Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Renault bought Lotus for $1
    Renault bought Lotus for $1

    Renault bought back Lotus for 1 pound

  • Mercedes considers 'unleashing' driver rivalry – Wolff
  • Sirotkin admits F1 test role possible
  • Red Bull cannot be written off – Wolff
  • Button was headed for 2014 retirement – Magnussen
  • Verstappen wants 100 points and podium in 2016
  • F1 set for 'closer' 2016 battle – Gutierrez
  • Verstappen chooses son Max over Le Mans return

Renault bought back Lotus for 1 pound
(GMM) French carmaker Renault bought back its former works team Lotus for a single British pound.

That is the finding of F1 business journalist Christian Sylt, who wrote in the Telegraph that company documents show only 1 pound actually changed hands as Renault bought a 90 per cent stake in the Enstone based team.

In the fallout of the so-called 'crash-gate' scandal at the end of last decade, Renault had sold its formerly championship-winning works team to the private equity firm Genii.

Sylt, writing with Caroline Reid, added that Genii recorded a $274 million loss between buying the team and selling it back to Renault just before Christmas.

Genii has, however, now retained a 10 per cent stake, with the firm's Eric Lux also revealing that the team is "in discussion with several parties for a long-term title sponsorship".

Has Wolff gone mad?
Has Wolff gone mad?

Mercedes considers 'unleashing' driver rivalry – Wolff
(GMM) Mercedes is considering unleashing the rivalry between teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, in a bid to spice up formula one.

For the past two years amid the German marque's utter dominance, the silver-clad drivers have dueled for the title effectively alone.

But boss Toto Wolff warned before Christmas that he would have to consider changing the lineup if the bitterness of the rivalry ever spilled into team spirit.

However, he has now told the Mail on Sunday: "Our dominance is bad for formula one. It makes the racing boring.

"The moment you become a dominant force, you suffer and your brand suffers. You become the dark side of the force," said Wolff.

"So I want the dominance to continue but if it were to continue like this, I need to think what to do so we do not become the enemy and how we can help the show.

"Maybe it's about unleashing the two of them (Hamilton and Rosberg) completely. That would be a solution."

An example, he admitted, would be to let each side of the garage control its own race strategy, which would be a vast shift from the approach of 2014 and 2015.

Nonetheless, Wolff insisted that it will still be important that the tough battles between Hamilton and Rosberg remain focused on the track.

"I don't want fighting in the team," he said. "I'd like the boxers to fight but not the trainers and the physios and everybody around the ring.

"I'd like the boxers to behave like boxers who fight very hard but after the fight has finished, you can be a sportsman and embrace your enemy. But the dilemma is there. It is easy when it is theory," said Wolff.

Sergey Sirotkin
Sergey Sirotkin

Sirotkin admits F1 test role possible
(GMM) Sergey Sirotkin has played down speculation he is definitely set to return to prominence in formula one next year.

When still a teenager, the Russian leapt into the headlines in 2013 when he was part of a proposed buyout deal at Sauber.

The deal never happened, but in 2015 Sirotkin – now 20 – moved into the F1 feeder series GP2 and finished the championship in a credible third place.

He is now tipped to switch to the title-winning ART team for 2016.

"I am glad that I will continue to race in GP2," he told Russia's Sportbox. "Regarding ART, there is nothing to announce as negotiations are underway.

"All I can say is that next season my goal is the title," Sirotkin announced. "After third place there can be nothing else."

Recently, the former manager of Vitaly Petrov, Oksana Kosachenko, revealed that another Russian will be in the F1 paddock next year, possibly as a test driver.

"We have a definite offer, and not just one," Sirotkin said when asked about the comments. "But we all understand what it rests upon.

"Therefore, if we find the required financial support, maybe I'll be a test driver in F1. But most of all I think she (Kosachenko) was talking about someone else.

"But yes, there is an opportunity, and perhaps we're even closer to this goal than the others," he added.

Will Adrian Newey design a winner for 2016?
Will Adrian Newey design a winner for 2016?

Red Bull cannot be written off – Wolff
(GMM) Toto Wolff has tipped Red Bull to commence a process of rebuilding as the brand races back to the front in formula one.

The energy drink company's premier F1 outfit dominated the sport with every title between 2010 and 2013, faltering only when engine supplier Renault struggled at the commencement of the new 'power unit' era.

That new era has been dominated from the first lap by Mercedes, who this year ruled out supplying Red Bull with its impressive turbo V6 technology for 2016.

So 2015 ends with a sense of palpable tension between the two camps, with Red Bull's Christmas card featuring Mercedes boss Wolff being mowed down by Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat driving a foot-powered Flintstones car.

"If everything is peace, love and pancakes, that's just not formula one," Wolff is quoted by the Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten.

He insisted sport is not the most important thing in the world, so "You have to take it with humor".

And he warned that Red Bull, although to be powered by Tag Heuer-branded Renault engines next year, regards 2016 as a transitional year on the road back to recovery.

Wolff suggested that it might be a good move by Red Bull ahead of the sweeping rule changes for 2017, as there is an advantage to gain "the earlier you start" on new rules.

"One must never make the mistake of writing off Red Bull," he added.

Jenson Button
Jenson Button

Button was headed for 2014 retirement – Magnussen
(GMM) Kevin Magnussen has revealed the deep shock of discovering at the eleventh hour that his F1 career was stalling after just one year.

In 2014, the Dane's fledgling career was racing towards the end of its debut year with promising early form and – according to him – the certainty of more to come.

"I was told that it was my seat" for 2015, Magnussen told the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet. "That I didn't need to worry.

"I can't remember exactly when it was, but it was at the end of the season."

According to the 23-year-old, what ultimately transpired is that, having already signed up Fernando Alonso for 2015, McLaren changed its mind about pairing the highly-rated Spaniard with Magnussen.

Magnussen admits he finished 2014 with a couple of bad outings, just as his teammate at the time, Jenson Button, stepped into a high gear of form.

"Jenson had his two best races at the end," Magnussen said. "He did really well. But he (Button) had also hung photos of his entire career in his room. He had a helmet ready to go that said 'Goodbye' on it.

"He was driving only to have fun and enjoy his last two races without stress or pressure, believing 100 per cent that he was done in formula one," claimed Magnussen.

What happened next, he said, was that McLaren changed its plans completely, pulling Button from the brink of retirement and leaving Magnussen on the reserve bench for 2015.

A year after that, McLaren dispensed with the Dane completely.

Via the media, he has exchanged a few barbs with McLaren supremo Ron Dennis, particularly over his alleged ousting by email, but is now prepared to move on.

"Formula one is a hard world," said Magnussen. "If you can't handle it, you have to find something else to do. It could have been done with better style I think, but so what? I don't care."

And he especially has no hard feelings for Button, who will once again line up alongside Alonso in 2016.

"Jenson is one of the best and there's nothing (negative) between us," said Magnussen. "We are in the same sport and competing for the same seats. There is full respect.

"I know why he got the seat and there's nothing between him and me at all."

Magnussen has toyed with a switch to Le Mans for 2016, but it is believed he is closer to stepping into the premier German touring car series DTM with Mercedes.

As for McLaren, he said: "McLaren is not fast enough to win anything right now, so in the end it's not where I want to be.

"But I think they have a good chance to come back if they are willing to change some things. For me, it wasn't to be and now I am starting afresh."

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen

Verstappen wants 100 points and podium in 2016
(GMM) Max Verstappen has confirmed reports he is determined to "aim high" in 2016.

This year, the teenage Dutchman had one of the most memorable rookie seasons in the history of the sport, wowing with his overtakes and amassing an impressive tally of 49 points.

But he wants to double that feat for 2016, as Toro Rosso switches from its underpowered Renault to this year's specification of the Ferrari power unit.

When asked about that ambitious target, Verstappen told the Dutch broadcaster NOS: "Yeah, 100 points. You have to aim high, right?"

Just 18 years old, he said another target for 2016 is his first podium finish, which would smash the current record held by Sebastian Vettel, who was 21 when he finished a grand prix in the top three for the first time.

"For third place you would need a good engine," Verstappen explained. "First or second place I think is too much for now — you also have to be realistic."

F1 set for 'closer' 2016 battle – Gutierrez
(GMM) Esteban Gutierrez thinks formula one is set for a more exciting season in 2016.

This year, the fight at the front was monopolized by the utter dominance of Mercedes, as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg shared 16 of the 19 wins between them.

But Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda told La Gazzetta dello Sport that Ferrari is "on the right path to make even further progress" in 2016.

Mexican Gutierrez was Ferrari's reserve driver in 2015, and he told the Spanish sports daily Marca: "Personally I believe that it is going to be closer between the first three or four teams" in 2016.

"There is the news about the return of Renault," he added, "although that is more for the following years, but I also believe that McLaren is going to recover.

"It (McLaren) is a very good team and I don't think their car was bad – I'm referring to the chassis – as far as I could tell.

"I believe that a good time for F1 is coming," said Gutierrez, the former Sauber driver who is returning to the grid next year with the new American team Haas.

Jos Verstappen (L) and son Max
Jos Verstappen (L) and son Max

Verstappen chooses son Max over Le Mans return
(GMM) Jos Verstappen will not race at Le Mans next year as he prefers instead to focus on supporting the F1 career of his son Max.

Since his last grand prix in 2003, Jos has contested the fabled 24 hour endurance race a couple of times and was reportedly considering a return for 2016.

But next year, Le Mans is in a controversial scheduling clash with the inaugural European grand prix in Azerbaijan, meaning 2015 winner Nico Hulkenberg cannot defend his title.

And Verstappen, the 43-year-old father of Toro Rosso's teenage sensation, told BNR Nieuwsradio that he will also be in Baku rather than at Le Mans next June.

That is despite the fact that talks with former Le Mans winner Jan Lammers and Frits van Eerd – owner of personal sponsor Jumbo – had taken place about a potential Le Mans foray for 2016.

"It didn't fit into the program this time," Jos revealed.

"At the moment I am concentrating everything on Max. I think it (Le Mans) would be nice of course, and of course I want to race.

"But I think at this moment, Max is most important. I want him to win races, I want him to be world champion," Verstappen snr added.

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