Wednesday, 31 December 2014

What can we expect from Formula One in 2015?

(Williams Martini Racing Team)

The start of the 2015 Formula One season is just two and a half months away and with that in mind it is time to have a look at what we can expect this season.

This season all but four teams have new drivers. The big move of 2015 is Sebastian Vettel’s move from Infiniti Red Bull Racing to Scuderia Ferrari replacing Fernando Alonso as Kimi Raikkonen’s team mate following six seasons with the Milton Keynes based outfit. The German had a difficult season last year and will be hoping for a stronger year this season.

It is going to be extremely interesting to see how Sebastian Vettel gets in with the new team, he has already got to grips with the feel of a Ferrari F1 car having driven an old car at their test track in Fiorano late last year.

Kimi Raikkonen will be hoping to but his miserable 2014 season behind him, having scored just 55 points last season and failed to score a podium in his first season back at the Maranello based outfit.

The Finn has already stated that from what he has seen with the designs for this season’s car he is very encouraged. The team have made a multitude of changes for this season and they will hoping that this will help them to move back up the order this year.

At McLaren Honda it is also going to be extremely interesting to see how Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button get on this year with the new Honda partnership. The pair have been team mates before during their time at Benetton when Button was a race driver and Alonso was a test driver for the team in 2001.

It is also going to be extremely interesting to see which teams will be in a position to challenge the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team as they were the dominant force last year with the Williams Martini Racing Team emerging as their chief rivals at the end of the season where Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa finished the final race in Abu Dhabi in 2nd and 3rd place respectively behind race winner and world champion Lewis Hamilton.

Massa ended the race just 2.5 seconds behind Hamilton. This means that the Williams Martini Racing Team should be a major force to be reckoned with this year if they can keep the development race up ahead of the start of winter testing which gets underway in exactly one month.

Williams Martini Racing recovered from a dreadful season in 2013 where they finished in ninth place to finish the 2014 season in third place in the Constructors championship.

The Lotus F1 Team could potentially be contenders for regular podium finishes in 2015 with the arrival of a supply of Mercedes Benz power units.

It is an extremely long season which runs right up until the end of November. One this is for certain and that is Formula One in 2015 is going to be absolutely sensational and a season that should not be missed.

We will find out at the start of next month who potentially has the most competitive package for the start of the season in Australia. One thing is certain though that if the final race of 2014 is anything to go by Mercedes are going to have their mirrors full once again with the sight of both Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa in the FW38. 

© Ben Johnston 2015

Special Feature - Formula One team mates

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

Formula One as we all know is an extremely competitive sport, however when it comes to who is a drivers closet rival is all they have to do is look across to the opposite side of their garage to their team mate, after all they are in equal equipment. 

When we look at the 2014 Formula One season the inter team rivalry between the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg was one of the most exciting spectacles in recent Formula One history.

In 2014, the rivalry that hit the headlines was Hamilton and Rosberg, in 2013, it was the Infiniti Red Bull Racing pair of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber following the infamous Multi 21 incident at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Speaking to Sky Sports F1 HD as a guest on a special show about team mates, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner stated that the situation was extremely tense between the pair.

Horner stated that the situation was became so bad between the pair that when race debriefs were taking place one driver would take over his headphones as he would not want to listen to what the other driver was saying.

Despite the aggravation between the pair, Horner believes that in years to come, Vettel and Webber will in the end become friends.

In 2007, the rivalry between then rookie driver Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso who were team mates at McLaren was so intense and fierce that it caused major problems within the team. The season ended with the pair equal on points in the championship. Alonso returned to Renault in 2008 however the Spaniard returns to McLaren for 2015.

When discussing Alonso’s return to Woking for 2015, McLaren Group Chairman and CEO Ron Dennis stated that the problems at the team were not all down to Alonso but that Hamilton had to take some responsibility for what happened between the pair as he was very immature at the time he entered Formula One.

In 2014, comparisons were made between the rivalry between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost when they were team mates at McLaren and the rivalry between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes.

Scuderia Ferrari have signed quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel to join Kimi Raikkonen for this season and new Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene has stated that he doesn’t want the pair who are very good friends off the track to be too friendly towards each other on the track as they will be chief rivals as they will have equal machinery.

Formula One is a team sport and although drivers have to be selfish sometimes the team ALWAYS has to come first and no driver is bigger than the team.

This was not evident in 2013, when Sebastian Vettel spoke in front of the media ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix and famously stated:

‘I was faster, I passed him, I won.’

This coming season it is going to be extremely interesting to see the dynamic between the new driver line-ups throughout the pit-lane with all but Lotus, Mercedes, Force India and Williams retaining unchanged line-ups for this season.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Grosjean feels the 2014 season was the toughest of his Formula One career

(Alastair Staley for the Lotus F1 Team)

Lotus F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean has stated that physiologically the 2014 Formula One season was far tougher than his difficult season in 2012 when his made his Formula One return with the Enstone outfit.

The Frenchman scored the bulk of the Lotus F1 Team’s points in 2014, having finished in eighth place in both the Spanish and the Monaco Grand Prix. In 2013, Grosjean secured six podium finishes and ended the 2013 season in 7th place in the championship on 132 points compared to finishing the 2014 season in 14th place on eight points.

In 2012, Grosjean was banned for one race after causing a massive crash at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix as his Lotus E20 launched over the top of Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari, narrowly missing the Spaniard’s head.
(Alastair Staley for the Lotus F1 Team)

Grosjean is hopeful that with the Lotus F1 Team making the switch to Mercedes power in 2015 that they will be back on the podium.

The Lotus F1 Team hope to take inspiration from the Williams Martini Racing Team who finished the 2013 season in ninth place, while this season they finished in third place in the championship after making the switch from Renault to Mercedes power which is exactly what Lotus will do in 2015.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Ricciardo preparing himself for a challenging 2015 F1 season following a fantastic first year with Infiniti Red Bull Racing

(Eric Vargiolu DPPI for Renault Sport F1)

Infiniti Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo has stated that is fully prepared for a dip in form in 2015, following a sensational first Formula One season as a Red Bull Racing driver which saw the Australian score three victories and finish in third place in the championship behind the Mercedes pair of world champion Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

Ricciardo believes that it is inevitable that he will suffer a dip in form as he has experienced a wave of success in 2014, and knows that it is important that it important to control your emotions when times get tough and that the secret is not to get frustrated.

The Australian stated that it is important not to ‘doubt your own ability.’ Ricciardo will have a new team mate in 2015 as Daniil Kvyat has replaced Sebastian Vettel at the Milton Keynes based outfit having impressed the Red Bull management during his debut season in Formula One with the Scuderia Toro Rosso team.

Ricciardo scored his first podium finish in Formula One at the Spanish Grand Prix in May and went to win the Canadian, Hungarian and Belgian Grand Prix and finished the season 71 points ahead of Sebastian Vettel.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Lotus F1 Team time lapse from the season finale in Abu Dhabi

(Lotus F1 Team via

The following video shows the Lotus F1 Team's pit-lane activity during Saturday of the 2014 Formula One season finale in Abu Dhabi.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Marciello signs for the Sauber F1 Team as 2015 test and reserve driver

(Sauber F1 Team)

The Sauber F1 Team have confirmed that they have signed Raffaele Marciello as their official 2015 test and reserve driver.

Marciello joins the Hinwil based outfit from the Ferrari Driver Academy where the Italian has already had a taste of what it’s like to drive a Formula One car when he made his debut with the team at the season ending Abu Dhabi test session where he drove in place of the injured Jules Bianchi.

Marciello is the latest new signing for the Swiss team after they confirmed an all new driver line up for the 2015 Formula One season.

Marcus Ericsson joins the team after making his Formula One race debut with the Caterham F1 Team in 2014, while Felipe Nasr will make his Formula One race debut with the team in Australia in March having spent time as Williams Martini Racing Team’s test and reserve driver.

While Adrian Sutil is now actively seeking a drive in the World Endurance Championship for 2015 before eyeing a potential Formula One return in 2016 with the Haas F1 Team, Esteban Gutierrez has joined the Scuderia Ferrari stable where Marciello came from.

It is not the first time that the Sauber F1 Team have taken a driver from the Ferrari Driver Academy as Felipe Massa made his Formula One debut with the team in 2004 and more recently, Sergio Perez joined the Sauber F1 Team from the Ferrari Academy in 2011.

Speaking about Marciello’s appointment, Sauber F1 Team Principal Monisha Keltenborn stated:

We are pleased to announce Raffaele Marciello as our test and reserve driver for the 2015 season. He proved his great talent in junior formulas, and his season in the European Formula 3 Championship with 13 wins and the title victory was particularly impressive. We will give Raffaele the opportunity to become familiar with Formula One, which also includes him taking part in some free practice sessions on Friday. It’s great for our team to be part of his way to Formula One.

Marciello commented by saying:

I am really pleased to become a member of the Sauber F1 Team,which has a long tradition of building up excellent drivers.  I really think that this is the best choice for my future career. I am also happy to compete for one more season in the GP2 Series, which, together with my new F1 role, will give me a very busy 2015 season. I want to thank the Ferrari Driver Academy for giving me this important opportunity, and now I really can’t wait to start delivering my best.'

© Ben Johnston 2014

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Raikkonen/Vettel partnership will be interesting

Sebastian Vettel

Former Formula One driver Alex Zanardi believes that Scuderia Ferrari’s new partnership of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel will be interesting.

Zanardi drove in Formula One from 1994-99 before moving to the American CART series. The Italian lost both his legs in a crash in 2001. Despite his injuries, they didn’t stop him from winning a gold medal at the 2012 Paralympic Games.

The Italian believes that Sebastian Vettel is a great driver but interestingly does not feel that the German is at the same level as Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso despite the fact that he has won four world champion titles dominating Formula One from 2010-2013.

Zanardi believes that it will be very interesting to see Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel’s performances in 2015 compared to how they both drove alongside their respective team mates in 2014.

Raikkonen and Vettel get on well away from the race track and new Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene hopes that the pair are not too friendly towards each other next season as their number one competitor will be each other.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Vettel arrival a boost for Ferrari

Sebastian the Fifth  - Vettel, the German number 5 in Maranello

Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo has stated that he believes that former team mate Sebastian Vettel will be a boost to Ferrari.

The four time world champion joins Kimi Raikkonen at the Maranello based outfit from the 2015 season onwards and Ricciardo who drove alongside the German knows that Vettel will be fair and possibly a little ruthless in his approach next season.

The Australian comprehensively outperformed Vettel during their year together at the Milton Keynes based outfit and finished ahead of him in the championship.
Ricciardo stated that Vettel doesn’t rest and that he knows how to get the best out of the people he works with and that he can get the team working closely with him. 

Ricciardo believes however that at the first test which gets underway on February 1, it will be strange for Vettel but by the time the first race comes around in Melbourne he will find it normal racing for Ferrari.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Statement from Jules Bianchi's family

Jules Bianchi’s family have released the following statement, regarding the French driver’s condition:
The parents of Jules Bianchi, Philippe and Christine, would like to provide the following update regarding Jules’ medical situation:
“As we reach the conclusion of a difficult year for our family, we wanted to take this opportunity to provide a further update regarding Jules’ medical situation, per our pledge to communicate continued information, when appropriate, to his many fans.
“It was a significant and very comforting step for us to be able to bring Jules home to France last month, to continue his rehabilitation surrounded by his family and friends. This is very important for Jules and also for us.
“Since that time, Jules has received the very best treatment in the Intensive Care Unit of Le Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Nice (CHU) and now at the CHU’s rehabilitation centre for this kind of trauma.
“Jules’ neurological status remains unchanged; he is unconscious but able to breathe unaided. Whilst there is no significant information to report, we take a great deal of comfort from the fact that Jules continues to fight, as we knew he would, and this has enabled the medical professionals caring for him to commence the planned, but very painstaking, programme of rehabilitation therapy.
“As we reflect on the events of the past few months, we would like to acknowledge once again the overwhelming warmth and affection shown towards our son. These continue to be challenging times for our family, but the knowledge that he has touched the lives of so many people all around the world has helped us through.
“We would also like to acknowledge the respect and support shown by the media towards our family during this time, for which we are extremely grateful.
“We will continue to provide information when it is possible to do so and our sincere appreciation to everyone who continues to pray for Jules.”

© Ben Johnston 2014

Battle with Force India pushed McLaren into action

(Sahara Force India Formula One Team)

McLaren Honda Racing Eric Boullier believes his team’s battle with the Sahara Force India Formula One Team in 2014 was a real wake up call.

The Woking based outfit suffered a difficult 2014 campaign, which yielded just two podium finishes which came at the season opening Australian Grand Prix, when Kevin Magnussen finished the race in second place while Jenson Button finished the race in third place.

Boullier stated:

‘Being behind Force India was a concern and real wake up call for everybody.’

McLaren went on to finish the season in fifth place in the championship, 26 points ahead of Force India. Boullier believes that the team cannot complain about how they performed in 2014 as they had the best power unit on the grid with Mercedes.

Speaking about next year Boullier, who has overseen a multitude of changes at the team since his arrival from the Lotus F1 Team in January 2014 the Frenchman stated that he believes that the team looks ‘Ok’. McLaren go into next season with a new power unit as Honda return to Formula One as a power unit supplier for the first time since they supplied their own ‘works’ team in 2008.

The Woking based outfit also have a new driver with Fernando Alonso joining Jenson Button at the team.

The team have also seen Peter Pedromou return to the team following his departure from Infiniti Red Bull Racing where he was Chief Aerodymnacist. Pedromou has taken up the role of Chief Engineer at McLaren.

The team are hoping to hit the ground running with the new chassis, the MP4-30. 

© Ben Johnston 2014

Monday, 29 December 2014

Sutil interested in Haas F1 Team project

(Sauber F1 Team)

Former Sauber F1 Team driver Adrian Sutil has stated that the new Haas F1 Team who make their debut in 2016, is an interesting project.

The German will not compete in Formula One next season as the Sauber F1 Tam have signed Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. While Esteban Gutierrez has secured a test driver role with Scuderia Ferrari, 

Adrian Sutil has not secured a drive in Formula One as either a test driver or in a race seat.

The German has stated that he is looking into the possibility of racing in the World Endurance Championship in 2015.

The Haas F1 Team will have a supply of Ferrari power units starting from 2016 when they enter Formula One. Gene Haas bought the former Marussia F1 Team factory in Banbury, Oxfordshire just before Christmas so will have headquarters in both the UK and the United States.

Haas has not yet made any decision on who he would like to see driving for the team in 2016 but Adrian Sutil could be an option as he has experience and this is what a new team like Haas will be looking for. The German also has experience with the Ferrari 1.6 Litre V6 Turbocharged power unit as it the engine that the Sauber F1 Team used during the 2014 Formula One season.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Kehm denies latest media reports regarding Michael Schumacher's condition

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

Michael Schumacher faces a ‘long hard fight’ according to his management Sabine Kehm. It is a year since the seven time Formula One world champion suffered serious injuries following a skiing accident while on holiday in the French ski resort of Meribel.

Ms Kehm confirmed:

‘He is making progress appropriate to the severity of the situation.’

Kehm went on to deny French media reports that Schumacher is beginning to recognize his family. This claim had been credited to ‘close family friend’ Philippe Streiff.

Kehm stated that Mr Streiff is in fact not a close family friend of Schumacher’s saying:

‘I can only confirm that I do not know where Mr. Streiff has his information from because he has no contact with us and he never has.’

© Ben Johnston 2014

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Mexican launch for the Sahara Force India F1 Team

(Sahara Force India Formula One Team)

The Sahara Force India Formula One Team have confirmed that their 2015 car, the VJM08 will be launched in Mexico in late January prior to start of winter testing in Jerez on February 1.

Meanwhile, Scuderia Ferrari have confirmed that their new car will be unveiled during an on-line presentation days prior to the start of the winter testing programme. 

The team have a new driver as four time world champion Sebastian Vettel joins Kimi Raikkonen, having replaced Fernando Alonso.

Ferrari and Force India are the only team’s so far to have confirmed their launch plans although no dates have been officially set. More outfits are expected to confirm their launch plans after the Christmas break.

It is expected that the majority of teams will reveal their 2015 cars on the opening day of testing on Sunday February 1.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Sutil eyeing LeMans 24 Hours drive in 2015

(Sauber F1 Team)

Former Sauber F1 Team driver Adrian Sutil has confirmed that he is eyeing a drive at next year’s LeMans 24 Hours race.

The German lost his Formula One drive at the end of 2014 Formula One season following an extremely difficult year for the team which saw them fail to score a single point. Sutil returned to Formula One in 2013 with the Sahara Force India Formula One Team having sat out the 2012 Formula One season.

The German has expressed an interest in following former Formula One drivers Mark Webber, Anthony Davidson, Giancarlo Fisichella, Sebastian Buemi and Neal Jani in competing at the famous race.

Sahara Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg will also compete at the 2015 race after being granted permission by the Silverstone based outfit to join Porsche for the race as well as a race that will form the build-up to the 24 Hours race.

It remains unclear as to whether or not Sutil has a drive lined up for the race yet or not.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Lotus F1 Team provisionally placed on the official 2015 F1 entry list

Kimi Raikkonen First Run
(Andrew Ferraro for the Lotus F1 Team)

The Lotus F1 Team have been provisionally placed on the 2015 Formula One entry list. The Enstone based outfit finished in eighth place in the Constructors championship having scored ten points. 

The news that they are only provisionally on the list comes despite the fact that the team have a new power unit supplier in Mercedes who replace long term partner Renault.

The outfit have retained both Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado for the 2015 Formula One season.

The team have also confirmed that they have managed to reduce their debts which a large majority of it was owed to former driver Kimi Raikkonen who left the team ahead of the 2014 season and re-joined Scuderia Ferrari.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Boullier urges the FIA to relax the engine regulations regarding development

Stoffel Vandoorne on day 2 of the 2014 Abu Dhabi test

McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier has called for the FIA to relax the engine regulations in relation to development to allow Mercedes rivals to catch up to the German manufacturer. The current regulations do not allow power unit development on the basis of performance but instead only related to reliability.

Eric Boullier believes that the engine regulations need to be unfrozen in order for the sport to have competition.

The Frenchman feels that if they disallow competition it goes against the spirit of the sport. In 2015, McLaren make the switch from Mercedes to Honda power. Boullier believes that something isn't done ahead of the start of the 2015 season then Mercedes will dominate Formula One for years to come.

Mercedes have stated that they do not want any changes made to the regulations governing the development of the power unit.

McLaren have stated that next season when they embark on their new partnership with Honda that they will concentrate on reliability and not performance but they are confident that Honda have given them a power unit that will allow them to be competitive from the opening race of the season in Melbourne, Australia.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Friday, 26 December 2014

Slight confusion over the exact number of Grand Prix on the 2015 F1 calendar

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

The Korean Grand Prix has been removed from the latest draft of the 2015 FIA Formula One calendar. The removal of the venue, which was due to make its return to the calendar following a year out in 2014.

The race was set to return in 2015, however this has now been taken off the calendar, despite this there remains a 21 race calendar for next season with the sport waiting on where the final venue will be. It is possible that New Delhi which lost its spot on the F1 calendar following the 2012 race could make a return.

It is also possible however that the South African Grand Prix could return for the first time since 1993. New Jersey could also be a possible destination for Formula One as the sport had been due to make its debut there in 2013 could be slotted onto the calendar if the financial situation with the race organisers can be sorted out.

The 2015 FIA Formula One calendar:    
15/03/2015 – Australia – Melbourne – Albert Park

29/03/2015 – Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur – Sepang

12/04/2015 – China – Shanghai – Shanghai International Circuit

19/04/2015 – Bahrain – Bahrain International Circuit – Sakhir

10/05/2015 – Spain – Barcelona – Barcelona Circuit Du Catalunya

24/05/2015 – Monaco – Monte Carlo

07/06/2015 – Canada – Montreal – Circuit Du Gilles Villeneuve

21/06/2015 – Austria – Speilberg – Red Bull Ring

05/07/2015 – Great Britain – Silverstone

19/07/2015 – Germany

26/07/2015 – Hungary – Budapest – Hungaroring

23/08/2015 – Belgium – Spa Francorchnamps

06/09/2015 – Italy – Monza

20/09/2015 – Sinpagore

27/09/2015 – Japan – Suzuka

11/10/2015 – Russia Sochi

25/10/2015 – USA – Austin Texas – Circuit Of The Americas

01/11/2015 – Mexico – Mexico City

15/11/2015 – Brazil – Sao Paolo

29/11/2015 – Abu Dhabi – Yas Marina Bay Circuit

© Ben Johnston 2014

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Manor and Caterham remain on latest 2015 Formula One entry list

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

The FIA have released a revised version of the 2015 Formula One entry list which features both the Caterham and Manor F1 Team’s,

Caterham and Marussia went into administration towards the end of the 2014 Formula One season and although the Caterham F1 Team made it to the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi, the Marussia F1 Team did not and was closed by the administrator FRP Advisory,

The team’s assets were then but up for auction with the new Haas F1 Team having purchased the former Marussia F1 Team HQ in Banbury, Oxfordshire.

The workforce at the team were made redundant with many former employees finding work with other teams. The Caterham F1 Team on the other hand are in talks with a number of potential buyers for the Leafield based outfit.
The 2015 Formula One entry list of Wednesday 24th December 2014

Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team

44 Lewis Hamilton
6 Nico Rosberg

Infiniti Red Bull Racing (Renault)

3 Daniel Ricciardo
26 Daniil Kvyat

Williams Martini Racing Team (Mercedes)

19 Felipe Massa
77 Valtteri Bottas

Scuderia Ferrari

5 Sebastian Vettel
7 Kimi Raikkonen

McLaren Honda

14 Fernando Alonso
22 Jenson Button

Sahara Force India Formula One Team (Mercedes)

11 Sergio Perez
27 Nico Hulkenberg

Scuderia Toro Rosso (Renault)

33 Max Verstappen
55 Carlos Sainz Jr

Lotus F1 Team (Mercedes)

8 Romain Grosjean
13 Pastor Maldonado

Sauber F1 Team (Ferrari)

9 Marcus Ericsson
12 Felipe Nasr

TBC Caterham F1 Team (Renault) The Caterham F1 Team have been given special dispensation to use their 2014 car if a buyer can be found.

TBC Marussia F1 Team

© Ben Johnston 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Paddock Eye

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

It has been an absolutely fantastic year for Formula One, both on and off the track, and with so many driver movements for 2015 it is shaping up to be another classic season in Formula One.

Paddock Eye would firstly like to thank everyone for your support of the past year and would like to wish everyone a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

The 2015 Formula One season opener in Melbourne, Australia is just eleven weeks away, and I for one cannot wait.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Haas secures UK base for Formula One team


New Formula One team owner Gene Haas has secured a Formula One facility for his new Haas F1 Team.

The American who will enter Formula One in 2016 has purchased the Marussia F1 Team’s former factory in Banbury, Oxfordshire having purchased it at auction this week following the closure of the Marussia team.

The news comes as Haas steps up his preparations for entry into the FIA Formula One world championship. Website Race Car Engineering report that Gene Haas has also acquired data and designs for the 2015 Marussia F1 car. The Marussia F1 Team who went into administration earlier this year were like Haas powered by Ferrari power units.

Haas stated recently that he hoped to purchase as a much technology and parts needed to be competitive in Formula One.

The Haas F1 Team have already completed construction of their purpose built Formula One facility in Charlotte, North Carolina which is located beside the Gene Haas’ NASCAR operation Stewart Haas Racing.

There has been no news relating to who will drive for the team in 2016 as Haas revealed that it is far too earlier to be thinking about that at the moment and that he wants to lay the foundations for the team first.

By securing his UK facility, Haas will be sort out what to have based in both sites. Haas will also have access to his own wind-tunnel which is located in the North Carolina.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Buemi retained by Infiniti Red Bull Racing for 2015

(Florent Gooden DPPI for Renault Sport F1)

Infiniti Red Bull Racing have confirmed that World Endurance Champion Sebastian Buemi has been retained as the team’s reserve driver for the 2015 Formula One season.

Buemi’s first stint with Infiniti Red Bull Racing was in 2008 when he became their reserve driver before moving to Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2009. Buemi spent three seasons with the Italian team before resuming his role with the Milton Keynes based outfit in 2012.

Speaking about Buemi, Infiniti Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner stated:

We are delighted that Sébastien will once again act as our Reserve Driver. He’s been closely associated with the team for some years now, we value his skills very highly and we have a great working relationship with him. His experience has proved invaluable over the years and it is great to have another world champion at the team.

Buemi commented on the news stating:

I’m very pleased to take on another season as Reserve Driver at Infiniti Red Bull Racing. It is like being part of the family now and I have a good working and personal relationship with everyone at the team. I’m looking forward to helping with the development of the RB11 in any way I can. It should be an exciting season and I’m delighted that I will be a part of it.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Ferrari targeting at least two wins in 2015

(© Ben Johnston 2014)

New Scuderia Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene has stated that the Italian team are aiming to win at least two Grand Prix in 2015, following a difficult 2014 Formula One season.

Arrivabene replaced Marco Mattiacci as Team Principal following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the team have just completed a lengthily restructuring programme within the organisation. Pat Fry is gone and has been replaced by Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Jock Clear.

Sebastian Vettel has also joined the team for the 2015 Formula On season and will partner Kimi Raikkonen, who remains with the team for a second season after returning to the Scuderia for the first time since 2009. Ferrari’s last victory came at the 2013 Chinese Grand Prix which was won by Fernando Alonso.

Ferrari have one of the strongest line up’s in terms of world championship victories as between them Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel have 5 championships.

The Italian team will be hoping that the changes they have made ahead of the 2015 Formula One season will help them to move back up the grid having finished the 2014 season in 4th place in the Constructors championship behind Mercedes AMG PETRONAS, Infiniti Red Bull Racing and the Williams Martini Racing Team.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Formula One must listen to the needs of the fans

(© Ben Johnston 2014)

Ferrari Chairman, Sergio Marchionne and the Formula One teams new Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene believe that Formula One needs to act in order attract younger fans to the sport if it wants to survive a be more prosperous.

Arrivabene believes that the sport should consider opening up the FIA Driver Press Conference’s to the fans. The Italian feels that the sport needs to become more accessible to the fans. If the sport fails to do something, the Ferrari management feel that Formula One will be racing in front of empty grandstands.

Arrivabene has stated that the sport has lost focus and drifted away from the fans. The sport is also no longer value for money for the fans.

Last month, Formula One set up a promotional working group in order to come up with ways to make Formula One more accessible to the fans. Arrivabene has also confirmed that the team needs to answer needs of the fans and he believes that this will be more beneficial to the fans.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Monday, 22 December 2014

Ferrari rebuilding for 2015

(© Ben Johnston 2014)

Scuderia Ferrari are expecting a difficult season in 2015 according to new Chairman Sergio Marchionne.

The Italian outfit head into the 2015 Formula One season with a new driver as four time world champion Sebastian Vettel joins from Infiniti Red Bull Racing while Jock Clear joins the team from Mercedes AMG PETRONAS where he was Performance Engineer to Lewis Hamilton. Clear takes over from Pat Fry who left Ferrari last week.

Speaking at a press conference before Christmas, Marchionne stated that he would not talk about 2014 as it ‘was a year to forget.’ The Italian has described 2015 as a year of reconstruction for the team.

Marchionne stated that he does not believe that Sebastian Vettel is naïve and he believes that the German’s gamble to join the team is theirs to. The aim of the team is unlock their potential once again and to return to the top of Formula One.

Scuderia Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene stated that Vettel brings experience of winning to the team and that he is extremely enthusiastic about bringing the team success. 

Arrivabene is also happy that Vettel gets on well with his new team mate Kimi Raikkonen but stated that he wants to ensure that they don’t get on too well as a drivers main opponent is and should be his team mate.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Final part of the McLaren-Honda puzzle in place


McLaren-Honda Racing Director Eric Boullier believes that the return of Peter Pedromou to the Woking based outfit, is the ‘last piece of the puzzle’ in the reshuffle of the team as they prepare to embark on a new era in their Formula One history.

Pedromou returns to the team having spent eight years with Infiniti Red Bull Racing as Chief Aerodymanicist. The Englishman returned to Woking as Chief Engineer in September and is credited with helping the team to finish the 2014 season in a strong position. McLaren finished the 2014 Formula One season in the championship.

It was an extremely difficult season for the team, who secured just two podium finishes coming at the opening race of the season, the Australian Grand Prix in Albert Park Melbourne.

Next McLaren-Honda will be looking for reliability and not performance and the team feel that the new Honda power unit can be competitive. 

The Woking based outfit and a new driver with Fernando Alonso returning to the team following five seasons with Ferrari and a stint at Renault. Boullier has stated that the team need to be on top of everything that they do at all times. 

© Ben Johnston 2014

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Caterham announce crowd-funding profit of £75,000

(Florent Gooden DPPI for Renault Sport F1)

The Caterham F1 Team have confirmed that they made a profit of £75,000 from their crowd-funding project which enabled them to go racing at the season in Abu Dhabi.

The Leafield based outfit had to raise £2.35 million to enable them to go racing at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi in October. Kamui Kobayashi and Will Stevens brought £515,298 to the team. According to documents released over the weekend the Caterham F1 Team’s fuel bill for the final race came to £80,000.

Smith and Williamson administrator Finbarr O’Connell who is overseeing the Caterham F1 Team is currently unsure of how much of the £16.4 million debt that the team has will be paid back.

Mr O’Connell has also confirmed that a number of the potential buyers for the team only expressed an interest in the outfit as a result of the team racing in Abu Dhabi. 

The team failed to score a point during their time in Formula One from 2010 – 2014. It remains unclear whether or not the team will be on the grid in 2015, however that is the aim of O’Connell and his team.

Smith Williamson have stated that they are continuing the search for a buyer and they remain active in their discussions.

© Ben Johnston 2014

The timing was right for Alonso to leave Ferrari


Former Scuderia Ferrari driver Felipe Massa believes the time was right for Fernando Alonso to leave the Maranello based outfit. The Spaniard joins Jenson Button at McLaren-Honda from the 2015 season onwards following five seasons with Ferrari.

Massa, who was forced out of Ferrari at the end of the 2013 Formula One season in favour of Kimi Raikkonen is now a Williams Martini Racing Team driver alongside Valtteri Bottas believes that maybe during his time at Maranello, Ferrari didn’t give Alonso the best car. Equally the Brazilian feels that maybe Alonso didn't provide the Italian team with the opportunity to grow.

Following Alonso’s departure from the team they announced a whole host of changes within the management structure.

Pat Fry and Nikolas Tombazis have left the team, while it also believed that Fernando Alonso’s race engineer Andre Stella will join the Spaniard at McLaren however this has yet to be confirmed. Former Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team performance engineer, Jock Clear is expected to join Ferrari in the New Year.

Massa feels that losing a driver of Alonso’s talent could hurt Ferrari, however the team are gaining a driver with equal talent if not more in Sebastian Vettel as he has four world champions to Alonso’s two. Massa hopes however, that Ferrari do well in the future.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Williams Martini Racing Team reflect on a sensational season for the Grove based outfit

(Williams Martini Racing Team via

The Williams Martini Racing Team had their best Formula One season in recent seasons in 2014. Following an extremely difficult campaign in 2013, the Grove based outfit went into 2014 with renewed confidence having secured a new engine partner in Mercedes, Felipe Massa joined the team from Ferrari and Martini became title sponsor.

The team scored points in every race of the 2014 season and between them, Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa secured eight podium finishes on their way to finishing in third place in the championship ahead of Scuderia Ferrari.

In this film, Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams, Technical Director Pat Symonds, Head of Vehicle Performance Engineering Rob Smedley and drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa look back on a fantastic season for the team.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Wolff believes team's need more than one boss in the current Formula One

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Executive Director of Business Toto Wolff believes that soon the time will come that teams will need two team principals. The Austrian played an instrumental role in the Brackley based outfits success in 2014 which saw the team claim both the Drivers and Constructors championship.

At the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team, Wolff heads up the business and commercial side of the team while Executive Director Technical Paddy Lowe oversees the technical side of the team in 
relation to the development of the Mercedes chassis.

At the Williams Martini Racing Team, Sir Frank Williams remains team principal, however the day to day business and commercial side of the team is looked after by deputy team principal and his daughter Claire.  

The team have Pat Symonds in the role of Technical Director while earlier this week, former Scuderia Toro Rosso Sporting Director Steve Nielsen joined the team as Sporting Manager and will oversee all operational aspects of the Grove based outfit at race weekends.

Quadruple world champions Infiniti Red Bull Racing have Christian Horner in the role of team principal while Adrian Newey was chief technical officer at the Milton Keynes based outfit.

However that position will not be filled following Newey’s departure from the team to pursue new projects. Wolff explained that it is important that team members have defined roles that they are kept in as they are strong in the roles that they applied for.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Friday, 19 December 2014

F1 2014 Awards

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

The 2014 Formula One season proved to be one of the most exciting in recent years. Mercedes were the team to beat with Lewis Hamilton winning his second Formula One world championship. The sport introduced 1.6 litre V6 turbo charged power units. The new era of Formula One proved to be a great success.

With the sport set for big changes in 2015, with brand new driver line up’s for all but four of the teams, the following is list of Paddock Eye’s awards for the 2015 Formula One season.

Team of the Year – Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team

Driver of the Year – Valtteri Bottas 
(Williams Martini Racing Team)

Most Improved team of the Year – Williams Martini Racing

(Williams Martini Racing Team)

Rookie of the Year – Kevin Magnussen

(McLaren Honda)

Car of the Year – Mercedes W05

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team

Drive of the Year – Jules Bianchi’s performance at the Monaco Grand Prix earning his and the Marussia F1 Team’s first ever Formula One points.

Embedded image permalink
(Marussia F1 Team via Twitter)

Social media fan interaction of the Year – Circuit of the Americas for their #AskRossi Q&A over the United States Grand Prix weekend

Race of the Year – The championship deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

(@CircuitAmericas via Twitter)

Team Principal of the Year – Caterham F1’s acting team principal Finbarr O’Connell for successfully bringing the team back from the brink to raise the funds needed to get the team to the season finale in Abu Dhabi allowing them to race at Yas Marina.

(Jean Michel Le Meur DPPI for Renault Sport F1)

© Ben Johnston 2014

Horner excited by what should be a fantastic Formula One season in 2015

(Bernard Asset DPPI for Renault Sport F1)

Infiniti Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner believes that the 2015 Formula One season will be fantastic. Despite losing out to the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team in the race for the 2014 Formula One championship, Horner believes that 2014 was the Milton Keynes based outfits best season.

The competition between his two drivers Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo was fantastic to watch and Horner believes that the fact that Daniel Ricciardo beat him in 2014 was a factor in the German’s decision to leave the team and join Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari from 2015.

Williams Martini Racing, Mercedes, Lotus and Force India are the only teams to retain the same driver line up as 2014 for next season and Horner believes that this will prove to be a fantastic prospect for the sport and the fans alike. The fact that those four teams have unchanged pairings for 2015 could prove to be beneficial to them for next season.

Out of those teams however, Lotus have a huge change as along with McLaren they will change power unit supplier. 

The Enstone outfit will use a supply of Mercedes power units. However despite the change the team have yet to conduct mileage with the new engine unlike the McLaren Honda team who conducted a filming day last month with the new Honda power unit in the back of their interim MP4-29H chassis.

Horner is also excited by the prospect of Daniil Kvyat making the step up to Infiniti Red Bull Racing next season to partner Daniel Ricciardo, who has been a revelation for the team this year.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Vergne joins Ferrari as a test driver

(Frederic Le Floc'h DPPI for Renault Sport F1)

The Scuderia Ferrari Formula One Team confirmed on Friday that they have signed former Toro Rosso turned Andretti Autosport Formula E driver, Jean Eric Vergne as a test and reserve driver. The Frenchman took pole position as his maiden Formula E race last week. Vergne, who drove for Scuderia Toro Rosso for three years will combine his Formula E commitments with his new role at Ferrari.

Vergne’s arrival at Maranello comes just days after the team announced that they have signed former Sauber F1 Team driver Esteban Gutierrrez as a test and reserve driver. Vergne replaces former test driver Pedro Dela Rosa as he has officially left the team. 

On Monday, when the team announced the signing of Gutierrez they also confirmed a new sponsorship agreement with America Movil.

Speaking to the official Ferrari website following his confirmation at the team, Vergne stated:

I feel very honoured to be joining the Ferrari family and becoming a part of the most prestigious team in the history of Formula One. The objective is a unanimous one and that is to help the Scuderia get back to the top step of the podium.

Having had two years working in the simulator for a top F1 team and three years racing with Toro Rosso, my experience will add to the great efforts that are currently being made in order to get the team back to its winning ways. I look forward to fulfilling my dream in becoming a member of the Ferrari Formula One team and having the Tifosi behind me every step of the way.’

Vergne ended the 2014 Formula One season in 13th place having scored 22 points for the Toro Rosso team. The Frenchman was replaced for the 2015 Formula One season by Carlos Sainz Jr who is joined at the team by Max Verstappen.

Scuderia Ferrari have an extremely strong driver line up for 2015 with Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel as their race drivers, between them they have five world championships while they also have Esteban Gutierrez and Jean Eric Vergne as their test and reserve drivers.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Ferrari looking to sign Bottas in 2016

(Williams Martini Racing Team)

Scuderia Ferrari have reportedly sounded out Williams Martini Racing Team’s Valtteri Bottas in relation to the highly rated Finn joining the Maranello based outfit in 2016.

According to an article in the January issue of F1Racing Magazine, Bottas has agreed to discuss the possibility of replacing fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen as Sebastian Vettel’s team mate at the Italian team in 2016 when Raikkonen’s contract expires. Raikkonen endured an extremely difficult first season at Ferrari where he finished in 12th place in the championship on 55 points.

Valtteri Bottas had a fantastic 2014 season with Williams Martini Racing. The Finn secured six podium finishes on his way to finishing the season in fourth place in the championship on 186 points. Bottas’ highest qualifying result was a second place alongside team mate Felipe Massa at the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring.

Bottas also started the German Grand Prix in second place. The Finn will remain at Williams Martini Racing for the 2015 Formula One season and it could be difficult for the Grove based outfit to keep the talented Finn who has been with the team since joining them as test driver in 2010.

It is also possible that Bottas could end up at Mercedes if Lewis Hamilton fails to reach an agreement over a contract extension with the Brackley based outfit. 

The 2014 world champion’s current contract runs until the end of the 2015 Formula One season. It is unlikely however that the Finn will join Mercedes as Toto Wolff along with former world champion Mika Hakkinen are involved in the management of the Finn’s Formula One career.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Nasr confirms Formula One driver number ahead of 2015 Formula One debut

(Sauber F1 Team)

Sauber F1 Team’s Felipe Nasr has confirmed that he will use the number 12 from 2015 when the Brazilian makes his Formula One race debut.

The Brazilian joins the Hinwil based outfit from the Williams Martini Racing Team where he was test and reserve driver. Nasr was replaced at the Grove based outfit by test and development driver Susie Wolff.

With Nasr confirming his number, here is the list of the driver numbers for the 2015 Formula One season.

44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team
6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team

3 Daniel Ricciardo Infiniti Red Bull Racing
26 Daniil Kvyat Infiniti Red Bull Racing

19 Felipe Massa Williams Martini Racing Team
77 Valtteri Bottas Williams Martini Racing Team

5 Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Ferrari
7 Kimi Raikkonen Scuderia Ferrari

14 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda
22 Jenson Button McLaren-Honda

11 Sergio Perez Sahara Force India Formula One Team
27 Nico Hulkenberg Sahara Force India Formula One Team

33 Max Verstappen Scuderia Toro Rosso
55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso

8 Romain Grosjean Lotus F1 Team
13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus F1 Team

9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber F1 Team
12 Felipe Nasr Sauber F1 Team

Scuderia Ferrari test driver Esteban Gutierrez will continue to use the number 21 in his duties for the Italian team, while Susie Wolff will also use her number 41 during test outings for the Williams Martini Racing Team.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Ecclestone re-elected to Formula One board

(Glenn Dunbar LAT for the Lotus F1 Team)

Formula One Supremo Bernie Ecclestone has been re-elected to the bard of Formula One. Mr Ecclestone returns to the board after stepping down ahead of his trial in Germany for bribery. Ecclestone paid £100 million to settle the case with prosecutors in August.

Former Ferrari President Luca Di Montezemelo has also been appointed to the board of Formula One. 

The Italian resigned as President of Scuderia Ferrari in September and officially left the company in October. He was replaced as President by FIAT Chairman Sergio Marchionne. Di Montezemelo was previously on the board of Formula One prior to his departure from Ferrari.

It was also confirmed that former Diageo Chief Executive Officer Paul Walsh has also been appointed to the board of Formula One. Earlier this week, Walsh ruled himself as a possible replacement for Ecclestone.

Walsh will take up his new role as non-executive director on the Formula One board from Thursday 1st January 2015.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Alonso return to Enstone was a real possibility

(Alastair Staley for the Lotus F1 Team)

Lotus F1 Team Chairman and Team Principal Gerard Lopez has confirmed that he approached Fernando Alonso about the possibility of the Spaniard driving for the Enstone based outfit in 2015.

Lopez made contact with the double world champion when it became clear that he was leaving Ferrari. However Lopez admitted that it soon became clear to him that Alonso was set on a return to McLaren Honda for 2015.

The Lotus F1 Team will have a new power unit supplier in 2015 with Mercedes replacing the Enstone outfit’s long term engine partner Renault, following a difficult 2014 Formula One season which saw the team finish in 8th place in the championship having scored just ten points all season. When discussions with Alonso failed to materialise, Lopez decided to re-sign Romain Grosjean for a fourth season with the team.

Lopez went on to congratulate Alonso on his new contract with McLaren and wished the Spaniard every success as he embarks on the new challenge with the Woking based outfit and their new power unit partner Honda, who return to Formula One for the first time since 2008.

Alonso won both of his Formula One world champions with the Enstone outfit when it was the Renault 'works' Formula One team in 2005 and 2006 before moving to McLaren-Mercedes in 2007.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Clear to join Ferrari following Mercedes resignation


Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has lost his performance engineer Jock Clear. The 51 year old Englishman who had been with the Mercedes since it entered Formula One as BAR in 1999, resigned from the team following the season finale Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

As reported by Paddock Eye on Wednesday, Clear will join Scuderia Ferrari in 2015, following a period of gardening leave from the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team.

It is expected that the highly rated engineer will replace Pat Fry at the Maranello based outfit following the announcement earlier this week that Fry had left Ferrari. It is expected that Clear will become head of Ferrari’s Trackside Engineering operation, the position former held by Fry.

Clear will join fellow Englishman, James Allison who remains at Ferrari as technical Director. 

© Ben Johnston 2014

New Sauber C34 passes crash tests

(Sauber F1 Team)

The Sauber F1 Team have confirmed that their 2015 Formula One chassis, dubbed the C34 has become the latest challenger to pass the mandatory FIA crash tests. The news comes with just six weeks to go until the first test of winter gets underway at the Jerez circuit in Spain from February 1 - 4.

Last week, McLaren-Honda became the first team to announce that their MP4-30 chassis had passed all the FIA crash tests.

The Sauber F1 Team head into 2015 hoping that the C34 will bring them better results than their 2014 car as the Swiss based outfit failed to score a single point for the first time in their history in Formula One.

The Hinwil outfit have a brand new line-up for 2015, with former Caterham F1 Team driver Marcus Ericsson joining alongside former Williams Martini Racing Team test and reserve driver Felipe Nasr set to make his Formula One debut with the team next season.

© Ben Johnston 2014