I would have liked to have stayed
Chairman Emeritus Bernie Ecclestone, says he would have liked to have remained as CEO for another year, but doesn’t feel let down by the new owners. In his first television interview since the coup, Ecclestone told Sky Sports he understood the American firm’s decisions.
“They bought the car, they wanted to drive it,” he said. In a wide-ranging exclusive interview with Craig Slater, Ecclestone also revealed: He has been asked to negotiate a new contract with Brazil’s president, he plans to be at half the races and there are no hard feeling towards Liberty or Chase Carey.
When Liberty took over last year Ecclestone said he had been asked to stay on by the American media firm for a further three seasons. But following the takeover Liberty installed Ross Brawn and Sean Bratches as managing directors to oversee sporting and commercial sides.
Ecclestone has been put in an advisory role with Carey saying his “advice will be invaluable” as the new owners get up to speed in the sport. Asked if he felt let down, Ecclestone said: “Not at all. I know the way the world operates.”
But asked if he would have made the same change as Liberty, Ecclestone replied: “Probably not. I would have asked them to work with me for a bit, wait for a year and afterwards say ‘has it worked, not worked?’ ‘Not worked? Sorry, you’ll have to leave,’ or whatever.
Honda 100% committted
Honda says they remain a “100% committed” to McLaren despite reports that the partnership is at breaking point following a troubled winter testing. McLaren was plagued by a lack of power and poor reliability during winter testing.
During testing McLaren’s Racing director Eric Boullier admitted during the test that relations between McLaren and Honda have become strained to the “maximum”. This week reports suggested that McLaren has sounded out Mercedes about returning to its fold as a customer team.
A McLaren spokesperson said this week the team was considering its options “together with Honda”, while Honda has confirmed to Autosport that it has no desire to re-evaluate its long-term partnership with McLaren or its future in Formula One.
Honda F1 boss Yusuke Hasegawa told the magazine “Of course the situation we find ourselves in is not what we hoped for when we returned to Formula 1, but we are still 100% committed to our future in the sport and our relationship with McLaren.”
“We believe in this partnership as does McLaren, and in order to move forward it is important for us to work as one team and overcome the situation together.” Hasegawa says it is important to have honest and open communication to strengthen the relationship.
Palmer looking forward
Jolyon Palmer last season did not make a mark on Formula One last season because of the underperforming Renault. This year however, he will be hoping to make a mark as the other Brit on the grid.
Reflecting on his first season, he said “One point. Yeah. I didn’t make a big dent into it. I am really confident that it will be a much better season. I haven’t got a lot of doubt about it.”
Last season, he had originally signed for the struggling Lotus team, before it was taken over by Renault. This season, Palmer faced being squeezed out after the French manufacturer signed Nico Hulkenberg for 2017.
Instead, it was Kevin Magnussen who left for Haas and Palmer the one who stayed. He says “I feel like it’s completely different sat here now. I honestly think you learn more in the difficult times. And really, last year there were times where I had to pull myself together.”
“The year started quite difficult and I had to regroup and get my head straight for doing what I could the rest of the year. And having come through that, now I’m sat here with that experience which a lot of drivers don’t have.” Palmer is hoping for a much stronger season with the team is hoping for fifth in the constructors.
Wolff loses driving ban appeal
Mercedes ambassador and Channel 4’s Susie Wolff has lost her appeal against a driving ban for speeding. The 34-year old former test driver told Oxford Crown Court that losing her licence was “hugely embarrassing” and would affect her charity work.
She was recorded doing 35mph in a 30mph zone in June 2015 in the village of East Hanney, Oxfordshire. The driver worked for Williams Formula One between 2012 and 2015. Mrs Wolff, who is married to the Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, already had nine points on her licence for two previous speeding offences when she was banned for six months by magistrates in November.
The ban had been suspended until Friday’s appeal hearing. Mrs Wolff told the court: “I’m not a girl racer, I save my speed for the race track.” She asked for the ban to be lifted because it would have a “massive impact” on her charity work encouraging girls to take part in motor sport.
She said: “It is a hugely embarrassing situation to find myself in, I’m a professional driver and to be caught speeding and to have my licence taken away for speeding, it would have an effect on my reputation.”
She says she is unable to fully participate in her charity work and her job with Mercedes.
Recorder Sarah Campbell dismissed her appeal and told her: “It may well be an embarrassment as far as her position is concerned, but it may be a salutary lesson to those aware of the facts.”
Mrs Wolff was also fined £500 and ordered to pay £345 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.
Ricciardo has no concerns over Renault issues
Daniel Ricciardo says he has no concerns about the recurring issues that teams had during winter testing in Barcelona with the Renault power unit. Both Renault and sister team Toro Rosso, suffered problems which hindered there running.
This has caused concerns for some about Red Bull’s title hopes as the look to fight Mercedes for the title. But Ricciardo has opted to look on the bright side, instead believing Renault’s discovery on the issues on its power unit in testing to be a good thing rather than when it mattered in races.
Ricciardo told Crash.net “The way I see it I try to be more positive, and better to have the problems now than later. The positive is with having problems now is that you understand why. You have time to repair the problems.”
“The track time we missed was not anything with the engine, so for us reliability was good, and hopefully it continues like this. So I am okay, I am happy with where we are.”
Stroll not bothered by criticism
Lance Stroll says he does not care about the criticism he has received following a difficult start to his career. The eighteen year old had two spins and a crash which cost the team a day is running in the second week of testing.
Stroll has been branded a ‘pay driver’, because he is the son of Canadian billionaire Lawrence, is seen by some as a ‘pay driver’, the teenager says he is not fussed by the criticism.
He told Autosport “I don’t care about the critics. It’s none of my business. We’re all professionals. Things happen in motorsports and you’ve just got to bounce back from it.”
“It’s all pretty straightforward to everyone. It was a frustrating [first] week but we set our minds on [test two] and did a good job. We got all our running in: long runs, short runs, all compounds of tyres, so it was a good week.” The Canadian says he not setting any goals, ahead of his debut next weekend.
He says “We’ve still got to stay calm and I don’t think we really need to set an objective. It’s obviously a new track for me. It’s a different track – it’s not like a normal race weekend.”