F1 Grand Prix of Monaco

FIA claims standing restarts have full support, but Kaltenborn is skeptical

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FIA race director Charlie Whiting has revealed that the controversial standing restarts idea for 2015 was suggested and supported by the teams, saying that he has “rarely seen such enthusiasm for a new idea”.

The World Motor Sport Council confirmed last week that following a safety car period in 2015, the cars would assemble on the grid and have a standing start much like we see at the beginning of a race. This is intended to add more excitement to a race and add to the show for fans.

Despite it receiving a backlash in the media and among fans, Whiting defended the idea and said that it was in fact put forward by the teams.

“What must be remembered is that this was a suggestion from a team,” he explained on Thursday. “I put it to the other teams and they all agreed that it was a very good idea. In fact, I’ve rarely seen such enthusiasm for a new idea.

“The idea is based on the rationale that the start is the most exciting part of the race in the view of most people and if you can have another one it would also be extremely exciting. This idea was embraced by all the teams at team manager level.It was then discussed by the Formula 1 Strategy Group, which unanimously felt it was a very good way to go to improve the spectacle of Formula 1.

“It then went to the Formula 1 Commission and finally to the World Council. They also felt it was a good thing for Formula 1. The teams were 100% behind it.”

However, when asked about it this morning, Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn did not agree that it would work in this way.

“I think it was a decision taken very quickly,” she said. “If the intention of it is to get more viewers on board because people look at the start and then just switch to another channel, I don’t think you’re really going to change that because nobody is going to sit through the race and think ‘maybe a restart is going to happen’, so I don’t think you’re going to catch those viewers really.”

Kaltenborn revealed that the main support had come from the F1 Strategy Group, of which Sauber is not a member.

“We all were at that table, but it came from the Strategy Group if I am not wrong,” she explained. “All of the decisions, double points, may I remind you of, has come from the Strategy Group. Restarts have come from the Strategy Group, cost control has come from the Strategy Group, so… yes!”

The F1 Strategy Group is made up of only the biggest teams in Formula 1, and has been a particularly contentious matter with Kaltenborn and Sauber due to their lack of power in the sport. Quite clearly, standing restarts – much like double points in Abu Dhabi – will be a point of controversy in 2015, and only time will tell whether it has the desired effect of improving the show.

Esteban Ocon secures Mercedes DTM seat for 2016

2015 GP3 Series Round 9
Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Sunday 29 November 2015.
Esteban Ocon (FRA, ART Grand Prix) 
Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.
ref: Digital Image _G7C8733
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2015 GP3 Series champion Esteban Ocon will race in the DTM championship this year with Mercedes in tandem with a reserve role in Formula 1 at Renault.

Ocon joined Mercedes’ junior program in the spring of 2015 before becoming a fully-fledged member at the end of the year just days before his GP3 title success.

The Frenchman was known to be considering a move into either DTM or GP2 for 2016, but will now replace F1-bound Pascal Wehrlein at Mercedes’ factory team for the new DTM campaign.

“It’s an incredible feeling to be part of such a professional and strong racing series,” Ocon said.

“I’m very pleased to be driving for Mercedes-Benz. It’s the best team in the DTM and I’m very grateful for this fantastic opportunity.

“Mercedes is the most successful manufacturer in DTM history. You can only achieve that with real passion and hard work, and those are characteristics that we share. After driving in free practice during the final race weekend of the 2015 season at Hockenheim, I can’t wait to start a DTM race.

“I obviously have a lot to learn, but my goal – and that of everyone in the team – is to fight for wins as soon as possible.”

Trident completes 2016 GP2 line-up with Armand

2015 GP2 Series Test 3.
Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Friday 4 December 2015.
Philo Armand (INA, Status Grand Prix).
Photo: Zak Mauger/GP2 Series Media Service.
ref: Digital Image _L0U4261
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Trident has completed its line-up for the 2016 GP2 Series season by signing Indonesian driver Philo Paz Armand.

Armand has previously raced in a number of European Formula Renault 2.0 championships, and most recently took part in half of last year’s Formula Renault 3.5 rounds, scoring one point.

Armand will now step up to GP2 for the 2016 season, racing alongside 2015 GP3 runner-up Luca Ghiotto at Trident.

“We are very excited to start this collaboration with Philo and we are confident he will express all his talent thanks to the team’s help,” Trident team manager Giacomo Ricci said.

The grid for GP2’s support series, GP3, is also beginning to come together for the new season following the announcements of Tatiana Calderon and Honda junior Nirei Fukuzumi.

Calderon moves into GP3 from FIA F3 and will race for Carlin, while Fukuzumi joins ART Grand Prix, continuing the French squad’s association with Honda.

Marchionne calls for Alfa Romeo to consider F1 entry

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 20:  The Alfa Romeo 4C on display at the Vanity Fair Campaign Hollywood Alfa Romeo Ride and Drive luncheon at The Polsky Residence on February 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)
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Fiat-Chrysler CEO and Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne believes that Italian car manufacturer Alfa Romeo must consider entering Formula 1 with a team in the near future.

Alfa Romeo last raced as a constructor in F1 between 1979 and 1985, but has enjoyed no involvement within the series since 1988 when it supplied engines to the Osella team.

Marchionne believes that a return to F1 would be an effective way for Alfa Romeo to grow as a brand and gain more public awareness.

“In order to restore their name, they must consider returning to Formula 1,” Marchionne told Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Alfa Romeo are capable of making their own chassis, just like they are capable of making their own engine,” he added, before conceding that it could enjoy an engine supply from Ferrari should it wish to enter F1.

Marchionne believes that adding more manufacturers to the F1 grid is key to safeguarding the long-term future of the series.

“In the end this sport must be saved,” Marchionne said.

“The important thing is to make other car manufacturers enter grand prix racing.”

Grosjean unveils new helmet design for first F1 season with Haas

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Romain Grosjean has revealed his new-look helmet design ahead of his first Formula 1 season with Haas in 2016.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas won the race to get an F1 team on the grid back in 2014, and has spent the past 18 months meticulously planning its arrival in the sport.

Haas F1 Team’s full debut is now just five weeks away, with the first on-track test of its new car coming on February 22 in Barcelona.

Grosjean walked away from Lotus at the end of last year to join Haas for the new season, where he will race alongside former Ferrari reserve Esteban Gutierrez.

In a post on his Twitter account on Saturday, Grosjean unveiled his new helmet design for the 2016 season, featuring plenty of Haas signage.

Grosjean also revealed earlier this week that he would be racing with a tribute to Jules Bianchi on his helmet, who died at the age of 25 last July.