Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday (Updated)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Monaco will be race of tires, not drivers

    Pirelli to only change rear tires for Canada

  • Costly day for Mercedes after Hamilton prank
  • Vettel, Massa agree Mercedes favorites in Monaco
  • McLaren wants to be only Honda-powered team in 2015
  • Ferrari's Fry back to work in Monaco
  • Red Bull move for Raikkonen 'logical' – Hakkinen
  • Mercedes clarifies Hamilton jet-ski incident New
  • Vettel denies claims Monaco too unsafe for F1 New
  • Let's Race is official Marussia F1 fan HQ New
  • Honda will poach Mercedes info from McLaren New
  • Force India to veto Pirelli tire tweaks New

Pirelli to only change rear tires for Canada
(GMM) The 'T-word' was still the big topic of conversation as the F1 world congregated in Monaco on Wednesday.

But the big paddock whisper is that changes to Pirelli's 2013 tires will be only minor in Montreal next month and beyond.

According to the strong and widespread rumor, the only minor change will be to the rear tires — which is good news for Ferrari and Lotus, and not-so-good for Mercedes and Red Bull.

"Anything else would be unfair," Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

"You can't change everything just because some teams can't cope with the tires.

"We can live with the idea of stronger rear tires. I think that will help everybody."

The Finn is also quoted by MTV3 broadcaster: "The fairest thing would be to continue with the current tires, but I know there is a lot of pressure to change something."

It is believed teams will learn more about the rear tire tweak on Thursday.

In the meantime, the issue continues to divide the paddock. Ferrari's Fernando Alonso said Red Bull's complaining is just sour grapes.

Force India to veto Pirelli tire tweaks
(GMM) Force India will oppose any move to alter Pirelli's existing 2013 tires.

It has emerged in the Monaco paddock that, following the controversial reaction to its planned significant changes for Canada and beyond, the Italian supplier now intends only to tweak the rear tires.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said the change would be only to the steel lining underneath the tread, which was overheating and causing delaminations.

Pirelli wants to revert to the kevlar lining of 2012.

"This would not change the shape of the tire, so the teams would not have to change their aerodynamics," said Paul Hembery.

Correspondent Michael Schmidt, however, thinks the change could alter slightly the behavior of the tire, because temperatures would drop by up to ten degrees and reduce graining.

But motor sport director Hembery insists: "This change would not punish those who are already doing well with these tires."

Nevertheless, Pirelli will struggle to get the change through.

"We will not agree to any change," said Force India's sporting director Otmar Szafnauer.

"Pirelli needs unanimity, and so nothing is going to change," he promised.

"We built our car based on the specifications given to us by Pirelli in September 2012.

"Changing the steel ring for kevlar changes the dynamics of the tire, which some teams might prefer.

"We don't see why Pirelli should intervene just because a few teams are having problems. They should change their cars instead," added Szafnauer.

He also does not sympathize with Pirelli wanting to make the change to stop rear tire delaminations.

"The tires are safe," he said, "because when they are damaged they are still inflated. It just looks stupid, but we don't agree to the change just so Pirelli can have a better image."

"It sometimes happens when you win too easily for some years, it's difficult to lose some races after," he told English-language reporters.

In his native Spanish tongue, however, Alonso was even more blunt.

"I believe this year we are seeing that they (Red Bull) are not all angels. We saw it in Malaysia and now with these statements.

"When you win in an easy way for a few years, you can forget how to lose," the Spaniard added.

At the very same time, Red Bull's world champion Sebastian Vettel continued to boldly criticize the Pirelli situation.

He is quoted by SID news agency: "It's like a professional skier having to change for the following season to wooden skis.

"I don't want to speak ill of people," added Vettel, "but in this context they (Pirelli) need to do a better job.

"We have seen repeatedly that the surface of the tire comes off. This is because they are not good enough."

He is quoted by Italy's Autosprint: "None of us want our tread to come off in the tunnel."

However, Vettel rejects the idea that Red Bull is complaining more than any other team.

"I think you (journalists) would rather quote us than Marussia for example.

"But in the driver meetings I even hear Lotus complain that they have the same problem as us, but less extremely. So we're not the only ones complaining," the German added.

Costly day for Mercedes after Hamilton prank
(GMM) Wednesday was a costly day in Monaco for Mercedes.

According to Swiss newspaper Blick's veteran F1 correspondent Roger Benoit, Lewis Hamilton lost his temper with a boatload of photographers whilst jet-skiing in the Monaco harbor.

The report said Hamilton performed an extra-tight turn in front of the photographers, deliberately soaking their photo and TV cameras and mobile phones with a wave of seawater.

"An expensive prank," said Benoit.

"Hamilton's team Mercedes apologized and paid for the $150,000 (!) in damage."

Later, Hamilton spoke to reporters in the Monaco paddock for his usual media duties with his pet Roscoe – a bulldog – snoring loudly on his lap.

Vettel, Massa agree Mercedes favorites in Monaco
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel on Wednesday said he agrees that Mercedes is the favorite heading into the Monaco grand prix weekend.

Barcelona winner Fernando Alonso was the first to tip the German team for a win in the Principality, despite Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton having struggled so much with Pirelli tire wear at recent races.

"I can understand why people are saying Mercedes is the favorite," German Vettel told Brazil's Totalrace in Monaco on Wednesday.

"They have had a great speed in qualifying in the last few races, and we all know that it's so important to qualify up the front in Monaco.

"But it's difficult to know if the tires will be as important here. The question is will they last.

"Perhaps pole won't be everything, but overtaking here is very difficult," the Red Bull driver added.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa, however, thinks that even if Mercedes does run into tire trouble in Monaco, Hamilton or Rosberg might still be able to win.

"I believe they will suffer in the race," said the Brazilian, "because they suffer in all the races.

"But even if you do suffer here, you can hold your position," added Massa. "This could be the best track for them."

McLaren wants to be only Honda-powered team in 2015
(GMM) McLaren looks set to be the only Honda-powered team in 2015.

The great British team is already signed up to be Japanese carmaker's 'works' partner, but it had been reported that Lotus, Sauber and Williams had enquired about becoming customers of Honda's turbo V6 engine.

Indeed, it was believed that – under FIA rules – Honda was actually obliged to make available its engines to one or more customer teams when it returns to F1.

But German-language reports, in Speed Week and by the SID news agency, quote Martin Whitmarsh as suggesting Honda is in fact not obliged to have customers.

"To my knowledge there is nothing in the regulations forcing an engine supplier to supply several teams," he reportedly told The Racer's Edge.

"So we look forward to an exclusive collaboration with Honda," the McLaren boss added.

Whitmarsh also seemed to play down reports linking Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi with a possible return to F1 in McLaren's new Honda era.

"If we did that (signed a Japanese driver), it would be a driver that we have helped to develop," he said.

Ferrari's Fry back to work in Monaco
(GMM) Pat Fry will return to duty for Ferrari this weekend in Monaco.

The great Italian team's British technical director had his appendix removed in a Barcelona hospital less than two weeks ago, forcing him to miss qualifying and the Spanish grand prix.

Mathias Bruner, the correspondent for German-language Speed Week, said 49-year-old Fry will also sit out Thursday's practice sessions in Monaco.

"But on Friday he will be in Monaco," he added, "and in the pits as usual on Saturday and Sunday."

Red Bull move for Raikkonen 'logical' – Hakkinen
(GMM) Red Bull would be a "logical" move for Kimi Raikkonen, according to fellow Finnish driver Mika Hakkinen.

This week, Lotus' Raikkonen effectively confirmed rumors Red Bull has made him an offer for 2014, admitting he has "two options" for his next F1 contract.

Hakkinen, a former double world champion, said Red Bull would be a wise move for his countryman.

"We can see that Red Bull's situation is quite a lot stronger," the 44-year-old is quoted by Finnish broadcaster MTV3.

"If there is a place open there, then yes, I think it would be quite logical," added Hakkinen.

But as Raikkonen pointed out, even moving to the team that has won the last three drivers' and constructors' championships on the trot is not a simple calculation.

"Of course, they have won a number of years in a row, but next year the rules are changing," he told MTV3.

"It's a bit of a lottery who will make a good car and who will not."

Mercedes clarifies Hamilton jet-ski incident
(GMM) Mercedes on Thursday hit back at reports Lewis Hamilton racked up a huge damage bill after a jet-skiing stunt in Monaco.

A Swiss newspaper had said the 2008 world champion performed an extra-tight turn in front of a boat of photographers on Wednesday, deliberately soaking and damaging photo and TV cameras and mobile phones.

Blick journalist Roger Benoit said Mercedes had apologized and vowed to pay the $150,000 repair bill.

But a Mercedes source on Thursday insisted that the story was not the classic case of a celebrity lashing out at paparazzi.

Rather, Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were performing on jet-skis for a television film crew.

And the claims about the cost of the damage to equipment was also wrong, the source said.

"The TV equipment is fine, as Sky themselves confirmed to journalists asking questions yesterday," said the source.

"One photographer who failed to protect his camera equipment got some water inside it. But not specifically from something Lewis did.

"As he is a freelancer, we will make the goodwill gesture of helping to repair/replace the equipment," he added.

Vettel denies claims Monaco too unsafe for F1
(GMM) World champion Sebastian Vettel has hit back at claims Monaco holds only a dubious place on the formula one calendar.

Earlier this week, former driver Ralf Schumacher reportedly criticized the fabled street circuit in the Principality, insisting it is not safe enough for modern F1 standards.

"Well, I see it this way," said Red Bull's Vettel, when asked about Schumacher's comments.

"There is always a certain risk that you can't get away from," he told Bild newspaper.

"But in recent years a tremendous amount has been done in the name of safety. I don't feel unsafe at Monaco."

Mercedes' Nico Rosberg – a Monaco resident who was fastest in first practice on Thursday – added: "Sure, Monaco is one of the most dangerous tracks.

"But it's so traditional that you have to make some compromises. It's simply a must — there's nothing to discuss."

Let's Race is official Marussia F1 fan HQ
Lets Race is proud to announce a new partnership with the Marussia F1 Team, which will see us become the fan headquarters for the team racing in the 2013 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.
Lets Race becomes Official Marussia F1 Team Fan HQ

Lets Race offers 10 state of the art, full motion professional simulators for unbelievable virtual racing and is the simulated motor racing arm of the Capsicum Motorsport group; which also incorporates the rich heritage of the Carlin team who dominate the junior formulae in single seater racing.

Located in Horley, near Gatwick airport, our professional simulators feature a booming sound system, as the blacked out sim room comes alive whilst spectators can sit in the grandstand to watch the races unfold. Down on the illuminated grated floor are the 10 full motion simulators, each featuring our brand new motion algorithm, giving a greater feel to the car and a step closer to the real thing. Members of the public can race on a wide variety of race circuits, meaning race fans can drive on the same tracks as the real racing stars.

Founded in 2009,the Marussia F1 Team is a young and ambitious challenger in the FIA Formula 1™ World Championship. Now in its fourth year of competition, the Team is going from strength to strength at the pinnacle of motorsport."

Together Lets Race and the Marussia F1 Team bring passion and accessibility to the highest level of single seater motorsport, creating a centre for race fans to gather and support F1’s friendliest team. Showing live coverage on Sky Sports F1, fans can watch all the F1 action before taking part in their own race.

Marussia F1 Team race driver Max Chilton said, “As F1 drivers we’re in an exceptionally fortunate position in that we’re able to fulfill the ambitions of many people at home when we line up on the grid on a Sunday afternoon. Lets Race offers race fans the opportunity to experience what that feels like and give a real insight into being a racing driver. The full motion simulators are an accurate reflection of the acceleration and braking that we feel in a real F1 car and it’s great fun in the process!"

Rupert Swallow, Managing Director of Lets Race added, “We are very proud to be the official UK Fan HQ for the Marussia F1 Team, which is one of the most interactive and fan friendly teams in the paddock. This new partnership brings together perfectly our ambition to bridge the gap between the virtual and the real racing world and we look forward to potential fan events in the future."

Andy Webb, CEO of the Marussia F1 Team said, “We are delighted to offer a new dimension in accessibility by creating with Lets Race the first HQ for the Marussia F1 Team fans. The passion and professionalism within the Marussia F1 Team is matched by that of Lets Race and both parties share the common objective of providing innovative ways for fans to get closer to the racing action."

Honda will poach Mercedes knowledge from McLaren
Honda's bid to hit the ground running when it returns to Formula 1 with McLaren in 2015 will be helped by the Woking-based outfit having a season with Mercedes' new V6 turbo, rival Renault told Autosport.

It was confirmed last week that Honda will be making an F1 comeback in 2015 after signing a multi-year deal with McLaren.

The timing of that move means that McLaren will get to evaluate the new Mercedes turbo next year, opening up the possibility that lessons taken on board will be passed on to Honda.

Although McLaren insists that there is no chance of any of Mercedes' intellectual property being transferred to Honda, rival Renault thinks the transition season still gives enough opportunity for Honda to benefit.

Renault's head of track operation Remi Taffin said: "Even if I am sure that McLaren will be very good at separating things and working with Mercedes, as soon as everything stops you don't forget anything you learned.

"Plus we are competitors, so you will try and get the most out of it [the situation]. The answer is Honda will benefit from McLaren running Mercedes engines in 2014."

Taffin suggests that one likely consequence of McLaren preparing for the Honda switch is that there will likely be a strict lockdown of sensitive information from Mercedes.

"The only thing that you will and should protect is the intellectual property, so they [McLaren] will not have access to drawings, or to any bit of software.

"You come to a point where it is difficult for a transition like this one. Should I give them this software – or should I keep the box as black as I can? This is the difficult thing.

"Simply speaking, you could say: 'this year we will give you the power unit, here you go guys, and you deal with it'. They [Honda] will learn from it, but the question is how much you will let them learn from it." Autosport

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