Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Briatore says Mercedes will be just as dominant in 2016 as they were the last two years
    Briatore says Mercedes will be just as dominant in '16 as they were the last two years

    Briatore denies Alonso to Renault rumors

  • Sabbatical not right for Alonso – Hakkinen
  • Hamilton seat not in doubt over lifestyle – Wolff
  • Jordan backs Ecclestone, Brundle backs BBC
  • Bottas 'not very happy' with 2015 season
  • Perez tips Haas to challenge Force India
  • Ecclestone Annoyed By Mercedes' Dominance, Calls For Reforms
  • Renault To Pay Lotus Debts By End Of Year
  • Mercedes sues F1 engineer for espionage

Briatore denies Alonso to Renault rumors
(GMM) Flavio Briatore has dismissed suggestions Fernando Alonso might be considering a sensational return to lead Renault's latest works effort in F1.

The Enstone based team Lotus has already announced its driver lineup for 2016, with the heavily sponsor-backed Pastor Maldonado and Jolyon Palmer all signed up.

But that team has subsequently been bought by Renault.

Earlier in serious financial trouble, Lotus chief executive Matthew Carter faced a London court on Monday where the team risked being placed into administration over unpaid tax bills.

The Morning Star newspaper said the judge gave Lotus a two-week adjournment, with Renault pledging to complete the buyout by next Wednesday.

Alonso not moving from one backmarker team to another
Alonso not moving from one backmarker team to another

The carmaker will then pay off Lotus' other debts, which could mean the team is no longer so reliant on the backing brought by Maldonado and Palmer.

Not only that, Renault might want different drivers at the wheel.

"We will wait a few weeks," Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn told Le Figaro newspaper.

"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 added.

Speaking outside court on Monday, Carter – whose own Renault-branded future is in doubt – said he thinks the contracts with Maldonado and Palmer will be honored.

So amid recent reports that Spaniard Alonso's future at struggling McLaren-Honda is not certain, rumors had then emerged that he may now return to Renault, where he won his back-to-back titles a decade ago.

But Briatore, the former Renault team boss who remains involved with Alonso's management today, said: "Right now I rule that out.

"We have a contract with Honda," the Italian is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Fernando will not be happy with the way the season went but I think only Hamilton and Rosberg are. And looking ahead to next year, I think it will not be easy for Renault," Briatore added.

Having said that, Briatore played down claims Ghosn – known in the industry for being a hefty cost-slasher – will not put adequate resources into Renault's new works project.

"When I was there," he said, "our every request was met."

Briatore did however express some alarm at Ghosn's claim that returning to the very top in F1 will take three years, arguing that "This F1 that is dying needs a very strong Renault before then".

"It is true that everything must be rebuilt, including the technical structure at Enstone," Briatore added. "It will not be easy."

The biggest problem, the Italian continued, is Mercedes' huge advantage with its power unit.

"Renault was the big proponent of this new formula and they underestimated the impact," said Briatore. "The trouble is that Mercedes has a great advantage and I fear that next year the championship will follow the same pattern as the one just ended."

Alonso not taking sabbatical
Alonso not taking sabbatical

Sabbatical not right for Alonso – Hakkinen
(GMM) Lowering his guard and taking a sabbatical amid McLaren-Honda's troubles would not be the right move for Fernando Alonso.

That is the advice of fellow former double world champion Mika Hakkinen, whose own one-year sabbatical in 2002 ultimately became full retirement from F1 before he reached his mid-30s.

"Personally, I was able to come back after my sabbatical year," the Finn said, "but by then I realized that was it, I was done, I was happy (to retire)."

Hakkinen continued: "I finished my career winning races, and that's a good way to end. In the case of Fernando, I do not think it (taking a sabbatical) is a very good move. He has to keep fighting.

"Once you start a game, you have to keep going," he is quoted by Spain's AS newspaper.

Wolff keeping Hamilton
Wolff keeping Hamilton

Hamilton seat not in doubt over lifestyle – Wolff
(GMM) Toto Wolff has rubbished reports it could be Lewis Hamilton's off-track lifestyle that costs the triple world champion his seat at Mercedes.

The team boss warned after the Abu Dhabi finale recently that the constant bickering and ill-feeling between Hamilton and teammate Nico Rosberg either stops or the team will have to rethink its driver lineup.

"If it becomes detrimental to the team, it would mean we would not maintain the long term set-up with the drivers," Wolff has now been quoted by the Telegraph as reiterating at an award ceremony in London.

But then on Monday, London's Times newspaper quoted an unnamed team principal as warning that Mercedes also has deep misgivings about Hamilton's off-track lifestyle.

"They (Mercedes officials) don't like what they are seeing at the moment," the boss, who has reportedly known Hamilton since he was a child, said. "One senior executive told me no one is irreplaceable", the unnamed chief added.

Wolff, however, scoffed at the suggestion that Hamilton's extravagance, constant continent-hopping and increasingly 'rapper'-like lifestyle will be the trigger for the Briton's exit.

"We tend to put people in a box and you try to imagine how a perfect racing driver should be, how they should be in bed at 10 o'clock and not partying or flying around," he told the Times.

"As long as he performs in the car, there is not a problem," Wolff added.

Eddie Jordan backs call for independent F1 engine
Eddie Jordan backs call for independent F1 engine

Jordan backs Ecclestone, Brundle backs BBC
(GMM) Eddie Jordan has backed Bernie Ecclestone's view that formula one should usher an independent engine supplier onto the grid.

Even though the F1 Commission derailed the supremo's plan for 'parallel' engine rules recently, Ecclestone is still warning that the current situation – with Mercedes and Ferrari wielding enormous power – must change.

"This does not mean we want to drive the major manufacturers out of formula one — on the contrary," Ecclestone told Die Welt newspaper.

"We just want a powerful engine that can be bought cheaply and each team can use it. And when I say 'independent' (supplier), I mean someone who is independent of the major car manufacturers."

Eddie Jordan, the former owner and boss of the independent team that is now known as Force India, backed Ecclestone in his push to redistribute the political power in formula one.

"I do not like how things have developed," he is quoted by Speed Week as having said at an awards event in London.

"With all respect to Mercedes and Ferrari, they have gained too much control. The power must again be put with those people who support the independent teams, because they are the backbone of the sport.

"The major manufacturers come and go as they like, but formula one is defined by independent teams like Williams. And that is how it will be in ten years from now," Jordan added.

Meanwhile, at the same awards event, the British broadcaster Sky's popular race commentator Martin Brundle said he hopes the rival broadcaster BBC stays in F1 next year.

The BBC's limited free-to-air coverage is at risk over a fee dispute with Ecclestone, but Brundle is quoted by the Telegraph: "We love the BBC, and it's good for us at Sky because we push each other to be even better.

"I really hope they stay and stick with formula one," he added.

Valtteri Bottas
Valtteri Bottas

Bottas 'not very happy' with 2015 season
(GMM) Valtteri Bottas admits he is "not very happy" with his 2015 season.

In the end, the Finn out-scored his Williams teammate Felipe Massa for the second year running, but many believe it was the back-in-form Brazilian's performance alongside Bottas that deterred Ferrari from signing him up.

"I was not very happy with my season, honestly," the 26-year-old admits.

"I had bad luck in several races and I often could not extract 100 per cent from the car," Bottas told Brazil's UOL Esporte.

"In the last few races it improved, some things changed and I started to feel better in the car."

He said he has learned he has an important role to play in helping to set the direction of car development.

"As a driver, I have to be as honest and direct as possible with my feedback," said Bottas. "I have to push the team to always improve, telling them clearly what I think is the best.

"But things do not happen from one moment to the next and I'm still willing to help the team improve, because I think next year we will have a much stronger car and a much better performance than this season," he added.

However, Williams – as in 2014 – still finished a laudable third overall in the constructors' championship behind only Mercedes and Ferrari.

But Mika Hakkinen, who is involved in Bottas' management, thinks Bottas is justified in being disappointed with 2015.

"It is clear that a driver is disappointed when he does not improve compared to the previous season," said the former double world champion.

"The competitiveness of Williams was not quite as good as last year," Hakkinen told his sponsor Hermes in an interview, "but the third place in the constructors' championship was nice for the team.

"I know that Williams is more than satisfied with Valtteri's work," he added. "Patience is a virtue and for him it will be rewarded."

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez

Perez tips Haas to challenge Force India
(GMM) Sergio Perez has backed Force India to rise to the "huge task" of continuing to raise its game in formula one.

Teammate Nico Hulkenberg may have been the high-profile Le Mans winner, but it was Mexican Perez who shone the brightest in 2015 for the Silverstone based team.

Force India finished the championship an impressive fifth overall.

"That we were fifth even before the debut of the B car, when Lotus was better than us, strengthened my confidence in the team, which is why I decided to stay," Perez told Auto Motor und Sport.

He also said he raised his own game in 2015.

"In 2012 I was on the podium three times, which was special, but I was much more consistent this year than I was then," said the former Sauber driver.

So what can Force India, with one of the smallest budgets on the grid, do next?

F1 business journalist Christian Sylt wrote in the Express newspaper that owner Vijay Mallya is "negotiating and discussing" a new naming rights deal with Aston Martin, the iconic luxury British carmaker.

And Perez says the team wants to keep getting better.

"This is a huge task for a small team like us, to take on teams like Williams and Red Bull. I also expect more from some of our other opponents next season. McLaren, for example, and Toro Rosso, and we also must not underestimate Haas," he said.

"This (Haas) is not really a new team. With their connection to Ferrari, they will be a challenger from the beginning," said Perez.

Bernie Ecclestone annoyed
Bernie Ecclestone annoyed

Ecclestone Annoyed By Mercedes' Dominance, Calls For Reforms
F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone "has been annoyed by Mercedes' dominance," according to Burkhard Nuppeney of DIE WELT.

The 85-year-old Brit "calls for reforms to the series to make it more appealing." Ecclestone: "Mercedes' dominance is so big that many people only watch the start of a Grand Prix and then turn off the TV because Mercedes makes the races boring."

He added that this "is not good for the sport." Ecclestone considers it legitimate to dictate changes onto teams and manufacturers through FIA.

He said, "We've been trying for decades to restrict the financial investments to guarantee a broadly based competitiveness for all. But the teams and also the manufacturers haven't played along to date. They simply don't want it, therefore you have to force them."

Despite the teams' resistance, Ecclestone "continues with his plan to introduce a budget engine for smaller teams."

He added that teams, manufacturers and top management "have to find a reasonable, common solution."

Ecclestone: "If this does not happen then FIA will introduce clear instructions for a new engine." He continued to say that should manufacturers not agree to them then "they can leave Formula 1."

Ecclestone: "They have that freedom" Die Welt

Ghosn to pay Lotus debts by Dec 31st
Ghosn to pay Lotus debts by Dec 31st

Renault To Pay Lotus Debts By End Of Year
French carmaker Renault "aims to complete its takeover of the Lotus Formula One team on Dec. 16 and pay creditors, including Britain's tax authorities, by the end of the year," according to Alan Baldwin of REUTERS.

All parties in a "protracted case brought against struggling Lotus by the Revenue and Customs authority over unpaid tax, with other creditors also represented, agreed to a further adjournment to Dec. 21."

A Lotus lawyer said, "We are in a different territory now."

After hearing none of the creditors objected to the adjournment that he said was "clearly in the best interests" of all parties, Justice Birss said, "You got away with it … or rather, it has been got away with."

The alternative "would have been to put Lotus into administration." Lotus CEO Matthew Carter, who attended the hearing, said that "the remaining matters were merely procedural."

Carter: "It's the 16th for the SPA and they (Renault) are agreeing to pay all the creditors by the 31st" Reuters

Wolff fights to keep Mercedes secret advantage
Wolff fights to keep Mercedes secret advantage

Mercedes sues F1 engineer for espionage
(GMM) World champion team Mercedes on Tuesday confirmed reports it is suing an engineer.

The Bloomberg news agency claimed the engineer Benjamin Hoyle, working for the German marque's F1 engine facility, took documents and data as he prepared to move to Ferrari.

Hoyle, who intends to join Ferrari after December, saved a 2015 Hungarian grand prix race report, engine data and code to decrypt race data, the report said.

"Mr. Hoyle and potentially Ferrari have gained an unlawful advantage," a filing, echoing an earlier espionage scandal in F1 involving McLaren and Ferrari, reportedly reads.

Mercedes is seeking to stop Hoyle's move to Ferrari or any other team.

Mercedes confirmed: "Legal action is underway involving Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains Ltd and an employee.

"The company has taken the appropriate legal steps to protect its intellectual property."

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