Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Ecclestone made F1 what it is today
    Ecclestone made F1 what it is today

    Ecclestone to exit as FIA approves F1 buyout

  • McLaren hints at 2017 livery change
  • Surer unsure Bottas can challenge Hamilton
  • Piero Ferrari eyes 'three wins' in 2017
  • F1 teams back away from buying shares – report
  • Stroll happy Massa replacing Bottas
  • GP2 champion Gasly heads to Japan
  • Family should tell truth about Schumacher – Weber
  • Klien starts military service in Austria
  • Mercedes seat 'too early' for Wehrlein – Wolff
  • Giovinazzi won't stagnate in Ferrari role – Wolff
  • Magnussen 'disappointed' with Renault criticism
  • Tickets for the 2017 FORMULA 1 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX on sale

Ecclestone to exit as FIA approves F1 buyout
(GMM) The final hurdle has been cleared as Liberty Media races towards completing its takeover of formula one.

Earlier this week, shareholders of the US media tycoon John Malone's company approved the buyout, saying the last hurdle would be the FIA's green light.

That was achieved on Wednesday, during an extraordinary meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Geneva.

The FIA, which will retain its controversial 1pc ownership share, said it believes Liberty "is clearly well positioned to ensure the continued development of its pinnacle championship".

The future of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, however, is less clear.

As Wednesday's news broke, the Telegraph reported that 86-year-old Ecclestone will be "eased aside" in the new Liberty era.

The newspaper said Ecclestone wanted to keep his role for up to three more years, "but so far all Liberty's rhetoric has been about making a clean break with the past".

McLaren hints at 2017 livery change

McLaren Invite
McLaren Invite

(GMM) McLaren executive Zak Brown has confirmed reports the British team might be set for a livery change in 2017.

With supremo Ron Dennis now ousted, speculation suggests the Honda-powered marque might return to its roots and switch to its traditional orange this year.

"We have been showing the McLaren guys and girls and we are very excited," Brown is quoted by Spain's El Confidencial.

"I think the fans will be happy to see how the car will look, both technically and aesthetically," he added.

It also appears that good sponsorship news is on the horizon, with a photo on Twitter of Stoffel Vandoorne wearing a Castrol-logoed grey team t-shirt having emerged.

It comes as McLaren loses its long-time oil sponsor Mobil to Red Bull.

Finally, Brown said McLaren is determined to keep its top driver Fernando Alonso on board beyond 2017, with talks about a new contract to be discussed this year.

"We would like to keep Fernando, of course," the American is quoted by Auto Bild.

But Brown also admitted that it will be an "exciting" year on the driver market, with Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari deal also set to run out.

"He is also without a contract for next year, so it will be an exciting year on the market," he said.

Surer unsure Bottas can challenge Hamilton
(GMM) Former F1 driver Marc Surer hopes Valtteri Bottas is up to the task of taking on triple world champion Lewis Hamilton in 2017.

Some, like the now German-language commentator Surer, fear that with Nico Rosberg having retired as champion, Finn Bottas might not be fast enough to challenge Hamilton at the dominant Mercedes team.

"For me, Bottas in no high flier, but simply a good racing driver," Swiss Surer told the German broadcaster Sky.

"Now, unlike his former teammate Felipe Massa whose best days were behind him, he has Lewis Hamilton. So we're really going to see what he's made of.

Someone had better tell Piero Ferrari that he needs to hire Aldo Costa back or he can forget about winning

"Lewis can drop the ball a little bit if it becomes too easy, but if that doesn't happen then I can't really see Bottas endangering him," Surer added.

Piero Ferrari eyes 'three wins' in 2017

(GMM) Piero Ferrari would like to see the F1 team that bears his famous surname win at least three races in 2017.

The great Maranello marque failed to win a single grand prix last year.

So for 2017, team shareholder and founder Enzo Ferrari's only living son told the blog of Leo Turrini: "I would like to see at least three wins, without placing limits on providence."

Stroll happy Massa replacing Bottas

On Massa ride-buyer Lance Stroll will have less competition
On Massa ride-buyer Lance Stroll will have less competition

(GMM) 2017 rookie Lance Stroll says he is happy that Felipe Massa will be his teammate this year.

Earlier, the 18-year-old Canadian was set to be paired with Valtteri Bottas at Williams, but the Finn has switched to Mercedes.

"I'm sure many fans are happy to see Felipe return," Stroll told Le Journal de Montreal newspaper.

"We have been cooperating for a long time — ever since I become a Williams development driver."

Indeed, it is believed that when Bottas was negotiating to leave Williams, Stroll's influential billionaire Lawrence intervened to ensure Massa would replace him.

"It's the perfect solution," Lance Stroll said. "He is the perfect replacement for Valtteri.

"But for me, his return to the team doesn't change anything — I still have to cope with the same challenges as before."

GP2 champion Gasly heads to Japan

Pierre Gasly
Pierre Gasly

(GMM) Reigning GP2 champion will keep his skills sharp this year in Japan's top tier of open wheel racing.

Just like his GP2 champion predecessor Stoffel Vandoorne last year, it has emerged that Frenchman Gasly, 20, will race in the Super Formula series in 2017.

Red Bull junior Gasly had hoped to move into F1 this year with Toro Rosso, and now says of his forthcoming Japanese foray: "It's all going to be very different.

"I have no experience with the car or the tracks and I know that the Japanese culture, philosophy, way of working, just about everything is different.

"It's a fantastic new challenge and I love that," Gasly added.

Days ago, Red Bull mogul Dietrich Mateschitz told the Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten that he has confidence in his energy drink company's full F1 lineup.

"Pierre Gasly will work as a junior substitute driver and do a lot in the simulator," said the billionaire.

Family should tell truth about Schumacher – Weber

Willi Weber (L) and Schumacher in 2007
Willi Weber (L) and Schumacher in 2007

(GMM) Michael Schumacher's former long-time manager has criticized the F1 legend's family.

Willi Weber, who guided Schumacher's ultra-successful career from the junior categories and onto titles with Benetton and Ferrari, thinks the German's family and management is wrong to have shut out the world in the wake of his 2013 skiing crash and injuries.

"For some time now, I've been saying that the Schumacher family is not telling the whole truth," Weber told the German weekly magazine Bunte.

"It's time to pour pure wine for his millions of fans," he added, referring to the fact that almost nothing is known about 48-year-old Schumacher's current health status.

"But I'm biting on granite, because for a long time my advice is no longer heard," Weber said.

But he said he remains hopeful that he will again talk to his old friend someday.

"When I'm home alone and the phone rings, I often feel that it will be Michael saying 'Willi, how's it going?' Hope dies last," said Weber.

Klien starts military service in Austria

Christian Klien
Christian Klien

(GMM) Former F1 driver Christian Klien is starting his year by finally completing his compulsory military service in his native Austria.

Now 33, it is over a decade ago that the former Jaguar, Red Bull and HRT driver began his F1 career by deferring his service, which is compulsory in Austria.

"I was just about to come into F1 with Jaguar, but the army was really cooperative about it," Klien, now a GT3 driver and F1 pundit, told Speed Week.

"Now I am fulfilling my obligation, even though I have lived abroad for ten years," he said.

"Even my friend Kimi Raikkonen had to do his service in Finland, and obviously it didn't hurt him," Klien smiled.

On F1 matters, Klien said he is looking forward to being in the paddock for Austrian television in 2017, and seeing how the drivers fare with the quicker cars.

"For sure 2017 will be physically harder for everyone because of the wider tires and the new aerodynamics," he said.

"Maybe they'll have to work as hard as we did in the mid-2000s. No matter who you ask – Alonso, Webber – they all say they were physically at the limit. For me this was normal. I knew nothing else," added Klien.

Mercedes seat 'too early' for Wehrlein – Wolff

Pascal Wehrlein not ready says Wolff
Pascal Wehrlein not ready says Wolff

(GMM) Mercedes steered away from signing Pascal Wehrlein for 2017 because it would have been "too early" for the young German.

That is the claim of team boss Toto Wolff, as he spoke to Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport about having signed Williams' Valtteri Bottas instead.

Asked if he was already thinking of Bottas' name when Nico Rosberg announced his shock retirement, Wolff said: "No.

"First of all, it was necessary to evaluate all the options on the driver market. We needed an experienced and fast driver."

Asked why that was not Wehrlein, the 22-year-old cream of Mercedes' development program, Wolff said: "We decided that it was too early for him to become Lewis' teammate.

"For Pascal and Esteban Ocon we have our own program, designed for two or three years."

For 2017, Wehrlein is instead heading to Sauber, a Ferrari-powered team.

Asked if this means Sauber could switch to Mercedes power for 2018, Wolff answered: "No, the contracts with the drivers are in no way connected with the engines.

"We respect the partnership between Sauber and Ferrari," he insisted.

What Wolff would admit is that getting Bottas out of his Williams contract, involving pulling Felipe Massa out of retirement to replace the Finn, cost Mercedes money.

"We could not make them an offer without offering anything in return," he said.

"Claire Williams is a smart businesswoman. But we talked not only about financial matters. Williams also needed an experienced driver and Felipe had to be persuaded to return. But in the end everyone is happy," added Wolff.

Asked if Mercedes is paying for Massa's return, he confirmed: "Yes, obviously."

But Wolff said his focus is now on getting Bottas up to speed, as after that process "We expect that he will be able to drive at the level of Nico Rosberg".

"We need him and Lewis to motivate each other and get the atmosphere that provoked the performances of Nico and Lewis," said Wolff.

Asked if Hamilton-Bottas could be as good as Hamilton-Rosberg but without the conflict, Wolff answered: "I hope so."

As for the controversy about Bottas' mere one-year contract at Mercedes, Wolff played that down.

"If Valtteri fights for the world championship in 2017, or if he becomes world champion, then he will stay with Mercedes," he is quoted by Bild newspaper.

Giovinazzi won't stagnate in Ferrari role – Wolff

Ferrari has no junior team for Antonio Giovinazzi but could place him with the Haas team like they did Guttierez
Ferrari has no room for Antonio Giovinazzi but could place him with the Haas team like they did Gutierrez

(GMM) Toto Wolff has played down fears the career of new Ferrari reserve Antonio Giovinazzi might stagnate in 2017.

After almost winning the GP2 title, the 23-year-old Italian has been signed up by Ferrari but is not guaranteed any actual kilometers.

So the question was posed to Mercedes' Toto Wolff – who has successfully placed his own juniors Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon on the F1 grid – as to whether Giovinazzi would be better off in the Mercedes program.

"But Giovinazzi has not driven a formula one car, so you can't compare him with Wehrlein and Ocon," he told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Pascal won the title in DTM and then spent a season in formula one, while Esteban won the titles in GP3 and Formula 3," he said.

Giovinazzi, however, almost won the GP2 title this year, but Wolff insisted: "I'm sure Ferrari will find the best option for him."

Asked if the Italian youngster is in danger of dropping off the F1 radar this year, Wolff answered: "No. A great example is Valtteri Bottas.

"He was third driver for a year with Williams before he became their race driver."

Magnussen 'disappointed' with Renault criticism

Kevin Magnussen
Kevin Magnussen

(GMM) Kevin Magnussen says he was "disappointed" to hear about his former Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul's recent parting shot.

Last week, as the Danish driver heads to Haas for 2017, his former Renault chief Abiteboul said Magnussen "stood still" last year.

"Personally, I was disappointed in Magnussen, for his performances and his behavior," the Frenchman told Auto Hebdo magazine.

"Kevin is a talented driver, but he lacks discipline. Also, he tries all too often to make excuses."

When asked about those disparaging remarks, Magnussen said during a visit to Haas' F1 headquarters: "I will not comment on Cyril's opinions at all."

Asked by the Danish newspaper BT if he really wants to leave Abiteboul's claims unchallenged, Magnussen insisted: "Yes, I can do that.

"I don't think it will do any good to talk about it. But it's clear that I am surprised. And disappointed," the 24-year-old added.

For Magnussen, the comments are actually an unfortunate pattern, as following his departure from McLaren he was similarly criticized by Ron Dennis.

"Yes, I can see that. But what should I do?" Magnussen responded.

Asked if his former teams might both be guilty of pointing fingers rather than acknowledging their own shortcomings, he concluded: "It could be something like that."

Tickets for the 2017 FORMULA 1 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX on sale

Sochi
Sochi

Tickets for the fourth Russian round of the Formula One World Championship have gone on sale today, January 19th.

The Grand Prix organisers have kept low ticket prices and prepared new offers for racing fans and those, who enjoy great entertainment events.

Motorsport fans will get an opportunity to purchase 2017 FORMULA 1 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX tickets of any category with a 10% discount by using the Early Bird special offer that is valid until February 20th, 2017.

The “Come Back to the Grand Prix" special offer gives those, who have attended the Russian round in 2015 and 2016, an opportunity to purchase tickets for the race weekend with a 15% discount. The discount does not apply with other discounts and is valid until April 9th, 2017.

The “Ticket + Hotel" package will allow not to worry about the trip and enjoy the main event of this spring. The package includes all ticket categories, accommodation and breakfast in a standard double room in the Barkhatnye Sezony 3-star hotel and transfer to Sochi Autodrom.

4-day tickets for the event are valid from April 27th to April 30th, 2017 and include not only the racing competitions and the entertainment programme, but also the Thursday pit lane walk. 3-day tickets are available for the fans, who have chosen the General Admission area located around the Bolshoy Ice Dome. 2-day tickets for the event are valid from April 29th to April 30th, 2017.

This year’s new option is 1-day tickets. The spectators, who would like to watch the competition from several grandstands or can come to just one race day, have an opportunity to purchase such a ticket that costs RUB 2,000 and will be valid for Friday, April 28th.

For children aged 3 to 12 there are child tickets available for T1 Grandstand. Having chosen the Family Ticket offer, one can purchase tickets with a 10% discount on adult and child tickets. The offer applies to the Main Grandstand and T3 Grandstand.

The Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix is a global event, which presents an opportunity to see the best drivers in the world and technically perfect Formula 1 cars, manoeuvring in the sharp corners of Sochi Autodrom and thrilling racing battles!

Throughout the race weekend the guests will be able to enjoy a packed entertainment program during the day and at night. Spectators of the Russian round of the Formula One World Championship will have a chance to visit the legendary F1 Village, where one can purchase exclusive merchandise of the teams and see BMX competitions, a stunt riding show, interesting children’s programs, the musical fountains show and concerts featuring popular artists at the Central Square of the Olympic Park.

The Russian Formula 1 round is a race weekend not to be missed!

Tickets for the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix are available on the Sochi Autodrom website at www.sochiautodrom.ru, in the official box offices around Russia, as well as at the call centre on 8 (800) 234-13-24 (if calling from Russia) or on +7(495) 730 05 94 (if calling from other countries).

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