Lauda’s Christmas present to…?
Mercedes non-executive director Niki Lauda says he wants to “give a Christmas present” to a driver following the shock of world champion Nico Rosberg announcing on Friday that he is retiring.
Team principal Toto Wolff says the team will begin looking today for the replacement with a decision expected before Christmas. Lauda told BBC Sport “It is a huge loss because we had the quickest driver set-up over the last three years. I need a driver for the first test in February when the new car is ready.”
He added: “We have to train him on the simulator and into the team, so we should have a decision before the end of the year.” Rosberg made his announcement five days after winning his first title.
Team-mate and friend Lewis Hamilton has already said he “doesn’t care”who is picked as the German’s replacement. The four time champion Lauda, says that the team needs to find a better man than Rosberg because they still want to win.
“This is a big problem for us to find a replacement, so I cannot tell you now because we have to think about it, contact everybody and make proper research into who we are going to put in the best car in Formula 1.” Lauda said they need to do good research before picking a replacement.
When asked about Rosberg’s decision to retire, he said: “I was really surprised – this was never on my radar that this could happen.
“I spoke to him afterwards to find out because I did this twice in my career and I really wanted to make sure it was not a quick decision which he might regret and I wanted to find out how sure he is.
I would always defend – Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton says he would always want to defend a title rather than retire as champion. The comments come after team-mate and friend Nico Rosberg shocked the sport by announcing his retirement on Friday.
Hamilton says he wasn’t surprised by Rosbergs decision to retire from the sport and added he “wouldn’t say I was annoyed” that he will not have the chance to win the title back from the German.
He told Autosport “It’s a shame that he’s not around to fight to take it back. That’s his choice and I respect his decision. Go out on top while you can.”
“I have a different viewpoint. I won the championship the past two years and I gave an opportunity each year to have another shot at it for someone.” Hamilton says he loves racing and being challenged by different competitors.
The relationship between them has been strained this year while they fought for the title but Hamilton says it has been civil and the best in their relationship. “We kept to ourselves and did our jobs. Apart from [clashes in] Austria and Barcelona, we’ve not had any real issues.”
Wehrlein speaks about Mercedes seat
Pascal Wehrlein says he doesn’t want to pester Mercedes about the seat which has become vacant following Nico Rosberg’s retirement. Rosberg shocked the world sport on Friday and has left Mercedes searching for his replacement.
Mercedes is understood to have a lot of interest in the seat, with team boss Toto Wolff saying the team would “take the necessary time” to work out a replacement. Wehrlein, the teams reserve driver has emerged as the leading candidate according to the press following a good debut season.
Wehrlein who is managed by Wolff has admitted his priority is now Mercedes, he told Autosport “The team knows I would love to drive for them, the tests I did were great. I cannot call them every day to say ‘what’s happening?’ I don’t want to be annoying.”
“I’m there if they think I’m the right person for the team. I will do whatever I have to do and whatever is necessary to deliver. I just have to wait now.” Wehrlein admits he spoken to Wolff on Saturday at a Mercedes Super Saturday in Sindelfingen.
Wherlein knows that Mercedes want to find the best possible driver for the seat adding he is ready to make the step up, alongside three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.
“Of course one season in Formula 1 is not a lot but I learned all the tracks now and I learned how the tyres are working. I feel like I’ve had a strong season and I’m ready to make the step up.”
“There is still a lot to learn for me but I’m happy with the progress I’m making.”
Vettel plays down Mercedes suggestions
Sebastian Vettel has played down the suggestions that he should leave Ferrari for Mercedes following the retirement last week of Nico Rosberg. Last week the driver market was turned on its head following the departure of Rosberg from Mercedes.
It has left Mercedes searching for a driver late in the year with many of the sports big names already signed for 2017. Vettel has emerged as the unlikely candidate while the has a year left on his current deal, his relationship with the team has appeared fractious this season following a disappointing series of on-track results.
But asked about the possibility of defecting to Ferrari’s great rivals this winter Vettel said: “I think it’s not a big secret that both myself and Kimi [Raikkonen] have a contract for next year. So it should be clear.”
Vettel is a favourite to join the team along with Fernando Alonso according to bookies and Mercedes reserve Pascal Wehrlein, is considered the front-runner. The German says he has no idea what their plan is.
He added “But for us we look after ourselves for next year, there are lots of things changing so we’re quite busy ourselves. We’re very positive for next year.”
A Hamilton/Vettel partnership would be an interesting partnership, but according to Red Bull’s Christian Horner there is no way they could co-exsit telling the BBC in 2011, “I think it would be difficult to envisage a driver of Sebastian’s calibre and that of Lewis under the same roof.”
Two years ago, it was Vettel who caused the biggest shock of the driver market activated an unknown escape clause in his Red Bull contract to join Ferrari, but the Scuderia’s winless 2016 season has cast doubt on the 29-year-old’s long-term future.
Paul Ricard to hold French GP – Local politician
The French Grand Prix looks set to return following a decade absence in 2018 at the Circuit Paul Ricard in southern France according to regional politician Christian Estrosi.
Paul Ricciard last a race in 1990 when it moved to Magny-Cours. France has been the home of Grand Prix racing since the first race was held at Le Mans in 1906. “We and those who are with me are very proud… it’s a great victory,” Estrosi told reporters.
The circuit has agreed a five year deal to hold the race with the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur (PACA) region in association with the city of Toulon, department of Var and the French motorsport association (FFSA). Acording to PACA president and former Moto GP rider Estrosi the race is set to be held in the summer.
Estrosi didn’t reveal how much it would cost but said the deal was normal for races in Europe. The circuit part owned by the Ecclestone family trust has undergone major renovation but this is nothing to do with Berine Ecclestone.
Ecclestone said last week that the trust was not involved in the race and would be leasing the facility to “the people that are going to be the promoters.”
India owes £41m in race fees
The dispute which has been running for three years over the Indian Grand Prix has taken another turn, as it been reviled that the race organisers owe £41.1m to FOM in race fees.
The race was halted in 2013 because of a legal dispute with local government who don’t class F1 as a sport and classes it as entertainment. This means that organisers need to pay tax and duties on everything connected with the race.
The Liberty Media say that if the money owed by Jaypee is paid to F1’s operating company, Formula One World Championship (FOWC), it will raise its £3.5bn offer for the sport by the same amount. Organisers still have the rights to two more races.
According it The Telegraph “If Formula 1 receives certain monies owed to it in connection with race fees in India, Liberty Media will pay up to approximately $51m of additional cash consideration to the selling shareholders.”
Adding “’Indian Race Fees’ means the total of US$51,350,000 relating to fees due from Jaypee Sports to FOWC under the Indian Race Promotion Agreement, the race promotion agreement between FOWC and Jaypee Sports” In September 2011.
The contracts between FOWC and race organisers state that fees are paid free of all taxes.
Hellmund leads the race buying Manor
The promotor of the United States and Mexican Grand Prix’s Tavo Hellmund has emerged as a leading candidate to buy Manor. Hellmund is understood to have built a group of Texan investors to take over the team.
This group has been in talks for more than one year now to get the deal across the line. Current owner Stephen Fitzpatrick, said at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that he had agreed terms with an unidentified party over the sale of his outfit – which could go ahead in the next few weeks.
Fitzpatrick told Motorsport.com “”I can’t talk too much about the specifics but we have been in discussions with several investors, well, for the last six months let’s say.”
“One of the things I was quite clear on, right from the start, was that I accepted that in the current F1, money equals performance.” He says anything that brings new investors he is open to because it helps Manor to develop and progress.
He says that terms have been agreed with a investor but he cant give more information. Hellmund is long-time friend of Bernie Ecclestone, so is likely to have the F1 supremo’s blessing for the deal.