Nielsen joins Williams in sporting manager role

Williams has announced the appointment of former Scuderia Toro Rosso man Steve Nielsen as its new sporting manager, filling in another pieces in the puzzle as the team’s rebuilding process continues.

Nielsen, whose last day with the Italian team was on Friday, has previously worked for Tyrrell, Benetton/Renault, and Arrows. He is well known to Williams technical boss Pat Symonds.

“In this role I will be able to help ensure that our operations at the race track are maintaining the highest standards,” said Nielsen, “and that we are maximising our performance at the race track from a sporting perspective. Williams has a very talented team of people and I’m looking forward to working with them.”

Symonds added; “Steve brings a wealth of experience of the sporting side of Formula One and will help us as a team as we aim to climb further up the Championship table. He has won World Championships in the past and knows what needs to be done on a sporting level for Williams to do this again. We have a talented and ever improving race team and with Steve on board we are well placed to make further operational gains next season.”

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Dennis planning to acquire majority stake in McLaren

Ron Dennis is planning to increase his shareholding in the McLaren Group so that he will have a majority stake.

Dennis currently owns 25% of the company, with 25% in the hands of TAG and the remaining 50% owned by Bahrain’s Mumtalakat.

It’s understood that as early as next year TAG and Mumtalakat will sell a chunk of their stock to Dennis, although both will retain a stake in the company, and no deal has been finalised as yet.

“No transaction has taken place, but the shareholders have had discussions on how to best facilitate and enhance the future growth of the McLaren Group,” said a McLaren spokesman.

“When and if a transaction takes place, it is not envisioned that the current shareholders will exit McLaren completely, and announcements would be made at the appropriate time.”

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More GP2 and McLaren test role for Vandoorne

McLaren has confirmed that Stoffel Vandoorne will have a formal role with the team in addition to tackling the GP2 championship for the second time.

The Belgian won four GP2 races in his rookie year with ART and drove the McLaren-Honda test car in Abu Dhabi, although it barely ran.

“Stoffel is McLaren-Honda’s Test & Development Driver,” said a team spokesman. Kevin is McLaren-Honda’s Test, Reserve & Third Driver. “Both of them were present at today’s McLaren-Honda press conference and both of them are and will continue to be integral members of the McLaren-Honda family.

“In addition, Stoffel’s prime aim next season will be to win the GP2 Championship, which objective we at McLaren-Honda will be doing our utmost to assist.”

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Fernando Alonso on McLaren: “There is a very solid future…”

Fernando Alonso says he received some “tempting” offers over the past 12 months before committing to rejoin McLaren in 2015.

“I am joining this project with enormous enthusiasm and determination, knowing that it may require some time to achieve the results we are aiming for, which is no problem for me,” he said. “Over the past year I have received several offers, some of them really tempting, given the current performance of some of the teams that showed interest. But, more than a year ago, McLaren-Honda contacted me and asked me to take part, in a very active way, in the return of their partnership – a partnership that dominated the Formula 1 scene for so long.

“McLaren-Honda’s repeated and open desire, perseverance and determination in making it possible for me to join their exciting renewed partnership, have been some of the main factors that made me take this decision, not forgetting the most important factor of all: we share a common objective and expectations, and there is a very solid future, with confidence, ahead.”

Alonso is happy with what he’s seen of the new partnership, and confirmed that he has been to visit Honda in Japan.

“I have had in-depth discussions with all the senior people at both McLaren and Honda, I have viewed their fantastic facilities in both the UK and Japan, and it is clear to me that, together, McLaren and Honda are in the process of beginning what is sure to be a long and successful partnership. And I intend to give 100% effort to help make it exactly that.

“I want to thank the persistence of those who have fought so hard for this to come true. I will do everything in my power to deliver for everyone and for our team, based on a formula that has always worked for me: effort, sacrifice, perseverance and faith.

“We have time, we have hopes and we have the necessary resources. Let the legend return: that is our challenge.”
He also made it clear that the return of the McLaren-Honda name brings with it a little magic: “I have never hidden my deep admiration for Ayrton Senna, my favourite driver, my idol on track, my reference.

“I still remember, as a kid, the posters in my wardrobe, my toy cars in which I dreamed I would one day emulate Ayrton, and the kart that my father built for my older sister, and that I ended up falling in love with. That kart had the livery of one of the most legendary partnerships in the history of Formula 1, McLaren-Honda, the car that Ayrton drove, the same partnership to which I am now honoured to join, to take part in the next Formula 1 world championship.”

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Jenson Button: “I am absolutely raring to go…”

Jenson Button is full of optimism for the 2015 season after finally being confirmed at McLaren, alongside Fernando Alonso.

Ron Dennis has revealed that the deal was only signed last night, and surprisingly perhaps it lasts for two years – which means there will be no chance to slot on in either Kevin Magnussen or Stoffel Vandoorne in 2016.

“Like Fernando, I am certain that McLaren and Honda will achieve great things together,” said Button. “And I feel sure that, working together, all of us will pull incredibly hard to create a brilliantly effective winning team.

“I admired Ayrton Senna enormously, but, for me, it was the exploits of his McLaren-Honda team-mate Alain Prost that inspired me most as a boy. The way he stroked those beautifully brutal red-and-white cars to grand prix wins and world championships was to my mind poetry in motion, and I have tried to emulate his driving style ever since.

“Being a part of new-look McLaren-Honda is a wonderful opportunity for all of us, and I am very pleased to have been invited to do my bit. In fact, I am absolutely raring to go.

“I am also very glad that Kevin will remain part of the team. He is a very quick driver and a really nice guy.”

Button clearly has a lot of faith in McLaren’s new partner: “Looking forward, I know the Honda guys well, having driven Formula 1 cars powered by their engines from 2003 to 2008. I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for them, and promise to give 100% to make their partnership with McLaren a success.

“Last but far from least, I am very much looking forward to having a driver as fast and as experienced as Fernando as my team-mate. I am sure we will work extremely well together.”

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Alonso and Button finally confirmed at McLaren

McLaren has finally confirmed that Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button will be the team’s race drivers in 2015.

The news comes after weeks of speculation about whether Button or Kevin Magnussen would retain their race seats alongside the Spaniard.

Alonso and Button were team mates at Renault in 2002 when the former was reserve driver. He was promoted to a race seat for 2003, and Jenson moved to BAR.

Magnussen continues on the role of test and reserve driver and clearly still has the opportunity to bounce back to a race seat – although he faces strong competition from Stoffel Vandoorne.

Among those to have raced in F1, dropped into a test role and returned to have a successful career are Alonso, Mika Hakkinen and Felipe Massa.


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Sixty trophies stolen in raid on Red Bull factory

The Red Bull trophy cabinet reflects the team's extraordinary success

The Red Bull trophy cabinet reflects the team’s extraordinary success

Sixty trophies were stolen from Red Bull Racing’s factory in Milton Keynes in the early hours of Saturday morning, the team has confirmed.

A silver 4wd vehicle was driven through the front entrance and six men loaded the trophies into another dark coloured Mercedes before making their escape. Security staff who were on duty at the time were not hurt.

“We are obviously devastated by this serious factory break in, which saw offenders drive a vehicle through our front entrance and steal more than 60 trophies which took years and hard work to accumulate,” said Christian Horner. “The break-in caused significant damage and was very upsetting for our night officers who were on duty at the time. The offenders took items that not only did not belong to them, but which represented the efforts of a group of dedicated, hard-working individuals.

“Beyond the aggressive nature of this break-in, we are perplexed why anyone would take these trophies. The value to the team is of course extraordinarily high due to the sheer hard work and effort that went into winning each and every one. But their intrinsic value is low; they would be of little benefit to those outside of the team and, in addition to that, many of the trophies on display were replicas.

“The actions of these men mean it’s likely that we will have to make our site less accessible in the future, which will be unfair on the hundreds of fans that travel to visit our factory each year to see our trophies and our Formula One car. We would like to appeal to anyone who knows any information on the whereabouts of these trophies or the offenders involved to contact Thames Valley Police.”

A Thames Valley Police statement said: “Police were called at 1.30am today (6/12) to the Red Bull Racing factory where a group of around six men used a vehicle to drive through the front entrance to gain access to the premises.

“Once inside, they stole over 60 trophies belonging to the Red Bull Racing team. Night staff who were on the premises at the time were not physically harmed.

“Two cars were involved in the burglary. A silver 4×4 which was used to drive through the entrance and a further dark coloured, black or dark blue Mercedes estate car. Both are believed to have foreign number plates. There is no description of the offenders available at this time, although they are all believed to be men, wearing dark clothing.”


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