Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

Ecclestone listens as Gribkowsky discredits himself

05/29/14

  • Haas delays F1 debut until 2016 – report
  • Massa 'glad' Ferrari axe led to Williams
  • Raikkonen admits 2014 title chance 'over'
  • Good week in court for Ecclestone
  • Hamilton should learn how to lose – Hakkinen
  • Coulthard calls for twin pit boxes New
  • Is Lewis Hamilton his own worst nightmare? New
  • Mattiacci establishes Ferrari action plan New

Haas delays F1 debut until 2016 – report
(GMM) It appears Gene Haas will not have a formula one team on next year's grid.

As recently as last week, it was reported that the Nascar team co-owner's 'plan A' was to debut with a Gunther Steiner-led, North Carolina-based F1 team in 2015.

At the same time, Haas was trying to put together a 200-strong workforce.

"There are many interested parties," a source told Auto Motor und Sport last week, "but we can only hire people when we know who our engine partner is."

At the Indianapolis 500 last weekend, Haas told motorsport.com that plans to use Ferrari technology are on track. "We haven't exactly signed a formal contract (with Ferrari) but we're pretty close," he said.

And he met with likely chassis maker Dallara during the Indianapolis visit.

"They all can do it, they all want to do it, they're all very interested in helping us," said Haas.

He hinted, however, that time is running out to be ready for 2015.

"I think they are looking at it as a good long-time partnership but it just comes down to you have to order things and it takes time to order things and get things scheduled.

"It just seems that it's taking longer to accomplish what we wanted to do than we thought," Haas added.

The latest news is that Haas has apparently now decided to target a 2016 debut rather than rush onto next year's grid.

"It's already June," he said, "so it's just seven months away and the timing issues are starting to get real crazy."

Massa 'glad' Ferrari axe led to Williams
(GMM) Felipe Massa says he is "glad" Ferrari dumped him at the end of last year.

The Brazilian drove for the fabled Maranello team between 2006 and 2013, racing alongside highly-rated champions Michael Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso.

But Ferrari chose to sign the returning 2007 title winner Raikkonen for this year, with Massa now insisting he is not surprised the Finn is struggling alongside Spaniard Alonso.

Massa told Germany's Auto Bild he thinks Raikkonen is "maybe not quite as good" as Alonso.

In fact, the 33-year-old said he had the measure of the 'iceman'.

"In 2007 he was champion, but until Monza I was ahead of him," said Massa, recalling his battle with Raikkonen some seven years ago.

"Unfortunately, in our team we had an agreement that Monza would decide who is the number 1, and I was ahead of Kimi when I had a problem with my car.

"In 2008 I was in front of him," Massa added, "and also up until my accident in Hungary in 2009. Nevertheless, Kimi is world champion, and I'm not."

However, Massa insists he has no regrets about losing his Ferrari seat for 2014 and moving to Williams.

"It was absolutely the right move," he told Germany's Sport Bild.

"Looking back now, I am even glad that Ferrari did not want me because it opened the way for coming to Williams.

"I'm pretty relaxed, motivated, the team respects me," Massa explained. "You know, sometimes a change is good.

"I'm older but I feel young again. I'm ready to fight and work hard. I regret nothing," he added.

Massa also admitted that he doesn't miss the ultra high-pressure of wearing a red suit.

"Absolutely not!" he exclaimed. "At Ferrari it was huge — if you don't win, you have a big load on your shoulders.

"You try to use it as positive energy, but you are constantly tense.

"Here at Williams I think only about the racing, which is better," said Massa.

Raikkonen admits 2014 title chance 'over'
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen has ruled out winning the 2014 title.

Detailing a meeting with journalists this week, Ferrari officially quoted the Finnish driver as saying it will be "very difficult" to beat Mercedes this year, "but you never know".

Raikkonen, in fact, was on a sponsor visit to Norway, and what he told the major Aftenposten newspaper was slightly less optimistic.

When asked about the 2014 title, the 34-year-old answered: "It seems to be over. The Mercedes cars are too fast.

"We (Ferrari) want to be ahead, but my challenge on the championship seems to be over for the season," added Raikkonen.

He declined to talk about the high-profile spat between Mercedes' dueling title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

"I'm not interested in that," said Raikkonen. "I'm only interested in our own success and getting back to the top."

But he did comment on the new direction F1 has moved in, having switched from loud V8 engines to turbo and hybrid-powered V6s.

"From the driver's point of view, we want better grip and faster cars," said Raikkonen. "More horse power.

"Increasing the speed is difficult, but I think it would make the races more interesting and exciting.

"But we don't make up the rules ourselves, so we need to do the best we can with these cars," he added.

Meanwhile, the Ferrari website quoted Raikkonen as saying that although he would "like" to do some more rallying, "for now I'm completely focused on formula one".

Speaking to reporters in Monaco last weekend, he had said: "The problem is obviously people are more scared that you get hurt so they try to limit everything that you do.

"It's a shame because I think it would be more fun for everybody and all sports would also benefit from it, and F1."

Good week in court for Ecclestone
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has had a heartening couple of days in court this week.

The latest witness to appear in Munich for F1 chief executive's bribery trial was a former colleague of the jailed Gerhard Gribkowsky.

Gribkowsky's credibility is a crucial element of the proceedings, as the former BayernLB risk officer was jailed for receiving Ecclestone's $44 million, allegedly as a bribe to influence the sale of F1's commercial rights.

A BayernLB colleague, however, described some of what Gribkowsky routinely said as coming from "the fantasy world". DPA news agency said the witness worked closely on F1 matters with Gribkowsky.

The witness recalled a dinner at which Gribkowsky apparently declared: "I feel as though he (Ecclestone) sees me as an adopted son and wants to groom me as his formula one successor".

Another Gribkowsky tale told of an Ecclestone suitcase filled with $20 million, although subsequent calculations showed that it is impossible to fit that amount of cash in a suitcase.

The BayernLB colleague explained: "Dr Gribkowsky sometimes had days when he told such things. These were the days that I had to switch off."

Hamilton should learn how to lose – Hakkinen
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton should consider apologizing to Nico Rosberg in the wake of the Monaco grand prix.

That is the claim of double world champion Mika Hakkinen, having already denounced Briton Hamilton's "sub-standard behavior" in the Principality last weekend.

"I appreciate Nico's patience in this situation," Hakkinen was quoted by Finland's Ilta Sanomat newspaper.

"I do not like the idea of what Lewis did," he added, referring to Hamilton's accusations of sabotage and his refusal to congratulate or even look at new championship leader Rosberg after his back-to-back Monaco win.

Now, Hakkinen is not sure even time can ease the tension between the two Mercedes drivers.

"It's hard to tell if something is going to change significantly," he is quoted in his latest Hermes column.

"I don't know if Lewis would even consider apologizing for his behavior. It is a very individual thing.

"But in my opinion, one of the characteristics of a good winner is that he also knows how to lose," Hakkinen added.

The former McLaren driver, who retired in 2001 and is now 45, was at the grand prix last weekend, where Hamilton suspected Rosberg deliberately ruined his qualifying lap.

Hakkinen is not so sure.

"To me it is clear he locked his brakes at Mirabeau," said the Finn. "It is downhill there with nasty bumps and so making a mistake is easy to do.

"Nico is an honest guy," Hakkinen added, "but you can also see on the computer very precisely where he hit the brakes."

Coulthard calls for twin pit boxes
David Coulthard believes each Formula One team should be assigned two pit boxes at each Grand Prix in future.

In his latest column for The Telegraph, the veteran of 247 grands prix writes that twin boxes in the pits would help drivers avoid losing time when the teams are forced to stack them in the pits, which several teams were forced to do under the safety car in Monaco last week.

"This has fallen on deaf ears before, but I think we should have two pit boxes, because otherwise it neutralizes the inter-team battle as it benefits the guy in front," said Coulthard in his latest column for The Telegraph.

"If you want to see a true battle of man against man we should get away from this single stop."

Is Lewis Hamilton his own worst nightmare?
The only man who can beat Hamilton, is himself."

A damning, yet seemingly relevant, statement from Sky Sport F1’s Damon Hill, following last weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix. A race where battle lines were drawn, relationships left in tatters and the blue touch-paper lit to illuminate a title battle that promises to go down in the pages of history.

Following the drama of Saturday, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were left very much upon separate shores, with Rosberg’s error in Q3 leaving Hamilton with no chance to better the German’s provisional pole lap.

Nonetheless Rosberg, F.I.A Race Steward Derek Warwick and much of the on looking world – including yours truly – maintained it was an honest mistake in the pursuit of securing the all important pole position lap around the Monegasque streets.
Photo: AMG Mercedes Petronas Media

In second place after Monaco, in terms of the race and the championship, is Lewis Hamilton. Arguably the quickest man in modern-day Formula One, yet just as questionably the frailest. His attitude throughout the Monaco Grand Prix did little to quash past misdemeanors in front of the camera, with a relentless tirade of one-liners and borderline sarcastic grins doing little to leave anyone under the assumption that all things are rosy at Mercedes.

In 2008, Lewis put on a display to win in the rain in Monaco that astounded experts and fans alike. In 2011, Lewis had a torrid race filled with incident both on track and off it, including THAT interview with BBC’s Lee McKenzie. In 2014, he mixed the two, with a classy in-car display (minus a few radio message grumbles) to finish 2nd – with only one eye – on the road, being matched with childish performances post-qualifying and post-race in front of the media.

“We are not friends. We are colleagues" he told Sky. “I wish you could have seen the data. I saw something late on last night and all I could do was smile", reported the Guardian. The Brit even complained about Nico kicking a football around outside the team garage before qualifying; something the German has always done and ever since the two became teammates all of 25 races ago.

Every crack appears is another disaster waiting to happen, and it’s these jabs and punches of psychological warfare that will decide the 2014 drivers’ world championship.

Should they continue, Hamilton risks turning a team against him. Angry radio tirades towards the team and stabs in the press at a long-term team member, and let’s not forget, an exceptionally quick race driver in Rosberg will only turn backs against him inside the Mercedes garage, in a year which is, as yet, his absolute best opportunity to become a double world champion. BadgerGP

Mattiacci establishes Ferrari action plan
New Ferrari team boss Marco Mattiacci says he is close to making his first serious changes since taking on the role, having spent the past month and a half assessing the brand's Formula 1 operation.

Mattiacci, who formerly headed up the Italian car maker's North American arm, stepped up to replace Stefano Domenicali in mid-April after a challenging start to the season which has so far yielded just one podium finish.

He has been supported by President Luca di Montezemolo in his quest to turn the team's fortunes around.

"In the last six weeks we did a very thorough assessment of the opportunities to improve in the short-term and the areas that require a medium- to long-term approach to bring Ferrari back to the very highest competitive level," said Mattiacci.

"I'm not going to disclose publicly which areas we need to improve, but it's clear that we need to take some action towards improving the working methodology, organization and making the Scuderia faster, not only on the track, but also in terms of decisions and processes."

Although Mattiacci says he is pleased with his current workforce, he has reiterated his desire to strengthen.

"We have a lot of assets and good people, but if in the market there are people that can bring a strong added value to the team, we will definitely go for it," he said.

"There is no entity that can stay the same, we need to improve organizational changes and bring people from the outside. Everybody is doing this. It's not only Ferrari."

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