Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Susie Wolff up close and personal with Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton. She is happy with Williams role

    Susie Wolff not disappointed with Williams role

  • Only 'subtle details' troubling Vettel in 2014 – Webber
  • Kobayashi keeps Caterham seat for Singapore
  • Drivers welcome FIA radio clampdown
  • Sainz 'very upset' with Verstappen signing
  • Smoke haze over Singapore for GP
  • Marchionne attitude 'positive' for Ferrari – Surer
  • Lotus F1 Team Announces Losses Of $9.8M From First Half Of '14
  • Ferrari switch focus to 2015 car
  • Ferrari Singapore GP preview – Into the night
  • Dry race guaranteed for Singapore

Susie Wolff not disappointed with Williams role
(GMM) Susie Wolff insists she is not disappointed she did not get promoted by Williams for the 2015 season.

Along with fellow F1 tester Simona de Silvestro, who works for Sauber, the 31-year-old Scot is the closest female driver to the F1 race grid.

Married to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, she travels the grand prix calendar with Williams, and this year made her official weekend debut with a couple of Friday morning appearances.

The Grove based team, however, has re-signed its race lineup of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa for 2015.

Asked if she was hoping to secure one of those seats, Wolff told Germany's Sport1: "No, not at all.

"I am very ambitious, but also realistic. Felipe and Valtteri have done a great job this year and it was clear that they would stay."

Former DTM driver Wolff, however, admitted that it remains her "goal" to race in F1 one day.

But she said she is happy with her Williams role for now.

"There are so many good drivers who are fighting for a chance in formula one, so I need to defend the place I have," said Wolff.

"If I wanted to fight for a single race, I might have to go somewhere else, but I don't because I'm very proud to be a part of Williams. And I want to stay with this team.

"I have been in the paddock for a while now and I know where there are opportunities and where there are not. And I don't see a better opportunity for me.

"Williams has made a big step forward this year and our goal is to be back fighting for the world championship soon. If I can be a part of that success, I would be very happy," Wolff added.

Meanwhile, as her husband Toto Wolff grapples to manage Mercedes' intra-team title duel, Susie tipped the war to rage on right until the last meters in 2014.

And she declined to say whether she thinks Nico Rosberg or Lewis Hamilton is the favorite.

"It's very hard to say," said Wolff. "Both are very different in their character and personality, but both have done a great job so far.

"I believe that it won't be decided until the last race."

Only 'subtle details' troubling Vettel in 2014 – Webber
(GMM) Mark Webber thinks "small, subtle details" are all that is holding back his former F1 colleagues Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen in 2014.

Both champions have struggled this year as F1 took the step into the radical turbo V6 era, with Webber's former teammate Vettel notably failing to match the impressive pace of his Red Bull successor Daniel Ricciardo.

Australian Webber, who stepped out of F1 at the end of last year and now races a prototype Porsche at Le Mans, joked that it is as though Vettel inherited his old car for the new era.

"Don't you think so?" he smiled to Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper. "It does seem as though all the difficulties happen in that one car."

Webber and Vettel shared a tetchy relationship at Red Bull, but he declines to jump on the bandwagon of those who say 2014 has simply revealed the German's true colors.

Asked why he thinks Vettel is struggling, Webber answered: "It's impossible to say for sure, but almost certainly it is small, subtle details between the car and the driver.

"It is clear that Seb and Kimi have not got the feeling they need, while Daniel seems to be very comfortable with these new cars.

"At this level, the way F1 is, that's all about how a driver gets those last 2-3 crucial tenths out of the car.

"I think Seb and Kimi have two problems: a lack of feeling for the car and then not getting the setup they need. It's not easy and then you start to dig the hole deeper and deeper for yourself," said the 38-year-old.

Webber said he also thinks Raikkonen's vast experience in formula one has actually contributed to his struggle in 2014 with the radically different, turbo V6 'power units'.

"When you've been driving at F1 level for 10, 12 years, it means you've driven V10, V8 and now V6. An experienced driver can almost have too much information and too much sense of what the cars used to be.

"Sometimes less experience is better when the rules change, and that does seem to be the case especially this season," he added.

"In fact, I feel that I left just at the right time," Webber smiled.

Kobayashi keeps Caterham seat for Singapore
(GMM) Kamui Kobayashi will stay at the wheel of his green Caterham for this weekend's Singapore grand prix.

After Andre Lotterer took his place at Spa as the team's new management seeks sponsored drivers, media reports had suggested Roberto Merhi, Andrea Caldarelli and Roman Rusinov were now next in line for Kobayashi's cockpit.

But Caterham has announced that Kobayashi will be wearing his usual number 10 under the Asian city-state's popular floodlights this weekend.

And the following race on the 2014 calendar is in Kobayashi's native Japan, where in 2012 he scored a highly-popular podium for Sauber.

"After finishing ahead of our closest rivals in Italy, I look forward to another good fight out on track in Singapore," he was quoted as saying in a pre-race team preview.

Drivers welcome FIA radio clampdown
(GMM) Mercedes' title-warring teammates are the first F1 drivers to welcome the FIA's banning of "performance"-related radio communications.

At a sponsor event in downtown Singapore, championship leader Rosberg said the clampdown was a major talking point ahead of its debut at the popular street race.

"All the fans were cheering so it looks like the right way to go," the German told Britain's Sky.

"In my opinion it's definitely a good thing, because it's just more pure racing.

"Until now we did so much based on what they (engineers) told us to do on the radio. Now it's up to us," said Rosberg.

He tipped the strict new radio rules to make the challenge as drivers "totally different because we are just on our own and need to figure out our own way.

"I think it could make it a lot more interesting," added Rosberg. "It's going from 100 per cent communication to about 20pc, so it's a massive change."

Rosberg, with a 22-point advantage over teammate Lewis Hamilton, said he practiced driving the W05 without radio communications in Mercedes' simulator this week, and had to "remember a lot more" details about the functionality of the car.

"But everything is good," he said. "It's the right way."

Hamilton also welcomed the change, but he expressed some concerns about the steep learning curve for the drivers.

"I quite like the idea," he said.

"In some ways it makes it harder, like engine strategy — how are we to know what strategy to use?"

Hamilton also said the clampdown could affect the intense title battle between himself and Rosberg.

"It's going to be really important that we're on the same strategy always," he said.

"There's been a couple of times when Nico has been on a different strategy to me that gives either more or less power and those things disadvantage you," he explained.

"So as long as you don't have any problems there, the rest of it we'll manage."

In fact, Hamilton said that because the clampdown means F1 will now resemble the "old school days" of racing, he hopes to gain an advantage over his rivals.

"I hope it's a plus for me," he said.

"I remember way back in karts, we didn't have any data, so nobody could ever see where I was quick, anything I did, any trick I had. So maybe it's a bit of a step back in that direction.

"I quite like that we're left to do it ourselves," Hamilton added.

Elsewhere in Singapore, Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo played down the clampdown with a joke, laughing that without engineers in their ears, F1 drivers will "all take a wrong turn and end up in the wall".

But Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said the Australian should not be laughing too hard.

Most teams are using the big, sophisticated McLaren-supplied digital steering wheel display in 2014, providing plenty of data for the drivers.

But some, like Red Bull, Williams and Lotus, do not use the McLaren technology.

"That would be really hard," Rosberg is quoted as saying.

"But we still need to learn every procedure by heart, where before the engineer would be telling you which switch to put in what position."

And, anyway, the FIA clampdown extends not only to the radio, but also instructions to drivers on the pit board or on the steering wheel display — whether coded or not.

"There is not time anyway," Rosberg said, "to pull up any instructions on the screen while you're driving and read it."

He believes thinking drivers like himself could get an advantage, as he always tried to understand the reasons for the engineers' instructions rather than "someone who just made the changes automatically".

Sainz 'very upset' with Verstappen signing
(GMM) Carlos Sainz jr's famous father has expressed disappointment with Red Bull's decision-making in 2014.

Earlier, 20-year-old Spaniard Sainz jr was regarded as the undoubted cream of the energy drink's driver development program, and therefore the favorite to make his F1 debut in 2015 with Toro Rosso.

But as Mercedes toyed with signing up the teen sensation Max Verstappen to its own new junior program, Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko swept the Dutchman off his feet with a hard-to-refuse multi-year contract and an immediate F1 debut next year.

Many paddock regulars, including none other than Fernando Alonso, have expressed surprise that Sainz jr was shuffled down the queue in deference to Verstappen.

Sainz's father, the world rally legend Carlos Sainz, is quoted by Italy's Omnicorse: "We were very upset, but we have not lost heart."

Indeed, it has emerged that, in the wake of the Verstappen signing, the Sainz duo met with Marko and were assured the young Spaniard remains in Red Bull's plans.

Sainz snr is optimistic.

"Red Bull has never won with its driver in the Renault World Series and so it would be amazing if, in the year that happens, the new champion should be left on his feet," he said.

In that highly-respected formative series, Sainz jr currently leads Roberto Merhi with two rounds left to run.

Smoke haze over Singapore for GP
(GMM) A haze is hanging over Singapore's skies ahead of the highly popular night race.

The city-state's environmental agency said air pollution has reached "unhealthy" levels in the past days, due to rainforest fires in nearby Indonesia.

A spokesman for the Singapore grand prix organizers said: "We are working closely with the authorities concerned.

"But I can think of only two scenarios that would affect the racing: if visibility for the drivers was too bad, or if people's health is at risk," he is quoted by Speed Week.

The situation in Singapore has improved in the last 24 hours, with air pollution levels dropping and heavy rain having a further cleansing effect.

Marchionne attitude 'positive' for Ferrari – Surer
(GMM) An F1 pundit thinks long-time president Luca di Montezemolo's departure is good news for Ferrari.

Marc Surer, a Swiss former grand prix driver, thinks the early noises being made by Montezemolo's successor Sergio Marchionne are honest and positive.

"In the short term, nothing will change," Surer, now a pundit on German television, told Speed Week.

"But long term, the change should have a positive impact.

"Montezemolo has usually protected the team and rather attacked the regulations if things were not going well on a sporting level," he explained.

"The engine – the sacred cow at Ferrari – was never questioned," said Surer.

"But Sergio Marchionne has already criticized not only the engine department but also admitted that energy recovery is also not good enough," he added.

Lotus F1 Team Announces Losses Of $9.8M From First Half Of '14
Lotus F1 is confident it is "back on the right track for next season after releasing improved financial results" for the first half of '14, according to Andrew Benson of the BBC. The team lost £64M last year and has "slipped from fourth to eighth in the constructors' championship." But Lotus reduced its losses to £6M ($9.8M) for the first half of this year. Lotus CEO Matthew Carter said, "The goal for next year is to be somewhere near financially stable and have a reasonable car on track."

The team is "widely expected to improve" in '15, partly because of "their impending switch from Renault to Mercedes engines, which are believed to be worth a second a lap." Last year's losses included £15M in "interest to shareholders and other loans." But following a restructuring, Carter said that "this year's first-half losses before exceptional costs, depreciation and interest have been cut" to £823,000 ($1.3B). The remainder of the loss is made up of £1.6M ($2.6M) in redundancy costs, £3M ($4.9M) in depreciation and about £1M ($1.6M) in interest. BBC

Ferrari switch focus to 2015 car
Ferrari has switched focus to its 2015 car, with new developments expected to be trialed on the F14 T before the end of the 2014 season, according to engineering director Pat Fry.

The Scuderia has endured a miserable 2014 campaign, scoring just two podiums all season long, and now finds itself fourth in the constructors' championship behind old rivals Williams following a disastrous home race in Monza where it scored just two points.

“At this stage of the season, the focus in the factory is shifting more towards next year's car," Fry said.

“However, there is still quite a lot we can learn from track testing, therefore we will be bringing some specific test components for next year and other developments for the F14 T, which will help our understanding for next year."

After a difficult weekend at Monza, Fry expects better from Ferrari in Singapore, a circuit that should be more suited to the characteristics of the team's F14 T car.

“After the two races in Spa and Monza, run on low downforce circuits, we now go to Singapore which is at completely the other end of the spectrum," he added.

“It's a street circuit requiring very high downforce, where we will be running the Soft and Supersoft tires on a track with similar characteristics to Monaco. There are hardly any high speed corners and only two turns that have combined lateral and longitudinal acceleration and therefore the challenge is more about straight line acceleration and good traction.

“Monza was a tough weekend for us. So now we are regrouping and we will keep pushing forward, concentrating on getting the best out of the package we've got."

Ferrari Singapore GP preview – Into the night
With the European part of this season consigned to history, it's time for the Formula 1 circus to leave home and tackle the final six Grands Prix of the season, which involves criss-crossing the globe from the Far East to the West and back to its Middle East finale. The first of those appointments is at the photogenic and floodlit Marina Bay circuit in Singapore.

Dry race guaranteed for Singapore
As the F1 circus touches down in Singapore, one thing the teams can count on this weekend is a dry race.

Though it is hot and humid, not to mention the middle of monsoon season, the Singapore Grand Prix has never been held in the wet. It's a curious fact given the average rainfall in Singapore for September is nearly 200mm, about five times that of London's annual average, but when Formula One comes to town the weekend is invariably dry.

A wet race, under lights around the Marina Bay circuit is a worse-case scenario for organizers. It raises safety issues around a circuit which already generates safety cars during racing, and would have an impact on television coverage – a point almost certainly not lost on the commercial rights holder.
To circumvent that problem the Singapore government has a rather unique solution – it seeds clouds in an effort to have the rain fall before it ever reaches Singapore.

It's a common practice in some parts, with planes flown into cloud systems (or rockets launched into them) before unloading salt (or silver iodine) into the atmosphere, helping provide crystals around which the moisture can condense and therefore triggering precipitation.

Cloud seeding was first discovered in the 1940s and has been used around the world since. Last year the Singapore government confirmed it was working with the Indonesian government to seed clouds off the coast, to have the rain fall on a forest in Indonesia which was ablaze at the time.

Therefore, despite what you may read or hear this weekend, we are all but assured of a dry Grand Prix.

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