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Another season ahead, will it be better than the last?

I'm certainly hoping there will be less politics involved but that's just wishful thinking! Perhaps I will post less on such issues moving forward and focus on racing aspects.

Hope you are all enjoying your holidays and have a great 2015 year and Formula 1 season. peace.gif

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Another season ahead, will it be better than the last? I'm certainly hoping there will be less politics involved but that's just wishful thinking! Perhaps I will post less on such issues moving forwa

Bernie's really damaging the sport. He's so far behind the times it's impossible to listen to anything he has to say. Just looking at the way other sports leagues have grown over the past 20 years com

I disagree Massa only had one line to of the pits Hulkenburg saw him and could have avoided the contact and still passed Massa as he was on cold tyres. Good race though



It was twelve months ago mere days ago that we all received the shocking news that Michael Schumacher had been injured in a skiing accident. Like all major news events we can remember clearly where we were when we found out and what we felt.
The news was confusing and conflicting at the time, on that chilly December 29th early afternoon, with statements from the manager of the Meribel resort sounding positive, but a ring around of colleagues in Italy and Germany soon revealed a more alarming picture and a year on Schumacher is a still a long way from being the man he was.
And the news around him is just as limited; only this week former F1 driver Philippe Streiff claimed to have had information from Schumacher’s wife and his doctor that the seven times champion is starting to recognise his family members and may one day walk again with crutches. But this has been shot down by Schumacher’s manager Sabine Kehm and by the doctor in question, Gerard Saillant.
The supply of information from Kehm and the family has been very limited, deliberately so. This leaves room for much speculation, but early on Kehm got control of the agenda by saying that no-one should believe anything they see, hear or read if it wasn’t issued by her and the family. So everything else was – and remains – speculation.
In the intervening 12 months, another driver, Jules Bianchi, has received severe head injuries and he remains in the Formula 1 racing communities and fans thoughts.
As with Schumacher, the Formula 1 community rallied around to show support for their injured colleague with #forzajules messages to the fore in the closing races of the 2014 season.
Bianchi’s father, Philippe, did an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport in which he spoke about his feelings and what it was like to have a loved one in this condition,
“I was very sad when he (Schumacher) got hurt,” said Bianchi.
“I kept wondering, like every one else, ‘Why don’t they tell us more about how he is?’ But now I’m in the same position I understand. Everyone keeps asking me how Jules is but I can’t reply, there is no answer.
“It’s very serious, but he’s stable. One day he seems a bit better, other days bit worse. The doctors don’t say. The damage from the accident is very bad but we don’t know how it will evolve.”
Like Schumacher, Bianchi is another driver with strong connections to both Ferrari, Jean Todt and Gerard Saillant, who attended to the French driver in Japan..
So much has happened in the intervening period since Schumacher hit his head on a rock on a mundane ski run; a man who stole his medical records has committed suicide, Schumacher stayed in a coma for over six months, then ‘woke up’ gradually and was transported back to his home in Gland, Switzerland, where he has round the clock care.
Only a handful of people around him know his current condition and the outlook for his future.
Hoping 2015 brings better news and most importantly health to both Michael and Jules.
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Romain Grosjean (above) says 2014 in Formula 1 was even more difficult than the 2012 season, when he was branded Formula 1’s ‘first lap nutcase’ and had to serve a race ban.
The French driver, who will stay at Lotus next year for a fourth consecutive campaign, scored a mere handful of points in 2014 as the Enstone team struggled with a poor and underpowered car.
Grosjean told RMC Sport: “This was the most difficult year of my career psychologically.”
That is despite the 28-year-old having to engage the help of a psychologist after 2012, when he almost lost his seat due to a season of erratic driving and mistakes.
“In 2012,” he explained, “it was clearly about me and some stupid things I did. But this year I did a very good performance but it was not visible because of the car.
“This was also the first year that I was the team leader, so I was trying to understand and point everyone in the right direction and it took a lot of energy,” said Grosjean.
Towards the end of the season, Grosjean (above crashing at Spa in 2012) declared that he could escape from his Lotus contract and switch to a top team, but he instead re-signed for Lotus.
“In sports,” he explained, “it is always easier to support someone who is successful than someone who is in a difficult moment. But I think the numbers, compared to my teammate (Pastor Maldonado), speak for me.”
“When you’re not on the podium, it is easy for people to ask questions, but we live in a sport that is hugely dependent on the car,” Grosjean said.
He is therefore hoping Lotus can produce a better one for 2015, “It’s always difficult to know before winter testing. This year, we thought we had a very good car because the aerodynamic numbers were excellent.”
“By the third lap on the track, we knew it was not a good car. We already know that the Mercedes engine is more advanced, efficient and easier to use than the Renault, so that will help us to have a better car too.”
“I hope very much to drink champagne on the podium again next year, but 2015 will be a good year anyway as my second child will arrive in mid-May,” Grosjean revealed.
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Former Formula 1 champions Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso (above) were right to leave their respective teams ahead of 2015, according to the outspoken 1997 F1 title winner turned pundit Jacques Villeneuve.
“Both are in a better situation now that they have gone,” said the French Canadian, referring to Vettel’s move to replace Alonso at Ferrari, and the Spaniard’s return to McLaren to lead the new Honda era.
Speaking to Italy’s Omnicorse about Vettel’s Red Bull exit with four drivers’ titles in his pocket, Villeneuve said of the German: “He was no longer the ‘golden boy’.
“He was no longer wanted by Red Bull, who are not the family that they want you to believe. They have only one interest — to sell a lot of drink cans and, therefore, the team was now ‘in love’ with Daniel Ricciardo.
“He [Vettel] had no alternative but to leave and now he arrives at a time when Ferrari is rebuilding. It will take a little patience in 2015 but the results will be seen in 2016,” Villeneuve insisted.
As for Alonso, 43-year-old Villeneuve (above) said it was clear the Spaniard needed “fresh air” after five years of trying to win a third drivers’ title wearing red.
“He came to Ferrari to win,” he said, “but when things went wrong, he did not remain a Ferrari man. The same thing happened in his first experience with McLaren.
“In my opinion,” Villeneuve said, “he is the best driver in formula one when the visor is down, but outside of the car he works not for the team but for himself.
“He uses the internet and Twitter to his advantage, and top teams don’t like that — especially a team like Ferrari that has always protected its drivers even when things are not going well. Look at Kimi: Ferrari, unlike Red Bull, is a family.”
Villeneuve wonders, however, if McLaren will be able to deliver the results Alonso is expecting from Woking, despite the dawning of British team’s new highly-resourced Honda era.
Villeneuve, who raced with Honda power (above) in F1 last decade, said: “McLaren had the best engine available this year [Mercedes], but they were behind Williams and sometimes even Force India, with a budget half the size. It is a clear sign that there is a problem.”
As for Honda, he added: “I keep hearing that the Japanese know how to make a turbo engine, but this V6 is something different. Ferrari also made excellent turbo engines in the 80s, as did Renault, but who is winning now?
“So Honda is an unknown,” Villeneuve added, “but thank goodness they have kept hold of (Jenson) Button, who will help them to solve their problems more quickly.”
He also wonders if Honda, like Alonso, will have the patience to wait for success, “Honda is a brand that comes in and out of formula one. It’s not like Mercedes, who follow a programme until the end.”
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McLaren driver Jenson Button has rung in the new year by announcing he is now a married man.
“Happy New Year from Mr and Mrs Button!” he declared to his almost 2 million followers on Twitter.
British newspaper the Daily Mail, publishing paparazzi wedding photos of the 2009 world champion and his long-time girlfriend, Japanese model Jessica Michibata, said the ceremony took place in Maui, Hawaii.
The wedding car was a classic Pontiac GTO convertible.
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Long-time member of Ferrari’s driver academy Raffaele Marciello (above) has been appointed as Sauber’s new test and reserve driver for 2015.
The 20-year-old Swiss-born Italian driver is highly rated by Ferrari who are the Swiss team’s engine supplier.
“Apart from his formula one responsibilities,” the Maranello based team announced, “the Italian youngster, born in 1994, will continue to race in the GP2 series.”
In 2014, as the reigning European F3 champion, Marciello finished his first GP2 season in eighth place, winning the main race at Spa.
“We will give Raffaele the opportunity to become familiar with formula one, which also includes him taking part in some free practice sessions on Friday,” said Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn.
Marciello added: “I want to thank the Ferrari driver academy for giving me this important opportunity, and now I really can’t wait to start delivering my best.”
Sauber’s reserve driver in 2014 was Dutchman Giedo van der Garde.
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Zanardi: Lewis 'a step above' Alonso


Former Formula 1 driver Alex Zanardi rates Lewis Hamilton as the best driver on the current grid, saying he is a "step above" Fernando Alonso.
Hamilton won 11 of the 19 races this year to win the Drivers' Championship ahead of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, joining Alonso and several other legends on two World titles.
The fight between the two Mercedes drivers went down to the wire though with Hamilton only securing the Championship in the season finale, but Zanardi believes he was a deserving champion.
Speaking to F1 journalist Leo Turrini, he said: "Honestly, I believe that the outcome of the last Formula 1 World Championship was right. I am not talking about the machinery, I am talking about the driver. In my opinion, Hamilton is the best of those on the grid at the moment. Perhaps the only one who comes close to him is Alonso. But I think Lewis is a step above."
Another major talking point this campaign was the struggles of four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull. Vettel, though, will have a new team next year as he has moved onto Ferrari where he will partner Kimi Raikkonen.
Zanardi, who lost both his legs in a CART accident in 2001, but went on to win Paralympic gold at the 2012 London Games, told Turrini's that the Vettel and Raikkonen partnership will be interesting.
"I think Vettel is a great driver, maybe not at the level of Hamilton or Alonso, however, we are talking about a very very competitive driver, who will surely get to Maranello with the right spirit."
He added: "Apart from the car, which of course remains important, it will be interesting to see how Vettel and Raikkonen will react to the latest experiences in 2015. Let me explain. In 2014, Seb was put under by [Daniel] Ricciardo. Similarly Kimi declined significantly compared to [former Ferrari team-mate] Fernando. How will they adapt to a machine that we are told will not be the fastest? It will be very interesting to see their performance."
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Adrian Sutil 'very open' to WEC, Haas F1


Adrian Sutil says he is prepared to "look at several categories" after losing his Formula 1 race seat for 2015.
The German won't be on the grid this year after Sauber opted to axe him and Esteban Gutierrez in favour of a line-up of former Caterham driver Marcus Ericsson and rookie Felipe Nasr.
Instead of taking a year out of racing, Sutil says he is interested in competing in the World Endurance Championship next year while he will also keep an eye on Haas F1 ahead of their entry into F1 in 2016.
"There are plenty of opportunities in categories that are really interesting - it doesn't need to only be Formula 1," he told Autosport.
"I've had my normal plan disrupted so I have to look at several categories. I'm very open.
"I look forward to whatever happens. If I don't drive next year, I'm still a happy man.
"Maybe the year after Haas is coming to Formula 1, and this is an interesting project. The WEC could [also] be an interesting project.
"Everyone is saying good words about it, and that's how I feel about it. The cars are quick and probably similar to Formula 1.
"I definitely want to do the 24 Hours of Le Mans in my career, and I'm looking at certain Formula 1 drivers who did that step and are very happy.
"There are manufacturers there and that's good for the future for a driver - you need a partner who is reliable and you can make a long-term contract [with] and then really work and improve.
"I'm 31 and I could still go quite a few more years in Formula 1, but I've been in Formula 1 and there's a time where you have to go somewhere else."
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Stewart: F1 still biggest show in town


Sir Jackie Stewart believes Formula 1 is still the biggest sporting attraction in the world and is likely to remain top for some time to come.
F1 has received plenty of bad press last year with Caterham and Marussia forced to fold due to financial difficulties while CEO Bernie Ecclestone's run-in with German authorities over the sale of a Formula 1 stake has also not helped.
On the track there have been concerns that the new V6 engines are not loud enough while Mercedes dominated the 2014 season as they won 16 of the 19 races with Lewis Hamilton beating team-mate Nico Rosberg to the title.
Despite concerns that the sport might be losing some of its fans, Stewart insists "nothing comes close to Formula One".
"It's still the biggest show in town and next year there will probably be 20 grands prix but only one grand prix in each country," Australia's Sportal quotes him as saying to Perform.
"And if you're the chairman of the board, or the head of marketing and sales globally, if you're the CEO, and you get and invitation to come to a grand prix, you take it. Because there is only one in your country.
"[There is] a whole lot of tennis events, a whole lot of football, a whole lot of rugby, a whole lot of tennis, and golf, and everything else. But there is only one grand prix in Formula One - so therefore it's a big ticket.
"I go to all the big golf events and tennis events, lots of other sporting events, but nothing comes close to Formula One. It's a great example to other industries and other businesses. It's a very healthy sport.
"If you go to a major sports car race and there is a minimal number of people there in comparison to Formula One attendance. So it's global and NASCAR and stock car racing in America are very popular - but almost entirely domestic, America. We are a global industry.
"As long as we have good, safe racing, exciting racing, colourful racing, multi-nationalities involved, I still see it being a huge sport."
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Mercedes confirms Alonso is plan B to F1 champion Hamilton for 2016


Fernando Alonso has been singled out as Mercedes' main target for 2016 if the Formula 1 team cannot agree a new deal with Lewis Hamilton.
Talks between Hamilton and Mercedes to thrash out a fresh deal were put on hold until after last season, so that the discussions would not get in the way of the title battle between the Briton and his team-mate Nico Rosberg.
AUTOSPORT revealed last October that Alonso was on Mercedes' radar and although renewal talks began with Hamilton last November, with both parties seeing no reason why a fresh contract cannot be sorted out, Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has suggested that Alonso is a fall back option in the event that talks break down.
"There's no hurry, we'll discuss it during the year," he told Gazzetta dello Sport, with Hamilton's current deal running out at the end of 2015.
When asked what would happen if a contract could not be sorted, he said: "I'm optimistic, the priority is to carry on with these drivers. Should it be impossible, then Alonso represents the top alternative, followed by [Valtteri] Bottas."
Wolff believes that Alonso remains one of the best drivers on the grid, despite the recent disappointing streak at Ferrari that prompted his decision to leave Maranello.
"He is a dangerous rival with any car," he explained "If he is at the wheel of a car that can finish sixth, he will take it to third place."
Alonso has rejoined McLaren for 2015, with the team suggesting that the Spaniard has a multi-year deal.
However, there are likely to be performance clauses in the contract that could allow him to leave in the event that the Woking-based team does not deliver.
Wolff also believes that Williams will be Mercedes' main rival in 2015 - although would not be surprised if Red Bull returned to form after a disappointing campaign last year.
"I put Williams at the top of the list," he said when asked where he thought the biggest threat would come from this year, "but I also fear a lot Red Bull: they have won four consecutive titles and will field every resource in order to fight again for the title."
He also did not dismiss the possibility of Ferrari, and new signing Sebastian Vettel, delivering more than some expect.
"Never underestimate them," he said. "It's an icon and it's important for it to be able to win again as soon as possible. I'm convinced it will soon be competitive again, maybe in 2015 already."
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Mercedes 'incredible' in 2014, says Formula 1 rival Red Bull


Red Bull team boss Christian Horner believes what Formula 1 rival Mercedes achieved in 2014 was "truly incredible".
The run of four straight drivers' and constructors' titles for Horner's squad was ended in emphatic fashion by Mercedes last season, with world champion Lewis Hamilton and team-mate Nico Rosberg winning a record 16 races between them.
Horner believes Mercedes deserves credit for leading from the front in F1's new era of hybrid turbocharged V6 engines, though it admitted it was braced for its own engine supplier Renault to lag behind the Silver Arrows.
"I think the difference to Mercedes was far bigger than we expected it would be," he said. "We feared that there was going to be a deficit, but nowhere near the scale we saw.
"I think first we need to congratulate Mercedes, who have done a truly incredible job with their power unit.
"I think we were in the worst of all situations with Renault in that we were uncompetitive with an unreliable engine. But credit to them for sorting the reliability out on the engine.
"It's now the performance deficit that we really need to focus on."
Red Bull bounced back from a calamitous pre-season testing programme to win three races in 2014, though all came from new driver Daniel Ricciardo as quadruple champion Sebastian Vettel suffered his first winless campaign since his F1 debut half-season in 2007.
Though Vettel has now left for Ferrari, Horner believes Renault's restructuring and Red Bull's new works team status means the engine battle should be closer this year.
"I think Mercedes invested more strategically than Renault," he added.
"It was something we were aware of and something we pushed Renault on, but unfortunately their management changes came too late to make an impact into this year, but hopefully they will make a big influence in the next few seasons.
"I think the philosophy to embrace Red Bull as the works team and to work as a partner as opposed to a customer was what needed changing, because the power unit needs to be fully integrated."
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Daniil Kvyat doesn't fear 2015 Formula 1 team-mate Daniel Ricciardo


Daniil Kvyat says he is not scared of going up against Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull this season, despite the Australian's superb 2014 Formula 1 campaign.
In his first year at Red Bull, Ricciardo had a stronger season than four-time F1 champion team-mate Sebastian Vettel and won three grands prix.
Kvyat admits that Ricciardo's performances have set a high benchmark, but does not expect to be outperformed on his graduation to Red Bull in only his second season in F1.
"He proved to be a driver of an extremely high level last year," Kvyat told AUTOSPORT.
"I will be at Red Bull not to watch him do well, but to do my best and be in front of him and everybody; that's how it's going to be."
"I wouldn't go there if I was scared.
"I know what he can do, but I will also do my best and my best isn't that bad."
The 20-year-old Russian also shrugged off the significance of stepping into the shoes of a man who dominated F1 for 2010-13.
"Vettel had the perfect shot with Red Bull and got four titles; he did a fantastic job," said Kvyat.
"What makes me so excited about going to the team is that the history is so big in the team already.
"People outside will look at one thing and draw comparisons, but I am only looking at what makes me go faster.
"I feel absolutely ready. It's a challenge, but it's an opportunity as well."
He also has no concerns about racing with established world champions at the front of the field for the first time in 2015.
"I have been wheel-to-wheel with some of them this year as it's been an up and down season for everyone, but next year is an opportunity to fight at a high level," said Kvyat.
"It's never going to be easy for anyone and I am aware of this, but everyone started from where I started.
"I have to have confidence as there is no point doing it otherwise."
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Ferrari bench better than Caterham seat - Vergne


Jean-Eric Vergne is happy with his new position at Maranello.

Jean-Eric Vergne insists his new Ferrari test role is better than a race seat at struggling backmarker Caterham.
The 24-year-old Frenchman was dropped by Red Bull after contesting the last three seasons for the energy drink company's second F1 team Toro Rosso.
Ferrari has signed him for 2015 to be primarily a simulator driver, as Mexican Esteban Gutierrez will be the official reserve.
Staying in touch
"Of course it is a good way to stay in touch with the paddock," Vergne told the French sports daily L'Equipe.
"But my motivation is also to help Ferrari to win again. I will work for the most prestigious team and do my best to help them in the simulator," he added.
"That is great. I would rather sit with Ferrari on the bench than to race for a team like Caterham," Vergne insisted.
"I'm still very young and there are still many years in Formula One in front of me. I enjoyed Formula E, but Ferrari now has priority."
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Marussia still owes Timo Glock $1m - source


Glock is looking for money still owed from old contracts.

The collapsing F1 backmarker Marussia still owes a whopping $1 million to its former driver Timo Glock.
The debt was discovered by the F1 business and Formula Money journalist Christian Sylt in the team's administration documents.
It shows that German driver Glock, who raced for Marussia and its former guise Virgin between 2010 and 2012, is one of the dozens of parties owed the most by the team.
Only Ferrari, McLaren, Pirelli and the hospitality company Freeman's - owed a combined total of $37 million - are owed more.
All together, Marussia owes almost $50 million to creditors, but administrator Geoff Rowley told the Telegraph that they "will suffer a significant shortfall" even though the team's assets are being auctioned.
After leaving Marussia and F1 at the end of 2012, Glock became a works BMW driver in the German touring car series DTM.
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Maldonado doesn't deserve bad image - Permane


Pastor Maldonado doesn't deserve the bad image he's been assigned by Formula 1 fans according to Lotus trackside operations director Alan Permane.
The Venezuelan is often the target of ridicule thanks to his numerous crashes and mistakes, but Permane insists the one-time race winner is "one of the best drivers" to work with in terms of feedback.
"Pastor has an awfully bad image from the outside, and of course he does do some silly things on track every now and again," he told Autosport.
"But to work with, he's one of the best drivers I've ever worked with - his feedback, how calm he is, nothing flusters him at all,"
added Permane who has worked with many drivers, including Romain Grosjean, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso.
"He's very, very good and he works incredibly hard. Whatever's happening, he's in there doing his stuff and getting on with it.
"There's very rarely a magic button to press, it's just hard work that gets you out of trouble. And he recognises that and gets on with it.
"It's no secret he brings a lot of funding to the team. In his position, it would be very easy for him to have tantrums and get hysterical, and he's not done it once. Never. I think that's great."
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Raikkonen: 'No point in changing my driving style'


Kimi Raikkonen says he sees no point in adapting his driving style to suit the car, as he doesn't see how it will make him any quicker, and has instead urged Ferrari to design a car which suits him.
The Finnish driver is known to enjoy a car which performs well on turn-in, or in his own words: "if it doesn't turn and the front doesn't bite I've never liked it."
Ferrari's poor aerodynamics on the F14-T haven't helped Raikkonen which he insists is to blame for his lack of results when compared to Fernando Alonso.
However the 2007 champion doesn't believe he needs to change the way he drives as it doesn't fix the problem.
"I don't see the point of me changing my driving style. I couldn't drive differently any faster," he said. "The issue is not with how I drive but how we fix the issue, then we will have a good result.
"I can drive around some issues but I hope we can fix the main issue and drive as I always do. I've been driving in Formula One for quite a few years and have never changed it and will never change it. It's not the right way of fixing the problems."
Raikkonen is certain of a better car more suited to his style next year following Ferrari's restructure.
"Next year will be different because you have a new car and it's a different story. I'm sure it will be a better car, a better package, and what we have learned we can improve for sure."
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Honda has been left out as rival Formula 1 engine suppliers prepare to develop their turbo V6 power units throughout the forthcoming 2015 season.
It has emerged in recent days that, because the wording of the regulations is unclear, the sport’s 2014 suppliers Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari do not in fact have to present in Melbourne an engine to be ‘frozen’ for this year’s entire world championship.
“Everything depends on the interpretation of the rules,” Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff told La Gazzetta dello Sport earlier this week.
It is believed the loophole was discovered by Ferrari, and then backed in subsequent meetings by fellow engine straggler Renault.
“The FIA offered its version [of the rules interpretation],” Wolff added, “and I do not see any problems.”
“Certainly the freezing of engines in February is best for those who are at the front,” said the Mercedes chief, whose Brackley team utterly dominated last year, “but we are able to develop too.”
Crucially, however, F1’s engine newcomer Honda (power unit above) will not be able to develop throughout 2015. That is because the rules make clear that, for new engine suppliers under the turbo V6 rules that were implemented in 2014, a clear start-of-season homologation date is set: 28 February.
No such homologation date exists, however, for engine suppliers’ second year under the new rules. It means Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault can deploy their 32 performance development ‘tokens’ throughout the entire 2015 season. Honda cannot.
Auto Motor und Sport’s, highly respected correspondent Michael Schmidt said: “Newcomers [like Honda] have no tokens in the first year.
“Until their engine is homologated at the end of February, they are completely free to develop, but after that they may only upgrade on grounds of reliability, cost or safety,” he explained.
Schmidt continued: “McLaren boss Ron Dennis already expressed his concern at the recent Strategy Group meeting that the rules discriminate against his new engine partner.”
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Talk of the possible demise of Lotus may be well of the mark as it appears that the team is well on the road with the early stages of their 2015 campaign
An updated official entry list, albeit provisional, for the 2015 season had the Enstone team listed with a “subject to confirmation” asterisk alongside its name.
It sparked fears Lotus, whose Gerard Lopez led the angry complaints of midfield teams including Force India and Sauber late last season, could be the next to join Marussia and Caterham in serious difficulty.
But Omnicorse reports that those fears appear misguided, as the British-based team is busily “completing the construction of the first E23 chassis for next year”.
“So what does the FIA’s asterisk refer to?” the report said. “The answer is quite simple. Lotus has made a request to be able to make a change to its name.”
Omnicorse referred to rumours that Lopez might be looking to exit F1 in the event he can recoup the investment of his company Genii Capital.
The report added: “But what is more likely is that the name change would only be the adding of a sponsor like PDVSA or Total, who are the main financiers of the two drivers Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean.”
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'Bottas is Williams' future'


Claire Williams has hailed Valtteri Bottas as the future of Williams, confident the driver is "one of the brightest stars" in F1.
Bottas first raced for Williams in 2013, a dismal season for the F1 team.
However, a year later it was a very different picture.
Claiming six podium finishes, the Finnish driver completed the season fourth in the Drivers' Championship ahead of Championship-winning drivers Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.
Signed with the team for 2015, Williams believes the driver has a long-term future with the Grove-based outfit.
"I'm sure people are looking at Valtteri, and why wouldn't they? He's one of the brightest stars in the paddock at the moment," the deputy team boss told Autosport.
"But Valtteri started his career with Williams and when you talk to him you know that he's 100 per cent committed to Williams.
"We're committed with him on this future path for our team, and we're committed to doing that together.
"For me, that loyalty is important and I think Valtteri feels that as well.
"Of course the name of Ferrari, for example, may be tempting, but he fits in well here, and I think for someone like Valtteri that fit is as important as anything else.
"And why would he want to leave when we have a competitive car [and] he knows the plans we have for the future success he can achieve with Williams?
"It's not like we're fifth or sixth in the championship. Why would he go to another team when we're able to provide him with the car he needs in order to win? Why would he go elsewhere?"
Williams, however, concedes it is up to her and the team to keep the driver happy and near the front of the pack in order to have that future with him.
"You never know what the future holds - if Valtteri suddenly ended up being desperately miserable at Williams, because we hadn't provided him with the equipment that we promised him we would, then we would never want to stop him.
"You never know in Formula 1, but right at this moment Valtteri has a contract and we both have a commitment to each other to work together.
"We're so lucky with our driver line-up. We've got one of the best driver pairings on the grid, I'd suggest.
"They both work so hard for the team - they're two drivers whose egos don't get in the way of what we need to achieve as a group, and that's so important for a team like ours.
"They are fully committed and do their bit to help the team move forward. They've really helped turn this around."
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Ricciardo confident he can handle slump


Daniel Ricciardo knows that his honeymoon period at Red Bull won't last forever, but he is confident he can handle a slump in form.
The Australian is coming off a very successful debut season with the Milton Keynes squad as he finished third in the Drivers' Championship on the back of three race victories.
Not only did he beat four-time World Champion and team-mate Sebastian Vettel easily, but he was also the only non-Mercedes driver to win a race.
Ricciardo, though, knows things won't always be plain sailing, but he is confident he can handle the tough times.
"I am riding a pretty big wave at the moment and I am sure, eventually, that will come down and then back up - but that's normal," he told Autosport.
"I think controlling your bad days as best as possible, or the times when maybe the car is a complete box the whole weekend [is important].
"It is about controlling your emotions and not getting too frustrated with it - just finding ways to drive around it and accepting that, okay you are not going to win, but a fifth would still be better than a 10th, so try and get fifth."
The 25-year-old admits that it's not always easy to control your emotions when confronted with difficult situations, but feels the experience he gained last year will help him.
"It is always easier said than done," he added.
"Particularly now I have won a few races, if I am running around fifth or sixth I am not really happy with that.
"So, it's easy to get frustrated and want more, but that is where it gets tough and you sometimes have to take a step back and deal with what it is and never lose your confidence or belief.
"I have won a race this year, so in two years' time I shouldn't be a worse driver - I should be better.
"Maybe the opportunity wouldn't be the same, but you should never doubt your own ability."
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Wolff: Don't discount Ferrari


Toto Wolff has warned against writing off Ferrari in 2015, saying the Scuderia have the ability and the driver needed to bounce back.
Ferrari suffered a dreadful campaign by their high standards in 2014.
Not only did the team fail to secure a single race win but they also managed just two podium results, falling to fourth in the Constructors' Championship.
The team's woes resulted in several high profile changes not least of which was parting ways with Fernando Alonso and signing four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel.
And the German is one change that Wolff reckons could help Ferrari return to winning ways.
He told Gazzetta dello Sport: "Sebastian brings four World titles, enthusiasm and experience. It will be an incentive for the people of the incredible Ferrari.
"Never write them off. Ferrari is an icon and it's important for them to be able to win again as soon as possible.
"I am convinced they will return to being competitive, and maybe as early as 2015."
As for Alonso, who will race for McLaren-Honda this year, Wolff has warned that the Spaniard is always "dangerous" because if he is giving a car that "can be classified sixth, he can take it to third place."
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No number one in F1 for first time in over 20 years


The FIA has confirmed Lewis Hamilton will continue to race using the number 44 in 2015 instead of using the number one which is reserved for reigning world champions.
It’s only 12 months since the FIA gave drivers the option of choosing their racing numbers, and Hamilton’s decision shows how keenly some of them identify with numbers they used early in their racing careers.
However for Formula One it means the world champion can no longer be readily identified by the iconic number one. This has been a dependable feature of grand prix racing for decades.
You have to go back over 20 years to find the last grid which did not feature a car bearing the number one. Alain Prost’s retirement as reigning champion left F1 with no one to carry the number one during the 1994 season. Instead his Williams team mate Damon Hill used the number zero.
Coincidentally, the same scenario played out the year before when Hill had also used the number zero. Prior to that Nigel Mansell had won the championship, but switched to IndyCar for 1993.
Before these two seasons there was only a handful of occasions when the number one was not present in the field, or was used by someone other than the reigning world champion.
The latter was the case at Brands Hatch in 1985, where John Watson substituted for the injured champion Niki Lauda, and drove his McLaren bearing the number one.
Lauda also missed out on driving in two races with the number one on his car in 1976 following his crash at the Nurburgring which left him with severe burns. Ferrari did not race at all in Austria, and sent a single car for his team mate Clay Regazzoni to the next race in the Netherlands.
There were a few other absent champions in subsequent races, and so no number one in the field. Jody Scheckter failed to qualify the awful Ferrari 312T5 at Montreal in 1980. At the inaugural Detroit Grand Prix two years later Nelson Piquet failed to make the cut after technical trouble on his Brabham.
Hamilton’s decision will no doubt attract complaints that he is breaking with tradition. However it is a fairly recent ‘tradition’. It was only 40 years ago that a reigning champion bore the number one on his car for the first time.
That was Emerson Fittipaldi in the 1975 season. Incidentally, there was one race that year without his number one on the grid – Fittipaldi boycotted Spain’s round of the championship at Montjuich Park on safety grounds.
Not long before that drivers often changed numbers from race to race. They began using the same number throughout the season in 1974, and had Jackie Stewart not retired as champion at the end of the season he would likely have carried the number one, which was used instead by Ronnie Peterson.
Now the idea of letting drivers identify with a single number throughout their F1 career has taken hold, perhaps we will soon see the practice extending to junior categories such as GP2 and Formula Renault 3.5. In a few years’ time the idea of having a season without a champion driving car number one may not seem so strange.
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Happy belated birthday Michael, remembering how the legend began


Michael Schumacher was born January 3rd, 1969.

Michael Schumacher's 46th birthday is being spent with his family on Lake Geneva, as he continues the painfully slow recovery process, a year and a few days after his shocking skiing accident.
A history lesson
We've spent a lot of time talking about the brain injury the 7-time Formula One World Champion suffered as he remains in an almost comatose state, but being his birthday, let's take a look at something else. Many F1 loyalists know the story, but many new fans may not. I'm talking about the bizarre beginning to an extraordinary career.
In the early 90's, the biggest thing Schumacher had going for him was his deal with Sauber-Mercedes in the World Sportscar Championship, now the WEC. He had the background to be an open-wheel star with a successful stint in Formula Three and karting.
Gachot goes to prison
Bertrand Gachot was a Jordan pilot in 1991 and you may be asking what that has to do with Michael Schumacher? Well, everything. The Frenchman was having a decent season, even winning Le Mans on the side. Things took a strange turn when he got embroiled in an altercation ... With a taxicab driver .... Using a tear gas-like substance known as CS gas. He was sentenced to two months in prison.
His replacement? Yes, a then-mostly unknown German up-and-comer named Michael Schumacher. He qualified seventh at Spa-Francorchamps, matching the team's best effort of the year and besting 11-year F1 veteran Andrea de Cesaris.
Benetton and Jordan fight over Schumacher
Benetton took notice, but Schumacher had signed an 'agreement in principle' with Jordan for the remainder of the year. That didn't stop Benetton though and the young German was driving for them in the following GP, out-performing three-time Formula One World Champion Nelson Piquet en route to a fifth place finish. A legal battle ensued, but Benetton came out on top.
Michael Schumacher went on to claim seven world titles, 91 wins, 67 poles, and 155 podiums in his 306-race career. Happy birthday Schumi, you're still in our prayers.
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FIA admits loophole, teams can now develop engines during season


Some news that won't be received well by Honda.

One of the fiercest battles off the track in Formula One last season was the ongoing struggle between Mercedes, Ferrari, and Red Bull Renault in regards to developing their engines during the season. This became a top story as teams scrambled for any way possible to close the gap on the silver arrows.
As revealed by Autosport, the FIA is now saying that teams are no longer locked into a single homologation for the year, due to a loophole in the rule book. They may test and implement upgrades throughout the season.
Mercedes loses a little of their advantage
This is a blow to not just Mercedes, who will lose some of their edge, but also Honda. Being a 'new' manufacturer, they must have their 2015 power unit homologated and locked in by the end of February.
The engine freeze was originally put in place as a cost-control tactic with changes only allowed if the FIA agress that it falls under a reliability, safety or cost-saving issue.
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