Latest F1 news in brief – Sunday

  • Sainz hopes to race after big Sochi crash
  • Rivals 'afraid' to help Red Bull – Horner
  • Van der Garde right to attack Sauber – Ecclestone
  • Doubts mean no 'development engine' for customers – Wolff
  • Honda making 'progress' with new engine – Boullier
  • Putin to attend Sochi race on Sunday

Sainz hopes to race after big Sochi crash
(GMM) Carlos Sainz checked himself out of hospital late on Saturday and is hoping to contest today's Russian grand prix.

Earlier, reports suggested the Spaniard would stay under observation overnight following his high-speed crash underneath the tec-pro barriers in qualifying, but Toro Rosso is now clearing the path for him to race on Sunday.

"As you can see I'm fine," the 21-year-old told Spanish television.

"It was nothing in the end, it was just a scare. A big scare, but just a scare."

Indeed, Sainz's manager Borja Ortiz-Echague said the 21-year-old was determined to keep his booking for dinner with fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso.

Sainz said he is completely unhurt after undergoing several tests, having never lost consciousness in the crash.

"(I have) a bit of a sore neck and back, but with a bit of rest I'm going to try to race," he revealed.

"I can't give you any guarantees, but I'm going to do all I can to race and if I can't then I'll just rest and think about the next one."

Attention is now turning to the nature of Sainz's crash, after marshals and doctors took several minutes to reach the Spaniard whose head and cockpit was buried deep underneath the high-technology 'tec-pro' barriers.

"It was not ideal," Sainz's teammate Max Verstappen said. "They need to find a solution for that."

Jenson Button agreed: "It definitely needs to be looked at."

And Sebastian Vettel said: "This needs to be looked at because the barriers are supposed to absorb the energy, not go up in the air and come down on the driver."

Fingers were being pointed at F1's lower noses for 2015, with Red Bull official Dr Helmut Marko saying "We were the first ones to warn" about the risk of cars submarining underneath rival cars or barriers.

Rivals 'afraid' to help Red Bull – Horner
(GMM) Red Bull's rivals are "afraid" to help the quadruple world champions amid an engine crisis that could drive the brand out of formula one, boss Christian Horner says.

With the team's relationship with Renault in tatters, Mercedes and Ferrari are currently refusing to offer Red Bull an alternative supply of power units.

But Toro Rosso, Red Bull's junior team, is not hitting the same roadblock, boss Horner said.

"If we were Toro Rosso, we could get an engine anywhere," he told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport. "We are just too strong. Everyone is afraid of us."

Ferrari's Maurizio Arrivabene commented to the Italian broadcaster Sky: "Let everyone talk, and once we have something to say, we will do so."

It is believed that Bernie Ecclestone is now working hard to broker a reconciliation between Red Bull and Renault, even though neither side appears overly keen.

"For me personally," said Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen, "that would not be the best option."

One conceivable scenario is that Red Bull stays with Renault while Toro Rosso switches to Ferrari power, but Verstappen told De Telegraaf newspaper: "Then I think Toro Rosso would be faster than Red Bull next year."

And he also cannot imagine that Toro Rosso will find its own engine solution while Red Bull Racing is left stranded without a power unit.

"I think Red Bull and Toro Rosso will either continue together or stop together," he said. "The first option seems the most likely to me, but time is running out.

"We need to know soon — after October, we can't build a car in time," said Verstappen.

"For me personally, there are three options: Toro Rosso, Red Bull or both teams withdrawing," said the 18-year-old.

Van der Garde right to attack Sauber – Ecclestone
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone says Giedo van der Garde was right to pursue Sauber in the courts earlier this year.

As the 2015 season began in Melbourne, Dutch driver van der Garde almost brought the curtains down on the Swiss team as he pressed his claim for a race seat.

And Ecclestone now backs van der Garde, who ultimately accepted a settlement.

"A deal is a deal," the F1 supremo told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf some seven months later. "I work the same way myself."

With a valid contract in hand, van der Garde fought hard for his race seat at Sauber, even though the midfield team had subsequently signed up Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson.

Ecclestone said: "If someone else came later and offered more money, I would say 'Sorry, I already have a deal'. Sauber made stupid mistakes," he charged.

"I understand that they were in a difficult position financially, but that does not mean that you can just do anything. Do you rob a bank to survive? No you don't."

Ecclestone's comments about Sauber come after the Swiss team filed a complaint with the European Commission about the sport's unfair governance.

"To be clear," team boss Monisha Kaltenborn said earlier at Sochi, "our complaint is against the commercial rights holder (Ecclestone)."

Doubts mean no 'development engine' for customers – Wolff
(GMM) Uncertainty about the 'development engine' now running successfully at the works team is the reason Mercedes' customers are not being offered the new specification.

That is the explanation of Toto Wolff, after drivers of customer teams Force India and Williams expressed some consternation that they are now a step behind their works Mercedes-powered rivals.

He explained: "The new engine that we have had since Monza is a development engine. We wanted to try a different direction for 2016. But we are not yet certain about it," said Wolff.

"So to do this exercise at all, we had to limit the production — when we had a problem with Nico (Rosberg's engine) we were not even sure if we would have enough spare parts," the Austrian is quoted by Speed Week.

Wolff, Mercedes' team chief, argued that the new spec is not necessarily better in outright performance, "Even if people are saying that it definitely has more power".

"That's not the point," he insisted. "For us, it is only a possible development direction for 2016."

A more immediate concern for Wolff is the prospect of wrapping up Mercedes' second consecutive constructors' world championship on Sunday, which will happen in Sochi if the team scores 3 points more than Ferrari.

He admitted that the celebratory t-shirts are already printed.

"I can hardly say we have nothing ready if suddenly we are walking around in them," Wolff grinned.

"But I'm not talking too much about it because I always imagine that this is a bad omen. So I knock on wood."

In truth, Mercedes' staff are probably less concerned about the celebratory t-shirts than they are about the prospect of a multi-thousand euro title bonus apiece.

"It's the same as last year," Wolff admitted.

"What we have managed to do this year in producing a dominant package again is incredible. And whether it was Malaysia or Singapore, we have always reacted well to the problems and defeats, which is something I'm very proud of."

Honda making 'progress' with new engine – Boullier
(GMM) Eric Boullier would not be drawn on what sort of progress Honda has made with its struggling 'power unit' at Sochi.

The new specification, benefitting from the Japanese marque's final four performance 'tokens' of 2015, was run earlier at Sochi by Fernando Alonso, with observers noting a distinctly different engine sound.

The Spanish driver revealed that it is working well.

"The new version of the engine is working as we expected after the work on the test stand and all of the calculations," confirmed McLaren team boss Boullier.

"Everything went according to plan.

"We brought this engine here because we knew that Sochi would not suit us," he said, referring to the fact that Alonso will serve his grid penalties on Sunday but then benefit from the actual use of the engine at Austin.

"Can I tell you how much the new engine gives us? No, sorry, I can't tell you more. But, as we said, there is progress," added Boullier.

Putin to attend Sochi race on Sunday
(GMM) Controversial president Vladimir Putin will attend the Russian grand prix at Sochi on Sunday, the state-owned Tass news agency reports.

Adding that Putin plans to meet with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, a Kremlin spokesman confirmed: "The president will attend these (F1) competitions."

Tass said Putin has met with Abu Dhabi's crown prince before, the report explaining that one issue discussed was "the situation in the Middle East, including in Syria".

In the West, Putin has been harshly criticized in recent weeks following Russia's controversial military intervention in Syria.

But an avowed friend of Putin's is the F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who has admitted his affection for the Russian president in the past.

Ecclestone, however, was criticized for taking the sport into Russia last year, particularly after the Malaysian Airlines flight was shot down in the Ukraine.

The 84-year-old is unapologetic.

"I think it's good for formula one that we have opened the doors to more countries," Ecclestone told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf at Sochi.

"It is part of the development of the sport. Without progress, we would still be at Zandvoort," he insisted.

Ecclestone added: "Many emerging economies have picked up the gauntlet and gone to work, while some organizers of the old circuits were looking backwards and did nothing to improve themselves."

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