F1 Raceweek: Management changes at McLaren, calendar questions mount

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This weekend will see Mercedes pair Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton battle it out for the Formula One drivers' title, but there have been plenty of headlines from elsewhere in the paddock in the build-up to Abu Dhabi.

Rosberg needs to finish on the podium to be certain of a maiden championship crown, currently leading team-mate Hamilton by 12 points in the standings.

However, the fortnight since the thrilling Brazilian Grand Prix has seen other teams making moves at both driver and management level, while the sport's calendar could be in for a major shake-up.

 

DENNIS OUT, BROWN IN AT MCLAREN

McLaren have appointed Zak Brown to the role of executive director after Ron Dennis stood down as chairman and CEO.

Long-serving boss Dennis confirmed that he had been forced to resign by fellow shareholders at a meeting last Tuesday, with Brown now coming on board as part of a new management structure.

Brown - the founder of motorsport marketing agency Just Marketing International (JMI) - is set to play a key role in a "restructuring programme that will align the group's commercial and strategic operations relating to achieving success in Formula One".

Dennis, however, is reported to be considering legal action against the shareholders who ousted him after being place on gardening leave for the remainder of his contract.

 

ERICSSON SECURES DRIVE AS 2017 GRID TAKES SHAPE

The grid for the 2017 season is almost complete after Sauber confirmed they would retain Marcus Ericsson, despite the Swede having not scored a single point in the current campaign.

Team-mate Felipe Nasr could be in danger of losing his drive for next year, with Manor's Pascal Wehrlein thought to be a target for Sauber.

Manor are the only other team with seats available for next season and Nasr could be in contention should Wehrlein replace him at Sauber.

 

CALENDAR FACES MAJOR CHANGES

F1 has a mounting list of question marks surrounding a number of major races on its calendar.

The Canadian, German and Brazilian grands prix remain provisional inclusions on next year's schedule while doubt was cast this week over the future of two Southeast Asian races.

Bernie Ecclestone questioned the future of the Singapore Grand Prix before attempting to calm fears it could be lost, while Malaysian officials are said to be planning for life without F1 after 2018.

Ecclestone also suggested shorter format races could be introduced to appeal to a younger audience.

 

ALONSO HINTS AT PORSCHE SWITCH

McLaren driver Fernando Alonso has hinted at a future in the World Endurance Championship during a tribute to retiring former F1 start Mark Webber.

Speaking in a video message to the Porsche driver, Alonso said: "You've had a fantastic career and now all your success with Porsche.

"You didn't wait for me there, it would have been nice but you'll still be around and I will ask you many things when I join your adventure."