The F1 Times.com - News http://www.f1times.co.uk Catch up on all F1 news, here at TheF1Times.com's RSS Feed! 1 http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09731http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09731Update: The F1 Times is now Grand Prix TimesWed, 14 Jan 2015 15:25:22 GMTWe told you change was coming, and it's finally here: The F1 Times is now called Grand Prix Times as part of future plans for the website. If you've got bookmarks, please update them to our new web address: grandprixtimes.com If you've got our mobile site saved to your homescreen, then you might want to change that too (simply head to the address above and you'll be taken to the mobile site). Most links associated with The F1 Times will redirect to our new website, but a few might not and, as this site will no longer be updated with news, you'll be missing out.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09730http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09730Ricciardo certain Red Bull will be closer to MercedesSat, 10 Jan 2015 10:41:59 GMTDaniel Ricciardo is confident that Red Bull will be much closer to Mercedes this season as it won't have to endure the engine troubles it did during pre-season testing last year. He also believes Mercedes are close to the maximum and therefore finding more pace is much harder for them than it is Red Bull and other rivals. "I've got faith we can close the gap," said the Australian who was the only non-Mercedes driver to win a race - or three - in 2014. "I would like to think that now that they [Mercedes] have caressed that pinnacle and we feel we have a lot more to gain," he explained. "With a strong winter, which is pretty much inevitable, we should definitely close the gap. I have faith that we can do something to close it." Red Bull technical chief Adrian Newey suggested that much of it would depend on what Renault can do with its engine, therefore closing the gap might be out of Red Bull's hands. "Can Renault and Ferrari, with their engines, get to that stage next year? I don't know," Newey told Sky Sports. "It's going to be a very difficult challenge."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09729http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09729Ferrari's 2015 car to be unveiled on January 30thFri, 09 Jan 2015 15:43:13 GMTFerrari will remove the covers from its 2015 car on January 30th during an online only launch the day before testing kicks off in Jerez. The Italian outfit has yet to christen its car with a name. Last year, it conducted an online vote with F14T the eventual winner. However Ferrari confirmed the name would be revealed ahead of the launch. "In the lead up to that day, various updates will provide fans and the F1 world with additional information, to follow events in Maranello, including the name of the car, the precise time of the launch and other news." The launch comes a day after McLaren which plans to show off its Honda-powered MP4/30 on the 29th. Force India meanwhile has marked January 21st as the date to reveal their new livery, but have to confirm if their 2015 car will be present. The new Ferrari Formula 1 car to be launched on 30th January http://t.co/vc5Ax2AvMq pic.twitter.com/5OE1C34G8q — Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) January 9, 2015 http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09728http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09728Spain and Austria to host in-season F1 testsFri, 09 Jan 2015 12:07:41 GMTSpain and Austria will play host to the two in-season Formula 1 test sessions this year. Last year there were four two-day tests. They took place in Bahrain, Spain, Britain and Abu Dhabi. However this year that has been cut to just two tests. They will take place on the Tuesday and Wednesday following the race itself. Two test days - including pre-season testing - must be dedicated to running young drivers according to the regulations. It's likely teams will opt to run young drivers at the in-season tests, rather than pre-season. Pre-season testing begins on February 1-4 in Jerez before heading to Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya from February 19-22 and February 26-March 1.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09727http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09727Pirelli: '2015 cars will aggressively push our tyres'Fri, 09 Jan 2015 11:23:37 GMTPirelli aren't planning to make any major changes to their tyre compounds in 2015, but motorsport director Paul Hembery expects things will be more aggressive. The tyre supplier enjoyed a relatively quiet season last year, thanks to a conservative approach - the result of new engine regulations which were an unknown to the Italian manufacturer. However things will be different in 2015 as the teams find more pace over the winter, allowing them to push the tyres to the maximum once again, according to Hembery.  "Last year people said we were a little bit too conservative and maybe a little bit boring, but I think it is more a case of we went into a year with new technology," he told Sky Sports F1. "We’ve seen some initial data that suggests the cars are going to make another good step in performance compared to last season and what might have been a conservative choice last season might become quite an aggressive one in 2015," he added. "So like many we are interested to see what happens with the unfreeze for a little while of the engine regulations, what that is going to mean for the majority of teams – particularly on race pace, that is the one aspect where we expect to see a big improvement in performance. And that might make a conservative choice suddenly a bit more aggressive." It's expected that the cars, thanks to both engine and aerodynamic development, will be around two seconds quicker per lap.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09726http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09726McLaren-Honda to launch MP4/30 in late JanuaryFri, 09 Jan 2015 11:01:50 GMTMcLaren has confirmed a launch date for its 2015 challenger, the MP4/30, which will be the first McLaren car powered by Honda since 1992. The Japanese company is making its return to F1 exclusively as McLaren's power unit supplier, therefore both companies motorsport future hangs on how well they do in 2015. It will be unveiled at the teams Woking factory and online on January 29th, before it's shipped out to Jerez for the first pre-season test on February 1st. The new era begins. Introducing the #McLarenHonda #MP430. Launching online 29 January 2015. See it here first. #MakingHistory — McLaren (@McLarenF1) January 9, 2015 http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09725http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09725Mexico's revamped Autódromo Hermanos RodríguezThu, 08 Jan 2015 23:35:53 GMTWith Mexico returning to the Formula 1 calendar this season, renovating Mexico City's Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit - which hasn't been used by F1 since 2001 - is currently in full swing. The circuit however will look unfamiliar to most when it's completed later this year ahead of F1's return in early November. Images taken from a promotional video show much of the track will be re-profiled for safety reasons, including the famous Peraltada with the addition of a chicane cutting it in half. Meanwhile the famous Eses have been shortened and smoothed out to make them quicker and less challenging, but primarily to allow for additional run-off to meet the FIA's Grade 1 certification. Check out the computer-generated images below to get a feel for the modified circuit, including a rough visualisation of the new layout and the original. http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09724http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09724FIA publishes details of virtual safety car systemThu, 08 Jan 2015 22:49:26 GMTThe FIA has published details about the new Virtual Safety Car (VSC) which will officially debut in 2015 to improve safety during a race weekend. The system comes in response to Jules Bianchi's serious accident at the Japanese Grand Prix last year when he span off the circuit and hit a recovery vehicle. An official review into the accident found Bianchi was driving too quickly for the conditions which currently under double waved yellows. The VSC somewhat takes the responsibility of slowing down to an acceptable level away from the drivers, and enforces it through a temporary speed limit which must be abided by or a driver will face a penalty. It doesn't replace the Safety Car, but will be used for less serious incidents which warrant drivers to reduce their speed, most likely because marshals are on track. Once race control gives the order, "VSC DEPLOYED" will be shown on the messaging system whilst the trackside light panels will show "VSC". The drivers must then reduce speed and stay above the minimum time set by the FIA at least once in each marshalling sector (defined as the piece of track between each of the trackside light panels). No cars may enter the pits whilst the VSC is deployed unless it is to change tyres. Once the reason for the VSC has been cleared or made safe, the FIA will notify the teams via the messaging system with the notice "VSC ENDING" before changing the light boards to green 10-15 seconds later. Drivers can then begin racing immediately. After 30 seconds, the light boards will return to their sleep status. A penalty will be given to any driver who dips below the minimum time limit, except when entering the pits, leaving the pits, whilst in the pit entry or if any car slows with an obvious problem.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09723http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09723Hamilton - suffering from the English mistrust of talentThu, 08 Jan 2015 16:07:53 GMTOK, I’ll admit it. This article was supposed to be predicated on Lewis Hamilton missing out on the latest BBC Sports Personality of the Year award – which in case you are uninitiated is an annual award from the broadcaster based on a UK public vote of the best (almost always UK) sports person of the calendar year, that takes place just before Christmas.  Time was that being British and winning or nearly winning the F1 world championship was enough seemingly to get you over the line, evidenced by Nigel Mansell claiming the prize in his near-miss, tyre-exploding 1986 as well as in his title year of 1992, and by Damon Hill seizing it in 1994 and 1996. More recently however it’s not been quite as straightforward for our F1 folks and particularly not for Lewis. In 2007 after his stunning debut season he missed out on the honour to boxer Joe Calzaghe. In 2008 when he took his first title he lost out on the award to cyclist Chris Hoy. Jenson Button too the following year in his own title year was pipped by Ryan Giggs, though may have been a victim of peculiar Man Utd fans’/Welsh block voting, that time awarding the veteran footballer a pseudo lifetime achievement accolade. But fast forward to the present and as you’ll probably know this time Lewis did win it, and won it handsomely ahead of the apparent favourite in golfer Rory McIlroy. Yet it remains undeniable that Lewis is one that has, and still to an extent does, divide opinion. Including in his native country. Probably especially in his native country. There are plenty of his compatriots who adore him (see any British Grand Prix crowd) but there are too a conspicuous bunch who hold him consciously at an arm’s length. And even his overdue BBC honour provided evidence of such. There have been surprise, even plain odd, winners of the Sports Personality award before. For the last few years wherein it has all been based on a live on-the-night vote they’ve come with particular regularity. But this time in a way that I do not recall before there was following Lewis’s success a howl of protest – across the media both established and social. Some of it predictable (‘F1 isn’t a real sport’, ‘it’s all the car’ etc). Some of it personal (‘he sulks’, ‘he lives in Monaco’, ‘he’s a tax dodger’ etc – odd given that among many other examples McIlroy’s Florida residence isn’t entirely based on the ocean view). It was in my view particularly strange given that while of course a compelling case can be made for McIlroy’s highly decorated 2014 year, Lewis claiming the award instead was hardly from leftfield. The Mirror’s Oliver Holt for one twigged what was going on and asked 'SPOTY winner Lewis Hamilton should be a national treasure, so why isn’t the F1 champ more loved?' But even before all of this we had evidence that Lewis’s Marmite-like tendencies were being sensed. In the days prior to the clinching of his latest F1 championship the Telegraph’s F1 correspondent Daniel Johnson headlined an article on Lewis asking ‘why does Britain not love him?’ Then a few days later after his title was confirmed the Eurosport website posed the loaded question of ‘Hamilton (is) a worthy world champion but is he a likeable one?’ Many have their theories as to why it is that Lewis maintains a motley band of persistent detractors in Britain. To return to a point mentioned – and one we were snowed under with following Lewis’s award – that he resides in a tax haven, while I’m not going to defend Lewis’s tax arrangements it also is the case that he is hardly alone on that one. Even reducing the scope just to F1 drivers and naming a Briton of that ilk who hasn’t shifted residence in the name of extreme tax efficiency is a trying task. Those who have reads like a who’s who: Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, Jenson Button… Even relatively modest talents such as Paul di Resta and Johnny Herbert did. And I recall very little scrutiny of them. It seems undeniable that the condemnation going around for this disproportionately concentrates on Lewis. So not much help there. It appears part of the effect of Lewis’s dividing of views rather than part of the cause. One article in the Guardian too claimed that Lewis’s ethnicity is a factor. While I by no means dismiss the notion out of hand I also will for the purposes of this article cravenly side-step it, given I likely would not do justice to an exploration of the intricacies of Britain’s race relations. Looking through the other common inclusions in the case for the prosecution of Lewis we however, albeit inadvertently, get closer to what I believe is a major part of the answer. The afore-mentioned Eurosport article took up the reins:  ‘Too often this season and many before, he (Hamilton) has been happy to take the plaudits when things are going his way but also to offer curt replies to interviews, openly criticise his team over the radio and sulk when things aren’t working to his liking. ‘Then there’s the celebrity red carpet lifestyle, the pop star girlfriend and bling earrings that seem to suggest he’s not always totally focussed on the job he should be doing. The same kind of behaviour that has seen footballers labelled as “overpaid prima donnas”.’ The author then goes on to place all of this in sharp contrast to the ‘humble’, ‘magnanimous in defeat’, ‘unflappable’ and ‘down to earth’ Nico Rosberg, who ‘seems to absolutely love everything about the sport, whether or not he’s winning or just taking part.’ And here we may have our answer. The English public it seems has a type in its sportspeople. The gritty, humble trier. The honest yeoman. Industrious, determined and brave in extremes. But also stoic, modest, courteous. Almost that embodies the virtuous Corinthian spirit of yore. The gentleman amateur rather than the grubby professional. Self-aggrandising, petulance and reliance on a talent without appropriate application are strict no-nos. As a side note I use English rather than British deliberately here. England in population terms makes up the vast majority of Britain of course, and as well as this as a Scot I’ve noticed that the Scottish priorities seem slightly different. There the wayward genius antihero sort often is placed on a pedestal, as evidenced by the reverence that the likes of the self-destructive Jim Baxter are held in. Welsh priorities sadly are beyond my current ken. And as for Lewis we all are aware of his towering, almost freakish, talent – it is of the highly visible sort. The independent and often unorthodox sort too. You suspect that Lewis is aware of it also. Of all of the top line F1 drivers of now Lewis, with the possible recent exception of Daniel Ricciardo, you feel would be the most willing to face another top liner head-to-head with the same equipment. On the days that rain falls Lewis usually is the first to sense an opportunity and suggest that conditions are sufficient for all to be getting on with. All this is comment not criticism; it’s not something I begrudge Lewis at all, personally. But as has been argued in this column previously perhaps a flip side of this is that many have assumed (unfairly) that talent is all that he offers. His application does not get its fullest acknowledgment. Lewis too has on occasion perhaps contributed to the manufacture of the rod for his own back on this, displaying often bewildering and errant behaviour on and off the track, especially in and around the 2011 season. The ‘showbiz lifestyle’ we’ve mentioned. His emotional range and perceptions about his attitude to his collective we’ve mentioned too. Exactly the kind of stuff that many of his compatriots look rather unfavourably upon. And here we get to a potential rub. That in England there is a common association of talent and show with what are firmly considered negative characteristics. Selfishness. Capriciousness. Not nearly making the best of what you have.  There is a resultant mistrust of talent. Far better to back those stoic, submissive and reliable even if they are more limited in their abilities. And it seems possible at least that Lewis’s instinctive and maverick skills and his capacity for showmanship are associated by extension automatically with the negatives outlined (again unfairly in large part, especially lately). Indeed, note the Eurosport quote above which conflates his ostentation with wastefulness and underachievement, almost as if it is inevitable that it begets the others. Note too how it is equally seamlessly held in unfavourable contrast with the more modest and homespun characteristics of his team mate. Note too that both of the two F1 double-winners of the Sports Personality of the Year award mentioned – Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill – rather embody the everyman gritty trier. Mansell was never humble but more than made up for it you feel by the fact that no other racing driver likely has ever so conspicuously sought to succeed via sheer, extraordinary will overcoming whatever number of obstacles lay before him. Lewis meanwhile has his characteristics that, while they are not necessarily wrong (indeed many of them are emphatically right), chafe against the sensibilities of many of his fellow Englanders. Perhaps whatever he did he was on a hiding to nothing with some. We can perhaps forgive this view to an extent, as there have been a few conspicuous English examples over time where inspiration and implosion have indeed gone together. Paul Gascoigne in football had a magnificent talent. So did Ian Botham in cricket. Both were trouble of the highest order. England’s sports fans also got a front row seat to Northern Irish footballer George Best’s notorious crash and burn. But equally is it not unfair to assume that it must always be so? Indeed, in discussing a similar recent case of cricketer Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Anthony in the Observer said ‘It should be obvious by now that in this country “he’s a great talent but he’s trouble” really means “he’s great therefore he’s trouble”. The gifted in Britain are guilty until proven innocent. Somewhere in our national psyche we identify special talent as a marker for a weak or unbalanced character.’ Anthony wondered further if the association between skills and strife might even be a self-fulfilling prophecy, as ‘our system produces “troubled talents” because, by and large, they are the only ones who survive its verve-crushing emphasis on dogged functionalism.’ Ben Dirs for the BBC in large part concurred on the same subject: ‘The real wonder of Kevin Pietersen’s England career is not that he has endured for so long but that he was picked in the first place. Such is the deep-seated suspicion of the “maverick” in English sport. ‘It is often enough simply to possess an outlandish talent to be considered suspect. English sport is set up for honest yeoman, while outlandish talent is often treated like witchcraft.’ The parallels between Pietersen’s popular image and that of Hamilton are many. Both possess prodigious talents, allied to a considerable élan and streak of the unorthodox and individual. Both also accumulated considerable achievements. But despite this both endured persistent chanting choirs of doubters – that they were untrustworthy, unpredictable, had a questionable character wherein among other things they put their own egos before their teams. That they lacked the discipline to really make the best of their skills. If they provided fireworks they also too often burnt their own fingers. And in Pietersen’s case the conundrum reached its resolution after England’s slow motion train wreck of its recent 5-0 reverse against Australia in the prestigious Ashes series, and despite statistics still having him the best of England’s bad bunch of batsmen on the ill-starred tour he was rather scapegoated as part of England’s response and placed in permanent exile. The phenomenon appears to apply to other sports in England too. In rugby Danny Cipriani had flair to spare but was quickly discarded by the national side as being more trouble than he was worth. A generation or so before Stuart Barnes provided the inspiration but it was the much more safety-first Rob Andrew that in his stead won the vast total of international caps and national hero status (Dirs described Barnes as ‘a suspicious free thinker in the dogmatic world of English rugby’).  While in football since Alf Ramsay’s efficient but not necessarily exciting World Cup-winning side of 1966 apparently set the template the accumulated list of geniuses that were almost never trusted to represent the country with any sort of permanency is as long as your arm. Matt Le Tissier, Stan Bowles and Peter Osgood were just a few of a wide cast hardly touched by the national side; a variety of brave, industrious, docile sorts were persistently preferred.  Then there is the quintessential case of Glenn Hoddle, who while he accumulated 53 England appearances in his career almost never therein was he utilised to his considerable full effect. He was forever in and out of the side; when he was in usually was played away from his favoured position. It took a move to France later in his career for him to be suitably appreciated. His manager then, no less a figure than Arsene Wenger, described him as ‘the most skilful player I ever worked with’. The legendary Michel Platini reckoned that had Hoddle been French he’d have represented his country 150 times. Perhaps it goes yet deeper. In Chariots of Fire Harold Abrahams’ Cambridge college master affirmed that sport is meant to be about the ‘unassailable spirit of loyalty, comradeship and mutual responsibility’. No doubt an expression of the country’s sporting amateur values of the Victorian age. Not much room in it for individual flair it seems. It may go deeper still. Anyone who has witnessed the British Remembrance Sunday commemorations and similar will be aware of the particular affection that is held therein for the ‘Unknown Warrior’ sort – brave, unquestioning, but also with something of an anonymity. No sense of expecting thanks or plaudits. Certainly no individualism or ego. As Alfred Tennyson said with some admiration in The Charge of the Light Brigade: ‘Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die’. And as if to bring the point full circle George Orwell once noted famously that ‘sport is war minus the shooting’. Stirling Moss may have been reflecting a little more than he realised when he said of Hamilton recently: ‘He was one of the racing crowd before and now he’s whatever you call those superstars. And that’s not really the way we English go. We’re more reserved.’ All of course are entitled to their character judgements, even to their predispositions to an extent, and none of us are under an obligation to like and admire everyone. Furthermore it’s almost impossible to measure quantitatively why someone doesn’t like someone else and if all else fails spurious reasons can be given. So we rely on conjecture. And as a result we’ll likely never get a firm answer on quite why the latest F1 world champion is apparently without honour in some at least of his own country. But it seems possible at least that such is Lewis Hamilton’s gift that in gaining the affections of a few in his native land he always was going to be fighting a losing battle.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09722http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09722No interest in joining Formula 1 grid - PorscheThu, 08 Jan 2015 13:27:17 GMTPorsche has no interest in joining the Formula 1 grid according to chief designer Wolfgang Hatz, who believes the World Endurance Championship (WEC) is far more relevant. The German sportscar manufacturer has been linked with F1 several times in recent years, but it's a non-starter according to Hatz. "Formula 1 is not a topic for us and it will not be one," he told Auto Motor und Sport. "Le Mans [WEC], on the other hand, is increasingly becoming a more attractive environment. More and more rivals are coming in and we learn more for our consumer line." The company returned to the WEC LMP1 class in 2014 and claimed victory at the final round of the championship in Brazil. In 2015, Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg will compete in a third Porsche 919 during the 6 Hours of Spa and Le Mans 24 Hours. Whilst Porsche might not be eyeing F1, it's believed sister company Audi, which is also owned by the Volkswagen Group, is researching F1 as a possible markting avenue in the near future.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09721http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09721BRDC completes Silverstone management restructureThu, 08 Jan 2015 13:13:04 GMTThe British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) has installed a new management team at the Silverstone circuit following the suspension of several key management staff last year. Former managing director Richard Phillips and two executives, Ed Brookes and David Thompson, were suspended in October whilst an investigation took place into the running of the British Grand Prix. As part of a restructure, they have been replaced by new managing director Patrick Allen who will be assisted by sporting director Stuart Pringle. "Silverstone has great potential to become the ultimate entertainment venue and with the support of the team I believe we can make it the place to go," Allen said of his goals for the facility. "I want our customers to know that they can visit the circuit any weekend of the year and be guaranteed an amazing value for money experience whether that is to watch motor racing, visit a music concert, enjoy a food festival or attend an exhibition." BRDC chairman John Grant thanked the previous management team for their hard work over the years and for overseeing the construction of the Wing facility. "This executive team has overseen significant growth and diversification of Silverstone's business during its tenure, during which the Wing was built and the future of the British F1 Grand Prix secured. "I would like to thank them for their contributions to Silverstone and wish them well for the future." Meanwhile, the BRDC also confirmed that ticket sales for the 2015 British GP are up by 16 per cent on the same period last year, thanks to Lewis Hamilton's victory and championship win.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09720http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09720Radical changes heading F1's way with 1000hp enginesWed, 07 Jan 2015 21:15:47 GMTFormula 1 could look very different in 2016 if the sport can agree on new regulations governing downforce, fuel, tyres and engines. A meeting was held this week in Geneva involving the FIA, F1's engine manufacturers and team representatives. On the agenda was ways to reverse the declining interest in the sport by making the cars harder to drive. The key solution, and one put forward by F1's Strategy Group and Power Unit Working Group (PUWG), is to increase horsepower from the present 800hp to more than 1000hp. There is a worry it could result in escalated costs, but the PUWG believes the 1000hp target can be met by simply modifying the current hybrid-V6 engines, rather than introducing a completely new engine formula. Slight modifications, higher revs, an increased fuel flow rate and a higher fuel allowance, would be enough to reach the horsepower target and it could also help to address the noise issue which plagued the sport during the first few races of 2014. The FIA believes this would make the cars harder to drive and thus increase the spectacle. Meanwhile, further changes to the way the cars look are being discussed. The FIA wants radical looking cars to return with fewer aerodynamic restrictions allowing for greater downforce, larger rear tyres and an overall more aggressive look with 2016 or 2017 the likely date for the changes to be implemented. Also discussed was ways to make the power units cheaper with the idea of standardised parts put forward, particularly the energy-recovery system (ERS).http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09719http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09719Spa gets permission to extend contract through 2018Wed, 07 Jan 2015 12:34:12 GMTThe Belgian Grand Prix looks set to remain on the Formula 1 calendar through to 2018 after the local government gave race organisers permission to seek a contract extension with FOM. Walloon economy minister Jean-Claude Marcourt has agreed to continue supporting the event financially until 2018, despite it making a €7 million (£5.5m, $8.2m) loss last year, citing the positive impact it has on the economy as a justifiable reason. "There will be a grand prix in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018," he said during a session in the Walloon Parliament this week. Marcourt added that the FIA or FOM's Bernie Ecclestone hadn't asked for any investment to be made to the circuit's facilities, unlike some other circuits such as Canada's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve or Brazil's Interlagos. Spa-Francorchamps continues to be a fan favourite and with its contract set to end this year, the extension will be welcome news.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09718http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09718BBC confirms which ten races it will show live in '15Wed, 07 Jan 2015 11:43:49 GMTThe BBC has confirmed which ten races it will show live during the 2015 Formula 1 season as part of a deal with Sky and Formula One Management. The free-to-air British public broadcaster has an agreement to show half of the races live, whilst the remainder will be shown as a delayed highlights package several hours later. Sky meanwhile will be the only place to watch all 20 rounds of the championship through its dedicated Sky Sports F1 channel. The British Grand Prix and the season finale in Abu Dhabi are among the live races selected by the BBC, though the opening race of the season in Australia isn't. The BBC's head of F1, Ben Gallop, said he was delighted with their choice of races. "Like all F1 fans, we can’t wait for the 2015 season. With Lewis Hamilton as World Champion, F1 in Britain is in a great position and we’re delighted with our race package. "These live races, combined with our ever-popular highlights programmes and our extensive coverage on radio and online means F1 fans can follow every step of Hamilton’s title defence on the BBC." BBC live races in 2015: Malaysia - 29 MarchBahrain - 19 April Canada - 7 June Great Britain - 5 July Hungary - 26 July Belgium - 23 Aug Japan - 27 Sept Russia - 11 Oct Brazil - 15 Nov Abu Dhabi - 29 Nov http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09717http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09717McLaren can afford not to run title sponsor - BoullierWed, 07 Jan 2015 10:37:42 GMTMcLaren refuses to undervalue itself as it bids to sign a title sponsor for the 2015 season and insists it could survive without one. The Woking outfit lost title sponsor Vodafone in 2013 and announced plans to name a replacement, however that announcement never came and the team remains without a main sponsor to this day. That's not a problem according to racing director Eric Boullier. "People want to know dates, but we don't need to [say]," said Boullier. "It sounds arrogant, but I promise you it's not, we can afford to run without a title sponsor; that's a privilege. "I'm not saying we don't want one, we want one and we still have some stuff to do. Let's have the right one at the right moment. We will not go like other teams, let's say, and go cheap." Boullier reckons the arrival of Honda as the teams engine supplier has only strengthened the appeal of sponsoring McLaren-Honda. "It is because people who do their due diligence know how serious McLaren is and how serious Honda is. Everybody knows that and there will be enough resources and everything in place for it to be successful."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09716http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09716Alonso 'more adaptable' than Raikkonen - FryWed, 07 Jan 2015 10:30:00 GMTFernando Alonso is more adaptable in his driving style than Kimi Raikkonen according to Ferrari's recently-ousted technical chief Pat Fry. The Spaniard is able to drive around an issue, whilst Raikkonen requires the perfect car and setup to get the best results, added Fry who has worked with the Finn at Ferrari and McLaren. Alonso finished 2014 with 161 points, almost triple Raikkonen's 55. "There were two issues," he told Total Race. "The first is that Fernando is more adaptable and the second is that the limitations of the car and tyres are especially difficult with Kimi's driving style. "It was the same at McLaren," he added. "He was very sensitive to the front of the car — when he and Montoya were together, I think we had about seven different front suspensions for the season. "To get the most out of Kimi, you need to give him the car to do it." Raikkonen somewhat agrees with Fry's assessment after he recently admitted he refuses to change his driving style to suit the car. "I don't see the point of me changing my driving style. I couldn't drive differently any faster," he said. "The issue is not with how I drive but how we fix the issue, then we will have a good result. "I can drive around some issues but I hope we can fix the main issue and [I can] drive as I always do. I've been driving in Formula One for quite a few years and have never changed it and will never change it. It's not the right way of fixing the problems."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09715http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09715Korea officially dropped from 2015 F1 calendarTue, 06 Jan 2015 22:40:37 GMTThe 2015 Formula 1 calendar has been reduced to 20 races from the proposed schedule of 21, following the removal of the Korean Grand Prix. The event was added to the calendar with a proposed date of May 3rd, sitting between the Bahrain and Spanish races. That slot is now free according to the latest calendar. It means there is now a three week break before the F1 circus heads to Europe which will be welcome news for the teams which tend to bring large upgrade packages to the race. Bernie Ecclestone recently admitted Korea's inclusion was for legal reasons, whilst the race organisers admitted they would rather it not happen. "We have a contract with Korea... we have to put it on the calendar. If we hadn't they could have sued us. We let them off for a year on the understanding they would be back," said the 84-year-old. The season begins on March 15th in Australia before ending in Abu Dhabi on November 29th.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09714http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09714Slim chance Manor will make 2015 grid - BoothTue, 06 Jan 2015 15:40:25 GMTIf the Manor Formula 1 team (formerly Marussia) fails to find a buyer or investor within two weeks, the hope of making the 2015 grid is over according to team boss John Booth. Marussia collapsed toward the end of the 2014 season when funding ran out, leading to the sale of its assets. However the team had almost finalised designs for a 2015 car and could potentially build two chassis before the first race in Australia if they can find investment in the next two weeks. "There's still a slim hope, but it's getting extremely late," Booth told the Yorkshire Post. "We've got two weeks to complete something by. So there's still a chance. We are talking to investors and they are positive talks. "What we are finding is there are a lot of people making positive noises about it but it's actually getting across the line and taking it on that's the big question. There's a hell of a lot of hard-working, good people in this team and we are trying to keep as many staff as possible in work." The team is in a unique position that if it competes in 2015, regardless of where it finishes, it will be awarded £40 million in prize money for finishing 9th, which Booth reckons is a positive for any investor. "The ironic thing is we won't be able to get that £40m in prize money if the dream does die. But that is the attractive element for potential investors. We managed nearly five years without that money." The team operates on a budget of around £60m, meaning an investor would only need to risk around £20m - which could potentially be made up through sponsorship - knowing they would be entitled to prize money at the end of the season.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09713http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09713Details of new F1 licence system revealed by FIATue, 06 Jan 2015 13:00:25 GMTThe FIA has revealed the new requirements to qualify for a Formula 1 superlicence in light of changes which were made following criticism of Max Verstappen's seat with Toro Rosso. Verstappen will be 17 when he makes his debut this year, but future drivers will need to be at least 18, they will need to pass a test on the sporting regulations and have competed in at least two seasons of junior single-seater categories. They will also be required to earn a minimum of 40 points in the three years preceding their application for a superlicence. The new points system was revealed by the FIA on Monday, with only five championships offering the full 40 points needed - IndyCar, the World Endurance Championship (LMP1), the Formula 3 European Championship, GP2 and a future Formula 2 championship. Therefore a GP3 or Renault 3.5 champion would need additional points from a previous or future season to qualify. Verstappen wouldn't qualify on the grounds of his age, or the amount of points on his licence with his third placed finish in the F3 standings scoring just 20 points. However with the rule not coming into effect until 2016, it doesn't apply to the Toro Rosso driver. Championship1st2nd3rd4th5th6th7th8th9th10th F2 Championship 60 50 40 30 20 10 8 6 4 3 GP2 Series 50 40 30 20 10 8 6 4 3 2 F3 European Championship 40 30 20 10 8 6 4 3 2 1 WEC (LMP1 only) 40 30 20 10 8 6 4 3 2 1 IndyCar 40 30 20 10 8 6 4 3 2 1 GP3 Series 30 20 15 10 7 5 3 2 1 0 Formula Renault 3.5 30 20 15 10 7 5 3 2 1 0 Japanese Super Formula 20 7 10 7 5 3 2 1 0 0 National F4 Championships (FIA) 10 7 5 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 National F3 Championships 10 7 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 EuroCup, ALPS or NEC 5 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0  http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09712http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09712Honda in discussion with FIA over development ruleMon, 05 Jan 2015 19:24:42 GMTThe FIA recently confirmed that in-season engine development could go ahead after the federation admitted a loophole in the rules existed and could be exploited. However contained within a technical directive issued to the teams before Christmas, the FIA made it clear that Honda was excluded because it is a new supplier. "As the existing manufacturers were obliged to homologate their power units by 28 February 2014 it would seem fair and equitable to ask a new manufacturer to homologate their power unit before February 28, 2015," said technical delegate Charlie Whiting in the note. "We therefore consider this to be a requirement for a new power unit manufacturer." A McLaren-Honda spokesperson confirmed they were in discussion with the FIA about the ruling and admitted they were "annoyed and unhappy" with the decision, but refused to comment further whilst the talks are ongoing. Ferrari and Renault have hailed the decision which will allow them to work on their engines throughout 2015. Mercedes meanwhile, which will also be allowed to develop their own engine, believe it will lead to unnecessary cost increases.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09711http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09711Button's former race engineer joins Massa at WilliamsMon, 05 Jan 2015 13:30:09 GMTWilliams has bolstered its engineering team ahead of the 2015 season with appointment of Dave Robson to the position of Felipe Massa's race engineer. Robson joins from McLaren where he was Jenson Button's race engineer up until the 2014 German Grand Prix when the team opted to give that role to Tom Stallard. Robson will work under head of vehicle performance Rob Smedley. Massa's former race engineer, Andrew Murdoch, has been promoted to senior performance engineer where he will lead the performance group at the factory. He will also remain part of the trackside team with a focus on Valtteri Bottas. Speaking about the changes, chief technical officer Pat Symonds said: "Off the back of a great 2014 campaign Williams is determined to continue this positive momentum into the new season, and these recent changes show our commitment to that goal. "We are proud to be able to promote our existing talent to help strengthen every area within our engineering team and we will continue to invest in new talent where necessary to ensure we have the support and resources to achieve our on-track ambitions throughout 2015 and beyond. "Our engineering team for the coming season is looking strong and I'm excited to get the new season underway."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09710http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09710Wolff to test new Williams FW37 in BarcelonaMon, 05 Jan 2015 13:12:26 GMTWilliams test driver Susie Wolff will get behind the wheel of the Grove outfit's new 2015 car at the Barcelona test in mid-February, she confirmed on Monday. The Scot became the first women in over 20 years to participate in a race weekend when she took part in first free practice at last years British and German Grands Prix. She was recently promoted from development driver to test driver and has now been given the chance to drive the Williams FW37 at the second or third pre-season test. "With six weeks until my first test in the FW37 it's full focus on fitness and preparation," she wrote on her Twitter. Driving duties for the first test in Jerez between February 1st and 4th will be shared between Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. The team has yet to confirm when they will officially unveil their new car, with Force India the only team so far to have done so.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09709http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09709Force India to launch 2015 car on January 21stMon, 05 Jan 2015 10:12:47 GMTForce India will remove the covers from its 2015 challenger, the VJM08, during a media event in Mexico, the team has confirmed. The Mercedes-powered car will be unveiled at the Soumaya Museum in Mexico City toward the end of January as part of the teams links with the country through driver Sergio Perez. Perez also brings with him several Mexican sponsors in the form of America Movil's Telmex, Telcel and Claro brands which will also be featured on Ferrari's car as part of a deal with third driver Esteban Gutierrez. "I wish to thank Telmex, Telcel and Claro for their support in making this event possible," said team principal and co-owner Vijay Mallya. The first test of the season kicks off in Jerez on February 1st.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09708http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09708Mercedes and McLaren set for radical livery changesMon, 05 Jan 2015 10:05:27 GMTReigning world champions Mercedes and rival McLaren look set to unveil radical new colour schemes for the 2015 season according to several reports. Mercedes, which are also known as the 'Silver Arrows', will stick with a similar colour scheme of silver and Petronas Blue, but it's reported that they will use a chrome paint with a mirror finish, similar to that used by McLaren during the 2014 season. Spain's El Mundo Deportivo reports that the new paint is called 'Kromo' and will be applied to the entire car and wheels of the W06 raced by Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. McLaren meanwhile, which is looking to distance itself from its former engine supplier, will undergo a radical new paint job with new engine supplier Honda in mind. Traditionally the team ran a white and red livery when it last partnered with Honda, though much of the red was thanks to Marlboro sponsorship at the time. However it's believed the team are likely to return to those same colours as Honda is also linked with red, white and hints of black. The Woking team could delay the livery launch until the first race in Australia. Reports suggest the team will run a traditional orange testing livery in Jerez and Barcelona.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09707http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09707In-season engine development gets green light for '15Fri, 02 Jan 2015 21:27:26 GMTThe FIA has told Formula 1's three engine manufacturers that they can introduce upgrades throughout the 2015 season after admitting a loophole in the regulations does exist. Ferrari pointed out during a working group meeting in November that the regulations surrounding the engine development freeze didn't specify when the 2015 engine needed to be homologated. Therefore they argued that the development tokens, of which they have 32 to use during the winter period, could be used throughout the season, allowing them to introduce gradual upgrades before homologating their engine at the end of the year. During talks before Christmas, the FIA agreed that the rules were badly worded and that the loophole existed and could be exploited. The FIA's Charlie Whiting later confirmed this in a letter sent to the manufacturers. "As it is not specifically stated when a power unit may be modified in accordance with appendix 4 [of the technical regulations], we feel that the weighted items (32 in this case) may be introduced at any time during the 2015 season. "The basic homologated power unit will remain that which was homologated for the 2014 season, including any changes made in accordance with paragraph 1 (c) of appendix 4 [of the sporting regulations]," read the note. However, McLaren's new power unit supplier, Honda, remains bound by the original rules and is therefore banned from introducing further upgrades until after the 2015 season. "As the existing manufacturers were obliged to homologate their power units by 28 February 2014 it would seem fair and equitable to ask a new manufacturer to homologate their power unit before February 28, 2015," added Whiting. "We therefore consider this to be a requirement for a new power unit manufacturer." The clarification is a huge win for Ferrari and Renault which were lobbying the FIA to green light in-season developments on the power unit, whilst Mercedes had blocked the move a number of times. The teams are still limited to four engines per car, per season. Therefore any developments are likely to be introduced at the end of each engine cycle.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09706http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09706Alonso is Mercedes plan B if Hamilton leaves - WolffThu, 01 Jan 2015 18:19:53 GMTMercedes would look to sign Fernando Alonso for the 2016 season if they fail to agree new terms with current driver and champion Lewis Hamilton. The Briton has yet to agree to a contract extension beyond 2015 after he and the team agreed to put talks on hold until the end of the season. Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff had hoped to conclude a deal in December, but that hasn't happened. However he remains confident they'll agree something soon. "There's no hurry yet, we'll discuss it during the year," Wolff told Gazzetta dello Sport. However should that not happen for some reason, Wolff already has other drivers in his sights with Alonso the top priority. The Spaniard recently signed a multi-year deal with McLaren, but it's believed he has the option to leave after just one year if the MP4-30 fails to deliver. "I'm optimistic, the priority is to carry on with these drivers [Hamilton and Nico Rosberg]," added Wolff. "Should it be impossible, then Alonso represents the top alternative, followed by [Valtteri] Bottas. "He is a dangerous rival with any car," he said of Alonso. "If he is at the wheel of a car that can finish sixth, he will take it to third place."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09705http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09705Horner hails Mercedes 'truly incredible' seasonThu, 01 Jan 2015 14:42:10 GMTRed Bull team principal Christian Horner has congratulated rival outfit Mercedes on the job they did in 2014 after the outfit secured both the Drivers' and Constructors' championships. Horner, whose team won four championships in a row, had to settle for second best during the 2014 season as they failed to challenge Mercedes' dominance. The Briton hailed the team for the work they did, particularly on the power unit, which contributed in putting Mercedes in a strong position from the very first race. "I think the difference to Mercedes was far bigger than we expected it would be," said Horner. "We feared that there was going to be a deficit, but nowhere near the scale we saw. "I think we need to congratulate Mercedes, who have done a truly incredible job with their power unit. "I think we were in the worst of all situations with Renault in that we were uncompetitive with an unreliable engine. But credit to them for sorting the reliability out on the engine." Horner is hopeful that Renault can now close the gap this season and believes the recent changes - with Renault now focusing on Red Bull as its works team - will pay off. "It's now the performance deficit that we really need to focus on," he added. "I think the philosophy to embrace Red Bull as the works team and to work as a partner as opposed to a customer was what needed changing, because the power unit needs to be fully integrated."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09704http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09704The top ten most read feature articles of 2014Wed, 31 Dec 2014 13:19:00 GMTWith 2014 coming to an end very shortly, we've decided (as is now tradition) to go back and look at the most read feature articles from the year. 01. Fernando Alonso goes from saviour to scapegoat The one thing Ferrari didn't need to change was its leading driver. So it will change its leading driver. Have Ferrari made a mistake by letting go of Alonso? [Read Story] 02. Tech Talk: Red Bull hiding FOM camera in nose Red Bull came up with the clever innovation of hiding their FOM camera housing inside the nose void. Whilst the benefit was miniscule, it was an interesting concept. However it was later banned by the FIA. [Read Story] 03. Analysis: Why Lotus' noses are different lengths The nose that susprise us all! Lotus debuted a rather odd looking double pronged nose on their E22. We delved into the reasoning behind the different lengths. [Read Story] 04. Tech Talk: Ferrari's blown wheel-nuts in China Blown-wheel nuts aren't new to Formula One. But we chose to take an in-depth look at Ferrari's concept to explain exactly why you'd want to blow your nuts! [Read Story] 05. Tech Talk: Ferrari's revised cooling inlets Throughout 2014 we analysed various developments up and down the grid, but it was Ferrari's upgrades which were of most interest to our readers. [Read Story] 06. Who's earning what? Driver salaries revealed Who's raking the money in? Who's paying to drive? We revealed all in our annual driver salary league table. [Read Story] 07. Binning the noses: not as unthinkable as you may think Alongside engine noise and FRIC suspension, the notable talking point of 2014 was that of the phallis shaped noses. Hideous they are! [Read Story] 08. Why exactly do Ferrari want third cars so much? Ferrari are desperate to run a third car. They nearly got their way with the loss of Caterham and Marussia, but it seems the plans have been starved off for another year. Why do they want them so badly? [Read Story] 09. The top 10 drivers of the 2014 season so far... We took a look at who was out-performing their machiney and who wasn't at the half way stage of the season. Click through to find out what we thought. [Read Story] 10. Tech Talk: Mercedes engine advantage explained We took a look at one of the many reasons Mercedes dominated the 2014 season and tried to explain in the simplest terms possible, why they'd beaten the competition with their engine. [Read Story]http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09703http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09703The top ten most read news stories of 2014Wed, 31 Dec 2014 12:20:59 GMTWith 2014 coming to an end very shortly, we've decided (as is now tradition) to go back and look at the most read news stories from the year. 01. Police discover Red Bull trophies dumped in lake Police discovered some of Red Bull's missing F1 trophies in a lake after they were stolen during a ram-raid on the factory in early-December. [Read Story] 02. Vettel vents his anger at Rosberg during conference Sebastian Vettel wasn't too happy with Nico Rosberg during the Malaysian Grand Prix, but it eventually turned out he was angry with the wrong guy. Whoops. [Read Story] 03. Raikkonen: 'Result f**k all to do with motivation' Don't accuse Kimi Raikkonen of lacking motivation and then blaming it for his poor results, as the Finnish driver won't take too kindly to your comments. [Read Story] 04. Agreement reached to make engines louder Unanimous agreement was reached to work on a solution to make the 2014 engines louder. Sadly all attempts failed. But it did produce a comedy trumpet exhaust, so it was all worth it. [Read Story] 05. Force India to trial 'Info Wing' designed by Hamilton Lewis Hamilton's father, Anthony, thinks F1 fans need more information during the race, so he invented the 'Info Wing' which Force India trialled at the end of season test. [Read Story] 06. FIA to ban FRIC suspension system from German GP Some believed Mercedes huge advantage was down to FRIC suspension, so it was banned mid-season. It turned out it wasn't and they continued to dominate. [Read Story] 07. We'd be better taking a GP2 car to Australia - Kobayashi After testing their car, Kamui Kobayashi declared it worse than a GP2 car before they'd even had a chance to race it. We doubt Caterham found his feedback helpful. Read Story] 08. Report: Caterham put up for sale by Fernandes Another Caterham story. This time it's the beginning of the end. Tony Fernandes reportedly put the team up for sale (which was later confirmed) only for it to eventually collapse. [Read Story] 09. Teams expected to protest McLaren in Australia Several teams hinted that they'd protest McLaren because of their unique shroud at the rear of the car. Eventually, after the FIA confirmed it was legal, none of them bothered. [Read Story] 10. Red Bull forced to mount camera outside chassis Red Bull thought they'd be clever and hide their FOM camera housing inside the nose, meaning they'd have no need for external drag-producing mountings. The FIA disagreed. [Read Story]http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09702http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09702Sauber confirm Marciello as test and reserve driverWed, 31 Dec 2014 10:52:55 GMTSauber have announced that Ferrari Academy driver Raffaele Marciello will take up the role of test and reserve driver for the 2015 season as the Swiss outfit. The Italian won the European F3 Championship with 13 wins in 2013 before moving up to GP2 where he finished eighth overall with one victory at Spa-Francorchamps and another two podiums. Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn confirmed the 20-year-old would participate in some free practice sessions throughout the season to give him some additional F1 experience on top of his recent Ferrari test. "We are pleased to announce Raffaele Marciello as our test and reserve driver for the 2015 season. He proved his great talent in junior formulas, and his season in the European Formula 3 Championship with 13 wins and the title victory was particularly impressive," she said. "We will give Raffaele the opportunity to become familiar with Formula One, which also includes him taking part in some free practice sessions on Friday. It's great for our team to be part of his way to F1." Raffaele Marciello added: "I am really pleased to become a member of the Sauber F1 Team, which has a long tradition of building up excellent drivers. I really think that this is the best choice for my future career. "I am also happy to compete for one more season in the GP2 Series, which, together with my new F1 role, will give me a very busy 2015 season. I want to thank the Ferrari Driver Academy for giving me this important opportunity, and now I really can’t wait to start delivering my best."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09701http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09701Bianchi condition unchanged, begins rehabilitationTue, 30 Dec 2014 17:59:36 GMTJules Bianchi's family have confirmed that the 25-year-old has begun rehabilitation therapy at a French hospital, despite his neurological condition remaining unchanged. The F1 driver suffered a diffuse axonal injury following a crash at the Japanese Grand Prix in early October. Following several weeks in a Japanese Intensive Care unit, he was transferred to a hospital nearer his family home in France. Whilst his condition remains unchanged since the family's last update in November, they said a programme of rehabilitation could now begin, but warned it would be a "slow process". "It was a significant and very comforting step for us to be able to bring Jules home to France last month, to continue his rehabilitation surrounded by his family and friends," reads a statement released by his parents, Philippe and Christine Bianchi. "Since that time, Jules has received the very best treatment in the Intensive Care Unit of Le Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Nice (CHU) and now at the CHU's rehabilitation centre for this kind of trauma. "Jules' neurological status remains unchanged; he is unconscious but able to breathe unaided. Whilst there is no significant information to report, we take a great deal of comfort from the fact that Jules continues to fight, as we knew he would, and this has enabled the medical professionals caring for him to commence the planned, but very painstaking, programme of rehabilitation therapy." The statement continued with the family thanking everyone for the support they and Jules have received over the past few months. "As we reflect on the events of the past few months, we would like to acknowledge once again the overwhelming warmth and affection shown towards our son," they added. "These continue to be challenging times for our family, but the knowledge that he has touched the lives of so many people all around the world has helped us through. "We would also like to acknowledge the respect and support shown by the media towards our family during this time, for which we are extremely grateful. We will continue to provide information when it is possible to do so and our sincere appreciation to everyone who continues to pray for Jules."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09700http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09700Hamilton a step above Alonso claims ZanardiTue, 30 Dec 2014 14:15:02 GMTDouble world champion Lewis Hamilton is the best driver on the grid, regardless of machinery, according to former F1 driver Alex Zanardi. The Italian, who is now a gold-medal winning paralympian following the loss of both his legs, claims Fernando Alonso is the only driver that "comes close" to Hamilton. "Honestly, I believe that the outcome of the last Formula 1 World Championship was right," Zanardi told Leo Turrini. "I am not talking about the machinery, I am talking about the driver. "In my opinion, Hamilton is the best of those on the grid at the moment. Perhaps the only one who comes close to him is Alonso. But I think Lewis is a step above," he added. The 48-year-old meanwhile believes the pairing of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen will be an interesting one as both have suffered disappointing seasons at the hands of their team-mates. "I think Vettel is a great driver, maybe not at the level of Hamilton or Alonso, however, we are talking about a very very competitive driver, who will surely get to Maranello with the right spirit." He added: "Apart from the car, which of course remains important, it will be interesting to see how Vettel and Raikkonen will react to the latest experiences in 2015. "In 2014, Seb was put under by [Daniel] Ricciardo. Similarly Kimi declined significantly compared to Fernando. How will they adapt to a machine that we are told will not be the fastest? It will be very interesting to see their performance."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09699http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09699Schumacher has a 'long hard fight' ahead - ManagerMon, 29 Dec 2014 12:32:40 GMTMichael Schumacher has a long and hard fight ahead of him, his manager Sabine Kehm has said in her latest update on the German. The seven-time champion is now undergoing rehabilitation nearer his family home in Switzerland after spending several months in a French hospital following his skiing accident a year ago. Speaking to Reuters, Kehm said: "We need a long time. It is going to be a long time and a hard fight. He is making progress appropriate to the severity of the situation." His manager also took the opportunity to rubbish comments made by former F1 driver Philippe Streiff. He claimed he had spoken with the Schumacher family and that Michael was "beginning to recognise those around him" and would soon be able to "sit upright". Kehm confirmed his comments were "factually wrong", adding: "I cannot confirm that. I can only confirm that I do not know where Mr. Streiff has his information from because he has no contact with us and he never has."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09698http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09698Maldonado doesn't deserve bad image - PermaneSun, 28 Dec 2014 16:53:59 GMTPastor Maldonado doesn't deserve the bad image he's been assigned by Formula 1 fans according to Lotus trackside operations director Alan Permane. The Venezuelan is often the target of ridicule thanks to his numerous crashes and mistakes, but Permane insists the one-time race winner is "one of the best drivers" to work with in terms of feedback. "Pastor has an awfully bad image from the outside, and of course he does do some silly things on track every now and again," he told Autosport. "But to work with, he's one of the best drivers I've ever worked with - his feedback, how calm he is, nothing flusters him at all," added Permane who has worked with many drivers, including Romain Grosjean, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso. "He's very, very good and he works incredibly hard. Whatever's happening, he's in there doing his stuff and getting on with it. "There's very rarely a magic button to press, it's just hard work that gets you out of trouble. And he recognises that and gets on with it. "It's no secret he brings a lot of funding to the team. In his position, it would be very easy for him to have tantrums and get hysterical, and he's not done it once. Never. I think that's great."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09697http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09697Ferrari, McLaren lose millions from Marussia collapseSun, 28 Dec 2014 16:39:25 GMTThe collapse of Marussia isn't just a loss for Formula 1 and the team's various employees, but it will also have an impact on Ferrari and McLaren which are among 200 creditors owed money. Ferrari supplied Marussia with engines for the 2014 season and is owed £16.6 million, none of which is expected to be recovered according to documents from Marussia's administrators, FRP Advisory. McLaren, which has a technical partnership with the Banbury-based team, is the third largest creditor with an outstanding £7.1m. The second largest is UK taxpayer-owned Lloyds Development Capital, an investment arm of Lloyds Banking Group, which is owed more than £10m after it lent the team capital. However, around £1.6m is expected to be recovered for Lloyds, as its debt is secured against assets, unlike Ferrari and McLaren which will have to take the financial hit in full.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09696http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09696Raikkonen: 'No point in changing my driving style'Sun, 28 Dec 2014 00:56:35 GMTKimi Raikkonen says he sees no point in adapting his driving style to suit the car, as he doesn't see how it will make him any quicker, and has instead urged Ferrari to design a car which suits him. The Finnish driver is known to enjoy a car which performs well on turn-in, or in his own words: "if it doesn't turn and the front doesn't bite I've never liked it." Ferrari's poor aerodynamics on the F14-T haven't helped Raikkonen which he insists is to blame for his lack of results when compared to Fernando Alonso. However the 2007 champion doesn't believe he needs to change the way he drives as it doesn't fix the problem. "I don't see the point of me changing my driving style. I couldn't drive differently any faster," he said. "The issue is not with how I drive but how we fix the issue, then we will have a good result. "I can drive around some issues but I hope we can fix the main issue and [I can] drive as I always do. I've been driving in Formula One for quite a few years and have never changed it and will never change it. It's not the right way of fixing the problems." Raikkonen is certain of a better car more suited to his style next year following Ferrari's restructure. "Next year will be different because you have a new car and it's a different story. I'm sure it will be a better car, a better package, and what we have learned we can improve for sure."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09695http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09695McLaren-Honda back in-season engine developmentSat, 27 Dec 2014 11:25:59 GMTMcLaren-Honda's racing director Eric Boullier fears Mercedes will enjoy a power advantage next year, like they did in 2014, if the engine development rules aren't relaxed. Ferrari and Renault are calling for in-season development to be given the green light to allow them to close the gap, but the move has been blocked by Mercedes. With the Woking team switching to Honda power next year, and Honda debuting their hybrid-V6 a year behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault, Boullier is keen for the rules to be relaxed to allow for greater competition. "Within the regulations, I think engines should be frozen once every manufacturer has been able to develop their engines," said the Frenchman. However he is keen to avoid huge development costs - something Mercedes believe will get out of control if the engine freeze is dropped. "Doing something that will stupidly increase the costs is not what we want to achieve," he added. "But it's a competition and we can change the cars as much as we want. "If you disallow the competition, then this goes against the spirit of the sport." Boullier fears Mercedes will benefit for "a couple of years" if the rules remain as they are. "Most of the gains they have had come from the engine and they will for a couple of years until everybody can match them in terms of development. "This is what they are benefiting from and if you could unfreeze the engine regs, you will see some [teams] catch up."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09694http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09694Ricciardo proves Kvyat was the right choice - HornerFri, 26 Dec 2014 15:56:38 GMTRed Bull team principal Christian Horner believes Daniel Ricciardo's performance this season is proof that promoting young drivers is the right move, therefore justifying Red Bull's decision to promote Daniil Kvyat. The young Russian will line-up alongside Ricciardo at the championship-winning outfit following Sebastian Vettel's decision to leave for Ferrari. Many had expected Red Bull to promote a more experienced driver, but the team chose Kvyat despite him having completed just a single season with Toro Rosso. Horner however has confidence that Kvyat will prove to be the right decision. "The way he has performed this year has been phenomenal, he's been very quick," Horner said of the 20-year-old. "I think what gave us real confidence was the performance Daniel Ricciardo has delivered this year. Giving him the opportunity has given us the confidence that you can invest in youth and you can believe and trust in it. That's why we've taken Dany Kvyat. "I've known him obviously since being a member in the Red Bull Junior Team, he drove for my team in GP3 as well, where he won the championship and his fight back that year from mid-season to the end of the year was truly impressive." Horner is adamant both drivers understand the responsibility that comes with racing for Red Bull, combined with the fact they get along, means he doesn't expect any friction. "The two drivers get on very well and know each other. They both have a bit of banter outside the car, in the car they are both hungry, no quarter given racing drivers. They know they are driving for Red Bull, the brand, the team and all employees on the ground and with that comes a responsibility."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09693http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09693Montezemolo hits out at his Ferrari replacementWed, 24 Dec 2014 18:59:12 GMTFormer Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has hit back at comments made by his replacement Sergio Marchionne this week. Di Montezemolo stepped down from his role at Ferrari after 23 years and was replaced by parent company chairman Marchionne, who has begun restructuring Ferrari's F1 operations in the hope of getting them back to the front. Whilst discussing 2015, he blamed decisions "made by others" as the cause for their recent poor results as well as problems which might hurt them next year. Di Montezemolo believes the comments were directed at him and described them as "gratuitous and unfounded accusations". "I did not intend to fuel this argument, for the deep love I have for Ferrari, for the respect deserved by those who work there now and who had worked and won there in the markets and on the circuits," he told the ANSA news agency. "These past weeks, however, I have heard reiterated, gratuitous, and sometimes unfounded accusations. I don't want to fall for such provocations. "The sporting successes, more numerous than those gained by any other team, the strength and prestige the brand has built in the world, and the financial results that have been fundamental for the FCA group and that this year are the best in the history of the company, speak for themselves. "I trust that Christmas will calm down spirits and bring better judgement."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09692http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09692Caterham, Manor on updated 2015 F1 entry listWed, 24 Dec 2014 14:28:17 GMTThe FIA has released an updated entry list for the 2015 FIA Formula 1 World Championship, though it remains largely unchanged from the original document. The main susprises are that both Caterham and Manor - which ran the Marussia team until entered administration - remain on the list, despite both having folded last month. Whilst Caterham potentially has a chance of lining up on the grid if a buyer can be found, Manor has sold the majority of its assets during an auction last week. Therefore it seems rather unlikely the latter will be on the finalised list, as such, both remain 'subject to confirmation'. Meanwhile a third team is listed under the same status. Lotus, which is known to be under financial strain with mounting debts, has gone from confirmed to 'subject to confirmation'. The updated list also confirms that Lewis Hamilton will continue to use the #44 as his race number, despite earning the right to use #1, as Sebastian Vettel did in 2014. The German will now use #5. 2015 F1 Entry List: Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team (Mercedes)44. Lewis Hamilton 6. Nico Rosberg Infiniti Red Bull Racing (Renault) 3. Daniel Ricciardo 26. Daniil Kvyat Williams Martini Racing (Mercedes) 19. Felipe Massa77. Valtteri Bottas Scuderia Ferrari (Ferrari)5. Sebastian Vettel 7. Kimi Räikkönen McLaren Honda (Honda)14. Fernando Alonso 22. Jenson Button Sahara Force India F1 Team (Mercedes) 27. Nico Hülkenberg 11. Sergio Pérez Scuderia Toro Rosso (Renault) 33. Max Verstappen 55. Carlos Sainz Jr. Lotus F1 Team (Mercedes)* 8. Romain Grosjean 13. Pastor Maldonado Sauber F1 Team (Ferrari) 9. Marcus Ericsson 12. Felipe Nasr Manor F1 Team (Ferrari)* TBATBA CF1 Caterham F1 Team (Renault)* TBA TBA *Subject to confirmationhttp://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09691http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09691Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from TF1TWed, 24 Dec 2014 14:15:46 GMTWe'd like to the take the opportunity to not only wish all our readers and partners a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, but we'd also like to thank you for your continued support. This year has been a great one on track, but also for The F1 Times. Our readership has grown substantially, as has our following on Twitter and Facebook, allowing us to engage with our readers like never before. We couldn't have done this without the hard work of our writers and partners including Craig and Leanne Boon at Octane Photographic, Graham Keilloh, Lukáš Redl, Ernie Black and Marc Priestley. Which brings us to 2015. Hopefully we'll enjoy greater on-track action - with more than just two fighting it out at the top - and we hope more of you can join us for the ride. We have some exciting plans for next year, which not only includes an updated and improved website, but a new name. The F1 Times has served us well, it's become a name known up and down the paddock, but it has limited us to covering just Formula 1. That's not necessarily a bad thing - it is our passion after all - and for the short-term we'll continue to cover just F1, but changing our name gives us the freedom to expand should we need to. It will also provide us greater freedom. As many will know, the F1 name is trademarked and highly protected by Formula One Management. Whilst they've never had a problem with us using it, it has limited us somewhat. So in January, alongside the new car launches, we'll also be launching our new website and our new name, so keep an eye out! Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,Ryan WoodEditorhttp://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09690http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09690Haas acquires Marussia assets and Banbury baseWed, 24 Dec 2014 10:50:38 GMTGene Haas has reportedly purchased Marussia's former base in Banbury after it went up for sale following the collapse of the team. The American is set to join the grid in 2016 with his own outfit and admitted he was interested in acquiring some of Marussia's assets which went up for public auction last week. Haas said his initial plans were to base the entire team in North Carolina next to his Nascar base, but later admitted a UK base would be necessary for race preparation. It's been reported by Racecar Engineering that Haas took ownership of the Marussia factory as well as "data and designs" for their 2015 car which was already well developed with a scale wind-tunnel model included in the auction. The intellectual data would give Haas a good stepping stone to build on for 2016 when his all-American outfit is set to join the grid.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09689http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09689No agreement on relaxing engine freeze - FerrariMon, 22 Dec 2014 23:24:31 GMTFerrari has confirmed that no agreement has been reached over the proposal to relax the engine freeze or allow in-season development. Speaking on Monday, Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne confirmed that they failed to come to an agreement during a meeting last week between the three engine manufacturers, the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone. "No change has been secured," said Marchionne when pressed on the matter. Ferrari and Renault have been pushing for the rules to be relaxed in order to allow them to catch up to Mercedes which held a clear power advantage during the 2014 season, allowing them to cruise to victory. Mercedes and Honda are both against the proposal and have so far blocked the move. Currently the rules allow for manufacturers to elect 48 per cent out of a possible 98 per cent of the components contained within the power unit to modify. They are then assigned 32 'tokens' which are assigned to parts of the engine. If a component is deemed to have greater influence over performance, it costs more tokens to modify it than a less influential part. This rule was criticised by Marchionne who says it's far to complex for the fan at home to understand. "The regulations are a real labyrinth; they are really badly assembled - they must have been written by drunk people at a bar. "We have to simplify the rules so that even normal people can understand them," he added. A loophole in the rules has however provided Ferrari and Renault with some hope, as the regulations state that engines must be homologated on February 28th for the 2015 season. Ferrari and Renault argue that they can use their current unmodified units for the start of the season before introducing an upgraded unit later in the year. Whilst the FIA failed to offer clarification during last week's meeting, it's believed they have informally informed all four manufacturers that they won't accept the introduction of modified engines later in the year and will shortly issue a re-worded rule to close the matter.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09688http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09688Ferrari aiming for minimum of two race wins in 2015Mon, 22 Dec 2014 23:06:50 GMTFerrari haven't set their goals particularly high for the 2015 season with new team principal Maurizio Arrivabene saying "two or three" race wins would satisfy him. He made the comments during a Christmas lunch with Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne on Monday in Maranello. The pair both stressed that the results of Ferrari's recent restructure won't be felt in their entirety until at least the 2016 season when they will set their sights much higher. "Two or three wins," replied Arrivabene when asked what would be a satisfactory outcome next year, before adding: "If we win four, we will go to heaven." The team failed to win a single race in 2014 - the first time Ferrari has gone a full season without a victory since 1993 - which led to a massive company-wide restructure in the hope of getting them back to the front by 2016. "In my conversations with [Mercedes bosses] Toto Wolff and Dieter Zetsche, the process of allowing them to have the outstanding year they had this year was a decision that was taken a couple of years ago," explained Marchionne. "It took a good two years to mature in terms of the technical solution. Ferrari can probably get to the same place by the end of 2016," he added.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09687http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09687Ecclestone wants South Africa back on F1 calendarMon, 22 Dec 2014 13:40:18 GMTSouth Africa could soon return to the calendar if Bernie Ecclestone gets his way after admitting a race on the African continent would be a welcome addition to the Formula 1 roster. South Africa last hosted F1 in 1993 at the Kyalami circuit in the Midrand region of the country. The circuit is now owned by Porsche SA which bought it this year. Ecclestone has his sights set on a return as well as an additional race in America - something which has long been on the cards with many failed attempts including New Jersey and Long Beach. "We have a few countries that want to come back," he told R-Sport whilst in Russia to present the organisers of the Sochi race with the 2014 Promoters' Trophy. "We still want to go back to South Africa and we want to have a race again in this part of the world. "Also, in the USA, we have one race, but we still want to hold one more," he added. If it goes ahead, South Africa would join Mexico in a long-awaited return as the country is set to host a race for the first time since 1992 next season.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09686http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09686Honda reliability a concern, not performance - DennisMon, 22 Dec 2014 13:24:56 GMTMcLaren aren't concerned by the performance of Honda's new hybrid-V6 engine, but they are about the reliability of the unit which is currently an unknown. Chairman Ron Dennis was coy when asked about the power output, but described it as "impressive" despite rumours to the contrary and said Honda's biggest challenge was to design a reliable engine. "The challenge for our partner Honda is hitting dates and reliability," said the Briton. "The performance is pretty impressive but of course I can't share [the figures] with you." The team tested the power unit during a filming day at Silverstone and then again a few weeks later in Abu Dhabi where they completed just five laps. The issues related to an electrical problem according to racing director Eric Boullier, rather than an inherent design flaw. Honda motorsport boss Yasuhisa Arai is however confident they will resolve the problems and challenge for wins from the very first race next year. "The new regulation package is very very complex," he said. "In Abu Dhabi we did a test and got much data and in that we were already one team as McLaren-Honda. "I have a strong confidence with our partnership we will win next year [starting] in Melbourne and start a new era together."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09685http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09685Verstappen debut 'an insult' to F1 - VilleneuveMon, 22 Dec 2014 11:29:27 GMTJacques Villeneuve has branded Max Verstappen's debut in Formula 1 next season "an insult" and a negative for the sport. Verstappen will become the youngest driver to race in F1 next year when he starts for Toro Rosso at the age of just 17. "Should I tell you the truth? I think Max is an insult," Villeneuve told Omnicorse. "Do Red Bull realise they are putting a child in Formula One?" The decision has been criticised by many as Verstappen has just a single years experience competing in Formula 3. Before that he was racing go-karts. As a result, the FIA recently imposed a minimum age limit of 18 starting in 2016, but Villeneuve says that hasn't gone far enough. "It should be 21," he added. "I do not doubt that he is fast, but he has no experience. I arrived in F1 when I was 25, after winning in Indycars. "Before you are fighting against the lives of others, you have to learn, and it is not F1's role to teach. You should arrive in F1 as a winner and with a wealth of experience. F1 is not the place to come and develop as a driver." The 1997 champion blames the cars for being too easy to drive and therefore failing to challenge drivers like Verstappen, which is giving F1 a negative image. "The debut of a 17-year-old is a negative message for F1 and I think the impact so far has not been as positive as Red Bull expected," added the Canadian. "Verstappen arrives, does ten laps and immediately looks strong. It seems that anyone can drive an F1 car, while in my father's day the drivers were considered heroes at the wheel of almost impossible monsters. "F1 impressed me when I arrived, even though I came from Indycar. But this F1 is not exciting. The cars seem slow."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09684http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09684Valencia race organisers accused of corruptionSun, 21 Dec 2014 16:55:11 GMTThe organisers of the European Grand Prix between 2008 and 2012, based in the Spanish region of Valencia, are facing allegations of corruption over their part in the event. The city's port had previously been used for the Americas Cup event, but in 2008 it played host to Spain's second Formula 1 race, known as the European GP. Things came to an end in 2012 after a failed attempt to rotate the event with Barcelona in an attempt to save money. As a result of the broken contract, F1's Bernie Ecclestone sought a £25 million (€33m, $40m) payment to terminate the deal and the race was dropped altogether. Now it seems things could soon become even worse for its organisers. It's reported that an investigation into alleged corruption and embezzlement of funds by those behind the race has been opened. Former regional president Francisco Camps, tourism official Dolores Johnson and Jorge Martinez, a shareholder in the Valmor Sports company which was assigned the hosting rights by the then president, are all named in the investigation. The courts have been asked to investigate why a private company with no motorsport experience and just 12 employees, was tasked with running a national multi-million euro event. It has also been asked to investigate financial irregularities, specifically naming Camps for misappropriating public funds.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09683http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09683Pay driver situation 'out of control' claims SutilSun, 21 Dec 2014 13:43:51 GMTFormula 1's pay driver situation is getting "out of control" according to Adrian Sutil, who recently lost his seat to a driver with more financial backing. Sauber has replaced both its drivers, Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez, with Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr because they bring with them more money. Sutil, whilst recognising that pay drivers have always been part of the sport, says it's now getting out of control to the point where money is far more important than talent to some teams. "The budgets some drivers are paying for a year are out of control," he told Autosport. "This is not the way it should be. "There were small teams 20 or 30 years ago where you could buy yourself a cockpit. Now there are less of them [small teams] and maybe it's more obvious now. "This is something that may never change in Formula 1, but we can make it a little more balanced." The rising costs in F1 has meant teams are struggling to survive on sponsorship and prize money alone, therefore they need to find other sources of funding to compete. The German believes the teams and sport must react because pay drivers aren't the right way to go if F1 wants to continue being a sport. "First of all I think a few teams maybe have to do their job a little bit better to make things profitable," he added. "Or on the other side, maybe there's something wrong in the system. "It would be good to have [the old times] back, and then maybe you could call it a sport again. Right now, it's hard to say what it is."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09682http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09682Video: A look back at Vettel's time with Red BullSat, 20 Dec 2014 17:34:34 GMTCheck out the brilliant video from the very talented Ayrton1, taking a look back at Sebastian Vettel's amazing career with Red Bull Racing. A career which saw him become a four-time champion, but is now drawing to a close as he embarks on a new challenge with Ferrari in 2015. http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09681http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09681BayernLB files £270m lawsuit against EcclestoneSat, 20 Dec 2014 15:37:05 GMTBernie Ecclestone is being sued by German bank BayernLB over the sale of the sport in 2006, a spokesman for the bank confirmed this week. The company believes the sport was undervalued when it was sold to CVC Capital Partners, therefore undervaluing its stake. BayernLB is reportedly seeking compensation of £270 million (€345m, $420m), believing Ecclestone is guilty of bribing german banker and then-BayernLB employee, Gerhard Gribkowsky. "BayernLB has filed a law suit against Mr. Ecclestone, the family foundation Bambino and others and is asking for damages of €345 million plus interest," a spokesman told Reuters. "When the bank's stake in Formula One was sold in 2005 and 2006 a board member was bribed. The sales contract was not negotiated, but it was finalised at terms dictated by Mr. Ecclestone, which were disadvantageous for the bank." Earlier this year, a Munich court threw out a case of bribery against Ecclestone after he paid a settlement of £63m ($100m), insisting he was blackmailed into making the payment, whilst Gribkowsky was jailed for eight-and-a-half years back in 2012.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09680http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09680Marussia still eligible for prize money - EcclestoneFri, 19 Dec 2014 20:40:09 GMTMarussia would still be entitled to collect the prize money it earned from finishing inside the top ten, according to Bernie Ecclestone, as long as it competes in 2015. The now-collapsed team secured ninth in the standings thanks to Jules Bianchi's ninth-place finish in Monaco, earning the team two points - enough to put it ahead of Sauber and Caterham. Such a position brings with it huge financial reward. Marussia is entitled to claim £43 million ($67m) for securing ninth which is far more than the £6.5m ($10m) for finishing last. However with the team entering administration and closing completely, it was thought it had forgone the right to the prize money, but Ecclestone has revealed that if a buyer is found with the funding to race in 2015, it would still be entitled to the money. That's a blow for Sauber which believed it would fall to them. Surely it would be impossible for Marussia to return with their assets currently being auctioned off. Not so. All a potential buyer would need to do is purchase the race licence and quickly build up a team by buying some of the assets, such as its 2014 car and modifying it to conform with the 2015 regulations. A more unlikely scenario, but also possible, would be to buy Caterham's assets, which are also for sale, and Marussia's licence. Whilst the team would be massively uncompetitive, it would at least know that it is guaranteed a £43m payout at the end of the year, allowing it to focus entirely on 2016. Regardless of Ecclestone's confession, it seems unlikely that either Caterham or Marussia will be returning to the grid, despite assurances from the former's administrator that they're "in talks" with potential buyers.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09679http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09679Vergne joins Ferrari as test driver for 2015 seasonFri, 19 Dec 2014 17:28:47 GMTRecently ousted Toro Rosso driver, Jean-Eric Vergne, has agreed to join Ferrari as their test driver for the 2015 season, the Italian team confirmed on Friday. The Frenchman will effectively replace Pedro de la Rosa who will leave the outfit after he joined from HRT in 2013. The Spaniard helped to develop Ferrari's cars in the simulator, a position which Vergne will now hold. "On behalf of the entire team, I welcome Jean-Eric, who I'm sure will make an important contribution to our development work in the simulator," commented new team principal Maurizio Arrivabene. "He will fit in to a programme aimed at improving important areas, invigorating and strengthening an already strong and capable group of professionals." Vergne described the news "a dream" despite only taking on the position of test driver. "I feel very honored to be joining the Ferrari family and becoming a part of the most prestigious team in the history of Formula 1," he said. "The objective is a unanimous one and that is to help the Scuderia get back to the top step of the podium. Having had two years working in the simulator for a top F1 team and three years racing with Toro Rosso, my experience will add to the great efforts that are currently being made in order to get the team back to its winning ways. "I look forward to fulfilling my dream in becoming a member of the Ferrari F1 team and having the Tifosi behind me every step of the way." He joined Esteban Gutierrez who was recently confirmed as reserve and test driver, whilst Marc Genè and Davide Rigon continue in their test roles.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09678http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09678McLaren-Honda must dominate, not just win - DennisFri, 19 Dec 2014 16:49:11 GMTMcLaren's Ron Dennis has set his company's new partnership with Honda the highest of aims, not simply to win in Formula 1, but to dominate. The outfit has been going through difficult times recently having failed to finish inside the top two in the constructors' standings since 2011. In fact, it has finished a lowly fifth both last and this year. However the new partnership with Honda, which will see the team powered exclusively by the Japanese manufacturer's new hybrid-V6 engine, plus a recent restructure within the engineering department, brings hope that the team is now on the up. Dennis is however seeking a return to McLaren-Honda's last partnership when they won 15 of the 16 races in 1988. "What we achieved then [in '88], and what our rivals Mercedes achieved this year, is exactly what our objective is for the future - which is domination," he is quoted as saying by Autosport. "I remember at the beginning of the [2014] season I said we were here to win races," said Dennis. "So you could argue that as we didn't win a race and [now] we're using words such as 'domination' then we're setting ourselves up for an almighty fall. "But domination doesn't come in a short period of time, it takes time," he explained. "It is what we're about because it is the only thing that really sets you aside from people who just win races. "Winning races is challenging but domination is really challenging."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09677http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09677Ricciardo's pace a factor in Vettel's decision - HornerFri, 19 Dec 2014 11:11:58 GMTSebastian Vettel's decision to leave Red Bull was partly motivated by Daniel Ricciardo's pace, according to team principal Christian Horner. It's long been rumoured that the German has a say in who his team-mate is, something some have put down to him insisting on being 'number one' within the team. However with the arrival of Ricciardo, who outpaced Vettel from the very first race to eventually score three wins to none during the 2014 season, it shook Vettel and Horner reckons it was "probably a factor" in his motivation to move to Ferrari. "[The Italian GP] was quite a defining moment for Sebastian," Horner told BBC Sport when discussing Ricciardo's overtake on Vettel at the second chicane. "He was enormously frustrated after that grand prix," he added, believing that helped the four-time champion make his mind up about where he wanted to be. "I think Ferrari were courting him quite hard and around Monza was the time he made the decision to do something different next year," said Horner. "By the time he got to Singapore you could see he was a different person." Explaining why Vettel struggled against Ricciardo, Horner said it wasn't because he'd gotten any slower, it was because he simply took time to adapt to the new regulations. "The rule changes were significant and the two guys who seem to have been affected most are Seb and Kimi [Raikkonen] and I think taking away the rear downforce has actually been a big factor for Sebastian. "How he generated his lap time was very much using the rear of the car on entry into the slower corners, which was much diminished this year, and that together with the brake-by-wire system had taken away some of the feeling of the braking that he is so dependent on."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09676http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09676Sauber confirm 2015 car has passed FIA crash testsFri, 19 Dec 2014 10:57:35 GMTSauber are the latest team to confirm that their 2015 chassis has passed the FIA's mandatory crash tests ahead of next season. The Sauber C34 is therefore homologated and able to participate in pre-season testing. A rule change in 2013 means all cars must be homologated before they can test, therefore it's imperative the tests are passed early. "Good news - The Sauber C34 chassis passed crash tests today and is FIA homologated," the team wrote on Twitter, adding: "Rear crash test will follow in January, as usual." McLaren was the first to pass the tests after confirming last week that it's new McLaren-Honda MP4-30 had undergone crash testing and passed. The first pre-season test is scheduled for February 1st at the Jerez circuit in Spain.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09675http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09675Hamilton loses his performance engineer to FerrariFri, 19 Dec 2014 10:49:53 GMTMercedes has confirmed that Lewis Hamilton's performance engineer, Jock Clear, will leave the team at the end of the year. Clear, who has worked alongside several drivers including Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher, was assigned to Hamilton when the Briton joined Mercedes in 2013. His departure has been the subject of much speculation for the past week, but a Mercedes spokesperson finally confirmed he would vacate his role with the team. "We thank Jock for his work and wish him well and all the best for the future." It's believed he will be heading to Ferrari to replace Pat Fry who, alongside Nikolas Tombazis and Hirohide Hamashima, are the latest engineers to lose their jobs at Maranello thanks to new team principal Maurizio Arrivabene's restucture. However Clear's contract prevents him starting at the Italian marque until 2016, therefore it's likely Ferrari will hope to bargain with Mercedes in order to get Clear working much sooner.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09674http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09674Force India gunning for Williams next seasonThu, 18 Dec 2014 17:29:34 GMTForce India are hopeful that the improvements they've already found and will find before the start of the 2015 season will be enough to see them chasing Williams. The outfit finished sixth in the standings with half Williams' total points tally, but technical director Andrew Green reckons they weren't that far behind over the course of 2014. "At the beginning of the season there was quite a big group of cars behind us and we looked quite tasty," he explained to Autosport. "What happened over the course of the season was that teams popped into that gap. "It looks like we've effectively gone backwards in the rankings, but our performance relative to the top guy hasn't really changed that much." Looking ahead to next year, Green is confident they can close up to Williams with the aerodynamic improvements they've found and the engine upgrades Mercedes will introduce. "Hopefully we can get up and at least be chasing Williams," he said. "That should really be where we're at, and I think we can do that with all the things we're putting in place for next year, and the windtunnel testing. "Mercedes are [also] doing a good job with the engine over the winter," he added. "We're very excited about what they're bringing for next year and what we've learned to add to next year's car. "I think we should be back where we were at the beginning of the season."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09673http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09673Ecclestone, Di Montezemolo reappointed to F1 boardThu, 18 Dec 2014 17:13:49 GMTBernie Ecclestone has been reappointed to the board of Formula 1's management group alongside ex-Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo. The 84-year-old was removed from the board when he was fighting bribery charges in Germany relating to the sale of the sport. With the charges being dropped following a $100 million settlement, F1's owner, CVC Capital Partners, agreed to reappoint Ecclestone and also confirmed he will continue in the role of Group CEO. Former Ferrari president Di Montezemolo has also been appointed to the board after losing his position as non-executive director - a position he held between 2012 and 2014 - after he was replaced at the Italian marque by Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne. Meanwhile former Diageo CEO, Paul Walsh, has taken up the position of non-executive director despite turning down an offer to become chairman of the board.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09672http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09672Hamashima the latest Ferrari engineer to leaveWed, 17 Dec 2014 16:18:00 GMTFollowing news that director of engineering Pat Fry and chief designer Nikolas Tombazis are to leave Ferrari, just 24 hours later, the Italian outfit has confirmed the departure of another engineer. Hirohide Hamashima, director of tyre development, will leave the team at the end of the year as part of new team principal Maurizio Arrivabene's restructure. The Japanese engineer previously worked for Bridgestone, but following their departure as F1's sole tyre supplier, joined Ferrari in 2012. "Ferrari announces that Hiroide Hamashima, currently responsible for tyre performance analysis, will leave the Scuderia at the end of the year," a statement confirmed.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09671http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09671Prost advice helped avoid war at Mercedes - WolffWed, 17 Dec 2014 13:51:50 GMTToto Wolff has revealed that advice from four-time champion Alain Prost helped to avoid 'all-out war' at Mercedes during the 2014 season. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg fell out following a spat in Monaco when a mistake from the German scuppered Hamilton's chance of securing pole. Things deteriorated further when the pair clashed at Spa-Francorchamps, leading to increased tensions within the team. To avoid a situation similar to Prost versus Ayrton Senna - the pair famously fell out when they were team-mates at McLaren - Wolff turned to Prost himself for advice. "You have to learn from past mistakes," Wolff told Autosprint. "I discussed it a bit with Niki Lauda when we signed Hamilton and Rosberg. "Then I was talking with Prost and I asked him his opinion about what I should do not to fall into the same all-out war situation he had with Ayrton. "Then he said the magic word — transparency," explained Wolff. "He told me that at the time McLaren did not act in a transparent way with the drivers. Perhaps because Senna was the last to arrive so he was the novelty. "Prost said that in the end he couldn't understand how the team was organised as disagreements and rivalries between the drivers spread to the mechanics. The team was split in two. "So Alain gave me very precise advice not to do the same. 'Put the two drivers on an even footing and tell everyone exactly the same things. Do not play favourites. It is the only way to contain the rivalry', he said. "And so I did. It was one of the most important lessons I have learned about becoming a good team leader."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09670http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09670Fry and Tombazis out in Ferrari technical reshuffleTue, 16 Dec 2014 19:02:32 GMTFerrari has confirmed yet more changes to its staff, this time within the technical department with the departure of director of engineering Pat Fry and chief designer Nikolas Tombazis. The pair will leave the company with immediate effect, with James Allison given the responsibility for 'track engineering activities' alongside his previous role of technical director. Chief designer Simone Resta and Mattia Binotto, power unit director, will sit under Allison and report directly to him. Lorenzo Sassi, chief power unit designer, will assist Binotto. Ferrari said the changes were implemented by new team principal Maurizio Arrivabene "within a few days from his arrival" and said the changes were made to give Ferrari "a flatter structure and clear assignment of responsibilities." The team has also made a change to its press office, with Alberto Antonini replacing Renato Bisignani who will now work within a new communications department.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09669http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09669Hamilton still believes Rosberg's 'mistake' was deliberateTue, 16 Dec 2014 16:48:52 GMTLewis Hamilton still believes that team-mate Nico Rosberg deliberately made a 'mistake' during qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix in a move he described as taking their battle "to another level". The German secured pole in Monaco after setting his flying lap before going off circuit and causing yellow flags whilst Hamilton was on his quick lap, forcing the Briton to back off. It was one of the tipping points in their relationship, with the Briton suspecting the 'mistake' was in fact deliberate, somewhat ending their friendship. "From Bahrain Nico did one thing, Barcelona I did one thing, and then Nico took it to another level in Monaco which definitely made it very difficult for us, for me [to trust him]," the 2014 champion told Sky Sports.  "Nothing has changed about my opinion of what happened [in Belgium]," he said of Rosberg's reported confession that he deliberately hit him, adding: "It is the same for Monaco. But it is cool because I am world champion now." Hamilton also addressed the rows in Bahrain and Spain where both used engine settings they weren't supposed to in order to overtake their team-mates. "The other side of the garage used a couple of the switches you are not allowed to use to enable him to get past [me in Bahrain]," he explained. "Then when we got to Barcelona a similar thing happened on my side of the garage, but it happened in a moment when we weren't particularly racing and later the engineers calculated everything and said it wouldn't have made any difference anyway, but it was still not allowed."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09668http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09668Ferrari announces deal with three Mexican sponsorsTue, 16 Dec 2014 16:32:07 GMTFerrari has announced a new sponsorship deal with Mexico's America Móvil Group which will see logos from three of its subsidiaries on the 2015 Ferrari. The deal comes a day after Ferrari announced that Mexican driver Esteban Gutierrez would join the team as their official reserve and test driver. Telmex, Telcel and Claro logos will feature on next years Ferrari and the overalls of its drivers, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Gutierrez. Previously, the three companies had sponsored Sauber, but they have followed Gutierrez to Ferrari, while Sauber is expected to confirm new Brazilian sponsors following Felipe Nasr's appointment.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09667http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09667Police discover Red Bull trophies dumped in lakeTue, 16 Dec 2014 16:00:20 GMTSome of the trophies stolen from Red Bull's Formula 1 factory on December 6th have been recovered from a lake in Sandhurst. Around 60 F1 trophies were stolen in a ram-raid during the early hours of the Saturday morning. Two vehicles using foreign number plates were involved, with one driving through the glass fronted entrance to gain access. Thames Valley Police have confirmed that around 20 of the stolen items were dumped in Horseshoe Lake in Sandhurst and have now been recovered, though some were damaged. "Some of the trophies were recovered from Horseshoe Lake near Sandhurst," said a spokesperson, adding: "We estimate about 20 trophies have been recovered, but we are liaising with Red Bull to establish the exact number as some of the trophies are damaged." Team principal Christian Horner thanked the police and the member of the public who spotted them. "It's good news that some of our trophies have been found and thanks to the police for all their help so far. The fact that some of the trophies were discarded in a lake and damaged shows how senseless this crime was. While the trophies mean an enormous amount to the team, their intrinsic value is low – and the extent of the damage that was caused to the factory by the offenders during the break-in was significant. "Hopefully we can get the trophies back to our factory where they belong and get replicas made of those that we can't. Thanks to everyone involved for their help so far." Thames Valley Police have asked that anyone with any information about the theft, or anyone who has come across trophies near the lake, call them on 101.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09666http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09666Haas to bid for Marussia's assets in auctionTue, 16 Dec 2014 09:55:02 GMTGene Haas says he's likely to bid for several items in Tuesday's Marussia asset auction which includes items ranging from shop machinery to their 2014 chassis. In total, around 2,000 items will be auctioned over three days from the team's Banbury base in order to raise funds to pay off its debts after it collapsed during the final races of the season. Haas is starting his own F1 team for the 2016 season, therefore getting his hands on some equipment and even Marussia's 2015 designs could prove vital in getting a head start. "We have got the Marussia auction list so I think we will be bidders for some of that stuff," he told the Guardian. However he won't be running his Haas F1 Team in the same was as the failed Caterham and Marussia projects, instead he hopes to capitalise on planned rule changes which will allow him to buy 'stock' parts at a far lower price than designing and manufacturing them himself. "If we did it the way Caterham and Marussia did it we would have the same result so I think we are going to do it differently," he added. "A lot of the teams in the UK build everything themselves. They seem to have this English mentality that this is the way it has to be done and that is just not our business model at all." Meanwhile, Haas is also hoping to base half of his staff in the UK where they will be in charge of race preparation, whilst design will take place in North Carolina in a new purpose built facility opposite his Nascar outfit.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09665http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09665Ten memorable moments from the 2014 F1 seasonMon, 15 Dec 2014 19:41:10 GMTWhat a wonderful season 2014 was. Some may say it was yet another display of dominance from a single team, but oh boy did they provide some entertainment along the way, both on and off the track. Not only did we have a great championship battle, albeit between two, there were some quite amazing moments throughout the 19-race season. Far too many to list here. That's why we've provided our top ten... Ricciardo's home podium...not quite He came so close, but it seems it wasn't meant to be. Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo finished second in Australia. His first race for the Bulls and he stood atop the second step of the podium, basking in the glory which came aplenty from his local fans. Yet hours later, he was stripped of the result and sent to the naughty step for using too much fuel. A sad day for Ricciardo, but he'd get that first podium a little later in the year, plus a few wins to go with it! Gutierrez goes for a spin Oh Pastor Maldonado, the entertainment you provide never ceases to amaze. The Lotus driver was at it again, this time the target was Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez. As the Venezuelan (often known by his first name, Crashtor) exited the pit lane, he decided Gutierrez's car would look better upside down. He succeeded in his private mission. Floodlit battle in the desert Bahrain isn't often included in a list of memorable moments. But 2014 was different. In fact *shock horror* it features twice in our list! An epic battle broke out for the lead of the race between eventual winner Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg and it was awesome to watch. More of that in 2015, please. Massa grabs an Austrian pole No, the Brazilian hadn't hit up one of Spielberg's strip bars, he'd actually gone and stuck his brilliant Williams FW36 on pole position, confirming that not only has the Grove outfit designed a stunning piece of machinery - often the only car which came close to challenging Mercedes - but Felipe Massa was back and he meant business. Who needs Ferrari, eh? (Fernando Alonso agrees it seems). Did he, or didn't he? Surely not. Would he dare? No. Maybe he did though. That little ****! That was what was running through Lewis Hamilton's mind immediately after he learned that Nico Rosberg had stopped just off circuit during qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix, robbing the Briton of a pole fight. Rosberg's mistake (or quick thinking) secured him pole and, as everyone knows, if you're on pole in Monaco, you've already won the race. Two's company, three's a crowd Not much needs to be said about this. Just look at the photo. That's a Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Alonso sandwich. Or, look at it this way, that's seven titles battling it out for the same piece of tarmac (asphalt for our American readers).  0800-Speedy-Repair If you enjoy watching men repair things, then the 2014 British Grand Prix is for you! We'd barely completed five corners when Kimi Raikkonen thought he was back in rallying and chose the scenic route across the grass. Sadly, like many of his rally's, this ended the same way, though instead of hitting a tree, it was a big shiny metal barrier. Fans then witnessed a live barrier repair which took just under an hour and it was thrilling. In all honesty though, big congratulations to the repair team, it would take the highway agency at least three weeks. Handbags out at Silverstone We loved this moment for three reasons. Firstly, Vettel versus Alonso always pleases. The pair were wheel-to-wheel for several laps. It was made better, however, by the team radio. "You did it. No you did. I'm telling Mum." That's basically what happened when they screamed over the radio that one was running wide, only for the other to say exactly the same. Thirdly (sorry, UK viewers only), Christian Horner was commenting live on the whole drama and the eventual overtake. You did that on purpose! If Hamilton was unsure whether Rosberg's Monaco off was done on purpose, he wasn't in the same situation when the German made contact in Belgium. Why? Because Rosberg reportedly admitted to Hamilton that he wanted them to make contact to teach him a lesson. You've got to admit, Rosberg has some balls. Sadly, he was later castrated by Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda and his championship began to fall apart from then on. #ForzaJules Finally, our last memorable moment is an important one. One that shouldn't ever be forgotten. That of Jules Bianchi's crash in Japan. The Frenchman continues to fight for his life, but is gradually improving, though the road to a full recovery is long and far from certain. All we can do is continue to send our wishes and keep Bianchi in our memories.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09664http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09664Hamilton: 'I want another seven years in Formula 1'Mon, 15 Dec 2014 17:11:50 GMTLewis Hamilton is only half way through his Formula 1 career, if he gets his way, after declaring that he'd like to remain in the sport for another seven years. The Briton made his rookie debut in 2007 and came within a single point of securing the title. However he had to wait until his second year in the sport to become a champion - something he is currently reliving after securing his second this year. He's hoping to stick around for a lot longer though and he hopes to taste more success before he hangs up his racing gloves. "I feel like I've got another seven years in F1," he told BBC Sport following his victory at the Sports Personality of the Year awards on Sunday where he beat golfer Rory Mcllroy by more than 85,000 votes. "That's the goal," he added. "I got the first title in 2008 and now a second title, so the sky is the limit from here. I've just got to keep pushing." Another seven years would make Hamilton 36, a year older than the grid's oldest driver, Kimi Raikkonen at 35 who will be team-mates with Sebastian Vettel, 27, at Ferrari next year.  http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09663http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09663F1 to launch official YouTube channel next yearMon, 15 Dec 2014 16:38:26 GMTFormula 1 is hoping to become more online friendly next season with the launch of a new YouTube channel as well as other improvements in the world of social media. But race fans shouldn't get too excited just yet. Bernie Ecclestone has already confirmed that it won't show race footage...at least not for a while. The 84-year-old has long dismissed social media as "useless", but it hasn't stopped the sport forming a team of eight to explore potential uses which has already seen massive improvements to F1's Twitter feed. Before 2013, the @F1 account only posted links to its own online content, but throughout 2014 it expanded that to race data, statistics and even race images. The official mobile app now includes exclusive video content from behind the scenes, and it's this content that is likely to be shared on the new YouTube channel. "What we currently have on the app in terms of video content is the behind the scenes stuff so the interviews in the drivers' pen, that kind of extra content," confirmed Marissa Pace, F1's digital media manager. Alongside YouTube, they hope to launch a Facebook page as well as redesigning the official website and expanding the mobile app to give fans a greater online experience. However the failure to include even race highlights will leave the majority of fans unhappy with the offering. Showing race content online is something Ecclestone is keen to stop from happening as, according to him, it doesn't make FOM any money. "If it works, the whole point about this I believe, is to encourage people to watch television," explained Ecclestone. "I'm not sure, and I have always thought 'does it actually do that' and I don't know. So probably in a year's time I shall be looking for figures to see what has happened."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09662http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09662Gutierrez joins Ferrari as test and reserve driverMon, 15 Dec 2014 15:59:16 GMTOusted Sauber driver Esteban Gutierrez has joined Ferrari as their official test and reserve driver for the 2015 season, the Italian team confirmed on Monday. The Mexican has driven Ferrari powered cars for two seasons in F1 with Sauber, but was dropped ahead of next season in favour of Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson. However he won't be missing from the paddock entirely after joining Ferrari where he will "be put to good use in the area of car development," and as a reserve driver should Kimi Raikkonen or Sebastian Vettel find themselves unable to race. "While confirming our full confidence in a formidable race driver pairing, made up of four times World Champion Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, a past champion with Ferrari, I am pleased to welcome Esteban Gutierrez," commented new team principal Maurizio Arrivabene. "We are pleased to be able to offer this opportunity to Esteban who, although young, has plenty of experience relating to the new generation of Formula 1 cars. I am sure that, with his experience, he will make an important contribution to the development work of the team in the simulator. "Welcoming Esteban also means opening the gates of Ferrari to a driver from Mexico, a country where the Scuderia still has a lot of fans, just as was the case fifty years ago in the days of the Rodriguez brothers." Speaking about his position, the 23-year-old added: "It is an honour to become part of the Scuderia Ferrari family, a Team with such an exceptional history. "It is for me the beginning of a new path for my future and I'm going to do my utmost to contribute to the achievement of the targets set by the Scuderia. I want to thank everybody for their belief in my potential; this will bring a great opportunity for me to develop further and get to the top in the near future. With all my passion and dedication, I’m now looking forward to the start of this new venture."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09661http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09661Ferrari urges team to 'embrace change and attack'Mon, 15 Dec 2014 12:30:24 GMTFerrari's new chairman Sergio Marchionne has told his team to embrace change as the Scuderia goes through a restructure in the hope they can return to the front in Formula 1. The team has ousted former chairman Luca di Montezemolo, replaced team principal Marco Mattiacci after just eight months with Maurizio Arrivabene, formerly of Phillip Morris. As well as technical changes within the team, Sebastian Vettel has arrived to replace Fernando Alonso, amounting to huge changes at the Italian outfit ahead of the 2015 season. Marchionne though has told his staff during a Christmas party not to fear change and to instead embrace it and have faith in the team's new leadership. "In this room, there are many very talented people," he said. "I am here to get you working at your best and to give you the necessary resources, which when combined with your ability will put our fantastic driver pairing in a position to fight for the front row. "That's why I decided to bring in Maurizio Arrivabene, who will ensure that you and Ferrari will benefit from very efficient leadership. "I have full confidence in Maurizio. He has known this world for a long time and has the ability to steer the Scuderia in what is a difficult period for it and for Formula 1 in general. "Do not fear change, be proactive and have the courage to come up with ideas. I know you can do it and that's what Ferrari needs." Arrivabene also spoke during the event and urged his team to first enjoy the Christmas break, but to come back fired up and ready to attack. "I am very proud to work for this company, which is the best there is," said Arrivabene. "A company is its people and in this case, they are special people. "Now we are here to look forward to Christmas, but as from January, I want to see you not on the defensive but on the attack, because the aim is to get the Scuderia back where it should be."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09660http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09660Steve Nielsen joins Williams from Toro RossoMon, 15 Dec 2014 09:21:40 GMTSteve Nielsen has joined the Williams F1 Team as sporting director following his resignation from Toro Rosso just last week, where he held the same position. The British engineer will be "responsible for the overall management and operation of the race team specifically relating to sporting matters and ensuring the compliance and implementation of these directives," according to the team. Nielsen has been with Toro Rosso since 2013. He joined from Caterham but has previously worked at Tyrrell, Honda and Arrows in a career spanning 27 years. "I'm delighted to be joining a team of Williams' history and stature in what is a very exciting time for everyone at Grove after a very impressive 2014 season," he said of his appointment. "In this role I will be able to help ensure that our operations at the race track are maintaining the highest standards and that we are maximising our performance at the race track from a sporting perspective. Williams’ has a very talented team of people and I’m looking forward to working with them." Chief technical officer Pat Symonds added: "Steve brings a wealth of experience of the sporting side of Formula One and will help us as a team as we aim to climb further up the Championship table. He has won World Championships in the past and knows what needs to be done on a sporting level for Williams to do this again. "We have a talented and ever improving race team and with Steve on board we are well placed to make further operational gains next season."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09659http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09659Hamilton named Sports Personality of the YearSun, 14 Dec 2014 22:39:43 GMTLewis Hamilton was crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year during Sunday's award ceremony in Glasgow, despite golfer Rory Mcllory heading into the public vote as favourite. The 2014 Formula 1 World Champion narrowly missed out on the award in his rookie season in 2007 and his first championship winning season in 2008. He came runner-up both times. "I am so speechless. I was really not expecting this. I'm so honoured to be among such amazing athletes." Hamilton becomes the fifth racing driver to win the award alongside Damon Hill (1994, 1996), Nigel Mansell (1986, 1992), Stirling Moss (1961) and Sir Jackie Stewart (1973). "I could not have done this without my amazing team, my family, my dad who once had four jobs to help me, my brother. I've been incredibly inspired by them," he continued. "Thank you to all the fans. I always say we win and lose together because I feel your love. I feel so proud to carry the Union flag and hope I will continue to make you proud."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09658http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09658McLaren's unfinished businessSun, 14 Dec 2014 16:39:50 GMTFinally the white smoke emitted from the chimney. Well, not quite. But the prevarication had been much commented on. The matter being McLaren and its drivers for next season, which at last has been confirmed. As is often so with F1 ‘announcements’, even a highly momentous one such as this, that Fernando Alonso is Woking-bound was well known for weeks. But the other part, that Jenson Button is to be retained in the other race seat at the expense of Kevin Magnussen, was until hours before it became official a genuine surprise. Magnussen instead has to be content with being kept in cold storage as a reserve and tester, at least for a season. On the latter part it was clear what the bulk of the fans and media, at least in English-speaking circles, preferred. Again for the weeks in advance many media figures expressed exasperation that Button looked like being ditched while various website polls and social media gauges had the Englishman winning hands-down in the consideration. For all that the apparent delay in confirming was framed by many as mere indecision on McLaren’s part, it wasn’t nearly as simple as that. Team boss Ron Dennis admitted as much at the announcement, though even therein there was likely a little spin in his claims that it was down to the possibility of three-car teams and not wanting to destabilise the squad in the year’s latter part. Instead it probably more reflected that Dennis’s position in the team was a moving target as his attempts to attract sponsors and investment to fund his buying of a controlling stake continue (word was that Dennis, and racing director Eric Boullier, preferred Magnussen but other senior figures in the team backed Button). The grapevine has him been given a month’s extension in this task. But still, the lack of decision was good news for Button, relatively at least. As mid-season rumour was that he was out of McLaren definitely, even if Alonso didn’t arrive. Even by the year’s end when it became clear that with Alonso indeed on his way in and that one race drive remained – and with Button apparently driving as well as ever, certainly well ahead of Magnussen – the assumption remained that Button was the one out. Both Jenson and Kevin at this point screamed in their demeanours of knowing their fates – Jenson reflective and demob happy; Kevin having the assurance of one who knew he was staying where he was. Dennis however commented on the day of the driver confirmation that it was a conversation after the Abu Dhabi race that convinced him finally that Jenson had the hunger to remain and to, as he put it, ‘kick Fernando’s butt’.  Even ignoring all of this though the Button-Magnussen decision wasn’t close to being the no brainer that plenty were suggesting. Indeed it was a classic here-and-now versus future potential conundrum. The one that stumps those in all walks of life and not just F1. For this reason I had more sympathy for the Woking team than many did. Both drivers could make a compelling case for being retained; whoever they chose would result in regret for the one that missed out. No wonder Dennis described his decision as ‘painful’. I’m glad it wasn’t my decision. Ordinarily too it is the future potential that is preferred, but in McLaren’s case again it wasn’t that simple. In the peculiar situation Button offered many benefits: experience of Honda, links to Japan including a Japanese other half, greater ability to develop a brand new power unit, greater marketability etc etc. There’s also the fact that he trounced his young team mate on points this year, with the gap especially stark in the late races, and even pipped him in the qualifying match-up.  And in the here and now if you were to hand pick someone to drive alongside one such as Alonso then Jenson likely is the one you’d pick. I recall one team principal talking of there being two types of racing driver – those that like to win and those that have to win, and that the ideal is to have one of each rather than two of either. And Button probably remains the best out there among the ‘like to win’ category. Furthermore, such is his personality there will be no boat-rocking on the inevitable days that he is beaten. He won’t be far off his haughty stable mate over the piece and will rack up a gluttonous load of points into the bargain. Just as he did alongside Lewis Hamilton at McLaren for three seasons. The oft-repeated fact that Jenson out-scored Lewis over that time while true has a little bit of the lies, damned lies and statistics about it, given it owed a lot of Lewis’s annus horribilis in 2011 as well as his wretched luck in 2012. But still that Jenson was close enough to take advantage (and he never was far away, as mentioned) reflects well on him. No wonder Ferrari tested the temperature of the water in 2011 on the possibility of him partnering Nando at the Scuderia.  But still Magnussen in 2014 had much of the rough diamond about him. There was clearly a lot for him to learn, particularly in managing the tyres as well as keeping on the right side of the stewards, but there was raw pace on show plenty of times and it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think that with polishing there is a very good F1 driver in there. Certainly there was enough on show in his debut season for him not to be given up on. But while all have put a brave face on matters it cannot be denied that this is a clear demotion for Kevin. Perhaps even a snub. The vast majority of top level sports careers exist on fast forward; F1 careers as much as most. Even an extended glittering one will be over within the space of time many of us spend in education before we’ve so much as got our first proper job. But even with this Magnussen’s journey has been astonishingly breakneck. Back in March in Melbourne he had firm next-big-thing status. But before long doubts started to swirl. By the second half of the season some spoke of him as a busted flush. Now, but nine months on from his Albert Park star is born moment, he’s out.  And while I’ve seen more than one draw a parallel between what the Dane faces in 2015 with Alonso having a year as a tester in 2002, a crucial difference between then and now is that then there was unlimited testing. Indeed back in the early-to-mid noughties a full-time testing role in a top team was in fact preferred to many race drives further down the grid. Certainly it was preferred to a junior formula seat. In addition to the Spaniard Vettel, Massa and Kubica all exploited this path. No one would choose it now. The role is big on simulators (which aren’t quite the same), straight line tests, PR work and otherwise thumb-twiddling. I recall having a conversation with one ‘third’ driver, and one at a very competitive team, and he barely could conceal his sheer frustration that he simply had very little to do. In times past too McLaren might have been able to parachute Kevin into a friendly team further down the grid on loan. But now with only nine teams operating and pay drivers prevalent there was nowhere for Kevin to go.  His subsequent tweet with a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger (‘I’ll be back’ the inference), stating ‘Never Give Up On The Dream’, was ostensibly defiant but came with a hint of sadness too. And despite the emolliating of those such as Dennis getting back in might not be easy. Winning an F1 race seat is difficult at the best of times; doing it as one previously discarded is even more so. Perhaps too come next year it will be harder still, as with another McLaren protégée Stoffel Vandoorne getting another crack at GP2, and looking well-placed to be champion, McLaren might find itself with a three into one doesn’t go situation. That’s without even considering the other candidates from elsewhere that might emerge. But while it’s rare there have been examples, even recent ones, of a ditched driver working their way back in. Romain Grosjean springs to mind most readily. This hope is what Kevin must cling to. But with the surprise in the driver announcement attention was rather taken away from what ordinarily would have been rather a seismic event. Something that only a Dodo flying past the McLaren Technology Centre would for most of the seven years between times have elicited more surprise than. Yes, even after their notorious 2007 year together Fernando Alonso and McLaren – and more to the point Fernando Alonso and Ron Dennis – are back as an item. At the announcement Fernando spoke of unfinished business at Woking: ‘It was not the best feeling in 2007.’ he said. ‘But in all the years since, inside I only had one thing remaining in Formula 1 to do. I was happy with everything I have done apart from 2007. I didn't achieve or deliver the best of myself. Now I arrive to finish the job that I started in 2007. This was the first and the main priority to come back.’ And it shouldn’t be a shock. For all that Alonso talked to the good talk while at Ferrari (and I’m not suggesting for a moment that it was disingenuous) back in his formative days it was not Maranello but McLaren that he dreamt of. As an illustration apparently after winning kart races he would step out and ask his awaiting Dad in part-jest ‘Has Ron Dennis called yet?’ Perhaps his repeated reminders on Twitter lately to ‘remember why you started’ were trying to tell us something too. A picture posted on the eve of the confirmation, of one of his first karts painted in McLaren’s Marlboro colours, wasn’t entirely subtle. Of course there will be those rubbing hands at this, assuming that it will all implode like it did last time. The two combustible personalities will spark each other off, almost inevitably. And after all, were not Dennis and Alonso similarly beaming eight years ago when they hooked up then? But one sense emerging from Woking at the same time, particularly from Dennis, was that the narrative that has been prevalent of McLaren, Alonso, 2007 and all that might be at the very least simplistic. For this I’m glad, as I’ve always been slightly suspicious of the common thread presented of that season. The one of goodies and baddies seemed a bit too straightforward for me. Reality rarely is so one-way – as Oscar Wilde noted ‘the truth is rarely pure and never simple’. And even now we’ve never really heard Alonso’s side of things, not beyond vague references anyway, and as we are often reminded there are two sides to every story.  ‘By and large those challenges that you have between drivers…we’ve always managed to be able to diffuse. But this one got away from me’ Dennis said on the same subject, ‘and I look back on my contribution to that with exactly the same emotion that Fernando expressed, which is you regret the mistakes you make in your life and sometimes you can’t change what’s happened. ‘So could I have engineered a way out of it? I could probably have done things better…’ Intriguingly too Dennis added: "If you go on the 'who struck the first blow' route, actually I would say that Lewis (Hamilton, Alonso’s then team-mate) had his role to play in starting this process which escalated." You could of course say Dennis would say that, given of the three Lewis is the only one not now in McLaren’s employ. But still, stating that it was a situation that all involved didn’t cover themselves in glory, and could have handled better, just somehow felt a bit more plausible to me. We probably even now don’t have a full sense of what went on in Woking that year, but I felt that last Thursday we got slightly closer. Perhaps too it’s all not such a Damascene conversion, as even within the raucous latter part of 2007 there were some signs of a thawing in the Dennis-Alonso cold war. We all know Dennis’s quote from around about then of Alonso that ‘competitive animals know no limits’. According to James Allen – one of the few in the room when this was said – contrary to common assumption Dennis’s tone in saying it was one of admiration rather than disgust. Reportedly too Alonso while on the way out of the McLaren exit door turned and expressed regret that things had not worked out much better, and that he’d not handled things differently. ‘We share this obsession with winning’ said Dennis at the announcement. ‘Fernando never gives up and I never give up.’ It gives rise to the possibility that last time rather than being too disparate, Dennis and Alonso were in fact too similar. And Dennis noted that if nothing else time is a great healer: ‘In Formula 1 seven weeks is a lifetime – seven years is a huge amount of time’ he said. Alonso too took a similar line: ‘Now, some years later, you are more mature, you learn things, you understand things you didn't know at 25 years old.’ Dennis went on defiantly too: ‘I know the media will be looking for any kind of fracture in any part of the team's relationship, and especially Fernando and I. But I can tell you you'll be wasting your time. It isn't an issue.’ Perhaps those predicting doom are right? That it’ll all implode again, with the resultant rubble providing a permanent memorial to the folly of all involved. But at Woking last week things somehow felt a bit different this time. Moreover now possibly for the first time since 2012 there is an unmistakable sense of a McLaren team with a pulse. And on paper the pieces, all of whom are proven quantities, look formidable: McLaren, Honda, Dennis, Boullier, Alonso, Button, Peter Prodromou. There might even be a title sponsor, perhaps Movistar, about to be confirmed too if rumours are to be believed. Now all must begin the task of assembling the pieces successfully, though in F1 it usually is a task easier said than done. It also tends not to be the work of a moment. We remain very much at the end of the beginning rather than the beginning of the end. In truth too, come Melbourne next March even if things go swimmingly the outfit is unlikely to look entirely like Mercedes. But for Dennis and the rest the reality might be more encouraging. As it appears to have given itself its best chance in a while of, finally, beginning to look like McLaren.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09657http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09657Verstappen chooses #33 as his driver numberSat, 13 Dec 2014 00:36:14 GMTMax Verstappen has chosen to race with the number 33 after confirming his choice ahead of his debut season in Formula 1. The 17-year-old joins Toro Rosso alongside Carlos Sainz Jr who will race with #55. The pair will be the youngest team-mates on the grid with a combined age of just 37, compared to McLaren's Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button at 67. Verstappen confirmed his permanent number choice on Twitter, revealing that he'd used the number when racing as a junior. "So guys I'm ready to announce my number for next season," he wrote. "Did take a while to decide but I have chosen it now. "Since I was a young kid I was racing around with this number. So I thought it is nice to keep that in F1 as well! #33." Since I was a young kid I was racing around with this number.So I thought it is nice to keep that in F1 aswell! #33 pic.twitter.com/flGS253ohV — Max Verstappen (@MaxVerstappen3) December 12, 2014 http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09656http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09656McLaren-Honda MP4-30 passes FIA crash testsSat, 13 Dec 2014 00:28:43 GMTMcLaren are the first team to confirm that their 2015 car, the MP4-30, has passed all the necessary FIA crash tests ahead of next season. The Woking outfit is relaunching a partnership with Honda as it looks to return to the front of the grid and this latest news will be welcome relief for the team. Last year, the MP4-29 failed its initial tests and the team were forced to change parts of the design at the last minute. It only passed the tests three days before pre-season testing was due to kick-off in January. As part of stricter testing rules, all FIA crash tests must be completed and passed before the car can partake in testing, therefore McLaren's 2015 challenger is already cleared to take part in the very first test in early-February- though the team are yet to confirm their plans.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09655http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09655Korea and Qatar unlikely to happen - EcclestoneFri, 12 Dec 2014 16:06:10 GMTTwo proposed events - Korea and Qatar - are unlikely to happen according to Bernie Ecclestone, despite the former having been included on the provisional 2015 calendar. The latter meanwhile has been touted as potentially taking place in 2017 as Qatar looks to add another worldwide event to its sporting calendar alongside the World Cup and World Athletic Championships. Ecclestone has however revealed that Korea had a contract to miss just one year before returning to the calendar, therefore their addition was for contractual purposes. But with the race organisers keen to avoid the costs associated with hosting the event, it's unlikely it will actually happen. "They would rather it not happen," explained Ecclestone. "We have a contract with Korea... we have to put it on the calendar. If we hadn't have done they could have sued us. "We let them off for a year on the understanding they would be back," he added. Meanwhile Qatar would require permission from Bahrain to join the calendar as the Bahraini's can veto any further races in the Gulf. Such an agreement looks unlikely, after Bahrain allowed the race in Abu Dhabi to go ahead giving the region two races. "I explained to them [Abu Dhabi] the position that I was in and said you'd better ask the people in Bahrain if they are happy. If they are happy, I'm happy. If not, we won't. So they got together and that's what happened.   "Then this other race [Qatar] has been proposed and I put the same people together and said 'Can you sort this out between you?' and they haven't managed to do it."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09654http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09654Honda getting to the bottom of engine troublesFri, 12 Dec 2014 15:30:37 GMTMcLaren and Honda are getting to the bottom of the power unit issues which plagued their first official test in Abu Dhabi at the end of November. Stoffel Vandoorne only managed three complete laps over two days as various electrical problems forced the team to remain in the garage. Speaking on Thursday, racing director Eric Boullier insisted that the two companies were working hard to resolve the problems, adding that a recovery plan has been put in place to ensure they don't suffer the same fate during pre-season testing next year. "They worked hard for a week, found out everything, and a recovery plan is in place," explained Boullier. "It was not only one problem. There were hardware issues that made the wrong software codes, so we had to first find out what was wrong in the hardware system to fix the software system. "Part of it has already been fixed, there are now some further tests on dynos to validate." The outfit hasn't ruled out using up another of its filming days prior to the 2015 season to ensure the changes have had the desired effect.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09653http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09653Ecclestone still pushing for return to V8 enginesFri, 12 Dec 2014 09:57:04 GMTBernie Ecclestone has thrown his support behind Red Bull's Christian Horner who is calling for the sport to switch back to V8 or V10 engines in 2016. The 84-year-old addressed the media this week and told them that he believes going back to the old engines with some form of energy recovery system would be good for the sport and the teams. "We can all put our money together and have a wager that Mercedes will win the championship next year which is not really the sort of thing we are looking for," said Ecclestone. "I have been proposing and am going to propose that we go back to a normally aspirated engine with some hybrid bits built into it. "People have built these racing engines and anyone that is currently building the engines we currently have, it would be a bit of a dream for them to build a normally aspirated engine and develop it to about 1000 horsepower which is what I believe we want. "The manufacturers will have to call it a 'McLaren hybrid', 'Ferrari hybrid' or a 'Williams hybrid' so that it will get across the message," heexplained. "They are hybrids now but nobody tells anybody. It's the best-kept secret actually. What this engine is for. What was it designed for and what have we achieved? It is a fantastic bit of engineering." In fact, Mercedes are the only team marketing the energy recovery aspect after renaming their car the W05 Hybrid. They are also the only manufacturer pushing to retain the current V6 power unit and could leave the sport if a change is imposed, but that doesn't concern Ecclestone much. "I think they will do that [leave] whenever it suits them anyway because we have noticed in the past the manufacturers do that but I would be surprised if they did." The matter is due to be brought up at the next Strategy Group meeting where it will be voted on. Ecclestone revealed that only four teams need to back the proposal to give it a majority of the vote. "Well we [FOM] have six votes so if we have four teams want to do that that's ten. There's 18 votes so that's the majority." http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09652http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09652Button, Alonso on 'multi-year' deals confirms DennisThu, 11 Dec 2014 12:57:50 GMTMcLaren's Ron Dennis has hailed their 2015 driver line-up, consisting of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, as "the best on the grid". During a media event on Thursday, the British team unveiled the pairing for 2015 and beyond after confirming that both have signed multi-year contracts. It's believed Alonso has signed for three years, though his contract contains performance clauses which would allow him to leave earlier if McLaren-Honda fail to deliver. Button meanwhile has signed a two year deal, rather than a single season which many had expected - something Dennis confirmed he pushed for. "I am absolutely delighted to be on the threshold of leading McLaren-Honda to a new era of partnership, and I speak on behalf of all at McLaren when I say that. I am equally confident that our colleagues at Honda share that determination and passion to win," said Dennis on Thursday. "As regards drivers, McLaren's policy has always been to assemble the strongest line-up possible, and in Fernando and Jenson I firmly believe that is exactly what we have. "We signed Fernando a little while ago, but we decided not to announce the fact until we had also re-signed Jenson as his team-mate. For many reasons our negotiations with Jenson took quite a long time, but, now that they have been concluded, we are confident that our collaboration with him will continue to thrive in the future every bit as well as it has in the past." He firmly believes the experienced pairing, which have started a combined 500 races, is the best in the sport at present. "I can safely say, therefore, that we now have by an order of magnitude the best driver line-up of any current Formula 1 team. "Finally, I want to thank and pay tribute to Kevin, who has done a great job this season and will continue to be an integral part of our team. He will be our test, reserve and third driver, and remains an excellent prospect for the future."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09651http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09651Button grateful for opportunity to race against AlonsoThu, 11 Dec 2014 11:22:21 GMTJenson Button has thanked McLaren for keeping him on for at least another season after they came close to dropping him in favour of Kevin Magnussen. The Britain will partner Fernando Alonso as he heads into his 16th season and he is relishing the opportunity to go up against such a quick and highly respected driver. "I am extremely excited to be embarking on my 16th year in Formula 1 and my sixth season for McLaren," said the 34-year-old. "Like Fernando, I am certain that McLaren and Honda will achieve great things together, and I feel sure that, working together, all of us will pull incredibly hard to create a brilliantly effective winning team," he added. "Being a part of new-look McLaren-Honda is a wonderful opportunity for all of us, and I am very pleased to have been invited to do my bit. In fact, I am absolutely raring to go. "I am very much looking forward to having a driver as fast and as experienced as Fernando as my team-mate. I am sure we will work extremely well together." Finally, Button made reference to Kevin Magnussen who will take up a reserve driver role: "I am also very glad that Kevin will remain part of the team. He is a very quick driver and a really nice guy."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09650http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09650Alonso: 'I know it might take time before we win'Thu, 11 Dec 2014 10:53:44 GMTFernando Alonso will return to the team he famously fell out with in 2007, but he is more determined than ever to make things a success this time. The Spaniard will partner Jenson Button at McLaren for 2015 to lead the Woking team into a new era as a works team with Honda as its exclusive engine supplier. Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, he noted that success won't be instant, but it's not something he's concerned about at present despite rumours he has agreed 'performance clauses' in his contract. "I am joining this project with enormous enthusiasm and determination, knowing that it may require some time to achieve the results we are aiming for, which is no problem for me," said the two-time champion. "Over the past year I have received several offers, some of them really tempting, given the current performance of some of the teams that showed interest. But, more than a year ago, McLaren-Honda contacted me and asked me to take part, in a very active way, in the return of their partnership – a partnership that dominated the Formula 1 scene for so long. "McLaren-Honda's repeated and open desire, perseverance and determination in making it possible for me to join their exciting renewed partnership, have been some of the main factors that made me take this decision, not forgetting the most important factor of all: we share a common objective and expectations, and there is a very solid future, with confidence, ahead." Alonso revealed that he agreed the move from Ferrari over a year ago and has therefore had time to familiarise himself with the team and their new partner, Honda. "I have had in-depth discussions with all the senior people at both McLaren and Honda, I have viewed their fantastic facilities in both the UK and Japan, and it is clear to me that, together, McLaren and Honda are in the process of beginning what is sure to be a long and successful partnership. And I intend to give 100% effort to help make it exactly that. "Finally, I want to thank the persistence of those who have fought so hard for this to come true. I will do everything in my power to deliver for everyone and for our team, based on a formula that has always worked for me: effort, sacrifice, perseverance and faith. "We have time, we have hopes and we have the necessary resources. Let the legend return: that is our challenge."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09649http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09649Official: Button to partner Alonso at McLaren-HondaThu, 11 Dec 2014 10:31:19 GMTIt has been confirmed, after weeks of waiting, that Jenson Button will team up with Fernando Alonso at McLaren-Honda for the 2015 season. Whilst the news that Alonso will return to Woking has been well-known - but unconfirmed - for a couple of months now, news about his team-mate has been a well kept secret, partly due to the fact a decision was only made this week. McLaren had been weighing up whether to retain Button or rookie Kevin Magnussen as they head into a new era with Honda as their exclusive engine supplier. It's widely believed that both Ron Dennis and Eric Boullier had thrown their support behind Magnussen, whilst McLaren's shareholders wanted to keep the 2009 World Champion. It would therefore seem that the board have either convinced Dennis to agree to their way of thinking, or they've overruled the company's chairman. Magnussen meanwhile will be retained as the team's test and reserve driver and therefore is a potential candidate for a race seat in 2016. "I'm very much looking forward to having a driver as fast and experienced as Fernando as team-mate. Sure we will work extremely well together," said Button during the announcement. Alonso added: "I am joining this project with enormous enthusiasm and determination, knowing that it may require some time to achieve the results we are aiming for, which is no problem for me." Dennis meanwhile hailed the pairing as the best in the sport: "I can safely say that we now have, by an order of magnitude, the best driver line-up of any current Formula 1 team in Alonso and Button."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09648http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09648McLaren to announce driver line-up on Thursday?Wed, 10 Dec 2014 13:57:14 GMTMcLaren's driver line-up announcement for the 2015 season looks set to finally be confirmed on Thursday following several delays. The team has scheduled "an important and exclusive" media event at their Woking factory tomorrow where it's believed they will confirm Fernando Alonso alongside either Jenson Button or Kevin Magnussen. McLaren is the only team on the grid to not have confirmed who will be driving either of its cars next season. It's widely believed the team will unveil new sponsors alongside its drivers, with speculation linking Spain's Movistar with a potential title sponsor role following Alonso's return. The event is scheduled to begin mid-morning and we'll bring you all the news as it happens.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09647http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09647Williams are proof that big budgets aren't neededWed, 10 Dec 2014 12:01:28 GMTWilliams believe they're proof that huge budgets aren't needed to succeed in Formula 1 following their successful 2014 season. The British team finished third in the Constructors' Championship this season behind Mercedes and Red Bull, but crucially ahead of long-time rival Ferrari. Deputy team principal Claire Williams says that's a huge achievement for an outfit which has a budget of around £100 million compared to Ferrari which is nearer £200m, and proves that money isn't necessarily everything. "For us, from where we were last season, it's such an amazing achievement against the likes of Ferrari which is operating on a budget twice the size of ours," she said. "That's such an achievement and, for me, that says everything that we need to say around all of the conversations going on at the moment," she added in regards to the various meetings between Lotus, Force India and Sauber about how F1's prize money is distributed. Williams also addressed recent comments from Ron Dennis after he stated that a customer team has almost no chance of competing for the championship when going up against manufacturer teams, hence McLaren's switch to Honda power next year. "We have a great engine supplier in Mercedes and we're lucky to have a great relationship with them. At the moment that works but if an engine manufacturer came in and talked to us, why wouldn't you have that conversation? Of course you would. "I know there have been comments in the press recently saying you can't survive unless you've got that backing, it's totally not correct. We've survived for many years - in fact for all our time in Formula One - without having an engine manufacturer solely looking after us and there's no reason we can't continue to do that."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09646http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09646Red Bull fear gap to Mercedes will increase in '15Tue, 09 Dec 2014 22:11:35 GMTRed Bull aren't expecting to challenge Mercedes dominance next season and even believe the gap at the front might increase. The German outfit secured both titles in style in 2014 after trouncing the competition, partly thanks to a better performing engine than its rivals, Renault and Ferrari. Rumours abounding the paddock suggest Mercedes has found even more performance from the hybrid-V6 which has left Red Bull team principal Christian Horner fearing that the competition could be left behind again. "We are not writing off next year but, for sure, there is a gap there," said Horner. "And, from what we hear, the performance gains that Mercedes are bringing next year, it is going to be a massive challenge to reduce that "Renault can make an inroad but I think it would be unlikely to match this year's [Mercedes] engine." Speculation suggests Mercedes has found between 50bhp and 70bhp through various updates which it will introduce next season. If true, Horner reckons fans could be in for another dominant season. "I think if you believe the numbers that are floating around, the gap could actually grow rather than diminish," he added. "That would be rather depressing if that was the case."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09645http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09645Ecclestone 'disappointed' with Vettel's attitudeMon, 08 Dec 2014 12:34:20 GMTBernie Ecclestone has admitted he was disappointed by Sebastian Vettel's attitude during the 2014 season as the German came across as though he was defeated. Vettel finished the season in fifth, 71 points behind team-mate Daniel Ricciardo who managed to score three wins to Vettel's zero as the 27-year-old struggled to get to grips with the RB10. Ecclestone, a long-term supporter and friend of the four-time champion, says he wasn't too happy with how Vettel acted throughout the season. "I'm a super supporter of Sebastian, but I'm a little bit disappointed with his attitude, which I think has changed," said the 83-year-old in his foreword to the official season review. "He's acting like a defeated guy, and he isn't - that's not his mentality. "He's a competitive guy. He doesn't like losing at backgammon. Unfortunately, when he plays me, he does." Ecclestone was also disappointed with Vettel's new team, Ferrari, and Fernando Alonso who's attitude was similar to Vettel's throughout the latter half of the season. "Ferrari was very disappointing, getting lost somewhere," added Ecclestone. "Fernando got a little bit like Sebastian halfway through, so I'm a little disappointed in him, too."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09644http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09644Massa confident Williams can fight for 2015 titlesMon, 08 Dec 2014 08:53:49 GMTFelipe Massa has his sights set firmly on challenging for the Drivers' Championship next season after ending the 2014 season on a high. The Williams driver finished just seconds off eventual race victor Lewis Hamilton to secure second place in arguably the second quickest car on the grid. Despite finishing 52 points adrift of team-mate Valtteri Bottas, the Brazilian insists he still has the pace to win and said "many things" were to blame for costing him points at the start of the season. "Many things happened in the first phase of the season that made me lose many strong results," he told Globo Esporte. "Things did not start the way I would like, but we ended with a super-competitive car. "I am happy with the second part of the championship and super-excited for next year. "I think we can have a better year, a more competitive car, and come back to fight for victories and the championship," he added. "I already fought for victory in the last race and so I hope we can arrive at Interlagos and Abu Dhabi next year with a chance of the championship." It won't be easy for Williams to surpass or even match Mercedes next year after the Anglo-German outfit ended the season with a huge advantage, but Massa is holding hope that hard work during the off-season will pay dividends. "Our expectations [for 2015] are high," said Massa. "We have regulations that are not changing much so I think most of the teams that had a competitive car will not have a big change. But it is always a new car, a new year," he concluded.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09643http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09643Diageo boss defends alcohol sponsorship in F1Sun, 07 Dec 2014 10:37:43 GMTDiageo boss David Gates has defended his company's sponsorship of Formula 1 amidst calls from Eurocare to ban alcohol sponsorship in motorsport. Diageo sponsors both McLaren and Force India through its Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff brands and is therefore one of the sports largest sponsors. However its promotional activites are under threat from Eurocare which has written to FIA president Jean Todt urging him to take action and ban such promotion because it encourages drink driving. The letter adds that it goes against EU regulations which limit alcohol advertising. "It runs against the EU Directive which states that marketing for the consumption of alcohol should not be linked to driving. "Moreover, the current association between alcohol and driving does not seem to fall in the category of 'the widespread promotion of responsible drinking messages', part of the mission supported by the alcohol industry itself." Gates however believes F1 is a useful marketing tool to promote the 'don't drink and drive' message which he says has reached over "half a billion" people through Diageo's F1 sponsorship. "We've been involved in F1 for over a decade, and in that time responsible drinking has been at the heart of our campaign," he told the Press Association Sport. "Through our campaigns we reckon we've reached over half a billion people with the 'never drink and drive' message. "We've had one and a half million people sign a pledge to never drink and drive, and we've an ambition to take that on to five million. "From our perspective, we're seeing our association with the sport as an extraordinary opportunity to help influence both attitudes and behaviour to have less people - ideally no people - drink and drive." Diageo holds various events and produces marketing material supporting the message. Most recently, Mika Hakkinen, Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen attended a Johnnie Walker event in Edinburgh to push the message further. "People like Jenson, Kevin and Mika have influenced a certain demographic who are far more likely to listen to what they have to say," added Gates. "They've been a force for good. When you hear Jenson and Mika talking about helping to save lives, they mean it and we mean it. "Diageo has 370 responsible drinking campaigns in 50 countries around the world. It's something we're committed to. "A lot of people have got the message and made a commitment (to not drink and drive) than if we were not involved. "Naturally, we've people in our company who are mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, and we have a responsibility. "We take that seriously and we do care, and that permeates everything we do, so we are incredibly careful about our responsibilities and how we market."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09642http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09642Warwick hits out at McLaren over driver delaySun, 07 Dec 2014 10:21:57 GMTFormer Formula 1 driver turned FIA race steward Derek Warwick has described McLaren's treatment of its drivers "disgusting" following numerous driver decision delays. The British team is currently deliberating over whether to retain Jenson Button or Kevin Magnussen for 2015 to partner Fernando Alonso. A meeting was held last week, but the board and Ron Dennis failed to agree and a spokesperson confirmed that any announcement would again be delayed. Warwick is backing Button to continue in F1: "Button deserves to stay," he told BBC Radio 5 Live, adding that Button's treatment by McLaren has been "disgusting." Warwick though, concedes that the Woking team are in a difficult position given the time and effort they have invested in Magnussen. "They've invested heavily in Kevin Magnussen," he added. "He's obviously someone for the future so I think it's a difficult situation for them. "Our fingers are crossed for Jenson because he brings a lot of people to the British Grand Prix. That's important for us."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09641http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09641Hamilton - not built by this season; revealed by this seasonSat, 06 Dec 2014 17:40:25 GMT'Nobody knows anything'. We all have heard this celebrated phrase, uttered originally by the Hollywood screenwriter (among other things) William Goldman. ‘Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what's going to work’ he went on. ‘Every time out it's a guess and, if you're lucky, an educated one.’  But don’t let anyone tell you that F1 futures can be plotted with all that much more confidence than the movie business. And if you need proof then you only need to look back over the last two-and-a-bit years in the existence of Lewis Hamilton. That which concluded with him once again champion of the world, and a champion with his reputation stronger than probably at any time before.  Go to the start of this journey in the autumn of 2012, then the consensus view was that Lewis Hamilton had committed career suicide in turning his back on McLaren for the (then) perennial underachiever Mercedes. That he’d sacrificed the possibility of future titles for the sake of his bank balance and his ‘brand’. Joe Saward for one opined when the Merc move was rumoured as sealed that ‘if it has happened, it will be a reflection of Lewis’s state of mind, as this is not a logical thing to do.’ But that's not particularly to single out Saward. He was far from the only one. Nor was he close to being the most vitriolic on the subject. Yet two years on the egg that Lewis laid in his Singapore hotel room – in the almost mythologised last-ditch meeting with Niki Lauda – hatched. And turned out to be a golden one. Lewis is indeed now in possession of his long-awaited second title, while McLaren…well you know that one. Lewis admitted in 2013 that the immediate switch in competiveness between his former and current employers – McLaren falling off a cliff – was unforeseen, but there was much less luck about his being in the plumb seat for this 2014 season. Mercedes long had the radical change of regs for this campaign circled on its calendar. When it gave up on the 2012 season early and at roughly the same moment as it bagged Lewis, it was not to focus resource on 2013’s preparations but on 2014's. It started on its power unit way back in 2010. The squad also knew it was way ahead in the energy recovery game; that having the power unit development in-house, being able to develop the unit and chassis in tandem, was a conspicuous advantage. Crucially too Merc knew that it was about to finally loosen the purse strings, now convinced that Ferrari’s and Red Bull’s spending never was going to come into line in the spirit of resource restriction. Lewis may have been fleeing the nest, but he gave thought to where he was going. He admits that while he did not foresee then that it would have happened this quickly necessarily, he could foresee a project there, a legacy. And ultimately more titles. Indeed Lewis during the Abu Dhabi weekend just passed, where his second title was clinched, explained that contrary to assumption Lauda’s hotel room visit wasn't in fact vital, it was an earlier and more detailed meeting with Ross Brawn that was. '(Brawn) explaining to me in depth what the team had planned, the long term plan of the team, what steps they were taking, that was where I was sold', he said. Career calls nevertheless hardly get more audacious. But Lewis’s numbers came up. It also in large part was the making of him. Even so, Lewis's first campaign in his new abode was rather one of peaks and valleys. Brilliant on occasion (see Silverstone and Hungary as well as in a mid-year run of poles), but not always. Lewis furthermore displayed often baffling emotional swings out of the car too, with a tendency to beat himself up as well as to treat media microphones as something of a confessional. Some who have worked with Lewis closely – such as Marc Priestley – said that such negative moods have a similarly negative impact on his driving.  Yet witnessing Lewis this year I've been put in mind of something noted more than once before, that Lewis Hamilton like a lot of F1 drivers hadn't experienced normal teenage years with the various character-building experiences the rest of us went through. Instead at that point he was being groomed intensely as a racing driver. Perhaps therefore Lewis that did his ‘growing up’ much later than the rest of us, and did it in the severe public gaze that comes with being a top line F1 driver. The theory fits rather neatly. When Lewis arrived in F1 in 2007 there was something a little child-like about him (a comment not a criticism as Murray Walker would say – a lot of the traits were helpful): eager to please; keen to say the right thing; obedient; disciplined; wide-eyed; happy go lucky.  Possibly though in the years after we witnessed Lewis go through something of a late adolescence. Again there were parallels in his behaviour: the apparent keenness to ‘make it on his own’, first from his father, then from the McLaren team; the moods; the often uncommunicative persona; the restlessness (Mark Hughes noted around this time that ‘he’s about as predictable and settled as a cat in the bath’); the occasional incoherence (to the point that he often would contradict himself in the space of a sentence); the girl troubles; the hanging around with people who weren’t necessary a good influence; the already-mentioned strange tendency to beat himself up. Heck, even if we missed all of the other evidence he spoke last year of his desire to become a rapper... And if we are to follow this train of thought to its logical conclusion perhaps we are now witnessing Lewis Hamilton the adult. Certainly this year we have seen the most rounded, content Lewis out of the car in a while. Many of the hangers-on of 2011 seem shorn, so too the conspicuous showbiz management. His family – for a time in some sort of exile it seemed – now more commonly are at his side.  And for Lewis even before his title was clinched perhaps for the first time ever in his F1 time his guard – in whatever form – dropped. We were getting the real him. A genuine, responsible, guy from Stevenage with a passion for racing and competing and who just so happens to be exceptionally good at it. And one driving better than he has in a while also. ‘Today I feel a lot more whole as a person’ Lewis noted indeed after the Abu Dhabi race cemented his latest title. Perhaps it’s a matter of environment. We’ve discussed Lewis’s reasons for leaving McLaren, but there was a key one in addition. That he felt a strong urge to ‘flee the nest’; to prove himself ‘on his own’ as it were. And it’s a fairly natural urge – one since repeated by Sebastian Vettel apparently. Just as no matter how much we grow and age our parents always at some level view us a child, it appeared that at McLaren – where Lewis had been since the age of 13 – the driver-team relationship with Lewis always had a dash of parent and kid. He rarely there seemed to command his surroundings like many of the greats do as standard, nor did he regularly display the authority to override the team on strategy calls and the like (see for one glaring example the race in Hungary in 2011, when in changing conditions his team mate Jenson Button did override the pit wall when they called him in for a tyre change and Lewis didn’t, resulting in very different outcomes).  Perhaps too McLaren’s peculiar ways made it particularly hard for a driver to seize the reins. As Ron Dennis asserted pointedly of his charge after the 2012 Canadian race, in full fatherly mode, ‘last time I checked, we employed him, not the other way around’. Whatever is the case too, Lewis also appears this year to have developed an ability to maintain a positive outlook, and it looks to have had a benign impact all the way through his driving. As intimated it wasn’t always the case. Time was that chin drops were a reasonably frequent feature. We got our first clue of the new him in the season-opener in Melbourne. Lewis appeared to have the place to himself and took a commanding pole position. But then his race was over with mechanical failure almost as soon as it had begun. Yet afterwards there was no sign of sulks or recrimination. He remained positive and focussed for the year that stretched ahead. Indeed he won the next four races, and we got more of a glimpse of Lewis’s new approach in his words and demeanour after his Chinese Grand Prix triumph. Paying homage to the team and making clear he’s only a small part of the results they're enjoying. Speaking of the squad and his fans as a source of ‘energy’, of his fans as his ‘angels’. Reflecting with perspective on his upbringing in Stevenage; the work of those around him to get him where he is; how he’d never then have thought he’d make it as far as he had. And when Johnny Herbert in response asked him if there has been a conscious effort to improve this part of his repertoire, to establish more positivity, Lewis agreed absolutely. Such themes – whether in good or bad – remained regular from him in front of media microphones throughout this season. There was though a touch of the bad old Lewis mid-year, following Monaco and all that.  Short of a grand confessional from Nico Rosberg we’ll never know exactly what happened at the last of that qualifying session, though it was quickly clear what Lewis thought. And while we’ll also never know the precise cause and effect we can say with certainty that it preceded a difficult run for him, that manifested itself in a series of errors in the vital part of each of the following three qualifying sessions, then supplemented by the two subsequent ones being ruined by mechanical failure.  But still, and in another display that wasn’t always so, he didn’t this year linger on his misfortune. In each of the five races after difficult Saturdays indeed he was scintillating, in four of them coming through the field in four almost in the blink of an eye. His opening lap in Spielberg I will take to my grave with me. And even in his run of difficult qualifying sessions mentioned each time by the morning of the race he was right back into an optimum frame of mind. So it was at Silverstone for one. Having thrown away what looked a pole his by right through a gross personal miscalculation, and at home, he was bewildered, uncommunicative, almost shell-shocked. Aptly he noted later that his ‘world was crumbling beneath’ him. But come the next morning Lewis was barely recognisable; absolutely determined again.  And he won. Then he took up the subject afterwards. ‘Trying to turn that serious emptiness and negativity (of yesterday) into a positive today was really my priority’ he said. ‘It’s been very, very difficult. I was speaking last night, just comparing it to how difficult it is psychologically, it’s got to be something similar to the tennis players when they’re two sets down. It’s so hard to get your mind in gear, to get yourself back and not lose points from then on. And so the pressure is high but I really feel that now we’re back, kind of close and with the pace that I had today, I really feel that I can...just got to refocus for the next part of the season.’ The theme was continued in his reflections on his year’s other main pressure point, that at Spa (again, and all that). Reminiscing after his title was clinched Hamilton indeed noted that he responded to that in a way that would have once been beyond him. ‘It was a very difficult scenario to be in,’ he said, ‘and going back years ago, I wouldn't have reacted in the way I did this year. I would have chosen another way which wouldn’t have been positive’. Andrew Benson reckoned all of this was crucial: ‘Perhaps Lewis Hamilton’s greatest strength this year, a key to the second title that he won…was that he always believed he would do it’. David Coulthard concurred: ‘No matter what happened to him, he always believed he could bounce back’.  No one – or at least no one worth listening to – has ever doubted Lewis Hamilton's driving talent. Indeed, it would be hard to make the case that his instinctive skills, infinitesimal precision, stunning natural speed and towering bravery are equalled by anyone in contemporary F1. But us lot judging from the outside can be rather reductive. And due to this perhaps in a strange way such attributes became a hindrance, as many of us – too many – assumed that was all that Lewis offered. That he was an F1 equivalent of a kamikaze pilot; big on speed and bravery but not on analytics. And rewind to the 2014 season previews and the consensus was that while Lewis’s pace could not be denied, the new cars were complex, the fuel would have to be managed, as would the tyres. Restraint wasn’t his strong suit, neither was using the loaf. Team mate and likely title rival Nico Rosberg therefore had potential to get the whip hand. Yet in the actuality this campaign when it came to getting your head around the new cars, managing fuel or managing the tyres there was no conspicuous advantage to Nico on any of them. Indeed on at least one, maybe more than one, Lewis seemed to be the one ahead. Certainly the FOM graphics almost always had him using less fuel than his stable mate and I struggle to recall occasions that his tyres ‘hit the cliff’ before Nico’s. This year he skilfully converted many of his race wins using the very minimum from his car in a way that the last British multiple world champion, the cerebral Jackie Stewart, would have been proud. Indeed when driver assistance over the radio was restricted come the Singapore round the consensus view by then was that it aided Lewis over Nico. Again the cause and effect is near-impossible to unpick, but after radio coaching was quashed Lewis won the next four races, and managed each of them masterfully. As Will Buxton outlined eloquently when previewing the Abu Dhabi title showdown: ‘the greatest trick that Lewis Hamilton ever pulled, was convincing the world that he wasn’t smart’. Lewis indeed after his title-clinching final race allowed himself some satisfaction at proving doubters wrong: ‘There was all that talk that Lewis cannot make his tyres last because of his aggressive driving style. But through the races this year I think I have proved time and again that I use less fuel and am able to utilise my tyres as well as anyone.’ But equally perhaps this season was no great departure after all, as to take one example of the 2012 season Lewis that year appeared consistently to master such requirements of conserving the notoriously delicate Pirellis while retaining his pace and flair, such as in Barcelona where he did the longest stint on a single set of tyres of anyone that year and he was still quick. He would have won the title that year with reliability and more even luck. And as Buxton and others who’ve followed Lewis for some time – since prior to his F1 days – know he’s always been a guy who takes a holistic approach to his job; leaves no stone unturned. Therefore, despite appearances the 2014 year may not have been such a breakthrough after all. This season didn’t build Lewis, it revealed Lewis.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09640http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09640Better chance of retaining my title in 2015 - HamiltonSat, 06 Dec 2014 17:31:36 GMTLewis Hamilton says he has a better chance of retaining his title next season when compared to the last time he was champion back in 2008. The Briton is confident Mercedes will carry their advantage through to next year because of the stable regulations, unlike in 2009 when they changed dramatically. "Going into next season, you're hoping that you'll be competitive again, you hope you'll have a chance to fight for the championship again," he said at the FIA Prize-Giving Gala on Friday. "The good thing about this period of time in Formula One is that when I won the championship in 2008, the following year we had a year like this with some new rules and regulations and as a team we didn't do a good job to adapt to that, so I didn't have a chance to fight to keep my championship. "Next year will be an evolution of this year's car so I'm hoping that we'll be at least able to fight." He is however wary of the threat from team-mate Nico Rosberg, who came close to snatching the title from Hamilton, as well Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and potentially Fernando Alonso. "Nico's going to come back stronger and I'll have to make sure I come back even stronger to stay ahead of him," he added. "You know Daniel Ricciardo has been doing an amazing job. It will be interesting to see what Fernando [Alonso] does in his car. It’s very difficult to know but I don't particularly care who's behind. You don't care do you? You just want to look ahead."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09639http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09639Mercedes leads the way when it comes to social mediaSat, 06 Dec 2014 16:35:37 GMTFormula 1 itself might only just be realising the true potential of social media - even the TV feed has begun displaying event specific hashtags - but the teams themselves have long been aware of the benefit. Not only did Mercedes secure the double, but they got the most out of social media during the 2014 season according to a report by industry monitors Repucom. Whilst all of the teams have some form of social media presence, it seems just a handful are using it properly. The @MercedesAMGF1 account accounted for 30 per cent of all social media activity amongst the teams, with @ScuderiaFerrari lagging behind on 19 per cent, @McLarenF1 on 12 per cent, @LotusF1team on 10 per cent and last years champions @RedBullRacing on just 8 per cent. Mercedes took an early lead in the 'social media standings', but dropped behind Ferrari around the Chinese Grand Prix according to the report, however Mercedes were again top for the rest of the season, bar Austria, where Williams' sensational pole saw them mentioned the most. Why is it important though, surely it isn't earning them any money? That's not strictly true. Using market data and various calculations, Repucom found that a single photo posted to Facebook by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, which was liked more than 215,000 times, is equal to almost £35,000 in brand exposure. Add that up over hundreds of photos, status updates, likes, retweets and shares, and the value of social media is easy to understand. Overall, the report estimates that, in total, social media posts had around 8.64 billion impressions globally, with 84 per cent of those from people aged over 35. Growth has also been strong, with an interaction increase of 54 per cent for the teams from 2013 to 2014, 36.5 per cent for drivers whilst official F1 keywords (such as #F1) has risen by 11.5 per cent. Social media marks a new channel for sponsors to share their products and therefore, with declining television audiences, the teams need other ways of enticing big name sponsors to keep paying the 'big bucks'.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09638http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09638Trophies stolen as thieves ram-raid Red Bull factorySat, 06 Dec 2014 13:01:00 GMTRed Bull has suffered a massive loss of over 60 Formula 1 trophies during a robbery on Saturday morning at around 1:30am, according to the team and local police. Six men driving two vehicles with foreign number plates were used to ram-raid the factory entrance, where the thieves proceeded to break into the glass cabinet containing the team's various trophies. In all, more than 60 were taken during the incident which has confused team boss Christian Horner who explained that they hold very little value, other than sentimental. "We are obviously devastated by this serious factory break-in, which saw offenders drive a vehicle through our front entrance and steal more than 60 trophies which took years and hard work to accumulate," he said in a statement. "The break-in caused significant damage and was very upsetting for our night officers who were on duty at the time. "The offenders took items that not only did not belong to them, but which represented the efforts of a group of dedicated, hard-working individuals. "Beyond the aggressive nature of this break-in, we are perplexed why anyone would take these trophies. "The value to the team is of course extraordinarily high due to the sheer hard work and effort that went into winning each and every one. "But their intrinsic value is low; they would be of little benefit to those outside of the team and, in addition to that, many of the trophies on display were replicas. "The actions of these men mean it's likely that we will have to make our site less accessible in the future, which will be unfair on the hundreds of fans that travel to visit our factory each year to see our trophies and our Formula 1 car. "We would like to appeal to anyone who knows any information on the whereabouts of these trophies or the offenders involved to contact Thames Valley Police." No other items are believed to have been taken as the factory has strict finger-print security systems in place to stop anybody getting past reception. Nobody is believed to have been harmed during the break-in. If you have any information, please contact Red Bull via media@redbullracing.com or contact the police on 01865 841 148. http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09637http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09637Williams not satisfied with team's revival just yetSat, 06 Dec 2014 10:49:51 GMTWilliams impressive turnaround shocked the paddock at the beginning of the 2014 season, but it isn't enough for founder Sir Frank Williams. The team suffered an abysmal 2013 when it finished ninth with just five points. However a switch to Mercedes power and new signings in its engineering department helped lift it to third, with a massive 320 points and nine podiums just a year later. Whilst proud of their achievement, deputy team principal Claire Williams admits her father isn't quite satisfied yet as he eyes a return to their championship winning glory days. "We are pleased with P3 but we have work to do," said Claire Williams. "Frank is saying, 'why is everyone celebrating P3? We are here to win!' She added. "So we have to make sure we continue with work over the winter and move forward. "Hopefully we can close that gap to Mercedes, and hope our competitors don't close the gap as much as we do, so we can take the fight to Mercedes next year." Whilst Williams recently admitted championship success was out of its reach next season, she believes if they can keep the rate of development up and the consistent results they saw this year, then 2016 might be their year. "It is an impressive turnaround in anyone's book, and something we are proud of. It has taken a lot of hard work, a lot of diligence has gone into it, and it hasn't just been a fluke," she added. "One important thing has been sustained success, because it is not just one or two races where we have a good haul. "There has been consistency there, which we know we need to continually achieve if we want to achieve more."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09636http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09636Hamilton officially crowned at FIA Prize-Giving GalaFri, 05 Dec 2014 22:45:28 GMTLewis Hamilton was officially crowned the 2014 FIA Formula One World Champion on Friday during the FIA's Prize-Giving Ceremony in Doha, Qatar. The Briton secured his second title after a season-long battle with Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg. He won 11 of the 19 races and scored 384 points, 67 more than his German counterpart. Speaking at the event on Friday, Hamilton explained what he's been doing since the season finale in Abu Dhabi where he clinched the crown. "So far no, it's been quite a busy period of time, I'm sure for all of us," he said. "This year, after the race, back doing tons of interviews and radio and television… enjoying it though, I'd happily do that every year! "At the factory, working on next year's car already and seeing the team, thanking the team for all their help, both the teams, where they build the engine and also the car. "Trying to fit in dinners with the family as well," he added. "It's been a whirlwind but I'm looking forward to the break that's coming up and in that break I'll get to do some partying for sure." Hamilton was also awarded 'Personality of the Year' as voted for by permanently accredited media. Daniil Kvyat won 'Rookie of the Year' as voted for by a number of his peers and various sportsmen from a number of motorsport categories.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09635http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09635Korean entry simply a bargaining chip for fifth engineFri, 05 Dec 2014 11:22:06 GMTThe inclusion of Korea on the provisional 2015 calendar raised some eyebrows when it was released by the FIA this week, not least by local organisers who have no knowledge of the proposal to resuscitate the event. Therefore suggestions that it is simply being used as a bargaining tool to make available a fifth power unit for 2015 seems more likely. The regulations state that each driver may only use four complete power units next season, one less than 2014. However several drivers encountered penalties when they were forced to use a sixth unit, and that was a 19-race calendar. Next year, disregarding Korea, the calendar will feature 20 races with Mexico's return, meaning a power unit will need to complete five races at minimum - which is something that worries team bosses and Bernie Ecclestone who isn't in favour of the various penalties handed out for exceeding the limit. Therefore, it's widely believed Ecclestone, who drafts the provisional calendar, has simply included Korea to inact a clause in the regulations which states that the number of power units "will be increased to five if the number of events in the Championship, as originally scheduled, exceeds 20." Korea's inclusion takes the calendar to 21-races, allowing for a fifth power unit to be used. However it isn't clear whether simply being included on the 'provisional' calendar is enough to satisfy the FIA, therefore don't be surprised to see it included on the confirmed calendar before swiftly being dropped before the season kicks off in Australia.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09634http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09634McLaren decision hangs on company ownership bidFri, 05 Dec 2014 11:03:14 GMTJenson Button and Kevin Magnussen both face an agonising wait to learn their fate, with both vying for the last seat at McLaren alongside Fernando Alonso. A decision was expected this week, but a board meeting on Thursday failed to come up with an answer, leaving both Button and Magnussen's futures in doubt, not to mention how many fans it angered. Chairman Ron Dennis and the McLaren board disagree on who should be driving the second car and once again failed to agree on Thursday, therefore a decision is likely to hang on who controls the company in the next few weeks. Dennis recently launched a bid to take majority ownership of the McLaren Group. He currently owns 25 per cent, with Bahrain's Mumtalakat owning 50 per cent and the remainder under the Ojjeh Family's TAG Group. Dennis is looking to raise funds in the order of £180 million ($282m) to buy back 37.5 per cent of the company, giving him a 62.5 per cent controlling stake. It's believed Dennis has a strict deadline to meet if he's to successfully complete the deal, otherwise it'll be called off. Therefore the question remains, is Dennis backing Button or Magnussen? Because if he's successful in raising the necessary funds, then he'll be the one making the decision, not the board.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09633http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09633McLaren fails to agree its line-up during meetingThu, 04 Dec 2014 17:33:50 GMTMcLaren had been expected to decide whether Jenson Button or Kevin Magnussen would partner Fernando Alonso next season, but it seems both will have to wait even longer to learn their fates. The team held a board meeting in Woking on Thursday in an effort to confirm its 2015 driver line-up, but a spokesperson confirmed that no decision had been taken. "Today's board meeting has now concluded, and no decision has been taken with regard to our 2015 driver line-up." That news won't be welcomed by fans, Magnussen or Button, who stated during a promotional event on Thursday that he was keen to hear of his future. "I just want to get it done. I want to hear the decision - as we all do - so we can all move on in whatever direction," said the Briton. Whether a decision will be made before Christmas isn't known, with suggestions McLaren are waiting on the outcome of potential sponsorship deals before making its decision.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09632http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09632Force India to use Toyota's windtunnel for 2015 carThu, 04 Dec 2014 15:54:30 GMTForce India has nominated to use Toyota's windtunnel facility in Cologne to develop its 2015 car throughout the season, rather than it's own. The facility, formerly used by Toyota to develop its F1 car and then by numerous customers including Ferrari whilst their own windtunnel underwent upgrades, is regarded as one of the best in the world. Team co-owner Vijay Mallya said the decision "is indicative of our ambitions to continue as a competitive force" in the sport. He added: "It's one of the most significant decisions in our history and gives us access to what is regarded as one of the finest windtunnels in the world. "We have used the facility previously on an ad hoc basis and we are aware of the advantages of basing all our aerodynamic research in Cologne. "It will strengthen our approach and give us a solid base to build upon for the years to come." Often teams will use one or more windtunnels to verify results, but next season the FIA has clamped down on that, forcing teams to nominate one facility only as per Appendix 8 of the Sporting Regulations. "Each team may nominate only one windtunnel for use in any one 12-month period. The first nomination must be made on or before 1 January 2015 and no re-nominations may be made for at least 12 months."