Ex-race director labelled ‘idiot’ as team tease ‘surprise’ new name – F1 news round-up

Henry Valantine
Alfa Romeo launch Monza livery. F1 news

Sauber ended their deal with Alfa Romeo, and a new name is coming.

Monday’s F1 news sees several headlines come through that we perhaps were not expecting, with Sauber hinting at a potential ‘surprise in their upcoming name change.

Alongside that, Toto Wolff made his feelings known about former FIA race director Michael Masi in an interview for Spanish media, while we look back at our pre-season predictions and cringe.

All that and more, in Monday’s F1 news.

Toto Wolff: Michael Masi ‘just an idiot who made the wrong decision’

Mercedes team principal did not speak too kindly about former race director Michael Masi, with his being the decision that led to the controversy in Abu Dhabi almost two years ago now.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem hinted that he may welcome Masi back into the governing body if the right role presented itself, but after that night at Yas Marina, Wolff wouldn’t be the first to welcome the Australian back with open arms.

“We know how it happened,” the Mercedes team boss told the Spanish edition of Motorsport.com about the 2021 title battle turning on the spot.

“But I don’t want to waste a minute [thinking] about the reasons [why it happened], because that would give the guy too much credit.

“He’s just an idiot who made the wrong decision.”

Read more: Toto Wolff puts ‘idiot’ label on Michael Masi after Abu Dhabi question

Sauber tease ‘surprise’ with new name imminent

Alfa Romeo split with Sauber at the end of the 2023 season, and the team will be confirming their new name this coming weekend – and Alessandro Alunni Bravi is looking forward to the new name being out there.

“On the 10th of December, as soon as the FIA will publish the entry list that we will of course announce the new team name,” Bravi said at the weekend’s Autosport Awards.

“I think [it] will be a surprise, and we cannot wait to start the partnership with our new partners.”

Read more: Sauber tease ‘surprise’ new team name after Alfa Romeo split

McLaren drivers take key gongs at Autosport Awards

Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri were among the winners at the Autosport Awards on Sunday night, with Norris winning the coveted British Competition Driver of the Year crown, and Piastri taking home Rookie of the Year.

“This has been my second time being able to accept this beautiful trophy,” Norris said. “The first was during COVID in 2020, but I don’t really count that so this feels like my first.

“We’ve had a lot of trophies this year, with Silverstone feeling like the highlight, and that’s credit to the team for the turnaround they managed to perform.”

Piastri added: “Thank you very much to everyone who voted for me.

“It’s been a remarkable year after such a great turnaround for the team after a tough start, culminating in the sprint victory in Qatar.”

Read more: Lando Norris, Oscar Piastri win awards for stunning F1 2023 success with McLaren

Zhou Guanyu given ‘no room for mistakes’ in 2024 season

With his future on the line once again in 2024 and his team in need of a response to a poor year by their standards, Zhou Guanyu has been told there is “no room for mistakes” as he heads into his third year in Formula 1.

The Chinese driver was roundly out-performed by Valtteri Bottas in qualifying and races but rarely were Alfa Romeo in contention for points this season.

Xevi Pujolar, speaking in Abu Dhabi, believes there are still a couple of things for him to iron out next year.

He told media including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher: “In some conditions, he is a bit more sensitive to what he is feeling. The differences are not big but in terms of positions they are big, so we need to work on that for next year.

“There is no room for any small drop or mistake.”

Read more: F1 2023 struggler warned ‘no room for mistakes’ as driver feels the pinch

Look back and marvel (or laugh) at our F1 2023 predictions

And finally, all of our writers (this one included) got together before the season began to make our predictions for the season ahead, with points to be given out based on what we could get right.

There were some calls we could see from a mile away, others we did not see coming at all and some we were left ruing. Just saying now, if one more driver made it onto the podium in 2023, you’d be looking at a different winner.

Either way, some of our predictions aged like a nice wine, others more like milk. Look and see for yourself who takes the crown for PlanetF1.com in 2023.

Read more: F1 2023 predictions revisited: A Nyck de Vries clanger and an apology to Williams