Latest F1 news in brief – Monday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

02/22/16

  • Ron Dennis knows McLaren Honda not ready to win yet
    Ron Dennis knows McLaren Honda not ready to win yet

    Dennis not predicting McLaren-Honda wins yet

  • Correspondent disappointed with 2016 Williams
  • Baldisserri 'does not ask Mick' about Schumacher health
  • Father launches Jules Bianchi kart
  • Ecclestone son-in-law faces jail
  • F1 'the worst it has ever been' – Ecclestone
  • Wehrlein is 'lead driver' at Manor – Ryan
  • Hartstein attacks Ecclestone after interview
  • Formula 1 Ticket Prices For 17 Of This Year's 21 Races Show Sport Remain Pricey
  • McLaren F1 Names Richard Mille Its New Watch Sponsor In 10-Year Deal
  • 2016 field an 'evolution' of last year New
  • No early-season crisis for Force India in 2016 New
  • Hulkenberg no fan of closing F1 cockpit New
  • Debut shock as Haas front wing fails New
  • No 'huge step' for Red Bull in 2016 – Newey New
  • F1 set for another key meeting over future New

Can the new McLaren Honda win races?
Can the new McLaren Honda win races?

Dennis not predicting McLaren-Honda wins yet
(GMM) McLaren-Honda did not set any performance targets as the Anglo-Japanese collaboration launched its 2016 car on Sunday.

The world of F1, including hundreds of media representatives, has gathered at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, where on Monday the first of just eight days of pre-season testing begins.

Spain's El Mundo is calling it 'grand prix zero' on the 21-race 2016 race calendar.

On Sunday, Ferrari had the track to itself for 'filming', but also given its first laps was the closely Ferrari-linked new American team's car.

In grey, black and red, the VF16 – resembling not only a 2016 Ferrari but also obviously similar to last year's Mercedes – was shaken down by Romain Grosjean.

"We're a new team," said boss Gunther Steiner, "so we looked at what the successful teams were doing to give us a baseline of the direction we needed to go with our design."

At the same time, photos were hitting the internet of Sauber's 2016 livery, and the graphite grey McLaren-Honda.

The McLaren drew a lot of attention, as according to the correspondent for Brazil's Globo, Livio Oricchio, "What we saw last season was one of the greatest failures of a partnership in formula one history".

Both McLaren and Honda are expecting more for 2016, but "I'm not about to make any over-optimistic predictions," team driver Jenson Button insisted.

"Formula one is too unpredictable for me to do that, but what I've seen so far, the aero detailing on the car looks fantastic."

As for the engine, Honda's Yasuhisa Arai confirmed that the turbo in particular has been improved, but "We won't know exactly where we stand until we reach the end of the two tests".

Ron Dennis insists McLaren and Honda remain "united" in the desire to win.

"We'll make no predictions as to when those wins will come, but I can say without fear of contradiction that every member of our team has worked with truly relentless dedication over the past few months," the McLaren supremo declared.

According to Finnish F1 pundit Ossi Oikarinen, McLaren is right to be cautious.

"I don't think they can be fighting for top positions in 2016," the broadcaster told MTV. "The front of the grid is still quite far away for them."

The next question is whether Fernando Alonso can stay motivated through another year of struggle.

"If he can't," smiled former F1 driver Mika Salo, "he should improve his mood by looking in his bank account."

Does the new Williams go far enough?
Does the new Williams go far enough?

Correspondent disappointed with 2016 Williams
(GMM) Livio Oricchio, a leading F1 correspondent, has admitted to some disappointment at the sight of Williams' new car for 2016.

While Ferrari is taking an obviously bold step in its bid to beat Mercedes this year with an innovative car, Williams' FW38 looks almost identical to its predecessor.

That is despite the fact driver Valtteri Bottas, who almost completed a switch to Ferrari for 2016, is pushing the British team for race wins this year.

"Unlike the impression left by the new Ferrari," Oricchio wrote in Globo Esporte, "it seems the new Williams is only an evolution of the car used by Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas in the last two seasons.

"And the FW37 was already showing clear signs in the second half of last year of having reached the limit of its development," he added.

Deputy team boss Claire Williams, however, has said the car will be substantially updated before Melbourne.

And at the same time, Mercedes has released photos of its title-defending 2016 car that – like the Williams – also seems very similar to the old car.

But technical boss Paddy Lowe explained: "While the car may look very similar to its predecessor from the outside, underneath there are quite a lot of mini-revolutions that make up an overall evolution for the new season."

Images of the new Red Bull were also released early on Monday ahead of its Barcelona debut, cementing the trend for cars that are visibly just evolutions of their predecessors.

"With the stable regulations we have at the moment," designer Adrian Newey said, "it's difficult to find any major new areas to exploit."

Mick Schumacher
Mick Schumacher

Baldisserri 'does not ask Mick' about Schumacher health
(GMM) Luca Baldisserri, an engineer who formerly worked closely with F1 legend Michael Schumacher at Ferrari, has confirmed he is now overseeing the career of the great German's son Mick.

Baldisserri recently left Ferrari in order to mentor new Williams development driver Lance Stroll, who drives for the Ferrari-linked Italian F3 team Prema.

Schumacher, 16, has also now joined Prema to race for the outfit in Formula 4.

Baldisserri said it has not been decided yet if the youngster will race in the Italian or German series in 2016.

"The rules allow us to withhold our decision until the beginning of the season," he told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Baldisserri said he sees a lot of pressure being put on Schumacher by his famous surname.

"Mick is just a teenager, but everything he does already is compared with his father. This is not easy for a boy but he nevertheless has to deal with it."

As for any insight Baldisserri might have into the health condition of Schumacher's seven time world champion father, he insisted: "The rules are clear: Mick says nothing about his father and I do not ask.

"I respect the privacy of the family.

"Mick had the support of his father when he started karting some years ago, as it was a great happiness to him," Baldisserri added.

Meanwhile, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said he has no intention of going to Schumacher's home in Switzerland to visit the stricken F1 legend.

"That's the last thing I would want to do," said the 85-year-old.

"I hear mixed reports about Michael, but I only want to see him again when we can speak face-to-face and have a nice discussion."

Philippe Bianchi (Left)
Philippe Bianchi (Left)

Father launches Jules Bianchi kart
(GMM) Jules Bianchi will race again, thanks to his father who has launched a new kart in the late F1 driver's honor.

According to the French source RMC, the 'JB' kart featuring Bianchi's red and white colors and the now-familiar JB17 tribute, will make its debut this weekend at an international competition.

"It was the wish expressed by Philippe Bianchi last September, that will be fulfilled this weekend at the Lonato circuit in Italy," read the report.

Philippe Bianchi confirmed: "This is the beginning of a beautiful story.

"I hope this will be the chassis for the championship of France but also for the European and world championships," he enthused.

"We really want Jules to be present at the tracks," said Mr. Bianchi.

He continued: "We also want to create a foundation to try to help young drivers who have talent but not a lot of opportunity, so they can have a future in motor sport."

Mr. Bianchi said the current F1 drivers support the initiatives.

Rutland and Ecclestone
Rutland and Ecclestone

Ecclestone son-in-law faces jail
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone's son-in-law is facing up to seven years in jail, according to reports in Britain.

The Sun newspaper said the F1 supremo's daughter Tamara, who is married to former trader Jay Rutland, is "sick with worry" after her 34-year-old husband was arrested, charged and bailed.

He faces a London court next month.

Rutland is accused of helping international drug baron James Tarrant avoid justice when he was on the run, having absconded whilst awaiting serious charges in 2010.

"The accusations are very serious and Jay (34) knows that if he is convicted he could end up going away," a source said.

The source said F1 supremo Ecclestone, 85, is offering his support.

"There is nothing that Bernie would not do for his daughters and he has been a pillar of strength to Jay and Tamara," the source said.

Rutland's spokesman said the 34-year-old "denies the charge and will defend it vigorously".

Ecclestone still unhappy
Ecclestone still unhappy

F1 'the worst it has ever been' – Ecclestone
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has sided with Sebastian Vettel rather than reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton over the current state of formula one.

Ferrari's Vettel declared last week that F1 is no longer "about the sport and which driver is the fastest" amid the new era of "far too complex" technical regulations.

The quadruple world champion added: "The dominance of Mercedes has taken away the excitement for many fans".

Hamilton, the reigning triple world champion who with Mercedes has dominated the controversial 'power unit' era so far, hit back at Vettel.

"It's pretty funny because he had four years of it and I've only had two," he told Britain's Sky television. "Until I get to his level I won't have bored them as much as he had!"

However, F1 supremo Ecclestone appears to agree entirely with Vettel, pointing the finger directly at teams like Mercedes who are reluctant to agree to sweeping rule changes for 2017.

Ecclestone also said there is "no chance" F1 teams will meet the March 1 deadline to agree to sweeping 2017 changes.

"Most of the participants are only thinking about what's good for them in the short term," he told the Daily Mail. "Long term for most of those people is two or three races.

"The result is that formula one is the worst it has ever been. I wouldn't spend my money to take my family to watch a race. No way," Ecclestone added.

"What's the point when you pretty much know – and the bookmakers know, and they're not stupid – that Lewis Hamilton will probably put the car on pole and more likely than not win the race, and the other Mercedes will be on the podium?"

Nico Rosberg – Hamilton's teammate – hit back at the critics by insisting they are not "respectful" enough when it comes to Mercedes' achievements in dominating F1 for the past two years.

But Ecclestone is not only critical of Mercedes, as he also pointed a finger of blame at Jean Todt, the FIA president who he says is more focused on road safety than the state of F1.

"He should carry on with the other stuff, but hand over responsibility for formula one to someone else," he said. "I am going to speak to him about it."

As part of the deal to get Mercedes engines, Manor has made Pascal Wehrlein #1
As part of the deal to get Mercedes engines, Manor has made Pascal Wehrlein #1

Wehrlein is 'lead driver' at Manor – Ryan
(GMM) Although just a rookie, Pascal Wehrlein has been given the lead role at Manor for 2016.

With Mercedes' backing, the reigning DTM champion will make his F1 debut this year for the newly Mercedes-powered backmarker team.

Wehrlein, 21, will be partnered at Manor by fellow rookie Rio Haryanto, who is bringing millions to the team in the form of Indonesian state-linked backing.

Dave Ryan, the former McLaren man who is now Manor's racing director, told Auto Motor und Sport: "He (Wehrlein) will take the lead role with us. And I'm sure he'll do a good job.

"Pascal is excellently prepared for formula one. He has already collected proper F1 experience at Mercedes, and his laptimes compared well to the regular drivers," he added.

The German report said Wehrlein will debut the 2016 Manor car, also featuring a Williams gearbox and suspension, at Barcelona on Monday.

The new Manor has been spotted in the Circuit de Catalunya garages with prominent 'Pertamina' branding, the Indonesian state-owned oil company.

"If we are serious," said Ryan, "championship points must be our goal."

Dr. Gary Hartstein lights into Ecclestone
Dr. Gary Hartstein lights into Ecclestone

Hartstein attacks Ecclestone after interview
(GMM) Former F1 doctor Gary Hartstein has launched a stinging attack on the sport's 'supremo' Bernie Ecclestone.

The tirade on Twitter follows 85-year-old Ecclestone having declared to the Daily Mail newspaper that the sport is "the worst it has ever been".

"I wouldn't spend my money to take my family to watch a race. No way," he declared.

Hartstein's relationship with Ecclestone and also the FIA hit rock bottom after he was replaced as F1 doctor and became an outspoken critic.

"I know I'll never get another pass but I don't care," the American declared on Monday.

Ecclestone thinks F1's problems are caused by the rules and Mercedes' dominance and the fact that many stakeholders are now reluctant to agree change.

Hartstein said: "Note to Bernie: Mercedes power unit has 47pc thermal efficiency. This is a stunning engineering achievement and should be common knowledge.

"Note to Bernie: the sport is loud and sexy and full of drama. It would however appear to be owned and run by petulant spoiled preadolescents.

"We want racing. Not yammering. Not fools cancelling German Italian and French GPs.

"Note to Bernie: you should be able to make next month's rent. Stop sucking the blood from the sport and let it breathe. Listen to the fans.

"The sport is successful despite all of the stupidity/cupidity/narcissism/greed of the powers that be," Hartstein added.

Formula 1 Ticket Prices For 17 Of This Year's 21 Races Show Sport Remain Pricey
Attending an F1 race "remains a pricey affair in '16," according to Frieder Schilling of SPONSORs. Prices for 17 of this year's 21 races were released on Wednesday and the prices for adult tickets range from $13.40 to $7,460.

The cheapest ticket is available at the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix on Oct. 2. The cheapest tickets give spectators access to an uncovered hill stand area. The most expensive ticket provides ticket holders access to the Paddock Club at the night race in Singapore on Sept. 18.

The prices for the German Grand Prix, which will make its comeback on the F1 calendar, range from $172.50 to $1,446 for a VIP ticket. SPONSORs

Ticket prices for the U.S. Grand Prix have not yet been announced. The race, which is scheduled for Oct. 23 at the Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Texas, remains subject to confirmation after funding issues have put the event in doubt. SBD Global

McLaren F1 Names Richard Mille Its New Watch Sponsor In 10-Year Deal
McLaren signed Richard Mille as its new watch sponsor, "in the wake of its parting of ways with long-time backer TAG Heuer at the end of last season," according to Jonathan Noble of MOTORSPORT.

The Woking-based outfit had been with TAG Heuer for 30 years, but the Swiss company "has moved across to Red Bull and taken naming rights to that team's engines."

Richard Mille has concluded a 10-year deal to join McLaren, which will mean Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button will wear its watches.

The watch brand previously backed the Lotus team "as well as supporting the late Jules Bianchi" MOTORSPORT

The new Toro Rosso, as yet unpainted
The new Toro Rosso, as yet unpainted

2016 field an 'evolution' of last year
(GMM) Up and down the Barcelona paddock, the buzzword is "evolution".

With the exception of Sauber, all the 2016 cars have now been revealed, including – on Monday – the Manor, Renault and all-blue Toro Rosso.

It is even being said that Mercedes' title-winning car is obviously very similar to its predecessor.

"It feels very much like last year's car," said Lewis Hamilton as he began testing on Monday.

"There are a few bits here and there but generally it's the same," he told Britain's Sky.

But team boss Toto Wolff said more and more "innovations" will be brought to the new silver racer throughout the eight days of testing.

"Even those that can be seen from the outside," promised designer Aldo Costa.

"We have taken almost nothing from the old car," he told Auto Motor und Sport, "as the stability in the regulations forces you to explore the limit in every area."

Indeed, the German team reportedly plans to squeeze 12 days' worth of testing into the 8 available days, meaning up to 800 kilometers per day for the W07.

So if it proves too much for Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg, "then we can put Pascal Wehrlein or Esteban Ocon in the car," Wolff revealed.

Another new car seeing the light of day on Monday was the Force India, which is an evolution of the 'B' machine launched mid last season.

But Nico Hulkenberg insisted: "The car is different from last year: if you look carefully, you can see the difference.

"As I've said, today we are not showing everything — the differences will become more obvious in the future," he added.

So far so good for Force India
So far so good for Force India

No early-season crisis for Force India in 2016
(GMM) Force India has avoided repeating the crisis of last winter.

A year ago, the Silverstone based team's early campaign was derailed by financial problems, reportedly as suppliers refused to release work due to unpaid bills.

"Because of what happened with Caterham and Marussia, some suppliers tightened the thumbscrews," sporting director Otmar Szafnauer told Auto Motor und Sport.

But as the 2016 car was revealed and debuted on time in Barcelona on Monday, it became clear that those troubles are over for now.

"We have done a better job of having the money available at the right time, even though our budget is similar to last year," Szafnauer said.

Another reason for Force India's better preparation for 2016 is that, for the first time, the team has manufactured its chassis fully in-house.

Money, however, is obviously still tight, as Force India has accepted the checks of development driver Alfonso Celis rather than allowing Nico Hulkenberg or Sergio Perez give the VJM09 its track debut on Monday.

"Of course it's not ideal," Hulkenberg admitted, "but today is only the first day and the real work will be done later.

"The second day hurts more but it was a decision of the team that I have to accept and cope with."

Mexican Perez agrees, smiling: "I hear the forecast is better for tomorrow."

Celis, a Mexican teen, has also been promised seven Friday practice sessions this year.

Asked if he and Perez will alternate giving up their cockpits, Hulkenberg confirmed: "Yes, that's the plan. But I've had to give my car to another driver on Fridays in the past and it was not a big deal."

Nico Rosberg
Nico Rosberg

Hulkenberg no fan of closing F1 cockpit
(GMM) Nico Hulkenberg has admitted he is not among those who support the closing of the cockpits in formula one.

It is believed F1 is close to adopting the so-called 'halo' concept for 2017, to reduce the risk of head injuries.

GPDA chief Alex Wurz had said the initiative has the full support of the drivers, but Hulkenberg said: "For me it's a personal thing, but I just think formula one cars should remain open."

Asked if he simply doesn't like the look of the 'halo', he added: "No, nothing like that. I just think that in general, open-wheel cockpits should be open."

Hulkenberg's view is interesting given that, in 2015, he won Le Mans with the closed-cockpit Porsche, but he explained: "That's something else. Prototypes have always looked like that.

"Single seaters were always open and they should stay open," the German added.

New Haas has expected teething problems
New Haas has expected teething problems

Debut shock as Haas front wing fails
(GMM) Haas got a rude welcome to formula one as testing began on Monday.

On the unlucky 13th lap of the American team's new F1 adventure, the front nose of the car driven by Romain Grosjean catastrophically failed at 320kph.

"Suddenly the front of the car went up in the air," the Frenchman is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

The incident was also seen first-hand by Grosjean's teammate Esteban Gutierrez, who was watching the action from the first corner.

But team boss Gunther Steiner played it down.

"New parts for the wing attachment are already on the way," he said. "Tomorrow we go back to normal."

Reportedly, the new car is otherwise on the pace of the midfield, and Steiner is happy.

"Everything was fine," he said. "The temperatures, the suspension setup, the pressures…"

Many eyes were also on the performance of McLaren-Honda's new car on Monday, after the collaboration's disastrous showing in 2015.

There are still rumors that only a massive improvement will be enough to keep Fernando Alonso at the team, but Jenson Button was almost three seconds off Sebastian Vettel's pace on Monday.

Team boss Eric Boullier told the Guardian: "Fernando's ok. He's happy. He has our numbers.

"Ok, 35 laps is not the best but it is better than last year."

New Red Bull
New Red Bull

No 'huge step' for Red Bull in 2016 – Newey
(GMM) Adrian Newey on Monday admitted he does not expect Red Bull to take a "huge step forward" in 2016.

After the engine supply crisis of late last year, the team has returned to F1 for the new year with rebranded Renault power.

But designer Newey is optimistic.

"I think our engine supplier had a good winter," he is quoted by Speed Week.

"The gap to the top is still significant, but (at Renault) there are new people, more budget, a different approach, and all that should help us to close the gap slowly but surely."

That aside, Newey admitted that 2016 is unlikely to be the breakthrough return to title contention for Red Bull.

"We are in the third year of these regulations, which I think are quite restrictive," he said. "So I do not expect a huge step forward.

"But we have learned some lessons from 2015 and made certain changes to the car that caused problems with the handling. We developed the car well last year and want to keep it going in 2016," Newey added.

F1 set for another key meeting over future
(GMM) Another important meeting will take place regarding F1's future this week.

While the main eyes are on the track action in Barcelona, the sport's top figures will soon head to Geneva where the car and engine rules for 2017 and beyond will be discussed once again.

Earlier, Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt seemed hand-in-hand in their pursuit of sweeping changes, but now the proposed 'client engine' has been dropped as the engine manufacturers made some concessions.

But Red Bull team boss Christian Horner told Auto Motor und Sport: "The FIA should have kept the client engine as leverage."

F1 supremo Ecclestone has described the behavior of the manufacturers as a "cartel", and Horner agrees: "They want to work out between them who gets what engine.

"Then each team has to commit for three years without knowing exactly what specification he's getting."

Red Bull designer Rob Marshall agrees that the engine suppliers are too powerful.

"I'm hearing talk of customers – not us – who receive the same engines as the factory team, which may be the case when it comes to hardware," he told Speed Week.

"But the difference is not about the tangible material, it's about the electronics, the software. Press a few buttons and you've got completely different performance," he added.

As for the earlier plans for much faster cars for 2017, even that is now up in the air as the discussions continue to result in likely compromise.

"It is completely unclear what will happen" at the meeting, said Horner, "but it should be an exciting day."

Red Bull designer Adrian Newey told Speed Week: "I hope there will be some agreement.

"The greatest danger, in my view, is that the teams will decide out of selfishness rather than the big picture. For the good of the sport, we now need a strong federation," he added.

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