2017 F1 season

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Gene Haas against ‘socialist’ pay-out structure in F1

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Gene Haas does not believe that Formula 1 should employ a “socialist” pay-out structure to teams, believing that the front-runners should be rewarded with a bigger slice of the sport’s revenue.

F1’s prize money distribution has been widely debated for a number of years, with new owner Liberty Media set to review how much of the sport’s revenue is paid back to teams upon the expiration of the current commercial agreement in 2020.

Smaller privateer teams have long craved a greater pay-out that is more comparable to what the bigger manufacturer operations receive.

Despite not being entitled to any prize money pay-out until his team’s third season, Haas is wary of making things too even through the grid, saying that top-line squads should still be rewarded for their success on-track.

“I think we just have to be very very careful in how you redistribute the wealth because there are some teams at the top that have spent 50 years doing this, that have earned some entitlement to how the costs are distributed,” Haas said.

“I’m not saying that the teams at the bottom don’t deserve more, but I’m still saying teams at the top deserve more. You can’t just arbitrarily redistribute that because quite frankly winning races should come with rewards and it should not be a socialistic type structure.”

Haas went on to draw comparison to financial challenges that are being faced across global motorsports, including in NASCAR, where he is co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing.

“Other than that, everything else is open to negotiation but I think in racing, even in NASCAR we’re having struggles with that,” Haas said.

“The team owners are typically on the bottom rung of the income stream and they’re struggling. It’s been very very difficult in NASCAR.

“I think to some degree that teams that rely on sponsorship are starting to find it’s very very difficult to attract a major sponsor. A $25m sponsor is a huge sponsor. Today, that is practically non-existent.

“Most of the sponsors – at least I know from NASCAR, they’re more in the $5m to $10m range and you have to have multiple sponsors on your cars at different races. There’s some adaptability to that but at the same time there’s a lot of demand from media.

“So how that money gets redistributed seems to be the question, but unfortunately the teams don’t have a real strong position there to speak up about how it will get distributed, because we don’t own Formula 1.”

Tost happy with challenge posed by 2017 Pirelli F1 tires

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Toro Rosso Formula 1 chief Franz Tost sees no issue with the tires that Pirelli has supplied to the sport for the 2017 season, believing they pose a good challenge.

Pirelli revised its tire compounds for 2017 as part of a shake-up of F1’s technical regulations, making them more durable so that drivers could push them harder.

Teams have managed the new challenge with varying levels of success. While Ferrari has been particularly prolific on the softer compounds, Mercedes has struggled, with its failure to finish on the podium in Monaco being attributed to its ultra-soft tire woes.

Speaking over the Monaco weekend, Tost said that while Pirelli’s tires were proving a challenge for the drivers and engineers to understand, this was no bad thing.

“The tires are a challenge, to understand them, how they work,” Tost said.

“But it’s good for the engineers as well as for the drivers to find out in which window they can get their earliest peak and they can get the most out of it.

“In motorsports, they have to understand the tire because it’s a performance differentiator and therefore I can only say positive [things] about Pirelli.

“In my opinion they do a good job and today I saw the same for all the teams and we have to find the best possible solution and get the most out of it.

“And there are always complaints; either they are too soft or they are too hard or this or that. Forget it, they should sit in the car and should push. That’s it.”

Missing out on Monaco podium ‘painful’ for Bottas

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Missing out on a podium finish in Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix felt “painful” for Mercedes Formula 1 driver Valtteri Bottas as he was left to settle for fourth place at the checkered flag.

Bottas qualified third in Monaco, just 0.045 seconds off Ferrari pole-sitter Kimi Raikkonen, and held position through the opening stint of the race.

Red Bull opted to bring fourth-placed Max Verstappen into the pits early, forcing Mercedes to stop Bottas just one lap later in order to cover the Dutchman, only for this to allow Daniel Ricciardo – who had been P5 – to jump ahead after staying out longer, recording quick laps on the ultra-soft tire.

Bottas had a brief chance to grab third late on when Ricciardo made a mistake and touched the wall, but ultimately finished fourth, narrowly missing out on a maiden Monaco podium.

“Missing out on a first Monaco podium is painful. It’s been a long week and we’ve worked so hard, so it’s disappointing to miss out,” Bottas said.

“I was stuck in the traffic while Daniel was running in free air and ultimately, that cost me a place on the podium. It’s been a really tough weekend for us and we’ve just been missing pace.”

With Red Bull tag-teaming Bottas by splitting its drivers’ strategies, Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff felt after the race there was no way to retain third.

“We had exactly two choices: lose against Max or lose against Daniel,” Wolff said, as quoted by the official F1 website.

“When Max pitted Valtteri complained that his tires were going off, so we needed to protect him against an undercut from Max – and hope that Daniel would not be able to extract more performance in that period.

“Actually Daniel did some amazing laps – similar to what Sebastian [Vettel] did in the front. So at that stage of the race it was already clear that we would lose against one of the Red Bulls.”

Monaco saw Ferrari seal its first one-two finish in seven years and re-take the lead of the constructors’ championship from Mercedes, with Bottas’ teammate, Lewis Hamilton, taking seventh.

“Ferrari were very strong this weekend and for whatever reason, their car seems easier to operate, so we have work to do,” Bottas said.

“We have to learn from this, but there’s a long year ahead. Hopefully this will be our worst weekend this season. Canada should be a different story.”

Haas reveals new-look Formula 1 livery to debut in Monaco

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Following a tweak to its Formula 1 livery design for last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, Haas has opted to take another step and revise its look ahead of next Sunday’s race in Monaco.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas took his eponymous F1 operation onto the grid in 2016, racing in the red, black and gray colors of Haas Automation.

The team made little changes to its livery between 2016 and 2017, but was required to make alterations for the last race in Spain as per the FIA’s updated guidelines of driver identification stickers.

Haas has now taken advantage of this to make more widespread changes to its car design, ditching the majority of red that previously adorned the VF-17 in favor of a light gray.

“It is for the whole year now,” team principal Guenther Steiner added. “With the change in the size of the numbers and its positioning, we looked into making the entire car a little more visible.”

Here was the initial livery:

MONTMELO, SPAIN – MAY 14: Romain Grosjean of France driving the (8) Haas F1 Team Haas-Ferrari VF-17 Ferrari on track during the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya on May 14, 2017 in Montmelo, Spain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

And here is the new one:

Alonso confident McLaren will return to Le Mans in the future

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Fernando Alonso is impressed by new McLaren boss Zak Brown’s more open approach to racing in other categories, and is confident that the British marque will return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the future.

Following the end of Ron Dennis’ 35-year reign of McLaren, Brown officially became executive director of the company in December last year.

The American businessman has already made widespread changes to the company, the most significant being the decision to allow Alonso to enter the Indianapolis 500 later this month and skip the Monaco Grand Prix.

When asked about the difference in approach between Brown and Dennis, Alonso said that McLaren’s new chief has a more open approach that is felt throughout the team.

“I think they are very different and I think there is a not a magic solution, or a magic way to lead a team to success,” Alonso said.

“Ron had a fantastic time in the past in McLaren with a lot of success, and now with Zak things are a little bit more open, inside the team but also for you guys, outside, how you can approach McLaren now is different, on the commercial side, also in a technical side.”

Alonso also praised Brown’s vision for McLaren in categories beyond F1, stating his belief that the team will feature more in the Indy 500 in the future and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans one day.

“I think also with Zak the biggest difference is the vision and the approach for the brand, for McLaren, which is a little bit different and wants to span the McLaren in different worlds and different categories,” Alonso said.

“We’ll see with the Indy 500, I think it is not only this year. I think McLaren will be in the Indy 500 for the future. I think McLaren will be in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the future, as they were in the past, when they won the Indy 500, when they won Le Mans.

“So that’s the biggest change we can feel inside McLaren, that Zak will not only concentrate in Formula 1, will concentrate in McLaren as a race team in different series.

“And the most important thing is obviously to sell cars and to sell the McLaren cars you need to open to new markets and especially the US market is probably the biggest one.”

McLaren famously won Le Mans back in 1995 with its F1 GTR car, but has not featured at the Circuit de la Sarthe since 1998.