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I could have challenged Grosjean, says Ricciardo


Daniel Ricciardo believes that he could have challenged Romain Grosjean for an eventual third place at Spa had he not retired after a power shutdown on his Red Bull.
The Aussie was two seconds behind Grosjean when he retired, and like team-mate Dany Kvyat he was set to take soft tyres for a potentially fast final stint after battling with Sergio Perez early on.
“I think we had pace on Perez,” Ricciardo said.
“But they are slippery down the straights, and we knew that.
"Then we did the undercut, but then we sort of got boxed in with Kimi [Raikkonen], and Perez got me back quite easily down the straight. He did have the option, so I think that tyre was a lot stronger.
"The middle of the stint with the prime we were just circulating, I was struggling a bit on that tyre to be honest. I was hoping to get that option on soon and have a good end of the race, but that was how it ended.”
Ricciardo said he would have had a similar race to Kvyat: “We had our sights set on that, we put ourselves in that position at the start.
"We saw Perez had quite a bit of deg, but we felt on the option we would have been stronger, and I think we were at the start.
"It's easy to say now, but I think we would have genuinely been in the fight with Grosjean there for the last spot on the podium. Of course it's disappointing, but it's part of it.”
As for 2016...
Ricciardo made an intriguing comment when asked how quick the car would be if it had the same power as Mercedes – and he seemed to hint that he's expecting better things next year.
“Obviously even last year we were thinking, maybe how many more wins we could have had or whatever," said the Australian.
"That's something that we've got to look forward to for 2016, and see what we do.
"We know the car when it works, it works well, so we've just got to find a few more beans.”
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Another season ahead, will it be better than the last? I'm certainly hoping there will be less politics involved but that's just wishful thinking! Perhaps I will post less on such issues moving forwa

Bernie's really damaging the sport. He's so far behind the times it's impossible to listen to anything he has to say. Just looking at the way other sports leagues have grown over the past 20 years com

I disagree Massa only had one line to of the pits Hulkenburg saw him and could have avoided the contact and still passed Massa as he was on cold tyres. Good race though

Although it was a Mercedes 1-2 again I thought that the race weekend was entertaining overall, really glad for Romain and Max and Kvyat put on some good moves. It was good to see Force India up there as well.

Seeing the master Bernie work his magic on those dairy farmers was classic!

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Mercedes bosses Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff have jumped to the defence of Pirelli, after Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel launched a stinging attack on the F1 tyre supplier following the Belgian grand prix.
Following the high-speed blowout that essentially ended Vettel’s outside shot at the 2015 title, Vettel slammed the quality of Pirelli’s tyres.
It was the second blowout of the weekend for a rear Pirelli tyre at fabled Spa-Francorchamps, following Nico Rosberg’s on Friday.
Vettel launched an attack on Pirelli via the media after the race, but he reportedly also accosted Paul Hembery face-to-face in the paddock.
There are differing accounts of what Vettel told the Briton, but Bild newspaper claims he said to Hembery: “Your tyres are extremely dangerous.”
Pirelli hit back in the form of an official statement, saying teams refused to accept a proposal in 2013 to set a maximum number of laps per tyre set.
“These conditions, if applied today at Spa, would have limited the maximum number of laps on the medium compound to 22,” the statement read.
And Hembery told the press: “I understand Sebastian’s frustration but Ferrari took a risk and it didn’t come off.”
While admitting Vettel’s one-stop strategy was aggressive, Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene denied that it was unreasonably risky.
“We have an engineer from Pirelli – what do you think he is for? He’s not there to chew gum but to follow all the runs. We had zero warning. I can show you the paper,” added Arrivabene.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, however, hit out at Vettel for pointing the finger so accusatorily at Pirelli.
“It is understandable that Ferrari tried the strategy and that Vettel is sour,” he said, “but I have to defend Pirelli.
“It was a conscious decision by Ferrari to take a risk. We took measures after our puncture on Friday and even considered a third stop.”
Lauda agreed: “Ferrari should not complain if a risky strategy does not work out. What Vettel said about his tyre partner is not right and I would not accept it from one of our drivers.”
Christian Danner, a former driver turned pundit for German television, added: “Basically, Niki is 100 per cent right. As it is always in motor sport, when you go to the limit, it can go wrong for you.”
Not quite on his bosses’ side, however, is Nico Rosberg, who had the unexplained 300kph blowout on Friday.
After Vettel’s race incident, the Mercedes driver said: “Somehow we need to make it safer. So if they are not able to solve the problem in the two weeks before Monza, which again is very high speed, then we need to have something in place after that.”
Other teams are also concerned. Lotus engineer Alan Permane told Auto Motor und Sport: “If Pirelli tells us that the tyre lasts for 40 laps, then it should not fail after 28.”
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Red Bull looks set to retain their driver pairing beyond the 2015 Formula 1 season.
The former world championship-winning team’s current drivers are Daniel Ricciardo alongside young Russian Daniil Kvyat.
“I don’t see any reason for us to change,” boss Christian Horner said at Spa-Francorchamps.
“We are very pleased with our two drivers. On the other hand, we have no reason to rush anything, because both drivers have long-term agreements with Red Bull.”
Horner also revealed that Ricciardo and Kvyat will probably have to take grid demotions at Monza in two weeks, due to needing a new Renault power unit each.
“There are still a lot of races left, so penalties are inevitable,” said Horner.
“Strategically, Monza is the most likely venue for that, as Singapore will be our next best opportunity for a good result.”
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Force India has joined in the running to become Renault’s works team, according to reports that have emerged after the Belgian Grand Prix weekend.
The news is surprising, following earlier reports the struggling Enstone based team Lotus – formerly the fully Renault-owned outfit – was close to securing the deal.
Lotus’ recent financial troubles hit their highest gear at Spa-Francorchamps, with bailiffs returning to the circuit after Sunday’s race to impound the black and gold cars.
The matter relates to court action brought by disgruntled former reserve driver Charles Pic.
It comes despite an emotional Romain Grosjean breaking through on Sunday for Lotus’ first podium since 2013.
When asked about the team’s obvious problems, the Frenchman said: “In the car you don’t think about it. I just concentrate on doing a good job as the rest is out of my hands.”
It is believed Lotus’ best and perhaps only chance of mere survival now is the touted buyout deal with Renault.
But now it emerges that F1 legend Alain Prost, a Renault ambassador, travelled to Spa-Francorchamps at the weekend to open talks with Force India’s Vijay Mallya.
Renault’s current period of indecision is only ramping up the French marque’s tension with Red Bull, its current F1 partner.
The story also ties in with reports at the weekend that Red Bull is now set to terminate its 2016 contract with Renault.
“The big question is what Renault’s plans are for the future,” admitted team boss Christian Horner.
“We have an agreement with Renault until the end of 2016, so anything else that is being bandied about the paddock at the moment is pure speculation,” he is quoted by Speed Week.
What Red Bull cannot hide is the potential for an alternative tie-up with Mercedes power for 2016, even though that would make the former world champions a mere engine ‘customer’.
On that, Horner said: “For all these years we have been a customer of Renault. And yet we won four world championships.”
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Brazilian rookie Felipe Nasr has criticised his Sauber team for yet another braking problem in 2015.
Nasr has complained of a recurring problem more than once this season, and now he says it affected his entire Belgian grand prix.
“I basically had only three wheels because of the completely wrong brake balance,” Nasr told Globo, adding that he also had problems in Canada and Austria.
The Swiss outfit, although struggling financially, had tried to fix the issue by switching between Brembo and Carbon Industries, so it might be said now that the brake supplier can be ruled out.
Perhaps the problem is the quality of the work being carried out at Hinwil?
“I agree with everything said. It has become an unacceptable thing,” Nasr told the correspondent Livio Oricchio.
Sauber technical boss Gianpaolo Dall’Ara, however, said the Swiss team has traced the problem to a “material” fault.
“Felipe used the same set of discs in free practice and qualifying and had no difficulties,” he added. “We do not have the ability to buy 50 sets of discs, as some teams do, to see which are the best ones.”
As for Nasr’s emotional post-race comments, Dall’Ara added: “When a driver sees his teammate not face the same problems and racing in front of him, it is an uncomfortable feeling.”
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Russian Grand Prix promoter Sergei Vorobyov has revealed that the race at Sochi could switch to a night race format in the future.
Vorobyov travelled to Spa-Francorchamps for talks with Bernie Ecclestone, with the F1 supremo telling reporters that Russia’s switch to floodlit racing is a possibility for 2017.
“2017 is an optimistic scenario for the night race,” Vorobyov said. “Maybe it will be 2018, 2019, but I am sure that on October 11, the day of the (2015) grand prix, we will have more detail about our plans.”
Vorobyov revealed that it is Ecclestone, the F1 chief executive, who is driving the concept of a Russian night race.
“Mr Ecclestone was very impressed with his view of the Olympic Park from a helicopter,” he said. “So he expressed his desire to eventually see the Russian grand prix at night.
“We also like the idea and will calculate the economic component now,” he added.
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Honda failed to meet 'expectations'


McLaren once again had very little to cheer about at the Belgian Grand Prix with Honda admitting they didn't meet the "expectations" of the drivers, team and fans.
The Japanese manufacturer used a new-spec engine and some in-season development tokens ahead of this weekend's race, but it certainly didn't yield the expected results as Fernando Alonso finished P13 with Jenson Button once place behind.
To add insult to injury, the drivers were hit with a combined 105-place grid penalty following double power unit changes on both cars.
Honda motorsport chief Yasuhisa Arai admits it is back to the drawing board for everyone.
"I must thank Fernando and Jenson for their professionalism throughout the weekend," he said. "It’s most disappointing to us that we couldn’t meet their expectations, or those of the team and the fans, who had been waiting for the updates to produce results.
"We came to Spa knowing the difficulties of managing the ins and outs of the energy. We will look over the data from the weekend - including our gap to the other teams - and prepare for Monza."
Meanwhile, the only positives that Alonso got from the Belgian GP were a good start, both cars finishing and garnering information.
"We were not competitive. We did a good start from P20 to P13 - that was the only joy probably, the first lap and the start," the Spaniard said. "After that we dropped to our natural position and kept running there.
"It was unfortunately not a very interesting race in terms of fighting other cars. But we did finish both cars and hopefully we got some information. But yeah - painful weekend."
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Former F1 driver Wilson in coma


Former Formula 1 driver Justin Wilson is in a coma after he suffered a serious head injury during an IndyCar race in Pennsylvania.
The 37-year-old, who competes for Andretti Autosport, was hit by a piece of debris when Sage Karam's car crashed in front of him on Sunday.
He was airlifted to the Lehigh Valley Health Network hospital by helicopter and a statement published on read: "IndyCar driver Justin Wilson suffered a severe head injury during today's event at Pocono Raceway.
"Wilson is currently in a coma and in critical condition while undergoing further evaluation at Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
"IndyCar sends its thoughts and prayers to Justin, his family, and Andretti Autosport during this difficult time.
"Additional updates to Wilson's condition will be released when available."
Wilson started his Formula 1 career with Minardi at the beginning of the 2003 campaign before switching to Jaguar Racing later in the year. However, he left the sport at the end of the season.
His younger brother Stefan, also an IndyCar driver, tweeted: "Praying for my bro right now. Trying to get myself and Julia, JWs wife to Pocono.
"Thank you for prayers and thoughts at this very hard time.
"I have no update on his condition, he's been moved to the local hospital, and I'm trying to get there to be with him. Please don't speculate."
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Ricciardo, Kvyat set for engine penalties at Monza


Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo have been told to brace themselves for grid penalties at the Italian Grand Prix, with Red Bull chiefs convinced it will be the best place to run a new engine.

The duo are getting to the end of the predicted life of their current pool of engines, and Red Bull is eager not to risk needing to take a new power unit at Singapore next month, where it believes it can fight for a strong result.
That means Kvyat and Ricciardo will be given the new engines at Monza, which will shuffle them down the grid depending on just how many new elements they take.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner said: "I am fairly certain we will be taking new engines with both cars, considering the amount of races left.
"It is inevitable that we will be staring down the barrels of our next penalty, and strategically Monza is the most likely.
"We don't want to be going into Singapore with old engines or any risk, that is our chance to shine."
Double change unlikely
Although McLaren made use of a loophole in the regulations to introduce two new power units at the Belgian Grand Prix, such a move is not so essential for Red Bull.
That is because there is a new specification engine coming for the Russian Grand Prix, which will mean further grid penalties when it is introduced.
It could be, however, that the team decides to do a double-shuffle at the Sochi race, to give itself a larger pool of power units for the final races of the campaign.
Podium shot at Spa
Horner reckons that Red Bull had a shout of a podium finish in Belgium, prior to Ricciardo's retirement with a suspected energy recovery failure.
"I think for Daniil Kvyat, he drove a strong race," explained Horner. "I thought our strategy was good, going soft then hard and then on a soft set of tyres. So to go from 12th to 4th, at this track, is beyond our expectations.
"It is a shame for Daniel Ricciardo as he was effectively running the same strategy but was further up the road.
"I think he would have been fighting for the podium with those guys ahead of him."
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Lotus urges Renault sale as bailiffs move in


Just hours after Lotus produced a surprise first F1 podium finish since 2013 in the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix, its ongoing off-track issues returned to dampen the celebrations as bailiffs moved in to impound its cars as part of a dispute with former reserve driver Charles Pic.
The Frenchman has taken Lotus to court over his claim the team didn't honour a contract to give him more seat time in the car last season as part of his test and reserve driver duties.
With the case ongoing as it goes through an arbitration court, a court order meant Lotus was unable to take its cars from the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, with bailiffs arriving to enforce the transport ban just hours after Lotus celebrated Romain Grosjean's unexpected run to third.
Though Lotus is confident it will quickly resolve this particular issue, the news comes as Lotus admits it is now in increasing financial trouble as creditors line up, thus making its run to the podium in Spa-Francorchamps – which in turn lifts it to fifth in the constructors' standings – all the more timely.
“We have had a very, very difficult season," Alan Permane told Sky Sports F1. "This is the worst season we have had financially and we have scrimped and scraped for parts and to get the cars on the track is a massive effort each week. So to be able to stick it on the podium is just unbelievable."
"It has been a very, very hard weekend for us, especially Friday – we've had all kinds of money problems as people know – and to be able to put that behind us and do the business on the track has been great,"
Indeed, Permane suggests the only way the Enstone-based team can continue is if its much mooted sale to Renault goes ahead, a scenario he says it is actively pushing for.
As it stands, though the French manufacturer – which originally sold its majority stake to the Genii Capital firm that morphed into Lotus in 2010 – has remained coy on the situation, it is understood that talks are at an advanced stage.
“The team is incredibly excited about it. We would welcome them back with open arms obviously. We've got a great relationship and a great partnership with Mercedes, but to be a works team again would be fantastic.
“Then we can build on what we have now, build on the chassis we have this year and then try to emulate what we did with Renault in 2005 and 2006 [when they won the world title] – that is what we want to do."
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Raikkonen: Ferrari doing the right things, but...


A new contract does not appear to have changed old luck for Kimi Raikkonen, as the Finn soldiered to seventh place in the Belgian Grand Prix.
After months of debate, Ferrari finally took up its option on Raikkonen's contract ahead of the Spa-Francorchamps weekend but, after a promising run in practice, the 2007 world champion ran into mechanical trouble in qualifying and spent his Sunday afternoon attempting to recover from an unrepresentative row eight start.
Benefiting from the absence of both Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz from the grid, Raikkonen made a solid start, and rose as high as fourth during the first round of pit-stops, but ultimately found himself unable to better seventh as his tyres went off in the latter stages.
“It's disappointing, not just for me, but for the team,” the Finn sighed, “Obviously, our starting place wasn't ideal after what happened [on Saturday] - we tried to do our best but, obviously, it's not a very good place to finish, although it's better than where we started.
“We had two issues this weekend and it hurt both cars quite badly. I just couldn't get past [Massa] as was behind one car and I was behind him, so more or less every lap he got DRS and nothing changed. After the pit-stop, I got next to him and had a good run down the left-hand side, but that was more or less the only chance to get past him. In the end, I struggled a bit with my front tyres and couldn't really challenge.”
Despite the frustration, Raikkonen's points were the only ones that Ferrari would leave with, following team-mate Sebastian Vettel's late tyre failure.
“We have to be realistic with where we started today,” he noted, “We did our best and, obviously, it's not where we want to finish, but that was our maximum today.
“We are doing the right things as a team but, sometimes, something seems to happen and it we're not really getting the result. But we'll keep working and improving things and, hopefully, we'll get the results at some point.”
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For embattled Lotus, time may be running out just as Renault enters a further period of delay regarding the decision about their future in Formula 1.
According to various media sources including the Swiss newspaper Blick, all the equipment belonging to the Enstone team – which is reportedly close to being bought out so that Renault can return to full works status – was detained at Spa-Francorchamps on the order of court bailiffs.
Among the seized equipment are the black and gold F1 cars, with disgruntled former reserve driver Charles Pic reportedly demanding a €750,000 settlement.
The Telegraph said deputy boss Federico Gastaldi “is now working with team owner Gerard Lopez on a solution.”
The Times correspondent Kevin Eason added: “Lotus executives were negotiating with Pic’s lawyers for a settlement on Monday but it is clear the financial pressure is beginning to tell”.
Part of the reason for the delay might be the contractual dispute between Renault and its current premier F1 team partner Red Bull, who are said to want to break the 2016 engine supply deal.
But according to AS sports newspaper, Renault is insisting that Red Bull respect the deal, or at least pay a massive €40 million penalty for breaking it.
Not only that, anything other than an amicable solution could also cost Red Bull up to EUR 80 million in the form of its current title sponsorship by Infiniti, the luxury division of Renault-owned Nissan.
All the while, Renault is busily deciding its next steps in F1, with ambassador Alain Prost said to have commenced parallel talks with Force India at Spa.
“We are completing the process of analysing the situation,” the F1 legend told the French broadcaster Canal Plus.
“The decision is a little delayed but it will be taken in September,” Prost added. “I think the situation is changing every minute, so I cannot tell you much even if I know a few dates. It is necessary to wait a little longer.”
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Pirelli and Ferrari, both Italian companies, will get together prior to the forthcoming Italian Grand Prix to to make peace in the aftermath of a controversial weekend at Spa-Franocrchamps where the two camps went to war.
The meeting follows the explosion of a controversy at the Belgian Grand Prix, where Sebastian Vettel launched an expletive-filled tirade after a tyre blowout while the four times world champion battled for third position in the race.
“Nobody has ever seen him so angry,” said the Italian daily Corriere dello Sport.
La Repubblica, another newspaper, added: “A war has broken out between Ferrari and Pirelli.”
So it emerges that chiefs Maurizio Arrivabene, James Allison and Paul Hembery will sit down to clear the air before the next racing action begins at Monza next weekend.
Hembery, Pirelli’s F1 boss, told Bild newspaper he can understand Vettel’s “emotional outburst”, including an angry face-to-face in the Spa paddock.
“He lost the podium in the penultimate lap,” said the Briton, “but we will certainly sit down and talk about it calmly.”
Hembery is also quoted by Marca: “The teams make decisions based on the data they have and, in this case, something went wrong between us and them.
“Our goal is always to have a good cooperation with Ferrari. So let’s sit down at a table to find the best solutions.”
Ferrari team boss Arrivabene added: “First we want to do some checking on the technical side, because we want to be fair and not in any way open an argument between us and Pirelli.”
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Michelin’s bid to oust or join Pirelli as Formula 1’s official tyre supplier may have got a big boost from the fallout of the Belgian Grand Prix.
Sebastian Vettel was not the only high-profile figure to boldly criticise Pirelli after his blowout at Spa-Francorchamps, as Nico Rosberg had a similar high-speed incident at the fearsome circuit.
In a post-race blog, German Rosberg said the blowouts were “really not acceptable”, even though Pirelli insists external damage and excessive wear were the actual causes.
Now, Mercedes driver Rosberg has said in his column for Bild newspaper: “I am confident that Pirelli will double-check everything properly before the next race in Monza and that we will be able to drive a safe race.”
It follows Pirelli chief Paul Hembery having hit back with anger at the post-Belgian controversy, “The engineers are pushing the cars to ever narrower limits,” he told Bild, “at the expense of the tyres. First the drivers say the tyres are too soft, then they’re too hard. We (Pirelli) are always the stupid ones.”
Indeed, the Telegraph newspaper reports that Pirelli actually found cuts in tyres other than Rosberg’s across the Spa weekend, with Red Bull chief Christian Horner saying there were also problems in the GP3 race.
Mercedes apparently reacted to the issue by adjusting suspension settings ahead of the grand prix, while Rosberg has proposed that teams install rearward-facing cameras so that potential signs of damage can be monitored.
Hembery admits that might be a “useful” tool.
What is clear is that the Spa-Francorchamps controversy came at exactly the wrong time for Pirelli, as negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone about extending the official tyre supply deal beyond 2016 are currently taking place.
The F1 supremo is a supporter of Pirelli’s, but pressure to ink a deal with Michelin, who are also bidding for the 2017 contract, will now be rising.
“F1 deserves the best,” said former McLaren driver and now BBC commentator David Coulthard. “And the current tyres are not that.”
Writing for the Singapore broadsheet the Straits Times, David Tremayne agreed: “Further controversy could result in Ecclestone opting for Michelin as a tyre supplier for 2017.”
And Michael Schmidt, the highly respected correspondent for Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, said: “For Pirelli, the debate about the safety of its tyres comes at the most inconvenient time.
“Unlike Pirelli, Michelin are advocating longer life for the tyres, and the blowups of Spa are only live ammunition in that argument.”
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Honda have revealed that they have a plan to dramatically improve a crucial element of its current power unit, according to McLaren team boss Eric Boullier.
The struggling Japanese marque’s F1 chief Yasuhisa Arai left Spa-Francorchamps with a red face, having stridently predicted that an upgraded engine in Belgium would match the one now fielded by Ferrari.
Ultimately, it was a woeful weekend for the Anglo-Japanese collaboration, with some reports mentioning the top speed deficit as actually in the two-dozen kilometres per hour range.
McLaren chief Boullier, however, is upbeat.
“You can see that the big step taken by Ferrari since last year was to improve the MGU-H,” said the Frenchman, referring to the energy recovery system that converts heat from the turbo.
“It seems that Honda has a plan to have a very good (MGU-H) system next year,” Boullier is quoted by Spain’s El Confidencial.
Elsewhere, following meetings at Spa-Francorchamps, sources report that F1 could be close to an agreement that would allow struggling manufacturers Honda and Renault to close the gap next year with less limited development.
It is rumoured the development could also bring a fifth carmaker into the sport.
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Former Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne has added fuel to speculation he is a major contender to return to Formula 1 next year with Haas.
As a Ferrari test driver, the Frenchman is undoubtedly in the running to re-launch his grand prix career with the new American team.
Now a Formula E driver, Vergne admitted to the UK’s Downforce Radio: “I have a few cards in my hand for formula one.
“It’s still a bit early to talk about them but I have a few good options which is nice, so we’re going to see how things go over the next few months,” the former Toro Rosso racer, who is still just 25, added.
Vergne said one of the best things since being dropped by Red Bull at the end of last year is that his fans continue to support him.
“Many of them know me, they know how nice I try to be with them, and even if I don’t get back to formula one things will still be exciting with my career. The good thing is the F1 doors are not closed for me,” he added.
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Lewis: Surreal closing in on Senna records


He is just two race wins away from matching Ayrton Senna's record while he is also closing in on a third title, so it is perhaps no wonder that Lewis Hamilton feels it is "almost like a crazy dream".
The Brit's victory at Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix was the 39th of his 159-race career, leaving him just two shy of boyhood hero Senna's total of 41, while his podium means he is no level on the Brazilian's tally of 80 podiums.
The Mercedes driver also started the race in pole position, his sixth in a row, and if he starts there again at Monza and Singapore he will match Senna's record of eight consecutive poles in a season.
Of course the biggest achievement would be to equal the Brazilian's three Drivers' Championships and he is within touching distance.
"It just feels very surreal," Hamilton told reporters. "I remember watching the races when I was five, I remember the first time driving a go-kart and watching Ayrton and wanting to one day be like him. I always said as a karter I want to do something similar to what he’s done.
"And to think I’m fighting for my third World Championship, which he had, and have now got the same amount of podiums as him... it’s almost like a crazy dream that I’m going to eventually wake up and find out I’m working at McDonald's or as a dustbin driver."
Hamilton leads team-mate Nico Rosberg by 28 points on the back of his Spa win and he admits the confidence is sky high at the moment.
"The confidence comes from naturally arriving on the weekend with a car that you know can fight for a win," he told the Guardian.
"There is no driver that is going to say that is not a good thing. But I still arrive with an incredibly competitive team-mate who would easily take it from me. So I still have to have the right mental approach, I know I still have a serious job at hand right now."
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Maldonado's DNF 'self-inflicted'


A "huge off at Eau Rouge" damaged Pastor Maldonado's clutch-control system and later forced him to retire from the Belgian Grand Prix, according to Lotus' Alan Permane.
Maldonado, who had a big shunt during practice on Friday, told the team that he "lost his engine" on Lap 2 and it ultimately forced him to retire.
The Venezuelan reported after the race that they "had an issue with the drive of the car which the team are investigating".
Trackside operations director Permane says they have finally managed to get to the bottom of Maldonado's problem.
"Maldonado's retirement was self-inflicted," trackside operations director Alan Permane is quoted as saying by Autosport.
"He had a huge off at Eau Rouge. That damaged the clutch-control system.
"The valves were damaged and that locked his clutch out. That's why he couldn't get back."
There were plenty of smiles in the other side of the Lotus garage as Romain Grosjean came from P9 on the grid to secure his first podium since 2013, and Permane says they were not really surprised.
"He was faultless," he said. "We had a trying year last year, but if you look back at his performances in 2013, he did this race in race out.
"The car likes being on a lower downforce level so Spa and Canada have been good, Austria was pretty good to us, too.
"He drove exceptionally well and didn't really put a foot wrong all weekend. It was a brilliant qualifying and a brilliant race."
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Russia eyes night race


Organisers of the Russian Grand Prix have set their sights on hosting a night race with Bernie Ecclestone saying it could happen as early as 2017.
The Black Sea resort of Sochi joined the Formula 1 calendar in 2014 and the race proved to be a major success with promoters already considering extending their deal with F1 commercial rights holder Ecclestone beyond 2020.
But before that, they are considering joining the likes of Singapore as a night race venue.
"We’ve talked about it. Maybe in 2017 - so you know you can book your tickets for the next 10 years," Ecclestone said.
Alexander Saurin, vice-governor of the Krasnodar region, added: "Bearing in mind the significantly growing popularity of Formula One in Russia, we are considering extension of the contract.
"We are assessing the idea (of a night race) from a commercial perspective and now we are calculating the cost of that. But we are working towards having a night race some time in the future. Not earlier than 2017."
This year's race is once again scheduled for October before it switches to a 1 May from 2016.
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Button and Webber lead tributes to Wilson


The Formula 1 community is again in mourning after former driver Justin Wilson passed away on Monday.
The 37-year-old Wilson suffered severe head injuries when he was hit by debris from Sage Karam's car during the closing stages of the IndyCar race at Pocono in Pennsylvania on Sunday evening.
The Andretti Autosport driver was airlifted to hospital and it was later confirmed that he was in a coma.
However, he sadly passed away with IndyCar officials describing his death as a "monumentally sad day" for the sport.
Wilson spent the 2003 season in Formula 1, starting his career with the Minardi team before switching to Jaguar Racing later in the year.
Former colleague Jenson Button paid tribute to the Brit.
"The motorsport world comes to a standstill once again," the 2009 World Champion wrote on Twitter. "Justin Wilson was a great person and racing driver. My thoughts are with his family.
"I raced with Justin as far back as 1989 in karting and remember his smile was infectious, such a lovely guy."
Mark Webber was Wilson's team-mate at Jaguar and he wrote: "Last night a very good man left us. Mate. So sorry. RIP Justin. My thoughts are with your loved ones."
The 1992 World Champion Nigel Mansell also paid his respects.
"Terrible news flashed up on American TV. Justin dies from injuries sustained from Sunday's race. Deepest condolences to all the family R.I.P," he wrote.
Double World Champion Fernando Alonso tweeted: "#RIPJustinWilson, my thoughts are with his family and friends. So sad, difficult to accept."
Williams driver Valtteri Bottas wrote: "Very sad news this morning, RIP Justin Wilson. My thoughts are with the family."
Wilson is survived by wife Julia and two daughters.
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FIA set to carry out closed cockpit tests


The FIA plans to hold new closed cockpit tests next month, has learned, with the issue having returned to the agenda in the wake of Justin Wilson's fatal IndyCar crash.
Wilson died as the result of serious head injuries he suffered when he was struck by flying debris at Sunday's IndyCar race at Pocono.
His accident has renewed the debate about introducing closed cockpits in top level single seaters, with work first having started seriously back in 2009 in the immediate aftermath of the crashes involving Felipe Massa and Henry Surtees.
Massa suffered head injuries after being struck by a spring at the Hungarian Grand Prix, just one week after rising star Henry Surtees was killed when he was hit by a loose wheel.
Cockpit canopies
The FIA has conducted several tests over the years to evaluate the pros and cons of introducing closed cockpits – and has found hurdles along the way.
Initial tests of a fighter-jet style canopy highlighted two design problems – either the polycarbonate cover would shatter, or it would simply launch the debris high in to the air and potentially pose a danger to spectators.
But of bigger concern to the FIA was potential difficulties in drivers getting out of the cockpit in the event of an accident – or delays in medical crews being able to attend to a driver because they had to waste time trying to remove a potentially damaged cover.
The downside of these scenarios was accepted to have been greater than the benefit offered by improved head protection.
For example, when Fernando Alonso's car ended up on top of Kimi Raikkonen's car at the Austrian Grand Prix this year, it would have taken minutes for the Finn to have been able to get out if a canopy had been in place.
In terms of F1, teams have also been resistant to any attempt introduce canopies because open cockpits have always been viewed as an intrinsic part of the sport.
New blade concept
Concerns about the downside of a jet-fighter style canopy have prompted a push to look at ways of having a structure around the front of the cockpit that would still allow easy driver extraction.
The latest idea is for cars to be fitted with a series of different height vertical blades around the front of the cockpit, which will deflect debris but also not hinder a drivers' escape from the cockpit.
Coincidentally, F1 technical chiefs discussed the matter with the FIA last week, before Wilson's crash, and have approved the latest round of testing to take place next month.
There will also be an evaluation of an idea put forward by Mercedes for a halo-style concept that would be fitted around the cockpit.
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Even amid alarming news and intense speculation surrounding the team’s future, Lotus is continuing to plan ahead.
The last word about the Enstone team was that, as buyout talks with Renault potentially falter, all of Lotus’ equipment including the two black and gold cars was seized by court bailiffs after the Belgian grand prix.
Asked if the team is now in a state of panic, driver Romain Grosjean said: “No, the team management will not act to the detriment of the team.”
“Of course, the situation is difficult,” he told Canal Plus, “and I have not hidden it, saying that the team could be sold.”
Indeed, Grosjean revealed that the current team owners are willing only to keep Lotus ticking over while Renault makes its decision.
It hurt the French driver tangibly at Spa, when he had to take a grid demotion due to a penalty for changing the gearbox.
“We had no spare gearbox,” Grosjean said, “so we broke our race ‘box and had to take the five-position penalty.”
But he said the situation and uncertainty is not getting Lotus down, “We are talking about a group of quite extraordinary people who come to work at the moment in not an easy situation.”
“On the other hand, we know that if Renault will buy the team – and we hope that this will happen – then it will turn into a beautiful story and an interesting adventure.
“If all the people stay in Enstone I think we will be able to return to the top quite quickly,” he added.
Renault, said to have also commenced talks with Force India, is set to take its decision in September.
Auto Hebdo, a French magazine, claimed the French carmaker is offering Lotus’ current owners €7.5 million upfront, and €50 million over the next ten years for a 60 per cent shareholding.
In the meantime, the Enstone team is looking to secure the services of Pastor Maldonado, the controversial Venezuelan driver who brings millions to Lotus in the form of his lucrative backing by PDVSA.
“I hope everything is done by Monza,” deputy team boss Federico Gastaldi is quoted by Marca. “Maldonado stays with us, as he and PDVSA have a contract until 2017.”
MIKA: I hope it all works out well for the team, I love Lotus F1.
Unsure if they should keep Maldonado, apart from his money, he has no driving skill, reminds me of Takuma Sato, smashing cars and mostly DNF.
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Formula 1’s governing body is to carry out more tests on devices that could protect drivers’ heads from flying debris of the sort that killed British IndyCar racer Justin Wilson.
Former F1 driver Wilson suffered severe head injuries at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania on Sunday and died in hospital on Monday.
The International Automobile Federation (FIA) has tested various solutions, including cockpits enclosed by a fighter jet-style canopy, since Brazilian Felipe Massa was hit on the helmet by a bouncing spring in Hungary in 2009.
While none have produced anything where the benefits clearly outweigh the disadvantages, new ideas have been put forward that might protect the driver without obstructing his vision or trapping him in the event of the car overturning.
An FIA spokesman said the new tests were planned before Wilson’s accident and would take time. Two new ideas, one from world champions Mercedes and comprising a ‘halo’ or hoop positioned above the driver’s head, would be tried out.
Formula One race director Charlie Whiting, the FIA technical head who is in charge of safety, said some sort of cockpit protection would be introduced eventually.
“We have to persevere,” he said. “We must make something, even if it’s not 100 percent in terms of protecting the driver under all circumstances. If it improves the situation, it has to be good. There must be a way.”
The debate on how to protect drivers’ exposed heads has been going on for years, and was revived after the death in July of Frenchman Jules Bianchi who suffered severe injuries when he crashed into a recovery tractor at Suzuka last October.
Brazilian former F1 driver Lucas di Grassi said on Twitter that IndyCar had to consider closed cockpits in the light of Wilson’s death.
“Canopies will be used in every single formula (open-wheel) series in the future. Not only for safety, but for aerodynamic improvement,” he said.
Bianchi’s former Marussia team mate Max Chilton, who has raced most recently in the U.S. Indy Lights series, agreed cockpits should be made safer in IndyCars.
“There is definitely room for making them closed cockpits,” the Briton told Sky Sports television.
“I think we can come around and design something where we are safer from debris and head-on collisions into tyre walls or whatever it may be and we can still get out. I think this (Wilson’s death) is definitely going to push that forward.”
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Jean-Eric Vergne was offered a seat alongside Le Mans winner Nico Hulkenberg at Porsche for 2015, it has emerged.
“I just had to sign the contract,” said the former Toro Rosso driver, who is looking to return to F1 next year with the new Ferrari-aligned entrant Haas.
But it was Frenchman Vergne’s role as a Ferrari test driver this year that ultimately scuppered his Le Mans hopes.
“Ferrari didn’t want me to, so I did not accept the offer,” he told the French magazine Auto Hebdo.
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