Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Kevin Magnussen

    Ron Dennis still believes in me – Magnussen

  • Current rules stopping Toyota return – Ecclestone
  • Massa should have moved over for Bottas – Hakkinen
  • Honda upgrade depends on FIA green light – report
  • Button understands call for more F1 'danger'
  • FIA clamps down after Mercedes' pitstop 'dummy'
  • Fittipaldi named Mexican GP ambassador

Ron Dennis still believes in me – Magnussen
(GMM) As he pushes to return to the grid, Kevin Magnussen hopes McLaren supremo Ron Dennis' effort pays off.

In May, Dennis travelled to Magussen's native Denmark, where he made an appeal to local companies to sponsor the 22-year-old's F1 comeback.

"We told them that it was not only for me that they needed to do it — it was for Denmark too, because if I can win in F1, it would put the country on the map," Magnussen told the August issue of Motor Sport magazine.

Magnussen was sidelined by McLaren after just a single season at the end of 2014, and his alternate plans for this year were thwarted by Fernando Alonso's pre-season crash.

He said he came close to signing up for IndyCar, but because Alonso was sidelined, "I had to test at Barcelona, and then do the race in Australia, so it was just too late really.

"We only had a couple of weeks to find sponsorship, and we lost time when I was testing and racing the McLaren," said Magnussen.

He admits it has been difficult to deal with his 2015 layoff.

"I just hated everything, you know," Magnussen told the veteran F1 journalist Nigel Roebuck. "I didn't give up, but I was very depressed and didn't care about racing.

"I'd loved racing the car and thought I was going to go on doing it, and in the beginning I just thought 'F*ck it'.

"For so long you lived race by race, and then suddenly you're not racing, and you don't have anything to look forward to — I don't have a contract for next year, I don't have anything," he revealed.

But now he is hoping that, with Dennis' help, he could be back in 2015.

It might be at McLaren, given the fact Jenson Button is not guaranteed the second year of his current contract.

But Magnussen's fellow McLaren junior Stoffel Vandoorne is also pushing for the seat, as the Belgian is utterly dominating GP2.

Vandoorne said this week: "I am pushing really hard for it. I really hope to be there next year."

So, too, does Magnussen.

"We don't know yet if we were successful, but it was definitely worthwhile," said Magnussen, referring again to his recent visit with Dennis to Copenhagen.

"Apart from anything else, Ron taking the time to travel to Denmark showed me that he still believes in me. McLaren don't need this – they'll do fine without me – but I need it, and Ron didn't do it because he thinks I'm a nice guy; he did it because he thinks I can help him," he added.

For now, Magnussen must be content with travelling to the races as reserve, and getting the odd day at the wheel — like this week, where he did a 'filming' outing at Silverstone, swapping between Button and Fernando Alonso's helmet in the MP4-30.

And he also works a lot in the simulator.

"I wouldn't say it's frustrating," said Magnussen, "but of course it makes you wish you were driving the real car — you get a little bit of the same feeling, and it's kind of nice, but not exciting.

"A bit like watching porn — not the real thing."

Current rules stopping Toyota return – Ecclestone
(GMM) The current rulebook is dissuading more carmakers, like Toyota, from entering F1.

That is the claim of Bernie Ecclestone, whose solution is simple: "Let's tear the bloody rulebook up and start again," the F1 supremo told the Guardian newspaper.

The problem, he admits, is that he does not see eye-to-eye with the current FIA president, Jean Todt, who favors a 'hands-off' and fully democratic approach.

So as Todt's increasingly high-profile predecessor Max Mosley does the rounds, Ecclestone insisted: "We need someone who will turn the lights on and off, whoever that is.

"But it's going to happen," he said, referring to the need for change. "We're going to make it happen."

Indeed, the next major shift could be imminent, as the eyes of F1 turn on Friday to Mexico City, scene of the latest World Motor Sport Council meeting.

Ecclestone will not, however, get what he really wants, which is to scrap the current engine rules altogether.

He says the complex existing rules are putting off carmakers like Toyota.

"Look at Toyota, who I know – maybe – would be interested in coming back into formula one," said the 84-year-old Briton. "But no way would they come back with this power unit.

"They know that they would be in trouble before they start. If Ferrari are in trouble what chance have they got?"

Massa should have moved over

Massa should have moved over for Bottas – Hakkinen
(GMM) Valtteri Bottas should have been waved through to boost Williams' victory hopes in the British grand prix.

That is the view of retired two-time world champion Mika Hakkinen.

"Valtteri had clearly better pace than Felipe (Massa)," said the Finn, referring to the controversial opening stages of the recent Silverstone race.

Brazilian Massa has hit back at those who think the team should have ordered him to give up the place, arguing that if Bottas was "so much faster, he would have passed me".

But Hakkinen insists: "When you're driving the same car with the same power, overtaking is so difficult.

"It would have been logical if the team had reacted immediately to Valtteri's pace — and I know I am not alone in this opinion."

However, Hakkinen's view is also not surprising given that he is involved in Bottas' management.

And as Bottas pushes for the Ferrari seat, one strong argument against the move is that the 25-year-old has been pushed hard in 2015 by Massa — a driver dropped by the famous Italian team two years ago.

Hakkinen responded: "It's true that you cannot lose against your teammate.

"However, you also have to consider the level at which Felipe drives. He is a very experienced driver. He spent eight seasons at Ferrari, and in 2008 only missed becoming world champion by a few seconds.

"He (Massa) is still very fast," he added.

And awkwardly for Hakkinen, the man who would need to be ousted at Ferrari now to make room for Bottas is yet another Finn — Kimi Raikkonen.

Hakkinen said in his latest interview for the sponsor Hermes that there is currently "a lot of politics" involved in Raikkonen's future at Ferrari.

And "What happened at Silverstone definitely doesn't make the situation any easier for him," he added.

He is referring to the Finn's obvious error in switching fatally early from dry to rain tires.

But Hakkinen said tire decisions in changeable conditions like that are actually "a lottery".

"No one can decide purely with reason what is the right moment to change," said the 1998 and 1999 world champion. "Lewis (Hamilton) of course was fantastically successful, and with Kimi it was exactly the opposite."

Honda upgrade depends on FIA green light – report
(GMM) Honda is waiting only on the FIA to deploy more of its in-season engine development 'tokens'.

That is the claim of Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, as the pressure on McLaren's struggling engine partner increases.

Asked if he thinks Honda is taking the right approach on its return to formula one, frustrated team driver Jenson Button answered: "Maybe you should ask them.

"Personally, I believe in them," the Briton, who also raced with Honda power in the carmaker's earlier works team project, told the French magazine Auto Hebdo.

"Whenever we have a problem, we always manage to solve it. The only thing is that the more problems we solve, the more we find," Button added.

But the 35-year-old has argued that Honda must now put its firm focus on performance rather than reliability, as the 2016 season will also be lost if the 'power unit' does not start to catch up.

Indeed, the Spanish sports daily Marca now quotes Honda's Yasuhisa Arai as saying: "Reliability is something we always look for, but the priority now is performance."

And so, McLaren-Honda is looking ahead to Friday's meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Mexico.

It is there that the governing body should rubber-stamp the Strategy Group's decision to give Honda an extra 'power unit' allocation for this year without penalty.

With the green light, a heavily token-upgraded step would therefore be deployed in Hungary later this month.

It could take some of the pressure off not only Arai's shoulders, but also those of the McLaren team boss Eric Boullier.

Asked if he still believes in the Frenchman, Button told Auto Hebdo: "I can say that Eric is highly respected by the team.

"This is a difficult period, but everyone is keeping the faith. It is extremely important to keep everyone's motivation up in a difficult period, and Eric is doing a lot for the team," he added.

As for his own future, Button acknowledges that it is clouded but insists he also continues to believe in McLaren-Honda.

"Do you think I would still be here if I didn't?" the Briton asked.

"I'm thinking about the present, not the future and definitely not what I will be doing in 10 years. I'm completely immersed in my work.

"I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow so it's pointless to speculate about it. We need to live in the present and, for us, try to change things — and as soon as possible," said Button.

Button

Button understands call for more F1 'danger'
(GMM) When it comes to making F1 more "dangerous", Jenson Button is also on board.

Recently, F1 legends Niki Lauda and Kimi Raikkonen used the word to describe what the sport needs to do to rekindle the imagination of a dwindling audience.

"I wouldn't use the word 'dangerous' myself," Button, the most experienced driver on the grid today who has raced in the V10, V8 and new 'power unit' eras, told the French magazine Auto Hebdo.

"I don't think that's the appropriate word, but I understand what they mean," he said.

"No one wants, for example, to make the tracks less safe, but we have to make the cars more difficult to drive, and hopefully we can make them faster in the corners," Button added.

The 35-year-old said a lot of the current criticism of F1 is justified.

"The audience in formula one is bigger than in many other sports," he explained, "so there is always criticism.

"But that doesn't mean we can't improve it. I think the fans will be satisfied when they at least feel as though the actual participants are happy with everything. And that's not the case at the moment," insisted Button.

To help, the drivers recently commissioned a global fan survey, and over 200,000 fans from 194 countries responded.

They proposed things like a tire war and the return of refuelling, but both measures were rejected by the teams.

"In front of the camera, the team bosses say what the fans want is important, but to me it's like a chef asking his customers what they want to eat and then cooking whatever he wants anyway," said former F1 driver David Coulthard.

"So what can we learn from the fact that Kimi Raikkonen is the most popular driver?" he told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"It's that people want to see characters. Guys with rough edges. They want wins, losses, breakdowns, errors, accidents, controversies. Perfection is boring," Coulthard said.

After Raikkonen, the next most popular drivers in F1 – the GPDA survey also found – are Button and Fernando Alonso.

Jacques Villeneuve commented: "Who? The three with the most experience.

"This speaks very much against the trend of younger and younger drivers," said the 1997 world champion. "I'm surprised the teams don't understand that.

"Don't they do their own market research?"

Damon Hill, however, thinks the fact the drivers are commissioning fan surveys is a worrying sign for F1.

"Have you ever heard of the Rolling Stones doing a survey? I'd like to think that the sport knows for itself what it needs to do," said the 1996 title winner.

"If you always aspire to power by popularity, you will spin in a circle," the Briton warned.

No more fake F1 pitstops

FIA clamps down after Mercedes' pitstop 'dummy'
(GMM) The FIA has warned teams against following Mercedes' lead in 'faking' pitstops.

After Williams and Mercedes dueled for the win at Silverstone, Toto Wolff admitted his strategists had tried to trick Williams into altering their race strategy.

"You guys think you can fool us?" the Mercedes chief's wife Susie, who works for Williams, reportedly 'texted' her husband during the British grand prix.

In a failed attempt to trick Williams, Mercedes' mechanics had gathered in the pitlane for a 'dummy' pitstop.

"It was a bit of a game that didn't work," Toto Wolff admitted afterwards. "At least it was a bit of entertainment."

But actually, it is against the rules. The sporting regulations dictate that "team personnel are only allowed in the pitlane immediately before they are required to work on a car".

Williams' highly experienced technical boss Pat Symonds had observed: "I think coming out in the pitlane is against the rules if it is not a genuine call."

Speaking to the media this week, the FIA's Charlie Whiting said Wolff had obviously "put his foot in it" by admitting the ploy.

He will now sternly warn the other teams ahead of the Hungarian grand prix.

"I have no intention of giving them a few chances and will talk to all the teams in Hungary about this and warning them that we will want to see evidence that they were actually intending to stop," said Whiting.

Fittipaldi named Mexican GP ambassador
Double World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi has been named as an official ambassador for this year's Mexican Grand Prix, which returns to the calendar after a 23 year absence.

Fittipaldi will aid promotion of the event, which takes place at the Aut¢dromo Hermanos Rodríguez between October 30 and November 1 later this year.

"I feel very honored to assume this role as the official ambassador of the Aut¢dromo Hermanos Rodríguez," he said.

"I still have special thoughts about when I ran here in the 1970's, the track was so different then.

"I don't think I performed at my best on this circuit, nevertheless nothing can make me forget the incredible atmosphere created by the Mexican audience; the passion and positive energy they display are extraordinary."

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