Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Bird says smaller F1 teams hire ridebuyers, not talented drivers. F1's now motto should be 'have check, will drive'

    McLaren, Ferrari to launch in late January

  • Alonso to struggle at McLaren in 2015 – Trulli
  • F1 teams favor money over talent – Bird
  • Porsche chief Muller says no to F1
  • F1 to challenge laptime records in 2015 – Hembery
  • McLaren confirms January 29 launch
  • Maldonado: Fans' criticism does not matter
  • Spain and Austria to host in-season F1 tests
  • Virtual Safety Car procedure confirmed

McLaren, Ferrari to launch in late January
(GMM) McLaren looks set to launch its Honda-powered 2015 car with an event at the British team's Woking headquarters on January 29.

International media reports are suggesting the McLaren launch could then be followed a day earlier or later by the official presentation of the new Ferrari.

Unlike the McLaren event, however, which will feature journalists attending an actual car unveiling, Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport said the Ferrari 'launch' will in fact simply be the release of multimedia items on the internet.

The report tipped the Ferrari livery to again be red and white with a touch of black carbon, adding that behind-the-scenes rumblings from Maranello suggest the latest wind tunnel results are "encouraging".

"There is optimism that much of the aerodynamic deficit has been bridged," said La Gazzetta.

"And combined with the political victory on the engine side that will improve performance and economy, there is a feeling of moderate optimism."

The report said the '666'-codenamed project will be launched between the 28th and the 30th of January, with the precise date "depending on the assembly of the car".

Meanwhile, it has emerged that, unlike in 2014 when four tests were scheduled, this year there will only be two post-grand prix, in-season tests.

They will take place after the Spanish and Austrian grands prix respectively, at the Circuit de Catalunya in May and the Red Bull-Ring in June.

Alonso and Dennis might not be smiling much in 2015

Alonso to struggle at McLaren in 2015 – Trulli
(GMM) Fernando Alonso's former teammate doubts the Spaniard's high-profile switch from Ferrari to McLaren will result in instant success.

But Jarno Trulli, who was Alonso's teammate at Renault over a decade ago, does think the end of the five-year partnership with Ferrari was inevitable. (editor's note: we said the same thing here)

"I think after five years of marriage with Ferrari, when it did not result in a world championship, which is what Fernando expected, it is normal that the end came," the 40-year-old Italian said.

"For both sides. For Fernando and for Ferrari, who both want to win races and titles," said Trulli.

A former Monaco winner, Trulli was speaking to Spain's EFE news agency from Buenos Aires, where as a team owner and driver he is preparing for the next Formula E race.

"It was the natural end of a relationship," he added, referring again to Alonso's Ferrari split.

"But now Fernando is at McLaren and, unfortunately, it doesn't look to be a better option for Alonso than Ferrari. At the moment, there is nowhere better to be if not at Mercedes.

"There are very few options, because the quality of formula one has suffered a dramatic decline in performance. There are only a few teams that can afford to develop engines and cars, because budgets are very high and the economic situation is not helping.

"That leaves you with very few options, and that's the situation Fernando is in now.

"It is a difficult situation," Trulli explained, "and hard to accept, even for him, because he obviously wants to fight for victory. But I think it's going to be another tough season this year with McLaren.

"I don't wish that for him, but it does not look good."

Trulli admitted that the political situation for McLaren's new works engine supplier Honda, who have been left out of the controversial development 'unfreeze', is yet another problem.

"For now," said the former Toyota driver, "I think the only good thing is that Fernando is going to be paid well. But on the technical side, I do not see McLaren being able to match the two or three best teams."

But one positive for Alonso, Trulli explained, is that he will likely not overly regret his decision to leave Ferrari.

"It has been difficult times for them (Ferrari)," he said, "changing people, taking wrong decisions. They did not benefit from the rule changes and lag behind technically, and – until recently – also politically.

"Now at least they succeeded politically with opening the engine freeze, but the main problem is that they need to turn the technical side around completely.

"You don't do that in a day. Not even in a year — it takes a long time."

Trulli therefore tips Mercedes to dominate yet again in 2015.

"They have an enormous advantage," he said, "and the others are not going to catch up yet because I think last year they (Mercedes) still had something in their sleeve."

F1 teams favor money over talent – Bird
(GMM) Former Mercedes tester Sam Bird says F1 teams no longer scour the world's top racing categories in search of the best possible drivers.

28 today, the Briton was until recently a Mercedes simulator driver and a GP2 winner — a resume that in decades past would have seen him knocking loudly on the door of the grand prix grid.

Sam Bird celebrates his Formula E victory in Putrajaya

Instead, he is a frontrunner in the new Formula E series, on a grid filled with former F1 stars like Jarno Trulli and Jean-Eric Vergne, and F1 nearlymen like Bird and Antonio Felix da Costa.

Bird is currently third in the standings, having won in Malaysia, but ahead of the forthcoming race in Buenos Aires he is not expecting the eyes of formula one to be on him.

"Formula one won't look at this and think 'Gosh he's a good driver, I've got to have him'," he told The Times.

"Unless you've got a bottomless pit of money, they don't really look at you anymore."

Bird, however, thinks that although the F1 teams are being forced to weigh money with talent, the strategy could ultimate backfire for the sport.

"Formula one needs youth in the long run because there's only so many years that Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button are going to be around and when they're gone, who are we going to end up with?" he said.

"The big teams spend so much money to get the points to get the prize money that makes them richer. It's just an endless circle in favor of the big teams, so the small teams don't have any choice but to take on drivers who have 15 to 20 million euros.

"There are some drivers, whether it's myself or drivers in GP2 or world endurance series, who have had potential or results required to warrant a chance but haven't even had a sniff of it due to lack of funding," Bird added.

"It's very frustrating but that's the way it is and it's not going to change."

Porsche chief Muller says no to F1
(GMM) Porsche chief executive Matthias Muller has now added his confirmation to reports the German marque is not interested in entering formula one.

Already this week, the fabled Volkswagen-owned sports car company's research and development chief Wolfgang Hatz said F1 "has never been an issue for us and won't be.

"Le Mans is a more attractive environment for us — there are more and more competitors and we learn more about the production of road cars," he told Auto Motor und Sport.

Now, Hatz's boss Muller has nailed the lid on the total rejection of formula one by Porsche, who in 2015 will field drivers including Mark Webber and Nico Hulkenberg in the premier LMP1 prototype category at fabled Le Mans.

Referring to the three-year decision to enter Le Mans in 2014 rather than another top category like F1, he told DPA news agency: "We have not looked back once and we are perfectly happy.

"We think LMP1 is the future", Muller said, adding that in contrast F1 appears to be "in more and more difficulty".

F1 to challenge laptime records in 2015 – Hembery
(GMM) Paul Hembery, official tire supplier Pirelli's F1 chief, is expecting the field to speed up significantly in 2015.

Last year, the Italian marque took a deliberately conservative approach to its 2014 rubber, having gone through a tumultuous 2013 and with the uncertainties of the new turbo V6 era in mind.

As a result, and with the high-downforce, V8 powered era in the past, lap times last year generally suffered.

"Last season," Hembery agreed, "the power unit manufacturers, the teams, and ourselves (Pirelli) learned a lot.

"It will be very interesting to see what awaits us in Australia," he is quoted by Russia's f1news.ru. "Only then will we get a real idea of the scale of changes that have occurred.

"At Pirelli we already have specific information about what we can expect in the new season, and I can say that some of it is very interesting, and that is to put it mildly.

"We expect a significant increase in pace, and when you consider how much laptimes normally improve through a season, I think by the end of 2015 we will be getting close to breaking records," Hembery added.

McLaren confirms January 29 launch
(GMM) McLaren has confirmed reports it will launch the Honda-powered 2015 car on 29 January.

We reported earlier that the Woking based team would stage an event for the unveiling of the MP4-30 at its headquarters.

"Yes," a McLaren spokesman told us on Friday.

"As has been reported recently on various websites, the McLaren-Honda MP4-30 will be launched on January 29th, but the method of launch has yet to be decided," he added.

Pastor Maldonado – have check, will drive

Maldonado: Fans' criticism does not matter
Pastor Maldonado is adamant he won't let criticism from fans, saying it "doesn't matter" what naysayers think about him.

The Venezuelan driver is set to enter his fifth successive season in Formula 1 in 2015.

However, there are some out there who believe he is only in the sport because of his hefty sponsorship deal with the Venezuelan state-owned PDVSA oil company.
Added to the pay driver tag, Maldonado has also earned a reputation for crashing.

The Lotus driver, though, insists he's not fazed by the criticism.

"Imagine if you get behind all the comments people do. It's impossible," he said to Autosport.

"I appreciate the people who support myself, who are many – especially from my country and from Latin America.

"Even in Europe I have many fans, especially in Italy because I did my entire [junior] career there.

"Sure, there are some comments that I don't like but I can't do anything.

"It is good to be free to talk and to say what you think.

"There are people that are not even happy with Alonso. It's just an example, but some people say he's arrogant.

"He's a good guy in my opinion and he's a wonderful driver.

"But when you are in the public eye, people can give their opinions.

"There are some good comments, some bad comments but it doesn't matter for me."

The 29-year-old reckons some of his mistakes have been the result of driving an uncompetitive car, saying that forces driver to at times try too hard.

"We are human. Even [Daniel] Ricciardo crashed at Suzuka. It's not only me," he added.

"You can make mistakes, especially when you are racing and pushing hard, and when you don't have a very stable car it's even worse."

Spain and Austria to host in-season F1 tests
The two in-season test sessions in 2015 will take place after the Spanish and Austrian grands prix.

2014 saw four two-day tests take place during the season as teams got to grips with new regulations and immature power unit technology. Those tests took place in Bahrain, Barcelona, Silverstone and after the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.

This season sees the number of in-season tests halved to just two, with Red Bull announcing the first will take place after the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. The second venue to be used for testing will be the Red Bull Ring in Austria, with that race taking place on June 21.

Last year the in-season tests took place on the Tuesday and Wednesday following each grand prix, while the 2015 regulations state that two of the test days – including pre-season testing – must be allocated to running young drivers.

Pre-season testing starts in Jerez from February 1-4 before two further tests at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona from February 19-22 and February 26-March 1. crash

Virtual Safety Car procedure confirmed
The intricacies behind Formula 1's new Virtual Safety Car (VSC) system have been confirmed, with governing body the FIA formally adding the procedure to its sporting regulations for the 2015 campaign.

The VSC was first discussed following Jules Bianchi's crash at last year's Japanese Grand Prix, with a view to slowing cars down in accident zones.

Variations were successfully trialed at the final three rounds in the United States, Brazil and Abu Dhabi, before teams agreed on its introduction.

Article 41 states that the VSC will normally be used when double waved yellow flags are required, but the situation does not warrant the use of the Safety Car itself.

Marshal light panels around the track will display 'VSC' when the system is in use, during which time drivers will need to stay above a minimum time at least once in each sector.

Drivers will not be permitted to enter the pit lane when the VSC is in operation, unless it is solely for the purpose of changing tires.

When Race Control feels it is safe for racing to resume, teams will be informed on the official message system that the VSC period is ending.

Between 10 and 15 seconds after the message, the marshal light panels will turn green, and switch off after another 30 seconds.

Standing restarts after Safety Car periods and double points at the final round have been officially removed from the regulations.

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