Latest F1 news in brief – Saturday

  • Lauda doesn't want the FIA to muck with Mercedes' advantage
    Lauda doesn't want the FIA to muck with Mercedes' advantage

    Lauda, teams want less FIA interference

  • Alonso has 'given up' on constant rule changes
  • Controversy, rows brewing over 'Halo'
  • German media predicting close Mercedes fight
  • Verstappen jokes about Raikkonen controversy
  • Magnussen admits Renault axe reports 'annoying'
  • McLaren's Alonso says Allison 'outstanding'

Lauda, teams want less FIA interference
(GMM) F1's top teams are pleading with race director Charlie Whiting to ease his stance when it comes to 'track limits'.

In Thursday's Strategy Group meeting, officials for Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull thought they had made progress when it comes to not always penalizing drivers for simply putting wheels over the lined extremities of the track.

But then in Friday practice at Hockenheim, the FIA's Whiting was once again strictly enforcing so-called 'track limits'.

"We all asked Charlie to stop this thing of punishing a driver for being a few centimeters over a line," F1 legend and Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda told Brazil's Globo Esporte.

"We said seeing drivers pushing is spectacular and good for F1. Charlie said he didn't agree but would meet our request, but it wasn't true," he added.

Indeed, there are suggestions other top teams are similarly losing patience with the ever strict and constantly changing rules of F1, with Ferrari and Red Bull also backing Lauda and Mercedes.

"We need to end this 'under investigation' for every moment we see," said Lauda. "Like the stupid situation in Budapest, where six hours after qualifying we didn't know if Nico (Rosberg) was really on pole.

"How do we explain all this to the viewer? It's crazy.

"F1 needs more easily understood rules so that what people watch on TV corresponds to reality. We can no longer keep changing the outcome as we go.

"It's a serious mistake," Lauda insisted.

If you ask Alonso (L) what he thinks about the FIA he would probably call them a bunch of mental midgets
If you ask Alonso (L) what he thinks about the rules committee he would probably call them a bunch of mental midgets

Alonso has 'given up' on constant rule changes
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has revealed he has "given up" trying to follow the complex and ever-changing F1 rules.

He is apparently referring to yellow flag rule changes, the on again, off-again radio clampdown, rules for moving in the braking zone, and 'track limits', all of which have been hotly debated in the Hockenheim paddock.

Asked if he will be contributing to those debates, the Spaniard was quoted by Spanish reporters as answering: "No, I've already given up.

"In each race things change, so now I just say 'tell me what to do' and I do it, that's it."

'Track limits', for instance, is a constantly controversial topic with only some corners strictly policed in different ways around the calendar.

Alonso said: "Today it's this, tomorrow it could be another so I will ask the team what I have to do each time.

"In every race things change: we're now going back to the (radio) rules of a year ago because they tried to make it super-spectacular but nothing changed or it was even worse.

"When it's time for qualifying I will ask what I have to do so I don't waste my time," he added.

The Halo on the Red Bull
The Halo on the Red Bull

Controversy, rows brewing over 'Halo'
(GMM) A big controversy is brewing over F1's cockpit protection concept 'Halo', after the teams and FIA agreed to delay its introduction until 2018.

It has infuriated GPDA president Alex Wurz, after F1 race director Charlie Whiting announced that the system needs more testing and development time.

"Just one week ago the FIA safety experts presented this solution as the most researched safety device ever and said that it is ready to go, so maybe we have a communication problem between here and there," he is quoted by the Morning Star.

"I am surprised by the decision and I dearly hope it is not one that one day we will all come to bitterly regret."

The issue has also split the drivers, with the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button having strongly criticized Jolyon Palmer for suggesting that Halo is not almost universally liked among the driver camp.

"If you ask the drivers, there's still a large number that are against it," said Palmer. "I'm not lying."

One suggestion, however, is that Halo was delayed because retractable technology that could do the same job but not visually change the 'DNA' of F1 could be just down the road.

F1 race director Charlie Whiting played down those claims.

"I think it would be wholly impractical, personally," he said.

"I think it is better to continue down that path (Halo) and not try to do something completely new that might need another three years of development."

Whiting said 'Halo' offers better visibility than, say, a Le Mans prototype, but admitted that in a recent test, Red Bull tester Pierre Gasly talked about being "claustrophobic".

"I think it would be very difficult to roll these things out at the beginning of the year and then find you've got a fundamental visibility problem," said Whiting.

"What we are looking to do is make it clear that every driver has to try it for a whole free practice session during the course of this year," he added.

Will Hamilton beat Rosberg again?
Will Hamilton beat Rosberg again?

German media predicting close Mercedes fight
(GMM) F1's respected German journalists are expecting the fight between Mercedes' warring teammates to remain close in 2016.

At the halfway point of the season, Lewis Hamilton has taken a narrow championship lead for the first time but Michael Schmidt, the respected Auto Motor und Sport correspondent, thinks Nico Rosberg is still in the fight.

"They are almost the same," he told Bild newspaper.

Sueddeutsche Zeitung's Rene Hofmann adds: "In critical moments, Hamilton's ego, instinct and determination prevail.

"He thinks of nothing but himself and his success," he added.

But free-to-air broadcaster RTL's presenter Florian Konig thinks: "Nico's intelligence, diligence and analytics will keep the natural talent of Hamilton at bay."

Finally, Bild reporter Helmut Uhl said: "The heart says Nico, the head says Hamilton.

"But I am going to agree with (pop singer) Joris' hit and say 'Herz uber Kopf (heart over head)."

Max Verstappen is confident in his abilities but a tad arrogant
Max Verstappen is confident in his abilities but a tad arrogant

Verstappen jokes about Raikkonen controversy
(GMM) Max Verstappen says he is not fazed by the furor surrounding his recent on-track battle with Kimi Raikkonen in Hungary.

Although the FIA didn't penalize him, F1 veteran Raikkonen complained vociferously about the Dutch teenager having moved in the braking zone.

"Kimi doesn't say much but when he does, he usually has a point," world champion Lewis Hamilton said at Hockenheim.

Most of the rest of the grid agrees too.

"I think all of the drivers are against what Max did," Verstappen's former Toro Rosso teammate Carlos Sainz is quoted by the Spanish sports daily Marca.

"Because we say that doesn't mean we've never done it or been tempted but I think it shouldn't be allowed because it's very dangerous," he added.

18-year-old Verstappen, however, says he hasn't talked the incident over with the Ferrari driver.

"No, it was not necessary," he told Stuttgarter Nachrichten newspaper at Hockenheim.

But when told about the widespread criticism by his racing colleagues, Verstappen added: "The stewards had all the information and did nothing. So everything was ok.

"Also, I have to say that we're racing in formula one, not doing some sort of Sunday drive where you say 'Oh you're faster so I'll let you pass'."

So when asked if a gesture to Raikkonen was necessary, Verstappen joked to the Finnish broadcaster MTV: "Maybe I'll buy him an ice cream. We can have an ice cream together.

"I think he likes them, and so do I."

Finally, Verstappen was asked why his famous father Jos is now only rarely seen at grands prix.

Max answered: "My career seems to be in the right direction, so I think he has done his main job in bringing me to F1.

"He also has a family and a home and at some point I have to go my own way."

If Kevin Magnussen's check was bigger the axe rumors would go away
If Kevin Magnussen's check was bigger the axe rumors would go away

Magnussen admits Renault axe reports 'annoying'
(GMM) Kevin Magnussen has called reports that he will leave Renault at the end of the season "annoying".

Two respected British media outlets, including the magazine F1 Racing, are claiming that the Dane as well as Jolyon Palmer will lose their places at the Renault works team.

It is rumored Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez are first in line for the seats, but the Danish newspaper BT quoted Magnussen as calling that speculation "annoying".

"I think I'm working hard and doing a good job so there is probably no reason to worry," he added.

"And in comparison with Palmer I have had a clear advantage through the first half of the season."

So Magnussen, 23, played down the apparent seriousness of the situation.

"From a timing point of view it's not so bad because I've been through it before," he said. "The only thing I can say for sure is that at the moment no one has a signed contract with Renault for 2017," he added.

BT correspondent Peter Nygaard also said it is not time for Magnussen to panic.

"It is clear that Renault is in no hurry," he said. "If they want him, they can take up the option when they have to and still look around at the (other) drivers.

"It's a frustrating situation for Kevin and a repeat of what happened to him in 2014, but fortunately for him he is a much more mature person and driver than he was at McLaren," Nygaard added.

Asked if he is surprised Magnussen's career is once again under a cloud, he answered: "No, this is formula one.

"There are 22 seats and I think 12 of them are drivers with much more money than Kevin. So there are 10 left and it's the eternal battle," Nygaard said.

Kind words about James Allison
Kind words about James Allison from Alonso. Is he headed to McLaren?

McLaren's Alonso says Allison 'outstanding'
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has described Ferrari's departed technical chief James Allison as "outstanding".

The timing of the Spaniard's comments are interesting, given speculation linking Briton Allison's exit with his desire to return to a UK-based team, in the wake of the death of his wife.

At Hockenheim, Kimi Raikkonen said he didn't want to comment on the matter, given the "respect" he has for the 48-year-old.

Having left Ferrari at the end of 2014, a year after Allison joined the Maranello team, Alonso now drives for UK-based McLaren-Honda.

"James is an outstanding engineer, as I learned in my two titles with Renault in 2005 and of 2006," Alonso told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I also know from my time at Ferrari that (Allison successor) Mattia Binotto is very good and can only wish him the best of luck in his new role.

"It is not the first time the job of Ferrari's technical director has been entrusted to an engine man, and it will probably not be the last," Alonso added.

Alonso is definitely staying at McLaren for 2017, and he is expected to be joined as teammate by Belgian rookie Stoffel Vandoorne.

For Alonso, it may rekindle memories of McLaren in 2007, when his pairing with another team protege and rookie Lewis Hamilton ended unhappily.

Asked if he has learned a lesson from that, Alonso told Brazil's Globo Esporte: "There is no great lesson, to be honest.

"I also had teammates like Nelsinho (Piquet), Felipe (Massa) who was already part of Ferrari, and Kimi (Raikkonen), who was the last Ferrari champion.

"In 2007 it was only because Lewis was very protected by McLaren, and we had a very competitive car and fought for the title which nobody expected. Importantly, Lewis is also British, and Stoffel is not," Alonso added.

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