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ROSSI CHOOSES NUMBER 53 AHEAD OF SINGAPORE DEBUT

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Formula 1’s newest rookie Alexander Rossi has selected 53 as his permanent race number ahead of his grand prix debut in Singapore this weekend.
The Californian GP2 front-runner, who is replacing Manor regular Roberto Merhi at five of the remaining grands prix this season, told reporters he actually selected the number 16.
“That’s the number I used in many kart races,” he is quoted by Speed Week. “But it turns out that is a reserve number for Red Bull. So I chose 53 as I am able to make a cool logo from it.”
He laughed when asked if he will have to pay Disney for use of the number, as it was used in the Herbie film series. “I hope not!” said Rossi.
What may ultimately appear on the Manor car are Rossi’s sponsors that, according to speculation, have paid for his seat, but the 23-year-old said only: “That question will be answered in Austin.”
He said the race deal came about very quickly, “On Tuesday morning I booked the flight and a few hours later I was on the plane. The talks had begun shortly after Monza.”
Rossi continued: “I don’t feel like a newcomer to the team, as we were already together in 2014. Since then we never broke off contact, but to be honest I didn’t expect to be racing in F1 this year.”
Merhi, sidelined for now, said he flew into Singapore on Monday, and heard the news then.
“Now, these days, budget is really important and it is really hard to find,” the rookie Spaniard said.
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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

Merhi only told about Rossi swap on arrival in Singapore

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Roberto Merhi has said he only learned that Alexander Rossi would replace him for five of the remaining seven races once he'd arrived in Singapore this week.
The Spaniard joined the team at the beginning of the season on a race-by-race basis, and whilst the decision to replace him came as a surprise, he admitted he was thankful for the opportunity given to him by Manor Marussia.
"I flew on Monday and when I arrived, the team gave me the news I would not be driving and Rossi would be taking my place," he said on Thursday.
"At the beginning of the year I came to Melbourne and they gave me a great chance - I didn't know how long it would be for.
"I want to say thank you to the team. They have taken the decision which is better for them in the long run.
"I hope I'm still competitive for the last two races I have this year."
The 24-year-old gave up his Formula Renault 3.5 seat in order to focus on F1, a decision he made just last week, and is therefore uncertain what his future might hold, with a return to F1 unlikely.
"We are looking for a Formula 1 seat and will try to find best option available," he added.
"These days, the budget is important and at the moment it is hard to find the budget."
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Hamilton 'one of the quickest drivers ever' - Button

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Lewis Hamilton could match Ayrton Senna's record of eight consecutive pole positions this weekend, he could also equal the three-time champions 41 race win tally, leading to praise from former team-mate Jenson Button.
The 2009 champion has hailed Hamilton as "one of the quickest" drivers in F1 history, particularly over one lap, as proven by his qualifying record this season which has seen him on pole in 11 of the 12 races.
"Lewis is extremely fast over one lap, probably one of the quickest ever," Button told Sky Sports.
"He has used that massively to his advantage this year. It puts him on pole position and then because of the way the cars are and the way he can control the situation, Nico is never going past.
"Lewis goes around at a certain speed and then two laps before the pit stop he pushes which means Nico can't have a go at him - he can't undercut him, he can't overcut him, he can't do anything."
Hamilton was considered quick but many had questioned his mind, often labelling Rosberg as the "smarter racer", but that's changed this season according to Button.
"Lewis has definitely improved when it comes to thinking about his race," he added. "Last year he had reliability issues and made mistakes, which we all do, and still won the championship. This year, he is not making mistakes, and the team isn't making mistakes, and he is walking away with it."
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Bottas admits 2015 has been a disappointment

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Valtteri Bottas says the 2015 season has not come up to his expectations so far.
Bottas, who re-signed with Williams at the beginning of the month, has reached the podium just once so far this year, compared to six times in 2014.
“I have to say I’m not really that pleased for the results,” he said during today’s FIA press conference. “Of course we aim to make a step forward which… I think we improved from last year but compared to others, not really.”
“As a team I think everyone in the team is expecting more and we are aiming to do better in the future. Obviously I am staying with the team. It’s very nice to start building from this because I still think we are not yet at a peak and we can definitely do better.
“And from my side also it’s been very mixed season, a lot of things have been going to my side: unlucky races, unlucky results. That’s just how it is sometimes and always need to look forward.”
Bottas believes there is no single area Williams need to make progress in. “As a team we need to improve in all the areas,” he said.
“As we’ve seen we have quite a few issues still with pit stops and some mistakes from us as a team. Still just getting stronger all the areas.”
“Unfortunately sometimes the way to improve is you need to do that mistake and then you learn from it. I’m sure soon there’ll be no more mistakes we can do and we’ll make sure we learn from those and improve. Like I said before I think we can definitely be stronger than this.”
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Sauber introduces new short nose

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Sauber has adopted a short nose concept as part of a major upgrade of its Formula 1 cars for the Singapore Grand Prix.
With limited resources having left Sauber unable to deliver frequent updates earlier in the campaign, the team elected to wait until this weekend to deliver an overhaul of its car.
As well as new front and rear wings, and more compact side pods and bodywork, the team has gone down the short nose route that was pioneered by Williams and adopted by other teams, including Red Bull and McLaren.
And although some of Sauber's rivals had trouble passing the crash tests that are required for the new noses, Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said that her outfit had got through first time.
"We passed first time – and with no compromises as well," she said. "Of course we had a few different possibilities, but none of them were a second choice."
Proving new concept
Although part of the reason for introducing such a bold change is to help prepare new concept thoughts for 2016, Kaltenborn said she hoped there would be a decent performance step too.
"A significant part is about finding performance, and we will see if this track is the ideal one," she said.
"A lot of it is about performance but of course equally if you follow a new concept and start a new concept, then more can come in that direction. So it is important to see if the direction is right you are going into."
When asked if there would be further upgrades later this season, Kaltenborn said: "I don't think anything major.
"There are bits and pieces coming up, if we see direction is right, but nothing like this."
MIKA: Good luck to Sauber - F1 wouldn't be the same without Peter Saubers team. One of my favourite teams to watch.
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Vettel: Red Bull divorce with Renault would be “sad”

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Sebastian Vettel says that the likely end of his former Red Bull team’s alliance with Renault would be “sad”, and that he hopes the French marque remains in Formula 1.
The relationship between Red Bull and its engine supplier has broken down in recent months amid the Renault power unit’s lack of competitiveness this year compared to those of Mercedes and Ferrari, which has left the Anglo-Austrian squad a distant fourth place in the constructors’ standings.
With Red Bull now set to terminate its contract with Renault and revert to customer Ferrari engines in 2016, Vettel expressed his disappointment that their partnership is set to end, arguing that Renault deserved more credit for its past successes in the V8 era.
“It’s sad to hear because I was part of the majority of the partnership, and we had some very successful years, which unfortunately now get forgotten because of the situation,” said the German, who won four titles and 38 Grands Prix in Renault-powered Red Bull machinery before switching to Ferrari at the start of 2015.
“Renault has done a fantastic job in the past supplying [Red Bull] with a strong engine and the latest technique that was required to be competitive in the blown exhaust era. They were one of the best and most advanced.
“There are a lot of things people tend to forget that Renault has achieved, so I hope they stay in the sport," he concluded, referring to the possibility of Renault taking over the Lotus squad and becoming a fully-fledged works entrant once again.
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Podium the target in Singapore
Speaking of his chances of fighting for victory in this weekend’s Singapore race, Vettel added: “Looking at this year so far, when it’s been hotter we’ve been more competitive, but this circuit is unique – it’s about feeling the car, having confidence, which makes the biggest difference round here.
“Our target is to be on the podium, which is difficult because Mercedes usually have two cars on the podium if nothing goes wrong.
"But we’ve been pretty good at taking the maximum and getting that last available step on the podium this year.”
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Button not interested in Haas if he loses McLaren F1 seat

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Jenson Button says he is not interested in a drive with Haas, and claims that if he is in F1 next year it will be with McLaren.
Gene Haas has made it clear that he is waiting for the silly season to shake out before committing to a 2016 driver line-up, and he remains keen to employ one driver who raced this season.
Along with Romain Grosjean, Button is one of the few logical candidates who has yet to be confirmed for 2016.
However, he insists that joining a new project did not appeal.
"If I'm in F1 it will be with this team," he said when asked by Motorsport.com. "I've had some tough times with this team, but I've got a lot of respect for the whole team and for Honda.
"I think this team is the team for the future. I don't think there's any point in looking at a smaller, younger start-up programme.
"To be fair to this team it's very young still in terms of our relationship with Honda, and the powerplant itself, and also the direction of the aerodynamics, with 'Prod' [Peter Prodromou] it's completely different to every other McLaren, so that's young as well."
Asked what the timescale on any news might be, he said: "I said the next couple of weeks at the last race, and I was wrong. I think the next couple of weeks... So by the end of the month, definitely."
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No frustration by delay
It is understood that McLaren's option on Button's services ends on September 30.
Button said he was not frustrated by the wait.
"Not at all. It matters whose decision it is. Not frustrating at all. There's a lot you've got to think about over that period of time. It's an important couple of weeks. I'm in a good place."
He added: "I think it's a massive different to last year, I think everyone's learned from last year being a bit of a mess. It's nothing like last year, it's a very different situation. I'm very happy with what I've done this year and I think the team are as well. It's not what you might think. Hopefully the fans understand, whatever happens."
The Briton says he is paying close attention to McLaren's future prospects.
"Of course, you look forward and you look at how many years it will be until you're fighting at the front, because that's what we're here to do in the grand scheme of things.
"We've both been world champions and we have that hunger for winning, and addition to winning.
"This year's been interesting, because I've had Fernando as a team mate, and it's been great. I've really enjoyed the year.
"When you're fighting near the back you've still got the challenge of fighting with someone who's very talented, and has experience like myself in the sport.
"That's been a lot of fun, bit it doesn't last that feeling, and you want to start winning races very soon. I do feel that everyone is working very hard at MTC and Sakura, they're not just waiting for things to happen they are making things happen, but it's a time thing.
"Who knows. At the moment it's very difficult to know how long it's going to take, but I'm a very positive person as I think Fernando is, and you hope for the best."
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Teams resisting Pirelli push for Abu Dhabi tyre test

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Pirelli is still pushing for a tyre test to be held in the days after the Abu Dhabi GP, despite opposition from some F1 teams.
The subject has been on the table for several months, but it is back in play after discussions at the F1 Strategy Group meeting earlier this week.
Pirelli is keen to test the new "ultra-soft" tyre that it plans to introduce next season, and the Italian company is adamant that it needs a dedicated session.
However, adding a test after Abu Dhabi would require the unanimous agreement of the 10 teams.
Although McLaren is understood to be keen to do as much track running as possible, many teams have opposed the idea on cost grounds, and several have pointed out that for example they have already booked return flights for crew members.
Some teams wanted Pirelli to provide the new tyre for FP1 in Singapore and/or Abu Dhabi, as the rules allow extra experimental tyres to be run, but Pirelli does not regard official sessions as an efficient way of testing tyres, as teams have other priorities.
Teams have also suggested that the ultra-soft is based on the pre-2014 super-soft, and thus they are already familiar with it.
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Singapore GP 2015: F1 visors explained + driver training FAIL!

In this week's Studio Show we take a look at what you can expect at the Marina Bay Street Circuit for the Singapore Grand Prix this weekend. We've got facts and figures for you as well as a detailed look at night visors for racing in the dark. Leandra also meets up with the winners of our awesome 10 million Fans Competition at the factory.

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'Either you are in a Mercedes car or you are frustrated' - Fernando Alonso

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Fernando Alonso is sticking by his decision to move to McLaren despite scoring just 11 points in the first 12 races since his return.
Alonso left Ferrari for McLaren over the winter, but the Honda power unit has not been competitive and he has only finished in the top ten on two occasions this year. Despite the lack of results, Alonso is remaining loyal to McLaren and believes it is still the team best placed to beat Mercedes in the long run.
"Well it's a matter of trust and confidence," he said. "Of course last year when we were at this point of the year and I decided to stop with Ferrari and join McLaren I did it basically because the project of the McLaren-Honda partnership again will succeed sooner or later.
"Obviously the situation of the performance we have this year is a little bit lower than the expectations we had last year at this time. But anyway, to beat Mercedes you need to do something different. Either you are in a Mercedes car or you are frustrated.
"It doesn't matter what the others will say, the people that are on the podium or the Williams cars who have podiums here and there, they cannot be happy. They are fourth, they are third, they are second, they are fifth ... we are 16th, okay, but we want to be first and to be first I still believe I am in the right place for the future."
While Honda struggles, Mercedes has already introduced a development version of its 2016 power unit and Alonso admits closing the gap will require some sort of miracle from McLaren's Japanese engine supplier.
"Well that's the big challenge. As you said, the advantage Mercedes has now is quite big, but it's the way it is. Always one team has dominated the sport, that's always been the way it is. Now it's Mercedes, Hamilton and Rosberg have the opportunity to fight for world championships and all the others are trying to find the miracles. That miracle hopefully will come from Japan."
Alonso says he intends to see out his three-year contract with McLaren before deciding whether to write off the Honda project.
"There is not a deadline, I know that I am not young anymore, but I have a three-year contract with McLaren, so when I finish those three we have to see if we are in a position to fight for the championship or if things are not looking good I will think differently."
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Kimi Raikkonen confident he will avoid Monza startline repeat

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Kimi Raikkonen is confident he will not suffer a repeat of the start line problem that saw him drop from second place to last at the start of the Italian Grand Prix.
Raikkonen reluctantly admitted he made a mistake at Monza two weeks ago, but does not think major changes are needed to avoid a repeat.
"It went into anti-stall and the reason why ... for sure I did it all correct apart from my finger might have been for whatever reason holding the second paddle in a bit of the wrong position for no apparent reason.
"The end result is the same and obviously we have to learn from those. It's a shame and a bit disappointing but after 200 metres we were last and it wasn't too bad after that. When you start from second place it was not the ideal start, but it happens.
"It's not like we need to do something differently [with the starts], it's a small problem with a big end result from it. We have been doing the same thing for a long time and it just happened to go wrong this time. It's not like the new rules changed anything, it could have happened last year or earlier this year."
Raikkonen is hoping for a smooth weekend in order to qualify high up the grid again.
"We did the same things as normal [in Italy] but obviously we had a good weekend until the start of the race. I don't see it that we did something special beyond the normal things, but obviously everything worked well and we were ready. All the small things were correct, but obviously the end result wasn't good.
"Hopefully here we can do well again and in the upcoming races, but it's never guaranteed you'll get a good result even with a good qualifying. The aim is to do well and we felt good with the car in Monza, but most of the weekends we have been feeling good and then it's just the small details that make it tricky. Let's wait and see, we will try to do a good job again and see where we end up."
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F1 Singapore Grand Prix: Not the best track for us, but.... - Massa

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Felipe Massa says he is hopeful Williams can score “good points” this weekend in Singapore, even if it is “definitely” not the best track for them.
Williams had a dismal weekend in Monaco - a track with a lot of similarities to the Marina Bay Street Circuit – but despite struggling there, the Brazilian is optimistic about what they can achieve this Sunday.
“Definitely it's not the best track for us,” Massa said in the build-up to the 13th round in the 2015 F1 World Championship. “We struggled in Monaco and in Budapest as well [another high downforce track]. So it is not the best track for us - but it's also true that even last year it was not the best track for us but we were better here than in Monaco or maybe Budapest as well.
“I remember I finished fifth here last year, we did a good race and perhaps the car last year was even worse than this year. So I think it's a race where many things happen and the possibility to score good points is there.
“So we need to believe in that and do everything the best we can to achieve that, also knowing that from after this race until the end of the season most of the tracks are good for us. There are still many races where we can do well.”
Pressed on if Williams has learned from its troubles in Monaco and Hungary, Massa added: “I hope so! We have some ideas, we are working on that but I think we have not been racing again on these kind of tracks - even when it rains we are very similar when it rains. So we are losing a lot.
“When we are missing mechanical grip we are not strong enough, so I think it's linked, one thing to the other. We're working, but maybe we need a good race here to understand if we've fixed something or not,” concluded the Brazilian.
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Williams begins work on 2016 car

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Claire Williams says Williams Martini Racing is already working on its 2016 F1 contender as it looks to take advantage of next year's static set of regulations.
Following its return to front running performance in 2014 on the back of the most recent wholesale change in the regulations, Williams has consolidated its upturn in fortunes in 2015 to sit a comfortable third in the constructors' standings, 65 points clear of Red Bull Racing.
It's a margin for error that is allowing Williams to turn its attentions towards next season, with development of its 2016 car – the FW38 – well underway.
The earliest the team has ever begun work on a successor according to deputy team principal Williams, she says the move - which has been made possible by the likelihood of there being relatively few changes to the regulations in 2016 – could help it establish a jump on its main rivals.
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“We started building, developing and designing the '38' which is next year's car, much earlier than we ever have,” she told Crash.net. “It's to do with the fact that from 2017 we know the way the technical regulations are going to go and of course there are changes.
“We know we've got a really good platform in the car that we have and that we've developed over this period of technical regulations. It's really important that we capitalise on the stability we have got in the regulations. Another reason is to get a jump on it, so the two combined, hopefully 2016 will be a good year off the back of that for us.”
Despite this, Williams insists this is not coming at the expense of developing the current FW37 package, saying it upgrades will continue to be introduced to the end of the season.
“With the job that the guys back at the factory are doing, there is no let up. They've had to run these two programmes in parallel and you see we are now two thirds of the way through the year and we're still bringing upgrades, we're still driving performance in the car and we have a strong pathway throughout the remaining races. I'm really pleased at the way that we are performing in the development race.”
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Hulkenberg sets sights on Williams scalp in Singapore

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Nico Hulkenberg believes Force India can set its sights on tackling Williams in the Singapore Grand Prix, but believes it will be embroiled in another tight mid-field battle.
Having returned to the top ten with a seventh place finish in the Italian Grand Prix, Hulkenberg comes to Singapore with a minor update for his B-specification Force India VJM08 which he believes will keep it well in the hunt around the street circuit.
Indeed, though Hulkenberg anticipates Red Bull will be a stronger contender than usual this weekend, he is confident Force India will have the measure of Williams.
“I think we can beat them. If you think back to Hungary, which is more similar to this track, I was right behind Valtteri's gearbox when the front wing fell off so I think we have a good opportunity to fight with them.
“I see Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull at the front and hard to beat, but behind that it is us battling with Lotus, Toro Rosso and maybe McLaren. I think it will be close behind those three teams.”
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“GET OVER IT!” : LEWIS HAMILTON ON CRITICISM OF HIS F1 DOMINATION

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Lewis Hamilton has mounted a robust defence of his current position as the driver to beat in F1, saying that anti-fans who say he’s only winning because he has a dominant car need to ‘get over it.’
The world champion posted Friday on his BBC Sport Website Driver Column about how proud he is to be on the verge of equalling the records of his boyhood hero Ayrton Senna and added that all dominant drivers in the sport’s history who have benefitted from a dominant car have also added value in their driving, which has made the difference,
“While we’re on the subject of records, I want to address some criticisms I hear from time to time about my position in Mercedes and our performance as a team at the moment.
People sometimes say things like, ‘Well, he’s in the best team with the best car – of course he’s winning.’
When I hear that, I think to myself that they are kind of missing the point.
All the top drivers who have had periods of dominance, whether it be Sebastian Vettel or Michael Schumacher or whoever, they have all been in top teams with great cars. So people need to get over that.
Motorsport is not like tennis or golf where results are solely down to the athlete.
But there are still significant differences between the drivers. They might only be a tenth of a second in terms of lap time, but in our world that is worth a lot of money.
Teams spend millions to find that amount of time in the cars.”
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Hamilton is a two times winner of the Singapore Grand Prix and goes into Sunday’s race with a 53 point lead over Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg, who had his first retirement of the season in Monza two weeks ago.
Hamilton can equal Senna’s record from the 1980s of 8 consecutive pole positions on Saturday and a day later can equal his 41 wins from 161 starts with victory at the Marina Bay Circuit.
“You can imagine how special it is to me to be about to equal the number of races Ayrton competed in and, if I win in Singapore on Sunday, to match his number of victories as well,” he posted.
“I am so proud to be in a position to emulate him. At the same time, though, I am also aware that if he had not passed away he would have continued and won so many more races and championships, because he was that good.
“Now I am at the stage where I am getting to the levels he was at, it feels a little like a relay race – that I will be picking the baton up for him and carrying it for the both of us from now on.”
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SILLY SEASON SPECULATION LINKS ALONSO TO RED BULL-FERRARI

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Wild speculation is being bandied about in the Singapore paddock about Fernando Alonso’s future.
McLaren supremo Ron Dennis has insisted the Spaniard is on a fixed contract for 2015, 2016 and 2017 without exit clauses, but Italian and Spanish media sources this weekend have insisted those clauses do exist. And so the talk has legs…
Alonso was spotted coming out of the Red Bull motor home at a recent race, and now the Italian insider Leo Turrini says he has heard a whisper from within the 34-year-old’s own camp that a Ferrari-powered car might tempt him next year.
Another veteran Italian journalist is quoted by the Spanish newspaper AS: “With this Ferrari, Fernando would be fighting for the title, just as he did in 2012.”
At the same time, Alonso admitted to Spanish reporters that, amid his negotiations with McLaren a year ago, “expectations were higher” that 2015 would turn out better than it has.
The knock-on effect of the performance slump for the works Honda camp is financial, with reports suggesting Jenson Button will only be kept if he agrees to forego his scheduled EUR 4 million pay-rise.
Alonso, meanwhile, is currently the highest-paid driver in the entire sport.
When asked about the fact that McLaren will take an income hit for 2016, boss Eric Boullier said in Singapore: “I cannot give a full guarantee, but it is 99.9 per cent that we will soon make a number of statements (about new sponsors).
“If we cannot finish the season in a position that we consider normal, the amount of money from FOM will be less and we have to find ways to compensate for this,” he added.
At least for Honda, one way to raise money would be to sell its ‘power unit’ to a customer team or two, although Yasuhisa Arai has admitted talks are not currently taking place.
Boullier said: “We (McLaren) have factory team status and that will not change. To be honest, this (Honda finding a customer) could happen in 2017, and why not? This would mean that the Honda engine is so good that other teams are also interested, and so in this scenario it would be a positive.”
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MERCEDES: WE ARE VERY SURPRISED

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Mercedes have all but given up hope of winning the Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix after a lacklustre performance in Saturday’s qualifying that they struggled to find an explanation for.
After taking pole position in 23 consecutive races dating back to the middle of last year, the seemingly unstoppable Mercedes team were shuffled back to the third row of the grid after being outpaced by the Ferraris and Red Bulls.
Mercedes and their rivals were left in a state of disbelief after world champion Lewis Hamilton qualified fifth after taking pole position in 11 of the previous 12 races this year and his teammate Nico Rosberg was sixth.
“Shock is probably not the right word because we need to stay calm and analyse what happened, but we are very surprised,” Mercedes Motorsport head Toto Wolff told reporters.
“We have been very good for two years now and never put a foot wrong and this time it was a massive step rearwards and we need to concentrate on our strengths and get it right for Suzuka.”
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Hamilton, who needs one more race win to emulate his childhood hero Ayrton Senna’s 41 race victories, conceded he may have to wait a little longer for his next win.
“The goal is to still win the race but it’s very hard to overtake here and the others, particularly the Red Bulls, are incredibly quick through the long runs,” Hamilton said.
“It is what it is, we’ll fight as hard as we can. I doubt we are going to find something between now and tomorrow but if we do, great.”
The Englishman said his main problem was with the tyres as he struggled for grip on the twisting track, which features 23 turns and few long straights.
“It was actually really challenging but these tyres for some reason on my car aren’t working. It’s so weird,” he said.
“You heat them up, same as everyone else, do your warm up laps same as everyone else and you finish a lap where there seems to be okay grip and you see someone else a second up the road so it’s very strange.”
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Rosberg, who trails Hamilton by 53 points in the championship standings with six races left after Singapore, was unable to hide his frustration with the car.
“Unbelievable. I can’t remember the last time I have been one and a half seconds off the pace. It must have been years ago. It’s incredible and we don’t understand it,” he said.
“I made setup changes throughout the whole weekend and in all different directions, and big changes and I’ve gone full circle.”
Mercedes still has a huge lead in the constructors’ championship but the team’s non-executive chairman Niki Lauda said they would need to discover why they dropped off the pace so dramatically.
“We really have to sit down now carefully and understand what we did wrong because the car is no different, the engine is the same, the tyres are the same,” he said.
“Something we must have done wrong here in Singapore, what we did not understand and we have to find the answer.”
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AMID THE OFF TRACK DRAMA RED BULL FIND REASON TO SMILE

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Red Bull were able to put a troubled season and uncertainty over their Formula One future to one side as Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat secured second and fourth on the grid for the Singapore Grand Prix on Saturday.
For an outfit that dominated the sport for four years from 2010, this campaign has been a nightmare with team principal Christian Horner and engine suppliers Renault at loggerheads over the under-performing power unit as the wins dried up.
In qualifying, however, championship leaders Mercedes were unable to harness the full power of their superior engine around the 23-turn Marina Bay Street Circuit and Red Bull were back near the top of the time sheets in a dogfight with Ferrari.
“It’s nice to be back up here and the front row as well, it’s been a while,” the ever-smiling Australian Ricciardo told reporters after lapping slightly slower than former teammate Sebastian Vettel, who switched to Ferrari this season
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“It’s a bit of a coincidence, Seb and I, and hopefully we can have a good race tomorrow,” he added, before admitting that the lack of performance by Mercedes had been unexpected.
“It’s a surprise to not see a Mercedes up here. I thought they were playing a few card games yesterday but they seem to be struggling here.”
The second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen will start the race in third place, just ahead of Kvyat with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg filling out the third row for Mercedes after a topsy-turvy qualifying session.
The 21-year-old Russian finished second behind Vettel at Hungary, his only podium in Formula One, but he issued a warning to the cars alongside the Red Bulls as he targets a fast start in the race.
“As the lights go off we will try and overtake the Ferraris,” he said.
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The fractious relationship between Red Bull and Renault reached a conclusion on Friday with the engine suppliers opting to part company with the team, who are likely to be powered by Ferrari units from next season.
None of that will worry Ricciardo for now as he targets a fourth Formula One victory of his career and first of a season that has only garnered one third place finish at Hungary as its high point.
“It’s definitely our best chance to get a win this season,” he added. “Coming into the weekend we thought we had a great chance of getting back on the podium and today’s results back up the confidence I had in the car.
“Tomorrow, however, is where the points are and the champagne is but we put ourselves in the best position today, obviously Seb was out of reach, so now we are second best but we will try and move up a position tomorrow.”
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BUTTON: MERCEDES STRUGGLES IS A SHOT IN THE ARM FOR F1

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The surprise struggles of Mercedes in Singapore Grand Prix qualifying could be the shot in the arm Formula One needs after a worryingly predictable spell, McLaren’s Jenson Button said on Saturday.
The Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton, the reigning champion and current leader in the standings with a 53 point cushion, and Nico Rosberg could only manage fifth and sixth under the Marina Bay floodlights as Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel took pole.
It meant Mercedes’s run of consecutive poles ended at 23, one shy of the record set by Williams in 1993, while Hamilton also missed out by one on equalling Ayrton Senna’s record of eight consecutive poles by a driver.
The third row starting position was a disappointment but the bigger surprise was the size of the deficit on Vettel, almost 1.5 seconds, from a car which has dominated for two years.
Button, who won the drivers’ championship with Brawn in 2009, said the sight of both Ferrari and Red Bull qualifying ahead of Hamilton and Rosberg was welcome.
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“I think it is the shot in the arm that the sport needs right now and it’s great to see a mixed up grid at the front, I think it’s good for everyone – including Mercedes,” he told reporters after qualifying in 15th.
“Maybe it’s a one-off, but who knows maybe it is going to continue. But there is no reason why it should continue.”
Button, 35 and hoping for an extension to his six-year stay with McLaren, said the Mercedes’ struggles in Singapore were reminiscent of his title winning year with Brawn, where he won six of the first seven races before encountering issues.
With overtaking opportunities scarce around the narrow, 23 turn street circuit in Singapore, Hamilton and Rosberg face a tough task to make it 11 wins from 13 races this year on Sunday.
Button, though, expected the duo to bounce back in Japan next week.
“I think, when we go to Suzuka you will see them strong again but it is whether they have the advantage that they have enjoyed for 32 races straight,” said the Briton.
“Hopefully they are not going to have the advantage going forward, hopefully there is going to be more of a fight. I think it is better for the whole sport.”
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VETTEL PULLS HIS FINGER OUT WITH UNBELIEVABLE POLE

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Sebastian Vettel was beaming from ear to ear after ending Ferrari’s three-year wait for a Formula One pole position by blitzing the all-conquering Mercedes duo at his favoured Singapore Grand Prix on Saturday.
The quadruple world champion became the first Ferrari driver to claim a pole position since Fernando Alonso at the 2012 German Grand Prix with an impressive time of one minute 43.885 seconds under the floodlights at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
Vettel, winner in Malaysia and Hungary this year, was almost 1.5 seconds quicker than championship leader Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton had claimed 11 of 12 poles this year in his Mercedes and leads the drivers standings by 53 points but could only manage fifth on Saturday.
Hamilton’s team mate Nico Rosberg, who is second in the standings with seven races left, will be alongside the Briton on the third row after also struggling on Saturday. It was the first time Mercedes had not claimed pole since the Austrian Grand Prix last year.
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“Unbelievable. I know it is only Saturday and the main job is tomorrow but I had to enjoy the moment,” Vettel told reporters after whooping and hollering in delight when his team told him of his position over the radio.
“The car was fantastic to drive and got better through qualifying. Surprised by the margin, but it just came together.”
Five pole sitters have gone on to claim the chequered flag in seven previous editions of the Singapore night race, where the scarcity of overtaking opportunities on the narrow 23-turn circuit puts an emphasis on qualifying.
Vettel, who celebrated with his trademark finger salute, enjoyed a hat-trick of consecutive wins from 2011 with his former team Red Bull and talked up his victory chances as he bids to eat into his 74-point deficit on Hamilton.
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“You need to be confident in your car,” the 28-year-old told reporters. “It’s a street circuit and the better you feel, the closer you get to the walls, the quicker you can go. It’s a circuit where the driver can make the difference. I have always loved this track. It’s a tough race.”
His former team mate Daniel Ricciardo was second quickest for Red Bull with his current colleague Kimi Raikkonen third.
The dry-humoured Raikkonen was also left surprised by Ferrari’s impressive pace and was hopeful they could claim the first ever one-two in Singapore on Sunday.
“It was quite a good result for the team today — I was not very happy since this morning for whatever reason — so I’m a bit surprised to be in this position after how difficult it felt all day, but it was good,” the former world champion said.
“We have to do a good job tomorrow and hopefully get the two cars on the podium.”
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WILLIAMS: IT’S NOT WHERE WE NEED TO BE

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Williams report from qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix at Marina Bay Circuit.

Qualifying Notes

  • Valtteri qualified seventh and Felipe ninth for the Singapore Grand Prix.
  • Valtteri set his quickest time on his final run but was pushed down from P5 to P7.
  • Felipe made a small mistake on his last lap, so was unable to match his best Q2 time.
  • Williams was closer than usual to both Mercedes, with Valtteri just two tenths behind Hamilton in P5, while Ferrari and Red Bull make up the first two rows.

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering: “We worked on the car last night to ensure we were in Q3 and in front of the midfield, but it’s not where we need to be. As a company, everyone at Williams needs to work hard to ensure that we improve in situations like this. There are some fairly anomalous laptimes in qualifying today, so we can see that tyre management played a major part. The positive is that it’s going to be a long race with lots of points to pick up, so we’ll get as many as we can.”

Valtteri Bottas: “Given Friday, it’s a good starting position for tomorrow. We always knew it was going to be challenging for us here and we improved from practice to get both cars inside the top 10. I’m pleased with my lap, I think I got everything I could from the car so it’s a good result. This is a race where anything can happen and we are going to be there so everything is still open.”

Felipe Massa: “It wasn’t an easy qualifying session. I made a mistake in Q3 and lost time that would have put me a few positions further up. We only had one set of new tyres for Q3 so I tried everything I could, maybe too much. The position at the end could have been much better, but this is not a fantastic track for us so we’ll concentrate on getting the best we can from the race tomorrow.”

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SAUBER: A DISAPPOINTING RESULT

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It was a disappointing result in qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix for the Sauber F1 Team, as the drivers finished 16th (Nasr) and 17th (Ericsson). In terms of results, the new aero upgrade has not yet fulfilled its expectations. However, the first data from the aero tests shows potential that will need further investigation.

Marcus Ericsson: “It was a disappointing qualifying for me, especially after my strong FP3. We would definitely have expected more. It was very tight in Q1. I was a bit unlucky with traffic, which compromised my performance. Now we need to analyse what we could have done differently and learn from that. We will start the race from the back, which is not ideal for a street track. Tomorrow is a new day – we are going to fight as much as we can.”

Felipe Nasr “As a team and also myself, we kind of expected to finish qualifying some positions higher. I have been struggling a lot to get the tyres to work. This has been my main limitation on the supersoft tyres. It was difficult to have a good balance on the car, and it seemed that everyone else picked up more pace in combination with the track evolution. It was also a very close competition. Now I will focus on the race tomorrow.”

Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal: “A disappointing result. We expected more after FP3. However, the data from the initial analysis of the new aerodynamic package means we remain confident. We knew that the potential from this update could not be fully exploited on this circuit due to the track layout. The most important thing here in Singapore is to finish the race.”

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MANOR: EXPECT SOME CLOSE RACING BETWEEN OUR DRIVERS

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After a tough opening day of running at the 2015 Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix on Friday, the Manor Marussia F1 Team experienced rather more productive Free Practice 3 and Qualifying sessions today at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
Earlier on Saturday, the team’s new American race driver Alexander Rossi had looked to have the edge on his more established team-mate Will Stevens, the young Brit struggling to get to grips with the circuit in low-fuel trim and instead focusing on race preparation.
As it turned out, the qualifying session became rather more of a shoot-out, and in the end it was Will in P19 who had the edge on his new immediate rival in P20.
John Booth, Team Principal: “It’s fair to say that Will has had a tough weekend up until qualifying, but this afternoon he dug deep and pulled a fantastic lap out of the bag. This is his first time out here and although it has taken a while to get into the groove, I think he is now in a position where he can have a good race tomorrow. Up until qualifying, it looked as if Alex might have the edge. He knows the circuit from GP2 but it’s his first time here in a Formula 1 car and of course it’s a big weekend for him in general. What is clear is that we can expect to see some close racing between the pair, tomorrow and going forward, so we’re looking to that.”
Will Stevens: “If I’m honest, this weekend has been the most difficult of the season so far. We got off to a good start in FP1, but then I made a mistake at the start of FP2 and it has really set me back. I haven’t raced here in Singapore before, so it was important to do as many laps as possible in FP3. We managed a long run this morning, which helped me reacquaint myself with the circuit. I knew that I had the time in me and then I had the opportunity to push in the last stint. I’m now a lot more optimistic about tomorrow and looking forward to racing here for the first time.”
Alexander Rossi: “I’m pretty comfortable with the car and the circuit, but my target was to qualify ahead of my new team-mate, so anything short of that is disappointing. I was quick all morning, and in my first qualifying run, but I didn’t make the most of my second run; we didn’t improve enough. As for tomorrow, it’s going to be a tough race but I’ve waited a long time for this moment and I’m very excited to get started.”
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TORO ROSSO: WE’VE GOT GOOD PACE

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Toro Rosso report from qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix at Marina Bay Circuit.

Max Verstappen: “I’m satisfied with today’s P8. The most important is that we are in front of our main competitors, Lotus and Force India. I have to say that I’m really happy with my lap, especially after FP3, where we were struggling a bit with the tyres, but we managed to turn it around very quickly and have a very good qualifying session. We really maximised today’s result. Now I’m really looking forward to the race tomorrow, there will definitely be some good fights!”

Carlos Sainz: “A disappointing way to end what was being a good qualifying session. We knew we had a car good enough to get into Q3 – my lap was actually three or four tenths quicker than the limit to get into the top ten… It’s a shame that I didn’t know that when I was in the car. I thought it was going to be very tight so I was pushing to the limit and unfortunately made a mistake, touching the wall. It’s something to learn from and now we just need to look forward to tomorrow, that’s when the points are given.”

Ben Waterhouse (Deputy Technical Director): “We haven’t had the smoothest of weekends and we’ve been struggling a bit at times, but after a lot of work and effort by the team we managed to get the car into a really good position and we showed good performance today. Max’s P8 is an excellent result, I think it’s about everything we could’ve expected from him. On the other hand, it’s disappointing to see Carlos starting from P14 because he showed he had the pace and he was on for a Q3 lap, but unfortunately he hit the wall. We’ve shown that we’ve got good pace, so we can certainly look forward to tomorrow. I think Max is on line for hopefully a very good result and for Carlos it will be difficult, as it’s always a bit of a challenge here, but the target is to get him back into the points positions.”

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FORCE INDIA: WE WEREN’T ABLE TO DELIVER ON OUR POTENTIAL

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Qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix saw Nico Hulkenberg set the 11th fastest time ahead of teammate Sergio Perez in P13.

Nico Hülkenberg: “It’s a bit disappointing not to make the top ten, but at the same time I’m confident we can have a good race from P11. For whatever reason we didn’t have the harmony or performance we expected and I wasn’t as happy with the balance as I was yesterday. I was chasing the set-up in final practice and we made some changes before qualifying, but we still couldn’t find the sweet spot. The car was quite snappy with some oversteer and it wasn’t easy to get a tidy lap together. For tomorrow, the strategy decisions will be critical and we’ve seen over the years how unpredictable this place can be. It’s always a tough race with high tyre degradation, especially the rears, and all the teams around us look quite evenly matched. We need to keep out of trouble and make the right decisions with the strategy.”

Sergio Perez: “I am disappointed as I think Q3 was possible. The yellow flag at the end of Q2 meant I couldn’t finish what would have been my best lap, which is a shame, but sometimes things don’t go your way. I don’t think P13 reflects our true pace because we’ve done a very good job so far this weekend and we are continuing to take big steps forward. For tomorrow, there is plenty to fight for and it’s a long race on a street circuit where anything can happen. Starting in the middle of the pack will be a challenge because overtaking is not easy here, but we will try and overcome this with a good strategy. We will need to be ready to maximise every opportunity.”

Vijay Mallya, Team Principal & Managing Director: “Our performance level yesterday suggested we would be able to fight for the top ten, but ultimately we weren’t able to deliver on that potential today. Nico’s laps were clean enough, but he wasn’t comfortable with the balance and had to settle for P11. Sergio was unlucky with the yellow flag in the final moments of Q2, which impacted on what was shaping up to be his quickest lap. In the end he was just eight hundredths of a second behind Nico. Despite starting outside the top ten, I believe there is still everything to play for. Qualifying is only half the battle and this race is tough on the drivers and the cars. We need to sensible and take our chances to make sure we come away with some good points.”

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