Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Hamilton touting his horn: "I blew Nico away"

    Hamilton claims he 'blew Rosberg away'

  • Rivals say Mercedes not easily caught
  • More fuel flow problems for Red Bull
  • Drivers stall over new boss for F1 union
  • Marko keeps pressure on 'sick' engine supplier
  • Williams to discuss team orders with Massa
  • Alonso pinpoints Ferrari frailties
  • Rosberg/Vettel bickering continues

Hamilton claims he 'blew Rosberg away'
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has ramped up his rivalry with teammate Nico Rosberg by claiming he "blew him away" at Sepang on Sunday.

The 2008 world champion comfortably won the Malaysian grand prix from pole, and although German Rosberg finished second in the sister Mercedes, Hamilton claimed it was one of the easiest triumphs of his eight-year career.

"It's massive. I don't remember the last time in my career I had a gap like that, particularly with a teammate driving the same car," said the Briton.

Hamilton said he had built his advantage from the very start of the practice sessions, and "it worked and that is why I blew him away".

Rosberg won the season opener in Melbourne but only after Hamilton – again from pole – retired with an engine problem.

"I'm pushing myself more than my teammate is pushing me. That's where the push is coming from," Hamilton said at Sepang late on Sunday.

"Nico is very quick, he's won the first race, he's always there, so naturally we are pushing each other.

"But this year I'm pushing myself that extra. I'm eking out more than I've ever been able to eke out."

Jenson Button, a former teammate of Hamilton's at McLaren, thinks Sepang on Sunday was a psychological as well as an actual victory for the 28-year-old.

"Looking at what Lewis did is going to hurt (Rosberg) a little bit. He was super-fast," he said.

"That is a lot to put between you and your teammate when you have both had a clear race. I am sure that is strike one to him," Button added.

Former F1 driver and BBC pundit David Coulthard agrees: "If that was a pure driver-to-driver battle, then Nico psychologically will have taken a bit of a hit."

Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda is quoted by Speed Week: "I have no idea why Nico could not drive at Lewis' level.

"But I am glad that they were not fighting with each other. Now we have to analyze what was the issue with Nico's car as it must be corrected and then we move to Bahrain."

Rivals say Mercedes not easily caught
(GMM) Mercedes' rivals have acknowledged the gap to the dominant championship leaders will not be easily overcome.

Reports on Sunday suggested Red Bull was quickly catching up with the silver clad team in the development race, after Sebastian Vettel finished within striking distance of the second-placed Nico Rosberg in Malaysia.

But Red Bull's Christian Horner said after Sepang: "It's a big gap. They have plenty up their sleeve."

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, acknowledged the Italian team is not yet even in a position to beat the second force of 2014, Red Bull.

"For Bahrain we can't expect any miracles, because we are practicing again in just five days and so no teams are going to make any sudden, giant steps," said the Spaniard.

"Top speed is also important in Bahrain and so I expect Williams to be strong as well. I want to be in the top five again.

"We need to keep finishing as close as we can to the top, so that we can think about the championship later on if the car is more competitive," Alonso is quoted by Speed Week.

As for McLaren, racing boss Eric Boullier was forthright when asked if the British team can close the gap to Mercedes for the start of the European season, when the first major development steps will be made.

"No," he answered.

Is Boullier confident the gap can be closed at all in 2014? "That's the right question," he added. "Maybe by Europe next year, yes."

More fuel flow problems for Red Bull
(GMM) Red Bull continued to grapple with fuel flow problems in Sunday's Malaysian grand prix.

While Sebastian Vettel finished third, it was his teammate Daniel Ricciardo's sister RB10 – disqualified in Melbourne over the very same issue – that was once again affected.

The sensor failed early on, but the team avoided disqualification this time around by simply following the FIA's advice about how to comply with the rules in the absence of the troublesome Gill device.

"Yes," Dr Helmut Marko told German television Sky, "this time the FIA asked us to check the correlation of our data and we did it."

Team boss Christian Horner suggested the continuing problems demonstrates that Red Bull has a strong argument to put forward at the forthcoming appeal hearing.

"I think it clearly demonstrates that there are issues with these sensors," he said.

Horner added that he has "no idea" why Red Bull is having more problems than any other rival.

A theory has been bouncing around the paddock that Red Bull's Total fuel might be a contributing factor.

"We are yet to understand why we always have problems when the others don't — it could be something related to the fuel, but we are trying to understand," said Marko.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said the Lotus driven by Pastor Maldonado in Malaysia also had a fuel sensor problem, so another theory is that the frequencies produced by Renault's turbo unit could be causing issues.

The publication also said it is possible that installation modifications made to the Gill unit by the Renault-powered teams could be damaging it.

Ricciardo's problems did not stop at the fuel sensor at Sepang, as he struggled with a pitstop problem and a subsequent stop-go penalty and a wing failure.

The 'unsafe release' from the pitstop will also cost him ten grid places in Bahrain this weekend, but boss Horner says he has been impressed with the Australian so far in 2014.

"Today didn't go his way but he gets out of the car and he's got a smile on his face," he said. "He knows that it will come right."

Drivers stall over new boss for F1 union
(GMM) The future of the F1 drivers' association appears in danger.

We reported after the season-opening Australian grand prix that current GPDA president Pedro de la Rosa wants to step down.

Speed Week said the Ferrari reserve driver informed his colleagues in Melbourne and scheduled a vote for his successor to take place in Malaysia.

But the same publication now reports that while the matter was put on the table at a meeting at Sepang, the drivers could not find a willing candidate.

The issue will reportedly be back on the agenda this weekend in Bahrain.

Alongside 43-year-old Spaniard de la Rosa, the other GPDA directors at present are Jenson Button and reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel.

Marko keeps pressure on 'sick' engine supplier
(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko is continuing to pile pressure on Red Bull's engine supplier Renault.

Although the total calamity of the winter season was overcome, the always-outspoken team director Marko insists Renault cannot even take the credit for that.

He told F1's official website that when the seriousness of the winter problems became clear, Red Bull "intervened".

"Together with Toro Rosso and Renault (we) started a collaboration to move forward," said Marko.

However, he still claims the only "sick" part of the RB10 package is the engine, insisting designer Adrian Newey's 2014 car is better than the dominant Mercedes.

"Yes, (with a better engine) we would be at the top again," said the blunt Austrian.

"But right now with a deficit of around 80 horse power that's simply not possible."

Marko hinted that if it was technically possibly to simply dump Renault and switch to a better engine, Red Bull would do it.

"You are bound to what you have," he said, "as there is no way of saying 'hey, from tomorrow we will use a Mercedes engine' – if they would give it to us – because this car is built around the Renault powertrain," he said.

Marko claimed that Red Bull had to use Renault's Melbourne-spec software in Malaysia because the Sepang version was "not working".

But Renault insists it is now ready to take the next development step for Bahrain.

"The positive is that, unlike Melbourne we don't go to the next race with a substantial job list of rectifications, rather items that will deliver more power and performance in Bahrain," said Remi Taffin.

Marko, however, suggested Red Bull is taking the problem of its straight-line speed deficit into its own hands.

"We are trying everything possible to find more speed on the straights without affecting the corners," he is quoted by German television Sky, "and I have to say that from this point of view we are progressing."

Marko told Bild newspaper: "We are bringing a few new parts from our factory to Bahrain, and also Renault has yet another update for the engine software."

Williams to discuss team orders with Massa
(GMM) Felipe Massa will be told what Williams "expects" him to do when instructions are issued during subsequent grands prix.

As ever in formula one, 'team orders' is not something teams even like to admit to doing.

"How could we do what to Felipe?" deputy boss Claire Williams responded to a question from British television Sky after the Malaysian grand prix.

At Sepang, Brazilian Massa at least twice ignored radio calls to let his teammate Valtteri Bottas pass him for seventh place.

One of the calls – "Valtteri is faster than you" – was almost eerily identical to Ferrari's infamous 'Fernando (Alonso) is faster than you' of Hockenheim 2010.

But Claire Williams initially tried to deny it was actually an order.

"At the end of the day, Felipe finished ahead of Valtteri," she insisted. "They were both told to cool it."

Asked if the team would be rebuking Massa, Williams added: "I'm going home now. That's me done for the day."

It was chief engineer Rod Nelson who had to acknowledge that Massa "didn't do what we would have preferred him to do" as Grove based Williams pursued the sixth-placed Jenson Button's extra points.

"The facts are we felt that Valtteri stood quite a good chance of getting past Button because his tires were about five laps younger," Nelson said at Sepang.

He explained that the radio calls were not made because Massa is once again being shuffled into an old Ferrari-like 'number 2' role.

"There's nothing else going on in the background," Nelson insisted. "We don't run like that — it's not like other teams where they have a number 1 driver and a number 2 driver. We've got two number one drivers."

He said the idea was simply to give Bottas "a go" at passing Button, and if he failed to do it, "we would have swapped our drivers over again".

"We will go through it with the drivers and discuss what we expect," said Nelson.

Toni Vilander, a Finnish racing driver and pundit for MTV3 television, said he thinks Massa should have obeyed the order.

"When a team asks, the driver should invariably follow," he said.

"I think Massa should perhaps have swallowed his pride and let Valtteri through," he added.

Alonso pinpoints Ferrari frailties
Alonso finished a distant fourth in last weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix and later labeled his race a "nightmare" as he struggled for grip.

The double world champion identified drivability off the corners and engine performance as two key areas Ferrari needs to work on to catch Red Bull and Mercedes.

"Traction was not good enough," said Alonso of his car's performance in Malaysia. "Out of the corners we were losing ground.

"We compare our traction with probably the best traction car out there, which is the Red Bull, so maybe it was more or less expected this deficit.

"With the top speed it's not secret we are not comparable with the Mercedes.

"They've been fastest in Australia, fastest in the [Bahrain] test, fastest here. I think we have some work to do.

"Obviously for Bahrain, there is not much to do because in a few days we are in the car again, but for China and Spain I think it's very clear what we need to bring to the car and we will do."

Alonso has spent the first two races of the season fighting with Nico Hulkenberg's Force India, rather than battling at the front, but the Spaniard still feels Ferrari has the potential to lift itself to the level he expects in order to fight for the championship.

"Obviously it's not the ideal position to start the championship, [but] the team is doing a massive effort to catch up and improve the situation," Alonso added.

"Personally I would like to fight for victories, but as long as you are in front of your team-mate normally you are doing something extra that the people expect.

"We will improve, that's for sure. We've only done two races. We are analyzing deeply the areas we need to.

"They seem clear to us and we will put a lot of effort to improve the car and run as soon as possible at the level of Mercedes and Red Bull. The hope is still perfectly there." Yahoo Eurosport UK

Vettel pushes Rosberg right to the wall at the start

Rosberg/Vettel bickering continues
Not satisfied at being 'told off' by Lewis Hamilton on Saturday, teammate Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel continued their bickering during Sunday's post-race press conference.

While post-race attention focused on the latest punishment meted out to Daniel Ricciardo and the team orders saga at Williams, Rosberg and Vettel were at it once again during the official press conference.

On Saturday the pair were effectively told to shut up by Lewis Hamilton as they bickered over Vettel's claim that Rosberg had impeded him in the final moments of qualifying and thereby prevented him from completing another lap. As the pair squabbled, Hamilton, who had been asked his feelings at having matched Jim Clark's record of 33 pole positions, was forced to say: "Hey guys, I can't even hear myself talk!"

"We're still figuring out who it was…" replied Vettel.

Unfortunately, following yesterday's somewhat controversial start, which saw Vettel move right across the track and force Rosberg worryingly close to the pit wall, the pair were at it again.

"I had a really good start, so I was happy about that because it's not so easy this year," said Rosberg. "The rear tires are harder and we have more torque. So it's very difficult to get it right – but it felt great and got away well and then Sebastian… I thought he was going to put me right into the wall, but he stopped just before – so thank you for that!

"I had a similar experience last year…" countered the world champion.

"…that doesn't make it right to do it again!" snapped Rosberg.

As sections of the media seek to create a Prost/Senna McLaren-type situation at Mercedes, it might be worth watching the two Germans, particularly as their frustration with other factors begins to set in. Pitpass

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