Latest F1 news in brief – Friday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

06/06/14

  • The Mercedes advantage is so great Montreal will be another boring 1-2 parade

    Ecclestone offered to pay to prevent trial

  • Mercedes drivers say Monaco 'war' over now
  • Hamilton expects Mercedes to dominate in Canada
  • Ferrari must move attention to 2015 – Alonso
  • 'No progress' on McLaren contract talks – Button
  • 'Up to Vettel' to 'go faster' in 2014 – Newey
  • Raikkonen says his F14 T issues have been overblown
  • Alonso backs Mattiacci New
  • Pirelli confirms tire nominations for next four races New

Ecclestone offered to pay to prevent trial
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone says he offered to pay more than $40 million to stop the Gerhard Gribkowsky bribery affair.

Writing in the Independent newspaper, F1 business journalist Christian Sylt said the money Ecclestone used to pay the jailed banker was funded by his commission for the sale of BayernLB's commercial rights.

Prosecutors allege Ecclestone was bribing Gribkowsky, but the 83-year-old F1 'supremo' says the jailed German was in fact extorting him.

Either way, Ecclestone admits he offered to pay the money back.

"I don't know why I offered to pay back the commission," he said.

"Early on we said (we will do it) if that is what is necessary to get this rubbish out of the way."

The Munich authority's indictment against Ecclestone confirms that Ecclestone did in fact offer to pay back the money "including interest".

Mercedes drivers say Monaco 'war' over now
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton confirmed on Thursday that, after their relationship hit a high-profile low in Monaco, he and teammate Nico Rosberg are now "friends" again.

After his Monaco fury, Briton Hamilton issued a 'tweet' last week that suggested their row was now over, but some wondered if the 2008 world champion had in fact drafted the message himself.

He told reporters in Montreal: "There's not really much to say. I said it in my (Twitter) message.

"We spoke after the race and just like friends we have our ups and down, we've known each other a long, long time, so it's done and dusted", Hamilton added.

On Thursday, Hamilton and Rosberg sat side by side during an autograph session with fans at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, and the previous night they both attended a team dinner in the city.

Rosberg wrote in his Daily Mail column: "I am quite neutral about my relationship with Lewis Hamilton.

"Our strength is that we always talk about what has happened and go through things as we did when we were both 14."

The German suggested he is prepared to keep his relationship with Hamilton amiable for the sake of the "team spirit" at dominant Mercedes.

"Everybody in the team knows that being successful depends on getting every detail right. One of those details is the team spirit and we are enjoying our success but also working hard to keep our feet on the ground," said Rosberg.

However, Rosberg acknowledged to reporters in the paddock that his relationship with Hamilton, who accused him of sabotaging his qualifying lap in Monaco, is now "more difficult".

But he also said: "You (reporters) are all trying to build it into a war which I can understand because it makes it all the more exciting but I want to try and avoid putting extra fuel on it.

"I was in the factory this week talking to everybody and for them the constructors' (championship) is so important so if we take each other out, for all our team members that would be a disaster.

"In the end we are a team and I do think about everybody else too," Rosberg added.

However, according to Hamilton's last teammate Jenson Button, only those behind closed doors at Mercedes will really know the state of the drivers' relationship.

"You've got to be very careful with what you say about your teammate," he is quoted by the Telegraph. "You might say it in a jokey way but it's taken seriously.

"Maybe they are fine, maybe they have sorted it out face to face," said Button.

Hamilton expects Mercedes to dominate in Canada
(GMM) Even Montreal favorite Lewis Hamilton admits Mercedes will be almost unbeatable this weekend.

Challengers Red Bull looked closer to the pace at tight and twisty Monaco, but on the long straights of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, the struggling Renault 'power unit' is expected to be totally outclassed.

Asked if the top end of the grid will be as close in Montreal as it was in Monaco, Briton Hamilton said on Thursday: "I'd be guessing but I don't feel that will be the case.

"Renault and Ferrari would have to have done an exceptional job coming into this weekend to be able to keep up with us on the straights," he added.

Indeed, Mercedes' rivals like world champion Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) and Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) on Thursday conceded that Mercedes' advantage will surely be even more out of reach as the turbo V6s push significantly past 300kph.

Vettel said he cannot think of a more one-sided year without going back several decades.

"No one was as dominant since 1988," the German, referring to McLaren's memorable fight between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, is quoted by Speed Week.

"The gap is very big," said Vettel.

That is why there is so much attention at present on the inter-Mercedes relationship between warring teammates Hamilton and championship leader Nico Rosberg.

"For sure it would be good for us and everyone else on the grid if they take each other out," admitted Vettel, "but I don't think it will happen.

"They are both smarter than that," said the German.

"You should not be at war with your teammate as it hurts the atmosphere in the team. But you don't have to be best friends," added Vettel, who in the past years had a fraught relationship with former teammate Mark Webber.

Looking at the Hamilton versus Rosberg head-to-head for Montreal, it would appear that the smart money is on the Briton to reclaim the title lead this weekend.

Rosberg won the last two Monaco grands prix, but in Montreal he has never finished higher than P5.

Hamilton, on the other hand, has won at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve no fewer than three times.

Rosberg said: "For me, he (Hamilton) is not the favorite. I'm here to win."

As far as Alonso is concerned, F1 should at least be grateful that Hamilton and Rosberg are at loggerheads.

"Their rivalry is good for the media," he is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport, "because this year the races are not too exciting with a Mercedes that dominates so much."

Ferrari must move attention to 2015 – Alonso
(GMM) Ferrari is already turning its attention to 2015.

That is the claim of the Italian team's lead driver Fernando Alonso, after his teammate Kimi Raikkonen recently ruled out his chances of the 2014 title.

Canada, however, was earmarked as a crucial weekend for the Maranello outfit, with changes to the struggling F14-T car so significant that some reports are referring to a 'B' model.

But with Mercedes so far ahead this season, Alonso suggested that Ferrari's mind is now turning considerably to 2015.

"We need to keep fighting for important goals and we have targets to achieve this year," he said on Thursday.

"However we must not compromise next year's project this year."

Alonso explained that the 2014 car should still be developed, because similar rules next year mean that many of the improvements can "carry over".

"But if there is something fundamental for next year," he added, "obviously we mustn't take any time away from that."

Alonso's openness about 2015 indicates he will be staying in red beyond this year, despite rumblings in the press about moves elsewhere, perhaps to McLaren.

It has been claimed his relationship with president Luca di Montezemolo is strained, and that he did not support friend Stefano Domenicali's ousting in favor of new team boss Marco Mattiacci.

But Alonso told the BBC on Thursday that he has "zero problems" with Montezemolo.

And as for Mattiacci, "everything is moving in the right direction", he insisted.

"He has good vision and a very clever approach and we are going to be stronger and stronger," Alonso added.

'No progress' on McLaren contract talks – Button
(GMM) Jenson Button says there has been "no progress" recently regarding his contract talks with McLaren.

With Kevin Magnussen having debuted for the Woking team in 2014, it has been rumored McLaren supremo Ron Dennis perhaps wants to pair the young Dane with Fernando Alonso next season.

Indeed, with Button out of contract at the end of the season, and set to turn a stately 35 before the 2015 championship, it appears the Briton is the logical target should McLaren be considering a cockpit vacancy.

But, just last week, team boss Eric Boullier said in McLaren's official Montreal preview statement that Button in fact "continues to be an absolutely fantastic ambassador" for McLaren, who are switching to works Honda power in 2015.

"Not only is he a fantastic driver," Boullier added, "he's also somebody with the feel and experience to steer the team and give it direction for development.

"His input has been invaluable, and he remains a tireless contributor."

Asked if that sounds as though McLaren is moving to re-sign the 2009 world champion, Button said on Thursday: "Er, no.

"No more progress at all. But that's just the way it is.

"We're here, in our fifth good year together. And we both want to work together in the future but it's just not time yet. Not the right time," he insisted.

"We have a lot of other issues to solve first before we start thinking about the future too much," said Button.

At the very least, Button indicated that he is keen to stay in formula one beyond 2014, with next season set to be his sixteenth on the grid.

"I still feel very young at heart, fitter than ever and I have all that experience," he said.

"I definitely can't see an end to my career. This is my life and where I want to be in the future."

'Up to Vettel' to 'go faster' in 2014 – Newey
(GMM) World champion Sebastian Vettel has been told to step on the gas by Red Bull's technical 'genius' Adrian Newey.

German Vettel has borne the brunt of the team's reliability troubles in 2014, but his superiority has also been genuinely challenged by Red Bull newcomer Daniel Ricciardo.

Asked if that has surprised him, Vettel said in Montreal: "Actually no.

"It is good to see that Daniel fits in well with the team and has similar tastes to me when it comes to tuning the car," he is quoted by Speed Week.

"And it's nice to see that he does a good job," added Vettel.

"In the first few races I've had problems with many things, but it's comforting to realize that he is able to use the potential of the car."

Asked if he has at times been watching Ricciardo's style and telemetry, Vettel smiled: "All the time!

"There are clearly areas where he is very fast, so it's good to have a reference in relation to our car. For me, it has not been the best year so far.

"With Mark (Webber), it was always the case that he was very good in the fast corners, as he sometimes was showing me the limits. But with Daniel and me, it is quite balanced," added Vettel.

According to Dr Helmut Marko, the staunch Vettel ally and Red Bull director, Vettel is driving as well as ever in 2014.

"There's nothing wrong with him," he told Die Welt newspaper.

"He has just had a lot of bad luck. He is a strong guy, but the whole situation is not easy for him.

"If you ask me about his driving skills, there are no problems at all."

But Newey, Red Bull's highly respected technical boss, suggested there is "no more time to lose" as Vettel gets up to speed with F1's all-new era.

"Sebastian must quickly learn how to drive this car," the Briton is quoted by Italy's Tuttosport. "There is no more time to lose.

"We will do everything to give him a car that fits his driving style," Newey added, "but then it's up to him to go faster."

Raikkonen says his F14 T issues have been overblown
Kimi Raikkonen says the media's reports of why he has struggled on his return to Ferrari have been misleading, suggesting instead the car is just not quick enough for him to be competitive.

There were high expectations coming into the season's about Raikkonen's partnership with Fernando Alonso, but so far the Finn has struggled to match his team-mate and has seemed off his best behind the wheel of the F14 T. The brake-by-wire system and adapting his driving style to the new cars have been reported as areas Raikkonen has struggled with but he says the issue is Ferrari's pace.

"The things that you people say are not always the true things," Raikkonen said when asked about his issues with the car. "We have issues and we are not as fast as we want to be. We should be winning races and we are not so there are things we need to fix, many small things, and once we fix those we will be where we want to be. But it's not going to happen in a few weeks. Even if you win races and win championships you are still not happy, there are always things you can fix."

When asked whether he believes a race win is possible in 2014, Raikkonen responded in the manner he has become famous for.
"I don't know. I have no interest in starting to guess."

Raikkonen believes Ferrari has been making clear strides forward and thinks that should start to translate to success on race days.

"Hopefully things can only get better. Obviously we are going in the right direction but the result hasn't shown, but we know what we are doing. Step by step we are going to improve.

"It's very hard for anybody to challenge [Mercedes] for the championship. I might be wrong but usually that's how it goes, though we've seen in the past how it can change. We are getting better all the time and we do the best we can every race, then maybe start to win races and podiums." ESPNF1

Alonso backs Mattiacci
It was only just over a fortnight ago Alonso remarked he had barely spotted any difference inside Ferrari since Mattiacci's arrival in early April as replacement for Stefano Domenicali.

The two-times world champion further suggested it was unlikely there would be any discernible change any time soon as Mattiacci still had to get up to speed on the team's working practices.

Alonso, though, has now had a change of heart with regards Mattiacci, who was previously president and chief executive of Ferrari's North American car operation, and with no F1 experience prior to his appointment.

Speaking ahead of this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, the 32-year-old Spaniard said: "From the arrival of Marco Mattiacci I think everything is moving in the right direction.

"He has a good vision, a good approach – a very clever approach – and either for this year or next year we are just going to be stronger and stronger, so what is happening now is not a worry at the moment."

The current campaign is proving to be another struggle for Alonso and Ferrari, although he is again going above and beyond with the car.

At present, behind the all-conquering Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, Alonso finds himself the best of the rest.

That, however, means he only has half of Rosberg's title-leading 122-point haul, such is the gulf between the German, Hamilton and the rest.

With new parts on the car this weekend, Alonso can only hope Ferrari maintain the current rate of strong development, not only over the course of this year, but through into next season when the rules remain relatively stable

"Whether these updates provide us with the results we want or they don't, we just need to keep working on both sides," added Alonso.

"This year we need to keep fighting for the important things, such as second place in the constructors' championship, and there are other targets we want to achieve.

"Then for next year we cannot do something this year that compromises next year's time with the car.

"We need to keep developing in 2014 because many things are carried over to next year's car.

"But if there is something fundamental that requires a lot of time on the 2015 project, obviously we cannot take any time from that also."

Pirelli confirms tire nominations for next four races
Pirelli has confirmed its tire allocations for the next four Formula 1 grands prix, including the first race in Austria since 2003.

The Italian tire manufacturer became the sole supplier for the sport back in 2011, and was given the tender of spicing up the racing and eradicating one-stop races which had become commonplace with Bridgestone back in 2010. Despite some ups and downs, its presence in the sport has been largely positive.

It has now confirmed which tires will be used for the races in Austria, Great Britain, Germany and Hungary.

Austria – super-soft (option); soft (prime)
Great Britain – medium (option); hard (prime)
Germany – super-soft (option); soft (prime)
Hungary – soft (option); medium (prime)

These selections are hardly surprising given the nature of the upcoming tracks, but with the quickest tires available, it should make for some great racing and open up a variety of strategies.

Pirelli will be hoping that its selection for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone will prevent a repeat of last year’s ‘tiregate’ scandal, which saw five drivers suffer failures and blowouts in the race.

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