In the round-up today: Lance Stroll linked with Force India move; Raikkonen says he has speed but results don’t reflect them; Grosjean hints at possible Renault return; Hulkenberg impressed by Kubica’s performance at Hungary test; Kvyat needs to be more disciplined says Franz Tost; Fredrick Vasseur hints at choosing LeClerc for Sauber next year.
Reports from the Italian media have linked current Williams driver Lance Stroll and his father with a move to Force India next season.
Specialist Italiaracing publication has speculated that billionaire fashion mogul Lawrence Stroll is interested in acquiring a stake in the team.
If so, it’s almost certain that his 18-year-old son – currently a rookie driver with Williams – will also make the switch.
It might just be the usual sort of chatter we usually get during the silly season. However, that’s not to say it’s entirely lacking in foundation.
Force India is considering changing its name in 2018. It’s believed that the team will drop ‘India’ and become Force F1 in a bid to attract new sponsors to the team.
Current team boss Vijay Mallya says that more investment is needed if Force India is to maintain and improve upon its current fourth place in the constructors standings.
“With a little bit more in our pocket we can make that incremental step,” he said. “And certainly fight in the top three consistently.”
Lawrence Stroll certainly has the money and the personal involvement to fit the bill. After a difficult start in Formula 1 since making his race début, his son Lance is now finding his feet.
The Canadian teen finished in the points for the first time in Canada. He then claimed a podium with third place in Baku, and backed that up with a further top ten spot in Austria.
Stroll’s performance has certainly caught the eye of Formula 1’s new boss Chase Carey. He said Stroll’s success in Baku had been one of his favourite moments of 2017 so far.
“In sport, it’s a great story when an underdog suddenly has success,” Carey told Auto Bild.
“Stroll had to listen to all that criticism for months,” Carey noted. “And everything about his father’s money as well.
“Then he did his reply on the track in Baku. I would like to see more of that.”
Naturally there was no official word from anyone involved regarding the possible move to Force India for the Strolls.
However, it might nonetheless cause a ripple of concern at Williams with the hint that things might not be as settled at Grove as had been thought.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen says he is satisfied with the speed he has shown in Formula 1 this year – but not with the results.
“Personally, I’m not happy with the results,” said Raikkonen when asked by Motorsport.com about his appraisal of his driving so far this season.
“I want to win races, I want to be up there all the time and that hasn’t been the case this year too often.
“I know when things are correct and there are quite a few things that happened and you pay the price for it.
“Driving-wise, I have the speed, so I’m not worried about that. It’s about putting things in the correct places.”
Ferrari is leaning towards keeping Raikkonen and Vettel, who have been teammates since the start of the season, for 2018.
Raikkonen has been coy on his future, but said he has told the team what he would like to do next year.
“I’m not very happy where we have been finishing, considering all the races so far, but this is what we’ve got so far – we cannot change it,” he said.
“Is that enough whatever happens in the future? I don’t know. We’ll see at some point. The team knows what I want. In the end, it’s up to them to choose whatever is best for them.”
Raikkonen, whose last victory came in the 2013 Australian Grand Prix, says he is only interested in staying in F1 if he can compete at the top.
“My only aim is to do well, that’s the only reason I’m here, not anything else,” he said. “It’s not because I want to be just part of it – that’s the complete other end of the story.
“It’s not always fun when it’s not going well, but that’s how it is.
“It depends on many things. Speed-wise, we have it, but it’s not enough if you have the speed if the rest doesn’t go as you had hoped.”
Romain Grosjean’s tenure at Haas F1 started on a high with sixth place in the 2016 Australian Grand Prix, but it’s been a hard slog since then.
Troubles with reliability and brakes have been particular bug bears for Grosjean. It’s a long way from his ultimate dream of being world champion.
“Yes, I want to be world champion,” he admitted. “That is why I am racing. And that is why I’m getting frustrated.
“If I cannot fight high enough at the front I get frustrated, because I love winning,” he told the official Formula 1 website before the summer shutdown.
“To think that my last win [in GP2] was in 2011 – that is six years ago. That really hurts. But since then I’ve never had the car to win.”
When asked if he would consider a change of teams he said, “Well, yes. If one day there is the chance to be world champion, then great. When the stars align and you get the chance to drive the car that you want to drive.”
Grosjean pointed to the sudden elevation of Valtteri Bottas from Williams to Mercedes over the winter as an example.
“Life can be full of surprises. Take Valtteri and how his fate changed from the 1st to the 7th of December last year. Things like that do happen.”
Grosjean even went as far as hinting that he wouldn’t rule out a return to his old team Renault if that got him where he wanted go go.
“Going back to Renault one day would be lovely,” he said. “But it should be the time when we really could be world champions together.
“That would be a superb situation, but right now it is a bit premature,” he added. “I haven’t talked with Renault.
“But [Haas] is doing well and I want to help it grow bigger,” he continued. “Right now I am part of a great project.
“I am very proud of what we have done together. And we want to become better, of course,” he insisted.
Nico Hulkenberg says he was impressed by Robert Kubica completing over 140 laps behind the wheel of the Renault RS17 at the Hungaroring last week.
Having tested the 2012 Lotus E20 at Valencia and Paul Ricard earlier this year, Kubica drove Renault’s 2017-spec F1 car on the second and final day of the in-season test in Hungary.
The 32-year-old Pole clocked up 142 laps with a best time of 1m18.572s, which left him fourth-fastest that day.
“To be honest, I don’t have much information. I wasn’t on-site. I had some information and I obviously saw the laptimes. I think, for him personally, obviously a great comeback”, Renault driver Hulkenberg told Motorsport.com at the Gamma Racing Day event in the Netherlands.
“After the severe accident and injuries he had to come back and drive a modern Formula 1 car and to do 140 laps, just like that, is quite impressive.
“Especially at a track like Budapest, which is very physical. So respect for that. And I think the performance also, it seemed alright.
“So I’m not sure what’s going to happen, what Renault wants to do, but the test was OK, I think.”
Hulkenberg says he is reasonably happy about how his first season with the Renault F1 team has unfolded so far, after having racked up 26 points in his first 11 races for the Enstone outfit.
“To be honest, I’m fairly satisfied. I think it went pretty much as per expectation, you know. What we thought in the winter where we would be, we really turned out to be there”, the German said.
“It’s possible to score points every now and then. Actually, we had a few hiccups in a couple of races, where we actually left some points on the road. But overall, not bad.
“Obviously, car performance, recently we made some really good improvements, a step forward, but there is still a lot of room for improvement in all the different areas.
“So we still have a long road ahead of us, but I feel the second half of the season should offer us some opportunities.”
Hulkenberg, who broke the unofficial track record of the Assen TT Circuit during his visit to the Gamma Racing Day by setting a 1m17.02s with the E20 demo car, reckons fifth place in the constructors’ championship is still feasible for Renault.
“I think it is achievable. It won’t be easy. We really have to get sweet race weekends, pretty much all of them, which is never easy. But I feel now the car has more potential than in the first half.
“This should allow us to go for better results. The top six is always the top three teams. If the top six cars make it, they are always in front of us. They are just too far ahead at the moment.
“But certainly I feel that we can score a good bunch of points in the second part of the season. And hopefully [we can achieve] even a bit more and set the odd highlight.”
Daniil Kvyat needs to become more disciplined and less emotional in his driving, says Toro Rosso Formula 1 team principal Franz Tost.
Collisions with Fernando Alonso and Max Verstappen at the Austrian Grand Prix start, a clash with teammate Carlos Sainz on lap one in Britain and an impeding incident with Lance Stroll in Hungarian GP qualifying have brought Kvyat up to 10 penalty points – just two away from an F1 race ban.
Tost said Toro Rosso had no complaints about Kvyat’s pace, but needed him to curb his “impatience”.
“Daniil is doing a good job, apart from sometimes after the start when he is too impatient, or when he risks too much,” said Tost.
“If you look to his speed during the race, if he is just running by himself, his laptimes are very, very competitive and very good.
“He wants to be successful, he wants to overtake people where maybe there is no possibility to overtake, and there he must become more disciplined.
“Whether it’s frustration or whatever, being in the car, especially at the start, you have to have your emotions under your control, because if you start becoming emotional, you make mistakes, and then you crash.
“The rest is OK because he’s giving good technical feedback, he’s showing good speed and, driving by himself, he’s doing a good job.”
He added that Toro Rosso is “talking a lot” with Kvyat to help him avoid further incidents.
Asked what would be said if they collided again, he replied: “Then we would sit together, and of course Red Bull sooner or later would then make any decisions either with a financial penalty or anything else.
“Fortunately, up to now, we had never come into this situation. I don’t even want to discuss this anymore because I hope that this will not happen.”
Frederic Vasseur says running Charles Leclerc or other young drivers in the future “would make sense” for Sauber, amid news Ferrari is considering making the outfit its junior Formula 1 team.
Sauber cancelled plans to run Honda engines next year and instead will continue its long relationship with Ferrari, prompting talk the partnership could go beyond a customer supply.
Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne is keen to find places for the team’s junior drivers Leclerc and Antonio Giovinazzi and said the prospect of Sauber becoming a junior team is “something we are working on”.
Vasseur, who started work last month after having taken over from Monisha Kaltenborn, has experience blooding young talent via his ART Grand Prix outfit he set up with Nicolas Todt.
“As a team, it would make sense to have someone like Leclerc or other young drivers,” Vasseur told Motorsport.com.
He insisted that taking a Ferrari driver was not part of the engine contract but he is open to discussing it during the summer break.
“It is a bit too early to speak about drivers, to be honest,” said Vasseur.
“We had to close the [engine] deal quite quickly. It would be a mistake to mix the drivers into the discussion. But we will have the discussion in the next few weeks.”
Regarding Ferrari’s plans, Marchionne said in Hungary: “We need space because we have a couple of young drivers that are exceptional.
“We need to find a place to lay the foundations for the Scuderia Ferrari of tomorrow.”
Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein’s positions at the team are under threat if the Ferrari project comes to fruition.
Regarding a deadline for having his 2018 drivers tied up, Vasseur said: “I think it will be difficult to do it before September but that could be a good target.”