Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Bottas not right for Ferrari?

    Bottas not right choice for Ferrari – Surer

  • German broadcasters keen to keep F1
  • Title impossible for 'customer' team like Williams – Dennis
  • Dennis defends McLaren management
  • Mexico F1 renovations '90pc complete'
  • Monaco crash gave Verstappen more confidence
  • Pirelli wants more testing to spice up F1
  • Renault did not deliver power unit 'promises' – Horner
  • Horner wants return of F1 'Procar' series
  • Sochi: Date change will increase attendance

Bottas not right choice for Ferrari – Surer
(GMM) Ferrari should leave Kimi Raikkonen behind, according to former F1 driver Marc Surer.

However, Surer – now a pundit for German television – believes the Finn is in theory an ideal teammate for Sebastian Vettel.

"Kimi is the ideal number 2," he told Speed Week. "No politics, always fair. But I think this is just no longer the Kimi of old."

According to the rumor mill, the candidates are already lining up at Maranello's door, and the big favorite is fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas.

But Surer said: "For me, Bottas is slower than (Felipe) Massa — a driver Ferrari got rid of two years ago. If they take Bottas, they're taking a step back.

"I think the best choice would be Nico Hulkenberg, but I get the impression that Ferrari doesn't want two Germans," he added.

German broadcasters keen to keep F1
(GMM) F1's German TV broadcasters insist they remain keen to keep the sport on television.

With the German grand prix missing in 2015, it has been rumored that dwindling TV ratings could mean RTL and Sky also lose interest.

The current contracts expire at the end of this year.

But a spokesman for Sky Deutschland told Speed Week: "We announce something when there is something to announce.

"But we make no secret of the fact that, even after 20 years, we see formula one is a great sport and we are interested in continuing this partnership."

And a spokesman for free-to-air broadcaster RTL added: "We are in negotiations and do not feel under pressure. The talks can theoretically continue until the end of the year."

Meanwhile, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff says there is no doubt that, even though Germany is missing from the 2015 calendar, it will be back next season.

Indeed, the FIA has scheduled a German race for next July, and Wolff told the Independent newspaper: "We will be in Germany next year.

"The race is 100 per cent going to happen," business journalists Christian Sylt and Katy Fairman quoted him as saying. "The budget is there, it is a fact."

Dennis puts down customer team like Williams, while Williams buries his team week-in and week-out. Too funny.

Title impossible for 'customer' team like Williams – Dennis
(GMM) Ron Dennis has admitted he "definitely" expected McLaren-Honda to be performing better than it is at the mid-season point of 2015.

"We had every reason to think that we would be in a better situation than the one we find ourselves in," the Woking team's supremo explained in the latest edition of Autosprint, an Italian specialist magazine.

But Dennis insists that switching from Mercedes, the field-leading 'power unit' makers, to the struggling Honda camp was the right choice for the future.

"Our goal is to win the world championship," he said, "and that objective would not be within our reach if we continued with a customer engine.

"Today we are not at the level we want to be, but I am certain we will get there sooner than people think," added Dennis.

However, although the dominance of the McLaren-Honda of the 80s is fabled, the Japanese carmaker's more recent F1 foray was considered a failure.

But Dennis says it would be wrong to suppose that 2015 so far is an indication that Honda will once again fail to conquer F1 in the modern era.

"Even Mercedes took time to make their current team competitive," he insisted. "And at the beginning of our collaboration with Mercedes, things were not easy. We are facing a similar challenge now."

Dennis said the team must go through the difficulties of this current period, because being a 'customer' of Mercedes or Ferrari is no route to success.

"Look at qualifying at Silverstone," he said. "The factory team was almost a second faster than Williams. With a customer engine, you will never be able to close that gap.

"These engines are so complex that the systems must be in absolute harmony with the chassis. It requires a total commitment on the part of the suppliers and technical partners.

"That's why I preferred the road with Honda. Because even though it will take some time, it is the best possibility for McLaren to return to the top.

"It's just going to take a little more time than we would have liked," admitted Dennis.

Dennis defends his backmarker team

Dennis defends McLaren management
(GMM) Ron Dennis has defended the management structure at McLaren.

The Woking outfit's supremo recently denounced Eddie Jordan as the "village idiot" of F1, after he suggested the bosses are one reason the Honda-powered team is struggling in 2015.

Dennis told the latest edition of Italy's Autosprint magazine that he is fully supportive of Eric Boullier and Jonathan Neale, who are today directly responsible for the F1 team.

"I come to the grands prix," he explained, "but I am the chief executive of the entire group, which includes things other than formula one.

"Of course, F1 is a very critical part of the whole business, but I have no direct duties. I observe, I participate in meetings, but I am independent.

"My opinion is respected, I have a lot of experience to bear, but I don't like to interfere. My role is to keep the team together and prevent it from breaking into factions.

"The team is managed well," Dennis insisted. "From the point of view of management, I would say this is one of the best periods in the history of McLaren, even though that may seem strange as the results are very bad at the moment.

"Even the drivers understand that, which you can see from their positive attitude," he added.

"The activities in F1 is the public face of McLaren, and over the next few months we will be proud of how quickly we managed to recover. I have no doubt about that," said Dennis.

Mexico F1 renovations '90pc complete'
(GMM) Mexico is right on track for its return to formula one this November.

The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, not seen on the F1 calendar since 1992, is currently being extensively renovated for its 2015 return.

The fabled and fearsome Peraltada corner has gone, but in a new visit to the site, the FIA's Charlie Whiting says he is happy with progress.

"I am impressed with the progress and quality of the work in general," he is quoted by Spain's El Mundo Deportivo.

"I was here barely a month ago and the progress is significant," Whiting added, saying he is "confident" the track will be ready for its November 1 race.

Another notable visitor to the track was FIA president Jean Todt, coinciding with the recent World Motor Sport Council meeting in Mexico City.

Christian Epp, in charge of the project on behalf of Hermann Tilke, was quoted as saying the reconstructed facility is now 75-90 per cent complete.

Verstappen's eyes opened plenty wide as the Monaco barrier approached

Monaco crash gave Verstappen more confidence
(GMM) Max Verstappen says his big crash at Monaco helped him to find a new level in formula one.

Many people – particularly 17-year-old rookies – might have been forgiven for giving in to fear as Monaco's fearsome Ste Devote barrier loomed large at well over 200kph.

"I didn't have time to think very much," the young Dutchman laughed to Brazil's Globo. "The only thing I thought was to get ready for a very big impact."

But when it was over, Verstappen says he actually found a new source of confidence, notwithstanding those who criticized him.

"After the accident," he explained, "I understood more about the car, and F1. I realized, for example, that the car is really safe and you can really give everything.

"After Monaco I had a leap of performance because I could change my concept of the limit," added Verstappen.

While some continue to worry about Verstappen's age, inexperience and apparent bravado, the Toro Rosso driver himself is confident he is ready.

"Many boys would like to do what I've done," he said. "But it is quite difficult, which is something I can say honestly.

"I had the opportunity to learn a lot from a young age from a father who was an F1 driver. It's a school that other boys don't really have.

"My experience at 17 is much higher than other guys of the same age."

Verstappen's controversial debut, however, motivated the FIA to clamp down on its super license rules.

And now the governing body is moving to similarly clamp down on its premier F3 class, following a spat of dangerous crashes in 2015.

Asked if he agrees that F3 drivers should get more experience in the junior classes below it, Verstappen said: "Yes, I agree. After the serious accidents we have seen, which is really not positive for F3, I think it's important."

That might sound contradictory, given that between late 2013 and late 2014, Verstappen rose all the way from karts to the very pinnacle of motor sport.

"When I think about it," Verstappen admitted, "I am impressed at the speed at which things have happened to me. I don't think it's easy to do what I have done."

He is also thriving in the high-pressure environment of the Red Bull program, run by the blunt and often brutal taskmaster Dr Helmut Marko.

"Honestly I don't feel it," Verstappen said, when asked about the pressure, and the criticism. "I've never felt it. I just focus on doing my best.

"Other drivers, the media — everyone can say what they want about me. Of course, I have great support from the team, which is very important.

"But in the end, you have to believe the most in yourself and not care about what they're saying about you."

He is confident, for example, that with the current Mercedes, he would be matching Nico Rosberg and even Lewis Hamilton.

"Definitely. 100 per cent for sure," said Verstappen. "If I had a chance like that, I don't think I would have trouble making the most of it."

He has already been linked with a sensational move to Ferrari, and even the 17-year-old is not ruling it out.

"I don't know," said Verstappen when asked if he will be at Toro Rosso in 2016. "If other opportunities come up, of course I will think about it.

"At the moment I am happy where I am. As for next year, I don't know. I have a contract with Red Bull but it's difficult to predict what will happen."

Pirelli wants more testing to spice up F1
(GMM) Pirelli has vowed to try to spice up next year's grands prix.

In 2015, criticism of the F1 'show' has come from all quarters, but a big factor contributing to the excitement of the racing is undoubtedly the rubber on the road.

The sport's sole supplier aims for two to three pitstops per driver per race, but Pirelli has actually been notably conservative in the new 'power unit' era, with better durability meaning the ideal strategy has usually been one-stoppers.

F1 chief Paul Hembery admitted to Sky: "We are not where we need to be this year and it is true that the requirement is for two or three(-stop races).

"So we are not quite hitting the mark, but then we have no testing ability. We have zero testing ability so it is ok to sometimes ask us to do things, but we also need the ability to do our job," he added.

Renault has yet to figure out Mercedes' trick power unit

Renault did not deliver power unit 'promises' – Horner
(GMM) Christian Horner has admitted the rocky relationship between Red Bull and Renault is due to a loss of "patience".

"A lot has been said and written about the relationship between Red Bull Racing and Renault," he acknowledged in an interview with France's Auto Hebdo.

Indeed, team boss Horner's comments come at a well-publicized crossroads, as Renault is said to be considering buying the Lotus team, while Red Bull is reportedly in talks with Ferrari and Mercedes.

Asked what would happen if Renault leaves F1 altogether, the Briton answered: "If we are not able to change to another brand of engines, then we would have to leave the championship" as well.

As for Red Bull's role in potentially turning Renault away, Horner said Cyril Abiteboul has actually masterminded a "large-scale restructuring", and fevered work is taking place at Viry.

"Our problem is that we do not have the patience," the Red Bull chief admitted.

"We want to immediately get back to where we were, or at least as quickly as possible. But improving an engine takes much more time than with the chassis," Horner said.

"As for us, the disappointment came in the winter, when we were expecting significant progress that didn't come," he added.

Asked if Renault has dropped the ball in terms of the money spent, or the expertise of personnel, Horner answered: "It's difficult to answer that question on behalf of Renault.

"But in the last five years, Renault engines have won four titles and so definitely they don't like the situation either. The next few weeks will be important," he added.

Red Bull chiefs, however, have been saying that for quite some time, just as Dr Helmut Marko and Dietrich Mateschitz have been making comments indicating their patience is now at an end.

"Dietrich and Helmut are very straightforward and honest," Horner explained. "They have never spoken through dry press releases — they express their thoughts very clearly and without hiding anything.

"And what they are feeling is deep disappointment.

"You have to understand that a lot of promises were made and not all of them were delivered. In Milton-Keynes we know the ability of Renault, so to close our eyes and say nothing would not be right.

"Some of the problems have existed for a long time and, despite our warnings, were not resolved," said Horner.

Not only that, Horner said it was Renault who arguably pushed hardest for the current 'power unit' regulations it is now struggling so notably to master.

"They insisted on the turbo V6 engine and warned that they could leave the championship if formula one went the other way," he revealed.

"We win and lose together, but Renault made a serious error in assessing what should have been done. Again, it is difficult to accept that Renault underestimated these rules when it was at the forefront of implementing them."

Horner

Horner wants return of F1 'Procar' series
(GMM) The return of a 'Procar' series would be one way to make heroes of today's F1 drivers.

That is the view of Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, who acknowledged that the modern era makes it difficult for the grand prix stars to show their true characters.

"With all these social networks, they've become very reserved and taken a defensive position," the Briton said during a wide-ranging interview with France's Auto Hebdo.

"Whatever they're doing, there will always be someone with a phone ready to upload it to social media, so I understand that it's difficult to be a James Hunt these days.

"But I think the teams should encourage the drivers to be more accessible to the fans, talk a little more about their character. Everyone should know who these 'gladiators' actually are."

In the past, one way the public became to idolize their motor racing heroes was by seeing them jump between categories, like F1, F2, Indycars and prototypes.

When asked about that, Horner said: "I would like to see something like the Procar championship of the late 70s."

In 1979 and 1980, F1 drivers went head-to-head with rivals from other top categories in identical BMW M1 road cars, with the inaugural championship supporting grand prix weekends won by Niki Lauda.

Horner said: "I know that today there are commercial obligations and other factors to consider, but it's an interesting idea nonetheless.

"Why not invite former drivers to take part? It would be interesting to see the battle between the old and the new generation of stars.

"The drivers today have never had so much time on their hands on the race weekends, and it seems to me that the fans and the promoters would like to see it," he added.

Sochi: Date change will increase attendance
Organizers of the Russian Grand Prix believe that the event's date change from 2016 will act as a boost to the race at Sochi Autodrom.

Russia made its debut on the Formula 1 calendar last October with a race around the former Winter Olympics venue in Sochi.

This year's Russian Grand Prix will be held on October 11th, but next year's race is scheduled for May 1, a week after the Bahrain Grand Prix, and organizers say that such a change will be beneficial for the event.

"May is the most appropriate time for hosting an event at such a popular resort as Sochi," a circuit spokesperson told GPUpdate.net.

"The Grand Prix on the May holidays will increase attendance further. More people will come to Sochi and enjoy this event which promises to be special thanks to a wide range of entertainment activities."

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