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Formula 1: Recapping the past week’s news

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With the FIA Formula 1 World Championship a week away from opening its 2018 season at the Australian Grand Prix, news from F1 this past week quieted down somewhat, as teams regroup following two weeks of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

However, a few F1 items were in the news this past week for varying reasons. A recap of noteworthy headlines is below.

Hamilton Still Negotiating New Mercedes Contract

 

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – NOVEMBER 26: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP on the drivers parade before the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 26, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has had ongoing negotiations with Mercedes AMG Petronas to return to the team after his current contract expires at the end of the 2018 season, but a new contract has not yet been signed, leading some circles to believe that there might be a rift between the two sides.

However, Hamilton rebuffed such sentiment this week.

“I’m really super relaxed, I don’t feel pressure from the team, I don’t feel pressure within myself,” Hamilton said in a story posted on the Express, an outlet based in London. “I want to continue racing so I’ll have to do a contract at some stage but I’m definitely not going to do it when people want me to do it.”

Hamilton enters 2018 once again as a championship favorite.

Jean Todt Expresses Optimism About 2021 Rules

SOCHI, RUSSIA – OCTOBER 10: FIA President Jean Todt arrives for a FIA press briefing regarding the Japanese Grand Prix after practice ahead of the Russian Formula One Grand Prix at Sochi Autodrom on October 10, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

As discussions about the 2021 technical regulations continue, a pervasive feeling is that teams want a deal finalized sooner rather than later, possibly as soon as midway through the 2018 season.

While hitting that target is certainly a tall task, Jean Todt did express optimism that a deal can be reached over the next several months.

“I am optimistic that we will be able to find a solution,” he said in a piece posted on Crash.com. “I think we need to be fair to the investments which have been done in Formula 1. Clearly we don’t want to use anybody as a whole or anybody as an engine supplier.”

However, Todt also acknowledged that there is still a long way to go before an agreement is reached.

“It’s a work in process. We are just starting the 2018 Formula 1 season and we are now also working on the 2021 regulations,” he explained. “Clearly – and it’s something I’ve instructed our people – I think it would be very unfair to destroy all of what has been done on the engine to start with a completely white piece of paper.”

Todt added, “So for me it is essential that we optimize what has been developed, what is known. We know that technology is progressing very much. Not only on complication but also on simplification, so the whole idea is to work on what are the engine rules now and make them better.”

 

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – NOVEMBER 26: Valtteri Bottas driving the (77) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO8 lead Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO8 into turn one at the start during the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 26, 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

A new procedure for 2018 is the introduction of standing restarts following red flags.

Some drivers, such as Haas F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean, have voiced concerns about the new policy, citing that a lack of heat in the tires could wreak havoc once racing resumed.

However, race director Charlie Whiting does not believe that will be the case.

“I’m not too concerned about that. I think the grip was quite low in Barcelona anyway. They didn’t put new tyres on, did they? Because it was a quick procedure. I’m not overly concerned about that,” he said in a story on Crash.com.

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Helio Castroneves will replace ailing Oliver Askew for IndyCar at IMS

Helio Castroneves replacing Askew
James Black/IndyCar
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Helio Castroneves will return to the NTT IndyCar Series next weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, replacing Arrow McLaren SP driver Oliver Askew in the No. 7 Dallara- Chevrolet.

The team announced in a Thursday release that Askew wasn’t cleared by the IndyCar medical team after reporting “a balance and coordination issue” after the Sept. 12-13 race weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The Associated Press’ Jenna Fryer reported that Askew has been experiencing the concussion-like symptoms since his Aug. 23 wreck in the Indy 500.

Askew was placed in IndyCar’s Return to Racing Protocol. The rookie has endured an up-and-down season, suffering another hard crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the July 4 race on the road course. He also finished third and sixth on back-to-back races at Iowa Speedway in July.

“This was an incredibly tough call but I have to follow the advice of the INDYCAR Medical Team and my doctors,” Askew said in the release. “My priority right now is focusing on my health. Despite not being in the car, I will be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Harvest GP, giving whatever insight and support to Arrow McLaren SP that I can.”

Castroneves will be driving this weekend at Mid-Ohio for Team Penske in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner has said he actively is seeking a ride for the 2021 season in IndyCar or IMSA with the demise of Penske’s DPi program as Acura switches to new teams next year.

Here’s the release from Arrow McLaren SP:

Arrow McLaren SP driver Oliver Askew will withdraw from the INDYCAR Harvest Grand Prix, after being declared not fit to drive by the INDYCAR Medical Team.

Following the INDYCAR race at Mid-Ohio, Oliver reported a balance and coordination issue, which triggered an examination from the INDYCAR Medical Team. As a result, Oliver is not medically cleared to race and is subject to INDYCAR’s Return to Racing Protocol.

“This was an incredibly tough call but I have to follow the advice of the INDYCAR Medical Team and my doctors. My priority right now is focusing on my health,” Askew said. “Despite not being in the car, I will be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Harvest GP, giving whatever insight and support to Arrow McLaren SP that I can.”

Askew will be replaced in the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet by Helio Castroneves for the upcoming doubleheader Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

“The welfare of Oliver, our team members and fellow competitors is paramount,” said Arrow McLaren SP co-owner Sam Schmidt.

“We therefore support Oliver and the decision of INDYCAR. Withdrawing to focus on his health and recovery is the right thing to do.”

Helio will join Pato O’Ward, driver of the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, to complete the team’s driver lineup in Indianapolis.

“First and foremost, we wish Oliver the best and that he is able to take time to recover,” said Helio. “I look forward to getting back on track and helping to build on the great progress that Arrow McLaren SP has made this year.”