Latest F1 news in brief – Saturday

  • Magnussen now has to look to DTM, WEC or IndyCar
    Magnussen now has to look to DTM, WEC or IndyCar

    'Travesty' if Magnussen locked out of F1 – Carlin

  • Hulkenberg reveals he lost weight in 2015
  • Haas books chassis crash tests for January
  • Kaltenborn hits back after Lauda attack
  • Hurricane could ruin US and Mexican grands prix
  • Palmer joins but Lotus' future still clouded
  • 2015 title will not be Hamilton's best memory – Andretti
  • Austin to close parking lots due to rain

'Travesty' if Magnussen locked out of F1 – Carlin
(GMM) Kevin Magnussen could be left with no role at all in F1 in 2016, after McLaren-Honda showed him the door.

Team boss Eric Boullier on Friday hit back at suggestions the Dane was actually "fired", amid reports it was Ron Dennis' secretary who broke the bad news via email — on Magnussen's birthday.

"As far as the process, I will not comment," Boullier said in Austin.

"His contract was ending this year, there was an option to renew and we decided not to for several reasons."

One of those reasons, we have learned, is that McLaren has definitely decided to replace Magnussen as reserve driver with Stoffel Vandoorne, the new GP2 champion.

Lotus has also closed the door on Magnussen by signing Jolyon Palmer, and the Danish newspaper BT reports that the final option for Magnussen could be a reserve driver role with another team — but with no actual driving guaranteed.

If that happens, "It would be a travesty", Magnussen's former boss in British formula 3, Trevor Carlin, told the Danish newspaper BT.

"The other day someone asked me which driver Kevin's driving style most reminded me of," he said. "I had a good think about it before I answered, and then I answered truthfully. 'Ayrton Senna'.

"Any driver who finishes second in his very first formula one race should be a permanent fixture in a competitive formula one team's race seat," Carlin added.

"It would be a travesty if Kevin fails to find a formula one race drive next year, because he's very definitely world champion material, mark my words," he said.

Nico Hulkenberg
Nico Hulkenberg

Hulkenberg reveals he lost weight in 2015
(GMM) Nico Hulkenberg has admitted he has slimmed down during the course of the 2015 season.

Although highly rated and the reigning Le Mans champion, German Hulkenberg has struggled at times at Force India this year, where his teammate is Sergio Perez.

Mexican Perez is just 5 foot 6, while Hulkenberg is – on F1 standards – a tall 6 feet.

In weight, it reportedly equates to about a 10 kilogram difference between the pair, giving Perez a potential advantage in terms of the positioning of ballast.

So Hulkenberg admitted to German television Sky on Friday that he has lost some weight, although he would not say how much.

"I have lost something," he smiled, revealing that it was enough to mean an adjustment to his seatbelt measurements in Sochi two weeks ago.

Haas books chassis crash tests for January
(GMM) Haas' preparations for its 2016 formula one debut are speeding up.

Gunther Steiner, the new American team's boss, is on site in Austin this weekend, and on Friday was spotted chatting with Esteban Gutierrez in the Ferrari hospitality.

Mexican Gutierrez, currently the Ferrari reserve, is expected to be named as Romain Grosjean's teammate within the next few days.

F1 legend Mario Andretti admits Grosjean is an excellent choice.

"I know that (team owner) Gene (Haas) is already talking about points, and if he succeeds with Romain Grosjean I say 'Chapeau!'" he told Welt newspaper.

"In any case, they have put a great driver under contract."

Unlike the failed US F1 project, the sport's latest American entrant is preparing at full speed for its debut, with Steiner revealing in Austin that the crash-tests for the chassis have been "booked in" for early January.

"So we have everything well under control," he told Germany's Sport Bild.

Haas has raised eyebrows but also turned heads with its innovative approach to starting a new team, by allying strongly with Ferrari to buy any and all components that are allowed under the 'customer car' rules.

"We couldn't make those parts any better than Ferrari can," said Steiner, "so that's why we're buying them.

"Even to drive in the middle of formula one, let's say with a Sauber or Force India, the technology standard is insanely high," he explained.

"If you start from zero, like Caterham or HRT did, we know how it ends. That's is why we are trying something different, and we believe it will work out."

Kaltenborn and Ecclestone
Kaltenborn and Ecclestone

Kaltenborn hits back after Lauda attack
(GMM) Monisha Kaltenborn has hit back in the wake of an equally venomous attack by the F1 legend Niki Lauda.

Lauda, the Mercedes team chairman, recently lashed out at Sauber for joining Force India in the complaint about F1's governance to the European Commission.

But he also attacked boss and co-owner Kaltenborn personally, saying her behavior was "stupid" amid the Giedo van der Garde affair.

"Sauber should fight first against their own inabilities," Lauda had told the Swiss weekly Handelszeitung.

Now in Austin, a furious Kaltenborn hit back at Lauda, saying he either "doesn't care" or "doesn't understand" the nature of the European complaint.

"I do wonder about a global player like Daimler permitting a prominent person to make such wrong and lowbrow statements," she is quoted by Speed Week.

Lauda, she added, "should know better, as he has dealt with these things already with his airlines. In this respect, he is experienced, but also because of his age he should have more experience than myself in these matters," said Kaltenborn.

"But not everyone is wiser with age," she quipped.

Hurricane Patricia is huge
Hurricane Patricia is huge

Hurricane could ruin US and Mexican grands prix
(GMM) As rain streamed down and lightening spooked those cowering in the grandstands, F1 was forced to cancel the second Friday practice session in Austin.

One question it raised was, if the field can cope with fewer practice laps, why doesn't formula one permanently cancel the long and unpopular 'free practice'?

"If it's the same for everyone, why not?" F1 veteran Felipe Massa told UOL amid the long periods of down-time on Friday.

"If you reduce practice because nobody wants to watch them, no problem. We used to have the morning warmup (on Sunday) and once it went, nothing changed," he added.

That, however, is a debate for another day. The big issue now is whether Hurricane Patricia, reportedly the worst storm in the recorded history of weather, will totally spoil this weekend's US grand prix.

And if it has brought this weekend's grand prix into doubt, what will happen in the coming days when F1 is scheduled to travel to Mexico, where Patricia has actually struck the Pacific coast with its devastating 325kph winds.

On Friday at Austin's Circuit of the Americas, marshals were not allowed at their posts amid the lightening and the medical helicopter could not fly, making practice impossible.

Over the circuit loudspeakers, spectators were told to seek shelter, and on local radio fans were urged to stay away from the track altogether.

And Red Bull boss Christian Horner told Bild newspaper: "I can't see us driving a single meter here on Saturday. This (weather) is going to get worse."

The rumor now is that F1 will have to scrap Saturday's proceedings altogether, rescheduling it for Sunday, when the weather could be better.

But "It looks as though the rain will increase now," agreed Steffen Dietz, representing the F1 specialist weather service Ubimet.

"It could mean there is no qualifying at all. We are expecting local flooding in and around Austin."

Williams' Massa agreed: "If the forecasts are right, nothing will happen tomorrow (Saturday) and we will have to do qualifying and the race on Sunday.

"But that's only if the conditions allow it. At the moment it's wait and see."

Jolyon Palmer
Jolyon Palmer

Palmer joins but Lotus' future still clouded
(GMM) The future is still clouded, but Lotus at least has a full driver lineup for the 2016 season.

2014 GP2 champion and current team reserve Jolyon Palmer, it was announced on Friday, will be Pastor Maldonado's teammate.

Briton Palmer is the son of former F1 driver Jonathan Palmer, but despite his successes he is understood to be bringing millions to the troubled Enstone team for 2016.

Already this year, 24-year-old Palmer's appearances on Fridays have reportedly cost his father and backers more than $300,000 per practice session.

So combined with the polarizing figure Maldonado and his PDVSA millions, the team's driver lineup is raising eyebrows, because a letter of intent says Renault will soon buy Lotus and make it a fully-fledged works team for 2016.

Renault has outwardly lofty ambitions for 2016, as technical official Remi Taffin declared on Friday that a new engine specification – to debut in Brazil – will be worth a few tenths of a second per lap.

As for 2016, "Our goal is to find between a half and a full second," he is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport. "We need to close the gap to the front."

Currently, however, there is no confirmation even that the French carmaker's F1 project will extend beyond 2015 at all.

Indeed, Red Bull is reportedly back in talks to patch up its relationship with its current supplier, but boss Christian Horner played that down on Friday.

"I think until they commit to whether they're going to be in formula one or not, it's difficult at this stage to take that (the talks) any further," he said.

So it means Lotus' future is also terminally clouded at present, even though the official line is that Renault intends to buy – and therefore rescue – the Enstone team.

"It's difficult for us to talk in any great detail but we certainly have an idea of the route we are going to go down next year," said team CEO Matthew Carter.

"We can't confirm anything at this stage but we certainly are heading down that route and things back at Enstone are taking shape."

The Renault situation means that not only Maldonado and Palmer's futures, but also the quartet of Red Bull-contracted drivers, are in very real peril.

"Well, I don't know," lead Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo told the Spanish daily El Pais.

"I always try to think positively and I cross my fingers that the situation doesn't turn against me, but even if Red Bull decides to go I think I've done enough to get a few other teams interested."

Mario Andretti
Mario Andretti

2015 title will not be Hamilton's best memory – Andretti
(GMM) According to F1 legend Mario Andretti, Lewis Hamilton has been "outstanding" as he raced to match point in the 2015 world championship.

But the 75-year-old, who won his title in 1978, does not think 2015 will be the "most significant" memory when the soon-to-be triple world champion looks back on his career.

Asked if that is because Hamilton has so easily dominated at the wheel of the superb Mercedes, Andretti agreed: "Everybody wants to see fights for victory.

"Not only the spectators, but also the drivers," he told the German newspaper Die Welt.

Indeed, Hamilton admitted as much in Austin, where – if the foul weather allows – he is just a handful of points from knocking his only mathematical rivals Sebastian Vettel and teammate Nico Rosberg completely out of contention.

"Whatever changes they (F1 authorities) make, I want to see closer racing," said the 30-year-old. "Wheel to wheel racing."

Andretti said: "I'm sure that Lewis will not look back on this year as his most significant memory."

Asked if the lack of on-track, wheel-to-wheel rivalries is what he is talking about, the Italian-American confirmed: "Yes.

"Everyone knows that if you really strive for something, you have setbacks but you still manage to get it, that is the real sense of triumph. And it's the same for race drivers," he said.

"You can only get that great satisfaction with a win or a world championship when you really had to earn it.

"What we see now is a F1 where the equipment matters so much and the drivers make less and less of a difference. So Hamilton has looked like the world champion from quite an early point," explained Andretti.

"I'm sure he would have liked the battle to be tougher here and there. As a driver, you remember the wins that you achieved in the final laps, not the one you led from the first lap."

And so as Hamilton's third title looms, it is time to consider him among the true greats of F1 history, alongside fellow triple champions like Ayrton Senna and Niki Lauda.

Asked about that, Andretti said: "That's hard to answer, because I don't know how much more he will achieve yet.

"On the other hand, how many titles would Ayrton have won if he was not killed? That's why those pure number games are always quite difficult.

"The fact is that Lewis has achieved a great deal, even though he is still quite young," he added.

Austin to close parking lots due to rain
Due to the severe weather at Circuit of The Americas (COTA) and concern for our patrons’ vehicles, the Circuit is making the following parking changes for Saturday only.

All patrons are encouraged to use the downtown shuttle located at the Austin Convention Center at 4th and Trinity. Any pre-paid parking passes for any lot are good for four (4) individuals to ride the downtown shuttle free. The shuttle drops off at COTA at the Grand Plaza.

Lots G, L, N

These grass lots will be closed and these patrons will need to use the downtown shuttle.

Lot E

Lot E permit holders should use Lot F.

Lot F

Lot F will remain open, but encouraged to use downtown shuttle

Lot T

Lot T permit holders should use Lot Q, located 1.5 miles east of COTA along FM 812 near Maldonado Trail.


973 pre-paid permits should use the paved Southeast Metropolitan Park (located on the north side of SH 71 at Ross)or Del Valle High School (located on east side of Ross south of SH 71).

Lots A, B, C, D, H

These paved lots will remain open for pre-paid permits only.

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