Alonso doesn’t rule out Ferrari return
Fernando Alonso says he hasn’t ruled out returning to Ferrari and have warned that McLaren needs to become winners this year to persuade him to stay.
The Spaniard who is out of contract at the end of the season, says he will leave the team unless they convince him they are ready to be champions again. He told reporters “I like this Formula 1 and my intention and first priority next year is to race in Formula 1.”
“But not only to race but also to win. I am happy with McLaren but we are not winning. If, before September or October, l see a possibility that we are in a position to win in 2018, l will be more than happy to stay with the team.” Alonso says if that is the case he will be more than happy to talk to anyone.
Alonso has been linked to returning to Renault and he says he is open to anything. Ferrari is expected to not re-sign Kimi Raikkonen who is currently struggling to keep pace with championship leader Sebastian Vettel.
McLaren could take the drastic option for McLaren would be to drop engine suppliers Honda and seek a customer deal with either Mercedes, Ferrari or Renault. But Alonso says “McLaren and Honda have a long-term partnership with a very strong commitment from both.”
Alonso hopes that they can extract the performance from the car and see progress in the very short term and this year fight for something big.
Coin toss means Grosjean needs to wait
A toss of a coin means that Romain Grosjean will need to wait until Saturday practice for upgrades to his Haas car. All of the teams will be bringing their first major update for this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.
However, because of what team boss Gunther Steiner says are unexpected “production delays” at chassis partner Dallara, means they only have one available for practice.
Currently Grosjean and his team-mate Kevin Magnussen are tied on four points each meaning Haas had to come up with a coin toss to decide who would get the update first. Grosjean told Autosport “Unfortunately I won’t have it [the upgrade] until Saturday and that’s not ideal. There’s only one available right now.”
“It was a coin toss – I’ve never been lucky with that. It’s not ideal because it’s a big change of a lot of things on the car and I don’t know what it’s going to be like tomorrow for us.”
Steiner added, “It should have been both cars but the second one was late, so at that stage, we had to make a choice and this was the only fair way.”
“I don’t know the reason why the second upgrade is late. I’m quite aggravated because we wanted to do the two together.” Steiner says because Grosjean wasn’t running the upgrade didn’t mean it wouldn’t be useful.
Steiner says “The good thing is you can compare the two cars – you can see whether what you are doing is correct or not. As one package it is the biggest update we have done so far.”
Grosjean aims for a different point of view
Romain Grosjean says he will offer a “different point of view” on F1 safety matters following his election as a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association.
The Frenchman was appointed as a director following Jenson Button’s sabbatical which caused him to stand down. He will work alongside Sebastian Vettel as a director, with former driver Alex Wurz serving as the body’s chairman. The majority of current drivers are GPDA members.
Grosjean told Sky Sports “I’ve been in Formula 1 for a bit of time, I’ve been in the GPDA for most of that time and we’ve had some good thinking and things done.”
“I’m not always of the same opinion as Alex or Seb and I think it’s good thing that I can be director because then we can chat and I can have a different point of view. I’m very happy with that role.”
Grosjean personally is against the introduction of head protection but believes he can contribute to the debate before a final decision is taken.
He said “I’m against any head protection. It’s not the case of everyone. Being a director I can still have my own point of view, but once we’ve decided something from a majority point of view that’s what matters.”
Sauber updates delayed
Sauber has only brought some of their planned aero upgrade for this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix. Nearly all of the of the teams have brought upgrades for the first of the European races.
However, Sauber’s technical department wanted more time so they can work on the updates. The team has brought new wing flaps as well as new front brake ducts. The rest of the upgrades will be available for Monaco in a fortnight.
Any upgrades will be seen as a step forward for the team following their difficult start to 2016 when a lack of funding meant the team failed to make an impact until after the summer break.
This season the team is believed to be struggling with the cooling of the car, and their decision to stick with a year old Ferrari engine hasn’t helped either. Despite the problems, Pascal Wehrlein hopes the team will be stronger in Barcelona.
He told Autosport “We have a few updates on the car and for Monaco, we have more updates so I’m really looking forward to the next races.”
“I hope the updates work as expected and we make some progress. It will be quite difficult to challenge for points this weekend but we will try our best.”
Mercedes unveils radical upgrades
Mercedes have unveiled a radical aerodynamic upgrade ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix. The upgrades to the car includes a radical scooped vane on the nose of the car.
Mercedes has spent a lot of time recently looking to get on top of the tyre degradation problems, however, this has not stopped the team pushing for aero performance. On Wednesday, Mercedes posted images of the revised car.
One of the most striking changes is the under-nose turning vane, which has helped create a type of skirt underneath the car. The aim of this is to control the airflow coming off the car.
Mercedes has also introduced new bargeboards with three R-shaped upstands, a revised winglet mounted to the wishbone extension, new camera mounts, a revised floor ahead of the rear tyre, a revised rear wing, and a new two-tier monkey seat.
Also, both cars have had a new engine fitted, following tweaks for reliability reasons.
Mercedes have also been trying to reduce the weight issues on the car so they can get on top of the sensitivity of tyres and car balance having been compromised by it being unable to use ballast.
While the car’s weight has come down steadily since the start of the season, the team is open that more work is needed.
Bottas said on Thursday: “We are getting better as a team in all areas of the car, mechanically, aerodynamically, also with the weight – we are getting better and better. We still have work to do in all of these areas.”
Fan festival launches
This weekend, one of Liberty’s aims of getting a better race weekend for the fans has started with a huge overhaul of the fan zone.
The fan zone has been revamped and now features racing simulators, a 200-metre zip wire, pit stop challenges and a DJ. There will also be an opportunity to win Paddock Club passes, photo opportunities with F1 teams and a ride in a two-seater racing car at the circuit.
These changes are part of Liberty’s plans to put the fans first. Managing Director Sean Bratches told ESPN “Formula 1 is undergoing a major evolution and the Spanish Grand Prix is a landmark moment in the brand’s history.”
“From the outset, we have focused on getting fans closer to the action and broadening the appeal of the sport.”
“The launch of this weekend’s Fan Festival marks the beginning of this journey and we are excited about bringing races to life in this way over the course of the season and beyond.”
The Paddock Club passes will give greater access to garages, teams and drivers, including the option of a tour of the circuit in the drivers’ parade truck.
Perez attacks Pirelli tyre selection
Sergio Perez says that the harder tyres that Pirelli has brought for this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, are only good enough for ‘pictures.’
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo has suggested already that he believes that the tyre compounds are ‘too hard’ for the Circuit de Catalunya, Perez has backed up his Australian rival that teams will steer clear of it.
“I think the hard will be just for the picture, basically. We will not use it at all,” said Perez.
On Friday Ricciardo told Motorsport.com “I’m not sure if it’ll help us or not but I just don’t think it’s going to be good for anyone. The tyres are already hard enough so the harder compounds are just way too hard.”
Perez suggested there are doubts they will be able to get the tyres in the operating window this weekend. He says “Maybe with the rougher tarmac, with an aggressive track, it is very different to Russia with the higher track temperature.”
The Mexican believes Pirelli could of gone for the Ultrasoft, Supersoft and Soft Tyres this weekend.
Moss discharged from hospital
Sir Stirling Moss has been discharged from hospital after he was taken ill with a chest infection in December. The 87-year old who race in Formula One between 1951-61, was taken ill while on holiday before Christmas.
A statement on his website said Moss was “back where he belongs.”
“He still has a substantial amount of recovery to undertake but says that he has determination and a great pit crew. He and Lady Moss are enormously grateful to the medical staff, both here and abroad, who worked so tirelessly to make all this possible.”
“They also want to thank, from the bottom of their hearts, all the family, friends and fans for their love and support. It has been overwhelming and given them a lot of strength, smiles and hope.”
“For now, they are looking forward to just lying back on their pillows in their bedroom and watching the Spanish Grand Prix.”
Moss has through his life managed to bounce back, injuries and a coma didn’t stop him racing, and he only retired from racing a few years ago.
That’s all from F1 Today this week and we will be bringing you full coverage of the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend, with commentary of every session @F1VaultLive on Twitter. F1 Today returns next week, with Notebook Friday evening. Preview here