Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Arrivabene not rolling over for Ecclestone

    Ferrari challenging Ecclestone 'mandate'

  • Carmakers warn against tearing up engine rules
  • 'Definitely' best-ever Toro Rosso lineup – Marko
  • Calm between drivers 'a relief' for Ferrari – Raikkonen
  • F1 can speed up without downforce – Whiting
  • Ralf plays down 'Schumacher dream team' with nephew Mick
  • Button considered future amid 2015 trials
  • Bottas wants Williams wins in 2016
  • FIA makes provisions for six tire tests

Ferrari challenging Ecclestone 'mandate'
(GMM) Ferrari is challenging the new "mandate" given by the FIA to Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt to address problems within formula one.

In late October, F1's governing body announced that while wanting to set a price limit for engines and gearboxes, Ferrari exercised its unique and historic "right of veto".

"In the interest of the championship, the FIA has decided not to legally challenge (Ferrari's) use of its right of veto," the FIA said in a statement.

Then, at the latest meeting of the World Motor Sport Council, a "near unanimous" vote saw F1 supremo Ecclestone and FIA president Todt handed a "mandate" to address "a number of pressing issues in formula one".

Ecclestone argues that the current governance processes in F1 are destroying the sport, with the new mandate relating to "governance, power units and cost reduction".

But Ferrari is once again playing a spoiler role, Ecclestone told the BBC this week.

The 85-year-old Briton said he has received a legal letter from the Maranello marque suggesting the "mandate" is not enforceable.

But Ecclestone claims he could "ignore what Ferrari have said and carry on with it and say 'You've got a choice — you can leave or go to arbitration and see what the arbitrators think'.

"I think if we went to arbitration, we'd win easy," he claimed.

Ferrari is not denying that it is challenging the mandate.

The "intention is simply to make sure that the governance principles" already in place in F1 "continue to be duly complied with", a team spokesperson is quoted as saying.

Carmakers have every excuse in the book to keep today's hated engine formula
Carmakers have every excuse in the book to keep today's hated engine formula

Carmakers warn against tearing up engine rules
(GMM) If F1 is going to overhaul its engine regulations, it should base the new formula on the current 'power units'.

That is the view of Mercedes and Renault's respective technical chiefs, arguing that installing a completely new set of rules would be too expensive.

With the earlier plan for 'parallel' regulations dead for now, the manufacturers have instead been tasked with coming up with a new, global solution for 2017 or 2018 that is louder, cheaper and more powerful.

"To save money, you would need to base it on the 1.6 liter turbo V6," said Mercedes' Andy Cowell. "Each new design devours money, no matter how simple you make the new engine concept."

His Renault counterpart Remi Taffin agrees: "The cheapest way is to maintain as much as possible of the current architecture."

The Frenchman also dismissed any notion that it is a straightforward matter to produce an affordable and simple engine that produces 1000 horse power.

"At 1000hp, we are not talking about simple engines. You can't just buy them off the shelf," Taffin told Auto Motor und Sport.

He added: "If we increase the fuel flow rate and lift the rev limit, we could achieve 1000hp (now)."

But Cowell says increasing the flow rate is not quite that simple, because "Everything will be hotter, must be cooled better and be more reliable. And that costs money."

And he said that tearing up the current regulations and going for something entirely new also risks driving the field apart yet again.

"If we could continue with the current regulations, the differences between the (different) engines would perhaps be three tenths by 2018.

"Every new concept involves the risk that someone comes up with a much better idea. And that could mean a difference of seconds rather than tenths," said Cowell.

Marko chats with Verstapppen (top). Carlos Sainz (Below)
Marko chats with Verstapppen (top). Carlos Sainz (Below)

'Definitely' best-ever Toro Rosso lineup – Marko
(GMM) One bright spot in Red Bull's otherwise-difficult 2015 campaign was the discovery of meteoric junior Max Verstappen.

That is the claim of Dr Helmut Marko, who said Verstappen alongside fellow rookie Carlos Sainz made up what is "definitely" the best ever Toro Rosso lineup.

"They both surpassed all expectations," the Austrian told Auto Motor und Sport. "Both are very fast. Perhaps Verstappen is a touch more aggressive but Sainz had much more bad luck with the car."

What is a blessing for Red Bull, however, is also a problem. With Daniel Ricciardo, Daniil Kvyat, Verstappen and Sainz all performing well, the energy drink stable will now struggle to find places for its next generation.

"We will look at that when we have to," said Marko. "There is still plenty of time."

One solution could be that Dutchman Verstappen is poached by a rival top team like Mercedes and Ferrari, who are obviously interested in the 18-year-old.

"No. We always make multi-year contracts," Marko insisted. "What is interesting is that the very people who said employing a 17-year-old is dangerous and irresponsible are now suddenly supporting him."

More generally, Marko admitted that 2015 was very difficult for Red Bull's senior team, with owner Dietrich Mateschitz almost pulling the plug.

"We spend a lot of money on F1," said Marko. "We have two teams, a grand prix, we promote young talent. The boss (Mateschitz) sees spectator interest dramatically down and then we had our engine situation.

"If it had not been for the hope that there are changes coming for better engines and chassis, then we would have almost certainly gone," he added.

Vettel gets along well with Raikkonen
Vettel gets along well with Raikkonen

Calm between drivers 'a relief' for Ferrari – Raikkonen
(GMM) The calmness brought by Ferrari's new driver lineup was a "relief" to the team, Kimi Raikkonen says.

Last year, turmoil at the fabled Maranello marque was arguably worsened by tension in the pits, where Finn Raikkonen and the now-departed Fernando Alonso barely exchanged a word.

But this year, in a lineup that will remain in place for 2016, Raikkonen was paired with Sebastian Vettel, who is not only a quadruple world champion but also a rare friend of Raikkonen's within the F1 paddock.

"It is of course nicer for the drivers that they are on speaking terms, are able to work together and talk about things," Raikkonen told the Finnish broadcaster MTV this week on a media visit to Helsinki.

"For the team, it is a pretty big relief and also an advantage that there is no secrecy or politics," the 2007 world champion added.

As for working with Vettel, Raikkonen continued: "We both like pretty much the same sort of car — our setups are always pretty close. That makes it easier for the team to work and also to develop the car."

Ferrari, however, openly considered ending the pairing for 2016, with Valtteri Bottas said to have been the obvious candidate to replace the older Finn.

But Bernie Ecclestone thinks Ferrari was right to re-sign the 36-year-old, telling La Gazzetta dello Sport: "Are you sure there is someone who could have done a better job for Ferrari than Kimi Raikkonen? I'm not sure."

Raikkonen also dismisses the notion that he is now struggling to be fully competitive in F1.

"Next year will be another chance to start from zero," he said, admitting that his 2015 campaign overall was only "average".

"However, the pace was ok compared to last year. If you do not have the momentum, that is a much more worrying situation, even if of course there is always a lot of room for improvement."

Charlie Whiting
Charlie Whiting

F1 can speed up without downforce – Whiting
(GMM) F1 can speed up for the future without exacerbating the current problems associated with aerodynamics.

That is the view of Charlie Whiting, the F1 race director and FIA technical chief.

Recently, world champion Lewis Hamilton blasted the sport's authorities amid plans to spice up formula one for 2017 or 2018 by slashing five or six seconds from the average laptime.

The Mercedes driver said he had heard the bulk of the laptime would come through more downforce, such as by simply introducing bigger wings.

"That's the worst idea and just shows people don't know what they are trying to solve," said the Briton, who thinks the biggest problem with F1 is how difficult it is to follow a rival car.

"Drivers want more grip from their tires and less wake from the car in front so we can get closer," Hamilton added.

However, it is not set in stone that authorities believe more downforce is the solution.

Part of the laptime boost will come from more powerful engines, with Renault's Remi Taffin telling Auto Motor und Sport: "If we increase the fuel flow rate and lift the rev limit, we could achieve 1000hp (now)".

As for the chassis, Pirelli has been granted up to 12 days of testing next year ahead of the rules revolution, to develop bigger and wider tires for 2017.

Whiting told the December edition of F1 Racing magazine: "We're trying to get most of the speed (for 2017) through tire grip and not rely too much on downforce."

And he said other tweaks to the chassis rules will also speed up F1.

"By increasing the width of the cars, even with the existing tires, you could gain a second. An extra contact patch would make us confident that we'd find at least half of the five or six seconds with the extra tire grip," Whiting added.

Mick Schumacher
Mick Schumacher

Ralf plays down 'Schumacher dream team' with nephew Mick
(GMM) Ralf Schumacher has played down the prospect of a 'Schumacher dream team' to rise back up the ranks towards F1.

Ralf, a former six-time grand prix winner, has teamed up with Gerhard Ungar in ownership of a Formula 4 outfit, with plans to step up soon to the highly-competitive world of F3.

Earlier this year, it was Mick Schumacher – the 16-year-old son of Ralf's famous brother Michael – who stepped out of karts and into F4, driving for the Dutch team Van Amersfoort.

When asked why he has not teamed up with his nephew Mick, 40-year-old Ralf told Kolner Express tabloid: "When Mick was looking for a team and opted for Van Amersfoort, Gerhard and I had not talked about this merger.

"Now he (Mick) is happy there and in the new year will be a clear candidate for the title. So for us, Mick will be an opponent just like everyone else," the former Williams and Toyota driver added.

Ralf's 14-year-old son David already races for his father's kart team.

Jenson Button
Jenson Button

Button considered future amid 2015 trials
Jenson Button says he seriously considered his future in Formula 1 during McLaren-Honda's troubled 2015 campaign, as it slumped down the pecking order.

Button's position in the sport at the end of 2014 was uncertain as the outfit deliberated over whether to retain the Briton or Kevin Magnussen, with the decision ultimately made in Button's favor.

Button's future was again the subject of discussion in 2015 before he ultimately elected to remain with McLaren into 2016 and says he was swayed by the optimism present within the team.

"Last year I wasn't sure if I'd be racing and it wasn't my choice," Button told Sky Sports.

"This year it was totally my choice and there was a moment where I thought 'I am not sure I want to do this anymore and be where we are.'

"Obviously, if we are where we are right now next year, it is not going to be that enjoyable.

"I spent a lot of time with the engineers and the aerodynamicists and I spoke more with [McLaren CEO] Ron [Dennis] in the two months when I was trying to decide what to do next year than I have in my whole time at McLaren.

"We went through a lot of ideas for next year and spoke to the aerodynamicists and the engineers and got a real direction and understanding of where we are going and with Honda as well.

"So that got me excited, that got me pumped for next year knowing that there are big improvements on the horizon – and we need them."

Button finished a lowly 16th in the standings, his worst placing since he raced for Honda in 2008.

Valtteri Bottas
Valtteri Bottas

Bottas wants Williams wins in 2016
Valtteri Bottas is eager for Williams to take a step forward and challenge for race wins in 2016, after the team placed third in the standings for the second successive season.

Williams impressed with nine podium finishes in 2014, six of which were achieved by Bottas, but this figure dropped to four in 2015, while its points total also fell from 320 to 257.

Bottas hopes Williams can cut the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari over the winter, enough to fight for his maiden victory in Formula 1, and the team's first since the 2012 season.

"For sure we were not any closer; maybe the same," explained Bottas, when asked about Williams' deficit to the front of the pack in 2015, compared to the 2014 campaign.

"[Third] is still a great result – I'm proud that we can challenge the big teams. But it's clear with everyone at Williams, including me, that we want to be closer, we want to challenge for wins.

"This winter is up to us, if we can push hard and fix some issues that we had – for example, the pit-stops. We need to make things better, and we are working flat out for that."

Williams appeared to drop further away from Mercedes and Ferrari as the season developed, but Bottas claims that this was simply due to the outfit switching its focus to 2016.

"It's not a good thing, that it happened, but there are reasons," he said.

"We were focused much more into next year's car maybe earlier than what we originally planned because we saw that we couldn't really challenge Mercedes this year.

"This maybe explains why the gap is a little bit bigger."

Six tire tests in 2016
Six tire tests in 2016

FIA makes provisions for six tire tests
Formula 1's governing body, the FIA, now has the power to arrange up to six, two-day tire tests during the 2016 season, specifically to assist supplier Pirelli with its development.

Formula 1 held two in-season gatherings in 2015, following the Spanish and Austrian Grands Prix, while teams stayed on in Abu Dhabi after the finale for a one-day private tire test.

Pirelli, which won the recent tender to continue as sole supplier through 2019, has been keen to arrange more on track testing, ahead of Formula 1's planned regulation overhaul for 2017.

"In consultation with the teams and the appointed tire supplier, the FIA reserves the right to organize up to six two day tests for the sole purpose of providing the supplier with the chance to test improvements to the design of their tires," read an updated section of the 2016 Formula 1 Sporting Regulations.

Although the venues have not yet been confirmed by the FIA, there will also continue to be two general in-season test sessions in 2016, at which half of the running must be allocated to young drivers.

Pirelli is set to hold a separate wet-weather test at Paul Ricard in late January.

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