Jorge Lorenzo hoping Rosberg wins title
Lorenzo hopes Rosberg wins 2016 title
- Both Mercedes drivers deserve title – Alonso
- Hamilton can 'back up' Rosberg – Berger
- Wife, not father, joins Rosberg in Abu Dhabi
- Aki Hintsa made Vettel 'better man'
- Lauda has one 'fear' for title showdown
- Vasseur admits 'battles' with departing Magnussen
- Pirelli working to improve wet tires
- Wolff open to helping German GP rescue
- Pirelli expecting two-stop Abu Dhabi race
- Red Bull drivers back different tire strategy
Lorenzo hopes Rosberg wins 2016 title
(GMM) MotoGP star Jorge Lorenzo insists Nico Rosberg would be a deserving champion if crowned later on Sunday in Abu Dhabi.
The Spaniard is in the paddock this weekend, telling the Movistar broadcaster that "I wanted to see who will win the championship". He is sponsored by Monster, who also back the Mercedes team.
As for that Rosberg vs Lewis Hamilton battle, Lorenzo admits that he is closer to world champion Lewis Hamilton.
"He seems like a very nice guy," he said. "He is explosive and quick, but Nico has also shown his strength this year and this is his big chance to be champion.
"I hope he succeeds because he deserves it," Lorenzo added.
Mercedes was reportedly impressed when Lorenzo recently tested the team's 2014 car, but he played down the possibility he might switch from four wheels to two full time.
"It is not like 30 or 40 years ago with (John) Surtees," the 29-year-old smiled.
"Before there was more in common and now with so much technology to catch up with the level of these drivers would be virtually impossible — but in life there are not many impossible things," Lorenzo said.
|Expect the Mercedes drivers to parade to another 1-2 finish and the title will be Rosberg's|
Both Mercedes drivers deserve title – Alonso
(GMM) Both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg would deserve the world championship if they succeed on Sunday.
That is the opinion of Fernando Alonso, when asked by Spain's AS newspaper to comment on Sunday's 2016 title battle between the Mercedes duo.
"They're similar in the way they have done their job," said the Spaniard.
"It's true that they've had the best car, but every weekend they did very well without mistakes.
"I think Rosberg has been very consistent at all times, he has not failed and has always got the most from his car. Hamilton is a super talent who has always been ahead in his career," Alonso added.
"Both have had some ups and downs, perhaps through no fault of their work, like reliability or other things, but I think both would be worthy champions and deserve the title."
However, when asked to pick the most likely champion, Alonso joined most of the rest of the paddock in predicting a Sunday stroll for Rosberg.
"It's never easy, but I must say that if things go normally, they will be first and second and that is exactly what Rosberg needs," he said.
|Will Hamilton back up Rosberg into Ricciardo? If so will Mercedes send a command to Hamilton's engine to shut down?|
Hamilton can 'back up' Rosberg – Berger
(GMM) F1 legend Gerhard Berger says he can imagine Lewis Hamilton deploying every tactic to win the world championship on Sunday.
Berger is actually in the Nico Rosberg camp, having negotiated the German's new Mercedes deal earlier this year.
He says it is nonsense that some are saying Rosberg would not be a deserving champion, due to Hamilton's late form in 2016 after technical troubles.
"There will be none of this crowing in a few weeks," he told Auto Motor und Sport. "World champion is world champion.
"If second place (in the Abu Dhabi race for Rosberg) is enough, then second place is enough."
Berger, however, ruled out a scenario where Rosberg could take advantage of his points lead and 'take out' Hamilton in Abu Dhabi, like his former teammate Ayrton Senna did to Alain Prost in 1990.
What he can imagine, however, is Hamilton backing Rosberg into the chasing pack, in the hope of getting him mixed up in a fight with the Red Bulls and Ferraris and finishing lower than third.
"Every driver in Hamilton's situation would do that," Berger said. "It is perfectly legitimate in such a situation that a driver does everything to optimize his chances."
Indeed, even Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff hinted that he can imagine the 'backing up' scenario.
"We let them go," he insisted.
"Nico and Lewis know what we expect in terms of fairness, but we also know what is at stake.
"As long as there are no boundaries crossed in terms of what is sporting, we have no problems with it," said Wolff.
Berger, meanwhile, acknowledged that the real pressure is on Rosberg on Sunday.
"Hamilton is already a three times champion with nothing to lose in this race," he said. "But Nico must win this title, because in formula one, you never know if you will ever get another chance again."
|Rosberg and his beautiful wife Vivian Sibold|
Wife, not father, joins Rosberg in Abu Dhabi
(GMM) All eyes are on Nico Rosberg as the German bids to win his first world championship on Sunday.
The Mercedes driver insists he is treating Abu Dhabi as any other race, but he appears nervous and has flown in his wife Vivian at the last moment for support.
"It was planned for a long time that she would come," Rosberg insisted to Bild newspaper.
"I'd like to have her with me at every race, but that's not possible anymore," he added, referring to their baby daughter.
However, Nico's famous father Keke, the 1982 world champion, is not in town, with Rosberg saying his dad will instead watch the race from Monaco.
Niki Lauda, the F1 legend and Mercedes team chairman, told German television RTL he hopes Rosberg slept well after qualifying second on Saturday.
"The first title is always the hardest," said the Austrian.
"All the way from karts to formula one you only want to be formula one champion. But getting it together the first time is not easy."
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said one potential headache for Rosberg on Sunday, as he bids simply to finish the race third, is the chasing Red Bulls and Ferraris.
"Red Bull on another strategy and the fast Ferraris is a little headache for us," Wolff said.
But Rosberg insists he is confident.
"I am looking forward to Lewis, not backwards," he insisted.
"Of course I have to see the checkered flag, but I would also love to finish this great season with a win."
|Vettel trained with Hintsa while with Red Bull|
Aki Hintsa made Vettel 'better man'
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has added his own tribute to former McLaren doctor Aki Hintsa, who sadly passed away last week at the age of 58.
Lewis Hamilton, who made his debut for McLaren in 2007, gave an emotional and fitting farewell to the Finn in the Thursday press conference in Abu Dhabi.
But in truth, drivers up and down the pitlane also knew him well, including Sebastian Vettel who got his F1 fitness up to speed with Dr Hintsa as a 20-year-old rookie.
"We met a long time ago and he was ready to help me even though he had no reason to," Vettel told the Finnish broadcaster MTV in Abu Dhabi.
"I feel that he not only made me a better driver, but also a better man," the German added.
"And Aki not only helped me, but many people.
"We are here in the paddock for a short time, and we all wear different colored shirts, but Aki never looked at them. He had the gift to help people and is still a great inspiration," Vettel added.
Dr Hintsa died after a battle with cancer.
|Will one of the Mercedes' suffer an engine failure?|
Lauda has one 'fear' for title showdown
(GMM) Niki Lauda says he is feeling relaxed ahead of Sunday's title showdown — except for one "fear".
"It's been three perfect years," said the Mercedes team chairman, referring to the fact that the German squad is guaranteed the drivers' title in Abu Dhabi.
"First one (driver) is faster, then the other. But for me they are absolutely equal," Lauda told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
Asked if he feels nervous as Nico Rosberg bids to win his first world title ahead of pole sitter Lewis Hamilton on Sunday, Lauda answered: "Me? It will be a race like any other.
"The important thing is that there are no technical problems. It's my only fear," the triple world champion added.
However, another fear might be that, with so much dominance since 2014, the Mercedes board might soon get sick of funding the F1 program.
Indeed, there have been rumors that Mercedes will pull out after 2020 to focus solely on Formula E.
Lauda answered: "We are 100 per cent committed to formula one and there is no plan to exit. Absolutely not."
But he admitted that 2017 is a brand new challenge for Mercedes, with the rules changing so significantly.
"When there are new things, some engineers can be the best interpreters of the rules and gain an advantage," said Lauda. "Who knows?
"We will find out when we see the new cars on the track."
One possibility is that his old team, Ferrari, could return to winning ways in 2017, and end Sebastian Vettel's run of apparent tension.
"It is normal when you have a car that does not win that you are not happy," Lauda said when asked about Vettel's current mood.
"But with the change of regulation there is a good chance to be competitive again. And not just the Ferraris. When you're in trouble, a change can be the best for overcoming problems.
"But I have the feeling that Ferrari will be better next year. (Sergio) Marchionne is pushing a lot," said Lauda.
|Frederic Vasseur not happy with Magnussen|
Vasseur admits 'battles' with departing Magnussen
(GMM) Renault team boss Frederic Vasseur says he does not rule out working with Kevin Magnussen again.
Actually, the Danish driver is leaving the French works team after reportedly balking at the political situation at Renault and the offer of only a one-year extension.
Vasseur admits that he and Magnussen clashed.
"Kevin has his personality and I have my own personality," he told BT newspaper. It's has not always been easy. We have had our battles."
But the Frenchman denies that those 'battles' explain Magnussen's decision to leave for Haas.
"No, no, no," Vasseur insisted. "In a long season, there are times of good news and good results, and harder times. But we got through it because we could always have a good talk and clarify the situation.
"I definitely want all the best for Kevin because he deserves it, and he did a good job for us. I hope that in the future we can meet again," he added.
|2017 Pirelli rain tires|
Pirelli working to improve wet tires
(GMM) Pirelli is taking the F1 drivers' feedback on board and is working on improving its rain tires.
That is the claim of Mario Isola, a leading official of F1's official supplier, following a key meeting with drivers in Abu Dhabi.
The meeting followed a wave of criticism of Pirelli's rain tires after the red flag, safety car and crash-affected Brazilian grand prix.
"These rain tires are just bad tires," Romain Grosjean, who crashed on the reconnaissance laps even before the Interlagos race, is quoted by Speed Week.
Isola explained: "The basic problem is that we are not able to do much testing. We need more test days to understand better how to make a more suitable product.
"The discussion with the drivers was very interesting," he added in Abu Dhabi.
Speed Week claims that one touted solution is a further wet tire option that is more suited to a track surface like Interlagos.
Isola said: "We are looking at this right now, but again, to have a better tire, we need more testing."
|Toto Wolff to the rescue?|
Wolff open to helping German GP rescue
(GMM) Mercedes is not ruling out making a financial contribution to keep the German grand prix on track.
However, it appears that when the final 2017 calendar is published shortly by the FIA, it will be missing a Hockenheim date after talks with Bernie Ecclestone collapsed.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff joins Bernie Ecclestone in not fully understanding why the German race is struggling for profitability.
"Maybe it is due to the fact that Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel won so many races and titles," he is quoted by Speed Week.
But would Mercedes step into the breach and help Hockenheim pay the fee to Ecclestone?
"The fact is, when the race was doubtful in the past we offered financial help, so we are open to lending a hand. But at that time nothing came of it," revealed Wolff.
Pirelli expecting two-stop Abu Dhabi race
Formula 1 tire supplier Pirelli is expecting teams to favor a two-stop strategy during today's title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Pirelli has nominated the Ultra Soft, Super Soft and Soft compounds at Yas Marina, which will play host to the showdown between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
The pair will both start on the Ultra Softs, with the remainder of the top 10, aside from Red Bull duo Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, who opted for Super Softs in Q2.
Pirelli has advised that the Ultra Soft tire should be used for no longer than 20 laps, with the Super Soft estimated to have a life of 26 laps.
The Soft compound, of which Hamilton and Rosberg both have two fresh sets available, are expected to last for 39 laps.
This evening's race at the Yas Marina Circuit is scheduled for 55 laps.
|Ricciardo will try to outsmart the Mercedes drivers|
Red Bull drivers back different tire strategy
Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen have backed Red Bull's decision to adopt a different tire strategy for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Ricciardo and Verstappen were the only drivers to progress from Q2 on the Super Soft tire, with all others using the Ultra Soft rubber.
As a result, they will start the race on more durable rubber, with Ricciardo fourth, and Verstappen sixth, sandwiching the Ferraris.
"We've got to try something," Ricciardo said of Red Bull's strategy.
"It seems to be a bit of a trend this year, if we're in a position to qualify on a different tire, to see if it gives is an opportunity, and we'll see what it does – hopefully it puts us in the fight.
"Beyond that Q3 was good, it was a pretty slow start to the session for me, but we chipped away at it.
"When it mattered in Q3 it felt like I put in some [competitive] times, so I'm happy, as third was the target, and hopefully we can be somewhere up here [in the top three] tomorrow."
Verstappen is confident over the Super Soft tire's potential.
"The Ultra Soft is quite weak in the long runs," said Verstappen.
"I did a long run in [final practice], with the temperatures way higher, and the Super Soft was quite good, so we'll see tomorrow, we just tried something different.
"If you do the same tires you are just following."
Verstappen, who finished second fastest to Sebastian Vettel in final practice, is keen to make up for a low-key qualifying, having been slowest in the Red Bull/Ferrari scrap.
"I have to go forward, the pace was there all weekend," he said.
"In the end I'm starting last from the top three teams (Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari), so I'm definitely not happy, but for sure it will be an interesting race."