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Marko tips Vettel to beat Hamilton to F1 world title

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Red Bull Formula 1 advisor Helmut Marko has backed Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to come back stronger from the sport’s summer break and beat Lewis Hamilton to this year’s drivers’ championship.

Marko played an instrumental part in Vettel’s rise to F1 under Red Bull’s umbrella, the German winning four straight drivers’ titles between 2010 and 2013 for the team ahead of his move to Ferrari.

Vettel has claimed four wins through the opening 11 races of the year to sit 14 points clear of Mercedes’ Hamilton in the standings heading into the second leg of the season, starting in Belgium next week.

Speaking to the official F1 website, Marko praised Vettel’s mentality when battling for a championship, backing him to take a fifth title in 2017.

“I believe in Vettel, because I know his mental strength, and Ferrari has raised its game,” Marko said.

“Silverstone, I would say, was an exception. Ferrari was clearly the stronger car in the first half of the season and only due to various circumstances could they not materialize all their chances.

“We have been 60 points behind before the summer break, and still won the title with him. Seb will use this summer break to come back even stronger. That’s how I know him.”

Vettel’s most impressive title comeback came in 2012 when he reversed a 42-point deficit to Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso heading into the summer break to take the title at the final round in Brazil.

Sainz: ‘No intention’ of breaking Red Bull F1 contract for 2018

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Carlos Sainz Jr. says he has “no intention” of breaking his Formula 1 contract with Red Bull for 2018 despite previously suggesting he could leave its Toro Rosso B-team.

Sainz made his F1 debut with Toro Rosso in 2015 after climbing the racing ladder with Red Bull backing, and has since become one of the sport’s brightest young talents.

Sainz said over the Austrian Grand Prix weekend that a fourth year with Toro Rosso in 2018 was “unlikely” as he pushed for a move up the grid, only for his bosses to hit back hard.

Red Bull F1 chief Christian Horner and Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost stressed Sainz remained under contract for next season, prompting the Spaniard to clarify his comments and clear the air.

Speaking to Spain’s SoyMotor, Sainz professed his happiness racing for Toro Rosso under the Red Bull umbrella and said he was not looking to break his contract for next year.

“As in life itself, a contract has a lot of importance in Formula 1,” Sainz said.

“Looking at my situation, I am happy where I am. I have no intention of breaking any contract.

“I think everything was taken out of context, both my statements and maybe the reaction on their part.

“We are all much calmer and happier now.”

While Sainz may not be looking to break out of his contract, Red Bull is willing to listen to offers for his services in 2018 should a rival team look to sign him.

McLaren breaks up F1 summer break with ‘Woking GP’ circuit

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It’s good to know McLaren can have some fun with the summer break, as the wait continues for the start of the second half of the 2017 Formula 1 season.

The team today made a satirical play with the launch of the Woking International Circuit ahead of a hypothetical “Woking Grand Prix,” circling around the McLaren Technology Centre headquarters in Woking, Surrey.

There is no detail spared in the track map, as McLaren outlined a 63-lap race around a 3.01-mile street circuit, complete with full corner and straight names such as Boundary and Doubletree Bends, Maybury and Victoria Straights, a DRS detection zone and a pit complex on the outside of the front straight.

Within this release, McLaren states: “McLaren has been a Woking resident for almost 40 years, happily sitting alongside fellow Woking-ites Paul Weller and The Jam, Status Quo’s Rick Parfitt, Harry Hill and TV chef Delia Smith.

“McLaren has yet to formally present any of its plans to Woking Borough Council, because it’s a bit scared about how they might feel about the extensive and costly re-profiling of many roads and local landmarks that will be required.”

It’s nice to see the quotes are as tongue-in-cheek as the idea itself.

Jonathan Neale, COO of McLaren Technology Group said, “Why not? Why not bring Formula 1 to the streets of Woking? Obviously, aside from the huge social and financial commitment needed to set up the infrastructure, re-profile roads, re-lay Tarmac, fit miles of Armco, build grandstands, pay for race-hosting fees and gain approval and sign-off from the FIA, we don’t see any barriers to our vision.

“In an era that’s often seen as being hemmed in by bureaucracy and narrow-mindedness, that’s actually very refreshing.”

Zak Brown, Executive Director, McLaren Technology Group, added, “It was Mika (Hakkinen) who first raced a Formula 1 McLaren around the streets of Woking, way back in 1998. When I say ‘raced’, he wasn’t actually racing it, he was driving it. Slowly. Which was probably an even tougher test for Mika, because he never drove anything slowly.

“Still, that event lit a spark that started a fire that turned into a dream that we converted into an idea: to host a round of the Formula 1 world championship on our doorstep, in Woking.”

For the full release and “plans,” go to McLaren’s website, which is linked here.

In the meantime, it’s fun to think about the prospect of such an ambitious street course – even if it’s rooted in humor, not reality.

Romain Grosjean reveals Nicky Hayden tribute helmet for Austin

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For a Franco Swiss driver, Romain Grosjean understands the importance of the American team he races for, Haas F1 Team, and has done well to embrace the culture and team.

Grosjean also is doing a class gesture at the United States Grand Prix in October, as he’ll wear a Nicky Hayden tribute helmet, to honor the fallen MotoGP champion who died in May this year.

He revealed the helmet earlier this week. It features an American flag with Hayden’s signature No. 69 logo and “Kentucky Kid” signage on the back of the helmet. You can see it below.

Hakkinen, not Button, set to drive McLaren M23 in Monterey

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Earlier this year, it was announced Jenson Button would saddle up in Emerson Fittipaldi’s 1974 world championship-winning McLaren M23 at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion on August 17-20.

“We are honored to host Jenson Button at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and showcase a car with such great history,” Gill Campbell, CEO and general manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, said at the time. “Formula 1 is the pinnacle of racing advancement and Jenson’s spirited exhibition laps will provide a superb link to motorsport’s past that fans will assuredly enjoy.”

But those plans have now changed, as McLaren announced Tuesday the two-time World Champion Mika Hakkinen would do so instead.

No reason was given for the change, but it would appear as though Button has become unavailable or has a conflict that’s arisen.