Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Mercedes says reliability must now crown 2014 champion
  • Pirelli threatens to withhold tires from Caterham
  • Schumacher's son on path to F1 glory
  • Red Bull denies making illegal radio calls
  • F1 'not what it used to be' – Lotterer
  • Mattiacci: Engine freeze lift good for F1

Mercedes says reliability must now crown 2014 champion
(GMM) Mercedes has acknowledged it needs to up its game in the reliability stakes following former championship leader Nico Rosberg's problems in Singapore.

The German went into the night race with a clear points lead and as the drivers' title favorite with six races to go, but faulty electronics left his steering wheel controls in disarray and he ultimately retired.

Sunday's problem – an electrical connection to the steering wheel – was an unusual one, team boss Toto Wolff admitted.

"A mechanic told me that we have been using the same thing since the Honda days and we've never had any problems with it," he admitted to Germany's Welt newspaper.

Teammate Lewis Hamilton has now taken a 3-point lead with five races to go including the double points finale in Abu Dhabi, but the Briton has also suffered problems in 2014 with the otherwise utterly dominant W05 car.

Before Sunday's race, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was playing down Daniel Ricciardo's chances of having even a remote shot at beating Rosberg or Hamilton.

But now he admits: "Due to their (Mercedes') shocking reliability, hopefully we can keep ourselves in the championship."

Mercedes' technical boss Paddy Lowe says it is something the Brackley based team must address.

"I've said internally from the beginning of the year, when it was clear we had the dominant car, that my biggest concern is that we will decide the championship on the basis of car breakdowns," he is quoted by the Guardian.

"I'm not going to pretend it's good enough because it isn't. It's one of the weaknesses that we have.

"We're doing a lot of work behind the scenes to turn it around but it's a long-term project."

Realistically, Mercedes is almost guaranteed wins in both the drivers' and constructors' championships this year, but the manner of the victory is also important to the German carmaker.

"The trouble at the moment is that Nico has seen his championship lead wiped out in one afternoon," said Lowe.

So if it is ultimately perceived that either Hamilton or Rosberg is the eventual points winner based mainly on reliability, "That is something that would not be satisfying at all," Toto Wolff acknowledged.

"We don't want any spin in there that the championship was decided because one car let down the driver," Mercedes' team boss added.

Pirelli threatens to withhold tires from Caterham
(GMM) Caterham could be left stranded without tires ahead of the forthcoming Japanese grand prix, according to the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.

The report said a source close to F1's official tire supplier has "unofficially confirmed" that Pirelli is warning Caterham it must urgently make a payment ahead of the Suzuka race early next month.

Backmarker Caterham almost collapsed mid-season following the withdrawal of support of founder Tony Fernandes, who sold the team suddenly to a mysterious group of Swiss-based Middle Easterners.

"I believe our team was not set up to race in Silverstone," one of the new bosses, Manfredi Ravetto, confirmed in Singapore. "This is the truth.

"Since new ownership came on board, I think we managed not only to race in Silverstone but also to arrive to Singapore. I must say it's not a very easy task," he admitted.

"The financial situation is not one of the easiest," said Ravetto. "We inherited a situation which was more than critical."

It is rumored the situation was so critical that Christijan Albers, who became Caterham's team boss after the takeover, quit once he realized that debts could not be paid.

De Telegraaf claims Pirelli "is one of the main creditors" of ailing Caterham.

"The paddock is buzzing with rumors that Caterham will not be in the paddock at the end of the season," it added.

Schumacher's son on path to F1 glory
(GMM) Michael Schumacher's son is well on the road to formula one glory.

As his famous father continued to recover from his skiing fall of last December, 15-year-old Mick Schumacher has become the vice-champion of the FIA's KF-Junior karting category.

The finals took place in France, where the younger Schumacher took part not under his usual false surname of Betsch, but as the German flag-carrying 'Mick Junior'.

"Of course I am proud of such an important result," Mick was quoted by Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport, "but it is also clear that my goal is to be world champion.

"But this is just the beginning of my career."

Meanwhile, Brazil's O Estado de S.Paulo reports that another youngster with a famous surname has become the new champion in the British Formula Renault series.

Pietro Fittipaldi, 18, is the Miami-born grandson of Brazil's double world champion Emerson Fittipaldi.

"Pietro is racing brilliantly well," Emerson Fittipaldi is quoted as saying.

"After ten wins in 13 races, he won the championship. We are immensely happy and proud."

Red Bull denies making illegal radio calls
(GMM) Red Bull has denied claims it sent illegal coded radio messages to Daniel Ricciardo during the Singapore grand prix.

After the FIA's new communications clampdown took effect last weekend, McLaren pointed the finger at its rivals for disguising driver-performance related radio calls to Ricciardo as legal technical messages.

"They said 'do this to avoid car problem'," team boss Eric Boullier said.

"Once would have been okay, but two or three times you can doubt what kind of car problem he has."

But Red Bull team boss Christian Horner insists Australian Ricciardo really was managing technical issues en route to the podium in Singapore.

"Daniel had basically an issue with the battery that was not discharging," he is quoted by the Independent.

"We spoke to Charlie (Whiting) and we told him that Daniel had reliability issues and that was why we told him to keep off the curbs because that was causing damage to the battery," Horner added.

"It's finding the balance with this radio stuff."

Interestingly, one of the strongest voices in Singapore against the FIA's decision to clamp down on radio communications was Franz Tost's.

He is the boss of Red Bull's second F1 team, Toro Rosso.

"For me it's absolutely nonsense," said the Austrian, "because in all other sports a coach gives information, instructions to a football player on the sidelines or whatever.

"The changes are absolutely not necessary and I still don't understand why because this information is also entertainment for the people in front of TV," Tost added.

F1 'not what it used to be' – Lotterer
(GMM) Le Mans stars Andre Lotterer and Mark Webber have made less than flattering comparisons between their sports car machines and the modern F1 racer.

In their musings, today's formula one does not fare well.

For instance, reigning Le Mans winner Lotterer made a one-off appearance for Caterham at Spa this year, but then reportedly turned down the chance to reprise his effort at Monza.

As a young Jaguar tester, Lotterer came close to building a full career in F1 but he admitted to NBC that although he "didn't make it, I have a very happy and beautiful career".

Lotterer, 32, said working at Le Mans with Audi is "amazing", but he also races in Japan's premier open wheeler series, Super Formula.

"Then on the other side, I have the purest and fastest race cars around the corners in the world, in Super Formula," he said.

"They're so precise, and you don't want the race to end. The cars do exactly what you want. The combination of both things, sporting wise, are really good."

He acknowledged that Super Formula cannot compete with F1 in terms of its media profile.

"For people who don't know that much about racing, many think it (F1) is the only thing.

"But in terms of racing, F1 isn't what it used to be anymore. I got to feel that when I did my race.

"There's not much grip from the tires and not much downforce in the corners. You can't go flat out. But it was still a good experience," Lotterer added.

He hinted that he did not look into extending his 2014 flirt with formula one due to the modern shape of the pinnacle of motor sport.

"F1 could be another challenge but at 33 years old, you want to go into a good challenge," said the Belgian-raised German.

"What I mean by that is that you're in a team for 2-3 years, well funded and with everything healthy. But apart from the top 3-4 teams, nobody can offer you that in F1.

"So 7-8 years ago there were more manufacturers, but now is not the right time," he explained.

Also contemplating the difference between sports cars and F1 in the past days has been Mark Webber, the 13-time grand prix winner who left the grid to join Porsche at the end of last season.

"One of the biggest differences between F1 and a prototype is the downforce," he is quoted by Spain's El Confidencial.

"The other is the tires.

"The Michelin (at Le Mans) is a real racing tire, a tire that everyone can enjoy, while the Pirelli in formula one is for show business," said Webber, 38.

Mattiacci: Engine freeze lift good for F1
Ferrari team boss Marco Mattiacci has rejected suggestions that the reason behind his calls for the engine freeze to be lifted is purely for his team's benefit.
Under current regulations, engine manufacturers are prevented from making changes to their power units during the season to boost performances with only alterations to engine mapping and software allowed.

Mattiacci, though, called on the powers that be to consider relaxing those rules as he believed "the DNA of Formula 1 is innovating and catching up with the best and fastest one".

Many believe if the rules are changed then it could be the "magic bullet" for the Ferrari and Renault-powered teams to move closer to those using Mercedes engines, but Mattiacci dismissed those claims.

"We never worked from the cynical angles and tactical angles to say let's do this softening of the rules so we can catch up with Mercedes," he is quoted as saying by ESPNF1.

"That's totally untrue and probably misleading for my people. The starting point was that in Formula One I cannot wait one year to work on the engine and the power unit. At least at Ferrari we don't believe this is a magic bullet. If someone believes it, they are not at Ferrari. It's a way to talk about innovating and keep working on the car."

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