Reporters – 26/02/2017

Features Reporters

Drivers are all expecting a huge physical challenge this season with the regulation changes, but why has Sebastian Vettel described it as the greatest physical challenge ever?

Greatest physical challenge ever – Vettel

Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel says that this season will be the greatest physical challenge than ever before, because of the changes to tyres and down force regulations.

Speaking to Channel 4, the German said “The car should be significantly faster. Not so much on the straight, I think the straights will be slower in terms of top speed.

“Cornering speeds will be a lot higher which means that forces are higher, which means it will be more physical as well,” he said. “It’s a big change, I think it will be more of a challenge.” But Vettel says it was impossible to predict how the cars were going to perform.

Last year, Vettel drove a modified 2015 car as part of testing the tyres but says that will be slightly different as the cars will have significantly more downforce than what we tested with last year.

“I think overall, I think we could end up pushing harder for longer in the race, so we shouldn’t be limited too much by the tyres.” He adds. Vettel is unsure if the rules will create more overtaking but is hoping the racing will be better.

Speaking about rumours he could join Mercedes next season, he insisted that winning a title for the Scuderia remained his highest ambition.

“I think if you’re racing for Ferrari and, you know, obviously I had the chance to win some championships so you want to win again, so that’s our target – we win the championship.


He has already re-written the history books, youngest driver, youngest winner, youngest scorer points and youngest podium finisher. But why does his father believe it’s a year too early for Max Verstappen to be the youngest champion?

One year too early says Verstappen Sr

The former Formula One driver Jos Verstappen says he believes it is one year too early for his son Max, to challenge for the championship. Last May, his son was promoted from Toro Ross to Red Bull and took victory for the team on his debut at last year’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Verstappen finished fourth last season, which earnt himself praise for his brilliant season as a whole. With this year’s regulation changes with are more aero based, many believe that Red Bull will be a treat to Mercedes, however, Verstappen Sr feels the title might be out of reach for his son.

Verstappen Sr told Ziggo Sport “There is a lot of talk that he will win the championship and so on. My personal opinion is, and that’s my personal opinion, that it’s just one year too early.

“I do think that the gap to Mercedes has to become smaller. Max has more experience now, he knows the tracks. Last year he won one race. I just hope that he can win a couple of more this year. Three or four races would be very nice, and this is possible.” He added.

The former Benetton and Arrows driver, says he is encouraged by what he is hearing from within the team. But the main question for Red Bull, is how much progress engine supplier Renault has made, there is the belief in the team that they had a ‘big winter’.

Regardless says Verstappen Sr, “We know from Max that he always goes for the maximum.”


India is still seeking to extradite the Force India boss Vijay Mallya. But almost a year since he fled the country why is he still arguing there is no evidence against him?

No grounds for extradition

Force India Team Principal Vijay Mallya says that Indian authorities had no grounds to extradite him from Britain and he would not be leaving. Prosecutors want the businessman to stand trial on charges of fraud over loan repayments over his defunct Kingfisher Airlines.

Mallya fled India last March after banks sued to recover some $1.4 billion the Indian authorities say is owed by Kingfisher. He has dismissed the charges against him, saying last month that “not one rupee was misused”.

Mallya told Reuters “The government-owned banks are trying to hold me personally responsible for the failure of India’s largest airline and to repay their debts/ I have a counter claim on them as well. That is in the judicial system right now.”

“Recovery of loans made to a PLC is a purely civil matter. The central bureau of investigation, at the behest of the government, converted it into a criminal matter. And then charges of defrauding banks and money-laundering appeared.” Mallya says there is no case against him, saying let them come to the UK and try as they have no evidence.


This week we got our first taster of the new cars. Teams have taken differing approaches to this year’s regulation changes, so why are Force India fearing a arms race this season?

Renault says 2017 is a spending “arms race”

Renault thinks that this Formula One season will turn into a spending “arms race” between the big teams in 2017, with smaller outfits like Force India will be left behind.

Teams are already looking at bringing aggressive upgrade programmes this season as the look to grips with the radically different rules. Renault’s managing director Cyril Abiteboul, says that he believes richer teams will, therefore, pull clear over the year, while lower-budget operations have little chance of progress.

Abiteboul told Autosport “I think this season will be an arms race, and I really feel for the teams who are under-resourced. When I see this car that we are presenting, it is not the car that we are testing in Barcelona.”

“And the car in Barcelona will not be the car in Melbourne. So race-by-race we have got introduction of new parts.” The Frenchman says that resources for the smaller teams, with most of the teams, would have spent most of the budget.

But despite its aggressive investment programme at its Viry engine base and Enstone car factory, Abiteboul fears current staffing levels in F1 are unsustainable and new rules may be needed to trim team staffing numbers down in the future.


Last season Mercedes poured water on tensions between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. There had been hopes that with Rosberg’s departure the rules would have relaxed, so why are they staying?

Mercedes keep engagement rules

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the teams ‘rules of engagement’ introduced last season following Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg’s collision will remain in place for Lewis Hamilton and new teammate Valtteri Bottas.

The rules allow the teams drivers to race freely, but have deterrents to prevent the teams drivers from collisions on track. The internal policy of the team says they both should “respect the values of the team” at all times when racing each other.

The pair did not collide again in 2016 but Hamilton broke the rule at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as he looked to overturn huge odds to win the title. Hamilton deliberately backed Rosberg up so he would be overtaken and pushed off the podium, which would of handed him the title.

There had been thoughts the policy would have been scraped following the retirement of Rosberg, but Wolff believes it is logical for internal guidelines to evolve every year.

When asked if the rules of engagement would continue into 2017, Wolff said: “That is an internal paper that has grown over the years, with experience. Still, when you look at Abu Dhabi it proved to have blank spots.”

“So it’s something you want to continue to do and develop for the benefit of the team, the drivers and the spectators. The basic concept will stay in place.” The relationship between Hamilton and Rosberg became strained because of the pressure of being the only title contenders for three consecutive seasons.

Wolff admits the emphasis on its internal rules may not be as important if Mercedes is not the dominant car in 2017.


That’s all from Reporters this week, goodbye


Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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