Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Hamilton brags that he is better than Rosberg

    McLaren chiefs must 'try harder' too – Button

  • Mugello could step in amid Monza 'problems' – Malago
  • Hamilton claims more 'ability' than Rosberg
  • Raikkonen problems similar to Vettel's – manager
  • Susie Wolff determined to use 'super chance' on Friday
  • Another witness backs Ecclestone's bribery defense
  • Renault not to blame for Vettel's Austria problem
  • F1 paddock 'puzzles over' Caterham sale
  • Head of Renault Sport F1 departs, was he fired?
  • EMC furthers partnership with Lotus F1 Team

McLaren chiefs must 'try harder' too – Button
(GMM) Jenson Button has hit back at Ron Dennis, after the McLaren supremo warned the out-of-contract 2009 world champion to "try harder".

Speculation about the 34-year-old's future has intensified since Dennis told British television: "He (Button) is a highly paid grand prix driver, and yes, we're not giving him the best car, but he could do his bit".

At the same time, McLaren's new team boss Eric Boullier is making no secret of his discussions with other drivers on the grid — believed to be Button's fellow champions Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.

"It's my job to be in touch with the drivers," Boullier told the Telegraph.

"Let's say some drivers on the grid, yes, I am talking to them. As of today we just seek their position, because once again, we have to be the right package."

But Button suggests it is not fair to point only at the drivers, as he took issue with Dennis' plea for him to "try harder".

"I think everyone has to try harder, the whole team, we all need to try harder," Button told the Daily Mail.

"We are working hard, but to get back to the front, from the management down, we all have to try harder and get the best out of ourselves so that is hopefully what everyone is doing and I definitely am," insisted Button.

The British driver this week said he is "looking forward" to the start of the Honda era, but Boullier warned that McLaren cannot simply expect its looming works engine deal to power the team back to the front of the grid.

"Everything has to be perfect," said the Frenchman.

"We need to put all the stars aligned, which means the best drivers, best teams, best expertise, best engineering, everything the best. Then it's going to work."

Mugello could step in amid Monza 'problems' – Malago
(GMM) Ten million euros might not be enough to keep the Italian grand prix at historic Monza.

It is believed the governing FIA has some powers to protect some of the sport's most iconic venues, like Monza and also the likes of Monaco, Spa and Silverstone.

But F1 chief executive Ecclestone has been making waves in Italy by warning that his current commercial deal with Monza is "a disaster".

"I don't think we'll do another contract," he added. "After 2016, bye-bye."

Hardened F1 insiders have seen Ecclestone's hard-nosed negotiating tactics many times before, but he is under pressure from other potential grand prix hosts who are willing to pay more.

One of them could be Mugello. The circuit near Florence is owned by Ferrari, and Luca di Montezemolo has made no secret he would like it to be on the calendar.

Apparently close to Ferrari in recent times has been Giovanni Malago, the Italian Olympic chief who played down rumors the Maranello team is moving to muscle Monza out of F1.

"I rule out that Mugello intends to speculate on the issue on Monza," he is quoted by Tuttosport.

"But if there were problems that cannot be solved, it must always be taken into account that there is an extraordinary facility at Mugello.

"All of Italian sport, however, is rooting for the problems of Monza to be resolved."

Indeed, any suggestion that Monza could be axed is always guaranteed to touch nerves in Italy.

"Lombardy has always done its part for the Monza grand prix," regional president Roberto Maroni is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport, "but we hope that even the prime minister Matteo Renzi does not abandon his responsibilities.

"Monza is synonymous with the grand prix of Italy, and the economic reasons cited by Ecclestone are not acceptable or reconcilable with the history and the international role of Monza," he added.

For its part, Monza insists it is yet to speak directly on the issue of new contract terms with Ecclestone, Sport Business International reports.

Circuit chief Federico Bendinelli revealed that upgrades costing "at least EUR 10 million" will commence this year and "go on for the next four to five years".

As for Ecclestone's threat, however, the 83-year-old Briton "has not told us anything about this yet", he insisted.

"So we don't know what the new requests are for the Italian grand prix from an economical and commercial point of view," Bendinelli said.

Hamilton claims more 'ability' than Rosberg
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has stepped up the off-track battle ahead of his home grand prix, declaring he has "the edge" on teammate Nico Rosberg on sheer "ability".

It is the latest barb in the psychological war between the Mercedes drivers, as Hamilton faces the task of closing down German Rosberg's 29-point championship lead over the remaining eleven grands prix.

According to the Daily Star newspaper, Hamilton suggested much of his points deficit is due simply to his two technical retirements in 2014.

He doubts Rosberg will strike the same trouble.

"That would mean in the next 11 races Nico would need to have two he does not finish, and I do not think that is going to happen," said the 2008 world champion.

"I cannot rely on that, I just have to focus on doing better than him, which I am capable of.

"The edge I have is in my ability. That is the gift I have and I have to utilize it this year more than ever," said Hamilton.

Hamilton is expounding a common theory in the F1 paddock — that he has the slight edge on Rosberg in terms of sheer pace.

But another equally-common tale is that Rosberg often makes up for any deficit with a more calculating approach.

"Nico Rosberg is fast when he needs to be fast," agreed quadruple world champion Alain Prost, whose style of winning his four world championships earned him the nickname 'The Professor'.

"Above all he is very clever," Prost told Germany's Auto Bild Motorsport.

"Even when he had problems with the car in Canada, he kept his cool and brought the car home. That's the difference.

"It may be that Lewis Hamilton is just a bit faster, but Nico has the better overall package," he said.

Also well-placed to comment is Felipe Massa, who went head-to-head with Hamilton in 2008, and came tantalizingly close to depriving the Briton of his sole title.

"Lewis was a driver that maybe lost under the pressure when he was fighting for the championship in 2007 and 2008, but maybe he has a little bit more experience now," the Brazilian told the Daily Mail.

"I don't know if that will help or not, but for sure he has more pressure now than Nico."

Raikkonen problems similar to Vettel's – manager
(GMM) Champions Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel are suffering from similar problems in 2014.

That is the claim of Raikkonen's manager Steve Robertson, amid speculation that due to his struggles, the Finnish driver could be losing the support of Ferrari and beginning to cast eyes at a new project — world rallycross.

But also notably struggling in 2014 is Sebastian Vettel, the reigning quadruple world champion who has been humbled by Red Bull newcomer Daniel Ricciardo.

"It is true that Kimi and Sebastian seem to have a similar problem with their cars," Robertson told Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper.

"This new generation of F1 car has significantly reduced downforce at the front end, which has affected the driving.

"We can only hope that Ferrari is able to resolve it as soon as possible, giving Kimi a car the way he wants it to be," he added.

Indeed, 34-year-old Raikkonen was at the team's Maranello factory on Wednesday, but the focus was not just on improving this year.

"There was also time for Kimi to acquaint himself with the 2015 car," the Italian team said on its official website.

Susie Wolff determined to use 'super chance' on Friday
(GMM) Susie Wolff is "nervous" but "ready" as she prepares to break a long F1 drought this week.

At Silverstone, the 31-year-old Scot will be the first female driver in more than two decades to take part in an official grand prix weekend.

She will be driving the Williams in Friday morning practice, and intends to use the opportunity to prove she is up to the task of joining the grid in the near future.

"What is most important for this session is the team," Wolff, whose husband is the Williams team shareholder and Mercedes chief Toto Wolff, told Austria's APA news agency.

"But I am also ambitious. This is my chance to show what I can do. It's an opportunity not many get and as a woman I've had to work even harder to earn respect.

"This is a super, super chance. I have to show what I can do," she insisted.

"I'm nervous, but you need that adrenaline," Wolff said. "Honestly, I'm ready. The Barcelona test prepared me perfectly.

"Everyone thinks I need to show if I am fast, but I'm not going to go on qualifying runs. I am part of the team and I will do my program just as Valtteri (Bottas) would have.

"It's very important for me to return the car in one piece and not twenty!"

Wolff, who most recently raced in the German touring car series DTM, admitted it is her goal to eventually call herself a formula one race driver.

"Clearly," she confirmed. "But it's not easy — I'm realistic. It's a struggle because there are so many other talented drivers who are fighting for the same chance."

Wolff does, however, see a couple of things in her favor.

"Teams want lighter drivers," she told the Daily Record newspaper a few days ago, "which counts in women's favor, and physically we are catching up on the men.

"You need to be the complete package and bring in the right amount of sponsorship," Wolff added. "It would be a great marketing ploy to sign a woman, so you never know.

"The whole culture of the sport is changing and there are more female engineers and bosses. It's a great time to be a woman in motor sport."

Another witness backs Ecclestone's bribery defense
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone's run of good form in court continued on Wednesday.

Already this week, as the F1 supremo's trial resumed in Munich, the testimony of a former BayernLB official seemed to indicate weaknesses in the prosecution's claim that he bribed Gerhard Gribkowsky.

On Wednesday, the good news continued for the 83-year-old.

On the stand was Frederique Flournoy, a Swiss lawyer and director of Ecclestone's family trust Bambino.

Ecclestone has argued that he paid the $44 million to Gribkowsky only because the jailed former banker was threatening him over his personal tax affairs.

"Gribkowsky could have gone to the (tax authorities) which would have prompted them to rebound the investigation or issue a tax bill against whoever based on him as a witness," Flournoy explained.

Judge Peter Noll, however, told Flournoy he finds it "very difficult to comprehend" that Ecclestone took Gribkowsky's alleged threats seriously.

But Flournoy replied that UK authorities have "extreme powers", and so Ecclestone was rightly nervous about the prospect of an investigation.

"You can never be sure what the interpretation will be in the end," said Flournoy.

"We as lawyers know how difficult it is to prove that something isn't the case."

And yet another bit of good news for Ecclestone is judge Noll's apparent admission that the diminutive Briton – if he did bribe Gribkowsky – might not have known he was actually bribing a public official.

According to DPA news agency, Noll seems to suspect that Ecclestone – like many others – presumed BayernLB was not state-owned but merely a "normal" commercial bank.

The penalties for bribing public officials are considerably higher.

Renault not to blame for Vettel's Austria problem
(GMM) Renault was not solely to blame for Sebastian Vettel's problems in Austria last time out.

The reigning world champion suffered a momentary loss of drive in the opening stages of the race at the Red Bull Ring, later retiring to save "mileage"

Team boss Christian Horner said it was an "engine electrical issue, which we are yet to understand what caused it".

But when speaking with reporters immediately after the race, he made clear where his finger was pointing, saying engine supplier Renault's service in 2014 has been "unacceptable".

According to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, however, Horner was wrong to blame Renault for Vettel's problem in Austria.

Renault engine boss Rob White confirmed that when the German pressed the "overtake button", the "standard electronics" failed to properly interpret the message.

The 'standard electronics' in all F1 cars is supplied by McLaren subsidiary MES.

The Italian correspondent for Autosprint, Alberto Antonini, explained: "When Sebastian pressed the 'OT' button for more power, the system entered a kind of self-protection (mode)."

He said the Ferraris had an "eerily similar" problem in the opening stages of the Australian grand prix.

F1 paddock 'puzzles over' Caterham sale
(GMM) Heads are being scratched in the F1 paddock, the day after the struggling Caterham team changed hands.

Malaysian aviation entrepreneur Tony Fernandes' 100 per cent sale of the team was confirmed late on Wednesday, a media statement saying Caterham is now owned by "a consortium of Swiss and Middle Eastern investors".

The statement, however, did not name the investors, and sources insist they will remain 'in the background' while Caterham is run now by HRT's Colin Kolles and Manfredi Ravetto, and former Minardi driver Christijan Albers.

The veteran correspondent for the Swiss newspaper Blick, however, is concerned.

"The whole formula one paddock puzzles over these new investors," said Roger Benoit. "In the official announcement of the team, no names were mentioned."

Benoit is indeed not alone. Kevin Eason, the correspondent for the London newspaper The Times, said the lack of information about Caterham's new owners "will ring alarm bells".

He explained: "F1 insiders with long memories will remember the last time a Swiss-Arab consortium arrived in the sport."

Eason is referring to 2009, when a group calling itself Qadbak, involving controversial figure Russell King, bought Sauber from BMW only for the deal to collapse.

"Caterham's long-suffering staff will hope that this deal has more substance with their jobs on the line," he wrote.

Head of Renault Sport F1 departs, was he fired?
(GMM) Deep into its difficult first season of the new V6 era, Renault has made changes at the very top.

After premier team Red Bull's dismal showing at home in Austria last time out, disgruntled team boss Christian Horner declared: "There needs to be change at Renault.

"It can't continue like this."

On Thursday, as the F1 circus congregates at Silverstone, the news arrived — Jean-Michel Jalinier, Renault Sport F1's president and managing director, has retired "for personal reasons".

His replacement is Jerome Stoll.

Meanwhile, as Renault-powered backmarker Caterham's new management sweeps into the green-colored team, boss Cyril Abiteboul is returning to Renault to be managing director.

It is rumored 36-year-old Frenchman Abiteboul, who became Caterham team principal in late 2012, will lead a further restructuring at Renault as it moves to improve its current turbo V6 for next year and beyond.

Abiteboul started work at Renault in his early 20s, becoming executive director of the marque's Enstone based works team in 2010.

EMC furthers partnership with Lotus F1 Team
Lotus F1 Team technical partner EMC will feature on the sidepods of the team’s E22 for the British, Singapore and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix in a new deal which sees a further deepening of the partnership.

EMC appeared with increased branding on the E22 at the Canadian Grand Prix and the success of this activation has led to further planned initiatives to highlight the developing business relationship between the two parties.

Matthew Carter, Lotus F1 Team CEO:
"We are delighted to take our relationship with EMC to another level with this branding agreement for three of the most prestigious Grands Prix of the season. We are building a world class partnership with many interesting initiatives planned for the rest of the season and beyond. EMC is a phenomenal company with many strong assets to help Lotus F1 Team flourish in the future though the exciting technology and approach they bring to us. We are at a very exciting time in the team’s history with tremendous potential for the years ahead so it is particularly rewarding to work with a partner who shares our vision."

Jonathan Martin, EMC CMO:
"For the past year we have enjoyed working with Lotus F1 Team during a time when the transformational power of technology and innovation has never been more pronounced. EMC is looking forward to deepening our partnership with a number of exciting initiatives that promise tremendous opportunities for the team’s near- and long-term future. The EMC sidepod branding signifies our continued commitment to building a world-class partnership with Lotus F1 Team."

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