Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

Ecclestone and Todt put in their place
Ecclestone and Todt put in their place
  • Formula 1 Teams Force Ecclestone To Revert To Old Qualifying System
  • Teams vow to reconsider qualifying change for 2017
  • FIA clears Ferrari over 'coded' pit board message
  • 'Too early' for silly season to start – Bottas
  • Toro Rosso duo poses Red Bull promotion 'dilemma'
  • Vettel to take on new engine for China
  • Manor must 'temper excitement' – Ryan
  • Honda, Renault ahead of 2015 Ferrari
  • Celis Jr. aiming for 2017 race seat chance

Formula 1 Teams Force Ecclestone To Revert To Old Qualifying System
Formula 1's teams have forced CEO Bernie Ecclestone to "ditch the reviled knockout qualifying system after a united show of power," according to Kevin Eason of the LONDON TIMES.

All 11 teams wrote to Ecclestone and FIA President Jean Todt to "demand that the elimination format of the past two races be discarded" and the sport return to the "successful qualifying system used last season."
The old qualifying system "will return in time for the next grand prix, in China over the weekend of April 15-16."
The letter is "also thought to have gone" to F1 majority shareholder CVC Capital Partners Chair Donald Mackenzie. Mackenzie has "the power as the commercial rights holder to bypass Ecclestone," but it seems that his CEO "had already got the message loud and clear from the furious teams and disgruntled fans around the world."
Ecclestone and Todt "faced a revolt on a scale not seen in some time from the teams," which have become "increasingly agitated by the haphazard way in which change was foisted on the sport," puzzling sponsors and "angering fans." LONDON TIMES.

In London, Daniel Johnson reported the debate over qualifying "had taken on enormous significance since Melbourne and become a key battleground for control in the sport."

Ecclestone has "repeatedly vented his spleen at the teams having such a significant say in rulemaking and will be bruised by this defeat."
Todt said in Bahrain last weekend that he "did not want to be a dictator only to refuse the teams' plea on Sunday morning before the race."
It all means after weeks of "bewildering fans, sponsors, television companies and drivers, F1 should return to the old style of qualifying" for the next race in China.TELEGRAPH

The BBC reported the letter was sent before a meeting on Thursday, "where the decision to go back to last year's format was taken."

Following the meeting, the FIA issued a statement which confirmed Todt and Ecclestone had agreed "to submit a proposal to the F1 Commission and World Motor Sport Council to revert to the qualifying format in force in 2015."
Qualifying was changed this year because Ecclestone "wanted to spice up race weekends, which he felt were becoming too predictable." BBC.

Lauda confirmed: "We have offered to go back and look calmly at a new system that allows Bernie's objectives to be achieved."
Lauda confirmed: "We have offered to go back and look calmly at a new system that allows Bernie's objectives to be achieved."

Teams vow to reconsider qualifying change for 2017
(GMM) F1 teams have promised to revisit the possibility of spicing up the qualifying hour ahead of the 2017 season.

The pledge has been made in return for the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone finally agreeing the scrap the hated 'musical chairs' format that took place in Australia and Bahrain.

Although tasked with considering an all-new 'aggregate' format for China and beyond, the teams actually showed rare unanimity on Thursday by writing a letter pleading for the popular and tested 2015 system to return next week.

In a statement, the FIA said president Jean Todt and Ecclestone accepted "in the interests of the championship".

Reverting to the 2015 system must now be approved by the World Motor Sport Council before Shanghai.

The statement added: "Jean Todt and Bernie Ecclestone welcomed the idea put forward by the teams to have a global assessment of the format of the weekend for 2017."

Speaking to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda confirmed: "We have offered to go back and look calmly at a new system that allows Bernie's objectives to be achieved."

Ecclestone has said repeatedly that amid Mercedes' current dominance, he wants a qualifying format that shakes up the grid.

The fact that the F1 supremo is not getting what he wants now is an indication he and "Jean Todt have lost a power struggle" against the teams, Telegraph correspondent Daniel Johnson said.

Ecclestone was quoted as saying on Thursday: "Unless we can get everybody on board with regard to a new format we are not going to find an answer."

Vettel did not get a coded message
Vettel did not get a coded message

FIA clears Ferrari over 'coded' pit board message
(GMM) Ferrari has been cleared of wrongdoing in the wake of reports Sebastian Vettel was shown an illegal 'coded' message on his pit board in Australia.

Although it is the radio rules that have been severely limited for 2016, Charlie Whiting said recently they also apply to pit boards "so if we see anything unusual we will ask why".

Auto Motor und Sport revealed this week that a rival team showed the FIA official a photo of a Ferrari pit board in Melbourne displaying the message "3.2 – LFS6 – P1".

The report said the FIA was looking into the matter.

Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport now reports: "Having heard Ferrari's explanation, the FIA found there was no breach of the rules."

That is reportedly because the red flag stoppage caused by Fernando Alonso's crash affected the basic operation of the other cars through to the finish in Australia.

Speed Week elaborated that the actual message to Vettel, also given over the radio and approved by the FIA, was about fuel consumption calculations made by the electronic control unit in the wake of the interrupted race.

"I don't want to go into details," McLaren team boss Eric Boullier is quoted by Spain's El Confidencial, "but some cars had problems with the display, including us, so we were allowed to give information about a couple of things."

Valtteri Bottas in no mood for rumors yet
Valtteri Bottas in no mood for rumors yet

'Too early' for silly season to start – Bottas
(GMM) Valtteri Bottas has refused to rule out playing a starring role in this year's 'silly season'.

Last year, the Finn admitted strong rumors linking him with a potential switch to Ferrari were a distraction.

Now, an opening at the fabled Maranello team will once again be up for grabs for 2017, amid similar potential vacancies at other teams including Mercedes.

"There are just two races gone so it's too early" for team switch reports, Bottas was quoted by Turun Sanomat newspaper on a marketing visit to his native Finland this week.

"But it is quite clear that I want to win, and at the moment that looks very difficult," he added.

Now 26, Bottas has driven throughout his career at Williams and he had hoped openly for an improvement in 2016 after two consecutive seasons of the British team finishing third.

"We have improved aerodynamically," he said, "but the others have as well. So after Bahrain we know that we need to keep improving.

"Mercedes and Ferrari have gone forward massively and others have come closer to us," added Bottas.

"We are not satisfied with where our car is but we're working hard."

Asked by another Finnish newspaper, Ilta Sanomat, if he thinks Williams can win races in 2016, Bottas answered: "I don't want to say it's impossible, but at the moment it is very difficult.

"As the season progresses, we will see how we develop and how close we can get."

Sainz Jr has no where to go within Red Bull
Sainz Jr has no where to go within Red Bull

Toro Rosso duo poses Red Bull promotion 'dilemma'
(GMM) Red Bull is facing a "dilemma" as it ponders the future of its young F1 stars Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz.

That is the view of David Coulthard, a veteran F1 driver who knows Red Bull well, having spent the last four seasons of his racing career with the energy drink marque.

In the year he retired, 2008, Sebastian Vettel made his victory breakthrough in F1 for the junior squad Toro Rosso, making the step up to replace Coulthard at Red Bull Racing for 2009.

In 2009 and beyond, Toro Rosso boasted promising drivers including Sebastien Buemi, Sebastien Bourdais, Jaime Alguersuari and Jean-Eric Vergne, but only Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat would get the chance to continue their F1 careers by stepping up into Red Bull's senior team.

But last year, Toro Rosso signed up a new pair of rookies, Verstappen and Sainz, and both have shown form strong enough to worthy a promotion, according to Coulthard.

"The focus is on Max because he is the younger of the two," Coulthard is quoted by Spain's 20minutos, "but Carlos has also shown he is quite able to perform.

"So it's a dilemma for Red Bull because historically the driver who has shone goes to Red Bull and the other goes elsewhere. But both of them are shining at the moment.

"From what I've seen," Coulthard added, "both are potential grand prix winners of the future and, depending on their decisions, potential world champions."

New engine for Vettel in China
New engine for Vettel in China

Vettel to take on new engine for China
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel is set to take on his second engine of the 2016 campaign at the Chinese Grand Prix, after his formation lap stoppage in Bahrain.

Vettel came to a halt – amid plumes of smoke – on his way to the grid for Sunday's race, having qualified third, behind Mercedes pair Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.

Ferrari was initially unsure of the cause, but post-event investigations at Maranello have attributed it to a software issue at low speed, which ultimately led to a valve failure.

"A software failure meant that a problem arose during the formation lap at low revs," a Ferrari spokesman explained to GPUpdate.net, when asked about the problem.

"[It was a] very unlikely combination of circumstances, but eventually one valve broke, so we're looking at replacing the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) for China."

Formula 1 drivers are permitted to use five power units throughout the 21-round 2016 season, with penalties applying to those who surpass the limit at any stage.

Dave Ryan
Dave Ryan

Manor must 'temper excitement' – Ryan
Manor's Racing Director Dave Ryan says the team must not get overexcited by its showing at the Bahrain Grand Prix, after it was able to competitively fight in the midfield.

Manor, under its previous Marussia and Virgin guises, has spent the majority of its Formula 1 existence at the back of the field, and last year was significantly adrift of the pack.

However, Pascal Wehrlein finished 13th in Bahrain, narrowly behind Sauber's Marcus Ericsson, and ahead of the latter's team-mate, Felipe Nasr, as well as both Force India drivers.

"Obviously Pascal had a dream race for where we are right now and did an incredible job getting past both Force Indias," said Ryan, who joined the team at the end of 2015.

"I am however going to temper our excitement because with the package we have we're still only on the first rung on a fairly tall ladder.

"There's some way to go and some very obvious potential that we have yet to tap into.

"Having said that, it's rewarding to see the hard work starting to pay off and the team beginning to grow in stature.

"We're a much stronger unit operationally."

Manor's only points to date came under its former Marussia guise, courtesy of the late Jules Bianchi placing ninth at the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix.

If the Honda engine is as good as Mercedes says it is, then Alonso and Button have no more excuses
If the Honda engine is as good as Mercedes says it is, then Alonso and Button have no more excuses

Honda, Renault ahead of 2015 Ferrari
Honda and Renault's new Formula 1 power units are already more powerful than last year's Ferrari engine, which is fitted in the Toro Rosso, according to technical data gathered by Mercedes.

Toro Rosso is the only team in the field running a 2015-specification Ferrari unit, after a late switch from Renault, with all other outfits receiving upgrades from their suppliers.

Despite talk of a sizeable leap in engine performance at the Red Bull junior team, Mercedes' GPS readings indicate that all 2016 units are ahead of the year-old Ferrari.

"You may not know this, but the engine with the least power on the grid is actually the Ferrari in the Toro Rosso," Mercedes technical chief Paddy Lowe told ESPN.

"The Renault and the Honda [power units] are not so far behind the Ferrari and Mercedes, so there is not a lot of difference now between the power units."

Mercedes has dominated the V6 turbocharged era so far, notching up back-to-back double world titles in 2014 and 2015, and taking an early lead in the 2016 standings.

Although rival manufacturers have been criticized for failing to keep up with the German marque, Lowe says there is little between the best and worst engines on the grid.

"Even the worst engines in Formula 1, and people complain like hell about them, are still fantastically efficient by any absolute standard," Lowe went on to explain.

"They just happen to be one or two per cent worse than the best engines."

Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost recently stated that he is not expecting any updates from Ferrari over the course of the season, and ruled out a switch to the 2016 unit.

Alfonso Celis Jr.
Alfonso Celis Jr.

Celis Jr. aiming for 2017 race seat chance
Force India development driver Alfonso Celis Jr. says he wants to sufficiently improve across the course of the year to be considered for a race seat in 2017.

Celis Jr., 19, joined Force India at the end of 2015 and participated in two test days before making his Friday practice debut in Bahrain, in which he finished 21st, 2.6 seconds adrift of Nico Hülkenberg.

Celis Jr. placed 12th in his second GP3 season last year, alongside a campaign in Formula Renault 3.5, where he wound up 16th overall.

"I want to improve step by step," he said.

"It's my first year in Formula 1, there's still a lot of things to learn, I've got to be patient.

"My personal goal is to end the year at a place where I've shown performance and show I'm ready to be considered as one of the drivers next year."

Celis Jr. denied that sponsorship was the sole reason for his role at Force India but accepted that it had acted as a benefit.

"It's not about that [sponsorship], the team has given me a lot of opportunities and chances every time I'm in the car," he said.

"That would obviously be an aspect I have to work on, especially for next year if I want to race next year, but for now I'm doing what I can, showing on track why I should be in the car.

"[But] I've got some investors that invested in me to help bring some budget so I could do some work."

Celis Jr. will continue in the revamped Formula V8 3.5 category this year after briefly considering a switch to the GP2 Series.

"As they [Formula 1 and the GP2 Series] race together, it's almost impossible to be fully committed in one championship and in another one," he said.

"It's really hard to do and, as well some other factors, that made me take the decision."

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