Symonds leaves Williams
Autosport say they have learnt that Williams Chief Technical Officer, Pat Symonds has parted company with the team. Symonds has been the technical officer since joining from Virgin in mid-2013.
Symonds had overseen two successful seasons where the team finished third in the constructors, but this year has slipped to fifth in the table, behind fellow independent Force India. The news will add to the reports that Valtteri Bottas is set to join Mercedes, in return for their Executive Technical Director Paddy Lowe.
Symonds has been in Formula One since the 1980’s when he joined Tolemen then Benetton and stayed when the team finally became Renault in 2002. Symonds was key to Renault’s back to back drivers’ and constructors’ titles with Fernando Alonso in 2005 and 2006.
Symonds has worked with all the big names including Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and Nelson Piquet, as well as numerous race winners including Giancarlo Fisichella, Jarno Trulli and Gerhard Berger.
But his career was billeted by his involvement in the 2008 Crashgate Scandal, when he told Piquet Jr to crash deliberately to allow Alonso to win. He was later banned, but this was overturned by the appeal court
Williams declined to comment when contacted by Autosport.
Massa agrees one year deal
Felipe Massa has agreed a one year deal with Williams for next season, according to Sky Sports Italia and Motorsport.com. The Brazilian has accepted a one year deal to stay with the team, despite announcing his retirement in September.
Massa won’t be officially announced until the new year, but it’s understood that it is a £5m deal. The postponement is due to Mercedes announcing they won’t announce the replacement of Nico Rosberg until then, with Valtteri Bottas looking set to join Mercedes.
It’s expected once the announcement that Bottas is made by Mercedes, that Williams is set to follow suit, by announcing Massa on the same day. Massa retired only a few weeks ago, with an emotional final home race with a round remaining.
The return of Massa would see him race alongside Lance Stroll, who is set to become the first Canadian since the Jacques Villeneuve to race in F1.
Mercedes may wait until end of January
Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda, says the team could wait until the end of January until they make a decision on who replaces Nico Rosberg. The four times champion says that the team faces a “huge decision” over there driver line up.
Mercedes are tough to be deciding between junior driver Pascal Wehrlein and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas for the position. If they chose Bottas, it would involve negotiations with Williams to get him out of his contract and Lauda admits the complex discussions are taking longer than expected.
Speaking alongside Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko, the four times champion told Servus TV “It could take until the end of January before we know which way we will go. We are not yet that far and we don’t know yet. We hoped to make it sooner, but they are quite complicated negotiations.”
“Basically, there are just two ways to go: a young driver like Wehrlein, who could become a star or could not, or we an experienced man like Bottas. We are far from being ready with these considerations — this is a huge discussion.”
Marko challenged Lauda on their young driver programme, saying he doesn’t have trust in it. Marko said “you have a junior programme and you have the highly regarded Mr. Wehrlein. This guy Wehrlein does not look like he will get the drive. That means you do not trust your own junior programme. ”
Lauda responded by saying: “I must correct that. The junior programme is, as you say, a junior programme. Young pilots should gain experience.” Also pointing out the Kvyat / Max Verstappen swap saying the onlt reason it happened was because Kvyat made a mistake.
Marko added “Well, Wehrlein is still very young — but no risk, no fun. If you take Valtteri Bottas, you have to give a two-digit million amount in the form of a reduction in engine costs to Williams.”
We should aim for Force India & Williams – Sainz
Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz says that the team should aim at beating both Force India and Williams in the constructor’s championship next season. The Italian team started strongly this season; however they soon found the downsides of running a 2015 engine.
The team began to slip away and eventually finished the season seven points behind McLaren and seventy five points behind Williams. But the team proved they could build a strong chassis, this will hopefully see them move forward with Renault power units next season.
Sainz has the confidence that Toro Rosso can move forward, especially with the regulation changes. He added however “It will depend on how right we get it in pre-season and the philosophy of the car we are targeting to have.
“The team has been developing the car since 2015 so I’m confident they’re doing a good job enough. But when there’s a new regulation, sometimes you depend a bit on luck to know if the philosophy of the team has got it right.”
He added the team has had a strong chassis over the past two years, and that they should have been looking Force India and Williams. Adding there target should be the top five or six in the constructors’ championship, but it will not be easy and this remains there target next year.
Marchionne stands by overhaul
Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne says he is standing by his decision to overhaul the teams technical department following the departure of James Allison.
Over the summer Marchionne oversaw the reshuffle and the promotion of Mattia Binotto from the engine department to replace Allison. It was a difficult season for the team, with the team failing to take a win and falling to third in the constructors championship. Binotto set about reorganising the technical departments at Maranello and Marchionne is confident the changes will yield results in 2017.
Marchionne said at Ferrari’s traditional Christmas lunch, “We have restructured and I prefer to look to the future in a different way. I don’t regret the choices made, they were well thought out, so there’s no need to change ideas.”
He added there are still many thing missing, but the team is the team and there are a number of things put in place over a number of years which aren’t going to change now.
“Our working practice is already different to what it was back in August, which is when Mattia Binotto took over the reins.” Binotto says that the structure has improve they reaction to iusses and has confidence Ferrari can deliver a competitive car under the new 2017 regulations.
Ferrari to launch 24th February
Ferrari have announced they will launch there 2017 car on Friday 24th February ahead of pre season testing. The announcement came at the Christmas lunch in Maranello.
Next year the cars will be wider wings, have a larger diffuser to produce more downforce and Pirelli will be bringing 25% wider tyres. Testing begins on the following Monday.