Latest F1 news in brief – Saturday

  • Verstappen says GPDA a waste of time

    Verstappen slams GPDA and fan survey

  • Rosberg must 'save 2015 championship' – Ecclestone
  • Wolff open to 'solution' if Lotus drops Mercedes power
  • Monza officials meet Ecclestone once again
  • Pirelli waiting for tire tender news
  • Market expert points finger at Ecclestone
  • Wolff says Bottas to wear 'blue or red' in 2016
  • Too early to consider Red Bull move – Sainz

Verstappen slams GPDA and fan survey
(GMM) Max Verstappen has ridiculed the importance of the global fan survey commissioned by his fellow F1 drivers.

The 17-year-old is not a member of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, and told Algemeen Dagblad newspaper he has no intention of joining.

And he said his anti-GPDA stance has only been reinforced in recent weeks following a couple of stoushes in the media about his driving tactics.

"GPDA stands for 'racing united'," said the Dutchman. "But when other drivers are criticizing as much as they are in the media, I think 'Why would you join it?'

"You pay for it and nothing happens then what is the value? And do you really think they are going to listen to a boy of 17, with all of those egos?"

The strong stance is, however, astonishing for what is the youngest ever driver in formula one, but perhaps not when he is often compared to an early Ayrton Senna.

As for the recent criticism directed at him by rival drivers, Verstappen insisted: "I honestly don't care what other people say.

"I do my own thing, my own job," added Max, whose equally-spirited father was in F1 known as 'Jos the Boss'.

Verstappen Jr said he does not regret taking a strong stance against the critics, as they now know he is not a pushover, and "That's important".

As for the GPDA's global fan survey, he dismissed the significance of the results.

"I think that sort of thing is pointless. So much is often discussed, but nothing ever happens. It's been like that for years.

"And if anything is going to change, I don't think it's going to be because of the GPDA," Verstappen insisted.

Bernie wants me to lead the Mercedes row
Bernie wants me to lead the Mercedes row, too funny

Rosberg must 'save 2015 championship' – Ecclestone
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel says Mercedes is still clearly the favorite for British grand prix victory.

On Friday – as is increasingly the case in 2015 – Ferrari looked poised to pose a real challenge to the dominant champions this weekend at Silverstone.

Asked how much he can improve after practice, championship leader Lewis Hamilton said: "Hopefully a lot, because if not then we are in trouble."

But although, after Austria, Ferrari chief Maurizio Arrivabene ordered his cars to practice on Fridays with more representative fuel loads, Vettel says there is another reason for the misleading results.

"We know from Friday to Saturday that Mercedes turns the engine up," the German said. "It is not just Mercedes. If you look at Williams on Friday versus Sunday there is also a massive step."

And even on Friday, although Hamilton was outpaced by both Ferraris, the Briton's teammate Nico Rosberg maintained his recent grip on the top position.

Bernie Ecclestone hopes he can keep it up.

"It is up to Nico to save this championship," the F1 supremo told the Times newspaper. "We need him to keep things alive."

So maybe Ecclestone will be hoping Hamilton's 'rock star' lifestyle will help too, as many have been questioning whether the world champion's full focus is on F1.

"I get energy from all these things that I do. It doesn't take energy from me," Hamilton insisted, when asked about the criticism.

"My 20s went by really quick and I'm trying to make sure I do as much as I can, within my limits, in terms of energy and training and while performing. As long as I keep it balanced, why not?" he added.

Wolff looking for another team if Renault buys Lotus
Wolff looking for another team if Renault buys Lotus

Wolff open to 'solution' if Lotus drops Mercedes power
(GMM) Toto Wolff has indicated Mercedes is ready to be flexible amid rumors Renault is looking to take over Lotus.

Officially, no party is willing to confirm the increasingly-widespread speculation about Renault, the French carmaker, buying back 51 per cent of the Enstone team from Gerard Lopez.

Lopez, however, has been conspicuously absent in 2015, leaving the running of Lotus up to Matthew Carter.

Carter said at Silverstone: "I'm not sure how you missed him but he (Lopez) has certainly been to two if not three of the races this season.

"He's busy on other projects," Carter acknowledged, "and I think he's probably happy with what's going on at the moment and therefore doesn't feel he needs to get involved."

At an apparently crucial moment in history for F1 as the sport seeks to change direction, Carter's comments might only make sense if Lopez has already agreed to move on permanently.

So if Lotus is taken over by Renault, it will mean the team has to breach its engine supply contract with Mercedes.

Asked about that at Silverstone, Mercedes' Wolff said: "At the moment the (Lotus) contract runs from 2015 to 2020.

"If Renault comes in and Lotus wants to get out of the contract, we will find a solution," the forthright Austrian is quoted by Speed Week.

"Renault staying in formula one is in everyone's interests," Wolff added.

If Lotus does drop Mercedes power, it might be a neat solution for the struggling Red Bull, who might suddenly be left without even an underpowered Renault supply.

When asked the possibility of powering Red Bull, Wolff would only say: "We would have to look at the new situation."

Monza officials meet Ecclestone once again
(GMM) Monza is stepping up its campaign to save the embattled Italian grand prix.

After one recent meeting moved Bernie Ecclestone to declare "stalemate", officials of the fabled Autodromo Nazionale met again this week with the F1 supremo.

"It was a positive meeting, which was also attended by Andrea Dell'Orto," Monza official and former F1 driver Ivan Capelli told Italian broadcaster Sky at Silverstone.

Dell'Orto is president of the Confidustria (industry group) of Monza and Brianza.

"Ecclestone told us that if there is an Italian grand prix it is right that it is at Monza," Capelli added.

"We have defined a path that should lead to the renewal of the four-year contract. We must join forces with the city, region and government to find the necessary resources for the signing of the new agreement," he said.

The Lombardy region is already supportive, with president Roberto Maroni heading a campaign to have thousands of signatures added to a petition.

"The goal," Maroni is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport, "is that by September, we bring to the grand prix at Monza a truckload of signatures, so that Ecclestone knows that Monza is Monza.

"We want him to renew the agreement with the circuit without the exorbitant and absolutely unsustainable demands so far," he added.

Pirelli's proposed 18" wheels look hideous
Pirelli's proposed 18" wheels look hideous

Pirelli waiting for tire tender news
(GMM) Paul Hembery says he is waiting to know if Pirelli will remain F1's official tire supplier beyond 2016.

"No news yet," the Briton, who is the Italian company's F1 chief, said at Silverstone.

Pirelli is going head-to-head with former F1 supplier Michelin for the 2017-2020 contract.

"As I understand it," Hembery explained, "the next stage (of the selection process) will begin on July 17."

It is on that date that the FIA will apparently declare whether the applicants are technically competent, and be forwarded to Bernie Ecclestone for commercial negotiations.

"That'll be the tricky bit," Hembery smiled.

The clear favorite, however, is Pirelli, as Ecclestone, FIA president Jean Todt and most of the teams are believed to be unimpressed with Michelin demanding the move to 18-inch wheels.

"I think it would be wrong to allow tire companies to dictate what formula one should or should not accept," admitted McLaren boss Eric Boullier.

But Hembery said Pirelli is in fact open to moving to a wider rear tire, as F1 seeks to speed up to the tune of 5-6 seconds per lap for 2017.

"More aggressive cars with wider tires is the right way forward," F1 legend and Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda told Bild newspaper.

Ecclestone's reaction when he heard the market experts opinion
Ecclestone's likely reaction when he heard the market experts opinion

Market expert points finger at Ecclestone
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone and formula one are being left behind by the "digital generation".

That is the view of Lars Stegelmann, an executive of the market intelligence experts Repucom.

Commissioned by the F1 drivers' union GPDA, Repucom headed the recent global fan survey.

Speaking to the German news agency DPA, Stegelmann said that in his view, one of the issues faced by F1 is that its image is "dominated" by "one man" — its 84-year-old chief executive and so-called supremo.

"The negative headlines are heaping up around him," Stegelmann said, referring to Ecclestone.

He said the diminutive Briton's advancing age might be an issue, which is "reflected in the statements and actions of specific target groups".

"I am thinking in particular of the so-called 'digital generation'," he added.

Stegelmann said it is in this area that F1 is falling badly behind.

"We all know the changes that have happened in the past decade with digital media," he said. "Formula one did not go along with it.

"On the contrary: according to Ecclestone he does not consider this target group because it is not a source of income. However, it is not just the 14 to 29-year-olds in the digital world, but increasingly the age groups above it.

"In this respect, these statements and actions by Ecclestone were certainly not productive," Stegelmann added.

Bottas: Red or blue in 2016
Bottas: Red or blue in 2016

Wolff says Bottas to wear 'blue or red' in 2016
(GMM) Toto Wolff has confirmed speculation Valtteri Bottas will either keep driving for Williams next year or switch to Ferrari.

Wolff, who is Mercedes' F1 chief, is also involved in the management of Bottas' career.

The Finn is strongly linked with a move to Ferrari next year to replace his struggling countryman Kimi Raikkonen.

But Raikkonen's manager, Steve Robertson, said at Silverstone that the 2007 world champion still has time to bounce back.

"What I do know is that the situation is still in Kimi's hands," he told Turun Sanomat newspaper.

"Let's see what the next couple of races brings and go from there," added Robertson.

"Sometimes it's like this: try as you might, nothing seems to go to plan. It happens in sport just as it happens in life.

"But hopefully Kimi will perform very well this weekend and then continue in Hungary. Then we'll see what happens," he said.

If Raikkonen continues to struggle, though, the Bottas speculation will only increase.

"The question is whether he will be in blue like your microphone or red like your shirt," Wolff, 25-year-old Bottas' manager, joked to a reporter for the Finnish broadcaster MTV3.

Asked to have a "guess" as to what will happen for 2016, the Austrian answered: "I'm not in the speculation business.

"We have to remember how much Valtteri owes to Williams. It is a great team that can win," Wolff insisted.

"On the other hand Ferrari is an icon of the sport and one of the biggest teams so it is an attractive option.

"We have to take the time and work it out. Then it's either this (blue microphone) or that (red shirt)," he smiled.

Sainz Jr.
Sainz Jr.

Too early to consider Red Bull move – Sainz
(GMM) Carlos Sainz Jr. says he is not getting his hopes up about a potential move to Red Bull's senior team for 2016.

With Red Bull Racing's Daniel Ricciardo linked with a move to Ferrari, there could be an opportunity for a Toro Rosso driver to make the step up.

But 20-year-old Sainz, who like his teenage teammate Max Verstappen has been impressive on debut in 2015, said it is "not the time to think about that".

"Something like that is far away," he is quoted by the Spanish news agency EFE, "so if it really is an option, it is not the time now to think about it".

"I'm still at my ninth race in formula one," Sainz added, "I have so much to learn, so many circuits to know and so I can't also be worrying about a seat at Red Bull.

"Dreaming is free," he added, "but it is not the time to think about it."

Indeed, more energy at Red Bull will be being spent at present on the basic future of the company in F1, amid rumors works engine partner Renault is moving on.

Indeed, Dr Helmut Marko hinted at Silverstone that Red Bull is increasingly less involved in Renault's engine program.

"We are chassis people," he told Speed Week. "The engine side is entirely Renault.

"We supported Renault in the winter and the start of the season as much as possible, primarily in the area of simulation. We introduced Mario Illien to them, but what is done in the end, Renault will decide," Marko added.

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