Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Steiner and Haas need to be ready 2-weeks earlier

    Haas caught off-guard by early season start

  • Alguersuari quits motor racing for music career
  • Sainz hopes Red Bull engine crisis over 'soon'
  • Jorda admits Lotus test on back-burner for now
  • Button now eyeing F1 deal for 'exciting' 2017
  • Grosjean: I would have raced for Renault
  • Bottas: Williams switching focus to 2016
  • Button was 'in two minds' over future

Haas caught off-guard by early season start
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone's re-jigged calendar for 2016 is ruffling a few feathers this week.

At the World Motor Sport Council in Paris, the F1 supremo's amended 21-race calendar – with the Melbourne opener now two weeks earlier than planned – was rubber-stamped on Wednesday.

It means the winter testing season now also needs to be put in reverse, with Barcelona to host the first action towards the end of February rather than in March.

Mercedes' Paddy Lowe had admitted that the original March schedule had altered teams' preparation plans for 2016.

"Slightly different," he explained, "because we have an extra month – apparently – next March."

Lowe said "apparently", because in the last couple of weeks it was clear that moves were afoot to reinstate a long summer break.

But the late change of plans may have caught Haas, the new team for 2016, off-guard.

"Everything was designed for the start of testing on 1 March," team boss Gunther Steiner told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"Now we have to somehow gain time and rewrite our production plans."

Meanwhile, the Straits Times newspaper reports that Singapore is not happy that nearby Malaysia's race has been moved from the start of the season to October.

"We provided feedback to Formula One Management (FOM) that we are not in favor of back-to-back sequencing of our race," organizer Singapore GP declared.

Jamie Alguersuari - his check just wasn't bid enough
Jamie Alguersuari – his check just wasn't bid enough

Alguersuari quits motor racing for music career
(GMM) Former F1 driver Jaime Alguersuari has retired from motor racing at the age of 25.

In August, the ex-Toro Rosso racer had to step out of his Formula E cockpit following a fainting episode after the Moscow round, with his license suspended by the FIA pending medical tests.

"Recently we learned the results," he is quoted this week by the Spanish newspaper El Confidencial, "and I'm fine with no illness, but I have decided to stop because it is a time for a change.

"Something tells me it's time to take another road because I think I have fallen out of love with this bride (motor racing) who has been with me all of my life.

"I think it's time to wake up in the morning and do something I love, and that is not cars."

Alguersuari admitted that his great love is music, as he has worked extensively as a DJ and – under the stage name Squire – he released an album in 2011.

"The fainting (in Moscow) is a factor but not the only one," Alguersuari admitted. "F1 was an important part of my life and afterwards I tested tires (for Pirelli), I tested cars, I tried to be a commentator and I didn't like it.

"I do not know what will happen next but I will make music. I have many people around me who do not understand my decision, but I want to live honestly, and that is not how I have felt in motor sport.

"I do not want more money, I want to live the truth," he added.

Sainz Jr. praying for Ferrari engines
Sainz Jr. praying for Ferrari engines

Sainz hopes Red Bull engine crisis over 'soon'
(GMM) Carlos Sainz has admitted to some nervousness about Red Bull's F1 crisis.

The energy drink company has threatened to pull both of its teams out of the sport because, as things stand, it cannot find a competitive alternative to its underpowered Renault engines.

That is despite the fact that Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso are actually committed contractually to F1 through 2020.

"Well, as Bernie Ecclestone would say, circumstances change," team boss Christian Horner insists, "and circumstances now are very different."

Red Bull's quit threat – although it has been heard before – is being taken more seriously this time, as the two teams are genuinely without engine deals less than five months before pre-season testing for 2016 is due to begin.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that, if the two teams do go, it is now too late for rival teams to roll out a 'third car' scenario in time for the 2016 season opener.

And at the same time, the talented quartet of Daniel Ricciardo, Daniil Kvyat, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz are nervously waiting to know if they will have a cockpit to sit in.

"I'm calm," Spaniard Sainz told Marca sports newspaper this week, "as the team is happy with me."

Like his Red Bull colleagues, the 21-year-old said he is sure a solution will eventually be found. "In any case, it would be good to know soon so that the team can design the back of the car," said Sainz.

"Every day that passes is one less day of development."

He admitted that the most likely option is a Ferrari deal, which would mean more power for Toro Rosso compared to its current Renault engine.

"I imagine yes," said Sainz, "and we could have a good car next year as well. If we continue with how we have gone this year, with perhaps a little better engine we could give a real surprise."

Her looks and money could not get her an F1 test
Her looks and money could not get her an F1 test

Jorda admits Lotus test on back-burner for now
(GMM) Carmen Jorda has admitted her "dream" of actually driving a formula one car has been put on the back-burner for now.

Amid some controversy about the former GP3 driver's credentials, the 27-year-old Spaniard was signed this year by Lotus as development driver, and has been travelling the calendar with the Enstone team.

It was expected Jorda would actually test the black and gold car this year, but then Lotus struck its well-documented financial troubles amid the potential buyout by Renault.

Asked to assess her 2015 so far, she told the Spanish sports daily Marca: "It's my first season and I'm happy with how far I have come.

"But my dream to test the car has not happened because of some problems with the team. Yet I know that my time will come and so I have been focused on working in the simulator and on my physical preparation," Jorda said.

She admitted not actually driving yet is a setback, but is happy she is carrying the baton for female drivers all over the world who dream of a career at the top of motor sport.

"I am satisfied," she insisted, "because it's not as though you arrive and that's it. Everything is a process with ups and downs, like now with the team problems that have not allowed me to do as was planned."

When asked about the progress of the Renault buyout, Jorda answered: "I am very focused on my work, which I do every day with the engineers.

"I also know that our management will do their best for the team, but it (the buyout) is likely to happen.

"In the end, a F1 team is a business and if the company has financial problems that of course affects everyone. And yet in Japan we had both drivers in the points, showing that we have a very good technical team despite the difficulties," she added.

Asked, then, where she sees herself in five years, Jorda answered: "My sole focus is on testing the car in six months or a year. It's the only thing in my mind."

Button thinks 2017 will be really good
Button thinks 2017 will be really good

Button now eyeing F1 deal for 'exciting' 2017
(GMM) Jenson Button might not be ready to retire even after the 2016 season.

In the past few weeks, the 35-year-old has made no secret of his deliberations about the future amid an apparent contractual dispute with McLaren.

But now with his full pay-rise promised, 2009 world champion Button has indicated he might also keep the fire burning for 2017, when a technical revolution designed to considerably speed up F1 is set to take place.

"For me, the exciting year is 2017," he admitted to Auto Express.

"There's going to be so much more mechanical grip — from what I've seen it could be four or five seconds quicker a lap through mechanical grip and aerodynamics.

"That for me is exciting, that takes me back to 10 years ago. Also, I've just heard that next year they're going to be making the cars sound a bit better — F1 isn't in a bad place at the moment and it's going to get better," added Button.

However, an obvious cloud is hanging over McLaren-Honda at present, causing more than one pundit to wonder about the future of the Anglo-Japanese collaboration.

Former F1 team owner Gian Carlo Minardi told Il Giornale: "The (Honda's) technical gap is significant and it is hard to see the improvements coming.

"At the moment I do not see a future for them in formula one after 2016," he added.

Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo, however, sounds committed, even though he admits the Japanese carmaker has found the challenge of the new power unit era "fiercer than expected".

"We understand it is not an easy task, and we should not expect a radical change in our performance in the near future, but we remain dedicated to achieving the first win with this team and we will continue to make our best efforts with McLaren to achieve better results and success in the future," he added.

What is clear is that, now that he has committed to F1 for 2016, any talk that Button might combine next year's calendar with racing at Le Mans will definitely stop.

That is because Bernie Ecclestone has scheduled the inaugural race in Azerbaijan next year to clash with the fabled endurance sports car race, which earlier this year was won by Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg.

"I like what Bernie's done with that," Button laughed. "He's just made it clear that F1 drivers are not supposed to be driving anything else except F1 cars — you can't race at Le Mans now!"

Grosjean might be kicking himself in the posterior if the Renault team is fast
Grosjean will be kicking himself in the posterior if the Renault team is fast

Grosjean: I would have raced for Renault
Romain Grosjean says he would have stayed with Lotus for the 2016 season, had French manufacturer Renault completed its planned takeover of the team earlier.

Grosjean was announced as part of Haas F1 Team's line-up for its debut Formula 1 season on Tuesday, following weeks of speculation over his future in the sport.

"I was the first one who wanted to be part of the Renault project," Grosjean, who is expected to be partnered by current Ferrari test driver Esteban Gutierrez, explained to the BBC.

"If they came earlier I would have stayed, but I met with Haas, they made an approach and it was attractive."

Grosjean said Haas F1's links with Ferrari naturally bring him closer to the Italian marque.

"The fact that Haas is close to Ferrari made it very appealing. Not because I'm thinking about Ferrari in one, two or three years, but it does bring me closer for sure," Grosjean went on to comment.

"They'll look at what we do. The better job I do the better chance I have of getting a seat with Ferrari one day."

Renault, in talks with Lotus for several months, on Monday signed a letter of intent to buy the team.

Williams now focusing on 2016 car
Williams now focusing on 2016 car

Bottas: Williams switching focus to 2016
Williams driver Valtteri Bottas says the team is gradually switching its development attention to 2016, with only five rounds of the 2015 campaign remaining.

Williams currently holds third in the championship standings, 69 points ahead of Red Bull, and 129 behind Ferrari, having claimed three podiums so far this season.

Although keen to maximize its 2015 classification, supported by recent upgrades at the Singapore Grand Prix, Bottas admits Williams now has its eye on next year.

"As we get to this stage of the season some of the focus is switching to next year's car and for sure we've been developing the FW38 for a long time," Bottas told the Williams website.

"That's the target until the end of the season – to look ahead and put us in the best place for 2016 – but if we can also find something that benefits this year's car then we'll use it.

"We would like more podiums before the season finishes, and if we can get closer to Ferrari then all the better.

"In fact, most of the tracks we're still going to this year should be good for us, so that's very positive.

"I believe the upgrades we introduced for Singapore gave us more downforce and worked well, so they definitely worked [at the Japanese Grand Prix] too.

"We ran the same bits on the car at Suzuka and were competitive, but Red Bull and Ferrari have made improvements too, and they'll be very difficult to beat in the coming races."

Button could have stayed in bed with Jessica Michibata everyday or return with McLaren Honda
Button could have stayed in bed with Jessica Michibata everyday or return with McLaren Honda. What was he thinking?

Button was 'in two minds' over future
Jenson Button has admitted that he was at one stage "in two minds" over whether he should continue in Formula 1 with McLaren-Honda or retire from the sport.

Button's future was settled on Thursday when McLaren announced that he would be staying onboard for the 2016 season, as part of a 'one plus one' agreement.

Button has scored just six points so far in 2015, amid the renewed partnership's struggles, but was persuaded to continue by McLaren Group CEO Ron Dennis.

"Over the past month or so I have done quite a lot of thinking, and it is no secret that I was at one point in two minds about my future," Button explained.

"But I have been a McLaren driver for six seasons now, and in that time I have got to know Ron very well.

"He and I have had some very good chats these past few weeks, and during those chats it has become clear to me that Ron is both utterly determined and uniquely equipped to lead our team through its current difficulties to great successes in the future.

"That gives me great confidence, and it is for that reason that, together, he and I have decided to continue our partnership; and, as soon as I had made that decision, straight away I realized it was the correct one.

"Okay, granted, this year has not been an easy one for us, but we know what we need to do to improve things and, in collaboration with Honda, we will work extremely hard over the next weeks and months in order to make sure that 2016 will be a much better season than 2015 has been."

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