In Brief

F1: Mercedes chase Verstappen, Vettel slammed for ‘amateur’ mistakes

Marko is confident Verstappen will stay at Red Bull despite Mercedes boss Wolff ‘repeatedly’ calling him

Mercedes chasing Verstappen?

Red Bull Racing advisor Helmut Marko has revealed that Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has “repeatedly” contacted Max Verstappen and his father Jos about a potential future move to the reigning Formula 1 constructors’ champions.

Sky Sports reports that Verstappen’s current contract expires at the end of the 2020 season but Marko is confident that the 21-year-old will remain with Red Bull.

Marko told Auto Bild: “Toto Wolff calls him and his father repeatedly and has done for months. But I’m relaxed, the performance clause in Max’s contract should be safe, and he feels comfortable with us. If we provide him world championship-worthy material, I’m not worried that he’ll go.”

Honda a ‘breath of fresh air’ 

Red Bull Racing chief technical officer Adrian Newey has been impressed with Honda’s engines following the team’s switch from Renault.

Speaking to Sky F1’s Natalie Pinkham on her In The Pink Podcast, Newey said: “Honda are really a breath of fresh air. They are great people to work with, very straight forward, very well organised.

“It’s actually motivated the whole team having this new relationship with them. They always deliver what they say. No complaints at all there.

“They’re not quite at Mercedes or Ferrari level yet, but I have every confidence that they will get there quite quickly. They just instil that confidence.”

Palmer: Vettel’s amateur mistake

Sebastian Vettel is failing to handle the pressure at Ferrari says former F1 driver Jolyon Palmer.

Despite being one of the biggest and richest teams in F1 Ferrari are without a drivers’ world championship since 2008 when Kimi Raikkonen lifted the title. They came into the 2019 campaign as favourites following an impressive pre-season, but following the opening two races they are 39 points behind Mercedes.

In Bahrain Charles Leclerc finished third and missed out on the victory after an engine power failure and Vettel finished fifth after a spin.

It was the German’s fourth spin in ten races and Palmer believes that the 31-year-old’s performance in Bahrain on 31 March has “raised serious questions about his series of unforced errors, about his status within Ferrari and about his claim to be a potential world champion this year”.

In his BBC column Palmer wrote: “Vettel’s spin in the race in Bahrain was amateur. Mistakes happen, but this is now four spins in Vettel’s past ten races going back to Monza last year. That’s clearly an unacceptable trend for a championship challenger.”

Wolff: Ferrari clear favourites

Despite their troubles in Bahrain Ferrari are the favourites for this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix according to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.

Speaking to Crash.net, Wolff said: “I would say if they [Ferrari] are able to maintain those power levels on a power sensitive circuit like Shanghai, they are the favourites clearly, because the lap time benefit might even be more than in Bahrain.”

China marks a huge milestone for Formula 1 as it will be 1,000 world championship race in the sport’s history. The Chinese GP on Sunday 14 April starts at 7.10am (UK time).

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