Allison joins Mercedes
Former Ferrari technical director James Allison will replace Paddy Lowe as Mercedes technical director. Lowe left Mercedes last month for Williams as part of the deal to release Valtteri Bottas from the team.
Allison has had two spells with Ferrari, first leading the aerodynamics team which saw him lead the team to five successive world titles, before joining Renault as deputy technical director when Fernando Alonso won consecutive titles in 2005 and 2006.
Allison will head the technical department. Allison said “I am very excited to be getting back to work after this time away from the sport. It’s a massive privilege to be given the trust of a position in a team that has done so spectacularly well in the past three seasons.”
“I am really looking forward to playing my part in helping Mercedes go from strength to strength in the coming years.” He added
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff added “I am delighted to welcome James to Mercedes and very much looking forward to working with him. Our technical team is extremely skilled at every level and at the top of its game after delivering three world championships in a row.”
Williams appoint new aero boss
Williams has appointed the former Ferrari head of aerodynamics Dirk de Beer as the team’s head of aerodynamics. The South African will begin his new job at the beginning of March.
De Beer had worked with the Sauber and Renault teams before joining Ferrari as the chief aerodynamicist in 2013. He left the team after he was moved to another post when Ferrari reshuffled their aero department.
De Beer said “I am extremely pleased to be joining Williams. The team has an incredible heritage in Formula One, and I’m proud to now be a part of that.”
“I’m looking forward to working with Dave Wheater and the Williams aero team to help continue driving forward the development of the car throughout the season and beyond.”
Deputy team principal Claire Williams added: “We’re delighted to have someone with Dirk’s vast experience joining us. Having spent several years as a head of aerodynamics in F1, his knowledge and technical expertise will undoubtedly be a great asset to the team in our continued push to restore Williams to the front of the grid.”
FIA denies conflict of interest
The FIA has address media accusations they acted improperly during the sale of Formula One’s commercial rights to Liberty Media. Some media have claimed that the FIA has a conflict of interest because it owns a small share in the sport.
There have been claims the FIA was subject to a ‘drag along’ clause when CVC Capital Partners decided to sell meaning the governing body ultimately profited from the sale that it oversaw as F1’s regulator.
Earlier this week, the European Parliament called for an investigation by the commission into the sport’s distribution of revenues among its teams is anti-competitive.
The FIA statement read “Following the unanimous approval by the World Motor Sport Council of the change of control of Delta Topco Limited (the holding company of the Commercial Rights Holder of the FIA Formula One World Championship) from CVC Capital Partners in favour of Liberty Media Corporation on 18 January 2017.”
“The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) has been made aware of certain declarations and comments, clearly inaccurately informed or made maliciously, relating to this process.” The FIA says it has no say in the prize money allocation and would only take control if Liberty ‘could not fulfil its role as the rights holder.’
The statement adds “The FIA would naturally be happy to demonstrate the absence of any conflict of interest to any competent authority that may so request.”
Wehrlein could miss testing
Autosport says they understand Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein will miss the first pre-season test because of a back injury, with Ferrari third driver Antonio Giovinazzi stepping in.
The German lost control of his car which led to contact with Williams’s Felipe Massa. Hitting the rear as Massa turned into Turn One, causing him to mount the Brazilian’s car. This launched him over the barriers bringing out the red flag.
Tests have revealed a back injury and the German has been advised to miss the first pre-season test at Barcelona to allow for more recovery time. Sauber is yet to confirm this, but an announcement is expected in the coming days. Further test will need to be carried out before the second test.
Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn has been talking about running Givovinazzi with her Ferrari counterpart about using him as a replacement. The Italian drove an F1 car for the first time earlier this month when he tested Ferrari’s 2015 car at Fiorano.
Haas launch date
Haas have announced they will launch their 2017 car, the VF-17 on Sunday 26th February at the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya. The American team will join Red Bull and Toro Rosso who are also launching on the same date at the circuit.
News – In – Brief
- Sydney no bid – Sydney has denied claims by the promotor of the Melbourne race that it’s going to launch a rival bid for the Australian Grand Prix. Organisers claimed in local media a bid wouldn’t surprise him.
- Fernmoji’s – Fernando Alonso has released his own emoji’s on an app. These include several celebratory poses and more. One of them is the deckchair pose from the 2015 Brazilian GP – Qualifying which prompted the hashtag #placesAlonsowouldratherbe
McLaren Marketing boss leaves
CEO of McLaren Marketing Ekrem Sami will leave the team at the end of March. Sami has been with the team for thirty-five years and would leave the team once he had finished handing over the work he has recently been involved in.
Sami worked closely with ousted CEO Ron Dennis on securing commercial deals for the last four decades, but now says it’s time to broaden his horizons. He said “I don’t mind admitting that it feels a bit strange to be announcing that I’m moving on from McLaren, the company to which I’ve devoted almost all my professional life. But now is the right time.”
“However, I’ll continue to work on the projects with which I’m already engaged, and I expect to formalise my departure sometime in late March,” Sami says that over the past thirty-five years he has worked with brilliant people and thanked them.
There had been questions over his future since the arrival last year of motorsport marketing expert Zak Brown as McLaren’s executive director. Brown said, “Whatever Ekrem chooses to do with the rest of his professional life, I’ll always regard him as a McLaren man through and through.”
“His commitment and work ethic remain absolutely second to none, and I feel privileged to have worked with him for so long – not only recently as his McLaren colleague but also, over many years, as his close associate, during my time at Just Marketing International.”
Shareholder Mansour Ojjeh added: “I’ve known Ekrem for 34 years – and, from the moment I first met him, I recognised in him a first-rate commercial mind and an unbelievable determination to succeed.
“On behalf of all at McLaren, I want to take this opportunity to thank Ekrem for his truly gigantic contribution, and to wish him continued success in the future.”
Toro Rosso livery change?
Toro Rosso has hinted they may introduce a new livery and potentially move away from its traditional purple and red colours. The team have used these colours since Red Bull brought Minardi team in 2006.
The team haven’t announced who will be there power unit sponsor this season, having agreed to return to Renault who they have agreed for it to be badged. In teaser Videos, they have not given away any hint of changes and have refused to comment on the report.
Toro Rosso is the second team to hint at a livery change, as McLaren has hinted they could have an orange livery. Rumours suggest it could be related to the Red Bull’s light blue and silver ‘sugar-free’ branding.