Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • If not for this pitstop to replace a deflated tire, would Raikkonen have been able to match Vettel's pace?

    Ferrari not missing Alonso – Trulli

  • Ferrari 'much faster' than Williams – Bottas
  • Raikkonen is on Vettel's pace – manager
  • Alonso doubts Ferrari can beat Mercedes 'regularly'
  • Sainz tips 'giant steps' for Alonso, McLaren
  • Monza set for F1 rescue talks in Monaco – Capelli
  • Red Bull ends Renault row to focus on 2015 – Marko
  • Female driver says F1 series for women 'good idea'
  • Does Nico Rosberg have the stomach or the talent for the fight in 2015?

Raikkonen and Vettel – Ferrari not missing Alonso

Ferrari not missing Alonso – Trulli
(GMM) Ferrari will not be missing its departed number 1 driver Fernando Alonso.

That is the view of the Spaniard's former Renault teammate Jarno Trulli, who today can be found running his own team in the new Formula E series.

After five years of trying to win the title, Alonso left Ferrari at the end of last season to join the struggling McLaren-Honda project.

But Italian Trulli, 40, said Ferrari will not be missing him after Alonso's replacement, Sebastian Vettel, won the Malaysian grand prix against the odds.

"Sebastian brought a freshness to the team that had been lost because it did not have the best relationship with Alonso.

"I have worked with Alonso," Trulli told the Italian newspaper Tuttosport, "and he is difficult to work with.

"Now as a manager of a team, I would prefer Vettel," he added.

Trulli admitted, however, that he would never have predicted the race victory in Malaysia for Ferrari and Vettel.

"I would not have bet a penny on it at the start of the season," said the former Toyota driver. "From here they can start to breath down Mercedes' neck.

"For Mercedes too I think it was very unexpected, but I have a feeling they will have some cards to play at the next race. The next grand prix will tell us a lot," added Trulli.

Bottas says Ferrari faster than his Williams

Ferrari 'much faster' than Williams – Bottas
(GMM) Williams' race drivers have admitted the British team has been clearly overtaken by Ferrari.

Last year, with field-leading Mercedes power, Grove based Williams ended a long slump by finishing the season as clearly the closest challenger to the dominant works Mercedes team.

But after finishing fifth in Malaysia behind both red and silver cars, Valtteri Bottas said: "We need to look at everything now, because it seems that they (Ferrari) have progressed much more than us.

"If we want to fight them, we need to keep pushing hard," the Finn is quoted by Universo. "At the moment, they are much faster."

Can Kimi keep pace with Vettel?

Raikkonen is on Vettel's pace – manager
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen's manager has defended the Finn following suggestions he is already slipping into a 'number 2' role for 2015.

After struggling alongside former teammate Fernando Alonso, 35-year-old Raikkonen has been joined in red for this year by his friend Sebastian Vettel.

But Raikkonen is already 28 points behind his German teammate, while quadruple world champion Vettel has a win to his name and is nipping at the heels of Lewis Hamilton's early title lead.

The situation moved former Ferrari team boss Cesare Fiorio this week to observe on Italian radio: "After two races, the hierarchy of the team is already established.

"If Vettel fights for the world championship, Raikkonen will only support him," said Fiorio.

Raikkonen's long-time manager Steve Robertson, however, hit back at those sorts of claims, insisting the 2007 world champion got caught up in troubles in Australia and Malaysia that had nothing to do with the Finn's pace.

"I strongly believe that Kimi and Sebastian are very close to having the same level of performance," he told the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat.

"The most important thing is that Kimi is very happy with the car. The whole package is much stronger than it was last season," said Robertson.

"Kimi was able to show that potential on Friday, which many competitors paid a lot of attention to," he added.

It's killing Alonso to know Vettel is faster in the Ferrari than he was

Alonso doubts Ferrari can beat Mercedes 'regularly'
(GMM) Even after Ferrari's breakthrough win, Fernando Alonso insists he has no regrets about swapping the Maranello team for the back of the grid.

"Looking forward!" he wrote on Twitter after Sepang, where his Ferrari replacement Sebastian Vettel sensationally won. "Very happy!"

A Reuters reporter, however, admitted he feels a "twinge of pity" for the 33-year-old Spaniard, while The Times said Malaysia had left Alonso "red-faced".

Italy's Corriere della Sera said: "Sebastian leaves the Alonso era behind and leads us back to where the Ferrari success story was interrupted."

Alonso himself, however, insists he has no regrets about having joined McLaren-Honda, as he thinks Mercedes is still clearly the dominant team in F1.

"Ferrari has progressed, yes," he is quoted by Spain's El Mundo Deportivo. "But enough to beat Mercedes regularly? I don't think so."

Indeed, many others in the paddock also expect the pecking order to resume the silver hue in Shanghai, the scene of the forthcoming Chinese grand prix in two weeks.

Pat Symonds, Williams' technical boss, thinks Ferrari's Sepang win was related to the very high temperatures last weekend.

"As soon as it warms up," he told Auto Motor und Sport, "the Mercedes has problems with its rear tires.

"It reminds me of their problems in the years 2010 to 2013," said Symonds.

Nico Rosberg admitted Mercedes has work to do after Malaysia.

"I'm flying to England this week as we need to sit down as a team and draw the right conclusions from our defeat in Malaysia," he told Bild newspaper.

"Vettel's pace was pretty scary and it was totally unexpected.

"I particularly want to know why we had so many problems with the tires," he added.

Sainz tips 'giant steps' for Alonso, McLaren
(GMM) Ferrari is not looking back, having put its 'Alonso era' swiftly behind.

After departed number 1 Fernando Alonso's 2015 replacement Sebastian Vettel won in Malaysia, the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera said: "Sebastian leaves the Alonso era behind and leads us back to where the Ferrari success story was interrupted".

Alonso, now at the back of the grid at struggling McLaren-Honda, insists he made the right choice, but a Reuters reporter admitted after Sepang that he felt a "twinge of pity" for the 33-year-old.

And The Times said Malaysia had left Alonso "red-faced".

One likely April Fool's headline on Wednesday might be that Alonso has found a hidden clause in his old Ferrari contract that allows him to now return to the red cockpit.

But would Ferrari be happy to pair Sepang winner Vettel with the feisty Alonso?

"I do not think that this possibility was ever really considered," team boss Maurizio Arrivabene told Germany's Sport Bild.

"It is also pointless to think about it, because we are absolutely happy with the driver pairing of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel," he insisted.

The situation means Alonso, his supporters and the rest of the F1 world will have to be content with the 33-year-old's new project with works Honda power.

"He and Jenson (Button) are two very experienced drivers," Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo is quoted by El Mundo Deportivo, "and I am sure they will fight for the podium."

Another man tipping McLaren-Honda to build its form is Carlos Sainz, the world rallying legend and father of Toro Rosso rookie Carlos Sainz Jr, who is close to Alonso.

"He is at the start of the process of building up a major project," Sainz told Marca sports newspaper.

"I am convinced that they will take giant steps quickly and will be trying to close the gap as soon as possible."

IndyCar would be glad to pickup Monza if Bernie drops it after 2016

Monza set for F1 rescue talks in Monaco – Capelli
(GMM) Ivan Capelli, the new chief of the Italian grand prix organizer, has vowed to save the embattled formula one race at historic Monza.

Bernie Ecclestone has blasted the current race contract as a commercial "disaster", warning that the sport will say "bye-bye" to Italy after 2016.

Not only that, local political developments are further endangering the viability of the Italian grand prix, after the withdrawal of key tax concessions.

F1 supremo Ecclestone has already dropped Germany for 2015, notwithstanding the country's uninterrupted 60-year-old run on the annual F1 calendar.

Capelli said: "The cancellation of the German grand prix shows us a glass half full, but also a glass half empty."

He is quoted by Corriere dello Sport: "Half empty because we have a Mercedes who are the world champions, we have Sebastian Vettel winning for Ferrari, and yet Germany is still gone.

"Half full because the cancellation of the German race will give us more fans who wanted to go to Germany, so I hope we can go back to filling the stands."

But Capelli acknowledged that the first task is to speak to Ecclestone and "change his mind" about Monza, as until now he "does not seem willing to listen".

Capelli, a grand prix driver in the 80s and 90s, revealed that he is travelling to the Monaco grand prix next month for a key meeting with the 84-year-old Briton.

Red Bull ends Renault row to focus on 2015 – Marko
(GMM) Red Bull and Renault have sidelined their furious row, according to Dr Helmut Marko.

After Australia, Marko and his Red Bull colleagues let loose their fury with the team's underperforming works supplier Renault.

Renault hit back at the attack, Cyril Abiteboul going so far as to accuse Adrian Newey of telling "lies".

"All of this criticism was due to emotions that were all quite understandable," Marko has now told the Austrian broadcaster Servus TV.

"In fact, perhaps the comments themselves were not even so hard, but the translation of Cyril's words from French made it sound very harsh."

Amid reports Red Bull and Renault must surely be heading for divorce, Marko says the two sides have sat down to talk about how to move forward.

"We have met," he confirmed, "and decided on how we will work during the remainder of the season.

"We do not have to love each other, but we do need an engine that works.

"Under the current regulations it is impossible to close the gap to the leaders, but in the past we got used to winning even though our engines were not the most powerful.

"At the same time," said Marko, "we can all see what Ferrari has managed to do. According to Renault engineers, we will reach this level by the end of the year and once again be able to fight at the top.

"It was decided to postpone the debate and focus on working together to get us out of this situation," he added.

Alice Powell

Female driver says F1 series for women 'good idea'
(GMM) A female racing driver has tentatively welcomed plans for an all-women's formula one series.

Bernie Ecclestone revealed in Malaysia last weekend that a separate championship just for women would spice up the sport.

"It is only a thought at the moment," he told reporters at Sepang, "but they could race before the main event, or perhaps on the Saturday so that they had their own interest."

Williams' test driver is Susie Wolff, and Lotus has just signed Carmen Jorda as a development driver, but Ecclestone observed: "For some reason, women are not coming through (to race in F1), and not because we don't want them.

"Of course we do — they would attract a lot of attention and publicity and probably a lot of sponsors."

The proposal, however, was quickly slammed by Susie Wolff, who said she would prefer to continue her quest to join the grid as "a normal competitor".

"I can hand on heart say it would not interest me at all to win such a (women's) race. I would rather not be in the race because what am I winning?

"A race where they've just looked for any girl to make a grid up?" she wondered.

With a slightly different view is Alice Powell, a 22-year-old Briton who has raced in several open-wheel series including F3 and GP3.

"I have mixed views really because I'm used to racing against males," she told Sky.

"It's one of the few sports in the world where men and women compete on the same level, and to me that's quite special," said Powell.

"But I wouldn't turn down an opportunity to drive a formula one car, so in that sense I think it's a good idea."

She concluded: "My question would be how would it be funded, because funding is already really, really hard."

It's doubtful Rosberg has the talent or the stomach to fight Vettel and Hamilton

Does Nico Rosberg have the stomach or the talent for the fight in 2015?
There was relief in many quarters when Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari won Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix, not least because so far this season there has not been much evidence that the second Mercedes driver, Nico Rosberg, is up for challenging his team mate Lewis Hamilton.

So why has Rosberg not matched Hamilton's standards in the opening rounds and does he have the stomach for the fight this year?

After qualifying behind Hamilton in Australia and following him home in the race without offering an attack, many were concerned to hear Rosberg saying that "Lewis drove like a world champion, because that's what he is."

On the one hand this is an understandable and time-honored tactic; you talk up the other guy and it makes you seem stronger by association.

To some observers, it shows the possible early signs of defeatism.

Again in Sepang we had two incidents in qualifying, which set alarm bells ringing. In the wet Q3 session, Hamilton set a scintillating pace on the first lap, over a second clear of his rivals, a lap which was good enough for pole even though others improved at the end of Q3, in less wet conditions.

When he went for a second lap, he came upon Rosberg in a fast right-hander and appeared to have the entry to the corner compromised by having to take a shallow line, as he passed his team mate who was on the left. Asked afterwards about it in the press conference, Hamilton didn't acknowledge it, even though it led to him aborting his final lap. But he did say in one TV interview for NBC Sports (USA) soon afterwards, "I know why I didn't get a second lap, but I'm not saying.."

Psychologically this was an interesting moment; Vettel ended up only 1/10th slower than Hamilton's earlier lap, so had Hamilton lost the pole due to this incident there would have been an earthquake. Because he still had the pole, he took it as a psychological triumph over Rosberg and rose above it when asked by probing media to start a polemic.

In the same session, Rosberg asked his engineer what lines "the guy who is first" was taking in the tricky conditions. Leaving aside the curious wording, this falls into the category of "driver coaching" via radio so he did not get a reply.

"Because it was an unusual condition out there which we haven't practiced, I was just interested to hear what the guy who was first did in terms of lines and I didn't know it was Lewis, so I just asked what lines was he doing," said Rosberg afterwards. "Was he doing normal dry lines or more towards wet, but that information is banned, so I got a reply ‘Can't tell you.' "

This made Rosberg look powerless, flailing around in poor track conditions, looking for answers and looking for help, while his team mate had smashed it with his first lap.

Taken together the two incidents were reminiscent of scenes from Tour de France cycling, where one adversary looks over his shoulder on a steep mountain climb and then accelerates away, his rival knowing he does not have the energy or breath to go with him. This site predicted that Hamilton would move up a level this season after clinching his second world title, as many champions before have done.

Having discussed this with several great champions, the first world title brings pure joy, relief, a feeling of having achieved a goal, but then immediately a hunger to do it again. The second brings a feeling of assurance, confirmation of status and ability. Really good drivers tend to find they can relax a bit after that second title, while staying focused and can thus be more efficient, more effective, more measured. Their self-belief has been justified.

Hamilton is in that phase of his career now and, combined with his talent, which has always been class-leading, he is a formidable competitor. Rosberg did brilliantly last year to take him on and he had him on the ropes from May to September.

This year he needs another trick and he needs it soon. Rosberg is his father's son, and he has more about him than he has shown so far and in China we expect to see the response.

There is quite a bit going on in his life outside of racing, his wife is pregnant with their first child and although one should hesitate to believe German tabloids, the reports are that she has a severe form of morning sickness. For a family man who is all about stability, that's an unsettling moment.

He also has to come to terms with the defeat of 2014 and the painful truth that he wasn't able to win the world title in a dominant car despite having more pole positions than his team mate. He has to raise his game substantially this year, but without the triggers that Hamilton has benefitted from. That's a big ask.

Rosberg surprised us all last year. Shanghai, where he took his first pole and win, is the right place for him to surprise us again and to add another twist to this championship by beating Hamilton fair and square. James Allen on F1

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