Tsunoda to partner Gasly at Alpha Tauri
Yuki Tsunoda will partner Pierre Gasly at Alpha Tauri next year after finishing third in Formula Two. The Japanese driver is already part of the junior programmes of both Red Bull and their engine partner Honda.
Tsunoda will be the first Japanese driver to compete in F1 since Kamui Kobayashi who raced for Toyota, Sauber and Caterham between 2010-14. He replaces Daniil Kvyat who failed to deliver the same results as teammate Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon during his second stint with the team.
Tsunoda said: “Like most racing drivers, it has always been my goal to race in F1, so I am very happy with this news. I realise that I will be carrying the hopes of a lot of Japanese F1 fans next year and I will be doing my best for them too.”
Alpha Tauri team principal Franz Tost said, “In F2 this year, Yuki has demonstrated the right mix of racing aggression and good technical understanding. I am sure he will be a great asset to our team.”
Tost added that Tsunoda had “proved he was ready for F1” in two tests he has completed for Alpha Tauri in the past couple of months – at Imola in November and at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina track on Tuesday.
Kvyat now faces searching for his future after resigning to replace Gasly when he was promoted for the first half of the 2019 season to Red Bull. That was because of a driver shortage in the Red Bull programme left a seat to be filled at Toro Rosso, the former name of Alpha Tauri.
But Kvyat was comprehensively out-performed by Gasly over 2020 and his prospects for a future as an F1 race driver look bleak.
Mick’s arrival a reminder of “tragedy”
Formula One Motorsport and technical managing director Ross Brawn says the arrival of Mick Schumacher next season is a reminder of the “tragedy” that befell his father Michael.
The seven-times champion suffered a serve head injury while skiing in the French resort of Grenoble at Christmas in 2013. Little is publicly known about his condition.
Brawn was the mastermind behind Michaels seven of his world championship titles while working together at Benetton and Ferrari. The Englishman has naturally kept an eye on Mick, who will make his debut with Haas next year.
Speaking to F1 Nation podcast, the Englishman expressed regret that Michael is not able to “participate” in fully supporting his son’s career.
Brawn told the F1 podcast, “Obviously it’s going to be exciting particularly with Mick coming in, which I have a lot of enthusiasm and passion for. So that’s going to be good.”
“I think it just reminds us of the tragedy of Michael’s accident, because, how wonderful it would have been if Michael was able to participate in that.
“I mean, none of us know how much Michael is able to understand. But if he’d been part of that – and let’s hope and pray that one day, he might be – that would be very, very special.”
Brawn says that under the circumstances and with the responsibility of the Schumacher name he was doing an amazing job. He hopes that Mick can succeed.
“can’t be that satisfying” being runner up – Bottas
Valtteri Bottas says it “can’t be that satisfying” for him finishing second in the championship and losing the championship once again to teammate Lewis Hamilton. The Finn’s second place in Abu Dhabi was enough for him to finish runner up ahead of Max Verstappen.
Bottas was still however nearly five race wins behind Hamilton and only nine points ahead of Red Bull’s Verstappen. When asked about his satisfaction of finishing second in the championship, he preferred to focus on his contribution to Mercedes seventh constructors title.
He told Motorsport.com, “As a driver, when you are in the best team overall this season, being second can’t be that satisfying But it is something, to be able to contribute to the team this season, getting the fourth constructors’ title for me in the team, and seventh in a row for us.”
“It’s better than being third, for sure. I guess I will get a small trophy to take home next week [at the FIA prize giving] and I’m sure when I’m old and grey I can look this year and yeah, I was second.”
Momentum appeared to fizzle out early on in the season with Hamilton’s first win in Budapest where he took the lead of the championship with a record-equalling eighth win at the same Grand Prix. He then went onto win nine of the fourteen of the remaining races, wrapping up the title with three races to go.
Despite a tricky end to the year that saw him finish on the podium just once in the last four races, Mercedes F1 CEO Toto Wolff felt Bottas was still in “the right mindset”.
Wolff said “He had two or three very, very difficult weekends, and recovered. He had a very good race [in Abu Dhabi] but I think maybe he has unlocked a potential that you recover even towards the end of the season, when championships are decided.”
Harder returning to Williams
George Russell says it was harder returning to his Williams car in Abu Dhabi than adapting to the Mercedes. The Englishman was loaned to Mercedes after Lewis Hamilton tested positive for coronavirus for the Sakhir Grand Prix.
In that race in Bahrain, Russell looked on course to take his maiden Grand Prix win before a botched pitstop and a late puncture wrecked his hopes. Hamilton returned for the season finale in Abu Dhabi, with Russell returning to Williams.
Reflecting on switching cars once more, Russell admitted it had been quite a challenge to adapt again to the Williams. He explained to Motorsport.com, “It was actually harder probably jumping back to the Williams because the Mercedes car is so good.”
“It’s what every driver wants from a race car what the Mercedes gives you, and you feel it. The driver is in control of the Mercedes, whereas sometimes it’s almost like our car is controlling the driver.
“We have to react to it, whereas in the Mercedes you are the one controlling it. So I think it’s only natural when you’ve got a great car underneath you, it’s a true joy to drive. And maybe that’s why I probably got up to speed with it relatively quickly.”
Russell had a difficult race in Abu Dhabi, where he had to manage both brake and tyre temperatures. He says that left him unable to attack the brakes throughout the race, putting him on a knife-edge throughout the race.
Despite that, he thinks the team had a well managed and executed race for all of the little gremlins in the background.
Sir Frank stable following hospital admission
Williams co-founder and former team principal Sir Frank Williams is in a stable condition after being admitted to hospital. The seventy-eight-year-old founded the Williams team which won seven drivers’ titles and nine constructors’ championships.
A statement released by Dorilton Capital who brought the team in September on behalf of the Williams family said, “Sir Frank Williams has recently been admitted to hospital where he is currently in a stable condition.”
“Frank’s medical condition is a private matter and therefore the family will not be releasing any further details at this time. We ask for you to respect the family’s privacy.”
Sir Frank founded the team in 1977 with Sir Patrick Head, built one of the most successful teams in history, with their heyday coming in the 1980s and 1990s.
In recent years before the sale to Dorilton, Sir Frank’s daughter Claire had taken over much of the running of the team in recent years and the pair stepped away from the sport earlier this year after Williams was sold to US investment group Dorilton Capital.
Stoll to step down as Renault Sport’s president
Jerome Stoll will be stepping down as president of Renault Sport Racing when his contract expires at the end of the month. The sixty-six-year-old has been in the role since 2016 when he oversaw the return of the French manufacturer as a works team the same year.
In a statement, Stoll said, “These five years as President of Renault Sport Racing have been very intense Taking up the challenge of rebuilding a Formula 1 team is tough, it takes time, commitment and unfailing determination.
“A first step has been taken with a team and drivers that we can now see on the podium. I appreciate the privilege of being able to be part of all these changes and all our progress.
“Motorsport, and even more so Formula One, is above all a human adventure, encounters, bonds that are forged, joys, disappointments and invaluable rewards.
He added he owes a lot to every collaborator, who he said were determined to give their best to make our brand and our values shine. Stoll believes a new chapter was beginning as the team is rebranded as Alpine.
Stoll’s final season in charge saw Renault finish fifth in the Constructors’ Championship with 181 points, led by drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon.
High court dismisses case over sale of Force India
The father of Nikita Mazepin Dmitry has had his case against the administrators of Force India dismissed by the High Court in London. However, the Russian chemical company Uralkali has not given up its claims and says it will seek to appeal the judgement.
Mazepin was one of serval bidders for the team when it went into admiration in July 2018, he believed that he had submitted the highest bid.
The team was sold to the Racing Point consortium led by Lawrence Stroll, and in an unprecedented development, a new company was formed to take over the team’s entry and run its cars under the new name, with the full agreement of the FIA and F1.
Mazepin took the administrator FRP Advisory to court, with his company Uralkali claiming it had “failed to conduct a fair and proper sales process.”
It said that FRP had “negligently misrepresented that they would select the successful bidder on the basis of the most favourable offer” and “negligently misrepresented that the bidding process would be operated on a level playing field as between all bidders.”
Also, Urakali said that FRP “conducted the bid process negligently” and “breached an equitable duty of confidence by disclosing confidential information to Mr Stroll relating to Uralkali’s bid.”
The case heard last month by Mr Justice Miles at the High Court dismissed all the claims, and said that the key player’s failure to appear in person had not helped Uralkali’s case.
In a statement issued in response to the judgement, Uralkali said it will continue to pursue its claims. It read “Although Uralkali is disappointed with the decision of the trial court, it is pleased that the trial confirmed a number of its prior statements, including the fact that Uralkali’s bid for the assets of Force India F1 team was higher than the winning bid.
“Uralkali intends to seek permission to appeal the decision handed down today and to continue to protect its rights in accordance with applicable legal procedures.”
A statement from FRP Advisory given to Motorsport.com welcomed the outcome: “Mr Justice Miles not only dismissed the Uralkali claims in their entirety he also found that Mr Rowley conducted the sales process ‘fairly and properly.’
“The judgement vindicates FRP’s position from the outset, which is that the joint administrators undertook their duties with efficiency and professionalism and engaged with all parties in an entirely even-handed manner.”