Button to make endurance switch in 2015?

2014 British Grand Prix

Mercedes AMG, Red Bull and Ferrari (we think) have locked away their drivers for the 2015 Formula 1 season, leaving all eyes are on McLaren to see who will drive for the Woking-based team next year.

With the return of the McLaren-Honda partnership rumours suggest dual world champion and free agent Fernando Alonso has already signed a deal with the Japanese car maker. If that proves true then it seems logical that one of McLaren’s current drivers will be forced to make way for Alonso.

Will McLaren go for the youth and qualifying pace of Kevin Magnussen or the experience and racecraft of Jenson Button? If it is the 2009 world champion Ron Dennis taps on the shoulder the BBC reports Button may look to follow Mark Webber into the World Endurance Championship.

Button’s manager Richard Goddard said: “Jenson is an incredibly competitive racing driver who wants to race. He’s too good to sit at the back of the F1 grid. So he either gets a competitive car in F1 or he goes to get one elsewhere.”

Apprently Button’s management has already held discussions with Porsche and Goddard has described the WEC as “as formidable series that is gaining strength.”

A Webber–Button partnership at the wheel of a Porsche 919; if nothing else you’d reckon WEC organisers would love that to happen.

[Source: BBC]

Nico Hulkenberg will use the Force in 2015

2014 British Grand Prix

Force India has locked in Nico Hulkenberg for one more year, securing the 27-year-old German for the 2015 season.

“It’s good to confirm my plans for next season,” Hulkenberg said. “This is a team I know extremely well and we’ve enjoyed a great year together with some special results. The team has big ambitions and I believe we can have a competitive package once again next year.

“We have a strong partner in Mercedes and everyone in the team is motivated and hungry for more success. I have a good feeling for 2015 and there is a lot to be excited about as we try to build on the results we have achieved this year.”

Hulkenberg’s 2014 teammate, Sergio Perez, hopes to remain with Force India next year too, but nothing is confirmed at this stage.

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Porsche gets ready to blow 911 history to pieces

Porsche 911, 991.2 prototype

When Porsche made the move from air cooled to water cooled engines the purists would have you believe the sky was falling. The end was nigh. In truth, some of the best 911s ever made are water cooled and the sun is still coming up every day.

However, we could be facing renewed predictions of dark days by doom merchants if Car magazine’s prediction for the 991.2 is correct. Apparently the 991 will boast an all-turbo* engine range when the facelifted range is launched in quarter two of 2015.

Truth be told, we can probably count ourselves as merchants of doom as far as this story goes. While understanding the need to push for the greater efficiencies a turbo powerplant will bring, basking in the glory of a howling normally aspirated 911 is one of life’s greatest joys.

The entry level Carrera is expected to have its capacity reduced from 3.4 litres to 2.9 litres. The addition of a turbo, though, is expected to produce key numbers of 300kW/540Nm, up from 257kW/390Nm. The Carrera S will keep its 3.8 litre capacity and get boosted up to 395kW/705Nm, a very healthy increase from 294kW/440Nm.

Which makes you wonder what on earth the next 911 Turbo and GT2 will do to separate themselves from their new turbocharged underlings!

*The magic asterisk suggests the 991.2 GT3 will remain normally aspirated, but, y’know, they’ve already taken the manual ‘box away from us, so why not bung a hairdryer on too!

[Source: Car | Thanks to Richard for the tip]

Audi Sport TT Cup to support DTM in 2015

Audi Sport TT Cup

Audi is increasing its motorsport presence by launching the Audi Sport TT Cup, which will form part of the supporting cast for the 2015 DTM season.

Based on the new TT, the race-prepped version weighs 1125kg and has 228kW on offer from its 2.0 litre turbocharged engine. A “push to pass” button provides a limited power boost of an additional 22kW.

A grid of 24 cars is planned for the one-make series, with 18 seats now up for grabs. The remaining six cars will be made available to guest drivers.

Audi driver Markus Winkelhock will be on hand to coach the drivers if need be. He’s been involved in testing for the new TT racer and said: “The Audi TT cup is a genuine race car, ideal for rookies, yet challenging to drive. You immediately feel that you’re sitting in an Audi and recognise the close kinship with the brand’s other race cars.”

Audi says the winner of the TT Cup could progress to the company’s GT3 program and possibly then onto DTM or WEC.

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Incredible F1 Lego MOCs

RoscoPC Formula 1 Lego MOC

In the world of serious Lego play MOC stands for My Own Creation and Luca Rusconi aka RoscoPC is king of Formula 1 MOCs. So far he has published 12 designs ranging, from a Lotus 43 through to the Williams FW14B you see above.

We’ve assembled a simple gallery below, but make sure you follow the link through to his website’s gallery, the level of detail is quite incredible. Luca’s work has seen him earn Lego Ambassador status and you can even buy the instructions to recreate these designs for yourself.

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BMW M4 DTM Champion Edition revealed

BMW M4 DTM Champions Edition

BMW has decided to celebrate Marco Wittman‘s DTM championship win with a limited edition M4 model. Called the M4 DTM Champion Edition only 23 will be made, in honour of Wittman’s race number this year.

All the cars will be delivered in Alpine White with decals and trim inspired by his Team RMG livery. There’s no comment on pricing in BMW’s brief press release, but, of course, you can expect it to cost plenty more than your standard M4. Also, with such low numbers, we can’t see this model being sold outside of Germany.

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Timo Bernhard laps the Circuit of the Americas

Timo Bernhard, Porsche 919 Hybrid

If you take a quick look inside the cabin of the Porsche 919 Hybrid it’s soon apparent that visibility may not be as good as you might expect. Those A-pillars are damn thick.

This dash-mounted video from inside the cabin doesn’t give you the driver’s eye view, but you still get an idea of the compromised sightlines faced while wrestling your way around the Circuit of the Americas in Austin.

Timo Bernhard is at the wheel, enjoy the ride!

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Check out the Porsche 919 Hybrid steering wheel

Porsche 919 steering wheel

Who doesn’t love a close up look at the steering wheel of a thoroughbred racecar! Here’s the wheel from the Porsche 919 Hybrid, there’s 24 buttons and six paddles in all, along with a multi-function display in the middle.

Two of the most important and most frequently used buttons are on the hand grips: the red button on the left is the let magic happen overtake button and releases the energy stored from the battery; the blue button is the get out of my way flashing light button, one press will flash the lights three times to warn slower cars ahead that the Porker is coming through.

The six paddle arrangement on the back is interesting, too. The two larger paddles in the middle are for gear changing, right for upshifts, left for downshifts. The lower paddles operate the clutch, both sides performing the same function. The top two paddles relate to the energy recovery system, the left side releases the boost and is a duplicate function of the red button from the front, the right side to commence manual energy recovery.

It always amazes how fiddly a modern steering wheel is on topline racecars and that under the pressure of competition drivers wearing thick gloves are able to operate all those buttons with accuracy and composure.

More photos and details from Porsche can be read after the break.

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For liberty, Fernando

2014 Italian Grand Prix

Departing Ferrari president Luca di Montzemolo has confirmed what we already knew, that Fernando Alonso will leave Ferrari at the end of the 2014 Formula 1 season.

Speaking on Italian television di Montezemolo said: “Fernando is leaving for two reasons.

“One, he wants another environment. Two, because he is an age when he cannot wait to win again.”

The 33-year-old dual world champion joined Ferrari in 2010 and came close to winning the title that year and again in 2012. In his time with the Scuderia he has constantly impressed with his ability to extract maximum performance from the oft sub-par machinery he has been given.

It’s expected that Alonso will drive for McLaren in 2015, with rumours suggesting he may have signed a deal directly with Honda. There’s also a chance that he may sit out for the year with an eye on a Mercedes seat in 2016. Although, Alonso has previously said it’s “probably not a big risk” that he won’t be in F1 next year.

McLaren it is then and you’d think Jenson Button, who will be 35 when the 2015 season begins, could be the man to make way.

Of course, the other well known secret in F1 is that Alonso will be replaced by Sebastian Vettel. We can expect an official statement from Maranello very soon it would appear.

Vettel’s contract with Red Bull Racing expires five days after the final race, which therefore includes the post-season test in Bahrain. Red Bull will hold Vettel to the terms of his contract, denying him an opportunity to test with Ferrari before the year is out.

[Source: BBC]

Marussia reacts to Bianchi crash allegations

2014 Japanese Grand Prix

Apparently there have been reports in the media hinting at negligence from both Jules Bianchi and the Marussia F1 Team in the immediate moments prior to Bianchi’s life-threatening crash.

The allegations are twofold, first that Bianchi did not slow down under the double waved yellow flags where Adrian Sutil’s car was being retrieved and secondly, that Marussia was urging Bianchi to keep going fast in order to keep the Caterham of Marcus Ericsson behind him.

As you might expect Marussia is upset at these claims and reacted by issuing an official statement which it hopes will set the record straight.

“The Marussia F1 Team is shocked and angered by these allegations,” the statement reads. “It is distressed to have to respond to deeply upsetting rumours and inaccuracies in respect of the circumstances of Jules’ accident. However, given that these allegations are entirely false, the team has no alternative but to address these.

“Regarding point 1, Jules did slow down under the double waved yellow flags. That is an irrefutable fact, as proven by the telemetry data, which the team has provided to the FIA.

“Regarding point 2, an audio copy of the full radio transmission between Jules and the team, and also a written transcript thereof, were provided to the FIA. It is quite clear from the transmission and the transcript that at no point during the period leading up to Jules’ accident did the team urge Jules to drive faster or make any comments suggesting that he should do so.”

Late last week Charlie Whiting, FIA F1 race director, gave a media briefing addressing Bianchi’s accident. He covered a number of topics, including the start time of the race, the use of the Safety Car, the actions of the flag marshals and more. Crucially, he also addressed the question of Bianchi’s speed during the double waved yellows.

“I know what speed he left the track at,” Whiting said. “A lot of cars came through the double waved yellow sector, not everyone slowed down as much.

“There were some that didn’t slow down much and some slowed down a lot—and I don’t think we need to go into the detail of how much he slowed down relative to the others.

“Suffice to say, we do have that data. He did slow down and it is a matter of degree.”

You can read Marussia’s full reaction after the break.

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2014 Russian Grand Prix in pictures

2014 Russian Grand Prix

The fun has come and gone from the Sochi sun and the Russian Grand Prix passed by without any idiot from the Formula 1 world threatening to “shirtfront” Putin. Which, in some ways, in just as bad as it would have been if some idiot did engage his mouth before his brain.

Anyway, enough of that, let’s just try and enjoy the images from the race. Hopefully, they’re not quite as dull as the on track action ended up.

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Shopping mall donuts F1 style

Carlos Sainz Jr drives a Red Bull RB7 inside Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi

Ever since I saw this as an eight-year-old kid I’ve wanted to drive a car inside a shopping mall. Any car would do, just the fun that wanton destruction would be still brings a smile to my face. But that dream has now been topped.

Sure, it’s little more than a cynical PR piece for a new blinged up shopping mall in the middle of a desert. But, a Formula 1 car through a shopping mall, give me some of that please!

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“Jules won’t give up”

Jules Bianchi

A little over a week from Jules Bianchi’s crash at the Japanese Grand Prix his father, Philippe, has spoken to Italian media about the condition of his son. Unfortunately, it’s not great reading.

In an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport, Philippe Bianchi said: “Every time the telephone goes, we know it could be the hospital to tell us that Jules is dead.

“He will not give up, I’m sure of that. I can see it. I believe it.

“I speak to him. I know he can hear me.

“His doctors have told us that this is already a miracle, no-one has ever survived such a serious accident. But Jules won’t give up.”

The Bianchi family continues to be buoyed by support from outside and inside the F1 paddock, with several drivers making contact.

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Philippe said. “It touched us very deeply. We thank every one of them. So many of them have been in touch, written to me; Alonso, Vergne, Massa have given strong messages.

“Hamilton wrote me a beautiful email in which he says that if there is anything he can do, he’s there. Rossi and Marquez from Moto GP too.”

Philippe Bianchi also touched on the similarities he now shares with the Schumacher family, where there is a pressure to update people on the condition of his son.

“I was very sad when he [Schumacher] got hurt,” Philippe said. “I kept wondering, like every one else ‘Why don’t they tell us more about how he is?’.

“But now I’m in the same position I understand. Everyone keeps asking me how Jules is but I can’t reply, there is no answer. It’s very serious but he’s stable.

“One day he seems a bit better, other days a bit worse. The doctors don’t say. The damage from the accident is very bad but we don’t know how it will evolve.

“Even with Schumacher it took months to come out of the coma. [FIA president] Jean Todt said he hopes Michael will one day be able to have a normal life. One day I hope we can say the same about Jules.

“It’s tough. In a week the life of this family has been destroyed. What are we doing here? Living a nightmare in a place very far from home.

“But when Jules gets a bit better we can transfer him, maybe to Tokyo and things will be a bit easier. But who knows when that will happen. If it will happen. We have no certainties, we just have to wait.”

A new official team statement regarding Jules Bianchi can be read after the break.

[Source: BBC | Pic: Marussia F1 Team]

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Chris Harris on Cars to launch on 12 November

991 Porsche 911 GT3

Chris Harris is one of our favourite car reviewers, and probably one of yours too. It’s not so much that he can hang the arse out of pretty much anything he drives, rather that he has an ability to describe the car he is driving and the sensations he is feeling better than pretty much anyone else.

He’s been on the motoring scene for a while now and while we suspect most of the AUSmotive audience has known of Chris for over a decade or more, he became an internet sensation through his videos for /Drive. Well, that’s about to change, as Chris himself states:

[I] will be offering even more access to my content through the next phase of Chris Harris on Cars, which will launch its new YouTube channel, free to air, November 12.

Harris, currently in Australia, has expanded on his future via his twitter feed:

– I’ve had the most wonderful time working on @drive. A great team, and some great shows. But It’s time to try something new.

– And huge thanks to those who supported the pay-wall. But I think I can just about make it work for free, and need to see if it works.

– Crucially, I’m staying involved with @drive on many current and future projects. But CHOC will move to a separate channel mid-november.

Something to watch out for! You can read more in Harris’ full statement, available in full after the break.

[Source: Chris Harris]

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McLaren P1 v Porsche 918 v Ducati 1199

McLaren P1 v Porsche 918 v Ducati 1199

Here’s a video shootout that’ll have you salivating. Autocar runs the fearsome McLaren P1 up against the amazing Porsche 918 Spyder. And for good measure they bring a Ducati 1199 along for a few laughs. Remember, it’s the superbike which gives its engine to the funky Volkswagen XL Sport.

Of course, there is a lot more to read from Autocar about the merits of these two hyperhybrids, including this bit:

Ultimately, the 918 handles, rides and steers like a big daddy version of every senior-level Porsche from the past 10 years, and that’s exactly how Porsche’s engineers wanted it to feel. Which is great, but…

The P1’s chassis, particularly its aerodynamic grip, really is something else again. At normal road speeds you rarely, if ever, notice what kind of sorcery is going on around you, because to get those wings to do their thing you need to be travelling at least somewhere close to three figures.

Naturally, Autocar wanted the LaFerrari to join in the fun too, but…

There was one simple reason for the absence of Ferrari’s rival hypercar here: Maranello was invited to provide a car for this test but declined. At the same time, Ferrari made it clear that were we to test a private example, we would not be invited back to Maranello any time soon.

[Source: Autocar]

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