Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Vettel is clearly the better Ferrari driver

    Honda president set to gauge McLaren progress

  • Vettel still not 'number 1' driver – Arrivabene
  • Red Bull expecting 'worst' home race – Marko
  • Refuelling idea axe 'unanimous' – Wolff
  • Nasr saw 'many ways' to reach F1
  • Canada was 'Groundhog Day' for F1 – press
  • Wolff plays down Hamilton 'radio coaching'
  • Key teams excluded from 'customer cars' meeting

Honda president set to gauge McLaren progress
(GMM) McLaren-Honda is still united despite a horror start to the project, boss Eric Boullier insists.

Star driver Fernando Alonso let his frustration show on the radio during the Canadian grand prix, but Boullier says the Spaniard knows 2015 is little more than a "test year".

"It's a strange situation for Alonso," said Italy's Corriere dello Sport. "A star who has to concede to drivers who are not as good but better equipped."

Tuttosport added: "Alonso is yet to prove that his move to McLaren was not a mistake."

Boullier smiled: "If it is still like this next year, Fernando maybe will go mad. But he is happy with the team and where he is now."

Whether McLaren-Honda as a whole is happy could be another question.

The ultimate test could be in Austria next weekend, where Honda is expecting more from its upgraded engine and McLaren plans to unleash a raft of car improvements.

That race will be watched from the sidelines by Takahiro Hachigo, none other than the Honda Motor Co.'s new president and CEO, the Times newspaper claims.

At the same time, international media is declaring that McLaren-Honda's performance in 2015 has been little short of embarrassing, and far outweighing the crisis being suffered by Red Bull and Renault.

But Boullier insists that he will not let McLaren-Honda turn into that sort of "media sh*tstorm".

"Throwing a brick or pointing a finger at someone does not help the situation or make it go away," agreed Jenson Button.

But the situation is perhaps particularly difficult for the 2009 world champion, as he is struggling to demonstrate his potential in a poor car and under pressure from McLaren's rising stars including Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne.

Button said it is "not true" McLaren is already in the process of deciding to oust him.

So while insisting "throwing a brick" will not help, 35-year-old Button agrees that simply exonerating the obviously struggling Honda is also no solution.

"You have to say what needs to be improved and you work towards it," said the Briton. "You just don't want to do it in public."

The Spanish daily AS claims Honda is still about 70 horse power down on the leading power units in F1. Boullier admits Honda is "far behind".

"There is so much pressure on this team," Button conceded.

"We are trying to be quicker but when you do that, you risk reliability. It is a really difficult balance. You think we all just say 'Sh*t happens' after the race?

"We won't get a podium this year," he acknowledged. "Next year will be a lot more exciting than 2015 but you cannot just jump to 2016. You have to do the work, otherwise you don't deserve the good results."

Arrivabene refuses to favor one driver over the next
Arrivabene refuses to favor one driver over the other

Vettel still not 'number 1' driver – Arrivabene
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel is not Ferrari's 'number 1' driver, according to boss Maurizio Arrivabene.

Earlier, the Italian said one of the first things he told Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen in 2015 is that the hierarchical days of Schumacher and Alonso are over.

That is despite Arrivabene leaving Montreal on Sunday admitting his anger with Raikkonen following a spin that cost Ferrari a sure podium.

The Finn argued that an engine setting caused the spin, but Arrivabene charged: "We have thrown away a podium, that's the truth. There are no excuses."

Raikkonen ultimately finished fourth, and just a few seconds in front of teammate Sebastian Vettel, who had impressively charged through the field from the back.

Arrivabene, however, said he never considered ordering Vettel past Raikkonen, even though it is the German who is the closest rival to the Mercedes drivers in the championship.

Asked if he thought about team orders in Canada, Arrivabene insisted: "No, not at all, we did not speak about it.

"We made it clear before the season that both drivers have a free run."

He said that might change if the situation in the championship was closer.

"We have to keep our feet on the ground," said the Italian. "Our goal has not changed.

"We have said that if we win twice this year, then we can be satisfied. We must not forget where we came from — we have never talked about the world title."

In that way, Arrivabene – although initially angry after Montreal – said he is happy with how the upgraded engine performed in Canada.

"Yes. We achieved what we wanted to," he said. "We have to admit that they (Mercedes) are simply stronger than us at the moment.

"It is not realistic to say that we have closed the gap to Mercedes, but we are on the right track."

Red Bull/Renault out to lunch and ready to be embarrassed at home
Red Bull/Renault out to lunch and ready to be embarrassed at home

Red Bull expecting 'worst' home race – Marko
(GMM) Red Bull does not see the light at the end of the tunnel yet, Dr Helmut Marko has warned.

The former champions had a particularly bad weekend on Montreal's long straights, but also notable was the dwindling smile on the face of Daniel Ricciardo.

"Daniel struggled for pace all weekend," said team boss Christian Horner, "which is unusual for him."

It revved up speculation the normally-grinning Australian is positioning himself on the driver market, as most of his comments in Montreal indicated a steady loss of patience with leading the charge for Red Bull.

"I think his comments were just a bit of frustration," argued Horner, "especially after winning here last year and this time he was beaten by his teammate."

Indeed, Horner took issue with Ricciardo's claim that, amid Renault's well-documented engine troubles, development of the chassis has also stalled.

"We have moved forwards with the chassis," Horner insists, "and we've seen that since the second race in Malaysia.

"The good thing is that we can bring updates for the car every two weeks," he added, "while improving the engine takes much longer."

The next race is an important one for Red Bull, as it is taking place in Austria at the 'Red Bull Ring'; a race promoted by team owner Dietrich Mateschitz.

But Dr Marko told APA news agency: "Spielberg will be even more difficult for us.

"The circuit is all about accelerating out of tight corners into quite long straights, which in our current engine situation is the worst thing possible."

The mental midgets of F1 were considering dangerous pressurized and expensive refueling again, instead of gravity feed like IndyCar and NASCAR use.
The mental midgets of F1 were considering dangerous, expensive and boring pressurized refueling again, instead of gravity feed like IndyCar and NASCAR use.

Refuelling idea axe 'unanimous' – Wolff
(GMM) F1's strategy group looks set to proceed with taking the earlier-proposed reintroduction of in-race refuelling off the table for 2017.

At the last meeting, the top teams, Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA agreed that refuelling should be part of a package to spice up F1 for 2017.

But in subsequent meetings between team managers and bosses, concerns were raised and it was reported in Canada that the idea would be abandoned altogether.

Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne, however, attended the Canadian grand prix on Sunday and declared that arguments against refuelling are in fact "nonsense".

"We'll see what the committee (Strategy Group) decides," he told Italian reporters. "I think another variable that increases the unpredictability of the outcome is a good thing."

But Mercedes' Toto Wolff says the verdict is in — and refuelling will be out.

"The Strategy Group gave a mandate to the engineers to tell us if refuelling is a smart idea or not, whether it is expensive or not, if it increases performance and if it is dangerous," he told the Montreal newspaper La Presse.

"And the response was unanimous that it would not be good because it is expensive, it is logistically complicated, dangerous and makes boring races because all the strategies will be the same," Wolff added.

He said that opinion will be presented to the next meeting of the Strategy Group.

Nasr saw 'many ways' to reach F1
(GMM) Felipe Nasr says three other F1 teams were interested in signing him before he started his road to the grid with Sauber.

Although impressive on debut in 2015, the 22-year-old Brazilian has had to continually fight the public notion that he is a 'pay driver'.

Nasr has brought the strong backing and colors of his sponsor Banco do Brasil to Sauber, but he insists he would have got to formula one anyway.

"My father or one of my relatives is not a former F1 driver," he told the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat. "I am from an ordinary family.

"I would have been able to get to F1 in many ways, but I walked the road with Steve Robertson," said Nasr.

Robertson is most well-known for nurturing and managing Kimi Raikkonen. And Nasr even said recently that Raikkonen himself actually invested in his rise to F1.

"When I first came to Europe, Red Bull, Gravity (Lotus) and Mercedes were interested in taking me into their driver development programs," he claims.

Not only that, Nasr was set to test a BMW-Sauber as a 17-year-old in 2009, after dominating in Formula BMW, but the German carmaker then pulled out of F1.

"I felt that going with Robertson was the right solution for me," said Nasr.

"But now people think I'm in F1 because I am in their opinion a pay driver, but I don't see what the difference is between me and a Red Bull (funded) driver," added Nasr.

The Mercedes parade in Canada. The only thing missing were the floats and marching bands
The boring Mercedes parade in Canada. The only thing missing were the floats and marching bands

Canada was 'Groundhog Day' for F1 – press
(GMM) Niki Lauda says he is not concerned about Mercedes' utter domination of F1.

In Monaco, a strategy blunder showed a potential weakness of the German team, and then Ferrari looked to have closed the horse power gap in Montreal with its upgraded engine.

But world champion Lewis Hamilton then cruised to pole and victory in Canada ahead of his teammate Nico Rosberg.

Boss Toto Wolff said that, after the Monaco blunder and ensuing "massive criticism", he was relieved to prove Mercedes is not run by "a bunch of idiots".

The international media, however, was anything but relieved.

"Check mate for formula one," declared Italy's Tuttosport. "The German team is too strong.

"If there are no misunderstandings or surprises, Hamilton wins."

La Stampa agreed, saying Montreal was a mere "formality" for Mercedes, while Spain's Diario AS said Hamilton reminded F1 in Canada that "the title belongs to him alone".

"It was boredom from beginning to end," said Italy's influential La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The Swiss daily Neue Zurcher Zeitung said a marmot running across the track was "one of the most exciting moments, unless you are interested in brakes and fuel-saving".

Germany's Bild added: "Formula one is just like the film Groundhog Day — the same thing repeated again and again. Mercedes wins, and wins, and wins."

F1 legend Lauda, also Mercedes' team chairman, is unapologetic.

"We are here to win every damn race. That's our job," he charged.

Boss Wolff, however, insists he remains concerned about the threat posed by Ferrari.

"We must not underestimate them," he said. "My assumption is that we did not see the best of them. We saw how strong they were in practice and so I'm sure they will be back in Austria," he added.

Hamilton the clear #1
Hamilton the clear #1

Wolff plays down Hamilton 'radio coaching'
(GMM) Toto Wolff has played down suggestions Mercedes did not treat its drivers equally during the Canadian grand prix.

During the Montreal race, leader Lewis Hamilton's engineer Peter Bonnington told the British driver that while Rosberg has no problems with fuel consumption, the German's brake situation was "critical".

But when Rosberg asked about the state of Hamilton's car, his engineer Tony Ross replied that he was not allowed to answer.

Indeed, so-called 'radio coaching' in formula one is now banned.

German commentator Christian Danner told Bild newspaper, however, that Bonnington's radio call to Hamilton gave the Briton "A clear competitive advantage".

Another German pundit, Marc Surer, agreed that Bonnington had gone into a "grey area" in terms of the radio rules.

Told that the episode might imply favoritism for Hamilton, Wolff insisted: "We have already clarified the matter internally.

"The statement from Lewis' engineer had no impact on the race. I stress once again: the drivers have absolutely equal treatment."

Wolff also said Rosberg's engineer Ross had handed the radio call "exemplarily", while it is true that Bonnington's father died just a couple of days before Canada.

Rosberg said Hamilton fully deserved the win.

"It was a challenging race because we had to manage fuel, brakes, all these things," he said, "but it was the same for Lewis. The same for both of us."

Key teams excluded from 'customer cars' meeting
(GMM) Two teams were excluded from a key meeting in Montreal, it has emerged.

Last Friday, photographers in the paddock spotted Maurizio Arrivabene (Ferrari), Ron Dennis and Eric Boullier (McLaren), Toto Wolff (Mercedes) and Christian Horner (Red Bull) meeting at McLaren-Honda for "several hours".

It emerged that the topic of conversation was customer cars — or, now, 'franchise teams', where smaller outfits buy complete cars from the big teams for EUR 50 million per season.

Mercedes' Toto Wolff said: "On behalf of and in the framework of the Strategy Group, we discussed issues related to the chassis rules for 2017.

"We must have a plan in the event that one or more teams leave the championship," he explained. "We need to understand exactly what would happen in that case."

However, two teams were not represented at the meeting: permanent strategy group member Williams, and Force India.

Red Bull's Christian Horner said: "The strategy group gave us a mandate to discuss some issues, and it was good to see that this time the teams were able to reach a consensus."

He said he supports the notion of customer cars.

"It will be an alternative if any of the teams get into trouble," said Horner, "which is a healthy solution not only for existing teams but also those who want to come into the championship."

Wolff continued: "We hope that everything stays as it is and all of the teams are able to survive, but sometimes you have to ask the question 'What if?'

"In this case, what will the rules be? Who will pay for it? Who will deliver the car? Will it be an external supplier?

"There were a lot of different ideas and opinions but on the majority of them, we were able to agree," added Wolff.

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