Lowe leaves Mercedes
Paddy Lowe has left his role as Mercedes executive technical director after months of speculation that he was leaving the team for Williams. Lowe was a key designer in Mercedes domination of the sport over recent years.
The brit has lead Mercedes to three successive drivers and constructors championship. Lowe will be replacing Pat Symonds who left the team at the end of December. Mercedes have not placed him onto gardening leave in a bid to secure Valtteri Bottas transfer to the team.
When that is made as its expected in the coming days, it will slot pieces into the driver market. It’s thought that Bottas will be announced as a Mercedes driver, which will prompt Felipe Massa to postpone his retirement and then Sauber to announce that Pascal Wehrlein will join the team.
In a statement from Mercedes, Lowe said “I have had a fantastically success and enjoyable three and a half years at Mercedes working with an incredible team of people. I look forward to a new challenge and wish everyone at Mercedes.”
Team boss Toto Wolff said “Paddy has played an important part in our success during the past three and a half years and we thank him for his contribution to this signiﬁcant chapter in Mercedes’ motorsport history.
“Success in Formula One is not about single individuals but about the strength in depth and technical capability of an organisation.”
Mercedes are keen to keep Wehrlein on the grid, the recent collapse of Manor may mean that if this falls into place that all the seat will be field. Lowe is expected to be replaced by Ferrari’s former technical director James Allison, however he is on gardening leave until July.
Bottas will know ‘in good time’
Former two times world champion Mika Hakkinen has told Finnish broadcaster MTV that Valtteri Bottas will know where he will be “in good time” before preseason testing begins late next month.
Hakkinen is a member of Bottas’s management team along with Mercedes boss toto Wolff. The news comes as Mercedes technical director has left the team for Williams, believed to be part of the deal for Bottas to exit his Williams contract.
Former McLaren driver Hakkinen, 48, confirmed that negotiations with Mercedes have “of course” taken place, but said it “remains to be seen” what the outcome will be.
Hakkinen said referring its thought to Mercedes and Bottas ““From the driver’s side, the situation cannot be better than when you are wanted It is a dream scenario.”
He hinted that we should know before the first race, however not necessarily before testing but if it good news we will know before. Adding “I cannot say any more, but when you are wanted by a team, especially one that has been dominating Formula One, it is a dream situation for any F1 driver.”
Some believe any new driver alongside Lewis Hamilton will struggle, but Hakkinen said: “When you can be on a team that is on top, it is your job to fight for wins and the championship. Of course I see Valtteri as someone who has what it takes to be champion,” he added.
Massa had Formula E deal
The Spanish newspaper Marca, has reported that Felipe Massa has broken a contract with an unnamed Formula E team.
The Brazilian retired from the sport last season, but following the sudden retirement of Nico Rosberg Mercedes have been trying to sign Valtteri Bottas as his replacement.
Williams have been talking with Mercedes for weeks and its understood now with this report, plus rumours of Mercedes cutting the price of the supply deal that the move is set to go ahead.
Shortly before Christmas, its understood according to Sky Sports provisional terms have been accepted on a deal that would pave the way for Valtteri Bottas to leave Williams and join Mercedes.
Very low deg tyres say Pirelli
Pirelli say that based on early analysis of their new wider tyres for this season that their expected to feature ‘very low degradation’. As part of the regulation changes this season, Pirelli’s new tyres have increased to 325mm at the front and 405mm at rear.
The changes to the tyres are part of the wider changes that have been introduced to try to improve the sport, bringing the racing closer together and reduce the amount of tyre management needed in races. Pirelli have optimism that the new tyres will not have the same drop-off as has often been the case since it returned to F1 in 2011.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Racing Manager, Mario Isola said “They are completely new compounds. We have encountered very low degradation, but these simulations are one thing.”
“There will be a completely different performance window in which the teams will arrive in the second half of the season – where we often are on track with high temperatures.” Isola added they have also responded to the drivers complains about overheating and sliding when they attempt to overtake.
Saying “In testing we have seen that this target has been reached – but it needs to be verified on the actual cars, so we will wait for the first few races.” Isola accepts the data could be misleading, as the cars used in testing ‘lacked a bit in performance.’
Warwick calls for Liberty and Government support
The president of the British Racing Drivers’ Club Derek Warwick, which owns Silverstone believes Liberty Media and the government could support the British Grand Prix.
In recent days there has been a leaked letter from chairman John Grant before Christmas also suggested the club was considering activating its break clause. The circuit’s current deal runs until 2026, but a break clause exists that would come into effect after the 2019 race.
Speaking to Autosport Grant said “few things are going in our favour. The impending change of F1 ownership should be helpful medium-term. Liberty seems genuinely sympathetic to our point of view.”
“We need a rebalancing of the economic equation. We’re exploring lots of ways and talking to a number of parties.” Another thing he added could be explored is government support and public sector support.
Last week, former President Damon Hill has called on the Government to intervene and give funding to the event and says post Brexit this is the thing the government needs to support.
Speaking about the sale grant says, the recent developments have made the sale less urgent and the decision over the GP itself is now the main focus. Grant believes the BRDC’s financial position is looking stronger.
Brawn F1 needs to be viable
Ross Brawn says that Formula One must work to ensure the financial model of the sport needs to be viable for the smaller teams in the sport. On Friday, Manor fell into administration after failing to secure new investors.
Over the last decade the issue of cost has been high on the agenda since the economic down turn and the 2009 budget cap row. Brawn believes its in F1’s best interests to create more even playing field for all teams as it would create an element of unpredictability for fans.
Asked what F1 could do to help smaller teams, Brawn told ESPN: “Well, that’s an interesting point, because I think that should be one of the objectives. One of the objectives should be looking at what can be done to reduce the margin between a small team and a big team.”
“And can things be done to reduce the performance gain that comes from the level of investment the big teams can make.” Brawn added it an interesting point how can you level out the sports costs to make small teams viable.
Brawn feels that money will a l always play a role in success in Formula One, and feels his team’s famous title success in 2009 — done after Honda’s sudden withdrawal from the sport — is an unfairly portrayed as a team winning despite having no money.
He says the Brawn GP example is not good for the sport because they had funding before Honda’s they withdrew from the sport. Brawn added “If we can create that then you get a much healthier flow of young drivers because it is a meritocracy based on their talent and not their commercial backing.”
Saying small teams depend so much on drivers with commercial backing it influences decisions. F1’s payment structure has been a source of criticism in recent years and prompted Sauber and Force India to lodge a complaint with the European Union in 2015.