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GP Week : Issue 208
F1 >>> nEWs mARussIAN ROulETTE some of Grand Prix racing’s dirty laundry – in particular, Marussia’s – received a rare public airing at spa, with the team seemingly playing musical chairs with its drivers. Prior to the Belgian GP weekend the beleaguered team named Alexander Rossi as its race driver in place of Max Chilton for the event, and even issued a statement with quotes from the displaced Englishman. The team said that the British driver “volunteered to step out of his race seat for this weekend’s race in Spa, Belgium, to allow the team to attract much needed funds by selling his seat” . Rossi drove in Free Practice 1 on Friday morning, but next time the car went out, Chilton was back at the wheel, where he remained for the rest of the weekend. The team did not explain what had happened, and Chilton did not shed much light on it either. “It has been a busy 24 hours and lots of things have changed,” he said. “There have been lots of rumours that aren’t true, they’re the first thing people think of. There’s a lot more going on behind the scenes. “That’s why what happened yesterday was created, but that changed and that’s why I got put back in the car. “What goes on in an F1 team every day, there are lots of people and lots of things are said, and lots of things progress. Lots has gone on. I can’t express what, but it’s not what everyone seems to think has gone on.” It appears that the financial input that Chilton’s backers bring to the team was running behind schedule, and the whole matter could have been a prompt to get them back on-schedule. Those circumstances, and the likelihood that second-year driver Chilton does not wish to see himself labelled as a ‘pay driver’, would fit with the scenario. What is clear is that the only person who came out of the mess looking anything approaching dignified is Rossi. The American remains linked to the team, but there are reports that he could join the Haas team in the future. The Grand Prix career of Andre Lotterer appears to have over after the triple Le Mans winner’s short debut at spa. Lotterer replaced Kamui Kobayashi in the green car in Belgium and after retiring on the second lap with an engine problem, he looks to be on the outer. The team, which is under new ownership after the departure of founder Tony Fernandes, is believed to be talking to the management of Carlos Sainz Jr and fellow Spaniard Roberto Merhl. The 23-year-old, who races in the World Series by Renault Series, told Spanish media that he is “likely” to be with the team for the next race at Monza, while Sainz, son of WRC legend Carlos Sainz, may also be in line to drive in two of the remaining seven events. Whatever, it seems a shame if Lotterer does not return. At 32, the rookie out-qualified his well-funded and vastly more experienced teammate Marcus Ericsson and did nothing much wrong over the weekend. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that he could return to the cockpit at Suzuka, where he has a lot of racing miles in the Japanese Super Formula series. NO bETTER AT CATERhAm at BriEFly » Sebastian Vettel used his fifth engine in Belgium. The World Champion has had the majority of Red Bull’s engine dramas this season and the team is thought to be considering a new, sixth engine for Monza, where the likelihood of an early Safety Car negates the loss of position of a 10-place grid penalty. “That is hypothetical,” Vettel told the German media at Spa, “but we could most likely live with a penalty.” » One way around an engine penalty might be to go electric. RBR raised an eyebrow in the pitlane before the weekend, with its pit crew practicing its stops on an electric- powered RB9. The car was fitted with an RB10 nose and went backwards and forwards, silently, at the press of a button. There are also suggestions than the car slices, dices, juliennes vegetables and comes with a set of steak knives... » A Charlie Whiting-led delegation has confirmed that the new Sochi Autodrom is ready to host its first F1 event. The delegation visited the track on August 19 and has came away impressed with the progress that the circuit has made. Michael Masi of Australian ASN CAMS, which has been charged with providing training and support for the event, is due to start work at Sochi later this week. » Bernie Ecclestone has returned to the executive board of Formula One’s parent company. The 83-year-old stepped down from Delta Topco earlier this year while he was engaged in his corruption trial in Germany, which Ecclestone recently settled with a $100 million payment to the Bavarian state. 13 GPWEEK.com // 13 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: