Latest F1 news in brief – Saturday

  • Marko will block Ricciardo's move
    Marko will block Ricciardo's move

    Marko to block Ferrari switch for Ricciardo

  • Boullier will not 'convince' Alonso to stay in F1
  • Pundit questions Hamilton's podium chances
  • F1 not as good as before – Kubica
  • Pirelli denies 'secret Brazil tire' story
  • Haryanto hit with three-place grid penalty
  • More on Red Bull proposed canopy concept
  • Haas 'nervous' ahead of team debut
  • Renault has changed development approach

Marko to block Ferrari switch for Ricciardo
(GMM) Red Bull has completely ruled out suggestions it faces losing Daniel Ricciardo at the end of the year.

After the similar rumors of 2015, a potential move to Maranello for the affable Australian was put back on the agenda this week by countryman and 1980 world champion Alan Jones.

But Dr Helmut Marko quickly dismissed it, saying Ricciardo's contract for 2017 is "watertight".

That, however, did not stop the paddock banter, leading to an embarrassing moment for Ricciardo in the FIA press conference when Sebastian Vettel tried to put red cap on his former teammate's head.

But Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said in Melbourne: "He's under contract. The contractual situation we have with Daniel is extremely clear."

And Marko reiterated to the Austrian news agency APA: "Ricciardo has a long-term contract."

However, team owner Dietrich Mateschitz said recently that if a driver really wants to leave Red Bull, as Sebastian Vettel did two years ago, he will not stop him.

Marko explained: "Vettel had a clause that he can go if a certain performance is not achieved. Ricciardo does not have this clause.

"We built Daniel up and did not give him all of that support so that he can beat us in a Ferrari. This is not charity."

Eric Boullier
Eric Boullier

Boullier will not 'convince' Alonso to stay in F1
(GMM) Eric Boullier insists it is not his "responsibility" to convince Fernando Alonso to keep racing in formula one.

With McLaren-Honda still only a midfield runner in 2016, paddock rumors are swirling in Melbourne that the Spaniard might pull out of his contract with the team and quit F1 altogether before the end of this season.

"Fernando will leave," predicted Telegraph correspondent Daniel Johnson in a feature for Sky television.

The Times' Kevin Eason agreed: "There may be no Fernando towards the end of the season."

So when asked if he feels a responsibility to talk Alonso out of it, team boss Boullier said: "We brought Fernando in because we believe that together we can win.

"My responsibility to Fernando is that he always knows what we are doing and what progress we have made.

"But I do not have to convince him of anything," Boullier said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais. "If you don't want to race, you don't race.

"We believe in this project. We are starting from a long way back, but the best way to see the potential is to analyze the progress we have made so far."

And as for Alonso, "I think that while he still believes in the project he will not go anywhere else," Boullier added.

But the Frenchman does admit that, in the minds of money, McLaren's awful showing in 2015 did a lot of damage to the British team's historic and successful brand.

"We are talking about the worst season in the history of McLaren," Boullier said, "but you can always see a glass half full or half empty.

"It is clear that in some ways there was a negative effect, but on the other hand we were forced to rethink strategies and to rapidly change.

"Now there are other sponsors who have joined us, and let's not forget that with us Honda is back with a maximum engagement in F1. But let's say that last season was a wake-up call for everyone," he added.

When you have the best car, you can be the class clown and still win
When you have the best car, you can be the class clown and still win

Pundit questions Hamilton's podium chances
(GMM) The pundits are split over whether Lewis Hamilton's controversial off-track lifestyle will end his dominance of formula one.

When asked to predict the podium in Melbourne, the flamboyant broadcaster for German television RTL, Kai Ebel, told Bild: "Rosberg, Vettel, Verstappen.

"We can see that Lewis Hamilton has been a little distracted," he explained, referring to the Mercedes driver's colorful and controversial pre-season activities.

Colleague and former driver Christian Danner, however, defended Hamilton's lifestyle and EUR 35 million per year salary.

"It matters only what he does in the car, and as long as he is performing at his best, for me it doesn't matter if he's drunk every other day," he said.

Indeed, Hamilton has been strong so far through the practice sessions in Melbourne, telling a group of British reporters on Saturday that he is fully motivated for 2016.

"I'm here in the same spirit as last year and want to win," he insisted. "I don't have to search for motivation. It is my DNA."

Robert Kubica
Robert Kubica

F1 not as good as before – Kubica
(GMM) Robert Kubica says he would return to F1 even if the sport is no longer as spectacular.

The Pole's promising F1 career fell apart ahead of the 2011 season, when his forearm was almost completely severed in a rallying crash.

Now 31, he rebuilt his career to the heights of world rallying, and is now making his return to circuit racing in the GT category.

"I would love to return to formula one," Kubica told Italy's Radio Sportiva.

"For a driver it represents the highest category possible, even if it is no longer as high as when I raced in terms of performance and speed and the sensations it gives to the driver.

"Today, it is a category of waiting: you (the drivers) are careful not to push too hard, you're thinking about other aspects beyond just wanting to attack at the limit of the car.

"Everything about formula one lately puts that into the background," he added.

Paul Hambery
Paul Hambery

Pirelli denies 'secret Brazil tire' story
(GMM) Pirelli has category denied reports it debuted a new tire specification last year without informing the FIA or the competing teams.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport claimed on Friday that the new tire, featuring a special low-grip layer under the main surface, was secretly supplied to teams in Brazil before being shelved.

Michael Schmidt, the highly-respected correspondent, said the story was based on information from one of the teams' technical bosses, reportedly after a Pirelli engineer working for Lotus accidentally forwarded an email.

Pirelli's F1 chief, however, rejected the story in Melbourne.

"The tires in Brazil were absolutely identical to the ones in Melbourne," he insisted.

"We did not change the tire specification throughout the 2015 season," Paul Hembery added, saying the only change all year was the 2016 development tires that were run in the post-Abu Dhabi grand prix test.

He said the multi-layered tire, designed to replicate the grip 'cliff', was only shelved after Abu Dhabi.

"It did not work as we had hoped but we will keep at it," said Hembery. "It is something we want to implement in the 2017 tires, perhaps even with a different color for the other layer."

Rio Haryanto
Rio Haryanto

Haryanto hit with three-place grid penalty
Rio Haryanto has been given a three-place grid penalty for his maiden Formula 1 start in Australia, after colliding with Romain Grosjean in the pit lane during practice.

Haryanto hesitated after being released from the Manor garage at the start of Saturday morning's FP3 session, and ran into the side of Grosjean's approaching Haas.

Mechanics from both teams initially struggled to separate the cars, with Grosjean eventually wheeled back for a new sidepod cover, and Haryanto a replacement front wing.

Haryanto was later hit with a three-place grid drop and two penalty points.

"The driver of car 88 left the team garage and did not pay attention to the approaching car which was in the fast lane," read a statement issued by the stewards after practice.

More on Red Bull proposed canopy concept
Red Bull has released images of its proposed alternative to the 'halo' head protection concept, which the team plans to test on a Formula 1 car in the near future.

Ferrari ran a prototype version of the 'halo' device, initially proposed by Mercedes, during pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya earlier this month.

But instead of wrapping around the cockpit in the form of three struts, Red Bull's version is more akin to a canopy, with a clear, large windscreen sitting in front of the driver.

F1 is set to introduce increased protection for the 2017 season.

Gene Haas
Gene Haas

Haas 'nervous' ahead of team debut
Gene Haas had admitted that he is nervous as his team prepares to make its Formula 1 debut at this weekend's Australian Grand Prix.

Haas is the first new team to grace the sport since the trio of Lotus, Virgin and HRT entered the fray in 2010, with the American outfit having been in preparation for its debut for a couple of years.

Esteban Gutiérrez finished 11th during the second practice session at Albert Park, with team-mate Romain Grosjean in 13th, though only 15 drivers recorded a lap time in wet conditions.

"Well, I'm nervous," he conceded. "I think there are a lot of things going on here that I'm new to and the team is new to.

"So, putting all of the pieces of the puzzle together along with all the personnel and having it all come together for the first time has been a learning experience."

"You can watch this racing your whole life but there's nothing like being a participant to really understand it and I have a lot of respect for the teams that are here and the level of technical competence you have to have to even start one of these races.

"I'm pretty much in awe. It's a challenge and I hope it's a lot of fun."

Haas also played down expectations for the outfit, insisting that "not making any major mistakes" would represent a good start.

"I have the feeling that if you over-anticipate what you can do in the sport it will humble you very quickly," he explained.

"I think the first year or two just to be able to come to the races, be competitive, not make any major mistakes would be a tremendous achievement.

"I know a few of our drivers are hoping to score some points and that would certainly be an accomplishment."

Cyril Abitebou
Cyril Abitebou

Renault has changed development approach
Renault's Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul says the outfit has changed its approach to power unit development, taking the focus away from the importance of the 32 tokens available to each manufacturer.

Renault has struggled since Formula 1 switched to V6 power units two years ago and prior to the 2015 season used 20 of its available 32 development tokens, but was unable to deliver the expected progress.

Further spending of its tokens in 2015 also made little discernible difference and ahead of the 2016 campaign it has used only seven of its allocated 32, compared to 23 for Ferrari, 19 for Mercedes and 18 for Honda.

Abiteboul believes that Renault's use of tokens in 2015 demonstrates that focusing on performance should be the priority, and is sure progress is possible early in 2016 despite its limited token use.

"I think that this is a demonstration that we have used little tokens but I hope in connection to the fact that we have made a substantial step in terms of performance will be actual evidence that there is no connection between token use and performance," he explained.

"You can use a lot of tokens and bring absolutely nothing in terms of lap time, which actually is maybe something we did last year.

"I think the whole debate of tokens should go away and we should focus on performance.

"There is a plan to use more tokens during the course of the season, that's the plan and we have made lots of comments about that.

"Hopefully it will happen, both for the benefit of the Renault works team and also Red Bull."

Red Bull continues to use Renault power this year, with its engines branded under the TAG Heuer guise.

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