Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Rosberg was 3 seconds faster per lap than Hamilton at the end, but Hamilton defied team orders to move over

    Mercedes to rethink team orders after Hamilton defiance

  • Red Bull lobbying for Lotus' Renault exit
  • 'Nice surprise' for Alonso and Ferrari
  • Raikkonen eyes 'better' Ferrari for 2015
  • Alonso, Hamilton say Ricciardo among F1's best
  • Force India drivers apologetic after incidents
  • Ricciardo: Safety Car did not hand me win
  • Caterham team facing legal action from ex-staff

Mercedes to rethink team orders after Hamilton defiance
(GMM) Mercedes has moved to put the intensifying battle between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg behind closed doors.

"Corporate answer," boss Toto Wolff smiled late on Sunday, when the extent of the potential controversy triggered by the Hungarian grand prix became clear.

In the race, after technical failures blighted his last two qualifying outings as he chases down teammate and enemy Rosberg's points lead, Briton Hamilton was asked repeatedly to let the sister silver car past.

Predictably, team chairman Niki Lauda dismissed as "bullsh*t" any conspiracy theory about Mercedes wanting its German driver to prevail in 2014 over a Briton.

Indeed, the much more sensible reasoning for Sunday's team order was that Mercedes had devised on the fly a new race-winning strategy for pole-sitter Rosberg, after the timing of the safety car period left him trailing Hamilton, who started the race from pitlane.

Even Wolff had to admit that, had Hamilton obeyed the order, "Nico could have won the race.

"It is a difficult situation now," he added.

The team finds itself on a delicate line between letting its drivers fight freely for the drivers' title, and handling situations like Sunday, where two non-Mercedes cars eventually crossed the checkered flag first and second.

Hamilton's defiance probably cost Mercedes victory in Hungary, but it did help him narrow the points gap to Rosberg with eight races now to run.

2008 world champion Hamilton said immediately after getting out of his W05 on Sunday that he thinks his bosses issued the team order "for the right reasons".

But the wheel-to-wheel title battle is something different.

"I was in the same race as him," he said, "so I was very, very shocked that the team would ask me to do that, to be able to better his position.

"So that was a bit strange."

Hamilton revealed on Sunday that, after his qualifying fire, he had lifted his spirits by sharing a pizza, some chocolate and "a prank" with Lauda.

Lauda said Hamilton was right to ignore the team order.

"I would have done exactly the same," said the great Austrian.

"The team was under enormous stress because the race was a very difficult one, there is no question. The call was unnecessary but it was made."

Even Wolff admits that Mercedes will need to use the three-weekend 'summer break', including a two week factory shutdown, to devise a better strategy for dealing with the intensifying championship battle between the two drivers.

"What we had at the beginning of the season doesn't function anymore," he acknowledged.

"Perhaps we need to have a new way. It's getting intense and we need to sit down and discuss how to handle things."

'Nice surprise' for Alonso and Ferrari
Fernando Alonso says finishing on the Hungarian Grand Prix podium came as a "nice surprise" to himself and his Ferrari team.

The Spaniard was involved in the victory fight during Sunday afternoon's wet/dry race at the Hungaroring, going wheel-to-wheel with Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages.

He was ultimately passed by Ricciardo with two laps remaining, but kept Hamilton at bay to finish second – his first rostrum since China.

"It's been a tough weekend and a tough season for us, so this is a nice surprise," Alonso explained to the gathered media after the race.

"We risked, trying to get the victory. I'm extremely proud of the team and the job we did. I'm very, very happy."

Alonso has admitted that it will take more "crazy races" for Ferrari to enjoy further success in 2014.

"Today we had a combination of things which made it difficult to execute and understand," he added.

"We took the opportunity and had the experience. We need crazy races to get on the podium this year."

Red Bull lobbying for Lotus' Renault exit
(GMM) Christian Horner is lobbying for Lotus to switch to customer Mercedes power for the 2015 season.

The Enstone team is having a dismal season of performance and reliability with Renault power, but the likely move to Mercedes is more complex than that.

Reigning quadruple world champions Red Bull have also struggled with Renault's turbo V6 'power unit' in 2014, but the Horner-led team has reacted by putting enormous pressure on its French partner.

There has been a management change right at the top, with Cyril Abiteboul returning to Renault from Caterham to set up a new structure for 2015 and beyond.

A key to that might be seen as Red Bull 'getting rid of' Lotus.

Dr Helmut Marko said recently that it was a big mistake for Renault to have tried to treat Red Bull and Lotus fairly in accommodating both teams' needs in 2014.

He said preparing "a different version" of the Renault V6 for Lotus "tied up too many resources at Renault and distracted from the development".

Lotus' engine change has not yet been confirmed, but it is clearly part of Red Bull's plan.

"I think we have some good things in the pipeline," team boss Horner said in Hungary. "We are working very closely with Renault (after) their recent management change.

"We have a very good working relationship with Renault," he told F1's official website, "and I think Cyril is doing a great job.

"We are getting much more involved — something similar to working like a proper works team."

For that to happen, Red Bull will be Renault's clear focus in 2015, with only Red Bull-associated teams to get a customer engine — Toro Rosso, and Caterham, who use a Red Bull-supplied gearbox.

"The whole focus will then be on Red Bull Racing," Horner confirmed, "and then a customer engine supplied to Toro Rosso. Of course that makes a difference.

"It would be positive for us and it makes sense to Renault as well."

Raikkonen eyes 'better' Ferrari for 2015
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen was looking ahead to 2015 rather than seeing Sunday's Hungarian grand prix as the start of an immediate Ferrari revival.

After an uncompetitive first half of 2014, the Finn finished a solid sixth in Hungary — his best result of the season.

And Raikkonen's teammate Fernando Alonso was in the running for the race win until the dying moments, when he was passed by winner Daniel Ricciardo.

F1 now breaks for three full weekends before hostilities resume in Belgium late next month.

But the Finnish media quoted Raikkonen as saying: "I don't see things changing much in three or four weeks. Next year things will get better.

"I am pleased with today, but on the whole I am very disappointed with the way things have gone. We need to make sure we don't make the same mistakes.

"I trust Ferrari and I know they are working hard, so that's why I am confident about next year. Then we should be able to fight for race wins again," he added.

Team boss Marco Mattiacci was also playing down the significance of Hungary, even though he admitted it was a much-needed morale boost for the Maranello camp.

"I think we should be careful to judge what has happened over this weekend," he is quoted by the Spanish daily AS. "We must remember that we still have a huge amount of work to do.

"We know the strong and the weak points of the car and a weekend with a podium is not going to change that.

"We have to change the car 180 degrees."

Mattiacci, however, has no doubts about at least one component of the current Ferrari package.

"Without doubt, he (Alonso) is the best driver on the grid," he said.

And Sunday's result also cooled the hostility between Ferrari and Mercedes' Niki Lauda, after the great Austrian last week called the red 2014 car "sh*t".

"Ferrari was today better than Mercedes, so everything is calm again," Lauda smiled.

Alonso, Hamilton say Ricciardo among F1's best
(GMM) Daniel Ricciardo has joined the upper echelon of F1's very best drivers.

In the paddock, a big rumor is that for its new works Honda partnership beginning next year, McLaren is on the market for one of the sport's 'big three' drivers.

They are Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.

But is a new kid on the block about to join their caliber? So far in 2014, Australian Ricciardo has stunned the paddock with his rise from Red Bull's junior team Toro Rosso.

He has undoubtedly humbled reigning quadruple world champion Vettel over the first half of the season, recording two wins to the German's none.

25-year-old Ricciardo, two years younger than Vettel, recorded his second career win on Sunday, audaciously overtaking none other than Hamilton and Alonso for good measure in Hungary.

Asked if he has now established himself at the top of F1, Spaniard Alonso agreed afterwards: "Yeah, definitely. I think he's leading the champion team. That says it all."

Hamilton agreed: "Not only one of the nicest guys in the paddock but also one of the best drivers here, for sure."

Throughout 2014, although regularly beaten by Ricciardo, Vettel has kept up an amiable relationship with the Australian, including in Hungary where he appeared for the customary post-victory team photo.

Still, the plaudits are not flowing quite as smoothly from his mouth.

Vettel looked to have the upper hand on Ricciardo around the twisty Hungaroring until the race, where the safety car and a spin halted his progress.

"It was not a good race," he is quoted by Germany's DPA news agency. "It was simply a question of being at the right place at the right time."

Vettel said the safety car helped Ricciardo.

"That was his good luck," he is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport. "And then he did everything right."

Vettel is now looking forward to the summer break, which is "good for everyone. It was a tough first half of the season," he admitted.

Force India drivers apologetic after incidents
Force India drivers Nico Hülkenberg and Sergio Perez have both apologized to their team after retiring from the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Hülkenberg slid into the barriers after clipping team-mate Perez's car, before the Mexican lost control at the final corner and hit the pit wall.

It is the first time this season that Force India has failed to record a point at a race, leaving it just one ahead of McLaren in the battle for fifth.

"It was not the best day in the office and I'm feeling very disappointed," said Hülkenberg, who loses his 100 per cent scoring record for 2014.

"The track was drying and I was quite close behind Checo when I made contact with him. The previous lap he had taken a much wider line so I tried to overtake on the inside, but he took a tighter line and I couldn't back out.

"I made contact with his car, lost my front wing and went straight on into the barrier. It was my mistake and I've apologized to the team. It's especially frustrating because there was a lot of potential in this race."

Perez added: "It's a very disappointing end to our weekend, just when it looked like we could have scored some big points. I went a little wide on the exit curb of the final corner, lost the rear and that was it – I was in the wall.

"It was a very unfortunate end to our race and I feel sorry for the team because they deserved some points."

Ricciardo: Safety Car did not hand me win
Daniel Ricciardo says he was made to work for his Hungarian Grand Prix victory, playing down the role of two Safety Car periods.

With the top four of Nico Rosberg, Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso missing the chance to pit on the first lap of the opening Safety Car period, Ricciardo was one of the main beneficiaries.

But the Safety Car's second appearance was less advantageous, leading the Red Bull driver to pit for fresh tires out of sync late in the race and forcing him to overtake Lewis Hamilton and Alonso for his second win.

"It feels as good as the first, it really does," Ricciardo commented.

"The Safety Car at the beginning played to our advantage, but the second one didn't. I had to do it at the end."

Ricciardo says he acted quickly when fighting with Alonso as he was unsure if it would be his only shot.

"I knew we had to make a move quick," explained the Australian when looking back at the decisive pass.

"The DRS was there and it could have been my only chance so I took it and it paid off. It had to be done!"

He added: "I'm going to celebrate tonight and enjoy a bit of time off. I will keep building on what I've done and look forward to Spa. The team has let me settle in so well and to grab two victories is phenomenal."

Caterham team facing legal action from ex-staff
The Caterham F1 team is facing legal action from around 40 former employees, laid off earlier this month.

Since Tony Fernandes sold the outfit to a consortium of Swiss and Middle Eastern investors, the new owners have been on a cost-saving drive, with over 40 members losing their jobs ahead of the German Grand Prix.

But the former staff have claimed that the way they were sacked breached UK employment law, and have requested governing body the FIA to investigate the team's conduct and its recent change of ownership.

"The summary dismissal of employees from Caterham was done without warning or consultation and will result in significant compensation claims against the team," said Christopher Felton, the lawyer representing the staff.

Christijan Albers, appointed Caterham's new team boss during the takeover, refused to directly comment on the matter when questioned by, but says he is pleased with the direction the team is heading in.

"What I would like to say is that we applied a new structure to the team, in which I am very confident, with John Iley as Technical Director, Keith Barclay as lead developer and Miodrag Kotur as Team Manager, besides myself," he said. "I think this team can be very successful and this is, in my opinion, the most important thing."

The team is now separate from Caterham Cars, Caterham Technologies and Caterham Composites. Fernandes still owns all three companies, along with Air Asia, Tune Hotels and Queens Park Rangers Football Club.