Latest F1 news in brief – Monday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

07/14/14

  • Nico Rosberg married his longtime girlfriend Vivian Sibold

    Montezemolo feels 'duty' to fix F1

  • Ecclestone plays down London GP hopes
  • Mercedes won't 'interfere' with title battle – Lauda
  • Raikkonen retirement talk 'not smart' – Hakkinen
  • Schumacher recovery 'would be a miracle' – Hartstein
  • Newlywed Rosberg 'over the moon'
  • McLaren proposed grid restart idea – Whiting
  • Pirelli can be ready for 18-inch debut in 2016
  • 'Zero' chance of Fric agreement – Force India
  • Alonso says Ferrari future not a priority New
  • McLaren still pushing MP4-29 development New

Montezemolo feels 'duty' to fix F1
(GMM) Luca di Montezemolo has warned he is prepared to take action to improve formula one.

Fiercely critical of the sport's direction, culminating in the new era of quiet, hybrid engines, the Ferrari president recently wrote a letter inviting the sport's major stakeholders to an emergency meeting.

Speaking with the German newsmagazine Focus, the 66-year-old laid out his repeated fears: "The rules are too complicated, the drivers have turned into taxi drivers.

"They must save fuel and tires instead of being fast. The teams have to decide how much fuel they're using and how many tires are wearing out.

"Before, it was the best man winning in the best car.

"Now, the viewers – the ones in the stands and the ones in front of their TVs – no longer understand. As it is now, we must do something. Otherwise formula one has no chance," he said.

Montezemolo said it is up to F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone to act, and "If he doesn't, I'll do it myself. I see it as my duty," he insisted.

"The need to do something to recover the lost charm of formula one is urgent," said Montezemolo.

At the very same time, there are those who believe Ferrari has more pressing issues to address, such as the pace of its F1 car.

It is believed engine chief Luca Marmorini has now paid the price of Ferrari's 2014 struggle by leaving Maranello, and the latest rumors are that designer Nikolas Tombazis and technical chief Pat Fry are also in doubt.

The trend has Ferrari insider Leo Turrini worried.

"I do not think the decline in performance can be attributed to individuals," he said in his Quotidiano blog, instead pointing out a culture change since the end of the ultra-successful Michael Schumacher and Jean Todt-led era.

Ecclestone plays down London GP hopes
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has warned that a F1 race on the streets of London is not just around the corner.

Hopes have been raised by British prime minister David Cameron announcing that major motor races on public roads can now take place with mere local permission.

Cameron was speaking at Williams' Grove headquarters, where he officially opened the team's new Advanced Engineering facility.

"More races, more events, more money coming into our country and more success for this extraordinary industry," he said.

Cameron's news is a boost for events like the new electric single seater series Formula E, who are planning a street race in Battersea Park next year.

"The news is good," F1 chief executive Ecclestone agreed, "but I don't know whether you'd have street racing because it's not cheap to put on something that's safe.

"Street racing is expensive," he is quoted by the Daily Star.

"It just depends on what we can come up with commercially because how are we going to fund it?" he added.

"If they ever get it together then we'll see what happens. At least it's a good sign, a step in the right direction."

A spokesperson for London mayor Boris Johnson said: "He (Johnson) is positive that London would do a spectacular job of hosting a grand prix.

"But it is impossible to say what the impact might be without detailed planning and research and the question of air quality and noise impact would have to be looked at very carefully."

Mercedes won't 'interfere' with title battle – Lauda
(GMM) Niki Lauda insists Mercedes' two drivers will continue to enjoy a free run to the 2014 title.

Amid Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg's ever-intensifying clash for the world championship, boss Toto Wolff warned recently that "transparency" within the Brackley based team was beginning to suffer.

"It's getting very competitive," he said. "Transparency is suffering a little bit and we need to make sure that this is not detrimental to the team."

Some interpreted that as a hint that an easing of the rivalry, for example through the imposition of team orders, might soon be put into place.

But team chairman Lauda is adamant: "The fight was always free between the both of them and it will stay like that.

"I've been asked this question 40,000 times," the great Austrian is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace, "and nothing has changed.

"If we were to interfere, we could have done it from the beginning of the championship. But we did not."

In the Hamilton versus Rosberg battle, the momentum had swung back in favor of the German driver, but Briton Hamilton closed the gap to a mere 4 points with victory at Silverstone.

"We are back to where we were after Monaco," said Lauda. "The fight will continue at full steam.

"We now go to Hockenheim, it may not be good for my heart, but it's fun," he laughed.

Raikkonen retirement talk 'not smart' – Hakkinen
(GMM) Mika Hakkinen has questioned countryman Kimi Raikkonen's admission that he will "probably" retire after the 2015 season.

Finn Raikkonen, who replaced Hakkinen at McLaren when the double world champion retired in 2001, said at Silverstone that he is unlikely to seek a new contract once his current Ferrari tenure ends.

"Everyone does what he thinks is right," Hakkinen said in his latest interview for sponsor Hermes, "but in my opinion that was not tactically very smart.

"If the mechanics and everyone else knows that a driver intends to just hang up his helmet in a year and a half, then they will probably pay more attention to the other driver, in this case Fernando Alonso," the 45-year-old added.

Hakkinen also thinks Raikkonen's admission reveals a lot about his current state of mind.

"When you start to think about quitting," he said, "it has a negative effect on your motivation.

"You find you can no longer focus on many things that you need to focus on in formula one."

But, unlike some others, Hakkinen does not think Raikkonen's huge crash at Silverstone was a case in point.

Some have criticized the Ferrari driver for the way he rejoined the track after running wide at the start of the British grand prix.

But Hakkinen said: "Silverstone is a good track, but why is there such a big bump?

"When a formula one car loses contact with the ground at speed, no driver can control it anymore.

"The race has just started and the drivers are full of adrenalin, so of course he wants to come back as soon as possible. I wouldn't blame Kimi," he insisted.

Schumacher recovery 'would be a miracle' – Hartstein
(GMM) Former F1 doctor Gary Hartstein has played down renewed hopes about Michael Schumacher's health.

The seven time world champion's wife Corinna had triggered optimism last week by appearing smiling and happy at an equestrian event, before telling a German magazine that her husband is "slowly improving".

Hartstein, however, has been a regular critic of the Schumacher camp's media management of the former Ferrari and Mercedes driver's brain injuries, in the wake of his life-threatening skiing fall late last year.

Schumacher, 45, is currently recuperating at a rehabilitation clinic in Switzerland, but Hartstein said: "Unfortunately, it is extremely unlikely that things with Michael are as good as everyone hopes.

"It is realistic that Corinna is getting in touch with him in some form. But anything beyond that would be a miracle," he told the German magazine Bunte.

Newlywed Rosberg 'over the moon'
(GMM) Championship leader Nico Rosberg has married his long-time girlfriend Vivian.

The pair tied the knot at the registry office in Monaco, where they share an apartment in the same building as Mercedes' other driver, Lewis Hamilton.

Bild newspaper reports that Rosberg, 29, and interior decorator Vivian Sibold who also runs an ice-cream parlor in Ibiza, will also celebrate their marriage with a church ceremony in the south of France in August.

"We are over the moon," Rosberg told his fans on Facebook and Twitter.

"It was very special to share our wedding day with our closest friends and family."

A photo of the happy couple can be seen here.

McLaren proposed grid restart idea – Whiting
(GMM) McLaren was the driving force behind F1's controversial move to introduce grid restarts next year.

Following criticisms of the change, namely that it is unfair or even unsafe, race director Charlie Whiting revealed recently: "First of all it has to be remembered that this was the suggestion from a team.

"I put it to the rest of the teams and they all agreed that it was a good idea."

The idea, with races to be restarted from the grid after safety car periods in 2015, was subsequently ratified by the World Motor Sport Council.

Whiting has now revealed the name of the 'team' who made the original suggestion.

"I was talking to someone at McLaren and we came up with this idea of how to make the show a bit better," the FIA official told the website of the new Russian grand prix.

"When you watch a race, what is the most exciting part? The start. So, why not have a second one?"

Whiting dismissed claims the FIA is compromising safety for excitement.

"If it's dangerous, you wouldn't even have the start of the race, would you?" he argued.

"I can't see any downside to it. It's been approved. Now we've got to work on making it work."

Pirelli can be ready for 18-inch debut in 2016
(GMM) Pirelli can be ready to supply low-profile tires to formula one teams by 2016.

That is the claim of the Italian supplier's F1 chief Paul Hembery, in the wake of the test of the first 18-inch prototype at Silverstone last week.

Currently, the sport's old 13-inch standard is enshrined in the regulations, but both from an aesthetic point of view and also to bring F1 up-to-date with modern technology trends, a move to a lower profile tire is now being considered.

But, last week, reports suggested 18-inch tires are unlikely to feature on the grand prix grids until at least 2017.

Indeed, Hembery admitted that lower profile tires pose a development challenge, because the current 13-inch design is more resilient and easier to handle.

"The FIA is talking about the 2017 season," he is quoted by Russia's f1news.ru, "and I think the decision will be made this year.

"This is a realistic time frame, but if the teams want – and we will try – then we could implement these tires already in 2016.

"We're going to run 18 and 19-inch with GP2 cars," Hembery revealed, "but it will still require a lot of research."

'Zero' chance of Fric agreement – Force India
(GMM) In the days and hours before scrutineering at Hockenheim, uncertainty reigns when it comes to F1's new technical controversy.

The FIA's Charlie Whiting has warned teams that unless they reach an unanimous decision regarding the controversial technology called 'Fric', the risk of protests in Germany and beyond will swirl around the paddock.

'Fric', or front and rear inter-connected, is a complex, hydraulically controlled system that legally mimics active suspension.

It has become almost widespread on the F1 grid, and yet the reasons for the FIA's sudden clampdown is the subject of intense speculation.

But at the end of the day, Whiting's position has pushed the teams into a corner: agree, or allow the specter of unpopular team protests to rule.

So in the past days, a concerted effort for unanimity has been taking place.

Russia's f1news.ru reports that seven of F1's eleven teams have unofficially committed to allowing 'Fric' to remain until the end of the year, before it is banned from 2015.

Those teams are reportedly Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren, Marussia, Lotus and Williams.

That leaves Toro Rosso, Caterham, Sauber and Force India.

It is rumored that, of the undecided teams, Force India does not even have a 'Fric' system aboard its 2014 car.

Asked by Sky if the Silverstone based team will protest, chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer said: "It depends if we're running it or not.

"We'll do what the majority want," he added. "But it's not about majority, it's about unanimity.

"I think the likelihood of unanimous agreement is zero. There will be people out there that will say if the FIA think it should be banned then let's do that."

Meanwhile, a McLaren spokesman told us: "As always, we'll comply with whatever the FIA decides."

Alonso says Ferrari future not a priority
Fernando Alonso says his main priority is improving Ferrari's current Formula 1 form rather than thinking beyond his current contract.

The Spaniard has performed strongly so far this season, but has been frustrated by Ferrari's lack of competitiveness.

His management courted Red Bull during last year's Hungarian Grand Prix after Ferrari hit a mid-season slump, and Alonso was later publicly admonished by Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo for criticizing the team.

McLaren is known to be interested in luring Alonso away from Ferrari in the future, but the double world champion says his focus is on trying to help Ferrari do better in the short-term rather than worrying about his own future.

"I'm not thinking too much on longer term because there are bigger priorities at the moment," Alonso said.

"I want to help the team and I want to score as many points as possible.

"We need maximum effort, and maximum concentration and team work to improve the car for next year.

"The future after 2016 is something that at the moment is not the main priority, but we will try to see what is the best solution."

Alonso also urged Ferrari to support new team principal Marco Mattiacci, who is undertaking a restructure of the F1 team.

"There is nothing we can do more than work hard and trust our changes and our people," Alonso added.

"There is always a program to follow, a direction to follow – sometime it's right, sometimes it's wrong, but we need to stay together and trust the direction Mattiacci or the group of people think is the best."

McLaren still pushing MP4-29 development
Eric Boullier has made clear that McLaren will maintain a high rate of development with its MP4-29 chassis, in the hope of gaining benefits for both the second half of the 2014 campaign and the 2015 season.

The team instantly improved on a torrid 2013 by finishing on the podium at the opening round in Australia, but it has struggled to consistently secure sizeable points hauls, leaving it sixth in the standings after nine races.

But instead of writing the year off, Racing Director Boullier says there are plenty of upgrades on the way.

"There are no short-term answers: we're still pushing the development of MP4-29, and are hopeful that the lessons we learn during this season will have a positive effect on the development of next year's car," he said.

Boullier is hopeful that, on the back of four races in the points, Germany will yield another positive result.

"It says a lot about the strength of our race team that we've recently managed to achieve some respectable results at circuits where we perhaps didn't expect to shine," the Frenchman went on to explain.

"We're aware that those results weren't fully representative of the pace of our car, but were achieved because our race team has the experience and commitment to make things count when it really matters.

"Even if, on paper, the track in Germany suits us better than it seemingly did in Great Britain, we still need to maximize everything to be in a strong points-scoring position on Sunday afternoon."

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