Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

04/15/15

  • McLaren says Alonso is happy with them
    McLaren says Alonso is happy with them

    McLaren backs under-fire Alonso

  • Rosberg not planning more Hamilton talks
  • Kolles blasts FIA over F1's 'massive problem'
  • Stuck slams Ecclestone over German GP demise
  • Verstappen set for F1 demo at Zandvoort
  • Sauber pair look to build on Bahrain experience
  • Mercedes wary of Ferrari's 'big jump'
  • Vijay Mallya's former private jet to be dismantled for scrap New
  • Infiniti Red Bull Racing renews with FLIR New
  • Mercedes warns driver's orders might be invoked New

McLaren backs under-fire Alonso
(GMM) McLaren is standing firmly behind its new star driver Fernando Alonso.

Following his high-profile switch from the now-resurgent Ferrari to struggling McLaren-Honda, the Spaniard has been taking flak in recent days.

A presenter for Sky Italia, for instance, has reportedly been suspended for issuing an insulting 'tweet' that caused Alonso to ignore the broadcaster in China last weekend.

McLaren says it fully backs its driver.

"We were astonished and disappointed by Ms (Paola) Saluzzi's tweet, which we regarded as rude, inaccurate, inappropriate and gratuitous," a spokesman for the Woking based team said, "and we are pleased that it has been deleted.

"We are aware that Ms Saluzzi has apologized for it, and rightly so."

But doubts remain about the health of the McLaren-Alonso relationship, particularly after the Barcelona testing crash saga and his infamous falling out with the team in 2007.

"Alonso is happy at McLaren," team boss Eric Boullier insists to Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I don't know how many times I have to say it.

"People want to create problems between us, but there are none.

"Although he raced here seven years ago, the team and the people around him are new and while it takes time for everyone to grow together, I can tell you I am very happy with the atmosphere in the team and the way it is working.

"Things will improve gradually as the season goes on," the Frenchman promised.

His last comment is undoubtedly about the current performance of the McLaren-Honda package, and the likelihood Alonso and teammate Jenson Button will struggle on the 'power circuit' of Bahrain this weekend.

After that, though, comes Barcelona, and Boullier is quoted by Autosprint as saying that in Spain "We will have another evolution of the engine.

"We know that the power unit has ample room for improvement, but the MP4-30 will also progress," he added.

"We will have a major aerodynamic package (for Barcelona) on a track that is traditionally one of the places most indicative of whether you are doing a good job or not," said Boullier.

Rosberg, a defeated man
Rosberg, a defeated man

Rosberg not planning more Hamilton talks
(GMM) Nico Rosberg says he has no intention of speaking again about the Shanghai incident with Lewis Hamilton.

The German, having accused his Mercedes teammate of compromising his race in China, said "criticism" was exchanged in the post-race briefings in China.

"I admit," he told the major German daily Bild, "when I sat next to him in the press conference, I was pissed (off).

"In the morning we had talked about that exact scenario," added Rosberg, referring to his complaint that the leading Hamilton was not giving him enough space from the charging third-placed runner, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.

The spat rekindled memories of their tumultuous relationship of 2014, and Rosberg admitted that the pair is once again "in a difficult situation".

"Between us, sometimes it's better and sometimes it's less good. But I see no reason to talk to him about it again."

Hamilton had kept the argument fizzing this week by suggesting he is mentally stronger than Rosberg, and insisting he would never settle for second place.

Rosberg has now hit back, saying the driving behavior of Hamilton in China this weekend will be "irrelevant".

"We start from scratch again. Lewis can drive as he wants — it's up to him. It is completely irrelevant to me," he added.

Mika Hakkinen, the retired double world champion, said this week that he sees nothing unusual in the psychological battle playing out at Mercedes.

"These mind games are part of the show and always have been," the Finn told Germany's Die Welt newspaper.

But Hakkinen also backed Hamilton's driving in Shanghai, explaining that each driver concentrates only on trying to win the race for himself.

"For me it's simple," he said. "He was in the lead so the leader sets the pace."

As for whether Hamilton was deliberately driving slowly to ruin Rosberg's race, Hakkinen added: "I can only speak from my experience as a two-time champion in saying that I never did anything like that intentionally.

"But when I was leading, I was not interested in the rest of the field except to do everything I needed to do to win. It may sound selfish, but it's the truth."

Frenchman Jean Todt blamed
Frenchman Jean Todt blamed

Kolles blasts FIA over F1's 'massive problem'
(GMM) Former team boss Colin Kolles has pointed the finger squarely at F1's governing body over a "massive regulations problem" within the sport.

Kolles, formerly in charge at Force India and most recently HRT, agrees with Bernie Ecclestone that formula one needs to urgently rethink its engine rules.

The current turbo V6 'power unit' regulations are highly controversial: unpopularly quiet and complex, expensive for struggling teams, and restrictive in helping uncompetitive Renault and Honda catch dominant Mercedes.

"I think we have a massive regulations problem," Kolles told the Austrian broadcaster Servus TV.

"I was at many meetings, if not all the meetings, that were about this engine.

"The current FIA president was warned about the problems we have now," Kolles charged, referring to Jean Todt. "He just refused to listen.

"Mr. Ecclestone tried for years to stop it, but the FIA was stubborn in what is actually now a massive problem for everyone in formula one," he added.

Kolles also blasted Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff for "denying and blocking everything" as proposals did the rounds about how to react to the problem.

But his most hefty criticism is saved for Frenchman Todt, the FIA chief.

"Today's FIA president intervenes hardly at all with formula one — he has other priorities," said Kolles. "I think somebody needs to speak up."

Stuck slams Ecclestone over German GP demise
(GMM) Racing legend Hans-Joachim Stuck has slammed Bernie Ecclestone over the demise of the German grand prix.

Stuck, a former F1 driver and now chairman of the German sanctioning body DMSB, admitted to the Austrian broadcaster Servus TV he is angry with the F1 supremo for ruling out a 2015 race at either the Nurburgring or Hockenheim.

The blank weekend in July will be Germany's first F1 absence in the history of the modern world championship.

"Ecclestone got to where he is now thanks to many German manufacturers, suppliers, sponsors," said 64-year-old Stuck, "but he let the grand prix go over a matter of two, three million (euros)."

It is believed Stuck was personally involved in the talks between the Nurburgring and Ecclestone, with the German claiming that a "really good sum" was turned down as a proposed race fee by Ecclestone.

"The answer came in his typical style," said Stuck.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen

Verstappen set for F1 demo at Zandvoort
Max Verstappen and Toro Rosso will put on a Formula 1 demonstration at Zandvoort in June.

As part of the 'Italia a Zandvoort' event on Sunday June 28, Verstappen is set to complete laps in a Toro Rosso-liveried Red Bull RB8, an outing that will mark his Formula 1 car debut at a Dutch track.

"It's going to be amazing to drive a Formula 1 car around Zandvoort," he told his official website.

"Driving a Formula 1 car and putting on a good show is always fun but even more so in front of a home crowd. Italia a Zandvoort is a great event and I hope I can entertain all the fans."

Verstappen will also star at the Gamma Racing Day at the TT Circuit Assen in August.

Marcus Ericsson
Marcus Ericsson

Sauber pair look to build on Bahrain experience
Sauber pair Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr are hoping to capitalize on their experience in Bahrain to continue the squad's fine start to the 2015 season this weekend.

Ericsson tested and raced at Sakhir in Formula 1 last season with Caterham and both he and rookie team-mate Nasr – who tested for Williams at the circuit last year – competed in GP2 races at the venue during their junior careers.

Sauber is currently fourth in the Constructors' Championship, having amassed 19 points across the first three races, and its drivers are confident of extending the team's promising form.

"Bahrain is a track I know very well from previous racing series," said Ericsson.

"The track has some long straights, slow-speed corners with hard braking zones, as well as high-speed corners with fast changes of direction. Overall the circuit is technical and driving-wise not an easy one.

"Especially with the strong package and after the good result in China, we need to build on that and continue to fight for points. I feel confident we will also be able to be competitive there."

"It is a track which I am familiar with, as I have raced there often," explained team-mate Nasr.

"It can be positive for us that the circuit has a few straights due to our high top speed. In Bahrain there are three facts which are important for a good lap time: Braking stability, traction, as well as a good balance for the car in the high-speed corners in sector two.

"I also expect we need to work on good tire management, because that can be very tricky in those warm conditions. Although it is a race that starts in the evening, the surface stays quite warm."

Look out Mercedes, Ferrari is coming
Look out Mercedes, Ferrari is coming

Mercedes wary of Ferrari's 'big jump'
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says Ferrari's pace during the Chinese Grand Prix is further evidence of the progress the Italian marque has made in 2015.

Wolff's team was defeated by Ferrari in Malaysia but bounced back to register a second 1-2 of the season, with Lewis Hamilton ahead of Nico Rosberg.

But with Sebastian Vettel recording his third podium of the year and Kimi Räikkönen close behind in fourth place, Wolff says Mercedes has to remain wary of Ferrari.

"That was a great victory for the team but not an easy one; it was as challenging a race as we anticipated," said Wolff.

"At the start of the race, we had the pace to pull a little gap to the Ferraris, but they were really strong. We had to keep the Option tires alive long enough and asked the guys to drive in an intelligent way.

"We chose to stick with the Option for the second stint and had to once again look after them to make them last far enough.

"We had some good communication during that part of the race, telling each driver what they needed to do to keep the one-two finish safe, and then we switched the pit-stop order for the final stops to protect Nico against Vettel by stopping him before Lewis.

"But it's clear from today's race what a big jump Ferrari has made over the winter. They were competitive in Malaysia, very strong here in the opening stint and they will be quick in Bahrain, too."

Wolff also dismissed suggestions from Rosberg that Hamilton was trying to back him towards Vettel during the second stint of the race.

"He didn't do on purpose, we've cleared that now," said Wolff, adding that there was no animosity in the post-race debrief.

"There wasn't any intention from Lewis to slow Nico down to make him finish third or worse – 100%. He didn't know the gaps behind Nico, but what he knew was we needed to take the [Option] tire longer than we had taken it all weekend. This is why he decided to slow down in the way he did.

"After a while we realized as a team this was putting us into trouble and putting Nico into trouble and risking the second place or worse if Lewis has a DNF because we could potentially lose the race."

Vijay Mallya's former private jet to be dismantled for scrap
Vijay Mallya's private jet, which the liquor baron had to let go off in order to pay dues accumulated by his grounded carrier, Kingfisher Airlines, will soon be sold for scrap, Mid-Day reported.

The 11-seater jet, was auctioned by Mumbai International Airport Private Limited (MIAL) in early 2015 to recover some amount of airport dues from the defunct Kingfisher Airlines. Silent Enterprises, which bought the jet for Rs 22 lakh, is taking it apart in a bid to recover the amount spent it by selling various parts of the aircraft.

Kurla, Mumbai-based Silent Enterprises released a work order on April 1 to take apart the jet, but the dismantling activity began only on April 6. Workers involved in the job are putting in eight hours daily and are expected to complete it in the next four days.

"We are currently dismantling the engine of the mid-sized jet, which is the most difficult part to dismantle.

Though we have been working on the aircraft for eight days now, we will need at least four more days to complete the work. We expect to get 6.5 tons of scrap metal from the jet," the supervisor overlooking the process told Mid-Day.

Infiniti Red Bull Racing renews with FLIR
Infiniti Red Bull Racing has announced a two-year extension of its Innovation Partnership with FLIR Systems, the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial infrared camera systems, following a successful first term. FLIR will continue to work with the Team to develop and supply thermal imaging technology that will be used to gather temperature data from its 2015 challenger, the RB11.

Thermal imaging technology from FLIR has helped Infiniti Red Bull Racing gather and analyze vital heat related information during the development of the car for the 2014 season. FLIR thermal cameras give the Infiniti Red Bull Racing Team unique capabilities to collect critical data about the car’s components and operations.

Commenting on the collaboration, Team Principal Christian Horner said “FLIR technology has proven to be a vital part of our research and development activity throughout the 2014 season and I’m delighted that we’ve been able to renew the partnership. FLIR’s unrivalled capabilities in this area complement our own expertise and this is another example of Infiniti Red Bull Racing seeking expertise from a best-in-class supplier to help us improve our operation."

"As a technology company, it is a great privilege to be part of the exciting world of Formula One, says Tom Surran, COO of FLIR. “The innovation partnership has given our company the opportunity to showcase the many possibilities of thermal imaging and measurement in the demanding field of Formula One auto racing. We look forward to FLIR technology giving the Infiniti Red Bull Racing Team a key edge over its rivals."

Mercedes warns driver's orders may be invoked
Toto Wolff has warned Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg that Mercedes won't hesitate to make an "unpopular call" and "manage them more" if they feel a victory is at risk.

There tension in the Merc camp threatened to boil over again at the Chinese Grand Prix after Rosberg accused his team-mate of gamesmanship, which he believed put him at risk of being overtaken by the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.

The German felt Hamilton backed up the field unnecessary, but the defending World Champion hit back and said Rosberg wasn't really putting enough pressure on him in P1, saying "if I was in second, or third, I would have done everything. I wouldn’t have sat back two seconds to make it to the end of the stint".

Although both drivers have since calmed down, Mercedes motorsport boss Wolff has made it clear they won't "risk losing a race".

"It may be if we are risking a win against Ferrari we would make an unpopular call, not to freeze everything, but manage them more," he told Press Association Sport.

"Our number one objective, which is what we have decided with the drivers, is we have a big responsibility to the team and the brand.

"It's not just about those two guys – it's about the thousand people working on those cars.

"If it gets to the point where we have to interfere between the two of them because we risk losing a race win, then we would do that.

"We don't have the gap that we did last year where we can just let them push each other until the very end. We need to manage the gaps."

This isn't the first public spat between Hamilton and Rosberg as the duo also had a go at each other in Bahrain last year and despite threats to implement team orders after that incident, Merc also "managed" the situation.

Wolff says they are not in favor of going down the team orders route.

"We have seen in the past a clear team order that has stated 'you are not allowed to overtake' even though the driver behind may be faster, for example," he said.

"This is not something I can honestly see happening.

"I can understand why teams in the past have done it because they were under threat of losing a Championship.

"Knock on wood, we haven't been in that situation. But managing the situation more, without making such a drastic call, is a possibility now." Planet F1

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