Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Imola 2006 was one of the traditional European tracks that can no longer afford F1

    Renault wants to halve gap to Mercedes in 2015

  • F1 on track for engine change after 2016
  • F1 should think again as 'myth' tracks disappear – Imola
  • Rosberg predicts more Mercedes dominance
  • Mexico on schedule for 2015 return

Renault wants to halve gap to Mercedes in 2015
(GMM) Boss Cyril Abiteboul has admitted Renault was about 60 horse power down on dominant 2014 title winners Mercedes last year.

"We estimate the gap between our engine and that of Mercedes at the end of the season to be about 60 horse power," he revealed to the broadcaster Canal Plus.

But Renault and also struggling Ferrari won a crucial political battle over the winter and can now work on their turbo V6 'power units' throughout 2015.

Abiteboul said: "We hope to close the gap by half, from the start of the season in Melbourne.

"Unlike Mercedes, we will start with the 2015 version of our engine, which is the same for Red Bull and Toro Rosso," he added.

"To date, we have used about two thirds of our allowed (32) 'tokens' to develop our engine this year. Our goal is to win at least five races this season," said the Frenchman.

In 2014, works Renault team Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo was the only non-Mercedes driver to win, getting to the chequered flag first three times compared to Mercedes' 16.

F1 on track for engine change after 2016
(GMM) F1 is on course for a sharp change of direction after 2016.

Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene is calling for a "revolution" on the technical front, as Bernie Ecclestone also looks to spice up the sport's speed and sound just a year after the all-new turbo V6 era dawned.

Renault, also trailing behind F1's dominant force Mercedes, is similarly open to change.

"Renault would not get in the way, so long as costs are kept under control," boss Cyril Abiteboul told the broadcaster Canal Plus.

He said the idea of louder and more powerful engines is "attractive", but "it seems too late for 2016. 2017 would be the ideal time".

Proposals are already beginning to emerge. Even McLaren's new works partner Honda is not opposed, having reportedly suggested a ramping up of the sport's new non-combustion engine propulsion techniques for 2017.

Also according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, Ferrari is suggesting a 2.2 litre twin-turbo V8, revving to 17,000rpm with a standard KERS system.

Some, however, suspect that Renault and Ferrari are so keen on the idea of change simply because they are trailing Mercedes under the current engine regime.

"Of course!" Mercedes chief Toto Wolff told Sport Bild.

"That's formula one. But we accept the challenge even when it comes to talking about the engine. You just have to be sensible," he added.

Wolff said radically departing from the basic 1.6 litre V6 of today is out of the question.

"All the engine manufacturers have expressed the wish that we keep the current architecture," said the Austrian, "because anything else would bring high development costs."

F1 should think again as 'myth' tracks disappear – Imola
(GMM) F1's historic venues are struggling to write the next chapters of the sport.

Germany looks set to fall off the 2015 calendar, and other traditional hosts like France and also Imola, the former Italian venue of the annual San Marino grand prix, are no longer represented.

That is despite Imola's Enzo e Dino Ferrari track having recently secured full approval after an inspection by Charlie Whiting, circuit director Pietro Benvenuti told f1web.it.

"In June, Charlie Whiting inspected the circuit and reconfirmed a first grade licence which expires in June 2017," he revealed.

"That means (Imola) has all the technical requirements to accommodate any FIA race, including formula one," Benvenuti added.

The report, however, said there is no chance Imola will be returning to the calendar any time soon.

"It is not a problem of infrastructure, but the costs that would be incurred in hosting a grand prix," said Benvenuti.

"In the current context, no circuit is able to meet these costs without the support of political institutions or generous sponsors," he added.

"It is my belief that formula one should think again, taking into account the changed economic conditions and the risk that none of the race tracks that created the very myth of F1 will be there anymore."

Rosberg predicts more Mercedes dominance
(GMM) Nico Rosberg has tipped another season of F1 superiority for Mercedes.

Last year, as the turbo V6 era dawned, the German driver and his teammate, the new reigning champion Lewis Hamilton, duelled for the title in a battle rarely challenged by any rivals.

And now, as the sport enters its second year under essentially the same regulations, Rosberg is predicting more of the same silver-wash.

"Without having even sat in the new car, I certainly believe that," he told the German newspaper Bild.

"I am very optimistic and believe it will again be a duel between Lewis and me."

Rosberg thinks grandee rivals like Ferrari and McLaren-Honda are not yet ready to take on Mercedes, instead predicting a "year of development" for them.

"I see Williams and Red Bull as the strongest competitors," he revealed.

Not even quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel, said Rosberg, can be a silver bullet for Ferrari.

"Ferrari is Ferrari," he admitted, "and you should never write them off.

"But while I don't want to sound arrogant, I think it will be Sebastian more often than not looking only at my rear light.

"First he has to find the right chemistry between himself and his engineers, and Ferrari cannot go from where it was in 2014 to be the best team overnight. It took us five years," said Rosberg.

Finally, regarding his difficult relationship with teammate Hamilton, Rosberg admitted that looking at photos from the Abu Dhabi finale "still hurts".

But they have re-established some contact over the winter, Rosberg revealed.

"A little bit. We have been exchanging dog photos with one another," smiled the German, whose new wife Vivian was gifted a Labrador puppy some weeks ago.

Mexico on schedule for 2015 return
(GMM) Organisers of this year's revived Mexican grand prix have announced they are on course to bounce back into formula one in November.

The country has been missing from the calendar since 1992, but the very same Hermanos Rodriguez circuit in Mexico City is currently being rejuvenated for its 2015 return.

"The demolition of the pits is finished," Christian Epp, a director working with F1 circuit designer Hermann Tilke's company, told the Spanish news agency EFE.

"We are halfway through the construction in that area and 60 per cent is ready," he revealed.

"In early March we will put down the asphalt, which is scheduled to be completed in late July," added Epp, who said work on the media centre begins next week.

"We are attacking the work on several fronts, it's going very well and we feel comfortable about the time frame," he said, also revealing that Charlie Whiting visited the site in December.

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