Latest F1 news in brief – Sunday

  • Hamilton soon to be a lot richer
    Hamilton soon to be a lot richer

    Now Wurz plays down boycott rumours

  • Hamilton in 'final stages' of contract talks
  • Villeneuve slams Alonso for lack of Ferrari 'respect'
  • Button considered 2016 Olympic bid

Now Wurz plays down boycott rumours

(GMM) Alex Wurz has joined Australian grand prix organisers in playing down the threat of boycott.

Wild reports had suggested teams were nervous about the safety implications of Fernando Alonso's mysterious Barcelona testing crash.

Then it emerged that Grand Prix Drivers' Association president Alex Wurz had circulated a letter to the active drivers about the incident.

But Austrian Wurz has now suggested to the Mirror that rumours of a potential Melbourne boycott are wide of the mark.

"Firstly, we need to know if there are any immediate lessons we need to understand before Australia and the answer is 'no'," he insisted.

"In the short term there is no need for knee jerk reaction to make changes for Australia. F1 safety standards are very high.

"The rest is down to waiting until all facts are there, then we can come to conclusions," Wurz added.

In his letter to the active drivers, the former Williams driver hinted that the real question is not about safety standards, but the details of Alonso's medical situation.

Speculation is now rampant that the 33-year-old blacked out at the wheel of his McLaren-Honda before veering into the wall.

"Understanding is one thing, drawing conclusions is another," Wurz told the British newspaper. "I have asked the drivers to be patient.

"We need to be patient and let them get the job done. Experts are looking very carefully at the data. We understand all safety precautions worked according to the rules," he added.

Hamilton in 'final stages' of contract talks

(GMM) As he touched down in Australia to begin his title defence, Lewis Hamilton admitted he is close to agreeing a deal to stay at Mercedes beyond 2015.

It is bad news for his rivals, as the Briton apparently hit back at rumours that while his new Mercedes is fast, it may be difficult to set up and drive.

But Hamilton told British newspapers that his pre-season has actually been "pretty awesome. Throughout, it's felt really good".

Also good, he says, are negotiations he has conducted without the assistance of a personal manager over a new contract for 2016 and beyond.

He said reports he is demanding a staggering $1.5 million per week are "rubbish", but hinted that his new deal might make him clearly the best paid driver in F1.

"It's not about status and being the best paid because you're world champion," said the 30-year-old. "It's just a natural thing.

"It's gradual progressions along with the team. As the team progress, I want to as well. My target, like every driver is to work towards being the best," Hamilton added.

The talks have, however, been protracted and repeatedly delayed, but Hamilton suggests the end may now be near.

"Hopefully we're in the final stages," he said. "I don't really know what the timeline is but we're very much in the last stages of it."

Villeneuve slams Alonso for lack of Ferrari 'respect'

(GMM) Jacques Villeneuve has sided firmly with Ferrari after F1's highest profile driver move.

Over the winter, Fernando Alonso left the Maranello team and joined McLaren-Honda, who have struggled simply to run the new MP4-30 car.

And the Spaniard is now recovering from his mysterious Barcelona testing crash.

Villeneuve, the 1997 world champion, says Alonso's relationship with Ferrari soured because the Spaniard was not loyal enough to the fabled team.

"The Italians loved Alonso," he told Sport Bild, "but that love died very fast because he did not stand up for the team.

"Just because you make $30 million a year, does not mean you give up the responsibility to love your team. Where was the respect?

"I never criticised my team," former Williams and Honda driver Villeneuve claimed, "no matter how bad the car was.

"I call it the 'God complex', but just when you think you're on top of things, Vettel announced he was leaving Red Bull and the ground suddenly collapsed beneath Alonso's feet," he said.

"He was thinking more about Twitter and being a politician than team spirit."

Villeneuve said Alonso's behaviour contrasts sharply with his Ferrari successor, Sebastian Vettel.

"Last year Sebastian did not even properly criticise Red Bull, even though he should have done," said the always-outspoken French Canadian.

"His attitude is reminiscent of Michael Schumacher — concentrate on driving and respect for your team. Make no problems if there are none."

However, Villeneuve said Vettel cannot now be expected to emulate the dominance of the great Schumacher, as the basic philosophy of Ferrari has changed.

"The Jean Todt days are over," he said. "The full concentration on one driver is in the past.

"Of course he can be competitive, but not as dominate as Michael," Villeneuve added.

Button considered 2016 Olympic bid

(GMM) Jenson Button has admitted he thought about quitting formula one to launch a quest for the Olympics.

As his F1 seat hung in the balance at McLaren last year, the Briton said at the time he took the opportunity to assess if he even wanted to extend his 15-year run into the 2016 season.

Among his rumoured options was to quit the sport altogether in order to turn his hobby of amateur triathlon into a full-time professional vocation.

"I did think about Rio and then decided 'no'," the 35-year-old said, referring to the 2016 summer Olympics in Brazil.

"First of all I am way too old," he said, comparing himself with Britain's top triathletes Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee, who are in their mid-20s.

"So it's definitely not for me. I'm a pretty good amateur athlete but anyone at the top of their game as a professional is at a completely different level to that," Button added.

Already in Melbourne for the 2015 season opener, the 2009 world champion is currently training for April's London marathon.

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