Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Rosberg knows e can't beat Hamilton but he hopes Ferraris car
    Rosberg knows he can't beat Hamilton but he hopes Ferraris car

    Rosberg hopes Ferraris help title fight-back

  • Podium 'impossible' for small teams now – Kaltenborn
  • Silverstone chief says F1 'sh*t' and 'not saleable'
  • Ecclestone promised better TV coverage for Sochi – Lauda
  • Renault confident of continuing momentum
  • Only Alonso to race token-upgraded Honda at Sochi
  • Mateschitz wants engine crisis solution in October
  • Coulthard thinks Alonso could quit McLaren-Honda
  • Horner: Renault 'two or three years' behind
  • Perez, Fittipaldi attend Mexico re-opening

Rosberg hopes Vettel can beat Hamilton, but he is giving up nearly 100 HP
Rosberg hopes Vettel can beat Hamilton, but he is giving up nearly 100 HP

Rosberg hopes Ferraris help title fight-back
(GMM) Ferrari will have an unusual supporter barracking for a strong weekend for the Maranello team this weekend in Russia.

It is Nico Rosberg, who acknowledged that with his 48 point deficit to Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton with just five races to go, he needs some outside help to close the gap.

"The season has not been perfect for me," the German told the French broadcaster Canal Plus ahead of the Sochi round. "I don't have as many points as I would like, but otherwise things are fine.

"This year Lewis has done a better job, but the fight is still on. I have five more races.

"Yes, the gap is quite big, so I will need some luck, but we all know that in this sport everything is possible," Rosberg added.

And he suggested that a couple of allies could be wearing red overalls.

"It would be good for me if they were between us (Rosberg and Hamilton)," Rosberg smiled.

Some, however, wonder if Rosberg has slipped into a de-facto 'number 2' role at Mercedes, given the way he was bullied off the track by Hamilton recently at Suzuka.

"I disagree with them (the critics)," Rosberg replied. "Sitting in the car, it's difficult to judge accurately how much space you are leaving your opponent, but looking back I realize that I left Lewis too much room."

He also denied the theory that Hamilton has been superior, both on-track and psychologically, since Rosberg was rebuked by Mercedes following their Spa clash last year.

"I learned from it," Rosberg insists, "but Spa was an isolated incident."

Kaltenborn knows the new F1 engine formula has ruined the sport and any chance for her team to win or even podium
Kaltenborn knows the new F1 engine formula has ruined the sport and any chance for her team to win or even podium

Podium 'impossible' for small teams now – Kaltenborn
(GMM) When asked by the German publication Sport Bild how things are going at Sauber, the Swiss team's boss replied: "I can't complain."

Monisha Kaltenborn, however, is very much complaining about the governance of formula one, having joined Force India in lodging a formal complain to the European Commission.

"Because the process has been initiated," she confirmed, "we can't say any more about it at the moment."

What Kaltenborn will confirm, however, is that life in the middle of the grid for an independent team is now "very difficult".

She said costs have spiraled out of control to the point that rising to the podium as a small team, although the Hinwil squad has done it in the past, is now "as good as impossible".

Kaltenborn said teams like Sauber have been locked out of the rule-making process, in stark contrast to the bigger and more powerful rivals.

"That's right. When the engine rules were made, we were not part of it.

"I have nothing against the hybrid technology," she insisted, "it's just about the cost.

"It's not right when six teams that are in the so-called strategy group arbitrarily determine the rules. That has nothing to do with fair competition," said Kaltenborn.

When asked if she can name another sport that has a similarly unfair system, she answered: "I don't know any. So I think we should be learning from those other sports.

"For example NBA in the US, the player draft is designed in consideration of the smaller teams. Also English and German football, where the top teams get the most money but everyone has enough to survive.

"The distribution of the money is so much fairer than in F1."

Kaltenborn, however, said that the small teams are rarely listened to, despite the fact she thinks they are "the backbone of formula one".

"Basically, we don't do anything other than F1," she explained. "It is our core business.

"For the manufacturers, at the end of the day it's just a marketing platform.

"But what would those who support Bayern Munich think if suddenly there are no other opponents for them to compete against?" she asked rhetorically.

Bernie probably saying, 'I agree F1 is sh*t because of these engines we have'
Bernie probably saying, 'I agree F1 is sh*t because of these engines we have'

Silverstone chief says F1 'sh*t' and 'not saleable'
(GMM) Silverstone chief Patrick Allen has launched an unprecedented attack on formula one, describing it as a "sh*t product".

It is an echo of an earlier story in 2015, when Bernie Ecclestone reportedly told a French media outlet that F1 is a "crap product".

The F1 supremo, however, denied saying it, insisting he was referring only to the controversial hybrid engines.

But Patrick Allen, in charge of the historic British grand prix venue Silverstone, has been quoted by The Independent newspaper as openly slamming modern F1.

"Months and months back I said it to Mr. E himself that I can't sell tickets for a sh*t product," he told the F1 business journalist Christian Sylt.

His comments follow earlier reports that Silverstone could drop off the calendar as early as next year if the circuit is unable to guarantee the race fee to Ecclestone.

Now, Allen said the biggest problem is that drivers are 'lifting and coasting' and being told what to do by faceless engineers rather than living up to their billing as "gladiators".

"I think it is criminal when we have got to that state of racing and that is not saleable," he insisted.

"How long is it before the technical director is stood on the top step, not the driver? You've just got to throw the towel in then and look for something else."

Lauda cried now fans will have to be bored watching Hamilton parade around at the front all alone
Lauda cried now fans will have to be bored watching Hamilton parade around at the front all alone

Ecclestone promised better TV coverage for Sochi – Lauda
(GMM) Niki Lauda says Bernie Ecclestone has assured him the two Mercedes cars will not be ignored by the television cameras this weekend at Sochi.

Following the controversial Suzuka 'blackout', the F1 legend and Mercedes team chairman travelled to Ecclestone's London office to confront the F1 supremo over the issue.

Lauda told the newspaper Osterreich he can perfectly understand why the Austrian broadcaster ORF, for instance, is reconsidering its TV contract with formula one.

"You can only collect money for television pictures if the service is right," the triple world champion said.

Ecclestone had argued that the midfield battles were almost exclusively featured during the Japanese 'world feed' coverage because focusing on the cars at the front is boring.

Lauda, however, accused the F1 supremo of "totally losing the concept of how to cover a formula one race".

He said he protested about it to Ecclestone "in the strongest terms".

"He (Ecclestone) realized that it went too far and promised that it will be different in Sochi," Lauda explained.

He would not comment on whether he thought Ecclestone, almost 85, is now too old for the job, but Lauda admitted it is "fundamentally wrong to talk bad about your own sport".

Renault confident of continuing momentum
Renault Sport Director of Operations Remi Taffin says the manufacturer is confident of continuing its momentum at this weekend's Russian Grand Prix.

Red Bull returned to the podium in Singapore though its challenge in Japan was scuppered by Daniil Kvyat's heavy qualifying crash and Daniel Ricciardo's puncture on the opening lap of the race.

Taffin believes that the layout of the Sochi Autodrom, allied to increased drivability of its power unit, will enable it to be in the mix.

"In the last two races we have been a lot closer to the performance potential of the power unit. In qualifying the Red Bulls have been noticeably closer to pole and Toro Rosso regular Q3 challengers," he said.

"We've unlocked some greater drivability and this, coupled with the increased reliability, has given a net step forward on track, as we saw with the podium in Singapore.

"Russia is a mix of Singapore and Japan, with the tight corners of the former and the flowing sections of Suzuka. As a result we are confident that we can continue our run in Sochi.

"We are looking forward to getting going and pushing on with the job in hand."

Alonso favored over Button by Dennis
Alonso favored over Button by Dennis

Only Alonso to race token-upgraded Honda at Sochi
(GMM) Honda has brought a new engine specification to Russia, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports.

Correspondent Michael Schmidt said the power unit makes use of the struggling Japanese manufacturer's final 4 in-season 'tokens' for 2015.

The engine will reportedly be fitted only to Fernando Alonso's McLaren at Sochi, resulting in the Spaniard needing to move to the back of the grid.

But that is just part of the "acute pain" that McLaren and Honda are going through at present, as explained by team supremo Ron Dennis recently at Suzuka.

"We have tried to move forward faster and that has affected reliability and made the whole thing more challenging," Dennis had said.

"But this very acute pain we have inflicted on ourselves is the fastest way for us to get back to where we need to get to."

In other engine news, Mercedes has reportedly brought fresh engines to Sochi for customers Williams, Force India and Lotus, but it is not the latest speculation that is currently being run by the works team.

"The problem," explained Schmidt, "is that Petronas could not make enough of the special fuel for this type of engine in the time available."

Sauber will apparently also get new Ferrari engines in Russia, but it is the Montreal specification, not the so-called 'super motor' introduced by the works team at Monza.

And as for Red Bull, whose obvious divorce from Renault is now pending, there is no news about the upgraded engine that was originally promised for Sochi.

"At the moment, we are a little bit in the dark about when that engine is coming," team boss Christian Horner is quoted by Speed Week.

Mateschitz's mouth has now put his team between a rock and a hard place
Mateschitz's mouth has now put his team between a rock and a hard place

Mateschitz wants engine crisis solution in October
(GMM) Dietrich Mateschitz has now set a target for the end of Red Bull's current engine crisis, and it is looming fast.

"Sometime in late October," the owner of Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso declared to Speed Week, the Red Bull-linked German-language publication.

Early this week, team boss Christian Horner hinted that although negotiations with both Mercedes and Ferrari had appeared to have broken down, talks were in fact still on.

Mercedes' Toto Wolff, however, hit back at Horner's claims, and now the German team's chairman Niki Lauda is doing the same.

"There are no discussions," the F1 legend is quoted by Osterreich newspaper.

"We have taken Manor on board which means we have four teams, so for us everything is done," insisted Lauda.

Why Red Bull is still hinting at a Mercedes deal is therefore a mystery to Lauda.

"Maybe they don't want to be here (in F1) anymore," he speculated.

That does not mean Lauda has a lot of sympathy, even though he told the German broadcaster RTL that Red Bull and Toro Rosso departing would be a "huge loss".

"They cancelled the contract with Renault one year early, putting themselves into a corner from which there is no way out at the moment. They have a real problem," he added.

"There is no discussion with Red Bull (and Mercedes)," Lauda insisted. "The discussion is with Ferrari, but I don't know what will come out of it."

One paddock rumor is that Toro Rosso has now agreed to take a 2015-specification Ferrari power unit for next year.

But that solution has been deemed unacceptable for the premier team.

"We are trying to get an engine, but we cannot get the one we want," said Mateschitz.

"The prerequisite for going on (in F1) is a competitive engine," he insisted.

Former Red Bull driver David Coulthard thinks Red Bull's quit threat is serious.

"Of course it is," he told the Spanish sports daily Marca.

"Red Bull doesn't need to be in F1. Its business is selling drinks, not formula one cars."

So if Mateschitz does go, F1 is having to consider the very real possibility of plugging the holes on the grid with three-car teams.

Mercedes' Wolff said he would not mind.

"We've seen teams coming and going," he said. "I'm not saying that Red Bull is not a great brand, but a few years ago, within the space of 18 months we lost Toyota, Honda and BMW. And F1 survived."

He was also quoted by Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport: "We discussed it already some time ago about the Lotus case, that a third car would be a solution to fill the grid.

"Personally I think the idea is pretty exciting," said Wolff. "I'd rather have Red Bull in the sport, and it is definitely a last resort, but we could have some interesting young drivers on a grid of 27-28 cars."

If Alonso is unhappy enough he could quit F1 and tend to his garden
If Alonso is unhappy enough he could quit F1 and tend to his garden

Coulthard thinks Alonso could quit McLaren-Honda
(GMM) Former long-time team driver David Coulthard says he can imagine Fernando Alonso quitting McLaren at the end of the season.

Spaniard Alonso backtracked after slamming Honda's current power unit as no better than a "GP2 engine" at Suzuka, but Coulthard said he can understand the frustration.

"I don't know," he told the Spanish sports daily Marca when asked if he thinks the latest sabbatical rumors are true, "but I think it might happen.

"I hope not," Coulthard added, "because he is a great champion and he deserves to win more titles than he has."

The Scot, now working as a pundit for British television, said poor "communication" between McLaren and Honda could be slowing down the rate of progress.

He has no doubt, however, that Honda will eventually get it right.

"But that will take time, and that is not good for Fernando or Jenson (Button). Or F1," said Coulthard.

"If Honda makes progress over the winter, everything can change," he added. "But if they don't, Fernando doesn't want to be fighting for 15th place."

So what about the idea that Alonso takes a year out, perhaps fulfils his Le Mans dream and then returns to a fully-competitive McLaren-Honda for 2017?

"It's an option," said Coulthard, "Alain Prost did it, but it's hard to imagine it. From a marketing standpoint, it's not a good message for Honda if your driver doesn't want to drive for a year."

Mercedes' Toto Wolff, however, is certain that not only Honda but also Renault will eventually become fully competitive.

"There is one thing that money cannot buy in F1," he said, "and that is time. So they need to manage expectations and set the correct goals.

"But I have no doubt: in two years, Renault and Honda will be competitive," added Wolff.

Horner thinks Renault will take 2 or 3 years to catch up in this ridiculous engine era
Horner thinks Renault will take 2 or 3 years to catch up in this ridiculous engine era

Horner: Renault 'two or three years' behind
Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner has warned that Renault is "two or three years" behind Mercedes and Ferrari in terms of being able to compete at the front of the Formula 1 grid.

Mercedes has been the dominant outfit since V6 power units were introduced at the start of 2014, though the Renault-powered Red Bull squad emerged as the second best team to take three wins.

However, Ferrari moved ahead of Renault across the winter period and the French manufacturer's position has led to Red Bull ending its nine-year partnership.

Renault is set to continue in the sport after signing a letter of intent to buy Lotus, but Horner says it will be a few years before the outfit will be successful.

"Since the power unit regulation change, it's a very different world that we're living in," Horner told Sky Sports.

"There's really only two engines out there that you can compete for Grand Prix victories with and, unfortunately, Renault have fallen behind that.

"It looks like it's going to be at least two to three years before they can be in a position to compete again.

"As a paying customer, we can't afford to wait that long."

Red Bull has not yet confirmed its future plans, amid quit threats and an approach to Mercedes regarding 2016 power units being rejected, leaving Ferrari as its only viable short-term alternative.

Perez, Fittipaldi attend Mexico re-opening
Mexico's Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez has been officially re-opened at a special launch ceremony, one month before Formula 1 returns to the circuit following a 23-year hiatus.

Force India's Sergio Perez and two-time World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi attended the event alongside former Mexican racer Hector Rebaque and Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera.

Significant changes have been made to the track layout to ensure that it meets modern-day safety standards, with a new pit lane complex, medical center and media facility all being installed.

Around 110,000 spectators are expected to attend the October 30 – November 1 event, which coincides with the annual 'Day of the Dead' holiday which is celebrated throughout Mexico.

"With the return of the Grand Prix to our country, we write a new story that will surely leave its mark on all Mexicans," explained Mancera, after cutting a ribbon on the start/finish straight.

"I'm anxious to test the refurbished track because of its emblematic history," added Perez. "I'm sure that the race will be one of the most exciting and challenging for the current generation of drivers."

Mexico previously hosted Formula 1 at the track from 1963-70 and 1986-92.

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