Grosjean needs to continue strong form – Haas
Haas’s team principal Gunther Steiner says that Romain Grosjean needs to continue his current strong performances if he is to secure a new contract with the American team for 2019.
The Frenchman’s future in the sport appeared to be in doubt following his difficult start to the season, and he struggled to score any points until the Austrian Grand Prix. But solid performances in the last five races, have brought the team back into the battle for fourth in the constructors.
Speaking at the Italian Grand Prix, before Grosjean was disqualified from sixth place, Steiner told Motorsport.com, “Obviously, races like this: this is what Romain does normally. What we need to get from him is to keep it at that level and not going up and down, the fluctuation.”
“You always get fluctuation, but it is just how much you can fluctuate. I think he is doing pretty good at the moment…..” Grosjean has admitted that he needed a reset in the summer, after feeling that his performance was suffering because his confidence had taken a hit.
The Frenchman added, “I think I’ve understood a few things and got back to where I should have been at the beginning of the year,” he said. “Now I’m back to where I want to be and I enjoy racing, I enjoy driving and looking forward to go racing.”
Asked if the turnaround was related to car setup or his own approach, Grosjean said: “It was more me. A few mistakes that I made that I shouldn’t have done.” He admitted to struggling with the cars set up, which may have hampered his confidence, Grosjean believes that it was the issues were the same as in 2012.
Kubica considers other options if no race seat
Robert Kubica says he will pursue other options if he cannot secure a race seat in Formula One. The Polish driver has not raced in F1 since the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, following a rallying accident in February 2011 where he sustained life-changing injuries.
The 2008 Canadian Grand Prix winner could move into a race seat this season, should Lance Stroll switch to Force India after his father brought the team. But Kubica has told Motorsport.com he will probably end his chase of a shock F1 return if he does not earn a full campaign next year.
He said “I spent a lot of time and effort to have a chance and the priority would be to be on the starting grid in Australia. But if this doesn’t happen I would consider some different championship or different role. As I said, now I’m focused on trying to get a chance.”
This season, Kubica has repeatedly said he has no doubts about his ability to compete in F1 again but acknowledged it would take time to get back his “rhythm”.
He believes returning this season would have eliminated any questions over his competitive prospects in the same way his work with Renault and Williams has gradually reduced the focus on the limitations his arm injury has left him with.
But has admitted that he will need time to adjust back to driving a F1 car naturally. Kubica considered dovetailing his Williams role this season with a World Endurance Championship campaign in the LMP1 division.
He did not proceed with that option because he did want to take on too much, but said the WEC has its attractions if F1 ceases to be possible. He added “It is completely different racing, a completely different category. It might be a good challenge.”
“I saw it with rallying, OK, rallying is completely different than racing, and endurance races, they have more similarity to let’s say F1, but still it is a different category.
Honda made “great steps forward” – Ericsson
Marcus Ericsson believes that Honda has made “great steps forward” and is “a lot stronger than they get credit for”. Pierre Gasly’s points at Spa at the end of August meant that Honda power has now scored more points this season than in the last three years.
While the Japanese manufacturer doesn’t tend to announce what improvements it has made to it power unit, it is clear that the spec introduced in June has delivered huge steps forward. The step forward has been followed by smaller steps from the power unit.
Ericsson was a loser from the progress, as at Spa he lost out from increased drag because he couldn’t race with Gasly during the race even with the aid of DRS. The Swede told Motorsport.com, “I was in the DRS [zone] of Gasly and I couldn’t overtake him, I couldn’t even get close.”
“I think that shows quite a lot that Honda has made great steps forward. I still believe Mercedes and Ferrari are the two strongest power units but then Honda is a lot stronger than they get credit for. That was confirmation of when we were racing them.”
Although speed trap figures can be misleading, the overall speed deficit has been reduced. Gasly also made it into Q3 at Monza, which is one of the sports more power-sensitive circuits.
Honda did not introduce an upgrade at Spa or Monza but Gasly still out qualified both Williams drivers twice, plus a Force India, a Haas and both Sauber’s in Italy. It also had the edge on the Renault works team in Belgium and its customer McLaren in Italy, although both had Renault’s previous-spec engine.
Honda technical director Toyoharu Tanabe told Motorsport.com, “As a package, including the energy management, it worked well. We are still catching up the stronger manufacturers that have an engine that’s higher than us.”
“So of course we expected difficult race weekends at high-speed circuits. That’s why the result is very good and important for our motivation.”
Mallya ruling expected in December
The judge in the extradition case of the former Force India team principal Vijay Mallya has announced she expects to announce her verdict on his case in December.
The Indian government are seeking to extradite the businessman on fraud and money laundering, related to the collapse of Kingfisher Airlines in 2014. Mallya denies wrongdoing and the former MP claims the charges are politically motivated. The losing side will still be able to launch a fresh appeal, a process that could take months or longer.
The lawyer for Mallya, Clare Montgomery, provided a detailed rebuttal of the government’s case that Mallya had submitted false information on loan applications involving huge sums.
She denied he had inflated the value of his holdings and overstated the profitability of his businesses to obtain loans needed to keep his enterprises afloat.
Mark Summers challenged the view that Mallya had been honest and straightforward in his dealings with Indian banks. He said Mallya had concealed and distorted financial information and acted in bad faith.
He said there is ample evidence that Mallya never intended to repay the loans and that he had diverted money that had been earmarked for his creditors.
Ocon remains determined to get to the top
Esteban Ocon says he is determined to make it to the top of Formula One, despite it looking likely that the Frenchman will miss out on a race seat next season. The Mercedes backed driver is highly rated, but set to be squeezed out amongst the sports politics.
Speaking to the BBC, Ocon said, “We have been in tough situations before and have always overcome them. There was no easy way throughout my career. I can promise you that I will not give up at this moment.”
In a Tweet, he added “Motivation is high. My old-time rivals are in top cars and this makes me hungrier than ever. I’m born to race and my only goal is to be champion, and will always be.” The messages were posted on the day Ferrari announced that Charles Leclerc was being promoted to a seat as Sebastian Vettel’s team-mate in 2019.
Ocon has missed out on a contract with the senior Mercedes drive next season, and following the takeover of Force India, it is highly expected that Lance Stroll will replace him. His ties to Mercedes have meant that he has not been an attractive option for other teams, while Mercedes feel he is too good to let go.
Even so, it had looked for some time as if Ocon would get a race drive next year, only for his plans to unravel. Renault and McLaren also had discussions about Ocon, there were reports that he could join Renault. However, Renault signed the Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo to partner Nico Hulkenberg next season.
That led to Renault dismissing the option of Ocon, while McLaren had already committed in the meantime to signing Carlos Sainz from Renault as a replacement for Fernando Alonso, who is leaving F1 at the end of the season.
Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff said: “With Esteban, it looked like we had a deal with Renault and within 48 hours things changed and agreements suddenly were not agreements any more.”
“But I can understand the rationale of Renault getting Ricciardo on board. And it would be really a shame if a tiny issue or in transparent communication would be the reason for such a kid with ability not to find the right seat for next year.”
Haas are said by sources to have already re-signed Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, even if they have not said so yet, and Williams is reluctant to take Ocon.
Channel 4 retains F1 rights
Channel 4 and Sky have announced a new wide-ranging content partnership, which includes the free to air rights to Formula One. Channel 4 will show highlights of every race for 2019 as well as live coverage of the British Grand Prix.
The new arrangement is part of a wider deal which will see Channel 4 share drama and boxsets via Sky and Now TV from this weekend.
Alex Mahon, Chief Executive Officer of Channel 4, said, “I’m delighted that we’ve been able to establish such an exciting and innovative partnership with Sky which will ensure that the British Grand Prix and highlights of the 2019 Formula 1 Championship remain available on free-to-air television for UK viewers.”
Stephen van Rooyen, Chief Executive Officer of Sky UK & ROI, said, “Today’s partnership is the start of a new era of collaboration between Sky, Channel 4 and, we hope, other British broadcasters. Not only will this innovative partnership benefit viewers, watching via Sky or free-to-air, but it will further strengthen the ecosystem of UK broadcasters and British originated content.”
The BBC will continue to provide radio and/or online coverage of every session on BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Sport App, Online and through the F1 App, under there 2016-2021 agreement.