Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Roberto Merhi
    Roberto Merhi

    Merhi stops F.Renault series due to F1 'clashes'

  • Ecclestone involved in Red Bull's Ferrari solution
  • Sauber 'hoped for more' from FIA – Kaltenborn
  • Region tells Ferrari to 'do more' to save Monza
  • Curb could have caused Spa blowouts – report
  • 'No damage' after Ferrari rumors – Bottas
  • Alonso hopes Button keeps McLaren seat
  • Pirelli goes one step softer for Russia

Merhi stops F.Renault series due to F1 'clashes'
(GMM) Roberto Merhi looks set to keep his Manor seat for the remainder of 2015.

Until now, the Spanish rookie has been driving race-for-race for the British backmarker, and has therefore kept his full-time seat in the Formula Renault 3.5 series.

But his team Pons, led by former F1 driver Emilio de Villota, has announced that Merhi, 24, will be replaced by Austrian Rene Binder at the Nurburgring this weekend.

"Binder is set to replace Merhi, who decided to stop his Formula Renault 3.5 program due to the clashing commitments in the formula one world championship," a statement read.

There is no grand prix this weekend during the F.Renault round at the Nurburgring, and next weekend's Singapore grand prix also does not clash.

Suzuka later this month, however, clashes with the Le Mans round. The F.Renault calendar then concludes in mid-October at Jerez, when there is again no clash with F1.

Look Ferrari, I need for you to rescue Red Bull before we lose them
Look Ferrari, I need for you to rescue Red Bull before we lose them

Ecclestone involved in Red Bull's Ferrari solution
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone had to get involved as Red Bull broke its Renault contract and searched for a new engine supplier.

That is the claim of Livio Oricchio, the respected correspondent for Brazil's Globo, as the future of the former quadruple world championship-winning team shapes up.

It is now widely believed that Renault has accepted Red Bull's decision to split and tie up with Ferrari power for 2016 after talks with Mercedes collapsed.

"I am sure that we will find a solution. The question is whether we needed to get to that point," F1 supremo Ecclestone is quoted as having said at Monza.

Oricchio speculated that Ecclestone got directly involved in talks with Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne, fearing that F1 could lose two teams – Red Bull and Toro Rosso – in one fell swoop.

Indeed, the apparent Ferrari deal has been made very late, despite Dr Helmut Marko's insistence that the hugely-resourced Red Bull could afford to wait until "December" for the identity of the new supplier to be known.

But Sauber technical chief Gianpaolo Dall'Ara said a late call like that would "be a problem, of course".

He said teams need to plan far ahead when it comes to radiator, air intake, weight distribution and basic aerodynamics designs, which are all inextricably linked to engine parameters and the related hybrid technology.

The signatures on the page are now waiting for Renault to finalize its own plans, which are currently hinging on talks with embattled Lotus.

One rumor doing the rounds is that Renault itself orchestrated the Charles Pic court bailiff saga of Spa, given the French driver's historical links to the carmaker, in order to increase urgency and drive down the price.

Monisha Kaltenborn
Monisha Kaltenborn

Sauber 'hoped for more' from FIA – Kaltenborn
(GMM) Monisha Kaltenborn says she is not confident the small teams' concerns about their future is being heard by F1's governing body.

Caterham and HRT have collapsed, Manor only narrowly survived the winter and now Lotus' serious financial crisis is playing out publicly in the 2015 paddock.

Sauber and Force India have also had their high-profile problems, as the lower half of the grid pleads for assistance and changes to the current system in F1.

Asked if the embattled teams are being heard by their most powerful rivals, Sauber chief Kaltenborn said: "It is not them that we want to be heard by, but the commercial rights holder, the FIA and the fans."

She said the current system is not equipped to support teams like Sauber, who do not sell "drinks or cars" like grandees Red Bull and Mercedes.

Kaltenborn was also asked by the French magazine Auto Hebdo if it is 'naive' to believe that the powerful Strategy Group might do something about the situation.

"I have to judge from the outside," she answered, "because Sauber is not part of this, and – probably like you – I don't get all the details.

"But yes, the real problems are not addressed. And no, I see nothing coming. And yes, it would be naive to hope that there is another way."

Asked if the most naive party of all is the FIA, whose president Jean Todt wants the sport to solve its problems alone and democratically, Kaltenborn answered: "I would never take the liberty of speaking about our legislators in that way.

"The only thing I can say is that I hoped for more, and that I still hope for more from our legislators, because we need a strong federation.

"Should we change the system of penalties? The format of the weekend? All these things and many others are not within the province of the teams," said Kaltenborn.

Arrivabene already said Ferrari could not help Monza
Arrivabene already said Ferrari could not help Monza

Region tells Ferrari to 'do more' to save Monza
(GMM) Regional president Roberto Maroni has once again called on Ferrari to step in to help save the endangered Italian grand prix.

Maroni, the head of the Lombardy region, has said previously that he would like Ferrari to threaten to quit formula one over the uncertainty surrounding the future of the historic Monza race.

The threat has not been forthcoming, but the recent race weekend at the fabled Autodromo Nazionale was characterized by F1 drivers verbally backing the campaign to save Monza, and also signing a petition.

"I greatly appreciate the words of the drivers to defend the grand prix," Maroni said at the launch of the Italian open golf tournament in Milan.

"I think if Ferrari also did more for Monza it would do no harm," he was quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

For now, hard negotiations with Ecclestone will go on.

"I told Ecclestone that he is a tough guy and he just laughed, but so am I," Maroni continued. "We clarified our positions and at least cleared up what I feared, namely that he had already decided to move on without Monza.

"We will meet again between November and December and we will sign. The missing money? With some sponsors or the government, we will find it," he insisted.

Curb could have caused Spa blowouts – report
(GMM) A new theory about what caused the tire blowouts at Spa-Francorchamps recently has emerged.

Pirelli was on the back foot after the Belgian grand prix weekend, as it analyzed what caused the tire explosions suffered at high speed by Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel.

F1's official supplier came under attack for the quality of the construction of its tires, but insisted that track debris and excessive wear were actually the causes.

Nonetheless, tire pressures were mandatorily raised for the subsequent Monza race, triggering the post-race stewards enquiry about Lewis Hamilton's win.

Romain Grosjean, who had followed Vettel for several laps before the Ferrari driver's incident at Spa, said he never believed the track debris theory.

"Seb didn't go off the track even once," said the Frenchman.

However, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport has published a new theory, based on a photo that has emerged of a sharp, damaged and raised section of curb at Eau Rouge.

Valtteri Bottas
Valtteri Bottas

'No damage' after Ferrari rumors – Bottas
(GMM) His performance may have been hurt, but Valtteri Bottas insists his relationship with Williams is undamaged in the wake of intense rumors.

While the 26-year-old Finn was linked for weeks and months with a move to Ferrari, Williams chief Pat Symonds said he thinks Bottas' pace alongside the notably on-form Felipe Massa was affected.

"To be successful here (in F1) you have to pay so much attention to details and you need incredible focus," Symonds told F1's official website, following confirmation that Bottas is in fact staying put at the Grove team next year.

"And if a driver is thinking about 'Am I going to drive for Ferrari? Am I not going to drive for Ferrari?' — or 'does Williams want me anymore?' then they definitely can't be at their best," he added.

"If you ask Valtteri I'm sure he wouldn't agree with me," said Symonds.

Indeed, while Bottas admits that the Ferrari speculation was distracting, he insists that the new deal for 2016 is now an end to the entire saga.

"Our relationship wasn't damaged at all, but that can happen if people think you are looking to leave a team," he said after the Italian grand prix.

"No damage has been done and I'm very happy to stay with the team, and they are very happy to keep me as well," Bottas added.

Alonso wants Button
Alonso wants Button

Alonso hopes Button keeps McLaren seat
(GMM) Jenson Button staying at McLaren next year would be "a good thing".

That is the view of fellow McLaren-Honda driver Fernando Alonso, amid speculation the struggling Woking team might be close to agreeing to keep the 2009 world champion on board for 2016.

Earlier, it was suggested the team's woeful form this year could result in such a drop in prize and sponsorship income that McLaren will have to sign the cheaper Kevin Magnussen instead.

But amid McLaren-Honda's well-known problems, former team driver Lewis Hamilton said at Monza that Button should be retained.

"If they had two young guns I don't know if they would progress as much as they would with someone who has so much knowledge of the car and the team, and who helps motivate the team," he said.

And it seems Button's teammate Alonso agrees.

"Jenson has been quite good all season," the Spaniard, on a lucrative multi-year contract, is quoted by the Mirror newspaper.

"We've been working together very closely to help the team. The experience Jenson has, it has been very important for the upgrades we have brought to the car, in terms of the power unit and aerodynamics.

"So if Jenson stays I think it's a good thing for the team," Alonso added.

Hinting at the economic benefits of swapping Button for a driver like Magnussen, Alonso continued: "If they decide they need to change something there will be some advantages and some disadvantages for the team, I guess.

"The only thing I can say, the only thing I know for sure, is working with Jenson has been very, very productive for the team and for myself, learning a lot of things.

"Working with the other guys, I cannot tell much," he added.

Alonso also quipped playfully that McLaren should not wait as long as it did last year to confirm the identity of his next teammate, saying "hopefully they'll do it before Christmas".

Pirelli F1 tires
Pirelli F1 tires

Pirelli goes one step softer for Russia
Formula 1 tire supplier Pirelli has announced its compound nominations for the next three races, with the company opting to bring softer tires to Russia compared to its 2014 choices.

The Super Soft and Soft tires will be used in the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi Autodrom as "the asphalt has not changed significantly since its debut last year, and looking at the data from 2014, a softer step is possible."

Last year's Russian Grand Prix predominantly featured a one-stop strategy, with tire wear not an issue during the race.

Pirelli will also bring the Super Soft and Soft tires to the upcoming Singapore Grand Prix due to the need for maximum mechanical grip, while the Medium and Hard compounds will be taken to the Japanese Grand Prix a week later.

This is due to the high-energy demands and fast corners which feature prominently at Suzuka.

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