Latest F1 news in brief – Sunday

  • "Currently there is no team without an engine"

    Red Bull 'must reconcile with Renault' – Lauda

  • Renault yet to take Lotus buyout decision – Ecclestone
  • Haas to confirm Gutierrez on Friday
  • FIA allays F1 driver safety fears
  • Red Bull says work on 2016 car pushing ahead
  • Tost against 2016 in-season testing
  • Renault upgrade postponed to Brazil
  • Dennis against Red Bull/Honda deal

Red Bull 'must reconcile with Renault' – Lauda
(GMM) Suddenly, where once it was all change in the rapidly-divorcing worlds of Red Bull and Renault, everything could stay the same.

With Mercedes, Ferrari and even now Honda ruling out leaping to the powerless Red Bull's rescue, it appears now that patching up the broken bridges with its French partner is the only solution.

Niki Lauda agrees: "They have to reconcile with Renault.

"We know the situation with Mercedes, Ferrari and Honda isn't good, so where does that leave them? They have to accept Renault if they want to be on the grid," said the F1 legend and Mercedes team chairman.

'Want', of course, is the operative word.

"I have the feeling that he doesn't know at the moment if he is staying or going," F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, referring to Red Bull and Toro Rosso team owner Dietrich Mateschitz, admitted to Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

Ecclestone had earlier warned that a premature exit would spell legal trouble and multi-million dollar penalties for Red Bull, but he now says F1's door could be left open.

"If they want to go for one or more years, they can do that," he is quoted by Sport Bild. "We would then be happy to see them in F1 again."

A one-year sabbatical for Red Bull would mean the team could prepare for the new, probably Cosworth-supplied 2.2 liter twin-turbo engine for 2017, set to complement all-new technical regulations on the chassis side as well.

And many believe that, even amid diesel-gate, Red Bull is keeping the Volkswagen option open too.

"My opinion is that they (Red Bull) will be in trouble (for 2016) whatever engine they get because of the timing," Ecclestone told F1's official website.

Others believe that Ecclestone's 2.2 liter plan is a direct attack on Mercedes, who as the runaway dominant 'power unit' maker is essentially holding the sport to ransom.

Indeed, Ecclestone and Red Bull's Christian Horner on Saturday implied that Mercedes had reneged on an agreement to supply Red Bull from 2016.

But Mercedes' Toto Wolff said Red Bull triggered its own mess.

"Currently there is no team without an engine," he insisted at soaking Austin. "There is a team that voluntarily terminated its contract (with Renault)."

Lauda also denies he did an actual deal with Red Bull.

"It's true I met with Mateschitz," he said. "But there was no handshake and he never came back to us."

Jolyon Palmer won't be laughing if Renault does not complete Lotus buyout deal
Jolyon Palmer won't be laughing if Renault does not complete Lotus buyout deal

Renault yet to take Lotus buyout decision – Ecclestone
(GMM) As a U-turn on the Red Bull-Renault alliance now appears possible, it could be Lotus that is the team left without an engine to fire.

At one point, the Enstone team looked to have not one but two 'power units' for 2016: an existing contract with Mercedes, and an incoming Renault as the French carmaker completes its buyout negotiations.

In the meantime, Mercedes has switched its focus from Lotus to Manor, declaring that it does not have the capacity to add a fifth team next year.

And the 'Will Renault buy Lotus?' saga races on.

Renault has signed its famous 'letter of intent', but Bernie Ecclestone admitted in Austin: "They have not taken a decision yet."

And he suggested Carlos Ghosn, the Renault CEO, is not prepared to say yes or no until December, by which time it could be too late for any side to act upon that decision.

So it seems that Lotus is laying the asphalt for two roads: one with Renault, and one without.

"We are trying to plot a course through the turbulent times we're in at the moment, the best way that we can," admitted Lotus CEO Matthew Carter.

A big hint that Lotus perhaps expects the Renault deal to fall through is the now-confirmed full driver lineup for 2016.

While Pastor Maldonado is a one-time race winner and Jolyon Palmer the 2014 GP2 champion, the pair might also aptly be described as 'pay drivers'.

Sport Bild said Briton Palmer, the son of former F1 driver Dr Jonathan, is bringing no less than EUR 10 million to his 2016 race seat.

Another rumor is that Palmer has already paid the first instalment for 2016, which would explain why Lotus is suddenly no longer locked out of its hospitality areas at flyaway grands prix.

But if Renault is planning a fully-fledged works team with a Mercedes-like budget, the now-confirmed driver lineup does not appear to fit.

"With his unparalleled combination of talent, youth and experience, Kevin Magnussen was the obvious choice for Lotus," said F1 correspondent Peter Nygaard, writing for the Danish newspaper BT.

"For most people in the paddock, the decision to go with Palmer is incomprehensible."

It also leaves the new GP2 champion, Stoffel Vandoorne, without a F1 debut, which according to his GP2 boss Frederic Vasseur "is another sign that F1 is more and more about money and less and less about talent".

Indeed, Palmer-Maldonado makes much more sense in the context that Red Bull and Renault are staying together, and struggling Lotus is being left with its black and gold livery.

Ecclestone said: "Lotus has an entry so they can go ahead without Renault. All they need is an engine."

24-year-old Palmer also admitted in Austin that, although now with a contract under his arm, he is not sure what is going to happen.

"I don't really know inside the minds of the Renault bosses or the shareholders here, whether even if Renault doesn't happen they've something else in their mind," he is quoted by the Telegraph.

Haas to announce his funded Mexican driver on Friday in Mexico
Haas to announce his funded Mexican driver on Friday in Mexico

Haas to confirm Gutierrez on Friday
(GMM) The long wait for Haas to complete its first F1 driver lineup looks set to end next week.

It is now an open secret that the new American outfit, headed by Californian machine tool magnate and Nascar team co-owner Gene Haas, has signed up Ferrari reserve and Mexican Esteban Gutierrez to join Romain Grosjean at the wheel in 2016.

"We're going to make an announcement in Mexico City on Friday night," Haas, in Austin for the badly storm-affected US grand prix, told British television Sky.

Many in the Austin paddock, however, were wondering if F1 can even move on to Mexico for the second instalment of the North American double-header.

Worsening storms at the Circuit of the Americas on Saturday forced the postponement of qualifying until race-day, raising questions that if the weather is this bad in the US, what will it be like in Mexico, where the hurricane has actually struck.

But the New York Times reports that Mexican cities have in fact been spared major damage by what was earlier described as the worst ever storm system in modern history.

Early reports from Mexico's Pacific coast suggests there have been no deaths so far, with fishing villages hit hardest by the hurricane that was downgraded to tropical storm-strength once it entered the mountains in the most recent hours.

"As far as I know, we are going to Mexico (City) and everything is ok (there)," a source close to one of the F1 teams said in Austin late on Saturday.

Indeed, early weather forecasts suggest that even the chance of rain for the weekend of the Mexican grand prix is moderate to low.

Sainz Jr. went under the barriers in Russia
Sainz Jr. went under the barriers in Russia

FIA allays F1 driver safety fears
(GMM) Pastor Maldonado says he is happy with the safety levels in formula one.

With the death of Jules Bianchi still on minds in the paddock, the sport was further shaken at Sochi two weeks ago when Carlos Sainz and Romain Grosjean crashed heavily in separate incidents.

The Sainz crash raised many questions, including how his Toro Rosso appeared to 'submarine' under the Tec-pro barriers, causing a long delay in his extrication.

F1's governing FIA, however, allayed those fears during a briefing in Austin.

Safety Commission chief Andy Mellor said the barriers worked well, absorbing Sainz's 153kph impact within just 4 seconds with a maximum G reading of 46.

The Spaniard, however, raced the next day, with Mellor insisting that he was in fact never fully submerged under the Tec-pro, even though he acknowledged that the way the barriers moved was not ideal.

"We are looking for solutions so that does not happen again," he promised the drivers, according to Auto Motor und Sport.

Mellor said it only took marshals and medical officials so long to extricate Sainz because the Toro Rosso driver had signaled that he was conscious and not in any danger.

And the FIA is also speeding ahead on the safety front in other areas.

In Austin, Fernando Alonso and Daniil Kvyat's cars have been fitted with the new bespoke high-speed cameras, which in future will collect vital information about driver injuries when they are in use up and down the field.

"We want to see precisely what the head is doing in front, rear and side impacts," Mellor said.

Drivers were also shown various potential solutions for driver cockpit protection, including the 'halo' concept proposed by Mercedes, which will soon be tested.

"We are confident that the FIA and the teams are always working to make the cars safer," Maldonado said in a statement provided by his press aide Arturo Mora.

"We know we're in a high-risk sport," he added, "reaching incredible speeds of over 300kph and corners at over 200kph, but we see accidents like Sainz and Grosjean and they have no injuries.

"When everything is working as it should, the level of safety in F1 is high."

Adrian Newey pushes ahead with 2016 Red Bull design
Adrian Newey pushes ahead with 2016 Red Bull design

Red Bull says work on 2016 car pushing ahead
(GMM) Red Bull has denied that it will now run out of time to get a car ready to race in 2016.

The former world champions' engine supply crisis has dragged on for so long that even in Bernie Ecclestone's opinion, "They will be in trouble whatever engine they get because of the timing," he declared in Austin.

But Paul Monaghan, Red Bull's chief engineer, disagrees.

He said that notwithstanding the political crisis, work on the RB12 is pushing ahead, as even though the engine supplier is still unknown "large parts of the car design are fixed already".

As for the bits relevant to the specific specifications of the engine, "We just have to be patient," he is quoted by Speed Week.

"But with regard to the dimensions and the cooling, the power units do not differ that greatly from one another. So this is a challenge that we should be able to do," Monaghan said.

He also explained that the RB12 is fundamentally "a development of this year's car", so the overall "design concept" is not changing.

And the actual exterior of the car is "all about aerodynamics", said Monaghan, adding that work on computational fluid dynamics and in the wind tunnel is proceeding as normal.

"Our biggest advantage as a team is the skills of the staff who work with passion and dedication, allowing us to always keep to a very tight development plan," he said.

Tost against in-season testing
Tost against in-season testing

Tost against 2016 in-season testing
Toro Rosso Team Principal Franz Tost says that Formula 1 will be "wasting money" if it approves the return of substantial in-season testing in 2016.

Formula 1 has conducted limited in-season running across recent years, but tire supplier Pirelli is eager for further testing next season ahead of the planned major changes to the regulations in 2017.

Tost believes that the length of the calendar, allied to the costs of extra testing, mean that Formula 1 should not return to extensive mid-season running.

"We will increase the costs dramatically. I am totally against this testing," he said.

"We have some testing sessions at the beginning of the season and this should be enough.

"We have 20 races and, if you want to do some tests in between, you need to build up a test team which means we have to bring in another 10, 15 mechanics, another five to seven engineers.

"We would spend around 10 million more and I'm just asking whether this is necessary. Absolutely not.

"I can give you the answer, because we have seen now during the last years that without testing we can also achieve our goals. It's just wasting money."

Horner doesn't want upgraded Renault until Interlagos
Horner doesn't want upgraded Renault until Interlagos

Renault upgrade postponed to Brazil
Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner says that Renault's upgraded power unit will not be trialed until next month's Brazilian Grand Prix.

Renault brought a modified power unit to the United States but Red Bull and Toro Rosso opted against using it, believing that the benefits would not be sufficient to nullify the impact of a grid penalty.

The updated power unit will not be used at next weekend's Mexican Grand Prix, meaning that its introduction has been delayed until Formula 1 returns to Interlagos in mid-November.

"I think the situation for the Renault engine, for the updated version, which they are referring to as the D-spec, Renault have confirmed that the conditions for it to run in aren't quite right yet," Horner explained.

"So that has been postponed to Brazil, which for us makes more sense. We wouldn't want to be taking engines out of the car here or next weekend in Mexico."

Red Bull's future remains unclear following uncertainty over the team's power unit supply, but Horner is confident that a resolution will soon be confirmed.

"I think as we sit here there has been a great deal of speculation and interest in what the engine supply we are going to have next year is," he said.

"As we sit here now, nothing is fixed. There is a lot of discussion going on in the background and hopefully there will be a resolution fairly soon."

Ron Dennis knows his low budget unsponsored McLaren team cannot beat Red Bull on equal terms
Ron Dennis knows his low budget unsponsored McLaren team cannot beat Red Bull on equal terms

Dennis against Red Bull/Honda deal
Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has claimed that Honda is willing to supply Red Bull with engines in 2016, but that McLaren CEO Ron Dennis is against such a deal.

Red Bull remains without an engine supplier for next year, having agreed to split from Renault, and Honda has entered the frame after failed talks with Mercedes and Ferrari.

Ecclestone says he and the FIA agreed with Honda that the firm would supply two teams in its second year, but that McLaren now has a veto on which team that may be.

"The honest answer is that it would appear Honda are happy to give them [Red Bull] an engine and Mr. Dennis thinks they shouldn't," explained Ecclestone.

"Honda have an agreement with the FIA and myself that we would allow them into Formula 1 to supply engines to one team for the first year, two teams the second and three teams the third.

"They somehow got involved and made a commitment to Ron that he had a veto on any engines, and he doesn't want Red Bull. I think he believes they may be competitors.

When pushed on how McLaren could have secured a veto, Ecclestone added: "In fairness to Ron, he probably didn't know. I'm not blaming anybody. They are the facts.

"At the time, when they came in, the FIA said if we let you into Formula 1 you have to supply three teams, but they said as we are brand new into Formula 1 we don't think we can do that."

Ecclestone says he remains unsure if a Red Bull/Honda tie-up could materialize.

"Ron has said definitely not, so I don't know if his veto will stand up," he said.

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