News of Fernando Alonso's contract extension at McLaren gave another storyline to what promises to be a thrilling United States Grand Prix.
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton could win the title at Austin if the race falls his way, but the Mercedes star was giving little away in Thursday's driver briefing.
Brendon Hartley also spoke ahead of his F1 debut for Toro Rosso, while Carlos Sainz Jr and Nico Hulkenberg faced the media for the first time as Renault team-mates.
ALONSO PLOTS MCLAREN RESURGENCE
Alonso confirmed that his fresh deal with McLaren runs beyond the end of next season, with an eye on returning the famous squad to former glories as they hope a switch to Renault power can do the trick.
"We have enough to do for next year, to put McLaren again at the top of the grid and that’s the first priority right now," he said, before reflecting on a first competitive return to the States since taking part in the Indianapolis 500.
"I think on my personal side there are no other priorities than Formula One at the moment but with a door open for different series and different goals that I always believed that you need to win in other series if you want to be a more complete driver, a better driver, because motorsport is not only Formula One."
HAMILTON KEEPS HIS CARDS CLOSE
A Hamilton win, combined with Sebastian Vettel finishing outside the top five will see the Brit crowned champion in Austin for a second time in his career.
Not that the 32-year-old would entertain such talk...
"Nothing has changed for me," he said. "Everything is exactly the same as it was going into the last race, going into the second half of the season; it's exactly the same mentally for me. Maybe it's changed from your perspective, but for me it hasn't."
Just don't tell him that Ferrari have thrown away the title amid late-season reliability issues...
"If I was to win this championship I think I would say that I've earned it."
HARTLEY SAYS HELLO
A former reserve and test driver with the Red Bull stable, Hartley turned to endurance racing after his F1 dream seemed to have ended.
But the New Zealander is suddenly back in the limelight, filling in at Toro Rosso as Pierre Gasly chases the Super Formula title in Japan.
"There have been no expectations set," said a calm Hartley. "To be honest, some of the team members I'm just meeting for the first time today, and yesterday during the seat fit. Obviously, I want to do the best that I can."
The 27-year-old was also measured while reflecting on his F1 past.
"I guess I wasn't ready," he explained. "I had some success in the early days, I won the Formula Renault championship, I became the reserve driver, had my first F1 test at 18 years old and I guess I just didn't deal with the pressure."
HULKENBERG EXPECTING STRONG SAINZ
Both Hulkenberg and Sainz had been effectively one-man teams in terms of point-scoring in 2017, with Jolyon Palmer and Daniil Kvyat's struggles leaving both to pick up the slack.
But Renault now have the two highly rated racers together, with Hulkenberg perhaps cheekily putting some pressure on his new colleague.
The German is expecting "definitely a harder time probably than so far this year".
He explained: "Obviously he's got a few challenges on his plate, changing team at the back end of the season is not the easiest situation. There are a lot of new things that he has to get used to: car, team, people but I’m sure he will be on a decent level straight away."
Understandably, Sainz was keen to remain grounded.
"Let's wait and see, no? I think my main target has to be to go session by session," he said.
"I'm the first one who wants to be on the pace straight away, but I cannot get too excited about that. I need to cover all the procedures, all the steps that I want to take, little by little, to get to know the car."
|Konta crashes out in shock Aus Open defeat to lucky loser|
|Brady limited in practice due to hand injury|
|Sharapova overcomes Sevastova in Melbourne|
|Rooney convinced me to join Everton – Walcott|
|Simeone: Sevilla deserved their win|
|Conte calls for VAR improvements|
|Neymar not angered by PSG whistles - Silva|
|FA Cup Review: Wigan dump Bournemouth out, nine-man Chelsea scrape through|
|Banvit beat Bayreuth to stay top as Gaziantep end losing streak|
|England won´t block Jones from Lions role|
|Valverde rues Barca profligacy in Espanyol defeat|
|Chelsea 1 Norwich City 1 (aet, 5-3 pens): Hazard and Caballero seal Blues progression|
|No generosity from Neymar as Cavani waits to make PSG history|
|Neymar sets Ligue 1 landmark with staggering individual display|
|Espanyol 1 Barcelona 0: Melendo ends unbeaten run|
|Paris Saint-Germain 8 Dijon 0: Neymar hits four as Cavani levels Ibrahimovic record|
|Atletico fan in ´serious condition´ after being stabbed before Sevilla game|
|Stokes ´can´t wait´ for England return after ECB clearance|
|Kawhi Leonard´s rehab shut down as quad problem lingers|
|Folger out of MotoGP season due to illness|
|Stokes should not take my place - Bairstow|
|Atletico Madrid 1 Sevilla 2: Montella´s men stage dramatic first-leg comeback|
|Steelers will not retain offensive coordinator Todd Haley|
|Lukaku will score 30 goals for Man Utd this season, predicts Yorke|
|Brady named writers´ NFL MVP|
|Du Plessis wants action on slow pitches|
|Johnson back to his best after Augusta accident|
|Liverpool loan Grujic to Cardiff|
|Centurion hero Ngidi aiming high|
|Mbappe: More to come from Neymar & Cavani partnership|
|Messi the greatest ever despite no World Cup win, insists Di Maria|
|Uncapped Larmour named in Ireland´s Six Nations squad|
|Villa determined to earn place in Spain´s World Cup squad|
|Walcott swaps Arsenal for Everton|
|Kohli bristles at selection questions|
|England forward Haskell handed four-week suspension|
|You even learn from Guardiola at home - Otamendi lauds Pep impact|
|Three-week ban for Bastareaud for alleged homophobic slur|
|IOC to consider joint Korean ice hockey team|
|Sri Lanka ODI woes drag on with Zimbabwe defeat|
|Batsmen let India down against South Africa - Kohli|
|Five fun facts as LeBron James chases 30K career points|
|Bastareaud named in France squad ahead of disciplinary hearing|
|Otamendi pens Man City deal to 2022|
|Neymar leads tributes to retiring Ronaldinho|
|Ronaldo must focus on playing - Zidane sidesteps exit talk|
|Dimitrov, Tsonga survive gruelling battles as Nadal cruises through|
|Carey ton sends Strikers back top of BBL|
|Zidane still an idol for James despite ´sad´ Madrid exit|
|Stoger will stay at Dortmund if ´everything fits´|
|Nadal backs move for financial parity but silent on boycott talk|
|Stokes available for England selection, set for NZ return|
|Bordeaux´s Malcom facing disciplinary action over social media video|
|Debutant Ngidi hurries SA to series win as India crumble in Centurion|
|Eddie Jones signs new England contract|
|Ronaldinho retires – The greatest Brazilians to play for Barcelona|
|England setting the benchmark in ODIs, says Warner|
|Federer would be unreal at any sport - Shapovalov|
|Athletic reward Williams with contract until 2025|
|Nadal too good for Mayer at Australian Open|
|Jones taking unlikely inspiration from City in United´s title pursuit|
|I had one foot out of the Australian Open – Wozniacki revels in fightback|
|Beware the nearly beaten in Melbourne – Wozniacki could match Kerber, Li|
|Rallying Tsonga outlasts Shapovalov in five-set epic|
|Wozniacki saves two match points in dramatic Aus Open comeback|
|Kostyuk, 15, ready to spend after Melbourne run|
|Thomas turns down Celtics´ video tribute|
|Moyes unaware of Chelsea interest in Carroll|
|Verdi wants Bologna stay amid Napoli links|
|Ronaldinho retires – A shining light of Brazil´s 2002 World Cup-winning team|