Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Ecclestone says Mercedes defined the engine technology to the FIA knowing it would give them an advantage

    Ecclestone says Mercedes had V6 head-start

  • Renault speeds towards Red Bull divorce
  • Now Verstappen's father slams Renault
  • Mercedes supplying same engine to Williams
  • Ecclestone to testify in Valencia corruption trial
  • Rosberg invites Vettel to Mercedes debrief
  • Button says F1 cannot 'ban' Mercedes
  • Girlfriend tips Alonso for Malaysia return

Ecclestone says Mercedes had V6 head-start
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone claims Mercedes had a head-start over its engine rivals at the start of F1's controversial turbo V6 era.

After the 2015 season opener, the F1 supremo on Monday sided with furious Renault-powered Red Bull as the former champions urged F1's governing body to intervene.

Now, Ecclestone says Mercedes got a head-start over 2014 rivals Renault and Ferrari when the new engine rules were being devised.

"They knew a bit more about the (proposed) power unit," he is quoted by Italy's Sky Sport 24, "because the Mercedes people were in close contact with the FIA in defining the concept of this engine.

"It is why they had such a strong start last year and they are keeping that advantage now," the 84-year-old Briton added.

Ecclestone said efforts to close Mercedes' huge advantage should now be made, even though he admitted that Renault, "who supported for this revolution, have failed."

Renault speeds towards Red Bull divorce
(GMM) The divorce between Red Bull and Renault seems ever closer.

Spain's El Mundo Deportivo claims that amid reports the French engine supplier is looking to buy Toro Rosso, Renault has signed up former Mercedes chief Bob Bell.

Bell, who was technical director at Renault's works team in its title-winning era ten years ago, is not an engine specialist, intensifying speculation the marque intends to once again go it alone in formula one.

El Mundo Deportivo said Renault representatives recently visited the Toro Rosso factory at Faenza, including Cyril Abiteboul as well as Bell, the 56-year-old Ulsterman.

And Britain's Times newspaper claims Red Bull has made approaches to Volkswagen-owned Audi, which would tie in with the post-Melbourne quit threats.

The developments follow current works partner Red Bull Racing's intense criticism of Renault's 2015 project.

Boss Christian Horner not only claims the power unit is 100 horse power down on Mercedes, but it is also damaging the car designed at Milton-Keynes.

"In Daniil (Kvyat)'s car we had a damaged fifth gear. Maybe it has something to do with the vibrations coming from the engine," he is quoted by Speed Week.

International media report that Red Bull and Renault figures headed straight to 'crisis meetings' after the calamity of the Australian grand prix.

"Renault must quickly come up with solutions," Horner is quoted by the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.

Renault's F1 chief Cyril Abiteboul has admitted the problems, but he also indicated the relationship with Red Bull is now deteriorating.

The German newspaper Welt quoted him as calling for "more respect" from the likes of Horner and Red Bull official Dr Helmut Marko.

"Our partnership with Red Bull simply must be more advanced than it is now," Abiteboul reportedly said.

Now Verstappen's father slams Renault
(GMM) Former F1 driver Jos Verstappen has admitted he was "really upset" after the Australian grand prix.

The Dutchman, whose 17-year-old son Max has just made his high-profile debut for Toro Rosso, is known to be a hard taskmaster.

Once, during their kart racing days, Max crashed and his father refused to speak to him — for seven days.

"I really wanted to teach him a point that it should hurt him," Jos recalls.

This time, it is Toro Rosso's struggling engine partner Renault that has incurred Verstappen snr's wrath.

In Australia, it was Verstappen's fellow rookie and teammate Carlos Sainz who scooped up the plaudits, while the sister car driven by its teenaged occupant broke down.

"I was really angry," Verstappen, 43, is quoted by the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.

"It was an anti-climax of what could have been a fairytale."

He put the blame squarely at Renault's door.

"Things are clearly not in order. Renault needs to work harder and deliver," said Verstappen.

"It is frustrating for Max. It is good that he is in formula one to gain experience, but if he was here with another brand of engine, he could really make an impression."

Felipe Massa doubts that Williams is receiving the same Mercedes power unit as the factory team.

Mercedes supplying same engine to Williams
(GMM) Mercedes has hit back at claims it is not supplying the same specification of engine to its F1 customers.

In Australia, Williams' Felipe Massa was the fastest non-works Mercedes driver in qualifying, but the gap to Lewis Hamilton's pole time was a massive 1.4 seconds.

Brazilian Massa admitted he suspects Mercedes might be supplying inferior equipment to its Grove-based customer.

"If we have the same engine the difference should be in the car," he said. "I hope we have the same engine. I believe we have the same engine, so it's the car.

"Maybe," said Massa.

That was on Saturday. After the race, Massa admitted he still has his doubts. "I cannot say 100 per cent" that the engines in the Mercedes and the Williams are the same, he is quoted as saying.

According to Mercedes' engine boss Andy Cowell, however, the works and customer engines are exactly the same.

"They all have the same engines," he is quoted by Speed Week.

"Firstly, that way the engineers are able to learn the most, and secondly, we owe that (service) to our customers.

"Third," Cowell explained, "it would be too costly from a parts point of view to go around with different engine specifications."

Ecclestone to testify in Valencia corruption trial
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has been named as a witness in the corruption trial regarding the former grand prix on the streets of Valencia.

Officials of the Spanish port city, having hosted formula one between 2008 and 2012, are facing charges of corruption, embezzlement and misappropriation.

Now, the Spanish news agency EFE reports that F1 supremo Ecclestone and thirteen other witnesses have been called by the Valencia superior court.

Ecclestone, 84, will testify "either personally or by videoconference", EFE said.

Rosberg invites Vettel to Mercedes debrief
(GMM) Nico Rosberg says his offer to Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel still stands.

After dominant Mercedes finished first and second in Melbourne, 34 seconds clear of Vettel in third place, there was an amusing exchange in the post-race press conference between the two Germans.

After Rosberg said he hopes Ferrari can catch up soon, Vettel hit back: "Be honest. Seriously? You hope you slow down?"

Rosberg insisted he was in fact serious, as it is "important for the sport and the fans" that Mercedes has some other teams to race this year.

So Vettel jokingly proposed that Mercedes should make its garage "public for Malaysia" so that "everyone can have a look".

Rosberg answered: "You can come if you want. We can invite you. Friday, Malaysia, ok?"

"Engineers' room, debrief. I'll be there," Vettel hit back.

Rosberg, however, has now told the German newspaper Bild that he is dead serious.

"Sebastian assumed I was not telling the truth when I said I would be glad if Ferrari closes the gap on us," he said.

"So I invited him to come and see what we are doing.

"I'm thinking about the big picture, as a strong Ferrari helps formula one. I have now clarified this with our team boss Toto Wolff. Sebastian may come."

Rosberg added: "So, Seb, I hope you're reading this. I hereby invite you officially to our engineer meeting on Friday in Malaysia at four o'clock.

"We look forward to seeing you!"

Lewis Hamilton

Button says F1 cannot 'ban' Mercedes
(GMM) World champion Lewis Hamilton has joined his Mercedes bosses in hitting back at Red Bull's 'wailing'.

Struggling Red Bull has called on F1 authorities to take action against Mercedes' huge dominance, arguing the engine regulations are "killing" the sport.

Briton Hamilton, the reigning world champion and Melbourne winner, grinned when told about Red Bull's stance.

"I said to Sebastian (Vettel) after the race 'You did this for four years. You were 30 seconds ahead for four years'. So I know what it feels like," he said.

Hamilton said the fact the best cars dominate formula one is nothing new.

"No one had a Marussia and won the world championship, did they?" he insisted. "Fangio still had a great car. It's the name of the game."

Even Jenson Button, who struggled in Melbourne with the woefully slow McLaren-Honda, has declined to join Red Bull in calling for Mercedes' dominance to be reined in.

"There's nothing really to ban," he said, "because it doesn't look like Mercedes are doing anything other teams aren't doing."

Button argued that while Red Bull used to "push the limits of the grey areas" during its dominance, Mercedes is simply doing "a much better job" than the others.

He indicated it is therefore unfair to criticize the German team.

"They're told they're damaging the sport. So it's a difficult situation," said Button. "It stops people from wanting to be the best.

"It obviously would be better for the sport if there were different people fighting at the front but it's not Mercedes fault," he added.

"Would Red Bull be upset about it if they were the team out front by one second? No."

Girlfriend tips Alonso for Malaysia return
(GMM) Fernando Alonso's girlfriend says the Spaniard should be fit to return in Malaysia next weekend.

After sitting out Melbourne as a result of his testing crash more than three weeks ago, the McLaren-Honda driver is reportedly travelling to Woking this week to work in the simulator.

Team boss Eric Boullier also says a trip to Paris or Geneva for FIA medical tests is on the cards for Alonso this week, as he seeks clearance to return to the cockpit for the Sepang race weekend in two weeks.

Alonso's new girlfriend Lara Alvarez, a popular Spanish television presenter, says the 33-year-old should be declared fit.

"He is in perfect condition in every way," she told Spain's ASTV. "I think he will do the next race. Fernando is fine.

"Definitely we will see him on the track very soon," Alvarez added.

She admitted, however, that it had been a tough time for those around Alonso in the wake of his Barcelona crash.

"It was a shock," said Alvarez, "but thank god I can be here smiling."

However, she did not want to comment on what Alonso's reaction was to the disastrous start to the 2015 season suffered by McLaren-Honda in Australia.

"You must ask him. I cannot answer," she insisted.

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