F1 ‘not about fastest car and driver anymore’

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Dietrich Mateschitz, co-founder of Red Bull and owner of two Formula One teams, is concerned about the direction the sport is heading in.

“Formula One no longer has anything to do with ‘classic’ racing,” warned Mateschitz. “Today, it’s not the fastest driver in the fastest car who wins, but the one with the optimum tire management.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has repeatedly criticized the softer tire compounds being used this year, claiming they disadvantage his team.

Mateschitz reiterated that point in his recent quotes: “We’ve even had to scale down our car, because the tires were not lasting. If we really went as fast as we can, we would need 10 to 15 pit stops.”

Red Bull’s perceived disadvantage has not prevented them from enjoying a successful start to the season.

The team scored a one-two in Malaysia and Sebastian Vettel took a second win in Bahrain. He’s been on pole position twice, on the podium three times and is leading the drivers’ championship. Red Bull also enjoy a 16-point lead over closest rivals Lotus in the constructors’ championship.

However McLaren’s Sam Michael believes the tires have turned F1 into “a thinking man’s game”.

“If you look at China, the top five places were filled by five world champions – and that is not an accident,” said Michael.

Alonso would be ‘very happy’ to finish F1 career with McLaren

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Fernando Alonso says he would be “very happy” to see out his Formula 1 career with McLaren after signing a new multi-year contract with the British team, announced on Thursday.

Alonso, 36, ended speculation about his future by agreeing a new deal with McLaren, hopeful of returning to the front of the field next year when the team swaps Honda power for Renault engines.

Alonso admitted to considering options outside of F1 before agreeing to stay at McLaren, and was thought to only be chasing a one-year extension in order to be in a position to snap up a more attractive seat in the volatile 2019 market.

However, Alonso confirmed in an interview with the official F1 website that the deal with McLaren stretched beyond the end of next year, adding he would be content to see out his time in the sport with the team.

“I never talk about contracts, but one thing I can say is it is a long-term partnership,” Alonso said.

“I am very happy to finish my career at McLaren. So I don’t think it is going to be only one year.”

Alonso also revealed he had options with teams high up the field in F1 for 2018 just a couple of months ago, but was always leaning to staying at McLaren despite not scoring a podium with the team in almost three years.

“There were some other options in F1. In the summer there were still some options at the top teams, but my desire was to stay with McLaren,” Alonso said.

“But at that time they were in conversation with different engine suppliers, so I had to give them time to sort out their situation.

“Then McLaren opted for a Renault engine which delayed my decision, because I had to understand what Renault’s plans were for next years.

“But when I had everything on the table, everything was pretty clear.”