Latest F1 news in brief - Saturday (Update) UPDATE Updates shown in red below.
|Red Bull surprised Ricciardo is destroying Vettel. Or is it that the team knows the rumors of Vettel to Ferrari are true and not giving him a good car? hmm....|
- Engine makers get to work on louder F1
- Red Bull 'surprised' by Ricciardo pace
- Mattiacci plays down Alonso exit rumors
- Lotus wants engine equality with Red Bull
- 'Tactical' rivals playing down chase - Rosberg
- Mercedes wanted three-race ban for Red Bull
- Lauda denies 80hp advantage for Mercedes
- Vettel admits 'struggling' to beat Ricciardo New
- 'Comfortable' Alonso wants more New
- Q&A with Marco Mattiacci New
- Rosberg confident despite struggling with brakes New
Engine makers get to work on louder F1
(GMM) F1's engine manufacturers will focus their attention on the exhaust pipe as they work on spicing up the sound of the turbo V6 engines.
Unhappy with the milder noise of the new and 'green' F1, Bernie Ecclestone recently said Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault will work on making the 1.6 liter, turbocharged and energy recovery-boosted 'power units' sound better.
Told, however, that making the V6s loud would require a total redesign, Ecclestone told Sky: "All the air exits in the end out of what we call the exhaust pipe.
"So they can maybe do something there to make it sound a lot better."
Indeed, F1's three engine suppliers sat down in Shanghai on Friday for the first 'noise' meeting.
Renault's Rob White warned that the V6s will never sound like a normally-aspirated V8.
"I think we need to be realistic about the scope of any action we might take," he told reporters in China.
Mercedes' Andy Cowell added: "There are things we can do with the tailpipe, perhaps, to change the noise."
Former F1 driver David Coulthard, meanwhile, said there are other aspects of the new engines that should be better appreciated.
"We shouldn't forget that these engines are very powerful and have more than 750 horse power when you factor in the renewable energy," he told Austria's Laola1.
"I'm a big fan of the louder F1 but in the days of Charlie Chaplin, there was a picture and no sound at all, and still the people were entertained.
"Certainly a bit more sound would not hurt," Coulthard added.
Red Bull 'surprised' by Ricciardo pace
(GMM) Daniel Ricciardo thinks he has shown he deserves his new seat at Red Bull.
The Australian had driven at backmarker HRT and Red Bull's junior team Toro Rosso, but this year he stepped up to the big league to replace his retired countryman Mark Webber.
Some think Ricciardo currently has a better grip on the reigning world champions' new RB10 even than quadruple title winner and teammate Sebastian Vettel.
"The team have been a bit surprised," the always-smiling Ricciardo grinned to the Telegraph.
The 24-year-old has had a quite luckless 2014 season so far: disqualified in Melbourne and caught up in trouble in Malaysia, but he finished a solid fourth two weeks ago in Bahrain.
Ricciardo suggests he has exceeded even his own expectations.
"I don't know how to say it – I don't want to sound arrogant – but I believe a lot in myself, and I believed if I had the right equipment and the right opportunity then I would be able to show what I'm capable of, and that's been shown now," he said.
"I haven't surprised myself but it's been nice to confirm it to myself that I can do this. I believe I can keep doing it," Ricciardo added.
Mattiacci plays down Alonso exit rumors
(GMM) Ferrari's new boss on Friday played down suggestions Fernando Alonso might be looking to leave the struggling Italian team.
Although car upgrades appear to have pushed the Spaniard closer to the pace in Shanghai, it wasn't enough to calm speculation Stefano Domenicali's exit might be one of the final straws in Alonso's fifth year in red.
Some reports suggest the relationship between Alonso and Domenicali's successor might not have got off to the best start.
But Marco Mattiacci said in Shanghai: "Alonso is a great professional, a superb driver, probably the best in the championship.
"I think Fernando wants to win a world title with Ferrari," he is quoted by the Spanish sports daily AS.
At the same time, however, Mattiacci on Friday refused to rule out making some changes at Maranello.
"First, I need to see what is good in the team," he told Sky Italia. "I can make interventions, but only if it will for sure give us strong additional value, because we have an excellent team.
"It is at my disposal to do whatever it takes to ensure a solid future," added Mattiacci.
Lotus wants engine equality with Red Bull
(GMM) Lotus has discovered it is second or even third in line for the best service offered by F1 engine supplier Renault.
That is the claim of Michael Schmidt, the highly respected correspondent for Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
Earlier, we reported that Lotus has in China finally taken delivery of the latest incarnation of Renault's turbo V6 'power unit', as used by Red Bull and sister team Toro Rosso in Bahrain.
Italy's Autosprint had said the struggling Enstone team was unable to use the unit two weeks ago due to "other technical difficulties" with the E22 car.
But it appears there is more to the story.
Schmidt claims Renault, having invested only half the money in its V6 program compared to dominant Mercedes, has been unable to produce enough parts to supply all of its team partners with the latest 2014 unit.
"As the unofficial works team, Red Bull gets the best service," he explained.
And as Red Bull has drafted its second team Toro Rosso into the process of speeding up the fixes to Renault's problems, the Faenza team has "also benefitted by getting the better engines every now and then", Schmidt added.
The Auto Motor und Sport report claimed that, in some cases, the engines used by Lotus this year have been 30 horse power off the pace of the leading Red Bull versions.
"Lotus is now sounding the alarm and is calling on Renault for equality with Red Bull," said Schmidt.
He explained that Red Bull has defended its status on the basis that title sponsor Infiniti is putting money into the engine development, but nonetheless Lotus will get full equality as from next month's Spanish grand prix.
"It is only a matter of time before we can deliver what we expect from the car," Lotus' Alan Permane is quoted as saying.
'Tactical' rivals playing down chase - Rosberg
(GMM) Nico Rosberg is sure Red Bull is playing down its title chances for "tactical" reasons.
Although Mercedes' chasers Red Bull and Ferrari appear closer to the pace in Shanghai, world champion Sebastian Vettel on Friday said he was driving behind a W05 in Shanghai and "it looked as though they could do whatever they liked".
"Maybe they are not showing us everything they are capable of," Germany's DPA news agency quotes him as saying.
As Mercedes' rivals apparently catch up with the Brackley team, however, championship leader Rosberg admitted he smells tactics at play.
"We will certainly not make the mistake of writing off Red Bull," he told Der Spiegel.
"They are trying to convey the impression that they have little chance of the championship," Rosberg explained. "All tactical, I think.
"I am quite sure that Sebastian and Daniel (Ricciardo) will win races this season," he added.
On the other hand, perhaps Mercedes is also playing its own tactical game.
McLaren's Jenson Button said on Friday that the German squad should not be overly concerned about the development pace of its rival teams.
"It is not like Mercedes are going to stand still," said the Briton.
"It is going to be half a season before anyone else can challenge for a win," Button argued.
Former F1 driver David Coulthard agrees, saying he has not seen one team with such a gap over the field since he drove for McLaren in 1998.
"But even then, and also in the Ferrari era, they weren't this far ahead," he told Austria's Laola1. "At that time it was half a second or one second per lap, but Mercedes is almost two seconds faster than anyone else.
"I very much hope that Ferrari and Renault can catch up," said Coulthard, "otherwise it will be a very one-sided year."
Mercedes wanted three-race ban for Red Bull
(GMM) Mercedes wanted reigning world champions Red Bull to serve a three-race ban for appealing against its Melbourne disqualification.
Earlier rumors in the Shanghai paddock had hinted at Mercedes' push for a ban, after Dr Helmut Marko said he was surprised by the "aggressiveness" with which Mercedes argued at the Paris appeal on Monday.
Although McLaren, Lotus, Williams and Force India also attended the appeal hearing, none of them "submitted any written observations, and none took any active part in the hearing".
The information emerged officially late on Friday, as F1's governing body revealed the full text of its decision to reject Red Bull's appeal.
Mercedes, on the other hand, did indeed play an active and forceful role in Paris, the carmaker's lawyer saying Red Bull actually deserves "a more severe sanction".
It was believed Mercedes only wanted a suspended further penalty for Red Bull, but in fact it argued in writing that the court should ban the reigning world champions for "no less than three races".
On top of the race ban, Mercedes called for "a disqualification for a further six months, suspended for a year".
Bild newspaper said Mercedes' tough stance might be viewed in the context of 2013, when Red Bull attacked the Brackley team when the 'secret' Pirelli tire test was revealed.
"Was this the Silver Arrows' revenge?" wondered correspondents Nicola Pohl and Lennart Wermke.
Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda on Saturday tried to ease any bad feeling between the two camps by delivering a chocolate cake to the Red Bull hospitality area.
"I personally brought them an Austrian Sachertorte," he told German television RTL. "It was just a nice gesture."
Lauda denies 80hp advantage for Mercedes
(GMM) Niki Lauda has rejected suggestions Renault is trailing the pace by a figure of 80 horse power.
Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko has mentioned the figure - dominant Mercedes' supposed advantage with its field-leading turbo V6 - on several occasions in the past weeks.
But Lauda, the Mercedes team chairman, said on Saturday: "How can anyone really know?
"The answer is that no one knows the horse power figures; not Mercedes, not Renault, not Ferrari," he told German television RTL in Shanghai.
"We all know roughly what our engines are producing, but not the differences," triple world champion Lauda continued.
"You can make an estimate based on GPS data," he said, "and how fast the cars are on the straight, but it also depends on whether the tires are working, whether the aerodynamics are right ...
"So many factors come together that you can't clearly say that someone has 20 horse power more, or 80. We cannot judge that," added Lauda.
Vettel admits 'struggling' to beat Ricciardo
(GMM) World champion Sebastian Vettel on Saturday admitted he needs to up his game.
The German has won the last four drivers' titles on the trot, but all of them were alongside Mark Webber, who retired at the end of last season.
Australian Webber was replaced at Red Bull by his compatriot Daniel Ricciardo, who so far in 2014 has outqualified Vettel on no fewer than three out of four attempts.
Told that Ricciardo is clearly more competitive than Webber, Vettel said after qualifying in China: "Well, that's (not) a compliment to Mark, I should say, in his absence.
"I think this year is very, very different, the cars are very different so I don't think you can compare last year to this year," he insisted.
"But nevertheless, I think Daniel is doing a very good job, he has not just had one good weekend, he had good weekends and so far he seems to be able to get the maximum out of the car," Vettel admitted.
"On my side, maybe I'm struggling a little bit more, but at the end of the day we have the same car -- there's nothing between cars, so if he manages to beat me, then he beats me on the circuit, fair and square," he said.
"Of course, that's not to my liking but equally, I know that I have to do a little bit better."
'Comfortable' Alonso wants more
Fernando Alonso is hoping to launch an attack on the Red Bull drivers in Sunday's Chinese GP, conceding the Merc duo are out of reach.
Mercedes and Red Bull dominated Saturday's wet qualifying at the Shanghai circuit with Lewis Hamilton taking pole position ahead of the Red Bull drivers.
However, with the conditions expected to be dry on Sunday, many believe Red Bull's challenge could falter with Nico Rosberg instead becoming Hamilton's main challenger.
And when that happens, Alonso, who is starting fifth on the grid, hopes to launch his own attack on the Red Bull duo.
"I feel comfortable," stated the Ferrari driver in the wake of Saturday's qualifying.
"The car felt better than it did in Bahrain and the steps we brought here confirmed the positive result. We know it's not enough but it's a first step.
"Starting from fifth is a good result. Hopefully we can keep this position in the first few laps of the race tomorrow and go in the train with the leaders.
"15 days ago [in Bahrain] we were fighting for ninth and 10th - this is not enough. Hopefully we can fight for more points now.
"We know Mercedes is out of reach but hopefully we will not be far behind Red Bull."
Q&A with Marco Mattiacci
The new head of the Gestione Sportiva, Marco Mattiacci met the F1 media for the first time today.
You come here relatively unknown to Formula 1 people, even Fernando and Kimi say they knew very little about you. Do you feel you have got a big mission to prove yourself to win the skeptics over?
It is very motivating for me. I accept it because I think sometimes, you can bring a new perspective looking at issues and opportunities, and the fact that I need to prove that I am at the level of Ferrari first and the level of Formula 1, so you have in front of you an extremely motivated person.
There's a tendency amongst Formula 1 teams now to have a CEO and then a racing director or sporting director below that. Do you intend restructuring the Gestione Sportiva or how do you want to do that?
It's too early to make such statements. What I know is that I've worked in Ferrari for 14 years. I've been, for the last four days, in Maranello in the Gestione Sportiva. I think we have an amazing group of talented people. I think we have a history of pedigree that is unique, a pride that is impressive, so to talk about restructuring is too early. Definitely, we are here, I'm here. Mr. Montezemolo is extremely focused on giving any kind of support to the team and if needed, to go in the market, but clearly, to go in the market if he really believes that it's going to be an added value and impact to this team. That's at the moment what I know.
Can you tell us about motorsport experience? Do you have any at all when you were with Ferrari North America or out here?
If you want, I can tell you that I love racing. I race in my spare time. I spent probably 20, 22 weeks in the track last year. I attended three 24 Hour Daytonas, sleeping at the track, tried to learn as much as I could. It's not Formula 1 but I love racing. I love continuous improvement. I love challenging the team, challenging ourselves to give a better car and to get as much as we can from the track.
In any way, is your lack of race team experience or lack of experience here an asset to you? Can you look objectively at the team, not stand on reputations? And is that part of the reason you think you've been brought in?
I think that in the last 20 years, I have assembled a lot of teams. I am benchmarking a lot of business structure and as I told you, this is a different perspective, not in terms of sporting team but definitely assembled team, working with people, managing people from different nationalities with diversity, diversity in the industry, diversity in nationalities. So I will try to bring, if I have some best practice from that but definitely, this is a very specific culture, I'm aware. Time or reaction is completely different. You need to do things that have to happen yesterday, not in two months like in corporate. So I come with a lot of humility to understand and to work very hard. This is what I can commit to the team, to the drivers that are the best drivers in the world. They will have an extremely humble person that will listen and will fight 150% to be a facilitator and to best utilize the talent that is within Ferrari.
What is your strategy? How long before we see your influence on the team?
I am not a great believer in the word 'strategy.' I believe that, every day you need to set a target for improvement. As I said, when you first arrive, you look for what is good and I think that in this team, there is a lot a lot of talent. So I am working with the Chairman, with Mr. Montezemolo, in making an assessment and to see what will be needed. At this moment in time, I really cannot make a call on that.
Is it possible for you to ascertain whether you still have a chance (to win) this year's championship? Or do you feel your work is to start establishing the campaign for next year? And during the race, are you going to be on the pit wall talking to the guys, making decisions in the middle of races?
I don't think we are going to give up. Our goal is to close as much as possible the gap to the leader, which at the moment is Mercedes. You all know racing better than me, there are many variables that can influence a lap, a race or a championship. So, as this is the fourth race it is still very early to take a decision. But our objective is to close the gap to Mercedes as soon as possible, which is not an easy task. Will I be on the pit wall? For sure.
What's the reason you were wearing sunglasses this morning?
It's a very good question. If you do in four days almost forty hours of flying and you don't sleep in the last four days, probably you need sunglasses!
You're not an engineer but how do you plan to make the car go faster, because this is what you are here for? What can be changed compared to your predecessor?
I am not an engineer, but we have 800 people working to make the car faster. I want to get as much motivation as possible to define a certain project to management. I am not the one who will find an extra second on the car. That will be the engineers who work for us.
We were told the news on Monday morning. Can you tell us anymore about the timing?
I received a call at 5.58 on Friday morning from chairman Montezemolo. He told me this was his idea and I told him that April Fool’s Day had already happened fifteen days earlier. Then, after the first two or three minutes of discussion I realized it was serious and there was already a ticket ready for me to go from New York to Milan in three hours time. So I arrived in Maranello, at the Fiorano track on Saturday morning.
Was this always on your agenda as an ambition for you to come into it or was this as much a surprise to you maybe as to others?
I never had an agenda about what I wanted to be. I always work extremely hard to be prepared for whatever chance would be offered to me in any environment and that's the beauty of life. I don't think you can control or plan too much. I think you need to be prepared.
A great team is about great people. Will this be the beginning of an aggressive recruitment drive now for Ferrari?
You raise a great point. A team is made first of people, people, people, people. As I said, the chairman, we discuss and discuss with the first report and clearly, whatever is needed, we will do, even going to the market but with the clear idea that not just for the sake of going shopping but if we will find someone that will bring extreme added value to a team that, according to all of us, is one of the highest level teams that there is Formula 1. So that's the philosophy at the moment. But whatever is needed will be done.
You mentioned that there was quite a tight timeframe for you getting the job. Have you had any contact with Stefano at all? Has he spoken to you about what to prepare for and given you any advice for it?
Sure, Stefano is a great person. He's a friend of mine and we spent a few hours on Saturday, Monday we spent the entire day together so yes. As I said, Stefano is a person I have the utmost respect for, first as a human being, second as a professional so it was natural for us to discuss the roles.
Rosberg confident despite struggling with brakes
Nico Rosberg says he remains confident of collecting a strong result at the Chinese Grand Prix despite suffering from a few problems during qualifying.
Championship leader Rosberg ran wide during Q3 before spinning at the final corner on his last flying lap, with the German driver admitting that he erroneously thought he had nothing to lose.
Rosberg nonetheless set the fourth fastest time and will line up behind Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton and the Red Bull duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel.
"I had two main problems today," he said. "I wasn't totally happy with the feeling on the brakes, which resulted in me locking up and going off on my fast lap on the second to last lap.
"Then on my final timed lap, I was half a second quicker going into the last corner - but my time delta on my steering wheel display said that I was two tenths slower. So I just took a big risk and spun because I mistakenly thought I had nothing to lose anyway.
Rosberg, who claimed his maiden Formula 1 win at the event in 2012, remains confident of collecting a good result in the race.
"Fourth place is not a disaster," he explained. "I was quick on Friday during the race preparation so I am still confident that there is everything to play for tomorrow."