Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • 'Emotional' Hamilton on back foot for title – Walker
  • Mallya happy with Force India drivers
  • Zanardi looks forward to Schumacher recovery
  • Practice, test outings for van der Garde
  • Perez certain further strong results to come
  • Wolff: No room for error from Mercedes

'Emotional' Hamilton on back foot for title – Walker
(GMM) Nico Rosberg has put himself on pole position to beat his high-profile teammate to the 2014 world championship.

That is the view of Lewis Hamilton's countryman Murray Walker, the famous former F1 commentator, ahead of the 29-year-old British driver's home race at Silverstone.

Niki Lauda, a triple world champion and the team chairman at Mercedes, thinks Hamilton's home grand prix comes at "the perfect time", after his three-race losing streak to the on-form Rosberg.

"He has his home race and fans and he needs to make up ground to Nico," the great Austrian told the Mirror.

But Lauda admits that Hamilton's task is a tough one, given his 29-point points deficit to German Rosberg.

"Unfortunately it is," he said. "No question."

Worse still, after Hamilton suspected in Monaco that Rosberg made a deliberate 'error' to keep pole position, the latest conspiracy theory is that Mercedes' pit crew gave Hamilton deliberately slow service in Austria.

"In the race you cannot get paranoid," Lauda insisted. "I don't need to coach him. I've known him a long time and he's absolutely perfect in his head. He's highly motivated."

But Walker, arguably the most famous voice in F1 history, thinks Hamilton and Rosberg's respective personalities do set them apart as they battle in 2014.

"I don't think it is unfair to say that Hamilton is a lot more emotional about it and that can affect his driving," the 90-year-old told the Daily Mail.

"The more he is beaten by Rosberg, the more it could hypothetically hurt him emotionally, and that brings about more pressure.

"In a nutshell it is going to be very, very difficult for Hamilton to win the championship because Rosberg is a thinking driver. Hamilton is faster but I don't think he is cleverer than Rosberg," said Walker.

Mallya happy with Force India drivers
(GMM) Drivers at Force India and Williams appear unlikely to feature in this year's F1 'silly season'.

He may now be an 'ex-billionaire' as his airline sinks, and he is set to begin the new financial year by facing court in India as an alleged 'willful defaulter', but Vijay Mallya's Force India team is doing well in formula one.

"We are competing consistently against a team like Ferrari, which operates on a budget more than double of what we use," team boss Bob Fernley told the Indian news agency PTI.

"It goes to show that the smaller teams can compete against the top teams."

Indeed, Force India – based just a stone's throw from the British grand prix venue at Silverstone – is nipping at Ferrari's heels for third in the constructors' championship, and comfortably ahead of another F1 giant, McLaren.

The 2014 car is powered by the field-leading Mercedes V6, but Force India is also happy with the pair of drivers at the wheel.

"I have a great respect for Checo and his talent," Mallya, referring to Mexican Sergio Perez's nickname, said this week.

"He's a talented young lad and I'm happy to have him in the team."

Mallya also said he is happy with German Nico Hulkenberg, who alongside Perez completes Force India's new-in-2014 lineup.

"Nico's class is well recognized in the paddock," he said, "and he's scored points in every race this year."

Yet another driver not on the market for 2015 is Felipe Massa, who after a sometimes sputtering start after his move from Ferrari finally broke through with a popular pole in Austria last time out.

He spent last weekend at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, driving Damon Hill's 1996 title-winning car and reminding reporters that his new Williams contract still has two more years to run.

Asked if the German touring car series DTM might be an option for his future, Massa told Speed Week: "Of course, why not.

"I even thought about it last year when I didn't know if I would be staying in formula one. But I will be here (F1) for a few more years."

Zanardi looks forward to Schumacher recovery
(GMM) Alex Zanardi, horrifically and near-fatally injured in 2001, has wished his old rival Michael Schumacher well.

Three times during their respective racing careers, the Italian and German faced off on the circuits.

The first was as teenagers, at the wheel of European kart competitions. Then a few years later, in the early 90s, when Zanardi raced in F1 for Jordan, Minardi and Lotus.

And after Zanardi's ultra-successful American open wheeler career, the pair met yet again in F1, this time with Zanardi struggling in a Williams and Schumacher well on the road to the Ferrari-colored glory years.

Today, Zanardi has rebuilt his sporting life after losing his legs and nearly his life in a 2001 Champ Car crash.

Like Schumacher, who has just emerged from a six-month coma and is reportedly conscious in a Lausanne hospital, Zanardi spent time in a coma 13 years ago.

"I know Michael from childhood, in karts," he told Speed Week. "He has always been a person who does not give up.

"So I was always sure that his condition would improve and he would beat the coma."

Zanardi says he remembers little from his own coma, except extreme tiredness when he woke up, and then briefly struggling to recall how to do simple things on his own — like breathe and urinate.

Schumacher's coma, of course, has been much longer, and involving brain injury. But Zanardi has hope.

"I remember when I stood up on my new feet for the first time after the accident, it was during an event in which Schumi took part as well," he said.

"I remember how touched he was. So I want to tell him that I cannot wait to see him standing up, to see that it is me that is moved this time," Zanardi, 47, added.

Meanwhile, in the case of Schumacher's stolen medical records, suspicion has returned yet again to the hospital in Grenoble, where for six months the great German was in a coma.

Earlier, it was reported that Swiss ambulance staff may have photographed the doctor's letter during Schumacher's transfer from Grenoble to Lausanne.

But, citing police sources, the French newspaper Le Dauphine Libere claims the stolen letter – on the market for a reported EUR 50,000 – contained "spelling mistakes".

It seems the letter was in fact a draft, thrown in the hospital bin in Grenoble.

"So far, no one has been identified as the person responsible for the act (of theft)," Grenoble prosecutor Jean-Yves Coquillat told the French news agency AFP.

"The investigation is ongoing and far from over."

Practice, test outings for van der Garde
Sauber test and reserve driver Giedo van der Garde will return to the wheel of a Formula 1 car during first practice for the British Grand Prix.

Dutchman van der Garde is scheduled to take over Adrian Sutil's car for Friday morning's 90-minute session, before the German returns to the cockpit in the afternoon.

"It has been a while since I was in the car. The last time was at the test in Barcelona almost two months ago," said van der Garde. "I have to get back into the game, and I am looking forward to jumping into the car again."

The pair will also be in action at the post-race test, taking place from July 8-9, with Sutil driving on the first day before handing over to van der Garde for its conclusion.

Perez certain further strong results to come
Force India driver Sergio Perez says he is certain that the second half of the 2014 Formula 1 season will yield further sizeable points hauls for himself and the team.

The Mexican battled through the field to finish sixth at the recent Austrian Grand Prix, marking his fourth top 10 result in six races, while team-mate Nico Hülkenberg has scored at every race so far.

Given the VJM07's consistency, Perez reckons there is much more to come as the campaign moves on.

"In the last few events I've done really well, apart from Monaco, where we didn't have the opportunity," he said.

"We're getting there, but it's just unfortunate that we've been unlucky. In Montreal, for example, we were close to winning the race [before a clash with Williams rival Felipe Massa].

"I'm sure we can get some good results in the second half of the season."

Perez hopes he can give the team something to celebrate during its home event at Silverstone.

"We have been performing solidly on every track so far and I see no reason we can't put in a similar performance this weekend," he said.

"It's also the team's local race so this adds an extra motivation for us to do well."

Wolff: No room for error from Mercedes
Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, Toto Wolff, reckons events in Austria prove that the current championship leaders cannot afford to slip-up if they are to achieve their goal of winning the 2014 title.

Wolff has stressed several times this year that Mercedes must remain focused despite their apparent dominance and a couple of errors in qualifying by Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg meant that the Silver Arrows were pipped to pole position for the first time all season.

While Rosberg went on to lead a Mercedes one-two in the race, Wolff says the team must remain on form.

"We were delighted to get another top result in Austria," he said.

"Our weekend in Spielberg was one of the toughest so far this season, with a qualifying performance which did not match our expectations. To bounce back with another one-two finish was highly satisfying – particularly as our rivals pushed us harder than ever throughout the race.

"This demonstrates once again how crucial it is to remain 100 per cent focused on the task at hand. We can afford no mistakes if we are to achieve our goals, as there will always be someone waiting to punish those mistakes."

Wolff is expecting Mercedes' strong form to be carried into next weekend's British Grand Prix but remains wary that several teams will have extra motivation to achieve an eye-catching result.

"Our drivers are both particularly strong at this circuit and we can expect another tightly contested battle between the two of them," he said.

"Equally, many of our rivals see this as their home race and will be highly motivated to gain an advantage. There are certain teams in particular who have a record of success here, so we are taking nothing for granted."

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