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Ferrari not yet thinking about Vettel, Raikkonen 2018 F1 contracts

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Ferrari Formula 1 chief Maurizio Arrivabene says he is not yet thinking about Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen’s contracts for 2018 despite both drivers currently being free agents for 2018.

Ferrari has made its strongest start to a racing season in over a decade in 2017, led by Vettel with three race wins en route to a 25-point lead in the drivers’ championship.

Vettel and Raikkonen are out of contract at the end of the year, and while speculation about the future of both drivers continues to bubble in the paddock, Arrivabene is preferring to focus on Ferrari’s championship bid than plans for 2018.

“We are not thinking about contracts now, we are thinking about the championship,” Arrivabeen said.

“They are two separate issues. We are all concentrated.

“As I have said many, many times we are working all together, including the drivers, we are very focused on our job.

“I have to say the contract is not an issue.”

Vettel has been linked with a move to Mercedes for 2018 in place of Valtteri Bottas, although the team recently said that a deal, while not impossible, was “not on the table”.

Raikkonen’s future with Ferrari has become a yearly staple of ‘silly season’, the Finn being the oldest driver on the grid. While the 2007 world champion is yet to win a race this year, his charge to pole in Monaco showed that he still has a spark and ability to succeed at Ferrari.

Sergio Perez still has coronavirus; will miss second consecutive F1 race

F1 Sergio Perez out
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SILVERSTONE, England — Sergio Perez will be out for a second F1 race at Silverstone this week after again testing positive for the coronavirus.

The Mexican driver had hoped to return to Formula One after spending seven days in quarantine, but his Racing Point team said this morning he had tested positive.

“He is physically well and recovering,” the team said. “The whole team wishes Sergio and his family well and we look forward to his return.”

That means German veteran Nico Hulkenberg again fills in for Sunday’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix after having also replaced Sergio Perez when he was out for the F1 British Grand Prix at the same venue last week. Hulkenberg did not start that race because of an engine problem.

There are two consecutive weekends of racing at Silverstone as Formula One tries to pack in races following the pandemic-delayed start to the season.

Perez became the first Formula One driver to test positive for coronavirus, and it had been unclear whether he would be available to drive after the period of quarantine was extended to 10 days.

Racing Point also was in the news Friday after being hit with a 15-point penalty in the Formula One constructors’ championship and fined 400,000 euros ($470,000) Friday for using brake ducts based on those from last year’s Mercedes cars.

The stewards ruled that Mercedes was the “principal designer” of the parts, and that Racing Point made only minor changes to computer design data it received from Mercedes.

Rival team Renault filed protests about the legality of the brake ducts, which were added to the “listed parts” under F1 rules for 2020. That means teams must design their own. Racing Point argued it was merely using information about the Mercedes parts to inform its own design.

Racing Point uses customer engines from Mercedes and has admitted basing its 2020 car design on photographs of last year’s Mercedes car. The similarities led to the Racing Point being nicknamed the “pink Mercedes” when it was first seen in testing ahead of the season.

Racing Point can appeal the ruling. The points deduction drops the team from fifth to sixth in the standings, below Renault. The ruling doesn’t affect the points totals for Racing Point’s drivers.