Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Alonso says Mercedes cannot be beaten for now

    Mercedes will not be beaten 'in short term' – Alonso

  • Ferrari shelves latest engine spec until 2016
  • Red Bull drops quit threat as engine deadline looms
  • Lotus-Renault buyout still looking uncertain
  • Gutierrez confirms Haas race seat for 2016
  • Hamilton reluctant to help Rosberg beat Vettel
  • Volcano erupts near Mexico GP site
  • Hamilton reflects on Austin cap incident
  • Smedley: Williams must bounce back

The Mercedes is just too fast
The Mercedes is just too fast

Mercedes will not be beaten 'in short term' – Alonso
(GMM) Honda will need to "copy" its rivals if it wants to speed up the process of getting on the pace in F1.

That is the claim of Fernando Alonso, the frustrated Spaniard who admits his motivation is not high at present.

He told the Spanish-language Fox outlet that, on a scale of one to ten, his motivation is currently about "two".

"But after Abu Dhabi, it will be eleven," Alonso insisted.

Indeed, McLaren-Honda does appear to have made some progress recently, with a new engine specification laying the foundation for a step forward in 2016.

Countering recent speculation, Alonso insists he remains committed to the project.

"It's a new project and one for the future," he is quoted by El Mundo Deportivo.

"Despite the lack of results this year I really think the only team that can beat Mercedes in the future is ours, and no team will beat them in the short term."

The biggest problem with the current package has been identified as Honda's energy-recovery systems, leaving the drivers sometimes 160 horse power down on the straights.

"It's just we need to copy the direction everyone has apart from us," Alonso said in Mexico City on Thursday.

He has spoken of catching up 2.5 seconds per lap over the winter, but also acknowledged that "In formula one there is no magic".

"Being out in Q1 one year and the next fighting for the championship is a very, very optimistic target but we will try our best," said Alonso.

Finally, Alonso was reluctant to weigh into the Valentino Rossi versus Marc Marquez dispute, insisting only that "MotoGP has been an example (of great racing) all year and hopefully it stays that way".

Arrivabene decides to wait on new engine
Arrivabene decides to wait on new engine

Ferrari shelves latest engine spec until 2016
(GMM) Ferrari has sidelined the latest specification of its F1 'power unit' for the remainder of the 2015 season.

That is the claim of the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat, referring to the unit that reportedly utilizes the Maranello outfit's final four performance upgrade 'tokens' for the season.

Ferrari considered debuting the engine in Austin, but correspondent Luis Vasconcelos reports that because it also requires a re-designed rear of the car and crash test, the decision has been made to wait until 2016.

"Ferrari wanted to use all the tokens this year," he said, "so that it can focus on using all 32 tokens next year."

The final goal for Ferrari this year is for Sebastian Vettel to keep his spot in front of Nico Rosberg for second place in the drivers' world championship.

Vettel has said previously he is not particularly interested in finishing runner-up, but he declared in Mexico: "Second is better than third, so we will try to finish second.

"We are not the favorites, but in the last few races we have seen that we are coming closer and we have a better chance here and there," added Vettel.

Marko (R) knows Red Bull has to go crawling back to Renault
Marko (R) knows Red Bull has to go crawling back to Renault

Red Bull drops quit threat as engine deadline looms
(GMM) Red Bull appears to have dropped its earlier threat to voluntarily quit formula one.

As team owner Dietrich Mateschitz's end-of-October deadline now looms large, the message is that all the energy drink outfit needs now is a power unit.

"We need to know where things are headed," team official Dr Helmut Marko told the German newspaper Bild.

"Right now, there would be enough time to take a competitive car to the first race in March."

But he said Red Bull currently has "no engine, because the other teams are afraid of us".

It was a similar message emerging from lead driver Daniel Ricciardo's mouth in Mexico, where he said the team "vibe is that we still want to stay here" in F1.

"The only thing that is going to stop us from racing at this point is if no one gives us an engine," said the Australian.

"But I think we will take whatever we can get because we want to be racing. I believe we will be there (in 2016) because everyone wants to be," he added.

With Mercedes, Ferrari and Honda all ruled out, Niki Lauda thinks Red Bull's only option is to go apologetically crawling back to Renault.

"If you ask Marko honestly, 'Did you do too much negative talk in your relationship with Renault?' he always will say to me 'yes'," said the Mercedes team chairman, who often travels to races with his fellow Austrian.

"If Red Bull want to continue and I think they want to, then they have to find a way with Renault," he added.

Maldonado says 2016 should be a better year for Lotus-Renault
Maldonado says 2016 should be a better year for Lotus-Renault

Lotus-Renault buyout still looking uncertain
(GMM) With the Renault buyout still not done, the prevailing mood of uncertainty remains at Lotus for now.

It could be that Red Bull's eleventh-hour efforts to patch up its broken relationship with Renault threw a spanner in the works of the Lotus buyout deal.

"A letter of intent is something," the Haas-bound Lotus driver Romain Grosjean told F1's official website on Thursday, "but it is not the real thing.

"I am hoping for the team that it survives — for all the great people who work there."

Some believe that Lotus' now confirmed lineup for 2016 of Pastor Maldonado alongside Jolyon Palmer – drivers who each bring financial backing – is a strong hint that not all is well with the Renault buyout deal.

When asked about the team's prospects for 2016, Venezuelan Maldonado said in Mexico: "I hope it will be a completely different year to this one, with more resources.

"We need to push harder than this year, especially on the car and try to be more solid on the development."

One theory is that if Lotus does become the works Renault team, the French carmaker will at least want a French driver as the official reserve for 2016.

But BT, a Danish newspaper, said Dane Kevin Magnussen is now linked with that role, perhaps on the promise that he will then step into the race seat for 2017.

"That is speculation, and it (the third driver role) is not something we are giving much thought to at the moment," a Lotus team spokesman said.

Gutierrez confirmed at Haas-Ferrari
Gutierrez confirmed at Haas-Ferrari

Gutierrez confirms Haas race seat for 2016
(GMM) Esteban Gutierrez has confirmed the worst-kept secret in the F1 paddock — that he will complete Haas' 2016 driver lineup.

The new American team has scheduled an official announcement to be made in Mexico City on Friday, to be streamed live on the websites of Gutierrez's sponsors Claro and Telmex.

Within the paddock, the news has been unofficially known for some weeks now, and even Mexican Gutierrez, currently the Ferrari reserve driver, is no longer hiding it.

"Next year I will race with Haas and I am very happy about it," he declared in Spanish at a sponsor event in Mexico on Thursday.

"It is a new adventure for me and I will make the most of what I have learned at Ferrari," the 24-year-old added.

Hamilton reluctant to help Rosberg beat Vettel
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton says he is reluctant to help teammate Nico Rosberg cap off Mercedes' 2015 season with a clean sweep.

The German team and the British driver have already wrapped up the constructors' and drivers' world championships, with the only unfinished business now being a one-two in the latter title race.

Currently, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel is 4 points ahead of Rosberg, with the red-colored German enjoying the clear and declared support of his teammate and friend Kimi Raikkonen.

The bitter relationship between Hamilton and Rosberg, however, bubbled back to the surface in Austin last week, where the German hauled a cap at the new triple world champion in the wake of their first-corner clash.

Hamilton has no reason to help Rosberg, but the Mercedes engineers will so Mercedes locks up 1-2 in the drivers championship. In F1 with the press of a computer keyboard button the engineers can make you look like a hero or a chump.
Hamilton has no reason to help Rosberg, but the Mercedes engineers will so Mercedes locks up 1-2 in the drivers championship. In F1 with the press of a computer keyboard button the engineers can make you look like a hero or a chump.

And Hamilton stoked the fire even more after the race, when he said he sympathized with Rosberg as being his teammate is the "worst thing".

"That comment makes it even better for me," Rosberg said on Thursday, "because I'll get even more pleasure beating him next time."

As for their first-corner clash in Austin, "It needs to be discussed," Rosberg declared, but Hamilton does not agree.

"We haven't spoken," Hamilton told reporters in Mexico, "and I don't think we really need to."

As for Rosberg's duel with Vettel, he added: "The team has not asked me to support him (Rosberg) as I'm here to win the race.

"We'll see what Toto (Wolff) wants me to do.

"In terms of the cap thing, I don't know, it's pretty funny so I don't really have much else to say about it."

Rosberg, meanwhile, was not actively pushing for Hamilton to support his bid to beat Vettel in the championship, telling reporters: "No, I don't expect it.

"He wants to win races as much as I do, as does Sebastian."

For F1, even though the titles are decided, that could mean a spicy three-way battle in the final three races of the season, with Rosberg to throw caution to the wind in any wheel-to-wheel duel with his teammate.

Asked if he needs to change his approach after the Austin clash with Hamilton, Rosberg answered: "I do not want to comment on whether or how I will change my approach."

Marc Surer, a Swiss pundit, said that sounds like a good omen for an exciting finish to 2015.

"I hope so," he told the German broadcaster Sky. "Until now it has always been Nico giving way to Lewis in those battles, so that could be what changes now."

Volcano 'El Pupo' erupts
Volcano 'El Pupo'

Volcano erupts near Mexico GP site
(GMM) Hot on the heels of Hurricane Patricia, the F1 world now has its eye on another natural phenomenon.

75 kilometers from the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, the Popocatepetl or 'El Popo' volcano has erupted.

De Telegraaf, a Dutch newspaper, said the eruption has hurled a huge cloud of ash some 2,500 meters into the air, which set off in a northerly direction.

And, as in Austin last week, the threat of heavy rain is also hanging above the Mexican grand prix, with qualifying most in danger of being wet.

Rosberg hurls cap at Hamilton
Rosberg hurls cap at Hamilton

Hamilton reflects on Austin cap incident
Newly-crowned three-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton has admitted to regret over his cap-related incident with Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg immediately after the United States Grand Prix.

Rosberg ran wide in the closing stages of last weekend's wet-dry Austin race, handing Hamilton the lead and a clear path towards a third crown, putting him level with childhood hero Ayrton Senna.

In the cool-down room ahead of the podium ceremony, television cameras picked up Hamilton casually throwing Rosberg his second-place cap, only for the German to propel it straight back in his direction.

"It's not something that you would expect to see from grown adults," Hamilton, who had forced his way past Rosberg into the first corner at the start of the race, explained to Sky Sports.

When pushed further on the incident, Hamilton added: "It didn't mean anything to me. You should ask Nico. For me, I was just happy… happy that I achieved what I set out to do when I was a kid."

Hamilton denied talk that he will not be as focused for the final three races now that the title is settled.

"Coming into these next races I'm still motivated, just as I've been all year," he said.

"Whilst I won the championship last weekend… whoever wants to win those races, I still want to win it more than them, so I'm going go out and hopefully do what I usually do in terms of performing."

Bottas in the Williams
Bottas in the Williams

Smedley: Williams must bounce back
Williams performance chief Rob Smedley says it is vital that Williams bounces back in style at the Mexican Grand Prix, after a double retirement in the United States.

Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa both retired with damper-related issues in Austin after first-corner incidents, marking the team's first two-car DNF since Brazil 2012.

Williams has slipped 154 points behind second-placed Ferrari in the standings, scoring just 12 over the past two races, while fourth-placed Red Bull has moved to within 70.

"Mexico is an unknown for us all; it has been a while since Formula 1 has been there but as engineers we are looking forward to the challenge," said Smedley.

"We have to bounce back from a difficult Grand Prix in Austin and we are confident we can do that.

"We have to make sure we take away all the points that are on offer and play to our strengths to maintain the gaps to our rivals in the championships."

Bottas and Massa say they are both eager to sample the revised Autodromo Hermanos Rodríguez.

"As a track it looks interesting with high and low speed corners and a very long straight," said Bottas.

"It will be interesting to see how the high altitude (over 2,200 metres above sea level) has an effect on the cooling of the cars but also its physical effects on me as a driver."

"It's the first time I have ever been to Mexico so I am excited to go there; the track has a lot of history in Formula 1, even though it has changed a little bit," added Massa.

"It is hard to say exactly what it will be like until we have driven it, but I am looking forward to it."

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