Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Lauda prayed to the man upstairs and he answered

    Red Bull not giving Vettel old F1 car yet

  • Renault could quit amid current engine rules – Horner
  • Kvyat relaxed as he takes over Vettel's cockpit
  • Rosberg can beat Hamilton in 2015 – Hakkinen
  • Lotus loses another sponsor to Williams
  • Rossi, Chilton looking beyond Marussia demise
  • Mosley ready to 'help' F1 amid European investigation
  • Why Lauda prayed for McLaren breakdown in 2012

Red Bull not giving Vettel old F1 car yet
(GMM) Red Bull has told departed team champion Sebastian Vettel it owes the German one of his title-winning cars — but not yet.

27-year-old Vettel's long contract with the energy drink owned company ended completely last Friday, and he wasted no time in immediately heading to Fiorano to test a Ferrari single seater.

But this week, Vettel was back at his old 'home' in Milton Keynes, where at the Red Bull factory a final farewell party was thrown for the team's former four-time champion.

Pretzels were consumed under German flags, and Vettel was gifted a range of Italian-themed parting presents, like an espresso cup and a pair of red Speedos.

"One of his championship-winning cars will also be finding its way into his garage," Red Bull announced.

But team boss Christian Horner said Vettel will not be getting the Adrian Newey-penned car just yet, because "We don't want it turning up in Maranello."

Vettel did, however, admit his last blast with the company that groomed him from boyhood was emotional, particularly after speeches by Horner and Newey.

"So much passion, so much dedication," he said. "Big, big thank you to everyone.

"In the end we had the better car because we were the better team. Thank you really doesn't really describe enough what I feel."

Renault could quit amid current engine rules – Horner
(GMM) F1's current engine regulations could push manufacturers out of the sport and convince others not to press ahead with projects in the future.

That is the claim of Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, even though his proposal to modify and simplify the 2.4 liter, ERS-boosted turbo V6 rules have been denounced as "nonsense" by FIA president Jean Todt.

And Mercedes, so dominant in 2014, has warned that it might quit the sport if the rules are now changed as a knee-jerk reaction to complaints and defeats.

But Horner insists that F1 needs to think hard about the shape of the rules for 2016, given that consensus to change the rules for next season was not reached.

"If the development costs stay at where they are, we will not attract new manufacturers into the sport and we may well drive current manufacturers out of the sport," he warned.

And Spain's El Confidencial now quotes him as adding: "If things are left as they are, Renault and one or two manufacturers could be pushed out.

"We need to do what is best for the sport above what is best for an individual manufacturer," he added.

Horner's attitude has been dismissed by some as self-interest, but he insists that he is driven more by the sustainability of the sport.

"I think globally," he said, "viewing figures have fallen and, in general, interest has as well. These engines are not the best 'racing engines' we can come up with.

"We can't afford to leave it like this for 2016. We need to reduce the amount of communication (to the driver) that is required for energy management so that it is the driver once again who is driving the car."

Mercedes' Toto Wolff, however, hit back by suggesting Horner should not be making quit threats on behalf of Red Bull's supplier, Renault.

"Maybe Christian is talking more about his team than about Renault," he said.

Daniil Kvyat

Kvyat relaxed as he takes over Vettel's cockpit
(GMM) Daniil Kvyat insists he is relaxed as he steps into quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel's shoes at Red Bull.

Now just 20 years old, the Russian made the meteoric leap from GP3 champion last year into formula one for Toro Rosso, and now he is replacing the Ferrari-bound Vettel at the energy drink company's main grand prix team.

But Kvyat insists he is ready for the move.

"Helmut Marko and Christian Horner saw my work," he is quoted by Speed Week, "and they liked it.

"They had to make a choice and, apparently, they had confidence in my abilities.

"I am sure that if they had any doubts, I would have stayed at Toro Rosso in 2015 to gather more experience.

"So it's a very good feeling when people believe in you," Kvyat added.

Although, on paper, Kvyat is stepping into Vettel's cockpit, it is Daniel Ricciardo who will have nominal 'number 1' status next year after his impressive first year at Red Bull alongside the struggling Vettel.

Kvyat says he is therefore not setting any concrete targets for 2015.

"In our sport it is quite difficult to predict what will happen," he said, "so at this point it is no more than talk.

"I am confident, as far as possible, and I feel relaxed. But who knows what problems might be waiting for me.

"I want to have a calm season in which I have the opportunity to attack. I want to make as few errors as possible but at the same time I need to show the best that I am capable of.

"Let's see how things develop. I believe in myself and I intend to confirm this belief. If I fail to do so, I will not have a seat in a top team for long," he acknowledged.

Asked how he is able to feel so confident, Kvyat answered: "I have had the opportunity to compare myself with top drivers.

"Several times I fought with Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen, even if McLaren and Ferrari were not in the best shape but a fight is a fight.

"For 2015 I am not setting any specific goals, such as an amount of points or, say, six podiums, or my first victory by a certain point. I just want to show my best.

"I started my first season in F1 with Toro Rosso with this attitude and everything has turned out well so far," Kvyat added.

Red Bull's second team, Toro Rosso, is also heading into 2015 with an audacious driver lineup, featuring two rookies with famous fathers, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr.

Verstappen told Austria's Servus TV this week: "A year ago at this time I was coming out of karts and looking forward to establishing myself in Formula 3 for two or three seasons.

"Formula one was infinitely far away. And now I'm a race driver in F1 — I still can't believe it."

Spaniard Sainz, meanwhile, added: "The (Toro Rosso) decision came very late, probably only after the Abu Dhabi test, and by then I had no alternative.

"Honestly," the 20-year-old added, "I had no plan B."

Rosberg can beat Hamilton in 2015 – Hakkinen (Too funny)
(GMM) Mika Hakkinen thinks Nico Rosberg can bounce back from title defeat in 2015.

With Lewis Hamilton winning the intense teammate battle for the 2014 title, many might assume the Briton will now stamp a Schumacher-esque authority over the entire Mercedes team.

But Hakkinen, the former double world champion who was once managed by Rosberg's father Keke, is not so sure.

"Only one driver can win the championship each year," the Finn said in his latest interview for sponsor Hermes, "and this time it was Lewis.

"But in no way should anyone now discount Nico. He also drove very well throughout the season and still in Abu Dhabi was again the best in qualifying."

Many are now tipping Mercedes to maintain its technical dominance heading into 2015.

Hakkinen said: "That is difficult to answer at this time, because we have not seen the cars for next season on the track.

"But I think at least we will see the rivalry between Lewis and Nico continue for now.

"I know that Nico is highly motivated and wants to win the championship next year," he insisted. "So it will be interesting to see if the Mercedes car next year suits one of the two drivers better."

Lotus loses another sponsor to Williams
(GMM) Lotus has lost yet another sponsor to the resurgent Williams team.

Last week, it emerged that Rexona, a brand of the Anglo-Dutch multinational Unilever, will switch to the Williams livery for 2015 after featuring on struggling Lotus' car this season.

"It (the interest of sponsors) really is picking up," deputy boss Claire Williams said, after the Grove team completed its impressive climb from the bottom of the points table in 2013 to taking on Mercedes by the end of 2014.

"People want to be a part of it," she added. "We've got lots of really positive conversations going on in the pipeline."

One of those conversations was apparently with Avenade, an IT services company focused on the Microsoft platform — yet another visible Lotus sticker in 2014.

Williams said the Avanade logo will now appear on the F1 car's sidepods and team overalls in 2015 and beyond.

Rossi, Chilton looking beyond Marussia demise
(GMM) F1 test driver Alexander Rossi is looking to switch to America's premier open wheeler series Indycar for 2015.

Although Californian, the 23-year-old has risen through the European racing ranks over the past six years, including in Formula BMW, the Renault world series and finally GP2.

This year, he came tantalizingly close to his elusive F1 race debut, initially with a role at Caterham and then at Marussia where he almost replaced Max Chilton amid the British driver's sponsorship problems.

But as those backmarker teams struggle now for mere survival, says Rossi has now set his sights on Indycar.

"I've come back to the US," he announced this week, "and I'm concentrating my efforts on Indycar next year."

He revealed that almost replacing Chilton in the Marussia race seat at Spa was not his only close encounter with the grand prix grid during his F1 career.

"No, I didn't take a grand prix start," said Rossi, "but people may or may not be aware of the fact that I was called to race for Marussia five times this year and for circumstances that were out of my control – and financial reasons that were in the news – it didn't work out.

"The trust and faith the team placed in me and formula one placed in me as an American was always there, but with financial issues rendering two teams inoperable and four seats vaporizing, landing a seat has become very difficult," he added.

Rossi revealed that he has been in talks with Indycar teams "for a while".

It appears Chilton is another victim of the Marussia demise, and the 23-year-old said he is also now turning his mind to opportunities outside of F1.

"I've already started looking," Chilton told Sky, "and I've been given some offers in DTM and LMP1.

"It's great to be offered them, but obviously I'm a formula one driver and I want to make sure I get there. So that's plan A at the moment.

"Plan B, I might have to start to revert to pretty soon because obviously seats are going to go, so I don't want to kind of shoot myself in both feet," he admitted.

"It's going to be an interesting couple of weeks and hopefully we come out with the result we want," added Chilton, who said a F1 reserve role for 2015 also cannot be ruled out.

"If that reserve role would maybe give you a possibility of a race seat then I might take it, but I think at this moment in time Marussia's (survival is) my best bet."

Mosley ready to 'help' F1 amid European investigation
(GMM) Max Mosley has not ruled out returning to F1 amid the risk that the sport's commercial contracts could be torn up.

It emerged last week that, as the small teams express anger about the distribution of power and income within the sport, a British politician met with the European Commission's competition chief to discuss formula one.

Also in the spotlight is the governing FIA's controversial new 1 per cent ownership of the sport, with F1 business journalist Christian Sylt saying last week the commissioner had vowed to "look into it".

The Times newspaper now claims that a European investigation into F1 is much more advanced than previously thought.

The report said Force India, Lotus, Sauber and Marussia have all been asked to make legal submissions to the commission.

"If the EU come in," warned Todt's predecessor Mosley, "they can rip the whole thing up.

"I am flattered by the idea that I could be involved. I am out of touch, but I would do anything I could to help if all of the relevant parties agreed," he added.

Mosley, 74, was a long-serving FIA president whose confrontational management style has been contrasted with the ultra low-profile Todt's.

Under the Todt reign, F1 officials collectively failed once again to tackle the thorny question of costs and collapsing teams in the most recent high-level meetings in Geneva last week.

But it has emerged that the bosses will get together once again later this month.

"Worryingly for F1," said Times correspondent Kevin Eason, "it appears that EU officials have been building up a file for the past 18 months.

"They would be bound to put every aspect of the way the sport is run under the microscope if they move in."

Why Lauda prayed for McLaren breakdown in 2012
(GMM) Niki Lauda has recalled how one "important piece" of Mercedes' utter dominance this year was actually put in place in 2012.

And the F1 legend, now Mercedes' team chairman, credits not only McLaren but also god.

It was in late 2012 that Lauda was trying to convince the British driver Lewis Hamilton, now the 2014 world champion, to quit McLaren and join the burgeoning Mercedes team.

"McLaren wanted to keep him and had offered him a contract," Lauda told Austrian radio O3 this week. "So I asked if I could see him the next day. That was the day of the race on Sunday."

Was Hamilton's hydraulic failure at Singapore in 2012, a factor in him deciding to join Mercedes?

The triple world champion is referring to Singapore 2012, where Hamilton was driving one of the best cars in the field, and on Sunday was cruising to the win.

"Before the race," Lauda recalled, "I said that I needed to watch Lewis get off the (drivers' parade) truck and look in his eyes.

"I had sent him a text message in the morning asking if he wanted to come to us or not, but he didn't even look at me. He ignored me and walked straight past.

"I thought 'Oh dear'," Lauda admitted.

Then in the race, Hamilton was easily leading when Lauda, standing in the paddock, resorted to a plea for divine intervention.

"I said to myself 'Dear god, if you want to help me just once, then please let the McLaren break down now'.

"I thought it twice and then 'Bang!'

"I immediately bombarded Lewis with text messages. Three weeks later, we signed the contracts," Lauda beamed.

"This was one of the important pieces in the puzzle of why we were so successful this year."

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