The F1 - News Catch up on all F1 news, here at's RSS Feed! 1 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. 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." 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. 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." 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. 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. 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. 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. '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. 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 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." 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." 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." 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." 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."'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. 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 — Max Verstappen (@MaxVerstappen3) December 12, 2014 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. 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." 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. 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.", 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." 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." '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." 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." 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. 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." 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." '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." 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. 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." 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." - 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. 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." 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'. 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 or contact the police on 01865 841 148. 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." 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. 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. 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. 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. 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."'s 2015 driver line-up decision imminentThu, 04 Dec 2014 15:40:54 GMTMcLaren could be set to finally announce its driver line-up on Friday - though Monday or Tuesday next week looks more likely - as the team is holding a board meeting on Thursday to decide Fernando Alonso's team-mate for the 2015 season. The team is split between Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen. The former offers vast knowledge as the most experienced driver on the grid with 266 starts, something that may prove vital for the new Honda partnership. However Magnussen, although his rookie season has been mixed with flashes of speed and silly mistakes, is seen as a long-term investment. McLaren are therefore torn between the pair, though Ron Dennis recently hinted that junior driver Stoffel Vandoorne might even be in the running for the seat, therefore Alonso's team-mate remains a complete mystery. Magnussen is favourite to take the seat with Button being offered Gary Paffett's former role as test and reserve driver, allowing him to focus on the World Endurance Championship, but it isn't clear if the 2009 champion would accept such a 'back-seat' role. Whilst a decision is expected today, it's unlikely it will be made public immediately. However, the team are aware that delaying an announcement further will only anger fans, therefore it could be revealed as early as Friday, though insider sources suggest early next week is more likely. chief being lined up for F1 chairman roleThu, 04 Dec 2014 01:01:13 GMTBernie Ecclestone's days as the head honcho in Formula 1 could be numbered as CVC Capital Partners is looking to appoint ex-Diageo chief, Paul Walsh, to the role of chairman. Whilst F1 already has a chairman in Nestlé's Peter Brabeck, it's likely Walsh will replace him following a board meeting next week, partly because of Brabeck's recent illness. It's expected that Walsh will not only take over the role of chairman, but will be active in F1's day-to-day business - something that Ecclestone currently controls as chief executive. So whilst Ecclestone's role isn't under immediate threat, it's highly likely that Walsh could eventually replace the 84-year-old altogether and it's a move CVC might do well in pushing through quickly. Walsh has headed up companies such as GrandMet and InterContinental Hotels before moving to the world's largest spirits producer, Diageo, in 2000, where he realised the potential of F1 as a promotional tool and sponsored McLaren before recently becoming an official F1 partner. He left the company last year and is now chairman of the Compass Group where he is likely to share his responsibilities with F1 until he is, eventually, ready to lead the sport into a new era - one which CVC co-founder Donald MacKenzie hopes will see F1 embrace the digital world to increase its value before being floated on the stock market - a plan which has already failed to materalise several times. and super licences amid rule changesWed, 03 Dec 2014 18:09:42 GMTThe World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) has agreed a number of changes for the 2015 and 2016 seasons during a meeting in Qatar on Wednesday. Included in the long list of changes is a proposed 21-race calendar with the return of both Korea and Mexico next season [read more here]. Double Points and Standing Restarts As already reported, double points and standings restarts have both been scrapped following fan and team disapproval of both regulations. Race Suspension The suspension of a race has also been tweaked, with drivers now ordered to enter the pits and queue in order of arrival and await further instruction. Penalties If a driver is handed a grid penalty for changing a component on their power unit outside of the permitted allocation, but are unable to drop the specified number of places, i.e. qualified 15th, but ordered to drop ten places, then they will no longer be required to serve the remainder of the penalty at the following event. Instead, a time penalty will be applied. A new ten-second penalty has been introduced in addition to the current five-second penalty. It will be served in the same manner. Unsafe Release If a car is deemed to have been released in an unsafe condition during a race a ten-second stop-and-go penalty will be imposed on the driver concerned. An additional penalty will be imposed on any driver who, in the opinion of the stewards, continues to drive a car knowing it to have been released in an unsafe condition. Safety Car: Lapped Cars Once the last lapped car has passed the leader the safety car will return to the pits at the end of the following lap, the race director will no longer have to wait for all the lapped cars to reach the back of the pack behind the safety car. Technical Regulations - The weight of the car, without fuel, must not be less than 702kg at all times during the event (up from 701kg). - Changes have been made to the rules governing Wind Tunnel Testing and with regard to the aerodynamic reporting periods for 2015 and 2016. - Any suspension system fitted to the front/rear wheels must be so arranged that its response results only from changes in load applied to the front/rear wheels. - The Zylon anti-intrusion panels on both sides of the survival cell have been extended upwards to the rim of the cockpit and alongside the pilot's head. Super Licences (2016) Changes have been made to the way in which Super Licences will be granted to drivers. The rules are much stricter and come into force following the promotion of several drivers, who some believe to be too young or inexperienced for F1. - They must hold a valid driving licence as well as being a minimum of 18-years-old and have knowledge of the F1 Sporting Regulations and ISC rules. They must have also completed 300km of running in an F1 car, two years minimum experience in minor Formula's such as GP2/3, Formua Renault etc. Finally, they must have accrued enough points (using a system to be determined) in previous Formulas to qualify. 'did not slow sufficiently' claims reportWed, 03 Dec 2014 17:42:17 GMTJules Bianchi failed to slow sufficiently for the conditions which not only included a wet racing surface but also the double waved yellow flags as a result of an earlier incident involving Adrian Sutil, claims a report into the Frenchman's accident by the FIA. The 396-page report released on Wednesday and compiled by a 10-man accident panel, found Bianchi was driving to quickly under the presence of yellow flags which, it claims, was sufficient guidance for drivers given the conditions. "Bianchi did not slow sufficiently to avoid losing control at the same point on the track as Sutil," reads a key point in the FIA report. "If drivers adhere to the requirements of double yellow flags, as set out in Appendix H, Art., then neither competitors nor officials should be put in immediate or physical danger." The stewards had been criticised for not putting the Safety Car out, but the report also found that such action wasn't necessary under the circumstances. "The actions taken following Sutil's accident were consistent with the regulations, and their interpretation following 384 incidents in the preceding 8 years. Without the benefit of hindsight, there is no apparent reason why the Safety Car should have been deployed either before or after Sutil's accident," it added. More detail was also released about Bianchi's accident and the actual impact which has left the 25-year-old hospitalised since. "Bianchi over-controlled the oversteering car, such that he left the track earlier than Sutil, and headed towards a point "up-stream" along the barrier. Unfortunately, the mobile crane was in front of this part of the barrier, and he struck and under-ran the rear of it at high speed. "During the two seconds Bianchi's car was leaving the track and traversing the run-off area, he applied both throttle and brake together, using both feet. The FailSafe algorithm is designed to over-ride the throttle and cut the engine, but was inhibited by the Torque Coordinator, which controls the rear Brake-by-Wire system. "Bianchi's Marussia has a unique design of BBW, which proved to be incompatible with the FailSafe settings," it explained. "The fact that the FailSafe did not disqualify the engine torque requested by the driver may have affected the impact velocity; it has not been possible to reliably quantify this. However, it may be that Bianchi was distracted by what was happening and the fact that his front wheels had locked, and been unable to steer the car such that it missed the crane." Recommendations have been made to avoid such accidents, though the panel found it "fundamentally wrong" to try and make collisions between recovery vehicles and F1 cars safe as it would be near impossible. "It is not feasible to mitigate the injuries Bianchi suffered by either enclosing the driver's cockpit, or fitting skirts to the crane. Neither approach is practical due to the very large forces involved in the accident between a 700kg car striking a 6500kg crane at a speed of 126kph. There is simply insufficient impact structure on a F1 car to absorb the energy of such an impact without either destroying the driver's survival cell, or generating non-survivable decelerations. "It is considered fundamentally wrong to try and make an impact between a racing car and a large and heavy vehicle survivable. It is imperative to prevent a car ever hitting the crane and/or the marshals working near it." Such recommendations have been made which the panel hopes will help to avoid a repeat of Bianchi's and similar accidents. - The Clerk of the Course will impose a speed limit in any section of track where double yellow flags are being displayed. - A review of safety critical software and measures to check its integrity will take place. - Guidelines on circuit drainage will be reviewed, to include drainage off access roads. - It is proposed that a regulation or guideline be established such that the Start time of an event shall not be less than 4 hours before either sunset or dusk, except in the case of night races. - It is also recommended that the F1 Calendar is reviewed in order to avoid, where possible, races taking place during local rainy seasons. and Mexico on 21-race calendar for 2015Wed, 03 Dec 2014 17:20:28 GMTThe World Motor Sport Council met in Doha on Wednesday and released a proposed 21-race Formula 1 calendar which sees the season start on March 15th and end on November 29th. The current 19-race calendar has been bolstered with the addition of Mexico as the 19th round following on from the US race in Austin and the round before Brazil. Korea could also make a return, though it's yet to be confirmed and remains subject to the necessary agreements being made in the coming weeks between its organisers and Formula One Management (FOM). Proposed 2015 Formula 1 Calendar: RndDateCountry 01  March 15th  Australia 02  March 29th  Malaysia 03  April 12th  China 04  April 19th  Bahrain 05  May 3rd  Korea (TBC) 06  May 10th  Spain 07  May 24th  Monaco 08  June 7th  Canada 09  June 21st  Austria 10  July 5th  Great Britain 11  July 19th  Germany 12  July 26th  Hungary 13  August 23rd  Belgium 14  September 6th  Italy 15  September 20th  Singapore 16  September 27th  Japan 17  October 11th  Russia 18  October 25th  United States 19  November 1st  Mexico 20  November 15th  Brazil 21  November 29th  Abu Dhabi hits out at Horner's 'selfish engine demands'Wed, 03 Dec 2014 13:41:24 GMTChristian Horner's demands for a new engine in 2016 are selfish, according to Mercedes technical boss Paddy Lowe, who claims the Red Bull boss is only making such demands because Red Bull are no longer winning. Horner has called for the current hybrid-V6 engine to be dropped either in favour of a return to the V8's or to a new standard twin-turbo V6, as he believes it will cut costs. Lowe claims the Briton's comments are motivated purely by self-interest as a result of Red Bull's pace deficit to Mercedes which Horner has persistently insisted is a result of Renault's less powerful engine. "Nothing could be a clearer example than what we're seeing, where somebody is feeling that he's not on top of the heap at the moment, therefore the rules are all wrong," Lowe told journalist Adam Cooper. "I don't remember that happening before. I've worked in teams who have had good years and very bad years, I don't remember anyone ever saying that we should change the rules so that I can win again. I don't get it. "We've got clear rules, it was all designed with everyone's agreement. The reason you have rules for stability in F1, particularly around the power unit, is that it allows people to set good regulations at a distance to be uninvolved with your relative performance. When people are asking for rule changes at short notice it's all about self-interest." Lowe added that he fails to see how changing engine again would amount to a cost saving, rather than what he believes would lead to further expenses for the manufacturers and teams. "Apparently a twin-turbo is supposed to be cheaper and a cost saving measure against a single turbo," he added. "I haven't quite worked that one out! Perhaps we'll find out how that works. It completely contradicts all the other discussions in F1 which are around being cost effective and maintaining a platform whereby teams can compete whether they are financed as we are one end of the grid, or at the other. "There is one simple fact in F1, rule changes cost money, particularly ones involving the engine, so it's just the most ridiculous idea I've ever heard for how to save costs in F1." safety car gets green light for 2015 seasonTue, 02 Dec 2014 15:49:16 GMTThe FIA will push ahead with the idea of a virtual safety car (VSC) for the 2015 season following successful trials during the final few races of 2014. The system won't replace the safety car, which will still be used for large accidents which require a pace car, but it could result in fewer safety car periods as the VSC system will force cars to slow down for safety reasons. The change comes after Jules Bianchi's accident in Japan where Adrian Sutil span off, but with his car clear of the circuit, the FIA saw no reason to deploy the safety car and instead used double waved yellow flags. Drivers must therefore slow, but by how much is completely up to them. That may have played a role in Bianchi's accident when he span off at the same point as Sutil and hit a recovery vehicle. It's hoped the VSC, which will be used whenever a recovery vehicle or marshal is on the circuit, will resolve this problem as drivers must stick to an exact speed limit until the track is cleared, otherwise they will face a penalty. Extensive testing was carried out during practice for the United States GP, and then again in Abu Dhabi where a few tweaks were made to satisfy driver concerns. During a meeting in Abu Dhabi, the teams and the FIA agreed it should be introduced for the start of the new season next year. Draft regulations have been written and submitted where they will be signed off and written into the sporting regulations. bids farewell to Red Bull in final factory visitTue, 02 Dec 2014 14:27:03 GMTSebastian Vettel bid an emotional farewell to Red Bull on Tuesday as he embarks upon a new challenge with Ferrari next season. The German won four titles with the Milton Keynes team and has spent almost his entire F1 career with them - two years with Toro Rosso and six with Red Bull. However his decision to depart to replace Fernando Alonso brings an end to the special partnership, but he couldn't leave without saying goodbye. "You're not making this any easier," was his opener, following a speech from team principal Christian Horner and chief technical officer Adrian Newey. "The last six years have been incredible. What we've achieved, the work that's gone in. So much passion, so much dedication. It will always stay in my heart. Big, big thank you to everyone. In the end we had the better car because we were the better team. Thank you really doesn't really describe enough what I feel." Horner later presented Vettel with some parting gifts, which included; an espresso cup, some very tight red Speedos, a pair of sunglasses and a few ruder gifts. He was also gifted a 50 per cent scale model bull with his championship laurels engraved on the plinth. He will also receive one of his championship-winning cars, but Horner was keen to mention that delivery would be delayed as Red Bull "don't want it turning up in Maranello." Before signing gifts for staff, he added: "There's a lot of happy memories from this place that I'm holding onto. It's been a great journey and I've very grateful for what all of you did for me. I'll shut up now." 'It's really, really special to drive a Ferrari'Mon, 01 Dec 2014 20:26:24 GMTSebastian Vettel has compared his first outing in a Ferrari F1 car with a fairytale after holding a desire to race for the Italian team since he was a small child. The German will race for Ferrari next season following his switch from Red Bull where he won four championships. Over the space of four days, he's tested an F2012 at their Fiorano test track, met with chairman Sergio Marchionne and new team principal Maurizio Arrivabene before analysing his data with chief engineer James Allison. Alongside that, Vettel has also driven the team's simulator to get a feel for the F14-T, gaining confidence with its procedures, commands and the new power unit. Speaking about the experience, he said: "Obviously it's been a fantastic day to come here. "I remember I've been here a long time ago as a little child, driving through Maranello and trying to look over the fence, so to be here officially as part of the team felt fantastic. "The possibility to drive the car and get to know the team was a unique experience. Obviously it's a very different color for me, everybody is dressed in red, everything is red, but it's really something special and I'm very much looking forward to the challenge that we took on for the next years." He completed 100 laps in the F2012, which he described as a very special experience. "Obviously, its already winter time so it was quite cold doing some laps but it was a great feeling, it is always enjoyable to be in the car and, again, looking back to the years when I was 11 or 12, trying to look over the fence and trying to see a glimpse of Michael running on the track, well, today I was the one running and saw the tifosi around. "You know there are a lot of fairytales about Ferrari and how it feels to drive a red car and in the end I can only confirm these fairytales, it's not just a story, it's a true legend that exists and it feels really, really special to become part of that and to be inside the car, to see the people coming, running to the track and trying to climb the walls to see the car, so there is definitely something very magic and something that happened today which I will never forget." says Massa back to his best at WilliamsMon, 01 Dec 2014 16:19:22 GMTFelipe Massa is back to his very best following a successful 2014 season according to Williams performance engineer Rob Smedley. Massa went from title contender in 2008 to midfield driver following his 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix accident which saw him sit out much of the season in order to recover from a serious head injury. He then went 35 races without a podium before returning to the top three in 2012 with two podiums and then another in 2013 - but he was outclassed by his Ferrari team-mate. However a move to Williams has seen Massa find his flow once again. He took three podium finishes, including second in Abu Dhabi were he almost denied Lewis Hamilton the victory. His recent results and his new relaxed attitude are signs that the Brazilian is back on form, according to long-time friend and engineer Smedley. "When I first turned up [at Williams] and saw how relaxed he was in this environment, I knew that we could start to get the results that he should be getting," the Briton is quoted as saying by Autosport. "And I think that has just been compounded as the year has gone on, and as he has enjoyed the environment more he has got better and better. "I think in Abu Dhabi you saw the very best Felipe. He was absolutely flawless; he didn't put a foot wrong, there was lots of information coming back, he was involved in the strategy," he explained. "That's what a top driver does. A top driver gets involved and he leads from the front."'s McLaren reunion won't be like last time - HamiltonMon, 01 Dec 2014 16:05:09 GMTFernando Alonso won't endure the same troubles he experienced at McLaren in 2007 when he partnered Lewis Hamilton, when he returns to the outfit next season. That's the view of Hamilton, who reckons both Alonso and McLaren have changed since the troubled season which saw the Spaniard terminate his contract early despite coming to within one point of the title. "It is an interesting decision with the team, but I wish him all the best," said Hamilton, who was asked for his opinion on the pairing during a Merceds 'Stars and Cars' event at the weekend. "It will be a new experience for them," he added. "Fernando has grown a huge amount over the years, both as a driver and maturity wise as well. "And, having the experience previously with Ron, he will definitely have a much better handle on it and won't be in a tricky situation like last time." Alonso is set to be confirmed as a McLaren driver next week, with the team meeting on Thursday to finalise who his team-mate will be, with Jenson Button, Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne in the running. 'No more tension between me and Rosberg'Sun, 30 Nov 2014 16:54:41 GMTLewis Hamilton claims the tension between him and team-mate Nico Rosberg, which built up to boiling point over the 2014 season, has now "disappeared" following the season finale in Abu Dhabi. The pair's relationship was strained on several occasions during the season. A tough duel in Bahrain followed by a qualifying error in Monaco by Rosberg was a tipping point for their friendship. Things went downhill from there, particularly after the pair made contact in Belgium. Their differences and a close title battle has all been put behind them according to the 2014 champion though. "We had a filming day the other day and all that tension [has] disappeared," Hamilton told BBC Sport. "It goes back to being two normal individuals talking about the normal things guys talk about. "You saw Nico come over after the race [in Abu Dhabi] and that underlined the respect we have for each other, and even though we had difficult times through the year we came out strong." Neither have regrets about what happened during the season, despite the very public problems and the way the title eventually panned out. "I wouldn't change it for the world," added Hamilton. "Even though there were low moments, I came out stronger in the end so I'm glad things worked out the way they did." "Regrets? No, because it's often in difficult experiences you grow the most and learn the most," said Rosberg. "All in all it's been a great year. The end result didn't go the way I wanted but now, taking a step back, it has been such an awesome experience." eyeing IndyCar switch after STR snubSun, 30 Nov 2014 13:53:20 GMTJean-Eric Vergne is eyeing a switch to IndyCar for the 2015 season after missing out on a seat at Toro Rosso, whilst his chances of securing an F1 seat elsewhere look unlikely. The Frenchman has spent three years in the sport with Red Bull's junior team and has only been beaten by a team-mate during one of those seasons - Daniel Ricciardo in 2013. Despite outscoring Daniil Kvyat by 14 points this year, it was the Russian who secured a promotion to Red Bull alongside Ricciardo, whilst Vergne was left out in the cold at Toro Rosso with Max Verstappen lining up alongside Carlos Sainz Jr. The 24-year-old is therefore looking further afield, with America's IndyCar a likely alternative, though he admitted he has some options to remain in F1, with a Williams reserve role rumoured to be in the works. "I would be really interested in racing in America in IndyCar; I think it's a great championship," he told Racer. "Toro Rosso isn't really a team where you can stay for a long time, even if you beat your team-mates. If I look at what Ricciardo is doing this year and what I'm doing this year, I'm confident I can do the same as him. "I'm not really bitter to leave Toro Rosso, I have some other options in Formula 1, but I want to get back into a series where I can win races and win championships." Vergne accepts that the two series are wide apart and he would therefore face a steep learning curve, but it's a challenge he would relish. "I don't pretend I would win everything, or have an easy time on the ovals; it's a lot to learn coming from Europe, but many European drivers have become quite good on ovals with some experience, and with so many road courses and street races, I know I can be very effective," he added. "I have always loved racing in America, and I have always been very interested in IndyCar. The timing is very good right now to make this happen."'s assets to be auctioned off in DecemberSun, 30 Nov 2014 13:03:55 GMTMarussia's assets are to be auctioned off in mid-December by order of FRP Advisory, the administrators currently in charge of the Banbusy-based team. The outfit entered administration following the Russian Grand Prix but hoped to return to the grid in Abu Dhabi. However the funding failed to come through ahead of the deadline and the team were forced to sit out the final race of the 2014 season. A return next season looks almost impossible, with FRP Advisory closing the team's headquarters and putting its assets up for sale. CA Global Partners will handle the auction, with a list of items ranging from transporters to spares and even the team's 50 per cent scale model of their 2015 car (pictured). The auction takes place between December 16-17 at their base in Banbury. More information can be found here. Jr to race alongside Verstappen at Toro RossoFri, 28 Nov 2014 18:25:06 GMTCarlos Sainz Jr will drive alongside Max Verstappen at Toro Rosso next season, giving the Italian team an all-rookie line-up for 2015. The Spaniard replaces Jean-Eric Vergne who recently confirmed he was out of the running for the seat, despite the Frenchman being favoured by team principal Franz Tost. The decision was ultimately made by Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko who wanted to promote 'new blood' to the team, rather than retaining Vergne for a fourth season. The 20-year-old said the decision finally allowed him to realise his career goal of landing a seat in Formula 1. "I am really happy to have landed the drive with Scuderia Toro Rosso," said Sainz Jr. "Ever since I have been part of Red Bull's Young Driver Programme, this has been my aim and I want to thank Red Bull for putting their faith in me. "I have had a very successful season in World Series by Renault this year and now I am looking forward to taking the step up to Formula 1. I tested for a day with Toro Rosso last year and I liked the atmosphere in the team. In the next few months I will be working hard on my preparation, ready to get in the cockpit in Jerez for the first test of next year. It will be nice to make my "official" debut as a Formula 1 driver in my home country!" Franz Tost added: "With Carlos Sainz joining Max Verstappen in our driver line-up next year, we continue the Toro Rosso tradition of providing youngsters from the Red Bull Junior Driver Programme with their first steps in Formula 1. "I have watched Carlos progress through the junior categories, always improving as he moved higher up the ladder, culminating in a well-deserved win in this year’s World Series. However, I also remember the day’s testing he did with us at Silverstone in 2013 in the STR8. He really surprised me and his engineers that day, with his mature approach and his speed." Sainz Jr took the standard route into motorsport, winning the Asia-Pacific KF3 karting title in 2008 and two years later he made his single-seater debut in Formula BMW, before moving up the ranks through Formula Renault 2.0, British Formula 3, then GP3 in 2013. This year has seen Sainz become the youngest ever winner of the World Series by Renault 3.5 Championship. Last week, Carlos drove in the Abu Dhabi test for Infiniti Red Bull Racing. hopes to improve fan experience with think-tankFri, 28 Nov 2014 15:22:11 GMTA new think-tank has been created by Formula 1 to improve the overall experience for fans during and away from races next season and beyond. The Promotional Working Group will meet at various points ahead of the 2015 season and throughout, in order to brainstorm ways of making the sport more engaging for fans, as well as promoting itself better away from the track in order to attract new fans. The first meeting was held last week and chaired by Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams, who said about the group: "It's going to look at promotional opportunities around F1, to ensure that we have sustainability moving forward in to the future." The details of the meeting haven't been made public, but it's believed a number of changes including opening the pit lane up for Thursday track walks at all circuits was discussed, as was improving interaction with drivers during race weekends and making them more accessible. Despite Bernie Ecclestone's comments about social media and young fans, a push to engage with fans online through various platforms is also on the agenda and it comes as the sport is due to launch a brand new website ahead of next season, which it hopes will integrate well with social media websites. All proposals will go before the Strategy Group where they will be voted on before being implemented or scrapped. Bull should have been banned for cheating - Force IndiaFri, 28 Nov 2014 10:01:27 GMTRed Bull's penalty for using an illegal front-wing in Abu Dhabi was far too lenient according to Force India's technical director Andy Green. The Milton Keynes outfit's cars were both excluded from Saturday's qualifying results, dropping them to the back of the grid before both Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel opted to start from the pit lane. This was after the FIA scrutineers found their front-wing flaps to be overly flexible - something which can bring huge gains in laptime if done correctly as not only can it decrease downforce when it isn't needed, but it can also stall elements of the car such as the front-wing and even the diffuser, therefore increasing top-speed. However flexible wings aren't uncommon, but it's the way in which Red Bull made their wing flex that Green believes should have warranted greater punishment. The FIA discovered small springs hidden inside the wing which controlled the movement - a clear contravention of the rules. "If this had happened to us, we would have been excluded like BAR in 2005 with its hidden fuel tanks," he said. "But Red Bull only had to start from the pitlane. "It was a less severe penalty for illegal wings than Lotus had for Romain Grosjean's legal engine change." promoted to Williams official test driverFri, 28 Nov 2014 09:41:33 GMTSusie Wolff will get behind the wheel of the Williams FW37 next season during at least two free practice sessions following her promotion to official test driver. The British racer was formerly Williamd development driver, but with the departure of Felipe Nasr to Sauber, the team has handed the role to Wolff. She was also take part in pre-season testing duties, confirmed the team Grove outfit. "Susie will be driving the Williams Mercedes FW37 in two FP1 sessions and two test days during the 2015 Formula One season," read a statement. "She will also be conducting extensive simulator testing to help in the ongoing development of the FW37 and FW38." Speaking about her enhance role, she said: "This is another step in the right direction for me. I am delighted Williams are recognising my progression, hard work and that it is performance that counts," said Wolff. "Williams is at a very exciting stage in its history and we are moving into 2015 with fantastic momentum, I'm proud to be part of the team. I'll be using my position to work closely with Felipe and Valtteri to make sure that the FW37 builds on the strong performance shown by the FW36." Claire Williams, deputy team principal, added: "We are delighted to have Susie continuing with the team next season in this new role. She continues to impress us with her strong technical knowledge, the feedback she delivers and the performance when she drives the car both on the track and in the simulator. "She has steadily increased her time behind the wheel since she joined us in April 2012 and her appointment as Official Test Driver was a natural progression. We have a very strong and stable driver line-up for 2015 and this will be a key asset as we look to build on a positive 2014 season." aware Ferrari won't challenge Mercedes in '15Thu, 27 Nov 2014 17:53:24 GMTSebastian Vettel says he's fully aware that his new team, Ferrari, won't be challenging Mercedes for race wins in 2015 after admitting a return to form for the Italian marque will take time. He is however confident success will come eventually, though admits the move from Red Bull is a massive risk. "I am not fooling myself that we will be able to take on Mercedes next year," he told Germany's Die Welt. "I am very aware that we at Ferrari have a big job coming up that will take time - especially when Mercedes has such a huge competitive advantage." His decision to switch was well considered and one the four-time champion says he wouldn't have made if he didn't believe he could add to his title tally. "Every change is a step into the unknown and therefore a risk. But I thought a lot about this decision before taking it," he explained. "If I was not convinced that I can be successful there, I would not be doing it. "At first, I just want to prove that it was the right decision - for Ferrari and for me. That will take some time." to race for Porsche in Le Mans next yearThu, 27 Nov 2014 17:09:39 GMTNico Hulkenberg has confirmed that he will race in Le Mans next season with Porsche, alongside his commitments with the Force India F1 Team. The German will get behind the wheel of the third Porsche 919 in Belgium as part of a practice run for Le Mans later in the year. "Porsche and Le Mans - this combination probably attracts every race driver," said Hulkenberg. "I've been a Porsche fan for a long time and have been watching their return to the LMP1 class closely. "The desire grew to drive that car at Le Mans. I am very pleased the 2015 Formula 1 calendar allows for it and I'm grateful to my Force India Formula 1 team's generosity to let me go for it. "Now it's up to me to work hard to satisfy both commitments." Teams rarely allow their drivers to compete in other forms of motorsport outside of the F1 commitments, but Force India's decisions means Hulkenberg will be the first full-time F1 driver to race in Le Mans since Sebastien Bourdais in 2009. snatches Unilever sponsor from LotusThu, 27 Nov 2014 16:17:57 GMTLotus has lost one of its largest sponsors in the form of consumer giant Unilever, which has switched from the Enstone outfit to one just down the road. The Williams FW37 will now feature Unilever's Rexona - known as Sure in the United Kingdom - branding on its sidepods, front-wing and front-wishbones. The team has enjoyed a resurgent season in which it finished third in the constructors' championship compared with ninth last season, whilst Lotus has fallen from fourth in 2013 to eighth this year. Speaking about the decision to partner with Williams, Rexona's global brand VP Santiago Iturralde said: "As the number one global top performance deodorant brand we are delighted to announce this partnership with Williams Martini Racing. Formula One exudes performance and is a captivating sport for millions of our consumers worldwide. "The adrenaline, stress, temperature and movement that the drivers, team and fans experience during a Formula One race undoubtedly make them sweat. This is the ultimate torture test for a deodorant – and Rexona won't let you down." Furthermore Williams Advanced Engineering, the technology and engineering services business of the Williams Group, will be working with Unilever to provide support in the areas of sustainability and efficiency. Claire Williams, deputy team principal, added: "We're delighted to be partnering with a company of Unilever's global stature in what is a long term collaboration. Williams has a history of partnering with consumer brands to elevate their global reach and we will be using the full range of marketing tools afforded by Formula One and Williams to help Unilever and Rexona achieve their goals. "We both have a commitment to sustainability and we will be sharing Williams Advanced Engineering’s growing expertise in energy efficient technologies to jointly tackle this important issue." adamant their front-wing is legalThu, 27 Nov 2014 13:30:39 GMTWilliams have denied claims their front-wing is illegal following comments from Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, which suggested it was. Red Bull's two cars were excluded from qualifying in Abu Dhabi after the FIA found its front-wings failed load tests - therefore flexed outside the allowed tolerance - during scrutineering. Horner accepted that they had pushed the regulations to the limit, but suggested rivals, such as Williams, were doing exactly the same and later claimed Red Bull had been singled out. This was denied by Williams' performance chief Rob Smedley who confirmed that their FW36 underwent the same load tests and was cleared by the FIA. "I think the FIA tested quite a few front wing flaps, certainly ours was tested, and it was passed as being legal," said the Briton. "We had conversations with the FIA over the weekend, and in the end they were content with what we were doing, that we weren't infringing the regulations. "What other teams are doing I can't really comment on, but certainly we had a legal car." He too conceded that teams are pushing the limits of what's legal and what isn't and it all depends on how far you choose to push the rules. "I am sure Horner's correct that all teams are pushing, it just all depends on how far you are going to push doesn't it?" he added. drops double points and standing restartsThu, 27 Nov 2014 10:29:22 GMTFormula 1 bosses have agreed to drop the controversial double points rule as well as the proposal for standing restarts in 2015 following a meeting this week in Abu Dhabi. Both rules courted strong negative opinion from F1 fans when they were announced. Whilst standing restarts - where drivers would be required to line up on the grid in position following a safety car period - was put aside for further discussion, double points was implemented immediately. The rule swung the title battle in Nico Rosberg's favour despite the German having only won five races to Lewis Hamilton's ten at the time. Eventually the rule had no say in the outcome when Rosberg's car hit trouble and he limped across the line in 14th, but the strong criticism, even from those who voted for it, will now see it dropped completely. Also up for discussion was cost cutting ideas to help ease the financial strain of a handful of smaller outfits. Very little is believed to have been agreed other than some teams being able to use 2014's power units at a reduced price, rather than upgrading to the 2015 unit. The strategy group also agreed that F1's radio ban would remain in its current form, rather than tightening up on what can and can't be shared. rules himself out of 2015 Toro Rosso seatWed, 26 Nov 2014 15:46:08 GMTJean-Eric Vergne has confirmed that he won't drive for Toro Rosso next season, therefore it's unlikely he will have a seat at all with the majority already having been confirmed. The Frenchman was believed to have been in the running to partner rookie Max Verstappen following a strong season, but he confirmed on Twitter that it won't be the case. "Despite a good season and 22 points, I'll not drive anymore for Toro Rosso in 2015," he said. "Thanks for those years. Let's go for another big challenge." Vergne is expected to join Williams as a reserve driver following Felipe Nasr's promotion to a race seat at Sauber next year. Alex Lynn or Carlos Sainz Jr are now favourites to partner Verstappen. puts Mercedes top as McLaren-Honda struggleWed, 26 Nov 2014 15:11:46 GMTMercedes reserve Pascal Wehrlein put the title winning team at the top of the times on the second and final day of the post-season Abu Dhabi test on Wednesday. The German's lap was over half a second better than Raffaele Mariciello managed in the Ferrari F14T, whilst Toro Rosso's Max Verstappen was over a second off. Marcus Ericsson had his second outing with Sauber, clocking up 112 laps in the process and finished fourth fastest ahead of Caterham's Will Stevens. Formula Renault 3.5 race winner Spike Goddard was sixth for Force India, with Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo seventh. McLaren-Honda continued its disappointing start with Stoffel Vandoorne completing just two laps, added to his three from Tuesday, puts McLaren's total at just five. Another electrical issue kept the interim MP4-29H/1X1 in the garage for most of the day. Full Times - Abu Dhabi Post-Season Test: #DriverTeamTimeGapLaps 01 Pascal Wehrlein Mercedes 1:42.624   96 02 Raffaele Marciello Ferrari 1:43.208 0.584 91 03 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:43.763 1.139 78 04 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:44.551 1.927 112 05 Will Stevens Caterham 1:44.888 2.264 76 06 Spike Goddard Force India 1:44.944 2.320 89 07 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:45.151 2.527 88 08 Luiz Felipe Nasr Williams 1:45.937 3.313 83 09 Alex Lynn Lotus 1:46.168 3.544 52 10 Esteban Ocon Lotus 1:47.013 4.389 34 11 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 2 India trial Hamilton's 'Info Wing' in Abu DhabiWed, 26 Nov 2014 12:19:39 GMTForce India attached a device to their car on Wednesday morning during the Abu Dhabi post-season test which its designer, Lewis Hamilton's father Anthony, hopes will help grandstand spectators to identify what position a car is in during the race. The screen, dubbed the 'Info Wing', is a small LED display on either side of the car which can display race position, a driver's initials, number of pit stops and tyre compound. There are concerns it won't be visible in sunlight and may therefore only be suited for night races, but this is an issue Hamilton is confident of working round with an improved device before its actual debut. The system is being trialled by Force India and supervised by the FIA in the hope it can be introduced on all cars for the 2015 season. 'We'll go to Melbourne thinking we can win'Tue, 25 Nov 2014 18:45:17 GMTMcLaren might have only completed three laps during their first public test day with the new McLaren-Honda MP4-29H/1X1, but racing director Eric Boullier is already targeting race wins. The Frenchman explained that electrical problems and checks in the morning meant they had to postpone their programme until the afternoon, but added that delays were expected as seen during pre-season testing this year when Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari were getting to grips with their new power units. "First, we obviously had a plan that we are already modifying three times this morning! There is obviously a lot of system checks, which means you go run by run," said Boullier. "Short runs first, it's not about chassis, tyres or anything like this. It's not about anything else but taking care of different parts of the engine, reliability, energy recovery and checking every code on everything we can." The aim for Wednesday is to complete more laps before turning the power up a little, but he warned that they wouldn't be pushing for a competitive lap time. "It's going to take us about maybe ten runs to go through before we go into another phase, which is putting a longer run to see if there is no default value or anything going wrong after three laps. "That is going to be the plan and to gradually try to charge more the engine and try to push to, maybe not the limit in these two days, but put more on the electrical package and recovery trying to see if we can go through the mileage and all the runs. At the end we will definitely not try to set a lap time because we are not working at all on the car, it's to try to push the engine and the recovery system." When asked about McLaren-Honda's objectives for 2015, Boullier didn't shy away from demanding immediate results. "We all want to go into Melbourne thinking we can win the race," Boullier added. "I know we can dream, but we are pushing to have this target because it's the only way for us to deliver what we want." quickest on opening day of Abu Dhabi testTue, 25 Nov 2014 17:00:14 GMTValtteri Bottas was the quickest man during the first day of post-season testing in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, posting a 1:43.396, putting him almost half a second clear of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen. Sebastian Vettel was left watching from the Ferrari garage after Red Bull denied him early leave from his contract to get behind the wheel of the F14T. Nico Rosberg as third for Mercedes, with Force India's Jolyon Palmer fourth and Carlos Sainz Jr. fifth for Red Bull. McLaren's MP4-29H/1X1 made its public debut, but not until the afternoon after electrical problems kept Stoffel Vandoorne in the garage. On its first lap of three, Vandoorne had to coast into the pits after the new Honda engine stalled, but he reappeared two hours later and caused a red flag when he stopped on track. Max Verstappen's day went even worse when his car ended up in the wall following a suspension failure. Full Times - Abu Dhabi Post-Season Test: #DriverTeamTimeGapLaps 01 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:43.396   80 02 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:43.888 0.492 81 03 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:44.512 1.116 114 04 Jolyon Palmer Force India 1:44.516 1.120 37 05 Carlos Sainz Jr. Red Bull 1:45.339 1.943 100 06 Will Stevens Caterham 1:45.436 2.040 102 07 Charles Pic Lotus 1:46.167 2.771 89 08 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:46.487 3.091 95 09 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:47.194 3.798 55 10 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 3 says he'll keep #44 on his car next yearTue, 25 Nov 2014 11:44:44 GMTLewis Hamilton has vowed to continue using #44 on his car next season despite earning the right to use #1 as Formula 1's most recent champion. As part of a rule change for the 2014 season, drivers were asked to choose a number between #2 and #99 which would remain with them for their F1 career. However, the champion has the right to use #1 in place of their chosen number, as Sebastian Vettel did this year. He will use #5 next season with Ferrari after passing the crown to Hamilton. Hamilton however says he will push Mercedes to let him continue using #44 on his car next season as it holds a lot of memories for the 29-year-old who won his first karting championship with the same number. If successful, 2015 will be the first season since 1994 not to feature #1 after Damon Hill ran with #0 following the retirement of champion Nigel Mansell. admits he's glad to see back of '14 seasonMon, 24 Nov 2014 15:51:51 GMTRomain Grosjean says he's glad the 2014 season has finally finished after enduring his worst ever season in which he scored just eight points. That compares with the Frenchman's success the year before when he scored 132 points and claimed six podiums. "We did the best we could here," Grosjean said after finishing 13th. "My race wasn't that eventful and I think that we are all glad that the season is now over. "I am already looking forward to being in the simulator to test the E23. We have a new Power Unit and aerodynamically next year's car is looking like a great step forward. "Now it is time to take a break, recharge our batteries and look forward to 2015." Team-mate Pastor Maldonado shares Grosjean's view after a fiery end to his season in Abu Dhabi which saw him retire from the race on lap 26. "Unfortunately, my race had to end early," said the Venezuelan. "The flames showed the engine wasn't working too well which also meant it was getting quite hot in the car! "It is a shame to finish a season like we did, but I know we have a lot of potential for 2015, so I am really looking forward to surprising some people when we return." Rosberg reflects on missing out on the titleMon, 24 Nov 2014 15:41:10 GMTA brave, battling drive in the toughest of circumstances saw Nico Rosberg's World Championship campaign come to a heroic if unsuccessful conclusion at the Yas Marina Circuit.'s rivals congratulate him on his second titleMon, 24 Nov 2014 15:36:41 GMTLewis Hamilton's rivals and even prime minister David Cameron tweeted their congratulations to the double-world champion following his Abu Dhabi victory. An incredible season of highs (and some lows) for @LewisHamilton. What was your highlight? #W05LDCHAMPION #F1 — MERCEDES AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) November 24, 2014 Tough end.Would have loved to fight til last corner. Congrats, lewis.u deserve the title. Special year with the team. — Nico Rosberg (@nico_rosberg) November 23, 2014 Congrats to the world champion @LewisHamilton !! Amazing performance every race!! #welldone — Fernando Alonso (@alo_oficial) November 23, 2014 First of all a massive congrats to my old team mate and buddy @lewishamilton on his second title. 1 title is special 2 is spectacular!! — Jenson Button (@JensonButton) November 24, 2014 And of course well done @LewisHamilton ! Really good drive all year and nice battles with @nico_rosberg ! — Romain Grosjean (@RGrosjean) November 24, 2014 Wow that was a pretty fun race 😊 firstly big congrats to the new WC @LewisHamilton well deserved a top season! As for us I thought we made.. — Daniel Ricciardo (@danielricciardo) November 23, 2014 Huge congrats to our old mate @LewisHamilton, brilliant season and worthy #DoubleWorldChampion. #AbuDhabiGP — McLaren (@McLarenF1) November 23, 2014 Huge congrats @LewisHamilton on becoming #F1 World Champion! Big congrats to @MercedesAMGF1 too! Bring on 2015 ;) — Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) November 23, 2014 #FerrariABUGP Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton), 2014 World Champion! Congratulazioni a Lewis Hamilton, iridato 2014! — Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) November 23, 2014 Congratulations @LewisHamilton and @MercedesAMGF1, great effort @nico_rosberg! — Lotus F1 Team (@Lotus_F1Team) November 23, 2014 Congratulations to @LewisHamilton and @MercedesAMGF1 - what a fantastic season! Worthy winners. — Sahara Force India (@clubforce) November 23, 2014 Congratulations to Lewis brilliant race for him great championship for him .happy for him sorry for Nico both Class Acts — Nigel Mansell CBE (@nigelmansell) November 23, 2014 PM: Congratulations to @LewisHamilton on winning the #AbuDhabiGP and his second #F1 world title. A great day for British motorsport — UK Prime Minister (@Number10gov) November 23, 2014 Hamilton and Button attempt donuts in Abu DhabiMon, 24 Nov 2014 12:22:19 GMTLewis Hamilton and Jenson Button both had reason to make some noise and please the crowd in Abu Dhabi. The former, having won the title and the race, whilst the latter might have just competed in his last ever Formula 1 race. Check out the above video as they both complete some donuts, sort of, but no matter the crowd love a bit of smoke regardless. replaced by Arrivabene, confirm FerrariMon, 24 Nov 2014 12:12:07 GMTMarco Mattiacci will leave Ferrari despite only taking over the reigns of the Formula 1 team seven months ago, Ferrari confirmed on Monday. The Italian will be replaced by Maurizio Arrivabene, who has joined from long-time sponsor Philip Morris, owner the Marlboro tobacco company. Fiat and Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne, who replaced Luca di Montezemolo earlier this year, said the decision was made as part of Ferrari's effort to improve on the track. "We decided to appoint Maurizio Arrivabene because, at this historic moment in time for the Scuderia and for Formula 1, we need a person with a thorough understanding not just of Ferrari but also of the governance mechanisms and requirements of the sport," said Marchionne. "Maurizio has a unique wealth of knowledge: he has been extremely close to the Scuderia for years and, as a member of the F1 Commission, is also keenly aware of the challenges we are facing. "He has been a constant source of innovative ideas focused on revitalisation of Formula One. His managerial experience on a highly complex and closely regulated market is also of great importance, and will help him manage and motivate the team. I am delighted to have been able to secure his leadership for our racing activities." Marchionne thanked Mattiacci for his services both as Ferrari's 'stand-in' team principal and for his work with Ferrari North America. "We would also like to thank Marco Mattiacci for his service to Ferrari in the last 15 years and we wish him well in his future endeavours." Another rumour which circulated the Abu Dhabi paddock was that of the return of Ross Brawn to Ferrari, however the Briton as denied the news. Though Sky Sports later linked him to Audi's rumoured F1 project for the 2017 season. Dhabi post-season test: Driver line-upMon, 24 Nov 2014 12:02:45 GMTThe season might have finished with Lewis Hamilton crowned champion, but the work doesn't stop there for a handful of the drivers and teams. A post-season test - formally the young driver test - will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Abu Dhabi Yas Marina circuit. Here is the full line-up for the test session which sees a handful of rookies take to the track, mixed with a few current and future drivers as well. Abu Dhabi Post-Season Test Line-Up: #TeamTuesdayWednesday 01 Mercedes Nico Rosberg Pascal Wehrlein 02 Red Bull Carlos Sainz Daniel Ricciardo 03 Williams Valtteri Bottas Felipe Nasr 04 Ferrari Raffaele Marciello Kimi Raikkonen 05 McLaren Stoffel Vandoorne Stoffel Vandoorne 06 Force India Jolyon Palmer Spike Goddard 07 Toro Rosso Max Verstappen Max Verstappen 08 Lotus Esteban Ocon Esteban Ocon (TBC) 09 Sauber Marcus Ericsson Marcus Ericsson 10 Caterham Will Stevens Will Stevens vows to come back even stronger in 2015Mon, 24 Nov 2014 09:15:27 GMTLewis Hamilton has vowed to come back even stonger in 2015 as he already looks to defend his championship crown with Mercedes. The Briton won the title in style in Abu Dhabi on Sunday by winning the race to take the full 50 points on offer, but he restrained himself in the evening by having a quiet meal with his family before joining his Mercedes team at a celebratory party. "I had one drink last night and that is more than good for me," said Hamilton on Monday morning during a press conference in which the other members of the team looked a little worse for wear. Already looking ahead, Hamilton says he aims to be an even stronger driver next season to give him the best chance of retaining the championship. "Naturally it is going to be a dream to be able to go into next season and go in even stronger. That will be the goal," he said. "I have absolute faith in the team that we will come in very, very strong next year." The 29-year-old is aware of the areas he needs to improve, particularly qualifying which saw him outclassed by team-mate Nico Rosberg 12-7. "This year has shown that race day is the most important," he added. "But it definitely makes the race twice as hard when you are not ahead of your team-mate with the same car. "When you look back over the years, 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, I am able to utilise my tyres as good as anyone, and position my car in the right way to be able to get past people and use my racecraft. That is the greatest feeling. "Of course qualifying is an area that I will work hard to improve on next year, but I have no worries on that. "Nico did a great job, especially with his qualifying laps, but I will look into the detail to see how I can improve next year." hints at long-term agreement with McLarenSun, 23 Nov 2014 20:17:45 GMTFernando Alonso has revealed that he has signed a long-term deal with a new team, but failed to confirm exactly which team. It's widely expected that the Spaniard will join McLaren for the 2015 season, but many expected him to sign a short-term deal in an effort to move to Mercedes or Red Bull in the future. However if the rumours turn out to be true, then Alonso's admission shows he's committed to making the McLaren-Honda project a success. "It's time to look to the future with optimism and prepare for 2015 in a better way," Alonso said after finishing his last Ferrari race in ninth. "We need to see how things go for everyone next year. Mercedes definitely have a big advantage and they will probably carry this advantage into next year. "But I will join a project that is not for next year only, it is a long-term relationship and it is a project which will hopefully challenge Mercedes soon and this is why I have made this decision. "I am looking forward to the future with enthusiasm because when you join a new project it is because you think it is better," he added. Meanwhile a close friend of Alonso, King Juan Carlos I of Spain, let slip that Alonso will soon arrive in Woking. When the two-time champion was asked about the former King's comments, he said: "What the king says I cannot go against. The king is the king. He is always right." 'Hamilton deserved to win the championship'Sun, 23 Nov 2014 16:11:57 GMTNico Rosberg has called team-mate Lewis Hamilton a "deserving champion" despite reliability troubles effectively deciding the title battle in Abu Dhabi. "All in all, Lewis deserved to win the championship," said Rosberg. The German started on pole but lost out to Hamilton at the start as the Briton aced the getaway to take the lead. However Rosberg remained close until his energy-recovery-system failed, but Rosberg isn't dwelling on the point and doesn't believe he would have won. "I'm very disappointed, but what happened to me had no impact, it did not change anything, so there is no point focusing on that," he explained. "He did just a little bit better than me. The positive is I've been the better qualifier over the last two years and that gives me a good base. "I came very close and it is a pity it did not work out, but I'm proud to have been here with the team," he added. "It's been an intense battle but a great battle. I race for battles like that. Lewis has been the best and it has been a great challenge. Most of the time it has been extremely enjoyable." 'Second title means even more than first'Sun, 23 Nov 2014 15:56:18 GMTLewis Hamilton was crowned the 2014 Formula 1 World Champion in Abu Dhabi on Sunday and he described it as 'even more special' than his first championship victory which he took with McLaren in 2008. Speaking immediately after the race, the Briton expressed his sympathy for team-mate Nico Rosberg after he ran into trouble during the race which cost Hamilton a true fight for the title. "I can't really explain how much this means," he said. "It means even more than the first one. It feels like it's the first time and I feel so blessed. "Nico put on an incredible fight throughout the year. He was a phenomenal competitor. We met each other back in 1997 and we always said it'd be amazing to be racing in the same team and fighting for the world championship. He did an amazing job today. "Very sad obviously to know the car wasn't quick enough so he couldn't fight in the end." Hamilton thanked Rosberg for congratulating him on his success. "Still he was graceful enough to come up to me just now," he added. "He just came into the room, very professional, and he said 'you drove really well'. And same for him – all year long he drove incredibly well, especially in qualifying, so hat off to him." wins in Abu Dhabi and takes 2014 titleSun, 23 Nov 2014 14:51:28 GMTLewis Hamilton became a two-time World Champion on Sunday as he secured victory at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to claim the full 50 points on offer. The Mercedes driver started the race in second but capitalised immediately with a great start to jump team-mate Nico Rosberg before they'd even reached turn one. Throughout the race Rosberg kept Hamilton fairly honest, never dropping more than four seconds behind, however trouble struck the German after 30 or so laps when his ERS failed and he began to lose ground quickly, eventually dropping to 14th come the final lap. It was Felipe Massa who capitalised on Rosberg's troubles to take second on the podium, though he looked set to battle Hamilton for the lead but eventually finished two seconds adrift. The second Williams of Valtteri Bottas was third to hand the Grove outfit their first double-podium since 2005 and to secure them third in the championship ahead of Ferrari as well as securing fourth for Bottas in the Drivers' title. Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo may have had the drive of the race as he came through the pack after starting from the pit lane to finish fourth, just missing out on a podium. Jenson Button came home fifth to secure McLaren's place in the championship ahead of Force India whose drivers came in sixth and seventh ahead of Sebastian Vettel and the Ferrari pairing. Race Result - 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: #DriverTeamGapPts 01 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes   50 02 Felipe Massa Williams +2.5 36 03 Valtteri Bottas Williams +28.8 30 04 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +37.2 24 05 Jenson Button McLaren +60.3 20 06 Nico Hulkenberg Force India +62.1 16 07 Sergio Perez Force India +71.0 12 08 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull +72.0 8 09 Fernando Alonso Ferrari +85.8 4 10 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +87.8 2 11 Kevin Magnussen McLaren +90.3   12 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso +91.9   13 Romain Grosjean Lotus +1 Lap   14 Nico Rosberg Mercedes +1 Lap   15 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber +1 Lap   16 Adrian Sutil Sauber +1 Lap   17 Will Stevens Caterham +1 Lap   18 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham Retired   19 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Retired   20 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Retired and Vettel to start race from pit laneSun, 23 Nov 2014 11:29:40 GMTThe FIA has confirmed that both Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel will start the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from the pit lane as a result of being excluded from Saturday's qualifying result. During scrutineering Red Bull were found to have been using an illegal front-wing on both cars which was flexing outside the allowed tolerances. As well as being excluded and pushed to the back of the grid, the team were forced to change their front-wing for one which met the technical regulations. To do this, both cars had to be removed from parc fermé conditons and therefore, as per the rules, they must start from the pit lane. "Car 1 and 3 is required to start the race from the pit lane," confirmed a statement from the race stewards. "Although the team carried out work with the approval of the technical delegate, parts have been replaced on the car that are different to those originally used." Click here to see the revised F1 grid for the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. hits out at F1's 'big boys' in Twitter rantSat, 22 Nov 2014 20:28:23 GMTForce India co-owner and team principal Vijay Mallya has hit out at Formula 1's big teams amid the ongoing financial argument that centers around how F1's revenues are distributed. The Indian billionaire posted his views on Twitter and poked particular fun at Red Bull following their recent exclusion from Saturday's qualifying results. "A big F1 team that says we small outfits should not come with bananas to a gun fight, grabs maximum money and cheats on the regulations," he wrote. "Arrogance and a superiority complex on the part of those who are paid to be in F1 should not dilute or colour those who pay to be in F1," added Mallya in reference to the huge multi-million pound payouts the 'big five' receive for simply being in F1 regardless of where they finish in the standings, unlike Force India which only receives prize money based on its results. He added: "Have holders of purse strings and decision makers in F1 become slaves to the whims of the big boys and the contracts? What about F1 sport?" Despite Mallya's argument, it's believed Force India, Sauber and Lotus took a step forward in agreeing better financial distribution on Saturday when they met with Bernie Ecclestone and CVC's Donald MacKenzie. Bull pair excluded from qualifying by stewardsSat, 22 Nov 2014 17:48:39 GMTSebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo have both been excluded from qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after their cars were deemed to be in contravention of the technical regulations. The FIA's technical delegate Jo Bauer found that their front-wing flaps deflected outside the allowed tolerance under aerodynamic load. Several members of the Red Bull team were seen discussing the matter with the race stewards on Saturday evening, but the stewards upheld Bauer's ruling and excluded both cars. Ricciardo had qualified fifth with Vettel sixth. Both have been allowed to start the race from the back of the grid, though it's likely they may start from the pitlane to make changes to their car. In a statement, Red Bull accepted the ruling but believed other teams were also breaking the rules: "We have been singled out for a front wing deflection test when it is clear that other teams are interpreting the rules in similar fashion." However the team haven't been singled out as stated, as all the cars in the top ten were tested on Saturday evening. As a result of the penalty, everyone from seventh and below is promoted two places. Revised Abu Dhabi Race Grid: #NoDriver Team Q1Q2Q3 01 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:41.308 1:41.459 1:40.480 02 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:41.207 1:40.920 1:40.866 03 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:42.346 1:41.376 1:41.025 04 19 Felipe Massa Williams 1:41.475 1:41.144 1:41.119 05 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:42.302 1:42.082 1:41.908 06 22 Jenson Button McLaren 1:42.137 1:41.875 1:41.964 07 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:42.439 1:42.168 1:42.236 08 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:42.467 1:41.940 1:42.866 09 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:42.104 1:42.198   10 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:42.413 1:42.207   11 11 Sergio Perez Force India 1:42.654 1:42.239   12 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:42.444 1:42.384   13 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:42.746 1:43.074   14 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:42.819     15 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:42.860     16 10 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:44.540     17 46 Will Stevens Caterham 1:45.095     18 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:42.768     19 3 Daniel Ricciardo* Red Bull 1:42.204 1:41.692 1:41.267 20 1 Sebastian Vettel* Red Bull 1:42.495 1:42.147 1:41.893 Bull backtrack on Vettel's early Ferrari testSat, 22 Nov 2014 17:16:22 GMTSebastian Vettel has revealed that Red Bull won't allow him to test for Ferrari next week, despite initially agreeing to the proposal. Vettel will move to the Italian marque next season and it was hoped that he would take part in the post-Abu Dhabi test session next week as a Ferrari driver. However, despite initially saying yes, Red Bull has backtracked on the decision according to Vettel. "It is a shame, especially because initially I was allowed and then I wasn't. It is what it is," he said on Saturday. "I don't know. All of a sudden something changed, I think as far as I understand, I don't know. "The technical people were panicking a little bit, afraid I might take some secrets..." His contract officially ends on December 5th, a week after the Abu Dhabi test concludes. hits out at Mattiacci over motivation commentsSat, 22 Nov 2014 17:03:40 GMTFernando Alonso has hit out at soon-to-be former team principal Marco Mattiacci for comments the Italian made on Friday about new signing Sebastian Vettel. Alonso believes the comments were a dig at him following his decision to leave the team after Mattiacci said it decided to sign Vettel because it wanted a driver with the "utmost motivation and commitment". He added: "I'm sure he [Vettel] will bring the phenomenal experience and the enthusiasm needed to go through certain difficult moments that are waiting for us." Alonso however revealed that Mattiacci tried on numerous occasions to re-sign the Spaniard, but gave up and signed Vettel when he realised Alonso was committed to leaving the team at the end of the year. "I heard the comments and I don't think they were very good," Alonso said. "If he tried to mean that I was not motivated, he arrived at Ferrari too late. "He's only been here for a few months and has not seen the five years that I've spent here and how I've fought every single race. "Probably I was too old when he tried to renew me [at the] Monza race, and he kept pushing, and pushing and having talks, and even in the last moment we had a lot of phone calls and e-mails that I still have in my computer. "Probably at that time I was not so old, but when I took my decision I guess he had to find another driver." Bull face FIA investigation over illegal front-wingSat, 22 Nov 2014 16:45:57 GMTRed Bull will likely start the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from the pitlane if they fail to convince the FIA that their front-wing is legal, after it failed scrutineering on Saturday evening. Daniel Ricciardo qualified fifth with team-mate Sebastian Vettel behind in sixth, but both those positions could be lost following the outcome of an investigation. The FIA's technical delegate Jo Bauer has referred the matter to the race stewards after examining the front-wing on the RB10. Bauer found two flaps were designed to flex outside of the allowed tolderance under force which could provide a significant advantage. "When checking the front-wing of car numbers 01 and 03 it was found that the front-wing flaps were designed to flex under aerodynamic load," read a statement from Bauer. "In my opinion this is not in compliance with Article 3.15 of the Formula One Technical Regulations. Therefore I am referring this matter to the stewards for their consideration." As a result, a team representative from Red Bull must attend the stewards office at 20:00 local time to hear the case. Should the stewards uphold Bauer's findings, then they must change the wing and start from the pitlane, or alternatively race under appeal. India and Perez agree new 'multi-year' dealSat, 22 Nov 2014 15:21:47 GMTForce India's driver line-up of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez will remain unchanged for the 2015 season following confirmation that the Mexican has signed a new contract. Whilst Hulkenberg agreed a new deal earlier in the season, Perez's future remained uncertain, but looks to be secure until at least 2016 after Force India described the new contract as a 'multi-year' deal. "It's good to announce my plans," said Perez on Saturday. "As soon as I joined Force India, I noticed the hunger and determination of everyone in the team, and I'm very proud to be part of that. "I feel at home here and I'm fully committed. I'm enjoying my racing and we've already celebrated some special results together. It’s important for me to establish myself in a team and have some continuity. The team have given me a competitive car this year and I believe we can continue to achieve great things together in the future." Team principal Vijay Mallya added: "I am delighted that Checo will continue with us. He’s a true racer who has done a fantastic job for us this season. The whole team has been impressed with his speed and racecraft, as well as his role away from the track. "He has a very bright future in Formula One and we will do our utmost to give him the equipment to match his talent. I look forward to celebrating more strong results with Checo this year and in years to come." beats title rival Hamilton to Abu Dhabi poleSat, 22 Nov 2014 15:09:08 GMTNico Rosberg took first blood on Saturday by securing pole position for the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - the last race of the season and the title decider. The German beat team-mate and title rival Lewis Hamilton by almost four-tenths as Hamilton's Q3 laps looked scrappy, but managed to secure second from Williams's Valtteri Bottas and therefore starts in a good position to secure the title as long as he can maintain second. The second Williams of Felipe Massa was fourth ahead of both Red Bulls, led by Daniel Ricciardo whose margin to Sebastian Vettel was an impressive six-tenths. Kimi Raikkonen came in behind Daniil Kvyat and Jenson Button to outqualify team-mate Fernando Alonso in tenth. Meanwhile at the back of the grid, Will Stevens made his qualifying debut and managed to get within half a second of the much experienced Kamui Kobayashi. Qualifying - 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix #NoDriver Team Q1Q2Q3 01 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:41.308 1:41.459 1:40.480 02 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:41.207 1:40.920 1:40.866 03 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:42.346 1:41.376 1:41.025 04 19 Felipe Massa Williams 1:41.475 1:41.144 1:41.119 05 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:42.204 1:41.692 1:41.267 06 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:42.495 1:42.147 1:41.893 07 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:42.302 1:42.082 1:41.908 08 22 Jenson Button McLaren 1:42.137 1:41.875 1:41.964 09 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:42.439 1:42.168 1:42.236 10 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:42.467 1:41.940 1:42.866 11 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:42.104 1:42.198   12 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:42.413 1:42.207   13 11 Sergio Perez Force India 1:42.654 1:42.239   14 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:42.444 1:42.384   15 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:42.746 1:43.074   16 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:42.768     17 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:42.819     18 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:42.860     19 10 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:44.540     20 46 Will Stevens Caterham 1:45.095 Rosberg pulls clear in final Abu Dhabi practiceSat, 22 Nov 2014 12:00:41 GMTNico Rosberg pulled clear of team-mate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton during final practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The German's best lap was over three-tenths quicker than Hamilton, though the Briton looked set to better his own, but a small mistake cost him vital tenths. Meanwhile Felipe Massa placed his Williams third ahead of Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, whilst McLaren's Jenson Button was sixth. The second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo was seventh, narrowly ahead of Valtteri Bottas. The top nine were covered by just 1.6 seconds, but exclude the Mercedes and that drops to just three-tenths, leaving the prospect of a close battle for third place on the grid. FP3 Full Times - 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: #No.DriverTeamTimeGapLaps 01 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:41.424   19 02 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:41.793 0.369 17 03 19 Felipe Massa Williams 1:42.429 1.005 18 04 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:42.653 1.229 8 05 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:42.679 1.255 19 06 22 Jenson Button McLaren 1:42.768 1.344 20 07 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:42.773 1.349 14 08 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:42.794 1.370 19 09 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:42.809 1.385 20 10 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:43.038 1.614 14 11 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:43.112 1.688 13 12 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:43.352 1.928 20 13 11 Sergio Perez Force India 1:43.360 1.936 19 14 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:43.501 2.077 18 15 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:43.643 2.219 24 16 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:43.718 2.294 17 17 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:43.778 2.354 18 18 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:44.022 2.598 22 19 10 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:45.044 3.620 16 20 46 Will Stevens Caterham 1:45.959 4.535 21 Bull, Ferrari digging F1's grave warns MercedesFri, 21 Nov 2014 23:53:26 GMTMercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has warned rivals Christian Horner of Red Bull and Marco Mattiacci of Ferrari that they're playing a dangerous game and potentially digging Formula 1's grave if they push ahead with their engine plans. Horner and Mattiacci are keen to see F1's engine rules relaxed to a degree that would allow unlimited development in 2015 and beyond, allowing rivals to catch up with the superior Mercedes unit. With Mercedes blocking their proposals for 2015, Horner and Mattiacci have taken things a step further and are ready to force a majority vote for the 2016 season, even going as far as calling for the return of V8 engines - something he has now backed down on - or a totally new power unit altogether. "Maybe we need to even go as far as looking at a different engine, y’know, a new engine," Horner said on Friday. "Maybe still a V6 but maybe a more simplified V6 that controls the cost. Cost of development, cost of supply to a team and to the privateer teams. I think that’s something we need to have a serious discussion about during the next strategy group. "Rather than perhaps going backwards with the V8, maybe we should potentially keep the basis of what’s been achieved but look at simplifying it because if the development costs stay at where they are, we will not attract new manufacturers into the sport and we may well drive current manufacturers out of the sport. So we have to think, not just about today but about the future." Mattiacci was in agreement. He too suggested something more drastic for the season after next because the costs are far too high. "Definitely we need to look at something different 2016. In terms of power unit and in terms of regulation," he said. "2015 is clear we will have to – at the moment – accept the status quo but definitely we are not going to accept the status quo for 2016. "The cost of the power unit is a problem. The fact that we cannot enhance our power unit during the season is a cost for us, for not performing. So, the difficulties that that the small teams are facing is an issue on the table – so I think all these problems are very well connected. I think that the strategy group and the F1 Commission are the proper arena where to touch these points trying to find a common direction but, indeed, 2016 is sort-of different." However Wolff argues that it would be crazy to drop the current engines after two seasons considering the millions that have been spent on developing them, added to that the cost of developing a new 'simpler' engine wouldn't help anyone. "We have a big responsibility for all teams and we need to look at the costs but you can’t turn the time back," he warned. "We are all talking about costs and if you would open up the regulations in the way it has been described, that clearly means you don’t care about costs because that would be like digging a grave for Formula One. "We have spent considerable amounts in the development of the power unit. I think we need to be sensible and we need to come up with solutions which enable the small teams to survive and which still enable the big teams to showcase the technology. "Reversing everything, changing the format, changing the engines would just increase costs, it would be the opposite for what we need for Formula One at the current stage." All three did agree on one thing though, and that's the possibility of F1's smaller teams using the 2014 engines rather than the updated 2015 units at a reduced cost. However that would require a change to the regulations as they require that only one design is homologated by the FIA per manufacturer at any one time. Lotus transporter truck jumps a Lotus F1 carFri, 21 Nov 2014 21:17:02 GMTA semi-truck, a ramp and an F1 car would make for a pretty crazy stunt and that's exactly what EMC and Lotus thought when they brought the three together to set a world record. Watch the above video to see Hollywood stunt driver Mike Ryan drive a Lotus transporter off a ramp to cover an airborne distance of 83 feet and seven inches to set a new world record - beating the previous by 34 feet. If that's not enough, then check out the F1 car which passes underneath the truck mid-jump. will be in a difficult position on SundayFri, 21 Nov 2014 19:13:54 GMTMercedes know that on Sunday, once lap 55 has been completed, that one of their two drivers will be crowned the 2014 World Champion. It's a fact that's been known for some time, but what's also known is that one will succeed and one won't and it's precisely that fact that puts the team in a difficult position on Sunday evening. Celebrating the winner will leave the other driver feeling left out when they're already suffering from defeat and that's why Mercedes have hinted at low-key celebrations on Sunday in respect of the 'loser'. "We have thought about this situation for a long time," Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff said. "It's going to be a great day for one of the drivers and it's going to be a very difficult for one of them. As a team, we must remain neutral and there is a plan in place for how we want to handle this situation. "They are valuable members of the team, we are going to continue with them next year, and while we're going to honour and celebrate the World Championship-winning driver you need to respect that for the other guy it's going to be a very difficult day in his life. "This is why we would like to maintain our role of being fairly neutral in that situation." hit with 20-place grid penalty in Abu DhabiFri, 21 Nov 2014 18:31:43 GMTRomain Grosjean has been hit with a rather large grid penalty for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after his team opted to change his engine and two other components for the race. A new Internal Combustion Engine (ICE), a new Turbocharger (TC) and a Motor Generator Unit-Heat (MGU-H) all adds up to a 20-place grid drop because all three are outside of his season allocation of five. With Grosjean unlikely to qualify on pole, any unserved drops will be carried over to the next event. However as Abu Dhabi is the last of the season, the FIA has confirmed he must serve time penalties instead. One to five unserved grid positions will result in a five-second time penalty, six to 10 a 10-second time penalty and 11-20 will result in a drive-through penalty. The latter is most likely given the Frenchman would need to break into Q3 to avoid a drive-through. Therefore it would make sense for Grosjean to simply sit out qualifying and save his tyres and car for the race. Hamilton edges Rosberg in second practiceFri, 21 Nov 2014 16:09:17 GMTLewis Hamilton edged Nico Rosberg in second practice on Friday afternoon in Abu Dhabi under the setting sun to go quickest once again. The pair were fairly evenly matched with less than a tenth separating them, but Rosberg will need to deliver more if he's to win on Sunday and snatch the title. McLaren's Kevin Magnussen put to good use McLaren's upgrades to go third fastest, just eight tenths off with the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel fourth. Williams recovered from an eventful weight-shedding FP1 to take fifth with Valtteri Bottas, whilst team-mate Felipe Massa was tenth. Fernando Alonso's Ferrari came to a halt on its third lap with what appeared to be an engine issue and he finished slowest of all 20 cars. FP2 Full Times - 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: #No.DriverTeamTimeGapLaps 01 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:42.113   35 02 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:42.196 0.083 37 03 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:42.895 0.782 37 04 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:42.959 0.846 33 05 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:43.070 0.957 34 06 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:43.183 1.070 32 07 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:43.489 1.376 33 08 22 Jenson Button McLaren 1:43.503 1.390 23 09 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:43.546 1.433 38 10 19 Felipe Massa Williams 1:43.558 1.445 34 11 11 Sergio Perez Force India 1:43.746 1.633 37 12 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:44.005 1.892 38 13 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:44.068 1.955 32 14 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:44.157 2.044 39 15 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:44.316 2.203 38 16 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:44.763 2.650 37 17 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:44.986 2.873 35 18 10 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:45.505 3.392 38 19 46 Will Stevens Caterham 1:47.057 4.944 34 20 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari No time   2 Hamilton and Rosberg dominate first practiceFri, 21 Nov 2014 12:09:49 GMTLewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg continued their private battle for the championship in Abu Dhabi as the pair streaked clear of the competition by well over a second in first practice. The pair traded fastest laps throughout the session before Hamilton took control in the closing stages, but only by just over a tenth. Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel were third and fourth with the second Red Bull of  Daniel Ricciardo fifth. All three were evenly matched and covered by two-tenths. The Toro Rosso duo of Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat filled sixth and seventh whilst Valtteri Bottas was eighth after a shorter session than he'd hoped for. Both Williams cars were garaged after bodywork came loose, and in Bottas's case, came free from the car to expose much of the engine and sidepod cooling systems. It was a disappointing session for McLaren with Kevin Magnussen down in P11 and Jenson Button P17 - though the former was analysing updates including a new front-wing for 2015. Meanwhile Will Stevens was slowest on his F1 debut, posting a lap over 2.5 seconds slower than team-mate Kamui Kobayashi. FP1 Full Times - 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: #No.DriverTeamTimeGapLaps 01 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:43.476   32 02 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:43.609 0.133 31 03 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:45.184 1.708 22 04 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:45.334 1.858 30 05 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:45.361 1.885 23 06 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:45.718 2.242 17 07 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:45.835 2.359 32 08 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:45.913 2.437 8 09 11 Sergio Perez Force India 1:45.983 2.507 23 10 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:46.030 2.554 24 11 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:46.049 2.573 23 12 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:46.131 2.655 23 13 19 Felipe Massa Williams 1:46.549 3.073 7 14 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:46.556 3.080 28 15 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:46.711 3.235 31 16 31 Esteban Ocon Lotus 1:47.066 3.590 29 17 22 Jenson Button McLaren 1:47.235 3.759 8 18 10 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:47.971 4.495 24 19 37 Adderly Fong Sauber 1:48.269 4.793 25 20 46 Will Stevens Caterham 1:50.684 7.208 14's driving where? 2015 driver line-up takes shapeThu, 20 Nov 2014 19:54:26 GMTWith a wave of announcements this week, including Sebastian Vettel's move to Ferrari and Romain Grosjean staying put at Lotus, the 2015 driver line-up is beginning to take shape with just a handful of seats up for grabs. McLaren, Toro Rosso, Force India are the only undecided teams, all with one seat each. Despite McLaren having confirmed neither of its drivers, we're pretty certain Fernando Alonso is heading to Woking, but the big question remains...alongside who? Toro Rosso meanwhile has a tough decision as well. Who do they partner with young rookie Max Verstappen? Another rookie maybe, or what about Jean-Eric Vergne. Surely the Frenchman deserves another season!? Apart from Marussia and Caterham - who knows whether they'll be on the grid next season - Force India is the only team left to have an opening, though it's all but guaranteed that Sergio Perez will be staying put. MercedesNico Rosberg (Has a contract)Lewis Hamilton (Has a contract) Red BullDaniel Ricciardo (Has a contract)Daniil Kvyat (Has a contract) WilliamsValtteri Bottas (Has a contract)Felipe Massa (Has a contract) FerrariKimi Raikkonen (Has a contract)Sebastian Vettel (Has a contract) McLarenFernando Alonso (Has a contract)Jenson Button (Has a contract) Force IndiaNico Hulkenberg (Has a contract)Sergio Perez (Has a contract) Toro RossoMax Verstappen (Has a contract)Carlos Sainz Jr (Has a contract) LotusPastor Maldonado (Has a contract) Romain Grosjean (Has a contract) Sauber Marcus Ericsson (Has a contract)Felipe Nasr (Has a contract) Marussia (in administration)TBC Caterham (in administration)TBC Dhabi secures multi-year contract extensionThu, 20 Nov 2014 16:58:38 GMTThe Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will remain a fixture on the Formula 1 calendar well into the future after the event's organisers secured a multi-year contract extension. Though the announcement didn't give a date, the current deal wasn't due to expire until 2016, therefore it's likely the extension will see the race continue for at least another six years minimum. Formula 1's Bernie Ecclestone believes the venue is the best on the calendar and is therefore pleased to continue F1's association with Yas Marina. "Abu Dhabi has played an important part in pioneering the modern era of Formula One racing," said the 84-year-old. "I said when the Yas Marina Circuit was opened that it may one day be matched, but it will never be bettered. The island has continued to transform each year. We have a wonderful partner here." With the race this weekend set to decide the 2014 championship, demand for tickets is at an all-time high with a sell-out crowd of 60,000 - its highest in history. "The demand has been unprecedented, locally and internationally, and the atmosphere in the stands is going to be fantastic,” said the circuit's chief executive Al Tareq Al Ameri. warns Hamilton to keep title fight 'clean'Thu, 20 Nov 2014 16:42:14 GMTNico Rosberg has warned title rival and team-mate Lewis Hamilton to drive cleanly this weekend to ensure the title battle is a fair one. During the FIA press conference on Thursday, Rosberg said he'd be pushing to force a mistake from Hamilton, similar to what happened in Brazil. "I need to do what I can to try and put the pressure on," said Rosberg. "In Brazil Lewis made a mistake so there is a chance. I need to do what I can to keep going like that." When Hamilton was asked if he was confident of a clean fight in Abu Dhabi, considering past incidents this season, he replied: "Yeah. That how it's been. You have to go into the race weekends believing that's going to be the case, yeah. "It's already been discussed at the beginning of the season and several times through the season and particularly after Spa, so there's no reason to revisit it. We're not children, we should know what is wrong and what is right. When asked if he could do anything to be certain of a clean fight, he added: "Don't think so." Rosberg however wasn't so sure, and hit back: "Lewis can do something to keep it clean which is to drive cleanly himself. So it's not like he can't do anything." to make F1 race debut with CaterhamThu, 20 Nov 2014 12:09:59 GMTBritish driver Will Stevens will make his Formula 1 race debut with Caterham at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the team confirmed on Thursday. The 23-year-old will race alongside Caterham regular Kamui Kobayashi following the teams return to the grid for the final race of the season. "Stevens was previously part of the Caterham Racing Academy and tested for the outfit in both the 2013 and 2014 official F1 tests following the British GP at Silverstone each year. He clocked up over 1,100km in running and therefore gained his FIA Super license in the process. He has also raced in the World Series by Renault 3.5 championship this year with two wins. Speaking about the opportunity to compete in an F1 race, he said: "I'm absolutely thrilled to be getting this opportunity and am very grateful to everyone involved at Caterham F1 Team for giving it to me. "I feel ready for the challenge of my F1 debut and look forward to working as part of the Team in a race environment after all the work we’ve done together previously in the tests I've completed and back at Leafield in the sim. Hopefully this will be something we will be able to carry through to the 2015 season together". Caterham's head of engineering operations Gianluca Pisanello added: "We know Will very well through his involvement in the Caterham Racing Academy and more importantly he has done a vast amount of time in our simulator, completing around 10,000km, which has built his experience both of this year’s car and with the engineering team that are going to Abu Dhabi. "In addition, his 2014 test at Silverstone in our current car, where he completed over 500kms, was very successful and his race pace was very good. As a result, he was one of our best candidates for this race weekend and we are delighted to have secured his services for our return to the F1 grid. We in fact signed Will last week but have had to wait for confirmation of his Super licence before making our announcement".