Williams ask Massa to delay retirement
Williams have asked Felipe Massa to delay his retirement from Formula One until 2017, according to reports to allow Valtteri Bottas to move to Mercedes to replace Nico Rosberg.
However, other reports say a senior source says that option was briefly discussed but has been dismissed.
The Finn was only confirmed as a Williams driver last month, alongside Lance Stroll. But since the retirement of Nico Rosberg he has emerged as the leading candidate to drive alongside Lewis Hamilton. The British team has been has been tight-lipped on the reports.
Technical Director Pat Symonds has already warned of “heavy” consequences if Williams were to field an entirely new driver pairing next year, especially with radical regulation changes set to come into play.
According to F1i the Brazilian is in ‘advanced talks’ with the team over a one year extension, after announcing his retirement in September. Its already been reported should Bottas be released Williams would get discounted engines from Mercedes of around (8.4m).
Mercedes are reluctant to promote Wehrlein because they feel he lacks the experience to guarantee scoring the regular big points they will need to defend their constructors’ title.
No announcement before Christmas – Mercedes
Mercedes have announced they will not make an announcement on who will replace Nico Rosberg until after the Christmas break. Mercedes have been searching for his replacement since the shock of his retirement earlier this month.
The team as reported above have been trying to sign Williams Valtteri Bottas but have so far not been able to negotiate a deal for the Finn. A Mercedes spokesman said the team would not reveal any decision before 3 January – and added that did not mean there would be an announcement on that date.
Over last weekend, BBC News reported that they understood that Williams had been offered a £8.4 million reduction in their engine bill in return for releasing Bottas from his 2017 contract. The team were also given the option of running Mercedes reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein, although this was not a requirement of the deal.
Williams have rejected the first offer from Mercedes, but negotiations continue. The team know the team have £17.6 million from Rosbergs contract. Williams also have the added pressure of their contract with Martini that requires at least one driver over 25 for promotional reasons.
Their other driver, the Canadian rookie Lance Stroll, is only 18, while Wehrlein is 22. Another element of this deal, is Technical Director Paddy Lowe is set to defect to Williams and be replaced by Ferrari technical director James Allison, but for a lower amount of money.
It’s understood that Williams could be looking at Paul di Resta, who has been there test driver and has not raced for three years.
Hamilton will be unbeatable – Ecclestone
Formula One CEO Berine Ecclestone says that next season Lewis Hamilton will be unbeatable in 2017 irrespective of who his new Mercedes team-mate is.
In a wide ranging interview with Sky Sports, Ecclestone said that “nobody is going to beat Lewis” next year and says despite the regulation changes. But added Mercedes needs to find a strong team-mate to challenge Hamilton, following the retirement of Nico Rosberg.
He said “I think nobody would want to buy tickets and go to watch a race or watch on television Lewis disappearing from us when the lights go off and probably lapping the field a couple of times.”
Mercedes want Valtteri Bottas to replace him, but Williams have rejected an offer. The inexperienced Pascal Wehrlein is a likely alternative should Williams continue to rebuff the world champions’ advances.
There have been reports Ecclestone could influence either Sebastian Vettel or Fernando Alonso joined Hamilton in a blockbuster all-champion pairing. However, for separate reasons, Ecclestone says the under-contract pair were never likely to leave their current teams.
“There is no good encouraging people because both those guys are under contract.” He said Alonso / Hamilton couldn’t work because of the 2007 Spygate scandal and Vettel wouldn’t break his Ferrari contract.
He says Max Verstappen could win the title within three years should he get the car. Red Bull are expected to mount a strong challenge to Mercedes’ three-year dominance of F1 in the new era of rules in 2017.
Ecclestone added he thinks Hamilton is certain to win the drivers, but he his unsure who will win the constructors.
Renault announce reshuffle
Renault have announced that Rob White the teams operations director and chief engineer Ciaron Pilbeam will be returning to the UK. The arrival of Pilbeam who has worked for BAR, Red Bull, Lotus and most recently McLaren, is part of a 20% expansion in the overall headcount.
This year for the French manufacturer was about rebuilding and laying long term foundations for the future, reminded the head of Renault Sports Cyril Abiteboul. He told Motorsport.com “Our 2016 car, the R.S.16, was conceived in an unbelievably short time frame – literally a couple of weeks – so our focus for this year has been on expansion of headcount and infrastructure and looking to next year and beyond.”
“Expansion is not the work of a moment so we’ve been recruiting people through the year and they have been joining us throughout the season.” Renault is targeting to have a quality workforce, but need a significant quantity of personnel to grow at a level allowing us to fight against the top teams.
Their UK base is being expanded to include more CNC machining in house, new spray and preparation areas. It’s also expanding nearly every department at Enstone.
“This has meant adapting the structure to change from a power unit supplier to part of a full manufacturer entry in addition to continuing as a supplier to other parties, as well as targeted headcount expansion for better control of our skills and talents.”