Calderon completes Arden F2 lineup

BWT Arden has announced that Tatiana Calderon will complete their lineup for the 2019 Formula 2 Championship.

Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team

Calderon, who has raced for Arden previously in the 2016 GP3 Championship, graduates to F2 on the back of a breakthrough year in 2018.

After joining Sauber as a development driver in 2017, Calderon developed into a regular points-scorer during last year’s GP3 campaign with Jenzer. Later in the year she drove Sauber’s C37 Formula 1 car during a filming day in Mexico, before completing a two-day test at Fiorano in the team’s 2013 C32.

She has also since taken part in two tests with the DS-Techeetah Formula E team, in Ad Diriyah and Marrakesh, as well as the post-season F2 test in Abu Dhabi at the end of last year.

Speaking about her maiden F2 season, Calderon said: “I’m very excited to compete in the FIA F2 Championship with BWT Arden. It’s a new challenge in my career and a step closer to my ultimate goal to reach Formula 1.”

Arden team principal Garry Horner said he is “delighted to welcome Tatiana back into the Arden fold” after her “very impressive” results in her F2 and Formula E test outings.

Calderon will partner 2018 GP3 champion Anthoine Hubert, as BWT Arden enters a new technical partnership with HWA Racelab for 2019.

FIA Formula E

Brundle: F1 needs “massive step” to improve show

Martin Brundle has said that Formula One needs to make a much bigger step than is planned in 2019 to improve the racing show.

Wolfgang Wilhelm/Mercedes-AMG

Speaking about the 2019 season’s new aerodynamic regulations, the F1 veteran said he is unsure whether the changes will produce any real improvement in the number of on-track overtakes.

“A more simple front wing makes sense to me, [but] I think it needs a much bigger step. A massive step, actually. I can’t really see why we’ve done an interim 2019 because the cost is massive in terms of a brand new car for everybody.

“The big teams tell me they were going to do a new car anyway, but the small teams don’t. They have a lot of continuity of certain things like the chassis.

“It all looks like a lot of money spent, so if they’re not side-by-side and nose-to-tail more often, then it’s money wasted.”

Charles Coates, Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

 Brundle added that as well as its aerodynamic regulations, F1 needs to address the size of its grid to deliver a better show in the future:

“Back in the day, a Carlin, a DAMS, or an ART would have migrated into Formula One like Eddie Jordan did, for example, or Paul Stewart Racing with the Stewart team. Now we’ve got 20 [cars], and that’s more likely to become 18 than 22 from what I’ve seen at the moment. I see that as quite a peril.

“Ross Brawn used an expression, ‘We pulled up the drawbridge’. He’s absolutely right. We’re on a little Formula One island spending a lot of money to run 20 cars, and the drawbridge is up and I don’t see anybody waiting on the other side to come on. That’s a huge issue they need to address for the 2021 regulations.”

Coulthard: McLaren needs to find “right people” to bounce back

David Coulthard has said that McLaren needs to focus on getting the “right people” together if it is to return to winning in Formula One.

Zak Mauger/McLaren

Speaking about McLaren’s current form, Coulthard said: “Success doesn’t come from a name above the door, otherwise McLaren would still be winning Grands Prix. It’s about the people within, the culture and the investment within the company. That creates that winning culture.”

His comments followed McLaren announcing on Thursday that Andreas Seidl, the former Porsche WEC boss, will join the team during 2019 as their managing director. Seidl’s appointment marks the latest in a series of high-profile changes at McLaren, including the signing of Toro Rosso technical director James Key.

Coulthard also stressed that McLaren’s performance can’t be solved by simply increasing the team’s budget:

“Money isn’t always the answer to success. If you look at Toyota, what they invested in F1 and they didn’t actually win a Grand Prix.

“It’s about having the right amount of money and the right amount of people. The car doesn’t design itself, the car doesn’t drive itself.”

Zak Mauger/McLaren

Fellow F1 veteran Martin Brundle has echoed Coulthard’s belief. Speaking at Autosport International, Brundle said: “Andreas Seidl is obviously a very successful man in the Porsche world and his CV speaks for itself. Quite clearly they see him fitting in alongside Zak [Brown] and Gil [de Ferran].

“It seems a sensible appointment to me that’s got structure and some kind of plan around it.

“It takes time to rebuild momentum. A team is made up of a number of ingredients and it takes time for it to all come together.”

FIA rejects Haas disqualification appeal.

Haas F1 has lost its appeal against Romain Grosjean’s disqualification from September’s Italian Grand Prix.

Haas F1 Media

Grosjean was excluded from the results of the Monza race, which he originally finished in sixth, following a protest by the rival Renault team over the legality of his VF-18’s floor.

Haas had developed its floor earlier in the year for introduction following the summer break, but a technical clarification from the FIA made just before the summer break—demanding a 50mm radius at each front corner of the reference plane—made the floor design illegal.

With the summer shutdown leaving no time to modify the design, Haas initially applied to the FIA for dispensation to run the new floor until Singapore. However, the FIA offered no official ruling on the matter and made it clear to Haas that their car would be open to protest in Monza if it ran the illegal floor.

This open discussion for leeway formed the basis of Haas’ appeal against Grosjean’s exclusion, but on Thursday the FIA appeals court in Paris decided to uphold the Monza stewards’ decision.

Haas F1 Media

Haas team principal Gunther Steiner said the team was “obviously disappointed” to lose its appeal.

He added: “We [will] simply move forward and look to the final two races of the year to continue to fight on-track, earn more points, and conclude our strongest season to date.”

Renault’s technical director Nick Chester said: “We are satisfied with the decision and I would like to thank the court and the FIA for their work on this matter. Technical regulations—especially those introduced for safety reasons—must be observed strictly.”

Ericsson considering IndyCar, Super Formula for 2019

Marcus Ericsson has said he is targeting a move to either IndyCar or Super Formula for 2019 following the loss of his Sauber Formula One race seat.

Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team

Ericsson will remain with Sauber next year as reserve driver and brand ambassador, but has said he is also looking to continue racing with a full-time drive in another single-seater category.

“I want to race at the highest level possible [next year] because I see myself coming back to Formula One in the future,” Ericsson said.

“To be able to come back to F1, I want to stay in single-seaters and fast cars. IndyCar is the best series to do that in.

“We’re talking to some teams there and I think it is a realistic target.”

Most of IndyCar’s 2019 drives have already been settled, although seats are still available at Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports, Carlin and Juncos Racing.

Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team

Ericsson has also admitted Japan’s Super Formula is “also an option”, and that he would be interested in contesting the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

But despite insisting on a single-seater programme for 2019 to keep him prepared for an F1 return, Ericsson said that Formula E is not high on his preferences:

“It is interesting in many aspects but to stay in F1-type of driving it’s maybe not the best one.

“FE is more of a career move. There are some other options that you can keep on the F1 radar [to] come back.”

Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team

Where will F1’s juniors be in 2019?

The 2018 driver market has been both kind and cruel to F1’s young drivers. On the one hand, Charles Leclerc, Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris have all secured dream promotions to Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren respectively.

But on the other hand, Esteban Ocon and Stoffel Vandoorne have both found their F1 careers on the rocks thanks to silly season developments, while rising stars like George Russell struggle to find any space on the grid.

As the final 2019 deals begin to fall into place, we look at which young drivers might yet find seats for Melbourne next year.

Antonio Giovinazzi

Ferrari Media

Despite becoming Italy’s first F1 driver in six years when he deputised for Pascal Wehrlein at Sauber last year, Antonio Giovinazzi has been unable to add to his two starts since being leapfrogged in Ferrari’s junior scheme by Charles Leclerc.

But with Leclerc moving from Sauber to Ferrari, Giovinazzi might finally get his shot at a full-time race seat. If Ferrari’s right to nominate one of Sauber’s drivers is to be believed, then Giovinazzi could be just an executive decision at Maranello away from joining the Swiss team’s lineup for next year.

Stoffel Vandoorne

Glenn Dunbar / McLaren Media

If Ferrari does insist on Sauber taking Giovinazzi, that will put pay to one of Stoffel Vandoorne’s best post-McLaren options.

Should Sauber be off the table, Vandoorne’s only real hope for 2019 is Toro Rosso. Honda is reportedly keen to bring Vandoorne into Toro Rosso having valued his feedback during their partnership with McLaren.

But even with Honda behind him, Vandoorne will have his work cut out convincing Helmut Marko that he has more potential than was shown in his two years with McLaren.

Pascal Wehrlein

Sauber F1 Team

Another potential obstacle in Vandoorne’s route to Toro Rosso is Pascal Wehrlein. The former Manor and Sauber driver is leaving the Mercedes family at the end of the year in a bid to open up more opportunities on the F1 grid, and is said to have a big fan in Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost.

It’s not the first time Wehrlein has been linked with Toro Rosso—he was touted as a potential mid-season replacement for Brendon Hartley earlier in the year. Those rumours may have come to nothing, but Wehrlein’s sudden appearance as a free agent in the driver market will surely give Red Bull and Toro Rosso something to consider.

Esteban Ocon

Racing Point Force India F1 Team

The details of Esteban Ocon’s plight to remain in F1 next year hardly need repeating by now. Currently his best chance of a 2019 race seat involves either Mercedes pressing customer team Williams to pick him over a more well-funded alternative, or breaking free from the Mercedes camp as Wehrlein has done and hoping that leads to a shot with Haas or Toro Rosso.

If neither avenue comes to fruition, then we’ll likely see Ocon take up a third driver role with the works Mercedes team—possibly dovetailing that with outings for the marque’s HWA-run Formula E team—before aiming to replace Valtteri Bottas in 2020.

Outside F1

Renault Sport F1 Team

If current drivers like Ocon and Vandoorne are struggling to stay in F1 next year, it’s doubtful anyone from the junior formulae will find space on the 2019 grid.

As the Formula 2 championship leader, Mercedes junior George Russell should be the best placed young driver to make the step up to F1. However, his position behind Ocon in the Mercedes hierarchy means that it’s unlikely he’ll be allowed to overtake the Frenchman and take an F1 drive at his expense.

On the other hand, F2 stalwart Artem Markelov may yet get his F1 break after five years in the feeder series. His Russian Time backing has seen him linked to Williams in recent weeks, and an FP1 run with Renault in Sochi will be the perfect chance to make his case when it counts.

Formula 3 title leader Dan Ticktum was being queued up to join Toro Rosso for next year, until the FIA pointed out that he was ineligible for a Super License. Ticktum will likely move to F2 for next year to complete his Super License, before stepping up to Toro Rosso in 2020.

David Pastanella / Red Bull Content Pool

Wehrlein to leave Mercedes after 2018

Mercedes-Benz has announced that it will part ways with Pascal Wehrlein at the end of the 2018 season.

The decision, which has been described by both parties as mutual, brings to an end a six-year partnership that included a record-breaking run in the DTM and Wehrlein’s Formula One debut with the Mercedes-engined Manor team.

Mercedes AMG

Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff said: “Our junior programme has always been about supporting young talent and finding opportunities that are in the best interests of the drivers’ careers.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t offer Pascal a competitive drive for next year. In his best interests, we have therefore decided together with Pascal not to extend our agreement and to give him the best chance of securing an opportunity elsewhere that his talent merits.”

Wehrlein added: “I am very grateful for all the support Mercedes has offered me. Now it’s time to take the next step. I am looking for new challenges and opportunities and am currently talking to other teams about a cockpit for next season.”

Foto Studio Colombo / Pirelli Media

Wehrlein’s break came in 2014 when he became the DTM’s youngest ever race winner and was appointed third driver for the Mercedes F1 team. The following year he became the youngest ever DTM champion.

Wehrlein made his F1 debut in 2016 with Manor and scored his first championship point in Austria. The following year he moved to Sauber and took a further two points finishes, in Spain and Azerbaijan, but lost his seat for this year to Charles Leclerc following Sauber’s renewed Ferrari partnership.

Toto Wolff has been quoted recently as saying that Mercedes would be prepared to let its junior drivers go if doing so would help their careers, following his struggle to find Wehrlein’s former stablemate Esteban Ocon an F1 seat next year.

Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team

Red Bull confirm Gasly for 2019

Red Bull has confirmed that Pierre Gasly will join the team for 2019, stepping up from Toro Rosso to replace the outgoing Daniel Ricciardo.

Gasly will join the senior Red Bull team for his second full season in Formula One, having made a late season debut with Toro Rosso at the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix. Since then Gasly has recorded three top ten finishes, with his best being fourth place at this year’s Bahrain Grand Prix, and contributed all but two of Toro Rosso’s 28 points.

It’s believed that these performances (as well as his experience of Honda power at Toro Rosso and in his 2017 Super Formula campaign) made Gasly the favourite to take Ricciardo’s vacant seat even before fellow Red Bull junior Carlos Sainz removed himself from the market by signing with McLaren.

Mark Thompson, Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

“To be awarded a drive at Aston Martin Red Bull Racing from 2019 is a dream come true for me,” Gasly said. “It has been my goal to race for this team since I joined the Red Bull Junior Driver Programme in 2013, and this incredible opportunity is another step forward in my ambition to win Grands Prix and compete for World Championships.

“I wish to thank Franz Tost and everyone at Toro Rosso for giving me the golden opportunity of a drive in Formula One. My focus now is to do everything I can to give them a season to celebrate.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: “Since Pierre stepped into a Formula One seat he has proved the undoubted talent that Red Bull has nurtured since his early career. His stellar performances this year, in only his first full season in Formula One, have only enhanced his reputation as one of the most exciting young drivers in motorsport.”

Mark Thompson, Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Norris to make McLaren FP1 debut in Belgium

McLaren reserve driver Lando Norris will make his F1 race weekend debut at the Belgian Grand Prix, taking over Fernando Alonso’s car for Friday practice.

The running will mark Norris’ third time driving McLaren’s MCL33, following appearances at the in-season tests in Barcelona and Hungary, and could be followed by another FP1 drive next weekend at Monza.

McLaren sporting director Gil de Ferran called the Friday practice role “part of [Norris’] ongoing development”. He added that the team would “take a strategic view race-by-race” whether to give Norris any more outings in future Grands Prix.

Zak Mauger, LAT Images / FIA F2 Media

Coming after Alonso’s decision to leave F1 at the end of 2018, it’s understood that McLaren will use Norris’ Friday performances to judge whether he is ready for a promotion to F1 for next year in place of Stoffel Vandoorne.

Norris had been tipped to join McLaren in 2019 after storming to an early lead in this year’s Formula 2 championship. But a run of varying results in the mid-season triple header, which led to George Russell taking the title lead in Austria, have raised questions about whether next year is too soon for the 18-year-old to make his F1 debut.

Norris is currently 12 points behind Russell in the standings, and has one win to Russell’s four.

Joe Portlock / McLaren

Renault to trial 2019 aero at Spa

Renault director Cyril Abiteboul has said that the team will begin trialling concepts for its 2019 car at Spa this weekend, as focus at Enstone turns towards the new wing regulations coming for next year.

“Most of our resources are now focused in preparing for 2019,” Abiteboul said. “We are pushing on with aero developments, and will bring some concepts at upcoming races onto the R.S.18 that are ultimately destined for next year’s car.

“We have been offensive and decisive in the driver market [in signing Daniel Ricciardo] and now we have to do the same on both chassis and engine development.”

Renault Sport F1 Team

Abiteboul also said that, despite looking ahead to 2019, Renault will still “keep bringing developments to this year’s car to find gains wherever possible”.

Technical director Nick Chester said that maintaining their development pace will be key in making sure Renault stays ahead of Haas and Force India in the fight for fourth in the Constructors’ Championship:

“We’re in a super tight battle in the midfield. We’re being pushed hard and we have quite a lot of work to do.

“The objective is to find raw car pace. We have to put more performance on the car to have a good fight until the end of the year. We have a new floor for Spa and some other bodywork parts to go with that, which should be helpful.”

Renault Sport F1 Team