Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Barrichello still jealous Schumacher ate his lunch all those years

    German GP 'dead' as circuits pull out

  • Mercedes' rivals will 'never catch up' – Marko
  • Marko says Toro Rosso cars could turn yellow
  • Schu should only be six-time champ – Barrichello
  • Bottas 'believes he can drive' in Malaysia
  • F1 in image struggle at start of new season
  • Marc Marquez backs Honda to succeed in F1

German GP 'dead' as circuits pull out
(GMM) Germany's other F1 circuit has joined Hockenheim in pulling out of the running to host the scheduled July 19 race.

Earlier this week, Hockenheim chief Georg Seiler told Bild newspaper: "We have no more hope that formula one will take place here" in 2015.

And now the Nurburgring has followed suit, as DPA news agency quoted spokesman Pietro Nuvolini as saying: "We have reached the decision that it makes no more sense to wait any longer for timing, organizing and economic reasons".

Bernie Ecclestone told The Independent newspaper last weekend that "The German grand prix is dead at the moment".

The absence of the German grand prix, taking the calendar down to 19 races, will be the first since 1960, when the Nurburgring hosted only a F2 race.

"Mr. Ecclestone knew our offer," Nurburgring board member Michael Lemler told the Rhein Zeitung newspaper. "We had been willing to accept a reasonable loss.

"Now we look to the future."

Spokesman Nuvolini confirmed that the Nurburgring has decided to "free up the date reserved for formula one on July 19 to another organizer".

Helmut Marko "Other teams will never catch Mercedes" because the engine rules are locked down preventing others from catching up

Mercedes' rivals will 'never catch up' – Marko
(GMM) Mercedes' engine advantage is locked in for the long haul, Red Bull official Dr Helmut Marko insists.

Renault-powered Red Bull is arguing stridently for a change of regulations in formula one, after Mercedes' advantage appeared only to have grown heading into 2015.

However, the so-called engine freeze was slightly relaxed over the winter, giving manufacturers some 'tokens' to trade for performance upgrades.

"Oh, forget the tokens," Marko told Speed Week.

"The crux of this whole power unit problem is that it was decided to freeze the development. Whoever found themselves behind in preparing for this (turbo V6) concept has no chance of ever catching up," he insisted.

Marko acknowledged it is unlikely Red Bull's rivals will consent to a rule change.

"For quick changes, unanimity is required," he said, "and changes in 2017 require a majority vote. Mercedes has four teams, which is the highest number, so no majority decisions can be achieved against them."

However, not everyone in F1 is arguing for change. Ferrari has made big engine improvements over the winter, with veteran technical figure Pat Symonds estimating that the Italian marque is now essentially "on par" with Mercedes.

And McLaren boss Eric Boullier says he is confident Honda will eventually "catch up".

Marko begs to differ: "We at Red Bull do not believe that, with these restrictions in this form, any other manufacturer will ever catch up with Mercedes.

"If you do not have that engine, you have no chance at the moment.

"I can't imagine that Honda will catch up in the medium term. Ferrari's performance must also be seen relatively: they are not closer, they are just better than last year."

Some believe Red Bull is making so much noise early in 2015 not just because of the engine freeze situation and Renault's problems, but because Adrian Newey's latest creation may not be his best.

Indeed, in Australia, the sister team Toro Rosso was not far away from Red Bull's pace.

"No," Marko insists, "we simply did not drive enough to tune the car. (Daniil) Kvyat could not even race."

Marko says Toro Rosso cars could turn yellow
(GMM) Toro Rosso's cars could turn yellow, Red Bull official Dr Helmut Marko has admitted.

As he criticizes engine partner Renault for its retrograde step in 2015, Marko has also confirmed that talks with the French marque about stepping up its involvement in the sister team Toro Rosso are taking place.

"If Renault believes it must represent itself differently for marketing reasons, then they are talking about either buying a team or having two cars in yellow," the Austrian told Speed Week.

Marko said similar talks have also taken place between Renault and Sauber, Force India and Lotus.

As for the Toro Rosso talks, he said owner Red Bull is open to Renault's ideas.

"If it improves performance and facilitates cooperation, then yes," said Marko.

"If Renault is happy with such a solution, then we are happy to talk to them. It is not just about the possibility of a sale, there is also the option to just give them (Renault) two cars in yellow."

There are also rumors Red Bull could be thinking of selling its premier team to Audi, having threatened in Australia to quit F1 in protest of the engine rules.

However, insiders have pointed out that Red Bull is contractually bound to F1 through 2020.

Marko, denying there are "any talks" with Audi, insisted: "BMW and Toyota also had long-term contracts."

Schu should only be six-time champ – Barrichello
(GMM) Rubens Barrichello claims his former Ferrari teammate Michael Schumacher should actually be just a six-time world champion.

The pair were teammates at Ferrari between 2000 and 2005, during which time German Schumacher won five consecutive drivers' titles.

However, during that time team boss Jean Todt also operated a clear 'number 1' driver policy for Schumacher, including highly controversial team orders.

Brazilian Barrichello, now a driver in the country's Stock Car series, claims: "Of Schumacher's seven titles, one should be mine."

He said the most prominent example of when he had to move over for Schumacher was Austria in 2002, when he was leading the race on merit.

"I was not going to let him pass," Barrichello told Bandeirantes television, "but I received information from Ferrari that made me think.

"So I took my foot off the gas," the 42-year-old recalled.

Barrichello, whose more than 320 grand prix appearances makes him the longest-serving F1 driver of all time, has often been criticized in his native Brazil for being "slow" compared to teammates like Schumacher.

"I don't care," he insisted, "but when they speak about my family, that bothers me."

Today, he is the reigning champion of Stock Car Brasil.

"I'm doing what I like," said Barrichello, "and having the pleasure of showing Brazil that I am a good driver."

Bottas 'believes he can drive' in Malaysia
(GMM) Valtteri Bottas' manager has admitted he is not sure the Williams driver will return to action next weekend in Malaysia.

"I am well informed about it," said former double world champion Mika Hakkinen, who along with Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff is a member of Finn Bottas' management team.

Bottas had to sit out the season opener in Melbourne after tearing a disc in his back during qualifying.

He is currently recuperating in Indonesia prior to the Malaysian grand prix.

Fellow Finn Hakkinen said Bottas stressed his back under the heavy braking loads in F1, which was then worsened by the bumps on the Albert Park track.

Asked if Bottas will be driving at Sepang, he told Hermes: "No can say that at the moment.

"I have spoken with Valtteri and he is very optimistic and believes he can drive.

"He is now resting and everything that can be done is being done so that he can drive in Malaysia. If he can't, there's nothing anyone can do about it," Hakkinen added.

F1 in image struggle at start of new season
(GMM) Formula one did not present the best image of itself as the 2015 season opened in Australia.

That is the view of several experts and insiders, following Sauber's courtroom battles, cars stranded in the pits and on the track in Melbourne, and Mercedes' utter dominance amid a row over the rules.

Asked about the beginning of the new season, former F2 champion and commentator for Spanish radio Andy Soucek admitted: "I did not like it and I did not enjoy it.

"We all knew that Mercedes would dominate this year but we saw how far away Red Bull and McLaren are, and although Ferrari is better this year, not much better."

Red Bull is arguing that the situation requires a fundamental change of rules, but it is struggling to find any political allies.

"It's sad," said Force India driver Sergio Perez, "when already at the start of the season it is clear how superior Mercedes will be.

"It's not good for the fans to spend a lot of money for their tickets to see a competition.

"But this is not a new situation, we've seen it in previous years with Red Bull," added the Mexican.

Former double world champion Mika Hakkinen agrees, saying: "Sure, in the eyes of some viewers it is boring, but that's not Mercedes' fault.

"They have just managed to build a clearly faster car," he told Hermes.

Not only that, Manor did not even fire a single engine in Melbourne, McLaren and Red Bull had problems even getting to the grid, and Williams' Valtteri Bottas was hurt.

It meant a 15-car grid for Australia, "for the most professional sport in racing," Soucek told the Spanish newspaper El Confidencial.

Hakkinen agrees: "It was quite unusual, and I think in part it was because the cars cannot be adequately tested.

"The competition would also be more balanced if there was as much testing as there was in the past," he added.

There were also off-track troubles in Melbourne last week, as the disgruntled Giedo van der Garde almost brought down the Sauber team in court.

"I had a similar situation in GP2, with Fisichella's team," said Soucek. "I identified with Giedo but this is the reality of formula one today.

"Some of the teams get half the money they need to survive from the drivers," he added.

Marc Marquez backs Honda to succeed in F1
(GMM) Reigning MotoGP champion Marc Marquez has backed Honda to succeed in formula one.

Riding for the Japanese marque's official factory team Repsol-Honda, the 22-year-old Spaniard has been dominant since stepping into the top two-wheel category.

He told the sports daily Marca that he knew countryman Fernando Alonso would be joining McLaren-Honda in 2015 before the news became official, but that the former Ferrari driver told him to keep it "secret".

Now, as Alonso prepares for his first Honda-powered race in Malaysia following his Barcelona testing crash, Marquez backed the new project to succeed.

McLaren-Honda had a disastrous start to its campaign in Australia, however, as the only running silver car driven by Jenson Button was lapped twice.

Marquez said: "In the end, I trust them. Honda is Honda, and logically, a new project like that has an adjustment process."

He said he is not worried the McLaren-Honda crisis could mean Repsol-Honda boss Shuhei Nakamoto, once a leading technical figure in F1, could be recalled to the F1 paddock.

"No, I don't think so," said Marquez.

"I think F1 is a project that could even be good for us. The technology that is used in formula one, maybe someday we can be using in MotoGP."

Finally, Marquez ruled out ever switching from MotoGP to F1.

"No. Maybe I would like to experience it, but it would be only a few laps and no more," he insisted.

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