No guarantees feels normal – Bottas
Mercedes Valtteri Bottas says it feels normal to be racing without guarantees over his future feels “normal”, feels normal despite team boss Toto Wolff suggesting that he was in an uncomfortable situation.
Bottas joined Mercedes over the winter on a one-year deal replacing Nico Rosberg and has performed well leading to speculation he could stay with the team. But, earlier this week, Wolff suggested that wasn’t guaranteed as big names, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso are out of contract at the end of the year.
Bottas told Autosport “I feel normal because every single year for me in F1, I have had the same situation. I’ve had no idea at this point what [his situation] is going to be next year, so for me, it is a normal situation.”
“I know some kind of plan when they are planning to have things sorted, but that is between us. There is no rush.” Bottas added, he expected talks would begin soon but is aware he needs backup options.
“The timeline is quite flexible, but like I said there is no rush really. For sure the discussions will be opened soon, because as a driver at some point it is always nice to know what you will do next year.”
Bottas says his target is for a long term relationship with Mercedes.
Good position for Ferrari – Grosjean
Romain Grosjean believes that he is in a good position to take a seat at Ferrari next season should one become free, but adds nobody knows how the grid will line up.
The Frenchman joined Haas who has an engine and technical partnership with Ferrari, meaning the team is widely viewed as a stepping stone into the Scuderia.
Ferrari has neither Sebastian Vettel or Kimi Raikkonen under contract next season, with rumours which have become an almost annual occurrence, saying the team may drop the Finn at the end of the year.
Asked by Sky Sports, if he felt he was first in line for a seat at Ferrari, Grosjean replied: “Good question, I don’t know. Life is full of surprise.”
“If you ask Valtteri what he was doing last December, I’m sure he was thinking ‘I’m going to go again with Williams’ and the next thing you know he’s in a world championship car.”
In 2015, the Frenchman told the broadcaster, that he was learning Italian to make his Ferrari dream come true. Asked if there is contact with Ferrari, Grosjean said: “It’s early days.”
The thing appearing to hold the market is Valtteri Bottas’s future with Mercedes and whether he renews his deal.
Grosjean has yet to win a race in his F1 career while his best result with Haas is a fifth-place finish at last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
Sauber drivers surprised by Kaltenborn’s departure
Both Sauber drivers Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericson say they have been surprised by the “sudden” departure of team principal Monisha Kaltenborn.
Kaltenborn parted company with the team by mutual consent on Wednesday over ‘diverging views’ with others over the future direction of the team. “It’s all been quite sudden, the last 48 hours all happening, suggest, Sauber,” said Ericsson.
“We have to trust the owners that they know what they are doing and that they have a good plan for the future.”
Wehrlein added: “I was quite surprised when I heard this on Tuesday so I didn’t expect it.” Sources suggested Kaltenborn’s opposition to plans to favour Ericsson over Wehrlein was among the issues behind her departure.
Sauber and Ericsson have denied that calling it “very disrespectful towards every single member of Sauber F1 team.” Asked his opinion, Wehrlein told Autosport “I’m sorry but I will not comment on this question… This is my job and this is what I have to do.”
The German said in a call from Kaltenborn, in which “she told me about it and of course I was really surprised.”
Ericsson added: “I haven’t spoken personally with Monisha. I don’t know the details yet or the reasoning for it. I guess I will find out later.
“I have a lot to thank Monisha for. She was the one who gave me the chance to come here.”
New teams have expressed interest – Todt
FIA President Jean Todt says prospective teams have expressed an interest in joining the grid in the near future. Currently, there are only ten teams on the grid, but the FIA is hoping to expand to twelve when strong and viable teams come forward.
He told the FIA Sports Conference “When we feel it is time, we will be able to make a tender. At the moment we have ten teams and the idea is to have up to 12 teams.”
“So we have an opportunity, if we have one or two strong newcomers it could be possible. There are always rumours, but we have had some interest from some teams.” Todt says there has been interest, lately.
Todt who is running for re-election in December believes that it is natural any new team goes through the ‘tender’ process which allowed Haas to enter in 2016 to make sure it can compete in the sport.
“First we need to check ourselves the request. It’s going through a kind of audit to see who are the potential buyers. If it’s a big manufacturer, it’s easy, if it’s a privateer, you need to be more careful.”
“And then, once you are sure that there is a real interest, and once you’re sure that people are able, like it was the case with Haas, for example, then we make tender.”
Sky Sports exclusive deal detrimental for F1
Formula One bosses have called the tv right deal between them and Sky Sports for exclusive live TV rights from 2019 until 2024 as detrimental to the sport, but say it must be honoured.
Sean Bratches director of commercial operations says he sees the deal as detrimental for the sport. “Free to air is critically important to us,” Bratches said at the FIA conference.
“My vision as it relates to media rights is a hybrid of free to air and pay. Our plan is to balance the two but have a prominent, over the year, free-to-air voice.” He says that the aim is 30-70 free v pay, with the aim of being pay as the revenue owner.
However, it still remains unclear whether exclusive only refers to live races or highlights packages as well. But, Bratches says the “deal is immutable. I’m referring to the things that are in my control”
Bratches days that Sky Sports will be very happy, because “we are going to honour and respect the deals that were in place when we arrived.”
McLaren set for penalties
McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne says he and team-mate Fernando Alonso are set for penalties at this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
The team has had a tough start to the season, with a number of power unit failures and both drivers have exceeded the allocation of parts this season.
In Montreal, Vandoorne suffered an MGU-G failure and moved onto his sixth component meaning he has a fifteen place grid penalty. Vandoorne told ESPN “We have some penalties already to start the weekend, which is not ideal but this is the situation we are in.”
“We will try and make our best focus maybe a bit more on race runs and hopefully we can play a little bit during the race.” The Belgian said he didn’t know if the changes would bring a boost in performance or reliability.
Adding “To be honest it’s not up to me to take such a decision. Yes, it’s been a difficult start to the season, it’s definitely not an ideal situation for everyone.”
Vandoorne says he is sure that the team is moving in the right direction and they should be competitive again sooner rather than later.
That’s all from F1 Today this week and we will be bringing you full coverage of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix this weekend, with commentary of every session @F1VaultLive on Twitter. F1 Today returns next week. Preview here