Latest F1 news in brief – Sunday

  • Hamilton practices his machine gun skills

    Blowout mystery to remain at Belgian GP start

  • Lauda told Hamilton to delete machine gun video
  • Arai denies saying Honda would match Ferrari
  • Van der Garde causes a stir with Spa paddock visit
  • Vettel hoping for start 'chaos' or rain
  • Toro Rosso set to keep Verstappen and Sainz
  • Verstappen tells Schumacher to step up to Formula 3
  • Red Bull drivers want end to Renault-fueled crisis

Blowout mystery to remain at Belgian GP start
(GMM) Drivers will start the Belgian grand prix unsure as to what caused Nico Rosberg's horror 300kph tire blowout of Friday.

Pirelli said on Saturday that it had ruled out a structural failure, while the FIA made tweaks to the curbs at the fabled Eau Rouge corner ahead of qualifying.

As to the exact cause of the blowout, however, Mercedes' Rosberg said on Saturday: "It is still not understood.

"What is assumed is that it must have been something from the outside — that is the theory. But nobody actually knows," he is quoted by Speed Week.

"So that is still worrying for everybody. We have done a few things to help it, but for sure we need to keep a close eye on it so that it doesn't happen again," the German added.

Another theory is that a part of the Mercedes bodywork flexed at speed and made contact with Rosberg's tire, but – again – the German driver admitted there is "no evidence" of that.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel admitted he also is concerned.

"I wanted to know and so I asked," he revealed, "but I didn't really get an answer. So at the moment we have to live with that.

"Of course, we are all hoping that everything is ok in the race."

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff said his team worked closely with Pirelli to identify the cause.

"We did everything humanly possible so that we are leaving nothing out on the safety side, but we could find no problem," he said.

"So I am pretty sure when I agree that it must have been a case of an external source.

"There were already certain limits that are set by Pirelli in terms of how we can work with the tires, but we were within those limits. And now we have gone a step further," Wolff added.

Lauda told Hamilton to delete machine gun video
(GMM) Niki Lauda ordered that a video of Lewis Hamilton firing a machine gun be removed from the reigning world champion's social media accounts.

On Saturday, a controversy exploded when the video emerged depicting the Mercedes driver firing the weapon at a shooting range, just one day after news broke of a gunman opening fire on a passenger train from Amsterdam to France.

Briton Hamilton said a "friend" had posted the video, not him.

Nonetheless, it triggered outrage among some of his fans, but Hamilton played that down by insisting "There never is any good comments on there, to be honest, so it doesn't really matter."

But Mercedes team chairman and F1 legend Niki Lauda begged to differ, even though he defended the 30-year-old, whose lifestyle has been increasingly under the microscope recently.

"I know Lewis well and know that he means well," Lauda told Bild newspaper. "But I'll ask him to remove the video from the internet."

The German news agency SID, meanwhile, quoted Hamilton's boss Toto Wolff as saying: "Lewis is a rock star, but at the same time you also have to see what is happening in the world."

Arai promised Honda would make a step forward, but the others made a bigger step forward
Arai promised Honda would make a step forward, but the others made a bigger step forward

Arai denies saying Honda would match Ferrari
(GMM) For McLaren and Honda, the 2015 season has gone from bad to worse.

Before Spa-Francorchamps, Honda's Yasuhisa Arai promised that an engine upgrade for Belgium would bring the 'power unit' in line with Ferrari's.

But at Spa, the reality has been perhaps McLaren-Honda's worst performance of the entire season, and penalties totaling a ludicrous 100-plus grid demotion that Fernando Alonso jokingly dubbed a "world record".

"We should get a cake," said the Spaniard.

Jenson Button said his qualifying lap was as good as an effort some years ago that resulted in pole, but actually McLaren is quicker only than the Manors this weekend.

"I thought the lap was good and then I was told P17 and a second behind the car in front," said the 2009 world champion, "which was a massive surprise. I didn't expect to be that far off."

As for what he and Alonso can do on Sunday, Button shrugged: "I don't know.

"We will just be racing each other and, if we get away from the Manors, I think the next cars we see will be someone lapping us."

So what about Arai's promise of a Ferrari-matching engine for Belgium? One source in the Spanish press said the Japanese's quotes are now increasingly greeted with skepticism and ridicule.

Arai commented: "I didn't say that about (matching) Ferrari.

"The updates we have here are not as effective as we hoped because it is not an easy circuit. We have also had not much time in the practice sessions to evaluate them.

"They have done quite well but unfortunately it is not working quite so well here. We need more time," he insisted.

Team boss Eric Boullier, meanwhile, played down any suggestion that, for a grandee outfit, McLaren's dire situation cannot go on for much longer.

"We have not lost patience with Honda and we are happy to have them as partners," the Frenchman insisted.

"Of course, we are not where we would like to be, but we are working hard to change that."

Boullier told Germany's Welt newspaper: "Perhaps it would have been better to wait a year and only enter with an advanced Honda engine.

"But Ron Dennis and I love the challenge, and eventually the team and our two drivers will have really deserved the results."

Van der Garde causes a stir with Spa paddock visit
(GMM) Giedo van der Garde says he is not targeting a return to formula one.

On Saturday, the Dutchman announced on social media that he is visiting the Belgian grand prix — his first paddock appearance since the Melbourne court dramas.

"Don't panic Sauber," he wrote on Twitter, "I've only got some meetings."

Actually, van der Garde's mere entrance to the paddock proved challenging, with De Telegraaf newspaper claiming Bernie Ecclestone had told all of the teams to refuse to give him a pass.

Ultimately, he did get into the paddock.

Rumors surfaced immediately that one of his scheduled meetings was with Manor, who are still looking for a paying driver to replace Roberto Merhi.

But a Manor source insisted: "We have not made any offers to van der Garde."

Actually, van der Garde's meeting was with Mercedes, who had managed to get a guest paddock pass to the controversial 30-year-old.

"It was a good conversation," van der Garde said, "and there are definitely opportunities."

But "Formula one is a closed book for me. I want to win races and championships, so DTM is my priority," he said, referring to the premier German touring car series.

Vettel knows Ferrari has no chance at Spa unless it rains
Vettel knows Ferrari has no chance at Spa unless it rains

Vettel hoping for start 'chaos' or rain
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel is hoping Spa-Francorchamps' rare dry spell does not continue.

Oddly this weekend, the fabled layout in the notoriously fickle Belgian Ardennes region has remained rain-free so far.

So after a poor qualifying, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel is turning his eye to Sunday's weather man, who thinks rain might affect the Belgian grand prix.

"My (qualifying) lap was good until the last chicane, so I'm not happy with myself," said the German.

Now, he is hoping either for chaos due to the new clutch settings and radio clampdown, or a spattering of status quo-disturbing rain.

"There is the potential for a chaotic start tomorrow," Vettel is quoted by Brazil's Globo. "I just hope it's not as chaotic for us and things flow as they did in Hungary," he laughed.

"We also have many wet tires here, so I think we can change them as often as we need to," he added.

Toro Rosso to retain Sainz and Verstappen
Toro Rosso to retain Sainz and Verstappen

Toro Rosso set to keep Verstappen and Sainz
(GMM) Toro Rosso looks set to keep an unchanged driver lineup into 2016.

The Red Bull-owned team has been openly happy with its latest pair of rookies, including the 17-year-old sensation Max Verstappen and Spaniard Carlos Sainz.

In fact, it is believed Verstappen is already being courted by Ferrari, to replace the newly re-signed Kimi Raikkonen ahead of the 2017 season.

"Max is an extraordinary talent," said the head of Red Bull's driver program, Dr Helmut Marko. "I think the other top teams have noticed it too," he told Kolner Express newspaper.

Verstappen, meanwhile, said of the new Ferrari rumor: "That's hypothetical. What comes next, we will have to see.

"But I do feel fully accepted by the other drivers and ready for the next step."

As for Verstappen's teammate Sainz, the 20-year-old admitted he expects to also stay at Toro Rosso for a second season.

"I have not signed a contract for next year," he told Spain's El Mundo in Belgium. "It will be renewed when my bosses decide to.

"But it was a good sign that other names were not mentioned (in connection to Toro Rosso) over the summer.

"I think throwing some young guys in with the pressure to be throw out after one year is a little strong. We have peace and stability, and that shows in our performance.

"I don't know for sure that I am going to stay, but the feeling I have is that I will," Sainz added.

Verstappen says Mick Schumacher has to step up, if he has the talent
Verstappen says Mick Schumacher has to step up, if he has the talent

Verstappen tells Schumacher to step up to Formula 3
(GMM) Max Verstappen has urged Michael Schumacher's son to make the step into Formula 3 for 2016.

This year, 16-year-old Mick made international headlines as he took the leap out of karts and into single seaters, starting with the German Formula 4 series.

So far, it has been an up-and-down debut campaign for the young German, but Verstappen, who at the age of 17 is only one year older than Schumacher, urges him to make another step as soon as possible.

"I would advise against another year in Formula 4 for Mick," Verstappen, the youngest race driver in F1 history, told the Kolner Express newspaper.

"It would be a waste, because he learns nothing about aerodynamics there. He should go into Formula 3 already next year," the young Dutchman advised.

Told, however, that Schumacher's season so far has been up and down, Verstappen insisted: "That doesn't matter. Mick is ambitious, and in formula 3 he will learn more.

"I also raced for Frits van Amersfoort and so I know he is doing a proper development for Mick. Hopefully we will meet up soon in formula one," he added.

Red Bull drivers want to get rid of their boat anchor
Red Bull drivers want to get rid of their boat anchor

Red Bull drivers want end to Renault-fueled crisis
(GMM) Two drivers from Red Bull's F1 stable are urging for change.

Both struggling around the long blasts of Spa-Francorchamps with their Renault engine, Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat and Toro Rosso's Max Verstappen make no secret that they would like more power for 2016.

"Personally, I hope that this moment will come to an end as soon as possible," said Russian Kvyat in Belgium.

"It is clear that we want to fight at the front in the near future. I don't know how this can be achieved, but it should be achieved at any cost," he said.

"If something can change, we must do it. We want to win races and to do that it is necessary to take any measures," he insisted.

Kvyat's comments come amid a stalemate between Red Bull and Renault, who are locked together contractually for 2016 but obviously headed in different directions.

In the Red Bull camp, patience has run out and strong rumors are now swirling that the contract with Renault for next year has been unilaterally terminated.

Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko denies that.

"The current situation is that we have a contract and it was not terminated," he insists.

Renault is willing to keep the 2016 contracts alive, but at the same time due diligence is taking place that could see the French carmaker take over Lotus.

Added to that the performance deficits this year, and Red Bull might have a case to argue for termination.

"The agreement is confidential on both sides," team boss Christian Horner said, "but any contract contains obligations on both parties. And this commitment is quite clear," he added.

Toro Rosso's Verstappen let his frustration show at Spa-Francorchamps, where the weaknesses of the Renault engine are laid bare.

Eyes are being cast forward to Sochi in October, when an updated power unit is scheduled to debut.

"If this is a serious step forward, then we have prospects for next year," he is quoted by the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.

"And if that is not the case, they must return to the drawing board and that means it is probably too late for next season. Then we have a real problem."

Not only that, Verstappen has had more Renault-related reliability problems at Spa, to which the 17-year-old admitted he came close to letting his frustration show.

"The engineers are doing their best and swearing is pointless anyway," he said. "That is not how problems are resolved.

"Do I still have confidence in Renault? Once you lose that, then you really start to go the wrong way. But I do hope that this moment will end."

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