Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Bernie against closed cockpits for F1

    F1 will 'never' stop open cockpits – Ecclestone

  • Hamilton hails 'team player' Rosberg
  • Rosberg doubts he will support Hamilton in title charge
  • Red Bull 'crisis meetings' raced into new week – report
  • Alonso doubts he will race beyond 2017
  • Vettel defends decision to guard private life
  • Raikkonen happy to support Vettel's title charge
  • Vandoorne 'optimistic' of F1 debut in 2016
  • Wolff lauds 'sensational' Mercedes effort
  • Mercedes 'Stars & Cars' event set for Stuttgart

F1 will 'never' stop open cockpits – Ecclestone
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone says he does not back moves to put a cover or canopy over the drivers' heads in formula one.

A spate of incidents in F1 and other categories, including the deaths of Jules Bianchi and Justin Wilson but also Carlos Sainz's worrying brush with the barriers at Sochi, has ramped up momentum to end the days of fully open cockpits.

But when asked if traditional open-wheelers are now an endangered species, F1 supremo Ecclestone told the Russian news agency Tass: "No, never."

In fact, the 84-year-old Briton suggested that danger is an integral part of the 'show'.

"It is a dangerous sport," Ecclestone insisted. "Nobody wants to see people killed or hurt (but) people like to go to the circus and see the high-wire act. It is dangerous.

"They do not want to see the guy fall, but it could happen," he explained.

Hamilton says Rosberg is a team player (as long as he is behind him) but below Rosberg says he's not a team player and won't help Hamilton. Too funny.
Hamilton says Rosberg is a team player (as long as he is behind him).

Hamilton hails 'team player' Rosberg
Reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton has hailed his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg after the pair's efforts enabled the outfit to retain its Constructors' trophy for another year.

Hamilton's victory at the Russian Grand Prix ensured Mercedes built a lead of 172 points in the championship, which Ferrari cannot overhaul across the remaining four rounds of the year.

Hamilton and Rosberg were embroiled in a scrap for the 2014 title, during which relations between the duo were strained, before Hamilton went on to win the crown.

Hamilton has pulled clear this year, holding a 66 point advantage over Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, with Rosberg a further seven points behind, but the Briton expects Rosberg to bounce back.

"I know everyone at the factories will keep pushing to keep us at the front and myself and Nico will definitely be doing the same," Hamilton said regarding Mercedes' title triumph.

"I just want to mention what a great teammate Nico is. He's had a much tougher season so far than I have but has been a real team player throughout.

"I know he'll be fighting back through the many years to come in which we'll no doubt be competing hard against each other."

Hamilton is sure that Mercedes can continue with its superiority at the head of the pack.

"I've been racing with Mercedes-Benz since I was 13, so the star is in my blood and I'll keep pushing to put many more stars on that Constructors' trophy," he added.

Hamilton laughs upon hearing Rosberg won't support him. He's too slow to support him.
Rosberg not fast enough to support Hamilton.

Rosberg doubts he will support Hamilton in title charge
(GMM) Nico Rosberg has played down the likelihood that he will have to spend the remainder of the season playing a supporting role for his teammate.

After his Sochi breakdown, Mercedes' German driver was actually passed for second in the championship by Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.

It means a German wearing red is now Hamilton's greatest threat for the drivers' title, but the disappointed Rosberg insisted to Bild newspaper: "I will try to enjoy the last four races and win as many of them as I can.

"Unfortunately yes, Sebastian overtook me in the championship in Russia, but I will try to change that in America.

"I was even asked after the (Sochi) race if I would help Lewis in the situation that Sebastian is catching him even more, but to be honest I'm not thinking about that.

"And I don't believe it will come to that either," Rosberg added. "Hopefully in 2016 all three of us will have a very tight battle for the title."

Unfortunately for Rosberg, the overwhelming feeling in the paddock now is that teammate Hamilton has his hands firmly on the 2015 crown.

"Mathematically yes," team chairman Niki Lauda admitted when asked if Rosberg can still do it this season, "but Lewis would have to retire now and go home."

Hamilton is not quite sounding that bold, but he acknowledged that his 66-point gap is fairly comfortable.

"I can't believe I have that many points and that gap," the 30-year-old said as Mercedes celebrated its constructors' world championship at Brackley.

"I've never had that, ever."

Team boss Toto Wolff, however, said that even though Rosberg's 2015 campaign is in tatters, the silver-clad pair have been closely matched this year.

"Everyone talks about Lewis' dominance," said the Austrian, "but that is forgetting how close together they usually are. Nico has had no luck in the last races.

"The more I look at it, the more I realize how good he (Rosberg) was at Sochi."

But Wolff also spoke about how 2016 is shaping up to be an epic head-to-head battle between two F1 greats — Hamilton and Vettel.

"They are both in very strong cars, and it could be one of the great rivalries in the sport in different teams," he said.

Hamilton said he would welcome that, especially as his championship run in 2015 has been notably devoid of wheel-to-wheel battles. Indeed, he had to hark back to Bahrain 2014 for the last time he was left "buzzing" by a duel.

"Ultimately I wish formula one was more like that all the time," he said.

But for the rest of 2015, Hamilton's biggest enemy is probably the kind of poor reliability that has plagued Rosberg recently. And Mercedes also raced to the checkered flag at Sochi worried about an issue with Hamilton's rear wing.

"Basically I'm not worried" about reliability, Wolff insisted, "but it is the definition of formula one that you're always on the limit.

"It (the problems at Sochi) showed once again that you can never be too confident."

Mateschitz begs Bernie for engines
Mateschitz begs Bernie for engines

Red Bull 'crisis meetings' raced into new week – report
(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko has clarified that F1 risks punching a four-car hole in the grid if a solution to the engine supply crisis is not found.

At Sochi, it was rumored that while former quadruple world champion Red Bull Racing is hitting a brick wall, the junior team Toro Rosso is having much more promising negotiations with a potential 'power unit' partner for 2016.

But Marko insists that if Red Bull Racing is forced out of F1, the energy drink company will also pull its support from the Faenza based team as well.

"Why would we finance a junior team just so it can train drivers for Ferrari and Mercedes?" the Red Bull official told Germany's Welt newspaper.

Welt claims that although a solution to the problem was not found at Sochi despite frenzied talks, another 'crisis meeting' was held on Monday in London.

Alonso done in 2 more years
Alonso done in 2 more years

Alonso doubts he will race beyond 2017
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has played down the likelihood that he will drive a single race beyond the end of his current McLaren contract.

Amid McLaren-Honda's abysmal 2015, there have been rumors the Spaniard might take a sabbatical next year, even though he is all signed up for 2016 and 2017.

Alonso rejected that speculation at Sochi last weekend, where he notched up his 250th grand prix start.

Only a handful of drivers have ever surpassed that milestone in F1, and Alonso will be tantalizingly close to the nearly-unprecedented tally of 300 races by the time the 2017 season concludes.

Indeed, just ahead of Sunday's race, Formula One Management published an on-screen message marking Alonso's 250th race and reminding him that he has "only 50 to go".

But Alonso told Spanish television TV3: "I don't think I will get to 300 grands prix."

However, he acknowledged that in F1, one should never say never.

"When I made my debut in Australia in 2001, I didn't think I would make it this far," said the 34-year-old.

Vettel keeps his wife and kids away from the F1 Paparazzi
Vettel keeps his wife and kids away from the F1 Paparazzi

Vettel defends decision to guard private life
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has defended his decision to fiercely shield his private life from the world's glare.

His approach to fame and fortune is starkly different to fellow multiple world champion Lewis Hamilton, who is constantly on the red carpet and uploading personal photos to Instagram.

"My lifestyle is nothing like Hamilton's," the Ferrari driver told the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

"But everyone is free to live their life as they like. At the moment I'm very busy with what I'm doing (in F1) because Ferrari is not yet where we want it to be."

That is not to say that Vettel, 28, does not have a private life.

Indeed, and almost completely unknown to the wider world, the quadruple world champion and his partner Hanna recently welcomed their second baby daughter.

Many people only realized the news about Vettel's second child when television cameras recently overheard a private conversation between him and Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne.

"Matilda!" Marchionne exclaimed. "Your first one?"

"Second," Vettel replied.

Asked by El Pais why he chooses to keep his private life so private, he explained: "There are people who respect you and people who do not.

"I am a sportsman, nothing more. Obviously, when you're on the grid and the stands are filled and people encourage you with your flag or Ferrari's flag, that's one thing, but my private life is something else.

"It does not necessarily have to be linked to my work. That's how I see it anyway," Vettel added.

Raikkonen too slow to support Vettel
Raikkonen too slow to support Vettel

Raikkonen happy to support Vettel's title charge
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen says he has no problem playing a supportive team role if it will help his teammate Sebastian Vettel win the 2015 title.

Indeed, with German Vettel now moving into second place behind Lewis Hamilton, some suspected Ferrari-branded 'team orders' were already in play at Sochi last Sunday.

Raikkonen appeared to let the similarly red-clad Vettel past even before being asked to by Ferrari on the radio.

Turun Sanomat, a Finnish newspaper, quoted Raikkonen as explaining afterwards: "He went past me when I was not able to take the previous corners properly.

"The rules say that I had to let him past. That's all."

The Finn was referring to F1's actual rules, where if a driver gains an advantage by driving off the track, he has to cede the position to his rival or face a penalty.

But Raikkonen also referred to the 'rules' of engagement at Ferrari, a team that always emphasizes the significance of the team above the individual.

"We know the rules," Raikkonen said, "so it's normal. I am not fighting for the championship, so we will do our best for the benefit of the team."

Vandoorne will need to bring his checkbook if he wants to race in F1 in 2016
Vandoorne will need to bring his checkbook if he wants to race in F1 in 2016

Vandoorne 'optimistic' of F1 debut in 2016
(GMM) New GP2 champion Stoffel Vandoorne is confident he will be on the formula one grid in 2016.

The Belgian, 23, wrapped up the title in Russia last weekend with two rounds still to run, with many declaring it perhaps the most impressive GP2 campaign in history.

But last year's GP2 champion, Lotus reserve Jolyon Palmer, failed to make the immediate step up to the F1 grid.

And while Vandoorne is strongly backed by McLaren, the Woking team's F1 outfit has signed up Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button for 2016.

McLaren also has a fourth driver, Kevin Magnussen, under contract, with team boss Eric Boullier saying recently: "We expect the four of them to race (in 2016)."

Vacancies, however, are scarce, with the newly Mercedes-powered Manor tipped to sign Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Gutierrez linked with Haas-Ferrari.

"Nothing has been decided yet," Vandoorne was quoted by Brazil's UOL Grande Premio, "but I'm optimistic.

"I believe that there are chances with some teams. With the GP2 title guaranteed, I can now think about it in a relaxed way and without pressure.

"From the beginning of the season I knew that my goal for this season was to totally dominate the category in my second year. To be able to meet everybody's expectations is great," he added.

Wolff happy Mercedes made F1 boring
Wolff happy Mercedes made F1 boring

Wolff lauds 'sensational' Mercedes effort
Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has praised team members for a "sensational" effort after confirmation of a second successive Constructors' title at the Russian Grand Prix.

Mercedes initially failed to outscore Ferrari by the required three-point margin at Sochi Autodrom, but a post-race penalty for Kimi Raikkonen handed it an unassailable title lead.

"Wow, there are never any simple days in this sport!" Wolff commented.

"But what a feeling it is to win a second title and a privilege to be part of this team.

"A World Championship isn't just about points on a scoreboard, it's about many hours of hard work and sacrifice from every single member of the team, most of whom are away from the limelight and work with incredible dedication six or seven days a week.

"Well done to every one of them in Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart; you have done a sensational job."

Wolff was left with mixed feelings regarding the outcome of Sunday's race, with Lewis Hamilton taking a dominant victory, but Nico Rosberg retiring after a throttle problem struck.

"It was a bittersweet experience," said Wolff, reflecting on the race itself.

"Lewis drove a fantastic race and didn't put a foot wrong even though he had some problems to manage, especially towards the end with an aerodynamic instability on his rear wing.

"But he brought the car home in a really controlled way and strengthened his lead, well done to him.

"But I'm gutted for Nico after a problem with his throttle mechanism forced him to retire.

"It shows how sport this cruel can be: he had a brilliant weekend and opening lap, and I can only take my hat off to him about how he handled the situation, both in the car – and afterwards in his professionalism.

"It's another reminder to us that, even with the steps forward we have taken on reliability this year, our work is never done and we need to keep focusing on every tiny detail.

"But now we can sit back and savor the moment."

Mercedes 'Stars & Cars' event set for Stuttgart
Mercedes' end of season Stars & Cars event will take place at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Stuttgart for the first time.

Mercedes' event ran from 1994 until 2008, before it was revived last year off the back of the outfit's triumph in Formula 1, when it won the Constructors' Championship alongside Lewis Hamilton's individual crown.

Mercedes has defended its title this year, while Hamilton is on course to retain his championship, which could happen as early as the next round of the season in the United States.

The event will take place in Stuttgart's football stadium for the first time on December 12, with Mercedes promising "authentic racing action."

Hamilton, team-mate Nico Rosberg and boss Toto Wolff, along with all eight drivers of Mercedes' DTM squad, will be present at the event.

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