Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Lauda says Mercedes won't dominate in 2015. He should become a comedian.

    Manager warns media as Schu son makes car debut

  • Other sports 'inspire' Germans more than F1 – Wolff
  • Wolff says F1 'shark tank' alive and well
  • Renault admits Mercedes still ahead in 2015
  • Mercedes will not totally dominate 2015 – Lauda
  • Female F1 driver Jorda slams 'jealous' rivals
  • Coulthard – can Ricciardo cope with Kvyat defeat?
  • McLaren-Honda and Alonso will win together – Berger
  • Williams Announce Susie Wolff's Testing Schedule for 2015 Season

Manager warns media as Schu son makes car debut
(GMM) The low profile enjoyed until now by the great Michael Schumacher's son is over.

On Monday, recent rumors that 15-year-old 'Mick Junior' was set to step out of karts and into single seater racing were made official.

The young Schumacher will make his car debut this year in the FIA-sanctioned German Formula 4 championship, driving for the Van Amersfoort team.

The team rose to prominence recently when Max Verstappen, just two years older than Mick, rose straight from its F3 outfit into formula one with Toro Rosso.

"Without Max we would still be 'a team from the Netherlands'," team boss Frits van Amersfoort told De Telegraaf newspaper. "Suddenly now we are the team of Max."

And now, it will become known as the team that is launching the single seater career of the legendary Michael Schumacher's son.

Van Amersfoort admitted that the high-profile Verstappen graduation "certainly contributed" to the team's signing of the young Schumacher.

It remains, of course, a difficult time for the Schumacher family, as the German legend is still recovering from a serious brain injury sustained in his December 2013 skiing fall.

The family has closely guarded its privacy during the last 14 months, to the extent that the actual state of Schumacher's health is not known.

But now, 15-year-old Mick will be in the spotlight.

According to the Swiss newspaper Blick, Schumacher's manager Sabine Kehm warned: "Any (media) coverage that goes behind the purely sporting aspect will continue to be not accepted.

"Mick is not active in social media," she insisted.

Meanwhile, former Marussia driver Max Chilton has been signed by Nissan to contest the premier Le Mans LMP1 category this year.

Other sports 'inspire' Germans more than F1 – Wolff
(GMM) Formula one has taken a back seat in Germany, Toto Wolff has admitted.

Days ago, the Mercedes team boss said he would "try" to save the country's endangered grand prix, as promoters and Bernie Ecclestone reach the eleventh hour in their negotiations over a commercial contract for 2015.

"The problems are all home-made," Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda told Austria's APA news agency.

F1's controversial new rules have been blamed for a general decline in public interest, but Lauda said the all-important volume of the engines has been increased for 2015.

"It goes in the right direction," he said. "What matters now is that the race promoters do it well."

Wolff, however, has some sympathy for Germany's struggling circuits.

"In Germany," he explained, "there is a saturation; one could almost speak of a hangover."

Wolff said German fans have been de-energized by overwhelming success in the past two decades, with Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel winning a combined eleven titles.

"Now there are other sports that inspire the masses," Wolff told Der Standard newspaper.

He denied that the annual calendar spot for Germany is in danger due to Ecclestone's recent legal troubles in the country.

"That plays no role," Wolff insisted. "Ecclestone's interests are exclusively commercial.

"He must generate the revenue — that's his job."

But at times, that job appears at odds with the very tradition of grand prix racing, as races in the sport's European heart continue to decline.

"The historic tracks are important," Wolff acknowledged, "but that the rights owner wants to maximize the revenue is understandable."

Wolff says F1 'shark tank' alive and well
(GMM) F1 as a ruthless 'shark tank' is alive and well, according to Toto Wolff.

The Mercedes chief, however, undoubtedly plays the role of one of the sharks, particularly when it comes to the FIA's recent McKinsey report that showed costs for the struggling smallest teams could be effectively halved.

Wolff told Germany's Sky that F1 must remain at the very highest level.

"Formula one is not only for the fastest drivers, but also the best engineers," he said. "You are entitled to seek the highest possible technical advantage."

Indeed, since the turbo V6 era dawned last year, the German marque has utterly dominated in that sphere.

So it is no surprise that Mercedes is a strong proponent of the status quo, while other major teams are arguing equally strongly for radical change.

"It's always like that," Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"If you're ahead, your rivals try to slow you down. It happened when Red Bull dominated; when Ferrari dominated. There are these struggles even at the political level," he admitted.

Wolff, however, insists Mercedes is not just arguing for the status quo – also when it comes to the issue of cost-cutting – for purely selfish reasons.

"The cars are a lot more efficient than two years ago," he marveled, "but almost as fast.

"It's all about innovation, technological revolution and the transfer to road cars, and for that you need a (high) budget," said Wolff.

But he insisted there are limits to his appetite as a F1 'shark', for instance when some teams appeared quite happy to see Marussia's bid to return as Manor this year fail.

"We are in favor of Marussia staying," said Wolff. "But F1 is a shark tank even in the fight against the small teams. If one disappears, more is left for the others.

"This is unpleasant," he admitted. "We are talking about a team of real people feeding their families with their income. We need secure jobs, and everything else is secondary."

Renault admits Mercedes still ahead in 2015
(GMM) Remi Taffin has admitted Renault still does not possess the best engine in formula one.

One year ago, the French marque found itself in Honda-like strife as the sport's all-new turbo V6 era began.

But the FIA's system of unfreeze 'tokens' for 2015 means that Red Bull's works supplier has been able to substantially improve its power unit for the new season.

Red Bull chiefs Adrian Newey and Christian Horner, however, have admitted that Renault is unlikely to have been able to catch up with Mercedes so soon.

Now, even Renault's operations chief Remi Taffin thinks the same.

"The main difficulty," he is quoted by Russia's f1news.ru, "is the operating modes of the engine — the new power unit is more difficult to configure than last year.

"However, when it comes to power, we have made a step forward compared to 2014."

How much progress Renault has made relative to Mercedes and the obviously-improved Ferrari, however, is the real question.

"It's hard to say," Taffin admitted.

"I cannot say that the capacity of the power unit has increased by 5 or 10 per cent.

"To be honest, we are still behind in terms of performance and reliability, but Renault has won championships before without having the most powerful engine."

So he said Mercedes remains the team to beat, even in 2015.

"Do not forget," said Taffin, "that last year they finished with a second advantage over the others.

"It seems that they still are ahead of the rest, but we cannot know that for sure. I do think it's possible that, compared with last year, little has changed.

"Mercedes is ahead, then Williams, Ferrari and Red Bull. The results in Melbourne will show if I'm wrong," he added.

Mercedes will not totally dominate 2015 – Lauda
(GMM) Niki Lauda has played down suggestions Mercedes' dominance will be stronger than ever in 2015.

The German team utterly dominated the first year of the new 'power unit' era last season, winning all but three of the grands prix.

But despite the new W06 seeming unbeatable in the wake of the pre-season tests in Spain, team chairman Niki Lauda thinks rivals are ready to pounce.

"This will be a really interesting season that is not just about Mercedes," he told the Austrian news agency APA.

Lauda added: "The drivers' championship will probably not be decided solely between Lewis and Nico. A third or fourth one will be in the fight."

He said assumptions based on winter testing alone are rarely true in F1.

"I believe only the things that I will see in Melbourne," said Lauda, although he admitted that Mercedes is "well prepared" for 2015.

Last year, it was Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo who put up the biggest challenge to the might of Mercedes.

In 2015, it could be Williams' Valtteri Bottas, although the Finn insists that Mercedes' advantage seems too big for now.

"It seems that they are at least half a second above everyone else," he told the Finnish broadcaster MTV3, "which is a harsh fact at this stage of the season."

Another potential Mercedes challenger has emerged in the form of Ferrari.

"It's going well for them," Lauda admits, "while for McLaren, the opposite is true. But that can change quickly."

Female F1 driver Jorda slams 'jealous' rivals
(GMM) F1's new female signing has hit back at her harshest critics.

Although she finished last year's GP3 season just 29th overall, 26-year-old Spaniard Carmen Jorda has been signed up as a development driver by Lotus.

Some of her former on-track rivals were unimpressed with the news, suggesting it was more about her gender, appearance and marketability than her talent and results.

Rob Cregan, her GP3 teammate in 2012, said on Twitter: "Carmen Jorda couldn't develop a roll of film let alone a hybrid F1 car."

Jorda, however, dismissed the criticism.

"Formula one is full of jealousy," she told the German newspaper Bild.

"There are few cockpits, so only a few can make it. Rob is obviously jealous that I'm here and he is not.

"I wish him all the best, that's all I can say," Jorda added.

Lotus has said she will work on the simulator, attend grands prix this year and even drive the E23 car at some point.

"First I must understand how the team works," Jorda insisted. "What happens here cannot be compared with GP3."

She also said the matter of a F1 super license can wait for now, as she takes the leap into the highest category of motor racing "step by step".

Coulthard – can Ricciardo cope with Kvyat defeat?
(GMM) Former Red Bull driver David Coulthard has admitted he will be keeping a keen eye on Daniel Ricciardo this year.

In 2014, Australian Ricciardo leapt from the low-profile Toro Rosso into Red Bull's senior team, and was soon humbling the quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel against all odds.

Most insiders believe Ricciardo's surprise performances contributed at least in part to Vettel's decision to jump ship and join Ferrari.

He has been replaced for 2015 by the next impressive Toro Rosso youngster, the 20-year-old Russian Daniil Kvyat, who will now try to emulate Ricciardo's feats by humbling the Red Bull team leader.

It is that challenge that Coulthard is interested in following this season.

"It will be interesting to see how Daniel takes the pressure of being the team leader," the Scot told Australian news agency AAP.

"He would be expected to beat Daniil Kvyat, but if he gets beaten, how is he going to handle that?"

At the same time, however, Coulthard thinks Ricciardo – set to start his fifth season in F1 this year and at the age of 25 – already knows what de-facto team leadership feels like.

"He really was the team leader last year and a four-time world champion in Sebastian Vettel didn't really seem to have an answer for him," he acknowledged (though rumor has it Vettel was not getting the latest Red Bull development parts because he was leaving. We will see how Ricciardo does this year without Vettel developing the new car).

McLaren-Honda and Alonso will win together – Berger
(GMM) Gerhard Berger has played down McLaren-Honda's testing troubles, insisting the historic pairing will win championships again.

The Austrian great knows McLaren-Honda well, as he was famously paired with Ayrton Senna between 1990 and 1992.

Firstly, he tipped Fernando Alonso to bounce back from his testing crash and eventually win titles for McLaren-Honda.

"Fernando is such an experienced driver, he will deal with it (the crash) in a good way and I don't think it's going to have any effect on him," he told the BBC. "He will be ready to go racing again."

2015, however, will be a "learning year" for the reunited British-Japanese team, but Berger knows from personal experience that both sides are "extremely competent".

"I don't think it should matter if tests at the moment are not great or if the first races are not great. It's normal," said Berger. "It would be more of a surprise if Honda were competitive from day one.

"I think once he (Alonso) signed up for McLaren-Honda, he knows there is going to be a learning period. I'm sure that he is going to be part of this learning," the 55-year-old added.

"Once this is done, I'm sure he wants to take all the fruits from the learning period.

"Alonso has some extreme high talent in certain areas, not just in driving skills but in the way he runs the politics," Berger said.

Williams Announce Susie Wolff's Testing Schedule for 2015 Season
Following the appointment of Susie Wolff as the Official Test Driver for WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING, Williams is pleased to confirm Susie's testing schedule for the 2015 season.

Susie will be getting behind the wheel of the Williams Mercedes FW37 for two days' testing this season. In addition to day one of the pre-season test at the Catalunya Circuit in Barcelona, 19 February, Susie will also drive on one day of testing at the Red Bull Ring following the Austrian Grand Prix. Susie will also take part in two FP1 sessions in 2015 at the Spanish and British Grands Prix. This on track experience will be supplemented with an extensive program of work in the team's simulator to help with the ongoing development of the FW37.

This run program builds on Susie's previous experience driving the FW36 during two FP1 sessions in 2014, and her previous experience testing at the Young Drivers Test in 2013 and straight line aerodynamic tests for the team.

Speaking about her 2015 schedule Susie said; "Our focus this year is to build on the success of 2014 – I've been training hard all winter and I am physically in the best shape I've ever been, so I am ready for the season ahead. As Official Test Driver I will have additional time in the FW37 and by correlating this with my work in the simulator, the team can ensure we are getting the best from the car and check how updates are performing. All of us drivers on the Williams roster have been working closely together on this and we are ready to give everything we can to the 2015 season."

Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal and Commercial Director of Williams, added; "Last season Susie impressed with her performances during FP1 at Silverstone and Hockenheim and we were keen to give her another chance to test in 2015. She knew the FW36 well and with the FW37 being a gradual evolution, we were keen to utilize this knowledge and get her in the car to help assess and validate the approaches we have taken."

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