Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • German Toto Wolff tells Marko and Horner to go back to Jerusalem and cry in front of the Wailing Wall

    Mercedes slams Red Bull after 2015 opener

  • Peter Sauber defends Kaltenborn after Melbourne saga
  • German GP demise not Ecclestone's fault – Lauda
  • Alonso says Malaysia return on track
  • Salo surprised as Ferrari overtakes Williams
  • Massa says Mercedes is not giving them equal engines
  • Horner says Renault 100hp behind Mercedes
  • Renault admits problems 'not an easy fix'
  • Lotus 'miles ahead' compared to 2014
  • Arrivabene: 'No money, no honey'

Mercedes slams Red Bull after 2015 opener
(GMM) Mercedes chiefs have lashed back at those calling for immediate rule changes after the opening race of 2015.

Amid a diminished grid and earlier courtroom dramas for F1, the Mercedes giant's domination of 2014 then appeared only to have been extended further in Australia.

Lewis Hamilton was 1.4 seconds clear of any rival in qualifying, and then stood accused of sandbagging in Sunday's race — even though the nearest non-Mercedes rival, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, was 34 seconds behind at the checker.

"That wasn't Mercedes' real pace today," Williams engineer Rob Smedley said on Sunday. "The real pace is what we saw in qualifying."

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff denied Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were not racing one another in the grand prix, but he did admit fuel-saving was a priority.

"Nico never had the weapons to fight back against Lewis," he said, "because you have to save fuel on this track."

Former world champions Red Bull, however, were lashing out in every direction as the Melbourne sun set on the first round of the new F1 season.

Australian journalists were busily writing up stories of a 'boring' race, while Christian Horner and Helmut Marko were slamming engine partner Renault and warning that Red Bull mogul Dietrich Mateschitz might quit F1 in protest of the current rules.

"Yes," said Marko, "there is a danger that Mateschitz will lose his passion for F1.

"The technical regulations are incomprehensible, too complicated and expensive. We have let F1 be governed by engineers.

"But our designer Adrian Newey has his creativity castrated by these engine regulations. They are killing formula one!"

Wolff lost his temper.

"I think 'just get your f***ing head down, work hard and try to sort it out'," said the Austrian.

He then suggested Marko and Horner should take their 'wailing' out of the F1 paddock and to a famous wall in Jerusalem.

Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda also hit back at the post-race complaining.

"Those who continuously criticize have no idea what they are talking about," said the F1 legend.

"We are all here to bring the maximum in technological innovation, the best car, the best engine, the best drivers and try to win the grand prix," Lauda told the Austrian news agency APA.

"That is the goal in formula one. If others are here because of other things, they don't know what they're talking about," he insisted.

Lauda said there was nothing wrong with the image presented by F1 on Sunday.

"Ferrari is back on the podium, so how is that bad for formula one? Everything comes from Red Bull because they're annoyed their car doesn't work."

Peter Sauber defends Kaltenborn
Peter Sauber defends Kaltenborn

Peter Sauber defends Kaltenborn after Melbourne saga
(GMM) Team founder Peter Sauber has defended Monisha Kaltenborn after the courtroom debacle of the team's 2015 season opener.

Ultimately, Indian-born Kaltenborn was smiling as the sun set on Sunday's Melbourne paddock, as Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson scored more points in a single race than the Swiss team did in the whole of the 2014 season.

In fact, Sauber is an astonishing third overall so far this year, ahead of Williams and Red Bull.

But earlier, the now low-profile team founder Peter Sauber was moved to leave his native Switzerland and make the long trek to Australia, as the Giedo van der Garde saga threatened to pull the curtain on the team's 22-year history.

In the end, just as he was touching down in Melbourne, Kaltenborn had managed to settle the courtroom dispute with the disgruntled Dutch driver, even though the saga is likely to now roll into Malaysia.

"I can't talk about any of that," she said late on Sunday.

But at least Sauber's terminal lack of pace now seems solved, perhaps thanks mainly to the engine improvements brought by supplier Ferrari.

Kaltenborn argues: "The whole package is better, although Ferrari has made a giant leap in the engine. But we have also managed a step forward with the chassis."

Still, Sauber's troubles are not over, she acknowledged.

"I do not believe that new sponsors will suddenly come," said Kaltenborn, "but I would love to be surprised."

Indeed, potential new backers will look not only at a good result for Sauber in Australia, but also the enormous criticisms aimed at Kaltenborn's handling of the van der Garde situation.

As recently as Friday, the press was asking the 43-year-old if she will step down as boss.

But Peter Sauber says that is not going to happen.

"Without Monisha Kaltenborn," the 71-year-old Swiss told Blick newspaper on Sunday, "there would be no Sauber."

Sauber also told the Neue Zercher Zeitung newspaper: "I would not have bought the team back (from BMW) six years ago if she had not declared her willingness to participate.

"It was a joint decision," he revealed, "and for me I was very, very lucky to have her in this position.

"Many other teams in the paddock would also be very lucky to have this woman," added Sauber.

Niki Lauda
Niki Lauda

German GP demise not Ecclestone's fault – Lauda
(GMM) Germany's F1 circuits, not Bernie Ecclestone, are to blame for the demise of the German grand prix.

That is the view of formula one legend Niki Lauda, after the sport's supremo Ecclestone declared the race essentially "dead" for 2015.

It will end Germany's six-decade run on the annual F1 calendar, and deprive Mercedes – for whom Lauda is the team chairman – of its home race.

"Of course it would be a shame if there is no grand prix in Germany this year," the triple world champion told Tagesspiegel newspaper.

"But in this case you have to say 'If the host is not able to organize a race, then this is not the fault of Bernie Ecclestone'," Lauda added.

This year, the Nurburgring was scheduled to host a mid-July round of the world championship, so if the circuit succumbs to financial troubles, "No one else can be blamed for it".

Lauda continued: "It is up to the organizers to make it a whole weekend event, as Austria, Silverstone, Spa and Melbourne are able to do so well."

Alonso says Malaysia return on track
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has suggested his return to action in Malaysia in two weeks is on schedule.

As the teams packed up their equipment late on Sunday to be shipped directly to Kuala Lumpur, McLaren boss Eric Boullier was unable to confirm if star driver Alonso will also definitely be going to Sepang.

"I have said 100 times this weekend that it is the decision of the doctors," Boullier told reporters late on Sunday.

"I don't know where these tests will take place, in Paris or in Switzerland," he added, "but after that the doctors will allow him to participate in the race or not."

Certainly, however, Alonso and McLaren are planning for a Malaysian reunion, even if the team's woeful performance in Australia had some observers wondering if the 33-year-old even wants to drive the MP4-30.

His car, in substitute Kevin Magnussen's hands, broke down even before it got to the grid in Australia, but was only due to start the race dead last anyway.

Team supremo Ron Dennis, however, revealed he had been text-messaging with Alonso in Australia and the Spaniard – whilst training in Dubai – had said he "relishes" the opportunity to return to the team as soon as possible.

Spain's AS sports newspaper said Alonso will now travel from Dubai to McLaren's Woking headquarters, to work on the simulator between Tuesday and Friday.

Alonso, meanwhile, confirmed after watching the grand prix on television that his Malaysia comeback is on track.

"Congratulations to Carlos Sainz for the great weekend in Australia!" he 'tweeted'.

"And of course to Hamilton and Mercedes for the win! See you in Malaysia".

Ferrari's new chief designer James Allison deserves credit for the improvement Ferrari has made over the winter. But his car is still not as good as Italian ex-designer Aldo Costa who designed the 2014 and 2015 Mercedes
Ferrari's new chief designer James Allison deserves credit for the improvement Ferrari has made over the winter. But his car is still not as good as Italian ex-Ferrari designer Aldo Costa (Schumacher era) who designed the 2014 and 2015 Mercedes

Salo surprised as Ferrari overtakes Williams
(GMM) Ferrari on Sunday confirmed its return to better form after the struggle and turmoil of 2014.

Although the gap to ultra-dominant Mercedes was in excess of half a minute, Sebastian Vettel began his new career in red with a podium finish.

It appeared to confirm the appearance that, having struggled notably in the power department last year, Ferrari has closed the gap to Mercedes with regards to its turbo V6 engine for 2015.

Ferrari customer Sauber, for instance, finished fifth in Albert Park, despite its courtroom dramas and Red Bull boss Christian Horner's claim that the Swiss team was using "last year's wings" in Melbourne.

"The difference is the engine," the disgruntled Horner insisted.

Another sign of Ferrari's engine progress was the fact Mercedes customer Williams has apparently slipped behind the Italian giant.

"Ferrari are quicker than us," admitted the Grove team's technical boss Pat Symonds.

Former F1 driver Mika Salo said Ferrari's leapfrogging of Williams was a surprise.

"I did not expect that," he told the Finnish broadcaster MTV3 in Melbourne. "The Ferrari looks good.

"Vettel was able to beat (Felipe) Massa and Kimi's race pace was also faster than Massa," said Salo.

"They're a long way from Mercedes, though," the former Ferrari driver added.

On Sunday, however, Williams was missing the skillful services of Valtteri Bottas, who is now working with doctors to recover from a torn disc in his back.

Salo said: "It would have been nice to see what he was able to do."

He also warned that the apparent pecking order in Australia, with Ferrari ahead of Williams, should not be overly trusted.

"Australia is always a bit of a strange race while Malaysia is more of a 'normal' track," said the 48-year-old, who last raced with Toyota in 2002.

Massa says Mercedes is not giving them equal engines
Felipe Massa has suggested that Williams is not on a level playing field with Mercedes in terms of engines, which he believes is helping his former Ferrari team.

Massa finished the Australian Grand Prix in fourth place, a few seconds behind Sebastian Vettel, but reckons Williams is still playing catch up with Mercedes despite being supplied by the German manufacturer.

"We are pushing hard with the engine which I'm sure has some improvements that we can have and are pushing to have, because for sure the difference is too big," Massa said.

"I really hope that we really have the same engine, which I really don't see why we don't have.

"If we don't have the same engine – which I cannot say 100 per cent because – then we want to have it because it's not nice that we don't have it."

Massa also believes that Ferrari has made substantial progress across the winter, citing the performance of Sauber's Felipe Nasr as proof.

"Who finished fifth? Sauber," Massa went on to explain.

"From where they were last year and not having any money to put in the car… it's a team that doesn't invest so much and they just improved a lot which I think is coming from a different part.

"If you see how we finished the season and how they are now, it's a big step."

Horner says Renault 100hp down on Mercedes
Horner says Renault 100hp down on Mercedes

Horner says Renault 100hp behind Mercedes
Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner says Renault's power unit is 100 horsepower down on Mercedes after the squad endured a tricky start to the 2015 season in Australia.

Daniel Ricciardo finished a lap down in sixth position for Red Bull, while team-mate Daniil Kvyat did not start due to a gearbox issue.

Renault's problems also struck Toro Rosso, with Max Verstappen forced out of the race due to an engine problem.

"It's been a tough weekend and a very tough weekend for Renault," said Horner. "The engine is quite undriveable and you can see and hear that from the comments that the drivers are making.

"The clear evidence was at the start when Daniel got a pretty reasonable start before drivability came in and you can see the holes that are in the power delivery.

"We're probably 100bhp down on Mercedes at the moment."

Horner added that Renault could not afford to endure a problematic start to the season.

"After this weekend it's important that we regroup with Renault and try to offer support where we can because it's obviously in a bit of a mess at the moment," he explained.

"We need to understand things quickly. Across the four cars [Red Bull and Toro Rosso] we have had two engine failures, one within five laps, and a whole bunch of reliability problems. It's not the start Renault can afford to have."

Renault admits problems 'not an easy fix'
French power unit supplier Renault has admitted its problems will not be simple to rectify after it endured a troublesome start to the 2015 campaign in Australia.

Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat complained of issues all weekend, with Ricciardo finishing a lapped sixth and Kvyat unable to take to the grid after encountering a gearbox problem on his installation lap.

Renault's woes were compounded further by Max Verstappen's retirement due to a problem with the Internal Combustion Engine in his Toro Rosso.

"From the start of the weekend we've faced a number of technical issues, both at Red Bull and Toro Rosso," said Director of Operations Remi Taffin.

"Reliability has been below par, with Daniel and Max suffering ICE problems. The two are not related and we are already investigating a recovery program to make sure we do not see a repeat."

Taffin said that the largest problem facing Renault was the drivability, which restricted the performance of its drivers throughout the weekend.

"The biggest issue has been the drivability, which has made it hard for all the drivers to feel comfortable in the cars," he explained. "It affects pedal application and confidence in the corners so has cost lap time and points this weekend.

"It's related to the maps, or the way the power unit is configured, so while it's definitely not an easy fix, it does not require a complete redesign. We have got a lot of work to do before Malaysia but equally a lot of motivation to not repeat the same issues we had this weekend."

Grosjean says the Lotus is much better now that it has Mercedes power and is rid of the 'lemon' Renault engines
Grosjean says the Lotus is much better now that it has Mercedes power and is rid of the 'lemon' Renault engines

Lotus 'miles ahead' compared to 2014
Romain Grosjean says Lotus is 'miles ahead' of where it was in 2014 despite neither car making it beyond the first lap of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Grosjean suffered a loss of power on the formation lap and pulled into the garage at the end of the opening lap, while team-mate Pastor Maldonado made contact with Felipe Nasr and was pitched into the barriers at Turn 2.

"We had a loss of power on the formation lap; there was a technical issue which we are investigating," he said. "It's not how you want to end your race, but we know the car is good and we're miles ahead of where we were last season.

"We have a good baseline with the E23 and a good engine. We also have new pieces that we are bringing over for the next races, so more performance [is] coming.

"The first race is always a bit of a tricky one, you never know what might happen and, unfortunately it was bad luck for us today but it doesn't matter: I'm still very hopeful for the year."

Maldonado said he simply felt a hit from behind before hitting the barriers.

"Racing is like this," he said. "It was quite busy start, going into a narrow corner. I just felt a big hit on the back and didn't see what happened. It's disappointing because it was a great chance for us to have a great race."

Arrivabene tells Manor, no money no engines
Arrivabene tells Manor, no money no engines

Arrivabene: 'No money, no honey'
Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene has told Manor it will not wait on payments this year following the demise of Marussia.

Manor was present at the Australian Grand Prix but never made it on to the track at Melbourne as it was unable to prepare its cars to run in time. The former Marussia team only exited administration in late February, with Ferrari the main creditor following last year's financial problems.

Asked how satisfied he was with the deal agreed with Manor regarding the money owed, Arrivabene says Ferrari is dealing with Marussia and Manor as two separate companies but warned the latter it would not be allowed to fall behind on payments.

"We don’t have to mix up things," Arrivabene said. "Last year, we deal with one company, and we are still working to get back our money as everybody knows. Now we are dealing with a new company so it’s a completely different story. "We are doing our job now to support them, also because they showed to us they stick to what is agreed into the contract and they are serious on the project. Otherwise, I said to Graeme [Lowdon] in a very simple way, and he remembers, I think: 'guys, we are more than open to help you, but no money, no honey.'"

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