Magnussen stands in as Alonso misses Barcelona test

Fernando Alonso left hospital in Barcelona today, but McLaren has confirmed that the former World Champion will miss the test that runs for four days from tomorrow.

He will be replaced for the test by third driver Kevin Magnussen, although Jenson Button will definitely drive on the first day.

A short statement said: “Following his testing accident at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya last Sunday, we are pleased to confirm that Fernando Alonso has now left hospital. He has returned to his family’s home in Spain for further rest and recuperation.

“As a result, he will sit out this week’s final winter test, at which he was due to share driving duties with Jenson Button. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren-Honda’s test and reserve driver, will replace him.

“Jenson will be testing the McLaren-Honda car tomorrow (February 26), and the team will confirm the full day-to-day running order in due course.”

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Stevens confirmed as Manor F1 aims for Australian GP

Manor Marussia F1 has announced that it plans to be in Melbourne – and that Briton Will Stevens will be one of the race drivers.

In the light of the team not being permitted to run its 2014 chassis it has worked away quietly to prepare a legal one. It’s understood to carry over much of last year’s car, which is a logical step, given the time constraints.

It had been widely assumed that the team would have to miss the early races before it could be ready.

Intriguingly Marussia appears to have been retained in the team’s name, presumably to avoid the legal complications of dropping it completely in favour of Manor.

The team said: “The car with which Manor will begin the season is now in an advanced stage of build at the team’s current race preparation facility in Dinnington, UK, where personnel are working 24-7 towards the air freight despatch date of 6 March.”

It added: “The approval by the Company’s creditors on 19 February 2015 to a Company Voluntary Arrangement paves the way for the team to exit from administration and since that time everyone involved with Manor has been working flat out on the key components of its 2015 challenge.”

Stevens was a Marussia reserve driver before making his F1 debut with Caterham in Abu Dhabi.

He said: “It’s very exciting to see everything coming together at Manor after the tremendous effort that has gone into saving the team. It would not have been possible without the incredible support we have received from all the suppliers and from within the sport, but most of all the fantastic team of people at Manor who are working around the clock to ensure we are ready for Melbourne.

“My thanks to the team for their confidence in me and I can’t wait to see all the hard work rewarded when we line up on the grid in two weeks’ time.”

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Gerard Ducarouge 1941-2015

Legendary F1 chief designer Gerard Ducarouge has passed away at the age of 73. The colourful Frenchman is best remembered for his work with Ligier and Lotus, where he was responsible for a string of race winning cars.

Born in October 1941, Frenchman Ducarouge qualified in aeronautical engineering. He first came to prominence with Matra, where he designed the cars that won Le Mans in 1972, ’73 and ’74.

After Matra closed its works team he joined Guy Ligier, who was creating a Matra-powered F1 car for 1976. Ducarouge designed the JS5, famous for the ‘teapot’ airbox that it used in the first few races of the season. Jacques Laffite took pole for that year’s Italian GP, and then gave Ligier its first GP victory with the JS7 in 1977.

Ducarouge is perhaps best known for the JS11. The car dominated the early part of the 1979 World Championship in the hands of Laffite and Patrick Depailler, although later in the year the team was overhauled by both Ferrari and Williams. The updated JS11/15 was also a frontunner in 1980, when Didier Pironi joined the team. Laffite then won two more GPs in 1981 with the JS17.

Ducarouge subsequently fell out with Ligier and joined the works Alfa Romeo F1 team, where he designed the 182, with which Andrea de Cesaris took pole at Long Beach.

In May 1983 he turned down the chance to join Renault and instead made a move to Lotus. The team had lost founder Colin Chapman at the end of the previous year, and new boss Peter warr was keen to find a ‘name’ to help placate sponsors JPS. In fact he had been offered a job by Chapman himself in the past, but had turned it down.

Employing a more methodical approach than that associated with ideas man Chapman, Ducarouge helped Lotus create the 94T almost overnight in the middle of the 1983 season, working with Martin Ogilvie. In 1985 Ayrton Senna joined the team, and the Brazilian formed a close bond with Ducarouge. Senna scored his first GP wins in Portugal and Belgium with the Renault-powered 97T. Ayrton added four more successes over the next two years with the 98T and the Honda-equipped 99T, before moving on to McLaren.

Ducarouge himself left Lotus after a disappointing 1988 season and joined the team run by his former Matra colleague Gerard Larrousse, before returning to Ligier for a second spell in the early nineties, where he was involved with the JS39 that ran in 1993-’94. Subsequently he drifted away from F1 and rejoined Matra to work on other projects.

A charming and stylish man, he was much admired and respected in the paddock.

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Alonso crash not caused by any problem with car, says McLaren

Fernando Alonso remains in hospital in Barcelona as he recuperates from his accident on Sunday.

McLaren insists that the former World Champion is “making a solid recovery” and “is chatting to family, friends and hospital staff,” and that his extended stay is routine.

Meanwhile the team says that there was no failure on the car and addressed internet gossip that suggested that Alonso had lost consciousness before he crashed.

A statement said: “From the scene of the incident he was driven to the circuit’s medical centre, where he was given first aid and, as per normal procedures, was sedated in preparation for an air-lift to hospital.

“In hospital a thorough and complete analysis of his condition was performed, involving CT scans and MRI scans, all of which were completely normal.

“In order to provide the privacy and tranquillity required to facilitate a peaceful recuperation, he is being kept in hospital for further observation, and to recover from the effects of the medication that successfully managed his routine sedation yesterday.”

The team hinted that he might not drive in the second Barcelona test: “We intend to give him every opportunity to make a rapid and complete recovery, and will evaluate in due course whether or not he will participate in the next Barcelona test.”

Regarding the cause of the accident, McLaren added: “Over the past 24 hours, we have been carrying out a detailed analysis of the damage to Fernando’s car, and its associated telemetry data, in order fully to understand the cause, or causes, of his accident. Even at this early stage, we have been able to reach some firm conclusions.

“His car ran wide at the entry to Turn Three – which is a fast uphill right-hander – allowing it to run onto the Astroturf that lines the outside of the track. A consequent loss of traction caused a degree of instability, spitting it back towards the inside of the circuit, where it regained traction and struck the wall side-on.

“Our findings indicate that the accident was caused by the unpredictably gusty winds at that part of the circuit at that time, and which had affected other drivers similarly (eg, Carlos Sainz Jnr).

“We can categorically state that there is no evidence that indicates that Fernando’s car suffered mechanical failure of any kind. We can also confirm that absolutely no loss of aerodynamic pressure was recorded, which fact indicates that the car did not suffer any aerodynamic loss, despite the fact that it was subjected to a significant level of g-force. Finally, we can also disclose that no electrical discharge or irregularity of any kind occurred in the car’s ERS system, either before, during or after the incident.

“That last point refutes the erroneous rumours that have spread recently to the effect that Fernando was rendered unconscious by an electrical fault. That is simply not true. Our data clearly shows that he was downshifting while applying full brake pressure right up to the moment of the first impact – something that clearly would not have been possible had he been unconscious at the time.”

Pictures showed that Alonso sideswiped the wall, and that the wheels remained on the car.

“Our data also confirms that Fernando’s car struck the inside concrete wall, first with its front-right wheel and then with its rear-right. It was a significant lateral impact, resulting in damage to the front upright and axle.

“After the initial impact, the car slid down the wall for about 15 seconds before coming to a halt. All four wheels remained attached to the car, but no damage was sustained by the bodywork or crash structure between the front and rear wheels.”

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Maurizio Arrivabene: “I will run barefoot in the hills of Maranello…”

Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene insisted today that the Italian outfit is keeping its expectations in check despite the strong form shown by the SF15-T thus far in testing.

The car has consistently been at or close to the top of the times in the six days held thus far, and Kimi Raikkonen has stressed that it is a big improvement over its predecessor.

“My job is to rebuild the team, to create a calm environment and to ensure that the great determination I have seen in every member of the team is rewarded with results,” said Arrivabene.

“I have never believed in such a thing as a winter championship. We have our feet on the ground and as I said already in December, winning two races could be considered a success, three would be perfect and if we win four, I will run barefoot on the hills of Maranello. We have two fantastic drivers and they are also great friends and that can only benefit the whole team.”

Arrivabene said it was all about teamwork: “I wish to underline yet again that the most important thing is for us all to pull together, with common goals and with the determination I saw in the eyes of those who were even at work on 24 and 31 December, in the mechanical or composites departments, to the backdrop of the sound of the engines rather than ‘Jingle Bells.’

“I have seen that there are exceptional people in Maranello and each one of them is making a contribution. However, it’s clear the car does not belong to any one person, it belongs to Ferrari and its people.”

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Manor/Marussia moves closer to 2015 grid as CVA is approved

Marussia/Manor’s move to a Company Voluntary Arrangement has been approved, which in effect means that the team can take the next steps towards returning to the grid.

Today had been earmarked a fortnight ago as the date for the move to a CVA.

The team is meanwhile pushing ahead with plans to have a 2015-legal car ready, in theory by the fourth race of the season at the latest.

A statement from administrators FRP Advisory said: “The joint administrators confirm the requisite approval by the Company’s creditors on 19 February 2015 to a Company Voluntary Arrangement, which allows for control of the Company to be passed back to the directors and the Company to exit from administration.

“The financial restructuring creates a platform for the Company to continue with its plans to participate once again within Formula 1.”

Joint administrator Geoff Rowley added: “We are pleased that the financial restructuring of the Company has been progressed after creditor approval of the CVA.

“With new investment and a continuity of the respected management, the business has the ideal platform from which it can accelerate the operational rebuilding already underway to get a team back racing. It has been a long process and we would like to thank everyone involved to reach this milestone.

“We shall complete our statutory duties as administrators with the necessary filings needed in order to formally exit the Company from administration over the next few days.”

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F1 power unit upgrades set to make usage harder to manage

The introduction of in-season power unit development in 2015 will create an extra headache for both the teams and the manufacturers, some of the sport’s key players admit.

This year the manufacturers will be allowed to use up engine development tokens during the season, rather than use them all before the season, as had been the FIA’s original intention.

The problem they now face is the timing of the introduction of any upgraded parts, as it has to be done with an eye on how much mileage the previous examples have done.

Last year, when there was no development other for reliability purposes, teams would not have a problem using elements at the last race that had been in circulation as early as Melbourne, as long as they still had mileage on them.

Now they risk a dip in performance if they are forced to go back to earlier parts. While mileage on older equipment could be used up on Fridays, juggling the elements around still presents a challenge, especially now drivers only have access to four power units before penalties kick in.

“If you do use tokens up through the year then the introduction of that will mean what you had previously, you won’t want to use,” said Mercedes engine head Andy Cowell when asked by this writer. “Which does complicate it. That’s one of the things to consider as you come up with ideas and decide what you want to do.”

Meanwhile McLaren’s Eric Boullier said: “Last year was already a little bit of a headache, it’s just going to be more complicated. It’s true that four engines, with an upgraded package in the middle, we have to be very cautious how we manage our laps, especially on Fridays.”

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