Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Tost says Kvyat better than Ricciardo and Verstappen

    Tost says Kvyat best driver behind Vettel

  • Bottas says rumors hurt Williams relationship
  • Honda power boost smaller than rumored – Alonso
  • Helmet painter says Vettel tweak at Spa legal
  • Alonso not surprised by Raikkonen news
  • Massa hopes Bottas stays at Williams
  • F1 to remain on free TV in Germany – reports
  • Button tones down social media after robbery
  • FIA pushing on with technology clampdowns
  • Sauber not worried about future with Ferrari
  • Mercedes pushing on with 'spoon' rear wing
  • Exact announces partnership with Max Verstappen

Tost says Kvyat best driver behind Vettel
(GMM) Daniil Kvyat says he is happy to have been rated so highly by a former boss.

In a recent magazine feature, Toro Rosso chief Franz Tost said the young Russian is the best driver he has ever worked with behind Sebastian Vettel.

Tost ranked Kvyat, who is now at Red Bull at the age of just 21, ahead of Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz, Daniel Ricciardo and even Ralf Schumacher.

Kvyat laughed to Russia's Championat: "It's a pity I am only second!

"It's always nice to hear good words from Franz. At Toro Rosso I managed to build a very good team around me with a view to 2015, and it would have been interesting to continue, but then I got the proposal from Red Bull.

"Of course that is impossible to refuse! I don't regret anything, but it would have been interesting to see what we could have done together in 2015.

"At the beginning of the season their (Toro Rosso's) car looked very competitive, but I feel fine at Red Bull," Kvyat added.

Bottas could have stopped the rumors but didn't
Bottas could have stopped the rumors but didn't

Bottas says rumors hurt Williams relationship
(GMM) Valtteri Bottas claims rumors about a switch to Ferrari hurt his relationship with Williams.

The speculation about the young Finn's move was so strong at one point that publications reported that a contract was even signed.

So now that Kimi Raikkonen's new deal is out in the open, Bottas has admitted the rumors actually affected his relationship with Williams.

"The key word is 'unnecessary' because most of what was rumored was simply not true," he said at Spa-Francorchamps.

Bottas insists he never signed a Ferrari contract, but would not comment on suggestions Ferrari powered the rumors in order to destabilize Williams.

But he did admit: "It simply didn't do any good for mine and the (Williams) team's relationship. So these kinds of rumors are pretty unfair.

"From now on it will be easier as everybody knows what the situation is."

Alonso knows Honda still out to lunch
Alonso knows Honda still out to lunch

Honda power boost smaller than rumored – Alonso
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has admitted he will start Sunday's Belgian grand prix from the back of the grid.

That is because of a double engine change as McLaren's struggling partner Honda introduces a key update at Spa-Francorchamps.

But after boss Yasuhisa Arai suggested Honda will now be on par with Ferrari and targeting Mercedes next, Alonso said rumored figures of a 50-100 horse power boost are wide of the mark.

"I do not think it will be as much power as I have read about" in the media, Alonso said in Belgium, "but we are moving in the right direction. That is what is important."

The Spaniard also suggested that the double engine change and penalties for himself and teammate Jenson Button are not a big deal.

"We will start at the back but, as I always say, this is a year of testing for us," he is quoted by Spain's El Confidencial.

"All these updates and improvements are with an eye on 2016, so hopefully it will be a good test this weekend," Alonso added.

"There are some races where we need to sacrifice and this is definitely one of them," he is also quoted by Brazil's UOL. "We may not be very competitive at this track, it's not the best layout for us, so I think it's the best place to suffer some punishment.

"We also need to know that it's probably not the last punishment this year. We need to make sure that we are improving the engine and the car for next year."

Helmet painter says Vettel tweak at Spa legal
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel's helmet livery tweak for the Belgian grand prix conforms with the regulations.

That is the claim of the German's helmet painter Jens Munser, as the Ferrari driver prepares to mark his 150th career grand prix at Spa-Francorchamps.

Vettel, famous for using dozens of different liveries throughout his successful career so far, has been a critic of the new-for-2015 rule requiring every driver to field an identical design at each grand prix.

Now, his white helmet is turning chrome for Spa, Munser revealed to the German website f1-insider.com.

He said: "What is important is that the design is not changed from the front, so that the recognizability is the same."

Raikkonen takes pay cut to keep Ferrari seat
Raikkonen takes pay cut to keep Ferrari seat

Alonso not surprised by Raikkonen news
(GMM) Fernando Alonso says he was not surprised by this week's news that Ferrari has re-signed his former teammate Kimi Raikkonen for 2016.

Alonso, now at McLaren-Honda, easily outperformed the Finn last year, but Raikkonen was successor Sebastian Vettel's preferred choice for next season.

German Vettel insisted his word at Ferrari is not gospel, but "of course I was asked my opinion and I made clear that I would like to continue working with Kimi," he said at Spa-Francorchamps.

"I think if you look only at the raw results, you get a distorted picture of what Kimi brings. It's unfair because Kimi has had a rougher season than I have.

"But in terms of performance it is always pretty close," Vettel added.

Spaniard Alonso, critical of Ferrari since his departure, says the choice did not surprise him, even though young guns including Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg, Valtteri Bottas and Romain Grosjean were all linked with Raikkonen's seat.

"It (Raikkonen) was a logical solution, maybe a little conservative," Alonso said.

"But Ferrari is better this year, they have won twice already, the team atmosphere is right, so in this situation it would have been wrong to change something," he added.

Vettel said in Belgium that the atmosphere works now because "Ferrari is bigger than the ego of Kimi or myself".

Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport claims Raikkonen, 35, has even accepted a pay reduction from his current EUR 11 million in 2015.

"It (Raikkonen) was a very logical solution," said Carlo Vanzini, a correspondent for the Italian broadcaster Sky.

"Ferrari's full attention is on the competitiveness of the car. Kimi is able to drive this car well, and when it is better next year, his competitiveness will certainly increase again."

Autosprint's Roberto Chinchero, however, admitted the Raikkonen news left him slightly surprised.

"I think maybe the key factor was the sum asked by Williams for Valtteri Bottas' release," he is quoted by the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat.

"But at this time Ferrari's philosophy is to keep team spirits high, and definitely Sebastian Vettel is one of Kimi's biggest supporters.

"As Maurizio (Arrivabene) put it, now it is up to Kimi to prove that the choice was right."

Massa wants Bottas to stay
Massa wants Bottas to stay

Massa hopes Bottas stays at Williams
(GMM) Now that Valtteri Bottas is not heading to Ferrari next year, Felipe Massa says he hopes his current teammate stays at Williams in 2016.

It is believed the Bottas-Ferrari deal fell through due to the millions demanded by Williams for his release.

Even so, Bottas and his management are refusing to state clearly that he will definitely still be with the British team in 2016.

Massa said: "I hope I now spend another season with Valtteri. We are working well for the benefit of the team and I hope it continues."

Also not yet guaranteed is Massa's place at Williams, though many believe it is the Brazilian's solid form in 2015 that raised question marks about Bottas' potential.

One rumor is that Williams is pushing for Brazilian sponsor Petrobras to ramp up its backing of the Grove squad.

Massa insists: "I have no relationship with Petrobras. Williams signed a contract with me not because of Petrobras, but because of what I bring as a driver."

As for whether he will agree a new deal for 2016, Massa answered: "We haven't yet, we're just waiting for the right time.

"The situation has not changed. I have said that I want to stay and that I like working with Williams, and I think the team can say the same thing about me."

F1 to remain on free TV in Germany – reports
(GMM) German fans can heave a sigh of relief, as the broadcaster RTL has penned a new free-to-air television deal with Bernie Ecclestone.

Until now, in the wake of the demise of the 2015 German grand prix and declines in ratings, it was said RTL was negotiating hard with the F1 supremo for a lower fee.

But the publications Sponsors and Bild-Zeitung report ahead of the Belgian grand prix that the RTL contract has now been extended for 2016 and beyond.

"Bild's information is that the extension is for two years, with Ecclestone conceding as much as EUR 25 million per season," said Bild.

It is believed that at the height of the Schumacher era, the value of the deal was as much as EUR 50 million.

RTL is not commenting for now, but it is said confirmation will be forthcoming on Friday.

Button to go low-key
Button to go low-key

Button tones down social media after robbery
(GMM) Jenson Button has admitted he has ramped up his personal security in the wake of a recent robbery incident.

The McLaren driver confirmed he was shaken after burglars broke into his holiday villa during the summer break while he and friends slept.

"It's not nice knowing someone was in your room going through your drawers 8 centimeters from your wife's head," he said at Spa-Francorchamps.

It was the second scare of its kind for the 2009 world champion, after gunmen threatened him in Sao Paulo some years ago.

Reports have suggested that after the latest incident, Button has increased his security.

"You are obviously going to be more cautious," the Briton confirmed. "I had the issue in Brazil as well.

"You do worry so we have taken certain measures so that we feel more secure. Social networking always brings up this issue and we don't do social networking unless we are at home in Monaco now," Button revealed.

What remains unclear is whether the burglars also attacked Button and his entourage with anesthetic gas. The 35-year-old admits he has submitted a blood test to authorities.

"It doesn't matter either way to us what happened," he said on Thursday. "Someone burgled our house when we were in it and whether we were gassed or not doesn't matter.

"We are all here safe and well, that is the important thing."

FIA pushing on with technology clampdowns
(GMM) F1's new clampdown on race start technology has divided paddock opinion.

On the one hand, some say it is a step in the right direction, as Bernie Ecclestone applauded the move away from the notion that the drivers of today are "trained monkeys in remote-controlled cars".

So from Sunday's Belgian grand prix, the drivers will be essentially alone with their clutch technology, unassisted by engineers on the formation lap and unable to constantly tweak the settings.

"If they're looking for more variation and more showbiz, it is something that could work," former F1 driver Mark Webber told the Guardian, "to have the leaders or favorites have a poor start to the race and then there could be an interesting trend to watch them fight back."

The risk, however, is that something will go wrong.

"The new rule will be exposed for the first three or four races," Webber admitted. "The worst nightmare is a stalled car."

Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson, however, doubted that is going to happen, as the existing systems are equipped with anti-stall technology.

"In the worst case, you pull the clutch lever in and try again," said the Swede. "So I don't think there will be accidents because of people stopping (on the grid)."

But Sebastian Vettel, now well known for his 'purist' views regarding F1 and motor racing, is not a supporter of the mid-season clampdown.

"I can't quite understand what we want to achieve here," he is quoted by Speed Week.

"Perhaps the starts will be a little messy, but I think that in formula one there are a lot of very clever people working. They will work out very quickly what to do.

"In two or three races at the most, we will see that nothing has changed," said the Ferrari driver.

However, the FIA is now determined to tighten its technology clampdowns, with car-to-pit telemetry set to be limited from 2016, as well as further measures limiting what the drivers can be told over the radio.

Like Vettel, Fernando Alonso does not think much will actually change in practice.

"Yes we receive some information now on the radio about tires, about fuel or other things but we are perfectly aware of what is happening in the car," he said.

"If that information is not coming, it will come anyway by instinct and by the reactions of the car.

"So it's not a big change and probably it's welcome, all these changes, to have a little bit more to do in the car and feeling a little bit more important," Alonso added.

Sauber not worried about future with Ferrari
(GMM) Sauber is not worried it will become Ferrari's last priority in 2016 and beyond.

Already this year, the Swiss team has had to wait until this weekend's Belgian grand prix for the engine specification that Ferrari debuted way back in Canada.

And from 2016, the new American entrant Haas will make its F1 debut, strongly backed by the fabled Maranello marque.

Asked if she is worried Sauber is being pushed down Ferrari's priority list, boss Monisha Kaltenborn answered: "We have a long-standing relationship with Ferrari.

"I assume that they will behave as professionally as ever."

Kaltenborn would not, however, comment on the details of Sauber's current contractual relationship with Ferrari.

Before the summer break, she had been quoted as saying F1 teams needed to be careful about how they work with manufacturers, ramping up speculation that a change might be brewing for the Hinwil based team.

A collaboration with Honda, for instance, has been rumored.

"No, I'm not looking for anyone," Kaltenborn insisted. "I was asked what it is to work with a manufacturer, because we have had such an experience, and I talked about the pros and cons — and that's all.

"We are open to talks with any strong partner, not only a manufacturer," she added. "But if someone claimed that I dream of a collaboration with BMW — this is not true."

Mercedes pushing on with 'spoon' rear wing
(GMM) Although clearly the quickest team in F1, championship leader Mercedes is still pushing hard to improve its 2015 machine.

Sebastian Vettel broke through for Ferrari's second win of the season in Hungary, ramping up suggestions he might still be an outside chance for the title.

"Well, as long as it is mathematically possible, then why not?" the German said at Spa-Francorchamps.

"Of course, I also know that the gap to Mercedes is still there, but it is also important to seize opportunities when they come, and I think there have been two so far."

Marc Surer, a former F1 driver, said it is not realistic for Ferrari to be targeting the 2015 title.

"I always have the feeling that Mercedes has reserves when someone comes closer to them," said the Swiss, who commentates for the German broadcaster Sky.

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo agrees: "They (Ferrari) are in the situation we were in a year ago. The gap to Mercedes is still too big.

"On the tight and twisty tracks, Ferrari seems to be a little closer to them, but I think this weekend it will be a walkover for Mercedes," said the Australian.

Nonetheless, Mercedes is still pushing hard to develop its W06 car, as pitlane observers noted a revolutionary rear wing waiting to be raced this weekend.

Italy's Autosprint says the notably curved main plane resembles a silver "spoon".

"Our rear wing is basically not new," insisted Nico Rosberg, smiling: "But the curved element looks quick!"

After sponsoring Max's dad in F1, Exact Software now becomes his new personal sponsor
After sponsoring Max's dad in F1, Exact Software now becomes his new personal sponsor

Exact announces partnership with Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen, the talented Toro Rosso Formula 1 team driver, has today signed a personal partnership agreement with Exact, a global frontrunner in cloud-based business software for small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The partnership underlines a match on drive, mentality and ambition between the Dutch driver, whose sights are set on a top podium finish, and the Dutch software company that is focused on becoming a global top three player in business software in the cloud for SMEs.

The 17-year old driver is the youngest in the history of Formula 1 to have scored championship points in a race, but his ambitions are aimed higher.

These winning ambitions symbolize the same desires that Exact holds for its software portfolio, to enable its customers and their accountants to grow to the max through better insights and control over their business. Exact supports over 230,000 companies around the globe.

Erik van der Meijden, CEO Exact, commenting on the agreement, said: "The partnership with Max Verstappen is very exciting for the team at Exact. Max’s mentality matches our approach to our customers. Just as our technology enables businesses and their accountants to grow and succeed, Max is dedicated to winning the highest possible award in Formula 1 and is pushing to achieve this.

Success in sport and success in business requires a process of continuous improvement. This is something we will be highlighting in Exact’s global marketing campaigns in which Max will play a leading role. Needless to say we wish Max the best of luck for the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend."

Max Verstappen said: "I am delighted and very proud to be partnering with Exact. The company already has a history with the world of Formula 1, including supporting my father when he was driving. With its relentless focus to never stop improving, the partnership with Exact is a perfect fit from my career perspective in Formula 1. We both want to reach the top of the global stage.

Yes, that can be challenging, but we both know that you cannot force success. You just need to keep following the right path."

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