Latest F1 news in brief – Saturday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

06/21/14

  • F1 moves to eliminate ugly noses

    Renault 'definitely' 2015 engine supplier – Marko

  • Mercedes battle rages on Red Bull turf
  • Todt admits some F1 teams may not survive
  • F1 moves to avoid ugly noses in 2015
  • Drivers risk losing their times in Austria New
  • Safety car shakeup for F1 New
  • Mercedes still troubled by Montreal glitch New
  • Perez's five place grid penalty upheld New
  • Red Bull Ring pit entry altered New

Renault 'definitely' 2015 engine supplier – Marko
(GMM) Red Bull will "definitely" be powered by Renault in 2015, Dr Helmut Marko insists.

Reports emerged at the scene of the reigning world champions' new home race on Friday that Red Bull really is considering splitting with its current engine supplier and building its own turbo V6.

According to Marko, it's not as far-fetched as it sounds.

"We have a lot of very skilled companies (in Austria) concerning engines," he said at the impressive Red Bull Ring, the totally refurbished former A1-Ring.

"Pankl is about 30 kilometers from here," explained Marko, referring to Renault's existing turbocharger partner, "and AVL is 70 kilometers (away)."

Asked specifically by Martin Brundle if Red Bull is considering supplying itself with a F1 engine, Marko answered: "You should never say no. We are looking at all alternatives."

But even though it seems Red Bull has set this weekend's Austrian grand prix as the deadline for Renault to prove it is up to the task of matching the field-leading Mercedes, Marko clarified: "We will definitely go with Renault in 2015."

Germany's Bild newspaper, however, said Red Bull is serious in its contemplations about a bespoke engine.

"There are massive poaching attempts by Red Bull among the engine makers of the Silver Arrows (Mercedes)," a report in the daily newspaper claimed.

Renault, however, is not giving up. A new fuel supplied by partner Total is making its debut at the Red Bull Ring, reportedly delivering several additional horse power.

The French marque's Remi Taffin warned in Austria, however, that – because of the homologation rules – Renault's scope to make vast further improvements in 2014 is limited.

"It's not that we have switched to next year," he said when asked about the 2015 project, "just that we have a lot more freedom" when it comes to 2015.

"We know what we would like to change," Taffin explained. "We have to fix some aspects of the engine, but it cannot be done in two or three months."

Mercedes battle rages on Red Bull turf
(GMM) Since buying the defunct A1-Ring in 2004, Red Bull's Dietrich Mateschitz has ploughed a quarter of a billion euros into the Austrian grand prix, the local Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper claims.

"Millions more of his personal fortune," read the report, "he invested in local infrastructure, such as hotels."

While most have hailed the success of the impressive new 'Red Bull Ring', many say the traffic chaos so far this weekend has been a palpable downer.

But FIA president Jean Todt insists: "You have to acknowledge what Dietrich Mateschitz has done (for the sport): two teams, a great track.

"Because he's a perfectionist, the Austrian grand prix will also be perfect," he added.

Even so, not everyone is magnanimous. Mercedes, whose bookings at a newly Mateschitz-owned local hotel were reportedly cancelled just a few weeks ago, is not exactly playing ball.

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have steadfastly refused to call the circuit in Spielberg by its official energy drink-sounding name.

And Mercedes-Benz advertising hoardings near the Red Bull Ring feature the sole word 'Heimspielberg', meaning 'Home-game Spielberg' — undoubtedly a cheeky fly-in-the-ointment of Red Bull's PR masterstroke.

"That's Mercedes' style," said a sardonic Dr Helmut Marko.

Still, no amount of Red Bull-flavored irritation looks enough to topple the apparent absolute dominance of the silver cars this weekend.

Even Marko had to admit that the gap to Mercedes on Friday was "a shock".

He is hoping the warring Hamilton and Rosberg come to Red Bull's aid. "Hamilton needs to attack," said Marko, referring to the Briton's 22-point championship deficit, "but Rosberg cannot ease back too much.

"There is a certain urgency in the air," Marko sensed. "At some point something will happen, and we need to be on the spot."

Until now, German Rosberg has appeared the cooler of the silver-clad pair, but – clearly the slower Mercedes on Friday – he appeared to briefly lose his calm on the radio on Friday.

"I was cool as a cucumber — no tension," he smiled.

Hamilton, however, hopes his teammate and rival is in fact feeling the pinch — and the Briton is keen to add to the pressure if he can.

"For sure hunting definitely brings out the better side (of me)," he told British television after dominating Friday practice in Austria.

"When you're in front you feel vulnerable and you're open, any mistake you make you're going to be caught up. So hopefully I can continue to apply that pressure," he added.

Hamilton said his aim is not only to end Rosberg's new run of good form, but to utterly dominate the German — as per MotoGP's new sensation, Marc Marquez.

"I've just watched Marquez win seven in a row," he said. "That's inspired me. I thought, 'Jesus, I've got to do that'. That's my goal now."

Rosberg's goal, of course, is exactly the opposite — and he is also not adverse to adding some psychological pepper to the battle.

Asked about Hamilton's reaction to losing, Rosberg told the Spanish newspaper AS on Friday: "Well, I don't mind if he gets angry when I win.

"It's not pretty, honestly, but I'm very happy when I win, whether he is or not. (I mind) a little bit, but not much."

Todt admits some F1 teams may not survive
(GMM) Jean Todt has admitted some F1 teams are in danger of bowing out.

Despite the impressively rejuvenated Red Bull Ring, an air of slight melancholy has gripped the F1 paddock.

Television ratings are down, the new battery-powered 'green' era and Bernie Ecclestone's apparent aversion to social media is being debated, and seemingly desperate measures like artificial noise, sparks and standing re-starts are being seriously considered.

Against all that, the powerful teams look to have won their latest battle against F1's struggling minnows — the race to drive down the sport's huge costs.

The F1 Commission met in London last week, but – having already dispensed with the budget cap – almost every single cost-reducing counter-proposal was also rejected.

"I don't think we have achieved any measurable cost cutting so far," said Monisha Kaltenborn, boss and co-owner of the struggling Swiss team Sauber.

"I really wonder what the FIA is now going to do and how formula one is going to be governed in this respect," she added.

If that sounds like a thinly-veiled attack on president Todt's leadership style, the former Ferrari boss and Frenchman admits he is also frustrated.

"Some racing teams are becoming resistant to changes," he is quoted by Austria's Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper.

Many insiders have contrasted Todt's FIA presidential technique with that of his predecessor Max Mosley, who was more inclined to banging heads and provocatively forcing initiatives.

Todt admits the "resistant" teams have pushed against his desire for "a constructive solution that everyone can live with".

"I admit," said the softly-spoken 68-year-old, "these calls (for cost reduction) have been tougher than expected.

"I am aware that there will never be complete agreement," added Todt, "so I strive for the best possible compromise."

It seems the eventual outcome, however, is already known — no huge cost-cutting initiatives, but a trimming of the fat with things like non-European testing and further reduced wind tunnel time.

"It may be that some teams do not survive," Todt continued to the Austrian newspaper. "We have seen this situation often.

"But I am convinced that the present formula one is more stable than in recent years. And, yes, we want new teams in formula one."

Mercifully, two are at the ready — Gene Haas' American outfit, and a Romanian camp run by the former HRT chief Colin Kolles.

"The new US team will come in 2016," Todt confirmed.

"Also Forza Rossa of Colin Kolles (could enter)," he added, "if it meets the requirements, but currently they do not have a license."

F1 moves to avoid ugly noses in 2015
A quirk of the rules this season aimed at lowering the tip of the noses resulted in some controversial designs.

But on the back of criticism from teams and fans about the look of the cars, the FIA has now agreed to revise the rules for 2015 to try to eradicate the issue.

From next year, the noses will need to taper more linearly from the low tip to the front of the chassis.

As well as the new dimensional rules, there are also changes to make the crash test more progressive to prevent teams making the very end of the frontal crash structure too flimsy.

While the nose tip cross section remains the same at 9,000mm2, it will be lowered even further and will have to sit between 135mm and 220mm above the car's floor.

Furthermore, the tip must be no wider than 140mm, so teams will now have a choice of a wide flat nose, a tall thin one or rounded shapes in between.

Then the nose must widen to a second cross section 150mm behind its tip, which must be no less than 20,000mm2. Again a maximum width is stated of 330mm.

Both these cross sections will have to be symmetrical about the car's centerline, which effectively outlaws the Lotus twin-tusk style nose.

The remaining length of the nose going back towards the chassis must have a tapering cross section, so that the nose cannot suddenly slim or use concave shapes to reduce its aerodynamic blockage.

Lastly the rules prevent super short noses as used by Mercedes this year. The nose tip will have to start about mid-way along the front wing.

For the crash tests there are now demands for average decelerations for the first 150mm of the crash structure.

This means the thinner front section of the nose must be a useful addition to the crash worthiness of the car, rather than a thinner less structural part simply there to meet the geometric rules.

The result of this is that teams will have slightly less freedom to arrange the nose, while there will still be high or low noses, with flat or rounded shapes.

The variation will be far less than the visibly different concepts seen in 2014.

The way the new rules are worded means teams will most likely opt for a solution similar to the current Ferrari. Yahoo Eurosport

Drivers risk losing their times in Austria
Drivers risk losing their lap times during Austrian Grand Prix qualifying if they stray too far off the track.

As Formula 1 returned to Spielberg and the refurbished Red Bull Ring on Friday, a selection of drivers took advantage of the vast run off area at the exit of the sweeping Turn 8, which leads into the final corner.

But in a briefing ahead of Saturday's track action, FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting informed the drivers that exceeding track limits at the turn will not be tolerated, with any culprits likely to see their time deleted.

Safety car shakeup for F1
F1's latest idea to ramp up excitement levels looks set to get the green light, with a proposal to follow safety car periods with standing starts approved at a meeting earlier this week.

The idea to do away with rolling starts, which was first proposed by F1's Strategy Group, gained momentum when it was approved by the F1 Commission on Wednesday.

It now needs to be passed by the FIA's World Motor Sport Council when it in turn meets next week, although it's understood that the practicalities must still be worked on if the change is to be implemented next season.
There would be no change to the current procedure after the safety car's introduction – with cars being allowed to pit, form a queue behind the safety car and unlap themselves if necessary. Thereafter, however, they would form on the grid in race order and wait for the lights.

There's no doubt that the spectacle created by a standing start is behind the move, although it does raise the prospect of creating circumstances where even more accidents might occur.

Safety in the pit lane would also be an issue. At present, team personnel located on the pitwall must stand in the garage at the start of the race; presumably, then, they would have to do the same during subsequent starts.

Furthermore, concerns have been raised in some quarters that any advantage the race leader gains from dictating the pace prior to the re-start would also be lost.

Mercedes still troubled by Montreal glitch
(GMM) Mercedes' reliability worries are not over.

In Canada, Lewis Hamilton failed to finish, while Nico Rosberg nursed his ailing W05 to just second place as the otherwise utterly dominant German squad struck cooling problems with its energy recovery systems.

In Friday and Saturday practice at the Red Bull Ring, the problems were back.

"No, unfortunately not," said team boss Toto Wolff, when asked by the Austrian broadcaster ORF on Saturday if the Canada problems were fully resolved.

"We still have aches and pains that we have not resolved but we need to for the race. It's much like the cooling issues in Montreal.

"The sword of Damocles is hanging over us," admitted Wolff. "It's not dramatic, but it's costing us performance. We need to resolve it."

On Saturday morning, it is believed Mercedes' troubles contributed to Valtteri Bottas setting the fastest time in the final practice session before qualifying, even though Wolff said the Mercedes-powered Williams is simply "fast" in Austria.

Perez's five place grid penalty upheld
The FIA has decided to uphold Sergio Perez's five place grid penalty for the Austrian Grand Prix after reviewing his final lap collision with Felipe Massa in Canada.

Perez and Massa collided at the last event and the stewards opted to give the Mexican racer a grid drop for this weekend's event at the Red Bull Ring.

Force India confirmed on Thursday that 'new elements' were available and that they were to ask the FIA to review the decision. Perez and Massa met the stewards in Austria where it was decided that the original sanction was to be upheld.

"The driver of car 11 [Perez] contended that the new elements(s) evidenced that in defending his position he was exercising his right, under Article 20.4 of the 2014 Formula One Sporting Regulations, to use the whole track," read the stewards' report.

"However, it was clear to the Stewards that the defense of his position occurred in the braking area. Article 20.4 specifically states that any right to defend by using the whole track must occur prior to any braking area.

"Accordingly the driver of Car 11 was not entitled to defend his position in the manner he did."

Red Bull Ring pit entry altered
Drivers had been asked to ensure that they stayed to the right of the line – which started before Turn 8 – if they intended to come into the pits.

But the layout proved tricky on the opening day of practice with a number of drivers straying across the line in the final sequence of corners.

Following discussions in the drivers' briefing on Friday night, F1 race director Charlie Whiting agreed to tweak the line to make things easier for drivers.

The start of the line has been moved two meters to the left and now blends with the previous line at the corner.
Whiting has made it clear, however, that there will be no relaxing in the FIA's demand that drivers stick within the line if they are pitting.

Daniel Ricciardo said that the pitlane entry design was not ideal – and reckoned it may have been better to not have the line so early.

"I think we could enter from after Turn 8 rather than before it," he said.

"I wouldn't go as far as saying it's dangerous, I just think it could be better if we take the race line on Turn 8 and cut across for the entry there. It wouldn't hold up a bottleneck behind us either."

The exit of Turn 8 was also discussed in the drivers' briefing after a number of drivers ran wide there during Friday's sessions.
Following discussions with Whiting, it has been made clear that any driver who has all four wheels off the track at that corner will be deemed to have exceeded track limits.

Jenson Button said: "I think it is quicker with all four wheels off the track.

"Fair enough if we're allowed to do it, but the only problem is that it's not part of the track, so suddenly you arrive at grass in front if you've driven off the circuit onto the asphalt. That makes it a little bit more dangerous." Yahoo Eurosport UK

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