Nico Rosberg: “My day was good because our car is fast…”

Nico Rosberg was pleased with his day’s work in Sochi on Friday, despite not getting a clean lap in on new supersoft tires in the afternoon session.

Rosberg topped FP1 but had to settle for third in FP2, some 0.8s off team mate Lewis Hamilton. Nevertheless the German is optimistic for the remainder of the weekend.

“My day was good because our car is fast,” said Rosberg. “I’m pleased to see that again, because it is a very, very different track, a very unique track. The asphalt is strange here, different to everywhere else – smooth might be the right word. So it’s not easy to get it right, car-wise and driving-wise. It’s been an interesting day, but good. We got off to a good start, so I’m pleased with that.

“Race pace was looking good as well, both on one lap and race pace, but of course we didn’t see what Vettel could have done, so we have to be cautious. But in general I think it’s been positive.”

Asked if the race would be a one-stop as in past years he said: “It’s still looking similar, there’s not much tyre wear, so a one-stop again could be a possibility.”

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Vettel to take gearbox grid penalty in Sochi

Sebastian Vettel’s chances of taking on Mercedes in Sochi have been dealt a blow after he has been forced to take a new gearbox and thus a five-place grid penalty.

Ferrari thought that there might be problems after the collision with Kimi Raikkonen in China, and ran the gearbox today to check it out. The data confirmed that a change was necessary for Saturday.

Meanwhile Vettel was forced to pull off and park on the pit straight in FP2 today after he was hit by an electrical issue that prevented him from running for the balance of the session while the crew worked on the car.

“It looks like we had an electronic problem,” said Vettel after the session. “It’s a bit of a shame because we’re lacking a couple of laps, especially in the long runs and race trim, to see how competitive we are. I think that Kimi did homework for the team, so not too bad. Also I think here we know roughly what to expect. I think we can still learn a lot from what other people did.”

Regarding the Italian team’s prospects for the weekend he said: “Difficult to say. The balance isn’t yet where I wanted it to be, but I think we can improve. Naturally I think the circuit should come our way. It was quite slippery this morning, I spun the first two laps. I didn’t spin this afternoon, that’s already a massive improvement!

“I felt happier as the day continued. Obviously we did some stuff for qualifying. For the race we’re lacking a bit information, but it shouldn’t be too bad. So let’s see tomorrow morning, we still have another practice session.”

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F1 engine deal approved by World Council

The FIA has formally confirmed that the much vaunted “global agreement” on power units has been fully agreed and passed by the World Motor Sport Council.

The agreement, which focuses on reducing costs, guaranteeing supply, convergence of performance and improved engine sound, covers the 2017 to 2020 seasons, and will be implemented in the sporting and technical regulations. As part of the deal the FIA has guaranteed power unit rules stability until 2020.

Reducing costs has been the major thrust of the deal. The FIA says: “Agreement has been reached on a significant reduction in the price of power unit supply to customer teams and a reduction in cost to manufacturers over the coming years.

In 2017 the power unit price for customer teams will be reduced by €1m per season compared to 2016. From 2018, the annual supply price will be reduced by a further €3m.

Cost reduction on power units will be driven by changes to the Sporting and Technical regulations in 2017 and 2018, with a progressive reduction of the number of power unit elements per driver per season.”

Regarding the guarantee of supply, the FIA said: “Supply of power units to customer teams will be ensured, as the homologation procedure will include an “obligation to supply” that will be activated in the event of a team facing an absence of supply.”

The most contentious issue has been performance convergence, but the FIA is confident that a way forward has been found.

The new agreement includes a package of measures aimed at achieving performance convergence. The token system is to be removed from 2017. Additionally, constraints on power unit part weights, dimensions and materials, and on boost pressure will be introduced in 2017 and in 2018.”

Finally attempts are being made to further improve the sound of the engines: “Manufacturers are currently conducting a promising research programme into further improving the sound of the current power units, with the aim of implementation by 2018 at the latest.”

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Nico Rosberg: “My opposition had a really messy start…”

Nico Rosberg says he’s just being realistic when he talks up the prospect of a Ferrari resurgence in 2016.

The German has said on several occasions recently that we have yet to see the Maranello team’s full potential after it endured a difficult start to the season.

I’m not really sounding any notes of caution,” said Rosberg. “I’m just realistic, and Ferrari, among others, just haven’t shown what they can do yet. They’ve taken each other out in the last race, for example, in the first corner and from then it was just messy, an an example. A lot of things have been going wrong and for sure they are a lot quicker than they have shown and we think they are very, very close to us.”

Rosberg played down the significance of his run of victories: “For me, it’s not six in a row because the three last year were last year and they don’t count for anything in this year’s championship, so for me it’s winning the first three, which I’m really happy about. Yes, I’ve been driving really well but my opposition had a really messy start. That’s the reality of it.

I definitely expect them all to bounce back, especially Lewis, and it’s going to be a great battle against them as always. And it will be tough, even if I have some points lead now, but it’s still such a long season. Three races is a seventh or something of the whole thing. There’s like 450 points to take still, and now I have 30-something in front, or whatever. There’s still a massively long way to go, so it’s not really changing the situation much.”

Meanwhile he denied that fighting for the championship was proving tough mentally.

I generally see it as a very pleasurable experience! Because it’s just an awesome feeling to come to a race track, to know that I have the car to be able to be on pole and win the race. I just look forward to it. So I’m here in Sochi and I can’t wait to get going and see where we are compared to our direct rivals and try to make it happen.”

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Booth joins Toro Rosso management team

Former Manor F1 team principal John Booth, who left the outfit he founded at the end of last season, has taken up a new role with Scuderia Toro Rosso.

The Englishman will work on a consultancy basis as director of racing while continuing to oversee his newly formed Manor LMP2 team.

“It is a great honour to join such a well-established and competitive team as Scuderia Toro Rosso” said Booth. “It is a team that has achieved so much in a relatively short space of time. I am looking forward to getting started and working with Franz and the team this weekend in Sochi.”

“I have known John for many years and I am delighted to welcome him to the team,” said STR’s Franz Tost. “Formula 1 is becoming ever more complex, with recent changes on the tyre front, car set-up, radio communications and so forth.

“Therefore, having a competitive car and talented drivers, both of which we have, on its own is not enough. With his vast experience I am sure John will help the team raise its game and become a more effective force over a race weekend.”

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Sirotkin lands Renault F1 role

Sergey Sirotkin has joined Renault Sport F1 as a test driver, and the Russian will drive Kevin Magnussen’s car in FP1 in Sochi on Friday.

The 20-year-old, who has extensive GP2 experience, was previously involved with Sauber.

This is a great opportunity for me, although it has all come together so quickly,” said Sirotkin. “I still can’t quite believe it. This is, however, the moment that all young racing drivers are working towards, and I am determined to learn as much as I can, as quickly as I can, doing the best possible job for the team while driving in Free Practice 1.”

Sergey is one of the most promising drivers from the junior categories so it is great for us that he is joining Renault Sport,” said team boss Frederic Vasseur. “We saw that he was the most promising rookie in the GP2 Series last season, where he achieved a race win and podiums, and for 2016 he is very well placed to fight for the title. He has driven the Sochi Autodrom in a GP2 Series car previously so we have confidence in the job he will be able to do for us this weekend.”

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FIA formally approves extra Pirelli testing

The World Motor Sport Council has now formally approved rule changes to accommodate extra Pirelli testing for 2017.

Details were agreed in a meeting between the FIA, teams and Pirelli in China, and the rule modifications were then passed by votes of the Strategy Group and F1 Commission on Monday.

As expected initial testing of 2017 compounds in 2016 sizes will be conducted with 2013 or 2014 cars before the focus moves to the new 2017 sizes fitted to “current” cars – which means 2015 or ’16 chassis – with suitably modified suspension. It’s understood that seven teams have indicated an interest in taking part in these tests, which will be subsidised by Pirelli.

The FIA noted: “The further testing was deemed to be essential for the purpose of developing the new tyre sizes permitted by the 2017 F1 Technical Regulations.

“The changes will allow 25 car days of testing with current cars, fitted with 2017 tyre sizes, in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

“In addition, there will be an opportunity to test prototype 2017 tyres (in 2016 sizes) on 2013 or 2014 cars – these tests on older cars only apply in 2016.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

The further testing was deemed to be essential for the purpose of developing the new tyre sizes permitted by the 2017 F1 Technical Regulations.

The changes will allow 25 car days of testing with current cars, fitted with 2017 tyre sizes, in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

In addition, there will be an opportunity to test prototype 2017 tyres (in 2016 sizes) on 2013 or 2014 cars – these tests on older cars only apply in 2016.

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