Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Ecclestone (L) thinks Todt (R) should step aside and let someone else take the F1 lead for the FIA

    Ecclestone thinks Todt should 'step back' from F1

  • McLaren had lessons in Japanese culture – Button
  • Horner predicts more Mercedes dominance in 2016
  • Pundits slam Hamilton for late-season behavior
  • Renault 'must change drivers' for 2016 – Briatore
  • Canada GP promoter admits late to pay suppliers
  • Toro Rosso backs Sainz amid Verstappen hype
  • Ecclestone Says Sport Is In Crisis As TV Numbers Drop, Teams Struggle

Ecclestone thinks Todt should 'step back' from F1
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone thinks FIA president Jean Todt should step back from the front line in formula one.

According to the BBC, an increasingly alarmed F1 supremo told the World Motor Sport Council last week that he believes the sport is "in crisis".

"Television audiences are down", Ecclestone is reported as having informed the FIA body, "teams are struggling to survive. Something needs to be done".

After the meeting, the World Council announced that Ecclestone and Todt have been given a "mandate" to tackle many of the problems that are not being solved by the usual democratic processes.

But Ecclestone, 85, apparently thinks part of the problem is that Frenchman Todt is less hands-on and combative in his style of governing than was his predecessor Max Mosley.

"He (Todt) has been doing lots of other things, he is much more interested in road safety than formula one or the sports side of things," Ecclestone told Sky Sports News.

"So maybe he should step back a little bit from formula one and let someone else take that part of the FIA's commitments over."

Did Dennis have to learn to like Sushi?
Did Dennis have to learn to like Sushi?

McLaren had lessons in Japanese culture – Button
(GMM) McLaren staff have had lessons in Japanese culture as the struggling team gets up to speed with works Honda power.

The Anglo-Japanese collaboration endured an abysmal 2015 campaign, with the bulk of the blame falling to Honda as it grapples with F1's complex 'power unit' era.

But another problem, champion driver Jenson Button thinks, is the teething period in terms of re-acquainting Woking-based McLaren with the very Japanese way of doing things.

"A lot of the team have had lessons in trying to understand Japanese culture," he is quoted by the Sun newspaper.

"They had proper lessons, not speaking Japanese, but to understand the culture, and that's a very important thing to do," added Button, whose wife Jessica is a Japanese model.

"There's now a very good understanding between the Japanese engine engineers, who have never worked with Westerners before," he said.

McLaren-Honda is hoping for a big step forward for 2016, but Button suggested it would be better if the team could have finished the race season and immediately got stuck into track testing.

"I'd prefer to keep on racing as there is more room for improvement but the regulations stop us," he said.

"This season, it hasn't gone wrong. It just hasn't gone right. You hope for a lot but we've not achieved a lot.

"But the partnership between McLaren and Honda is now a lot stronger than it was to start with," Button added.

2016 will be another boring season of Mercedes 1-2 parades
2016 will be another boring season of Mercedes 1-2 parades

Horner predicts more Mercedes dominance in 2016
(GMM) Christian Horner has predicted another year on top for Mercedes in 2016.

That is despite the fact the Red Bull chief thinks the actual chassis produced by the premier energy drink-owned team is perhaps a match for the silver machine.

"We can see the wing settings and the cornering speeds and we are quite competitive compared to them," Horner said.

The only problem, according to Red Bull, is the engine. The team tried for months to secure a better one for 2016, but ultimately the only change will be the re-branding of the Renault power unit as 'Tag Heuer' for Red Bull.

"It's their own fault," 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve told the German-language Motorsport-Magazin.com.

"Why would any manufacturer want to work with them if they know they're going to get criticized so much?"

Red Bull is hoping for better next year as Renault gets fully serious again in formula one with a works team effort and Mercedes-like budget.

"I would love to go racing next weekend but at the same time I'm happy the season is over and optimistic that next year will be better," said driver Daniel Ricciardo.

"I think we ended the season with a lot more feeling and confidence in the chassis," he added. "This season has made us stronger as a unit and I'm happy to move forward with these guys to be better next year."

Horner, however, thinks 2016 will be yet another silver-colored year.

"The regulations are pretty stable again and Mercedes' gap is big enough that they should continue their dominance," he predicted.

I am the greatest
I am the greatest

Pundits slam Hamilton for late-season behavior
(GMM) 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve has slammed Lewis Hamilton for his behavior since winning the world championship in October.

After wrapping up the title, Hamilton's earlier-dominant form mysteriously slumped just as teammate Nico Rosberg's surged.

Also obviously slumping, however, was the Briton's mood, former Williams driver and now television pundit Villeneuve claims.

"Maybe losing the world championship to Lewis in the US GP changed him (Rosberg) psychologically," Villeneuve told the German-language Motorsport-Magazin.com.

"I don't know. But after that he was a killer. And Lewis reacted really badly and revealed a very negative side of his character. He showed that he cannot be humble.

"He has won three world championships but he could not be happy, behaving like a spoiled child who lost his toy. He has not behaved like a great champion," the French-Canadian charged.

Also unimpressed with Hamilton late this year are former British F1 drivers Martin Brundle and Derek Warwick, who think the 30-year-old should have attended an awards ceremony in London.

Reports suggest Hamilton was instead in Canada to watch an NBA basketball game.

Brundle wrote on Twitter that Hamilton snubbing the ceremony was "sad", as it only would have taken "20 minutes to at least thrill/motivate young drivers he once was. Unwritten obligation," the Sky commentator said.

Warwick, who like Brundle also raced in the 80s and 90s, agreed: "100 per cent right mate. Very disappointing and lost a lot of respect (for Hamilton) last night".

Palmer may not be able to keep that Lotus seat he bought
Palmer may not be able to keep that Lotus seat he bought

Renault 'must change drivers' for 2016 – Briatore
(GMM) Former Renault team boss Flavio Briatore has urged the French carmaker to look carefully at its contracted driver lineup for 2016.

Amid Lotus' struggle for survival late this season, it re-signed the lucratively PDVSA-backed Pastor Maldonado and announced that Friday driver Jolyon Palmer will make his race debut for the Enstone team next year.

But that was before Renault announced that it is definitely re-acquiring its former works team.

After surviving a court date over unpaid tax this week that could have seen Lotus put into administration, Lotus CEO Matthew Carter said he believes Renault will honor the contracts with Maldonado and Palmer.

But Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn had declared: "We will wait a few weeks.

"I refer to a meeting in January 2016, when we will explain the organization, goals, strategy and we will also talk about drivers and partners," he told Le Figaro newspaper.

Former team boss Briatore insists Renault must revisit the issue of drivers.

"It's true that Renault must rebuild everything," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport, "including the technical team.

"Enstone lost some great engineers, and Viry also. It will be not easy. If you want to win, you must change the drivers as well."

Counting himself out of the running, however, was 2015 Lotus driver Romain Grosjean, even though his French nationality would appear to make him ideal.

Grosjean, however, has signed up with the new Ferrari-linked team Haas for 2016, declaring: "At Renault they need at least three years to get back to the top and I'm almost 30.

"Let's say I have ahead of me a maximum of five or six seasons left in F1. I can't wait any longer and this option (Haas) could open other opportunities for me."

Despite full grandstands the Canadian promoter, like all F1 promotors, still lost their shirt
Despite full grandstands the Canadian promoter, like all F1 promotors, still lost their shirt

Canada GP promoter admits late to pay suppliers
(GMM) The promoter of the popular Canadian grand prix has fallen behind in payments to suppliers, according to the Quebec newspaper La Presse.

"It's true. I confirm it," said Francois Dumontier, the president and sole shareholder of the race promoter Octane Racing Group.

Dumontier secured the future of the Montreal race, held at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, in 2009, but a new 10-year-old contract through 2024 began last year.

"It was difficult this year despite a growth in ticket and corporate sales," he admits.

La Presse claims that, six months after the 2015 race, Octane still owes a six-digit sum to some key suppliers.

"This is not unusual nor the first time it has happened," Dumontier insists. "These are people with whom we have done business for a long time.

"99 per cent of them are still there and still wanting to do the grand prix," he said.

So he said the race's financial situation is not dire, declaring that he is "much less worried than two or three years ago".

But in the past, when the race was promoted by Normand Legault, suppliers were always paid, La Presse said.

"These are two different worlds," Dumontier argued. "I am a 'mom and pop shop', an entrepreneur who took a chance with the grand prix in 2009. Unfortunately I have no fortune.

"Like any private contractor, when things are going well, everyone is super happy. When things go less well, an entrepreneur is required to work with his partners and suppliers."

He also claimed that the current financial environment and the terms of the contract with Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management are not ideally matched.

"Structurally, the contract is clearly not optimal," said Dumontier. "I am very sure that Mr. Ecclestone is a fine negotiator."

He said things would be much easier if the Canadian grand prix could secure a title sponsor, and had hoped to sign something up by Christmas.

"I am obliged to put my patience to the test," said Dumontier. "I think it will come to fruition after the course of the Christmas holidays."

Dumontier also said his door is "wide open" for talks with potential new shareholders in Octane.

"I think when an owner like the one in Austin (for the US GP), with a lot more financial resources than me, may lose his grand prix because it is not profitable, it shows it is a business where you can no longer be a 'mom and pop shop' like me," he declared.

Dumontier is also cheering on the Montreal-born driver Lance Stroll, who despite his tender age of 17 has just signed up as a test driver with Williams.

"The Jacques Villeneuve years were certainly very good years for the grand prix," he said.

Team says Sainz just as fast as Verstappen. In fact Sainz out-qualified Verstappen for the season
Team says Sainz just as fast as Verstappen. In fact Sainz out-qualified Verstappen for the season

Toro Rosso backs Sainz amid Verstappen hype
(GMM) Team boss Franz Tost says it is not fair to judge Carlos Sainz's F1 debut simply by looking at his points tally.

Indeed, while many agree that the 21-year-old had a good first season in 2015, he ended the year with much less than half the points scored by his teammate Max Verstappen, who has been showered with awards and plaudits.

But when asked about Sainz's 18 points compared to Verstappen's almost 50, their Toro Rosso chief Tost said: "The explanation is simple.

"Carlos had very bad luck with the car, preventing him from finishing seven grands prix," he told the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

Sainz, who like Verstappen is staying with the Faenza based team in 2016, said that sort of support from Tost is important.

"I'm very calm about it," he said, "because the team knows I'm fast. Every time something happened to the car, they were the first to be angry and supporting me."

Tost continues: "Most of the problems have been the car, not Carlos. He has done everything very well and so he doesn't have to worry.

"He has demonstrated his speed always, both on Saturdays and Sundays — and he and Max were much closer in qualifying."

Team technical boss James Key confirmed: "Max got the headlines because of his age, but in everything else they are on par."

Ecclestone will be damned before he'll let the manufacturers control the sport like they are now
Ecclestone will be damned before he'll let the manufacturers control the sport like they are now

Ecclestone Says Sport Is In Crisis As TV Numbers Drop, Teams Struggle
F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone said that the sport is "in crisis," according to Andrew Benson of the BBC. TV audiences are down, Ecclestone says, "teams are struggling to survive." Something "needs to be done."

That is what Ecclestone told a meeting of the FIA World Council last week.

The "upshot of that," and the conversation that followed within the governing body's HQ in Paris, was Ecclestone and FIA President Jean Todt were granted unprecedented powers "to make recommendations and decisions regarding a number of pressing issues in F1."

It is the "latest salvo in an increasingly tense fight for power and influence in F1." The plan discussed by Ecclestone and Todt with the FIA World Council was to "cut the F1 teams out of the decision-making process, to which they have had a legal right for 35 years." Why? Because Ecclestone's power is "arguably at an all-time low."

The subject over which "this battle will be fought is engines."

While the manufacturers managed to stop the "alternative engine" at the F1 Commission stage, they did agree to "address several concerns." These were: the supply of engines to customer teams; reducing engine cost; simplifying engines, and "improving" the sound they make. The manufacturers have been given a date — Jan. 15 — to report back with their proposals.

And there is "another date of importance" — Jan. 31, by which time, the World Council said, Todt and Ecclestone will "produce their own conclusions as to what they will do with their apparent new mandate." The "implicit threat is obvious — come up with solutions to what is deemed to be a problem with the engines," or have the "alternative" engine forced upon you. BBC.

SKY SPORTS' William Esler reported Ecclestone "is ready for a war with the engine manufacturers over power unit regulation changes."

Ecclestone: "What we are trying to do at the moment is to get regulations for a new engine that is the same for everyone. We don't want different engines for different teams if we don't have to, if we have to that is what will happen, but that is what we would rather not happen."

Ecclestone hopes Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda "will agree with his proposals when they discuss them, but is prepared for a fight." He added, "If they don't then maybe the FIA will have to write the regulations. If you like it, good, if you don't, sorry, but you've a choice of stop [competing in F1] or you can arbitrate." SKY SPORTS

PITPASS reported Ecclestone insisted that "finding an independent engine supplier is paramount."

Though the idea has been shelved while the current manufacturers "come up with their own proposals, Ecclestone and Todt clearly see an independent supplier as key to their own plans."

Other than the fact that engine costs have "driven up overall team spending, and the fact that, as proven by the Red Bull saga, engine manufacturers are choosing who they supply, and with what," the reality is that the manufacturers "suddenly appear to hold most of the cards."

This, "of course, is not a situation desired by the FIA, the commercial rights holder or any potential purchaser of F1."

Ecclestone: "It does not mean we want to get rid of the manufacturers, on the contrary. We just want to have powerful engines that can be bought and run cheaper than at the moment." PITPASS

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