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Jorda laughs off claim she was 12 secs per lap off pace in simulator

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Renault development driver Carmen Jorda has laughed off an accusation from former GP2 driver Marco Sørensen that she was 12 seconds per lap slower than him in the Lotus simulator.

Jorda joined Lotus in a development role in 2015 after spending three seasons in GP3, where she finished in a highest position of 13th and failed to score a point in 46 attempts.

Jorda is yet to drive a Formula 1 car, but completed work for Lotus in its simulator during 2015.

Sørensen formerly enjoyed ties with Lotus before turning his attention away from single-seaters and moving into endurance racing with Aston Martin Racing.

In an interview with Danish publication Ekstra Bladet, Sørensen said that Jorda received favoritism within the team despite being as much as 12 seconds per lap slower than him in the simulator.

“She was 12 seconds slower than me in the simulator,” Sorensen claimed. “Still, she ran away with all the rewards.

“I have spent at least 60 days in the simulator in the past two years working on the development of the Formula 1 car, as Kevin Magnussen has done at McLaren.

“So I felt so violated that it finally became too much, so I just had to stop.”

Jorda responded by taking to Twitter and laughing off the claims, posting in both English and Spanish: “12 seconds faster? I’ve been laughing at that for 12 hours!” The English tweet has since been deleted.

Jorda also spoke about Sørensen’s comments in an interview with Spanish newspaper AS, saying: “I honestly don’t know who he is. I haven’t ever seen him in Enstone. Last year he was not part of the team.

“Last year in the simulator I used to be more or less within a second of [Romain] Grosjean.

“If you trust Sørensen’s numbers – if someone was 11 seconds up on Romain, I’m sure that all the F1 teams on the grid would sign them.”

Jolyon Palmer announces race number for rookie F1 season

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Jolyon Palmer has announced that he will race with the number 30 for his debut season in Formula 1.

After winning the GP2 Series title in 2014 with DAMS, Palmer took up a reserve role with Lotus in F1 last year that saw him partake in 13 practice sessions.

Following Romain Grosjean’s decision to walk away from Lotus and join NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas’ new F1 operation, Palmer was promoted into a race seat for the 2016 season alongside Pastor Maldonado.

Although Maldonado’s future is looking increasingly bleak amid reports that he will be replaced by Kevin Magnussen, Palmer remains set to make his F1 debut in Australia this March.

On Saturday, the Briton took to Twitter to announce his race number for the season ahead.

In a new rule introduced back in 2014, drivers race with a unique number for the entirety of their F1 careers.

The defending champion can elect to race with the no. 1, but has the right not to, as done so by Lewis Hamilton in both of the past two years.

Renault’s 2016 F1 chassis passes crash test

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Preparations for Renault’s return to Formula 1 as a constructor in 2016 are in full swing after its chassis passed the compulsory FIA crash test earlier this week.

Renault confirmed in December that it would be going ahead with a takeover of the financially-beleaguered Lotus F1 Team and reviving its works operation at Enstone, England.

Although little more is to be firmed up about Renault’s comeback until the beginning of February when announcements are due, plenty has been coming out over the past few days that hints at what may be to come.

Firstly (and most importantly), the chassis – likely to be called the R32 – has been homologated after passing the FIA crash test, as confirmed on the Lotus F1 Team account on Wednesday.

Renault also released a 30-second teaser video on Wednesday ahead of its F1 return called “Hear Us Coming”, which you can view at the top of the page.

Finally, in the latest issue of British magazine F1 Racing, a mock-up render of what the new Renault car could look like got tongues wagging on Twitter.

The design is very similar to the one used by Renault the last time it raced in F1 with its own team back in 2010, featuring the company colors of black and yellow.

However, the team was quick to confirm that this was only a representation of what the new car may look like and not a final design, before calling on its followers to submit their own efforts.

Reports: Maldonado could lose Renault F1 seat to Magnussen

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Pastor Maldonado’s Formula 1 future is in doubt due to a change in the political landscape of his native Venezuela and economic problems gripping the country that could impact his financial backing, according to reports.

First reported by The Telegraph and since followed up by a number of other publications, Maldonado’s place with Renault in 2016 is uncertain despite the French marque previously confirming that he would be retained following its takeover of Lotus F1 Team.

Maldonado has been backed throughout his racing career by Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, enjoying support from Hugo Chavez until his death in 2013 and incumbent president Nicolas Maduro.

However, due to the worldwide fall in the price of oil and the recent defeat of Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela in the parliamentary elections, the significant funding that Maldonado receives has now been brought into question.

PDVSA is reportedly overdue on its most recent payment, prompting officials from Renault to venture to Venezuela in a bid to resolve the issue and strike a new agreement according to Autosport.

Should the situation prove to be unresolvable, former McLaren driver Kevin Magnussen has reportedly been lined up to take Maldonado’s seat and has already been given a tour of the team’s facility at Enstone.

Magnussen was released from his role as McLaren reserve driver at the end of 2015, and has since tested Porsche’s LMP1 car, the 919 Hybrid, and a Mercedes DTM car, but would jump at a chance to return to a full-time F1 seat should the opportunity arise.

Renault is planning to release further details on its works return to F1 in February ahead of pre-season testing, meaning that its driver line-up will need to be confirmed by then.

Regardless of Maldonado’s future, British driver Jolyon Palmer will make his F1 debut with Renault at the Australian Grand Prix in March after replacing Romain Grosjean following his move to Haas.

Abiteboul confident Renault has financial muscle to fight at top of F1

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Renault Formula 1 chief Cyril Abiteboul is confident that the French manufacturer has the financial muscle to fight at the very top of the series.

Earlier this month, Renault confirmed that it would be reviving its works F1 team in 2016 after going through with the buy-out of Lotus, saving the Enstone-based operation from closure.

Renault last enjoyed constructor status back in 2010, but has remained in the sport since as an engine supplier, chiefly working with Red Bull.

Group CEO Carlos Ghosn has previously said it will take three years for Renault to become competitive once again, and although Abiteboul did concede it will take time, he is confident the financial muscle is there to battle at the front of the field.

“I think that there is a very good business plan, a very robust business plan, at least for the initial term, in order to do the job that we need to do,” Abiteboul told a number of outlets, including BBC Sport and motorsport.com.

“We have been very successful in F1 with Red Bull, we have been successful as a competitive team before and, from a marketing stand point and connection between F1 and the rest of the business, we have never been so strong.

“So what should not wait is the capacity of Renault to turn what we do on the track into tangible marketing value for the group and for the brand.

“That is really important, as that is what will give us the stability so that we have the capacity – the financial capacity and also the time – to become one of the big boys.”

Renault will confirm further details, including the team name, partners and management, in February ahead of the first pre-season test in Barcelona at the end of the month.