Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

05/27/15

  • Verstappen: Grosjean brake-tested me

    De Villota's family considering legal action

  • Verstappen claims Grosjean 'brake-tested' him
  • Hakkinen defends Verstappen after Monaco crash
  • New Sauber drivers have better attitude – boss
  • McLaren-Honda planning big mid-season upgrades
  • Abiteboul smiling after Monaco boost New
  • Ferrari already looking ahead to 2016 New
  • Capelli says Ecclestone wants Monza to stay New
  • Wolff sure Hamilton will trust Mercedes again New
  • F1 has turned up the volume in 2015 – Lauda New
  • Rosberg wants 'lucky' wife at every race New
  • Wolff: We told Hamilton to stay out, he said 'not good' New
  • Todt: Nothing wrong with Mercedes dominance New

De Villota's family considering legal action
(GMM) Maria de Villota's family is considering legal action, after the former Marussia team was cleared of wrongdoing in a 2012 crash.

Spaniard de Villota died in late 2013, fifteen months after suffering horrific skull and facial injuries whilst conducting straight-line testing at Duxford Aerodrome in the UK.

Britain's Health and Safety Executive on Tuesday said no action will be taken against Marussia, the backmarker team that in 2015 became known as Manor.

A spokesman for the safety body said it was "not appropriate" to comment on whether de Villota, who lost an eye, had crashed into the truck loading ramp as the result of driver error.

After the publication of the report, de Villota's family confirmed it is considering taking "appropriate legal actions to assign civil responsibility" for the 2012 incident, the major Spanish daily La Vanguardia reports.

In a statement, the family said the British body had "informed us it had insufficient evidence to initiate criminal proceedings with guarantees of convictions".

"To date we are still waiting to know the contents of the report and, consequently, the actual results of their research," the family, which includes her father and former F1 driver Emilio de Villota, added.

After studying the report, the family added, "we will (then) assess the commencement of appropriate legal actions to assign civil responsibility in order to prevent, as was Maria's desire, an accident like this occurring again due to negligence".

Max owes Grosjean a brake test
Max owes Grosjean a brake test

Verstappen claims Grosjean 'brake-tested' him
(GMM) Max Verstappen claims he crashed at Monaco on Sunday after being "brake-tested".

The 17-year-old, whose formula one debut in 2015 has been controversial, was punished by the sport's governing body after crashing at high speed into the barriers at Ste Devote.

Verstappen told his official website on Wednesday that he is unhurt.

"My neck is a bit stiff," he said, "but apart from that I am fine. It didn't hurt as much as expected."

The young Dutchman said he is now "ready to go again" at the wheel of his Toro Rosso, starting with the Canadian grand prix next weekend.

"It (Monaco) was an eventful race," Verstappen continued. "We had good pace and did some overtaking as well — in Monaco!

"After a pitstop, I was charging through the field when I was brake-tested and had a hard crash," he said, describing his contact with Lotus' Romain Grosjean.

'Brake-test' is a motor racing term for when a leading driver deliberately brakes early in order to deter the advances of a chasing car.

Brake-testing is aggressive and dangerous, but it was Verstappen who was penalized by the FIA, including a five-place grid demotion for Canada and two penalty points on his super license.

Hakkinen defends Verstappen after Monaco crash
(GMM) Mika Hakkinen has leapt to Max Verstappen's defense after his high-speed crash at Monaco.

Critics blasted teenager Verstappen's young age and inexperience after the frightening Ste Devote crash, and the FIA issued a five-place grid demotion for Canada and added two penalty points to his super license.

17-year-old Verstappen, however, claimed on Wednesday that he only crashed due to being dangerously "brake-tested" by Lotus' Romain Grosjean.

Hakkinen, a two-time world champion, told the Finnish newspaper Ilta Sanomat: "Grosjean was on a different line as in previous laps.

"He also drove at a different speed. I think if the Lotus had not changed its speed and trajectory, it is likely that the overtaking maneuver would have been completed successfully," the Finn added.

"In my opinion," said Hakkinen, "these penalties were incorrect."

With a similar view is another former F1 driver, Dutchman Jan Lammers.

He told De Telegraaf newspaper he does "not understand" the FIA's decision to penalize Verstappen.

"Anyone with any interest in formula one should thank God for the arrival of Max," said Lammers.

"Thanks to him, people are watching races again at the edges of their seats, and then with this penalty … it makes me wonder what people want.

"It is not good reasoning to say it's because he is 17 and they want to give him a signal. I think going into that barrier was a clear enough signal," he insisted.

Hakkinen, meanwhile, said that while he disagrees Verstappen should have been punished, he thinks Daniel Ricciardo deserved a penalty for colliding with Kimi Raikkonen on Sunday.

He said: "Daniel has demonstrated many times that as soon as someone leaves a gap, he rushes into it without thinking if it is an excessive risk or not."

New Sauber drivers have better attitude – boss
(GMM) Monisha Kaltenborn has fired a shot at Sauber's former race drivers.

For 2015, the Swiss team dispensed with its 2014 lineup of Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez, instead signing Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson.

Nasr and Ericsson have been described as 'pay drivers' who are now helping to finance the struggling Hinwil outfit.

German Sutil, meanwhile, is now Williams' reserve driver, while Mexican Gutierrez is filling a similar role at Ferrari.

Boss and co-owner Kaltenborn, however, said Sauber is now much happier with Brazilian Nasr and Swede Ericsson.

"The drivers are making a big difference," she told Brazil's Globo.

"They work very well with the team and are learning a lot."

As for Sutil and Gutierrez, who last year failed to score a single point, Kaltenborn said: "It was not easy for them, and it's not fair to blame them.

"We did not give them a good car," she added. "But it is also true that our drivers today have a very different attitude and we can feel that."

McLaren Honda have big upgrades planned
McLaren Honda have big upgrades planned

McLaren-Honda planning big mid-season upgrades
(GMM) McLaren is preparing a big upgrade package for June's Austrian grand prix.

After only missing points in Monaco due to another reliability problem, Fernando Alonso said he is expecting the Honda-powered team to struggle on the long straights of Canada next weekend.

But he told Spanish reporters: "We have a very aggressive plan for Austria, which is a key race for us."

Team boss Eric Boullier confirmed that the MP4-30 will feature many improvements at the Red Bull Ring in late June.

"I have asked Fernando to keep his faith in the project, despite his negative result in Monaco," he is quoted by the Spanish sports daily Marca.

"There are many new features coming as we continue to move forward. In Austria there will be an improvement that should take us to the next level," the Frenchman added.

The report said the upgrades will be mainly in the area of aerodynamics, before Honda is expected to deploy the majority of its 9 performance 'tokens' ahead of the Hungarian grand prix some weeks later.

Boullier would not confirm the engine news, saying improvements will be added by Honda "when they are ready".

Alonso, meanwhile, said he knows that he needs to be patient in 2015, as it is essentially "a test".

"Not a winter test, but a testing season," he added.

Boullier said both Alonso and teammate Jenson Button are fully up to speed with McLaren-Honda's plans.

"It would have been a mistake to tell them that this is going to be their year," he is quoted by Spain's El Confidencial.

"If you want to build a long-term project, the most important thing is trust and transparency."

Cyril Abiteboul
Cyril Abiteboul

Abiteboul smiling after Monaco boost
(GMM) Cyril Abiteboul left Monaco with a smile on his face.

It has been a tough period for Renault's F1 chief, as he realized the scale of the performance and reliability problems with the 2015 'power unit', and fended off constant criticism from furious partner Red Bull.

"I am really thinking about Viry," he said after Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo finished a credible fourth and fifth in Monaco.

Abiteboul was referring to Renault's French F1 headquarters, where staff have given "everything" in the past weeks to recover from the notably "bad phase".

In a French-language AFP report, he said Renault had achieved its goal for Monaco of "reliability and drivability".

"The drivers did not complain at any time," said Abiteboul. "They were able to attack when they wanted to and manage their tires."

Abiteboul may have been happy for other reasons, too.

Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn flew into the Principality at the weekend, and reportedly met with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

It is rumored Ghosn told the Briton that Renault intends to honor its engine supply contracts to Red Bull and Toro Rosso through 2016, and perhaps then set up a works team.

Red Bull, however, has more immediate concerns, as it expects Renault to struggle much more next weekend on the long straights of the Montreal circuit.

Not only that, it could be in Canada where Renault-powered drivers begin to serve ten-place penalties for fitting fifth engines.

But Abiteboul is hopeful. He smiled as he hinted Mercedes and Ferrari might have to be "more conservative" in Canada, adopting "a more reasoned approach in their interpretation of the regulations following the FIA's recent clarifications".

Undoubtedly, he is referring to paddock speculation of sophisticated fuel systems to sidestep the fuel flow rules.

"I am looking forward to Montreal," Abiteboul concluded.

Ferrari has made gains on Mercedes, but it's not enough
Ferrari has made gains on Mercedes, but it's not enough

Ferrari already looking ahead to 2016
(GMM) Ferrari might already be looking ahead to 2016.

Although the Italian team has taken a big step forward this year, La Gazzetta dello Sport claims boss Maurizio Arrivabene could now have acknowledged that the potential of the current SF15-T car is limited.

"We were unable to change everything in three months," he said, reportedly referring to the time between the end of the Luca di Montezemolo and Marco Mattiacci era and the deadlines for the launch of the 2015 project.

Arrivabene confirmed that the new car has many of the "same limits of downforce and traction as the old one".

"From the beginning of last year, Mercedes has been very, very fast in qualifying," he added.

"They are very strong, and this is an indication to us of where we need to focus our attention for the future.

"Obviously we have improved the car," said Arrivabene, "but we know there are many things that we cannot make work as we would like."

He said the recent Barcelona race, where a major upgrade package was used for the first time, was a key moment for Ferrari.

"When the car goes well there," said the Italian, "it will be enough for all the other races.

"For next year, we absolutely must have a better car for Barcelona."

There is no way F1 could afford to lose Monza
There is no way F1 could afford to lose Monza

Capelli says Ecclestone wants Monza to stay
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone wants the Italian grand prix to stay on the calendar.

That is the claim of Ivan Capelli, a former F1 driver who now represents the organizers of the historic and endangered Monza race.

Capelli travelled to Monaco last weekend for key meetings with Bernie Ecclestone, but some reports suggested he was desperately trying to save Monza from being axed from the 2016 calendar.

Actually, negotiations about extending the current contract into 2017, 2018 and 2019 are only just beginning, Capelli said.

"I came to Monaco with the leading people to meet with Ecclestone, but we have not yet begun to talk about money issues or anything like that," he is quoted by Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper.

"He (Ecclestone) made it clear that he wants a new three-year contract, and explained to us how important Monza is to F1 and how much he wants Italy to stay on the calendar," Capelli added.

Wolff sure Hamilton will trust Mercedes again
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton is not at Brackley this week as Mercedes tackles the bungled mess of the Briton's Monaco grand prix.

The reigning world champion was dominant all weekend in the Principality, but is now having to get over the anger and disappointment of not winning by relaxing on a luxury yacht.

Hamilton posted a photo of his sea travels on social media, while back at Mercedes' headquarters, team management was analyzing how the 30-year-old's race strategy was so badly bungled.

Team boss Toto Wolff even took to Twitter on Tuesday to face legions of angry Hamilton fans, some of whom might even have bought into the wildest conspiracy theories about Mercedes having deliberately added spice to the 2015 title race.

"Would we ever do this to the guy leading the championship with Ferrari a real threat to us? Answer: NO," Wolff exclaimed.

As for claims Hamilton was brought into the pits so that German Nico Rosberg could complete his Monaco hat-trick, the Austrian added: "Whoever would start such rumors needs their head examined.

"Criticism is ok but we have no respect for dumb comments or abuse.

"Just to make one thing clear," Wolff added, "we're right in the middle of this and just as frustrated about our mistake as many of you!

"This is our life, we eat breathe sleep F1."

And he is certain that, once Hamilton resurfaces in Montreal, the 30-year-old Briton's campaign will be fully back on track.

"I spoke to him just after the race, but it's best to let it calm down for a day or two," said Wolff.

"Trust is a key value without our team," he answered to another Twitter question. "One race doesn't tip that over."

F1 has turned up the volume in 2015 – Lauda
(GMM) Niki Lauda thinks F1 has turned up the volume in 2015.

"Look at last year," the Mercedes team chairman told the British broadcaster Sky in Monaco. "The noise has increased, no question, so I think we're going in the right direction.

"The only one that is still a little less loud is Renault," said the F1 legend, "but they have less horse power."

The milder sound of the sport's new 'power unit' era has been highly controversial, and is often cited as one reason for a decline in spectator interest.

There have been efforts to artificially spice up the sound, like modifying the exhausts, and Lauda said those sorts of investigations are continuing.

"We are working on a program for 2017, although we could do it next year, to have six gears, not eight, because you only use eight in Monza and maybe Spa.

"With six gears they're going to rev higher," added Lauda, "so you're going to increase the noise level."

Rosberg and wife Vivian
Rosberg and wife Vivian

Rosberg wants 'lucky' wife at every race
(GMM) Nico Rosberg wants his 'lucky charm' at every grand prix as he chases the 2015 title.

In Australia, Malaysia, China and Bahrain, Mercedes teammate and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton had the clear upper hand over Rosberg.

But then in Spain, the German broke through with the pole and win.

It was the first race of the season attended by his new wife Vivian, who had been struggling with severe morning sickness.

But in Monaco, Vivian – now 7 months pregnant – was trackside again. And Rosberg won again.

"My wife is my lucky charm," Rosberg smiled to the Kolner Express tabloid.

"She has to come now to Montreal — and to every race!" he added. "But of course we will have to see how her pregnancy proceeds."

Hamilton at least partially to blame for Monaco snafu
Hamilton at least partially to blame for Monaco snafu

Wolff: We told Hamilton to stay out, he said 'not good'
Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has revealed that Lewis Hamilton had a say in his race-losing pit stop during the Monaco Grand Prix, but maintains the error was ultimately the team's responsibility.

The Briton looked set for victory, what would have been his second in Monaco and fourth of the season, but a late pit-stop during a Safety Car period handed the lead to team-mate Nico Rosberg, whilst Hamilton slipped to third behind Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.

Mercedes has come under intense scrutiny for their strategic error, citing incorrect data as the primary cause. Wolff however has revealed that they initially told Hamilton to stay out before quickly changing their mind when their driver replied with "not good".

"We told him to stay out," said Wolff on Twitter. "Lewis said 'not good' and that the tires had lost temperature. We had one second to react and, combined with our wrong timing data, we made the mistake of calling him in.

"We're not happy about the situation itself and therefore there was no such thing as happiness about that incident."

Ultimately the mistake was the teams, as they're responsible for ensuring the gap is there to make a stop. Wolff says the team believed they had enough time, but explained that incorrect timing data fooled them.

"We believed we could make a free stop to cover risk of cars behind on supersoft," he added. "Unfortunately our data was wrong.

"You need the right balance between data and gut feeling. Our tools told us we had the gap but they were wrong. Under Safety Car you need 12 secs gap to maintain position. Our system showed us that we had that gap."

Todt: Nothing wrong with Mercedes dominance
Mercedes have won five of the first six races of the 2015 campaign, following on from a dominant 2014 in which Lewis Hamilton won the World Championship and the Brackley-based outfit took the Constructors' title by nearly 300 points, and it's a situation that many say is hurting the sport.

Race attendance figures and television viewership are both on the decline and some are starting to press the panic button as a result, with calls for wholesale changes to bring the F1 back to its best.

However, Todt disagrees with the suggestion that F1 needs to reinvent itself due to one dominant power.

"At Roland Garros (tennis' French Open), of the last 10 competitions, 9 were won by Rafael Nadal – does this mean that it is necessary to change the rules?" he told Canal Plus.

"No, it is simply necessarily to try to be better than him. It is similar in Formula One."

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