Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche
    Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche

    TV must not be F1's only platform – Zetsche

  • 'Most top teams' targeting Verstappen – Ecclestone
  • F1's three-car future known 'next month' – Ecclestone
  • Wehrlein not denying Manor rumors
  • 'Samurai' Alonso will not take sabbatical – Sainz
  • Andretti warns F1 against revolution
  • Hakkinen urges Alonso to remain patient at McLaren

TV must not be F1's only platform – Zetsche
(GMM) Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche has called on formula one to up its game in the 21st century.

Currently dominating the sport with its Mercedes team, Zetsche says the German giant is experiencing "enormous growth" in the realm of the internet.

"In contrast," he told the publication Deutsche Unternehmerborse, "television is struggling in its attractiveness as a medium, even though there has rarely been so much overtaking and battling on the track.

"TV cannot be the sole or primary platform," Zetsche argued.

He says F1 must instead embrace the digital world and develop "interactive" strategies, arguing that the change of direction embraced by the horse show in Aachen is a good model.

"In the dressage," said Zetsche, "you can as a spectator write a review with your smartphone or tablet, which is fun because you are not simply passive."

He said "one example" is that fans could vote in real time for a team to make a pitstop, adding: "With these new digital platforms, interactions need to be developed, as we (F1) are enormously behind."

Max Verstappen in demand
Max Verstappen in demand

'Most top teams' targeting Verstappen – Ecclestone
(GMM) Max Verstappen must not be left without a race seat in formula one.

That is the view of none other than F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who admits he is a great fan of the sport's Dutch teen sensation.

"Max has been very good for formula one," the 84-year-old told De Telegraaf newspaper.

"He's fast, but he also has character — on and off the track."

However, Verstappen's employer Red Bull – currently housing the newly 18-year-old at its junior team Toro Rosso – is threatening to quit formula one if it cannot secure a competitive alternative to its Renault engines for 2016.

Ecclestone said: "In the interests of formula one, it would be a great loss if a talent like Max is not on the grid next season.

"At the moment, most top teams are targeting him and he is high on all sorts of lists in case something opens up somewhere.

"I expect great things from Max in the future," he added.

Fascinatingly, Romain Grosjean's decision to join Haas means a seat has just opened up at Lotus, which looks set to become the Renault works team next year.

Enstone's short-list may already be quite long, with the rumor-mill suggesting talents including Kevin Magnussen, Stoffel Vandoorne, and perhaps even the disgruntled Fernando Alonso may all be in the running.

When asked about the vacant seat, Lotus deputy chief Federico Gastaldi said: "We know that there are quite a few tasty drivers available out there."

We will know soon
We will know soon

F1's three-car future known 'next month' – Ecclestone
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone insists he is not worried F1 could be left with a diminished grid for the start of the 2016 season next March.

Currently, following the collapse of Caterham last year, 10 teams make up a 20-car grid.

But amid its talks with Renault, Enstone based Lotus is struggling financially, while Red Bull is threatening to pull both of its teams out if competitive engine deals cannot be reached.

Sauber and Force India – who have taken their gripe to the European Commission – have also had obvious financial troubles recently, increasing the risk that the grid could be seriously diminished in the not-too-distant future.

F1 supremo Ecclestone, however, says he is not worried.

"Some teams want to have three cars (each)," he told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, "and a lot of people would rather see a third Ferrari than a car that is not competitive.

"Next month we will see if we are going in that direction," Ecclestone added.

By then, Red Bull's engine crisis is likely to have come to a head, and whether or not Renault will complete the Lotus takeover should be known.

Regarding the Red Bull situation, however, Ecclestone admitted he is not sure what will happen.

"It is a complex situation with many conflicting interests," he said. "Why would their competitors help them out and risk that they could be beaten with their own weapons?"

Alexander Rossi has no chance to drive for Manor next year when the car will finally be better if Mercedes wants Wehrlein in the car
Alexander Rossi has no chance to drive for Manor next year when the car will finally be better if Mercedes wants Wehrlein in the car

Wehrlein not denying Manor rumors
(GMM) Pascal Wehrlein is not denying suggestions he is now in pole position to make his F1 debut next year.

The speculation about the 20-year-old's future has shifted into a high gear since the new engine deal between his employer Mercedes and the British backmarker Manor was announced officially in the past few days.

German Wehrlein will not, however, be trackside at Sochi in his official post as Mercedes' F1 reserve this weekend, as he is now on the cusp of securing the DTM title for the German carmaker with just the forthcoming Hockenheim finale to go.

"Pascal is currently the leader in DTM," Mercedes chief Toto Wolff told Auto Bild, "so his main focus is to win there.

"But he has the makings of a formula one driver," Wolff admitted, "so we would wish to accommodate him. First there would have to be a place for him."

At Mercedes' dominant works team, no such race seat is free for now.

And so it makes sense that Mercedes will negotiate a place for him at Manor, especially as many are comparing the new alliance to those between Red Bull and Toro Rosso, or Haas and Ferrari.

Wehrlein said: "Toto has to decide how to proceed. If he sees a way to put me into formula one, then I would be happy to go.

"The best way would obviously be at Mercedes, but there is probably no chance of that. So then you have to look at what the alternatives are," he added.

'Samurai' Alonso will not take sabbatical – Sainz
(GMM) Fernando Alonso says he can be misunderstood by the public.

Indeed, the latest rumors about the Spaniard arose after the Japanese grand prix, where he was rebuked by McLaren-Honda boss Ron Dennis for likening the "embarrassing" Honda power unit to a "GP2 engine".

Some sections of the media now believe a sabbatical in 2016 is more likely than another season at the back for the two-time world champion.

But fellow Spaniard Carlos Sainz, who is close to Alonso, says he doubts that.

"Yes, he will be on the grid next year because he will give a chance to the decision (to join McLaren) that he has taken.

"Not everything goes well at first but I think Fernando will stay and fight," the Toro Rosso driver told the Spanish sports daily AS.

"The truth is that this year has been a knock for him, McLaren and Honda, but Fernando is a Samurai who does not throw in the towel. It can't get any worse so it has to go forward now," Sainz said.

However, not everyone is convinced that Honda is now shaping up to make a big step forward in 2016.

Gary Anderson, a former technical boss for Jordan and Jaguar, told Brazil's Globo: "I don't see any sign that Honda has made any progress.

"I haven't seen a single piece of evidence of that. On the contrary, all the signs are that they are lost," he added.

In the meantime, there is the public perception of Alonso as fast but petulant, with the Suzuka outbursts – and rumors afterwards that he is now on the verge of quitting the project – only adding fuel.

But he told the Spanish broadcaster Movistar: "My natural instinct to win or be competitive makes me ruthless on the track.

"But then many people are used to seeing me on TV 30 seconds after I get out of the car — a time of great tension and adrenaline and all sweaty after racing at 300kph.

"I think trying to draw conclusions from that is wrong," said Alonso.

The 34-year-old also hit back at suggestions he lacks patience, insisting: "You must always have patience, as even when things are going well there are always bad races, qualifyings, moments.

"So you have to have patience, not only in sports but in life in general," added Alonso.

Mario Andretti
Mario Andretti

Andretti warns F1 against revolution
(GMM) Mario Andretti has warned formula one against going overboard as it looks to the future.

After an intense period of recent soul-searching, the sport collectively agreed to turn a sharp corner for 2017 by speeding up and improving the look of the cars.

Amid all the criticism, however, family patriarch and 1978 world champion Andretti says he remains a big fan of the pinnacle of motor sport.

"Formula one is a great product," he told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"It keeps its integrity because of the technology. That's the trademark," said the 75-year-old, whose son Michael raced at McLaren in 1993.

"That (the technology) is why the fans love formula one.

"Motor sport in general is expensive and sometimes it (F1) goes too far, so every now and then the sport needs to adapt.

"But I say adapt, not do things differently just for the sake of change. No racing series is perfect," Andretti insisted. "There is no magic key, so please don't try to reinvent the wheel.

"That would be the worst thing they could do. It's exactly the mistake Indycar made.

"They betrayed their roots and introduced things that do not fit with the series."

Some, however, believe the racing is better elsewhere than in F1, such as Indycar, where Andretti's grandson Marco is now a race winner.

But when asked if F1 has something to learn in that area from Indycar, Mario answered: "It's the opposite.

"Everyone is talking about Mercedes' dominance and that it is wrecking the sport, but I think it's produced some great stories.

"Now everyone is watching Ferrari to see if they can close the gap. The grands prix in Hungary and Singapore showed that Mercedes can no longer afford to make the slightest mistake, and – as a fan – I love that," said Andretti.

Alonso should not make a rash decision
Alonso should not make a rash decision

Hakkinen urges Alonso to remain patient at McLaren
Fernando Alonso must remain patient and reign in his complaints as he knew McLaren-Honda's first year together would be tough, according to two-time champion Mika Hakkinen.

The Spaniard's complaints have grown stronger race-by-race and came to a head at the Japanese Grand Prix when he compared Honda's power unit to that of a GP2 engine.

Alonso's attitude has drawn criticism from Hakkinen who insists a driver must fully support his team through thick and thin, especially when they knew in advance that it would be a difficult year.

"I waited seven years for my first Formula 1 win," the Finn told Ilta Sanomat. "He has driven the McLaren-Honda for only about half a year.

"Engine development is very slow, it is a stressful time for the driver. In my own career, when Mercedes came in to partner McLaren, the engine speed improved significantly over the development time.

"Alonso and many other drivers are very well compensated for their work. They agree to support the team through both good and bad days.

"Instead, he has already begun to rail against the engine manufacturer," he said. "But Fernando should keep in mind that he himself decided to take up this challenge."

McLaren went through similar pain – albeit reliability rather than performance – when they first partnered with Mercedes in 1995. Nigel Mansell quit the team after just two races, frustrated with the car and engine.

It took four years until they won a championship with Mercedes power.

Speaking to the BBC Mansell admits walking away was a decision he regrets.

"I have to say, unequivocally, that given the same set of circumstances what I should have done, and didn't do, is sit in the office for a day or so to have a good chat with [McLaren chairman] Ron Dennis.

"He would have helped me enormously and the chances are I wouldn't have stood down at that time. That's why I give this advice to everybody now to think very carefully."

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