Aged 25, Jaime Alguersuari has earlier today announced his retirement from racing. In a roughly translated statement to Spanish media, Jaime confirmed there was no underlying media reason for his retirement rather that he fell out of love with racing. After a spell with Toro Rosso in Formula One as part of the Red Bull Driver development programme Jaime spent time as a development driver in a series of categories and team before participating in the inaugural Formula E season with the Virgin Racing team. Following an unexplained fainting incident during the Russian round of the series the FIA suspended his racing license pending medical tests. No explanation for this incident has been provided but Jaime has confirmed this is not the sole motivation behind his retirement.
Following the conclusion of a multi-year supply agreement, Manor Marussia F1 Team will race with Mercedes-Benz Hybrid power from the 2016 season onwards. Since the introduction of the new Power Unit generation in 2014, the Mercedes-Benz Hybrid has set the competitive benchmark in the sport, claiming to date a total of 27 wins and 2,208 world championship points.
Under the terms of the agreement, Manor Marussia F1 Team will be supplied with Mercedes-Benz Power Units by Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) based in Brixworth, UK. The Power Unit will use Fluid Technology Solutions developed by PETRONAS, the technology partner of Mercedes-Benz. Under the agreement, Manor Marussia F1 Team will be supplied with current-year Power Units throughout the term.
John Booth, Team Principal, Manor Marussia F1 Team
“I am delighted to announce our new Power Unit partnership with Mercedes-Benz for the 2016 season and beyond. Although there were many factors governing our selection of an engine partner to help power us towards our long-term ambitions, ultimately the strength of the Mercedes-Benz package speaks for itself.
“2015 has been a rebuilding year in every aspect of our operation. Although we have not been able to make the incremental strides in competitiveness that the team has enjoyed in previous seasons, we have put in place a strong foundation from which to progress. Together with the potential we are seeing with our 2016 car in the wind tunnel, the Mercedes-Benz Power Unit will assist our return to aggressive performance development with effect from next season.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Scuderia Ferrari for their support for our team over the past two seasons. In 2014, together we shared in the momentous occasion of the team’s first points and in 2015 Ferrari supported us to a degree that was above and beyond the requirements of our partnership agreement. Quite simply, we could not have returned to the grid without them pushing extremely hard to support the MR03B, at the same time as focusing on their own 2015 package.
“I am also pleased to announce that we will resume our prior technical partnership with Williams Advanced Engineering, from whom we will receive the supply of transmission and suspension components. Combined with Mercedes-Benz Power Units, we are very excited about the strength of our new powertrain package and what it means for the long-term future of our team.”
Andy Cowell, Managing Director of Mercedes AMG HPP:
“It is a great pleasure to welcome the Manor Marussia F1 Team to our stable of customers at Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains. They are a team of real racers with great spirit and impressive determination to succeed. We enjoy strong relationships with all our customer teams, and take pride in delivering a standard of hardware and service that reflects the high standards that Mercedes-Benz stands for. Furthermore, this new agreement should enable us to keep our supply roster at three customer teams for 2016, which is our ideal level in terms of technical and logistical capacity. We will be targeting gains in both performance and reliability for the 2016 Power Unit and look forward to delivering those to our new customers at Manor Marussia F1 Team.”
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
“Mercedes-Benz has a clear Formula One philosophy based around our works Silver Arrows team and supplying benchmark Power Units to independent customer teams. We believe this approach provides Formula One with greater strength in depth and ensures a deeper level of competitiveness throughout the field. In anticipation of Renault’s takeover of the Lotus F1 Team, we are pleased to announce Manor Marussia as a new customer of Mercedes-Benz. It is a tenacious team with a fantastic competitive spirit, and we are all excited to see what step forward they can make next year with their new car coupled with the Mercedes-Benz Hybrid Power Unit.”
Opinion – The widely expected Manor Mercedes Benz agreement has finally been confirmed, in what can only be described as a fantastic development for the team. It can be assumed that Manor will look to secure a Mercedes Development driver within their 2016 lineup. With Manor taking on an informal role of junior or development team for Mercedes Benz. The key message to take away from this announcement is that Manor will run current year power units for the term of the agreement, this is guaranteed to bring the team up the grid and will strengthen their position against the incoming Haas F1 Team. Supply of Manor from Mercedes Benz will take current production facilities to capacity effectively closing the door to possible additional team supply.
McLaren-Honda is happy to confirm that Jenson Button will race for the team in 2016.
Ron Dennis (Chairman & Chief Executive Officer) said:
“Jenson and I have been discussing his plans in private for the past few weeks, and the fact that our talks have led to today’s announcement is very pleasing to both of us and will delight and motivate all at McLaren-Honda.
“As I have made clear whenever I have been asked about the subject, Jenson’s current contract is of two years’ duration [2015 and 2016]. There is a ‘terminate after year one’ option that McLaren could have triggered if we had wished to do so, but, once it became clear from my many conversations with Jenson that he remained as enthusiastic and as committed and as focused as ever, that option immediately became an irrelevance. That being the case, Jenson will race for McLaren-Honda next year, under the terms and conditions as set out in the two-year contract that both parties entered into a year ago.
“As I say, I am extremely pleased. Jenson is the most experienced driver currently racing in Formula 1, and next season he is due to become only the third driver [after Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher] in Formula 1 history to pass the milestone of 300 Grands Prix. But, although that wealth of experience makes him a massively valuable asset to our team, hugely expert in all aspects of the 21st-century Formula 1 driver’s craft, he is also supremely fit and as super-fast as ever.”
Jenson Button said:
“Over the past month or so I have done quite a lot of thinking, and it is no secret that I was at one point in two minds about my future.
“But I have been a McLaren driver for six seasons now [2010-2015], and in that time I have got to know Ron very well. He and I have had some very good chats these past few weeks, and during those chats it has become clear to me that Ron is both utterly determined and uniquely equipped to lead our team through its current difficulties to great successes in the future. That gives me great confidence, and it is for that reason that, together, he and I have decided to continue our partnership; and, as soon as I had made that decision, straight away I realised it was the correct one.
“Okay, granted, this year has not been an easy one for us, but we know what we need to do to improve things and, in collaboration with Honda, we will work extremely hard over the next weeks and months in order to make sure that 2016 will be a much better season than 2015 has been.
“I can’t wait!”
Opinion – After what appeared to be increasingly public contact continuation talks it is great to see Jenson Button continuing with Mclaren into 2016. Jenson is a huge asset to Mclaren, his amiable character is appealing to sponsors and media alike, an attribute a team like Mclaren truly values in their drivers. It will be interesting to see if the team feel is necessary to make a similar reconfirmation of contact announcement for Fernando Alonso in the coming days. In this challenging period for the team driver and management stability will be key.
The World MotorSport Council (WMSC) confirmed Michelin as the single tyre supplier for the FIA Formula E Championship. The contracts will cover Seasons 3 (2016-2017), 4 (2017-2018) and 5 (2018-2019), subject to the finalisation of the corresponding agreements.
Opinion: A contract extension that was never really in doubt. Michelin’s supply to Formula E demonstrates long lasting tyres don’t negatively impact racing. Quite the opposite in fact. Other racing categories would do well to pay attention. Also interesting that the FIA announce tyre supply for this series and yet don’t appear to be the decision makers in other categories.
FIA Formula 2 Championship
Significant progress has been made in negotiations with the promoter of GP2 regarding the establishment of the final step in the FIA’s single-seater ladder; the FIA Formula 2 Championship.
Discussions remain ongoing with the intention of finalising an agreement.
Opinion: In amongst the F1 2016 calendar confirmation the FIA have publicly commented for the first time on progress around the progress of GP2 morphing into F2. GP2 organisers have commented on the prospect but in recent months talks appeared to have stalled. It’s fantastic to see logic being applied to the development of the FIA single seater ladder. It will be interesting to see the timing around the transition and the FIA drivers license points requirements to enter the series.
McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team announces an exciting new partnership with Chandon, signed today.
As one of the most successful teams in Formula 1 history, McLaren meets Chandon, the vibrant sparkling wine with a boundless conquering spirit. The partnership perfectly highlights Chandon’s open spirit, ‘joie de vivre’ and spontaneous approach to life.
The partnership is a long-term, global collaboration that will bring Chandon’s sparkling attitude to the famous McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team.
The partnership was made official today at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, Surrey, England. It was signed by Christophe Navarre, Chairman and CEO of Moët Hennessy, and Ron Dennis, McLaren Technology Group Chairman and CEO.
For more information on the announcement please click here.
To visit the Chandon website please click here.
Opinion – Fantastic to see Mclaren bringing another new partner to the world of Formula One. In what has been a challenging year for the team, this announcement hopefully marks an upturn in fortunes. Jenson Button was present at the sponsor presentation with significant Chandon branding across the chest of his overalls, this along with the sizable on car branding suggest the team is of significant value to the team. The press release suggests the branding will commence from 2016 onwards although it may appear as early as the Russian Grand Prix.
The announcement of this agreement serves to cement the credibility of the Mclaren brand demonstrating commercial partners are taking a long term view on the success of the team. Chandon joining the team should encourage other partners to do the same.
Over the last 24-hours, you may have noticed McLaren-Honda’s social channels sharing some rather unusual posts…
Introducing the #TurboHeroes campaign.
Join the mighty Turbo Heroes, McLaren-Honda’s Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, as they battle the evil racer Exhaustus. Follow the thrilling journey across the globe in a tense battle to return mythical artefact – the Jade Dragon of Suzuka – to its spiritual home in Japan.
Turbo Heroes evokes the classic 8-bit gaming era of the 1980s with a series of innovative and unique gaming scenarios involving McLaren-Honda’s two racing heroes.
Opinion – Keen to move on from what must be one of the most challenging racing weekends in the history of the team, Mclaren have started the week well with the announcement of new sponsorship agreement with Chandon this morning, alongside kicking off this #TurboHeros campaign. This, hopefully first of many, films plays on the 80’s style games console memories, similar to the short film the team released prior to the car launch at the beginning of the year. The team successfully bring some much needed humour back to the sport in general and for themselves. These kind of Japanese themed campaigns will hopefully put to bed the continued rumours of unrest between Mclaren and Honda. They may also hint towards future additional Japanese partners….
The 10 Formula E teams will be limited to just two driver changes per car during season two.
Last season 30 drivers took part in the all-electric racing series, with some teams changing drivers multiple times. This season they will be limited to just two changes, and no changes will be permitted during the final three races of the season to avoid any potential conflict in the fight for the championship.
In the event of force majeure and the driver is unavailable for an unforeseen reason, a change of driver will be permitted at the discretion of the Stewards.
All drivers must also comply with the new e-Licence system, which is a mandatory requirement to participate in an FIA Formula E Championship event. As well as taking part in a specific FIA training session to cover the most important points of electrical safety, technical and sporting aspects of the series, drivers must have accumulated 20 points in the previous three seasons under the FIA points system used to qualify for an F1 Super Licence.
A driver judged by the FIA to have consistently demonstrated outstanding ability in single-seater formula cars, but with no opportunity to qualify under any of the requirements above, can still obtain an e-Licence.
Any driver change now has to be announced two weeks prior to the event.
Opinion – Limiting in season driver changes moves to further stabilise and bring credibility to Formula E. Regulations around driver changes are now aligned with that of Formula One. It should not go unnoticed that Formula E have also outlined regulations around new drivers having to accumulate points 20 over the past 3 seasons under the FIA driving experience points system. Presumably this rule will be applied only to drivers new to the series as many existing drivers would not qualify. For example, neither Amlin Andretti driver have accumulated sufficient points under the system to participate. Outside of super license holders Sam Bird is one of the few drivers in the series who would qualify to participate under these rules.
Formula E continue to lead the way in Social Media engagement with the announcement of a partnership with Little Dot Studios, a next generation broadcaster and producer, creating and distributing video content across YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Periscope.
Founded by Andy Taylor and Selma Turajlic just over two years ago, Little Dot Studios has grown rapidly and now distributes video content on social platforms for over 60 producers, broadcasters and rights-holders worldwide. In August alone, Little Dot Studios amassed over 350 million views to its client’s content. Under the partnership, Little Dot Studios will distribute social videos including clips, highlights and compilations from each race, as well as unseen footage from the pitlane and behind the scenes. Little Dot Studios will also be on site at each race, producing original video content for each of the social platforms.
Opinion – In the spirit of continuous improvement Formula E continue exploit social media as a tool to bring the series to the public. It is impressive to see Formula E can make these forms of agreements alongside TV broadcasting deals with the likes of Eurosport, ITV, & Rai, a feet Formula One either have not attempted or have not been able to manage. In a period of growth and with a strategy of increasing brand awareness Formula E continue to make all the right noises. The challenge will come in attempting to monetize the sport in the future.
Renault have this morning confirmed signature on a letter of intent regarding the potential acquisition of the Lotus F1 team. At this time there has been no formal public response from the Lotus F1 Team of Gravity Motorsport, but it is likely this notification will lead to the sale of the team which should serve to resolve the immediate cash flow issues faced by the team.
In the short press release from Group Renault, a keen emphasis is placed on the long association Renault have with Formula One, it can be expected this history will place a significant role in the rebranding of the Enstone based team.
The announcement makes no reference to the relationship between Red Bull Racing and Renault, with the latter formally under supply agreement for 2016. Further news on this should be expected in the coming days and weeks. No mention has been made around the Power Unit the team will use in 2016, logically it can be assumed the team will run the Renault unit, despite agreements in place with Mercedes Benz. Renault have elected to focus power unit developments on the 2016 program rather than introducing upgrades through the token system in 2015, no doubt significant strides will be made in 2016 regarding performance and reliability.
Sponsors and Driver Line up developments will be of particular interest, with Renault likely to transfer Infiniti and Total Agreements from Red Bull Racing to the Renault team.
Pastor Maldonardo has been announced as a 2016 driver for the Lotus F1 team, the Venezuelan brings substantial national backing to team in the form of PDVSA branding. It will be interesting to see if the team which will act under a new legal entity maintain this contracted commitment.
Romain Grosjean is expected to announce his departure from the team on tomorrow moving to the newly formed Haas F1 team. Possible replacements include Esteban Ocon & Jolyon Palmer. It should also be noted with the possible departure of Red Bull Racing from the sport Daniel Riccardo, Daniil Kvyat, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz may also be seeking a seat in 2016.