Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Ecclestone under scrutiny
    Ecclestone under scrutiny

    F1 board dossier puts Ecclestone under scrutiny

  • Renault to make Ferrari-like engine step – Horner
  • Haryanto may struggle to qualify – Doornbos
  • Maldonado linked with Indycar switch
  • Coulthard sides with qualifying, 'halo' criticism
  • Drivers to 'fend for ourselves' in 2016 – Rosberg
  • Court may stop Mallya's F1 travels
  • Sainz says 2016 could be last chance at Toro Rosso
  • Formula One Teams Race Off With $1.5B In Revenue
  • Renault to unveil revised 2016 F1 livery in Melbourne
  • Fernando Alonso Visits Baku City Circuit

F1 board dossier puts Ecclestone under scrutiny
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone will come under scrutiny on Tuesday as a report is tabled at a meeting of F1's board.

The report has been authored by Jean-Marc Huet, a board member and former Uniliver financial chief, and comes hot on the heels of criticism of the 85-year-old F1 supremo.

Amid a controversial last-minute qualifying shakeup for 2016, and after the F1 supremo slammed his own sport in comments to the press, even Ecclestone's usual ally Sebastian Vettel last week questioned the sport's current "leadership".

British newspapers the Telegraph and Daily Mail say a succession plan for life after the Ecclestone reign will be discussed at the meeting on Tuesday.

The Telegraph quoted Ecclestone as saying: "At the last board meeting we said somebody should have a look and see if we're doing things right, and if we want to make some changes."

And when asked by the Daily Mail if he would consider stepping down, the Briton answered: "If someone can run it better, no problem. I'd make way, 100 per cent."

Horner hopes Renault gets it right this year
Horner hopes Renault gets it right this year

Renault to make Ferrari-like engine step – Horner
(GMM) Renault is tipped to make considerable progress with its power unit in 2016, as the works team prepares to unveil its new race livery.

After the Lotus buyout, the Enstone team has been running in familiar black during testing but is expected to switch to Renault's traditional yellow – with a weight-saving matte finish – for the race season.

Renault has announced that the livery will be shown mid next week in Melbourne, but was giving little away about the colors. "Black, blue, yellow, red, striped?" the French carmaker teased.

The works team aside, Renault is also expected to put its full concentration into improving the power unit in 2016, after two seasons of sub-standard performance with Red Bull in the 'power unit' era so far.

Despite the re-branding of the engines as Tag-Heuer, Red Bull is looking forward to the progress.

Auto Motor und Sport claims Renault's step forward since the end of last year has been modest, but a 35 horse power step for Canada is now scheduled.

"The jump should be as big as the one made last year by Ferrari," declared Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.

Also making progress since 2015 is McLaren's works partner Honda, although comments by Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button suggest the actual power leap has not been huge.

"A little more (power) will come for Melbourne through the software," said team boss Eric Boullier.

There is skepticism in the paddock, however, about just how much progress McLaren-Honda can make in 2016 after the unmitigated disaster of last year.

"The first season with Honda was completely awful," former F1 driver Mika Salo told Finland's Ilta Sanomat newspaper.

"The winter tests have shown an improvement, but will it be enough? It's hard to say, but they will surely make some kind of improvement," he added.

Rio Haryanto - has check will drive
Rio Haryanto – has check will drive

Haryanto may struggle to qualify – Doornbos
(GMM) F1 rookie Rio Haryanto might struggle even to qualify for races this year.

That is the claim of former grand prix driver Robert Doornbos, who knows the back of the grid well after racing for backmarker Minardi a decade ago.

However, he told the Dutch broadcaster Ziggo Sport Totaal that the Manor team should actually make a big step forward in 2016.

"On paper they remain the smallest team," said Doornbos, "but with the steps they have made, I think they can finally fight the other teams rather than just be at the back all the time.

"I think they can hope for some points, especially with (Pascal) Wehrlein in the team. I think he's a really, really good driver.

Sergio Canamasas - has check will test
Sergio Canamasas – has check will test

"Haryanto is in the car for the usual reasons: the money he brings and to be a sort of ambassador for Indonesia," the 34-year-old, who also drove for Red Bull, said.

"We will have to see if he can always qualify within the 107 per cent," Doornbos said.

Manor could however be set for another financial boost in the days before Melbourne, with reports in Spain suggesting GP2 driver Sergio Canamasas is in talks about becoming test driver.

According to caranddriverthef1.com, Canamasas is backed by two banks and the Spanish automobile federation RFEdeA.

Pastor Maldonado taking what money he does have to IndyCar
Pastor Maldonado taking what money he does have to IndyCar

Maldonado linked with Indycar switch
(GMM) Pastor Maldonado could keep his motor racing career alive in America's top open wheeler series.

The Portuguese-language Diario Motorsport reports that the controversial Venezuelan, ousted by Renault amid sponsorship problems, is in talks with Ed Carpenter's Indycar team about racing on the road and street tracks in 2016.

Whether Maldonado's departure from F1 is a loss to the sport has been the subject of recent debate, as while he was a race winner, his description as 'Crashtor' attested to his tendency to get involved in incidents.

Pat Symonds, the highly-experienced technical chief at Williams, certainly thinks it was a good thing for Valtteri Bottas to be paired with a different teammate.

When Bottas made his F1 debut in 2013, the occupant of the sister Williams was Maldonado.

Now, the Grove team pairs Bottas with the long-time former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa.

Referring to 2013 when Williams was struggling with its car, Symonds said: "It was a difficult situation and the car wasn't easy to understand.

"With all due respect to everyone – as all the drivers in F1 are good – but with respect to Pastor, Valtteri did not have the best mentor when he came to F1," he is quoted by Finland's MTV.

"I often say that 2014 was the first real season for Valtteri, when fortunately he got a really good mentor in the form of Felipe Massa," Symonds added.

Meanwhile, L'Equipe (France) and La Gazzetta dello Sport (Italy) report that former F1 driver Robert Kubica will make his return to circuit racing, five years after a rally crash ended his F1 career.

The reports say the Pole, who has been competing in the world rally championship, will race a Mercedes GT3 at the Mugello 12-hour later this month.

Coulthard pans Halo
Coulthard pans Halo

Coulthard sides with qualifying, 'halo' criticism
(GMM) David Coulthard says he sympathizes with drivers who are openly questioning the latest changes within formula one.

While most drivers are either publicly or privately calling for better tires and faster cars, the next two changes in fact look set to be a controversially-revised qualifying format and the 'halo' cockpit safety collar.

Coulthard, the long-time McLaren and Red Bull driver and now a respected British broadcaster, said he knows why the drivers are rebelling against making the qualifying format even more geared to 'the show'.

He thinks they would prefer the changes go the other way, perhaps back to the simple days of one-hour, 12-lap qualifying.

"I think a driver having four runs at his best lap in an hour is exciting for the driver," Coulthard told the Daily Mail.

"If the driver is excited that radiates to what the fans pick up on.

"I have to believe in my heart that the simpler the system for the masses to understand, that can only help broaden the appeal of the sport," he said.

Coulthard also sides with drivers like Lewis Hamilton who are railing against the likely introduction of the 'halo' cockpit cage, after Daniel Ricciardo even told Nico Hulkenberg there is "no need to be a hero" in slamming the safety feature.

But Coulthard thinks F1 drivers actually should be heroes.

"Life is dangerous," he said.

"If we invented F1 now and drivers were wrapped in something where it was impossible to sustain an injury, it would still be impressive, but people wouldn't marvel at how they do it because the consequence has been reduced," explained Coulthard.

He admits it is a "sensitive topic" to express views like that not long after the deaths of Jules Bianchi and Justin Wilson.

But: "Do I think that grand prix cars should be the size of trucks where the driver sits in the middle of that truck surrounded by the world's safest airbag? I personally don't," said Coulthard.

Rumor has it that Mercedes has preordained Nico Rosberg to be the 2016 F1 champion
Rumor has it that Mercedes has preordained Nico Rosberg to be the 2016 F1 champion

Drivers to 'fend for ourselves' in 2016 – Rosberg
(GMM) The further clampdown on pit-to-driver radio communications in 2016 will spice up the action.

That is the view of a couple of 2016 drivers, after Mercedes chief Toto Wolff this week declared that the incoming rule changes should make the Lewis Hamilton versus Nico Rosberg battle more exciting this year.

Some interpreted his comments skeptically, but German Rosberg agrees that the task for the drivers this year will be more complicated.

"We'll have to fend for ourselves in most situations," the Mercedes driver told Brazil's Globo Esporte.

Sauber's Felipe Nasr agrees that the further clampdown on what drivers can be told about the operation of their complex cars will mean the workload increases.

"I am studying what my responsibilities are now with the restriction in dialogue with the team," he said.

"I believe we will have situations where the driver does not know what to do, as there are several things we can do when there are problems."

So with many believing 2016 will be another Hamilton versus Rosberg showdown at the front, the clampdown could be an advantage for the hardworking Rosberg over the more seat-of-the-pants Hamilton.

"It is getting closer to his now or never period for Nico," F1 veteran David Coulthard told the Sun newspaper.

"He has my respect. He is a fast racing driver, but what we are looking for is an exceptional racing driver," the former McLaren and Red Bull driver added.

Vijay Mallya
Vijay Mallya

Court may stop Mallya's F1 travels
(GMM) Force India boss and co-owner Vijay Mallya may be unable to attend grands prix in 2016.

Seventeen banks that are owed money by the Indian businessman relating to his collapsed airline Kingfisher on Tuesday asked a court to urgently stop Mallya from leaving India.

"List it for hearing tomorrow," the judges decreed on Tuesday, according to the news agency PTI.

Mallya was not at the Barcelona tests recently as his F1 team Force India prepared for the new season, but deputy Bob Fernley distanced the Silverstone based camp from what is going on in India.

"I think it's speculation coming from Indian media that is then exaggerated," Fernley said.

"There are no issues at all. Vijay is fully in charge of Force India."

Indeed, Mallya also slammed the recent press coverage, declaring: "The past few days have witnessed a near hysterical campaign in the media directed against me."

He rubbished claims he might deal with the Kingfisher turmoil by "absconding" from India in order to base himself full-time in England, where Force India is based.

"I have been most pained as being painted as an absconder," said Mallya. "I have neither the intention nor any reason to abscond.

"I have always lived an honorable life and, the calumny notwithstanding, shall continue to do so."

Carlos Sainz Jr.
Carlos Sainz Jr.

Sainz Jr. says 2016 could be last chance at Toro Rosso
(GMM) Carlos Sainz Jr. says he knows 2016 could be a make-or-break season for him in F1.

On the surface, Toro Rosso is fielding arguably its best-ever lineup in the form of Spaniard Sainz and Dutch sensation Max Verstappen, who were both impressive rookies last year.

But Sainz, 21, says he knows that is no guarantee of a long career on the grid, acknowledging he must continue to "impress" his Red Bull paymasters.

"I know what I have to do," he told the Spanish-language sports magazine Revista Elite. "My goal is to end up at Red Bull (Racing).

"I realize that when you arrive at Toro Rosso, you usually get only two or three years (there)," Sainz added, referring to Red Bull's junior team.

So while he needs to impress in 2016, Sainz insists he will not overdrive.

"I will not change my driving style. When I have to attack, I'll be the first to do it, and when you have to bring the car home I will do that as well."

That is despite the fact that his teammate Verstappen is regarded as perhaps the best rookie in the history of F1, having already impressed with his audacious overtaking moves last year.

But "I don't see much difference between him and me," Sainz insists.

"Last year I also did many good and spectacular things that maybe were not on TV, but the team saw them in the telemetry and the on-board," he said.

"I tell myself that if he (Verstappen) is the new Senna and I beat him, what does that make me? I have nothing to lose and I'm confident I can do it."

Horner smiling all the way to the bank
Horner smiling all the way to the bank

Formula One Teams Race Off With $1.5B In Revenue
The 10 F1 teams last year made more than $1.5B in revenue, according to their latest financial statements, "with Indian outfit Force India showing the greatest growth," according to Christian Sylt for FORBES.

The data indicates that F1 "remains one of the most attractive properties in sport as income from sponsorship is the biggest of three core revenue sources, alongside prize money and payments from owners, which fuel the teams' budgets."

F1 has "struggled to attract major new sponsors as marketing purse strings have been pulled tighter during the economic downturn."

However, it has managed to keep the "vast majority of its stakeholders which explains why the teams" revenue has remained roughly stable."

However, the data also "reveals that the turbocharged cost of competing in F1 needs to be reduced in order for the series to be sustainable."

BLOCKBUSTER: Despite having "blockbuster income" in '14 the teams burned up a $336.6M net loss.

The "poster-boys" of the teams' plight in '14 were Marussia and Caterham "which crashed into administration," with combined debts of $125M. Their collapse was fueled by F1's switch in '14 from a 1.4-liter V8 engine to a "more environmentally-friendly" 1.6-liter turbocharged V6 hybrid.

The scale of the losses driven up by the new engines "has only fully come to light over the past few months."

This is the first time that the '14 data has been collected together and "it reveals the biggest winners were former champions Red Bull Racing which alone accounted for 22% of the total revenue."

Lower down the grid, the gains were "greater as Force India's revenue accelerated" 36.9% to $178.1M in '14.

The worst performer was the Marussia F1 team as its revenue reversed by 57% to $40.6M in '14 when Owner Andrei Cheglakov "stopped paying the bills." Forbes

Will Renault return to yellow and blue livery?
Will Renault return to yellow and blue livery?

Renault to unveil revised 2016 F1 livery in Melbourne
Renault will unveil its official livery for the 2016 season during an event ahead of the opening race of the season, the team has confirmed.

The French manufacturer launched what it described as a "show car" in early-February following its takeover of the Lotus team. The car featured a primarily black test livery with yellow accents, but hinted that its livery would change come the start of the season.

Now the team has confirmed it will launch its new livery on March 16, two days prior to the opening practice session for the Australian Grand Prix.

"Black? Blue? Yellow? Red? Striped," read a teaser to the event.

The team most recently ran a black and yellow livery before it sold its team to Lotus in 2010, but prior to that it ran with its now famous blue and yellow livery, which saw Fernando Alonso claim back-to-back championships.

Alonso checks out a tight part of the circuit
Alonso checks out a tight part of the circuit

Fernando Alonso Visits Baku City Circuit
Two-time Formula 1 World Champion and current McLaren-Honda driver, Fernando Alonso, today visited Baku as part of his new role as the Official Ambassador for the 2016 FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX OF EUROPE. He began his stay in Baku by immediately taking a tour of Baku City Circuit (BCC), F1's newest street circuit, and inspecting some of its key features.

In doing so, Alonso becomes the first F1 driver to visit the city and study the latest addition to the sport's calendar in person. Today's tour – taking place exactly 100 days before the arrival of F1 on Baku's streets – allowed him to see for himself how much progress has already been made along the track's route, as Baku City Circuit (BCC) continues its daily preparations to ensure the street circuit is operational in time for F1's arrival in Azerbaijan this summer.

As part of this morning's ‘track walk', Alonso was shown the soon-to-be home of the Paddock and site of the Pit Lane, located right in front of Baku's magnificent Government Building, where construction work on the two-story Pit Lane building is already underway. The McLaren-Honda driver also got the chance to examine what is sure to become the iconic image of the 2016 FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX OF EUROPE – the 7.6 meter narrow, uphill, winding sequence of turns (T8-T11) by the city's Old Town walls.

His tour also took in Turn 18, where cars will race past the Maiden Tower, Baku's ancient defensive structure, as well as the 'dual carriageway' section of the circuit. Finally, he was also taken to the circuit's main straight along Baku's picturesque seaside boulevard, where cars are estimated to hit speeds of up to 340 km/h as they race towards the finish line.

Speaking at a specially arranged press conference to welcome him today, Alonso spoke of his first impressions of Baku and the new circuit: "It's a real honor for me to be the first F1 driver to visit this magnificent city. The welcome I have received from everyone since my arrival has been wonderful. I have been really impressed with everything I have seen today. I feel absolutely confident in saying that Baku City Circuit is going to be the most memorable circuit on the F1 calendar this year.

"Much like this beautiful city, it successfully manages to showcase its modernity with a lovely nod to the past. Indeed, the way the track stretches along the Old Town walls with the magnificent Flame Towers in the background is a clear example of this! On a technical level, I am excited to test my skills on such a challenging circuit, in particular along those tight, winding corners. I really can't wait to race here this summer."

In addition to his track inspection, Alonso will also spend the rest of his time in Baku engaging with local fans in a series of events being staged across the city today and in particular with the many 2016 FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX OF EUROPE Volunteers and Marshals who are currently undergoing their training ahead of F1's arrival in Baku.

Leave a Reply