Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Rosberg with his wife Vivian Sibold
    Rosberg with his wife Vivian Sibold

    Doubts remain as Rosberg says Alonso saga 'strange'

  • Massa denies doubting Mercedes engine parity
  • Rosberg's pregnant wife unwell – report
  • Engine customers no fix for Honda troubles
  • Ricciardo admits Red Bull chassis not best in 2015
  • Rule stops Hamilton from wearing green helmet
  • Mercedes made fuel mistake with Rosberg in Australia

Doubts remain as Rosberg says Alonso saga 'strange'
(GMM) The FIA does not intend to release the findings of its investigation into Fernando Alonso's Barcelona test crash.

Although the Spaniard is back up and running after his one-month recovery, big questions remain about what happened on the exit of turn 3 on February 22.

Alonso muddied the already bizarre waters even further on Thursday, contradicting multiple elements of McLaren's official explanation to date.

The Woking outfit has claimed nothing went wrong with the MP4-30, but Alonso insisted his steering "locked" before he struck the wall.

The 33-year-old also denied losing consciousness in the car, either before the impact or afterwards, saying only medication administered before his hospital airlift caused him to fall asleep.

F1's governing body has investigated the circumstances of the mysterious crash, but the Telegraph reports that the FIA will "not be making its conclusions public".

Alonso's meeting with journalists on Thursday only re-fired the speculation, with the spotlight now shining brightest on the two-time world champion and his relationship with McLaren.

He insists he suffered a "clear" car problem, but the telemetry does not back that up, Alonso says because data acquisition "on that part of the car is not at the top".

"From there the problem is not visible," Alonso told F1's official website, "and probably will never be found."

Teammate Jenson Button has also pored over what he described on Thursday as "every single, tiny detail" of the telemetry from Alonso's crash.

"There is no other way to find any other information," he was quoted by Brazil's Globo in Malaysia, "and there are no problems.

"Of course, I was not in the car, so I don't know what he (Alonso) felt at the time."

Curiously, the Briton does admit that one element of all the information gathered is "strange", but "I can't say anything" about it.

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg told Germany's Bild newspaper: "My impression is that the case is still very strange."

The leading speculative stories now are that Alonso either made a mistake, or he did in fact suffer a medical issue prior to losing control of the car.

Switzerland's Blick newspaper quoted an unnamed journalist as saying after his comments on Thursday: "Alonso needs to work on his lying."

Another source told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport that Alonso may be "too proud" to simply admit he made a major mistake whilst not even on a hot lap.

And yet another unnamed source told the Times newspaper he is adamant Alonso was "out" (unconscious), despite the Spanish driver's protests to the contrary.

Whatever the case, the striking differences between Alonso and McLaren's official accounts of the crash are, as Button himself admitted, "awkward".

The Telegraph newspaper headlined Alonso's press conference on Thursday as an "attack" on the British team, with whom he fell out spectacularly back in 2007.

Michael Schmidt, a leading German journalist, said McLaren executives were obviously "surprised" by Alonso's comments, which were more like an "indictment" of the team.

1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve says it is obvious Alonso only returned to McLaren this year because he had no alternative.

"Definitely it was not wise," he told Brazil's Globo, "but the relationship between himself and Ferrari was completely broken, so it was impossible to stay.

"He had to change, and the only option was McLaren."

The crash saga will continue to run for now, but Alonso's former teammate Romain Grosjean said it is good to see the Spaniard back in top shape this weekend.

"He looks fit," said the Frenchman. "He told me that all is well, his health is good, so that's reassuring," Grosjean told RMC Sport.

Asked if he and his fellow drivers have had "doubts" amid the Alonso crash saga, however, Grosjean admitted: "There were actually some doubts.

"There have been a lot of rumors. But to see him here, fit, smiling and ready to attack, it's reassuring."

Massa denies doubting Mercedes engine parity
(GMM) Felipe Massa has denied ever saying Williams may be running inferior engines than Mercedes' works team.

"I hope we have the same engine," Brazilian Massa had said in Australia. "I believe we have the same engine, so it's the car. Maybe."

That was on Saturday, and after the Melbourne race he repeated that "I cannot say 100 per cent" that the specification of the engines at the two teams are the same.

Massa's comments moved both Mercedes' Andy Cowell, and Williams' Pat Symonds, to deny that customer Williams is supplied a different specification.

Now, Massa said in Malaysia: "What I said was not what came out (in the press). For sure many words were put in my mouth," he was quoted by Brazil's Globo.

Massa said his original comments were during a jokey exchange with works Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg.

He clarified: "The engine we have is exactly the same as the engine of (the) Mercedes (team).

"There are some things in the engine that maybe a team can work differently than the others, but many people said that (I said) the engine is different.

"It is the same engine," Massa insisted, "and I am absolutely certain. If there is a difference, we have to work on the details and we are doing that in working directly with Mercedes."

Massa also said on Thursday that while Williams had a clear engine advantage over Ferrari in 2014, that advantage has been removed over the winter.

"Last year, what we lost in a corner we won on the straight, but today it (the performance) is almost the same.

"So, as well as the engine, there is very important work on the aerodynamics, because we know that we can develop in this area," he added.

Rosberg's pregnant wife unwell – report
(GMM) Nico Rosberg's mind is on the other side of the world as he also concentrates on his job this weekend in Malaysia.

Back at his home in Monaco, where he has lived almost his entire life, the Mercedes driver's new wife Vivian is unwell.

According to Bild newspaper, she is struggling with hyperemesis gravidarum, which is a rare and extreme form of morning sickness among pregnant women.

Over in Malaysia, Rosberg is keeping his mood light with his cheeky invitation to the engineering debrief for Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.

And on Thursday, he entertained the entire F1 world by revealing his trick to keep sweat from pouring into his eyes in Malaysia is to put a women's sanitary pad on his forehead.

But the Kolner Express tabloid says Vivian is in fact quite ill. "Some days she vomits a dozen times," it revealed. "Rosberg even had to take her to hospital at one point."

Rosberg said in Malaysia: "Vivian is struggling with nausea, but the baby is healthy."

Engine customers no fix for Honda troubles
(GMM) Adding a customer or two to its roster would not speed up Honda's F1 program.

That is the claim of Yasuhisa Arai, who was asked if the fact Honda is working exclusively for McLaren this year is one reason the Japanese marque is struggling.

Indeed, Ferrari has two customers (Sauber and Manor) on the books, while Renault supplies both Red Bull-owned teams.

Pacesetter Mercedes, on the other hand, works with Williams, Lotus and Force India, effectively quadrupling the data fed back to the German marque's engineers.

But Honda's Arai insists: "I do not think having other teams would simplify our recovery.

"We work with McLaren and have enough data to develop in the right direction," he is quoted by Italy's Autosprint.

However, Arai said Honda is open to supplying its turbo V6 to a customer, although "right now we do not have any offer from another team".

Ricciardo admits Red Bull chassis not best in 2015
(GMM) Daniel Ricciardo has admitted Red Bull's engine is not its only problem in 2015.

In and after Australia, the former champion team took its long-time partner Renault to task, with Red Bull officials suggesting the only problem with the RB11 is its 'power unit'.

Renault chief Cyril Abiteboul hit back at those "lies", but efforts are now being made to calm the waters in Malaysia.

"There are some tensions," admitted lead Red Bull driver Ricciardo, "but the atmosphere in the team is still good."

The Australian said "criticism" is normal in formula one, but it should always be "constructive".

Ricciardo also appeared to back Renault's argument that the engine is not the only problem at Red Bull in 2015.

"No one compares with Mercedes," he insisted. "Neither on the engine side or the chassis side. They are in a different category.

"But I think that at least on the chassis side we are at the level of Williams and Ferrari."

After a difficult season opener in Melbourne, Ricciardo said he is expecting a better weekend in Malaysia.

"Sometimes you have to go back a step to take two steps forward," he said.

"So if we can manage to get the package as it was in Barcelona, it will look much better."

There are plenty of rumors swirling around Red Bull at present, including the likely divorce with Renault, talks with Audi, plans to make a bespoke engine and even a complete withdrawal from the sport.

1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve said it is "possible" Red Bull will actually quit.

"Of course it's possible," he told Brazil's Globo. "Will they be missed? Not really."

Villeneuve said Red Bull's argument that the rules are 'killing' F1 because of Mercedes' dominance is not fair.

"There has always been dominance in formula one," he insisted. "Last year Mercedes dominated and it was a great championship.

"Before them it was Red Bull, before that Ferrari, Williams, McLaren. Dominance is not a bad thing."

Some journalists are speculating that there is more than meets the eye to Red Bull's mischief-making.

The publications Auto Motor und Sport, Blick and Osterreich are all reporting rumors that owner Dietrich Mateschitz is looking to sell Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso and "take over from CVC as the main shareholder of formula one".

Rule stops Hamilton from wearing green helmet
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton cannot wear a special helmet this weekend in Malaysia.

To celebrate title sponsor Petronas' home race, the reigning world champion and Mercedes both revealed Hamilton brought a special green helmet to Malaysia.

"How mega is this?!" the team captioned a photo on Twitter, while Hamilton also said on the social networking site: "I had a special helmet made to celebrate Petronas and Malaysia.

"Due to the FIA's new rule, I can't wear it."

Two weeks ago in Australia, Hamilton won with his predominantly white helmet.

The FIA regulations say in 2015: "In order for drivers to be easily distinguished from one another whilst they are on the track, the crash helmet of each driver must be presented in substantially the same livery at every event during a championship season."

So in his usual white, Hamilton's preparations in Malaysia got off to a bad start on Friday when he stopped in the first practice session with an engine problem.

The team confirmed it was a failure of the "inlet system", but said it "does not affect Lewis' power unit allocation for the season.

"Crew working hard to get him back out before the end of FP2," Mercedes added.

Mercedes made fuel mistake with Rosberg in Australia
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton may not have been as dominant in Melbourne as first thought.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that a detailed investigation by Mercedes showed that it got its numbers wrong regarding Nico Rosberg's fuel strategy.

Team boss Toto Wolff had said after Australia that the German "did not have the weapons" to fight against Hamilton in the race because of fuel consumption.

But the report on Friday said Rosberg had more fuel left in the tank after the race than engineers had expected.

"Obviously," said Auto Motor und Sport, "the calculations regarding fuel were wrong."

1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve is also not writing off Rosberg after Australia.

Asked by Brazil's Globo to nominate his pick for the 2015 title, the French-Canadian said: "I'm betting on Nico. I think he is the most hungry for this season."

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