F1 gossip: Wehrlein, Honda, Verstappen, Mercedes, Hamilton

Saturday, 25 March

Pascal Wehrlein
Pascal Wehrlein suffered a back injury in a crash in January's Race of Champions

Pascal Wehrlein is confident he will be fit enough to return to his Sauber in China after being ruled out of racing in Australia because he lacked fitness following a back injury. (Sportsmole)external-link

Mercedes Formula 1 team boss Toto Wolff believes Lewis Hamilton is the strongest he's ever been after a "reset" of the driver's relationship with the team. (Eurosport)external-link

Jos Verstappen, the former F1 driver and father of Max Verstappen, has added to the widespread criticism of McLaren's works engine partner Honda, saying that they are "getting worse".(Sportsmole)external-link

Honda has revealed that it has held talks with other F1 teams over a possible supply of engines, but insists that nothing has been agreed. (Motorsport)external-link

Thursday, 23 March

Sergio Perez
Force India driver Sergio Perez has been asked by his team to trim down

Sergio Perez says he has been on an "extreme diet" before the Australian Grand Prix to help Force India cope with its 'overweight' car. (Autosport)external-link

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says Formula One fans should be excited by the new cars which have been introduced for the 2017 season. (ESPN)external-link

Nico Rosberg, who retired after becoming world champion last season, says former Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton was in the wrong at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, claiming he should have been a team player. (Eurosport)external-link

Hamilton says "there are too many dudes" in the Formula 1 paddock and has included better access for women on his championship wishlist. (Reuters)external-link

McLaren boss Zak Brown insists Honda is doing everything it can to be competitive following a difficult pre-season, which saw its power unit experience multiple problems and severely limited running. (Motorsport Week)external-link

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier says "a better understanding of the racing culture" in Formula 1 is the main thing Honda needs to improve its flagging fortunes. (Autosport)external-link

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel says March is too early to predict a title challenge as there are too many unknowns with the bigger and faster cars in 2017. (ESPN)external-link

Wednesday, 22 March

Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen
Daniel Ricciardo finished behind champion Nico Rosberg and runner-up Lewis Hamilton last year and says Mercedes are still favourites for the 2017 title

Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo, 27, does not expect to be challenging for the Formula 1 title this season as he believes Mercedes still hold the edge. (Daily Mail)external-link

But Australian Ricciardo says he is prepared for friction with teenage team-mate Max Verstappen, 19, as "that's part of the game". (Guardian)external-link

Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley says hopes of a top-three finish in the constructors' championship are already out of reach after pre-season testing suggested Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull were ahead of the pack. (Eurosport)external-link

Lewis Hamilton could end up driving for Ferrari if Sebastian Vettel walks away from the team, according to former Red Bull driver Mark Webber. (Express)external-link

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says Red Bull have "seen ghosts" if they think the Mercedes engine is breaking the rules over oil burning. Red Bull wrote to the FIA to clarify if the engine was using an illegal method during qualifying. (Gazzetta dello Sport, via Independent)external-link

Tuesday, 21 March

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel
Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda has denied a plan to try to sign Sebastian Vettel (pictured)

McLaren driver Fernando Alonso is braced for a "difficult weekend" at this week's season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. (Eurosport)external-link

Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve says he is "normally not positive with young kids coming into F1" but is "very positive" concerning the prospects of fellow Canadian Lance Stroll, 18, as he embarks on his debut season in the sport with Williams. (Scotsman)external-link

Paddy Lowe left Mercedes to join Williams as the team's chief technical officer and he believes "there are undoubtedly things here at Williams that are much better than they have in Mercedes already". (Autosport)external-link

Valtteri Bottas has yet to win a race in F1 but, after his switch to Mercedes, hopes he can challenge team-mate Lewis Hamilton in fighting for the drivers' crown this year. (Independent)external-link

Bottas has signed a one-year deal with Mercedes and the German team's non-executive chairman Niki Lauda says it "is not our plan" to try to sign Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel for the 2018 season. (Daily Star)external-link

Finn Bottas took to the ice and got his skates on as prepared for the season-opener in Melbourne this weekend.

Valtteri Bottas on Twitter
Bottas enjoys time on the ice rink in the build-up to the Australian GP

Monday, 20 March

Max Verstappen (right) and sister Victoria
Max Verstappen (right) tweeted the message "leaving for Australia in good company" along with a picture of him and sister Victoria as they made their way to Melbourne for the season opener

Nico Rosberg, who retired after becoming world champion last season, wants to stay involved in motor racing but the German says he "won't be coming back as a driver, no way". (Sport Bild via Autosport)external-link

New F1 chief executive Chase Carey says the sport has "really not been managed to its full potential", adding that engineers have overtaken the drivers, so there is a need to "push the drivers back to the forefront". (Times - subscription required)external-link

On the differences between past and current F1 regimes, former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said: "We were running a five-star Michelin restaurant, not a hamburger joint. But maybe now the cuisine will be more accessible. Maybe it will even have a better taste."(Daily Mail)external-link

Red Bull racer Max Verstappen has calmed expectation around the team as he believes they are "not good enough yet to win" going into the season opener in Australia on Sunday, 26 March. (De Telegraaf via Planet F1)external-link

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