Monthly Archives: November 2015

2015 Abu Dhabi Pre-Season Test Line Up


With the 2015 Formula One season at an end, all eyes will be upon the 2016 season and getting in the best possible shape before the winter break.

Here’s the line up for the 2015 Abu Dhabi Pre-Season test line up this week as follows:-

Mercedes:- Pascal Wehrlein

Ferrari:- Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen

Williams-Mercedes:- Valtteri Bottas

Red Bull:- Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo

Force India:- Nico Hulkenberg and Alfonso Celis Jr

Lotus:- Jolyon Palmer

Toro Rosso:- Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstapppen

Sauber:- Adderly Fong and Marcus Ericsson

McLaren-Honda:- Stoffel Vandoorne

Manor:- Rio Haryanto and Jordan King

Jones on F1 will be covering the pre-season test in Abu Dhabi and will be providing a report later on in the week.

Classic #jonesonf1: The 1982 San Marino Grand Prix

The most iconic picture of the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix.

The most iconic picture of the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix.

The San Marino Grand Prix: Round 4 of 16 in the 1982 Formula One World Championship. Heading into the race, Renault driver Alain Prost led the Driver’s Championship by 18 points ahead of McLaren-Ford driver Niki Lauda in second place with 12 points and ahead of Williams-Ford driver Keke Rosberg in third place with 8 points.

Coming into the race, in a decision relating to the 1982 Brazilian Grand Prix, Nelson Piquet and Keke Rosberg were excluded for their cars’ crafty use of water tanks as ballast to keep them under the weight limit during race conditions. An immediate outcry from the Formula One Constructors Association (FOCA) followed and as the decision happened after the USGP West; it was decided that the next race would be boycotted and that race was Imola.

While most FOCA-aligned teams, such as Brabham, McLaren, Williams and Lotus boycotted the race, four teams who were Tyrrell, Osella, ATS and Toleman broke their stated boycott and started the race anyway.

Even with these teams defecting and starting the race, there were only 14 starters for the San Marino Grand Prix, of which at the time only the Ferraris and Renaults were considered competitive teams. This did not discourage the tifosi, maybe even the opposite; since it improved Ferrari’s chances, and the venue was full of spectators.

Rene Arnoux claimed Pole Position for the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix.

Rene Arnoux claimed Pole Position for the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix.

Qualifying saw Rene Arnoux claiming Pole Position for the San Marino Grand Prix ahead of his team mate Alain Prost in second place and Ferrari drivers Giles Villeneuve in third place and Didier Pironi in fourth place.

As we head into the latter stages of the grid, Michele Alboreto qualified in fifth place ahead of Bruno Giacomelli in sixth place, Andrea de Cesaris in seventh place, Derek Warwick in eighth place, Jean-Pierre Jarier in ninth place and Teo Fabi who rounded off the top ten qualifiers.

Giles Villenueve leading the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix.

Giles Villenueve leading the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix.

On race day on Sunday, the two Renault cars broke down on the circuit and this left Villeneuve and Pironi running first and second for Ferrari; to the delight of the local fans. It was a very dull race generally but in the closing stages Pironi closed right up on Villeneuve and the Canadian – believing that victory was his as the Ferrari team orders meant that Pironi would sit behind him – thought that the Frenchman was not fighting for the lead but merely putting on a show for the fans. Pironi got ahead, Villeneuve overtook him again.

Didier Pironi wins the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix ahead of Giles Villeneuve in second place and Michele Alboreto in third place.

Didier Pironi wins the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix ahead of Giles Villeneuve in second place and Michele Alboreto in third place.

On the last lap of the race, Villeneuve was not expecting any more moves from his teammate. But at Tosa Corner, Pironi outbraked him and took the lead. For the rest of the lap Villeneuve was stuck behind with Pironi not giving him the chance to pass. But it was who Pironi took the chequered flag. Villeneuve was furious. Alboreto took third place with Jarier fourth and Eliseo Salazar in fifth place. There were no other finishers.

The 1982 San Marino Grand Prix will always be remembered for what happened between Villeneuve and Pironi. Even though Villeneuve was irate at what he saw as Pironi’s betrayal, although opinion inside the Ferrari team was split over the true meaning of the order to slow down.

Villeneuve’s expression was sullen on the podium, enraged by Pironi’s actions. He was quoted afterwards as saying, “I’ll never speak to Pironi again in my life.” They proved to be prophetic words, as he was still not on speaking terms with his teammate when he died during qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix two weeks later.

It is also worth mentioning that Manfred Winkelhock was disqualified from the race due to his car being underweight in post-race scrutineering.

With most of the FOCA aligned teams boycotting the race, it still counted towards the World Championship. This was a bone of contention with the FOCA teams as two previous races held during the war (the 1980 Spanish Grand Prix and the 1981 South African Grand Prix) which had seen all three manufacturer teams boycotting had been down-graded to non-championship races and had not counted towards the championship or official records.

And as the 1982 World Championship continued at the Zolder circuit in Belgium, Alain Prost still lead the Driver’s Championship with 18 points ahead of Niki Lauda with 12 points and Didier Pironi moving into third place with his win with 10 points in third place.

2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Post-Race Press Conference Transcript


Here is the official transcript from the Post-Race Press Conference from the 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as provided by the FIA as follows:-


1 – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes)

2 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)

3 – Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN (Ferrari)


(Conducted by David Coulthard)

Q: Nico, that must taste good?

Nico Rosberg (referred here after as NR):- Delicious! The best ever!

Q: It’s been an incredible end to the season. This was, to me, your most dominant win of the season, so tell us a little bit about the race and the hunger you took into this final race of the season.

NR:- No, I mean, yeah, Austin was sort of the low point of the season. It was a tough weekend and since then I’ve just come back a lot stronger and I’m very happy about that. I’m excited about how the end of the season went. Next year can come any moment. It could start tomorrow if it were for me, no problem, I don’t need any holidays! But, no, it’s great to end the season like this, go on holiday like this and thank you so much, you’ve been awesome again this weekend, for all your support and everything, thanks to my team, absolutely stunning car you’ve all given me again today – just unbelievable. Ecstatic.

Q: You mentioned Austin there. We could see the disappointment as the realisation the championship had slipped away at that race. Can you tell us a little bit, give the fans at home an insight. You’ve got the enemy within the team, you work together to develop this great product but your success is Lewis’ failure and his success is your failure. Can you give us an insight into how you manage that?  Because you guys have known each other since you were kids.

NR:- Yeah, it’s always tough to race Lewis, he’s doing an awesome job and he’s one of the best out there, so an even better feeling to win, definitely against such opposition. It’s a great battle internally all the time. That’s what I race for, such battles, and I look forwards to more next year.

Q: Does that mean you guys can go and have dinner together now and reflect on what was an amazing season for the team?

NR:- Let’s skip that part – maybe we’ll catch up in the Amber Lounge later on.

Q: Lewis, an amazing season for you – your World Champion Ladies and Gentleman – it’s been a great season for you, I couldn’t help but notice it doesn’t seem to have finished quite as strong as it started. We heard you mention that there have been some changed to the car and it hasn’t quite suited you but is it as simple as that or is there something else we need to know now the season’s over?

Lewis Hamilton (referred here after as LH):- Well, firstly it’s been an amazing – an amazing – year, and happy 44th UAE National Day. So happy to be here and celebrating it with the UAE, they’ve done an amazing job for this show – and what a great crowd we’ve had today. No man, it’s been a good year. I’m happy. I’m happy it’s over, for sure. So now we can really enjoy.

I really have to take my hat off to this team who once again did an amazing job in building this car. The pitstops today, the performance through the whole year, they’ve surpassed their own expectations, our expectations, and so we’ve truly shown that Mercedes-Benz is the best team in the world. I’m proud to be a part of it.

Q: Just to touch on strategy, we heard you again on the radio, asking the team “can I go the distance on these tyres?” We know the team have to deliver the one-two result. Nico earned the pole, he was leading the race – is that just the inner racer in you? Even though you probably know ahead of time that there’s nothing that can be done, that’s why you’re pushing your engineers, pushing the team.

LH:- No, I think in hindsight once Nico pitted I would probably have backed off a little bit and I would have made those tyres go a lot longer. The tyres were still fine at the end so I honestly felt that I could potentially have taken them to the end. But as that didn’t work out, going too long was probably not the right thing to do – but y’know, we gave it a try and did the best job I could with it.

Q: I’ll just come around to Kimi Räikkönen. Ladies and Gentlemen, statistically this is the most popular man in Formula One. You probably say less than any of the other drivers, so welcome back to the podium. It’s not been a great season for you but that was a World Champion’s drive today – so why has it taken so long in the season to deliver this great performance?

Kimi Raikkonen (referred here after as KR):- I think we started better this season but obviously not been ideal this year. That’s how it goes sometimes. And y’know, the speed has been there but mistakes and problems and stuff like that. So the end result hasn’t been great many times but today, or this weekend, was a bit better. Everything was working well and things were running smoothly, car handling well, so, it was good – but obviously not enough still to beat these two but, y’know we did our best.

Q: Nico, finally with yourself, the smile says it all. The World Championship is the one thing… this is your 14th victory. You can take pole positions, you can win grands prix – how are you going to attack the winter and come back next year and try and beat this man?

NR:- Well I look forward to it as I’m sure it’s going to be another great season next year. I’m sure the team is going to give us an awesome car again. Of course we’re aware of the threat from the red guys and we don’t them to come too close and we’ll give it everything over the winter. I’ll try to keep it going, the current form, starting next year.


Q: You knew what Lewis was doing, obviously, in terms of strategy in the final part of the Grand Prix, the offset on the tyres etc, and you responded. Are you pleased with the way you drove today?

NR:- Yeah, for sure, ecstatic with the way it went, because really master-managed… controlled the pace through the race and managed my tyres and used them optimally and pushed all the way through to the end, so had good pace there with tyres that’s for sure and had a lot more laps on them than Lewis’s so very pleased with that, definitely.

Q: I wonder which of the two of you goes into the winter feeling the happier?

NR:- I’m feeling very happy.

Q: Lewis, you’re a three time World Champion, it’s been a record-breaking year, which of the two of you goes into the winter feeling the happier?

LH:- I think being World Champion sounds a lot better than winning the race, so that’s good.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your race because we were let in on quite a lot of radio, partly, as David Coulthard just referred to there, your question whether or not there was an argument for staying out, but also in the final stages there to do with the engine modes and some quite firm instructions from your engineer, what they wanted you to do. Maybe you could just let us into that a little bit and also from a strategy point of view, you pitted after Vettel who went onto supersofts and you put softs on, so maybe you could just explain that?

LH:- Well, I just did what I was told pretty much, most of the time and then yeah, I tried as hard as I could in the first stint, I tried to keep a relatively decent gap to Nico, looking after my tyres and then my right front… or both fronts went off quite early and Nico was able to… in the clean air, was able to look after them.

In the second stint I was quicker and getting close and then… I could make the tyres last longer, yeah, of course, but after that it was really down to the team, whether or not we went to the option or the other tyre. I’m not sure which one was better but the prime tyre was quite good. I’m not sure whether or not I could have taken it to the end but some part of me just wishes I’d just given it a go.

But no, the engine modes were going up and down throughout the race, not really sure they were like that because they had lots of life left in my engine but I’ll ask when I get back to the debrief.

Q: Kimi, your third podium of this championship, you finished eleven seconds behind Lewis which is about 0.2s per lap over the Grand Prix distance here. Do you take encouragement from the way that Ferrari’s finished the last couple of races going into the winter and next year?

KR:- I think the whole year, as a team, has been quite good comparing last year and obviously not so good for myself but the speed has been there and it’s just not been able to produce the results and having some issues and mistakes but this weekend has been pretty OK, the car’s been handling well. I think in the race we could have been quite a bit closer but we had some issues at both pit stops so we lost some time and then I slowed down a bit.

But I think we had a reasonably good speed, they didn’t really pull away a lot from us. At certain points, I think we were catching them and then they were pulling out but not an awful lot in it. It’s never nice to finish third but I’ll take it after previous races. I guess it always could have been a better finish but OK, I think it was more or less what we expected to get.


Q: (Lennart Bernke – Bild) Nico, Lewis, will you get each other a Christmas present?

NR:- Hmm, maybe a Christmas card.

LH:- I don’t think we’ve ever done either so there’s no reason to change.

Q: (Rami Akhawi – Car on Web) Nico, about next year, are we going to see you as a World Champion, because already you entered the season with great victories, so is it the same way to start 2016?

NR:- Well, unfortunately 2016 is so far away. At the moment I’m just enjoying now, enjoying the wins. I’m going to party tonight, I’m enjoying the fun, enjoying that I progressed also a lot in the end of the season, too late for the championship of course, but so great now to have it and that’s it. I can’t tell you about next year unfortunately, but I’ll give it everything

Q: (Fadi Kallassina – Arab Shift) Lewis, what’s your feeling for not getting the first position with the 44 celebration national day?

LH:- I’m really grateful to have been associated with the UAE with the 44th national day. Yeah, I’m still going for that 44th win. I’m quite happy with the amount of wins I’ve had in my career. Of course, I always want more but I have to be grateful for the ones I do have. Hopefully we’ve got another three years with this team so I’m looking forward to next year, to come back fit and healthy and let’s see what we can do next year.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, does it now, afterwards, feel any better to finish the season fourth (in the Drivers’ championship)  instead of being fifth and especially after being 12th last season?

KR:- Not really. You guys have been asking between me and Valtteri for a long time and still it doesn’t make much difference to me. It’s not what you think, a Finnish championship, it’s a World Championship and there are winners it goes from there. If you don’t win, it doesn’t make an awful lot of difference if you’re second, wherever you finish. I’m happy to have had a kind of OK race in the last one but it doesn’t change anything really of how our season went, what to expect for next year. One of the better weekends but we’ll take it and go from here.

2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Race Review


On Saturday, we saw Nico Rosberg taking Pole Position for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen.

The start of the 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

The start of the 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is underway! Nico Rosberg gets a great start as Lewis Hamilton defends off Sergio Perez.

Fernando Alonso and Pastor Maldonado collide at the start of the Abu Dhabi GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Fernando Alonso and Pastor Maldonado collide at the start of the Abu Dhabi GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

As we get into Turn 1, Pastor Maldonado officially retires from the race after colliding with the McLaren of Fernando Alonso. Carlos Sainz Jr has had a great start and is able to pass Daniil Kvyat.

Nico Rosberg leads the early stages of the Abu Dhabi GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Nico Rosberg leads the early stages of the Abu Dhabi GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

In the next few corners, there are cars everywhere and Sebastian Vettel by Turn 9 is in eleventh place. By Lap 2, Rosberg leads his team mate Hamilton by 1.4 seconds. There is a battle between Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo for fifth place. At the chicane, Kvyat is able to pass Bottas for position.

The next lap sees Felipe Massa passing Carlos Sainz Jr for seventh place. The battle between Bottas and Kvyat continues and Kvyat is able to stay ahead of the Finnish driver. Lap 4 sees Felipe Nasr and Romain Grosjean battle for fourteenth place; with Grosjean winning the battle.

Nico Hulkenberg chasing Daniel Ricciardo in the early stages of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Nico Hulkenberg chasing Daniel Ricciardo in the early stages of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lap 6 sees the stewards announce that Maldonado and Alonso will be investigated for causing a collusion at the first corner on the first lap of the race. But on the track, Daniel Ricciardo is finally able to pass Nico Hulkenberg for fifth place after Hulkenberg tries to defend.

It was then announced by the stewards that Alonso will receive a drive through penalty for his part in causing the collusion with Maldonado; which I think is very unfair; given the fact that Felipe Nasr had a big part in helping this.

Valtteri Bottas chasing Sainz Jr in the early stages in the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Valtteri Bottas chasing Sainz Jr in the early stages in the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

By Lap 7, Rosberg has built his lead up to 2.1 seconds ahead of the field. There is a battle for fifth between Sainz Jr and Bottas; with Bottas gaining quickly. At the end of the lap, Sainz Jr and Hulkenberg pit.

As Bottas pits at the end of the Lap 8 for new tyres and is released by the Williams team, he made contact with Jenson Button who was coming into the pits also to get new tyres and has damaged his front wing. This incident will now be investigated by the stewards.

Lewis Hamilton takes the lead of the Abu Dhabi GP on Lap 11. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lewis Hamilton takes the lead of the Abu Dhabi GP on Lap 11. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lap 11 sees Lewis Hamilton take the lead of the race after Rosberg made his pit stop at the end of Lap 10.  On the track, Grosjean and Perez are having a great battle with each other for fifth pace; with Perez gaining the place and then Grosjean regaining the place back. The next lap saw Bottas receiving a five second time penalty for an unsafe release after colliding with Jenson Button a few laps previously.

In a great move, Ricciardo is finally able to pass Marcus Ericsson on Lap 12 for seventh place as Perez finally passes Grosjean for fifth place on the track. The next lap sees Massa passing Ericsson for ninth place and Kvyat passing Ericsson for tenth place.

Lewis Hamilton passes Sebastian Vettel on Lap 4 for second place. All rights reserved for Sutton Images.

Lewis Hamilton passes Sebastian Vettel on Lap 14 for second place. All rights reserved for Sutton Images.

Lap 14 saw Hamilton passing Vettel for second place in the race with good move which saw him having to get onto the marbles. The battle for eleventh between Ericsson, Sainz Jr and Verstappen intensifying; with both of the Toro Rosso’s able to pass the Sauber quickly. Lap 16 saw Vettel making room for Raikkonen and is now up to third place.

Nico Rosberg leading the first half of the GP. All rights reserved by Sutton Images.

Nico Rosberg leading the first half of the GP. All rights reserved by Sutton Images.

Lap 18 sees Rosberg leading the race by 6.4 seconds as Hulkenberg, Massa and Kvyat battle each other for eighth place. Three laps later, Grosjean finds himself under pressure from Ricciardo for sixth place; with Ricciardo catching him all the time.

Kimi Raikkonen before his slow pit stop on Lap 32 of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Kimi Raikkonen before his slow pit stop on Lap 32 of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

By Lap 29, Rosberg still leads the race ahead of Hamilton by 1.5 seconds as Perez finds himself under pressure from Ricciardo for track position. As Raikkonen pitted at the end of Lap 32, he suffered a slow pit stop which has helped his team mate gain a position on him. Five laps later, we see a battle on the track between Grosjean, Hulkenberg and Kvyat for seventh place.

Daniel Ricciardo in the latter stages of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Daniel Ricciardo in the latter stages of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

By Lap 40, a battle between Perez, Ricciardo and Vettel for fourth place is ongoing on the track. By the next lap, Vettel has passed Ricciardo in a good move for fifth place and will now want to catch Perez in fourth place as Hamilton pits for new tyres. We then see two laps later a battle between Grosjean, Hulkenberg, Kvyat and Massa for seventh place.

Nico Rosberg leads the race in the final stages. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Nico Rosberg leads the race in the final stages. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lap 45 sees Rosberg leading Hamilton still by 10.6 seconds. Vettel is catching Perez for fourth place; with the gap being as close as 0.5 seconds behind and is able to pass the Force India for position.

The battle for twelfth saw Verstappen and Button battling each other for twelfth; with both drivers battling each other but Verstappen was able to retain his position ahead of the McLaren-Honda driver. The stewards are investigating the incident between the two drivers with Verstappen receiving a five second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

In the last three laps of the race, Grosjean finally passes Sainz Jr for the final point of the race. Lap 54 sees Grosjean passing Kvyat for ninth place as Bottas battles Button for thirteenth place.

Nico Rosberg wins the 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton in second place and Kimi Raikkonen in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Nico Rosberg wins the 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton in second place and Kimi Raikkonen in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Rosberg leads Hamilton on the final lap of the race by 8.4 seconds and wins the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which is his sixth win of the season and his third win in a row and has dominated the race from start to finish.

Hamilton is a credible second 8.2 seconds behind Rosberg, Raikkonen finished in a brilliant third place 19.4 seconds seconds sbehind Rosberg, Vettel was a credible fourth 43.7 seconds behind Rosberg and Perez finished fifth 1.03.9 seconds behind Rosberg.

Ricciardo was a credible sixth 1.05 seconds behind Rosberg, Hulkenberg finishes seventh 1.33.6 seconds behind Rosberg, Massa finished in eighth place 1.37.7 seconds behind Rosberg , Grosjean finished in ninth place 1.38.2 seconds behind Rosberg and Kvyat picked up the final point in tenth 1.42.3 seconds behind Rosberg.

Lewis Hamilton has won the Drivers’ Championship with 381 points, Rosberg is second with 322 points, Vettel is third with 278 points, Raikkonen is fourth with 150 points, Bottas is fifth with 136 points, Massa is sixth with 121 points, Kvyat is seventh with 95 points, Ricciardo is eighth with 92 points, Perez is ninth with 78 points and Hulkenberg is tenth with 58 points.

Mercedes have won the Constructors Championship with 703 points, Ferrari is second with 428 points, Williams are third with 257 points, Red Bull are fourth with 187 points, Force India are fifth with 136 points, Lotus are sixth with 78 points, Toro Rosso are seventh with 67 points, Sauber are eighth with 36 points and McLaren-Honda are ninth with 27 points.


I feel that McLaren have had an terrible weekend. With both drivers struggling all weekend long, it is still clear that the McLaren team have a lot of work to do in order to try and extract performance from their car that they need in order to get back to competitive ways once again as quickly as possible and prepare for the 2016 season. And this has been brought to light this weekend despite Honda saying that the car as improved but this hasn’t translated on the track.

The biggest surprise this weekend for me was Perez getting fifth place in the race. I do feel that Sergio drove a superb race to gain fifth today despite a lonely race and it is very well deserved. And for Perez to secure Force India this result on their 150th GP shows that he did a brilliant job yesterday and has shown that despite not having the outright pace to challenge their rivals; he drove a great race to claim this result today and showed why he was signed by the team.

Kvyat did a brilliant job to get tenth place and had a great battle to get there after battling with Grosjean for most of the race. These points for himself and Red Bull are vital and only shows just how much promise he has as a driver if he has the car underneath him to do so and that he is a talented and promising racing driver.

Grosjean battled his way through today to get ninth place today. He battled his way through the field and created some great overtaking moves to get there. Grosjean may not have had the weekend that he wanted with Lotus this weekend despite what is going on in his home country at the moment, but he did the best that he could do and picked up some more points for the team and also ended his relationship with them in the best way that he could on the track.

Massa had a bit of a lonely race to finish eighth. But he managed to score some much needed points for himself and his team and even though he couldn’t beat his team mate, he still managed to get a result from the weekend and will help him prepare for the 2016 season.

Hulkenberg did a great job to get seventh place today after battling with Ricciardo yesterday. But in a race where many expected him to finish and keep his impressive record at the event, he has managed to gain some points for the team and put himself in good stead for the 2016 season.

Ricciardo did a great job to finish in sixth after battling with Hulkenberg for most of the race. Even though it is not the finish that he wanted to the season, this will only spur him on to achieve better for next season.

Vettel did a great job to get fourth place today and deserves a mention. He drove a solid race today and he did a great job to secure some much needed points for his team after a good performance this weekend and it is clear that the car was working well for them as a result. This will only help him prepare for the 2016 season.

Raikkonen did a credible job to finish third today especially after doing his best to challenge the Mercedes drivers. Raikkonen this weekend has managed to struggle to extract pace and performance from the car this weekend; and I feel that the results that Kimi achieved today will only spur him on to get better ready for the 2016 season.

Hamilton deserves a mention. He drove a solid race to second place. He may not have won the battle with his team mate; and didn’t have a chance to try and get past but he did a great job to secure a podium today. What a fantastic job from him and this will only give him a slight satisfaction heading into the winter break. But don’t forget he is Champion!

All that is left to say about this race is that Rosberg deserved to win at Abu Dhabi and he needed to in order to show that he cannot be discounted as a driver.  His driving was brilliant and controlled throughout the race. Mercedes has built on the results that they have gained so far this season with him and have shown that they are just the best team on the grid at the moment. All credit to Rosberg for doing a superb job this weekend and winning his sixth race of the season.

Well that’s another season over. This season saw Mercedes once again being dominant once again and we saw Lewis Hamilton winning his second consecutive Drivers Championship and Mercedes winning their second consecutive Constructors Championship. But we did see Sebastian Vettel at times taking the fight to them and winning races in his first season with Ferrari.

We also saw Max Verstappen showing his doubters wrong in his first season with the Toro Rosso team and showing what an amazing talent he is, Force India achieving fifth place in the Constructors Championship for the first time in their history and McLaren-Honda having a season to forget.

But with the pre-season test at the Abu Dhabi circuit this week, all eyes will be upon the 2016 season (which I will be covering) and all I can say is thank you to everyone for reading my F1 coverage this season and I hope you will join me next season.

Mercedes seek FIA clarity over Ferrari and Haas Partnership


It was announced today that the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team has written to the FIA asking for clarity over Formula One’s aerodynamic regulations amid suspicions the partnership between the Scuderia Ferrari team and 2016 new-comers Haas F1 Team who may have found loopholes in the regulations.

As a new team starting in the sport next year, Haas’ wind tunnel and CFD development has not been restricted in the same way as existing F1 teams and it has been using Ferrari’s wind tunnel and facilities extensively to develop its 2016 car.

Earlier this year, the rest of the current teams raised their suspicions over the relationship, believing Haas may be running a joint wind tunnel programme with Ferrari to help develop the current SF15-T, but a visit by the FIA’s F1 Technical and Sporting Co-ordinator Marcin Budkowski reported nothing wrong with the way the two teams are operating.

But Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff labelled the relationship “very intelligent” earlier this year, but on October 15 Mercedes technical boss Paddy Lowe wrote to the FIA’s race director Charlie Whiting regarding a number of ambiguities he believed now existed over Appendices 6 and 8 of the Sporting Regulations.

Appendix 6 lists the parts a team must own the intellectual property to in order to compete and Appendix 8 deals with restrictions over aerodynamic testing. Although Haas and Ferrari were not mentioned specifically, Lowe’s questions seek clarity on the relationship allowed between an existing F1 team and a potential new outfit such as Haas.

An FIA document released which has been released to the media in Abu Dhabi today added that “resolution of the ambiguities is of the utmost importance to Mercedes as it is currently considering the possibility of collaborating with third parties on its testing programme, including the sharing of staff and knowledge, which it believes could be permitted under the current Regulations as drafted”.

As the questions relate to F1’s sporting regulations, the matter has been referred to the stewards of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for consideration, who met with Mercedes on Saturday and intend to reach a decision before Sunday’s race. However, any decision may be subject to appeal.

2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Post-Qualifying Press Conference Transcript


Here is the transcript from the Post-Qualifying Press Conference ahead of the 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as provided by the FIA as follows:-


1 – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes)

2 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)

3 – Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN (Ferrari)


Nico, six poles in a row at the end of the season – how have you done it?

Nico Rosberg (referred here after as NR):- Well, before it was close in the other direction and now its close in this direction. I’m quicker in the moment. I’m very pleased about that and enjoying the moment and happy to be in pole again.

Lewis, coming to you, obviously very string all weekend, strong in Q1, strong in Q2 but then in Q3 it sort of slipped away. Was there a reason for that in particular?

Lewis Hamilton (referred here after as LH):- Not really, I’ve generally been struggling with the car a bit all weekend. But we’ve been working really hard to make some changes; we’ve had to take something off the car but no, Nico was just really quick today and he did a great job in Q3.

OK, coming to you Kimi, close battle obviously with the Force India of Sergio Perez for the third place on the grid. You’ll start alongside him in the grand prix tomorrow. Your final lap, though, was the one that did it. You’ve been quick all weekend but did you feel the pressure from Perez and what was the secret in the end, particularly with your team-mate down in 16th?

Kimi Raikkonen (referred here after as KR):- No real secret. Obviously the car has been handling pretty well all weekend. The laps haven’t been ideal many times. Even the first run, it was OK the lap, but nothing like… I knew there was quite a lot of room to improve so I just tried to make one a bit better lap and it was enough. Obviously still a bit of a way off from what these guys can do but we did our best today.

Coming back to you Nico, a disappointing race last here in Abu Dhabi. The race tomorrow, though, a chance to end the season with a hat-trick of victories. How important is it to carry that kind of momentum into the winter.

NR:- Primarily I would just like to win the race, because it’s a great feeling to win and it would also give my whole crew and the team a great end to the season and a good reason to party then tomorrow night. That would be awesome, to all have a good time together. So that’s primarily on my mind. Of course, though, whatever we learn this year as well helps going into next year, so it would be great finishing on a high.


Nico, once again strategy starting to come into play during Saturday afternoon, noticeably that you saved new soft tyres for the race tomorrow, going out on supersofts in Q1. We’ve seen that a few times from your team, so fairly clear what you’re thinking about, but how important do you think strategy will be tomorrow in terms of the outcome of the grand prix?

NR:- Strategy is always important. I think we’ve done our homework really well here, practicing well on Friday for the race, so we pretty much know exactly what to expect and the soft tyre will definitely be the better race tyre, so that’s why we saved one of those for the race.

Lewis, coming to you, obviously you’ve been fairly relaxed about the situation at the end of this season in terms of qualifying and the pendulum as it has swung. Over the balance of the year then it’s 12-7 to you in qualifying in the battle with Nico. Maybe you could just give us your thoughts on the Saturday, how the year has gone for you and your thoughts on that over the course of the season?

LH:- It’s been good. It doesn’t really matter what that number is at the end of the day, what matters is the wins and obviously the championship, but you know, I’m happy because it has obviously been more in my favour. I’ve enjoyed it and in the last six Nico has done a great job. Areas to improve with the car, for me, on my side, but I’m sure we’ll get there.

Q: And for you Kimi, this is your fourth top three qualifying of the season. Do you feel going into 2016, with all you’ve said this weekend about hopes and aspirations for next year, that qualifying in particular is an area to work on?

KR:- I don’t think it’s going to be as simple as that and if you qualify well you’re going to have a good finish. We have had good speed but many times a problem or mistakes here and there. Obviously it makes qualifying more difficult and hurts your end result easily but today, this weekend, everything’s been running smoothly and obviously it’s a bit better starting grid tomorrow but we have to still make a good race out of it. It doesn’t change what we do this year for next year anything. We start from zero in January and try to do a good year next.


Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Samomat) Nico, how tempting is it to try to get your seventh successive pole in the beginning of next season as Lewis did this year and to charge yourself for the whole winter.

NR:- With all the respect, that’s not really a target of mine. Of course it’s great to finish the season on a high now and then yeah, I’ll be motivated to start next year in a way that this year has finished. That would be great. Unfortunately it’s not as simple as that but, as always, I’ll push and try and begin strongly next year.

Q: (Agris Lauzinieks – Kapitals Latvia) The question is what is the secret of your revival this season Nico? I mean two last races. Perhaps Mercedes is experimenting with new parts meant for 2016 and they are more suitable for your driving style. I mean new parts of the car.

NR:- It’s not a revival, I haven’t reinvented anything. It’s just progress and that’s it. Before it was always very, very close but Lewis had that one-tenth edge and at the moment it’s me that has the one-tenth edge. Today a bit more but it was very close lately in the last two races. That’s it. At the moment I’m just quicker.

Q: (Dan Knutson – Honorary) Lewis, you said you’ve been struggling with the car all weekend. What has been the problem and will it be worse in the race?

LH:- Generally it gets a little bit better in the race but it’s been for a while now. Generally just struggling on the edge with the car. It was a lot more comfortable at the beginning of the year for me and as I said, coming into this weekend I tried to make some changes. It disadvantaged myself a little bit maybe with one of the things I took off the car which was of benefit. I tried to get around it but at the end of the day it wasn’t good enough.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Samomat) Kimi, you seem to be quicker with the soft tyre in the practice. Does that mean the race is easier for you compared to qualifying.

KR:- I don’t think it’s going to be any easier. I mean, in qualifying the supersofts were working well and obviously yesterday and this morning wasn’t ideal. Couldn’t get the lap with those. Couldn’t get the lap with those but again in qualifying they were fine. Obviously conditions changed from daytime to this evening but no, both tyres seem to be working pretty well for me and we’ll see what we’re going to do tomorrow – which one we’re going to run and how it’s going to plan out in the first few laps.

2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Qualifying Review


But heading into Qualifying, it would seem that Mercedes are looking like the team to beat heading into the session that look set to gain Pole Position ahead of the race on Sunday. But Ferrari, Toro Rosso or Force India may spring a surprise and throw a spanner into the works based on their early pace and promise within the Practice sessions.

Let the battle for Pole Position begin…

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in Q1. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in Q1 and Q2. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

In Q1, Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets with a time of 1.40.974, Nico Rosberg was second, Sergio Perez was third, Nico Hulkenberg was fourth and Daniel Ricciardo was fifth. Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen, Daniil Kvyat, Jenson Button and Romain Grosjean managed to get 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th places for their teams. At the end of Q1, we lose  Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Marcus Ericsson, Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi.

But we saw in Q1 Fernando Alonso picking up a rear left puncture on his McLaren-Honda and this hampered his process in the session.

In Q2, Hamilton tops the timesheets with a time of 1.40.758, Rosberg was second, Perez was third, Raikkonen was fourth and Ricciardo was fifth. Bottas, Hulkenberg, Kvyat, Massa and Sainz Jr managed to get 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th places for their teams. At the end of Q1, we lose Max Verstappen, Jenson Button, Pastor Maldonado, Felipe Nasr and Romain Grosjean.

During Q2, Nico Hulkenberg’s race engineer informs him that they have a deflating front left tyre and to “take it easy on the straights”. We also saw Romain Grosjean’s race engineer asking him to bring the car home as they have a problem with the hydraulics which led to him stopping in the final minute of Q2.

The battle for Pole Position is on…

Nico Rosberg claims Pole Position for the Abu Dhabi GP ahead of Lewis Hamilton in second place and Kimi Raikkonen in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Nico Rosberg claims Pole Position for the Abu Dhabi GP ahead of Lewis Hamilton in second place and Kimi Raikkonen in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

In Q3, Rosberg takes his sixth Pole Position of this season, his sixth consecutive Pole in a row and his twenty-first Pole of his career at the Abu Dhabi GP with a lap time of 1.40.237 and showing that he can still challenge ahead of Hamilton who was 0.377 seconds behind Rosberg and also ahead of Raikkonen who did a super job to finish in third 0.814 seconds behind Rosberg.

Perez finished in fourth place 0.947 seconds behind Rosberg, RIcciardo finished in fifth 1.207 seconds behind Rosberg, Bottas finished in a credible sixth 1.419 seconds behind Rosberg, Hulkenberg finished in seventh 1.449 seconds behind Rosberg, Massa finished in eighth 1.522 seconds behind Rosberg, Kvyat finished in ninth 1.696 seconds behind Rosberg and Sainz Jr finished in tenth place 2.471 seconds behind Rosberg.

It would seem that Mercedes genuinely has the pace to challenge for the race win again this weekend despite their form in Qualifying. Both of the Mercedes drivers seem to have the cars underneath them to do this and have been consistent and fast throughout every session so far this weekend.

You cannot discount  Raikkonen, Perez, or Ricciardo even to be challenging also for the race win and could also be the dark horses to take the win away from Mercedes (and also Ferrari in Mercedes’ case) that could see gaining some points on their rivals to leapfrog in the Constructors Championship.

Kvyat, Hulkenberg, Massa, Bottas or Sainz Jr could also have a decent race tomorrow and pick up some much needed points for their respective teams. Will it rain tomorrow? I do not know. Who will win the Grand Prix on Sunday? I really don’t know.

Let’s see what happens tomorrow on the Yas Marina circuit on race day today…

2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Practice Review


Abu_Dhabi_Grand_Prix.JPG_843180934Nico Rosberg wins the Brazilian Grand Prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton in second place and Sebastian Vettel in third place. Force India, Red Bull and Williams managed to also achieve points finishes in the race as well.

Heading into the final weekend of the Formula One calendar, it was announced on Wednesday morning that the F1 Commission has rejected an alternative engine proposal to save costs in  the sport. To read more about this, then please read my article here:-

Also, it is Romain Grosjean’s last race for Lotus as he moves on to drive for the Haas F1 team for the 2016 season. Even though both parties have had good times and bad times, they will miss each other and will have fond memories. And I hope they have a good weekend and get a result that is worthy of the time they have worked together.

The Yas Marina Circuit is located on Yas Island, about 30 minutes from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Approximately 50,000 spectators can view the action on the circuit from permanent, covered grandstands that protect visitors from the desert sun. It is the only motorsports venue in the world where all of the grandstands are covered.

The circuit is 5.55 kilometers long and can be split into two smaller tracks of 3.1 kilometers and 2.4 kilometers, which can operate simultaneously where desired. A total of 21 corners with 9 right turns and 12 left turns.

The width of the circuit fluctuates from 12-16 meters. The direction is anti-clockwise. The track has a lot of hairpins and long straights and there is few potential overtaking places. The pit lane entry is very challenging, as is the exit, which runs underneath the track in a tunnel.

At 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, for the first time in Formula 1 history, a race was scheduled to start in daylight and end during night-time. The race was started approximately one hour before sunset. The permanent lighting system was turned on from the start of the race to ensure a seamless transition from daylight to dark.

The world’s largest indoor theme park, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, is also located on Yas Island. The park hosts more than 20 rides and attractions. One of the attractions, Formula Rossa, has the same G force one would feel driving in an F1 car and braking at maximum speed. It is the world’s fastest roller coaster, powered through the 2.07 km track at speeds up to 240 km/h, reaching 0-100 km/h in less than two seconds.

Practices 1, 2 and 3

The main headline from the Practice sessions is Mercedes look to have the driver-car package to beat this weekend as weather conditions and tyre management which will test the drivers, teams and the cars throughout Friday and Saturday practice sessions.

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in FP1.

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in FP1.

Practice 1 saw Lewis Hamilton topping the timesheet with a time of 1.43.754 followed closely by Nico Rosberg with a gap of 0.141 seconds behind, Kimi Raikkonen was in third with a gap of 0.746 seconds behind, Daniil Kvyat was in fourth 0.948 seconds behind and Sebastian Vettel was in fifth place 1.006 seconds behind Hamilton.

Nico Hulkenberg was in sixth 0.997 seconds behind, Daniel Ricciardo was seventh 1.139 seconds behind, Sergio Perez was eighth 1.180 seconds behind, Pastor Maldonado was ninth 1.560 seconds behind and Felipe Massa rounded off the top ten and was 1.679 seconds behind Hamilton.

Nico Rosberg topped the timesheets in FP2.

Nico Rosberg topped the timesheets in FP2 and FP3.

Practice 2 saw Rosberg topping the timesheet with a time of 1.41.983 followed closely by Hamilton with a gap of 0.138 seconds behind, Perez was in third with a gap of 0.627 seconds behind, Ricciardo was in fourth 0.644 seconds behind and  Vettel was in fifth place 0.734 seconds behind Rosberg.

Kvyat was in sixth 0.815 seconds behind, Raikkonen was seventh 0.866 seconds behind, Hulkenberg was eighth 0.945 seconds behind, Alonso was ninth 0.972 seconds behind and Maldonado rounded off the top ten and was 1.448 seconds behind Rosberg.

During FP2, the Mercedes drivers were battling each other once again. Hamilton had led the way all the way through the session at the Yas Marina circuit by 0.141 seconds over Rosberg. Following the opening stint on the softs in practice two, Hamilton again held sway over Rosberg, but come the switch to Pirelli’s super-softs, Rosberg seized the advantage.

We also saw during the session that Sainz Jr lost power on the circuit with 30 minutes remaining of the session and parked his car on a safe place on the Yas Marina circuit.

But the biggest surprise of the session was the pace of Sergio Perez who despite having his session ended twenty minutes early due to a brake issue on his Force India car; at the team’s 150th Grand Prix this weekend at the Yas Marina circuit.

Practice 3 saw Rosberg topping the timesheet with a time of 1.41.856 followed closely by Hamilton with a gap of 0.281 seconds behind, Vettel was in third with a gap of 0.329 seconds behind, Perez was in fourth 0..592 seconds behind and Raikkonen was in fifth place 0.771 seconds behind Rosberg.

Ricciardo was in sixth 0.870 seconds behind, Hulkenberg was seventh 1.003 seconds behind, Massa was eighth 1.317 seconds behind, Bottas was ninth 1.383 seconds behind and Sainz Jr rounded off the top ten and was 1.573 seconds behind Rosberg.

During FP3, we saw Sebastian Vettel spinning off at Turn 1. Vettel managed to get the car back under control and continued on during the session. We also saw Lewis Hamilton spinning out of Turn 6 after carrying too much speed but he was able to recover from this and carry on with the session.

You would be stupid not to bet against the Mercedes drivers of Hamilton and Rosberg to gain pole position again this weekend. As the Mercedes drivers seem to be performing brilliantly at the moment and the momentum is with them from all the track mileage and their strong form from the last race.

But Raikkonen and Vettel are both looking strong this weekend and could snatch pole from them. However, Perez, Hulkenberg, Massa and Bottas also cannot be discounted for the pole also as they are consistently within the top ten places at the moment.

However, I think that Lotus have shown that they could throw themselves into the mix and could qualify well here to be in the hunt for some decent points this weekend. We all look forward to the qualifying session of the Grand Prix with excitement…

2015 Abu Dhabi Team Principals Press Conference Transcript


Here’s the official transcript from the Team Principals Press Conference ahead of the 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as provided by the FIA as follows:-

TEAM REPRESENTATIVES – Cyril ABITEBOUL (Renault), Maurizio ARRIVABENE (Ferrari), Federico GASTALDI (Lotus), Christian HORNER (Red Bull Racing), Claire WILLIAMS (Williams) Toto WOLFF (Mercedes)


Cyril, it’s been a little while since you’ve been here joining us in the press conference. You’ve been talking a little bit recently about next year – larger budgets etc – but can you tell us what exactly Renault will be doing next year in Formula One?

Cyril Abiteboul (referred here after as CB):- Well I’m afraid I can’t answer to that question. I would like to be in a position to be able to answer to that questions, but I am not today. What I can say is that there will be no announcement regarding Renault’s future – short-term or middle-term future – over the weekend, but there will be an announcement, very likely, in the course of next week. We have always said that we would like to do that after the season. Thee season is ending on Sunday, around the start of December and that is what we will do stick to that plan, which is to make an announcement then.

OK, Federico, if I could come to you, where does that leave you and your thoughts on this?

Federico Gastaldi (referred here after as FG):- Well, we are on the same page. As I keep saying we have been working, all the time, actually since the Singapore race. We have Renault people already at the factory and it doesn’t change anything. They are the ones who have to announce. We cannot push Renault to make the decision because it’s their call.

Christian, coming to you, you were quoted this morning as saying that you know now for sure what engine you are going to use next year, but clearly no announcement yet, so what’s holding that up?

Christian Horner (referred here after as CH):- Well, we have and agreement in place for next year, so it’s great news that we will be on the grid next year, but unfortunately due to circumstance beyond our control we can’t announce exactly what that is. Perhaps Toto can tell you?


Toto Wolff (referred here after as TW):- Can I?

Coming back to you then Cyril, can you give us a sense of what it’s been like in the past weeks and months, the work that’s gone on behind the scenes and also your own personal ambitions for the brand?

CA:- It’s typical Formula One. I think it has been a proper rollercoaster for us, for me, but also for the whole team, for a lot of people involved, I should say technical people involved in the engine programme. Clearly, Federico made reference to the work being done between Lotus and Renault and it’s fair to say that there is a process going on since the signing of the letter of interest on the 28th of September, there is a process involving a lot of people.

I think 50 people have been working night and day on the realisation of a possible acquisition of a majority stake in Lotus. It’s just a project, It’s been a proper rollercoaster, very exciting. I have to say there has been a little bit of frustration on the track. We would have liked to do a better job for Red Bull and Toro Rosso engine-wise, but we always knew it was a long-term game to fix the issues we had.

We have not managed to deliver a product that was in accordance to what we would have liked to do with those new regulations, so hopefully we will have the strategy, the time and the resouces to do that in the next few years.

Thank you for that. Coming back to you Federico, clearly this weekend again a race against time for the mechanics to get the garage and the cars prepared for today’s sessions. Not the first time this has happened. Can you explain the background?

FG:- We have been open in explaining what happened with the team. As everyone knows we have some financial issues. We have been trying to work out a new procedure where the team spends less money. So fortunately between Renault and the shareholders and Mr Ecclestone we kept going but again it’s just the situation we are in in Formula One at the moment. Genii have done a fantastic since they got involved in the team in 2010. We have had podiums, won races, so for a small private team it’s not a bad job.

Tank you. Coming back to you Christian, can you give us your reaction to the outcome of this week’s F1 Commission meeting and the direction taken, the direction from here in terms of the minimum number of teams that a manufacturer should supply and things like the simplification and cost of the engines. Maybe you could give us your thoughts on those items?

CH:- Earlier in the week there was a positive discussion in the Strategy Group where the independent engine was discussed as an alternative product to being into Formula One and I think the reasons that the FIA and the promoter are keen on that is because costs are obviously critically high and as we have seen availability is also a key issue. So that was discussed in the Strategy meeting and it passed through the Strategy meeting.

It then went to the Formula One Commission where despite a lot of the teams voicing concerns about costs the vote for the independent engine at that point wasn’t carried through. However, as a compromise position the manufacturers agreed and were requested to report back to the Commission by the 15th of January a solution to the current issues – a cheaper product, a more affordable product, a more available product and something that could potentially entice other manufacturers to come into Formula One.

I think that the situation as we see it is that subject to what the manufacturers come back with by the 15th will depend whether or not the FIA feel the need to proceed with an independent engine to meet that criteria. So, it’s going on at the moment obviously, the time between now and the 15th of January is going to be a critical and busy period to define what this new power unit should be and what the cost and availability criteria are going to be.

Can I throw that across to you then Toto, your thoughts on what Christian’s just said and the likelihood of a resolution?

TW:- The outcome is public and the independent engine concept with a balance of performance has not been approved. Nevertheless we are all pretty aware that you need to work on your product and develop your product and there are certainly aspects of that engine which can be looked at – costs of supplies is a very legitimate cause.

The situation where a team might end up having no engine needs to be addressed and this is the task we have taken away. Is there an alternative concept from 2018 onwards which can address some of these topics, including the noise factor, question mark. We are looking at this and mid-January we are going to come back with hopefully a concept that is workable, financeable and that ticks all those boxes.

Maurizio, can you give us Ferrari’s position on this?

Maurizio Arrivabene (referred here after as MA):- Already at the Strategy Group level the power units manufacturers they were more than keen to discuss about the 2018 engine with all the characteristics described before by Toto. So it was not a new news. Afterwards, at the F1 Commission the alternative engine was stopped and tomorrow the power manufacture companies are going to meet and we are going to seriously work on the new solution.

Claire, coming to you, in a season where many independent teams have had a rocky road, you have managed to sail on fairly serenely. What’s been the secret?

Claire Williams (referred here after as CW):- I don’t know what the secret is. I think we just tend to keep our heads down and get on doing what we love doing and that’s going racing. We’ve worked hard over the past two years in order to turn this team around. We’ve made a lot of changes within the team and fortunately a lot of those changes are paying off. We’ve managed to secure third in the Constructors’, which is fantastic and testament to all the hard work that has gone in behind the scenes to try to turn this team around over the past 18 months.

I’m really proud of the team and the job they have done this year. I think everyone knows though that there is almost a sense of disappointment that we’re third at Williams. We want to be winning races and fighting for that world championship. We’ve made some mistakes this year that have been fairly visible for people to see and we need to improve upon our operations to make sure we don’t make those mistakes next year and we can continue to improve in 2016.

Tell us about the signing of Lance Stroll, former Ferrari Young Driver Academy prospect. You’ve signed him up, what’s the plan for him?

CW:- Lance is joining our young driver programme, starting next year. We will doing some simulator work with him to try to improve him as a driver. As everyone knows Williams enjoys nurturing young talent and we’ve identified Lance to take on that role next year. He’ll be doing simulator work with our guys at the factory and he will be undertaking a team immersion programme, so similar to the programme we did with Valtteri many years ago now. So he’ll be doing that and we’ll be supporting his season in Formula 3 next year and hopefully he will have a great season and we’;ll see where he ends up at the end of ’16.

Thank you for that. Coming back to you Toto, a record-breaking season comes to an end this weekend. You’ve been beaten only by Ferrari and Maurizio this season. How do you assess that challenge and do you expect a title challenge from them next year? 

TW:- From the numbers it was indeed a very successful season and I am very happy and satisfied with how it went and there is a great buzz in the team and spirits are high but in Formula One as in many other sports and business only tomorrow’s result counts and this is why we are looking very much forward to next season. Ferrari is about best ‘frenemy’ and they have stepped up a lot over the winter.

Clearly in Malaysia it came with a bit of a shock win and it was good for us to see that and I think generally they have done a good job and for F1 it is important that you have more teams competitive in the front fighting with each other, as much as you would like tot see it as a comfortable situation it is not sustainable and the better the platform is the better it is for us all.

Maurizio, your points of view? Is there belief in Maranello that you can come back here 12 months from now and be fighting for the championship?

MA:- I hope so, because last time I said we would like to stay in front of them, this is an objective. Then last weekend somebody said in Italy, they make a statement in the newspaper ‘yeah, but where they want to go, they are going to be second, Mercedes is going to win’, and I was asking ‘So, what you want me to do in terms of objective? To tell to everybody that I would like to be second next year?’ Of course [to beat them] is our objective but it doesn’t mean we are going to achieve it. But we will try very hard.


Q: (Joe Saward – Grand Prix Special) Can I ask the three manufacturer teams: if there was an equivalency formula, would you still be here?

TW:- Formula One is not a place, in my point of view, that should have an equivalency formula. It is very much the World Championship and the pinnacle of the best drivers, the best cars, the best engineering and I think it is important to understand what our DNA is and it has functioned very well over a long period of time. Doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be things we’re looking at and changing for the future but an equivalency formula, balance of performance wouldn’t be Formula One any more.


CA:- It depends on the formula, y’know? Seriously, I think in addition to what Toto has mentioned about the DNA of the sport, the biggest hurdle I can see is that when there is distribution of something like a couple of hundreds of millions that are distributed on a yearly basis, I would not want to be the guy who has to sign off the formula that will decide the distribution. I think that will be opening the doors to an awful lot of discussions.

There is already a lot of politics and talks in our sport, which I think is part of the game frankly, and of the show, but I think it will be simply way too much. So, clearly I believe, as a Renault representative, I recommend to Renault to stay away from that.


MA:- I think we already have an equivalent formula that is so-called Formula Indy. I mean, Formula One, it’s the pinnacle of motorsport so I agree that we need to think about the future in future to reduce the cost but to reduce the cost you need new regulation first. Due to new regulation you can reduce the cost but the competition is distinguished in Formula One and the research from any other motorsport.

Q: (Ian Parkes – Autosport) Question for Toto. Toto, Esteban Ocon has just announced on Twitter that he’s now a Mercedes AMG F1 driver. Does that mean that he’s taken up the reserve role from Pascal? And can we assume that Pascal is therefore moving on to Manor?

TW:- So, yes, we’ve taken up the option on him because he has been with us now, or has been following the DTM team for a while, has been the test driver in DTM and integrated well and he’s doing a very good job in GP3 as well and he’s somebody we’d very much like to have in the family. This is why we’ve exercised the option.

It doesn’t mean that we’ve found a solution for Pascal. The current driver market is a bit difficult because most of the teams have already announced their drivers and it need to be the right deal – but having taken up Esteban we are conscious that we need to find a suitable programme for both of them. It could well mean that it could eventually end up for both of them in a testing role, in a reserve driver role and in a DTM role – so it’s not done yet.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) A question to all of you please. We’re currently talking about 2017 regulations, completely different underbodies etcetera, different aero packages, tyres. At the same time we’re talking about the possibility of a completely different engine concept. Isn’t this indicative of the sort of disjointed approach to Formula One that, on the one side we’re talking about a completely different chassis concept in, sort of, 15 months time, and on the other side, in 18 months or two years, we’re looking at a completely different engine. Should we not co-ordinate these packages together?

CH:- I absolutely agree with you Dieter. We should bring it all in, in 2017.


CW:- I think the conversations are still on-going, I don’t think anything’s been decided yet and I think they’re very early days in those conversations and we’re trying to map out what the best course of action is – but I think you have to remember the reasons behind the fact we’re having these conversations is in order to try and improve our sport and make it the best that it possibly can be – and we’ve still got a bit of a way to go before we do that but I think if you look at the regs that the working groups are working on at the moment around the new car and the chassis etcetera what that’s going to look like and then you look at what we’re trying to do with the engines and bring down the costs of those. If we can get both areas right, then I think in ’17 – and if not, if we have to wait to ’18 so be it – but I think it could make Formula One a much more stable platform that we can all enjoy in the future.


FG:- Well we certainly need the stability but I think there’s still a lot of things to be discussed in order to find a solution that will suit everyone.


CA:- I believe the processes are exactly the same. On chassis side I think we are trying to improve the product which is already a good product, while on the engine side we are trying to recover from a number of issues that are associated to the current regulations. I think we recognise that, that’s why I guess the process is different and the timing of those two exercises is slightly different.


MA:- I think this discussion, it looks less confused than what it is in reality. The chassis is still under discussion and it will be an evolution and not a revolution concerning the engine. The good news is for 2016 and 2017 everything, it’s very clear now, opening also the door to us, because we are still second, to Renault and also to Honda.

We will continue to do our job especially. Tomorrow with the first meeting about the new power unit that is supposed to be in 2017. We try to do all of our best but I think even the Wizard of Oz couldn’t be able to do it for 2017. For sure for 2018. So, it’s much more positive than what it looks like.

Do you agree with that Toto?

TW:- Yeah. There’s some good stuff coming. I think in terms of chassis regulation there’s interesting bits and synchronisation probably makes sense but you need, of course, to look at the costs.

Q: (Christian Menath – Question for all of you. In the past it has always been almost impossible to find one way for all the teams, for all the parties in F1 Commission and Strategy Group and so on. Some people say that now things changed a bit in the last meetings. Why now? Is it the alternative engine that was there or…? Why is it possible now and not in the past?

CH:- I suppose when you look at it, the teams have collectively been spectacularly incapable of coming up with solutions and sensible remedies to the problems – and I think the problem we face in Formula One is you’ve got vested interest. Within your own team you try to protect the elements that are your strengths, that offer you that competitiveness over your opponents. And I think this is where Formula One has tripped over itself over previous years and indeed, the engine formula that we’ve ended up with today arguably is a mistake. It’s expensive.

The technology is fantastic but we’re not doing a great job of communicating that and I think it’s put a situation where probably half the grid is currently insolvent. I think there’s a fundamental question that needs to be answered and that is: what should Formula One be? I certainly believe that Formula One should be entertainment. It should have a technological interest to it but that needs the promoters and the owners of the sport, together with the regulators to decide what that product is, come up with a set of rules, not let engineers write those rules, they come up with those rules and put them in front of the teams and say “that’s what Formula One is going to be and that’s what it should be for the future,” and they need to bring in some people with the right skillset to be able to define what those regulations are.

And there’s good people that aren’t currently in employment within teams at the moment that are impartial, that come up with a set of regulations that are in the best interests of Formula One, that’s going to provide the best show for the fans, for the public, for the paying spectators who are the backbone of what we do because without them there is no show, there is no Formula One and we need to get Formula One back to being a sport that is enthralling to the public.

Maurizio, do you share that view?

MA:- I think if you are winning races, of course the show is perfect for you. If you are not winning races the show needs improvement. It’s normal. But I think at this stage, I’ve said so many, many times, we need to work all together, really to improve the show, to attract more spectator, especially on the segment, on the younger segment – and I think this is something, it’s an objective because the population of the world TV viewer, reader and so on is getting older and older and older and this is what we have to do.

Of course, during the way you find it’s not an easy way to go because of course the people who have an advantage, they want to keep it. The people that doesn’t have any advantage, they are using sometimes this problem to criticize the overall system. I think with great cooperation between all of us, we can solve it.

Toto, back to the question about the level of consensus, what are your thoughts on that?

TW:- I would just follow Maurizio on that one. Summed it up pretty well.

Q (Joe Saward – Grand Prix Special) This is for the three manufacturers again. You guys represent very, very large companies that have lots and lots and lots of money. Why in the world are you fighting over a few millions when you’re getting the technology that Formula One gives and you’re getting the exposure as well? Why don’t you just settle down, give people a decent price and let’s get on with it?


CA:- Thank you! Frankly, it’s a good question. At the end of the day, at the end of the road that might be what’s at stake but I think maybe there is some road to cover before we get there. You’re talking about the amount of money that we all have, yes, absolutely, but you know times are difficult. Automotive car makers have their own challenge, they need to invest for their core business which is road car technology that you find on the road, not on the track. We’ve got a number of risks associated to what we do. I’m not talking about motorsport.

You are aware of the ‘Dieselgate’ and a lot of us are exposed  – maybe not Ferrari – but a lot of us are exposed to this difficulty, this challenge that the world of carmakers are facing but that’s not the only issue, we’ve got a number of issues, like the currency, like the markets, the lack of confidence of certain customers, so we need to be extremely careful. At the end of the sale, it’s a sales and marketing decision. Basically, we need to demonstrate that investing in Formula One, or spending – because it’s not an investment – spending in Formula One is more cost-efficient than spending, for instance, in the regular advertising or spending in badminton in China.

So there is a number of KPIs that we need to follow, that we need to monitor and demonstrate that this is competitive as a marketing spend perspective. At least for a manufacturer, which is a mainstream manufacturer, like Renault, and for which Formula One has always been in the DNA but for which is not a must – there are many carmakers that are very successful and are not in Formula One.

So, we need to be extremely careful about whatever can, I would say, threaten or destabilize our business case in Formula One and obviously subsidizing the cost of engines to independent teams – even though we appreciate it might be a necessity to be in the sport and to have a healthy sport but it is something that is endangering the business case. That is the situation.

TW:- It is a situation where all those big OEMs – like everyone else out there – is trimmed on efficiency and particularly the car industry with the problems Cyril has described, are in a constant loop of margins, recalibrating margins, of trimming down costs and Formula One, although it is part of the DNA what we do at Mercedes, because it’s around the car, it needs to have the right price for what you do and this is why you can’t just apply easy-going mentality and say it doesn’t matter if you spend a little bit more or a little bit less.

It does because somebody will look at the numbers and somebody will make a decision whether it makes sense or not. And this is why we are aware (that) although we have this big mothership behind us, that it needs to be the right price, it needs to have the right value and we are monitoring that and if we are a having a bad race with a bad audience or not the right viewing numbers in terms of what you deliver to your partners, that’s being considered and that is how we operate.

MA:- You don’t have to mix up the big name of Ferrari. Ferrari has a name that is in a worldwide business, it’s at the top. That doesn’t mean that the budget is in a wordwide business at the top. We need to be careful. Mr Marchionne is not joking about that, to respect the budget that is assigned to us. We are not the kind of company that is throwing money out of the window. That’s the point. So don’t mix up the big name with budget. That’s another story.

Q: (Chris Lines – AP) Christian, does this new engine supply deal suggest that Red Bull has a fresh commitment to staying in the sport as a constructor, as an owner? And you describe the deal as a transition. I was wondering, a transition towards what?

CH:- Well, to answer the first part of your question, I think it’s no secret that during the summer that Dietrich Mateschitz became fairly disillusioned with Formula One, with the direction that things were heading. He said in conversations that he’d personally had the undertakings that he had that didn’t come to fruition. He is probably the most committed supporter of Formula One over the last ten years, if you look at two Grand Prix teams, a Grand Prix on the calendar, the amount of promotion that Red Bull worldwide puts into Formula One, the young driver programmes, investing in youth and young talent, more than probably 1500 employees across the different teams and markets, regarding the two Formula One projects.

So for Red Bull it’s a major major part of their promotional budget spend, that is committed to Formula One, and I think that during the summer months or the latter part of the summer, he was seriously concerned with the direction the sport was heading and what the return of Formula One could ultimately provide. I think that having sat and thought about it, he’s decided that there’s too much at stake, that Red Bull have invested so much into the sport that he wants to see the team get back to its former glory.

We’ve got some challenges ahead to achieve that. I think the current constitution of performance obviously in a power unit dominated formula it’s a difficult situation if you’re not aligned to a competitive power unit at this point in time, so 2016 will be a transitional year for us and I think as hopefully regulations come to fruit or come to bear with the changes that Jean Todt is pushing for, that the promoter is pushing for, to achieve a more affordable, more available power unit, can only be a positive thing for any independent team, not just Red Bull but all the other independent teams that are currently on the grid.

Q: (Ian Parkes – Autosport) Christian, with regard to your remarks about a sole regulatory body, that would suggest that perhaps you’re calling for the abolition of the strategy group and the F1 commission. Is that the case, is that feasible and to the other five, do any of you agree with Christian’s remarks that you would again like to see a sole regulatory body, that the teams would no longer have an input?

CH:- I believe that an input is fine and the teams obviously have an investment in the business, so there’s no reason why things shouldn’t be discussed among the key stakeholders and certain teams obviously are stakeholders. And the strategy group is supposed to be looking at the longevity of Formula One but what the strategy group continually gets embroiled in is fire-fighting issues of the current day.

Instead of looking at what should a Formula One car be like in 2020 and beyond, we’re constantly dealing with issues of today and tomorrow, rather than further down the road. So I think that of course there has to be consultation with the teams but at the end of the day, somebody has to run the business, and somebody has to say this is the route that we’re going and a democratic approach to that will not work in our opinion.

CW:- I think it’s a bit of a case of be careful of what you wish for. I think that we’re very lucky that we have – as Williams, as a team – that we have a seat at that table and can be part of the democratic process that we do have in F1 at the moment. I like that, I like being able to be involved but I do think that at the moment, as Christian said, we have a number of agendas on the table and it’s very difficult to get everybody to agree around that table when we’re having discussions and we all run our businesses in very different ways and we all have very different capability within our teams. But I’m not sure if I would subscribe to our sport having a single regulatory body. I think it would be very difficult for everybody around the table.

FG:- Well, I agree with them and I’m sorry to keep repeating the same things but the problem for me is that we are not in the same boat, we are not on the same page and we are not on the same agenda. As Cyril has pointed out before, we are all looking for our own stability as a team individually. It’s hard to have a common approach that will benefit the sport at the end of the day.

CA:- As a Frenchman I am for the dictature (dictatorship) as long as you can chose the dictator. I think it’s fair to say that if we want to be progressive, what Formula One is, maybe there needs to be some form of re-grouping of different groups and functions and something a bit more effective and again progressive.

Having said that, there is always some dangers, that again the power can be in the hands of someone who has a particular agenda which can be the individual or collective, I’m not thinking of anyone in particular. But I think on balance, if you look at Formula One I would prefer it to be more progressive than it is, so if that involves a little bit of dictatorship maybe that would be better.

TW:- Can I follow Claire on her opinion? That’s what I would say.

MA:- I think a couple of years ago we had an aero dominating formula, today we have a power unit dominating formula. I think that the right balance should be defining to be sure to make everybody happy. Then the question if we go for a democratic decision or a kind of dictatorial decision is not for me to decide.

I mean we have a commercial rights holder, we have a federation but of course we also have the interests of the teams so my aim is to find the right balance for the future and to make everybody happy and working to enhance the show and to go back to a spectacular Formula One.

Q: (Nahed Sayooh – Autosport Middle East) Maurizio, you have set a target of three wins this season and the team achieved it. What is the target for 2016?

MA:- The target for 2016 is to cancel the smile from the face of my friend Toto.

Q: (Christopher Joseph – Chicane) Christian, you spoke earlier about the need to communicate the technology aspect of Formula One. Do you think that with the endless discussions about strategy direction, power units etc etc, are we losing the plot in terms of communicating this technology message?

CH:- I think to a degree we are. What these cars achieve with 100 kilos of fuel and the fuel economy they are achieving is impressive but I’m not sure how many fans actually give a damn about that. I think that what they want to see is the drivers who need to be the heroes, racing wheel to wheel and competitive racing.

Machines that are Formula One cars are truly spectacular to drive and I think Formula One is the pinnacle of motor sport and it’s competing against an awful lot of other sports that are now demanding television air time. And it’s got to be entertaining from start to finish. I think that that’s what we need to be striving for, that’s what we need to be looking to achieve.

Now of course technology plays a role but I don’t believe it needs to be the primary role, that should be about the drivers and out-and-out racing.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Toto, from the pit lane in Brazil, you seemed to indicate that the difference in price to the teams of the new engine to the old engine is about plus twenty percent which works out at ten percent per annum, or if that price gets held for next year, about six percent per anum, which is roundabout six percent of a smaller team’s budget. What’s the big outcry about, why do you want to throw this engine out with the bathwater when in fact there’s only about a six percent difference from one to the other?

TW:- I couldn’t follow you on that calculation. But the main point is that there are lots of numbers out there and lots of wrong numbers out there and as a matter of fact I can only speak for Mercedes because these are the calculations I know, it’s from a previous engine spec: the old eight cylinder engine plus KERS. About the difference to what we have today, it is what you have mentioned, 20 or 25 percent.

Is that too much? Maybe. I remember times when I joined Formula One a couple of years ago, the price was around £30m, three-zero plus a driver. Nevertheless, I think it’s legitimate to question the price and obviously the lower the price, the better it is for Formula One, the more sustainable it becomes, the better it is for most of the teams and that is OK and we need to look at it. But the difference is not what’s been said.

Renault/Lotus Announcement to be made next week


Even though we all expected for Lotus and Renault to announce their takeover arrangement this weekend but the French manufacturer says no announcement about its F1 future will be made until next week.

The company is currently negotiating what commercial rights income it is entitled to as a manufacturer team, with Renault pushing for a larger some than was originally offered.

On Friday in the Abu Dhabi paddock, Bernie Ecclestone and CVC’s Donald Mackenzie met with Renault’s vice president of sales and marketing Jerome Stoll to continue talks.

It’s not clear what the outcome of the meeting was; but Renault has warned that it might not push ahead with its works team plan if a satisfactory deal with FOM can’t be struck.

Speaking this morning to the media, Renault Sport boss Cyril Abiteboul confirmed that an announcement would come next week, once the season has drawn to a close. Abiteboul stated the following:-

‘What I can say is that there will be no announcement regarding Renault’s future short term or middle term this weekend. But there will be an announcement very likely in the course of next week. We have always said that we would like to do it after the season, which ends on Sunday, and at the start of December, so that is what we will do. We will make an announcement then.’

The decision leaves Lotus waiting to hear about its own future as it continues to battle financial problems, which most recently led to the team being locked out of the Abu Dhabi paddock until Ecclestone stepped in to pay their outstanding bills that they owed.