Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Jenson Button (R) puts in a good word for Kevin Magnussen (L)

    Button tips Magnussen for 2016 race seat

  • Marko rules out unilateral solution for Toro Rosso
  • Pirelli waiting for FIA to approve 2017 deal
  • Pirelli Considering More Aggressive Tires For Formula 1
  • Raikkonen, Bottas exchanged words after crash – Hakkinen
  • Lotus takeover unlikely until December – Gastaldi
  • Ferrari heir to make more than $1 billion as Fiat spins-off company
  • Rosberg: Mercedes now the 'big team'
  • Boullier satisfied with return to points

Button tips Magnussen for 2016 race seat
(GMM) Jenson Button has tipped McLaren-Honda stablemate Kevin Magnussen for a formula one race seat in 2016.

The pair were partnered together at the Woking team last year, but McLaren-Honda is now charging ahead with an all-champion lineup of Button alongside Fernando Alonso.

It has left Magnussen champing at the bit as mere McLaren reserve in 2015, and warning that if he does not return to a race seat next year, he will look outside of F1.

"I am in contact with several interesting teams both inside and outside of formula one," he told the Danish tabloid BT.

"Of course I hope to have something in place soon, but right now I just have to be patient," added Magnussen, who has been recovering from a hand injury sustained in a cycling fall.

McLaren chiefs have said they are pushing to help Magnussen take his next steps, and now 2014 teammate Button says the 23-year-old deserves another shot at a race seat.

"Personally, I feel he's a very talented and extremely quick driver, but as we know that isn't enough at the top level of formula one," said Button.

2009 world champion Button, however, says he watched Magnussen develop those necessary extra skills last year.

"I don't know whether or not he's got a chance of bagging any of the remaining vacant formula one seats," he said, "but he's clearly the best driver available and I'd therefore very much recommend him to any team that has a vacancy.

"He's good enough not only to race in F1, but also to help a team succeed in formula one," Button added.

Marko (L) says Toro Rosso won't compete without Red Bull
Marko (L) says Toro Rosso won't compete without Red Bull

Marko rules out unilateral solution for Toro Rosso
(GMM) More days have come and gone while Red Bull's now urgent engine crisis remains unsolved.

Owner Dietrich Mateschitz's end-of-October deadline is now looming large, with reports suggesting the Austrian billionaire has reverted to assuring the more than 1000 staff of the two teams that they will be given new jobs outside of F1.

"Maybe no news is good news," Red Bull Racing team boss Christian Horner said.

But The Times newspaper said Mateschitz has admitted that "only the future of his staff in Britain and Italy has prevented him from pulling the plug on F1 quicker".

However, while Red Bull Racing's search for a new engine partner has been utterly fruitless, there are more positive signs from the junior outfit Toro Rosso, who seem ready to do a deal with Ferrari for a 2015-spec power unit.

But Dr Helmut Marko has ruled that out, insisting that if Red Bull Racing is left empty-handed, Toro Rosso will also be pulled out of the sport.

"I am unaware of Herr (Franz) Tost's ideas, but it is clear that there can be only one holistic solution for Red Bull and Toro Rosso," the Austrian told Auto Motor und Sport.

Marko said he is not willing to estimate the chances that a solution can be found in percentage terms, revealing only: "We've been close a few times, but then nothing happened of it."

As for Bernie Ecclestone's confidant prediction that Red Bull and Toro Rosso will definitely line up on the 2016 grid, Marko presumed that was merely "Bernie's words in God's ear".

Pirelli pushing for 18" wheels in 2017
Pirelli pushing for 18" wheels and wider tires in 2017

Pirelli waiting for FIA to approve 2017 deal
(GMM) Pirelli is now waiting for the FIA to formalize its new deal to keep supplying tires to F1 teams beyond 2016.

As they symbolically shook hands on the Sochi grid last Sunday, Bernie Ecclestone and Pirelli CEO Marco Tronchetti Provera revealed that they have agreed terms over a new three-year contract until 2019.

Curiously, however, the usual celebratory press announcements from both Formula One Management (FOM) and the Italian tire company have been lacking, even though Pirelli's F1 chief Paul Hembery said he was "delighted" with the deal.

But Pirelli warned: "The process to the formal FIA official nomination will follow with its procedure."

Briton Hembery explained: "Bear in mind that it's the commercial aspects (of the deal) that have been agreed."

He is referring to the actual monetary value of the contract between the Ecclestone-led FOM and Pirelli, with official endorsement by the governing FIA yet to come.

"There is still a formal process to go through to the point of official recognition from the FIA," Hembery added.

"I guess that will be the World Council in December. But they (the FIA) have already approved us technically to go on to the commercial agreement, so it should only be a matter of process," he said.

Pirelli has made no secret of the fact that it is unhappy with the current testing limitations in F1, as it wants to introduce a new extra-soft compound in 2016 and then increase the size of the tires for the technical revolution of 2017.

So far, the marque has faced constant road-blocks in making post-season testing arrangements, but the French broadcaster Canal Plus reports that Pirelli will get a single-day test immediately after the Abu Dhabi season finale.

"We need to test in good conditions for the development of the tires for 2016 and the new tire size for the rule change in 2017," Hembery insisted.

"We will utilize the facilities in Abu Dhabi to maximize running by going into the evening with the lights, and possibly exploit the possibility of artificially wetting the track so that we can run rain tires as well," he added.

Pirelli wants to go softer
Pirelli wants to go softer

Pirelli Considering More Aggressive Tires For Formula 1
Pirelli "is considering a plan to deliver more varied action" in F1, with its new deal to be tire supplier from '17 now "all but done," according to Jonathan Noble of Motorsport.

Pirelli "has faced a tough time in finding the right balance between tires that degrade too much, and those that are too conservative like this year."

Pirelli Motorsport Dir Paul Hembery said that the plan from '17 "was to be a bit more aggressive, but some thought was being given to tailoring the approach to individual races."

This "would result in some events being flat-out blasts on low degrading tires, while others could deliver higher wearing rubber to produce more pitstops."

Hembery: "We are still being asked to do two or three stops, that is the idea." Motorsport

Raikkonen takes aim at Bottas in Russia
Raikkonen takes aim at Bottas in Russia

Raikkonen, Bottas exchanged words after crash – Hakkinen
(GMM) Countrymen Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen exchanged words in the wake of their controversial last-lap crash.

That is the claim of a third Finn, former double world champion Mika Hakkinen, who has weighed into the crash that cost Bottas a podium, Raikkonen a penalty and handed Mercedes an early constructors' championship win.

Bottas was utterly furious after the impact, as amateur video emerged of him throwing first his cockpit collar onto the track, and then his gloves against the spectator fence.

The stewards agreed, handing Ferrari's Raikkonen a post-race 30-second time penalty.

Raikkonen, however, argued: "I don't think it was something completely stupid that I tried (to pass). You never want to have accidents, but that's racing and things happen."

When told of Kimi's attitude, Bottas said only: "Well I don't agree.

"I can happily look in the mirror and say that it was not my fault."

Hakkinen, as part of Bottas' management team, told the Finnish newspaper Ilta Sanomat that he believes the 26-year-old and Raikkonen spoke privately after the race.

"I understand that a conversation did take place," he said.

"But it was not similar to when I went to see Ayrton Senna after our collision in Japan in 1994. At the next race I think Ayrton looked at me in a better light.

"He appreciated the fact that I had admitted my mistake in front of all of the Williams people. Ayrton looked me straight in the eyes and put a hand on my shoulder.

"I think it's better to admit your mistakes face to face."

After the race, Ferrari chief Maurizio Arrivabene commented only that he admired Raikkonen's fighting spirit, but not everyone was impressed with the Finn.

"Raikkonen tried as hard as he could and Sebastian (Vettel) blew him off in the end," F1 legend and Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda said.

"And he blew himself off by hitting Bottas. I don't think it was such a great drive," he added.

Hakkinen agreed: "In that situation, I think Kimi had some frustration that his teammate was once again ahead of him and heading for the podium."

Grosjean just could not wait for uncertainties with the Renault buyout of Lotus
Grosjean just could not wait for uncertainties with the Renault buyout of Lotus

Lotus takeover unlikely until December – Gastaldi
(GMM) The uncertainty about Lotus' future is likely to race on beyond the end of the 2016 season.

That is the admission of the struggling Enstone team's deputy Federico Gastaldi, despite the fact that Renault's letter of intent to buy Lotus referred to "weeks" rather than months for the process to be completed.

"I'm always nervous of letters of intent in formula one," former team owner and boss Eddie Jordan said. "Because they mean absolutely nothing — not even the paper they are written on."

It therefore becomes clearer why a top driver like Romain Grosjean, who is instead heading to the American startup Haas, would elect to leave the team rather than stake his claim on what could be a sought-after works Renault seat.

While it waits, Lotus is living hand to mouth, with Frenchman Grosjean admitting after his big Sochi crash that he hopes the team has the parts to fix the car in the two-week gap before Austin.

Even a favorite to replace Grosjean, the current Lotus reserve Jolyon Palmer, is nervous.

"I would absolutely love to confirm it (the seat) but I can't," he told the BBC. "It's no secret that I want it."

But even Palmer is wary of Renault's letter.

"If it (the Renault takeover) doesn't happen, maybe the current owners can dig deep and find something else for next year," the Briton added.

Palmer is not alone in eyeing the Grosjean vacancy, as names including Kevin Magnussen, Stoffel Vandoorne and Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne are all looking for a 2016 seat.

The Renault situation, however, is a complication.

"It is no longer a decision that we can take alone," Lotus' Gastaldi told the Danish newspaper BT.

"The entire acquisition is a long process which will probably end in December," he revealed. "I don't think any decisions will be taken before then, unless Renault management suddenly decide otherwise."

The driver question, then, is very much on the back burner.

"We were shocked that Romain decided to leave us, as he was the obvious man for the job," said Gastaldi.

"He has experience, he has been with us for years, he is French. So we were surprised when he decided to go to Haas.

"We were not preparing to have to find a new driver, and I can honestly say that at the moment we do not even have a list of potential names," he added.

Being French, Ferrari tester Vergne seems an obvious candidate, but Gastaldi insisted: "My personal opinion is that nationality is not going to play a role.

"But, again, this is something the new owners will have to evaluate."

Renault's F1 chief Cyril Abiteboul commented: "Right now we are concentrating on getting the agreement with Lotus in place."

Piero Ferrari
Piero Ferrari

Ferrari heir to make more than $1 billion as Fiat spins-off company
Piero Ferrari, 70, may have been forbidden to go near his father's racecars as a boy, but that hasn't stopped him from speeding to the top as one of the riches personal car owners in the world, thanks to his 10% stake in the company his father, Enzo started back in the 1920's.

In fact, Piero, who became vice-chairman of the group upon Enzo's death in 1988, will now see his legacy and personal fortune rise to $1.3 billion with the sale of 17.2 million shares, (or 9%) of the company, for $48 to $52 each as per its filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission That price range "values the sports-car producer as high as $9.82 billion despite the VW emissions scandal" according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, which also reported that Piero also received $320 million in cash as part of the reorganization of Ferrari before the listing.

The deal is part of Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne's plan to spin-off Ferrari in order to expand Jeep, Alfa Romeo and Maserati around the world. In the meantime, the Agnelli clan, which controls Fiat Chrysler will control 24% of Ferrari (and 30% of its voting power compared to Piero's 15%) through its holding company, Exor.

While Enzo Ferrari (himself a racecar driver for Alpha Romero)first founded the Scuderia Ferrari racing team in 1929, he did not produce its first car until 1947. This was followed by a street car in 1948. Ferrari then began competing in F1 2 years later, where it has won 225 Grand Prixs and 16 world championships, thanks in great part to drivers such as Michael Schumacher (the most successful driver in the history of Formula 1), and well 4-time champ Sebastian Vettel (who actually won his titles while racing for Red Bull). This year Vettel won the Malaysian Grand Prix, Hungarian grand Prix and Singapore Grand Prix (after winning Ferrari's first pole om 3-years.

Fiat first acquired a stake in Ferrari 1969, when it bought 50% of the company and began increasing its production of cars for the road, rather than the track.

Rosberg
Rosberg

Rosberg: Mercedes now the 'big team'
Nico Rosberg says that Mercedes is now the "big team" in Formula 1 after it secured its second successive Constructors' Championship, believing that the outfit can dominate across the coming years.

Rosberg switched from Williams to Mercedes when the German manufacturer acquired Brawn Grand Prix at the end of 2009 and has taken all 11 of his Formula 1 victories with the marque.

Rosberg retired from the lead in Russia, but Lewis Hamilton's victory – allied to Ferrari's result – enabled Mercedes to build an unassailable advantage in the Constructors' race.

"I've seen this team grow since the start of the Silver Arrows project in 2010 and the level we've got to now, all working together, is unbelievable," Rosberg said.

"There were some really tough years at the start but we are now the big team of Formula 1 – dominating the sport and breaking records along the way.

"When people think of F1 throughout history, it's only a handful of teams like McLaren in the 1980s, Williams in the 1990s and Ferrari in the 2000s that come to mind – and we are now making our own mark on that list."

Rosberg is sure that Mercedes will be able to continue its success in the future.

"What's amazing is that there's so much potential here too," Rosberg said, referring to its factory at Brackley and engine base at nearby Brixworth.

"Together, there's no limit to what we can achieve in the coming years. I look forward to many more great memories and exciting times ahead."

Boullier satisfied even though McLaren-Honda cars still moving chicanes
Boullier satisfied even though McLaren-Honda cars still moving chicanes

Boullier satisfied with return to points
McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier expressed satisfaction that the outfit was able to return to the points for the first time since the Hungarian Grand Prix as Jenson Button finished in ninth position in Russia.

McLaren has endured a difficult reunion with Honda but after a four-race drought Button was able to pick up more points, bringing the team's tally to 19, though Fernando Alonso lost 10th place after a penalty for exceeding track limits.

"Rarely, if ever, have two world championship points been harder earned or more richly deserved, for Jenson and Fernando both drove the wheels off their MP4-30s in Russia," said Boullier.

"The circuit isn't one that suits our car well, and the drivers found it difficult to defend their positions on the straights in particular.

"But they didn't put a foot wrong, and I'm delighted that we were able to score another points finish, even though sadly Fernando later lost his 10th place in the Stewards' room."

Boullier is confident that Honda is making progress, though is wary that the parties still have substantial work to carry out.

"I'd also like to say 'well done' to our friends at Honda, whose power units again performed with commendable reliability," he said.

"We've got a lot of work still to do, but the good news is that, together, we're successfully doing it.

"Next up is the United States Grand Prix, where we're hoping to continue making steady progress. We know we're not where we want to be yet, but we're getting there."

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