Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • The miserable Ron Dennis tells McLaren Honda they are a bunch of lazy asses

    Honda denies engineer made 'no wins' comments

  • Mercedes on track for Hamilton announcement
  • Hill says Hamilton 'underestimated' Rosberg
  • Rivola returns to work for Ferrari
  • Sainz lost lucky grey cap in Barcelona
  • Lotus cannot compete with top teams – Lopez
  • 'Every top team' eyeing Bottas – Wolff
  • Alonso 'right' to leave Ferrari – Briatore
  • Mercedes denies F1 engines not road-relevant
  • Former boss slams 'unprofessional' Perez

Honda denies engineer made 'no wins' comments
(GMM) Honda has denied that one of its engineers admitted the Japanese manufacturer is unlikely to power McLaren to race wins either this year or in 2016.

An engineer by the name of Ryo Mukumoto was quoted by the Spanish newspaper Marca this week as answering "No" when asked if McLaren-Honda will win races in 2015.

"And next year it will also be difficult," he reportedly added.

Honda hit back at the news, saying it was "surprised" to read the quotes at "a supposedly reputable Spanish website".

"Mr. Mukomoto has not worked on our formula one project," the spokesperson told us, "nor has he done an interview with the website concerned, or with any other international media.

"The quotes that have been erroneously attributed to him are inaccurate, and we regard it as a shame that our engineer has been incorrectly exposed in this way."

The spokesman added that, as a result of the published quotes, both Honda and Mukomoto have received "angry fan mail, which is regrettable and unfair".

Meanwhile, Britain's Daily Mail newspaper claims that at a recent meeting, McLaren supremo Ron Dennis was heavily critical of team boss Eric Boullier.

"He said that Boullier had had 'a good kick in the ar*e", correspondent Jonathan McEvoy claimed, adding that other staff were also told "they were not working hard enough".

"Ron's whole tone caused some puzzlement," an unnamed team member confirmed. "We are all working our nuts off to improve the team and to hear from Ron that our efforts are not appreciated was not helpful for morale."

Mercedes on track for Hamilton announcement
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton's future remains on track.

Recently, as the long wait for an announcement about a new Mercedes deal continued to drive speculation, the world champion promised: "I will have some news for you in Monaco."

Mercedes has now invited members of the media to a "cocktail reception and announcement" on Saturday evening in Monaco.

And Daniel Johnson, the F1 correspondent for the Telegraph, reported that Hamilton's contract news "is planned for this weekend's Monaco grand prix".

"On this occasion Telegraph Sport understands Hamilton was correct and a public statement should be released over the weekend, barring a last-minute change of plan," he added.

In a newly-published interview at Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, meanwhile, Hamilton played down any lingering speculation about a switch to Ferrari.

"My relationship with Mercedes is more than a partnership," he said. "It's almost like a marriage, and then someone offers you another woman.

"You may think about it, but you don't do it.

"When I was with McLaren in 2007, it was the year of the spy scandal, and the impression I got then of Ferrari was not very positive. Of course, I love Italy and the Tifosi, because they are so enthusiastic about racing," added Hamilton.

"Although I don't drive for Ferrari, I have an incredible number of fans in Italy, and they always ask me 'When are you going to Ferrari?'

"But I've been a Mercedes man since I was 13. That's where my heart is and it's hard to imagine going somewhere else, although maybe your career is not complete until you have tried everything," he said.

Hamilton has destroyed Rosberg every race but one.
Hamilton has destroyed Rosberg every race but one.

Hill says Hamilton 'underestimated' Rosberg
(GMM) Damon Hill has warned fellow F1 champion Lewis Hamilton to keep his eye on the ball.

A year after the Mercedes driver's controversial run-in with teammate Nico Rosberg in Monaco, Hamilton has reportedly vowed to "go out first at the end of qualifying" to avoid a repeat incident, Telegraph correspondent Daniel Johnson reported.

Rosberg managed to end Hamilton's run of poles and wins recently in Barcelona, and another win this weekend will be a Monaco hat-trick for the German.

Hill, the 1996 title winner, thinks a lack of focus might have hurt Hamilton's form in Spain.

"Nico went home (after Bahrain) and said, 'right, I'm not having any more of this' and focused on the next job," the Briton and former Williams driver told Britain's Express newspaper.

"But look at the schedule Lewis indulged in between Bahrain and that race," Hill added.

Indeed, we reported recently that, between Bahrain and Spain, Hamilton clocked up thousands of miles in his private jet, skipping from Monaco to London, Mallorca to Monza, Los Angeles to New York before returning to the UK and Spain.

Hill said: "Even with someone with an abundance of talent like Lewis, to be absolutely at the sharp end you cannot afford to give anything away to someone like Nico. You should never underestimate your competitors," he insisted.

"He is on target to become one of the most successful racing drivers. It's whether you want to dedicate yourself to that task and play afterwards," he added.

Rivola returns to work for Ferrari
(GMM) Massimo Rivola has returned to work for Ferrari.

The Maranello team's sporting director missed the recent Spanish grand prix, amid speculation he had been suspended or dismissed over an internal team scandal.

"He needed a week off and we gave it to him," was all team boss Maurizio Arrivabene would say in Barcelona.

However, Rivola – who moved to Ferrari from Toro Rosso in 2009 – was also linked with a switch to McLaren or Audi.

But Leo Turrini, the well-known Ferrari insider and blogger, reports that Rivola, 43, is now back to work and will be trackside this weekend in Monaco.

"I am glad the issue is resolved," Turrini wrote on his Quotidiano blog.

"Good luck to Massimo," he added, "and a warm greeting to those with, at times, an excess of imagination."

Sainz Jr. and his lucky grey Red Bull hat
Sainz Jr. and his lucky grey Red Bull hat

Sainz lost lucky grey cap in Barcelona
(GMM) Carlos Sainz lost his lucky grey cap at the recent Spanish grand prix.

For the past two years, as the 20-year-old conquered the Formula Renault 3.5 series, impressed Red Bull with his F1 tests, and earned his move to Toro Rosso in 2015, Sainz always wore the same Red Bull-branded grey cap — now slightly tatty and with a couple of broken adjustment tabs on the rear.

"Do what you can to find my cap," El Confidencial newspaper quotes Sainz as having told his manager Borja Ortiz-Echague after the Barcelona round.

Apparently, in a moment of innocent jest, Sainz's countryman and hero Fernando Alonso threw the cap into the crowd on Barcelona race-day.

Sainz believed it was lost forever, until a fan 'tweeted' to the Toro Rosso driver: "I have your lucky cap. What will you give me for it?"

Manager Ortiz-Echague reportedly negotiated for 24 hours, as the fan wanted an all-access paddock pass — but Sainz only has one for his manager and another for a family member.

"Finally, agreement was reached," Spain's El Confidencial reports. "The fan will receive a signed cap", tickets to a forthcoming race and another piece of personalized memorabilia.

Lotus cannot compete with top teams – Lopez
(GMM) Gerard Lopez says it is unreasonable to expect Lotus to return to the top step of the podium.

A couple of years ago, when Kimi Raikkonen began to win races for Enstone, the team began to push hard to become a truly top outfit.

Instead, Lotus utterly slumped in 2014.

"If you have ambition and a slightly competitive character – and for me it is not 'slightly', it is a lot – it is hard not to go for it, but you can become your own worst enemy," Lopez told Spain's El Confidencial.

"What I would not do again, perhaps, is that when you are fourth or fifth, try to gamble in going for first place, as we did two years ago," said Lopez.

In an interview published subsequently, the Luxembourger explained that as Lotus gets back on track in 2015, the renewed goal is simply to "do well" in the "medium term".

"Right now we are the fourth or fifth best team and we have to be there," said Lopez.

"Forget about the first two," he added, presumably referring to Mercedes and Ferrari.

"Third place, as Williams did last year, was possible only because of the engine. And I say that with all due respect to Williams.

"But with 550 people you cannot compete against teams who have 850 — maybe for one year due to a regulation change, but not after," Lopez insisted.

Bottas wanted by all teams
Bottas wanted by all teams

'Every top team' eyeing Bottas – Wolff
(GMM) Every top team has its eye on Valtteri Bottas.

That is the claim of Toto Wolff, who is not only the team boss at world champions Mercedes, but also part of the Finnish driver's management team.

In the past days and weeks, the Williams driver has been linked with a potential switch to Ferrari.

Asked if the rumors are affecting the 25-year-old, Wolff said: "The answer is very simple. Valtteri has a great future ahead of him.

"If you really look at who are the next generation of the most competitive drivers, you see Valtteri, Daniel Ricciardo and perhaps Daniil Kvyat," the Austrian told the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat.

"Those guys are the first ones, and then even younger is Max Verstappen.

"It is clear that all the big teams start to look to the future, and I know that Valtteri is on the watch list as a potential candidate for all of them.

"That is the same as what the Ferrari manager Maurizio Arrivabene said," Wolff insisted. "Nothing more, nothing less.

"At the moment, Valtteri is at Williams and doing very well there. Anything else is pure speculation."

Wolff said that, at the moment, Bottas cannot think about switching to Mercedes.

"Right now we have two really good drivers in our cars already, so no one else has the opportunity to come here. But who knows what the future will bring," he said.

"But I point out again that this is just speculation, because Valtteri is with Williams. And if I was a racing driver and I couldn't drive a Mercedes or a Ferrari, I would want to drive a Williams," Wolff added.

Flavio Briatore says F1 today is a great bore
Flavio Briatore says F1 today is a great bore

Alonso 'right' to leave Ferrari – Briatore
(GMM) Flavio Briatore has backed Fernando Alonso's Ferrari exit as the "right" thing to do.

Earlier this week, veteran F1 journalist Nigel Roebuck told El Confidencial newspaper: "To see Fernando Alonso at the back of the grid is a joke.

"I can understand why it came to the point that he said 'I have to go somewhere else', but at the same time it must be so hard for him to see what could have been his car (the Ferrari) this year. Jesus!" he added.

Alonso's manager and former Renault boss Briatore, however, said he is confident the 33-year-old has made the right move.

"Alonso switched teams and Ferrari are happy to have made the big decision, right?" the flamboyant Italian reportedly smiled ironically to the Italian glossy magazine Chi.

"But they are still only second and not first, so Fernando was right, even if – honestly – I find formula one today a great bore," Briatore added.

Mercedes denies F1 engines not road-relevant
(GMM) Mercedes has hit back at claims the 'power units' featured in formula one today will never carry over to normal road cars.

Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko was the first to make the claim, telling APA news agency last week: "As they are so difficult and complex, it will be impossible to use them in road cars."

And F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who also despises the current engine formula, told the latest edition of Autosprint magazine: "A friend of mine, who I will not name but who works for a big manufacturer, told me that the technical solutions on the current F1 hybrids will never be used on road cars."

But the BBC is now quoting Mercedes engine chief Andy Cowell as insisting "exactly the same" technology will in fact be fitted to road cars in the future.

He said car manufacturers are striving to make engines smaller and more efficient, with hybrid systems or electric motors then added to tackle the inevitable 'turbo lag'.

"That's where F1 engines are road-relevant," said Cowell, who said today's F1 technology will "definitely" end up in road cars.

Ecclestone and the FIA admitted after last Thursday's Strategy Group meeting that, while rule changes are looming for 2017, the basic infrastructure of the engines will stay the same.

"Of course it is possible to use different engines that are cheaper but with the same performance," said Ecclestone, "but the manufacturers don't want to."

Sergio Perez called unprofessional, would not be in F1 if not for 'sugar daddy' Carlos Slim
Sergio Perez called unprofessional, would not be in F1 if not for 'sugar daddy' Carlos Slim

Former boss slams 'unprofessional' Perez
(GMM) One of Sergio Perez's former team chiefs has slammed the Mexican driver.

Peter Mucke is a well-known name in the formative classes of motor racing, having paved the road to F1 for stars including Sebastian Vettel, Robert Kubica and many others.

In 2006, Mucke ran Perez – now with Force India – in Formula BMW.

"Already then, Sergio showed that he has talent. That is beyond dispute," he told the German-language Spox publication.

"But his approach was totally unprofessional. I've rarely worked with a slob like him.

"His apartment in Berlin looked like a battlefield. He wrecked my rental car when he came home drunk from a party. He did everything you cannot do.

"Always in the background was his Mexican sponsor," said Mucke, referring to Perez's ongoing backing by Carlos Slim and Telmex.

"Sergio didn't need to worry that the money would end — he knew it would keep coming. That was the key.

"He never would have reached the top if not for that money. With his talent alone, he would have been out after that one year in BMW."

Mucke said the antithesis to Perez's approach was the one taken by Sebastian Vettel, who also drove for the Berlin-based junior outfit.

"Definitely. He was very different," he said, referring to the quadruple world champion and Ferrari driver.

"If the day starts at 8am, some drivers are rubbing sleep from their eyes at 8.05. But Seb was always up at 6, has jogged for half an hour and has his head in gear at your door.

"And I didn't tell him, it was all his own initiative. That makes all the difference," Mucke added.

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