• Nicholas Latifi was confirmed in Abu Dhabi as Williams’ 2020 replacement for Robert Kubica. The F2 runner-up will race alongside George Russell (above) in the FW43 in exchange for a greater extent of financial backing than Kubica was bringing.
• Renault has announced further changes to its technical team following a very disappointing 2019 campaign in which it failed in its pre-season objectives of closing the gap to the top teams and was beaten to fourth in the constructors’ championship by its own customer, McLaren. Following last month’s news of the departure of Pete Machin (to be replaced by Dirk de Beer), technical director Nick Chester has left after 19 years with the team. Pat Fry, already announced as joining, should be free to take Chester’s place after the terms of his gardening leave with McLaren have been agreed.
• The FIA has tweaked the regulations to ensure that the physical chequered flag will once more denote the end of a race rather than the computerised lap count. This follows an input error in Japan this year which led the race to officially end one lap before the chequer was shown, changing the ninth and 10th place positions.
• Roger Penske has expressed an interest in organising and running a second American Grand Prix, which would mean it would return to Indianapolis. Indy last hosted the American GP in 2007. Penske is believed to be in discussion with Liberty about the race.
• Toto Wolff has described the chances of Lewis Hamilton leaving Mercedes for Ferrari in 2021 as ‘about 25 per cent’ after it was reported that Hamilton had twice this year met with ultimate Ferrari boss John Elkann. Wolff himself has been the subject of conjecture, with talk that he is next in line to take over from Chase Carey as F1 Chief Executive Officer.
• If Lawrence Stroll’s plans to buy a controlling interest in Aston Martin Lagonda come to fruition, his Racing Point F1 team will become the official works Aston Martin F1 team from 2021.
• Honda’s extension of its commitment to the Red Bull group by just one year, to the end of 2021, has led to inevitable speculation about the Japanese firm’s longer-term F1 plans.
• “We have no need to benchmark George,” said Toto Wolff on being asked if this was the purpose of Williams driver George Russell being drafted in alongside Valtteri Bottas for Mercedes’ post-race Abu Dhabi test. “We know how good he is.” Bottas drove the car on the first day, Russell on the second. They each set fastest times of the day, with Bottas recording a best of 1min 37.124sec and Russell 1min 37.204sec.
Letters from readers, March 1982
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Sir, The British motor industry is rapidly losing ground on export markets, but with very few exceptions the big manufacturers appear to adopt a policy of dictating what the purchaser…
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