Category Archives: F1 News

No offer from Renault, says Lotus F1 boss

Lotus F1 CEO Matthew Carter insists that Renault has not yet made a formal offer to acquire the team, despite suggestions in the paddock that a deal is almost done.

In recent months Renault talked to all the midfield teams about a possible takeover. However, the French company’s history with Enstone outfit makes Lotus an obvious choice, if the financial issues surrounding the team can be addressed.

Toro Rosso also remains a candidate, according to some sources, and it comes without the associated level of debt.

As CEO I know nothing of any offers, bids or anything that’s going on,” Carter told this writer. “I know that Renault are looking at their involvement in F1, but whether they get more involved or less involved, I don’t know. I think they’ve got issues they need to resolve with their engine at the moment, and they probably need to concentrate on that.

We know that they looked at the usual candidates. We probably are the best fit for them. But as I said there’s been no offers, no further interest. I think they need to concentrate on their engine at the moment.”

Carter says team owner Genii does not want to sell.

The shareholders have repeatedly told me that it’s not for sale. They wouldn’t want to sell it at this point. In terms of where we are as a team and as a business, we’re heading in the right direction. When I came in 18 months ago it was always a five-year plan to sort things out, sort the finances out. We put the Mercedes engine in, and it’s all about trying to move up the constructors’ table. I think if they did do something now I think they’d kick themselves that they didn’t see it through.”

One added complication is that Lotus is committed to Mercedes: “We’ve got a long term contract with Mercedes until 2020, from my point of view as the CEO I wouldn’t want to change that engine, so that’s where we are.”

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Mercedes not discussing engine deal with Red Bull, says Lauda

Niki Lauda has denied suggestions that Aston Martin could help Red Bull Racing secure a Mercedes engine supply for 2016.

Historically Red Bull and Mercedes do not work together, and hitherto any kind of relationship looked impossible. However, Autocar has suggested that Aston Martin – which is 5% owned by Mercedes – could broker a deal, and that the RBR cars would carry Aston branding.

Aston CEO Andy Palmer and director of marketing and communications Simon Sproule were previously involved in Infiniti’s sponsorship of RBR, and Palmer also contributed to road car co-operation deal between Renault/Nissan and Mercedes. There is also an engine and software supply relationship between Aston and Mercedes, while there are close links between David Richards and Christian Horner.

There’s not even a discussion,” Lauda told this writer. “No discussion at all. I haven’t heard anything from them and we never talked about it. I have breakfast every morning with Helmut [Marko] so I should know.

We never thought about it because we have four teams running our engines, so we don’t even have capacity.”

Asked if a fourth supply might be freed up if Lotus switches back to Renault next year he said: “Who knows? I’ve no idea. We have contracts with all of them. We cannot do more than what we have, and that’s it.”

Meanwhile Lauda acknowledged that there was personal animosity between Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz and Mercedes that made any co-operation unlikely.

It starts with Mateschitz, Mateschitz had, for whatever reason in the past, I don’t know what. I don’t know the reasons, to be honest.”

Meanwhile another Mercedes source joked: “They have been asking since February 2014 – they ring up every week! If you see how they’ve treated Renault they are not a good partner to have…”

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FIA to drop extra race penalties for untaken grid places

Drivers will henceforth no longer get extra race penalties for untaken power unit grid penalties, the F1 Strategy Group has decided.

For this season the rules changes so that untaken places can generate five and 10 second time penalties, drive through penalties and 10 second stop and go penalties for drivers who have in any case already been demoted to the back of the grid.

That has proved hugely unpopular with the public, so from now on the intention is that the severest penalty will be a back of the grid start.

There was some talk of the change being introduced for this weekend’s British GP, if it could be fast-tracked through. However FIA sources have confirmed that the change has to go through the correct procedures, so it won’t happen before Hungary.

“That’s a sensible outcome,” Christian Horner told this writer. “Theoretically I don’t see why it can’t be done for this weekend – it could be done on a fax vote for this weekend, if not, worst case is Hungary. I think generally it was a constructive meeting, some positive ideas coming out of it.”

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Lewis Hamilton: “It’s going to be a very hard weekend…”

Lewis Hamilton says he’s hoping to have a “real race” with team mate Nico Rosberg at Silverstone after they each suffered a problem in the last two British GPs.

Hamilton had a tyre failure in 2013, while last year Rosberg retired with a gearbox problem.

“It’s going to be a very hard weekend for sure,” said Hamilton today. “Nico’s going to be very quick. I can’t say who’s going to be our main competitor this weekend, it could be Williams, it could be Ferrari. I think this weekend is going to be down to getting a good qualifying, and really just extracting the most from it in the race.

“The last couple of years I’ve not really done spectacularly in qualifying, and one year it’s been difficult for Nico with a car issue and one year it’s been an issue with me. So I’m hoping we’ll have a race where we can actually just fight and have a real race.”

Hamilton said that he didn’t feel a particularly need to have to bounce back after Austria: “I feel really happy with my performance over the weekends, more so than perhaps in other years, where I’ve perhaps been unhappy with the performance at some point. The last couple of races I’ve had some ups and downs, the last one the start made a huge difference.

“The good thing is that from the mishaps, from things that happen, we study and analyse them and often fix them or make improvements to make sure they don’t happen again. And particularly after the last race Nico simulated what happened for me at the start in the car, and found a serious issue that could have affected us this weekend. That’s now been rectified and improved.”

Meanwhile Nico has invited Lewis to join the rest of the Mercedes team for a barbecue in the BRDC campsite tonight.

“Nico’s very kindly invited me as well. I’m staying next door to him as well. Free food is always the best thing!”

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Urgency for F1 improvements, says CVC boss Mackenzie

Donald Mackenzie, the chairman of F1’s key shareholder CVC, has said that there’s an urgent need to address the sport’s issue.

Mackenzie has been a regular sight at Grands Prix this year as discussions continue about how to improve the show. He was also present at the Strategy Group meeting on May 14th, where many ideas were bounced around.

“I think the sport is actually much better than people are writing,” he told this website. “But there is definitely some urgency to see some improvements made, to make it a more exciting sport. Bernie, the teams and the FIA are working on it, and I hope some of the improvements will come along soon.”

Mackenzie acknowledged that things like the multiple power unit grid penalties we saw in Austria are not popular with the public.

“We don’t like that either. It does seem unfair that the driver gets punished for a poor engine, or a mechanical failure. But that’s the FIA’s domain. I know that there’s goodwill everywhere to see if we can make it more interesting and exciting for the fans.

“I’m not sure that refuelling is one of the top priorities. I think we’re just trying to work out how to make the cars go faster. They need more fuel to go quicker, and someone said we might need to refuel, but it was never a strategy.”

Asked about the impact of Dietrich Mateschitz’s recent complaints Mackenzie said: “I think he’s obviously disappointed about where the team is. But he’s a good guy, and I’m sure they’re going to sort that team out, and he’ll be winning again. Red Bull need a better engine than they have, and it would be great if Renault could come up with it. Bernie’s trying to find them a better engine.”

Mackenzie reiterated that CVC has no interest in providing more money for the struggling midfield teams, but said that there was a bigger picture that could ultimately help them.

“There are contracts in place, and they agreed with the contracts when they signed them. It’s always annoying when people change their minds later. We want to help the small teams when we can. We can reduce costs, make the sport more attractive, and get more sponsorship. That would be a good thing.”

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Max Mosley: “I don’t really see Bernie’s role changing…”

Former FIA President Max Mosley believes that Bernie Ecclestone is likely to stay on and run continue to run F1 even if the sport is sold on by CVC.

US firm RSE Ventures has been linked with a joint bid with Qatar to buy CVC’s 35% shareholding.

“I think it’s still very early days for a possible takeover,” Mosley said in a BBC radio interview today. “Because before they actually move they will do due diligence, and that will take some little time. A lot will then come out about the current state of the sport, which may or may not encourage them.

“But I think whatever happens, if it is taken over, I don’t really see Bernie’s role changing – unless and until he wants it to change. Because he’s the person who’s managed to sell it everywhere. I’m sure CVC has had thoughts about an 84-year-old chief executive. The fact is that there’s nobody else that does the job as well. That’s my gut feeling.”

Asked about Ecclestone’s survival at the top of the sport he said: “I think the thing is he’s pretty amazing, the way he keeps going. Most of us, when we get to a certain age – and I’m quite a big younger than him but still old – you get tired. I said to him the other day, don’t you feel tired in the afternoon? And he said then the phone calls come in and the emails come in, and the adrenalin goes. I think the fact is that he’s really interested in what he does and does it very well. Age then tends to be flexible.”

Meanwhile Mosley said that the high spending by the big teams was F1’s major problem at the moment.

“I think there have been a few strategic errors, but the fundamental thing is because it’s become so expensive, and you’re allowed to spend as much money as you can get your hands on, then you have two or three teams at the top who spend a vast amount of money, then you have a succession of teams, like a tail end, who’ve got much less money. So they can’t compete.

“And that means then that the grid is relatively uncompetitive, and that of course interferes with the show. The key move would be to make the small teams competitive, and there are one or two ways of doing that. If Bernie and the FIA get together, they can overrule the teams. Put crudely that’s how it is.”

Mosley also reiterated his suggestion that teams spending less money should have more technical freedom.

“The way to solve the problem is to say to the small teams you can have more technical freedom on condition that you work within a cost cap. So then they for example would be allowed to have a moveable front wing. There are a thousand things that they could do to make their cars competitive with the very expensive cars at the front, but on a much smaller budget. The expensive cars at the front would say, ‘I can’t stand for that, I can’t get overtaken by one of the small teams,’ to which the answer is you could operate under the same regime should you choose to do so.

“Fundamentally the problem is soluble, but it needs a fairly determined attack on the current structure.”

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Button joins Alonso, Ricciardo and Kvyat on grid penalties

Jenson Button has been handed 25 places of grid penalties in Austria after changing engine components overnight.

Button became the first driver to take a sixth power unit element in 2015 when he went to his sixth turbo, and his sixth MGU-H. The first change earns him 10 places, and the second another five. In addition he has gone to his fifth V6 and fifth MGU-K, which are worth five places each, making for a total of 25.

The FIA has confirmed that it was informed last Tuesday that the first three changes would happen in Austria, but the MGU-K was added to the job list only on Friday night.

Fernando Alonso already had 20 places of engine grid penalties, but he has picked up another five today after a gearbox failure in FP3 necessitated a change. Both McLaren drivers look set to face a drive through or more likely a 10s stop and go in the race because they won’t be able to use up the grid penalties.

Meanwhile Daniil Kvyat has officially joined RBR team mate Daniel Ricciardo on a 10 place penalty after taking a new V6 overnight.

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