Stoffel Vandoorne confirmed as Fernando Alonso’s team-mate at McLaren in 2017; McLaren retain option on Button for 2018

“I definitely need a break,” Button told a news conference. “In 2018 the team have an option for me to drive.”

McLaren described the new arrangement as a “innovative three-driver strategy” which keeps all three drivers on their books for at least another season.

“There is no reason why he [Button] shouldn’t come back and race in 2018,” said McLaren chairman Ron Dennis.

“This is an innovative way of keeping all the advantages by having Jenson still in the team.

“We will see where are in a year. Jenson doesn’t have a desire to drive for other F1 teams. He had offers from other teams for next season but rejected them.



Italian takes fourth GP2 victory at home
Antonio Giovinazzi delighted his home fans after passing countryman Raffaele Marciello on the final lap to win this afternoon’s Feature Race at Monza, taking the top spot from the back of the grid by making the right tyre call and gaining an advantage from a safety car mishap to lead home an Italian 1-2 ahead of Gustav Malja.

When the lights went out all eyes were on poleman Pierre Gasly, who eased away from the fight for P2 between Artem Markelov and Arthur Pic, which saw the Frenchman come off worse and cut the first chicane before returning ahead of the Russian, his countryman Sergey Sirotkin, teammates Jordan King and Norman Nato and local hero Luca Ghiotto, while behind them Giovinazzi only just avoided the stalled car of Sean Gelael before heading on his way once again.

Nato made short work of passing his teammate and Sirotkin to get a better view of the spat between Pic and Markelov, which saw the pair struggling with the first corner as their soft tyres wore down: Marciello and Giovinazzi started on the harder compound and were soon moving forward as their rivals pitted, with the latter easily slicing through his way through the field to close up to his countryman. Up front Gasly was able to easily pull away from his rivals even he had to observe the rules of physics as he finally pitted on lap 12, easily emerging ahead of his pitted rivals and around 20 seconds behind new race leader Marciello.

As the Red Bull man made inroads into the gap up to the front it became clear that the Italian would not be able to pit and return within the ever shrinking gap, but on lap 15 Pic tried to overtake Sergio Canamasas on the inside of Parabolica, with the pair coming together and the Spaniard pitched into a lurid roll: both drivers were out on the spot, and the safety car boards were shown immediately.

The top three on track (Marciello, Malja and Giovinazzi) still had to pit, and took the opportunity to come in as soon as possible: unfortunately for their rivals the safety car didn’t stop in front of the trio as they reemerged but instead in front of Gasly, taking a few laps to deal with the stricken cars before waving the field through and taking up station in front of Marciello, who was able to save rubber on his new soft compounds for when it really mattered, the race restart and the closing laps.

The field took up position behind the trio for a lap 23 restart, and to add a degree of complication the lapped Gelael was between Giovinazzi and Gasly on track, giving the field someone else to overtake as the laps remaining rolled down to zero. Marciello controlled the restart despite pressure from Malja into the first chicane, and with two laps remaining Giovinazzi finally pushed past the Swede on the front straight for P2. With little to lose he then muscled his way by his countryman on the final lap, locked up enormously into the chicane but just held position before tearing away to win by 1.4 seconds at the flag, with Malja a fine third half a second back.

Behind them Gasly was gutted to have lost what looked to be his win, but held on despite enormous late pressure for P4. Behind him countryman Nato crossed the line side by side with Ghiotto, who made a last corner bid for glory but stayed 6th despite finishing with the same time as his rival, ahead of King and with Mitch Evans hanging on for P8 and tomorrow’s pole despite a late charge from Oliver Rowland and Markelov, who had to make do with 9th and 10th respectively.

Gasly will at least have the comfort of maintaining the lead in the drivers’ standings over teammate Giovinazzi, although the Italian has now closed the gap to 8 points, 162 to 154, ahead of Marciello on 138 points, Sirotkin on 115 and Rowland on 106 points ahead of tomorrow morning’s Sprint Race.



ART Grand Prix’s Charles Leclerc extends GP3 Series lead with pole
Scuderia Ferrari Team Development driver Charles Leclerc claimed his third pole of the GP3 season at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza this morning: the Monegasque’s best laptime of 1:38.546 was one tenth quicker than Arden International’s Jake Dennis. Renault Academy’s Jack Aitken made it two Arden drivers in the top three after an eventful qualifying session in Italy.
Dennis was first to lap into the 1m39’s followed by Leclerc who bettered his time by two tenths. ART Grand Prix’s and McLaren protégé Nyck de Vries then headed to the top of the timesheet with DAMS’ Jake Hughes up to third.
Dennis reclaimed provisional pole by 0.020s over the Dutchman with the drivers posting several hot laps before returning to the pitlane at the midway point of the session for new Pirelli rubber. As the drivers waited in the pitlane, Dennis led from De Vries, Aitken, Hughes and Giuliano Alesi.
The final seven minutes of the session were very busy with all of the drivers desperate to get a good position on track to get a tow. There was contact between Trident’s Artur Janosz and Jenzer Motorsport’s Arjun Maini, which resulted in the Indian having to pit for a new front wing. Kevin Jörg also had to pit for a replacement front wing after contact with De Vries.
The session was red flagged when Ferrari Driver Academy’s Alesi stopped on track with technical gremlins. Aitken had taken P1 at this point ahead of title contender Alexander Albon. As the chequered flag was waved, Dennis shot back to the top of the timings but just for a matter of seconds before Haas F1 Team tester Leclerc found some extra pace to lap one tenth quicker than the Briton to snatch pole in the final seconds.
Leclerc’s pole has earned him four more points in the battle for the GP3 crown, whilst the Arden duo of Dennis and Aitken will be eager to show off their tyre management skills and fight for victory with the Monegasque ace. Albon qualified fourth; with Hughes in fifth, however the Brit has a three place grid penalty from Spa-Francorchamps. Jörg, Nirei Fukuzumi, Antonio Fuoco, De Vries and Ralph Boschung complete the top ten with the Koiranen GP driver also having to serve a grid penalty from Hockenheim.

F1Weekly podcast # 710

Nico on Monza
Nico Hulkenberg gets ready for magical Monza following his season-best result in Spa.
Nico: “Monza is a great place to go racing. There are so many different destinations on the calendar and there is something special about each one of them, but Monza is legendary. It’s a unique track, with very high speeds and low downforce. The setting in the park of Monza is beautiful: the moment you drive through the gates, you feel all the history of the place coming at you. The tifosi, the Italian fans, add to this combination and create a fantastic vibe.
“Monza is just on the outskirts of Milan, which is a very interesting place, but during a race weekend you’re just too busy to go and explore. The parties on Sunday night are not too bad, though! We go to Italy at the end of the summer and the weather is usually still quite hot. Great weather, great fans, great food – it all adds up to make a very cool race.
“Few tracks push the car to the limit as Monza does. There is no margin for error in the braking zones and every mistake costs you time. In terms of set-up, you need to strike a balance between high speed on the straights and downforce in the corners, but the focus is firmly on top speed. You also need good traction, to make the most of the long straights. We have been doing well on these sort of tracks, so I expect us to be competitive and fighting for points.”
Sergio on Monza
Sergio Perez looks forward to the high-speed challenge of Monza.
Sergio: “After a month off on holiday, Spa was the best way to get back into action. We had a very positive weekend, an exciting race and we’re now fourth in the championship!
“Italy is one of my favourite places: the people are very warm and welcoming, and they’re absolutely crazy for Formula One. The passion you see from the Italian fans reminds me of the atmosphere we saw in Mexico. There’s so much support; everyone is chanting and waving flags and there are so many people asking us for a photo when we arrive at or leave the track.
“I have great memories from Monza and it’s where I’ve had some of my best races. When I was racing in F3, I had the best weekend of my career there: I started 14th in both races and went on to win both. I scored a podium there in Formula One and I’ve always had a special relationship with the track. It’s not just what happens at the venue – I have a lot of good friends living nearby and it’s just a very enjoyable experience.
“As a fan of our sport, I know Monza has a special place in the history of Formula One. It’s one of the circuits where Formula One should always race. It’s so incredibly fast and the key to a quick lap is to be good under braking and have good traction out of the corners. You brake really hard at the end of the straights and the car moves a lot: you run with very little wing and having a good balance is very important.
“You feel the lightness of the car in every corner because you’ve got so little aero load and it’s even hard to keep the steering wheel level on the straights. The two Lesmo corners are crucial: you need to be stable under braking and control your traction – get wheelspin out of the corner and you’ll destroy your tyres. Then you have the Parabolica: it lost a little of its challenge with the tarmac run-off but you still need to be very precise and use the very last inch of track in this interesting corner.”

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DANIEL RICCIARDO, Finish Position: 2nd, Start Position: 5th  
“I’m pleased with that result, I knew a podium was on today. Of course you can never guarantee, but I knew if we had the pace that we did on Friday, that we would be able to get there. With Lewis starting at the back it was an opportunity to get at least a second place, and we got that. A win is always the big target, but Nico had the pace that we expected, so second is the best we could have done. There was a lot going on at the start and I actually hit some of the debris which damaged the front wing, so the red flag helped us as we were able to repair it. Before that the car was quite affected. Then, after that we got going; there wasn’t too much action for me, but I was just trying to be consistent and the outcome was good! The fans this weekend have been awesome. The driver parade was great, 99% of the fans are here for Max but they were cheering everyone and it was good sportsmanship; Max got bigger cheers but they were waving and cheering for everyone, it was really good to see. So big respect to the Dutch and Belgian fans, they were really cool.”
MAX VERSTAPPEN, Finish Position: 11th, Start Position: 2nd
“Today was very unfortunate. I didn’t start as well as I wanted but I got up the inside for the first corner then got squeezed by the two Ferraris. In the contact my front wing and the floor got destroyed so then the car was very difficult to drive and the race was gone. Still, I tried my best to come back especially for all the people who were cheering me on in the stands, but unfortunately I didn’t get in the points. Luckily we got Daniel on the podium so we still scored some more points for the team. It’s good to have another race next week and we’ll try to do the best job possible at Monza. The race didn’t turn out the way I wanted but before that we had a great weekend here in Spa and it was great to have some interaction with all the fans who came out to support me.”
CHRISTIAN HORNER, Team Principal: “An impressive performance by Daniel today; a great disciplined drive, looking after his tyres and making an effective two-stop strategy work. To finish second, at the type of venue that we weren’t expecting to be our strongest, is an amazing result. He picked up a little bit of damage after the first corner but we were able to repair that in the break (during a red flag), and he drove a strong race thereafter. Max’s race was compromised after turn one. After an average start he got inside of Kimi into that turn but unfortunately he was squeezed from the outside by Sebastian and three into one quite simply doesn’t go. The resulting damage significantly compromised the aerodynamics on the underside of the car costing him about a second and half per lap. He made a strong recovery to finish unfortunately just outside the points, It’s clearly not the result he was looking for in front of such an enormous crowd that came out to support him all weekend but hopefully a lot more positive races to come. For the team to be coming away from Spa still second in the Constructors’ Championship, and having extended our lead over Ferrari, is more than we could have envisaged.”



Italian claims second victory of the weekend for PREMA Racing
Antonio Giovinazzi has grabbed the second win of the Spa-Francorchamps weekend for PREMA Racing with a dominant display of speed and consistency in this morning’s Sprint Race, making a great start before overtaking for the lead and stretching out a gap to the flag ahead of Gustav Malja and Luca Ghiotto.
Malja made a good start from pole when the lights went out, but Giovinazzi made a better one from P3 to slide inside front row starter Ghiotto at La Source for P2 behind the Swede. The Trident man soon had his mirrors filled by Raffaele Marciello and teammate Artem Markelov, who dispatched Alex Lynn in fine style at Campus, while further back Pierre Gasly and Oliver Rowland had a coming together, with the Frenchman coming off worse as his lost part of his front wing.
The Red Bull tester was soon back on a charge, dispatching Rowland on the run down to Eau Rouge and Lynn at the Bus Stop two laps later. Teammate Giovinazzi wasn’t hanging around either: after watching the leader for a few laps he attacked on lap 7, going outside Malja on the Kemmel straight before sweeping through into Les Combes for a lead he was not going to relinquish to the flag.
Markelov looked quicker than his teammate all race long but was just unable to get by Marciello, and with Gasly on a charge the Russian’s situation was looking grim: by lap 14 the Frenchman had caught the RUSSIAN TIME pair, feinted left then swung right on Markelov and was through at Rivage, throwing the Russian into the clutches of King and Lynn: the Williams man got a tow from both to take King at Les Combes and Markelov at La Source, who ran wide at Les Combes next time through to lose out to King too.
Back out in front Giovinazzi was streaking away to see the chequered flag 2.3 seconds ahead of Malja, who drove a fine race for his first GP2 podium in second. Ghiotto held on for his third podium of the year ahead of Gasly, who dispatched Marciello with a fine move at the Bus Stop but ran out of time to move further forward, with Lynn leading countryman King home in P6. Markelov was out of tyres but looked to have done enough for the final point, but the race-long fight between Rowland and Sergey Sirotkin spilled over at the Bus Stop, with Sirotkin running inside his rival but tapping the back of his countryman, with Markelov spun into retirement and Rowland grabbing 8th.
A strong weekend for Gasly saw him stretch his lead in the Drivers’ standings as teammate Giovinazzi moved up to second: the Frenchman leads by 146 points to 129, with Marciello on 120 points for third ahead of a disappointed Sirotkin on 115, Rowland on 101 and King on 100 points, while in the Teams’ standings PREMA extended their lead over RUSSIAN TIME by 275 points to 197, ahead of Racing Engineering on 181 and ART Grand Prix on 173 as the grid looks towards next weekend’s round in Monza.

The Premiere Motorsport Podcast