Motorsport Week - All News https://www.motorsportweek.com Catch up on all F1 news, here at Motorsport Week RSS Feed! https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13598https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13598Sébastien Ogier cautiously optimistic ahead of Monte Carlo rallyWed, 18 Jan 2017 16:00:49 GMT<p><strong>World Rally Champion S&eacute;bastien Ogier cautioned against too high expectations as the Monte Carlo rally got under way on Wednesday.</strong></p> <p>The Frenchman admits he hasn&#39;t tested as much as he would have liked prior&nbsp;to the event, but says that won&#39;t be weighing on his mind this weekend.</p> <p>&quot;It&rsquo;s true, this is the smallest amount of preparation I have ever done before the start of a new season,&quot;&nbsp;Ogier told Motorsport Week.</p> <p>&quot;I&rsquo;ve been in the car for two days in Sweden last month and two days in France last week and done maybe 400km in each test. I&rsquo;m not going to think much about that.&quot;</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Rally/WRC/ogier-crashed-car-low-res.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>Ogier&#39;s damaged M-Sport Fiest WR car</figcaption> </figure> <p>But he added that he was happy with the new M-Sport developed and built Fiesta WR Car, despite an interruption to his testing when he slid off and damaged the back of his car on the Col de Perty, near Monaco.</p> <p>&quot;For the damage on the car, it wasn&rsquo;t too bad,&quot;&nbsp;he continued. &quot;During the lunch break in the test, the conditions had changed. There was a little snow and there was some frost on the road. I caught this place and the car slid to the ditch and took the wheel out. It&rsquo;s better that this happens in the test!&quot;</p> <p>But the three-time Monte winner was also forthright and slightly optimistic as regards his chances for another win on the WRC opening round classic.</p> <p>&quot;I am realistic about the preparation, though at the moment there is nothing that tells me I cannot win.&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13597https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13597Jacques Villeneuve feels modern F1 drivers lack respectWed, 18 Jan 2017 15:36:42 GMT<p><strong>Jacques Villeneuve says modern Formula 1 drivers lack the on-track respect of the era his father Gilles raced in.</strong></p> <p>The 1997 F1 world champion&rsquo;s father Gilles competed in the series from 1977 to 1982, during a time where F1 was much more dangerous.</p> <p>Villeneuve feels the higher risk led to more respect on track between racers while battling wheel-to-wheel and believes this is missing from the current grid.</p> <p>&ldquo;Because the cars were dangerous and it was difficult to overtake there was a lot more respect between drivers,&rdquo; he said at the Autosport International Show, when talking about his father&rsquo;s era in F1.</p> <p>&ldquo;You never saw drivers weave down a straight line. You never, ever saw that back then and you never saw a driver brake on the inside of the track.</p> <p>&ldquo;He would keep line, brake on outside and try and brake later than the other guy. It was clean and respectful.</p> <p>&ldquo;They banged into each other but they were mistakes. Whereas now, you see a video game, where drivers that think they are inside a video game and there&rsquo;s no limit.</p> <p>&ldquo;There is no respect. What is respect? It&#39;s not even in their dictionary. For them, everything is fine because they can&rsquo;t get hurt. They probably think they can press escape and reset while they are having their crash.&rdquo;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13595https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13595Audi announce factory support for World RX champion's EKSWed, 18 Jan 2017 14:01:28 GMT<p><strong>Audi AG has announced that it will support&nbsp;Mattias Ekstr&ouml;m&rsquo;s EKS squad in the 2017 FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy.</strong></p> <p>The unexpected announcement comes after&nbsp;Volkswagen Motorsport confirmed they would be supporting&nbsp;Petter Solberg and Johan Kristoffersson in a pair of Polo RX Supercars.</p> <p>&quot;When we took our first steps to build EKS, we dreamed about becoming World Champions and we did it - in three years,&quot;&nbsp;said Ekstr&ouml;m after the announcement. &quot;We also dreamed about getting support from Audi, to be able to stay on the top and compete for more championships but now we have got that too.&quot;</p> <p>Wold RX champ Ekstr&ouml;m will drive his current Audi S1 EKS RX quattro while all future technical development of the RX quattro will now have the full support of the German manufacturer&rsquo;s motorsport department.</p> <p>&quot;We realise that it&rsquo;s going to be increasingly difficult for EKS to hold its own against the factory teams, so we chose to intensify our World RX commitment,&quot;&nbsp;stated the Head of Audi Motorsport, Dieter Gass.</p> <p>Ekstr&ouml;m added: &quot;We laid a lot of groundwork as a team in the first three years, gathered important experiences and set new standards with EKS. But it was also clear to us that we&rsquo;d need support for the future in order to be able to continue on this level. The fact that EKS is now receiving factory backing by Audi makes me very happy - I&rsquo;m convinced that rallycross has a great future.&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13594https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13594McLaren 2017 Formula 1 livery ‘not traditional’ as Zak Brown hints at orangeWed, 18 Jan 2017 13:24:40 GMT<p><strong>McLaren will race in a Formula 1 livery that is &quot;not traditional&quot; in 2017, with executive director Zak Brown hinting that the team could be set to return to its orange roots in some regard.</strong></p> <p>McLaren raced with papaya-liveried cars in Can-Am and in F1 from 1968 to 1971, and last tested in orange back in 2006 before reverting to its regular black and white colours for races.</p> <p>However, Brown has confirmed that the team is poised to change direction with its livery after sticking to a largely black design for the past two seasons since the arrival of engine partner Honda, hinting that orange could be incorporated.</p> <p>&quot;You&rsquo;ll see some livery changes,&quot; Brown confirmed to this writer at Autosport International last weekend.</p> <p>&quot;I think everyone&rsquo;s gonna like the race car. It&rsquo;s cool.&quot;</p> <p>When asked if the livery was traditional, Brown said: &quot;It&rsquo;s not traditional. Well, it depends what you define as traditional...</p> <p>&quot;If there&rsquo;s some orange in it, you&rsquo;ll be happy.&quot;</p> <p>McLaren will unveil its new car on February 24, with Brown confirming that the team will continue its naming pattern despite Ron Dennis&#39; departure as chairman.</p> <p>Dennis brought the MP4 name to McLaren in 1981, standing for &#39;Marlboro Project 4&#39; and later &#39;McLaren Project 4&#39;, but the 2017 car is still set to be called the MP4-32.</p> <p>When asked by this writer if there would be a deviation from the MP4 name, Brown said: &quot;I think we&rsquo;&rsquo;re going to stay where we are.&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13593https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13593Red Bull's Pierre Gasly to race in Super FormulaWed, 18 Jan 2017 09:43:17 GMT<p><strong>Red Bull has confirmed its five-member junior team line-up for 2017, with Formula 1 reserve driver and reigning GP2 champion Pierre Gasly to compete in Super Formula.</strong></p> <p>Gasly clinched the GP2 crown but was overlooked for a Formula 1 role with Toro Rosso and will instead continue to act as Red Bull&rsquo;s reserve driver.</p> <p>Gasly&#39;s path mirrors that of McLaren&#39;s Stoffel Vandoorne, who also competed in the Japan-based Super Formula championship after winning the GP2 title.</p> <p>Elsewhere, Niko Kari will compete in GP3 with Arden, with Richard Verschoor moving into Formula Renault 2.0.</p> <p>Red Bull has also recruited Dan Ticktum and Neil Verhagen to its scheme, the duo moving into Formula Renault 2.0</p> <p>The confirmed line-up means that 2016 members S&eacute;rgio Sette C&acirc;mara and Luis Leeds have been dropped from the scheme.</p> <p>Motorsport Week understands that this does not impact on Sette C&acirc;mara&#39;s 2017 programme, and that he will compete in GP2 with MP Motorsport as planned.</p> <p>&ldquo;This a big new challenge for me and that is exactly what I love,&rdquo; said Gasly.</p> <p>&ldquo;For sure Japan is special. I went to the Grand Prix at Suzuka in 2015 as part of my work with Red Bull so I have an idea of what to expect.</p> <p>&ldquo;It is all going to be very different, I have no experience with the car or the tracks and I know that the Japanese culture, philosophy, way of working, just about everything is different.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;In a way I am following what Stoffel did last year before going into F1. It is more experience to add to the GP2 campaign last year.</p> <p>&ldquo;I am also really pleased to be third driver at Red Bull for another season, to work closely with Max and Daniel, gaining more experience on how the team works, how they behave at the GPs.</p> <p>&ldquo;There is a lot to learn about the new car and new regulations, it is all very valuable.&quot;</p> <p>On his move into GP3 with Arden, Kari said: &quot;I don&#39;t think GP3 is such a big jump from F3, sure it will be a different style of driving, the biggest difference is the tyres, tyre management will be a big part of it and I am looking forward to that challenge, I think I can do a good job of looking after the tyres.&quot;</p> <p><strong>Red Bull&#39;s junior team 2017:</strong></p> <p>Pierre Gasly (20, FRA) - Red Bull Racing reserve driver; Super Formula, team TBC</p> <p>Niko Kari (17, FIN) - GP3 with Arden</p> <p>Richard Verschoor (16, NED) - Formula Renault 2.0 with MP Motorsport</p> <p>Dan Ticktum (17, GB) - Formula Renault 2.0 with Arden</p> <p>Neil Verhagen (15, USA) - Formula Renault 2.0 with MP Motorsport</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13592https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13592Toto Wolff encouraged by Pascal Wehrlein, Esteban Ocon rolesWed, 18 Jan 2017 09:25:19 GMT<p><strong>Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says it is &ldquo;satisfying&rdquo; that the manufacturer&rsquo;s prot&eacute;g&eacute;s, Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon, will take on new challenges in Formula 1 this season.</strong></p> <p>Wehrlein, affiliated with Mercedes for several years, graduated to Formula 1 with Manor in 2016 following a title triumph in the DTM and scored a point in Austria.</p> <p>Wehrlein will now switch to Sauber for his second year in the sport, alongside Marcus Ericsson, having retained the backing of Mercedes.</p> <p>Ocon, meanwhile, was picked up on an official basis by Mercedes after claiming the GP3 title in 2015 and was loaned out to Renault for the opening half of 2016, as well as racing in the DTM.</p> <p>Ocon joined Manor following Formula 1&rsquo;s summer break and came close to scoring his maiden point in a rain-affected Brazilian Grand Prix, only dropping out of the top 10 on the penultimate lap.</p> <p>The French youngster has moved to Force India, next to Sergio P&eacute;rez, after penning a multi-year deal with the Silverstone-based outfit.</p> <p>&ldquo;I am pleased to know that Pascal will be racing at Sauber to continue his development in F1,&rdquo; said Wolff.</p> <p>&ldquo;He had a good first season with Manor and we feel this is the right path for him in the sport.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&#39;s satisfying to have both of our young drivers taking on new challenges in F1 this year, with Esteban also racing at Force India.</p> <p>&ldquo;We&#39;ll be following their progress closely; I&#39;m sure we&#39;ve got an exciting season ahead of us.&rdquo;</p> <p>Wolff also extended his gratitude to Williams and Sauber following Mercedes&rsquo; recruitment of Valtteri Bottas, and the prolonged wait regarding Wehrlein.</p> <p>&ldquo;On behalf of Mercedes, I must thank Williams for their cooperation in allowing Valtteri to make this move &ndash; and also Monisha [Kaltenborn] and Sauber for their patience during the past weeks,&rdquo; he commented.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13591https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13591Liberty Media stockholders approve proposals for F1 acquisitionWed, 18 Jan 2017 07:43:02 GMT<p><strong>Liberty Media has crept closer to its takeover of Formula 1 after stockholders voted in favour of its proposal to acquire the championship.</strong></p> <p>American company Liberty announced its plans last September to purchase Delta Topco, the parent company of Formula 1, and initially secured an 18.7 per cent stake in a cash deal, which valued Formula 1 at $8 billion.</p> <p>Liberty announced in December that it had agreed deals with third party investors to raise $1.55bn and that it had also received the necessary approval of antitrust authorities.</p> <p>Liberty still required approval from its stockholders, who met on Tuesday to give the green light to the takeover.</p> <p>&ldquo;The holders of its common stock entitled to vote thereat approved (I) a proposal relating to the issuance of shares of Series C Liberty Media common stock in connection with its pending acquisition of Formula 1 (the &quot;Acquisition&quot;),&quot; read a statement.</p> <p>&ldquo;(II) a proposal relating to the adoption of the amendment and restatement of Liberty Media&#39;s restated certificate of incorporation to effect the name change of the &quot;Media Group&quot; and the &quot;Liberty Media Common Stock&quot; to the &quot;Formula One Group&quot; and the &quot;Liberty Formula One Common Stock,&quot; respectively.&rdquo;</p> <p>Liberty&rsquo;s takeover still needs approval from the sport&rsquo;s governing body, the FIA, which is set to meet today (Wednesday) during a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council.</p> <p>Liberty added that it still expects to complete proceedings during the first quarter of 2017.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13590https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13590IndyCar announces new multi-year Firestone contractTue, 17 Jan 2017 18:27:59 GMT<p><strong>The IndyCar series has announced a new multi-year contract extension with long-time tyre supplier Firestone.</strong></p> <p>The deal between IndyCar and Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC (BATO) means the Firestone brand continues to be the exclusive tyre supplier of the series.</p> <p>Firestone has been the sole provider of tyres for IndyCar since 2000 and has a long history in American open-wheel racing, with Alexander Rossi&rsquo;s 2016 Indianapolis 500 win being the tyre supplier&rsquo;s 67<sup>th</sup>.</p> <p>&quot;Firestone is part of the fabric of IndyCar and its commitment to evolving performance, innovation and safety in the Verizon IndyCar Series has been remarkable,&quot; Jay Frye, IndyCar president of competition and operations, said.</p> <p>&quot;The Firestone brand has been part of our sport for more than 100 years and continues to be an integral partner in the growth of IndyCar on and off the racetrack.&quot;</p> <p>A variety of changes have been introduced for the 2017 season when it comes to the Firestone tyres, with more sets being allocated per event.</p> <p>One set of the alternative (red-sidewall) tyre now has to be used in Friday practice at all street and road courses.</p> <p>The new IndyCar season kicks off on March 12 at St. Peterburg.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13589https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13589Nico Rosberg: Valtteri Bottas a 'great solution' for MercedesTue, 17 Jan 2017 16:47:47 GMT<p><strong>World Champion Nico Rosberg reckons Mercedes has found a &ldquo;great solution&rdquo; in replacing him with Valtteri Bottas for 2017, and is intrigued as to how his successor will fare against Lewis Hamilton.</strong></p> <p>Rosberg raced for Mercedes between 2010 and 2016 and opted to retire from Formula 1 just five days after clinching his maiden title at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.</p> <p>Mercedes ultimately recruited Valtteri Bottas from Williams and confirmed the signing of the 27-year-old on Monday.</p> <p>Rosberg has stayed on as an ambassador at Mercedes and attended his first promotional event in association with watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen in Geneva on Tuesday<em>.</em></p> <p>&ldquo;In terms of Valtteri, I saw the announcement yesterday of course,&rdquo; Rosberg said on Facebook.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s great news for the team and I&rsquo;m happy that they found a great solution relatively quickly.</p> <p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s awesome, I&#39;m sure he&rsquo;s going to do a really, really good job and going to blend in well.&quot;</p> <p>Rosberg, who joined Mercedes in 2010, was paired with Hamilton between 2013-16 and the duo clashed on-track on a number of occasions when the manufacturer emerged at the head of the pack.</p> <p>Rosberg, having been beaten to the crown in 2014 and 2015, turned the tables on the Briton in 2016, and reckons the Bottas/Hamilton partnership will be interesting to watch.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m going to be sitting in front of the TV watching the action and I look forward to see how Valtteri gets on, especially against Lewis,&quot; he commented.</p> <p>&ldquo;Lewis is an awesome reference point, he&rsquo;s one of the best out there, one of the best of all time, it&rsquo;s not going to be easy for him [Valtteri] for sure, so it&rsquo;ll be interesting to follow.&rdquo;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13588https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13588AJ Foyt Racing confirms switch to Chevrolet power Tue, 17 Jan 2017 16:31:26 GMT<p><strong>The AJ Foyt Racing team has announced it is switching to Chevrolet power and aero kits for the 2017 IndyCar season.</strong></p> <p>A move from Honda to Chevrolet engines has been rumoured for some time, but the news has finally become official after the team&rsquo;s announcement on Tuesday.</p> <p>It marks the first time since 2005 that Foyt&#39;s team has used Chevrolet power, having run Honda engines for 11 consecutive seasons.</p> <p>Chevrolet returned to IndyCar as an engine supplier in 2012. Foyt&#39;s switch had been expected in the aftermath of Ganassi&rsquo;s change from Chevrolet to Honda for 2017.</p> <p>Foyt will field Conor Daly and Carlos <span>Mu&ntilde;oz </span> this season; both drove with Honda engines in 2016, so will get their first taste of Chevrolet&rsquo;s power unit at the private Sebring test later this month.</p> <p>&quot;I am looking forward to what will be a new chapter for us that involves returning to an old friend in Chevrolet,&quot; Larry Foyt, team president, said.</p> <p>&quot;There are a lot of changes happening within our team this off-season and I won&rsquo;t minimize the challenges, but I see a lot of potential with our plan.&quot;</p> <p>Team owner, the legendary racing driver and four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt, added: &quot;I&rsquo;m glad to be back with Chevy. I&rsquo;ve had a lot of success with them in the past and I&rsquo;m looking forward to more success in the future.&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13587https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13587Spencer Pigot returns to ECR for IndyCar street/road course eventsTue, 17 Jan 2017 15:11:48 GMT<p><strong>Spencer Pigot will return to the IndyCar Series in 2017 with Ed Carpenter Racing, joining the team for the 11 road and street course events on this year&rsquo;s calendar.</strong></p> <p>Pigot, 23, made his IndyCar debut last March with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing at St. Petersburg, coming off the back of his Indy Lights title victory the previous year.</p> <p>After making three starts for RLL, including a run to 25th in the Indianapolis 500, Pigot joined Ed Carpenter Racing for the remaining street and road course races in 2016, with a best finish of seventh at Mid-Ohio.</p> <p>On Tuesday, Ed Carpenter Racing confirmed that Pigot would be returning for 2017, racing in the No. 20 car that will be manned by team owner Ed Carpenter for the oval rounds.</p> <p>&quot;I&rsquo;m very excited to be staying with Ed Carpenter Racing for the 2017 season,&quot; Pigot said.</p> <p>&quot;It&rsquo;s a great feeling to know that I have a secure ride for all of the road and street course races so we can start preparing for the season now.</p> <p>&quot;I learned a lot in my rookie year and I&rsquo;m looking forward to the opportunity to build on that experience.</p> <p>&quot;I know I have the team around me to fight at the front and that&rsquo;s what we&rsquo;ll be trying to do in 2017.&quot;</p> <p>ECR will field two cars through the 2017 campaign, with JR Hildebrand replacing Josef Newgarden in the full-season No. 21 entry following the American&#39;s move to Penske.</p> <p>The new IndyCar season will begin on March 12 with the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13586https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13586Monte Carlo Rally Preview: All change as WRC revs up for 2017Tue, 17 Jan 2017 13:36:22 GMT<p><strong>It&rsquo;s a huge moment for the WRC. Some say it&rsquo;s the championship&rsquo;s most vital effort yet to reclaim the worldwide popularity it enjoyed in the fabled Group B era of the mid-1980s.</strong></p> <p>In 2017 we will have new rules, more powerful and more dramatic cars, and different driver combinations.</p> <p>This could be the most exciting, vibrant season for many years. And a great deal is riding on the new car/driver combinations.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s like Malcolm Wilson told me some months ago: &ldquo;If this doesn&rsquo;t work then I don&rsquo;t know what will or how long it can carry on!&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>New cars</strong></p> <p>The new cars sure look the business. With more power, active centre differentials, bigger and better aero, deeper splitters, side-skirts and rear undertrays, they are edgy racers.</p> <p>For this writer &ndash; and many others &ndash; they are indeed the nearest thing we have seen to Group B since that era was abruptly cancelled by then-FIA chief Jean-Marie Balestre 31 years ago</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Rally/WRC/citroen-2017-photo4.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>2017 Citroen C3 WRC during testing</figcaption> </figure> <p>And, amazingly, they achieve all that while remaining pussy-cats environmentally compared to their 1980s forebears. I don&rsquo;t expect to stand behind a Ford, Citro&euml;n, Toyota or Hyundai World Rally Car and be totally overcome by exhaust fumes as happened to me more than once with Group B machines! No, their fuel, while not pump-petrol grade, is nothing like the exotic blends in use back then.</p> <p>However, what they do have is the benefit of three decades of development. Over any WRC stages that remain the same in 2017 as in 1985 the Group B records still standing will be shattered. That&rsquo;s what happens with progress!</p> <p><strong>New team/driver partnerships</strong></p> <p>There are also some intriguing driver/co-driver switches for this upcoming season.</p> <p><strong>M-Sport Ford</strong></p> <p>Chief among these has to be M-Sport&rsquo;s brilliant stroke in signing reigning world champion Sėbastien Ogier. From the moment VW took the pusillanimous decision to quit, Wilson set his heart on snaring Ogier for 2017. The M-Sport boss went out on a limb, called in every favour and twisted every arm he could and did the deal.</p> <p>For some years M-Sport has produced competitive cars but has not had the services of an A* grade driver. Sure, there have been Jari-Matti Latvala, Petter Solberg, Mikko Hirvonen and so on&hellip; They&#39;re all top men, but none quite has &#39;Oggi&#39;&rsquo;s rage to win.</p> <p>Well, now Wilson has such a man and if the latest Fiesta is anything like up to scratch then Malcom must be in line for at least one of the two big championship titles.</p> <p>Wilson also has Ott Tanak and (glory be!) Elfyn Evans on his books. Tanak is a born winner waiting to happen and Evans is a whole lot tougher cookie than he was before being demoted to driving R5 cars. There&rsquo;s nothing like a swipe of hardship to inject steel into a driver! Just ask Tanak: he suffered the same fate but bounced back.</p> <p><strong>Citro&euml;n </strong></p> <p>Citro&euml;n would like to think they too can lift one of the two biggest prizes. Its biggest weapons are the 18 months they have spent developing their 2017 challenger and their #1 driver.&nbsp;Yes, that&rsquo;s Kris Meeke, who has spent half a lifetime getting to this position. And he&rsquo;s sure not going to let it go without a fight.</p> <p>Already, in 2016, he has taken victories in Portugal and Finland &ndash; the latter to the astonishment of the Finnish rally mafia &ndash; and he has developed the new DS3 car to his spec. As a qualified engineer as well as premium grade driver he must start 2017 with a significant advantage. It is easy to see Meeke and Ogier going at each other like olde worlde prizefighters this season. Citro&euml;n&rsquo;s other two drivers are St&eacute;phane <span>Lefebvre </span> and Craig Breen. They&rsquo;ll drive in turn until a third car is ready. For me, Breen is gold dust and has determination to match it.</p> <p><strong>Hyundai</strong></p> <p>At Hyundai we have Thierry Neuville, Hayden Paddon and Dani Sordo &ndash; for many the best all-round line-up in 2017. Neuville shone throughout 2016, eventually beating Andreas Mikkelsen to the WRC runner-up spot, and has comfortably regained his spot as team leader. For many he is the one driver who might upset the Ogier/Meeke axis in 2017.</p> <p>Paddon is still learning but obviously has a major talent for racing rally cars, while Sordo is the Mr. Reliable who can anchor the team.</p> <p><strong>Toyota</strong></p> <p>Over at Toyota there are Jari-Matti Latvala and Juho Hanninen, with Esapekka Lappi later in the year. Latvala endured a desperately poor season in 2016 and, by his own admission, all his motivation went missing. To many observers he was extremely lucky to be picked up by the Japanese team.</p> <p>The inside story would surely reveal that Finnish driver overlord Timo Joukhi had a great deal to do with Jari-Matti getting the gig. Latvala says now that all his motivation has flooded back. Indeed, at the Toyota launch in Helsinki he was searingly honest about last season and bouncy about future prospects. No doubt this has something to do with getting out from under Ogier&rsquo;s shadow!</p> <p>Still, no-one expects too much from Tommi Makinen&rsquo;s team in its first year. Hanninen&rsquo;s place is another surprise to me and his place must be due to loyalty from Makinen after all the older Finn&rsquo;s testing work. Nevertheless it was fairly astonishing that he wasn&rsquo;t replaced by Mikkelsen.</p> <p><strong>But some weren&#39;t so lucky</strong></p> <p>Mikkelsen is the main casualty of the driver musical chairs brought on by VW&rsquo;s departure. It&rsquo;s weird that a young driver with three wins to his name and who has finished third in the WRC standings three years running can&rsquo;t get a front-line drive. As it is, he&rsquo;s been somewhat rescued by &Scaron;koda to drive an R5 car and is putting a brave face on it. Mind you, I wouldn&rsquo;t be that surprised to find him replacing an under-performing first team driver later this year.</p> <p>Overall the FIA decision that two drivers in each team of three can score points this season is a very good thing, whatever team managers think. At least it means the blockage when competitors near the top of the sport has been eased somewhat and the likes of Evans, Breen, <span>Lefebvre</span>, Tanak get a good shot at glory.</p> <p><img alt="" height="420" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Rally/WRC/andreas-mikkelsen-Photo4_s_r_l__833461_pr.jpg" width="770" /></p> <p><strong>2017 calendar</strong></p> <p>This year&rsquo;s WRC calendar remains largely unchanged from 2016, except that Corsica has been shoehorned into the first quarter of the year to break up a row of gravel rallies.&nbsp;Thank God the embarrassment of China will not be visited on us again in 2017, though there is still talk of 2018.</p> <p>There are also rumours of a round in India that year. Why anyone should think such a disorganised country could run a WRC round is beyond me. India couldn&rsquo;t even sustain an Asia-Pacific round some years ago! Neither has there been much talk in recent months about WRC promoter&rsquo;s &ldquo;list&rdquo; of a dozen or so countries which want a WRC event.</p> <p><strong>Mainstream media attention still required</strong></p> <p>The championship&rsquo;s television footprint is steadily growing with Red Bull TV kicking off this year. But sadly I can&rsquo;t see much attention yet from Fleet Street or the major continental newspapers.</p> <p>The modernists will all say that no-one reads newspapers any more: that internet-based media is everything today. But the fact remains that for all big-time sports the cross pollination between TV and major newspapers is the engine that drives their popularity.</p> <p>For us Brits, the best thing that could happen this season would be for &#39;Meekanen&#39; to become world champion. That might just get us noticed once again.</p> <p><strong>The Monte Carlo Rally opens the 2017 WRC season and begins with Wednesday&#39;s shakedown. </strong></p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13585https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13585Suzuki’s Álex Rins eyes MotoGP rookie honoursTue, 17 Jan 2017 13:28:25 GMT<p><strong>Suzuki newcomer &Aacute;lex Rins says finishing 2017 as MotoGP&rsquo;s top rookie is his target as he prepares to make his debut in the premier class this season.</strong></p> <p>Rins, 21, has replaced Yamaha-bound Maverick Vi&ntilde;ales at Suzuki and graduates to MotoGP following two years in Moto2, in which he claimed four wins, along with the runner-up position in the 2015 standings.</p> <p>Rins will be one of four rookies on the grid this season, along with Tech 3 pair Johann Zarco and Jonas Folger, and Aprilia&rsquo;s Sam Lowes, the quartet all stepping up from the intermediary category.</p> <p>Rins is confident that he can finish ahead of his former Moto2 rivals across the course of the 18-race campaign.</p> <p>&ldquo;From what I saw in Valencia [during post-season testing], the goal will be to end the season as Rookie of the Year &ndash; and beat the riders I was racing against in Moto2,&rdquo; he explained to <em>Movistar+</em>.</p> <p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s the goal I&rsquo;m giving myself at the moment. Maybe when I&rsquo;ve done more laps and I&rsquo;m more settled in, it will change &ndash; top 15, top 10&hellip;I have no idea.&rdquo;</p> <p>Rins is also aware of the comparisons with compatriot Vi&ntilde;ales and is optimistic that he can follow in the footsteps of the Yamaha rider.</p> <p>&ldquo;Obviously it&rsquo;s going to be a lot of pressure, because I&rsquo;m replacing Maverick at Suzuki,&rdquo; he commented.</p> <p>&ldquo;And I have always been racing him and battling with him in the smaller categories.</p> <p>&ldquo;And in Moto2, he left Pons Racing and I joined them, so there&rsquo;s always been a bit of comparison.</p> <p>&ldquo;But hopefully that will continue in MotoGP due to me having had two incredible seasons. I&rsquo;ll try to equal what he did &ndash; or even beat it.&rdquo;</p> <p>Rins will partner former Ducati rider Andrea Iannone at Suzuki this season.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13584https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13584French city of Nice to rename street after Jules BianchiTue, 17 Jan 2017 10:49:30 GMT<p><strong>The French city of Nice has announced that it will honour the late Jules Bianchi by naming a street in the city after the Formula 1 driver.</strong></p> <p>Bianchi&nbsp;passed away in July 2015 due to the injuries he sustained during a crash at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, when his Marussia struck a recovery vehicle, which was tending to another car.</p> <p>Nice mayor&nbsp;Philippe Pradal and president of the local metropolis&nbsp;Christian Estrosi will attend a ceremony on January 23 according to French newspaper <em>Nice-Matin.</em></p> <p>The street, located&nbsp;in front of the Allianz Riviera stadium&nbsp;at the corner of Pierre-de-Coubertin Avenue, will bear Bianchi&#39;s name.</p> <p>Meanwhile, Tech 1 Racing has announced that it will&nbsp;support the Jules Bianchi Society in 2017.</p> <p>The society&nbsp;was created to honour the memory of Bianchi, who raced for the team in the 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 Series.</p> <p>The society&#39;s logo will adorn the four Tech 1 Racing cars competing in the&nbsp;Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 series this season.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13583https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13583INDYCAR hopeful of adding third manufacturer by 2019Tue, 17 Jan 2017 10:41:03 GMT<p><strong>INDYCAR&rsquo;s President of competition and operations Jay Frye is hopeful of adding a third manufacturer to the IndyCar Series by 2019 as part of the championship&rsquo;s five-year growth plan.</strong></p> <p>IndyCar currently works with two manufacturers, Chevrolet and Honda, who supply engines and aerokits for the teams to use with the spec Dallara DW-12 chassis.</p> <p>A third OEM [Original Equipment Manufacturer] has not been present in the series since Lotus departed at the end of the 2012 season, but Frye is hopeful of bringing another major brand&nbsp;on board in the near future as part of IndyCar&rsquo;s five-year plan.</p> <p>&ldquo;When we talk about this five-year plan, one of our targeted goals is to recruit another OEM to come into INDYCAR,&rdquo; Frye said at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last week.</p> <p>&ldquo;Our five-year plan, part of that was predicated on the wishes of OEMs or prospective OEMs, so what we think we&#39;ve done by coming up with this five-year plan with the universal kit is we&#39;ve eliminated some huddles for other OEMs to come in.</p> <p>&quot;Our two current partners are great, Chevrolet and Honda, and they have completely signed off on this program. They&#39;re participating in it. They&#39;re going to be part of the testing program.</p> <p>&quot;But simultaneously we also ran these ideas by other OEMs that aren&#39;t currently in the IndyCar Series because it would have not been very smart on our behalf to come up with this great five-year plan and then take it out to different OEMs and them be like, we don&#39;t want to do that, either.&rdquo;</p> <p>When asked for a timescale for a new manufacturer to join the series, Frye pointed to 2019 as being the most likely season for a third entry.</p> <p>&ldquo;&#39;18 would be a stretch. &#39;19 would be possible,&quot; he commented. &quot;But again, if somebody wanted to come in then we would do everything we could to accelerate it as quickly as we could.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;Again, we have two great partners now with Chevrolet and Honda. There&#39;s a lot of things that would have to happen. There would have to be a lot of collaboration as part of that. They understand, and Chevy and Honda have been great.</p> <p>&quot;They understand it&#39;s important to the series and the league to have a third or fourth partner, and they&#39;re very actively participating in it with us.&rdquo;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13582https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13582Jacques Villeneuve: F1 should be too fast, expensive and crazyTue, 17 Jan 2017 10:34:19 GMT<p><strong>Former Formula 1 driver and 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve believes the series is too tame and should be pushing the boundaries.</strong></p> <p>Speaking at the Autosport International Show, Villeneuve suggested that Formula 1 has moved away from its core ideas.</p> <p>Villeneuve was critical of modern Formula 1 drivers having to preserve their machinery during races, rather than making the most of the available performance.</p> <p>&ldquo;In my mind, Formula 1 has always been about extremes, pushing the boundaries and the human boundaries,&rdquo; he explained.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s supposed to be too fast, it&rsquo;s supposed to be too expensive, it&rsquo;s supposed to be crazy. That is not what we have.</p> <p>&ldquo;You see drivers get out of the car and they didn&rsquo;t even break a sweat because they had to massage their car the whole race and drive within eight seconds of what they have done in qualifying. It is wrong.&rdquo;</p> <p>Villeneuve said Formula 1 went wrong when it listened to supporters of the series: &ldquo;It is also, sadly, when it started listening to the fans, because the fans complained there was not enough overtaking.</p> <p>&ldquo;By listening to that, what did F1 do? Put in DRS. Because that way we&rsquo;ll have a hundred overtakes in a race. But name me one overtake you remember since DRS. You don&rsquo;t, because you don&rsquo;t see the driver work.</p> <p>&ldquo;Look at a motorbike race, sometimes it takes a rider 10 laps to overtake another rider. But in these 10 laps you see the work that goes with it. When the overtake happens, wow. All these 10 laps you&rsquo;re on the edge of your seat.</p> <p>&ldquo;Now you aren&rsquo;t, next straight line, press a button, overtake. That&rsquo;s it. All these kind of rule changes to try and create a better show create a worse show.&rdquo;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13581https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13581Valtteri Bottas sure of strong Lewis Hamilton partnership at MercedesTue, 17 Jan 2017 10:06:21 GMT<p><strong>Mercedes&#39; newcomer Valtteri Bottas is confident that he will enjoy strong partnership with new team-mate Lewis Hamilton.</strong></p> <p>The Finnish racer was confirmed as Nico Rosberg&rsquo;s replacement at the reigning constructors&rsquo; champions on Monday.</p> <p>Bottas makes the move to Mercedes after four seasons as a race driver at Williams, where he scored nine podium finishes.</p> <p>When asked in a video interview with Mercedes about his approach to partnering up with Hamilton, he feels the two will make a good pair.</p> <p>&quot;I know him a little bit,&quot; he explained. &quot;Obviously, we have been racing many years together and the drivers see each other sometimes in the paddock and have a chat.</p> <p>&quot;But I am still getting to know him better. If you think about it on the driving side, working as a team, I see that it can be very good.</p> <p>&quot;I think he, obviously, has more experience than me but I see us as a good pair for the team. I am sure we can work well together, share a lot of things and hopefully push each other forward.</p> <p>&quot;In that way, it is very good for the team. It is a team sport, we are here together as a pair of drivers and that&rsquo;s how it goes.&rdquo;</p> <p>When asked about any potential goals and targets for the new F1 2017 season, he replied: &quot;For sure, we need to go step by step. I think firstly, I am missing my first win so that is the first target.</p> <p>&quot;I am setting the goal that I can perform at the level where the car is from the first race onwards and the whole season, bringing as many points, podiums and wins as possible with this car.&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13580https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13580Felipe Massa ‘couldn’t refuse’ Williams' 2017 offerTue, 17 Jan 2017 08:03:22 GMT<p><strong>Felipe Massa says he &ldquo;couldn&rsquo;t refuse&rdquo; Williams&rsquo; offer to continue racing for the team this season, despite having announced his retirement from Formula 1 last September.</strong></p> <p>Massa made an emotional speech during the Italian Grand Prix weekend to confirm that he would exit the sport at the end of the year, and bowed out after his 250th start in Abu Dhabi.</p> <p>However, Nico Rosberg announced his retirement as World Champion just five days after clinching the title, sparking a chain-reaction, with Valtteri Bottas installed as favourite for the vacancy at Mercedes.</p> <p>With <a href="https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13575">Bottas departing for Mercedes</a>, Williams required an experienced driver to place alongside 18-year-old rookie Lance Stroll, and began discussing terms with Massa.</p> <p>The Brazilian ultimately agreed a new one-year deal to remain with Williams, with the news <a href="https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13574">formally confirmed on Monday.</a></p> <p>&ldquo;I think what happened at the end of last season with Nico&rsquo;s unexpected retirement sparked a unique turn of events,&rdquo; Massa explained.</p> <p>&ldquo;Valtteri has been offered a fantastic opportunity and, as a result, an opportunity arose for me.</p> <p>&ldquo;When the media began reporting that I might return, I was touched by the response from so many fans who wanted to see me back in the sport.</p> <p>&ldquo;That was certainly a factor in the decision, so I&rsquo;d like to thank the fans for their support. But, at the end of the day, when I received the call it was an offer I couldn&rsquo;t refuse. It was Williams!&rdquo;</p> <p>Massa, who joined Williams in 2014 after a decade-long association with Ferrari, said coming out of his short-lived retirement felt &ldquo;right.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;My intention was always to race somewhere, as I still have the passion for racing and competing,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;I also have a strong love for Williams as I have enjoyed the last three years with the team, and therefore coming back to help give stability and experience to drive things forward in 2017 was something that felt right to do.&rdquo;</p> <p>Massa classified 11th in last season&rsquo;s championship, with a best of fifth in Australia and Russia.&nbsp;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13579https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13579Welcome to Motorsport WeekMon, 16 Jan 2017 21:09:28 GMT<p><b>Today sees the launch of our rebranded website following a merger with motorsport&rsquo;s most-read weekly magazine, </b><b><i>Motorsport Monday</i></b><b>.</b></p> <p>As you&rsquo;ll have probably noticed, we&rsquo;ve also changed our name to <b><i>Motorsport Week</i></b>, tweaked the website and introduced a few new series including the World Rally Championship, NASCAR, IMSA and more.</p> <p>In order to deliver the very best content, we&rsquo;ve more than doubled our writing team and can now boast some of the most-respected motorsport journalists on the planet, including F1&rsquo;s Joe Saward and WRC&rsquo;s Jerry Williams.</p> <p>Each will have their very own column on the homepage &ndash; these will be launching in the coming week, so keep an eye out!</p> <p>We have a lot more planned for the coming weeks and months, not only in terms of content, great new writers and features, but also some new, exciting and hopefully innovative fan engagements and rewards for our readers.</p> <p>And in truth it&rsquo;s only thanks to you that we can do what we do, therefore we feel it&rsquo;s only right that we reward you. There will be more details on the website and in the magazine about how we plan to do that later this year.</p> <p>May I also urge you to check out <b><i>Motorsport Monday</i></b> &ndash; which, as the title says, comes out every Monday. It&rsquo;s packed full of great content, written by some brilliant writers.&nbsp;</p> <p>Issue 198 is out now and we take a look at the latest running of the Dakar Rally, we preview the 85th&nbsp;running of the Rallye Monte Carlo and look back at Manor&rsquo;s time in Formula 1 as their fate hangs in the balance, plus plenty more.</p> <p>So here&rsquo;s to a new year of great motorsport action and great motorsport content from both <b><i>Motorsport Week</i></b>&nbsp;and <b><i>Motorsport Monday</i></b>.</p> <p>Ryan Wood<br /> Group Online Editor</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13578https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13578Race of Champions draw takes place for Miami eventMon, 16 Jan 2017 20:56:24 GMT<p><strong>The draw for the Race of Champions group stages took place on Monday at the Marlins Park in Miami, where the event will be held this weekend.</strong></p> <p>AutoNation&rsquo;s Marc Cannon and Indianapolis 500 winners Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan and Ryan Hunter-Reay were on hand to help with the draw as well as taking a few&nbsp;lucky competition winners out on the&nbsp;ROC Skills Challenge course.</p> <p>The draw has set up some interesting head-to-heads, with&nbsp;NASCAR champion Kyle Busch taking&nbsp;on Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button during Saturday&rsquo;s individual race while Kurt Busch will face &lsquo;Mr Le Mans&rsquo; Tom Kristensen.</p> <p>Double Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya will race World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg, while action sports great Travis Pastrana will meet four-time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel, the reigning ROC Champion of Champions.</p> <p>Sunday&#39;s ROC Nations Cup will see ten teams competing for ultimate glory, and with three home teams in Group A, it&#39;s guaranteed that one of the team USA&#39;s will make it through to the final.</p> <p><b>Race Of Champions Draw (Saturday 21 January)</b></p> <p><b>Group A&nbsp;</b></p> <p>Sebastian VETTEL (Germany)&nbsp;<br /> Travis PASTRANA (USA)<br /> Helio CASTRONEVES (Brazil)<br /> Either Scott SPEED (USA) or Alexander ROSSI (USA)</p> <p><b>Group B&nbsp;</b></p> <p>Juan-Pablo MONTOYA (Colombia)<br /> Petter SOLBERG (Norway)<br /> Felipe MASSA (Brazil)<br /> Pascal WEHRLEIN (Germany)</p> <p><b>Group C&nbsp;</b></p> <p>Jenson BUTTON (Great Britain)<br /> Kyle BUSCH (USA)<br /> Tony KANAAN (Brazil)<br /> James HINCHCLIFFE (Canada)</p> <p><b>Group D&nbsp;</b></p> <p>Tom KRISTENSEN (Denmark)<br /> Kurt BUSCH (USA)&nbsp;<br /> David COULTHARD (Great Britain)<br /> Ryan HUNTER-REAY (USA)</p> <p><b>ROC Nations Cup Draw (Sunday 22 January)</b></p> <p><b>Group A</b></p> <p>Team USA NASCAR (Kurt Busch &amp; Kyle Busch)<br /> Team USA IndyCar (Ryan Hunter-Reay &amp; Alexander Rossi)<br /> Team USA Rally X (Travis Pastrana &amp; Scott Speed)<br /> Team ROC Factor Canada (James Hinchcliffe &amp; Stefan Rzadzinski)</p> <p><b>Group B</b></p> <p>Team Great Britain (Jenson Button &amp; David Coulthard)<br /> Team Germany (Sebastian Vettel &amp; Pascal Wehrlein)<br /> Team Nordic (Tom Kristensen &amp; Petter Solberg)</p> <p><b>Group C&nbsp;</b></p> <p>Team ROC Factor Latin America (Helio Castroneves &amp; Gabriel Glusman)<br /> Team Brazil (Tony Kanaan &amp; Felipe Massa)<br /> Team Colombia (Juan Pablo Montoya &amp; Gabby Chaves)&nbsp;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13577https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13577Toto Wolff praises ‘no-nonsense’ Valtteri Bottas ahead of F1 2017Mon, 16 Jan 2017 16:01:52 GMT<p><strong>Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has praised the team&rsquo;s new signing, Valtteri Bottas, for his &ldquo;no-nonsense&rdquo; and &ldquo;very focused&rdquo; attitude.</strong></p> <p>Following <a href="https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13571">Pascal Wehrlein&rsquo;s Sauber move</a> and <a href="https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13574">Felipe Massa&rsquo;s return to Williams</a> being announced, Mercedes confirmed the final piece of the F1 2017 puzzle by revealing Bottas as the replacement for retired World Champion Nico Rosberg.</p> <p>Bottas was <a href="https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13575">officially unveiled as Lewis Hamilton&rsquo;s team-mate</a> for the new season at the Mercedes factory in Brackley.</p> <p>Wolff believes Bottas will be a great fit for Mercedes, though warned that the team is slightly behind its rivals due to the unexpected driver moves.</p> <p>&ldquo;Sometimes in life, unexpected circumstances provide interesting opportunities,&rdquo; commented Wolff.</p> <p>&ldquo;Nico&#39;s decision in December was a big surprise - certainly a challenging situation for the team to handle. But weathering the storm makes you more resilient and we see this as another opportunity for the team to grow.</p> <p>&ldquo;Valtteri is a no-nonsense guy: down to earth, straightforward and very focused. Pretty Finnish, to be honest, and a great fit for us.</p> <p>&ldquo;He has an impressive track record in the junior categories and nine podiums in F1. But now it&#39;s time for the next level, to see how he can step up to challenge for race wins and for championships.</p> <p>&ldquo;We know that we are already behind the curve in terms of preparations for the new season, so we&#39;ve got a busy programme to get him integrated into the team. One thing is for sure: as I know Valtteri, he will give it everything.&rdquo;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13576https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13576Nico Rosberg becomes Mercedes ambassadorMon, 16 Jan 2017 15:40:55 GMT<p><strong>World Champion Nico Rosberg will continue to act as an ambassador for Mercedes in 2017, despite having retired from Formula 1.</strong></p> <p>Rosberg, 31, joined Mercedes in 2010 after four seasons with Williams and emerged as a title contender when the squad vaulted to the front of the grid under new regulations in 2014.</p> <p>Rosberg finished runner-up to Lewis Hamilton in 2014 and 2015 but turned the tables last year, beating his team-mate to the title by just five points after a record-breaking 21-race season.</p> <p>Rosberg consequently stunned the sport by announcing his retirement just five days after his title victory, and has been replaced by former Williams driver Valtteri Bottas.</p> <p>Rosberg, though, has retained his ties to Mercedes into the new year.</p> <p>&quot;His first commitment will be tomorrow, in Geneva, alongside former team-mate Lewis Hamilton at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) on behalf of team partner IWC Schaffhausen,&quot; read a statement.</p> <p>Rosberg won 23 Grands Prix and took 30 pole positions during his period as a Mercedes race driver, alongside his 2016 title.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13575https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13575Mercedes confirms Valtteri Bottas for 2017 seasonMon, 16 Jan 2017 15:06:08 GMT<p><strong>Mercedes has confirmed the long-awaited news that Valtteri Bottas will partner Lewis Hamilton at the team this year, ending the Finn&rsquo;s four-year stay at Williams, and completing the squad&#39;s 2017 driver line-up.</strong></p> <p>Bottas, 27, was set to remain with Williams into 2017, alongside Lance Stroll, but Nico Rosberg&rsquo;s shock decision to retire as World Champion opened a vacancy at Mercedes.</p> <p>Mercedes courted several drivers but eventually settled on Bottas, with <a href="https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13574">Felipe Massa having confirmed that he will stay on at Williams</a> for an additional season.</p> <p>&quot;It&#39;s very exciting times for me,&quot; he said. &quot;I think it&#39;s going to take a while to understand that this is really happening. It&#39;s definitely another dream come true, to race in another team with such great history - especially in the recent years, which have been so impressive.</p> <p>&quot;I&#39;m really proud to become a part of that and grateful to everyone at Mercedes for trusting my skills and giving me this opportunity.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> &quot;I&#39;ve had a really warm welcome so far. Of course, I have a lot more people to meet and new faces to remember. But initially everything has felt very good. I&#39;m really impressed with the facilities and I&#39;m looking forward to getting to know everyone better.</p> <p>&quot;My first experience with Mercedes power was in F3 back in 2009 and, of course, I know the Power Unit well from the last three years with Williams. But there are a lot of new things to learn with the car and also with how the team operates at the factory, in testing and at the races.&quot;</p> <p>Bottas has previously spent the entirety of his Formula 1 career with Williams, having joined as its development driver in 2010.</p> <p>Bottas went on to claim the GP3 title in 2011 and spent a season conducting practice runs in 2012, prior to graduating to a race seat the following year.</p> <p>Williams endured a troublesome campaign as it grappled with the Coanda exhaust layout, but Bottas impressed against Pastor Maldonado, taking third on the grid during a damp qualifying session at Montr&eacute;al, before logging eighth in the United States, the team&rsquo;s highest result of the year.</p> <p>Bottas was joined by Massa for 2014 and Williams propelled itself up the grid courtesy of a switch to Mercedes power units and an aerodynamically efficient FW36.</p> <p>Bottas claimed his first podium in Austria and followed it up with another four rostrum finishes, including successive second places in Britain and Germany, placing fourth in the standings.</p> <p>Williams remained the third-best team in 2015 but a more static pecking order meant Bottas was only able to take two podiums, in Canada and Mexico, finishing fifth overall.</p> <p>Williams began 2016 harbouring ambitions of challenging for second in the standings but slumped to fifth, its predicament exacerbated by mid-season upgrades failing to deliver expected progress.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Bottas climbed onto the podium just once, in Canada, and slipped to eighth in the standings.</p> <p>The Finn will partner three-time World Champion Hamilton at Mercedes, the Briton having relinquished his crown to Rosberg after missing out in the Abu Dhabi finale.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13574https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13574Felipe Massa stays with Williams for 2017Mon, 16 Jan 2017 14:36:01 GMT<p><strong>Williams has confirmed that Felipe Massa will continue to race for the team in 2017, ahead of Valtteri Bottas&#39; impending switch to Mercedes.</strong></p> <p>Massa initially announced his retirement at last season&rsquo;s Italian Grand Prix, bringing the curtain down on a career which yielded 11 wins and the runner-up position in the 2008 standings.</p> <p>However, Nico Rosberg&rsquo;s decision to retire as World Champion opened a vacancy at Mercedes, with the champions soon installing Bottas as its preferred choice.</p> <p>Massa has now agreed a deal to end his short-lived retirement to continue competing for Williams, alongside 18-year-old rookie Lance Stroll.</p> <p>&quot;Firstly, I am very happy to have an opportunity to return to Williams,&quot; said Massa, who placed 11th in last year&#39;s standings.</p> <p>&quot;I always intended to race somewhere in 2017, but Williams is a team close to my heart and I have respect for everything it is trying to achieve.</p> <p>&quot;Valtteri has a great opportunity, given the turn of events over the winter, and I wish him all the best at Mercedes.</p> <p>&quot;In turn, when I was offered the chance to help Williams with their 2017 Formula 1 campaign, it felt like the right thing to do.</p> <p>&quot;I certainly have not lost any of my enthusiasm for racing and I&rsquo;m extremely motivated to be coming back to drive the FW40.</p> <p>&quot;The support from my fans over the last few weeks has been a huge boost and I&#39;m grateful for that.</p> <p>&quot;I also look forward to working with Lance; I&rsquo;ve known him for many years and seen his talent develop during that time, so I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together.&quot;</p> <p>Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams welcomed Massa&#39;s stay with the team and wished Bottas well for the future.</p> <p>&quot;I&rsquo;m delighted that Felipe has agreed to come out of retirement to be a part of our 2017 campaign,&quot; she said.</p> <p>&quot;With Valtteri having a unique opportunity to join the current constructors&rsquo; champions, we have been working hard to ensure that an agreement could be made with Mercedes to give Valtteri this fantastic opportunity.</p> <p>&quot;Valtteri has been part of the Williams family since 2010 and in that time has proved a huge talent, securing nine podium finishes. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him on behalf of the whole team, and wish him a successful season as he joins Mercedes.&quot;</p> <p>Mercedes is expected to announce the recruitment of Bottas shortly.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13573https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13573Monisha Kaltenborn: More to come from Pascal WehrleinMon, 16 Jan 2017 13:25:33 GMT<p><strong>Sauber Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn is sure that Pascal Wehrlein can continue to flourish in Formula 1 after he joined the squad for his sophomore season.</strong></p> <p>Wehrlein, 22, competed for Manor in his rookie campaign in motorsport&rsquo;s top echelon, scoring a point at the Austrian Grand Prix and securing a Q2 berth on five occasions.</p> <p>Sauber <a href="https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13571">confirmed on Monday that Mercedes prot&eacute;g&eacute; Wehrlein</a> will link up with Marcus Ericsson at the outfit and Kaltenborn is optimistic that the partnership will boost the team.</p> <p>&ldquo;We are very pleased to confirm Pascal as our second race driver for the 2017 season,&rdquo; said Kaltenborn.</p> <p>&ldquo;Pascal has shown his talent throughout his career &ndash; in single seater racing as well as in the DTM.</p> <p>&ldquo;Last year in his rookie Formula 1 season, he proved his potential by scoring one point in the Austrian Grand Prix.</p> <p>&ldquo;There is surely more to come from Pascal, and we want to give him the chance to further grow and learn at the pinnacle of motorsport.</p> <p>&ldquo;I am confident Marcus and Pascal will form a solid combination for 2017.&rdquo;</p> <p>Sauber finished in 10th position in the 2016 standings courtesy of Felipe Nasr&rsquo;s points in Brazil, which enabled it to leapfrog Manor.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13572https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13572McLaren to launch 2017 car on February 24Mon, 16 Jan 2017 12:25:27 GMT<p><strong>McLaren will&nbsp;launch its 2017 Formula 1 challenger on February 24, three days before pre-season testing begins in Spain.</strong></p> <p>McLaren confirmed on Monday that it plans to unveil its car&nbsp;at 11am (GMT) on February 24, the same day Ferrari will uncover its 2017 car.</p> <p>Rumours the team could return to its orange&nbsp;livery &ndash; which would be popular with McLaren fans &ndash;&nbsp;could prove accurate, as the team chose the colour for its launch countdown.</p> <p>The British squad will be hoping to make a big step forward this season, having finished a lowly sixth in the constructors&#39; championship last year, behind Williams.</p> <p>Engine supplier Honda has already confirmed plans to introduce an almost entirely new power unit, which will likely be based on the Mercedes unit, which features a split turbo, with a connecting shaft running through the engine block.</p> <p>Stoffel Vandoorne will make his full-time bow this year, having replaced Jenson Button, with Fernando Alonso set to enter the final season of his three-year deal.</p> <p>Other teams that have confirmed their launch plans include Renault, Force India and Mercedes.</p> <table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%"> <tbody> <tr> <td>Team</td> <td>Date</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Renault</td> <td>February 21</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Force India</td> <td>February 22</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Mercedes</td> <td>February 23</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Ferrari</td> <td>February 24</td> </tr> <tr> <td>McLaren</td> <td>February 24</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>&nbsp;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13571https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13571Sauber confirms Pascal Wehrlein for 2017 seasonMon, 16 Jan 2017 12:10:29 GMT<p><strong>Sauber has confirmed that Pascal Wehrlein will race for the team in 2017, alongside Marcus Ericsson, completing the outfit&rsquo;s driver line-up for the forthcoming campaign.</strong></p> <p>Mercedes prot&eacute;g&eacute; Wehrlein completed his rookie season with Manor in 2016 and scored a point in Austria to place 19th&nbsp;in the final standings.</p> <p>Wehrlein was touted as a contender to replace the newly-retired Nico Rosberg at Mercedes, but the manufacturer instead opted to recruit Valtteri Bottas from Williams, with a deal set to be announced this week.</p> <p>Wehrlein&rsquo;s move to Sauber means the 2017 grid is all but completed, with the German&rsquo;s previous team, Manor, currently in administration.</p> <p>&quot;I am very delighted at being a part of Sauber for the upcoming Formula 1 season,&quot; he said.</p> <p>&quot;It is a new challenge in a new team, and I am really excited and looking forward to this new adventure.</p> <p>&quot;Our objective is to establish ourselves in the mid-field and to score points on a regular basis.</p> <p>&quot;That being said, I will do my best to support Sauber. Now I am looking forward to meeting everyone in the team and to tackling the preparations for the 2017 season.</p> <p>&quot;I want to say a big thank you to Sauber for trusting in me and giving me this great chance.&quot;</p> <p>Wehrlein joins Sauber after the team endured one of its most difficult years in 2016, with financial constraints crippling the squad&rsquo;s development early in the campaign.</p> <p>A mid-season takeover by Longbow Finance allowed Sauber to ramp up development and it made progress, with Felipe Nasr finishing ninth in a rain-affected Brazilian Grand Prix.</p> <p>Those points elevated Sauber above Manor in the battle for 10th&nbsp;in the constructors&rsquo; championship, a result which ultimately left its fellow minnows scrapping for survival.</p> <p>Wehrlein&rsquo;s appointment alongside Ericsson raises doubts over Nasr&rsquo;s future, the Brazilian having been unable to secure his seat, a situation exacerbated by primary sponsor Banco do Brasil cutting funding.</p> <p>Nasr took six top 10 finishes in his rookie campaign with Sauber in 2015, including a stunning fifth on his debut in Australia, which proved to be the high-point of the outfit&rsquo;s year.</p> <p>Sauber&rsquo;s struggles in 2016 limited Nasr&rsquo;s opportunities; despite being out-shone by Ericsson for much of the year, it was ultimately Nasr&rsquo;s points at home which salvaged the team&rsquo;s season.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13570https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13570Issue 198 of Motorsport Monday is out now!Mon, 16 Jan 2017 09:29:28 GMT<p><strong>Issue 198 of our free e-magazine, Motorsport Monday, is online now &ndash; <a href="http://mmuk.realviewdigital.com/?iid=150092#folio=1">click here</a>, or the&nbsp;link below to start reading.</strong></p> <p>St&eacute;phane Peterhansel added to his legacy as one of the finest racers to ever take on the Dakar Rally by claiming his 13th overall victory last weekend. Peterhansel headed up a Peugeot 1-2-3, defeating teammates S&eacute;bastien Loeb and Cyrille Despres after a titanic battle across South America. There was also a breakthrough Brit in the bikes race as Sam Sunderland claimed victory for KTM. Check out our full report in today&#39;s magazine!</p> <p>Luke Smith ventured to Birmingham for Autosport International last week, and has a full recap of the show plus an interview with new McLaren chief Zak Brown. Phillip Horton also offers his two cents on minnow Manor F1&#39;s plight as it dices with extinction amid ongoing financial troubles.</p> <p><a href="http://mmuk.realviewdigital.com/?iid=150092#folio=1" target="_blank"><img src="/admin/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Magazine/click-to-read.png" width="100%"></a></p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13569https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13569Renault confirms new ERS for revised 2017 power unitMon, 16 Jan 2017 09:19:45 GMT<p><strong>Renault have confirmed that they will debut a new energy recovery system (ERS) as part of a revised 2017 power unit package, which it hopes will put them on a par with the leading Mercedes unit.</strong></p> <p>The French manufacturer has already confirmed it will introduce an entirely new engine and design philosophy for its works team and customer outfits Red Bull and Toro Rosso, which it says has far more development scope for the future.</p> <p>But managing director Cyril Abiteboul confirmed at the weekend that it would also be introducing a new ERS.</p> <p>&quot;This year we want to confirm the turnaround of the situation on the engine. Last year was really fantastic, and we need to confirm that,&quot; Abiteboul told&nbsp;<em>Autosport.</em></p> <p>&quot;We are going to have an all-new architecture on the internal combustion engine, and also be introducing for the first time the second generation of energy recovery system.&quot;</p> <p>Abiteboul explained that&nbsp;although the ERS is delivering the maximum power, there is still a lot that can be improved to increase its overall efficiency.</p> <p>&quot;There are an awful lot of collateral aspects to consider &ndash; like weight, packaging, cooling requirements, plus the intensity of the current that you can use in certain conditions, in particular climatic conditions.</p> <p>&quot;There are certain things that look like they are secondary, but in F1 nothing is secondary. Once you have reached the top, which is an MGU that can deliver 120KW, you still need to think about these extra elements if you want make your way and reach the top as a team.&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13568https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13568Williams knew Mercedes would come for Valtteri Bottas after Nico Rosberg retirementMon, 16 Jan 2017 09:07:04 GMT<p><strong>Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams says she knew immediately after Nico Rosberg&#39;s retirement announcement, that Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff would come knocking on her door with an interest in poaching Valtteri Bottas.</strong></p> <p>Although Mercedes have to officially confirm anything, it&#39;s widely believed that Bottas will replace Rosberg at Mercedes in 2017, partnering three-time champion Lewis Hamilton.</p> <p>Speaking at the&nbsp;<em>Autosport International Show</em>, Williams admits she knew Mercedes would be interested in the Finnish driver and says neither she nor the team want&nbsp;to stand in his way.</p> <p>&quot;I suppose as soon as Nico made his announcement, I knew the call was going to come from Toto,&quot; she said. &quot;I know that he&rsquo;s admired Valtteri &ndash; many people do admire Valtteri&rsquo;s talent.</p> <p>&quot;For us, you don&rsquo;t want to stand in the way of a driver who has the opportunity to go and race finally in a car that&rsquo;s winning races, it&rsquo;s winning world championships.&quot;</p> <p>Williams denied they&#39;ve been forced in to the move because they rely on Mercedes for engines.</p> <p>&quot;Just because we&rsquo;re a customer of Mercedes, Toto picks up the phone to me and I go &lsquo;alright then&rsquo;. Anyone that knows me knows that I don&rsquo;t just go, &lsquo;alright then&rsquo;.</p> <p>&quot;We pay for our engines, we pay on time for our engines and therefore they don&rsquo;t have any right to come to us and say, &lsquo;you need to release this driver for us now&rsquo;.&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13552https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13552Why Valtteri Bottas will do better at Mercedes than you thinkSun, 15 Jan 2017 17:37:50 GMT<p><strong>F1, as we are often reminded, is a fickle business.</strong></p> <p>Valtteri Bottas must now know this, for good and ill. Rewind just six weeks and he was spoken of as the sport&rsquo;s forgotten man by defenders; as a busted flush by detractors. Either way it didn&rsquo;t look good for him.</p> <p>But then things changed, changed utterly. The new world champion Nico Rosberg dropped his bombshell &ndash; not least on his Mercedes squad &ndash; by announcing that he was off pronto. And for all that this resulted in an explosion of names touted to fill the prized vacancy Bottas emerged quickly as the clear front-runner, where he remains. The announcement of him getting the 2017 Merc seat it seems is a matter of time, particularly as other pieces in this jigsaw such as <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/formula1/38571408" target="_blank">Paddy Lowe returning to Williams</a> have fallen into place reportedly.</p> <p>The prospect though seems in some quarters to have been met with a shoulder shrug. The view being that Bottas will be solid no doubt, but not spectacular. That he got the gig mainly as there were few other options, Merc being left rather short on them by the tardiness of Nico&rsquo;s announcement.</p> <blockquote> <p>The prospect though seems in some quarters to have been met with a shoulder shrug. The view being that Bottas will be solid no doubt, but not spectacular. That he got the gig mainly as there were few other options</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgNfZpOTG2Q&amp;t=194s" target="_blank">Peter Windsor for one sounded suitably guarded when he said of Bottas</a> recently that &ldquo;alongside Lewis Hamilton he would be a great stand-in, fill-in for Nico Rosberg if you like, quite capable of winning races, potentially a world championship if everything came right for him. He isn&rsquo;t going to give Lewis a massively hard time&hellip;&rdquo;</p> <p>Martin Brundle similarly kept his enthusiasm somewhat in check. &ldquo;Lewis [Hamilton] is kind of &lsquo;bring it on&rsquo; isn&rsquo;t he? &lsquo;Send me whoever you like, I think I&#39;ll be faster than them&rsquo;&rdquo; he observed. &ldquo;But I think he&rsquo;d be a bit edgy if it was Fernando Alonso or Sebastian Vettel [as his team mate rather than Bottas].&rdquo;</p> <p>Yet here&rsquo;s that fickleness again. How quickly we forget. Not that long ago &ndash; just two years back indeed &ndash; Bottas was thought well on the way to being among the best of the F1 best; perhaps even was there already. The man who had pipped Daniel Ricciardo in the 2008 Renault Eurocup &ndash; and who broke through to F1 celebrity in the same 2014 season &ndash; was spoken of in similar terms as the Australian.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m really impressed with him,&rdquo; said Williams&rsquo; Pat Symonds at the end of that campaign. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s very bright and he&rsquo;s very quick. He doesn&rsquo;t make many mistakes and when he does he learns from them.</p> <p>&ldquo;He&rsquo;s got a great personality and he&rsquo;s a real team player and I&rsquo;m absolutely convinced that he&rsquo;s got the potential to be a world champion.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve worked with a few world champions in their early days and I&rsquo;ve no doubt that Valtteri will be a world champion.&rdquo;</p> <blockquote> <p>I&rsquo;ve worked with a few world champions in their early days and I&rsquo;ve no doubt that Valtteri will be a world champion - Pat Symonds</p> </blockquote> <p>Windsor meanwhile in 2014, displaying remarkable prescience, wrote that &ldquo;should Lewis or Nico ever decide to leave the factory team, assume Valtteri will be the logical replacement.&rdquo;</p> <p>But&hellip; the resurgent Williams started to flat line in 2015 and at roughly the same time Bottas&rsquo;s next-big-thing reputation got curly at the corners. That fickleness again.</p> <p>&ldquo;The spark of last year,&rdquo; said Mark Hughes of the Finn in mid-2015, &ldquo;the guy that was putting those aggressive passes on everyone at Stowe as he came through the field, hasn&rsquo;t been so evident in 2015&hellip;the trajectory of his progress has definitely been brought up short.&rdquo; In 2016 it was more of the same.</p> <p>Was it simply that the Williams fell from the pace and that Valtteri was tainted by association? Or did he relent a little himself simultaneously? Some have noted his tendency to sink in races, be overtaken. Defenders insist the sinks reflected car characteristics rather than Valtteri &ndash; that the Williams wasn&rsquo;t good for keeping its tyres in shape, certainly not compared with some of the cars around it in the midfield. Also that it reflected that Bottas was getting his machine into grid slots it really had no right to be in, such is his excellent qualifying ability.</p> <blockquote> <p>Was it simply that the Williams fell from the pace [since 2014] and that Valtteri was tainted by association? Or did he relent a little himself simultaneously?</p> </blockquote> <p>On that quali skill, Ben Anderson of <em>Autosport</em> was correct to point out that Bottas&rsquo;s average starting place of 8.3 last season was worthy of praise, given that he definitely did not have one of the best four cars on the grid (do the math). You could add too that the average was near enough a match of Nico Hulkenberg&rsquo;s, was a whole place better than Sergio Perez&rsquo;s and two places better than Bottas&rsquo;s stable mate Felipe Massa.</p> <p>While in that most pitiless of measures of F1 potency Bottas&rsquo;s intra-team qualifying match-up score in 2016 was the most crushing on the grid, at 17-4. Yes, some will suggest, Massa seems rather past his best these days. But again underlining Bottas&rsquo;s thankless predicament you can only beat what you&rsquo;re up against, and in any case the paddock consensus is that Bottas&rsquo;s single-lap efforts often are stunning.</p> <p>It seems therefore Bottas has a good chance to start plenty of races ahead of Hamilton, and we know that counts for a lot in F1. It may count for even more in 2017 if as expected the Pirellis will be more as nature intended plus the additional aero may, if fears are borne out, make following other cars no easier.</p> <p>Yet with Bottas it&rsquo;s not merely about raw speed.</p> <p>&ldquo;It certainly isn&#39;t just one thing,&rdquo; said Symonds of Bottas&rsquo;s skillset after the Finn&rsquo;s 2014 breakthrough. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not about being quick as that&rsquo;s almost a given and there are plenty of people who are quick but are never going to win the world championship.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s the intelligence, it&#39;s the application, the thinking about things, the hard work that is put in, the attention to detail... Those sort of things will win him the championship.&rdquo;</p> <blockquote> <p>It certainly isn&#39;t just one thing. It&rsquo;s not about being quick as that&rsquo;s almost a given. It&rsquo;s the intelligence, it&#39;s the application, the thinking about things, the hard work that is put in, the attention to detail... Those sort of things will win him the championship - Pat Symonds</p> </blockquote> <p>The intelligence Symonds speaks of is quite something in Bottas&rsquo;s case. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s got a good brain on him&rdquo; noted Williams chief operations engineer Mark Gillan before Bottas made his F1 race debut. &ldquo;And his [technical] feedback is such that he doesn&rsquo;t say too much, but what he does say is succinct and is directed specifically at areas where you look at it [and] you say, &lsquo;yeah, that&rsquo;s right&rsquo;.&rdquo;</p> <p>To watch Bottas trackside too is to watch a master in his art. One ultra-smooth, and able to reach his ultimate pace right away as if one flicked a switch. One far from the sort that deserves the &lsquo;meh&rsquo; that his promotion has been met with.</p> <p>&ldquo;I think people have got the impression that he&rsquo;s quite a boring, safe driver&rdquo; said<em> <a href="http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/127552">Autosport</a></em><a href="http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/127552" target="_blank"> editor-in-chief Edd Straw</a> on this very subject recently. &ldquo;But he&rsquo;s a very good driver.</p> <p>&ldquo;He always impresses me in FP1. He&rsquo;s very good at picking up what the grip level is, picking up the pace, you don&rsquo;t see him massively out of shape like some of the other drivers, he doesn&rsquo;t take ages to get tuned in. There&rsquo;s a <em>lot</em> of ability there.</p> <blockquote> <p>I think people have got the impression that he&rsquo;s quite a boring, safe driver. But he&rsquo;s a very good driver. There&rsquo;s a <em>lot</em> of ability there - Edd Straw</p> </blockquote> <p>&ldquo;Just because the Williams has gone backwards since 2014, and his star has seemed to wane in the public eye, he&rsquo;s still performing at a very high level. This is not a conservative number two who&rsquo;s going to be half a second behind Lewis Hamilton.&rdquo;</p> <p>Karun Chandhok concurred. &ldquo;I remember going to the [end of lap] chicane&hellip;in Canada&hellip;in free practice,&rdquo; he noted, &ldquo;and he was <em>so</em> good&hellip;just hit the ground running, straight away in free practice, and looked so so comfortable and confident in the car, dancing it around. There were only probably three or four others that we thought really stood out.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;He has the technique&rdquo; said Windsor in 2014. &ldquo;Watch him from the outside of the Lesmo Curves at Monza; watch him into the pool section &ndash; and La Rascasse &ndash; in Monaco. The movements are seamless, almost Trulli-like. The precision is absolute. And he is <em>fast</em> &ndash; a crucial modifier in this case, because there&rsquo;s nothing easier in F1 than being smooth and slow.&rdquo;</p> <p>One wonders indeed if this lack of driving ostentation, allied to similar conduct out of the car, contributed to the &ldquo;boring, safe&rdquo; image that Straw spoke of.</p> <p>Yet Bottas&rsquo;s skills don&rsquo;t stop there. &ldquo;I&rsquo;d certainly say his strength is his feeling for the tyres&rdquo; Symonds added. It remains to be seen the extent that this forthcoming season&rsquo;s lower degradation rubber and bags more downforce will influence this, but there&rsquo;s little to suggest his skill won&rsquo;t be an asset.</p> <p>In any case his ability to adapt is another if his key strengths. &ldquo;I think I can adapt to new things quite quickly,&rdquo; Bottas has said; &ldquo;even when I tried an F1 car the first time it was only a few laps and I was really comfortable.&rdquo;</p> <blockquote> <p>I think I can adapt to new things quite quickly; even when I tried an F1 car the first time it was only a few laps and I was really comfortable - Valtteri&nbsp;Bottas</p> </blockquote> <p>And while during his developing years this adaptability had a flip side, that it stopped him searching for set-up improvements, Bottas insists he&rsquo;s improved here. &ldquo;I still feel like I can adapt to a lot of different set-ups and driving styles, but at the same time I&rsquo;ve improved to really think about and feel how the car should be improved, so I can get more out of it&rdquo; he added.</p> <p>Then there is his consistency. Mistakes, or even off days (Monaco visits aside), have been hard to cite from Bottas, while in the last three seasons from 58 starts Bottas scored in 45 of them. It shouldn&rsquo;t be forgotten that in 2016 Bottas managed to out-score the highly-rated Hulkenberg by 13, even though the Hulk clearly had the better wheels. As Straw added: &ldquo;At the absolute worst I can possibly see if Bottas does end up in that seat is he&rsquo;s going to deliver Mercedes a hatful of points, and be a good team player&hellip;He&rsquo;s not going to be a disaster; he&rsquo;s not going to be underachieving desperately.&rdquo;</p> <p>On the face of it too Bottas, unflinching in that typically Finnish way, should be perfect to let Lewis&rsquo;s habitual fireworks rather rebound off him. And while the pressure of fighting near the front can reveal character in sometimes surprising ways, conspicuous podium anteroom awkwardness with Lewis seems unlikely with the phlegmatic Finn.</p> <blockquote> <p>Mistakes, or even off days (Monaco visits aside), have been hard to cite from Bottas, while in the last three seasons from 58 starts Bottas scored in 45 of them</p> </blockquote> <p>But a lot of how he&rsquo;ll do precisely will come down to things that currently are unknowable. Things at the front are decided in the margins, and while as Straw outlined Hamilton is unlikely to be way ahead it remains to be seen if the Finn has the fractions of tenths required to give Hamilton consistent problems. There also is the question of how Bottas will respond to the promotion more generally, and that also remains a step into the unknown.</p> <p>&ldquo;We know Valtteri Bottas has got the speed,&rdquo; Brundle said recently in this ilk, &ldquo;but it&rsquo;s a different story then when you turn up in a car where winning races and winning the world championship is expected, not a wish, not a maybe, not a lucky day. And there&rsquo;s nowhere to run and hide; the spotlight is ever-stronger.</p> <p>But he added &ldquo;I think Valtteri&rsquo;s got the mental capacity and the speed to handle that.&rdquo;</p> <p>We could add however that in the first half of 2015 Bottas appeared to go off the boil somewhat amid rumours that Ferrari was monitoring him. <a href="http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/120379" target="_blank">He admitted later that the whispers distracted him</a>. He&rsquo;ll hope that was peculiar and not evidence of a fundamental lack of big match temperament.</p> <p>But it feels more broadly like we&rsquo;ve been here before. This was something outlined by <a href="http://www.autosport.com/premium/feature/7348/who-id-pick-to-replace-rosberg" target="_blank">Nigel Roebuck in the past few days</a>: &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a fact that Bottas has not been thought of as in the days when a Ferrari contract seemed to be looming, but he will, I fancy, provide a more competitive proposition than perhaps the Mercedes number-one driver&hellip;anticipates. In their four years as team mates, after all, Hamilton may have had 32 victories to Rosberg&rsquo;s 22, but it was not the <em>annihilation</em> many had predicted.&rdquo;</p> <p>So a man who is quick &ndash; particularly on a quali lap, smart, and can be counted up to knuckle down and deliver consistently as Lewis oscillates. Perhaps the grandest attribute of the man to replace Nico Rosberg is that he&rsquo;ll be a lot like Nico Rosberg.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13551https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13551Toro Rosso's 2017 F1 car passes mandatory crash testsSun, 15 Jan 2017 17:36:03 GMT<p><strong>Toro Rosso has become the latest team to announce that its 2017 Formula 1 car has passed the mandatory FIA crash tests.</strong></p> <p>The Italian outfit is the second on the F1 grid to confirm its 2017 car has passed the FIA crash tests, after Force India.</p> <p>Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat remain at Toro Rosso for the new season, which features major regulation changes.</p> <p>There have been considerable modifications to the aero rules for 2017, as well as wider Pirelli tyres being introduced.</p> <p>Toro Rosso has yet to reveal when its new car, the STR12, will be officially launched.</p> <p>Pre-season testing begins at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain from the 27 February to the 2 March.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">So guys, good news&hellip; You&rsquo;ve got a car to go testing with!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AllCrashTestsPassed?src=hash">#AllCrashTestsPassed</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WellDoneTeam?src=hash">#WellDoneTeam</a> 🙌🏼👍🏼💪🏼🍾✅ <a href="https://t.co/0hM0DwHbwY">pic.twitter.com/0hM0DwHbwY</a></p> &mdash; Toro Rosso (@ToroRossoSpy) <a href="https://twitter.com/ToroRossoSpy/status/819848451517251586">January 13, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13550https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13550Sir Stirling Moss 'stable' in hospital following 'serious' chest infectionSun, 15 Jan 2017 17:34:35 GMT<p><strong>Sir Stirling Moss is currently in a &quot;stable&quot; condition in a Singapore hospital following a &quot;serious&quot; chest infection, his family confirmed in a statement on Saturday.</strong></p> <p>The Briton, who despite winning 16 races during his Formula 1 career, never won a title and is therefore often considered the greatest driver never to have won a championship.</p> <p>He and his wife were on holiday in Singapore during the Christmas period, but the 87-year-old was admitted to hospital on December 22. He is currently in a stable condition and in &quot;good spirits&quot; according to his family.</p> <p>&ldquo;Because of the severity of the infection it resulted in some complications and his recovery has not been as speedy as was expected or wished,&quot; the statement said.</p> <p>&ldquo;However, his condition continues to improve and his doctors now consider him to be stable,&quot; it added. &quot;In himself, Sir Stirling is in good spirits and only upset about having missed his Christmas cruise with friends.&quot;</p> <p>Once discharged, he plans to remain in Singapore for a few days of relaxation:&nbsp;&quot;It is Sir Stirling and Lady Moss&#39; hope to stay in Singapore to enjoy a few days recuperating at a lovely hotel, being thoroughly spoilt, whilst lying in the sun by a gorgeous swimming pool.&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13549https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13549Cyril Abiteboul was 'disappointed' by Kevin Magnussen in 2016Sun, 15 Jan 2017 17:33:46 GMT<p><strong>Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul says he was &ldquo;disappointed&rdquo; by Kevin Magnussen&rsquo;s performance and attitude during the 2016 season.</strong></p> <p>The Enstone-based outfit parted ways with Magnussen at the end of the year, with the Danish driver switching to Haas for 2017.</p> <p>Renault suffered a tough year and scored just eight points, finishing ninth in the constructors&rsquo; standings.</p> <p>&ldquo;Keeping Magnussen may have seemed like a logical choice in terms of keeping onboard a standard reference,&rdquo; Abiteboul explained to France&rsquo;s&nbsp;<em>Auto Hebdo</em>.</p> <p>&ldquo;But personally, I was disappointed by him. I was disappointed by his performance as well as by his attitude.</p> <p>&ldquo;He has undeniable talent but lacks discipline and commitment, and looks for excuses a bit too often.&rdquo;</p> <p>Abiteboul felt Magnussen&rsquo;s pace dropped off over the course of race weekends and season, whereas team-mate Jolyon Palmer made progress throughout.</p> <p>He explained: &ldquo;At many races, Joylon was nowhere on Friday only to steadily improve all weekend while Magnussen&rsquo;s performance would start alright only to fall off thereafter.</p> <p>&ldquo;Palmer moves at his own pace, in F1 just like he did on GP2 where he needs several seasons to clinch the title, but he&rsquo;s on an ascending line. Logically, he should be better in 2017.&rdquo;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13548https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13548Martin Brundle suffered small heart attack before Monaco GP podiumSun, 15 Jan 2017 17:32:21 GMT<p><strong>Former Formula 1 driver turned Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle has revealed he suffered a small heart attack shortly before conducting the Monaco Grand Prix podium interviews in 2016.</strong></p> <p>Brundle had finished his commentary duties and was making his way from the booth to the podium, situated on the start/finish straight, where he was interviewing the top three drivers.</p> <p>Speaking at the Autosport International Show in Birmingham, Brundle revealed he suffered a heart attack on his way to the podium interviews.</p> <p>&ldquo;I had a small heart attack running to do the podium in Monaco,&rdquo; Brundle, who still managed to interview the top three, explained.</p> <p>&ldquo;I ended up with a 23mm stent in my left arterial descending. So I didn&rsquo;t think I could do the race and the cardio guy said &lsquo;yeah, you can do the race, just don&rsquo;t forget your blood thinners&rsquo;.&rdquo;</p> <p>He underwent a medical procedure and was forced to miss the Canadian Grand Prix, but returned to motorsport a few weeks later by competing at Le Mans in LMP3 and finishing second in class.</p> <p>&ldquo;I went to Palmersport and did 75 laps in a car and thought &lsquo;yeah, I can do this&rsquo;,&rdquo; he added. &ldquo;I had bruises coming out of my chest but I thought &lsquo;I love Le Mans, I&rsquo;m not going to miss this&rsquo;.</p> <p>&ldquo;I sat at the press conference and there was a 17-year-old and a 19-year-old sitting alongside me and I thought &lsquo;that&rsquo;s not bad for an old geezer, 57&rsquo;. We finished second in the race which was unfortunate, not first.&rdquo;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13547https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13547Alejandro Agag expects Esteban Gutierrez to be Formula E title contenderSun, 15 Jan 2017 00:00:00 GMT<p><strong>FIA Formula E founder and CEO Alejandro Agag says the all-electric series&rsquo; latest driver, former F1 racer Esteban Gutierrez, can be a title contender in season four.</strong></p> <p>Gutierrez was announced as a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.grandprixtimes.com/news/id/13519">Formula E driver earlier this week</a>, with the Mexican set to step in at various races during the remainder of the 2016/2017 season.</p> <p>So far he has been confirmed for the Mexico City ePrix and New York ePrix, but the team he will be driving for has not been revealed yet.</p> <p>A number of clashes with other racing championships mean seats will free up at some races, making room for Gutierrez.</p> <p>The initial announcement stated that Gutierrez was considering full-time options in Formula E for the 2017/2018 season and Agag reckons he can be a front-runner.</p> <p>&ldquo;I think that&rsquo;s [Gutierrez joining] great news for the championship,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve known Esteban for a long time - I was in GP2 when Esteban was there and obviously he&rsquo;s a great driver.</p> <p>&ldquo;He&rsquo;s a young driver and has a long career in front of him and is choosing to follow his career after Formula 1 in Formula E.</p> <p>&ldquo;At his age, I see a very bright future for him. I think it&rsquo;s going to be great for the Mexico race to have a local star for the fans to cheer for.&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;This year Esteban is going to be on a learning curve in Formula E - he&rsquo;s missed two races of the season already, so it&rsquo;s not a season for him to try to win the championship, but a season to learn.</p> <p>&ldquo;He&rsquo;ll race in Mexico and New York - we have a few clashes with other championships that will free up seats and for him to occupy those seats and to learn.</p> <p>&ldquo;And then after that in season four, I think he&rsquo;ll have a proper race drive and will be one of the guys who is going to fight for the championship.&rdquo;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13562https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13562NASCAR officials announce tweaks and changes to 2017 rulebookSat, 14 Jan 2017 20:45:27 GMT<p><strong>NASCAR officially confirmed a variety of changes and tweaks to the 2017 rules for all three of its national championships.</strong></p> <p>An interesting update to the rules for all three NASCAR series is allowing drivers to wear biometric devices in the cockpit.</p> <p>However, NASCAR has strict regulations around this. They must not have telematics capability, have to operate on their own internal battery power, can&rsquo;t connect to vehicle electric systems and the data can only be stored on the device itself.</p> <p>External data loggers are not permitted and the data is not allowed to be downloaded during qualifying or the race. The device must be one of those listed on NASCAR&rsquo;s approved driver biometric device.&nbsp;</p> <p>The number of tyres available to Cup drivers has been cut for 13 of the 36 points-paying races and increased for eight events, compared to 2016.&nbsp;</p> <p>The change in sets has only been adjusted by one, apart from the finale at Homestead-Miami which has gone from 12 to 10.</p> <p>Non-restrictor plate tracks will see a shortened rear spoiler measuring 2.35 inches being used in the 2017 Cup series.</p> <p>At Daytona and Talladega, the restrictor plate opening will decrease to 1/64 of an inch in the Cup and Xfinity championships.</p> <p>An emergency roof hatch was optional at superspeedways last year but is now mandatory, but remains optional for non-superspeedways.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13540https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13540Pirelli expect teams will 'sandbag' during pre-season testingFri, 13 Jan 2017 23:23:34 GMT<p><strong>Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery doesn&#39;t believe a true pecking order will emerge until&nbsp;the opening race of the season or even later, as most teams will sandbag to some extent during pre-season testing.</strong></p> <p>With major regulation changes likely to result in a mixed up grid, many are eager for testing to begin to see where each team stands, and although it&#39;s difficult to make an accurate prediction under normal circumstances, it will be almost impossible to do so&nbsp;this year until the actual racing starts according to Hembery.</p> <p>&quot;We really won&#39;t know in Barcelona testing where the teams are as that&#39;s a period where they won&#39;t want to show their hand,&quot; Hembery said at the&nbsp;<em>Autosport International Show.</em></p> <p>&quot;There will be a lot of people trying to hide their true performance level or maybe wondering what they need to do because they can&#39;t even get close to some of the teams who are maybe sandbagging.&quot;</p> <p>Nonetheless, Hembery is looking forward to testing to confirm whether Pirelli have got their calculations right for the new 2017 tyres, which has proven difficult due to the slower than expected mule cars which have failed to match the downforce levels expected this year.</p> <p>&quot;The problem we have got is that we have been testing with cars that are five seconds slower than what we&#39;re actually going to see in Barcelona,&quot; he added.</p> <p>&quot;From a compounding aspect, it is a bit of a challenge for us because it&#39;s a very small window we&#39;re working with.</p> <p>&quot;If the numbers aren&#39;t what we have been told they are going to be, then we might have been a bit too conservative.&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13539https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13539Formula E planning more 'winter races' to shorten calendar gapFri, 13 Jan 2017 23:15:04 GMT<p><strong>Formula E is hoping to introduce more races during the winter period which it says will shorten, or even do away with the calendar gap which has been a feature of the opening three seasons.</strong></p> <p>The current 2016/17 calendar has a three-month gap between race two and three in Morocco and Buenos Aires respectively, which means fans begin to lose interest and it opens up a greater chance of clashes with other series, such as Formula 1 and World Endurance Championship.</p> <p>However series boss Alejandro Agag says they are planning on starting later, removing or at least reducing the calendar gap and then ending the season sooner, so it&#39;s more active during the winter, when other series aren&#39;t.</p> <p>&quot;It will be much better in terms of the break, which is too long,&quot; he told the official <em>Formula E </em>website.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;We are looking at perhaps starting later next year, and we definitely want to add events during the winter period. So races in January, races in February, races in March.</p> <p>&quot;These months, which is also when other championships are not on, is where we really need to fill the calendar.</p> <p>&quot;It&rsquo;s looking better for next season, we have different options for cities that we are working on now and we hope to have something to present to the WMSC in March.&quot;</p> <p>However Agag says he isn&#39;t bothered by the clashes with other racing series, despite some of FE&#39;s &#39;star&#39; drivers being forced to miss events due to other commitments.</p> <p>&quot;I think the [current] season is going to be fascinating. I&rsquo;m not really worried about the clashes - I think it&rsquo;s good to have new drivers coming in and that can give a bit more intrigue to the championship.</p> <p>&quot;I think the season ahead of us is going to be as exciting, if not more exciting than season one and two.&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13561https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13561Brendan Gaughan set for Daytona 500 qualifying attemptFri, 13 Jan 2017 20:39:23 GMT<p><strong>Brendan Gaughan has not raced in the top tier of NASCAR since 2015, but the 41-year-old has revealed he will try to qualify for this year&rsquo;s Daytona 500.</strong></p> <p>He told the Las Vegas Review-Journal he will drive the No.59 Leavine Family Racing car which Michael McDowell took to 15th&nbsp;place at last year&rsquo;s race.</p> <p>Mark Beard is now the car owner. He previously made two starts in what is now known as the Xfinity series in the 1980s and has owned cars in the category.</p> <p>&ldquo;They bought the old Leavine car, they&#39;ve hired ECR to do motors - real racing motors-- and they asked if I would be interested,&rdquo; Gaughan said.&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;So it&#39;s got Richard Childress motors, and I&#39;m going to have a Richard Childress pit crew - my guys - and so we&#39;re going to the Daytona 500 and see if we can qualify.&rdquo;</p> <p>He has made 50 starts in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series over the last five years or so and is set to race full-time in Xfinity this season.</p> <p>Should he qualify for the Daytona 500, it will be his second time at the event, after finishing 19th&nbsp;in 2004.&nbsp;</p> <p>Because his team does not have a charter, he will have to try and qualify for the race from qualifying speeds and/or the Can-Am Duel races. Elliott Sadler, driving an open entry for Tommy Baldwin Racing, will be doing the same.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13538https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13538Mick Schumacher welcome to join our junior programme - FerrariFri, 13 Jan 2017 16:52:53 GMT<p><strong>Ferrari would roll out the &quot;red carpet&quot; if Mick Schumacher were to express an interest in joining their junior programme, the Ferrari Driver Academy.</strong></p> <p>Schumacher, son of seven-time world champion Michael, has impressed during the early stages of his motorsport career, having finished second in ADAC Formula 4 and Italian F4 with Prema. This year he will make his F3 debut.</p> <p>Speaking to <em>Gazzetta dello Sport</em>, FDA manager Massimo Rivola confirmed they were following his career progress and were interested in signing him.</p> <p>&quot;Obviously we are following him,&quot; he said. &quot;This year we will have the opportunity to stay very close to Mick, because he will be team-mate of our FDA driver [Guan Yu]&nbsp;Zhou in the Prema team.</p> <p>&quot;About his future, I don&#39;t know what Mick will decide to do. But if he would like to enter the FDA programme, he will find a red carpet.&quot;</p> <p>Rivola says he has been impressed by both his on-track performance and the way he handles himself outside of the car, particularly due to the increased media pressure from being the son of F1&#39;s most successful driver.</p> <p>&quot;Mick seems to be&nbsp;very polite and he&#39;s not full of himself. They [his parents] did a very good job with him.</p> <p>&quot;He&#39;s very young, and he must manage a very huge media pressure. But he is doing it very well.&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13537https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13537McLaren would be 'disappointed' to finish fourth in 2017Fri, 13 Jan 2017 16:34:46 GMT<p><strong>McLaren chief operating officer Jonathan Neale says the team would be disappointed to finish fourth in the standings this season, despite finishing just sixth in 2016.</strong></p> <p>Although fourth would be considered a massive leap forward from sixth, Neale believes McLaren are in a position to capitalise on the regulation changes and therefore jump up the order and fight for race wins in 2017.</p> <p>&quot;You&#39;ve got to aim high, but right now I would be disappointed if we were fourth,&quot; he told&nbsp;<em>Autosport.</em>&nbsp;&quot;That&#39;s probably the pragmatist&#39;s view, but you don&#39;t make progress as pragmatists.&quot;</p> <p>McLaren have already confirmed that Honda will introduce an entirely new power unit this year, therefore everything is in place for McLaren to challenge for wins after a couple of years languishing in the midfield.</p> <p>&quot;We want to win and we want to win sooner,&quot; he added.</p> <p>&quot;We&#39;ve got a race team, we&#39;ve got drivers that are capable of winning, and between the chassis and engine, both ourselves and Honda need to bridge that gap in performance.</p> <p>&quot;The new aerodynamic platform and the great uncertainty over tyres throws an opportunity at us, and I&#39;d like to think that we can capitalise on that. But it&#39;s unknown.&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13536https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13536Silverstone feeling 'very positive' over future of British Grand PrixFri, 13 Jan 2017 14:42:58 GMT<p><strong>President of the British Racing Drivers&#39; Club Derek Warwick has said he is feeling &quot;very positive&quot; about the future of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, despite the recent news that it could activate a break clause in its current deal after 2019 to drop the race.</strong></p> <p>Silverstone, which is owned and run by the BRDC, has a deal in place to host the British GP until 2026. However a letter circulated to all members before Christmas cast doubts over&nbsp;the future of the race, with BRDC chairman John Grant saying it isn&#39;t financially viable.</p> <p>Warwick however moved to calm any fears they could dump the race, confirming they are in talks with the government about funding and with Bernie Ecclestone and new owners Liberty Media over reducing the hosting fee.</p> <p>&quot;Don&#39;t worry, we 100% have it for next three years, up until 2019,&quot; he said at the&nbsp;<em>Autosport International Show.</em>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;I have just got a feeling that, &#39;we can&#39;t do without the British Grand Prix, we can&#39;t do without Silverstone&#39;, so some compromise will be made, either with Bernie or the new people that are now taking over, which is Liberty.</p> <p>&quot;We have had meetings with Liberty and [F1 chairman] Chase Carey, he understands our dilemma,&quot; added Warwick. &quot;We understand he still has to make money because that&#39;s what these guys are doing.&quot;</p> <p>The overall mood at the BRDC is positive according to Warwick, who is confident they race will continue past 2019.</p> <p>&quot;There is light at the end of the tunnel, we will have grands prix past 2019.</p> <p>&quot;We&#39;re talking to government to see if there is any help there. Even Bernie is calling us and saying &#39;let&#39;s set up a meeting and we&#39;ll talk about it&#39;.</p> <p>&quot;We are feeling very positive at the minute,&quot; he concluded.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13535https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13535Campos Racing adds Julien Falchero to 2017 driver line-upFri, 13 Jan 2017 10:58:24 GMT<p><strong>Formula Renault 2.0&nbsp;driver Julien Falchero will race for Campos Racing in GP3 in 2017.</strong></p> <p>The Frenchman competed in Formula Renault 2.0 last year for R-ace GP, finishing 13th in the final standings.</p> <p>More recently, he was part of Campos&#39; post-season testing programme at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.</p> <p>In a press release, he said&nbsp;&ldquo;This new challenge&nbsp;in GP3 Series with Campos Racing is an extraordinary opportunity.</p> <p>&quot;The tests in Abu Dhabi and the integration within the team in Valencia in Spain are a real treat for me.</p> <p>&quot;I&rsquo;m going to prepare for&nbsp;the&nbsp;season,&nbsp;and I have a great former F1 driver - Jean-Pierre Jarier - as a coach.&quot;</p> <p>Team boss Adri&aacute;n Campos spoke highly of his new signing, saying &ldquo;I&#39;m very happy to welcome Julien to our team. We really worked well together in Abu Dhabi and we were impressed by his maturity.&nbsp;I&#39;m sure we can have a good season.&rdquo;</p> <p>Falchero&#39;s team mates are yet to be decided.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13560https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13560Matt Kenseth admits team-mate Carl Edwards’ NASCAR exit was a shockThu, 12 Jan 2017 20:37:12 GMT<p><strong>Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenseth has admitted his team-mate Carl Edwards&rsquo; decision to step away from NASCAR took him by surprise.</strong></p> <p>Kenseth has won 38 races in the top-tier of NASCAR, with 614 race starts over 19 years and a Cup title victory in 2003.</p> <p>He completed tyre testing with Goodyear on Wednesday in Las Vegas and shared his thoughts on Edwards&rsquo; NASCAR exit afterwards.</p> <p>&ldquo;I didn&#39;t find out until late Sunday night, and I was probably as shocked as anybody else was,&quot; he is quoted by the NASCAR website saying.</p> <p>&ldquo;I guess the more I think about, probably the less surprised I am knowing some of the conversations we&#39;ve had in the past. He&#39;s a great teammate, and a great competitor.</p> <p>&ldquo;You hate to see him go, but on the other hand, it&#39;s what he wants to do so I applaud him for doing it.&rdquo;</p> <p>Kenseth and Edwards spent two stints as team-mates. During the Wednesday press conference, Edwards admitted Kenseth was the first competitor he talked to about his decision.&nbsp;</p> <p>Edwards will be replaced in the No.19 Toyota Camry at Joe Gibbs Racing by Xfinity champion Daniel Suarez.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13534https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13534IndyCar unveils concept designs for 2018 aerokitsThu, 12 Jan 2017 18:54:38 GMT<p><strong>The IndyCar series has unveiled a series of initial concept designs for how the aerokits may look for the 2018 season.</strong></p> <p>IndyCar&rsquo;s president of competition and operations, Jay Frye, revealed the drawings at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.</p> <p>It hints at the basic direction of next year&rsquo;s aerokits, following the news of a contract extension for chassis manufacturer Dallara.</p> <p>IndyCar says further updates will be released at the 2017 pre-season test in Pheonix from the 10-11 February.</p> <p>The goal is to have a display car made and on show for the Indianapolis 500 in May, with the aim of testing in the summer months.</p> <p style="text-align:center"><img alt="" height="600" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/IndyCar/01-12-NEW-2018-CAR-CONCEPT-SKETCHES-HIRES.jpg" width="750" /></p> <p>2017 is the third and final season of IndyCar&rsquo;s manufacturer-produced aerokits, with Honda and Chevrolet going head-to-head.</p> <p>The 2018 aerokit will be universal but there will be some development allowed in strictly controlled areas. &nbsp;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13533https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13533McLaren will launch new 2017 F1 car 'right before Spain test'Thu, 12 Jan 2017 18:44:23 GMT<p><strong>McLaren&rsquo;s executive director Zak Brown says the team has not decided on a launch date for its 2017 Formula 1 car, but it will be &ldquo;right before the Spain test&rdquo;.</strong></p> <p>Renault currently has the earliest car launch date of those confirmed with February 21, before Force India, Mercedes and Ferrari follow on successive days.</p> <p>F1 testing will kick off from the 27 February to 2 March at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with a second test from the 7-10 March.</p> <p>Spanish media reported a possible date for the McLaren launch could be the 19 February, but Brown says it has yet to be locked in.</p> <p>&ldquo;We&#39;ve just signed off on the car livery and I think the fans will be excited to find out what the car looks like, both technically and visually,&rdquo; he said at the Autosport International Show.</p> <p>&ldquo;We&#39;re working on [confirming] the launch date now. It&#39;s going to be right before the Spain test, so late February.</p> <p>&ldquo;I don&#39;t think we&#39;ve landed on a specific date yet, but we&#39;ve shown it to the shop floor, to the guys and girls at McLaren, and we&#39;re very excited for our future.&rdquo;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13532https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13532IndyCar extends Dallara chassis contact through to 2020Thu, 12 Jan 2017 18:36:51 GMT<p><strong>The IndyCar series has announced a multi-year contract extension with chassis manufacturer Dallara through to the 2020 season.</strong></p> <p>The Italian company started working with IndyCar in 1997 and confirmed a new deal at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.</p> <p>Dallara will continue to supply IndyCar with driver safety cells through to the 2020 season, with the up-coming campaign marking its 20-year anniversary in US-based single-seater racing.</p> <p>&ldquo;Dallara&#39;s continued participation in our sport provides IndyCar and our competitors a tremendous amount of confidence,&rdquo; said IndyCar president of competition and operations, Jay Frye.</p> <p>&ldquo;Dallara has been an instrumental partner in the Verizon IndyCar Series for 20 years and we are excited to extend our relationship with them.&rdquo;</p> <p>Dallara president Giampaolo Dallara added: &ldquo;The signature of this contract is a natural extension of an intensive working relationship that has been continuing since 1997.</p> <p>&ldquo;We are pleased to continue to contribute to the great success that this series deserves.&rdquo;</p> <p>The new 2017 IndyCar season begins in St/ Petersburg on the 12 March.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13531https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13531Frederic Vasseur reveals reasons behind Renault F1 departureThu, 12 Jan 2017 18:31:07 GMT<p><strong>Former Renault team principal Frederic Vasseur has explained the reasons behind his exit from the Enstone-based outfit.</strong></p> <p>His departure was announced on Wednesday, with Renault and Vasseur agreeing to part ways by &quot;mutual consent&quot;.</p> <p>He initially joined the team as racing director at the start of 2016 before moving onto the role of team principal during the season.</p> <p>Now, following his exit, Vasseur has explained he did not have the same goals as the other chiefs within the team.</p> <p>&ldquo;We did not have exactly the same idea of management,&quot; Vasseur is quoted telling <em>Motorsport Total</em>.</p> <p>&ldquo;It is difficult to lead a Formula 1 team if you do not have the same goal and do not follow the same philosophy. I tried to convince everyone of my view, but I did not succeed, so it&#39;s better to leave.</p> <p>&ldquo;When I came to this project, I thought it would be for more than just a year.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&#39;s a little frustrating that I have to leave now, but it was my decision.&rdquo;</p> <p>Despite leaving the team, he feels happy with what he achieved at Renault: &ldquo;We did a good job of reorganising, hiring new people and working at the circuit, and investing in the Enstone factory is also on the right track.</p> <p>&ldquo;But it will take several seasons to get Renault to the top.&rdquo;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13546https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13546Elfyn Evans makes WRC top flight return with DMACKWed, 11 Jan 2017 23:53:12 GMT<p><strong>Elfyn Evans will return to the top level of the World Rally Championship this year after penning a deal to race with DMACK.</strong></p> <p>Evans, 28, competed for M-Sport in 2014 and 2015, taking a best of second in the 2015 Tour de Corse, en-route to a career-high seventh in the standings.</p> <p>Evans, though, lost his seat at the end of the year and instead spent 2016 in WRC2, taking third spot, alongside a title-winning campaign in the British Rally Championship.</p> <p>Evans will pilot an M-Sport run Ford Fiesta WRC and will be nominated as the team&rsquo;s third points-scoring driver, behind S&eacute;bastien Ogier and Ott Tanak.&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m really excited to be back driving a WRC car again at an exciting period for the sport with the new generation cars &ndash; and I&rsquo;m thankful to DMACK for the opportunity,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve really enjoyed working with them over the last 12 months and being part of the development of new 2017 products.</p> <p>&ldquo;Being away from the top level for a season has been really hard, but it&rsquo;s made me more motivated and determined to make the most of this opportunity.&rdquo;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13545https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13545Andreas Mikkelsen future unclear amid WRC2 entryWed, 11 Jan 2017 23:51:13 GMT<p><strong>Andreas Mikkelsen&rsquo;s future in the World Rally Championship remains unclear after he lodged an entry into the WRC2 class of the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally.</strong></p> <p>Mikkelsen finished third across each of the past three years while competing for Volkswagen, taking three victories, including two in 2016.</p> <p>However, Mikkelsen was left without a seat when Volkswagen announced its decision to withdraw from the sport at the end of 2016.</p> <p>Mikkelsen will instead enter the curtain-raiser in a Skoda Fabia R5 for Skoda Motorsport in the secondary class.</p> <p>&ldquo;The consequence of Volkswagen withdrawing from the championship is that all the WRC seats were already taken,&rdquo; explained Mikkelsen.</p> <p>&ldquo;Therefore, my 2017 season will be all about keeping my rally-overall warm and finding a seat in the right team to be able to fight for the WRC champion title in 2018.&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t know what the upcoming season will bring yet. But of course I hope to get to drive as much as possible and we are working on a plan to do selected rallies.&rdquo;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13544https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13544Eric Camilli and Teemu Suninen get M-Sport WRC2 drivesWed, 11 Jan 2017 23:48:43 GMT<p><strong>Eric Camilli and Teemu Suninen will compete for M-Sport in WRC2 this season, the British squad has confirmed.</strong></p> <p>Camilli stepped up to WRC with M-Sport in 2016 but endured a challenging campaign and scored points in only six rallies, placing 11th&nbsp;in the final standings.</p> <p>&ldquo;The important thing for me this year is to continue to gain as much experience of as many FIA World Rally Championship events as possible,&rdquo; said Camilli.</p> <p>&ldquo;In rallying, experience is everything and it will be really important for me to continue this progression.</p> <p>Suninen, who competed in WRC2 in a Skoda Fabia R5 and finished runner-up with three victories, is hoping to go one better in 2017.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m very grateful for this opportunity and very happy to join the M-Sport team,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;ve offered me an excellent programme for the year ahead and there are some very exciting times to come.</p> <p>&ldquo;My goal for this season is to improve on last year when I finished second in the WRC 2 championship.&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;I know that it will be a big challenge, but with more experience under my belt I feel ready and in a good position.&rdquo;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13543https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13543Malcolm Wilson: M-Sport still believes in Eric CamilliWed, 11 Jan 2017 23:46:47 GMT<p><strong>M-Sport team boss Malcolm Wilson insists the organisation still retains faith in Eric Camilli, despite the Frenchman being moved to a WRC2 role this season.</strong></p> <p>Camilli, 29, graduated to the WRC full-time with M-Sport but a spate of incidents compromised his progress, and he placed only 11<sup>th</sup> in the final standings.</p> <p>With M-Sport recruiting World Champion S&eacute;bastien Ogier following Volkswagen&rsquo;s withdrawal, and re-signing Ott Tanak, Camilli has instead been moved to a WRC2 seat.</p> <p>Wilson, though, insists that M-Sport still has faith in Camilli&rsquo;s talent.</p> <p>&Eacute;ric and [co-driver] Benjamin Veillas<i> </i>might be taking a step back this year, but it by no means undermines our faith in their potential,&rdquo; Wilson stressed.&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;This year, &Eacute;ric will be able to gain experience of as many events as possible without the pressures that come from competing at the highest level.</p> <p>&ldquo;Experience counts for a lot in this game and, if he can perform as we expect, it shouldn&rsquo;t be too long before we see him back behind the wheel of a world rally car.&rdquo;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13530https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13530Ferrari working 'round the clock' to finish 2017 car - Sergio MarchionneWed, 11 Jan 2017 23:25:00 GMT<p><strong>Ferrari are working &quot;round the clock&quot; to finish their car before pre-season testing in late-February according to Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne, due to the scale of the changes for 2017.</strong></p> <p>This year sees an overhaul of the technical regulations in the hope of producing much faster cars, and unlike most previous season, there will be little to no carry across in parts from the 2016 car to the 2017 car, meaning teams are having to work almost non-stop to be ready.</p> <p>That&#39;s no different for Ferrari, according to Marchionne:&nbsp;<font><font>&quot;They&#39;re&nbsp;working round the clock,&quot; he told <em>Corriere dello Sport.&nbsp;</em>&quot;At Christmas they had just two days vacation.&quot;</font></font></p> <p><font><font>Although Marchionne says initial data suggests they&#39;re heading in the right direction, he refused to make any bold claims as he has done previously &ndash; none of which have proven accurate.</font></font></p> <p><font><font>&quot;The car is running&nbsp;well, I mean that the engine runs on the bench&nbsp;great.&nbsp;</font></font>But&nbsp;I&#39;m not&nbsp;falling for that this time,&nbsp;let&#39;s see what&nbsp;happens when&nbsp;the&nbsp;lights go out on the track.</p> <p><font><font>&quot;But the work they are doing [at the factory]&nbsp;is enormous, the engine, aerodynamics, all new rules.&quot;</font></font></p> <p><font><font>When asked if Ferrari must rely on Mercedes making a mistake, he added:</font></font>&nbsp;&quot;We are wrong&nbsp;if we think like this.&nbsp;Maybe you&nbsp;don&#39;t&nbsp;like them,&nbsp;but&nbsp;they&#39;re good.&nbsp;It all depends on us,&nbsp;we need to focus on&nbsp;what we&nbsp;need&nbsp;to do&nbsp;to&nbsp;beat them.&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13559https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13559Elliott Sadler to race for TBR at Daytona 500Wed, 11 Jan 2017 20:30:53 GMT<p><strong>Tommy Baldwin Racing has announced it will enter a car for NASCAR veteran Elliott Sadler at the 59th&nbsp;running of the Daytona 500.</strong></p> <p>Sadler has spent 16 years in the Monster Energy Nascar Cup category and will drive the No.7 Golden Corral Chevrolet at Daytona.</p> <p>He will be running double duty over the course of the weekend, competing in both the Cup and Xfinity series.</p> <p>&ldquo;This is a great opportunity for me and everyone affiliated with Tommy Baldwin Racing,&rdquo; Sadler admitted.&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;I love the Daytona 500 and to have Tommy and Golden Corral offer me this opportunity is awesome. Tommy and I have known each other a long time.&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;We actually won a qualifying race for the Daytona 500 together back in 2006. We&#39;re going to rekindle some of that magic and work our tails off to get our car in the race.&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;I know Tommy is putting a lot of effort into this and we&#39;re gonna go out and get the best result we possibly can for him and TBR&#39;s partners.&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13558https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13558Carl Edwards steps away from NASCAR ahead of 2017 seasonWed, 11 Jan 2017 20:27:29 GMT<p><strong>Carl Edwards has announced he is stepping away from NASCAR competition ahead of the 2017 Monster Energy Cup season.</strong></p> <p>The Missouri-born driver has took part in 445 races at the top-tier of NASCAR across 13 years, with 28 wins to his name.</p> <p>He has finished runner-up in the championship twice, made it to the Chase on 10 occasions and ended last year fourth in the standings.</p> <p>But he has now decided to step away from NASCAR, ahead of what would&rsquo;ve been his third season at Joe Gibbs Racing.</p> <p>Speaking during a press conference, Edwards explained he was not retiring from racing and wouldn&rsquo;t rule out making a return, but he was stepping back ahead of 2017.</p> <p>&quot;If I&#39;m going to get back in a race car, which I&#39;m not saying the R (retirement) word here &hellip; I&#39;m calling Coach (Joe) Gibbs first,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;There is no better race team. There is no faster car than a Toyota Camry. There&#39;s no better engine. There&#39;s no better crew chief than Dave Rogers. There&#39;s no better crew.&rdquo;</p> <p>Edwards will be replaced in the No.19 Toyota Camry by NASCAR Xfinity&rsquo;s reigning champion Daniel Suarez.</p> <p>&ldquo;It was just an amazing moment,&rdquo; he admitted. &ldquo;I wasn&#39;t expecting that at all.&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;I was actually already working with [XFINITY crew chief] Scott [Graves] and the amazing team that I had in 2016 in Xfinity to be ready to open 2017 the same way that we closed in &#39;16, winning races. And then this came out.&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;Very, very happy for this opportunity.&rdquo;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13529https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13529Pirelli has prepared 'more traditional' back-up compoundsWed, 11 Jan 2017 18:24:04 GMT<p><strong>Pirelli aren&#39;t taking chances during the 2017 season and have therefore prepared back-up compounds should the all-new range fail to meet the requirements of the new 2017 cars.</strong></p> <p>Although Pirelli has tested its new, larger tyres on mule cars provided by Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull, the Italian company has still had to make a guess of what to expect&nbsp;as the mule cars aren&#39;t reaching the levels of downforce expected of this year&#39;s challengers.</p> <p>The new compounds &quot;make use of entirely new materials and a completely fresh design philosophy&quot;, according to Pirelli, therefore the supplier has developed a back-up tyre for each compound using more traditional methods&nbsp;should problems arise, such as the level of downforce proving far greater than their simulations suggested.</p> <p>&quot;After a very positive testing programme with the new sizes Pirelli has decided to additionally homologate a back-up compound alongside each of the five new base compounds,&quot; Pirelli noted.&nbsp;&quot;These extra compounds are formulated using more traditional criteria compared to the new base compounds.</p> <p>&quot;The back-up compounds could be introduced later in the season to respond to any particular requirements once the real performance levels of the 2017 cars have been identified.&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13528https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13528Pirelli confirms compound choices for Bahrain and RussiaWed, 11 Jan 2017 15:13:38 GMT<p><strong>Pirelli has confirmed the tyre compounds it will make available for the third and fourth round of the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship.</strong></p> <p>Bahrain will see the medium, soft and supersoft in action, with drivers using at least one set of the medium or soft&nbsp;during the race.</p> <p>Pirelli has assigned the supersoft tyre as the Q3 qualifying tyre, meaning the top ten drivers must save a set to be used during the final part of qualifying.</p> <p>Pirelli has taken an aggressive selection for the&nbsp;fourth round in Russia, with the three softest compounds on offer; soft, supersoft and ultrasoft.</p> <p>The mandatory race sets are the soft and supersoft, with at least one set used during the race, whilst the ultrasoft has been chosen as the Q3 qualifying tyre.</p> <p>Unlike last year, Pirelli will select the quantity of sets given to each driver for the opening five races of the 2017 season. This is because the tyres are brand new and are therefore an unknown for all drivers, making it difficult to make a selection.</p> <p>Pirelli will provide seven&nbsp;sets of the softest of the three nominated compounds,&nbsp;four&nbsp;sets of the middle compound and&nbsp;two&nbsp;of the hardest compound nominated for each driver.</p> <p>The choice will revert back to the driver from the sixth round of the season, once they&#39;ve had the opportunity to get to grips with the all-new compounds.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13527https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13527Kevin Joerg to race for Trident in 2017 GP3 seasonWed, 11 Jan 2017 13:07:54 GMT<p><strong>The GP3 grid has started to take shape with the announcement of Kevin Joerg at Trident for the 2017 season.</strong></p> <p>The 21-year-old Swiss driver will remain in the GP3 series, switching from DAMS to Trident after showing flashes of speed in 2016.</p> <p>During his time with DAMS, he scored two top five finishes and five further top 10 results. He returns to Trident, a team he tested with at the end of 2015 in GP3.</p> <p>Following his stint karting, Joerg graduated to single-seaters in the Formula Abarth and Formula BMW championships, before stepping up to Formula Renault 2.0.</p> <p>He finished third in the Eurocup series in 2015, alongside finishing runner-up in the NEC championship, and then moved up to GP3. Joerg will be looking to build on the progress made during last year&rsquo;s maiden GP3 season.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&#39;m extremely satisfied to announce that I will enter the upcoming GP3 series season with the Trident team,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;Working together with the Milan-based squad, the goal is to stay among the frontrunners and collect several podium finishes.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&#39;m absolutely confident that Trident will provide me with all what it takes to reach all the goals I have set for myself. I can&#39;t wait to get back on-track with my new team.&rdquo;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13526https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13526Frederic Vasseur leaves Renault F1 team ahead of 2017 seasonWed, 11 Jan 2017 09:37:04 GMT<p><strong>The Renault Formula 1 team has announced that Frederic Vasseur has left his role as team principal with immediate effect.</strong></p> <p>Vasseur, who was previously head of junior formula team ART, joined Renault at the start of the 2016 season as the Enstone-based outfit began a major restructuring.</p> <p>Renault returned to F1 as a manufacturer outfit last year, but while things were tough on the track, Vasseur worked with Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul to implement major changes and recruit new staff.</p> <p>Vasseur was made team principal mid-way through the season, but has now left the role by &ldquo;mutual consent&rdquo;.</p> <p>It comes just a few months ahead of the 2017 F1 season kicking off in Melbourne. Abiteboul and the team&rsquo;s president, Jerome Stroll, will continue to lead the team.</p> <p>The statement from Renault said: &ldquo;After a first season spent relaunching and rebuilding its Formula 1 team, Renault Sport Racing and Frederic Vasseur have agreed by mutual consent to part company, effective as of today.</p> <p>&ldquo;Both parties remain committed to maintaining the good working relationship they have enjoyed and expect this to take a new form sometime in the future.</p> <p>&ldquo;The outlook of Renault&#39;s second season back in Formula 1, as well as the resources implemented to meet them, will be set out in detail at the presentation of the team&#39;s new race car.</p> <p>&ldquo;The Renault Sport Racing and the Formula 1 team continue to be managed by J&eacute;r&ocirc;me Stoll, its president, and Cyril Abiteboul, its managing director.&rdquo;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13525https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13525Feature: 17 to watch in '17 - Who's who?Wed, 11 Jan 2017 00:36:57 GMT<p><b>It may only be January, but the racing season will soon be upon us. With the majority of series testing through February ahead of a March kick-off, it won&rsquo;t be long until we&rsquo;re beside ourselves with more racing than you can shake a gearstick at.</b></p> <p>2017 promises to be a hugely exciting season across a number of championships, but who will be the drivers to light the year up? In this special feature, Luke Smith and Phillip Horton pick 17 drivers to watch in 2017, ranging from F1 world champions to up-and-coming juniors still plying their trade further down the ladder.</p> <div class="article-gallery"> <p><img alt="" src="http://www.grandprixtimes.com/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/lewis-hamilton.jpg" /></p> <p><b>Lewis Hamilton (GBR)</b></p> <p>Three-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton had a pretty rough time of it throughout 2016. Despite winning more races than any other driver, taking more poles and sweeping the final four races of the year, Hamilton fell five-points shy of a fourth crown to Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg. Had it not been for a string of early-season reliability dramas and, most crucially, his fiery engine blow-out in Malaysia when leading by 20 seconds, Hamilton would likely have had a fourth title. Conversely, Hamilton also skewered himself with a litany of sub-par getaways, which cost him vital places off the line. Nevertheless, he now heads into 2017 not as the underdog, but as the favourite following Rosberg&rsquo;s shock decision to retire from racing. With new regulations in play and a faster, fiercer F1 being promised, Hamilton should flourish. Hamilton smoothly adapted to regulation shifts in 2009 and 2014, so a similar approach can be expected this time around. Team-mate-to-be Valtteri Bottas will certainly pose a threat, but frankly, Hamilton is the number one driver at Brackley now. With the intra-team tension defused, we may see the Briton back at his very best this year - a prospect we should relish.</p> <p><img alt="" src="http://www.grandprixtimes.com/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/max-verstappen.jpg" /></p> <p><b>Max Verstappen (NED)</b></p> <p>A Grand Prix winner, two years of Formula 1 experience, and a legion of passionate fans behind him, and yet Max Verstappen is still just 19. Verstappen&rsquo;s ascension through the ranks has always been accelerated but this year will be when the attitudes will change. Verstappen has always exceeded expectations, but he has now reached the pinnacle, racing for a Formula 1 team which wants to compete for the title. Such goals will not perturb Verstappen, whose concoction of natural talent and the precociousness of youth has led him to this position. Verstappen&rsquo;s racecraft is sensational, while his late-season qualifying improvements against the mighty Daniel Ricciardo, after having initially been trounced over one-lap, typified his continued upward trajectory. Should Red Bull&rsquo;s RB13 be a Mercedes-beater, Verstappen will have to take the next step, and do so against the majestic Ricciardo, who is in the prime of his career. To beat Ricciardo, Verstappen will have to eke out everything, and string together an entire campaign, rather than rely on the attention-grabbing stand-out moments, and you&rsquo;d believe the Dutchman has the capability to do so. The intra-team dynamic at Red Bull will be a gripping sub-plot throughout the course of the year.&nbsp;</p> <p><img alt="" src="http://www.grandprixtimes.com/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/esteban-ocon.jpg" /></p> <p><b>Esteban Ocon (FRA)</b></p> <p>From GP3 champion to Force India via a nine-race spell with Manor, tests with Mercedes and Renault, and a stint in DTM: it was quite the 2016 for Esteban Ocon. The Frenchman was plucked from GP3 to DTM by Mercedes but his Formula 1 test role with Renault always indicated that single-seater&rsquo;s top echelon was on the horizon. Ocon impressed Mercedes during mid-season testing at Silverstone and the manufacturer swooped when Rio Haryanto&rsquo;s funding perished, placing Ocon at Manor, alongside fellow Mercedes prot&eacute;g&eacute; Pascal Wehrlein. The German gained the upper hand, ostensibly through his greater experience, but once up to pace Ocon provided glimpses of his prestigious talent. This was most prominent in Brazil, when Ocon starred in wet conditions, only dropping out of the top 10 in the final laps. Renault eyed Ocon long-term but Mercedes acted swiftly, with Ocon signed as a replacement for Nico H&uuml;lkenberg at Force India. It presents a huge opportunity for Ocon, who joins a respected midfield outfit, against a rounded driver in Sergio P&eacute;rez, the Mexican having eliminated his erratic nature to add consistency to his natural flair. Force India, though, has an unpolished diamond in the lanky Frenchman and both sides will flourish from the partnership.&nbsp;</p> <p><img alt="" src="http://www.grandprixtimes.com/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/stoffel-vandoorne.jpg" /></p> <p><b>Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL)</b></p> <p>A phenomenal GP2 champion graduating to Formula 1 with McLaren in Car #2 alongside Fernando Alonso. A decade ago it was the turn of Lewis Hamilton, this year it&rsquo;s Stoffel Vandoorne. The Belgian hotshot has had to wait longer than most for his chance &ndash; race day in Melbourne will be his 25th birthday &ndash; but this is a huge opportunity to display his talent among the sport&rsquo;s elite. Vandoorne dismantled highly-rated opposition in GP2, scoring a scarcely believable seven Feature Race wins and smashing most of the series&rsquo; records. In Super Formula he exceeded expectations, triumphing twice, and scored a point on his Formula 1 debut in Bahrain last year, despite minimal preparation. The low-maintenance Vandoorne has the ability to preserve tyres while maintaining pace in an effortlessly commanding never out-of-control driving style. Witness his GP2 race in Bahrain, when tyre wear was on a knife-edge. On lap 14 he was three-seconds clear of the chasing pack. Then he pulled the pin. By lap 21 the gap was 14.2 seconds. It was astonishing. This year he goes up against the mighty Alonso, still performing at a relentlessly high level. Vandoorne has the ability to rattle Alonso, and the talent of both will drive McLaren forwards, back towards where it belongs.&nbsp;</p> <p><img alt="" src="http://www.grandprixtimes.com/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/carlos-sains.jpg" /></p> <p><b>Carlos Sainz Jr. (ESP)</b></p> <p>Carlos Sainz Jr. nearly didn&rsquo;t get a Formula 1 drive at all back in 2015, with Max Verstappen getting the nod for a Toro Rosso seat before Sebastian Vettel&rsquo;s surprise decision to leave Red Bull for Ferrari. And yet now it seems unthinkable that the Spaniard could have some so close to being cast by the wayside. In his two seasons, he has proven himself to be one of F1&rsquo;s most talented youngsters. Despite being forced to sit in Verstappen&rsquo;s shadow during their time together at Toro Rosso, Sainz proved himself to be more than capable of taking on the Dutchman. With the intra-team tension eased following Verstappen&rsquo;s promotion to Red Bull, Sainz took the Toro Rosso by the horns to lead the team and claim some notable results despite being hamstrung by a 2015-spec Ferrari power unit, particularly later in the year. With Toro Rosso returning to current-year Renault power for 2017 and aero - a particular strength of the team under the leadership of James Key - being a key battleground this year, expect Sainz to come out fighting. If he can wipe the floor with Daniil Kvyat again, it would be a true mark of his quality.</p> <p><img alt="" src="http://www.grandprixtimes.com/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/jose-maria-lopez.jpg" /></p> <p><b>Jos&eacute; Mar&iacute;a L&oacute;pez (ARG)</b></p> <p>With three WTCC titles under his belt, Jos&eacute; Mar&iacute;a L&oacute;pez decided that enough was enough at the end of 2016: when Citro&euml;n left, he&rsquo;d be going with them. The Argentine has conquered tin-tops with such conviction that a return to single-seaters - where he cut his teeth back in GP2 10 years ago - came knocking courtesy of DS Virgin Racing (DS being a sub-brand of Citro&euml;n). L&oacute;pez made a splash on debut in Hong Kong by qualifying an excellent third, only for a suspension failure to cause him to crash out of the race. A so-so weekend in Marrakech ended on a high with a point for P10, but with the nature of Formula E cars being so alien to any other car on the planet, a period of adjustment was always likely. L&oacute;pez is poised to become the latest member of the FE/WEC double duty club in 2017, being in line for an LMP1 seat with Toyota in place of St&eacute;phane Sarrazin. With such a successful racing record, L&oacute;pez will be a key asset to his teams through 2017; seeing him continue his success from WTCC into both championships would come as little surprise.</p> <p><img alt="" src="http://www.grandprixtimes.com/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/felix-rosenqvist.jpg" /></p> <p><b>Felix Rosenqvist (SWE)</b></p> <p>There isn&rsquo;t enough space to list all of the series that Felix Rosenqvist raced in 2016 or the success he attained. The Swede made the move to Indy Lights from Formula 3 after winning the 2015 title, but didn&rsquo;t stop there. He took three victories, including a double in Toronto, before departing the series to focus on his other commitments. A stint in DTM with Mercedes was dovetailed with appearances at the Spa 24 Hours and Macau, finishing second in both events, before he committed to Formula E with Mahindra. Rosenqvist impressed on debut in Hong Kong before an error caused him to crash, ending hopes of a podium finish, but he made amends in Marrakech. Pole position was followed by a gallant drive to third, with Rosenqvist ultimately powerless to stop S&eacute;bastien Buemi and Sam Bird surging ahead. Mahindra knows it has one of the brightest racers in motorsport on its books, with a breakthrough victory for both Rosenqvist and the team surely on the cards this year. Quite what else Rosenqvist will do to keep busy remains unclear, but one would imagine he would not be satisfied with only kicking butt in one series in 2017.</p> <p><img alt="" src="http://www.grandprixtimes.com/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/josef-newgarden.jpg" /></p> <p><b>Josef Newgarden (USA)</b></p> <p>2011 Indy Lights champion Josef Newgarden was the hottest property during the 2016-2017 IndyCar off-season after enjoying back-to-back campaigns in which he took the fight to the establishment. Despite only picking up a single victory through 2016, compared to two the previous year, Newgarden was more consistent and threatening behind the wheel of the Ed Carpenter Racing #20 entry. Newgarden&rsquo;s victory at Iowa wasn&rsquo;t a victory: it was a demolition (completed, it must be added, with broken bones from his terrifying accident at Texas). His efforts did not go unnoticed, with speculation linking him to seats at both Penske and Andretti for 2017. Penske eventually won the race for his signature, opting to bump two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya in favour of Newgarden; a statement that speaks volumes about the American&rsquo;s ability. With the right car underneath him, there is no reason why Newgarden can&rsquo;t challenge for the title and take the series by storm, in much the same fashion Simon Pagenaud did after making his own move from a midfield team to the behemoth front-runner back in 2015. That said, Pagenaud&rsquo;s first season with Penske will act as a warning that there may be a period of adjustment for Newgarden this year.</p> <p><img alt="" src="http://www.grandprixtimes.com/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/charles-leclerc.jpg" /></p> <p><b>Charles Leclerc (FRA)</b></p> <p>Ferrari prot&eacute;g&eacute; Charles Leclerc fulfilled pre-season expectations in 2016 by securing the GP3 Series crown as a rookie, fending off a spirited challenge from ART team-mate Alexander Albon. Leclerc&rsquo;s assimilation with Ferrari, having joined its young driver scheme at the start of the year, led to him piloting the SF16-H in-season, along with his practice outings in his guise as Haas&rsquo; development driver. Leclerc&rsquo;s Formula 1 runs during a busy stretch of four GP3 rounds in five weekends compromised his results in the junior category, but he regrouped and sagely focused on his duties with ART, an impressively mature approach for someone who, at the time, was touted for a 2017 F1 seat. Haas ultimately opted for experience, but Leclerc will remain on its radar as he graduates to the GP2 Series this season. Leclerc will compete for Prema, which emerged as the pace-setter in 2016, taking nine wins and the Teams&rsquo; title as Pierre Gasly and Antonio Giovinazzi finished 1-2 in the standings. Leclerc was often supreme on Saturdays but wobbly on Sundays in GP3, a situation he will need to rectify in GP2, while he will also face an intra-team challenge from Antonio Fuoco, who will regard GP2 as a fresh start after flattering to deceive in GP3 and F3. The top three in the standings should be within reach for Leclerc this year.&nbsp;</p> <p><img alt="" src="http://www.grandprixtimes.com/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/louis-deletraz.jpg" /></p> <p><b>Louis Del&eacute;traz (SUI)</b></p> <p>Del&eacute;traz, son of hapless backmarker Jean-Denis, is creeping onto Formula 1&rsquo;s radar as he prepares to compete full-time in GP2 this year. Del&eacute;traz&rsquo;s success in junior Formula Renault categories, including the 2015 2.0 NEC cup, led to him joining Renault&rsquo;s junior scheme, revived upon the manufacturer&rsquo;s return to Formula 1. Quirkily, Del&eacute;traz moved into the rebranded Formula V8 3.5 Series in 2016, despite the category losing Renault&rsquo;s backing. Del&eacute;traz immediately impressed, winning at Arag&oacute;n, and was a season-long title contender despite winning only once more. Del&eacute;traz ultimately missed out to the experienced journeyman Tom Dillmann, but his performances had already caught the eye of GP2 teams. Del&eacute;traz made his debut in the 2016 finale with Carlin and this year will move up fill-time into the category with Racing Engineering, which has been a front-running team for the best part of a decade, and finished runner-up in the Teams&rsquo; standings in 2015 and 2016. The Andalusian outfit also guided Giorgio Pantano (in 2008) and Fabio Leimer (in 2013) to the Drivers&rsquo; crown. Del&eacute;traz has time on his side to develop, but he has already demonstrated that he has a lengthy career ahead as a professional racer, whether in single-seaters or sportscars.</p> <p><img alt="" src="http://www.grandprixtimes.com/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/george-russell.jpg" /></p> <p><b>George Russell (GBR)</b></p> <p>Russell&rsquo;s talents first came to the fore in single-seaters when he claimed the 2014 BRDC Formula 4 championship, and impressed on his first weekend in European Formula 3 when he triumphed in only his second start with Carlin. The remainder of the year was a sterner test, but sixth overall reflected an encouraging campaign. Russell stayed in F3 in 2016 with the revamped Hitech outfit and was regularly the biggest challenger to the dominant Prema operation. Russell won twice, with his most impressive form coming at the demanding Pau and Spa-Francorchamps circuits, to finish third in the standings, as the highest non-Prema racer. Russell stepped up a notch at the Macau Grand Prix and romped to pole by 0.37s, before finishing seventh in the main race. Russell&rsquo;s achievements caught the attention of Mercedes and he was a guest of the team at last year&rsquo;s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, watching the race from the garage, amid a mooted role in its junior team. Russell is poised to compete in GP3 with the supreme ART squad this year; he and probable team-mate, Renault-backed youngster Jack Aitken, will be the favourites for the crown. &nbsp;</p> <p><img alt="" src="http://www.grandprixtimes.com/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/mick-schumacher.jpg" /></p> <p><b>Mick Schumacher (DEU)</b></p> <p>Mick Schumacher will always be inexorably compared to his father, seven-times Formula 1 champion Michael, and such an association has its advantages and its perils. However, irrespective of the achievements of Michael, Mick is emerging as a rising talent in his own right. Schumacher&rsquo;s second season in ADAC Formula 4 netted him second in the standings, a position he matched in Italian Formula 4, winning 10 races from 42 starts across both categories. Perhaps more impressive was his charge from the back of the grid to second in the Monza finale, carving his way through the pack with assurance. Schumacher, currently competing in the Asian-based winter MRF Challenge, will move into European Formula 3 with Prema this year. The Italian outfit has a dominant record in the category, having provided the Drivers&rsquo; champion on each occasion since the series&rsquo; rebranding in 2012, most recently Lance Stroll, now in Formula 1 with Williams. This year&rsquo;s Formula 3 line-up is already burgeoning with talent, and Schumacher will face an intra-team threat from the rapid Callum Ilott, so expectations should not be unnecessarily lofty. A handful of podiums, and a comfortable top 10 classification in the standings, would represent a competent season. &nbsp;</p> <p><img alt="" src="http://www.grandprixtimes.com/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/lando-norris.jpg" /></p> <p><b>Lando Norris (GBR)</b></p> <p>With Jenson Button having exited, and Lewis Hamilton into his thirties, Britain will soon be eyeing a new Formula 1 star. The diminutive well-financed Norris could be the answer. The Bristolian, 17, will graduate to European Formula 3 with Carlin this year after an impressive 2016 made the world sit up and take note. Norris, the 2015 MSA Formula champion, began his year with a title in the Toyota Racing Series and won both the Eurocup and NEC championships in Formula Renault 2.0. Norris also debuted in European Formula 3 at Hockenheim, catching the eye with his pace, and charged from 26th to 11th on his first appearance at the prestigious Macau Grand Prix. Carlin endured a difficult year in Formula 3, with Prema having dominated the series and the likes of Hitech and Van Amersfoort also taking wins, but with Norris at the wheel, the team will be confident of revitalising its prospects. Norris, meanwhile, will receive a private Formula 1 test with McLaren courtesy of his BRDC Autosport award at the end of last year; if he continues on his current path, it will be far from his last.&nbsp;</p> <p><img alt="" src="http://www.grandprixtimes.com/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/ott-tanak.jpg" /></p> <p><b>Ott T&auml;nak (EST)</b></p> <p>T&auml;nak&rsquo;s potential has been long-established, and he was set to enter 2017 as M-Sport&rsquo;s leading driver under revised regulations, having hailed the squad&rsquo;s new Fiesta RS during testing. Then Volkswagen dropped the bombshell that, after four dominant years, it would be quitting the sport. S&eacute;bastien Ogier, a free agent, wrapped up a deal with M-Sport, meaning that T&auml;nak will go up against the four-time World Champion in the same machinery. T&auml;nak&rsquo;s path to this point hasn&rsquo;t been straightforward; he received his chance with M-Sport in 2012 but an array of incidents meant he was dropped at the end of the campaign, and spent 2013 in his native Estonia. T&auml;nak regrouped and for 2015 made a full-time return with the same outfit, though gained most attention for his astonishing escape from a sinking car after plunging into a Mexican reservoir. 2016, though, was much stronger as he switched to the DMACK operation, denied victory in Poland only by a late, heart-breaking puncture, and rounded out the year with second in Britain. His previous experience with M-Sport should stand him in good stead, and if he can string together the peaks of his performances, he has the ability to rattle Ogier.&nbsp;</p> <p><img alt="" src="http://www.grandprixtimes.com/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/kris-meeke.jpg" /></p> <p><b>Kris Meeke (GBR)</b></p> <p>Six years ago when he was still fighting to establish himself on the global rallyinghttps://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13542https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13542Mads Østberg to make WRC return in SwedenTue, 10 Jan 2017 23:43:30 GMT<p><strong>Mads &Oslash;stberg will return to the WRC for the second round of the campaign in Sweden, after being left without a seat for the opening rally in Monte Carlo.</strong></p> <p>&Oslash;stberg, winner of the Portuguese Rally in 2012, has started over 100 rounds in the championship, most notably for Citroen and M-Sport.</p> <p>However, M-Sport has signed S&eacute;bastien Ogier and Ott Tanak to spearhead its charge in the category this season, leaving &Oslash;stberg on the side lines.</p> <p>&Oslash;stberg will instead return to action in Sweden, where he has taken five podiums across the last six years, in an independent M-Sport Ford Fiesta.</p> <p>The Norwegian is set to partner Martin Prokop for the bulk of the 2017 campaign.&nbsp;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13541https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13541Jari-Matti Latvala bags seat with returning Toyota squad Tue, 10 Jan 2017 23:33:08 GMT<p><strong>Volkswagen refugee Jari-Matti Latvala will spearhead Toyota&rsquo;s return to the WRC after signing a deal with the Japanese manufacturer.</strong></p> <p>Latvala has taken 16 wins across a decade-long career in the sport&rsquo;s top echelon, and finished runner-up in the standings in 2010, 2014 and 2015.</p> <p>Latvala lost his drive when Volkswagen withdrew from the championship but will now link up with Juho Hanninen to pilot the Yaris.</p> <p>&ldquo;I started my rally career in a Toyota Corolla GT back in 2001 and my first competitive outing in a World Rally Car was behind the wheel of a Corolla WRC in 2003 in Estonia,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;So in many ways, it feels like I&rsquo;m coming home! I&rsquo;m really happy to join Toyota from the very start and lead this new adventure with them.&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;I feel lucky to be part of this story and I hope we will amass a lot of victories in it.&rdquo;</p> <p>Toyota has not competed as a full-scale manufacturer in the WRC since 1999.&nbsp;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13524https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13524Understanding how 2017 tyres will respond a 'huge challenge' - McLarenTue, 10 Jan 2017 19:16:14 GMT<p><strong>Understanding how Pirelli&#39;s 2017 tyres will respond has been a &quot;huge challenge&quot; according to McLaren technical chief Tim Goss.</strong></p> <p>Although Pirelli have&nbsp;conducted thousands of kilometres in testing and provided all teams with equal data, Goss says McLaren are still working out what to expect, but believes they&#39;re getting there and is looking forward to pre-season testing to confirm their expectations.</p> <p>Pirelli&#39;s new tyres are wider and are expected to last longer, allowing drivers to push at the limit for the entire race. However Pirelli has had to rely on test data from mule cars provided by Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull and that, according to Goss, creates an extra challenge when trying to understand the data provided by Pirelli.</p> <p>&quot;Understanding what the tyres are actually going to do has been a huge challenge,&quot; he told the McLaren website. &quot;Pirelli ran a very intensive test programme during 2016 to develop the new tyres, with the support of three teams.</p> <p>&quot;They got lots of mileage under their belts throughout 2016, and all that data has been provided to all the other teams. But, from all of that testing, trying to piece together what we think the tyres are going to do in terms of performance, degradation, thermal stability etc, that&#39;s still quite challenging.</p> <p>&quot;And there&#39;s a couple of reasons for that: even nowadays, it&#39;s still quite difficult to understand tyre behaviour &ndash;&nbsp;even if you go track-testing. Additionally, the 2016 mule cars won&#39;t behave in the same way as the 2017 cars &ndash;&nbsp;so what we&#39;re trying to do is identify which areas of performance are attached to the tyre and which to the mule car. That&#39;s a major challenge.&quot;</p> <p>No team will know if they&#39;ve got their calculations correct until pre-season testing, and that&#39;s when the learning begins according to Goss.</p> <p>&quot;We&#39;re pretty close to knowing what we&#39;re going to get from the tyres, but really understanding how they&#39;ll sync with the new regulations will be quite a challenge. In pre-season testing, we will learn a lot.&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13523https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13523Mercedes confirms Paddy Lowe's departure with immediate effectTue, 10 Jan 2017 17:17:45 GMT<p><strong>The Mercedes F1 team has confirmed that technical chief Paddy Lowe has left the team with immediate effect and will now begin a period of gardening leave.</strong></p> <p>Lowe&#39;s future at Mercedes has been the subject of much speculation over recent months, but the team have refused to comment on his position until Tuesday&#39;s announcement confirming his sudden departure.</p> <p>Whilst a statement from the team confirms he will now undertake a &quot;period of garden&nbsp;leave&quot;, it&#39;s expected he will join the Williams team before the start of the new season as part of a deal to secure Valtteri Bottas as Nico Rosberg&#39;s replacement.</p> <p>&quot;I have had a fantastically successful and enjoyable three and a half years at Mercedes working with an incredible team of people,&quot; commented Lowe.</p> <p>&quot;I am now looking forward to a new challenge and wish everyone well at Mercedes.&quot;</p> <p>Head of Mercedes-Benz motorsport Toto Wolff thanked Lowe for his time at Mercedes and insists the team have the right people in place to fill the void.</p> <p>&quot;Paddy has played an important part in our success during the past three and a half years and we thank him for his contribution to this significant chapter in Mercedes&rsquo; motorsport history.</p> <p>&quot;Success in Formula 1 is not about single individuals but about the strength in depth and technical capability of an organisation.</p> <p>&quot;We have the talent in place to continue our success of recent years and we plan to build upon it in 2017 and beyond.&quot;</p> <p>The statement adds that &quot;in the short term&quot; the &quot;technical organisation will continue to operate under the proven and established leadership of our senior directors Aldo Costa (Engineering Director), Mark Ellis (Performance Director), Rob Thomas (Chief Operating Officer) and Geoff Willis (Technology Director).&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13522https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13522Nico Hulkenberg convinced switching to Renault is the right stepTue, 10 Jan 2017 16:21:22 GMT<p><strong>Nico Hulkenberg says he is convinced that his decision to switch from Force India to Renault for the 2017 season is a step in the right direction and will eventually pay off.</strong></p> <p>The German has taken a risk switching from a team which finished fourth in the standings behind only Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari, to join Renault which scored just eight points &ndash; 165 less than Force India &ndash; and finished ninth behind newcomers Haas.</p> <p>However the Renault project is expected to make massive gains in 2017 as it completes its rebuilding programme.</p> <p>Hulkenberg compared the switch to that of a new girlfriend following a long marriage and insists the move will be for the better.</p> <p>&quot;After my long &#39;marriage&#39; with Force India I felt I needed a new girlfriend! Jokes aside, I am deeply grateful to Force India and left on an absolute high note,&quot; he told the official Formula 1 website.</p> <p>&quot;We had the most successful year in the history of Force India: P4 in the constructors&#39; championship. That almost felt like dreaming the impossible dream &ndash; and the dream came true! Nevertheless, I am convinced that switching to a works team is the right step for me to achieve new successes. Both Renault and myself are challengers with good potential.&quot;</p> <p>The German driver insists having manufacturer support is key to challenging for the championship as smaller teams will never have the power and budget to race at the very front.</p> <p>&quot;At Force India we were &#39;best of the rest&#39; behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. But then again, we didn&#39;t have the prerequisites and sheer power of manufacturers, who enter the competition under completely different conditions.</p> <p>&quot;At Force India we turned a little into a lot. At Renault the next few years will be about turning a participant into a real contender &ndash; one that makes use of the advantages of a manufacturer in the best way possible to achieve the racing success of the past. And believe me, we will!&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13521https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13521Reports: Paddy Lowe leaves Mercedes; team gives no commentTue, 10 Jan 2017 11:46:01 GMT<p><b>Mercedes Formula 1 technical chief Paddy Lowe has left the team ahead of an impending move to Williams, according to reports circulating on Tuesday morning.</b></p> <p><em>Sky Sports</em>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<em>motorsport.com</em>&nbsp;both reported that Lowe has officially left Mercedes&nbsp;after three-and-a-half years at Brackley, ending a successful period with the team that has yielded three drivers&#39; and constructors&#39; championships.</p> <p>Lowe has been linked with a move to Williams as part of the deal that will see Valtteri Bottas leave the British team and join Mercedes as Nico Rosberg&#39;s replacement for the 2017 season. Lowe would join Williams without any period of gardening leave.</p> <p>When asked for comment on the reports, a Mercedes spokesman said: &quot;We cannot make any comment at this stage.&quot;</p> <p>Lowe started his F1 career with Williams back in 1987 as head of electronics, before moving to McLaren in 1993. After 20 years at Woking, Lowe was drafted in by Mercedes as part of its rebuilt F1 project, taking up the role of executive director (technical) as part of the team&#39;s management triumvirate featuring Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda.</p> <p>Williams has recently parted company with chief technical officer Pat Symonds, who left the team on December 31 upon the expiration of his contract.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13557https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13557Four NASCAR drivers to take part in tyre testMon, 09 Jan 2017 20:20:22 GMT<p><strong>The start of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup season is closing in, with four drivers returning to action as part of a tyre test.</strong></p> <p>Chip Ganassi&rsquo;s Jamie McMurray, Hendrick Motorsports&rsquo; Chase Elliott, Team Penske&rsquo;s Joey Logano and Joe Gibbs Racing&rsquo;s Matt Kenseth will take part in the Goodyear test.</p> <p>The two-day event takes place from the 10-11 January at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Nevada.</p> <p>Kenseth will be the first driver to take to the track at the wheel of the new Toyota Camry NASCAR machine, which will debut at the test.</p> <p>It will be useful preparation for the new season and, in particular, the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas in March.</p> <p>There are seven tyre tests scheduled to take place throughout the season, with other locations including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Kentucky Speedway.</p> <p>The first NASCAR test open to all, but limited to one team per organisation, takes place at the Phoenix International Raceway from the 31 January to 1 February.&nbsp;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13556https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13556Chevrolet to run new race car in 2018 NASCAR seasonMon, 09 Jan 2017 20:10:12 GMT<p><strong>Chevrolet has revealed that it will cease production of the SS model at the end of 2017, meaning it will have a new NASCAR racing machine in 2018.</strong></p> <p>Toyota unveiled a new Camry for the 2017 NASCAR season on Monday, to reflect the new road-going vehicle hitting showrooms later in the year.</p> <p>Chevrolet will do the same thing for the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series campaign, although no timetable or details were revealed.</p> <p>&ldquo;It was already known that the Chevrolet SS was going to be discontinued in 2017,&quot; Campbell is quoted saying by the NASCAR website, in a statement provided by Team Chevy.&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;That information was originally announced last summer. As you know, we don&#39;t talk about future projects. We&#39;ll make any announcement regarding our next Cup entry at the appropriate time.&rdquo;</p> <p>The SS succeeded the Impala when it arrived in the top-tier NASCAR series in 2013.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13555https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13555Toyota reveals new Camry for 2017 NASCAR seasonMon, 09 Jan 2017 19:58:06 GMT<p><strong>Toyota has unveiled the new Camry that will be raced by teams in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series in 2017.</strong></p> <p>It was revealed on Monday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, showing off a new look for the Camry.</p> <p>The redesign by Toyota is to reflect the new Camry that will arrive on showrooms in the USA later in the year.</p> <p>Since the Japanese manufacturer last made significant changes to its car, it has won one championship, 30 races and had 10 Chase appearances in total.</p> <p>In 2016 teams running Toyota&rsquo;s NASCAR machines took 16 victories in total, the most in a season since the manufacturer&rsquo;s debut in the series in 2007.</p> <p>Toyota provides support to Joe Gibbs Racing, Furniture Row Racing and BK Racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup as well as teams in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck championships.</p> <p>&quot;As soon as they unveiled the drawings (of the 2018 car) to us, we looked and said, &lsquo;This is such a radical design, that we really need to figure out a way to get it on the racetrack as soon as possible,&rsquo;&quot;&nbsp;said Ed Laukes, vice president of integrated marketing for Toyota Motor Sales.</p> <p>&quot;Rather than wait until the year after it went on sale.&quot;</p> <p><img alt="" src="/admin/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Nascar/2018camry_viewfront.jpg" width="100%"/></p> <p><img alt="" src="/admin/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Nascar/2018camry_sideview.jpg" width="100%"/></p> <p><img alt="" src="/admin/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Nascar/2018camry_rearquarterpanel.jpg" width="100%"/></p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13520https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13520Rebellion completes line-up with David Heinemeier Hansson and Julien CanalMon, 09 Jan 2017 18:16:20 GMT<p><strong>Rebellion Racing has confirmed that David Heinemeier Hansson and Julien Canal will complete its&nbsp;2017 FIA World Endurance Championship line-up.</strong></p> <p>The Anglo-Swiss team <a href="http://www.grandprixtimes.com/news/id/13472">announced last month four of its six drivers</a> in Nicolas Prost, Mathias Beche, Nelson Piquet Jr and Bruno Senna.</p> <p>It has now confirmed that&nbsp;Heinemeier Hansson will join Beche and Piquet in the No. 13 Oreca 07 Gibson, whilst&nbsp;Canal will join Prost and Senna in the No. 31 car.</p> <p>Heinemeier Hansson makes a return to the LMP2 class having spent last year racing for Abu Dhabi Proton Racing in the GTE-Am class where he finished runner-up and therefore fulfills WEC&#39;s&nbsp;Bronze/Silver-driver requirement for the LMP2 class.</p> <p>&quot;Since I started racing at a top level, Rebellion Racing has stood at the pinnacle of the privateer tradition with pace, style, and a determination to see things through,&quot; said the Danish driver.</p> <p>&quot;I couldn&rsquo;t wish for a better team to begin my fifth full season in the FIA WEC and my sixth crack at the 24 hours of Le Mans.</p> <p>&quot;The competition is tougher than ever in LMP2, the cars are more exciting than ever, and together we will be ready as a team.&quot;</p> <p>Canal also qualifies having claimed the LMP2 championship in 2015 before enjoying a one-year stint with&nbsp;Greaves Motorsport in the European Le Mans series.</p> <p>&quot;After winning the FIA WEC LMP2 [championship] in 2015, my desire to return to this championship was very high and I wanted to come back with a strong team, a team with the will to win and positive vibe,&quot; added the Frenchman.</p> <p>&quot;I cannot wait to drive the new Oreca 07 LMP2 car. I know Bruno Senna, we get on very well, and with Nico our friendly relationship goes back for many years, I&rsquo;m looking forward to sharing this car with them both.&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13519https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13519Ex-Haas F1 driver Esteban Gutierrez to make Formula E debut in 2017Mon, 09 Jan 2017 17:01:50 GMT<p><strong>Former Haas F1 driver Esteban Gutierrez has confirmed he will make his debut in the all-electric Formula E series in 2017.</strong></p> <p>Following two seasons at Sauber, Gutierrez was a Ferrari F1 test driver before returning to an F1 race seat in 2016 with Haas.</p> <p>However, he failed to score a point and lost his drive to Kevin Magnussen for the up-coming F1 season.</p> <p>Gutierrez announced at a press conference in Mexico City he will make his Formula E debut this year, contesting selected rounds.</p> <p>He is analysing his options for a full-time Formula E switch in the 2017/2018 season, the fourth in the electric championship&rsquo;s history, and has also become an official FE ambassador.</p> <p>He will compete at the Mexico City ePrix and also, according to the Formula E website, the inaugural New York ePrix with more details to be confirmed in the coming weeks.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">NEWS - <a href="https://twitter.com/EstebanGtz">@EstebanGtz</a> joins <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FormulaE?src=hash">#FormulaE</a> for select number of races, including <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MexicoCityePrix?src=hash">#MexicoCityePrix</a> and analysing options for seat in 2017/18 season <a href="https://t.co/va7mNHSXDc">pic.twitter.com/va7mNHSXDc</a></p> &mdash; FIA Formula E (@FIAformulaE) <a href="https://twitter.com/FIAformulaE/status/818496888852856837">January 9, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <p>The switch to Formula E comes after he was unable to secure a spot on the F1 grid for 2017.</p> <p>It is unclear which Formula E team he will drive for this season. However, it is likely to be in place of a driver unable to compete due to a date clash with Formula E.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13518https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13518Video: A bored Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen count down the days...Mon, 09 Jan 2017 16:03:09 GMT<blockquote class="twitter-video" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">When the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/F1?src=hash">#F1</a> season is still 10 weeks away... 😣<br /> Longing for the new season with <a href="https://twitter.com/danielricciardo">@DanielRicciardo</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/Max33Verstappen">@Max33Verstappen</a>!🏁 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BoredDrivers?src=hash">#BoredDrivers</a> <a href="https://t.co/ZAF7G5Niqy">pic.twitter.com/ZAF7G5Niqy</a></p> &mdash; Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) <a href="https://twitter.com/redbullracing/status/818467863329587200">January 9, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <p><strong>The off-season may come as a welcome break to some, but Red Bull&#39;s Daniel Ricciardo are Max Verstappen are counting down the days to the season opening Australian Grand Prix, and are having to find other ways to fill their time between now and then!</strong></p> <p>That includes playing Pokemon Go!, stacking cards, reading David Coulthard&#39;s autobiography and one-man fussball. Fun times.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13517https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13517Mika Hakkinen can imagine Valtteri Bottas winning championship with MercedesMon, 09 Jan 2017 00:56:08 GMT<p><strong>Two-time champion Mika Hakkinen says he &quot;could imagine&quot; Valtteri Bottas winning the championship with Mercedes, if the deal goes ahead as is widely expected.</strong></p> <p>The Finnish driver is poised to move from Williams to the championship winning team this year, following Nico Rosberg&#39;s shock decision to retire at the end of the 2016 season, having won the title.</p> <p>Hakkinen, who knows Bottas well having been part of his management team, reckons he is good enough to challenge for and win the title, and says the interest from Mercedes will be a welcome confidence boost.</p> <p>&quot;The situation could not be better for a driver when a team wants you,&quot;&nbsp;Hakkinen told Finland&#39;s&nbsp;<em>MTV3, </em>adding: &quot;Especially if it&rsquo;s a team that has dominated Formula 1 such as Mercedes, it&#39;s a dream situation.</p> <p>&quot;I can imagine Bottas winning the championship. When you get to the team which is on top, and which is able to win races and championships, then it&#39;s up to you to develop, to take those wins and eventually the championship.&quot;</p> <p>Although Mercedes has yet to announce who will partner Lewis Hamilton this year, it&#39;s known Felipe Massa has agreed to delay his retirement by at least a year to fill the vacancy left by Bottas alongside rookie Lance Stroll at Williams. An announcement is expected later this month.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13516https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13516Bono Huis wins first ever Formula E Vegas eRace and $200,000Sun, 08 Jan 2017 12:18:44 GMT<p><strong>Faraday Future Dragon Racing sim racer Bono Huis has claimed the first ever Visa Vegas eRace victory and with it, walks away with eSport&#39;s racing&#39;s largest ever prize fund of $200,000 as well as an additional $25,000 for pole position.</strong></p> <p>The event took place at the Venetian Hotel in front of a packed audience at the 50th edition of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).</p> <p>Amongst those in attendance were FIA president Jean Todt and series CEO Alejando Agag,</p> <p>&quot;This first eRace in Las Vegas was a great success,&quot; commented Agag.&nbsp;&quot;It&rsquo;s exciting to have brought Formula E into the inner sanctum of CES - the biggest and most influential technology show in the world.</p> <p>&quot;I think this can be the first in a big future for Formula E in eSports racing. We will continue to pursue new and innovative ways to improve our presence in this fast growing landscape, while maintaining fan engagement at the forefront of all our initiatives.&quot;</p> <p>Huis, who topped every session throughout the event, made a clean getaway from the line and held on to his lead throughout the first stint. Following the first round of pitstops, the Dutch driver dropped to second place behind Olli Pahkala of Mahindra Racing.</p> <p>Pahkala went on to cross the finish line first ahead of Huis, but was later handed a 12-second time penalty for&nbsp;having gained an unfair performance advantage caused by a software issue, allowing him to use too much FanBoost.</p> <p>Huis therefore claimed the victory ahead of Formula E driver Felix&nbsp;Rosenqvist.</p> <p>The top ten also included a number of actual Formula E drivers including: Jose Maria Lopez (DS Virgin Racing), Sam Bird (DS Virgin Racing), Daniel Abt (ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport) and Nelson Piquet Jr. (NextEV NIO).</p> <p>David Greco (Renault e.dams) crossed the line in 15th place, but picked up fastest lap and $10,000 in the process.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13554https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13554Circle Sport and TMG merge for 2017 NASCAR seasonSat, 07 Jan 2017 19:20:05 GMT<p><strong>Joe Falk&rsquo;s Circle Sport operation has merged with Curtis Key Sr&rsquo;s The Motorsports Group for the 2017 NASCAR season.</strong></p> <p>The merged team will field a single entry in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series in 2017, with the driver of the No.33 Chevrolet to be confirmed in the coming weeks.</p> <p>It will compete in the entire Cup season. Ty Dillon and Michael McDowell drove for Circle Sport last year, while Gray Gaulding and Josh Wise split running in The Motorsports Group&rsquo;s entry.</p> <p>Falk will run the team, while Key Sr has obtained a percentage of Circle Sport NASCAR Charter in the deal.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&#39;s great to join forces with Curtis Key, I&#39;ve known him for a very long time and know we share the same feelings about racing,&rdquo; Falk said on the news.</p> <p>The CS/TMG effort will be run out of The Motorsports Group&rsquo;s facility in Mooresville, North Carolina.&nbsp;</p> <p>Veteran crew chief Pat Tryson has returned to TMG, having previously been part of the team in 2015 for its transition from the Xfinity series to the Cup category.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13515https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13515Pol Espargaro excited to show what KTM can do in debut seasonSat, 07 Jan 2017 12:31:49 GMT<p><strong>Pol Espargaro is excited to show what KTM can do in its debut MotoGP season, but admits it will be a year of learning for them both.</strong></p> <p>The Spaniard has moved from the Yamaha Tech3 team to race for the KTM factory team and although it lacks experience, the company overall is very successful in what it does and Espargaro is therefore confident heading into 2017.</p> <p>&quot;KTM have big ideas,&quot; he told the official MotoGP website.&nbsp;&quot;Where they go, they win. So they&rsquo;re confident of their potential, but it&rsquo;s still a very young project.</p> <p>&quot;We need experience. But I&rsquo;m quite positive. From the first race we need to keep improving, until the last one. We&rsquo;re here to try, and show that KTM can do it.&quot;</p> <p>KTM is trying a number of developments which haven&#39;t been seen in MotoGP before and although Espargaro admits it&#39;s a bit of a concern, he says they have to try these things if they&#39;re to succeed.</p> <p>&quot;We&rsquo;re using different front forks that&nbsp;no one is using &ndash; I don&rsquo;t know if that will be a problem or an advantage, but it&rsquo;s certainly different.</p> <p>&quot;The tubular chassis is the most worrying thing &ndash; not because it&rsquo;s bad; because it&rsquo;s new. Nobody has tried it. KTM uses it everywhere else they race &ndash; but it&rsquo;s really different to what MotoGP is used to. So we&rsquo;re going to try it!&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13514https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13514Some corners will no longer be considered corners in 2017 - McLarenSat, 07 Jan 2017 11:16:22 GMT<p><strong>McLaren technical director Tim Goss says some corners will no longer be considered corners by the engineers, as drivers won&#39;t need to lift off the throttle in the 2017 cars, like they would have had to in previous seasons.</strong></p> <p>The new breed of cars will have greater mechanical grip from the wider Pirelli tyres, whilst a larger diffuser and larger wings will increase downforce to the extent that cars will be able to take some corners flat as if they were straight.</p> <p>&quot;One knock-on from that [the new regulations]&nbsp;is that we&rsquo;ll no longer classify&nbsp;some corners as &lsquo;corners&rsquo;,&quot; said Goss.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;What we mean by that is that engineers define a corner as a point on the track where the driver has to lift and essentially drive and handle the car through it; if he&rsquo;s going round a bend, and his foot is flat to the floor on the accelerator, we class that as a straight.</p> <p>&quot;As the new cars will be going faster, some of 2016&rsquo;s &lsquo;corners&rsquo; will be classified as &lsquo;straights&rsquo;. But because they&rsquo;ll be going through them faster, they&rsquo;ll be subjected to more g-forces &ndash; and that&rsquo;s still tiring on the body.&quot;</p> <p>Although there will be less corners for the drivers to navigate, their workload will still increase, particularly the strain on their body from the increased g-forces which are expected to push a driver to their absolute limit.</p> <p>&quot;These new cars will definitely look different, and that was always one of the objectives of the rule-changes. The aim was to make the cars look more aggressive; to make them faster, so that F1 was very much at the pinnacle of motorsport in terms of outright speed, and to make them more difficult to drive,&quot; explained Goss.</p> <p>&quot;By that, we don&rsquo;t mean that they&rsquo;re more of a handful for the drivers, but that they&rsquo;re more physically demanding for them, so that they get out of the car having had to work hard &ndash; like they did in years past.&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13563https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13563Angelelli to retire from racing after Rolex 24Fri, 06 Jan 2017 21:51:15 GMT<p><strong>Veteran sportscar racer Max Angelelli has announced that he will retire from racing following the Rolex 24 at Daytona at the end of the month. Angelelli, 50, won the Rolex 24 back in 2005 for SunTrust Racing, and is set to take part in his final endurance round at Daytona on January 28-29 with Wayne Taylor Racing.</strong></p> <p>&ldquo;I wanted to do it earlier,&rdquo; Angelelli told <em>Sportscar365</em>. &ldquo;Wayne convinced me to do Daytona for the very last time because he knows me very well and he knows how much I&rsquo;m attached to Daytona as a race, as a track, as everything.</p> <p>&ldquo;This is where everything started and this is where everything will end for me as a driver. I made my name here, starting in Daytona, and now I&rsquo;m going to greet the people and say goodbye in Daytona. I think it&rsquo;s good. I thank Wayne for pushing me to do Daytona one more time.&rdquo;</p> <p>Angelelli has a shot at bowing out with a second Daytona victory, forming part of the Wayne Taylor Racing line-up in the new Cadillac DPi alongside Jeff Gordon, Jordan Taylor and Ricky Taylor.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13508https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13508Silverstone considering pulling out of hosting British Grand Prix after 2019Fri, 06 Jan 2017 19:59:45 GMT<p><strong>The British Grand Prix could fall off the Formula 1 calendar after 2019 despite holding a contract with the Silverstone circuit to host the race until 2026, as current organisers the BRDC (British Race Drivers&#39; Club) are considering pulling out of the deal.</strong></p> <p>A letter written by BRDC chairman John Grant and distributed to all members of the club, says the possibility of &#39;pulling the plug&#39; on the race must be considered as it fails to turn a profit and is damaging&nbsp;the future of the circuit.</p> <p>Although the race is the most widely attended on the calendar &ndash; attracting 140,000 fans on race day alone &ndash; it doesn&#39;t make the circuit money as the cost of hosting it is so high, therefore those losses have to be covered by other events.</p> <p>Grant says the threat of a &quot;bad year&quot; could do serious damage to the circuit&#39;s finances and therefore activating a break clause in the current deal might be the only way to secure its future.</p> <p>&quot;It is widely recognised that no European circuit makes money from running a Grand Prix,&quot; he wrote in the letter seen by <em><a href="http://www.itv.com/news/2017-01-05/future-of-british-grand-prix-at-silverstone-at-risk-over-potentially-ruinous-costs/">ITV News</a></em>.&nbsp;&quot;We believe Silverstone does better than most, regularly attracting a large and enthusiastic crowd and putting on as good a show as we are allowed to do.</p> <p>&quot;Even in a good year, the BGP (British Grand Prix) does not generate enough cash to cover its share of the site overheads, our major concern has always been the risk of a bad year.</p> <p>&quot;The board is considering whether we should exercise the break clause in the BGP contract at the end of 2019. This is not a simple decision and we will consider fully the implications before coming to a conclusion by mid-year [2017].&quot;</p> <p>Currently there are no other UK based circuits that could step in and take on the race should the BRDC go ahead with it&#39;s&nbsp;threat, which would leave the UK without an F1 race for the first time since the championship was formed in 1950.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13513https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13513Renault the latest team to confirm 2017 car launch dateFri, 06 Jan 2017 19:35:47 GMT<p><strong>Renault has become the fourth Formula 1 team to confirm its launch plans ahead of the 2017 season.</strong></p> <p>The Enstone based team will pull the covers off of&nbsp;the RS.17 on February 21, the day before Force India will unveil its challenger.</p> <p>The car will be driven by Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer.</p> <p>Mercedes and Ferrari are the only other teams to have confirmed their launch plans, with the champions debuting their car during a filming day at Silverstone on February 23.</p> <p>Ferrari will uncover its 2017 car during a presentation in Fiorano on February 24, just two days before pre-season testing kicks off in Barcelona.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13553https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13553Michael McDowell to race full-time in NASCAR Cup series in 2017Fri, 06 Jan 2017 19:07:47 GMT<p><strong>NASCAR veteran Michael McDowell will return to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series in 2017 with the Leavine Family Racing outfit.</strong></p> <p>He will race the No. 95 Chevrolet SS and has been signed for all 36 races, which makes the team Chase eligible for the first time since it began in 2011.</p> <p>Championship-winning NASCAR crew chief Todd Parrott also returns to the team full-time for 2017.</p> <p>It will be McDowell&rsquo;s 10<sup>th</sup> year racing in NASCAR, scoring his first national win in the Xfinity series at Road America in 2016.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&#39;m excited to be returning full time with LFR for the 2017 season,&quot; he explained.&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;I look forward to continuing to work with Todd as well and kicking off our season with a strong start at the Daytona 500 in February.&rdquo;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13507https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13507Bernie Ecclestone says Ferrari need 'fresh blood' to win in Formula 1 againFri, 06 Jan 2017 19:07:13 GMT<p><strong>Bernie Ecclestone says Ferrari must hire &quot;fresh blood&quot; from outside Italy&nbsp;if it&#39;s to succeed in Formula 1 again, because&nbsp;the current management and staff lack the DNA to run a successful team.</strong></p> <p>The Italian team failed to win a single race in 2014 as it finished fourth in the standings behind Mercedes, Red Bull and Williams. However they looked to have made progress the following season when Sebastian Vettel won three races, helping them to finish second, but that was short lived as they dropped to third last year, yet again failing to win a single race.</p> <p>F1 boss Ecclestone says Vettel isn&#39;t to blame for his slump and that the team needs to hire fresh blood outside of Italy if it is to succeed.</p> <p>&quot;It&#39;s not his fault that he&#39;s not winning,&quot; the 86-year-old told Sport Bild. &quot;It&#39;s about the car and the team.</p> <p>&quot;Ferrari has fallen back into the time before [Michael] Schumacher and [then team boss Jean]&nbsp;Todt.&quot;</p> <p>He added: &quot;There are too many Italians working there.</p> <p>&quot;Nothing against Italy, but running a team successfully is not in their DNA. Ferrari needs fresh blood. But I&#39;m sure Sebastian is doing everything he can to succeed.&quot;</p> <p>Ecclestone insists the four-time champion is determined to succeed with Ferrari amid rumours he could be looking to leave for Mercedes in 2018.</p> <p>&quot;Sebastian&#39;s mission is called Ferrari, because I know that he wants to succeed there first,&quot; he explained.</p> <p>Meanwhile Ecclestone suspects Mercedes will once again dominate in 2017 despite the rule changes, suggesting only a change in engine formula can stop them.</p> <p>&quot;Their engine will still be the best, giving them a huge advantage,&quot; he said. &quot;Equalising the situation can only be done with new engine regulations, so we need to do that as soon as possible.&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13512https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13512Melbourne boosts safety barriers in response to faster 2017 carsFri, 06 Jan 2017 14:52:15 GMT<p><strong>The organisers of the Australian Grand Prix say they&#39;ve been forced to install additional safety barriers at certain corners due to the expected increase in cornering speeds this year.</strong></p> <p>The new technical regulations this year will mean quicker cars. Wider tyres and wings are expected to see the cars carry an additional 20-30mph through a high-speed corner, forcing organisers to improve safety measures as any mid-corner&nbsp;incidents will happen at far higher-speeds than previously.</p> <p>Tecpro barriers will be installed at turn 12 in place of tyre walls, whilst the barriers at turns one, six and 14 will be beefed up, providing an additional layer of safety according to&nbsp;Craig Moca, division manager of infrastructure at the Australian Grand Prix Corporation.</p> <p>&quot;At Turn 12 we used to have six rows of tyres, now what we&rsquo;ve done is we&rsquo;ve taken away three rows of tyres and implemented the Tecpro system,&quot; he explained to <em>Motorsport.</em></p> <p>&quot;It&rsquo;s one row of Tecpro barriers, and every five metres there&rsquo;s a double Tecpro barrier, which essentially adds a buffer from the tyre wall.&quot;</p> <p>One, six and 14 will have the current tyre walls doubled in depth, with added tube inserts to absorb any impact.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13511https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13511Stephen Fitzpatrick says loss of tenth place to Sauber sealed Manor's fateFri, 06 Jan 2017 14:35:26 GMT<p><strong>Manor F1 team owner Stephen Fitzpatrick has said the loss of tenth place to Sauber in the championship standings sealed the team&#39;s fate, following confirmation on Friday that the team had entered into administration.</strong></p> <p>The Banbury-based team had spent much of the season in tenth following Pascal Wehrlein&#39;s point-scoring finish in Austria. However during the penultimate race of the season in Brazil, Sauber&#39;s Felipe Nasr snatched ninth place to score two points, pushing Manor down to 11th.</p> <p>That position change cost the team upwards of &pound;10 million in prize money and sealed their fate according to Fitzpatrick.</p> <p>&quot;Today&#39;s decision to put the team into administration represents a disappointing end to a two year journey for Manor,&quot; he said on Friday.</p> <p>]&quot;When I took over the team in 2015, the challenge was clear; it was imperative that the team finish in 10th place or better in 2016. For much of the season we were on track. But the dramatic race in Brazil ended our hopes of this result and ultimately brought into doubt the team&#39;s ability to race in 2017.</p> <p>&quot;I look back on 2016 with pride in what Manor accomplished in what was the most successful year in the team&#39;s history &ndash; I would like to thank the team for their constant hard work, determination and passion.</p> <p>&quot;We made a huge amount of progress on and off track but ultimately it was not enough.&quot;</p> <p>He added that things looked positive in December when investment was agreed with an Asian consortium, but that deal eventually fell through.</p> <p>&quot;Over much of the last year we have been in discussions with several investor groups, and had finally agreed terms of a sale to an Asian investment consortium in December.</p> <p>&quot;This would have provided the team with a strong platform for continued growth and development, [but] unfortunately time ran out before they could complete the transaction.</p> <p>&quot;We resolved in 2015 not to start any season that we did not know for certain we could complete, so we have taken the difficult decision to put the team&#39;s operating company into administration.&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13510https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13510McLaren confirms Honda engine redesign for 2017 seasonFri, 06 Jan 2017 13:44:08 GMT<p><strong>McLaren has confirmed that its engine supplier Honda will introduce an almost entirely new power unit for the 2017 season as it seeks to close the performance gap to its rivals.</strong></p> <p>Honda has struggled since its return to Formula 1 as an engine supplier to McLaren. It endured poor performance and reliability in its debut year. However it has made big strides in both areas, but still lacks outright horsepower compared to Mercedes.</p> <p>The Japanese company had&nbsp;hinted that it would introduce an entirely new power unit in 2017, but stopped short of confirming it.</p> <p>However McLaren&nbsp;technical director Tim Goss has now confirmed, with the scrapping of F1&#39;s development token system, that Honda has redesigned its power unit, having learned from its previous two seasons.</p> <p>&quot;The token system that was applied to engine development for the past few seasons has been discontinued,&quot; Goss said.</p> <p>&quot;For 2017, the Honda engine architecture and layout have been altered to serve both for performance and packaging needs.</p> <p>&quot;The new power unit takes much of the learning from the past two seasons, but has been specifically redesigned for this season.&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13509https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13509Manor F1 team goes into administration ahead of 2017 Formula 1 seasonFri, 06 Jan 2017 10:39:58 GMT<p><strong>The Manor Formula 1 team is reportedly nearing collapse ahead of the 2017 season as talks with potential investors have broken down and the team has entered administration.</strong></p> <p>The team, which was rescued from bankruptcy by Ovo Energy owner Stephen Fitzpatrick in 2014, has been searching for investment and talks with two interested parties begun last year.</p> <p>American investment led by Tavo Hellmund came close to doing a deal in November, but it&#39;s believed Fitzpatrick refused to meet the valuation set out by Hellund and his team. Whilst a second offer from an unknown consortium is also believed to have fallen through recently.</p> <p>That has left the team in a precarious financial position, with Fitzpatrick placing&nbsp;Just Racing Services Ltd &ndash; the company which operates the team &ndash; into administration on Thursday evening.</p> <p>FRP Advisory, which handled the team&#39;s previous collapse when it was known as Marussia and had debts worth &pound;35 million, has been appointed to oversee the process.</p> <p>Administrator Geoff Rowley said: &quot;The team has made significant progress since the start of 2015, but the position remains that operating a F1 team requires significant ongoing investment.</p> <p>&quot;The senior management team has worked tirelessly to bring new investment, but regrettably has been unable to do so within the time available.</p> <p>&quot;Therefore, they have been left with no alternative but to place [Manor Racing] into administration.&quot;</p> <p>It&#39;s believed unless a rescue deal is completed within the next few days, the team will be unable to compete this year, with testing just weeks away.</p> <p>The team have yet to announce their driver line-up, with Pascal Wehrlein set for a move to Sauber and Esteban Ocon moving to Force India.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13506https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13506Jolyon Palmer: Renault's 2017 target is to score in every raceThu, 05 Jan 2017 11:56:21 GMT<p><strong>Renault expect a big step forward in 2017, having spent much of its debut season, having acquired the Lotus team at the end of 2015, rebuilding its workforce and facilities as part of a five-year plan to win a world championship as a works team again.</strong></p> <p>The team scored points in just three races last year, bringing its tally to eight &ndash; 21 points less than newcomer Haas.</p> <p>However following a year of learning for the team, driver Jolyon Palmer says the aim for 2017 is to battle in the midfield and score points in every race and he&#39;s confident they can achieve that.</p> <p>&quot;We think the top three &ndash;&nbsp;Mercedes, Red Bull,&nbsp;Ferrari&nbsp;&ndash; will continue to lead, but we can fight in the next group with Williams, Force India,&nbsp;McLaren&nbsp;and maybe Toro Rosso,&quot; he told <em>Autocar.</em>&nbsp;&quot;We want to be fighting for points in every race.&quot;</p> <p>Not only that, but Palmer believes a podium could be possible if they can have a &quot;perfect race&quot; next year.</p> <p>&quot;I dream of a podium,&quot;&nbsp;added the Briton.&nbsp;&quot;Obviously, everything&rsquo;s up in the air at present. You can&rsquo;t know how others are doing.</p> <p>&quot;If we scored a podium, it would have to be the result of a perfect race. But if Force India can get two of them in 2016, we can do it next year. That&rsquo;s what I feel right now, anyway...&quot;</p> <p><strong>Related:&nbsp;<a href="http://gptim.es/2ll">Renault to debut &#39;aggressive&#39; new engine concept for 2017 season</a></strong></p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13505https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13505Sky, Channel 4 confirm F1 TV schedules for 2017 seasonThu, 05 Jan 2017 10:47:57 GMT<p><strong>Sky Sports F1 and Channel 4 have confirmed their broadcasting plans ahead of the 2017 Formula 1 season.</strong></p> <p>Since 2012, TV rights for F1 in the UK have been shared between Sky and a terrestrial broadcaster, with Channel 4 taking over&nbsp;from the BBC for the 2016 season.</p> <p>Sky will show every session of the season&nbsp;live once again in 2017, as it has done for the past five seasons, with Channel 4 showing 10 races live and the remainder through highlight&nbsp;packages.</p> <p>For the first time since the sharing agreement came into force, the Monaco Grand Prix will be broadcast live on free-to-air TV after Channel 4 secured it as one of its picks. Bahrain, the third round of the season,&nbsp;will be Channel 4&#39;s first live weekend of the new year.</p> <p><strong><u>2017 F1 Season - Live UK TV Broadcasts</u></strong></p> <p>1. Australia (March 27) - Sky<br /> 2. China (April 9) - Sky<br /> 3. Bahrain (April 16) - Sky and Channel 4<br /> 4. Russia (April 30) - Sky and Channel 4<br /> 5. Spain (May 14) - Sky<br /> 6. Monaco (May 28) - Sky and Channel 4<br /> 7. Canada (June 11) - Sky<br /> 8. Azerbaijan (June 25) - Sky and Channel 4<br /> 9. Austria (July 9) - Sky<br /> 10. Great Britain (July 16) - Sky and Channel 4<br /> 11. Hungary (July 30) - Sky<br /> 12. Begium (August 27) - Sky and Channel 4<br /> 13. Italy (September 3) - Sky<br /> 14. Singapore (September 17) - Sky and Channel 4<br /> 15. Malaysia (October 1) - Sky and Channel 4<br /> 16. Japan (October 8) - Sky<br /> 17. USA (October 22) - Sky and Channel 4<br /> 18. Mexico (October 29) - Sky<br /> 19. Brazil (November 12) - Sky<br /> 20. Abu Dhabi - Sky and Channel 4</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13504https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13504Force India to launch 2017 Formula 1 car on February 22Thu, 05 Jan 2017 10:31:03 GMT<p><strong>Force India has confirmed that it will launch its car for the 2017 Formula 1 season at Silverstone on February 22.</strong></p> <p>Force India enjoyed its best-ever season in F1 last year, finishing fourth in the constructors&#39; championship as Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg both ended the year in the top 10 of the drivers&#39; standings.</p> <p>Perez picked up two podiums through the campaign, and is set to lead the team once again through 2017 alongside new teammate Esteban Ocon following Hulkenberg&#39;s move to Renault.</p> <p>With Mercedes and Ferrari already confirming launch dates for their 2017 cars, Force India became the latest team to firm up its plans with an announcement on Thursday morning.</p> <p>&quot;Give in to excitement - we will launch our 2017 season in Silverstone on the 22nd of February!&quot; the team wrote on its website.</p> <p>&quot;We have a lot in store for that day, so watch this space (and our social media accounts, too) for more information on how to fully enjoy the start of this new season.</p> <p>&quot;With a new driver line-up, new regulations and a renewed hunger to build on our most successful season ever, it&#39;s time to Feel the Force again!&quot;</p> <p><strong><u>F1 2017 Confirmed Launch Dates</u></strong></p> <p>Force India - February 22 (Silverstone)<br /> Mercedes - February 23 (Silverstone)<br /> Ferrari - February 24 (Fiorano)</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13503https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13503Mercedes confirms launch date for W08 Hybrid Formula 1 carWed, 04 Jan 2017 10:41:17 GMT<p><strong>Mercedes will launch its new car for the 2017 Formula 1 season, the W08 Hybrid, at Silverstone on February 23.</strong></p> <p>Mercedes enters the 2017 season looking to defend both its drivers&#39; and constructors&#39; championships from the past three seasons, having enjoyed a dominance over the field rarely seen through F1 history.</p> <p>The German marque is set to face fresh challenges this year with an overhaul of the technical regulations that will produce&nbsp;more radical-looking cars, set to be multiple seconds per lap faster than the 2016 models.</p> <p>On Wednesday, Mercedes confirmed via its website&nbsp;that it would be launching the W08 Hybrid at Silverstone on February 23, &nbsp;as well as launching a fan competition to attend the unveil. The car will also complete laps at Silverstone as part of a filming day.</p> <p>The launch comes one day before Ferrari&#39;s planned unveil at Fiorano in Italy, with the remainder of the grid yet to confirm its reveal plans.</p> <p>Pre-season testing begins at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain on February 27.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13502https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13502Ginetta to become FIA WEC LMP1 chassis manufacturer from 2018Wed, 04 Jan 2017 09:38:50 GMT<p><strong>Ginetta has confirmed it will become a chassis manufacturer for the LMP1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship from the 2018 season.</strong></p> <p>Earlier this year, the Automobile Club de l&#39;Ouest (ACO) announced new regulations for LMP1 from 2017 that were intended to attract more privateer teams to the class in the future.</p> <p>The LMP1 field is set to feature just two manufacturers - Porsche and Toyota - in 2017 following Audi&#39;s shock withdrawal at the end of last year and the decision to put the LMP1-L privateer class on hiatus due to a lack of entries.</p> <p>However, Ginetta has now confirmed it will produce an LMP1 chassis from 2018 that will be available to customer teams. The British marque plans to produce&nbsp;ten chassis to support three&nbsp;two-car teams.</p> <p>&quot;I&rsquo;m hugely thankful to the ACO for the opportunity to run at the front and challenge for overall podiums,&quot; Ginetta chairman Lawrence Tomlinson said. &quot;The Ginetta design team&rsquo;s ability has already been proven by the class dominating Ginetta LMP3 and G57.</p> <p>&quot;The performance of the Ginetta LMP1 is going to be amazing. We are now offering a genuine ladder for our customers all the way from first race to Le Mans which is incredibly exciting for me.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;More great news for endurance racing!&quot; ACO president Pierre Fillon added.&nbsp;&quot;Ginetta has proven its expertise in creating successful high performance chassis in G57 and Ginetta LMP3 categories and entering LMP1, the top tier category of endurance racing, appears now to be an obvious move for Ginetta as it moves forward.</p> <p>&quot;The valued expertise of Ginetta&rsquo;s partners for this programme is also very promising for the 2018 FIA World Endurance Championship.&rdquo;</p> <p>Ginetta&#39;s statement also revealed&nbsp;that it is in &quot;advanced talks with engine supplier MECACHROME as well as gearbox manufacturers Xtrac for the drive train.</p> <p>&quot;The car will be around 60kg lighter than a P2 and have up to 200BHP more. Accompanied with the huge downforce that their new aerodynamic team will develop, Ginetta is confident this will be a class-leading car.&quot;</p> <p>Ginetta is poised to begin LMP1 testing following this year&#39;s 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13501https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13501Ferrari questions legality of Mercedes, Red Bull suspensionWed, 04 Jan 2017 09:38:19 GMT<p><strong>Ferrari has written to the FIA ahead of the 2017 season to question the legality of Mercedes and Red Bull&#39;s suspension systems, which the Italian team believes to contravene the technical rules.</strong></p> <p>The two teams have developed similar systems in response to the banning of adapative ride-height systems such as FRIC (front and rear interconnected) suspension in 2014, which helps a car to remain level under braking, acceleration and cornering.</p> <p>The new system uses a third suspension element (or heave), which is placed behind the rocker assembly in the chassis, to control vertical movement of the suspension &ndash; producing similar benefits to the FRIC system.</p> <p>Ferrari&#39;s chief designer Simone Resta has therefore written to the FIA&#39;s Charlie Whiting questioning whether the system is legal, citing Article 3.15 and technical directive&nbsp;TD/002-11, which outlaw the use of moveable devices to control aerodynamics.</p> <p>Whiting&#39;s response to the letter, which was distributed amongst all teams, confirms he too believes the systems to contravene Article 3.15.</p> <p>&quot;In our view any suspension system which was capable of altering the response of a cars&#39; suspension system in the way you describe in paragraphs 1) and 2) would be likely to contravene article 3.15 of the F1 technical regulations.&quot;</p> <p>Therefore Mercedes and Red Bull now face the dilemma of continuing with the system for 2017, or dumping it altogether, which would likely cost them a large chunk of performance.</p> <p>Whiting&#39;s response is however only a guide and isn&#39;t legally binding, but gives teams the opportunity to protest a rival, which Ferrari is likely to do should Mercedes and Red Bull keep the current suspension setup in place.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13500https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13500Andre Lotterer enjoys first Porsche LMP1 test at Motorland AragonTue, 03 Jan 2017 23:15:46 GMT<p><strong>Andre Lotterer enjoyed his first test as a Porsche factory driver behind the wheel of its 919 Hybrid LMP1 car&nbsp;at Motorland Aragon on Tuesday.</strong></p> <p>Three-time Le Mans winner Lotterer sought refuge at Porsche for 2017 after Audi ended its endurance programme at the end of the 2016 season.</p> <p>2012 champion Lotterer will race the entire FIA World Endurance Championship campaign with Porsche behind the wheel of the #1 919 Hybrid in 2017, teaming up with Nick Tandy and Neel Jani, both Le Mans winners in 2015 and 2016 respectively.</p> <p>Lotterer enjoyed his first test with Porsche at the Motorland Aragon circuit in Spain, as confirmed by the German marque via its official Twitter account on Tuesday.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">New work clothes for <a href="https://twitter.com/Andre_Lotterer">@Andre_Lotterer</a> who already has collected first impressions at the wheel of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Porsche?src=hash">#Porsche</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/919hybrid?src=hash">#919hybrid</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/AragonMotorLand">@AragonMotorLand</a> <a href="https://t.co/5cmCALhYAo">pic.twitter.com/5cmCALhYAo</a></p> &mdash; Porsche LMP1 Team (@Porsche_Team) <a href="https://twitter.com/Porsche_Team/status/816318380546396161">January 3, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <p>Lotterer is the only member of the 2016&nbsp;Audi LMP1 line-up to have secured a new WEC seat ahead of the forthcoming season, with long-running teammates Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler both continuing to evalute their options.</p> <p>From the second Audi entry, Lucas di Grassi is understood to be focusing chiefly on his commitments in Formula E, while Loic Duval has moved into DTM a factory driver. Oliver Jarvis is yet to firm up any plans for 2017, but is thought to be chasing an LMP2 seat to remain in the WEC.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13499https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13499Rio Haryanto's mother says he won't be racing in Formula 1 in 2017Tue, 03 Jan 2017 19:21:38 GMT<p><strong>Rio Haryanto won&#39;t be racing in Formula 1 in 2017 according to his mother, who confirmed the former-Manor driver will instead work for his father&#39;s stationary business in Indonesia.</strong></p> <p>Haryanto made his F1 debut with Manor last year alongside Pascal Wehrlein, but was dropped by the team in favour of Esteban Ocon when his funding dried up from&nbsp;state-owned oil company Pertamina &ndash; which has now ended its sponsorship of the 23-year-old.</p> <p>Haryanto accepted a reserve role with the team for the remainder of the year in the hope of returning to a full-time race seat this year, but according to his mother, that won&#39;t be happening.</p> <p>&quot;He will not be racing in Formula 1 this year,&quot; his mother,&nbsp;Indah Pennywati,&nbsp;told&nbsp;<em>Rappler</em>. &quot;The deadline set by the Sauber team is [also] up.&quot;</p> <p>Haryanto and his management team had been in talks with the Swiss team, but it&#39;s believed they have signed a deal which will see Wehrlein partner Marcus Ericsson.</p> <p>Gatot S. Dewa Broto, a spokesman for Indonesia&#39;s&nbsp;Youth and Sports Ministry, said he was saddended to hear the news.</p> <p>&quot;We were of course very sorry when we heard the information that Rio could no longer compete in F1,&quot; he added. &quot;We hope that Rio&#39;s career does not stop just because of a matter of funds.&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13498https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13498Mark Webber tips Daniel Ricciardo for title challenge in 2017Tue, 03 Jan 2017 11:41:21 GMT<p><strong>Mark Webber believes fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo will be a big player in the title challenge next season as Mercedes have been weakened by the loss of Nico Rosberg, whilst regulation changes could throw the current pecking order out of the window.</strong></p> <p>Webber, who has now retired from a long and successful motorsport career, says Ricciardo is one of the best on the grid and fully expects &ndash; as long as Red Bull build him a decent car &ndash; to challenge for the title, more so now that Mercedes have been hit by the loss of one of their champion drivers.</p> <p>&quot;Daniel was probably the most consistent driver in the field [in 2016] and he&#39;s absolutely world class, in that top three drivers,&quot; Webber told Australian newspaper&nbsp;<em>The Age</em>.</p> <p>&quot;He&#39;s in a position to go again and certainly vie for the championship if Red Bull can get the car together because Nico is virtually impossible to replace in the short term at Mercedes.&quot;</p> <p>He added: &quot;Nico and Lewis drove each other to be better, but now [Mercedes] won&#39;t have that all-star line-up. Lewis is brilliant and absolutely ruthless, but this will shake up the Formula 1 market.&quot;</p> <p>Ricciardo meanwhile says he&#39;s &quot;hungry&quot; for success next season and is confident the team can deliver.</p> <p>&quot;I have faith that &ndash;&nbsp;again, all the ingredients need to be there the equipment and what not &ndash;&nbsp;but if we are even a sniff of it then I think we can definitely make it happen next year ... you need everything to sort of fall into place, but I personally feel ready, definitely hungry enough that&#39;s for sure.&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13497https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13497Renault to debut 'aggressive' new engine concept for 2017 seasonMon, 02 Jan 2017 22:42:47 GMT<p><strong>Renault will debut a new engine concept in 2017 that it believes will deliver greater development potential and therefore&nbsp;huge gains later in the year and beyond as it looks to close the gap to its rivals, chiefly Mercedes, which it still lags behind in outright performance.</strong></p> <p>With the new power units now entering their fourth season, the rate of development is slowing and smaller steps are therefore expected next year, but Renault believes it can buck that trend by going down a completely new development path thanks to an &quot;aggressive&quot; overhaul of its design.</p> <p>According to Renault&#39;s managing director Cyril Abiteboul, the French manufacturer isn&#39;t content with its power unit despite massive steps forward in 2016 and has taken a radical approach, rather than playing it safe and focussing purely on the chassis and aerodynamics.</p> <p>&quot;Frankly we have had long discussions about that because at the point in time that everything is changing on the rest of the car, we could have taken a more conservative approach in trying to freeze what we have and focus on the chassis,&quot; he told&nbsp;<em>Motorsport.</em></p> <p>&quot;But we have not gone for that. We have gone for a very aggressive option. If we want to be where we would like to be for 2018 or 2020, which is the next phase, when we want to target the top teams, we cannot afford to delay anything. So we need to accept the&nbsp;risk.&quot;</p> <p>Abiteboul warned not to expect immediate gains as Renault will instead be focussing on the reliability of the power unit before it begins extracting performance later in the season.</p> <p>&quot;We will be focusing on reliability with that new concept of engine - which will be a new concept I can confirm that,&quot; he said.</p> <p>&quot;It means that it may not be a big jump in terms of performance, simply for the reason that we want to make sure to introduce this concept that it is reliable and that will be the perfect platform to develop the performance for the next three to four years.&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13496https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13496Felipe Massa's decision to delay retirement a mistake - Jean AlesiMon, 02 Jan 2017 16:36:46 GMT<p><strong>Former Formula 1 driver Jean Alesi believes Felipe Massa is making a mistake by deferring his retirement by a season to continue racing with Williams next season.</strong></p> <p>The Brazilian has agreed a deal with Williams which will see him partner rookie Lance Stroll following the team&#39;s decision to allow Valtteri Bottas to sign for Mercedes as Nico Rosberg&#39;s replacement.</p> <p>Although no deals have yet been confirmed, sources have confirmed that contracts between Bottas and Mercedes and Massa and Williams&nbsp;have been drawn up&nbsp;and only require final signatures before being announced later this month.</p> <p>Alesi, winner of the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix, says Massa could live to regret his decision.</p> <p>&quot;Honestly to me this is a mistaken decision,&quot; he told&nbsp;<em>Gazzetta dello Sport</em>. &quot;Felipe has stopped, he&rsquo;s turned a page. And what if he discovers that the Williams isn&rsquo;t quick?&quot;</p> <p>Alesi says Rosberg&#39;s decision to retire, which has sparked this driver line-up frenzy, angered him to begin with but says he now understands the German&#39;s decision.</p> <p>&quot;To start with I thought the same as Lauda; I was surprised and angry. Let&rsquo;s say I didn&rsquo;t really get the logic of announcing your retirement the same week in which you won the title.</p> <p>&quot;But then I thought about it some more and I thought of Senna, of how he said he would drive for Williams for nothing and how hard he worked to make it happen and then he died. Perhaps Nico just didn&rsquo;t feel like racing anymore.&quot;</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13495https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13495Adrian Newey: 2017 regulations a guessing game for everyoneSun, 01 Jan 2017 14:02:17 GMT<p><strong>Red Bull design guru Adrian Newey is predicting a mixed up grid this year as he admits the new regulations are a guessing game for everyone.</strong></p> <p>With an emphasis on aerodynamics in 2017, many are predicting Red Bull to steal a march on their rivals as they&#39;ve traditionally done well with major regulation changes which focus on the chassis.</p> <p>Newey however says it&#39;s impossible to predict who will and won&#39;t do well as they have to commit to the&nbsp;development path they believe to be correct.</p> <p>&quot;Whenever there is a regulation change, some teams read the regulations better than others,&quot; he told <em>Sky Sports F1.</em>&nbsp;&quot;Typically the big teams, who have the bigger resource, read them better, but when we had the last big regulation change in 2009 that wasn&#39;t the case, it was Brawn and ourselves who read them correctly, and the grandees, then Ferrari and McLaren, who struggled a bit.</p> <p>&quot;Whenever you have regulation change, you have lots of ideas which you have to channel down to a direction and a philosophy for the car. Although we are one of the bigger teams we don&#39;t have the resources to look at them all avenues simultaneously.</p> <p>&quot;It&#39;s [a case of] &#39;this is the avenue we believe is the correct one&#39; and we hope we are right. There is always the chance that there is an avenue or direction which someone else has taken which is superior.&quot;</p> <p>As has often been the case with the introduction of new rules, Newey says it&#39;s very likely there will be big performance gaps between teams,&nbsp;with one or two emerging as the dominant force: &quot;It will almost certainly mean the grid will be a bit more spread out to start with,&quot; he added.</p> https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13494https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13494The top ten most read news stories of 2016Sat, 31 Dec 2016 12:57:45 GMT<p><strong>The year is almost over! We&#39;ve collected our top ten most read stories of the season to see what the big talking points were. </strong></p> <p>Wishing you all a Happy New Year. We&#39;ll see you in 2017 &ndash; we&#39;ve some exciting plans we think you&#39;ll enjoy.</p> <p><strong>1. <a href="http://www.grandprixtimes.com/news/id/11264">McLaren fires up 2016 Honda power unit for the first time</a>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><img alt="" src="http://www.grandprixtimes.com//ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/1312CB7D6241.jpg" width="100%"/></p> <p>Our most popular story saw McLaren and Honda release a short audi clip of their 2016 engine. After a disappointing reunion in 2015, fanbs were clearly eager to see how Honda&#39;s power unit would perform in 2016 and whilst things improved, there&#39;s certainly room for improvement.</p> <p><strong>2. <a href="http://www.grandprixtimes.com/news/id/13444">Next year&#39;s McLaren &#39;looks very aggressive&#39; - Stoffel Vandoorne</a></strong></p> <p><img alt="" src="http://www.grandprixtimes.com//ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/vandoorne-seat-fitting.png" width="100%"/></p> <p>Next year will see the launch of &quot;aggressive&quot; looking cars under new technical regulations and McLaren rookie Stoffel Vandoorne confirmed that to be true after seeing a render of McLaren&#39;s latest challenger during a visit to the team&#39;s factory.</p> <p><strong>3. <a href="http://www.grandprixtimes.com/news/id/12568">Lewis Hamilton approaching Charlie Whiting directly was &#39;regrettable&#39;</a></strong></p> <p><img alt="" src="http://www.grandprixtimes.com//ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/lowe-1663LB1D0021.jpg" width="100%" /></p> <p>Lewis Hamilton caused some controversy when he approached the FIA&#39;s Charlie Whiting in private to discuss Nico Rosberg&#39;s pole position lap in Hungary, which was set under yellow flag conditions, prompting new rules to come into effect.</p> <p><strong>4.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.grandprixtimes.com/news/id/13408">Niki Lauda: &#39;Half the grid&#39; have been in contact with Mercedes</a></strong></p> <p><img alt="" src="http://www.grandprixtimes.com//ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/1738LB1D8728.jpg" width="100%" /></p> <p>Nico Rosberg&#39;s shock retirement opened the flood gates for Mercedes as Niki Lauda revealed that half the grid had expressed interest in the opening. However it&#39;s expected Valtteri Bottas will line-up alongside Lewis Hamilton in 2017.</p> <p><strong>5. <a href="http://www.grandprixtimes.com/news/id/11853">Sepang tweaks will make circuit quicker and more challenging</a></strong></p> <p><img alt="" src="http://www.grandprixtimes.com//ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/dromo-5.jpg" width="100%" /></p> <p>Sepang&#39;s International Circuit underwent some big changes in 2016 aimed at improving the layout, drainage and overtaking opportunities. The architect behind the changes spoke to Grand Prix Times exclusively to give some insight as to why they changed what&nbsp;they did.</p> <p><strong>6. <a href="http://www.grandprixtimes.com/news/id/11641">Fernando Alonso wants a return to &#39;extreme&#39; Formula 1 cars in 2017</a></strong></p> <p><img alt="" src="http://www.grandprixtimes.com//ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/mclaren-alonso_H7I1508.jpg" width="100%" /></p> <p>Fernando Alonso has often questioned the direction Formula 1 is heading and says the sport must please fans by introducing &quot;extreme&quot; cars in the future &ndash; but is pleased 2017 is heading in that direction.</p> <p><strong>7. <a href="http://www.grandprixtimes.com/news/id/12668">Honda: &#39;Next year we&#39;re aiming to match the Mercedes engine&#39;</a></strong></p> <p><img alt="" src="http://www.grandprixtimes.com//ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/octane-mclaren-engine1447CB7D7429.jpg" width="100%" /></p> <p>Honda made bold aims for 2017, with the target of matching the dominant Mercedes power unit after struggling with its own for the past two seasons. Can they do it? Time will tell.</p> <p><strong>8. <a href="http://www.grandprixtimes.com/news/id/12625">Teams want immediate talks over next generation engine</a></strong></p> <p><img alt="" src="http://www.grandprixtimes.com//ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/pirellirear_M2U7675.jpg" width="100%" /></p> <p>The current power units are entering their fourth season and although their replacements are some way off, the deadline to agree upon what the new engines should look like is fast approaching and teams are keen to nail down the basics.</p> <p><strong>9. <a href="http://www.grandprixtimes.com/news/id/12074">Sauber says Haas approach to Formula 1 not the &#39;right way&#39;</a></strong></p> <p><img alt="" src="http://www.grandprixtimes.com//ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/haas-grosean-876rfgh.jpg" width="100%" /></p> <p>Sauber claimed Haas&#39; approach wasn&#39;t right for the sport as the team buys much of its parts in from rivals, but maybe Sauber should consider a similar path as the new-for-2016 team scored 29 points compared to Sauber&#39;s two. Ouch!</p> <p><strong>10. <a href="http://www.grandprixtimes.com/news/id/13410">Niki Lauda annoyed that Nico Rosberg has left Mercedes looking &#39;stupid&#39;</a></strong></p> <p><img alt="" src="http://www.grandprixtimes.com//ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/M52839.jpg" width="100%" /></p> <p>Whilst Rosberg winning the title and then retiring five days later is the big story of 2016 &ndash; despite it not making our top ten most read &ndash; Lauda wasn&#39;t best pleased by the German&#39;s decision and says the short notice has left Mercedes looking &quot;stupid&quot;.</p>