Manor staff retained until end of month
Manor hopes of staying in Formula One have received a boost, after the team has made the decision of retaining staff until the end of the month. Last week the company Just Racing, went into administration meaning the team faces collapse unless a buyer is found.
The administrator FRP Advisory has found the money to pay staff for January, this allows them to continue talks with new owners and preparations for 2017 to continue. However while it gives them longer, the reason why its viable is because they found enough money in the teams account to pay wages.
Under English law, Administrators have a statutory 14 days from the date they are appointed before they become liable themselves for paying salaries and other expenses. This extra cash give the team hopes of still being able to race this season.
The FIA have already agreed to allow the team to run a modified 2016 chassis with new body work, as the basis for the car that is raced at the beginning of the season, should they find a buyer.
Also the team there is no need to re-submit the chassis for its mandatory crash test, even though it has a small modification to meet 2017 regulations. This season the cars will look significantly different with wider cars and tyres, new wings and aerodynamics.
Its understood that the team are ready to put the car into production, but this has been stopped by FRP. Even if a buyer is not found by the end of January, it does not necessarily mean the team will immediately collapse and have a deadline of the Russian Grand Prix to get on the grid.
Sainz ramps up training
Carlos Sainz says he is ramping up his training program ahead of this season because he is expecting the “worst” from the demands of Formula 1’s new generation of faster cars.
This season the cars will look significantly different with wider cars and tyres, new wings and aerodynamics. The change are to lower lap times and make them physical harder to drive, with increased cornering speeds and longer lasting tyres meaning Sainz says, drivers’ fitness will have to rise to a new “extreme” level.
Writing on the teams’ website he said “Formula 1 cars, even if they were slower in recent years, they’ve never been easy in terms of the physical strain they place on drivers.”
“They have different demands and it could be easy one year and a bit more difficult the next. You always need to be at a very high fitness level.” He added that probably its taking us to another extreme level and he expect his neck to be gone after a few laps in testing.
Sainz says his preparations for the season began on Boxing Day following his holiday. He says that this was because he wanted to get an extra week in “we all know the physical demands of next year’s car could be quite tough, so I wanted to anticipate this part of my training campaign a bit earlier.”
Admitting he Sacrificed New Year’s Eve, but Sainz says once in a while you need to make these sacrifices.
Silverstone talking to government over future
BRDC President Derek Warwick says that Silverstone is in talks with the government about the future of the British Grand Prix. Over recent weeks a letter from the owners suggested the circuit was thinking about activating a break clause.
Silverstone has a contract for the race until 2026, however has a clause allowing it to give three years notice of their intention to break the deal which would need triggering by July. However Warwick says that the triggering of the clause doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the contract.
Speaking at Autosport International, Warwick says talks are on-going the government as well as F1’s incoming owner Liberty Media and F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone gives him hope.
“We sent a Christmas note to our members giving them an update of Silverstone. A lot of that came out as [there was] the possibility of activating the break clause before the grand prix this year, for 2019.
“Don’t worry, we 100% have it for next three years, up until 2019.”
“I have just got a feeling that, ‘we can’t do without the British Grand Prix, we can’t do without Silverstone’, so some compromise will be made, either with Bernie or the new people that are now taking over, which is Liberty.” Later in the interview said Liberty and Chase Carney understand the dilemma.
Warwick added “There is light at the end of the tunnel, we will have grands prix past 2019. We’re talking to government to see if there is any help there. Even Bernie is calling us and saying ‘let’s set up a meeting and we’ll talk about it.”
He admitted there are things they want to do but there short of cash and thing are positive at the moment.
Wehrlein should replace Bottas – Berger
Gerhard Berger says that Mercedes should replace Nico Rosberg with their reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein and not Valtteri Bottas. Mercedes are finalising plans for his replacement after Rosberg’s shock retirement.
Its expected that it will be Bottas who would join from Williams, but the German has been the teams reserve and test driver for the last two years. Wehrlein has impressed some with his performance last season with his performance on track.
Berger says Wehrlein should have been promoted to replace his countryman. He Auto Motor und Sport “I would have taken Wehrlein to underline my own young driver programme. Wehrlein always left a convincing impression in this programme.”
“You will only see how good he really is when you put him in a top car.” Wehrlein is expected to remain at Sauber this season. While Berger admits Wehrlein is a bigger risk than Bottas, who only has a year’s experience in F1.
He added “I hold Bottas in high esteem. He’s quick, a good team player, a nice person and he has earned the chance to prove himself. On the other hand he didn’t destroy Massa enough for us to be saying, ‘he’s the right choice’”
McLaren aiming for fourth – Neal
McLaren’s Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Neal says the team would be disappointed if the team didn’t finish higher than fourth in this seasons constructors’ championship.
2016 was much improved for McLaren, after the team finished fifth in the championship due to reliability and performance gains made by engine supplier Honda, plus improvements to their chassis. This allowed the team to score consistently and fight in the midfield.
The team believed they had built the best chassis on the grid. Neale believes McLaren is capable of improving significantly on its 2016 finishing position, and says the technical changes and there line up of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne as well as the shake-up of the technical regulations.
He told Autosport “You’ve got to aim high, but right now I would be disappointed if we were fourth. That’s probably the pragmatist’s view, but you don’t make progress as pragmatists.
“We want to win and we want to win sooner. We’ve got a race team, we’ve got drivers that are capable of winning, and between the chassis and engine, both ourselves and Honda need to bridge that gap in performance.” When asked what success would be this year he said “to win.”
However concedes that it will take time for the team to return to the top of the field and start winning again. Adding “We were ninth [in 2015], sixth last year so hopefully we’re in the top four next year. We want to win as early as possible, but I’m dealing with the reality.”
Red carpet welcome for Schumacher
The manager of the Ferrari Academy Massimo Rivola says the team would welcome Mick Schumacher with a “red carpet.” The 17-year old son of seven times world champion Michael, is this season competing in European F3 and has been linked to Mercedes.
Ferrari are also open to a deal with him as are Mercedes, where his father raced between 1997 – 2006 and 2010 – 12 respectively. Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport: Rivola said “obviously we follow him. And this year we will have the opportunity to stay very close to Mick, because he will be teammate of our FDA driver [Guan Yu] Zhou in the Prema team.”
“About his future, I don’t know what Mick will decide to do. But if he would like to enter the FDA programme, he will find a red carpet.” Rivola says Schumacher Jr has dealt with the pressure of his name admirably.
“Mick seems very polite and he’s not full of himself — so congratulations to his parents. They did a very good job with him. He’s very young, and he must manage a very huge media pressure. But he is doing it very well.”
Schumacher attended the German Grand Prix in July.