Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Ferrari has become so desperate they have to rely on new paint to make more HP

    'Magic paint' to give Ferrari power boost

  • Teams to argue with Ecclestone over 22-race calendar
  • Mercedes will try again to turn up F1 volume – Lauda
  • Pundit says Kvyat F1's 'man of the future'
  • Mercedes drivers told to obey team orders in future
  • Former manager says Alonso 'best thing about Ferrari'
  • Wolff: Reliability issues masked by team orders
  • Ex-Caterham staff hit back at team
  • Gutierrez set to begin Sauber contract talks
  • We have raised our game, says Renault

'Magic paint' to give Ferrari power boost
(GMM) Marussia has led the way for a reported 20 horse power boost for struggling engine supplier Ferrari.

That is the claim of Italy's authoritative Autosprint, claiming that at the forthcoming 'power circuits' at Spa and Monza, the Maranello team might have to thank its diminutive customer for a fistful of extra speed.

Reportedly, the clever solution gets more horse power out of Ferrari's turbo V6.

It is simply what correspondent Alberto Antonini refers to as a 'magic paint' that is applied as a shield to deliver more heat to the turbine.

Autosprint said Ferrari engineers first wanted the innovation to be tested on the 'power units' run by its F1 customer, the backmarker team Marussia.

It is believed that, amid the tight engine development 'freeze', the FIA will green-light the mid-season change on the grounds of reliability.

Teams to argue with Ecclestone over 22-race calendar
(GMM) F1 team bosses are heading for a clash with Bernie Ecclestone over the shape of the next grand prix calendars.

It has emerged that Mexico is joining the schedule next year, and Azerbaijan and possibly New Jersey in 2016.

That would blow the number of races out from 19 – comfortably under the Concorde Agreement limit of 20 – to a potential 22.

But actually, according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, the newly agreed commercial agreements with F1 chief executive Ecclestone in fact allow for a new maximum of 22 races.

For F1's commercial rights holders, more races converts automatically into more income.

But Auto Motor und Sport claims that some internal cost calculations show that 21 races is actually the financial limit for the teams.

"I think we should be careful of not saturating the year with too many races," Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn said.

"We know what it means on our personnel. We might have to restructure things again, so I think we should be careful before we take these kinds of steps".

It is believed Kaltenborn is referring to tipping point in the basic existing structure of the teams — once a certain number of races is reached, for example, teams may have to consider rotating staff and rethinking logistics.

"It is clear," agreed Ferrari chief Marco Mattiacci, "that stretching the championship to many races means more investment on our side so it opens another discussion".

Mercedes will try again to turn up F1 volume – Lauda
(GMM) Niki Lauda has put his mind to the problem of F1's dwindling television and spectator audiences.

Before the sport breaks for the summer, key meetings will take place this week, including the brand new 'popularity working group' reportedly headed by Flavio Briatore.

But F1 legend and Mercedes team chairman Lauda doubts the sport needs the former crash-gate protagonist to solve the sport's problems.

To Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport, he laid out his own blueprint of improvements.

On the empty grandstands in Hockenheim recently, he said that was "the fault of the organizers" in not promoting the race sufficiently, and setting ticket prices too high.

"For Austria," he said, "Dietrich Mateschitz adopted the approach I know well — fill up with low prices instead of higher prices and empty seats."

Lauda said F1 has already acted on his suggestion of "not interfering" in the actual racing with "so many stupid penalties".

"Then there is the low sound of the engines," he added. "At Mercedes, we have already promised Ecclestone another attempt at a solution to turn up the volume. But the real crisis is something else.

"The young people today want to stay at the beach with friends and watch the grand prix on the iPad. At the same time they don't see the drivers as their heroes. This is not easy to solve.

"But there are too many rules. If his rival goes over the white line, he starts screaming on the radio. And then there are the limits on what they can say to the media and when they have to shut up.

"We are at a breaking point," Lauda claimed.

Daniil Kvyat

Pundit says Kvyat F1's 'man of the future'
(GMM) Fresh blood is in no short supply on the F1 grid this year, as Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas impress.

But if you ask Marc Surer, a former driver turned commentator for German television, he doesn't hesitate for a second when asked who he would sign up if he ran a team.

"Kvyat," he told Speed Week instantly.

Surer is referring to Russian youngster Daniil Kvyat, who has only just graduated from his teens.

"He is the man of the future," Surer insisted.

"His rise from GP3 to formula one without the luxury Valtteri Bottas had to learn for a year as a test driver. The Russian was thrown into deep water but he does his job so well.

"I find it very impressive."

Kvyat is the latest cream of Red Bull's increasingly impressive young driver program, which has also produced the likes of Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel.

He is currently being housed by Toro Rosso, the Red Bull 'junior' F1 team headed by Franz Tost.

Austrian Tost said this week: "He is doing a fantastic job. Taking into consideration how little mileage he was able to do before the season, he is driving very well, showing that he has natural speed.

"Equally importantly, he has had no accidents, nor has he made any mistakes."

The speed of Kvyat's progress would seem to have endangered the F1 future of his teammate Jean-Eric Vergne, who has been overshadowed in 2014 in his third consecutive season with the Faenza based team.

Poised in the wings is the next Red Bull-backed junior, Carlos Sainz Jr.

"He (Vergne) has suffered a lot with reliability issues, but when his car was running fine, he delivered good performances," Tost insisted when asked about the Frenchman this week.

"Thanks to his experience he makes an important contribution to the team's technical development and I'm convinced that there is still more to come from him."

Mercedes drivers told to obey team orders in future
(GMM) Mercedes' title-warring drivers have been told they must follow team orders over the remaining eight races of 2014.

The Brackley based team moved to play down Lewis Hamilton's defiance in Hungary last Sunday, accepting that the Briton was right to refuse to let Nico Rosberg past.

"Nico never got close enough to Lewis to make the move," said team boss Toto Wolff, "and we were ultimately comfortable with the decision Lewis made to hold position."

In the official interview distributed by the German team this week, Wolff added that the pair "will continue to be free to race" for the rest of their 2014 title battle.

But he also said that Mercedes' "priority as a team is always to give ourselves the best chance of winning the race — no matter which driver is fighting for it".

Basically, after an analysis in the days immediately following the Budapest controversy, that means Mercedes reserves the right to issue similar team orders over the remaining eight races of the season.

Austria's APA news agency reports that Wolff has met with fellow bosses Niki Lauda and Paddy Wolff in the days since Hungary, and subsequently had "long" phone conversations with Hamilton and Rosberg.

The conclusion, Wolff told APA, is that "If Paddy says something on the radio, this is followed even if at that moment it appears irrational to the drivers".

The report said Rosberg and even Briton Hamilton have agreed to the clarified rules of engagement.

"Our agreement from the beginning of the season is that the other car should not be disturbed if it is on another strategy," Wolff continued.

But a situation like in Hungary, where Rosberg never came close enough to Hamilton to mount a potential overtaking move, is different.

"No one should have to come off the gas," he explained.

"What happened (in Hungary) has happened now," said Wolff, "but whenever there are problems, then at least we must learn as much as possible from them."

Without Alonso, Ferrari would be nowhere

Former manager says Alonso 'best thing about Ferrari'
(GMM) The new era of social media and F1's traditional 'silly season' may not mix well together.

Fernando Alonso turned 33 on Tuesday, and as far as official congratulations go, many spotted McLaren's first.

The Spaniard, undoubtedly frustrated with title-lacking life at Ferrari after five years, might be on the move and Honda is clearly on the hunt for a top driver to spearhead its new works McLaren foray.

"Happy birthday to @alo_oficial," McLaren said on Twitter, adding a photo of Alonso "driving flat-out in his McLaren MP4-22 at Magny-Cours in 2007."

Miguel Sanz, the Spanish correspondent for Marca, commented: "You can't say McLaren and Honda aren't trying or persistent.

"It is the second public nod to Alonso this year and, in this F1 world of millimeters, the gestures are no accident," he added, referring to a McLaren 'tweet' earlier this year showing Alonso smiling with team supremo Ron Dennis.

After the Dennis tweet, a team source played down the significance of the gesture but it is obvious that if Alonso is on the market, he will be bitterly fought over.

For the record, Ferrari marked Alonso's birthday with a celebratory video made in conjunction with Sky Italia, highlighting "all the best moments of his time to date with the longest-running team in formula one".

"In the past four and a half years there has been happiness and disappointment and a lot of time spent with special people, special like Fernando, a truly great talent and a real team player," Ferrari said.

Marca quoted Alonso's former manager Adrian Campos as saying: "Fernando is the best thing about Ferrari — and I would say almost the only thing.

"He is the most complete driver of recent years, almost comparable to Senna."

But with dominant Mercedes all locked up for now and Red Bull struggling with an underpowered engine, Alonso's best option for now is probably to stay with Ferrari.

"For me, Alonso has justly lost confidence in Ferrari," Marc Surer, a former driver turned commentator, told Speed Week as he mused the 2014 silly-season.

"But he could only move to McLaren-Honda if they can guarantee him a winning car for 2015. I guess a lot less will happen than we think," he surmised.

Wolff: Reliability issues masked by team orders
Toto Wolff reckons the team orders controversy at the Hungarian Grand Prix has masked significant reliability problems at Mercedes that he is eager to address for the second half of the 2014 campaign.

After Sunday's race, the paddock focus was on Lewis Hamilton's refusal to move aside and let team-mate Nico Rosberg through, with the pair ultimately going on to take the checkered flag in third and fourth places.

But Wolff says the primary concern for the Silver Arrows moving forward should be providing both of its drivers with a reliable package, in turn allowing them to race freely in the battle for the Drivers' Championship.

"At the start of the season, [Executive Director, Technical] Paddy [Lowe] and I agreed a clear policy with the drivers that they are free to race for the win – as long as they are fighting for it," Wolff explained during a post-race interview with the official Mercedes website. "Equally, we have been clear that our priority as a team is always to give ourselves the best chance of winning the race – no matter which driver is fighting for it.

"The calls Paddy and the team on the pit wall made were completely in line with our policy. And so, our drivers will continue to be free to race for the remainder of the 2014 championship; and they will be racing to win.

"However, we should also be clear-sighted about the situation: this debate about team orders is obscuring our real problem at the moment, which is reliability. If we give the drivers the opportunity to use the full potential of the car on every lap, then we have the performance to race at the front of the field – and they will be free to race for the win without external factors playing a role. We haven't done that recently and that has given us some headaches. But those problems can be avoided if we do a better job."

Wolff has admitted that both Rosberg and Hamilton came close to retiring from the Hungaroring race.

"It was nerve-wracking. With each car, there was a point when we didn't think they could finish," he said.

"For Nico, it was behind the first Safety Car when it looked like the brake system had failed. With Lewis, it was when he started losing fuel pressure – and power – as he was running behind Fernando [Alonso], with Nico closing in. We were hoping he could make it to the finish – but we expected the problem would be terminal."

Wolff added that Hamilton's qualifying fire was caused by a localized fatigue failure in a high-pressure fuel hose, although the precise reasons behind this fatigue are still being investigated at the team's Brackley base.

Ex-Caterham staff hit back at team
The ex-Caterham staff seeking compensation for unfair dismissal have hit back at a team statement.

On Monday, around 40 former employees announced that they were to commence legal action against the Leafield-based outfit, after losing their jobs following a takeover by Middle Eastern and Swiss investors.

Caterham responded with a countersuit on Tuesday seeking damages for what it described as the "gross misrepresentation" of facts, arguing that the ex-staff were employed by a supplier, rather than the outfit.

But the group of ex-staff has stuck to its original claims, releasing a fresh statement on Wednesday.

The statement from the group reads:

'As confirmed in the contracts of employment for those working in the Caterham F1 Team, Caterham F1 is 'the trading name of the Employer and the name of its motor racing team entered into the F1 World Championship'. All those dismissed were employed in the Caterham F1 Team by their operational company Caterham Sports Limited (company number 07042086 previously 1Malaysia Racing Team (UK) Limited). The dismissal letters were on Caterham F1 Team headed notepaper and the reason for dismissal was given as 'following the change in ownership and, as a result of the current financial position that the new owners have inherited, your position at Caterham Sports Ltd will terminate with immediate effect…You are being dismissed in law for Some Other Substantial Reason.' The Caterham F1 Team website confirms the change of ownership as at 2 July 2014. The summary dismissal of employees from Caterham was done without warning or consultation, which is a breach of employment laws and contract and will result in significant compensation claims.

'Regarding matters of pay, those dismissed on 15 July 2014 were advised in writing that they would be paid for 1-15 July. Unless the position has changed, we are informed that those we represent had not yet been paid either on what would have been the usual payroll date of 25 July, or by 28 July. It is understood those we represent who were dismissed on 24 July 2014 may also not yet have been paid for July. If those dismissed have now been paid that would obviously be very welcome.

'Lawyers for those who have been dismissed wrote to Caterham on 25 July 2014 urging a response to the above matters and inviting settlement either through ACAS or in face to face discussions. A response from Caterham to this letter is awaited.'

Gutierrez set to begin Sauber contract talks
Esteban Gutierrez says he plans to open contract extension talks with Sauber in the coming weeks.

Gutierrez, a former GP3 Champion, is contesting his second season for the Swiss outfit, which has struggled for performance and reliability at the start of the sport's new turbocharged era amid ongoing financial difficulties.

But with the backing of telecommunications company Telmex and the prospect of a Mexican Grand Prix returning for the 2015 campaign, Gutierrez is hopeful that he will be able to extend his stay for at least another term.

"That's something we need to speak [about] in the next few weeks. It's a subject that we'll bring up pretty soon," Gutierrez, who has scored one points finish from 30 outings with Sauber, explained to Sky Sports.

Gutierrez added that he is hoping to learn as much as he can from Sauber's struggle to benefit his future.

"It's really been very challenging because I'm only 22 years old, it's only [my] second year in Formula 1 and, in your second year when it's critical, you really want to be in the position to show what you can do. At the moment I'm not really in that position," he said. "It's a challenge, I love challenges and I need to enjoy this process."

At the recent Hungarian Grand Prix, Gutierrez's teammate, Adrian Sutil, was forced to deny rumors that he is under immediate threat from reserve driver Giedo van der Garde, who is also pushing for a 2015 race seat.

We have raised our game, says Renault
Renault believes it has "raised its game" in recent races, but admits there is still a need for improvement.

Daniel Ricciardo gave Red Bull and Renault its second win of the season at the Hungarian Grand Prix, although it remains clear that Mercedes still sets the standard.

Renault's Head of Track Operations Remi Taffin jas also conceded that the two high-speed tracks in Belgium and Italy after Formula 1's summer break will be a tougher test than the tight and twisty Hungaroring.

"We have raised our game in the last few races and worked hard with the team over many man hours to be as competitive as possible," Taffin noted.

"Of course there is still room for improvement – which is positive – and we now need to aim to be competitive in all types of conditions."

"We've also got to use this [win] as motivation for the second part of the year. We know it will be a lot harder when we return, but we know what our strengths are and we've got some interesting work in progress that will help," he continued.

"We now need to turn everything to our advantage and maximize opportunities when we return, just as we did on Sunday."