Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Everything has to be perfect for a F1 race promoter to come close to breaking even

    US GP 'financially devastating' for organizer

  • Force India asking F1 for income advance
  • Rosberg can still take on Hamilton – Montoya
  • Mercedes will not discuss driver clash – Lauda
  • Forgotten candidate Raikkonen eyes 2016 title
  • McLaren confirms veto for Red Bull-Honda deal
  • Teams not keen on Ecclestone's 'client engine' plan

US GP 'financially devastating' for organizer
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton left Austin with his childhood dream achieved, but for the race organizers it was an horror US grand prix.

"It was a tough weekend," Circuit of the Americas chairman Bobby Epstein admitted.

Electrical storms and torrential rain, brought by the periphery of the huge Hurricane Patricia, meant that at one stage, fans were locked outside the track while cars practiced to empty grandstands.

It was also the lowest race-day crowd in the four-year history of the US grand prix in Texas, as Epstein admitted it was a "financially devastating weekend for the company".

"We lost millions on concessions" that those fans would normally have purchased in normal weather, he said in an interview with the Austin American Statesman.

"And we suffered from some fans having such a bad experience they won't be back, though I hope we can change their mind."

Another issue for the US grand prix was that, for the first time, it was paired with the return to the calendar of Mexico, while although also in North America already has an established and passionate local following.

"The Mexico race hurt us," Epstein agrees.

Force India next team to go belly-up because of F1's silly expensive engines?
Force India next team to go belly-up because of F1's silly expensive engines?

Force India asking F1 for income advance
(GMM) Force India is calling on Bernie Ecclestone to advance the team's official income to before the 2016 season begins.

Although now apparently out of trouble and a solid fifth in the constructors' championship, the small Silverstone based team endured a compromised pre-season and start to this year's calendar due to cash flow problems.

Force India said at the time that it was due merely to the wait for F1's commercial rights holder to release official prize money.

And now the team wants an early solution in place for 2016.

"The only difference between what we did at the beginning of this year and what we are planning for 2016 is just bringing it forward a month or so earlier to cash flow it better," deputy boss Bob Fernley told the Guardian.

He said F1 teams get no money throughout the winter off-season, which can make it difficult to pay suppliers.

"We're being a bit more proactive this year in making sure we're ahead of the game rather than behind it," Fernley added.

Force India and Sauber have complained to the European Commission about the distribution of income and power in F1, arguing that the biggest teams are unfairly favored.

Interestingly, Lotus opted not to join the complaint, despite the fact its team owner Gerard Lopez was earlier one of the most vocal opponents of the status quo.

Asked why the Enstone team did not back Force India and Sauber, CEO Matthew Carter suggested the only reason is because Renault is poised to buy Lotus.

"From my own personal opinion, would we have taken a different route if we weren't under the potential new owners, as we are? Possibly we would have done.

"We've been advised and we have discussed at a fairly high level, the route that we're going to take and we've decided that we would not join the action," he added.

Rosberg is to weak mentally to beat Hamilton
Rosberg is to weak mentally to beat Hamilton

Rosberg can still take on Hamilton – Montoya
(GMM) Nico Rosberg cannot be ruled out of the running to take on Lewis Hamilton, even though the German has lost two consecutive world championships to his Mercedes teammate.

That is the view of former F1 race winner turned Indycar driver Juan Pablo Montoya, who stopped in at Austin last weekend to attend the US grand prix.

There, on Sunday, Hamilton wrapped up his third drivers' title with three full rounds to spare, indicating the sport is now in the midst of a clear 'Hamilton era'.

Asked, however, what makes the Briton so strong, Colombian Montoya answered simply to the German newspaper Welt: "The car helps!

"It sounds like a joke, but I'm serious. He has won ten races this season. That makes him a deserving champion, but of course he is benefitting from that car.

"Lewis seems to have a knack for picking the right team at the right time," Montoya, who drove for Williams and McLaren until 2006, added.

But a potential flaw in Montoya's argument is that, with the very same car and identical support from Mercedes chiefs, teammate Rosberg appears increasingly incapable of taking on Hamilton.

Montoya disagrees.

"I do not think that Nico is slower," he insisted. "When he is focused and his car is not giving him problems, he is just as fast if not faster than Lewis.

"I think the big problem for him this year was qualifying."

So when asked if he can imagine Rosberg winning a world championship whilst Hamilton is still active in F1, Montoya answered: "Yes, Nico can be world champion, I'm convinced.

"But he needs to change a bit and think positively. He still has three races to change the momentum of this season and he should use them," he added.

A contemporary of Montoya's, former two-time world champion Mika Hakkinen, agrees that Rosberg can now head into the final three races with his sights set on 2016.

"That the championship is now over is probably a relief somehow for Nico," he told Hermes. "Now he can start to think about next season and what he has to do differently.

"He doesn't have to worry about if he is fast enough, but just fitting together all the pieces of the puzzle," Hakkinen added.

Finally, Montoya said he does not subscribe to the theory that F1 in the past was all rosy and the sport today is boring and predictable.

"Think about when Michael Schumacher was so dominant — who was going to be champion was at least as clear as it was this season.

"That's the way it is in formula one: a team always sets the pace. That being said, I think we saw a great race in Austin, with some thrilling fights," he insisted.

Hamilton is favored over Rosberg by Mercedes because they know he has the mental fortitude to deliver them titles
Hamilton is favored over Rosberg by Mercedes because they know he has the mental fortitude to deliver them titles

Mercedes will not discuss driver clash – Lauda
(GMM) In the days after Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg's first-corner clash in Austin, Mercedes team management are now playing down the incident.

Immediately after the checkered flag, and just as the Briton was beginning to celebrate his third drivers' title, bosses Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda sided strongly with Rosberg, insisting Hamilton had played too hard.

But in a team preview ahead of the resumption of hostilities in Mexico this weekend, Wolff now says most of what was said in the aftermath about the cap-hurling fracas was "hot air".

"Like always, we will do the analysis of what happened on track as a team — but we will do it behind closed doors," he added.

Hamilton, however, has said there is "no need" for any sort of discussions, and F1 legend and team chairman Lauda now appears to agree.

Speaking to Bild newspaper, he said: "The thing with Lewis will not be discussed any more. It is all done and over.

"The race management (stewards) did not investigate the incident and neither will we," Lauda insisted.

Rosberg, however, has firmly alleged that while he always adheres to Mercedes' strict 'rules of engagement', Hamilton routinely does not.

After the duo's Spa clash last year, Mercedes made a huge issue of the matter and it is believed Rosberg was even internally reprimanded.

Asked if the team is now applying a double standard, former F1 driver Marc Surer said: "It is difficult to tell a world champion what to do as long as he is winning.

"I would imagine there were internal talks, I just don't think they want to be talking about it in public."

Former double world champion Mika Hakkinen has also taken Hamilton's side, even though he thinks the Briton came "close" to being penalized by the stewards.

"When I think about how I would have behaved as a two-time champion in the hunt for a third, I would also have gone to the limit," the Finn said in his latest interview with sponsor Hermes.

Raikkonen could eye the 2016 title all he wants - he first has to beat Hamilton and Vettel. Good luck with that.
Raikkonen could eye the 2016 title all he wants – he first has to beat Hamilton and Vettel. Good luck with that.

Forgotten candidate Raikkonen eyes 2016 title
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen has raised his hand as a potential challenger for the 2016 world championship.

Although the 2007 title winner for Ferrari, the Finn's return to Maranello has been more difficult, with teammate Sebastian Vettel now looking the more likely bet.

"It depends how strong Ferrari is next year," former F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya told the German newspaper Welt.

"If they manage to catch Mercedes, Sebastian Vettel can make it a three-way battle. If not, I think next year will be between the two Mercedes drivers."

Given the trend of the past two seasons, writing off Raikkonen is not unusual.

"The situation with Kimi looks quite negative," countryman Mika Hakkinen told Ilta Sanomat newspaper, "mainly because his teammate is almost always in front."

Not only that, Hamilton made his F1 debut in 2007, the year Raikkonen won the title. Eight years on, Kimi still has only one title, and Hamilton has three.

"Lewis and his team have been strong," Raikkonen told the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat. "He deserves the championship one hundred per cent.

"But next year we will try to beat him," he added. "We have gone constantly in the right direction this year and we will try to keep doing a good job now until the end of the season.

"Then hopefully next year, we will be ready," said Raikkonen.

Dennis confirms McLaren not capable of beating Red Bull with same engine
Dennis confirms McLaren not capable of beating Red Bull with same engine

McLaren confirms veto for Red Bull-Honda deal
(GMM) McLaren has effectively confirmed reports it has vetoed the supply of customer Honda power units to Red Bull next year.

With Mercedes and Ferrari already saying no to the embattled former quadruple world champions, Honda appeared to be the last resort after Red Bull terminated its contract with current supplier Renault.

"It would appear Honda is happy to give them an engine and Mr. (Ron) Dennis thinks they shouldn't," Bernie Ecclestone told reporters in Austin recently.

The F1 supremo said Honda initially agreed to begin supplying customers from 2016, adding that the Japanese carmaker also gave McLaren chairman Dennis the power of veto.

"He (Dennis) doesn't want Red Bull. Ron has said 'Definitely not'."

Now, McLaren team principal Eric Boullier has confirmed Ecclestone's news by declaring that the Woking team is happy with its current situation the way it is.

"The truth is, we wanted to work with Honda, Honda wanted to work with us as an official partnership because having an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) is the only way to be world champion," he said.

"So this is a privilege obviously we found. We brought Honda into formula one and we don't want to share. That's it," Boullier added.

Teams not keen on Ecclestone's 'client engine' plan
(GMM) Up and down pitlane, there is little enthusiasm for Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA's plan for a 'client engine' in formula one.

F1 supremo Ecclestone, who has convinced FIA president Jean Todt to back him, said the current 'power unit' era is an existential threat to the sport.

"We must introduce this new engine," he said, referring to apparent plans for a Cosworth or Ilmor-supplied 2.2 liter turbo engine to compete against the current 1.6 liter V6s.

Ecclestone says the problem with the status quo is that small teams are being driven out of business, and Mercedes' dominance is turning off the fans.

"I understand that the manufacturers want to sell their hybrid technology," he is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport. "But they are the only ones that are profiting.

"My job is selling a sport, and all the fans want to see is exciting races. So we need this new engine. If we just keep going, we will not be here in 2020," Ecclestone warned.

Regarding Ecclestone's plan, the most enthusiastic team is Red Bull, who have run out of options under the existing 1.6 liter regime and risk being left with no engine at all.

"F1 is making sense, finally," said Dr Helmut Marko, when asked about Ecclestone's plan.

"This is the way back to real racing. We always said that hybrid is the wrong way, but at the time everyone laughed at us."

Also predictable is the reluctance of manufacturers like Mercedes, who have spent millions on the hybrid formula, benefit from the 'green' image, subsidize the costs by selling to customers and dominate the sport from the front.

Monisha Kaltenborn happy to spend huge amounts of money for her team to never have a chance to win
Monisha Kaltenborn happy to spend huge amounts of money for her team to never have a chance to win

But even the struggling small teams do not sound keen.

"If they think they can push this through then why haven't they done it with a budget cap? Or the ban on A and B engines or making manufacturers supply a minimum number of teams?" said Force India's Otmar Szafnauer.

And deputy boss Bob Fernley added: "The idea of an independent manufacturer is good, but it's hard to say anything until we know the details."

Sauber's Monisha Kaltenborn, meanwhile, thinks F1 is already on the right road with the 'hybrid' technology.

"The only thing wrong was the implementation," she said, "which we have to fix now. I am also against a two-class society, but that is exactly what we would get with this new engine.

"It then becomes difficult to create equality, because the systems are so complicated and you would need to look at the aerodynamics, the weight, which would only increase costs.

"It would be better if we did not go that way," Kaltenborn added.

Leave a Reply