Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Statement from Giedo van der Garde

‘We have reached a settlement with Sauber and my driver contract with the team has been ended by mutual consent. As a passionate race driver, I feel sad and am very disappointed. I have worked very hard my entire career, ever since starting with go-karts at the age of eight, to live my dream and become a successful Formula One driver. I had hoped at last to be able to show what I am capable of, driving a car for a respected midfield team in the 2015 season. This dream has been taken away from me and I know that my future in Formula One is probably over.
I had a valid driver contract for the entire 2015 season and enforceable rights to it. I pushed very hard until last Saturday in Melbourne to get the drive that I was entitled to. This legal process started in 2014 and has taken a great deal of effort. It was never a last minute thing, but it only became public in the last week when we tried to force the team to accept the rulings of a succession of legal authorities and courts.
I am a race driver and all I want is to race. However, the team principal was adamant not to let me drive, notwithstanding my legal rights to do so and a series of rulings and court orders in my favour and despite my race driving abilities. I will never understand this. I could have persisted, but the team principal had taken a decision contrary to my contract that she would not work with me and this became painfully clear in the paddock in Melbourne. To push on against this determination might have brought down the team, it would most certainly have wrecked the opening Grand Prix in Melbourne because the team´s cars would have been seized by the court, it may have ruined the careers of two young drivers Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. Possibly the team´s directors would even be taken into custody. I decided I did not want to live with that idea, even though it was only the team’s management that was responsible for the bizarre situation I found myself in.
I am very grateful to my fans and many friends in Formula One who have given me a lot of support during the last couple of months. This period has been very difficult for me especially since I could not talk to anybody about the pending proceedings. Last week, many drivers on the grid gave me their support and several of them did so openly in the media as well. The same goes for several leading figures in the paddock who include team bosses and reputable former Formula One drivers. I thank them as well.
My future in motorsport has not finished: on the contrary, I see this as a new beginning. I will sit down with my management in the coming weeks to discuss my future plans. I would love to take part in the WEC and the Le Mans 24 Hours in an LMP1 car. Former Formula One drivers do very well in this series. We also have our eye on other series such as the DTM in 2016 and beyond.
There has been a lot of speculation in the media over the past week, so I want to set out clearly that my sponsors paid the sponsorship fee related to the 2015 season in its entirety to Sauber in the first half of 2014. This was simply in good faith and to help the team deal with its cash problems at the time. Effectively, it was my sponsor’s advanced payments that helped the team survive in 2014.
Sauber’s financial decision-making in this case is bizarre and makes no sense to me. I am not at liberty to discuss details, but Sauber paid significant compensation to avoid honouring the contract they had with me. Only in that respect can I be satisfied that my rights have finally been recognised and that at least some justice has been done.
I want to thank McGregor for sponsoring me from the time I won the Formula Renault 3.5 Ltr. Series in 2008. I hope we can continue to build on this as my motorsport career goes forward in other series.
I want to thank my family, my father Gerrit and my wife Denise in particular, for their tireless support throughout the years that I have been chasing my Formula One dream. The last couple of months have been especially hard for me but they have always stood by me. Of course, I also want to thank my father-in-law, Marcel Boekhoorn, who has been a great supporter during my entire career through the motorsport ranks. Without him, I would not have got this far.
I also thank Jeroen Schothorst and Jan Paul ten Hoopen for managing my career and business affairs since 2008 and in particular for their unconditional support during these last four and a half months. I also extend thanks to my legal advisor Gijs Rooijens and the law firms, Druces, Blackstone Chambers and King & Wood Mallesons (Australia), that worked very hard and enthusiastically – sometimes literally day and night and during weekends – to fight for my rights.
Finally, I would like to direct a few words to the teams, drivers, future drivers, their managers and the Formula One governing bodies. I sincerely hope that what has happened to me will start a movement aimed at setting new standards and bringing about new regulations to help protect the rights of drivers. I would like to think that the values and business ethics that apply in any other business should be equally applicable in Formula One. I am lucky to have had Marcel and Jeroen on my side. Both of them have extensive backgrounds in business and bring a lot of expertise to the table when it comes to resolving complicated business affairs. Without them, I would have remained empty-handed in the wake of this extraordinary affair. There are numerous examples of talented drivers with good intentions but without the sort of professional support that I have had, who have been broken by Formula One and who have seen their careers destroyed. I therefore hope that my unprecedented case which was heard last week by the Supreme Court of Victoria at Melbourne will serve as an example to illustrate what should change, and that new regulations will be implemented to help protect driver rights.’

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

No German GP at Hockenheim

The boss of the German Hockenheim circuit has today announced that there will be no German GP held at the circuit this year.

With the German circuits hosting races alternating years it was hoped that with the Nurburgring's financial difficulties, the Hockenheim circuit might step in to save the race for this year, although no deal has been struck with Bernie Ecclestone.

This leaves the only option as a last minute rescue bid from Nurburgring but that is particularly unlikely. As such the race will have to be reported to the FIA as a cancellation so that it can be formally removed from the calendar leaving us with 19 races for 2015 (the same as last year)

It is incredibly disappointing that the country that has the current world champion constructor, a driver challenging for this years drivers world championship and their very own 4 time world champion making his debut year in a Ferrari, yet a race cannot be sustained.

Red Bully's

Christian Horner knew he would be making headlines with his comments after the Australian GP in which he stated that their should be some equalization to bring all of the sports engines into a similar window of competitiveness, his argument is based on the fact that it would bring closer racing and therefore be better for the sport as a whole.

I really have quite a few problems with the statement, first and foremost, when has the health of Formula One been top of Red Bull's agenda? When they challenged the regulations last year to try and de-stabilize the amazing new technology in these brand new turbo power units? When they were running away with 9 straight wins in 2013?When they entered F1 with an open chequebook policy raising the stakes at a time when the worlds economic climate was nose diving?  There are quite a few more examples too but far too many to go into here. 

Formula One is a competitive sport, everyone wants to be the best, but to be the best at any sport requires hard work, determination, the right funding and usually a bit of luck! Renault have struggles with the current power unit regulations and are still struggling now. But this is the same Renault that powered Sebastan Vettel and Red Bull Racing to 4 straight drivers and constructors titles respectively receiving a tiny footnote of appreciation.

To suggest that engines are equalised when you are not winning is like asking for a spec formula. Would Mr Horner prefer it if all of the teams had standard power units and the freedom to develop aero instead? Therefore keeping Adrian Newey in a challenge and most likely winning with best aero package on the grid? Or would Horner prefer that the whole car is standard and therefore extremely cheap to buy and run? If that is the case then yes the racing would be closer, but it would be GP2.

One of the most amazing things about Formula One is that the teams are constructors, they build their own cars, they buy their engines and have to marry the two together. Those that do the best job will be at the front. those that don't must try harder.

Everything moves in swings and roundabouts, Red Bull threatening to quit (again) if they can't get their own way it is just plain childish. Toto wolff was spot on with his comments, "get your head down and work harder" because at the end of the day, the person that does the best job deserves to win. It really isnt rocket science.

Is a domination good for F1? On the face of it most would say no, but was last year a bad year for racing? no, far far from it. So is their really a problem?

In my opinion, threatening to quit ( and therefore taking 20% of the grid and one grand prix) with them is utmost in selfishness, putting thousands of people potentially out of work? Holding the FIA to ransom by offering to cause an instant crisis by pulling out and leaving a half empty grid? I'm sorry but that is out of order.

If they do leave (and they wont), please close the door on the way out, the negative PR and stroppy ways will definitely not be missed.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Australian GP 2015 Race Results and Selected Quotes

The 2015 Formula One World Championship season has kicked off in Melbourne Australia.

Drama engulfed the weekend from the get go, with a legal dispute between Giedo Van Der Garde and the Sauber F1 team which saw threats of impounding cars and the imprisonment of a team principal. As the weekend wore on and focus returned to the track it was clear that the Manor Marussia cars were not going to make it onto the track, however this is not due to a lack of effort from the team who have been frantically trying to write software and re-create their whole electrical systems on their cars from scratch,

With the absence of Manor the grid would already be reduced to just 18 cars, but then after qualifying it was clear that Valtteri Bottas was in pain with his back. On Sunday morning it was announced that he too would not be taking part in the Grand Prix.

On the way to the grid we had car failures for Kevin Magnussen and Danil Kvyat leaving us with just 15 cars lining up for the first race of this new season.

The Mercedes duo locked out the front row on Saturday and were in a class of their own again on Sunday, Streaking off at the start and keeping a status quo straight through to the end. Lewis Hamilton had the edge on his German team mate Nico Rosberg all through Saturday and Sunday, realistically Nico didn't get anywhere close enough to mount a challenge to the World Champion.

Lewis Hamilton had this to say afterwards:
"It's quite unbelievable, really, what this team has done. It's a great feeling to start off the season the way we finished the last and the car is just incredible, so thank you to the team. It was still a tough race, though, as Nico was very quick throughout. It was about managing fuel and also the tyres - trying to see how long we could push them. Once I'd built a two second gap it was about maintaining it. But when Nico turned up the heat it was tough. He drove really well and it's a great result for the team to start the season with a 1-2. It's good to see Ferrari back up here on the podium. I think they have taken a big step, so I anticipate a good fight with them this year at some point and we can't back off. In fact, the podium was pretty awesome. I don't often get star struck but I can't believe I was up there with the Terminator! Anyway, we've learned a lot this weekend and there will be a lot of analysis to do before Malaysia. Hopefully we'll keep finding ways to improve. Just because we had that gap today it doesn't mean we'll be cruising. There's still a long way to go. "

Nico Rosberg said:
"What a start for us. It's great to have the quickest car again and what an amazing job by everybody involved. A big thank you to the guys back in the factories for all their work. Okay, so now it's 1:0 to Lewis. He did a perfect job this weekend with no mistakes and improved a lot from Friday to Sunday. Yesterday after Qualifying I was already on the back foot and that's difficult to change in a race against Lewis. I need to have a better Saturday, which I was able to do last year. But it's still a long season with lots of races to go. I want to strike back in Malaysia, so that's the focus. Thanks to everyone in Europe for waking up so early and for crossing their fingers for us - we've had fantastic support and it's really great to see. "

Ferrari had clearly achieved a lot over the winter as their pace was vastly improved. Vettel had a solid race starting 4th and finishing 3rd whilst Raikkonen took a knock on the first lap and went on to have trouble with his rear wheel at the pit stop which led to his retirement.

Williams had just the one car after Bottas's withdrawal and the team was out-witted by Ferrari in the strategy stakes so that Vettel could leap frog Massa onto the podium however a solid 4th place was a fair result and the pending duel between the Williams and Ferrari teams looks set to be an exciting part of the coming season.

Felipe Massa had this to say:
"The aim of today was start the season with a solid points haul and demonstrate that we have a competitive car. We have managed to achieve much of what we wanted so this has been a positive start. The only disappointing part of the race was that I was jumped at the first pitstop by Vettel after losing a second and a half behind Ricciardo on my out-lap which was enough to lose the position. I have faith in the team and the car and we head to Malaysia knowing we are very much in the fight."

Valtteri Bottas:
"I have done a lot of work since the issue with my back came in qualifying to get myself ready, starting treatment immediately, so the news that I couldn't race today was obviously disappointing but I respect the decision. I now have two weeks until the next race to receive further treatment to ensure I will be back to full fitness and even stronger in Malaysia. I’m very eager to get back in the car and race because the FW37 is looking competitive and I’m confident we can fight for podiums."

Sauber had a very eventful weekend but their testing pace was no error, they really are quite quick, yes they benefitted from others not taking part and failures, however both drivers finished in the points today which is a stark contrast to their completely pointless 2014 season. Felipe Nasr was involved in a slight knock with Kimi Raikkonen in the first corner however this didn't affect his race and he scored a very solid 5th place whilst his team mate had a spirited and battling performance to claim 8th place.

Felipe Nasr:
"I am very happy with fifth position in my first ever Formula One race. It is such a big relief for the team and myself that we are able to score points, and I am very pleased about this achievement. It was a tough race. Right after the start it was quite messy in turn 1, as another driver hit my wheel. I thought the car was damaged a bit, but after a few laps I noticed everything was fine. After that, the race went according to plan. There was pressure from behind during the whole race, which was not easy. That was an emotional race for me and everyone in the team"

Marcus Ericsson:
"First of all, the team has done a great job over the winter. It is amazing for everyone in the team here in Melbourne and also back home in the factory to get this result in the first race weekend of the 2015 season. We have seen good progress during pre-season testing, and with this achievement I am really happy for everyone. For me as a driver, I have scored my first points in Formula One, which is a big goal achieved. Now, we can build on this for the next race"

Next up was Daniel Ricciardo who Started 7th but finished in 6th. It was a tough day for the Red Bull team with the Renault power unit clearly lacking in power and driveability.

Daniel Said:
"It wasn’t the most exciting race. After the start I was able to stay with Nasr, but I wasn’t able to get close enough to make the move. We finished the race and got some points which was positive, and there are things we can learn; I think on paper sixth was the best for us today. It was a shame for Dany, I feel for him I hope we have a smoother weekend in Malaysia. In terms of where we need to improve, the main issue is the drivability and the power, there are pretty big chunks that we know we need to find there. Beyond that it’s hard, as with the chassis itself I don’t think we’ve really been able to test it to its limits yet due to the other issues we’ve had. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we have got a lot of information from this weekend which will help us ahead of Malaysia"

Force India were very late with their car only appearing at the final test for the last couple of days, however the car was extremely reliable straight out of the box and both drivers finished the race, hulkenberg in 7th and Perez in 10th.

Toro Rosso endured a day very similar to the big team with only one car finishing, This was Carlos Sainz Jnr in 9th place whilst Max verstappen retired with a gearbox failure.

The final finisher in 11th place was Jenson Button in the Mclaren Honda, which may read like a disaster but in face this is a massive victory for the Woking team who's troubled start to the year has seen the car not drive for more than 12 laps at a time during testing. So to complete 58 laps and hold off Perez for a lot of the afternoon was a very good afternoon.

Jenson finished the day with these comments:
"Today has been a good day.

"We're still a long way off, but this is a good starting point – and I enjoyed the race. I even had a good little battle with Checo [Perez]. Today also really helps in terms of development: if we'd done three laps, we'd have learned nothing, so we've learned a massive amount by completing a race distance.

"It was also a good opportunity for me to get used to the car and to play around with it, making adjustments in the cockpit. There's a lot of work still needed – on power, driveability, downforce and set-up – but we can make big strides. And, by improving one area, it tends to snowball; more and more areas start to improve, too.

"There were more positives: we're as quick as the Force Indias in the corners, and we look similar in speed through the corners to the Red Bulls and Saubers, too.

"It's been a tough winter – our longest run in testing was just 12 laps, so today's 58-lap run was a good step forward – but we know we've got a lot of work to do. But, with all of today's learning, there are many areas we can improve for the next race."

Full Result:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1h31m54.067s
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1.360s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 34.523s
4 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 38.196s
5 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1m35.149s
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1 Lap
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1 Lap
8 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1 Lap
9 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Renault 1 Lap
10 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1 Lap
11 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 2 Laps
- Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Wheel
- Max Verstappen Toro Rosso/Renault Power Unit
- Kevin Magnussen McLaren/Honda Not started
- Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes Withdrawn
- Daniil Kvyat Red Bull/Renault Not started
- Romain Grosjean Lotus/Mercedes Power Unit
- Pastor Maldonado Lotus/Mercedes Collision
- Will Stevens Marussia/Ferrari Withdrawn
- Roberto Merhi Marussia/Ferrari Withdrawn

Thursday, 12 March 2015

F1 2015 Season Preview

Formula 1 2015 - A Preview
Guest blog by Henry Kelsall

At 1:30 am, UK time, Free Practice 1 begins in Melbourne Australia and 20 (hopefully) cars will hit the track to begin the new season. Ahead of Free Practice, and indeed the race, here is a preview of what we can expect this weekend....

Mercedes are clearly leading the way once again, the W06 showing lightning fast pace in the final test in the hands of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Indeed a lot of people are doubting anyone will get near the Silver Arrows and are placing their bets once again on it being a private battle between Rosberg and Hamilton, as it was in 2014. However, Hamilton will no bout face a much stiffer challenge for Rosberg, who today said 'I am not yet at my peak in Formula 1'. Rosberg pushed Hamilton hard for the title last year, expect him to do so again this year as he seeks to win his first world championship.

The battle behind Mercedes is one of intrigue. Williams, Ferrari and Red Bull all look to be fairly close together, with perhaps Williams just about leading that pack. Williams had a very successful pre-season and have high hopes for this year. The FW37 looked like a very good car out on the track, so expect them to be at the sharp end again, as they were last year. Both Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa are very confident that they have the car that, given the right circumstances, will bring them and the team race wins in 2015

They should be in front of Ferrari, who have made gains of their own over the winter. The SF15-T looks a lot more driveable and responsive and the Ferrari power unit sounds better and is rumored to have a lot more power than last years. Ferrari appear to have improved the whole package, so they should certainly have a better season in 2015 than in 2014. A stronger season for both Kimi Raikkonen and new Ferrari recruit Sebastian Vettel is expected, both drivers currently relishing the new atmosphere at the Scuderia.

Red Bull however, whilst having what appears to be yet another good chassis in the RB11,will be worried at the current lack of performance from the Renault power unit. Whilst it is more reliable, over the three tests it has not shown the performance gains the French manufacturer hoped it would, although their first test was compromised due to 'stupid little things'. Expect though both Kvyat and Ricciardo do be right up their for Red Bull.

Behind the top four, an interesting battle rages for the remaining spots. Lotus are looking a lot stronger than in 2014 and both Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado are confident 2015 will bring them a much better season. The E23 was reliable and fairly speedy, although on track it did look a bit ragged. I would be very surprised however if they didn't have a better season than 2014. Who knows, maybe they can even claim a couple of podiums along the way?

Force India arrived late to the party, with the VJM08 only running for two and a half days at the final pre season test. Nico Hulkenburg and Sergio Perez were very pleased at how reliable the car was though and expect the team to recover well. Its difficult to judge where they will be this weekend, but expect them to find their feet soon.

With Sauber currently involved in a legal battle, its aims to solve whether Giedo Van De Garde should race for them this year instead of either Marcus Ericsson or Felipe Nasr, discussing their possible on track performance has sadly become a sub-story. However the C34 does look to be better than the C33, but all the team can really hope for is a season which ends in a decent handful of points. Its only going to get tougher now though, for the Sauber team...

Toro Rosso are fielding two inexperienced drivers in Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. However, both are incredibly talented and have hardly put a foot wrong throughout testing. The STR10 also looks to be quite a handy little racer as well, so expect a sold season from Toro Rosso, but not an amazing one .

McLaren had a woeful pre-season, bar one day during the final test where Jenson Button managed 101 laps. The car looked driveable and solid on track but with the constant stream of issues, courtesy of its new partnership with Honda, it is very hard to predict anything but a slow start to the season for the team. Fernando Alonso is missing Australia due to his crash in testing, so Kevin Magnussen (pictured) will partner Button for the season opener. For McLaren, getting both cars to the finish would probably be a major achievement. However with the team remaining confident, look out for them as the season goes on. They could be a real force to be reckoned with soon...

Finally, Manor have pulled of a remarkable recovery, the former Marussia team reaching the first race with a modified 2014 MR03 and have signed Will Stevens for the season and Roberto Merhi for the opening rounds of 2015. With the car still essentially being a 2014 chassis and being powered by the 2014 Ferrari engine, they will no doubt be at the back, at least until the 2015 car is ready (which will have the new Ferrari engine). However, what they have done is remarkable and it is a real credit to the team that they have survived. I think I speak for everyone in the F1 world when I wish them all the luck in the world, lets hope they can have a half decent season! #ForzaJules

Free Practice One coverage at 1 am on Sky Sports F1, with Free Practice Two coverage starting at 5:15 am. Formula 1 is back folks. Here's to a great 2015!

This was a guest post by Henry Kelsall, please follow him on Twitter  

2015 Australian Grand Prix - Thursday Press Conference

DRIVERS – Max VERSTAPPEN (Toro Rosso), Kevin MAGNUSSEN (McLaren), Valtteri BOTTAS (Williams), Sebastian VETTEL (Ferrari), Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes), Daniel RICCIARDO (Red Bull Racing)


Let’s start with the defending champion. Lewis, if you’re able to successfully defend your title this year you’ll be a three-time world champion. Has that always been your career goal? Is that fair to say?

Lewis HAMILTON: I would say that I always wanted to do what Ayrton did. Ayrton was my favourite driver and I guess as a kid I always wanted to emulate him.

You won here in Australia back in 2008, the year you won your first title, but you haven’t won the race seen then, despite being on pole a couple of times. Can you talk about how important it is for you this year to start on the front foot, as opposed to last year where you were chasing for a while in the first part of the season?

LH: It’s the same. I don’t see a particular exaggerated importance [compared] to any other time. Of course you come here and you’d like to start on the right foot, but as I did want to last year, but there is a long, long way to go so it’s not the most important start of the year.

Daniel, some bittersweet memories of this race from last year, but you must feel that you’ve grown a lot as a driver since then. What’s your mindset going into this year’s Australian Grand Prix?

Daniel RICCIARDO: Excited, definitely, just to get the season going. For sure, for all of us, it’s great to have time off over Christmas but then testing starts and you get the taste for it again and you just want to go racing again. Obviously really happy to be back home here in Australia and, yeah, get another season going. A lot of confidence coming off last year, so ready to have a good one and get on track.

Based on what we saw in the winter testing, it looks like it’s going to be a battle, at least to start with, between yourselves, Ferrari and Williams. How do you see it from inside the team and how confident do you feel?

DR: Yeah, it looks pretty close within that group. We’ll see what happens on track, but it does look like the Mercs have a bit of pace again this year but for that last spot on the podium it looks pretty close between, as you said, us, Ferrari and Williams and I’m sure there’ll be a few other players coming into the mix. We’ll see everyone on track, like for like, this weekend and I think that’s what’s going to be exciting. I’ve been asked so many question [about] ‘where do you think you stand’, but testing doesn’t really show everything. I think what it did show is, yeah, Mercs are quick but other than that it’s all pretty close behind them.

Thank you for that. Sebastian, obviously you had a pretty productive test session for Ferrari. Is there a cautious optimism within the team going into this season or is that putting it too strongly?

Sebastian VETTEL: No, I think generally the atmosphere is very positive. Obviously there has been a lot of change over the winter but people have been working very hard and I think we have definitely improved as a team, so now we’ll see when we get the chance to put the car on the track, we can see where the others are, see what the others run, especially on Saturday. Finally you know a little bit more. Winter always is a bit tricky to understand everything.

It looks as though you’re enjoying the experience of being a Ferrari driver. I wonder how much have you looked into the history of the team in the period you’ve had to think about it and what has that added to the experience?

SV: Well, I think there’s a lot of history in the team and it’s obviously, for me it’s an honour to race for Ferrari. I’m very happy at this stage and I can’t wait to get in the car and finally start racing with the team but equally we know that we have to work hard because our ambition is very high and we want to make sure that Ferrari gets back to the top.

Valtteri, coming to you, obviously your podiums last year helped Williams to their best championship position since 2003. Where do you and the team go from there?

Valtteri BOTTAS: Yeah, it was a good season, really a huge improvement from the year before and we just really want to continue in the same way, so keep getting better. I really think that’s what we can do. We’ve been doing the right things obviously as we’ve made good progress so we will try to start the season more or less where we finished last year. That’s the way we’re operating and performing and I think that will be a good starting point for a new season and trying to improve along the way.

You couldn’t quite get the win at the end of last season but have you felt enough from the car during the winter testing to tell you that you might be able to race the Mercedes at some point this year?

VB: It’s still really early days and testing is not always easy to see exactly where you are but what we know and what everyone knows is that Mercedes is still ahead of everyone at this point but it is a long season, there are different types of track, you never know if there is an opportunity. So we will keep pushing and we’ll see if it happens. I really hope so.

Kevin, coming you. Obviously you were on the podium here last year but you’ve not had very much time this year to prepare for your role as stand-in for Fernando Alonso. What have you been able to do?

Kevin MAGNUSSEN: I didn’t get as many laps as I thought I’d get but I would maximum get maximum 150 laps in a day if everything runs perfectly. I got nearly 40 laps and I think all of those were low fuel, so at least I’m pretty prepared for that. I haven’t felt the car on high fuel yet so that will be interesting to see how that feels. But you know I’ve driven race cars before, it’s not a completely different thing. It's a different car but I think it should be OK.

It’s no secret that McLaren and Honda have not done that much mileage in testing. What are the expectations going into this early part of the season within the team?

KM: I would say quite low. We’re struggling obviously with reliability, making the car run for a long time. But this is a new start for McLaren, a new start in many ways and I think it’s going to take time. But I think it’s the right direction that the team has chosen to go and I think it has a bright future ahead. But I think it’s going to take time but I’m sure they’ll get there.

Thank you. And finally, Max Verstappen, welcome. The youngest ever Formula One driver at 17 years of age. Do you feel ready for this?

Max VERSTAPPEN: I hope so! We’ll see.

You put in big mileage in testing and looking at the analysis it seemed like the Toro Rosso had pretty good race pace. What are your thoughts about the car you’ve got under you going into your Formula One debut?

MV: Yeah, compared to last year, I did three Friday practices, the car is a really good step forward, especially on the long runs we did. It was very promising. I felt really good in the car, I could do a lot of laps. Yeah, I was really happy about that and it gives me a lot of confidence to go into this race.


Q: (Flavio Vanetti – Corriere della Sera) To Sebastian, given the results of the winter tests, how realistic is the aim of your team principle to catch at least a couple of victories during the season?

SV: Well, it depends on the form of the other teams as well but I think we’ve made a step. We’re yet to find out how big the step is and then it depends. I think we’ve seen last year that there’s chances to win races – not just for Mercedes. So if you put yourself in a very strong position, probably at the beginning of the season right behind, then, yeah, if something happens, you’re there. I’m sure it’s not what they want but these things can happen to all of the drivers, all of the teams.

Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Question to Lewis, where do we stand regarding the renewal of your contract? We have been hearing for a few months now, Toto [Wolff] saying he would be ready to sign you, that your discussion, that you’re getting closer. Can you tell us something more about it?

LH: I don’t really know what… Toto gave you guys some answers this morning. I don’t really know what to say. It’s going good. It’s not signed yet.

You think you will sign in a short time?

LH: I like to think so. I hope so.

Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) We have seen the mystery regarding Alonso’s crash in Barcelona. There have been many rumours, if it was a problem of his, of the car, if it was a technical failure. One of the points that has been discussed is regarding the electrical shocks he might have received as a cause. Do you feel 100 per cent safe that something like that might not happen, have you been talking with your engineers? And you feel completely confident about avoiding a risk of this kind.

SV: I think nobody wants to send us on the track when they believe that something is not right. I think we have far too much of a team spirit – in all of the teams I would say – to let that happen. So, when the team decides that it’s safe to run, it’s safe to run.

Q: (Luis Fernando Ramos – Racing Magazine) A question to Sebastian, you’re known to be a good friend of Kimi Räikkönen for many years. Are there any worries that this friendship might suffer from the natural strain of a competition inside the same team?

SV: No. To be honest, no. I’ve known Kimi now for a while. I think we respect each other. He’s very straightforward, honest, which I appreciate a lot. For sure we try to beat each other on the track, I think that’s normal but if there will be some issues I think we’re old enough to talk about it and sort it out.

Q: (Michael Lamonato – ABC Grandstand) Question to Daniel. Red Bull, at least externally, looks like it’s going through a lot of changes. Sebastian’s obviously sitting on the other end of the table, Adrian Newey’s taken a step back and now Christian Horner wants to scale back aero regulations – which sounds unheard of. How is the vibe within the team going into this season, given that on top of that, for the second year in a row it doesn’t look like you’re going to be favourites?

DR: To be honest the vibe is still good, it’s still strong. Adrian’s here this weekend, I’ve been asked a little bit about him and how much he’s stepped back. I don’t what to put him in a spotlight but I think he was at all the tests and he’s here this weekend and it looks like he’s already done more than he originally thought he would. So, I think he’s still very much interested in the RB11. From what I can see, the team definitely wants to get back on top. Obviously it was an off-year from their standards last year and I don’t think we’re too keen to let Mercedes get any further away.

Q: (Azrul Ananda – Jawa Pos) To Valtteri. Williams last year were very strong, this year also I’m sure. Which track of all the season do you think you have the biggest chance to steal a win this year?

DR: Monza!

VR: The trend where we were quick last year was quite clear – so the tracks with long straights, low downforce, were normally the best for us. I would still think the same kind of trend is going to continue, so similar kinds of tracks where we are most likely, if we are going to win a race, it’s where it’s going to be. You never know. There’s 20 opportunities, and we are here to work, to be as close to the front as possible and, if there’s an opportunity, anywhere will do.

Q: (Pablo Grau – Question for all of you. After testing what do you expect of the new Pirelli tyres?

SV: Well it’s always a bit tricky to judge the tyres, judge the car as well, in testing because it is quite a lot cooler than it will be for the whole season but I think the tyres are a step forward. I think the rear tyre has improved, which I think should help.

Lewis, any thoughts? How are they working on your car?

LH: I think he answered it quite well.


MV: It’s all new for me, so I think there is still a lot to learn. But so far, what I could feel from last year and now, for sure it’s a step forward and I’m quite happy for the moment.

Get them to last alright?

MV: I hope so! I’ll do my best

Q: (Don Kennedy – Hawkes Bay Today) Kevin, have you been in contact with Fernando and can you tell us anything about his current condition and do you expect him to be driving in Malaysia?

KM: I haven’t been in contact with him, only on Twitter he wished me good luck and I said thank-you and that’s it. I haven’t asked him how he’s feeling but I hear he’s doing well so yeah, obviously at this race I wish him all the best. Can’t really say much more because I don’t know much more. What about Malaysia? You’ll have to wait, I don’t know. I’m not the right person to ask.

Q: (Daniel Ortelli – Agence France Presse) Has anyone of the big brothers here any sort of important advice for the little brother at the back, Max?

SV: Will you declare who are the big brothers? We are all older than him.

Q: Daniel, you’re the one who most recently trod in the footsteps he’s now treading in so your thoughts?

DR: Yeah. I think just... I’ll look to the cameras but I guess I’m talking to Max but this is probably more cameras than he’s ever been in front of in his life. They’re pretty friendly, they’re OK, so just go and enjoy it, I guess. Get behind the wheel and remember that’s the main reason why you’re here, is to be on track: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, so enjoy those few hours and I think then the rest will come.

Q: Lewis, any pearls of wisdom? You were five years older than Max, I think, when you made your debut. Is that right? Twenty-two?

LH: Possibly. I’ve only just realised, I’m the oldest driver here, the first time. I’ve kind of only just realised it. Jeez. (To Max) You were born in ’97?

MV: Yup.

LH: Jeez. I signed my first contract with McLaren in ’97. Bloody ‘ell. I don’t really have any words of wisdom for you.

SV: I think that despite the fact that he’s still young, I think he has a lot of experience, he’s quick, otherwise he wouldn’t be here, so I don’t think he needs much advice. Take it easy, maybe.

Q: (Shane McInnes - 3AW) Max, just on that, being just 17 years of age, flying around the world, being amongst guys that you’ve looked up to, how is it for you and taking it all in at the tender age of 17?

MV: Well, to be honest, since I was younger, I’ve never seen anything else because my Dad was doing it, I basically grew up into it. For me, it doesn’t feel like anything new, I just deal with it.

Q: (Flavio Vanetti – Corriere della Serra) Sebastian, you have a good feeling with the new team. Is there any special fear in this stage of your new experience?

SV: No.

Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Daniel, how do you see Sebastian in red and last year, you came through a very difficult winter test period. But then you immediately started well and for a big part of the season, you were the only opponent to Mercedes for the championship. Do you think that this year things might be better, easier for you, also knowing that you have already won last year with Red Bull and looking at the improvements that Renault should have done?

DR: I think I’ll answer that one first. If you look back at last year, for sure we’re in a better position. I think the times that we put down in testing, I don’t think I have shoed that yet but obviously we’re coming here this weekend with a lot more confidence and reliability and we’ve actually got a plan for Sunday whereas last year it was just ‘OK, let’s put the car on the track and hope to see the chequered flag.’ Within the team there’s obviously a lot more that’s progressed since then. With myself, obviously I’ve moved along, I feel a long way and I’m a more evolved driver and have a bigger impact in the team, obviously spending the twelve months in the team that I have now. It’s all there on the table, I think, ready for us to use and pursue, to put up another strong fight, so I’m looking forward to that this year definitely. I think for Seb, the only concern he may have is if he doesn’t know how to cook a good plate of pasta! Other than that, I think he should be OK. Yeah?

SV: Just did it this morning!

DR: Oh really? OK. Then he’s fine with the Italians.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

SAUBER Statement regarding the law case of Giedo van der Garde

Statement regarding the law case of Giedo van der Garde

Melbourne, March 11, 2015. – After the application defended by Sauber on Monday, March 9, the outcome is unfortunately not as expected. Monisha Kaltenborn, CEO and Team Principal of the Sauber F1 Team, said: "We are disappointed with this decision and now need to take time to understand what it means and the impact it will have on the start of our season. What we cannot do is jeopardise the safety of our team, or any other driver on the track, by having an unprepared driver in a car that has now been tailored to two other assigned drivers."

Further details will be published at a later stage.