Motorsport Week - Formula 1 News Catch up on all F1 news, here at Motorsport Week RSS Feed! Kubica must earn 2019 race seat – LoweTue, 23 Jan 2018 16:32:42 GMT<p>Robert Kubica can&#39;t expect to land a race seat because of his past form according to Williams&nbsp;chief technical officer Paddy Lowe, who says the Polish driver must earn a seat on the 2019 grid if he&#39;s to fulfil his comeback dream.</p> <p>Kubica was in the running to return in 2018 with Renault at first before that gap was filled by Carlos Sainz. An opportunity to replace Felipe Massa at Williams then arose, but following multiple tests, the team opted for Russian rookie Sergey Sirotkin.</p> <p>Lowe admits Sirotkin was the &quot;clear favourite&quot; when all factors were taken into account, but wouldn&#39;t elaborate on which areas Kubica&nbsp;was lacking.</p> <p>&quot;I&#39;m not going to talk about that,&quot; he told&nbsp;<em>Motorsport.&nbsp;</em>&quot;We&#39;ve done a lot of work with many drivers in this selection process.</p> <p>&quot;We picked Sergey on the full range of his performance, against many drivers, not just Robert. He was the clear favourite.&quot;</p> <p>Kubica will take up a reserve and development role with the team which will include test outings as well as Friday practice runs, which Lowe says will give the 33-year-old a chance to prove them and other teams that he is deserving of a seat.</p> <p>&quot;Robert has been on a journey to find his way back to Formula 1, from the trauma that occurred to his arm in the rally accident.</p> <p>&quot;And all credit to him, it&#39;s required an incredible commitment, a lot of bravery and a lot of dedication to that objective. And he&#39;s on that journey, and I think with us this next year as the development driver that journey will continue.</p> <p>&quot;Ultimately, it&#39;s not always about what&#39;s missing - it&#39;s a competitive market, to obtain a race seat. There are many more very, very talented drivers than there are seats.</p> <p>&quot;And Robert would want it no other way. He&#39;s got to earn the right to the race seat, whatever race seats may be available in 2019.&quot;</p> CNBC switches from Sauber to McLarenTue, 23 Jan 2018 12:51:02 GMT<p>McLaren has announced a new sponsor in CNBC,&nbsp;the leading global business news network, which has switched from the Sauber team after three seasons together.</p> <p>McLaren said the new multi-year deal will be used to &quot;unlock the potential of the network&rsquo;s powerful audience of business leaders and investors&quot;, as it seeks to boost its fortunes following a dismal few seasons.</p> <p>&quot;CNBC is a world-class, industry-leading brand and a superb fit for McLaren,&quot; said team boss Zak Brown.&nbsp;&quot;This partnership will greatly enhance our ability to reach a global business target audience while enabling both CNBC and McLaren to highlight shared attributes and values.</p> <p>&quot;Formula 1 is a sport undergoing exciting change at multiple levels and bringing that story to a global business will help raise the profile not only of McLaren and CNBC but the sport of Formula 1 too.&quot;</p> <p>KC Sullivan, president and managing director at CNBC International, added: &quot;With a shared passion for sporting excellence, CNBC is looking forward to working with the McLaren family of brands to tell the story of cutting edge innovation.&quot;</p> Bottas: 'I have one target, everyone knows what it is'Tue, 23 Jan 2018 11:13:28 GMT<p>Mercedes&#39; Valtteri Bottas has spoken about how eager he is to seize more opportunities in 2018 as he aims to perform better in his sophomore year with the Silver Arrows with one target in mind.</p> <p>Scoring three wins and four pole positions in his first season with the Brackley-based outfit was a solid effort in 2017, with team-mate Lewis Hamilton taking six more victories and winning the world championship, the Finn is keen to prove he is just as capable.</p> <p>Looking ahead to the new season in a Q&amp;A with the Mercedes team, when asked about what he is looking forward to the most, he replied:&nbsp;&quot;Well, it is always so exciting driving a new car for the first time.</p> <p>&quot;The team is working so hard on the car and this year I have been able to follow that process, and see how demanding it has been. Because last year I joined and the car was ready. So, yeah, I&#39;m looking forward to trying the new car and then it is a new season, everyone starts from zero. A new season full of opportunities and my aim is to take those opportunities this year.&quot;</p> <p>With plenty of work to be doing ahead of the new season, Bottas also expressed how happy&nbsp;he has been with the&nbsp;preparations made so far by his Mercedes team after visiting them on his first days getting back to work.</p> <p>&quot;It has been really good to be back,&quot; he added. &quot;It is always a nice place to come. I have met a lot of people, I have been through many departments of the factory, seeing what is going on.</p> <p>&quot;This time of year is so busy and things are going fast, it is nice to see how everything is coming together. Being in the simulator, meetings with engineers, it&#39;s been pretty standard stuff. It is a bit simpler this time around compared to one year ago because I don&#39;t need to get to know everyone. It&#39;s been a very good week.&quot;</p> <p>When pressed on what his personal target is for 2018, he added: &quot;I have one target, everyone knows what it is,&nbsp;I have learned massively in my five years in Formula 1, especially in 2017, so I have high targets. And for us as a team, we want to stay at the top.&quot;</p> <p>Mercedes will unveil their 2018 challenger and shakedown the new W09 at their launch event on February 22.</p> Sainz Jr. to drive course car on Rallye Monte Carlo power stageMon, 22 Jan 2018 17:55:00 GMT<p>Renault Formula 1 driver Carlos Sainz Jr. is to make his non-competitive rallying debut in Monte Carlo this weekend.</p> <p>Sainz Jr. is to pilot one of the organiser&rsquo;s Renault Megane R.S course cars through the 13.58km La Cabanette-Col de Braus Power Stage on Sunday before the WRC regulars battle it out for the five bonus points.</p> <p>Sainz Jr.&rsquo;s father Carlos Sainz won the Rallye Monte Carlo three times during his distinguished career.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m really looking forward to experiencing Rallye Monte-Carlo for the first time,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve heard so much about it from my dad &ndash; how difficult the stages are, how the conditions can change in an instant from snow to rain or bright sunshine and of course how you need nerves of steel for some of those mountain passes and hairpins!</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s going to be a real thrill to take part in such a legendary event behind the wheel of a Renault M&eacute;gane R.S, which will be fitted with snow and studded tyres so I can get a more complete sensation of rallying around these stages.&rdquo;</p> <p>This weekend&rsquo;s event marks the start of the 2018 World Rally Championship.</p> Bratches confirms more F1 Live events for 2018Mon, 22 Jan 2018 14:07:07 GMT<p><strong>Formula 1&#39;s Managing Director of Commercial Operations, Sean Bratches, has confirmed that the top tier motorsport series will hold more &#39;F1 Live&#39; events in 2018.</strong></p> <p>Last year, Formula 1 took to the streets of London ahead of the British Grand Prix, with all ten teams and 19 of the 20 full-time drivers of last season making appearances, driving cars of&nbsp;past seasons and classic racing machinery.</p> <p>&quot;The next events of this kind will not be quite that big,&quot; Bratches told <em>Auto Motor und Sport</em>.&nbsp;&quot;We&#39;re planning something similar in Marseille, Berlin, Milan, Shanghai and Miami, but not with so many cars.</p> <p>&quot;We believe that this contact with the audience outside the race track is important. It carries our message to people we would not otherwise reach.</p> <p>&quot;Formula 1 has been so exclusive over the years that it was only accessible to interested people. The same applies to sponsors. There is a lot of interest from companies that are not yet in F1,&quot; he added.</p> <p>Last season saw a growth in TV viewing figures in Formula 1 by 6.2 per cent while there was also a growth of 54.9 per cent&nbsp;for the brand on social media platforms, and Bratches described PR events such as F1 Live in London as &quot;very important&quot; for increasing the series&#39; presence.</p> 249 of Motorsport Monday is out now - Viva Dakar!Mon, 22 Jan 2018 09:44:14 GMT<p><strong>Issue 249&nbsp;of our free weekly magazine, Motorsport Monday, is online now and packed full of great content&nbsp;&ndash;&nbsp;<a href="">click here</a>&nbsp;or the&nbsp;link below to start reading.</strong></p> <p>Well it&#39;s all over down in South America for another year and this year&#39;s Dakar Champion has been crowned. Despite predictions of a Loeb/Peterhansel or a Al-Attiyah/de Villiers battle for the win, it was Peugeot&#39;s dark horse, former double WRC champ Carlos Sainz who crept up quietly on the whole field. And he delivered a devastating blow either side of the rest day to take a lead that he would hold onto all of the second week in the run back to Argentina. Jerry Williams has the story...</p> <p>In just under a week, two of the year&#39;s major stories will be over and we should have an idea of the pecking order in both the World Rally Championship and the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship for 2018. Yes, by this time next week we will know the winners of both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 68th running of the Rallye Monte Carlo.</p> <p>Daniel Lloyd has the preview on the year&#39;s first major sportscar race plus for the first time, we profile the major runners in a new section, the &#39;Ones to Watch&#39; in where he profiles the drivers, their cars and what chance they may have come&nbsp;Sunday&nbsp;afternoon. Jerry Williams has the full story on how Monte preparations are going for the field plus he also has our first WRC Team News of the year too.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" height="127" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Magazine/click-to-read.png" width="800" /></a></p> Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo crazy cart the factorySat, 20 Jan 2018 14:52:24 GMT<p>Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo are going a little stir crazy waiting for Formula One to return, so to keep their racing senses sharp, the pair took to some crazy carts for a Red Bull factory grand prix. Who won, check out the video to find out!</p> 1 set for minimum driver weight in 2019Sat, 20 Jan 2018 12:46:10 GMT<p>Formula 1 is set to introduce a minimum driver weight in 2019 as part of a plan&nbsp;to avoid penalising heavier drivers.</p> <p>During a meeting of the&nbsp;F1 Strategy Group this week, the proposal was tabled that car and driver weight should once again be split, like it was prior to 1995, with a minimum car and driver weight specified in the regulations.</p> <p>Driver weight has become an issue again, with the FIA raising the overall minimum weight for 2018 to&nbsp;734kg, taking into account the Halo. However estimates have actually put the overall Halo weight at between 12-14kg with mounting points and changes to the chassis, thus reducing the scope for performance ballast and therefore penalising heavier drivers.</p> <p>For 2019, it&#39;s believed an 80kg weight will be specified for the&nbsp;driver, meaning any driver weighing under that limit will have to run&nbsp;ballast equal to their deficit &ndash; to avoid teams using that ballast unfairly, i.e. by placing it strategically to balance the car, it will have to be positioned under the seat in a pre-determined location.</p> <p>Although drivers weighing more than 80kg will still be penalised slightly, the system should make it fairer overall and avoid drivers having to drastically lose weight which led to some health concerns in recent seasons, including drivers racing without water bottles to avoid carrying excess weight.</p> <p>The weight of the car, which will again rise by 6kg in 2019, will be 660kg without the driver and seat, therefore giving engineers a specific target to aim for, rather than having to take into account the weight of their two drivers &ndash; which could fluctuate during the off-season.</p> Marchionne says Alfa Romeo could join IndyCar nextSat, 20 Jan 2018 11:27:04 GMT<p>Alfa Romeo will return to Formula 1 this season in a tie-up with the Sauber F1 team as it looks to boost its profile and sell more cars in the future, but its involvement in motorsport might not stop there according to&nbsp;Sergio Marchionne.</p> <p>Marchionne, CEO of Alfa Romeo&#39;s parent company FIAT Chrysler Automobiles, as well as being president of Ferrari, orchestrated the Italian manufacturer&#39;s return to F1 and most recently floated the idea of Maserati &ndash; another FCA brand &ndash; linking up with an existing IndyCar team.</p> <p>However more&nbsp;recently&nbsp;Marchionne has said the idea of Alfa Romeo getting into IndyCar is being thought about, particularly as the brand wants to expand its presence in North America.</p> <p>&ldquo;Why not Alfa Romeo in IndyCar?&rdquo; he asked. &ldquo;We are thinking about it.</p> <p>&quot;Gian Paolo Dallara (designer and supplier of every IndyCar chassis) &ndash;&nbsp;I consider him a great, the best Italian engineer around,&quot; added Marchionne.</p> <p>Meanwhile IndyCar&#39;s&nbsp;president of competition and operations, Jay Frye, confirmed a number of manufactuer&#39;s had expressed an interest in joining the series, but wouldn&#39;t confirm if one of those was Alfa Romeo.</p> <p>&quot;Over the last several months, particularly since our 2017 season ended, we have had numerous meetings with OEMs about the prospects of becoming partners with IndyCar,&quot; he told <em>Motorsport</em>.&nbsp;&quot;We&#39;ve had around 10 of them &ndash; some initial meetings, some follow-ups.</p> <p>&quot;So I can say there&#39;s been a lot of enthusiasm and positive response to that and so we&#39;re very encouraged &ndash; switching back to a universal aerokit has removed a major technical and financial hurdle for any potential OEMs. And so there&#39;s been really good activity and responses.&quot;</p> Stirling Moss announces retirement from public lifeSat, 20 Jan 2018 00:45:57 GMT<p>Motorsport legend Sir Stirling Moss has announced his retirement from public life at the age of 88.</p> <p>Moss, who is often considered the greatest Formula 1 driver never to win a championship, spent 134 days in hospital last year after he fell ill whilst holidaying in Singapore.</p> <p>Therefore he has announced, through a statement issued by his son, that&nbsp;he will retire from public life&nbsp;to spend more time with his family.</p> <p>&quot;To all of his many friends and fans around the world, who use this website for regular updates, my father would like to announce that he will be closing it down,&quot; said the statement on Moss&#39;&nbsp;personal website.</p> <p>&ldquo;Following his severe infections at the end of 2016 and his subsequent slow and arduous recovery, the decision has been made that, at the age of 88, the indefatigable man will finally retire, so that he and my mother can have some much deserved rest and spend more time with each other and the rest of the family.</p> <p>&quot;The entire and extended Moss clan thank everyone for all their love and support over the years and we wish you all a happy and prosperous 2018.&quot;</p> <p>The British racer won 16 grands prix during his 66-race career, finishing runner-up on four occasions and third on three. Outside of F1, Moss won more than 212 races in various categories, including the 1955 Mille Miglia.</p> <p>His retirement from top-tier motorsport came in 1962 following a crash&nbsp;at Goodwood which left him in a coma for a month and partially paralysed for six, but in his later years he has regularly made public appearances at races and motorsport shows.</p> Timelapse of VJM10 build in Force India receptionFri, 19 Jan 2018 15:22:16 GMT<p>The most successful Sahara Force India car in the team&#39;s history, the VJM10, has been officially consigned to the history books and it will now grace the reception of Force India&#39;s Silverstone headquarters.</p> <p>In&nbsp;an emotional moment, bringing up memories of happy points-scoring Sundays and of performances that brought the team&nbsp;to the biggest championship tally in their history. As work behind the scenes continues on its successor, the crew assembled in the lobby of the factory to build the VJM10 one final time.</p> <p>In less than one hour the creation, the very specimen used by Checo Perez in the 2017 season, was sent off into a happy retirement, never to turn a wheel in anger again.</p> rules out Formula 1 entry until costs are reducedFri, 19 Jan 2018 13:00:56 GMT<p><strong>Ford&#39;s Motorsport boss, Mark Rushbrook, has ruled out another foray into Formula 1 for the </strong><strong>forseeable</strong><strong>&nbsp;future for the American car giant, with costs of competing being far too high to consider an entry.</strong></p> <p>Ford last competed in Formula 1 in 2004 as an engine manufacturer with Jaguar Racing before leaving the sport for the 2005 season and selling their Cosworth branch.&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite the high cost of competing in the premier single seater series, Rushbrook explained to <em>Autocar</em> that F1 is more attractive than other alternatives such as Formula E, due to its use of hybrid&nbsp;power units.</p> <p>&ldquo;Hybrid power will be relevant for a long time for Ford, especially if it introduces budgets,&rdquo; he told <em>Autocar</em>,&nbsp;later explaining that controlled spending in the series would be needed for Ford to consider an entry as, at present,&nbsp;&ldquo;cost reduction in F1 is all relative. If you cap in one area, [manufacturers] will spend in another&rdquo;.</p> <p>In racing, Ford&#39;s primary focus is on the World Endurance Championship and the WRC in which Ford will increase its involvement with M-Sport who won both the Drivers&#39; and Manufacturers&#39; Championships&nbsp;last season.</p> <p>&ldquo;Specifically for WRC, there&rsquo;s now more financial commitment but also more technical support from us. For 2018, we can help with more technical analysis of the car&rsquo;s engine and look at its flow and combustion to improve performance,&rdquo; Rushbrook added.</p> <p>&ldquo;A lot of the hardware we use in the WRC&nbsp;we can also use on road cars, so by testing them in this hard competition environment [in which it faces stiff opposition&nbsp;from Citroen, Hyundai and Toyota], it stresses them to far greater levels than on a road car. It&rsquo;s very useful data.&rdquo;</p> <p>F1 is planning to dramatically reduce costs from 2021 onwards, with a simplified hybrid engine, whilst a budget cap is also under consideration.</p> Sirotkin requests 35 as permanent F1 race numberFri, 19 Jan 2018 10:48:07 GMT<p>Williams youngster Sergey Sirotkin is set to use 35 as his official race number through his Formula 1 career, as he prepares to make his debut in 2018.</p> <p>Sirotkin, who finished third in GP2 in both 2015 and 2016, spent two years in test and reserve roles with Renault, receiving practice runs, having previously held a similar position at Sauber in 2014.</p> <p>With Renault having opted to recruit Carlos Sainz Jr. to partner Nico Hulkenberg, Sirotkin turned his attentions to Williams, and tested for the team during post-race tyre running in Abu Dhabi last November.</p> <p>Williams gave Sirotkin the nod for the race seat vacated by the retired Felipe Massa for 2018 and the Russian will partner Lance Stroll this season.</p> <p>Under regulations introduced in 2014, each driver selects a number between 2 and 99 to carry through their careers, with 1 reserved for the reigning champion and 17 retired in honour of the late Jules Bianchi.</p> <p>Sirotkin has requested 35, though this has yet to be formally approved, with the number currently allocated to one of Force India&rsquo;s test cars; George Russell carried it during practice in Brazil and Abu Dhabi last year.</p> <p>The last time 35 was used in race trim was at the 1991 San Marino Grand Prix, where Eric van der Poele classified ninth for the Lamborghini-affiliated Modena team.</p> <p>Sirotkin&#39;s fellow 2018 rookie, Sauber&#39;s Charles Leclerc, has selected 16 as his permanent number.</p> Leclerc expects return to current-year power unit to aid SauberFri, 19 Jan 2018 09:56:47 GMT<p>Ferrari-backed Sauber rookie Charles Leclerc reckons the team&rsquo;s return to using current-year power units should act as a boost this season, after recent struggles.</p> <p>Sauber finished 10th in the standings in 2014 and 2016, its plight accentuated by financial issues, and switched to using year-old Ferrari engines for 2017, having utilised the marque&#39;s current-year power units in prior seasons.</p> <p>Sauber&rsquo;s decision to use a previous spec engine contributed to it finishing 10th again in the championship, and mid-season managerial changes led to the cancellation of its planned Honda deal.</p> <p>Newly-installed team boss Frederic Vasseur renewed Sauber&rsquo;s association with Ferrari, returning to current-spec units for 2018, as the team signed a partnership deal with FCA offshoot Alfa Romeo.</p> <p>Leclerc, who won the GP3 title in 2016 with the Vasseur-run ART Grand Prix operation, reckons Sauber will gain from its engine decision, as he prepares for his Formula 1 debut.</p> <p>&ldquo;Like for any racing driver, signing the first contract as a full-time driver in Formula 1 is a dream come true,&rdquo; said reigning F2 champion Leclerc.</p> <p>&ldquo;Having the new 2018-spec Ferrari engine in place will be a big boost for the team. The newly formed partnership with Alfa Romeo is also exciting news.</p> <p>&ldquo;As for my personal expectations &ndash; my primary goal is to continue developing my skills as a driver, and to gain as much experience in Formula 1 as I can.</p> <p>&ldquo;In terms of my expectations and goals, I will work hard to support the team in developing the car during the season, so that we are able to obtain the best possible results in the 2018 season.&rdquo;</p> <p>Leclerc will line up alongside Marcus Ericsson at Sauber, the Swede set for his fifth season in the championship and fourth with Sauber, having joined the team at the end of 2014.</p> <p>Leclerc reckons he can profit from Ericsson&rsquo;s experience, the 27-year-old having racked up more starts in Formula 1 than half of the 2018 grid.</p> <p>&ldquo;It has been quite easy to get to know Marcus,&rdquo; Leclerc said. &ldquo;He is going into his fifth season in Formula 1 and I can definitely learn from him, especially in terms of all of the new procedures which I am currently getting used to.</p> <p>&ldquo;My main expectation and goal for the season in terms of our cooperation is that we work together constructively, and provide the team with as much feedback as possible to develop the car in the right direction, so that we can both have a satisfying season.&rdquo;</p> announce launch date for Renault-powered MCL33Thu, 18 Jan 2018 11:03:37 GMT<p>McLaren has announced the launch date for its new 2018 car, the&nbsp;MCL33, will be on February 23, just days before pre-season is due to get underway in Barcelona.</p> <p>Having now switched to Renault power after three lacklustre years with Honda, the British team is aiming to secure podiums and fight towards the front of the field.</p> <p>A change of colour has been hinted at for the 2018 season, the historical papaya orange which Fernando Alonso ran at the Indy 500 for McLaren Andretti Autosport is the direction the team is set to go in.</p> <p>The team will field an unchanged driver line-up, with Alonso staying on for a fourth season and Stoffel Vandoorne remaining for his sophomore campaign.</p> <p>European F3 champion Lando Norris will act as test and reserve driver, alongside his Formula 2 duties with Carlin.</p> <p><strong>Confirmed Launch Dates</strong></p> <p><strong>Ferrari - February 22<br /> Mercedes - February 22<br /> McLaren - February 23<br /> Toro Rosso - February 25</strong></p> Rosso confirms 2018 challenger launch dateThu, 18 Jan 2018 10:41:33 GMT<p>Toro Rosso have&nbsp;become the latest team to confirm the date of its 2018 car launch, with the Italian outfit switching to Honda power this year.</p> <p>Toro Rosso have scheduled a launch event on the evening of February 25, the day before pre-season testing kicks-off in Barcelona where the STR13 &ndash; name to be confirmed &ndash;&nbsp;will get its first public shakedown along with its rivals.</p> <p>It will be the team&#39;s first year with Honda power following a late switch last year, with McLaren dumping&nbsp;the Japanese supplier in favour of Renault &ndash; a deal which could have only happened if Toro Rosso agreed to end its contract with the French manufacturer early.</p> <p>It will therefore be the only Honda-powered team on the 2018 grid. Toro Rosso will be hoping Honda can get its act together following three years of struggles on both the performance and reliability side.</p> <p><strong>Confirmed Launch Dates</strong></p> <p><strong>Ferrari - February 22<br /> Mercedes - February 22<br /> McLaren - February 23<br /> Toro Rosso - February 25</strong></p> confirm Silverstone launch date for W09Thu, 18 Jan 2018 10:25:07 GMT<p>Reigning Formula 1 World Champions Mercedes will launch its W09 at Silverstone on February 22, a few days prior to the start of pre-season testing.</p> <p>Mercedes has secured both titles in each year of the hybrid era, and last season fended off a resurgent Ferrari, with Lewis Hamilton beating Sebastian Vettel in the Drivers&#39; standings.</p> <p>Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who took three wins last year, will be on hand to pull the covers from the W09 at the home of the British Grand Prix, with the launch also set to be broadcast to spectators online.</p> <p>Both drivers will then give the car a shakedown, with the team opting to use the event as one of its allocated filming days, with 100km of action permitted on Pirelli&rsquo;s promotional tyres, repeating its approach from 2017.</p> <p>Ferrari will also take the wraps off its 2018 Formula 1 challenger on the same day, and Mercedes stressed that it is workely closely with its opponents to ensure that there are no time clashes.</p> <p>Pre-season testing will then get underway at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on February 26.</p> <p><strong>Confirmed Launch Dates</strong></p> <p><strong>Ferrari - February 22<br /> Mercedes - February 22<br /> McLaren - February 23<br /> Toro Rosso - February 25</strong></p> Sports LatAm strikes new Formula 1 broadcasting dealWed, 17 Jan 2018 19:59:57 GMT<p>Formula 1 will be broadcast on FOX Sports Latin America in 19 countries throughout South and Central America until 2022 in a new deal.</p> <p>The deal, which excludes Brazil, will see the cable and satellite&nbsp;broadcaster showing all three practice sessions, qualifying and the race live across its three channels:&nbsp;FOX Sports, FOX Sports 2 and FOX Premium Action.</p> <p>Additional programming will also be offered in the form of El Show de la Formula 1, GP1 and Circuito FOX Sports providing extra coverage pre and post races, reviews and previews, behind-the-scenes features, driver and team interviews, insight and extra analysis.</p> <p>The deal also includes broadcast rights to feeder series Formula 2 and GP3 Series.</p> <p>F1 has retained &quot;certain digital rights&quot; &ndash; as it moves to launch its own OTT (over-the-top) digital service in 2018, as well as live FTA (free-to-air) coverage of any races taking place within the region (currently just Mexico), plus &quot;delayed FTA highlights everywhere else in the region.&quot;</p> <p>&ldquo;We are very happy to have FOX Sports as a partner in Latin America for the next five years,&quot; commented&nbsp;Ian Holmes, director of Media Rights at Formula 1.&nbsp;&quot;This new agreement represents a great opportunity and will allow us to bring the FIA Formula 1 World Championship in 19 countries throughout South and Central America where Formula 1 has a strongly established tradition as well as huge potential to gather and galvanise new fans.&quot;</p> <p>Carlos Martinez, president, FOX Networks Group Latin America, added: &quot;We are happy to have such a relevant property as the FIA Formula 1 World Championship back on FOX Sports in our robust motorsport content proposal.</p> <p>&quot;We&rsquo;re thankful to Formula 1 for trusting FOX Sports and our team to broadcast Formula 1 to more than 45 million Spanish-speaking homes in Latin America. The passion of Latin American fans for car racing makes this category key to our content offering, and we will contribute with our know-how to make the experience of living it in our portfolio unbeatable.&quot;</p> <p><a href="">F1 recently confirmed an extended broadcasting deal with Movistar+ across Spain.</a></p> Rosberg wishes to rebuild friendship with former Mercedes team-mate Lewis HamiltonWed, 17 Jan 2018 14:08:02 GMT<p>2016 Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg has revealed that he wishes to rebuild the lost friendship he once had with former Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.</p> <p>During their junior years in karting both Hamilton and Rosberg competed against each other regularly and became good friends, both dreaming of fighting for the F1 world title against each other in the same team.</p> <p>After a four-year partnership&nbsp;at the Silver Arrows, Rosberg finally clinched the title in 2016 after a thrilling battle&nbsp;with Hamilton for the third year running. With Mercedes having dominated the grid since 2014 it meant the pair had to battle each other on track putting a strain on their long-standing friendship.</p> <p>During a Twitter&nbsp;Q&amp;A, the German answered a question from a fan, which was if the four-time world champion was &#39;as annoying behind the cameras as he is on them?&#39; Rosberg defended his former team-mate by saying:&nbsp;&quot;We were really good friends back in the day and I still have a lot of respect for him and always will have.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;In private he&#39;s a good guy, so of course, it&#39;s always different the way you get perceived on camera and how you are in that big F1 world, but in private I can say he is a really good guy with some good values. So I hope maybe with time one day we can get back to getting on better.&quot;</p> <p>Rosberg also revealed&nbsp;that beating the Briton to the world title made the feeling even sweeter having never once bested Hamilton during their battles in junior formula, believing it was the best way to round off his career after announcing&nbsp;his shock retirement just days after clinching the world title in Abu Dhabi.</p> <p>&quot;That sort of battle, it doesn&#39;t get better than that. Racing against one of the best of all time in the same car as you...awesome. Then to come out beating him at the end, doing better than that is not possible and that&#39;s why it gave me such fulfillment for my career. It couldn&#39;t have ended in a better way and the opponent counts in that.&quot;</p> drivers criticise Haas team principal Guenther Steiner over F1 driver policyWed, 17 Jan 2018 12:02:16 GMT<p>Drivers from the United States have criticised Haas team principal Guenther Steiner over comments he made where he said there were no US drivers&nbsp;ready for Formula 1.</p> <p>The Austrian recently told <em>Motorsport</em>&nbsp;concerning US drivers: &quot;It&#39;s not on top of our list, it&#39;s on top of our list if there&#39;s a good one. Obviously, we want one. But then maybe, if there is a really good one, would they come to us?</p> <p>&quot;Just having an American driver who maybe cannot compete at a certain level is maybe not good for the sport. [Signing an American driver] would be an ambition, but at the moment there is nobody ready for F1 in the United States in my opinion.&quot;</p> <p>Haas does&nbsp;have 19-year old Santino Ferrucci on their books as a&nbsp;test and reserve driver but has yet to see an official outing with the team.&nbsp;Haas has been reluctant to dip into the driver pool stateside despite the raft of talent within the IndyCar series, leading many to question how genuine they are in wanting to bring American drivers onto the world stage.</p> <p>Graham Rahal took to Twitter to say: &quot;American drivers are damn good. I stand by that, there&rsquo;s lots of talent here. Stay in IndyCar, it&rsquo;s far more competitive anyway!&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Always funny the Haas team mentality. &#39;Americans aren&rsquo;t good enough&#39;, yet they haven&rsquo;t even given us a shot. Not worth our time.&quot;</p> <p>Conor Daly added: &quot;How can you possibly call yourselves an &#39;American&#39;&nbsp;team and totally berate your entire &#39;home&#39;&nbsp;nationality of drivers? There hasn&rsquo;t even been a hint of consideration of any well established American drivers over here.&quot;</p> <p>While 1978 F1 world champion Mario Andretti simply added it was &quot;Wrong and arrogant&quot;.</p> <p>Even Britain&#39;s Max Chilton believes it is wrong to overlook the &#39;world class&#39; talents in IndyCar having left F1 to go to the US and feels it is necessary for a culture change to get IndyCar drivers noticed in F1, he told <em>ESPN</em>: &quot;Scott Dixon, who was my team-mate last year, I think he&#39;s one of the best drivers in the world and he could give anyone a run for their money in a Formula 1 car &ndash;&nbsp;but no one has ever given him a look-in, like when there was a seat going at Mercedes.</p> <p>&quot;It needs a culture change for them to look at IndyCar drivers as a possibility, and I hope there is because there are world-class drivers that are being wasted and could be doing even bigger things in the public eye in Formula One and doing better than some of the people already there.&quot;</p> Robert Kubica's F1 comeback dream remains within reachWed, 17 Jan 2018 10:38:12 GMT<p><strong>Robert Kubica will not be on the Formula 1 grid in 2018, but the door remains open, through his new role with Williams, a signal that both driver and team are keen to continue evaluations, as Motorsport Week analyses.</strong></p> <p>That Robert Kubica&rsquo;s role as a reserve/development driver in Formula 1 this season has been received in some quarters as disappointing only highlights the remarkable desire for the Pole to return to a race seat. Kubica barely registered on Formula 1&rsquo;s radar 12 months ago &ndash; six years after his seemingly career-ending accident &ndash; but has brought himself back into contention through a rigorous training programme, determination, commitment, and the aspiration from a couple of teams to see if the driver that lit up Formula 1 a decade ago is still there.</p> <p>Barring another twist of fate, Kubica will not line up on the grid in Melbourne, nor will he be one of 20 waiting for the lights to go out in Abu Dhabi in November, but the comeback dream is still alive through his new Williams role.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/Hungary/Hungary%20Test/jm1702au89.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>Kubica tested for Renault in Hungary last August</figcaption> </figure> <p>Even at this early stage of the year &ndash; with pre-season testing still over a month away &ndash; Williams has given an indication of Kubica&rsquo;s role within the team. For some teams, a reserve/development role &ndash; particularly the latter &ndash; is little more than a name, and more likely to be awarded to a well-funded youngster. Even then a reserve/development driver can end up being gazumped by external circumstances, perchance a driver with a larger stack of cash. Kubica&rsquo;s role is more intriguing. Even though he has only the same number of starts as Marcus Ericsson &ndash; and only four current Formula 1 drivers have shared a grid with Kubica &ndash; he will be regarded as the more experienced, mentor-like back-up for Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin, who head into 2018 with comparatively little knowledge and no realistic benchmark. He will also be the driver to which Williams turns if Stroll or Sirotkin are indisposed.</p> <p>Kubica has already been promised outings during pre-season and in-season testing, as well as runs at selected Grands Prix, to assist Williams with its development but ostensibly to also offer him a chance to further prove his credentials. This is significantly more than his immediate similarly-titled predecessors received. Alex Lynn, as development driver, received in-season test days, filling the young driver quota, but did not get near a practice session. Adrian Sutil, drafted in as reserve in the aftermath of Valtteri Bottas missing the 2015 Australian GP through a back injury, was merely there for show, and never got near a car. The same fate largely befell successor Paul di Resta, until he assisted Stroll&rsquo;s development in a 2014-spec FW36, and received a last-gasp chance last year in Hungary when Massa fell ill. Felipe Nasr, in 2014, was the last driver to receive such a substantial programme as reserve driver, running three test days and five FP1s - though sponsorship played a large factor there.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="227" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/Abu%20Dhabi/jm1728no108.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>Abu Dhabi test produced mixed results</figcaption> </figure> <p>The test and practice runs permits Williams to fully evaluate Kubica, and Kubica to improve his understanding, to answer some of the question marks which remain. Was his so-so display in Abu Dhabi the most he could achieve, or was it a case of a driver grappling with notoriously fickle tyres, and getting back into a rhythm, with his tests coming in different machinery at a variety of circuits. His programme of testing was disjointed, to say the least. Could a world-class tennis player spend so long out of the game, play a few training matches with different-sized rackets on different surfaces and expect to be at their previous level straight away? Therein lies the predicament facing Kubica and Williams. They simply do not know and could not immediately take the risk; creating his 2018 programme provides both parties with the chance to undertake further evaluations. Kubica, at least, believes he can still hack it, else he would not be trying. Equally, in handing him track time, Williams is clearly keen to get a full picture.</p> <p>&ldquo;I feel in the best physical shape that I have ever been, but it has taken a lot of work to get to where I am now,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;d like to thank Williams for the opportunities they have given me so far, and for putting their faith in me with this appointment.</p> <p>&ldquo;I have enjoyed being back in the Formula 1 paddock over these past few months, and I now look forward to working with the Williams technical team, both at the factory and at the track, to really help push forward the development of the FW41 and to make a real difference to their 2018 campaign. Having driven both the FW36 and the FW40, I&rsquo;m looking forward to seeing how the FW41 measures up on track and working with the team to ensure we can maximise the performance of the car. My ultimate goal remains to race again in Formula 1 and this is another important step in that direction: I cannot wait to get started.&rdquo;</p> <p>The sun hasn&rsquo;t yet set on the Hype Train&hellip;</p> <p style="text-align:center"><img alt="" height="534" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/Abu%20Dhabi/jm1729no86.jpg" width="800" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Robert Kubica returns to F1 with development/test roleTue, 16 Jan 2018 17:33:20 GMT<p>Hear from Robert Kubica, who&nbsp;will join Williams Racing in 2018 as the team&#39;s reserve and development driver.</p> Lowe expects Robert Kubica's F1 experience to boost WilliamsTue, 16 Jan 2018 16:29:06 GMT<p>Williams technical chief Paddy Lowe expects Robert Kubica&rsquo;s presence as reserve/development driver to bolster the squad&rsquo;s resources through 2018.</p> <p>Kubica competed in Formula 1 between 2006 and 2010 but sustained serious arm injuries in a rally accident in early 2011, restricting his movement, and ruling him out of competition.</p> <p>Kubica rebuilt his career on the rallying scene before returning to circuit action, and began preparations for a return to Formula 1 in 2017.</p> <p>The Pole tested for Renault before turning his attention to Williams, linking up with the team for two private tests, prior to a run in its FW40 at the Abu Dhabi tyre test.</p> <p>Kubica was regarded as a genuine candidate to replace Felipe Massa but fellow tester Sergey Sirotkin impressed Williams, and has captured the race seat for 2018, alongside Lance Stroll.</p> <p>Kubica, though, has taken up a role with Williams, which will result in test outings both pre- and in-season, along with a handful of practice runs at Grands Prix, having outlined he wants to return to a race seat.</p> <p>Lowe believes Kubica&rsquo;s assimilation within Williams will assist its prospects, with the team entering 2018 with the least experienced line-up in Stroll and Sirotkin.</p> <p>&ldquo;First and foremost, we&rsquo;d like to congratulate Robert on what he has achieved so far,&rdquo; said Lowe.</p> <p>&ldquo;To overcome his injuries, return to fitness, and drive a Formula 1 car again is a remarkable achievement, and one that few considered possible.</p> <p>&ldquo;We anticipate Robert will make a strong technical contribution to the team, using his wealth of experience in track testing, simulator work, and support to the race drivers and engineers at every race.</p> <p>&ldquo;He is a driver I have admired for many years and I am personally very happy to be working with him towards our 2018 championship.&rdquo;</p> <p>Williams also outlined that Kubica &lsquo;will also support the team&rsquo;s media and sponsorship support programme&rsquo; through the course of the year.</p> Hamilton, Mercedes get Laureus World Sports nominationsTue, 16 Jan 2018 14:29:26 GMT<p><strong>Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have been nominated for the Laureus World S</strong><strong>portsman</strong><strong> and T</strong><strong>eam</strong><strong> of the Year awards for 2018.</strong></p> <p>Last season marked yet another strong campaign for the pair, with the Silver Arrows claiming a fourth Constructors&#39; Championship title in a row while Hamilton secured a fourth Drivers&#39; Championship, beating Ferrari&#39;s Sebastian Vettel to the crown after an intense battle over the course of the season.</p> <p>In the Sportsman of the Year category, Hamilton faces stiff opposition from cycling ace Chris Froome, tennis legend Roger Federer, his rival, Rafael Nadal, Real Madrid&#39;s Christiano Ronaldo and Sports Personality of the Year winner, Mo Farrah.&nbsp;</p> <p>In the Team category, Mercedes has been nominated along with the France Davis Cup Tennis Team, NBA champions, the Golden Gate Warriors, the New Zealand America&#39;s Cup Team, Real Madrid football club, and 2017 Super Bowl winners, the New England Patriots.&nbsp;</p> <p>In last year&#39;s awards, sprinting sensation Usain Bolt won the coveted Sportsman of the Year award while the Chicago Cubs became the Team of the Year. Hamilton&#39;s former teammate, Nico Rosberg, won the Breakthrough of the Year award for his 2016 championship win.</p> <p>In the Best Sporting Moment category, Kimi Raikkonen&#39;s actions at the Spanish Grand Prix have been nominated, with the Finn crashing out of the race on the first lap before making a young fan&#39;s day by inviting Thomas Danel into the paddock to spend time with him when the boy was spotted crying in a grandstand. In the same category, Billy Monger&#39;s recovery after his life-changing F4 crash has also been nominated.</p> <p>Outside of Formula 1, MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi has been nominated in the Comeback of the Year category for his return to racing after suffering from&nbsp;displaced fractures of his tibia and fibula in his right leg.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Laureus World Sports Awards will be held in Monaco on February 27, 2018.</p> Kubica gets test and practice sessions as Williams reserve driverTue, 16 Jan 2018 11:38:27 GMT<p>Robert Kubica has retained his Formula 1 links after being named as Williams&rsquo; reserve and development driver for the forthcoming campaign.</p> <p>Kubica, whose Formula 1 career was truncated by a rally accident in 2011, began preparations for a comeback in 2017, firstly with Renault, before turning his focus to Williams, sampling its FW40 in Abu Dhabi last November.</p> <p>However, Williams leaned towards Sergey Sirotkin, who tested alongside Kubica, for the vacant race seat alongside Lance Stroll, and have handed the Russian his debut.</p> <p>Nonetheless, shortly after confirming Sirotkin as Stroll&rsquo;s team-mate, Williams revealed that Kubica will act as its reserve driver through 2018.</p> <p>Kubica will participate in pre-season and in-season testing, along with selected FP1 outings at Grands Prix, and reiterated that his goal is to secure a race seat in the future.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m extremely happy to be joining the Williams team as its official Reserve and Development Driver this season,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;I feel in the best physical shape that I have ever been, but it has taken a lot of work to get to where I am now, so I&rsquo;d like to thank Williams for the opportunities they have given me so far, and for putting their faith in me with this appointment.</p> <p>&ldquo;I have enjoyed being back in the Formula One paddock over these past few months, and I now look forward to working with the Williams technical team, both at the factory and at the track, to really help push forward the development of the FW41 and to make a real difference to their 2018 campaign.</p> <p>&ldquo;Having driven both the FW36 and the FW40, I&rsquo;m looking forward to seeing how the FW41 measures up on track and working with the team to ensure we can maximise the performance of the car.</p> <p>&ldquo;My ultimate goal remains to race again in Formula One and this is another important step in that direction: I cannot wait to get started.&rdquo;</p> Sergey Sirotkin gets Formula 1 crack with WilliamsTue, 16 Jan 2018 11:26:29 GMT<p>Almost five years after he was thrust into the Formula 1 limelight, Sergey Sirotkin will step up to a race seat with Williams in 2018; Motorsport Week reflects on his path to this stage&hellip;</p> <p>It was mid-2013 when a young, slim, pale, wide-eyed Russian came to the widespread attention of the motorsport community. Sauber, as it entered the financial setbacks which would plague the team for several years, sought a relationship with a group of Russian investors and technology groups, resulting in the then 17-year-old Sirotkin joining the team, and being lined up for a race seat in 2014. At the time, the notion of Sirotkin&rsquo;s path to Formula 1 being accelerated so rapidly was baffling, for someone so young being fast-tracked to the top had the aura of career-wrecking about it. Sirotkin acquitted himself well with the media at Monza, approaching the situation with humility and eloquence, but ultimately his mooted race seat for 2014 became a test role &ndash; a wise move.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="267" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/Abu%20Dhabi/jm1305se05.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>Sirotkin&#39;s first paddock appearance came in 2013 with Sauber</figcaption> </figure> <p>Sirotkin remained in Formula Renault 3.5 &ndash; switching from ISR to the more-fancied Fortec operation &ndash; and improved, but retirements derailed his title prospects, and he wound up fifth. The link, too, with Sauber, was fading; a test run in Bahrain was stymied by ill-fitting shoes (literally, not metaphorically) and though he received a home run during practice in Russia, the emergence of Red Bull-bound Toro Rosso rookie Daniil Kvyat had removed a chunk of the attention from Sirotkin. Sirotkin proclaimed he felt ready for Formula 1 &ndash; though no switched-on youngster responds negatively when such a proposal is put to them &ndash; but there was little interest, and he quietly slipped away from contention at Sauber.</p> <p>Sensing a change was required, Sirotkin jumped ship from Formula Renault 3.5 to GP2, joining Rapax, which had carried Pastor Maldonado to the 2010 title, Stefano Coletti to a trio of 2013 wins, but little else of note. With an ostensibly midfield operation, Sirotkin emerged as top rookie, the highlight a dominant victory at Silverstone, where he was imperious. There were few mistakes, and he classified third overall, behind only runaway champion Stoffel Vandoorne and now-IndyCar front-runner and 500 champion Alexander Rossi.</p> <p>Sirotkin replaced Vandoorne at ART &ndash; and also bagged a Renault F1 test role &ndash; for 2016, but two critical mistakes at the first two events dealt a blow to his championship aspirations. While chasing victories in Spain and Monaco, having taken pole for the latter, Sirotkin made mistakes. He spun out in Spain and crashed in Monaco. And, as these errors came in Feature Races, it ruined his Sprint Races too. Amid an unpredictable, mixed-up start to a season which gradually became an in-house fight between Prema pair Pierre Gasly and Antonio Giovinazzi, Sirotkin sat on four points, when he could have had 50. Sirotkin, at the time, was inconsolable.&nbsp;</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="267" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/Abu%20Dhabi/jm1611no149.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>Sirotkin linked up with Renault in 2016</figcaption> </figure> <p>&ldquo;The start [of the season] is a bit of a joke, I would say,&quot; he explained mid-2016. &ldquo;You would not believe that absolutely every single part of the run goes absolutely against you.&rdquo;</p> <p>After Silverstone he sat 11<sup>th</sup> overall, but rebounded spectacularly, taking back-to-back wins in Hungary and Germany, propelling himself to the top of the standings, and cut a cautious-yet-optimistic figure.</p> <p>Sirotkin, though, was proved correct with his assertion that the points lead &ldquo;meant nothing&rdquo; &ndash; just when he was meant to kick-on, the opposite happened. He scored just two points across Belgium and Italy. That was that. Sirotkin finished third &ndash; again &ndash; after a frustratingly perplexing season, displaying supreme pace and potential at times, and making inexplicable mistakes or being off-colour at others. &nbsp;It proved why thrusting him into a Formula 1 seat for 2014 would have been a massive gamble. And, with how Sauber&rsquo;s campaign turned out, probably career-wrecking. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Aside from a Le Mans outing and Formula 2 run as a late stand-in, Sirotkin spent 2017 on the sidelines, focusing on his role as Renault&rsquo;s reserve driver, receiving four FP1 runs and test outings, while away from the spotlight he amassed substantial mileage in private sessions in Renault&rsquo;s 2012-spec E20 at Valencia. Having found the non-racing role tougher than anticipated, Sirotkin and his backers naturally explored 2018 options, though any lingering Renault aspirations were extinguished when Carlos Sainz Jr. was prised to partner Nico Hulkenberg.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="267" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/Abu%20Dhabi/jm1729no05.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>Williams test in Abu Dhabi proved crucial</figcaption> </figure> <p>The test with Williams, next to Robert Kubica, proved crucial, and Sirotkin now has his opportunity to shine on a global stage. Undoubtedly, he faces a challenge: Williams has slipped down the order in recent years, a situation which could be accentuated by expected McLaren and Renault progress this year. Sirotkin will be the least experienced driver on the Formula 1 grid, has had the least time to assimilate with his new surroundings, and will line up alongside another relatively inexperienced pilot, who in turn had a sketchy rookie campaign. There are also the finances to consider, for if Williams&rsquo; decision was purely performance based, it would not have prolonged its selection process; such economic backing is a blessing and a curse in equal measure. Consequently, fully assessing the exploits of Sirotkin &ndash; and, as a result, Williams &ndash; will be challenging, when the goalposts are not so much moving but scattered around.</p> <p>It will, therefore, be a rollercoaster ride &ndash; but that merely follows in line with Sirotkin&rsquo;s junior career. He now has a ticket to ride &ndash; and has to grab the opportunity with both hands.</p> confirms Sergey Sirotkin for 2018 F1 seatTue, 16 Jan 2018 11:13:32 GMT<p>Williams has officially confirmed Sergey Sirotkin as Lance Stroll&#39;s team-mate for 2018, completing the grid, with Robert Kubca <a href="">appointed as reserve driver</a>.</p> <p>Sirotkin, following two years in Renault test/reserve roles, linked up with Williams for the post-race tyre test in Abu Dhabi, where he drove alongside Kubica, ostensibly in a shootout for 2018.</p> <p>Sirotkin has been given the nod to join Stroll, in place of the retired Felipe Massa, and will be one of two rookies on the grid this season.</p> <p>&quot;To say I&rsquo;m happy and proud to join such a famous team like Williams is an understatement,&quot; said Sirotkin, who finished third in GP2 in 2015 and 2016.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;It took a huge amount of work to get where I am, and I&rsquo;m really happy and thankful to everyone involved. The result of our combined efforts has helped me achieve my dream, and rest assured the team can rely on me to deliver my best.&quot;</p> <p>Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams added: &quot;After an extensive driver evaluation process, I am thrilled to have our 2018 line-up finalised, and I&rsquo;m excited to see what next season brings.</p> <p>&quot;We have taken our time to evaluate all the available options, and I&rsquo;m confident Lance and Sergey can deliver the best results for the team.</p> <p>&quot;The Williams philosophy has always been to promote and develop young talent and Sergey fits right into that ethos.</p> <p>&quot;Lance has had a record-breaking debut season, and with a year now under his belt, he will be ready to hit the ground running in 2018. We have a talented driver line-up for 2018, that we are confident will deliver some exciting results for the team.&quot;</p> <p>Sirotkin, 22, and Stroll, 19, will form the youngest and least experienced line-up on the grid this year.</p> Alfa Romeo set the F1 pace - and more recently than you thinkMon, 15 Jan 2018 20:48:29 GMT<p><strong>Alfa Romeo is back in F1. Its deep red will bedeck some of the Sauber this season.</strong></p> <p>Or rather Alfa&rsquo;s sort of back. It&rsquo;s not the long awaited fifth hybrid engine supplier; it&rsquo;s a badging arrangement reflecting Alfa is in the same stable as Sauber&rsquo;s actual supplier Ferrari (and that there&rsquo;s closer ties generally than before). Nothing wrong with that. You wonder why similar isn&rsquo;t done routinely &ndash; Renault could badge one of its offerings as a Nissan for example.</p> <p>But we know about Alfa Romeo and Grand Prix racing. It was a famous presence pre-war then won the first two F1 world championships in 1950 and &rsquo;51. But then quit while it was ahead with a long in the tooth car and whipper-snapper Ferrari by now on its case.</p> <p>But Alfa did return between times. First as an engine supplier in the 1970s, then as a full scale works team from 1979 to 1985. This was a lot less successful particularly in the latter case &ndash; a couple of poles, a handful of podiums, lots of retirements and a best placing of sixth in the constructors&rsquo; table.</p> <p>But incongruously at the end of its first full season back, in 1980, Alfa in fact had a spell in the sun, being a consistent front-runner. Several strong results were lost to circumstance. And at the wheel was the about as unlikely figure of Bruno Giacomelli. Like his team his career stats don&rsquo;t do much for him. Like his team he entered 1980 maligned. But like his team on closer inspection there was more to it.</p> <p>Alfa&rsquo;s return as a constructor in Alan Henry&rsquo;s words &ldquo;raised more than a titter of mirth&rdquo; what with its wacky recent record in supplying engines. And at the start of 1980 Alfa indeed lived down to expectations, its bulbous 179 qualifying four seconds off the pace in the opening round.</p> <p>But the car improved &ndash; it shed some of its weight and got new suspension, sidepods and skirts. Patrick Depailler &ndash; brought in as lead driver and considered damaged goods, in more than one sense, after ceding a place in the 1979 title battle by sustaining severe leg injuries while hang gliding &ndash; qualified third at Long Beach and ran with the leaders before retirement at Monaco.</p> <blockquote> <p>Incongruously at the end of its first full season back, in 1980, Alfa in fact had a spell in the sun, being a consistent front-runner. And at the wheel was the about as unlikely figure of Bruno Giacomelli.</p> </blockquote> <p>Yet the changes mentioned didn&rsquo;t include the crucial shift. &ldquo;The biggest single improvement came when Goodyear went from a 13-inch front tyre to 15-inch,&rdquo; noted Giacomelli. &ldquo;That allowed us to run a softer compound which suited the car very well. We just got stronger and stronger from that point.&rdquo;</p> <p>Sadly at around the same time Depailler died in testing accident at Hockenheim before the German round, when his suspension failed.</p> <p>But his team mate Giacomelli stepped up to his new responsibility superbly, showing the sort of talent that let him sweep the board in F2, but that had withered a little in the popular consciousness via his first faltering steps in F1. From Depailler&rsquo;s fatal accident mid-year Giacomelli was a factor everywhere.</p> <p>In the Hockenheim race he climbed bravely through the field from a lowly grid position to finish fifth. In Austria he battled Carlos Reutemann&rsquo;s Williams and Nelson Piquet&rsquo;s Brabham, though developed a handling problem that he thought would be cured by a tyre change, but he was released from his stop with a wheel not attached.</p> <p>At the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort Giacomelli was all set to take second place from Jacques Laffite&rsquo;s Ligier but was caught out by overheating brakes and spun, then ended his chances by destroying his skirts (vital for ground effect downforce) clambering over a kerb when rejoining.</p> <p>At the Italian Grand Prix, in 1980 held uniquely at Imola, he started fourth only for a puncture, caused by running over debris from Gilles Villeneuve crashing his Ferrari in front of him, to put him out.</p> <p>In Canada he made a pig&rsquo;s ear of passing Didier Pironi&rsquo;s Ligier for third place, again destroying his skirts on a kerb. And Pironi finished first on the road&hellip;</p> <p>&ldquo;It seemed only a matter of time before we scored a big result,&rdquo; mused Giacomelli later, and it looked for all the world that at 1980&rsquo;s final round, at Watkins Glen in upstate New York, it would arrive.</p> <p>&ldquo;The weather was cool which really suited us because our V12 engine gained considerably more in these conditions than the Cosworth V8s,&rdquo; Giacomelli went on, &ldquo;and the grip from a sliding skirt, ground effect car when it was working well like this was just unbelievable.</p> <p>&ldquo;Added to all that, the balance was neutral, I could do anything with the car, it was just fantastic. Right from the moment practice began on Friday we were quickest. I set pole by 0.8s on race tyres [in the age of good-for-one-lap qualifying rubber]! In the race everything was going perfectly.&rdquo;</p> <p>Indeed. He calmly rebuffed an attack from Piquet on lap one then stroked out a lead of over 10 seconds. Newly-crowned champion Alan Jones had worked his way back to second by mid-distance after running off at the opening corner. Could he have beaten Giacomelli?</p> <p>&ldquo;No way!,&rdquo; Giacomelli insists. &ldquo;I had 500rpm in hand. Quickest through the chicane, quick down the straights too.</p> <blockquote> <p>I was controlling the race, everything was under control, I could have gone a lot faster if I&rsquo;d needed to. Then suddenly it just stopped - Bruno Giacomelli</p> </blockquote> <p>&ldquo;I was already controlling the race, the water was perfect, everything was under control, I could have gone a lot faster if I&rsquo;d needed to.</p> <p>&ldquo;Then suddenly it just stopped.&rdquo; A coil had burnt out. Even Giacomelli&rsquo;s mechanic Ermanno Cuoghi, who had seen more than most, displayed sheer desolation.</p> <p>It got worse as for Alfa it never was so good again. And it heralded a wrong-side-of-the-sliding-doors moment for its driver as well.</p> <p>&ldquo;Because of the strong races I&rsquo;d been having, there was some interest in me from British teams for &lsquo;81,&rdquo; Giacomelli said. &ldquo;I was hot property.</p> <p>&ldquo;There was even talk of me going to Williams and if I&rsquo;d pushed maybe it could have happened. But I didn&rsquo;t want to. As well as the emotional pull of being an Italian racing for the great Alfa Romeo, it seemed like we were on the verge of great things.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;d already driven a development of the car which we never raced at Balocco [the Alfa test track]. It had the engine mounted further forward and aerodynamically was better. Within five laps I&rsquo;d broken the lap record. It felt even better than the Watkins Glen car and I was sure we&rsquo;d be chasing the world championship in 1981. So I stayed.&rdquo;</p> <p>But then everything changed. Amid safety concerns and not least F1&rsquo;s &lsquo;civil war&rsquo; between FISA and FOCA sliding skirts were banned overnight between seasons and a new 6cm ground clearance rule designed to eliminate ground effect downforce was brought in. Alfa, pretty much alone as it transpired, was unwilling to deploy &lsquo;trick&rsquo; suspension systems to get around it.</p> <p>And Goodyear, exasperated by the infighting, withdrew and thus deprived Alfa of its mentioned sweet spot.</p> <blockquote> <p>I&rsquo;d already driven a development of the car which we never raced at Balocco Within five laps I&rsquo;d broken the lap record. I was sure we&rsquo;d be chasing the world championship in 1981. So I stayed - Bruno Giacomelli</p> </blockquote> <p>It presumably is meagre comfort to Giacomelli that a certain Mario Andretti made the same mistake, turning down McLaren to join Alfa for &rsquo;81.</p> <p>But even that was ill-starred. Bringing in such a conspicuous team mate disconcerted the sensitive Giacomelli. &ldquo;He was a World Champion, stronger than me politically,&rdquo; he noted.</p> <p>Designer Gerard Ducarouge arrived mid-1981 to help but while he improved the car the ambience in the team declined, as Alfa&rsquo;s colourful long-serving designer and chief Carlo Chiti resented Ducarouge&rsquo;s presence. &ldquo;Chiti was a nice person if things went the right way, really tough if they didn&rsquo;t,&rdquo; Giacomelli observed.</p> <p>Some of the tale was familiar though. &ldquo;Alfa had been away from racing for a long time and it just couldn&#39;t adapt to sudden changes like this in the way the British teams could,&rdquo; Giacomelli added.</p> <p>&ldquo;Considering my racing background,&rdquo; which was driving for British squads in F3, F2 and early on in his F1 days, &ldquo;it&rsquo;s ironic that I over-estimated Alfa and under-estimated the British teams. It was the biggest mistake of my life.</p> <p>&ldquo;I always felt that, in racing terms, I was more British than Italian.&rdquo;</p> <p>Yet even after a difficult year history had an echo, as again in 1981 in the season-concluding round in America, this time around the Caesars Palace car park in Las Vegas, Giacomelli could and perhaps should have signed off for the winter with a victory.</p> <p>&ldquo;Gilles Villeneuve and I were the only drivers on Michelin&rsquo;s harder 701 compound,&rdquo; Giacomelli reminisced. &ldquo;I tried too hard to keep up with the leaders and half-spun. But then I couldn&rsquo;t get reverse. By the time I got going the leader was about to lap me.&rdquo;</p> <p>Leader Jones indeed was but a few car lengths behind the Alfa once it started to circulate again. But by the end Giacomelli had climbed to third and was but 20 seconds off victor Jones, the Italian having made back a minute. Another tale of what might have been.</p> <p>Yet from then on driver and team entered a downward cycle. Alfa struggled on amid wrangling, upheaval and before long cutbacks too. Then come 1984 fuel restrictions really did for it and its ultra-thirsty power plant.</p> <blockquote> <p>Bruno Giacomelli &ndash; not a politician, nor a hard or devious bastard behind the scenes, &lsquo;just&rsquo; a very fast racing driver besotted by his craft. Is that so hard to understand? It shouldn&rsquo;t be - Paul Fearnley</p> </blockquote> <p>While Giacomelli had a final, again difficult, campaign at Alfa in 1982, wherein his new stable mate Andrea de Cesaris swiftly got the intra-squad upper hand by claiming pole at Long Beach. &ldquo;Andrea was very fast, and the team got excited by that pole,&rdquo; Giacomelli said. &ldquo;But I was perhaps more precise in how a car should be developed. I was still underrated in that team.&rdquo;</p> <p>For 1983 he left for Toleman but it was more of the same, firmly playing second fiddle to Derek Warwick and falling out with boss Alex Hawkridge. &ldquo;He treated me like a 19 year old,&rdquo; Giacomelli rued.</p> <p>After racing elsewhere he then had the slightly surreal final F1 act of repeatedly trying and failing to pre-qualify the Life in 1990, a car with good claim to be F1&rsquo;s worst ever.</p> <p>But for Giacomelli just to race was the thing &ndash; indeed he&rsquo;d turned down a testing role with McLaren so he could take the Life seat. Plus he was intrigued by the Life&rsquo;s W12 engine and by working with ex Ferrari designer Franco Rocchi.</p> <p>As Paul Fearnley concluded, &ldquo;Bruno Giacomelli &ndash; not a politician, nor a hard or devious bastard behind the scenes, &lsquo;just&rsquo; a very fast racing driver besotted by his craft. Is that so hard to understand? It shouldn&rsquo;t be.&rdquo;</p> Vasseur wants Alfa Romeo works team future for SauberMon, 15 Jan 2018 16:39:18 GMT<p>Sauber team principal Frederic Vasseur says the goal is for the Swiss team to become a &quot;fully fledged&quot; Alfa Romeo works team in the future.</p> <p>Alfa Romeo announced it would become the team&#39;s title sponsor in 2018 which includes renaming the team &#39;Alfa Romeo Sauber&#39;, whilst also lending technical assistance throughout the season.</p> <p>Sauber also took on Ferrari junior Charles Leclerc as part of the deal which will see the team using the latest specification of Ferrari engine &ndash; Ferrari and Alfa Romeo share the same chairman in Sergio Marchionne and were both owned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles until Ferrari&#39;s recent flotation.</p> <p>Team boss Vasseur is eyeing a greater collaboration in future which could see Sauber drop the name of its founder, Peter Sauber, in favour of Alfa Romeo.</p> <p>&quot;The company&#39;s executives want to see a fully fledged Alfa Romeo team,&quot; the Frenchman told&nbsp;<em>Auto Hebdo.</em></p> <p>&quot;At this moment in time we are using&nbsp;Ferrari engines, but our goal is not to be a subsidiary of, but the main Alfa Romeo team.&quot;</p> <p>His comments come just days after Peter&nbsp;Sauber &ndash; who sold his stake last year &ndash; assured the Sauber name wouldn&#39;t be dropped and the team would remain a privateer, but Vasseur doesn&#39;t believe that&#39;s viable in the long-term.</p> <p>&quot;Personally, I do not see how in the end a private team can survive in F1,&quot; he added. &quot;Private teams can have a couple of great seasons, like Force India at present, but with the slightest hint of a crisis, the whole outfit can collapse.</p> <p>&quot;Thanks to the cooperation with Alfa Romeo, our team is on a stable course.&quot;</p> approves CP Tech as first Halo supplierMon, 15 Jan 2018 15:54:47 GMT<p>The FIA has approved its first supplier of the Halo head protection device just six weeks before Formula 1 pre-season testing is due to begin.</p> <p>The device, which is constructed out of titanium and weighs approximately 6kg &ndash; although in total with fixings, mounts and chassis changes, that could exceed 10kg &ndash; is being introduced for the 2018 season to F1 and Formula 2 initially, before being rolled out to Formula E for season five later this year.</p> <p>The governing body issued a tender looking for suppliers of the Halo last year and approved its first supplier on Monday, with German company CP Tech given the green-light to begin production and distribution of the device after it successfully proved its version could deflect a tyre at speeds of 140mph (225km/h).</p> <p><font><font>&quot;We chose CP tech as a research and development partner because the company has been able to offer excellent technical solutions,&quot;&nbsp;said Andy Mellor, </font></font>consultant for the Global Institute for Motor Sport Safety.</p> <p><font><font>Thomas Casey, general manager of CPTech added: &quot;This project is a true recognition of our unique expertise and expertise in the complex mechanical processing of titanium and other materials.</font></font></p> <p><font><font>&quot;This is another flagship project that we can be proud of, with our experience of more than 25 years in the field of motorsport.&quot;</font></font></p> <p>The cost of each Halo is &pound;11,300 (&euro;12,700) and it will be a mandatory device affixed to all F1 and F2 cars for testing and racing in 2018 and beyond.</p> legend Dan Gurney passes awayMon, 15 Jan 2018 11:48:47 GMT<p>Dan Gurney, who has&nbsp;died at the age of 86, was a colossus in motor racing history.</p> <p>A racer, a team owner, a car manufacturer and a sage. Gurney was so popular in the United States in the mid-1960s that Car &amp; Driver suggested that he run for President.</p> <p>Gurney was tall (6ft3), graceful and handsome, dashing and charming. He was the archetypal schoolboy hero. He had it all. He won races in Formula 1, Indycars, NASCAR, CanAm and TransAm, not to mention sports cars. His biggest victory came at Le Mans in 1967, when he and AJ Foyt shared a Ford GT40, afterwards spraying champagne from the podium, starting a tradition that is now integral to all celebrations in motorsport today. That same summer he won the Belgian Grand Prix in one of his Eagles, to become only the second American to drive an American car to a Grand Prix victory, following Jimmy Murphy&rsquo;s win in France in 1921, in a Duesenberg.</p> <p>Gurney also invented the gurney flap, a small metal attachment that was bolted to the trailing edge of a rear wing to create more downforce without too much additional drag.</p> <p>He was the first F1 racer to use a full-faced helmet.</p> <p>In F1 circles, there was only one Dan.</p> <p>Born on the affluent north shore of Long Island (Gatsby country), in New York in April 1931, Gurney was the son of John Gurney, a celebrated bass-baritone who sang with the Metropolitan Opera. After he retired in 1947 John Gurney moved his family to sunny California, settling in Corona del Mar, where he became a portrait artist and furniture designer. He still sang on occasion, notably the national anthem at the inaugural Long Beach Grand Prix.</p> <p>Dan was a part of the 1950s sports car boom in California and was quickly spotted by Ferrari&rsquo;s US agent Luigi Chinetti. He was invited to join the Ferrari factory team at Le Mans in the summer of 1958. His smooth and elegant driving style and his speed won him a place racing a works Ferrari F1 car in selected races in 1959, beginning at the French GP. He moved to BRM in 1960, but in Holland suffered a brake failure which caused him to crash, breaking an arm and killing a young spectator. He changed his driving style after the accident and developed a marked distrust of engineers.</p> <p>The change in F1 regulations led him to a switch to the Porsche factory team in 1961 and he won his first World Championship victory the following year at Rouen, before moving to Brabham from 1963 to 1965, when he showed his pace but was often let down by mechanical trouble. With the arrival of the new 3-litre Formula 1 in 1966 he started his own Anglo American Racers and began competing with the Eagle-Weslake, winning his first victory in Belgium in 1967. His Eagles were successful in the US but struggled with the Weslake V12s and Gurney shut down the F1 operation in 1968 and he raced for McLaren on and off that year and in 1970. His Eagles &ndash; in Indycars and later in IMSA sports cars won 78 races (including the Indianapolis 500, the Sebring 12 Hours and the Daytona 24 Hours. His factory cars won eight different championships, while customers using his cars won three Indianapolis 500s and three championships. He was one of the founders of CART.</p> <p>In later years he developed a low-rider motorcycle called the Alligator, hoping to license the design to a major manufacturer.</p> <p>Gurney married German Evi Butz &ndash; Norbert Haug&rsquo;s sister &ndash; in 1969 and they had four sons, Justin, Alex, Dan Jr. and Jimmy.</p> 248 of Motorsport Monday is out now - Rosenqvist reignsMon, 15 Jan 2018 11:12:21 GMT<p><strong>Issue 248&nbsp;of our free weekly magazine, Motorsport Monday, is online now and packed full of great content&nbsp;&ndash;&nbsp;<a href="">click here</a>&nbsp;or the&nbsp;link below to start reading.</strong></p> <p>Racing finally returned to the headlines this weekend when Formula E headed to Morocco on the Marrakesh Express. Yes, electric racing was back with a vengeance for its only stop on the African continent. And while it was all S&eacute;bastien Buemi in practice and qualifying as he set the pace for the Renault e.dams outfit, he could not quite manage to finish the job in the race, losing out to a badly programmed car... Read Chris Soulsby&#39;s take the race weekend inside this week&#39;s magazine.</p> <p>Then it was all happening in Birmingham when Yorkshire based Ginetta launched their new LMP1 challenger at the annual Autosport International Racing Show held in the vast NEC complex. Read Daniel Lloyd&#39;s report on the launch and his verdict of where or not the little manufacturer and their customer Manor Racing team can win this year&#39;s Le Mans or not. Plus we also have a full report on the ASI show too.</p> <p>Down in South America it&#39;s getting to the business part of this year&#39;s Dakar Rally and Jerry Williams brings us a halfway report on what is being described as the toughest and hardest route yet for this gruelling event. With Carlos Sainz (senior, that is) leading the event, what&#39;s happened to the more fancied drivers like Loeb, Peterhansel, de Villiers and Al-Attiyah? Well you will have to read Jezza&#39;s report to find out what happened...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" height="127" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Magazine/click-to-read.png" width="800" /></a></p> 1 using eSports to assess starting grid shake-upSat, 13 Jan 2018 15:14:48 GMT<p>Formula 1 is using eSports to simulate and assess future regulation&nbsp;changes, with a change to the starting grid format amongst those under review.</p> <p>Motorsport Week <a href="">reported last year that F1 bosses had looked at a number of potential starting grid formations</a>, believing the staggered-two-by-two format currently in use could be improved to create more start drama and shake-up positions on the opening lap.</p> <p>However on the back of a recent qualifying format change in 2016, which proved unpopular with fans and was dropped after just a few races, the sport&#39;s bosses are keen to&nbsp;avoid such knee-jerk reactions and according to&nbsp;Pat Symonds, are using eSports to simulate future rule changes to get a better picture of how they will work in reality.</p> <p>&quot;We&#39;re keen to use virtual environments to test some of these regulations,&quot; Symonds said during MIA&#39;s Entertainment and&nbsp;Energy-Efficient Motorsport Conference. &quot;What we can do then is look at statistics.</p> <p>&quot;I&#39;ll give you an example of something we&#39;ve been thinking about this year &ndash; For a number of years, the starting grid for F1 has been a staggered formation.</p> <p>&quot;It used to not be like that, there was a time when cars started two abreast, there was a time when - we&#39;ve got a photo in our boardroom in London where I think it&#39;s Monza - there are four cars on the front row.</p> <p>&quot;What would happen if we did that again? It&#39;s not the sort of thing you can simulate easily.&quot;</p> <p>However the rise in eSports and the accuracy of the software means they can now use that to trial changes by running multiple simulations to give them a more accurate picture of what the outcome will be.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;We can go to our eSports group and we can say &#39;look guys, let&#39;s change the grid [format], let&#39;s do 20 races&#39;,&quot; added Symonds. &quot;Are we going to get a much more exciting first lap or are we going to get a huge collision on corner one?</p> <p>&quot;By doing this, and looking at it statistically, we can start to understand these things. It gives us our evidence-based form of decision-making, a mantra I preach quite regularly.&quot;</p> Brawn promises 'sensational' video-game inspired Formula 1 cars in the futureFri, 12 Jan 2018 15:34:54 GMT<p>Formula 1&#39;s Ross Brawn has promised &quot;sensational&quot; looking cars in the future that will resemble something from a video game.</p> <p>Although the latest generation of F1 car has been designed to look more aggressive than past cars, with its wider tyres, lower and wider wings, Brawn reckons they can go further and make them truly stand-out.</p> <p>With the introduction of the Halo head protection device,&nbsp;aesthetics, in the eyes of many, will take a step back this season, but Brawn says F1 has designers actively working on improving the look of the Halo by incorporating it into the design of the car as well as improving the overall look when new rules come into play for 2021.</p> <p>&quot;We&#39;ve had designers working on the aesthetics of the cars for some time now and the aesthetics of the cars are a really important thing,&quot; he told <em>Sky Sports.</em></p> <p>&quot;I think we&#39;ve done some great work on how you integrate the Halo, for instance, because it looks like it&#39;s just been stuck on the car &ndash; which it quite literally has.&quot;</p> <p>Brawn says the aesthetics of Formula 1 cars is high on the agenda for Liberty Media.</p> <p>&quot;It&#39;s obvious, but when you talk to the fans [they say] the cars have got to look great. They&#39;ve almost got to look like derivatives of video games and evolve in a way where the video games take their key from Formula 1, not the other way round.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;I think they&#39;ll look sensational. We&#39;re going to have some great-looking cars in the future, that&#39;s a really important thing for us [Liberty].&quot;</p> <p>Image reproduced with permission from concept designer&nbsp;<a href="">Antonio Paglia</a>.</p> Keeping an eye on Honda-backed F2 rookie Nirei FukuzumiFri, 12 Jan 2018 15:11:28 GMT<p>Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren will all have young drivers competing in either Formula 2 or 3 in 2018 as part of their development programmes. Much-maligned engine supplier Honda also has a scheme of its own, which has somewhat flown under the radar, but its rising star will graduate to Formula 2 this season, as Motorsport Week analyses...</p> <p>Nirei Fukuzumi is unlikely to be the young driver upon which the greatest scrutiny will fall throughout 2018.</p> <p>Aside from the aberration that is Max Verstappen, whose rise to the top has cast him out of his similarly-aged contemporaries and into the collective of established F1 stars, the spotlight is likely to fall on Charles Leclerc (with Sauber) or Mercedes-backed George Russell and rising McLaren star Lando Norris. The Brits, with GP3 and F3 titles under their belts, are both eyeing Formula 1 seats in 2019, and are likely to ramp up their involvement with Mercedes/Force India and McLaren respectively, while plotting their paths to the F2 title (Russell with ART, Norris with Carlin).</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula2/_O3I3173.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>Fukuzumi will race in Formula 2 this season</figcaption> </figure> <p>Fukuzumi, though, will join them in Formula 2, with Arden, and his Honda backing means he is one to keep an eye on, with his dual campaign of Formula 2 and Super Formula a signal of the Japanese company&rsquo;s trust in his ability (though it is unclear which series will take priority, with there being two clashes).</p> <p>Fukuzumi&rsquo;s rise comes at the expense of Nobuharu Matsushita, who has previously been regarded as the lead driver in Honda&#39;s Formula Dream Project.</p> <p>Matsushita switched to GP2 in 2015 as reigning Japanese F3 champion and had a solid rookie campaign alongside the all-conquering Stoffel Vandoorne at ART. But he failed to kick on in 2016 and was infamously banned for triggering the restart chaos in Baku, a setback which shattered his confidence and influenced the remainder of his season. 2017 was better, with a pole and two reversed-grid wins, and sixth overall, alongside a Sauber test run in Hungary, but it was too little, too late, under-delivering on his pre-season target of third.</p> <p>Fukuzumi, therefore, effectively becomes Honda&rsquo;s anointed prot&eacute;g&eacute;, as he graduates to Formula 2 after displaying promise in GP3.</p> <p>As with Matsushita, and many Asian-based racers before them, Fukuzumi had to adapt to the different cultures and nuances of European-based teams and series, while joining ART, and GP3, was both a blessing and a curse. GP3 is a tricky championship to grasp, with limited testing, fickle tyres and, often, restricted overtaking opportunities, raising the importance of qualifying and the opening lap. Heightened, understandably, when everything, such as team members, circuits, countries, culture, is new. European racers have often spoken of their learning curve when getting accustomed to Japanese-based championships; it is the same reversed.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula2/_L0U6593.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>ART&#39;s line-up through 2016 was strong</figcaption> </figure> <p>Similarly, ART is the best-equipped team in GP3, giving Fukuzumi the best leg-up, but also consequently attracts the best drivers &ndash; Fukuzumi went up against Charles Leclerc, Alexander Albon and Nyck de Vries in 2016; they all took him under their wings, but once on-track were formidable opponents. The amiable Fukuzumi finished seventh, with a trio of podiums, the lowest-placed ART racer, but impressed with his attitude and improvement.</p> <p>Remaining in GP3 for 2017 undoubtedly led to further gains, as Fukuzumi won the season-opening race &ndash; notably both Leclerc and Albon, now in F2, made sure they were beneath the podium to cheer him on &ndash; and stayed in title contention for much of the campaign, before Russell streaked clear. Two wins and two poles was a marked improvement, and it could have been more had his GP3/16 not developed an electrical problem as he prepared to start from the front at Monza. He classified third overall in the standings, seven points down on Aitken, disappointing only in Abu Dhabi, amid rare ART struggles. There remained a handful of question marks, most prominently over those often-heralded &lsquo;final two tenths&rsquo;, but he was there or thereabouts.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula2/_FER1412.JPG" width="400" /> <figcaption>Fukuzumi took victories in 2017</figcaption> </figure> <p>The move to Formula 2 represents a step up for Fukuzumi as he joins Arden, connected to Red Bull through the Horner family, while a Super Formula programme with Mugen means events will come thick and fast, ostensibly accelerating his learning process (and also boosting his Super Licence points chances). Arden has not enjoyed title success in recent years, though the introduction of a new package, on face value, presents a clean sheet of paper for Formula 2 teams.</p> <p>In Formula 1 terms, Honda will be able to keep a close watch on Fukuzumi, for having one of its prot&eacute;g&eacute;s eventually competing at the top echelon would represent a big box ticked for its young driver programme. And, longer term, the new relationship with Toro Rosso makes it a more attainable goal than in its previous partnership with McLaren. It should also be noted that, with Pierre Gasly now ineligible, both Red Bull and Toro Rosso will require young drivers for in-season testing. Fukuzumi, with some strong performances, could thrust himself into contention, particularly for the Faenza-based squad.</p> <p>Fukuzumi, therefore, will not be the most-lauded youngster in junior championships in 2018, but it is worth tracking his progress on the rung below Formula 1.</p> <p><img alt="" height="549" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula2/_X0W7545.jpg" width="800" /></p> doubts F1 will ever return to tyre warFri, 12 Jan 2018 12:13:46 GMT<p>Formula 1 is unlikely to ever again feature a development battle between multiple tyre companies, believes Pirelli&rsquo;s Mario Isola, due to the raised costs and performance disparity it would create.</p> <p>Formula 1 most recently featured competition between two tyre manufacturers from 2001 to 2006, when Michelin and Bridgestone battled it out.</p> <p>Michelin&rsquo;s withdrawal at the end of 2006 left Bridgestone as the sole supplier, with Pirelli taking over the contract from the Japanese company prior to 2011.</p> <p>Pirelli&rsquo;s current deal as Formula 1&rsquo;s exclusive supplier runs through 2019, and Isola does not expect a second manufacturer to enter, citing two key reasons.</p> <p>&ldquo;At the moment we supply the same product to all the teams,&rdquo; said Isola, having said he &ldquo;doesn&rsquo;t think&rdquo; a tyre war will ever happen in Formula 1.</p> <p>&ldquo;That means we put all the teams on the same level, talking about tyres.</p> <p>&ldquo;If you go in the situation of open competition, something that happened in the past, you increase the costs for sure, because you need to test.</p> <p>&ldquo;You will have the top teams with a better product compared to the midfield or the lower teams as at this point you don&rsquo;t have any obligation to supply the same tyres to everybody.</p> <p>&ldquo;[Therefore] you create a big differential between top teams and the others.</p> <p>&ldquo;Maybe with two or three tyre manufacturers you can have a couple of teams fighting at the top but the rest [will be] struggling with the performance.</p> <p>&ldquo;Because with the tyres you can easily find half a second per lap or more so you generate a bigger delta compared to now.&rdquo;</p> <p>The current run is the longest in Formula 1 history to feature a sole tyre supplier, with the spell from 1992-96, when Goodyear was the only manufacturer, the previous longest.</p> F1 lap times should be 1.5s quicker in 2018Fri, 12 Jan 2018 11:27:16 GMT<p>Pirelli chief Mario Isola says lap times in Formula 1 should reduce by 1.5 seconds in 2018, due to the rate of car development and the move to softer compounds.</p> <p>Pirelli, the sport&rsquo;s sole supplier since 2011, adopted a relatively conservative stance in 2017, amid Formula 1&rsquo;s widespread regulation changes, which featured wider tyres and higher downforce levels, leading to faster cars.</p> <p>As a reaction to a spate of one-stop races through 2017, Pirelli has made its compounds one step softer, and also introduced a new pink-banded Hypersoft tyre, which is set to debut in Monaco.</p> <p>&ldquo;The Hypersoft in Abu Dhabi was one second quicker than the Ultrasoft so it&rsquo;s quite an extreme compound,&rdquo; said Isola, speaking at the <em>Autosport Show</em>.</p> <p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t like to call it a qualifying compound as it was developed to be used also on some street circuits or low severity circuits.</p> <p>&ldquo;I would like to see the Hypersoft in some races this year, Monaco is probably the race where we&rsquo;re going to use it for the first time.</p> <p>&ldquo;In terms of lap times, we will have faster lap times this year, because we should consider the development of the car that is probably roughly one second per lap as an average.</p> <p>&ldquo;Plus the fact that especially at the beginning of the season we are planning to use softer compounds [compared to 2017], so in my expectation we should be quicker compared to last year by 1.5s per lap by average, it&rsquo;s a lot, it&rsquo;s another big step.&rdquo;</p> <p>Expanding more on the new-for-2018 Hypersoft, Isola added: &ldquo;The performance is great but also the degradation will be high, it&rsquo;s the normal trade-off between performance, degradation and wear.</p> <p>&ldquo;The degradation in Abu Dhabi was quite high, it&rsquo;s accepted as it&rsquo;s a very soft compound and that&rsquo;s why we are taking three compounds to each event.&rdquo;</p> would require manufacturer backing for 2021 Formula 1 engineFri, 12 Jan 2018 11:09:58 GMT<p>Cosworth say it will not develop an engine for the 2021 Formula 1 regulations unless it can secure some manufacturer backing or a partnership to finance the costs, according to&nbsp;managing director of powertrains Bruce Wood.</p> <p>Cosworth most recently competed in Formula 1 in 2013, as supplier to Marussia, dropping out of competition when the championship introduced V6 power units for 2014.</p> <p>Speaking at the <em>Autosport International Show,</em>&nbsp;Wood said Cosworth is happy with the direction that the proposed regulations for 2021 had taken, particuarly in reducing the complexity and cost of future power units, but admitted the finances involved remain too high for Cosworth alone to face.</p> <p>&quot;First off, we&#39;d love to be there,&quot; said Wood. &quot;It&#39;s been reported quite widely that we&#39;ve been heavily involved in the ongoing [future engine] discussions.</p> <p>&quot;The rules as they are being proposed would certainly technically facilitate Cosworth coming back into it and will bring down the cost barrier to entry to the point where there&#39;s a lot more OEMs, or not necessarily car manufacturers but other sponsors, who see Formula 1 as something they can bring into their sorts of budgets.</p> <p>&quot;Where we sighted it from the beginning is that it&#39;s unlikely you will see a completely independent Cosworth on the &#39;if you build it they will come&#39; [basis].</p> <p>&quot;That&#39;s unlikely because the economics of that are hard to make work,&quot; he added.</p> <p>&quot;We certainly hope that we might be there partnered with a small OEM, that&#39;s willing to make a much smaller financial commitment to get into F1.&quot;</p> <p>Aston Martin is another small manufacturer looking to get involved in F1 under the new engine regulations and is believed to be working with Red Bull to reduce development costs.</p> 1 extends Spanish TV deal with Movistar through 2020Fri, 12 Jan 2018 11:01:39 GMT<p>Formula 1 will continue to be broadcast on pay-per-view channel Movistar+ in Spain through 2020, after a new deal was agreed.</p> <p>Formula 1 went behind a paywall in Spain, home to two drivers on the 2018 grid &ndash; Renault&#39;s Carlos Sainz Jr. and McLaren&#39;s Fernando Alonso &ndash; in 2014, and a new contract has been signed.</p> <p>Movistar+ will broadcast all practice and qualifying sessions, along with the 21 Grands Prix, and has also received a number of &lsquo;additional digital rights&rsquo; for the 2018-20 period.</p> <p>&ldquo;We are very happy to extend our partnership with Movistar+, which has begun in 2014, for three more years,&rdquo; said Formula 1 Director of Media Rights Ian Holmes.</p> <p>&ldquo;Spain is one of the most important European markets for Formula 1 and, thanks to this partnership, the Spanish fans will be able to continue to enjoy the spectacle provided by the pinnacle of motor sport 24/7 on a dedicated channel, Movistar F1.</p> <p>&ldquo;We will be also help Movistar+ to produce exclusive content for its distribution across their digital and social media platforms, which will contribute to broaden the fan base and its engagement.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;Motorsport is a strategic pillar for Movistar+, with its perfectly defined offer and two internationally groundbreaking dedicated channels,&rdquo; added Alex Martinez Roig, Movistar+ Content Manager.</p> <p>&ldquo;We are poised build an ambitious project with Formula 1, with one specific goal in mind &ndash; broadening the Formula 1 fan base and meeting its wildest expectations.</p> <p>&ldquo;Most of the fans are tech savvy viewers and the online environment is the niche we want to explore and where we anticipate a major breakthrough.</p> <p>&ldquo;2018 will be the fifth consecutive year in which Formula 1 will be fully broadcast in Spain by Movistar F1, our dedicated channel. The renewal of the partnership constitutes a further step in our commitment to provide the Spanish viewers with the best possible sports offer.&rdquo;</p> <p>Commercial chief Sean Bratches has previously spoken of the aim to evaluate the PPV/FTA (free-to-air) distribution of Formula 1 rights on a territory-by-territory basis.</p> work begins at Circuit de Barcelona-CatalunyaThu, 11 Jan 2018 18:48:50 GMT<p>Spanish Grand Prix and Formula 1 testing venue Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has commenced work in order to resurface the track and improve safety.</p> <p>After a request from MotoGP&rsquo;s governing body, the FIM, the run-off at Turn 12 &ndash; the fast right-hander bypassed by Formula 1 since 2007 &ndash; has been extended, with grandstands dismantled and put back several metres.</p> <p>The change has taken place in the wake of Luis Salom&rsquo;s fatal crash at the corner during a Moto2 practice session in 2016.</p> <p>The entire circuit is also set to be resurfaced, following complaints from MotoGP riders across recent years over the state of the asphalt.</p> <p>All changes were agreed by Formula 1&rsquo;s governing body, the FIA.</p> <p>The work will be completed in time for Formula 1 pre-season testing, which begins at the venue on February 26.</p> <p>Formula 1&rsquo;s track layout will not change, while the extension of the run-off area at Turn 12 means MotoGP will abandon using the chicane, and revert to using the old turn, after a couple of variations were used in the wake of Salom&rsquo;s crash.</p> <p>The Spanish Grand Prix has been held at the venue since 1991, with its current contract running until 2019.</p> confirms compound choices for Azerbaijan Grand PrixThu, 11 Jan 2018 15:53:58 GMT<p>Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has confirmed its compound choices for the fourth round of the season in Azerbaijan.</p> <p>Pirelli has expanded its range of dry-weather tyres for 2018, introducing a Hypersoft and back-up Superhard compound, in order to increase its options for each Grand Prix.</p> <p>The official introduction of the Hypersoft, however, is not set to take place until Monaco, with Pirelli selecting the Ultrasoft, Supersoft and Soft compounds in order to cope with the demands of the Baku City Circuit.</p> <p>The respective compounds are effectively two steps softer than the tyres used at the 2017 running of the event in Azerbaijan &ndash; the Supersoft, Soft and Medium tyres &ndash; after Pirelli realigned its entire range following a spate of one-stop races last season, with the Supersoft last year effectively becoming the Soft in 2018 and so on.</p> <p>Azerbaijan has moved to an April date for 2018, its third year on the calendar, following previous June dates, with the Russian Grand Prix shifted to later in the season.</p> <p>As per usual, drivers are free to select tyre choice from the three nominated compounds for 10 of their allocated 13 sets.</p> <p>One set of the Ultrasofts must be set aside for use only in Q3, while either the Supersofts or Softs must be used for one stint of the race.</p> <p>Pirelli has already nominated the same allocation of compounds for Australia, with Bahrain to feature Medium, Soft, Supersoft and China to see Medium, Soft and Ultrasoft tyres.</p> Brown excited by Liberty's 'significant' 2018 TV plansThu, 11 Jan 2018 15:46:17 GMT<p>McLaren&#39;s Zak Brown says he is excited by Liberty Media &quot;significant&quot; plans to shake-up the way Formula 1 is broadcast this year, which promises to bring fans close to the sport.</p> <p>Liberty is keen to boost television audiences further following a <a href="">6.2 per cent increase</a> last year, with&nbsp;commercial chief Sean Bratches unveiling its plans during a private meeting with the teams in December.</p> <p>Whilst the details of that meeting have yet to be made public, Brown said it would involve several initiatives aimed at better telling the story of the race through improved on-screen graphics and mobile applications.</p> <p>&quot;Before Christmas Sean Bratches presented the new F1 commercial strategy to us, the teams,&quot; Brown wrote in a one-off column for <em>James Allen on F1.</em></p> <p>&quot;There is a huge emphasis on digital, as we know, but last year was about testing things out. For this year there are products in place, like a new F1 App, OTT platforms (Over The Top/streaming) and they have brought in David Hill, one of the great TV sports innovators, to oversee the graphics package and the way the race is televised.</p> <p>&quot;You&rsquo;ll see significant changes there on the broadcast, on the graphics and the storytelling.&quot;</p> <p>The changes are primarily aimed at introducing F1 to a younger audience, whilst improving things for the current fanbase.</p> <p>&quot;On-event [at the circuit] we&rsquo;ll see more fan engagement, building on last year and there will be new media properties to help fans get closer to the teams,&quot; said Brown.</p> <p>&quot;I think the big impacts of 2018 will be on the media side, showing F1 in a way that it&rsquo;s never been shown before. It will give us a younger and bigger audience and they will be more engaged.&quot;</p> will be back where they belong in 2018 - Zak BrownThu, 11 Jan 2018 14:59:21 GMT<p>McLaren boss Zak Brown insists McLaren will be back where they belong in 2018 following its switch from Honda to Renault power.</p> <p>McLaren&#39;s performance nosedived following its switch from Mercedes to Honda in 2015, with the team failing&nbsp;to score a single podium since and finishing near the bottom of the standings for the past three seasons.</p> <p>That prompted a last-minute switch to Renault for 2018 and Brown is confident that will provide the boost the team needs to return to the front of the field.</p> <p>&quot;People will&nbsp;like what our car looks like, we&#39;ve got some new partners onboard that we&rsquo;ll start announcing later this month and we&rsquo;ve got the two drivers we want,&quot; he said at the <em>Autosport International Show.</em></p> <p>&quot;We&rsquo;re happy with the working relationship with Renault, and we should hopefully be back to where people are used to seeing McLaren &ndash; at the front of the field!&quot;</p> <p>Brown has no doubts that Honda is to blame for McLaren&#39;s&nbsp;lacklustre results and although he admits there is room for improvement within the team, he is expecting major steps forward this year.</p> <p>&quot;[Honda] was certainly our single largest deficit of&nbsp;performance.&nbsp;We&rsquo;re not perfect, we certainly have room&nbsp;to improve, our pit stops aren&rsquo;t good enough, we need to be top three so&nbsp;we have some areas we can improve, but the lack of power was our single biggest area of weakness so I think when we get the Renault in the back we should see a substantial difference in Australia.</p> <p>&quot;We&rsquo;ve got a lot of confidence in Renault, so the package should be one of the most anticipated teams to watch come Australia.&nbsp;We&rsquo;re eager to get out there testing.&quot;</p> Carey gives backing to Copenhagen's F1 plansWed, 10 Jan 2018 19:43:15 GMT<p>Formula 1 CEO and Chairman Chase Carey has given his backing to plans for a race around the streets of Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, following a visit to the city.</p> <p>Copenhagen is one of several potential new locations striving to host a Grand Prix by 2020, with a project fronted by former government minister Helge Sander and Lars Seier Christensen, ex-CEO of Saxo Bank.</p> <p>Liberty Media, which acquired Formula 1 last January, has often spoken of its desire to bring the sport to &ldquo;destination cities&rdquo;, as part of its vision for the future.</p> <p>Carey visited Copenhagen on Wednesday to discuss plans, according to <em>Reuters</em>, and enthused over the prospect of bringing Formula 1 to the city.</p> <p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re excited about the opportunity to explore a potential race here in Denmark,&rdquo; said Carey.</p> <p>&ldquo;I think Copenhagen represents the type of location that we think can really provide a great platform.</p> <p>&ldquo;Scandinavia has been a great part of our sport and having local drivers is always a plus.&rdquo;</p> <p>Denmark has never hosted a Grand Prix but is represented on the Formula 1 grid by Haas&rsquo; Kevin Magnussen.</p> <p>The Formula 1 calendar has gradually expanded in recent years, with the 2018 schedule set to equal 2016&rsquo;s record of 21 Grands Prix.</p> <p>The French and German Grands Prix (at Paul Ricard and Hockenheim) have returned to the roster, though Malaysia, which joined in 1999, has been discontinued.</p> Gasly: Pre-season reliability crucial for STR-Honda F1 hopesWed, 10 Jan 2018 16:52:00 GMT<p>Pierre Gasly says Toro Rosso-Honda must deliver a strong package during pre-season testing if the operation is to begin 2018 on the right foot.</p> <p>Long-term Red Bull junior Gasly, the 2016 GP2 champion, will contest his first full Formula 1 campaign in 2018, having graduated to the sport during the latter stages of 2017, contesting five Grands Prix with Toro Rosso.</p> <p>Toro Rosso has taken up McLaren&rsquo;s supply of Honda power units, and will be the only squad to use the Japanese engines, after the Woking-based outfit brought its deal to an end.</p> <p>Sub-par Honda reliability plagued McLaren&rsquo;s pre-season preparations in 2015 and 2017, and with only eight days of running at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Gasly is aware of the importance of racking up mileage.</p> <p>&ldquo;At the start of February, I&#39;ll be going to the Toro Rosso factory in Faenza,&rdquo; Gasly told the official Toro Rosso website, expanding on plans.</p> <p>&ldquo;We already did a preliminary seat fitting for the 2018 car, but there will be more to do on that front, as well as ensuring everything is set for the first test in Barcelona.</p> <p>&ldquo;Testing will be very busy with a lot of work to do, especially as we have a new engine partner.</p> <p>&ldquo;The important thing at the test will be to have a reliable package so we can do as many laps as possible and get a good understanding of where we are with the car, the engine and how the package is planned to evolve.</p> <p>&ldquo;There are only eight days of testing before Australia and that really isn&#39;t very much.</p> <p>&ldquo;I am very motivated about all this and I can&#39;t wait to start driving again and prepare for the season.</p> <p>&ldquo;To be honest, right from the start of December, it&#39;s all I&#39;ve been thinking of!&rdquo;</p> <p>Gasly will partner reigning LMP1 champion Brendon Hartley at Toro Rosso this year.</p> Kvyat appointed Ferrari F1 development driverWed, 10 Jan 2018 13:25:57 GMT<p>Former Red Bull and Toro Rosso racer Daniil Kvyat has been appointed as Ferrari&#39;s development driver in Formula 1, the team has announced.</p> <p>Long-time Red Bull junior Kvyat graduated to Formula 1 with Toro Rosso in 2014 and was promoted to the senior team for 2015, in place of Ferrari-bound Sebastian Vettel, and scored two podiums during his time at the squad.</p> <p>However, Kvyat was replaced at Red Bull by Max Verstappen in May 2016 and returned to Toro Rosso, where he struggled for results, taking only a handful of points, a trend which continued into 2017.</p> <p>Kvyat was dropped by Toro Rosso after the Singapore Grand Prix and, while he made a one-off return for Austin, was axed altogether from Red Bull&#39;s programme, ending his lengthy spell affiliated with the company.</p> <p>With no available drives on the 2018 Formula 1 grid, with Williams poised to recruit Sergey Sirotkin, Kvyat has netted a development role with Ferrari, which is likely to involve extensive simulator work, demonstration runs, and potential test outings.</p> <p>Ferrari already has Sauber rookie, and reigning F2 champion, Charles Leclerc, under its wing, while reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi is set to participate in six practice runs with the Swiss squad through 2018.</p> Motorsport Week's 18 to watch in 2018Wed, 10 Jan 2018 12:08:44 GMT<p><b>Motorsport Week&rsquo;s staffers have been hard at work on our opening feature of the New Year, 18 things to watch in 2018.</b></p> <p>We had a hard time picking just 18 points, but we think these will be the main things to look out for in the coming twelve months of motorsport&hellip;</p> <p><em>Note: This feature originally appeared in issue 247 of our sister publication Motorsport Monday &ndash; our weekly free magazine published every Monday &ndash; to read the latest issue, <a href="">click here</a>. To subscribe, head to <a href=""></a>.</em></p> <p><b>Will we finally get a three-team F1 title fight?</b></p> <p><img alt="" height="200" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/battle-1.jpg" width="800" /></p> <p>Ferrari joined Mercedes at the front of the field in 2017, setting up a two-way title fight for the first time in the current era, as the historic marque traded blows circuit-by-circuit, their varying strengths and weaknesses playing out. However, while a close, intense fight across the opening half of the campaign promised a tantalising showdown, Mercedes&rsquo; form and Ferrari&rsquo;s capitulation resulted in the season turning on its head during a six-week spell. Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes were ultimately deserving champions, but there were signs of optimism for 2018. Ferrari, unlike in previous years, developed strongly through the season, and still displayed race-winning pace even at Grands Prix where their results suffered. Red Bull, meanwhile, was not a factor for the first half of the year, after correlation issues left them two months down on chassis development, accentuated by Renault&rsquo;s deficiencies. Across the final few Grands Prix, Red Bull was back in the mix, firmly outlining that it will be a title contender this year if it can begin 2018 on the right foot. Mercedes &ndash; having taken 15 poles and 12 wins from 20 races in 2017 &ndash; still has the target on its back, but stable regulations, and the optimism harboured by Ferrari and Red Bull, suggests there is hope for a three-way season-long title battle this year.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Who will Mercedes turn to for 2019?</b></p> <p><b><img alt="" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/mercedes-2.jpg" /></b></p> <p>The 2018 season is still on the horizon but the inevitable glance at the future means the driver machinations for 2019 are already underway. Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen already hold long-term deals at Ferrari and Red Bull respectively, while Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes are expected to continue their marriage beyond the end of 2018. The identity of Hamilton&rsquo;s team-mate, however, remains unclear, and there are three obvious candidates. Incumbent Valtteri Bottas, having joined in early 2017, impressed during his first year with the Silver Arrows, but his one-year extension allowed Mercedes to keep his options open. The advantage, naturally, is with Bottas. If he begins the year strongly, regularly threatens Hamilton, and competes for the title, Mercedes will be forced into a corner, with Bottas in the pound seats. If not, and Mercedes feels Bottas is not its best long-term option, then Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo are favoured. Ocon has impressed during spells with Manor and Force India, and knows that he will be closely tracked by the Mercedes bosses who have backed him since 2015. Ricciardo, meanwhile, is out of contract, quick, highly marketable, and aware that &ndash; aged 28 &ndash; his next career decision will be hugely crucial to his title prospects. Indeed, Ricciardo&rsquo;s choice will determine the state of the driver market, for the leading trio of teams will all be keeping an eye on his performances.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Can McLaren-Renault deliver the goods?</b></p> <p><b><img alt="" height="200" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/mclaren-3.jpg" width="800" /></b></p> <p>McLaren remains one of Formula 1&rsquo;s most-known and well-loved teams, but it has not taken a trophy since 2014, and not mounted the top step of the podium since 2012. Much of that drought is down to the ultimately disastrous Honda project, as ambitions to rekindle the late 80s/early 90s dominance fell by the wayside. Honda&rsquo;s decision to introduce a new power unit concept in 2017 was correct, but its short-term setbacks could not be countenanced further by McLaren, whose frustrations grew amid missed targets and broken promises. A split was inevitable. McLaren sounded out Mercedes and Ferrari but eventually aligned itself with Renault &ndash; prompting reasons for optimism, and also caution. McLaren has repeatedly praised its chassis, and lauded the results of changes made across recent years, having been abject even pre-Honda in 2013/14. It now has the brand of engine which has powered Red Bull to multiple wins, and one which is still improving, amid Renault&rsquo;s desire to return itself to the top of the Formula 1 tree. And yet. The Red Bull-Renault relationship is hardly one which is, shall we say, rosy. Renault also spectacularly fell out with Toro Rosso &ndash; whose supply McLaren has effectively taken up. Renault undoubtedly provides a step up in performance and reliability compared to Honda, but it is not the magic bullet, and if the Japanese marque gets it right with Toro Rosso, then there will not be happy faces at Woking. Nevertheless, McLaren should expect to be a solid P4 in 2018 &ndash; perhaps with wins &ndash; which is, at least, better than 2015 to 2017.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Who will prevail in the midfield scrap?</b></p> <p><b><img alt="" height="200" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/midfield-4.jpg" width="800" /></b></p> <p>Formula 1&rsquo;s decision to introduce revised regulations for 2017 created a split, with the &lsquo;midfield&rsquo; group further away than ever from the leading outfits. In reality, the midfield was still fractured, with Force India substantially in front &ndash; points-wise &ndash; of their rivals, as only the scrap for P6 went down to the finale. For 2018, there remain several unknowns &ndash; an obviously exciting proposition. A McLaren-Renault partnership should surely vault the midfield, but Force India has been confounding expectations for years, so another assault on fourth cannot be ruled out. Force India has been investing in its facilities, has frequently produced strong, driveable, easy-to-develop cars, which will again be equipped with Mercedes power units. And in Sergio P&eacute;rez and Esteban Ocon it has a strong line-up. They will surely face competition from Renault. The manufacturer has gradually improved since its full-time return in 2016, and in Nico H&uuml;lkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr. has a hugely competitive driving pairing, its strongest since the days of Fernando Alonso. As part of its long-term vision, Renault pinpointed 2018 as the year to start delivering podiums &ndash; Enstone, H&uuml;lkenberg and Sainz Jr. are more than capable if the ingredients can be moulded correctly. A Paddy Lowe-led, Mercedes-powered Williams squad cannot be forgotten, though its drivers may leave it on the backfoot. Haas, meanwhile, has improved year-on-year, and can execute a top-six performance at its strongest &ndash; eradicating its weaknesses will be key to its ongoing development.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>How will Leclerc adapt to Formula 1?</b></p> <p><b><img alt="" height="200" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/leclerc-5.jpg" width="800" /></b></p> <p>From Formula 3 through to Formula 1, via title-winning GP3 and Formula 2 campaigns, Charles Leclerc&rsquo;s rise up the junior ranks has been a joy to witness. In GP3 he remained slightly fragile and prone to frustration under pressure, while in Formula 2 he sculpted the narrative at each weekend, blending speed with ruthless execution. He won six races, topped qualifying nine times, and could have picked up a bagful more points but for costly disqualifications and a handful of exits out of his control. Leclerc, backed by Ferrari, is <i>the </i>real deal, and his Formula 1 opportunity with the Alfa Romeo-affiliated Sauber squad is thoroughly deserved. It also comes at the ideal time for both parties, with Sauber on the rise after a tumultuous period, and Leclerc able to get up to speed in Formula 1 away from the spotlight of the sharp end of the grid. Hopefully, this will prove to be of assistance, for the step to Formula 1 cannot be underestimated &ndash; the cars are faster, there are more people to deal with, a more intense schedule, and many other small nuances which add up. As with other young stars, Leclerc must be given the space and freedom to develop; his F2 campaign shows what he can do &ndash; with Sauber, in Formula 1, expectations must be lowered. Nevertheless, Kimi R&auml;ikk&ouml;nen will be 39 in October, and Ferrari may need a 2019 replacement. If he can shine in 2018 and grasp his opportunities then he will thrust himself into contention. &nbsp;</p> <p><b>What can Toro Rosso/Honda achieve?</b></p> <p><img alt="" height="200" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/honda-6.jpg" width="800" /></p> <p>The alliance between Toro Rosso and Honda creates a fascinating sub-plot for 2018 which may yet have wider ramifications as the year progresses. A team which repeatedly targets fifth but finishes seventh (it has done so in each season of the hybrid era), links up with an engine supplier which has yet to grasp the regulations in three attempts, to produce a package for two highly-capable drivers who are, it must be noted, unproven in Formula 1 terms. Depending on your mindset, this could either be the recipe for a surprise success story, or the ingredients for a total disaster. The reality is likely to be somewhere in the middle &ndash; there is no Brawn GP here, nor is there a fiasco-in-waiting. Honda&rsquo;s decision to revise its power unit concept for 2017 frustrated McLaren &ndash; as did some mid-season setbacks &ndash; but it did so convinced it would be beneficial long-term, and it is exactly that which Toro Rosso &ndash; holders of a three-year contract &ndash; can gain from. Amid the jokes and the sneering, Honda did make strides through the year and with several months of off-season work has little excuse not to be in the mix for 2018. Toro Rosso, in turn, should profit from being Honda&rsquo;s exclusive partner, rather than Renault&rsquo;s tired thirds, let alone sloppy seconds. Honda management changes suggest it has learned from previous failings and if the correct structure, allied to financial backing, is in place, then &ndash; whisper it &ndash; Toro Rosso-Honda could thrive. And if they do, Red Bull will come calling&hellip;&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Will anyone last on three engines?</b></p> <p><b><img alt="" height="200" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/engine-7.jpg" width="800" /></b></p> <p>Good news for fans of late-night grid-forming challenges &ndash; there will be even fewer engine parts allocated per driver this season. Under new-for-2014 regulations, the FIA clamped down on power unit components in a bid to enhance Formula 1&rsquo;s green credentials, and also to reduce the costs. The idea was logical, but not thought through well enough, with the negatives fully accentuated by Honda&rsquo;s problems in 2015. If a component needs changing, it needs changing. Grid penalties, particularly for Renault and Honda-powered drivers, have racked up across the closing events in recent years, with some using them tactically, reaching its nadir in Italy and Mexico last season. The FIA has moved to alleviate the problem somewhat by capping sanctions at 15 places, meaning drivers will be sent to the back of the grid in chronological order of receipt of penalty &ndash; at least meaning the days of 20, 25, 30 or more place drops are gone. However, while those who have been able to avoid the drops (notably Mercedes and Ferrari) must be commended for producing a power unit able to comply with the regulations, there is apprehension that 2018 will be a repeat of 2017, and for good reason. The calendar is one-round longer this year, and the allocation of PUs has been reduced from four to three. Some of the (more reliable) elements of the PU are capped at two. A solution, complex to achieve, must be sought for 2019.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Can revised tyre compounds increase action?</b></p> <p><b><img alt="" height="200" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/pirelli-8.jpg" width="800" /></b></p> <p>The move to wider tyres &ndash; allied to faster, higher-downforce cars &ndash; led Pirelli to adopt a more conservative approach for 2017, meaning the majority of dry-weather races were won using a one-stop strategy. The softest of three available compounds was used for qualifying and the first stint, with the second-softest for the remainder of the race, while the hardest compound was all-but-abandoned, used only for a few FP1 laps. The Hard tyre was used only during practice in Spain. Pirelli accepted it needed to be more aggressive for 2018 and embarked upon an extensive testing programme with all Formula 1 teams at a variety of locations with current-year cars, undoubtedly a step-up in its previous preparations. Pirelli opted to make its compounds a step softer, while simultaneously introducing a pink-banded Hyper Soft tyre, as well as a back-up Super Hard compound, which is unlikely to be used. The compound names have been mocked (and rightly so, for a Super Soft compound potentially being the hardest at a Grand Prix is totally illogical), but broadening its range, and giving it more scope to differ, is a positive move from Pirelli, as is the general slide towards softer tyres. No-one wants dire one-stoppers in the same vein that no-one wants four-stoppers on bubblegum tyres; finding a balance is tricky, but Pirelli is on the right route. What would also be preferable is tyres which operate in a wider window, after numerous complaints from several teams and drivers through 2017 that the range in which the rubber works correctly is too narrow.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>How will Liberty, and halo, continue to change F1?</b></p> <p><b><img alt="" height="200" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/liberty-9.jpg" width="800" /></b></p> <p>Liberty Media arrived in Formula 1, immediately installed a three-person structure to replace Bernie Ecclestone, recruited heavily, and set about putting a long-term plan in place, while tweaking small elements in the interim. Consequently, prize money dropped for 2017, prompting some snide remarks from a couple of figures, firmly outlining that the honeymoon period is now over. The most pressing element for Liberty Media is to give Formula 1 an identity moving forwards, a tricky task as it tries to balance reaching new territories while keeping the current fanbase satiated. One of its most important tasks surrounds the post-2020 regulations, and how &ndash; or if &ndash; it manages to keep all parties satisfied. Ferrari, it has been noted, has already been vocal in its criticism. A face-off is coming. On a similar note, if someone could switch Sean Bratches into English mode, as opposed to using an unintelligible lexicon that makes the parodied Ronspeak appear normal, that would also be much appreciated. Elsewhere, the most striking year-on-year change is the introduction of the &lsquo;halo&rsquo; head protection device, which finally arrives in Formulas 1 and 2 almost two years after its first on-track test. Increasing head protection has been a long-term goal of the FIA, but the dubious aesthetics of the system has attracted criticism, and hopefully the halo becomes the catalyst for a better solution to be unearthed and developed. The integration &ndash; both technically and visually &ndash; of the three-pronged (heavy) structure will also be intriguing to witness. &nbsp;</p> <p><b>Who will win Formula 2&rsquo;s battle of Britain?</b></p> <p><b><img alt="" height="200" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/norris-10.jpg" width="800" /></b></p> <p>Mercedes vs McLaren. GP3 vs Formula 3. Norfolk vs Somerset. Two of motorsport&rsquo;s rising stars will battle it out in Formula 2 this year as they strive to move up the single-seater ladder and stake their claim for a 2019 seat in the premier class. Mercedes-backed George Russell kicked up a gear in 2017 and swept to the GP3 crown, beating more established team-mates, and assimilated within Force India after a couple of FP1 runs &ndash; his reward for wrapping up the GP3 title early. Russell is poised to move up to Formula 2 with ART, while compatriot Lando Norris will also stay with his title-winning outfit as he and Carlin both move into the division. Norris&rsquo; rise through 2017 was rapid as he cantered to the Formula 3 crown, aided by a devastating mid/late-season run, and impressed with his speed and application during his Formula 1 test outing, as he took on more duties with McLaren. Both ART and Carlin will ostensibly be aided by the new-for-2018 Formula 2 package, though the squads &ndash; and their British chargers &ndash; will face challenges from elsewhere. Prema, having guided Pierre Gasly (2016) and Charles Leclerc (2017) to titles, will field Nyck de Vries, the Dutchman having shown flashes of potential during a stuttering single-seater career. As ever, line-ups are still being finalised, but the usual group of rising F1-backed youngsters and a ragtag bunch of journeymen will no doubt provide the action.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Will it be more of the same in Mercedes&rsquo; last DTM campaign?</b></p> <p><b><img alt="" height="200" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/dtm-11.jpg" width="800" /></b></p> <p>The DTM has undergone something of a reinvention in recent years with the return to a two-race weekend format and close competition, even if Audi wound up with its drivers 1-2-3-4 in the final standings last year. However, mid-season Mercedes dropped a bombshell: that it would depart DTM at the end of 2018, bringing its lengthy stay in the series to an end. Manoeuvres were already underway for the future, with DTM teams demonstrating machinery at a Super GT event, and vice versa, amid suggestions of co-operation between the championships. Nevertheless, the DTM still faces an &ldquo;adapt or die&rdquo; scenario, with grid numbers already having reduced from 24 to 18 after the three current manufacturers each reduced their entries. With just BMW and Audi signed up for 2019, it is improbable to expect the series to thrive without changes, whatever they may be. The WTCC and TCR, for example, have merged for 2018. However, that will be the underlying theme through 2018 &ndash; there is still a title to be settled. 12 different drivers shared the 18 race wins last year as the title was decided at the finale between four of them &ndash; underlining the competitive nature of the series, which has had little year-on-year regulation changes. The championship has also ventured back to Britain and Italy, at Brands Hatch and Misano respectively, with the relatively unloved Moscow Raceway ditched. 2019 may be unclear, but 2018 could be a year to savour.</p> <p><b>Can Toyota possibly lose &lsquo;Super Season&rsquo; title?</b></p> <p><b><img alt="" height="200" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/toyota-12.jpg" width="800" /></b></p> <p>Toyota heads into the new &lsquo;super&rsquo; season of the World Endurance Championship as the overwhelming favourite, but can the influx of privately-run LMP1 teams mount a challenge on the sole remaining manufacturer? Series bosses at the FIA and ACO will use engine data to establish parity between the Davids (ByKolles, SMP, Rebellion, DragonSpeed, Manor and an unnamed Ginetta customer) and the hybrid Goliath come the opening round at Spa in May. The weight of expectation will be heavy on Toyota&rsquo;s Ericsson: Sauber's reaction to 'disaster' proves qualityWed, 10 Jan 2018 09:52:40 GMT<p>Marcus Ericsson says Sauber&rsquo;s reaction to its mid-2017 &ldquo;disaster&rdquo; demonstrated its quality, as it gradually crept back towards the midfield.</p> <p>Sauber struggled through 2017 but made it through to Q2 during the early events, before slipping to the rear of the field, often substantially adrift of its nearest opponent.</p> <p>Ericsson and team-mate Pascal Wehrlein qualified as the slowest drivers from Austria through Japan, aside from Hungary, when the German inched ahead of Williams&rsquo; stand-in Paul di Resta.</p> <p>Sauber, though rallied, and only narrowly missed Q2 in the US, Mexico and Brazil, with Ericsson heartened by the progress it made, despite the limitations of a year-old power unit.</p> <p>&ldquo;I heard the news Sauber was going to use the old power unit,&rdquo; Ericsson said, reflecting on 2017.</p> <p>&ldquo;We knew it was not going to be good. Everyone could see what happened with Toro Rosso [in 2016], so no surprises there.</p> <p>&ldquo;Even though you still have to try and look at it in a more positive way and say we&rsquo;ll focus more on the chassis side, and we did, but for sure it&rsquo;s going to be a big handicap.</p> <p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s why also I think with that in mind I&rsquo;ve been quite impressed with the team and at the factory with the way we&rsquo;ve been able to keep pushing and not give up.</p> <p>&ldquo;After the summer break it looked a disaster really, we were so far off the next car, over a second off per lap, and it was looking really, really bad.</p> <p>&ldquo;It would have been easy to give up completely and just think about [2018] for the team but they still kept pushing, in the factory they kept developing and bringing new stuff to the track.</p> <p>&ldquo;In the last three or four weekends we were actually in the mix again and out-qualifying people and out-racing people fair and square.</p> <p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s a big thing for the team and shows the team has a lot of quality both on track but also at the factory.&rdquo;</p> <p>Sauber, having formed a partnership with Alfa Romeo, will continue to field Ericsson this year, alongside Ferrari-backed rookie Charles Leclerc.</p> Webber brands Fernando Alonso's Le Mans attempt a 'mistake'Tue, 09 Jan 2018 16:25:26 GMT<p>Mark Webber believes Fernando Alonso would be making a big mistake if he goes ahead with plans to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year.</p> <p>Alonso is currently in America having run the Roar before the 24 ahead of his Daytona 24 drive with United Autosports later this month, with the event a precursor to a planned Le Mans attack with Toyota.</p> <p>But Webber, who retired from F1 in 2013 to focus on a full-time World Endurance Championship campaign with Porsche, believes Alonso is underestimating what it takes to prepare and compete at Le Mans, which the Australian doesn&#39;t believe is feasible alongside a full-time Formula 1 drive, particularly if McLaren can start challenging for wins once again.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a mistake, they are two totally different things,&quot; Webber told Italy&#39;s <em>Automoto</em>&nbsp;when asked for his opinion on Alonso&#39;s endurance outings.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;They both absorb a very high amount of mental energy. If you do Formula 1 you cannot afford certain distractions. I say this after doing several seasons and racing at Le Mans. If I were Fernando, I wouldn&rsquo;t do it.&quot;</p> <p>When it was posed to him that Nico Hulkenberg managed a full-time F1 race seat alongside winning Le Mans in 2015, Webber replied: &quot;That was with a second-rate team in F1. The pressures are different. He was also with the top Le Mans team and that simplified things a lot.&quot;</p> <p>The former Red Bull driver and 2015 Le Mans runner-up urged Alonso to do it properly, when he&#39;s done with F1, and reckons competing at Daytona will make the Spaniard realise just how much effort and preparation is required.</p> <p>&ldquo;Either he chooses to do Le Mans properly and focuses on it, working on it three weeks in advance with a maniacal focus and forgetting the rest of the year, or he could risk getting hurt.</p> <p>&ldquo;It requires a very strong mental commitment, and to understand if it&rsquo;s all worth it, I think Alonso is right to do Daytona. He&rsquo;ll assess everything and get an understanding of what is needed. And then I&rsquo;m sure he&rsquo;ll take the right decision.&rdquo;</p> Verstappen: F1 title battle won't damage relationship with Daniel RicciardoTue, 09 Jan 2018 12:11:21 GMT<p>Max Verstappen insists his relationship with Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo will not be damaged, should the team find itself in a position to fight for the Formula 1 championship in 2018.</p> <p>Red Bull lacked pace during the opening races of the 2017 season but closed the gap to rivals Mercedes and Ferrari across the second half of the campaign, having strongly developed its chassis.</p> <p>Verstappen and Ricciardo claimed three victories between them, and although the duo&nbsp;never went up against one another in those races, they were involved in a couple of on-track duels.</p> <p>The most notable was at the Hungarian Grand Prix when they made contact, prompting a radio outburst from Ricciardo, but the pair quickly moved past the incident and Verstappen puts that down to having a mutal respect for one another.</p> <p>&quot;We have a lot of respect for each other and frankly, in my racing career so far, I&#39;ve never had that much to do with a team-mate,&quot; the Dutchman told&nbsp;<em>SpeedWeek.</em></p> <p>&quot;Even if we give everything to fighting hard with one another on the track, Daniel is a great guy and we have a lot of fun off&nbsp;the track.&quot;</p> <p>Verstappen insists the chance of a title battle this season won&#39;t come between them.</p> <p>&quot;We respect each other. Sure, when you fight for the title, it gets more intense on the track, but in the end&nbsp;you always come back to that mutual respect.</p> <p>&quot;You have to accept when one is faster and I think we can. If one of us has a good race, then the other one says that he really deserves it. And I think that&#39;s very important.</p> <p>&quot;So I hope that we will be team-mates for a very long time.&quot;</p> F1 engine 'pretty much all new' - MercedesMon, 08 Jan 2018 22:57:30 GMT<p>Mercedes&#39; 2018 Formula 1 power unit will be &quot;pretty much all new&quot; according to engine boss Andy Cowell, as the manufacturer seeks to extend its advantage this season.</p> <p>Despite the Mercedes unit being ranked amongst the most powerful and efficient on the grid, as well as having almost bullet-proof reliability, Cowell says there is still room for improvement in almost every area.</p> <p>&quot;We&#39;ve got ideas to improve the power,&quot; he told&nbsp;<em>Autosport.</em>&nbsp;&quot;We&#39;ve got ideas to reduce the friction in pretty much every area of the power unit.&quot;</p> <p>When asked how much of the engine would be new, Cowell replied:&nbsp;&quot;Pretty much all new.</p> <p>&quot;Every time you do an engine [update], you&#39;ve always learned [something new],&quot; he explained.&nbsp;&quot;A lot of it is small, marginal gains on well-trodden areas [but] some of it is big, fundamental bits of learning, combustion progress, friction reduction, new materials that unlock areas where we&#39;ve been struggling with reliability. And sometimes it&#39;s just a surprise.</p> <p>&quot;There&#39;s still gains to be had [with this formula]. It&#39;s a plethora of marginal gains, five millisecond gains.&quot;</p> <p>With the scrapping of the token system last year, engine manufacturers are able to introduce entirely new specifications without limitation or penalty.</p> Raikkonen's race engineer quits ahead of 2018 seasonMon, 08 Jan 2018 14:33:20 GMT<p>Kimi Raikkonen&#39;s race engineer at Ferrari has left the team just six weeks before pre-season testing for the 2018 season begins.</p> <p>David Greenwood has been the Finn&#39;s race engineer since he joined Ferrari in 2015 following a move from Marussia where he held the position of chief engineer, but has cited personal reasons for his departure and he will now return to the UK.</p> <p>It&#39;s expected Greenwood will take up a role with Manor Racing&#39;s&nbsp;World Endurance Championship programme as the British squad looks to step up to&nbsp;the&nbsp;LMP1 category as a privateer entry running Ginetta&#39;s new&nbsp;prototype.</p> <p>There has been no confirmation as to who will replace Greenwood as Raikkonen&#39;s race engineer, but with testing just weeks away and the launch of Ferrari&#39;s 2018 car scheduled for February 22, an announcement is expected soon.</p> Alonso concedes United Autosports needs more pace for Daytona 24 HoursMon, 08 Jan 2018 11:08:32 GMT<p>McLaren F1 star Fernando Alonso has conceded United Autosports needs to unearth more pace for this month&#39;s Daytona 24 Hours following the conclusion of the Roar Before the 24 test.</p> <p>Alonso has linked up with United Autosports, the team co-chaired by McLaren boss Zak Brown, to partake in the iconic 24-hour race aboard a Ligier JS P217, with a view to a Le Mans outing.</p> <p>Alonso took the reins for Sunday&rsquo;s mock qualifying session &ndash; which dictated pit and garage order &ndash; but finished 12th, 1.7s behind pacesetter Felipe Nasr, as Cadillac cars controlled proceedings.</p> <p>&ldquo;There are still little changes going on and it&#39;s the same with the performance of the car,&quot; said Alonso.</p> <p>&ldquo;Obviously it&#39;s early days, it&#39;s only testing, but we need to find more pace and hopefully be more competitive when we come back in the race.</p> <p>&ldquo;[But] I think it was a positive weekend, obviously it&rsquo;s nice to have the first touch in the car and experience the circuit for the first time.</p> <p>&ldquo;There are small things that you keep learning lap after lap, the sessions are quite short and you share the car with the team-mates so the amount of laps aren&rsquo;t huge, but it&rsquo;s better than nothing.</p> <p>&ldquo;I feel more prepared for sure, it was a good weekend to work with the guys, with the team, with team-mates, and entering this mood of sharing everything and adapting and making compromises between all of us to be all happy.</p> <p>&ldquo;That was the main priority for the weekend and it&rsquo;s what we achieved.&rdquo;</p> <p>Alonso added that he expected driving at night and the multi-class nature of the event, aspects of which he had limited or no experience, to be more challenging, and was pleased with his progress.</p> <p>&ldquo;It was not a big difference compared to daytime,&rdquo; Alonso said of tackling the Daytona circuit at night.</p> <p>&ldquo;Also in F1 we have some night racing in Bahrain, Singapore and Abu Dhabi; the circuit is quite well illuminated here, it&rsquo;s not like maybe other endurance circuits, so I found no big issues there.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s same with the traffic that I was a little bit afraid of; there are always some moments and some risk when you are overtaking cars here and there, or if they are fighting each other.</p> <p>&ldquo;But that&rsquo;s a normal thing we will face, [and] it&rsquo;s something we should be on top of for the race as well.&rdquo;</p> <p>The Daytona 24 Hours will take place across January 27/28.</p> 247 of Motorsport Monday is out now - 18 to watch in '18Mon, 08 Jan 2018 09:10:13 GMT<p><strong>Issue 247&nbsp;of our free weekly magazine, Motorsport Monday, is online now and packed full of great content&nbsp;&ndash;&nbsp;<a href="">click here</a>&nbsp;or the&nbsp;link below to start reading.</strong></p> <p>A very happy New Year to all our readers!</p> <p>2018 is here and we&#39;re back after a short break. In our latest issue of Motorsport Monday we share our 18 to watch in &#39;18 - all the key points to look out for this year from a resurgent McLaren to S&eacute;bastien Loeb&#39;s part-time WRC return, and everything in between.</p> <p>The racing in January is sparse, but IMSA returned to action this weekend with the &quot;Roar Before the 24&quot; and Daniel Lloyd has all the news from Daytona. Daniel also has an exclusive sportscar insight with new Aston Martin Racing signing and DTM refugee, Maxime Martin.</p> <p>Plus all the latest news from the world of Formula 1, WRC, WEC and more while we have been away.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" height="127" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Magazine/click-to-read.png" width="800" /></a></p> Magnussen praises 'Formula 3' vibe at HaasSun, 07 Jan 2018 12:16:01 GMT<p>Kevin Magnussen says he has been boosted by the apolitical nature of the Haas Formula 1 team, comparing it to a Formula 3 squad.</p> <p>Magnussen, 25, linked up with Haas for 2017, his third team in as many competitive seasons, following prior spells at McLaren and Renault.</p> <p>The Dane was backed by McLaren through his junior career and spent his debut campaign with the Woking-based outfit in 2014, before stepping back to a test/reserve role in 2015.</p> <p>Magnussen was then called up as a replacement for Pastor Maldonado at Renault for 2016, but spent just a season with the team, amid uncertainty over his future, and switched to Haas on a multi-year contract, joining Romain Grosjean at Formula 1&#39;s newest squad.</p> <p>&ldquo;I feel very at home here, I&rsquo;m very happy, it&rsquo;s nice to be in a team that&rsquo;s very simple and everyone here is here to go racing,&rdquo; said Magnussen, reflecting on his first year with Haas.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a much different&hellip; there&rsquo;s no bullshit with any commercial stuff, it&rsquo;s very un-commercial, and a real race team, it&rsquo;s like going racing in Formula 1 with a Formula 3 team, it&rsquo;s very straightforward.</p> <p>&ldquo;You just go and speak to [owner Gene Haas and Team Principal Guenther Steiner] in debriefings, they don&rsquo;t have to speak to any sponsors or anything, they&rsquo;re in the office with us.</p> <p>&ldquo;I enjoy working as a team with a whole and not just working with engineers and mechanics, it&rsquo;s really just one team.&rdquo;</p> <p>Magnussen added: &ldquo;You don&rsquo;t have to deal with people you don&rsquo;t want to deal with.</p> <p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s no-one here that I don&rsquo;t really enjoy working with.</p> <p>&ldquo;You don&rsquo;t have to talk about&hellip;or do stuff that isn&rsquo;t to do with racing, it&rsquo;s all racing, and none of the other stuff, and it gives you a different feeling&hellip; no bullshit.&rdquo;</p> <p>Magnussen finished 14th in the standings last season with a best result of seventh in Azerbaijan.</p> Alonso targeting Indy 500 return in 2019Sat, 06 Jan 2018 11:47:10 GMT<p>Fernando Alonso says he is targeting a return to the Indianapolis 500 in 2019 following his semi-successful debut in 2017 where he led before his retirement.</p> <p>The Spaniard skipped the Monaco Grand Prix with permission from his McLaren team to compete in the 101st running of the&nbsp;Indianapolis 500 with a special one-car McLaren-Andretti entry. Alonso qualified fifth for the race and led for parts before retiring on lap 179 with a Honda engine failure.</p> <p>Alonso will not compete this year, instead opting to race at the 24 Hours of Daytona with United Autosports, while an outing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Toyota has been mooted, but is eyeing an Indy 500 comeback in 2019.</p> <p>&quot;The main focus and priority is Formula 1 and winning a third world championship,&quot; Alonso told media on Friday.&nbsp;&quot;I think this year with McLaren we have a good opportunity to show how good is the team with the Renault power unit, we should be back to the top places. That is the main focus.</p> <p>&quot;To race in some iconic events during the season and not disturb Formula 1 is also the&nbsp;plan,&quot; he added.&nbsp;&quot;Doing this race [Daytona]&nbsp;is also&nbsp;some kind of first step in endurance&nbsp;and how these races are and how much I enjoy these races.</p> <p>&quot;After the 24 hours at Daytona, I will have a better understanding of these championships. Le Mans 24 hour and the triple crown is another target, so if I can fit the Le Mans 24 hour this year as I&rsquo;m not doing the Indy 500, that would be great.</p> <p>&quot;Hopefully the following year, the Indy 500 can be in the plan again.&quot;</p> Williams car looks 'more aggressive' and very 'different' - Felipe MassaSat, 06 Jan 2018 11:25:13 GMT<p>The Williams FW41 looks &quot;a lot more aggressive&quot; according to retired driver Felipe Massa, who said he&#39;d seen the 2018 car in the wind tunnel prior to his departure from the team.</p> <p>This seasons&nbsp;car is the first that has been designed under new chief technical officer Paddy Lowe, who joined from Mercedes last year, and will likely be heavily influenced by the W08 that won both the Drivers&#39; and Constructors&#39; championships last year.</p> <p>Although stable regulations tend to create evolutions of previous seasons designs, the addition of the Halo and the fact this is only the second season of radically different regulations&nbsp;means new concepts are still likely to be discovered which could change the look of the cars in &#39;18.</p> <p>&quot;I saw the new car in the windtunnel and I saw so many changes that it looks quite interesting,&quot; Massa told <em>Autosport</em>.</p> <p>&quot;The car looks a lot more aggressive. It looks a lot more different so I believe maybe they can improve.&quot;</p> <p>Williams finished a distant fifth in the standings after failing to compete with Force India, therefore Massa says it is hugely important they make big steps forward this year particularly given the likely improvement that will come from Renault and McLaren.</p> <p>&quot;You will have Renault that will improve,&quot; he added. &quot;You will also have McLaren so we need to see how much it can be, this improvement.</p> <p>&quot;I need to see also what the drivers can do but I believe maybe the team can have a better car compared to what we had until now.&quot;</p> sees TV and social media growth under Liberty MediaFri, 05 Jan 2018 14:03:53 GMT<p><strong>Under Liberty Media, Formula 1 was one of the fastest growing sports brands over the course of last year through social media growth and increased TV viewing figures.</strong></p> <p>2017 was Liberty Media&#39;s first year at the helm&nbsp;of F1 after taking over the commercial rights of the sport in late 2016 for the sum of&nbsp;US$4.4 billion, and the company has successfully attracted new audiences as it aimed to do following its takeover.&nbsp;</p> <p>By the end of 2017, Formula 1 experienced an increase in TV viewing figures of&nbsp;6.2 per cent&nbsp;while 11.9 million followers across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube marked a growth of 54.9 per cent&nbsp;when compared to 2016&#39;s social media following totals.</p> <p>The biggest rise in TV viewing came in Italy, which showed growth of 19.1 per cent&nbsp;followed by Brazil, 13.4 per cent. Across the 20 races of the 2017 season, viewing figures remained at 603 million cumulative of both live and non-live broadcasts.</p> <p>During the reign of Bernie Ecclestone, very little attention was paid to social media, but under Liberty, online content has been a key area for pursuit with content published to YouTube and other social platforms almost daily, and Sean Bratches, F1&#39;s commercial managing director, highlighted the sport&#39;s growth as encouraging.</p> <p>&ldquo;Central to our efforts last season was to improve the fan experience across our platforms and it is encouraging to see the engagement that fans around the world have with Formula One media,&quot; he said.</p> <p>Liberty Media also reported <a href="">higher race attendance figures for the 2017 season</a>, with an 8 per cent rise to more than 4 million.</p> India names Nicholas Latifi as reserve driver for 2018Fri, 05 Jan 2018 13:11:20 GMT<p><strong>Force India has announced that Nicholas Latifi will be the team&#39;s reserve and test driver for the upcoming 2018 season.</strong></p> <p>Latifi enjoyed a strong season in Formula 2 in 2017 for DAMS, scoring one win at Silverstone and eight further podiums which allowed him to secure fifth&nbsp;in the Drivers&#39; Championship.&nbsp;</p> <p>For 2018, the 22-year-old Canadian will represent Force India in young driver tests and will also participate in a number of FP1 sessions throughout the season for the team.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m really excited about the opportunity. Sahara Force India is a team that has shown constant improvement for the last few years and I&rsquo;m proud to become a part of one of the success stories of Formula One,&quot; said Latifi who was Renault&#39;s test driver in 2016.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;I am eager to show the team what I can do and help them as they continue to close the gap to the front of the grid.&quot;</p> <p>Force India&#39;s team principal, Vijay Mallya added:&nbsp;&ldquo;Nicholas joins us off the back of a strong season in F2 and strengthens our driver development programme. He will support our simulator programme and work with the team during a number of Friday practice sessions next year.</p> <p>&quot;We have a long track record of bringing on young talented drivers and Nicholas will learn a huge amount as he gets embedded in the team, and looks forward to a career in Formula One.&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Competition winner gets to drive Mercedes simulatorFri, 05 Jan 2018 09:48:42 GMT<p>What does it take to be a Silver Arrows F1 simulator driver? Check out what happened when competition winner, Matt, was the first member of the public to find out...</p> Lewis Hamilton goes sneaker shopping with ComplexFri, 05 Jan 2018 09:40:18 GMT<p>F1 champion Lewis Hamilton goes Sneaker Shopping with Joe La Puma at BAIT in Los Angeles and talks about getting his own signature sneaker, plus his love for fashion.</p> F1 reserve Antonio Giovinazzi gets DS Virgin Formula E testThu, 04 Jan 2018 09:56:43 GMT<p>Ferrari reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi has been drafted in to complete DS Virgin Racing&rsquo;s line-up for this month&rsquo;s rookie test in Morocco.</p> <p>Giovinazzi spent 2017 as back-up to Sebastian Vettel and Kimi R&auml;ikk&ouml;nen, and competed in Australia and China in place of the unfit Pascal Wehrlein at Sauber.</p> <p>Giovinazzi, who also carried out Haas practice runs, was in contention for a Sauber seat for 2018 but missed out to Marcus Ericsson, though will retain a connection to the squad and receive six FP1 outings.</p> <p>Giovinazzi will sample DS Virgin&rsquo;s DSV-03 machine in the post-Marrakech rookie test, alongside BMW DTM newcomer and F3 runner-up Joel Eriksson.</p> <p>The publication of the FIA&rsquo;s entry list also revealed that Williams simulator driver and Mercedes DTM ace Gary Paffett will link up with Venturi.</p> <p>Elsewhere, Formula 2 driver Alexander Albon will test for Renault e.dams, amid a mooted move to its sister squad in Formula 1&rsquo;s feeder series, along with Japanese F3 champion Mitsunori Takaboshi.</p> Alonso unveils special helmet for Daytona 24 HoursWed, 03 Jan 2018 16:57:45 GMT<p>Fernando Alonso has unveiled the helmet design which he will sport at this year&rsquo;s Daytona 24 Hours, which kicks off on Friday with the Roar before the 24 official test.</p> <p>Alonso will team up with McLaren&rsquo;s test/reserve driver Lando Norris and young gun Phil Hanson to pilot a Ligier JS P217 fielded by United Autosports, the outfit co-owned by McLaren boss Zak Brown.</p> <p>Alonso has released renders of his predominantly white helmet, though his usual colours &ndash; blue, red and yellow &ndash; have been retained in the form of stripes.</p> <p>Daytona&rsquo;s tri-oval, some of which is utilised for the endurance event, is also printed on the rear of Alonso&rsquo;s lid.</p> <p>The upcoming event marks Alonso&rsquo;s first crack at the Daytona 24 Hours, with the Spaniard having been keen to explore options alongside Formula 1 in recent years.</p> <p>Alonso participated at the Indianapolis 500 in 2017 &ndash; qualifying fifth before leading several chunks of the race &ndash; and tested Toyota&rsquo;s TS050 HYBRID in Bahrain last November.</p> <p>Alonso has been linked with Toyota for an attempt at this year&rsquo;s Le Mans 24 Hours, with the event not clashing with any Formula 1 race.</p> <p style="text-align:center"><img alt="" height="300" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/IMSA/daytona-helmet-.jpg" width="689" /></p> <p style="text-align:center"><img alt="" height="561" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/New%20F1%20photos/Untitled2.jpg" width="571" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Red Bull's off-track highlights from 2017Wed, 03 Jan 2018 16:14:10 GMT<p>At Red Bull Racing we take Formula One very seriously. The trick, however, is to not take yourself too seriously...&nbsp;</p> <p>This is a sport, not a dental practice, and the point is to enjoy it. So, at the track, we&rsquo;re ultra-professional; off-track, well, maybe not so much and in this our drivers like to lead by example. In that spirit we&rsquo;ve put together our end-of-year alternative highlights reel, showcasing some of our pre-race weekend activations, plus a few moments that &ndash; unfairly perhaps &ndash; didn&rsquo;t make it into other videos. Enjoy!</p> Norris hopes to gain from Fernando Alonso partnership at DaytonaWed, 03 Jan 2018 15:43:49 GMT<p>McLaren youngster Lando Norris says that partnering Fernando Alonso at the Daytona 24 Hours presents him with an opportunity to learn &ndash; and also to outline his credentials.</p> <p>Norris, 18, joined McLaren at the start of 2017 and conducted test runs, alongside his title-winning Formula 3 campaign, before being promoted to the role of test/reserve driver for 2018.</p> <p>Norris&rsquo; full programme for 2018 will be with Carlin Racing in Formula 2, but the Briton will make his sportscar debut at the Daytona 24 Hours for the United Autosports outfit co-owned by McLaren chief Zak Brown.</p> <p>Norris will team up with Alonso and Phil Hanson aboard the #23 Ligier JS P217s for the famous event, whose build-up begins this weekend with the ROAR before the 24.</p> <p>&ldquo;I would like to do well, but obviously it is a good opportunity for me to learn from him,&rdquo; Norris said of sharing duties with two-time Formula 1 champion Alonso.</p> <p>&ldquo;I definitely don&rsquo;t think I can let it go to waste but at the same time I would like to prove what I can do, especially in the qualifying runs.</p> <p>&ldquo;Daytona&rsquo;s a team game, so at one point I&rsquo;m going to have to realise and switch and learn together.</p> <p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re not going against each other but of course I would like to say it&rsquo;s going to be a bit of competition for the practice and qualifying runs and whoever does the best then I think has done the best.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s just a good opportunity to learn, not just from him but about everything, then hopefully [I can carry that] into other categories I do.&rdquo;</p> <p>Norris added: &ldquo;I will get to know a bit more about the work ethic of an F1 driver.</p> <p>&ldquo;Even though it&rsquo;s a different car he&rsquo;ll still want to do as well as he can, especially beat his team-mates.</p> <p>&ldquo;He&rsquo;ll work as much as he can try to and improve the car, although there&rsquo;ll always be a compromise, that you can&rsquo;t change the set-up for every driver, so you all need to be confident with one set-up.</p> <p>&ldquo;But whatever I can learn I&rsquo;ll try and take onboard and help me.&rdquo;</p> di Resta, Pietro Fittipaldi get Jaguar test chance, Joel Eriksson to VirginWed, 03 Jan 2018 14:11:49 GMT<p>Former Force India and Williams Formula 1 racer Paul di Resta will link up with Jaguar for this month&rsquo;s Marrakech rookie test in Formula E.</p> <p>Di Resta competed for Force India from 2011 to 2013 before joining Williams in a reserve role, which led to an outing in Hungary last season in place of the unwell Felipe Massa.</p> <p>Di Resta was a candidate for the vacancy at Williams for 2018 but Sergey Sirotkin is now understood to be the frontrunner, with Robert Kubica having also been evaluated.</p> <p>Di Resta will share driving duties in the I-TYPE 2 with Formula V8 3.5 champion Pietro Fittipaldi at the Moulay El Hassan circuit on January 14.</p> <p>Fittipaldi, grandson of double F1 champion Emerson, claimed the 2017 title in the now-defunct V8 3.5 series, taking six wins and 10 poles from 18 races.</p> <p>Elsewhere, DS Virgin Racing has confirmed that Formula 3 runner-up Joel Eriksson will pilot one of its DSV-03 for the one-day test.</p> <p>Eriksson finished second to McLaren prot&eacute;g&eacute; Lando Norris in Formula 3 last season and will compete full-time in DTM this year with BMW.</p> to Paul Ricard layout ahead of F1 returnWed, 03 Jan 2018 10:12:25 GMT<p>Organisers of the French Grand Prix at the Circuit Paul Ricard have confirmed a number of track modifications ahead of its return to the Formula 1 calendar later this year.</p> <p>The venue was confirmed as host of the French GP last year along with the chosen layout, which will include the Sud/Nord chicane on the long back straight, making a total of 15 corners and a length of 5.861km.</p> <p>However some modifications have been approved by the FIA ahead of its debut which include tightening Turn 1, which will make the corner slightly slower on entry, widening the entry of Turn 5 and tweaking the Turn 14/15&nbsp;complex.</p> <p>The biggest change will come at Turn 12 with an entirely new corner being laid which bypasses the original corner, making it a sweeping left-hander aimed at increasing overtaking.</p> <p>Circuit boss St&eacute;phane Clair hopes the modifications will be completed and homologated in early-February, with the Grand Prix set for June 24.</p> <p>Meanwhile work on updating and extending the press room and paddock continue, along with installing additional grandstands to cater for 90,000+ spectators.</p> <p>France has not hosted a Formula 1 race since 2008, when the event was held at Magny-Cours.</p> Bottas launches 2018 helmet design competitionTue, 02 Jan 2018 16:51:53 GMT<p>Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes have launched a competition for a fan to design his 2018 helmet, which will be used at the &quot;majority&quot; of races on the record-equalling 21-race calendar.</p> <p>The Finnish driver regularly uses a mainly black and white helmet featuring his race number #77 on the back, but has called on fans to submit their own designs with no guidance on colour or style.</p> <p>The winning design will be personally chosen by Bottas after the closing date of January 12.</p> <p>The competition follows team-mate Lewis Hamilton&#39;s own last year in which he received <a href="">more than 8,000 submissions</a>&nbsp;and <a href="">picked this design</a>.</p> <p>More information on Bottas&#39; helmet competition can be found <a href="">here</a>.</p> 'considering' B-team like Ferrari/Alfa Romeo - Toto WolffTue, 02 Jan 2018 14:24:34 GMT<p>Mercedes could follow in Ferrari&#39;s footsteps by creating its own &#39;B-team&#39; like the Italian marque has done with Alfa Romeo and Sauber according to&nbsp;Toto Wolff.</p> <p>Sauber will be known as Alfa Romeo Sauber in 2018 following a link-up with the Italian manufacturer which shares a president with Ferrari in Sergio Marchionne.</p> <p>The partnership is focused on selling more Alfa Romeo cars, but will run Ferrari engines and a Ferrari-backed driver in Charles Leclerc. The team will also receive technical support from Ferrari, effectively making it a B-team and Wolff reckons that&#39;s a clever strategy which could aid Ferrari&#39;s championship hopes, whilst giving it more power in the sport.</p> <p>&quot;I think what Sergio Marchionne and [team principal] Maurizio [Arrivabene] are doing is very clever,&quot; Wolff told <em>ESPN</em>.</p> <p>&quot;They&#39;ve had a good relationship with Haas. That has helped Haas and helped Ferrari and what they are doing now with Sauber is very visionary. It can be an alliance that can be dangerous for us.&quot;</p> <p>Wolff says a similar idea is being considered by the German giant to boost its presence on the grid.</p> <p>&quot;It&#39;s something that we are considering. It&#39;s not easy because you don&#39;t want to distract your own organisation with a collaboration with another team on the other side.</p> <p>&quot;We are not the only ones who are having intelligent ideas &ndash; we are having discussions but nothing is done yet.&quot;</p> <p>It&#39;s not clear what brand Mercedes could use for a junior team as it operates very few subsidiaries, with notable ones including Smart and Maybach, although it does own small stakes in rival manufacturers such as Aston Martin.</p> Alonso: Daytona will make me a better driverMon, 01 Jan 2018 20:07:25 GMT<p>Fernando Alonso is keen to get his maiden Daytona 24 Hours outing underway and believes participating in other series besides Formula 1 will improve him as a driver.</p> <p>The McLaren driver will compete&nbsp;for United Autosports at this month&#39;s Daytona 24 in what is Alonso&#39;s second competitive outing in the US outside of F1 in the last 12 months, having competed in &ndash; and led &ndash; the Indianapolis 500 with a one-car McLaren-Andretti entry.</p> <p>The Spaniard believes broadening his experience in other racing categories will make him a better overall driver and is raring to get going this week.</p> <p>&quot;It&rsquo;s a true pleasure to go back racing in the States, in front of the&nbsp;US fans,&quot; said Alonso.&nbsp;&quot;In less than a year&nbsp;I will have competed in two legendary races, which makes me very proud.</p> <p>&quot;I have always wanted to challenge myself in other categories of motorsport, as this is what you need to become a better driver. Going out of my&nbsp;comfort zone by taking part in&nbsp;such an iconic race as the Daytona 24 Hours&nbsp;is just amazing.&quot;</p> <p>He added: &quot;I am looking forward to racing for United&nbsp;Autosports,&nbsp;the&nbsp;reigning European LMP3 Champions.</p> <p>&quot;At the test we had in Spain in November, everyone made me feel extremely welcome and part of the&nbsp;family and I&rsquo;m happy&nbsp;to be&nbsp;spending more&nbsp;time&nbsp;with the team and my team-mates in a few days, at the ROAR.</p> <p>&quot;I just cannot wait to jump in the car again&nbsp;and drive on the&nbsp;famous&nbsp;oval.</p> <p>&quot;In the last couple of&nbsp;months I have been spending&nbsp;time watching several Daytona 24 Hours,&nbsp;which made me even keener&nbsp;to go out there and try myself. It&rsquo;s going to be fun!&quot;</p> <p>Alonso&#39;s team-mates in the #23 car will be McLaren third driver Lando Norris and 2017 ALMS champion Phil Hanson.</p> <p>Alonso isn&#39;t the only F1 driver taking part, in fact United Autosports&#39; #32 car is made up of former HRT racer Bruno Senna, former Force India and current Williams test driver Paul di Resta, alongside&nbsp;Hugo de Sadeleer and Will Owen.</p> Brown: Fernando Alonso not distracted by non-F1 projectsSun, 31 Dec 2017 11:58:12 GMT<p>McLaren chief Zak Brown has emphasised that Formula 1 is Fernando Alonso&rsquo;s priority and believes that other projects are a help, rather than a hindrance.</p> <p>Alonso&rsquo;s Formula 1 prospects have dwindled in recent years, having been lumbered with uncompetitive machinery, and the Spaniard has spoken of his desire to compete for the Triple Crown.</p> <p>Alonso made his debut at the Indianapolis 500 this year and sampled LMP1 machinery with Toyota, ahead of a mooted outing at the 2018 Le Mans 24 Hours.</p> <p>Alonso will also compete in LMP2 machinery at next month&rsquo;s Daytona 24 Hours with United Autosports, the operation co-founded by Brown.</p> <p>Rather than viewing Alonso&rsquo;s extra activities as a distraction, Brown asserts that the 36-year-old is fully focused on whichever project he commits to.</p> <p>&ldquo;I like how he just wants to race every weekend, what a lot of people don&rsquo;t know is he&rsquo;s racing in a go-kart most weekends he&rsquo;s not in a Formula 1 car,&rdquo; Brown said.</p> <p>&ldquo;I think the more experience the better, the more driving the better, some people said what about his focus and I say well he&rsquo;s absolutely 100 per cent focused on motor-racing, he&rsquo;s not out doing other things.</p> <p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s how it used to be in the Mario Andretti days and it&rsquo;s great to see Fernando has that kind of attitude.&rdquo;</p> <p>Brown cited a pre-Daytona test as an example of Alonso&rsquo;s mentality.</p> <p>&ldquo;When we tested in Spain we had a few other cars there and I asked him if he wanted to drive them,&rdquo; Brown reflected.</p> <p>&ldquo;It was &lsquo;no I&rsquo;m in LMP2 mode&rsquo; and it wasn&rsquo;t that he didn&rsquo;t want to drive the cars but &lsquo;I&rsquo;m here, I have a mission, I have a plan, I&rsquo;m not going to mess about in other cars I&rsquo;ll go and play in those another time&rsquo;.</p> <p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s the type of mindset he brings when he goes racing, so if he makes a commitment to something else I think he&rsquo;ll be cautious as to whatever commitments he makes.&rdquo;</p> Week's most popular stories in 2017Sat, 30 Dec 2017 17:32:25 GMT<p>Another season of motorsport&nbsp;and another year done and dusted. It&#39;s flown by! But with the New Year just around the corner,&nbsp;we take a look at the most popular stories on Motorsport Week in 2017 as we usher in 2018 and what will hopefully be another great season of racing.</p> <p>First of all, we&#39;d like to wish all our readers a Happy New Year and we look forward to welcoming you back in 2018.&nbsp;</p> <p>Now, here&#39;s what proved popular on Motorsport Week in 2017...</p> <p><a href="">Sebastian Vettel could yet face further punishment for Lewis Hamilton swipe</a></p> <p><img alt="" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/jm1725ju621.jpg" /></p> <p>Our most popular story, by some distance, was one which centered on 2017&#39;s most controversial moment (logo change aside). We reported that Sebastian Vettel could face further punishment for his deliberate swipe at Lewis Hamilton during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Jean Todt called an International Tribunal to discuss the matter, but in the end, let the German off with a slap on his wrist.</p> <p><a href="">Ross Brawn appointed Formula 1 managing director by Liberty Media</a></p> <p><img alt="" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/C246hHvXAAADub0.jpg" /></p> <p>With Liberty Media&#39;s takeover came more announcements and appointments and one that proved popular with fans, and our readers, was the hiring of Formula 1 guru Ross Brawn. Brawn was appointed director of motorsports and it marked his return to the sport following his departure in 2013 when he left his position at Mercedes having handed the reigns over to Toto Wolff.</p> <p><a href="">Honda &#39;worried&#39; problems could compromise start to Formula 1 season</a></p> <p><img alt="" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/jm1702ma175.jpg" /></p> <p>Honda&#39;s chief at the time Yusuke Hasegawa admitted to some concerns over their new power units reliability after McLaren suffered issues during pre-season testing. Turns out he was right to be worried as the relationship finally ended in divorce with the two going their separate ways. McLaren with Renault and Honda with Toro Rosso.</p> <p><a href="">Porsche to Formula 1 with Williams - it makes sense</a></p> <p><img alt="" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/porsche-williams.jpg" /></p> <p>VW/Porsche and F1. It&#39;s always a hot topic of conversation. Joe Saward presented some concrete reasons why it finally makes sense for the German marque to get involved in the sport via the struggling Williams team which could do with a cash injection and some manufacturer backing. Seems our readers would like to see it become a reality too.</p> <p><a href="">Formula 1 to trial new Thursday press conference format in Melbourne</a></p> <p><img alt="" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/jm1526no122.jpg" /></p> <p>A small change to the Friday press conference format was a story we didn&#39;t expect to prove so popular, but this one racked up many tens of thousands of reads. It seems F1 fans really are passionate about even the tiniest of details. No longer do we get the six in one session, now we get four in two sessions. What an excting change, right?</p> <p><a href="">Robert Kubica set for Williams test as team considers Pole for 2018 seat</a></p> <p><img alt="" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/jm1701se178.jpg" /></p> <p>We reported on the news that Robert Kubica would be testing for Williams following his Renault outing which unfortunately didn&#39;t result in a drive. It turns out the Williams test might come to nothing too as Sergey Sirotkin looks to have landed the seat alongside Lance Stroll, but the nonetheless it created some great headlines and gave us Kubica fans a glimmer of hope.</p> <p><a href="">Formula E will overtake Formula 1 in ten years - Richard Branson</a></p> <p><img alt="" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/FormulaE/1-_MGL7414.jpg" /></p> <p>This one&#39;s a recent story and it split opinion with some fans claiming Sir Richard Branson is right, whilst others found his comments laughable. Could Formula E overtake F1 in terms of popularity? It&#39;s certainly got a long way to go, a very long way, but there&#39;s no denying the all-electric series is making big gains and will continue to do so. It&#39;s got the manufacturers buzzing at least!</p> <p><a href="">Some corners will no longer be considered corners in 2017 - McLaren</a></p> <p><img alt="" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/mclaren-mcl32-jm17127fe73.jpg" /></p> <p>New, faster, wider and meaner cars debuted in 2017, but prior to their launch, McLaren&#39;s&nbsp;technical director Tim Goss reckoned the downforce they would create would essentially turn corners into straights as drivers would have no need to lift off the throttle. You could claim he was partly right as some corners were certainly flat-out that weren&#39;t in 2016, whilst lap records were broken almost every weekend.</p> <p><a href="">Mystery solved as Formula 1 admits eagle shadow was CGI</a></p> <p><img alt="" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Video/Screen%20Shot%202017-10-25%20at%2011_07_25.jpg" /></p> <p>This was a bizarre story. A giant eagle silhouette crossed the circuit in Austin prompting fans to question whether it could really have been real or whether the camera angle made it look larger than it really was. Turns out, it was fake. Yep, F1 has turned to adding in live CGI effects. Whatever next? CGI adverts...oh wait, we&#39;ve got those already.</p> <p><a href="">Investigation launched into Melbourne post-race track invasion</a></p> <p><img alt="" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/Australia/jm1726ma405.jpg" /></p> <p>In scenes that were similar to those from the 80s, fans flooded the track in Melbourne before the cool down lap had finished and drivers had to negotiate their way through crowds to get back to the pitlane. Race organisers said the matter would be investigated...turns out there was some confusion amongst the marshals. That&#39;s that&nbsp;then.</p> Hamilton clears his Instagram after controversial postSat, 30 Dec 2017 11:50:12 GMT<p>Formula 1&#39;s most popular driver on social media, Lewis Hamilton, has wiped his Instagram page clean leaving his 5.7 million followers looking at a &#39;No Posts Yet&#39; message, in a move which comes just days after the Briton was caught up in controversy on the photo and video sharing platform.</p> <p>Hamilton posted a Christmas Day video of his nephew in a Princess dress, with the four-time champion commenting: &#39;&#39;Why are you wearing a princess dress? Is this what you got for Christmas? Boys don&#39;t wear princess dresses!&#39;&#39;</p> <p>Hamilton suffered a negative backlash from some of his followers who claimed his nephew should be free to wear whatever he wants without being shamed, forcing the Mercedes driver into issuing an apology.</p> <p>&#39;&#39;Yesterday I was playing around with my nephew and realised that my words were inappropriate so I removed the post,&quot; Hamilton wrote on&nbsp;Twitter. &#39;&#39;I meant no harm and did not mean to offend anyone at all. I love that my nephew feels free to express himself as we all should.</p> <p>&#39;&#39;My deepest apologies for my behaviour as I realise it is really not acceptable for anyone, no matter where you are from, to marginalise or stereotype anyone. &#39;I have always been in support of anyone living their life exactly how they wish and I hope I can be forgiven for this lapse in judgement.&#39;&#39;</p> <p>Not only has Hamilton deleted his entire collection of photos and videos from Instagram, but he has also removed the apology from his Twitter account.</p> and Renault will jump midfield in 2018 - Romain GrosjeanSat, 30 Dec 2017 11:16:17 GMT<p>Romain Grosjean expects Haas&#39; closest competitors will change dramatically next season as a shift in the pecking order takes hold of the grid.</p> <p>Haas spent 2017 battling McLaren, Toro Rosso and Renault over the final few points on offer at each race to eventually finish eighth in the standings, 17 points ahead of McLaren and just six behind STR, with Renault a further four ahead.</p> <p>However with Renault investing heavily in its works team and McLaren switching engine supplier, Grosjean expects those two teams to become out of reach as they jump ahead of the midfield, pushing Force India and Williams down and into the reach of Haas.</p> <p>&quot;McLaren is going to be super strong next year and they have huge resources, probably the biggest factory in Formula 1,&quot; the Frenchman is quoted as saying by&nbsp;<em>GPUpdate.</em></p> <p>&quot;McLaren I believe is going to be there with Red Bull, then it&#39;s going to be Renault.</p> <p>&quot;The Renault engine is a decent engine, they&#39;ve had reliability issues but power-wise they&#39;re up there, Renault is a on a high, they&#39;ve been developing pretty well and are in front of us already.&quot;</p> <p>When asked who would make up the midfield in 2018, Grosjean replied: &quot;The [answer to that]&nbsp;question is Force India, Williams, ourselves and Toro Rosso with their new power unit.&quot;</p> Gasly: Honda exclusivity will help Toro Rosso's 2018 F1 fortunesSat, 30 Dec 2017 11:15:20 GMT<p>Toro Rosso&rsquo;s Pierre Gasly says the team will benefit from being Honda&rsquo;s sole partner in 2018, and believes there will be &ldquo;no compromise&rdquo; as the Japanese marque strives to prove its worth.</p> <p>Honda returned to Formula 1 with McLaren in 2015 but the partnership was plagued by a lack of reliability and performance, restricting the outfit to a best race result of fifth and highest championship classification of sixth.</p> <p>McLaren and Honda ultimately split, with Toro Rosso picking up the Japanese powertrains on a three-year deal, as the only team to be supplied by Honda.</p> <p>Having effectively been Renault&rsquo;s third priority through 2017, Gasly, who will step up to Formula 1 full-time in 2018, believes being Honda&rsquo;s sole partner will be beneficial.</p> <p>&ldquo;Exactly, I think that&rsquo;s how it should look at it,&rdquo; said Gasly when asked if being Honda&rsquo;s focus was of use to Toro Rosso.</p> <p>&ldquo;Their goal is to prove to everyone that they can make fast engines and we are the only ones to have their engines.</p> <p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re sure they&rsquo;ll give everything they can to give the best treatment and there will be no compromise, so I think this is positive thing.</p> <p>&ldquo;They will have an extra three or four months to improve before the beginning of the year.</p> <p>&ldquo;They are definitely improving; when you look at the McLarens, they are much better now [at the end of 2017] than like six months ago.</p> <p>&ldquo;If they [Honda] manage to keep this momentum I think it will be a good move and I think it will surprise everyone in a nice way so let&rsquo;s hope it can happen.&rdquo;</p> <p>Toro Rosso finished seventh in the 2017 Constructors&rsquo; Championship, having slipped behind Renault during the final round of the year in Abu Dhabi.</p> Hakkinen praises Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton for 2017 F1 approachFri, 29 Dec 2017 08:45:03 GMT<p>Double World Champion Mika H&auml;kkinen has praised Mercedes for its approach during its title-winning 2017 campaign, and lauded Lewis Hamilton&rsquo;s motivation.</p> <p>Mercedes, which dominated from 2014-16, was joined by Ferrari at the front of the grid under revised regulations, before pulling clear across the second half of the campaign, as it clinched its fourth straight Constructors&#39; crown.</p> <p>In a similar vein, Hamilton scrapped with Sebastian Vettel, prior to hitting form, as his rival encountered a series of incidents and reliability setbacks, enabling the Briton to wrap up a fourth title in Mexico.</p> <p>H&auml;kkinen believes Mercedes displayed commendable team work in 2017, and acknowledged Hamilton&rsquo;s desire to keep collecting victories and titles.</p> <p>&ldquo;Some people think the turning point in Lewis&rsquo;&nbsp;season came after the summer break, when he won three Grands Prix in a row at Spa, Monza and Singapore,&rdquo; H&auml;kkinen wrote in his <em>Unibet </em>blog.</p> <p>&ldquo;Gor me his dominant win at home in Silverstone was the trigger.&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;Behind him the Mercedes team had been working very hard to understand this year&rsquo;s car, and the best way to get the most from the new regulations.</p> <p>&ldquo;Mercedes worked hard to get the most of their &lsquo;diva&rsquo;, and this is where the team work became so important.</p> <p>&ldquo;You could even see the level of team work at Mercedes between their drivers.</p> <p>&ldquo;In Hungary, Valtteri handed his race position over to Lewis, and when Lewis was not able to do anything about Kimi Raikkonen&rsquo;s Ferrari in second&nbsp;place, he handed it back to Valtteri again.</p> <p>&ldquo;That showed great maturity and professionalism from the drivers and the team management.&rdquo;</p> <p>H&auml;kkinen added that it was &ldquo;critical&rdquo; Hamilton retained his desire to chase honours, having himself retired just two years after taking the second of his titles.</p> <p>&ldquo;Lewis&rsquo;&nbsp;achievement in winning four World Championship titles is impressive, and you can see that he has kept the hunger alive,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;That is critical.</p> <p>&ldquo;When I won both my World Championships in 1998 and 1999 I went into 2000 absolutely determined to win a third title, but it was not to be.</p> <p>&ldquo;After that year, when I felt my energy levels drop a little, it was not long before I retired. Some drivers are happy with one title, others need to keep going.</p> <p>&ldquo;Michael Schumacher was able to push himself year after year, but there are not many who can sustain that level of motivation.&rdquo;</p> wanted to supply McLaren - Toto WolffThu, 28 Dec 2017 10:47:58 GMT<p>Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff insists the German manufacturer was open to supplying McLaren with engines for the 2018 season, but negotiations dragged on for far too long and in the end it was too late to make it a reality.</p> <p>McLaren approached Mercedes about a deal shortly after pre-season testing in 2017 when it became clear that Honda hadn&#39;t managed to produce a reliable or powerful engine.</p> <p>However negotiations over the details of a deal between the two teams lasted many months and ultimately came to nothing, with McLaren forced to approach Renault for a last minute deal, but that wasn&#39;t as a result of Mercedes not wanting to supply the British team, according to Wolff.</p> <p>&quot;We wanted to give McLaren an engine, the problem is that it dragged on for a long time and we just didn&#39;t have the structure in place and the capacity to supply them an engine for 2018. It was simply too late,&quot; he told&nbsp;<em>ESPN.</em></p> <p>McLaren managed to get a Renault deal after convincing Toro Rosso to surrender its supply in favour of Honda, which means McLaren will now run the same engine as Red Bull, which coincidentally also tried to get a Mercedes deal in 2015, but failed.</p> <p>Wolff admitted this was partly down to the fact Red Bull had publicly slated Renault and showed a lack of respect toward its partners.</p> <p>&quot;It is exactly because they are saying it like this and undermining their current partner that they are not having one!&quot; added Wolff. &quot;In F1, like everywhere else in life &ndash; be it your private life or business life &ndash; it&#39;s about compromise and acknowledging your partner&#39;s strengths and weaknesses and helping each other out.&quot;</p> E will overtake Formula 1 in ten years - Richard BransonSun, 24 Dec 2017 17:22:34 GMT<p>Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson believes Formula E will overtake Formula 1 as the premier motorsport series within a decade.</p> <p>Branson became involved with F1 in 2009 when he sponsored the Brawn GP team before becoming a team owner in 2010 with Virgin Racing. However after two unsuccessful seasons the outfit was sold to Marussia.</p> <p>Branson then moved into Formula E for the series debut season in 2014, finishing fifth. In 2015 the team were third, fourth in 2016 and are currently second in season four thanks to Sam Bird&#39;s Hong Kong victory.</p> <p>The British billionaire reckons the series has what it takes to overtake F1 in terms of popularity.</p> <p>&quot;It&rsquo;s just a fantastic platform to shine a light of advancing technologies in electronic vehicles,&quot; Branson told&nbsp;China&#39;s&nbsp;<em>The Post</em>.&nbsp;&quot;And also to show the world electric cars aren&rsquo;t slow and boring, but they&rsquo;re cool, fun and sustainable.</p> <p>&quot;It&rsquo;s been incredibly exciting. It&rsquo;s growing very rapidly, every season they&rsquo;re bringing in new initiatives.</p> <p>&quot;I&rsquo;m willing to forecast that 10 years from now, if Formula 1 continue in their current way, I think Formula E will overtake it.</p> <p>&quot;And so it should, because the world should be powered by clean cars. We&rsquo;ve all got to wean ourselves off dirty cars, and Formula E can lead the way in that.&quot;</p> <p>The series also aligns with Branson&#39;s push for renewable energy and says Formula E can play an important role in raising awareness.</p> <p>&quot;Formula E has done a lot to raise awareness of things like climate change,&quot; he added. &quot;We&rsquo;re in a position to inspire people from both race fans to governments to play their part in tackling things like climate change.</p> <p>&quot;The team really wants to use it to accelerate initiatives that help the world achieve the goals of Paris Climate Accord.&quot;</p> clamps down on steering suspension trick for 2018Sun, 24 Dec 2017 16:59:38 GMT<p>The FIA has issued a technical directive clamping&nbsp;down on a suspension trick employed by multiple teams during the 2017 season.</p> <p>Suspension is a key area of development due to the performance gains it can deliver, but adjustable ride height systems are often banned as soon as they&#39;re discovered and that&#39;s the case once again with this latest development.</p> <p>The FIA&#39;s Charlie Whiting has written to all the teams informing them that a new system, whereby steering angle determines&nbsp;ride height,&nbsp;therefore lowering the car&nbsp;in a corner, will be outlawed.</p> <p>&quot;It became clear during the season that some teams were designing the suspension and steering systems in an attempt to change the front ride height of the car,&quot; wrote Whiting.</p> <p>&quot;Whilst some change is inevitable when the steering wheel is moved from lock-to-lock, we suspect that the effect of some systems was a far from incidental change of ride height.</p> <p>&quot;We also believe that any non-incidental change of ride height is very likely to affect the aerodynamic performance of the car.&quot;</p> <p>Whiting explained that such a system was effectively a moveable aerodynamic device, which is banned under the rules with one exception, the drag-reduction system (DRS).</p> <p>&quot;Any car system, device or procedure which uses driver movement as a means of altering the aerodynamic characteristics of the car is prohibited,&quot; the directive added.</p> <p>&quot;It is our view that such steering systems should be treated in the same way as suspension systems, i.e. that the 1993 ICA ruling should apply when assessing compliance with Article 3.8 of the Technical Regulations.</p> <p>&quot;Hence, any change of front ride height when the steering wheel is moved from lock-to-lock should be wholly incidental.&quot;</p>'Unfair' Formula 1 isn't sport claims former driver Max ChiltonSat, 23 Dec 2017 20:28:03 GMT<p>Formula 1 isn&#39;t a sport because of the huge spread in performance up and down the field according to former Marussia driver Max Chilton.</p> <p>Chilton, who now races in IndyCar following a two-year spell at Marussia in 2013 and 2014, claims the performance gap between the top teams and the backmarkers means drivers cannot prove their talent and therefore it can&#39;t claim to be a sport with so many other factors playing a part in success.</p> <p>The Briton however claims the opposite is true of IndyCar, particularly in 2018 when it switches to a one-make chassis, putting the emphasis on the driver.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="221" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/jm1411oc127.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>Max Chilton in 2014 with the Marussia F1 team</figcaption> </figure> <p>&quot;I&#39;ve raced against people like Daniel [Ricciardo]&nbsp;who win races so I know I am not a million miles away,&quot; he told&nbsp;<em>Sportsmail.</em>&nbsp;&quot;It&#39;s frustrating when the sport is that unfair. When you are driving and being passed by a car that&#39;s 20mph faster that&#39;s not sport.</p> <p>&quot;The problem F1 has got at the moment is there is a four-second gap between the lead car and the back car and that&#39;s not really sport. Sport should pretty much be a level playing field or as close to possible.</p> <p>&quot;That&#39;s the bit I struggle with but I didn&#39;t make myself look stupid. I came away learning a lot and would love to go back to F1 one day but it would have to be in a mid-to-front-running team.&quot;</p> <p>Chilton conceded that motorsport is never going to be a completely level-playing field, but reckons IndyCar is as close as it will get.</p> <p>&quot;Motorsport is never going to be like that, it&#39;s impossible, but IndyCar next year is going to be as near a one-make series than they have done. Everyone has the same aero kit and there is very little difference between the engines and the racing should be even closer next year.</p> <p>&quot;So at least every car can be within a second which is great for the fans. It&#39;s also a great opportunity for Carlin. We still have a lot to learn but hopefully by the end of the year we can produce some results.&quot;</p> Wolff says 'dreadful' halo looks alien on 2018 carSat, 23 Dec 2017 19:29:49 GMT<p>Formula 1 cars&nbsp;will look strikingly different next year&nbsp;with the introduction of the halo head protection device, but Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has described it as looking &quot;alien&quot; after seeing it on their 2018 car for the first time.</p> <p>The device has been pushed through by the FIA on safety grounds and will also be fitted to Formula 2 and Formula E cars next year.</p> <p>Not only has Wolff branded the halo &#39;dreadful&#39;, but he says it&#39;s far too heavy and will cause teams a headache due to the higher centre of gravity.</p> <p>&quot;It&#39;s a dreadful piece,&quot; he told&nbsp;<em>ESPN.</em>&nbsp;&quot;We&#39;ve had it in the staff briefing and we&#39;ve shown it [on the W09].</p> <p>&quot;It&#39;s a huge piece of metal, much too heavy, it feels completely alien and I&#39;d like to saw it off if I could!</p> <p>&quot;In terms of aerodynamic development it didn&#39;t interfere too much and everyone has the same problem.</p> <p>&quot;With all the bolts and nuts it&#39;s probably 10 kilos that you have up at the highest point in the car, so the centre of gravity moves up a large chunk and you need to compensate for that. So it&#39;s all wrong.&quot;</p> <p>Wolff is hopeful that an alternative can be found after more attractive alternatives, such as the Aeroscreen and Shield, were canned.</p> <p>&quot;We need to look after driver safety and if there is a device that helps to protect lives, then we need to put it on the car. Maybe in the future we can find a solution that is a little bit more aesthetically pleasing than the halo.&quot;</p> should be bold with 2018 driver line-up - Toto WolffSat, 23 Dec 2017 18:51:43 GMT<p>Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes Williams should make a bold decision over which driver it chooses to partner Lance Stroll next season.</p> <p>Williams are currently evaluating a number of candidates including Robert Kubica and Sergey Sirotkin, although the latter is believed to be the firm favourite following the Abu Dhabi tyre test, where both tested for the team.</p> <p>Wolff, a former shareholder in the team, reckons Williams should take a chance on a rising star rather than chasing a driver with funding, although he admitted the team&#39;s position made that difficult.</p> <p>&quot;If I were Williams today I would be bold and would put a George Russell or a Lando Norris in the car or a [Charles] Leclerc,&quot; Wolff told the <em>BBC</em>.</p> <p>&quot;One of these really bright talented kids who have won championships in the past to develop the next superstar.</p> <p>&quot;But having said that there is a financial reality they live in and they have to find the right compromise.&quot;</p> <p>Meanwhile Wolff said he was more than happy with his current pairing of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, but admitted to keeping an eye out for any developments in the driver market should things not work out in 2018.</p> <p>&quot;In so far as I would like the pairing to continue, we are committed to both of them in 2018,&nbsp;but having said that 2019 is a very exciting new year.</p> <p>&quot;There are young drivers that will have gained more experience and some of the very good ones like Daniel [Ricciardo] become free.</p> <p>&quot;What we want to see is how the first third of the season pans out, whether our car is good enough and strong enough. This is what we are actually concentrating on and then we will analyse and then take the right decisions hopefully.&quot;</p> Marko denies Max Verstappen's salary is close to what Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel are paidFri, 22 Dec 2017 13:44:23 GMT<p>Red Bull&#39;s Helmut Marko has denied rumours that Max Verstappen&#39;s salary for 2018 is anywhere near what Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel are being paid by their teams.</p> <p>Verstappen recently signed a new deal with Red Bull which will see him remain at the team until at least 2020, with reports suggesting his salary is just shy of what Mercedes pay Hamilton and what Ferrari pay Vettel &ndash; both four-time world champions.</p> <p>It&#39;s believed Hamilton earns around &pound;20 million ($26.7m) as a base salary, excluding race win and title bonuses, which actually take his total to more than &pound;30m ($40m), whilst Vettel earns roughly the same.</p> <p>Speaking to <em>Servus TV,&nbsp;</em>Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda taunted Marko over Verstappen&#39;s new pay package, insisting he could have saved some money if he&#39;d spoken to Lauda first, who insists Mercedes never made an approach for the young Dutchman.</p> <p>&quot;We never offered him a contract,&quot; he said.&nbsp;&quot;If we had talked before, you would have saved some money,&quot; he said to Marko.</p> <p>Marko however says money wasn&#39;t the only factor in Verstappen&#39;s decision, but promises about future developments convinced him Red Bull was the best place to be to become champion, before denying the 20-year-old is paid close to what his peers are.</p> <p>&quot;We introduced him to our plans for the future. We guaranteed to him that our most senior people are committed until 2020, and that we have an alternative in terms of engine supply. That is no secret,&quot; added the Austrian.</p> <p>&ldquo;All this convinced him [to stay]. Of course he used the chance to get a salary rise. It&rsquo;s within reason. He is far from what Hamilton or [Sebastian] Vettel. [are&nbsp;paid].&quot;</p> <p>However Verstappen could find himself earning a lot more if he tastes title success with the team.</p> <p>&quot;When he wins championships, he can reach that level [of pay],&quot; added Marko. &quot;By Formula 1 standards, we are on a relatively low level in terms of fixed salary. But we have good bonuses.&quot;</p> girls are traditional? Not exactly...Thu, 21 Dec 2017 21:16:18 GMT<p><strong>F1 &lsquo;grid girls&rsquo; and their retention has been <a href="" target="_blank">quite the topic recently</a>. <em>BBC Radio 5 Live</em> devoted a special programme to it. Ross Brawn has confirmed the grid girl&rsquo;s use is &ldquo;under strong review&rdquo;. Mark Webber had gone further and called the practice &ldquo;dated and inappropriate&rdquo;.</strong></p> <p>There are several questions around their presence. Whether it puts F1 at odds with the society around it, and increasingly so. Whether it damages F1&rsquo;s image and by extension its ability to attract investment and the like. Whether it is in keeping with a sport that is making explicit efforts to encourage more women in as drivers, technical personnel and other roles. Whether the &lsquo;grid girl&rsquo; brings much positive regardless of these points.</p> <p>WEC for one abandoned them a couple of years back. Even F1 has wavered, for example utilising &lsquo;grid boys&rsquo; instead in Monaco in 2015.</p> <p>Of course there is no shortage of those who defend their use, and several lines of argument are employed. A common one is that they are &lsquo;traditional&rsquo;. But as is often so, and often so in F1, things aren&rsquo;t quite that simple.</p> <p>As Duncan Stephen pointed out on Twitter a couple of years ago when the matter was again being discussed, &ldquo;those saying grid girls are traditional, did Jim Clark have a grid girl? Or Fangio? It&rsquo;s not traditional; just a relic of the sleazy &lsquo;70s&rdquo;.</p> <p>Quite. But we can go further about how the female role in F1 once was. Loosely prior to those &lsquo;sleazy &lsquo;70s&rsquo; mentioned. And it was brought into sharp focus by the recent sad passing of the astonishing figure of Bette Hill &ndash; mother of Damon; wife of Graham. &nbsp;</p> <blockquote> <p>Those saying grid girls are traditional, did Jim Clark have a grid girl? Or Fangio? It&rsquo;s not traditional; just a relic of the sleazy &lsquo;70s - Duncan Stephen</p> </blockquote> <p>She is an extraordinary F1 presence and not simply due to her relation to two world champions.</p> <p>David Tremayne has paid glowing tribute to Bette in recent days, and in so doing described an F1 from the 1960s and early 1970s when Bette supported Graham racing in which the role of drivers&rsquo; partners was rather different.</p> <p>&ldquo;They were an intrinsic part of it all,&rdquo; he said of them, &ldquo;part of the team, and also a valuable support group in the bad times, and entertainers via The Doghouse Club which they formed.&rdquo;</p> <p>The latter was the female equivalent of the Grand Prix Drivers&rsquo; Association, and took up many tasks vital both to F1 ticking over as well as to its unique camaraderie of the time. &ldquo;[It&rsquo;s] where I was kept growing up,&rdquo; noted Damon, &ldquo;with the wives and the girlfriends of drivers.&rdquo;</p> <p>And Bette had a pivotal role in it.</p> <p>&ldquo;It was usually Bette who made the first greeting overtures to the new girls, as they found their way,&rdquo; Tremayne went on.</p> <p>&ldquo;I can see Suzy Hunt at Jarama, an absolutely beautiful girl dressed all in white with a white turban, she was just sensational,&rdquo; he quotes Bette saying. &ldquo;And she was standing at a five-barred gate, just leaning on it. Practice was on and she didn&rsquo;t know what the hell to do or where she should be.</p> <p>&ldquo;I went over to her and introduced myself, and said why didn&rsquo;t she come over and sit with a group of drivers&rsquo; wives, team managers&rsquo; wives, mechanics&rsquo; wives and have a cup of coffee. And she said, &lsquo;Do you think I can?&rsquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not patting myself on the back. I did that for her and I did it for a number of those girls, because I had been there a long time and their fellas were too busy even to consider what they should do.&rdquo;</p> <blockquote> <p>They were an intrinsic part of it all, part of the team, and also a valuable support group in the bad times, and entertainers via The Doghouse Club which they formed - David Tremayne</p> </blockquote> <p>But it wasn&rsquo;t just that which made Bette astonishing. She also was extraordinary in her stoicism, not least in the aftermath of Graham&rsquo;s helicopter accident in late 1975, wherein he and all five other passengers &ndash; including driver Tony Brise and several Hill team members &ndash; perished. And on top of everything else it led to the Hill family&rsquo;s financial ruin.</p> <p>But it&rsquo;s not just that either, or at least not precisely. For more clues we can look at the 1965 edition of <em>Autocourse</em> where there is an essay by Elizabeth Hayward titled &lsquo;The Women Behind Them&rsquo;.</p> <p>As the title indicates it examines the role of the F1 driver&rsquo;s other half in mid-1960s F1. At points it amuses the modern senses given the extent that gender politics have moved on in the half century plus since it was written. But still it is fascinating in that it brings home the myriad and often towering demands of F1&rsquo;s women at the time, that seem utterly at odds with the modern stereotypical grid girl role.</p> <p>First off it was an age where danger in motorsport, and prospect of death in action, were very real and frequently realised. And this brought particular demands.</p> <p>&ldquo;She must be &ndash; or become &ndash; a special sort of person if she is to make a success of being a racing driver&rsquo;s wife/girlfriend/mistress,&rdquo; explained Hayward. &ldquo;She has to come to terms with danger, first of all.&rdquo;</p> <blockquote> <p>Bette has learned to be tough, the hard way. [She has] learned to disguise her feelings to the point at which she can look you in the eye and deny their existence - Elizabeth Hayward</p> </blockquote> <p>And Hayward went on to outline that this brought a challenge akin to a high wire tightrope walk. &ldquo;The girl who makes a fuss in the paddock before the race, a kisses her driver &lsquo;goodbye&rsquo; with tears in her eyes, won&rsquo;t last two minutes. Scenes are <strong>out</strong>.</p> <p>&ldquo;Neither must she go to the other extreme and wish him luck with excessive gaiety.&rdquo;</p> <p>And Bette was singled out, Hayward describing her as &ldquo;exceptional&rdquo; and noting that &ldquo;Bette has learned to be tough, the hard way.</p> <p>&ldquo;[She has] learned to disguise her feelings to the point at which she can look you in the eye and deny their existence.&rdquo;</p> <p>But emphatically Bette and others of her ilk were not there for stiff upper lip support only. They had a more tangible job to do. Hayward takes up the story again.</p> <p>&ldquo;The wives of the Grand Prix drivers are to be seen throughout the practice sessions and race days, come wind and high water, imminent or recent childbirth, sitting hunched on the pit counters of the world working at stop watches, time sheets and lap charts with distilled concentration.&rdquo;</p> <p>This was the day before automated electronic timing. It had to be done manually within each team, and it habitually it was a driver&rsquo;s better half that did the job.</p> <blockquote> <p>The wives of the Grand Prix drivers are to be seen throughout the practice sessions and race days, come wind and high water, imminent or recent childbirth, sitting hunched on the pit counters of the world working at stop watches, time sheets and lap charts with distilled concentration - Elizabeth Hayward</p> </blockquote> <p>And they did not just look after the timing for their partner&rsquo;s car, or only for the cars in that team even. They had to time <em>all</em> of the cars out there. And during races they kept a lap chart on top of it all. Pat Surtees &ndash; John&rsquo;s wife &ndash; was thought particularly skilled at it.</p> <p>And of course Bette played her role. &ldquo;You rarely see the BRM pit without Bette&rsquo;s dark head bent over the time board,&rdquo; Hayward confirmed.</p> <p>While in something that seems unthinkable to the modern ear, deciding starting grids sometimes was a case of these various time keepers getting together and comparing notes as the centralised timekeeping was often unreliable and sometimes non-existent. While in the 1973 Canadian Grand Prix &ndash; when a host of mid-race pits stops in a wet-to-dry race, then an early attempt at a safety car intervention, caused major confusion &ndash; they went a long way to deciding the race result.</p> <p>And remember all of this had to be done in a period in which the fate of her partner, and his safety, may be unknown. Even if he was posted missing she had to put concerns aside and continue without a blip.</p> <p>&ldquo;If she is worth her salt, she has to be unaffected by the &lsquo;oohs&rsquo; and &lsquo;ahs&rsquo; of the crowd, by other people coming into the pits, and the commentary,&rdquo; Hayward continued.</p> <p>&ldquo;She is a member of a team. Even if her man&rsquo;s car does not come round, she must go on pressing her stop-watch, or logging the times, or charting numbers. If she loses track, all her effort is wasted, and she has let the team down.</p> <blockquote> <p>Even if her man&rsquo;s car does not come round, she must go on pressing her stop-watch, or logging the times, or charting numbers. If she loses track, all her effort is wasted, and she has let the team down - Elizabeth Hayward</p> </blockquote> <p>&ldquo;What goes through a woman&rsquo;s mind when the man she loves is missing? She would be odd, indeed, if her stomach did not turn over and her heart did not skip a beat. But she does not have hysterics on the pit counter. She does not run round the track to find out what happened. She <em>presumes</em> he is all right.&rdquo;</p> <p>Often though they didn&rsquo;t feel put upon, instead they were glad to have something to take their minds away from the stresses mentioned. &ldquo;It is useful both to the success of the team and the wife&rsquo;s nervous system,&rdquo; said Hayward of the task. &ldquo;For the watching woman, a race can be intolerable without work.&rdquo;</p> <p>Changed days. Sadly it seems the role of women in F1 over time has been an oscillation rather than an upwards trajectory. But still if you catch anyone suggesting that the traditional role of women in F1 is to be decorative, tell them to think again.</p> Hamilton won't do a 'Rosberg' and leave unexpectedly - Toto WolffThu, 21 Dec 2017 09:14:17 GMT<p>Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff says he&#39;s confident Lewis Hamilton won&#39;t copy Nico Rosberg and leave without notice, after the 2016 champion walked out of the team just days after winning his maiden title.</p> <p>At the time&nbsp;the move angered many within Mercedes, most notably Niki Lauda who said Rosberg had left the team looking &quot;stupid&quot; as they scrambled to secure a replacement at the last minute.</p> <p>Although Hamilton&#39;s contract ends next year and the Briton has been dropping hints that he may soon retire, negotiations to secure his services for another three seasons are underway which would keep Hamilton at the team until 2021.</p> <p>Whilst Hamilton, like Rosberg, would be free to walk away, Wolff is confident that won&#39;t happen as long as the team work to keep him happy and make sure he&#39;s enjoying what he&#39;s doing.</p> <p>&quot;I think Lewis is a free spirit,&quot; Wolff told <em>ESPN</em>. &quot;Lewis doesn&#39;t want to be put in a box with people saying, &#39;You need to behave like this and do this to be a racing driver&#39;.</p> <p>&quot;One of the key things for him is to be free and be able to decide what he wants to do. And in a certain way, keeping all the options open is something that takes pressure off of him.</p> <p>&quot;He could be doing something completely different in a year or two or three&#39;s time and I am aware of that, but equally I know he will protect the structure and not just say, &#39;I&#39;m out of here tomorrow&#39;. But this is part of his strength actually.&quot;</p> <p>Wolff confirmed contract talks were going well, with a new deal expected to be announced mid-2018.</p> <p>&quot;They have started already and we are on a good way. Let&#39;s see when the white smoke comes out of the chimney.&quot;</p> Brown rules out McLaren F1 title sponsor in 2018Thu, 21 Dec 2017 09:12:04 GMT<p>McLaren Executive Director Zak Brown has ruled out the team having a title sponsor in Formula 1 next season, though expects to have a collection of major sponsors.</p> <p>McLaren has had several long-term title sponsors throughout its history in the sport, including Marlboro, West and Vodafone.</p> <p>However, it has not featured a title sponsor since Vodafone&rsquo;s exit at the end of 2013, and Brown does not expect the situation to change in the future.</p> <p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think we&rsquo;re ever going to have a title sponsor per se,&rdquo; Brown said.</p> <p>&ldquo;What I think we&rsquo;ll have are major partners and if you look at Formula 1 no-one really refers to the name of the team as their title partner so I don&rsquo;t think there&rsquo;s a lot of value.</p> <p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re McLaren we&rsquo;re not &lsquo;ABC McLaren&rsquo;, so I think there&rsquo;s major branding but we&rsquo;re not trying to sell the title, we want to remain the name of the team &ndash; McLaren.</p> <p>&ldquo;In NASCAR the drivers are trained to get out of the car and say &lsquo;I&rsquo;d like to thank, you know, my Chandon Ford today&rsquo;, that doesn&rsquo;t happen in F1, I think we want to protect our brand.&rdquo;</p> <p>Brown also says he expects commercial partners to be interested in the space created by the introduction of the halo, though is wary of the other parts blocked by the device.</p> <p>&ldquo;The halo will create extra exposure on the car but will also probably restrict some of the visibility around the driver,&rdquo; Brown explained.</p> <p>&ldquo;The visor is a very valuable spot, that now maybe becomes the halo.</p> <p>&ldquo;It all depends on how they&rsquo;re going to address the camera angles and the in-car cameras, whether we can make up some of that visual impairment that I think is going to happen.&rdquo;</p> tightens free practice driver licence requirementsWed, 20 Dec 2017 20:26:41 GMT<p>The FIA has tightened the requirements for drivers to gain a free practice licence, ostensibly meaning fewer young drivers will be able to take part in Friday practice sessions at Grands Prix.</p> <p>Prior to the change, drivers wanting to participate in free practice without a superlicence were required to complete 300km (186 miles) in a &quot;representative F1 car&quot; and answer questions on the Sporting Regulations. If successful, a &#39;free practice&#39; licence would be issued, allowing the driver to take part in&nbsp;Friday sessions.</p> <p>From 2018 onwards, the FIA has amended those rules, with drivers now needing to have competed in six Formula 2 races or have accumulated 25 superlicence points in eligible championships during the previous three seasons, in addition to the aforementioned 300km of F1 running.</p> <p>Any subsequent participation in free practice sessions requires a driver to&nbsp;demonstrate they have completed a full season in F2 or amassed 25 superlicence points during a three-year period.</p> <p>In addition, the&nbsp;team concerned has to certify&nbsp;that they have held a briefing with their driver about the most important points of the rules, whilst the driver must be judged by the FIA to have consistently demonstrated outstanding ability in single-seater formula cars.</p> <p>If the new rules had been applied in 2017, only&nbsp;Alfonso Celis Jr would not have been able to run.</p> made 'giant strides' in 2017 F1 season - Sergio MarchionneWed, 20 Dec 2017 08:40:05 GMT<p>Ferrari made &ldquo;giant strides&rdquo; in the 2017 Formula 1 campaign, compared to its previous form, according to Chairman Sergio Marchionne.</p> <p>Ferrari endured a win-less 2016 season as it finished third in the standings but capitalised on revised regulations to emerge as a title contender this year.</p> <p>Sebastian Vettel claimed three victories from the opening six Grands Prix and led the standings for much of the season, before ultimately being overhauled by Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton.</p> <p>Marchionne, though, expressed optimism over Ferrari&rsquo;s year-on-year form, and says the squad is now stronger for tweaks made in response to 2017 setbacks.</p> <p>&ldquo;Given where we started from last year, this season we have taken giant strides forward,&rdquo; said Marchionne.</p> <p>&ldquo;Having said that, the second half of 2017 was&hellip;character building.</p> <p>&ldquo;We learned a lot over the past six months, trying to move forward and that&rsquo;s the most important thing.</p> <p>&ldquo;From back in August of last year, when we overhauled the organisation, I totally believed that these guys, with Maurizio Arrivabene as team principal and Mattia Binotto heading up the technical side, would be capable of doing something amazing.</p> <p>&ldquo;We really believed we could do much more: but in 2017, we were unable to reach our objectives.</p> <p>&ldquo;That has also resulted in some changes to the organisation of the Gestione Sportiva. We can already see significant signs of change when it comes to the team&rsquo;s production capacity.</p> <p>&ldquo;The important thing is to start 2018 with all this expertise and experience and to manage this organisation. I have no doubt that we will be competitive.&rdquo;</p> <p>Ferrari wound up second to Mercedes in the Constructors&rsquo; championship, with Vettel&rsquo;s five wins its highest victory tally since 2010.</p> place this year feels better than last year - Force IndiaTue, 19 Dec 2017 15:51:23 GMT<p>Force India&#39;s chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer says finishing fourth in the Formula 1 standings this year feels better than the same achievement last season, due to the manner of the accomplishment.</p> <p>The Silverstone-based team racked up 187 points, out-scoring nearest rival Williams by 104 points, compared to 35 points in 2016, after scoring in all but one race in 2017.</p> <p>That dominance over the other midfield teams left Force India in its own class behind the frontrunners and, given its small budget and the major regulation changes, left&nbsp;Szafnauer in praise of the operation.</p> <p>&quot;To deliver fourth place in the Constructors&rsquo; Championship two years on the bounce is a huge achievement,&quot; said&nbsp;Szafnauer.&nbsp;&quot;We can feel very proud of our performance this year.&quot;</p> <p>When asked if that achievement felt better this year than in 2016, he replied: &quot;In some ways yes, because the challenges over the winter were far greater delivering a car that had very little carry over from 2016.</p> <p>&quot;Changes to the regulations are always difficult, but we were able to consolidate our position and even strengthen it. We secured fourth place in the championship this year with two races in hand and ended the season with over 100 points advantage to fifth place.&quot;</p> <p>That success has been the culmination of many years of hard work, investment and strong leadership.</p> <p>&quot;It&rsquo;s been a long journey and it&rsquo;s actually taken us ten years to get to this level,&quot; Szafnauer&nbsp;added.&nbsp;&quot;There are no quick fixes in this sport and we&rsquo;ve gradually put the right ingredients in place to achieve the results we have today.</p> <p>&quot;We continue to invest in the right people and the engineering core, led by Andrew Green, has remained consistent for a number of years with a real harmony in the way we approach things.</p> <p>&quot;We&rsquo;ve also taken sensible strategic decisions, such as our choice of wind tunnel and engine partner and the way we chose drivers who are the best fit for this team.</p> <p>&quot;The backing of new sponsors, including BWT, has been essential in helping us take those final steps and deliver the high development rate.&quot;</p> <p>Force India has retained Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon for 2018.</p> Marchionne expects calmer Sebastian Vettel in 2018Tue, 19 Dec 2017 08:27:18 GMT<p>Ferrari Chairman Sergio Marchionne says he expects Sebastian Vettel to emerge as a &ldquo;less emotive&rdquo; force in 2018, having learned from the setbacks of 2017.</p> <p>Vettel took three victories from the opening six events in 2017 to open a 25-point advantage in the standings, but was reeled in as Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton hit form.</p> <p>Vettel&rsquo;s prospects were undone by his actions in Azerbaijan &ndash; when he received a penalty for swiping Hamilton as they prepared for a restart &ndash; and in Singapore, when he was caught up in the start clash.</p> <p>Vettel&rsquo;s bid was then all but ended by reliability setbacks in Malaysia and Japan, but Marchionne expects the German to emerge stronger heading into the 2018 campaign.</p> <p>&ldquo;Sebastian is a guy who studies a lot, studies himself and is committed, therefore, I think that we will see less of his emotive side,&rdquo; said Marchionne at Ferrari&rsquo;s traditional Christmas lunch.</p> <p>&ldquo;I think he has learned enough. Plus, there were plenty of opportunities for him to get annoyed, as he&rsquo;s had a couple of rather difficult seasons, this year and the previous one.</p> <p>&ldquo;I continue to maintain we have an obligation towards these drivers, to give them a car with which they can race the others.</p> <p>&ldquo;I think we gave them a great car in 2017 and so, from now on, it&rsquo;s down to him.&rdquo;</p> <p>Marchionne also backed Kimi R&auml;ikk&ouml;nen, despite Finn finishing over 100 points down on Vettel, without taking a victory, pointing to his pole position lap around the streets of Monaco.</p> <p>&ldquo;As for Kimi, I believe he is really great, truly talented and I have never doubted his abilities,&rdquo; emphasised Marchionne.</p> <p>&ldquo;I tell you, he&rsquo;s a really top guy, otherwise he wouldn&rsquo;t have taken pole at a track like Monaco.</p> <p>&ldquo;I think Maurizio [Arrivabene] has done a great job with the drivers and that&rsquo;s not an easy task.&rdquo;</p> the first team to confirm its 2018 launch dateMon, 18 Dec 2017 16:41:45 GMT<p>Ferrari has become the first team to confirm&nbsp;the date it will launch its 2018 car, which will take place on February 22 at its Maranello base.</p> <p>The team will likely follow a similar schedule to previous seasons by launching online before carrying out a shakedown, or filming day, on the 23rd, before the car is shipped to Barcelona for the first day of pre-season testing on Monday 26.</p> <p>The launch date was confirmed by Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne during the Italian manufacturer&#39;s traditional annual Christmas lunch event.</p> <p>During the 2017 campaign, Ferrari closed in on Mercedes to emerge as their nearest rival, but fell short of the both titles with Sebastian Vettel scoring five victories to finish runner-up to Lewis Hamilton.</p> <p>It marked Ferrari&#39;s best season since the introduction of the new V6-Hybrid power units and it will be hoping to make further progress over the winter to counter the late development charge made by&nbsp;Red Bull, which emerged as Ferrari&#39;s nearest rival in the latter races as Mercedes streaked clear.</p>'s Christmas time, and there's no need to be afraid...Mon, 18 Dec 2017 16:29:43 GMT<p><b>At this time of year, whether you are out shopping or stuck in elevators, you are constantly reminded by Paul Young that &quot;it&#39;s Christmas time, and there&#39;s no need to be afraid...&quot;</b></p> <p>It&#39;s time to let it all go. Relax, deck the halls with boughs of holly, drink a little, damage relations with Europe even more and then eat turkey; snore on couches, watch bad movies and do all those things that one avoids for the rest of the year, such as eating Brussel sprouts and mince pies, and then playing charades and board games with the family.</p> <p>And thank goodness for that...</p> <p>But on to more serious matters that I am afraid of (Paul Young notwithstanding), as are many other journalists and photographers who also earn their living reporting on motorsport to fans the world over. The whole basis of reporting events and delivering the latest motorsport news week in, week out is that we can always read a variety of reports and many different opinions whenever we go online or open a magazine.</p> <p>Or can we...?</p> <p>Over the last year, a single US based motorsport website has set about acquiring as many media companies, titles and websites as possible, including such venerable names as Autosport magazine, F1 Racing,, Motors TV,,, Sutton Images and most recently the widely respected Dutch website! This latest acquisition took the market by surprise prompting some of the more humorous hacks in the paddock to ask their Twitter followers to raise their hands if they hadn&rsquo;t yet been bought out by the said company&hellip;</p> <p>So why am I, and some of my colleagues in the F1 paddock being so critical of this practice; is it sour grapes that we haven&rsquo;t cashed in on the latest money train? No, most certainly not! We are proud to be independent which allows us to be fair minded and deliver our readers unbiased impartial reporting without being beholden to anything but the truth!</p> <p>Can a company that owns so many titles and now has tentacles within the ownership of some of the FIA&rsquo;s premier series around the world plus having its chairman also performing the role of team boss for one of the grid&rsquo;s leading Formula 1 teams ever present an unbiased view to the fans? No, I don&rsquo;t believe they can and, as part of a constantly shrinking group of independents, we now face a bleak future of receiving news second hand, as relationships within their circle now favour their own outlets to break news stories and contrived scoops!</p> <p>So where will it all end? I really don&rsquo;t know but sadly there will come a time where this company will just be too many people doing the same job which will inevitably result in many fine and respected journalists being let go as it will no longer be economical to employ them and that will be a very sad day for our profession. Some will hopefully join what&rsquo;s left of the independent media companies but most will be lost to motorsport reporting for good and that&rsquo;s where the fans will lose out too. Not being able to access their favourite columns now written en mass for multiple titles with a word or two changed here and there is a poor substitute for journalism!</p> <p>As we come to the end of the year and <b><i>Motorsport Monday</i></b> approaches its fifth birthday in February, we can look back with pride to show the industry how we have thrived by presenting an independent viewpoint each and every week. We now have three healthy editions of the magazine in the US, the USA, and South Africa with two more editions well advanced in the planning stages. We reach nearly 200,000 readers on a busy week and now also have a dynamic 24/7 manned motorsport website <b><i></i></b> to provide fans with up-to-date motorsport news between publications.</p> <p>What I can say is that we will stay proudly independent and for this I can but only thank our brilliant team of journalists and photographers, some of who are regarded as the best in their fields. Thank you Joe, James, Jerry, David, Victoria, Ryan, Phillip, Amanda, Nick, Andy, Graham, Russell, Bonny, Nadia, Daniel and Chris for all your brilliant words, photos and design this year. Thank you too, to Luke and Jack who were part of our little team and have moved on to prestigious positions in the pursuit of furthering their already successful writing careers. &nbsp;</p> <p>In closing, may I wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas and a truly Happy New Year.</p> <p>Graham Harris<br /> Motorsport Monday<br /> F1 Editor-in-Chief</p> <p><strong><em>This was originally posted in issue 246 of Motorsport Monday. <a href="">Click here to read the full magazine, for free!</a></em></strong></p> Sainz Jr. learning from Nico Hulkenberg experienceMon, 18 Dec 2017 11:54:51 GMT<p>Carlos Sainz Jr. says he has been able to learn from Nico H&uuml;lkenberg&rsquo;s greater experience in Formula 1, and expects to form a competitive partnership with the German at Renault in 2018.</p> <p>Sainz Jr. was paired with fellow rookie Max Verstappen at Toro Rosso in 2015, before linking up with Daniil Kvyat from mid-2016, the Russian having debuted one year earlier.</p> <p>Conversely, H&uuml;lkenberg has started 135 Grands Prix for Williams, Force India, Sauber and Renault, a disparity of experience which Sainz Jr. feels is beneficial for his own development.</p> <p>&ldquo;[It&rsquo;s] interesting, especially already I&rsquo;ve felt differences,&rdquo; said Sainz Jr., referring to his four-race 2017 spell with Renault.</p> <p>&ldquo;I have seen how Nico works, and everything is going to help for sure.</p> <p>&ldquo;To be up against a guy that has been in Formula 1 for seven or eight years, and has really settled nicely into a team like Nico has over the last year, there&rsquo;s only things to learn and look out for.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m sure we can push each other hard and that&rsquo;s only going to bring the team forward as I think also Nico welcomes the challenge of having me next to him.</p> <p>&ldquo;Already in feedback we have a lot of similarities and that&rsquo;s going to help everyone.&rdquo;</p> <p>Sainz Jr.&rsquo;s move to Renault brought down the curtain on a near three-year spell with Toro Rosso, which brought 26 points finishes from 56 events, peaking with fourth in Singapore this year.</p> <p>When asked what he would miss about Toro Rosso, Sainz Jr. said: &ldquo;There&rsquo;s always the human side, I&rsquo;ve got a lot of PR people, engineers that I had, that I build up a strong relationship with.</p> <p>&ldquo;Obviously you miss those people but they are next door [in the paddock] and I can obviously see them!&rdquo;</p> 246 of Motorsport Monday is out now - Merry ChristmasMon, 18 Dec 2017 11:14:53 GMT<p><strong>Issue 246&nbsp;of our free weekly magazine, Motorsport Monday, is online now and packed full of great content&nbsp;&ndash;&nbsp;<a href="">click here</a>&nbsp;or the&nbsp;link below to start reading.</strong></p> <p>That&#39;s a wrap! Enjoy our final magazine of 2017 where you&#39;ll find Joe Saward&#39;s take on the Formula 1 season just gone, plus Andy Young completes his IndyCar season review with our Top 10 drivers of the year. Then Daniel Lloyd picks his way through the IMSA WeatherTech and the FIA&#39;s World Endurance Championships with their attendant Top 10 drivers too. Some interesting names on the lists...</p> <p>We also have a special treat as US Editor Amanda Vincent tells readers the story of 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Champion Martin Truex Jr while Jerry Williams closes the rally year with some concern that FIA rally boss Jarmo Mahonen is trying to fiddle with the fundamentals of the WRC, and he is not very happy about it! &nbsp;</p> <p>Phillip Horton wraps up the year by reviewing the ultra close DTM Series that&#39;s champion wasn&#39;t known until the chequered flag fell at the final race of the season. Plus we have all our regular news, views and opinion on what happened during the past seven days in global motorsport.</p> <p>Last of all, everyone at Motorsport Monday wishes you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We&#39;ll see you in 2018!</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" height="127" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Magazine/click-to-read.png" width="800" /></a></p> On the sofa with Daniel Ricciardo and Max VerstappenSun, 17 Dec 2017 12:26:36 GMT<p>Max and Daniel get comfy on the sofa to review the season that was, 2017.</p> No doubts over Renault paritySun, 17 Dec 2017 11:17:27 GMT<p>McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier has emphasised that the team has no doubts that it will have engine parity with Renault&rsquo;s factory team in Formula 1 next season.</p> <p>McLaren, following two decades with Mercedes, reunited with Honda in 2015, but the partnership was dogged by a lack of reliability and performance, accentuated by the marque&rsquo;s move to a revised concept in 2017.</p> <p>McLaren&rsquo;s patience ran out and the company opted to split with Honda, instead signing a three-year deal to be supplied by Renault, in a straight swap with Toro Rosso.</p> <p>Renault will consequently supply its own team, which finished sixth in the 2017 standings, Red Bull and McLaren, but Boullier insists he has no worries over one operation being favoured.</p> <p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s quite clear in our contract with them,&rdquo; Boullier said when the notion of engine parity was raised.</p> <p>&ldquo;We have to do a better job than any Renault engine team.</p> <p>&ldquo;The parity is the same for everybody and it&rsquo;s very clear in our contract with Renault.</p> <p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think Renault has any interest to have no parity in the parts.&rdquo;</p> <p>Boullier also underlined that McLaren was able to improve through 2017, despite finishing only ninth in the standings, amassing a mere 30 points in the process.</p> <p>&ldquo;You have the visible part of the iceberg which is the track performance, where actually we have improved in the year,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;Behind the scenes it has been a good year in terms of car development, in terms of strengthening the organisation, let&rsquo;s call it the new McLaren &ndash; even though it&rsquo;s three years old &ndash; the organisation is getting stronger.</p> <p>&ldquo;We have started as well to put some focus on some areas a bit left aside in the past as the performance was the priority, like pit stops for example.</p> <p>&ldquo;We spent time this year to improve equipment, change the training method, so that starts to pay off.</p> <p>&ldquo;So we are finishing fine-tuning the organisation and to see the car performing at some tracks [shows] the chassis is competitive, is the best for the team.&rdquo;</p> Dennis would have dropped Honda too - Zak BrownSat, 16 Dec 2017 16:32:33 GMT<p>McLaren boss Zak Brown, who took over from Ron Dennis at the end of the 2016 season, believes his predecessor would have dropped Honda after a third year of dismal results.</p> <p>Brown made the decision to drop Honda in favour of Renault for 2018 after a third consecutive season of reliability and performance setbacks, and believes Dennis would have done the same after failing to see the Japanese manufacturer get on top of its troubles.</p> <p>&quot;I think he would have,&quot; Brown told&nbsp;<em>Sky Sports F1</em> when asked if Dennis would also have abandoned the Honda project.&nbsp;&quot;It burns him inside as much as us not to see us winning races.</p> <p>&quot;He was here when those conversations were ongoing and I think Ron always has and always will have the best interests of McLaren in his heart, he is Mr McLaren.&quot;</p> <p>The decision to switch, although announced in September, was put into plan before the season had already begun after McLaren knew it wouldn&#39;t be on the pace following pre-season testing.</p> <p>&quot;We knew we were in trouble in testing in Barcelona and we worked really hard for six months to try and find solutions that would give us confidence that we&#39;d be much more competitive in 2018,&quot; added Brown.</p> <p>&quot;Ultimately, after trying many different things and many different ways we felt we couldn&#39;t get there. Three years is a long time in Formula 1 and so we needed to change the direction to get our team back at the top.&quot;</p> Perez: Pressure will be on Esteban Ocon in 2018Sat, 16 Dec 2017 11:08:04 GMT<p>Sergio P&eacute;rez says the focus and pressure will be on Force India team-mate Esteban Ocon in 2018, the Frenchman&rsquo;s second full season in the sport, in the wake of his impressive 2017 campaign.</p> <p>Mercedes-backed Ocon graduated to Formula 1 with Manor mid-2016, following previous tests with Renault/Lotus, and captured a move to Force India for 2017, amid Nico H&uuml;lkenberg&rsquo;s departure.</p> <p>Ocon emerged as a close match for P&eacute;rez through 2017, with the pair scoring the same amount of points from the Spanish Grand Prix onwards, despite a spate of mid-season clashes and tension.</p> <p>&ldquo;I certainly rate Esteban, I think he has a lot of talent, a lot of experience, he came to Formula 1 very well prepared,&rdquo; said P&eacute;rez.</p> <p>&ldquo;Since the first test he did with the team [in 2015] he was already quite mature, with a lot of knowledge behind him, he was straight away on the pace.</p> <p>&ldquo;He definitely did a really good job, there&rsquo;s no secret that he&rsquo;s a very good driver, and one of the drivers for the future, so I think it was a good challenge during the year.</p> <p>&ldquo;I think the pressure will be on him now as it&rsquo;s a second year for him, everyone will expect big things from him, it will be again very close I think.&rdquo;</p> <p>When P&eacute;rez&rsquo;s comments were put to Ocon, the 21-year-old played down such suggestions.</p> <p>&ldquo;I feel alright, if everyone is watching me for that it means people are expecting me to do well next year so that&rsquo;s always positive,&rdquo; Ocon said.</p> <p>&ldquo;But no, I don&rsquo;t have more pressure, I will work the same way with the team, I&rsquo;m very dedicated to it, will train the same way, not going to change much except that I&rsquo;m for sure a different driver now than I was at the beginning of the year.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve been learning so much more, that will help me at the beginning of the year, also I know the tracks, I know Australia, China, Monaco, that will help me as well.&rdquo;</p> Marko has 'no idea' what happened to Daniil Kvyat's speedSat, 16 Dec 2017 10:57:55 GMT<p>Red Bull&#39;s&nbsp;Helmut Marko says he has &quot;no idea&quot; what happened to Daniil Kvyat and why the Russian driver lost his natural speed, resulting in him being dropped by the Red Bull brand altogether.</p> <p>Kvyat was promoted from Toro Rosso to Red Bull in 2015 where he outscored Daniel Ricciardo in his debut season with the team, but the following year he was demoted back to the junior outfit as a result of several first-lap incidents, with Max Verstappen taking up his Red Bull seat.</p> <p>Kvyat continued to struggle and ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix he was dropped from Toro Rosso, only making a one-off return in Austin to stand-in for Pierre Gasly, who had other commitments. Following that race, Kvyat was dumped by the Red Bull driver programme.</p> <p>Marko believes the problems experienced by Kvyat were psychological but has no explanation as to why it happened or why they couldn&#39;t be overcome.</p> <p>&quot;Unfortunately he just showed it [natural speed]&nbsp;in his first year with Toro Rosso and in his first year with Red Bull Racing. After that his performance drastically went down.</p> <p>&quot;In short, something happened to him mentally. He lost his speed. We don&#39;t know [why],&quot; explained the Austrian. &quot;We tried many things, but his speed just wouldn&#39;t come back. Unfortunately we have no idea what happened.</p> <p>&quot;There were also too many accidents at the start of a race, and he didn&#39;t react too well to it either. He retreated into his shell and didn&#39;t want anybody to tell him what to do.&quot;</p> <p>Kvyat&#39;s former boss Franz Tost believes a short break from racing will serve him well and rejuvinate the 23-year-old, allowing him to make a comeback.</p> <p>&quot;I hope for him that he gets another chance, as I think he deserves to be in F1. Maybe a short break &ndash; to get organised again &ndash; and probably we will see Daniil back at his usual performance level with another team.&quot;</p> Stroll lifted by reaction to 2017 'adversity'Fri, 15 Dec 2017 13:33:04 GMT<p>Lance Stroll says he has been boosted by his and Williams&rsquo; response to low points through the course of his rookie season, having been braced for setbacks.</p> <p>Stroll endured a tricky pre-season phase and retired from the opening three events of the campaign, before going on to capture a podium finish in Azerbaijan and a front-row start in Italy.</p> <p>Stroll ultimately finished 12th in the Drivers&rsquo; Championship, with 40 points, and expressed encouragement over the trajectory of his first season in Formula 1.</p> <p>&ldquo;It was pretty tough&hellip; not finishing the first three races regardless of whether it was my fault or mechanical failure or whatever,&rdquo; said Stroll.</p> <p>&ldquo;Just the fact I didn&rsquo;t get to finish a Grand Prix, and then I had a tough time in winter testing, but that was kind of all expected as well.</p> <p>&ldquo;I knew I was going to face adversity at some stage in my first year and it hit me quite early in the year but I tried to stay level headed and not let it get to me.</p> <p>&ldquo;I think that&rsquo;s what we did best as a group of people, my entourage of engineers and people who work with me always believed in me and I listened to them and we bounced back from that.</p> <p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s what matters: we did bounce back from that and we made it become a great season, and I look back at the season overall and I&rsquo;m extremely happy with how it went.&rdquo;</p> <p>When asked where he felt he could improve, Stroll said: &ldquo;I think everything, just coming back to the circuits every time for the second time will be a big advantage.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m going to work on my qualifying over the winter; a lot of that will help by coming back to a circuit for a second time due to the limited running we get in free practice with the limited tyres and fuel levels and modes and all that.</p> <p>&ldquo;But I would say there&rsquo;s areas to improve&hellip; on everything; just more experience, more knowledge, having time to reflect over the winter will be good.&rdquo;</p>