Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • No guarantee Button will want to come back for one race in such a slow carr
    No guarantee Button will want to come back for one race in such a slow car

    Button not only option to replace Alonso

  • Indy 500 'not step away from F1' – Alonso
  • Mick Schumacher 'not ready for F1' yet
  • Salo hails Alonso's Indy 500 move
  • Active suspension would spice up overtaking – Brawn
  • Andretti: Alonso's oval inexperience no concern
  • Wolff expects 'ping-pong' battle with Ferrari
  • Barrichello warns Alonso, "Expect the unexpected" at Indy
  • Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport announces new partnership agreement with TIBCO

Button not only option to replace Alonso
(GMM) Jenson Button appears in pole position to step in and contest next month's Monaco grand prix for McLaren.

It comes after the British team and Fernando Alonso shocked the motor racing world on Wednesday by announcing that the Spaniard will race a McLaren-Honda entry at the fabled Indy 500.

The oval race coincides with F1's equally fabled Monaco grand prix, and recently retired Button – who has a McLaren contract this year – seems the obvious choice to replace Alonso.

But McLaren executive Zak Brown on Wednesday admitted he doesn't know if the 2009 world champion has even driven the 2017 car in McLaren's simulator.

And the 37-year-old driver also cheekily played down the speculation, writing "Why do I have so many missed calls?" on his Twitter.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said McLaren-Honda juniors Lando Norris and Nobuharu Matsushita might also be in the running.

"We have a good idea of who to put in the car, and we will make a decision no later than the end of the month," said Brown. "Possibly earlier.

"The conversations are running and we have different options."

Indy 500 'not step away from F1' – Alonso

Alonso will be happy to be competitive, but then will go back to F1 to be uncompetitive
Alonso will be happy to be competitive at Indy, but then will go back to F1 and be stuck being uncompetitive in a series where the car, not the athlete, is almost everything

(GMM) Fernando Alonso insists his decision to skip next month's prestigious Monaco grand prix does not indicate his commitment to F1 is flagging.

"No, it (Indy) is a single race," said the Spaniard, after he and McLaren-Honda shocked the racing world on Wednesday by announcing they will contest the Indy 500 next month.

The dates of the Indy 500 and Monaco clash, and McLaren executive Zak Brown smiled: "Unfortunately it is not possible to have one driver at two separate events."

Others interpret Alonso's move as a clear step away from F1, particularly with his three-year McLaren-Honda contract coming to an end this year.

"Will this influence my renewal? No," he is quoted by El Mundo Deportivo.

"Nor does it bring me closer to McLaren or away from F1. It's not the feeling I have," said Alonso.

Indeed, he said his commitment to F1 remains high, with his target to "prove that I am the best and that I prepared myself better than ever".

"I have been ultra-competitive with the level that we currently have in the first two races. This (the Indy 500) is a champions final, a gift, an opportunity and we have to take advantage of it," Alonso explained.

"But my main objective is to fight for the third world championship. Without a doubt. F1 is my life and it's what I'm going to continue to do.

"All my skills have been developed around F1, and I cannot expect that overnight I will be better than a driver of another category.

"I do not have the frustration that maybe you can feel from the outside. I would like to win, of course, but it is not the frustration that maybe someone else would feel," Alonso added.

Mick Schumacher 'not ready for F1' yet

Mick Schumacher - nice kid but now F1 material
Mick Schumacher – nice kid but is he F1 material?

(GMM) Mick Schumacher has admitted he is "not ready" to start thinking about the big step into formula one.

The son of F1 legend Michael Schumacher turned 18 in March — the age of 2017 rookie Lance Stroll, and older than Max Verstappen was when he made his F1 debut.

"They took the step to go early into formula one but I'm not ready for it yet," Schumacher told the German business newspaper Handelsblatt.

Indeed, Schumacher is just stepping out of Formula 4, where he failed to win a title.

"It hasn't worked out yet," he said. "Probably I am not consistent enough. But my goal in the next few years is to win, of course."

That winning will have to happen in the top European F3 category, from which the likes of Verstappen and Stroll launched their F1 careers.

Schumacher said: "It is my first year so for me it is about learning and trying to be at the front in the rookie ranking."

So when it comes to F1, Schumacher said: "(For) now I'm doing my thing. I still have to prove myself as a driver and improve a bit further."

European F3 is one prominent place where young drivers can amass the F1 'super license' points they need, but Schumacher insisted: "There is no plan."

However, he finds the early interest in his career – including from his father's old F1 employers Mercedes and Ferrari – flattering.

"Yes, because it means that I'm doing something right already. I always try to give my best, I want to compete with the best and they are all in formula one," said Mick.

And in the meantime, he will continue to adjust to the huge media attention on his rise to F1.

"This is part of the sport," said Schumacher. "It's better if I get used to it now rather than later, when that interest will be perhaps twice as high."

Salo hails Alonso's Indy 500 move

Alonso and the key Honda players who made the 500 deal happen
Alonso and the key McLaren Honda players who made the 500 deal happen

(GMM) Former F1 driver Mika Salo has hailed McLaren-Honda's decision to contest the fabled Indy 500 next month with Fernando Alonso.

Notably struggling in F1, the great British team is teaming up with former McLaren driver Michael Andretti's Indy operation to give Spaniard Alonso a one-off shot at one of the world's most famous motor races.

"I think it's great that he (Alonso) is going to try it. Really great," Finn Salo, also an occasional F1 steward, told the Finnish broadcaster C More.

"McLaren is not fighting for wins or good results, but now he has the chance to go where Honda is already a partner for one race," he said.

"He loses one F1 race, but after all he has no possibility to win, but if he gets to grips with the car he could win (at Indy). It's great to see guys jumping from one category to another, like the old days," Salo explained.

Some also see McLaren-Honda's Indy 500 effort for Alonso as a clear sign that the Anglo-Japanese collaboration wants to keep the 35-year-old at McLaren beyond 2017.

"He's won everything," Salo agrees, "and McLaren needs his experience, motivation and speed an awful lot right now."

Active suspension would spice up overtaking – Brawn

F1 is 99% car and 1% driver now, Ross Brawn wants to make it 99.5% car 0.5% driver
F1 is 99% car and 1% driver now, Ross Brawn wants to make it 99.5% car 0.5% driver

(GMM) Allowing 'active suspension' could be a neat way to spice up the overtaking spectacle in F1.

That is the view of Ross Brawn, who is F1's new sporting boss in the new Liberty Media era.

In Australia, it seemed the faster 2017 cars had meant F1 has taken a step backwards in the overtaking department. But then in China, passing moves were shown to be difficult, possible and genuine.

Brawn said: "The goal must be that overtaking is basically possible but still difficult."

But he is concerned there will be more races like Melbourne in 2017, with the main problem being the way the cars currently create a big aerodynamic wake.

However, F1 is fundamentally stuck with the basic overall car concept until 2020.

"In the long run, we have to make sure that the wings don't create so much turbulence. But in the short term we need other ideas," he told Auto Motor und Sport.

One potential solution is bringing back active suspension, which in the purest sense was banned in 1993.

"The problem with following a car is that the balance changes," said Brawn. "That could be prevented with active suspension."

Andretti: Alonso's oval inexperience no concern

Michael Andretti
Michael Andretti

Andretti Autosport CEO Michael Andretti says Fernando Alonso's lack of experience on super-speedways is "not of concern", following the news that the Spaniard will compete at this year's Indianapolis 500.

McLaren announced on Wednesday that it will field a one-car team for Alonso at next month's race, which will be run by Andretti's squad, and powered by Honda engines.

Andretti claimed victory at the race last year with rookie Alexander Rossi, who raced for Manor Marussia in Formula 1 in 2015, and believes Alonso can compete at the front.

"It's a great honor to partner with McLaren for the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 and to bring Fernando into one of our Andretti Autosport Hondas," said Andretti.

"We're looking forward to giving Fernando an effort in reaching one of his biggest career goals of winning the Indy 500.

"Fernando's lack of experience on super-speedways is not of concern to me.

"I do believe that the Indianapolis 500 is one of the best places for a rookie to start because there is the opportunity for so much practice time on the track – and, as we have demonstrated, it can be won by a rookie.

"Fernando is a great talent and I have full confidence that he will represent very strongly for McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport.

"Fernando's addition to the team takes our stable of entries to six, working in a cooperative effort.

"This sharing of experience and knowledge is what makes Andretti Autosport stand out and gives us that extra competitive edge."

Andretti will also field regulars Ryan-Hunter Reay, Marco Andretti, Takuma Sato, Rossi, along with Jack Harvey, at this year's event.

Wolff expects 'ping-pong' battle with Ferrari

Wolff expects a tough battle with Ferrari
Wolff expects a tough battle with Ferrari

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has said he is expecting "a bit of a ping-pong battle" with rival Ferrari throughout the remainder of the 2017 campaign.

Mercedes heads to this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix with a one-point advantage over Ferrari in the Constructors' Championship, having shared victories across the opening two rounds.

Sebastian Vettel opened 2017 in Australia on top for Ferrari, with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas completing the podium for Mercedes.

Hamilton struck back in China, leading every lap from pole position, while Vettel recovered to second, having initially dropped to sixth during the early pit-stop phase.

"China was a great way to hit back in the battle with Ferrari," explained Wolff.

"We are very close on pace and I expect a bit of a ping-pong battle through the season, depending on the track.

"What we have in 2017 is the perfect situation for the fans and also for us as a team. We are all racers and we are all properly excited for this fight.

"Two races into the season and now it is 1:1 between Mercedes and Ferrari.

"And after racing on a very different circuit, in very different conditions, it's clear that we are very closely matched – and that small margins will make the difference."

Wolff added that Mercedes has adopted the mentality of the "underdog", despite having taken 52 wins from 61 races and successive double championships since the start of the 1.6-liter V6 era in 2014.

"Our one-point lead in the Constructors' Championship is anything but a comfortable margin," said Wolff.

"We need to – and we will – keep working with everything we have got to develop our car, correct our errors and continue improving.

"Our mindset is that of the underdog – not the Champion. And the fight has just begun."

Mercedes has claimed victory in Bahrain for the past three years.

Barrichello warns Alonso, "Expect the unexpected" at Indy

Barrichello and Kanaan at Indy in 2012
Barrichello and Kanaan at Indy in 2012

Rubens Barrichello, who competed in IndyCar in 2012, has warned that double Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso could be in for some surprises when he competes in the 101st Indianapolis 500.

The 44-year-old Brazilian made 322 Formula 1 starts, and scored 11 wins and twice finished runner-up in the World Championship, but when he lost his ride at Williams at the end of 2011, he joined the now defunct KV Racing IndyCar team for the 2012 season.

Although he failed to score a podium finish that season, Barrichello was well respected by his rivals and proved very popular with the fans. He also adapted well to ovals, despite his first left-turn-only race being the 96thIndianapolis 500. He he qualified 10th, just behind teammates Tony Kanaan and EJ Viso, and went on to finish 11th after leading two laps.

Responding to the news that Alonso is to compete in this year’s 500, Barrichello told Motorsport.com: "As much as I have done in my career – and I had a practice in an oval – when I got to Indy, I saw the unexpected. To me these are the crucial words: expect the unexpected.

“Indianapolis is expecting the unexpected. It's a very long race and I hope he has time to practice. And it is not only him on the track, but it's against everyone, in some situations, turbulence and traffic, that has to be understood."

Barrichello admitted that when he first heard that Alonso would miss the Monaco Grand Prix to compete at Indy, he wasn’t sure the story was real.

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport announces new partnership agreement with TIBCO
Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport is delighted to welcome TIBCO Software Inc., a global leader in integration, API management and analytics, to the team in a new partnership agreement.

As an Official Team Partner, TIBCO will provide the team with expertise in the area of advanced analytics through the TIBCO Insight Platform, while the distinctive TIBCO logo will feature prominently on the helmets of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, effective from the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Maintaining a competitive advantage at the pinnacle of motorsport is a constant challenge, and Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport needs intuitive tools that facilitate faster and more informed decisions and actions across all aspects of the organization. The TIBCO Insight Platform draws on TIBCO's visual, predictive and real-time streaming analytics, integration and business process management technologies to deliver this requirement.

Featuring interconnected data, systems, and analytics, the TIBCO Insight Platform fuses multiple technologies to form an intelligent digital nervous system across data, software, field equipment and technical teams. This results in an accessible, fully featured, and intelligent experience for generating actionable insights and executing them for real-time performance optimization.

Toto Wolff
"We are delighted to welcome TIBCO to the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport team. To stay ahead in motorsport, you have to continually innovate and be able to make quick decisions based on sound information and judgement. Working with the TIBCO Insight Platform will enable us to optimize our performance in these areas, benefitting not only our strategic decisions at the race track, but also how we operate back at the factory. We're also very pleased to be able to provide global exposure for TIBCO technology as we take part in races around the world."

Murray Rode, Chief Executive Officer, TIBCO
"We are very excited to become an Official Team Partner of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, one of the most recognized and trusted global brands. The partnership brings together two like-minded organizations, each with a strong commitment to pursuing excellence through innovation, and shared dedication to delivering world-class products and services. We look forward to the 2017 Formula One race calendar, as it provides a unique way to showcase the power of our advanced analytics technologies through supporting the success of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport team in such a competitive and dynamic sport."

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