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Wolff: F1 engine manufacturers unimpressed by 2021 plans

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Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff claims that none of the sport’s current manufacturers were impressed by the plans unveiled for changes to the engine regulations for the 2021 season, warning of “immense costs”.

Following a long-running push to move away from the current specification of V6 turbo hybrid power units used in F1, the sport’s bosses announced earlier this week their initial plans for the new formula that would come into force for the 2021 season.

Plans include the removal of the MGU-H – one of the two hybrid systems currently on the car – and standardized parts in a bid to reduce costs and improve the noise produced by the power units.

The hope for many is that the new rules will attract both an independent engine manufacturer to F1, as well as other global OEMs, with Porsche being known to have an entry under consideration.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Mercedes chief Wolff aired his skepticism over the 2021 plans, believing there would be high costs for those producing the new engine, as seen in 2014 when the current V6 hybrids were introduced.

“It portrays it in a way of this is how we’re going forward, and none of the current OEMs were particularly impressed,” Wolff said.

“Developing a new engine concept will trigger immense costs, just for the sake of having a new concept.

“The new concept needs to tackle the deficit that has been outlined – development costs and noise level – and all that needs to be linked with a global view of F1.

“We haven’t seen any of that.”

Plans for 2021 are expected to be refined and debated over the next 12 months, with a fresh set of engine regulations due to be finalized by the end of 2018.

Laguna Seca to host IndyCar for at least next three seasons

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INDYCAR made it official today: the 2019 season-ending race will move a couple of hours down the Northern California coast to WeatherTechRaceway Laguna Seca.

Sonoma Raceway, which has hosted INDYCAR since 2005 – including the last five season-ending races (that includes this year’s upcoming season finale) – will not be part of next season’s schedule.

Earlier today, the Monterey County (Calif.) Board of Supervisors, which oversees operation of the iconic racing facility, approved a three-year agreement with INDYCAR to host next year’s season finale on Sept. 20-22, 2019.

The remaining two race dates for 2020 and 2021 will be announced later, according to an INDYCAR media release.

The 2.238-mile permanent road course previously hosted CART and Champ Car World Series Indy car races from 1983 through 2004, including the season-ending races from 1989 through 1996.

“I can’t imagine a more attractive destination location for INDYCAR’s season finale,” Mark Miles, president and CEO of Hulman & Company, which owns INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said in a statement. “Monterey is a place people want to be, and we will bring all of our guests. I think it’s a great choice for us.”

Bobby Rahal, former CART/CCWS driver and current INDYCAR team co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, won four of the prior 22 previous Indy car races at Laguna Seca, all consecutively (1984-87).

“It’s great news, but I might be biased,” Rahal said. “I personally won four Indy car races there and won my first Can-Am race there. Our Indy car team won with Bryan Herta and Max Papis and our sports car team won IMSA races there.

“So I would almost bet you that Laguna Seca is the site of more victories for me as a driver and team owner combined of any track I’ve ever raced on.

“There is nothing better than the Monterey Bay area, and it’s a great circuit that always drew great crowds. So I’m thrilled to have Indy car racing coming back to a circuit I love so much. We will put on a good show, for sure.”

In addition to Rahal as a multiple winner, two-time winners at Laguna Seca were fellow current INDYCAR team co-owners Michael Andretti and Bryan Herta, INDYCAR on NBCSN analyst Paul Tracy, Danny Sullivan and Patrick Carpentier.

“The return of INDYCAR to its spiritual road racing home of Laguna Seca is a tremendous honor and testament to the appeal of Monterey, and through the support of the County of Monterey will provide a significant economic benefit to our area businesses,” said Timothy McGrane, CEO of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, “We are looking forward to creating more memories in race fans’ minds like Bobby Rahal’s four consecutive Indy car wins from 1984-1987, Mario Andretti’s farewell race in 1994 and Alex Zanardi’s last-lap overtaking of Bryan Herta in the Corkscrew in 1996 that simply became known as ‘The Pass.'”

NBC Sports Group has secured exclusive domestic television and digital media rights for INDYCAR races beginning in 2019. Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBCSN, agreed that Laguna Seca is an ideal venue to close out the schedule.

“We commend INDYCAR for returning to Laguna Seca, a historic track and an inspired place for the 2019 season finale,” Miller said. “The 2019 season will be our first as the exclusive media rights partner of INDYCAR, and we could not be more pleased to broadcast the championship from beautiful Monterrey.”

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