Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Fans not enamored with new McLaren livery

    Ex Ferrari boss points finger at Alonso

  • Mercedes completes first laps with W06
  • Ricciardo doubts Vettel quit rumors
  • Ecclestone doubts Germany to host 2015 race
  • Fans disappointed with 'new' McLaren livery
  • Red Bull and Lotus running late for Jerez debut
  • Raikkonen could stay beyond 2015 – manager
  • Team survival more important than 1000hp – engineer
  • Lynn confirms Red Bull program split

Ex Ferrari boss points finger at Alonso
(GMM) A former Ferrari chief has pointed the finger at departed Fernando Alonso following the Maranello team's recent troubles.

Legendary designer Mauro Forghieri, a key Ferrari figure from the 60s to the 80s, said the Spaniard cannot simply blame the team for his failure to add another title to his tally since joining in 2010.

"If for three or four seasons in a row the car has the same problems, that means you are not developing in the right directions, and it's the driver's fault," Forghieri told the Italian website diariodelweb.it.

Alonso, widely credited as the best driver in F1 today, has returned to McLaren for 2015, despite clashing badly with the British team in 2007.

McLaren's acting CEO Jonathan Neale told the Mirror: "There has been a lot of speculation about our relationship with Fernando last time but we can confidently put that to one side and say we are just here to get the job done."

Forghieri, however, is less confident about Alonso's place within a team.

"Alonso is a great race driver," he said, "but not a good test driver.

"Each year, when he shook the car down, he said everything was perfect, then after a few months he began complaining. A real champion is the one who is able to manage the team."

He said Alonso therefore does not compare with Ferrari's last great driver.

"Ferrari's problem in the last few seasons," claimed Forghieri, "was not having another Schumacher."

Mercedes completes first laps with W06
(GMM) F1's launch season is in full swing, and the latest new car to hit the headlines is the title-defending Mercedes.

As the new silver McLaren was unveiled online on Thursday, the German giant Mercedes was giving its similarly-colored W06 a shakedown during a 'promotional event' at Silverstone, before a blizzard stopped running.

Mercedes released images of the test, conducted by both world champion Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

The Brackley based team's rivals are expecting another season of superiority for Mercedes, and chairman Niki Lauda agrees: "Everyone is feeling the pressure, but we are in a good position.

"Renault will improve, and Adrian Newey knows how to build a good car," said the F1 legend.

"Not much is known about Ferrari, and McLaren-Honda will face many challenges in its first year," Lauda is also quoted by Speed Week.

Daniel Ricciardo

Ricciardo doubts Vettel quit rumors
(GMM) Daniel Ricciardo has contradicted boss Christian Horner's claims that Sebastian Vettel came close to quitting F1 last year.

Horner, the team chief at Red Bull, caused a stir this week when he told the media that amid the quadruple world champion's struggles to match Ricciardo in 2014, the German thought about retiring before deciding to switch to Ferrari.

But quotes attributed to Vettel in the German press insist any stories of quitting have been "taken out of context and exaggerated".

And Australian Ricciardo, who will now lead Red Bull from the cockpit in 2015, also doubts that Vettel seriously thought about leaving formula one.

"From what I saw he was never going to leave," he told Britain's Sky.

"He's way too passionate about the sport to just walk away.

"With Ferrari this year he's going to have a challenge," Ricciardo added, "but I think he'll come out of his shell some more and try and get them going again."

Ecclestone doubts Germany to host 2015 race
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone estimates Germany's chances of staying on the 2015 calendar at "less than 50 per cent".

The Nurburgring was due to return to the schedule in 2015, but German reports say the boss of new circuit owner Capricorn's offices were raided last week by local prosecutors amid allegations of fraud.

And F1's other German host, Hockenheim, is yet to agree contract terms with Ecclestone about stepping in at short notice.

"The chance that there will be a German grand prix this year is less than 50 per cent," F1 chief executive Ecclestone told Auto Motor und Sport late on Thursday.

"If we come to the middle of February or the beginning of March and still have not agreed, it will be difficult," the Briton added.

The 2015 McLaren challenger is visibly devoid of sponsorship, and not exactly the looker fans have come to expect from the iconic team.

Fans disappointed with 'new' McLaren livery
(GMM) Many McLaren fans were reportedly disappointed on Thursday when the British team pulled the wraps off its works Honda-powered MP4-30.

A report at Brazil's Globo said the Woking squad had "raised expectations" about the appearance of the 2015 car by publishing videos "noting the past history of the Honda partnership and hinting that the MP4-30 would be red and white".

In fact, the car was launched in its customary silver and black, with only pronounced flashes of red from the tip of the nose to the cockpit.

"Quickly, many disappointed fans expressed their frustration, making criticisms and jokes," the Globo report added.

"Others compared the MP4-30 to the Marussia of last year, this year's Force India or the Hispania driven by Bruno Senna in 2010."

Also striking was the dearth of new sponsors, with the Fernando Alonso-linked Santander having apparently disappeared and Boss moving to Mercedes.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport also pointed out that McLaren still has no title sponsor, despite talks with the Kevin Magnussen-linked Danish brand Lego and also Rexona.

"The deodorant manufacturer is now with Williams," the German report noted.

Auto Motor und Sport did, however, describe the 2015 McLaren as technically "elegant", due in part to the arrival of the Red Bull aerodynamicist, Peter Prodromou.

Team boss Eric Boullier is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace: "We have changed the car's philosophy, but the McLaren DNA is still there."

Red Bull and Lotus running late for Jerez debut
(GMM) Red Bull and Lotus could join Force India, Caterham and Marussia in sitting out the opening winter test at Jerez beginning on Sunday.

Italy's Omnicorse claims Red Bull, whose designer Adrian Newey customarily pushes the boundaries with his new-car deadlines, has this week failed a front impact test at the FIA-approved Cranfield facility with its 2015 car.

If true, it means the new Renault-powered RB11 cannot be homologated and therefore tested at Jerez until the FIA approvals are met.

The report said: "It seems the RB11 has a very short nose with a short bulb at the front that has failed the test."

Omnicorse said modifying the design should not be a major task for Red Bull, the champions of 2010-2013, but it could mean time runs out to get the car up and running on the opening day of the Jerez test on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Turun Sanomat correspondent Luis Vasconcelos reports that Lotus could be yet another notable absentee when Jerez action gets underway.

He said a problem with a carbon supplier means the "first monocoque was finished only last Friday, giving the team very little time to build the car around it".

And Vasconcelos claims that when the Mercedes-powered E23 does make its Jerez bow, it will have been put together with a considerable amount of 2014 components, meaning that "in essence, the new car will only debut in Barcelona on 19 February".

Kimi Raikkonen's F1 future will be a much-discussed subject throughout 2015

Raikkonen could stay beyond 2015 – manager
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen's manager says it is possible the Finn will stay at Ferrari beyond the 2015 season.

A report in Finland's Turun Sanomat said the 2007 world champion's current deal expires at the end of the year, with a double-sided option to extend into 2016.

Manager Steve Robertson said: "Above all, he has to enjoy the driving."

Raikkonen, 35 and now father to a newborn son, struggled notably in 2014 alongside Fernando Alonso.

Robertson added: "If he is doing well, and he has the feeling that everything is working, the enthusiasm infects the entire team.

"If that happens, I believe it is possible that Kimi could stay longer."

At the very least, Robertson is expecting Raikkonen to work well alongside his new teammate and friend, Sebastian Vettel.

"At the beginning of his career, Sebastian travelled with Kimi and that's where it started to develop.

"Sebastian saw how straightforward Kimi is and that he could be trusted without reservation. They seem to have a lot in common.

"Sometimes it happens in motor racing that drivers can have good relationships and still the competition between them remains tough," Robertson added.

"I think the direction of the team will now be better — Sebastian and Kimi are the right combination for Ferrari," he said.

What good are 1000 hp cars if teams can't afford to make the grid, asks one F1 engineer

Team survival more important than 1000hp – engineer
(GMM) A former F1 engineer thinks the sport has bigger problems than a potential move to 1000-plus horse power engines.

According to Italian specialist publication Autosprint, the sport's powerbrokers will meet next week to discuss again the possibility of adapting the current turbo V6s to produce more sound and power by 2017.

The idea is gaining widespread assent up and down the pitlane.

"I think we do need to evolve, to improve," Red Bull boss Christian Horner is quoted as saying.

"We need to make the cars more spectacular and difficult to drive so that the talent of the drivers can be seen."

But Ossi Oikarinen, a Finnish engineer who worked with several F1 teams including Toyota, BMW and Ferrari until 2009, thinks the sport should concentrate first on its most pressing problem.

Backmarkers Marussia and Caterham have collapsed, while midfielders Force India, Sauber and Lotus are reportedly also all in financial strife.

"Curbing rising costs is not easy," Oikarinen told the Finnish newspaper Iltalehti, "but if they are not, then independent teams like Sauber will not survive.

"I think that's the problem that should be solved first, before thinking about how to increase engine power," he added.

Today, Oikarinen works in the premier German touring car series DTM, which he says is "a very entertaining series, but compared to formula one has relatively modest costs".

Lynn confirms Red Bull program split
(GMM) Williams' new development driver Alex Lynn has confirmed his split from Red Bull's high profile junior program.

Last year, as he powered to the GP3 title and the highly coveted Macau GP win, the 21-year-old Briton was named as a contender to replace Jean-Eric Vergne at Toro Rosso for 2015.

Ultimately, the F1 seats went to two other Red Bull-backed rookies, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr.

Lynn has subsequently signed up with Williams and been promised a day in the FW37 at the post Spanish grand prix test in May.

He has now confirmed in the local Essex newspaper Braintree and Witham Times that he has left Red Bull's high-profile driver program headed by Dr Helmut Marko.

"My attachment to Red Bull has now come to an end," said Lynn. "It was a very amicable decision for both of us.

"Fair enough, they made their decision over appointing their F1 drivers and I knew that there would be no opportunity there to race with Red Bull in the next two years and that would be too late for me.

"They appreciate that. They were happy for me to stay, but they said they knew they couldn't stop me from chasing my dream," Lynn added.

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