Button assessing if he needs F1
McLaren’s Jenson Button says he is using this year’s summer break to assess if he still needs Formula One in his life. Button must decide if he wants to stay in F1 for an 18th season, move to another team, or leave altogether and try a different form of motorsport.
McLaren have already announced they will not make a decision on who will drive alongside Fernando Alonso until next month at the earliest. The team must decide whether to retain Button or promote reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne.
When asked by Autosport why he still does not have answers on his future, adding: “I haven’t made any decisions yet. It’s been too busy. I’ll have a lot more time to think over the new few months, but nothing’s changed.
“It’s still the same as Ron’s [Dennis] comments two months ago – we won’t talk until September.” McLaren have made progress this season however the team remain off the pace of the leaders Mercedes. There are no guarantees about who will have the edge when significant regulation changes are made next year, which is likely adding to Button’s dilemma.
Button added “I still enjoy driving the car, it’s a lot of fun, but Formula 1 is not just about driving the car and having fun. It’s about winning and getting on the podium, and I haven’t done that for a long time.
“So that part of the enjoyment isn’t there, but I still drive an F1 car for a living, which is pretty awesome.” Button it sounds like he will be in motorsport next year but it remains unknown what type.
Haryanto out, Ocon in for Manor
Manor yesterday announced they have terminated the contract of Rio Haryanto and replaced him with Mercedes backed Esteban Ocon who was on loan to Mercedes.
The Indonesian’s sponsors who have backed Haryanto have been struggling to raise the money to keep him in the sport for being “unable to meet his contractual obligations”. There were other names flying around McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne, Alexander Rossi and Jordan King the son of the teams chairman.
Haryanto, whose best finish from his 12 grand prixs was 15th in Monaco, has instead been offered the team’s reserve seat. Speaking in Budapest last month racing director Dave Ryan told Sky Sports “Some time ago, his management indicated that they were experiencing difficulties honouring the obligations of that contract beyond the Hungarian Grand Prix.”
“Rio’s team have worked tirelessly to try to resolve that situation with his Indonesian backers and we have supported those efforts as much as possible, including allowing Rio to race in Germany. Unfortunately we reached a point where, we were forced to explore other options for the remainder of the season.”
Ocon will make his debut a the Belgian Grand Prix and has confirmed that he has already had his seat fitting at Manor and wants to hit the ground running.
Disappointment over Haryanto
The Indonesian Government has said there “disappointed” with Manors decision to drop Rio Haryanto. Manor yesterday announced they have terminated the contract of Rio Haryanto and replaced him with Esteban Ocon.
Haryanto seat was secured by financial backing from state-owned oil company Pertamina, making him Indonesia’s first F1 driver. The government says they had assurances from the team Haryanto would see out the season when he originally signed — though it should be noted his original deal only covered the first 11 races.
A government spokeperson said “The Sports Ministry is disappointed with the decision, as Manor’s racing director Dave Ryan in February promised Rio Haryanto would race a full season in F1. Moreover, Manor’s team director Abdulla Boulsien in June said Rio is part of the team’s long term plan for at least two years.”
The government said they understand Haryanto had to pay the fees before Hungary but Manor gave him another chance in Germany. Boulsien added “We asked to use state budget to finance Rio, but it wasn’t allowed by the lawmakers. The parliament fully supports Rio’s involvement in F1 but using the state budget is not the option”
Red Bull set sights on Mercedes
Red Bull has now set their sights on closing down the gap to world champions Mercedes after they over took Ferrari in the constructor’s championship. The Austrian team’s double podium in Germany moved them fourteen points ahead of Ferrari.
While Mercedes have a 159 point lead Team Principal Christian Horner said the team could aim to get closer on track at least when F1 resumes after its summer break. He suggested that the gap was now .3 of a second when saying there
He told Autosport “You’ve always got to look ahead rather than behind. We’ve had great performance at a variety of circuits from Austria to Silverstone to Budapest and Germany.”
“They are four very different venues, four different surfaces and that bodes well for the second half of the season. There are some races on the calendar which will hopefully be favorable to us.”
Red Bull and engine partner Renault have switched their attention to 2017 preparations, Horner said both parties had room to make gains in the remaining part of this season.
Halo needs proper test – Massa
Felipe Massa says the Halo device needs a “proper test” for Formula One to know whether it is the right solution. The cockpit protection system has only been tested briefly during installation laps by three drivers: Ferrari duo Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, and Red Bull junior Pierre Gasly.
The introduction of the device has been delayed until 2018 because the FIA needs to decide on other solutions will be considered. when asked if it was right to delay its introduction by Motorsport.com Massa said “It’s very difficult to answer without having tested it.”
“We need to put it in the car and not just do an installation lap. You need to do a proper test, which is the most important thing they need to start doing. And then you have a proper answer.
“If you put it in the car and do just an installation lap it doesn’t work, it’s not the right test.” Massa says the most thing is people understand it adding “It would be nice to have it in the car and to try it at to see if the Halo changes anything for the visibility. I don’t think they need to not put it in the car because it looks ugly.”
Massa reckons it should be exclusively down to the FIA to decide when the Halo is introduced.
Williams unsure over failing to gain
Williams are unsure why there upgrades this season have failed to deliver them gains. The team has performed well under the current regulations and in 2014 out devloped there rivals making gains over the last two years.
However with the regulation changes next year the team is producing less upgrades. Speaking to Autosport technical director Pat Symonds said “In the last two years, we’ve been proud that we have brought things to the track that have performed as we anticipated.”
He added “During that time, there was only one thing we brought that it didn’t do what we hoped it would do so that is a pretty good record. This year, we’ve had two quite major developments and they haven’t delivered as much as we expected.”
Symonds confirmed the team are not sure why they have not delivered the performance. He said they will get to bottom of the problems because its they way the team works. One of a number of teams to struggle to get the tyres to work consistently this season.
Performance chief Rob Smedley has said Williams needs more expertise in that area to improve its knowledge of tyre science and Symonds echoed that view.