Latest F1 news in brief – Sunday

  • Vergne hospitalized because of extreme diet so he can be light like the F1 midgets

    Todt says crisis rule changes unlikely

  • Vergne hospitalized amid extreme F1 diets
  • Ferrari 'not doing a good job' in 2014 – Alonso
  • Team battles heating up at Mercedes, Red Bull
  • Vettel takes blame for Q2 elimination
  • Grosjean sure of faster Lotus race pace
  • Perez targets podium finish from second row
  • Revised Malaysian GP starting grid
  • Ecclestone says two new F1 team entries will be accepted
  • Further rule changes would be 'absurd' so we can keep our advantage – Mercedes
  • McLaren confident over progress with MP4-29

Todt says crisis rule changes unlikely
(GMM) Jean Todt has lashed out at teams who are criticizing the 'new' face of formula one.

Ahead of his much-vaunted meeting on Sunday with Bernie Ecclestone and Luca di Montezemolo, the FIA president hit back at criticisms of the sport in the wake of revolutionary rule changes.

"Making a judgment after two races is like George Lucas or Brad Pitt speaking ill of their next film — (as if to say) 'don't come to the movie!'" Todt told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport in Bahrain.

The Frenchman admitted he suspects the criticisms are being made because those complaining loudest are struggling to keep up with dominant Mercedes.

"Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari knew for five years what engines they would need to use this year," said Todt. "Mercedes has simply done a better job.

"Such is motor sport," he insisted.

Todt said the only potentially valid criticism is about the quieter noise made by the turbo V6s.

"I can understand if people think the sound is too quiet," said Todt. "So we will look at ways we can make them a little louder."

As for suggestions F1 should axe the fuel flow rule, he explained: "I could live without it, but the engineers tell me that then we would need ten engines per year instead of five."

Todt was particularly critical of his former Ferrari boss, president Montezemolo, who has slammed the new fuel limits as having turned F1 into an "economy run".

"Luca should first talk with his engineers and then he would be better informed," he said.

"There has always been fuel saving, even with the V8 engines of last year. How many times did we hear on the radio 'you have to save fuel'?"

Another rule change proposed by the naysayers is a relaxing of the engine 'freeze', but Todt said: "Everyone would have to agree, but why should the Mercedes teams do that?"

Indeed, Mercedes' Toto Wolff rejected the theory the rules need to be urgently changed because F1 is now too slow.

"We are eight tenths off pole from last year … so what are we talking about?" said the Austrian.

"We are in a brilliant technical revolution and we are talking the sport down. Is it because we have an agenda?"

He ruled out rule mid-season changes, saying tweaks are only possible for 2015, "but I don't see that happening," he told reporters.

"Apparently some (teams) are saying 'we haven't managed to make the car efficient and fast with 100 kilograms (of fuel), so let's add 10 kilograms — sorry, we didn't do our job in the way we should have done'.

"I find this whole discussion absurd," said Wolff.

His Mercedes colleague, Niki Lauda, also ruled out agreeing to rule changes within 2014.

"Otherwise, why didn't everything change last year, when Red Bull was always winning?" he is quoted by Italy's Autosprint.

Lauda was particularly critical of the reigning world champions' griping.

"(Last year) I was happy for him. But now I say to him 'Helmut (Marko), you can't always win!

"The new rules were decided five years ago. They are fact and we have to live with it.

"Red Bull at the moment is not behaving in accordance with its supposedly fun and energetic image," Lauda charged.

Vergne hospitalized amid extreme F1 diets
(GMM) Jean-Eric Vergne has admitted he was hospitalized recently amid an extreme weight-loss regime for the 2014 season.

Bigger than teammate and Toro Rosso newcomer Daniil Kvyat, the slight Russian teen, Frenchman Vergne admitted he committed to losing several kilograms over the winter to prepare for F1's much heavier new cars.

"The weight difference between myself and my teammate was making me lose four tenths (per lap)," Vergne, who was given a rare third consecutive season with the Red Bull junior team this year, told French media.

"I did a diet this winter but you get to certain limits that the body can no longer take.

"Actually, I was in hospital between the grands prix in Australia and Malaysia because of a lack of water and a little bit of lack of everything. I was very weak," the 23-year-old revealed.

Vergne said that while the minimum car-plus weight limit was raised by the FIA for the new turbo V6 rules, the 692kg figure is still far too low.

"Frankly, this (situation) is stupid," he insisted.

"Formula one cars are very difficult to drive and we need all of our skills. Being forced to lose weight is not good."

Vergne said the matter has been discussed by the drivers several times already in 2014, "but we have not reached a solution.

"Some lighter drivers want to keep their edge," he said.

Ferrari 'not doing a good job' in 2014 – Alonso
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has admitted Ferrari is "not doing a good job so far" in 2014.

As the Spaniard starts his fifth consecutive season with the Italian team without having added to his title tally, Alonso finished off the podium in Australia and Malaysia and qualified just tenth in Bahrain on Saturday.

After the floodlit qualifying session in the island Kingdom, Alonso admitted that Ferrari's new F14-T car "has remained the same for the last three races".

"It is clear that we have to step up," Alonso is quoted by the Spanish daily Diario Sport, "because we are not doing a good job so far."

Team battles heating up at Mercedes, Red Bull
(GMM) The battle is heating up at Mercedes.

Red Bull's reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel, the dominant force of the last four years, summed up the mood in the paddock on Saturday when he said the silver cars are in a "different world".

Indeed, with the dominant W05, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton have traded wins so far in 2014, but in Bahrain it was the German-born championship leader who broke his British teammate's grip on pole position.

After Rosberg was outclassed in Malaysia, many predicted Hamilton's superior one-lap speed would finally power him to his first world title since 2008.

But Sir Jackie Stewart said Rosberg cannot be ruled out.

"Nico has proved he can drive a little bit the way I drove the car, or Alain Prost drove the car, or Jim Clark did," the great Scot told the Mirror newspaper.

"We are only in the third of 19 races and Nico is a real threat," Stewart added.

Mercedes' Niki Lauda also said Bahrain proves that 2014 doesn't yet belong to Hamilton.

"I have always said that we have two equal drivers," the great Austrian, a triple world champion like Stewart, is quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"In recent days it was claimed that Lewis is obviously stronger, so I'm pleased that now it is the other way around," Lauda added.

Also 'the other way around' in Bahrain is the pecking order at Red Bull, as Vettel – who had an ultra-rare terminal spin in practice – was outqualified by his new teammate Daniel Ricciardo for the second time in 2014.

"That was an incredible lap by Ricciardo," Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko is quoted by the Austrian press. "We never thought we would get that close to the Mercedes on this track."

Ricciardo must now move ten places back due to his Malaysia pitstop error penalty, but did Saturday mark a turning point in the driver hierarchy at Red Bull?

"I don't really want to rate them," Rosberg said when asked.

"Sebastian is clearly a fantastic driver, one of the best out there and Daniel is doing a great job and definitely deserves the seat that he's got at Red Bull. It will be an interesting battle between the two," he added.

It may be an interesting battle, but Marko does not think Red Bull will be able to take the fight to Mercedes on Sunday.

"We are 15kph slower on the straights," he lamented. "So how we can overtake, I don't know."

Vettel takes blame for Q2 elimination
Sebastian Vettel has taken responsibility for his exit from the second phase of Saturday's qualifying hour in Bahrain.

While the Red Bull driver, who also missed the Q3 cut at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, complained about the balance of his RB10, he admitted that he did not extract its full potential.

Team-mate Daniel Ricciardo went on to reach the final shootout and set the third fastest time, although he drops to 13th following his grid penalty.

"The final run for some reason was a bit more difficult," said Vettel.

"The rears were locking up. I've been playing with this for a while and I'm still not where I want to be.

"But I don't want to blame it on that. There was a little bit more in the car and I couldn't get to it."

Vettel, who will start 10th, is hopeful that he can make progress with an additional set of Soft tires.

"Maybe the extra set of tires will calm things down," Vettel explained. "It could help us a bit."

Grosjean sure of faster Lotus race pace
Romain Grosjean is sure that Lotus will be more competitive during today's Bahrain Grand Prix than they were during qualifying, when the Frenchman set the 16th fastest time.

For the second successive weekend, Grosjean narrowly edged out team-mate Pastor Maldonado to progress through to Q2 but he set the slowest time during the second segment of Saturday's knockout session.

"We knew beforehand that we were around the cut off, so it was great to get through," he said. "If we look at the whole weekend we've been struggling on the track. The car felt more together and more drivable – of course sixteenth is not great and we're never going to be satisfied with that, but I'm happy with the way the team has been working and pushing in the right direction.

"We have to try things and try to understand why we are where we are and why we are not unlocking our potential. I hope the race pace will be a little bit better than the qualifying pace and then we can put up a good fight in the race."

Maldonado echoed his team-mate's comments and also expressed a positive note with regards to the reliability of the E22, an aspect of the car which had plagued the Venezuelan driver across the opening pair of races in 2014.

"We just need to be focused and try to push even more on the development of the car to catch the people around us," he said.

"At the moment it’s fair to say our car is a bit on the slow side and quite difficult to drive. However we've made an important step forwards in terms of reliability. There have been no problems this weekend which is quite positive. For race pace we look much more competitive than in qualifying."

Perez targets podium finish from second row
Sergio Perez is hoping to finish on the Bahrain Grand Prix podium after an impressive qualifying performance.

The Force India driver converted his strong practice pace into a top five result during Saturday's grid-deciding session, which becomes fourth after Daniel Ricciardo's grid penalty.

"It was definitely a great qualifying session and the team did a fantastic job to give me such a competitive car," said Perez.

"After the problems we had in the first two races I feel this has been the first real opportunity to show the potential of the car.

"The clear target must be to aim for the podium. We're in the best possible position to fight at the front and I'm going to make the most of it. I've got some very good memories here but I want to create even better ones."

In the sister Force India, Nico Hulkenberg endured a more challenging session, falling at the Q2 hurdle after making an error on his final timed attempt. The German will start from 11th after Ricciardo's relegation.

"My lap in Q2 was not the best one," Hulkenberg conceded. "I made a mistake at Turn 11 and ran wide, which ruined my lap. I lost a couple of tenths and that made the difference between making it into Q3 and missing out.

"But I believe the chance for a good result in the race is still there and I feel optimistic. We showed [throughout practice] on Friday that we have good long run pace and I have two new sets of Soft tires for the race."

Revised Malaysian GP Starting grid
1. N. Rosberg Mercedes Grand Prix
2. L. Hamilton Mercedes Grand Prix
3. V. Bottas Williams
4. S. Perez Force India F1
5. K. Raikkonen Ferrari
6. J. Button McLaren
7. F. Massa Williams
8. K. Magnussen McLaren
9. F. Alonso Ferrari
10. S. Vettel Red Bull
11. N. Hulkenberg Force India F1
12. D. Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso
13. D. Ricciardo Red Bull
14. J. Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso
15. E. Gutierrez Sauber
16. R. Grosjean Lotus Renault
17. P. Maldonado Lotus Renault
18. K. Kobayashi Caterham
19. J. Bianchi Marussia
20. M. Ericsson Caterham
21. M. Chilton Marussia
22. A. Sutil Sauber

Ecclestone says two new F1 team entries will be accepted
(GMM) F1 is set to allow two new teams through the paddock turnstiles for 2015.

Days ago, the sport's chief executive said the bid made by Nascar team co-owner Gene Haas to enter F1 next year has been successful.

"I think Haas will be accepted," he said last week.

Now in Bahrain, the 83-year-old Briton said a second team has also been approved.

Zoran Stefanovich, chief of the failed Stefan GP outfit, has already confirmed he has withdrawn his application after failing to agree a 2015 engine deal.

So the second new 2015 team must be the former HRT chief, Colin Kolles, who according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport has the backing of wealthy Monaco-based Romanians.

Ecclestone said on Sunday: "They (Haas) will be accepted, and we've also accepted another team as well, although whether they'll make it or not is another story.

"But we are happy to have another couple of teams. I've spoken to (FIA president) Jean Todt and we agreed."

Meanwhile, Ecclestone also told reporters in Bahrain he is confident some rule changes will be rushed through to appease fans who are unhappy with the 'new' face of F1.

It appears the major changes under consideration are a relaxing of the engine 'freeze' rules – so that struggling Renault and Ferrari can catch up – and an extra 10kg of fuel for each car per race to end the 'economy runs'.

But total unanimity is required, and dominant Mercedes' Toto Wolff on Saturday said the prospect of mid-season rule changes is "absurd".

"Mercedes are going to be behind it. I think they'll be the leaders," Ecclestone said.

"We can do things without them particularly losing their advantage," he added. "Without any doubt they have done a better job and they shouldn't be punished for that."

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, causing a stir in the paddock on Sunday with a rare appearance ahead of his talks with Ecclestone and Todt, is clearly pushing for changes.

But he also said he respects Mercedes' position at the front of the pack.

"It doesn't mean we have to change (rules) now," said the Italian, "but we need to look ahead.

"I think not changing the rules for the short time is possible to do. I understand Mercedes' position, but for me formula one is more important so we have to have common goals."


Further rule changes would be 'absurd' so we can keep our advantage – Mercedes
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says it is "absurd" to suggest that Formula One's new regulations should be tweaked after just two races [so Mercedes can keep their advantage].

The new regulations introduced at the start of this year have come under criticism at the first two grands prix, with concerns about fuel saving, a lack of sound and the cars being too slow. Following its disqualification from the Australian Grand Prix, Red Bull called for the regulations surrounding fuel flow rates to be dropped and Ferrari is keen to either shorten races or up the amount of fuel allowed for the race distance.

Mercedes, meanwhile, has stolen a march on its rivals, winning the first two races and experiencing no problems regarding the stricter limits on fuel. It believes changing the rules to suit its rivals would be "absurd".

"We are 0.8s off pole last year [in Bahrain], with a car that is 25% down on downforce, with a much harder tire," Wolff said. "We are at the begging of the season, with 30% less [fuel] consumption, with more power and more torque and straight-line speed … so what are we talking about? We are in a brilliant technical revolution and we talk the sport down. In the UK there's a saying that it is doing a Ratner. Is it because we have an agenda? Somehow I don't get it.

"The interesting bit is that apparently some engine manufacturers or teams are saying we have not managed to make the car efficient and fast with 100kg, so what we are trying to do is let's add 10kg. Well, sorry they didn't do their job in the way they should have done. I find this whole discussion absurd."

Wolff said the new rules were clear to all the teams a long time ago and Mercedes has simply done a better job within the regulations.

"If this is the agenda then we shouldn't talk the sport down as a total. We should say, 'hold on a minute, Mercedes has done a better job, the engine is more efficient or whatever it is', but probably those discussions happen every weekend. The rules are the rules and they were implemented a long time ago, if you want to change the rules you can do it for next year but I don't see it happening.

"We just have to understand what it is the fans don't like. If it's the noise then we have to address the noise. Is it that races have become boring by a team or car dominating? Maybe we have had that phenomenon in the last 20 years. Was it boring when Sebastian [Vettel] won the last nine races? For sure it is more boring if you have somebody who is dominant, and I see that as a fan as well."

McLaren confident over progress with MP4-29
McLaren racing director Eric Boullier says the team is definitely in a strong position despite being outqualified by Williams and Force India in Bahrain.

Jenson Button will start sixth behind both Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez, while Kimi Raikkonen also managed to get a Ferrari ahead of the McLarens in a close qualifying session. However, Boullier is sure McLaren is in a better position than it was 12 months ago and is not overly concerned by the qualifying result.

“The intention over the winter was clearly to first make sure that the car would be drivable, balanced and reliable, of which all targets have been achieved," Boullier said. “There was a lot of research in to what went wrong last year and part of it came from some correlation, on which some work has been done over the winter and it has been proven that it works."

Having held off the two Williams cars in Malaysia, Button expects it will be tough to take a similarly defensive approach in Bahrain but hopes McLaren will not be caught out by any need to save more fuel than its rivals.

“I think it will be a little bit easier here to overtake," Button said. “I could position myself around the lap in Malaysia easily so that I had good tires when I got on the power and they couldn't get past me so it worked out pretty well. But here it's very different; you've got four long straights and you can't block every single one of them and you can't save your tires for traction on every single one of those straights.

“So it's going to be difficult and outright pace is key. Fuel saving is going to be a massive part of the race. Some people have to fuel save more than others and it's going to hurt them more than others. I'm not sure where we stand on that but it's going to be an important part of the race – fuel saving – and being ready for when other people fall in to the situation of having to save big in parts of the race; the last couple of laps maybe."

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