race, significantly behind team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr.

Kvyat got some more time in the STR11 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Wednesday, racking up 116 laps – just under two races distances – en route to the sixth fastest time.

"I think it was a very productive and good day," said Kvyat.

"We completed a big amount of laps, all of which are useful for both myself and the team.

"We will analyze all the data we've gathered and we will already be able to use this valuable information in the next events, starting with Monaco – Barcelona is a very good track to test at.

"All in all, it was quite an important day for myself, as being able to get time in the STR11 was essential, and I now feel much more confident and ready for Monaco."

Kevin Magnussen
Kevin Magnussen

Magnussen wants new engine in Monaco
Kevin Magnussen has made clear that he would like Renault to introduce its upgraded power unit at the Monaco Grand Prix, but admits the decision is out of his hands.

Renault debuted its new unit on the first day of in-season testing in Barcelona, with reserve Esteban Ocon and Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo both speaking of a step forward.

Magnussen got his first taste of the engine changes on Wednesday and, speaking during the lunch break, expressed his view that Renault has made all-round gains.

Asked if he wants Renault to bring forward the introduction of the engine from Canada to Monaco, the Dane said: "Yeah, definitely. I'd like to have it, but I'm not deciding it."

Of the progress, he added: "The engine feels nice to drive. Drivability is better and there is more power, even though it's difficult to feel how fast you are going on the straight.

"If you are going 330km/h or 333 km/h, it's difficult to feel, but it will be on the data.

"This power unit is better than the old one and we haven't had much time to work on it; straight out of the box it was better drivability, and hopefully the power is a good step as well."

Renault sits ninth in the standings, on six points, after the first five races.

Video: Williams motorhome tour
Williams driver Felipe Massa takes you on a tour of the Williams motorhome, used at European races.

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