Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

Alonso is obviously not happy with Domenicali run Ferrari team? When will he quit?

04/09/14

  • Maldonado and Lotus suffered two PU failures
  • Marussia Motors Dispenses With F1 Team
  • Ricciardo: Red Bull chipping away New
  • Video: A to Z of Formula One: Part 2 (E to H) New
  • No F1 test debut for Vandoorne New
  • Unhappy Alonso wants Ferrari to work 'day and night' New
  • Video: Domenicali: Bahrain GP a race to forget New
  • Even 'genius' will not close gap to Mercedes – Marko New
  • Ferrari team no longer 'excellent' – Briatore New

Maldonado and Lotus suffer two PU failures (The poor Renault teams)
Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado was philosophical after he experienced yet more reliability problems on Tuesday during the opening day of the post-Bahrain Grand Prix test.

The Enstone squad has had a dire season so far, and while Maldonado and team-mate, Romain Grosjean both finished Sunday's race, the third round in the 2014 Formula 1 World Championship, power unit 'related issues' meant the Venezuelan did just 16 laps today, less than 90 kilometers. In contrast, Nico Rosberg did 121 tours and over 650 kilometers.

"This morning our program was focused on aerodynamic work and we achieved a lot, even with a limited amount of laps. This afternoon the plan was to work on performance, evaluating parts and set-ups, however we have not been able to run though the program due to power unit issues," Maldonado explained. "We need to check and understand what has happened. This is what testing is for even though we would have preferred to have been able to complete more laps today.

"I hope that Romain can continue to work on our testing program tomorrow (Wednesday) and hopefully have a more positive day."

"Unfortunately we weren't able to carry out the program we had set out to do today as two power unit related failures stopped us far short of what we wanted to achieve," added Lotus' Trackside Operations Director Alan Permane.

"Of course, this is frustrating for everyone involved, but our focus is now very much on getting the most we can out of tomorrow," he concluded.

Marussia Motors Dispenses With F1 Team
Marussia Motors has ditched its carmaking operations and relinquished ownership of the Marussia Formula One team, team spokesperson Tracy Novak told R-Sport on Tuesday.

Russian carmaker Marussia Motors took a majority stake in the then-Virgin F1 team in 2010, in what at the time was billed as a way for the Russian company to market its B1 and B2 supercars to prospective buyers around the world.

However, that plan appears dead after Novak said the supercar projects were no longer operational. She insisted the change would not affect the running of the F1 team.

“The supercar project was ambitious, but it is disappointing that it was unable to get to market," she said in e-mailed comments.

"There is no impact whatsoever on the Formula 1 team’s operation," Novak added.

Instead of Marussia Motors, another company, Marussia Communications Limited, now owns the team, she said. No change of ownership has been reported previously.

"There is no link between the two companies (Marussia Motors and Marussia F1 Team) financially or technically," Novak said. "The F1 team has been an independent operation for some time."

"The F1 team has had a positive start to the 2014 season and looks forward to continued success in the pursuit of its racing ambitions."

Novak refused to comment when any change of ownership took place or whether Marussia Communications was the same entity as a company of that name apparently registered in Dublin, Ireland.

Marussia has long been reported to be short of funds but has started the 2014 season in stronger form than last season. So far this year, the team has won no points, but driver Max Chilton’s two 13th-place finishes match its best result from last year.

Staff of Marussia Motors in Moscow have reportedly left the company en masse and joined a government-run technical institute.

Ricciardo: Red Bull chipping away
Daniel Ricciardo says Red Bull is 'chipping away' and while still a bit behind, he is confident the squad will be closer to the pace in China later this month.

Ricciardo, who took a superb fourth in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix, returned to the cockpit of the RB10 on Tuesday as the first in-season test of the year got underway at the Sakhir Circuit and despite a few minor issues, he did 91 laps in total, ending the day seventh quickest – his best a 1:38.326, 2.5 seconds off the top time.

"We didn't get in any performance runs today," he explained, "but we did some good long runs in the afternoon with three set-up changes and we got some good feedback from that."

"We missed a little bit of time this morning but we made up for it in the afternoon. I think I was in the car for a good few hours," he continued.

"I think during last weekend we struggled a bit in P1 and P3, the daytime sessions in the heat, but the car felt a lot better today in those conditions, particularly on those long runs. We're still a little behind but we're chipping away and I'm sure over the course of this test and in China we'll get a little bit closer. For the moment, though, we'll take every little bit we can get. We're learning and we're making progress."

"An excellent day today," summarized Red Bull's Race Engineering Coordinator Andy Damerum. "We were a little delayed in getting out this morning but that was simply down to the amount of instrumentation involved. Once Daniel was out though we worked through a very packed schedule of items and over his 91 laps we managed to tick off almost all of those things. There are many little standard test things which we couldn't get done in pre-season and which the nature of race weekends don't allow for, so today has been very valuable in terms of working through those items.

"So, all in all, a busy first day and it will be more of the same tomorrow when once again Daniel will be at the wheel."

Video: A to Z of Formula One: Part 2 (E to H)
This is the second part in our new six part mini-series: The A to Z of Formula One. Featuring Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Sebastien Buemi, Christian Horner and Adrian Newey, the series offers a unique insider view to the key aspects of Formula One, connected to each letter of the alphabet.

No F1 test debut for Vandoorne
McLaren test and reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne will not run this week during the two-day post-Bahrain Grand Prix test at the Sakhir Circuit, it has been confirmed.

Vandoorne was originally scheduled to run on Wednesday, with Oliver Turvey set to drive the McLaren MP4-29 today. However, McLaren have since opted to put Kevin Magnussen in the cock-pit for both days. Jenson Button was, it is understood, offered the chance to drive, however he declined.

Vandoorne and Turvey are both now expected to get a run at one of the other three pre-season tests, which take place after the races in Spain, Britain and Abu Dhabi.

Unhappy Alonso wants Ferrari to work 'day and night'
Fernando Alonso has called on Ferrari to work “day and night" in an attempt to fire the ailing team back to the front of the grid.

Ferrari’s failings this season were laid bare under the glare of the spotlights at the Bahrain International Circuit on Sunday.

On a track where power is critical, Ferrari found themselves lacking in that area, resulting in Alonso finishing ninth and teammate Kimi Raikkonen 10th, both just over 30 seconds adrift of race-winner Lewis Hamilton.

With Mercedes the benchmark following their dominant start to the season, Alonso is again facing another catch-up campaign and a potential fifth year at Ferrari without a world title.

“Sunday’s race was complicated for us, even if we knew what to expect, because with its long straights the track showed up our weak points," Alonso said.

“Although we did all we could, we can’t be happy with our level of performance and now our sole focus must be on working day and night.

“The season is in its early stages and we can stage a recovery. We have the resources and the potential to do it and it’s all down to us."

The teams return to the circuit on Tuesday for the first of four two-day tests this year as in-season testing returns to Formula One.

Whilst Ferrari know they cannot now alter anything to do with the new power unit as they have been homologated, they can focus on improving their aero package to find time.

“The test is very important," Alonso added.

“We have a very aggressive program, which we need as our rivals will not just be sitting back and watching."

Team principal Stefano Domenicali claimed the weekend overall was “as difficult as we had thought it would be", with the grand prix one “we must forget".

President Luca Di Montezemolo attended his first race this year, and he would have been far from happy with what he witnessed as Ferrari struggled to make any inroads.

Domenicali has also emphasized the critical importance of the next two days in Bahrain, saying: “I expect to see an initial step up in terms of quality.

“The team must not get downhearted, even if things have not turned out the way they should so far.

“They must continue to work in order to step up a gear as quickly as possible."

Video: Domenicali: Bahrain GP a race to forget

Even 'genius' will not close gap to Mercedes – Marko
(GMM) Reigning world champion team Red Bull is hoping to be "at least within reach" of dominant Mercedes in the space of a month.

After controlled race victories for the German squad in Australia and Malaysia, the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg pushed each other hard in a long wheel-to-wheel battle out the front in Bahrain.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said it was "the first time we saw their (Mercedes') true potential", amounting to a two second per lap advantage to the rest of the field.

He warned: "In China, Mercedes are again going to be very difficult to beat given the kilometer long straight.

"But then once we get back to Europe we need to start making inroads into them."

The team's Dr Helmut Marko, referring to the subsequent Spanish grand prix in mid May and beyond, agreed: "Our hope is that we are at least within reach by Europe.

"You need a good engine in Bahrain," he told Austrian Servus TV, "and China will also be difficult with two long straights.

"But in places like Barcelona and Monaco, the chassis has more importance again."

Marko hailed Mercedes' advantage at present.

"Through (Mercedes') ingenuity and a much longer-term preparedness, both us and Ferrari have a lot to do to even come remotely close to them.

"This will be a process that will not be achieved by a stroke of genius," he added.

Ferrari, who alongside Mercedes and Renault is the other engine manufacturer in F1, is also pushing to improve.

The works team's Fernando Alonso, who is testing in Bahrain this week, said: "We have the resources and the potential to do it. We have a very aggressive (development) program, which we need."

Ferrari customer Sauber agrees that Mercedes' rivals need to work hard to catch up.

"In Bahrain it was obvious that one of the three manufacturers has a huge advantage regarding the powertrain," said chief engineer Giampaolo Dall'ara.

Ferrari team no longer 'excellent' – Briatore
(GMM) While Ferrari's global brand remains strong, the health of the Maranello based formula one team is less impressive.

That is the view of former F1 team boss Flavio Briatore, who was asked by Italian Radio 105 if he thinks Ferrari still stands for "excellence".

"The brand is an excellence," the 63-year-old former Renault and Benetton boss said.

"For the team, at the moment it is very difficult. It is not an excellence in competitiveness, in formula one, but the brand is very strong in the world," Briatore added.

Indeed, it is now more than six years since Kimi Raikkonen won the 2007 title, and 2014 is the fifth Ferrari campaign since F1's highest paid driver, Fernando Alonso, joined the Maranello team.

"The fear is rising within (team boss Stefano) Domenicali that the situation will not change," Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport commented on Tuesday.

Speculation Spaniard Alonso could return to McLaren to replace Jenson Button and lead the British team's new Honda era from 2015 is now increasing by the day.

"Eight years on since Fernando's last title," Gazzetta added, "how could he be stopped from moving to another team?"

Alonso was quoted in Bahrain last weekend as admitting he expected to join Ferrari in 2010 and add a third title to his tally relatively quickly.

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