Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Rosberg has six wins in a row
    Rosberg has six wins in a row. The only driver that can stop him is his Mercedes teammate. The other cars are too inferior.

    Rosberg knows winning streak must end

  • Now India revokes Mallya's passport
  • Mick Schu's F1 road harder than Max's – Jos
  • F1 must reconsider 'power to grip' ratio – Berger
  • Private teams cannot win in 'new' F1 – Alonso
  • Susie Wolff defends Ecclestone amid sexism charge
  • Haas would release Grosjean to 'top team'
  • Briatore happy to help Monza keep F1
  • Vettel 'knows me better now' – Kvyat
  • Magnussen targets Palmer in bid for 2017 seat
  • Renault's Canada upgrade on track – Abiteboul
  • Bottas admits to eyeing Mercedes seat
  • Steiner suggests extra test for new teams
  • Honda moving focus away from ERS

Rosberg knows winning streak must end
(GMM) Nico Rosberg is heading into this weekend's Russian grand prix knowing that his winning streak cannot last forever.

"I'm just trying to soak up and enjoy every moment," said the Mercedes driver, who has won the last six grands prix on the trot and is leading the 2016 world championship by 36 points.

"I've never had so much fun racing in my career," he told Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

1982 world champion Keke Rosberg – Nico's father – also acknowledges the 30-year-old's extraordinary run.

"It's going really smoothly for Nico," the former Williams and McLaren driver told Auto Bild.

"In the last six months alone, he has won more than I did in my whole formula one career," the low-profile Finn, 67, added.

But Nico warned that the winning streak cannot last forever.

"Put it this way," said the German. "I'm certainly not looking forward to it, but I know that the day will come, because nothing is forever.

"What is important is that I am happy — the car is great and at home I have a great wife and a healthy child, and for that I feel great gratitude," Rosberg added.

He admitted, however, that he is less happy with the overall situation in F1, with political turmoil holding up much-needed reforms for the good of the sport.

"The way the system is at the moment cannot go on," said Nico.

He stands firmly with the GPDA, referring to the fact that Bernie Ecclestone recently called outspoken figures in the F1 drivers' union "windbags".

"If we are called windbags, it means at least that someone is listening," said Rosberg.

"Of course this is not a compliment, but before we were not even asked for our opinion."

Indian authorities limit Mallya's travels
Indian authorities limit Mallya's travels

Now India revokes Mallya's passport
(GMM) Vijay Mallya will not be coming to any grands prix in the foreseeable future.

The Indian government has now revoked the Force India boss and co-owner's passport.

Mallya's passport had already been temporarily suspended amid his legal troubles following the collapse of his airline.

And a source told the Hindustan Times newspaper that the now permanently revoked passport and a non-bailable arrest warrant are good grounds to ask the British government to deport the 60-year-old former billionaire.

"But India will still need evidential support and present a strong case in the UK court," the newspaper added.

Jos Verstappen says "I don't think Mick Schumacher is as good as Michael Schumacher"
Jos Verstappen says "I don't think Mick Schumacher is as good as Michael Schumacher"

Mick Schu's F1 road harder than Max's – Jos
(GMM) Mick Schumacher may not experience as smooth a journey towards formula one as did F1 teen sensation Max Verstappen.

That is the view of Max's father Jos, who was the F1 legend Michael Schumacher's teammate at Benetton back in the mid-90s.

Verstappen's 18-year-old son, however, made it to formula one before Mick, who is a year younger than the young German who now races in Formula 4.

Jos told Auto Bild that he is sure Max is a better driver than him.

"I am 100 per cent convinced that Max is better than me," he said. "He has everything under control.

"He was better prepared than I was," Verstappen snr added.

"I came into formula one and I didn't know anything — I had to find out everything for myself."

Now, the world's media is predicting a similar rise at some time in the future for Mick.

The big difference, however, is that Mick's famous father Michael is still recovering from his 2013 skiing crash.

"Mick misses his father of course, as he has a lot of experience. Now Peter Kaiser is supporting him," said Jos.

"I think Mick is someone who needs more time to achieve good results. I have watched him a little and I think he can drive. But he must be given the time he needs.

"Having the name Schumacher is different to being a Verstappen. I don't think he's as good as Michael, and then it is more difficult still," Jos added.

Berger is clueless - he wants the power to grip ratio to be like the old days yet he does not want to slash downforce. That means F1 engines need to make 2000 HP. Clueless.
Berger is clueless – he wants the power to grip ratio to be like the old days yet he does not want to slash downforce. That means F1 engines need to make 2000 HP. Clueless.

F1 must reconsider 'power to grip' ratio – Berger
(GMM) F1 needs to turn a revolutionary corner in order to revive the spectacle of the past.

That is the view of Gerhard Berger, speaking just a few days before F1's end-of-April deadline for agreeing a set of different technical rules for 2017.

The latest rumors are that, in addition to wider tires and more downforce, the sport might slightly relax its fuel usage limits but Berger, an F1 legend, warns that it all might not be enough.

"It's all just fine-tuning," said the former Ferrari and McLaren driver.

"Look at MotoGP with 270 horse power on two very narrow tires — the difference between power and grip is huge," Berger told motorsport-magazin.com.

"Another example is the 80s, when we (F1) had 1400hp and probably half the downforce of today — these were things that you really had to master."

But that doesn't mean Berger thinks F1, whose turbo V6 engines are now approaching 1000hp, should simply reverse its 2017 blueprint and slash downforce.

"No, that would be totally wrong," he said. "I would change the ratio.

"If you calculate the average downforce we had at that time and then look at how much power we had, it may well be that (now) we need 2000hp. I think it's the (power to grip) ratio that has to change," Berger added.

Alonso says what we all know, F1 is an exercise in engineering and money and not driver skill
Alonso says what we all know, F1 is an exercise in engineering and money and not driver skill

Private teams cannot win in 'new' F1 – Alonso
(GMM) Fernando Alonso is sure he is in the right place with one of the four car manufacturers in formula one.

At the end of 2014, the Spaniard switched from Ferrari to the new McLaren-Honda project, insisting that he could not face more years of finishing second.

"In 2014 I could not fight for the podium as they (Ferrari) are doing now," Alonso told the Spanish sports newspaper AS, "but in my five years with Ferrari I often arrived at the last race leading the championship so I really do not see the improvement.

"They are in good shape and are contenders for the championship, which is great, but we were not the contenders, we were leading the championship at the last race," the 34-year-old insisted.

When asked about his replacement – Sebastian Vettel – at Ferrari, Alonso suggested he has no hard feelings and said both of them are in good places for the future.

"He is in a good place, younger and motivated and the car is close to the best," Alonso said of Vettel.

"I think the trend now with the new formula one is that Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda will win the championships because the private teams can not.

"With such an important engine (formula), only the parent team can win. So if Renault and McLaren-Honda improve sufficiently they will have the opportunity to win because the private teams are out of the competition," he added.

All Ecclestone wants is for woman to race in a 'woman's' league. Every other sport in this world has a 'woman's league. Maybe racing isn't a sport.
All Ecclestone wants is for woman to race in a 'woman's' league. Every other sport in this world has a 'woman's league. Maybe racing isn't a sport.

Susie Wolff defends Ecclestone amid sexism charge
(GMM) Susie Wolff, F1's most successful female driver of recent times, has defended Bernie Ecclestone amid accusations of sexism.

F1 supremo Ecclestone, 85, caused an international media furor last week when he said: "I don't know whether a woman would physically be able to drive an F1 car quickly, and they wouldn't be taken seriously."

Counting herself out of the backlash, however, was Susie Wolff, who stepped down as Williams' test and occasional Friday driver at the end of last year in order to start a campaign to get more women involved in motor racing.

"After hearing Bernie's comments in context and speaking to him today, it's clear we both have the goal of getting a female driver to F1," Wolff said on Twitter.

Indeed, Ecclestone had also said last week that he is willing to personally support a female team and driver in F1.

"I would say 'Great'," he said. "And I tell you what I would do: I would put in another 20 million (pounds)."

Wolff continued: "Through my years in motor sport, he was supportive of my mission to make it onto the starting grid in F1.

"Last week, he agreed to come on board with (the campaign) Dare To Be Different and support the next generation of girls aiming for the top, on and off the track.

"For me," Susie added, "actions always speak louder than words."

Grosjean free to leave Haas for Ferrari
Grosjean free to leave Haas for Ferrari

Haas would release Grosjean to 'top team'
(GMM) Gene Haas says he will not force Romain Grosjean to stay at the new American outfit if a "top team" wants to sign him.

A tough weekend in China aside, Frenchman Grosjean has been impressive for the Ferrari-linked outfit so far, amid his obvious desire to one day switch to the works team.

Ferrari has a potential vacancy for 2017 and team founder Haas said: "I would never hold on to a reluctant driver.

"Romain is happy now, but if one of the two top teams offered him a contract and was ready to pay the termination clause, it would be silly not to accept it," the Californian is quoted by Tuttosport.

"Romain is a good guy and if he gets the chance to fight for the title it would not be fair if he was not able to try," Haas added.

Flavio Briatore with Ecclestone
Flavio Briatore with Ecclestone

Briatore happy to help Monza keep F1
(GMM) Uncertainty over the future of the fabled Italian grand prix at Monza continues, despite a key meeting that took place late last week.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and his long-time confidante Flavio Briatore met at the Lombardy headquarters with president Roberto Maroni and his deputy Fabrizio Sala.

"If Bernie takes his private jet to Milan, it means an agreement must be within Monza's reach," predicted the local Il Giornale newspaper.

Indeed, Briatore – the former Renault boss and a long-time friend and business partner of Ecclestone's – agreed that "progress" was made at the meeting.

"If I can help then I do it willingly," the Italian is quoted by Corriere della Sera newspaper.

Reports suggest Lombardy is pledging some EUR 70 million over ten years.

President Maroni's deputy Sala said: "It (the meeting) went well, but we could not sign because it is not us that have to do that."

It is the circuit operator Sias and the Italian automobile club Aci who will sign the deal, but Aci's Angelo Sticchi Damiani said: "I am very pleased that the region wants to give a more consistent contribution, because it lightens the load."

Daniil Kvyat
Daniil Kvyat

Vettel 'knows me better now' – Kvyat
(GMM) Daniil Kvyat is heading to his home race in Russia confident that Sebastian Vettel now knows him better.

Vettel, the four-time world champion, took on his younger rival in a verbal argument after the Chinese grand prix, following an incident that resulted in the German making contact with his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

Kvyat held his own in the argument, and now tells Russia's Sportbox: "When you fight with a driver for the first or second time, usually you begin to know him better.

"Vettel and I got to know each other better in China," said the 21-year-old.

"We had a great race, I got on the podium and we realized that we can compete with Ferrari."

Kvyat said it will be an enjoyable and yet busy home race at Sochi this weekend, with the event having been moved from October last year to May in 2016.

"The fact the race in Sochi has moved from autumn to spring and that the weather will be moderate is good," said Vitaly Petrov, who was F1's first Russian driver.

"If there is rain? It means we could see a variety of tactics, and the chance that Red Bull and Kvyat could win will be higher than on a dry track," he added.

Kevin Magnussen
Kevin Magnussen

Magnussen targets Palmer in bid for 2017 seat
(GMM) Kevin Magnussen says he wants to keep beating his teammate as he bids to stay at Renault for a second year in 2017.

Although the newly-reacquired Enstone team struggled for pace in China, Magnussen impressed relative to his rookie teammate Jolyon Palmer and he says staying in front of the Briton is his goal.

"It's no secret that you have to be better than your teammate," Magnussen, who was signed by Renault after being dropped by McLaren, told Ekstra Bladet newspaper.

"It's crucial for the team because it is clear that if a new driver comes, they will only keep the best one," he added. "But I also want to be the best driver on the grid."

Magnussen suggested he is thriving in his new environment at Renault, after his father Jan revealed the 23-year-old struggled to find his place at McLaren.

"I'm in a team now where the commercial side means less," Kevin confirmed. "It's one of the things I really like about it. It's a team that is here for the sporting side.

"For Renault it is about the brand, so on the driver side the commercial aspect does not play such a role as it did at McLaren. At McLaren it is the drivers that pull the load but here it is the brand," he added.

So far, Renault seems happy with Magnussen and Cyril Abiteboul has now said on more than one occasion that a contract extension for 2017 is possible.

"He has to continue in the same way," said the French official, "but we are really happy with how things are going.

"If he continues the momentum we have seen so far, we will be delighted to create a long-time future together," Abiteboul added.

"Right now we have a contract for one year, but why not longer? He brings us a lot.

"If we are honest, he has a year more experience than Jolyon, so coming from McLaren, Kevin's experience is a huge thing," he said.

Cyril Abiteboul
Cyril Abiteboul

Renault's Canada upgrade on track – Abiteboul
(GMM) Renault is on track to unveil a significant upgrade for its 'power unit' in Canada.

The French marque's F1 official Cyril Abiteboul has already said the step could see Renault halve the current performance deficit to F1 engine leader Mercedes.

As well as the struggling works team, customer Red Bull is also looking forward to the upgrade.

"We had a great race in China with the podium," Daniil Kvyat told Russia's Sportbox, "and realized that we can compete with Ferrari.

"During the season, we can make a step forward and improve the results even more," he added.

Abiteboul has now told Denmark's Ekstra Bladet newspaper that the Canada upgrade is on schedule.

"As we speak right now, it is on the dyno on France," he revealed.

"It will run as many kilometers as possible so that we can achieve our goal, which is Montreal," Abiteboul, referring to June's Canadian grand prix, added.

He said the upgrade should help Renault's Enstone based works team to improve, after a particularly difficult weekend in China.

"We are new in formula one and have not set specific targets," said the Frenchman, "but I would like to see us fight with McLaren and Haas."

In China, Renault – along with Sauber and Manor – was little more than a backmarker.

"We cannot resolve everything now, but we have improvements on the way for both the car and the engine," Abiteboul said. "We will fight for points.

"Honestly it will not be podiums but points in every race."

Valtteri Bottas eyes Mercedes
Valtteri Bottas eyes Mercedes

Bottas admits to eyeing Mercedes seat
(GMM) Valtteri Bottas has admitted he would not say no if a seat opened up for him at the works Mercedes team.

The Finn has driven throughout his four-season F1 career for Williams, but last year he was strongly linked with a potential move to Ferrari.

Now, the 26-year-old could once again play a role in the 2017 'silly season', with Nico Rosberg's plum seat at Mercedes also up for renewal.

Asked whether Mercedes or Ferrari is fastest so far this year, Bottas told the Finnish broadcaster MTV: "In my opinion Mercedes are faster at the moment."

Asked if he would like to go there, Bottas – who is managed by the Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff – admitted: "Well, who wouldn't want to? At the moment that's the fastest car."

Bottas' first goal, however, must be to at least out-perform his current Williams teammate Felipe Massa, who so far in 2016 has scored 22 points versus Bottas' 7.

"I have to prove that I deserve top spot in the team," he acknowledged.

"In the first three races I didn't do that, but I'm not worried about anything. There is still a long season and plenty of time to shine and show my skills."

There are those, however, who think Bottas is in fact not among the very elite top drivers in F1, but Bottas answered back: "If you don't believe in yourself, then who else will?"

Guenther Steiner
Guenther Steiner

Steiner suggests extra test for new teams
Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner reckons new Formula 1 squads should receive an extra handful of test days, compared to existing rivals, in order to be better prepared for their debut campaigns.

Haas is the first new team in Formula 1 since 2010 and collected 18 points across the opening two rounds before enduring a difficult time in China, with Esteban Gutiérrez in 14th and Romain Grosjean 19th.

Steiner reckons that additional time pre-season, compared to experienced outfits, would be of benefit to teams finding their way in the sport.

"As a new team, I would want an opportunity to test a few more days than the other teams," he said.

"Give the new teams a freebie with three or more days of testing to get to know the car better, to get the team working better together so you can avoid the small mistakes you make early on that sometimes have big consequences.

"It's wishful thinking, but knowing what I know now would have helped avoid the problems we had in China."

Steiner also confirmed that Haas will not participate in Pirelli's 2017 tire tests.

"Unfortunately, we don't have a 2015 car," he said, referring to the regulation prohibiting the use of current models.

"All we have is a 2016 car, so we cannot do it. But it wouldn't be something we would jump on because we'd rather concentrate on what we have now. We still have a lot to learn with this car."

Honda moving focus away from ERS
Honda is encouraged by the progress it has made with its energy recovery system (ERS) but feels it needs to focus on other areas of its power unit.

The ERS was an area of major weakness for Honda in 2015, with the Japanese manufacturer enduring an uncompetitive return to F1 with McLaren last season. Having worked on both performance and reliability over the winter, Honda's head of F1 project Yusuke Hasegawa is pleased with the steps forward but not with the power unit's overall competitiveness.

"The ERS is much better than last year but we understand the internal combustion engine still we need to catch up the other teams," Hasegawa said. "We are not satisfied with the situation but we are happy to show improvement."

And Hasegawa is confident Honda will be able to continue making clear improvements throughout the season.

"It is too soon to say the exact number or position but obviously we’re not happy, we’re not satisfied with the current position. We can improve definitely with a decent level of step-ups so we are happy about that.

"Of course it is coming from the chassis as well but we can contribute with the power unit. It is important to show that we can improve in the step-ups. This is our target so far."

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