Pastor Maldonado

Relationship between Maldonado and Williams hits new low

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The relationship between Pastor Maldonado and Williams may have deteriorated drastically over the past few months, but it reached a new low after qualifying for the United States Grand Prix (race live on NBC from 1pm ET) when the Venezuelan driver accused his team of sabotaging his car.

After testing a new configuration of exhaust in Abu Dhabi, the team showed signs of an improved pace during practice on Friday and Saturday morning, but Maldonado failed to live up to this hype during qualifying. Despite being held up by Esteban Gutierrez, he still failed to post a quick enough time to secure a place in Q2. Curiously though, teammate Valtteri Bottas finished Q1 as the quickest driver on track ahead of the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, and a full 1.5 seconds faster than Maldonado.

When asked about the time difference between himself and his teammate in Q1, Maldonado inferred to journalists in Austin that all may not be as it seems.

“I think in my car somebody is playing with the pressure and the temperatures,” he said. “You need to ask the team, the guys that are working on the car, it is quite clear.”

However, chief engineer Xevi Pujolar believes that the problems were due to the temperature of Maldonado’s tires.

“We didn’t quite get the tire performance with Pastor, but despite starting eigteenth he always makes a good start and fights through on the opening laps, so we still expect him to move forward in the race,” Pujolar said.

This is the latest in a number of recent outbursts by Maldonado against the team, and he is poised to leave at the end of the year to make way for Felipe Massa. However, he said that he was happy to be leaving as he looks to join Lotus as Kimi Raikkonen’s replacement.

The Venezuelan driver is unlikely to have won any friends within the team though by making these allegations, nor will he be impressing the teams considering him for a drive in 2014.

Ecclestone has ‘no doubts’ Monza will remain on F1 calendar

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MILAN (AP) Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone is confident the Italian Grand Prix in Monza can find the needed cash to stay on the calendar.

Ecclestone tells the Gazzetta dello Sport, “We will find the right solution – I no longer have doubts – to provide a future for the Italian GP.”

No circuit has hosted more F1 racing than Monza, but officials at the track outside Milan have had trouble producing the estimated 25 million euros ($26.6 million) per year that Ecclestone seeks to keep the race in place after the current contract expires next year.

Ecclstone says, “Things have been cleared up and there is only one go between, (Angelo) Sticchi Damiani, the president of the Italian Automobile Club.”

The Italian GP next year is scheduled for Sept. 4.

Alternative engine solution rejected by F1 Commission

Nico Rosberg

Plans to introduce a new alternative, cheaper engine into Formula 1 for 2017 – hypothetically a 2.2-liter V6 similar to what is seen in IndyCar – will at least temporarily go on the backburner.

The F1 Commission has rejected the so called “alternative engine solution,” where several companies submitted proposals to be that alternative supplier.

“The F1 Commission voted not to pursue this option at this stage — however, it may be reassessed after the Power Unit manufacturers have presented their proposal to the Strategy Group,” the FIA said on Wednesday.

“The parties involved have agreed on a course to address several key areas relating to Power Unit supply in Formula One,” the statement added.

Meanwhile the statement outlined four things the current manufacturers – Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda – would be tasked with improving on the current 1.6-liter formula:

Those are:

  • a guarantee of supply to teams
  • the need to reduce the engines’ cost
  • simplification of the specification
  • “improved noise”

Further meetings between the manufacturers and the governing body are scheduled, including one this weekend at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix season finale.

As F1 heads into the final weekend of the season, political/paddock items such as Red Bull and Toro Rosso’s respective power unit futures, whether Renault’s takeover of Lotus will finally become official and what will happen with Manor’s team leadership stake – this marks Graeme Lowdon and John Booth’s final weekends although ex-McLaren man Dave Ryan has been hired as the team’s new racing director – are among the talking points.

Stoffel Vandoorne’s Super Formula test hampered by engine woes

Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne
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You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Dominant GP2 Series champion Stoffel Vandoorne had his first go in a Super Formula car at Suzuka on Wednesday, but the engine woes that have hampered his Formula 1 team’s efforts (McLaren) all season appear to be equal opportunity woes.

Vandoorne only completed a limited day of running due to technical issues; naturally, and in an unfortunate coincidence, the Super Formula cars also have Honda power.

The Belgian is now en route from Japan to Abu Dhabi, where this weekend’s final round of the GP2 season will be held alongside the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

FIA Formula E to remain at Battersea Park following vote

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Wandsworth Council’s Community Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee voted seven to four late Tuesday night, in favor of retaining the FIA Formula E event in Battersea Park.

This will see the London ePrix – the season finale for the electric open-wheel championship – continue at the site for at least the next two seasons.

The 2016 race will run July 2-3, to avoid a direct head-to-head clash with the British Grand Prix a week later in Silverstone.

Battersea Park’s race faced local opposition in recent weeks, which put the race under threat.