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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.

Horner impressed by Verstappen’s handling of luckless run

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Red Bull Formula 1 chief Christian Horner is impressed by how Max Verstappen has dealt with a luckless first half of the 2017 season, tipping the Dutchman to bounce back after the summer break.

Verstappen has picked up just one podium finish through the first 11 rounds of the year, enduring a run of five retirements in seven races from Bahrain to Austria that has left him 50 points behind teammate Daniel Ricciardo in the drivers’ championship.

Verstappen’s retirements have been down to a mix of on-track incidents and mechanical issues, but Horner is impressed by the youngster’s approach through the first real difficult point of his career.

“He’s been unbelievably lucky until this point, because he has been driving at such a high level,” Horner said.

“To be taken out in Barcelona, through no fault of his own, to have had successive engine failures in Montreal and Baku, where he was in a position to certainly finish on the podium if not win the grand prix was immensely frustrating.

“But he has dealt with it incredibly well and I’m certain that after the summer break he is going to have a strong second half of the year.”

Red Bull has worked hard to cut the gap to pace-setters Mercedes and Ferrari through the opening half of the season, and Horner says the team will not relent in its bid to get on level terms until the end of the season.

“I think the team is working very well collectively. We’re getting performance on the car, we’ve got some venues coming up that hopefully will suit us and we’ll keep pushing all the way to the final race in Abu Dhabi,” Horner said.

“There is a big gap between us and the cars ahead but there are opportunities in the remaining races and we’re going to be going all out to try and achieve what we can, and obviously the lessons you learn apply to next year anyway.”

Sainz: Silverstone crash with Kvyat ‘a killer’ for relationship at time

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Carlos Sainz Jr. feels the friction with Toro Rosso Formula 1 teammate Daniil Kvyat has been smoothed over following the crash during the British Grand Prix that was “a killer” for their relationship.

Kvyat crashed into Sainz on the first lap of the race at Silverstone, eliminating the Spaniard from the race, with both drivers pointing the finger at one another for causing the collision.

Kvyat said at the time that his relationship with Sainz had “never been fantastic”, but the pair have now apparently smoothed things over.

“In that very moment it sure was a killer. But time smooths things – the classic saying that time is a great healer,” Sainz told the official F1 website.

“After one or two weeks you are able to turn the page and stop thinking about it… at least it should work that way! We are both mature enough to be able to turn the page.

“We know each other very well and for many years – we had similar situations in lower categories. We move on to new shores.

“The team is doing its job by telling the two of us that they are not happy about it, and trying to make sure that it does not happen again. It is a situation that can happen once in a lifetime.

“It happened in Silverstone, and I hope that was my ‘one time’.”

Rowland: ‘Difficult’ fighting Kubica for 2018 Renault F1 seat

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Formula 2 racer Oliver Rowland feels it is “difficult” to fight against Robert Kubica for a Renault Formula 1 seat in 2018 given the momentum behind the Pole to make a racing return.

Kubica’s remarkable comeback from severe injuries to his right arm sustained while rallying in 2011 took another step forward on Wednesday when he completed a test in a 2017 F1 car with Renault in Hungary, putting in a competitive display.

Kubica appears to be in contention for a full-time seat with Renault for 2018 – if not earlier – giving Rowland, its current development driver, some serious competition in the race to replace the struggling Jolyon Palmer.

Besides Rowland, Renault also has Canadian youngster Nicholas Latifi and Russia’s Sergey Sirotkin on its books, but the Briton feels he is better placed than them to step up to F1 with Renault.

“Robert was an incredible driver back in his day. He’s been injured, he’s come back, he’s got some restrictions with his arm – we just have to see how that affects him and what performance he brings with that,” Rowland told Channel 4 F1.

“Robert comes with a lot of support and everybody would like to see him back in Formula 1, which is why it’s a little bit difficult for me pushing that seat as well when he’s in the frame.

“As for the other two, Nicholas is my teammate in F2 so there is a direct comparison there. If he was to beat me then he should get a seat in F1 and if it’s the other way round you’d like to think that I would.

“Sirotkin did GP2 last year and finished third but I’d like to think that I’m doing a slightly better job. We were also teammates in 2014 in World Series by Renault and I beat him then.

“I see myself as not coming with the most backing in the world but second favorite behind Robert from that side of things.

“I respect him from what he did before, and it would be nice to see him there if I wasn’t fighting for the seat!”

Spanish motorcycle legend Angel Nieto dies aged 70

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Thirteen-time motorcycle world champion Angel Nieto has died at the age of 70 from injuries sustained in a road accident earlier this week.

Nieto was struck by a car after falling off his quad bike, suffering severe head injuries that led to him being placed in a medically-induced coma.

Nieto’s condition worsened earlier this week, with his passing being announced in a statement from MotoGP released on Thursday evening.

“Spanish motorcycling legend Angel Nieto sadly passed away on August 3rd, succumbing to injuries sustained in a quad bike accident in Ibiza some days before,” the statement reads.

“A true giant of the sport in Spain and on the world stage, the Champion from Zamora will be deeply missed.

“Nieto was a 13-time World Champion, but due to superstition would always refer to the number as 12 + 1. Born in Castile and Leon in 1947, the Spaniard would emerge as the leading force in establishing his nation as a motorcycling world power, winning an incredible 90 Grands Prix and taking 139 podiums on his way to his 12 + 1 world titles.

“Over almost two decades, Nieto set his name in stone as a true great, competing in and often dominating the 50cc, 80cc and 125cc events and Championships he entered.

“This dominance and brilliance over 19 years at the top established him as one of the all-time elite – alongside the likes of Giacomo Agostini, Valentino Rossi, Mike Hailwood and Phil Read in the annals of two-wheeled history.

“Six 50cc World Championships and seven on 125cc machinery also make Nieto the rider to have won the most titles with different manufacturers, as the Spaniard rode for and won on Derbi, Bultaco, Garelli, Minarelli and Kreidler machinery.

“He also took domestic titles in every conceivable class from 50cc up to 750cc in his native Spain, setting his legend in stone at home as well as on the world stage.

“His cavalier charisma and character were a great reflection of the late 1960s and ‘70s, with his personality more than matching his achievements on-track.

“Later Nieto was also a team manager, at the helm when Emilio Alzamora won the 125 World Championship in 1999, and became the head of a motorcycling dynasty as family members followed his path into the world of two wheels.

“The Nieto name remains synonymous with Spanish motorcycling and the 12 + 1 World Champion will be deeply missed; forever remaining an inspiration to his nation and to the entire MotoGP paddock.”