Latest F1 news in brief – Sunday

  • Red Bull, Mercedes spat over Rosberg 'block'
  • F1 driver 'passed out' in Malaysia
  • Ecclestone on a mission to make more noise
  • Raikkonen to retire after Ferrari stint

Red Bull, Mercedes spat over Rosberg 'block'
(GMM) A spat between Red Bull and Mercedes broke out on Saturday after the fight for pole at Sepang.

"Rosberg apparently forgot to look in his mirror," Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko told German television Sky.

He claims Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, not on a flying lap, "blocked" Sebastian Vettel as the reigning world champion pursued Lewis Hamilton's pole position in wet Malaysia.

In the end, Vettel's deficit to pole was a mere five hundredths of a second.

Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda hit back at Marko, claiming picking out a formula one car some few seconds behind amid plumes of rain spray is "not like when you're driving on the highway".

And "I think there is traffic all over the roads, even in Austria," Lauda added.

"Such things can just happen," said Lauda.

Seated next to Rosberg in the post-qualifying press conference, Vettel said: "Nico couldn't see much in his mirrors, I guess.

"Obviously I was pissed off – sorry, angry – at the time because although it was a two or three second gap it was enough that the next corner was completely blind."

Rosberg, however, immediately professed his innocence.

"I don't think that was me," he insisted. "I never had anybody behind me."

Shortly after, when polesitter Lewis Hamilton was discussing his session with reporters, the 2008 world champion became frustrated because teammate Rosberg and Vettel were still privately debating the 'block'.

"Hey guys, I can't even hear myself talk," said Hamilton.

Later, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport quoted Rosberg as explaining: "Sebastian was two and a half seconds behind me, so I couldn't see him at all in the spray.

"Besides, I was too far in front of him to be in his way," he insisted.

Nonetheless, it emerges that Red Bull's team manager Jonathan Wheatley took the matter to the stewards, who promptly dismissed the complaint.

Lauda shook his head: "Why would Helmut get in a bad mood about this rather than rejoice that Vettel is next to a Mercedes on the front row?"

F1 driver 'passed out' in Malaysia
(GMM) F1 drivers' extreme dieting in 2014 caused one racer to pass out in Malaysia, it emerges.

We reported on Saturday that some drivers are deliberately dehydrating, even at sweltering Sepang, in order to get the weight of their car below the legal 692kg limit.

"That is what I was going to do," admitted Jenson Button. "Go in a sauna, steam room, not drink or eat until after qualifying.

"It is a shame for the guys who have to do it."

It appears, in fact, that Button has been toying with dehydration 'strategies' in Malaysia.

"Morning run for Jenson," his trainer, Mikey Collier, said on Twitter on Saturday, "with pre and post weight measurements to guide hydration strategies, taking driver weight loss to the extreme."

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton agreed that he has also heard that some drivers' dieting has become "hardcore".

"I heard someone was doing that, exhausting themselves," said the Briton.

Now, The Times correspondent Kevin Eason has reported that one unnamed F1 driver "passed out at a function in Malaysia, underlining fears that some are starving themselves to meet new weight limits".

Martin Brundle, the commentator for British television Sky, said on Saturday that he has heard the very same story.

Among the very heaviest drivers on the grid is the tall Adrian Sutil, who reportedly weighs a whopping 12 kilograms more than his teammate Esteban Gutierrez.

Worse still, the Ferrari-powered C33 is believed to be well over the 692kg minimum weight, whether the featherweight Gutierrez or Sutil is at the wheel.

The Swiss newspaper Blick reports that Sauber is working on "a new lightweight chassis" to introduce at the Spanish grand prix in mid May.

"We are planning an ambitious weight loss program," a team source confirmed.

Ecclestone on a mission to make more noise
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has been on a mission in Malaysia this weekend to turn up the volume in formula one.

Apparently alarmed that the sport's new, quieter tones will drive away promoters, sponsors and fans, the F1 chief executive has been hard at work trying to come up with a way to make the turbo V6s louder.

"We think there's a way," Ecclestone told the BBC late on Saturday.

"They're working on it and I think we're going to get it done."

However, not everyone likes the sound of all the bleating about F1's new 'power units'.

After Sebastian Vettel denounced the sound as "shit", McLaren's Jenson Button was quoted as telling the reigning world champion to "go and race somewhere else".

"My criticism was not directed at Sebastian, but more generally," the 2009 world champion is quoted by Germany's Auto Bild.

"I think that if we (formula one) are criticizing ourselves, that cannot be good for the sport and the sponsors," Button added.

"Of course we have to listen to the opinion of the fans, but at the moment we can't change the sound anyway. So there's no point for us to be saying bad things about F1," he said.

Similarly, Mercedes' Nico Rosberg was quoted by Italy's La Repubblica as likening those who are complaining to "children".

"Do they not understand that formula one has to be contemporary?" the German added.

"We're going into emerging markets and new economies and it's right that we are raising awareness about the issue of clean energy. As drivers we're responsible for that too," said Rosberg.

Actually, the debate about the sound of the engines is drowning out some of the sport's deeper issues.

Lauda told the Independent on Saturday that the teams are "fighting like you wouldn't believe", involving not only spats between the big players but also at the rear of the grid.

For the small teams, the big issue is the stonewalling over the issue of cost-cutting, with Force India's Bob Fernley warning that "all the smaller teams could fall by the wayside" if nothing is done.

But Ecclestone is warning that even billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz could quit, so frustrated is he with the 'new' and quiet F1.

"I wouldn't bet my money he won't leave the sport," the 83-year-old Briton warned, amid wild rumors he and Mateschitz could actually be preparing an audacious bid to take over control of the sport.

As ever in F1, deep and mysterious political machinations are buried underneath all the noise.

Ecclestone was spotted in an hour-long meeting on Saturday not only with Donald Mackenzie, the CVC chief who is rarely seen at grands prix, but none other than Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.

None of the parties would comment on the topic of their conversation, but Horner has often been mentioned as the ideal successor should CVC be forced to oust Ecclestone over the Gerhard Gribkowsky corruption affair.

Not only that, a week after the Bahrain grand prix, the governing FIA will hear Red Bull's appeal against the Daniel Ricciardo disqualification, with the outcome tipped to have dramatic consequences.

"It's always a big few weeks for formula one," 1996 world champion turned television pundit Damon Hill wryly told the Daily Mail newspaper at Sepang.

"It creates its own dramas around the relatively simple task of making cars go round the race track.

"But what makes this more important than normal is that the sport is in transition but nobody is sure where it is transitioning to," he added.

Raikkonen to retire after Ferrari stint
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen thinks Ferrari will be his last team in formula one.

"I am glad to be here again and I am sure that I will not change again," the Finn told Germany's Sport Bild in Malaysia.

Raikkonen, now the oldest driver on the grid, made his debut for Sauber as a highly-inexperienced 21-year-old, going on to win races for McLaren and the title for Ferrari in 2007.

His mid-contract split from Ferrari at the end of 2009 was partly acrimonious, as he left F1 altogether and enjoyed a two-year sabbatical with rallying and Nascar exploits.

Raikkonen returned to the grid with Lotus in 2012 and, with his pace intact and achieving highly consistent results, he was re-signed by Ferrari to be Fernando Alonso's teammate in 2014 and beyond.

But, now 34, he told Sport Bild: "I will not drive in formula one forever.

"I already said in my first time at Ferrari that this will be my last team," Raikkonen smiled. "As you can see, I have kept my word."

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