Abu Dahbi cover 2015Nico Rosberg scored his third consecutive win for Mercedes in Abu Dhabi, with Lewis Hamilton again shadowing him to the flag. It was not a great race by any means, but the Formula 1 circuit is never that dull. Off track there was plenty of action as the sport tries to sort out its future. On track Nico may think he goes into next year as the favourite, but no doubt Lewis will recharge his batteries and be back on full song in 2016. Ferrari finished third and fourth, with Vettel doing a sterling job to work hi way up through the field. But the cars from Maranello were a long way behind at the finish.

Also in GP+ this week…

– We finish our chat with Bob Fernley
– We remember Graham Hill and Tony Brise – 40 years after their deaths
– We wonder whether F1 should have play-offs
– We look at the problems facing F1 – and how they can be solved

– JS talks to a man from Nepal
– DT recalls the dark day at Arkley
– The Hack ponders F1 television
– Peter and Lise Nygaard produce some great shots from Abu Dhabi

GP+ is the ultimate magazine for Formula 1 fans. If you want to know more about the sport this is the magazine to find out. The staff of GP+ are part of the furniture of F1. We go to all the races and we want to share our love for the sport with the fans. We are happy to fight for it and we don’t hold back. The magazine is packed full of good stories, great features, fun and a taste of what it is like to be part of the F1 circus. The magazine – usually around 90 pages – is published a few hours after each race. It is in PDF format, so you can download it and keep it in your computer, tablet or even your smartphone. There is nothing like it, and it’s a great bargain. We are now signing up for 2016… Don’t miss it.

For more information, go to http://www.grandprixplus.com.

The picture of Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff holding hands to show the world that the rumours about friction between them are, as Niki would say, “all bulls**t”, shows that not only are the two Austrians still get on enough to have a good laugh at their own expense, but it has been a great response to all the negativity about F1 that is flying about at the moment. The two have been giggling all day.

“It’s amazing how fast this social media works today,” Niki said. “My wife rings me up and says: ‘What is all this about with you and Toto?’…”

Now here’s a thought: Just imagine that instead of retweeting about the Mercedes team bosses holding hands (sweet though that is…), we all started messaging one another about just how amazing Formula 1 is today. Nico and Lewis are doing their thing – and the drivers should be the heroes – but we should also not forget that F1 has always been about fantastic technology. It is the DNA of the sport, but in the 120-year history of the automobile, engineers had only managed to raise the thermal efficiency of the average road car engine up to around 30 percent before 2014.

In the space of two years, the modern F1 engines have lifted that figure to 45 percent and the engineers are now working to take that on to 50 percent and more. They still see enormous potential for further gains in development and are excited that the same concepts can then be applied to road cars.

In other words, this is the most exciting development in engine design in the history of the automobile and the efficiency gains could and should have huge impact on the way we live our lives in the years ahead.

If the F1 world stopped fighting with itself and concentrated on delivering this message by every means possible, the sport would be much better off and, heaven forbid, there might even be some positive stories in the media…


You may read in some of the English newspapers today about a supposed rift between Mercedes AMG Petronas executives Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda. This morning, when we reached the paddock in Abu Dhabi, we bumped into the team principals emerging from a meeting about engines with Bernie Ecclestone. Christian Horner and Cyril Abiteboul were all but hand-in-hand, despite the problems that have existed between Renault and Red Bull, but it was the two Mercedes chiefs who caught our attention, laughing and joking and suggesting that it would be a good idea to suggest to the world that all is well between them and they are close to becoming F1’s first high-profile same-sex couple. Clearly there was not much wrong between them. So we suggested that it would be a good idea for them to show the world that they are still mates. So, here it is, ladies and gentlemen, with no Photoshop involved, Niki and Toto “doing their thing” in the Abu Dhabi paddock. So what on earth could the newspapers have been on about – and why?Toto


Thought for the day…

Yesterday was Black Friday in the United States, the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. In Dubai, we were racing cars. And in Paris they were having a day of national homage for the victims of the recent terrorist attacks. The French are an amazing nation: for their sense of liberty, their joy of living, their inventiveness and their humour. The following picture says it all… #joef1



Lounging about…

Here in the lounge at Charles de Gaulle, with the security checkpoint a fast-fading memory and no-one prowling around with a machine-gun, there is plenty of time to mull over life, love and the universe. Half the people in this lounge look like Gérard Lopez (so it is thus a good place to pitch Gillette Fusion Proglide Flexball products), but in reality none of them are the man himself. He remains the invisible man of F1. When you stop and think about it, being a team principal who only comes to a few practice sessions in an entire season is a fairly odd arrangement and not one that is overly good for any team. Strangely enough, the only person I do recognise in the lounge is Frédéric Vasseur (or ART/Spark fame), who may – or may not – become Team Principal at Enstone, if and when there is a takeover of the team by Renault. I could go over and ask but we have already spoken on the subject and he has made it clear that he would do the job in the right circumstances so, even if it is all decided, I doubt he is about to blurt it out to me. I am not one of those journalists who feel the need to start grilling people wherever and whenever one bumps into them. Anyway, it’s too early for that sort of thing, so I shall leave him to his matinal musings, unless he wants to come over for a chat.

Elsewhere in F1, the latest game of Charades is now finished and everyone guessed quite quickly that the Todt/Ecclestone team had chosen the word “bluff” for their turn. Now it is the turn of the manufacturers to have their go and, after several committee meetings,they have selected the phrase “tangled web weaving”, which will take everyone rather longer to figure out, as there are lots of creeks up which they may paddle and which may lead nowhere at all.

While all this is simmering away in the background, the troops are gathering once more in Abu Dhabi for the final round of the World Championship.  Going racing is always good fun, but given the points structure that we have these days, there is little to get excited about beyond whether Lewis or Nico will win the race on Sunday, or whether lightning will strike the F1 world and the path will be opened for an unlikely victory for Pastor Maldonado. All the championships are done and dusted and the only point of excitement is whether or not Valtteri Bottas or Kimi Raikkonen will come out ahead in their Finnish slug-fest for fourth place. You have to be a serious fan, or come from Pallas-Yllästunturin Kansallispuisto, to get excited about that. Whatever happens, Bottas is going to come out on top in image terms, because beating/nearly beating a Ferrari with a Williams is a much more worthy effort than vice versa.

Elsewhere there are some minor placing fights that will make the carbon composite suppliers smile, notably Maldonado versus Nasr for 13th. The Constructors’ Championship offers little hope of any great change, if one excludes the possibility of a McLaren 1-2.

There are times when one wonders whether NASCAR is smarter than F1 by making sure that every championship showdown has four contenders… And before the old curmudgeons dust off their typewriters and, with a hrmph and vague tsktsk noises, hammer away at un-oiled keys to complain to the nth degree about these flashy ideas from across The Pond (I must win a prize there for having a sentence with no fewer than three vowelless words – without even the letter y!), I should add that I am only half-joking. Why is F1 so stuck in its own mud (or should that be merde?) that it will not consider any kind of play-off format? I know that it was not like that “in my father’s day”, but a scoring system is a scoring system – and teams deal with the rules they are given. In any case, points systems have changed in F1 many times, so comparing the different eras is of no great value.

I saw on Twitter yesterday that Lewis was plugging his arrival in Dubai aboard his Bombardier Challenger 605. In the words of Shania Twain, that don’t impress me much… I’m coming in on an Airbus A380.

Stoffel in Japan

GP2 Champion and McLaren reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne flew from a successful weekend in Bahrain (where he won his sixth victory of the year) to Japan to test a Super Formula car at Suzuka. The Belgian rising star is expected to race in Japan next year, while also attending all the Grands Prix and doing simulator work. The aim is to keep him race sharp for 2017. Vandoorne tested for the leading Honda team:  Docomo Dandelion Racing, which ran Tomoki Nojiri (26), who finished seventh in the championship and 38-year-old Indian former F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan, who was 11th. Vandoorne has since returned to AbuDhabi, where he will race in the championship finale this weekend. If he wins again he will become the man with the highest number of wins in GP2 history, overtaking Pastor Maldonado. It should be added that Vandoorne has achieved this in two seasons, while it took Maldonado four. Nine of Vandoorne’s 10 wins have been in feature races, an unrivalled feat.

The Super Formula has the fastest racing cars outside F1, with lap times at Suzuka that would qualify for the GP. The cars are powered by 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines from Honda and Toyota, which produced around 550 hp. The cars are lighter than GP2s and feature DRS.

The proposal for an alternative F1 engine has been voted down by the F1 Commission. However, it seems that during the discussions the various parties agreed to guarantee the supply of power units to all teams; that there needs to be a lower price for customer teams; that the power units need to be less technical (whatever that means) and that noise needs to be improved. The FIA and the manufacturers will present a proposal by January 15 that will solve the above problems. This will include a rule that will establish the minimum number of teams that a manufacturer must supply. The first meeting to discuss this will be in Abu Dhabi. There were four expressions of interest for the alternative customer engine, but the F1 Commission rejected the idea, although the FIA is saying that it could be revived if it is not happy with the proposals from the manufacturers.


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