Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Luca di Montezemolo

    Caterham hits back at Kobayashi claims

  • FIA asks teams for Bianchi crash information
  • Montezemolo confirms Alonso leaving Ferrari
  • Montezemolo 'not pleased' about Ferrari exit
  • Hakkinen: Honda success will take time
  • McLaren eye 'experience and eagerness'
  • Ferrari 'myth' drew Vettel in New
  • With engine 'freeze' Rosberg see 'long-term' Mercedes F1 success ensured New
  • Download the new McLaren Phone and iPad App New

Caterham hits back at Kobayashi claims
(GMM) Kamui Kobayashi's job at Caterham appears even more tenuous after boss Manfredi Ravetto rebuked the Japanese's comments after the Russian grand prix.

After the struggling team's new owners and management took over, Kobayashi lost his race seat at Spa-Francorchamps in August.

But although apparently wanting to give Roberto Merhi the place, the Spanish rookie did not initially secure his mandatory super license, and so the unsponsored Kobayashi, 28, has returned to his race seat for now.

Kobayashi, however, cast fresh doubt on his immediate future after retiring at Sochi, claiming there was in fact "Nothing wrong with the car".

"We have a lot of mileage limitation to avoid things going wrong with the parts. This is why I got the message from top management," he explained.

Caterham immediately denied Kobayashi's claim, insisting telemetry showed that his brakes were overheating.

Now, several days later, team boss Ravetto has revealed his disappointment with Kobayashi's comments.

"I was very surprised to hear Kamui referring to some mileage-saving instruction coming from the team's management," he said in an interview posted on Caterham's official website on Wednesday.

"We saw via telemetry that there was a potential issue with the brakes and we decided to avoid any risks — Kamui officially confirmed this as well and I'd like to add that he had also asked us to change the previous set before qualifying because he felt some vibration."

Ravetto's comments come amid intense speculation Caterham could be the first of the sport's most financially struggling teams to collapse ahead of the 2015 season.

He continued: "Regarding Kamui's comment, all I can say – and again, I'm answering with facts – is that the team has continuously made progress since the British grand prix, we've managed to qualify very well in the last two races, getting very close to Q2, and in Suzuka we repaired Kamui's heavily damaged car in time for the next session without any problems, so I cannot understand his comment."

FIA asks teams for Bianchi crash information
(GMM) F1's governing body has formed an 'accident panel' in the wake of Jules Bianchi's life threatening crash.

The news, confirmed in a letter from the FIA to "all F1 teams" this week, follows Marussia angrily hitting back at media reports the team and its French driver were to blame for Bianchi's crash into a recovery vehicle at Suzuka 11 days ago.

The FIA letter asked teams to forward to the Paris federation "any information which you may have regarding the circumstances of this accident, and to keep all documents, testimonies and any pertinent information which may be of interest to the accident panel".

The publication that revealed the disputed and highly controversial information about Bianchi's crash was Germany's Sport Bild, claiming Marussia told the now critically ill Frenchman to speed up to keep Caterham's Marcus Ericsson behind him in the moments before the crash.

Marussia also strenuously denied claims Bianchi did not slow down for the yellow flags.

But in the wake of the team's angry denials, Sport Bild has published even more new information.

It claims Bianchi went through the high-speed Dunlop corner at 217kph on the lap before he crashed. Next time around, he was reportedly recorded at 212kph.

The information is reportedly based on an official FIA document.

When asked about the document's existence, FIA spokesman Matteo Bonciani told Germany's Sport1 that "all relevant information about Jules Bianchi's accident was reported by race director Charlie Whiting at Suzuka."

He also would not confirm the existence of the radio messages from Marussia to Bianchi, as originally alleged by Sport Bild.

"This (not commenting on speculation) is a principle of the FIA — especially in the case of Bianchi," Bonciani insisted.

Montezemolo confirms Alonso leaving Ferrari
(GMM) Luca di Montezemolo has admitted Fernando Alonso is leaving Ferrari.

The Spaniard's falling out with the Maranello team and recent dissolving of his contract is an open secret in F1 circles, but it is yet to be officially confirmed.

Also not yet announced is Sebastian Vettel's impending arrival to replace him, but countryman Nico Rosberg insists: "This is great news for our sport.

"It's interesting for all the fans when the four-time world champion changes teams and they wonder 'Can he take his new team back to the front?'" the Mercedes driver told Bild.

Insiders believe Ferrari's confirmation of the Alonso-Vettel news must now be imminent, although talks between the Spanish driver and McLaren-Honda are believed still to be taking place.

However, Italy's Autosprint believes a deal between Alonso and McLaren's new works engine supplier Honda is essentially agreed, and the last detail is the driver's desire for an exit clause.

"Fernando is leaving (Ferrari) for two reasons," Montezemolo, who was officially replaced as Ferrari president by Sergio Marchionne on Monday, told Italian television Rai on Wednesday.

"One because he wants to cement himself in another environment. And two because he's at an age where he cannot wait to win again. He has been disappointed not to have won (a title) in these years and he needs a new stimulus," Montezemolo added.

Montezemolo only confirmed what is already widely known in the F1 paddock, and even his likely destination – McLaren-Honda – is no secret.

The bigger question is how arguably the sport's biggest name and best talent found himself playing contract poker with his old nemesis Ron Dennis in possession of a clearly inferior set of cards.

"He has been released from one contract without having another in place," said David Coulthard, "and that does have implications for his negotiations, however badly McLaren want him.

"What will happen to Alonso? Will he take a year out? Race a year in sports cars?" wondered the former McLaren driver, who now commentates for British television BBC.

"From controlling the market, he appears now to be left with a choice between McLaren and a year out," Coulthard added.

Coulthard's former McLaren teammate, the double world champion Mika Hakkinen, doubts a move to Woking will result in immediate success for Alonso.

"During my own career," the Finn said in his latest interview for sponsor Hermes, "I worked with many engine manufacturers. There was never success in the first year.

"Based on my own experience, I would consider it to be a small miracle if Honda can go straight to the top," Hakkinen added, "although they do have extensive experience with the world of motor sport."

Montezemolo 'not pleased' about Ferrari exit
(GMM) Luca di Montezemolo has hit back at suggestions he was ousted as Ferrari president because of the Italian team's struggles.

"A lack of results?" the 67-year-old, who was replaced by Fiat's Sergio Marchionne on Monday, reportedly told Italian television Rai on Wednesday.

"Remember that since 1999 we won 14 titles in 15 years.

"Fortunately or unfortunately, sport is not an exact science, and in formula one there are cycles. Ours was very long.

"In the last years we are the team that won the most. In 2008 and in 2010 and 2012 we lost the championship in the last race. The most disappointing was the last one, but that's sport.

"Renault had its cycle for two years, we're coming out of Red Bull's and into Mercedes'.

"Now Ferrari opens a new cycle with a lot of work and investment, taking into account that today's cars are hybrids," he said.

Montezemolo said the most disappointing thing about his departure was the manner in which it took place.

"I've always had a very strong relationship with the Agnelli family," he said, "and I think I did something important in 2004, when I agreed to be chairman of Fiat in extremely dramatic circumstances.

"Perhaps a 'thank you' in the least would have been expected.

"I do not hide that I was not very pleased about how, but it is part of life and it is right that it is the owner who can make decisions," Montezemolo added.

He explained that his removal as president was related to parent group Fiat-Chrysler's debut on the New York stock exchange.

"Everything happened a little fast in relation to the listing of Fiat-Chrysler on the American stock exchange," said Montezemolo, "which happened two days ago.

"There was a need to have Ferrari in a large group and I think this accelerated time a little."

Finally, Montezemolo commented on the accident suffered recently by the critically injured Jules Bianchi.

"We have made tremendous progress with safety. Unfortunately some accidents still happen as was the case with Jules Bianchi, our boy, but the tractor should not have been there," he said.

Hakkinen: Honda success will take time
Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen says it would be a "small miracle" if former team McLaren found itself at the top of the pecking order next season, when the team reunites with Honda.

Japanese manufacturer Honda, which departed the sport as a works outfit at the end of the 2008 season, is returning in the form of McLaren's engine partner, having previously supplied the squad from 1988 to 1992.

"During my F1 career I've worked with a lot of engine manufacturers," said Hakkinen in a column for Hermes.

"My experience is that when you switch supplier, you won't be immediately satisfied in the first year. I would find it a small miracle if Honda was immediately up front, although they of course have a lot of motorsport experience."

Hakkinen drove for McLaren between 1993 and 2001. The Finn used Ford engines for his opening campaign with the team, before it switched to Peugeot powerplants the following campaign. A lengthy Mercedes agreement began in 1995, but the first race victory of the partnership did not come until the final round of the 1997 season.

McLaren eye 'experience and eagerness'
McLaren remain undecided about their 2015 driver line-up but Eric Boullier says they want a "mix of experience and eagerness".

Both Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen are facing uncertain futures as one or both of them could make way for a big name with McLaren Group CEO Ron Dennis having previously admitted he would love to sign Fernando Alonso and/or Sebastian Vettel.

With Vettel expected to go to Ferrari, it leaves Alonso as an option while Lewis Hamilton's name has also entered the equation in recent weeks.

McLaren Racing Director Boullier, though, says they have a clear vision about what they want.

"We need a mix of experience and eagerness," he told the official Formula 1 website. "In this time of recovery for McLaren I need a boost, so our driver line-up needs to be boosting the team's morale and team's determination to reach as quickly as possible the level where we should be."

He added: "I always said that we are working on the strategy for the coming years – plural – which means we could take on a big name now, or even two big names for next year, or we could stay the same and go for a big name – or again two big names – for 2016.

"We are still assessing what we should do, as it is a big decision that will obviously be driving our success for the medium term. If we take the wrong decision we could be successful in the short term but maybe not in the long term. And we are in the comfortable position of being able to wait. I know that doesn't make it comfortable for [Button] and [Magnussen], but I have to think about McLaren first. We have to make sure we make the right decision."

Ferrari 'myth' drew Vettel in
Helmut Marko says Red Bull lost Sebastian Vettel to the "myth" of Ferrari even though "much of it is about illusions."

Earlier this month, Red Bull announced that Vettel would be leaving the team at the end of this season.

While his destination has yet to be confirmed, it is an open secret in the paddock that he is off to Ferrari.

The four-time World Champion is expected to replace Fernando Alonso, who Luca di Montezemolo has revealed will go at the end of the year.

Asked why he believed Vettel had opted to sign with Ferrari, Marko told the official F1 website: "Ferrari is still the name in F1. It's a myth, so every driver yearns to go there in their racing career.

"Sure, much of it is about illusions.

"Sebastian has already won [the title] four times. Now it's time for the myth. I also believe that the moment to move was ideal: Ferrari is down, and in such a situation you can dictate your conditions."

As for when he became aware that Vettel was shopping around, the Red Bull advisor said: "I think the first suspicion that there was something brewing was after the summer break. I cannot nail it down to an occurrence, but it was a strong gut feeling.

"Remember this: at least two things had to come together. It was not only a case of Sebastian wanting to leave, but also of Fernando Alonso clearing the way.

"The more Alonso distanced himself from Ferrari the more likely it became that Seb would move."

Red Bull did not have to look far for a replacement for the German, promoting Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat despite the Russian driver having only made his debut this season.

Marko added: "We do have the cozy situation of having a pool of great talents we can choose from as we want. And believe me, we wouldn't have promoted him if we didn't believe that he can deliver!" Planet F1

With engine 'freeze' Rosberg see 'long-term' Mercedes F1 success ensured
Nico Rosberg hopes Mercedes' constructors' championship success will be the first of many titles for the team and he knows with the engine freeze, their success is guaranteed because the other manufacturers are frozen out of catching up.

A one-two in the Russian Grand Prix – won by Lewis Hamilton – saw Mercedes clinch the constructors' title with three rounds remaining. Rosberg has driven for the team since it returned to F1 in 2010 and is hopeful there will be more titles to follow in the coming years.

"This has been a long time coming," Rosberg said. "Since I joined at the start of this project back in 2010 I expected this day to come as I've had such strong belief in this group of people from right back on day one. To be a part of that and to have finally achieved this Championship in such dominant fashion is a great feeling.

"I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone for all their hard work. I hope they can really enjoy this moment, that there will be many more great moments to come and that this is just the beginning of a long era of success for the Silver Arrows."

And Rosberg said other team members who were alongside him in the team's first season, including former teammate Michael Schumacher, deserve credit for the dominance Mercedes has enjoyed this year.

"All of the people who were there in the beginning – Michael, Ross [Brawn], Norbert [Haug], Nick Fry – even then more in detail other team players, everybody has a part in this. We have continued on with new people and they have kept on pushing and made further steps. It's just been a progression from day one."

Download the new McLaren Phone and iPad App
The McLaren App, which is now available to download from Apple's App Store, pulls together all of our social media content, stories, and a wealth of app-only content that has been specifically designed for the platform.

At its heart is the Transmission Centre, a central hub that constantly updates a stream of chat, photography, video and comment from a variety of social media sources.

During race sessions, the Transmission Centre's LIVE panel expands to accommodate constantly updated insights and commentary from the track, including radio conversations and real-time data. During race weekends, the McLaren App becomes the ultimate second-screen viewing experience.

Also available on the app are driver biographies and galleries, data and videos about the team's 2014 car, and info on every circuit on the Formula 1 calendar.

App-only content includes an exclusive F1 glossary, which provides the most comprehensive guide yet to modern grand prix racing’s complex rules and regulations.

Fans also get a taste of the wider world of McLaren with social feeds from our fans, partners and road car company, McLaren Automotive. The sheer volume and concentration of content means that the dedicated McLaren fan will never miss a thing.

The experience is optimized to make the most of mobile and tablet platforms, balancing the use of multi-layered and streamlined feeds, tailored to providing the optimal one-handed use on the go.

App features

The Transmission Centre

Get the very latest and social content, along with app-only exclusives, all in one place.

McLaren LIVE

During Grand Prix weekends the clock becomes interactive. Tap it to toggle the LIVE Panel and follow the Formula 1 action live, with commentary, team-talk and real-time race data.

Get Involved

Love a piece of content you discover whilst using the app? Then share it on Twitter from within the app itself or Star it.

Transmission Heat

By Starring items you increase their popularity color and tell us what content you want to see more of.

Season Insights

Dive deeper into the app to learn more about McLaren and the Formula 1 season.

Speaking about the launch of the McLaren App, McLaren racing director Eric Boullier said:

"The launch of the new McLaren app is another exciting step in our continuing digital expansion. For a generation brought up using handheld devices and social media, the app condenses the full wealth of the team’s content – social, photography, video and web – into one singular stream, making it an easily accessible and compelling destination.

"Bringing it all under one roof now means greater and more personal engagement with our fans and supporters, and will continue to ensure that McLaren continues to provide the best user experience on the web, on mobile and on tablet."

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