Latest F1 news in brief – Sunday

  • Will Rosberg be explaining how he knifed Hamilton's tire again?

    McLaren say Honda era could get early debut

  • All eyes on Monza chicane as 'Star Wars' goes on
  • Verstappen to aim for F1 license next week
  • Montezemolo denial not stopping future rumors
  • Monza's F1 future remains in doubt
  • Williams Announces same Driver Line Up for the 2015 Season

McLaren say Honda era could get early debut
(GMM) McLaren's Honda era could get an earlier than expected start.

Just days ago, the returning Japanese manufacturer's F1 chief Yasuhisa Arai said it is "very likely" the first run of its all-new turbo V6 engine would be at the official start of the winter testing season next February.

"Jerez will be the first time," he announced.

But as far as McLaren is concerned, that might not be right, even though team boss Eric Boullier said at Monza that he is "100 per cent aware" of what Arai said.

"Regarding the first test of the McLaren, Honda-powered car, there is no decision yet about when and where. This is still open," the Frenchman insisted.

"It is true there was a comment, but we will not give a definite answer now because we do not know exactly, but it is very likely it will be before Jerez," added Boullier.

That ties in with rumors McLaren is currently working on an adaptation of the currently Mercedes-powered 2014 car to accommodate the Honda 'power unit' for testing.

Asked if it could debut at the end-of-season test in Abu Dhabi, Boullier agreed: "Yes.

"This is not definite," he insisted. "It is true the safe side is we will be in Jerez with a McLaren-Honda car."

All eyes on Monza chicane as 'Star Wars' goes on
(GMM) Millions of eyes will be analyzing every millimeter movement on Sunday as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg dive into the first chicane at Monza.

The pair's clash at Spa two weeks ago has been so micro-analyzed that even Fernando Alonso got tired about hearing about what the German media has dubbed 'Star Wars' — a reference to the three-pointed star on the front of the dominant Mercedes car.

"I don't know why I need to answer so many questions on Spa," the Spaniard shrugged.

Ultimately, the reason Spa is still so front-and-centre two weeks after the clash is because it cuts to the very heart of the biggest issue of 2014 — the fight for the world championship.

Mercedes, while criticized by some, is being commended by others for attempting to manage the increasingly bitter duel whilst resisting the urge to issue results-based 'team orders'.

"The closest I came was a minute and a half after the race ended," said boss Toto Wolff, "but that emotion subsided as the week went on.

"We decided to go for the philosophy we declared at the beginning of the year — to let them race."

But that doesn't mean things are exactly as they were before the Spa clash.

'Let them race' has undoubtedly taken on a slightly different meaning post-Spa, and Hamilton and Rosberg will know exactly what is expected of them as they charge towards the first chicane on Sunday.

"I guess on Sunday morning we'll have the discussion like always, and one of the points will be what will happen on the first couple of laps," said Wolff.

"It is very clear where the line is, so it should be pretty obvious and pretty clear about what is going to happen tomorrow, and I have no doubt this is how the race is going to pan out."

The slight philosophy tweak comes at a particularly awkward time for Hamilton, as his lead blew out to 29 points in Belgium and yet now he is being urged to show more caution than usual.

Publicly, Hamilton remains flat out.

"Free to race," he told reporters after capturing pole at Monza, when asked whether Sunday's duel will be fettered.

But what about Wolff's reservations about the fight? "They won't be ringing in my ears at all," Hamilton insisted.

Rosberg, also on the front row at Monza, was asked a similar question on Saturday — will he try another early-race move to pass Hamilton if the opportunity arises, or will he hold back?

"It's a question that I'm not able to answer," said the German. "Every situation is different."

But what about if the situation is not different to Spa — the pair are heading for a clash and one of them is forced to back off.

Will it be Hamilton?

"I will do what I do all the time," the 2008 world champion answered. "I have been racing for many, many years and have not collided with too many people, so I'll continue to race the way I do.

"I want to win the right way," said Hamilton.

Team chairman Niki Lauda, meanwhile, knows what his advice to Rosberg would be.

"Nico does not need to win at all costs," he is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport. "If he is second here, nothing is lost."

Verstappen to aim for F1 license next week
(GMM) Max Verstappen's high speed rush from boyhood to the formula one grid will continue apace next week.

At Monza, Toro Rosso and Red Bull chiefs Franz Tost and Dr Helmut Marko respectively have played down the 16-year-old teen's slow-speed crash during one of his very first demonstration outings in a F1 car recently in Rotterdam.

It is believed Verstappen got caught out by the same sort of 'anti-stall' issue that may have caused Mario de Villota's crash in the Marussia two years ago.

"It's probably easier driving on a circuit than trying to do donuts," said Daniel Ricciardo, a highly successful product of Red Bull's famous junior program. "It's harder than it looks."

So Verstappen's charge to become the youngest ever F1 racer by some margin races on undiminished.

The next step is obtaining the young Dutchman's super license, amid speculation Red Bull is eyeing an earlier than expected Friday practice debut for Verstappen in 2014.

Earlier, it was announced that he would make his debut in this year's Toro Rosso ahead of the US, Brazilian and Abu Dhabi grands prix at the tail end of the season.

But now it is believed Red Bull is targeting a Suzuka debut for Verstappen in just a few weeks' time.

To that end, Speed Week reports that, next week, Verstappen will be in action at the Adria circuit in northern Italy, with a two-year-old Toro Rosso at his disposal.

Also present will be FIA officials, to observe Verstappen's progress over the necessary 300 kilometers to qualify for the mandatory F1 license.

On his anticipated Friday debut in Japan, Verstappen will be exactly 17 years and 4 days old.

"What I'm a little bit concerned about is the message that could send to those thousands of kids starting to approach racing or karting," Ferrari team boss Marco Mattiacci said at Monza, when asked about Verstappen's inexperience and age.

Lotus team deputy Federico Gastaldi agreed: "I think they (young drivers) should have more kilometers under their arms. They should have definitely much more experience, like in the old days."

Montezemolo denial not stopping future rumors
(GMM) Luca di Montezemolo's half-hearted denial on Saturday has not stopped rampant speculation about the long-time Ferrari president's future.

Some outlets quoted the charismatic 67-year-old as having said he is definitely staying put at Maranello for another three years.

But that's not what he said — he said he gave his "commitment" to the shareholders in March, presumably also signing a contract, for a longer reign.

Germany's Bild newspaper says it has learned that, behind red garage doors, a "raging dispute" is now taking place about the terms of Montezemolo's early exit.

"As usual, it's about money," read the report.

The discussions may also be about the post-Montezemolo shuffle, with boss Marco Mattiacci or perhaps Fiat's tipped Sergio Marchionne to replace him.

Ross Brawn could then return to F1 to replace Mattiacci as new team boss, as Montezemolo reportedly eyes the top job at the Italian airline Alitalia.

"I'm not going to comment on rumors," Mattiacci said on Friday. "Plenty of work on my table. No comment."

So while comments are shy, rumors prevail. One is that Montezemolo has fallen out with fellow officials over the theatre for Ferrari's stock floatation — Hong Kong or New York?

Pino Allievi, the best known and most highly respected Italian correspondent in F1, insisted: "This is Luca's last visit here at Monza (as Ferrari president).

"It's the end of an era," the La Gazzetta dello Sport veteran added.

Even Piero Ferrari, the only living son of the great Enzo Ferrari, is saying nothing: "I have nothing to say," he is quoted by Speed Week at Monza.

"I'm only a minor shareholder."

Monza's F1 future remains in doubt
(GMM) As the F1 world rejoices at the historic, high speed and highly popular Monza, the future of the fabled Italian grand prix remains in serious doubt.

Bernie Ecclestone, the sport's chief executive, said recently the current contract is "a disaster for us from a commercial point of view. After 2016, bye-bye."

The comments sparked waves of worry among F1 fans and, in particular, the world-famous Tifosi.

For Ferrari, too, Monza is important.

"Monza is unique," the Maranello marque's president Luca di Montezemolo told Italian-speaking reporters at the Autodromo Nazionale on Saturday.

"The atmosphere here is second to none. I cannot imagine that there will be problems for the future of this race, but I will talk with Bernie Ecclestone," he announced.

Talks, however, are already taking place this weekend between Ecclestone and new Monza official Ivan Capelli, an Italian and former F1 driver.

Capelli is quoted by Speed Week: "I have already met with Bernie Ecclestone and in the coming days there will be more meetings.

"I will do everything in my power to retain the grand prix here. We strive for an extension until 2020, when the current Concorde Agreement expires," he revealed.

Ecclestone also confirmed that meetings with Monza officials have taken place.

"I spoke with them this morning and it is quite simple: all we want is that Monza agrees to the contractual terms of all the other European races," he said at Monza.

"I would just take the contract of any other race and put in the word 'Monza'."

He said he was confident a deal will be reached in the end. "I hope so," said the F1 supremo. "They seem like competent people."

Williams Announces Driver Line Up for the 2015 Season
Just as predicted by AR1.com, WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING is pleased to announce that it will be retaining the services of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas as the teams' Race Drivers for the 2015 FIA Formula One World Championship season.

Felipe joined WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING for the start of the 2014 season and secured the team's first pole position since 2012 at the Austrian Grand Prix. A proven race winner with 11 wins and 36 podiums to his name, Felipe competed in his 200th Grand Prix at Silverstone in July and next year will be his 14th season in Formula One. Valtteri Bottas joined Williams in 2010 as a Test Driver and graduated to a race seat in 2013. He has secured four podium finishes so far this season and has matured into one of the sport's most promising young talents, currently sitting fifth in the Drivers' Championship.

Both drivers have proved crucial in the strong development of the Williams Mercedes FW36 and the team is confident that in Felipe and Valtteri it has one of the strongest driver pairings on the grid. Williams will be announcing its test and development driver roles for 2015 in due course.

Speaking about the announcement Felipe Massa said; "I'm really enjoying my time at WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING and I feel settled here. Williams is such an iconic name in motor racing and I have a lot of pride when racing for this team. This season we have started to show our true potential and I'm driving a car that is looking strong and has improved a lot as the season has progressed which is very encouraging for the future. It's important that we continue to push in the second half of the season and that we start 2015 with some really good momentum that we can build on."

Valtteri Bottas added; "I've been a member of the Williams team for five years now and we have developed together throughout that time which is a great feeling. The team has also made some very impressive gains this season and I'm confident that I'm at a team that is moving in the right direction and can continue to be competitive. Sir Frank and Claire have put a lot of faith in me and I'm very grateful that they continue to do so. Felipe and I have a good working relationship and this early announcement will help us both input into the ongoing development of the FW36 and the FW37."

Commenting on the team's 2015 driver pairing Sir Frank Williams, Founder and Team Principal, said; "I'm delighted to confirm that Felipe and Valtteri will be racing for Williams once again in 2015. Felipe is a pleasure to work with and combines raw pace with a wealth of experience. We have known for many years that Valtteri is a very special talent and in the FW36 we have given him a car that is allowing him to demonstrate his skills. The team is having a much improved 2014 season and the skill of our drivers and their feedback to our engineers has proved crucial in this. This announcement gives us excellent stability for 2015, but of course we are very much focusing our attention on maximizing the full potential of the FW36 in the remaining seven races of this season."

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