Fernando Alonso - Getty Images

McLaren admit interest in Alonso; Perez at risk

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McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has confirmed that he is interested in signing Fernando Alonso  as the raft of rumors concerning the driver market continue to circulate.

Reports from the paddock broke on Friday evening suggesting that McLaren could be angling to re-sign Alonso, who spent one year with the team back in 2007. Despite finishing third in the championship, a dispute with the team over then-rookie Lewis Hamilton caused the Spaniard to walk away and return to Renault for 2008. However, Whitmarsh is open to bringing Alonso back to the team.

“We’re interested, but at the moment we’ve got to be respectful of what is going in Ferrari and see how it pans out,” Whitmarsh explained after FP1 in Singapore.

“Fernando is under contract as far as I know, so we’ll see what happens there. We’re open to opportunity, and we’ve proved that in the past. No-one expected Jenson to come to us when he did, and we’ll see what happens in the future.”

Whitmarsh admitted that bringing in another top name to work alongside Button would be desirable, suggesting that Sergio Perez could be dropped by the team after just one season.

“Bringing JB was something that I was delighted to do; to bring another top name like that in would be fantastic. But equally, to be frank, bringing a youngster in and turning him into a champion is pretty nice as well. That’s the great thing about hiring drivers, sometimes it goes well.”

Yesterday in Singapore, both Button and Perez seemed confident that they would be staying at the team for 2014, but in the latter’s case, it appears that he may be under pressure to perform in the coming races.

It is thought that Alonso is unsettled at Ferrari, publicly criticizing the team following the Hungarian Grand Prix and calling them “idiots” over the radio during the race at Monza. Furthermore, the signing of Kimi Raikkonen for 2014 sees the Spaniard lose his ‘number one’ status at Maranello, and, with McLaren and Honda joining forces once again for 2015, he could be poised to make a shock move back to Woking.

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

Audi Sport
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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”