Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Michael Schumacher
    Michael Schumacher

    Schumacher played part in Mercedes success – Brawn

  • Verstappen sees Vettel as model for F1 success
  • Barcelona slashes funding for Spanish GP
  • F1 'a bad product' in 2015 – de la Rosa
  • Hulkenberg: Force India targeting Williams

Schumacher played part in Mercedes success – Brawn
(GMM) Michael Schumacher played a major role in the success enjoyed today by the Mercedes team.

That is the view of Ross Brawn, a long-time close friend and colleague of the beleaguered seven time world champion.

As Mercedes returned to full works status in F1 between 2010 and 2012, Brawn and Schumacher worked together as boss and driver at the silver clad team.

Earlier, they had rewritten the F1 record books at Ferrari.

Referring to the Mercedes era, however, Brawn said: "We no longer had the success of earlier years, but his dedication was the same.

"Winning was still a part of his DNA," the Briton said in a documentary by the German broadcaster ARD, marking the two-year anniversary of Schumacher's skiing accident, entitled 'Zwei Jahre Danach' (two years later).

Brawn said: "No one should underestimate how much Michael did for the success that the Mercedes team now enjoys."

Brawn said he looks back on Schumacher's career and concludes that he is undoubtedly one of the greatest drivers to have ever raced in formula one.

"He won races that we should not really have won," he said of the Ferrari era, "and in my opinion, Michael did that more often than anybody else has."

Ross Bran also played a key role
Ross Bran also played a key role

Now, Brawn is reportedly one of the very few people who have been allowed to visit Schumacher since the skiing accident.

Brawn defended the family's decision to fiercely guard the almost 47-year-old's privacy on the basis that Schumacher was always a private person.

"One Michael Schumacher was for the public and the media, and the other Michael was the private man," he said. "They are two completely different people."

However, it means the public has been left almost completely in the dark about Schumacher's actual health condition today.

As 2015 draws to an end, Italian F1 insider Leo Turrini claims in Il Giornale newspaper that Schumacher is "technically awake, which means his eyes are open".

"However, he does not seem to recognize the environment around him or the few people who have the right to meet with him," he said.

"He does not react when F1 is on the television."

Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting similarly, claiming unofficially that Schumacher "does not communicate in any way".

"He weighs more than the 45-48kg that someone claimed, but is unable to move," the sports daily added.

Schumacher's family and closest friends like Brawn, however, are not giving up.

"Michael is on a path that few people have trodden before him," said Brawn, referring to Schumacher's current predicament.

"He is someone who has surprised us so many times before."

Vettel back in his Red Bull days
Vettel back in his Red Bull days

Verstappen sees Vettel as model for F1 success
(GMM) In the space of a year, Max Verstappen has set himself apart as a future F1 great.

"I myself am surprised by the overtakes he does. He surprises me every time," father Jos, a former F1 driver and once the great Michael Schumacher's teammate, said.

For 43-year-old Dutchman Jos, however, victory never came in F1, and now he is determined that his 18-year-old son achieves more.

It is why he has turned down a potential return to sports car racing for 2016, in order to continue to follow Max around the F1 calendar next year as well.

"My role is basically to keep my eyes and ears open and do what I can to help Max keep going up," Jos told De Limburger newspaper.

"I learned a lot from my mistakes, and am trying to save Max from repeating them. This is all about him now. So that he ends up with a top team."

In truth, Max impressed so much on debut this year that, although firmly under contract to Red Bull, he probably could have secured a top seat already for 2016.

Jos said Toro Rosso is the right place for now, though.

"Max is still young," he said. "Another year at Toro Rosso is best for him. It's better that his career builds up quietly. Another year to learn, then he is ready."

Indeed, Max did make mistakes this year — the biggest being the crash at Monaco.

"When I got out, I thought 'Quite a strong car'. But it only gave me more confidence," he said.

It is that burgeoning character, calm and toughness both on and off the track that, whilst still a teenager, is earning Max fans throughout the F1 world and beyond.

He said stepping up to F1 never fazed him.

"Behind the wheel you're still on your own," said Max. "The only difference is that in karts there is one guy writing about it and now I have to explain everything 300 times."

Jos also says he witnessed his boy become a man in 2015, as they began the season sharing a hotel room.

"I thought that was normal," the 18-year-old, who now has a girlfriend and has moved to Monaco, smiled. "I don't need a driver anymore!" he laughed, referring to his newly-acquired road driving license.

"But really not much else has changed in our relationship," said Max, referring to his dad. "For me it is important that he is there."

Jos agrees: "If he no longer wants me there anymore, I am sure he will tell me. But I don't think it will come to that. We have been through so much together."

Max has already set a target of 100 points and a podium for 2016, but he is willing to push the boundaries even further by eyeing a world title in the future.

"Yeah, and if possible several times," he said. "I don't think it will happen soon.

"But the record is seven, which is ambitious, but you have to have a goal."

Interestingly, Verstappen also singles out Sebastian Vettel – not the current world champion Lewis Hamilton – as an example of how he wants to achieve his success.

"Fast, clean, private, no scandals, no worries over his head," Max said, referring to the Ferrari driver and quadruple world champion.

"It is important to have peace and Vettel does it perfectly," Verstappen added. "I hope I can keep myself remembering where I came from, happy that I was able to turn my hobby into my job.

"Relaxed, the right people around me. If not, I'm sure my father will let me know."

Stick a fork in Barcelona F1 race?
Stick a fork in Barcelona F1 race?

Barcelona slashes funding for Spanish GP
(GMM) Barcelona's city council has slashed funding for the Spanish grand prix.

Local reports including by the El Confidencial and Diario Sport newspapers say the council's contribution towards the annual race at the Circuit de Catalunya has been halved from EUR 4 million per year to just two.

It comes after new mayor Ada Colau warned in the middle of the year that "In the context of what is happening (in Barcelona), formula one is not the priority".

Her deputy, Gerardo Pisarello, has now confirmed the 50 per cent funding slash, arguing that the amount was not reduced to zero because "an abrupt withdrawal would have damaging consequences".

Barcelona will therefore continue to contribute in 2016, so "they (race promoters) can do a viability plan" and "this private initiative will be self-sufficient, little by little".

The Mercedes parade made F1 real boring again in 2014
The Mercedes parade made F1 real boring again in 2015

F1 'a bad product' in 2015 – de la Rosa
(GMM) Former race and test driver Pedro de la Rosa thinks 2016 will be a better year for formula one.

"Let's be realistic," the 44-year-old, most recently a test driver for Ferrari, told the Spanish sports daily AS. "The (F1) product this year was bad.

"There has been nothing to raise passions. It was a pretty bad game only between (Lewis) Hamilton and (Nico) Rosberg and that's all. That was the problem.

"The coming year will be much more interesting," the Spanish veteran added, "because Fernando Alonso will be much stronger and Mercedes will have a serious rival in Ferrari."

Speaking of Alonso, with whom he worked closely at both Ferrari and McLaren, de la Rosa admitted McLaren-Honda's awful 2015 season caught him by surprise.

"But in hindsight," he said, "it is what happens when a manufacturer is in a hurry and decides to be in Japan, far from its English team, and especially decides not to sign foreign engineers from other manufacturers experienced in the new regulations.

"For that, the learning period is much longer," argued de la Rosa.

Asked what he expects from the Anglo-Japanese collaboration for 2016, he said: "To be regularly in Q3 and do a podium.

"But it should be clear that the world championship is for 2017, not 2016, and so the focus from the very start of 2016 should be on the car and engine for 2017," said de la Rosa.

Nico Hulkenberg
Nico Hulkenberg

Hulkenberg: Force India targeting Williams
Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg says the outfit should be targeting the likes of Williams in 2016, following the Silverstone-based team's best championship placing in 2015.

Aided by a substantial mid-season development, Force India was able to finish in fifth place in the standings, albeit two places behind fellow Mercedes customer squad Williams, which secured third for the second successive year.

Hulkenberg reckons that Force India's progress across the course of the 2015 campaign means it can realistically set its sights on Williams next year.

"Of course, if you look at Ferrari and Mercedes then of course it's a big gap," the German racer explained to F1i.

"But I think we need to target the likes of Williams, step-by-step trying to close it [the gap] and putting ourselves in a better position.

"It's quite remarkable [that] with the B-spec car I think either me or [team-mate] Checo [PĂ©rez] scored pretty much points in every race.

"Whatever the circuit characteristics was the car was competitive and we were able to score points on merit from our own strengths so I think that's pretty good."

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