It’s the first non-race Sunday of the off-season, but that hasn’t stopped the wheel of F1 news from turning, with plenty going on.
Both the Ferrari drivers are in the headlines, while the Mercedes team principal has highlighted yet another area in which the reigning World Champion has an edge over the rest of the field.
All that and more, with additional reporting from Thomas Maher, in Sunday’s selection of F1 news.
Report emerges with apparent details of Ferrari drivers’ negotiations
Both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz see their deals with Ferrari end at the end of next season, and their negotiations with the Scuderia are set to begin over the winter.
A report from La Gazzetta dello Sport in Italy claims Leclerc could be in line for another five-year contract with the Scuderia, on a reported €25m starting salary that will double over the course of the contract.
Sainz, meanwhile, is looking for a two-year extension to his current deal, and told media in Abu Dhabi that he hopes to begin the 2024 season with a much clearer idea of where his future lies.
Toto Wolff adds another area where Max Verstappen holds F1 edge
With the unique demands of driving on Pirelli tyres in Formula 1, Toto Wolff believes Max Verstappen was the only driver to make full use of them in 2023.
“If you’re able to have the car in a sweet spot, a stable platform that you start to work with at the beginning of the weekend, then you can expect performance,” Wolff explained to media including PlanetF1.com.
“I think if you’re not, there’s just no performance: you’re falling off the cliff literally. I have no explanation for that.
“I think the only one this year who has understood how to how to drive these tyres is Max.”
Guenther Steiner makes Haas admission after frustrating season
Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said the team “went to hell pretty quick” with their car concept, and a frustrating season followed as they propped up the Constructors’ Championship.
“Beginning of the year was not too bad, but then we went to hell pretty quick,” Steiner admitted to Channel 4.
“We started off and I was confident that we can keep on making improvements, but we didn’t find any performance in the car. We went to the wind tunnel and couldn’t find anything.
“And then at some stage we decided to change concept of the car because there was nothing left in it. There was no juice left in that concept.
“We went in the wind tunnel and came out of the wind tunnel with the same downforce.”
Pierre Gasly hopeful after underwhelming first season at Alpine
With a year moored in the midfield, Pierre Gasly admitted a sense of frustration at Alpine’s lack of pace as a team overall, but they made solid progress towards their goals.
He hopes for more in 2024, but with a huge gap between the rest above and below them, there’s work to be done to bring Alpine towards their rivals.
“I see it as two sides thing,” Gasly told media including PlanetF1.com when asked about how he assesses his first year as an Alpine driver.
“On one side, a challenging year because we were clearly not at the pace that we expected as a team. We thought we’d be fighting for better positions.
“But on the other side, very pleased with the way we’ve worked [as] a team because it’s my first season at Alpine.”
A look back at DAS and how it propelled Mercedes to success
We’ll be looking back at some of the greatest technological innovations in Formula 1 history over the off-season with our tech writer, Uros Radovanovic, and he kicked off the series with a detailed look at the DAS [Dual-Axis Steering] system used at Mercedes in 2020.
Such was its effectiveness, the FIA quickly moved to outlaw it for the 2021 season, with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas often seen moving their steering wheels towards them on straights to align their tyres in an optimum manner for a marginal gain.
It was a piece of technical genius that helped the W11 become the car that broke a huge amount of lap records in Formula 1, and we know we’re biased, but it’s well worth a read.