“Complain about tires, not F1” urges Whitmarsh

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Martin Whitmarsh believes F1 is better than it has been for decades and should not be excessively criticized over how tires influenced the Chinese Grand Prix.

Pirelli has replaced the soft tire with the medium compound for this weekend’s race in Bahrain after complaints from drivers that they were having to back off too much to protect their tires.

“Please, because I love F1, let’s not write how bad F1 is,” said Whitmarsh, “In F1, we do it for ourselves, we start saying ‘this is terrible’, and actually the show is not bad.”

“I would rather have more durable tires, but the show we have had for the last two or three years has been better than anything I have seen in 25 years of the sport.

“So all I ask is not get into complaining about F1. Complain about the tires if you want, but not F1.”

Whitmarsh has been one of the most vocal supporters of the move towards softer tires to produce closer and more unpredictable racing in Formula One.

He believes the current approach is good for the sport, although it may have gone too far in China:

“We can always make it better, and I hate it when drivers are out there and you know they are driving at nine tenths. That is not how I like F1.

“But the overall fact is that if you had done a straw poll [on who was going to win the race] we would have got six or seven answers. So that is good for the sport.”

Daniel Ricciardo to decide soon about moving from Red Bull to another F1 team

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LE CASTELLET, France (AP) Daniel Ricciardo says over the next six weeks he wants to decide between staying at Red Bull or joining another Formula One team for next year.

Ricciardo said on Thursday at the French Grand Prix, “It would be nice to go on the summer break knowing what I am doing.”

F1 is working its way toward its three-week break in August with speculation mounting that Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren are interested in luring Ricciardo away from Red Bull for 2019.

“I will be honest, everyone is talking about Mercedes and Ferrari as potential places for me to go, and I am aware that there will be interest from other teams,” he said.

The Australian driver has won seven races in his four-plus seasons with Red Bull. He is fourth in the standings behind leader Sebastian Vettel heading into the race at the Paul Ricard Circuit near Marseille.

Ricciardo’s stock has risen in recent months after his victories in Shanghai and Monaco. His Monaco win was particularly impressive because Ricciardo had to deploy some masterful defensive driving to protect his lead after losing an estimated 25 percent of his engine power.

Ricciardo said he had not directly spoken to rivals Ferrari and Mercedes, but he hedged when asked if his manager had.

“People talk, have coffees, I will leave that one open-ended,” he said with a laugh.

Ricciardo called the decision on whether to go or stay with Red Bull the biggest choice of his career following his decision to leave his native Australia and continue his racing career in Europe over a decade ago.

“For sure the priority is to get a car to win the world title because I really believe I can,” he said. “I am slightly careful because it is easy to think the grass is greener and maybe it is, but I also have it pretty good where I am.

“People do like a change but just to make change for the sake of making a change is not enough for me. I need to find some substance behind it to jump ship.”

Red Bull announced recently it would be ending its 12-year partnership with engine-maker Renault and switching to Honda motors for next year.

Ricciardo was hesitant to endorse or criticize the change, saying he was going to “try to keep putting the pieces together if it is a good move.”

But with the question of the engine manufacturer out of the way, Ricciardo said Red Bull would likely be looking to resolve its drivers’ lineup for next year.

“I haven’t been pushed yet, but I would say that there will be some movement in the next week,” he said. “Whether that is something that gets put down on paper (or not), for sure the discussions will start to ramp up in the next few days.”