Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • The McLaren name does not guarantee success
    The McLaren name does not guarantee success

    McLaren name 'no guarantee of success' – Coulthard

  • Demanding Marchionne to take another Ferrari role
  • Mick Schumacher not thinking of F1 yet – manager
  • Watson backs Villeneuve over GPDA letter
  • Button gets new engine for Chinese GP
  • Boullier: McLaren must not squander opportunities
  • Nasr hopes Sauber has solved car issues
  • Video: A lap around Shanghai
  • Haas F1 already looking to ramp up 2017 recruitment

McLaren name 'no guarantee of success' – Coulthard
(GMM) Stoffel Vandoorne is "on standby" should FIA doctors once again sideline Fernando Alonso in China, McLaren-Honda has confirmed.

Belgian Vandoorne, in fact, traveled to Shanghai this week with team boss Eric Boullier, who said: "Once again, Stoffel will be on standby until Fernando has his routine meeting with FIA doctors on Thursday, and until then we will be readying ourselves as normal."

Alonso sat out the Bahrain grand prix recently with chest injuries, but traveled to China early this week in a bid to be cleared fit to return.

He said on Tuesday: "While I hope I'll be back in the cockpit on Friday, until I get the all-clear from the doctors to race – whenever that may be – we cannot assume anything, but I'm continuing to prepare for the race weekend as normal."

Teammate Jenson Button, meanwhile, will have the second of his five engines for the 2016 season fitted to his car in China, following his failure in Bahrain.

But Vandoorne also went on to score a point, moving Honda chief Yusuke Hasegawa to remark: "We have surely come a long way since last year. We still need a bit more overall package performance to tackle the long, one-kilometer straight in Shanghai, but it's reassuring to know that we're heading in the right direction."

Former team driver David Coulthard said it is important for McLaren to eventually get back to winning races.

"They do need to," he is quoted by Brazil's Globo. "That is the basis upon which big teams are built — the success of the McLaren brand is linked directly to success on the track.

"I do not have a crystal ball, but the name above the garage is not a guarantee of success," Coulthard added.

Sergio Marchionne
Sergio Marchionne

Demanding Marchionne to take another Ferrari role
(GMM) Sergio Marchionne looks set to add yet another executive role to his plate.

Bloomberg, the business news agency, said the Fiat Chrysler and Ferrari president will soon also take over as Ferrari's CEO, as Amedeo Felisa is tipped to retire.

Ferrari declined to comment, but the news follows the Maranello marque having lost almost a third of its value since being floated on the New York stock exchange last October.

Bloomberg said Felisa, 69, was one of the "closest aides for more than 20 years" of former president Luca di Montezemolo, who was ousted by Marchionne prior to the floatation.

If confirmed, Marchionne will add his new role as Ferrari CEO to his other titles, including chairman roles at companies CNH and SGS, vice-chairman of the Agnelli family investment company Exor and a director of Philip Morris.

The 63-year-old Italian-Canadian is famously demanding, sleeping only three or four hours a night and setting Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene the goal of immediately winning races in 2016.

So when asked if he has already let Marchionne down, Arrivabene told Germany's Welt am Sonntag newspaper: "You need to understand and interpret such statements correctly.

"Marchionne said he wants a Ferrari to be first on the grid and win in Melbourne, but I think we were very close to Mercedes and the victory," he said.

"On the other hand it's perfectly normal that big companies like Ferrari set high targets. For me it is therefore understandable that the bar is as high as possible."

Mick Schumacher won a couple of F4 races against weak competition and already the F1 media is fawning all over him
Mick Schumacher won a couple of F4 races against weak competition and already the F1 media is fawning all over him

Mick Schumacher not thinking of F1 yet – manager
(GMM) Mick Schumacher's manager has played down any talk the 17-year-old might soon be ready for formula one.

Mick, the son of the F1 legend and seven time world champion Michael, kicked off a busy schedule in Formula 4 this year with two wins last weekend.

The German made his single-seater debut last year but Sabine Kehm, who doubles as Michael and Mick's manager, opted against pushing the youngster into F3 this year.

"He is now a year older, has more experience, is focused and has become stronger mentally," she is quoted by the German newsmagazine Focus.

"Therefore, we believe it is a good thing for him to do another year of Formula 4."

Last year, Max Verstappen famously made his F1 debut as a 17-year-old, stepping straight out of European F3 – surely Schumacher's next move – to grand prix stardom.

But Kehm said of Mick Schumacher: "Formula one is, of course, somewhere far away, for all of these (Formula 4) guys. It is not an issue that plays a role in our everyday work and thinking.

"It is still too far away for that," she insisted.

Jacques Villeneuve has a lot to say about everything
Jacques Villeneuve has a lot to say about everything

Watson backs Villeneuve over GPDA letter
(GMM) Former F1 winner John Watson has backed Jacques Villeneuve in slamming the sport's current drivers.

Although signed by the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA), it emerged in Bahrain recently that a letter critical of the management and governance of formula one was actually supported by the entire grid of active race drivers.

Villeneuve, the outspoken 1997 world champion, reacted to the letter this week by telling the drivers to "shut up".

"I think he was being very polite," Watson, a former McLaren driver, told the British broadcaster Sky when asked about Villeneuve's comments.

When asked his own opinion about the GPDA letter, the 69-year-old Irishman added: "They're stating the obvious. What Jacques has said is basically right.

"I just want drivers to do what they're good at doing, and leave the other bits of formula one to the people who manage it very well."

Watson said it would be legitimate for the drivers to try to campaign behind the scenes for more involvement, such as a place on the FIA's World Council.

"But constructing a letter like that, posting it (on Twitter), sending it to Bernie … it was a joke," he added.

Jenson Button gets new engine
Jenson Button gets new engine

Button gets new engine for Chinese GP
McLaren-Honda driver Jenson Button will take on a new engine for this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix, after his stoppage in the early stages of the previous Bahrain round.

Button ground to a halt with a loss of power after just six laps at Sakhir, with Honda since confirming that it was linked to an issue on the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE).

"There was a mechanical issue on Jenson's ICE which we will replace for the upcoming race weekend," said Honda Formula 1 boss Yusuke Hasegawa, who joined the team during the pre-season.

"The situation has been thoroughly investigated, and will be rectified in all future engines to be used."

Although encouraged by winter gains, Button says more still needs to be done on the reliability front.

"As always, we need to work hard on our reliability," the 2009 World Champion commented.

"We've definitely seen an improvement in that area, but anything less than 100 per cent is never enough, and it's important we take advantage of our progress to bring home the points we deserve."

Eric Boullier
Eric Boullier

Boullier: McLaren must not squander opportunities
McLaren must not waste further opportunities to score championship points after a reliability issue robbed Jenson Button of a potential top 10 finish in Bahrain, according to Racing Director Eric Boullier.

While debutant Stoffel Vandoorne collected 10th position for McLaren at Sakhir, Button was forced to pull out of action early on due to an engine issue, with the Briton believing he was on course for a haul of points.

Reliability was at a premium for McLaren at the start of its reunion with Honda last year but matters improved across the course of 2015, with only three non-finishes across the second half of the campaign.

With performance having improved in 2016, Boullier stresses that McLaren cannot afford to slip back on reliability.

"While we definitely saw a reassuring improvement in our performance in Bahrain, we cannot take anything for granted," said Boullier.

"It's imperative that we don't waste opportunities to score valuable points due to lack of reliability, as we saw at the last race.

"At the very least, we must learn from every situation, and in the case of Jenson's power unit issue, we've done so, so we go to China with continued optimism that we can try to maximize the potential of our package."

Boullier added that McLaren is preparing for the upcoming event as normal, and hopes that Fernando Alonso will be fit to make a return, having sat out the Bahrain weekend.

"Once again, Stoffel will be on standby until Fernando has his routine meeting with FIA doctors on Thursday, and until then we will be readying ourselves as normal," he explained.

"Fernando has been recuperating at home and training as usual, and we, like him, hope to see him back in the car. We'll accept the outcome – whatever that may be – and plan accordingly."

Felipe Nasr
Felipe Nasr

Nasr hopes Sauber has solved car issues
Felipe Nasr is hopeful that Sauber has got to the bottom of his recent car problems as the Formula 1 field prepares for the Chinese Grand Prix.

Nasr struggled throughout the previous Bahrain weekend, posting the slowest lap time in qualifying, behind the Manors, and crossing the line a lowly 14th.

"Looking back to the Bahrain Grand Prix about a week ago, I hope that the team was able to sort out the issues I had with the C35," Nasr commented.

"The objective is clearly to be more competitive – I am looking forward to the Chinese Grand Prix as the track characteristics should suit our car."

Nasr is also drawing on the positives from last year's Chinese Grand Prix, his first Formula 1 appearance at Shanghai, after reaching Q3 and scoring points.

"My first Formula 1 race weekend at Shanghai was quite positive last year," said Nasr, who won titles in Formula BMW Europe and British Formula 3 in his junior career.

"We improved the car during the whole weekend and, after a top 10 qualifying, I finished eighth."

Video: A lap around Shanghai
Force India's Nico Hulkenberg talks through a lap of the Shanghai circuit, home to the Chinese Grand Prix.

Guenther Steiner
Guenther Steiner

Haas F1 already looking to ramp up 2017 recruitment
Haas team principal Guenther Steiner says the US outfit is already looking to add more staff in order to prepare for 2017’s planned technical overhaul.

The American newcomers have enjoyed a dream F1 debut so far, with Romain Grosjean finishing sixth in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix before going one better in Bahrain a fortnight later.

Haas has entered the series on the back of a strong partnership with Ferrari, which sees the Scuderia provide many components – most notably the latest spec of its power unit – to the F1 rookies.

Although it has already ruffled some feathers in the paddock, the Haas-Ferrari tie-up will extend into next year. And with radical aerodynamic regulations slated for introduction, Steiner explains that Haas is seeking to hire more engineers and analysts.

“[The association with Ferrari] will be the same," Steiner is quoted as saying by Autosport. “We just need more people. With more people, we can get more done, so that is why we need more people.

“It is the result of the 2017 car. We need to put pressure on to develop the 2017 car now."

Despite Haas’ use of the Ferrari windtunnel coming under close scrutiny at the end of last year, Steiner confirms that the two partners will carry on having the “exact same" organization.

“The scale model goes back to [renowned Italian chassis manufacturer] Dallara and when we go testing, we will go to Ferrari," the ex-Jaguar and Red Bull man added.

“We have Haas Italia. We have some offices in Dallara which we rent so [the additional personnel] will be based there.

“The staffing numbers are going up but not by a lot. Some are for vacant positions which we didn't fill last year."

Haas F1 Team is headquartered in Kannapolis, North Carolina, and also has a UK base in Banbury.

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