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Wolff: Jordan’s Mercedes F1 quit theory ‘completely baseless’

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Mercedes Formula 1 chief Toto Wolff has dismissed former team owner Eddie Jordan’s suggestion that the German manufacturer could quit the sport at the end of 2018, calling it “completely baseless”.

Mercedes returned to F1 with a works operation in 2010 and has since claimed three drivers’ and constructors’ championship doubles, enjoying one of the most dominant spells of form in the sport’s history.

Jordan, who owned the Jordan Grand Prix team until 2005 and has since become a TV pundit, said in an interview with Auto Bild that he expected Mercedes to close its works team at the end of next year, but remain in F1 as an engine supplier.

“Mercedes will probably pull the plug at the end of 2018,” Jordan said. “I think they will go for the titles this and next year and then the board of directors in Stuttgart will decide to sell the team and stay only as an engine maker.

“I would do the same, because Mercedes have won everything and can only get worse from now. So it’s better to go back to their old core business in Formula 1, which is developing and delivering high-tech engines.”

Mercedes responded by saying the reports “are completely false and there are no such considerations”, with Wolff also adding a rather humorous rebuttal to Jordan.

“Monaco is a place where people like to party and it seems like somebody did a bit too much of that!” Wolff said.

“The reports are completely baseless and reflect nothing more than the mischievous speculation of one individual.

“Mercedes has firm contracts for its participation in Formula 1 until the end of 2020, and is currently in discussions about the next competitive cycle with the sport’s new owners.”

All teams currently racing in F1 are bound to the sport up to the end of the 2020 season under the Concorde Agreement, with future plans beyond that point currently being reviewed by Liberty Media following its takeover of the series in January.

Known as one of F1’s more colorful figures, Jordan has been known for his crystal ball predictions in recent years, gaining recognition for his claim that Lewis Hamilton would quit McLaren to join Mercedes for 2013.

Earlier this year, Jordan predicted that McLaren would cut ties with ailing power unit partner Honda at the end of 2017 and rekindle its former partnership with Mercedes. McLaren was quick to deny this.

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.