Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

Alonso thinks F1 worries about small teams too much
Alonso thinks F1 worries about small teams too much

12/17/15

  • F1 thinks about small teams too much – Alonso
  • Renault confident Ilmor help will pay off
  • Alonso manager responds after Marchionne jibe
  • Ecclestone: Vettel and Schumacher two completely different individuals
  • Hakkinen: McLaren F1 team painful to watch
  • Felipe Massa Joins Williams Stars at Autosport International
  • Mercedes was 'full blast' for most of 2015 – Wolff New

F1 thinks about small teams too much – Alonso
(GMM) Fernando Alonso says whether he stays in F1 beyond his current contract depends on McLaren-Honda's form and the direction of the sport.

The Spaniard, arguably the best and most highly paid driver on the grid, endured a nightmare 2015 after switching from Ferrari, as the new McLaren-Honda union faltered badly.

But Alonso swept aside talk about a sabbatical for now, amid hopes and rumors that next year's McLaren could be up to two seconds per lap quicker.

"I think that's possible," Alonso's teammate and another former champion, Jenson Button, told the website of the BBC program Top Gear.

"There are certain things that bring a massive amount of laptime that are sorted for next year already, stuff you can't simply bolt on during the season. It's looking very positive," he added.

Button, however, came close to calling time on his entire F1 career during 2015, and it appears Alonso may also be having thoughts about whether or not to stay in the sport.

"You need to be very open to any possibility," said Alonso, whose current contract runs for another two full years.

"Right now I think it's too long ahead to think — let's see what approaches in 18 months' time, whether the targets we met or didn't meet and what the motivations are to keep going in F1."

He admitted that one of his concerns is the basic direction of the sport, as he keenly awaits F1's final decisions about what should be radically different rules for 2017.

"Bigger engines," said Alonso when asked what he wants. "More power. Maybe more aero.

"More freedom for the teams to develop, and more testing. Like F1 was 10 years ago, which is sometimes perceived to be more expensive, which I doubt because the technology now – simulators, for example – increases the cost."

Alonso said he thinks the rules have been tweaked into their current controversial state due to efforts to keep costs down for the smaller teams, which in his opinion may have been a wrong turn.

"If some teams cannot afford to test, well that's natural, it's a sport," said the 34-year-old, who finished the championship 17th and behind even his teammate Button.

"Real Madrid can buy some players and other teams cannot. But they can't say sorry for that. In F1 there is always a need to protect the smaller teams, but if they cannot test, then they cannot test," Alonso added.

Can Mario Illien save Renault?
Can Mario Illien save Renault?

Renault confident Ilmor help will pay off
(GMM) Renault is confident the involvement of Ilmor, led by the renowned F1 engine guru Mario Illien, will help the French manufacturer as it aims to make a big step forward in 2016.

It was at premier customer Red Bull's behest this year that Illien was drafted onto the project, following early problems.

"The first few races, power was one thing (problem)," driver Daniel Ricciardo told the BBC, "but (with the) drivability I was getting a headache from my head getting whiplash.

"There were a lot of splutters going on when I got on the power. That made it nearly impossible to win this year," the Australian added.

Renault cannot hide that early 2016 did not go well.

"We arrived at the first winter test believing that we had made a big step forward between seasons," operations director Remi Taffin said this week. "We genuinely thought that we had done a good job."

But he said that the struggles of 2014 had been so difficult that Renault erred in fixing a "cocktail of problems" for this season.

"We wanted to make up the gap so badly that we pulled the rug out from under our own feet," said Taffin.

For 2016, however, there is optimism.

Renault will continue to supply Red Bull, but the team will be merely an unsponsored customer with re-branded 'Tag-Heuer' power after the relationship broke down in 2015.

The French carmaker, meanwhile, has bought back its former works team that is currently known as Lotus, and Renault will also continue to work with Illien this year.

"We did not see the full extent of the collaboration (with Ilmor) in 2015 for various reasons, but now they are under our control and we have a clearer direction we should see this more in 2016 and beyond," said Taffin.

He said the 2016 unit will be on the dynamometer in December so that Renault and Red Bull can "go to winter testing without any issues".

"Naturally there are some details to sort, as can be expected, but this is really only refining and we are in much better shape now than we were at this point last year, for sure," Taffin revealed.

Sergio Marchionne says Vettel is a better fit for Ferrari than Alonso ever was
Sergio Marchionne says Vettel is a better fit for Ferrari than Alonso ever was

Alonso manager responds after Marchionne jibe
(GMM) Two figures have defended Fernando Alonso following a verbal jibe by Ferrari's new president Sergio Marchionne.

Just as Marchionne swept into Maranello last winter, Alonso was racing to the exit, and the new president now says Ferrari could not be happier with the Spaniard's successor Sebastian Vettel.

"In only one year, I can say he (Vettel) became more 'Ferrarista' than Alonso did in five years," Marchionne charged.

There is no love lost between Marchionne and his own predecessor, and so former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo was quoted by Italy's Autosprint as defending Alonso after the jibe.

"Alonso would have been more 'Ferrarista' if we had managed to win the world championship in 2010, when it was easier for us to win it than lose it," Montezemolo said.

He is referring to the strategy calamity during the 2010 finale that cost Alonso the title and his engineer Chris Dyer his job.

Montezemolo added: "When twice in three years you lose the championship in the last race, I think it's necessary to understand these things."

Also defending Alonso after the Marchionne insult is his manager Luis Garcia Abad, who said: "I'm glad for Marchionne that Ferrari is competitive and strong again — so we're all happy.

"I think in twenty years it will be Fernando who is remembered more than many others at Maranello," he added. "Ferrari talks but they are in our hearts still.

"We continue to have many friends in Maranello," said Garcia Abad, "who know that we only want the best for Ferrari. And in the spirit of Christmas, there is no controversy.

"Happy holidays to the Rossa (red)," he concluded.

Ecclestone chats with Max Mosley
Ecclestone chats with Max Mosley

Ecclestone: Vettel and Schumacher two completely different individuals
This is from an exclusive interview with Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone which first appeared in Issue 46 of Motorsport-Magazin.com. On sale now.

Ecclestone speaking exclusively about…

… Sebastian Vettel's move to Ferrari:
Oh yes, that was one hundred percent the best thing he could do. One hundred percent! He is now a bit more open than he was previously. He feels freer. It's strange, because he had complete freedom at Red Bull. He could've done whatever he wanted. The more he did, the better it was for Red Bull. These guys jump out of balloons and stuff. It looks as if he feels very much at his ease now that he's at Ferrari. I'm glad for him. Things and people change, and things in the world are changing. For him, the change was good: he needed a change of scenery; he had been stuck there for too long.

… comparisons between Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher:
They are two completely different individuals. You can't say that one is good and the other is bad. They are different characters. Michael was a bit special as a person. He was very private, but also very much in the public eye. That's the difference between the two, I think. And of course he was super successful – plus he drove for Ferrari. Once you drive for Ferrari, you immediately attract another following. You have the Ferrari fans and your own.

… his negative comments on Formula 1:
The problem is, I see things as they are and not the way I want them to be. Do you think it's right when Fernando Alonso – you've probably heard of him, he's a former world champion – is at the back of the starting grid? Is it right that a driver changes his engine, qualifies in third place and then has to start from 13th? Is that right? Formula 1 is crap. Right now, we need to look at these things. The public has no understanding for that. They watch the race, know that someone has qualified second or third but is now suddenly starting from the middle of the grid. And why? Because they've changed their engine. Or their gearbox. We can solve this problem, but we can't wait several years.

… Mercedes' ascendancy:
People like winners. That's obvious. That's why teams attract support. But Ferrari have an incredible fan base, even when they lose. You don't find that with Mercedes. If they begin to lose, then you'll see what happens. Mercedes are not really newcomers; they were always there in one guise or another. That's why I support them. I think Mercedes are running a risk: the public thinks that, with the money they spend, they should be winning. They don't get any genuine sympathy. And you need that sympathy. People need to feel a bit sorry for a team. If Mercedes stop winning, I don't think that many people will feel any sympathy for them.

… the Formula 1 crisis in Germany:
You have a four-time world champion in Sebastian, you have the constructors' world championship, you have everything. I just don't understand.

… the German GP in 2017 at the Nurburgring
I don't think that will happen. We can say with some certainty that no race will be held there. It's a shame, because when it was up for sale, I agreed to buy it. Then they came back to me and said they had an offer that was a million or two higher. So I told them that all I had done was make an offer, and if someone was willing to pay more, they should take it. They sold it to an individual, and that individual sold it on. The stupid thing was, they lost a buyer for the sake of two million, a buyer who would have made sure that the race would still be there in a hundred years' time and would have tried to improve things. They walked away for a handful of dollars. And what have they got now? It's disappointing and annoying for me. That's why we lost the Nurburgring.

McLaren was painful for everyone, especially its drivers
McLaren was painful for everyone, especially its drivers

Hakkinen: McLaren F1 team painful to watch
Mika Hakkinen says it has been "painful" to watch his former team McLaren struggle so much in 2015.

"Of course it's painful to watch them because everyone is talking about the failure," said Hakkinen. "It's physiologically demanding.

"If McLaren had a bad season this year, I don't see that as the end of the world.

"It's a big team and there are some great people working there.

"I'm sure with the right positive mentality and thinking, they will get over the problems and they will come back to being successful.

"This is not the end of McLaren. This is the start of McLaren.

"It's a new relationship they have with a new engine manufacturer.

"This is a like a test to see how they can go over the problems together and face the challenges in the future.

"When you learn new things, you make mistakes and those mistakes make you wiser and you can be better."

"When I was racing there, they analyzed every details very carefully and that is what makes them great," he said.

"I'm sure with the drivers they have and the experience the team has, they know how to get there.

"When I was there, it took years analyzing yourself, working with your team, understanding where are the problems are and how we can win, how we can be better, where we can be better.

"But when the victory arrived we were calm and collected, we had more confidence, we believed in ourselves more than ever."

Felipe Massa
Felipe Massa

Felipe Massa Joins Williams Stars at Autosport International
Williams Martini Racing driver Felipe Massa will lead a line-up of famous Williams faces at Autosport International this January. Also starring at the NEC as part of a major Williams feature will be Williams Martini Racing Deputy Team Principal, Claire Williams, and Chief Technical Officer Pat Symonds, giving fans exclusive insight into the world of Formula One.

Due to a major Williams feature at this coming January's event, showgoers will be able to immerse themselves in every aspect of the Grove-based racing organization from Williams Martini Racing to Williams Heritage and Williams Advanced Engineering.

Current Williams Martini Racing driver, Felipe Massa, will join the show after a fantastic season which saw him finish sixth in the Formula One Drivers' Championship, picking up two podium finishes in the process. His car, the FW37, is also on display at Autosport International, and will be one of eight Formula One cars from Williams' Formula One history stretching back to its very first season in 1978.

The cars will be on display outside the Williams Martini Racing motorhome, which will be constructed next to the Autosport Stage for the first time ever outside of a racing circuit.

Massa is just one of many famous names from Williams who will be appearing at Autosport International. Claire Williams who has been Deputy Team Principal since 2013, and plays a pivotal role in the day-to-day running of the team will also be in attendance.

Pat Symonds, Chief Technical Officer of Williams Martini Racing will be appearing alongside Chief Performance Engineer, Jakob Andreasen. Head of Performance Engineering Rob Smedley, worked with Felipe Massa for several years at Ferrari as his Race Engineer before moving to Williams in 2014 will also be making an appearance with the team.

Also at the show will be Craig Wilson, the Managing Director of Williams Advanced Engineering. The Advanced Engineering division transfers Formula One know-how to other sectors and has completed many high-profile projects such as the Jaguar C-X75 which appeared in SPECTRE, the 24th James Bond film, from Albert R. Broccoli's EON Productions, Metro-Goldwyn Mayer Studios and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The C-X75 for SPECTRE was developed in collaboration with Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations, and will be on display at the Williams Martini Racing motorhome. A C-X75 will also be taking to the Live Action Arena, giving showgoers the opportunity to see this incredible car in motion.

Williams Heritage's Jonathan Williams and Dickie Stanford, the General Manager of Williams Heritage will both appear at the show as well. Williams Heritage – the team's historic racing division – restores and fully supports Williams racing cars for private owners.

Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal, Williams Martini Racing said: "We're all really looking forward to engaging with fans of Williams at Autosport International this January. This really does give us a unique opportunity to give something back – it's going to be a great event."

Anthony Rowlinson, Group Editor – Motorsport at Haymarket Media Group said: "It is fantastic that Williams will be playing such a large role at Autosport International. To have Felipe Massa, Claire Williams, Pat Symonds and Rob Smedley – not to mention many others – all joining the cars and the Williams Martini Racing motorhome will make this event a must-attend."

Ian France, Autosport International show director said: "Having so many key members of the Williams team, including Felipe Massa, at Autosport International is great news for fans. With the official team motorhome next to the main stage it will really bring a slice of Formula One paddock to the show."

Autosport International takes place from 14-17 January 2016 at the Birmingham NEC with tickets on sale now from http://www.autosportinternational.com/public

Toto Wolff lying through his teeth. They were already testing their 2016 engine 2/3rds the way through 2015. Mercedes will crush the opposition again in 2016.
Toto Wolff lying through his teeth. They were already testing their 2016 engine 2/3rds the way through 2015. Mercedes will crush the opposition again in 2016.

Mercedes was 'full blast' for most of 2015 – Wolff
(GMM) Toto Wolff has denied that Mercedes spent much of the 2015 season 'sandbagging' to hide its true performance advantage.

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo said recently that amid talk Ferrari now seems poised to mount a title challenge for 2016, he thinks Mercedes is still a long way ahead.

"Ferrari caught up a little bit," said Ricciardo, "but I think in general when they (Mercedes) wanted to turn it on they could."

Mercedes boss Wolff, however, said on Thursday: "There were races where we looked after the cars, when it was not necessary to go full blast.

"But these were the exceptions rather than the rule. In most of the races, we had to show our full potential in order to win, and in Singapore we saw clearly that it wasn't enough," he told Auto Motor und Sport.

And so Wolff says Mercedes will head into next season treating Ferrari in particular as a very real championship threat.

"Our philosophy is to be permanently skeptical," he said. "In all areas we have very ambitious development objectives that we want to achieve, but that does not protect us from losing another part of our lead if our competitors do a better job."

The Austrian also admitted that a lot of attention after the season concluded went into working out why Lewis Hamilton's performance suddenly slumped, just as Nico Rosberg rounded out his year with three wins from pole.

"We are a bit cleverer (about it)," said Wolff, "but not much. I think a major role is the psychology.

"Lewis has achieved his goal, bagged the title and then relaxed a bit," he said. "Although perhaps only subconsciously. At the same time I don't want to detract from Nico's performance, which was great.

Nobody can beat an Aldo Costa designed F1 car. Mercedes will parade around out front in 2016 once again.
Nobody can beat an Aldo Costa designed F1 car. Mercedes will parade around out front in 2016 once again.

"It shows we have two drivers who will be driving at peak performance for us next year, which is the key to success even though it caused us a few grey hairs."

Indeed, Wolff's grey hairs prompted him to warn recently that if the growing animosity between the drivers spills into the 'spirit' of the team, Mercedes would have to think about changing the lineup.

But he clarified now that Mercedes remains happy with Hamilton alongside Rosberg.

"If we had two Hamiltons, the team would have probably exploded," he smiled. "But two Nicos wouldn't make it easier either.

"The combination of the two is quite good. It is the ideal situation, even if it makes life hard for us sometimes. But precisely because they are so different, with individual approaches, it helps us to be better," said Wolff.

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