Alonso on Mercedes list
Mercedes have confirmed that Fernando Alonso is being considered as a replacement for Nico Rosberg following his shocking retirement announcement last week.
Mercedes are currently search late in the year with many of the sport’s top drivers are under contract for next season leaving Mercedes with limited time to find a replacement. A Alonso / Lewis Hamilton partnership would be a interesting, but last time they were a partners the two fell out.
In a interview with Sky Sports Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff said “You have to consider Fernando. He is a driver I respect a lot. He combines talent, speed and experience. It’s all there.”
“But he is in a contract with McLaren-Honda at the moment and we just need to weigh all the other options up.” McLaren’s new CEO Zak Brown said that Alonso’s contract was watertight and he wouldn’t be moving to Mercedes.
It also appears that Red Bull are very unlikely to release Max Verstappen or Daniel Ricciardo for next year even if either driver wanted to leave. Leaving to options looking for a number two driver to support Hamilton or scouring the market for a fellow A-lister to partner Hamilton.
But Wolff appears to rule out a number one and number two system saying “Both drivers will have equal status and equal opportunity to the best of our abilities. We owe it to the fans. You can’t have a pecking order.”
Wehrlein “not a foregone conclusion”
Mercedes technical director Paddy Lowe says its “not a foregone conclusion” that Pascal Wehrlein will replace Nico Rosberg next season. The Mercedes test driver said yesterday that he is ready for drive with the works team.
Wehrlein is one of the drivers who hasn’t secured a drive for next season, the German has been with the team since 2014 which makes him a logical choice for Mercedes. However, Lowe said his team still needed to complete “various studies” before making the final call.
He told Autosport “It’s not a forgone conclusion, we’ll have to see who is available and do some analysis. There are different aspects, we’ll be looking at previous form and what we could expect in terms of performance and consistency.”
Lowe added its one thing to be quick, but you needs to be able to score points every week. It’s understood that team boss Toto Wolff has been contacted by a large number of F1 drivers already under contract. But he is unlikely to be chasing a big star, with Lowe suggesting that the team would be foucsing on drivers that are “actually available”.
He says “The fear in a way is if we can’t find a decent pilot for the other seat to replace Nico, if we do have a strong car, might have a driver running away with it, which would be good for us, but not good for the show.”
Lowe says he is not concerned of a in experienced drivers but satys more experienced drivers tend to step up and perform better.
Valentino Rossi enters race for Mercedes
An outsider has entered the race to drive for Mercedes next year, the seven times Moto GP champion Valentino Rossi has said he would be interested in a switch from Yahama to Mercedes.
The Italian who is compared to seven times champion Michael Schumacher flirted with the switch over the last decade. The claims come weeks after Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo took part in a test for Mercedes. Rossi told Sky Sports Italia “I don’t know, but it would be nice. If he (Wolff) wants to call me, he has my number.”
Rossi has said he couldn’t turn down a test with Mercedes. Before adding “I was lucky enough to test the Ferrari, I am very good friends with many guys in Maranello and it (testing a Mercedes) would perhaps even be half a betrayal — but how could you not try the Mercedes if asked?”
Green shoots of progress – Arrivabene
Ferrari’s team principal Marurizio Arrivabene says he sees green shoots of recovery emerging following a change in the teams technical structure in July. The team was forced to change its structure following the departure of Technical Director James Allison left the team in July.
This led to the promotion of Mattia Binotto from head of power units to chief technical officer. Binotto has brought people from Ferrari’s GT programme and restructured the engineering departments to encourage more creative thinking among their workforce.
However the team has failed in Arrivabene’s target to win the championship, but Arrivabene says there is proof of progress from there qualifying performance at the Japanese Grand Prix and a podium at the final race in Abu Dhabi are proof of progress.
He told ESPN “Our 2017 [season] began last August with the major change on the technical front. People expect a lot from Ferrari, wins and success, therefore we will do our utmost to achieve that.”
“Ever since the new structure was put in place, with a great engineer like Mattia Binotto in charge, we have seen positive signs, as in Japan and Abu Dhabi. I am not going to make any predictions, but I know the guys are working very hard and all pulling together.”
The engineering shake-up was started after a number of crisis meeting earlier this year. But CEO Sergio Marchionne says he is willing to give Binotto’s new structure time to bed in.
“I think the change in August represents the beginning of the refounding of our sporting management. We need to give the guys time: they are working very well and we will see what they bring us, but I believe this is the solution.”
Aston Martin extends Red Bull sponsorship
Aston Martin has extended its sponsorship agreement with Red Bull for 2017. The deal between the Red Bull Team and the sports car manufacturer means there logo will continue to appear on the cars.
The partnership means that the development of a hypercar called AM-RB 001 will continue into 2017. Aston Martin CEO Andrew Palmer said “Our relationship with Red Bull Racing has done for Aston Martin exactly what we expected it to do.”
“It is helping us to continue to build our brand across the globe. Partnerships like this are good for business both in terms of technical innovation and brand awareness, so we are pleased to continue into 2017.”
Red Bull team Principal Christian Horner added “The extraordinary success of the AM RB-001 is testament to the expert and collaborative spirit in which it was forged, and extending our relationship with Aston Martin through 2017 was a simple and pleasing decision.”
All the road versions of the car have been sold with a new version expected in 2019.
Mallya deserves more credit
Force India Team Principal Vijay Mallya deserves more credit for the team’s success this season, says his deputy Bob Fernley.
Fernley has a long relationship with Mallya, as he assisted in the purchase and then the running of an Ensign F1 car that Mallya drove to victory in that year’s Madras Grand Prix. Mallya over the past eight years following the purchase of Spyker seen them rise to fourth in the constructors, there highest place since third under Jordan in 1999.
Mallya has been under investigation over debt owed by the now defunct airline Kingfisher from lenders who want him to repay hundreds of millions of pounds worth of debt. He claims he is a ‘victim of a witch hunt’.
When asked if Mallya didn’t get the credit he deserves for the success Fernley told Autosport “Yes, he deserves a lot of credit. Vijay celebrates 10 years in Formula 1 next year. There are not many individual team owners that have been around for 10 years and he continues to support it.”
“That’s fundamentally where it [the reason for the team’s rise] is.” This season Force India finished fourth in the constructors, beating Williams for the first time meaning there due for a huge financial boost.
Fernley says “What it does is endorses what the team has been doing for the last three or four years. You can never underestimate the enthusiasm this will drive through the team and [help] bring it to the next stage.”
“While it’s nice to have the extra funding coming in, that is incidental to the enthusiasm it will put in and the commitment it will deliver for 2017.” Fernley paid tribute to the calibre of the staff at Force India, describing working for the team as a difficult option because of the responsibility each person must