Mercedes offer to Williams in return for Bottas
BBC News say they have learn that Mercedes are thinking about swapping technical director Paddy Lowe for Valtteri Bottas as the replacement for Nico Rosberg. The Williams team have already rejected an initial offer but are considering releasing Lowe as part of the deal.
It’s understood that Lowe is to be replaced by former Ferrari technical director James Allison. Toto Wolff has picked Bottas as his favourite driver following the shock retirement of Rosberg earlier this month after winning his first world title last month despite having two further years on his Mercedes contract.
Williams offer from Mercedes is believed to be a major reduction in their engine bill and their reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein, who is currently without a seat for 2017.
Williams have said no to Wolff’s first offer but negotiations are expected to continue in the coming days. The Williams team believe they needed experience alongside rookie Lance Stroll who has a budget of £20m and feel that Wehrlein who would be in his second season.
Wehrlein is also in talks with the Swiss Sauber team, which is yet to name a team-mate for Swede Marcus Ericsson.
Mercedes are unlikely to risk moving Wehrlein in because of a lack of experience, but could be their last result. Mercedes’ other choices are limited – every other driver with experience is contracted to a rival.
Drivers to be “destroyed” with regulation change
Sergio Perez believes that drivers will be “destroyed” following testing next year with the heavily redesigned cars. Next season the sports is wider bodywork and tyres, with the significantly-increased downforce levels raising cornering speeds and putting more force on drivers’ necks.
During the eight days of testing next February and March drivers regularly complete just over a race and half distance during a day’s testing in Barcelona. This is to prove and gain reliability in their cars and many drivers are using the winter break to build there fitness ahead of next season.
The new cars have more downforce with the drivers needing to spend more of their focus on their necks, Perez told Autosport “”I’m sure that when we start testing everyone will be destroyed.
“After you stop and you have a couple of months out of the car, it’s very difficult to simulate the same force you get in a car on a machine or whatever where you train.”
The Mexican says every time you jump in the car you complain about the neck and expect that to be a common complaint early next year. He says he has been forced to tweak his training for next season, saying drivers need a bit more of everything.
Speaking about their new car, Perez said he had seen some drawings and while he is impressed by the new shape, he is less certain about how the changes will improve the show.
“They’re going to look quite cool. I’m a bit concerned about the spectacle, about how the races are going to be and how difficult the cars are going to be.”
Kvyat year was “survival” mode
Daniil Kvyat says that his 2016 season was about “survival” following his demotion from Red Bull to Toro Rosso in May. The Russian started the season with Red Bull but was demoted to make way for Max Verstappen who went onto win in Barcelona.
Kvyat had a dip in form struggling following his return to Toro Rosso, but he was chosen to remain with the team because their preference to have driver continuity entering 2017’s major technical changes.
Kvyat told Autosport “This season I will remember for a long time, even if I don’t want to remember it. It was a survival season, which is not a nice feeling for a driver at all. It felt very long.”
“I do love my sport so if the season feels endless it must be a really tough season.” Kvyat says it was a confusing time when he re-joined Toro Rosso which affected him getting up to speed. He added he needed to drop performance so he could understand what was going on.
The 22-year-old said he felt alone but took heart from the support he received from those around him. “Time cures everything but you have to come through the part where you try to push too much. You then have to calm yourself down because you’re angry with everything, the whole world.” He added
Nasr aims to improve qualifying pace
Felipe Nasr says he would like to improve on his qualifying pace if he secures a place on the grid next season. The Brazilian scored Sauber’s only points at his home race at Interlagos which moved them above Manor in the constructors’ championship to ensure a windfall of around $13.5million.
However Nasr has lost the sponsorship of his main backers Banco do Brasil last month and though talks with Sauber continue, he remains behind Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto on the team’s shortlist. With Mercedes trying to temp Valtteri Bottas away from Williams, it means Nasr could be brought back to the team.
Nasr believes his performances during two seasons in F1 with Sauber warrant a seat on the grid next year. He told Autosport “Qualifying is still an area that I want to keep building up.”
When asked if there was anything specific he planned to focus on, he said: “It’s tricky because there were times that we had issues with for example, tyre blankets.”
“In Singapore, we had a decent run over the weekend and when we came to qualifying we had an issue with the blankets. Responding to changing track temperatures and the track evolution as well so it’s something that I feel can still be improved.”
While Sauber lacked the performance during the season, Nasr feels they were unable to make the most of their package because of the lack of cash early in the year.
Honda didn’t set optimistic targets
Honda motorsport boss Yusuke Hasegawa says the Japanese manufacturer didn’t set optimistic targets for themselves and McLaren going into last season. Honda did make a step forward last season after a difficult 2015, with McLaren finishing in sixth.
But it is still off where McLaren would normally be in the championship, it appeared during the season the issues they had were fixed. McLaren have finished the season in sixth and haven’t taken victory since 2012, which Hasegawa puts down to a pessimistic outlook over the winter.
Hasegawa told F1i. “Of course we set a target. But honestly speaking, the target we set wasn’t big enough or good enough. So we weren’t optimistic enough with our target. I think the other teams were doing a very good job.”
When asked if the improvements he wanted to make going into 2016 had been made he said “From a reliability point of view, yes. But it wasn’t true, actually. I thought in Barcelona that if we can complete the races then we would have a lot of chances to get points. But it wasn’t the case, actually. So that is why it is obvious that we need to find more performance.”
Under the new 2017 regulations, the engine token system which has restricted the likes of Honda and Renault from rebounding from a slow start to the V6 turbo era is being scrapped.
Grosjean to drive at Andros Trophy
Romain Grosjean has announced he will drive from DA Racing during the third round of the Andros Trophy at Alpe d’Huez this weekend. The French driver has took part in the event since 2009.
At this year’s event he will compete alongside the current champion and World Rallycross podium finisher Jean-Baptiste Dubourg. Grosjean has won the event twice and last time finished on the podium, this year he will be driving a Renault Clio in the Elite Pro category.
Grosjean told Motorsport.com “This round is ideally placed in the calendar and it is one of the races closest to my home. It’s always nice to be able to drive on Friday evening and Saturday night.”
“most importantly, it’s at this circuit that I had my first experience of the Andros Trophy. It is a real pleasure to be able to drive the Silhouettes [class] car with four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering on the ice, it’s simply pure happiness!”
Grosjean added that it was an opportunity to share their common passions and friendship, saying it produces unforgettable moments