Christian Horner: Red Bull waiting for answers from Renault on 2016

Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner insists that he is still waiting to find out what Renault’s plans are for 2016 and beyond, despite strong suggestions that RBR has already made the first move to end its relationship with the French manufacturer.

Paddock sources have indicated that Red Bull has sent a formal notice of termination to Renault, a move that would seem to indicate that the management is confident that it already has an alternative deal lined up with Mercedes.

The issue is further complicated by the necessity to sort out an alternative supply for Toro Rosso as well.

“All I can tell you is that we’ve got a contract with Renault that goes to the conclusion of 2016, and that’s our situation,” said Horner today. “We’re waiting to hear what Renault’s plans and commitments are longer term, and I guess once we understand that then we’ll be able to make decisions accordingly regarding our future.”

Horner would not elaborate on suggestions that Renault has not met performance clauses in its contract with RBR, and that gives the team a way to get out of the deal.

“The contents of any agreement between the parties are confidential, but as is standard in any competitive contract, or supply contract, there’s obligation from both sides. Those obligations are quite clear between the two parties.”

He insisted that the potential status of Lotus as a works team, when RBR has previously been announced in that role, was not necessarily the key issue.

“Not really. We just want to know what Renault’s commitment is. Whatever they do, they need to have a competitive engine, unless they stop. For us, we just want to understand what the position of Renault is. We’ve enjoyed some very competitive years with Renault, we’ve won eight World Championships together, 50 Grands Prix, and let’s see what the future holds.

“Renault had four teams last year. Lotus left because they didn’t want to be with Renault, and the other team went bust. So we ended up as two teams by default. Renault have run with four teams previously, so the bottom line is the product has got to be competitive, whether it’s one two or four teams.”

Horner acknowledged that the team needs to know sooner rather than later what power unit it will be running next year.

“Of course an engine is an integral part of the car, and as the concept is being born you want the engine to be a part of that. You also have situations like Ross Brawn had in 2009, when he probably didn’t find out until November or December what engine he was going to have for that season. And then of course compromises inevitably have to be made.

“It’s not something that we’ve given a huge amount of thought to at the moment, because we do have an agreement with Renault until the end of next year, and our assumption at the moment is that we will have a Renault engine in the car next year.”

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Pirelli officially confirms that external source damaged Rosberg tyre

Pirelli has now issued a formal statement confirming the company’s belief that an external cut caused Nico Rosberg’s tyre failure in FP2.

Pirelli examined other tyres used on Friday, and also inspected the track in search for a possible cause of a cut. Its conclusions are as follows:

“There are no signs of structural integrity issue of the tyre, neither on other tyres used by Mercedes nor on tyres used on other vehicles.

“Video footage shows a tyre problem on Rosberg’s car which is consistent with an external cut into the tyre structure.

“Quality data check on other tyres has shown no anomalies.”

Meanwhile Paul Hembery added: “We have conducted a thorough investigation to find out exactly what happened with Nico’s tyre. This investigation now excludes any structural integrity issues. Based on the information and data available an external source of damage is the conclusion made.”

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Phil Kerr 1934-2015

Phil Kerr, a key player in the early days of both the Brabham and McLaren F1 teams, has passed away in his native New Zealand.

Kerr first met Bruce McLaren at a hillclimb when he was 17 and the future F1 star was 15, and they were both runnng Ausin Seven Specials. Later Kerr studied business and accountancy, and initially worked for the New Zealand Forest Service before moving into engineering.

He combined his own racing activities with working behind the scenes of the sport, joining the board of the New Zealand International Grand Prix Association at an early age. He was also secretary of the Auckland Car Club. As a driver he was good enough to be shortlisted for the ‘Driver to Europe’ award – which was eventually won by his friend McLaren.

It was in 1959 that McLaren recommended Kerr to his Cooper team mate Jack Brabham, who was starting his own organisation. Kerr duly travelled to the UK and helped to set up and run Jack’s Chessington facility. Later he was instrumental in getting a young Denny Hulme into Brabham, and he played a key role in the successful 1966 and 1967 World Championship campaigns.

Kerr felt that he’d achieved all he could at Brabham, and looking for a new challenge he joined Hulme in a move to McLaren in 1968. He became joint managing director, and along with Teddy Mayer he helped to keep the team going after Bruce’s death in 1970. He left the team after running Mike Hailwood’s Yardley-backed car as a satellite operation in 1974.

He subsequently returned to New Zealand to develop his business interests, using the McLaren Group name.

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Rosberg tyre not at fault, says Pirelli

Pirelli believes that Nico Rosberg’s spectacular tyre failure in FP2 at Spa resulted from a cut caused by an external source, and was not due any fault in the tyre itself.

Rosberg was lucky to avoid contact with the barriers after the high-speed failure.

Investigations continued through the night, and the company’s engineers plan to check the track to see if they can identify a kerb or other potential cause of a cut. Pirelli has checked other tyres that were used on Friday, and has not found any indication of further problems.

“We have no evidence of any weakness in the tyre or its structure,” a Pirelli spokesman told this writer. “And we very much think that everything came from a cut coming from an external source. It’s nearly impossible to find from where exactly. We also inspecting the whole track, as has been done some times in the past, to see if there is any kerb or any metal part, or so on.

“We didn’t have any indication either before or during FP2 of something strange. We want to have a final result by tomorrow morning, and we’ll be all night working. But there is no sign of fatigue of the tyre or any special stress or special weakness.”

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FIA warned teams to respect Pirelli parameters before Rosberg failure

The spectacular tyre failure for Nico Rosberg in FP2 at Spa has put the spotlight firmly on Pirelli, and the incident came shortly after the FIA warned F1 teams that there will be strict checks to ensure that parameters set by Pirelli are being respected.

Charlie Whiting sent out a Technical Directive after today’s FP1 session in which he underlined that the checks were related to safety.

While there is no suggestion that Rosberg’s Mercedes was running outside any of the prescribed parameters the timing of the TD appeared to imply that Pirelli had faced some concerns after this morning’s FP1 session. There has been controversy at Spa in past years, notably related to cambers.

However, a Pirelli spokesman told this writer that the TD was a result of a routine meeting yesterday, and that nothing untoward was spotted in FP1 today. It’s understood that what was in effect a reminder to follow Pirelli guidelines was a response to the FIA noting some unusually high tyre blanket temperatures in Hungary. Today’s note was a copy of one issued in Budapest in 2013. 

The TD said: “Once again we have been asked by Pirelli, for reasons of safety, to ensure that all tyres are used as laid out in ’15R11SPA Preview,’ circulated to all teams on 28 July, checks on the following parameters will made randomly.”

Whiting went on to clarify that the parameters that will be checked were minimum starting pressure front and rear, maximum negative EOS camber front and rear, left to right swapping of the tyres both front and rear (which was an issue a couple of seasons ago), and respect of the tyre blanket strategies.

He added that the checks would also be carried out at future events, and until further notice.

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New contract won’t change my approach, says Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen says that this week’s confirmation that he will stay at Ferrari won’t change his approach.

In recent months the Finn has had to deal with endless speculation about his future in the Maranello team, while the management made it clear that he had to keep getting the job done.

It doesn’t change anything,” he said today. “I mean we still try to do the same as every other race. So, that contract thing, it’s not going to change our approach for the weekend or the end result. Hopefully the end result will be good but no, we will do the same things as in all the other races. So, hopefully we can have a good weekend, no problems and see where we end up.”

Regarding his longer-term aims he said: “Well, obviously it is the same as every year – we want to do as well as we can and hopefully challenge for championships for next year and I’m sure we can produce even a quite bit better car than this year next year. Obviously the team is all working well together and we all feel very good and obviously I’m happy to stay there but we have to try to do a good second part of the year and maximise what we have and then prepare for next year.”

He added: “Obviously we want more wins, me and the team, but I’ve had good years, difficult years, some up and downs but I always enjoy it, always enjoy it more when things are going more nicely when you get results but as a team, I’ve had a great time there and I’m very pleased that we can be working together next year again.

As a team, as they are now, I really feel that we are going in the right direction and we can do great things in the future. People are more happy, we are more happy when we can do better results. Obviously you write less negative things after that. We keep working and believe in what we’re doing so I’m sure we will get there and we will have many happy days in front of us, and a lot of good results.”

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Raikkonen confirmed at Ferrari for 2016 season

Ferrari has confirmed that Kimi Raikkonen will stay on for the 2016 season, alongside Sebastian Vettel.

In a typically short statement the team said today: “Scuderia Ferrari announces that it has renewed its technical and racing agreement with Kimi Raikkonen. The driver line-up next season will still consist of the Finnish driver and Sebastian Vettel.”

The news ends speculation about changes at the Scuderia, which has focussed mainly on the possibility of Valtteri Bottas replacing his fellow Finn. However the Italian team would have had to buy him out of Williams at considerable expense – and ultimately the management has decided not to follow that course.

What can I say,” said Raikkonen on the Ferrari website. “For me, to be able to stay another year at Ferrari means that the dream goes on. The Scuderia is my family, as I always said, it’s here I want to end my career. I am more committed than ever and I want to say thank you to the people who gave me this chance. Also, a big thank you goes to all my Ferrari fans, for their continuous support.”

We believe that extending Kimi’s contract into the next season will provide further stability to the team,” said team boss Maurizio Arrivabene. “This has been our guideline, also considering the very good relationship between Kimi and Seb. On our side, this shows our great confidence in him, and I expect this confidence to be well rewarded.”

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