Latest F1 news in brief – Friday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

06/12/15

  • Would Ricciardo break his Red Bull contract to drive for Ferrari?

    Button hopes drivers consulted over F1 future

  • Le Mans for 'real men' – Hulkenberg
  • Marchionne vows to help Monza save F1 race
  • Marchionne tips Mercedes to 'be reasonable'
  • Williams expects strong weekend in Austria
  • Ricciardo 'definitely' staying at Red Bull – Marko
  • Missing practice hurts Grosjean 'quite a lot'
  • Renault plays down fifth engine penalties
  • Mansell yearns for F1's good old days New
  • Whiting Pleased With Repairs At COTA, Gives Stamp Of Approval For U.S. Grand Prix New

Button hopes drivers consulted over F1 future
(GMM) Jenson Button hopes drivers are consulted as formula one steps into a more exciting future.

Acknowledging some of the problems with the rules and the current generation of cars, F1 intends to slash 5-6 seconds from average laptimes from 2017.

2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen admitted that would be "nice".

"I'm sure something has to be done to make it more exciting for people to watch and also to really see the speed and make it a little bit more dangerous," the Finn said in an interview with French broadcaster Canal Plus.

F1 legend Nigel Mansell, the 1992 title winner, agrees that the direction the sport has taken has removed some of the "magic" of the past.

"We need a bit of magic," the 61-year-old is quoted by Express newspaper. "Let the drivers drive and race the cars like we used to."

The concerned group of current drivers recently commissioned an online global fan survey, and director Sebastian Vettel said this week the results will be fed back to the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone.

As for whether the drivers are being directly consulted as to the shape of the eventual rules revolution for 2017, Jenson Button said: "Not yet but I'm sure we will be.

"I think we've got a lot to give, a lot of opinions about how to make the sport better for us but also for everyone else.

"I think there's a lot that can be done," Button, F1's most experienced active driver, added. "With the experience that we have of driving different cars and putting ourselves in different situations, we can help out."

He acknowledged, however, that the 2017 revolution will have its limits, particularly as the current turbo V6 'power unit' era is locked in for now.

"For me, the best years from a driver's point of view was 2004," said Button. "We had V10 engines, three liter, 900hp, they revved to 21,000rpm, we had a tire war. It was great — but times change.

"The costs and everything have to be taken into account and I don't really know where that puts us for the future," the McLaren-Honda driver added.

Monisha Kaltenborn, the boss and co-owner of the struggling independent team Sauber, agrees that costs are an issue.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that the current proposals, involving widening the cars and tires, reducing weight and increasing downforce "could cost EUR 10 million extra", Kaltenborn said.

The motivation to spice up the sport, however, is high.

"To say that (Bernie) Ecclestone, myself and the rest of the teams are happy with the development of the sport over the last four or five years would be wrong," Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne is quoted by Spain's El Confidencial.

LeMans for 'real mean'
LeMans for 'real mean'

Le Mans for 'real men' – Hulkenberg
(GMM) Le Mans is a circuit for "real men" of motor racing.

That is the claim of Nico Hulkenberg, who has qualified a strong third overall for his debut in the fabled 24 hour race set to take place this weekend.

"Driving here is fascinating," the German, who is combining his part-time Porsche seat this year with formula one, is quoted by Brazil's Globo.

"It's an old track, for real men," Hulkenberg smiled. "You really have to pay attention!"

As for the difference between endurance sports car racing and F1, he said: "It is different, but it's not that hard to get used to.

"When you hear 'endurance', you think of saving the car and tires. But very quickly I learned that's not right. The tires are very consistent and this enables you to really push," added Hulkenberg.

The 27-year-old revealed that he has been helped on his learning curve by Porsche stablemate Mark Webber, who left formula one completely at the end of 2013.

The plain-speaking Australian is among those who regret the direction F1 has moved in over the past half-decade.

"When they changed the rules and with (tire supplier) Pirelli, the G-forces plummeted," he is quoted by Spain's El Confidencial.

"Suddenly, the drivers could be 30 per cent less fit. For us, the most demanding period for speeds, braking and cornering was the mid-2000s.

"The stands were full because the cars looked and sounded fantastic and were difficult to drive," Webber added.

Marchionne vows to help Monza save F1 race
(GMM) Sergio Marchionne has vowed to help Monza keep its fabled Italian grand prix.

Although an important home race for Ferrari, it has however been said that the Maranello marque would not mind if Monza leaves the F1 calendar, as it would open the door for a race at its own Mugello circuit.

But Marchionne, the new Ferrari president, said in Canada last weekend that: "For my part, Monza will not fail.

"If they have problems then we should talk to Bernie (Ecclestone)," he added.

F1 chief Ecclestone has warned that Monza must pay more if it wants to stay on the calendar, but a meeting with race chiefs at Monza recently resulted in stalemate.

Marchionne, however, said he wants to help.

"If I consider the prospects for Monza, I think the race will not be excluded from the championship," he is quoted by Italy's Autosprint.

"If, in order to have this guarantee, we will have to intervene in the negotiations with Ecclestone, we will do that," Marchionne added.

As for this year's Monza race, Marchionne announced that the fabled Autodromo Nazionale in September will be the scene of the next engine update for Ferrari's 2015 car.

"I am satisfied with the hard work the team has already done," he said, "but we must continue to develop the car with constant technical innovations and Monza will be the next key step in the program."

Marchionne thinks Mercedes' Toto Wolff will agree to give up its advantage - too funny
Marchionne thinks Mercedes' Toto Wolff will agree to give up its advantage – too funny

Marchionne tips Mercedes to 'be reasonable'
(GMM) Sergio Marchionne has tipped Mercedes to be "reasonable" as the sport looks to tweak the engine freeze rules.

In recent days, Red Bull chief Christian Horner has warned that unless the current restrictions on engine development are relaxed, the team's partner Renault could quit the sport.

But a lot will depend on Mercedes, F1's dominant force who might appear unlikely to agree to any changes that will require unanimity.

"Toto (Wolff) is not going to want to change anything," Horner warned recently.

McLaren-Honda's Eric Boullier, however, thinks the Mercedes chief is already "listening", as Wolff and Niki Lauda are also "concerned about formula one".

Ferrari president Marchionne agrees.

"I think Mercedes understands that to regard the rules as a way to protect a position is not right," he is quoted by Spain's Marca.

"People who think you can keep an advantage forever should remember what happened to us at Ferrari," Marchionne added, referring to the fabled team's slump in the wake of the Schumacher era.

"We spent some horrible years that we are coming out of now. Nothing is permanent," he is also quoted by Spain's El Confidencial.

"So Ferrari was as guilty as Mercedes is now," he said. "Let's be reasonable about this and ensure we do not lose everything in the meantime."

Williams expects strong weekend in Austria
(GMM) Williams' race drivers expect their resurgence from the Monaco slump to hit an even higher gear in Austria next weekend.

The British team struggled notably on the twisty turns of Monaco, but then bounced back strongly in Canada as Valtteri Bottas scored his first podium of 2015.

And now, Williams is working on an update package to debut in Austria.

"The track should suit our car," Finn Bottas told the Austrian news agency APA.

Last year, the race at the Red Bull Ring was Bottas' first podium appearance.

"You will never forget your first podium," he said. "Now I want my first win, even though I know it will be difficult this year."

That is due to Mercedes' dominance and the resurgence of Ferrari, but Bottas' teammate Felipe Massa said the Williams car and Mercedes engine will be strong in Austria next weekend.

"It's a track where the efficiency of the engine is important," said the Brazilian, "and cars with low drag work well there, and normally our car is one of the best."

Indeed, Massa even started the 2014 race from pole position, as teammate Bottas said: "I hope we can repeat those sorts of results from Austria this year."

Ricciardo contemplates his future
Ricciardo contemplates his future

Ricciardo 'definitely' staying at Red Bull – Marko
(GMM) Red Bull has ruled Daniel Ricciardo out of the running for a Ferrari seat in 2016.

Already linked with the place currently occupied by Kimi Raikkonen, Australian Ricciardo fired the Ferrari rumors even more in Canada when he admitted his growing frustration with Red Bull.

"For my career, I need to be aware of what's happening," he said. "I don't want to be one of the champions who never was."

Team boss Christian Horner, however, played down the prospect of losing Ricciardo at the end of the year, insisting the 25-year-old has a "long term" deal.

And Dr Helmut Marko, boss of Red Bull's driver program, has now told Germany's Sport Bild: "Daniel has a bulletproof contract with us."

He said there is "nothing at all" to the current rumors of Ricciardo's departure.

"He will definitely be with us in 2016," Marko announced.

And Even Ricciardo admits he is committed to Red Bull for 2016.

"I'll be here next year and we'll see how we go," he told the Telegraph newspaper in Canada last week.

Missing practice hurts Grosjean 'quite a lot'
(GMM) Romain Grosjean admitted recently that sitting out Friday practice sessions this year affects his preparation for races.

After some early appearances in 2015, Lotus reserve Jolyon Palmer then sat out Friday practice in Monaco and Canada.

But the reigning GP2 champion's management announced on Wednesday that the 24-year-old Briton will be back in action in Austria and beyond, for the forthcoming five-run run through the 'European season' of 2015.

"Hopefully we can keep up the good work and make more progress these upcoming races," Palmer said.

But a controversy emerged recently when Lotus' regular race driver Grosjean reportedly complained that teammate Pastor Maldonado should also share the load by sitting out some Friday practice sessions.

The strongly PDVSA-sponsored Maldonado, however, is holding firm, insisting his contract guarantees him every session on the 2015 calendar.

In April, Grosjean said he understood that Lotus also needs to bank the backing that is also being brought to the team by Palmer, the son of former F1 driver and British circuit magnate Jonathan Palmer.

"We have an economic reality today that means F1 is not easy," said the Frenchman. "And the teams need to look at every possible solution to finance the budgets."

But as it became clearer that Grosjean would be sitting out many more Fridays this season, he admitted it hurts his preparation for the races.

"It does affect you quite a lot," the 29-year-old admitted recently.

"FP1 is normally when you test new aero parts," said Grosjean, "and you get a first idea of the car and can do a setup change for FP2."

He said that missing the first session means it is "much harder to choose the right setup and then make some changes overnight".

"Yeah, it does affect you," Grosjean added, "that's why I believe not everyone is doing it. The more time you spend in the car the better, especially when you have very little testing in a year."

Renault engine cars run at the back anyway, so a 10-grid penalty on the grid does not hurt much at all
Renault engine cars run at the back anyway, so a 10-grid penalty on the grid does not hurt much at all

Renault plays down fifth engine penalties
(GMM) Renault has played down the impact of the ten-place grid penalties now being served by its F1 customers.

The penalties are due to the sport's long-life engine rules, this year limiting each driver to just four 'power units' for the entire 19-race calendar.

With dire reliability trouble, the Renault-powered cars burned through their allocations within the first third of 2015, and Toro Rosso's Max Verstappen was the first to serve penalties for installing a fifth engine in Canada.

Now, Red Bull's Christian Horner has admitted that, for the same reason, Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat look set to start the team's home race in Austria next weekend at the back of the grid.

Nonetheless, Renault's F1 chief Cyril Abiteboul is looking into the future with confidence.

He said the French marque is finally on top of its reliability problems, so now it will be "back to the performance plan that we have on the shelf for the remainder of the season".

And as for the penalties, Abiteboul said starting down the grid is not the end of the world.

"We don't see that as something that is a huge penalty," the Frenchman said recently.

"I know there is a lot of frustration but ten places penalty in tracks where you can overtake, basically if you have a car out of place at the start you can quite easily make it up during the race.

"So I'm sorry for my customer teams, but I don't think it's a big game changer to the championship," said Abiteboul.

Indeed, Verstappen seemed to demonstrate that in Canada, where he served multiple penalties.

He arrived in Montreal with a five-place demotion for his Monaco crash, and as he could not drop the full ten places down for the fifth engine, he served a further 10-second penalty in the race.

But Verstappen ultimately finished only three places behind his teammate Carlos Sainz.

"Max did a very good race," said team boss Franz Tost, "because, despite all of his penalties, he was still able to catch up."

Mansell yearns for F1's good old days
Nigel Mansell says the titanium screws in his left shoulder are a reminder of Formula One’s “good old days" when drivers were not pampered with electronic aids.

The 1992 world champion believes gadgets like Drag Reduction Technology (DRS) and thinner, less grippy tires have taken the thrill out of F1, leaving both fans and drivers short-changed.

“We need a bit of magic," Mansell, who won 31 grands prix, told Sky Sports yesterday.

“Let the drivers drive and race the cars like we used to.

“Some of the rules need tweaking, DRS is a false overtaking aid in my opinion and doesn’t give the driver the opportunity to slipstream properly and demonstrate a bit of a chess game and perhaps plan lap by lap, where to pass.

“Also, although Pirelli have done a great job with the tires on what they’ve been asked to do I think they should go back to the old tires where they had plenty of grip.

“Then if a driver wants to deliver the car into a corner and brake really late, put the power on and get sideways he can do it. It’s very exciting for the fans to watch that."

Mansell said the power steering in today’s F1 cars means the penalties for hitting curbs or going off line are too light.

“All the tracks I drove on were before all the changes and we had a lot of dangerous corners," he said. “We used to go flying into corners knowing if we got it wrong we would have a massive accident so we respected the car and the corners. If we hit the curb too hard the feedback would actually tweak your wrists and you could damage yourself. We had to do physical training just to be able to hang on to the car, now drivers can drive with a couple of fingers."

Lewis Hamilton has already surpassed Mansell’s total of wins and could break Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world titles. “Lewis is a great world champion but there are many more great world champions as well, it’s just that he’s got the unbelievable backing of an incredible manufacturer," he said.

Austin gets stamp of approval
Austin gets stamp of approval

F1's Whiting Pleased With Repairs At COTA, Gives Stamp Of Approval For U.S. Grand Prix
Circuit of the Americas yesterday "received the stamp of approval" from F1 Race Dir Charlie Whiting for the Oct. 23-25 U.S. Grand Prix, according to Sean Shapiro of the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN.

Whiting said, "This has been one of the best (tracks). Without a doubt. It’s purpose-built, and there aren’t ever any real concerns." The curbs at COTA yesterday "were getting the heavy look-over from Whiting." Fixing the artificial turf along some of COTA’s run-off areas "was a priority" after the '14 race, when some of the turf was "torn up by cars." Whiting also "inspected the walls and barriers" at COTA. Overall, the inspection "went rather smooth.

F1 officials also are "happy with how Austin has embraced the race, something that was lacking when the U.S. Grand Prix was held in Indianapolis" from '00-07. Whiting: "Everyone has been very, very pleasantly surprised about Austin in general. Because it’s a lot different, I believe, than many of the other places we’ve run Formula 1 (in America). The city really embraces it, just like it is in Montreal … that wasn’t the case in other places."

Whiting would like to "find another American city that will embrace F1 like Austin." He said that COTA has "helped the sport grow in North America, and that another race in America would push the popularity more." Austin American Statesman

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