Pirelli F1 tyres

Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery is concerned one test session is unlikely to be enough to bring a tire performance "cliff" back to Formula 1.

While the main aim of Tuesday's 12-hour test session at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi is to run the rule over the new-for-2016 ultra-soft compound, Pirelli is also looking at again increasing the number of pit stops.

The level has often fallen below the brief of a minimum of two per driver over the past two years, primarily due to Pirelli taking a back seat to allow the teams to focus on the turbocharged hybrid power unit following its introduction at the start of 2014.

ANALYSIS: Does 2012 hold the key to F1's tire future?

p4The ultra-soft tire will play a part in changing things for 2016, but Pirelli and Hembery would ideally like to go further to spice up the show, with the feeling being that tires that dramatically drop off in performance is the way to go. Pirelli, however, has only the test at Yas Marina to find a solution, otherwise it may have to be put on the backburner until 2017.

"We would have liked more pit stops this season, but that is not something we can change without quite extensive testing," said Hembery. "While the ultra-soft next year will give us more options for certain races, it's not going to dramatically change the scene. That's something we need to look at for '17.

"We've one shot for next season, and we don't know if it will work the way we want it to, but we are trying to bring back a 'cliff' into it. While it may create more pit stops, what we don't know is if it will create any differences in strategy, which is the ideal solution. So we're looking at it, and we've a couple of concepts we'll be testing, but it's very hard to get that right with only one test session."

The primary concern for Pirelli is ensuring the ultra-soft tire works, with four variants overall to be tested as it tries to find the best solution.

"The ultra-soft is the real priority," added Hembery. "We've four different proposals for the ultra-soft, but it will be completely blind for the teams so they won't know what we are looking at.

"The circuit is quite ideal because it offers a smooth surface, and traction is important, so we'll be testing against references of what we used in the race [soft and super-soft]. Ideally, we want something that will give us a qualifying tire in some races.

"It will be something that if chosen by the teams they could take an aggressive start to a race strategy, so let's see what the results are like. We believe we'll have something after the test, although it might be too early to say. What I can say is there will be definitely be an ultra-soft tire in 2016."


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 N7T6360Christian Horner is adamant Red Bull's Renault engine agreement for 2016 is bulletproof even if the French firm's Lotus takeover talks collapse and it pulls out of Formula 1.

Horner revealed on Friday, ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, that after months of uncertainty the team's future was now secure as a power unit deal was in place for next year, with confirmation expected by the end of this week. Having failed to land a power unit from Mercedes, Ferrari or Honda, Red Bull has been forced to return to Renault.

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In tandem, Renault is in the final throes of its takeover of Lotus, although has hit a stumbling block in its negotiations with F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone over the revenues it feels it is entitled to, given its longevity in F1.

Ecclestone held talks on two occasions with Renault Sport F1 president Jerome Stoll over the course of the weekend with regard to constructors' bonus and historic payments. It is understood a final offer is on the table from Ecclestone that Stoll is to discuss with Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn, which if rejected will end the Lotus deal.

Regardless of what transpires between Ecclestone, Renault and Lotus, Red Bull will still go forward into next season with its power unit plan in place according to Horner.

Asked whether the deal was dependent on Renault's future in F1, Horner said: "We have a signed contract for an engine, the details of which I hope to be able to announce within a week. There's obviously been an awful lot of activity over the last few weeks. I am not at liberty to say what that activity is, but I'm sure it will all come out in the wash.

"But, the situation is clear in that we have an agreement for next year. I would like to be able to tell you what that is, but unfortunately I can't."

Among the conditions understood to be attached to Red Bull's continuation with Renault are that title sponsor Infiniti, one of the brands under the Renault/Nissan alliance, will be dropped, representing a loss of around $70 million per year. Although the power unit will still be supplied by Renault, there is a possibility it will be rebadged as "Nissan F1" to put further distance between team and manufacturer.

Asked whether the engine would carry Japanese branding, Horner replied: "I'm not going to confirm or deny anything. It will be confirmed within a week or so."


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Nico Rosberg wins Abu Dhabi GP 2015

Nico Rosberg finished the 2015 season by completing the first victory hat-trick of his Formula 1 career, beating Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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It was a relatively comfortable lights-to-flag triumph at the Yas Marina circuit for Rosberg, who has been unstoppable since Hamilton won his third F1 title at Circuit of The Americas in October.

Rosberg has won every subsequent race, finishing another runner-up campaign with six successive pole positions in total, and a run of wins that took him to 14 overall and provided him with a lift ahead of the 2016 campaign.

Come the end of the 55 laps Rosberg finished 8.2 seconds ahead of Hamilton, who opted for a different race strategy in a bid to find a way past the German, only to fall short.

267A9931When Rosberg made his second stop on lap 31 of 55, Hamilton opted to stay out rather than pit on the following lap. As Hamilton extended the life out of a set of soft Pirelli tires, there followed an exchange of messages between driver and the pitwall over to whether he could go to the end of the race.

With Rosberg closing rapidly, Hamilton eventually pitted for a second time after 41 laps, but rather than taking on super-softs – although he had no new sets left, only used – the switch was to softs, leaving him with a 12.5s deficit.

There was another brief surge, but ultimately it was a forlorn battle for Hamilton who had to settle for runner-up to Rosberg again.

Behind Mercedes' 12th one-two of the season – a new F1 record – Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen finished on the podium for only the third time this year, and for once ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel, who rose from 15th on the grid to fourth.

Force India duo Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg finished a strong fifth and seventh either side of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo.

Williams driver Felipe Massa was eighth, followed by Romain Grosjean in his final race for Lotus ahead of his move next year to Haas. The Frenchman used an alternative strategy and a late charge on super-softs to come through from 19th on the grid.

Daniil Kvyat completed the top 10 in his Red Bull, fending off Carlos Sainz Jr.

Incidents in a hectic first part of the race included a collision in the pitlane between Williams's Valtteri Bottas and McLaren's Jenson Button. As Bottas was released – unsafely, according to the stewards, as he was penalized with a five-second time penalty – and as Button cut across into his pitbox, the Finn caught the rear of the Briton.

The incident resulted in damage to Button's rear wing, while Bottas sustained front-wing damage, leading to a long, slow lap back to the pits for a new nose. That relegated Bottas to 18th at the time, with Fernando Alonso the only man behind as the two-time champion had required his own new front wing at the end of lap one in the wake of a first-corner crash with Pastor Maldonado's Lotus.

It was the ninth time this year Maldonado had retired, while Alonso's error incurred the wrath of the stewards as he was also penalized with a drive-through penalty for causing a collision.

Running around at the rear, and just before the midway point of the race, Alonso suggested he had had enough when he declared over the radio: "If we don't get a safety car, I will retire the car."

The Spaniard, however, kept going to the flag, ending his worst season – in terms of points scored, since his 2001 debut with Minardi – down in 17th, with only Manor duo Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi behind him.


1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1h38m3175s
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 8.271s
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 19.430s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 43.735s
5 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m03.952s
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m05.010s
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m33.618s
8 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m37.751s
9 Romain Grosjean Lotus/Mercedes 1m38.201s
10 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull/Renault 1m42.371s
11 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Renault 1m43.525s
12 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1 Lap
13 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1 Lap
14 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1 Lap
15 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1 Lap
16 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso/Renault 1 Lap
17 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 2 Laps
18 Will Stevens Marussia/Ferrari 2 Laps
19 Roberto Merhi Marussia/Ferrari 3 Laps
- Pastor Maldonado Lotus/Mercedes Collision


1 Lewis Hamilton 381
2 Nico Rosberg 322
3 Sebastian Vettel 278
4 Kimi Raikkonen 150
5 Valtteri Bottas 136
6 Felipe Massa 121
7 Daniil Kvyat 95
8 Daniel Ricciardo 92
9 Sergio Perez 78
10 Nico Hulkenberg 58
11 Romain Grosjean 51
12 Max Verstappen 49
13 Felipe Nasr 27
14 Pastor Maldonado 27
15 Carlos Sainz 18
16 Jenson Button 16
17 Fernando Alonso 11
18 Marcus Ericsson 9
19 Roberto Merhi 0
20 Alexander Rossi 0
21 Will Stevens 0


1 Mercedes 703
2 Ferrari 428
3 Williams/Mercedes 257
4 Red Bull/Renault 187
5 Force India/Mercedes 136
6 Lotus/Mercedes 78
7 Toro Rosso/Renault 67
8 Sauber/Ferrari 36
9 McLaren/Honda 27
10 Marussia/Ferrari 0


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Mercedes and Ferrari, Mexican GP 2015

The FIA has closed a number of loopholes in its regulations that had sparked concerns of a potential "arms race" in Formula 1 after a challenge from Mercedes.

The champion team claimed there to be a number of ambiguities in appendices six and eight of the 2015 F1 sporting regulations, with the former relating to listed parts, and the latter to aerodynamic testing restrictions. Mercedes argued it was seeking clarification with regards to opportunities in the regulations it was considering for the future.

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff suggested if the loopholes remained open and exploited it would lead to the bigger teams using a junior team to aid the speed of development. New team Haas, for instance, enters F1 next year on the back of a deal with Ferrari, which will supply a number of parts, and with use of the Scuderia's wind tunnel.

At no stage in any correspondence over the past few weeks between Mercedes and the FIA were either Ferrari or Haas mentioned. However, Wolff warned on Saturday if such rules were allowed to go unchecked "it could become an arms race of how many corporations or partners you could sign up in order to develop at the greatest speed."

Following a meeting of the stewards in Abu Dhabi, spearheaded by former F1 driver and BRDC president Derek Warwick, steps have been taken to ensure the regulations in the future cannot be abused.

The stewards' full ruling on the case

williams noseThe FIA has made clear its intention, via the rules, was to place limits on the amount of aero development each competitor would be able to carry out and to prevent an escalation of costs associated with research. Decisions taken by the stewards include the fact one competitor cannot share information with another relating to the aerodynamic geometry/surfaces of listed parts.

Most notably, with regard to wind tunnel use, the FIA has issued a list of activities that would be deemed attempts to circumvent the rules and are therefore outlawed with immediate effect (see list below).

It states that "the purpose of the aerodynamic testing restrictions is to place limits on the amount of aerodynamic development each competitor is able to carry out."

It adds that the detailed wording in the regulations "is also intended to ensure no competitor is able to circumvent the purpose or intention of the restrictions by, for example, using a third party to carry out aerodynamic development on their behalf."

In essence, no team can use another for its own aerodynamic development.

The FIA has confirmed receiving verbal submissions from Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari, Williams and Force India, and written submissions from not only Mercedes, Ferrari and Force India, but also Manor.

Previous correspondence was also examined between the FIA and Ferrari, Haas, Red Bull and Mercedes, while reports of FIA audits, inspections and visits to team facilities were examined.

A FIA inspection of Ferrari's wind tunnel earlier this year found it operating within the rules, with the Scuderia not using Haas-allocated time for its own benefit.


From the FIA stewards' decision:

The following (non‐exhaustive) list may be deemed attempts to circumvent the purpose or intention of Appendix 8, any of these could therefore be reported to the stewards of the next Event as a breach of the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations.

1) No employee or consultant of a competitor who is involved in aerodynamic development may pass any information obtained under their own ATR quota to an employee or consultant of another competitor.

2) No employee of a competitor who is involved in aerodynamic development, who leaves that company and takes up a similar position with another competitor, may do so without a suitable (or normal) period of "gardening leave" or "isolation."

3) No employee of a competitor who is involved in aerodynamic development, and who leaves that company and takes up a similar position with another competitor, may then return to the original competitor without a suitable (or normal) period of "gardening leave" or "isolation."

4) No employee of a competitor who is involved in aerodynamic development, and who then leaves that company, may pass information obtained under their former employer's ATR quota to an employee or consultant of another competitor before a suitable (or normal) period of "gardening leave" or "isolation" has elapsed.

5) No employee of an external entity who is involved in F1 aerodynamic development may be employed by a competitor, on a permanent or temporary basis, without a suitable (or normal) period of "gardening leave" or "isolation".

6) No employee of a competitor who is involved in aerodynamic development may be seconded to, or temporarily employed by, another competitor unless such secondment or employment is a genuine long term arrangement for the sole purpose of providing the other competitor with technical expertise. Any seconded employee must not then return to the original competitor without a suitable (or normal) period of "gardening leave" or "isolation". Three months would be considered as a genuine long term arrangement.

7) No competitor may acquire aerodynamic surfaces from an external entity (even if such entity claims to have designed them for its own purposes), unless any aerodynamic testing resource used to develop the surfaces is counted within the relevant competitor's ATR quota.

8) Teams sharing a wind tunnel (or any other aerodynamic testing resource as referred to in Appendix 8, including a CFD cluster) must put appropriate procedures in place to avoid any breach of confidentiality or of the general restrictions of Appendix 6 and Appendix 8. This would include (but not be limited to):

(i) ensuring staff shared by both parties or employed by one party but involved in the operational part of the aerodynamic testing of the other party (such as operating or maintaining the wind tunnel and/or CFD hardware) give contractual covenants not to pass information or to allow information to pass between the parties.

(ii) putting the physical infrastructure in place so the two parties operate their support activities (such as wind tunnel model preparation), other than the operational part of the testing mentioned above, in separate environments.

(iii) putting the IT infrastructure in place so the two parties operate on separate networks and store their data on separate (at least virtually) storage hardware.

Note: "A suitable or normal period of gardening leave or isolation" must be 6 months except in the case of force majeure or a competitor ceasing operations (for example due to bankruptcy). Normally "gardening leave" is a contractual matter between the employee and the competitor from which that employee is leaving, and "isolation" is a similar arrangement and obligation for the competitor to which the employee is moving.


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nismoThe NISMO Festival is an annual gathering at Fuji Speedway in Japan that allows Nissan fans to get close looks at famous Nissan racecars through the years. Going beyond mere static displays, the event includes demo runs from every car in attendance.

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2016 Audi R18 e-tron quattro launch

Audi will take a step up in hybrid energy with the all-new Audi R18 e-tron quattro World Endurance Championship contender it unveiled on Saturday evening. The latest turbodiesel LMP1 racer to carry the R18 e-tron quattro name will race in the six megajoule hybrid sub-class next year rather than the 4MJ division in which it competed in 2015.

Audi has abandoned the flywheel energy storage or mechanical battery system used since the arrival of the first R18 hybrid in 2012 in favor of a lithium-ion battery, the same technology used by 2015 WEC champion Porsche. The move to 6MJ should put the Audi on a par with gasoline-fueled rivals Porsche and Toyota, who will both race at 8MJ in 2016.

audi 2016 2The innovative energy-based LMP1 rules introduced for 2014 effectively equate a 6MJ turbodiesel with an 8MJ gasoline car. The latest Audi once again pushes the boundaries on aerodynamics, as can be seen from the first photographs of the car.

Audi Sport boss Wolfgang Ullrich said: "With our new Audi R18, we're setting a clear signal: Audi continues to put the pedal to the metal in motorsport, deliberately relying on TDI – the world's most successful automotive efficiency technology – at the Le Mans 24 Hours."

The new car will begin testing in earnest at Sebring early next month.

2016 Audi R18 e-tron quattro launch

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Fernando Alonso, F1 2015

Not for the first time in his Formula 1 career the future of Fernando Alonso has become the subject of considerable debate.

The source of the topic on this occasion was Ron Dennis, McLaren Technology Group's CEO. McLaren decided as this was the last race of the year, and given the fact Dennis had not attended a grand prix since Japan, along with the volume of requests for an interview, the 68-year-old would be given the opportunity to air his thoughts.

alonso japanIt was in Japan, of course, that Dennis was the center of attention in light of some controversial remarks from Alonso, including referring to the Honda power unit as a "GP2 engine." When asked directly after a frustrating race at Suzuka if he would be in F1 next year, Alonso's answer was equivocal as he said: "I don't know," before adding: "My intention is to stay and win."

The problems that plagued Alonso then with the car, and over the preceding months, have not gone away, and while positive noises are emanating from McLaren and Honda as to their prospects for next season, seeing is believing.

McLaren-Honda has to bridge the 20mph straightline speed gap that currently exists to the likes of Mercedes, as materialized in qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

It was shortly prior to qualifying that Dennis was asked a straightforward question, that if the car is uncompetitive again at the start of next season, would there be a possibility of Alonso not driving for McLaren next season. Dennis' response came out of the blue as in part of it he replied: "I have an open mind to anything, and some of the ideas have involved those sorts of considerations, yes, sabbatical years etc."

Such words also came as a surprise to Alonso, but as in Japan his responses have muddied the waters.

In interviews for TV and radio that immediately followed qualifying, the 34-year-old gave a firm "no" when asked if he could sit on the sidelines. Fast-forward just 90 minutes to the written media session and when pressed on the matter again and whether he would absolutely rule out a sabbatical, his reply had altered to "you can never say 100 percent anything."

Alonso added: "My intention is to race, and I think I will race. We see how it goes next year, but it is not in my plans not to race."

alonso dennisAs to whether Alonso had ever discussed with Dennis the idea of a year out, again there was no overwhelmingly dismissive answer as he said: "I've discussed many ideas, crazy ideas," before then expressing positivity about progress.

Racing director Eric Boullier at least stated categorically he personally has held no discussion with Dennis about Alonso sitting on the sidelines for a season. As Jenson Button pointed out it was the first time he had ever heard of a driver seemingly being offered the option of a sabbatical, one he feels would be detrimental.

Button said: "Even if I had the option I'd want to build a car around me for the following year. If you take a year out, the other driver will design a car around him."

It seems inconceivable at this stage Alonso will twiddle his thumbs for a year, but Dennis has opened the door ever so slightly as to the possibility. It means we now wait with bated breath to the conclusion of Alonso's first day of testing with the 2016 McLaren-Honda.

Without doubt, you can bet the first question will be: "So, Fernando, how was the car, and will you take a sabbatical?"

Fernando Alonso, Abu Dhabi GP 2015

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CHN Sat 268Measuring the newly-retired Alexander Wurz by his statistics is pointless. During a decade on the Formula 1 trail, the towering Austrian never threatened the record books with championships or wins. The 41-year-old was a perennial challenger in sports cars, finishing a career-best third in the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship with Toyota, but when it comes to earning titles, Wurz was rarely in a position to dominate in prototypes—or F1—to the degree his talent deserved.

And yet, in the absence of gaudy stats and metrics, Wurz earned the kind of respect normally reserved for heroes of the sport. He leaves the cockpit with two overall victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, arguably his career-defining accomplishments in almost 30 years of active competition, along with the unyielding esteem of those who raced against the man or worked alongside him.

It's in the reverie expressed by the likes of Dario Franchitti, Allan McNish, Davy Jones, and recent teammate Anthony Davidson where that deeply-held regard becomes apparent. Franchitti and Wurz are close friends who rose from the European open-wheel ranks in the mid-1990s; Wurz and McNish are neighbors in Monaco, and as rivals in LMP1 - Allan with Audi and Alex with Peugeot and Toyota - the two were responsible for incredibly fierce racing. Jones and Wurz shared their first wins at La Sarthe with the Joest Porsche program in 1996, and Davidson raced against Wurz in F1 before they were partnered at Peugeot and Toyota.

The four men welcomed the opportunity to share insights about Wurz after his retirement was announced and together, they add even more depth to an individual who rates among one of the most talented drivers of his generation, not to mention one of the most cherished personalities in the sport.

 SBL7668DARIO FRANCHITTI on meeting Wurz for the first time:
"I first met Wurzy when I signed the DTM contract with Mercedes [for 1995]. I had to go up to the fitness camp in Austria. Everybody else was already there and I had to go later. I showed up at this hotel, and the next morning, I had my breakfast and I took the 'stairs to the heavens.' It's 1000 stairs or something, and you had to run up and down it. I get there and there's this tall gangly kid, who's Austrian. Had a pretty good command of English, certainly better than my German. Here's this statue, who walked up, looked down, and said 'my name is Alex...' I was like, OK...I didn't know what to expect.

"I spent the next two days trying to keep up with this bugger running up and down these stairs; puking at the top. I watched him go from that kid who went from Formula 3 to DTM and then F1 in, like, three years. That's pretty special on its own."

ALLAN McNISH on meeting and getting to know Wurz:
"Going back, I've known Alex since I was involved in sportscars, actually, because my first-ever test with Porsche back in 1997 was at Paul Ricard and he was testing as well. Basically, I jumped out of the car, he jumped in, he jumped out of the car and I jumped in. That was a sight.

"Then he went off to Mercedes and I signed up to do Porsche with the GT1. So we bumped into each other quite a lot in our first foray into sports cars, which was quite a bizarre situation, really. I think there's two sides to him. He's a structured, Austrian-minded, prepared, workaholic racing driver. People recognize that  Y2Z8576he was the one that that made the difference winning Le Mans in 2009 (RIGHT), much to, I would say, the annoyance of Peugeot, who clearly wanted the other car with the French drivers to win. Alex was mastermind to get the most out of that situation and have success because he was that good, but also he was working every angle to win.

"The guy was always a little bit different as well. Even though he had that Austrian sort of straightforward mentality where he said exactly what he thought, in the clearest nonpolitical way, he also was slightly different in terms that he wore two boots of a different color, which, to be honest, I don't get. And a balaclava with two eyeholes as opposed to the normal big open-face one the rest of us use. And just the massive enjoyment he would take in painting his own helmet. It was like the wires were connected a little bit different with him and they shorted themselves ..." [laughs]

WEC Bahrain Saturday 026McNISH on racing against Wurz:
"He's massively competitive. And he does dig deep when he needs to. There's been occasions through the course of time where we had quite a few coffee mornings when it was just the two of us on a Sunday tearing through what we'd just gone through at a race.

"I remember us walking back together, actually, after a stint at Sebring, and he was like, well, that was a bloody s**t race. He goes into one room and I go into the other. We agree on Tuesday morning to meet up at the coffee shop after the school run. We dissected it all at the table and whatever else.

"And I appreciated that honesty of him. I could never ask him for more than a centimeter on the track, but I couldn't ask for a better character off the circuit as well. Honest, direct. That is something I very much appreciated. When it was on the circuit, it was no quarter given; when it was off the circuit, it was like we never did any racing, there was no competitive element to it between us."

Sil03FRANCHITTI on Wurz's notorious parties:
"His 40th birthday was fun. That involved me losing my phone in the harbor in Monaco  ...  that was a massive night! Wurzy is a fun guy, and I don't know if fans got to see that side of him like we're able to. He's one of those guys when he is having fun, whatever he does he does 100 percent. His parties, whether it was his 40th or any of the ones that [his wife] Julia and him had at the house, it was 100 percent."

FRANCHITTI on when Wurz isn't partying...
"When he's racing, he's 100 percent serious. He's an operator as well; he's got so many fingers in so many pies now, the business side of the sport too. He's the leader of the Grand Prix Drivers Association; he has his training business ... Outside the sport, he's the same type of personality: always working on something, always advancing something. Whether he's driving or cycling or handling business, there's no mucking about."

ANTHONY DAVIDSON on Wurz's pending retirement and eventual news:
"He was never going to lie to us if we asked him direct question, and I could just sense it as well, that he was not enjoying it as much and his mind was somewhere else. It wasn't a massive surprise to hear the news. He did the right thing, as always, he let his teammates know before he let the world know. So that was cool. We all kept quiet and went along with it. Gave him time. He always does things the right way.

"He will be certainly missed as part of the immediate car crew. I'm not sure what he's going to do, if he is going to stay around at the track or whatever. I'm sure he'll decide in due course. That's the one thing about him, he's an honest guy, he says it how it is, whether you like to hear it or not, and he'll do whatever's best."

VI5L0270DAVIDSON on Wurz's height and his own lack of physical stature:
"He hates it. At least that's what he tells me. Maybe he's trying to make me feel good about all the height I don't have! He's always felt uncomfortable being so tall. Like a lot of tall people, they seem to become the center of attention whenever they are in a crowd. And I don't think he's that comfortable with it. But he uses it cleverly. Big person, comes across with authority ... he uses it well, I would say.

"He always felt uncomfortable and he would look at a photo of us three at Peugeot, Marc Gene, me and him standing alongside each other, and say, 'Oh, God, look how tall I look, that's ridiculous.' And I would say, 'yeah, but look at how small I look, that is ridiculous!' It was funny, we had a lot of fun with that.

"Just before qualifying once, we were about to go out, and the mechanics who had ballasted the cars up for set up, had one bag on the floor that said 25 Kg (55lb). I picked it up because I knew that was the difference between us two in weight. And I gave him the bag and said, 'bloody hell, Alex, imagine that, that is the weight difference between you and I!' He just threw it down: 'I don't need to be reminded ... ' And we had a laugh. It was little things like that. We could joke about it and it was really cool."

FRANCHITTI on Wurz's ... Austrian-ness:
"There was a situation where there was I think eight of us, out riding, a bunch of drivers of different formulas. A couple of pro cyclists. And this white van comes up and almost hits us, so Wurzy and our friend Harry tore off after the driver. I thought, 'crikey, if they catch this guy ...'

Anyway, we get to the top of the hill and they're standing there out of breath. And Harry, the mad Irishman, was going to give this guy a punch. Wurzy was telling us no, that he was going to quote European law to him, that if a group more than six cyclists is together they have to ride side-by-side ...

"I'm thinking, 'right, Wurzy, that will terrify him'. I think Harry had the right idea, but Wurzy felt reciting laws of the road was what he really needed. We had a good laugh at him on that one. They make them different in Austria."

DAVIDSON on having Wurz as a teammate:
"He was a really good. Whoever his teammate was, he totally was on your side. He would never fool with you, he was always on your side, defend you right to the end. If anything happened out on the circuit, it was never your fault, it was always a third party that got involved. He would never point blame at you. I learned a lot from him in that respect during my Peugeot days with him. I still abide to that today with Sebastian [Buemi] and Kazuki [Nakajima]; even with Nicholas Lapierre. Alex would never place blame, which is astounding."

WEC Bahrain Saturday2 010McNISH on the next generation of racing Wurzs:
"The area of Alex that I have always liked and enjoyed is he has a fantastic marriage with Julia. They're kind of chalk and cheese, if you like, but they just work together. As a family, he will do anything with the boys. He's got those three boys, they are little mini Alexes in terms of they're massively outgoing.

One of them is 11 years old, he's in the same class as [McNish's son] Finley. I will tell you what, I went out with that kid and he is fast. He has a competitive little instinct. Like I said, it's like mini little Wurzes. I'm pretty sure they will be starting to drive at some point, not too far away. I don't know what he will be doing, but I think they will be around the circuits as the boys get older."

FRANCHITTI on the news of Wurz's retirement:
"It's funny watching someone like that retire, from a personal point of view, because I've known him pretty much his whole racing career, and to see him retire is like, sh*t, I am getting old! We're getting old!

"I would've loved to have driven at Le Mans last year [with Porsche] before I retired, but I'm completely happy. And I like the fact that Wurzy has done it on his own terms as Allan [McNish] did. Actually, one of them is 6 '5" and Alan is 5 foot nothing! Stature-wise, they are very different. But you might say they are very, very similar. In fact, they are neighbors and friends, which adds to it. They both have a very similar outlook to life. They both understand that there is so much more outside the cockpit.

"And I don't think we've seen the last of him suited up and driving. I know he's restoring one of his dad's rally cars. Alex's dad rallied a Lancia Stratos, which had a very special engine because Stratos is a V6 and was normally 2.4 liters, and this thing was bored out to three liters. I'm hoping to see Wurzy drive that at some point, and I think that would be part of his fun, go out and play on that as well.
"It's a shame to see him stop on one hand, but it's good to see him just doing it on his own terms."

DAVIDSON on Wurz's work ethic:
"That is one thing Alex had from word go. He was such a hard worker: people can see that from the outside, he's such a hard grafter, the work he does with the GPDA, the way he uses Twitter and social media, he's always active. He's always thinking of how to improve some situation. Not even a situation he's necessarily involved with. His brain is always ticking. It is quite clear to see he is a pretty shrewd businessman as well. A skill that many a race driver would never be able to learn, he's got that. So he's got this kind of business mindset.

"The two combined, him behind the wheel and the way that he could always see the bigger picture in terms of it was more than a sport, it was a business as well. That really made him quite unique. That is certainly a skill I do not possess."

97 CAN03McNISH on Wurz's talent as a F1 driver:
"I'm always reticent to rank people against others, but what I can say is that when he was coming through with the momentum he had at Benetton (ABOVE), I don't think he could ever be in a winning situation, even if the car was good, because the politics of the team at the time with [team manager] Flavio Briatore.

"As a general rule, he didn't get the breaks that he probably should've had. He was very loyal to McLaren through their time together, and I think that was a very positive part of Alex. He's extremely loyal. And they were loyal back with the testing they had him doing, but it was something that I think he probably missed an opportunity in other racing roles because he wasn't going to leave them first.

"When he came to Williams, the fact that they wanted to still keep him in different roles and guises said a lot about his value in Formula 1. They appreciated what he had brought to the party, and it went well beyond only driving. But, ultimately, the results he had didn't herald the successes that his talent deserved."

 SBL9650DAVIDSON on racing with Wurz and all it entails:
"I'm glad that he turned his hand to sports cars, that I had the chance to drive with him, and win races with him. We should have won Le Mans together. We won Sebring together. That was my first race in Peugeot. We won many individual races in the ILMC as well.

"I'm really glad I had the time to drive with him and to learn from him, and to have fun with them. There's something people probably don't realize from the outside, he comes across as a very astute, lanky Austrian. Feet firmly on the ground. But he is actually a bloody good giggle as well. Away from the limelight, he's a bloody good giggle.

"And he's very dry. He's got a good handle on the British sense of humor. His wife is British, so he's really got a good handle on the fine details of the British twisted sense of humor. And he can pick up on my humor as well, and react to it, whereas a lot of the other guys don't.

"It's constant, all day, if he's in the right mood, which he normally is. But he can be quite grumpy, that's one thing I think he openly admits. He can be quite a grumpy so and so. But that's normally, ironically, when he gets the best out of himself in the car.

"He's quite a complex bloke. He can be his own worst enemy, or it can completely work for him. It can be the making of him. And he's such an analytical guy like I am. He's constantly analyzing himself, and we analyze, sometimes we sit down and analyze him together, which is really cool. I've never been able to do that with a teammate, ever.

"I think it was after Bahrain two years ago, in 2013, when we were fighting hard for the victory, and I think he had an engine failure behind Sarrazin in the race so we went on to win that race on our car. He should have won in his, but didn't. We came back and we had the winner's trophy, doused in champagne and everything. Feeling pretty good. We walked into the driver's room and he was in there, fed up, grumpy, like you would expect. But he was maybe a bit worse than normal, actually.
I remember saying to him, 'come on, join us.' He said some throwaway comment. And I said, 'don't be so grumpy.' And he just looked at me and he said, 'no, I am allowed to be grumpy, give me this time, please. I'm allowed to be grumpy!' And I said, 'okay, fair enough!'"

DAVY JONES on partnering with Wurz, the rookie, at Le Mans
"When I think of Alex I think of when we tested for the first time at Paul Ricard, around April, for Le Mans in 1996. It was all the drivers: Myself, Manuel Reuter, Michele Alboreto, Pierluigi Martini, Didier Theys, and Alex. My team was Reuter, Martini, and myself, and Alex was in the other. We were there a couple of days, I got to know him, he was young, and I was new to the Joest situation, but had been to Le Mans a bunch of times, and it was really great working with him at that test and feeling out how his mind worked getting ready for his first go at Le Mans.

96 LM 67"We'd talk about something on the car, and then he'd go right out and do it. It was really impressive how his approach was; he learned so fast. So I went to Mr. Joest and asked if he could move Alex over to our car because I thought we'd have a better chance of winning with him there. I'd done a lot of 24-hour races, and it's about working together as a team, it isn't about egos. It's about making that car think the same person's driving it for 24 hours, and to do that, all the drivers have to be on the same page and I knew Alex would help us do that. Mr. Joest understood that, he got that, and moved Alex over and put Pierluigi in the other car.

"Pierluigi put his car on the pole, and led early, but they hit trouble and it was up to us to win. Alex had never been to Le Mans before, but you'd never known he was a rookie. To realize you've shown the world your talent and ability in your first time there, to get a win, was something he deserved and he went on to do so much more."

DAVIDSON on Wurz's F1 career:
"It's funny, we always play him up and we know that he had the most successful Formula 1 career out of the guys at Toyota. He scored multiple podiums in cars that shouldn't have even been on the podium.

"He has always been, as a racer, able to survive in any tricky circumstance. The one that really stands out for me, because I was racing in that race, was Nürburgring in 2007 (BELOW), where it suddenly chucked it down with rain from out of nowhere. Everyone went off in Turn 1, and he managed to survive that. He was battling right at the sharp end for a lot of the race. He drove a great race there.

"Always in any kind of tricky situation he would normally come out of it okay. He was a bit of a survivor, really, in Formula 1. He had speed and he could turn that on quite quickly, effortlessly, without much practice. HYY8P5639e definitely had natural feel, I would say, for where the grip was when he hadn't had much time to practice.

"He would always be quick straight away. And still is today, he's straight out-of-the-box fast; new circuit, he's on it straight away. That is one thing he had in Formula 1. When he stepped into the McLaren at Imola in 2005 (ABOVE, as a replacement for the injured Juan Pablo Montoya), he got a podium from just stepping in as a reserve driver and being right on it. That's what comes to mind with Alex; when he had a car, a proper car, he was up with the best in Formula 1.

"Races like Imola really stand out to me because I know - I've been in that position myself - how hard that is. Even though he knew the car from all his testing, it's still not the same stepping into the thing when you're halfway through a season and everybody else is in the full swing of things and you just jump in for one weekend. That's not easy. To score a podium under those circumstances was a lot of pressure, and he would always seem to survive those pressured situations.

Clearly, there was a lot of skill there. I think apart from those McLaren days, he really didn't have the equipment to show exactly what he could do."

McNISH on the recent spate of sports car driver retirements:
"I think all of us are a similar age with a similar timespan in the sport. Myself, Tommy boy [Tom Kristensen], Dindo [Capello], and now Alex. I suppose there's a point where you run out of energy. Alex said something that I can totally, I can 100 percent understand when he said, when he was leading last year - which was his year to win Le Mans again; he should have three titles. They were leading that one, lost it in cruel fashion, and he said that one hurt, which I can understand. Le Mans can take it out of you there.

"But I think that, ultimately, it becomes, it just becomes a point where has a very sane, logical view of his world and Alex and I are quite similar in this. He makes very clear and conscious decisions and you can take away the romantic emotional opinions and reasons to give it another go, or you can realize the time is now and decide to make that change now. And you also have got a lot of opportunity around the corner, and that is something I think Alex is well-equipped to have a very long career in the sport away from actually just wearing the helmet."

DAVIDSON on how to extract the best performances from Wurz:
"I would always try to make him angry! Yeah, I would always try and wind him up, somehow. It wasn't easy because he is quite cool, quite a cool cat. But if you could just make him ... normally politics would wind him up. There was always some kind of political problem on the team or by the teammates; something someone said that would darken his mood.

"It was like, he would normally get himself into a real tiz, basically, because of some situation and then you would see fireworks from him. He wouldn't even know where it came from.

So these kinds of moments were Wurzy at his best. I got to see that a couple of times. They really stood out. That was pretty cool to watch. I would always try to make him a bit angry. I kind of knew in the end, and even today as a competitor in the other car, I can see when he's on it or when he's going to be on it, sometimes even before he realizes that he's going to be on it. He's right there, and he's glowing mad. It was brilliant."

McNISH on Wurz's achievements as he prepares for the next chapter:
"I'll tell you what, he's a multi-talented character, if you stop and realize he also painted his own helmet then raced with it. He was BMX champion, Le Mans winner, all the various other bits and pieces that he's done. Never mind he's not a bad husband by any sense of things, and a pretty bloody good father. He's done all right for himself. Despite the fact that he's Austrian, he's done okay for himself."

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