Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Dennis wants control of McLaren. His employee urges Honda to steal employees and knowledge from others. McLaren has a history of stealing.

    Hockenheim cuts ticket prices for 2016 return

  • Sainz most overtaken driver in 2015
  • Dennis pushing for majority control of McLaren
  • Could F1 go for gold at the Olympics?
  • Toro Rosso best place for Verstappen – father
  • Ferrari not quite ready for 2015 title – Berger
  • Mercedes now willing to supply Red Bull – report
  • McLaren urges Honda to steal from rivals

Hockenheim cuts ticket prices for 2016 return
(GMM) Hockenheim has cut ticket prices as it bids to secure the future of formula one in Germany.

Amid the Nurburgring's financial troubles, Germany was absent from the F1 calendar this year for the first time in decades.

But according to the existing race-alternating contract with Bernie Ecclestone, Hockenheim is back for 2016.

"We are delighted to host another formula one race in Germany after a year's break," track boss Georg Seiler said in a statement this week.

"We are excited to welcome F1 and its incredible fans back to Hockenheim and are looking forward to a packed Motodrom next July," he added.

Just two weeks ago, however, Seiler had warned that if the Motodrom's stands are in fact not packed, the future of the German grand prix could again be in doubt.

"We need a well-filled house next year," he told the German news agency DPA, "so I say to the fans 'Come back next year for the race and secure the future of formula one at the Hockenheimring".

In a bid to spark interest, the circuit has now launched "fantastic" discounts and "amazing special offers" as ticket sales begin.

Until the end of September, for instance, fans paying just EUR 99 will get entry throughout the race weekend, while children up to 16 pay just half that and kids under 6 are free.

Sainz most overtaken driver in 2015
(GMM) Carlos Sainz is the most overtaken driver on the 2015 grid.

That is the finding of the German newspaper Bild, reporting that the otherwise impressive rookie Spaniard has been passed 32 times so far this year — more than any other rival.

"I'm not sure I can be proud of this record!" he laughed.

Toro Rosso driver Sainz, 20, explained: "We are always quite good in qualifying, but for the race we lack power."

However, Sainz is also ranked among the top-four overtakers of 2015, Bild added.

Indeed, boss Franz Tost said he is happy not only with Sainz, but also fellow rookie Max Verstappen.

"I would say they are one of the most competitive pairings we have seen at Toro Rosso," he said.

Dennis pushing for majority control of McLaren
(GMM) Ron Dennis has only until the end of the season to take majority control of McLaren, the German publication Speed Week reports.

The team's 'supremo' is already chief executive, but it has been reported for some time that the 68-year-old has struck a deal to take over the 50 per cent stake held by Bahrain's sovereign wealth fund.

But, according to Speed Week correspondent Gerhard Kuntschik, he only has until the end of November to get the money together. Whether Dennis can do that, Kuntschik added, is "an open question".

The report said works engine partner Honda is waiting for the situation to unfold, with "three major Japanese companies" in the wings as potential sponsors.

A lot could depend on McLaren-Honda's ability to improve the MP4-30 package following an abysmal first half of the 2015 season.

Lead driver Fernando Alonso admitted in Hungary to some frustration.

"Before, when we had more freedom to test and improve the car, you could still end a season in a competitive way," he is quoted by El Confidencial newspaper.

"But now our hands are tied during the season. We test the car in Jerez and Barcelona and if it is competitive, you will have a good year. If not, you will have a bad year," said Alonso.

Could F1 go for gold at the Olympics?
(GMM) Might motor racing be a candidate for the Olympic Games?

F1-insider.com reports that long-time FIA official Lars Osterlind could be the mastermind of a push for grand prix gold.

Crucially, F1's governing body became fully recognized by the International Olympic Committee in 2013, after FIA president Jean Todt initiated the process in 2010.

The German report claims the cars likely to be considered for the Olympics are the 'green' Formula E machines, but each country's leading F1 stars would surely be considered for the actual driving.

"I would immediately take part in the Olympic Games," said 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve. "And I think everyone else would think the same."

The Canadian added that he thinks the Olympic plan for motor racing is "not unrealistic, because who would have thought 30 years ago that tennis would be on the Olympic program with the world's best players?"

Toro Rosso best place for Verstappen – father
(GMM) Max Verstappen's father has added another denial to lingering speculation the teen Dutchman might be a candidate for Ferrari in 2016.

Two weeks ago, the 17-year-old's father Jos, himself a former grand prix driver, dismissed the 'silly season' rumors by insisting Max is "very satisfied" with his long-term Red Bull contract.

Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko has also denied the reports, while Verstappen snr has now told the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat that the best option for his son is to stay at Toro Rosso.

"It is important at this time for him to gain experience, and here (at Toro Rosso) he has the chance to develop in peace."

Jos said he is "pleased" with how the opening half of his son's first season in F1 has gone, "particularly" the way he has taken the fight to his older rivals.

"He is a fighter," said Jos. "The races themselves have gone very well, and he has been working on getting better in qualifying. It's not easy when the operating window of the tires is so narrow.

"But Max is doing a good job and the team is satisfied. The team is also going in the right direction and hopefully the engine reliability is sorted out now too," Jos added.

Ferrari not quite ready for 2015 title – Berger
(GMM) Gerhard Berger has hailed the performance in 2015 of his old team Ferrari.

Earlier, some were arguing that Ferrari only appeared to have improved this year due to the collapse of its rival grandees like Red Bull and McLaren.

And after Sebastian Vettel's breakthrough win in Malaysia, the resurgence seemed to taper, and following an engine upgrade in Canada, speculation suggested technical boss James Allison's future might be in doubt due to the mid-season slump.

But Berger, who drove for Ferrari until the mid-90s, said the Maranello marque should actually be congratulated.

"They have made a big step forward compared to last year and I didn't expect that," said the Austrian legend.

As a former boss of Vettel's at Toro Rosso, Berger told La Gazzetta dello Sport that "I always thought Sebastian would be a perfect fit with Ferrari".

"He has the German mentality, is very organized and hard working. Above all he is a winner. But I repeat: I did not expect that Ferrari would be able to win races already this season," Berger told the Italian daily, "given how difficult last season was."

And he insisted that Vettel's second win in Hungary was no fluke.

"Both drivers started the race very well," said Berger. "I thought then that they had a chance for a one-two. Great start, no mistakes, and they led not because Mercedes had problems but because Ferrari was fast.

"Unfortunately Kimi Raikkonen had his technical problem but Ferrari did its job brilliantly.

"I am sure Maurizio Arrivabene is coping perfectly with the job of trying to take Ferrari back to the top, as at Maranello there is now a good atmosphere again," he added.

But the 55-year-old warned that an outright title challenge in 2015 might be too hard a task for Ferrari.

"I think Ferrari is on the right track but Mercedes is still stronger. However, there is no doubt that Ferrari has been gradually reducing the gap.

"Hopefully by the end of the season they will be even closer to Mercedes, and next year will be able to take another step forward and fight with them on equal terms," Berger concluded.

Mercedes now willing to supply Red Bull – report
(GMM) Mercedes has reportedly now joined Ferrari in being prepared to supply engines to Red Bull in 2016.

With the energy drink owned team and its current partner Renault appearing close to divorce, Ferrari's Sergio Marchionne recently offered to sell customer Maranello-made 'power units' to Red Bull from next year.

But it is believed the Ferrari deal would have kept its new customer one specification behind the works team, which intensified Red Bull's alternative enquiries with Mercedes.

Mercedes, in contrast, insists it always supplies identical equipment with full equality to its customers, and may have a vacancy in its roster open up for 2016 if Lotus is bought by Renault.

"Actually, one should not help to make one's opponents stronger," Mercedes chief Toto Wolff told Germany's Sport Bild.

"But we also need to find a balance between pure egoism and the welfare of the championship," he added.

"Of course we know it's important to have a healthy and exciting platform, as victories are always more valuable if they are against strong competition," said Wolff.

"As a team we are first and foremost geared to seek our advantages and win the championship," he continued, "but as participants, we also have a responsibility to the series as a whole."

McLaren urges Honda to steal from rivals
McLaren racing director Eric Boullier has urged Honda to steal employees and their knowledge from rival engine manufacturers Ferrari and Mercedes to help speed up development.

Honda returned to F1 this season, one year after the V6 turbo power unit regulations were introduced. Mercedes has dominated under the current rules so far having committed to its project well in advance of 2014, while Ferrari made a major step forward this season after getting its concept wrong last year. Honda, meanwhile, has struggled for reliability, though it showed signs of improvement in Hungary.

Asked by F1i during an exclusive interview if Honda has been hurt by not being in F1 before the current power unit regulations were introduced, Boullier replied: "Yeah, definitely.

"Honda could have bought some experience from other engine manufacturers and maybe should actually. We would recommend it just because to make sure you go faster and you accelerate your development program because they have solutions ready to fix things, or maybe some understanding."

However, when asked at Silverstone if Honda would be looking to recruit from the likes of Ferrari or Mercedes, motorsport boss Yasuhisa Arai replied: "I don’t think so. We have enough resources already." F1i

Leave a Reply