It’s another Volkswagen interested in F1 rumour

Max Verstappen, FIA European Formula 3

Volkswagen entering Formula 1 is a story that’s been around for years—here’s one from 2001—and yet, so far, nothing has ever eventuated. Word from the BBC says the German giant is currently undertaking a feasibility study into a possible entry into the world’s biggest motorsport melodrama and that former Ferrari Team Principal and now Volkswagen Group employee Stefano Domenicali is calling the shots.

Like most other VW–F1 rumours there’s no real expectation for anything to turn this one into reality. And, fittingly, that seems largely due to a clash of egos. What else!

According to Eddie Jordan (no he’s not the ego involved here) Volkswagen boss Ferdinand Piech thinks Bernie Ecclestone is a bit of a tossbag and while both men hold their respective controlling roles there will be no Volkswagen entry in F1.

“The Volkswagen Audi Group is the second biggest car maker in the world and as such it needs to be in Formula 1,” Jordan declared. “But it will not enter it while the sport remains under the control of Bernie Ecclestone, who VAG boss Ferdinand Piech dislikes on a personal and professional basis.

“Martin Winterkorn, the chairman of the board of management of Volkswagen, is being groomed as Piech’s successor and he has always believed that F1 is a great platform for the group’s brands.

“I am told he privately believes VAG should be a part of F1. If VAG did come to F1, I believe it would be with their own team, with the car designed and made in Germany.”

Currently Volkswagen’s involvement with open wheel racing is limited to Formula 3. We can, in part, thank them for giving Daniel Ricciardo a pathway into F1. There’s a few other names on that list, too, including Max Verstappen, pictured above racing in the European F3 championship earlier this year.

The Volkswagen Group spends the majority of its motorsport cash on WRC, WEC (Audi and Porsche) and DTM (Audi). Any entry into F1 would likely end some or perhaps all of that high profile motorsport participation.

However, you might be surprised to learn outside estimates suggest VW spent €320 million on its DTM and sportscar programs this year, compared with a net outlay of €130 million for Mercedes, who swept the F1 world aside with a dominant season. In return the perceived advertising benefit for Mercedes has been valued at $2.8 billion in 2014 against a $30 million benefit for the DTM and WEC exposure gained by Volkswagen’s brands.

You’d reckon that’s enough to give Domenicali something to think about.

[Source: BBC]

2015 WEC calendar confirmed

2014 6 Hours of Bahrain

The 2015 WEC calendar has been published following ratification from the FIA World Motor Sport Council.

As with this year there will be eight races in all. However, the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo has been dropped and replaced with the 6 Hours of Nürburgring in late August.

The season will begin at Silverstone in April and finish in Bahrain in November. The flagship 24 Hours of Le Mans will be held on 13–14 June.

Next year will bring the added interest of Nissan joining the LMP1 fun alongside defending champions Toyota and fellow competitors Audi and Porsche.

Check out the calendar in full after the break.

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2015 WRC calendar confirmed

2014 WRC Rally Australia

The FIA World Motor Sport Council approved the 2015 WRC calendar last week.

As usual the WRC season starts with Rallye Monte Carlo, to be held on the last weekend in January. Rally Australia maintains its mid-September date and the 13-race calender ends in Great Britain in mid-November.

Check out the calendar in full after the break.

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Mercedes CLA 45 AMG Shooting Brake revealed

Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG Shooting Brake

If you think the Volkswagen Golf R wagon is pretty cool, then we reckon you will love this Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG Shooting Brake.

As you’d expect it’s a simple case of stuffing the 265kW/450Nm A45 AMG drivetrain into a Shooting Brake body and regular readers won’t be surprised to learn we think this is the best looking A45 variant you can buy. Or will be able to buy.

For now we’re just getting a preview of the CLA 45 AMG Shooting Brake ahead of its full reveal at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2015.

More detail awaits after the brake, erm, break.

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Trophies stolen in Red Bull ram raid

Red Bull Racing, Milton Keynes, UK

Over 60 trophies have been stolen from the Red Bull Racing factory in Milton Keynes during a ram raid attack yesterday morning.

Thames Valley Police say a silver 4×4 was used to crash through the front doors and a dark coloured Mercedes-Benz estate was also involved, with both cars understood to have foreign number plates.

According to the police report six men took part in the burglary although no description has been released other than to say they were all wearing dark coloured clothing.

“Beyond the aggressive nature of this break-in, we are perplexed why anyone would take these trophies,” said Christian Horner, Red Bull Racing Team Principal. “The value to the team is of course extraordinarily high due to the sheer hard work and effort that went into winning each and every one. But their intrinsic value is low; they would be of little benefit to those outside of the team and, in addition to that, many of the trophies on display were replicas.

“The actions of these men mean it’s likely that we will have to make our site less accessible in the future, which will be unfair on the hundreds of fans that travel to visit our factory each year to see our trophies and our Formula One car.”

Full statements from RBR and Thames Valley Police can be read below.

[Pic: Red Bull/Getty Images]

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FIA scraps controversial double points rule

2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

The controversial double points rule in F1 has been officially scrapped. The decision was confirmed after the FIA World Motor Sport Council had its post-season shindig during the week.

A number of headline grabbing items were signed off, including a 21-race calendar, the introduction of a Virtual Safety Car, revisions to power unit penalties, tightening of Super Licence requirements for 2016 and more.

But it is these words that restored a smile to fans and competitors alike: “Points for both titles will no longer be doubled for the final Event of the Championship.”

The Virtual Safety Car will impose a speed limit for drivers to adhere to during incidents that aren’t serious enough to warrant a Safety Car on circuit. It’s not, as the name might suggest, a means of automatically limiting a car’s speed by controlling its onboard computer.

[Source: FIA]

F1 reveals bumper 21-race calendar for 2015

2012 Korean Grand Prix

The Korean Grand Prix is back on the Formula 1 calendar after the FIA published a surprise 21-race program during the week.

This is a bit of an odd one as there is, in theory, a 20-race cap for the F1 calendar. Speculation suggests the weeds around the Yeongam circuit will remain untouched and the race won’t actually go ahead.

It would seem the inclusion of the Korean Grand Prix has more to do with engine allowances in 2015 than it does actual racing. Under the current regulations each driver will have access to just four power units next season. However, there is a clause allowing an increase to five power units if the calendar exceeds 20 races.

In relation to engine allowances the sporting regs state: “This number will be increased to five if the number of Events in the Championship, as originally scheduled, exceeds 20.”

“Orignally scheduled” being the key words there. For example, if the season is underway and Korea remains on the calendar the teams and drivers will have five power units at their disposal for the year. If the Korean race is later cancelled then the extra engine allowance will still stand.

There could be some mileage left in this story yet.

You can see the full calendar after the break.

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Aston Martin gives “unique” DB10 leading role

Aston Martin DB10

The 24th Bond film will be called Spectre and it will star this Aston Martin DB10. For now the DB10 will be limited to 10 models for filming purposes only.

Sam Mendes, director of Skyfall and Spectre, was consulted during the design process which was led by Marek Reichman, Aston Martin Chief Creative Officer.

From the single image we have to go on the DB10 has a clear lineage with the DB9 and that’s a good thing. We’d love to learn more about the Bond DB10 but all we can tell you for now is that it “gives a glimpse to the future direction for the next generation of Aston Martins.”

“In the same year that we celebrate our 50-year relationship with 007, it seems doubly fitting that today we unveiled this wonderful new sports car created especially for James Bond,” said Dr Andy Palmer, CEO of Aston Martin.

“To be partnering once again with EON Productions is great news for this company and for everyone around the world that loves to see Bond at the wheel of an Aston Martin.

“I’m incredibly proud of everyone in the team at Gaydon who have brought this special project from concept to reality.”

Spectre is due for worldwide release on 6 November 2015.

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Mads Ostberg keeps job with Citroën

2014 Wales Rally GB

Mads Ostberg will remain with Citroën Racing next year, meaning the French outfit will continue with the same driver lineup as this year. Also making a one-off appearance at Rallye Monte Carlo will be nine-time world champ Sebastien Loeb.

“I’m very happy to be able to keep working with the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team,” Ostberg said. “I have learned a lot just by being in contact with this fantastic team and I feel that I’m a better driver.

“With the DS 3 WRC, I had to adjust my driving style. The work I put in has enabled me to discover new techniques, and they have helped me get to grips with certain surfaces and conditions more easily.

“I’ll be using this experience to go even further in 2015. I’m really looking forward to seeing the upgrades that have been made on the DS 3 WRC.”

The 27-year-old Norwegian has a single rally victory to his name, Rally Portugal in 2012 at the wheel of a Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

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V8 Supercars is an inward looking pile of crap

2014 Bathurst 12 Hour

GT racing is better than V8 Supercars. It just is. At least that’s my firmly held opinion.

Watch a GT race and you’ll see it has genuine variety, desirability and access to some of the world’s greatest drivers and certainly access to the world’s greatest tracks. Le Mans, the Nürburgring Nordschleife and Spa are just a few of the tracks you’ll see GT cars competing on.

Ever since the creation of the exclusive Holden v Ford V8 Supercars series it’s been a narrow minded world designed to shield itself from outside influences. Yes, the racing has at times been exciting and there’s no denying the crowds and support has been immense. And, yes, I’ve even enjoyed watching a few races, usually the iconic Bathurst 1000, which has a cultural significance that will last well beyond the life of V8SC.

But the V8SC era has never held the appeal to me of the touring cars I grew up with in the 1970s and 1980s, which had greater depth and (to me) much more credibility.

Ironically, in a desperate bid to maintain relevancy, V8SC has had to open its four doors to other manufacturers. And from 2017 onwards you won’t even need a V8 engine to race in V8 Supercars. It is fast becoming an irrelevant series improving its ability to shuffle deck chairs.

Now V8 Supercars is circling its wagons to protect itself from the superior GT classes. And how are they doing that? By stopping the likes of Craig Lowndes and all other V8SC drivers from competing in the Bathurst 12 Hour. And in one fell swoop V8SC management proves itself to be the rednecks we feared they were.

Next year’s Bathurst 12 Hour, with its increasingly strong field and international importance, is scheduled for 7–8 February. In response to that V8SC has scheduled a compulsory test session on the same weekend and changed its regulations to make it mandatory for the category’s lead drivers to participate. That is V8SC has officially banned its drivers from racing in the Bathurst 12 Hour.

Fuck you V8 Supercars, I will never watch another race in your shitty and globally insignificant series again!

[Source: Speedcafe | Pic: Joel Strickland Photographics | Thanks to Wes for the tip]

Fernando forced to shelve 2015 Le Mans plans

Fernando Alonso, starting the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 2014

We don’t know yet, officially, that Fernando Alonso will be racing for McLaren in 2015. We do know that Alonso wants to race at Le Mans.

Yet, if we’re to believe recent reports, McLaren has prevented Alonso from pursuing a drive at the 24 Hours of Le Mans next year, most likely to have been alongside fellow F1 alumni Nico Hulkenberg at Porsche.

As well as Ron Dennis’ controlling ways other factors likely to have contributed to scuppering Alonso’s plans include sponsorship clashes such as, Pirelli tyres (F1) v Michelin (WEC) and the more obvious clash of McLaren Automotive as a competitor to Porsche’s road cars.

[Source: Adam Cooper]

FIA report: “Bianchi did not slow sufficiently”

Jules Bianchi, Marussia, 2014 Japanese GP

A 396 page report into the Jules Bianchi accident at the Japanese Grand Prix has been presented to the FIA World Motorsport Council and makes several recommendations to be applied to all international circuit racing.

A summary of the report published by the FIA states: “Bianchi did not slow sufficiently to avoid losing control at the same point on the track as Sutil.

“If drivers adhere to the requirements of double yellow flags, as set out in Appendix H, Art., then neither competitors nor officials should be put in immediate or physical danger.

“Bianchi over-controlled the oversteering car, such that he left the track earlier than Sutil, and headed towards a point ‘up-stream’ along the barrier. Unfortunately, the mobile crane was in front of this part of the barrier, and he struck and under-ran the rear of it at high speed.”

Seven recommendations have been made by the specially convened Accident Panel tasked with investigating the crash. Included on the 10-member panel were former team principal Ross Brawn, Stefano Domenicali and former drivers Emerson Fittipaldi and Alex Wurz.

The panel’s recommendations include the adoption of yellow flag speed limits, a review of track drainage guidelines, a call for Super Licence qualification to incorporate a course on FIA safety procedures, increased testing of wet weather tyres and an overall review into the risks associated with Formula 1.

[Source: FIA | Thanks to Stu for the tip]