Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Mattiacci thinks both of his drivers are staying for 2015

    Honda wants Vettel, Newey for McLaren project – Minardi

  • Silver duo still warring long after Spa crash
  • Vettel made 'many mistakes' in 2014 – Webber
  • Verstappen tipped for Friday debut at Suzuka
  • Renault with 'renewed confidence' for Monza
  • Mattiacci 'confirms' 2015 lineup yet again

Honda wants Vettel, Newey for McLaren project – Minardi
(GMM) Gian Carlo Minardi, a former F1 team owner and boss, thinks Sebastian Vettel and Adrian Newey might be convinced to switch to McLaren.

At the very least, the British team and its new works partner Honda are undoubtedly on the lookout for a top driver to spearhead the 2015 project.

Even boss Eric Boullier admits the protracted deliberations are unusual for McLaren.

"We are working on the strategy for the driver lineup for the next years," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"For me it's important to say 'years' because we are looking for three years and maybe five years."

Boullier admitted the delay is "uncomfortable" for both Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button.

The five-year plan might make Button, the 2009 world champion, particularly nervous, as he will be 35 when the 2015 season begins.

Seven time world champion and F1 legend Michael Schumacher first retired at the age of 37, and when he returned at 41 most insiders reckoned his best days were past him.

The wilder speculation suggests McLaren could be holding out for a disgruntled former champion like Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel.

Romain Grosjean and Valtteri Bottas have also been linked with the Woking based team, although Speed Week thinks Williams' Finn has essentially already signed on to stay with Williams in 2015.

"It's an unusual situation, yes," Button acknowledged, "but sometimes it's that way."

Minardi's theory, based on a Japanese source, is that Honda is pushing hard to bring not only Vettel to McLaren, but also his similarly-disgruntled Red Bull designer Adrian Newey.

On his website, Minardi claimed Bernie Ecclestone and Vettel met to discuss the possibility in Belgium, as the F1 supremo is close to the German and always keen to spread the best drivers across the top teams.

In Russia this week to drive the new Sochi layout in a road car, Vettel was asked if Newey's plans to step back at Red Bull affect his own plans for the future.

"No, I don't think so," the quadruple world champion answered, according to Speed Week.

"Adrian is a very ambitious man, and even if he says he wants to take things a little quieter, I believe – in a situation like now with Red Bull Racing – if we go back to the top, then his motivation will be restored.

"The enthusiasm for racing is simply in his nature — and he cannot bear to lose!"

Silver duo still warring long after Spa crash
(GMM) Days after their carbon-fiber crunching at Spa, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton are still exchanging barbs.

After Hamilton said Rosberg had admitted in a post-race briefing that Sunday's crash was on purpose, the championship leader had replied only that he has a "very different" tale to tell.

Now, according to Sport Bild, the 29-year-old has revealed more about what he thought of Hamilton's indiscretions.

"Very kind words from him, I think," Rosberg quipped on Tuesday, undoubtedly sarcastically. "He is a very nice guy."

Rosberg has said he "regrets" what happened, but "I think it was a normal racing incident. Of course, between teammates it must not happen."

Hamilton, however, has maintained his verbal assault on his former friend.

Actually, he denies the pair were ever really friends, telling Austria's Sportwoche he actually has no recollection of where he first met Rosberg.

"That's not really something you remember," said Hamilton.

"Yes, it's exaggerated," he added, referring to the perception that he was ever friends with Rosberg. "(It has always been) 'We're friends, bla bla bla'" Hamilton quipped.

Now, a world championship is at stake.

"We are not here to play," said Hamilton. "But since Monaco this year it has been clear to me that Nico is doing anything to beat me."

In contrast, Hamilton says he will not resort to similar tactics.

"Whatever the case I will always put the team first and I won't take anything into my own hands," he promised.

Elsewhere in F1, there is delight that Rosberg vs. Hamilton is injecting spice into a championship battle that might otherwise be consumed by Mercedes' utter dominance.

Mark Webber, not unaccustomed to a tough teammate battle, thinks the Mercedes fight is "good for formula one".

But he joins those who were surprised by Rosberg's behavior at Spa.

"It was a bit strange and not characteristic of Rosberg's driving," the Australian told Austrian Servus TV.

But at the end of the day, Webber thinks Mercedes will pull through its driver crisis with both championship crowns, with countryman Daniel Ricciardo "only having a chance if Mercedes completely implodes".

Webber's old friend Fernando Alonso agrees, insisting he sees nothing particularly unusual about the Rosberg versus Hamilton war.

"If a team leaves the drivers to fight and they don't touch, it's fantastic," Alonso is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace. "If they do touch, the team is no good anymore.

"It's difficult for them (Mercedes) but they are leading the championship by a big margin and dominating everything, so they must be doing something good," he added.

Vettel made 'many mistakes' in 2014 – Webber
(GMM) Mark Webber's honest clarity has been missed from the formula one paddock in 2014.

Amid the typical PR-speak, the Australian – having left Red Bull and the paddock for semi-retirement and Le Mans – was always relied upon for a blunt assessment.

On his former teammate Sebastian Vettel's troubled 2014 season, for instance, Webber told Austrian broadcaster Servus TV this week: "Vettel is having problems with the new rules.

"He has improved, but from the first race you could see he was making many mistakes," Webber added. [Really Mark, what were they?]

But Vettel himself, whilst not denying he made mistakes, thinks bad reliability has been the headline of his struggle in 2014.

At Spa, he even said it is "unfair" to directly compare him with Daniel Ricciardo this year, because the Australian has had a clear run with the sister RB10.

Now, Vettel tells German television RTL: "People see the raw result and have their opinion.

"But they don't always see what is really going on.

"We have had so many technical problems; burned up so many engines and wasted many components.

"Daniel has performed very strongly, there is no question," said the four-time world champion.

"But I think the races he won, we would have also been able to win if things had gone a bit differently."

For that reason, he said he is not beginning to question his own talent.

"It's not as if you forget how to drive over a winter and suddenly start doing everything wrong instead of everything right," said Vettel.

"The hunger is still there and I think we have a good chance to fight for the world championship if we position ourselves better."

Verstappen tipped for Friday debut at Suzuka
(GMM) Max Verstappen made his debut in a formula one car on Tuesday.

The well-connected Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf claims Red Bull, having newly signed the 16-year-old son of former F1 driver Jos Verstappen, has targeted October's Japanese grand prix as a potential first official outing for Max in 2014.

That is despite Toro Rosso chief Franz Tost saying at Spa that Verstappen's first Friday practice outings will only be in "Austin, Sao Paulo and Abu Dhabi".

But Red Bull may now be speeding up the teenager's already-accelerated F1 program even more.

"Max is in England for a brief introduction," Max's father Jos is quoted as saying.

He is referring to an outing for Verstappen at Rockingham, at the wheel Red Bull's title-winning 2011 car, in Toro Rosso livery.

It is a shakedown ahead of a forthcoming demonstration event in Rotterdam.

"It (the Rockingham debut) is not a test," Verstappen's father said.

"Today (Tuesday) he is driving back and forth on the straight to get used to a formula one car."

Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko confirmed: "Everything went well. Max did everything right, but I expected nothing else.

"When you talk to Max, you realize quickly that he is a confident young man who knows exactly what he is doing," he told Bild.

But even Red Bull's very own Sebastian Vettel, who made his F1 debut as a teenager, has described Verstappen's age and experience as "borderline".

"There is some sort of limit and Max is very young," the German said on a visit to Sochi this week to try the new Russian grand prix layout.

"I guess he should go to school, but he is not going to have much time for that next year!

"He already has a lot of racing experience, and his talent is obvious," continued Vettel. "So why shouldn't he be in formula one?"

Renault with 'renewed confidence' for Monza
Renault has said it will go to the Italian Grand Prix next week with "renewed confidence".

The French manufacturer took its third win of the season in Belgium on Sunday thanks to Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull Racing.

Renault's Head of Track Operations Remi Taffin has conceded it was a somewhat fortuitous result, given the dominant Mercedes' of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton clashed on the second lap, but he still took much encouragement from it, especially as Spa-Francorchamps is one of the toughest tracks of the season for power units.

He also believes the closer relationship with Red Bull Racing is now really beginning to bear fruit.

"A victory at an engine circuit where we were expected to struggle shows the never give up, never surrender mentality we have at Renault Sport F1 and how the knocks just make us work harder and smarter," he stated.

"In the past few months we have been working even closer with Red Bull and the race on Sunday was an example of optimizing a chassis and engine package. This clear direction and streamlining is paying dividends.

"Reliability is obviously now the key, and enhancing the package where we can. F1 is hard work, but also luck, and we had this at Spa.

"We will now carry forward this renewed confidence to Monza."

Mattiacci 'confirms' 2015 lineup yet again
(GMM) Marco Mattiacci has repeated his claim that Ferrari is keeping its driver lineup for 2015.

At Spa, the British broadcaster Sky made waves when it quoted the Maranello team's chief as admitting both Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen will still be wearing red next year.

That is despite intense speculation particularly about the future of Spaniard Alonso, who is reportedly disgruntled after five years of failing to win a third title with Ferrari.

Following the Sky report, the correspondent for the Spanish sports daily Marca, Marco Canseco, also asked Mattiacci to 'confirm' Alonso and Raikkonen for 2015.

"If you want, I can confirm them to you," Mattiacci responded.

"Both have contracts and there is not much to say on this matter other than that they are the two best drivers for us."

But while Monza is often the scene of an official Ferrari announcement, the Italian grand prix is also a reliable hotbed of 'silly season' rumors.

At Spa last weekend for example, Alonso and his manager were spotted entering the Red Bull motorhome, amid wild rumors Sebastian Vettel could be lured next year to McLaren-Honda.

Canseco acknowledges the official story that Alonso was simply asked by the Red Bull engineer Paul Monaghan, formerly of Renault, to sign a t-shirt for his son.

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