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Well known as a party animal, Kimi Raikkonen is the face of a new alcoholic drink in his native Finland.
Famous also for his partying and drinking, it emerges that the Ferrari driver is backing the tinned gin and dry ‘Iceman Long Drink’.
The marketing says the drink is “Served as cool as the Iceman himself”.
Former McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh told Motor Sport Magazine: “Kimi does like to party and drink, but he’s actually much more disciplined about training than most people realise, and he’s also very intelligent — one of the sharpest drivers out there, in fact.”
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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



Monza is home to some of the most passionate fans in Formula One. The Italian Grand Prix was first held during the inaugural Formula One season in 1950 and has been on the calendar ever since.
Four times during a single lap the FW37 will exceed 195mph due to the circuit’s layout. Monza’s history surrounds the circuit with corner names linking back to past greats and the original banking from the 1950s is ever-present.
Monza hosts the last visit to Europe for the Formula One fraternity before they head to sunnier climes. The Italian Grand Prix has had six Williams victors, with Felipe Massa securing an emotional podium in 2014 in front of the Tifosi.
Rob Smedley: “Monza is a specialist circuit and, like the rest of the teams, we will be taking a dedicated aero package. It’s a great circuit and a challenge for both engineers and drivers to get right. There are some very high speed straights with big braking zones with some fast and medium speed corners too. Ascari is a real challenge and Parabolica needs a good front end which fortunately the FW37 has. It’s a test for the drivers as they will have the lowest drag set up of the year which takes time to get used to during the first Friday session. Last year we were on the podium so we look to replicate that performance and carry on outscoring our closest competitors. Italy is fantastic and the fans give the team a great reception, despite being a completely British team and of course the Tifosi are some of the most passionate fans in sport.”
Felipe Massa: “Monza is one of the best circuits to drive – the layout is quick with some very fast corners. The local area is fantastic with good weather, great food and fans who are very passionate about Formula One. There is a lot of history at the track and as a team we have had some good results there, including our podium last year. Standing on the Monza podium is very special and I’m lucky enough to have a lot of supporters in Italy. Our car should be suited well to the characteristics of the circuit but we will have to work hard to make sure that we leave Italy with a good result.”
Valtteri Bottas: “I always look forward to racing in Monza. It’s an old school track with a lot of history and is one of the fastest circuits on the calendar which gives you a real buzz when driving. It requires a low downforce set-up from the car which should be good for us. The passionate fans also make the weekend a special one. We are aiming for a strong weekend here. We have learnt from our mistakes and will bounce back even stronger!”
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Monza is the most power sensitive track of the season. More than 70% of the lap is spent at full throttle, more than any circuit of the season.
There are four long periods of open throttle, each with an average of 13secs each. The first is the pit straight, followed by the run through the Curva Grande, then from the Lesmos to the Variante Ascari and finally from Ascari to the Parabolica.
The longest time the Renault Energy F1 will be at full throttle is the pit straight, which lasts 16 secs.
The power units will reach the highest top speed of the season in Monza. We could see as much as 360kph with DRS open, even higher than last year, which was recorded as 354kph in Qualifying without tow. The Red Bull – Renault of Daniel Ricciardo achieved 362kph last year in the race when overtaking and getting a second tow from the car ahead.
Despite the ICE being flat out for approx three quarters of the lap, fuel consumption per kilometre is relatively low compared to slower tracks. This is due in part to the short length of the track and to maintaining a constant speed throughout, but also due to the high average speed with low downforce package that reduces the time spent to complete the distance.
The ICE will consistently run in the upper end of the rev range, but strong acceleration is more important than the top speed as the car will cover more ground quicker.
Turbocharger: The long periods of wide open throttle generate a steady stream of exhaust gas. The energy available in the exhaust due to the high percentage of full throttle time means that the turbo will be at maximum speed for over 80% of the lap.
Tyre wear is a limiting factor to performance and strategy at this circuit. As such good low speed driveability is key to drive out of the chicanes. To achieve the desired boost target and ensure correct torque delivery from the PU. the turbo must be able to slow down and recover energy in the braking zone, plus avoid lag during the acceleration phase. This all needs to be done in less than six seconds, the time to go through the chicanes.
MGU-K: Despite the heavy braking for the three chicanes, the MGU-K is not significantly stressed in Monza. Each braking event is very short (under two seconds) and there are only three slow corners. In comparison to a corner-rich circuit such as Hungary, the MGU-K barely recovers the maximum energy allowed.
To compensate, the MGU-K recovers energy at partial throttle through overloading the ICE, although it will be difficult to harvest the max energy allowed by the regulations. The MGU-H will also feed the MGU-K down the straights.
MGU-H: The Parabolica and Lesmos are taken at partial throttle and provide the MGU-H with two opportunities to recharge the battery. The Parabolica is taken at a constant 180kph, delivering a steady stream of exhaust for the MGU-H.
The two Lesmos will also be taken at partial throttle. After Lesmo 1 the driver will step on the throttle and lift only slightly for the second Lesmo.
Otherwise the exhaust gases generated at full throttle will be used to harvest energy with the MGU-H at the end of the straights.
Remi Taffin, Director of Operations: “From a performance point of view, the Belgian Grand Prix was a positive one for us. Engine usage was much better than we have seen at the other high speed circuits, performance was improved and the power units worked well, particularly in conjunction with the low downforce configuration.”
“We hope to surf the Spa wave in Monza. It remains the hardest circuit of the year for power units, but we are confident that the latest engine specification will work well. This will be used by all drivers so at the very least we should be able to replicate the performance in Monza.”
“We can go to Monza with our heads high knowing we can compete shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the field.”
Renault 2015 Fast Facts
Monza is the most visited race track in the history of F1. It appeared on the calendar of the inaugural World Championship in 1950 and its layout is largely the same apart from the addition of the chicanes.
Monza is the shortest race of the season due to the short lap and high average speed. Last year’s race took just one hour 19 minutes at an average of 232kph. The 2003 race at this circuit broke the record for the shortest complete race in the history of F1.
With a possible top speed of 360kph, Monza is easily the quickest circuit on the calendar. The next quickest circuit would be Spa, but the quickest speed recorded at the Belgian Grand Prix was 344kph.
In the V8 era the top speed reached at Monza was a touch over 340kph, while it was over 370kph with a V10. That a lower capacity engine can match a gas guzzling V10 is a testament to advances in fuel efficiency and energy recovery and deployment.
The Renault RE30 became the first turbocharged car to win the Italian Grand Prix when Alain Prost raced to victory in 1981. Starting from third on the grid, Prost moved into an early lead and extended his advantage to finish 22secs ahead of the two Williams, driven by Alan Jones and Carlos Reutemann.
The following year René Arnoux repeated the victory for Renault. Six Renault-powered wins followed in the normally-aspirated era; one for Mansell in 1991, two for Hill in 1993 and 1994 and one for Herbert in 1995. Sebastian Vettel raced to the win in 2011
Focus on Italy 2011
The Autodromo di Monza has long been nicknamed the Cathedral of Speed, and with good reason. More than three quarters of the 5.793km track is taken at wide open throttle, with only three braking events punctuating the lap. For an engine supplier, it’s the ultimate test and, therefore, the ultimate Grand Prix to win.
Renault took four wins in the 1990s with Williams and Benetton, but victory eluded the Losange from the end of that decade throughout the noughties. Despite strong form ² throughout the V8 era, it took until 2011 for Renault to return to its winning ways in Monza. Director of operations Rémi Taffin recalls the relief at finally breaking the Monza draught.
‘We’d won the Italian Grand Prix in 1991, 1993, 1994 and 1995 but despite having some great cars and engines had never managed to take a victory since then. We’d come close in some years – 2005 for instance, when Fernando [Alonso] was only 2.5secs from Montoya, who had won that year. But the win had always eluded us.
‘From an engine supplier point of view, you have a love-hate relationship with Monza. You love it as it is the toughest challenge of the year and you see your engines reach speeds they do not reach elsewhere. But you are nervous the whole weekend. Winning this race therefore gives the greatest satisfaction.
‘In 2011 we went to Monza fairly confident and hopeful we’d break the deadlock. We’d won seven of the 11 races held so far that year and the Red Bull-Renault package had proved dominant. Reliability was outstanding and performance was good as we’d mastered the blown floor to give extra performance in the corners and the straights. Moreover, between Webber and Vettel and the year before we’d won at all of the ‘engine’ circuits – Spa, Canada, Abu Dhabi. There was a real hunger to win here, too.
‘Qualifying came on Saturday and Sebastian took the pole by nearly 0.5secs. It looked good for the win, but at Monza you never take anything for granted. Sebastian had a good start but Fernando was quicker and got ahead. For a couple of laps it looked as though Sebastian wouldn’t be able to find a way past, but there was an opportunity after the safety car period and he grabbed it with both hands. From that point on it was about maintaining the lead, nursing the car, making sure everything was safe. Even though Sebastian crossed the line almost nine seconds ahead of Button, until he did we didn’t think of the win.
‘The satisfaction when he did take the flag was immense. You know that your engine has made it and won in the toughest conditions. You feel both happy and proud, plus relieved! That win was made even more special by the fact it moved Sebastian into touching distance of his second championship.’
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The new operator of Turkey’s former Formula 1 circuit says the sport could return to Istanbul in the future.
The Turkish daily Sozcu this week reported that a company called Intercity has signed a 10-year lease, and plans to turn the circuit that hosted seven grands prix until 2011 into a used car or car rental dealership.
But Intercity chief Sadi Hezber has told Speed Week that motor racing remains central to Istanbul Park.
“The rental business will be just one part of our diverse activities,” he said. “Intercity Istanbul Park still has a grade 1 FIA licence, so that formula races could be held here in the future again.”
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Sainz set for grid penalty


Lady Luck just doesn't want to smile down on Carlos Sainz with the Spaniard set for an engine penalty at the Italian Grand Prix.
The Toro Rosso driver has failed to see the chequered flag in his last four races at Austria, Britain, Hungary and Belgium due to problems with his car.
His retirement at Spa came after he suffered a power failure on the formation lap and, although he managed to complete 32 laps, he eventually retired to save engine mileage.
Sainz, though, will still change a component on his power unit ahead of the race at Monza this weekend, which will result in a grid penalty.
However, he is hoping to take a leaf out of team-mate Max Verstappen's book after the Dutch teenager started P18 at Spa and finished eighth.
"I just can't wait to get back in to the car, even if I have to change the engine," the 21-year-old said. "But that spec seemed to work quite well for [Verstappen] in Spa.
"I'm positive even if I'll have to take a 10-place grid penalty... I really want to at least gain all those positions back in the race, as he did in Spa."
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Experience vital for struggling McLaren


McLaren racing director Eric Boullier admits it is important for the team to have experienced drivers due to their current predicament.
It has been a tough year for Woking squad as their power unit supplier Honda has struggled to come to grips with the engine regulations following their return to the sport.
As a result, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button have found themselves struggling at the wrong end of the grid, but Boullier feels that having veteran drivers will help the team to move forward.
"Both have the credibility, and that is very important," he told Autosport. "When each of them says something, everybody is listening and everybody is trusting them to the point where they will try to fix it. That's a big change.
"If you have two junior drivers, you will be tempted to teach them what to do rather than listening to what they want.
"When you are in the situation where we are now, it's good that Honda and McLaren listen to drivers.
"They give the guidance from the past on where we need to go."
There have been talk that McLaren could change their line-up in 2016 and Button is reportedly the man who is likely to make way for either Stoffel Vandoorne or Kevin Magnussen, but Boullier is giving nothing away.
"We are happy today with both drivers," he said.
"I can't comment more than this and I don't want to create a wrong or bad or untrue expectation.
"We are happy with the situation today."
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Bernie 'covered Lotus staff's wages'


Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that he helped to pay the wages of Lotus employees in August while the team have eased concerns they could be forced to skip the Italian Grand Prix.
The embattled Enstone squad have struggled financially for several years now and their woes were compounded a fortnight ago when court bailiffs initially refused to allow them to leave Belgium.
However, the team confirmed on Tuesday that their trucks are en route to Monza for this weekend's race while there is also light at the end of the tunnel in terms of their long-term future with Renault reportedly close to confirming a takeover of the squad.
They still have cash-flow problems though with Formula 1 commercial rights holder Ecclestone confirming that he had to bail them out recently.
"I thought I should cover the wages of the people there to make sure they were all right and so that Lotus would at least get to Spa and, hopefully, to Italy," he told The Times.
"But they really need to make progress with Renault now to make sure everything is OK."
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Rosberg: Nothing less than a win will do


A better start and finding some extra pace in qualifying are two of the areas that Nico Rosberg knows he has to improve on if he wants to be victorious at Monza this weekend.
The German finds himself 28 points behind his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the standings after the reigning World Champion won from pole position at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has admitted that Hamilton gets "half the job done in qualifying on Saturday" with the Brit claiming 10 out of 11 pole positions so far this campaign.
Rosberg, who finished second at Spa last time out, admits that he should be doing better as he has the right machinery.
"The race in Spa was definitely disappointing. My start was not good so I need to work on that and also on finding those extra tenths in qualifying to get back on top there," he said.
"I know I have the car underneath me to get pole and the win every time with this incredible machine the team have built, so nothing less will do.
"Monza is next and I can't wait to try out this season's Silver Arrow there. I'm sure it will suit our car and it's a circuit I really enjoy, so all the ingredients are there for a strong weekend."
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Red Bull opposed to F1's 2016 winter shutdown


Red Bull have revealed their opposition to F1's controversial winter shutdown which will result in the sport being mothballed through December, January and February.
As a result of the 2016 season's late start and the compressed nature of the record-breaking 21-race calendar, the first of just two pre-season test sessions has been delayed until March.
It means F1 fans will be starved of action for three full months after this November's season-ending, with the sport shutting down for a quarter of a full calendar year.
Although the schedule has been agreed by the teams, it has emerged that the decision wasn't unanimous with Red Bull joining McLaren in confirming they are opposed to the plan.
"For me, it would be better to have some running in February, at least a test or something, because it will be a long time with no news about F1," Red Bull boss Christian Horner told Sky Sports. "Unfortunately we were out-voted on that."
Privately, some of the sport's smaller teams have insisted that McLaren and Red Bull's opposition stems from a vested interest following their recent struggles and the opportunity extra testing would give the two fallen superpowers to close the gap to Mercedes.
However, McLaren driver Fernando Alonso has been particularly vocal in arguing that the restrictions on testing have become too much of a restraint by crippling the potential of a team to make inroads through the course of a year.
"Before we had some freedom in terms of testing and improving the car," the Spaniard said last month. "If you found your car was uncompetitive in the first part of the season, you could still end the year in a competitive way. Now we have our hands tied for the season.
"We run the car in Jerez and Barcelona for the tests and if it's competitive you will have a good season and if it's not you will have a bad season."
In 2014, the first pre-season test was held in late January to provide the teams with additional time to assimilate their new V6 turbo engines. Although Horner stopped short in Spa of confirming that Red Bull have served notice of their intention to end their partnership with Renault at the end of this year, he told reporters that Red Bull were waiting to "hear what Renault's commitments are" before ratifying their own plans for 2016.
While the majority of teams have already begun work on the design and construction of next year's cars, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko was quoted in the German media last week insisting that they could fit a Mercedes engine into their 2016 challenger even if a deal was agreed as late as December.
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Closed cockpits: Most in favour, but who can solve downsides?


There is a groundswell of public opinion that closed cockpits are now a must for single-seater F1/Indy-style racing cars of the future.
Much has been written on the topic of whether single-seater/open-wheel racing cars should be fitted with a canopy or deflector-shield device – and the nature of the accidents that led to the deaths of Justin Wilson, Jules Bianchi, Maria de Villota and Henry Surtees in recent times make that hard to argue against.
It's a very simple sentiment to express: simply fit a canopy on the cars, like a fighter jet or racing powerboat – job done, surely?
Alas, no. To devise, prototype, test and implement a system, that's a massive undertaking that will not happen overnight. And nor should it.
Safety systems must be proved to work, not implemented simply because they might. From the mid-1960s to 1993, gradual steps made the cars, the tracks, the race organization, the drivers and the fans safer.
Then came tragic weekend of Imola '94, following which we had some unwise kneejerk reactions (just ask Pedro Lamy about his Silverstone testing shunt). The tragic losses of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna were not in vain, however, as they proved a catalyst a great many safety improvements – all of which were well thought-through advances. We got a true step-change for the better.
As with many things in life, the big developments were introduced at the top and trickled down the motorsport ladder. From rudimentary seatbelts and rollbars, through to the very latest carbon crash structures and ingenious head/neck supports, we've seen a constant drive to save lives.
After every significant accident, the FIA launches an investigation, and there are steps in safety all the time. Next year, for example, it will mandate high-speed cameras in all F1 cars, not for TV purposes but for accident analysis.
Another advance built on scientific fact, which can also lead to greater steps further down the line based on the evidence of recordings.
The big 'pro' of closed cockpits
An extra level of driver safety
Simply put, a canopy or deflector shield of structural solidity would enhance a driver's chances of survival given an impact from a sizeable external object, such as a loose car part or stray wheel, that would otherwise strike their crash helmet or visor.
How useful they would have been if fitted in the cases of Dan Wheldon or Jules Bianchi, where the rollhoops of their cars were viciously torn off by the violence of their respective accidents, is totally unknown.
But in Wilson's case, something that would had deflected the detached nose section of Sage Karam's car, even at a tiny degree of angle, perhaps even if the safety device was itself torn off in the impact, might have made all the difference to his outcome.
It is for this reason that motorsport should pull its greatest minds together and pursue a solution that will decrease the likelihood of direct strikes on a driver's head.
I visited Arai's helmet test centre in Holland a few years ago, and was mightily impressed by its products abilities to stand-up superbly to impacts. They constantly evaluate damage to all of its helmets and visors, and constantly improve the design whenever they feel they can do so. Again, it's all based on scientific fact and understanding.
Perhaps the true question is this: Is it really good enough in this day and age for a crash helmet to be a racing driver's first line of defence?
The 'cons' of closed cockpits
Apologies for painting this bluntly: what would be better, one dead driver or multiple fatalities of fans in the grandstand? Having seen the video of the FIA's canopy tests, it's clear that a wheel and tyre striking a simple fighter jet-style solution creates a major problem in terms of launching the object further into the air and – potentially – over a debris fence. Or towards marshals, photographers, other drivers…
You can argue that any part of the car might do this, but the bulbous nature of a jet-style canopy certainly appears to act more like a ramp than most other surfaces of the car (apart from its round tyres, of course).
This, in my mind, is the number one sticking point that has to be resolved, which is why the Mercedes 'halo' concept, as well as the suggested so-called 'blade' system, have me intrigued. I'm hopeful that they might lead to a useable solution one day.
Can a certain structure be designed to perhaps always deflect a flying object to a far lesser degree than a full canopy would? So it wouldn't always send it flying high into the air?
The FIA has carried out extensive tests to ensure that cockpit openings are just that – so their size allows for an injured driver to be removed without risking further injury, primarily to their spine and neck.
Any canopy would require a substantial locking system, but would require quick release in event of an accident – or worse, a major fuel fire (rare, but recall Simona de Silvestro getting trapped in her burning IndyCar at Texas in 2010, and again in practice at Indy a year later).
It's the reason F1 drivers have a 5s 'jump-out' test, to ensure they can extract themselves in an emergency – a fully-loaded F1 car carries a huge amount of energy between its fuel cell and hybrid systems.
It is imperative that a driver can A: escape the cockpit quickly and B: if they are seriously injured, to be extracted by medical crews without being impaired by new structures.
Any solution would have to answer this, 100 per cent. Because this is a point that has the potential to actually make things worse for the driver's welfare, rather than improve their safety.
Vision restriction
Ask any LMP1 driver what the hardest thing about driving their cars is, and they'll tell you it's the restricted vision caused by the windscreen. And that's before the screen gets bug-splattered, or requires a wiper system for when it rains.
Cleaning the windshield is the first job during any endurance-race pitstop; can you imagine that happening in a 2.4s F1 stop? However, clever people can certainly solve this one, I'm sure, with tear-offs or self-cleaning systems like the onboard cameras have.
One downside of the 'halo' solution, or a forward rollcage structure, is the inevitable bar (or bars) in the driver's line of sight. But top-level racing drivers are good at adapting to restricted vision (driving in thick spray, for example) and their well-tuned brains could mentally 'fill-in' any obstruction.
It might take a while to get used to, but that's what testing is for.
Nobody wants to see people die or get hurt in racing cars. Open-wheel machines, in their traditional nature, have always had the potential for drivers' helmets to be struck by debris. Everyone who's ever driven one can't fail to have been startled the first time a rubber 'marble' was flicked up by the car in front, and clonked their lid.
But when you consider the tragedies the befell Wilson, Bianchi, de Villota, Surtees – and way back with Tom Pryce and Alan Stacey – combined with serious head injuries sustained by Felipe Massa and Cristiano da Matta, they're reminders of a problem that has never been solved in open-wheel competition.
Formula 1 and the FIA comprise a lot of smart people, and they have achieved so much in the same of safety. In America, they've seen the HANS device and SAFER barriers emerge and undoubtedly save many lives. Time to get their heads together?
Someone out there must have the right answer. It's time to do something motorsport is very good at: spend money, innovate, test and arrive at a solution that eliminates all those three 'cons' before that huge 'pro' that we're all after can truly be delivered.
What we should never do is give up trying, we owe that to Justin Wilson, Jules Bianchi et al.
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How Red Bull's F1 simulator really works


The introduction of a ban on most on-track testing a few years ago forced Formula 1 teams to adopt new and innovative ways to develop their cars.
Strapped in the cockpit of a 'virtual' car, any driver can now drive hundreds of laps around any circuit on the planet.
Essentially, an F1 simulator is made up of a chassis, or tub, attached to electromechanical actuators, controlled by powerful computers, which run the operating software and contain the computational models of the cars and the tracks.
In response to input from the steering wheel and the pedals, the actuators move the entire cockpit around, which simulates the acceleration, braking and lateral forces that the driver feels.
Andrew Damerum, business development engineer at Red Bull Racing, told us more about the team's driver-in-the-loop simulator.
"We use a real F1 chassis bolted to a Hexapod platform, which is used in most commercial simulators," said Damerum.
"The Hexapod is the only part of the device that we purchased. Everything else was produced by Red Bull Technology, including the pedal assembly, the seat and the steering wheel from the real RB11."
Sitting in the tub, the driver faces a curved, 180-degree projection screen. His hands hold the genuine steering wheel of the RB11, which is connected to the main computer.
The simulator is equipped with sensors that keep a record of every input of the driver. It is used by rookies to learn the new tracks, by the veterans to refresh their memory and, most importantly, to validate the set-up of the real F1 cars.
"We model the cars and the tracks in our systems," the Red Bull engineer explained. "These computational models are based on the actual mechanical, dynamic and aerodynamic characteristics of the RB11. So we can alter many more things than we ever could on the real car.
"We can change the pressure and wear of the tyres, the aerodynamic downforce of the car, the engine characteristics and the ground clearance of the chassis, we can simulate the drafting effect from other cars... basically, everything.
"Engineers also use the work done on the simulator to compare various settings. Does the car become twitchier with less downforce? How do the lap times compare?
"They can now answer these questions, and others, without ever having to do a single lap of an actual race track," Damerum added.
Various scenarios can be tested
Simulator sessions are structured like real, on-track test sessions.
"We prepare a test programme just like we'd do for a track day," he explained. "The driver starts with a few warm-up laps to get used to the distinctive environment of the simulator, especially if he hasn't been in it for some time.
"If it's a driver training session where we try to improve his technique [like they do with Toro Rosso's rookies Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz], we'll only do five or six laps at a time, and then we go over the recorded data and the engineer reviews these with his driver.
"If we're getting ready for a grand prix, we start the day with well-known, basic settings on the car. Once the driver is comfortable and his lap times are consistent, we start the test session.
"This includes rapid set-up changes so that the driver can feel how the mechanical and aerodynamic modifications alter the balance of the car. We can also simulate entire races or qualifying sessions. We can even reduce the grip of the track's surface and simulate light rain."
With four F1 drivers and several junior drivers to accommodate, the Red Bull simulator is used to the maximum, almost 24/7.
"We broke our all-time record in 2011 when all four drivers from both Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso used our facilities to race every grand prix on the calendar!" Damerum concluded.
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A driver's guide to surviving F1's silly season


From early May until the day before the Belgian Grand Prix, Valtteri Bottas was the source of much speculation. The same questions stalked him at each press conference: Had he signed a pre-contract with Ferrari? Would Williams demand a football-style transfer fee to release him? Could he be the next Finnish world champion? Driver market silly season, as it is known in Formula One, was in full swing and Bottas was the centre of attention ... albeit unwanted attention.
"You try to block it out as much as you can," he told ESPN the day after Kimi Raikkonen re-signed for Ferrari, muting much of the hype around Bottas. "It's not good to have too many other things in your mind other than driving.
"Ideally you would like to be at the race weekend not having to worry about anything other than the driving, that's the ideal, but it's not always the case and it was not the case in the last couple of months. For sure it was disturbing, but now that it's over I'm happy."
There's a strong belief in the paddock that there was more than just a grain of truth to the Ferrari rumours, so it may seem odd that Bottas was so relieved to hear Raikkonen had been given the nod to remain at Maranello. The stories undoubtedly raised his profile outside the paddock and he was suddenly being talked about on equal terms with world champions, but from Bottas' perspective the speculation was doing more harm than good.
"For sure, it doesn't do any good if there are rumours saying 'He wants to leave', because some people [at Williams] start to wonder if you still want to be here. Luckily it didn't have that effect, but it could for sure and it's never good if there are rumours like this. It was not fair whoever wrote that I had done a contract with Ferrari, it was not fair on me or Williams or Kimi."
It's clear Bottas is not interested in F1 politics, especially when he's at the centre of it. Fortunately he can leave that side of the sport to his management team, which reads like an all-star line-up in its own right and includes Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, ex-F1 champion Mika Hakkinen and expert F1 manager Didier Coton, who oversaw Hakkinen's career and helped guide Lewis Hamilton's a few years ago. The group is both hugely experienced and influential in the F1 paddock, meaning Bottas can turn up at race weekends with minimal distractions.
"I think for me it's better to leave it to the people who can do the job best, and that's my management. I trust my managers 100% and if there's an opportunity I know they are so good that they can guide me to the right place.
"I'm always interested to hear what's going on, that's for sure, but even then I think that sometimes they don't tell me things if they think it's going to make me worry or put pressure on me. Better to leave it to the professionals for those kinds of things.
"Didier Coton is the main guy because he is in a much more neutral position. As an example, if at some point it comes to negotiating contracts with Williams or whoever, Toto is not in the most neutral position to do that!"
The Wolff link inevitably hints at a Mercedes move in the future, but Bottas has had enough speculation for one summer and isn't interested in entertaining the idea in public. Yet, like every other driver on the grid, he is not immune to a bit of Mercedes envy. Seeing Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg qualify week-in-week-out on pole position, he admits he can't help but wonder what he would be able to achieve in equal machinery.
"Yes, but that is Formula One. I could feel that it's not fair, but it's Formula One. If you want to be in the best car then you need to prove yourself and need to either work well with the team and help make it into a winning team or maybe at some point you get the opportunity to move.
"But, again, for me it's not something that I really stress about and for me the best thing for my career is to focus on the driving, do the absolute best I can here [at Williams] and give 100% to the team. That's the best I can do for me and the team."
Since Williams' resurgence at the start of 2014, only three teams have won grands prix. Mercedes has taken the dominant share, with Red Bull picking up the scraps last season and Ferrari this season. Williams has yet to seize one of those opportunities for itself, but Bottas believes it is only a matter of time and he wants to be the one to do it.
"We are improving all the time and for sure everything doesn't happen just like that, you don't get a winning team suddenly. It's not only about the car, it's about everything else that's going on in the team.
"Slowly we have been getting there and getting close to being a really strong team and I believe we can win races if the opportunity is there. It has not been there yet, but I'm sure it will be at some point. I think we still have much more to achieve together"
With another season at Williams all but confirmed, Bottas can once again focus on the driving - just the way he likes it.
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Formula 1 needs an African expedition


Despite Formula One's seemingly endless global expansion in recent years, there remains a glaring hole in the calendar of the self-titled world championship: Africa, the second-largest continent on the planet, has not hosted a grand prix in the current century.

The omission has hardly escaped the attention of those responsible for assembling the calendar, and not a year goes by without some rumours of a future race in South Africa doing the rounds.
Speaking to South Africa's Eyewitness News, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone last week reaffirmed his desire to see Formula One back in the country, but said that he had yet to be met with a viable proposal for putting on a grand prix.
"If somebody sits in front of me today, with a pen, and wants to sign a contract there can be a race next year," the 84-year-old told EWN. "I think it's really a case of someone getting behind this and saying, 'we're going to make it happen' because unless somebody does that it will just bumble on like it is with a lot of interest, and when it really comes down to it nobody is really making the effort to do anything."
Asked to rate the chances of a Cape Town street race in the near future, Ecclestone said: "Impossible to say, because I think there's a big percentage of having another meeting and another conversation which will produce nothing. There's been various suggestions over where the race should be: the one that I thought was sensible for Cape Town and everything was a street race in Cape Town which looked as if it was all going to go ahead, and then didn't go ahead. Someone needs to be, and speak about this, who's in a position to make a commitment and there hasn't been anybody."
When F1 first raced in South Africa, it was the age of post-colonialism across the African continent. The 1960 South African Grand Prix (not a world championship round) took place in East London in a year that saw 17 former colonies in sub-Saharan Africa declare their independence. It was the beginning of an era of upheaval, of years of (often unstable) change that was incompatible with such frivolities as motorsport.
South Africa, with its apartheid regime, was a more familiar environment to the largely European racing community. Abhorrent governmental policies meant that a certain level of 'stability' (read: control) could be assured, while the privileged ruling classes had created for themselves a network of hotels, restaurants, and other entertainments familiar to the racing community. By 1967, F1 had moved from East London to the Kyalami Circuit just outside Johannesburg, its home until objections over apartheid saw the sport depart in 1985.
A short-lived return to Kyalami in the early '90s was F1's last sojourn anywhere on the African continent. In the last quarter century, mentions of Formula One in Africa have always been preceded by the word 'South', despite the fact that Africa in the 21st century boasts a wealth of countries capable of putting on a grand prix, many of which have active and vibrant motorsports communities, from the grassroots level through to professional competition.
Modern F1 does not require a purpose-built circuit, so the lack of Grade I FIA homologated race tracks on the continent is no obstacle. These days, the sport's requirements are easily accommodated by any nation currently equipped to host large numbers of tourists: adequate hotel stock; restaurants and nightlife opportunities to feed and entertain workers and spectators alike; decent international air connections; and a government willing to smooth the passage of the sport's freight in and out of the country.
According to the World Economic Forum's Travel and Competitiveness Report 2015, the top ten 'tourism-ready' countries in Africa are South Africa, Seychelles, Mauritius, Namibia, Kenya, Cape Verde, Botswana, Tanzania, Rwanda, Zambia. While it would be impractical for F1 to push for races in the Seychelles or Mauritius, the African continent has many more options for grand prix hosting than the broken record that is South Africa. Perhaps the time has come to start exploring them.
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My Favourite Race - Felipe Massa


Ask any Formula One driver which race means the most to them, and the majority who've competed on home soil will talk about the unrivalled experience of racing in their home Grand Prix.
Hometown-hero hysteria for the likes of Villeneuve, Senna, Mansell, Schumacher and Alonso down the years has shown how some racers naturally invoke the flag-waving passions of their countrymen, with many drivers able to use a combination of fan fervour and ingrained local knowledge of the circuit to raise their performance levels in their home races.
It's a rule that rings true for several drivers in the current field, but perhaps none more so than Williams Martini Racing's Felipe Massa. The veteran racer has competed in 11 Brazilian Grands Prix since his debut in 2002, with three pole positions, two victories and three further podiums demonstrating the Sao Paulo native's affinity with his hometown circuit.
Although Massa's win at Interlagos in 2008 was one of the most emotionally charged races in recent memory, it's a bittersweet memory given the fact that even in victory Massa was unable to prevent Lewis Hamilton claiming the World Championship at the very last corner. Instead, Massa nominates his other win at Interlagos, his second victory in Formula One at the 2006 Brazilian GP, as his favourite race – but the specifics are very much a secondary consideration compared to the overall connection Massa feels with his home race.
“The race that means the most to me is my home Grand Prix,” Massa tells “It's something you can't really explain, but when you see your people in the grandstand supporting you then the feeling you have is amazing – and for whatever reason the result you give is better.”
“When I won the first time there it was like a dream come true,” Massa continues. “It was something I had dreamed of all my life. Even with the podium I scored for Williams last year I felt the [emotion of the] crowd as if I had won the race. Sometimes you have a different feeling race by race, but it's always nice at home.”
For Massa, the experience of racing at home comes with its own unique heritage and pressures though. As a son of Sao Paulo, Massa continues a lineage of hometown racers that includes Ayrton Senna and Rubens Barrichello, and Massa remembers the feeling of watching his heroes from the grandstands as a young fan.
“I went there many times to watch races with Nelson Piquet, Ayrton Senna and even Rubens [barrichello] when I was still go-karting,” Massa says. “To be part of the race, and winning the race, that's why it was a dream come true – because I remember being in the grandstand.”
Growing up as a part of the raceday atmosphere meant Massa was well placed to understand the scrutiny placed upon Brazilian drivers around their home race, which is as intense as anywhere across the calendar.
“All through the week before you even go to the circuit the interest [from the press and sponsors] is amazing,” Massa explains. “Then you get to the track and you start to have the feeling from the fans, the expectation. It's something that grows every day, every day you are on TV, every day they're talking about you – whether you're first or fifteenth in practice.”
“The pressure of your home Grand Prix is a lot more. For whatever reason though it's an amazing pressure and it gives you more power. I managed to win two times in Brazil, almost three, and finish on the podium many times, so it was one of the best tracks in my career.”
It's not just a question of positive energy though. For Massa, performance at Interlagos is as much about feeding off the pressure and fan fervour as it is about applying innate local knowledge of the circuit. “I love the circuit, but it's also where I started. I know every little trick about the circuit,” Massa says. “You learn things when you are still a kid, and I was 15 or 16 when I drove there for the first time. For whatever reason you learn things in a different way, and you understand things about the track – whether it's dry or wet, you always know where to go.”
In 2006, Massa was able to apply that local knowledge to spectacular effect, taking a commanding pole position and victory on his first home race as a Ferrari driver. Having struggled on three previous home outings for Sauber, scoring only a solitary point in 2004, it was a different story once Massa had his hands on race-winning machinery.
The story of the weekend was the championship battle between Massa's team-mate Michael Schumacher, in what was thought to be his last race in Formula One, and Renault's Fernando Alonso, but Massa rose above the distractions to take a dominant victory.
“The race was perfect,” Massa recalls. “I started from pole, opening the gap every lap, pulling away. I remember the second half of the race was more difficult because you are alone, but then you look to the grandstand and you carry on. You can't lose concentration at any point during the race because you're doing an amazing job. [On the last lap] you feel everything. You hear everything. You enjoy everything – it was the best moment of my life.”
Massa had marked the weekend by sporting a pair of patriotic yellow and green Brazilian flag-inspired overalls, and he reveals that the race suit is one of two prized keepsakes that he's retained from the 2006 race. “I have a museum in my country house with everything there,” Massa tells us. “I have the green and yellow overalls which I wore, [but] the first place trophy though is the most special one in your heart.”
Despite 13 podium finishes in the intervening years, Massa hasn't stood atop the rostrum since that extraordinary day at Interlagos in 2008. Given his perennially strong home performance, what price the 34 year-old making an emotional return to the winners' circle at this year's Brazilian Grand Prix?
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F1 Italian Grand Prix: Massa hunts rostrum at 'very special' Monza


Felipe Massa is raring to go for the Italian Grand Prix and feels his Williams FW37 has the fight to challenge for the podium in his bid to repeat his third place from last season.
The Brazilian driver is a favourite with the Italian crowds after his eight years driving for Ferrari and hails the Monza circuit as a 'very special' place to compete. Last year Massa thanked the Italian fans for their respect after he grabbed his maiden podium with Williams since leaving Ferrari at the end of 2013.
“Monza is one of the best circuits to drive, the layout is quick with some very fast corners,” Massa said. “The local area is fantastic with good weather, great food and fans who are very passionate about Formula One. Standing on the Monza podium is very special and I'm lucky enough to have a lot of supporters in Italy.”
Massa is confident the Williams package will be suited to the Italian track and along with team-mate Valtteri Bottas looks forward to getting to grips with the team's dedicated aerodynamic package for Monza.
“As a team we have had some good results there, including our podium last year,” Massa said. “Our car should be suited well to the characteristics of the circuit but we will have to work hard to make sure that we leave Italy with a good result.”
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Honda F1 B-team can't be a 'distraction', says McLaren's Boullier


McLaren racing director Eric Boullier says a second Honda-powered 'B team' would only be viable if it was not a "distraction" to the partnership's main Formula 1 squad.
An affiliated customer Honda team has been mooted as an option for both speeding up the Japanese firm's engine development by doubling its presence on track, and to create race seats for McLaren proteges Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne while world champions Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button occupy the primary drives.
Although F1's rules allowing increasing possibilities for partnerships between teams - such as 2016 newcomer Haas's alliance with Ferrari - Boullier was cool about the prospect of McLaren or Honda striking such a deal.
"I'm not sure we would like to pay the price of having a distraction within Honda or giving some focus to this," he told AUTOSPORT.
"We have to balance things. We'll see in time.
"We are thinking and we are talking and we are brainstorming."
He underlined McLaren would do its best to help Magnussen - who raced for the team in F1 last season - and runaway GP2 leader Vandoorne.
"It's a nice problem to have - but a tricky one," Boullier said of McLaren's driver surplus.
"We will do our best for them."
Boullier is certain McLaren's current line-up of very experienced drivers - with Button and Alonso having been in F1 since 2000 and '01 respectively - is its best option during Honda's development period.
"Both have the credibility, and that is very important," he said.
"When each of them says something, everybody is listening and everybody is trusting them to the point where they will try to fix it. That's a big change.
"If you have two junior drivers, you will be tempted to teach them what to do rather than listening to what they want.
"When you are in the situation where we are now, it's good that Honda and McLaren listen to drivers.
"They give the guidance from the past on where we need to go."
But he stopped short of confirming an unchanged line-up for 2016. Alonso has an ongoing deal while there is an option to retain Button too.
"We are happy today with both drivers," said Boullier.
"I can't comment more than this and I don't want to create a wrong or bad or untrue expectation.
"We are happy with the situation today."
MIKA: Seriously... a B team? Perhaps get the A-team up and running first. Would be great for more teams but McLaren need to get their game on.
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Less attacking one-lap approach working for Mercedes F1's Hamilton


Lewis Hamilton believes his impressive Formula 1 form over one lap this season is down to him making a small adjustment, and reining in his attacking approach to qualifying.
The Mercedes driver has claimed 10 pole positions to team-mate Nico Rosberg's one this year, a stark contrast to 2014 when the score was 12 to seven in Rosberg's favour.
Hamilton has pressed home the advantage of starting in clear air, securing six victories and four other podiums to leave him 36 points better off than at this point last year.
"You are always adjusting and trying to improve," Hamilton, whose 48 career poles is 17 short of his hero Ayrton Senna's tally, told AUTOSPORT. "It's never ending.
"I will always drive well no matter what but you have to keep working at it.
"This year, it has been a little tweak in qualifying, a small tweak, but it's worked.
"It's not like I was a disastrous driver in qualifying. I was always quick in qualifying, but it was a bit more attacking back then."
Hamilton conceded 2014 was a "mentally trying" year as he suffered reliability issues and clashes with Rosberg both and off the track.
But this season, the car has been close to bulletproof - both drivers have finished in the points in every race this season - and Hamilton is revelling in the confidence a second world title has given him.
"Being on a high, naturally from winning the world championship, just released a lot of tension, especially after a lot of years of not winning the world championship," he said.
"Last year was a difficult year. I was a little bit unfortunate with some scenarios. It was a very mentally trying year.
"This year, I have just been able to enjoy driving. If anything, it has made it better.
"I don't feel that intensity when it comes to the race weekends. I don't feel any pressure.
"I spent a lot of time analysing my year and areas I want to improve this year
"I know more than ever what I am capable of."
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Lewis Hamilton says his approach to driving is that of an “old school” Formula 1 racer and he prefers traditional mechanical controls to the complex technology needed to pilot modern cars.

In a revealing interview with the Wall Street Journal, Hamilton said he favours just stepping straight into the car and learning as he hits the track rather than visualising the perfect lap beforehand.

He said: “I’m a real basic driver. There’s drivers over time that close their eyes and envisage a lap and all that stuff. Maybe that works for them. For me it doesn’t. Me, I drive. I drive the seat of the car.”


Hamilton also admitted that he prefers the stick operated gearboxes that are no longer commonly used in racing cars over the paddle operated systems found on the back of F1 steering wheels.
He said: “I’m generally more old school. I don’t like tiptronic [paddle gearboxes], even though I race with tiptronic. I like having a gear stick. I like three pedals. I like the heel-and-toe effect. You just have a little bit more control.”
Paddy Lowe, executive director (technical) of Hamilton’s Mercedes team, recalled that when the British driver joined his former team McLaren – where Lowe previously employed as a technical director – he told Hamilton not to worry about the engineering side of racing as the team already had “200 engineers.”
That approach enabled Hamilton to focus purely on driving the car and scoring the best results.
Lowe said: “We had a clean sheet of paper, a guy that knew this was a fantastic break, and knew that he didn’t know anything about racing in Formula One.”
Ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix, F1 introduced new start procedures that handed control of the clutch systems solely to the driver, and the team could no longer provide information on start performance. This was expected to favour drivers who spend more time focusing on car set-up and studying engineering data.
But on race day at Spa, it was Hamilton who made a perfect getaway, whereas his teammate Nico Rosberg, often said to be a more discerning driver, fell down the order off the start line.
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An “exceptional combined effect” of track debris and prolonged usage caused Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg’s high-speed tyre blowouts at last month’s Belgian Grand Prix, Formula 1 supplier Pirelli said on the eve of the Italian Grand Prix weekend.
“The events at Spa can…be put down to external factors, linked with the prolonged use of the tyres on one of the most severe tracks of the championship,” they said in a statement at the Italian Grand Prix.
The company proposed, with the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA), a study “to optimise the way in which circuits are cleaned”.
The FIA said it was satisfied with the thoroughness of the investigation, and Pirelli’s conclusions, and was willing to consider any further safety recommendations.
Drivers said separately that teams had been advised about tyre pressures and cambers for Monza, the fastest circuit on the calendar where cars hit speeds in excess of 360kph.
Rosberg told reporters he was confident he would have a safe car this weekend, but others remained sceptical about the conclusions.
“I don’t think anyone is happy with the fact that it’s a cut. Seb didn’t go off track, there are kerbs and you can use them,” Lotus’s French driver Romain Grosjean told reporters moments before the statement was issued.
“I don’t think it’s a good explanation. On the other hand, it’s very hard for Pirelli to replicate what we are asking of the tyres when they don’t have a current car and some testing to develop their tyres.
“We just need to find a way that the tyres don’t go off (wear excessively)”.
Pirelli said microscopic analysis on tyres used at Spa found no structural problem. That finding was backed up by further laboratory tests.
The company said 13 748 slick tyres had been used since the start of 2015 without problem.
However, a total of 63 cuts were found in the tread of tyres used over the Spa weekend compared to an average of just 1.2 per event in the previous 15 grands prix.
“All this indicates an anomalous amount of detritus on the track in Spa, with a consequent increased risk of encountering a foreign object,” Pirelli said.
Vettel’s left rear failure was consistent with a small piece of debris cutting the tyre’s structural parts, without penetrating the actual structure, which then failed due to prolonged use.
“Throughout the Spa weekend…cuts caused by debris were found on the tyres of other drivers, which damaged the construction but did not cause any failures,” Pirelli said.

Full official statement by Pirelli:

  • Technical analysis confirms the absence of any structural problem with the tyres used at the Belgian Grand Prix.
  • Tests have shown that the failures at Spa were down to the exceptional combined effect of debris on the track and prolonged tyre usage on a circuit that is particularly demanding.
  • At the Belgian Grand Prix there were 63 cuts in the tyres, compared to an average of 1.2 cuts per circuit in the previous 15 events (including races and tests)
  • In order to guarantee greater safety, Pirelli proposes with the fia to undertake a study to optimise the way in which circuits are cleaned.

Following the recent technical analysis carried out on the tyres used at Spa, Pirelli concludes that:

  1. The tests carried out by Pirelli on the tyres used at Spa have confirmed the absence of any structural problems. Pirelli has undertaken in-depth analysis on the materials and production processes used, utilising two different methods of tests and checks. Microscopic analysis, carried out on a large number of the tyres after the second free practice session, showed no signs of fatigue or integrity issues. The same result was confirmed for the tyres used during the race, which were cross-sectioned and analysed in Milan. Some of the tyres used in the race were subjected to a further laboratory fatigue test, passing all the assessments conclusively and confirming that there was no structural degradation or problem on-track. Since the start of 2015, 13,748 slick tyres have been used: including on especially severe tracks like Sepang, Barcelona and Silverstone. No problems have ever been discovered, underlining the fundamental solidity of the product.
  2. The events of Spa can therefore be put down to external factors, linked with the prolonged use of the tyres on one of the most severe tracks of the championship. The external factors are demonstrated by a total of 63 cuts found in the tread of the Formula One tyres used over the course of the Spa weekend, following numerous incidents that took place during the support races before the Formula One grand prix. In the previous 15 events (10 races and five test sessions) an average of only 1.2 cuts per event were noted. All this indicates an anomalous amount of detritus on the track in Spa, with a consequent increased risk of encountering a foreign object. If even a small piece of debris – made of carbon or any other particularly sharp material – penetrates and cuts the various structural parts of a tyre (which is obviously subject to high-speed use, and more susceptible if used for a prolonged period) without penetrating the actual structure, this can cause a failure that is different to that found in the event of a normal puncture, which is characterised by a loss of tyre pressure. And the former was the type of event seen on Sebastian Vettel’s tyre at Spa.
    As for Nico Rosberg, in whose case the tyre usage was less, the tyre held up – as the footage clearly shows – and the failure was not instantaneous. For four corners previously, an element of the internal structure of the tyre was visible, coming out of the tread pattern. This highlighted the existence of the damage and the consequent start of the tyre’s attrition. Throughout the Spa weekend (including practice, qualifying and the race) cuts caused by debris were found on the tyres of other drivers, which damaged the construction but did not cause any failures.
  3. At the end of qualifying on Saturday at Spa, following the exceptional number of cuts noted to the tyres, Pirelli pointed out the condition of the circuit to the FIA and asked for it to be cleaned, as well as for the teams to be told. The FIA reacted promptly in arranging for the track to be cleaned and advising the teams.
    Together with the FIA, Pirelli proposes a study to evaluate the way in which circuits can be cleaned most effectively.

MIKA: I smell BS - Ecclestone constantly covers Pirelli and as much as I hate to say it, I bet money that Michellin won't get Bernies support for a tire war or for an exclusive tender. Pirelli will remain and I bet the brown bag being passed around under the table isn't Bernies lunch.

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A message on the official F1 website under the auspices of Formula One Management (FOM), but clearly from the desk of Bernie Ecclestone supports Pirelli amid the Spa blowout saga.
In the aftermath of Pirelli’s statement (Above) which in effect points to debris and excessive tyre mileage for the blowouts which afflicted the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel (during the race) and Nico Rosberg (during practice), FOM has reacted by showing solidarity with the Italian manufacturer.
The crux of the FOM statement being that Pirelli was mandated by teams and just about everyone connected to the sport to spice up the show with their tyres. And they believe that this box has been ticked.
FOM official statement:
Pirelli has been a first class partner of Formula One during the five seasons in which it has been the Official Supplier of Tyres to the FIA Formula One World Championship and we continue to have full confidence in the safety, quality and suitability of its tyres.
Within the constraints of safety considerations, which are always paramount, Formula 1 encourages Pirelli to provide tyre compounds with performance limitations because tyre degradation contributes to the challenge and entertainment of a Formula 1 race.
When doing so, Pirelli provides strong guidance to competitors about any performance limitations of the tyres supplied. Competitors should heed Pirelli’s expert advice when setting their race strategy and tactics, and if they do not, it is at their own risk.
We are entirely satisfied that Pirelli was not at fault for any tyre-related incidents during the 2015 Formula 1 Shell Belgian Grand Prix.
Pirelli has offered to provide to each car a single set of tyres to last for an entireevent. While we know that they would be very capable of it, a race with no pit stops would be less exciting.
Thank you, Pirelli, for helping us to deliver excitement to Formula One fans!
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Williams Martini Racing has confirmed that the partnership of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas will be retained for a third season in the 2016 FIA Formula One World Championship.
Felipe joined the team for the 2014 season and has so far scored one pole position, at the 2014 Austrian Grand Prix, and four podium finishes. His experience of more than a decade at the pinnacle of Formula 1 is a valuable asset to the team.
Valtteri is one of the sport’s most promising talents, with seven podiums to his name in the last two seasons. He has developed as a driver at Williams from being a future prospect, through our development programme, to now being one of the most sought-after drivers on the Formula One grid.
Speaking about the announcement Felipe Massa said; “I am very happy to be a part of the Williams family. I am in my second year here and am so pleased to be staying as we are working very well together as a team. They respect me a lot and the results are there, and it has been so nice to be part of the big turnaround the team has seen since the end of 2013. I can’t wait to carry on and continue pushing even more for the team, and for myself. Thank you to Frank, Claire, Mike, Pat and the whole Williams team for their ongoing support and belief in me, as we build on what is already a great relationship.”
Valtteri Bottas added; “I am really pleased to be staying with the team for a fourth F1 race season. We have been getting stronger as a team and I look forward to what next year will bring, as I believe we can achieve even stronger results than what we have seen so far. I can’t wait for 2016, however I am still fully focused on this season as we still have plenty of challenges to achieve. I must thank Frank, Claire, Mike, the Board, and everyone at Williams for their continued trust in me.”
Sir Frank Williams, Founder and Team Principal, said; “I’m delighted to confirm that Felipe and Valtteri will be racing for Williams once again next year. Stability is key for any team to thrive in Formula One, so to be able to enter a third season with one of the strongest driver line-ups on the grid puts Williams in a fantastic position to continue its momentum towards the front of the grid in 2016.
Felipe’s blend of experience and raw speed is a rare attribute in Formula One. Felipe thrives in an environment where he is valued and can build a long-term relationship and we are delighted that he has become such an important part of the Williams family.
Valtteri has become such a staple of Williams that we are as excited about the prospect of his potential as a championship contender as we are about returning the Williams name to the top of Formula One.
Felipe and Valtteri quickly developed an exceptional working relationship from the beginning of 2014 and, while they remain fiercely competitive as rivals, they have always recognised the value of their collaboration in driving the team up the grid.
Their shared work has given the technical team at Williams the best possible guidance in how to deliver the performance needed to carry the team forward, and both drivers have played a pivotal role in the rejuvenation of Williams.
The successes we’ve enjoyed over the past two seasons would not have been possible without them, and they will play an essential role in the targets we aim to deliver in the future.”
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Sebastian Vettel is expecting a very different reception at his first Italian Grand Prix as a Ferrari driver.
On the podium in 2013, when he wore Red Bull colours as F1’s dominant and reigning world champion, the German was booed with a ferocity rarely seen in the sport.
It was a far cry from 2008, when the fresh-eyed rookie won against the odds at the wheel of a Toro Rosso with Ferrari power.
And now in 2015, the now 28-year-old is Ferrari’s new lead driver, with a faint chance at the world championship and gunning to wear red on the podium in front of swarms of adoring Tifosi.
“In 2008 for my first win, the fans were going crazy,” Vettel recalls, according to the Kolner Express newspaper. “I think they appreciated what I had done, particularly as an Italian team with the Ferrari engine.”
After that, however, the appreciation of the Tifosi waned dramatically, Vettel admitted to Turun Sanomat newspaper, “I was never very popular at Monza. Hopefully this weekend I will resolve those issues. When I won again with Red Bull I was just as happy but then I was booed.”
“It was then I realised what a big difference this track is when it comes to what car you take to victory at Monza. So I am happy now that the Tifosi are supporting me,” mused the four times world champion.
Apart from his maiden win at the venue in 2008, Vettel also won at Monza in 2011 and 2013 as a Red Bull driver.
This year the German has been on the podium seven times and lies second in the world championship standings, with Ferrari second in the constructors’ championship standings.
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The Italian Grand Prix weekend at Monza looks set to be another challenging affair for the beleaguered Lotus team.
After the court bailiff saga of Spa-Francorchamps, reports on Wednesday suggested smoother times are ahead now for the Enstone team, as its transporters had arrived at the Autodromo Nazionale for the Italian grand prix.
But until the black trucks rolled into Monza’s gates, Lotus was conspicuous in its absence, as every other team was already setting up.
Insiders report that the team, struggling for money as Pastor Maldonado’s nervous backers at PDVSA are reportedly holding back a payment, only arrived at lunchtime on Wednesday.
It is said that, in London, a group of creditors is set to present new claims at the High Court on Friday, which could mean a return to the F1 paddock for bailiffs.
Another rumour is that key components, supplied by disgruntled third parties, are missing at Monza, meaning that Lotus is targeting simply attending the event rather than properly racing, as it waits for Renault’s buyout decision.
Earlier this week it emerged that Formula 1’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone had stepped in to ensure staff were paid.
“I thought I should cover the wages of the people there to make sure they were all right and so that Lotus would at least get to Spa and, hopefully, to Italy,” said the 84-year-old Briton.
“But they really need to make progress with Renault now to make sure everything is OK,” he added.
Renault, the team’s former owners who won titles with the Enstone-based outfit in 2005 and 2006, are assessing their Formula 1options and whether to quit entirely or become more involved in the sport.
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Ferrari wants to re-enter the running to be Red Bull’s new engine supplier from the 2016 season onwards.
La Gazzetta dello Sport claims president Sergio Marchionne intends to visit the Monza paddock this weekend not only to support Ferrari, but to try to convince Red Bull to sign up for a supply of the Maranello-made ‘power unit’.
The news follows reports of a potential deal between Red Bull and Mercedes being delayed due to Toto Wolff not wanting to interfere with the existing contractual agreement between Red Bull and Renault.
“Renault and Daimler have a very friendly industrial relationship,” Wolff confirmed, “so we have said that while Red Bull and Renault have not resolved how to proceed, we will not even start a conversation.
“The situation is extremely complex with many decisions that must be taken. That must all be sorted out first,” the Mercedes chief added.
Amid the delay, Gazzetta claims Marchionne wants to re-enter the fray, perhaps with a new offer where Red Bull would enjoy the latest specification of Ferrari’s power unit rather than an earlier-touted ‘B’ version.
An additional benefit of a Ferrari tie-up for Red Bull would be that Toro Rosso, the energy drink company’s other F1 team, could also use Italian power.
La Gazzetta also said Marchionne intends to sound out the latest stars of F1, including Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz, with a view to potentially replacing Kimi Raikkonen beyond 2016.
Fascinatingly, a Red Bull-Ferrari tie-up would mean that all three aforementioned drivers would be powered by Ferrari next year.
Also interesting is the fact that Toro Rosso powered by Ferrari scored the Red Bull Racing organisation’s first ever F1 victory when Sebastian Vettel scored his (and their) maiden win at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix, at Monza.
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Mercedes will debut an upgraded power unit for the Italian Grand Prix weekend after opting to use all of their remaining seven engine development tokens ahead of Monza.
Title contenders Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will therefore thus use third power units of the season in Italy this weekend.
Mercedes are not revealing many details about the upgrade but have admitted it is a “tactical decision which have implications for the 2016 season, while enabling the use of a new fuel from Petronas.
Williams, Force India and Lotus will not be receiving the upgrades.
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