Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Hamilton got some laps in with new tires before getting out of car
    Hamilton got some laps in with new tires before getting out of car

    'Unwell' Hamilton quits Abu Dhabi tire test

  • Podium a 'realistic goal' for Honda – boss
  • F1 drivers back Hamilton amid controversy
  • Magnussen looking forward to 'simple' Haas team
  • Vettel admits not wanting to spoil title fight
  • Massa in talks to be F1 television pundit
  • Champion facts – Silver Arrows

'Unwell' Hamilton quits Abu Dhabi tire test
(GMM) As predicted earlier this week, Lewis Hamilton pulled out of the Pirelli tire test in Abu Dhabi.

Ahead of the session attended by Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull's 'mule' test cars, we reported that following his championship defeat to teammate Nico Rosberg, Hamilton was refusing to drive in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

A team spokesman denied it.

"That is not correct. Lewis is still on the schedule and expected to drive," he said.

But the spokesman's comment was only half true. While Hamilton did do a few laps on Tuesday, he pulled out "unwell" and was replaced by Pascal Wehrlein, who was on standby.

"Lewis felt unwell so Pascal stepped in for the later runs," a Mercedes spokesperson confirmed.

Earlier in 2016, Hamilton pulled out of another test with a sore foot.

The latest development comes as Hamilton faces criticism from F1 legend Sir Jackie Stewart for the way he defied team orders in Abu Dhabi.

"I think he can be a little ballerina," Stewart told PA Sport news agency.

"You cannot threaten a multinational corporation of that size by one man who is just not doing it the right way.

"Give him the option of 'either do it our way or you have to be excused'," the triple world champion advised.

Meanwhile, Mercedes says boss Toto Wolff is still deciding how to proceed in the wake of Hamilton's controversial driving in Abu Dhabi, having admitted that penalties against the Briton are possible.

"There is no rush or time pressure with anything," a Mercedes spokesperson said. "Our focus right now is on celebrating the new champion."

Yusuke Hasegawa
Yusuke Hasegawa

Podium a 'realistic goal' for Honda – boss
(GMM) Honda is targeting the podium for 2017.

That is despite the fact that Fernando Alonso has never ruled out the possibility that, after McLaren-Honda's struggles in 2015 and this year, the title remains a goal for next season.

"Everyone has improved a lot in the year, both at McLaren and at Honda," said Honda's F1 chief Yusuke Hasegawa.

"We have shown some good results, but in the end I am not satisfied with the results we have," the Japanese told Speed Week.

Indeed, McLaren finished the season sixth, with Hasegawa hinting that the rise to the very top might take the Anglo-Japanese collaboration a little longer.

"A podium would be a good result," Hasegawa said. "And also a realistic goal, even if there is still a lot of work and some unknowns regarding 2017.

"For example, we do not know where the other teams are in terms of performance. The key is time," he insisted. "We need time for success."

However, Hasegawa said he is happy with McLaren's 2017 driver lineup, with rookie Stoffel Vandoorne to replace the retiring Jenson Button.

While highly rated, Belgian Vandoorne is largely untested and new McLaren CEO Jost Capito says retaining Fernando Alonso beyond 2017 is a top priority.

And new McLaren executive Zak Brown has made a point of saying the door remains open in the future for Lewis Hamilton, whose relationship with Mercedes appears shaky.

Hasegawa, meanwhile, backed Vandoorne.

"Stoffel has shown that he can fight," he said.

"Normally, a new driver is a risk, but Stoffel is talented and calm. We have no great concerns about his performance as he has proved his talent already.

"The biggest problem is when a driver wants to prove something, but I want Stoffel to do his job and not put on a show. We have to make him feel good.

"This will be very important," the Japanese said.

Hamilton should back up Rosberg every race - made it more exciting to watch
Hamilton should back up Rosberg every race – made it more exciting to watch

F1 drivers back Hamilton amid controversy
(GMM) F1 drivers past and present have leapt to the defense of Lewis Hamilton, as the controversy about his 'backing up' tactics in Abu Dhabi continues.

Mercedes is contemplating punishing the triple world champion for ignoring team orders, but 1979 world champion Jody Scheckter said that would be "ridiculous".

"Tactics are a part of racing as much as anything else and it happens in other sports all the time," he said.

Quadruple world champion Alain Prost agreed that although what happened on Sunday was rare for a title finale, Hamilton executed it well.

"In the regulations, there is nothing that says you have to drive as fast as you can. It was not dangerous, like braking in the corners, in fact is was good — it was well done," said Prost.

"I was afraid that in the last laps we would see something unfair or dirty, but we didn't," he told Canal Plus.

Another former driver who backed Hamilton was Gerhard Berger, even though the famous Austrian actually negotiated Nico Rosberg's new contract earlier this year.

"It was not unfair," he told Tiroler Tageszeitung newspaper. "I would even go further and say that Hamilton was quite fair. He had to play this card, and he could have played it more extremely."

And current Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat said: "I would say that every driver would have done something similar, including Nico.

"So no one should condemn it," the Russian told Austrian television Servus TV.

Magnussen not sad to leave Renault team
Magnussen not sad to leave Renault team

Magnussen looking forward to 'simple' Haas team
(GMM) Kevin Magnussen has admitted he is looking forward to the simplicity of the Haas team, after a year at the French works outfit Renault.

At his final grand prix with Renault in Abu Dhabi, the Dane was spotted in meetings with his 2017 bosses, Haas team owner Gene Haas and principal Gunther Steiner.

Magnussen said he is looking forward to the switch.

"They are simple in their structure and management," he told Ekstra Bladet newspaper. "They are very open, honest and straightforward, which I like."

Some have questioned whether Magnussen was wise to agree the two-year deal, after Renault reportedly offered him a contract extension for 2017.

The driver said: "I do not think it is a step backwards. In formula one, it is important to be in a factory team. But if it doesn't perform, you can't perform.

"I think the guys at Williams and Force India for example should be quite happy, because they get good results and have good careers. They still have opportunities to reach world championship teams," Magnussen insisted.

He also hinted that he is looking forward to going up against Romain Grosjean, after a season with continuing Renault driver Jolyon Palmer.

"It is important to do well against a teammate who is respected," said Magnussen. "And in a team that appreciates you and that you can work well with."

Sebastian Vettel did not risk taking Rosberg out
Sebastian Vettel did not risk taking Rosberg out

Vettel admits not wanting to spoil title fight
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has admitted he was careful in the closing laps of the Abu Dhabi finale to not ruin the battle for the 2016 world championship.

However, the Ferrari driver denied that he deliberately did not overtake Nico Rosberg in order to support his German countryman, as Lewis Hamilton did his controversial 'backing up' maneuver from the lead.

"Nico was a little too fast for me on the straight," he told Auto Motor und Sport.

"Turn 11 was the best place but Nico did well to defend."

Some, however, suspect that the moves Vettel did try were half-hearted.

Vettel explains: "Nico was so close behind Lewis that I could not take full risk, because I could have cleaned him (Hamilton) up as well. I did not want to risk a stupid maneuver."

But the quadruple world champion has also been quoted as admitting he did not fully agree with Hamilton's backing up tactics.

"I would not have wanted to be in Nico's shoes," said Vettel. "Everyone knew that Lewis was up to. He was as slow as a bus, and wanted to drive Nico into us.

"I wanted to win the race for Ferrari, but I also knew that Lewis and Nico were racing for the title," he added.

Vettel therefore said Rosberg is a fully deserving world champion, dismissing Hamilton's hints that only better car reliability got him over the line.

"In my view, you can never be champion just with luck," Vettel told Bild newspaper.

"Sometimes you have luck, sometimes you are not so lucky, but I think that has happened to other drivers in the past.

"Nico collected the most points over the year, he was very consistent, and I think you should never doubt whether someone has earned the title or not.

"Over 21 races, the result speaks for itself," Vettel insisted.

Felipe Massa to become a talking head for Brazil TV
Felipe Massa to become a talking head for Brazil TV

Massa in talks to be F1 television pundit
(GMM) Felipe Massa has revealed that he should still be a familiar face in the F1 paddock next year.

Brazil's UOL Esporte claims the Brazilian is set to sign up as a regular commentator or pundit, but not for the country's own broadcaster TV Globo.

"I will not work with Globo because they are not coming to the races," said the former Williams and Ferrari driver.

UOL said Massa is therefore negotiating with Sky Italia, whose current broadcasting team includes Jean Alesi and Jacques Villeneuve, and former GP2 champion Davide Valsecchi.

"If I do some work on television, I will be at the track, so I'm talking to other people outside of Brazil," Massa admitted.

"My idea is that I would come to five or six races a year. And for now, this is not what is happening with Globo."

Massa said he thinks former drivers do a good job working on television after their full-time careers end.

"I don't know if they ask the best questions, but they often ask interesting questions. They know what they are talking about because it's something they lived," he said.

The Mercedes was untouchable
The Mercedes was untouchable

Champion facts – Silver Arrows
Mercedes AMG Petronas achieved a hat-trick of double wins this season.

Since the start of the Hybrid Power Unit era in 2014, the Silver Arrows have now won the drivers' and constructors' titles in three consecutive years thanks to Aldo Costa designing a superior car.

The team won 19 of 21 races this season, taking eight one-two wins along the way.

Lewis Hamilton's success on Sunday in Abu Dhabi was also the 150th Formula One victory for a vehicle powered by Mercedes.

The Silver Arrows have achieved more than a third of these wins, 51 altogether, over the past three years.

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