Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Alejandro Agag
    Alejandro Agag

    Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag Dismisses Speculation He Could Run Formula 1

  • Mercedes out to make up for 2015 defeat
  • Pirelli: New Sepang surface 'big unknown'
  • Soft tire favored for Japanese Grand Prix
  • Magnussen wants to stay at Renault – father New
  • Barcelona not confirming pre-season dates New
  • Berger hopes F1 avoids 'power struggle' New
  • BMW decides against F1 return New
  • Teams agree rule changes for 2017 New
  • Kubica eyes Le Mans New

Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag Dismisses Speculation He Could Run Formula 1
Formula E Founder & CEO Alejandro Agag "has dismissed media speculation" that he could play a role in running Formula 1 after Liberty Media's takeover, according to Alan Baldwin of REUTERS.

Agag said on Tuesday at his London HQ, "There haven’t been any contacts at all, whatsoever. My interest is Formula E and I think there is still so much to be done in Formula E and it’s really exciting to be in Formula E. I think I could not go anywhere without Formula E.

"So wherever I go, Formula E has to come, in a way. Formula E is like my baby. I founded it, we were very few in the beginning and we’ve taken it to this point and I don’t think I can stay apart from Formula E."

Formula E is owned by Liberty Global, another of U.S. cable TV tycoon John Malone's companies. Agag welcomed the F1 takeover, "which has still to be approved by anti-trust regulators," but said that there had been no discussions "in terms of synergies or co-operation or anything."

He added, "If you ask me for my feeling, I think it’s good. I think if Formula One had been bought by a competitor of the Liberty family, the extended family, it would be more difficult." He did not "envisage any competition issues, however, because the two series were so distinct and raced in very different arenas," with Formula E a city-based series using temporary circuits.

Agag: "We don’t compete at all with Formula One. We don’t race in racetracks, we race on very small places where Formula One cannot race so there is no competition." Reuters

Vettel has zero chance of beating the Aldo Costa car this year
Vettel has zero chance of beating the Aldo Costa car this year

Mercedes out to make up for 2015 defeat
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the team is focused on maintaining its momentum at its 'second home race' in Malaysia this weekend.

Mercedes has not been beaten since May's Spanish Grand Prix but last season was eclipsed to victory by Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, one of only three times the team was overhauled in 2015.

Mercedes triumphed in Hungary and Singapore this year, having been beaten at both races in 2015, and Wolff is hoping to replicate a similar turnaround in form at Sepang, a home race for title sponsor Petronas.

"Now we go to Malaysia, which is a big weekend for us," said Wolff.

"To win in what feels like our second home, in front of thousands of friends and partners from Petronas, would be very special.

"But, like Singapore, this was a race where we underperformed last year, so we will need to push hard to put that right.

"We can guarantee that the drivers will be doing just that."

"This year more than ever, we've seen that they are pushing each other to new heights."

Mercedes will clinch its third successive Constructors' championship if it departs Sepang with a 215-point advantage in the standings; its current lead over Red Bull is 222 points.

Wolff is wary that Mercedes cannot afford to relax, despite its sizable advantage.

"We're entering a grueling phase of this record 21 race season, where the physical and mental challenge of a championship reaches its absolute peak," he said.

"We're in good shape – but we must remain on our toes to get the ball over the line."

Pirelli tires
Pirelli tires

Pirelli: New Sepang surface 'big unknown'
Pirelli's Motorsport Director, Paul Hembery, is viewing the new track surface at the Sepang International Circuit as a "big unknown" ahead of this year's Malaysian Grand Prix.

For the 2016 event, shifted to the tail-end of the season, the track has been resurfaced, which should reduce bumps, along with extensive drainage, curb and run-off upgrades.

Pirelli will bring its Soft, Medium and Hard tire compounds to the track, with two sets of Hards allocated for the race, and Hembery is curious to see how the weekend pans out.

"In terms of extreme conditions that provide a real test for the tires, Malaysia is right up there with anything else we see all year," said Hembery, as he looked ahead to the event.

"[There are] extremely high temperatures as well as the high energy loadings through the fast corners.

"The big unknown for this year is the track surface, which is completely new.

"The weather can also change in an instant, turning the track into a monsoon.

"As a result of all that, Sepang tends to be quite a varied weekend where track evolution is hard to follow.

"We've seen a high number of pit-stops in the past and we would probably expect multiple stops from most drivers again this year: this of course opens up an even wider array of variables when it comes to potential race strategies, now that teams have three compounds to choose from."

Soft tire favored for Japanese Grand Prix
Formula 1 tire supplier Pirelli has revealed the driver-by-driver selections for the Japanese Grand Prix, with the yellow-marked Soft rubber favored over the white-marked Medium and orange-marked Hard.

All drivers will take a majority of the Soft compound to the Suzuka circuit, with Ferrari the most aggressive on nine sets, ahead of Mercedes and Sauber on eight, down to Red Bull and Manor on six.

Sebastian Vettel has selected just one set of Mediums, with Felipe Massa, Esteban Gutierrez and the Manor drivers picking the most on four, while Hard selections range from two to four sets.

For 2016, each driver receives 13 dry-weather sets per Grand Prix, with Pirelli choosing two sets for the race (only one of which must be used), and a set of the softest compound, only for use in Q3.

Drivers are free to select any combination of the chosen compounds for the other 10 sets.

Magnussen wants to stay at Renault – father
(GMM) Kevin Magnussen is hoping to stay with Renault so that 2016 is not a "lost" year.

That is the claim of the Dane's father, former F1 driver Jan Magnussen who was asked about his 23-year-old son's chances of keeping his seat with the French works team.

"I have the very distinct feeling that Kevin ideally wants to stay with Renault, so that this year has not been lost," Jan told the Danish broadsheet Jyllands Posten.

"It's been a tough year at the back with a car that was worse than I had expected," Magnussen added.

"I certainly believe that Kevin will make progress and be a part of it again when they hopefully take a big step forward next year," Jan said.

Jan, who made his F1 debut in the 90s for McLaren and also drove for Stewart, also confirmed reports that his son's contract 'option' to stay with Renault beyond 2016 expires in a few days.

"The date is coming quickly and then Kevin will be theoretically free to negotiate with others," he said. "But there is nothing new with the situation. So we have to wait."

Barcelona not confirming pre-season dates
(GMM) Barcelona is not yet confirming officially that pre-season testing will take place at the Circuit de Catalunya early next year.

Reports indicate that the teams have now settled on two four-day group tests, both in Barcelona, to prepare for the new 2017 regulations.

But Pirelli, and some teams including Mercedes, are reportedly pushing for at least one test to take place in hotter weather, for instance in Bahrain.

When asked about the reports of two Barcelona tests, circuit director Joan Fontsere said: "We have no official confirmation of this decision.

"We have done everything possible that it stays here, but the decision is theirs," he told the Diario Sport newspaper.

Berger hopes F1 avoids 'power struggle'
(GMM) F1 legend Gerhard Berger has backed the sale of the sport's commercial rights to American mogul John Malone's Liberty Media.

Liberty is buying F1 after ten years of controversial majority ownership by CVC, a mainly disengaged and profit-driven private equity group.

"I'm glad that something is happening, because the structures have been bogged down for years," Berger, a former driver and official, told Austrian broadcaster Servus TV.

"I see the new arrangement as holding more opportunity than risk, which is why I think the sale is good for formula one," he added.

Berger also said it is good that Liberty Media is American.

"The new owner is typically American," he explained, "which means (they are) straightforward. So there will be no more endless discussion.

"This is a very different approach than we saw before," said Berger.

"This is certainly also an opportunity for formula one to establish itself in America, which is a huge market. Liberty are also quite big media specialists, from which formula one can learn and benefit from a lot.

"I believe these guys are very customer oriented," Berger continued, "which is good for the fans of today and tomorrow."

However, the early signs of the Liberty deal are that Malone, and particularly new chairman Chase Carey, could clash with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

Berger hopes they find a "constructive dialogue".

"I hope this does not degenerate into a power struggle, because formula one will suffer the most from that.

"Instead, it would be desirable for the new and the old leaders to find a way and for Ecclestone to share his knowledge and network," he said.

BMW decides against F1 return
(GMM) German carmaker BMW has made clear it is content for now outside of formula one.

"They walked out of formula one seven years ago and now BMW have signaled that they are not coming back," correspondent Kevin Eason wrote in the Times.

"Instead, F1's loss of one of the biggest brand names in motoring will be Formula E's gain," he added.

Indeed, BMW has announced that it is staying in DTM and teaming up with former F1 driver Michael Andretti's team in the all-electric single seater series.

"As well as Formula E, BMW will also return to the 24 hours of Le Mans endurance race", Eason said.

BMW board member Klaus Frohlich confirmed: "The commitments allow us to demonstrate our expertise in the areas of technology and integration on international platforms".

Teams agree rule changes for 2017
(GMM) F1 teams and the FIA have agreed a swathe of rule changes to be sent to the decision-making strategy group for approval.

That is the claim of Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, revealing that the 2017 changes relate to tire choice, safety car race starts and the end of a multiple engine change loophole.

Another change is designed to address the issue of 'unsafe release' from pitstops, with a light to now show a driver if the pitlane is safe.

But the biggest change is the closing of a loophole that allowed drivers to amass huge penalties whilst stockpiling engines under the current long-life rules.

From 2017, only the last engine change can be used subsequently, which would render the 'stockpiled' engines useless.

Another significant change is that Pirelli will mandate tire compound selections in the opening 5 races of next year, to ensure teams do not choose too many softs.

Teams have also agreed that races should start from the grid after early safety car periods for rain, correspondent Michael Schmidt wrote.

Kubica eyes Le Mans
(GMM) Robert Kubica is looking to step up his return to circuit racing by targeting Le Mans.

The Pole's promising F1 career ended abruptly in 2011, when a pre-season rallying crash left him with a permanent arm injury.

But he has since competed at the highest level of world rallying, he did the Mugello 12 hour in March, and last weekend he finished on the podium after the Renault Sport Trophy race at Spa.

"It was the first time since 2010 that I raced on a circuit," said Kubica, who is now 31.

Kubica prepared for his race at Spa with time in Renault's F1 simulator, having been invited by team boss Frederic Vasseur.

"I wanted to know where I was," Kubica said, "and how my body will react on a race weekend. It's a real test.

"I wanted to see if I can race on a circuit in an entirely professional manner. Then I will decide my future according to what I am capable of."

As for what that future might look like, he answered: "For next year, I have two projects in mind.

"But what is certain is that there is a 90 per cent chance that I'll be back on a circuit," said Kubica.

Le Mans, he admitted, is one option.

"I admit that I was not very interested in endurance previously, but now it is different. And the 24 hours of Le Mans represents the pinnacle," said Kubica.

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