Bottas future decided by mid-September
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that Valtteri Bottas’s future with the team will be decided by mid-September. The Finn was signed on a one year deal to replace Nico Rosberg who retired last December.
Bottas has delivered good results and taken two wins, which has allowed him to be fighting with Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. Mercedes despite his strong first half of the season, has not made any commitment to his future.
Speaking at the last race Wolff said, that he was expecting progress to be made over the summer break with a decision likely to be made before the Singapore Grand Prix. Wolff told ESPN “As I would like to go back to a race next weekend to clarify and put things in order. It’s a good time to talk and to think things through.”
“We had some good discussions with Valtteri before Hungary. I’d certainly like to go to Asia for the final races with a decision.” Bottas says he is not worried about his future and there was no need to rush a decision.
He said “There could be some progress to be made on that during the break because obviously the last month has been pretty hectic. It’s been difficult to have proper meetings and discussions with so many races. For sure there is some time but there is no rush.”
Wolff says he was also hoped there would be an update on Mercedes junior Pascal Wehrlein in the coming weeks. Wehrlein’s future with Sauber is in doubt after a new deal with Ferrari was announced.
When questioned about Wehrlein’s future, Wolff said: “For Pascal, there’s lots of movements on the chessboard at the moment. “I guess in the next two weeks there could be some interesting things happening.”
Mercedes “given up” more points than Ferrari
Lewis Hamilton says he thinks that his Mercedes team has “given up” more points than Ferrari during the first half of the season.
Hamilton is currently seventeen points behind his title rival Sebastian Vettel, thou Mercedes lead the constructor’s thanks to Valtteri Bottas’s performances on track this season. Following the dominance that Ferrari had in Budapest, Hamilton is hoping Mercedes will be able to turn things back towards them in Spa.
He told Autosport “We’ve given up a lot of points to this point – Ferrari have given up a lot less as a team,” and doesn’t think he will “ever get back” the points he sacrificed to let Bottas back through on the final lap in Hungary.
“We just hope that we don’t give up any more points. I don’t know why we were off the pace compared to the Ferraris [in Hungary], whether or not that will continue in the next race, I’ve got no idea.”
“I don’t know whether they’ve got an upgrade, I’m not aware of that. Hopefully, we’ll go to circuits like Spa and it will be a bit more like Silverstone [where Mercedes was dominant].” Hamilton says that the break is well timed given the stressful and tough first part of the season.
Speaking about the championship, he said “I truly believe that we have the capability of winning this championship, but it’s going to take absolutely 100% of everyone’s effort to pull it off.”
Massa has “no reason” to retire
Felipe Massa says he is keen to continue in Formula One next season, saying he has “no reason” to retire. The Brazilian retired from the sport last season, but Williams brought him out of retirement to replace Valtteri Bottas who went to Mercedes.
Massa says believes he is still improving as a driver and will continue in F1 if he has the right opportunity. The team is still to decide who should partner Lance Stroll next season, with Massa one of the contenders for the seat,
Asked by Motorsport.com, if him staying on was dependent on there being a good opportunity, he said “Sure, yes. I’m really in good shape, the way I’m driving, the way I understand the car and everything. I have no reason not to stay in F1, but we’ll see what’s going to happen.”
Williams chief technical officer, Paddy Lowe says he believes that the Brazilian still has the ability to fight for the championship if he was given the right car. Lowe said, “Felipe is world champion material, we saw that from the season he was briefly world champion .”
“he is clearly very talented and it’s a great pleasure to work with him and find out how he works. He’s a fantastic guy to work with: enthusiastic, friendly, very supportive of Lance and the learning that Lance needs to go through.”
“He’s fun to work with and a very stable and dependable guy to have.” Massa says his short retirement has given him a more relaxed frame of mind.
It was a good start to the season for Massa, two-sixth places and he was in the fight for a potential win in Baku, before retiring with a broken brake damper.
“I’m racing in a much more relaxed way and I’m happy with what I do in the car,” said Massa. “Unfortunately, I was a little bit unlucky in a few races, but I’m enjoying it.
Perez wants finalised deal by Spa
Sergio Perez says he wants to have his 2018 seat finalise before the end of the summer break. The Mexican has been with Force India for four years and the team currently hold fourth in the constructors’ championship.
The Mexican driver has started talks with his team about staying for another season alongside Esteban Ocon. Perez is hoping that talks with the team can be sorted before the Belgian Grand Prix.
He told ESPN “In terms of my future, I just hope that once I come back to the next race, after the summer break, I can have a new contract. That would be good you know, but you never know what will happen.”
Perez helped Force India to secure fourth in the constructors last season after he finished in the points in every race except one. He says that he can see a big difference to the team he joined in 2014.
“I think the team has been moving forwards every year. Although last year we achieved the same position which we have now which is fourth, I think we have consolidated that fourth place.”
“I think the team is moving forwards; there is a lot more interest in terms of sponsorship into the team, more investment but it’s not easy to make the next step with the big boys, with the big teams, it’s not easy.”
Honda can leap frog Renault – Hasegawa
Honda motorsport boss Yusuke Hasegawa says the Japanese manufacturer can leapfrog Renault before the end of the season. The Japanese manufacturer has been firmly at the bottom in terms of the engine power and performance since they re-joined the sport in 2015.
Honda changed their engine concept for this season, but that has failed to deliver major gains in terms of performance and reliability. The underperformance has also placed a strain on the relationship with McLaren.
However, the last four races since an engine upgrade has seen the team make progress in terms of points, including double points in Budapest. Hasegawa told Motorsport.com “I think we can keep the same ratio of the increasing of the power but it is difficult to catch up Mercedes or Ferrari.”
“I really want to move ahead of Renault in terms of performance before the end of the season.” When asked if that was a realistic goal with the power defect that Honda has to its rivals, Hasegawa says he feels that Honda is as close as it been since they returned to the sport in 2015.
Budapest was a great weekend for Honda as it was the first race this season where they didn’t have reliability woes. That allowed McLaren to leap frog Sauber in the constructors.
Speaking about the engine performance in Hungary, Hasegawa said: “The driveability was OK but still the drivers highlighted a lack of power. They are very confident with the car, which is good, but it is still difficult to challenge the top three teams.”
£103m investment in the Hungaroring
A major redevelopment project will begin next year to upgrade the Hungaroring after the government agreed to a £103m investment package.
Last weekend, the minister of foreign affairs and trade Peter Szijjarto, confirmed that the agreement had been reached with the circuit, which has a deal to host the race until 2026. The circuit has not been modernised since the circuit opened in 1986.
Over the past few years, it has become clear that the circuit is in much need of a revamp. The first job will be rebuilding the main grandstand, with plans to create a modern stadium section running around the final corner and along the pit straight.
That work will start in late 2018, in preparation for the following year’s Grand Prix. Construction of a new race control and pitlane complex will follow in 2020. There are also plans for a visitors’ centre and museum.
CEO and Circuit President, Zsolt Gyulay told Motorsport.com “The government has decided. The minister has said it’s guaranteed, it’s 100 per cent sure. It was delayed because we wanted to start in January, but this is government!”
“At the end of August, we’ll start making the architectural designs. My plan is that we can start the rebuild at the end of 2018 until 2019.” Gyulay says he already has a good relationship with Chase Care+y.
“I think Mr Carey is an absolute gentleman. We have a long contract, and I feel it’s a little bit easier to work with them.”
Stewart criticises halo complaints
Sir Jackie Stewart has criticised the complaints that some drivers have made about the introduction of the halo cockpit protection device next season.
The three times champion led a campaign in the 1960’s to improve safety that saw backlash at the time and feels halo critics are comparable to his opponents back then.
Stewart, who was speaking ahead of the launch of the ‘Great British Racing Drivers Season’ on UKTV channel Yesterday, said the halo was a price worth paying if it kept drivers safe.
He told Autosport “My view is: if you can save a life… and if some of these people had been to as many funerals as I’ve been to and wept as much as I have and seen close friends die [they wouldn’t object].”
“That’s all finished because we’ve got technology that’s taken away that. I’m afraid I don’t have a negative [view] of the halo.”
Sir Jackie says that when he was fighting for better safety, the papers said ‘this is the end of Formula 1 for me, I’m out of it, I can’t stick with this.’ and that ‘Jackie Stewart’s going to kill motorsport’ because of track safety.
He argues that it is better to adopt a pre-emptive position when it comes to driver safety.
“Preventive medicine is considerably more important than corrective medicine. Corrective medicine is [also] considerably more expensive than preventive medicine.” He said.