Formula 1 Gossip: Hamilton set to be offered huge £120m deal

Lewis Hamilton is set to receive a huge new Formula 1 deal with Mercedes worth £120 million. The package is reportedly set to move him in line with Formula 1’s highest paid driver, Sebastian Vettel, with a three year deal. – The Sun

Williams has rejected speculation that Robert Kubica is definitely set for a return to Formula 1 next year. A spokesperson said “Although conversations are ongoing with Kubica, it is still yet to be finally decided who will replace Felipe Massa“. – F1 Fansite

Sauber are set for a number of announcements this week, one of which is rumoured to be a rebranding of their engines to Alfa Romeo, with a deal already effectively completed. – Sportsmole

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Sebastian Vettel has joked that next season “should be a walk in the park” when asked is Ferrari have improved enough to change for the title in 2018. The German went on the say “It has been close for most of the year but not close enough when it mattered. From that, we have made our conclusions, learned our lessons so that will help us next year.” – Planet F1

Mario Illien has responded to reports that Ilmor could re-enter Formula 1 in 2021. The co-founder and chief said “In principle it is the right direction – the technology must become simpler and cheaper, but for a private manufacturer, we cannot do it without outside help”. – Sportsmole

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Raikkonen: 2017 season 'far from what I wanted'

Kimi Raikkonen says his 2017 Formula 1 campaign was “far from what I wanted” after enduring his fourth straight season without a race win, with Ferrari missing out on both titles.

Ferrari entered the year with an edge over Mercedes, allowing Sebastian Vettel to lead the drivers’ championship right the way up to the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, taking four wins through the opening half of the year.

While Vettel led Ferrari’s charge before tailing off and losing out in the drivers’ title race to Lewis Hamilton, Raikkonen was unable to match his teammate’s form, failing to take a single race win through the season so far.

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With one race to go in Abu Dhabi this weekend, Raikkonen offered an honest, brutal assessment of his season, admitting it had not met his expectations after a strong off-season.

“You know what happened. It is far from what I wanted, but it is where we ended up,” Raikkonen said.

“That is how it goes. There is one race to go. We’ll try to make the best out of it and then obviosuly start next year.

“There were some good races, some not good races where we haven’t finished, but that is part of racing.”

Mercedes has walked away with both titles in 2017 after clinching the constructors’ championship three races ago, despite team executive Niki Lauda claiming the German marque had a slower car than Ferrari all year long.

“I think we have had a good car,” Raikkonen said in response. “Probably not the best always, but it has been strong pretty much everywhere.

“But in the end, the points count and whoever has the best car wins. Next time might be a different circuit, different conditions – it is not very straightforward when you say it is one car.

“It depends on conditions and layouts. In the end, the fact is whoever has the most points made the best out of the whole year, and it is like that.”

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Bottas: Most difficult races are where I can learn

Valtteri Bottas says his ‘up and down’ maiden year with Mercedes has given him opportunities to improve as he aims to match Lewis Hamilton’s feats in 2018.

The Finnish driver has taken two Formula 1 race wins plus 10 additional rostrums for Mercedes so far this year but looks set to finish third in the drivers’ championship behind Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.

While feeling positive about his performances having stepped up as a late replacement for the retiring Nico Rosberg last winter, Bottas concedes he must improve his consistency and race performances to close the gap on team-mate Hamilton who sealed the F1 world title with two races to spare.

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“I think the balance sheet is a bit up and down for me. There were many good moments and performances but many disappointments as well,” Bottas said. “The main thing for me is that I grew as a driver and learned a huge amount I can take that for the future.

“But Lewis won the title as my team-mate so I had a car good enough for it and he has beat me this year. I’ve learned from that and I know what I have to aim to for next year.”

Bottas did relish taking his maiden F1 win which came in Russia, followed by his second victory in Austria, and hopes more can follow in 2018.

“The best achievement was my first win – it took me more than 80 races in Formula One to achieve it, so that was something really unique, something really special, that you will always remember,” he said. “But it’s a moment that also makes you more hungry for the future.

“I think those difficult races were the ones in which I’ve been able to learn the most. This year, in general, has given me a lot to work from and I’m always willing, because it’s always positive to try and improve and be better.”

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Hamilton: The last race of F1 cars looking good

Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo have accepted the 2017 Formula 1 season finale in Abu Dhabi will mark the last race the cars “will look good” ahead of the introduction of the Halo.

From the start of next season all F1 cars will run a mandatory Halo safety cockpit protector after the device was approved by the FIA following trails with F1 teams over the past two years during testing and free practice sessions – beating other safety solutions suggested including the Aeroscreen and the Shield.

While the cockpit protector has been roundly backed, despite an initial mixed reception, when quizzed about the introduction of the Halo during the Thursday press conference in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton concedes the cars aesthetically will struggle to meet the looks of the 2017 versions.

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“It’s the last of the era of cars looking good, I think,” Hamilton said. “The last race where the cars will look good. I think from next year it’s all downhill in terms of how it looks but safety will go up. Maybe start a new flip-flop brand next year and be successful in some way.”

Both Ricciardo and Vettel echoed Hamilton’s sentiments but have faith the sport’s worst fears won’t be realised as teams will aim to find smart ways to integrate the Halo into its 2018 designs.

“We’ll make sure our helmets are polished this weekend, so they look good because they’ll be a bit harder to see next year,” Ricciardo said. “I don’t think it’s going to be as dramatic as most people make it out to be so it should be fine.”

“Everything I’ve seen so far looks different but on the other hand I think it’s something that we all get used to,” Vettel added. “It’s no doubt that the cars look better the way they are now but we’ll work on the aesthetics so it will look fine as well.”

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Massa: I have no regrets in F1

As Felipe Massa prepares for his final Formula 1 race the Brazilian driver reflects on any last targets to produce a final flourish to his career in the sport.

After producing a dramatic retirement U-turn 12 months ago to re-join Williams alongside Lance Stroll for this season, Massa will exit the sport for a second time after the 2017 season finale in Abu Dhabi.

Massa, who has refused to comment on who he thinks will replace him at Williams for 2018 amid rumours of Robert Kubica having signed a deal, says he’s in a relaxed mood for his final F1 race thanks to having no regrets from his time racing in the sport.

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“I feel pretty relaxed at the moment – somebody asked me, ‘when you closed the door to your house were you thinking ‘I’m going to the last race of my Formula 1 career?’ and I didn’t even think about it, to be honest,” Massa said. “So I think it’s pretty relaxed.

“I’m ready for the last race and I’m ready for the next challenge in my life. To be honest I have nothing to regret in my career, I’m very happy and very lucky to achieve and to be where I am. But I’m really ready for the next step.”

Massa had hinted at a switch to Formula E but given the 2017-18 season starts in a week’s time he has deferred his interest until next year while refusing to rule out a potential turn at Le Mans in 2018.

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Ricciardo hopes again for F1 title-challenging car

Daniel Ricciardo has said he is confident both he and Red Bull can take the steps necessary over the winter break to fight for the 2018 Formula 1 world title next year.

Ricciardo is currently fourth in driver standings – assuming he holds off Kimi Raikkonen (only seven points behind) then it will be a place back from his finish in third last year – and previously in 2014.

Despite initial hopes the Red Bull car would be strong this year, reliability and a slow start to the season have dogged the team and a race win in Baku has not pushed him into contention for a higher placing.

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Nevertheless, he says he is confident winter break work will see Red Bull improve again to start strongly in 2018.

“We’ll see, this year we again had high hopes for that, next year again we hope to close the gap,” Ricciardo said. “Is it enough to fight for a title? I think we can certainly get close but we’ll see. I don’t want to predict anything too early.

“But I think we’ve learnt a lot this year and I think we’ll put the right work in over the winter to start strong and then that will be exciting.”

Ricciardo leads Red Bull team-mate Verstappen, who has been particularly hit by Renault reliability problems, by 42 points and said overall his season had been good but wants key changes to be made in preparation for 2018.

“Yes, I think on a personal level just make sure I fill in the blanks,” he said. “I think my season’s been good, there’s been some great races but obviously I would love all 20 to be great and not all 20 have been. I’ll assess the year, obviously once it’s all settled and then just try and understand what I could have improved and make those improvements.

“I’m sure there’s on-track stuff but also off-track. And then just give next year a proper crack. I’ve been pretty pleased with the year but I’m looking forward to extracting a bit more from myself.”

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Raikkonen’s 2017 season ‘far from ideal’

Date published: November 23 2017

Kimi Raikkonen has said that although he can “live” with his results in 2017, it is “far from ideal” and wants to do a lot better next season.

The Finn’s last victory in Formula 1 came four years ago in Australia and, while he has seven podium finishes to his name this season, he finds himself fifth in the World Championship standings behind Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo.

“It is far from what I wanted, but it is where we ended up,” Raikkonen said in his assessment of the 2017 season.

“That is how it goes. There is one race to go, we try to make the best out of it and then obviously start next year, try to do a lot better.”

 “Obviously I am here to try to win races and win championships, so it is far from ideal.

“But this is how it turned out to be. I can live with it, but it is not why I am here.

“We started pretty poorly at the beginning of the year, not really where we should have been. It has been better since then but then we had too many DNFs and never really recovered from there.”