Latest F1 news in brief – Monday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

01/19/15

  • Wehrlein eyes F1 role

    Ferrari sets modest goal for Melbourne – insider

  • Volvo eyes Formula E, not F1
  • F1 career turmoil stopped Alonso's cycling dream
  • Wehrlein eyes job with Mercedes-linked F1 team
  • Gutierrez hoping to aid Ferrari progress
  • Hackett Becomes Official Clothing Partner of Williams Martini Racing
  • Vandoorne: Honda B team may help me
  • Mercedes F1 W06 Hybrid to be unveiled in Jerez New
  • Toro Rosso turns 10 New

Ferrari sets modest goal for Melbourne – insider
(GMM) Ferrari has set a modest target for the 2015 season opener, an insider close to the fabled Maranello team reports.

Leo Turrini, famously close to the main protagonists in red, wrote in his Quotidiano blog that the "minimum goal for Ferrari in Melbourne is to get both cars into Q3 on Saturday".

New president Sergio Marchionne has already warned that, after a tumultuous period for Ferrari and a difficult 2014, fans of the team should brace for another difficult season.

"The maximum target, and quite frankly it is unlikely, is the podium (in Australia)," Turrini added.

He quoted Marchionne as having said in Detroit last week that, "If in the last phase of the 2015 season we are still far behind, then we will have no excuses".

On the driver front, Ferrari newcomers Sebastian Vettel, Esteban Gutierrez and Jean-Eric Vergne have already begun their 2015 campaigns with visits to Maranello.

Now, Turrini reports that Kimi Raikkonen, Vettel's 2015 teammate, will make his first 2015 visit to the fabled Ferrari headquarters this week.

Volvo eyes Formula E, not F1
(GMM) Volvo has set its sights on a global open-wheel championship — and it isn't F1.

The Swedish carmaker already races in Scandinavian touring cars and Australian V8 supercars, although chief Alain Visser recently hinted that Volvo is rethinking its commitment to motor sport.

"Look at Land Rover and Jaguar," he told the Swedish edition of Auto Motor und Sport. "Full premium brands that do not race.

"I still do not see that racing suits our DNA, as Volvo should convey safety and low consumption."

However, the direction in recent times of top racing series like formula one and Le Mans is very much towards safety and low fuel consumption.

"Yes," Visser acknowledged, "but that's completely different money.

"I would say that Le Mans is the absolutely dumbest racing class you could be in. It costs 20 million euros for one car and you get press coverage for 24 hours!"

As for the FIA's new all-electric single seater category Formula E, however, Visser admitted Volvo is interested.

"We have looked at this," he said. "There is no decision, but it's definitely something we are thinking about.

"The audience figures and press coverage is still quite limited but this is a motor racing concept that I absolutely believe can grow.

"We follow the series very carefully and have done some deep analysis but are yet to take a decision. When you have a limited budget to spend, one must consider carefully where you invest that money.

"In comparison to other motor sports, Formula E is much better value for money," added Visser.

F1 career turmoil stopped Alonso's cycling dream
(GMM) Fernando Alonso shelved his plans for a professional cycling team amid the turmoil of his switch from Ferrari to McLaren.

That is the claim of Paolo Bettini, a former cyclist who left his job as head coach of Italy's national team in order to help Alonso set up a team for cycling's top World Tour.

But during the course of last year, it became clear Alonso's plans were fading and eventually the Spaniard met with Bettini to apologize.

"We sat down in December," Bettini told the Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport. "It was a frank meeting, we looked each other in the eye and he apologized."

That is because Bettini, currently without a job, gambled everything on Alonso's dream, which for now has been put on the shelf.

"If he needs help again and calls me then we can see if I'm still free and if we can find the right agreement. Would I be wary? Inevitably, yes," he admitted.

Bettini said the main problem for Alonso's cycling plans was the timing, as turmoil began to build at Ferrari last year and his negotiations for a return to McLaren intensified.

"It all started in the wrong year for Fernando," he explained.

"His job is a formula one driver, so then the changes in Ferrari that everyone is now aware of began and he began to try to change teams.

"It was a crucial year for his career and he had to focus on that," Bettini said. "There was no room for another challenging project, fascinating as it was."

He said he has no intention of suing Alonso, even though his two-year contract to be the new cycling team's director was technically breached.

"There is no legal aftermath," said Bettini. "We are on stand-by. Fernando sees this team for the future.

"I know that may not seem credible, because there was also the attempt to buy Euskaltel, but we have talked so many times and I assure you that he is competent and passionate.

"He is also proud and does not want the story to end this way."

Wehrlein eyes job with Mercedes-linked F1 team
(GMM) Pascal Wehrlein is a name on the fast-track to formula one.

Driving for Mercedes' premier team in DTM, the 20-year-old last year became the youngest winner in the German touring car series' entire history.

So the German carmaker signed him up in September to be the F1 team's new reserve.

Since then, he has been a regular in the team's Brackley simulator, he set the pace in the title-winning W05 in the post-race Abu Dhabi test, and has been linked with a Friday practice role for 2015.

Wehrlein told Schwabische Zeitung: "I want to be in F1 as soon as possible."

It is rumored Mercedes could place the youngster in a Friday driving role with a smaller team this year that could lead to his grand prix debut.

Wehrlein admitted: "A team that has nothing to do with Mercedes is not an option.

"So if there is a way to gain experience with a customer team, that's great." Mercedes' 'power unit' customers in 2015 are Williams, Force India and Lotus.

Also possible is that Wehrlein will split his F1 reserve and testing duties this year with another season in DTM.

"My plan for this year is not yet fixed," he explained, "as for whether I do a double program or whether the focus will be on one thing.

"I wouldn't like it if it was just DTM, but I think it's only a debate as to whether it is a double-program or if I will just focus on formula one," Wehrlein added.

Eteban Gutierrez – Ferrari's official simulator driver

Gutierrez hoping to aid Ferrari progress
Esteban Gutierrez says he is hoping his knowledge from spending two years as a Ferrari-powered Sauber driver will aid the Italian squad as it attempts to improve on a dismal 2014 campaign.

Ferrari finished a winless fourth in last year's Constructors' standings and Sauber outcast Gutierrez has been recruited as the team's new reserve driver.

"I worked with Sauber for the past few years; knowing the engine and how it developed from 2013 into 2014 with the new hybrid system was pretty important," the Mexican told the official Ferrari website after spending his first day at Maranello, where he met team personnel and carried out a seat-fitting.

"That experience I will take with me to try and complement the people here [at Maranello], to give my perspective [and] to learn a lot with the experience I have."

Gutierrez is also hoping to improve his own ability by working as the understudy to World Champions Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen

"It's a great opportunity as I can have a great reference, [looking at] the way of working between Sebastian and Kimi," he explained.

"They both have a lot of experience in top teams so I'm really looking forward to that experience as I'm going to learn a lot, be close to them and take myself to the next step."

Hackett Becomes Official Clothing Partner of Williams Martini Racing
WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING (Ticker: WGF1) is pleased to announce that it has signed a new multi-year agreement with Hackett, the luxury British clothing and accessories company, that will see Hackett become the official clothing supplier of the team for the 2015 season onwards.

Founded in London in 1979, Hackett is the home of essential British clothing and style and enjoys a worldwide reputation for luxury menswear, personal tailoring and accessories.

As part of the agreement Hackett will supply the apparel worn by WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING personnel at each Grand Prix during the Formula One season, as well as the apparel and luggage used by team members during their travels around the world.

As part of the agreement Hackett will become an official partner of the team, with its logo appearing on the nose of the Williams Mercedes FW37 racing car, the shirts worn by team personnel, and the race suits and caps worn by drivers Felipe Massa, Valtteri Bottas and Susie Wolff.

Jeremy Hackett said, "Motorsport has been a part of the Hackett DNA for many years now and the prospect of working with one of the giants of F1 sends shivers up and down my spine. The Martini racing stripe has always been heralded as a marque of prestige and luxury and it seemed only natural for Hackett to style the team for the new season. I also noticed that Hackett was founded the same time Williams won its first World Championship…an omen, if ever there was one!"

Speaking about the new partnership Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal and Commercial Director of Williams, said; "Hackett has grown to become one of the world's leading menswear brands and like Williams has a reputation for being quintessentially British but with an international presence. We are delighted to be partnering with a brand of their stature. The race team put their clothing and luggage through a lot of stress as they travel around the globe each season and work in challenging conditions. We always seek a supplier that has an excellent reputation for quality and style and Hackett certainly meets this criteria."

Stoffel Vandoorne

Vandoorne: Honda B team may help me
McLaren youngster Stoffel Vandoorne says that his best chance of joining the Formula 1 grid may come courtesy of a smaller team, should Honda opt to supply them with power units.

Honda is linking up with McLaren exclusively in 2015 but has not ruled out supplying other squads from next season.

Vandoorne will combine his role as a McLaren test driver with an assault on the GP2 title with ART this year but is wary that he will have to wait for a race seat at the Woking-based team, with Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button believed to have long-term deals.

"I believe in myself but it's so difficult to know about 2016, Formula 1 is a very complicated world," Vandoorne told Belgian newspaper L'Avenir.

"The [GP2] title is not a guarantee [of a Formula 1 seat], just a key.

"But it is clear in my head: Formula 1, I want more than a third driver role. Honda will maybe equip other teams and it could be a solution if Alonso and Button are [staying]."

Vandoorne is also confident that Kevin Magnussen's demotion to a test role will not hinder his own goals and reckons success in GP2 could elevate him above the Dane.

"It does not change much for me," Vandoorne said of Magnussen's move.

"I think I'll spend as much time in the simulator to help the Formula 1 team, in which I remain very involved and a full member.

"It's Magnussen [who] makes a step back to third driver. Who knows, this may be a chance for me because everyone knows that if you do not drive for a season, you will disappear from the shelf and it is very difficult to return. If I win GP2, I'll have the momentum."

Mercedes will put on a 1-2 parade again in 2015

Mercedes F1 W06 Hybrid to be unveiled in Jerez
After an intensive winter of development, the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team will officially get back to work with the public unveiling of the F1 W06 Hybrid on Sunday 1 February 2015 at the Circuito de Jerez, Spain.

The next generation of Silver Arrows racing car will make its first appearance in front of assembled media on the opening day of winter testing, with live coverage brought to the public via the team's social media channels. Further details on timings will follow.

Nico Rosberg will then take the wheel for day one of the test, returning to action again on day three. Lewis Hamilton will drive on days two and four. This driver allocation is the reverse of that which was used at the opening test of 2014.

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"The workload this winter has been as great as ever. Where last year we were preparing for an all-new formula of racing, we are now faced with the big challenge of making the next step in our development. We know that we went into the winter with a target on our backs for the other teams – and we are certain that our rivals will be competitive from the opening race in Melbourne. So we have to focus on every detail if we want to build any advantage this year and that is what we have done. This is an exciting time of year as our collective efforts all come together in the new car. Everybody in Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart has put a great amount of effort into creating the latest Silver Arrow and I thank them for their efforts so far. We are excited to see how the car performs when it begins running."

Last year's Toro Rosso car

Toro Rosso turns 10
2015 is a special season for Scuderia Toro Rosso, because we have reached the significant landmark of a decade of competition in Formula 1. Naturally, we hope to celebrate this important anniversary with a strong showing in this year’s World Championship and we are also marking the occasion with a special logo that you will be seeing a lot more of this year.

Since those early days in 2006, when Red Bull decided to set-up a feeder team to provide seats for the best drivers to come out of its Young Driver Program, the team has grown considerably. Indeed, including the 2015 season, we have provided cars for a total of 11 drivers, the majority making their Formula 1 debuts with us. And we weren’t fussy about where they came from; three continents in fact, America, Europe and Australia.

Our drivers have covered a total of 83,034 racing kilometers, the equivalent of two laps of the circumference of Planet Earth! We rank 20th in the all time total distance for Constructors, just one place behind Red Bull Racing. We are also right behind our sister team when it comes to race laps. Our drivers have rattled off 16,491 of them, putting us 19th overall.

Powering their Toro Rosso cars have been three different engine configurations – V10, V8 and now V6, from three different engine manufacturers. We have also used up a lot of rubber from three different tire companies.

The figures that really matter, those for points and wins are those we will be chasing again in 2015, starting in a few weeks time in Melbourne.

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