Ferrari call for clarity
Ferrari says they want clarity from Liberty Media about the future of the sport beyond 2020 before they make a decision whether to buy a stake in Formula One.
The sports new owners are eager for the teams to buy shares in the sport, as they believe that teams having a financial interest in the sport will help drive the sport forward. Ferrari’s President Sergio Marchionne said during an investor’s conference call discussing his company’s latest financial figures, that there is little reason for teams to jump on board right now.
This idea is unlikely to happen until the re-negotiation between teams, the FIA and FOM happens in 2020, known as the ‘Concorde Agreement.’ Marchionne told investors about shares “We have started exploring the opportunity now. We are in discussions with Liberty and I recently had a meeting with Chase [Carey, F1 CEO].”
“The issue is not just the question of the financial investment. This is something that we do for a living in a very serious way. The Concorde Agreement expires in 2020.” Marchionne says that becoming a non-voting shareholder would keep us trapped.
Saying once there is clarity on the issue “I think it becomes a lot easier to decide whether we want to participate in this venture. I think that there’s a huge amount of upside left in F1, which if properly managed can deliver rewards for everybody who is an investor in this business.”
Speaking about the historical bonus Ferrari gets he says the topic has not been brought up and that won’t change until 2020.
Ferrari to do two-day Pirelli test
Ferrari is to take part in next week’s two-day Pirelli tyre test using a 2015 mule car to allow the tyre manufacturer to improve the wet weather tyres.
Last month, Pirelli’s motorsport boss Paul Hembery said at Autosport International that they wanted to have another test to focus on wet tyre development. This will be the focus of next week’s two-day test, which begins on February 9 at Fiorano.
Pirelli had been negotiating with Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari to be able to use one of their mule cars to do the testing. The three teams last season used modified cars to conduct testing, however, Pirelli had concerns the cars were not giving enough down force.
Hembery last month said “We’re going to have standing [re]starts, so the tyres are going to be cold. Like we do in GP2, where you don’t have blankets, we have to try and get a product which warms up a lot quicker.”
Pirelli is hoping with this test they can improve the warm-up characteristics of the wet tyres, particularly as there will be standing restarts in 2017. A series of wet tests are set to take place over the next two months.
Drivers split 50/50 on Halo
The FIA say that feedback from drivers who have tried the halo cockpit protection device is “divided 50/50”. The sport’s governing body has been working on approving a concept that will deflect debris away from drivers’ heads in accidents.
Currently, the halo device is the only idea that has in the past all the required crash tests but still requires formal approvement from the majority of teams by the end of April. After that date, unanimity is required.
Yesterday the FIA reviled that the Halo has received a lukewarm feedback, with suggestions that it the Halo is now set to be abandoned; the FIA insists that efforts are still ongoing to make it work.
Today the trade union which represents most drivers says it welcomes the governing body efforts.
Chairman Alex Wurz told Motorsport.com “Any team or driver that says the halo won’t happen in 2018 is wrong, although technically the strategy group agreed to ‘additional frontal protection’ for 2018, and the halo is the only suitable design at present.”
The FIA is continuing to analyse whether alternative solutions are possible.
He added, “I am encouraged by the fact the FIA and F1 stakeholders are including the drivers into the decision-making process, something which has emerged in recent times as a positive.”
Massa a mentor figure – Stroll
Williams rookie Lance Stroll says he sees his team-mate Felipe Massa as a mentor figure. Stroll was due to drive alongside Valtteri Bottas in his debut season, but he was poached by Mercedes following the retirement of Nico Rosberg.
This left Williams to ask Massa to un-retire and replace Bottas. The team made it clear throughout the discussions about their need for an experienced driver alongside Stroll this year and the Canadian is looking forward to learning from his new teammate.
Stroll told ESPN “I really am looking forward to Felipe being a mentor for me. Of course, we are competitors and we want to beat each other, but at the same time I think he has a lot of respect as a driver.”
“We all know that he’s very well respected throughout the paddock, he’s a really nice guy and he’s a team player.” He adds. Stroll says that is what you really need in a team, someone who is a team player who will drive the team forward and not create problems.
He added “I think it’s really important to have two drivers that want to push the team in the right direction rather than fighting against the other. It’s obviously good to have that competitiveness in the team.”
Symonds not retiring
Pat Symonds says he has ruled out a return to Formula One in the near future but says he has not retired from motorsport. The former Toleman, Benetton and Renault technical boss left Williams last December.
Symonds runs a consultancy business alongside his F1 duties, Symonds says he is eager to keep working and is evaluating offers of a full-time return to duties.
Speaking exclusively to Motorsport.com, Symonds said: “I’ve spent January looking around at what possibilities there might be. I’m on holiday in February and during that time I’ll decide on some of the things I might do, and then in March I’ll start doing them.”
“It’s not really my intention to join another F1 team – I want to do different things now. What I’m surprised about is how much work there is out there. I’m quite open-minded about what I’ll do.
McLaren drop MP4 from car
McLaren has dropped the prefix “MP4” from its F1 cars going forward naming their Formula One cars.
MP4 stood for ‘Marlboro Project four’ and was introduced by former CEO Ron Dennis when he merged his F2 team, Project Four Racing, with McLaren in 1981. Since then each new car’s name had the prefix “MP4” followed by a type number in ascending order.
Following the departure of Dennis, the team has decided to which its car nomenclature to include the prefix MCL. The name change appears to be the first stage of a rebranding exercise that is also likely to see a substantial change to the team’s livery this year.
The McLaren MCL32 will be launched on February 24.