Formula 1's Latest Rumours and Talk: Max Verstappen, Daniil Kvyat and More
After the spectacular comes the steady.
Max Verstappen was all-action upon his arrival in Formula One last year, but the Toro Rosso driver has shown a slightly different side to his game across the opening three races of 2016.
The teenager is one of just six drivers to score points in every grand prix thus far, and Verstappen hopes consistent points will lead to the prize of a more competitive seat next season, revealing his determination to challenge for podium finishes in 2017.
Should Verstappen earn a promotion to Red Bull at the end of this season, as expected, Daniil Kvyat is likely to find himself searching for alternative employment.
But as he prepares for his home grand prix, the Russian believes his performances alongside team-mate Daniel Ricciardo will decide his future, having provided a reminder of his qualities with a podium finish in China.
Another driver needing to remind everyone he won't go away is Lewis Hamilton, who with two victories is the most successful driver in the short history of the Russian Grand Prix.
The three-time world champion will arrive at the Sochi Autodrom trailing Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg by 36 points in the 2016 drivers' standings, but he is confident of performing at a high level for a long time to come, explaining why he is inspired by motorcycle racer Valentino Rossi.
As Hamilton looks toward the future, Renault have been forced to prioritise the present after an underwhelming start to the season, with managing director Cyril Abiteboul admitting the team can no longer treat 2016 as a transition year.
Closing our latest roundup is the latest development at Sauber, who have encountered yet more problems in their preparations for the Russian GP.
Max Verstappen Aiming for Podium Finishes in 2017
Max Verstappen has reiterated his desire to make the the next step in his Formula One career in 2017, insisting he wants to compete for podium finishes as soon as next season.
After enjoying one of the most spectacular rookie seasons in the sport's history in 2015, the 18-year-old has made a solid start to this year, scoring points in the opening three races in Australia, Bahrain and China.
On the eve of the 2016 campaign, Verstappen told Motorsport.com's Valentin Khorounzhiy he would prefer not to remain with Toro Rosso for a third consecutive year in 2017, and Dr. Helmut Marko recently suggested the youngster is on course for a promotion to Red Bull, per German publication Auto Bild (h/t Planet F1).
Verstappen may also emerge as a potential team-mate to Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari, and the Dutchman is determined to further his career next season, telling Motorsport.com's Erwin Jaeggi and Oleg Karpov:
Of course, next year I want to challenge for podiums. But at the moment I'm just focussing on this season.
For me, the most important [thing] is to focus on this season.
But it's all looking very positive for the future as well. I'm happy about that and that's why I want to focus first on this season and then at the end of the season we will see what the next season will bring us.
Per the same source, Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost recently outlined his belief drivers require three years to gain a full understanding of the demands of F1 before graduating to a front-running team.
But Verstappen has shared his slightly different view on a driver's ideal career path, adding:
The basic things about how to drive a F1 car, I think that's what you have to understand in your first year.
The second year is to perform and the third year you have to go and fight for podiums, that's how I see it.
Then it's not about understanding the car, because you know how to go fast. If you have the right package around you, you will do a very fast lap. We just need a good car and then we are ready.
At the end I think you learn a lot in your first season, I think that's one of the most important seasons in your Formula 1 career in terms of learning.
In the buildup to this weekend's Russian GP, Toro Rosso confirmed the signing of former Manor team principal John Booth, who will act as the team's director of racing.
Booth, who will combine the role with his work with Manor's World Endurance Championship operation, has a strong pedigree when it comes to developing young drivers, having worked alongside the likes of Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton in the junior single-seater categories.
Daniil Kvyat Hopeful of Red Bull Stay After Chinese GP Podium Finish
Daniil Kvyat is hopeful of remaining with Red Bull for the 2017 season after claiming the second podium finish of his career at the Chinese GP.
Having excelled in his debut season with Toro Rosso in 2014, the Russian was promoted to Red Bull following Sebastian Vettel's switch to Ferrari, with Kvyat's arrival coinciding with the four-time world champions' first winless campaign in seven years in 2015.
Despite claiming a second-place finish in Hungary and pipping team-mate Daniel Ricciardo to seventh place in the drivers' standings, Kvyat was generally the least convincing Red Bull driver last season and suffered a rotten start to 2016 with poor qualifying performances in Australia and Bahrain.
With Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz both in contention to join Red Bull next season, Kvyat is thought to be the driver most at risk of losing his seat at the end of this year unless Ricciardo is lured away by the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari.
But after an assured drive to third in China, Kvyat believes his performances will decide his future.
As well as outlining his confidence Red Bull can challenge the front-runners at each venue in 2016, he said, per Motorsport.com's Jonathan Noble:
Obviously I think it's a general message: if you keep doing these kind of things in Formula 1 you are in a safe place regardless of other outside factors.
I see my future of course with Red Bull and I would of course like to win as much as possible together, that's my dream. But I think this kind of feeling should be mutual and I hope it will be confirmed to be mutual soon.
Of course I want to bring as many points possible to the team and show even at these hard times I'm doing my best.
Last year was a very tough year for the team but I brought the most points to the team and I think that should all be recognised. I hope in the future it will and I already feel that it is being recognised.
In a separate Motorsport.com article, Kvyat told Noble "there are no problems at all" between him and Vettel following their post-race clash in China.
The Ferrari driver was unhappy with the Red Bull youngster's highly aggressive move at Turn 1, which resulted in Vettel colliding with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, but Kvyat has insisted he "did what any competitive driver would do," referring to the fallout of the incident as "a good episode" for F1.
Meanwhile, Noble has reported Red Bull will trial their canopy device in practice for this weekend's Russian GP following Ferrari's evaluation of the "halo" head-protection solution in winter testing.
Lewis Hamilton Hopes to Emulate Valentino Rossi's Longevity
Lewis Hamilton has spoken of his desire to remain competitive until the day he retires from F1, expressing his admiration for motorcycling legend Valentino Rossi.
With seven top-class title triumphs, Rossi is among the most successful riders in the history of MotoGP and remains one of the leading competitors in the series despite failing to win the championship since 2009.
The Italian, who has tested Ferrari F1 machinery on multiple occasions, sits third in the 2016 standings after claiming a pole-to-flag victory in last weekend's race at the Jerez circuit—the 37-year-old's first win since last August.
Although he is without a win after the opening three races of 2016, Hamilton has won at least one grand prix in each of his nine full seasons in F1 to date.
And the three-time world champion hopes to remain as strong as he can for as long as he can, telling Motorsport.com's Jonathan Noble: "Valentino is towards one of the older riders now, but he still has the ability to be at the top. He still has the ability to do so, and so I hope that I am in the similar position towards the end of my career."
At the end of 2015, Hamilton told Sky Sports' James Galloway of his plans to retire at the age of 37, admitting he is reluctant to "overstay" his welcome.
The 31-year-old has revealed he already thinks about his own retirement but is not prepared to retire immediately after securing a title in the style of Alain Prost, who brought an end to his career after claiming his fourth championship in 1993.
He told Noble:
I do [think about retirement]. Generally when I think about it, I have this three-year contract. I am hoping that I have another three or four years after that.
We all are greedy, we always want more. You know that you have just won the championship, you still feel healthy, you still feel fit. Plus you know that next year is going to be the same year, it is just going to be good.
So you don't want to stop and give it to the other guy. You want to stay in and get it again. So, I think it is a very hard thing to do and I am yet to know that I have the maturity and strength to walk away from something that I loved since five years old. Only time will tell.
Per the same source, Hamilton suggested he is likely to suffer from "withdrawal symptoms" upon his retirement, admitting he may be tempted to race in another form of motorsport.
Last August, Hamilton told the Mirror's Byron Young of interest in sampling NASCAR and MotoGP machinery, with Rossi admitting he is open to the prospect of the British driver testing his Yamaha bike, per the official F1 website.
Renault to Place a Greater Emphasis on 2016 Following Poor Start to Season
Renault are to focus more resources on the development of their 2016 car in light of their lacklustre start to the campaign, managing director Cyril Abiteboul has declared.
Given the late nature of their takeover of the Enstone-based Lotus team, which was not formally announced until last December, Renault had been expected to treat 2016 as a transition year ahead of the major regulation changes set to be introduced in time for next season.
The team made a respectable start to the year in Australia, where Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen finished on the fringes of the points, with the Dane claiming a similar result in Bahrain as his team-mate failed to even start the race.
However, after Palmer finished last in the recent Chinese GP—where Magnussen could only scrape to 17th after suffering a suspension failure in practice—Renault, among the three teams yet to score a point in the opening three raves, have opted to alter their 2016 program.
Abiteboul told Motorsport.com's Jonathan Noble:
We've talked about that internally and we have made a decision not to write off 2016.
We still need to be reasonable with 2017, because it represents a big challenge in particular for a team of our size, because we are not the type of organisation that can split equally resources on two cars and two projects without having one suffering. So we need to be realistic.
But from a motivation perspective, from a PR perspective, from also a loyalty to Renault and current sponsors, and to test our ability to make progress and to understand ourselves better, we have decided to be a bit more aggressive on 2016 than some people may have alluded to.
We would like and we intend to be judged on the development that we are doing in 2016.
Per the same source, Abiteboul said the team's current frustrations have left them "not totally clear" where they stand in the competitive order, adding there is "no excuse" for their reliability problems and a lack of development throughout 2016.
Having joined Renault in a test-driver role, meanwhile, Moscow-born Sergey Sirotkin will deputise for Magnussen in the first practice session at this weekend's Russian GP.
Sauber Short on Spares for Russian GP as Another Engineer Departs
Tim Malyon, Sauber's head of track engineering, has become the latest high-profile figure to leave the team as their financial problems mount.
According to Autosport's Lawrence Barretto, Malyon—formerly of Red Bull—only arrived at Sauber in January as a replacement for Giampaolo Dall'Ara, who spent more than 15 years at the team, but he will depart at the end of April after little more than three months in the role.
Malyon's departure, which has seen Paul Russell adopt the role of chief race engineer on "an interim basis," comes almost two months after technical director Mark Smith, who joined the Swiss-based outfit last July, left due to what a team statement said were "family reasons," per BBC Sport's Andrew Benson.
Per Barretto, financial worries have plagued Sauber's start to 2016, with the team failing to pay their employees on time in February and March as the team principal Monisha Kaltenborn continues to search for "more backers."
Sauber's participation in the Chinese GP was only assured after Marcus Ericsson's personal sponsors provided an "an early payment to ensure staff were paid for the month of March," with Kaltenborn admitting a lack of funds is preventing the development of the Ferrari-powered C35 car.
The good news, at least, is Felipe Nasr will receive a new chassis for this weekend's Russian GP, having struggled with the handling of his car over the opening three races of the season.
However, the team are "understood" to be "very short on spares" at the Sochi Autodrom, according to Barretto.