No concern over conflicting interests
The board of Mercedes have no concern about a conflict of interest between team boss Toto Wolff and Valtteri Bottas, who has been picked by Mercedes as there number one choice to replace Nico Rosberg.
Wolff was part of Williams when he was signed by the team as a test driver in 2010 and despite being the Mercedes boss, he remains part of his management group. Wolff has given the German manufacturer a full disclosure at a meeting where a its thougt the negotiations were given the OK.
Williams have rejected Mercedes’ initial approach for their driver but negotiations are expected to continue this week. The aim of Mercedes is to have a deal done before the Christmas break and it would be the first time since there return as a manufacturer they wouldn’t have a German driver.
Mercedes insiders suggest that having a German driver is not important as they are seeking the best line up possible. Next season Mercedes are expected to have strong opposition from the Red Bull. Mercedes have offered Williams a reduction in engine prices and Pascal Wehrlein as a replacement for Bottas.
The team are also looking at the possibility of replacing him with Pascal Wehrlein, who was overlooked by Force India for replacing Nico Hulkenberg. As reported yesterday, Paddy Lowe, Mercedes’ technical chief, is set to leave the team for Williams.
Neither Lowe nor Williams have commented on the reports. Should they take the Mercedes offer, it would be a risk putting Wehrlein in with Lance Stroll which would be the least experienced on the grid.
Alonso committed to McLaren
Fernando Alonso has reaffirmed him commitment to McLaren, after being linked to the Mercedes seat which was left vacant by Nico Rosberg.
Alonso has been linked to the seat despite having a year left on his contract, but new McLaren boss Zak Brown and Flavio Briatore, Alonso’s manager, have since insisted the Spaniard is not seeking a move away from Woking. Today the team Tweeted that he said “I believe in this project, I’m committed and I want to be world champion with McLaren-Honda. That’s my only goal”
Biggest changes in two decades – Key
Toro Rosso Technical Director James Key says the rule changes for next season are the biggest for two decades. Next season the cars will have wider front and rear wings as part of revised aerodynamic regulations, and the cars will be fitted with wider tyres.
Key joins a growing list of team members and drivers across the sport to speak about the changes, with Carlos Sainz Jr is expecting the new cars to look like “another category” and Williams Technical Director Pat Symonds believing that development will be relentless throughout next season.
Key told Autosport “It’s a massive change. From a bodywork and suspension and tyre point of view, this is the biggest one that I’ve experienced in almost 19 years in F1.”
“From a chassis point of view, it’s the biggest change of the past two decades, even bigger than 2009 and certainly bigger than 2014.” Key says he started working on the project in September 2015 saying there was an enormous amount of research to be done.
“Secondly, you hit the track for winter testing, after which you go and do a season with all this work that for a long time existed in your virtual world. We tentatively started the 2017 project in September 2015, so it’s been 14 months so far.”
Key added no one could get ahead as the regulations were only finalised around March/April time this year.
Button & Coulthard for Team GB at Race of Champions
McLaren’s Jenson Button and former F1 Driver turned commentator David Coulthard have been announced as the United Kingdom’s line up for the Race of Champions next month in Miami.
Both drivers raced at the London 2015 event, against each other as Button raced for England and Coulthard raced for Scotland. The pair has won the nations title in 2014 with Coulthard heading into the event looking to retake the driver’s title from Sebastian Vettel and Button looking to defend the nation’s championship.
Button Said “I’m delighted to be coming back to the Race Of Champions once again. It is always a great event with a special atmosphere. You get to race against the best drivers from all over the world.”
“We enjoy our time both on and off the track as we meet old friends from all the different motor sport series.”
Coulthard added “I’m delighted to be coming back to the Race Of Champions. I was proud to win it a couple of years ago, beating off drivers who I’ll admit are younger and more talented than me!”
“You also get a chance to compare your driving with a wide range of different drivers from all over the world in a lot of different vehicles, while having fun out of the car.”
Other former and Current F1 drivers confirmed are Sebastian Vettel (Germany), Felipe Massa (Brazil), Juan Pablo Montoya (Colombia) and Alexander Rossi (United States).
Mercedes to remain ahead – Horner
Mercedes will remain the team to beat next year, despite the change in the regulations aimed to level the field. Mercedes have won all three drivers and constructors championship under the current rules.
The 2017 season sees the biggest shake up in the aerodynamics since 2009, which saw a new order emerge lead by Brawn GP who are now Mercedes. Then by Red Bull going on to win four championships between 2010 – 13, however Horner believes a repeat is not on the cards for 2017.
Horner told ESPN “I think it’s going to be tough to overcome Mercedes, they will go into next year as the clear favourites. They have won three consecutive world championships, they’ve won 50-odd grands prix in the last three years.”
“We’re hopeful with the new regulations, it should balance out the emphasis between chassis and engine. We’re confident we should make a bit of progress over the winter with the engine.” Horner added the changes are a clean sheet for everyone and you don’t know where you currently are to compared to everyone else.
He thinks that Mercedes will have the pressure from other teams and naturally from Red Bull. Brawn in 2009, found a loophole in the regulations allowing a bigger double diffuser which creates the possibility of it being repeated again in 2017.
Horner added “The regulations aren’t quite as dramatic as they were from 08 to 09. But they still represent a great opportunity to make the cars significantly quicker.”