Kaltenborn dismayed by F1’s cost control outlook

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Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn is unsure how Formula 1 will tackle cost control in the future after little progress in a number of meetings and talks over the past few months.

The sport has seen costs spiral over the past few years, and it has put a number of teams at risk of folding. Sauber was beset with financial problems throughout the 2013 season, and although investment was secured to ensure its short-term future, the long-term outlook for the team is still uncertain. Lotus has been in a similar position for some time.

However, any efforts to keep costs down – be it through a cost cap or other measures – are continually blocked by the bigger teams in Formula 1, who have formed the F1 Strategy Group that now has a say in the governance of the sport. For Kaltenborn, it is a sorry state of affairs.

“In my view we are clearly not there, where we should be and where we wanted to be, at least from our team’s perspective,” she explained in yesterday’s team principals’ press conference. “I also don’t think we have achieved so far any measurable cost cutting.

“For us, the situation is a little unclear actually at the moment, at least in my understanding if you mention the World Motor Sport Council there was a decision taken last year by the council in which they endorsed cost-cutting as a target.

“They also agreed in principle to the cost cap and the FIA was mandated to implement that. Since then, other decisions have been taken by other groups going in a different direction.”

After the rejection of the cost cap earlier this year, the teams outside of the Strategy Group were tasked with coming up with an alternative. Despite doing so, Kaltenborn still feels that her voice is not being heard.

“The non-Strategy Group teams were asked to bring proposals in about how you can achieve a sustainable cost base while still promoting competition,” she said. “We did that, we also didn’t get anywhere on that.

“In my understanding, I really wonder what the FIA is now going to do and how Formula 1 is going to be governed in this respect.”

As I wrote in my Paddock Notebook from the Red Bull Ring yesterday, so long as the divide between the teams inside and outside of the Strategy Group remains, it appears that little progress will be made. Small steps are being taken, such as reducing test time and keeping it based in Europe, but this is not enough to help the ailing teams towards the back of the grid.

Plans for Alonso sports car debut in Rolex 24 gathering speed

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Plans for McLaren Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso to appear in next year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona are gathering speed as the two-time World Champion angles for a drive at Le Mans in 2018.

Alonso announced on Thursday he had signed a new, multi-year deal to remain with McLaren in F1, but has left the door open to continue his pursuit of the Triple Crown of Motorsport and become just the second driver in history to complete it.

Alonso has won the Monaco Grand Prix twice and made his Indianapolis 500 debut this year, retiring with an engine issue, and has made no secret of his ambition to race at Le Mans one day.

With no date clashes, the possibility exists for Alonso to race at Le Mans in 2018, potentially with Toyota in the LMP1 class following McLaren’s split with Honda.

However, Alonso could make his 24-hour race debut five months earlier, with reports emerging on Thursday that he could be in line to appear in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

First reported by Sportscar365, Alonso could be set to race for McLaren executive director Zak Brown’s team, United Autosports, at Daytona in January, with no clashes existing with his F1 commitments.

Alonso remained coy when asked about the chances of him appearing at Daytona, but admitted additional preparation for a possible Le Mans appearance would be of interest.

“For the Indy 500 it was a nice experience, I felt very competitive but it was a big challenge that I took from zero, from no testing, not any similar race before it,” Alonso said, as quoted by Reuters.

“If I want to prepare Le Mans, maybe there are other possibilities to prepare Le Mans a little bit better than I prepared the Indy 500.”

He added more about his other race program in Thursday’s pre-race Paddock Pass episode, speaking to NBCSN. “To be the best driver in the world you have to win in different series at different times. It’s possible I can compete in different races next year,” he said.

Brown said he would be happy to field Alonso at Daytona, and confirmed their pair had already loosely discussed it.

“If Fernando wants to do Daytona and we have a seat available, we would put his name on it happily,” Brown said.

“We’ve started joking around about it, and we saw where jokes got us last time,” he added, referencing the eventual entry to the Indy 500.

United Autosports will field two JS P217 cars at Daytona in January, and has already confirmed ex-F1 racer Paul di Resta, McLaren junior Lando Norris, American endurance racer Will Owen and Danish youngster Philip Hanson in seats.

McLaren reserve and 2009 F1 world champion Jenson Button had been linked with a drive for United Autosports at Daytona, but Brown confirmed to Sportscar365 this was no longer an option.

“Jenson won’t be driving for us. I don’t know what he’s going to be doing,” Brown said.

“I thought he was going to be in the Penske car. Not sure what happened there.”