Manor talks continue with an extended deadline
FRP Advisory who are trying to save the Manor team say have made progress in talks with investors which could see them race this season. The team will collapse if a buyer isn’t found.
Manor need more than £500,000 to be able take part in pre-season testing and prepare for the first race. Insiders say the hope is that money can be sourced before a deadline at the end of next week. Earlier this week the teams future looked bleak.
But the continued survival of the team depends on the promised money actually turning up next week. The team themselves are not in administration, but the operating company Just Racing Services are in administration. However, parent company Manor Grand Prix is still a going concern.
It is not known who the new investor is. One new name being mentioned is the Indonesian businessman Ricardo Galael, whose companies sponsored his son Sean and the Campos team in GP2 last year.
Manor are contemplating using a modified 2016 car to start the season, despite major changes in the rules that will make cars faster by up to five seconds a lap.
Manor hope to run 2016 car
Manor has asked the FIA if they could run a modified 2016 car this season, according to Auto Motor und Sport. The team are entering the final week of operation, facing collapse if a buyer is not found by the end of the month.
The newspaper says that “We hear that Renault and Toro Rosso have already taken some Manor employees under contract. In order to buy some time, Manor has now asked the FIA for help.”
There are reports that an Asian consortium and the race promoter Tavo Hellmund are interested in buying the team. At the moment the team should be busy preparing for the season ahead, but they are unable to put them into production as administrators FPR have blocked it.
A reporter added “Even if an investor is found, the racing operation cannot start again immediately. To have more time for a last-minute sale, the team has asked the FIA if it can use its old (2016) car in the first three races.”
The report said the move would require the consent not only of the FIA but the other ten teams. “It is clear that a 2016 car will have no chance of the 107pc qualifying rule against the faster 2017 cars,” Gruner concluded.
Magnussen hits back against criticism
Kevin Magnussen says that his former teams McLaren and Renault have never given him negative feedback. Earlier this week, Renault’s managing director Cyril Abiteboul told French media recently that Magnussen lacks discipline and commitment.
Sources at both teams have raised questions about his work ethic, when asked for his view, Magnussen told Autosport “I’ve heard things before, but never from the team. Sometimes you’re unlucky one guy says something to the press and that becomes the official opinion of the whole team.”
“But it’s just one guy, so I don’t take that seriously.” Magnussen join Renault early last year, but decided to leave after the team dragged it heals on who would drive alongside Nico Hulkenberg. Asked about his single season stays with McLaren and Renault he said he was just unlucky.
“”With Renault, it just didn’t work out and we parted ways. I’m in a better place now so I’m looking forward. With McLaren, I wanted to continue with the team and the team wanted to continue with me but for political reasons at the top it didn’t happen.” He added.
The Dane says he has nothing against his former teams, saying that F1 is a tough business.
Magnussen is on multi-year deal and takes comfort from the belief owner Gene Haas and team principal Gunther Steiner have shown in him. Haas said “It’s a different feeling coming to a team that wants you and signed you because they think you can deliver something they want.”
“It’s motivating, there’s no secret it motivates you and I can’t wait for the season to start.”
Maldonado hoped to return
Pastor Maldonado was hoping that following the departure of Nico Rosberg there would have been a chance of him returning to the grid. The Venezuelan was left without a seat after Renault brought Lotus.
As well as some discussions about an IndyCar move, he held talks with Sauber at the end of last year but could not reach an agreement. Maldonado said the departure of Rosberg gave him hope of a return to Formula One. In the end though, Mercedes’ move for Valtteri Bottas opened the door for Felipe Massa, and Pascal Wehrlein’s switch to Sauber closed off Maldonado’s last real chance.
Maldonado says about these rumours that he would only return to Formula One in a competitive seat. He told Motorsport.com “I evaluated the options and I’m still considering all the possibilities about doing a proper professional programme – and of course F1 is one of the categories that interests me.”
“I had the chance to come back, but I only wanted to do it with the right conditions – not like the ones I had in my previous experience.” He says Rosberg’s retirement could of created him a good chance of returning to the sport.
He says a move to Sauber was a possibility, but the “conditions were not right to satisfy either side.”
Tost proposes eGrand Prix’s
Toro Rosso team Principal Franz Tost says that Formula One should follow Formula E by introducing eGrand Prix’s. There has been calls for F1 to improve the show.
Changes have been made with varying levels of success including 2016’s controversial revamped qualifying format and subsequent U-turn. The sport ditch FP4 in 2002 and while a two-day aggregate qualifying format was used briefly two years later.
eRacing is nothing new, as a major race was held a fortnight ago in Las Vegas with Formula E. eRacing has been part of the championship since the formation of the championship in 2014. Tost believes similar initiatives could be added to Sunday schedules to boost interest in F1 and appeal to a new audience.
Tost told Autosport “We must improve the show itself. We must bring in the young peoples’ interest, for example with E-games. Why not have Sunday morning an eGame with a big broadcast where people worldwide are involved to increase the interest?”
“The eGame would work simply in that there’s a game and companies would be involved in eGames and say look.” Tost says young people are not so much interest in the cars and we must find a way of engaging with them.
Tost said promoters must also do a better job at getting the message out that the country is hosting an F1 race. “Promotion must start earlier, maybe three or four months before a race, with some drivers coming for autograph sessions and show runs.”
Tost gave the example of Austin whose approach is to bring people in for a concert and Melbourne he described as a family race because “You see historic cars, you see new cars, you see fantastic races and this is what people want to see.”
Wihuri and Mercedes announce partnership
Mercedes have announced a new team partnership with the Finnish Wihuri Group. The Finnish company has been working with Valtteri Bottas since he was six years old.
The Wihuri Group specialise in four key areas packaging, daily goods wholesale, technical trade and aviation, employing 5,000 people in thirty countries. The deal means that the racesuits of the team’s drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, on the team’s trackside uniform and on the drivers’ helmets.
At certain races, the Wipak logo, part of Wihuri’s packaging division, will be used on the drivers’ helmets instead.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said “We are delighted to welcome Wihuri to the Mercedes family today. As a respected brand both in Finland and globally, Wihuri will be a valuable addition to our team and we look forward to working with them and helping to expand their Formula One experience.”
Juha Hellgren Wihuri Group’s President And CEO said “We have been supporting Valtteri Bottas for several years now and it’s great to see him get the chance to show what he can do at Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport.”
“He has a real chance to compete for the Formula One World Championship and I am conﬁdent that our partnership with the Mercedes team will be a success story for both sides.”
No guaranteed test – Russel
Mercedes new junior driver George Russel says he is not taking it for granted that he will get a test with the team. Yesterday, the British teenager was announced as the teams young driver.
This season Russel will combine the role as he hopes to close down on the GP3 title with ART Grand Prix. Now that the teams other two junior drivers Esteban Ocon and Pascal Wehrlein, now in F1 race seats, Russell driver who can take part in mandatory in-season young driver testing.
While he acknowledges this means he is a “natural” choice to put in the car later in the year, Russell insisted he is not getting his hopes up. The Bahrain test clashes with the GP3 test, meaning he will only get a chance would be in the second in-season test at Silverstone.
Russel said he is currently the only one in the programme who is not in Formula One. Adding “I’m in the frame, but it doesn’t mean I’ve made it. I still have to do the job.”
Over the last few years he has been racing in Formula 3 and moving into GP3 follows the path that Ocon took into the sport. Russel says he doesn’t feel the pressure to emulate his predecessors, but admits performing well in the junior series will be critical to any future F1 race seat hopes – and that a direct move isn’t out of the question