Latest F1 news in brief – Friday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

After burying him for 4-straight years, Vettel could care less about Webber's whining
After burying him for 4-straight years at Red Bull, Vettel could care less about Webber's whining

07/03/15

  • Funding for Barcelona race still in doubt
  • F1 veterans say no to 'slow' Formula E
  • Massa tells Bottas to 'follow heart' amid Ferrari link
  • Ricciardo 'perfect fit' for Ferrari – Merhi
  • Good form sees Merhi keep Manor seat
  • Sauber 'happy' although step behind Ferrari
  • Terror alert high at British grand prix
  • Massa confident of keeping Williams seat
  • 'Toro Rosso among best cars in 2015' New
  • Hamilton accepts invite to Rosberg's BBQ New
  • Alonso scratched but bullish in Britain New
  • Vettel 'doesn't care' about Webber claims New

Barcelona future in doubt

Funding for Barcelona race still in doubt
(GMM) Barcelona's new mayor still sounds determined to cut funding to the Spanish grand prix.

As she came into office in May, Ada Colau promptly announced that the EUR 4 million contributed annually by the city to the race at the Circuit de Catalunya is in doubt.

"In the context of what is happening (in Barcelona), formula one is not the priority," she was quoted as saying.

Now, Colau has told Catalunya Radio: "There is a lot of money connected with the circuit so I don't think it (the grand prix) depends on those four million."

She said no decisions have been taken, but it is "logical to want to carefully review some things".

Formula E – like watching paint dry

F1 veterans say no to 'slow' Formula E
(GMM) F1's endangered veterans have ruled out rescuing their careers in Formula E.

As team juniors Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne knock on the door, McLaren-Honda's Jenson Button is once again being asked if this weekend might be his last home grand prix at Silverstone.

"I'm not going into the race thinking that," the 35-year-old insisted, "because what does that change? It's not going to help my career or hurt my career."

The 2009 world champion emphatically ruled out switching from his 16-year F1 career straight into Formula E, the FIA's burgeoning all-electric single seater series.

"No. And did I watch the (London) race? No," said Button.

"They've done a good job of getting talented drivers in the cars, but it's not something that interests me. For me, motor sport is motor sport — the smell, the sound, the speed, and that's what formula one is about," he added.

Also with a doubtful future at present is Kimi Raikkonen, who is reportedly struggling to convince Ferrari to keep him on board in 2016.

The Finn, who like Button is also 35, has ruled out switching to a different team, but also like Button he is no fan of Formula E.

"I mean they've done well to go to the places that they race," said Raikkonen, "it's nice for people but for me, unfortunately, it (the cars) doesn't go fast.

"It doesn't look spectacular," he added. "They are in my view pretty slow. It's something that doesn't really excite me."

Massa tells Bottas to follow heart
Massa tells Bottas to follow heart

Massa tells Bottas to 'follow heart' amid Ferrari link
(GMM) The seat currently occupied by Kimi Raikkonen is the key to the 2016 'silly season'.

"I don't know anything more than you guys," the Finn told reporters at Silverstone.

The speculation has ramped up because Raikkonen, 35, has struggled not only against Fernando Alonso last year but now alongside his friend Sebastian Vettel.

And a Ferrari source confirmed that it was the 2007 world champion who was solely to blame for his crash in Austria two weeks ago, which could not have occurred at a worse time for Raikkonen.

Felipe Massa, Raikkonen's predecessor at the fabled Maranello team, thinks the 'Iceman' is struggling with the pressure.

"Everybody says 'Iceman' but for sure he is suffering more with the pressure than anything else," said the Brazilian.

Arguably the favorite to replace Raikkonen is the now Williams driver Massa's current teammate, Valtteri Bottas.

"We cannot forget that he (Bottas) has an option to stay here," Massa said on Thursday.

When asked about that, Finn Bottas told Germany's Auto Bild: "I'm sorry, but I can't talk about contract details."

Speaking to Brazil's Globo, Massa commented: "If he goes to Ferrari or not, I don't know, but he cannot forget that he is already in a very good, competitive team. Our fight at the moment is with Ferrari.

"What would I advise him? Do what your heart says."

Another candidate to replace Raikkonen is Nico Hulkenberg, but he is probably also first in line for the Williams seat in the event that Bottas does go to Ferrari.

Hulkenberg was dropped by Williams after his rookie season in 2010, but the German says he did not slam the door at Grove.

"I'm not resentful," he is quoted by Sport Bild. "And then I think it was other people who had the final say," added Hulkenberg, presumably referring to Williams' now departed former chief Adam Parr.

Hulkenberg has also been linked with a move to the new Ferrari 'B team', Haas.

"The engine will be good and the car will be built in close collaboration with Ferrari," an insider said. "Haas is a super alternative for Nico."

Ricciardo will never be Vettel's teammate again
Ricciardo will never be Vettel's teammate again

Ricciardo 'perfect fit' for Ferrari – Merhi
(GMM) Daniel Ricciardo should be the frontrunner to replace Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari.

That is the view of Roberto Merhi, who chuckled to Spain's Marca sports newspaper that he wishes he was also in the running for a move to Maranello.

Actually, the reported frontrunner is Williams' Valtteri Bottas.

"Bottas is very good," Spanish rookie Merhi said, "but in the race sometimes he makes small mistakes.

"It does seem strange that he is beaten on many days by Felipe Massa," the Manor driver added, "but we are talking about a great driver, of course."

But Merhi said that if the choice was his, he would sign Australia's Ricciardo.

"I think he meets all the requirements. He has Italian ancestry, speaks a little of the language, has a very open character and with a competitive car gets good results, as happened last year with Red Bull," said Merhi.

"I think he would fit perfectly with Ferrari."

Merhi acknowledges, however, that Ricciardo would not be the first choice of his prospective 2016 teammate Sebastian Vettel.

"He (Ricciardo) beat him last year at Red Bull and so I don't think he would be his (Vettel's) favorite teammate, but I think it would be good for Ferrari overall," the 24-year-old Spaniard added.

Good form sees Merhi keep Manor seat
(GMM) Against the odds, Roberto Merhi is still racing for Manor.

Earlier, it was said the Spanish rookie was on a tenuous race-by-race deal and would be replaced as soon as the former Marussia team found a 'pay driver'.

But the 24-year-old said he is feeling increasingly comfortable in F1.

"In this race we have some improvements to the car — the floor, the nose and some other parts so hopefully we can be faster," Merhi smiled at Silverstone.

As for whether new team reserve Fabio Leimer will soon oust him, 24-year-old Merhi told AS newspaper at Silverstone: "If I did not have a good weekend in Montreal and in Austria, I may not be here, but I'm here."

Meanwhile, the arrival of a new sponsor means Manor's previously all red and white car will now feature prominently blue sidepods.

Sauber happy with Ferrari power
Sauber happy with Ferrari power

Sauber 'happy' although step behind Ferrari
(GMM) Monisha Kaltenborn says Sauber is "happy" with its engine supplier Ferrari.

That is despite the fact the small Swiss team is a step behind the works outfit in the technical specification of its turbo V6 'power unit'.

But Kaltenborn has played that down, insisting: "If you are last, you would not be first only because of the engine.

"It's part of the game, so if you are not happy, you should make your own engine," the Hinwil based team's boss and co-owner smiled.

What Kaltenborn is happier about is that FIA president Jean Todt has vowed to get engine costs down for struggling private teams in the new hybrid power era.

"We understand that we need to pay for engines," she said, "but the price is too high and does not correspond with the direction I think we want to go in.

"Hopefully, common sense prevails."

On the bright side for Sauber, the team has been able to convince Briton Mark Smith, formerly of Caterham and Red Bull, to move to Hinwil to become technical director.

Sauber driver Felipe Nasr told Brazil's Globo: "I do not know him but I know that he is very experienced.

"It is the beginning of the solutions that are needed at Sauber."

Terror alert high at British grand prix
(GMM) Security personnel are on full alert at the British grand prix.

The increased tension is due to the terror attack in Tunisia last week, in which 30 of the 38 people gunned down were British.

It is also the tenth anniversary of the London terror bombing attacks.

So the Daily Express newspaper said sniffer dogs are on patrol at Silverstone amid increased security checks, as the country has been put on a "severe" terror alert.

And the Mirror said an armed police response unit is on standby.

"Because it is a major high-level sporting event, we are already on high alert," a circuit spokesman said.

"We have had a risk assessment by Northamptonshire police and security is based on that assessment."

Massa confident
Massa confident

Massa confident of keeping Williams seat
(GMM) Felipe Massa is confident he will keep his seat at Williams in 2016.

"Why not?" the diminutive Brazilian smiled at Silverstone.

Brazil's Globo quoted team technical boss Pat Symonds as saying the former Ferrari driver Massa alongside Valtteri Bottas is among the best pairing he has seen "in the 30 years I have worked in formula one".

It is believed 34-year-old Massa, who joined Williams in 2014, has an 'option' in his current contract for 2016.

"I like to work here," he said on Thursday, "the team has treated me with great respect, we have performed well. I have not been talking to anyone else.

"So why change something?"

Massa has made no secret that he is happier now than when he raced under severe pressure for Ferrari, the most famous name on the F1 grid.

"The important thing is to be happy," he admitted, "and to work in a place where you are respected.

"Next year I think, yes, I will continue here."

And Massa said he thinks his relationship with the media is better today than it was at times in the past.

"I had some very complicated, difficult moments," he is quoted by Globo. "I think if I am here today with a successful career, without doubt it is because of my talent, not because I am the darling of the press."

The Toro Rosso is a good car, but with Renault power it's nowhere
The Toro Rosso is a good car, but with Renault power it's nowhere

'Toro Rosso among best cars in 2015'
(GMM) Max Verstappen agrees with his boss that the 2015 Toro Rosso is one of the very best cars on the grid.

The STR10's designer James Key said recently that "With a Mercedes engine we would be at the front".

And it is not only those in the Faenza based camp who are saying it.

"Toro Rosso have a great car," Force India's Sergio Perez agreed at Silverstone.

Team driver Verstappen admits: "I would say we are in third place behind Mercedes."

Actually, Toro Rosso is a lowly eighth in the current constructors' standings, as the 17-year-old teen and his equally impressive teammate Carlos Sainz struggle with unreliable and uncompetitive Renault power.

But Spaniard Sainz said: "We use GPS at every race and can see that with a decent engine, we would be fighting with Williams and sometimes also Ferrari.

"That's why I always praise the team. For a small team to produce a car like that is really impressive," he added.

As for the obvious comparison with 'big brother' team Red Bull, Verstappen said: "Maybe they have more people at Milton Keynes, and they are better at setting up the car than us, but in general I think our car is almost as good as theirs."

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo confirmed: "When I follow the Toro Rosso, the handling looks really good. They have done a great job.

"It looks as though James Key is really established in the team now after a few years. He has designed a really good car."

But the Australian denied that Red Bull has suffered a decline due to its own designer, Adrian Newey, having stepped into the background.

"I'm not at the factory every day," said Ricciardo, "but when I am there, he is always in his office in the morning. I am sure he is doing what he can to bring us back to the front."

Best buds.....not
Best buds…..not

Hamilton accepts invite to Rosberg's BBQ
(GMM) They may not be the best of friends, but title contenders Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will share a gourmet hamburger this weekend at Silverstone.

The Mercedes duo's motor homes are parked side-by-side inside the British grand prix venue, and Rosberg – although joking he would erect a "big fence" between them – publicly invited Hamilton to a barbeque.

"It's very nice of Nico to invite me," the Briton told Bild newspaper.

"Of course I'll go — free food always tastes the best!"

Hamilton, although the reigning world champion and 2015 title leader, arrives for his home race on the back foot, given his teammate's run of recent form.

1996 world champion Damon Hill has questioned the jet-setting star's mid-season focus.

And another F1 pundit, former driver Marc Surer, agrees: "Hamilton is faster, but he is not always 100 per cent focused. In Austria that was clearly the case.

"So I think it's a great opportunity for Rosberg," the German-language Sky commentator added.

Derek Warwick, the president of the Silverstone-owning British Racing Drivers' Club, said it was "bizarre" that Hamilton elected to let Rosberg do the post-Austrian grand prix test.

But Hamilton said on Thursday: "It's not as if I was skiving or something. I had some doctor check-ups and things in the hospital to do which I felt was more important for making sure I was 100 per cent for here."

He did not elaborate.

Hamilton insisted, however, that it is wrong to suggest Rosberg got a better race start in Austria because he is more involved in Mercedes' development program.

Actually, Hamilton said the team discovered a "serious issue" with the new clutch system when Rosberg was doing the test.

Team boss Paddy Lowe confirmed: "We actually found Lewis had done an incredible job to manage it as well as he did. Things could have been a lot worse."

Alonso scratched but bullish in Britain
(GMM) Fernando Alonso strolled into the Silverstone paddock on Thursday with a bandaged hand.

But he said it has nothing to do with his big crash with Kimi Raikkonen in Austria two weeks ago.

"I fell off my bike while training," the McLaren-Honda driver and cycling enthusiast told Spanish reporters ahead of the British grand prix, "but I'm fine."

Alonso had been mountain bike riding with a group of friends in the Alps, and reportedly crashed during a descent.

"It's bandaged just so it doesn't infect. Just some scratches," he said.

Much more damaged in the Raikkonen crash was Alonso's newly-installed Honda engine, with Yasuhisa Arai already suggesting the Spaniard might be facing yet another change.

But it is possible Alonso will avoid further penalty.

"I know there have been some talks with the FIA and the team to find some common sense solution," said Alonso, presumably referring to the Strategy Group's decision to give the Honda drivers an extra 'joker' engine for 2015.

And he said another option is to revert to an "older engine" for Silverstone, also avoiding a penalty.

In Austria, only Alonso had enjoyed the new 'short nose' package, but now Jenson Button's car is also equipped with the latest specification.

But it is believed only one new, lighter monocoque has been prepared for Silverstone, and so it is now Button's turn to enjoy the first version.

As for how the new package will fare in Britain, Alonso admitted: "We don't know if we are 12th, 17th or 8th, so it's an important weekend for us."

After burying him for 4 straight years Vettel could care less what crybaby Webber has to say
After burying him for 4 straight years Vettel could care less what crybaby Webber has to say

Vettel 'doesn't care' about Webber claims
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has shrugged off explosive claims made by his former Red Bull teammate Mark Webber.

In his newly published autobiography, retired F1 star Webber slammed the quadruple world champion's "arrogance", revealing Vettel even threatened to sue Red Bull in the wake of the so-called Multi-21 team orders affair.

"I really don't care what Mark has to say about me," Vettel, now at Ferrari, told the German newspaper Bild.

"Everyone has the right to his opinion."

The 27-year-old also bristled at Bernie Ecclestone's recent claim that, due to his low profile, Vettel is bad for business.

"Sadly, I am not part of that generation, such as Senna, Prost, Piquet and Lauda, who didn't have to listen to this sh*t," Vettel reportedly smiled to the Daily Mail newspaper.

"If you told them what to do, they would give you the 'fu*k off'. I stopped playing backgammon — maybe that's why Bernie said what he did," he added.

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