Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Pay driver Giedo van der Garde

    Webber slams 'pay driver' van der Garde

  • FIA confirms date for 'test-gate' hearing
  • No Silverstone debut for Pirelli tire tweak
  • Massa 'calm' about future beyond 2013 contract
  • Downbeat Hamilton plays down Mercedes rift
  • Lopez denies Allison absence causing Lotus slump
  • Button writes of 2013 title
  • Relations 'good' after criticism and scuffle – di Resta
  • Lotus: You don’t just lose 1.5s of pace New
  • We have faith in FIA, says di Montezemolo New

Webber slams 'pay driver' van der Garde
(GMM) Mark Webber has slammed Giedo van der Garde for being "a pay driver with no mirrors".

The insult is reminiscent of the Australian veteran's ridicule of "first lap nutcase" Romain Grosjean last year.

His angry jibe at van der Garde, a rookie this year, follows an incident in the Canadian grand prix, when the Red Bull and Caterham collided while Webber was lapping the Dutchman.

Webber was unimpressed with van der Garde's talents.

"We had a lot of blue flags as we approached the hairpin," he said. "Some guys maybe have too much concentration on (just) driving the cars."

Van der Garde, 28, was penalized five grid places for Silverstone, and apologized to Webber in the post-race team press release.

FIA confirms date for 'test-gate' hearing
(GMM) F1's governing body has confirmed a June 20 hearing date for the 'testgate' saga.

We first reported the June 20 date on Saturday, following rumors in the Montreal paddock that the FIA wanted to fast-track the international tribunal so that the matter is cleared up before the next race, at Silverstone ten days later.

A statement issued by the Paris-based federation said "charges" have been sent to Pirelli and Mercedes with their summons to the Place de la Concorde at 9.30am.

"The decision … will be published as soon as possible after the hearing," the FIA added.

There was a general consensus in Canada last weekend that Mercedes will be penalized for breaking the sporting regulations, but former F1 engineer Joan Villadelprat is not so sure.

"What I am sure of," he wrote in a column for El Pais newspaper, "is that Ross Brawn would not have used this year's car without assurances from the FIA.

"I know Ross very well, I worked with him for many years, and I am convinced that he has a written document signed by the parties responsible for the FIA to justify their (Pirelli and Mercedes') actions.

"I'm also sure it was Pirelli who asked for this season's car to be used, because it (the 2013 Mercedes) was the one having the most problems (on this year's tires)," added Villadelprat.

No Silverstone debut for Pirelli tire tweak
(GMM) Pirelli has called off its plans to change the design of its 2013 tires for the British grand prix and beyond.

F1's sole tire supplier has tweaked the design, replacing an inner steel belt with a Kevlar one, so as to stop the delamination problems seen this year.

Some teams, notably Red Bull and Mercedes, have pushed hard for the tweaked design that was tested for the first time in Canada, having criticized the current tires.

But others who are more comfortable with the existing design, like Ferrari, Lotus and Force India, are reluctant to agree to the race debut of the modified tire.

Because it has said the delaminations is an aesthetic problem rather a safety one, the change can only be introduced if the teams unanimously agree.

"Pirelli has announced that there will be no new tires at Silverstone," the German news agency DPA reports.

Paul Hembery has reportedly said the reason for not debuting the tire in Britain is because of the weather-interrupted testing in Montreal on Friday.

But it is also obvious that some teams are simply vetoing the change.

"From my point of view," Ferrari's Stefano Domenicali is quoted by O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper, "changing the tires during the season is wrong."

And after Paul di Resta ran for 57 laps before his first pitstop in Montreal, Force India sporting director Otmar Szafnauer agreed: "We have had no problems with delaminations.

"Why should Pirelli change the tires if we have shown that everything is ok?" he is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

And Spain's El Pais quoted a F1 team source as suggesting that rivals like Red Bull and Mercedes will have to get used to the current situation.

"Let them change the geometry of the suspension and improve their aerodynamics," the source said.

Massa 'calm' about future beyond 2013 contract
(GMM) Felipe Massa says he is relaxed about his future at Ferrari because he remains the best candidate for the famous Italian team.

Team boss Stefano Domenicali told O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper last weekend that the 32-year-old Brazilian's form means he is likely to stay in 2014.

"If Felipe keeps going as he has been, I do not see any problem for the future," he said.

Massa told Brazil's Totalrace that he is happy with his current situation.

"I am calm, I think the most important thing is to have good pace," he said, amid speculation his three recent crashes in Monaco and Canada might have hurt his bid for a new contract.

"I'm feeling good in the car. I'm very upset with what happened with the tires in Bahrain, and with the crashes I have had," Massa admitted.

"That has hurt my points a lot, but I'm happy with the car and with my driving, and that's what counts the most," he added.

Massa said he could only imagine Ferrari making a driver change if there was a clearly better candidate on the market.

"In my opinion, if there was someone so much better to put in my place, okay," he insisted.

"But I think (there's) not."

Downbeat Hamilton plays down Mercedes rift
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has played down talk of a rift with Mercedes, insisting he simply has "stuff" on his mind.

The 2008 world champion was notably downbeat after the Canadian grand prix, where he finished on the podium, two places ahead of his on-form teammate, Monaco winner Nico Rosberg.

But during the Montreal race, Hamilton snapped at his race engineer whilst receiving information about the wear of the tires.

"Please just let me drive, man," the Briton snapped.

Hamilton, however, said his reaction does not indicate tension within the team, but simply the tension of the moment as he raced to the checkered flag.

"Being hunted down by Fernando (Alonso) is like being chased by a bull and so I just didn't need anyone in my ear when I was already at the maximum I could go at," he said.

Hamilton hinted that the main issue on his mind is his battle for superiority at Mercedes, in the recent wake of Rosberg's hat-trick of poles and Monaco win.

"I don't settle for anything but the best and wins; I still haven't got a win, Nico has won a race, so I need to get a win," he said.

"What I'm projecting is not disappointment, I've just got stuff on my mind."

Lopez denies Allison absence causing Lotus slump
(GMM) Team owner Gerard Lopez has snapped at suggestions the recent departure of highly rated technical director James Allison has caused a performance slump at Lotus.

Off the back of a stellar start to the season, Kimi Raikkonen has dropped from second in the world championship to third, following two less impressive outings for the black E21 in Monaco and Canada.

"It hasn't made the world championships any easier for us," Lopez admitted to Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper, as Lotus also drops to fourth behind Mercedes in the constructors' standings.

"It is clear we cannot afford a third consecutive miserable weekend at Silverstone," he added.

"Monaco is Monaco and we had a bad start to the weekend, off on the wrong foot, but we have now suffered badly in terms of both of the championships (after Canada)," Lopez continued.

"This cannot be accepted. For Silverstone, I expect us to be absolutely as strong as we were before Monaco."

Lopez slammed suggestions Lotus' slump is connected to the recent departure of James Allison.

"It has no effect," he insisted. "He is a good man, but he's not a god."

Lopez also rejected speculation lead driver Raikkonen, amid speculation he has been offered Mark Webber's Red Bull seat for 2014, is growing frustrated with the situation at Lotus.

"Everything is perfectly ok with Kimi," he said.

Button writes of 2013 title
(GMM) Hot on the heels of his downbeat assessment of McLaren's performance in Canada, Jenson Button has now written off the 2013 title.

The great British team's lead driver said after failing to score points in Montreal that, seven races into the troubled development of the MP4-28, the gap to the front of the field remains "massive".

Button has now told British newspapers: "We're so far behind, we're never going to win the championship this year."

Indeed, with 12 races to go in 2013, Button is already more than 100 points behind in the drivers' standings.

The obvious temptation for a heavily-resourced team like McLaren would be to now switch all of its focus towards the radical new regulations and an all-new, V6-powered car for 2014.

But Button suggested the Woking based team is determined to improve in 2013.

"We can still win grands prix," he said, even though he ruled out a podium for his home British grand prix, next time out at Silverstone later this month.

As for how long the slump will last, the 33-year-old admitted: "No one knows the answer to that. It's pointless for me to try and answer."

Relations 'good' after criticism and scuffle – di Resta
(GMM) Paul di Resta insists his relationship with Force India remains "good", despite two rounds of hefty criticism and rumors of a garage scuffle.

The Scot was not only heavily critical of the team's qualifying strategy in Monaco, but he said the way Force India left him in the Montreal pits with a minor problem during the best track conditions last Saturday was "clearly not acceptable".

After that, rumors of a scuffle between the 27-year-old's trainer and a team mechanic were not denied by the Silverstone based team.

Still, di Resta insists that his angry criticism of Force India was "taken constructively" by the management.

"Everybody in the team felt the same," he is quoted by the BBC.

"The person who made the mistake apologized and I'm fully supportive of that.

"Looking back, I don't think I was too harsh. When you work with the team so closely, it's good to have that heat because you need to show your emotion," said di Resta.

"If I'd made a mistake twice, I'd be kicking myself and the team would come down hard on me — and rightly so."

Di Resta moved on from his horror Montreal qualifying to finish a solid seventh on Sunday, on the occasion of Force India's 100th grand prix.

"We regrouped," he said, "showed we can do it and, as far as my relationship with the team is concerned, it's still good."

Lotus: You don’t just lose 1.5s of pace
Lotus team principal Eric Boullier has told autosport he hopes his team’s performance at the 2013 Canadian grand prix was a one off and that you don’t just lose 1.5s of pace between race to race.

“This is a very specific track, and with our car we could just not switch the tires on, it does not help as well when it is cold and it is wet.

“Our pace was not so bad with Romain Grosjean in practice but, if you look at the race, we were 1.5 seconds slower than Red Bull and Mercedes.

“You do not lose 1.5 seconds from one race to another one. It is just that something went wrong.

“We have some good developments coming for Silverstone, so that should help us keep up and close the gap to the leader and with normal tracks we should be able to get the best out of our car." .

“We lost positions, so we have to work hard to keep the pace, but we know the car is competitive, and the team is competitive.

“There is no reason why we should not be back fighting for podiums.

“We didn’t have the five podiums in a row since the start of the season just by chance or coincidence. It is because the package is competitive.

“But we may struggle some time on some tracks. We know this and we have to work on this to at least avoid this happening this season at low energy tracks – and next year as well."

We have faith in FIA, says di Montezemolo
Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has expressed faith in the FIA ahead of the International Tribunal involving rivals Mercedes, the Italian "noting with satisfaction" that actions are being taken over the team's private post-Spanish GP tire test.

At last month's Monaco Grand Prix, Ferrari and Red Bull both lodged protests to the stewards after discovering the three-day, 1000km test had taken place at the Circuit de Catalunya, with the teams unhappy over the fact that Mercedes used a 2013 car.

Although Ferrari had completed a similar test following the Bahrain Grand Prix, a 2011 chassis was used, clearing the Maranello-based outfit of any wrongdoing. And, ahead of the hearing on 20 June which has subsequently been organized by the FIA, di Montezemolo has praised the governing body for its response to the situation.

"We have faith in the FIA," said di Montezemolo, whose team sits 11 points ahead of Mercedes in the standings. "I do not wish to comment, but I note with satisfaction that the Federation is following this incident well. "Let’s hope Formula 1 can maintain its professionalism and we have faith that those who attempt to circumvent the regulations are pursued and prosecuted, or rather more prosecuted than pursued."

If found guilty at the International Tribunal, which is being held in Paris, Mercedes faces penalties ranging from a fine to exclusion from the World Championship.

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