Gasly to replace Ricciardo at Red Bull
Red Bull has announced that Pierre Gasly will replace Daniel Ricciardo who is moving to Renault next season. The Frenchman was seen as an outsider before Ricciardo announced he was leaving and Carlos Sainz was announced at McLaren.
Gasly replaced Daniil Kvyat towards the end of last season and has delivered great results for Red Bull’s sister team Toro Rosso. He will partner Max Verstappen, team principal Christian Horner says the move is just rewarding for the French driver’s impressive performances at Toro Rosso this season.
Horner said, “Since Pierre first stepped into a Formula One seat with Scuderia Toro Rosso less than a year ago he has proved the undoubted talent that Red Bull has nurtured since his early career.”
“His stellar performances this year at the Honda-powered team, in only his first full season in Formula One, have only enhanced his reputation as one of the most exciting young drivers in motorsport and we look forward to Pierre bringing his speed, skill and attitude to the team in 2019.”
Gasly who was on holiday when the decision was made, added “To be awarded a drive at Aston Martin Red Bull Racing from 2019 is a dream come true for me, I’m so excited to be joining this top team.”
“It has been my goal to race for this team since I joined the Red Bull and this incredible opportunity is another step forward in my ambition to win Grands Prix and compete for World Championships.”
Gasly says he was in Greece at the time he was called by Dr Helmut Marko and was in his underwear, telling his mates right away they all dived into the pool.
The Red Bull decision now means that Ferrari is the only big manufacturer to finalise their driver line up for next season.
Speaking about his new teammate Verstappen, the Frenchman said “We used to race against each other in karting in 2010 as a junior, so we’ve already raced together, but not for the same team.”
“We’ve actually had a couple of close battles, sometimes good for me, sometimes not so good, but we really enjoyed that time.”
Norris to make practice debut at Spa
Lando Norris will make his practice debut on Friday at the Belgian Grand Prix for McLaren. The eighteen-year-old is highly rated and has already driven in a number of tests for the British team.
Norris will drive Fernando Alonso’s car during the session and it will be his first official outing at a Grand Prix weekend in F1. In a Tweet, the Bristolian said “Stepping into (Alonso’s) car for FP1 on Friday. It’ll be my first time in a McLaren on a @F1 race weekend and there’s no better place to do it than Spa.”
Norris is believed to be in the running to replace either Alonso or Stoffel Vandoorne next season, McLaren will use the session to compare the Bristolian and the Belgian. However, Friday practices cannot be relied on for arcuate comparisons between teammates.
Also, recently the team has been using Friday’s Furthermore, McLaren have recently devoted Friday practice sessions to evaluate new car parts due to calibration issues with their wind tunnel.
“This weekend will be the first time that our reserve driver Lando will drive the MCL33 during a race weekend, as he steps into Fernando’s car for FP1 on Friday,” said sporting director Gil de Ferran.
“This is not only part of his ongoing development, but also the evaluation and performance evolution of the car. We’ll be taking a strategic view race-by-race at where else this might be beneficial for us over the coming grand prix’s.”
This weekend is Vandoorne’s home race.
Force India bidder raises questions over sale
Russian mining and fertilizer company Uralkali has raised questions about the sale of Force India to Lawrence Stroll’s consortium of investors.
The co-owner Dmitry Mazepin, who son is the team’s development driver Nikita, put in a rival bid for the team. Stroll rescued the team earlier in the month, however, the company put a statement out via the Moscow Stock Exchange.
It confirmed that it had bid unsuccessfully for the outfit previously co-owned by troubled Indian magnate Vijay Mallya. The statement did not mention Mazepin by name.
“Uralkali considers that the process conducted by the administrator may not be in the best interests of Force India creditors and other stakeholders, and the sport in general,” it concluded.
Joint administrators Geoff Rowley and Jason Baker, for FRP Advisory LLP, responded by saying that “all bidders were given equal opportunity to submit the best deal.
“Throughout, we (the Joint Administrators) have closely followed our statutory duties and objectives as administrators and had the advice of experienced legal counsel,” they added in a separate statement.
Uralkali said it submitted a proposal comprising two options on Aug. 3.
“Both options proposed sufficient funding to satisfy claims of all creditors in full and included an undertaking to provide significant working capital and new investment program over a five-year term to ensure success of Force India,” it added.
Uralkali accused FRP Advisory of setting achievable deadlines for an achievable for securing a binding agreement with Force India shareholders and consent from Indian banks with a claim on Mallya’s assets.
The company added it was subsequently informed by email that the administrator had entered into an exclusivity arrangement with another bidder.
Monza worried about financial pressures
A fall in ticket sales for next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix has left the countries governing body the Automobile Club d’Italia, worried that they will be unable to keep the race on the calendar after next year’s race.
Monza’s agreed to a short-term contract after difficult negotiations in 2016. Despite the recent resurgent from Ferrari, there hasn’t been enough interest in the race, with declining ticket sales that has led to renewed concern about the future of the race.
President of the club, Angelo Sticchi Damiani told Gazzetta dello Sport: “A year ago Vettel had gone on holiday as the world [championship] leader, now he is in the role of pursuer. My wish is the exact opposite of what happened a year ago, when from Monza onwards Mercedes took off.”
The decline in sales will put fresh financial pressure on Italian officials and Damiani is worried that the money situation is unsustainable unless the rights fee paid to F1 is reduced.
“We closed last year’s race with a strong loss, and the 2018 budget will not be different either. It is clear that such a situation is not sustainable in the long term. The ACI is ready to do its part, but not under any conditions.”
Damiani says that last year they made a “strong loss”, adding that the financial pressure was unstainable unless the rights fees were reduced.
Sainz can’t expect a quick turn around – Button
Former McLaren driver Jenson Button has warned that Carlos Sainz Jr will need to be patient with the team and says he cannot expect a swift turn around in the team’s fortunes.
The Englishman took the teams last win in 2012 and left the team two years ago at the height of the Honda relationship. This season despite the switch to Renault, McLaren remains the slowest of the Renault powered cars and are only seventh in the constructors.
Fernando Alonso is retiring from the sport at the end of the season, while Sainz has lost his seat at Renault to Daniel Ricciardo. Speaking about Sainz’ move to McLaren, Button told Motorsport.com “It’s good – but is it stepping up, you know? He was racing for the works Renault team, who are performing very well this year. He’s moving to McLaren, whether it’s the right move I don’t know.”
“I think he obviously didn’t have the option to race at Renault this year with Daniel moving there, so I guess it’s the right decision.” Button warned that Sainz has to realise the challenge McLaren faces and need time to return to its former glory.
“I don’t think the pace of the car is going to turn around for next year, it’s going to be difficult, ’cause they’ve dropped a long way back. It is a big team, it is a team that has won multiple world championships, so they will find a way back.”