Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Jean Todt – it's about time he did something for his salary

    Todt willing to help solve Red Bull crisis

  • Marko hopes for Red Bull crisis solution in Austin
  • Renault delay adds 'compromises' to 2016 car – Permane
  • Merhi not hitting back at Alonso's 'airplane' jibe
  • Ecclestone defends 'opinions' after pro-Putin interview
  • Verstappen leaves options open amid Red Bull crisis
  • Rosberg says he's fighting Hamilton, not Vettel
  • Manor seat could be too expensive for Wehrlein – Wolff

Todt willing to help solve Red Bull crisis
(GMM) Jean Todt has not ruled out getting involved to help keep Red Bull in formula one.

The current FIA president is regularly criticized for his low-profile, hands-off approach to F1.

And he told the Finnish newspaper Ilta Sanomat that he is not sure whether the energy drink company will pull both of its teams out of the sport.

"I don't know, but I hope not," said Todt.

"I have to admit that I am a little disappointed with the situation. They decided not to continue with Renault and now they have to find a different engine manufacturer.

"If I can help, I will help them for sure," he revealed.

"Red Bull is a great team that has had great successes, but we are also talking about the future of Toro Rosso. I hope a solution to this problem is found."

Dr Helmut MarkoDr Helmut Marko and Daniel Ricciardo
Dr Helmut Marko (R) and Daniel Ricciardo

Marko hopes for Red Bull crisis solution in Austin
(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko is hoping a solution to Red Bull's engine crisis is just around the corner.

The energy drink company is splitting with its current partner Renault, but it has hit brick walls in attempting to secure an alternative engine supply from Mercedes or Ferrari for 2016.

"At the moment nothing has been decided," Marko, a leading Red Bull official, told Germany's Auto Bild Motorsport.

"But I hope that by the race in Austin, we know where we are going," he added.

Notwithstanding the stalemate, rumors continue to run.

One is that the decision to scrap the newly-confirmed 2016 regulation requiring manufacturers to supply current-year engines to customers was made in order to keep the 2015-spec Ferrari power unit option on the table for Red Bull.

Another is that while Red Bull's rumored idea to resurrect a normally-aspirated V8 option for 2016, the energy drink marque could be setting its F1 sights a little further down the road.

Ralf Bach, a German correspondent with his own blog at, reports that for 2018, an engine formula to run parallel to the current 'power units' could arrive, having secured FIA president Jean Todt's approval.

It will center around a bi-turbo V6 producing some 1000 horse power.

Might that option entice Audi into formula one?

"I see no option to enter formula one today," the VW brand's motor racing chief Dr Wolfgang Ullrich is quoted by Spain's El Mundo Deportivo.

However, he admitted that Audi always keeps an eye on developments in F1, including the current engine crisis that is threatening Red Bull's future.

"We must analyze facts, clear facts, and then we would perhaps take a look if it (F1) has become more interesting for us than it has until now.

"But right now I do not see anything that goes in the direction of us being there," Ullrich added.

Renault delay adds 'compromises' to 2016 car – Permane
(GMM) Leading Lotus engineer Alan Permane has admitted every passing day risks adding "compromises" to the design of next year's car.

The troubled Enstone team is in the midst of a long delay as Renault considers turning its 'letter of intent' into the French carmaker's new works team.

If it happens, Lotus will need to adapt its 2016 car design to accommodate the Renault power unit, as CEO Carlos Ghosn has reportedly ruled out agreeing to a transition year with a Mercedes unit in the rear of a 'Renault' car.

But Permane admits that the hour is getting very late.

"As an engineer, you want to know where you stand as early as possible," he told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport. "March, ideally.

"Once the current car is running for the first time, a special design group is already looking at next year's car.

"But we will just have to cope with it," the Briton explained of the situation.

"We saw what Brawn GP managed to do, even though it was much easier with the V8s.

"Now there are so many more cooling elements to take into consideration. So the later you know what engine you have in the car, the more compromises you would have to consider," said Permane.

Another risk is that the delay could hold up the team's start to the pre-season, especially as the re-jigged race calendar has also fast-forwarded the 2016 test program.

A similar delay also risks compromising the test program of Red Bull amid its current engine supply crisis, team manager Paul Monaghan admits.

"It's getting a little bit late," he said. "It's wrong to say that anybody that runs the first test will automatically have a benefit on us.

"Yes, they might, but we could cope, so however the land lies, we'll deal with it."

Merhi knows the Manor cars are moving chicanes
Merhi knows the Manor cars are moving chicanes

Merhi not hitting back at Alonso's 'airplane' jibe
(GMM) Roberto Merhi has refused to criticize countryman Fernando Alonso for mocking the British backmarker Manor.

With Manor switching to Mercedes power for 2016, a cheeky Alonso recently ridiculed at notion that the F1 minnow might actually beat McLaren-Honda next year.

"With total respect for Manor," the Spaniard said, "I think they can put in an airplane engine and they will not be much further (up)."

Manor hit back on Twitter, scoffing that the team and Alonso can "discuss it when we're garage neighbors next year".

But declining to join any criticism of Alonso's comments is Merhi, the Spanish rookie whose season has been interrupted by Manor's mid-year signing of Alexander Rossi.

"Well, I didn't know that Fernando said that," Merhi told Spain's El Confidencial in an interview.

"Yes, it is true that we have some aerodynamic issues and also not much mechanical grip. We lack grip. It is very difficult to drive our car."

Merhi, 24, admitted that it has even been difficult to maintain his motivation at times in 2015, when blue flags are waving throughout every race.

"Honestly, when you do races like that, and then another and then another, from the fourth, fifth, sixth it does become quite a tiring situation," he said.

"It is a shame we cannot fight with the others. I have had to try my best to be in front of my teammate, but so far I have not had a car like (Will) Stevens has had."

Merhi will sit out Austin, Mexico and Brazil, but will return to the cockpit in Abu Dhabi while Californian Rossi rounds out his season in GP2.

Ecclestone defends Putin and his anti-American remarks
Ecclestone defends Putin and his anti-American remarks

Ecclestone defends 'opinions' after pro-Putin interview
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has defended airing his "opinions" in a controversial interview with Russian state-funded television RT.

Just as his sport makes to the trek to Austin for this weekend's action, the F1 supremo ruffled feathers by publicly backing Russian president Vladimir Putin.

"(He is) super. I'm his best supporter," Ecclestone, 84, said.

Putin is in the spotlight at present, and particularly in the US, for his intervention in Syria, but Ecclestone said: "I don't think Russia is concerned about the West.

"Maybe the West is concerned, and they should be," he added.

Ecclestone said he thinks there is "No place for democracy" anywhere in the world, and then admitted he is "not very enthusiastic" about America in general.

"The biggest problem with them (the US) is that they believe they are the greatest sort of power in the world," said the Briton.

"Believe, not in reality. It's a belief," Ecclestone clarified.

When asked about the controversial interview and the media response it triggered, Ecclestone told The Times: "I have opinions like anyone else.

"He (Putin) put on a good grand prix for us, so I have no problem with him at all."

Max Verstappen won't be pulling weeds in his garden in 2016
Max Verstappen won't be pulling weeds in his garden in 2016

Verstappen leaves options open amid Red Bull crisis
(GMM) An 18-year-old rookie is clearly the hottest property on F1's driver market.

Max Verstappen is under firm contract to Red Bull, but the energy drink company is threatening to pull out of F1 over its engine supply crisis.

Verstappen's father Jos and manager Raymond Vermeulen have already been spotted in conversation with Mercedes, and amid the same 'three cars per team' rumors, Max has also been linked with a potential move to Ferrari.

"For me personally," Max is quoted by the Dutch newspaper AD, "it does not really matter what team I drive for. I just want at some point to sit in the fastest one and go for the championship.

"Hopefully that will be with Red Bull, as they build very strong cars at the moment. So, who knows," he added.

The most logical outcome for young Verstappen is that Red Bull will stay in F1 and he will spend a second year with its junior outfit Toro Rosso.

But De Telegraaf quotes him as saying: "When you do well and get good results, things can change very quickly.

"That happened to me in F3. When I started, I had no idea I would be in formula one a year later. So things can change very quickly."

With his 100 HP advantage, Rosberg knows he can dust Vettel
With his 100 HP advantage, Rosberg knows he can dust Vettel

Rosberg says he's fighting Hamilton, not Vettel
(GMM) According to some, Lewis Hamilton has now established himself as clearly the de-facto 'number 1' at Mercedes.

Indeed, as that pecking-order appears ever-clearer, all of the fuel of the earlier bitter rivalry between the Briton and Nico Rosberg has now burned out.

"I just want to mention what a great teammate Nico is," Hamilton said in a telling recent tribute as Mercedes secured its second consecutive constructors' title.

Mercedes officials agree.

"Nico is incredibly important for the team," boss Toto Wolff told Germany's Sport Bild.

"He was here from the beginning and was an essential building block of our success and a real team player.

"Maybe Lewis is right now the strongest guy out there, but I would never write Nico off. The differences between them are still only marginal," he added.

Indeed, Wolff said that even if Hamilton does wrap up his third drivers' title this year – and potentially even this weekend in Austin – he will not be granted de-facto 'number 1' status.

"Both will continue to have the same conditions, both will be consulted in the development of the car and we will take into account both of their wishes," said Wolff.

Not only that, German Rosberg is firmly under contract.

"We have a long-term contract," Wolff confirms. "If some day we are unhappy we would say it, but that is not the situation we are in."

Rosberg, however, fell behind even Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel in the drivers' championship in Russia, but he says that does not bother him.

"I am fighting only for the title," said Rosberg, "and thinking about nothing else." But when asked if Hamilton might eventually help him displace Vettel, he insisted: "The best thing I can do at the moment is win."

Wolff is willing to give Manor a discount on engines to Manor next year for Wehrlein, but that might not be enough. A driver with a bigger check may be needed.
Wolff is willing to give Manor a discount on engines next year for Wehrlein, but that might not be enough. A driver with a bigger check may be needed.

Manor seat could be too expensive for Wehrlein – Wolff
(GMM) Toto Wolff has repeated his warning that there is no guarantee Pascal Wehrlein will make his F1 debut with Manor next year.

Before the newly 21-year-old German wrapped up the DTM championship at the weekend, Mercedes' Wolff had warned that Manor's new Mercedes engine deal was no guarantee of a route into F1 for Wehrlein.

"With a Mercedes engine and Williams technology as well, Manor now has a valuable cockpit to sell," Wolff had said.

Indeed, Will Stevens and Alexander Rossi – and their respective backers – are both pushing hard to keep their places at Manor beyond 2015.

So even with his firm Mercedes link and now a DTM title in his pocket, "It is far from certain that Pascal will go to Manor", Wolff told Speed Week.

"If they (Manor) ask too much, it will not work out," the Mercedes chief added. Wehrlein admitted last week that "it may well be that we decide to go for another year of DTM" in 2016.

Wolff added: "But if third cars come (in F1), Pascal has another chance."

However, Wehrlein's achievement at Hockenheim at the weekend is just the latest feather in the cap for Mercedes, who are also on course to win the drivers' title in F1.

"The constructors' championship in formula one, probably also the drivers' as well and the DTM drivers' title in one season has never been done before," Wolff beamed.

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