Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Will Alexander Rossi's F1 career be ruined because the Manor is the worst car on the grid. Hard to look good in a slug.

    Rossi replaces Merhi in Singapore

  • Button admits F1 future remains open
  • ORF TV says F1 future 'not decided yet'
  • Renault puts the squeeze on F1
  • 'Silly season' now about engines, not drivers
  • Sainz sure Toro Rosso not favoring Verstappen
  • Engine penalty shadow now looming for Rosberg
  • Ferrari official denies Williams switch reports
  • Mateschitz buys another Austrian circuit
  • Williams Announces the First Students to Join the Randstad Williams Engineering Academy

Rossi replaces Merhi in Singapore
(GMM) Roberto Merhi and Fabio Leimer on Thursday are digesting the latest news out of the Manor team.

For Merhi, his race-by-race deal with the struggling backmarker comes to an end for now, as the Californian GP2 title-contender Alexander Rossi prepares to make his debut in Singapore.

Spaniard Merhi will only return to the car in Russia and Abu Dhabi, so that Rossi can conclude his fight for the GP2 championship.

Merhi realizes his check wasn't big enough
Merhi realizes his check wasn't big enough

"While Roberto is obviously disappointed, he understands that this decision is in the long-term interests of the team and we thank him for his professionalism," said team boss John Booth.

The news is also a blow to the Swiss driver Leimer, who had been serving as reserve driver and hoping to step into the race seat soon.

Manor said: "Roberto Merhi will join Fabio Leimer as an official reserve driver but he (Merhi) will drive in Sochi and at Yas Marina."

Roger Benoit, the correspondent for the Swiss newspaper Blick, said the news is a "slap in the face for Leimer", but he might still stand a chance of a seat for 2016.

Booth said: "No decision has been made regarding our 2016 driver lineup and we will continue to evaluate our options during the remainder of the season."

Button admits F1 future remains open
(GMM) Jenson Button has hinted news about his future might be just a "few weeks" away.

Speaking in Singapore, the Briton was responding to speculation that while McLaren wants to keep him for 2016, the two sides are having discussions about money.

"I've had a couple of very good chats with Ron (Dennis)," Button told the local Straits Times.

It is also rumored that the 35-year-old is genuinely considering a move away from F1, with a future at Le Mans – or even as a television presenter or commentator – on the cards.

"I've thought about lots," Button admitted. "There's still a lot to go through. Nothing is set in stone."

But he said that if he does stay in F1, it will be with McLaren-Honda, despite the team's woeful current performance.

"You never know. Turnarounds can happen quite fast in formula one," said Button. "Maybe as soon as next year, McLaren will be up there again."

Another big paddock conversation this weekend is the haze above Singapore's skies, and whether it will affect the grand prix action.

Button said visibility is not the biggest concern.

"It's hot, it's humid and you're out of breath a little all the time," he told Channel Newsasia. "So you're trying to take gulps of air in and we just hope that it's not going to cause us any issues in the race."

Oskari Saari, the pundit for Finnish television MTV admitted he has never experienced an air quality problem of this type.

"It's pretty dark here and you can smell the smoke," he said. "Today I was out for an hour or so and my eyes started to sting a little."

A recent rain storm, however, eased the problem somewhat and a change of wind on Friday is expected to blow even more of the smoke away.

"It is not too bad at the moment," Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen told De Telegraaf newspaper. "I don't notice it too much."

Ghosn ready to tell F1 to go pound sand?
Ghosn ready to tell F1 to go pound sand?

Renault puts the squeeze on F1
Carlos Ghosn, speaking at the Frankfurt Motor Show yesterday, said that no decision has yet been made about Renault pulling out of F1 completely, or whether to continue as a team owner. He said that he will soon make a decision. The Renault boss said that the present model as an engine supplier does not work.

"In 2009 Honda, BMW and Toyota all left F1," he said.

"We ourselves hesitated. We stayed out of loyalty and because the name Renault is associated with the history of F1. We have said clearly to the F1 authorities that we are finished as an engine supplier. One thing is certain, we are no longer able to stay with the current configuration: when we win, it is the team that wins; when we lose, it is the fault of the engine manufacturer. We have started to feel that the return on investment is too weeks an engine supplier.

"Our name was never mentioned when we were winning. Then, with the new engine, the teams that we supply have been pointing fingers at us. Is that fair or not? That is not the question. It is a sport. It is a question of sporting behavior. And in this kind of sport where the work is a joint effort, we win together and we lose together."

The messages are clear as daylight. Red Bull can go and find another supplier. And if F1 wants Renault to stay on running a team, the Formula One group needs to recognize (financially, of course) the contributions made over the years by the French firm.

ORF TV says F1 future 'not decided yet'
(GMM) The Austrian broadcaster ORF says it has not taken a decision about its future in formula one.

Reports this week claimed the long-time F1 broadcaster may no longer be prepared to pay the annual fee of EUR 15 million to Bernie Ecclestone.

An ORF spokesman said: "Whether and under what conditions formula one will still be seen on ORF is the subject of constant discussion, and has not yet been decided by director-general Dr Alexander Wrabetz."

'Silly season' now about engines, not drivers
(GMM) The focus of the 2016 'silly season' has turned from drivers to engines.

Earlier this week, it appeared that the pieces of the 'power unit' puzzle for next year were falling into place.

Red Bull was moving from Renault to Ferrari, with Lotus switching from customer Mercedes status to become the works Renault team.

Then came the Frankfurt motor show, attended by Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche and his Renault counterpart Carlos Ghosn.

Earlier, with the Renault divorce all but confirmed, talks between Red Bull and Mercedes appeared to have broken down.

But Ghosn said in Frankfurt: "We will honor our contracts (with Red Bull), that's no problem."

How, however, can Renault honor its contracts if it simply splits with Red Bull?

It becomes clearer. The publication Autocar quoted Ghosn as saying: "I have open discussions with Dieter about formula one. We will continue to be competitive but if there are some areas that don't change the nature of the cooperation, then why not?"

One theory is that Mercedes could supply engines to Renault that are re-branded as Nissan or Infiniti and raced by Red Bull.

Zetsche said: "We would very much like Renault to stay in F1, but that must be their decision. If we can help with that in any way we will."

Elsewhere, F1's strategy group met earlier this week, and engines was a major topic of conversation.

There are rumors that, amid the current restrictions, Honda and Ferrari are now agreed that engine development should be opened up for 2016 and beyond.

Meanwhile, the FIA is pressuring the engine suppliers to reduce their customer fees by 50 per cent, amid fierce resistance from Mercedes and Ferrari, according to the Swiss newspaper Blick.

Also discussed was whether engine manufacturers should be allowed to supply year-old power units to customer teams, with FIA president Jean Todt keen to avoid a 'two-tier' system, Auto Motor und Sport reports.

Sainz Jr.
Sainz Jr.

Sainz Jr. sure Toro Rosso not favoring Verstappen
(GMM) Carlos Sainz Jr. says he is sure Toro Rosso does not favor his high-profile teammate Max Verstappen.

He told Spain's AS newspaper in Singapore that he is not worried he might be dropped by the energy drink-owned team after an impressive first season in F1.

Asked if he has been confirmed for 2016, Sainz answered: "No, not 100 per cent, but it is not a concern."

He has been linked with a potential future at Ferrari, but the 21-year-old said his dream of winning the title with Red Bull remains intact.

"Why with Red Bull? Because they gave me everything, the opportunity to be in F1 and fulfil my dream, and the only way I can pay that back someday is to win races and championships," said Sainz.

However, there is a feeling in the paddock that Red Bull's preferred son is not Sainz but the Dutch sensation Verstappen.

Sainz told the Spanish newspaper: "To think that is a little partisan. It is an exaggeration, I don't believe it and there is no evidence of it.

"I know that it is not like that," he added, "as the team wants the best for the team in general, which is how it should be."

Rosberg may incur a silly F1 engine penalty, but it does not matter, he is not going to beat Hamilton for the title
Rosberg may incur a silly F1 engine penalty, but it does not matter, he is not going to beat Hamilton for the title

Engine penalty shadow now looming for Rosberg
(GMM) The spectra of grid penalties now loom for Nico Rosberg, as the German will begin to use his fourth and final engine of the season in Singapore.

Earlier, it emerged that the new-specification unit that Mercedes removed from Rosberg's car before qualifying at Monza is in fact not damaged.

That remains the case. But German publications Bild and Auto Motor und Sport now report that Rosberg will nonetheless have another power unit – his fourth and final in his 2016 allocation – fitted to his car in Singapore.

The Monza unit will reportedly be fitted for Friday practice, but only for "checks", Auto Motor und Sport revealed.

Bild explains: "Although the team has had time before Singapore to repair the (Monza) unit, using it in the race is too great a risk."

The fact that Rosberg will now be a full engine allocation behind Lewis Hamilton is yet another blow to his championship hopes, after the points deficit blew out to 53 points at Monza.

That is more than a two race-win buffer for the on-form Hamilton.

"True," Rosberg told the German news agency SID, "but the mathematics are still possible. Seven races means 175 points."

The big problem for Rosberg, however, is that his qualifying advantage of 2014 over Hamilton has now swung in the Briton's favor.

"In the winter I worked hard on improving my performance in the race, but Lewis has grown a lot in qualifying and this makes the races difficult as passing is almost impossible if you are behind after the first corner," said the German.

Rosberg at least has confidence that Mercedes is treating both drivers equally in the run to the 2015 finale.

"Lewis and I have the same opportunities, and it will stay that way because it is the message that Mercedes wants to convey," he said.

Ferrari official denies Williams switch reports
(GMM) A Ferrari official has denied rumors he could be about to move to Williams.

Italy's Corriere della Sera had reported that Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll might be on the verge of buying into the British team.

He would take his son Lance with him to Grove, even though the 16-year-old is currently a part of Ferrari's driver development 'academy'.

The Maranello team's 'academy' is headed by Luca Baldisserri, with the report explaining that he too might move to Williams to mentor Stroll.

But Baldisserri, a prominent Ferrari figure of the Schumacher era, told the Ferrari insider Leo Turrini: "Write that I am not going to Williams.

"It's not that I wasn't asked, but I don't want to. I'm 53 and I finished with working at the grands prix almost seven seasons ago," he insisted.


Salzburgring

Mateschitz buys another Austrian circuit
(GMM) Dietrich Mateschitz is adding another Austrian race track to his collection.

Reports in Austria – in the Osterreich and Salzburger Nachrichten newspapers – say the Red Bull mogul and billionaire is buying the Salzburgring.

Billionaire Mateschitz brought F1 back to Austria two years ago after buying and reconstructing the A1-Ring, which he renamed the Red Bull Ring.

And now, he is buying the Salzburgring, a 4.2km circuit east of Salzburg that hosted MotoGP until 1994.

"I can confirm that," a circuit spokesperson said.

Mateschitz, however, said the deal is not quite done. "I have not signed yet, so I'm not the owner of the Salzburgring," said the 71-year-old.

But he did not deny he is in the process of buying the track, which he would do privately rather than in the name of his energy drink company.

"The purchase of a race track by the company Red Bull is not something I can expect of my business partners," said Mateschitz.

But "There would be many synergies with the Red Bull Ring," he added.

Williams Announces the First Students to Join the Randstad Williams Engineering Academy
Yesterday saw Williams announce the first students chosen to join the Randstad Williams Engineering Academy, an innovative new scheme that will see Williams and Randstad mentor students from across the world as they bid to secure a career as Formula One engineers.

Eleven students were selected from a pool of candidates competing in the 2015 F1 in Schools World Finals competition held in Singapore from 13-16th September. F1 in Schools is a global not for profit STEM competition that sees students design, build and race miniature racing cars.

Following a series of written submissions and group exercises that were overseen by a joint Williams and Randstad assessment panel, the eleven students chosen for the Randstad Williams Engineering Academy demonstrated the passion, commitment and raw skills needed to join this exclusive program. The students were informed of their selection at Wednesday's F1 in School's World Finals Gala Dinner in Singapore, with Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams, Chief Technical Officer Pat Symonds, and Randstad's Managing Director for Asia Pacific, Deb Loveridge, making the announcement. The first cohort of students are based in six different countries and comprises;

Ana Andrade, Portugal
George Britton, United States
Maximilian Britton, United States
Devansh Dhard, Germany
Aaron Hannon, Republic of Ireland
Peter Henderson, Australia
Freya King, Australia
William Mattar, United Kingdom
James Rodger, United Kingdom
Rachel Scott, United Kingdom
Declan Southern, United Kingdom

Year one of the Academy officially begins on 1st October 2015 and will see the students complete a series of motorsport themed e-learning modules that have been developed by Williams in partnership with Cambridge University Press, one of the world's leading educational publishers. Each student has an experienced Williams engineer as a tutor or "mentor" to guide them through the e-learning activities and provide advice on a motorsport career.

Academies designed to identify and train future racing drivers have existed in Formula One for a number of years, but this is the first scheme of its kind dedicated to identifying and supporting a new generation of Formula One engineering stars.

Randstad will be using its global presence and extensive experience of global education systems and vocational skills training to help Williams in the ongoing assessment of the students and will provide practical careers advice and work experience opportunities in their respective home countries.

This is a competitive scheme, with each cohort of students gradually whittled down in numbers based on performance criteria. The goal is for successful graduates of the Academy to join Williams upon completion of their university studies.

Speaking about the selection process Pat Symonds, Chief Technical Officer at Williams, said; "Formula One is a global sport and we wanted to spread our net far and wide to identify some of the world's brightest and best engineering stars. My colleagues and I have been extremely impressed with the talent on display this week at the F1 in Schools World Finals and the first group of students are extremely impressive individuals with a lot of passion. We will now be working with Randstad to give these students an early insight into the skills needed to secure a career in Formula One and we look forward to seeing their progress in the coming years."

Randstad CEO Jacques van den Broek said; "We are very excited to have the first students join the Randstad Williams Engineering Academy. Scarcity in STEM profiles is a worldwide issue. Involving a new generation at such an early stage in their academic careers will be crucial to address the skills gap later on. The Academy illustrates our commitment in engineering recruitment and training, and it deepens our partnership with Williams."

James Rodger, one of the selected students, said; "It's so overwhelming to have been selected. This was already a very special week, getting the chance to compete at the F1 in Schools World Finals, and to be chosen for the Academy is amazing. To have a word class company like Williams mentoring me going forwards will be so beneficial and will help me progress in my education and career. I'm looking forward to getting started!"

Ana Andrade, a chosen student from Portugal, added; "This is a very exciting program and the selection progress was very enjoyable too, both at the assessment center in Singapore and the original application stage. Being able to study engineering with the help of people who really know what they're doing and are at the top of their field is a very unique opportunity and I'm really looking forward to meeting my mentor."

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