Wednesday 30 September 2015

The FIA announces the WMSC changes for the 2016/17 Formula One seasons

Rule changes for the 2016/17 Formula One seasons.
  • Cars must now comply with all cockpit and safety equipment requirements during testing; such as the position of the driver’s head, all headrest padding, cockpit padding and ease of driver egress.
  • Sporting Regulations regarding track limits have been clarified and specify that drivers “must make every reasonable effort to use the track at all times and may not deliberately leave the track without a justifiable reason”. Penalties will still be allocated based on whether a driver is judged to have gained an advantage.
  • The WMSC approved the proposal of the F1 Commission regarding regulations for power unit and gearbox changes. Such penalties prior to qualifying will be applied based on the time of use. For changes made after qualifying, preference will be given to the driver whose team first informed the technical delegate that a change will occur.
  • Any driver who causes a start to be aborted, even if he is then able to start the extra formation lap, will be required to start the race from the pit lane. The same process will be applied to a re-start from a race suspension where drivers have been brought to the pit lane.
  • The WMSC confirmed a number of clarifications were made to aerodynamic testing restrictions for wind tunnel use and CFD, specifically focusing on reporting and inspection processes for these development tools.
  • For 2016, all cars must have a separate exhaust wastegate tailpipe through which all and only wastegate exhaust gases must pass. This measure has been undertaken to increase the noise of the cars and will not have any significant effect on power or emissions.
  • For 2017, on board cameras on stalks on the nose of cars will be prohibited.

The FIA UPDATED Provisional 2016 Formula 1 Calendar

The FIA has released a new, WMSC revised PROVISIONAL calendar for the 2016 Formula One season.

2016 Calendar in Full:

20 March Melbourne

3 April Bahrain

17 April Shanghai

1 May Sochi

15 May Barcelona

29 May Monte Carlo

12 June Montreal

19 June Baku

3 July Spielberg

10 July Silverstone

24 July Budapest

31 July Hockenheim

28 August Spa-Francorchamps

4 September Monza

18 September Singapore

2 October Sepang

9 October Suzuka

23 October Austin

6 November Mexico City

13 November Sao Paolo

27 November Abu Dhabi

Australian GP organisers announce that the season opener will take place in March.

The Australian Grand Prix organizers have confirmed that the Australian GP will now take place from 17-20 March 2016. The Initial date for the start of the season in Australian was 3 April 2016 but Bernie Ecclestone was looking to move the date to late March.

In a statement the Grand Prix organizers said: “The date for the 2016 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix has changed to 17-20 March."

The Grand Prix organizers also said that they did not see any issue with bringing the date forward. The change of the date is part of a number of changes on a provisional calendar to be ratified by the World Motor Sport Council today. 

Tuesday 29 September 2015

Romain Grosjean joins Haas F1 Team.


Romain Grosjean has been announced as the first Haas F1 Team driver to debut in the 2016 FIA Formula 1 World Championship. The 29-year-old Grosjean has competed in 78 Formula One races and scored 10 podium finishes, with the most recent being a third-place result in August at the Belgian Grand Prix. He is currently in his fifth Formula One season with Lotus F1 Team.

Grosjean is highly regarded as a team leader and potential world champion. The Frenchman will get his first drive with Haas F1 Team during the preseason test March 1-4 at Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona. A second test at Barcelona takes place March 15-18 before the season-opening Australian Grand Prix April 3 in Melbourne.

“We wanted an experienced driver capable of developing our car and our race team into one that can score points and better itself each race and each season. We found him in Romain Grosjean,” said Gene Haas, founder and chairman, Haas F1 Team. “I’ve been involved in motorsports for a long time and learned early on the most crucial component is the driver. Romain has strong credentials and he will be an important asset to Haas F1 Team.”

“What Gene Haas and everyone at Haas F1 Team is building is impressive, and I’m very proud to be a part of it,” Grosjean said. “Formula One is incredibly competitive and the only way to succeed is by finding new ways of doing things. This is a new opportunity with a new team that is taking a very different approach to Formula One. I believe in their approach and they believe in me. While I am committed to giving my absolute best to my current team in these last five races, I am very excited for what the future holds at Haas F1 Team.”

“In addition to being an experienced Formula One driver, Romain is very technically minded,” said Guenther Steiner, team principal, Haas F1 Team. “He gives strong, specific feedback as to how the car performs. As we develop our car in testing and throughout the season, his insight will be crucial.”

Grosjean has won races and championships in every division he has competed as he advanced to Formula One. He transitioned quickly from karting to cars in 2003, winning all 10 races in the Swiss Formula Renault 1.6 championship, handily earning the series title. Another 10-win season in the French Formula Renault 2.0 championship in 2005 secured a second title.

Grosjean moved up to Formula Three in 2006 and competed in the full Euro Series schedule. He also drove in two British Formula Three races that year, taking the pole, the win and setting the fastest lap in both races. A second season in the Formula Three Euro Series in 2007 paid big dividends as Grosjean took four poles and six wins en route to the championship. He graduated to GP2 in 2008 and maintained his title-winning form by earning four wins in 10 races to take the inaugural GP2 Asia Series crown.

By 2008, Grosjean was in Formula One as a test driver for Renault. In August 2009, Renault named Grosjean to its race seat alongside two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

The experience garnered during that seven-race stretch of Formula One races was invaluable, and Grosjean augmented that experience in 2010 by tackling a variety of series. He won the Auto GP championship with four wins, seven podiums and three poles. He also earned two FIA GT1 World Championship wins and two GP2 podiums. Displaying his versatility, he competed in two 24-hour endurance races at Le Mans and Spa-Francorchamps, respectively.

In 2011, Grosjean returned to GP2, first winning the Asia Series championship in its final year of existence, and then the GP2 title with a season-best five victories. He also returned to Renault as its Formula One test driver.

With the Renault team under new management and rebranded as Lotus F1 Team for 2012, Grosjean was named to the race seat alongside 2007 Formula One champion Kimi Raikkonen. Grosjean’s first podium came in the fourth race of the season at Bahrain. Three races later in Montreal, he finished second. A third podium was earned in the 11th race of the year in Hungary.

The 2013 season was an impressive one for Grosjean as he scored six podiums, highlighted by a second-place finish at the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.

The 2014 season saw the introduction of a new engine formula, with turbochargers returning to the sport for the first time since 1988. The development curve was steep for many teams. Grosjean recorded two eighth-place finishes in Spain and Monaco, but regularly outpaced his teammate throughout the year.

Fourteen races into 2015, Grosjean has shown the form he displayed in 2013, as evidenced by his podium at this year’s Belgian Grand Prix.     

In 2016, Grosjean brings his experience and ambition to Haas F1 Team – the first American-led Formula One team in 30 years.

Monday 28 September 2015

'Hamilton wins to match Senna's win record' - By Chris Rathbone

Weekly Formula 1 cartoons by Chris Rathbone... Get your hands on prints, mugs and t-shirts of your favourite drivers from the world of Motorsport.
Twitter - @R4THBONE 
Website -

'Echoes of a Legend' - By Jake Davis

This fantastic weekly F1 Toon was designed and created by Jake Davis Creative. Prints are available in sizes A4, A3 and A2. Commissions are also available. If you would like to order a PRINT of this fantastic F1 Toon feel free to contact him via:
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Renault announces 'letter of intent' to take controlling stake in Lotus

Renault Group and Gravity Motorsports S.a.r.l., an affiliate of Genii Capital SA, are pleased to announce the signature of a Letter of Intent regarding the potential acquisition by Renault of a controlling stake in Lotus F1 Team Ltd.

The signature of this Letter of Intent marks Renault’s first step towards the project of a Renault Formula 1 team from the 2016 racing season thereby extending 38 years of commitment of the brand to world’s premier motorsport championship series.

Renault Group and Gravity will work together in the coming weeks to eventually turn this initial undertaking into a definitive transaction provided all terms and conditions are met between them and other interested parties.

Sunday 27 September 2015

FIA Post-Race Press Conference

1 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
2 – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes)
3 – Sebastian VETTEL (Ferrari)


(Conducted by Kai Ebel)

Lewis, congratulations, you equalled Senna’s record; tell us about your magic start. ?

Lewis HAMILTON: Yeah, well I firstly have to say a big thank you to all these fans that have come and stood in the rain… I don’t know if anyone can hear us… Oh you hear us: Konnichi-wa! Really I’m so happy right now. The team has done a fantastic job this weekend. It’s great to be back up here with a one-two. I had a great start. Thanks again to the team for working so hard to make sure we get good starts this race. For me to come here to a race where I used to love watching Ayrton drive and to match his wins… yeah, I can’t really describe it, it doesn’t really feel real at the moment.

So how important was it for you to strike back after Singapore?

It definitely was important for us to strike back. The Ferraris were incredibly quick in the last race and I guess we didn't bring our A-game, so we really had to take a step back in these last few days and make sure we brought it here and, as I said, couldn’t have done it without this team. Just remarkable what they’ve done. The car was beautiful to drive today.

Thanks Lewis. Coming over to you Nico. Fantastic fight-back to the podium but tell me what happened when the light went out?

Nico ROSBERG: Yeah, Lewis just got a better start, fair play, and then it was a good battle into Turn One but in Turn Two he had the inside and just made it stick, so that was the end of it there. Then it was great to fight back to second place, because fourth place would definitely not have been acceptable. Second was the best possible thing after that, so I was happy with the fight-back and great also
for us as a team. To be back up here after Singapore is really awesome.

Seems that Lewis is pulling a little bit away in the championship. Can you still catch him?

NR: Yeah, for sure, it’s going the wrong way – definitely.  I had to win today, that was important but it didn’t work out. Just need to try to win next time out.

Sebastian, being here on the podium again after a marvelous victory, what do you think about it in front of these fantastic Japanese Ferrari fans?

Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah, thank you very much. It’s great to be back on the podium here, it’s, I think, my favourite race; I love the track, I love the fans, I love the trophies. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the bigger one today; it was close with Nico. I think we had a chance but it’s always easy with hindsight. Overall, I think it was a fantastic race. The start was very tricky and it was interesting to see those two fighting in the first corner – obviously I could benefit – but, yeah, all in all, very happy with the race today.

Tell me what direction is Ferrari going in right now – are there more victories to come this season?

SV: I think we are going in the right direction. Obviously we knew from the beginning of the season that these boys would be difficult to beat. They’re doing a great job, first of all, both of them. They have a great car, a great engine and all in all it makes them difficult to beat. But I think we are much better than people expected and it’s nice, as I said, to be back on the podium here. On top of that it’s been 20 years now that I have been with my helmet supplier Arai. I know that I shouldn’t probably mention this but it’s something very special. I remember when I was a small child walking in, so thanks also to all the people in Japan at Arai and yeah, I love this podium.

Thanks for the commercial block, Seb. Coming back one more time to Lewis. Lewis, we are in the land of karaoke and you are a brilliant singer, not only a brilliant driver, so what will be the song you are going to perform tonight then?

LH: ‘Victory Dance’? I don’t know! I did a song last night called ‘Victory’ so that’s the one I’ll be playing.


Lewis, well done again, congratulations. It seemed to be a trouble-free race once you had taken the lead at the first corner, but we heard one or two mentions of heat in your seat, which we’ve heard before, and also vibrations as well, so how bad was that?

LH: It wasn’t too bad, I've definitely had worse. It was such an amazing race. This has been a circuit that I can honestly say that I’ve struggled [at] through all the years that I’ve come here but one that I’ve loved driving, and I think that goes for all the drivers. But you really want to come here and dominate at a track like this. I was able to get the balance in the right place, my engineers did an amazing job – Bonno, Ricky and just the whole crew did a great job to get the car, with the short amount of time we had, in a beautiful window. It was better today than it was even in qualifying. I was really able to work on my lines and improve and at the front there it was just a beautiful… it’s like sailing. When you go through the corners here, it’s flowing. Honestly, I wish I could share the feeling with you. Also knowing that this would be the race that I would equal Aytron, who won here and who had quite an interesting here. So, yeah, quite an emotional day. But to be honest I’m not a teary guy, so I’m just full of joy and happiness and light and I’m really grateful for, as I posted the other day, all the people who have helped me get to where I am today and this team, because without them I would not be here.

Q: Nico, can you be as ecstatic about your car as Lewis was about his? And what about toughing it around the outside at that first corner?

NR: Yeah, for sure the car is really back to its best now and that’s reassuring after Singapore, so that’s great. Especially in qualifying, it’s just a pleasure to drive. Like on rails. Then in the the race, yeah, start of course. Pity to lose out at the start and then big battle around Turn One and Two and got very close on the exit of Turn Two so I had to back out of it there and that lost me the race eventually.

Q: Sebastian, it seemed to be damage limitation. You couldn’t really prevent the undercut and from then on, was there anything you could do about the Mercedes?

SV: Well I think we thought we were safe because tyres were in reasonable shape but I think Nico was a surprise, the pace he had in his out-lap. So, I was very happy with the in-lap, which goes at the same time, but it was a question of a couple of tenths. Into Turn One he just had the upper hand and then it was clear it would be difficult because he was catching before. So, also the fact that Lewis disappeared: they had a bit more speed today so, yeah. Had we pitted one lap sooner I think it could have been more interesting and challenging for Nico to get past. It’s not so easy to follow the cars here through the high-speed sections, so I think we had a good chance but, yeah, probably underestimated the out-lap that he had, so, with hindsight, it’s always easy so, nevertheless, it’s a great day. Good recovery. Especially as Friday wasn’t that good for us. I know it was wet but still, the feeling we go was not that great. Saturday morning as well. So, yeah, good quali and obviously that was the base for another podium today.


Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) Question to Lewis and Nico. Can you describe for us the way you start? Is it a different way or is it the same way for both of you?

LH: Individually are they different? It’s the same sequence for both of us. Yeah, it’s been the same pretty much since we got to Formula One. It’s not really changed, the start, has it? I mean, you have to go through a different sequence to get to the same thing but it’s just a different equation basically.

NR: It’s the same but you do have your own individual input and you can do your individual thing. You can fine tune it to your liking.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Sorry for Nico but we need to come back to that moment where you were a little bit out of the track. Do you think it was a little bit too harsh, Lewis? And for Sebastian, a question, now you are 59 points behind Lewis is it realistic to think that’s it’s fight for the championship or is it done?
NR: I haven’t even seen it myself on TV. For sure it was close, I had to avoid a collision. It’s difficult for me to comment now.


SV: It’s not done ‘til it’s done. So, the chance is there – and what kind of racing driver would I be if I stopped believing? So, of course I know it’s difficult because the opponent is very strong. They are currently in stronger form than us, so it’s not easy to turn things around when you are behind – but you have to keep believing otherwise I guess it’s pointless rocking up and trying to fight. I think there’s always a chance on Sunday. Being realistic, as I said, I think it will be very, very difficult but who knows what’s going to happen. We have to do our thing and that’s the maximum we can do. Everything else is not in our hands, it’s probably in there hands.

Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action and Speed Sport magazines) Lewis, could you give us your view of that very close moment there coming out of turn two with Nico?

LH: I didn’t really feel it was particularly that close but the inside line is the inside line, so I had my corner and so we were very very close but I was basically understeering, I was running out of grip. I imagine Nico was running out of road, but that’s what happens when you’re on the outside.

Q: (Luigi Perna – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Seb, are you confident in the development of the car for the next races and the end of the season, considering that maybe you are going to use a fifth engine with more upgrades? You still have four tokens to spend.

SV: Well, there are still some races to go. We are pushing as hard as we can. Obviously last weekend and this weekend were very different but I think it’s more down to them struggling but we had very strong form in Singapore and we used our chance. It’s very simple; if the chance is there, we have to use it. We know though that they are very very strong so we will do everything we can in the remaining races of this year, trying to catch them, trying to improve ourselves first of all. I think there are always lessons to learn; this weekend was interesting. Again, thinking about tyres: Friday, Saturday, I think there are some lessons and some things that we can improve. On top of that, as I said, we try to improve the car naturally. I think the times of big updates, they are over. We try every race to bring everything we have and yeah, everything else we will see when we get there.

Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) A question again to Lewis and Nico about the start: do you prepare your start differently, Nico and Lewis, on the formation lap? Do you prepare it differently and can you explain why it was so good for you, Lewis, and so bad for you, Nico?

LH: Honestly, there’s not really much difference. You have to do your sequence when you leave the grid, then you do a normal start. It’s the same movement with the paddles. The input differences are the reaction time from the paddle and then how smooth you are with the second paddle in terms of how you... and also how smooth you are with the throttle which makes the difference generally. And also obviously the clutch has to perform, sometimes it overperforms but with the new rules we generally have the same set-up with that. So yeah, I guess it’s just the luck of the draw: sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong, sometimes you’ve got the clutch too hot, sometimes you’ve got it too cold, sometimes you have your tyres too cold, sometimes you have them too hot. So it’s a combination of things, but generally the sequence is very very similar between – I’m pretty sure – the whole grid.

NR: It’s always the same thing, the same we practise before the formation lap, going through the pit lane and then on the exit of the pit lane, formation lap practice, so you get a feel for it. That’s it.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) For all of you: some of your colleagues yesterday were worried about the tyre pressures. They said there was too much pressure and they were worried they might have some problems during the race. Have you been affected in the race by that?

NR: No, not at all. Everything was perfect. No problems at all.

SV: Were you low again? I’m joking. You can laugh as well. It was a joke, come on.

NR: I’m smiling!

LH: I don’t know really. All I know is that the tyres were... we don’t say it very often but the tyres were pretty amazing, particularly in the last stint. They were the best they’ve felt for a long time. They really felt really good but it must have been how it felt for him (Vettel) in the last race. Through qualifying, they were good but generally in the race it was getting better and better as the car gets lighter and stuff but I don’t think they were a problem this weekend.

SV: No comment really.

Saturday 26 September 2015

FIA Post-Qualifying Press Conference


1 – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes)

2 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)

3 – Valtteri BOTTAS (Willams)


Congratulations Nico, once again on pole here. One must wonder what might have happened if you had all had a second run, but earlier in the week you suggested that you might have found a little something in your rivalry with Lewis Hamilton, how much of an influence did that have?

Nico ROSBERG: Yeah, first of all very happy, great day today and a good comeback also for the team. It’s fantastic after such a difficult weekend in Singapore to be back to back to our usual strength today, a strong performance today from the team – great car, so very thankful for that. Really turned things around; optimized everything for this track. And for me, pretty much nailed my laps today, so really pleased with the way it went and a great position to be in for tomorrow.

Lewis, there did seem to be a couple of little mistakes on the one lap you had. What might have happened on the second lap?

Lewis HAMILTON: Well, it doesn’t really matter, but the second lap was looking good. On the first lap I lost a bit of time in, I think it was Turn 11, and I think it was the last corner. No, Nico is driving well this weekend. I definitely felt pretty good on that last lap but I’m glad that… I don’t know if it’s Ricciardo or Kvyat, but I’m glad they’re safe.

Yes, Daniil Kvyat is OK. He got out of the car OK.

LH: Good.

And Valtteri, how much of a surprise [is it] to win the Williams versus Ferrari versus Red Bull battle?

Valtteri BOTTAS: Well, it’s very good for us obviously. It’s a very different track to Singapore and we always knew it’s going to be better for our car. I think we came in for this weekend, for the dry, with a good set-up already, so we didn’t really have that much work to do from practice to qualifying and today was one the most difficult Saturdays we’ve had, because there was rain on Friday and here qualifying is very important, so good surprise.

Thank you. Nico, all the teams are in the same boat, they’ve had just one hour of dry running to prepare for tomorrow’s race, rather than the usual four hours. So, how prepared, how good is the car for race set-up?

NR: Well, I’m confident that the car is going to be good but, as for everybody, we didn’t have the perfect preparation, so there might be a few surprises tomorrow. I’m confident I found a good balance. I did do some high-fuel running this morning and the balance was good, so it should be fine.


Q: Nico, you were on pole position here last year, eventually finished second, how can you change that?

NR: Well, for one, hopefully it’s going to be a dry race tomorrow, that would help, for sure. And that’s going to be the big one. Beyond that, I’m really comfortable with the way the car was handling this morning in the dry, good long run, quick, so it should be all good.

Q: Lewis, is it a great relief that Mercedes are back on top again after last weekend?

LH: Well, the guys are working incredibly hard to try and understand last weekend. It’s definitely great to be back up here and it’s very strange, obviously, to see some of the pace of different people behind but definitely the car feels like normal this weekend, which is great to see.

Q: For both of you, one’s always talking about a perfect car, you’re looking for the perfect car, everything’s got to be absolutely right, so how well has it gone so far this weekend?

NR: At times today I had the perfect car, for sure, and that’s why it was a great pleasure to drive it. Suzuka is the ultimate track and to have a good car here is just awesome.

LH: I think the great thing about this sport is that there’s never a perfect car. It’s always evolving, it’s always improving, there are always areas you can improve on, collectively with the drivers. My engineers did a fantastic job working hard to get the set-up in a nice place. It was exciting, qualifying was exciting. I was enjoying the battle with Nico. It was a shame we didn’t get to finish the last lap.

Q: And Valtteri, excellent grid position here again. As I mentioned, perhaps a bit of a surprise considering Red Bull and Ferrari are very good around here and Williams haven’t necessarily been thought of as being good around this sort of circuit.

VB: Well, we always knew it was going to be better than the last race in Singapore and we had some new bits for the race in Singapore which produced some more downforce and that’s helping here in the high speed corners where you need stability from the car and today I felt really comfortable with it. And from practice onwards, everything was run very smoothly. I think as a group we did a very good job today but it’s tomorrow when we need to do the perfect job.


Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) Nico, last year you struggled in the rain. If it rains tomorrow, do you have the answers to your problems last year against Lewis?

NR: I didn’t struggle in the rain, I just struggled on the inter tyre and on the inter tyre yesterday I was feeling great so I’m confident about that. So even if it rains, that’s fine.

Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action and Speed Sport magazines) Nico, how much did the track evolve, it was obviously so green at the beginning, from that first lap to the last lap?

NR: Yeah, well, not much at all because on the prime I did a 1m 33 whatever, I don’t know, very close to the option time so I don’t think it was evolving much, and also the soft tyre somehow underperformed a little bit. We were expecting a bit more from that. It didn’t feel that great out there as well.

Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto Motor und Sport) Is that maybe the reason why you couldn’t beat last year’s pole position time? I think it was almost equal.

NR: Yeah, I’m sure the track was surely not as good, because there’s just not as much rubber down there. And beyond that, I’m not sure what the reasons are. 

Friday 25 September 2015

FIA Team Members' Press Conference

TEAM REPRESENTATIVES – Jonathan NEALE (McLaren), Yasuhisa ARAI (Honda), Luigi FRABONI (Ferrari), Paddy LOWE (Mercedes), Christian HORNER (Red Bull Racing)


Arai-san, Suzuka is Honda’s home grand prix. How do you feel to be back home here and are you getting pressure from within the company and from fans?

Yasuhisa ARAI: So, it is great to be back home, our home. Suzuka is such a special place for us and for Honda’s 200,000 employees and associates and many fans. They supported us and they want success [from] our team. So it is a little bit big pressure I have got. But there is a very good feeling, not only for Honda but McLaren-Honda. 

You’ve had two very difficult weekends, in Spa and Monza, with updated power units, and even in Singapore you had issues when you were expecting points. Realistically, what do you expect from the race here in Suzuka?

YA: You know I think Suzuka is the most difficult circuit in the world – for the driver and also the machine, power unit, so it is not so easy to get a good place but we will do our best as a team.

OK, thanks you very much. Let’s move on to Jonathan Neale. Jonathan it’s been a difficult year for McLaren, with most of the focus on Honda and the power unit but how happy are you with your side of the team’s performance?

Jonathan NEALE: I think we’ve difficult made steps to improved the McLaren racing organisation over the last 18 months. We’re not where we want to be but we can see progress. We see progress on the chassis; we see progress in aerodynamics. It was frustrating that we didn’t score the points that we should have done in Singapore; at this game you don’t expect a double DNF, so that was massively frustrating, But we're definitely moving forward; we have a lot of work to do as a team and a very busy winter [ahead].

OK, let’s move to what happened yesterday, when Jenson Button was in this press conference. He said he was exploring “plenty of opportunities”; those were his words I think. Is one of those with you and if so how are the talks going?

JN: With me personally?

It’s up to you – if you are starting a team that’s fine!

JN: I get the sense from the media there was a big anti-climax yesterday and there was a lot of discussion about where Jenson was at. Jenson is a fantastic guy, a world champion and a big part of the family at Honda and McLaren – he’s been with us for six seasons – and we’re contracted with him, we want him to stay, we like him very much. But if your driver doesn’t really want to be in the seat we have to respect that. I really hope that we have done enough between us to continue those discussions with him and have the confidence to have him with us, and that’s what we’d like.

Thank you for that. Let’s come down to the front row and move on to Luigi Fraboni from Ferrari. Ferrari had a really good result in Singapore but in very different conditions to here in Suzuka. What do you expect from the race this weekend?

Luigi FRABONI: Yea, of course, here is completely different. Let me say that we were very pleased with the great weekend in Singapore. We are looking forward to what is going to happen here. Today, of course, it was wet so it is difficult to say. We know that things are a little bit different but on the other side we are waiting to see what is going because for sure on our side we have improved and we are confident we can do a good job here.

How happy are you with the engine performance and do you think there are other tracks this season at which Ferrari can challenge?

LG: Well, of course, on engine performance, because I did all the last year’s season and I know what it mean. This year we did a big improvement and I think I have the opportunity to say thanks to all the guys at home because it was really a fantastic job. I had today in Maranello… after Singapore I was pleased to see the face of all the guys that are working in the department because it is a good motivation for us. During the season we have some improvement and we are happy about what we are doing and I think we can do even more and we are also completely focused on the project for next year. About the other tracks, I think that we think that in every track that we will play our cards and do our best, because I think that the pack is competitive.

Q: Paddy, have you worked out what happened last time out in Singapore – and maybe more importantly, are you confident it won’t happen again?

Paddy LOWE: I keep getting asked that actually. It’s not a simple answer at the end of the day. One of the things we’re very clear on is that, even if we got everything right in Singapore, that doesn’t necessarily mean we would have been at the front. We’ve got some strong competitors, the two gentleman on my sides here [Horner, Fraboni] came to Singapore with very strong packages. So, there are things we didn’t optimise for that circuit. It’s a very unusual circuit and, in fact, it was our weakest one last year as well in qualifying. So we’ve definitely learnt some lessons from that. We still have a lot more to learn but our focus now is on this race, which is a very different track so some different things to apply and get right – and we don’t take for granted, again, that we will be strong here but we’ll do our best.

Q: As the season progresses you switch more of your resource towards the 2016 season. How far advanced are you in that process given that you’re leading both the Constructors’ and the Drivers’ Championship by some points.

PL: It’s fairly normal. All the teams have to migrate their resource through the year, more and more to the next year. Slightly different this year because we have an extra month – apparently – next March with the current provisional calendar but I think probably we’re not unusual. Everybody will have moved pretty much to next year by now, so we’re almost all there but still a few more things to do. 

Q: Christian, where are you with Ferrari and with Renault?

Christian HORNER: In Japan actually! Where are we with Ferrari and with Renault? Well, our situation with Renault, there’s obviously a lot of column-inches that’s filled. All I can really tell you is that there’s some positive discussions going on behind the scenes with Renault. I think both Red Bull’s position and Renault’s position is fairly clear in what we want to achieve and hopefully that should be concluded within the coming days. As far as anything else, it’s purely speculative but of course we’re having various different conversations.

Q: How real is the threat to quit?

CH: Well, Dietrich Mateschitz, he doesn’t talk very often but when he does you have to sit up and take notice – and I think he’s somewhat disillusioned with Formula One at the moment. He’s been very consistent in that statement. It’s my job to try and find a solution. We have a big commitment to Formula One, a big workforce, a very talented team and I’m doing my best to try and ensure that we find a competitive engine to power the team next year – but of course if that’s not the case there is a risk because Red Bull’s position is different to teams such as McLaren or Williams or Ferrari. Formula One has to provide a return. A marketing return globally. And, in order to do that, you need to be able to not be restricted in terms of the tools at your disposal.


Q: (Kate Walker – I’ve got a question for Christian, Paddy and Jonathan please. Over the last couple of weeks we’ve had a lot of speculation about the future of wind tunnels in Formula One. I was wondering: can any of you three see a future without wind tunnels? And, if you can, what safety concerns do you have about that hypothetical future?

JN: I think the answer is: I think it’s possible. The progressive march forward of supercomputing and the software and CFD and the ability to run sensors on the car use the car more as a full scale wind tunnel is definitely a direction that’s happening. I wouldn’t like to predict a pace or timescale on that. I know there have been discussions recently about the proposal to eliminate wind tunnels from the process. We are fairly neutral about that. I personally don’t have concerns from a safety point of view. I think there are plenty of other ways of validating that what you have works.

PL: I think there will come a day when we will stop using wind tunnels all on our own – because new technology becomes superior. I think the timing of that is a long way off. Many, many years. At the moment CFD is a great compliment to the wind tunnel process – but only when it has the ability to be calibrated against the tunnel on a regular basis. I think I’d have to disagree with Jonanathan there to some extent, that there is an overriding safety demand. We’ve seen other formulae in which cars become unstable at high speed. We must make sure the cars are fully validated from that point of view and the wind tunnel, at the moment, is the only reliable way of doing that.


CH: I guess what you’ve got to remember is that they’re both simulation tools ultimately and a wind tunnel to feed and to run is extremely expensive compared to, in comparison, CFD. I think the strategic discussion to have is at some point CFD will become strong enough and powerful enough to replace the wind tunnel. At what point is that? I think the Strategy Group are having responsible discussions about what the time frame, if that scenario happens, is. Because we all have big investments. Every team in the pitlane has multi-million pound investments in this technology and to unravel yourself from that isn’t an overnight scenario. So, I think we all need to get on the same page about it, take away competitive advantage or differences. And if we do that by looking far enough down the road, then a road map hopefully can be achieved.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Jonathan, by my calculations in 2013 McLaren Racing lost about £12m. You haven’t yet published 2014’s results but I would estimate it to be probably double that because you lost your title sponsor, plus your results went south. This year’s even worse. If we add all these together, we are probably looking at a figure of fifty or sixty million pounds over three years. How much longer can a team actually sustain this sort of loss?

JN: Well you’re right. I don’t want to make light of that financial situation, Dieter, but the reality is McLaren Racing is part of the McLaren Technologies Group and to some extent that’s a source of strength for us, it’s not something to be taken lightly or be complacent about. Of course, if we finish way down in the Constructors championship, that has an impact on prize money for next year and of course that will be part of our focus, as I say, but we are fortunate in having a technology group on which we can at least shelter for some of these difficult times. But it’s not something that we can sustain indefinitely.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Luigi Fraboni, I would like to ask you about the fifth engine that you are supposed to be using in Austin. How will be the characteristics of the engine, I suppose it will be the engine that you will use next year?

LF: Well, at the moment we are happy with the power unit that we have. We are continuing to develop the engine on the dyno. We have four tokens to play so if there is the opportunity, and we saw that this was to do then can introduce a fifth power unit but at the moment there is nothing defined especially for Austin.

Q: (Koji Taguchi – Grand Prix Tokusyu) Arai-san, if next year any other power unit company doesn’t have enough capacity to deliver a power unit, does Honda have any chance to give their power unit to other teams?

YA: I have had lots of the same question. We don’t have any offers right now. I think that for Honda and for the other power unit suppliers it is a very difficult time to prepare for next year, to supply other partners. And also, Honda has a strong relationship as a works team, McLaren-Honda. We don’t have any plans.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Christian, you spoke earlier on about your big commitment to Formula One and when I say your commitment, I mean your team’s commitment to Formula One. But there is obviously talk about possibly withdrawing from Formula One. Over the last two years or so, you’ve actually justified Red Bull’s position on the strategy group and as a CCB team etc on the basis that it had given a commitment through to 2020. So how does this square with the threats to withdraw? Are there financial penalties which you are prepared to carry or will Red Bull just walk?

CH: Well, as Bernie Ecclestone would say, circumstances change and circumstances now are very different, obviously, to when we entered into that agreement. Our intention is to find a solution and there’s an awful lot of work going on in the background to try and find a solution. Some of that is out of our hands but rest assured that every effort is going in to ensure that Red Bull will be here until 2020 and hopefully beyond, but there’s some big questions that obviously need answering.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Another question for Luigi about the technical possibility to support two more teams, Red Bull and Toro Rosso, for next year?

LF: Well, honestly I’m not involved in all this stuff so the only thing that... this kind of decision is taken by our president and by our team management, so at the moment I cannot tell you anything of this. For sure they have all the information that they need in order to have the right collaboration for next year.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Is it technically possible?

LF: I think it could be, yes.

Q: (Kazuki Kasahara – Car Watch) I would like to ask Jonathan and Arai-san: in the 1990s and 1980s, McLaren-Honda had a special feature, a Suzuka version. Do you have any special features for this Suzuka?

JN: Special feature, that’s a tough question. The short answer is no, other than it’s a great opportunity for us to spend some time here at a fantastic race circuit but also behind the scenes together, getting our engineers and people together, looking at what we have to do to put ourselves in a competitive position. We have the guys from Exxon Mobil here as well so for the Esso and the Mobil 1 brands there’s a good chance for us to get together with the guys at Honda and really give that a push. Everybody’s working very hard, but we don’t have any unique feature on the car that’s special for here yet. We will wait until we’re winning before that starts. 

YA: As I answered before that this is a very special circuit for Honda but unfortunately the current regulations cannot apply such kind of special feature. But my heart and Jonathan’s heart has a passion, very very special for Suzuka.

Thursday 24 September 2015

FIA Drivers Press Conference

DRIVERS – Nico HULKENBERG (Force India), Max VERSTAPPEN (Toro Rosso), Will STEVENS (Manor), Valtteri BOTTAS (Williams), Sebastian VETTEL (Ferrari), Jenson BUTTON (McLaren)


Sebastian, congratulations for last time out, only a few days since your win in Singapore. Is your performance there something you can translate to this track?

Sebastian VETTEL: Well, it’s a completely different track here but we’d hope. But I think you have to remain realistic. In a way it was a big surprise to see Mercedes struggling, which I don’t expect to be the case here. Again, it would be a big surprise. But if the chance is there we have to go for it. As I said, the nature of the track is completely different here. We’ll have to wait. The weather could bring a lot of surprises as well. It’s going to be a tough weekend.

We know that you love Suzuka - you’ve won four times out of six I believe and you also won a championship here in 2011 here. So, what can you expect this weekend?

SV: Well, based on that quite a lot! Yeah, I love the track; it’s a driver’s circuit. I think we all love the track. It’s one of the old school circuits on the calendar. It’s a lot of fun. If you want to know what a Formula One car can do then the first sector I would say sums it up and says pretty much all. In my point of view [it is] the best track in the world and great fun to be here.

Thank you very much. On to Valtteri Bottas. Valtteri, you had a good race last time out, finishing fifth. Do you think you’ll be able to make the same challenge again here in Suzuka?

Valtteri BOTTAS: It was a good weekend for me. We knew Singapore would be a difficult one, probably the most difficult track for the rest of the calendar. Good to be here because we do think we can be more competitive here than we have seen last weekend. Really looking forward to it. Like Sebastian said, it’s a great track to drive. Also, the fans are awesome here, so it’s good to be here and we are expecting strong results.

Williams are currently third in the Constructors’ Championship, 112 points behind Ferrari and 59 points ahead of Red Bull. With six races of the season left are you, as a team, moving into a testing period for the last six races, with an eye to next year?

 VB: For sure we’ve been developing next year’s car already for a long time and we have already done some tests looking more at the future rather than maybe only this season. Yeah, that is one of the targets for the rest of the year, to look ahead to next year but still we want to have good races and if we can find anything for this year’s car for sure we will try to do it if it doesn’t impact the development of the new car. Still many races to go if we want to gain our position. It would be nicer to be a bit closer to Ferrari also.

Thanks very much. Will Stevens: new team-mate and a new challenge for you. How do you feel about the rest of the season?

Will STEVENS: Yeah, I think the year so far has gone pretty good for me. I think Singapore last weekend for sure wasn’t one of my easiest weekends of the year but you need weekends like that to improve and to learn from. So heading into this weekend and the rest of the year I don’t know any of the tracks, apart from Abu Dhabi, so I have a lot of learning to do. But I always like coming to new circuits, especially here. It’s always [been] a circuit I’ve wanted to drive, so looking forward to getting out there. The weather looks pretty mixed for the weekend so I’m sure we’re going to have a very eventful weekend.

What about your future at Manor? Are you seeing lots of progress? How have things changed over the year in the garage?

WS: I think as a team for sure the next few years are going to be pretty exciting for them. This year was always going to be tough, using last year’s car with the old Ferrari power unit, so it's going to be as tough as it can [be]. But looking ahead to next year, for me personally we’re working hard in the background to try to sort out things for next year, which are looking positive, so we’ll see. Hopefully we’ll have some things to tell you soon.

Thank you very much. Max, another really good race and result for you in Singapore but pretty controversial. Do you want to tell us about it from your side?

Max VERSTAPPEN: Well, I really enjoyed my race. Of course the start was a bit disappointing but from there on I think we had a great pace in the car. Yeah, kept pushing and catching the guys in front of me and at the end to come back in the points was just a great result and, yeah, very happy with that.

Do you want to tell us a little bit more about what happened between yourself and Carlos Sainz and maybe what has happened since the last grand prix to talk about things within the team?

MV: Well I can tell you nothing has changed in our relationship or something. I was trying to overtake Checo, I was very close and I was looking in my mirrors as well. It didn’t feel for me that it was close enough to give it a go, so I decided to stay there and at the end we had a conversation about it in the team and everything has been cleared and we are ready to go again here in Japan.

Thank you very much. Let’s move on to Nico Hulkenberg. Nico, it was clearly a disappointing result for you last time out in Singapore, after the collision for Felipe Massa. You’ve picked up a three-place grid penalty as well. Have you had a chance to look back over the incident and have another view of it?

NH: Yeah, definitely. Obviously I looked at the video footage and I think I probably should have given him a bit more room, because he was on the inside and I had some space on the right. Visibility is also difficult when you are alongside each other and I thought I was ahead enough, but I wasn’t clearly, in hindsight, so we take up the penalty here. But it’s behind us, now we move on and make the best of it this weekend.

This weekend, today in fact, Sergio PĂ©rez has been confirmed at re-signing for the team, so a bit of stability in Force India. Why do you think re-signing was the right thing for you to do?

NH: Well, I think for both of us. We work well together. I think we are a strong combination and I think we both have faith in the team and we see still a lot of potential that we can extract and move forward, together with Force India, and I think both of us want to continue growing with the team.

Q: Jenson, you’ve been the centre of a lot of media speculation over the last week. Can you tell us what your plans are?

Jenson BUTTON: What, today? Or after this…? 

It would be nice to have an insight into your plans for the future…

JB: OK. Well… I can’t give you anything else. Since the last race there’s no more information to give you. You’re going to have to wait for a little while I’m sorry to say but we’re in good talks, the team and myself so, that’s it. We’re here to concentrate on this weekend. It’s a big weekend for us. McLaren-Honda in front of Honda’s home crowd at their circuit… we hope that we can have a good weekend. Obviously the weather mixes it up a little bit which I think is what we need to be properly competitive so yeah, we’re focussing on this weekend and hoping for a reasonable result.

Q: Japan’s always been a special place for you. Just tell us, over your time here, you’ve never finished outside of the top ten I believe, you won here back in 2011 when Sebastian was winning his championship – but why is it so special to you?

JB: I think it’s, as Sebastian touched on earlier, I think it’s a very special circuit for most drivers. It is the best circuit in the world as Sebastian said – not that he’s driven every circuit in the world – but it’s got a nice flow. I was asked the other day which is the best corner here. It’s difficult: you can’t pick just one corner, it’s just the circuit itself. It’s such a fantastic layout. From Turn Two all the way up the Esses, through Dunlop it’s breath-taking. A very special circuit to drive on and even better to win on. I’ve been coming here since ’94 when I raced in karts at the kart circuit just across the road. I remember walking the circuit then just thinking, yeah, it was built for a Formula One car. This was the circuit for a Formula One car – and it is. It’s also very special because a lot of connections to Japan working with Honda for so many years. Obviously my wife is Japanese and yeah, I’m a big fan of the culture as well.


Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action / Speed Sport) Sorry Jenson, you said “we’ll have to wait a little bit.” How much is a little? You also said you’re in talks with the team. That would seen to suggest you’ll be around next year as well?

JB: There’s so many possibilities of what could happen next year. So many possibilities but I’ve got nothing else for you I’m sorry to say.

Q: (Ian Parkes – Autosport) Sorry Jenson I’m going to try and push you a little bit more. You did speak on Sunday about the fact you no longer had any joy in Formula One: the joy of winning, the joy of being on a podium. Is that a kind of indicator as to your mindset, bearing in mind that joy is probably unlikely to return next season if you were to stay with Honda, given the difficulties they’re still likely to face?

JB: Yeah, I think it was worded slightly differently than that – but I don’t think any driver has joy when they’re not fighting for victories. That’s what we’re here to do, y’know, that’s what we love. It’s the challenge of fighting at the front and the possibility of fighting at the front. So, no. I don’t like finishing 14th. I don’t like finishing tenth. That’s not what gives me joy, that’s not what excites me – but there are so many other things that, if they work in your favour, or if you see a future, there’s the possibility of joy coming back and that’s exciting. That’s a challenge. But no, after the Singapore Grand Prix I wasn’t joyful. No.

Q (Trent Price – Rewind Media) Sorry Jenson, we’ll get this out of the way now. Despite a particularly difficult 2015 you’ve had some extremely good years with Honda. 2004, latter half of 2006 respectively. Being here at your second home, how would you like to reflect on your time at Honda?

JB: We’ve definitely had some ups and downs in the past. 2004 was a great year. I got my first podium that year. I think we got ten podiums that season and finished third in the championship. We were second in the Constructors’ so pretty special year. 2006 was when the team actually became Honda and I won my first grand prix with Honda, and still the only grand prix for Honda in this era. So, a special day. The president of Honda was there. He came to two races that year and he was stood on the podium with me, so a great experience and a great memory. But we never achieved what we set out to do, which was fight for the World Championship. We had some good times, we have a lot of fun – but we never quite achieved that. So, I think this time is an important time for Honda. They will give everything, I think, to win the World Championship, a matter of time. I know they’re working flat out. I don’t think anybody can put a time on how long it will take but I know they’re giving everything to do that so hopefully one day we’ll see the president of Honda stood on the podium again.  

Q: (Ben Edwards – BBC TV) Sebastian, when hybrids came in last year, with the Red Bull, you didn’t seem that comfortable with it, certainly at certain points during last year. Last week in Singapore, you put on a display that showed you are absolutely at one with the car. Has anything changed in your driving style with the hybrid cars? And can you just talk through that change a little bit?

SV: I think obviously the cars changed massively from ’13 to ’14, not just the power unit but also the car itself. So I think for all of us it was the experience that there’s quite a lot less grip available, which as a driver is obviously not the right direction to go in because you want to go faster. So there were some things that I had to get used to and for sure, at the beginning of the year, last year wasn’t great, getting the experience with this generation of cars etc. On top, I had a difficult year for many reasons but yeah, I think much more in control and comfortable with this year’s car compared to last year’s for many reasons, but I don’t think it’s down to the power unit really. I think the power unit, for us drivers – well, it is what it is. I think we’re not probably at the same standings as the fans in  terms of sound etc. Obviously it is a step back but yeah, in terms of the technology behind it, it is incredible. The question still remains open, whether we need it or not, that’s for everyone, individually, to decide, I guess. 

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Jenson, you were talking about the enjoyment of racing. Behind you is Nico who won at Le Mans this year. Is it an option to do the same as him, to do Formula One and some special races in other categories next year?

JB: I’ve never thought about doing both. I think with a 22-race F1 calendar you’re going to be very limited on weekends and sometimes it’s nice to have a weekend off from motor racing so I can’t see that happening. Maybe Nico’s going to be doing the same thing again next year but I think for every other driver it’s going to be a super busy calendar if that is the case, that we have that many races. I don’t think it will really work – for me, it wouldn’t really work anyway.

Q: (Luigi Perna – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Seb, looking at this circuit and the next ones, what are the opportunities for Ferrari in your opinion? And second question: are you used to singing Italian songs or was after qualifying your first time?

SV: It was not my first time. I think my first time was probably after Malaysia. Yeah, I’m not a good singer so maybe I stop that now, since everyone has heard it.

JB: I don’t think any of us are!

SV: Well, maybe Lewis is, I don’t know. It was obviously out of the moment, it was a special day on Saturday and Sunday so I was singing both days but I think it was more equally bad both days.

To come back to your first question, I don’t know, it’s difficult to say. Looking at the results so far this year, we had a great car on every track, every nature of circuit: street circuits like Monaco, Singapore we’ve been competitive but on other tracks as well like I just mentioned: Malaysia. Probably Silverstone was one of the weekends where we lost a little bit of that but then again you look at so many races in the same year and you know we weren’t completely off the pace so I think we can be reasonably confident but of course we have to remain realistic. I think we’ve learned along the way so hopefully that means that we will be a bit stronger again but the favourites I think still have to remain Mercedes with their two cars.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Jenson, you said that you’ve been having constructive talks with your team and also that there are lots of options for next year. This would indicate that you haven’t quite made up your mind about 2016. Is your future really in your own hands or are there certain contractual obligations?

JB: I can’t go any further with my comments on that. But I’ll be happy next year. That’s the important thing.

Q: (Ian Parkes – Autosport) Seb, drivers come and go in this sport, some quicker than others as we know, in Formula One it’s the nature of the business but what would it mean if – and still a big if – Jenson did decide to call it a day at the end of this season?

SV: First of all, I think...

JB: Try to be nice.

SV: ...we don’t know if that’s the case. I think you’ve tried to ask him but I think he has his reasons – whatsoever – not to go further. It would be a loss, for sure. I remember when I was a little kid and he was considered very very young, joining Formula One. I have to give you that he looked very young when he started with Williams. Nowadays though, you have guys who are 17 who are starting already, so in that case he was already old when he started, or I was quite old. Certainly, he’s a big character. We know that he’s quick, he deserves to be a champion and I’m sure that if there were more years when he had the package to win the big one, he would have had a big say in that. The quality is out of doubt. On top of that he’s a very fair guy on the track. Outside the track, I think we all like him for many reasons so it would be a big loss.

JB: Thank you mate. I’ll start crying in a minute, it’s so emotional!

Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action and Speed Sport magazines). Max, I know that the team and you and Carlos have sorted out everything from last weekend but did you also look forward and say ‘maybe if there’s a situation, one teammate will let the other teammate by just for a few laps’ – something like Red Bull did in Monaco this year?

MV: Yeah, exactly. I think one thing we needed to be a bit more clear on the radio. We spoke about it and hopefully it will not happen again but we will see. If we are a bit more clear then for sure.