Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Not only do the fans hate the new F1 cars, so do the drivers

    Hamilton 'now accepts' Monaco defeat – Lauda

  • Vergne doubts Toro Rosso set to swing axe
  • F1 cost cutting to hit high gear in June
  • Red Bull could bill Renault for 'damage'
  • Brawn would handle fall-out better
  • David Coulthard: F1 drivers not happy

Hamilton 'now accepts' Monaco defeat – Lauda
(GMM) Mercedes will impose no "restrictions" on Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, despite their dramatic falling out in Monaco.

Briton Hamilton was furious after the fabled street race, where he suspected his German teammate deliberately ruined his run for pole position.

But more recently, the 2008 world champion said on Twitter that he and Rosberg are "cool, still friends, no problem".

Not everyone is convinced all is well.

Speed Week correspondent Mathias Brunner said Hamilton's social media posting "seems like a Band-Aid for a blister — it helps but pretty soon it falls off".

And the Daily Mail's Jonathan McEvoy doubts Hamilton even penned the 'tweet' or picked out the old photo of the then teenaged teammates riding on unicycles.

"The timing was mysterious," he wrote, "as only a few hours earlier a Mercedes spokesman said he thought Hamilton was in the air, travelling to North America" for the Canadian grand prix.

The same team spokesman insisted that Hamilton "tweeted independently of them", McEvoy added.

Whatever the truth, Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda claims the worst of the saga is now over.

Asked about Hamilton and Rosberg's supposed reconciliation, he told Osterreich newspaper: "Lewis has now accepted that Nico won in Monaco and he (Hamilton) was second.

"There is no shame in that," said Lauda. "In Montreal we will get together again and discuss everything calmly, and afterwards the fight for the world championship goes on with both of them in equal cars."

The triple world champion, however, acknowledged that more conflict is likely.

"Having two alphas sitting in the best car is of course tricky," said Lauda. "But at least it makes the races interesting given the superiority of our team."

Lauda said he is well qualified to help keep the situation under control.

"I know a situation like this very well thanks to Mr. Prost," he said.

"We let our drivers race against each other without restrictions, because while tension is quite normal, it can also escalate. Then I can get involved as a mentor."

Lauda tipped the Hamilton versus Rosberg battle to be fascinating this weekend in Montreal.

"Nico was clearly faster over the Monte Carlo weekend," he said, "but now Lewis will be doing everything to fight back, which of course is stressful for us.

"But for the fans and the sport there can be nothing better."

Vergne doubts Toro Rosso set to swing axe
(GMM) Jean-Eric Vergne says he is not worried Red Bull could dump him at the end of 2014.

In the nine year history of the energy drink company's second team, only two drivers have appeared in a Toro Rosso cockpit for three consecutive seasons.

They are Sebastien Buemi, the Swiss who was surprisingly dropped at the end of a solid season in 2011, and Frenchman Vergne.

So far, the signs for 24-year-old Vergne do not appear to be good. Young rookie Daniil Kvyat has scored just as many points so far, and has stood out as perhaps a champion in the making.

Vergne, in contrast, has been almost anonymous in 2014.

Demonstrating a Red Bull F1 car at the Spa-Francorchamps round of the Formula Renault 3.5 series last weekend, the Frenchman was asked by Italiaracing if he is worried about the future.

No driver, for instance, has ever raced for Toro Rosso for four consecutive seasons.

"Well, if the situation is as you say it is, then there is little to do," he smiled. "I'll go home now.

"Seriously, I do not believe that these situations can be reduced to an evaluation of statistics," Vergne, better known in the paddock as 'Jev', added.

"At Red Bull and Toro Rosso, they have never been afraid of leaving aside drivers they do not believe in anymore, but if they had lost faith in me I think they would have let me go at the end of last year," he insists.

"If they did not, and I'm still here, it is because they believe in me and my abilities."

Vergne does not agree with the assessment that he has been outshone this year by the vastly less experienced Kvyat, who leapt straight into F1 as GP3 champion.

"As I have said, my integration with the technical staff of the team has developed significantly," he said, "and the results show that it is bearing fruit — something that the team takes fully into account.

"As for me, I feel at home, as if the team is my family, so I don't think they have the intention to pull apart a package that works," said Vergne.

F1 cost cutting to hit high gear in June
(GMM) F1's cost-saving efforts will shift into a higher gear in the month of May.

Ever since the powerful 'Strategy Group' teams nixed plans for a mandatory budget cap, the tension with the angry and disenfranchised small teams has been palpable.

FIA president Jean Todt wants to lock in some cost-saving regulations for 2015, but the final deadline is the end of June.

A few days before that, in just three weeks from now, the World Motor Sport Council would have to rubber-stamp any proposals.

So far, little progress has been made.

"I would think so far we've probably saved about 10,000 euros, but we're going in the right direction," said Christian Horner, boss of the big-spending reigning world champions Red Bull.

For the big teams in particular, the risk of failing to appease their struggling rivals by the June deadline is that the FIA will then be free to introduce whatever rules it likes in 2016.

Curiously, Horner suggested that is exactly what should happen.

"I think the promoter and the regulator need to get together and say 'This is what formula one is going to be', and then the teams have the choice of whether they enter the championship or not," he said.

But Monisha Kaltenborn, boss of the two-decades-old team Sauber that last year almost collapsed, hints that many in the second half of the grid cannot wait that long.

"It's not about us wanting to be equal, and not even an attempt to improve our competitive position," she insisted to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"It's about not letting formula one drift into an untenable financial dimension, so that the smaller teams are constantly wondering if they are still racing from one month to the next."

Kaltenborn is a staunch supporter of a budget cap, even if it begins with a high ceiling of EUR 200 million next year, and is then steadily tightened.

"Formula one has this image of a money-consuming machine," she said. "It puts sponsors off and in 2009 it drove the car manufacturers away — because losing was too expensive.

"If a prestigious team like McLaren is still looking for a main sponsor, there must be something wrong."

Red Bull could bill Renault for 'damage'
Red Bull Racing could yet bill Renault for lost revenue such is the F1 team's unhappiness over the French manufacturer's issues.
Red Bull's latest title defense has been blighted by problems with their new Renault 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 engines.

Sebastian Vettel seems to have suffered the bulk of the issues with the German's most recent trials coming in Monaco where he was forced into retirement due to a turbo failure.

At the time a frustrated Christian Horner said "It is a Renault issue so I think you need to speak to Renault about that reason."
However, it won't just be journalists speaking with the French manufacturer as Helmut Marko says their accounts department will also be having a little chat at the end of this season.

The Red Bull advisor has revealed that Red Bull could bill Renault for lost revenue as the engine supplier is costing them valuable points and positions in the Constructors' Championship.

"It would be irresponsible to talk about the exact figure at the moment," he told Germany's Bild.
"But the list of losses due to problems with the Renault engine is long enough.

"The season is not yet finished but at the end of the Championship our finance department will assess the damage.
"That's when we can talk about the magnitude of losses due to Renault problems."

Meanwhile, Vettel says he is worried about running out of engines before the season is over.

This year drivers are limited to just five power units before they start to incur penalties. Vettel has already had three turbo issues.
"You can easily calculate that will not be enough," the four-times Champion told Auto Motor und Sport.

Brawn would handle fall-out better
Former F1 driver John Watson believes Mercedes are in need of someone of "the quality of Ross Brawn" to handle their current driver issues.

Tensions boiled over at Mercedes last time out in Monaco when Nico Rosberg took pole position in questionable circumstances.

Adding insult to injury, for Lewis Hamilton at least, the German used that pole position to take the victory in Monte Carlo. He also took the lead in the Drivers' Championship.

The animosity between the two was apparent on the podium and in the post-race comments although that has subsequently been toned down with Hamilton declaring that he has spoken with his team-mate to clear the air.

However, Watson, who competed in 152 F1 grands prix, believes the situation would never have deteriorated to that point had Brawn been in at the helm.

"Both Hamilton and Rosberg have grown up in a gilded world which is as real as fantasy is. They are not emotionally equipped or developed to know how to deal with this battle, and I don't believe there is anyone of the quality of Ross Brawn at Mercedes who has that ability either," he told the Daily Mail.

"Indeed, if Brawn had been running the team, as he had been up until last year, the situation between the two drivers would have been handled a lot better."

The Brit added that the situation was also not helped by non-executive director Niki Lauda calling Hamilton "unbeatable" after his Spanish GP win.

He added: "What you have got now at Mercedes is a very different management structure based on a different platform with different managers all at a similar level. Then you have got Niki Lauda acting as 'the Godfather'.

"Lauda is on record as saying Hamilton was 'unbeatable' after winning in China, Bahrain and Spain, and I have no doubt that there will have been an element of "what about me?" from Rosberg. In Spain, his body language was not positive. I noticed that when they were doing the group photograph, they all gave a big cheer, but Rosberg didn't.

"Unconsciously, the team gravitates towards the driver who is getting the job done, and ahead of the race in Monaco that would have been Hamilton. So, Rosberg will have begun to feel that he was getting subjugated out of the picture because everything was focused on Hamilton – the Briton having won four races on the spin.

"Also, in Spain, it turned out that Hamilton had used a power boost button, which is saved for qualifying principally, during the race to defend his position against Rosberg who was catching him up. He shouldn't have done that, and suddenly, all those resentments from Rosberg build into big issues.

"Niki said he will 'sort it out', and he is a very pragmatic man, but in a sense he is part of the problem because has been 'bigging up' Hamilton."

Worryingly for Mercedes, though, Watson doubts whether Toto Wolff or Paddy Lowe have the ability to deal with the team-mate issues either.

"I don't see anyone at Mercedes with the authority, the credibility and the gravitas that Brawn had. If you think back to last year's Malaysian Grand Prix, Rosberg wanted to catch and pass Hamilton, and Brawn emphatically said: "No. Hold position." It is not just what you say, it is the way you say it and it is the person who says it. Rosberg thought about it, but then obeyed the command.

"Is Toto Wolff more interested in talking to the press and projecting himself? Does he really have the authority? And what of Paddy Lowe? He is a fantastic guy, but he is not the person to deal with this feud. Lauda is a very clever man, but I don't know what authority he has either. At the end of the day, if there was one person who could kick ass in that team, it is the person that they let go.

"Formula One isn't like golf, tennis, boxing or any other individual sport. You are playing for a team, and there are responsibilities that come with that. It goes back to having someone on the pit-wall with authority that everybody in the team – drivers, engineers, whoever – actually respect.

"And at the minute there is nobody I see at Mercedes who has that level of respect within that management structure that Ross Brawn would have carried." Planet F1

David Coulthard: F1 drivers not happy
Former Formula One ace turned TV commentator David Coulthard has waded into the debate about whether the sport has lost its mojo due to the muted volume of this year's cars.

The Scot spoke openly at an Infiniti Red Bull brand experience day to AOL Cars about his dislike for the sound of this year's F1 cars – and revealed the drivers are just as unhappy about it.

"They are not happy," he told AOL Cars. "The marketers love it because it gives them a reason to put their investment into F1, and I completely understand that, but the drivers are not enjoying driving the cars this year.

"Nico (Rosberg) and Lewis (Hamilton) are probably a bit happier as they have a better package, but even if you speak to them privately they say the driving experience is not as pure as it was."

Coulthard's comments will be added to a growing wave of discontent among drivers, teams and fans.

Infiniti Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner told AOL Cars recently that his team currently has two priorities – to beat Mercedes and to turn up the volume.

Coulthard added: "Part of the F1 event was all about when you arrived at the track you got excited by the noise and the anticipation as soon as you heard it.

"When I was a kid going to Silverstone I remember standing at Stowe Corner and it was misty. Out of the morning mist came a V12 Ferrari driven by Alesi and the noise was amazing – you heard it coming and knew it was a Ferrari. It went past and you went 'wow'.

"It's ridiculous that we like things that hurt our ears, because if the wife is talking too much and our ears get sore we don't like that! But with race cars, or music, it's about the sound and the experience of it."

Coulthard believes Formula One has a responsibility to the fans to make the sport sound great once again.

"If you went to see the Rolling Stones and they came out and said tonight we're only doing an acoustic set because we're getting old and don't want all the noise then the crowd wouldn't be very happy and rightly so," he added.

"It's the same with F1. I heard Monaco was 20 per cent down this year. We have a responsibility to the fans. The fans will speak out and they know what they want."

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