Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Ecclestone puts a stop to qualifying format that would have confused 99.9% of the fans
    Ecclestone wants to stop qualifying format that would confuse 99.9% of the fans

    'Flop' qualifying shakeup may not happen

  • Renault to get started on 2017 car – Lopez
  • 2016 to be Mercedes versus Ferrari – Rosberg
  • Renault 'happier' team than McLaren – Magnussen
  • V8 Supercars threatens to quit Aus GP weekend
  • Ricciardo: Renault has made only minor progress
  • Sainz Jr: People will 'enjoy' STR battle
  • Haryanto: 'Huge difference' from GP2 to F1
  • Ultra Soft tire to appear at Canadian GP
  • Alex Lynn to Continue as Williams Development Driver

'Flop' qualifying shakeup may not happen
(GMM) F1's new 'musical chairs' qualifying format may not happen at all in 2016.

Earlier, the changes touted to mix up the grid were approved by the F1 Commission, but Bernie Ecclestone subsequently told the Independent newspaper that his software-writers would not have time to be ready for Melbourne.

Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene admits he is no particular fan of the shakeup.

"In my opinion, it is still necessary to understand if it will increase the entertainment or it will be a flop," he told La Stampa newspaper.

In any case, F1 supremo Ecclestone has said 'musical chairs' was also a compromise solution as the teams refused to back his real idea for reverse grids.

Now, he has told Forbes' F1 business journalist Christian Sylt: "We will see if the changes that have been announced get overturned."

Gerard Lopez knows 2016 Renault too slow
Gerard Lopez knows 2016 Renault too slow

Renault to get started on 2017 car – Lopez
(GMM) Renault is likely to start work almost immediately on its car for 2017.

Last week, acknowledging that the 2016 machine is a hastily-compiled version of a car designed by Lotus for a Renault engine, team boss Frederic Vasseur said it would be the wrong approach to simply write off this year.

"Are we going to introduce a more successful car during the season?" he told L'Equipe. "First we will see where we are in Melbourne and then get an idea about what are the clear regulations for 2017."

But engineering chief Alan Permane has told Auto Motor und Sport that the 2016 gearbox, at the very least, will not be re-done.

"We halfway adapted it for the Renault power unit and will try to improve this intermediate solution with a second step," he said.

"But we will not do a new transmission."

Meanwhile, having already worked with Renault power in 2014, Permane gave the changes made by the French marque since then the thumbs up.

"Compared to then (2014) there is no comparison," he said. "The drivability is excellent, and the mood among the engine people is very different.

"They have a plan and are no longer afraid that something will go wrong."

As for Vasseur's intimation that a 'B' car cannot be ruled out, however, that appears wide of the mark.

Still a shareholder in the Enstone team for 2016 is Gerard Lopez and his Genii group, and he suggests that Renault will soon get to work on 2017.

"Unlike many other teams," he said, "we can concentrate fully on the new generation of car for 2017."

Rosberg knows no one is going to touch Mercedes, but he is saying Ferrari will be competitive so fans buy tickets
Rosberg knows no one is going to touch Mercedes, but he is saying Ferrari will be competitive so fans buy tickets

2016 to be Mercedes versus Ferrari – Rosberg
(GMM) Ahead of the final week of pre-season testing, it seems Mercedes and Ferrari are still ahead of the pack in 2016.

Finishing third for the past two years was Williams, but Felipe Massa seemed to acknowledge that the Grove team may not achieve the leap it wants.

"I really hope we can race the guys in front," he told Australia's Fairfax Media, "but maybe Red Bull is in front so we have idea who will really be the team we are going to fight in most of the races."

Massa said his only real prediction so far is that Mercedes is still leading the field, which is backed by evidence in Auto Motor und Sport (Germany) and the BBC (Britain) that suggests the German engine is the most powerful.

Brazilian Massa admits that may not be what the fans want to hear.

"The fans want to see different cars winning races, but this is the most difficult thing for formula one to make it happen," he said.

All eyes, therefore, are on Ferrari, the team with the best chance of taking on Mercedes this year, and Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen both say the 2016 car is better than its predecessor.

"Everyone is going to be saying that their car feels better than last year," Williams' Valtteri Bottas smiled to the Finnish broadcaster MTV.

And analyzing the opening week of testing in Barcelona has proved difficult, with Mercedes reportedly having used only a single engine and no ultra soft tires.

Force India, on the other hand, has been accused of 'showboating'.

"No, we did nothing like that," insisted Sergio Perez when asked if the team had put up artificially fast times by removing all the fuel from the car.

"Our times are completely genuine, even if it is hard for everyone to assess where they are. But I can say that we are moving in the right direction."

All the while, Mercedes appears ahead of the pack.

"There are other teams that have looked good but it will come down to a fight between Ferrari and us," predicted Nico Rosberg, according to Le Figaro.

As to which of them is the strongest, Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene thinks more will be known after this week's last four days of pre-season testing in Barcelona.

"According to our drivers and engineers, we have a good car," he told La Stampa newspaper.

"But we still lack the comparison with Mercedes under identical conditions. I guess in the next four days of testing, we will get a clearer picture of where we stand," Arrivabene said.

Kevin Magnussen knows working under miserable Ron Dennis is not a happy time
Kevin Magnussen knows working under miserable Ron Dennis is not a happy time

Renault 'happier' team than McLaren – Magnussen
(GMM) Renault is a "happier" team than McLaren-Honda, even though they may be fighting over the same piece of track in 2016.

That is the view of Kevin Magnussen, who was dropped by McLaren at the end of last year and signed up for 2016 by Renault's new works team.

With McLaren apparently still struggling with its works Honda power, and Renault having taken over the near-collapsed Lotus at the eleventh hour, many insiders are tipping that the teams may be similarly competitive – or uncompetitive – this year.

But Dane Magnussen says the atmosphere in the respective camps is markedly different.

"There is a big difference," he is quoted by Spain's laf1.es.

"The first thing you notice is that the people at Renault seem happier. The atmosphere is more positive and people have faith in the team.

"When I was at McLaren, the team was down, but Renault is a team on the rise and you can notice how that affects the people," added Magnussen.

However, he insists that while he was unceremoniously dumped by McLaren, he bears no grudge.

"I still talk to some people at McLaren," said the 23-year-old. "I have no problem with them. There are very few people at McLaren I have trouble with."

Another man who might be forgiven for bearing ill feelings about McLaren is Dave Ryan, who has returned to F1 this year after an absence with Manor.

Formerly McLaren's sporting director, Ryan was sacked in 2009 amid the 'lie-gate' scandal, involving a controversial meeting between the stewards and then team driver Lewis Hamilton.

"I've a completely clear conscience about what happened at McLaren and that didn't enter my mind for a second when I agreed to join Manor," he told The Sun.

Honda's struggles means Manor, a backmarker with the title-winning Mercedes engine this year, could actually be racing the famous British team in 2016.

"Of course, if we can compete with them (McLaren) occasionally then it would be fantastic," said Ryan, "but the reality of the situation is they ought to be at the front end of the grid.

"McLaren is a bit of a sleeping giant at the moment. They haven't had a good few years and last year was particularly difficult, but they've got the potential to get it right."

V8 Supercars threatens to quit Aus GP weekend
(GMM) The premier Australian motor racing series is threatening to quit the country's annual grand prix weekend.

V8 Supercars, the popular touring car series, has a contract to race in support of the formula one main-event in Melbourne until 2018.

But currently, Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management (FOM) reportedly does not allow the V8 Supercars support-race to count towards its own championship.

"Obviously we'll fulfil our contract but beyond that I can't see us racing there unless it's a championship round," V8 Supercars chief executive James Warburton told Fairfax Media.

V8 Supercars is highly popular in Australia, and so local F1 race organizers the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) are lobbying hard to fix the problem.

"Once again, contractual complexities got in the way, so we weren't able to achieve it for this year, but we're continually open and optimistic for the future," said AGPC chief Andrew Westacott.

Fairfax claims money is also an issue, with V8 Supercars' current F1 contract worth $1.7 per year — $1 million less than an earlier agreement.

It is just the latest criticism aimed towards F1 supremo Ecclestone's FOM in recent days, following the 'musical chairs' qualifying farce and Romain Grosjean revealing he was asked by FOM to take videos down from his social media accounts.

V8 Supercars says it is under pressure from new race hosts who want to have championship rounds of the championship.

"It's a big expense any time our teams go to a circuit and we can have much more profitable weekends elsewhere, especially a new event," Warburton said.

Daniel Ricciardo in the Renault powered Red Bull at Barcelona
Daniel Ricciardo in the Renault powered Red Bull at Barcelona

Ricciardo: Renault has made only minor progress
Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo says engine supplier Renault has made minor progress across the course of the winter but that there will be no "game-changer" in terms of the squad's form early in 2016.

Red Bull slumped to fourth in the standings amid performance and reliability issues from Renault in 2015 and the relationship between the parties deteriorated, with the power units rebranded as TAG Heuer for 2016.

Ricciardo admits that Red Bull adopted a conservative approach during last week's test, limiting the visibility of Renault's gains, but does not expect to enjoy a leap forwards at the start of 2016.

"We have seen on the data that there's a bit more power," he told selected media, including GPUpdate.net.

"But we're running quite conservative still for reliability reasons. I think come Melbourne if we have a clean eight days' testing and we're comfortable with reliability we should see a bigger step there.

"But we're not going to start the season with all our eggs in one basket. We will have more than we ended last year, but it's not going to be a game-changer in the first few races."

Renault's development was limited throughout 2015 but when asked if he was confident that the marque can bring gains mid-season, Ricciardo replied: "Yeah, I am.

"Obviously it wasn't really the case last year. We had little bits [from Renault] here and there but it wasn't big steps that we were obviously hoping for.

"This year I have a lot more confidence that we'll have steps, obvious ones."

Carlos Sainz Jr.
Carlos Sainz Jr.

Sainz Jr: People will 'enjoy' STR battle
Carlos Sainz Jr. says people will "enjoy" his battle with Toro Rosso team-mate Max Verstappen this year as the pair prepare for their second seasons in Formula 1.

Sainz Jr. placed 15th in his maiden year in the sport, while Verstappen finished three positions higher and captured the attention courtesy of a sequence of high profile overtakes and Grand Prix results.

When asked by GPUpdate.net whether their relationship had changed across the past year, Sainz replied: "I consider last year as a really positive year.

"I don't really mind about the headlines as that is something you cannot control, what I could control last year everything was done well for a rookie year.

"The relationship with Max is as good as always, last year we had a brilliant relationship, this year for the moment it's still the same, and hopefully it will stay like this for the whole year.

"[There is] nothing to worry about, we both look for our own interest, we will both push like hell as always to impress everyone and have good years and I think people will enjoy it a lot."

Rio Haryanto had check, is driving
Rio Haryanto had check, is driving

Haryanto: 'Huge difference' from GP2 to F1
Manor driver Rio Haryanto says that he is still getting used to the "huge difference" in terms of the amount of personnel at a Formula 1 team compared to a junior outfit.

Haryanto has linked up with Manor for his maiden Formula 1 campaign and last week sampled the MRT05 across two days at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

"It's really interesting, coming from GP2 to F1, it's a huge difference," he explained.

"In GP2 you only work with maybe two engineers but in Formula 1 you have to work with minimum 30 or 40 engineers so a lot of people involved

"[There are also] a lot of procedures I have to follow as well, so it's a big change, by time I will get used to it."

Haryanto added that spending four seasons in GP2 has aided him in understanding Pirelli's tires.

"I'm sure there is a difference in the structure and the compound, but overall the degradation and the style is pretty similar," he commented.

"GP2 and GP3 was a good school for me."

Vettel exits pits on purple super-soft tires
Vettel exits pits on purple super-soft tires

Ultra Soft tire to appear at Canadian GP
Pirelli has announced that its new Ultra Soft compound tire will feature at the Canadian Grand Prix in June.

The purple-marked tire will be used alongside the Super Soft and Soft compounds during the Canadian GP weekend, with teams to be given one set of the Ultra Soft tires for Q3 in Montreal.

Pirelli has already announced its tire allocation for the opening four races of the season, however under new rules for 2016, the tire supplier must give teams 14 weeks notice ahead of flyaway races.

Pirelli has yet to announce its selection for the Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix.

For 2016, each driver will receive 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.

Pirelli's 2016 tire choices so far:

Australia – Super Soft / Soft / Medium
Bahrain – Super Soft / Soft / Medium
China – Super Soft / Soft / Medium
Russia – Super Soft / Soft / Medium
Spain – N/A
Monaco – N/A
Canada – Ultra Soft / Super Soft / Soft

Alex Lynn's check was only big enough to be a development driver. However, he won't get to actually drive a race car
Alex Lynn's check was only big enough to be a development driver.

Alex Lynn to Continue as Williams Development Driver
WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING is pleased to confirm that Alex Lynn will be continuing as the Williams Development Driver for the 2016 Formula One World Championship season, a position he held throughout 2015 alongside his GP2 commitments.

Alex had a positive first season with Williams, undertaking a significant simulator program and full immersion project with the team, which included an official Formula One test in Barcelona. In his continuing role, Alex will be given time to focus on mounting a serious title challenge in his second season of GP2, in conjunction with working in the factory to support the development of the team’s race cars. Alex will also take part in various marketing activities for Williams Martini Racing.

Alex began his single-seater career in Formula Renault UK, dominating the 2011 championship with a record 12 wins from 20 race starts. He was subsequently named British Club Driver of the Year at the Autosport Awards. Two successful seasons in Formula 3 followed including the 2013 FIA European Championship where he claimed third in the overall standings and was crowned Rookie Champion. Alex ended the year with a dominant victory in the coveted Macau F3 Grand Prix. In 2014, Alex wrapped up the GP3 title with a record points margin before graduating last year to the GP2 Championship for his debut season, finishing sixth with two pole positions and two race wins.

Commenting on the announcement Alex Lynn said: “I am really delighted to continue in my Development Driver role with the team this season and remain grateful for their on-going support. I relish the opportunity to build on the hard work I put in last year, to continue helping develop the Formula One car and gaining further knowledge of the inner workings of the Williams team from both a technical and human perspective.

“With the team’s blessing and support, my main focus this season will be to fight for the GP2 title. I am determined to prove myself worthy of graduating to become a fully-fledged Formula One race driver at some point in the not too distant future."

Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal of Williams, said; “After a really encouraging first season with the team, we are pleased to be able to continue working with Alex in 2016. Alex played an important role in helping develop the team’s race cars in 2015, while at the same time demonstrating his talent with a strong debut season in GP2. We’re looking forward to seeing him progress this year, both within the team and as he fights for the GP2 title."

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