Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday (Update)

UPDATE Update shown in red below.


  • Ecclestone – the only man with common sense in F1 – 'I can hear that scream, can you'

    Ferrari 'revolution' stays at full throttle

  • Ilmor working with Renault 'is great' – Horner
  • Lotus 'opened the door' to Alonso – Lopez
  • Ecclestone will again propose F1 returns to normally aspirated engines New

Ferrari 'revolution' stays at full throttle
(GMM) The sweeping pre-2015 revolution at Ferrari is continuing at full speed.

The latest of multiple heads to officially roll is the former Bridgestone tire specialist Hirohide Hamashima, hot on the heels of Nikolas Tombazis and Pat Fry.

And Italian reports say yet another new Ferrari refugee is Neil Martin, a disciple of Briton Fry dating back to their McLaren days.

The influential Italian La Gazzetta dello Sport surmised the mood of the past weeks as "full power for James Allison", the now clear and obvious technical chief of a fabled marque struggling in the new aero and energy-recovery era.

Also surviving the upheaval of the past months, weeks and days is Dirk de Beer, the aerodynamics chief.

But Spain's El Mundo Deportivo surmised that Ferrari has essentially "liquidated the (Fernando) Alonso era" as it builds a new foundation for the newly-arrived Sebastian Vettel.

"Do not fear change," new president Sergio Marchionne told Ferrari employees at a recent Christmas lunch, "be proactive and have the courage to come up with ideas."

Seasoned observers, however, marvel at the sweeping extent of the changes in red, the Roman daily Corriere dello Sport fearing Ferrari has "lost too many important heads to believe they can rely only on the survivors of the revolution".

Indeed, Germany's Sport Bild said that despite tempting offers to join the Ferrari rebirth, the likes of Bob Bell and Red Bull's chief designer Rob Marshall have both now said no.

"Marshall has signed a new long-term contract with Red Bull," the publication claimed.

Sport Bild also claims, however, that Ferrari has managed to convince a high-profile Mercedes figure to move to Maranello: new world champion Lewis Hamilton's performance engineer Jock Clear.

Renault's woeful 2014 power unit

Ilmor working with Renault 'is great' – Horner
(GMM) Christian Horner has confirmed that Red Bull's engine supplier Renault is now working with Mario Illien.

As the French engine marque faltered at the start of the new 'power unit' era, rumors Renault had turned to Swiss Illien – one of the most famous engine specialists in all of motor sport – and his company Ilmor began to swirl.

Illien was then spotted in the Red Bull garage in Abu Dhabi.

"It is great that Renault are now working with Ilmor," Horner, boss of Renault's works team Red Bull, is quoted by the French magazine Auto Hebdo.

"The company has been faced with similar problems in Indycar. Mario comes with a lot of experience and is able to look at the problems with fresh eyes and perspective."

Horner also said Red Bull is playing an active role in helping Renault to chase down dominant Mercedes.

"I'm talking about modeling, simulation, optimization of air flow, things like that — areas where we have some experience and we can help," he revealed.

Mercedes' rivals are having to simply up their game in the battle against F1's new power, given that efforts to change the engine rules for 2015 failed.

Lotus, on the other hand, is going from Renault to Mercedes for the 2015 season, with a team engineer revealing the extent of the problem to Auto Motor und Sport by revealing the switch "gives us 85 horse power more and 18 kilograms less".

It's an insight into the dilemma facing Mercedes' rivals, who may be helped by Bernie Ecclestone at Thursday's meeting of the Strategy Group.

The F1 supremo is trying to scrap altogether the turbo V6 rules for 2016.

"I believe if you got everybody in the room, secret ballot, there would only be one company interested in retaining this engine, and that is Mercedes," he said.

Gerard Lopez

Lotus 'opened the door' to Alonso – Lopez
(GMM) Lotus really was one of Fernando Alonso's options for the 2015 season, team owner Gerard Lopez has admitted.

As the long saga preceding the Spanish driver's switch from Ferrari to McLaren played out, many teams in pitlane were linked with the double world champion.

With Mercedes' dominant works team all locked up, at the top of the list were the Mercedes-powered customers Williams and Lotus.

"It was a real option," Lopez confirmed to Spain's El Mundo newspaper. "We opened the door to Fernando, but it was clear that he had his objectives."

Instead, Alonso has gone back to his old 2007 team, McLaren, where despite rumors of exit clauses he openly admits he is unlikely to be a winning force from "day one".

Asked if he thinks Alonso can win his long-awaited third title in Woking grey, Lopez answered: "I hope so.

"He is a driver who deserves to win at least one more championship. We'll see if McLaren can do what it needs to do.

"Everything takes time. It's an adventure, we'll see what happens," Lopez added.

Alonso's McLaren 'adventure' is boosted by a man close to Lopez's heart, Eric Boullier, the current team boss.

"We signed Eric from GP2 and he was with us for four years," he recalled.

"He is an engineer and he knows the technical side, which is not always the case with F1 people. It is not a guarantee of anything but it is a good starting point."

Finally, in the wake of his recent outspokenness about the income crisis facing middle-ranked teams, Lopez was asked if he can imagine joining the list of potential successors to the 84-year-old Bernie Ecclestone.

"I don't think so," the Luxembourger answered.

"It is actually unthinkable because I have many businesses and could not attend to what formula one needs from a chief executive."

Bernie Ecclestone recently when asked what he thought of the V6 turbo engines

Ecclestone will again propose F1 returns to normally aspirated engines
Bernie Ecclestone will once again propose that F1 returns to normally aspirated engines at Thursday’s Strategy Group meeting.

The F1 boss has been a vocal critic of the new regulations introduced in 2014 and will pitch the changes as a method of cost-cutting to the group which is comprised of Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull, Williams and new addition Force India after they finished sixth in the Constructors’ Championship.

The change from 2.4 liter V8 engines to 1.6 liter turbo-charged V8 hybrid units has seen costs rise from a reported £5m to £15-20m for customer teams.

With both Caterham and Marussia slipping into administration during the 2014 campaign and the futures of Force India, Sauber and Lotus all the subject of doubt, Ecclestone thinks an engine change would help them remain on the grid.

"We recognize the biggest problem these teams have is the amount they have to spend on the power unit," said Ecclestone.

"I believe if you got everybody in the room, secret ballot, there would only be one company interested in retaining this engine, and that is Mercedes. You can't blame them because they have done a super job, and the others haven't, so they've a big advantage.

"Is that good for Formula 1? I think not, because we can all put our money together and have a wager they will win the championship next year, and probably the year after, which is not really the sort of thing we are looking for.

"I have been proposing, and am going to propose, at the next meeting we go back to a normally-aspirated engine with some hybrid bits built into it.

"The teams, manufacturers will have to call it a 'McLaren hybrid', 'Ferrari hybrid' or a 'Williams hybrid'. It's so we get across the message they are hybrids, but nobody tells anybody.

"It's the best-kept secret actually as to what this engine is for, why it was designed and what have we achieved with it because it is a fantastic bit of engineering, it really is."

Having invested heavily in the new regulations to secure the performance advantage Ecclestone alludes to, Mercedes could perhaps be forgiven for not wanting to see that money go waste. The German outfit will supply engines to Williams, Force India and Lotus in 2015 as well as fielding their own team.

When it was suggested to Ecclestone that Mercedes would quit F1 if the sport reverted back to a V8 or V10, the F1 supremo replied: "I think they'll do it when it suits them anyway.

"We've noticed in the past manufacturers have done that, but I would be surprised if they did."

The 84-year-old would look to introduce the changes for 2016, but added that the proposals could go away if the engine suppliers agree to reduce costs.

"These are my ideas," he said. "Nobody can do anything with the engine we currently have, apart from spend a lot of money.

"I have spoken to one of the engine people and they thought the type of engine we are talking about, the development costs would be really small.

"I have always thought, though, it would be an uphill struggle to get Mercedes to ditch what they have built, and honestly we shouldn't ask them. It would need to be them volunteering.

"But what are they going to say? Them saying 'The other people are useless, we are great, so we're happy to help' is not going to happen is it?

"But if they're prepared to reduce the cost of the engine then the problem disappears, then there's no need for a new engine. We keep what we have."

Just three engine manufacturers were represented on the 2014 grid – Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari – and that will become four in 2015 when Honda return to F1 with McLaren. Sky Sports

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