Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Max Verstappen

    'Fric' storm exits F1 with a whimper

  • Vettel blamed for turning off Hockenheim crowd
  • Verstappen says son Max 'hot' topic in F1 paddock
  • Ferrari 'needs' Raikkonen for 2015 – boss
  • Hamilton heads for therapy after Hockenheim
  • Red Bull-Renault partnership now in better health
  • Alonso hails Vettel's 'amazing' teammate
  • Ecclestone: No doubts over Russian GP
  • Horner thinks Mercedes cheated
  • Vettel out to keep up the momentum in Hungary

'Fric' storm exits F1 with a whimper
(GMM) As quickly as the 'Fric' storm swept into the paddock, it left with barely a whimper.

"It changed nothing," said Niki Lauda, chairman of the Mercedes team that supposedly would suffer most from the effective banning of the suspension technology.

"It just cost a lot of money," he told German television RTL.

Indeed, Nico Rosberg dominated the German grand prix without the sophisticated 'Fric' system that was present for the silver W05's eight other wins in 2014.

"It was said that Mercedes has the most complex system – the best system – but the hierarchy has apparently not shifted at all," said commentator Marc Surer on German television Sky.

Even Mercedes' rivals agree.

"To be honest, it seemed to have changed nothing with us," said Red Bull team boss Christian Horner. "It had no effect.

"So now we have two kilos less ballast!"

Vettel blamed for turning off Hockenheim crowd
(GMM) World champion Sebastian Vettel is copping some of the blame for the small crowd at Hockenheim last weekend.

After buzzing atmospheres and big crowds in Canada, Austria and Silverstone, the empty seats for the German grand prix were conspicuous.

"Maybe they are all hung over from the world cup," said Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.

Or maybe the German fans listened to their reigning world champion.

Early this year, as F1 mulled the controversial switch from screaming V8s to quiet V6 engines, Red Bull driver and German Vettel said the sport now sounds "sh*t".

"That doesn't help, no," said Mercedes' Toto Wolff.

"We talked the sport down at the beginning of the year, and many of us are to blame."

The smaller crowd in 2014 is likely to push Hockenheim – having managed to just break even with 10,000 more spectators two years ago – back into the red.

"It certainly didn't really help that Sebastian in his frustration about the new F1 and his car gave loads of interviews about how bad formula one is now and that it's not worth going there," said Katja Heim, a circuit advisor.

"As a four times world champion from Germany, people believe him more than they would the sales people," she told Reuters.

But Heim admitted there are many other factors at play, even if she advised formula one to work hard to be "cooler".

Georg Seiler, the Hockenheim boss, agrees with that.

"When you are missing 10,000 fans, the reasons are not all formula one," he is quoted by Die Welt newspaper.

Germany's other F1 circuit, the Nurburgring, insists it is not worried.

"Last year we had a total of 110,500 fans," new circuit owner Capricorn's Carsten Schumacher told SID news agency.

"So I wouldn't speak about a 'German problem'.

"I think there is nothing wrong with the interest of motor sport fans in Germany and other European countries.

"But maybe we need to think about making the program on the race weekends more interesting," he added.

It seems that work has already begun. With immediate and noticeable effect, the FIA and race stewards are being much more lenient when it comes to penalizing drivers for on-track misdemeanors.

"We want to see real sport again," F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport, "and not interference with each little incident."

F1 legend Niki Lauda said recently he would like to see every major rule change of the past decade revisited.

Another 'purist', Gerhard Berger, agrees that innovations like DRS and double points are "Nonsense".

"Everything that is artificial is not accepted by the fans," he told Rheinische Post.

"Formula one is overregulated and soft," Berger charged.

He compared a MotoGP rider, who breaks his shoulder but is back on the saddle the next day "with us, where you get a drive through penalty if you drive closer than 10 centimeters to another car".

Verstappen says son Max 'hot' topic in F1 paddock
(GMM) Jos Verstappen thinks his son is a "hot" topic in the F1 paddock.

The Dutchman is perhaps best known for struggling in F1 with a bevy of midfield teams.

But his 16-year-old son Max has made an impressive transition from karts to single seaters this year, winning no fewer than 7 races in European F3.

De Telegraaf newspaper reports that Jos and Max were at Hockenheim last weekend "at the invitation of several formula one teams".

Verstappen snr, 42, told of how the pair walked through the paddock and were constantly stopped by well-known figures including Rubens Barrichello, Johnny Herbert and Jacques Villeneuve.

"They seemed to know everything about Max," said Jos, "which is very nice to see.

"Max is hot, that much is clear."

De Telegraaf also reports that the Verstappen duo sat down at Hockenheim with none other than Dr Helmut Marko, the head of Red Bull's famous driver development program.

"When the time is right," Jos said, "we will bite the bullet, but not before."

Ferrari 'needs' Raikkonen for 2015 – boss
(GMM) Marco Mattiacci has hit back at suggestions Ferrari could or should plan its revival for the 2015 season without Kimi Raikkonen.

Lamenting the Maranello team's slip behind Williams for third in the constructors' chase, Fernando Alonso said at Hockenheim that Ferrari has "only been able to count on one car again and we have to improve on that".

It might be concluded that Spaniard Alonso wants a more competitive teammate for 2015, but new Ferrari boss Mattiacci has moved swiftly to end those sorts of rumors.

When told by the Spanish sports daily Marca that the mid-season scorecard between Alonso and Raikkonen reads "10:0", Mattiacci insisted: "This is not football.

"In F1 we don't speak in those terms.

"Yes, I want better results, but Kimi is the driver that Ferrari needs for next year."

And La Gazzetta dello Sport also quotes the Italian as saying: "We believe in him, he is a world champion, he is part of our present and our future."

But that doesn't mean Ferrari is not planning big changes for 2015, including significant improvements to the turbo V6 and the first car designed fully under the technical directorship of James Allison.

"He (Allison) is working very hard on the car for next year," a team source told the Spanish sports daily AS.

"It will be his first car for us and we have very high hopes."

Hamilton heads for therapy after Hockenheim
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton is planning a week of physiotherapy following his drive through the field after a hefty qualifying crash at Hockenheim.

Even before the race, the Mercedes driver reportedly had acupuncture, to help with the pain of the 30G smash into the barriers caused by brake failure.

"My knees are no problem," he said, "but my back and my neck have been the issue really.

"I do need some physiotherapy as my back is in more pain than normal. But I'll be ok, I'll get some work done this week."

Also on the Briton's agenda will be some therapy to heal his run of bad luck.

He won at Silverstone to peg back championship leader Nico Rosberg's momentum, but the brake failure was just another black mark against Hamilton's name as the pair fight for the 2014 title in the dominant W05s.

"Maybe I need to go and visit some Indians, or rub the Buddha belly. I'll try all the different religions to see if I can get some luck," Hamilton joked.

But physio and prayers aside, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff thinks Hamilton will need serious treatment in November if he loses out to Rosberg as a result of the Bernie Ecclestone-sponsored 'double points' finale in Abu Dhabi.

"It looks like Bernie might be right," said Wolff after Hockenheim. "The last race is going to be the decisive one.

"I don't think it's fair. I don't think we (F1) should have done it.

"Neither of them will care if they won it that way. But the one who loses on double points will need some psychological treatment," he smiled.

Red Bull-Renault partnership now in better health
(GMM) The relationship between Red Bull and Renault appears to be in better health.

Mere weeks ago, as the French supplier struggled with its new turbo V6 'power unit', talk of a split in the four-time title winning partnership was rife.

But that was before a raft of changes.

Former Caterham boss Cyril Abiteboul, for one, has returned to Renault, while president Jean-Michel Jalinier has left.

"There was some appetite at Renault to turn around what is happening on the track," Frenchman Abiteboul, now wearing a Renault shirt, said at Hockenheim.

And according to paddock rumors, Abiteboul is not the only fresh face at Renault.

Red Bull definitely sounds happier.

"The change in management is very positive," team boss Christian Horner said. "They are embracing the fact there is an issue and they are looking to make changes to make sure we close that gap to Mercedes.

"That will take time but the right attitude is there now and we should make progress.

"We had a very small step but we have to keep working," added Horner.

Alonso hails Vettel's 'amazing' teammate
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has hailed the "amazing" job being done this year by Daniel Ricciardo.

At Silverstone, Spaniard Alonso's wheel-to-wheel duel with world champion Sebastian Vettel was littered with radio complaints about one another's driving.

But after Hockenheim, where the Ferrari driver had a similarly thrilling battle with Vettel's new teammate Ricciardo, Alonso had nothing but praise for the Australian.

Alonso hailed Ricciardo's driving, always with "great respect to the rules and to others".

"He is a surprise and doing amazing," the double world champion is quoted by the Spanish sports daily Marca.

"I believe he is 7:3 in the first ten races against Sebastian, which is something none of us expected.

"He is doing a great job, driving fantastically and, yes, fighting with intelligence," added Alonso.

Ecclestone: No doubts over Russian GP
Bernie Ecclestone says he has no doubts over the Russian Grand Prix following the MH17 tragedy.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam, crashed in eastern Ukraine, near the country's border, last Thursday, with pro-Russian separatists accused of shooting down the plane.

Since the incident, there has been speculation as to whether the Grand Prix, a long-term project of President Vladimir Putin, would remain on the Formula 1 calendar, but Ecclestone does not foresee any problems.

"I don't see any problems with that," Ecclestone told Adam Cooper's F1 Blog. "Were they [Russia] in the World Cup or not? You would have thought people would have tried to stop it, wouldn't you? Like I've said, we don't get involved in politics. We have a contract with them, which we know they will respect. And we will do the same."

Ecclestone also played down suggestions that Putin's close ties to the race would draw lots of attention.

"Not as far as I'm concerned, personally," he said. "We shouldn't speculate as to what could happen. We will honor our contract. Mr. Putin personally has been very supportive and very helpful, and we will do the same."

Horner thinks Mercedes cheated
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has asked the FIA to clarify why Lewis Hamilton was allowed to switch brake suppliers without penalty prior to Sunday's German Grand Prix.

Hamilton crashed out in qualifying when he suffered a right-front brake disc failure and he then opted to ditch the product supplied by Brembo, albeit only the fronts, and switch to those made by Carbon Industrie.

Horner believes this has now set an "interesting precedent".

"Absolutely," he told reporters at Hockenheim when asked if he was shocked with the decision to allow Mercedes to make the change without forcing the team to start Hamilton from the pit lane.

"It was a change of car-spec. If you change it like-for-like is one thing, but if you change it for something that is made by a different manufacturer and has a different characteristic, as described by the driver himself, then that is something very different.

"It is an interesting precedent."

Horner also rejected the notion the change was allowed on safety grounds.

"We are running the same material on both of our cars as Lewis was yesterday, so it was safe on our car," he pointed out.

"I think we are going to need clarification, because obviously if you can do that then what else can you change?

"It will be interesting to see what the justification of that allowance was."

Vettel out to keep up the momentum in Hungary
Sebastian Vettel says he will work hard this coming weekend to "keep up the momentum" and get another strong result in Hungary.

Vettel has racked up 22 points so far in July and, after taking a fifth place in the British Grand Prix and fourth in the German Grand Prix on Sunday, will be out to go one better again at the Hungaroring and repeat what he achieved in Canada and Malaysia, when he was third and on the podium.

"The Hungarian GP is the last race before the summer break so we will be working hard to keep up the momentum and have a good result to enjoy over the holidays," said the reigning World Champion.

"It is normally hot in Hungary for the race which makes it a challenge to drive, but I like the race and atmosphere at the Hungaroring, and have good memories of the races there even though I have never won in Budapest – it is still on my to do list!

"It is quite a slow track but also one that can catch you out. It has some tight, twisty corners and is quite a bumpy track, so you cannot underestimate it."