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Media offers shares to F1 teamsThu, 19 Jan 2017 19:00:53 GMT<p><strong>Prospective Formula 1 owners Liberty Media will offer shares in the sport to teams, the company announced in a statement on Thursday.</strong></p> <p>Liberty Media is poised to acquire 100 per cent of Formula 1, having received approval from its own stakeholders and the FIA, with the sale set to be completed before the end of January.</p> <p>&ldquo;Liberty Media announced today [Thursday] that it intends to issue cash convertible senior notes in a private offering,&rdquo; read a statement.</p> <p>&ldquo;The notes will be convertible into cash in an amount determined by reference to the trading price of shares of Series C Liberty Media common stock (&quot;LMCK&quot;).</p> <p>&ldquo;Liberty expects to use the net proceeds of the offering to fund an increase to the cash consideration payable to the selling shareholders (the &quot;Selling Shareholders&quot;) of Formula 1 (&quot;F1&quot;) by $400 million and retain in treasury the approximately 19 million shares that would otherwise have been issuable to the Selling Shareholders based on the per share purchase price of $21.26.</p> <p>&ldquo;These LMCK shares will be reserved by Liberty for issuance to the F1 teams at a per share purchase price of $21.26.&rdquo;</p> <p>Formula 1 Chairman Chase Carey confirmed that teams have registered an interest in acquiring a stake.</p> <p>&ldquo;Several of the teams have expressed interest in investing and we have already begun productive discussions to make the sport more competitive and even more exciting,&rdquo; he commented.</p> <p>Liberty&rsquo;s statement added that, should teams decline the offer within a six-month window, the unissued shares will be retired.</p> Russell joins Mercedes F1 junior driver programmeThu, 19 Jan 2017 13:09:04 GMT<p><strong>Rising British racer George Russell has joined Mercedes&#39; junior driver programme&nbsp;ahead of the 2017 season, when he will race in the GP3 Series with ART Grand Prix.</strong></p> <p>Russell, 18, competed in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship last year, taking two victories en route to third place in the final standings. Russell becomes the third member of Mercedes&#39; junior programme, alongside Formula 1 drivers Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon.</p> <p>&quot;It&#39;s great to be part of the Junior Programme. It is an incredible opportunity to have the backing of the Formula One World Champions,&quot; Russell said.</p> <p>&quot;I&#39;m proud to have been given this kind of recognition for all the hard work that&#39;s gone into my career over the years so far.</p> <p>&quot;I&#39;ve started doing some work with the team in the simulator and it&#39;s already become clear to me that I&#39;m working with people who are the best in the business, who I know will help me develop as a driver and as a person.</p> <p>&quot;Of course, my priority is to get the job done over the coming season in GP3 and I&#39;m fully focused on that. But this opportunity is a huge motivation and I&#39;m looking forward to the challenge. It should be an exciting year ahead.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;George has shown impressive form in the junior categories and we&#39;ve been keeping a close eye on him for a while now,&quot; Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff added.</p> <p>&quot;It&#39;s still early days in his career but we see great potential in him. For 2017, George will compete in the GP3 Series with ART Grand Prix on Formula One weekends, following in the footsteps of fellow Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Junior Esteban Ocon and, of course, newly announced race driver Valtteri Bottas - both of whom won this championship en route to F1.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> &quot;George&#39;s next challenge in GP3 will provide a good test of his credentials for the future. We have already seen with Esteban how effective this series can be as a training ground and, of course, this is the championship which propelled Valtteri [Bottas] into Formula One, so we will follow George&#39;s progress with great interest.&quot;</p> Button tests Honda Civic rallycross carThu, 19 Jan 2017 11:21:33 GMT<p><strong>Former Formula 1 driver Jenson Button has tested a Honda Civic rallycross car at the Sebring circuit in the USA.</strong></p> <p>The 2009 F1 world champion tried out a Civic Supercar with Swedish team OlsbergsMSE in America on Wednesday.</p> <p>Button is currently taking a break from Formula 1 but remains at McLaren as a reserve driver and ambassador.</p> <p>He is considering his options for this year and has made no secret of his interest in competing in rallycross.</p> <p>Button&rsquo;s late father John competed in rallycross in the 1970s, first driving a Volkswagen Beetle and then a Golf.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-version="7" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"> <div style="padding:8px;"> <div style=" background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50.0% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;"> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAABGdBTUEAALGPC/xhBQAAAAFzUkdCAK7OHOkAAAAMUExURczMzPf399fX1+bm5mzY9AMAAADiSURBVDjLvZXbEsMgCES5/P8/t9FuRVCRmU73JWlzosgSIIZURCjo/ad+EQJJB4Hv8BFt+IDpQoCx1wjOSBFhh2XssxEIYn3ulI/6MNReE07UIWJEv8UEOWDS88LY97kqyTliJKKtuYBbruAyVh5wOHiXmpi5we58Ek028czwyuQdLKPG1Bkb4NnM+VeAnfHqn1k4+GPT6uGQcvu2h2OVuIf/gWUFyy8OWEpdyZSa3aVCqpVoVvzZZ2VTnn2wU8qzVjDDetO90GSy9mVLqtgYSy231MxrY6I2gGqjrTY0L8fxCxfCBbhWrsYYAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;">&nbsp;</div> </div> <p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"><a href="" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_blank">In action at Sebring with @olsbergsmse @hondaracing_hpd #puredriving #purejoy #rallyx #rallycross #rx</a></p> <p style=" color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;">A photo posted by Jenson Button (@jensonbutton_22) on <time datetime="2017-01-18T17:29:31+00:00" style=" font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;">Jan 18, 2017 at 9:29am PST</time></p> </div> </blockquote> <script async defer src="//"></script> <blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-version="7" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"> <div style="padding:8px;"> <div style=" background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50.0% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;"> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAABGdBTUEAALGPC/xhBQAAAAFzUkdCAK7OHOkAAAAMUExURczMzPf399fX1+bm5mzY9AMAAADiSURBVDjLvZXbEsMgCES5/P8/t9FuRVCRmU73JWlzosgSIIZURCjo/ad+EQJJB4Hv8BFt+IDpQoCx1wjOSBFhh2XssxEIYn3ulI/6MNReE07UIWJEv8UEOWDS88LY97kqyTliJKKtuYBbruAyVh5wOHiXmpi5we58Ek028czwyuQdLKPG1Bkb4NnM+VeAnfHqn1k4+GPT6uGQcvu2h2OVuIf/gWUFyy8OWEpdyZSa3aVCqpVoVvzZZ2VTnn2wU8qzVjDDetO90GSy9mVLqtgYSy231MxrY6I2gGqjrTY0L8fxCxfCBbhWrsYYAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;">&nbsp;</div> </div> <p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"><a href="" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_blank">My Birthday came two days early. Thanks Andreas and @olsbergsmse @hondaracing_hpd for the opportunity #puredriving #purejoy #happybirthdayme #itsmybirthdayin2days #incaseyouveforgotten 😬🤡</a></p> <p style=" color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;">A video posted by Jenson Button (@jensonbutton_22) on <time datetime="2017-01-18T13:39:09+00:00" style=" font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;">Jan 18, 2017 at 5:39am PST</time></p> </div> </blockquote> <script async defer src="//"></script> <p>The test with Honda-backed OMSE wasn&rsquo;t Button&rsquo;s first time trying out rallycross machinery, with the British racer driving a JRM Racing Mini RX at Lydden Hill in 2015 as part of a BBC F1 TV feature.</p> <p>Button shared a photo and video of his Honda rallycross test on Instagram, thanking the OMSE team for the opportunity.</p> Räikkönen appointed ambassador for sport in FinlandThu, 19 Jan 2017 10:34:38 GMT<p><strong>Ferrari Formula 1 driver Kimi R&auml;ikk&ouml;nen has been appointed an ambassador for sport in his native country of Finland.</strong></p> <p>The ceremony took place in Helsinki, with R&auml;ikk&ouml;nen receiving the honour from Finnish prime minister Juha Sipil&auml;.</p> <p>Raikkonen will compete in his 15<sup>th</sup> season in F1 this year and his seventh for Ferrari, following stints at Sauber, McLaren and Lotus.</p> <p>The 2007 F1 world champion has scored 20 victories and notched up 16 pole positions in his career so far.</p> <p>The Finnish government has never before appointed anyone as an ambassador for sport.</p> <p>&quot;I&rsquo;m not that used to making formal speeches,&rdquo; R&auml;ikk&ouml;nen said at the Sport Gala ceremony.</p> <p>&quot;But I would like to wish all the best to the winners in every category, as well as those who missed out on the prizes this year.</p> <p>&quot;I would stress how important it has been in my case to have the support of my family and help from trustworthy colleagues and the people within the Ferrari team, with whom I have worked for so many years now.&quot;</p> Pascal Wehrlein can still be part of Mercedes' futureThu, 19 Jan 2017 08:02:19 GMT<p><strong>Pascal Wehrlein threw his hat into the ring at Mercedes, was briefly touted at Force India and offered to Williams, but has ultimately landed at Sauber for 2017. It&rsquo;s a year which could make or break him.</strong></p> <p>When Nico Rosberg stunned the Formula 1 fraternity by announcing his immediate retirement as World Champion, an array of drivers were linked to the vacancy alongside Lewis Hamilton.</p> <p>Once the impractical and contractually-bound candidates were ruled out of the equation it was a straight toss-up between Valtteri Bottas and Wehrlein for the opportunity to pilot Mercedes&rsquo; W08 Hybrid.</p> <p>Mercedes eventually elected to prise Bottas from Williams, with Wehrlein placed at Sauber. He will be driving for the 10th-best team rather than for the World Champions.</p> <p>Immediately, there was the polarised viewpoint that as Mercedes did not regard Wehrlein as a viable candidate for 2017, it did not believe in his talents, or that it has been too conservative when weighed against the approach taken by rivals Red Bull, whose method of promoting from within has reaped rewards.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/Wehrlein%20Austria%20(Custom).jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>Wehrlein scored a point for Manor in Austria</figcaption> </figure> <p>To take such a viewpoint represents a simplistic approach, for just because Wehrlein is not perceived as being ready in 2017 does not mean he cannot flourish and emerge as a viable candidate in the future.</p> <p>Wehrlein is only 22 and has just a single season&rsquo;s worth of experience under his belt for a minnow backmarker team. Wehrlein&rsquo;s rookie campaign was solid; at times spectacular, at times questionable &ndash; the typical hallmarks of a first season in Formula 1.</p> <p>Wehrlein made it through to Q2 on five occasions, including a high of 12th&nbsp;on the grid in Austria, which he converted to 10th&nbsp;in the race. The Spielberg point was not fortuitous, as Wehrlein hadn&rsquo;t even caught the back of the pack at the mid-race restart, making his charge to 10th&nbsp;all the more remarkable, with 16 drivers reaching the flag. Wehrlein also showed nous on the grid, when he inadvertently pulled up in the spot vacated by Felipe Massa, and had the awareness to reverse to his original position before the first red light was illuminated. &nbsp;</p> <p>Austria proved to be the high point, but there were other bright moments, with Wehrlein typically afforded his chance to shine on the low-downforce circuits which suited Manor&rsquo;s MRT05 package. Several of his starts, including on his debut in Australia, caught the eye, while battling performances elsewhere also grabbed attention. Wehrlein was also unfortunate not to be able to exploit Manor&rsquo;s potential in Belgium, tangling with Jenson Button, and Italy, retiring due to an oil leak. &nbsp;</p> <p>But there were caveats. In being paired with Rio Haryanto, a competent but subdued driver, Wehrlein had an unknown barometer for the first half of the campaign. Wehrlein comprehensively outclassed Haryanto in race-trim, but over one-lap the Indonesian sometimes gave Mercedes&rsquo; prot&eacute;g&eacute; food for thought.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:left"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/Wehrlein%20Monza%20(Custom).jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>Opportunities in Belgium and Italy went to waste</figcaption> </figure> <p>When Esteban Ocon replaced the cash-strapped Haryanto, observers relished the prospect of two Mercedes juniors going toe-to-toe towards the back of the grid. Wehrlein was always in a compromised position, for his greater Formula 1 experience and assimilation within Manor meant the expectation was on him to grab the upper hand. Wehrlein duly kept Ocon at arm&rsquo;s length for much of their stint together, but in the rain-soaked Brazilian Grand Prix it was the Frenchman who shone, coming agonisingly close to the points, while Wehrlein trickled backwards through the order. Murmurs also persisted over Wehrlein&rsquo;s attitude, a situation accelerated when Ocon was signed by Force India on a multi-year deal.</p> <p>From Wehrlein&rsquo;s perspective it is understandable that he may feel slightly peeved at the situation. The manufacturer which has backed him for years has opted to sign a rival driver, his younger adversary has jumped into the midfield, while Williams opted to re-hire its retired driver (though this was down to sponsorship obligations and the desire to partner Lance Stroll with an experienced driver rather than a disparaging view of Wehrlein&rsquo;s ability).</p> <p>Yet Mercedes still has sufficient faith in Wehrlein to secure him a slot at Sauber, even with the presence of Ocon on the grid &ndash; an impressive sign of its belief in both drivers, considering Mercedes does not have the luxury of a Toro Rosso-style team.</p> <p>After missing out on a Force India seat and having the Mercedes carrot dangled and withdrawn, Wehrlein now has to recalibrate his mind and prove his worth at a backmarker team once more. Sauber is unlikely to propel itself up the Formula 1 grid in 2017. The team was starved of resources for several months and its financial injection came only last summer &ndash; in Formula 1, progress is often long-term. That&rsquo;s even before taking the team&rsquo;s decision to use year-old Ferrari power units into consideration. Sauber, it therefore must be noted, is only just beginning to see the green shoots of recovery after several challenging years. Anything other than 10th&nbsp;in this year&rsquo;s championship would represent a very good season for Sauber.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/Wehrlein%20and%20Ericsson%20(Custom).jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>Wehrlein will now be paired with Ericsson at Sauber</figcaption> </figure> <p>If this sounds like a bleak situation for Wehrlein, then it must be seen as an opportunity in which to prove himself. He is still in Formula 1. He has a chance to beat the vastly improved Marcus Ericsson, now into his third year with Sauber. Wehrlein can also exploit his experience with the 2017-sized tyres, having conducted the bulk of Mercedes&rsquo; testing during the latter half of 2016, in another show of faith by the manufacturer. Leading Sauber&rsquo;s charge will raise his stock and for 2018, who knows how the driver market may shake out?</p> <p>Not every driver can be a Max Verstappen. There&rsquo;s a reason why the &lsquo;once in a generation&rsquo; tag has been applied to him. Rapid promotions have burnt several drivers, including some of Wehrlein&rsquo;s counterparts on the grid. Daniil Kvyat was rushed to Red Bull prematurely. Romain Grosjean was picked up and spat out by Renault. Sergio P&eacute;rez endured a chastening experience with McLaren but has since flourished. Mercedes is savvy enough to realise that placing its rising star, raw but with currently unknown potential, alongside Hamilton, and straight into the thrust of a championship battle &ndash; with the pressure, media scrutiny, and sponsor commitments that come with it &ndash; it would be taking an unnecessary risk. Wehrlein&rsquo;s trajectory could still be infinitely upwards, or it could well plateau, and that is why Mercedes has struck the deal with Sauber for 2017. &nbsp;</p> <p>Wehrlein is likely to be at the opposite end of the grid to Mercedes, but if he builds on his potential and spearheads Sauber&rsquo;s challenge, then there&rsquo;s every reason to believe that he will still play a role with the Silver Arrows in the future.</p> <p style="text-align:center"><img alt="" height="440" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/Wehrlein%20boots.jpg" width="800" /></p> <div> <hr align="left" size="1" width="33%" /></div> approves Liberty Media's acquisition of Formula 1Wed, 18 Jan 2017 17:45:28 GMT<p><b>The FIA has approved the acquisition of Formula 1 by Liberty Media following an extraordinary&nbsp;meeting of the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) in Geneva on Wednesday.</b></p> <p>Liberty Media announced in September that it had agreed an $8 billion deal to purchase Delta Topco, Formula 1&#39;s parent company, and aimed for the deal to be completed during the first quarter of 2017.</p> <p>Following the approval of plans for the acquisition&nbsp;from Liberty shareholders on Tuesday, the FIA has now green lighted the deal, approving the sale of F1&#39;s commercial rights as required.</p> <p>&quot;The World Motor Sport Council has unanimously approved the change of control of Delta Topco Limited (the holding company of the Formula One Group and thus the owner of the Commercial Rights of the FIA Formula One World Championship) from CVC Capital Partners in favour of Liberty Media Corporation at an extraordinary meeting today in Geneva,&quot; a statement from the FIA reads.</p> <p>&quot;The transaction will see the transfer of 100% of the shares in Delta Topco to Liberty Media Group, one of the tracking stocks of Liberty Media Corporation.</p> <p>&quot;During the meeting, the representatives of the prospective new owner made a detailed presentation of their strategy. The members of the World Motor Sport Council then had the opportunity to ask questions about the specifics of the agreement, the ongoing working relationship with the FIA and Liberty&rsquo;s plans for the sport.</p> <p>&quot;Liberty, Formula One Group and the FIA intend to collaborate to create a constructive relationship that will ensure the continued success and the development of the FIA Formula One World Championship in the long term.</p> <p>&quot;The World Motor Sport Council&rsquo;s decision confirms the FIA&rsquo;s belief that Liberty, as a renowned media organisation with expertise in both sport and entertainment, is clearly well positioned to ensure the continued development of its pinnacle Championship.</p> <p>&quot;The FIA holds a one per cent shareholding in Delta Topco. As part of the sale by CVC to Liberty Media Corporation, and in line with the agreements between the FIA and the Formula One Group, the FIA will be dragged along in the sale process under the same conditions as CVC and all the other shareholders.</p> <p>&quot;The FIA looks forward to working with the new owners of the Formula One Group on further developing the unrivalled global spectacle that is the FIA Formula One World Championship for all stakeholders.&quot;</p> <p>Following the announcement, Liberty issued a statement of its own confirming receipt of the FIA&#39;s approval and its intention to complete the deal by the end of the month - a much shorter timespan than most expected.</p> <p>&quot;Liberty Media Corporation&nbsp;announced today that it has received the requisite consents and approvals from the F&eacute;d&eacute;ration Internationale de l&#39;Automobile (&quot;FIA&quot;), the governing body of Formula 1, in connection with its pending acquisition of Formula 1, and that the closing conditions related to the FIA have now been satisfied,&quot; it reads.</p> <p>&quot;The acquisition is expected to close this month.&quot;</p> Bottas 'as fast as Nico Rosberg' and can win championships - Niki LaudaWed, 18 Jan 2017 16:44:29 GMT<p><strong>Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda says Valtteri Bottas was the right choice to partner Lewis Hamilton, because the former-Williams driver is &quot;just as fast&quot; as current world champion Nico Rosberg, and capable of winning titles.</strong></p> <p>The Brackley-based outfit announced this week that Bottas would replace the retired Rosberg to become Hamilton&#39;s team-mate.</p> <p>Lauda, speaking to&nbsp;<em>RTL</em>, reckons Bottas ticks all the boxes Mercedes requires of a driver and is therefore the perfect candidate.</p> <p>&quot;We took Bottas because it was the best option,&quot; said the Austrian.&nbsp;&quot;He is a driver who can be just as fast as Nico and I think he can win the world championship.</p> <p><font>&quot;It was not easy to solve the problem of [losing] Rosberg, because we were looking for a driver who could do well in our team.</font></p> <p><font>&quot;So far we have always had the best two drivers who were both capable of fighting for the championship. The Nico/Lewis pairing is a good example, because they were two top drivers and fought head-to-head.&quot;</font></p> <p><font>Lauda says that will continue to be the case with Hamilton and Bottas and doesn&#39;t forsee any problems arising between the two.</font></p> <p><font>&quot;In the last three years we have won everything there was to win and that&#39;s why we involved Bottas, who brings experience and speed to the team. </font></p> <p><font>&quot;We can start the season very quietly and safely with these two drivers,&quot; he added.</font></p> <p><font>&quot;Bottas is&nbsp;Finnish, he is calm, doesn&#39;t talk much, but works hard and I am sure that he will fit perfectly in the team and will not have any problems with Hamilton.&quot;</font></p> Villeneuve feels modern F1 drivers lack respectWed, 18 Jan 2017 15:36:42 GMT<p><strong>Jacques Villeneuve believe modern Formula 1 drivers lack the on-track respect compared to the era in which his father, Gilles, raced.</strong></p> <p>Gilles Villeneuve competed in the series from 1977 to 1982 and was killed following an incident at the Belgian Grand Prix 25 years ago.</p> <p>Villeneuve, who took the 1997 crown, feels the higher risk led to more respect on-track between racers while battling wheel-to-wheel and believes it is an aspect 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> 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 in 2006 before adopting a chrome design for the remainder of the year.</p> <p>However, Brown has confirmed that the team is poised to change direction with its livery after sticking to a predominantly black design for the past two seasons following the arrival of power unit 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> 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 [Verstappen] and Daniel [Ricciardo], 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> 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> 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> 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> 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> 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> 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> 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="">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="">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> 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="">Pascal Wehrlein&rsquo;s Sauber move</a> and <a href="">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="">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> 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> 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="">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> 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> 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="">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> 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> 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> 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="">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="" target="_blank"><img src="/admin/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Magazine/click-to-read.png" width="100%"></a></p> 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> 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> 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="" 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=";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="">Autosport</a></em><a href="" 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="" 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="" 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> 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="">#AllCrashTestsPassed</a> <a href="">#WellDoneTeam</a> 🙌🏼👍🏼💪🏼🍾✅ <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Toro Rosso (@ToroRossoSpy) <a href="">January 13, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script> 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> 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> 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> 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> 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> 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> 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> 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> 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> 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> 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> 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> 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> 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="" /></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="" /></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="" /></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="" /></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="" /></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="" /></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="" /></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="" /></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="" /></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="" /></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="" /></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="" /></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="" /></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="" /></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="" /></p> <p><b>Kris Meeke (GBR)</b></p> <p>Six years ago when he was still fighting to establish himself on the global rallying 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> 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> 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> 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></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> 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="">#F1</a> season is still 10 weeks away... 😣<br /> Longing for the new season with <a href="">@DanielRicciardo</a> and <a href="">@Max33Verstappen</a>!🏁 <a href="">#BoredDrivers</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) <a href="">January 9, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" 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> 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> 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> 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="">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> 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> 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> 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> 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> 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> 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> 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="">Renault to debut &#39;aggressive&#39; new engine concept for 2017 season</a></strong></p>, 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> 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> 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> 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> 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> 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> 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> 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> 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> 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="">McLaren fires up 2016 Honda power unit for the first time</a>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><img alt="" src="" 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="">Next year&#39;s McLaren &#39;looks very aggressive&#39; - Stoffel Vandoorne</a></strong></p> <p><img alt="" src="" 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="">Lewis Hamilton approaching Charlie Whiting directly was &#39;regrettable&#39;</a></strong></p> <p><img alt="" src="" 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="">Niki Lauda: &#39;Half the grid&#39; have been in contact with Mercedes</a></strong></p> <p><img alt="" src="" 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="">Sepang tweaks will make circuit quicker and more challenging</a></strong></p> <p><img alt="" src="" 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="">Fernando Alonso wants a return to &#39;extreme&#39; Formula 1 cars in 2017</a></strong></p> <p><img alt="" src="" 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="">Honda: &#39;Next year we&#39;re aiming to match the Mercedes engine&#39;</a></strong></p> <p><img alt="" src="" 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="">Teams want immediate talks over next generation engine</a></strong></p> <p><img alt="" src="" 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="">Sauber says Haas approach to Formula 1 not the &#39;right way&#39;</a></strong></p> <p><img alt="" src="" 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="">Niki Lauda annoyed that Nico Rosberg has left Mercedes looking &#39;stupid&#39;</a></strong></p> <p><img alt="" src="" 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> Ricciardo confident he would beat Lewis Hamilton in the same carFri, 30 Dec 2016 18:09:32 GMT<p><strong>Red Bull&#39;s Daniel Ricciardo says he is confident he would beat three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton if he found himself paired with the Briton in the same machinery.</strong></p> <p>Ricciardo is currently up against the highly-rated Max Verstappen at Red Bull and the pair were evenly matched throughout 2016, with the Australian finishing ahead on points &ndash; in part thanks to Verstappen&#39;s mid-season promotion from Toro Rosso.</p> <p>However Ricciardo says he would love to be Hamilton&#39;s team-mate in the future and reckons he would come out on top.</p> <p>&quot;Absolutely,&quot; he told <em>The Age</em>&nbsp;when asked if he could beat Hamilton.&nbsp;&quot;It&#39;s something that I&#39;ve been asked a few times &ndash;&nbsp;who would you love as a team-mate and all that &ndash;&nbsp;and Lewis was one that I was always saying.</p> <p>&quot;Obviously I think that he is massively talented and...I think we would have a good fight, and, yeah, I&#39;d have confidence that I could get the job done.&quot;</p> <p>The 27-year-old says he has a good relationship with Hamilton, despite the Briton&#39;s preference of keeping to himself during race weekends.</p> <p>&quot;He&#39;s never had anything bad to say about me. He&#39;s always been nice to me, but sure he has days where he likes to keep to himself,&quot; he added.</p> <p>&quot;Some days we&#39;ll chat and other days we won&#39;t and that&#39;s just that. But at the same time, it&#39;s, sure I&#39;ve made a few friends in the sport, but it&#39;s not our primary purpose of being here.&quot;</p> <p>Meanwhile Ricciardo says he&#39;s been preparing for 2017 by winding down and forgetting about Formula 1, unlike his team-mate Verstappen who has spent a lot of his down-time go-karting to remain &#39;race sharp&#39;.</p> <p>&quot;Don&#39;t get me wrong I like go-karting but I also like doing other things,&quot; he said. &quot;I think it has been one my strengths in a way being able to switch off. I don&#39;t really go to sleep at night thinking about racing or anything.</p> <p>&quot;You know some people say you should live and breathe the sport, but I tend to disagree with that. You need to actually have other things going on to take your mind off it, otherwise it will just wear you out. I think in the long run it will give me more longevity in the sport and keep my enjoyment up in it.&quot;</p> Stewart says Formula 1 needs more 'incidents, failures and accidents'Thu, 29 Dec 2016 16:09:28 GMT<p><strong>Three-time British Formula 1 world champion Sir Jackie Stewart says the 2016 season was &quot;not very interesting&quot; bar Max Verstappen&#39;s accomplishments.</strong></p> <p>Stewart claims the sport has very few personalities and therefore Verstappen&#39;s success is a welcome surprise.</p> <p>&quot;Lewis Hamilton is a kind of modern hero, [Sebastian]&nbsp;Vettel is a quiet hero,&quot; he told Swiss newspaper&nbsp;<em>Blick</em>.&nbsp;&quot;And [Kimi]&nbsp;Raikkonen is perhaps even more popular than those two, although he barely says anything or perhaps he&#39;s popular precisely because of it!</p> <p>&quot;Verstappen reminds me of the first races of Mario Andretti, Jochen Rindt and Francois Cevert. They all managed to shake things up.</p> <p>&quot;Other than Verstappen&#39;s breakthrough, it was not a very interesting season,&quot; he claimed.</p> <p>Stewart says F1 is missing key ingredients which are needed to keep fans interested.</p> <p>&quot;It&#39;s&nbsp;missing excitement, incidents, failures and accidents,&quot; he said.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Don&#39;t get me wrong, nobody wants to see a driver crash but you want some excitement. In my day that was the case, but unfortunately many of my rivals paid the ultimate price for that.&quot;</p> Bull managing internal driver rivalry 'really well' claims Daniel RicciardoThu, 29 Dec 2016 15:54:15 GMT<p><strong>Red Bull&#39;s Daniel Ricciardo believes his team have done a great job so far in managing the internal driver rivalry between him and team-mate Max Verstappen.</strong></p> <p>Often when a team is fighting for race wins and has two capable drivers, the tension can boil over and begin to have a negative effect on the team itself, as has happened so many times in the past.</p> <p>Mercedes&#39; Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were very close prior to their time at Mercedes, but their relationship turned sour as soon as they were in contention for race wins and now the pair hardly speak to one another.</p> <p>But Ricciardo believes as long as Red Bull continue to let their drivers fight fairly and with equal equipment, their harmonious relationship can continue as long as they&#39;re team-mates.</p> <p>&quot;So far Red Bull have done it really well, I think,&quot; the Australian told&nbsp;<em>Motorsport.</em></p> <p>&quot;If we qualify alongside each other then they say, &#39;Just be careful at the first corner, don&#39;t ruin each other&#39;s races,&#39; but beyond that we&#39;re allowed to race, and fight hard and battle &ndash;&nbsp;but not make contact.</p> <p>&quot;We can defend and attack like we&#39;re with any other competitor...but just with that extra percentage of respect knowing that if we damage each other, then we&#39;re letting down six or seven-hundred people who work for the team.&quot;</p> <p>That approach is, according to Ricciardo, the best way to manage two highly-competitive drivers.</p> <p>&quot;I think Red Bull have the balance good.&nbsp;So I think that&#39;s been the right approach and they should keep doing that.&quot;</p> president insists a budget cap won't work in Formula 1Thu, 29 Dec 2016 15:40:33 GMT<p><strong>Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne insists a budget cap in Formula 1 wouldn&#39;t work, despite Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost&#39;s recent comments suggesting it would be easy to police and must happen in the future.</strong></p> <p>The FIA have&nbsp;tried several times &ndash; unsuccessfully &ndash; to introduce a cost cap, but the various proposals have come up against strong opposition from the leading teams, although the majority of the smaller outfits back the idea.</p> <p><a href="">Tost recently said costs were becoming &quot;unfeasible&quot;</a> and that every team is&nbsp;spending&nbsp;&quot;way too much money&quot; in pursuit of success.</p> <p>His suggestion that a budget cap is the way forward isn&#39;t shared by Marchionne, who believes Formula 1 will always demand huge development budgets.</p> <p>&quot;The reality is Formula 1 is an extremely expensive sport,&quot; he told&nbsp;<em>The Sun&nbsp;</em>newspaper.</p> <p>&quot;There are factory teams from Renault to Mercedes, big companies that can concentrate on development in a broader way, and this, for costs, becomes very dangerous.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;I accept the goal of reducing costs but much depends on us and how we adapt to these demands. But I don&#39;t believe a budget cap can work.&quot;</p> <p>The Ferrari and Fiat-Chrysler boss says recent moves by the FIA to reduce costs &ndash; by limiting development on key areas such as gearboxes, engines and wind tunnel time &ndash; hasn&#39;t saved Ferrari any money as top teams will always find other areas to spend their money.</p> <p>&quot;When I look at old reports &mdash; ten years and even further back &mdash; I deduce that Ferrari has never held back when it comes to spending,&quot; he added. &quot;Despite all these interventions by the FIA to try to limit spending, the teams have found other ways to spend.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;This is the old problem for all those who try to impose limits on car development: if areas are left open, spending concentrates in this area.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;If I look at the last four of five years, we haven&#39;t saved a euro, we have simply redistributed our spending to other areas.</p> <p>&quot;In principle it&#39;s [a budget cap] very noble but, then, the effect never gives the necessary results.&quot;</p> We won't leapfrog the F1 midfield in 2017Wed, 28 Dec 2016 17:17:03 GMT<p><strong>Renault is not expecting to move out of the midfield Formula 1 fight in 2017, according to team principal Frederic Vasseur.</strong></p> <p>Having taken over Lotus at the end of 2015, Renault suffered a difficult year of recovery in 2016 with Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer.</p> <p>Focus throughout the season was on building the team back up and expanding it, with steady progress being made.</p> <p>Despite <a href="">several key hiring&rsquo;s</a> recently, Vasseuer doesn&rsquo;t believe it will be enough to move the team significantly up the order in 2017.</p> <p>&ldquo;2017 is a fantastic opportunity for us to take a significant step forward for many reasons,&rdquo; he is quoted as saying by <a href=""><em>Racer</em></a>.</p> <p>&ldquo;The change of regulations could mean quite a shakeup in the order of relative competitiveness, plus the fruits of our expansion will be ramping up.</p> <p>&ldquo;We made an early start to developing next year&#39;s car with this in mind.</p> <p>&ldquo;Whilst 2017 should see a good step forward, we are realistic in our expectations as we know that we won&#39;t leapfrog the midfield in a single season. However we are all pushing for a big improvement in competitiveness.&rdquo;</p> <p>Looking ahead to 2017, with Renault fielding Nico Hulkenberg and Palmer, Vasseuer added: &ldquo;Next year promises a fantastic show.</p> <p>&ldquo;The cars will be faster and more aggressive-looking. The tires will be wide. The action will be tremendously exciting. We certainly expect to be in the thick of it from the very beginning.&rdquo;</p> Alonso rates 2012 as best F1 season, places 2016 thirdWed, 28 Dec 2016 17:11:21 GMT<p><strong>McLaren driver Fernando Alonso says he rates the 2012 Formula 1 season as his best yet, putting 2016 in third place.</strong></p> <p>The Spaniard doesn&rsquo;t place either of his title-winning seasons in 2005 and 2006 in the top three. Following his success with Renault (and one controversial season at McLaren), he moved to Ferrari for 2010.</p> <p>Over the next five seasons Alonso finished runner-up three times, including in 2012 &ndash; where he won three races and scored nine further podiums.</p> <p>He places 2012 as his best season, with 2014 in second and the latest F1 season (where he finished 10<sup>th</sup> overall for McLaren) in third.</p> <p>&ldquo;2012 is probably my best season in Formula One,&rdquo; he is quoted saying by <a href=""><em>F1i</em></a>. &ldquo;Then it could be 2014 my second best.</p> <p>&ldquo;Then probably this one will be on the final step of the podium so far. I felt very confident in the car in every condition. Even the last 10 laps in Brazil [in the wet] I felt really competitive with 40-lap old tyres, things like that.</p> <p>&ldquo;That confidence in the car gave me the opportunity to drive at the limit on many occasions. Jenson is an incredible driver.</p> <p>&ldquo;Last year I experienced that and saw that and this year I was able to be in front of him many, many times.</p> <p>&ldquo;Even in qualifying we are 13-5, or something like that, but in three qualifyings I didn&rsquo;t participate because I had the penalty already with the engine and so I did only Q1. So, that [difference] could be even higher than that.</p> <p>&ldquo;I consider this year on a very high standard from my driving part of view. So happy with the things that we&rsquo;ve done, happy with the progress of the team as well, so a completely different taste&hellip; Twelve months ago we were disappointed, but sad, many things were going on in our heads last year.</p> <p>&ldquo;Instead this year everything is optimistic and everything is joy. We know there is still a long way to go to become champions, but the feeling is a lot happier than last year.&rdquo;</p> Rosso in talks with sponsor to rebrand Renault power unitWed, 28 Dec 2016 16:38:40 GMT<p><strong>Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost says the Italian outfit is in talks with a sponsor to rebrand its Renault power unit in 2017.</strong></p> <p>It would be a similar deal to the one Red Bull currently has, after it tried to find a new power unit supplier but had to go back to Renault.</p> <p>The French engine manufacturer agreed a deal with Red Bull, so the power units were re-badged TAG Heuer.</p> <p>Toro Rosso ran year-old Ferrari engines last year but is switching across to Renault in 2017.</p> <p>Tost told <em>Gazzetta dello Sport</em> Toro Rosso is looking into going down a similar path to Red Bull and picking up a new sponsor to rebrand its Renault engines after.</p> <p>&ldquo;We have the possibility to find a title sponsor to rebrand our 2017 engine, as Red Bull did last year,&rdquo; he explained.</p> <p>&ldquo;We&#39;re in talks with a sponsor.&rdquo;</p> <p>Tost added that the team&rsquo;s preparations for 2017 are going well, with the car already passing crash tests. It is set to run at a filming day prior to pre-season testing.</p> <p><em>&ldquo;</em>We&#39;re respecting the road map,&rdquo; he explained about the Toro Rosso STR12.</p> <p>&ldquo;We did crash tests and we&#39;ll do a filming day with the new car before the start of the winter test at Barcelona.&rdquo;</p> Hulkenberg fully expects Renault to struggle in 2017Tue, 27 Dec 2016 16:14:53 GMT<p><strong>Nico Hulkenberg isn&#39;t expecting miracles in 2017 and says he fully expects Renault to struggle as it continues to build up its team in only its second season since it returned to the sport as a works manufacturer.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Renault took over the struggling Lotus team at the end of 2015 and used 2016 as restructuring season, but that work is ongoing with several technical signings recently&nbsp;as well as substantially&nbsp;increasing the size of its factory in Enstone.</p> <p>Hulkenberg, who joins Renault from Force India &ndash; which is enjoying a strong run of form lately &ndash; fully expects the Anglo-French team to struggle next year as it continues to build up its facilities before making a mark on the championship.</p> <p>&quot;I think next year is still a build-up year,&quot; said the German. &quot;You have to be realistic, this year they came from a pretty difficult year.</p> <p>&quot;When they bought the team last year they were in a very tricky situation, especially at the beginning of the season, and didn&#39;t really do much in terms of development with this car.</p> <p>&quot;I hope that next year it is a little bit better already, but [I] don&#39;t expect them to be inside the top six straight away, even the top 10 is probably going to be challenging.&quot;</p> <p>Hulkenberg made it clear that he is involved long-term and isn&#39;t therefore worried if the results he wants don&#39;t materalise immediately.</p> <p>&quot;These things take time, to build the infrastructure back up, get good people onboard and develop the car.&quot;</p> Tost: Claims budget cap can't be enforced are 'nonsense'Sat, 24 Dec 2016 20:24:37 GMT<p><strong>Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost has warned that spending in Formula 1 cannot continue&nbsp;at current rates and says claims a budget cap can&#39;t be enforced are &quot;nonsense&quot;.</strong></p> <p>There have been several attempts to introduce a cost cap, but all have failed, with the top teams staunchly against the idea.</p> <p>When former FIA president Max Mosley attempted to introduce a $100 million spending cap in 2009, it led to the top teams to threaten to start a breakaway series. The FIA backed down and the idea was scrapped.</p> <p>Warnings that such a cap couldn&#39;t be policed by the FIA have been rubbished by Tost who is firmly in favour of reducing costs.</p> <p>&quot;We need to reduce the costs,&quot; he&nbsp;told the&nbsp;<em>Tiroler Tageszeitung&nbsp;</em>publication. &quot;It shouldn&#39;t be that a team spends &euro;450 million a year. On the other hand, we bargain for a few cents when it comes to road cars.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Even the manufacturers cannot accept sums like this forever. It&#39;s not feasible. We spend&nbsp;way too much money in&nbsp;F1.&quot;</p> <p>Tost suggests the FIA could quite easily keep&nbsp;track of who has spent what if it takes a tough stance on the matter.</p> <p>&quot;Give each team, for example, &euro;150 million with the FIA watching over it.&nbsp;The big teams will cry foul that there is no way to control costs but this is nonsense. Over at Toro Rosso, I know how much each screw costs.</p> <p>&quot;Many claim you cannot control development, that&#39;s nonsense as well. If somebody didn&#39;t want to publish their expenditures, it could be pretty easy, then the FIA could charge this team twice the average price of the part in question.&nbsp;And then you&#39;ll see how fast all invoices would be filed with the FIA.&quot;</p> the Rosbergs have come full circleSat, 24 Dec 2016 10:03:30 GMT<p><strong>History doesn&rsquo;t repeat itself but it often rhymes, as Mark Twain probably didn&rsquo;t say.</strong></p> <p>Whatever the phrase&rsquo;s authorship, its sentiment applies to F1. That pursuit loves its echoes and parallels in its previous. And it occurred to me for the latest time recently, somewhere in among all of our lather, when Nico Rosberg surprised us all and not least his Mercedes bosses by announcing his retirement with pronto effect but five days after clinching his world championship crown in Abu Dhabi.</p> <p>Indeed this particular historical parallel went beyond just being that, to the point of being almost precisely cyclical.</p> <p>Of course, little is new in F1 and perhaps for the closest previous example to Nico&rsquo;s shock decision we need to go back to Monza in September 1981. Then, a Williams seat was <em>the</em> one to covet. The team the preceding year had won the world championship double and it looked well on the way that year to bagging another. But that weekend the atmosphere in the pit seemed distinctly frosty.</p> <blockquote> <p>Then as with Nico now the problem [with Alan Jones&#39; retirement] was not so much the decision but its timing. Then as now it was late. Then as now the champion squad had few options as a result.</p> </blockquote> <p>Perhaps, most thought, it was due to that Alan Jones &ndash; its world champion driver who had been integral in the team&rsquo;s rise &ndash; had turned up to the royal park with a broken finger, the result of an altercation with some burly gentlemen on the Chiswick High Road in a road rage incident.</p> <p>That may have been part of the explanation, but it was not it transpired the main factor. We found that out around a week later, when it was announced that Jones in Italy had dropped a bombshell on Frank Williams by telling him that he intended to retire at the year&rsquo;s end.</p> <p>And then as with Nico now the problem was not so much the decision but its timing. Then as now it was late, when the drivers at the top of the team&rsquo;s probable replacement wish list had long been put under contractual lock and key elsewhere for the following season. Then as now the champion squad had few options as a result.</p> <p>&ldquo;I know I should have done it earlier&rdquo; admitted Jones. &ldquo;Problem was, every time I&rsquo;d pick up the &lsquo;phone to tell him, I&rsquo;d get butterflies and hang up! It wasn&rsquo;t that I was scared of facing the wrath of Frank, but because I just didn&rsquo;t want to face the decision.&rdquo;</p> <p>Frank reflected later that &ldquo;Alan&rsquo;s indecisiveness always amazed me. In a car he was incredibly positive, but out of it just the opposite.&rdquo;</p> <p>Jones confessed also that his resolution, to quit Europe and return to Australia, was taken rather on a whim.</p> <blockquote> <p>Yet this similarity with Jones&#39; late-in-the-day departure&nbsp;is mere part of the neat cyclical nature with Nico&rsquo;s case. As in addition the man who then got his big break after it all shook out was a certain Keke Rosberg. Nico&#39;s father.</p> </blockquote> <p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s exactly what it turned out to be,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It was my boy&rsquo;s birthday on the Monday. We all had party hats on and everything &ndash; and then it started to piss down! We had to go inside, and I thought, &lsquo;Oh, bugger it, at least if we were in Australia now we could stay outside&hellip;&rsquo;&rdquo;</p> <p>Yet this similarity is mere part of the neat cyclical nature with Nico&rsquo;s case. As in addition the man who got his big break from Jones&rsquo; late-in-the-day departure after it all shook out was a certain Keke Rosberg. Nico&rsquo;s father, and of course the pair recently became only the second father-son F1 world champion combination. In many ways therefore Nico&rsquo;s decision to walk at a moment&rsquo;s notice having achieved his big ambition brought the Rosbergs&rsquo; story a neat full circle.</p> <p>As <a href="" target="_blank">outlined eloquently by Paul Fearnley</a> recently though, beyond either Rosberg having a fine driving talent this apple fell rather far from the tree &ndash; in and out of the car. We know what they say about Nico &ndash; that he&rsquo;s reserved, polished, polite. Keke however was anything but &ndash; flashy, ebullient, unruly. Also we know what they say about Nico being intelligent and analytical, yet while Keke didn&rsquo;t lack these things he was much more the freehand artist &ndash; all oversteering flamboyance and very much a raw racer. If Nico was at his weakest when variables were thrown in Keke in such circumstances was at his most formidable, witnessed quintessentially when he triumphed on Dallas&rsquo;s crumbling track in 1984.</p> <blockquote> <p>Beyond either Rosberg having a fine driving talent this apple fell rather far from the tree &ndash; in and out of the car. We know what they say about Nico &ndash; that he&rsquo;s reserved, polished, polite. Keke however was anything but &ndash; flashy, ebullient, unruly.</p> </blockquote> <p>But like Nico his route to the top had been haphazard. Keke&rsquo;s journey in some ways wasn&rsquo;t quite as long &ndash; let&rsquo;s not forget that Nico had been in F1 for upwards of six years before he even got his first win &ndash; yet he more than made up for it in nomadism.</p> <p>&ldquo;I set certain standards for myself&rdquo; reflected Keke. &ldquo;I always insisted on living well, for example, I never throughout my career was prepared to live in a tent just to drive racing cars. I had to make a decent living.&rdquo;</p> <p>Laudable in some ways, but in the immediate term its consequence was driving in Super Vees in 1974 and &rsquo;75 rather than the more standard but also more hand-to-mouth F3, and it likely contributed to him not getting onto F1&rsquo;s radar as quickly as he might. He then joined Fred Opert&rsquo;s team, but it didn&rsquo;t get easier. On the contrary come 1978 his itinerary beggared belief.</p> <p>&ldquo;I had no money, Fred had no money, but I still had to be paid,&rdquo; Keke reminisced. &ldquo;In order to be able to afford me, Fred had to enter me for every race that was open to us. Wherever there was a race in the whole world &ndash; Formula Pacific in New Zealand, Formula Atlantic in North America, or Formula 2 in Europe &ndash; there was Fred Opert and Rosberg.&rdquo;</p> <p>Compounding it Keke also that year made his F1 bow, at the ripe old age of 29. Unlike Nico though he didn&rsquo;t then have to wait long for his first F1 race triumph, only to his second go indeed, albeit it was in a non-championship event. In the 1978 Silverstone International Trophy in conditions more suitable for power boating he kept his tank-like Theodore on the island on a day that virtually all others fell off. The win didn&rsquo;t open doors for him however, as Keke spent the season&rsquo;s remainder almost literally batting between the Theodore and ATS teams &ndash; having two spells with either but spending virtually the whole time at the back or not qualifying at all.</p> <blockquote> <p>&ldquo;In 1978 I did a total of 41 races in 36 weekends. For a whole year I didn&rsquo;t get a proper meal. I <em>lived</em> on aeroplanes&rdquo; - Keke Rosberg</p> </blockquote> <p>&ldquo;In 1978 I did a total of 41 races in 36 weekends,&rdquo; added Keke. &ldquo;For a whole year I didn&rsquo;t get a proper meal. I <em>lived</em> on aeroplanes.&rdquo;</p> <p>He didn&rsquo;t become a permanent member of the F1 fraternity until mid-1979, as when James Hunt walked suddenly from Wolf and the sport Keke was chosen as his replacement. The Wolf race wins of two years previously may as well have been in another age though, as the team by then was running out of money &ndash; Walter Wolf&rsquo;s other businesses weren&rsquo;t doing well &ndash; and the car was off the pace. That Wolf&rsquo;s former and rather ruthlessly-discarded employee Frank Williams was rocketing to prominence at the same time presumably didn&rsquo;t improve Walter&rsquo;s mood.</p> <p>The Austrian-Canadian indeed quit F1 at end of the year, and what remained of his team &ndash; including Keke &ndash; was merged with the similarly-flailing Fittipaldi squad for 1980. Yet despite some impressive personnel (including Peter Warr, Harvey Postlethwaite and a young Adrian Newey) this was another team that by now lacked money and resources, and the best Keke could do was a third place which owed a lot to attrition in the season-opener in Argentina, and fifth in Italy.</p> <p>&ldquo;But he never stopped trying&rdquo; Alan Henry noted of Keke. &ldquo;Even when he failed to qualify for the 1980 British GP at Brands Hatch he tried so desperately hard that he had a blinding headache for a week.&rdquo;</p> <p>The man himself was convinced of his driving quality; that he simply was waiting for a car to do him justice. Not everyone was so taken though: &ldquo;Keke Rosberg has been a disappointment&rdquo; said Maurice Hamilton at the end of his 1979 half-season at Wolf. &ldquo;No one doubts his incredible car control and bubbling enthusiasm but the Finn made no apparent effort to tailor his ragged style to the flowing lines required by present day Grand Prix racing.&rdquo;</p> <p>Keke retorted to such jibes some years later with typical assurance though. &ldquo;Until somebody can prove to me that my way&rsquo;s wrong, I&rsquo;ll keep doing it my way, thank you!&rdquo;</p> <p>By 1981 the lack of money at Fittipaldi was getting critical and Keke didn&rsquo;t qualify for four of the last six races, while in one of the other two Fittipaldi didn&rsquo;t even show up due to not being able to afford engines. Emerson was often paying Keke out of his own pocket.</p> <blockquote> <p>&ldquo;I couldn&rsquo;t see any point in going on with them, so I&rsquo;ve quit [Fittipaldi]. No I&rsquo;ve nothing else to go to. I just want it to be known that I&rsquo;ve left, and if anyone&rsquo;s interested I&rsquo;m available&rdquo; - Keke Rosberg at the end of 1981</p> </blockquote> <p>&ldquo;That was a hellish season for me, 1981&rdquo;, Keke reminisced some time later. &ldquo;Everything was wrong&hellip;&rdquo;</p> <p>And at the year&rsquo;s end it all reached its rather inevitable conclusion. &ldquo;I couldn&rsquo;t see any point in going on with them, so I&rsquo;ve quit,&rdquo; Keke said on the phone to journalist Nigel Roebuck. &ldquo;No I&rsquo;ve nothing else to go to. I just want it to be known that I&rsquo;ve left, and if anyone&rsquo;s interested I&rsquo;m available.&rdquo;</p> <p>It sounded like an F1 career death rattle, and many assumed it was.</p> <p>As outlined Williams at around the same point was having problems of its own, and quickly they got even worse as its other driver Carlos Reutemann after his humiliating loss of the title in the final 1981 round disappeared back to Argentina saying <em>he</em> was going to retire too. Frank still thought he could get Jones and Reutemann to reverse their decisions (and in the latter case he succeeded after in Peter Windsor words &ldquo;a lot of persuading&rdquo;, albeit briefly as Lole walked for good after only two 1982 rounds), but the 23 January date for the opening race &ndash; not an unusual season-opening slot at the time &ndash; was approaching fast and the champion squad of the previous two seasons had literally no one to drive for it. And underlining the abnormality the team turned to the 33 year old Keke who had but six world championship points to his name ever.</p> <p>But even that wasn&rsquo;t quite as it may seem on the surface. While Keke was invited to Paul Ricard to drive for Williams in a test it was, in Maurice Hamilton&rsquo;s words, &ldquo;almost as an afterthought&rdquo;.</p> <p>The team&rsquo;s technical chief Patrick Head takes up the story: &ldquo;At the end of 1981 we had some bits we wanted to test and we were wondering who we could get to drive the car. I don&rsquo;t really think we thought, &lsquo;Let&rsquo;s give Keke Rosberg a run and we&rsquo;ll decide whether he can race for us&rsquo;. We thought, &lsquo;He&rsquo;s the best Formula 1 driver we can get to test for us&rsquo;. I think Frank still thought he could get Carlos back and then he could ease Alan out of retirement.&rdquo;</p> <blockquote> <p>&quot;Charlie Crichton-Stuart and Frank Dernie went to Ricard [for the test]. They rang up saying, &lsquo;This guy&rsquo;s really good. He&rsquo;s not just your average; he&rsquo;s something pretty special.&rsquo; So more or less on the say of Frank Dernie and Charlie, we signed up Keke for 1982&quot; - Patrick Head</p> </blockquote> <p>And the Williams kingpins of Frank and Patrick weren&rsquo;t even present in southern France. But no matter.</p> <p>&ldquo;I was working on the FW08,&rdquo; Head went on, &ldquo;so Charlie Crichton-Stuart and Frank Dernie went to Ricard. They rang up saying, &lsquo;This guy&rsquo;s really good. He&rsquo;s not just your average; he&rsquo;s something pretty special.&rsquo; So more or less on the say of Frank Dernie and Charlie, we signed up Keke for 1982.&rdquo;</p> <p>Keke elaborated. &ldquo;They put qualifying tyres on the car and, without warming it up, they said get in and see what you can do! Frank sometimes made strange decisions and this was one of them. I came from nowhere, did this test, and he signed me up more or less straight away.&rdquo;</p> <p>And completing the symmetry with Nico now, while Nico followed his world championship with an immediate retirement, Keke immediately followed his opportunity brought about by an immediate retirement with a world championship.</p> <blockquote> <p>Completing the symmetry with Nico now, while Nico followed his world championship with an immediate retirement, Keke immediately followed his opportunity brought about by an immediate retirement with a world championship.</p> </blockquote> <p>That was in 1982, an extraordinary season that has gone into folklore. One that touched all extremes. &ldquo;It was an ugly year, pock-marked by tragedy, by dissension, by greed,&rdquo; noted Roebuck, &ldquo;and yet, paradoxically, it produced some of the most memorable racing ever seen.&rdquo;</p> <p>Its numbers pay testament. Keke&rsquo;s championship win points total was at a mere 44 the lowest since 1964 &ndash; which had six fewer races. There were 11 different winners (from seven different constructors) from 16 rounds. No one won more than two; Keke won only one. With four races to go it was still mathematically possible for <em>17</em> drivers to win the title.</p> <p>Adding to the parallels with Nico 34 years on Keke even in his triumphant campaign also had to contend with doubts over how good he was, as well as rather absurd debates around whether his title was a deserving one. Oddly too some of the most audible catcalls came actually from his team boss&hellip;</p> <p>Keke was a front-runner immediately, but early in the year didn&rsquo;t score as many points as he should. Sometimes it wasn&rsquo;t his fault, such as when he was &ldquo;robbed&rdquo; (Keke&rsquo;s words) of six points won in Brazil by a controversial technical disqualification. In some races though he didn&rsquo;t look after his tyres well and he binned it in Monaco. After the Detroit round though, wherein Keke again led but was slowed by brake and gearbox problems and overwhelmed by rivals on Michelin tyres far superior to his Goodyears, Frank Williams was rumoured in the press to have uttered: &ldquo;I need a driver who can <em>win</em> races&rdquo;.</p> <blockquote> <p><span new="" roman="" style="font-family: Georgia, Times, " times="">Adding to the parallels with Nico 34 years on Keke even in his triumphant campaign also had to contend with doubts over how good he was. Some of the most audible catcalls came actually from his team boss&hellip;</span></p> </blockquote> <p>Keke&rsquo;s response was typically non-conciliatory. &ldquo;I believe that if Frank feels that way, then he should come and speak to me himself. Whatever rubbish appears under his name is his business.&rdquo;</p> <p>Whatever was the case though it was clear driver and boss were rather chafing against each other. Keke smoked, which was another thing that Frank criticised him for, and Frank said also that Keke didn&rsquo;t do enough exercise. It got yet more testy when Frank was asked why Keke had a few tank-slappers on the opening laps of races, Frank hypothesised that it was because he was &ldquo;not physically strong enough to handle the car&rdquo;.</p> <p>Keke was incandescent at this. &ldquo;That was total rubbish,&rdquo; he thundered. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m still as strong as anyone in GP racing. I won Dijon because I raced to the bitter end: I nearly won in Austria for the same reason. I&rsquo;m not one who faints after a race. And that story only got out because of a misunderstanding by someone who&rsquo;d been fed bad information.&rdquo;</p> <p>He mused a while later on his time at the team, likely getting to the crux: &ldquo;I felt they never really forgave me for not being Alan Jones...&rdquo;</p> <p>This, plus the modest numbers from Keke&rsquo;s title campaign already cited, gave ammunition to his detractors. Granted had either Ferrari pilot been able to complete the season they likely would have won the championship instead. Renault almost certainly would have triumphed had its car been even halfway reliable. Yet the solitary win shouldn&rsquo;t mislead you &ndash; Keke was no cruise and collect driver, and wasn&rsquo;t in 1982, where he attacked everywhere. While the FW08 &ndash; even ignoring that its Cosworth engine was by now being overwhelmed by its new turbo rivals &ndash; also likely wasn&rsquo;t in the class of previous Williams, being as it was possessed of rather a narrow sweet spot. Keke probably made it look better than it was.</p> <p>Just as with Nico the arguments proved moot as the history books are incontestable on who won out in the end. And as will hopefully be the case with Nico, Keke is judged by history much more sympathetically than was the case in some of the judgement he got at the time.</p> Driver Academy signs Emerson Fittipaldi's grandsonFri, 23 Dec 2016 21:18:49 GMT<p><strong>The Ferrari Driver Academy (FDA) has added two new juniors to its programme for 2017, including&nbsp;Enzo Fittipaldi, grandson of 1972 and 1974 Formula 1 champion Emerson, as well as&nbsp;New Zealand&#39;s Marcus Armstrong.</strong></p> <p>The pair took part in an evaluation test day at Fiorano in November and impressed Ferrari.</p> <p>15-year-old Fittipaldi made his motorsport debut this year in the&nbsp;Ginetta Junior Championship, finishing 18th overall&nbsp;with a best finish of eighth place at Croft Circuit with Douglas Motorsport.</p> <p>The Brazilian has also participated in various karting championships in the United States, including the Rotax Grand Nationals Micromax and the Florida Winter Tour in 2015.</p> <p>Armstrong, 16-years-old, has spent the last two years racing in the European Karting Series as well as outings in both&nbsp;Formula Renault 2.0 and BRDC F3.</p> <p>The two youngsters join existing FDA recruitsCharles Leclerc, Antonio Fuoco, Giuliano Alesi and Guan Yu Zhou.</p> Latifi hoping to increase involvement with F1 team in 2017Fri, 23 Dec 2016 12:13:29 GMT<p><strong>GP2 driver Nicholas Latifi says he is hoping to increase his involvement with the Renault Formula 1 team in 2017.</strong></p> <p>He joined Renault as a test driver in March, juggling F1 duties alongside his first full-time season in GP2 with DAMS.</p> <p>The Canadian completed running in private tests at Silverstone and Valencia with Renault&rsquo;s 2012 car, the E20.</p> <p>However, the plan of taking part in a first practice session during the 2016 F1 season failed to materialise.</p> <p>Latifi is looking to expand his involvement with the Renault F1 team next year.</p> <p>&ldquo;I have been involved with the team at a number of F1 race weekends and experiencing the races from behind the scenes, working and being part of it, makes me want it even more,&rdquo; he explained.</p> <p>&ldquo;It confirms my F1 goal; it&#39;s what I want to do and that&#39;s what I&#39;m working towards. I really enjoyed those experiences and hopefully next year I&#39;ll be able to go to more races and keep learning.&rdquo;</p> <p>He finished 16<sup>th</sup> in GP2 this year, with one podium finish. Reflecting on his 2016, he said: &ldquo;The best way I can sum it up is as a big, big learning year.</p> <p>&ldquo;Going into it, the plan was that it was always going to be about learning and development. But that didn&#39;t mean I approached it with anything less than full commitment.</p> <p>&ldquo;I definitely got a clear understanding of how difficult the championship can be for a rookie. Even the smallest details make a huge difference in GP2.&rdquo;</p> reveals homologation of 'back-up' compounds for 2017Thu, 22 Dec 2016 17:54:58 GMT<p><strong>Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has revealed it has homologated back-up compounds for its 2017 range.</strong></p> <p>The Italian manufacturer completed extensive testing during the second half of the F1 2016 season using modified versions of 2015 cars.</p> <p>2017&rsquo;s wider tyres are made of &ldquo;new materials and a completely fresh design philosophy&rdquo;, compared to this year&rsquo;s compounds.</p> <p>Because of this, a back-up for each of the five new dry compounds has been made and could be brought in during the course of the season.</p> <p>These are &ldquo;formulated using more traditional criteria compared to the new <em>base</em> compounds&rdquo; but won&rsquo;t appear for the first part of the championship.</p> <p>According to Pirelli, the back-up tyres could be brought in to &ldquo;respond to any particular requirements once the real performance levels of the 2017 cars have been identified&rdquo;.</p> emerged from 2016 'stronger and more capable' - WolffThu, 22 Dec 2016 17:52:46 GMT<p><strong>Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff says the Brackley-based outfit has emerged from the 2016 Formula 1 season &ldquo;stronger and more capable&rdquo; to face future challenges.</strong></p> <p>The team went on to score 19 wins and 20 pole positions in F1 2016, securing both titles &ndash; with Nico Rosberg beating team-mate Lewis Hamilton to the drivers&rsquo; crown.</p> <p>Rosberg then announced his retirement from F1 a few days later, with Mercedes now choosing a replacement.</p> <p>In a message sent to the Mercedes workforce, Wolff said the team have emerged from F1 2016 stronger but has emphasised the challenges ahead with new regulations for 2017.</p> <p>&ldquo;2016 has been a remarkable year,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;Our team has broken records in the history books; we have pursued our goals with passion and determination; and we were tested at each turn by unexpected challenges.</p> <p>&ldquo;Nico was crowned champion and then departed the stage. Lewis [Hamilton] needed strength of character to handle defeat with composure and dignity. We celebrated our success and we learned from our mistakes.</p> <p>&ldquo;Through all these moments, we have emerged stronger and more capable to face together the road ahead.</p> <p>&ldquo;Our position in the spotlight puts every decision taken and every word spoken under an intense microscope. They are debated passionately among our fans and interpreted by the media.</p> <p>&ldquo;But there has been enough talking, now. This is the period for calm and considered reflection; to savour our achievements and prepare for the next campaign.&rdquo;</p> <p>He added: &ldquo;As we move forward, we will continue to be guided above all by the best interests of our team. This philosophy is bigger than any one season or any one person.</p> <p>&ldquo;It has forged a group that is humble in victory and gracious in defeat; hungry for challenge and resilient under pressure; never satisfied with the status quo, always seeking to improve.</p> <p>&ldquo;Our values have been the foundation stones of three world championships. And there will be no compromise as we begin our quest for a fourth in 2017.</p> <p>&ldquo;It is now time for some days away from the world of racing, to be enjoyed among family and friends, to recharge the batteries for the bigger challenges ahead.</p> <p>&ldquo;We will tackle new rules, welcome a new race driver and take on even stronger rivals. It will test our team&#39;s character, strength and capability. Bring it on.&rdquo;</p> Verstappen wins Sportsman of the Year in the NetherlandsThu, 22 Dec 2016 17:50:34 GMT<p><strong>Max Verstappen was awarded Sportsman of the Year in the Netherlands during a ceremony in his home country on Wednesday.</strong></p> <p>The Dutch youngster started the 2016 Formula 1 season with Toro Rosso, before being promoted to Red Bull Racing after four races.</p> <p>He immediately settled into his new team, taking victory on his Red Bull debut in Spain to become F1&rsquo;s youngest ever winner.</p> <p>Verstappen went on to collect six further podium finishes in 2016 and finished the year fifth in the championship.</p> <p>He went up against Olympic windsurfing gold medallist Dorian van Rijsselberghe, Olympic swimming gold medallist Ferry Weertman (swimming), cyclist Tom Dumoulin and speed skater Sven Kramer.</p> <p>The five nominees were selected by a panel of experts and the award was voted for by fellow sportsmen.</p> <p>Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Sanne Wevers won Sportswoman of the Year.</p> confirms tyre compounds for opening two F1 2017 racesThu, 22 Dec 2016 17:46:38 GMT<p><strong>Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has announced the tyre compounds it will take to the opening two rounds of the 2017 season.</strong></p> <p>The deadline for the tyre nominations of fly-away races is 15 weeks, so the Italian manufacturer has confirmed the compounds for Australia and China.</p> <p>The Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne will host the 2017 season-opener from the 24-26 March, debuting a number of new regulations &ndash; including new aero rules and wider tyres.</p> <p>The tyres for the 2017 F1 season are 25% wider than the previous regulations and are expected to be a factor in speeds rising and lap times dropping.</p> <p>The soft, super-soft and ultra-soft tyre compounds will be taken to the Australian GP, one step softer than 2016.</p> <p>One set of softs and one set of super-softs have to be used during the race and one set of the ultra-soft must be saved for qualifying.</p> <p>The remaining 10 compounds are free for the teams and drivers to choose for each race, as was the case in 2016.</p> <p>For the second round of F1 2017 in China, the medium, soft and super-soft tyres will be taken to the Shanghai International Circuit.</p> <p>One set of mediums and one of softs have to be set aside for the race, with one set of super-softs having to be used in qualifying.</p> <p>The rest of the compounds (10, with 13 in total) are then free choice for teams and drivers.</p> rejected proposal to hire Mercedes technical chief Paddy LoweWed, 21 Dec 2016 17:59:00 GMT<p><strong>Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne says the Italian team rejected a proposal to hire Mercedes technical chief Paddy Lowe, as the Briton looks set to step down from his position at the championship-winning outfit.</strong></p> <p>Lowe has been instrumental in Mercedes&#39; recent success, but it&#39;s believed he is looking to switch teams as Mercedes have reportedly hired ex-Ferrari man James Allison to take up a similar role.</p> <p>With Lowe on the market, Marchionne revealed to Italian publication&nbsp;<em>La Reppublica&nbsp;</em>that they turned down hiring him.</p> <p>&quot;We had a proposal [from Lowe], but the role was already covered,&quot; he said during a media Christmas lunch this week.</p> <p>&quot;We are not looking for a Ross Brawn-like saviour who can solve all the problems,&quot; he added. &quot;Together, we can pull through by working the right way.</p> <p>&quot;I don&rsquo;t want to be constantly changing the team.&quot;</p> <p>It&#39;s expected Lowe will now replace Pat Symonds at Williams and could even take a shareholding in the team.</p> <p>Marchionne meanwhile believes Ferrari has the right people in place to improve, but has stopped short of promising big things in 2017 &ndash; something which&nbsp;backfired this year when he promised the team would challenge for wins, when in fact they failed to win a single race.</p> <p>&quot;Now I only want us&nbsp;to do better than in 2016, which doesn&#39;t seem too&nbsp;hard to me,&quot; he said.</p> <p>&quot;Should we continue not to win, then the blame lies at my feet. I&rsquo;ve already told Ferrari fans who approach&nbsp;me on the street and&nbsp;complain about our win drought: &#39;that&rsquo;s my mistake, wait for 2017&#39;.</p> <p>&quot;I am confident about the new car, confident that we have taken action and done a good job in all areas, starting with the aerodynamics.&quot;</p> Nico Rosberg drives W07 F1 car for final timeWed, 21 Dec 2016 15:53:06 GMT<p><strong>Watch the recently-retired Nico Rosberg drive his championship-winning Mercedes W07 Formula 1 car for what could well be the final time , while also taking a brilliant selfie in the process.</strong></p> Massa agrees to delay retirement for Williams returnWed, 21 Dec 2016 09:21:32 GMT<p><strong>Felipe Massa has agreed to delay his Formula 1 retirement by at least one year after accepting a deal to race for Williams in 2017, paving the way for Valtteri Bottas to join Mercedes, replacing Nico Rosberg.</strong></p> <p>Mercedes approached Williams earlier this month about taking Bottas in exchange for a reduced power unit bill, but the offer was rejected by the Grove-based outfit as it would create serious problems their end.</p> <p>Incoming rookie Lance Stroll, who is bringing an estimated &pound;20&nbsp;million in funding, demands an experienced driver as part of his contract, whilst title sponsor Martini requires a driver over 25 years of age and Williams need experience with the upcoming rule changes.</p> <p>Therefore simply taking Mercedes offer, which includes Pascal Wehrlein, isn&#39;t an option for Williams.</p> <p>Williams have therefore approached Massa about continuing in 2017 and it&#39;s reported the Brazilian has agreed to defer his retirement for a year, opening up the opportunity for Bottas to replace Rosberg.</p> <p>Whilst no confirmation is expected until January, as neither sides have signed off on the deals, it looks as though the driver market is beginning to fall into place, with only Manor and Sauber yet to confirm their line-ups in full.</p> <p>As part of the deal to sign Bottas, it&#39;s also believed Mercedes have agreed to cut Paddy Lowe&#39;s gardening leave, allowing him to start at Williams with immediate effect next season as the Briton looks set to&nbsp;replace technical chief Pat Symonds who will step down at the end of the month.</p> <p>Wolff has also agreed to sever management ties to Bottas as part of the agreement as it could be seen as unfair if one of Mercedes&#39; drivers is managed by the team boss.</p> confirms chief technical officer Pat Symonds departureTue, 20 Dec 2016 16:32:29 GMT<p><strong>The Williams Formula 1 team has confirmed that chief technical officer Pat Symonds will vacate the team at the end of the year, come the end of his contract.</strong></p> <p>Symonds joined the team at the end of the&nbsp;2013 season on a three-year deal and has been pivotal in the teams turn around from backmarkers to frontrunners, having finished third in the Constructors&#39; Championship in both 2014 and 2015.</p> <p>Williams&#39; performance however tailed off this year, with the team dropping back to fifth behind Ferrari and Force India.</p> <p>&quot;Pat has been a tremendous asset to this team over the past three years,&quot; commented deputy team principal Claire Williams.&nbsp;&quot;Pat&rsquo;s appointment was the start of a major restructuring exercise, and he has been pivotal in reshaping Williams into what is a much stronger racing team today.</p> <p>&quot;I would like to thank him for all of his hard work and commitment during that time.</p> <p>&quot;We now look to the future and will be announcing details regarding the team&rsquo;s technical leadership in due course.&quot;</p> <p>The news will reignite rumours that Mercedes&#39; Paddy Lowe is set for a move to Williams next season, with the Briton&#39;s current Mercedes contract expiring at the end of the year.</p> <p>It&#39;s believed Williams have offered Lowe shares in the team in order to entice him away from champions Mercedes.</p> driver discussions 'proving to be difficult' - Niki LaudaTue, 20 Dec 2016 14:03:12 GMT<p><strong>Mercedes are still undecided on who will replace Nico Rosberg alongside Lewis Hamilton for 2017, with non-executive director Niki Lauda confirming &quot;difficult&quot; discussions could see the decision delayed until the end of January.</strong></p> <p>The chamionship-winning team are desperately seeking a replacement for the retiring world champion and were caught off guard by his surprise announcement just five days after winning the title.</p> <p>Lauda admitted he was angered by Rosberg&#39;s decision and the lack of notice which he says has<a href=""> left Mercedes looking &quot;stupid&quot;</a>.</p> <p>Speaking to Austria&#39;s&nbsp;<em>Servus TV,&nbsp;</em>Lauda admitted they&#39;ve yet to land on a final decision and continue to weigh up different options, including promoting junior Pascal Wehrlein, or pushing for an experienced driver like Valtteri Bottas.</p> <p>&quot;We had hoped for a quickest solution, but the discussions are proving&nbsp;to be difficult,&quot; said the Austrian.</p> <p>&quot;There are two scenarios &ndash; we take a young gun like Wehrlein who could turn out to be a Verstappen, or&nbsp;we take an experienced guy.</p> <p>&quot;But we are still making up our minds. That&#39;s a huge discussion, really.&nbsp;It could take us until the end of January until we know which scenario we are going to take.&quot;</p> <p>Red Bull&#39;s Helmut Marko, who was sat beside Lauda during the interview, believes they should take Wehrlein as not doing so would&nbsp;diminish&nbsp;their young driver programme.</p> <p>&quot;You have a young driver programme and you have the highly-rated Wehrlein,&quot; he added. &quot;But according to our information it won&#39;t be Wehrlein in the car. This means you don&#39;t trust your own junior programme.&quot;</p> Marchionne eyeing Alfa Romeo F1 team for 'young Italian drivers'Tue, 20 Dec 2016 13:25:08 GMT<p><strong>Ferrari president and FCA chairman&nbsp;Sergio Marchionne has dropped further hints that he is seriously considering the return of Alfa Romeo to Formula 1, with a similar structure to that of Red Bull and Toro Rosso.</strong></p> <p>Alfa Romeo, which is owned by Ferrari&#39;s parent company FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), last competed in F1 as a constructor in 1985, but Marchionne has repeatedly said he would like to see the brand return to the grid.</p> <p>This week he reiterated those comments and believes it could be a breeding ground for young Italian drivers to make the step up to F1 and Ferrari &ndash; similar to Toro Rosso and Red Bull &ndash; whilst also sharing components with Ferrari &ndash; as Haas does now.</p> <p>&quot;Alfa Romeo in F1 could become a fine breeding ground for young Italian drivers,&quot; said Marchionne on the same day Ferrari announced it had signed&nbsp;GP2 runner-up Antonio Giovinazzi as its third driver.</p> <p>&quot;The best one, Giovinazzi, is already with us, but there are others besides him, and they are struggling to find space.</p> <p>&quot;Alfa Romeo, more than our customer teams [Haas and Sauber], could offer them that space.&quot;</p> <p>He added: &quot;There is room for an Alfa Romeo return, possibly as a collaboration with Ferrari.&quot;</p> <p>Alfa Romeo&#39;s return is some way off though, with Marchionne insisting it must first make more money through sales if it&#39;s to get its own team.</p> <p>&quot;Not yet, though, because Alfa must first make money through sales of the Giulia and the Stelvio [models].&quot;</p> Hamilton urges Mercedes not to change his mechanics againMon, 19 Dec 2016 17:36:07 GMT<p><strong>Lewis Hamilton says he will ask Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff to ensure his mechanics remain where they are, insisting his crew needn&#39;t change ahead of the 2017 season.</strong></p> <p>The Briton made it clear at the beginning of the current year&nbsp;that he wasn&#39;t happy with Mercedes&#39; decision to switch some of his mechanics with team-mate Nico Rosberg&#39;s, but now says he&#39;s happy with his &quot;guys&quot; and no changes need to be made.</p> <p>&quot;Next year I&#39;ll speak to Toto [Wolff] and say &#39;look, I don&#39;t want my guys being changed&#39;,&quot; Hamilton told&nbsp;<em>Channel 4</em>.</p> <p>&quot;I want to keep all my engineers, there&#39;s not a single person that needs to leave. All my mechanics, there&#39;s not a single person that needs to leave.</p> <p>He added: &quot;Let&#39;s go racing. I&#39;m committed, hopefully they&#39;re committed to me, I&#39;m now their only world champion so hopefully they respect and appreciate that and the commitment that I&#39;ll put into next year.&quot;</p> <p>That interview was conducted a day before Hamilton met up with Wolff, which was followed by an Instagram video in which Hamilton said he had an &quot;amazing meeting&quot; with the Austrian, adding: &quot;I just wanted to send on a message to let you know that we are going to be the strongest partnership next year and we look forward to fighting for this championship again.&quot;</p> Giovinazzi joins Ferrari F1 team for 2017 as third driverMon, 19 Dec 2016 17:30:37 GMT<p><strong>This year&rsquo;s GP2 runner-up Antonio Giovinazzi has been confirmed as the Ferrari F1 team&rsquo;s third driver for the 2017 season.</strong></p> <p>The 22-year-old graduated from Formula 3 to GP2 for 2016 with newcomers Prema Racing, taking five victories.</p> <p>He almost became the first rookie GP2 champion since Nico Hulkenberg in 2009, but lost out to Red Bull junior and Prema team-mate Pierre Gasly.</p> <p>Giovinazzi previously had no link to an F1 team but did spent a day at Ferrari&rsquo;s simulator earlier in the season, hinting at a possible tie-up.</p> <p>Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne said at Ferrari&rsquo;s pre-Christmas media lunch that Giovinazzi will join the team as a third driver for 2017.</p> <p>&ldquo;We have not hired Giovinazzi to emulate Max Verstappen, who is a unique case,&rdquo; he is quoted saying by <a href=""><em>La Gazzetta dello Sport</em></a>.</p> <p>&ldquo;We hired him because he is a very good driver and Ferrari need young people ready to go.&rdquo;</p> <p>Giovinazzi has yet to announce his full-time racing plans for 2017, but he did take part in the post-season GP2 test in Abu Dhabi.</p> <p>Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene said the Italian will start a simulator programme in January and is expected to try the 2017 F1 car during mid-season testing.</p> confirms launch date for 2017 Formula 1 carMon, 19 Dec 2016 17:21:10 GMT<p><strong>Ferrari has confirmed the date its 2017 car will be launched, making it the first team to do so.</strong></p> <p>The Italian team confirmed on Monday during a Christmas media event that its new challenger, which has yet to be named but is currently known as&nbsp;&#39;project 668&#39;, will hit the track for the first time on February 24.</p> <p>Ferrari will use two of its allowed filming days to run the car at its Fiorano test track just three days before pre-season testing officially kicks-off in Barcelona on February 27 for four days.</p> <p>It&#39;s quite common for teams to use filming days for pre-launch shakedowns, ensuring all systems function as expected before the cars are shipped to Spain.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> . Grosjean takes Trophee Andros win at Alpe d'HuezSun, 18 Dec 2016 11:58:54 GMT<p><strong>Haas Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean won on his return to the Trophee Andros ice racing series at the Alpe d&rsquo;Huez.</strong></p> <p>The Frenchman joined reigning champion Jean-Baptiste Dubourg at DA Racing to drive a Renault Clio in the series.</p> <p>He qualified eighth for the opening race of the weekend but retired. However, he bounced back in the second round.</p> <p>Having claimed pole position, Grosjean stormed into the lead and claimed victory in the eight-lap race by just under one second.</p> <p>It was a clean sweep for Grosjean, having topped qualifying, finished fastest in Superpole and took victory in the final race with fastest lap too.</p> <p>He beat Jean-Philippe Dayraut, while former F1 driver Olivier Panis was fighting for third with Adrien Tambay when the two collided on the run to the chequered flag.</p> <p>Footage from the L&#39;Equipe TV channel after the race appeared to show Panis and Tambay getting into a fight. Both were excluded from the race.</p> Media gets antitrust approvals for F1 takeoverSun, 18 Dec 2016 11:44:41 GMT<p><strong>Liberty Media has announced it has gained all the necessary approvals from antitrust authorities related to its planned takeover of Formula 1.</strong></p> <p>The news brings the American entertainment company one step closer to completing its purchase and takeover of F1.</p> <p>In September Liberty outlined its plans to purchase F1 in a $8billion deal. It initially acquired an 18.7% stake in F1 with a $746million cash deal and intends to eventually purchase 100% of F1 parent company Delta Topco&rsquo;s shares.</p> <p>Liberty announced earlier this week it had raised $1.55billion from investors, but said the purchase of F1 remained subject to several conditions.</p> <p>One of those was approval from antitrust authorities, which Liberty has now confirmed it has received.</p> <p>It is also subject to approval from its shareholders, who will meet on January 17, and F1&rsquo;s governing body the FIA.</p> <p>Liberty is still expecting its acquisition of F1 to be completed before the end of the first quarter of 2017.</p> Lewis Hamilton picks his greatest ever F1 driveSat, 17 Dec 2016 14:04:12 GMT<p><strong>With his 10<sup>th</sup> Formula 1 season now done and dusted, Lewis Hamilton has taken a look back at his career to name his greatest ever F1 performance. Here&rsquo;s the race he picked.</strong></p> Schumacher's family launches 'Keep Fighting' initiativeSat, 17 Dec 2016 13:14:16 GMT<p><strong>The family of seven-time Formula 1 world champion Michael Schumacher have launched a new &quot;Keep Fighting&quot; initiative which they hope will be a &quot;force for good in the world&quot;.</strong></p> <p>The not-for-profit organisation comes almost two years after Schumacher was involved in a serious skiing accident, which left him hospitalised for many months. He currently resides at home with his family in a unknown state, as they have been keen to keep his recovery private.</p> <p>His wife, Corrina, said she hoped the initiative would &quot;encourage others to never give up.&rdquo;</p> <p>Schumacher&#39;s long-time manager Sabine Kehin added: &ldquo;This is a first step of a movement which we hope can do good in the future.</p> <p>&quot;The intention of the Keep Fighting Initiative is to spread the belief that giving up is not an option, a message that is valid not only in motor racing. In this way we hope to turn a terrible event, which affects the whole Schumacher family, into something positive.</p> <p>&quot;We wanted to send a sign of encouragement at a time where people are open to it. The Keep Fighting Initiative is about courage, hope and belief in your own confidence. It is about giving back positive energy that the Schumacher family has received by so many wonderful people in the whole world.</p> <p>&quot;It is about a spirit which we wanted to be noticed, and I am happy to admit we wanted to take advantage of the attention which we expected in these days, given we believe it is for a good cause.&quot;</p> <p>Kehm also reiterated previous statements confirming no updates on the German&#39;s condition would be given and pushed for privacy for the Schumacher family.</p> <p>&quot;Michael&rsquo;s health is not a public issue, and so we will continue to make no comment in that regard,&quot; she added. &quot;This is also because we have to protect his intimate sphere. Legally seen and in the longer term, every statement related to his health would diminish the extent of his intimate sphere.</p> <p>&ldquo;We are aware that this may be difficult for some people to understand but we do this with full commitment to Michael&rsquo;s guidelines and can only thank people for their understanding.</p> <p>&ldquo;Michael has always been very protective of his privacy, even during the most successful times of his career. He has always made sure there is a clear and distinct line between his public persona and his private one.</p> <p>&quot;We are now celebrating the loyalty of the fans by a range of initiatives, including exhibitions, social media and now Keep Fighting. Most of the fans have expressed their appreciation and have embraced these initiatives.&rdquo;</p> <p>A website has been set up where futher information can be found -&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p> boosts Enstone workforce with two key appointmentsFri, 16 Dec 2016 16:27:41 GMT<p><strong>The Renault Formula 1 team has boosted its engineering team ahead of the 2017 season with appointment of Rob White to the role of&nbsp;operations director, whilst Ciaron Pilbeam has taken up the position of chief race engineer.</strong></p> <p>White moves over from engine partner Renault, where he held a deputy managing director role as well as and engine technical director.</p> <p>Meanwhile Pilbeam, who previously worked at BAR, Red Bull and Lotus (which is now Renault) before switching to McLaren in 2014, returns to the Enstone-based team.</p> <p>Renault has been looking to boost its staffing numbers following its takeover of Lotus in late-2015 and&nbsp;managing director Cyril Abiteboul says they&#39;ve already boosted their workforce by 20 per cent in just&nbsp;a year.</p> <p>&quot;Expansion is not the work of a moment so we&#39;ve been recruiting people through the year and they have been joining us throughout the season,&quot; Abiteboul said.</p> <p>&quot;It&#39;s definitely a case of targeting a quality workforce to come join us, but we do require a significant quantity of personnel in Enstone as we grow at a level allowing us to fight against the top teams.</p> <p>&quot;As part of this I&#39;m happy to confirm that we have two appointments to Enstone&#39;s senior management with Rob White, transferring from Viry-Chatillon as operations director and Ciaron Pilbeam returning to us as chief race engineer.</p> <p>&quot;In terms of facilities, we are significantly increasing our on-site CNC machining capacity with two new machines in a dedicated building, a new spray and preparation facility is currently being built and we will shortly start extending our main factory building by approximately 800m2 to house the expansion of almost every department at Enstone.&quot;</p> <p>There have also been changes at Viry, where the engine department is based, following the move from supplier to works team.</p> <p>&quot;At Viry-Chatillon we&#39;ve been working on the structure with a process of further evolution to the changes started in the recent past,&quot; added Abiteboul.</p> <p>&quot;This has meant adapting the structure to change from a power unit supplier to part of a full manufacturer entry in addition to continuing as a supplier to other parties, as well as targeted headcount expansion for better control of our skills and talents.&quot;</p> Massa could return to Williams as Mercedes push for Valtteri BottasThu, 15 Dec 2016 22:37:55 GMT<p><strong>Felipe Massa could put his retirement from Formula 1 on hold for another year as it&#39;s believed Williams have approached the Brazilian about rejoining the team in response to Mercedes&#39; approach for Valtteri Bottas.</strong></p> <p>Mercedes are currently seeking a replacement for Nico Rosberg and believe Bottas would be a good fit for the team as he&#39;s proven to be quick and&nbsp;is unlikely to upset Lewis Hamilton.</p> <p>However he is currently contracted to Williams and it&#39;s believed incoming driver Lance Stroll has a contractual clause which promises a competitive and experienced team-mate.</p> <p>Deputy team principal Claire Williams admitted on Thursday that they would be open to letting Bottas leave if it were to benefit the team &ndash; likely referring to&nbsp;financial compensation from Mercedes &ndash; and had a experienced driver lined up to replace him.</p> <p>That could see Massa, who Williams are believed to have opened preliminary discussions with, put on hold his retirement.</p> <p>&quot;I&#39;m delighted to see that a team like Mercedes lists Valtteri as a potential replacement for Nico,&quot; Williams told&nbsp;<em>BBC Sport.</em></p> <p>&quot;However, Williams has its own ambitions and we must always ensure we give our team the best opportunity to move forward. Any changes would only be made if Williams remains in a strong position to compete and develop in 2017.</p> <p>&quot;If we did allow Valtteri to leave, we would only do this if an experienced, credible alternative was available, such as someone like Felipe Massa, for example.&quot;</p> <p>She added: &quot;Whatever we decide, it must be in the best interests of this team.&quot;</p> won't announce Nico Rosberg replacement until JanuaryThu, 15 Dec 2016 22:04:39 GMT<p><strong>Mercedes has confirmed it will not reveal the identity of its replacement for Nico Rosberg this year.</strong></p> <p>The championship-winning outfit has been left without a team-mate for Lewis Hamilton after Rosberg surprisingly quit the sport five days after winning the championship.</p> <p>That Anglo-German team have therefore frantically been searching for a replacement and have a shortlist of drivers to work from, but it&#39;s believed they&#39;ve yet to agree terms with anyone.</p> <p>Mercedes won&#39;t therefore be announcing who will partner Hamilton until next year, a team spokesperson confirmed.</p> <p>&quot;Nothing is planned for the period between now and our return to work on January 3,&quot; they said, suggesting an announcement may take some time.</p>