Latest F1 news in brief – Monday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Newey not ruling out Ferrari switch

    Haas 'not looking at Lotus' – source

  • Spotlight on Mercedes as rivals give up hope
  • Newey not ruling out Ferrari switch
  • Mateschitz renews attack on 'new' F1
  • 'Stressful' time for careworn Ecclestone – Horner
  • Massa says Williams can hold off McLaren
  • Angry Raikkonen had 'long' Ferrari talks after Spain
  • Hamilton not ruling out season-long winning streak
  • McLaren misery continues in Spain
  • Mercedes advantage artificial, says Horner New

Haas 'not looking at Lotus' – source
(GMM) A source close to F1's newest team owner Gene Haas has denied reports linking the Californian with Lotus.

Amid rumors Enstone based Lotus is struggling to pay its Renault engine bill in 2014, it was suggested in the Barcelona paddock that Haas was set to visit Lotus' UK headquarters this week.

It triggered speculation Haas, 62, may have listened to the critics and acknowledged that basing his new team in the United States might not be a good idea.

But according to, a 'top Haas Formula official' denied the Sky Sports report.

"He (Haas) is not looking at Lotus," the source said, adding that Haas is travelling to Europe but not on F1-related business.

Spotlight on Mercedes as rivals give up hope
(GMM) While a creeping tension between the Mercedes teammates is obvious, Mercedes is playing down any conflict between new championship leader Lewis Hamilton and the Brackley based team.

En route to his fourth consecutive race win on Sunday, Hamilton denied when asked by podium interviewer Eddie Jordan if his grumbling in-race radio messages showed he was "upset" with Mercedes during the Spanish grand prix.

And team boss Toto Wolff insisted: "Lewis has a very good relationship with his engineers. Intensity is good, as long as it is not overdone," he is quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"I don't think you can blame any driver for reacting emotionally. We know Lewis," Wolff said. "He comes across on the radio sometimes totally differently to how he actually is."

Wolff said Hamilton's mood during the race was more a reflection of the desire felt by the Briton and his teammate Nico Rosberg to respectively snatch and retain the championship lead.

He even admitted the pair play "little games" throughout a grand prix weekend "to try to lead each others' weekend astray".

"As long as the big picture does not suffer," said Wolff, "that's fine. It's normal.

"The intensity between them is already high, but you could not expect otherwise," he added. "Both of them know they have the tools to be world champion this year.

"I assume that the intensity will even get higher."

So as Mercedes streaks ahead in 2014, the excitement of the 2014 championship rests heavily on the team maintaining its current 'no team orders' approach.

"My strategy is very simple," team chairman Niki Lauda said after the Spanish grand prix, where Rosberg came within a lap of beginning a Bahrain-like assault on the sister silver car.

"We do not interfere," the F1 legend added. "We let our drivers race from beginning to the end. So far nothing bad has happened.

"If there is no third driver in championship contention then I'm completely relaxed," said Lauda.

Also easing Lauda's nerves is his belief that Hamilton is on such top form that no rival – not even Rosberg in an identical car – is likely to topple him in 2014.

"I do not know anybody today who could beat Lewis in the same car," he said. "Nobody can beat the guy."

Mercedes' rivals, however, are holding out hope that Mercedes' approach may eventually bite the Brackley team.

"We can only hope that there is a war at the top and they drive into one another," Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko admitted to Bild newspaper.

Already, there are rumors that top rivals like Ferrari are planning to give improving their cars one final effort before turning their attention to 2015.

Red Bull's Christian Horner said on Sunday: "We have a choice — either pack up and go home or we fight."

For now, the answer is 'fight', but a biting realism is also obvious. "The gap this year to Mercedes is amazing," admitted Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, after just escaping a lapping in Spain, one year after his last grand prix win.

"We need to target second place in the championship if we can," added the Spaniard.

"Mercedes is in a different category," Alonso explained, admitting that it is "possible" Hamilton and Rosberg will win every single race this season.

Horner also said it is possible Mercedes will manage the unprecedented feat of winning 100 per cent of the races on the calendar, but he insists Red Bull is not preparing to down tools.

"What you learn this year, helps you next year," he said. "We will be developing at full throttle all the way to Abu Dhabi."

Newey not ruling out Ferrari switch
(GMM) Adrian Newey has refused to categorically rule out a future move to Ferrari.

Rumors in the Barcelona paddock at the weekend suggested the fabled but struggling Italian team had renewed its big-money offer to sign Red Bull's highly coveted technical boss.

When asked on Sunday if he will see out his F1 career with Red Bull, the 55-year-old Briton told Sky television: "I don't know. I need to think about it.

"At some point I am going to have to think about the future, but at the moment my focus is getting in front of the silver cars," Newey added.

It is not known for how long Newey is contractually tied to the Milton Keynes based team, and in Spain boss Christian Horner refused to divulge the details.

"For sure, the lure of Ferrari is always there," admitted Horner, "but there's the politics and the pressure that goes with it and the fact it is in Italy.

"Lots of us have been linked with Red Bull but so far none of us have gone," he added.

It was a busy weekend all round for the reigning world champions. At one point, video footage of an apparently flexing winglet caused a stir on the internet.

Engineering chief Paul Monaghan denied Red Bull had been up to old tricks.

"There was no deliberate intention to instigate the failure and no aerodynamic benefit was derived from the deflection," he insisted.

On the brighter side, after his early-season struggle to keep up with Daniel Ricciardo and a disastrous weekend of reliability, Vettel on Sunday appeared much happier after scything through the Barcelona field.

The reigning world champion had use of a new RB10 chassis in Spain, and he said driving it around the Circuit de Catalunya and setting the fastest overall lap was finally "fun".

"I feel like I have a car in my hands again," said the German.

Mateschitz renews attack on 'new' F1
(GMM) Dietrich Mateschitz, Red Bull's low profile team owner, has renewed his attack on the new face of formula one.

The Austrian billionaire has already been highly critical of the sport's radical new rules for 2014, featuring turbo V6 engines and restrictions on the use of fuel.

Now, he has told Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper: "We have a plethora of regulations, restrictions, rules, penalties.

"It used to be about 'who is fastest wins'. To say that I am sympathetic to the displeasure of the fans is an understatement.

"As it is now, the driver can no longer go to the limit," said Mateschitz, who turns 70 next week.

However, despite making a rare visit to a grand prix paddock on Sunday, where FIA president Jean Todt was also spotted, Mateschitz said he will not be pushing for rule changes, "As that would be useless".

He also played down suggestions Red Bull could be moving to buy shares in the sport in order to exert its influence as an owner.

"No. I believe our expertise lies elsewhere," Mateschitz is quoted by Speed Week.

Meanwhile, Mateschitz praised the comeback of world champion Sebastian Vettel on Sunday, who many had written off as only a great driver when at the wheel of the best car.

"He drove like a world champion," the energy drink mogul said on Sunday, "but for me this is no surprise.

"His driving had never gone down, he was just having bad luck. Those people who put him in a crisis should not always be believed," Mateschitz is quoted by Sport Bild.

'Stressful' time for careworn Ecclestone – Horner
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone cut a careworn figure in the Barcelona paddock at the weekend, as the sport's chief executive clings to F1 power.

The 83-year-old had travelled to Spain on Saturday almost direct from Munich, where on Friday he sat in court and listened to the testimony of Gerhard Gribkowsky, the jailed banker he allegedly bribed.

Some predict diminutive Briton Ecclestone will soon join Gribkowsky behind bars, and in Spain some sources reported that the F1 'supremo' has seemed tired and without his usually mischievous and jovial mood in past weeks.

Perhaps he is just busier than ever, juggling his management of F1 with the Munich proceedings.

He could not, for example, simply skip the Spanish grand prix, as he met with almost every single F1 race promoter in Barcelona, including representatives from Russia, where the Sochi race is reportedly endangered over the Crimean crisis.

Ecclestone also apparently met at the Circuit de Catalunya with influential figures like Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche, and Red Bull mogul Dietrich Mateschitz.

And on Tuesday, he will be back in court, the German news agency DPA reports.

"This is actually a very stressful time for him," admitted Christian Horner, the team boss at Red Bull but also a close friend and confidante, and touted as a potential successor.

"Bernie is the one who holds everything together," Horner added.

Massa says Williams can hold off McLaren
(GMM) Williams is eyeing the next scalp, after scooping up the similarly Mercedes-powered McLaren at the Spanish grand prix.

And the Grove based team's next target is Force India, according to top engineer Rob Smedley.

"The glass is more than half full," Smedley, who switched from Ferrari at the end of last season, was quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport on Sunday.

"Our car is now third fastest (in 2014)," he insisted, referring to dominant pacesetters Mercedes and reigning world champions Red Bull.

Driver Felipe Massa, who also moved from Ferrari to Williams to 2014, agrees with his former race engineer and friend Smedley, predicting the British team can now hold off grandee McLaren's charge for the rest of the season.

"We can fight against Force India and McLaren," he is quoted as saying. "Against Ferrari it will be harder, because they have more resources, but it is not impossible."

Angry Raikkonen had 'long' Ferrari talks after Spain
(GMM) Hours after the checkered flag in Spain, Kimi Raikkonen's "long talks" with Ferrari officials were dragging on.

That is the claim of the Finnish broadcaster MTV3, reporting that the Finn was unhappy with his treatment by the Italian team in Sunday's Spanish grand prix.

Raikkonen answered "no" when asked if he now feels like the number two driver at Maranello, because Fernando Alonso received first call for pit service despite running behind the normally ice-cool 2007 world champion in Barcelona.

He was, however, furious.

In a television interview for Britain's Sky, the 34-year-old answered "I don't know" when he was asked who made the decision to pit Alonso first — an advantageous tactic usually reserved for a team's leading driver.

Asked if he wanted to pit before Alonso, Raikkonen mumbled, shrugged, and stormed off.

Later, having been beaten in the race by Alonso, he played down the strategy incident, according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"There was not much between the two," said Raikkonen. "In the end it makes no difference. It was a very disappointing result for Ferrari."

But on the slowing down lap after the checkered flag, Raikkonen is reported to have angrily asked on the radio: 'Exactly who made this (pitstop) decision?"

Hamilton not ruling out season-long winning streak
(GMM) Four races into an unprecedented winning streak for the Briton, Lewis Hamilton admits he is happy to make critics "eat their words".

At the end of 2012, the critics had said the 2008 world champion was crazy to abandon McLaren in order to replace Michael Schumacher at struggling Mercedes.

Others said he chased the money or the lifestyle, but "People are so quick to reach their conclusions before they know anything," Hamilton told the Spanish sports newspaper Marca before winning Sunday's grand prix.

"When I made the decision (to leave McLaren), I thought that this would be the result."

Hamilton said he is referring to Mercedes' success, not the utter dominance that he is now stamping upon the 2014 championship.

Some, even his old arch-nemesis Fernando Alonso, or the boss of the reigning world champion team Christian Horner, think it is "possible" Hamilton's dominant W05 will win the remaining 14 grands prix this year.

It would be a feat unprecedented in the history of F1.

Asked to compare 2014 with 1988, when McLaren won all but one of that year's grands prix, Hamilton said: "That was definitely an interesting year.

"At the moment I don't think so," when told he could repeat or exceed the record in 2014, "but nothing is impossible. We'll see.

"That's our goal — to win all the time."

If that is the sort of record Mercedes is heading for, it is possible the driver relationship could be as acidic as Ayrton Senna versus Alain Prost.

"It's not yet!" Hamilton laughed, "but you never know what can happen," he added, referring to his teammate Nico Rosberg.

Still, Mercedes is happier at the moment than Ferrari and Red Bull, who have been vocally critical of the 2014 formula.

"It's easy to complain when things are going wrong," Hamilton said. "We've all done it. McLaren had a bad car in 2009 and we didn't like the new rules.

"Red Bull were happy for many years, and now they're not," he added.

McLaren misery continues in Spain
Once-mighty McLaren, who failed to make an appearance on the Formula One podium last season, completed a miserable hat-trick of races without a point at the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday.

Despite the poor run of form, their longest drought in five years, Racing Director Eric Boullier said there were signs of progress.

"Yesterday, our qualifying form showed that we'd taken a small step forwards in terms of performance," said the Frenchman after former McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton chalked up his fourth win in a row for Mercedes to take the overall lead.

"We know our journey to full competitiveness won't be a short one, but it's already clear that the trend is in the right direction."

For 2009 champion Jenson Button, Formula One's most experienced driver, three blanks in a row represent his worst run since he was at Honda in 2008. He finished 11th, with Danish rookie teammate Kevin Magnussen 12th.

"You just do the best job you can with the car, you learn something, and we learned something today," the Briton, who will be testing in Barcelona next week in preparation for the showcase Monaco Grand Prix, told reporters.

"I feel we have progressed, but the first lap made all the difference because we couldn't get temperature into the tires which cost us a lot because it is so difficult to overtake at this circuit.

"The car did feel a little bit better in the race, but we just couldn't do anything with it, so we've still a lot of work to do," he said. "We're still going as fast as we can, doing the best we can, it's just that everything transpired against us."

McLaren, the second most successful team in the sport after Ferrari in terms of race wins, slipped to sixth in the championship.

Mercedes advantage artificial, says Horner
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has played down the sizeable gap between his Red Bull drivers and the dominant Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg during the Spanish Grand Prix.

Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel finished as best of the rest during Sunday's 66-lap encounter at the Barcelona venue, but the Australian's RB10 was over three quarters of a minute adrift of winner Hamilton.

However, Horner believes that his squad's outright performance was masked, with Ricciardo getting stuck behind the Williams of Valtteri Bottas in the opening stint and Vettel having to fight through the field from 15th.

"If you look at the last stint in particular, where Mercedes were flat out and Sebastian and Daniel had a bit of clear air, we have definitely moved a bit closer," Horner said. "It is a significant gap that we still have to overcome but it is great to see we have made progress and made a step ahead of the Ferraris and the rest of the field.

"The 48-second gap is slightly artificial because we lost a lot of time behind the Williams during the first stint. Once you find yourself in no-man's land until the end of the race you are then just managing the tires."

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