Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Vettel hopes to keep Mercedes honest, knowing Mercedes is about to release a huge power upgrade

    Ferrari to give title chase 'best shot' – spokesman

  • Rosberg hints at 'nonsense' in Hamilton lifestyle
  • Danica Patrick out of running for Haas seat
  • Grosjean barracking hard for Renault buyout
  • Lauda thinks Bottas staying at Williams
  • All eyes on new race start rules at Spa
  • Grosjean admits sitting out for Palmer 'unfair'
  • Less overtaking in 2015 – report
  • Toro Rosso starts work in new building
  • Raikkonen denies Spa result key to F1 future
  • Finnish GP likelihood 'unrealistic' – Raikkonen
  • Raikkonen still key to driver market – Grosjean

Ferrari to give title chase 'best shot' – spokesman
(GMM) Battle will resume between Mercedes and Ferrari this weekend in Belgium.

While Mercedes is easily leading both world championships, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel entered the recent summer break with his second win of the season.

It followed a dip in form for the otherwise resurgent-in-2015 Maranello team.

"The fact we won in Hungary doesn't change our approach to the next race," said Ferrari spokesman Alberto Antonini. "We didn't think we were going through a crisis after Silverstone and we don't believe we are brilliant now.

"We are keeping our feet on the ground, as we know we are up against some very strong opposition, but we will give it our best shot as always," he added.

So Mercedes chief Toto Wolff said the reigning world champions cannot be complacent as the 2015 season enters its decisive half.

"With 10 races down and nine to go, we enter the second half of the season with a stronger points total than at this stage last year," he said. "And yet, our margin to the competition is actually smaller.

"There is never a moment you can take your foot off the gas and Hungary proved once again that any slip is an opportunity our rivals will grab with both hands.

"There are still many chances to win or lose this battle and we must be relentless in our push to come out on top," added Wolff.

I stayed home with my very pregnant wife
I stayed home with my very pregnant wife

Rosberg hints at 'nonsense' in Hamilton lifestyle
(GMM) Nico Rosberg is charging out of the summer break determined to fire everything at his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Reigning champion Hamilton, leading the duo's in-house 2015 battle by 21 points, entered the August shutdown period with a notably bad outing in Hungary.

The gossip media then followed the Briton's every step through August, including shirtless, cigar-smoking jaunts with the pop star Rihanna, and mingling with celebrities including Jack Nicholson, Jamie Foxx and Bon Jovi.

Boss Toto Wolff insisted he does not think Hamilton is losing focus on F1.

"In these holiday weeks," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport last week, "everyone has the right to be left alone."

In contrast, however, Rosberg has spent his downtime at home with his heavily pregnant wife.

And the German is bursting back into action for this weekend's Belgian grand prix with some comments that might be interpreted as a psychological jab at Hamilton's lifestyle.

"Your private life does have an impact," he told Germany's Auto Bild. "You need to be in balance and go to the race weekend with a clear mind.

"I read about it from time to time. It is mainly about finding your own way to concentrate.

"It is important in sport that you do not have too much other nonsense in your head," he added.

Danica Patrick was never going to cut it in F1
Danica Patrick was never going to cut it in F1

Danica Patrick out of running for Haas seat
(GMM) Haas' driver short-list of ten potential candidates for 2016 may now have become nine, as the American female superstar Danica Patrick fell out of the running.

Patrick, 33, has been mentioned on several occasions by the new team's chiefs Gene Haas and Gunther Steiner, as she already races for Haas' Nascar outfit.

But she has now re-signed with Stewart-Haas for 2016.

"Being able to re-sign here at Stewart-Haas is very important to me," said Patrick. "I feel like there's nowhere else I want to be."

In truth, Patrick was never a realistic candidate for one of Haas' Ferrari-powered F1 seats for 2016, given that she has said on several occasions that she is not interested in relocating to Europe.

The Ferrari-linked Esteban Gutierrez and Jean-Eric Vergne are undoubtedly highest on the actual list, followed by Force India's Nico Hulkenberg and the American rookie Alexander Rossi.

"Interesting!" said Giedo van der Garde, a Dutch driver who was signed up with Sauber for 2015 only to find that the Swiss team had also agreed contracts with up to three other drivers.

Van der Garde joked on Twitter: "Let's see who they (Haas) sign, though I would only contract two of them."

Grosjean hopes Renault buys out his hapless Lotus team
Grosjean hopes Renault buys out his hapless Lotus team

Grosjean barracking hard for Renault buyout
(GMM) Romain Grosjean has admitted a buyout by Renault would be an ideal solution to Lotus' "difficult financial situation".

It is believed Renault and Lotus' owner Gerard Lopez are poised to agree a deal whereby the Enstone team once again becomes the French carmaker's works squad.

Frenchman Grosjean admits 2015 has been difficult for Lotus.

"Many teams find themselves in a difficult financial situation," he told Auto Hebdo magazine.

"F1 requires huge resources and the ability to maintain the rhythm of development. Crash testing a new front wing, for example, is not very simple.

"Unlike Red Bull or McLaren, we cannot afford to bring new items to every grand prix. I hope that this period will be as short as possible and we are able to move forward soon," Grosjean added.

Most recently, Lotus has been fending off 'winding up' petitions in the High Court, and paying bills at the eleventh hour to Pirelli for the release of tires.

"The situation is not ideal," Grosjean admits. "But as usual the grass is not always greener somewhere else, as some people are talking a lot about Lotus and staying quiet about their own problems.

"Genii Capital has great resources but now that we are talking about the sale of the team it is logical that they do not want to invest. But this does not prevent us from coming to the races."

Merely 'coming to the races', however, is not Grosjean's aim, and so he is barracking hard for the buyout deal between Lotus and Renault to be agreed soon.

"First of all," he said, "it will benefit formula one. I have a long association with Renault, who have played an important role in my career, when they helped me to make my debut in formula one.

"After that I was fired, and it was not the best moment in our relationship, but I came back to formula one and managed to win nine podiums with a Renault-powered car," he said.

"Formula one needs major automakers that can invest in our sport," Grosjean argued. "It's great to be part of a factory team and I am sure that Renault will be able to improve their power unit."

Lauda (L) thinks Arrivabene (R) will keep Raikkonen
Lauda (L) thinks Arrivabene (R) will keep Raikkonen

Lauda thinks Bottas staying at Williams
(GMM) Niki Lauda thinks it is possible Williams and Ferrari will line up in 2016 with unchanged driver lineups.

It has been strongly rumored that Williams' Valtteri Bottas could move to Ferrari next year, likely ending the career of his older Finnish countryman Kimi Raikkonen.

It means Raikkonen has a very good reason to shine on his favorite circuit, Spa-Francorchamps, this weekend, Lauda said.

"Spa is a very good track for Kimi," Lauda, the F1 legend and Mercedes team chairman, is quoted by the Finnish newspaper Ilta Sanomat.

"If he does a great race there, his chances to stay at Ferrari are higher," he added.

On his recent visit to the MotoGP race in the Czech Republic, Lauda was also quoted by Italy's Sport Mediaset: "Raikkonen's opportunity to win at Spa is as good as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg's.

"I think he will be really motivated," Lauda added.

As for Bottas' chances of switching to Ferrari, the very latest speculation is that a deal fell over because Williams was demanding millions for his release.

Lauda, a close colleague of Bottas' manager Toto Wolff, agreed: "I believe that Bottas will remain at Williams."

All eyes on new race start rules at Spa
(GMM) A big talking point at Spa this weekend will be the FIA's new rules regarding race starts.

The mid-season change has divided paddock opinion, with some applauding the shift away from engineers and technology, and back to the drivers.

Others, however, worry that teams will struggle to adapt their 2015 systems to the new rules.

"The cars were not designed for this sudden change," Lotus' Pastor Maldonado is quoted by the Swiss newspaper Blick. "It can even be dangerous."

His teammate Romain Grosjean told the French magazine Auto Hebdo: "Perhaps there will be more uncertainty, but the teams will work hard on it.

"I do not think the situation will change drastically. It will never be like in GP2, where the driver has full control over the starts," he added.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen agrees that while the drivers' workload will go up, the FIA clampdown is unlikely to prove revolutionary.

"We will have to remember to do all the right things," he told the Finnish broadcaster MTV at a karting event in Helsinki.

"A few things will influence whether it works or does not work, but I don't think it's going to revolutionize things in one way or another.

"As long as we remember to do the right things, it should be pretty ok," Raikkonen added.

Grosjean admits sitting out for Palmer 'unfair'
(GMM) Romain Grosjean says continually sitting out free practice sessions in 2015 is "unfair".

Whenever reserve driver Jolyon Palmer conducts Friday morning duties for Lotus, it is Frenchman Grosjean rather than the heavily PDVSA-funded Pastor Maldonado who gives up his seat.

"Let's say that in the beginning it was not easy to live with it," Grosjean told the French magazine Auto Hebdo ahead of the Belgian grand prix, where once again Briton Palmer will occupy his black and gold car early on Friday.

"I don't know any driver who gladly gives up his seat.

"Losing an hour and a half of practice is not an ideal situation — if Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren do not do it, it is because they believe it is counterproductive," he insisted.

"It is the same for our team, but it helps us to survive," Grosjean explained. "That's why we have to accept it.

"The best I can do is to show that I am competitive and be ahead of my teammate," he added.

Asked if it is difficult to understand why he and Maldonado cannot share the ignominy of sitting out for Palmer, Grosjean admitted: "Partly, yes.

"I think it's unfair, but that's life."

The only thing missing are the floats
The only thing missing are the floats

Less overtaking in 2015 – report
(GMM) There has been less overtaking in formula one this year compared to 2014, the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport has found.

The report said that last year, based on the opening ten races of the season, there were 42.6 overtaking moves on average per race.

In the first half of 2015, that figure has dropped to just 29.4.

Auto Motor und Sport said the reason for the decline is changes to the front wing rules, and the difficulty drivers have in managing this year's Pirelli tires.

"It has become more difficult to stay close to the car in front," confirmed Lotus driver Romain Grosjean.

F1 is now moving to address the issue of overtaking, convening technical bosses for a meeting on Tuesday to ensure the new rules for 2017 facilitate more passing.

Frenchman Grosjean thinks the tires are a key part in making F1 exciting.

"I really liked the period around 2012 and 2013," he told the French magazine Auto Hebdo, "when tire wear played a major role.

"Laptimes were good and in some corners it was possible to use all of the grip.

"Despite what people say, it is not easier now to drive the cars, it's just slightly easier physically. That is why rookies have managed to quickly and easily become comfortable.

"But today's racing is not so bad," Grosjean added. "Who could say that Hungary was not exciting?"

Toro Rosso starts work in new building
(GMM) A new building at Toro Rosso's Faenza headquarters is now up and running.

Italy's Omnicorse reports that, during the summer break, the Red Bull-owned team took advantage of the car development lull to set up camp at the new facility.

"This (building) means the working environment is quite good, because all the engineers are under one roof and we expect better communication, better co-operation and at the end even better performance," said team boss Franz Tost.

Founder Gian Carlo Minardi chose Faenza, 50 kilometers southeast of Bologna, as the headquarters for his racing team, initially competing in Formula 2, at the end of the 70s.

It was usually a backmarker in formula one between 1985 and 2005, until the last owner Paul Stoddart sold to Red Bull.

Raikkonen
Raikkonen

Raikkonen denies Spa result key to F1 future
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen has denied that his future in formula one depends on the outcome of this weekend's Belgian grand prix.

F1 legend Niki Lauda has said that Spa-Francorchamps specialist Raikkonen stands a bigger chance of retaining his Ferrari seat if he does well in Belgium.

"As I've said many times before, it is one race among many others," 35-year-old Raikkonen told the Finnish broadcaster MTV at a karting event in Helsinki.

"A single race is not going to make a difference one way or the other," he insisted, "but let's have a good weekend and see."

Raikkonen, however, does agree that speculation about his future is likely to ramp up again, now that the summer break and "holidays are over", and journalists "have to write something".

He also said he is fairly happy with how 2015 has gone so far.

"It depends what you compare it with," he said. "If you compare it to last year, it's not been anywhere near as bad. But we have had some bad races and a bit of bad luck.

"This year our car has worked well. It's just that small things can make a big difference, for example the tires is probably the biggest thing."

And he said he is not dwelling on what might happen next.

"At some point your career ends," Raikkonen said, "but it is hard to say what I will do then. I have not given it much thought, and there are no plans in advance."

What Raikkonen would say is that he is enjoying working at Ferrari alongside his friend Sebastian Vettel.

"It has been a change for the better," he admitted to the Finnish news agency STT-Lehtikuva. "It is the best team that I have ever been in, compared with the other years.

"It is certainly the nicest teammate I have had, which makes it easier for all of us to talk about things and share things. It helps the team quite a lot."

As for the future, Raikkonen smiled: "For sure the end result will be good, no matter what it is."

Raikkonen knows Finnish GP won't happen
Raikkonen knows Finnish GP won't happen

Finnish GP likelihood 'unrealistic' – Raikkonen
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen has described reports that Finland could host a grand prix in the near future as "unrealistic".

We reported earlier in August that Bernie Ecclestone held talks during the Hungarian grand prix weekend with the former wife of Robert Lappalainen, who in the mid-90s promoted DTM races in the Finnish capital.

"He (Ecclestone) would welcome the championship to Helsinki, and showed the green light to our plan," Marja-Leena Lappalainen confirmed to Ilta-Sanomat newspaper.

Raikkonen, F1's Finnish veteran and the 2007 world champion, was asked about the reports this week in Helsinki, during a Ferrari sponsor event.

"I think it's a bit of an unrealistic idea," he was quoted as saying by the broadcaster MTV.

"Of course, if someone has put the right amount of money in Bernie's pocket, then it could happen even next year," Raikkonen added.

Raikkonen still key to driver market – Grosjean
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen remains the key to the 2016 'silly season'.

That is the view of Romain Grosjean, the current Lotus driver who openly admits he is barracking for Renault to buy back the Enstone team.

But the Frenchman is also keeping an eye on the driver market, admitting he thinks whether Ferrari keeps Raikkonen for 2016 is the key.

"The key role will be played by Kimi Raikkonen," Grosjean confirmed to the French magazine Auto Hebdo.

"If the place at Ferrari becomes available, it will cause a chain reaction," he predicted.

He is probably referring to the fact that, if Raikkonen is ousted, Valtteri Bottas is expected to step up from Williams, creating a key vacancy at the British team.

Force India's Nico Hulkenberg might then be the favorite to go to Williams.

"Whether all these changes will be good for me or not, I'd prefer not to talk about at the moment," said Grosjean.

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