Orange is the new black for McLaren

McLaren Honda have revealed a new livery for the MCL32 featuring the team’s heritage orange colour.

The MCL32 is the first McLaren Formula 1 race car since 1980 to not include the ‘MP4’ (Marlboro Project 4) prefix in its name.

McLaren is kicking off a new era after the departure of its long-time boss Ron Dennis, with executive director Zak Brown having taken over at the role.

After weeks of speculation, the much anticipated launch confirmed McLaren will run with an orange branding this season.

“It is awesome,” said Brown. “It is a special day for all of us, first time in a car launch. I think it is a beautiful piece of art and I cannot wait to see Fernando and Stoffel go around the track.

“It was a collective group – we went through a variety of designs and ultimately it was in response to the fans, we have had such outreach from fans ‘we want to have orange’.”

He added: “I am a McLaren fan – we are going to get there. This team is highly frustrated that we are not winning races.

“We have a new package – it takes a bit of time. 2015 was a very difficult year, 2016 wasn’t a great year by McLaren standards but it is forward progress – and that is what we want to see in 2017 – forward progress. ”

The Woking-based outfit had run an orange livery during pre-season testing in 1997, 1998 and 2006, although a full orange livery had only been raced in Formula 1 from 1968 to 1971.

McLaren enters the third season of its partnership with Honda, hoping to take a significant step forward after two disappointing years.

The team’s fortunes improved in 2016 compared to the previous year – when it scored just 27 points – but it was still unable to compete near the front and finished down in sixth place in the constructors’ championship.

Honda’s new engine will feature a revised architecture and a new layout for this year, the Japanese manufacturer moving away from the ‘size zero’ concept with which it returned to the sport in 2015.

McLaren has retained Fernando Alonso for 2017, but the two-time champion will be partnered by Stoffel Vandoorne, who replaces Jenson Button.

The 2009 champion ended his Formula 1 career at the end of 2016 campaign, although he still has a contract with McLaren for next year.

Vandoorne, the 2015 GP2 champion, is already a point-scorer in Formula 1, having replaced Alonso in last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix, following the Spaniard’s massive accident in the first race in Australia.

So the future is looking bright for McLaren. New driver line-up. New boss in charge. New chassis name. Plus a bold orange look. Can the team fight back to competitiveness? Only time will tell.

Ferrari presents the SF70H

Scuderia Ferrari became the sixth Formula 1 team to unveil its new racing car, the SF70H, as the team aims to bounce back from a disappointing 2016 season.

The Scuderia opted an online launch, broadcasting live from Fiorano, where its 2017 challenger will hit the track for the first time later as part of a filming day.

The SF70H features some aggressively sculpted sidepods and has a T-wing fitted to its shark fin engine cover – exploiting the same loophole in the regulations as Mercedes.

Team principal Maurizio Arrivabene, chief technical officer Mattia Binotto and race drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were on stage for the presentation.

The Italian outfit had hoped to challenge for the championship last year after winning three races in 2015 to finish runner-up to Mercedes.

But it fell well short as it struggled with set-up, strategy and tyre temperatures over the course of 2016 and rarely managed to get the most out of its package.

It failed to win a race and was beaten to second in the constructors’ championship by Red Bull Racing, finishing 367 points adrift of Mercedes.

Ferrari’s technical structure was tweaked mid-season when technical director James Allison left the team, with Binotto moving from his role as engine boss to head up the technical department.

Mercedes introduces their 2017 title defender, the W08

Reigning Formula 1 world champion Mercedes have officially unveiled their 2017 race car, the W08, at a launch event at Silverstone.

The Silver Arrows has already broken cover earlier when it completed a few laps under the sport’s “filming day” allowance with Lewis Hamilton at the wheel

Its nose is narrower and features a more rounded end compared to the thumb stub as seen on rivals Williams, Sauber and Renault.

A small shark fin was revealed at the race track, but a larger version of it is expected to be tested later.

“It is so exciting to see this thing come together,” said Hamilton as he and new team-mate Valtteri Bottas revealed the car.

“From working in the windtunnel, then they have this jig which is into real carbon fibre, you see it all come together, do the seat fitting over the winter and in the last few days seeing it all appearing, somehow they all just slot in perfectly.

“Driving today, naturally the car feels wider, which it is, and the front tyres feel huge.

“There is quite a lot of grip already even in the cold conditions here.

“This is not a test, really the laps I did today were behind a vehicle to get filming in and just a shakedown.

“I got to go a little bit faster but it’s so gusty and it is wet.”

Former Williams driver Bottas had a late call to join the team that has dominated the last three Formula 1 seasons after Nico Rosberg retired days after clinching the 2016 championship.

“It is a big day for me,” said Bottas.

“Driving a Silver Arrow for the first time is something very special.

“I have been waiting for this moment for quite a while and also for the test for a long time.

“I am going to drive the car in less than an hour, it feels real and I am amazed how good the car is looking.

“What I really like about this is how clean it looks, but there is a massive amount of detail on the rear end and bargeboards – development has been done – and how far everything has been taken with this car.

“It looks cool.”

Mercedes has dominated the sport since 2014, when the championship switched to a V6 turbo-hybrid engine formula, winning 51 of the 59 Grands Prix.

Force India’s bold 2017-spec racer

Force India unveiled the VJM10 at a press event at Silverstone featuring an unique take on the sport’s 2017 regulations.

As was the case with the previous three Formula 1 cars released so far this year, the VJM10 features a thumb-tip nose and a huge shark fin, as well as significantly different front and rear wings to meet the new aerodynamic rules.

The Mercedes-powered design will be driven by team regular Sergio Perez and former Manor driver Esteban Ocon, who replaces Renault-bound Nico Hulkenberg.

It is the tenth Formula 1 challenger produced under the Force India brand, with the sometime Jordan, Midland and Spyker team now nearly a decade into its stint under Vijay Mallya.

Force India enjoyed its strongest season to date in 2016, when it finished in fourth position in the constructors’ championship with 173 points, beating the likes of Williams and McLaren.

“I’m very excited,” said Mallya as the car was unveiled.

“Many commentators have said we punch well above our weight and to add to that we are world champions for the amount of money spent.

“It is a huge compliment, it speaks volumes for the passions, creativity and talent of my team and everyone at the factory.

“This passion will get more intense and the passion to improve further is going to be pretty relevant in 2017.”

Technical director Andy Green said the scale of design change prompted by the new regulations was much higher than usual.

“Compared to previous seasons, this is as close to brand new – it is 95% brand new,” he said.

“The philosophy is similar but we are effectively starting from scratch.

“It was a jigsaw to put together but we have the basis of a car now.”

The VJM10 may not win the beauty contest but lets hope the new racer is competitive in the upcoming world championship.

 

Renault shows off R.S.17

Renault have revealed their 2017 racer, the R.S. 17, featuring a new livery, with the team targeting fifth position in the the upcoming Formula 1 championship.

The R.S. 17 sports Renault’s traditional yellow colour scheme, but with a lot more black compared to last year. A re-shaped rear wing and the thumb-tip nose design are similar to the Williams and Sauber. In addition, the shark fin engine cover is expected to be seen on all cars.

Powered by the new RE17 engine, which is a departure from last season’s power unit, having undergone a radical overhaul after Renault felt the old design had reached its maximum potential.

Last year marked the French manufacturer’s return to Formula 1 with its own team, having taken over the Lotus squad the previous year.

Renault is aiming to bounce back from a disappointing 2016 season where it finished in ninth position with just eight points scored.

The team spent a big part of 2016 restructuring and recruiting new staff ahead of what is set to be a stronger challenge this year.

“2017 will be a great year, a crucial year,” commented Jerome Stoll, Renault Sport Racing Chairman. “For the first time the car is developed by us and we expect to be fifth. We have the team, the drivers, the partners and the organisation.”

Team principal Fred Vasseur parted company with Renault last month, the Frenchman citing differences of opinion among the senior management as the reason for his exit.

Recently the team hired former Red Bull Racing man Pete Machin as its head of aerodynamics.

On the driver front, former Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg joins Jolyon Palmer, the German replacing Haas-bound Kevin Magnussen in the Enstone-based line-up.

Sauber reveals anniversary colours with the C36

Sauber have become the second Formula 1 team to release images of their 2017 race car, with the Ferrari-powered C36 sporting a shark fin engine cover and a new livery.

The Swiss outfit, which finished tenth in the constructors’ championship last season, will unveil the new car in full on February 22 during a filming day at Barcelona.

Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein will be Sauber’s drivers this upcoming season, though Antonio Giovinazzi will fulfil testing duties for the injured Wehrlein at the first test, which starts on February 27.

The C36 features a reshaped rear wing, similar to that of the Williams FW40, and a thumb-tip nose design at the front of the car.

The blue, white and gold livery marks the team’s 25th season in Formula 1.

New technical director Jorg Zander said the team “put greater emphasis on aerodynamic stability as opposed to maximising downforce” with the C36.

Zander, who joins from Audi ahead of this season, added that the decision to run a year-old Ferrari engine gave Sauber a solid foundation as it is “a tried and tested system with higher durability to begin with.

“Being able to get started early and defining the engine environment was an advantage because the team was familiar with the engine and the transmission as well as the cooling requirements the engine entailed.”

Williams unveils FW40, the new looking Formula 1 racer

Wiliams Martini Racing becomes the first Formula 1 team to release pictures of their 2017 race car, showing how the new regulations have dramatically impacted the look of these racing machines for the upcoming season.

The computer-generated images of the team’s Mercedes-powered FW40 – named to mark the occasion of Williams’ 40th anniversary in the sport – demonstrates the wider and lower characteristics of the new cars.

The 2017 regulation changes have been designed to boost downforce and grip, making the cars both faster and physically harder to drive, with a reduction in lap time of around 3 to 5 seconds expected.

At the front of the FW40, the thumb-tip nose design that first became a feature of some cars from three seasons ago remains, with Williams’s solution very similar to the set-up it used in 2015-16.

The wide, slick Pirelli tyres and angled wings do make the cars look dramatic although the Martini livery is getting a little stale.

At the wheel of the FW40 will be Felipe Massa, who rejoined Williams following his brief retirement after Valtteri Bottas left for Mercedes – to replace the out-going world champion Nico Rosberg – and Canadian rookie, Formula 3 champion Lance Stroll.

Bottas leaves Williams for Mercedes as Massa returns

Valtteri Bottas will line-up alongside Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes in 2017 after Williams agreed to release the Finnish driver from his contract. Valtteri’s place at Williams will be Felipe Massa, who is to come out of his short retirement to re-join the team on a one-year deal.

It brings to an end a saga that has run since Nico Rosberg announced his shock retirement from Formula 1 just days after winning the 2016 world championship.

Bottas quickly emerged as Mercedes’ leading candidate to partner Hamilton but the discussions ran for several weeks before an agreement was reached.

With teenager Lance Stroll signed up for 2017, Williams wanted an experienced driver if it was to release Bottas, especially given the dramatic regulation changes for this season.

Williams also could not field a second young driver as that would cause problems with key sponsor Martini. As this would create a bad image for an alcoholic brand.

It is believed Williams was initially uncertain whether Felipe Massa would accept an invitation to return.

But after making contact and holding an initial meeting, an agreement for a one-year deal was swiftly reached.

“I am very happy to have an opportunity to return to Williams,” said Massa.

“I always intended to race somewhere in 2017, but Williams is a team close to my heart and I have respect for everything it is trying to achieve.

“Valtteri has a great opportunity, given the turn of events over the winter, and I wish him all the best at Mercedes.

“In turn, when I was offered the chance to help Williams with their 2017 campaign, it felt like the right thing to do.

“I certainly have not lost any of my enthusiasm for racing and I’m extremely motivated to be coming back to drive the FW40.”

Deputy team principal Claire Williams said: “I’m delighted that Felipe has agreed to come out of retirement to be a part of our 2017 campaign.

“With Valtteri having a unique opportunity to join the current constructors’ champions, we have been working hard to ensure that an agreement could be made with Mercedes to give Valtteri this fantastic opportunity.

“Valtteri has been part of the Williams family since 2010 and in that time has proved a huge talent, securing nine podium finishes.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank him on behalf of the whole team, and wish him a successful season as he joins Mercedes.

“Felipe has always been a much-loved member of the Williams family, and having the opportunity to work with him again is something we all look forward to.

“Felipe re-joining us provides stability, experience and talent to help lead us forward. He is a great asset for us.”

Bottas joins Mercedes having scored nine podiums but he has yet to reach the top step in 77 starts.

The Finn is looking forward to the new challenge driving for the world champions.

“It’s mega to be driving a Silver Arrow this year,” said Bottas in an address to the workforce at Mercedes’ UK factory in Brackley. “I can’t wait to get working properly.

“My goal is immediately at the first race to get all the points that are available. I guarantee I will be giving it all.

“I want to thanks Toto (Wolff, Mercedes-Benz head of motorsport) and everyone at the Mercedes and Daimler boards for this opportunity.

“This is my fifth season in F1. I got nine podiums with Williams, but I’m still missing my first win, so that’s my first mission.”

On lining up alongside three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, the Finn added: “I think with Lewis we are going to be a strong pair together. I really respect him as a driver and a person.

“I’m sure we are going to close, and we’re going to be both pushing each forward. I’m sure we can work as a team.”

Toto Wolff, Mercedes-Benz motorsport chief, said Bottas was the ideal candidate to replace outgoing world champion Nico Rosberg.

“I think Valtteri fits very well in our team, as a driver he’s very fast, and he has also the heart in the right place.

“He shares our values and passion,” Wolff added. “He’s modest and humble and he’s hard working.”

Best of luck to Valtteri in his new racing team, while Felipe briefly enjoyed his retirement away from the sport. It’s going to be fascinating how Bottas will cope in a highly competitive environment at Mercedes this season.

F1 world champion Rosberg annouces retirement

After winning the Formula 1 world championship on Sunday, Nico Rosberg made a shocking announcement with the news that he is retiring from the sport with immediate effect.

The Mercedes driver beat his team-mate and old racing rival Lewis Hamilton to the title, sealing the crown in a tense season finale in Abu Dhabi last weekend.

Speaking ahead of the sport’s governing body prize giving gala in Vienna, Rosberg announced his retirement via social media.

“Since 25 years in racing, it has been my dream, my ‘one thing’ to become Formula One World Champion. Through the hard work, the pain, the sacrifices, this has been my target.And now I’ve made it. I have climbed my mountain, I am on the peak, so this feels right. My strongest emotion right now is deep gratitude to everybody who supported me to make that dream happen.

“This season, I tell you, it was so damn tough. I pushed like crazy in every area after the disappointments of the last two years; they fuelled my motivation to levels I had never experienced before. And of course that had an impact on the ones I love, too – it was a whole family effort of sacrifice, putting everything behind our target. I cannot find enough words to thank my wife Vivian; she has been incredible. She understood that this year was the big one, our opportunity to do it, and created the space for me to get full recovery between every race, looking after our daughter each night, taking over when things got tough and putting our championship first.

“When I won the race in Suzuka, from the moment when the destiny of the title was in my own hands, the big pressure started and I began to think about ending my racing career if I became World Champion. On Sunday morning in Abu Dhabi, I knew that it could be my last race and that feeling cleared my head before the start. I wanted to enjoy every part of the experience, knowing it might be the last time… and then the lights went out and I had the most intense 55 laps of my life. I took my decision on Monday evening. After reflecting for a day, the first people I told were Vivian and Georg (Nolte, from Nico’s management team), followed by Toto.

“The only thing that makes this decision in any way difficult for me is because I am putting my racing family into a tough situation. But Toto understood. He knew straight away that I was completely convinced and that reassured me. My proudest achievement in racing will always be to have won the world championship with this incredible team of people,the Silver Arrows.

“Now, I’m just here to enjoy the moment. There is time tosavour the next weeks, to reflect on the season and to enjoy every experience that comes my way. After that, I will turn the next corner in my life and see what it has in store for me…”

Rosberg began his Formula 1 career with Williams in 2006 before moving to Mercedes for the 2010 season. He won his first Grand Prix with the Silver Arrows in the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix and went on to take a total of 23 victories from 206 starts, twice finishing championship runner-up to team-mate Lewis Hamilton before taking his maiden drivers’ title this year.

Nico goes out on a high thanks to his championship success and it will be fascinating to see what Mercedes will do in terms of placement. Pascal Wehrlein seems the likely candidate following a strong season with Manor and Mercedes rate him strongly thanks to his title win in the DTM in 2015.

So farewell Nico Rosberg. Thanks for the racing memories. Earn that well deserved rest with your family and best wishes in the future.

Rosberg wins Formula 1 title at Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg has clinched his maiden Formula 1 world championship by fending off Sebastian Vettel to finish second in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as title rival Lewis Hamilton won the race.

Rosberg entered the twenty-first and final Grand Prix of the season with a 12-point lead and simply needed to be third or higher to take the title no matter where Hamilton finished.

Hamilton kept the pace slow in the final stint when leading Rosberg, backing his Mercedes team-mate into the pack, despite persistent calls from his team to up speed.

But the tactic failed to pay off, with Rosberg soaking up the pressure from Vettel to guide his car home second.

As a result, Rosberg won the world championship by five points at Yas Marina to become the sport’s 33rd world champion, 34 years after his father Keke achieved the feat.

Hamilton led Rosberg away at the start but the Silver Arrows duo did not pull away from Kimi Raikkonen, who jumped Daniel Ricciardo, and Vettel.

Rosberg pitted a lap after Hamilton, ditching the ultra-softs for the softs, and like Hamilton was held in his box while a Ferrari entered the pits.

He rejoined behind Max Verstappen, who had spun at the first corner after contact with Nico Hulkenberg and had cut his way back through the field on the super-softs and was looking to extend his stint.

Mercedes told Rosberg he needed to pass Verstappen because the Red Bull driver was going purposefully slow, setting up a tense couple of moments as the two went wheel-to-wheel with Max holding firm.

After backing off for a few laps, Mercedes told Rosberg to attack again and this time, Nico made a pass stick through Turns 8 and 9 before covering the line into Turn 11 to retake second.

The second stops for both Hamilton and Rosberg were smooth, with the duo retaining formation as they rejoined second and third behind Vettel, who was running a long second stint, until Rosberg pitted.

The gap hovered around the one-second mark for much of the remainder of the race, with Hamilton appearing to attempt to back Rosberg into the chasing pack.

The main threat was Vettel, who was last of the frontrunners to make a final stop and took on fresh super-softs. He passed both Red Bulls and closed in on the two Mercedes, bringing Verstappen with him.

Rosberg complained Hamilton was too slow while Mercedes instructed Hamilton to up the pace, including a message from technical boss Paddy Lowe, but the reigning champion replied at one point “let us race”.

Ultimately, it didn’t pay off as Hamilton crossed the line to win his tenth race of the season, compared to nine wins for Rosberg, with his team-mate second.

Vettel, Verstappen, Ricciardo and Raikkonen completed the top six.

Force India’s Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez were seventh and eight respectively, securing fourth position in the constructors’ championship for the outfit for the first time.

Felipe Massa finished the final race of his Formula 1 career in ninth, with Fernando Alonso completing the top ten.

McLaren team-mate Jenson Button had a disappointing final race before his likely retirement. Button hitting a kerb at Turn 10 hard, causing damage to the steering and forcing him out.

Carlos Sainz retired with a gearbox problem, moments after he was hit by Renault’s Jolyon Palmer, while his Toro Rosso team-mate Daniil Kvyat also failed to finish.

And so ends a tense and dramatic season of Formula 1 racing. Hamilton put on a brave fight but it was his Mercedes team-mate and rival Rosberg who achieved the dream result. Congratulations Nico Rosberg. 2016 world champion.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, race results after 55 laps:
1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari
4    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault
5    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault
6    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari
7    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes
8    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes
9    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes
10    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda
11    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari
12    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari
13    Esteban Ocon    Manor-Mercedes
14    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes
15    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari
16    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari
17    Jolyon Palmer    Renault
–    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari
–    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari
–    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda
–    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes
–    Kevin Magnussen    Renault

Final drivers’ standings:
1    Nico Rosberg    385
2    Lewis Hamilton    380
3    Daniel Ricciardo    256
4    Sebastian Vettel    212
5    Max Verstappen    204
6    Kimi Raikkonen    186
7    Sergio Perez    101
8    Valtteri Bottas    85
9    Nico Hulkenberg    72
10    Fernando Alonso    54
11    Felipe Massa    53
12    Carlos Sainz    46
13    Romain Grosjean    29
14    Daniil Kvyat    25
15    Jenson Button    21
16    Kevin Magnussen    7
17    Felipe Nasr    2
18    Jolyon Palmer    1
19    Pascal Wehrlein    1
20    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
21    Esteban Gutierrez    0
22    Marcus Ericsson    0
23    Esteban Ocon    0
24    Rio Haryanto    0

Final constructors’ standings:
1    Mercedes    765
2    Red Bull-Renault    468
3    Ferrari    398
4    Force India-Mercedes    173
5    Williams-Mercedes    138
6    McLaren-Honda    76
7    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    63
8    Haas-Ferrari    29
9    Renault    8
10    Sauber-Ferrari    2
11    Manor-Mercedes    1