Jacques Villeneuve on Lewis Hamilton talks; New FIA rules confirmed – F1 news round-up

Henry Valantine
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton attends a sponsor event ahead of the 2023 Brazilian Grand Prix. F1 news

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton attends a sponsor event.

Thursday’s F1 news has shown that even though the season is over, the news keeps on coming in the world of Formula 1.

1997 F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve spoke exclusively to PlanetF1.com amid the back-and-forth between Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull in Abu Dhabi, and offered his opinion on it from a driver’s perspective.

Alongside that, the FIA confirmed key new rule changes for 2024 as the updated sporting regulations were released.

Jacques Villeneuve exclusive: Lewis Hamilton rumours proof ‘talks always happen’

Christian Horner claimed Lewis Hamilton’s team approached Red Bull over a potential drive, Hamilton himself claimed it was the other way around, and that was a massive talking point in the paddock in Abu Dhabi.

Having had time to digest it, Jacques Villeneuve, 1997 F1 World Champion, spoke to our own Thomas Maher about the public back-and-forth between the two parties – and plenty more besides in a wide-ranging interview.

“It gets a lot of print!” he told PlanetF1.com.

“As a driver, you’re not allowed to talk to other teams while you’re under contract and all that. But talks always happen.

“Obviously, you cross people in the paddock or, sometimes, you’ll use someone who doesn’t work for you, but will still do the talk so you’re protected.

“But, if the noise comes out, you have to negate it. Then who’s there to check?”

Read more: ‘Talks always happen’ – Lewis Hamilton’s ‘not allowed’ Red Bull approach

FIA outlaws key aero testing before 2025 in new rules announced

In among a swathe of rule changes brought in with the FIA’s updated Sporting Regulations released on Thursday, there was a rubber-stamping of the rule which forbids teams from developing their 2026 cars until the start of 2025, so as to avoid an unfair advantage being gained.

“In order to prevent testing which aims to develop for the 2026 season, from 1/12/2023 until 1/1/2025 inclusive, RWTT [restricted wind tunnel testing] may only be carried out using a scale model that substantially complies with the 2023, 2024 or 2025 F1 technical regulations,” reads the rule.

“With the exception of dyno testing aimed to develop brake system components with minimal air ducting and provided such tests do not concurrently test (or in any way provide incidental data or knowledge on) the performance or endurance of parts or systems classified as bodywork, no wind tunnel testing may be carried out using car geometry partially or wholly compliant with and/or substantially derived from drafts and/or published versions of the 2026 F1 technical regulations or FIA proposed 2026 bodywork geometries and concepts.”

Read more: FIA outlaws critical aerodynamic F1 testing until 2025 season

Charles Leclerc extension receives former Ferrari boss’ seal of approval

With Charles Leclerc heavily rumoured to potentially be penning a new contract up to an extra five years with Ferrari, this has received approval from former Scuderia boss Cesare Fiorio.

Both Leclerc and Carlos Sainz are due to enter contract negotiations with the team over the winter break, and reports from Italy claim Leclerc has already agreed, or is on the verge of agreeing, a mega five-year contract extension.

Former Ferrari sporting director Fiorio believes this is the right thing to do for both driver and team.

“I think it’s a good move, because he’s adding to his speed and skill the ability to limit the number of errors,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Until recently he made too many of them. However, that was normal. Verstappen is his age, but he too made mistakes in the early years a lot.

“Now Leclerc is moving towards that maturity that Max already has and that Lewis Hamilton also has.”

Read more: Ex-Ferrari boss endorses Charles Leclerc mega deal as Hamilton/Max comparison made

FIA to take steps after concerns on Red Bull-AlphaTauri collaboration

With concerns in the paddock about Red Bull and AlphaTauri collaborating more closely next season, with team bosses saying they will be taking as many parts as they are allowed from the senior team, FIA single-seater director Nikolas Tombazis has said the governing body is keeping an eye on developments.

“We check teams that are in close proximity to each other a lot more closely than we check completely independent teams, exactly to make sure this thing doesn’t happen. That is a concern,” said Tombazis, as per Motorsport.com, regarding the raised eyebrows over Red Bull and AlphaTauri.

“It has been a concern not only between the two teams mentioned, but also among other pairs of teams.

“We believe that AlphaTauri specifically does have quite different aerodynamic solutions to the other company, and we don’t think there’s any sign of any direct collaboration.”

Read more: FIA announce course of action after growing Red Bull-AlphaTauri concerns

Christian Horner addresses *that* Toto Wolff photo

To end on some light relief, remember the photo of Christian Horner and Toto Wolff with an arm around each other at the end of the season that went completely viral?

Well, Horner has had his say on that moment – addressing people’s confusion, considering the Red Bull and Mercedes team bosses aren’t exactly known for being best of friends.

“I think there has to be respect at the end of the day,” Horner told Sky Sports News.

“And what the Mercedes team achieved during their dominant period was phenomenal and they still are a fantastically strong team.

“We’ve enjoyed a great year and we haven’t seen much of certainly Mercedes this year, so it was just a moment at the end of the season.

“But there has to be a respect at the end of the day. The racing needs to be contained to being on the track.”

Read more: Christian Horner comments on viral Toto Wolff photo after Abu Dhabi embrace