Adrian Sutil revealed as new Williams reserve driver

Williams Martini Racing has announced that Adrian Sutil will be their reserve driver for the 2015 season.

Sutil returned to Formula One in 2013 following a year away and has raced for Force India (previously Spyker) and Sauber since his debut in 2007. He will spend time in the team’s simulator to ensure he is fully accustomed to the FW37’s controls and procedures if he is required to step into the cockpit. The announcement comes following Valtteri Bottas’ withdrawal from the Australian Grand Prix. While it was too late to bring in a replacement then, the team’s Technical Director Pat Symonds confirmed that Susie Wolff was the team’s test driver and not their reserve driver.

“I’m very proud to be a part of such a famous and great F1 team,” Sutil said of the announcement. “To work for Sir Frank Williams and his team means a lot to me. I would like to thank everyone at WIlliams for their belief in my qualities and the opportunity to work with such a successful and competitive outfit.”

“I’m delighted to have Adrian join our stable of drivers for the 2015 season,” Team Principal Sir Frank Williams said. “Adrian brings extensive racing experience, having competed in 128 Formula One races during his career. Having most recently raced during the 2014 season also gives him excellent knowledge of the current generation of race car and new Hybrid power units. The fight for a top Constructors’s Championship position will be intense this season, therefore we have selected a driver with recent race experience and are confident that if the need arose, he would be a solid pair of hands to race the FW37 and assist our 2015 campaign.”

Bottas has been cleared to race this weekend but has been informed that if the problem reappears he is to stop.

Fernando Alonso and Valtteri Bottas cleared to race by FIA

Both Fernando Alonso and Valtteri Bottas will return to action for their respective teams at this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

Alonso was forced to sit out the entire Australian Grand Prix weekend due to the concussion he sustained during testing. Bottas pulled out on the morning of the race due to back problems but both drivers will return to their cockpits this weekend.

Statements put out by the FIA read as follows:

In accordance with normal procedures, McLaren-Honda [Williams-Martini] driver Fernando Alonso [Valtteri Bottas] was this morning examined by the FIA Medical Delegate and Chief Medical Officer at the Sepang Circuit Medical Centre. During the examination the driver passed all mandatory fitness tests and has thus been declared fit to race in this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

An addition to Bottas’ statement said:

The driver has been informed that in case of a recurrence of pain or any abnormal feeling he must stop at the earliest opportunity.

Alonso also took part in the Drivers’ Press Conference where he faced a number of questions about his accident. He rebuked rumours that he had woken up in 1995 speaking Italian after the incident. He also explained that his steering locked just before the accident. The Malaysian Grand Prix has been good for Alonso in the past – he took his first ever pole position back in 2003 and has won the race three times. He won it for Renault in 2005 before going on to lead home a McLaren 1-2 in 2007. He won the race for Ferrari in 2012. It was a difficult start to the 2015 campaign for McLaren, however, as they qualified on the back row of the grid and Kevin Magnussen’s engine let go on his way to the grid for the start of the race. There is rain forecast for the weekend which could help McLaren get closer than they might be otherwise.

William Dunlop and Guy Martin to race at Cookstown 100

William Dunlop and Guy Martin will both race at the Cookstown 100 in April it has been confirmed.

The Tyco BMW team’s new bikes will make their Irish road racing debut at the Orritor circuit on the 24th and 25th April. Dunlop raced their last year, impressing in both Superbike races and only missing out on a victory in the Cookstown 100 feature race by corrected time. Martin missed the event due to endurance racing commitments.

“Supporting our local event is always of paramount importance when the calendar allows,” Team Manager Philip Neill said. “We are always very aware of our local supporters and how little they get to see us race at home these days, due to our British championship commitments. Taking that into consideration and with Cookstown being right on our doorstep, it’s always a pleasure to turn out at the event, which is well organised and has a great atmosphere being the opening Irish national event of the season.”

Having missed the event last year, Martin is making a return to the race. “Cookstown is always a great way to blow off the winter cobwebs and having already tested the BMW in Spain, I’m really looking forward to it now,” he explained. “I missed last year and quite a bit of good racing from what I hear, so it’ll be a good way to roll out the big BMW for the first time. It’ll be mint and I’m sure a few of the other top boys will turn up for a decent bit of racing.” Martin will also race in the Spring Cup event at Oliver’s Mount in Scarborough on April 10th and 11th.

Dunlop will be appearing at the Cookstown 100 for a second time with Tyco, albeit on a different bike this time round. “Although we did have some success [last year], I was disappointed to lose out on the big bike win last year on corrected time,” he said. “It’s a great incentive to go back to Cookstown next month – it is a great little circuit and the Club put on a top event, so I’ll be doing my best to try and notch up my first win for Tyco BMW.”

“We had a great test in Spain recently and I really enjoyed riding the S1000RR, so it’s time to add in a few lumps and bumps at a national road race,” he concluded. “I’m sure we can put  on a decent show and the fans turn out in force to see us.”

Adderly Fong joins Lotus as Development Driver

The Lotus F1 Team has added Adderly Fong to its development driver line-up.

He will undertake a driver development programme as well as completing simulator work for the team. He will balance his duties with racing in GP3 and GT Asia this season.

The Hong Kong born racer has previously tested in Formula One when he drove the Sauber last year. His racing history includes winning the Audi R8 LMS Cup China in 2013 and third in the British Formula Three International Series in 2012. He has also taken part in Le Mans, raced at Macau, and Formula Renault.

“This is a great opportunity to further my racing career,” Fong said of the news. “I’ll be able to learn how an F1 team operates during race weekends as an integral part of the team and these invaluable experiences are going to lay the foundations of my future development as an F1 driver. I am happy but I am not going to get carried away, for this is only the first of many steps.”

Fong hopes to become the first Chinese driver to compete in a Formula 1 Grand Prix. “There is great potential for me with Lotus F1 Team so I can’t wait to get underway in my new role.”

He will join Lotus’ recent recruit Carmen Jorda in the development driver line-up. GP2 champion Jolyon Palmer is their test driver. “It’s great to have Adderly join the team,” CEO Matthew Carter said. “We have an aggressive development programme with the E23 so he will be able to both learn from our engineers and race drivers as well as contribute to our car through the course of the season. We have a very strong driver line-up which Adderly will join so he has a great opportunity to learn ahead of him. We are committed to moving back up the competitive order and Adderly’s work behind the scenes will be invaluable in assisting us to achieve this.”

Dan Kneen secures Padgetts Racing ride for 2015

After his deal with Millsport Suzuki fell through last month, talented rider Dan Kneen was faced with the prospect of not having a ride for the 2015 road racing season.

As the Isle of Man TT held its press launch on the island last night it was announced that Kneen would be joining Bruce Anstey and Cameron Donald at Padgetts Racing. “I’ve gone from having nothing to securing a ride with one of the best teams in the paddock in a short space of time,” Kneen said of the news. “I can’t thank Clive [Padgett] enough for giving me this opportunity and I am really excited about getting the chance to work with him and his crew. It’s one of those teams that you always look at when you are coming through the ranks, hoping that one day you might get the chance to ride for them, and my chance has come and I intend to take it with both hands.”

Kneen appeared on stage with new team-mate Anstey at the TT launch last night. The duo will be joined at the TT by Aussie rider Donald in the Supersport class. “We are delighted to be working with Dan Kneen in 2015. He is a rider we have long admired and who we feel has shown great potential, often without the chance to really show what he is capable of,” Team Owner Clive Padgett said. “We see this as the start of what will hopefully turn into a long relationship and we want to be part of Dan realising his potential over the next few years.”

Kneen convincingly won the Irish Road Race Superbike Championship last year and he also took his first International road race victory when he narrowly beat Dean Harrison – by 0.001s! – in the Superstock race at the Ulster Grand Prix. He placed in the top five in both the Irish Road Race Supersport and Supertwin championships as well. “Last year I had a brilliant year,” he said at last night’s launch. “I was riding well and now I’ve got this equipment and the back-up and everything – it’s just going to be easier for me.”

Kneen will also race for Padgetts at the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix.

Manor F1 confirm driver line-up

The Manor F1 Team has confirmed its driver line-up for the Australian Grand Prix. The team – who recently exited administration to make a surprise return to the grid – has revealed that Roberto Merhi will line up alongside existing driver Will Stevens in the “opening rounds”.

The Spaniard finished third in the 2014 Formula Renault 3.5 championship taking three wins, six podiums, and three pole positions on the way. Fellow F1 rookie Carlos Sainz Jr was the eventual victor while Stevens finished in sixth place. Merhi also acted as a Caterham test driver last year. “I am incredibly excited to be making my Formula 1 debut with [the] Manor Marussia F1 Team in Melbourne,” he said. “It is a big responsibility but I feel ready to make this step in my career and to show that I can make an important contribution to developing a team.”

As well as the racing driver line-up, Manor has revealed that 2015 GP2 driver Jordan King will join as development driver. “I am obviously over the moon to be joining Manor Marussia F1 Team,” the Brit revealed. “This is such an exciting project, full of great people and with a real chance of success. This is another great step closer to my ultimate goal of racing in Formula 1.”

Team Principal John Booth explained why adding Merhi and King to the new driver line-up was so ‘rewarding’. “They have been ‘graduates’ of Manor Motorsport in the junior formulae, which is obviously very rewarding for us given that the development of young talent is an important part of our philosophy,” he said. “It is fantastic to welcome Roberto [Merhi] and Jordan [King] to the team. They are very talented young drivers with exciting futures ahead of them.”

The team has had a whirlwind few months after looking certain to have disappeared from Formula One at the end of 2014. Initial plans to run the 2014 car had been blocked so the team worked 24/7 to produce a car that met the 2015 regulations and they passed the crash tests just last week. They plan to introduce a new car later in the season using the designs initiated last year. With no testing completed and 2014 Ferrari engines the team face an uphill struggle but even just making the grid is an achievement.

Sporting Director Graeme Lowdon was quick to thank everyone for their support. “I want to thank all of the teams, the FIA, Formula One Management, our suppliers and staff and of course all of the fans for the support we’ve received over the past six months,” he said. “It has been a challenging period for all of us but we’ve come through it and now we just want to go racing again. With formidable new business leadership in Stephen Fitzpatrick and the board presence of Justin King we are now in a great place ahead of the new season. This is a fantastic and very rewarding moment for all those involved with the team.”

Kevin Magnussen to get testing outing for McLaren

Kevin Magnussen will join the line-up for the third and final pre-season test.

With Melbourne just over two weeks away, the final pre-season test – which starts tomorrow in Barcelona – will be an important one for teams to finalise their preparations for the start of the 2015 season. McLaren test driver Magnussen will get his first taste of the 2015 car due to Fernando Alonso being sidelined by last week’s accident. He was hospitalised following a testing accident on Sunday but the team today confirmed that he had been released.

“Following his testing accident at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya last Sunday, we are pleased to confirm that Fernando Alonso has now left hospital,” a statement from McLaren read. “He has returned to his family’s home in Spain for further rest and recuperation.”

As a result Magnussen will get some running instead, splitting the test with regular race driver Jenson Button. Button will kick off the team’s programme tomorrow.