Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Pirelli lowering tire pressures
    Pirelli lowering tire pressures

    Pirelli begins to bring down high pressures

  • Kubica tested in Renault F1 simulator
  • McLaren-Honda 'ready to win' – boss
  • EU politician questions F1's Liberty sale
  • Prost backs Ocon amid Renault rumors
  • Rosberg has chance to win 2016 title – Berger
  • Honda still unsure over Malaysia upgrade
  • Hamilton out to end Rosberg's winning run
  • Haas to re-test new front wing in Malaysia

Pirelli begins to bring down high pressures
(GMM) Pirelli is beginning to ramp down its controversially high compulsory minimum tire pressures, according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

Teams and drivers have complained that the high pressures, dictated by Pirelli on safety grounds, are so high that tires are like 'wood' or 'balloons'.

But Auto Motor und Sport now claims that, over the course of the last three races, pressures on the rear tires have started to come down, while the front pressures remain "extremely high".

In Singapore, for instance, while the fronts had to be run at 20 PSI, the rears came down to 16.5.

"They are almost normal pressures now," an unnamed engineer said.

However, the report claims that because the fronts remain high, it means the tire temperatures and wear rates are different from front to rear.

It is claimed the difference is explained by how teams set up the front camber, which puts additional load on the tires.

However, respected correspondent Michael Schmidt says some teams actually suspect that Pirelli made recent changes to the rear tire construction, which "could be a reason why the balance of power changed after the summer break".

Robert Kubica
Robert Kubica

Kubica tested in Renault F1 simulator
(GMM) Robert Kubica recently tested in Renault's F1 simulator, team boss Frederic Vasseur has admitted.

The highly rated Pole Kubica, now 31, has been out of formula one since almost severing his arm in an early 2011 rallying crash.

He has raced in the world rally championship, and last weekend he finished on the podium as he made his return to circuit racing in the Renault Sport Trophy at Spa.

Kubica clearly still has a strong relationship with Renault — his last team in F1.

When asked about Kubica's strong result at Spa, Vasseur said: "It is no secret that Robert has spent time in the simulator at Enstone.

"I have a good relationship with him. It was interesting for me to put him in the simulator to get his feelings, as he has great experience in this world, and much of it in our cars," he added.

McLaren-Honda 'ready to win' – boss
(GMM) McLaren-Honda is expecting to match engine pacesetters Mercedes next year.

Amid reports that Mercedes is now edging towards the 1000 horse power mark, McLaren's once-struggling works supplier Honda is making strong strides forwards.

"Next year we are equal to Mercedes in horse power," Honda's F1 chief Yusuke Hasegawa is quoted by the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad.

That would tie in with Fernando Alonso's bold claim that wins and even a title tilt are the targets for next year.

And his team boss Eric Boullier agreed: "We are ready, more than ever, to win."

It has been a particularly lean spell for the once-great British team, having failed to win a single grand prix since 2012.

Boullier said: "We have been working hard on our new concept that we believe in. It took Red Bull seven years and Mercedes five.

"If you take the average of all the races (in 2016) then we are at Ferrari's level in terms of the chassis. Red Bull and Mercedes are better, but we are best of the rest."

EU politician questions F1's Liberty sale
(GMM) A European politician has questioned whether F1's high profile sale to Liberty Media should be allowed to proceed.

Earlier, it was British EU parliamentarian Anneliese Dodds who pushed hardest for Sauber and Force India to lodge their complaint about the sport's income distribution and governance systems.

And now, she is turning her attention to the Liberty deal.

An alleged conflict of interest was first raised by former FIA president Max Mosley recently, when he pointed out that the sport's governing body must simultaneously approve the deal whilst standing to gain $90 million.

"It may be that the European Commission might come along and say 'You're not allowed to do that', but they might not," he had said.

However, officials are clearly pushing ahead with the Liberty handover.

F1 sponsorship guru Zak Brown has now confirmed that he is stepping down from his agency, amid strong rumors he will take up a prominent role with Liberty.

"I will take this experience forward to my next chapter in the arena I know best — motor sport," Brown confirmed in a statement.

But politician Dodds wants the brakes to be slammed on.

"It is unacceptable that a regulator of any industry should be allowed to benefit financially from sanctioning the sale of one of the companies it regulates," she told F1 business journalist Christian Sylt.

And two top lawyers agree with Dodds and Mosley that the FIA's controversial ownership of a 1 per cent stake could be a spanner in the works.

"If the FIA approves the sale, people may question whether it was driven by the desire to get the multi-million sale proceeds," sports lawyer Charles Briathwaite told Sylt and the Telegraph.

Tim Owen QC added: "No regulator exercising quasi-judicial powers can have a financial interest in the very subject matter it is supposed to be regulating as an independent, unbiased body."

Alain Prost
Alain Prost

Prost backs Ocon amid Renault rumors
(GMM) F1 legend Alain Prost has backed his countryman Esteban Ocon to keep climbing the sport's ladder.

With back-to-back European F3 and GP3 titles, the 20-year-old leapt from his DTM seat this year into his mid-season F1 debut with Manor, replacing Rio Haryanto.

Frenchman Ocon has the backing not only of Mercedes but also Renault, and it is with the latter French works team that he is now a leading candidate to drive full-time for in 2017.

"Esteban is driving for Manor now but he is supported by two major automakers — it is the ideal conditions for his debut in formula one," Prost, a quadruple world champion and Renault brand ambassador, told the Canal Plus broadcaster.

"I don't know what will happen, but I believe that his prospects are excellent.

"I'm not sure what awaits him next year, in particular with Renault, but there is a lot of talk about it. I don't know what's happening within the team, but Esteban is one of the most promising young drivers," Prost said.

"I don't know what Renault will decide, but in any case, Esteban is on the right track."

Will Rosberg choke again?
Will Rosberg choke again?

Rosberg has chance to win 2016 title – Berger
(GMM) Gerhard Berger says he is ready to sit back and watch Mercedes' two stars fight it out for the 2016 title.

Not long ago, the F1 legend headed the negotiations for Nico Rosberg's new contract with the German team.

But now, Berger says he is impartial once again.

"For me, it is now about the sport again. May the better one win," the former McLaren and Ferrari driver told Austrian broadcaster Servus TV.

However, it is Rosberg who has the upper hand at the moment, having won the last three races on the trot and even taken an 8 point lead after Singapore.

"That Nico can win is a big message to the outside," said Berger, "because Lewis (Hamilton) is a tough nut — one of the best I've seen. Incredibly fast, incredibly aggressive."

When asked if he thinks Rosberg can keep that lead until the checkered flag of the Abu Dhabi finale, Berger answered: "Of course he can.

"He had the chance two years ago and lost it only in the last race. This year he has that chance again.

"But Lewis is of course not to be underestimated. He could suddenly explode once again. Of course, he also has his weaknesses, like in the last race, so we will have to wait and see who is ahead at the end," Berger added.

Honda still unsure over Malaysia upgrade
Honda is still unsure about introducing a power unit upgrade at the Malaysian Grand Prix, and will make a final call later in the week, according to the firm's Formula 1 chief, Yusuke Hasegawa.

Honda last introduced an update at Spa-Francorchamps, worth seven tokens, and Hasegawa made clear to that the remaining three would be used up over the final races.

It is not yet clear, however, if an update will come at this weekend's Sepang event.

"We are not 100 per cent certain if we will install any updates for this race, but we'll look to make our final decision at the track based on the balance of performance and reliability," said Hasegawa.

McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso have both used their allocated six power units this season, meaning any replacement engine components would lead to grid penalties.

Honda, though, will likely want to avoid any penalties for its home race in Japan.

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton out to end Rosberg's winning run
Lewis Hamilton has admitted that he needs to get back to winning ways if he is to clinch the 2016 title, after Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg reclaimed the title lead.

Rosberg won the Belgian, Italian and Singapore Grands Prix to turn a 19-point deficit into an eight point advantage with six races to go, and 150 points up for grabs.

Hamilton admitted that Rosberg was simply the stronger driver at Marina Bay, but is hopeful of returning to the top step of the podium, starting at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

"Singapore was a difficult weekend for me, so to come away with a podium in the circumstances was pretty good damage limitation," said Hamilton, reflecting on the night race.

"Nico did an exceptional job and I didn't have my best weekend, but that's the way it goes.

"We're both fiercely competitive. Some weekends he does great, some weekends I do great. It's a combination of things that all come together to make a strong weekend and everyone is different.

"I have no idea if the momentum will swing back to me or when it might, but we still have six races left, so I just have to keep giving it my all and hope for the best – that's all you can do as a sportsman.

"It's going to take some good results to get back in front and stay there, but I've had plenty of those in the past, so there's no reason to think they won't come back to me again.

"Sepang is my first shot at it and I'm really looking forward to getting out there. It should be a great weekend, so if we can get a result to match that would be awesome."

Hamilton won the 2014 Malaysian Grand Prix from pole position.

Grosjean in the Haas at Monza
Grosjean in the Haas at Monza

Haas to re-test new front wing in Malaysia
Haas will re-test its upgraded front wing at this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix, after a troubled weekend in Singapore last time out, team boss Guenther Steiner has confirmed.

Haas brought a new front wing plus modifications to the floor arrangement and brake ducts for the Marina Bay street race, the team's final planned update package of the season.

Romain Grosjean had the parts fitted to his car for the first practice session, but completed just two laps before technical issues struck, meaning Haas failed to gather sufficient data.

Haas ultimately scrapped the wing, but will apply it again at Sepang.

"We didn't run the new front wing because the drivers weren't sure how to set the car up with the new wing; we need to re-test it in Malaysia," said Steiner, on the subject of the updates.

"It's very difficult to test something in Singapore due to the walls. The readings of the data are sometimes different because you get different aero data when you're running between walls.

"The brakes ducts all worked. They will be on for the rest of the year with no problem."

Steiner is hopeful that Haas will enjoy a much smoother weekend in Malaysia.

"If we can get back to a normal weekend routine and get through the program, we can get the data we need. If not, we can't do it properly," Steiner stressed ahead of the event.

"In Singapore, Romain stopped after FP1 and Esteban [Gutierrez's] focus was more on the tires and not the front wing, so we didn't have the data [for the rest of the weekend].

"In Malaysia, if we run a normal routine, we can test the wings back-to-back. In Singapore, we didn't have that luxury because we had to send Esteban out to get data on the tires."

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