Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • F1 drivers getting tired of Hamilton's 'dirty' driving

    Hamilton sensed a safety car conspiracy

  • Lauda uses expletive to describe McLaren, Ferrari cars
  • Massa has 'no fear' of rising star Bottas
  • Rivals considered protesting Hamilton brake switch
  • Vettel admits new fuel gave no boost in Germany
  • F1 left to muse reasons for small Hockenheim crowd
  • Alonso urges Raikkonen to 'improve'
  • Button critical of Hamilton's 'dirty driving' after clash

Hamilton sensed a safety car conspiracy
(GMM) Euphoric at Silverstone two weeks ago when he pulled the gap back to just 4 points, Lewis Hamilton's mood dimmed once again on Sunday as he deficit blew back out to 14.

But after the Briton limited the damage of his back-of-the-grid start at Hockenheim by racing through the field to the podium, boss Toto Wolff advised him to not be too glum.

"I would be very surprised if it (the title battle) didn't come down to Abu Dhabi and to the famous double points," said the Mercedes chief.

"Even if you are behind 30 points, you can turn it around in Abu Dhabi. But the driver who loses on double points will need some psychological treatment," he smiled.

Still, Hamilton thinks a result better than third might have been possible in Germany, after seeing Adrian Sutil's stricken car.

A safety car would have ended championship leader Nico Rosberg's huge race lead.

"I definitely got a bit worried," the German driver admitted, "because I was sure there was going to be a safety car and that would have obviously made it a lot more difficult."

Rosberg wasn't the only one surprised, particularly in a sport that, in the name of safety, is prepared to delay a race for an hour to fix a damaged barrier.

"I was really concerned for the marshals — really concerned," said Hamilton, referring to Sunday at Hockenheim.

"It felt like the closest thing I have seen for a long, long time."

He said whizzing past marshals who ran across the racing line to recover Sutil's Sauber reminded him of footage of the 1977 South African grand prix, when a marshal and Tom Pryce were killed in a gruesome collision.

"That was the first thing I thought about," said Hamilton. "I couldn't believe it. How on earth a car can be sitting in the middle of the road for a couple of laps and not come out? I think you know why."

The Briton would not expand on what he meant by his final remark, but there was probably no conspiracy to protect Rosberg's race lead for a sure home win.

Mercedes' Wolff said not putting the safety car out was surely the result of a new effort by F1's authorities to reduce interference in the racing.

"Under the old spirit of the FIA," he told Auto Motor und Sport, "the safety car would have come out. But I think Charlie's decision was deliberately taken not to turn a race on its head with 15 laps to go."

But the lack of a safety car was not the only argument Hamilton found himself in after the German grand prix.

He also infuriated former McLaren teammate Jenson Button for their collision, for which Hamilton immediately apologized.

"The problem with Lewis is he expected me to let him past," said Button. "I don't think I'm the only person he drove into today.

"With his car being so much quicker you'd think he wouldn't get into so many fights, but there you go."

Later, after watching the replay, Button admitted he might have "overreacted".

Lauda uses expletive to describe McLaren, Ferrari cars
(GMM) Niki Lauda has used an expletive to describe the quality of the cars produced by Mercedes' grandee rivals in 2014.

The F1 legend is the chairman of the Mercedes team, whose W05 car is utterly dominating the sport this year.

"McLaren has the same engine as us and the car is sh*t," he told the Spanish newspaper El Pais. "Where are they? Nowhere.

"The same with Ferrari — another sh*t car. Next year will be different because they can change half the engine."

Lauda had been asked about Mercedes' huge advantage in 2014, and whether it is fair that the regulations restrict the rivals' freedom to fight back.

"The rules are written clearly," he said. "You cannot penalize Brixworth because others have been stupid."

But the situation has left Fernando Alonso as perhaps the most frustrated driver in F1, seemingly always stranded in a midfield car despite his talents.

"I'm sure he is very frustrated," said Lauda, "but the money he makes should help him.

"He can't just go to McLaren because he has a contract that he can't get out of unless he's sacked. Sometimes you choose a car and you're wrong.

"Remember Ronnie Peterson? He was the best but always in the wrong place," Lauda added.

When asked about Lauda's expletive-laden description of the 2014 Ferrari, boss Marco Mattiacci played down the controversy.

"I do not intend to comment on a phrase taken out of context in an interview," he is quoted by Italy's Autosprint.

"For me, Niki Lauda is an icon of motor sport, one of the most intelligent drivers of all time and my esteem for him is huge."

Massa has 'no fear' of rising star Bottas
(GMM) Felipe Massa insists his F1 career is not being put in the shadow by a new star.

The warring Mercedes duo aside, the undoubted star of the last three races has been Valtteri Bottas, a shy Finn who on Sunday completed a hat-trick of podiums.

Former F1 driver Patrick Tambay told RMC Sport he thinks Bottas, 24, is establishing himself as a "star for the next ten years".

"He's a tough competitor," Bottas' Williams teammate Felipe Massa told Brazil's Totalrace, "but I have no reason to fear him — no way."

The Brazilian, a long-time Ferrari driver until his switch to Williams this year, has had a much lower-profile season of results, including his spectacular rollover crash at Hockenheim.

"I know what I'm capable of, what I can do for the team, my speed," Massa insisted.

"I lack nothing to him. I've done as much as he did in the last few races, or even better," said the 33-year-old, who has scored 61 fewer points than Bottas so far in 2014.

"I have no concern with it," Massa continued.

"I am glad for what has happened to him because he has earned it through his work, but we could be ahead of Red Bull if everything that happened to me did not."

Massa said the situation is not as difficult to cope with as some previous bad seasons with Ferrari.

"It is more difficult when it is an issue about you, or you needing to improve," he explained. "For sure this period will eventually end. I have no concerns with my pace.

"If I was slow and I did not have the results because of my fault, it would be different," Massa added.

Rivals considered protesting Hamilton brake switch
(GMM) Two top teams have admitted they considered lodging a protest against Mercedes at the German grand prix.

With the 'Fric' controversy now in the past, the issue that rankled behind closed doors at Ferrari and Red Bull followed Lewis Hamilton's qualifying crash.

The crash was caused by a failure of the Mercedes driver's Brembo-supplied brake disc, so Mercedes opted to switch the Briton to Carbone Industrie brakes ahead of the grand prix.

Mercedes successfully argued that it should avoid penalty for breaching parc ferme rules because of a clause allowing changes if the new parts are "similar in mass, inertia and function".

Christian Horner revealed that he "absolutely" disagrees, particularly as both of the Red Bull cars were fitted with Brembo brakes throughout the race weekend.

"If you change it like-for-like that is one thing," he said.

"But if you change it for something made by a different manufacturer that has a different characteristic, and as described by the driver himself as something different, it is an interesting precedent."

Horner ultimately decided not to protest, but he is now calling for an FIA "clarification".

"We obviously now need clarification," he said, "because if you can do that, then what else can you change?"

Ferrari's Marco Mattiacci also admitted discussions took place about a potential protest.

"We decided not to move forward on this because I don't think we wanted to get into it," he said.

Vettel admits new fuel gave no boost in Germany
(GMM) New fuel did not give Red Bull the boost it was hoping for in Germany, world champion Sebastian Vettel has admitted.

Pre-Hockenheim, it was reported the new blend supplied by Renault's works partner Total would deliver a 12 horse power boost.

It did not materialize.

"I think it's not the last word on this," German Vettel told Auto Motor und Sport, "as there are reasons why it did not work out.

"Whether we find out in a week, it's hard to say," he added, referring to the forthcoming Hungarian grand prix.

"For sure it was a disappointment, as we had hoped for more. The big step didn't work out," said Vettel, "but I hope that it is coming."

A few races ago, reigning world champion Red Bull looked to have established itself as the first force behind Mercedes.

But Vettel says Williams is now holding that position.

"Absolutely. Their pace in qualifying is outstanding," he said. "But I think we can still catch up. But since Austria they have been right at the front."

Until now, Red Bull has pointed the finger at engine supplier Renault for its lack of pace. But Vettel now suggests Milton-Keynes has some more work to do.

"We have simply lacked grip," he said. "We slide too much. The others are doing better."

F1 left to muse reasons for small Hockenheim crowd
(GMM) Elsewhere in Germany on Sunday, the Nurburgring hosted an event called the 'Truck Grand Prix'.

Watching the unwieldy trucks from the grandstands were about 100,000 excited spectators — about twice the size of the crowd that gathered at Hockenheim for the 2014 German grand prix.

Bild am Sonntag asked Bernie Ecclestone where all the fans are.

"Obviously not here," the F1 supremo answered.

As far as some are concerned, notwithstanding the big crowds recently in Austria and Silverstone, the unpopularity of the Hockenheim race should be ringing alarm-bells for F1.

"The Austrian grand prix took at least 5,000 spectators from us," track boss Georg Seiler insisted to Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

"And the Olympic games and the world cup have just taken place. The world cup was the number 1 issue, with newspapers saying hardly anything about formula one," he argued.

Ecclestone agrees: "Germany won the world cup, and all the sports-mad people bought a ticket to Brazil.

"They're just worn out after so many major sports events," he added.

Both Seiler and Ecclestone also rejected the theory that ticket prices are too high, insisting the prices all over the F1 calendar are similar.

Alonso urges Raikkonen to 'improve'
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has urged teammate Kimi Raikkonen to "improve".

Spaniard Alonso has utterly dominated his fellow former champion at Ferrari since the Finn returned to the Maranello team for 2014.

He argues Raikkonen's struggles are now hurting Ferrari, who at Hockenheim fell behind Williams in the fight for third place in the constructors' standings.

"In the constructors' championship we have lost a bit of ground to Williams," Alonso confirmed to the Spanish sports daily Marca after the German grand prix.

"We have only been able to count on one car again and we have to improve on that."

Button critical of Hamilton's 'dirty driving' after clash
Jenson Button was left bemused by Lewis Hamilton's driving after the pair clashed during Sunday's German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.

Hamilton, who started 20th, was making his way through the field when he darted up the inside of Button at the hairpin, only for their cars to touch.

Both drivers were able to continue, with Hamilton apologetically putting his hand in the air when passing the next time around, but Button criticized the attempt.

"I think the problem with Lewis is he expected me to let him past," Button explained.

"I don't think I'm the only person he drove into today. It's strange, when the car's so much quicker you'd think he wouldn't get into that [many] fights but there you go.

"He drove into my rear wheel, that's all I've got to say. I'm out there doing my race. It would make it boring if we all let him past."

In his own post-race reflections, Hamilton conceded that he could have read the situation better.

"I had a bit of collision with Jenson but I thought he was letting me past – my bad judgment there," he said.

Hamilton has a history of banging into other cars when he makes passing maneuvers. This will continue until another driver says enough, and puts him upside down on his head.

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