Chairman of McLaren Dennis speaks before practice session for Singapore F1 Grand Prix

Dennis: McLaren will have title sponsor in 2014

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McLaren CEO Ron Dennis has confirmed that the team will run with a title sponsor in 2014, albeit not for the first few races as a deal is finalized and secured.

Having cut ties with Vodafone at the end of last season, the team did initially plan to confirm its new title sponsor on December 2. However, this date passed and no announcement was made, suggesting that Telmex was in line to take up the mantle, but these plans were scuppered following Sergio Perez’s surprise sacking after just one year at Woking.

Although the MP4-29 has run with a rather empty chrome livery during testing, Dennis – who returned as CEO at McLaren in January – confirmed to the media yesterday that a title sponsor would be announced in due course.

“Our cars will not feature a title sponsor at the first event,” he said. “But it will definitely feature a title sponsor in the next few events.”

Dennis revealed that a number of low offers had been put forward following the team’s worst season since 1980, but he is unwilling to accept a knock-down price based on form alone, nor a one-year deal ahead of Honda’s arrival in 2015.

“When you have a run of poor results people push the rate card down – I won’t accept that,” Dennis explained.

“I know what this company is. I know what this grand prix team can achieve and that requires the correct recognition when it comes to the commercial relationship with the principal sponsor. We turned away stopgaps.”

Having impressed during winter testing, 2014 could be a more fruitful year for McLaren as 2009 world champion Jenson Button is joined by young starlet Kevin Magnussen. The Dane won the Formula Renault 3.5 title in 2013, and has been tipped as a star for the future.

Furthermore, with Dennis also returning to the helm at McLaren, some of the team’s ‘old values’ and attitude could be restored for the new year.

Sainz keen to race in Russia; decision to be made on Sunday

xxxx during final practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on October 10, 2015 in Sochi, Russia.
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Carlos Sainz Jr. has been discharged from hospital in Sochi following his practice accident, and is now hoping to take part in tomorrow’s Russian Grand Prix.

Sainz crashed at turn 13 with considerable force during final practice on Saturday, pitching underneath the TecPro barrier that made extracting him from the car difficult.

After 20 minutes, the rescue staff on site were able to remove Sainz from the car before transporting him in an ambulance to the medical centre.

Sainz gave a thumbs up to fans on the way there, and tweeted from hospital that he was unharmed after undergoing a number of checks.

In a statement issued by Toro Rosso after qualifying on Saturday, it was confirmed that Sainz had been discharged from hospital. The Spaniard has now set his sights on starting tomorrow’s race.

“My back and my neck are just a bit sore from the accident, but I’m totally ready,” Sainz said. “Hopefully tomorrow I will wake up in a good shape and maybe I can try and race – this is definitely the intention!

“Obviously we need to be cautious. I’ve always been conscious. As soon as the accident happened I tried to talk to the team on the radio, but it wasn’t working and those must have been some scary moments.

“I’d like to thank everyone for their support, it’s really nice to receive all your messages at a moment like this one! I hope to see you all tomorrow out there!”

Team principal Franz Tost confirmed that a decision will be made on Sainz’s participation following further medical checks on Sunday before clarifying the suspected cause of the accident.

“I’m very happy that Carlos is okay and out of hospital, this is the most important thing for us,” Tost said. “I hope he will have a good night’s sleep and tomorrow morning he will have to go through the FIA medical checks to decide if he will be able to take part in tomorrow’s race.

“Now, just to clarify what happened. Prior to the accident, Carlos had completed a long-run on the option tire, before changing to the prime to do two further laps. On primes the grip level is lower.

“In addition he had changed the brake shape on the steering wheel, which meant he had more braking rearwards. A combination of these two factors might have been the cause of the rears locking, which made the car uncontrollable.”

Should Sainz be deemed fit by the FIA medical delegate, he will have to start the race from the pit lane.

The Russian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 6:30am ET on Sunday.

Hamilton unsure about Mercedes’ race pace in Russia

xxxx during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on October 10, 2015 in Sochi, Russia.
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Lewis Hamilton remains unsure about Mercedes’ race pace after losing the majority of practice running to a number of incidents on Friday and Saturday.

The entire field was limited to just one hour of dry running on Friday when a diesel spillage caused the session to be shortened.

Heavy rain washed out FP2, and FP3 was red flagged after 35 minutes when Carlos Sainz Jr. crashed hard at turn 13.

Mercedes showed few signs of weakness in qualifying, though, as it locked out the front row of the grid with Nico Rosberg scoring his third pole position of the season.

Hamilton admitted that he made a mistake on his final lap in Q3, but is unsure how Mercedes will shape up in the race compared to the rest of the field.

“Everyone was in the same position today with the limited practice,” Hamilton said. “I didn’t get a hooked-up lap together but Nico did, so well done to him.

“It’s going to be a long race tomorrow though, so hopefully I might have a chance. There’s a long run down to turn two, so we’ll both be studying the line to take tonight. Maybe I can get a good start, we’ll see.

“We haven’t done a lot of laps, so I’m not really sure what our pace is like compared to the others. Our goal in the race as always is to finish well for the team, so we’ll be trying to do that.”

The Russian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 6:30am ET on Sunday.