Button predicts “slapped wrist” for Mercedes

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Jenson Button expects Mercedes to get no more than a “slapped wrist” for breaking F1’s testing regulations.

The FIA is investigating Mercedes after Red Bull and Ferrari protested them for conducting a three-day tire test in the run-up to the Monaco Grand Prix.

However Button does not believe it helped them win the race: “Mercedes have done a great job and even without that tire test I think they would have won the race,” he told The Guardian.

“I think the teams that protested are more surprised that it happened. I can’t see the result changing. I don’t know what they can do, if anything at all.”

He suggested any punishment would be “maybe a slapped wrist”.

“I think the teams that protested just wanted clarification because we’d all love to do 1,000km to understand [the tires] a bit more because we’re all so limited on testing.”

Article 22.4h of the FIA Sporting Regulations forbids testing “between the start of a ten day period which precedes the start of the first event of the championship and 31 December of the same year”.

Mercedes and Pirelli say they approached the FIA for permission to do the test and obtained it. However the FIA says it instructed the team and F1’s tire supplier to invite other teams to the test, which did not happen.

However Lewis Hamilton, who was present at the test with team mate Nico Rosberg, said he was not concerned about a response from the FIA: “We were required to do some work, we did some work, it was good fun.

“Right now I’m not concerned about it, that’s for the team to worry about. I just have to focus on myself and try and get my act together.”

Hartley happy with ‘big progression’ on first day with Toro Rosso

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With 69 laps completed (28 in free practice one and 41 in free practice two) and respectable lap times in both sessions, Brendon Hartley quickly acclimated to a modern day Formula 1 chassis in his first run with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Porsche factory driver has been drafted into the team following a convoluted series of musical chairs that sees Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race absence, Carlos Sainz Jr. now at Renault and Pierre Gasly racing at the Super Formula season finale in Suzuka.

Over the time in the car today, Hartley experienced changeable conditions in FP1 before a more normal FP2, and discovered the new F1 cockpit after a day learning in the garage yesterday.

“A steep learning curve today! It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy,” the New Zealander reflected at day’s end.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day.

“The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1…it was quite an eye-opener! Another challenge are the tires, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tires there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tire pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.

“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”

His best lap was 1.1 seconds up on Friday driver Sean Gelael, the Indonesian Formula 2 driver, in FP1 (1:39.267 to 1:40.406, good enough for 14th) and 1.1 seconds off the returning Kvyat in FP2 (1:37.987 to 1:36.761, good enough for 17th). Interestingly, the Gelael/Hartley combination in FP1 marked the second time in three races that Toro Rosso had a pair of drivers in its cars without a single Grand Prix start between them – Gasly’s debut at Malaysia was the other, when he and Gelael were in in FP1.

Coming into Friday’s running, Hartley said he was more ready for this opportunity now than he had been as a teenager. He admitted he’d called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 withdrawal news earlier this year to say he was game for any chance that might come.

“I’m a lot stronger than I was back then, basically. I wasn’t ready at 18 years old. I like to think I’m ready now,” he said.

“I haven’t driven a single-seater since 2012, but I like to think that Porsche LMP1 has hopefully prepared me well.”

As for the rest of his weekend, it’s been made more complicated by Hartley being assessed a 25-spot grid penalty, even though Hartley had done nothing to accrue the penalties.

The roundabout sequence of driver changes at Toro Rosso saw Gasly replace Kvyat, Kvyat replace Sainz, and now Hartley replace Gasly, as is outlined by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton below.