Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Justin Wilson

    Former F1 driver Wilson dies

  • Pirelli, Ferrari move to end Vettel-fueled 'war'
  • Experts say Pirelli controversy is boost to Michelin
  • Vergne admits F1 return possible
  • Lotus stuck at Spa as Renault decision still looms
  • Honda has Ferrari-like plan to improve – Boullier
  • Popular Raikkonen not 'low cost driver' – Arrivabene
  • Blanchimont bravery was 'typical Max' – father
  • Analysis of Verstappen's Belgian Spa Grand Prix 2015 race

Former F1 driver Wilson dies
(GMM) Former Minardi and Jaguar driver Justin Wilson has died, one day after a horror incident during an Indycar race.

The 37-year-old Briton, who raced in formula one in 2003 before switching to America's open wheel scene, was in a coma and critical condition on Sunday after the nose section of a rival's crashed car struck him on the helmet.

He "passed away today," Wilson's family announced on Monday.

Wilson, who won the F1 feeder series F3000 in 2001 and seven race wins in Champ Car and Indycar, had a wife and two young children.

"The motor sport world comes to a standstill once again," said McLaren driver Jenson Button on Twitter, one month after the death of Jules Bianchi.

Pirelli, Ferrari move to end Vettel-fueled 'war'
(GMM) Pirelli and Ferrari, both Italian companies, will get together prior to the forthcoming Italian grand prix.

The meeting follows the explosion of a controversy at the Belgian grand prix, where Sebastian Vettel launched an expletive-filled tirade after a tire blowout at Spa-Francorchamps.

"Nobody has ever seen him so angry," said the Italian daily Corriere dello Sport.

La Repubblica, another newspaper, added: "A war has broken out between Ferrari and Pirelli."

So it emerges that chiefs Maurizio Arrivabene, James Allison and Paul Hembery will sit down to clear the air before the next racing action begins at Monza next weekend.

Hembery, Pirelli's F1 boss, told Bild newspaper he can understand Vettel's "emotional outburst", including an angry face-to-face in the Spa paddock.

"He lost the podium in the penultimate lap," said the Briton, "but we will certainly sit down and talk about it calmly."

Hembery is also quoted by Spain's Marca: "The teams make decisions based on the data they have and, in this case, something went wrong between us and them.

"Our goal is always to have a good cooperation with Ferrari. So let's sit down at a table to find the best solutions."

Ferrari team boss Arrivabene added: "First we want to do some checking on the technical side, because we want to be fair and not in any way open an argument between us and Pirelli."

Experts say Pirelli controversy is boost to Michelin
(GMM) Michelin's bid to oust Pirelli as F1's official tire supplier may have got a boost from the fallout of the Belgian grand prix.

Sebastian Vettel was not the only high-profile figure to boldly criticize Pirelli after his blowout at Spa-Francorchamps, as Nico Rosberg had a similar high-speed incident at the fearsome circuit.

In a post-race blog, German Rosberg said the blowouts were "really not acceptable", even though Pirelli insists external damage and excessive wear were the actual causes.

Now, Mercedes driver Rosberg has said in his column for Bild newspaper: "I am confident that Pirelli will double-check everything properly before the next race in Monza and that we will be able to drive a safe race."

It follows Pirelli chief Paul Hembery having hit back with anger at the post-Belgian controversy.

"The engineers are pushing the cars to ever narrower limits," he told Bild, "at the expense of the tires.

"First the drivers say the tires are too soft, then they're too hard. We (Pirelli) are always the stupid ones," said Hembery.

Indeed, the Telegraph newspaper reports that Pirelli actually found cuts in tires other than Rosberg's across the Spa weekend, with Red Bull chief Christian Horner saying there were also problems in the GP3 race.

Mercedes apparently reacted to the issue by adjusting suspension settings ahead of the grand prix, while Rosberg has proposed that teams install rearward-facing cameras so that potential signs of damage can be monitored.

Hembery admits that might be a "useful" tool.

What is clear is that the Spa-Francorchamps controversy came at exactly the wrong time for Pirelli, as negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone about extending the official tire supply deal beyond 2016 are currently taking place.

The F1 supremo is a supporter of Pirelli's, but pressure to ink a deal with Michelin, who are also bidding for the 2017 contract, will now be rising.

"F1 deserves the best," said former McLaren driver and now BBC commentator David Coulthard. "And the current tires are not that."

Writing for the Singapore broadsheet the Straits Times, David Tremayne agreed: "Further controversy could result in Ecclestone opting for Michelin as a tire supplier for 2017."

And Michael Schmidt, the highly respected correspondent for Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, said: "For Pirelli, the debate about the safety of its tires comes at the most inconvenient time.

"Unlike Pirelli, Michelin are advocating longer life for the tires, and the blowups of Spa are only live ammunition in that argument."

Vergne admits F1 return possible
(GMM) Jean-Eric Vergne has added fuel to speculation he is a major contender to return to F1 next year with Haas.

As a Ferrari test driver, the Frenchman is undoubtedly in the running to re-launch his grand prix career with the new American team.

Now a Formula E driver, Vergne admitted to the UK's Downforce Radio: "I have a few cards in my hand for formula one.

"It's still a bit early to talk about them but I have a few good options which is nice, so we're going to see how things go over the next few months," the former Toro Rosso racer, who is still just 25, added.

Vergne said one of the best things since being dropped by Red Bull at the end of last year is that his fans continue to support him.

"Many of them know me, they know how nice I try to be with them, and even if I don't get back to formula one things will still be exciting with my career. The good thing is the F1 doors are not closed for me," he added.

Lotus stuck at Spa as Renault decision still looms
(GMM) For embattled Lotus, time may be running out just as Renault enters a further period of delay in its decision about the future.

According to various media sources including the Swiss newspaper Blick, all the equipment belonging to the Enstone team – which is reportedly close to being bought out so that Renault can return to full works status – was detained at Spa-Francorchamps on the order of court bailiffs.

Among the seized equipment are the black and gold F1 cars, with disgruntled former reserve driver Charles Pic reportedly demanding a EUR 750,000 settlement.

The Telegraph said deputy boss Federico Gastaldi "is now working with team owner Gerard Lopez on a solution."

The Times correspondent Kevin Eason added: "Lotus executives were negotiating with Pic's lawyers for a settlement on Monday but it is clear the financial pressure is beginning to tell".

Part of the reason for the delay might be the contractual dispute between Renault and its current premier F1 team partner Red Bull, who are said to want to break the 2016 engine supply deal.

But according to Spain's AS sports newspaper, Renault is insisting that Red Bull respect the deal, or at least pay a whopping EUR 40 million penalty for breaking it.

Not only that, anything other than an amicable solution could also cost Red Bull up to EUR 80 million in the form of its current title sponsorship by Infiniti, the luxury division of Renault-owned Nissan.

All the while, Renault is busily deciding its next steps in F1, with ambassador Alain Prost said to have commenced parallel talks with Force India at Spa.

"We are completing the process of analyzing the situation," the F1 legend told the French broadcaster Canal Plus.

"The decision is a little delayed but it will be taken in September," Prost added. "I think the situation is changing every minute, so I cannot tell you much even if I know a few dates.

"It is necessary to wait a little longer," he said.

Honda has Ferrari-like plan to improve – Boullier
(GMM) Honda "has a plan" to dramatically improve a crucial element of its current power unit, according to McLaren team boss Eric Boullier.

The struggling Japanese marque's F1 chief Yasuhisa Arai left Spa-Francorchamps with a red face, having stridently predicted that an upgraded engine in Belgium would match the one now fielded by Ferrari.

Ultimately, it was a woeful weekend for the Anglo-Japanese collaboration, with some reports mentioning the top speed deficit as actually in the two-dozen kilometers per hour range.

McLaren chief Boullier, however, is upbeat.

"You can see that the big step taken by Ferrari since last year was to improve the MGU-H," said the Frenchman, referring to the energy recovery system that converts heat from the turbo.

"It seems that Honda has a plan to have a very good (MGU-H) system next year," Boullier is quoted by Spain's El Confidencial.

Elsewhere, following meetings at Spa-Francorchamps, sources report that F1 could be close to an agreement that would allow struggling manufacturers Honda and Renault to close the gap next year with less limited development.

It is rumored the development could also bring a fifth carmaker into the sport.

Popular Raikkonen not 'low cost driver' – Arrivabene
(GMM) Ferrari did not decide to retain Kimi Raikkonen for 2016 because he is cheap and popular, boss Maurizio Arrivabene insists.

There was a round of surprise recently when the Maranello team re-signed the 35-year-old Finn, amid strong rumors that had linked Valtteri Bottas and others with the seat.

Team chief Arrivabene, formerly a marketing executive for Marlboro, acknowledges that Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion, is widely popular.

"The GPDA did a very serious and careful research about which drivers are most appreciated by fans, and Kimi was the first," said the Italian.

"It is obvious that we did not confirm him for this reason, nor because he has blue eyes and blonde hair. We renewed with him because when you are putting together a young team, you need to find the right balance.

"Kimi is a champion and he goes along very well with Seb (Vettel), giving a great contribution to the development of the team," Arrivabene explained.

However, it has also been suggested that Ferrari insisted Raikkonen lower his wage demands for 2016, under the eye of the notoriously efficient new president Sergio Marchionne.

But Arrivabene denies that Raikkonen is now a 'low cost driver'.

"There are low cost flights," he said, "but I have not seen many low-cost drivers at a certain level. And that applies to footballers, drivers or more generally a top athlete in any discipline."

Blanchimont bravery was 'typical Max' – father
(GMM) As his teenage son inspired gasps and cheers at fabled Spa-Francorchamps, Jos Verstappen was not surprised by what he saw.

24 hours after a GP2 driver, Dutch countryman Daniel de Jong, broke his back in a head-on crash at the same corner and had to undergo hours of surgery, it was Max Verstappen who used fearsome Blanchimont as the scene of his heroics.

First, the Toro Rosso sensation passed Fernando Alonso on the inside, and later Felipe Nasr on the outside in moves that stunned the racing world.

Father Jos was not surprised, although he did admit to being "proud".

As for a reward, Verstappen senior joked before leaving Spa-Francorchamps: "He does not have to walk home. I will give him a lift," he laughed, referring to the fact that Max is yet to secure his road driving license.

Around the racing world, however, people are raving about young Verstappen's bravery and skills.

"That's nice to hear," Max is quoted by De Telegraaf newspaper. "I'm glad also for all the people in the stands that I can give them some great moves for their money.

"That's why they come to the circuit. It's more fun going from 18th to eighth than to start and finish eighth," Verstappen added.

Father Jos, meanwhile, said he was not surprised by his son's courage as he launched the blistering overtakes, particularly the one on the outside of Nasr.

"It was typical Max," he said, admitting that he did hold his breath for a moment.

"In those moments I'm confident it's going to go well. In fact, the Max we saw racing at Spa, that's the Max we know," Verstappen told his website.

"That's the way he raced in karts, Formula 3 and now in F1. There are many more stunning overtakes ahead of us, I know that for sure."

Analysis of Verstappen's Belgian Spa Grand Prix 2015 race
Anthony Davidson's Post-Race Analysis of Verstappen's race at the Belgian Spa Grand Prix 2015 – Sky Sports F1

It was quite sensational again what Max did at the Belgian GP, and he still only 17.

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