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McLaren still pushing for 2016 results, says Boullier

McLaren boss Eric Boullier says that the team is not letting up in its quest to make further progress over the rest of 2016, adding that anything learned will pay off next year, despite the rule changes.

Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button showed improved form in the races before the summer break, regularly making Q3 and recording top 10 finishes.

The whole team has had a well-deserved break after the gruelling schedule of 12 races since the start of the season,” said Boullier. “We are now just over halfway through, and ready to fight again to achieve our end-of-season goals.

The midfield pack is particularly close, and each team is stronger on different circuits, so there’ll be no let-up in in how hard we push or the developments we bring to the car in our bid to continue our progress through the rest of the season and into next year.

Together, McLaren-Honda is continuing to push hard, and everything we bring to the car – be it on the chassis or power unit side – is valuable learning for next year. We’ve enjoyed a couple of weeks away from Formula 1, but our ambition is as strong as ever, and we’re definitely ready to go racing again.”

Meanwhile Honda F1 boss Yusuke Hasegawa expects the Japanese manufacturer to continue to make progress.

Though the long and power-hungry nature of Spa won’t suit us, our target for the remainder of the season is clear: to aim for championship points and take further steps forward with each race. We hope that we can continue our positive momentum that we had before the summer shutdown and look to another strong weekend in Spa.”

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Halo on hold but still a “strong option” for 2018, says FIA

The F1 Strategy Group has today voted to not introduce the Halo in 2017, despite a strong case for it from the FIA, and the majority support of the drivers.

The Strategy Group, which is compromised of Bernie Ecclestone, Jean Todt, Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren, Williams and Force India, decided that the device needs more work.

It remains to be seen whether the FIA decides to try and force it through on safety grounds, which is technically possible, although sources have suggested that Todt will not do that.

An FIA statement said: “The Strategy Group agreed unanimously that the 2018 season will see the introduction of frontal cockpit protection for Formula One cars in order to significantly enhance the safety of drivers.

It was decided that owing to the relatively short timeframe until the commencement of the 2017 Formula One season it would be prudent to use the remainder of this year and early next year to further evaluate the full potential of all options before final confirmation.

This will include undertaking multiple on-track tests of the ‘Halo’ system in practice sessions during the rest of this season and during the first part of the 2017 season.

While the Halo is currently the preferred option, as it provides the broadest solution to date, the consensus among the Strategy Group was that another year of development could result in an even more complete solution. Halo remains a strong option for introduction in 2018.”

Red Bull’s Christian Horner, who had backed the Aeroscreen alternative that has been tested and rejected by the FIA, said last weekend that it was too early.

We’re really waiting to hear from the FIA and at the next Strategy Group there will be some discussion,” he told this writer. “As a team we’re not fans of the Halo system. I think it’s an inelegant solution, and I’m not so sure it is a complete solution. Rather than do half a job it’s better to take a bit more time and do it properly.

I think something has to be done, but rushing it through isn’t the right thing. You look at a MotoGP rider, they are far more exposed than an F1 driver, and you look at the steps that have been made in F1, it’s been astronomic over the last couple of decades. I think we’re on the right trajectory.

I just think this concept needs further investigation and research and development. For us for ‘17 it’s already last minute, because it obviously has an impact on aerodynamic performance etc. We also don’t know what effect it’s going to have at tracks with big undulations.”

The issue that the technology exists and the sport may now face is that if there is a serious accident in 2017 where the Halo could have protected a driver legal repercussions may follow.


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Rosberg signs new Mercedes deal


Nico Rosberg has finally agreed his two-year contract extension with Mercedes.

The team announced it by posting a video showing the German signing his contract alongside a smiling Toto Wolff.

Negotiations have been ongoing for some time, with Gerhard Berger working as an advisor and helping Rosberg to get a better deal.

Yesterday when referring to the drawn out discussions Rosberg noted: “Of course you need to be careful, because it can influence and take some energy away, but I think from my side with the experience that I have now I know how to handle it, and in my part I have Gerhard Berger who is handling it for me, specifically to make sure that I don’t lose any focus on the racing and to get the best out of it.”

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Swiss investment company buys Sauber

The troubled Sauber team has finally secured a deal to safeguard its future with a sale to Swiss investment company Longbow Finance.

The team admitted some weeks ago that a “solution” was at hand, but no details had been forthcoming. Since BMW pulled out at the end of 2009 the team has been owned by founder Peter Sauber and team principal Monisha Kaltenborn.

Sauber, who has always been reluctant to sell, will retire and leave his role as chairman, and will be succeeded by Longbow’s Pascal Picci. Kaltenborn will stay on a team principal.

In a statement the team said that it is Longbow’s “clear intention to stabilise the group and create the basis for a competitive and successful future. This transaction also secures the continuation of the brand Sauber in Formula One and will open opportunities to further grow the engineering activities of the group. There will be no changes to either the company or the team name.”

We are very pleased that by reaching an agreement with Longbow Finance S.A., we can secure the future of Sauber at the pinnacle of motorsport,” said Kaltenborn. “We are convinced that Longbow Finance S.A. is the perfect partner to again make the team competitive and successful in Formula 1. At the same time the new structure will allow us to finally further expand our third party business in which we commercialise our know-how.

This solution is in the best interest of our employees, partners, loyal suppliers, the base in Hinwil and for the Swiss motorsport. We are very grateful that Longbow Finance S.A.believes in the competences, efficiency and capabilities of Sauber Group, and we look forward to a new exciting future.”

Peter Sauber added: “Monisha Kaltenborn and I yesterday signed an agreement which secures the future of the Formula 1 Team and the Sauber Group. I am very happy that my courageous investment to buy the team back, which I made six years ago, with the intention to secure the base in Hinwil and the place in Formula 1 has proved to be correct.”

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Mercedes submits appeal over Rosberg’s penalty

Mercedes has lodged an intention to appeal with the FIA regarding the decision that saw Nico Rosberg docked 10 seconds in the British GP results, and which dropped him to third place behind Max Verstappen.

In effect the team has bought itself time to assess the situation, and it can now decide whether to proceed with the appeal or withdraw it. Had it not appealed the results would have been final today.

The key to the decision was the team telling Rosberg how to deal with his seventh gear problem.


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Rosberg drops to third behind Verstappen after radio penalty

Nico Rosberg has been given a 10 second penalty for a breach of the radio communication rules in the British GP.

He thus drops to third behind Max Verstappen.

The FIA deemed that he had breached Article 27.1 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations, and noted that: “Having considered the matter extensively, the Stewards determined that the team gave some instructions to the driver that were specifically permitted under Technical Directive 014-16. However, the Stewards determined that the team then went further and gave instructions to the driver that were not permitted under the Technical Directive, and were in Breach of Art. 27.1 of the Sporting Regulations, that the driver must drive the car alone and unaided.”

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Ericsson allowed to start after passing FIA medical check

Marcus Ericsson has been given clearance to start the British GP after an early morning FIA medical check.

A statement from the FIA said: “Following a medical examination undertaken this morning at the Silverstone Circuit Medical Centre, the FIA has cleared Sauber F1 Team driver Marcus Ericsson to take part in today’s British Grand Prix.”

The Swede went for a checks at a hospital in Oxford yesterday after his FP3 accident at Stowe, before returning to the circuit later in the afternoon.

Although he did not take part in qualifying the stewards gave him permission to race as he had been fast enough in practice, pending today’s medical check.

The Sauber team has built up the spare chassis, and he has also changed his gearbox.

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