Contrasting backdrops for Lewis Hamilton...
...and Haas driver Romain Grosjean.
A new name in Mercedes' junior driver programme as Briton George Russell signs up with F1's world champions. The 18-year-old joins Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon on the prestigious roster after a third place finish in the 2016 European F3 championship.
He has also now landed a GP3 drive for 2017 with serial title winners ART. (Full story)
Can Haas avoid 'Second Season Syndrome'? What will the 2017 cars be like to drive? And just what has gone wrong at his old team Renault?
Kevin Magnussen talks to Sky Sports News HQ's Craig Slater from his new team's Banbury HQ.
When world champions meet...
Yes, that's Nico Rosberg with former boxing champ Vitali Klitschko!
Jenson Button has made no secret of his desire to compete in rallycross events in 2017 and the former F1 world champion has got the ball rolling by sampling a Honda Civic Coupe in America ahead of a trip to Miami for the Race of Champions.
Kimi Raikkonen has been appointed as his country's first ever Ambassador for Sport by the Finnish government.
The Ferrari driver received the honour from Prime Minister Juhu Sipila at a Sport Gala in Helsinki on Tuesday night.
“I’m not that used to making formal speeches,” said Raikkonen. “But I would like to wish all the best to the winners in every category, as well as those who missed out on the prizes this year.
"I would stress how important it has been in my case to have the support of my family and help from trustworthy colleagues and the people within the Ferrari Team, with whom I have worked for so many years now.”
Congrats to F1's Iceman!
Williams made Mercedes "feel a little bit of pain" when negotiating over Valtteri Bottas's release, according to deputy team principal Claire Williams.
Bottas was allowed to leave the Grove for the world champions but only after six weeks of talks, with Williams reportedly receiving a significant discount on their Mercedes engines as well as other commercial benefits.
"When you've made your driver line-up and you've put plans in place around that pairing, that's a really difficult position for any team," Williams told Sky Sports News HQ. "Of course you're going to make it work for you otherwise you wouldn't agreed to it.
"We've put in some good commercial terms to make Mercedes feel a little bit of pain."
Having your cake and eating it? We're sure there's not too much of this kind of luxury for the F1 drivers in pre-season as they prepare for some of the most physically-demanding cars in years.
No online-only launch for McLaren this year with their new 2017 car to be revealed at an event at their Woking base on February 24.
And just what colour will the new challenger be?
After new chief Zak Brown suggested McLaren's 2017 livery was "exciting", and then the team's tweet confirming the launch date contained orange lettering, the rumour mill has put two and two together to trigger speculation that they could be going back to future in the new season by reincorporating their historic orange paintwork into the design.
Orange was the team's colour between 1968 and 1971 and was again rolled out sporadically for pre-season testing in both the 1990s and early 2000s. A mix of black and grey/silver colours have been associated with McLaren's cars in recent time.
Former Mercedes team-mates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were at the same IWC event in Geneva last night.
And no, Niki Lauda didn't have to keep them apart!
Red Bull have confirmed that Pierre Gasly will race in Super Formula Japan in 2017.
Gasly, who will follow in fellow GP2 champion Stoffel Vandoorne's footsteps, was in the running for a Toro Rosso seat before the team confirmed Daniil Kvyat's stay.
"It is all going to be very different," said Gasly. "I have no experience with the car or the tracks and I know that the Japanese culture, philosophy, way of working, just about everything is different.
"It is a fantastic new challenge and I love that."
Gasly retains his Red Bull Junior status alongside Niko Kari, who moves from European F3 to GP3 with Arden, and Richard Verschoor, who steps up from Formula 4 to the Formula Renault Eurocup 2.0.
New to the setup, meanwhile, are American racer Neil Verhagen and British youngster Dan Ticktum, both of whom will also race in the Formula Renault Eurocup 2.0 series.
Sergio Sette Camara and Luis Leeds have lost their place in the line-up.
Can you see sweat on those brows? See how the drivers are ramping up their training to deal with the demands of what are expected to be F1 2017's faster, tougher machines.
The first glimpse of the new number adorning the Mercedes in 2017 https://twitter.com/MercedesAMGF1/status/821628262287900672
Nico Rosberg believes Valtteri Bottas is a "great solution" for Mercedes and is looking forward to watch the man who replaced him up against Lewis Hamilton in 2017.
Rosberg retired after winning the title last season and his former team opted for Bottas as their new driver after six weeks of negotiations with Williams.
"I think it's great news for the team," Rosberg said in a Facebook video from an IWC event in Geneva. "I'm happy that they found a great solution quite quickly, that's awesome.
"I'm sure he's going to do a really, really good job and he'll blend in well."
But can Bottas trouble Hamilton as much as Rosberg did?
"I'm going to be watching TV and I'm looking forward to seeing how Valtteri gets on," the German added. "Especially against Lewis because he is an awesome reference point, he's one of the best out there and one of the best of all time.
"It's not going to be easy for sure, so it's going to be interesting to follow."
Remember this? How could you forget!
A year to the week on, a reminder of how Max Verstappen spent some of his last F1 winter break...
Carlos Sainz is "angry" that his 2016 performances with Toro Rosso didn't lead to a bigger drive this season, but believes he will get a shot at a Red Bull seat in the future.
The Spaniard was one of last season's most improved stars but will stay in the Red Bull stable for at least one more year after both he and his team rejected an offer from Renault, while Mercedes opted for Valtteri Bottas to replace Nico Rosberg.
"It's complicated," Sainz told Spanish publication El Pais. "Making a year in Formula 1 like the one I got to do is very difficult. That's precisely why I'm angry that I did not jump forward.
"We had a very interesting offer from Renault that in the end was rejected by me as much as Red Bull. In any other year they would have given me a seat at Red Bull. But now the team is busy, they are very happy with the two drivers.
"That's life, and Formula 1 is so complicated to understand. Just have patience. It will come."
Speaking about the reported interest from Mercedes, Sainz added that it never got in his head:
"My career is led by Red Bull and they want me to continue in Toro Roso and I also want to continue one more year here. My chances of going to Mercedes were one in a hundred so I did not think about it." (Full story - external link, in Spanish)
A welcome to Mercedes from the three-time world champion...
Toto Wolff has confirmed to Sky Sports News HQ he has stepped down from Valtteri Bottas's management after signing the Finn as Mercedes' new race driver for 2017.
"It would be a conflict of interest if you are
involved in the management of a driver and equally being his boss and running
the team," the Mercedes motorsport chief told SSN.
"It’s something we agreed a long time ago, that there wouldn’t be any
driver I was looking after driving any Mercedes racing car, and that’s what’s
The seat he vacated in December has now been filled, but Nico Rosberg will still have links to Mercedes via a new ambassadorial role from 2017.
Rosberg's first engagement? An event alongside former team-mate Lewis Hamilton in Geneva on Tuesday.
"I think we are going to be a really strong pairing": Words of optimism surrounding his new partnership with Lewis Hamilton from Valteri Bottas as he was unveiled at Mercedes' HQ in Brackley.
The Finn, speaking to his new workforce, continued: "I can't make to start working properly. There’s enough time to get everything sorted before testing
"My goal is to immediately in the first race to get all the points available that there's possible in the car." (Full story)
It was Williams who confirmed the news of Valtteri Bottas's arrival at Mercedes as they confirmed the return of Felipe Massa in his place after the briefest of F1 retirements.
READ THE FULL STORY HERE
Valtteri Bottas joins Mercedes for 2017 as Lewis Hamilton’s
Felipe Massa comes out of retirement to rejoin Williams
The 2017 driver jigsaw is falling into place, but so are the car launch dates.
McLaren-Honda are the latest to confirm their schedule, with their challenger to be revealed on the same day as Ferrari!
Sky Sports News HQ's Craig Slater reports that now that Pascal Wehrlein's future has been sealed, the other remaining pieces of the 2017 grid jigsaw should fall into place.
"Wehrlein was Mercedes insurance policy if they could’t get Valtteri Bottas to partner Lewis Hamilton next season so the fact they have let him go means they are absolutely certain that Bottas has put pen to paper," he says.
"So I expect him to be announced as Hamilton’s
partner imminently, and that also means Felipe Massa will come out of retirement at Williams."
Mercedes junior Pascal Wehrlein may have missed out on Nico Rosberg's seat, which should be filled by Valtteri Bottas shortly, but says he is happy to join a Sauber team on the up.
“I am very delighted at being a part of the Sauber F1 Team," he said. "It is a new challenge in a new team, and I am really excited and looking forward to this new adventure. Our objective is to establish ourselves in the mid-field and to score points on a regular basis.
"That being said, I will do my best to support Sauber. Now I am looking forward to meeting everyone in the team and to tackling the preparations for the 2017 season. I want to say a big thank you to Sauber for trusting in me and giving me this great chance. And surely, a huge thanks also goes to Mercedes for the support.”
Team boss Monisha Kaltenborn added: “We are very pleased to confirm Pascal Wehrlein as our second race driver for the 2017 season. Pascal has shown his talent throughout his career – in single seater racing as well as in the DTM.
Last year in his rookie Formula 1 season, he proved his potential by scoring one point in the Austrian GP in Spielberg. There is surely more to come from Pascal, and we want to give him the chance to further grow and learn at the pinnacle of motorsport.
"I am confident Marcus and Pascal will form a solid combination for 2017.” (Full story)
The 2017 driver market is up and running, folks...
Pascal Wehrlein has joined Sauber!
Lewis Hamilton is back in the UK, and appears to be doing some sightseeing...
Rob Smedley has been the man closest to Felipe Massa throughout his Formula 1 career with Ferrari and Williams, so who better to give their opinion on the Brazilian's possible comeback?
Williams' head of vehicle performance was asked by Sky Sports News HQ about Massa, who is in line to return to the team should Valtteri Bottas complete a move to Mercedes.
"If he were to make a comeback then I'm fully on board that he would do an absolutely brilliant job," said Smedley.
"He's not only got that speed which is still highly relevant in Formula 1, but he's also got a huge amount of experience and his input into brand new technical regulations and large changes we make would be a great asset to any team."
Red Bull have no concerns they will be affected by fallout from Ferrari's query over the use of hydraulic suspension systems in 2017.
Ferrari wrote to FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting before Christmas to question the use of such 'trick' systems in certain circumstances, with Whiting replaying that certain arrangements would not be legal in his eyes.
But asked by Sky Sports News HQ if it could cause any problems for Red Bull, Newey replied: "We don’t believe so."
Outgoing Mercedes technical chief Paddy Lowe would be a "fantastic" addition to Williams' line-up, according to Claire Williams, amid expectations the Briton will join the Grove team.
Lowe was placed on gardening leave by Mercedes last week and all pointers suggest he will join Williams for the second time in his career once contractually free to do so later in 2017.
“We obviously need a technical director now that Pat Symonds has departed the team that will come in and put us back to where our ambitions lie at Williams and that is to win races and world championships,” she told Sky Sports News HQ.
“Of course someone like Paddy now that he is available is going to be appealing to us. He has driven that team to three world championship titles in three consecutive years. Of course he would be someone who has at the top of his list, he would be a fantastic addition. He started his career at Williams and what team wouldn’t want someone like Paddy Lowe.”
Ferrari would roll out the "red carpet" for Mick Schumacher, the son of the team's most successful driver Michael, to join their driver academy.
Schumacher Jr, 17, is moving up to European Formula 3 for the 2017 season after a year in Formula 4 and Massimo Rivola, the manager of Ferrari's driver academy, was quoted as saying by Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport: "Obviously we follow him.
"And this year we will have the opportunity to stay very close to Mick, because he will be teammate of our FDA driver [Guan Yu] Zhou in the Prema team. About his future, I don't know what Mick will decide to do. But if he would like to enter the FDA programme, he will find a red carpet."
Michael Schumacher claimed 72 of his 91 grands prix victories with Ferrari, winning five consecutive world titles between 2000 and 2004. (Full story - external site)
How's the neck holding up, Max?https://twitter.com/Max33Verstappen/status/819956782567215104
His first week as a 32-year-old appears to have been a good one for Lewis Hamilton...https://twitter.com/LewisHamilton/status/819952757620752387
Esteban Ocon also claims Manor "deserve" a future in Formula 1 after the team helped him make his mark on the sport last season.
Manor's operating company, Just Racing Services Ltd, was placed into administration earlier this month and the deadline to find a new buyer is January 20.
"They really deserve a future in Formula 1," Ocon told Sky Sports News HQ. "What they did
with us in 2016 was a great achievement. We finished 13th in Abu
Dhabi, Pascal scored a point in Austria, I was 50 laps in the points in Sao Paulo.
"The car was very competitive and with the small budget they had, it was very
Ocon is, meanwhile, one of the few drivers to have beaten Max Verstappen over a season having won the European Formula Three Championship ahead of the now Red Bull driver in 2014.
"I don’t have any fears [about Max]," added Ocon. "I’ve already banged wheels with him
a few times, even in karting we’ve been racing together. So I know him quite
well, of course he was not an easy guy to beat.
"But if I had the same car or a
car that could compete with his, I would not be scared."
Esteban Ocon says a Mercedes promotion in the future would be "logical" as he prepares for his first full season in Formula 1 with Force India.
Both Ocon and fellow Silver Arrows junior Pascal Wehrlein were linked with the seat left by Nico Rosberg for 2017, though Valtteri Bottas seems certain to join the world champions from Williams.
Asked if he and Wehrlein would be ready for Mercedes by Sky Sports News HQ's Craig Slater, the Frenchman said: "I don’t really know about this but for sure it’s the logical
way – Mercedes want to prepare us for the future.
"At the moment I really want to focus here on
Force India, you never know what the future brings."
Speaking in detail about his new team, who sealed their best ever constructors' finish last time, Ocon says he has joined a "family" while he wants to become France's first Grand Prix winner since Olivier Panis in 1996.
a very small team so it feels really like a family. The atmosphere is great
between the people, everyone is getting along well and they also welcome me
very well in the team.
"On the other side hey are also very motivated, everyone
works with passion and they really want to bring the best car for us to have on
definitely my target to at some point win a Grand Prix. First, I need to learn
a lot during winter testing and the preparation here to be ready for the first
race but after that, for sure, I want to win a Grand Prix. I’m not here just to
Jonathan Palmer has added Donington Park to the list of British circuits his Motor Sport Vision (MSV) company owns.
The 60-year-old and father of current Formula 1 driver Jolyon also operates Brands Hatch, Oulton Park and many more. MSV have agreed to lease the Donington Park Estate for an initial 21-year period.
"Donington is a good British circuit that deserves further investment, energy and expertise in order to make it truly outstanding," said Palmer, who also competed in F1 between 1983 and 1989.
"MSV will provide this. We plan a great new era for Donington, with some exciting new events and much enhanced quality of experience."
There is still no suggestion that the British GP could take place at Donington despite Silverstone's financial worries - and Sky F1's Damon Hill's excitement!
Zak Brown hope fans are "excited" by the look of the 2017 McLaren when it is unveiled before pre-season testing.
Although no launch date has yet been set, the team's new executive director confirmed he had signed off the car's livery with the team's workforce given the first look at the car.
"I've just signed off on the new car livery, so I think the
fans are going to be excited about what the car looks like, both technically
and visually," Brown said at the Autosport International Show.
"[We will launch] right before the Spain test, no specific date yet. But we've
shown it to the shop floor and are very exited about our future."
French daily L'Équipe have described the departure of Renault team boss Fred Vasseur as a "terrible blow" for the French-owned team, little over two months before the 2017 season begins.
Vasseur's immediate exit was in the end inevitable according to the publication after tensions and differences of opinion soon arose between the Frenchman and countryman Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport's managing director, last year. Vasseur then decided to quit after the Christmas break.
The newspaper reports the team's new organisational structure will be confirmed when they launch their 2017 car on February 21. (Full story, in French - external site)
After holidaying in Indonesia, Stoffel Vandoorne is back in Europe and fully in training mode for his first Formula 1 season.
The McLaren driver is currently on an intensive week of fitness work, including biking and incline trekking, in Marbella.https://twitter.com/svandoorne/status/819246162658131974
He may have retired from F1, but world champion Nico Rosberg remains in the wider sporting eye with the German nominated for a prestigious Laureus World Sports Award. Rosberg is up against the likes of Leicester City and Iceland's international football team in the Breakthrough of the Year category.His former Mercedes team are also up for Team of the Year. The winners are announced in Monaco on February 14.
“2016 was a really satisfying year for me, both for my Formula 1 career and for my personal goals for the future," said Rosberg. "To be nominated for a Laureus Award by the world’s media is a very pleasing way to celebrate moving on to something new in my life. Laureus Awards are really prestigious because of the calibre of the Academy Members who vote for them, but, as a Laureus Ambassador for Sport for Good, for me it’s also about the amazing work that we do for disadvantaged kids around the world.”
After a total of five years at Force India, new Renault signing Nico Hulkenberg has used an interesting analogy to explain the reasons behind the switch for 2017.
He told the official F1 website: "After my long ‘marriage’ with Force India I felt I needed a new girlfriend.
"Jokes aside, I am deeply grateful to Force India and left on an absolute high note. We had the most successful year in the history of Force India: P4 in the constructors’ championship. That almost felt like dreaming the impossible dream - and the dream came true! Nevertheless, I am convinced that switching to a works team is the right step for me to achieve new successes. Both Renault and myself are challengers with good potential.
"At Renault the next few years will be about turning a participant into a real contender - one that makes use of the advantages of a manufacturer in the best way possible to achieve the racing success of the past. And believe me, we will!"
Hulkenberg's Renault deal was confirmed in October, but did Mercedes subsequently sound the German out about replacing the retired Nico Rosberg?
"Given the situation as it was at that very moment, there was no thought of a switch in any way or form as I was already in love with my new ‘girlfriend’ Renault," he replied. (Full interview - external site)
Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne has set a timeframe for his retirement.
The 64-year-old said at the Detroit Motor Show he planned to step down from his roles in early 2019, when he will be 66. He succeeded Luca di Montezemolo as Ferrari president in late 2014 having headed up the Fiat-Chrysler empire, the Italian marque's parent company, since 2009. (Full story - external site)
More management changes in Formula 1 as Fred Vasseur leaves his team principal role at Renault after just one season. What lies behind the change?
F1 drivers seem to be living in the gym at the moment https://twitter.com/KevinMagnussen/status/819101762447622144
Mercedes have now confirmed the departure of Paddy Lowe.
The team's executive director (technical) now begins a "period of garden leave" ahead of what is expected to be a return to Williams, where he started his F1 career.
James Allison is expected to arrive at Mercedes later in 2017 once he has served out his own gardening leave after departing Ferrari last summer. (Full story).
Mercedes boss Dieter Zetsche has admitted he thought it was going to be another Lewis Hamilton problem when he saw that Toto Wolff was ringing him to reveal Nico Rosberg's retirement.
Zetsche said he was stepping out of the shower when he looked it his phone, telling Autocar: “I saw it was Toto and I thought, oh again, something with Lewis! But then I got the news. And I did not expect that, I must say.”
However, he did respect Rosberg's decision.
“Obviously, one [Hamilton] is saying 'I want more and more and I want to break more records and make history'," he added. "And the other one [Rosberg] is saying 'well, I finally fulfilled my life dream and what can be on top of that?', and both approaches are legitimate.”
"It would have been easier and more pleasant for us to have two world champions in our team for the season to come - not necessarily less fight but this was part of the entertainment, and now we need a new driver and that’s how life works.
"And so I was not insulted or totally disappointed. I respected his decision." (Full story - external link)
Bernie Ecclestone says he understands Nico Rosberg's reasons for retiring from Formula 1 and insists the world champion's "bold decision" helps the sport.
"He has done his job," the F1 supremo told Sport Bild. "Like most other drivers, who never manage to do it, he wanted to become world champion and he has the title now. Why should he continue? I can understand him.
"By making such a bold decision it helps Formula 1. It shows he has a clever head on his shoulders. He has achieved his goal and how can anyone blame him for longing to do something else in life? This is very adult and now Lewis [Hamilton] will have to do without his revenge [in 2017]. It is not Nico's problem."
Ecclestone added that he was happy to see Rosberg walk away from F1 with a clean bill of health after past tragedies:
"I'm glad they can step out of their own accord. In the old days, we lost driver for other reasons because they were killed in accidents. Therefore, these resignations are joyous events for me." (Full story - external link, in German)
Esteban Gutierrez, dropped by Haas after failing to secure a point in 2016, appears to have a drawn a line under his chances of gaining one of the few remaining 2017 F1 race seats - and perhaps even beyond - after signing a deal to compete in some Formula E races. His home Mexican ePrix takes place on April 1. https://twitter.com/FIAformulaE/status/818496888852856837
It's going to be a long winter at Red Bull at this rate!https://twitter.com/redbullracing/status/818467863329587200