Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Lewis Hamilton thinks F1 cars are getting too heavy.
    Lewis Hamilton thinks F1 cars are getting too heavy.

    Hamilton slams moves to make F1 cars heavier

  • Paddock divided over 'musical chairs' qualifying
  • Vasseur denies not supporting Magnussen
  • Mexico hopes Austin can save embattled race
  • 'Big chance' Mercedes will cruise to third title – Massa
  • McLaren-Honda will not win in 2016 – de la Rosa
  • Haryanto may need more funding for full Manor seat
  • F1 instability stopping VW foray – boss
  • Toro Rosso testing interim 2015 car this week
  • 2016 car is 'best Red Bull has built' – Marko
  • Mexico Grand Prix Organizers Plan To Keep F1esta Going With Increased Capacity In ‘16
  • Ecclestone Says F1's Future Brighter Following Agreement On New Qualifying Format

If Hamilton thinks F1 cars are too heavy he should try an IndyCar that weighs 100s of pounds more
If Hamilton thinks F1 cars are too heavy he should try an IndyCar that weighs 100s of pounds more

Hamilton slams moves to make F1 cars heavier
(GMM) Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton has slammed F1's proposed car 'revolution' for 2017.

Although the final vote has been delayed until late April, the sport's decision-making bodies this week approved a draft for wider cars and tires and the Mercedes-devised 'halo' cockpit protection.

Red Bull's Christian Horner admits he voted against it.

"A couple of the teams were against the chassis regulations, including us, because I think it's not radical enough," he said.

However, Horner also said he thinks any change is better than none.

"The worst of all things would have been no change but it would be a great shame if that was not fully realized through this regulation change," he said.

Indeed, Williams technical boss Pat Symonds is alarmed that the precise rules still may not be known until almost May.

"There were disagreements between the teams and with Pirelli, but I think now everyone is happy with the consensus. Yet it is still not embodied in the rules," he said.

"The delay will have a much stronger impact on the smaller teams," said Symonds, "rather than a Mercedes or Ferrari."

Mercedes' Hamilton, however, is alarmed for a very different reason, as he lashed out at the hidden detail that the cars for 2017 will be even heavier than they are now — an increase from 702 to 722kg.

Part of the reason for that is that the 'halo' weighs 10 kilograms.

"That is suitable for a tractor, not a formula one car," one engineer is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

But Felipe Massa, who was seriously injured by debris in 2009, thinks the halo needs to come in.

"I would prefer a beautiful solution but what is most important is that something is introduced," he said.

Hamilton, on the other hand, is alarmed that the 2017 cars will be so heavy.

"I just realized that when I got to formula one I think the car was 600 kilos and now it's 100 kilos heavier," he said in Barcelona.

"We don't actually have to change the regulations much to go three seconds faster, just make the cars lighter," he added.

"They are just super-heavy. It is ridiculous if they are going to be even heavier," said Hamilton.

Former F1 driver turned broadcaster David Coulthard agrees, writing on Twitter that he hopes rumors the sport might speed up simply by scrapping the limits on fuel usage are true.

"Removing max fuel capacity and allowing drivers to give 100pc seems great," he wrote.

"F1 for me is the pinnacle of racing technology but it should also be the fastest, (yet) each year the cars are getting heavier/slower."

Raikkonen chose not too comment on new qualifying rules
Raikkonen chose not to comment on new qualifying rules

Paddock divided over 'musical chairs' qualifying
(GMM) Paddock opinion at the Barcelona test has been divided in two, after the FIA confirmed that the F1 Commission in Geneva "unanimously" approved a new qualifying format.

Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda had been the first to hail the move to revamp the current 'knockout' format by eliminating a slowest car every 90 seconds.

Red Bull's Christian Horner agrees.

"It could create a bit more randomness for the grid on Sunday, without artificially inverting grids," he said.

And Nico Rosberg said: "I think it's always good when we question our sport and try to bring fresh aspects into it."

Actually reversing the grids – earlier slammed as a "disaster" by Romain Grosjean – had been F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone's real preference, with the 90-second knockout idea apparently a close second choice and compromise.

It means that, having slammed the state of today's F1 just days ago, the 85-year-old is now much more upbeat about the future.

"I think now I'd be a bit more confident that we are going to see some good racing," Ecclestone is quoted by British newspapers including the Telegraph.

"I wasn't talking down the sport at all, quite the opposite. I was trying to sort of explain that unless we did something, that's the way we'd be going."

Some said qualifying will now be like 'musical chairs', in an action-packed scramble to avoid being the next to be left with a low grid position.

"It's a strange idea," said Renault rookie Jolyon Palmer, "as I don't see it will make a massive difference." But Daniil Kvyat had the opposite view, admitting that at first sight he thought qualifying will now be "a mess".

Kimi Raikkonen, testing the new Ferrari for the first time on Wednesday, did not want to comment at all, remarking: "Let's wait to see if it happens."

But Williams' Felipe Massa said: "I have not given it a lot of thought, but the intention is clear: to produce some chaos."

His boss Pat Symonds agrees with that assessment.

"I don't think it's going to improve qualifying itself and in fact there is a danger qualifying might not be as exciting. What it has a good chance of doing is improving the race.

"We will see some of the quicker cars a bit further back and we all know that has given us some great races in the past," he added.

Nico Hulkenberg is alarmed at the timing of the qualifying shakeup.

"It was a huge surprise that, three weeks before the start of the season, the qualifying format is rewritten," said the Force India driver and reigning Le Mans winner.

Symonds agrees: "We made our tire choices for the first races on the basis of the old qualifying, so I'm sure if we had known about this, we might have chosen something else.

"But we're all in the same boat," he added.

Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz is also in two minds.

"On one hand, it looks good because it will be spectacular, but it might be a bit hard to explain what is going on. But as long as it is spectacular, people will like it," he said.

However, it is clear from the reaction on social media that the fans are very much divided over whether 'musical chairs' qualifying is a good idea.

"We should always try to be better," argues Haas team boss Gunther Steiner. "Sometimes you are wrong but it can be corrected.

"But I think the fans will like the new format."

Jos Verstappen, a former F1 driver and the father of Toro Rosso teen sensation Max, is also trying to keep an open mind.

"I think the old system was not too bad. I found it pretty exciting, especially the last two minutes of the session," he told verstappen.nl.

"But I think they want to spread the excitement of those last two minutes. It's easy to say 'I don't like it', but maybe it's something great," said Jos.

"What people want to see is racing," Verstappen added. "They don't want to know who is going to win in advance, and that is now the case."

Frederic Vasseur
Frederic Vasseur

Vasseur denies not supporting Magnussen
(GMM) Renault team boss Frederic Vasseur has slammed suggestions he is not fully behind 2016 recruit Kevin Magnussen.

Particularly in the Danish media, much has been made of Vasseur's recent suggestion that his first choice to replace Pastor Maldonado this year was actually ART protege Stoffel Vandoorne.

"Complete bullsh*t," the Frenchman told Denmark's BT newspaper.

"I don't understand why it's such a big story in Denmark," said Vasseur.

"A Belgian journalist asked me if I was interested in Vandoorne, and I replied 'Of course yes, but he has a contract with McLaren'. It's my job to be interested in all good drivers, but that does not mean that I can hire them all.

"I am very happy with the two drivers I have," he insisted. "Kevin and Jolyon Palmer is a great combination.

"I've known Kevin for many years. He did not race for me in the junior classes, but he was a tough competitor and always at the top.

"He had a bad experience in 2015 that made him extra motivated for this season, so for me, Kevin was the perfect candidate for our vacant seat," Vasseur said.

However, even though fully backed by his team, it seems that Magnussen has only a one-year deal.

Vasseur replied: "Even though it is a long-term project, everyone in the team is concentrating on 2016. It is too early to think about 2017."

Indeed, Renault has a lot of immediate problems to solve, as the hurried installation of its own engine into a car designed by Lotus for a Mercedes power unit has proved troublesome in early testing.

"It has been a bit tricky," Vasseur smiled.

"It is because we came so late, but it is a long-term project, so it is not crucial," he explained.

"Right now we have some problems we need to solve, but just to have a car ready for when the test started on Monday at 9 o'clock was a huge success for everyone in the team," he added.

With the only American, Alexander Rossi, now out of F1, you can eventually stick a fork in the USA GP.
With the only American, Alexander Rossi, now out of F1, you can eventually stick a fork in the USA GP.

Mexico hopes Austin can save embattled race
(GMM) A Mexican race official hopes his colleagues north of the border can end the uncertainty surrounding the 2016 US grand prix.

A government funding dispute has thrown the popular Austin race, currently with ominous "subject to confirmation" status on the final 2016 calendar, into doubt.

It is provisionally scheduled to be the first in an American 'double header' this year, with Mexico taking place on the following weekend, in late October.

Earlier, it was planned that some cross-promotional activities between Mexican and US organisers would be shared.

But Mexico's F1 marketing director Rodrigo Sanchez said: "They (Circuit of the Americas) are going through a lot right now, and there's a lot of stuff that they need to prioritize before even thinking about things like how to cross-promote events.

"Hopefully they can get their things together and host another successful grand prix in the States," he told Sports Business Daily Global.

Lewis Hamilton smiling in Barcelona knowing the Aldo Costa Mercedes is probably unbeatable again
Lewis Hamilton smiling in Barcelona knowing the 2016 Aldo Costa designed Mercedes is probably unbeatable again

'Big chance' Mercedes will cruise to third title – Massa
(GMM) Felipe Massa is not sure F1 fans should expect Mercedes to be toppled from its back-to-back title-winning perch in 2016.

As the Brazilian got his first taste of Williams' new FW38 on Wednesday, he declared that it felt "better" than its predecessor, which finished third overall behind Mercedes and Ferrari last year.

"It feels better than last year's," Massa told Globo Esporte, "but I don't know if it will be enough to be faster than Ferrari and Mercedes.

"I hope we can fight this year with Ferrari," he added. "With Mercedes? I don't know. They are very strong.

"There is a big chance we will see another championship with one team only," said Massa.

Beginning his 14th race season in F1 this year, Massa said he is basing his comments on having watched first-hand the behavior of Mercedes' new car from beside the Barcelona track.

"I was in the circuit yesterday and saw how competitive their car is," he said.

"It's fast, it does not slide at the front or the back, the wheels do not lock under braking — there is nothing wrong. It seems to be very easy to drive," added Massa.

Massa's countryman Felipe Nasr, who drives for Sauber, agrees with his fellow Brazilian.

"I was watching the cars in the middle of the track yesterday and at a certain moment (Sebastian) Vettel and the Mercedes (Lewis Hamilton) were close together," he said. "The Mercedes overtook the Ferrari and disappeared.

"I don't know what fuel they had, but they had the same medium tires," he added, before predicting a third-consecutive title for Mercedes this year.

And those predictions are coming even before Mercedes has completed the specification of its ominous new car, let alone tried the new 'ultra soft' tire.

"We will not have this (softest) tire at this test," Nico Rosberg revealed, "because we didn't order them from Pirelli."

The German admitted: "We haven't shown our cards yet. We're still holding back — but for sure the car is quick."

World champion Hamilton confirmed that Mercedes' reluctance to hit full throttle with all of its 2016 parts is an effort to surprise its rivals.

"Here (at the first test), you try to show as little as possible so that nobody has time to copy what you've done," he said.

Another lemon?
Another lemon?

McLaren-Honda will not win in 2016 – de la Rosa
(GMM) McLaren-Honda is right to be keeping its expectations for 2016 in check, according to the British team's former long-time test driver Pedro de la Rosa.

Now 45, de la Rosa has made an appearance in the Barcelona paddock, where expectations that his former colleague Fernando Alonso might have a winning car this year are high.

"We must be realistic," he told Spain's Radio Marca. "McLaren will not win races this season.

"They are much better, they have started well, but hopefully the improvement will be to get into Q3 and a podium," de la Rosa added.

He said teams that want to take on the might of Mercedes need to work steadily towards that goal, as has another of his former employers, Ferrari.

"I think this season we will see four cars winning races regularly," predicted de la Rosa. "The two Ferraris and the two Mercedes. Both are well above the rest.

"What surprises me is that a big team like Ferrari has shown its weapons so soon with some great times, without hiding anything," he added.

De la Rosa admitted that his F1 career is probably now over, but he is now exploring a potential move to Le Mans sports cars.

"If I can, I'll be on the track when I'm 120," he smiled.

"It's similar with Fernando," said de la Rosa. "Talking about his retirement is silly, to put it politely, because giving up is the last thing Fernando does."

Rio Haryanto - have check will drive
Rio Haryanto – have check will drive

Haryanto may need more funding for full Manor seat
(GMM) A cloud may already be hanging above Rio Haryanto's new race seat at Manor.

The 23-year-old rookie secured the drive when his sponsor, the Indonesian state-owned oil company Pertamina, lodged a EUR 5 million down payment.

But it is rumored Manor has been promised a further $15 million from the Haryanto camp across the remainder of 2016.

"We're going to see the first Melbourne race, and what's going to happen in the first half of the season," Haryanto's manager Piers Hunnisett said last week.

Now, Indonesia's national news agency Antara reports that the country's national motor association (IMI DKI) will try to help the Haryanto camp to raise money.

"IMI DKI is still designing a solidarity system such as through sale of merchandises of all championships held under IMI to support Rio Haryanto," chairman Alfonsus Judiarto said on Wednesday.

"The government has tried to help using the national budget," he added, "but the procedure for it is complicated and the idea has caused pros and cons. We hope private parties would contribute to help Rio."

In a separate media report, manager Hunnisett was quoted as denying that Haryanto's seat is in danger.

Hunnisett did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

F1 instability stopping VW foray – boss
(GMM) Volkswagen has renewed its objection to approving a formula one project.

Recently, Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne said he believes VW brand Audi was "quite ready" to enter the sport soon.

"Then came the Volkswagen (emissions) chaos," he said.

But VW's motor sport chief Wolfgang Durheimer has now told Autocar that it is actually the regulations chaos within formula one that is preventing a foray.

"The situation is not predictable enough to make the kind of investment required," he said.

"On the regulations front, there are a lot of rumors around the engine side and the supporting technology side.

"On the ownership side, there are also big questions the sport must answer," Durheimer added. "In F1, it seems the owners will not be there forever and that creates some instability."

Toro Rosso in Barcelona is just an interim car
Toro Rosso in Barcelona is just an interim car

Toro Rosso testing interim 2015 car this week
(GMM) The car being tested by Toro Rosso this week is a cross between the 2015 and 2016 machines, driver Carlos Sainz has revealed.

Firstly, the car is being run at Barcelona in an interim plain-blue livery, after the Faenza team ran out of time amid the hurry to switch to Ferrari power.

Max Verstappen joked to De Telegraaf newspaper that it's like "a woman without makeup. But beauty is on the inside."

The blue Toro Rosso, however, has also seemed to not be very fast so far, but the Dutch driver insists he is not worried.

"Our goal was to drive many laps, and we succeeded," said Verstappen.

"If we too had used soft tires and done other things we would be a second and a half faster and the situation would look very different," he explained.

"That all comes later. No, I'm definitely not worried," Max insisted.

Indeed, it now emerges that the car doing laps this week is in fact not the 2016 Toro Rosso, but last year's chassis running as a test mule for new parts.

"The car is a mixture of the 2015 and 2016 cars," Verstappen's teammate Sainz said. "At the moment we are working on reliability, the speed comes next week.

"Here, it's a STR10 with STR11 parts that has been made for this test only," he explained.

The full STR11 and its livery will be unveiled prior to the second and final Barcelona test next week.

"Knowing how late the engine decision was made last year," Sainz said, "I am amazed that the team managed to get the car ready for the first winter test.

"How they did it is beyond me, but not only did they do it, it is running reliably.

"I don't even know what position I finished today or what compounds the others have used. It is next week that we will see the STR11 in full and I can say something about the performance," added Sainz.

The new Red Bull is best they ever bullt - but it won't beat the Aldo Costa Mercedes
The new Red Bull is best they ever built – but it won't beat the Aldo Costa Mercedes

2016 car is 'best Red Bull has built' – Marko
(GMM) The mood at Red Bull is upbeat, even though part-time designer Adrian Newey admits the RB12 will not be a Mercedes-beater in 2016.

But that is not because the car is bad, team official Dr Helmut Marko insists.

In fact, he told Auto Motor und Sport the RB12 is "the best chassis Red Bull has ever built".

On day two, for instance, Daniel Ricciardo was second best behind Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, on the same purple-walled 'ultra soft' tires.

"The fuel, (and) which engine mode they (Ferrari) were in, we don't know," said Marko when asked about the 7 tenths deficit. "We are still conservative.

"But our car was quick right away and reacts logically to each setup change."

The Austrian also sounds upbeat about the engine situation, even though there seems to be a two-way agreement between Renault and Red Bull not to mention one another's actual names.

Marko said: "After the experiences of the last two years, it is completely unfamiliar to us to be getting so many kilometers under the belt."

There were some problems when Daniil Kvyat got his first taste on Wednesday, but Marko is still complimentary of the work Renault – or 'Tag Heuer' – has done.

"Clear progress can be seen," he said. "It goes in the right direction.

"It is good that they have made Remi Taffin the boss. He is a practical man who saw the problems on track and knows what needs to be done."

Renault team boss Frederic Vasseur, meanwhile, confirmed that Red Bull will have parity with the works team, and sounds confident about the engine progress.

"We have taken a very big step with the engine," he told the Danish newspaper BT, "and there is another significant update in the near future."

Mexican GP
Mexican GP

Mexico Grand Prix Organizers Plan To Keep F1esta Going With Increased Capacity In ‘16
Organizers of the Mexican F1 Grand Prix expect an even bigger crowd for this year's race after increasing the venue's capacity to keep the party going. The return of Mexico City on the F1 calendar last year was hailed a success as more than 330,000 attended the three-day event.

The '16 edition, which is scheduled to take place Oct. 28-30, could see up to 360,000 spectators in the stands after organizers increased the capacity of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

"We will have 10% more capacity because we grew the size of some bleachers," said Grand Prix Marketing Dir Rodrigo Sanchez. Last year's grand prix sold out within minutes, and Sanchez told SBD Global that he hopes the same will happen this time around.

Ticket sales for this year's race will kick off with a four-day presale period starting on Thursday. Customers of financial institutions Santander and Banamex will be able to purchase tickets during the presale phase and pay no interest on their purchases for six months. Tickets then will hit the general public on Monday.

"We are guaranteeing that there is going to be available inventory in every single grandstand in both phases," Sanchez said. Organizers did not raise ticket prices from last year but made some adjustments to the layout, for example consolidating general admission. Prices will range from 1,500-18,750 pesos ($82-$1,015).

Based on a fan survey, which was conducted following November's event, promoter CIE created four experience profiles to give spectators a better understanding of what to expect in the various price ranges. The four profiles are: VIP Party Racers, True Racers, Euphoric Fans and Speed Lovers. Fans will also be able to take in some of the race weekend's surrounding program, including free concerts, sponsorship activations, beer gardens and cantinas. The changes are expected to have a positive effect on fan experience, Sanchez said.

"We are still trying to learn from last year and also from other promoters," he said. "It's not like there's a full recipe that would show you that if you put 10 grams of this and two spoons of that you will make the perfect F1 race."

MORE PARTNERS: The series' successful return to Mexico City will likely also boost sponsorship sales. Last year's six local event sponsors — Banamex, Santander, Telcel, Coca-Cola, Johnny Walker/Diageo and Grupo Modelo's Corona brand — will continue their partnership, Sanchez said, with more expected to join.

"We are finalizing negotiations and we should have some information soon," he added. "We will have a couple more additional to those six this year." The '16 season will see two Mexican drivers compete in F1. Force India's Sergio Perez will be joined by Esteban Gutierrez, who is back in the cockpit as a full-time driver with the new U.S.-based Haas F1 Team.

"For us it was instrumental to have Esteban back as a primary driver," Sanchez said. "People were singing Sergio's [Perez] name throughout the entire facility. Hopefully it multiplies times two. It definitely helps to put the event out there, to put Mexico out there."

BORDER RELATIONS: The U.S. and Mexican F1 races will once again take place on back-to-back weekends. However, cross-promotional initiatives as suggested by former Circuit of the Americas CEO Jason Dial have been put on the back burner due to the funding issues surrounding the Austin, Texas-based track, Sanchez said.

"They [COTA] are going through a lot right now, and there's a lot of stuff that they need to prioritize before even thinking about things like how to cross-promote events," he said. "Hopefully they can get their things together and host another successful grand prix in the States."

The priority of Sanchez's team is to keep the F1 party going. It is a mantra that Mexican organizers incorporated in their communications strategy, with this year's event poster reading, "Mexico Vuelve A Estar De F1esta" ("Mexico Returns To F1 Party"). HJ Mai/SportsBusinessDaily

Ecclestone Says F1's Future Brighter Following Agreement On New Qualifying Format
Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone said that the sport faces a "brighter future after teams agreed a new qualifying format from this season, even if he had sought a more radical approach to liven up racing," according to Alan Baldwin of REUTERS.

Two days after he said that "current F1 was the worst it had ever been," Ecclestone sounded a "much more positive note." He said, "I think now I’d be a bit more confident that we are going to see some good racing. Then I’ll be happy." Ecclestone said that teams, which agreed to the new qualifying format on Tuesday, "had finally woken up and taken a step in the right direction with more change to come."

He said, "I think there’s lots of things we can do and will be doing. What people needed was a bit of a shakeup. I seem to be the only person that has thought we should do something in Formula 1, to wake everybody up a little bit. And maybe that’s what’s happened." F1's core strategy group, which includes Ecclestone and the top six teams as well as governing body, "approved a range of measures — yet to be formally ratified" by the FIA — in Geneva on Tuesday.

The changes are aimed at "making cars faster, louder, harder to handle and more aggressive" for the '17 season. The new qualifying format was passed unanimously, meaning it "can be introduced at this season's opening race in Australia on March 20 instead of waiting a year."

Under the new procedure, the "slowest drivers will be eliminated as the session progresses rather than at the end of each phase." The "final shootout for pole will be between two drivers rather than 10." Looking further ahead, Ecclestone said that the sport "needed to do more to reduce the dominance of champions Mercedes and rivals Ferrari, who between them provide eight of the 11 teams with engines, both on and off the track."

He said, "It’s no good just seeing Mercedes in the front, without any competition. That’s what I complained about" Reuters.

The BBC's Andrew Benson reported F1 bosses have been "working for a year on making cars faster and more dramatic-looking" for '17. It is all "in response to a perceived waning interest in the sport, although agreeing the detail has proved problematic." Nevertheless, bodywork dimensions "have been defined after months of discussions:"

  • Cars will be made 2,000mm wide, up from the current 1,800mm.
  • The bodywork will be increased to 1,600mm with from 1,400mm.
  • More aerodynamic downforce will be produced by a redesigned floor.
  • Tires will be wider: up from 245mm to 305mm at the front; and from 325mm to 405mm at the rear BBC.

CONSTANT ELIMINATIONS: SKY SPORTS' James Galloway reported while the current qualifying format "has been deemed a success over the past decade," it appears team chiefs believe "more constant eliminations during the hour will increase the chances of creating more unpredictable grids" with driver or team mistakes more heavily penalized. Sky F1 commentator David Croft tweeted, "Can't say whether the new qualy format will be a change for the better until we get the full details but I do wonder why it needed a change?" With the rules "necessitating that cars are on track more often during the hour," the prospect of cars running into traffic while "navigating past eliminated cars on their way back to the pits would increase." Sky F1 analyst Mark Hughes said, "So, musical chairs qualifying it's to be? Stewards are going to need eyes in backs of heads to see every single blocking move, esp Q1" Sky Sports.

DRIVERS REACT
: The HERALD SUN reported Haas driver Romain Grosjean "is completely against the idea," saying he feared it would be a "disaster" for the sport when asked about its viability at pre-season testing in Barcelona. Grosjean said when asked about the idea, "Disaster. I’ve been doing it in GP2 and it’s probably why you win the title but it’s not why you win races." He instead preferred making cars "more physically demanding to drive, so fans could see how drivers performed under fatigue." He added, "Formula 1 people want to see qualifying, they want to see a race, they want to see gladiators fighting with the best cars in the world, being the best drivers, finishing tired and exhausted and having given 100 percent." Meanwhile, it sounds like F1 "has failed in its attempt to bring back loud engine roars." Some drivers, teams and fans said that they "did not notice a significant increase in sound when cars made it to the track for the first time this week in pre-season testing in Barcelona." Force India driver Nico Hülkenberg said the car "sounds similar" to what it did last year. Sauber driver Felipe Nasr noticed only "a little" increase in the engine sound. Red Bull Chief Engineer Officer Rob Marshall said that F1 "would have been better off without the exhaust changes." He said, "The new exhausts are a waste of time." McLaren Racing Dir Eric Boullier said, before pausing to rethink his answer, "I think it's a little bit better. Isn't it?" Herald Sun.

IMPROVING THE SHOW: AUTOSPORT's Ian Parkes reported Boullier believes F1's new qualifying format will produce "unpredictability." The teams reportedly "decided to make the changes in the wake of a request from the promoters to help improve the show." Boullier: "Everybody has an opinion, pros and cons, which is fine, and in the end we have to sometimes listen to the commercial rights holder [Ecclestone] and keep the DNA of F1, but also to make it better" Autosport.

REUTERS reported the FIA said on Wednesday that F1 will introduce a "Driver of the Day" award chosen by fans voting online during the race Reuters.

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