Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Felipe Massa says Williams 4th best
    Felipe Massa says Williams 4th best

    Massa admits 'three teams' better than Williams

  • Vettel-Kvyat a 'normal racing incident' – Heidfeld
  • Lifestyle not reason for Hamilton slump – Heidfeld
  • Monza contract talks still on – official
  • No motivation charge 'absurd' – Alonso
  • Too soon for contract talks – Raikkonen
  • Ecclestone wants six USA races, 25-race calendar
  • Hamilton: I don't owe F1 anything

Massa admits 'three teams' better than Williams
(GMM) Felipe Massa has acknowledged that Williams has fallen behind the top three teams in 2016.

The independent British team finished third overall in both 2014 and 2015, the other two seasons in the new 'power unit' era.

But after the third race of this year, in China, Brazilian driver Massa admitted: "I think now there are three teams that are faster than us."

He is referring to reigning champions and engine suppliers Mercedes, 2016 title challenger Ferrari, and the resurgent Renault-powered Red Bull team.

"Three teams are in good shape, better than us," Massa is quoted by Brazil's Globo.

"We can get a little closer – depending on the track – to Red Bull in qualifying. But we know that in the race they have a much stronger car," he added.

Massa finished sixth in Shanghai.

"I finished in the best position I could," he said. "We really need to understand where the other cars are better than ours.

"We know it will not be easy, but we will continue to fight and to work."

Nick Heidfeld
Nick Heidfeld

Vettel-Kvyat a 'normal racing incident' – Heidfeld
(GMM) More pundits have sided with Daniil Kvyat, after Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel slammed the young Russian following the Chinese grand prix.

Kvyat, 21, held his ground amid Vettel's verbal rebuke just before the podium ceremony in Shanghai, after the Red Bull driver's first-corner passing move that preceded a collision between the two Ferraris.

"A crime against the racing gods!" former F1 driver Nick Heidfeld joked as he appeared on Austrian television Servus TV this week.

"No, seriously, it was just a normal racing incident.

"Daniil Kvyat, on the right, cannot be expected to see what is happening to the left of Sebastian Vettel's car. Vettel was just caught in the middle, which is something that can happen," the former Sauber and Williams driver explained.

And German motor racing legend Hans-Joachim Stuck agreed: "It must be understood that formula one is no walk in the park.

"Fans come to the tracks and turn on the TV to see interesting fights, and I am very pleased that in Shanghai that is what they saw," he added.

Heidfeld, however, admitted that he no longer religiously watches each race, arguing that formula one is not as spectacular as in his era.

"I have to say honestly that I have not seen all of the races," said the 38-year-old, who now drives in Formula E.

"I was (racing sports cars) at Silverstone last weekend, so I missed the Chinese grand prix, but just the fact that I did not set the alarm for formula one proves that a little something is missing these days.

"Because previously, I didn't miss a single race," Heidfeld added.

He pointed the finger at the artificial overtaking aid DRS and also the fact that the cars are no longer as fast, but another former F1 driver, Timo Glock, thinks the political wrangling is also damaging the sport.

Using the recent qualifying debacle as an example, he said: "I think there are a few power games going on.

"There was no reason to change a familiar and well-established mode for qualifying," the former Toyota driver told the German news agency SID.

"Look at football or tennis — sports with consistent and simple rules that everyone understands. That is why they are so popular," Glock added.

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton

Lifestyle not reason for Hamilton slump – Heidfeld
(GMM) Nick Heidfeld has hit out at speculation Lewis Hamilton's full-speed celebrity lifestyle might be affecting his focus on formula one.

The reigning triple world champion has seen his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg win the last six grands prix, triggering suggestions the German might finally be ready to win his first title in 2016.

"When you have a start to the season like this," said German racing legend Hans-Joachim Stuck, "it can change everything.

"Nico is now in exactly the situation that Lewis was a year ago," he told the Austrian broadcaster Servus TV. "He (Hamilton) is analyzing more, he's further back, it's harder for him. As a driver you lose all of the rhythm."

Former F1 driver Timo Glock, however, thinks it is too soon for Rosberg to be having any thoughts about the championship.

"There were three races, and the season is very long," he told the German news agency SID.

"But he (Rosberg) can absolutely win the title, especially if he continues to be as consistent as he has been.

"On the other hand," Glock cautioned, "you have to say that Lewis Hamilton has just had some bad luck, and that could also happen to Nico.

"But to win a championship, you need a season where everything is perfect," he added, "so maybe it's Nico's year."

Some pundits and experts have suggested it is Hamilton's continent-hopping on his private jet and cavorting on red carpets that have diverted his focus away from F1.

But Heidfeld disagrees.

"I think it's not right and not logical if you say Rosberg is better at the moment because of Lewis' jet-set life," he said.

" Lewis has been doing those things for some time. It seems that if he wins and he is wearing sunglasses and having parties, everyone thinks that's cool.

"And if he loses, it is exactly the same things that are the reason for his defeats," Heidfeld added.

Heidfeld thinks Rosberg is simply in top form.

"I had the impression at the end of 2015 that Nico took a new direction and was already thinking about the next season. He then took those three wins into the new season.

"Most would probably agree with me that Lewis is the driver with the god-given talent. Of course Nico also has talent, otherwise he could not beat Hamilton, because he is also a very hard worker and also keeps working on himself," he added.

Monza and Bernie still talking
Monza and Bernie still talking

Monza contract talks still on – official
(GMM) Talks over the future of the embattled Italian grand prix at Monza are still taking place.

That is the latest news from Angelo Sticchi Damiani, the president of the Italian automobile club Aci, amid the troubled negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone over a contract beyond 2016.

"The negotiations for the grand prix at Monza continue, as it is complex and expensive," he is quoted by Italpress, an Italian news agency.

"The Aci will essentially cover the large deficit between the income and the grand prix expenditure, a great responsibility for which I am forced to do not the best, but the least harmful result," Damiani added.

He also commented on Ferrari's resurgence in 2016, declaring: "I see a Ferrari on the rise, with the situation against Mercedes in a process of rebalancing."

Alonso says he's motivated. It must kill him every time a Ferrari blows his doors off
Alonso says he's motivated. It must kill him every time a Ferrari blows his doors off

No motivation charge 'absurd' – Alonso
(GMM) Fernando Alonso insists he is still fully motivated for motor racing.

The Spaniard said a career goal is to add wins at the iconic sports car race Le Mans, and also the Indianapolis 500, to his two world championships.

"Yes," he told the Spanish newspaper AS, "there are three competitions at the top of the legend of motor sport: Monaco, Le Mans and the Indianapolis 500 and I know it's difficult to win all three but it would be a great challenge."

But Alonso says he is not done with F1 quite yet, even though former driver Johnny Herbert recently identified an apparent lack of motivation in the 34-year-old.

"I don't know how on earth people can think I'm not motivated," said the 2005 and 2006 world champion.

"In 2012 I fought for the championship until the last moment. In 2013 I finished second, in 2014 I made triple the points of a driver like Kimi Raikkonen and in 2015 I was pushing the car in Hungary to reach the pitlane.

"Now I had a pneumothorax, two broken ribs and I was asking the FIA to let me drive the car. It's absurd (to say I'm not motivated). You can say anything about me: I'm slow, I'm old, I'm ugly, but not I'm unmotivated," added Alonso.

Told that Herbert's wife had been upset by their run-in in Bahrain, however, Alonso explained: "Well, my mother was worried for weeks about me.

"Worried about the crash in Australia, worried that I flew to Bahrain, worried that I wanted to race, and then this guy (Herbert) says that I want to retire," said Alonso.

Will Ferrari renew Kimi?
Will Ferrari renew Kimi?

Too soon for contract talks – Raikkonen
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen says it is too early to get involved in the 2016 driver 'silly season'.

Many experts are predicting a frenzied round of negotiations later this year, as key potential vacancies at Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren, Williams and elsewhere open up.

2007 world champion Raikkonen could be central to those moves as his Ferrari contract is expiring, but the Finn insists it is too early to worry about it now.

Asked in China if the presence of president Sergio Marchionne was a good opportunity to begin talks, Raikkonen answered: "I met with him at the end of last year and already this year, as it's always interesting to speak with him.

"But we are at only the third race," he is quoted by the German newsmagazine Focus. "Let's see what the future holds."

Ecclestone wants 6 USA races. Surely he's lost his mind.
Ecclestone wants 6 USA races. Surely he's lost his mind.

Ecclestone wants six USA races, 25-race calendar
Bernie Ecclestone wishes to expand the F1 calendar by adding five more races in the USA.

The F1 boss said the sport is “trying" to arrange a new street race in Las Vegas in addition to the existing round at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas. “We’re encouraging a lot more street races," he said.

Asked how many races F1 needs in America, Ecclestone said “really and truly we need at least six." However he indicated a proposed race in New Jersey, which was first planned for 2013, will not go ahead.

Ecclestone was speaking to businessman Sir Martin Sorrell, who is a non-executive director of Formula One Group holding company Alpha Topco, in a wide-ranging interview at the Advertising Week Europe 2016 conference.

This year’s record 21-race calendar could continue to expand in the future, Ecclestone indicated. “I suppose in the end we could have 25 races," he said. “The problem what restricts it is the teams because at the moment the staff’s all on the limit. So we have to be careful."

Along with an increase in American rounds of the championship, Ecclestone also wants to see F1 return to South Africa. “They’re rebuilding Kyalami so we’re going to have a look at it again," he said.

Ecclestone also reiterated his view that Formula One does not need to retain races in Europe including the German Grand Prix, which was missing from last year’s calendar.

“I was told there couldn’t be Formula One without the French Grand Prix," he said. “Still going, no French Grand Prix."

“I wish we had a French Grand Prix and I hope we continue having a German Grand Prix," Ecclestone added.

Hamilton says drivers talk but have no power.
Hamilton says drivers talk but have no power.

Hamilton: I don't owe F1 anything
Bernie Ecclestone has made no secret of the fact that in his opinion Lewis Hamilton is its best asset.

Though the F1 supremo insists that no driver, or team, is bigger than the sport, he acknowledges that the Briton's rock 'n' roll lifestyle attracts interest from way beyond its normal reaches as Hamilton jets around the world rubbing shoulders with stars of screen, recording studio, catwalk and politics.

Whilst some claim his celebratory lifestyle is impacting his racing, and that some of his antics result in negative publicity, Ecclestone, despite believing that drivers should keep their mouths shut and get on with the job, remains a fan.

Speaking to CNN, Hamilton insists that he doesn't owe the sport anything, that he's put in as much as he's taken out, put in far more than any other driver.

"I've been here for 10 years… given my blood, sweat and tears for the sport," he said. "So, I don't feel like I owe it anything.

"I actually probably promote the sport more than any other driver ever has," he continued. "I'm at more events talking about Formula One more than any driver ever has… probably all the other drivers put together and more.

"I don't feel like I have any more of a responsibility. I've got some incredible fans and I give as much time as I can to motivate them and energize those who do follow me. So I don't know what else I have to give."

At a time the Grand Prix Drivers' Association is pushing for more say in the sport, Hamilton, who is not a member, doesn't share its view, feeling it won't be listened to anyway.

"Ultimately sport, business… it's money and power. We (the drivers) will say stuff but ultimately it's those people who are sitting in their chair, striking a pen, paying checks, making money, that will be the ones that (have the final say)," he said. "I'm not saying it's wrong. It's just like a corporate business… money is the power, money is the ruler. The people who own the sport make the decisions."

Asked if he would like more of a say, he replies: "Not really. It doesn't make any difference."

And of his relatively poor start to the 2016 season, and his teammate's gathering momentum…

"As long as I know I've given absolutely everything that's in my physical power and mental ability, as long as I've given everything, I can never be upset. Hopefully I've still showed that fighting spirit that I've always had since I was a kid.

"So another 18 races to go. Still got a great car. Still got a great team. It's important that none of us change anything.

"He's done a great job," he said of his teammate. "I've not been there to really be in the fight with him, he's had pretty much a breeze for the last three races. Good for him.

"But he should enjoy it whilst it lasts, because you never know how long it's going to last." Pitpass

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