In the round-up today: Raikkonen’s Thomas gesture nominated for Laureus ‘best moment’ award; Mclaren will do anything to keep Alonso; Oliver Rowland second in line to Kubica for Renault seat in 2018; Vettel aiming to beat Ferrari at all tracks; Sainz’s aim to take a seat at RedBull;
The name Thomas Danel might ring a bell amongst Formula 1 fans, after the young Kimi Räikkönen fan was spotted crying in the grandstands during the Spanish Grand Prix, after the Finn’s early exit from the race.
Daniel was tracked down and invited into the paddock by Ferrari, where he met Räikkönen in the team’s motorhome and took home a signed cap.
The moment was all captured on live television and is now up for the ‘Best Sporting Moment of the Year’ award at the Laureus World Sports Awards.
Through August to December, Laureus judges nominate six moments which can then be voted on by the public. The highest voted moment from each month then goes through to the final vote, with the winner announced during the 2018 award ceremony in February.
‘When tears turn into smiles’, as the moment has been titled, currently holds just under 50 per cent of the vote (at the time of writing).
McLaren “will do everything” it can to ensure Fernando Alonso stays with the Formula 1 team next season, says its chief operating officer Jonathan Neale.
Alonso has said he will make a call on his future by September and the decision will almost certainly be influenced by McLaren’s engine plans.
McLaren’s relationship with Honda is tense, with the outfit evaluating its options even though Ferrari and Mercedes have made it clear they will not supply engines to the team next year.
“If I put my personal colours to the mast, I’d love to have Fernando in this team,” Neale told Motorsport.com.
“I know we’ll do everything we can to keep him in this team but I recognise he will have choices – nothing is a given.
“I think he’s a great guy, he’s one of the best drivers I have ever worked with and I’d love to have him for longer.”
Alonso scored the team’s best finish of the season in Hungary with sixth, with his battle and subsequent pass on Carlos Sainz one of the highlights of the race.
“I do [think he is driving as well as ever],” said Neale. “If you look at how hard it is to overtake around in Hungary generally and then look at the move he made on Sainz – that was great.
“He tried a move the first time, he didn’t quite make it stick but he got it the next time round. To do that safely and cleanly as he did is a great demonstration of his skill and fighting spirit.”
Despite the uncertainty over its engine plans and driver line-up for 2018, Neale remained positive about the team’s future.
“I’m encouraged about McLaren’s future,” he said. “A lot has happened over the last 12 months. We’re ready to take that next step for McLaren. Our thoughts are starting to turn to next year’s car and what that is going to look like.
“Of course the engine stuff is in that mix. We need to land all of that in and before the September timescale so our drivers know who we are going to be and what their plans are going to be.
“No firm decisions have been made. We’re in lots of dialogue with Honda. We’re keeping the FIA and FOM close to what is going on. We are trying to do the right thing for F1 but also try to do the right thing for McLaren.
“McLaren is a team we have a duty to put back at the front. The sport wants us back at the front. We want Fernando back at the front in the mix.”
Renault development driver Oliver Rowland sees himself as second line for a seat with the French outfit in F1 next year.
The F2 racer will be running demo laps tomorrow in Renault’s 2012 E20 car at the Gamma Race Day in Assen, in the Netherlands.
But the 24-year-old was particularly attentive to this week’s in-season test at Budapest which saw Renault run Robert Kubica and his DAMS team mate Nicholas Latifi.
“My F2 teammate, Nicholas Latifi, was testing so I got a bit of information back from him,” says Rowland.
“We get on and share a lot of information within F2. I spoke to him last night and he said he had a good day.
“It’s good for me as well as he’s a decent reference for them (Renault) to compare me to him and compare him to Robert.
“But you never really know with these tests, the teams run a lot of fuel and you never really know what setting their on with the engines so from the outside it’s difficult to gauge exactly what’s going on.”
Rowland has two wins in F2 so far this season and is doing his best to emerge as a candidate for a race seat at Renault next season alongside Nico Hulkenberg.
But there are a pair of talented young guns to compose with – Latifi and Sergey Sirotkin – and ‘Miracle Man’ Robert Kubica, with everyone eyeing the same precious seat.
“Robert comes with a lot of support and everybody would like to see him back in Formula One which is why it’s a little bit difficult for me pushing that seat as well when he’s in the frame,” continues Rowland.
“As for the other two, Nicholas is my teammate in F2 so there is a direct comparison there. If he was to beat me then he should get a seat in F1 and if it’s the other way round you’d like to think that I would.
“Sirotkin did GP2 last year and finished third but I’d like to think that I’m doing a slightly better job. We were also teammates in 2014 in World Series by Renault and I beat him then.
I see myself as not coming with the most backing in the world but second favourite behind Robert from that side of things.
“I respect him from what he did before and it would be nice to see him there if I wasn’t fighting for the seat!”
Sebastian Vettel says Ferrari is aiming to make its SF70H the all-round best car this season, and gain an edge on Mercedes at every single track.
The current leader of the world championship is giving the Silver Arrows outfit a run for its money this season thanks to the Scuderia’s impressive turnaround since the 2017 campaign kicked off in Melbourne.
Vettel has triumphed four times this year so far and vows to keep the momentum going while also extracting more from the SF70H’s potential.
“The team is in a much better shape this year,” he told Sky F1 in Budapest.
“If you have the right results coming your way you start to pick up a bit of momentum and so it’s up to us to keep it going.
“But I’m quite confident we have the right people, we know how to build a strong car, and we have improved the engine this year massively, so everything is going in the right direction.
“We will see in terms of time whether we will be ahead or behind but I’m confident we will be there and hopefully fight for a lot of big points.”
Vettel admits that Ferrari’s SF70H still needs to have “a few weaknesses here and there” ironed out. The German driver wants the car to be a force to be reckoned with at every type of circuit.
“Now, it’s true to also say Mercedes here and there have been more competitive and we have been a little bit behind.
“We know what the car needs. It’s normal that from track to track there’s a little bit of a difference but that’s not our target.
“We want to be the best on every track we go to and we’re working on it. We have quite a good understanding of what the car needs and now we have a bit of time to look into a couple of things in a bit more peace and calm.
“But the most important thing is we know what we need.”
Carlos Sainz says he did not enjoy feeling “against” Red Bull chiefs Christian Horner and Helmut Marko during the recent confusion over his future in Formula 1.
The Toro Rosso driver said ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix that he did not expect to stay at Toro Rosso for a fourth year, which prompted Marko to suggest the Spaniard should not “bite the hand that feeds you”.
Horner subsequently revealed that Red Bull had decided to take up its contractual option on Sainz for 2018, keeping him at its second team, and Sainz quickly cleared the air with his bosses to move on from the incident
However, speaking to Formula 1.com heading into F1’s summer break, Sainz said his initial comments were a simple case of “sheer ambition”.
“I have my opinion and I said it in that very moment,” he said. “Maybe I could have used a different wording.
“It is not something that I enjoyed, seeing Helmut and Christian going against me, but it sometimes happens in a Formula 1 career.
“From my side there is nothing else than sheer ambition, and sometimes in the heat of ambition you say things. But that is me. I have targets and objectives. It should be over – so turn the page.”
While Horner has declared current Red Bull Racing drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen off limits to enquiries from other teams, he said if a “significant” offer was made for Sainz while he was under contract, it would be considered.
However, Sainz says his sole focus remains trying to get a promotion to Red Bull’s senior team.
“It is my one and only target to be a Red Bull driver in the future,” he added. “That is what I want, and that is what I have said a hundred times before.
“And if one answer said in the heat of the moment is spinning out of control – that is just modern times.”