Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • We ain't supplying Red Bull with any engines
    We ain't supplying Red Bull with any engines

    Wolff denies Red Bull engine talks back on

  • Ecclestone expects sale of F1 'shortly'
  • Next F1 owner must be committed – Wolff
  • Todt defends F1's Le Mans clash for 2016
  • Bottas' career could stagnate at Williams – Kovalainen
  • McLaren-Honda must look ahead to 2016 now
  • Lotus now locked out at Sochi
  • F3 leap not ruled out for Mick Schumacher
  • Lauda worried about Sochi's Singapore-like track
  • Haas' F1 and Nascar budgets are similar – Gene Haas

Wolff denies Red Bull engine talks back on
(GMM) Toto Wolff has hit back at Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner's claim that negotiations about a supply of engines for 2016 are back on.

Horner told the Red Bull-owned Austrian broadcaster Servus TV this week: "There are two competitive engines in formula one — Mercedes and Ferrari.

"There are talks with both."

Earlier, however, Mercedes team boss Wolff had ruled out jumping to the rescue amid Red Bull's engine crisis, but Horner insisted: "The decision does not lie with Toto Wolff. It is at a higher level than that."

But Wolff said at the Camp Beckenbauer global summit in Kitzbuhel, Austria: "They (Red Bull) negotiate, but not with us.

"In the summer we talked with Red Bull," he is quoted by SID news agency, "then we analyzed the pros and cons but there were no concrete negotiations.

"In September we stopped them (the talks) anyway," Wolff added.

Yup. we're going to sell it but I will still run it
Yup. we're going to sell it but I will still run it

Ecclestone expects sale of F1 'shortly'
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone said on Tuesday he expects formula one to be sold "shortly".

Earlier this year, multiple media reports suggested current owner CVC was eyeing a sale to one of several interested parties.

They included the Miami Dolphins' Stephen Ross, Qatar's sports investment arm, Sky and international telcom Liberty, the Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, or even Dietrich Mateschitz, CVC's Donald Mackenzie and F1 supremo Ecclestone himself.

84-year-old Ecclestone said by video at the Camp Beckenbauer global summit in Kitzbuhel, Austria: "Our shareholders are in a position at the moment where they have to lose some, or all, of their shares shortly.

"There has been a lot of interest, and I would say there are three parties at the moment. I'd be surprised if one of them doesn't buy very shortly," he added.

Asked if he is among the interested parties, Ecclestone said only: "We'll see."

What is clear, however, is that the diminutive Briton is set to keep his post in charge of the sport, as he revealed: "The people that I've spoken to have asked me if I would stay."

Next F1 owner must be committed – Wolff
(GMM) F1's next owner needs to be fully committed to the sport.

That is the view of Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, after F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone revealed that CVC is likely to sell its majority stake "shortly".

Among those reportedly interested are the Miami Dolphins' Stephen Ross, Qatar's sports investment arm, Sky and international telcom Liberty, the Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, or even Dietrich Mateschitz, CVC's Donald Mackenzie and F1 supremo Ecclestone himself.

"Bernie is always very good for headlines," Wolff declared as the news broke. "And headlines and controversy are part of F1."

As for F1's potential new owner, he was quoted by Brazil's Universo as insisting the sport needs "someone with a vision for the future".

Indeed, the CVC era has been controversial, with many accusing the private equity firm of not being well enough engaged with its investment beyond mere revenue-raising.

"CVC has been in charge for a long time," agreed Wolff. "Some investments have had very interesting results for F1.

"But it was always clear that they would want to sell the business eventually, as it is not their main focus.

"What is important for us now is that we have an owner who is totally preoccupied with the sport and has a good vision for the future."

Asked if he has a preference among the reported candidates, Wolff said: "Even if I did, I would not say. Let's see what will happen."

Jean Todt
Jean Todt

Todt defends F1's Le Mans clash for 2016
(GMM) FIA president Jean Todt has defended a controversial clash on next year's F1 calendar.

A re-jig of the Bernie Ecclestone-authored schedule for 2016, mainly to reinstate a long summer break, has resulted in the mid-June clash of the inaugural grand prix in Azerbaijan and the fabled sports car endurance race at Le Mans.

It means Nico Hulkenberg, the regular Force India driver, will not be able to return to Le Mans to defend his title with Porsche.

Some believe F1 supremo Ecclestone engineered the clash deliberately in order to stop his stars from hedging their allegiances, while others have pointed the finger at the Todt-led FIA for not pushing harder to stop it.

Frenchman Todt, however, told the French magazine Auto Hebdo: "Le Mans is protected as much as we can, but we also have to respect the interests and capacities of other disciplines.

"Avoiding the conflict of dates is not possible as there as so many competitions," he insisted.

"As for the grand prix and Le Mans, the F1 schedule will be made so as not to disturb the finish of the 24 hours. This is the best compromise we can make," Todt added.

Kovalainen
Kovalainen

Bottas' career could stagnate at Williams – Kovalainen
(GMM) Valtteri Bottas risks watching his F1 career stagnate at Williams, fellow Finn Heikki Kovalainen has warned.

Earlier this year, the now 26-year-old Bottas was a strong candidate to replace Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari for 2016.

The Maranello team, however, ultimately re-signed the 35-year-old Finn, leaving Bottas to spend his fourth consecutive season in formula one at Williams.

Former F1 driver Kovalainen, whose own career stagnated at Caterham following earlier stints at Renault and McLaren, commented: "Valtteri is still young. I see him on a good path.

"He has all the potential to become world champion. But whether he can do that at Williams is hard to say," the 33-year-old, now racing in Japan's premier GT series, told the Finnish broadcaster MTV.

"Valtteri eventually needs to get into a car that can win the championship, and if that doesn't start to happen beyond next year, he could lose the momentum.

"It is then hard to get back from that," Kovalainen added.

2015 is lost for McLaren Honda
2015 is lost for McLaren Honda

McLaren-Honda must look ahead to 2016 now
(GMM) McLaren-Honda is having to look beyond the final five races of 2015.

At Suzuka recently, the Anglo-Japanese collaboration looked set to unravel, amid Fernando Alonso's radio outbursts and Jenson Button's questionable commitment to the struggling team and F1.

But after Japan, McLaren re-signed Button, a chided Alonso's anger subsided and team supremo Ron Dennis even signed up a new sponsor.

"I was in Tokyo for several days (before the grand prix)," Dennis is quoted by El Confidencial newspaper.

"I think the time I spent there was very constructive and then over the (race) weekend there were discussions that were extremely constructive."

Amid those discussions, Dennis said he got the message that there is "no doubt" about Honda's commitment to F1, and its resolve to solve its problems.

"At all levels of Honda, they know what the challenge of F1 is, and they know exactly where we are today."

Indeed, Honda's F1 chief Yasuhisa Arai has acknowledged that the big problem is the "ERS" – or energy recovery – components of the power unit.

"In circuits with long straights, the extra power eventually ends and that means we lose about 160hp," the Japanese told Spain's El Pais newspaper.

"That loss is far greater than what we can gain from the combustion engine," he said. "But to solve it this year will be difficult because it requires a redesign, and we are already working on that for next season."

Asked if the current rules give Honda enough 'tokens' to make a significant improvement for 2016, Arai insisted: "Yes. There will be no problem with that."

Alonso hopes so, as he is now admitting that the remaining quarter of the 2015 season – 'flying away' throughout Russia, the US, Brazil and Abu Dhabi – will be more of the same struggle.

"It will be difficult to see much progress (this season)," he said. "The limitations we have now are very clear, and this requires some time during the winter to make the most progress.

"We will continue to use the remaining races to work on the setup for next year, have some aerodynamic improvements and get a little more experience with the engine," Alonso added.

"Right now we have to be patient and understand that we cannot do much in the five remaining races. There is much room for improvement but many things have to change," he said.

"I am optimistic. The first signs for next year look good, so let's wait and see."

Locked out again
Locked out again

Lotus now locked out at Sochi
(GMM) Lotus' travelling staff are once again locked out of the struggling team's designated paddock building ahead of a grand prix.

Amid the Enstone team's obvious financial trouble as negotiations with Renault continue, staff had no access to the Lotus-reserved hospitality tent at Suzuka recently because the bill was not paid.

Now, as the other F1 teams happily set up in the Sochi paddock, the same situation is unfolding.

That is despite the fact that Renault has signed a letter of intent to buy Lotus within the next few weeks.

"It looks like we're engaged to be married again," team deputy Federico Gastaldi said, "which is positive for the sport and positive for Enstone."

But it is not yet positive for those wearing black and gold uniforms in the paddock ahead of the Russian grand prix.

Indeed, one source said there was no sign of any activity whatsoever from Lotus' closed hospitality area or even the garage late on Tuesday.

Later, team staff were spotted sitting on the ground or utilizing a plastic garden table outside the locked paddock facilities.

Mick Schumacher riding on Daddy's coattails, it's clear he doesn't have it
Mick Schumacher riding on Daddy's coattails, it's clear he doesn't have it

F3 leap not ruled out for Mick Schumacher
(GMM) The immediate leap from Formula 4 to Formula 3 for F1 legend Michael Schumacher's son is not being ruled out.

16-year-old Mick, having graduated to single seaters this year, has just finished his first F4 season – the ADAC German series – in tenth place overall.

"He has become a strong guy in the field," said his team boss Frits van Amersfoort, who was also in charge last year when Max Verstappen made his meteoric leap from F3 to formula one stardom.

Now, Schumacher Jr is being tipped for the move to super-competitive F3 next year, but his mother Corinna declined to comment when asked by the German newspaper Welt.

Van Amersfoort, meanwhile, says no decision has been made, and there is no rush for now as the registration period for 2016 does not even begin until November.

"His victory in the beginning was lucky," he said, "then it was a little downhill and uphill but it was a normal development for a 16-year-old.

"He's made huge strides," van Amersfoort told the German broadcaster Sport1.

Schumacher's manager, Sabine Kehm, commented: "I am very pleased with how the season went.

"The learning curve was very steep but for his athletic and personal development, it was a good year. Now we will look calmly at how things will continue."

Blah, Blah, Blah, worried about nothing their 100 HP advantage won't solve. Sochi is nothing like Singapore. Nothing.
Blah, Blah, Blah, worried about nothing their 100 HP advantage won't solve. Sochi is nothing like Singapore. Nothing.

Lauda worried about Sochi's Singapore-like track
(GMM) Niki Lauda has admitted he is worried about this weekend's Russian grand prix.

Earlier, we reported that Mercedes is indeed nervous about Sochi, despite dominating recently at Suzuka.

Suzuka took place just a week after Singapore, where Mercedes' surprising slump handed victory to Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel who with his 59 point deficit remains in the mathematical struggle for the 2015 title.

So Lauda has told the London newspaper The Times that he is now heading for Sochi thinking about the similarities with the streets of Singapore.

"The championship is not over because my worry is this next race at Sochi has Singapore-type asphalt," said the F1 legend and Mercedes team chairman.

Mercedes, however, could actually wrap up the 2015 constructors' championship this weekend in Russia, but Lauda warned: "It is not done and not that easy.

"We have to work hard, stay competitive and then we are looking good, but you only look good when it is done."

Haas runs a backmarker on his NASCAR team to help pay the bills and will hire Gutierrez (who brings a big Carlos Slim check) to help pay his F1 bills.
Haas runs a well funded backmarker on his NASCAR team to help pay the bills and will hire Gutierrez (who brings a big Carlos Slim check) to help pay his F1 bills.

Haas' F1 and Nascar budgets are similar – Gene Haas
(GMM) Gene Haas says the money he will spend on formula one is comparable to his four-car operation in the American tin-top series Nascar.

Californian Haas has partnered with Ferrari and Dallara to enter F1 next year with a team to be spearheaded from the cockpit by current Lotus driver Romain Grosjean.

The approach is vastly different to F1's other recent new entrants, like the collapsed HRT and Caterham, and the current backmarker Marussia, as Haas is pushing the rules to the limit for what is being called a Ferrari 'B team'.

Haas has told the Italian magazine Autosprint that the first budget next year will be about $100 million — significantly less even than the financial loss recorded by dominant world champions Mercedes last year.

"In some ways," said the North Carolina-based Californian, "the numbers are quite similar to our commitment in Nascar, even if (for F1) we are talking about only two cars.

"At full capacity, it will be about 200 people, nearly half of teams like Williams or Force India. Our construction activities for the car will be very limited," he admitted. "At least compared to the other teams."

That is because the Italian single seater specialist Dallara is involved, while a great number of the components to make up the first 'Haas' car are coming straight from Ferrari.

"For this reason," added Haas, "we can run a significantly reduced operation."

He said the bulk of the team's activities will take place at Marussia's former factory in Banbury, while small groups of Haas engineers will be situated in Kannapolis in the US and Dallara in Italy.

"For the first year," Haas revealed, "we have planned a budget of $100 to 110 million. So with two cars in F1 it's similar to us with four cars in Nascar.

"If you talk about just the costs of the car, Nascar is about $20 million per car, while F1 is about $35 million per car," he added.

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