In Brief

F1: Mercedes boss tips Ferrari ace Leclerc to be a future world champion

Fernando Alonso makes bold claim and Racing Point unveil a ‘new chapter’

Wolff praises Ferrari star Leclerc

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc is a Formula 1 “champion in the making” says Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.

After the power failed on his Ferrari SF90 at last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix Leclerc finished third as Lewis Hamilton won the race for Mercedes.

Despite the disappointment of missing out on a maiden F1 victory Wolff believes that the 21-year-old Leclerc has proved he can be a major threat for the top honours.

“In Leclerc, I think we’re seeing a young champion in the making who was the emotional winner [on Sunday],” Wolff told F1.com.

“[He was the] fastest man and fastest machine. He got all the cruel side of motor racing and it was our [good] fortune. He has a good personality. He is a humble young man and he’s very fast. The combination between speed, personality and being able to temper your emotions in both directions is a great ingredient.

“I know that many other drivers who have the lion in them, like he certainly has, would have reacted in a much more controversial way about the third place and would have been angry and would have displayed that. None of that you see with Charles.”

Alonso: I am the best driver in the world

Fernando Alonso may have “retired” from F1 at the end of 2018 but this week he was back in the McLaren after testing the MCL34 in Bahrain.

F1.com reports that the Spaniard, a two-time world champion, has “left the door open” for a return but he’s not planning on making a comeback any time soon.

Alonso said: “I think what I had to achieve in Formula 1... it was achieved already in the past. No regrets. If one day I come back in Formula 1 - which I doubt because my decision is firm to stop Formula 1 - it’s if I win a world championship. That possibility is tempting for any driver. But to finish seventh or sixth, or even fourth, it’s not tempting still.”

Meanwhile Alonso has revealed what motivates him in his career as a racing driver. The 37-year-old said: “To be the best driver in the world, which I think I am. I think everyone thinks we are the best, but it’s difficult to prove because especially in Formula 1, unless you are with the right package that season, you cannot prove it.”

Brown: top three still far ahead of McLaren

McLaren enjoyed a battle with Red Bull Racing at the Bahrain Grand Prix but CEO Zak Brown says it would be “optimistic” for the team to challenge the top three on a regular basis in 2019.

British rookie Lance Norris secured sixth place in Bahrain and finished ahead of Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly who was eighth.

Despite the positive result Brown said: “I think that will probably be optimistic [to challenge Red Bull]. I was pleasantly surprised we were as close to them at the weekend.

“But I think we still feel there is a big gap to the top three, and I don’t think this weekend changes our views.”

Big plans for Racing Point

The Racing Point Formula 1 team has unveiled plans to build a new £25m factory at their Silverstone base.

Team principal Otmar Szafnauer told Autosport: “This is a new chapter, the dawn of a new era and there is huge energy from the shareholders to invest and help the team become a regular podium contender in the future.

“The team has never been more stable or in better hands and this project aims to attract and retain the best staff in Formula 1.”

It is hoped that the new factory will be complete in time for the 2021 season.

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