Michael Schumacher turned down Lotus’ offer of a two-race stint with the team as a replacement for the injured Kimi Raikkonen at Austin and Interlagos, it has been confirmed.
Schumacher – who is statistically the greatest driver in the history of Formula One – enjoyed his heyday in the early 2000s with Ferrari, with whom he won five of his seven world championships. After retiring at the end of 2006, the German driver returned to the sport with Mercedes in 2010. However, during his three seasons with the German marque, he claimed just one podium finish and lacked the spark he used to possess, and retired for the second time at the end of last season.
However, it has transpired that Lotus – who were seeking a replacement for Raikkonen after the Finn opted to undergo back surgery – approached Schumacher about stepping in.
His manager explained to German publication Bild: “Michael would be fit enough yet, but he has settled in his new life.”
Therefore, Schumacher will not be adding to his haul of 91 grand prix victories in 2013, and it is unlikely that we will ever see him race in Formula One again.
Lotus confirmed earlier today that Finnish driver Heikki Kovalainen will deputize for Raikkonen for the United States Grand Prix this weekend (live on NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra from 1pm ET) and the season finale in Brazil next week.
The fact that Lotus did approach Schumacher clearly shows that they were not looking for a ‘quick fix’, and for the same reason they opted against promoting reserve driver Davide Valsecchi. Kovalainen – a one-time race winner – does appear to fit this mould, and the Finn will be keen on impressing during the last two races of the year.
Red Bull Racing team advisor Helmut Marko believes that modern-day Formula 1 drivers are overpaid due to the reduced risk and easier driving conditions they experience.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel are two of the highest-paid drivers on the grid in 2016, earning upwards of $30 million per year from their teams.
However, Marko believes that drivers in F1 are overpaid as there is now a reduced risk of suffering a fatal accident, and that with the cars being easier to drive, their worth has decreased.
“Basically, the drivers of today are definitely overpaid for two reasons,” Marko told Sport Bild in Germany.
“Firstly, there is only a small risk that serious accidents can result in injury or even be fatal.
“Secondly, young top talent like [Max] Verstappen or [Pascal] Wehrlein can take the modern car and straight away easily do 100 laps without tiring.
“Previously you had even a Vettel have to take breaks because he was not used to the high centrifugal forces. This means that the cars are easier to drive. The drivers must do less.”
Mercedes AMG Petronas team boss Toto Wolff believes that junior talents Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon have both earned their roles in Formula 1 for the 2016 season “on merit”.
Wehrlein will make his grand prix debut in 2016 with Manor Racing after winning the DTM title for Mercedes last year, becoming the youngest champion in the history of the series.
Ocon has been loaned to Renault Sport F1 Racing for its comeback season, and will work as the team’s reserve driver following his GP3 title success last year.
Wolff feels that both drivers deserve their chance in F1 this year, and also said that Mercedes will look to expand its junior program across the course of the season.
“We’re delighted that Pascal and Esteban will tackle a fresh set of challenges in 2016,” Wolff said. “Our aim is to build their experience in the best possible environment and, following positive discussions with our counterparts at Manor and Renault, it became clear that their respective Formula 1 programmes presented ideal opportunities to achieve that.
“It is very pleasing to see young drivers earning their spot in Formula 1 on merit and to see that talent is being rewarded by the system. Pascal and Esteban have proven themselves to be amongst the top young drivers out there – and both come into 2016 as champions of their respective series.
“But they still have plenty to learn and they will be staying humble, with their feet on the ground. This is an important year for them and we will be following their progress with great interest, while also looking to expand our junior program.
“Mercedes-Benz has a strong tradition of developing young racing talent and our eyes are very much open to other promising prospects for the future.”
What happens when you put a McLaren P1 owned by baseball star and CJ Wilson Racing team principal, and occasional driver, CJ Wilson, with two-time F1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen, and you turn them loose at The Thermal Club for a track day?
Of course there’s other cars besides the McLaren and hockey legend, Teemu Selanne, was also on site.
This really isn’t a post so much that needs words, but one that does need proper photos and noise.
The CJWR pairing of Marc Miller and Daniel Burkett, who drive the No. 33 One Capital/Motor Oil Matters Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport dubbed “Darth Cayman” in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, have been coaching and driving at an event this weekend out at The Thermal Club, a luxury race track in California.
See a mix of photos and videos below:
Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone has given officials at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza until the end of February to resolve the future of the Italian Grand Prix.
Monza has hosted the Italian Grand Prix for all but one year since 1950 when the F1 world championship was formed, establishing itself as one of the series’ most historic and legendary venues.
However, its future has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months following a cut in the amount of tax relief that the race receives by the Italian government.
Ecclestone said back in November that he had “no doubts” the race would remain on the calendar and extend its contract beyond the end of 2016 when it expires.
However, the 85-year-old has now cast fresh doubt on the race in an interview with Reuters, giving the circuit until the end of February to resolve its future.
“It’s Italian. A lot of conversations at the moment and not much action,” Ecclestone said.
“They said to me a few months ago: ‘Everything is sorted out, we know exactly where we are and it’s all agreed and no dramas.’
“And now I heard yesterday it’s become very political… They’ll get on with it. Or not. I don’t know what’s going to happen. Nothing we can do about it.
“The only people that can sort this out are the people that are currently involved in Italy. They can take as long as they like, provided it’s by the end of this month.”
The 2016 Italian Grand Prix is set to take place at Monza on September 4.