Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Kimi with son Robin and girlfriend Minttu

    Raikkonen to marry, Button splits with wife

  • Pirelli must test to design 2017 tire – Ecclestone
  • Those responsible for Bianchi death 'must pay' – father
  • Merhi assessing F1 'options' for 2016
  • Renault says Maldonado, Palmer to race in 2016
  • Inaugural Baku GP facing yet another clash
  • McLaren-Honda can find 'seconds' this winter – Boullier
  • Hamilton: Rosberg defeats 'a real blessing'

Raikkonen to marry, Button splits with wife
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen looks set to get married for the second time.

The Ferrari driver's partner Minttu, with whom Raikkonen already has a child, wrote on her blog that rumors the pair recently got married in New York are wide of the mark.

Jenson and Jessica to split
Jenson and Jessica to split

"We did not get married but I did find a wedding dress. So next summer I am allowed to call him my husband," she wrote.

Raikkonen, 36, was married to another Finnish model, Jenni Dahlman, in 2004, and they divorced in 2014.

Meanwhile, British newspapers are reporting that another world champion, Jenson Button, has split with his wife Jessica Michibata.

The McLaren-Honda driver and the Japanese model have been together for years, and they got married at the end of 2014.

A spokesman for Button said: "Jenson and Jessica have decided to go their separate ways and it is very amicable. There is no one else involved."

Pirelli will need to test 2017 tires
Pirelli will need to test 2017 tires

Pirelli must test to design 2017 tire – Ecclestone
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone says a dispute between Pirelli and the F1 teams means the sport might not get wider and faster tires for 2017.

It has been reported that while radical changes to the chassis rules are scheduled to arrive for 2017, a new engine formula might need to wait until 2018.

But the F1 supremo told Auto Motor und Sport: "We want the new engines in 2017 as well."

As well as more power and downforce, some of the slashed laptime for 2017 will also come courtesy of Pirelli, who have agreed to build wider tires.

But at the moment, F1's official supplier cannot get the teams to agree a way forward regarding a suitably fast car for tire testing.

"We want cars that are and look more aggressive," Ecclestone admitted. "And one of the ingredients is wider tires.

"We have asked Pirelli to build these tires — it was not their idea. But the tests are a matter between the teams and Pirelli.

"If there is no testing, Pirelli will continue to build the tires we have now," he warned.

Philippe Bianchi (L) says those responsible will pay.
Philippe Bianchi (L) says those responsible will pay.

Those responsible for Bianchi death 'must pay' – father
(GMM) Jules Bianchi's father says he is determined that those responsible for the death of his son will be held accountable.

Regarding the controversial circumstances that led to the Marussia driver crashing into a recovery vehicle at Suzuka last year, Frenchman Bianchi's family engaged a lawyer.

The move came after the FIA presented the findings of its investigation into the incident, in which Frenchman Bianchi – who never woke from a coma and died in hospital in July – was essentially blamed for driving too fast.

"The conclusions shocked me," Bianchi's father Philippe told the French magazine Auto Hebdo, "because the people who did the investigation were the people being investigated.

"Is there no conflict of interest? Can you be the judge and the jury?

"The investigation is one thing, it gave its views, but good questions to ask and the right answers to give are different.

"I said it before and I say it again: if there are those responsible then they must pay. One way or another. I am loud and clear.

"I lost Jules and will never get him back, so I have nothing to lose except his memory and the respect that we should have for him. So I will fight for him with all my strength," Philippe Bianchi added.

Roberto Merhi probably does not have enough money to buy a fulltime F1 ride
Roberto Merhi probably does not have enough money to buy a fulltime F1 ride

Merhi assessing F1 'options' for 2016
(GMM) Roberto Merhi is not ready to give up on his formula one career.

The Spaniard made his F1 debut this year with Manor, but ultimately lost the seat to the better-funded Alexander Rossi.

But speaking to Spanish radio Cadena Cope, the 24-year-old rates his chances of securing another role in formula one next year at "70 per cent".

"We are looking at the options because there are several and we need to choose the best one," Merhi said.

He explained that while he would like to keep racing next year, he does not rule out sitting out a year – perhaps as reserve driver – before returning in 2017.

"Anyway it was an important year," said Merhi, "because I managed to achieve my dream of becoming a formula one driver."

But he said the car he had to race was "old and uncompetitive", and not even up to scratch with the one raced throughout the season by teammate Will Stevens.

But "despite not having scored, the team is very happy with the season. The highlight was Silverstone because at the end of the race I was driving at the same pace as the top ten."

Jonathan Palmer, has check, will race
Jonathan Palmer, has check, will race

Renault says Maldonado, Palmer to race in 2016
(GMM) A Renault source has dismissed speculation the team's new owner may not honor the contracts signed between Lotus and its 2016 drivers.

With the French carmaker having taken control of Enstone after Lotus announced Pastor Maldonado and Jolyon Palmer for next season, recent comments by Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn suggested the pair might not actually race next year.

But according to the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat, a Renault source rejected those rumors, confirming that Briton Palmer and Venezuelan Maldonado will indeed drive in 2016.

The uncertainty also comes amid a scandal involving PDVSA, the Venezuelan state-owned oil company that funds Maldonado's seat to the tune of some $50 million a year.

The Wall Street Journal reported in October that a wide-ranging investigation into PDVSA is taking place, and this week two businessmen were arrested on charges of bribery, wire fraud and money laundering.

A spokesperson for PDVSA did not reply to a request for comment.

Inaugural Baku GP facing yet another clash
(GMM) Race organizers have dismissed suggestions another clash could hurt next year's inaugural race in Azerbaijan.

The country, situated between Russia and Iran, is positioning itself as a European country, having recently hosted the European Games and Eurovision.

Now, although the race will take place in the middle of the capital Baku, Azerbaijan's first grand prix next year will be called the European grand prix.

But the 2016 race was then handed a mid-June date, clashing with the 2016 edition of the famous and increasingly popular Le Mans 24 hours.

Not only that, Baku's race next year will also clash with the popular quadrennial European football championship, UEFA 2016.

"There is the view that F1 fans for the most part are not big football fans," Baku race promoter Arif Rahimov told the Russian news agency Izvestia.

"If that's the case, then I think they will be able to escape from football for a couple of hours to watch formula one. For us, I don't think it's a big problem," he added.

Eric Boullier
Eric Boullier

McLaren-Honda can find 'seconds' this winter – Boullier
(GMM) Eric Boullier says it is possible McLaren-Honda's leap over the winter will amount to multiple seconds per lap.

It was Fernando Alonso who made the original claim that, after a disastrous 2015, finding a whopping 2.5 seconds between now and next season is "realistic".

Many, however, think the Spaniard was simply issuing a veiled warning to McLaren that unless the team makes big progress next year, he may reconsider his commitment to the struggling Anglo-Japanese collaboration.

When asked about Alonso's staggering claim about a 2.5 second per lap leap in 2016, boss Boullier told the Czech portal "Nothing is for sure or guaranteed.

"But we know why we were not competitive this year.

"This new PU (power unit) technology is great, but it needs to mature. When you can't deploy all your electrical power throughout the lap, you lose seconds rather than tenths.

"So if we can fix this issue plus a few others, we will be able to recover a couple of seconds in term of performance," the Frenchman added.

Woking based McLaren made a lot of noise last winter about its self-proclaimed 'size zero' car, and Boullier hints that the same ultra-compact philosophy will be kept for 2016.

"I can just tell you that it will be an evolution of the (MP4-)30 and that the car performance is already a step forward," he said. "For the rest, you will have to wait for the car launch."

Lewis 'I am the greatest' Hamilton may find out next year that Mercedes has decided Rosberg will win the F1 title
Lewis 'I am the greatest' Hamilton may find out next year that Mercedes has decided Rosberg will win the F1 title

Hamilton: Rosberg defeats 'a real blessing'
Lewis Hamilton has described losing out to Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in the final three rounds of the 2015 season as a "real blessing", as he enters the break with renewed motivation.

Hamilton claimed a second successive world title, and third overall, with three races to spare, pouncing on a late Rosberg error at the rain-hit United States Grand Prix to put the result beyond doubt.

Rosberg, upset at the nature of his title loss, bounced back in style, storming to victories at the Mexican, Brazilian and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix, in addition to six straight pole positions.

Hamilton, however, expects the late-season results to spur him on over the winter.

"I'm out in Colorado, already starting to train for next season," explained Hamilton, via a video link, during Sunday night's BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony from Belfast.

"Absolutely my goal [is to claim a fourth world title]. The last couple of races in hindsight have been a real blessing, because they have given me a lot of motivation. I feel great in the car.

"I will be working hard with the engineers and making sure I'm as good as I can be."

Tennis player Andy Murray, who inspired Britain to its first Davis Cup win in 79 years, claimed the 2015 SPOTY award with a 35 per cent vote share, ahead of rugby league star Kevin Sinfield (28 per cent) and heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill (eight per cent). Hamilton, who won in 2014, placed fifth on five per cent.

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