Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Hamilton warns Rosberg

    Hamilton warns Rosberg against 'momentum' hopes

  • Time running out for Ferrari's Vettel – Wolff
  • F1 still dangerous – Stewart
  • Mercedes not willing to supply Red Bull – Wolff
  • Legends slam engine penalty rules
  • Raikkonen losing support of Italian press
  • Renault denies it will 'give up' on F1
  • Verstappen had meeting with Ecclestone – report
  • Horner denies Berger to replace him
  • Austria GP audience almost halved – report

Hamilton warns Rosberg against 'momentum' hopes
(GMM) F1's battle for the 2015 title looks to now be a two-horse race.

Nico Rosberg has won three of the last four grands prix, despite earlier appearing outclassed by his Mercedes teammate and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton.

Indeed, Red Bull was so confident Hamilton would win on Sunday that its race-day edition of the paddock magazine The Red Bulletin featured the headline 'Hamilton wins in Spielberg'.

On social media, a photo of actual winner Rosberg holding the magazine with a puzzled and disgruntled look on his face has gone viral.

Spain's La Vanguardia declared after Austria that the weekend had been a case of "Rosberg dressed as Hamilton".

"There are people who repeatedly question him (Rosberg)," agreed boss Toto Wolff, "but he is mentally very strong."

Briton Hamilton, however, urged Rosberg not to feel too comfortable in his new run of form, warning that the German cannot expect to ride a wave of 'momentum'.

"I don't feel you carry anything through," he insisted.

Of Rosberg's three wins in May and June, one of them was Monaco, where only a team strategy blunder cost Hamilton victory.

"He (Rosberg) has done Barcelona and here (Austria), two out of eight isn't too bad really. I'm happy with that," said Hamilton.

"When you look at it seven poles out of eight is pretty decent and perhaps without Monaco, it wouldn't be as close as it is now — he has had just two strong weekends," he added.

Rosberg, however, warned that Silverstone could be another strong one, as he started last year's British grand prix from pole, and won in 2013.

As for the rivalry between the warring pair, boss Toto Wolff said he is not worried.

"The duel is intense," he said, "but it's somewhat more civilized than last year.

"I think that is because they have been friends before and so they have a strong basis. It is not as though they hate one another.

"Once their racing careers are over, I am sure they will have a friendly relationship again," Wolff is quoted by Austria's Sportwoche.

Vettel does not stand a chance against Mercedes' superior power, rumored to be as much as 100 HP more when needed
Vettel does not stand a chance against Mercedes' superior power, rumored to be as much as 100 HP more when needed

Time running out for Ferrari's Vettel – Wolff
(GMM) Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel is still clinging onto contention for the 2015 title, according to Mercedes chief Toto Wolff.

The Italian team has closed the gap on Mercedes this year, but Niki Lauda admits he was "surprised" how easily Rosberg and Hamilton drove away in Austria.

Vettel admitted: "We were not as close as we had hoped."

Wolff confirmed: "The first 10, 15 laps, we drove flat out. Then we could relax a little."

Indeed, Rosberg said after a fast start on Sunday, it had actually been "one of the easiest victories of my career".

Ferrari spent tokens to upgrade its engine in Canada, and it is now rumored the Italian team could debut further upgrades at Monza and again in Austin in October.

"Our cars are evolving all the time," Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne confirmed, "and I think that by the time we are at Monza we will be in much stronger positions."

But by then, it might be too late. Vettel is already almost 100 points behind Hamilton's lead, meaning the German needs to start reducing the gap now.

"If we extend or maintain our position until Hungary," said Wolff, "then it does become more difficult for Ferrari."

F1 still dangerous – Stewart
(GMM) Sir Jackie Stewart has warned F1 drivers that the sport is still dangerous.

Kimi Raikkonen headed into the Austrian grand prix arguing that more danger would spice up the sport, only to narrowly avoid serious injury when Fernando Alonso's McLaren sliced across his open cockpit at the start of the race.

In fact, F1 legend Sir Jackie Stewart thinks that because there have been no deaths since Ayrton Senna in 1994, drivers are today taking too many risks.

"Yes," the triple world champion told Der Tagesspiegel.

"The accident Max Verstappen had in Monaco could have been fatal. And at the end of May at Monza in F3, Lance Stroll had a terrible accident and just got out and walked back to the pits.

"His father Lawrence showed me the video in Montreal and I was shocked," said Stewart. "And he (Lawrence) was also pretty shocked at the realization of what could happen to his son."

For decades, Stewart has been a champion of safety in motor racing, but he thinks the drivers have become not only complacent, but disempowered.

"Their word has no weight," he said.

"Back then, we boycotted races and had them thrown off the calendar, so many people in the administration of formula one are afraid of the drivers becoming that powerful again.

"But some drivers believe that we no longer have to worry about safety. Maybe it's because many are still so young, and most of them are not even married," added Stewart.

76-year-old Stewart said he is even willing to become involved in the GPDA again.

"Of course I would help," he said. "I would only need to be asked.

"Many people say the sport is not the same as it was, but the risks are the same. It's sad, but it will probably need not one but two deaths for everyone to come to their senses."

Toto Wolff afraid of true competition
Toto Wolff afraid of true competition

Mercedes not willing to supply Red Bull – Wolff
(GMM) Mercedes has refused to follow in Ferrari's footsteps in offering to supply engines to Red Bull.

At the weekend, Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne said the Italian marque is willing to take struggling Renault-powered Red Bull on board as a customer.

The same offer, however, has not been forthcoming from Mercedes, whose own turbo V6 'power unit' is clearly the best in the pitlane.

"We are at full capacity," Mercedes' Toto Wolff told the Austrian news agency APA.

Indeed, as well as leading the field with its works team, Mercedes supplies customer engines to Williams, Lotus and Force India.

"Four teams including our own is the maximum," Wolff confirmed. "So at the moment we are happy with that."

However, it might also be argued that Mercedes is simply not willing to help Red Bull – the dominant world champions of 2010 through 2013 – to get back to the top of F1.

"There are many reasons," Wolff admitted.

Legends slam engine penalty rules
(GMM) Three racing legends have slammed F1's long-life engine rules.

In Austria, the full destructive potential of the rules was laid bare when Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button were moved back a farcical 50 combined places on the grid as they exhausted their supply of four engines for the season.

"It's crazy," quadruple world champion Alain Prost said.

"This aspect of the regulations should be changed — the driver is already penalized by the failure of his engine, so why should he be further punished?

"What is the logic?" the French legend added.

Carlos Sainz, the father of the Toro Rosso rookie and a world rally legend, agreed: "This rule should be changed, as it stops people from understanding the formation of the grid.

"The rules of formula one are generally too complicated for the public," he added.

And former F1 driver Jean Alesi said: "I think to understand the rules now you need to be an engineer. Let's stop this while there is still time."

Kimi's days numbered?
Kimi's days numbered?

Raikkonen losing support of Italian press
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen is losing the backing of Italy's influential F1 media.

Heading into Austria, the Finn clashed with reporters following the publication of a story suggesting he has been asked to take a pay-cut for 2016.

"It's bullsh*t nonsense that you guys come up with all the time," Raikkonen charged.

The 2007 world champion is under increasing pressure at Maranello, having struggled in 2016 alongside Sebastian Vettel and spinning not only in Montreal, but also on Sunday in Austria, causing a huge first-lap crash with Fernando Alonso.

Giorgio Terruzzi, writing for Sport Mediaset, said in Austria: "Everyone was waiting for Raikkonen's big answer to the Canada fiasco.

"And he did it. It is difficult to fall asleep in qualifying, but he did it. It is difficult to start from the seventh row in a Ferrari, but he did it."

And then came the big crash. "President Marchionne had just declared that Kimi's future is in his own hands, and he got an immediate response," said Terruzzi.

La Repubblica, a daily national newspaper, said Raikkonen in Austria "destroyed his chance of a contract extension" against the trackside barrier.

And Alberto Sabbatini, Autosprint's editor-in-chief, speculated that after spinning immediately after his pitstop in Canada, Raikkonen may have again simply "forgotten" to turn off the 'RS' (race start) engine mode in Austria.

"Three years ago Kimi told his engineers at Lotus 'Leave me alone, I know what I'm doing'. But maybe it's time he is reminded of what to do," said Sabbatini.

Team boss Maurizio Arrivabene departed Austria admitting that Ferrari has set a "deadline" for the decision about Raikkonen's future.

"Kimi knows very well what I want from him," the Italian is quoted by Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper. "He has to get points and prizes.

"In the autumn we will know more. We will decide Kimi's future after the Monza race," Arrivabene added.

Renault denies it will 'give up' on F1
(GMM) Renault has denied it is moving towards F1's paddock turnstile.

Amid talk of a split with Red Bull and a return to full works team status, the big rumor after Austria is that Renault is in fact close to deciding to simply quit formula one.

That is because the development or 'token' rules are gradually tightening, making it more likely Renault's deficit with its V6 'power unit' will be locked in for the long term.

But Renault's operations director Remi Taffin insists: "I do not agree with that. We will not give up."

In fact, Taffin said Renault is now on top of its biggest early-season problems, insisting that "reliability and drivability should no longer be a problem".

He said the rest of the season will be spent improving the engines for 2015 but "especially for 2016".

And Taffin said Renault remains contractually bound to Red Bull for 2016.

"Our relationship with Red Bull is good. Therefore I believe that we will continue to supply this team," he added.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen

Verstappen had meeting with Ecclestone – report
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone is determined to introduce changes in formula one.

The unlikely source of that information is Max Verstappen, the youngest driver in F1 history.

The Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf claims the 17-year-old sat down for his first one-on-one, face-to-face meeting with the F1 supremo in Austria, inside the 84-year-old's famous paddock motor home.

Verstappen said it was a "nice get-together".

"I had met him before, but he comes across as a nice guy," the young Dutchman said.

"Did he say anything about me? Yes, he said I'm doing well and I need to keep it up."

Verstappen also admitted he and Ecclestone spoke about the future of F1, and "According to him there are some good things coming, but what exactly it is he didn't tell me".

Horner denies Berger to replace him
(GMM) Christian Horner has hit back at rumors he is set to be ousted at Red Bull.

British newspapers report that paddock speculation in Austria had suggested owner Dietrich Mateschitz was set to boost the struggling team's waning motivation by installing F1 legend Gerhard Berger in Briton Horner's place.

Indeed, Berger has been a conspicuous presence at grands prix in 2016, and last Sunday was even spotted on the Toro Rosso pitwall wearing a Red Bull-branded jacket.

Horner, however – having headed the Milton-Keynes based team since it entered F1 a decade ago – said the rumors had left him "shocked".

"I had no idea people were talking about me that way."

Horner revealed he has a "long contract" with Red Bull and denied that his relationship with Mateschitz is in trouble amid the team's current performance trough.

"It is difficult but I had dinner with Dietrich on Saturday evening and we still get along very well," he insisted. "We know we have problems but we just have to work through them and I am here to do that job."

Fascinatingly, the Horner rumors coincide with the 41-year-old having departed Austria declaring that the troubled sport needs to have its complex rules re-written by an "independent" figure.

"Maybe we need someone not involved, an independent observer like a Ross Brawn, who understands the business and understands the challenges, to write the specification for what a formula one car should be," Horner said.

The thrill of the screaming F1 engines are gone, and so are the crowds
The thrill of the screaming F1 engines are gone, and so are the crowds

Austria GP audience almost halved – report
(GMM) Expectations of a smaller crowd of spectators for the Red Bull-promoted Austrian grand prix have been confirmed.

Last year, as the sport returned to the refurbished 'Red Bull Ring' for the first time in a decade, an enthusiastic full house of 90,000 thronged the stands.

But Kleine Zeitung newspaper reports that, a year on and amid formula one's widely-reported problems, the race-day crowd had dwindled to just 55,000 on Sunday.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, however, was happy with the job done by race organizers Red Bull.

"Excellent," the Briton told Salzburger Nachrichten. "The best sign is when nobody complains about anything."

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