Latest F1 news in brief – Sunday

  • Hamilton to get brand new Mercedes

    Mercedes builds Hamilton all-new car for Hungary GP

  • Angry Raikkonen says Ferrari must address 'weaknesses'
  • Marko playing contract poker with Vettel – Lauda
  • Honda targeting wins for McLaren return
  • Massa bemoans spare parts struggle in Hungary
  • Briatore to inject more 'show' into F1 – reports
  • Team performance firing Lotus exit rumors – Grosjean
  • Hamilton: I will struggle to score a point

Mercedes builds Hamilton all-new car for Hungary GP
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton will be at the wheel of a shiny new Mercedes in Sunday's Hungarian grand prix.

Team boss Paddy Lowe is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport as revealing that "pretty much everything" was damaged when a fuel leak set the championship-chaser's W05 on fire in Hungaroring qualifying.

With full spare cars no longer allowed, Mercedes mechanics worked through the night to build Hamilton a new car from scratch from a spare monocoque.

Hamilton will not effectively be penalized for changing his gearbox and engine, as he is already at the very rear of the field for the race, so Lowe decided simply to break 'parc ferme' regulations.

"We needed to get the car out of parc ferme and rebuild from scratch if we want to be ready in time," he said.

"We can look later to see what components (from the qualifying car) have survived," added Lowe.

Briton Hamilton will therefore start the race from pitlane.

But the news is even worse for the 2008 world champion, who is already 14 points behind teammate Nico Rosberg in the drivers' points standings.

The lost engine in Hungary means Hamilton is now onto his fourth set of components for the season, out of a maximum five for 2014 before penalties begin to apply.

"Yeah, unbelievable," the 29-year-old said before departing the Hungaroring circuit on Saturday.

"Now the important thing is to see how I can come out of it — that's the really important point."

Angry Raikkonen says Ferrari must address 'weaknesses'
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen has urged Ferrari to improve, after the team's blunder cost him a competitive grid spot for the Hungarian grand prix.

Amid his difficult 2014 season and return to the Maranello outfit, the Finn was enjoying a better weekend at the Hungaroring until qualifying.

A clear strategy error meant he bowed out in 'Q1', outqualified even by the junior Ferrari driver Jules Bianchi in the backmarker Marussia.

"The plan was to go out," Raikkonen told reporters, "but the team said 'No, you are fine, you do not need to go out'.

"I questioned it a few times, but they said no need, and we can see the end result."

Undoubtedly frustrated and angry with the decision, Raikkonen insisted: "I don't see the point to shout. The mistake is done.

"I've made mistakes in the past, I will make them in the future, and people do make mistakes, but there are things we have to change to improve.

"As a team in formula one, as Ferrari, we should not be doing these kind of things. None of us are in our first year.

"Obviously we have to improve, to do things differently because we can see there are weaknesses in the system," he added.

The setback comes at an awkward time for Raikkonen and Ferrari, as both are struggling in 2014 but contractually tied up for the 2015 season.

The struggle is badly hurting Raikkonen's status and reputation, but he insisted on Saturday: "I have not suddenly over the winter lost a few seconds lap time.

"So it's the case of putting things in the right places for me."

Will Saturday in Hungary affect the course of the future?

"It will not influence my decision," the 34-year-old answered. "I have a contract, I fully believe in Ferrari, I've enjoyed a lot of wins and success with them.

"As I say, I trust in the team, but there have to be changes and improvements, which can only happen if we work as a team, as a group, as Ferrari."

Marko playing contract poker with Vettel – Lauda
(GMM) Niki Lauda has accused fellow Austrian and F1 rival Dr Helmut Marko of playing games to secure the services of world champion Sebastian Vettel.

Earlier in Hungary, the paddock was alight with speculation Vettel has been made offers – some "outrageous" – to switch from Red Bull after the 2015 season.

The source of the rumor was undoubtedly Marko.

"I don't know which sources Helmut has, or doesn't have, but they seem to vary, let's say," Vettel said in Hungary.

Lauda, the team chairman at Mercedes, categorically denied he is out fishing for a potential new teammate for Nico Rosberg.

"I know absolutely for sure and clearly that we have not made any offer to Sebastian," the triple world champion is quoted by Speed Week.

Lauda, 65, accuses Marko – the Red Bull figure most directly in charge of developing, signing and re-signing drivers – of playing contract poker ahead of negotiations with Vettel over his services for 2016 and beyond.

"What is Helmut doing?" Lauda asked rhetorically. "He is closing Sebastian's doors, by forcing people to make these public denials.

"But I am sure Sebastian will eventually figure it out and ask him: 'What are you doing?'"

Honda targeting wins for McLaren return
(GMM) Honda is targeting nothing other than victory as it prepares to return to formula one in 2015.

Every other engine supplier in F1 – Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault – subsidizes the huge costs of producing a highly-sophisticated turbo V6 'power unit' by also selling it to customers for millions of euros.

Japanese manufacturer Honda, however, is focusing solely on its works deal with McLaren.

"We are not thinking about that," said Honda's F1 chief Yasuhisa Arai when asked by Speed Week about potential plans for customers.

"At the moment we want to concentrate only on our return (to F1) for the 2015 season."

Honda's most recent F1 foray was not successful, with the last 'earth dreams'-liveried works car in 2008 devoid of sponsorship and ninth of the eleven teams.

"You cannot compare," Arai insists. "We are approaching very differently in 2015, starting with the fact that we will no longer make the car ourselves."

When asked what the goal for 2015 is, he answered: "To win grands prix with McLaren. It is for this reason we decided to partner with McLaren. We want to make history."

Undoubtedly, Honda wants to revive its glory days as a works engine supplier, when it won numerous titles in the 80s and 90s, including the near-perfect 1988 season with McLaren.

"We expect points in every race; we expect victories," said Arai.

He admitted the trigger for Honda's decision to return was the new and cutting-edge 'power unit' rules, featuring a small turbo engine and energy recovery systems.

"This is a huge challenge for the engineers and the way forward for the industry," said Arai.

"But this is not a one-way street — the formula one project will also benefit from our experience with hybrid technology in production models," he explained.

Arai dismissed speculation McLaren will test early versions of the 2015 engine in a modified car, revealing that the new Honda will only run for the first time at Jerez next year.

And finally, he was asked about the mild tone of F1's new regulations.

"Engine noise is not an issue for an engineer," Arai smiled. "But if the fans want more noise, then we should not ignore them."

Massa bemoans spare parts struggle in Hungary
(GMM) Felipe Massa insists he was beaten in Hungary only because his car was not up to par with his on-form Williams teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Right now, the big rising star of formula one is undoubtedly Finn Bottas, who is on a run of podium finishes and in Hungary is once again in the top three in qualifying.

Teammate Massa, once the long-time Ferrari star, is the best part of a full second behind around the Hungaroring.

But the Brazilian insists a comparison in Budapest is unfair, after a spate of incidents including his first-corner rollover crash just a week ago in Germany.

Massa is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport as saying the crashes have meant that, on the eve of the mid-season summer break, Williams has run low on spare parts.

In Hungary, for instance, he is using a pre-Monaco grand prix floor.

"On paper it costs us two tenths," said Massa. "The rear is very unstable and as a result I am lacking confidence."

At the same time, however, Williams is happy that upgrades brought to Hungary are keeping the FW36 competitive even at the tight and twisty Hungaroring, where the ultra-quick Mercedes engine is less dominant.

Bottas played down the likelihood of a debut race win any time soon, but Williams' technical boss Pat Symonds senses potential greatness in the 24-year-old.

"In many ways Valtteri reminds me of (Fernando) Alonso," he told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"You notice that he is very mature for his age, and that he has the makings of a great racer," said Symonds, who worked closely with Spaniard Alonso at Renault a decade ago.

"He (Bottas) is fast, hardly makes any mistakes, is incredibly clever.

"If he was able to win a grand prix this season, it would be a result with an eerie parallel to Fernando," he added, referring to the fact that Alonso made his victory breakthrough in his second F1 season back in 2003 — in Hungary.

Briatore to inject more 'show' into F1 – reports
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone sees friend Flavio Briatore as the key to rescuing formula one's flagging 'show'.

That is the claim of publications including the Spanish sports daily AS, in the wake of a meeting of team bosses in the Hungaroring paddock on Saturday.

Afterwards, rumors began to emerge that flamboyant Italian Briatore, absent from F1 since his expulsion and ban following the 'crash-gate' scandal, is set to return to the sport in a new advisory role.

Perhaps alarmed by the surprisingly small crowd on F1's traditional German soil a week ago, a big agenda item on Saturday was the need to revitalize the sport's appeal.

The Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung reports that a further 30 per cent decline in ticket sales is being recorded this weekend in Hungary.

Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda is quoted as saying he thinks F1's issues are "homemade".

He said the sport is too "controlled" by complex and numerous regulations and penalties that prevent "proper racing".

Lauda thinks the current generation of drivers has been "disenfranchised" by the modern system, and are therefore lacking the "charisma" fans are looking for.

For Ecclestone, the solution could lie within a new popularity working group, chaired by the former Benetton and Renault chief Briatore and set to feature Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes and Force India.

Mercedes' Toto Wolff spoke with reporters after Saturday's meeting and was asked about the Briatore rumors.

"There are a couple of people we will sit with together," he said.

It is believed one of the ideas to spice up F1 is a 'success ballast' system, where drivers carry handicap weight according to their position in the championship.

If actually proposed, it will likely trigger controversy beyond even the scale of the much-derided 'double points', which is near-universally condemned for being too artificial.

"The teams get together, they talk about things," Red Bull's Christian Horner told Sky after Saturday's meeting.

"What we need is for the drivers to be the heroes. The cars should be secondary and to do that we need to give more access to the drivers. The fans have got to be able to engage with their heroes."

Team performance firing Lotus exit rumors – Grosjean
(GMM) Romain Grosjean has admitted Lotus' lack of competitiveness in 2014 is driving rumors he could be set to leave the Enstone team.

The Frenchman has emerged as one of the main players in this year's driver 'silly season', amid speculation he could be set to reunite with former manager Eric Boullier at the newly Honda-powered McLaren in 2014.

He has utterly dominated teammate Pastor Maldonado this year, but Lotus' dismal season was encapsulated in Grosjean's run to just fifteenth in Hungaroring qualifying on Saturday.

It does nothing to quieten the rumors about his next move.

"My priority is to win races in the medium term. Short and medium term," he is quoted by BFMTV in Budapest.

"I leave the door open to any nice option for the future. I want to win grands prix, to fight for the championship."

However, 28-year-old Grosjean is not writing off Lotus.

"I know that Lotus will not have a season next year as difficult as it is this year," he said.

"I know the team will react because it's still a very good team," added Grosjean.

"This is clearly an option and we will see what can happen.

"Last year I was not asked whether I am going somewhere else because Lotus was good, the car worked perfectly and there was no reason to change.

"Now it is true that with three years of experience in formula one I agree with (management group) Gravity that for the medium term I require that I am in a car that is able to be world champion," said Grosjean.

Hamilton: I will struggle to score a point
Lewis Hamilton has said that he will struggle to salvage a point from the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver, 14 points adrift of team-mate Nico Rosberg ahead of the race, suffered another Q1 elimination at the Hungaroring on Saturday, with his car erupting in flames during his first timed attempt.

Hamilton is due to start the race from 21st on the grid, ahead only of Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado.

"I bailed out of the timed lap that I was doing and I was like 'I'm going to try and do the second lap' then something happened to my brakes," Hamilton explained to reporters after returning to the paddock.

"Something on the brake system failed so I had to engage some settings to try and correct it then the engine died. So I thought 'I am right next to the pit entry so I will roll back and get them to fix it' but then I looked in my mirrors and it was on fire. I was hoping to get it in neutral so I could push it back or something but no luck."

Assessing his chances for the race, he added: "I honestly don't know what I can do tomorrow. This is a track that you cannot overtake on so I think I will struggle to get in the top 10 tomorrow, or at least the top five.

"I will probably leave here more than 20 points behind Nico, but there are still races to go. I will try my best."

Hamilton is a four-time winner of the Hungarian Grand Prix, triumphing in 2007, 2009, 2012 and 2013.

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