Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Hembery gets the answers he demanded
    Hembery gets the answers he demanded

    2017 F1 tire supply crisis averted

  • Palmer performance 'embarrassing' in China
  • Kvyat tips Red Bull to catch Mercedes
  • Montagny wonders about Hamilton 'focus'
  • Montagny thinks Ferrari fastest in China
  • Hakkinen hopes Alonso has 'patience' to win again
  • Rosberg 'not thinking about new contract' – Lauda
  • Ericsson willing to swap cars with Nasr
  • Grosjean blames 'adrenaline' for Ericsson attack
  • Haryanto raising F1 backing by text message

2017 F1 tire supply crisis averted
(GMM) A tire supply crisis in formula one has been averted at the eleventh hour.

As he departed Shanghai, Pirelli's F1 chief Paul Hembery warned that unless an agreement for much more tire testing ahead of the 2017 regulations was rubber-stamped immediately, the Italian company would pull out of the sport.

But Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport said the F1 Commission had averted the crisis by "approving" rule tweaks to accommodate Pirelli's new test needs.

An FIA spokesman confirmed the news.

However, a tumultuous start to the political year in F1 is continuing.

Red Bull's Christian Horner thinks moves to improve the engine situation will falter, after the FIA pushed for a reduction in costs, guarantee of supply, a convergence of performance, and more noise.

"As we sit here now we are not anywhere near having met any of those criteria," he said.

And now most of the teams – McLaren and Red Bull aside – are rebelling against the sweeping chassis changes for 2017, fearing more downforce will only make overtaking more difficult.

Mercedes' Toto Wolff thinks F1 is making the car changes at exactly the wrong moment, just as Ferrari and Red Bull are finally closing the gap to the reigning champions.

"We should just leave it alone," he said. "We don't have the advantage we had last year, the racing is great and it will become even greater if we leave the regulations alone."

Finally, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that amid frustration at the toxic political situation, F1's major manufacturers are pushing for the deposing of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

Jolyon Palmer
Jolyon Palmer

Palmer performance 'embarrassing' in China
(GMM) Jolyon Palmer's performance in China last weekend was "embarrassing".

That is the view of Jason Watt, a former F3000 driver and pundit who scoffed at Briton Palmer finishing dead last in his Renault in Shanghai.

"Kevin (Magnussen) really got the upper hand" in China, Watt, a Dane like Magnussen, told Ekstra Bladet newspaper.

"You have to say that Renault generally had a hard time (in China), but I think it is bordering on embarrassing when Palmer is behind the Manor when there is nothing actually wrong with the car," he added.

"If he (Palmer) continues like this, then even the money he brings to the team will not secure his seat," said Watt.

The Danish newspaper quoted Magnussen as saying after the race: "I was much faster than him (Palmer), but I don't know if there was something wrong with his car."

Renault is expecting to improve in the coming weeks, mainly by introducing a major upgrade for its engine in Canada.

"Mercedes has done a great job and is far ahead of us, but at the same time I think their learning curve is levelling off, making it easier for us to catch up," Renault's Cyril Abiteboul told BT newspaper.

"In fact, we believe we have already reduced the gap to them with the improvements we made during the winter.

"The development will continue, otherwise I'll be fired," he laughed.

Daniil Kvyat naive to think Aldo Costa won't keep making the Mercedes faster
Daniil Kvyat naive to think Aldo Costa won't keep making the Mercedes faster

Kvyat tips Red Bull to catch Mercedes
(GMM) Daniil Kvyat is expecting Red Bull to challenge F1 pacesetter Mercedes later in 2016.

The Russian surprised with his podium finish in China last weekend, the day after teammate Daniel Ricciardo qualified on the front row of the grid.

"I believe the Red Bull is the best chassis on the grid," works Renault driver Kevin Magnussen told the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet.

And so with Renault expected to dramatically improve Red Bull's Tag Heuer-branded power unit in the coming weeks, Kvyat is confident of more podium finishes.

"Sunday's race has given us a lot of confidence," Kvyat is quoted by Russia's Sportbox. "I think our pace was almost comparable to Ferrari's, and we have proved we are already the third team.

"Mercedes is still a long way ahead of us, but we are planning large updates around the Canada race," the 21-year-old added.

"Perhaps they will allow us to compete on an even footing with Mercedes."

Hamilton's focus questioned
Hamilton's focus questioned

Montagny wonders about Hamilton 'focus'
(GMM) Yet another expert is wondering if a loss of focus might explain Lewis Hamilton's poor start to the 2016 season.

Although reliability problems badly marred his weekend in Shanghai, the reigning world champion's defeat to teammate Nico Rosberg was his sixth in succession.

Hamilton is already 36 points behind the sister Mercedes, but Rosberg is not ready to count his chickens.

"The points gap is nothing if you consider all the points still up for grabs this year," said the German.

But that doesn't mean Hamilton's difficult year will not continue in Russia and beyond, causing experts like former F1 driver Franck Montagny to consider the reasons.

"It's hard to explain," the Frenchman, who raced for Super Aguri in 2006, told Le Point, a French newsmagazine. "Last year he was untouchable.

"Unlike his teammate (Rosberg), who works tirelessly with his engineers, Lewis Hamilton seems more solitary. He may have been too relaxed in the off-season, not going into the new season with 100 per cent focus.

"Fortunately, he doesn't show any signs of frustration, but that might not last," Montagny added.

Hamilton insists that his lack of frustration is because he still feels fully competitive alongside Rosberg, despite the German's run of wins and early points gap.

"Nico has had two better (race) starts but he's not yet proved he's faster than me overall," Hamilton said at the Laureus awards on Monday.

As for his alleged loss of focus, the Briton added: "I'm super-driven."

Rosberg, though, is riding a wave of confidence, with former double world champion Mika Hakkinen agreeing the German has been "fantastic" so far in 2016.

"He looks very confident and strong," the Finn told the Spanish news agency EFE. "But the season is extremely long."

Franck Montagny must be on some hallucinogen
Franck Montagny must be on some hallucinogen to think Ferrari faster than Mercedes

Montagny thinks Ferrari fastest in China
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel was furious after the Chinese grand prix, but he actually has reason to smile.

That is the view of former F1 driver Franck Montagny, even though the clashing red cars in Shanghai meant Vettel was disappointed with second place.

But Montagny told the French newsmagazine Le Point: "I think Ferrari were the fastest cars in the weekend.

"They did no better than second and fifth but they suffered many misadventures in the race.

"Vettel was aware he could have won and so the clash with his teammate made him crazy!" the Frenchman added, referring to the post-race argument with Daniil Kvyat.

Another former F1 driver, Robert Doornbos, agrees that Vettel's anger with Kvyat was unjustified.

"I liked Kvyat's reaction," the Dutchman told Ziggo Sport Totaal. "To say 'This is racing' is the only answer he could give.

"Vettel should stop whining and just go racing," Doornbos added.

According to the Italian press, the German and his resurgent teammate Kimi Raikkonen should be able to do that in the coming races, thanks to the strong 2016 Ferrari.

"Ferrari finally instils fear in its rivals," Corriere dello Sport declared after China.

"Even with a damaged car, and although (Nico) Rosberg's win was easy, Vettel was fast and reliable," the Rome-based sports newspaper added.

Will Alonso ever win again?
Will Alonso ever win again?

Hakkinen hopes Alonso has 'patience' to win again
(GMM) Mika Hakkinen hopes Fernando Alonso has the "patience" to wait for McLaren-Honda to succeed in formula one.

Reigning back-to-back world champion Lewis Hamilton, Alonso's 2007 teammate, grinned a clear "No!" on Monday when asked if he would feel good to be in the Spaniard's current shoes.

"It reminds me of the decision I made," the Briton, referring to his decision to leave McLaren for Mercedes in late 2012, told the Spanish news agency EFE in Berlin.

"I could have stayed too but it turns out I made the right decision," Hamilton added. "Fernando took a similar decision to leave Ferrari, but McLaren are having a lot of problems now," Hamilton added.

"It's a test for him," he said. "Now he has to try to keep his morale high, which is definitely hard to do."

Another highly successful former McLaren driver is Mika Hakkinen, who tipped the now Honda-powered outfit to eventually return to the top of the order.

"All they can do and must do is keep working hard," said the Finn.

"There are no miracles, no short cuts. Only development and finding solutions. And some day, things will start to go the right way.

"The big question is 'How long will it take?'

"For me, it took many, many years until I won my first race in formula one. So now it could take a few years for Fernando to win again.

"He has been in formula one for many years, he has been world champion twice. Will he have enough patience? That is the question. But I hope so.

"Fernando is a great guy and a great driver," Hakkinen added.

Rosberg has no worries about new contract
Rosberg has no worries about new contract

Rosberg 'not thinking about new contract' – Lauda
(GMM) Championship leader Nico Rosberg and Mercedes have played down rising speculation about the German driver's expiring contract.

Reports have suggested Rosberg is on pole position for a new deal beyond 2016, given his six straight wins.

But Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda told Bild newspaper in Berlin: "Nico is not thinking about a new contract.

"He is currently so strong that while the topic interests the media, for a driver it is nothing," he said.

Rosberg agreed: "This is currently not an issue for me. But I do want to continue for many years here (at Mercedes), that's clear."

Some reports have said Mercedes will want to quickly secure a deal with the on-form 30-year-old, but former F1 driver Marc Surer is not so sure.

"Mercedes is still in the best bargaining position," he said, "because all other options for Nico are worse. And without a new contract in his pocket, a driver goes hungry."

Marcus Ericsson thinks he is simply better than Nasr
Marcus Ericsson thinks he is simply better than Nasr

Ericsson willing to swap cars with Nasr
(GMM) Marcus Ericsson says he is willing to swap chassis with struggling teammate Felipe Nasr ahead of the forthcoming Russian grand prix.

Amid Sauber's obvious financial troubles, Brazilian Nasr claims his personal performance struggle so far in 2016 is due to a problem with his chassis.

"I am 100 per cent sure the car is not right," he is quoted by Brazil's UOL after China.

"I'm struggling all the time but he (Ericsson)'s happy with the car from the start. I drove that (Ericsson's) car in Barcelona and I was happy too," Nasr added.

Swede Ericsson told UOL he would be happy to swap cars at Sochi in order to confirm or rule out Nasr's suspicions.

"Why not? I'm willing," he said. "I wouldn't mind. I will make this proposal and see what he says."

Ericsson suspects that he is simply out-performing Nasr on merit.

"I was already stronger at the end of last year," he said. "I have worked very hard in the preseason to be even stronger this year and I have confidence in the team and the car.

"I think I have clearly shown who is the strongest driver," Ericsson added.

Romain Grosjean
Romain Grosjean

Grosjean blames 'adrenaline' for Ericsson attack
(GMM) Romain Grosjean has blamed "adrenaline" on his post-race rants about rival Marcus Ericsson following the Chinese grand prix.

Swede Ericsson, who drives for Sauber, blasted the "unprofessional" Frenchman Grosjean, who had called Ericsson names following a collision in Shanghai.

"He said that I was an idiot, I'm blind — (Grosjean was) not behaving like a mature adult," Ericsson said.

Grosjean admits he was simply frustrated in China, where he struggled all weekend after two consecutive points finishes in Australia and Bahrain as Haas made its F1 debut.

"We had two superb first grands prix and were then unsuccessful in China," he told RMC. "But it is almost positive because it allows us to analyze, to understand and to realize that F1 is not as easy as it seems.

"Under the influence of adrenaline, I called Ericsson a fool because I was high in the drivers' championship and wanted to continue my momentum.

"In the past, I have had some incidents and I learned from the experience and the feedback that I received," Grosjean added.

He said he has no doubt Haas will bounce back stronger in Russia, but former F1 driver and fellow Frenchman Franck Montagny is not so sure.

"Grosjean was clearly not at the party in China," he told Le Point, "which after two superb performances is incomprehensible.

"It may be a problem of the pressure being too high, but that does not explain everything," Montagny added.

Rio Haryanto
Rio Haryanto

Haryanto raising F1 backing by text message
(GMM) A novel campaign in Indonesia to keep Rio Haryanto on the 2016 grid has been launched.

CNN Indonesia reports that the government has organized five telecommunications companies – Telkomsel, Indosat, Smartfren, XL Axiata and Tri – to help the rookie compile the last EUR 4.2 million he owes to Manor.

Fans can text the word 'Rio' to a mobile number, costing them a small amount that will go into Haryanto's sponsorship pot.

The report said 12.4 million text messages are needed by mid-July.

"Let's support this. Make it like taking medicine, three times a day," said communications minister Ridiantara.

With over 250 million people, Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world.

"The number of mobile phone users in Indonesia is high, so if everyone does this, we'll have enough for the donation," the minister added.

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