Thursday, September 21, 2017
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Auer future not affected after Force India decisions

Lucas Auer says Force India deciding to keep the same drivers for 2018 doesn't affect his own motor racing future. Earlier, the Austrian - whose uncle is the F1 legend Gerhard Berger - tested for the Silverstone based team thanks to his pink-coloured sponsor BWT.

Force India's driver lineup was up in the air for 2018 as Sergio Perez was linked with Renault and Williams, and the Mexican has been squabbling with his teammate Esteban Ocon. But Perez has now re-signed for 2018, and Frenchman Ocon subsequently announced on Twitter that he is also staying at Force India next year.

Asked how that will affect his own plans, Auer told Servus TV: "Not much. The test was a huge trust in me and I am still in contact, but my focus is on the DTM."

Auer's uncle Berger, who is also the DTM series chief, agreed: "Luki still has chances. Force India has an eye on him. You can already see that because he was invited to the test without my help -- he really worked it out for himself," the former Ferrari and McLaren driver added. "He has a very good chance of winning the DTM (title)," Berger said. "And with his test, he has shown that coming into formula one is absolutely realistic." (GMM)

Lewis Hamilton refuses to write Vettel off

Lewis Hamilton says his championship rival Sebastian Vettel cannot be written off. In Singapore, as he extended his winning streak to a hat-trick, Mercedes' Hamilton pulled out a 28-point lead over Vettel, Ferrari's former championship leader.

Niki Lauda, the F1 legend and Mercedes team chairman, thinks Vettel's first corner crash on Sunday cost the German dearly. "28 points is not bad for us," Lauda told Auto Motor und Sport. "Until now, it was always two or three points in one direction or the other. But 28 is a cushion. I would say this was a small preliminary decision," he admitted.

Briton Hamilton, however, doesn't think so. He is quoted by Bild newspaper: "Coming up we have Japan where you need a lot of downforce, so that definitely won't be our strongest circuit."

"In Brazil the others will be strong as well, and in Mexico the teams with the most downforce could have the upper hand," Hamilton added. "Honestly I think it's going to be very close. It's hard to predict," he said. "We'll find out when we get there." (GMM)

Haas F1 Team defends Singapore ‘team orders’

Haas boss Gunther Steiner has defended a case of 'team orders' imposed in Singapore last weekend. When he emerged from his car under the city-state's floodlights, Kevin Magnussen told the media that being ordered by his bosses to give up a place to teammate Romain Grosjean potentially cost the team points.

But he now tells the Danish newspaper BT: "After the race I said on TV that the decision cost us points. But it was a slightly different situation than I thought." Indeed, boss Steiner said the order was simply a matter of making the best use of race strategy to boost the team's chances of points.

"There is no favouritism," he insisted. "Romain and Kevin are equal, but during the races we make certain decisions from the pitwall. We have talked and cleared the air. Maybe we hurt some feelings, but we have explained why and it was accepted," Steiner added. (GMM)

Brown: “Renault move not a short term fix”

McLaren chief, Zak Brown, has said that the new deal for Renault to supply them with engines is not a short term fix and believes the deal will propel them back to the front of the grid. The deal between the two marques is expected to last until the introduction of the new engine formula in 2021 at the very shortest and will replace the so far disappointing Honda engines who have powered McLaren since 2015.

Aston Martin CEO shows interest in engine supply

Aston Martin have expressed some interest in joining F1 as an engine manufacturer, but only if the engine costs are lowered to make the cost of F1 more manageable. The make up of F1 is set to change post 2020 with the engine formula set to change from the controversial V6 turbo's that we currently have to something more attractive to prospective engine manufacturers such as Aston Martin.

Michael Schumacher could be moved to America

Michael Schumacher could be set to relocate to the United States. Almost nothing is known about the extent of the F1 legend's brain injuries, following his skiing fall in France in late 2013.

Now 48, the former Ferrari and Mercedes driver is reportedly supported by a team of health professionals as he recuperates in total secrecy at his estate near Lake Geneva in Switzerland. But the German magazine Bravo reports that with Schumacher's condition still "weak", the German's wife Corinna has reached out for help from the US.

The report said Schumacher could be transferred to Dallas, Texas, where he already owns a cattle farm. There, a brain injury specialist called Mark Weeks has a clinic that could be a "new hope" for the Schumacher family, Bravo claims. "We have extensive experience with trauma patients," Weeks is quoted as saying. "There is probably no clinic in Europe that handles as many cases as we do." (GMM)

Manager Raikkonen not as much involved as before

Kimi Raikkonen effectively manages his own affairs in formula one. That is the admission of the Finn's long-time manager Steve Robertson, who recently helped Raikkonen agree his new one-year deal to stay at Ferrari next year.

But Robertson told the Finnish broadcaster MTV: "The process was pretty simple because the contract was made four years ago. I had not much to do, because Ferrari wanted Kimi for another year. I negotiated the main contract four years ago and the new deal is just one more page."

Raikkonen, 37, is now the oldest and most experienced driver on the F1 grid, with Robertson saying he manages a lot of his own affairs these days. "My role is not the same as before," he admitted. "I'm here if Kimi needs me. I am not at the races so much, only if I am needed, but of course I always follow Kimi and what is happening with him." (GMM)

Mercedes not ready to make Bottas ‘number 2’ driver

Toto Wolff says he still will not designate Valtteri Bottas the 'number 2' driver behind Lewis Hamilton. While Hamilton completed a victory hat-trick and pulled out a 28 point advantage over Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel in Singapore, Mercedes teammate Bottas has struggled recently.

"Yeah, Valtteri has been a bit lost," agreed former F1 driver Mika Salo, speaking to the Finnish broadcaster MTV. "It's difficult to know the reasons -- maybe it's just been hard for him to set up the car. Or maybe it's starting to show that Hamilton is more familiar with the car concept," he added.

So with Bottas now lagging in the championship and off the pace, Salo said team orders is not an issue "because Lewis is simply faster". When asked if Mercedes will put its full weight behind Hamilton for the rest of the championship, team boss Wolff answered: "I think it's clear that Lewis' chances of winning the championship are higher than Valtteri's. As before, we will assess the situation, but the situation becomes clearer after every race."

But Wolff added: "I don't want to say that one driver is the number 1, because it could affect the motivation of the second ... I mean the other, driver." (GMM)

Magnussen praises F1 for racing in wet Singapore

Kevin Magnussen has praised the F1 race stewards for allowing the drivers to race in the wet at the Singapore Grand Prix. Many had feared there would be a safety car start or a delay to the action because of the rain making conditions extremely tricky on the demanding Marina Bay street circuit, but racing went ahead as normal.

McLaren two weeks behind schedule after late engine deal switch

McLaren's plans for 2018 have not been compromised after only recently announcing its new engine partner. However, racing director Eric Boullier admits that it is two weeks behind schedule. Last Friday, the Woking team confirmed that it would be ditching Honda at the end of the season.