Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley

    Ecclestone 'regrets' F1's Mosley loss

  • McLaren not seeking alternative to Honda
  • Rosberg adopts 'nothing to lose' approach to title
  • Lotus on cusp of administration – report
  • Merhi sees 'options' to stay at Manor in 2016
  • 'Impossible to be happy' at Ferrari – Massa
  • Force India brings more updates to Singapore
  • Hamilton eyeing Singapore hat-trick

Ecclestone 'regrets' F1's Mosley loss
(GMM) More than a year after avoiding jail over a corruption scandal, Bernie Ecclestone says his path is clear to keep running formula one.

"I don't want to walk away from something that I have been involved in all these years," the Briton, who turns 85 next month, told the New York Times.

"At the moment, with our shareholders, zero problem, and I more or less run things as if it was my company. So it's good," Ecclestone added.

What the F1 chief executive – or so-called 'supremo' – is not happy about, however, is the decision-making governance of the sport, presided over by the democratic processes involving the Strategy Group, and Jean Todt.

Unlike Todt's predecessor, the much more confrontational and dictatorial Max Mosley, Ecclestone and the current FIA president do not always see eye-to-eye.

Ecclestone admits that he would like to change many of F1's rules fundamentally, but is hamstrung by an FIA president who likes to keep a low profile.

"Jean and myself, if he would, we could say 'These are the rules, forget the teams, forget anybody. These are the rules, if you want to be in the world championship, these are the rules'," he said.

"But Jean doesn't want to upset people. He wants everyone to be happy and everyone to agree."

So the Ecclestone-Mosley dictatorship of the past is now gone, replaced by democracy, which the 84-year-old admits he is no fan of in any context.

"We have allowed this to creep into things, which we should never have done," he said.

So if he has a regret, it might be that F1 lost Mosley.

"I suppose I regret we lost Max," Ecclestone admitted. "It's nothing wrong with Mr. Todt. Because in fairness he doesn't do anything in formula one, doesn't interfere. So he's not causing trouble."

Hapless McLaren has no choice but to stick with Honda and hope they improve after spending hundreds of millions of dollars on engine technology that not a single fan comes to the race to see.
Hapless McLaren has no choice but to stick with Honda and hope they improve after spending hundreds of millions of dollars on engine technology that not a single fan comes to the race to see.

McLaren not seeking alternative to Honda
(GMM) Eric Boullier insists McLaren is not seeking an alternative to its current works arrangement with Honda.

Deep into the first McLaren-Honda season, the Spanish daily El Mundo summarized the Woking team's predicament with the headline "No speed, no results, no sponsors".

Some reports say the Honda power unit is 200hp down, while the Japanese carmaker refuses to sack Yasuhisa Arai, who insists that engineers will not be hired from outside the company.

An insider told Auto Motor und Sport: "If you don't hire from outside, you don't get the solutions to problems others have already solved. You do it all yourself from the beginning.

"And that takes time," the insider added.

Time, however, is something a F1 team does not have when sponsors are assessing form every two weeks and the other major chunk of annual income is based on results.

Red Bull, for instance, has decided to split with Renault after two years with the French marque's under-powered turbo V6, notwithstanding the collaboration's huge success in the former normally-aspirated era.

But Boullier said the same thoughts are not going through the heads of McLaren's upper management.

"No. It is up to us to put the right pressure on Honda," he said.

"If you want to beat Mercedes you have to be a works team," the Frenchman told CNN. "We believe that Honda is the only serious engine manufacturer who can allow us to achieve that.

"We have a works team status. We have to go through some pain currently but we will be champions again with Honda one day."

So, instead, all efforts are being put into solving the current problems, with work on the 2016 car already well advanced.

"We are in a smooth transition now between this and next year's car," said Boullier. "The things you can't see behind the scenes is that the team has changed drastically in the last 15 months.

"The atmosphere in the team is good. The correlation from design and manufacture to the track in terms of bringing performance is very, very good. The people in the team are committed," he insisted.

Nico Rosberg has no chance to beat his Mercedes teammate
Nico Rosberg has no chance to beat his Mercedes teammate

Rosberg adopts 'nothing to lose' approach to title
(GMM) Nico Rosberg has vowed to keep his foot on the throttle even though his championship hopes suffered a major blow at Monza.

The German suffered not one but two engine-related problems in Italy, delivering a major blow that leaves him 53 points behind on-form teammate Lewis Hamilton.

"Lewis is on fire at the moment. The world championship is over," the always-forthright former F1 driver Mark Webber is quoted by Speed Week.

In fact, reports that Rosberg can realistically fight back in the remaining seven races are thin on the ground, with suggestions Hamilton is creating his own "era" – like Senna, Schumacher, Alonso and Vettel before him – much more common.

"I hope I have an opportunity to have an era," Hamilton told the British broadcaster Sky.

But the reigning champion, now on the cusp of joining his hero Ayrton Senna with a third drivers' crown, is not counting his chickens yet.

"I know he'll bounce back," said Hamilton, referring to Rosberg, "and I'm looking forward to another battle in Singapore."

Rosberg agrees that he is not going to give up, even though Monza was a big blow.

"It was gutting to miss out on a good result so close to the end but now I approach the final seven races with the attitude that there's nothing to lose," he said ahead of the Singapore grand prix.

"It's maximum attack and I won't be giving up the fight, no way."

Lotus on cusp of bankruptcy
Lotus on cusp of bankruptcy

Lotus on cusp of administration – report
(GMM) Embattled Lotus' recent troubles are not over yet.

With the Charles Pic saga that resulted in the seizure of the black and gold cars at Spa now reportedly resolved, deputy team boss Federico Gastaldi said ahead of Singapore that "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger".

But according to Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport, more trouble is now brewing for the Enstone team, who are also on the cusp of being sold to Renault.

Indeed, it is believed representatives of the French carmaker helped to bail out Lotus recently when the team appeared before the high court in London over unpaid tax bills.

Now, the case will resume on Friday, when track action is set to begin on the other side of the world in Singapore.

The report said the London court will again hear HM Revenue and Customs' application to have Lotus' put into administration.

"No one wants that to happen," team CEO Matthew Carter is quoted as saying. "We just need to ensure that everyone is paid."

And so the urgency of Lotus' talks with Renault is abundantly clear.

"Certainly we would relish any opportunity to be a works team and welcome them back," said Gastaldi.

"It would be fantastic for the sport and a mega-positive note for Enstone to see their return, but until any deal is signed, sealed and delivered we keep focused on our current tasks."

Merhi waiting to hear whether his check is big enough to retain his ride
Merhi waiting to hear whether his check is big enough to retain his ride

Merhi sees 'options' to stay at Manor in 2016
(GMM) Roberto Merhi admits there is no guarantee he will be back with the Manor team next year.

Last week, it emerged that the Spanish rookie will no longer split his time this year between F1 and his other race seat in the Formula Renault 3.5 series.

His team Pons explained that it was due to "clashing commitments" with Merhi's F1 campaign, but some interpreted the news as a sign that the 24-year-old may have secured a longer-term future with Manor.

However, he tells Spain's El Confidencial newspaper that there are only "options to continue with Manor" next year.

Explaining the end of his F.Renault campaign, Merhi said: "If I had kept doing both (series) I would not have had any free weekends and there was no chance in the (F.Renault) championship, so there was no point."

Merhi has had a difficult campaign with Manor, but in recent races he has at least compared favorably alongside his teammate Will Stevens.

Not widely known is that, as Manor regroups this season, Merhi did not have equal equipment earlier in 2015, and the Spaniard admits that "there are still differences" between his car and Stevens'.

"Each time it has gotten better and in Monza I could not have given more because of the engine, but both personally and generally it is going very well, also for learning," he said.

As an amateur runner and triathlete, what Merhi is not worried about is the physical challenge of this weekend's traditionally arduous Singapore grand prix.

"No, honestly the world series car is more tiring," he said. "The only race that made me tired was Malaysia, but I had not had many laps in the car then so it was normal."

Massa played 2nd fiddle at Ferrari
Massa played 2nd fiddle at Ferrari

'Impossible to be happy' at Ferrari – Massa
(GMM) Felipe Massa says he has no regrets about being ousted by Ferrari.

At Maranello, the Brazilian was competitive alongside the great Michael Schumacher and almost won the world championship whilst Kimi Raikkonen's teammate in 2008.

Some believe it was Massa's near-fatal crash in 2009 that subsequently hurt his form, but now fully back up to speed with Williams, the 34-year-old has another explanation.

"Let's just say I did the right thing at the right time," Massa, referring to his departure after an eight-year Ferrari career in 2013, told Italy's La Repubblica.

"It was time to change," he said.

Now, Massa is back on song even with the highly-rated Valtteri Bottas as his teammate, with some believing the diminutive Brazilian's pace is ultimately the reason Ferrari decided against signing the Finn for 2016.

"My story with Ferrari was beautiful, intense, honest, like the applause I got (on the podium) at Monza showed. But it was time to feel important again."

Massa says his status at Ferrari slipped suddenly when Fernando Alonso was signed in 2010.

"At first, yes (I was important)," he said. "Then things changed when Alonso came. I looked around and saw that suddenly I had no power over things, over the details. And our sport is made of the details.

"And you can change them only if you have the power. It's all about power, and I had lost it.

"The most obvious symptom was that I did not feel important anymore," Massa explained. "It was enough to see it just by making eye-contact with the people around me. It was impossible to be happy."

Massa said he thinks Ferrari's approach to the Alonso era was "wrong", but admits he also questioned himself during that period.

"So many times I thought I should be less kind. Harder and selfish. But then you look at yourself and take stock.

"Many things have happened to me. I was friends with a legend like Schumacher and a golden boy like Bianchi. I went through two or three eras of the sport, I saw injustice and the worst time of my life when I was forced to let my teammate past me, but I also won a lot and above all I enjoyed.

"I fell often, but every time I got up. No, I would not change anything. I have always been myself, Felipe, and if that caused me some difficulty then my strength allowed me to overcome and become a man and a better father," said Massa.

Asked if he has a message to his harshest former critics, he answered: "No, because before and after they wrote nice things. Consistency is their problem.

"If I was going to say something bad to all those who have changed their mind, I would have no time to drive!" Massa smiled.

Force India bringing more updates
Force India bringing more updates

Force India brings more updates to Singapore
Force India will add further upgrades to its B-spec package for this weekend's Singapore Grand Prix at the Marina Bay circuit, team boss Vijay Mallya has confirmed.

Force India has claimed a pair of double points finishes since introducing its revised car at Silverstone, while Sergio Perez scored a season-best fifth at Spa-Francorchamps.

With more updates on the way, Mallya hopes the upward trend continues.

"Singapore will give us another chance to optimize the B-spec version of VJM08 as we introduce another small update package," said Mallya.

"Having performed well on the high-speed circuits of Spa and Monza, we know we have the potential to get both cars inside the top 10.

"But it's going to be quite a different challenge on the tight and twisty streets of Singapore."

Mallya added that there will be no letup in development as Force India looks to defend fifth in the standings.

"As I've been saying for a while, the midfield fight for fifth place in the championship is likely to go down to the wire," he explained.

"It was important to score good points in Monza to reclaim fifth place, but with seven races still to go we cannot afford to ease up.

"The development of the VJM08 will continue and we need to take every opportunity that comes our way."

Hamilton knows his car is so superior no one can beat him
Hamilton knows his car is so superior no one can beat him

Hamilton eyeing Singapore hat-trick
Mercedes driver and championship leader Lewis Hamilton has set his sights on a third Singapore Grand Prix victory at this weekend's event, admitting that he is "riding high" on confidence at present.

Hamilton currently sits 53 points clear of team-mate Nico Rosberg in the standings, having taken 11 pole positions from a possible 12, seven wins and four further podium finishes.

Heading to Singapore, where he triumphed with McLaren in 2009 and Mercedes last season, Hamilton is determined to complete a hat-trick and further extend his title advantage.

"This race is always a highlight of the season," said Hamilton.

"It's a great city which looks really spectacular under the lights with the tricky street circuit below – my favorite kind of track to drive.

"You've got to stay 100 per cent focused for a full two hours, which is tougher than it sounds with the crazy humidity. Any small slip and you're in the barrier, so maintaining that total concentration is crucial.

"I've won there twice now – both times from pole, which shows you how important qualifying is too. It won't be easy to make it three – far from it. But I'm riding high right now and I'll be pushing for that hat-trick."

Rosberg, meanwhile, is adamant that he can still overturn the deficit to Hamilton.

"It's maximum attack and I won't be giving up the fight, no way," he said.

"Singapore is one of my favorite races, so that's a good place to start. It's so tough on everyone – physically and mentally – and I love that challenge.

"I was only a few thousandths off pole last year and feeling good for the race until a problem with the steering wheel ended my weekend.

"I know I've got the pace to win there, so I'm hoping for a clean weekend and a chance to unleash this silver beast under the lights."

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