Ricciardo, Vettel face pitlane start as FIA investigates wing flexing

Red Bull Racing is under investigation by the stewards after FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer reported the cars of Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel to the stewards for a front wing flap flexing offence.

Bauer reported that the front wing flaps were ‘designed to flex under aerodynamic load,’ which in other words equates to the cars gaining an advantage via illegal means.

Adrian Newey and team manager Jonathan Wheatley have been to see the stewards to state their case.

If the cars are deemed to be illegal they will be sent to the back of the grid. However clearly the wings will have to be modified so that will be a change of car specification, which means that both drivers will have to start the race from the pitlane.

However the FIA could also take further action if the offence is regarded as a case of blatant cheating.

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Horner pushing for less high tech version of V6

Christian Horner continues to make clear his frustration with the current F1 engine regulations, and has suggested that the sport moves to a simplified version of the V6.

Although he admits he’d like to see the V8s back – a desire he shares with close ally Bernie Ecclestone – Horner says that a revised V6 with twin turbos and a common ERS system would be a good compromise.

“If you roll back the clock for when this engine was thought about, you go back to Max [Mosley’s] rule, we’re talking about a four cylinder engine, and it was quite different. Those regulations were given to engineers, engineers then discussed them and there was a compromise sought because a four cylinder was felt to be wrong for Formula One. The four cylinder at the time was supposed to bring in more manufacturers into Formula One and the compromise was to go to a V6.

“And then, unfortunately when a bunch of engine engineers are left on their own to come up with a set of regulations, they’ve come up with something tremendously complicated and tremendously expensive. The engines that we have today are incredible bits of machinery, incredible bits of engineering but the cost to the collective manufacturers has probably been close to a billion euros in developing these engines, and then the burden of costs has been passed on, unfortunately, to the customer teams.

“So unfortunately, I think we have to recognise what’s been done from an engineering point of view and now look to simplify things, potentially retaining the V6 philosophy, perhaps going to a twin turbo that would address the sound issues that we’ve had this year and maybe even a standard energy recovery system would dramatically reduce the costs, dramatically reduce development and therefore the supply price to the customer teams also. So I think that’s something that the strategy group need to discuss and look at.”

Asked why the manufacturers would support such a move he said: “I think the scenario is such that it’s unsustainable, it’s unsustainable for manufacturers, any of the manufacturers, to keep spending at the level that they are, and therefore, rather than perhaps going backwards with the V8, maybe we should potentially keep the basis of what’s been achieved but look at simplifying it because if the development costs stay at where they are, we will not attract new manufacturers into the sport and we may well drive current manufacturers out of the sport.

“So we have to think, not just about today but about the future. 2015, there’s very little that can be done with the regulations but for 2016, an awful lot can be done and I think that the teams, together with the FIA and the promoter, have to have that responsibility to ensure that those issues are addressed and the sport is sustainable and attractive to new manufacturers to come in.”

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‘Slow zone’ idea abandoned after Abu Dhabi experiment

An experiment with a Le Mans-style ‘slow zone’ in FP1 and FP2 today did not work, so the FIA is switching its focus back to a virtual safety car as it addresses the yellow flag issue for next year.

At the end of FP1 and FP2 today drivers were asked to run with their 80kph pit limiter in the nominated double yellow flag sector, and the preceding sector.

However not surprisingly after trying it out drivers expressed concerns about everyone braking at the last possible minute – as they do when they enter the pitlane and flick the limiter on – and the potential consequences should cars be running in a pack.

The focus will now return to a virtual safety car, over a full lap rather than just yellow sectors, as was tried in Brazil. The problem remains that drivers feel that they are distracted by following delats times on their dash screens.

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Don’t count us out yet, says Marussia boss

Marussia/Manor F1’s Graeme Lowdon says that the team is still trying to race in 2015, despite not being able to get to Abu Dhabi.

The team made a huge effort to make the trip, and plans only fell through at the last minute on Wednesday. Despite the team not being present at the final race of the year Lowdon stressed the importance of resuming work on a 2015 programme if the commercial issues can be addressed.

“We got very close, very close to getting there – really close,” Lowdon told this writer. “Anyone who knows us will know that we only want to do things properly and it just couldn’t be done in the end. As a racing team you always want to race and that’s what we wanted to do in Abu Dhabi.

“There are various scenarios for the team, but to race it is very important to have a car ready for 2015, and that is what potential investors are interested in. They are interested in ensuring that work on the 2015 programme can be resumed quickly. Don’t count us out yet.”

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Raikkonen looking forward to working with pal Vettel

Kimi Raikkonen says he’s looking forward to having Sebastian Vettel as a team mate next year, and acknowledges that he knows the German better than any of the other current drivers.

The pair have often shared a private jet while travelling between races.

“Time will tell, obviously,” said Raikkonen today. “I think it’s nice to be with him in the same team. The main thing is to get the team, Ferrari, in the position where we should be – at the front. Obviously on the way we’ll try to beat each other all the time. I think we can have fun and things can go in a good way.

“Obviously I haven’t worked with him before, in the same team. I know him best out of any of the guys. Our relationship has always been very straightforward, so I don’t expect any changes on that side. I expect to be normal, let’s say, and good, and hopefully we can get the team where we should be.”

Regarding the prospects of Ferrari making that step he said: “I’m sure we can, but is it good enough? Time will tell. I trust 100% the people that are designing the car, working on it, all the guys. So we know it’s going to be much better, it depends a lot what the other people will find and do. Is it good enough, we’ll see next year.”

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Stevens confirmed at Caterham as FIA approves superlicence

Will Stevens will race for Caterham alongside Kamui Kobayashi this weekend after his superlicence application was approved by the FIA at the last minute.

The team made the announcement just 10 minutes before the official FIA deadline for nominating drivers for the weekend. Stevens tested at Silverstone on both 2013 and 2014, logging 1100kms.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be getting this opportunity and am very grateful to everyone involved at Caterham F1 Team for giving it to me,” said Stevens. “I feel ready for the challenge of my F1 debut and look forward to working as part of the Team in a race environment after all the work we’ve done together previously in the tests I’ve completed and back at Leafield in the sim. Hopefully this will be something we will be able to carry through to the 2015 season together.”

“We know Will very well through his involvement in the Caterham Racing Academy,” said Gianluca Pisanello, Caterham F1 Team Head of Engineering Operations. “And more importantly he has done a vast amount of time in our simulator, completing around 10,000km, which has built his experience both of this year’s car and with the engineering team that are going to Abu Dhabi.

“In addition, his 2014 test at Silverstone in our current car, where he completed over 500kms, was very successful and his race pace was very good. As a result, he was one of our best candidates for this race weekend and we are delighted to have secured his services for our return to the F1 grid. We in fact signed Will last week but have had to wait for confirmation of his Super licence before making our announcement.”

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Ferrari is the “dream of a lifetime,” says Vettel

Ferrari has finally confirmed that Sebastian Vettel will partner Kimi Raikkonen in 2015, adding that the German has a three-year deal.

Vettel made it clear that he is fulfilling a dream by signing for the Scuderia.

“Scuderia Ferrari has decided to put its faith in the youngest multiple champion in the history of Formula 1,” said Marco Mattiacci. “In Formula 1 terms, Sebastian Vettel is a unique combination of youthfulness and experience and he brings with him that sense of team spirit which will prove invaluable when, together with Kimi, they tackle the challenges awaiting us, as we aim to be front runners again as soon as possible.

“With Sebastian, we all share a thirst for victory as well as enthusiasm, a strong work ethic and tenacity; key elements for all the Scuderia members to write a new chapter in the history of Ferrari.”

Vettel commented: “The next stage of my Formula 1 career will be spent with Scuderia Ferrari and for me that means the dream of a lifetime has come true. When I was a kid, Michael Schumacher in the red car was my greatest idol and now it’s an incredible honour to finally get the chance to drive a Ferrari. I already got a small taste of what the Ferrari spirit means, when I took my first win at Monza in 2008, with an engine from the Prancing Horse built in Maranello.

“The Scuderia has a great tradition in this sport and I am extremely motivated to help the team get back to the top. I will put my heart and soul into making it happen.”

The team made the announcement immediately after issuing a statement about the departure of Fernando Alonso.

Alonso said today that he first told the team of his intentions in September. Meanwhile confirmation of his expected move to McLaren won’t be confirmed until after December 1.

“In the Scuderia Ferrari roll of honour of great drivers, Fernando Alonso will always occupy a special place,” said Mattiacci. “We offer him our heartfelt thanks for what has been an extraordinary adventure with the Scuderia, when in the past five years, he twice came so close to winning the world championship. I am sure that a great driver like Fernando will always hold the Prancing Horse dear to his heart and I also expect the Ferrari fans will continue to hold him in high regard in his future endeavours.”

“Today is not an easy one for me,” said Alonso. “Because even if I always look to the future with great enthusiasm and determination, at the end of this season my journey as a Ferrari driver will come to an end. It was a difficult decision to take, but a carefully considered one and from start to finish, my love for Ferrari was a prime consideration. I have always been lucky enough to make my own decisions about my future and I have that possibility now too. I must thank the team for that, as it understood my position.

“I leave Scuderia Ferrari after five years, during which I reached my very best level professionally, tackling major challenges that pushed me to find new limits. I also proved to be a true team-player, putting the interests of the Scuderia before my own. When I had to take important decisions about my future, I did so with Ferrari in my heart, driven by my love for the team. I am very proud of what we have achieved together.

“Thanks to the efforts of the men and women of Maranello, on three occasions we came second in the Formula 1 World Championship, two of them fighting for the title right up to and including the final race, running in a championship winning position for many laps. Without a shadow of a doubt, these five years produced some of the best moments of my career and I also feel that, in leaving the team, it is family rather than friends I am leaving behind. Now I look to the future with great enthusiasm, knowing that part of my heart will always belong to the Prancing Horse. I want to thank each and everyone of the team for the trust they showed in me.”

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