Latest F1 news in brief – Monday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Hamilton – Did you see how fast those Renaults are?

    Mercedes vows to match Renault's engine trickery

  • Pirelli renews quit threat amid push for tests
  • Ferrari's de la Rosa admits 2014 car 'ugly' rumors
  • Ferrari plays down Massa's team orders defiance
  • Van der Garde, Bianchi unpunished
  • Ferrari won't discipline Felipe Massa for ignoring team orders in the Japanese GP New
  • Q and A with Martin Whitmarsh after Japanese GP New

Mercedes vows to match Renault's engine trickery
(GMM) Mercedes has vowed to catch F1's runaway Renault-powered teams, as it risks losing millions in Concorde Agreement bonus money.

Formerly looking set to finish second behind Red Bull in the lucrative constructors' championship, Mercedes had a bad weekend in Japan and is now ten points behind Ferrari.

Not only that, Lotus – whose Romain Grosjean was challenging for victory at Suzuka – is no longer far behind in the teams' title chase.

Mercedes, on the other hand, has lost ground.

"Red Bull has taken a big step forward since Singapore," Toto Wolff told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, adding that the similarly Renault-powered Lotus is now a few tenths ahead.

"We need to analyze what they have done," said Mercedes' motor sport chief.

The German report said Wolff suspects that the top two Renault-powered teams are now streaking away with a clever engine mapping and exhaust-blowing solution.

"If that's the case," Wolff said, "we need to find out why we have missed something.

"We think we know what they're doing. The only question is whether we have the resources to implement something in the last four races.

"Perhaps we will need to reallocate some resources," he added.

The problem is that, at Mercedes' Brixforth engine facility, all the test benches are reportedly now being used for next year's turbo V6 development.

Pirelli renews quit threat amid push for tests
(GMM) Behind closed doors, Pirelli is stamping its feet as it pushes to prepare for 2014.

International reports, including in Spain's El Mundo Deportivo and by Italy's Italiaracing, say the sport's tire supplier wants all the major F1 teams to take their 2013 cars to two tire tests in Abu Dhabi in November and December.

"We can't carry on going round in circles and decide to do nothing," Paul Hembery said recently. "Something has to change."

Pirelli's frustration is with the lack of cooperation from the teams amid the Italian marque's tumultuous 2013 season, where the criticism of its products has been at fever pitch.

So the reports say Pirelli will demand the Abu Dhabi tests when F1's new strategic committee meets next Monday.

"Pirelli wants the same treatment that Bridgestone and Michelin had, when they could test their tires at length," read the El Mundo Deportivo report.

Correspondent Raymond Blancafort said that if the teams or the FIA refuse, Pirelli president "Marco Tronchetti Provera could leave F1 without tires" for 2014.

Italiaracing's Massimo Costa added: "Pirelli is tired of tainting its name because of a formula one in which it is forbidden to test in a proper way".

Ferrari's de la Rosa admits 2014 car 'ugly' rumors
(GMM) Pedro de la Rosa has heard the paddock whispers about 'ugly'-looking formula one cars in 2014.

Adrian Newey, the designer of the dominant Red Bulls of the past few seasons, revealed last week that his car for next year's radical new rules is not pretty.

Asked if he has seen Ferrari's 2014 car, test driver Pedro de la Rosa said no.

"I heard that they are going to be different," the Spaniard told Marca sports newspaper, echoing Newey's claim that the nose of the cars will be "very low".

When asked if the new Ferrari is 'ugly', he answered: "I don't know.

"It's true that you hear comments, not only here but in other teams, of people saying 'Hey, our car is very ugly, is yours?'" added de la Rosa.

Ultimately, the biggest question is about whether the new rules will shake up the pecking order in F1 — or, more specifically, will Red Bull's dominance finally end?

"No idea," de la Rosa smiled. "Honestly. We are working hard, but without any reference.

"But for the first time, the engine will have a significance about equal or even greater than the aerodynamics," he added.

Ferrari plays down Massa's team orders defiance
(GMM) Ferrari has played down Felipe Massa's refusal to obey a direct team order in Sunday's Japanese grand prix.

While running ahead of teammate Fernando Alonso at Suzuka, Brazilian Massa – who is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season – was told by his engineer Rob Smedley to let the Spaniard past.

"Multi-function strategy A. Now, please," Smedley was heard to say on the radio.

Massa refused to either respond or obey, forcing Alonso to pass him in a wheel-to-wheel battle many laps later.

"We cannot make a big thing about it," Alonso said afterwards, hinting he understands Massa's frustration.

"Sometimes it's difficult, especially when you are fighting for seventh, eighth place.

"It would be nice to go back to the old days in Ferrari, fighting for first and second and deciding who wins the races, like Red Bull does," he added.

When quizzed about the 'Multi-function strategy A' command, which is eerily similar to Red Bull's infamous 'Multi-21', Massa readily admitted it was a team order that he refused to obey.

"It was an instruction," the Brazilian confirmed.

"We're never happy with instructions," added Massa. "Whatever happened in the race was not over any instruction; he overtook me on the track.

"We fought on the track," added reiterated.

He is quoted by Speed Week: "I have said several times now that I do not make presents. And I've said that I am racing for me — I am doing my races."

Team boss Stefano Domenicali played down Massa's defiance.

"I can understand his feeling," he said. "The team will totally support him until the end of the season, no problem."

A controversy was also brewing within the dominant Red Bull team on Sunday, amid suspicions pole sitter Mark Webber's race was deliberately compromised when he was switched from a two to a three-stop strategy.

"All of a sudden we decided to do a three," the Australian, whose teammate Sebastian Vettel extended his winning streak, revealed.

"I was a little bit surprised. I asked was it the right thing to do."

Boss Dr Helmut Marko insisted, however, that the retiring Webber was not 'sacrificed' to help Vettel.

"No!" he told Germany's Bild am Sonntag.

"We chose during the race to change our strategy because we could not assess whether Grosjean is doing two or three stops.

"If we had done nothing, we would have been second and third," Marko added.

Van der Garde, Bianchi unpunished
Caterham driver Giedo van der Garde and Marussia's Jules Bianchi have escaped penalties following their collision on the opening lap of the Japanese Grand Prix.

The pair made contact on the run down to Turn 1, before sliding into the gravel trap. But after assessing the relevant footage the stewards determined that Max Chilton also had a part to play in the incident, with none of the trio predominantly at fault.

"The incident was the result of actions by the drivers of car 21 (Giedo van der Garde) and car 23 (Max Chilton) which contributed to car 21 impacting the rear right of car 22 (Jules Bianchi)," read a stewards' statement. "The Stewards do not believe either the driver of car 21 or car 22 were wholly or predominately to blame for the incident."

Ferrari won't discipline Felipe Massa for ignoring team orders in the Japanese GP
Stefano Domenicali says Felipe Massa will not be reprimanded by Ferrari for ignoring team orders during the Japanese Grand Prix.

Massa was running ahead of team-mate Fernando Alonso during the early stages of Sunday's race when his engineer Rob Smedley told him over Ferrari's pits-to-car radio: "Multi-function strategy A, multi-function strategy A. Now please!"

That message was believed to be code instructing Massa to move aside in order to allow the Spaniard to pass, but the Brazilian, who will not be retained by the team next season, opted to ignore the order.

Team Principal Domenicali was asked about the incident after the race, but insisted he will not speak to the 32-year-old about the matter as the team have more important issues to focus on.

"No not really," he told the assembled media when asked if it was an issue.

"To be honest with you we brought home today what was the maximum and there is no point in creating something around these things as there are other things that we need to focus on to try and improve the car up to the end of the championship."

Alonso, who later passed Massa in any case, echoed the views of his boss and vowed there are no problems between himself and Massa.

"We cannot make a big thing out of it," the Spaniard said. "We are racing and whatever we did we would have finished in the same position because we could not achieve anything more. I don't know exactly what happened, but there is zero problem.

"We are trying to do our best fairly – me, the team – to score as many points as possible and sometimes it is not easy when the performance is not super. It is never easy when we are fighting for seventh and eighth place."

However, in an apparent barbed reference to the furor over Red Bull's strategy calls during Sunday's race, Alonso added:

"It would be nice to come back to the old days at Ferrari of fighting over first and second and then deciding who wins like Red Bull do – one car does two stops, one car does three stops and they finish first and second.

"I am always trying to do my maximum and Ferrari are always trying to do their maximum so let's do our maximum in the last four races."

Alonso has failed to qualify higher than fifth since the Bahrain GP and is yet to start on the front-row this season. That poor Saturday record is something Domenicali has identified as key to improving if the team are to stay ahead of Mercedes and Lotus in the Constructors' Championship.

"From now on the fight is with Mercedes and Lotus and it will be very tight and we need to make sure we improve the car," the Italian added.

"We can do it – we need to improve the qualifying as that is quite difficult and we know that basically everything is tapered by the position at the start and the first couple of laps, then it just becomes a case of how you manage the traffic. When we were behind the train of cars today on the hard tires, we were lapping three seconds slower than the cars at the front, so at the end of the day that is really the point.

"If we want to keep fighting we need to try and improve the car and there are some things that we can bring in the next couple of races and also the position in qualifying. That will be difficult as Red Bull are very strong and Mercedes seem to have something more in qualifying, but this is the target. There are still four races to go and we have second with a great aggressiveness behind and it is fundamental for all of our engineering staff to keep their heads up to the end as we want to keep that position." Sky Sports

Q and A with Martin Whitmarsh after Japanese GP
The McLaren boss reflects on a difficult Japanese GP and discusses the team's driver line-up plans for 2014 as well as the recruitment of aerodynamicist Peter Prodromou from Red Bull.

How would you describe Sunday's race?
Martin Whitmarsh: "It was a tough race. Jenson made a good start actually, he was good off the line and was on the outside where he was making up a few places but he was then caught on the outside of Turn One where we had had the Vettel-Lewis incident.

"That put him back and then through that first lap he flat-spotted so he had very high vibrations and a struggle. Ultimately, that struggle meant we switched to a three-stop, which wasn't going to optimum for him, but that meant that, and it was always going to be tough thereafter. But I think Jenson did a reasonable good coming back from that. For Checo, he made a reasonable start, but then the first stop went wrong with the Nico Rosberg incident and he came out behind Jenson. We had two untidy stops, where we lost a second or two apiece, which was unfortunate. And then had a puncture which turned what should have been a two-stop into a three-stop. So messy, really.

"I think Checo would have been the points without that puncture – but not what you want for the afternoon."

Sergio had quite a scruffy weekend, crashing out in Practice Two, any concerns about that?
MW: "No. Firstly, a lot of people had incidents here – it's that sort of circuit. As for the incident on Friday, I think I could probably show you 50 of those with that very corner and that very incident. There's something about the entry into Spoon. You drift over to the right – Michael [Schumacher] did it last year on Friday, it's one of the things that happen – so, it's not great, but okay.

"I think he was racing well and without the problems he could have got seventh or eighth. But, from where we are at the moment, I think in the last two or three races he's driven very well indeed."

Where do you think Jenson could have ended up without the switch in strategy and without the flat-spot?
MW: "Given we had to switch and had the flat-stop, we could have been one or two places higher up, but that's where we are at the moment – that's all."

Are you any closer to confirming your second driver for 2014?
MW: "Yes."

So, Sergio then?
MW: "I'm closer because I'm one day closer than I was yesterday and, guess what, tomorrow I will be one day closer as well!"

Are there any factors you have in mind when making that final decision?
MW: "I've said all along 'let's have a few races go by and then let's have a chat', and that's exactly what we are going to do. There's no tearing rush to do this at the moment. I know it's an interesting story – and a whole load of spurious stories stem from it – but we are in no hurry."

Turning to the news on Peter Prodromou from Red Bull. You say you have signed him, Red Bull say he is under contract. What's the situation there? How will it be resolved?
MW: "Firstly, he has a contract and he will be working for us in the future. But currently he is employed by Red Bull and we have to respect that, which is why we are not talking about timeframes. But the fact is that he has a contract and he will come to McLaren."

Do you think he may be placed on gardening leave?
MW: "Again, they may do that, but that's for Red Bull to discuss, it's not for me because it's not in my power."

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