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Massa and Bottas upbeat as Williams shows FW37

The Williams FW37 doesn't have the prettiest nose...

The Williams FW37 doesn’t have the prettiest nose…

The Williams FW37 was unveiled in Jerez this morning shortly before testing got underway.

The team had released images some time ago, but this was the first opportunity to see the car.

“The momentum we carry from last year has been very encouraging,” said Felipe Massa. “The team has changed so much from 12 months ago and it is clear to see everyone is heading in a good direction. The development rate of the FW36 was one of the most exciting elements to the car, the team worked exceptionally hard throughout the year to make sure that we had a faster car at each race, and I look forward to a similarly impressive car this year. I am excited to be continuing to work with Valtteri, a driver with so much talent who has so much to offer both the team and me as his team mate.”

“Coming into a season after third position in the Constructors’ Championship carries the weight of a lot of expectation,”said Valterri Bottas. “Other teams and our fans are expecting a performance like last year, and all the personnel at Williams have been working tirelessly to make sure this is not only achievable but the benchmark for improvement. For much of last year we had the second fastest car, and this year we plan to take every opportunity to challenge at the front. After my first podium in 2014 I hope to continue developing as a driver as I aim for my first win. I look forward to working closely with Felipe again this year as we strengthen our relationship to extract the most from the car.”

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Palmer earns third driver job at Lotus

Jolyon Palmer will run in FP1 sessions with Lotus this year

Jolyon Palmer will run in FP1 sessions with Lotus this year

Lotus has confirmed that Jolyon Palmer will be its third driver in 2015, and the GP2 champion will also run in a “significant number” of FP1 sessions.

Palmer made his F1 test debut with Force India in Abu Dhabi in November, and thus had looked well set to land a role with the Silverstone-based team.

Team principal Gerard Lopez said: “Jolyon is a fantastic talent and a very credible driver to fulfil the role of Third Driver at Lotus F1 Team. Romain and Pastor are both GP2 Series Champions, so we know what a fantastic proving ground GP2 provides. For Jolyon to have enjoyed such a successful season as he took his title last year shows his superb potential for the future. We are looking forward to seeing him in team colours and behind the wheel of our 2015 car, the E23 Hybrid, which represents an exciting new era for Lotus F1 Team.”

Palmer added: “My goal has been to become a race driver in a competitive F1 team for 2016 and Lotus F1 Team is a great opportunity for me, particularly with Mercedes engines now. To be able to learn with a major F1 team by working closely with them in every area and getting a lot of mileage in the car is the best way possible, as Valtteri Bottas proved. I am delighted to be joining Lotus F1 Team at such an exciting time and my objective is to earn a long term future with them.”

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A final chance for Marussia as auction is cancelled

Marussia could yet be saved before the start of the season after this week’s auction of the team’s remaining assets was cancelled.

A team source told this writer last month that an earlier auction, which took place before Christmas, would not seriously compromise the chances of saving the team. However, the second included the key equipment required to go racing, and thus represented a deadline.

The team remains in administration and still owes a huge amount of money, including over £16m to power unit supplier Ferrari.

A statement from adminstrators FRP Advisory said: “A planned auction of the Company’s remaining assets due to commence on Wednesday 21 January 2015 has been halted to allow for discussions to continue with a third party. Given the confidential nature of the negotiations underway we are unable to provide further details.”

Team principal John Booth told the BBC today that talks were “at a fairly advanced stage with a new investor – a credible investor. He added that “postponing the auction gives us a bit more time to explore it.”

Like Caterham if Marussia can be saved the team is expected to get dispensation from the FIA to use its 2014 cars, despite a rule change that affects the nose.

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Mercedes to show new W06 on first day of Jerez test

The new Mercedes W06 Hybrid will be unveiled at Jerez immediately before official testing commences on February 1.

Mercedes has a tradition of showing its new cars in the flesh at the last minute, rather than online, as other teams often do.

Nico Rosberg will drive on the first and third days of the test, with Lewis Hamilton in action on the second and fourth days.

“The workload this winter has been as great as ever,” said Mercedes motor sport boss Toto Wolff. “Where last year we were preparing for an all-new formula of racing, we are now faced with the big challenge of making the next step in our development. We know that we went into the winter with a target on our backs for the other teams – and we are certain that our rivals will be competitive from the opening race in Melbourne. So we have to focus on every detail if we want to build any advantage this year and that is what we have done.

“This is an exciting time of year as our collective efforts all come together in the new car. Everybody in Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart has put a great amount of effort into creating the latest Silver Arrow and I thank them for their efforts so far. We are excited to see how the car performs when it begins running.”

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Ecclestone says Hockenheim will host 2015 German GP

Bernie Ecclestone says that this year’s German GP will take place at Hockenheim, rather than at the Nurburgring.

Although the FIA did not specify a venue in the F1 calendar this year should have been the turn of the Nurburgring, which last hosted the race in 2013. However Ecclestone has not concluded a deal with the track, which has changed ownership amid serious financial problems.

It’s going to be at Hockenheim, we’re in the middle of doing something with them,” he told Reuters. “It can’t be Nurburgring because there’s nobody there. We’ve got a contract in place [with Hockenheim], we just have to amend the years of the contract. It was alternating with Nurburgring so we’ll just take that out. Providing the contract goes through as we expect it to, we’ll be in good shape.”

Ecclestone confirmed that he’d tried to acquire the Nurburgring.

We wanted to buy the Nurburgring, we made an offer and somebody topped us with a few dollars and bought it. And then they couldn’t pay and it went on sale again. I said I’d be interested and then they found somebody else. So I don’t know what’s happening.”

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Tilke upbeat on Mexico City circuit revamp

Track designer Hermann Tilke is confident that his revisions to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City will prove to be successful and will be good for spectators.

The track, which last hosted an F1 race in 1992, is being substantially rebuilt for the return of the GP on November 1. However, Tilke says he has tried to retain its character.

“There will be a new pit and paddock,” he told this writer. “But we don’t have so much space. And then after the straight we did some new corners, because this is a highlight for the spectators. We’re moving the ‘snake’, the very fast corners, to the inside. We’re almost copying it, because it was successful, but we had no safety, no run-off. And there is a big concert stadium, and we’ll lead the cars through the stadium. Of course it’s slow, but it’s for the spectators, and there will be action there.”

Meanwhile Tilke countered criticism of the layout of the Baku street track in Azerbaijan, which will join the F1 calendar in 2016. The German insists that the real circuit will be much more exciting than the map issued a few months ago might suggest, due to elevation changes and so on.

“You have to see it in three dimensions, you cannot see in those pictures. It goes really uphill to the old city, it follows the city wall from the 1200s, and it will be really exciting. It’s one hundred per cent a temporary circuit, all existing roads. We’ll refurbish some of them, but not all.

“It’s a very fast track. It’s an absolutely different challenge, and the track is different from every city track in the world. It will be different from Monaco, different from Singapore, it will be completely outstanding.”

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Standing restarts and double points officially canned by FIA

The FIA World Motor Sport Council met in Doha, Qatar today and ratified various rule changes that emerged from the recent meeting of the F1 Commission.

As expected double points are gone and the plan for standing restarts after safety cars has been abandoned. The virtual safety car, trialled in practice sessions at the end of the season, has been given the go-ahead.

As was the case in Suzuka this year when a race is suspended the cars will come into the pit lane rather than stop on the grid, which will make it less time consuming.

When lapped cars are released after a safety car period race control will not wait for them to rejoin the back of the pack, which should speed up resumptions.

Grid penalties for taking extra power unit elements will no longer be carried over to the next race, but any positions not used up will be turned into penalties at that event, as happened with Romain Grosjean in Abu Dhabi.

The F1 super licence rules have been adjusted for 2016 to include a minimum age of 18, while Jean Todt also confirmed that the next meeting of the F1 Strategy Group will address costs as well as the bigger picture of improving the show/

The full list of decisions is as follows:

Points
Points for both titles will no longer be doubled for the final Event of the Championship.

Standing Restarts
After consultation with the Teams who raised a number of safety concerns, Articles 42.7 and 42.8 on standing restarts have been rescinded.

Virtual Safety Car (VSC)
Following tests of the VSC system at the final Events of 2014, the introduction of the system has been approved for 2015. The VSC procedure may be initiated to neutralise a race upon the order of the clerk of the course. It will normally be used when double waved yellow flags are needed on any section of track and competitors or officials may be in danger, but the circumstances are not such as to warrant use of the safety car itself. The full text of the article is available in Annex I.

Suspending a race
When a race is suspended, the pit exit will be closed and all cars must now proceed slowly into the pit lane, not the starting grid. The first car to arrive in the pit lane should proceed directly to the pit exit staying in the fast lane, all the other cars should form up in a line behind the first car.
Team personnel or equipment on grid
If any team personnel or team equipment remain on the grid after the 15 second signal has been shown the driver of the car concerned must start the race from the pit lane. A ten second stop-and-go penalty will be imposed on any driver who fails to do this.

Power Unit Penalties
The replacement of a complete power unit will no longer result in a penalty, instead as specified in the current regulations, penalties will be applied cumulatively for individual components of the power unit.
If a grid place penalty is imposed, and the driver’s grid position is such that the full penalty cannot be applied, the remainder of the penalty will be applied in the form of a time penalty during the race (not at the next race as was previously the case) according to the following scale:

1 to 5 grid places untaken: A penalty under Article 16.3(a) will be applied.
6 to 10 grid places untaken: A penalty under Article 16.3(b) will be applied.
11 to 20 grid places untaken: A penalty under Article 16.3(c) will be applied.
More than 20 grid places untaken: A penalty under Article 16.3(d) will be applied.
Time Penalties

In addition to the existing five-second penalty (Article 16.3a), a new ten-second penalty (Article 16.3b) will also be introduced, to be applied in the same manner.

Unsafe Release

If a car is deemed to have been released in an unsafe condition during a race a ten second stop-and-go penalty will be imposed on the driver concerned. An additional penalty will be imposed on any driver who, in the opinion of the stewards, continues to drive a car knowing it to have been released in an unsafe condition.
Qualifying Procedure

The qualifying procedure was clarified: for cases when 24 cars are eligible seven will be excluded after Q1 and Q2, if 22 cars are eligible six cars will be excluded after Q1 and Q2, and so on if fewer cars are eligible.
Safety Car: lapped cars

Once the last lapped car has passed the leader the safety car will return to the pits at the end of the following lap, the race director will no longer have to wait for all the lapped cars to reach the back of the pack behind the safety car.

2015 F1 TECHNICAL REGULATIONS

– The weight of the car, without fuel, must not be less than 702kg at all times during the Event (up from 701kg).
– Changes have been made to the rules governing Wind Tunnel Testing and with regard to the aerodynamic reporting periods for 2015 and 2016. 
– Any suspension system fitted to the front wheels must be so arranged that its response results only from changes in load applied to the front wheels.
– Any suspension system fitted to the rear wheels must be so arranged that its response results only from changes in load applied to the rear wheels.
– The Zylon anti-intrusion panels on both sides of the survival cell have been extended upwards to the rim of the cockpit and alongside the pilot’s head.

NEXT MEETING OF THE STRATEGY GROUP

The FIA President confirmed that the next meeting of the Strategy Group would take place on 18 December, and would focus reducing costs, improving the show, making cars quicker and more difficult to drive, and reviewing the technical and sporting regulations, with the aim of simplifying the rules where possible.

ACCIDENT PANEL

A review of all the evidence and other information about the events leading up to Jules Bianchi’s accident at the Japanese Grand Prix 5 October 2014, Suzuka, has been carried out by the 10-man Accident Panel, appointed by the FIA and chaired by Safety Commission President Peter Wright. The Panel has issued a 396-page report on their findings with recommendations for improvements, many relevant to all of motor sport. This has been presented to the FIA World Motor Sport Council, which accepted the findings and gave a mandate to implement the full recommendations and conclusions of the report. The summary issued by the panel can be found on fia.com.

CRITERIA FOR THE ISSUING OF SUPER LICENCES

A proposal on the conditions of attribution of the Super Licence was approved for 2016, on the basis of the following criteria:
.
1- Safety criteria
The following changes have been made compared to the current regulations:
– There is a valid driving licence requirement.
– There is a minimum age requirement (18yo).
– There is a verification of knowledge of the F1 Sporting Regulations/ISC rules.
2- Experience criteria
With the following changes compared to the current regulations:
– There is the 300km in F1 TCC or TPC_ as a minimum requirement.
– There is a 2 years minimum running in minor Formulas.
3- Performance criteria
With the following changes compared to the current regulations:
– There is a point system requirement, based on the driver results in previous Formulas.

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