McLaren candidates emerge
Zak Brown has emerged as the leading candidate to replace McLaren chairman Ron Dennis. Dennis looks to be removed in a coup by the other shareholders who have told him is contract will not be renewed.
Brown is also considered a potential chief commercial officer for F1’s new owners. Liberty Media are currently waiting on regulators in the UK, US and EU plus the sport’s governing body the FIA to sign off the deal. This is expected to be completed early next year.
Brown is experienced in marketing and this will be key because McLaren have not had a title sponsor since parting company with mobile phone company Vodafone at the end of 2013. But deal has been announced but not signed with BP/Castrol to become their fuel and lubricant supplier.
This comes after Exxon Mobil announced it was switched to Red Bull next season. The BBC understood that Ross Brawn former Mercedes boss, Martin Whitmarsh who was ousted in the coup by Dennis in 2014 and former Sainsbury’s boss Justin King were linked to the job.
But all three are now considered unlikely to take on the position. They may be unwilling to put themselves forward or it may be decided they are not the best person for the role. It also could lead to a revolution in the teams management should the spilt the CEO and Chairman role.
Dennis has been telling friends and confidants that he will decide when or if he will step down, not anyone else. But it is far from clear that he is in a position to make that decision.
If his contract is not renewed, he would remain a 25% shareholder but would probably have no active role or power in running the company.
Stupid if I didn’t look – Ericson
Marcus Ericson says it would be “stupid” if he didn’t look at joining Force India next season. Earlier this month Ericsson suggested he was “more likely” to remain at Sauber, but Nico Hulkenberg move to Renault has changed the driver market.
Ericson feels he is not on the radar of Renault, but says he thinks he will be one of the names in contention for the vacant seat at Force India. Ericson told Autosport “It does open up another possibility with Force India. It’s a good seat.”
“I still think it’s most likely I’ll stay with Sauber, but like I’ve said, I want to be in the best team possible, and Force India seem to be really strong at the moment. It’s a great midfield car, and that’s what I need for next year.” Ericson says that the Sauber it would be stupid if he wasn’t to look at other options as he hasn’t signed a contract for next year.
Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn would like to swiftly resolve the driver line-up situation. Telling Autosport “We are having our discussions, we know our options, but it always takes two to agree. There is no immediate pressure to announce today or tomorrow, but yes, we would like to resolve it quite quickly.”
Epstein calls for bigger gap
The chairman of the Circuit of the America’s Bob Epstein, has called for a bigger gap between the races in the United States and Mexico to help boost attendance.
This year the two races are back to back with the provisional calendar for 2017 has a two-week gap between the two races. But Circuit of the Americas chief Epstein believes they should be at different points in the calendar. Epstein says last year hurt ticket sales and would ideally like to see Mexico twinned with Canada earlier in the season.
He told Autosport “Mexico had a real impact last year, we know it did. There is value in spreading Mexico and Texas apart date-wise. I’m talking a gap of three or four months.”
“If you make two trips to North America, you don’t put the two races that are closest together [back to back]. I would put Mexico with Canada as it’s hot here in June and July – not pleasant like now.”
Austin attendance has been reducing since the inaugural race in 2012, with heavy rain last year causing havoc with the event’s running. The circuit’s contract expires in 2022 and has added a no-flood guarantee and a maximum wait-time guarantee for shuttle services in a bid to appeal to fans.
This year organisers followed Abu Dhabi and Singapore by the introduction of the F1 Rock’s series with Taylor Swift headlining the race concert.
Palmer brother takes part in test
The brother of Jolyon Palmer has taken part in a test with McLaren after winning the BRDC award last December. Will Palmer drove the 2011 MP4-26 which Jenson Button drove to victory in Canada.
Palmer completed fifteen laps of Silverstone while the 2016 finalists Ricky Collard, Sennan Fielding, Lando Norris and Toby Sowery who are competing for this year’s prize watching on. Palmer told Autosport “The nerves were pretty high. It was absolutely incredible, like nothing I’ve ever done before.”
“The power, the brakes, the downforce – and just how together the car seemed. It’s unbelievable how much of a step up it was. There was a bit of a worry over the weather and if the track would be fully dry but luckily it was and I thought I’d better make the most of it.”
Palmer says it’s a massive memory for the rest of his life. McLaren simulator test engineer Alice Rowlands said Palmer should be “very happy” with his maiden run in a grand prix car.
“It’s not easy. He doesn’t know anyone and it’s a step up from anything he’s done before, working with this many engineers. Looking at the data it was clearly someone driving a Formula 1 car properly – not someone that was out for a little afternoon drive around.” Said Rowlands
His father Jonathan won the award in 1981. This season Will finished seventh in Euro Formula Renault following victory in the final race in Estoril.
Hamilton refuses to give up
Lewis Hamilton has insisted that he has full believed that he can still take his fourth world title this season. The three time champion has had a difficult few races but took victory in Austin on Sunday.
Speaking to Motorsport.com “As soon as I left the last race, I left whatever was behind, behind. I don’t dwell on it anymore. I’m able to move forwards.
“In all honesty, it wasn’t straight after the race, it might have been a day or so after the race that it feels a little bit painful, but, hey, you move forward.” He says tht you work hard and seeing the team celebrating their third back to back title was a huge boost and was really uplifting to see over 1,000 people all celebrating.
Hamilton said he never lost faith despite not winning since Hockenheim in July until Austin last weekend. “I’ve still continued to keep a positive frame of mind. I’ve got to; there are still points available, anything is possible.”
When asked if his experience of 2007 when Kimi Raikkonen stole the title from him after closing a significant gap over the last two races gave inspiration he said “I don’t try and compare it to other times.”
Wrong to write off Hamilton – Verstappen
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen says that it’s wrong to write off Lewis Hamilton’s chances of taking this year’s title.
Hamilton appears to be on the back foot with the reliability problems which has allowed team-mate Nico Rosberg to sail away nearly this season. But the Dutch teenager believes that Hamilton has a chance.
Verstappen told Sport Bild “Even though the facts point to Nico, I just say: Lewis is extremely fast and a great fighter who never gives up. So I think it will still be very exciting until the last race.”
When asked who he thinks the two best drivers in F1 are at the moment, Verstappen said Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. “They are simply the best at the moment.”
Verstappen said he identifies move with Hamilton because he is more his type. But he thinks going wheel to wheel with Hamilton he would emerge with the biggest trophy.