Latest F1 news in brief - Friday
Mercedes drivers say no to team head shrink
|Hamilton laughs as if to say, are you kidding me about using a team head shrink? We are leading 100% of the sessions and laps in 2014 (a complete whitewash of the other teams, which has never been done in the history of the sport), what is the problem?|
- Mercedes to test 'megaphone' exhaust next week
- Vettel raced kart in F1 calendar break
- Vettel's new chassis for Spain is 'old'
- Button doubts Mercedes' rivals can win in 2014
- Red Bull keeping 'pressure' on Renault - Horner
- Horner tips Ricciardo to get even stronger
- Alonso jokes Raikkonen struggle 'no surprise'
- Pressure on Vergne as Tost hails 'champion' Kvyat
- Bottas to keep sitting out Friday sessions
- 'Bad feeling' in Spain over now - Hamilton
- Heavy Sutil tested 'no food' diet
- Alonso tells Spanish fans that Barcelona podium is unlikely
Mercedes drivers say no to team head shrink
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has ruled out making use of Mercedes' new F1 psychologist (head shrink).
It has emerged that Dr Ceri Evans, who also worked with New Zealand's 'All Blacks' during the rugby team's world cup triumph, was in the Shanghai garage last time out and could return this weekend in Barcelona.
The reports however said Evans had focused on the performance of engineers and mechanics, not the drivers Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Ahead of the Spanish grand prix, Briton Hamilton - the winner of the last three grands prix on the trot - was asked whether he too would think about working with a psychologist to improve himself as a driver.
"Never. Never needed one and will never have one," he insisted. "So we'll never speak of it again unless I start going crazy."
Hamilton said Evans being in China had "zero impact" on him.
Also not planning to make use of Mercedes' new psychologist is German Rosberg, who risks ceding his championship lead to Hamilton this weekend if he loses for a fourth straight time to Hamilton.
Rosberg also laughed off suggestions he might start reverting to psychological 'mind games' to destabilize the notoriously emotional Hamilton.
"I am comfortable to keep on doing what I am doing," he said on Thursday.
"What I need is a normal weekend. I have not had one of those lately and then I will be able to turn things around."
Mercedes to test 'megaphone' exhaust next week
(GMM) Mercedes will test a new 'megaphone' exhaust next week, not during Friday practice for the Spanish grand prix.
It had been claimed the Brackley team may run its prototype design, aimed at increasing the volume of this year's turbo V6 engines, in free practice.
But a Mercedes spokesman told the Austrian news agency APA that the exhaust attachment will actually only make its debut at the post-race test.
"We'll see there if it has the lasting effect that we want," team boss Toto Wolff is quoted as saying.
APA said the results of Mercedes' exhaust test will be sent directly to the FIA, who will decide on the next steps.
"The aim is to find a workable solution for everybody by the Canadian grand prix on June 8," the report revealed.
Vettel raced kart in F1 calendar break
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel could not resist the lure of racing in the three-week gap between F1's Chinese and Spanish grands prix.
Kolner Express newspaper revealed that the Red Bull driver entered the German championship race at Ampfing in Bavaria with Michael Schumacher's KSM team.
The report said it was the reigning world champion's first kart race for three years.
And, confirming the news, the kart maker Tony Kart revealed that Vettel tested the machine at the Lonato track in Italy for two days before the German event.
A photo of Vettel's kart outing can be seen here.
Vettel's new chassis for Spain is 'old'
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has confirmed he switched chassis ahead of this weekend's Spanish grand prix because of his poor performance in China.
After Shanghai, where the reigning world champion was ordered to move aside for the quicker Daniel Ricciardo, Dr Helmut Marko said Vettel would get a new chassis for Barcelona because his original RB10 could have "a hairline crack".
But chief designer Rob Marshall this week seemed to contradict Marko when he said Vettel's chassis change "was scheduled at the start of the season".
"From our point of view we'd rather give them one or two new chassis during the season that we have been able to check out in the factory using various testing methods," he explained.
However, German Vettel on Thursday revealed that his new RB10 for Spain actually isn't 'new' at all.
"Obviously if you change, you change to a new one, but we decided to change back to an older chassis just to make sure nothing is wrong," he told reporters.
Vettel said the decision to revert to the winter testing chassis is to eliminate a flaw as the potential cause of his recent struggles.
"We don't think that there was anything wrong with the old chassis but nevertheless we decided to change," he explained.
"It's more a sanity check rather than a real problem with the other chassis. It's just to try everything we can and basically reset and start again."
Teammate Ricciardo on Thursday said it is not unusual for Vettel to be switching chassis.
"I think if you feel you have races that are at less than optimal performance, you try to find some answers," he is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace.
"I will change eventually as well, but the last few races have been good for me, so I have no reason to yet."
Button doubts Mercedes' rivals can win in 2014
(GMM) Toto Wolff has entered the Spanish grand prix weekend predicting that Ferrari could be Mercedes' biggest challenger over the entire 2014 season.
But what about Red Bull? Many believe the reigning world champions' only deficit to Mercedes is the underpowered Renault engine.
When asked about Wolff's assessment that Ferrari is the main threat, Daniel Ricciardo on Thursday answered: "I didn't hear that, but maybe it's just psychological."
Publicly, Mercedes is saying that, despite winning every race so far this year, Barcelona - with few straights and after a three-week calendar break - could be the Brackley team's biggest test of the season so far.
McLaren's Jenson Button isn't so sure.
"Mercedes don't have any competition," he said on Thursday.
"It's going to be tough for anyone else to win a grand prix this year."
Button explained that, even though the chasers are doing everything to close the gap, Mercedes are also working hard to improve the already-dominant W05 car.
Williams' Felipe Massa picks up the theme.
"Even if the opponents find 1.5 seconds, it is not enough to beat Mercedes because they are developing as well," he is quoted by Speed Week.
"If Mercedes only improves half a second or one second in the course of the season - and that is really conservative - they would still preserve their lead until the end of the season," Massa explained.
Fernando Alonso seemed to be turning Ferrari's poor season around last time out in China with a surprise podium result, but he is not confident he can repeat it in Barcelona for his home supporters.
"If I tell you I will fight for the podium, probably I will lie to you and I don't want to lie to all the people that are coming," he said.
"We are bringing some new parts but nothing different compared to any other top team, or even less," Alonso added.
Red Bull has also improved for Barcelona, but team boss Christian Horner told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport it is "evolution not revolution".
"Surely, ultimately we are here to win," world champion Sebastian Vettel said on Thursday. "Right now, obviously, we have Mercedes in a very, very strong position. Difficult to beat but never impossible."
If Mercedes' rivals sound downbeat, perhaps it is because many paddock insiders believe the silver-clad team has been winning its races in 2014 at as slow a pace as possible.
"If you analyze the races," Toro Rosso chief Franz Tost said, "I don't think that they have shown their real potential for a whole race distance.
"They show it just for a few laps because for them there is no need to show it for longer," he told F1's official website.
"Think about when there is a safety car phase -- after ten laps they are something like 20 seconds ahead again! That means that they are playing around."
Still, Alonso said that if Ferrari cannot be the main challenger in Spain, he hopes at least Red Bull can give Mercedes a reason to look behind their shoulders.
"The Red Bull has been very fast when there are many corners," he is quoted by Spain's Diario Sport.
"Here in Barcelona there is only one straight, so I think they will be very fast here."
Red Bull keeping 'pressure' on Renault - Horner
(GMM) Christian Horner insists Red Bull is not giving up on the 2014 title.
Many, however, believe Mercedes' advantage to be so great early this season that even powerful rivals like reigning world champions Red Bull and Ferrari will not be able to bridge the gap.
But team boss Horner told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport: "There are still 15 races left -- it's a marathon not a sprint.
"Hopefully in Spain we will begin to significantly reduce our disadvantage to Mercedes."
He refers to 2012, when Red Bull was also able to recover after a significant rule change.
But the rule change for 2014 has been ever greater, and Mercedes' advantage is obvious.
"Renault is working hard to close the gap," said Horner.
Indeed, Red Bull has made no secret that it believes the only problem with the RB10 is the French-made turbo V6.
"Our car is better than Mercedes, we're just lacking 50 horse power," Roger Benoit, the veteran correspondent for Swiss newspaper Blick, quoted a team insider as saying on Thursday.
Horner confirmed: "I know that our car is fantastic. When we close the disadvantage of the engine we will be back in top form.
"I think that out of the engine suppliers Mercedes has done the best job, followed probably by Ferrari and Renault. But we will see how it is in the end."
Horner was asked if Red Bull could return to the top if it simply changed engine supplier.
"The pressure is obviously on Renault to deliver a competitive product," he answered, "but they have the right people to do that."
Horner tips Ricciardo to get even stronger
(GMM) Red Bull has been surprised by the performance so far of team newcomer Daniel Ricciardo.
The reigning world champion team signed the Australian for 2014 to replace the Le Mans-bound Mark Webber, and so far Ricciardo has outshone the struggling quadruple title winner Sebastian Vettel.
"We got him (Ricciardo) because, among the many possible choices, we were convinced that he was the best," team boss Christian Horner told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.
"We knew from the test data and the simulator that he was strong. We expected performance close to Sebastian, but not what we saw in the first four races.
"And the more he integrates, the stronger he will get," added Horner.
Meanwhile, as Gerhard Gribkowsky prepares on Friday to give potentially explosive testimony to the Munich trial, Horner backed Bernie Ecclestone to keep running formula one amid the corruption scandal.
"Bernie has done an amazing job and F1 needs him more than ever," he said.
"At this time it would be a disaster if he wasn't here anymore," added Horner, who has regularly been named as Ecclestone's preferred successor.
"I am honored," said Horner, "but my focus and my commitment is to Red Bull. And, anyway, no one can just replace Bernie."
Finally, Horner revealed that he has spoken to his former counterpart Stefano Domenicali after his Ferrari exit.
"Yes, he was in the Dolomites," the Briton revealed.
"I'm very sorry about it, because he was someone you can trust. His role at Ferrari was not easy and I wish him all the best," added Horner.
Alonso jokes Raikkonen struggle 'no surprise'
(GMM) Fernando Alonso could not resist a mischievous joke on Thursday when asked about teammate Kimi Raikkonen's struggles so far in 2014.
Finn Raikkonen has struggled notably at Ferrari since returning to his 2007 title-winning team, but for the moment the high-pressure Maranello marque is backing him.
"He has class written all over him," said technical director James Allison, "and in a very short space of time I'm sure we will also see the results of that on the track."
When asked about the gap between himself and Raikkonen so far this season, however, Alonso undoubtedly recalled the pre-season banter that suggested his 'number 1' crown at Ferrari may finally be in doubt.
"Usually I beat my teammates," the Spaniard joked, according to Finland's MTV3. "So it's not a big surprise."
More seriously, Alonso said Ferrari is working hard to get "both Ferraris" fully up to speed.
"We are not in a position at the moment that we expect," he said ahead of his home grand prix.
"The start of Kimi was not the best in terms of points but I think hopefully soon they will be close to the podium or to the victories and we - both Ferraris - can score many points for the team."
Pressure on Vergne as Tost hails 'champion' Kvyat
(GMM) Toro Rosso is singling out teenage Russian rookie Daniil Kvyat as a future world champion.
"Yes," boss Franz Tost confirmed, "because he's shown that already by winning the younger classes -- and especially the way he was winning. He has it in his DNA to win races and championships."
Tost told F1's official website that Kvyat has already revealed his championship potential within a few short races, which undoubtedly raises the pressure on Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso's established driver, who has been at Faenza since 2012.
But, for now, Tost is backing the low-profile 24-year-old Frenchman, insisting he is struggling with the new fly-by-wire braking.
"Jean-Eric is a quite sensible driver," he said, "and as soon as we have this (braking problem) under control I am convinced that he will show his real potential, because he is a really fast and highly skilled driver."
It is, however, an awkward time in Vergne's career, having been considered for Mark Webber's seat at Red Bull Racing but now seeing his former teammate Daniel Ricciardo perform so strongly alongside world champion Sebastian Vettel.
At the same time, Vergne is struggling to show up a boy-faced 20-year-old.
"A lot of things have been happening that were not necessarily visible," Vergne told France's L'Equipe, "but in these cases I prefer not to look for excuses but to keep my head down.
"I feel much better than last year in qualifying, even if the race results are not yet the ones we expected."
Still, he is keen to point out that when he was paired with Ricciardo, they were very closely matched.
"I have no regrets, because things happen for one reason or another," said Vergne, referring to Red Bull's decision to promote Ricciardo and not him.
"As I had the same performance as Daniel in the last two seasons, it shows what level we had, Daniel and me," he said.
"I learned a lot from him in qualifying, and in the race I was always able to make a difference."
Bottas to keep sitting out Friday sessions
(GMM) Valtteri Bottas will continue to sit out practice sessions this year for Williams' test drivers.
When reserve driver Felipe Nasr made his first Friday appearance in 2014, it was at the wheel of Finn Bottas' car in Bahrain.
Then in China, Bottas once again sat out the session rather than his teammate Felipe Massa.
And it is believed that when Susie Wolff steps into the FW33 on the Fridays at Silverstone and Hockenheim, once again it will be Bottas on the sidelines.
"It is just the agreement we have," Bottas explained to Finland's MTV3 broadcaster.
"One agreement allows it, and one does not," he added, obviously referring to the contracts in the hands of Williams' 2014 race drivers, Bottas and Massa.
Bottas, however, is not bitter about the situation, as he enjoyed the very same kind of treatment in 2012, when he regularly stepped into a Williams on Fridays.
Back then, it was race regular Bruno Senna who always had to step aside for Bottas.
"Of course, every young driver wants to drive whenever you are given the opportunity," Bottas said in Barcelona.
'Bad feeling' in Spain over now - Hamilton
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton says the dark days of deep unpopularity in Spain are over.
The Briton's relationship with Barcelona hit a low at the height of his rivalry with Fernando Alonso, when fans with notoriously blacked out faces jeered.
"In the first years here I always had a bit of a bad feeling," Hamilton told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport. "Like in the drivers' parade."
But in the intervening years, as Hamilton's relationship with home town hero Alonso improved, so too did his popularity in Spain.
"I keep getting more and more fans here," he said ahead of the Spanish grand prix.
"My relationship with Fernando has returned to normal and I think he has had the same experience as me when it comes to Britain," Hamilton explained.
Manuel Franco, the correspondent for Spanish sports newspaper AS, told Hamilton he is in fact now a 'favorite' F1 driver within Spain -- behind Alonso, of course.
"Favorite? Really?" Hamilton exclaimed.
"I'm so happy to hear that. I always love coming here to Spain, Barcelona and winning would be a dream."
Heavy Sutil tested 'no food' diet
(GMM) Adrian Sutil has revealed he trialed abstaining from food altogether as he battled to lose weight for 2014.
According to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, the German is 13 kilograms heavier than his featherweight teammate Esteban Gutierrez.
Sauber, running Sutil's car without a drinks bottle so far in 2014, has managed to cut 'substantial' weight from its Ferrari-powered C33 for the Spanish grand prix this weekend.
Reports indicate it could be as much as 15 kilos lighter than before.
"I don't want to say numbers, but it is important that we are close to the (minimum) limit now," Sutil is quoted by Speed Week.
"You can never build a 'too light' racing car."
Still, it is suggested that Sutil's disadvantage will continue in Spain, as only Gutierrez is actually slightly beneath the FIA's mandatory limit, allowing him to position ballast around the car to improve handling.
Sutil has been critical of the sport's reluctance to further increase the weight limit, as it has driven naturally heavier drivers to ramp up their dieting regimes.
He told reporters on Thursday that he has experimented with fasting.
"I was testing it a little bit here and there," said Sutil. "Two days, no food, only drink.
"It was not easy but interesting what the reaction is. I could feel there was a limit where I didn't have the power any more, the strength in my mind. It's just important to know your body quite well.
"I tried it but I'm still alive so don't worry too much," he told reporters.
Alonso tells Spanish fans that Barcelona podium is unlikely
Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso is telling his local fans to keep their expectations low for this Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.
The two-time former Formula One champion downplayed his third-place finish three weeks ago in China and said progress is going slow for Ferrari as it tries to make up ground on Mercedes.
“If I say we will fight for the podium I will probably be lying to you, and I don’t want to disappoint our fans,” Alonso said on Thursday, a day before practice begins at the season’s first event in Europe.
Alonso sits third in the standings with 41 points after Mercedes pair Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton swept the first four races of the season. Rosberg leads the standings with 79 points with Hamilton four points behind.
Ferrari’s last win came at Montmelo one year ago when Alonso got his second career victory on the circuit. Since then, it is on its longest streak without a victory in almost two decades after Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel dominated the end of last season before Mercedes took the lead this year.
Alonso has yet to crack the top three spots in qualifying so far in 2014, while Kimi Raikkonen has fared even worse in his return to the team that he won the world title with in 2007. The Finn hasn’t finished in the top six spots in any race, and has also lacked speed in qualifying.
“We finished ninth and 10th in Bahrain and did podium in China because we had some things (come) together on that Sunday, but it is not that we are in a position to say we will fight for the podium here,” Alonso said. “Barcelona is a good point to check how competitive we are.”
Alonso said Ferrari’s upgrade package is “nothing out of the world” and that the biggest advantage he will have is his knowledge of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya with its single straightaway, which he hoped would reduce Mercedes’ ability to leverage its better overall speed.
The race will be Ferrari’s second under new team principal Marco Mattiacci after he replaced Stefano Domenicali. Mattiacci, a former president of Ferrari North America but with no experience in F1, arrived to Shanghai in time to watch Alonso steer to a third-place finish.
Alonso said Mattiacci was meeting with everyone on the team— from drivers to engineers and crew members— but needed time to learn the sport before he put his stamp on the Italian team.
“At the moment everything is more or less the same,” Alonso said. “Everything is calm, no big changes. In China, Marco arrived with little experience in motor racing and lots of experience on the management side, but he is listening and learning as much as he can. I don’t think Marco wants to become an engineer, but he will need some time to settle down and make some decisions.
“It is a good thing for Ferrari to move forward and past some historical mistakes.”