Category: f1 news

Tech chief Paddy Lowe takes ‘leave’ from Williams F1 team:

Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe is taking “a leave of absence” from the Formula 1 team, has learned.

Lowe’s future at Williams was under scrutiny following the production delays that meant it missed the first two-and-a-half days of pre-season testing at Barcelona, and the performance of the new car when it did emerge.

He said in Spain that he had not considered his position once those problems had become known, and claimed that pinning the blame on one individual or making hasty personnel changes would be unwise. However, one week before the F1 season will begin in Australia, it has emerged that Lowe has stepped away from his role.

A team spokesperson confirmed to that Lowe “is taking a leave of absence from the business for personal reasons”.

The team has not indicated what this means for Lowe’s long-term future. As well as his responsibilities as technical chief, Lowe acquired a shareholding in Williams when he joined.

The pre-season setback added to the pressure Lowe was already facing following Williams’s dismal 2018 season. Last year’s car was the first to be designed and built under Lowe’s leadership, following his high-profile and expensive move to Williams from Mercedes in early 2017.

It had fundamental aerodynamic problems that led to the team finishing last in the constructors’ championship – the worst result in Williams’s history.

The team conducted a major review into its processes over the 2018 season to ensure its 2019 car did not suffer from the same problems.

That increased expectations for the FW42 but also raised the significance of the car in terms of the competence of Williams’s new senior structure.

The failure to coordinate the build process added further strain, and when it did hit the track the team was rooted to the bottom of the times. Lowe argued that the car was already showing signs of having much better characteristics than its predecessor.

However, rookie driver George Russell said the team was definitely slowest, while championship returnee Robert Kubica complained that the saga had left him knowing only “20%” of what he needs for his big F1 comeback in Melbourne.

Red Bull denies it offered Alonso Ricciardo’s drive:

Fernando Alonso says he was offered Daniel Ricciardo’s vacant Red Bull Formula 1 seat for 2019, a claim the team has denied.

world champion Alonso will stop racing in F1 at the end of the season,
accusing the sport of being too predictable and dominated by the same

In the build-up to this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, Alonso was asked by Sky Sports F1
if he thought the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull were put off
giving him a seat because hiring another top driver would cause them

Alonso dismissed this argument because he claimed that
he already had an offer “from one of these top three teams” but “it was
not the case for me to join that adventure”.

if it was Red Bull, offering him the drive Ricciardo will vacate at the
end of the year to go to Renault, Alonso replied: “Yes.”

Bull picked junior team driver Pierre Gasly to replace Ricciardo, having
opted to stick to its policy of promoting its own talent.

When approached by about Alonso’s claim, a Red Bull spokesperson said the team had not made Alonso an offer.

claim does not fit with Red Bull team boss Christian Horner’s comments
in the immediate aftermath of Ricciardo’s announcement either.

was asked if Alonso was a contender to replace Ricciardo, but said he
“tended to cause a bit of chaos” at other teams and would therefore not
be “the healthiest” choice for Red Bull.

Alonso responded to that on Twitter by calling it “definitely one of the best things ever” and a “summer hit”.

Since leaving Renault for McLaren after his second title triumph in 2006, Alonso’s bid for more championships has unravelled.

two-year return to Renault was a stop-gap before joining Ferrari in
2010 but he left the Scuderia after five seasons, having finished
runner-up three times.

Alonso’s return to McLaren has been
underwhelming and he has been a fixture between the middle and the back
of the grid since then during the team’s struggles.

Though Red Bull disputes Alonso’s claim of an offer for 2019, he could have joined the team a decade ago.

Red Bull approached Alonso when it was in its formative years and had not yet become a grand prix winner, let alone won a title.

Earlier this week Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko referred to Alonso’s demands at the time as “tedious”.

“If you look at his history, in McLaren and Ferrari, it was always a one-man show,” said Marko. “That doesn’t fit with us.”

FIA approves all-new Racing Point Force India F1 entry:

The new Racing Point Force India
team has been granted an official entry in Formula 1 from this weekend’s
Belgian Grand Prix, the FIA has confirmed.

As revealed last night by,
the FIA and owners of the former Force India team have been working
hard in recent days to create a new entry and new team for the
Silverstone-based outfit.

Following intense scrutiny of the legal
situation surrounding the takeover of the Force India team by a
consortium led by Lawrence Stroll, the FIA has subsequently approved an
all-new entry.

It means the former Force India entry has been
officially annulled, with the FIA ruling that the team is excluded from
the world championship with immediate effect. This action forfeits its
constructors’ championship points.

Point’s team principal Otmar Szafnauer said: “The new Racing Point
Force India Team is delighted to be able to race when the championship
resumes in Belgium this weekend.

“This heralds a new and exciting
chapter for us. Just a few weeks ago, an uncertain future lay ahead,
with more than 400 jobs at risk; now the new team has the backing of a
consortium of investors, led by Lawrence Stroll, who believe in us as a
team, in our expertise and in our potential to achieve success on the

“We are grateful to the FIA, the Joint Administrators and
Formula One Management for their support in helping us achieve such a
welcome outcome and ultimately, we trust, for the sport and its many

FIA president Jean Todt added: “I am very pleased that a
strong, positive outcome has been reached and welcome the mid-season
entry of Racing Point Force India.

“Creating an environment of
financial stability in Formula One is one of the key challenges faced by
the sport, however thanks to the hard work of the FIA, the Joint
Administrators, Racing Point and Formula One Management we have a
situation now that safeguards the future for all of the highly-talented
employees, and will maintain the fair and regulated championship
competition for the second half of the season.”

Stroll: No guarantees over seeing out 2018 with Williams:

Lance Stroll says “nothing’s guaranteed” in terms of whether he will see out the 2018 Formula 1 season with Williams.

Stroll stressed he is still committed to Williams in the wake of a consortium led by his father, Lawrence Stroll, taking over Force India but appeared to leave the door open for a potential mid-season switch.

19-year-old is expected to race for Force India next year, and there
have been suggestions this move could happen earlier should a deal to do
so be struck with Williams.

With Sergio Perez expected to remain at Force India next season, any such move would likely be at the expense of Esteban Ocon.

“Well, nothing’s guaranteed,” said Stroll when asked if he was sure he will be finishing the year with Williams.

right now, I’m going to be just focused on this weekend and I’m going
to give it my all like I always do and we’ll see what the future holds.

“Right now, I’m going to be just taking it weekend by weekend and we’ll see what happens.

committed to Williams, I have a contract with Williams. We’ve achieved
some good success in the past, last year, so right now I’m going to try
and beat them [Force India].”

Stroll refused to set a timeline
for any decision on his future, joking that he hopes his father will
choose to take him on for next season.

“For the moment, I am here at Williams,” said Stroll. “I am not sure what I will be doing in the future.

“We’ll see what my father decides to do. He’s a nice guy, I’ll hope he takes me.”

also said he hasn’t had much input into his father’s decision to take
over Force India, stressing that it was motivated by Stroll Sr. seeing
it as a good business opportunity.

Asked whether he’s discussed
the takeover with his father, Stroll answered: “No. He has done his due
diligence and he sees that they currently punch above their weight. They
do a really good job with what they have so he sees a lot of
opportunity and a lot of potential.

“They are in a very difficult position and he believes he can help grow the company and make them as competitive as they can be.

“At the moment I am at Williams and we will see what happens with me in the future.

wish him all the best with Force India, it is definitely a very
exciting future for him. But I am just focused on this weekend and what I
am doing the rest of the year.”

Ricciardo explains timeline for Red Bull split:

Daniel Ricciardo has explained the
timeline for making his decision to join Renault’s Formula 1 team next
season, after Red Bull’s Helmut Marko suggested he was blindsided by the

shocked Red Bull at the start of F1’s summer break by agreeing to join
Renault next season instead of signing a new deal as his current
employer had expected.

Red Bull
motorsport advisor Marko said he did not understand the decision and
thought Ricciardo would sign a new contract during the post-Hungarian
Grand Prix test on the Tuesday in Budapest.

Ricciardo has now explained how he ended up deciding to join Renault two days later instead.

is not something I knew for weeks or months,” said Ricciardo. “So, it
was all pretty much when it got announced right before the break.

"Renault was part of my considerations for a bit of time, they didn’t come out of nowhere in the last hour.

was really torn with what to do and that process took time. Still in
the race weekend in Budapest I wasn’t sure what I was going to be doing.

"I did the test on Tuesday, and had some time to think about it over those 48 hours and came to my decision.

"It wasn’t easy. There were a lot of factors and variables I had to weigh up in my mind.”

explained that his shift in fortunes after going from two wins in the
first six races to failing to score a podium in the next six, left him
feeling “a little bit frustrated” with himself.

“I was trying to
understand why,” said Ricciardo. “When I weighed it up, the change of
setting, a new challenge, is probably the answer I needed.”

Telling Marko made Ricciardo ‘nervous’

said he had “a few sleepless nights” while deliberating leaving Red
Bull, three times a race winner this season, for Renault, which has yet
to score a podium since returning to the F1 grid in 2016.

has said Red Bull offered Ricciardo everything he asked for in a bid to
keep the Australian, and Ricciardo admitted he was “a little nervous”
when informing them he will leave.

He called Marko and Red Bull
team boss Christian Horner on the Thursday after the Hungarian GP, with
his move to Renault confirmed the next day.

Ricciardo said: “He
[Marko]’s known me for 10 years and I think he’d sensed at times some
frustration or maybe some things changing in me, so, I don’t think it
completely surprised him.

"He was a little bit disappointed I was moving on. It was nice to know I was wanted there and they wanted to keep me.

"It was all calm and respectful, so it was all I could ask for.”

Avoiding Verstappen, Honda didn’t sway decision

the factors Ricciardo had to consider was Red Bull’s decision to use
Honda engines next season despite the Japanese manufacturer’s troubled
recent history with McLaren.

Asked by how much of
an impact Honda had on his call, Ricciardo said: “Nothing was that
clear-cut. Honda still really need to prove themselves at the front.

wasn’t really one key factor other than myself wanting to have a change
of scenery. That was probably the biggest thing, it wasn’t necessarily
the engine deal or financials.”

Horner said he felt that Ricciardo was also keen not to drive in the same team as Max Verstappen anymore.

is the short answer,” Ricciardo said when asked by if he
needed to escape Verstappen as the young Dutchman settles at Red Bull.

far as [in]equality went in the team, from the outside people thought
that but hand on heart there was never any concern or sign of that.”

Ricciardo exit ends “very strange” saga – Marko:

Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko does not understand Daniel Ricciardo’s decision to join Renault, which he says brought “a very strange situation” to an end.

Ricciardo had been expected to sign a new Red Bull deal prior to F1’s summer break but shocked his current team by agreeing to drive for Renault instead.

Red Bull claimed to have met all Ricciardo’s contract demands, which led team boss Christian Horner to suggest Ricciardo feared being a number two to Max Verstappen.

Marko told Austrian broadcaster Servus TV: “I don’t understand it. It was a very strange situation anyhow.

"The negotiations were difficult but Wednesday before the Austrian Grand Prix we were talking for two hours and came to an agreement.

"During the weekend, we were talking and renegotiating again.

"In Hungary, he told Mr [Dietrich] Mateschitz and me that he was OK with everything and that he was going to sign during the [post-Hungarian GP] test on Tuesday. But he didn’t.

"On Thursday, he then called and told me he was going to Renault. I can only assume that maybe he doesn’t believe in the Honda project or that Renault offered him a lot of money.”

Ricciardo has won two races with Red Bull this season while Renault is yet to score a podium as it continues to rebuild its works team.

Renault has also admitted to being disappointed it has not made more progress as a race team and as an engine manufacturer in 2018.

Marko said it is “going to be difficult” for Ricciardo to perform his customary ‘shoey’ victory celebration “in the near future”.

He added: “Including his time in the junior programme he has been with Red Bull for 10 years.

"He said he needed a change of surroundings. I can understand that, but it’s a pity because he is one of the strongest drivers.

"His overtakes are great. They come out of nowhere and sometimes his opponents don’t even realise they are being overtaken.”

Red Bull has picked current Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly as Ricciardo’s replacement, sticking to its policy of promoting its own talent from within.

Marko, who said Red Bull will deliberate over its Toro Rosso options until the Italian Grand Prix at the start of September, expects Gasly to make big progress next season.

“Pierre is in his second year in F1, so he is missing some experience,” said Marko. “But his pure speed, especially in qualifying, is very close to Max. That is one of his strengths.

"We expect him to be an appropriate replacement for Ricciardo by the middle of the season.”

Two-time champion Fernando Alonso was named as a fanciful option to replace Ricciardo but dismissed by Christian Horner as a candidate.

Marko added: “We were negotiating with him in 2007 or 2008. His demands were very tedious back then.

"If you look at his history, in McLaren and Ferrari, it was always a one-man show. That doesn’t fit with us.”

Mazepin’s company questions Force India rescue process:

A Russian company that was one of the unsuccessful bidders for Force India has questioned the process which led to the team being acquired by a consortium led by Lawrence Stroll.

Chemical firm Uralkali is closely associated with Dmitry Mazepin, father of GP3 racer and Force India test driver Nikita Mazepin.

Mazepin Sr is its deputy chairman of the board of directors, as well as chairman of holding company Uralchem.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Uralkali said that it “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.”

However, the administrators – Geoff Rowley and Jason Baker of FRP Advisory – have responded by saying that all bidders for the team were treated equally.

“All bidders were given equal opportunity to submit the best deal for Force India,” they said in a statement. “Throughout, we (the Joint Administrators) have closely followed our statutory duties and objectives as administrators and had the advice of experienced legal counsel.”

Uralkali says that it “assembled a team of professionals (including lawyers, accountants, insolvency experts and a Formula 1 specialist) to prepare and submit a competitive bid for Force India, which was led by Uralkali`s independent director Paul J. Ostling.”

Although not named, it is understood that the specialist was former McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh.

The statement explained in some detail the timeline of Uralkali’s bid and its interactions with the administrators.

The company noted that “over the course of the bidding process and discussions with the Administrator, Uralkali insisted on a transparent and fair process to ensure equal opportunities for each bidder.

"In particular, Uralkali proposed that the bidding process be conducted by way of the submission in sealed envelopes of best and final bids to be opened in the presence of appointed representatives of the interested bidders. However, this proposal was rejected by the Administrators.”

In essence, Uralkali points out that the timeline for submitting bids was not achievable, especially as consent for any agreement was required from 13 Indian banks because of a freezing injunction on the assets of the original shareholders.

It says: “Upon our discussions with the shareholder representatives, it became apparent to us that the rescue option (at least on the conditions and within the time frames put forward to us by the Administrator and consistent with our own code of integrity) was not achievable due to the complexity of legal structure, the extended period of time required to obtain consents of the 13 Indian banks and to obtain approval of a UK court for an amendment to the freezing injunction.

"Uralkali submitted a restated proposal on August 6, 2018 which, due to the above reasons, no longer offered a rescue option but set out a very attractive proposal to purchase business and assets of Force India on a going concern basis.”

The statement concludes: “Following the submission of our proposal, the administrator refused to engage with Uralkali team, did not reply to phone calls and emails and communicated with Uralkali in a single email following close of business on August 7, 2018 that it had entered into an exclusivity arrangement with another bidder regarding a proposal to rescue the company.

"Despite expiration of the deadline set by the Administrator, no rescue plan was submitted to the court for approval, which confirmed Uralkali’s view that the rescue option was not achievable in the timeline and under conditions proposed by the Administrator.

"Under these circumstances, it is surprising that no attempt was made by the Administrator to engage with Uralkali with respects to its bid for the assets and business of Force India.”

Vergne says he’s been approached by F1 team for 2019:

Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne says returning to Formula 1 is a possibility next season after being approached by a team.

Vergne was dropped by Red Bull at the end of 2014 after three seasons racing for its junior team Toro Rosso.

He has since become a leading FE and LMP2 driver, clinching the electric single-seater series’ 2017/18 title and racing in the World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series.

Vergne told that the aftershocks of Daniel Ricciardo’s surprise move from Red Bull to Renault could facilitate an unexpected comeback as he has “talked to a team, but it’s not Red Bull”.

“It’s very funny, two years ago F1 was something that would never open its doors to me,” said Vergne, speaking on the latest episode of The Autosport Podcast.

“Today, it’s not completely opened, but I’m talking to some teams and things are starting to move a little bit. With Daniel going to Renault it changed completely the driver market.

"To have some teams calling me to know what I’m going to do next it feels like ‘ah, I exist!’ for Formula 1.

"What would be really nice is to have a proper chance in F1.

"I have got some unfinished business there and with everything I’ve learned lately, how much I’ve improved, I think it would be a completely different story.”

Mercedes is retaining Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas next season, with Ferrari set to pair Sebastian Vettel with either Kimi Raikkonen or Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly to be Max Verstappen’s new Red Bull teammate.

Carlos Sainz will move to McLaren to replace the outgoing Fernando Alonso, with his teammate, plus seats at the other midfield teams – Force India, Haas, Sauber, Toro Rosso and Williams – to be confirmed.

Vergne said he would only go back to F1 if he has the chance to do more than make up the numbers and believes he has become a “credible” option for teams.

“It’s a possibility,” he said. “I wouldn’t like to go back to a team where I wouldn’t have the chance to prove myself.

"I have a certain level of popularity, I go to a team that cannot score points – after one year everything I worked hard for will disappear.

"Maybe not in one year, but I don’t want to put all the hard work and risk it going back to F1 going to a team that could not give me a car that could not fight for [better] positions.”

Vergne missed out on the chance to race for Red Bull’s senior team when it picked Ricciardo to take Mark Webber’s vacated seat for 2014 and was overlooked again a year later as Daniil Kvyat replaced the Ferrari-bound Vettel.

“I’m thankful to everything that has happened to me in Formula 1, bad and good,” said Vergne. “With who I am [now], definitely things would turn out in a completely different way”

Gasly caught in his underwear when told he had Red Bull seat:

The Frenchman is being promoted from Toro Rosso as replacement for Daniel Ricciardo, following the Australian’s shock switch to Renault for 2019.

Gasly headed into the summer break knowing he was under consideration for the seat, but was caught by surprise when he took a call last week from Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko informing him about the team’s plans.

“When Helmut started the call with me I was in my underwear,” said Gasly, in an interview with Red Bull’s official website.

“When the call ended I ran around the house shouting to my mates and they all jumped in the pool straight away!

"There was so much excitement and I was so happy about it because it’s something I’ve wanted for a long time. Of course when I came in to the Red Bull Junior programme that was the target, to drive in Formula 1 for this team, so I was just so so happy and had so much excitement.”

Gasly faces a big task in going up against Max Verstappen in 2019, but says he is not fazed by the prospect.

“Being teammates and mates with Max next season is really cool, because we get on really well and we’ve known each other for a really long time,” he 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.

"We really respect each other a lot as drivers, but also as friends, so I’m really excited to join him in the team with him. As we have a strong friendship it will be only a positive for the team.”

Red Bull itself knows that Gasly does not yet have a full year’s race experience under his belt, but expects him to be able to fully show what he is capable of by the middle of next year.

Speaking to Servus TV, Marko said: “Pierre is in his second year in F1, so he is missing some experience. But his pure speed, especially in qualifying, is very close to Max.

"That is one of his strengths. We expect him to be an appropriate replacement for Ricciardo by the middle of the season [2019].”

Red Bull hopes to name Gasly’s replacement at Toro Rosso around the time of the Italian Grand Prix.

McLaren Formula 1 – McLaren confirms Fernando Alonso decision:

Fernando will not race in Formula 1 in 2019

McLaren Racing today confirms that double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso will not race in Formula 1 in 2019.

Fernando, who turned 37 in July, is competing in his 17th F1 season, his fifth with McLaren, and has amassed 32 wins, 22 pole positions and 97 podiums to date. Beyond his two titles – in 2005 he became the then-youngest world champion in F1 history – Fernando has been championship runner-up three times.

Zak Brown, Chief Executive Officer, McLaren Racing, commented:

“Fernando is not only an outstanding ambassador for McLaren but also for Formula 1. His 17 years in the sport, as arguably the pre-eminent driver of his generation and undoubtedly an F1 great, have added another layer to Formula 1’s rich history.

“There is a time for everyone to make a change and Fernando has decided the end of this season to be his. We respect his decision, even if we believe he is in the finest form of his career. Our open dialogue with Fernando has meant we could plan for this eventuality.

“While evaluating his future during the past months, Fernando’s competitiveness has been undimmed. He has continued to perform at the highest level throughout, as we know he will do in the remaining nine races of this year’s championship.

“I know that the entire team joins me in paying tribute to Fernando’s enormous contribution to McLaren; he is a legend both for the championship and for the team. Fernando is an important part of our story and will join an illustrious line of McLaren drivers. On behalf of Shaikh Mohammed, Mansour and our entire board, we wish Fernando every success in the future.”

Fernando Alonso commented:

“After 17 wonderful years in this amazing sport, it’s time for me to make a change and move on. I have enjoyed every single minute of those incredible seasons and I cannot thank enough the people who have contributed to make them all so special.

“There are still several grands prix to go this season, and I will take part in them with more commitment and passion than ever.

“Let’s see what the future brings; new exciting challenges are around the corner. I’m having one of the happiest times ever in my life but I need to go on exploring new adventures.

“I want to thank everyone at McLaren. My heart is with the team forever. I know they will come back stronger and better in the future and it could be the right moment for me to be back in the series; that would make me really happy. I have built so many great relationships with many fantastic people at McLaren, and they have given me the opportunity to broaden my horizons and race in other categories. I feel I am a more complete driver now than ever.

“I made this decision some months ago and it was a firm one. Nevertheless, I would like to sincerely thank Chase Carey and Liberty Media for the efforts made to change my mind and everyone who has contacted me during this time.

“Finally, I would also like to thank my former teams, team-mates, competitors, colleagues, partners, journalists and everyone I have worked with in my F1 career. And, especially, my fans all over the world. I am quite sure our paths will cross again in the future.”