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Williams: Massa has proven doubters wrong


Claire Williams says she is thrilled to see Felipe Massa enjoying a 'renaissance' at Williams, saying the renewed success he has enjoyed with the team since joining in 2014 has 'proven everybody wrong'.

Replaced by Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari after eight seasons with the Scuderia, Massa opted to join Williams for 2014, a move seen as risky at the time on the back of the team's worst season in F1.
However, while many predicted the deal would signal the 'twilight' of Massa's F1 career following his disappointing results during the latter period of his Ferrari tenure, the 34 year-old has enjoyed a career of sorts in tandem with Williams' sharp upturn in form since 2014.
Now confirmed to enter a third season with Williams in 2016, Massa – now the 10th most experienced driver to have raced in F1 – has in particular turned heads in 2015 as he goes toe-to-toe with highly-rated team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
Indeed, on the back of Massa's second podium in the season at Monza, one that sees him cement fourth in the overall standings ahead of Bottas and Raikkonen, even Williams admits the results have exceeded their expectations.
“I think Felipe has done a brilliant job and by far. He has exceeded expectations with Williams and he is a great driver to have around,” she told
“I hate the word re-birth but renaissance. I was so pleased that he agreed to join our team. For us, where we were, for Felipe to take that risk on us, that was a real coup for Williams, to attract someone with his level of experience. I think what he's managed to achieve, it's like a new beginning for him, I think for both of us.
“We came together at completely the right time and I think there were doubters in the paddock who probably did think he was in the twilight but I think he has proven everybody wrong. It has been a new beginning; it's a team that suits him really well and that he has said many times that it's a team he feels comfortable in. He's a great personality fit for us.
Indeed, Williams says Massa's presence has had a massive impact on the team and its direction, saying his passion for F1 drives motivation.
“Personally, I enjoy working with him immensely and I know I everyone else does. I think when you have that kind of relationship, it's just easy. This is a very easy team and a very easy environment for the drivers, everyone here is just doing what they love and I think that permeates through everything we do.
“That provides a really strong stage for optimising performance capabilities we have in house.”
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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

Rosberg coy on Pirelli ‘gagging’ order


Nico Rosberg says his discussion with Pirelli over the course of the Italian Grand Prix was pointed towards ensuring there is better communication between drivers and the tyre firm, but refused to divulge whether he has been asked to keep criticism private.
Both Bernie Ecclestone and Paul Hembery alluded to the fact that drivers have been asked to go directly to Pirelli with their opinions following criticism from both Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel in the wake of tyre failures during the Belgian Grand Prix.
Leading to an investigation – which Pirelli said was down to circuit debris – and a meeting between Ecclestone, Pirelli and some drivers (Rosberg, Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso)at Monza, Rosberg says the primary objective was to ensure there is better communication going forward.
“It is just important because it is something that has been an issue in recent days. So much goes via the media, so it I important to get together and talk about it. I had a cut in Spa, which caused the blowout, then Sebastian also, so it was important to clarify everything and come up with a way to move forward.
“We all need to work together to ensure we improve. It is not one person, it is everybody together, because everybody can do better and we can all do a better job together. It was constructive with some improvements being proposed and those go in the right direction
Asked whether he has been reminded not to rebuke Pirelli in a public forum, Rosberg refused to confirm or deny it.
“I am not going to confirm that. We had a talk about how to go forward for everybody, because it has been a mess recently for different reasons so we had a chat and it was constructive. I am not going to confirm they said 'don't say anything' or whatever.”
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Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has revealed the tyres it will bring to the races in Singapore, Suzuka and Sochi, with the Russian Grand Prix being given softer tyres than in 2014.
Pirelli’s announcement comes after well-placed sources suggested to this website at Monza that the Italian company is likely to be confirmed as F1 tyre supplier from 2017 onwards, following a tender process against Michelin.
The decision to take the soft and supersoft compounds to Sochi comes after the inaugural event was characterised by a surprisingly small amount of tyre degradation turning the race into a straightforward one-stop strategy. Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg was even able to complete all but one lap of the race on a single set of medium tyres.
At the time, F1 drivers and team personnel complained that the race was too similar to the “old-style” of racing from the Bridgestone tyre-supply era, as the degradation was worth just 0.05sec/lap over the course of a stint, a factor not seen since the Japanese company was the sport’s sole tyre supplier.
Speaking after the event in Sochi last year, Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, said: “This is the first time that we have been on this surface, and this asphalt. The Pirelli tyre was bulletproof on this circuit, so hopefully they will take some lessons away from this that old style races like that are not exciting.”
McLaren driver Jenson Button, who finished fourth in the first ever Russian Grand Prix, echoed Horner’s view.
He said: “It was odd that we were able to run so many laps on a single set of tyres today. The Primes [tyres] felt like they could have gone on forever – it was a bit like going back to ‘old school’ racing in that respect.”
The nature of the track surface in Sochi led the teams down the one-stop strategy route as the very low macro roughness in the tarmac that meant slippery conditions on the Friday at the 2014 event, had a lot of grip on race day as more rubber was laid down as the weekend progressed. This also meant cars were going faster than had been anticipated and several teams were forced to adopt critical fuel saving measures.
In a bid to create more strategic variables in the 2015 Russian Grand Prix, Pirelli will bring the softest two tyre compounds it produces as, “the asphalt has not changed significantly since its debut last year,” according to the company’s announcement.
The tyres used in Singapore and Japan will remain the same as in 2014 – soft and supersoft for the Marina Bay race, and medium and hard for Suzuka – due to the street track layout in Singapore and Suzuka’s high-speed nature.
Looking further ahead, the Mexican Grand Prix, which comes two races after Sochi, is expected to be a concern for teams, as it looks likely to be the hardest race of the season on brakes.
The low air density of Mexico City due to its high altitude means it will be possible for the field to hit speeds of 360kmh with little chance for drivers to cool their brakes.
This could potentially have a significant impact on the race as Rosberg and his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton struggled with brake problems towards the end of the Bahrain Grand Prix in April.
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Ferrari is planning to roll out with a “completely different car and engine” for the 2016 Formula 1 season.
That was the claim made by president Sergio Marchionne as he visited the Monza paddock last weekend.
Marchionne told Sky TV that the Maranello team would have a “completely re-designed” car for next season, “[2016] is a completely different environment, we’ve been working on the 2016 power unit and the car for a while.”
“The difference between this season and other seasons is that we never abandoned. 2015 remained front and centre in our development work.”
“In 2016 all bets are off. We’re entering the season with a completely re-designed engine and car; and I feel relatively comfortable that Ferrari will be back and a true competitor, as opposed to being a catch-up artist.”
The Ferrari boss added, “I’m delighted with the work that Maurizio has done. Him, James Allison, the guys that have worked on the engine, they’re a bunch of people that have really worked their tail off over the last 12 months to remedy what I consider to be some real technical shortfalls.”
“Those issues are mainly behind us. I think we’re dragging along today some technical limitations about power development of the current power unit, because they’re issues that cannot be fixed in the time that we have.”
Many were surprised when they heard those words, as the regulations are not changing considerably for 2016, ahead of the expected rules revolution for 2017.
So with Ferrari already closing the gap on dominant Mercedes, might Marchionne have been stretching the truth?
It seems not. Indeed, while Mercedes deployed all 7 remaining engine development ‘tokens’ ahead of Monza, Ferrari’s upgrade cost them only 3.
“We believe that Ferrari now has the peculiarity of our system that you call the ‘magic button’,” said Mercedes’ Toto Wolff, referring to a power boost that is most often seen in qualifying.
Next, the remaining 4 tokens will be deployed by Ferrari later this year, and will pave the way for an engine architecture change that will also fundamentally shape the design of the 2016 car, Autosprint claims.
Team boss Maurizio Arrivabene commented: “We must also think about the work of the aerodynamicists. Today they have difficulties to continue their development programme because of the dimensions of the power unit.
“If you look at a photograph taken from above, you can easily see that our car has a wider rear end than the competition,” he added.
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Rival teams are reportedly increasingly unhappy with Ferrari’s new alliance with the all new 2016 entrant Haas F1 Team.
Ralf Bach, writing on his website f1-insider, says the two parties are working hard to skate as closely as possible to the current rules forbidding ‘customer cars’.
For its part, the American outfit Haas, already a Ferrari sponsor through Gene Haas’ machine tool company Haas Automation, is not hiding the extent of the collaboration.
“Of the teams that came into the sport in the last decade only one is left, so we thought it through and came up with some quite different ideas,” team boss Gunther Steiner told F1’s official website.
“You cannot do more of the same if the recent past has shown that more of the same doesn’t work,” he added.
Therefore, Haas is not only using a Ferrari power unit, but everything that can legally be bought from the Maranello team — including use of the wind tunnel. That came under the scrutiny of the FIA recently, but ultimately got the green light.
Perhaps suspecting that ‘customer car’ teams are now possible through the back door, it is rumoured that is why Mercedes is currently in talks with Manor about a tie-up for 2016.
And correspondent Bach reports that Red Bull also made a similar effort recently, but Christian Horner’s GP2 team Arden was not given an entry by the FIA.
“One thing is clear,” wrote Bach. “The competitors are furious with the Scuderia’s move.”
For instance, Bach claims that on 31 October, Haas will lay off 70 staff, all of whom will then return to work at Ferrari on 1 November.
Asked if Haas is effectively a Ferrari-B team, Steiner said: “It is difficult to say percentage-wise, but it is going in that direction.
“But don’t get me wrong, we still build our own chassis and bodywork.”
He said the Haas-Ferrari relationship is a bit like industrial partnerships in the world of road cars, where separate marques share a platform but “keeps their own identity”.
Steiner said: “Times have changed. Now nobody cares where you get your steering racks from or your brake pedals.
“But then I also agree that plain customer cars could be dangerous because you might end up with too many of the same cars — because everybody, of course, wants the best car,” he added. “But if you do your aero development yourself it is a good compromise at the moment.”
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Red Bull and Renault are now spiralling towards official divorce at a rapid speed, in what has become Formula 1’s War of the Roses.
It is said that even Carlos Ghosn, the Renault CEO, has accepted Red Bull’s move to end the contract, even though it will cost the energy drink stable EUR 88 million per year in Infiniti and Total sponsorship.
“We can say more in Singapore,” Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko told Speed Week, “or in Singapore there will be a meeting with Renault in which all these things are discussed and a solution is made.”
One of the topics to be discussed is how to handle the remainder of the 2015 season. Renault has been working on a ‘Sochi’ upgrade for its current turbo V6 power unit, but the French carmaker has subsequently delayed it until Austin.
Now, it is not clear if the unit will ever see the light of day. According to Red Bull chiefs, they want to weigh up whether the performance gains are worth more grid penalties.
But it is also rumoured that Renault will simply withhold the specification, so as not to feed Red Bull and Toro Rosso information that could be passed onto their new engine supplier, which will almost certainly be Ferrari.
“Naturally, it depends on what we do in the future,” Renault’s Cyril Abiteboul admitted. “If Renault decides to leave formula one, then we don’t need to bring an improved engine.”
Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo would obviously be disappointed to forego the update, likening it to looking forward to a birthday present that never comes.
However, the Australian said he is keeping up his motivation for now, even though watching the Red Bull-Renault divorce play out from the inside has been frustrating.
“It is difficult for a driver with these issues that do not relate directly to the racing, as there is not much you can do,” Ricciardo told Italy’s Motorionline.
“You just try to look at the positives and adapt to the situation,” he added. “In the end we (drivers) are still doing an amazing job, we’re travelling the world and well paid, so even when things aren’t great it’s still not so bad.”
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Marcus Ericsson says he has worked hard to emerge as Sauber’s most competitive driver in the latter half of the season.
Early in 2015, it was the Brazilian rookie Felipe Nasr with the firm upper hand at the Hinwil based team. It caused Swede Ericsson, who moved to Sauber after debuting for the ill-fated Caterham team, to re-focus.
“The car was fast but I was not. It was a very difficult start to the year for me. Basically I changed my way at looking at the whole weekend,” 25 year old Ericsson explained to Globo, revealing how he turned the situation around and is now consistently outpacing Nasr.
He not only worked harder with his engineer, but also looked carefully at the ‘non-driving’ aspects of formula one, including fitness and also mental health.
“I count on professional help,” said Ericsson. “I attend the Formula Medicine clinic in Italy, working on several areas.”
Formula Medicine is run by Dr Riccardo Ceccarelli, who has been working with F1 drivers for years, including as Toyota’s doctor.
“Marcus is now more mentally mature,” Ceccarelli said. “Drivers are now very young and take on huge responsibilities.”
For Nasr and Ericsson, the media spotlight may not be as bright as at the front of the grid, but the money brought to Sauber by their personal sponsors means they are central to the very survival of the team.
“Suddenly,” said Ceccarelli, “they realise not only their future but that of the team is in their hands. And, I repeat, they are very young.”
Better in all areas, Ericsson said he is happy to be ahead of his teammate for now, “I am in front now but I cannot relax. He’s trying, of course, to come back and beat me, so I have to keep working hard.”
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Former team boss and Bernie Ecclestone confidante Flavio Briatore is now almost certain that Monza’s future on the Formula 1 calendar is secure.
Meetings between race officials, Ecclestone and even the Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi broke last weekend without a contract beyond 2016 being signed.
Still, former Renault chief and long-time Ecclestone confidante and business partner Briatore is confident.
The flamboyant Italian also attended the Monza race, and he said: “From what I know, the grand prix will be at Monza for many years.
“A solution will be found as there is goodwill on the part of (Italian automobile club) ACI and Bernie Ecclestone.
“If I had to bet,” Briatore added at a Kenyan business forum in Milan, “I’d say it is 99.9 per cent that we will still have Monza for many years.”
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Reigning world champion and current points leader Lewis Hamilton is racing to the 2015 title, former Formula 1 driver Jean Alesi says.
That is despite the fact that the Frenchman’s former team, Ferrari, is now steadily closing the technical gap to Mercedes.
“I see a much better Ferrari than in previous years,” 51-year-old Alesi, who attended the Italian grand prix, told RTL 102.5 radio.
“Unfortunately Kimi (Raikkonen) got a bad start otherwise we would have seen both cars on the podium.
“But you have to say that at the moment Mercedes is untouchable and it is no exaggeration that Hamilton has his hands on the title already,” Alesi added.
“There are still many races to go, but Hamilton is always there, he has a super-winning car and as a driver he also makes a difference,” the veteran of over 200 grands prix said.
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Formula 1 winner and former team owner Gerhard Berger says one of F1’s biggest problems today are the rules.
Ten-time grand prix winner says he now watches on television but finds the races hard to follow due to complicated regulations.
“We are all so fond of a four-way battle for victory,” Berger told Austrian Servus TV, “not an endless discussion the next day about a stupid tyre issue.”
Berger is referring, of course, to the long post-Monza stewards enquiry about tyre pressures that almost cost Lewis Hamilton victory.
The great Austrian blames the rules, not Mercedes.
“The error was due to the precise execution and a precise definition of the regulations,” said Berger, who until recently served as a single seater commissioner for F1’s governing FIA.
“But when a tyre should be measured and under what circumstances should not be the main theme of a race weekend,” he insisted.
“The rules are so complex,” Berger continued, “and there are specialists in the teams who are occupied only with finding grey areas.
“My criticism does not apply to Mercedes,” he added, “but to the FIA, who write the rules, which should instead be as accurate as possible so that the teams cannot find these gaps.
“I personally know all the people who write the rules, and they are good people,” said Berger. “But it seems to me that sometimes they no longer see the forest for the trees.
“They are constantly trying to facilitate the racing, for example with this adjustable rear wing, but then they wanted these contemporary regulations with all the hybrid systems and then said that you (the teams) can’t develop them. For me, it seems that everything doesn’t fit together,” he added.
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“If drivers respect track limits there’s no problem” – Spa responds to Pirelli over ‘debris’


The track safety representative at Spa-Francorchamps has responded to Pirelli’s claim that the spate of tyre failures seen during the F1 race weekend was caused by the amount of debris on the circuit.
According to Pirelli “an anomalous amount of detritus on the track in Spa” caused a large number of cuts and contributed to Sebastian Vettel’s blow-out on the penultimate lap of the race.
However Spa track safety chief Johan Aerts insisted the Belgian circuit is “fast and safe”.
“Pirelli suffers from their tyre problems,” Aerts told F1 Fanatic. “In fact, in the supporting races there were no troubles. In fact, the FIA is controlling in the morning and midday the track. Also the [safety Car] drivers and Medical [Car] drivers are reporting.”
“Each morning with a track day or a racing day, the track is fully clean,” Aerts added. “The track is always in a good shape. The marshals are also cleaning if necessary on the spot of an incident.”
F1 race director Charlie Whiting has the option of using a track brushing machine during Safety Car periods at Spa. According to Aerts the device is already used during World Endurance Championship events but, he said, “until now it wasn’t used with a Safety Car” in F1.
However Aerts believes the problems Pirelli experienced at Spa was related to the drivers going beyond the boundaries of the circuit.
“If the drivers respect the track limits – between the white lines – there’s no problem,” Aerts added. “Probably, if you go to far on or even over the kerbs, there’s a possibility to get tyre problems.”
For the F1 weekend a new kerb was installed at Raidillon to discourage drivers from cutting the corner. However it was removed on Friday evening following complaints from drivers.
Following the change drivers were warned they would be reported to the stewards if they were suspected to have gained an advantage by cutting the corner or exceeding track limits at turn 15. During the race Daniil Kvyat was heard being given such a warning on the team radio.
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Williams, Bond and Aston Martin


In Monza Williams were asked by Joe Saward a Formula 1 reporter about a potential link with Aston Martin and was told by someone who would know that this is not even being discussed. Elsewhere I read suggestions that it is. There is no doubting that Williams, Aston Martin and Martini is a good fit, if you add one more element: Bond, James Bond.
For many years Aston Martin’s association with the fictional James Bond character has been a primary source of advertising for the company, which has provided vehicles for most of the Bond movies. The same is true with the upcoming Bond movie Spectre, which opens at the end of October.
Bond drives the latest Aston, while the villain drives a Jaguar hypercar (designed and built by… Williams). There may not be a direct connection between Eon Productions (which makes the Bond movies) and Williams, but there is certainly potential. Bond, of course, is a brand that is all about Britain, he is a glamorous figure and he drinks Martini. You can see the connections.
Aston Martin does not have the kind of money that buys significant space on an F1 car these days. Still, money is money and if some is on offer to Williams and there is white space on a car there is no logical reason not to take the loot. Williams is by far the best option for Aston Martin and it is doing well.
Still, if nothing is happening, nothing is happening.
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Wurz: Escaping F1's fastest crash still spurs safety drive


Alex Wurz says the ongoing memories of being able to walk away from Formula 1's fastest ever impact - 300km/h – acts as a permanent reminder for him about why he will never give up pushing for better safety.
The Austrian was lucky to escape uninjured from a testing accident at Paul Ricard in May 2005, when the right rear tyre on his McLaren MP4-20 exploded through the flat out first chicane.
With little time to react, Wurz slammed into the barriers on the left hand side, before spinning across a run off area and hitting another wall. Amazingly, he was not hurt.
"It was apparently the fastest impact speed – more than 300km/h – where a driver walked away uninjured," Wurz told
Sticker error
F1's recent weeks have been dominated by talk about tyre safety, in the wake of the issues that Pirelli suffered at the Belgian Grand Prix.
But Wurz is only too aware that tyre failures are not a new phenomenon, and were the reason behind his accident.
"I remember that moment being the highlight of the tyre test when we had a tyre war," he said. "I had 10-15 sets of tyres to choose for Canada, and this was set one.
"I knew I could produce the lap record, having done it in the morning, with a slow out lap because the tyres were easy to switch on. So it was only when I went past the start-finish line that I was pushing hard.
"At the time, these were directional tyres so could only run in one direction. For some reason, the marketing people from Michelin decided to change the position of the logos – and this specification of tyre was produced under the new marketing guidelines.
"But the tyre directional sticker fell off before it was mounted. So it was put on the wrong side of the car – meaning it was run in the opposite direction to which it was designed for. So the first time it got a proper load it just collapsed.
"I had no chance to react and things happened so quickly. After the first impact, I tried to brake but by then the car had no front end, so the brakes did not work.
"I was then spinning towards the next wall, but having no brakes, and worrying that my legs would be exposed, I was just hoping that I would not crash head first again. Luckily I was okay.
"The car was destroyed though and couldn't be repaired. So my test my over; I went home and went kite surfing the next day instead."
Non-stop effort
Wurz, who is now chairman of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA), is heavily involved in promoting improved safety in F1 and all levels of motor racing.
He is well aware that danger can never be removed, but says that it is important the sport evolves to improve things when issues are highlighted.
"Crashes happen and by its very nature motor sport is dangerous," he explained. "I think everyone who gets in a car accepts that. If not, you had better stop racing.
"But like in the aerospace industry, we have to reduce the probability of crashes. That's why you need proper crisis management and the evolution of designs – which often happens when we face accidents like those suffered by Justin [Wilson] or Jules [bianchi]."
Keeping cars fast
Wurz is confident that the FIA does everything it can to help drive safety forwards, although you will never get to a point where drivers can be fully happy.
"No one can ever be happy to deal with such things, but we are satisfied with what is going on," he said.
"We urge people to be on it, using their best knowledge, and we definitely support all the efforts for safety.
"The fans shouldn't think we are chickens for wanting safer cars. It's not the case but, through the DNA of F1, if there is a problem thrown at you, you have to solve it: so we can keep racing the fastest cars and not slow them down."
Closed cockpits
The death of Wilson last month has reignited the debate around closed cockpits, with the FIA set to conduct tests over the next few weeks on new concepts.
Wurz is aware that opinions in the paddock are divided on whether F1 should go down the closed cockpit route, but he says he is personally in favour of the idea.
"I am a fan of the closed cockpit," he said. "But I have to trust the expertise of the researchers.
"I hope that the traditionalists, who are widespread in motorsport, accept that the sport is evolutionary and that we have already come a long, long way to make the cars the safest in the world.
"But we can still do better, which is good for the sport and good for the motoring industry. And if we have closed cockpits, I am sure we can also make sure we keep the coolest and sexiest F1 cars."
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Magnussen: My F1 experience is a huge asset


McLaren reserve Kevin Magnussen believes that the invaluable Formula 1 experience he has gained at the team over the past few years would be a huge help to any squad on the grid.
The Dane is determined to return to the F1 cockpit next year, having lost his seat at McLaren to Jenson Button this year following a last-minute change of heart by his bosses.
After confessing that he is doing 'everything' he can to return to racing in 2016, he is convinced that he has gained far more knowledge that many people realise with the job he is now doing.
"I have lots of experience that can benefit any team," he told "I've been driving McLaren F1 cars since 2012.
"I have had a year racing in F1, I have worked with McLaren for six years – and professionally at F1 level for three years.
"I was official test driver, then racing and then this year. I've learned a lot and more than people realise. I am sure that experience will be beneficial for anyone."
Checking options
Magnussen remains in contention for a race seat at McLaren for 2016 if the team elects not to retain Jenson Button.
He has also been strongly linked with the new Haas outfit, which has made clear that it wants experienced drivers on board.
Although drawing short of revealing which teams he is speaking to, Magnussen says that his only focus is on competing again.
"I am a racing driver, and I want to race in F1," he said. "I haven't got to the top step yet – I need to do, I want to do that and I will do that.
"I have had a really good time at McLaren since I joined as a young guy, and I've learned a huge amount and they have done so much for me.
"It would be great for me to race here, but they have two world champions and they are both doing a very good job. You can see they are so close in every race and every qualifying.
"If there isn't a place here – then I still want to be racing. There has been interest from other teams, they've reached out, and that is good to see. It shows I should be on the grid somewhere.
"I cannot identify any of the teams who have approached, but Haas does sounds like an interesting project – and something that could be good for the future."
Behind the scenes
The lack of in-season testing means that Magnussen does not have the chance to show off his qualities behind the wheel, but says that his efforts are being appreciated behind the scenes.
"I've tried to help the drivers and the team in the best way I could," he said. "There is no way I can come in and do a miracle and solve everything, but I can help and provide a bit more information from a drivers' point of view.
"For example, the race drivers are busy and they need to take big decisions about set-up and stuff, so they don't always get time to analyse the on-board videos of the other cars on the grid; or their own stuff.
"I can go through and analyse; I have all the time in the world! I think that has been very helpful for the engineers and drivers."
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Singapore to bring Red Bull car to life - Ricciardo


Daniel Ricciardo has warned rivals that the pace of his Red Bull car will be brought to life at the Singapore Grand Prix, with it having made big progress in recent weeks.

Although the Milton Keynes-based team is still hampered by a power deficit, big strides in its aerodynamic performance have resulted in its chassis being one of the best on the grid again.
And that has left Ricciardo upbeat about the potential of the package around the Marina Bay circuit, where power is not such an important factor.
"I don't want to get too excited, but we can all go in there with some confidence," he said.
"I think the car has got better and better in the last few races, and Singapore will bring our car to life.
"Hopefully we can challenge Ferrari for a podium."
Italian GP encouragement
Ricciardo recovered from starting at the back in Monza to finishing eighth, a result which he thinks felt as good as a podium.
He had started on the prime tyre and ran a longer first stint than anyone else, giving himself soft tyres for a sprint to the flag at the end. He relieved Marcus Ericsson of eighth at the last corner.
"It was cool, it was a bit like last year," said Ricciardo. "We had good pace at the end, and we were able to go longer on the first stint. I think we could have gone longer again, but I think we had to cover Daniil [Kvyat] coming out. He pitted a few laps earlier.
"Anyway, I was happy with the car. We know we struggle on the straights, it was always going to be hard to get in the top 10 with our package, but the chassis itself again I'm really pleased with, it's handling well.
"To get in the top eight – I said at the start of the weekend if we can crack the top eight it will be like a podium for us.
"To finish top eight exceeded our expectations, to say the least. I just got Ericsson on the last corner, much to his dismay I guess. My smile got bigger.
Start boost
Ricciardo also feels that the new start procedures that came in to force at the Belgian Grand Prix may also be helping.
"Some other positives, since we've had the new start procedures, I don't know if it's luck, but both my starts have been pretty awesome. I'll take that as well as a positive from the weekend."
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Have tyre controversies opened the door for Michelin?


Michelin could have a surprise late opportunity to win the F1 tyre tender from 2017, despite Bernie Ecclestone making his preference for Pirelli clear at Monza last weekend.

In the wake of the blowouts at Spa, and the minimum pressure saga at Monza, it is understood the FIA is considering a reappraisal of Pirelli's suitability.
If the Italian company does lose the FIA backing on technical or safety grounds, then in theory Ecclestone would not be able to choose Pirelli, and the bid would be won by the then only candidate Michelin.
Tender system
In essence the way the tendering system works is that the FIA determines whether the applicants are suitable candidates, and that information is passed to Formula One Management. Ecclestone makes the final call, in response to commercial considerations.
It's long been apparent that Bernie and the FIA have different views about who should get the deal, with FIA president Jean Todt leaning towards the French company, and Ecclestone supporting Pirelli.
Sources suggest that the FIA has become increasingly frustrated with Pirelli.
The Spa controversy put a negative spotlight on the relationship, and tensions between the tyre maker and the FIA were further ramped up in Monza, where there was some confusion over the measurement of minimum starting pressure.
Pirelli supported the last-minute checks made by the FIA on the top four cars on the grid, only to later admit that its own measurements are usually made at a much earlier stage, when the tyre blankets are still connected.
Pirelli thus had to agree that it could not contest the low figures found on the two Mercedes cars, as the team had complied with its usual procedures.
FOM backing
Meanwhile, in the light of the Spa controversy, FOM put out a statement indicating its support for Pirelli and underlining the fact that the current supplier has been requested by the sport to make tyres that degrade.
Asked by if this support was a clear sign that Pirelli will get the tender Ecclestone said: "Sure, we're not going to let them go, they're doing a good job. I said to them a long time ago I don't want a tyre that's going to last the whole race.
"They do the very best they can with what they've been asked to do. They can make a tyre that you
can put on in January and take off in December."
Complicated choice
The tender process has been complicated by the fact that is it not a straight fight between the two rivals, because Michelin has specified that it will only enter if F1 switches to a low profile format.
Teams are resistant to the idea because that will mean a total redesign of their brake and suspension systems.
However, others point out that such a challenge could easily be added to the large package of rule changes coming for 2017, including wider tyres, which would in any case force the teams to adapt.
In addition teams have doubts about the potential pace of low profile tyres, at a time when there is a move to make the cars faster. However, Michelin apparently claim this is not the case.
Degrading tyres
The other contentious aspect is that Michelin is believed to want to create robust tyres that don't degrade, with a prime good for 75 per cent of the race, and the option for 50 per cent, and one pitstop as the default choice.
It remains to be seen how such a policy would work given that it is now generally accepted that degradation is good for the show.
"We want tyres that are going to make the driver very tired when he's done racing. We are not against pit stops or a good show," Michelin's Pascal Couasnon told in June.
"I would argue that Le Mans over the last several years has been an incredible show, with great technology tyres. So it's possible to have a show, and we can have pit stops with a tyre that allows you to drive 100 per cent of the time.
"You could say for example you have two specs, and with Spec A for example you have 'x' laps maximum, and you use them the way you want. Or within 'x' number of races you've got that many laps."
The decision is now in the hands of the FIA and Ecclestone.
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Honda working on deployment weakness for 2016


Honda boss Yasuhisa Arai says the manufacturer is working to rectify Energy Recovery System (ERS) deployment weaknesses on next year's power unit.
The first cracks in the McLaren-Honda partnership started to show at the Italian Grand Prix, with reliability and performance still a problem with the power unit. Honda has struggled with ERS deployment - which can account for upwards of 160BHP on straights - for much of the season and this was brutally exposed at the Monza circuit as Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso quickly fell backwards through the field after the start.
Despite mounting pressure Arai has remained defiant about Honda's ability to fix the current power unit problems.
"We have already found out where our weak point is on the power unit, so we have already started next season's development," Arai said. "Our weak point is the deployment, which our two drivers already knew.
"We are one team, we do our best as McLaren-Honda. I know where the weak point of the power unit and also McLaren do their best to make a good car."
Arai says Honda will also be targeting an ERS improvement before the current season is out.
"I cannot say anything about future tokens. We have made the effort but it's very difficult because of the reliability issues. Of course we want to change that for next year but we want to get the small number of gain for the deployment at every race."
The Honda boss was forced to defend his position at Monza during a brutal grilling from journalists in attendance. Asked if he had apologised to either driver for this year's failings, Arai said: "I always talk with both drivers."
Pressed again on whether he had apologised for costing Button and Alonso time at the end of their illustrious careers with an uncompetitive engine, he replied: "Why? Why? I don't answer."
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Lewis Hamilton plans collaboration with rapper Drake


Lewis Hamilton appears determined to follow in the footsteps of 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve in more ways than one.
After dying his hair blonde for the Italian Grand Prix, Hamilton is set to emulate Villeneuve again by releasing his own music. The two-time world champion is known to spend a lot of time away from the track in the studio recording for fun.
Hamilton has confirmed a musical project with Canadian rapper and friend Drake is in the pipeline.
"A collaboration with Drake is on the cards," Hamilton is quoted as saying by the Daily Mirror. "We will release something at some point but I'm just recording for fun at the moment."
Hamilton's activities away from the race track have come under scrutiny since he joined Mercedes, with his Instagram posts during the summer break attracting criticism from some detractors that he was not fully focused on his F1 career. However, it appears to have had little impact on his on-track performances, with Hamilton seemingly on course for a third world championship.
He will hope his musical venture will be more successful than Villeneuve's 'Private Paradise' album, released in 2007, which was a commercial flop.
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Boullier worries McLaren slump may drive sponsors away


Eric Boullier says McLaren may not be able to afford another season at the back of the grid from a financial perspective as it could make the team unattractive to big money sponsors.
Boullier feels McLaren's financial situation is a primary concern of chairman and CEO Ron Dennis and he would prefer to concentrate on the team's efforts on track, but says he is aware how strong an impact the F1 team's poor performance is having on the its financial situation.
McLaren has struggled since partnering up with Honda and its underwhelming power unit with rumours spreading that sponsors Johnnie Walker and Santander are set to pull out of deals at the end of the year.
The McLaren racing director says one season of poor results won't affect his team too badly but has serious concerns if it were to drag on into 2016.
“If I can give you a short answer, I am sure the brand has not been damaged yet as there is such a strong record from McLaren over many, many years,” Boullier said. “I don't think there is direct damage in terms of brand itself but, in terms of sales and revenue, we can't finish in the same position or there will be a direct loss in terms of revenue.
“This is a business-driven sport and if you can't bring and find new sponsors there is obviously a damage. You can't quantify it in millions but it will be more difficult to bring more sponsors in if you don't show that you are a team on the move and get in the points quickly.”
McLaren drivers' Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso have only been able to rack up 17 championship points between them so far this season, eight points adrift of eighth place Sauber in the constructors' championship, with the team's best result coming in the shape of Alonso's fifth in Hungary.
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Ferrari vows to keep developing to end of 2015


Maurizio Arrivabene says it is Ferrari's intention to keep applying updates to its car with a view to making incremental improvements through to the end of the season.
Though it hasn't been able to consistently match the Mercedes' in 2015, Ferrari has proven its most complete rival since the start of the season and has largely stayed with the German team as in-season developments are applied.
It is a method that has drawn praise from Kimi Raikkonen, who said he was impressed by the 'small steps' and it is one team principal Arrivabene is keen to stay in place until the close of the year as it considers how to spend its four remaining development tokens.
“I always said our development in terms of the car and in terms engine tokens, our strategy was to kind of have a gradual development,” he said. “We spent a couple of tokens here, we were satisfied about the performance of the engine. We have to work also on the reliability of the engine, from now till the end of the season.
“Now it's a kind of tactical decision on what we want to do with the rest of our tokens. For sure, we are still in development for this car, we don't give up and we will continue till the end of the season. 'Car', it doesn't mean engine, it means the overall car.”
With Mercedes using up all seven of its remaining development tokens with its Monza upgrade, Ferrari and Honda still have 4 remaining. Renault – which began the year with the most tokens to spend – still hasn't used any, with 12 to use over the remaining seven races.
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McLaren keeping Button in F1 would be 'a good thing' - Alonso


Fernando Alonso believes it would be "a good thing" if McLaren retained Jenson Button for the 2016 Formula 1 season.
McLaren has an option on the 2009 world champion for next year, and although the team intends to keep him, according to its racing director Eric Boullier, Stoffel Vandoorne and Kevin Magnussen are pushing for the seat alongside Alonso.
Alonso feels he has enjoyed a strong working relationship with Button, and would feel positive if it continued into next year.
"Jenson has been quite good all season," said Alonso. "We've been working together very closely to help the team.
"The experience Jenson has, it been very, very important for the upgrades we have brought to the car, in terms of the power unit and aerodynamics.
"So if Jenson stays I think it's a good thing for the team.
"If they decide they need to change something there will be some advantages and some disadvantages for the team, I guess.
"The only thing I can say, the only thing I know for sure is working with Jenson has been very, very productive for the team and for myself, learning a lot of things.
"Working with the other guys, I cannot tell much.
"But they will make the decision they think is the best for the team and hopefully they do it before Christmas time."
Button had to wait until December last year for McLaren to confirm him alongside Alonso for 2015, and he said after Sunday's Italian Grand Prix he hoped for a decision "either way" in "the next few weeks".
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Pastor Maldonado calm about future if Renault swings F1 axe


Pastor Maldonado will have no qualms if shown the exit door by Renault should it take over Lotus, but is confident of keeping his seat for the 2016 Formula 1 season.
The French manufacturer is close to concluding a deal and taking a majority 65 per cent stake in the Enstone-based team, but question marks remain over its F1 driver line-up.
With Lotus, Maldonado and team-mate Romain Grosjean both have contracts for next year, but should Renault come on board their futures may alter.
It is understood Renault would aim to retain Frenchman Grosjean, but given its alliance with oil company Total, that would conflict with Maldonado's $50million-per-season-sponsor in PDVSA.
Despite that, Maldonado said: "We have a contract until the end of next season, so whether Renault comes or not, it should all be OK.
"If Renault comes, welcome. I really hope it's the best for the team.
"If they don't want me in the team, that's fine. Life is like this, but the information I have is completely the other way.
"I think they still want to work with me, and that is all of the information I have at the moment."
Given Maldonado is under contract to Lotus that has prevented him from talking to other teams, placing his future in F1 on the line.
Maldonado added: "Let's see what happens in the next few weeks with the team.
"It's difficult to say when we are not 100 per cent sure about their plans, and if Renault is coming or not."
Suggested to Maldonado it was an odd position for him to be in, he replied: "It's normal. Formula 1 is like this. This is part of my job.
"At the moment I'm quite quiet; it's looking good.
"There is a lot of rumour from your side, but not from the team and from me."
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Williams facing F1 engine dilemma regarding upgraded Mercedes


The prospect of receiving the upgraded Mercedes Formula 1 engine could create a dilemma for Williams in the final grands prix of the 2015 season.
Mercedes spent seven development tokens on the power unit revisions it brought to the Italian Grand Prix, with just factory team drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg getting the upgrade for Monza.
The German firm's customer teams - currently led by Williams - remain unsure when they will receive the new version of the engine.
Williams fitted a third fresh engine each to Valtteri Bottas's and Felipe Massa's cars for Monza, giving them one more penalty-free change before the end of the season.
Head of performance engineering Rob Smedley wants that to coincide with the switch to the upgraded Mercedes, but he admits there is no firm indication yet of when or if Williams will receive it.
"Obviously the works Mercedes team has had a power unit upgrade which we would dearly love in the back of our car as well," he said.
"That seems to have been a good step - Lewis was certainly going very quickly.
"We've got a new power unit to take before the end of the year.
"Whether that is the new specification I can't really tell you, but it's under discussion at the minute.
"If we get it before the end of the year, that would be a great advantage to us."
Williams is currently on target with its engine usage strategy for 2015, having mirrored the works Mercedes squad in taking new engines for Canada and Italy.
"We're pretty much right on what we set out at the start of the year," Smedley said.
"We've had very few hiccups in that. We're sensibly pushing the boundaries.
"We're on a strategy at the minute where we won't have any penalties to the end of the year if nothing changes from here on in."
Massa agreed that the new Mercedes could be a major asset to Williams.
"It looks a really big improvement," he said. "I have no idea when we're going to have it. I hope we will have it."
Fellow Mercedes customer team Lotus is also awaiting news from its supplier on when or if it might get the upgrade.
Deputy team principal Federico Gastaldi told AUTOSPORT: "I don't know to be honest. We are waiting to hear from them.
"It's not in our hands. We need to understand when they are ready."
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Pirelli to hold regular meetings with Formula 1 drivers


Pirelli is to hold monthly meetings with Formula 1 drivers in a bid to avoid a repeat of the issues that followed the Belgian Grand Prix.
Led by Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, the condemnation resulted in clear-the-air talks between Pirelli, F1 commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone, a number of leading drivers including Vettel, and the key team principals last Friday at Monza.
It was a rare conversation between Pirelli and the drivers, which is to now take place far more frequently.
"We need more communication so we have agreed we will meet on a more regular basis with the drivers, teams and promoter to discuss how we go forward in the sport," said Hembery.
"It's very important we are all working in the same direction and are all given the ability to deliver what is being asked, so we need to take on their points of view and put them in front of all the other parties.
"If there is a big [difference of opinion] then we need to put them all back in a room again and say, 'Hold on! We've this group wanting this, this group wanting that', so you really need to give us some clear indication as to what you want."
Hembery has confirmed any driver can attend, and there is no pressure on the drivers to make an appearance.
The reaction towards such future meetings is positive, with Hembery adding: "We're guilty of not communicating enough to the drivers ourselves.
"But there is quite a willingness from the drivers to work with us, no doubt."
With the rules changing substantially for 2017, when wider tyres come into force to help make cars five to six seconds per lap quicker, Hembery feels such talks will be particularly crucial.
For now, going into 2016, Hembery has confirmed Pirelli will continue to do "what the sport wants", which was "part of the conversation [on Friday]".
Hembery added: "It's pointless some drivers wanting this, the sport wanting something else, and the public something different altogether again.
"That discussion needs to be an open discussion while we're defining what's going to happen in 2017.
"Somebody might not like what will be decided, but if that's the way the sport is going then you have to buy into it, and there will be far more dialogue
"You might not agree with the objective, but if the sport is going in a direction then we all need to know we are all looking at the same future."
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F1 fans will soon be able to visit a new heritage centre at Silverstone, due to open in 2018 and today the circuit is offering those fans a chance to shape plans for the centre.
The project is underway and the circuit is asking Formula 1 fans to take part in a survey and give their opinions.
Shortly before the British Grand Prix in July, the British Racing Drivers’ Club, owners of Silverstone, announced it was seeking half the budget, £9.1m, in funding for the new centre, which will be housed in Silverstone’s only remaining World War Two aircraft hanger.
The BRDC has already secured £9.1m from the Heritage Lottery Fund but needs to raise the rest of the money itself and hopes to have the finances for the new centre in place by 2016.
The project is then scheduled to open to the public in 2018, a date chosen to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Silverstone hosting a Grand Prix.
The heritage centre will feature exhibitions and interactive displays from throughout Silverstone’s history as a motorsport venue.
The exhibits, which will be arranged to follow the outline of track’s Grand Prix layout, will also tell the history of motorsport in the UK and the development of the BRDC within that story.
The BRDC is also planning to include its own archive, a heritage trail for visitors to explore and items donated by British motorsport figures, including David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan, will be on display.
Silverstone came out as the fan’s fourth favourite F1 circuit in our recent JA on F1 poll (full results to be published soon).
Speaking shortly before the British Grand Prix in July, BRDC chairman John Grant, said: “This is not a museum. This will be interactive and our aim is to attract new people and a younger generation to motorsport.”
The heritage project’s director, Sally Reynolds, added: “We’re delighted that Lord Beaverbrook has agreed to lead our fundraising campaign. We are seeking the support of organisations and individuals to help raise the £9.1 million.”
The BRDC are asking fans to complete a short survey to gain their thoughts and insight on the plans for the heritage centre, which can be completed here.
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