Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Lauda says Hamilton worth every penny they pay him

    Newspaper never said McLaren lost whisky sponsor

  • Caterham, Pirelli deny 2014 tire supply reports
  • Vergne hopes 2015 employer noticed Singapore drive
  • Rossi 'never regretted' F1 snub
  • FIA should rethink 'nightmare' radio clampdown – Wolff
  • Schumacher's brother in divorce dispute – report
  • Lauda: Hamilton worth every penny
  • Marussia: We will complete season
  • Kaltenborn: New Sauber in the making

Newspaper never said McLaren lost whisky sponsor
(GMM) Johnnie Walker parent Diageo declined to step up its deal with McLaren to title sponsorship.

Days ago, we reported incorrectly that because Bernie Ecclestone had signed the whisky brand as an official F1 sponsor, it meant Johnnie Walker was leaving McLaren.

In fact, Mirror correspondent Byron Young had claimed only that McLaren had hoped Diageo, the British alcohol drink multinational, would choose to expand the team deal to finally replace departed Vodafone as title sponsor.

McLaren has also moved to clarify the situation in the past days, a source admitting that while Diageo did decline to step up to title sponsorship, Johnnie Walker will continue to be represented on the livery of next year's Honda-powered car.

The team source also pointed out that Diageo's new deal to become the 'Official Whisky' of formula one is "comparatively small" and therefore not related to Diageo's decision-making with regards to McLaren.

"At no point does Byron's story allege that McLaren has lost Diageo as a sponsor," the McLaren source clarified.

Caterham, Pirelli deny 2014 tire supply reports
(GMM) Caterham and Pirelli have denied reports the struggling Leafield based team could be left without tires at the forthcoming Japanese grand prix.

The Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf had claimed Pirelli, F1's official supplier, had warned the backmarker outfit that it urgently needed to make a payment for its 2014 tire supply before receiving service at Suzuka.

"It (the report) is just stupid," team boss Manfredi Ravetto, who recently took over from the suddenly departed new chief Christijan Albers, told Italy's Omnicorse.

"We will have tires at Suzuka as per normal," he insisted.

Pirelli also joined in the denials, with the Italian company's head of F1 communications Roberto Boccafogli saying: "Caterham will be supplied tires to the end of the season.

"There are no problems," he insisted.

Vergne hopes 2015 employer noticed Singapore drive
(GMM) Jean-Eric Vergne hopes his impressive drive in Singapore will open a rival team's garage door for him in 2015.

Dumped as a Red Bull-backed driver, the Frenchman will leave the energy drink company's second team Toro Rosso at the end of the season, to be replaced by teenager Max Verstappen.

Vergne, 24, has had a largely anonymous 2014 season alongside the impressive rookie Daniil Kvyat, but in Singapore he left all his regular rivals in the shade with a spectacular drive to sixth place.

The homepage at Faenza based Toro Rosso's website still exclaims 'Vergne Va Va Voom!"

"Wow! What can we say?" the official report reads. "Jean-Eric Vergne delivered one of the best drives of his formula one career".

According to France's Auto Hebdo, Vergne hopes Toro Rosso was not the only impressed F1 team on Sunday.

"When you have a good car, that's when you need to show what you can do, and that's what I did," he said.

"I think I showed my potential, I did everything I could. Let's see if it can change things.

"I keep my fingers crossed for a cockpit for next year with a good team. I really hope so," he added.

According to Italy's Autosprint, one planned update for the STR9 was a new nose, but it did not debut in Singapore due to problems with the FIA crash test.

Rossi 'never regretted' F1 snub
(GMM) Valentino Rossi, the MotoGP great, says he is still a big fan of formula one.

In fact, the flamboyant 35-year-old nearly switched from two to four wheels in 2006 with a series of Ferrari tests.

"There was still a lot of testing then," Rossi told Italy's Sky, "and so you were able to see your potential and if you really can race in F1.

"I went to Valencia together with Ferrari and it was beautiful," he explained, "very charming but honestly I did not have the heart to stop with the bike because I knew I still had many good years ahead and it was also very risky.

"I've never regretted it," said Rossi, "I think I made the right choice because then I won two more titles."

But he said he continues to follow formula one closely today, and currently has a close eye on a couple of promising talents.

"I always follow F1, I really like it," said Rossi.

"I like Ricciardo and Bottas, they're going very strongly, then there are greats like Alonso and Vettel, who are very good.

"Of course there is Hamilton, who often comes to see the (MotoGP) races, and also so many young drivers who are coming up," he added.

FIA should rethink 'nightmare' radio clampdown – Wolff
(GMM) Toto Wolff thinks Sunday's Singapore grand prix proved F1 needs to rethink its new clampdown on radio communications.

Ultimately, a last-minute compromise meant only driver 'coaching' was banned in Singapore and for the rest of the season.

But the governing FIA is still planning to outlaw all 'performance'-related messages from the start of 2015, including any radio call that helps the driver to manage the technical systems aboard his car.

Mercedes chief Wolff, however, said former championship leader Nico Rosberg's electronic and steering wheel problems in Singapore proves that F1 needs to think again about the planned 2015 clampdown.

A post-race controversy involving McLaren accusing Red Bull of coding illegal messages to Daniel Ricciardo in Singapore has emerged, but Wolff said Mercedes was also nearly caught out on Sunday.

"We had several moments where we discussed whether what we were saying was still within what is allowed," said the Austrian, "so I think there are some messages that will require more calibration."

But he says it is the 2015 clampdown that is really worrying him.

"If it (the clampdown) had been enforced as originally suggested, it would have been a nightmare," said Wolff.

"Can you imagine not being able to give any messages to the drivers in our situation (with Rosberg)?

"How do you want to communicate with the driver whose steering wheel is not showing him anything anymore? It's also a matter of safety," Wolff insisted.

"Maybe the Singapore race, with all of its ingredients, needs to flow into any future decisions on radio messages.

"I think Charlie (Whiting) and the FIA have realized that this needs another look and I'm sure that good will come out of it at the end," he added.

Schumacher's brother in divorce dispute – report
(GMM) Ralf Schumacher is locked in a bitter dispute with his wife Cora, as the couple head towards divorce.

The German-language magazine Closer reports that the 39-year-old younger brother of F1 legend Michael, and his wife Cora are now communicating only through lawyers.

Bild newspaper said they are fighting over former Williams and Toyota driver Ralf's EUR 100 million fortune, their homes in Germany, Austria and France, and their 13-year-old son David.

Lauda: Hamilton worth every penny
Niki Lauda says Lewis Hamilton showed why he is paid what he is after his second win in a row and his seventh of the season in the Singapore Grand Prix.

Hamilton controlled the race from pole position until a Safety Car period wiped out his advantage, with Mercedes still requiring to service Hamilton once more for fresh Prime tires.

From there, he built up a substantial advantage and he emerged after his third and final stop behind only Sebastian Vettel and on fresher tires he soon passed the Red Bull driver to take a win that put him on top of the Drivers' Championship.

"He is worth his money I can tell you that!" Mercedes Non-Executive Chairman Lauda told Sky Sports.

"He won the race because he drove a sensational race – nothing more to say. Hard, hard and tough."

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and technical chief Paddy Lowe were similarly impressed with the 2008 World Champion.

"That was really awesome," Wolff commented. "These are the Lewis Hamilton days. These are the days when you recognize how great he is and it makes the difference between the superstars and the stars."

"Lewis delivered a fantastic performance," Lowe added. "The pace was strong and our tire endurance better than that of our competitors.

"We were backed into a corner by the safety car at the mid-point of the race, when others decided to go to the end on the prime tire. But we stuck to our guns, made the right strategy call to stay out and Lewis did the rest.

"We had hoped to pull the full pit-stop gap over Vettel before Lewis made his final stop but the tires didn't quite last long enough. That left Lewis with a little work to do when he emerged from the pits, but he enjoyed a significant performance advantage on fresh tires and made a good pass into Turn Seven.

"It was a very controlled drive and a hard-earned win."

Marussia: We will complete season
Marussia will finish the 2014 Formula 1 season, Sporting Director Graeme Lowdon has insisted.

Marussia is believed to be one of a number of teams in financial strife with rumors circulating in Singapore last weekend that the squad almost failed to compete in Italy earlier this month.

Lowdon, however, has rubbished those reports: "We have an obligation to trade correctly, and if you do not reasonably believe you can do that, you have to stop. As simple as that," he told Press Association Sport.

"Is it plain sailing, navigating a company through an industry that has the cost structure of Formula 1? No. But if we did not think we could be here, then we would not be here.

"You do not want to give the wrong impression by glibly saying 'yes, we are fine' because it is always a challenge operating businesses in this environment. I can say that, yes, we have the funds for this season. If we did not, we should not be here."

Lowdon also added that while there are no guarantees the team will be on the grid in 2015, the team is doing everything possible to continue and has started work on the MR03's successor.

"Nobody can state unequivocally they will be racing next season. Not a single person in this pit lane can do that," he continued.

"Look at Honda, Toyota and BMW who all pulled out at the drop of a hat. They were companies who had finances to be in this sport, but chose not to.

"We are quite happy with the progress we are seeing. We are doing what any team could, would, should be doing at this stage. We are no different. The bottom line is: times are tough, but we are still here, still on the grid, still fighting, and at this stage we are doing everything to be on the grid in 2015."

Meanwhile, Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll has also been linked to Marussia. Earlier this month he was also said to be in the frame to invest in Sauber, but those talks appear to have fallen through.

Marussia is currently ninth in the Constructors' Championship, ahead of both Sauber and Caterham after Jules Bianchi's ninth place finish in Monaco – the team's first, and so far only, points result.

Kaltenborn: New Sauber in the making
Sauber Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn says the outfit's 2015 Formula 1 car is "in the making" and that it "has not forgotten how to make good cars".

Sauber is in the midst of its worst Formula 1 season to date and thus far the team has failed to score a single point. Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez both retired in Singapore last weekend – the fourth double DNF of the year for the squad. Despite its troubling 2014 campaign, Kaltenborn is confident next year will be different.

"It is in the making," she told the official Formula 1 website, when asked how far along the team is with next year's challenger.

"Sauber has a bit of a history with always struggling when massive rule changes came into effect, but we have always been able to bounce back in the next season.

"Just think back to the exhaust [-blown diffuser] issue: we didn't get it right in the first year, but the following season we were right there getting a couple of podiums.

"So I am confident that whatever we learn on this year's car, the mistakes, we will not make them on the new car."

"We have not forgotten how to make good cars. This year's challenger is not one of our good cars – but it's also not the worst car! We know why this all is happening," she added.

"We know where we went wrong, but we also see that the powertrain plays an important role this year – that has been proven by other powertrains throughout the grid. We do not have the most competitive one, which makes it very difficult for a team like ours when you are limited on the resources to try and compensate."

Meanwhile, she was evasive when quizzed on the team's financial position, merely stating that a "strong partner is always a good fit" and that with one Sauber "would be able to be more competitive."

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