Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Vettel says current F1 cars don't scare the drivers. F1 has engineered the sport right out of F1. F1 is an engineering exercise. Engineering is not a sport, hence F1 is not a sport.

    Michelin 'disappointed' with F1's tire situation

  • F1 cars no longer 'scare' drivers – Vettel
  • F1 might benefit from FIA intervention – Mosley
  • Renault situation costing Red Bull millions – Marko
  • Sainz smiling as he 'suffers' with Renault power
  • Mercedes also fastest pit crew in 2015
  • Honda vows to improve engine 'power'
  • Sandbagging Mercedes must 'not become comfortable' in 2015 – Wolff
  • Alonso expected to struggle in 2015 – Sainz
  • Juggling F1 with Le Mans 'hardcore' – Hulkenberg
  • Hamilton has no interest in 'mind games'

Michelin 'disappointed' with F1's tire situation
(GMM) Michelin has revealed it wants to improve F1's tire situation.

While the sport's current supplier Pirelli appears to retain the backing of Bernie Ecclestone and most teams, many drivers and spectators look back fondly on the days when it was possible to push throughout a race rather than 'save tires'.

Michelin, last in F1 a decade ago in competition with Bridgestone, admits it is also in that camp.

"We are disappointed where it (F1) is today, tire-wise," admitted the French marque's motor sport director Pascal Couasnon.

Michelin this week confirmed it has lodged its application by the June 17 deadline to be considered for F1's 2017-2019 contract as sole supplier.

But it wants the sport to move from its current 13-inch to 18-inch wheel rims, and also adopt a "drive to the max" rather than show-oriented and tire-saving philosophy.

Cousanon said: "We want to be coherent with our proposals and offer the opportunity to the teams and the drivers to have a tire that enables everyone to express themselves and drive to the max."

Most insiders agree that F1 is likely to stick with the Pirelli philosophies beyond 2016, but Couasnon explained: "If you want to be credible and consistent then you cannot complain or comment if you don't bring solutions.

"So it has made sense for me to say if we have ideas, then let's go and propose these ideas and we'll see if people are interested or not," he is quoted by the Daily Mail.

Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel

F1 cars no longer 'scare' drivers – Vettel
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has joined those who think a bigger serving of danger was better for formula one.

F1 legend Niki Lauda, and also Vettel's Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen, have been quoted this week as saying the sport would benefit from an injection of danger.

Instead, the trend over the past decade has been for slower cars and safer circuits, but Vettel says what drew him to formula one as a boy was the noise and the danger.

"I can still remember standing with my dad on one of the long forest straights at Hockenheim and listening to the scream of the engines from afar," the German told Sport Bild.

Now, as one of the sport's top stars, he admits that the fences are now obviously less-densely populated by excited boys with their dads.

Vettel, as a director of the F1 drivers' union GPDA, says that is why the body commissioned a global fan survey, whose results will now be fed back to the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone.

The 27-year-old, however, knows what excites him as a F1 fan.

"When I first got to drive a formula one car," said Vettel, "I was – and I have to be honest – scared.

"Please don't misunderstand me — it's still difficult to drive a formula one car. But you used to need bigger balls."

Meanwhile, as Ecclestone heaps praise on the celebrity-showman Lewis Hamilton and criticizes the fiercely private Vettel, the German has defended his approach to public life.

Indeed, while Hamilton's daily exploits are chronicled in tabloid magazines, Vettel is yet to even confirm that his partner Hanna is pregnant with their second child.

Vettel explained: "Personally, I don't care what car Roger Federer drives or what his girlfriend looks like. I am only interested in what he achieves as a sportsman."

Max Mosley
Max Mosley

F1 might benefit from FIA intervention – Mosley
(GMM) F1 might benefit from the greater involvement of FIA president Jean Todt.

That is the view of Max Mosley, Todt's immediate predecessor at the head of formula one's governing body.

While Frenchman Todt keeps a low profile, some insiders now look back fondly to the more turbulent Mosley-led days, predicting that the now 75-year-old Briton would have fiercely intervened in order to sort F1's current problems.

Others think the problem is more generational, with the 84-year-old F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone no longer suited to his top job.

"I'm not sure if we need a generational change at the top of F1," Mosley told the Italian broadcaster Sky.

"Bernie does a great job at least from a financial point of view, but I do believe the basic structure of F1 is wrong, with the top teams very rich and the others in distress and yet they are forced to find shared solutions.

"But Bernie is unable to mediate by himself and, personally, I think the Federation (FIA) should intervene," said Mosley.

"Perhaps Jean Todt thinks they should solve the problems amongst themselves," he added.

"I think Jean is doing a great job in terms of road safety," Mosley continued. "I have not spoken to him recently, but I think he is concentrating more on that than on F1.

"I understand his point of view," he added. "He regards the team principals as adults, with Ecclestone in charge and able to solve their problems without interference.

"I thought differently, but I cannot say that he is wrong," Mosley said.

As for the sport's problems now, Mosley refuses to blame the often maligned 'power unit' regulations but thinks basic errors were made in the implementation of the new era.

"I agree with the hybrids in F1," said the Briton, "but I think the fundamental error was to not put a cap on spending."

Mosley said manufacturers should be forced by regulation to supply their engines to teams for "3 to 4 million euros per year".

"That is already a lot of money," he said, "and if you are not willing to do that then you should not have access to F1.

"The mistake was to allow manufacturers to offload the costs of the research and development of these engines to the small teams, because those costs will be amortized with the transfer to road car production," Mosley argued.

Dr Helmut Marko
Dr Helmut Marko

Renault situation costing Red Bull millions – Marko
(GMM) Red Bull's slide down the constructors' championship table is also hurting the team in the hip pocket.

That is the claim of Dr Helmut Marko, the Red Bull official who this week has fired rumors of a sensational switch from works Renault status to 'customer' Ferrari power for 2016.

Team owner Dietrich Mateschitz, however, has immediately played down that possibility.

But Marko said going from the championship-winning glory years of 2010-2013, to second place in 2014 and now a further slide this season is hurting Red Bull financially.

"Second place to fourth place hurts us," he told Bild newspaper. "It will cost us some 20 million euros.

"With luck, it will stay that way, because Lotus and Force India also have that Mercedes engine."

That is undoubtedly why Marko suggested that a 'B' Ferrari V6 is better than the works Renault, even if it would mean the reversion to mere customer status.

"The fact is that we cannot go two more years with this (Renault) engine," he insisted.

Mateschitz is threatening to pull out of F1 altogether, but also Renault is unhappy with Red Bull's constant carping and is reportedly considering buying Lotus.

Bild said a 'crisis meeting' between Red Bull and Renault is scheduled for 25 June.

Marko said: "We will get the results from their (Renault's) latest tests and explain how they see the future. And then we will decide how we deal with it."

And he is not necessarily expecting the meeting to go smoothly.

"Our relationship with Renault is, to say the least, very tense," Marko admitted.

Carlos Sainz Jr.
Carlos Sainz Jr.

Sainz smiling as he 'suffers' with Renault power
(GMM) Carlos Sainz Jr. has admitted he is having to "suffer" with an underpowered engine during his first season in formula one.

The rookie Spaniard is one of four drivers on the 2015 grid struggling with the unreliable and uncompetitive Renault 'power unit'.

Asked if he 'likes' the French-made V6 in his Toro Rosso, Sainz admitted to the Spanish broadcaster Antena 3: "No, I don't like it.

"I am always thinking 'I wish I had a better engine'. But who knows, maybe by the end of the year it will be much better.

"On the other hand, I have been fortunate to have been given a very good car by Toro Rosso, and what I really wanted in the world was to get into formula one.

"It makes no sense to criticize anyone, as I am living a dream. This year I have to suffer with this engine, but with a smile on my face," he added.

Indeed, 20-year-old Sainz says he can still starkly remember the day much less than a year ago when Dr Helmut Marko rang to tell him the vacant seat at Toro Rosso would not be his in 2015.

"I felt very bad," he admitted.

"Before the season, they had told me 'Carlos, this year is your last chance, the last year of your contract and you have to win'."

Sainz said he was holidaying with his family in the summer, happy that he was on the road to F1 by utterly dominating the Formula Renault 3.5 series.

"Suddenly they called me to say the seat was for Max Verstappen. They saw an unique opportunity to have this sort of new Ayrton Senna and they couldn't let it go, they were sorry, I was doing everything perfectly but they had to take him," he explained.

Ultimately, the second seat at Toro Rosso also opened up, pairing Sainz with the very high profile teenager Verstappen.

Sainz has admitted Verstappen's profile has him in the shade in 2015, but "I think that in terms of talent we are evenly matched".

"I have not noticed that he has more talent and I have not noticed that I have a lot more. But that is the way in F1 — if you put all the drivers in the same car, there would only be half a second from first to last place.

"Who would be first? In my opinion, Hamilton or Fernando, and it would be very close," Sainz concluded.

Ferrari can't beat Mercedes in the pits either
Ferrari can't beat Mercedes in the pits either

Mercedes also fastest pit crew in 2015
(GMM) Mercedes may have the best car, but the German team's pit crew is also formula one's fastest.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport has analyzed the pitstops over the course of the seven races so far in 2015 and found that Mercedes' average time is the shortest.

It is a laudable achievement by the Brackley based outfit, as its position of dominance could justify a more leisurely approach to changing Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg's tires in a few rapid blinks of an eye.

Indeed, Auto Motor und Sport said team manager Ron Meadows took that approach last year, when a half-second safety margin was built into Mercedes' stops.

But in 2015, the time spent from pit entry to pit exit by Hamilton and Rosberg so far has been just 23.6 seconds — three tenths clear of Ferrari's respective average time.

Third was Williams, ahead of Force India, Red Bull, Lotus and McLaren, with Toro Rosso, Sauber and Manor bringing up the rear.

Honda vows more power, but will others roll-out even more?
Honda vows more power, but will others roll-out even more?

Honda vows to improve engine 'power'
(GMM) Honda has vowed to improve the performance of its engine.

The progress made so far in 2015 seemed to stall in Canada, as McLaren-Honda's Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button struggled for outright power on the long straights.

And the Woking based team, despite unveiling a new 'short nose' aerodynamic concept for Austria, is acknowledging that the start-stop nature of the Red Bull Ring this weekend will also not suit its Japanese-made power unit.

Amid growing pressure, therefore, Honda's F1 chief Yasuhisa Arai said the marque is pushing ahead with much-needed performance improvements.

"From the point of view of power," he is quoted by Italy's Tuttosport, "we will see improvements in the near future.

"We are working hard as a team, not only on the engine but also on aerodynamics and the chassis.

"We have seen good progress in these two areas between Australia and Canada, and perhaps in the second half of the season we will be able to achieve high performance and compete with the best teams," the Japanese added.

Sandbagging Mercedes has so much power in-hand they can fall asleep at the wheel and still win the rest of the races
Sandbagging Mercedes has so much power in-hand they can fall asleep at the wheel and still win the rest of the races

Sandbagging Mercedes must 'not become comfortable' in 2015 – Wolff
(GMM) Toto Wolff insists Mercedes must not feel "comfortable" heading into the Austrian grand prix.

Seven races into the 2015 season, the German squad has won all but one grand prix, including the easy one-two in Canada where despite an engine upgrade Ferrari did not close the gap to the reigning world champions.

So heading into Austria, where the Red Bull Ring is another 'power circuit', one might be forgiven for thinking Mercedes has everything until control.

"But in reality," boss Toto Wolff insists, "this is never the case."

Wolff had left Canada suspecting Ferrari had been unable to get the most from its upgraded engine, so he declared ahead of Austria: "The battle is far from over."

Indeed, Austrian Wolff told the local Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper: "Last year, Austria was our toughest race." Indeed, the similarly Mercedes-powered customer Williams qualified first and second on the short layout in 2014.

Ultimately, Nico Rosberg won on Sunday but Wolff said ahead of the 2015 edition: "We have set the benchmark high and now we have a lot of pressure.

"And whenever you feel too comfortable, you stumble very quickly. The advantage we have will not be like this forever."

Nonetheless, Wolff said he is happy to be back 'home' in Austria.

"What could be better than being in Styria, surrounded by meadows and mountains and formula one? It is also Niki (Lauda) and my home race, but also Red Bull as well," he smiled.

"But yes, a good result here would be a very special thing," Wolff added, "even if there are the same points on offer at every race."

He also warned that, while world champion Lewis Hamilton looks to have now resumed his top form after the Monaco blip, Rosberg cannot be written off.

"In fact, the differences (between them) are in the hundredths or thousandths," Wolff insisted.

"Lewis is really good, but whenever it is believed he has Nico under control, he (Rosberg) comes back again as he is so strong in the mind."

Carlos Sainz Sr.
Carlos Sainz Sr.

Alonso expected to struggle in 2015 – Sainz
(GMM) Fernando Alonso expected to struggle when he made the switch from Ferrari to McLaren-Honda for 2015.

That is the claim of fellow Spaniard Carlos Sainz Sr., the world rally legend and father of 2015 Toro Rosso rookie Carlos Sainz Jr.’

Whilst recovering from an Achilles heel injury suffered whilst playing football, 53-year-old Sainz was asked by the Spanish daily Marca about Alonso's current situation.

In Canada, Alonso's frustrations appeared to show for the first time when he declared on the radio that McLaren-Honda is making him appear "amateur" in 2015.

Sainz, however, said: "It is obvious that Fernando is thinking more long-term.

"He knew that, this year, he would probably have to go through something like this."

Among his Spanish supporters in particular, however, many believe the 33-year-old clearly made a mistake in choosing to leave the now-resurgent Ferrari.

"Choosing the best option is never easy," Sainz admitted, "because nobody has a crystal ball.

"But I think Fernando needed another challenge. Another motivation. When you've achieved what he has, it's also important to be with a team where you feel truly at ease, happy.

"I think he is comfortable now at McLaren," Sainz added.

He admitted, however, that Alonso's 'comfort' may be tested if McLaren-Honda does not make a big step forward for 2016.

"Fernando has said that this year he suffers and next year he expects to have a winning car," said Sainz.

"So I think if in 2016 he does not have a car to fight for the championship, it will be a difficult situation to accept. But for now, what is happening this year I think falls under the predictions that he had himself," he added.

If Alonso is wrong, however, the lure of yet another challenge might prove too strong, after McLaren-Honda reportedly blocked the Spaniard's desire to combine F1 with Le Mans in 2015.

Sainz commented: "I believe that Fernando is a great driver and will be for all his life. And with the winning personality that he has, he likes challenges.

"But I do not think that leaving formula one is on his mind," he said.

Nico Hulkenberg
Nico Hulkenberg

Juggling F1 with Le Mans 'hardcore' – Hulkenberg
(GMM) As he bounces back to earth and his day-job, Nico Hulkenberg has admitted the last two months have been "hardcore".

And he is referring not only to the euphoria of becoming the first driver since Johnny Herbert in 1991 to combine F1 with a winning Le Mans foray.

He is also talking about his bursting personal calendar, which in the past few weeks has meant living out of a suitcase as he hopped between his Porsche and Force India cockpits.

"But it was worth it," the German told Sport Bild.

"It was twice as much fun, but also twice as much work," Hulkenberg smiled. "The months of May and June were hardcore.

"But the opportunity to work with a brand like Porsche does not come along every day; I've always been a fan and both sides were interested, so why not?"

It means he is now a Le Mans winner and still a F1 driver, but it was not all glamour.

"I bought a big suitcase so I could fit both the clean and the dirty clothes inside," he explained, "and had to cope with that for three months."

Le Mans winner Hulkenberg, 27, will draw an unusually large crowd of reporters when he enters the paddock of the Red Bull Ring on Thursday, but that is not because he has a chance of winning the Austrian grand prix.

"With the Porsche I had a car that I could fight with at the front, but in formula one it's difficult to think about the podium," he admits.

That, indeed, is how he will spend his weekend in Austria.

"We have not met our expectations" in 2015, said Hulkenberg, referring to Force India. "We did not work efficiently and well enough with the car.

"There is no downforce so we are too slow," he added.

However, Austria will be Hulkenberg and teammate Sergio Perez's last outing in the current Force India before the long-awaited 'B' version arrives for Silverstone.

Hamilton has no interest in 'mind games'
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton says he is not interested in playing "mind games" in formula one.

The double world champion admits to having idolized Ayrton Senna as a boy, but he says he is not interested in the kind of 'Senna versus Prost' battle that also raged off the track.

"Some people like to play mind games," Hamilton is quoted by the German edition of Playboy, "but I don't need that.

"What I have to say, I say on the racetrack. Your actions on the track speak louder than any words or any psychological games," he added.

However, Hamilton's relationship with his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg has obviously been thorny, and there were times last year when it arguably spilled out of control.

But Hamilton insists: "I pay no attention to it. I laugh and forget about it.

"There is no question that in my career there were times when it would have affected me, but you learn and you build up a wall."

Leave a Reply