Latest F1 news in brief – Saturday

  • Max Verstappen (R) with father Jos

    Honda excluded as engine upgrades allowed in 2015

  • Verstappen: Scoring points a realistic goal
  • Arnoux says Ferrari needed a change
  • What's new in F1 for 2015
  • Bottas is Williams future New

Honda excluded as engine upgrades allowed in 2015
(GMM) F1 newcomer Honda has been left out as rival engine suppliers prepare to develop their turbo V6 power units throughout the 2015 season.

It has emerged in recent days that, because the wording of the regulations is unclear, the sport's 2014 suppliers Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari do not in fact have to present in Melbourne an engine to be 'frozen' for this year's entire world championship.

"Everything depends on the interpretation of the rules," Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport earlier this week.

It is believed the loophole was discovered by Ferrari, and then backed in subsequent meetings by fellow engine straggler Renault.

"The FIA offered its version (of the rules interpretation)," Wolff added, "and I do not see any problems.

Being a newcomer, Honda will not be able to develop their engine throughout the year. Once it's homologated that is it for 2015.

"Certainly the freezing of engines in February is best for those who are at the front," said the Mercedes chief, whose Brackley team utterly dominated last year, "but we are able to develop too."

Crucially, however, F1's engine newcomer Honda will not be able to develop throughout 2015.

That is because the rules make clear that, for new engine suppliers under the turbo V6 rules that were implemented in 2014, a clear start-of-season homologation date is set: 28 February.

No such homologation date exists, however, for engine suppliers' second year under the new rules.

It means Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault can deploy their 32 performance development 'tokens' throughout the entire 2015 season. Honda cannot.

Writing in Germany's authoritative Auto Motor und Sport, highly respected correspondent Michael Schmidt said: "Newcomers (like Honda) have no tokens in the first year.

"Until their engine is homologated at the end of February, they are completely free to develop, but after that they may only upgrade on grounds of reliability, cost or safety," he explained.

Schmidt continued: "McLaren boss Ron Dennis already expressed his concern at the recent Strategy Group meeting that the rules discriminate against his new engine partner."

Max Verstappen

Verstappen: Scoring points a realistic goal
Toro Rosso's Max Verstappen says scoring points is a "realistic goal" for his rookie Formula 1 season.

The 17-year-old, son of former Grand Prix racer Jos, will become the youngest driver in the sport's history when he debuts at the Australian Grand Prix.

With team boss Franz Tost tipping him to promptly get on the scoreboard, Verstappen has set his sights on regular top 10 finishes.

"Scoring points is a realistic goal for me," Verstappen told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.

"With finishes between eighth and 10th, I will basically be doing a good job. For anything higher than sixth, you need luck.

"Of course it can happen with rain, crashes and dropouts, but you cannot expect us to battle with Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Williams – they are all teams with much bigger budgets.

"Fortunately, the first wind tunnel results of our new car are good."

Verstappen added that he is keeping his feet firmly on the ground as the Formula 1 paddock continues to comment on his impending debut.

"Occasionally I hear or read things as if miracles are expected," he went on to explain.

"But I'm a driver, not a magician. Wins or podiums are out of the question next season."

Maurizio Arrivabene

Arnoux says Ferrari needed a change
Former Formula 1 driver Rene Arnoux says Ferrari needed a change and believes that newly-appointed Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene is the right man to arrest the squad's decline.

Arnoux, who won three races during his stint with Ferrari from 1983 to 1985, recently paid a visit to the team's Maranello base and reckons the outfit will be able to reverse its current situation.

"Ferrari needed a change and I am pleased for Maurizio Arrivabene, who has had a great career with Philip Morris," Arnoux told Ferrari.com

"He is very professional and I know him well. He knows exactly what to do to make a team really competitive, you cannot just have one engineer. You need one for the gearbox, one for the engine, one for aerodynamics and one for electronics and then you need to put all these components together to get the best results."

"Sebastian Vettel is a great driver, we know that, he has already won championships and he is at a very high level," he added.

"In my opinion, it is a case of being a bit patient and when Maurizio has sorted the team out from a technical point of view, I am sure the results will come and the team will be able to try and win the Championship again."

What's new in F1 for 2015
After 2014's widespread rule changes it's a case of evolution not revolution in Formula 1 this year. But as ever, the sport refuses to rest on its laurels.

Technical

Having been enticed by the V6 turbo power units, Honda will make a Formula 1 comeback in 2015. The brand withdrew its works team from F1 at the end of 2008 following the global financial crisis but returns to rekindle its relationship with McLaren, the team with which it achieved so much success between 1988 and 1992.

Drivers are now restricted to four power units per season – down from five in 2014 – although the provisional nature of the Korean Grand Prix means a fifth power unit could be legal under a loophole in the regulations.

The replacement of a complete power unit no longer results in an automatic penalty; instead penalties are applied cumulatively based on the individual components of each power unit. Unlike in 2014, grid penalties no longer roll over to the next event. If a driver is unable to take their full grid penalty, the remainder will be applied as a time penalty for the relevant Grand Prix, on the following basis:

1-5 grid places: five-second time penalty
6-10 grid places: drive-through penalty
11-20 grid places: ten-second stop-and-go penalty
More than 20 grid places: a time penalty

The dimensions of the nose have been changed in a bid to improve the look of the front of the 2015 cars. Under the new regulations, the aesthetically unpleasing 'anteater' concept will no longer be permitted, meaning that nose designs such as those seen on the 2014 Mercedes and Ferrari cars should become commonplace.

Any suspension systems fitted to either the front or rear wheels may only react to direct changes of load applied to the relevant section. Front-and-Rear Interconnected Suspension (FRIC) will therefore be formally outlawed.

Teams will no longer be able to re-nominate gearings during the season – they could do it once in 2014.

The Zylon anti-intrusion panels on both sides of the survival cell have been extended upwards to the rim of the cockpit and alongside the driver's head.

Wind tunnel usage has been restricted, with teams now having to nominate just one wind tunnel for the entire season – weekly usage has been reduced from 80 hours to 65 hours.

The minimum weight of every car has been raised by 1kg to 702kg.

Sporting

After it was universally criticized in 2014, double points for the final race have been dropped and every round will feature the same distribution for the top 10 finishers.

Following Jules Bianchi's accident in Japan, a Virtual Safety Car (VSC) concept was trialed and the results analyzed. For 2015, the VSC will be implemented into races when the double waved yellow flags are required but the deployment of the Safety Car is not necessary. It means that a mandatory speed limit will be imposed for all drivers through a specific section of the circuit.

Should a race be suspended, cars will now line-up behind the Safety Car in the pit lane, rather than in grid slots on the start/finish straight.

If team personnel or equipment remains on the grid after the 15 second signal, the driver concerned must start the race from the pit lane. If they fail to do so, they will sustain a 10-second stop/go penalty.

Engine grid penalties will now be applied in a single race – rather than positions being carried over for one race – but should a driver be unable to serve their full grid drop they will head into the race with a time penalty or stop/go.

Alongside the five-second time penalty for a driver who has transgressed in a race, stewards are now able to apply a 10-second time penalty in the same fashion.

Lapped cars will still be permitted to overtake the Safety Car but the restart will no longer be delayed in order to allow them to catch up with the back of the pack.

For 2015, unsafe releases will be met with an automatic ten-second stop-and-go penalty for the relevant driver. Additional penalties may be imposed at the stewards' discretion.

A driver will be forced to start from the pit lane if any member of his team, or any relevant equipment, remains on the starting grid after the 15-second signal has been shown.

Drivers

There are three new drivers on the 18-car grid in 2015: Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz Jr. and Felipe Nasr.

Verstappen steps up to Formula 1 despite only making his car racing debut at the start of 2014 in the Florida Winter Series. In his rookie Formula 3 campaign he finished third and accrued the most wins (10) despite racing for the unheralded Van Amersfoort outfit. Verstappen also tested several times for Toro Rosso towards the end of the year.

Sainz Jr. claimed a record seven wins in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series as he became the first Red Bull-backed driver to win the championship. The son of the eponymous World Rally legend, he tested for Red Bull in Abu Dhabi and was given the nod to replace Jean-Eric Vergne at Toro Rosso.

Felipe Nasr will race for Sauber after the team opted for an all-new line-up. Nasr beat Kevin Magnussen to the 2011 British Formula 3 title but took longer to adjust to GP2. Nasr finally won after 50 attempts prior to finishing his third campaign in the series behind Jolyon Palmer and Stoffel Vandoorne.

New line-ups

As ever there is the tantalizing prospect of how drivers will adjust to different environments, with several changes among the front-running teams.

Red Bull has handed a promotion to sophomore driver Daniil Kvyat, who joins Daniel Ricciardo. Kvyat, the 2013 GP3 Champion, finished 15th in the 2014 standings after amassing eight points during his rookie campaign with Toro Rosso.

Having departed the Red Bull set-up, Sebastian Vettel will don the famous red overalls of Ferrari as for the second successive campaign the squad will feature an all-champion line-up, with Kimi Raikkonen in the other seat.

Fernando Alonso returns to McLaren with the aim of making up for 2007 ending in turmoil. The Spaniard will line-up alongside Jenson Button, with Kevin Magnussen dropped to a reserve role.

Mercedes, Williams, Lotus and Force India have all opted to retain the same driver pairing as 2014, while Marcus Ericsson has made the switch from the defunct Caterham team to Sauber and has already tested for the Swiss outfit.

Others

There will be no new circuits on the Formula 1 calendar in 2015 but a couple of classics will return.

A modified Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico makes a comeback following a 23-year absence while the German Grand Prix is set to be held at the Nurburgring as it continues its rotation policy with Hockenheim. The Korean Grand Prix is provisionally listed on the calendar but it remains to be seen whether the sport will visit the country this year.

In-season testing has also been cut from four post-race tests to two. In part from GPUpdate and Formula1

Bottas is Williams future
Claire Williams has hailed Valtteri Bottas as the future of Williams, confident the driver is "one of the brightest stars" in F1.

Bottas first raced for Williams in 2013, a dismal season for the F1 team.

However, a year later it was a very different picture.

Claiming six podium finishes, the Finnish driver completed the season fourth in the Drivers' Championship ahead of Championship-winning drivers Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.

Signed with the team for 2015, Williams believes the driver has a long-term future with the Grove-based outfit.

"I'm sure people are looking at Valtteri, and why wouldn't they? He's one of the brightest stars in the paddock at the moment," the deputy team boss told Autosport.

"But Valtteri started his career with Williams and when you talk to him you know that he's 100 per cent committed to Williams.

"We're committed with him on this future path for our team, and we're committed to doing that together.

"For me, that loyalty is important and I think Valtteri feels that as well.

"Of course the name of Ferrari, for example, may be tempting, but he fits in well here, and I think for someone like Valtteri that fit is as important as anything else.

"And why would he want to leave when we have a competitive car [and] he knows the plans we have for the future success he can achieve with Williams?

"It's not like we're fifth or sixth in the championship. Why would he go to another team when we're able to provide him with the car he needs in order to win? Why would he go elsewhere?"

Williams, however, concedes it is up to her and the team to keep the driver happy and near the front of the pack in order to have that future with him.

"You never know what the future holds – if Valtteri suddenly ended up being desperately miserable at Williams, because we hadn't provided him with the equipment that we promised him we would, then we would never want to stop him.

"You never know in Formula 1, but right at this moment Valtteri has a contract and we both have a commitment to each other to work together.

"We're so lucky with our driver line-up. We've got one of the best driver pairings on the grid, I'd suggest.

"They both work so hard for the team – they're two drivers whose egos don't get in the way of what we need to achieve as a group, and that's so important for a team like ours.

"They are fully committed and do their bit to help the team move forward. They've really helped turn this around." Planet F1

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