Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • If not for Bernie, Renault would have likely quit F1
    If not for Bernie, Renault would have likely quit F1

    Ecclestone involved in Renault buyout 'solution'

  • New tire rules trigger F1 confusion
  • Vettel to have 'almost no vacation'
  • Manor not ready to announce 2016 drivers
  • Rosberg 'can understand' Wolff's 'grey hairs'
  • Ferrari 'still inferior' to Mercedes – Marchionne
  • F1 could be sold before 2016 season – Ecclestone
  • Tickets on sale today for 2016 Russian GP

Ecclestone involved in Renault buyout 'solution'
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has admitted he was involved with the solution that means Renault is returning to F1 next year as a full works team.

The French carmaker signed a letter of intent to buy back its former Enstone based team from Lotus back in December.

But the deal stumbled over whether Renault would be granted full Mercedes and Ferrari-like 'historic' status in terms of bonus income payments from the Ecclestone-led commercial rights holder.

Renault, however, finally announced late on Thursday that the deal is done.

"Particular attention was paid to competing successfully with its (Renault's) own team in a financially sound way starting in 2016," Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn said of the talks.

"Renault had two options: to come back at 100 per cent or leave. After a detailed study, I have decided that Renault will be in formula one, starting 2016.

"The final details supplied by F1's main stakeholders gave us the confidence to accept this new challenge," he added.

It is believed no fewer than four meetings between Ecclestone and Groupe Renault marketing executive Jerome Stoll took place at the Abu Dhabi season finale last weekend.

Ecclestone confirmed to the German business newspaper Handelsblatt: "We came up with some solutions for them (Renault)."

The Renault statement concluded: "Work continues on finalizing the terms of the acquisition of Lotus in the shortest timeframe possible."

Tire confusion in F1
Tire confusion in F1

New tire rules trigger F1 confusion
(GMM) F1's governing body and Pirelli had heads scratching this week as new rules for 2016 were rubber-stamped.

It was already known that the sport had decided to spice up the action by giving more freedom to the teams regarding the selection of tire compounds in future.

It means three compounds will now be supplied instead of two — but it is there that the simplicity ends.

Of each driver's 13 tire sets next year, Pirelli "will choose two for the race (only one of which must be used in the race)," the World Motor Sport Council announced, "and one set (the softest available) that may only be used in Q3."

And unless wet tires are used, "a driver must use at least two different specifications of dry-weather tires — at least one of these must be the one chosen by the tire supplier," the FIA added.

In its own statement, Pirelli added: "The two mandatory sets chosen by Pirelli can be of two different compounds, from the three that have been nominated for the race weekend.

"The choices for each car will remain secret until 2 weeks before the race," F1's official tire supplier continued. "The choices made by each team can vary for each of its cars: so each driver within a team can have a different allocation."

Not only that, teams will have to decide which tires to 'give back' to Pirelli by certain deadlines, including during practice 1, and the end of FP1, FP2 and FP3 sessions.

"The two mandatory sets nominated by Pirelli cannot be given back during practice and must be available for use in the race. At least one of these two sets must be used during the race — but the teams can decide which one," the Pirelli statement added.

At least two drivers, past and present, admitted their confusion.

"I've got a headache after reading this!" said former F1 driver and now occasional TV pundit Karun Chandhok on Twitter, adding the hashtag 'UsualOvercomplicatedF1'.

And Romain Grosjean added: "So far the new tire regulation isn't clear to me. I'm glad I have an engineer to help."

No long vacations for Vettel
No long vacations for Vettel

Vettel to have 'almost no vacation'
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has played down any perception that he will have a long vacation ahead of the start of the 2016 season.

The long 19-race calendar for 2015 is over, but an unprecedentedly-long 21-race schedule for 2016 is now already looming.

World champion Lewis Hamilton admitted this week that he has been burning the candle at both ends in 2015, often getting just a few hours sleep before races.

"We'll be recording (music) until 1am, then I get up and I'll be driving the next day. It's crazy," he told BBC radio.

But when asked about his holiday plans now that the actual race season is over, Ferrari's Vettel told Bild newspaper: "If you want to hear something exciting, you will have to go to another garage in the paddock.

"I will have almost no vacation. The winter break gets shorter and shorter every year I am in F1. I will treat myself to a few days break, but the first tests for the new season start already in January," he added.

Will Alexander Rossi have a seat with the Manor-Mercedes team in 2016?
Will Alexander Rossi have a seat with the Manor-Mercedes team in 2016?

Manor not ready to announce 2016 drivers
(GMM) Manor owner Stephen Fitzpatrick would not comment on reports the British backmarker is close to a decision about its drivers for 2016.

With the team switching from Ferrari to Mercedes power, the German squad has been in talks with Manor about signing up its junior Pascal Wehrlein.

However, Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has also admitted Manor may have priced its cockpits too high, at a reported $10 million apiece for 2016.

"We have a driver budget, but not on this scale," he told Auto Motor und Sport.

So it is believed that incumbents Alexander Rossi and Will Stevens are in pole position to keep their seats, with both quoted as expressing confidence about the future when asked last weekend in Abu Dhabi.

Although the Red Bull teams are yet to make formal announcements, Manor – set to change its name for 2016 following the departure of founder John Booth and Graeme Lowdon – is effectively the last team on the grid whose drivers for 2016 remain unclear.

But team owner Fitzpatrick, when asked if Kevin Magnussen might also still be in the running, told the Danish newspaper BT: "You must understand that I cannot talk about drivers for 2016 yet."

Who me?
Who me?

Rosberg 'can understand' Wolff's 'grey hairs'
(GMM) Nico Rosberg has joined Lewis Hamilton in responding to reports Mercedes may consider dropping them for the sake of team harmony.

Boss Toto Wolff was quoted this week as suggesting that the acrimony between Rosberg and world champion Hamilton has reached the point that it may become detrimental to Mercedes as a whole.

Indeed, even after Wolff's warning, Hamilton continued to jab verbally at his German teammate this week, claiming the fact that Rosberg regularly 'complains' could be because he was brought up by a wealthy family in Monaco.

"I thought the last race was over and now it was time to take a break," Rosberg told the Austrian broadcaster ORF when confronted with Hamilton's latest comments.

"As for what Toto said, I can definitely understand that he has a few more grey hairs now after the past two years," the German added.

Hamilton, meanwhile, denied that any enmity between Mercedes' bickering race drivers hurts the team.

"It is always blown so much out of proportion," he told BBC radio.

"We have had 16 one-two finishes (actually 12) so our relationship is not really causing any problems," said Hamilton.

"It is not like he (Rosberg) has been distracted and not finished high up, or vice versa, so I think ultimately it is easy for people to take things for granted," he added.

"We have not caused any problems and the energy within the team is as high as it is ever going to be and that is because we do what we do how we do it.

"We are never going to be best friends but somehow we make it work," Hamilton said. "There are moments of tension but that is the same in any kind of sport I would imagine."

Finally, Hamilton admitted that although he went to the last races of 2015 determined to win, his motivation after wrapping up the title in October could explain his flagging recent form.

"You still have to commit and work super-hard but, for sure you're kind of like 'My job's done, I wish the season was over, wish I could go on holiday'," he said of the final trio of races in Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi, which were all won from pole by Rosberg.

Sergio Marchionne knows Ferrari did not really catch up much in 2015.  Will Mercedes improve their car more than Ferrari over the winter?
Sergio Marchionne knows Ferrari did not really catch up much in 2015. Will Mercedes improve their car more than Ferrari over the winter?

Ferrari 'still inferior' to Mercedes – Marchionne
(GMM) Sergio Marchionne has hailed an "outstanding" season for Ferrari at the end of his first year as the fabled marque's president.

After the turbulence and mediocrity of 2014, parent company Fiat ousted Ferrari's long-time president Luca di Montezemolo and installed a new team boss in the form of Maurizio Arrivabene.

And so with Marchionne now president of Fiat and Ferrari, he said of the fabled Maranello team's 2015: "At the beginning of the season we said that if we won three races, Arrivabene and I would dance the samba.

"The results were outstanding," the Italian-Canadian added after a shareholder meeting in Amsterdam, adding that he is happy he has avoided the "embarrassment" of doing the samba for now.

"17 podiums is confirmation that we have a great team capable of doing extraordinary things. (Sebastian) Vettel did a great season and he is a great guy, a great driver who has integrated well with the team.

"Now we look to 2016," Marchionne continued. "We have confirmed we have a great team by getting very, very close to Mercedes, but technically we are still inferior to them."

At Thursday's meeting in Amsterdam, shareholders approved the separation of Ferrari from Fiat Chrysler, following the recent floating of 10 per cent of the shares.

Now, Fiat will distribute the bulk of the remainder of the Ferrari shares, with the windfall to the group said to be about $4 billion.

Former president di Montezemolo is quoted as saying by Italian media this week: "Ferrari has become Fiat's cash machine."

If Bernie hears the right price F1 could be sold...again
If Bernie hears the right price F1 could be sold…again

F1 could be sold before 2016 season – Ecclestone
(GMM) F1 could still be sold within the next few months, according to Bernie Ecclestone.

The sport's long-time supremo, who runs F1 on behalf of current owners CVC, caused a stir when he said in October: "Our shareholders are in a position at the moment where they have to lose some, or all, of their shares shortly."

Now, Ecclestone has told the German business newspaper Handelsblatt that the transaction could take place before the start of the 2016 race season.

"I think they (CVC) will make up their mind in the next few months. I hope that before the start of the 2016 championship in March, we will have decided if we sell — or not," the 85-year-old Briton added.

Among those reportedly interested are the Miami Dolphins' Stephen Ross, Qatar's sports investment arm, Sky and international telcom Liberty, the billionaire father of new Williams tester Lance Stroll, or even Dietrich Mateschitz, CVC's Donald Mackenzie or Ecclestone himself.

Referring to F1, with a reported $8 billion value, Ecclestone admitted this week: "There are probably only four people who could buy it. Only they have the amount of money."

As for whether he will be retained as CEO, Ecclestone added: "That's a question that only the owner can really decide."

The diminutive Briton wrapped up his 2015 race calendar recently amid frenzied talks about the future of the rules, especially those about the engines.

He said it would be "nice to see Red Bull with a competitive engine, whatever it is" next year, and called upon other stakeholders to be more constructive as F1 looks to improve.

"What I would like to see is that the people in our business are a little bit more sensible and not so selfish. They should think more about the business they are in," said Ecclestone.

Tickets on sale for Sochi
Tickets on sale for Sochi

Tickets on sale today for 2016 Russian GP
On 4 December at 12:30 p.m. ticket sales for the third Russian round of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship that will be held at Sochi Autodrom next year from 28 April to 1 May will be launched.

One of the major new features of the 2016 FORMULA 1 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX are attractive ticket prices. The ideal price was determined following the results of the analysis of the spectators'; satisfaction with the level of organization of the 2015 FORMULA 1 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX.

The capacity of the circuit has also changed – the T1 Grandstand, which is especially popular among the spectators, has been extended to include one more sector with the capacity of about 2000 seats.

Taking into consideration a huge demand for the tickets in General Admission near Bolshoy Ice Palace, the organizers decided to respond to the needs of the Formula 1 fans and almost doubled the capacity, retaining the price at RUB 5,000.

Sergey Vorobyev, the Promoter of the FORMULA 1 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX said, "With every new round we enhance both services for spectators and the level of organization of the entertainment activities. The FORMULA 1 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX is not just a racing competition, it is a chance to make a big motorsport celebration in one of the most beautiful cities of Russia for a lot of motorsport fans with different levels of income. I think that the number of spectators that will come to Sochi Autodrom for the FORMULA 1 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX in 2020 will reach 100,000 people."

Ticket prices for the temporary grandstands, located in the most interesting turns of Sochi Autodrom, vary from RUB 8,300 to RUB 15,300. Tickets for the Main Grandstand starting at RUB 18,800 will be the most attractive for such motorsport fans who are interested not only in the race itself but also in the spectacular opening ceremony and would like to see the mechanics working in the pits and the Formula 1 podium ceremony.

Prices for mobility impaired customers have been decreased by 90% and are now ranging from RUB 1,900 to RUB 2,400.

The total number of tickets to be on sale for the third Russian Grand Prix will be almost 60,000. 2- and 4-day tickets will be available for purchase. 3-day tickets will be offered for the General Admission. Spectators who will come to attend the race weekend with the whole family will have a chance to purchase child tickets.

The option to choose the sector and the seat at a grandstand remains unchanged.

Regardless of the ticket type, any spectator of the race weekend will be able to visit the F1 Village, to attend entertainment activities and the concerts at the Central Square of the Olympic Park.

Besides, a special promotion "Come back to the Russian Grand Prix" is starting on 4 December 2015 and will last till 15 April 2016. The spectators of the 2015 FORMULA 1 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX will get a 10% discount. Full details are available at the box offices and at the Sochi Autodrom website.

Sergey Ivanov, CEO of RAF says, "The Russian Automobile Federation is the sports organizer of the Russian round of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship for the third year in a row. The previous Formula 1 race weekend turned out to be action packed and quite difficult, and it was a real test for the organizers of the competition, while the team demonstrated cohesive and effective teamwork at Sochi Autodrom. I am sure that a great teamwork will ensure the delivery of the 2016 Russian Grand Prix at the highest level and will give the spectators a chance to witness an exciting racing history unfolding."

Elena Glukhovskaya, the managing director of Parter.ru, said that the ticketing program of the Russian Grand Prix is the best: "The ticketing program of the Russian Grand Prix is without bias the best ticketing program among all the regular sporting events in Russia. To deliver this project we created a unique ticketing system, including a website for convenient selection and purchase of the tickets, we opened ticketing centers in 6 cities, a call center and a network of box offices in over 20 cities and introduced an access control system specially adjusted to suite the complex zoning pattern of the event."

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