Ocon confirmed at Force India for 2017

Esteban Ocon has been confirmed as Nico Hulkenberg’s replacement at Force India next season.

The Mercedes protege tested for the team last year, and made a good impression. The news leaves a seat free at Manor.

He’s an exceptional talent, as his status as a Mercedes Junior demonstrates, and I have no doubt he will flourish inside our team,” said Vijay Mallya. “We’ve had our eye on Esteban for a number of years and have followed his progress through the junior categories where he delivered outstanding results.

We ran him in the car last year during testing and his performance convinced us that he is more than capable of racing alongside Sergio. Sahara Force India has a tradition of investing in young, talented drivers and the arrival of Esteban will bring some fresh energy and motivation to everyone in the team.”

I know the team quite well already because I was a test driver last year and I’m really looking forward to working with everybody at Silverstone once again,” said Ocon. “I’m still relatively new to Formula One, but spending half a season at Manor Racing has given me some valuable experience and I feel ready for this new opportunity with Sahara Force India.

The next few months will be very busy as I do all I can to prepare for the challenge ahead of me. It means lots of days at the factory, working on the simulator and building relationships with the engineers and everybody in the team. It’s something I’ve been working towards my whole life and I intend to grab this opportunity with both hands so that I can deliver the results the team expects from me. I want to say ‘thank you’ to everybody at Manor and especially to Mercedes-Benz for their support and belief in me. I can’t wait for 2017 and my first full season racing in Formula One.”

Toto Wolff added: “Esteban has the most impressive track record in junior formulae and he is an exceptional personality outside of the car. Force India have a strong record of working with young drivers and have again shown courage and vision to take Esteban under their wing. Even more, it is a positive development for Formula One that talent wins over money and we will be seeing some of the most impressive youngsters fighting to make it to the top in Formula One over the coming years.”

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Renault confirms Palmer for 2017

Renault Sport has confirmed that Jolyon Palmer will stay on with the team as Nico Hulkenberg’s team mate in 2017.

Kevin Magnussen meanwhile is set to move to Haas on a two-year deal.

I’m over the moon to be racing with Renault Sport Formula One Team for a second season and I can’t wait to reward the team’s faith in me on track,” said Palmer. “Having worked out of Enstone since 2015 I can fully appreciate the development of the infrastructure this year. This means I share the excitement of the team looking to 2017 and our new car.

For me, it’s been a steep learning curve driving in Formula 1 and I know that I am performing better than ever, and that there’s still more to come. There is tremendous drive and enthusiasm in Enstone and Viry looking to next year and I am honoured to be part of this.”

Renault Sport chairman Jerome Stoll said: “Jolyon has shown his hunger to develop with us as the team grows and we have been impressed with his increasingly strong performances on track as the season has progressed. We are confident that the combination of Jolyon and Nico Hülkenberg offers a very promising driving force to meet our goals.

Jolyon understands the team’s spirit and motivates everyone he works with. The line-up of Jolyon and Nico harnesses the benefits of continuity and fresh blood. I am sure that having Nico as a team-mate will help push Jolyon to greater achievements. We thank Kevin Magnussen for his efforts in 2016 as he has done a great job for us this year. We wish him all the best for 2017 and beyond.”

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Ricciardo promoted to third as Vettel penalised by FIA

Third place in the Mexican GP has changed for a second time after the FIA Stewards penalised Sebastian Vettel for his blocking move on Daniel Ricciardo in the late stages of the race.

The revised order sees Ricciardo third, Max Verstappen fourth, and Vettel fifth.

Vettel had finished fourth on the road, but moved up to third when Max Verstappen was given a five seconds penalty for gaining an advantage by going off track. Vettel was thus able to go to the podium to collect the trophy.

However after the race a fresh investigation began into his defensive move ahead of Ricciardo, when the Australian tried to get past on lap 70. The FIA deemed that Vettel made an “abnormal” change of direction in the braking area that was “potentially dangerous.” He was penalised 10 seconds and given penalty points.

The decision follows a rules clarification made by Charlie Whiting in Austin in the light of Verstappen’s moves in Hungary and Japan. The decision reads as follows:

The stewards paid particular attention to the Race Directors Notes from the US Grand Prix (v2) and from this event (point 18). Notwithstanding the F1 Commission directive to “let the drivers race” we note the concern that has been expressed about manoeuvrers involving a change of direction under braking as expressed at the Drivers Briefing at the US Grand Prix and in the Race Director’s Notes from the US Grand Prix and this event.

The telemetry and video evidence shows that the driver of Car 5 did change direction under braking.

Article 27.5 and the Race Director’s Notes have essentially three criteria that determine a breach

1) Driving in a manner potentially dangerous

2) An abnormal change of direction

3) Another driver having to take evasive action

The video footage, including the close circuit footage, the broadcast vision, both drivers’ on board cameras plus the telemetry show that there was an abnormal change of direction by Car 5 and this was considered to be potentially dangerous in view of the proximity of the wheels of each car.

The video evidence clearly shows that Car 3 had to take evasive action as a result.

Accordingly as all three criteria have been met, the driver of Car 5 is guilty of a breach of Article 27.5

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Kvyat to stay at Toro Rosso in 2017

Scuderia Toro Rosso has confirmed that Dany Kvyat will remain at the team alongside the already announced Carlos Sainz next season.

Kvyat’s future at the team had been in doubt, and Force India had indicated an interest in hiring him for next season.

The news also means that there will be no race seat for GP2 star Pierre Gasly.

I’m very happy to stay with a team that feels like home to me,” said Kvyat. “I’m really looking forward to continuing the hard work together in 2017 and I’m really aiming high. I will always be fully dedicated, giving my ‘200%’, and I will be pushing as hard as I usually do, that’s for sure. I’m delighted!”

Considering how many changes there are in the Formula 1 pipeline for 2017, it’s good to know that Daniil and I will continue to be teammates here at Toro Rosso next year,” said Sainz. “We know each other very well, as we’ve been racing together since 2010, and we work well together. I know that this season isn’t over yet, but I’m already looking forward to next year!”

Team boss Franz Tost stressed that continuity is the key.

It makes a change to announce our driver line-up relatively early,” he said. “There are so many new elements coming to Formula 1 in general and to our team specifically, in terms of the change of power unit supplier, that having the same two drivers gives us stability and a benchmark to work from. For Carlos, it will be his third year with us, which speaks volumes when it comes to how highly we rate him.

In recent races, it has been clear that Daniil is back on top form. I always told him that his future with us was in his hands and he has stepped up to the mark and delivered the sort of performances that have ensured his 2017 seat in the STR 12. We now have a very talented and strong driver pairing to tackle a season in which we expect to be very competitive.”

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Force India frees Hulkenberg to join Renault

Force India has confirmed that Nico Hulkenberg will leave the team at the end of the season, thus freeing him up to join Renault in 2017.

The Silverstone team had previously confirmed that the German would be staying put, alongside Sergio Perez. Esteban Ocon is thought to be the top of the list of possible replacements.

Everybody at Sahara Force India wishes Nico well as he embarks upon a different path in Formula One,” said Vijay Mallya. “Having spent five years with us, Nico has become a great friend and contributed a huge amount to the team’s success. He’s an outstanding driver, who has scored more points for this team than anybody else. While it’s true we will miss Nico, we respect his decision to explore fresh opportunities and it would be wrong to stand in his way.”

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Webber to retire at end of WEC season

Mark Webber will retire from driving after the last WEC race of this season, Porsche has announced.

However, he will have a new role with the German company, which says that he will “represent Porsche at global events and as a consultant will contribute by lending his experience to the motorsport programmes of the sports car manufacturer from Stuttgart. This includes talent research as well as driver training for up and coming professionals and the huge number of worldwide Porsche amateur racers.”

Webber has been with Porsche for three years since leaving F1, winning the WEC title last season with Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley.

I have arrived where I belong,” said Webber. “Porsche is the brand I always loved most and the one that suits me the best. The 911 is iconic – it has got elegance, performance and understatement, and is never intrusive. It is just the right car for every scenario. I will miss the sheer speed, downforce and competition, but I want to leave on a high and I’m very much looking forward to my new tasks.

“It was a big change from Formula One to LMP1 and an entirely new experience. But it came at the right time for me. I found I liked sharing a car and the chemistry between Timo, Brendon and me is special and something I’ll always remember. It will be strange getting into the race car for the very last time in Bahrain but for now I will thoroughly enjoy every moment of the remaining races.”

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Suzuka grid shuffled as Raikkonen and Button take penalties

The Japanese GP grid was shuffled around on Sunday morning when both Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button took penalties.

Raikkonen, who was in third place, tumbles down to eighth with a five-place gearbox penalty. With his team mate Sebastian Vettel already put back three places the Red Bull drivers, who qualified fifth and sixth, now both start on the second row. Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean also gain.

Meanwhile Button goes to the back of the grid thanks to a 35-place penalty after a “strategic change” by Honda, having taken his sixth example of all six power unit elements.

This gives him a fresh set of equipment and specification parity with Fernando Alonso. The team felt that he had little to lose from 17th.

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