“Matter of time” before Hamilton resigns
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says it is “just a matter of time” before Lewis Hamilton renews his contract.
The four times champion’s contract with the German manufacturer expires at the end of the season, but Wolff says he had no worries that Hamilton would be returning to the driving seat for 2019.
Speaking to Autosport, Wolff said “Lewis has become such an important pillar within the team that it is a no-brainer that we continue with each other. The discussions are on-going in a very positive mindset, and it’s just a matter of time when we seal it and put a signature to the document.”
Hamilton said previously about renewing his deal, “It is quite an easy process for us. We already have something great in place and it is really just about extending it, and enhancing it, and working on what more I can do for them and vice versa.”
While Mercedes is looking to renew the contract with Hamilton, the also need to think long-term as the four times champion enters the latter part of his career. Though it would appear unlikely that Hamilton will retire in the immediate future, Mercedes will need to be prepared for the long term.
Wolff said “We are keeping our eyes open to identify the next Lewis Hamilton – four, five, six, seven years [from now] for when Lewis eventually decides he’s had enough of F1,” he said.
“We are approaching this with a completely open mindset, we are even looking at karting, we are supporting a young Italian boy who is barely 12 years old, and we enjoy doing that.”
Speaking about 2018, Wolff confirmed the team’s new car was fired up for the first time this week, and that his team had enjoyed a “good winter”.
Verstappen only teammate to challenge Ricciardo
Daniel Ricciardo says that he feels that his current teammate Max Verstappen has so far been the only teammate, which has he feels has been able to challenge him.
The two have been teammates since Verstappen was promoted from Toro Rosso in May 2016, going on to win on his debut for the team at the Spanish Grand Prix. Ricciardo beat then world champions Sebastian Vettel in the drivers’ championship in 2014.
The Australian has also been teammates with Daniil Kvyat, Jean-Eric Vergne, Narain Karthikeyan and Vitantonio Liuzzi in an F1 career that began at HRT before he reached Red Bull. However, Ricciardo feels none of those drivers pushed him like Verstappen has.
He told Motorsport.com “I’m not saying I’ve had it easy in the past, but I think he’s the first driver who can challenge me. In the past, if I’ve done a high-speed corner and I’ve taken it flat-out.”
“For example, I’ve never had someone who can get there the same way. Max would at least go out there and try it. He’s been able to match stuff easier than some other guys have.” Ricciardo has beaten Verstappen in both seasons they have been teammates.
However, Verstappen out qualified him and finished ahead of him when the cars were not affected by reliability. Ricciardo says in 2017 he believes Verstappen’s “qualifying improved” but found their relative race pace harder to judge.
“If we were to split the races, we both had an even amount of good races. His good days probably looked better because they weren’t good days for me.” Ricciardo feels that they were “relatively” evenly match and expects a close fight in 2018.
Haas in talks with drivers about reserve roles
Haas is in talks with both Santino Ferrucci and Arjun Maini about a supporting role with the team this season. Ferrucci has been with the American team as development driver since the team entered the sport in 2016.
Ferrucci made his Formula Two debut at the Hungarian Grand Prix last season, finishing twenty-second. While Maini joined the team last season, to share the simulator programme with Ferrucci and attending several F1 races with the team.
The American finished ninth in last years GP3 Series with Jenzer, winning one race and securing one other podium.
In a statement, Haas said “Haas F1 Team is currently in discussions with Santino Ferrucci and Arjun Maini about their potential roles in 2018. Santino has been a part of the team since 2016 and Arjun joined last year.”
“The partnership has been beneficial for both drivers and for Haas F1 Team, and while it’s something we’re looking to continue in 2018, we’re not ready to announce anything yet.”
FIA entry list confirms several changes
The FIA has announced the official entry list for the 2018 season. The list has confirmed several name changes for teams, as well as confirming the race numbers for both Charles Leclerc and Sergey Sirotkin.
Formula Two champion Leclerc has already explained that sixteen was his third choice, while Sirotkin will run with 35 on his Williams.
As expected, Aston Martin has been added as title sponsor to Red Bull Racing, while Scuderia Toro Rosso will now be known as Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda, with the energy drink company now included in the official team name.
Sauber also changes to Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team, Red Bull becomes Aston Martin Red Bull, Toro Rosso becomes Red Bull-Toro Rosso Honda.
Grid Girls axing is against women – Lauda
Mercedes non-executive director Niki Lauda says he wants the sport to reconsider the decision to ban the use of grid girls, calling it “stupid” and “against women.”
This week Formula One’s owners Liberty Media announced that the tradition of promotional models standing on the grid before F1 races will no longer continue has sparked a wave of headlines and debate in international media.
While many have praised the decision, there has been a backlash from many including the models themselves as well as the chairman emeritus Bernie Ecclestone. Some former grid girls have started a petition against the ban.
Speaking to Austrian newspaper Der Standard, Lauda said “This is a decision against women. Men have made the decision over the heads of women. This is not doing any favours to F1 and especially not for women. How stupid can they be? Are they nuts?”
Lauda has called on the ban to be axed but called for women and men to share the role together. The three times champion believes ‘grid girls’ are an essential part of the show F1 has always delivered to fans.
He added “Grid girls have always belonged in F1, and they should continue to belong in F1. Women are stepping up [into senior roles], and they are doing it very well — it is moving in the right direction. But one does not exclude the other. I don’t want to hold back women — I want to encourage them.”
Grid Girls – British MP gives backing to ban
The British Conservative MP for North East Somerset Jacob Rees Mogg has given his backing to Formula One banning of ‘grid girls’ because he says that women should be treated with respect.
Speaking at a university question and answer event on Thursday, Rees-Mogg said he was glad such things were “fading out.” He said “believe in a free society where people should be free to do what they want. But, as you know, I’m quite old-fashioned and I believe in treating ladies with respect.”
“And I don’t think grid girls is treating ladies with respect. In fact, I think it is viewing them, it is objectifying them, and, frankly, I have never felt comfortable with it.” Rees-Mogg says he believes that grid girls don’t add to society, saying it’s for the girls and the sport to decide.
Formula One’s Chairman emeritus Bernie Ecclestone has defended the use of grid girls after current bosses decided to end their use at races.
The sport’s American owners Liberty Media declared that the practice of employing grid girls was “at odds with modern-day societal norms” and scrapped their use with immediate effect.
The Week Ahead
It is getting into that time of year where we get an idea of how the teams have performed in the previous year. Over the next few weeks, we should see how much profit and loss the teams have made last year. This is key for the medium and smaller teams as that can decide their budgets for this season.
The monthly strategy group is should be this week, again I feel this will be dominated by the budget cap and future engine regulations. Will Ferrari and Mercedes work together to push the common changes they want.
This week we heard that Liberty Media is banning ‘grid girls’ from this season. We have had the older generation react negatively to this like they said it’s a cultural thing and part of the show.
There are calls for them not to do it, but I do not see a way back. I believe they have done this to broaden the appeal and improve the appeal to women. I think this debate will continue…
We will be continuing to get the remaining details around car launches. The feeling I am getting this year is that we are moving away from these big glitzy launches and moving to simply unveiling the cars either online or the day before testing.