Azerbaijan race causes concerns over human rights
Human rights campaigners have met with Berine Ecclestone to call on him to condemn the human rights abuses by the Azerbaijani government. It understood that they spoke to t Sacha Woodward-Hill, F1’s head of legal and a close ally of the 85-year-old attended the meeting along with one other aide.
A report by Human Rights Watch last year claims that there “dramatic deterioration in its already poor rights record” But the campaigners have not called for a boycott of the race.
Formula One has been no strangers to controversies racing in apartheid South Africa, going to Bahrain following the uprising and not condemning Russia on the shooting down of MH17 and gay rights.
Ferrari spend engine tokens
Ferrari have spent three of their remaining six engine tokens ahead of this weekends Canadian Grand Prix.
According to the Italian media suggests they will have redesigned turbo, following problems earlier this season. The team has not confirmed this but in their preview engine boss Mattia Binotto said Montreal is a track “where the engine power is quite important”.
Manor will not give up on points
Manor are not giving up work on their 2016 car despite not scoring any points this season. Teams like Manor are expected to switch development earlier than other teams with new regulations coming in next season.
The team has shown progress after switching to Mercedes power from Ferrari and buying some parts from Williams. They finished fourteenth and fifteenth in Monaco which shows they have good reliability but the team were still the last finishers.
Racing director Dave Ryan is confident the team is still learning about its car, and believes it can make improvements before turning full attention to 2017.
He told Autosport “At the moment we’ve work ongoing on the ’17 car. I’m sure that’s the same for everyone, although ours is perhaps not as much as some of the bigger teams in terms of percentage of effort.”
“But we are still working hard on the ’16 car because we need to understand what we’ve got, and we need to extract what we can out of it for this year.” He says the team owes there drivers the best car they can and not give up and say that’s it because you would get nowhere.
He asked himself “Can we learn anything from this year’s car? Yeah, we can learn a huge amount. It’s a great car. Relative to what we’ve had [in the past], it’s superb.” Ryan admitted some of the progress has come from Mercedes and Williams which offsets some of their deficiencies.
Red Bull could be a challenger for Mercedes
Alain Prost says Red Bull could be a potential “big challenger for Mercedes” in 2016, and insists Renault is happy despite now having its own team. Renault took over Lotus at the end of last year and despite a break down with Red Bull this week extended their deal last week.
The team has proved strong after Max Verstappen won a stunning victory in Barcelona and looked close to winning in Monaco from pole, but a pit stop error meant they lost to Mercedes.
Channel 4 pundit and Renault Ambassador said the recent progress could see Red Bull challenge the defending champions for the rest of the year.
When asked about Red Bull’s chances this season he told Autosport “They could be a challenger, maybe a big challenger, for Mercedes, definitely. But I don’t think Renault can do much more for the engine, but for sure there will be some more improvement.”
“But [Renault] are very happy…unless [the constructor team] are going to become competitive – which is not today – they are very happy to see the engine winning and Red Bull to be a contender. I’m not jealous at all, for sure!”
Prost added that the up turn for Red Bull can act as motivation for Renault’s constructor team as well as validation of the power unit. He says its “very positive” that they know there engine is working well.
Alonso future depends on 2017
Fernando Alonso says his future in Formula One depends on the regulation changes introduced next year.
Next season the sport will have wider tyres and an overhaul of the aerodynamic regulations set to produce a grid of faster, more aggressive-looking cars. Alonso has been calling for cars more physical for drivers and sees 2017 as a crucial year for the sport as a whole.
He told ESPN “”It’s an important season for McLaren, for this project and I think also for Formula One because in the last couple of years there was a lot of negative feedback about Formula One.
“We changed the engines, we changed the TV agreements with some paid TV so there is less spectators. We have less noise from the cars. So there were a lot of negatives coming to Formula One.” The Spaniard is out of contract at the end of 2017.
He says if he continues beyond 2017 will depend largely on his feeling from behind the wheel in 2017. “In my case it’s no different, it’s an important year. I have next year also a contract with McLaren.”
He added “yeah we’ll wait to see how these cars feel, how attractive they are from a driver point of view and then make the decision on my future.”
Wehrlein part of Mercedes future
The chairman of Mercedes parent company Daimler Dieter Zetsche, has told a Swiss newspaper that the Manor driver Pascal Wehrlein is the teams future.
The german driver made his debut with Manor this season after winning DTM last season. The comments come when the team are negotiating a new contract with Nico Rosberg which Gerhard Berger say are going well. Berger speaking to Sky Sports Germany he said . “The negotiations are not to make great tactical moves
“as Nico appreciates having the Mercedes family around him and knows that it is the best car. On the other hand, Mercedes knows what it has with Nico, who is leading the championship.”
The chairman Niki Lauda says it is good that Rosberg has brought in the 56-year-old Austrian to head the contract talks. “Gerhard knows what he’s doing He was a racing driver, he negotiated for himself and is not an external manager who has no idea.
“I am sure that he has already agreed with Toto that they should conclude things relatively quickly, so that Nico can calmly get on with winning races,” added Lauda.