Hulkenberg to join Renault
Nico Hulkenberg is to leave Force India at the end of the season after agreeing his break clause with the team to join Renault. The German will lead the French team as they look to build as a works team.
Force India who he has drove for on and off over the past five yeas say explore fresh opportunities”. Team boss Vijay Mallya said: “It would be wrong to stand in his way.”
Renault chairman Jerome Stoll said Hulkenberg provided the experience needed to help the rebuilding team move up the grid. “2017 will be the second season of Group Renault’s return as a manufacturer entry in Formula 1 and the next step in our journey,” he said.
“This season has been about putting the foundations in place for future success.For our next step we required an experienced driver who is still hungry for podiums.”
The deal, for two years, is said to involve a salary of $20m (£17m). The second seat at Renault remains open, with current drivers Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer in the frame, along with Manor’s Esteban Ocon.
Renault have also been in talks with Valtteri Bottas, but its though that he will remain with Williams due to the retirement of Felipe Masa and the Fin is believed to be in the final stages of the deal.
Renault have set themselves of targeting the world title in 2020 something which small independent teams are unlikely to achieve in the current climate.
Hulkenberg himself effectively signposted his move to Renault earlier on Friday when he posted a picture of the front page of German newspaper Bild, which led on the story, on social media.
More insight into Webbers retirement
Mark Webber has given more insight into his announcement yesterday that he is retiring from motorsport at the end of this year’s World Endurance Championship.
The former Red Bull driver is retiring after a career that has span over a quarter of a century, Including nine race wins a in F1 and last years WEC championship. Webber says he asked three-time champions Stewart and Lauda for advice on when to call it quits.
“Of course hanging up my professional racing helmet is a very big decision but I’ve been extremely fortunate to receive great counsel from two of the legends of our sport, Sir Jackie Stewart and Niki Lauda, about the timings of such a decision,” he told ESPN.
“The timing is right for me — you certainly view things a bit differently when you get a bit older and your priorities in life change. As with my F1 career, it’s nice to making the decision on my own terms.” Webber has confirmed he will remain with Porsche and Red Bull as an ambassador and a analyst / commentator for Channel 4 F1 and WEC coverage.
Webber says “It’s an absolute honour for me to remain with Porsche and whether it’s at the track or away from it.” He also announced he is working on new ventures too.
Weather affects tyre test
More wet weather affected Manor’s Pascal Wehrlein tyre test for Pirelli at the circuit de Catalynua – Barcelona yesterday. The German was brought into replace Lewis Hamilton after the pulled out because of a foot injury.
Nico Rosberg’s running on Wednesday was limited because of wet weather but any hopes of running on the slick tyre had to be abandoned. However Wehrlein carried out runs on the intermediate tyre but the low temperatures mean the data was of limited value.
Once again, Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery used the conditions to highlight his concerns about conducting pre-season testing at Barcelona next year. He told ESPN “Obviously the weather hindered progress to some extent both today and yesterday, as is not entirely unexpected at this time of year in Europe.”
“The same can apply to the early part of next year, which is why we are in favour of some guaranteed warm weather testing in 2017, before the season gets underway.” Where next season pre-season tests are going to take place are a heated debate between these teams
Red Bull is testing today in Abu Dhabi.
Good starts due to guess work – Wehrlein
Pascal Wehrlein says that guess work has been behind his good starts and opening laps this season. The German is currently second in the table behind Fernando Alonso in number of places gained on the opening lap.
Speaking to Autosport Wehrlein said “Definitely it’s easier when you are in the back to gain positions, that’s clear. The first lap is very important for that, especially the first two corners.”
“It’s all about guessing where the best place is. Most of the time, something happens at those two corners so it’s all about being in the right place, especially when you are at the back.”
The german hasn’t said what he will be doing next year but says as had good feedback as he approaches the end of his rookie year in F1. “It has been very positive, everyone is happy.” He adds
“The biggest target was to learn as much as possible because it’s my first year in Formula 1, my first year in single-seaters for three years [after racing in the DTM”
Wolff and Lauda look to extend contracts
Mercedes bosses Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff have begun talks with the German car manufacturer to extend their deals beyond 2017. Both the Austrian’s are out of contract at the end of next season and are shareholders in the team
The four time champion told Oe24.tv “Toto and I are negotiating a renewal of the contracts that expire next year. How long I renew for, I cannot say. But the Concorde Agreement runs until 2020, so it would be logical to cover this period.”
Lauda says that he is still backing Lewis Hamilton to take his fourth title this season even though he is currently forty four points behind team-mate Nico Rosberg.
Lauda “Nico would not be champion for nothing, because he has had a perfect season and improved big time. Nico changed completely this year. In previous years Lewis had a slight advantage, but through rigorous work and fast racing, Rosberg has been the better this year.”
However Hamilton’s engine woes means he must have a good four races if he is to fight for the title says the Austrian, who insists that the tensions between the two are not a problem.
Haas support surprises Gutierrez
Esteban Gutierrez has been surprised by the level of support Haas has given him as he waits for his future to be resolved. The Mexican is in limbo over his seat for next season.
It has been a difficult for the 25 year old who has failed to score points but he has finished 11th on five occasions. Asked by Autosport if he felt Haas would take into account the bad luck he has suffered this season, Gutierrez said: “Yes. I’m actually surprised how much they’re supporting. It’s very positive.”
“You make a big effort, and you see people realise that, and they see how you are performing, and they also consider I didn’t have the opportunities.” He says it has been frustrating because Haas want him to get good results.
Gutierrez has faced criticism over his driving mainly due to him ignoring blue flags during races that have enraged his rivals. But he says others must understand his position.
“From the outside you can see I’m pushing, that I’ve been performing on track, I’ve been quick, that everything is there for me to really put the results in. But it just hasn’t happened for one reason or another.”
“But at the same time you see me here, positive, smiling, I’m still enjoying a lot what I do. I have a lot of confidence.”