Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • John Elkann says more changes coming at Ferrari
    John Elkann says more changes coming at Ferrari

    More Ferrari changes 'in coming months'

  • Mercedes 'blocked' next Ocon move – Villeneuve
  • Buemi continues with Red Bull
  • McLaren is finding it hard to attract sponsorship for the 2019 season
  • Sparco becomes Official Partner of the Alfa Romeo Sauber

More Ferrari changes 'in coming months'

(GMM) More changes at Ferrari could be looming in "the coming months".

That is the claim of John Elkann, who took over at the Maranello marque in the wake of Sergio Marchionne's shock death last year.

His first major act was to oust team boss Maurizio Arrivabene, reportedly in order to ensure that his successor, technical boss Mattia Binotto, stays.

"I have been dealing directly with Ferrari for a few months only," Elkann said at the Detroit auto show. "There was the need to strengthen the organizational structure of the team."

He described Binotto as a "figure with unquestionable technical competence".

It is suggested that Binotto will not ultimately keep both the team boss and technical director roles.

Former Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali, now the CEO of Lamborghini, has been linked with a return to Maranello.

So, too, has the young driver Mick Schumacher.

When asked about those rumors, Elkann said: "I cannot anticipate decisions that will be taken within the Scuderia in the coming months.

"We will talk about it at the right time," he is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"We want to build a future worthy of our winning past," Elkann added. "We want to win the world championship as soon as possible — we have been losing too much time."

Mercedes 'blocked' next Ocon move – Villeneuve

Ocon and teammate Perez collided almost every race. Mercedes would fire Ocon the first time he takes out Hamilton
Ocon and teammate Perez collided almost every race. Mercedes would fire Ocon the first time he takes out Hamilton

(GMM) His links to Mercedes are both a blessing and a curse for Esteban Ocon.

That is the claim of 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve, referring to Frenchman Ocon whose F1 race career has been halted.

Ocon has been replaced at Force India by Lance Stroll, the son of the team's new billionaire owner.

Ocon, 22, continues to be supported by Mercedes. When it became clear he would not have a seat for 2019, Toto Wolff hit out at the "politics" and "lies" at other teams.

But Villeneuve said it is the Mercedes link that ultimately hurt Ocon.

"Esteban Ocon is in F1 thanks to Mercedes," he told RMC. "At the same time, it was the fact of being with Mercedes that blocked him from going elsewhere.

"He has already been fortunate enough to be in formula one for a few years without having brought in the budget himself, which is amazing.

"He should be proud of it rather than it being a negative," Villeneuve added.

Villeneuve, 47, was speaking as he launched a funding program for young racing drivers.

"I have the impression today that the financial contribution is more important than talent," he told Le Journal de Montreal.

"I've been in the paddocks for a number of years now and I see how it's going and I've really taken notice, perhaps because I have kids too.

"Often, parents come to me and ask 'What should I do to help my son?' and my first response now is 'Tell him to do something else'.

"It's an awful answer but I'm not able to lie," Villeneuve added.

Buemi continues with Red Bull

Sebastien Buemi
Sebastien Buemi

Red Bull has confirmed that Sebastien Buemi will continue to be its reserve driver, his ninth year as a member of the Austrian squad.

A product of the Red Bull Junior Team, Buemi's first stint as a Red Bull test driver came in 2008, a year in which he also raced in GP2, finishing runner-up in the Asia series and sixth overall in the main series, with wins in France and Hungary.

The lessons learned earned him an F1 drive with Toro Rosso for 2009 and at the season-opener he became the first Swiss driver to contest a grand prix since Jean-Denis Deletraz at the 1995 European Grand Prix.

Buemi's time at Toro Rosso came to an end at the close of the 2011 season, but with 55 grands prix under his belt and a wealth of F1 experience at his disposal, the decision to move him to Red Bull in a test and reserve capacity for 2012 was straightforward.

In the years since, he has enjoyed a hugely successful parallel career in other categories. He made his WEC debut with Toyota at the 2012 Le Mans 24-Hour race and in 2014 he and team-mate Anthony Davidson won the WEC title with the Japanese marque.

McLaren is finding it hard to attract sponsorship for the 2019 season

When you're a backmarker sponsors are not interested
When you're a backmarker sponsors are not interested

Recent poor performance has led to a lack of interest which is strange considering the history of the team.

When speaking about the sponsorship issue Zak Brown said “It’s as hard as it’s ever been," when speaking to

"Corperations are a bit nervous to invest long term because they are not quite sure if something happens over here what does that mean. It does put everything into a bit of a slowdown and holding pattern."

Despite the issue, McLaren was successful in signing some sponsors last year.

"We were fortunate to bring on about five new partners last year, and we’ll announce another at least two this month that we’ve signed so we are making good progress," he said. “It certainly hasn’t come to a stop but it’s slowed things down and some of the craziness that’s going on around the world doesn’t help."

Many teams based in the UK are worried about the potential impacts of Brexit and perhaps this sponsorship hesitation could be due to this as well.

Sparco becomes Official Partner of the Alfa Romeo Sauber

Alfa Romeo Saber at Monza
Alfa Romeo Saber at Monza

The Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team is delighted to announce that Sparco has become an Official Partner of the team.

Sparco was founded in 1977 and ever since has been producing some of the most advanced motorsport equipment and accessories for various series in the racing industry. The Italian company will supply the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team drivers and the pit crew with safety gear and equipment, also providing the safety belts which will be integrated into the team’s single-seaters starting from the 2019 Formula One season.

The Sparco logo will be featured on the sidepod floor of both cars.

Frederic Vasseur, CEO Sauber Motorsport and Team Principal Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team:
“We are pleased to announce our partnership with Sparco as a new Official Partner. Sparco has been setting standards in the design and production of equipment and accessories in motorsport for decades. By supplying our drivers and pit crew with their products, together we will ensure that our team is provided with items that will meet the highest demands in terms of safety and comfort as we fight for ambitious results in the championship. We look forward to the collaboration."

Claudio Pastoris, CEO Sparco:
“We are proud of this new partnership based on two assets of great importance for the company I represent – our experience in motorsports, more than 40 years serving the most competitive teams and drivers in Formula One; and our long-term relationship with Alfa Romeo and the FCA Group, putting us in the front lines of production of OEM seats and accessories for the brand’s highest performing vehicles. Being able to contribute to safety in the development of the new single-seater and outfit two great racing drivers like Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi is an honor and a great responsibility for us."

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