Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Nico Rosberg

    Rosberg 'bigger killer' than Hamilton – Villeneuve

  • Ecclestone 'happy' if struggling teams collapse
  • 2015 calendar to have 19 races – Ecclestone
  • Sale of Schumacher medical file 'disgusting' – manager
  • Struggling Raikkonen 'should go home' – Villeneuve
  • Ferrari moves early to extend Alonso contract – reports
  • Williams settled for Mercedes defeat – Smedley

Rosberg 'bigger killer' than Hamilton – Villeneuve
(GMM) Nico Rosberg has put himself in a world championship-winning mood, F1 experts agree.

Despite most agreeing that his teammate Lewis Hamilton has the edge in raw pace, it is Mercedes' German driver who has scooped the most points so far in 2014.

That, in part, is due to Briton Hamilton's two DNFs, but Rosberg has finished every single race this year in either first or second place.

"The last time I saw such consistency," German-language commentator Christian Danner told Bild newspaper, "was Schumacher."

Another ex-driver, David Coulthard, thinks Rosberg's metronomic consistency in 2014 may even be a "strategy".

"Perhaps he has decided not to take the big risks in qualifying, play it slightly steadier, minimize the chances of making mistakes," said the BBC commentator.

But that's not all. Gerhard Berger is sensing a new edge to Rosberg's personality in 2014, after many were fooled by his "angel face" in past years.

1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve agrees.

"Like everyone, I thought Hamilton was the 'killer' of the pair, but Nico is showing this season that he's an even bigger killer.

"In the last three races he has shown that he can put the knife in the back as well," the French-Canadian told Bild.

"And that's what you have to do to be world champion in this business."

Given his pace, his experience and his 2014 car, however, Hamilton cannot be written off, even though his deficit to Rosberg has blown out to 29 points.

"I just need to pull my socks up," British newspapers quoted him as saying after the Austrian grand prix, "otherwise Nico will have it.

"I have had a couple of dodgy races, so I need to get it back to how it should be," Hamilton added.

But Coulthard, sensing that Rosberg has been deliberately avoiding mistakes, thinks Hamilton can no longer simply adopt a similar approach.

"Now the deficit in the championship has grown, it's difficult for Hamilton to change his strategy," he said. "He has to make sure he is winning grands prix.

"But if Rosberg does not suffer his own retirement, it is going to take a long time to claw back that gap."

Ecclestone 'happy' if struggling teams collapse
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has issued a stinging warning to struggling F1 teams.

Amid all the noise about the urgent need for cost cutting, the sport's chief executive insists he has no fear that some teams are facing financial collapse.

"I do not fear it," he told Kleine Zeitung newspaper. "I would even be happy about it.

"It's like a poker game — you don't know what the others hold in their hands. If you can't afford to be in this game, you should not be here," Ecclestone added.

The 83-year-old Briton made clear he is much more worried about other things, like the lack of noise from the new V6 engines, and certain rules.

"It's ridiculous," he says, "what drivers are being punished for — like driving over a white line. These are all drivers who don't need rules like that.

"We need rules like we had in the past," added Ecclestone.

Mercedes team chairman and triple world champion Niki Lauda could not agree more.

"We are losing the audience," he is quoted by Austria's laola1, "because there are no more racers.

"Bring back the old days when Piquet gave the others one in the head," said Lauda, undoubtedly referring to the day in 1982 when Nelson Piquet punched and kicked the helmeted Elisio Salazar.

1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve, however, does not agree with Ecclestone that the lack of noise from the new turbo engines is among F1's biggest problems.

"I've watched many races with the (television) sound turned off," he laughed in an interview with motorline.cc.

"To me, it doesn't matter as long as we see a good show. The problem with the new engines is that they give the impression that they have no power.

"The turbos in the 80s were not much louder, but when you looked at the cars, you could see how much power they had," Villeneuve added.

2015 calendar to have 19 races – Ecclestone
(GMM) The F1 calendar will not break the 20-race barrier in 2015, Bernie Ecclestone has revealed.

In recent years, teams have expressed concerns that organizing as many as twenty races in a single season would put unacceptable stress on personnel.

It won't happen next season, F1 chief executive Ecclestone admitted to Austria's Kleine Zeitung newspaper.

Asked how many races will be on the 2015 schedule, he said: "The same as this year — so 19."

However, that may be at the expense of one or two existing races.

When asked specifically about the reportedly incoming Azerbaijan, and the project in New York, he said: "We want to go to Azerbaijan for a street race.

"As for New York, we are still talking to them."

One provisional race date on the 2015 schedule is already known. Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper says tickets for the Austrian grand prix on June 21 are already on sale.

Mateschitz rules out 'Red Bull engine'
(GMM) Dietrich Mateschitz has put a line through rumors Red Bull is commencing a project to build its own F1 engine.

"It's not even worth denying these rumors," the Austrian billionaire told Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper.

Actually, a clear denial might have been necessary, given the fact his deputy Dr Helmut Marko stirred up the speculation in Austria, even naming local companies like Pankl and AVL who could play major roles in the V6 project.

"AVL is not a topic," Mateschitz is quoted by the APA news agency.

"They have a very specific know-how in the area, but to put together a team of experts to design an engine is much more complex," he explained.

"Just because of formula one, we are not becoming a car manufacturer," Mateschitz insisted.

More likely, it seems, is that the 'Red Bull engine' rumor was a way to ramp up the pressure on the team's existing supplier, struggling Renault.

Mateschitz says Red Bull's competitive problem in 2014 is all about the French-made V6.

"Our problems are beyond our control," he said.

"We have won the world championship with Renault for the past four years and so we are loyal to our engine partner. But the situation is serious," he added.

"The engine development must now be given priority."

Gerhard Berger, famously close to Mateschitz and once the co-owner of Red Bull's second team Toro Rosso, agrees that Renault needs to think again about the fundamentals of its F1 foray.

"Renault must look at formula one not with a business model and a strict cost-benefit analysis, but as a tool for its image," he said.

Sale of Schumacher medical file 'disgusting' – manager
(GMM) Media outlets are being offered a medical file about Michael Schumacher's condition for at least EUR 50,000, Die Welt newspaper reported.

According to another major German daily, Bild-Zeitung, the great German's manager Sabine Kehm described the news as "horrifying and disgusting".

In a media statement, she said the medical documents, which cannot be authenticated, are nonetheless "clearly stolen. The theft has been reported. The authorities are involved.

"We expressly advise that both the purchase and the publication of such documents and data are forbidden," added Kehm, threatening to sue those who ignore her advice.

London's Times newspaper said the file has been offered to publications in the past days in Britain, Germany and France.

Struggling Raikkonen 'should go home' – Villeneuve
(GMM) 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve has attacked Kimi Raikkonen for struggling to shine in 2014.

After two impressive comeback years with Lotus, Finn Raikkonen was signed for this season by Ferrari, for whom he won his sole title in 2007.

However, two years later Ferrari ousted Raikkonen, and so the news of his 2014 return was a shock to French-Canadian Villeneuve.

"Who would have imagined he even comes back to F1 in the first place?" the 43-year-old told Italy's Omnicorse. "Who would have thought he would return to Ferrari?

"No one — yet there he is at Maranello."

Villeneuve, however, said 34-year-old Raikkonen – the oldest driver in F1 today – has no right to be blaming the F14-T for his poor season.

"For him, the gas is either fully open or nothing," he said. "He is having a series of spins as though he is in formula 3.

"If he can't drive in F1 anymore, he should go home. He is a very experienced driver," Villeneuve insisted, "so he shouldn't be making excuses at every grand prix like a rookie does.

"He should take two or three races to change how he's driving, and if he can't, that's a problem.

"You can't go on like this when you're a world champion. You have no right to make excuses."

Villeneuve has a similarly stark opinion when it comes to Sebastian Vettel, the struggling four-time world champion.

He thinks Red Bull is beginning to turn its back on the highly successful German.

"He is a four-time world champion, but now Red Bull is treating him like they treated Mark Webber. They seem to have decided to focus on Daniel Ricciardo.

"Now they want to 'kill' Sebastian because he's not right for the Red Bull image," he said.

Villeneuve thinks Vettel must be seriously considering a change of team.

"Of course — you can't have another season like this. Even Helmut Marko has started to criticize him.

"When you lose the faith of the team and the politics starts to weigh heavily, you're finished," he added.

Ferrari moves early to extend Alonso contract – reports
(GMM) Ferrari has moved to extend Fernando Alonso's contract beyond 2016, according to reports in the German and Spanish press.

The correspondent for Marca, a Spanish sports daily, quoted one of his Italian colleagues as saying: "Well, then, that's the second time this year so far."

A Ferrari insider, however, insists the story is "not true".

However, it does come amid the latest reports from Britain that indicate Jenson Button's place at McLaren is not secure beyond his existing 2014 contract.

Ron Dennis undoubtedly wants a top driver like Alonso, Sebastian Vettel or Lewis Hamilton to lead the Woking based team into its new works Honda era.

Still, Ferrari insists it is not rushing to tie up the talented Spaniard.

"We have no hurry to renew with Fernando," a team source told the Spanish sports daily AS.

"He has a contract with us until 2016, we are focused on improving the car and nothing else."

According to 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve, however, Ferrari should be worried that doors elsewhere are opening for Alonso.

"I think Fernando is tired of working for nothing," the French Canadian told Italy's Omnicorse.

"It shows that he no longer has the joy of driving, as he did two years ago. Then, he carried the team on his shoulders, but last year he gave up.

"He no longer has the strength to drag the team along by himself," Villeneuve added.

But Villeneuve noted that, amid Ferrari's 2014 struggle, there might be light at the end of the tunnel.

"You can see that the work of James Allison is beginning to show," he said, "and that could motivate the driver.

"I think next year we will see a Ferrari in recovery — if Fernando has the patience to wait for the fruits."

Williams settled for Mercedes defeat – Smedley
(GMM) Williams settled for defeat to Mercedes in Austria, despite dominating qualifying at the Red Bull Ring.

Chief engineer Rob Smedley told Spain's EFE news agency that the Grove team was "not without problems" as it returned to the podium with Valtteri Bottas' third place behind the two Mercedes.

Some analysts criticized Williams for not pursuing an aggressive enough strategy for victory in Austria, but Smedley says that was a deliberate approach.

"We had to manage the car's systems, including brakes, tires and other things," he said.

"We had to be sure of finishing in third and fourth places, so we decided not to do anything risky to compete with Mercedes that could have meant we finished fifth, sixth or even lower," Smedley explained.

Indeed, Williams' big haul of points in Austria meant the Oxfordshire based team leapfrogged its grandee rival McLaren for fifth place in the constructors' standings.

Smedley insisted: "If we had reacted to (Mercedes') first stop, our cars would not have finished the race.

"Mercedes had their problems," he added, "but I don't think they were going at full speed."

Finn Bottas says he is not disappointed with his first F1 podium, insisting Williams can now build on the momentum.

"I don't think this is a fluke result," he told the Finnish broadcaster MTV3.

"The team has done a great job in bringing performance improvements to the car continuously. This is just the beginning," Bottas promised.

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