Giovinazzi replaces Wehrlein for Australian GP

Antonio Giovinazzi will stand in for Pascal Wehrlein for the rest of the weekend after the German admitted he didn’t feel fit enough to do a race distance.

Ferrari third driver Giovinazzi will thus get a chance to make his F1 debut after testing for the Swiss team in Barcelona.

Ferrari proteges Giovinazzi and Charles Leclerc have both been linked with FP1 running for Sauber and Haas, with the Sauber reserve role obviously of interest to the Monagasque driver given the potential problems for Wehrlein.

Wehrlein said: “My fitness level is not as it should be for a full race distance because of my training deficit. I explained the situation to the team yesterday evening. Therefore, the Sauber F1 Team has decided not to take any risks. It is a pity, but the best decision for the team.”

Team boss Monisha Kaltenborn added: “We have great respect of Pascal’s openness and professionalism. This decision was definitely not an easy one for him, it underlines his qualities as a team player. The focus is now on his fitness level, and in such a situation we do not take any unnecessary risks. Pascal will be in China as planned.”

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Lowe arrival a “game changer” says Williams

Williams has finally confirmed the arrival of Paddy Lowe as chief technical officer, weeks after his departure from Mercedes was confirmed.

As expected Lowe not only takes charge of the engineering operation but also joins the board and takes a shareholding, which presumably explains why finalising the deal was not the work of a moment.

Lowe’s first job in F1 was with Williams. He joined in 1987 and was a key player in the active programme before leaving for McLaren in 1993.

I‘ve always had a deep respect for Williams – my first team in Formula One,” said Lowe. “It is a huge honour to return in this leadership position and to have the opportunity to become a shareholder. I am extremely motivated to play my part in bringing success back to the team.

The vision for the future set out by the Williams Board is powerful and has compelled me to join an organisation committed to building on its unique legacy and to reaching the pinnacle of Formula One once again. I’m looking forward to this exciting new phase to my career working with Claire, Mike and Nick and with the rest of this great team – especially Frank himself, who is one of the most committed “racers” I know!”

Claire Williams added: “Having someone of Paddy’s calibre and engineering competence is not only a morale boost for everyone at Williams, but I know it will also significantly support our efforts to return this team back to the front of the grid.

Our ambitions at Williams are unwavering, we want to win races and championships, but to do that you need the best talent in the business. In Paddy we believe we have just that as well as a leader who will drive change. This is a game changer for us and once again makes us extremely excited about this team’s future.”

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Haas shows first official shots of VF17

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Haas has revealed the first official images of its new VF17 – the day after the car was snapped undertaking filming duties at Barcelona in the hands of Romain Grosjean.

Haas has faced the double challenge this year of creating its second car without the lead time associated with its debut model, while at the same time coping with a big package of rule changes. The team colours of black, grey, red and white remain the same, but the design used has also changed substantially.

I think the pedal box is the same, but all the rest is very different from last year’s car,” said team principal Guenther Steiner, team principal. “You always try to make a faster car, which is normally a lighter car. Now we can put on more ballast and get better weight distribution. The aero is completely new, as are the tires, so we needed to have some built-in adjustability.

Aesthetically, the car has a more aggressive look. It’s lighter and more aerodynamically efficient. Everything we learned from our first car has been applied to our new car.”

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Real Williams FW40 revealed

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Williams has released the first pictures of the real FW40 after showing computer generated renders last week.

The car features a spectacular shark fin that incorporates the Martini livery, but otherwise is largely similar to the earlier images.

Felipe Massa will give the car its first laps at Barcelona on Monday before Lance Stroll takes over.

Red Bull, Haas and Toro Rosso will be the last teams to show their 2017 contenders, all of which are due to be revealed on Sunday.

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Ferrari names new car SF70H

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Ferrari revealed its 2017 contender at its Maranello base this morning, prior the car’s first shakedown and filming run at the Fiorano test track.

Known as project 668 internally, the car has been given the type number SF70H, in recognition of the 70th anniversary of the Italian marque’s first car.

Following the departure of James Allison last year the new design team has been led by chief technical officer Mattia Binotto. The new model will thus be a test of the ability of the staff that Allison left behind, the team having chosen not to headhunt a major name from outside.

The car features a dramatic shark fin and a small ‘T-wing’, as seen on the Mercedes yesterday.

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Lewis Hamilton: “There is quite a lot of grip already…”

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Lewis Hamilton gave the new Mercedes W08 its first exploratory laps at windy Silverstone today, before handing the car over to team newcomer Valtteri Bottas.

The Mercedes is the second car to run on track, after Marcus Ericsson gave the Sauber its first mileage at Barcelona on Wednesday.

In all honesty, it is so exciting to see this thing come together,” said Hamilton if the new car. “These guys are working in the wind tunnel, then they have this jig which is obviously not the real carbon fibre, faster prototype parts, then you see it all come together, do the seat fit over the winter, and then in last couple of days seeing it bit by bit just appearing out of all the different departments, all finished. Somehow they all just slot in perfectly.”

Hamilton said he already had a positive impression from the bigger tyres.

Driving today, naturally the car feels wider, which it is obviously, so the front tyres feel huge, there is quite a lot of grip already even in the cold conditions here. This is not a test, the laps I did today were behind a vehicle to get filming in, and then it’s really just a shakedown – so you do a couple of slow laps just to see if the car will run.

So it is not actually a test. I got to go a little bit faster in some places, but it’s so gusty here, so it’s quite tricky, and it’s wet, so I was on slicks on a damp track. The car honestly just feels almost identical to last years car in terms of the ergonomics, the seat position and steering, but then you’ve got bigger and this more powerful beast around you.”

Hamilton stressed that there’s still a lot of work to do.

Finding the limits of the car is the big question mark, where is the limit of the car where is the limit of tyres? At what point is the car going to roll over tyre and oversteer, understeer, or lock up. So that’s what we have to do. You basically have learn to walk as fast as you can before you run, and when we get to Barcelona that’s when where that comes into play.

Then we have to understand how to switch these tyres on, if it’s a one lap or two warm-up laps or more, and then how long the tyres last, how you utilise the life of the tyres over a long run, so part through test we will get into race runs, which is gruelling, because you go in, you do your pit stops, and it’s practice for everyone. The tyres are bigger and heavier, so the mechanics are going to have to be bulking up a little bit to lift these tyres.”

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“Big hopes” as Force India shows new VJM10

Motor Racing - Sahara Force India F1 VJM10 Launch - Silverstone, England

Force India unveiled its new VJ10 at Silverstone today as a busy week of F1 car reveals continues.

Designed by a team led by technical director Andy Green, the Mercedes-powered car has the challenge of matching Force India’s impressive fourth place in last year’s World Championship. Esteban Ocon joins Sergio Perez in the driving line-up, with Alfonso Celis continuing as test driver.

I can’t remember being more excited ahead of a new season,” said team boss Vijay Mallya. “The VJM10 looks aggressive and purposeful, and is the result of a huge effort behind the scenes over the last twelve months. We have big hopes for this car, which looks stunning in its new livery.”

Regarding hopes for 2017 he said: “Simply repeating our performance level of 2016 will be a big task in itself. I don’t want to set goals or targets other than to say that we intend to maintain the momentum we have built up in recent years and carry it into the new season. There are too many unknowns to say more than this.”

It’s definitely a big overhaul; one that requires a change in mentality,” said Green. “It took a bit of time to adjust at first, but we are there now and I am confident we know where to look and where the performance is coming from with this car. The development slope is incredibly steep and we are going to see significant updates to the cars at regular intervals, right from the start; it’s going to be big updates and I don’t think development will start to taper off any time soon.”

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