The Formula One Teams’ Association has officially folded, in a move that had been expected for some time.
A short statement said: “As of the 28th of February 2014 FOTA will be disbanded, as a result of its members’ having re-evaluated their requirements in the face of a changing political and commercial landscape in Formula 1.”
FOTA was formed in 2008 amid much fanfare, and was originally championed by Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo. Its key objectives were to to “promote the development of Formula One and enhance its worldwide image and reputation,” and “to represent, defend and promote the interests of its members.”
Recently the organisation had represented the interests of just seven teams, after the defections over the years of Ferrari, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Sauber. Its influence had diminished accordingly.
With chairman Martin Whitmarsh having given up his team principal role at McLaren FOTA lost further momentum.
The news means the end of the popular FOTA fans’ forums, which gave F1 enthusiasts a rare chance to have their voices heard.
Vitaly Petrov is the DTM’s first Russian driver
Vitaly Petrov will race for Mercedes in the DTM this year, the manufacturer has confirmed.
Petrov did some promotional driving in Moscow last year, and had his first test in Portimao last month.
“I’m aware that I’ve got a steep learning curve ahead of me, but I love a challenge and accept it gladly,” said Petrov. “At my first test in Portimão, I was able to make my first acquaintance with the team and get a feel for the car, which is very important for me in order to play to my strengths.”
Mercedes motor sport boss Toto Wolff said: “Vitaly had a successful test in our DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupe at Portimão and I’m sure that he will be valuable member of our team. Vitaly is a great sportsman and representative of his country, who has already demonstrated his ability by achieving, among other things, a podium finish in Formula 1. He will also be a great asset for Mercedes-Benz, especially in the Russian market. I am looking forward to see how things will develop within DTM.”
The FIA is due to make a decision on Friday over whether it will grant a 2015 F1 entry to Gene Haas or the Romanian project fronted by Colin Kolles.
The FIA announced a “call for expression of interest” on December 12, and noted that a decision would be made on February 28 – although it remains to be seen whether that schedule still holds, or if so when the result will be communicated to the world at large.
Haas is tied to Ferrari, and will be able to take advantage of the fact that the FIA is relaxing the rules on sharing technology between teams next season. In effect it means that the NASCAR team co-owner can buy almost everything he needs from Maranello. However, he has to own the IP of his chassis and bodywork.
As revealed here some time ago, the Romanian project is believed to involve state funded backing and is in theory closer to being realised than its American rival. Lotus LMP1/LMP2 constructor Kolles, who ran HRT from his base near Munich, can provide existing race team and manufacturing facilities.
The two candidates paid a $130,000 fee and went through a vetting process which culminated in meetings with key FIA figures on Tuesday of this week. It’s believed that Jean Todt, who incidentally celebrated his birthday on Tuesday, was not directly involved with the meetings.
The original FIA announcement gives some idea of what was discussed: “All applicants will be expected to undergo thorough due diligence. By way of indication only, the applicable selection criteria will include: (a) the technical ability and resources of the team; (b) the ability of the team to raise and maintain sufficient funding to allow participation in the Championship at a competitive level; (c) the team’s experience and human resources; (d) the FIA’s assessment of the value that the candidate may bring to the Championship as a whole.”
The FIA also noted that if no suitable candidate was found no entry would be awarded.
Williams has finally confirmed the arrival of Felipe Massa’s long time Ferrari race engineer, Rob Smedley.
He will take up the newly created role of Head of Vehicle Performance.
Williams says that he will “strengthen the trackside team whilst also supporting the development work back at the factory to help bring more performance to the car throughout the season.”
Andrew Murdoch will be engineer to Felipe Massa, and Jonathan Eddolls continues with Valtteri Bottas. Meanwhile Richard Lockwood joins from Marussia as Head of Race Strategy. He will work with strategist Randeep Singh.
“Williams is undergoing change and these new appointments reflect how high our ambitions are,” said Pat Symonds. “We have a number of senior people joining us to assist us in the pursuit of those ambitions and I am extremely excited to welcome them on-board. 2014 gives us the biggest change to the technical regulations that I have seen in my career, and so it will be important to add further depth to the talent we already have here as we head into the new season.
“Williams has always prided itself on engineering excellence and this latest announcement is part of our continued goal to bring success back to the team.”
Jacques Villeneuve is set to return to the Indianapolis 500 19 years after he won the event.
The Canadian is expected to be announced this week in a third entry for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, alongside Simon Pagenaud and Mikhail Aleshin.
He raced in the then Champcar series in 1994 and 1995. He scored his maiden win at Elkhart Lake in his first season and went on to win both the title and the 500 the following year, before heading to F1 with Williams.
Villeneuve, who turns 43 in April, is also competing in rallycross this year.
Susie Wolff will run two FP1 sessions for Williams this season in her ongoing role as a development driver, the team has confirmed.
She’ll be the first female to take part in official track action on a Grand Prix weekend since Giovanna Amati tried to qualify for three races with Brabham in 1992.
Logic suggests that she will drive at Silverstone, where she made an impressive apperance in the Young Driver test last year.
“Susie has become a valued member of our driver line up,” said Pat Symonds. “And 2014 will see her take on more responsibilities as we seek to make a strong step forward in performance. Susie has demonstrated a natural talent for developing a car and providing strong feedback and these sort of characteristics will be key this season as teams seek to quickly understand and refine the radically overhauled 2014 cars.”
Wolff said: “’I'm grateful for the support and belief Williams continue to show in me and 2014 promises to be a very important milestone in my career. My responsibilities within the team have steadily increased as I have proved myself, culminating in the opportunity to test the car at Silverstone and conduct straight line aero tests last season. Competing in two FP1 sessions, alongside an additional full test day this season will be a big step and I am looking forward to the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the FW36 on a Grand Prix weekend. It’s a challenge that I will relish and it will be a great chance for me to continue assisting the team.”
Ferrari technical director James Allison says that the Italian team made good progress at the first Bahrain test.
Although Kimi Raikkonen had a crash right at the end of the last day the F14 T ran a lot of laps.
“We came to Sakhir aiming to work steadily through the huge list of actions that we must complete,” Allison told the Ferrari website. “We wanted to maximise track time, working methodically in order to be ready for Melbourne. I have to say that, with the exception of the morning of the third day, we did just that.
“We worked on learning how to get the best from the 2014 clutch and on tuning the new brake by wire system. We looked in detail at balancing the temperature of all the cooling fluids, a key part of this year’s rules, and we began gradually expanding the operating window of the new Energy Recovery System.”
Crucially the team was able to move on from systems checking to actually preparing for races.
“We have been able to start to open up our understanding of the handling characteristics of the car and to begin to learn what sort of set-up parameters the tyres respond to. Continuing with this work will be an important part of the programme over the last four days here in Bahrain.
“For the last four days, our programme will see us attempt to operate the car ever more closely to the way that it will run in a race, providing invaluable practice for the drivers and subjecting the car and all its systems to the full rigour that it will need to withstand throughout the season.”