Tagged in: F1

Williams family stepping down from its F1 team

The historic chapter-closing move comes a fortnight after the famous Grove outfit was sold to US investment firm, Dorilton Capital.

The Grove team will continue to run under the Williams name into its new era, but will no longer be run by the family.

Sir Frank, who founded the outfit with Sir Patrick Head in 1977, has been one of the most successful team principals/owners in history with seven drivers’ and nine constructors’ championships.

Claire has been in day-to-day control since 2013 in the role of deputy team principal.

She first joined the team in an official capacity in 2002. She stated the new owners had encouraged them to continue on but they had decided it was the right time to step away, having secured the team’s future via the sale and signed the new Concorde Agreement.

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“With the future of the team now secured, this feels like the appropriate time for us to step away from the sport,” said Claire Williams.

“As a family, we have always prioritized Williams. We have demonstrated that by our recent actions with the Strategic Review process and we believe now is the right time to hand over the reins and give the new owners the opportunity to take the team into the future.

“We have been in this sport for more than four decades. We are incredibly proud of our track record and the legacy we leave behind. We have always been in it for the love of it, for the pure pleasure of going motor racing, so this is not a decision that we have taken lightly but after much reflection and as a family”.

Williams have concluded bottom of the standings in each of the past two campaigns and are the only outfit without a point so far in 2020.

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Ferrari, McLaren and Williams commit to F1 until 2025

Ferrari, McLaren, and Williams have all committed their futures to Formula 1 by signing the latest incarnation of the Concorde Agreement.

The Concorde Agreement is essentially a commercial contract that defines significant commercial aspects of a team’s involvement in F1.

By signing the agreement all three teams have committed themselves to the championship until 2025.

“F1 has taken another important stride on the road to a sustainable, strong future with the new agreement,” stated McLaren CEO, Zak Brown.

“This is the right deal at the right time for the sport, its owners, its teams and, most of all, the fans.

“A more equitable sport is better for everyone: greater balance in the sharing of revenues among all the teams and clearer, simpler governance that cuts through vested interests and puts the sport first.

“This agreement will only make the F1 constructors collectively stronger in the long term.” Louis Camilleri, Ferrari CEO, added: “We are pleased to have signed up again to what is commonly known as the Concorde Agreement, which will regulate F1 for the next five years.

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“It is an important step to ensure the stability and growth of the sport.

“We are very confident that the collaboration with the FIA and Liberty Media can make F1 even more attractive and spectacular, while preserving its status as the ultimate technological challenge.”

The latest incarnation of the Concorde Agreement, which has essentially been in place since the early 1980s, marks arguably the greatest change in its history.

Key among the changes is a more equitable distribution of prize money, helping close the financial gap between those at the front and back.

“The new Concorde Agreement represents a major step forward, for both Formula 1 and Williams,” reasoned Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal of Williams Racing.

“As one of the sport’s longest running teams, we are pleased to see the future direction of Formula 1 confirmed for the next era of racing.

“Our expectation, aligned with Liberty Media, is that this next era will be characterized by closer and more exciting racing as a result of the new platform of regulations, which include more equitable revenue distribution and a first ever cost cap for our sport.

“The Agreement is a major milestone in the development of Formula 1, and also represents a significant opportunity for Williams to continue on our journey back towards the front of the grid.”

All seven remaining teams are estimated to sign the agreement, the deadline for doing so having been pushed back from last week.

Then, Mercedes stated that it was not ready to sign the document, though that position changed over the course of the Spanish Grand Prix weekend. The Concorde Agreement came into being in an effort to end the ‘FISA-FOCA’ war that waged between the FIA (FISA) and teams (FOCA) in the early 1980s.

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Hamilton wants three more years in F1

Lewis Hamilton expects to stay in Formula One for at least three more years, revealing he is motivated to stay in the sport by its lack of diversity and his desire to prove he deserves a space on the grid.

The six-time world champion is out of contract with Mercedes at the end of 2020 but is expected to negotiate a renewal with the team over the upcoming months.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix, he revealed that he is targeting a minimum of three more years in the sport but confessed that nothing was concrete.

“I think you still have to earn the right to be here in terms of how you perform and continue to deliver,” he said. “So my goal is to continue to deliver as long as I can. I do see myself going for at least another three years.”

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Hamilton made his F1 debut in 2007 with McLaren, won his first title in 2008 and moved to Mercedes in 2013.

Since then he has added five more titles and looks set for a record-equaling seventh this year if he can fend off Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton said the delayed start to the season due to the coronavirus pandemic may have inadvertently extended his career by giving him time to rest and reflect.

“The COVID lockdown meant the first part of the season was cancelled, and while that was a negative in many, many ways, in some ways it gave a lot of life and energy to focus on some other things and that bit of time off was really a bit of breathing space. It has kind of giving me a renewed bit of energy to perhaps go longer.

“Ultimately I want to be able to perform at the level I am performing at now forever, but obviously there is a point at which physicality and the mental side can tail off. I don’t know when that’s going to be, but I don’t see that happening in a particular short term in the next two or three years, so I am definitely going to be here for the foreseeable future.”

Speaking about his motivation to stay in the sport, Hamilton cited the lack of drivers from his background in junior categories.

The 35-year-old is F1’s only Black driver and has taken the lead in campaigning for greater diversity in the sport.

Speaking about his motivation to stay in the sport, Hamilton cited the lack of drivers from his background in junior categories. The 35-year-old is F1’s only Black driver and has taken the lead in campaigning for greater diversity in the sport.

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Renault confirms it will stay in F1

Hot on the heels of Formula 1 and the FIA revealing a raft of rule changes – including the reduction of the revolutionary new budget cap from $175 million to $145 million for 2021 – Renault have confirmed that they plan to stay in the sport for the foreseeable future.

The team, which returned to Formula 1 in a works capacity in 2016, have suffered setbacks in recent times, losing star driver Daniel Ricciardo to McLaren for 2021 after a 2019 campaign which saw them fall from fourth to fifth in the constructors’ standings – while McLaren will also switch to Mercedes power units from next season, leaving Renault without a customer team to supply.

The Renault parent company have also recently declared nearly 15,000 job cuts worldwide as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as part of a €2bn cost-cutting plan.

Despite that, the company’s Acting Chief Executive Officer Clotilde Delbos revealed in an online presentation with the media that Formula 1 was still where Renault – who first entered the sport back in 1977 – wanted to be.

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“We have said publicly, and we confirm, that we intend to stay in Formula 1,” said Delbos.

“Actually the news about new regulations, a new cap in terms of investment, is very good for us because we had less investment in this area than some of our competitors, who were spending a lot of money. So F1, we’re here and we’ll stay.”

Renault’s restating of their commitment to Formula 1 could be seen as a boost to the team’s probabilities of luring Fernando Alonso out of retirement, as sources have indicated the Spaniard has had talks about a potential return to the squad with which he won his two world titles in 2005 and 2006. But with the team believed to have paid top dollar to secure the services of Ricciardo in 2019, it’s unclear in the current financial climate whether they’d be prepared to commit to the high salary demands that would likely come with the signing of Alonso.

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Silverstone agrees terms with F1 for races

Formula One and Silverstone have agreed terms for two races without spectators at the circuit this season, subject to government approval, the track’s managing director Stuart Pringle said on Friday.

The British Grand Prix, a home race for Mercedes’ six times world champion Lewis Hamilton as well as seven of the 10 teams, is planned for July 19 but that could change as the sport redraws a calendar ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

F1 is seeking to make up the numbers after three races, including this month’s traditional Monaco showcase, were cancelled and seven others postponed.

More are also looking unlikely to happen due to travel controls and measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

“We’re not talking dates because F1 are still trying to knit their calendar together and there seems to be a certain amount of flexibility,” Pringle told Reuters.

He said both parties were happy with the settlement, without giving details. Media reports earlier in the week had suggested the sides were arguing over money, with the hosting fee waived but Silverstone unable to sell tickets and still seeking a payment to cover costs.

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The British Grand Prix was the best attended race on the calendar last year, with 351,000 people over the three days and 141,000 on race Sunday.

The races would be back-to-back at the circuit that is celebrating the 70th anniversary of hosting the first Formula One world championship race.

Pringle stated there was still no presumption that any race would happen, however.

The British government has said it plans to announce a quarantine period for most people arriving from abroad, which could make F1’s plans for Silverstone almost impossible unless an exemption is granted to teams.

The sport is planning to start the season with two races in Austria in early July, also behind closed doors and in carefully controlled medical conditions with teams flying in on charter flights and staying isolated. “It is very much subject to government approval. If the government aren’t happy, it won’t happen,” Pringle said of the Silverstone races.

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Verstappen to stay at Red Bull until 2023

Max Verstappen has signed to stay at Red Bull until the end of 2023 in a clear vote of confidence in the former championship-winning team’s Formula One title potential and its Honda partnership.

The announcement on Tuesday leaves two of the top three teams with young driver talent secure for the long-term, with Ferrari announcing in December that Charles Leclerc was staying to 2024.

“I am really happy to have extended my partnership with the team. Red Bull believed in me and gave me the opportunity to start in Formula One which I have always been very grateful for,” Verstappen, 22, said in a statement.

“Over the years I have grown closer and closer with the team and besides the passion from everyone and the on-track performance it is also really enjoyable to work with such a great group of people.

“Honda coming onboard and the progress we have made over the last 12 months gives me even more motivation and the belief that we can win together…I want to win with Red Bull and our goal is of course to fight for a World Championship together.”

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Red Bull concluded third last year in the first season of a new partnership with Honda, which proved an immediate success after the Japanese manufacturer’s failed relationship with McLaren.

Verstappen was best of the rest behind Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

The rumour mill will now focus more on six-times world champion Hamilton, who is out of contract at the end of this year, and the future of Leclerc’s four-times champion team mate Sebastian Vettel.

Verstappen won three races in 2019, and holds a career total of eight F1 victories, and is seen as a champion-in-waiting.

The Dutchman, who in 2016 became the youngest ever race winner in the sport’s history, had been linked to both Ferrari and Mercedes in paddock speculation.

Formula One is about to enter a new era in 2021 with sweeping rule changes and what owners Liberty Media hope will be a more level playing field.

“Max has proven what an asset he is to the team, he truly believes in the partnership we have forged with our engine supplier Honda, and we are delighted to have extended our relationship with him.”

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F1 teams reject prototype 2020 Pirelli tyre

Formula 1 will stick with 2019-specification Pirelli rubber next year, after teams unanimously voted to reject the new tyres that were being prepared for 2020.

The prototype 2020 spec – which was designed to reduce tyre degradation, provide a wider working range of temperature and lower overheating in dirty air –  had made its race weekend debut during free practice in Austin, but earned largely negative evaluations from the drivers who had sampled it.

As a result, the possibility of sticking with this year’s tyres was broached, such a decision requiring the approval of 70 percent of competing teams, as per item 12.6.1 of the F1 technical regulations.

And while Pirelli said it would be open to such a development, it was hopeful that the two-day post-season test in Abu Dhabi would offer a more representative view of the new tyres. However, GPDA director Romain Grosjean (Haas) said he was left with largely the same impression at Yas Marina – and the FIA has now confirmed a “unanimous decision” has been taken to stick with the 2019 spec.

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“The FIA would like to thank both Pirelli and all the teams for their work and collaboration to improve the tyres for the 2020 season and beyond,” the FIA statement added.

“In any case, the lessons leant will be invaluable for the further improvement of the tyres in the future.”

Pirelli’s motorsport director, Mario Isola, acknowledged peak grip was down on the 2019 tyres, but said that was to lessen the drop off in performance over the tyre’s life.

“The target was to make a tyre better for racing, not qualifying, we were not focusing on qualifying, we were not focused or peak of grip, the absolute performance of the car,”he said.

“The idea was to have tyres where you can push more, this means that probably we have more one-stop races and so on but that was the discussion and agreement we have.

F1 has one more tournament on the current tyres before switching to 18-inch rims for the 2021 season, which will feature a complete overhaul of the series’ cars and rules.

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Williams confirm F2 driver Latifi will replace Kubica

The Formula One grid for next season is done after Williams confirmed its reserve driver Nicholas Latifi will replace Robert Kubica.

Latifi is to step up from Formula Two to make his F1 debut in 2020 after Kubica decided to vacate his seat following the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend. 

Canadian Latifi, who has also been a test driver for Renault and Force India, is second in the F2 championship with one round to go.

The 24-year-old had been expected to partner George Russell next year and his promotion was announced by the British team on Friday.

“I am thrilled to be stepping up as Race Driver for 2020,” said Latifi.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the team this year, supporting them with the development of the car, and assisting wherever I can trackside and at the factory.

“I look forward to the journey ahead with the team, and I am excited to make my Formula One debut at the Australian Grand Prix in 2020.”

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Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams said: “I am delighted to announce that Nicholas will be stepping up to the role of race driver to partner George in 2020.

“All of us at Williams have been immensely impressed at what he has achieved this year in FIA Formula Two, along with his commitment to the team, and the work that he has put in behind the scenes.

“Nicholas has become an established and well-respected member of Williams, and we look forward to him stepping up into this new role, as we look to fight our way back to the midfield.”

Williams has endured the worst season in its history this year after it failed to get its car ready for the opening pre-season test and was forced to play catch up for the rest of the season.

The team has often qualified multiple seconds off the pace and has only scored one point all season when Kubica snatched a tenth place finish in Germany once both Alfa Romeos were penalised over a technical infringement.

Latifi has received substantial financial backing from his family throughout his career and his father, Michael, holds 10 percent of McLaren’s holding company.

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Esteban Ocon to test for Renault in Abu Dhabi

Esteban Ocon will start work at Renault the day after the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP – and drive their 2019 car at the test that follows.

The Frenchman, who has spent this year in a reserve role at Mercedes, is substituting  Nico Hulkenberg in Renault’s line-up for 2020 next to Daniel Ricciardo.

Renault have now confirmed that Ocon will start preparation work for next year in the tyre test at Yas Marina on December 3-4, the final F1 track running of 2019.

“Esteban Ocon will officially join Renault on Monday 2nd December and will take part in both test days at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on 3rd and 4th December,” Renault stated.

The 23-year-old made his F1 weekend with the Enstone team, then known as Lotus, in Practice One at the 2014 Abu Dhabi GP and spent a half-year there as third driver in 2016 before landing a race seat at Manor.

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Ocon then spent two seasons at Force India before losing his seat for this season.

The two-day post-season test in Abu Dhabi will see teams run the planned 2020 Pirelli tyres, with the Italian manufacturer having worked to develop them outside of race weekends through the year.

The arrival of Ocon at Renault, and the expected promotion of Nicholas Latifi at Williams in place of the departing Robert Kubica, are the only two seats set to switch hands over the winter grid.

The Mercedes reserve driver said in Brazil that he hopes Mercedes lets him carry out the post-race Abu Dhabi test with Renault.

“I hope I can do the test in Abu Dhabi, but the two teams will have to decide if that is possible,” he said.

His most recent F1 track mileage was completed at Paul Ricard in October, when he participated in 2020 Pirelli tyre testing with the current Mercedes W10.

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Giovinazzi to stay at Alfa Romeo in 2020

Alfa Romeo have verified they will keep Italian driver Antonio Giovinazzi on board for 2020, alongside Kimi Raikkonen. The news leaves just four F1 race seats unconfirmed for next year.

Giovinazzi, 25, could be the only Italian driver on the grid once again, as he readies himself for his second season in Formula 1 alongside veteran Raikkonen. He presently lies 18th in the driver standings on four points.

“I am very happy to be staying with the team for 2020,” said Giovinazzi.

“I am grateful for the incredible level of support I received in my first full season in Formula 1: everyone in the team has stuck by my side since I joined and I am really looking forward to continuing our journey together.

“We learned a lot this year and I am confident we can make a big step forward next season. I won’t be a rookie anymore so there won’t be any excuses for me: I want to be competitive right from the start of the championship and repay the confidence the team has shown in me.”

Giovinazzi, who ended 14th in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix, tested for Haas and Sauber in 2017, and for the latter team once again in 2018, before joining the new-look Alfa Romeo squad for this season.

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Team Principal Frederic Vasseur added: “Antonio has done really well this year and I am extremely pleased to be able to confirm he will stay with Alfa Romeo Racing for 2020.

“The way he has integrated into the team and has consistently improved throughout his first full season in the sport are very promising and we cannot wait to unlock his full potential as we continue to work together.

“Antonio has emerged as a very quick driver, even alongside as tough a benchmark as Kimi, and we expect him to develop even further as his experience grows. His technical feedback, work ethics and positive approach will help us continue to push our team forward, and so will the consistency of an unchanged line-up for next season.”

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