The F1 Times.com - News http://www.f1times.co.uk Catch up on all F1 news, here at TheF1Times.com's RSS Feed! 1 http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09281http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09281'If I have to retire this year then so be it' - ButtonSat, 30 Aug 2014 18:56:16 GMTJenson Button is coming to terms with the idea that he may not be racing in Formula 1 much longer given the driver situation at his current team McLaren. The Briton has been competing in F1 for 14 years, but may not have a choice when it comes to continuing after 2014 as McLaren are reportedly seeking the services of Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. Whilst it's unlikely they'll get both 'star drivers', it's believed they're close to securing the services of at least one and they're likely to replace Button over Kevin Magnussen. The 34-year-old says he's having a difficult time contemplating life away from the sport. "We haven't sat down and talked about it," he told the BBC about 2015 and contract extensions. "If I have to retire at the end of the season then so be it, but I feel I have so much more to give and I can't imagine life without motorsport and especially Formula 1. "I think uncomfortable is the wrong word for me, I don't feel uncomfortable. It's unusual, yes, but sometimes it's that way. "Our job is to drive as fast as we can, do the best job for ourselves and the best job for the team. I feel we are both doing the maximum we can and a very good job."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09280http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09280Lotus drivers back changes to Parabolica run-offFri, 29 Aug 2014 17:55:06 GMTWhilst changes to the run-off at Parabolica weren't welcomed amongst Formula 1 fans, it seems the drivers are more open to the change. The famous Parabolica run-off has caught out many drivers in the past who have tried to brake a little too late for the final corner at Monza only to find their car beached in the gravel trap, but that won't be much of a concern this year as the gravel has been replaced with tarmac. Romain Grosjean has welcomed the change from a safety point of view and actually thinks the change will see drivers pushing harder. "Parabolica is a very challenging and quick corner so from a safety point of view it is a good thing to have some more margin for the drivers. "I remember sometimes in the past coming in to the corner and knowing that to brake even a little bit too late then you could be straight in the gravel and then straight to the wall at high speed. I think that now what you will see is the drivers finding the limits sooner, because we know there will not be the big gravel and crash penalty like previously." Pastor Maldonado agrees: "I don't think it will make too much difference really. The approach will be the same which is to take it as quickly and efficiently as possible. Of course there is the obvious safety element which means that you have less risk if you go off. I think this is good from a safety point of view because it is a quick corner with not that much room on the outside."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09279http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09279I can work with Rosberg despite differences - HamiltonFri, 29 Aug 2014 17:24:55 GMTLewis Hamilton insists he can continue to work with team-mate Nico Rosberg despite their "difficult times and differences" during the 2014 season. The Briton recently admitted he doubted he could trust Rosberg going forward following their Belgian Grand Prix coming together, but following a crisis meeting on Friday, he has changed his mind. "Today we came together as a team and discussed our differences," he said. "Nico and I accept that we have both made mistakes and I feel it would be wrong to point fingers and say which one is worse than the other. What’s important is how we rise as a team from these situations. We win and we lose together and, as a team, we will emerge stronger. "There is a deep foundation that still exists for me and Nico to work from, in spite of our difficult times and differences. We have the greatest team, the strongest group of individuals who have worked their hands to the bone to give us the best car you see us racing today. It’s important that we never forget that and give them the results they deserve. Today, Toto and Paddy told us clearly how we must race against each other from now on in a fair and respectful manner." The team has told them they can continue to fight freely without team orders, but despite this Hamilton admits he has a tough challenge ahead to fight back from a 29-point deficit. "The fans want to see a clean fight until the end of the season and that’s what we want to give them. It’s going to be a tough road from here but Championships have been won from much further back than I am now. And I promise you that I will be giving everything and more to win this for my team, for my family and for my fans."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09278http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09278Rosberg admits Spa crash was 'error of judgement'Fri, 29 Aug 2014 16:54:39 GMTNico Rosberg is hopeful that fans can move on from his clash with team-mate Lewis Hamilton at the Belgian Grand Prix after issuing a public apology. The German was booed on the podium for the clash which the majority blamed him for, though he refused to accept blame immediately. He has now admitted it was a "judgement of error" and took the time during a team meeting on Friday to apologise to the team, Hamilton and F1 fans. "In the days since the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa, I have spent a lot of time thinking about what happened during the race and discussing it with the team," he wrote on his Facebook page. "I have already expressed my regret about the incident but, after meeting with Toto, Paddy and Lewis today, I wish to go a step further and describe it as an error of judgement on my part. "The number one rule for us as team-mates is that we must not collide, but that is exactly what happened. "For that error of judgement, I apologise to Lewis and the team. I also want to say sorry to the fans who were deprived of our battle for the lead in Belgium." The team have made it clear that they won't issue team orders but will also not accept further clashes and Rosberg is hopefuly of a controversy free end to the season. "Lewis and I have been given clear instructions about how we race each other," he added. "As drivers, we have a clear responsibility to the team, the fans of the sport, our partners and Mercedes-Benz to deliver clean racing. We take that responsibility very seriously. "I look forward to concluding the season with hard, fair competition on and off track right up to the final lap of the season in Abu Dhabi."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09277http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09277Rosberg apologises, Mercedes duo free to raceFri, 29 Aug 2014 16:43:53 GMTMercedes have confirmed it will continue to allow its drivers to race, despite the pair making contact during the Belgian Grand Prix which ended Lewis Hamilton's race and harmed Nico Rosberg's chance of winning. During a meeting at their Brackley base on Friday, Hamilton and Rosberg met with team bosses to discuss the matter. Rosberg is reported to have accepted blame and apologised to his team-mate, whilst Mercedes insists they won't employ team orders just yet, but warned no further clashes would be tolerated. "Toto Wolff, Paddy Lowe, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton met today in the boardroom of Mercedes AMG Petronas headquarters in Brackley to discuss the events of the Belgian Grand Prix. "During this meeting, Nico acknowledged his responsibility for the contact that occurred on lap two of the Belgian Grand Prix and apologised for this error of judgement. "Suitable disciplinary measures have been taken for the incident. "Mercedes-Benz remains committed to hard, fair racing because this is the right way to win world championships. It is good for the team, for the fans and for Formula 1. "Lewis and Nico understand and accept the team's number one rule: there must be no contact between the team's cars on track. "It has been made clear that another such incident will not be tolerated. But Nico and Lewis are our drivers and we believe in them. "They remain free to race for the 2014 FIA Formula 1 world championship," concluded a statement.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09276http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/0927692% of fans against team orders at MercedesFri, 29 Aug 2014 11:29:28 GMTMercedes took to Twitter and Facebook to canvas their fans opinion on whether they should impose team orders going forward in order to avoid a repeat of the Belgian Grand Prix. Of the almost 20,000 votes, an overwhelming majority of 92 per cent voted in favour of free racing, with just 8 per cent demanding team orders be enacted. Whether the team will actually listen to its fans is yet to be seen, but we might not have to wait much longer. Both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are at the Mercedes F1 factory today in Brackley to discuss the matter with team bosses Toto Wolff, Paddy Lowe and Niki Lauda. The subject of the meeting is to find a way forward which both drivers can agree on without derailing Mercedes championship ambitions, whilst giving both a fair shot at the title. It's also likely that the team will punish Rosberg for his actions, with many speculating he will either be told not to challenge Hamilton for pole position in Monza or, if he finds himself behind Hamilton in the race, to hold back.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09275http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09275Hisense joins Lotus as three-race sponsorThu, 28 Aug 2014 13:01:59 GMTLotus has announced that multi-national electronics manufacturer Hisense will join the team for the forthcoming Italian, United States and Abu Dhabi races. The Hisense logo showing on the prominent sidepod placement of the E22 at both Italy and the US races, before moving to the air box for the Abu Dhabi GP. The branding is part of a global promotion by the Chinese provider of flat panel TVs, household appliances and mobile communications. Matthew Carter, Lotus F1 Team CEO: "We are thrilled that Hisense has chosen Lotus F1 Team to enhance and strengthen its continued global development. Headquartered in China, Hisense has shown impressive development and worldwide expansion as a challenger brand, something which Lotus F1 Team can relate to closely as we continue to challenge on the track. Hisense has shown it recognises the value of sports marketing on several occasions and to have Lotus F1 Team identified as a key association as part of Hisense’s growth is a substantial compliment." Dr. Lin Lan, Hisense Vice President: "Joining with Lotus F1 Team at the Italian, United States and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix is a very exciting prospect. As we grow our brand awareness globally, we aim to use proven partnerships that we know will deliver. Formula 1, and in particular Lotus F1 Team, has huge potential and we are looking forward to working together over the coming months."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09274http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09274McLaren chasing Vettel-Alonso partnershipThu, 28 Aug 2014 12:55:01 GMTMcLaren are reportedly chasing the ultimate driver line-up for 2015 and beyond, with team bosses set to launch a final attempt to lure both Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso. It's well known that McLaren have already held talks with Alonso in the hope of getting the Spaniard back following their 2007 falling out, but Autosport reports the team are also seeking the services of four-time champion Vettel. The team want a 'star-studded' line-up for their return to Honda power and both Eric Boullier and Ron Dennis are involved in negotiations with the two champions. Whilst Vettel is committed to Red Bull until the end of 2015 and Alonso a year longer at Ferrari, McLaren are willing to wait, but want assurances that the two, or at least one of them, will commit to joining the Woking outfit when their deal expires. The hope is that they can secure at least one earlier, but that would require negotiations with not only the driver but also the team. A decision is expected prior to the Singapore Grand Prix and McLaren are keen to secure the team's future as swiftly as possible as it currently leaves both Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen in limbo with their own futures. Speaking to the official F1 website, Dennis hinted that contracts may prove a problem and insists he is happy with their current line-up regardless of what's happening behind the scenes. "As I say, we'll always look to employ the best drivers available - but they have to be available, don't they? "Having said that, for the avoidance of doubt, Jenson and Kevin represent an excellent blend of capable experience and youthful promise, and we’re very happy with both of them. "The fact that we’re keeping an eye on what a few other drivers are up to in no way contradicts that, because, as I say, if opportunities arise, we'll appraise them - we always have and we always will."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09273http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09273McLaren targeting Red Bull with Singapore upgradeThu, 28 Aug 2014 09:40:29 GMTMcLaren believe they will be fighting with the current pack of front-runners, minus Mercedes, come the final few races of the season thanks to a major upgrade package. The Woking team has been struggling to keep up with its rivals and only recently surpassed Force India in the constructors' standings to claim fifth. Whilst they're unlikely to move any higher - Williams have a 45 point advantage whilst Ferrari and Red Bull are 55 and 149 ahead respectively - they believe they will be fighting them on track. "It is true that getting in front of Force India was a short-term target, but it is not the final ambition," said racing director Eric Boullier during a McLaren phone-in. "I do feel comfortable and confident about a stronger end of season than beginning. "Our car is working decently on low downforce tracks like Spa and [hopefully] Monza, but from Singapore we will have another big upgrade on the car which I hope will deliver all that is promised. "We should have another couple of updates before the end of the season which should clear us definitely from Force India, but also fighting in the middle of Ferrari and Williams, and Red Bull maybe. "I have no idea if we'll get another podium before the end of the season but if we do our job properly then maybe."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09272http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09272Ferrari want power unit freeze to be liftedWed, 27 Aug 2014 20:19:02 GMTFerrari are pushing to have the power unit freeze lifted to allow manufacturers to work freely on their engines. The idea was discussed during a meeting of team bosses at the Belgian Grand Prix, with the talks instigated by Ferrari's Marco Mattiacci. At present, a manufacturer may only develop their engines for reliability purposes following the pre-season homologation. Mattiacci wants that changed for future seasons. "I would like a certain amount of opportunities a year to work on the engine," he told ESPN. "As you very well know we keep discussing about how to improve - if it's needed - every area of the Formula 1 product. "We had a fantastic race [in Belgium]. But I suppose there are certain areas, the DNA of Formula 1 is innovating, innovating and catching up with the best one and being as fast as the smartest one. "That's what I will keep, as Ferrari, insisting, and one of the areas is engine freezing." The team's own engine is believed to be down on power compared to rival Mercedes, but ahead of Renault.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09271http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09271Red Bull hope new chassis will help Vettel in ItalyWed, 27 Aug 2014 18:56:49 GMTSebastian Vettel will receive a new chassis for the Italian Grand Prix as the team believe an issue with his current chassis might be the reason for his "extremely unusual" pace. The German qualified third for the Belgian Grand Prix last weekend, but during the race he wasn't on the pace of team-mate and eventual race winner Daniel Ricciardo, instead finishing down in fifth. The team hope that changing the chassis will help Vettel recover some lost ground - despite this being his third chassis of the season. "Sebastian has got the best feeling for these tyres as history has shown," said team principal Christian Horner. "We have to look in to it to understand; there's obviously something wrong that he wasn't able to have the same pace as Daniel and be harder on the tyre. "Obviously we missed out on Friday on any running of any real benefit to Seb, and of course we need to check whether something has actually broken on the car. "There's obviously a lot of things that have gone wrong for him. A spark plug failure on Friday robbed him of a lot of time so then he has to take a lot of information from the other car. We know their styles are quite different. So of course we need to check whether something is actually broken on the car because that was extremely unusual what we saw."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09270http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09270Jordan says 'weak' Mercedes management to blameWed, 27 Aug 2014 12:08:01 GMTFormer F1 team owner Eddie Jordan says he blames the "weak" and "inexperienced" Mercedes management for the problems between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. The pair's relationship hit a new low in Belgium when Rosberg tagged Hamilton's rear causing a puncture and later, according to Hamilton, admitted doing it to 'prove a point'. Jordan says the team must shoulder the blame for failing to control its drivers, something he believes Ross Brawn would have done if he were still in charge. "I blame the team," he told TalkSport. "They say they let the drivers race but they don't because at Hungary, the previous race, Rosberg was told he could pass Hamilton, Hamilton was told to let him go and he didn't let him go. "How can you say you don't have team orders but you actually do? It's a nonsense. "I remember when Ross Brawn said to Rosberg in Malaysia last year 'no, you cannot pass Lewis'. If Ross was there in that team it would be a different show. They would have finished first and second. "It's weak. The guys there are really good guys, but they don't have the experience and they don't have Ross Brawn and, at the moment, they are rudderless. "They are being run by two drivers who are like spoilt kids and are doing what they want to do."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09269http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09269Whitmarsh departs McLaren after agreeing settlementWed, 27 Aug 2014 11:50:58 GMTMcLaren and former team principal Martin Whitmarsh have officially parted company after agreeing upon a financial settlement. McLaren Group CEO Ron Dennis, who returned to the position in January, removed Whitmarsh from his role after the team suffered its worst ever season in F1. He left in December, but remained employed by McLaren until this week when the pair agreed a generous leaving package in line with his 24 years of service. The team refused to be drawn the details, but it's believed to include a substantial amount of money many times his salary. Dennis installed Eric Boullier as racing director this year alongside Jonathan Neale as Group F1 CEO after changing the structure of the team as he believed a team principal was no longer required. "The first four races this year, the team doesn't come back [to base]," said Dennis. "With the former role of team principal, it was like being out of the company for four months. "I defy anyone to run a company and have four months out of the company."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09268http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09268Tech Talk: Mercedes' new slimmer front-wingTue, 26 Aug 2014 00:05:26 GMTMercedes debuted a new front-wing at the Belgian Grand Prix with far smaller proportions than its predecessor used before the summer break. The shorter nose - so short it would fall foul of the 2015 regulations - is also slimmer as it extends back to the chassis to increase airflow to the floor. As you can see in the top image (Belgium), compared with that of below (Hungary), a large portion of the side has been removed to allow air to pass under the nose with less resistance. This not only increases the volume of airflow reaching the diffuser and thus improving the overall downforce of the W05, but it is reportedly lighter than the one before it, adding to an overall weight saving of around 8kg since the start of the season through bodywork modifications alone, giving an average three-tenth per lap saving. The new nose had to undergo yet another crash test over the summer break because it is so radically different in construction. http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09267http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09267Rosberg should have judged it better - ButtonMon, 25 Aug 2014 23:36:45 GMTJenson Button has questioned Nico Rosberg's move on Lewis Hamilton on lap two of the Belgian Grand Prix which resulted in contact. The McLaren driver, a former team-mate of Hamilton, doesn't believe Rosberg was in a position to 'have a go' at the time and is certain the German will agree upon reviewing the incident. "I feel for Lewis," said Button. "It's a shame it's not a cleaner fight. "Any driver would look at it now, and I am sure Nico will look at it and say, 'I don't know what I was thinking'. "There was no move. Strange. You should be able to judge situations like that a bit better." Button insists the clash isn't good for the sport despite it creating drama. "Is it good for the sport? It's negative because we didn't see a good battle between those two. "But it does get everyone excited about the next GP in Italy, where none of the fans will be cheering for either of them and would love a coming together," he added. "It adds spice, but it's a shame in that true racers want to see them fighting."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09266http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09266FIA unlikely to investigate Rosberg-Hamilton incidentMon, 25 Aug 2014 23:00:01 GMTThe FIA are unlikely to launch an investigation into the clash between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, despite it coming to light that the German chose not to avoid contact to 'make a point'. The BBC reports that the governing body might take action against Rosberg, but this is now thought to be unlikely with a source close to the FIA confirming the matter to be 'closed'. The stewards chose not to investigate the clash, which saw Rosberg swipe Hamilton's left-rear with his front-wing, causing a puncture, but it was revealed after that the stewards did discuss the matter internally before making their decision not to take it further. However with reports that Rosberg said he wanted to make a point by holding his line, aware that it would result in contact, there were fresh claims that the matter should be re-opened and investigated. With no recording of the team debrief available to the FIA and a refusal from Mercedes boss Toto Wolff to elaborate further on what was said, there is very little in the way of evidence. Rosberg however isn't expected to go unpunished. Hamilton's comments after the race prompted Wolff to hint at some form of action against the German for what was considered an unnecessary incident. "It reminds me of being at school… teachers will talk but they don't do nothing," said Hamilton. "You just get a detention. They won't even do that. There’s nothing you can do." Wolff disagrees, adding: "If Lewis said there's going to be a slap on the wrist and no consequence then he's not aware of what consequences we can implement." The general consensus is that Rosberg might be ordered not to challenge Hamilton at the next race in Italy, should he find himself behind the Briton. Whether Rosberg heeds such information is another matter and one that is likely to remain internal to avoid further damage to the teams image.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09265http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09265First onboard lap of the Russian GP circuit with VettelMon, 25 Aug 2014 19:33:37 GMTSebastian Vettel completes the first onboard lap of the newly finished Sochi Autodrom in Russia which is due to host a round of the Formula 1 championship later this year. http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09264http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09264Alonso doubts Ricciardo will be a title threatMon, 25 Aug 2014 14:09:16 GMTWith victory in Belgiun marking his third win of the season, Daniel Ricciardo reckons his chances of winning the 2014 championship are on the up. The Australian is now just 35 points behind Lewis Hamilton and a further 29 behind leader Nico Rosberg, but Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso doesn't reckon the Australian will pose much of a threat. "No, I don't think so," he said when asked if Ricciardo could win it. "Obviously he's doing an amazing job and he's surprising everyone, but the Mercedes advantage... in qualifying they were two seconds clear," he told Autosport. "When they finish the races they will keep increasing their advantage." However on the off chance the Mercedes driver's continue to tussle and cost each other points, he admitted Ricciardo is best placed to capitalise. "But if any of the rest can do it, at the moment it's only Ricciardo."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09263http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09263Hamilton unsure if he can trust Rosberg in futureMon, 25 Aug 2014 12:21:52 GMTLewis Hamilton says he's no longer sure if he can trust team-mate Nico Rosberg when it comes to the two battling for position on track. The pair have found themselves racing wheel-to-wheel on several occasions this season, but the Belgian Grand Prix was the first time they've made contact doing so. Rosberg's admission that he knew if he stuck to his line he'd make contact with Hamilton has caused much controversy and it's shaken the Briton's trust that they can race on the same piece of tarmac. "When you're out there you have to trust people to think with their heads and not do things deliberately," he said. "But after that meeting [when Rosberg made his comments] I don't really know how to approach the next race." When asked what he'll do if he finds himself wheel-to-wheel in Monza, he replied: "I'll just make sure we’re not wheel-to-wheel." Hamilton believes the motive behind Rosberg's comments might have something to do with the team order saga at the Hungarian GP before the summer break. "It's interesting because we had that meeting on Thursday and Nico expressed how angry he was [about Hungary]. I was thinking 'It's been three weeks and you've been lingering?!' "But I thought we should be good after that, and then this result? It's interesting."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09262http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09262Clean race all I needed to prove form - RaikkonenMon, 25 Aug 2014 08:54:24 GMTKimi Raikkonen says a clean race was all he needed to show what he can do in the F14-T after coming through from eighth on the grid to finish fourth. The Finn scored his best finish of the season in Belgium and beat team-mate Fernando Alonso for the first time since rejoining Ferrari this year - though a five-second penalty for Alonso helped. "The race was clean, there weren't any issues in the race like in the past, we always had something happen and this was probably the first race this year [we didn't]," Raikkonen said. "Obviously it helps and meant we could do our own race and the result was a bit better, but it was still disappointing not to fight further up but we knew this race and the next race will be difficult for us. "I think it's the first race this year that was clean, where we don't have damage in the car or any other issues and we can do our own race. The speed wasn't too bad but this is still not good enough. I don't think we deserve any better. If we deserve it we get it. Today we didn't get it and they were a bit too fast for us." He now sits just one point behind the Williams of Felipe Massa in the championship standings, but warned Ferrari don't have the straight-line speed to beat Williams are Valtteri Bottas breezed past him on the Kemmel Straight. "It was not much of a fight really, I mean in a straight line they are much faster. On one lap he almost caught me and I could keep him behind but the next lap there was no chance. For me it doesn't count as a fight."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09261http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09261Wolff clarifies Rosberg's 'deliberate' commentSun, 24 Aug 2014 20:48:25 GMTMercedes team boss Toto Wolff has moved to clarify comments made by Nico Rosberg during a private team debrief, in which he reportedly admitted to crashing in to team-mate Lewis Hamilton deliberately. Wolff dismissed comments it was deliberate, but confirmed Rosberg wanted to make a point by holding his line and forcing Hamilton to change course. "Nico felt he needed to hold his line," he told PA Sport. "He needed to make a point. He didn't give in. He thought it was for Lewis to leave him space, and that Lewis didn't leave him space. "So they agreed to disagree in a very heated discussion amongst ourselves, but it wasn't deliberately crashing. That is nonsense. It was deliberately taking into account that if Lewis moves or would open then it could end up in a crash." In response to a comment made by Hamilton that Rosberg would receive a 'slap on the wrist', Wolff said: "Well if Lewis has said that it's going to be a slap on the wrist, and that there's going to be no consequence, then he's not aware of what consequences we can implement." The Austrian added that it was too early to decide whether or not to implement team orders in future races to avoid such scenarios. "We haven't decided that yet. I think it would be wrong 45 minutes after the end of the race to say 'this is what we're going to do'. "I'm extremely upset about what’s happened today – not about the fact that two cars have crashed into each other, I'm very upset because we've defined rules all together and we've broken those rules. And I feel let down. Whoever it would have been, Lewis or Nico, I feel let down and the team has been let down. This is why we real have to analyse properly how we can do it better."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09260http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09260Hamilton: 'Rosberg admitted crash was deliberate'Sun, 24 Aug 2014 17:54:14 GMTLewis Hamilton claims Nico Rosberg crashed into him on purpose to "prove a point" and says the German openly admitted it during a post-race debrief with the team. Mercedes bosses were already angry with Rosberg after both Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda admitted the German was at fault for the clash. Speaking after a team meeting on Sunday evening, Hamilton revealed that Rosberg wanted to prove a point so chose not to back out and deliberately tapped the rear of the Briton's W05. "We just had a meeting about it and he basically said he did it on purpose," Hamilton said. "He said he could have avoided it, but he didn't want to. He basically said, 'I did it to prove a point'. "He just came in there and said it was my fault," added a gobsmacked Hamilton. "And you don't have to just rely on me. Go and ask Toto [Wolff] and Paddy [Lowe] who are not happy with him as well." Hamilton is under no illusion that he was in no way to blame for the clash which he says was easy to avoid on Rosberg's behalf. "You know, and you can ask Fernando [Alonso] and you can ask all drivers, when a car is less than half a car length alongside you and you are on the inside, it's your racing line. "It's not your job to go massively out of your way to leave extra, extra room. And it wasn't one of those corners where there's a wall there or anything. "Look at Sebastian [Vettel]. He was actually further up [in a lap one move] and he knew he wasn't going to go out the other side. He was sensible about it." According to the BBC, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has confirmed the comments to be true and it could therefore have severe consequences for the championship leader.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09259http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09259Magnussen demoted to 12th by Belgian stewardsSun, 24 Aug 2014 16:21:52 GMTKevin Magnussen has been handed a 20-second penalty for failing to leave enough room for Fernando Alonso when the pair were battling for position on the Kemmel Straight. The McLaren driver was defending fifth place when Alonso had to take to the grass to avoid contact. Magnussen eventually finished sixth with Alonso eighth. However the stewards added a time penalty of 20-seconds to the Dane's time, demoting him to 12th and promoting those behind him. He was also handed two penalty points to his F1 licence. The penalty sees Nico Hulkenberg take up the final points paying position. Revised Race Result - 2014 Belgian Grand Prix: #DriverTeamGapPts 01. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 25 02. Nico Rosberg Mercedes +3.3 18 03. Valtteri Bottas Williams +28.0 15 04. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +36.8 12 05. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull +52.1 10 06. Jenson Button McLaren +54.5 8 07. Fernando Alonso Ferrari +61.1 6 08. Sergio Perez Force India +64.2 4 09. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso +65.3 2 10. Nico Hulkenberg Force India +65.6 1 11. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso +71.9 12. Kevin Magnussen McLaren +74.2 13. Felipe Massa Lotus +75.9 14. Adrian Sutil Sauber +82.4 15. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber +90.8 16. Max Chilton Marussia +1 lap 17. Marcus Ericsson Caterham +1 lap 18. Jules Bianchi Marussia Retired 19. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Retired 20. Romain Grosjean Lotus Retired 21. Pastor Maldonado Lotus Retired 22. Andre Lotterer Caterham Retired http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09258http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09258Ricciardo raises his title hopes after third winSun, 24 Aug 2014 16:06:05 GMTDaniel Ricciardo has closed to within just 35 points of Lewis Hamilton and 64 of championship leader Nico Rosberg to put him in good standings to mount a challenge for the title. The Australian admits things are looking up for Red Bull if they can score maximum points at a circuit where they have themselves no chance of a podium, let alone a win. "I see good things ahead if we can collect maximum points around here," he said. "It gives us a bit more hope for the circuits that are going to come later in the season, Singapore, Suzuka, just a couple to mention. "It is great! We are really motivated right now and it has been a really good day for us on a track where we didn't expect to get maximum points. "I'll keep smiling for a while but I still stay grounded. Monza I know will be tricky again bur the package we bought here was pretty racy, so we'll try to take something from here to Monza, and Singapore, Suzuka will be pretty good for us." When asked if he could win the championship, he replied: "If I am within 50 [points] coming into Abu Dhabi then yeah."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09257http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09257Mercedes bosses blame Rosberg for collisionSun, 24 Aug 2014 15:35:56 GMTMercedes bosses Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda have both put the blame on Nico Rosberg for a lap two collision between the German and his team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton passed Rosberg at the start of the race, but Rosberg found himself in the Briton's slipstream on the second lap as they entered Les Combes. The pair made contact with Rosberg's front-wing making contact with Hamilton's left-rear which caused a puncture. Wolff criticised the move and described the race as "unacceptable." "You don't try to overtake with the knife between your teeth on lap number two and damage both cars," said Wolff. "Lap number two of a long race, a crash between two team-mates. It is absolutely unacceptable. "Lewis is very upset, but there is nothing we can say to him." Triple world champion and non-executive chairman Lauda was equally annoyed and put the blame on Rosberg. "It is unacceptable for me that, in the second lap, Nico hits Lewis. "If these things happen at the end of the race when they are fighting, we can talk about it. But on the second lap, it is ridiculous." He added that they would sit down and discuss the matter later.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09256http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09256Ricciardo wins Belgian GP as Mercedes duo collideSun, 24 Aug 2014 14:45:50 GMTDaniel Ricciardo secured his third win of the season and his career as he secured a sensational back-to-back victory to win the Belgian Grand Prix. The Australian made the most of Mercedes' misfortune after Nico Rosberg clipped the rear of his team-mate's car - after Lewis Hamilton managed to take the lead at the first corner - puncturing Hamilton's left-rear. Whilst Rosberg was able to recover to finsh second, Hamilton retired from the race after lapping in the bottom half of the field, the damage to his car seemingly worse than just a puncture. Valtteri Bottas came in third ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen. Meanwhile an intense battle for fifth to eighth broke out in the final few laps, with Sebastian Vettel eventually coming ahead of Kevin Magnussen, Jenson Button and then Fernando Alonso. Sergio Perez and Daniil Kvyat completed the top ten points scorers. Race Result - 2014 Belgian Grand Prix: #DriverTeamGapPts 01. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 25 02. Nico Rosberg Mercedes +3.3 18 03. Valtteri Bottas Williams +28.0 15 04. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +36.8 12 05. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull +52.1 10 06. Kevin Magnussen McLaren +54.2 8 07. Jenson Button McLaren +54.5 6 08. Fernando Alonso Ferrari +61.1 4 09. Sergio Perez Force India +64.2 2 10. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso +65.3 1 11. Nico Hulkenberg Force India +65.6 12. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso +71.9 13. Felipe Massa Lotus +75.9 14. Adrian Sutil Sauber +82.4 15. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber +90.8 16. Max Chilton Marussia +1 lap 17. Marcus Ericsson Caterham +1 lap 18. Jules Bianchi Marussia Retired 19. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Retired 20. Romain Grosjean Lotus Retired 21. Pastor Maldonado Lotus Retired 22. Andre Lotterer Caterham Retired http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09255http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09255Mercedes reveal findings of Hamilton's brake failureSun, 24 Aug 2014 10:30:46 GMTMercedes and Brembo have confirmed their findings following an investigation into what happened to Lewis Hamilton's brakes during qualifying for the German Grand Prix. The Briton crashed into the barriers after a right-front brake failed, ruining his chances of securing pole position which went to his team-mate Nico Rosberg. Brembo has ruled out a quality problem and after working through data and simulations, have confirmed the way the disc interacted with the mounting was the blame. "First of all, both parties can now confirm that the quality of the disc material was not a contributory factor," read a statement issued by Mercedes. "Instead, extensive analysis and experimentation has demonstrated that the specific interaction between the structure of the brake material in question and the brake mounting on the F1 W05 Hybrid was at the root of the failure. "Countermeasures have already been applied to both the disc geometry and the mounting to ensure there can be no repeat of the failure."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09254http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09254Ferrari will retain Alonso/Raikkonen - MattiacciSat, 23 Aug 2014 20:08:32 GMTFerrari will reportedly retain both Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen for the 2015 season according to team principal Marco Mattiacci. Alonso's future in particular has been in doubt recently with suggestions he may return to McLaren next season amid disappointing results at the Italian outfit. Whilst many would argue McLaren are faring no better - worse if you go by results - it's believed both the Woking team and its new for 2015 engine supplier Honda have given the Spaniard guarantees that it will be more successful. It's not clear whether that is enough to tempt the double world champion back, or whether he's able to move as he remains under contract with Ferrari for 2015, which may have prompted Mattiacci's comments to Sky Sports F1. "Mattiacci has insisted to Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle that both drivers will remain with the team for next year." However if speculation about contractual objectives within Alonso's Ferrari contract are true, the Spaniard may be able to wriggle his way free should Ferrari's poor form continue. Mattiacci might be happy to retain Alonso, but they might well have to wait and see if Alonso is happy to retain Ferrari before they announce anything concrete.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09253http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09253Hamilton reckons P2 might be an advantage over poleSat, 23 Aug 2014 16:38:49 GMTLewis Hamilton believes he might have an advantage over pole position by starting second as long as he can get a good getaway on Sunday. The Mercedes driver was outqualified by his team-mate Nico Rosberg on Saturday, something Hamilton puts down to a front-left brake problem which didn't give him the confidence or ability to brake late. "I'm just happy to be up here," he said. "I had a glazed front right, or front left brake, so the car was pulling to the left, or to the right, and there was nothing I could do on the out laps to try and get rid of it so I was struggling under braking. "I could bring the braking point a little bit further back but I was losing massive amounts, particularly through Turn 1. This is a circuit where you need to have confidence on the brakes and today -particularly in Q3 -I was just going straight on everywhere, that's because the left brake wasn't working for some reason - I don't know why it was glazing." The Briton started on pole last year put was almost immediately passed by second-placed Sebastian Vettel thanks to the long Kemmel-straight which follows the Eau Rouge-Raidillon complex. He reckons starting second could be an advantage if he can start well. "I'm not disappointed today, actually. If you look at previous years P2 was actually the best place to start here so I'm quite blessed that is actually the case," he explained. "I started pole here last year and Sebastian flew past me down the top straight so I think it gives you the most opportunity from the start." With the rain on Saturday, any rubber laid down over the P1 grid slot will have also been washed away giving fairly equal grip on and off the racing line. P2 also gifts the inside line for La Source.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09252http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09252Rosberg leads Mercedes Belgian front-row lockoutSat, 23 Aug 2014 14:10:40 GMTNico Rosberg secured his fourth consecutive pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix to start ahead of his team-mate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton. The German waited until Q3 to assert his dominance, but it might well have been a mistake by Hamilton which handed pole to Rosberg. The Briton ran wide on his first attempt, forcing him to set a second banker. However as the track dried out, he had time for just one run whilst Rosberg had two which eventually paid a dividend and his 2:05.591 in the wet was good enough. Sebastian Vettel will line up third, albeit over two seconds down on the Mercedes, but the Red Bull driver will surely be pleased with the position which puts him alongside Ferrari's Fernando Alonso. Daniel Ricciardo was fifth thanks to a scary moment as he approached the Bus Stop chicane. The Williams duo won't be too happy with sixth for Valtteri Bottas and ninth for Felipe Massa but a dry should play to their advantage. Both McLarens made the top ten with Kevin Magnussen beating Jenson Button in seventh and tenth respectively, with Kimi Raikkonen eighth. Jules Bianchi made the most of the conditions to go 16th whilst newcomer Andre Lotterer outqualified his team-mate Marcus Ericsson by almost a second on his debut. Qualifying - 2014 Belgian Grand Prix #Driver Team Q1Q2Q3 01 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 2:07.130 2:06.723 2:05.591 02 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 2:07.280 2:06.609 2:05.819 03 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 2:10.105 2:08.868 2:07.717 04 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 2:10.197 2:08.450 2:07.786 05 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 2:10.089 2:08.989 2:07.911 06 Valtteri Bottas Williams 2:09.250 2:08.451 2:08.049 07 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 2:11.081 2:08.901 2:08.679 08 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 2:09.885 2:08.646 2:08.780 09 Felipe Massa Williams 2:08.403 2:08.833 2:08.178 10 Jenson Button McLaren 2:10.529 2:09.272 2:09.776 11 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 2:10.445 2:09.377   12 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 2:09.811 2:09.805   13 Sergio Perez Force India 2:10.666 2:10.084   14 Adrian Sutil Sauber 2:11.051 2:10.238   15 Romain Grosjean Lotus 2:10.898 2:11.087   16 Jules Bianchi Marussia 2.11.051 2:12.470   17 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 2:11.261     18 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 2:11.267     19 Max Chilton Marussia 2:12.566     20 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 2:13.414     21 Andre Lotterer Caterham 2:13.469     22 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 2:14.438     http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09251http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09251FP3: Bottas leads final practice as pack tightensSat, 23 Aug 2014 11:20:25 GMTValtteri Bottas headed the times on Saturday morning for final practice ahead of qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix. The Williams driver posted a 1:49.465 in the closing minutes to jump to the top ahead of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo a further two-tenths back. Nico Rosberg was third quickest as Kimi Raikkonen split the Mercedes pair, though it was apparent the duo were running a higher fuel load than those around them. The second Ferrari of Fernando Alonso was sixth ahead of Daniil Kvyat. The session was relatively problem free with most completing a handful of laps as the track dried after the opening 30 minutes thanks to a pre-practice shower. FP3 Full Times - 2014 Belgian Grand Prix: #No.DriverTeamTimeGapLaps 01 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:49.465   12 02 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:49.733 0.268 9 03 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:49.739 0.274 13 04 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:49.817 0.352 9 05 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:49.817 0.352 13 06 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:49.890 0.425 9 07 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:49.893 0.428 11 08 22 Jenson Button McLaren 1:50.203 0.738 11 09 19 Felipe Massa Williams 1:50.423 0.958 11 10 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:50.535 1.070 10 11 11 Sergio Perez Force India 1:50.592 1.127 12 12 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:50.748 1.283 11 13 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:50.814 1.349 10 14 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:50.866 1.401 11 15 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:50.962 1.497 12 16 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:51.509 2.044 9 17 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:51.610 2.145 10 18 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:51.898 2.433 15 19 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:52.457 2.992 14 20 4 Max Chilton Marussia 1:52.984 3.519 14 21 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:54.294 4.829 11 22 45 Andre Lotterer Caterham 1:55.008 5.543 13 http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09250http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09250Verstappen signing 'worst thing for F1' - VilleneuveSat, 23 Aug 2014 10:19:06 GMT1997 Formula 1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve, known for his outspoken comments, has described the signing of 16-year-old Max Verstappen "the worst decision ever" for the sport. The Canadian has heavily criticised Red Bull and Toro Rosso's decision to give the Dutch driver a seat, despite him only having competed in one season of Formula 3 so far. He also has no F1 experience and is therefore required to complete 300km of running in an old car to gain a Super Licence which will allow him to take part in an official F1 session. "Getting a Super Licence should be meaningful, not just doing three hundred kilometres and it being fine," he told Autosport. "Basically, it's like getting all the presents without deserving anything. But there is this thing of 'the younger, the better'. What's the next step? A team who will sign someone at 15 just to get the image out of it? "He is still a boy so it is very risky. You don't take a 16-year-old, who hasn't even been to university, [put him] in the best hospital as a doctor even if he is very good and very intelligent. "You need to pay dues; you need to deserve it because that is only how you will become a man." Villeneuve believes the decision can only have a negative outcome either for Verstappen or the sport. "It is the worst thing ever for Formula 1 because it will have two effects. It will either destroy him or, even if he is successful right away, then F1 will be meaningless," he added. "What will F1 be? It will be nothing. It doesn't do any good for anyone."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09249http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09249Lotterer: I can push my LMP1 harder in the cornersFri, 22 Aug 2014 20:20:19 GMTAndré Lotterer was surprised by the performance of the Caterham CT05, but probably not for the reasons Caterham would like. The German was drafted in to replace Kamui Kobayashi for the Belgian race weekend in a bid to push development of the car. His first taste came on Friday during first and second practice, but his initial reaction was to make a comparison with his series-leading Audi LMP1 car which he says can corner harder. "There is a lot more power [in the F1 car] – it would be nice to have that much power in an LMP1 car – but then in the corners it is the opposite," he told Sky Sports F1. "I think our Michelin tyres are a bit better, we can push them much harder and do over 700km on one set of tyres and [the car has] more downforce as well so you can push an LMP1 a bit more in the corners. "So that was the surprising thing, but we did come a bit low on downforce here so I expect the car to become better. But you do have to restrict yourself and apply yourself a lot." Lotterer is missing a Formula Nippon event in Japan in order to race in F1 despite being in contention for the Nippon title, but he says the opportunity was too good to pass on. "Three weeks ago I got a phone call from the team and then I had a bit of a dilemma," he explained. "Doing a Formula 1 race is something I've always wanted to do and the opportunity came. "For sure it is a big challenge to come in like this and get up to speed and learn everything, but I don't have much to lose, it is a good opportunity and my career doesn't depend on this race so I'm pretty relaxed."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09248http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09248Chilton: 'More to the story than being reported'Fri, 22 Aug 2014 18:09:12 GMTMax Chilton has suggested there is more to the story of him being replaced at Marussia, only to be put back in the car at the last minute. The Briton, who is known to have 'backers' paying for his seat, was to be replaced by Alexander Rossi for the Belgian Grand Prix weekend due to "contractual issues".  Chilton later claimed he had voluntarily given up his seat for the team to sell for much needed funds, but on Friday morning the team lodged a request to put Chilton back in the car. Media and fans immediately suspected funding on Chilton's side was the issue, but the 23-year-old has denied this and suggests there is more to the story of which he can't divulge. "It has been a busy 24 hours and lots of things have changed," he said on Friday evening. "There have been lots of rumours that aren't true. They're the first thing people think of. But there's a lot more going on behind the scenes. "That's why what happened yesterday was created, but that changed and that's why I got put back in the car." He refused to be drawn on the real reasons behind the odd move, as did the team. "I'm not going to comment on anything because the moment I comment on that people will start writing it," he added. "But I stick to the words that what everyone seems to think has happened isn't the issue."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09247http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09247FP2: Hamilton opens up a lead in Belgian practiceFri, 22 Aug 2014 14:59:53 GMTLewis Hamilton moved clear at the top of the times with a lap of 1:49.189 to go sixth tenths quicker than team-mate Nico Rosberg. The session began with a red flag just minutes in after Pastor Maldonado dropped his Lotus and span into the barriers, ending his session early. A second red flag was caused by a spinning Esteban Gutierrez. With the action back underway following the interruptions, nobody could displace Hamilton with Rosberg coming the closest, albeit six-tenths down. Fernando Alonso held third, whilst the Williams pair closed in, split only by the McLaren of Jenson Button in fifth. Newcomer Andre Lotterer was slower than team-mate Marcus Ericsson but only by the smallest of margins after his session was also cut short by a problem. FP2 Full Times - 2014 Belgian Grand Prix: #No.DriverTeamTimeGapLaps 01 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:49.189   26 02 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:49.793 0.604 28 03 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:49.930 0.741 19 04 19 Felipe Massa Williams 1:50.327 1.138 24 05 22 Jenson Button McLaren 1:50.659 1.470 31 06 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:50.677 1.488 26 07 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:50.725 1.536 25 08 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:50.977 1.788 16 09 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:51.074 1.885 31 10 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:51.077 1.888 26 11 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:51.383 2.194 26 12 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:51.450 2.261 29 13 11 Sergio Perez Force India- 1:51.573 2.384 28 14 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:52.196 3.007 25 15 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:52.234 3.045 18 16 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:52.776 3.587 23 17 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:53.955 4.766 7 18 4 Max Chilton Marussia 1:54.040 4.851 18 19 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:54.050 4.861 30 20 45 Andre Lotterer Caterham 1:54.093 4.904 24 21 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus No time   2 22 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull No time   0 http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09246http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09246Stats: Power unit component usage after eleven racesFri, 22 Aug 2014 11:58:21 GMTWith the increased focus on reliability and durability in 2014, keeping an eye on the number of power unit components throughout the season could prove key to any championship hopes. Should a driver exceed the allocation of any of the components below - of which they get five per season - then they will be hit with a grid penalty. Should a driver use a sixth component for the first time, they will be hit with a ten-place grid penalty. A five-place penalty will be applied to any sixth component after that and so on. Both Red Bull drivers have changed their ICE, TC, MGU-K and MGU-H, whilst Sebastian Vettel is now on his fourth Control Electronics, as is Caterham's Kamui Kobayashi. Here are the latest statistics concerning use ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix. Note: Vettel is due to change his engine for the race, this isn't included in the below statistics. ICE - Internal Combustion EngineTC - Turbo ChargerMGU-K - Motor Generator Energy-KineticMGU-H - Motor Generator Energy-HeatES - Energy StoreCE - Control Electronics #DriverTeamICETCMGU-KMGU-HESCE 01 S. Vettel Red Bull 4 4 4 4 2 4 02 D. Ricciardo Red Bull 4 3 4 3 2 3 03 L. Hamilton Mercedes 3 3 3 3 3 3 04 N. Rosberg Mercedes 3 3 3 3 2 3 05 F. Alonso Ferrari 3 3 3 3 3 4 06 K. Raikkonen Ferrari 3 3 3 4 4 3 07 R. Grosjean Lotus 4 5 4 4 2 3 08 P. Maldonado Lotus 5 5 5 5 3 3 09 J. Button McLaren 3 3 3 3 3 3 10 K. Magnussen McLaren 3 3 3 3 3 3 11 N. Hulkenberg Force India 3 3 3 3 2 2 12 S. Perez Force India 3 3 3 3 2 2 13 A. Sutil Sauber 4 4 4 4 4 3 14 E. Gutierrez Sauber 3 3 3 3 3 4 15 J. Vergne Toro Rosso 4 4 5 4 3 3 16 D. Kvyat Toro Rosso 5 4 5 4 3 3 17 F. Massa Williams 3 3 3 3 2 3 18 V. Bottas Williams 3 3 3 3 3 2 19 J. Bianchi Marussia 4 4 3 4 2 4 20 M. Chilton Marussia 4 4 4 4 3 4 21 A. Lotterer Caterham 3 3 3 3 3 4 22 M. Ericsson Caterham 4 4 3 3 2 3 http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09245http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09245FP1: Rosberg pips Hamilton to Belgian top spotFri, 22 Aug 2014 10:53:38 GMTNico Rosberg topped the practice times ahead of Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton as Formula 1 returned from its summer break. The German's 1:51.577 couldn't be bettered though Hamilton came close a few times, but errors cost him the top spot. The Briton went off several times as he pushed the limit. Surprisingly Fernando Alonso was their closest rival, just a couple of tenths back in his Ferrari, whilst Jenson Button was fourth quickest for McLaren. He was followed by Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez and Kevin Magnussen. Williams failed to show their hand in the session, coming in 10th and 15th quickest whilst stand-in André Lotterer outpaced Marcus Ericsson on his debut. FP1 Full Times - 2014 Belgian Grand Prix: #No.DriverTeamTimeGapLaps 01 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:51.577   25 02 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:51.674 0.097 24 03 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:51.805 0.228 16 04 22 Jenson Button McLaren 1:52.404 0.827 21 05 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:52.818 1.241 17 06 11 Sergio Perez Force India 1:52.903 1.326 24 07 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:52.922 1.345 23 08 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:52.937 1.360 22 09 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:52.972 1.395 19 10 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:53.172 1.595 20 11 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:53.389 1.792 11 12 26 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:53.594 2.017 21 13 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:53.597 2.020 20 14 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:53.703 2.126 14 15 19 Felipe Massa Williams 1:53.968 2.391 20 16 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:54.189 2.612 20 17 36 Giedo van der Garde Sauber 1:54.335 2.758 16 18 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:55.336 3.759 21 19 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:55.782 4.205 19 20 42 Alexander Rossi Marussia 1:57.232 5.655 20 21 45 André Lotterer Caterham 1:57.886 6.309 24 22 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:57.977 6.400 24 http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09244http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09244Chilton will race for Marussia in Belgium after allFri, 22 Aug 2014 10:14:15 GMTMax Chilton will take part in the Belgian Grand Prix despite the team issuing a statement on Thursday saying he would be replaced by Alexander Rossi. The team blamed the swap on "contractual issues", believed to relate to late payments from Chilton's backers despite a statement to the contracy from the Briton's management stating he voluntarily gave up the seat. However a deal was done overnight which will see Chilton back in the car for second practice onwards. "The stewards have received a request from Marussia F1 Team to change the nominated driver Alexander Rossi (car #42) back to their previously nominated driver Max Chilton (car #4) for the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix. "In accordance with Article 19 of the FIA Formula 1 sporting regulations the stewards grant permission for this driver change."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09243http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09243We've not discussed team order saga - HamiltonThu, 21 Aug 2014 18:36:53 GMTLewis Hamilton says there has been no internal discussion involving himself or team-mate Nico Rosberg over the summer break with regards the Hungarian Grand Prix team orders saga. Mercedes requested Hamilton move over for Rosberg in the closing stages of the Hungarian GP, but the Briton refused and eventually finished just ahead of his team-mate. Mercedes' bosses Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda both admitted the call was the wrong thing to do, with both insisting they would change their approach in future and it seems they've not informed their drivers yet. "There are no clear rules that have been set," admitted Hamilton when he was asked if he and Rosberg were clear on future matters. "The only discussion I had was a day or two after the race, there were some things on my mind, the things that had happened with the car. I really wanted to understand how they happened, what exactly went wrong in those situations and how we're going to rectify them to make sure they don't happen again, to either myself or Nico." The 29-year-old insisted there is no negativity within the team as a result of his decision in Hungary. "I don't know what Nico has said but we haven't all sat down together as yet. I'm not particularly sure it needs to happen. I've come here quite clear on what is to be done and needs to be done, and I feel quite comfortable with how the team has reacted and the decision they have made," he added. "We don't always individually make the right decision, and the team won't always make the right decision. But the best thing is we learn from our experiences and move forward. There's no tension, there's no negativity. We all move forwards together because we want to win the championship together as a team."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09242http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09242F1 drivers complete ALS Ice Bucket ChallengeThu, 21 Aug 2014 17:39:41 GMTFelipe Massa became the first of the current Formula 1 drivers to complete the Ice Bucket Challenge in support of the ALS Association which is raising funds in its battle to cure Lou Gehrig's disease. The idea behind the challenge is to pour a bucket of ice cold water over yourself and to donate a sum of money to charity at the same time, or pay more to avoid doing the challenge. So far the viral act has raised over £25 million ($41m) for the association compared to just £1.2m ($2m) during the same period last year. Massa posted his challenge on Twitter and then nominated three people including Daniel Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso. Ricciardo completed his challenge in the Belgian paddock on Thursday, nominating Lewis Hamilton and Christian Horner in the process. [Update] Hamilton completed the challenge following FP1 in Belgium. [Update] Alonso completed the challenge following FP2 in Belgium. [Update] Christian Horner and Adrian Newey joined in on Saturday. http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09241http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09241Chilton voluntarily stepped down to help the teamThu, 21 Aug 2014 16:52:16 GMTMax Chilton insists he voluntarily stepped aside for the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend in a bid to help the team financially. It was announced that Alexander Rossi would replace the Briton for the entire race weekend with Marussia saying it was because of "contractual issues" which needed to be resolved. Chilton's PR company however issued a statement immediately after to the contrary, claiming Chilton's decision was to help the team find additional funds by selling his seat. "Max Chilton has volunteered to step out of his race seat for this weekend's race in Spa, Belgium, to allow the team to attract much needed funds by selling his seat," read the statement. "Max will attend the race and be on hand to support the team in any way possible. It is expected that Marussia will invite reserve driver Alexander Rossi to take Max's seat. "Marussia are currently in talks with several new investors and it is expected that situation will be resolved before the next race in the F1 calendar in Monza." It isn't clear what "contractual issues" Marussia are referring too.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09240http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09240Rossi to replace Chilton for Belgian GP weekendThu, 21 Aug 2014 16:11:23 GMTAmerican Alexander Rossi will replace Max Chilton for the Belgian Grand Prix weekend, Marussia confirmed on Thursday. The team's reserve driver, who recently switched from Caterham, will make his racing debut, sitting in for the Briton whilst "contractual issues" are resolved. "Although it was not our intention to offer Alexander the possibility to race this season, in light of the circumstances we are pleased to be providing him with the opportunity to make his grand prix debut at this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps," said team boss John Booth. "Naturally we hope to resume normal service with respect to our established race driver line-up as soon as possible, but for now we wish Alexander well for the weekend ahead and we look forward to seeing him in action." 22-year-old Rossi will be the first American to take part in an F1 since Scott Speed in 2007, when he drove for Toro Rosso. "It goes without saying that I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to race in Formula 1 for the first time and I cannot thank the Marussia F1 team for the faith they are demonstrating in me," said Rossi. "It's a very big moment for me and there's a lot to prepare in a short space of time, but on the other hand I have felt ready for this for quite a while now. It is also exciting to be given this opportunity at such a fantastic and historical circuit as Spa-Francorchamps. "I can't wait to drive the MR03 from tomorrow and I hope to reward the team with a solid race weekend."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09239http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09239Winning a race in 2014 'unrealistic' says AlonsoThu, 21 Aug 2014 13:54:58 GMTFernando Alonso believes it would be unrealistic to believe Ferrari can win a race this season after admitting their target must now be to ensure they remain ahead of Williams in the championship. If they fail to secure a victory this year, it would be their first season without scoring a single win since 1993, but Alonso reckons that's highly likely given where they stand compared to their rivals. "Honestly, I think our target has to be lower," he replied when asked if their aim was to win a race in 2014. "I think a grand prix win this year is a little bit unrealistic." Alonso is focussing on scoring strongly to remain ahead of Williams. At present they have a narrow seven point advantage, but he admits it'll be a difficult task. "It [our aim] has to be fighting for the constructors' championship in the highest position possible. But it is quite a big competition, a tough competition, with Williams. "The next two races are quite good for them, so we expect to have tough weekends at the moment against Williams here and in Monza, and we need to cope with that. "We need damage limitation in the next two races in terms of points, and then attack in the last part [of the season]."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09238http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09238Wolff advised Verstappen to sign with Red BullThu, 21 Aug 2014 09:35:52 GMTMercedes came close to signing young Dutchman Max Verstappen but ultimately advised he would be better off with Red Bull, according to Toto Wolff. The 16-year-old will make his Formula 1 debut next season with a full-time race seat with Red Bull's junior team, Toro Rosso. The promise of a race seat prompted Wolff to end Mercedes' negotiations with Verstappen and his father-manager Jos and they were unable to offer something similar. "We had several meetings with Jos and Max," Wolff confirmed to Bild. "He is certainly a great talent, but we would not and could not guarantee him a seat with us in Formula 1. "So I advised them to accept the offer from Red Bull." When the Formula 3 driver makes his debut, he will be 17, but will still be the youngest F1 driver in history, beating Jaime Alguersuari who made his debut with Toro Rosso in 2009 at the age of 19.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09237http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09237Alonso the only 'genius' driver on the grid - StewartThu, 21 Aug 2014 09:20:00 GMTTriple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart has described Fernando Alonso as the only "genius" driver on the grid and "the most complete". Stewart's high praise comes after he was asked to name the best driver in the sport. In conclusion, he came up with four names, but it was Alonso who stands out according to the 75-year-old. "Mentally, probably Alonso," he told Marca, adding: "The fastest is perhaps Lewis Hamilton. "Rosberg is definitely one of the best, more consistent, and on the same level I think is Vettel. Those are the best," he stated. "In the world there are hundreds of millions of drivers, several thousand make their living from it, a few hundred live very well. "There are 22 grand prix drivers, maybe six of them are really good, three exceptional, but there is only one genius. So if I had to choose the most complete driver I would say Alonso." With the Spaniard having recently turned 33, often considered "getting on" in F1, Stewart thinks the opposite and says he's in his prime but questions his future plans. "I think it's the perfect age. He has lived the good, the bad and the ugly. "I don't know if he should change teams, but what I do know is that he will have to make that decision in the next six to eight weeks."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09236http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09236Dall’Ara blames Ferrari for Sauber's strugglesWed, 20 Aug 2014 23:19:30 GMTSauber's head of track engineering has blamed Ferrari for its woes this season as the Swiss team is just one of two to have failed to score a point so far in 2014. His comments come after team principal Monisha Kaltenborn refused to lay the blame squarely on Ferrari despite admitting the engine's lack of power is a "major factor". Giampaolo Dall’Ara sees it differently though. Whilst he admits the C33 "isn't the best car" they've built, he says the lack of top speed afforded by the Ferrari power unit is their achilles heel. "We received our new power train late. And all the associated information," he told Auto Motor und Sport. "The plan for the first test was to learn and sort out the reliability problems. Unfortunately, the laptimes were disappointing. "The numbers show it pretty clearly. We lack top speed," he explained. "At Hockenheim, we noticed that we were not losing much to them [Williams] in the faster corners. The time we are losing is on the straight and under braking. "It is clear that our engine is not at the level of the Mercedes. And despite our good cooperation with Ferrari, our hands are tied. And even Ferrari’s are as well because of the engine homologation."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09235http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09235FIA gives Russia's Sochi GP track green lightWed, 20 Aug 2014 17:56:14 GMTThe FIA has completed a final inspection ahead of the inaugural Russian Grand Prix, which is set to take place in October, giving the circuit the green light. Charlie Whiting was joined by a delegate of officials to ensure the circuit is up to the FIA's Grade 1 standard, allowing it to host a Formula 1 event. Whiting confirmed via a Sochi news release that a licence would be issued, essentially signing off on the facility which is now complete. "The circuit is in extremely good condition and will be issued with a licence," he is quoted as saying. "Everything has been done according to the plans - the kerbs are very good, the verges, the guardrails, the walls - everything is in an extremely good condition. Everything has been done to the highest standards and I'm extremely pleased. "I can say without hesitation that the circuit is ready 60 days in advance, which is very rare really." It's often the case that an inspection closer to the race date takes place as circuits aren't often completed until a few days in advance of the first event, but Whiting doesn't believe that will be necessary in this case. "I don't know at the moment, but it should not be necessary," he explained. "What I've seen today gives me complete comfort that the circuit will be entirely ready when I come back for the Grand Prix." Promoter Sergey Vorobyev added: "We were ready for Mr. Whiting's visit and we want to congratulate our builders who have made this positive verdict happen. We were confident that FIA would appreciate the efforts made by our team to implement the technical details that have been so highly reviewed by Mr. Whiting today. "Now that Sochi Autodrom has received a licence, everything else is up to the organisers of the events and as such we are working intensely on ensuring that all aspects of the event are fully prepared. It is our aim to make this a truly unforgettable event with the comfort and enjoyment of our guests at the forefront of all our efforts."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09234http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09234Lotterer to replace Kobayashi for Belgian GPWed, 20 Aug 2014 12:59:48 GMTCaterham have confirmed that André Lotterer will replace Kamui Kobayashi for the entire Belgian Grand Prix weekend. The German races in the Formula Nippon series as well as the World Endurance Championship with the Audi team, both of which have given him permission to take part in the Belgian race weekend. Caterham insists that Kobayashi "remains part of the team" and it's believed the Japanese driver will be back in the car for the Italian GP. Speaking about the decision, Lotterer said he is ready for the challenge of jumping into an F1 with very little experience. "I am delighted to be given the opportunity to take part in a Formula One race weekend – I want to thank Caterham F1 Team for this chance. "I'm ready for this challenge and I cannot wait to jump in the car and make the most out of the weekend ahead. I will need to get settled and used to the car quickly, as the team has worked on a number of updates and we will need to have as much time as possible out on track to optimise the car's performance. "I really enjoy racing at the legendary circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, it’s one of my favourite tracks and it’s very close to where I grew up, so this makes the weekend even more special and one to remember." About Lotterer: Born in Duisburg in Germany, Lotterer moved to Belgium when he was only two years of age and grew up close to Nivelles, a city that’s only 150km from Spa-Francorchamps. Three-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner, Lotterer started racing in the early 90s, succeeding in both German and British Formula 3 championships before being named Jaguar Racing’s Formula One test driver in 2002. A year later he moved to Japan, doing very well in both Formula Nippon and the Japanese Super GT Championship, which he won in 2006 and 2009. He made his debut in endurance racing in 2009, taking part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 24 Hours of Nurburgring. His impressive performance that year earned him a drive with the works Audi Sport team in the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans, remaining with the team and winning the prestigious race three times (2011, 2012 and 2014). In 2011 he won the Formula Nippon championship. Since 2012, the German competes in the FIA World Endurance Championship.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09233http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09233Lotus record £64 million loss during 2013Wed, 20 Aug 2014 11:33:47 GMTThe Lotus F1 Team has recorded losses of £64 million during the financial year of 2013 according to its latest accounts. The losses come just days after team co-owner Gerard Lopez dismissed talk of financial problems at the Enstone outfit. A report in Forbes states the loss is a result of inter-company loans between the team's owner, Genii Capital, and the interest accrued on those loans. The 2013 accounts show that revenue was stable at £92.6m ($154m), but net losses rose by almost £10m ($16m) as interest payments increased to £13.5m ($22.5m). The increase in interest payments is down to the fact loans to the company have almost doubled to £125m ($208m), made up of third-party debt and group loans. 2014 accounts may well show a minor improvement after the team sold a 10 per cent stake to Russia's YotaPhones following the failure to sell a 35 per cent stake to Quantum Motorsport last year.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09232http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09232Caterham confirm new-look nose for Belgian GPWed, 20 Aug 2014 11:17:05 GMTCaterham will debut a new-look nose at this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, deputy team principal Manfredi Ravetto has confirmed. The F1 Times reported in July that a new nose was under development with the hope of deploying it at Spa, as part of a major development push in order to claim 10th from Sauber or even jump Marussia in 9th. "The new nose is part of a package of innovations we are bringing to Spa as a demonstration of how we are trying to revive our performance, even if we are restructuring the team and living difficult days from which we hope to emerge soon," Ravetto told Omnicorse. Whilst the new nose will have a major visual impact on the CT05, Ravetto revealed it's just a small part of a major development package which will become clearer over the next few races. "The changes in Belgium are, in fact, just the beginning - the most important things you will see later," he added.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09231http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09231Ecclestone needs educating on social media benefits says MallyaTue, 19 Aug 2014 22:44:13 GMTBernie Ecclestone needs to be educated on the benefits that social media can bring to a brand, that's the view of Force India team principal and co-owner Vijay Mallya. The Indian reckons Formula 1 is missing a trick when it comes to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the like, regardless of whether it generates income, purely because Ecclestone has shunned new media in favour of traditional TV. "What I don't understand is that Bernie doesn't want to know about social media - he's a TV man and that's it," Mallya told Autosport. "Somebody who is qualified enough to persuade him and convince him that social media is something that should be taken seriously would be a nice addition. "It's [social media] fantastic. We need someone like that to come and make a presentation to Bernie. Then I think he will be convinced." He's also warned against sudden changes to 'spice up the sport' because of a lack of spectators which he reckons can be attributed to other factors, not necessarily popularity. "Bernie may also be concerned at the lack of live spectator interest, but you cannot immediately ascribe that to the races being unexciting. "It could be for so many other reasons: ticket prices will influence attendance big-time, and so will weather or other clashing major sporting events - all this has to be factored in. "You can't just say: 'the stands are empty; the sport is not exciting enough'."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09230http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09230Verstappen to replace Vergne at STR in 2015Tue, 19 Aug 2014 09:31:43 GMTToro Rosso have confirmed that Max Verstappen will replace Jean-Eric Vergne next season to race alongside Daniil Kvyat. The young Dutchman recently signed to Red Bull's Junior Programme and is currently in contention for the 2014 F3 title. He will become the youngest ever F1 driver when he debuts in 2015 at the age of 17. "Ever since I was seven years old, Formula One has been my career goal, so this opportunity is truly a dream come true,” said Verstappen. Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost believes Verstappen, even at his young age, has what it takes to make the jump from F3 to F1. "We are happy to welcome Max into the Toro Rosso family," he commented. "It's great to see how the Red Bull Junior Programme continues to find talented young drivers and gives them the opportunity to come into F1. "We consider Max to be one of the most skilled young drivers of the new generation and we believe he has the necessary maturity and mental strength to take on this challenge successfully." The announcement leaves Vergne's future in doubt. Toro Rosso rarely keeps a driver on for more than two seasons and so it's likely the Frenchman knew it was time to move on. However having been overshadowed by his rookie team-mate on several occasions, he may find it difficult to move on. Tost thanked Vergne for his contributions over the past two years: "He has produced strong performances, but unfortunately he was also hindered by some reliability problems, especially in the first half of the current season. "We hope that we have resolved these problems and that he will be able to end the second half of this season on a high note and thereby show that he still deserves another opportunity in F1."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09229http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09229Maldonado confident of a strong finish to 2014Sun, 17 Aug 2014 12:23:06 GMTPastor Maldonado is confident that he and team-mate Romain Grosjean can finish the 2014 season strongly and fully expects Lotus to score more points than they already have. The team has just eight points on the board so far, all thanks to Grosjean, but Maldonado reckons they've worked through their problems and they'll be able to score consistently when F1 returns next week. "It has been a very hard season and one in which there have been lots of issues," the Venezuelan admitted. "But now that is behind us and we have to believe that we can get some points and complete the season strongly. That way it will give some good momentum to start afresh in 2015 with a whole new exciting package. "It would be difficult to give a clear aim other than improvement and fighting for points every race. "We have seen flashes of big promise from the E22. If everything is running right and the team continues to push then we can get more points for sure. As a team we will stay together with a clear mission to achieve the maximum." Maldonado is hoping for a "very positive" result at the next race in Belgium where weather conditions can throw up unexpected results. "Spa always throws up some variables with the weather being the obvious one. It would be nice to be higher up than the last few races. "If we can achieve this and we have a good package then I believe we can come away with something very positive from Belgium."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09228http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09228Mexico's return – it’s good to be backSat, 16 Aug 2014 15:48:03 GMTWith the probable exception of CVC’s bank manager, it is a struggle to find anyone who is entirely at ease with the modern F1 calendar. The myriad causes of its current form are by now well-known, as are the various manifestations. The world’s oldest Grand Prix, the French – long thought untouchable – has now been gone for years. Many popular stop-offs – Spa, Montreal, Suzuka – were threatened and even dropped for a while. Imola has been dropped definitively. Plenty of new venues where not many of the locals appear interested, and/or are hosted and bankrolled by a rather unpleasant regime, have in their stead parachuted in.  As if to prove that there is no outer limit on the absurdity more lately Monza of all places has had Bernie’s gun pointed at its head. And with startling ironic timing we’ve had it confirmed in recent weeks that another new host in Azerbaijan – one that appears to share at least one of the characteristics outlined above – is apparently to land on the itinerary in 2016. But – and though missing this fact is understandable – it’s not all bad. The return of Austria this year was an undoubted success for one, as has been the presence of Austin since 2012. And in among all of the Azerbaijan storm it was again easy to be distracted from another spot of bright amid the gloom. That is after being rumoured for a while it’s been confirmed that Mexico is indeed to be another addition to the calendar, probably for late in the 2015 campaign. Why a spot of bright? Well it’s a large country with a strong motorsports heritage and plenty of local support and enthusiasm for F1. There are right now two Mexican F1 drivers of course, and a look at the liveries on their overalls confirms that there are a good few Mexican sponsors and other sources of investment behind them. And like the Austrian race it appears to have the benefit of being funded by a moneyed individual – thus immediately clearing the usual and often large obstacle of where the hosting fees are coming from. One of those Mexican drivers Sergio Perez beamed at the news that his home gig is to be established: ‘They've been really pushing for so many years, since I came to Formula One four years ago. The spirit of the fans is massive back home. It's great for my country…I'm just very proud and excited.’ The other local pilot Esteban Gutierrez was similarly approving: ‘I have good feelings about it…It's really a dream come true.’ Sauber’s Monisha Kalterborn meanwhile looked at the big picture presented by all of this: ‘It’s very good news for us because we know that our partner Telmex and Carlos Slim particularly has had this long-term vision to establish motorsport in Mexico…And we also know how important that is for the other partners we have.  ‘So, such a race, which has so much heritage, returning now is fantastic for the sport and I’m sure we’ll see how many fans we have.’  And underlining the support for F1 in Mexico she added: ‘We were there a couple of years ago doing a show run and we couldn’t believe that 200,000 people came out to see that. That tells you what a strong fan base it is – and that’s a very positive sign.’ Of course, this new round – and new venue of the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez to give it its latest title – is not actually new.  Next year will actually be the start of its third spell on the F1 schedule, which by my reckoning makes it only the third venue ever to have a third spell after an extended period away (Buenos Aires and the various incarnations of Austria’s Österreichring are the others, since you’re asking. At a stretch you could include the Nurburgring too).  The Mexican track’s F1 history goes all the way back to 1963, indeed to 1962 if we are to include the sport testing the temperature of the local water with a non-championship race there first. Indeed with this Mexico’s pre-dates by years races that are now thought of as fixtures such as Canada, Brazil and Japan. F1 didn’t really leave Western Europe much at all back then; in the 1950s there was an Argentine round for a few years, a US round (not including the oddity of the Indy 500 being awarded World Championship points) started in 1959, Morocco appeared for one time only in 1958 while South Africa debuted in 1962. But at the time that was your lot. But the fraternity quickly got settled into the place, despite the sad death of the promising local hero Ricardo Rodríguez after a crash in practice for the debut 1962 gathering mentioned, which resulted in the circuit taking his name subsequently. The F1 folk visiting Mexico liked the warmth of the sun as well as the friendliness and (in many cases) glamour of the locals. The thin air from upwards of 2000m altitude meanwhile challenged both drivers and engines, but it was thought a meagre downside. And while at around the same point in history both the Summer Olympics, in 1968, and the World Cup two years later, set up camp in Mexico City and apparently found little other than problems, F1 perhaps unusually made the best of things. The circuit layout was a pretty good one too. The track started with a lengthy, kilometre long, pit straight which at this point ended with a curious, tightening and banked right hander which slightly switched back on itself. Then another straight and some slower stuff, before the track opened out with a seemingly never-ending and ever-quickening esses section. That which I recall Murray Walker in his BBC TV commentary some years later – in that inimitable Murray way of his – title ‘the wiggle-woggle’. But this was all mere build-up; quickening the tempo gradually for the crescendo. The final turn that – probably appropriately – was the track’s crowning glory. The Peraltada, a corner that deserves rank among the finest and most pulse-quickening the sport has ever known. It was a long, 180 degree, banked turn, taken at something close to full pelt and containing like the rest of the track plenty of bumps to unsettle the car. There further was scant room on either side before hitting something for those who got it wrong.  But what the F1 crowd liked most were the facilities. As the 1963 Autocourse gushed, in so doing rather underlining how things in F1 used to be done very differently: ‘Each pit is a permanent lock up workshop, equipped with electricity and airlines so that the mechanics are not obliged to shift their equipment at all during the course of the whole meeting.’  There indeed were a few parallels with what would come later in Montreal. While it may not be the most obvious comparison (the two layouts are very distinct) in both cases the track was situated in a municipal park cheek-by-jowl with the hustle and bustle of a major city, a track which all-comers – cyclists, kids playing football – had access to between times. Both had backdrops dusted with distinctive architecture, in Mexico’s case various buildings that were venues for the 1968 Olympics popped up over time (and a baseball stadium inside the Peraltada has been added since). Which – given that the Montreal track is next to an Olympic rowing strip – provides yet another parallel. It was the scene of good races as well as, given its position often as a season-closer, a few championship showdowns too. This included a particularly dramatic one in 1964 when Jim Clark’s engine seizing on the final lap combined with Lorenzo Bandini responding to frantic gesturing from his Ferrari pit to let team mate John Surtees past ensured the title for the latter at the very last gasp. But despite all of these positives the venue developed something of an ill-starred quality. As the sport has found again in other countries in the modern age, the veneer of charm and respectability that it seemed to enjoying during its visits in fact hid rather a lot of problems underneath.  A student movement and series of protests and subsequent unrest known loosely as ‘Mexico 68’ commenced in the latter part of that year, in response to what were viewed as various repressions and injustices in the country. And it was to have an indirect but as it transpired devastating impact on the Grand Prix. In the 1968 and 1969 Mexican races there were some reports of batches of spectators sitting in front of barriers while the cars circulated, but it was in the 1970 Grand Prix that it all really came to a head.  Local enthusiasm couldn’t be faulted as some 200,000 turned up on race day that year. But that turned out to be a lot of the problem, as they decided to break down the safety fences and settle next to the edge of the track for a better view, with now literally nothing between them and where the cars were going to be proceeding at full clip. In previous visits they had been deterred from this by the presence of armed soldiers, but an upshot of ‘Mexico 68’ was that they were no longer anywhere to be seen. Lengthy imploring by world champion Jackie Stewart and their countryman Pedro Rodríguez had limited effect, and fearing the cancellation of the race would result in a riot it went ahead, as that year’s Autocourse put it, ‘lined with human guardrails’ (some of the humans in question ran across the track on occasion too). It was sheer merciful fortune that unimaginable carnage and death among the unguarded hordes watching on didn’t happen. With some sang froid Autocourse further noted that ‘a great deal of reorganisation will have to be done if there is to be a Mexican Grand Prix next year.’ As it was it was some 16 years before the venue – or even the country – was to return. A consortium of businessman got together to ensure the return of the Grand Prix in 1986 to the same stage, now called the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez to include the sadly departed in the meantime Pedro. There were only minor revisions to the layout, the opening turn by-passed by a more standard chicane and the hairpin at the far end of the track also dodged by an earlier sharp turn, both due to the lack of available run-off, allied with a general sizeable revamp to the facility.  The chaos of the 1970 race wasn’t repeated, but the ill-starred nature was still in certain ways hard to shake. Somehow what appeared by now to be the mass throng of humanity and in many quarters the conspicuous poverty – as well as the noise, smells, traffic, smog, dilapidation and the general tumult (and sometimes Montezuma's revenge) – of Mexico City rather chafed uncomfortably against the haughty view of itself that F1 had since developed. A few sought to make the best of it – some embraced the vibrancy of it all indeed – but plenty did not.  The track though remained challenging and there was some good racing also – the first race back had a surprise victor and debut triumph for both Gerhard Berger and the Benetton team, benefitting from a non-stop run on durable Pirellis (yes you spotted the irony). And of course we all remember Nigel Mansell passing Berger around the outside of the Peraltada in the last breaths of the 1990 race – perhaps though Alain Prost’s victory from 13th on the grid that day is even more deserving of praise. The crowds weren’t quite as big as before (the 1986 crowd was only about a quarter of the size of the 1970 version), although in mitigation the ticket prices by now were beyond the incomes of many locals and those that did attend remained passionate. But the altitude remained exasperating for both drivers and engines; the bumps seemed if anything more of a problem than previously – and apparently unresolvable as the track was built on geologically active ground meaning it literally moved beneath everyone’s feet. And related to this latter point was the circuit’s biggest problem – safety. Which even by the looser standards of the age was considered highly perilous. There was a series of accidents – many related to cars losing it on bumps – at the notorious and hemmed-in Peraltada. Philippe Alliot smashed into the pit wall on the inside of the turn’s exit in practice in 1988, bits of Lola and team personnel scattering in all directions. Derek Warwick had a crash of similar violence on the outside in the race a year earlier; Ayrton Senna crashed and flipped on the outside of the turn in 1991 practice (an accident that featured in the Senna movie). Prior to what turned out to be the final visit in 1992 there were murmurings that the Peraltada was to be replaced with two slow 90 degree turns. Thankfully not borne out, but the ‘solution’ instead was to flatten the banking.  The ubiquitous Autocourse reckoned that ‘if anything, it made the Peraltada more treacherous than before’. Without the incline to help, cars were more prone to loss of control as well as now Frisbeed towards the barriers even more quickly.  But in the Friday practice of that meeting Senna crashed after losing control on another bump, not this time at the Peraltada but rather in the esses section. When he smashed into the close-by barriers the pain he experienced was so intense that he was convinced that he’d broken both legs. As it was he merely had sustained heavy bruising, but Senna – a man as ever with a sharp and eloquent voice that tended to travel long distances – let rip on the Mexican circuit with what felt a lot like stinging finality. ‘This accident is the result of…having to run on a track which, year after year, has proved completely incompatible with F1 cars’ he said. ‘I have nothing against Mexico, but I really don’t think we should be coming here until the track is resurfaced and the run-off areas improved.’ Given all of this, it barely caused a ripple when the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez was dropped quietly from the 1993 calendar.  The track however lingered on despite much of the world now having turned its back on it. Champ Car arrived in 2002 and stayed for a few years – and confirming the extent of local enthusiasm in 2003 set a CART record of 402,413 being in attendance over the weekend – though managed to neuter the Peraltada with a detour of tight corners through the baseball stadium that had since sprung up on the inside of it. NASCAR appeared in 2005 and decided to stick a chicane along the pit straight. A1GP in its visits in 2007 and 2008 however ran on the same configuration that F1 had used. It seemed though that despite these ripples the sport’s most prestigious category never was again to return. That was until now. Of course, as these days is de rigueur, Hermann Tilke will get carte blanche to revise the place for its impending F1 pair-up, almost from the ground up if needed. And – though I say this with a heavy heart – it’s hard to see how the Peraltada will survive it all. The only route presumably will be if space is found for run-off and from what I gather there isn’t much around. One hopes whatever is the case the character of the old layout is yet retained. Sergio Perez believes it will be: ‘Yeah, there are a lot of things to be changed. The circuit is quite old. I mean, the last time you raced there was 22 years ago. They already started to build a new circuit. It will be fantastic once again; you are all going to be surprised. I'm sure it will become a very popular Grand Prix very soon.’ So am I Checo. So am I.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09227http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09227Di Resta 'will do whatever he can' to return to F1Sat, 16 Aug 2014 12:20:47 GMTOusted driver Paul di Resta hasn't given up on a return to Formula 1 and insists he has the talent and is still young enough to make it happen. The Scottish driver was dropped by Force India at the end of the 2013 season and despite outscoring his then team-mate Adrian Sutil by 48 points to 29, it was the German who found a seat elsewhere. Di Resta returned to DTM with Mercedes, but still holds a dream of returning to F1. "I loved F1; I enjoyed every single thing about it," he told the Scottish Herald newspaper. "It's the best racing there is and you are up there with la creme de la creme, so obviously it was disappointing not to get the chance to be involved this season. But you have to put up with setbacks and it's how you react to these things which matter. "I am confident people have seen that I have the qualities to succeed in F1 but, of course, things keep changing in the sport, whether it's the rules or the driver line-ups and, unfortunately, the situation arose where there wasn't a place for me." The 28-year-old is confident he still has what it takes to compete. "I am still young enough to believe I can gain another opportunity and I am pushing as hard as I can to make it happen. It obviously helps if you can bring a lot of money to the table, but I worked hard to earn my chance in the first place and I'm not going anywhere. I want to be back in F1 and I will do whatever I can to fulfil that ambition."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09226http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09226Ferrari engine chief says he's not to blame for woesFri, 15 Aug 2014 16:33:56 GMTLuca Marmorini has criticised his former team for asking him to build a smaller power unit than those designed by Mercedes and Renault because the smaller size, albeit down on power, would award them better aerodynamics, making up for the power deficit. The Italian oversaw Ferrari's V6 power unit development programme but, with the team scoring just two podiums so far, he was forced out during a reshuffle in July. Speaking to journalist Leo Turrini, Marmorini revealed the decision came from chief designer Nikolas Tombazis who assured him that a smaller unit would allow for better aerodynamics which would make up for any power loss. "In short, it was made ​​out that all the woes of the F14T are the fault of the power unit," he said. "As if a company with the history of Ferrari had forgotten how to make engines! "With my colleagues I packaged a power unit with a certain size, a smaller version of the Mercedes and Renault, because we were asked by the project manager of the car, Mr. Tombazis. "[He] said we want a very compact power unit, with small radiators, because the power loss will be compensated with aerodynamic solutions that will guarantee us an advantage over the cars [of] Mercedes and Renault. "It's been exactly like that, except that, when we were confronted with the competition, the horses (horsepower) were obviously less, but this was not compensated by aerodynamics!" He also revealed that he had spoken to new team principal Marco Mattiacci just twice during the three months they worked together prior to his departure. "I would like to explain to Marco Mattiacci [what the problem is], but with Mattiacci, in three months, I exchanged just a few words. We saw each other twice, the first for the greetings, the second when he gave me a letter that confirmed my farewell to the company."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09225http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09225Lotus still hurting from loss of FRIC - ChesterFri, 15 Aug 2014 16:11:51 GMTThe ban on front and rear inter-connected suspension systems certainly didn't change the pecking order as some predicted, but one of the biggest losers was Lotus and they're still feeling the impact of the ban according to technical director Nick Chester. The team arguably had, alongside Mercedes, one of the most advanced systems on their car and the impact of removing it hurt the E22's already poor performance. Chester says progress has been made over the summer break in clawing back those losses, but they still "hurting" from the change. "We have made some progress in reducing the deficiency from losing the interconnected suspension but we are still hurting a little bit," he admitted. "We have some revised mechanical parts for Spa including some new springs and enhanced suspension settings which should help. It was a highly developed system on the E22 beforehand so it is hard to claw all of the performance back straight away." In addition, the team will bring further upgrades to the car with the hope of introducing a new front and rear-wing at Spa. "We have a fair amount of new development parts for Spa such as new bodywork and some smaller modifications centred around the front of the chassis which should give some good downforce benefits for us," added Chester. "We will still have plenty of developments to come as the season goes on. "Front and rear wing developments are planned for Spa. The rear wing upgrades may be tight for Spa due to the time lost in manufacturing during the summer shutdown but we are pushing for it to be in Belgium. "The key thing is that we are continuing to push development of the E22 in the coming races with some fairly substantial upgrades. We know that there are some very sensitive areas of the car where we can make some good gains so we will be focusing on these areas too."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09224http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09224Marussia refuse to believe they have 9th sewn upFri, 15 Aug 2014 12:37:31 GMTMarussia refuse to believe they have ninth in the championship sewn up and won't believe so until the final results have been published at the final race of the year. The team currently has a two-point advantage over both Sauber and Caterham thanks to Jules Bianchi's ninth place finish at the Monaco Grand Prix. That isn't enough of a buffer to feel comfortable especially as the team has been in a similar position before in 2012 when they lost out on 10th to Caterham at the final race of the season. Speaking to Crash.net, team boss Graeme Lowdon was asked when he'd truly believe that Marussia had secured ninth, to which he responded: "When they've published the results in Abu Dhabi! "Honestly, we know from Brazil in 2012. Those sorts of things can happen and that teaches you a pretty good lesson which is literally until the cars have crossed the line, the results are published and nobody protests! "If we get to that stage it would be brilliant but there's a lot of hard work between now and then. Of course the other teams try equally hard as well, so it's not good enough for us to just stand still, we've got to be moving forward because the other guys will be pushing really hard. "I'm really pleased to get where we've got to but we've got to just keep that focus moving through the next races. Some of them aren't really going to suit our car. We've just got to see what we can do. Hopefully try and stay out of trouble."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09223http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09223Finishing ahead of Ferrari 'very positive' - MassaFri, 15 Aug 2014 12:07:10 GMTFelipe Massa is hopeful that Williams can finish ahead of his former team Ferrari in the world championship standings, something he says would be "very positive" for him and the team. The Brazilian reckons he departed Ferrari at the right time, just as Williams begins a resurgance whilst Ferrari struggles to remain on pace with the frontrunners. "I think so," he told Brazil's SportTV when he was drawn on the subject. "It was very important for me [to leave]. Sometimes a change does you good. I needed it even if some things did not all fit together yet. "But it will [eventually], and I think we can have a very positive future with this new team," added Massa. Williams has struggled to capitalise on its pace in the opening few races but has recently found its form, outscoring Ferrari 77 points to 55 in the last four races to close to within seven points of third in the standings. Massa is hopeful that Williams can beat his old team and reckons the result, after finishing ninth with five points last year, would be "very positive". "Our fight now is with Ferrari," he said. "We were in front until the last race [in Hungary] and Ferrari had a better race than Williams, but the chance to finish the year ahead of Ferrari is very large. That's what we want. "To be able to come up in one year into the top three, ahead of a big team like Ferrari, is very positive."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09222http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09222Vergne in need of 'big result' says team boss TostFri, 15 Aug 2014 11:53:37 GMTJean-Eric Vergne needs a big result this season to confirm he's made progress and to give him confidence in himself, that is the view of Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost. Vergne sits 13th in the standings with 11 points compared to rookie team-mate Daniil Kvyat in 15th with just six, but the Frenchman has spoken out about the reliability issues he's suffered and reckons his points haul could be much larger. Tost is fully aware of the problems, but believes one strong result before the end of the year would prove Vergne's talent and progress. "He made a lot of progress during the winter months so he is much more [mentally] stable this year," Tost told Autosport. "He is doing a good job. "Unfortunately he has had a lot of reliability issues with his car, but from the driving point of view he is fast, skilled, and I just hope he gets a really good result. "Monaco [where Vergne was sixth before a pit stop problem] would have been the kick to give him self-confidence to score a lot of points, and then everything becomes much easier. "You need the results because this is the confirmation. Otherwise it's just talk, philosophy."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09221http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09221Smedley: 'Williams are inching closer to Mercedes'Thu, 14 Aug 2014 17:45:20 GMTWilliams head of vehicle performance Rob Smedley believes the team is gradually "inching closer" to the dominant Mercedes outfit. The team is already eyeing its first victory of the season, with Smedley having confidence that they can challenge in both Spa and Monza as the circuits both suit the FW36. Since the start of the year, he says the gap between Williams and Mercedes has gradually declined, however the W05 still holds a big advantage. "If you take Mercedes as the benchmark - and they are the benchmark as they are doing by far the best job of anyone - obviously we are not a threat to them but we are inching closer to them which is really heartening to see with all the effort going in." What's more impressive according to Smedley is that Williams have done it by out-developing its rivals - all of which are moving forward, but not as quickly as Williams. "If you look at the reality of the situation, then between Mercedes, against Red Bull and against Ferrari, has that order really changed over the course of the year? Have you seen a big change in that? If you go away and look at the numbers and the percentage lap times - qualifying and race - I haven't really seen a big change in that. "I've seen McLaren get a little bit better, I've seen us get better, so the order is changing due to the performance and the way we are operating the car, not particularly because other people are going backwards."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09220http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09220Boullier says McLaren's downward spiral is overThu, 14 Aug 2014 11:41:47 GMTMcLaren's recent downward spiral, which has seen them fall well short of championship leaders Mercedes, is now over reckons racing director Eric Boullier. The team suffered their worst ever season in 2013 after failing to score a podium finish. Things looked up in 2014 though as the team took a double podium at the opening Australian Grand Prix. Neither Jenson Button nor Kevin Magnussen have been in the top three since, but things are starting to look up according to Boullier who believes the team is on the right path following its recent restructure. "We have definitely stopped getting 'down' and in the past couple of months we have got back on track," the Frenchman told Autosport. "It's always difficult to stop a downwards spiral, but it now looks like we have," he added. "We know it is going to take time to get back to the top. We have to be realistic, but at least now it looks like we are coming up. "I think by the end of the year 95 per cent will be completed and the foundation of McLaren for the next 10 years will be in place." Boullier admitted the team knew something had gone wrong somewhere which made making changes a lot easier and he is now hopeful that, along with Honda's input next year, they will be on the pace. "They knew that something was going wrong and most of the people were open-minded and happy to welcome changes," he explained. "My feeling is they are starting to accept the change and are beginning to get motivated again. "I expect the team to be much stronger next year and it will be good if we can deliver straight away."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09219http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09219Montezemolo denies Alonso, Raikkonen speculationWed, 13 Aug 2014 23:36:03 GMTFerrari president Luca di Montezemolo has dismissed speculation surrounding Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen's respective future's at the Scuderia. Both have been at the centre of wild rumours, particularly Alonso who many believe is seeking a seat elsewhere having grown tired of Ferrari's lack of progress. Raikkonen meanwhile has been linked with early retirement once again, with poor results pressuring him to up his game of make way for fresh talent such as Jules Bianchi. Montezemolo has described such rumours as "unfounded gossip". "We are lucky to have two great champions, who are working with the whole team to get back to being competitive again," he told Ferrari's website. "Of course, as is the case every summer, there is unfounded gossip about alleged problems with senseless rumours bandied about, such as the ones relating to Alonso's contract or those of drivers' salaries. "We know that the summer heat always produces silly stories. Our drivers must now relax in order to return in top form. The season is still long and we need Fernando and Kimi to be in great shape. And on the subject of Kimi, I wish him all the best as he is soon to become a dad." On the subject of the sport itself, the 66-year-old reports that progress has been made after he called for an emergency meeting to discuss ways of drawing F1 audiences back, including the use of social media. "As for our sport in general, we are pleased to see that all the major players share the views we first put forward regarding the need to revamp Formula One. We have proposals aimed specifically at improving the show, starting with more straightforward regulations, which put the spectators first, especially the younger generation."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09218http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09218Mario Andretti rooting for 'unlucky' HamiltonWed, 13 Aug 2014 19:06:37 GMTMario Andretti is rooting for Lewis Hamilton to succeed in his hunt for the 2014 title, rather than current championship leader Nico Rosberg. The 1978 champion reckons Hamilton is more deserving considering he sits just 11 points behind Rosberg despite repeated reliability troubles. "We've seen some epic racing between the two of them," he told the official F1 website. "I have a tendency to root a little bit more for Lewis, mainly because of the bad luck he's had mechanically. "When anything happens, it happens to his car and yet he has kept his chin up. And look at the performances he's had: starting from the pits in Hungary - it was fabulous to see. How could you not root for him?" Andretti also praised Hamilton's mental attitude amid the troubles. "He never gave up; he kept his attitude on a positive level. It could have been a total disaster if he'd had his chin down and been beaten mentally, but he's shown a lot of character this season and if he wins the championship it will be really, really well deserved." The American also backs a no team-order stance and says the 2008 champion was right to refuse to move over in Hungary when he and Rosberg are locked in a battle for the title. "Here’s the way I view team orders: if you reach a point in the season where one driver has got the best chance of pulling off a much better result in the championship then I think it's reasonable enough to help that driver," he explained. "But if you're in a position like Mercedes then I think they can probably let [Hamilton and Rosberg] fight to the end and not jeopardise the team's position. That's the way it should be - the driver that is in the best position in the last three or four races, that's the guy that the team - and his team-mate - should try to help. But until that point it has to be open season, no question about it."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09217http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09217August is the cruellest month - Memories of PironiWed, 13 Aug 2014 10:49:59 GMTAs the scarlet racing car hurtled through the misty air on a dark, soulless morning, its driver, startled to glimpse the tops of pine trees which abounded around the circuit, knew in an instant that he was in very grave danger. Those few seconds would be etched deep into the pilot’s mind for the rest of his days.  A red missile, the car speared into the skies at over 170 mph. The pilot closed his eyes and waited for the end. August 1982 and Formula One World Championship leader Didier Pironi was putting his Ferrari through its paces on a grim German morning, one of only a few cars to venture out of the pits that morning. Most drivers had taken one look at the circuit and scurried off to the sanctuary of garages and team motor homes. Not so Pironi. The Ferrari pilot steered his mount out onto the treacherous circuit without so much as a moment’s hesitation. The skies around Hockenheim darkened. The car felt good on the slippery circuit, very good. Soon the Ferrari was four, five seconds faster than anyone else. The wet tyres were gluing the car to the circuit. Didier opened the throttle. The whine of the Ferrari’s turbocharged engine reverberated around the circuit, breaking through the eerie stillness of the morning. The French driver was revelling in the feedback from the Harvey Postlethwaite-designed 126C2 as he roared around the sodden German circuit. Didier felt good, invincible almost. The Ferrari, now invisible amid a thick curtain of spray, headed confidently out into Hockenheim’s forest section, a fast, sweeping, ghostly couple of miles which snake through densely packed forests of pine. Didier flicked the car into the south straight. Ahead was a huge ball of spray containing the Williams car driven by Derek Daly. Approaching 170 mph Pironi was instantly upon the Williams, its Irish driver duly moving off the racing line to allow the Ferrari past. At least that’s how the situation looked from inside the Ferrari cockpit. But there was another car out there hidden in that ball of spray, unseen by Didier. Directly in front of Daly’s car was the Renault of Alain Prost. The Williams moved off the racing line. Trusting in himself and his God, Didier disappeared into the ball of spray… Summer 1982 and everything was coming together for Didier, professionally at least. The angelic looking Frenchman was riding a crest of a wave having recently assumed leadership of both the Ferrari team and the world championship. Didier’s ambition to become France’s first F1 World Champion was tantalisingly within reach. Yes, conditions out on the Hockenheim track were atrocious – rain in this part of the world can reach biblical proportions; and yes, Didier had taken pole position the previous day with a scorching lap of 1’47.947 - almost a second faster than his nearest challenger. The race victory seemed a formality. Why take such risks? Pironi they muttered, was crazy, one or two even suggested he had a death wish. Indeed colleagues and people who knew the French driver would readily attest to a level of bravery which bordered on the abnormal. “Didier had very big, huge balls,” said former team-mate Jacques Laffite choosing his words very carefully. “He was a very good guy.” The impact was as sudden as it was violent. In the cockpit of his yellow and black Renault Alain Prost, caught between concern for his colleague and the desire for self-preservation, watched in horror as the Ferrari catapulted over his own cockpit. “Pironi’s car went straight on into the air, almost thirty metres up. I prayed I would stop, because I had no brakes,” recalled Prost, who had been tiptoeing around the circuit minding his own business when the Ferrari had ploughed into the back of his car. The events of that day would haunt Alain throughout his career. “Every time I drive on a wet track, I look in my rear view mirror and see the Ferrari of Didier flying.” “All you could see of cars ahead were great balls of spray,” said a shaken Derek Daly later. It had all been a tragic misunderstanding, an accident waiting to happen. Hidden within that ball of spray, Prost’s Renault had materialised out of nowhere like a ghostly spectre. Didier had not stood a chance. Pironi? A cold fish! A calculating, unemotional man they said, determined to do whatever it took to become world champion, even cheat his own team-mate of a race victory. At least that’s how the largely pro-Villeneuve press lead by the French Canadian’s cheerleader Nigel Roebuck had reported events at the San Marino Grand Prix back in April. Not since Judas Iscariot had a man been so vilified. Didier shrugged off the criticism. As far as he was concerned he’d been in a race.  Yet the press, with Roebuck at their helm, were baying for blood. Significantly, in the aftermath of the affair and with huge pressure to cast Didier out, Ferrari management remained equivocal. Villeneuve meanwhile raged and ranted. Il Commendatore - the great Enzo Ferrari himself though ostensibly sympathising with Gilles, pointedly refused to castigate his French team-mate. But the damage had been done. Didier became public enemy number one. Like a tumbling Olympic gymnast, the Ferrari flipped over several times, leaving a trail of mechanical debris in its wake. The car finally came to rest two hundred metres down the road with one final, sickening smash onto its nose cone. The front end disintegrated on impact. It could have been made of paper mache for the protection it afforded the luckless Pironi. “An electric chair,” said Nelson Piquet in a less than subtle reference to the 126C2’s structural frailties. Ferrari didn’t like that. But Nelson had been the first on the scene, leaping out from the cockpit of his Brabham to go to the aid of his stricken colleague. Far from the ice cold machine perpetuated by certain factions of the media, other people would remember Didier as a softly spoken young man of impeccable manners and behaviour. Yes, there was family money and Didier carried with him an almost palpable air of Parisien sophistication and style, but those who knew him well would talk fondly of a shy, sensitive man. His personal life would also provide endless speculation for the gossip columns right until the very end. “Get me out of here! Get me out!” Aghast Nelson Piquet surveyed the carnage before him. “Get me out!” Didier’s shrill cries pierced the gloom. Where to even begin? On removing Didier’s helmet the reigning world champion almost passed out. The Frenchman’s face was unrecognisable, bloodied and contorted with agony. On seeing the state of his legs the Brazilian promptly vomited and had to be escorted away by track marshals. Even the elements themselves seemed indifferent to the Frenchman’s plight, whose life now lay dangling by a thread. The rain intensified, bucketing down from a steely grey sky. Thankfully the emergency services were quickly on the scene. “Don’t let them take my legs off!” screamed Didier to F1 doctor Professor Sid Watkins as he drifted in and out of consciousness. At this stage there was a real risk of amputation. Didier’s legs had both been broken, smashed to pieces and his ankle, his arm was broken and his ankle was as good as crushed. “I give you my word, they won’t touch your legs,” shouted the professor having stabilised the hysterical driver. While sedating Pironi, Watkins quickly surveyed the damage. It didn’t look good. But true to his word, The Prof. ensured the circuit doctors did not carry out their threat of immediate amputation. It would take thirty agonising minutes to free the driver. Didier’s once promising career ended right there and then in the mangled remains of his Ferrari on that hateful August day. As a fledgling F1 driver Didier had spectacularly announced himself as a man with a future following a heroic victory in the 1978 Le Mans 24 hour-race. It had been boys’ own stuff. He’d almost won the race single-handedly when his co-driver - veteran Jean-Pierre Jassaud - suffering from exhaustion and dehydration, had been unable to take over the car for the final stint. Didier, also suffering from exhaustion, had been obliged to soldier on, in effect putting in a double shift while fending off determined attacks from the mighty Porsche team. Exhausted and dehydrated, at race end Pironi had to be lifted from the cockpit of the triumphant Renault Alpine by a couple of gendarmes. There then followed some anxious minutes as the medical team administered oxygen. Didier eventually stumbled onto the podium. Huge crowds lined the Champs Elysees as the victors returned back to Paris. President Giscard D’Estaing was there to greet Pironi and Jassaud with all the pomp and ceremony reserved for war heros. Only a few days later France’s latest sporting hero would have his driving licence suspended for 15 days, for speeding…. His attentions now turned to the F1 world crown. Later Didier would later relive every second of the horrific crash over and over again. He would remember launching over the Renault, remember the pine trees and the foreboding sense of dread. He would remember too how his legs started to “seriously” hurt once in the emergency helicopter en route to hospital in nearby Heidelberg. It just so happened the hospital was Germany’s leading centre on road traffic accidents. It was a small piece of fortune on an otherwise hellish day. The blue and white Ligier car was charging through the field at Brands Hatch, smashing the lap record over and over again. From behind a trademark pair of black sunglasses, the old man snorted his approval. Here was a driver with panache, a driver with swagger and an air of self-assurance that reminded the old man of champions past. Enzo Ferrari was watching the 1980 F1 season as usual on the small portable television in his office. He turned to his assistants: “I want Pironi!” And what Mr Ferrari wanted he invariably got. They were a nightmarish two weeks, a never-ending cycle of anaesthetics, operations and assessments. The Heidelberg medical team performed miracles, painstakingly rebuilding his shattered legs in a series of epic operations that would last for as much as six hours at a time. Eventually Didier would be transferred to Paris under the care of Dr Letournel, the same surgeon who had dealt with the aftermath of the Jabouille and Depaillier accidents, both of whom had suffered serious leg injuries. Over the years another forty operations would follow. There would be long, seemingly endless weeks, months spent lying in his hospital bed. Sometimes he would dream of returning to Grand Prix racing. Enzo Ferrari’s promise that a Ferrari berth would be his upon his return would cheer him up during intense periods of despair. Every day he would wake to see a small trophy on his bedside table, a small token which had been sent by Mr Ferrari himself. “Didier Pironi – the true 1982 World Champion,” read the inscription. One year after his accident he re-appeared, hobbling unsteadily on crutches, 12 months of agony were deeply etched into his face despite his efforts to play down his suffering. The circuit he chose to make his return as an F1 spectator? Hockenheim… The real obstacle to a return to racing, as Didier would explain to the many people who enquired, was a right ankle that could not possibly withstand the rigours of a two hour Grand Prix race. And over time he gradually came to accept that perhaps his Formula One career – at least as a frontrunner - was over. As a teenager he had roared around the southern Paris suburbs risking life and limb on a series of motorbikes and then cars. His brief stint in F1 had provided even greater thrills as well as fame and fortune. Didier looked around for a new way to get his kicks. And then Colibri came into his life. “He was a very talented driver with lots of ambition. I think he felt after the Hockenheim accident power-boating was the next best thing,” said Ligier boss Guy Ligier. Boats had always been a part of Didier’s life and therefore it was perhaps inevitable that his attention would turn to the physically less demanding, though just as thrilling and potentially more dangerous sport of powerboat racing. “Didier loved the atmosphere, the environment, the thrill, the excitement,” remembered friend and former Ferrari team-mate Patrick Tambay. “He loved the danger, the stress, the feeling of being able to control the anxieties that come with high-level competition.” Colibri or ‘Hummingbird’ was a 40 foot beast of a boat. A ground-breaking carbon fibre vessel designed for an assault on the 1987 Offshore World Powerboat Championship. Four cracked ribs from an accident in Spain though would testify to Didier just how dangerous this new sport could be. Nevertheless along with his two man crew – Claude Guenard and Bernard Giroux, Didier took victory in Norway and was genuinely touched to receive a congratulatory message from his old boss Enzo Ferrari. He hadn’t been totally forgotten by F1. Thus he headed towards the next round at The Isle of Wight in the UK brimming with confidence.  There had been occasional forays back into an F1 cockpit. During 1986 with the strength returning to his lower body, Didier had undertaken a serious of ‘secret’ tests for the AGS team and for his old friends at Ligier, where he had got close to Rene Arnoux’s benchmark times. There was also the delicious prospect of a berth at McLaren in 1987 alongside Prost. His fellow countryman though was rumoured not to be keen on the idea… As Didier prepared for the Isle of Wight race on yet another gloomy August weekend, he had in fact been about to finalise a deal for an F1 return in 1988 with the Larousse team run by his old friend ex-Renault chief Gerard Larousse. And with his partner Catherine pregnant with twins thanks to IVF treatment, there was plenty for Didier to look forward to that Summer and beyond. Sunday 23rd August was a dull, lifeless day on the English Channel. Like that fateful day at Hockenheim five years earlier the skies were overcast. And like ’82, Summer had once again deserted. It would sneak guiltily back over the days that followed. Preparing for the race at Poole harbour Bernard Guenard had felt uneasy. Although he couldn’t explain why, the ex-Ligier mechanic didn’t feel right about the race and told friends as much. There was something in the air, something ominous.  But the show had to go on. Two laps into the 178 lap race around the island, Colibri was challenging the Italian boat for the lead. It just so happened that making its way from Southampton to Belfast that afternoon was a 100 metre long oil tanker, the Esso Avon. Fate had decreed that the tanker would be in the English Channel that particular day at that precise hour. Two hundred yards off the Needles Lighthouse while challenging for the lead at a turning point, Colibri initially skated over the wash sent out from the nearby tanker. Didier’s fellow crew members swallowed hard. Colibri was travelling at around 100mph and what is more Didier showed no sign of throttling back as the boat was faced with yet more wash from the tanker.  Witnesses said the boat corkscrewed high into the air, slamming upside down into the icy waters which would have effectively acted like concrete at such high speeds. RAF rescue teams were immediately despatched from the mainland, but in truth nobody held out much hope for the occupants of the boat such had been the violence of the crash. The three men were mercifully killed instantly. Didier’s cause of death was officially recorded as ‘drowning following a serious head injury.’ France wept for a sporting hero. “I join the world in mourning these sportsmen,” said French president Jacques Chirac.  Only days before the tragedy at The Isle of Wight, Catherine had informed Didier that after three years of trying and failure after failure of IVF treatment, he was finally going to become a father. Didier was delighted. He would rest his head upon Catherine’s stomach, and addressing the unborn twins, whisper gently “How are my babies today?” Twin boys would come enter the world just months after their father’s untimely exit. Didier Pironi’s life had been brief yet intense. Somehow it seemed old age had never had the slightest intention of adding him to its ranks. August, the holiday month, a time for enjoyment, relaxation and rejuvenation a time for picnics on beaches and a time for new plans. Not so for Didier, for whom August was surely the month from hell. Memories of Didier Pironi by David Sedgwick - reproduced with permission.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09216http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09216Who's earning what? Driver salaries revealedTue, 12 Aug 2014 16:35:01 GMTWho earned the most in 2014? Well, going by their annual salary, it was a trio of drivers with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen joined by Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel on £17.5m apiece. The latter took a massive £8m boost thanks to a new deal with Red Bull, whilst Raikkonen also saw his salary increase after moving from Lotus to Ferrari. Lewis Hamilton dropped to fourth in the table, with Mercedes paying him an estimated £15.9m annual retainer according to Business Book GP2014. The Britain's former team-mate, Jenson Button, sits fifth with his current team-mate in sixth, taking home almost £10m a year - though a newly signed deal for next year is expected to bring his salary in line with Hamilton's. Further back and both Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado are on £2.4m - despite the latter bringing around £30m in income for Lotus through his PDVSA sponsor. The bargain bin contains some real talent too, just showing it's not all money, money, money in F1, not at least until they've proven their worth. Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo both earn under £1m each. As expected, the Marussia and Caterham boys fill the final few spots, but are joined by Esteban Gutierrez and Daniil Kvyat. 2014 Driver Salaries: #DriverTeam£€$ 01 Fernando Alonso Ferrari £17.5m €22m $29.4m 02 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari £17.5m €22m $29.4m 03 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull £17.5m €22m $29.4m 04 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes £15.9m €20m $26.7m 05 Jenson Button McLaren £12.7m €16m $21.4m 06 Nico Rosberg Mercedes £9.5m €12m $16m 07 Felipe Massa Williams £3.2m €4m $5.3m 08 Nico Hulkenberg Force India £3.2m €4m $5.3m 09 Romain Grosjean Lotus £2.4m €3m $4m 10 Pastor Maldonado Lotus £2.4m €3m $4m 11 Sergio Perez Force India £2.4m €3m $4m 12 Adrian Sutil Sauber £1.6m €2m $2.7m 13 Kevin Magnussen McLaren £794,000 €1m $1.3m 14 Valtteri Bottas Williams £794,000 €1m $1.3m 15 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull £596,000 €750,000 $1m 16 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso £596,000 €750,000 $1m 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia £397,000 €500,000 $668,000 18 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber £320,000 €400,000 $534,000 19 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso £198,000 €250,000 $334,000 20 Max Chilton Marussia £160,000 €200,000 $267,000 21 Marcus Ericsson Caterham £120,000 €150,000 $200,000 22 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham £120,000 €150,000 $200,000 http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09215http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09215Mercedes simply outspent Renault, Ferrari - JalinierTue, 12 Aug 2014 13:36:28 GMTMercedes massively outspent its rival engine manufacturers according to the now departed Renault F1 boss Jean-Michel Jalinier, who reckons that's why they have such an advantage. Jalinier retired from Renault Sport F1 last month, but many believe he's paid the price for Renault's struggles, something he blames on investment. "When Ferrari and Renault are getting similar results, and Mercedes has a significant advantage, the first thing is to look at the level of investment," he told France's Auto Hebdo. "At Renault the same level of investment was maintained, while Mercedes raised the bar very high, investing a lot of money, resources and technology," he explained. "As a result, they were much better prepared than us and the Italians who have operated at the known and practiced levels of investment. "In terms of resources used for this project, it is clear that Ferrari and us invested far less." Jalinier estimates that Mercedes had around double the number of employees working on their project once you removed the 600 or so dedicated to chassis and aerodynamic development. "We are 320 people at Viry, but together with the chassis and the engine there were up to 1,250 at Mercedes. With those resources, it is obvious that you are not confined to one solution but can go with two or even three in parallel during the development phase."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09214http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09214Bottas the 'star of the season' says MallyaTue, 12 Aug 2014 11:35:48 GMTVijay Mallya has crowned Valtteri Bottas the "star of the season" so far, insisting the young Finn has "shocked everyone" by outpacing team-mate Felipe Massa. Bottas is only in his second season and lies fifth in the championship after securing three podiums in the last four races, putting him a distant 55 points ahead of Massa. He is showing "killer instinct and maturity" according to Force India boss Mallya. "There can be no two opinions that Bottas has been the star of the season so far," he told Autosport. "Here you have the great Massa, and here you have a guy who's come out of GP3, and the first thing that comes to your mind is that he's going to be half a second behind. "Not only does he have the killer instinct but also the maturity not to get flustered." Mallya also gave mention to Daniel Ricciardo who he described as "very impressive".http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09213http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09213Vettel struggling with the new regulations - HornerTue, 12 Aug 2014 09:12:44 GMTThere are a number of reasons why Sebastian Vettel is struggling when compared to team-mate and two-time race winner Daniel Ricciardo according to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner. The four-time champion is 43 points behind his less experienced team-mate, a gap Horner says is down to a "combination of several things." "First, when you have fought for the title for five years, it does wear you out a little bit, but that is not the fundamental problem," he told Auto Bild. The German is reportedly struggling to get to grips with the new regulations and how they've changed the feeling of the car, not only the powertrain but the new brake-by-wire system. "The way Vettel brought out those extra tenths from the car in recent years was quite unique," explained Horner. "He is very sensitive to the behaviour of the car, especially when braking." Renault are also partly to blame with their new power unit, but Horner says they're working to bring back "the feeling to the car again," which he hopes will allow Vettel to drive "like a ballerina, dancing on the throttle and the brakes," like he used to prior to 2014. "We also can't forget how many mechanical problems Sebastian has had, many of them just little things that have disrupted his flow," added Horner. "So he has had less time to adapt his driving style."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09212http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09212Wolff praises the current state of Formula 1Mon, 11 Aug 2014 17:30:55 GMTMercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has praised the new-look Formula 1 and believes it's witnessing some of the greatest racing in recent memory. The Austrian highlighted several races as evidence that the sport is producing a spectacle, but he warned that more needs to be done in future. "I watched the final race of the 1984 championship in Portugal recently, and I came into it one third of the way through," he explained to the official F1 website. "These races were much more boring: you couldn't hear the engines on TV because they were also turbos, and the only overtaking was lapping. "I think we have a great product [now], some great races. Will we always have great races? No. But is every football match great? No. You had Bahrain, Montreal, Austria... I think we have a good product." On the whole Wolff is happy, but he says some recent changes might be a step too far, particularly the unpopular double points rule. "In trying to make it more exciting, have we gone into territory we shouldn't have? Maybe - maybe double points are not right. But let us do double points and then judge at the end whether we have done something wrong or not. Is it pure and simple, as F1 should be? No it is not, and I am against it. But maybe once we have gone through it we will like it," he added. "There are a couple of people who always say how good it was in the old times and how we need to go back in the regulations. But you cannot be blind to what is happening in the world. I think F1 is the pinnacle of motor racing; it is the best drivers and the best cars." He's hopeful that a positive reaction will attract new manufacturers. "For us at Mercedes the reason we are here is that there is a clear link and exchange between F1 and the road cars, in both directions. That is not a marketing gag but reality, it happens. Honda has proved the concept is interesting and who knows what discussions are ongoing at the various companies about joining. Looking at what Mercedes have done, maybe we could be seeing some of the others joining."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09211http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09211Hamilton hails Ricciardo 'one of the best drivers'Mon, 11 Aug 2014 08:32:47 GMTLewis Hamilton has called rival Daniel Ricciardo "one of the best" drivers on the grid in light of the Red Bull drivers latest victory. The Australian is just one of three to have won a race in 2014 and the only non-Mercedes driver to have done so thanks to his Canadian and Hungarian triumphs. It's helped to put him third in championship on 131 points, 43 ahead of four-time championship winning team-mate Sebastian Vettel which "says it all" according to Fernando Alonso. Hamilton agrees and believes Ricciardo is now up there with the best. "He's been driving fantastically well from the beginning of the year," Hamilton told the BBC. "He's shown his capability and is going from strength to strength. He's not only one of the nicest guys in the paddock, but also one of the best drivers here, for sure."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09210http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09210Pirelli not against an expanded 20+ race calendarSun, 10 Aug 2014 17:53:30 GMTPirelli would be open to a Formula 1 calendar with more than 20 races according to Paul Hembery, but he warns the venues must be sustainable. With news that Mexico will join the 2015 calendar, then Azerbaijan in 2016 and quite possibly the on/off New Jersey race, the calendar is set to surpass the 20 race limit. Whilst the teams have some concerns, Hembery says these can be overcome and with the benefit of additional exposure, additional races would be welcomed by Pirelli. "It's [the problem] purely logistics," he said. "At the end of the day the more races you have the more value you create – ultimately – because you get more visibility. So we're not against doing more races, it just creates for everybody a practical human problem because people struggle with their natural lives so you might have to double up in some areas and create a duplication of roles, but you live with it. "We're not against doing more races, that's for sure," Crash.net quote him as saying. Hembery is however keen to see new races located where fans are guaranteed in order to avoid scenarios like Korea and India where a lack of support has seen the races dropped after just a few years. "Personally I think if you have a doubt whether the fans will come then you have to go very close to the city centres or use street circuits because then they can't avoid you; you have to watch it because it's going to ruin your drive to work! "We need to look very carefully at how these new events are going to be sustainable going forward because I don't think it benefits anyone coming along for a couple of years and then disappearing. You need to build up some momentum and understand why if maybe the public isn't interested what needs to change to get them interested."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09209http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09209Kvyat hits back at Weber's 'wimp' commentSun, 10 Aug 2014 15:15:28 GMTToro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat has hit back at Willi Weber's criticism of modern day Formula 1 drivers, after he described them as "crying wimps". The Russian driver says such comments are "bulls**t" and despite modern safety standards, it still takes courage to race at more than 340kph. "In my opinion motor racing remains one of the sports in which courage has more relevance," he told Omnicorse. "I do not like to be told that the modern drivers are no longer a knight of risk, that if you compare it with the 80s we are not real men. That is bulls**t. "When you go at 340kph and you miss the braking point, suddenly you are up against the wall even if there is a hundred meters of asphalt run-off!" Whilst there hasn't been a driver death in the sport since Ayrton Senna in 1994 and injuries are rare, Kvyat insists the danger is still apparent and F1 should never be satisfied with safety. "The risk in Formula 1 cannot be erased," he added. "It is right, therefore, that we do everything possible to improve the safety standards of the tracks and the cars."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09208http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09208Starting out with HRT was hugely helpful - RicciardoSun, 10 Aug 2014 14:32:40 GMTDaniel Ricciardo reckons starting at the bottom and working his way to the top has made him a better driver, and recommends more drivers follow a similar path. The Australian began his Formula 1 career with backmarker HRT in 2011 when he was drafted in to replace Narain Karthikeyan at the British GP - that, he claims, allowed him to settle in with minimal pressure. "I think it helps in a lot of ways," Ricciardo is quoted as saying by Autosport. "It helped me get into F1, settle down with all the nerves, not really in a spotlight, so it eased me into the sport a little bit. "It also makes you more grateful for what you have," added the 25-year-old. "When I signed for Toro Rosso I was the happiest man in the world knowing that I could maybe fight for points. "Signing for Red Bull made me more grateful to get the better things so I am sure we will see it with other drivers coming through [this way]." Red Bull backed Renault 3.5 championship contender Carlos Sainz Jr has been in talks with Caterham in the hope of following Ricciardo's path to Toro Rosso and then Red Bull. Ricciardo doesn't reckon it can do any harm if the talent exists. "Jules [Bianchi] is obviously doing really well at Marussia, there is talk [about Sainz]. "It didn't harm me. As a driver you want to be in the best team as soon as possible, but it definitely helped me learn in the right way."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09207http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09207Tech Talk: Williams engine gills and roll-hoop wingSat, 09 Aug 2014 14:57:59 GMTWilliams introduced a couple of notable upgrades at the last two races in Germany and Hungary, which we'll take a brief look at in this article. The top image shows a new slotted shark-fin engine cover aimed at increasing cooling of the power unit. The slots have been seen before in previous seasons, but never as elaborate. This development is in response to the tighter restrictions surrounding gills, louvres and chimneys. With much of these banned, teams are having to find more inventive ways of cooling the car without increasing drag substantially. Williams solution creates a tiny amount of drag as the slots draw heat out of the power unit compartment, rather than relying on air passing through the slots to cool the engine. Another new development - although not new to Formula 1 - is a small roll-hoop winglet which sits just below the T-Cam (see arrows and yellow line).  This type of wing was popular a few years back, but Ferrari have experimented with it on their F14-T this year and it seems Williams have gone down the same path. The wing produces a relatively small amount of downforce itself, but that isn't its main aim, at least not directly. The idea is to create small vortices as the air passes over it and then rolls off the tip. These vortces meet the air passing over the rear-wing upper-flap and decrease the chance of air separation at high-speed which would otherwise reduce the amount of downforce the rear-wing creates.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09206http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09206Gallery: Russia's Sochi Autodrom nears completionSat, 09 Aug 2014 11:56:38 GMTWith the Russian Grand Prix just two months away, organisers at the Sochi Autodrom circuit on the Black Sea's east coast don't have much time to complete the 5.8km track before it comes alive with the sound of hybrid-V6 power units. But as the photos below show, final preparations are well underway. http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09205http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09205Mercedes would still win with a Renault engineSat, 09 Aug 2014 11:05:02 GMTMercedes ability to win races this season isn't purely down to their superior engine, according to Force India's chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer. Whilst recognising the fact the power unit is ahead of both the Ferrari anMercedes ability to win races this season isn't purely down to their superior engine, according to Force India's chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer. d Renault unit's in terms of performance, Szafnauer reckons Mercedes would still be winning races if the chassis were powered by a Renault engine because the team is ahead in other areas. "To win you have to get it all right," he told the official F1 website. "Look at Mercedes - I believe that their car would still be good enough to win even with Renault or Ferrari power. "They have a good aero package, good mechanical package, they understand the tyres, have good drivers and strategy - they're going to win. Remove the powertrain and stick another one in and they’ll still be competitive." Many expected 2014 to be solely based on engine performance, but the Romanian says that hasn't been the case as evidenced by Red Bull's wins and the lack of wins for other Mercedes-powered outfits. "Is it more of an engine formula this year? Maybe a bit more than in the past when the engines were all frozen," he added. "But is it a complete engine formula? No way. We have the same engine as Mercedes, so do Williams and McLaren - and they’re not winning." Despite that, he fully expects rival engine manufacturers to copy the Mercedes design, particularly the split-turbo (see explanation here). "I don't understand the strategic direction of the other power units, but I’m sure that in Formula One everyone looks at what everyone else is doing, and if they believe there is something they've missed, which they now know [they have, it will be copied]… that's just how our industry works."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09204http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09204Tech Talk: Formula 1 telemetry explainedFri, 08 Aug 2014 21:07:25 GMTWhen a driver says "I'm going to study my data and my team-mates to see where we can improve", it doesn't exactly tell us a lot. The world of Formula 1 telemetry is a confusing one to the untrained eye. So with the help of Kimi Raikkonen's data engineer, Giuliano Salve, and some data provided by Ferrari from 2013, we're going to try our best to explain what all those squiggly lines actually mean. The first telemetry graphic shows a single driver's lap, whilst the second has an overlay of their team-mates. The Parameters: Before explaining the comparison graphic (click to enlarge) lets look at what parameters are covered on the sole driver graphic. The first line from the top relates to gears, showing which one is engaged. As you can see on the graphic above, sixth gear is engaged as the driver crosses the start/finish line and then he almost immediately shifts up to seventh. The second shows steering: when it’s stable it means the driver is travelling in a straight line. When the line peaks downwards, the driver is turning right and vice versa. The third line indicates the use of DRS, the rear wing flap that can be opened in qualifying and the race when the car in front is less than one second ahead. As can be seen on the graphic, the track in use features a DRS area on the main straight and another after the first corner on a slight left-hander as shown by the steering line. The fourth line shows use of the throttle pedal: it features a double line as it shows both the input from the driver and that from the electronic control system. In this particular case, it can be seen that both cars start the lap with full throttle because they are on the straight. Then one can see that the power curve from the engine drops and hits the rev limiter. This occurs when an electronic mapping cuts the power, independently of any action from the driver, in order to protect the engine. Complementary Lines: Still looking at the graphic, one can see two lines that are more or less complementary, in that when one goes up the other goes down and vice versa. These relate to speed and braking input. In the second part of the lap one can see some points when the curve of the speed line is not as steep as at others. Now lets go to the lower part of the graphic, where other important information can be found. The serrated line indicates a load cell, a reference point that is useful especially when making comparisons to understand the difference between the trajectories of the two drivers and thus correct any aspects that could be slowing the lap. The black line shows wind direction, which has to be constantly monitored so that the car can be set up according to whether the wind is head on or lateral, while the green line shows a load cell, monitoring if the plank, made of wood and positioned under the car, is touching the ground. The final line relates to KERS, a device which mutated into ERS in 2014, although now it is no longer under the direct control of the driver. With this graphic, one can follow its use and when it is being recharged, thus supplying a further 80 horsepower for a few seconds each lap. The Comparison: In the comparison graphic (click to enlarge), one can see the different driving styles of the two drivers. The blue and the red driver display minimal differences over a lap, producing almost identical graphics, but if one looks deeper into the management of the throttle and brake and look at the speed graph, one can spot interesting differences. Looking at the first part of the speed and brake line, one can see that the red driver is harder on the brakes, but quicker to get back on the throttle, as soon as he’s passed the apex of the corner. On the other hand, the blue driver has a more gentle style, braking slightly earlier but with less force, which results in him scrubbing off less speed under braking. In fact, in the throttle and brake graphic there is an extra line, a comparison of the lap time of both drivers. The engineers continuously compare the efforts of both drivers to try and get the best possible result. It’s all down to thousandths of a second, but that’s how one improves, closing gaps that might even be measured in seconds and help a driver get to the top. Telemetry provided by Ferrari.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09203http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09203Bottas confident Williams form will carry over to '15Fri, 08 Aug 2014 18:19:44 GMTValtteri Bottas is confident Williams' current performance won't drop off next season and the team will be in a position to challenge at the front again. The outfit has been the major surprise of the season. In 2013 the duo of Bottas and Pastor Maldonado scored just five points between them and finished 9th in the championship. They have fared much better in 2014. Bottas has taken three podiums in the last four races to bring their points tally to 135, putting them seven points shy of Ferrari in third. 24-year-old Bottas is certain their current form is no flash in the pan and 2015 will see Williams battling at the front again. "I think so," he said when asked. "It's good for us because we know that the base car is good. It's been good to build from that and just keep getting it better and better. "Next year is not that different – maybe the noses are going to be a bit different but it shouldn't be the key – so we are confident that we can keep this curve in the right direction." Whilst the team's rate of development last year was impressive, only a few components actually delivered an improvement. That's not been the case this year according to the Finn. "I think the difference is last year we kept bringing many more parts than this season, but the difference is this season all the parts we have brought have worked," he explained. "The correlation between the wind tunnel and the track has been much better. There has been some more changes made how the factory works with the wind tunnel and fine-tuning all these things. "It's really working and we've also been more selective with all the parts and maybe the team has looked at the bigger picture of the car and which areas to focus on and really focus on something rather than just on bits here and there and keep bringing them."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09202http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09202Red Bull expect 'damage limitation' in Spa, MonzaFri, 08 Aug 2014 15:44:46 GMTRed Bull aren't expecting to come away from the Belgian and Italian races with a huge points haul according to team principal Christian Horner. Both venues are power-hungry thanks to their long straights and the Mercedes-powered cars are expected to fill much of the top ten. According to Horner, Red Bull might have to wait until round 14 in Singapore until they can taste champagne again. "You never know, it might be wet in Spa and Monza and they might have put a load more corners in," he joked. "But seriously, Singapore has to be the next golden opportunity for us in reality. "I think it will be damage limitation in the next two races because Force India will suddenly reappear, Williams will be quick, McLaren will be quick and obviously Mercedes will be quick," he added. "So we're got to take what we can out of the next two races and then for the flyaways really try and turn things up."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09201http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09201Sauber not blaming engine partner Ferrari for slumpFri, 08 Aug 2014 15:33:42 GMTSauber has faith in engine partner Ferrari despite the unit lacking in power when compared to the superior Mercedes unit, according to team principal Monisha Kaltenborn. The Swiss team is struggling to find its feet in 2014 and has yet to score a point in the opening 11 races. That equates to its worst ever start to a season and Kaltenborn says the power unit is one of the problems holding them back. "It is one of the major factors, but I don't think it is as easy as saying it is somebody else's fault," she told the official F1 website. "We always have to look at ourselves first and, being very honest about it, this car is definitely not one of the better cars that we've built. This has its reasons and we know them." Kaltenborn refuses to put the blame solely on Ferrari though - unlike Red Bull and Renault - and doesn't believe it would be constructive to do so especially when they've been partners for so long. "We have a very long lasting partnership with Ferrari and in all these years we've gone through good and not such good times, but you stick together and get through it. "I am not really aware of the situation between Renault and Red Bull, but ours with Ferrari is a close and very open relationship. We've never done that [point the finger]." The Indian has confidence in Ferrari's ability to turn things round. "I am very sure that if I am unhappy and dissatisfied, then my colleagues at Ferrari have double that amount of frustration, so I don't need to worry about that. The important thing is that they see the road ahead and know what to do, and I have full trust and confidence that we will get out of this slump."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09200http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09200Modern F1 drivers are 'wimps' says WeberFri, 08 Aug 2014 00:06:23 GMTMichael Schumacher's former manager Willi Weber has blamed Formula 1's decline on "wimpy" drivers, Bernie Ecclestone and FIA president Jean Todt. Weber reckons modern F1 drivers complain too much - something which is now visible to fans as team radio is often broadcast, unlike when the German was most actively involved in the sport. "Who wants to see the wimps of today crying on the radio?" he told SportBild. "There are no more characters like Ayrton Senna, Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher were. They would not complain on the radio but give their answer on the track." He's also laid some of the blame on "too old" Ecclestone and Todt, who he believes lacks the power to push through relevant change. "There are many reasons for the decline of the Formula One. First, the fish rots at the head. Bernie Ecclestone is much too old to embrace the age of new media while FIA president Jean Todt lacks the power to enforce. These men think only of their own interests."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09199http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09199Button says racing in F1 is his only interestThu, 07 Aug 2014 19:25:27 GMTJenson Button has once again expressed his desire to remain in Formula 1 after 2014, insisting the sport is his sole interest. The 34-year-old is the most experienced driver on the grid, having competed in 260 grands prix with a mix of teams, and his desire to continue still exists. "Right now, my interest is to race in F1," Button is quoted as saying by Autosport. "You have a tough day and it hurts like hell because you want to be competitive and fighting, but then you have a reasonable qualifying and you are back on track. "You want to race forever. In F1 the emotions are all over the place - it is highs, it is lows." "I have lived my life like that for a long time and I want to continue my life like that." Despite rumours swirling that he might be replaced next season, as well as being the second oldest driver on the grid after Kimi Raikkonen, he says he's still good enough to be in the sport. "I am young and fast and enjoy what I do for a living, and I don't want that to change."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09198http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09198Our drivers must perform to see out 2014 - AlbersThu, 07 Aug 2014 17:08:23 GMTRumours that Kamui Kobayashi or Marcus Ericsson face the chop before the end of the 2014 season have recently done the rounds, but new team principal Christijan Albers says they're both safe as long as they deliver. Japanese driver Kobayashi is believed to be most at threat - even referencing the potential he might be dropped for the latter races in a recent interview. Albers though, speaking to GPUpdate, insists his seat is safe on the grounds he performs. "It's very simple," he said. "As long as the drivers are performing, they will stay in the car [until the end of the season]." One name mentioned as a potential replacement is test driver Robin Frijns, but Albers hinted at the Dutchman requiring more experience before he makes the move to a full-time race seat. "Of course, I have more of a feeling for a Dutch driver," he added. "Let's just say that Robin can still improve in many ways. I think he should focus even better on that. I have not seen him in the car enough to say more about him. We'll see what the future brings."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09197http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09197Parabolica gravel replaced by tarmac run-offThu, 07 Aug 2014 15:08:26 GMTParabolica, a corner which used to catch many drivers out, has been dampened ahead of the Italian Grand Prix with much of the gravel trap replaced by tarmac. It's not unusual to see drivers taking too much speed into the famed corner, only to end up beached in the gravel. That now looks unlikely with the area having been covered in tarmac - at least on the entry. The change was prompted by the World Superbike Series which is looking to return to Monza for the Italian round of the WSBK championship. Many fans have bemoaned the trend of providing large areas of run-off which fail to penalise a driver for a mistake, instead allowing them to rejoin the session having lost just a few tenths - and even in some cases having gained time. This latest move will surely cause some ire amongst the hardcore F1 fanbase. The 2014 Italian GP is set to take place on September 7th.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09196http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09196Schumacher theft suspect found hanged in jailWed, 06 Aug 2014 21:12:20 GMTA man arrested on suspicion of stealing Michael Schumacher's medial records following his skiing accident has been found dead. The unnamed man was a manager at Swiss Air rescue company Rega - which transferred Schumacher to hospital - and is believed to have stolen the files and offered them for sale to several newspapers for £40,000 ($68,000). He was arrested on Tuesday, but was found hanged in his jail cell on Wednesday morning by Swiss police. Schumacher was transferred from a French hospital to a Swiss hospital nearer his home by the helicopter company in June. Prosecutors had been investigating a possible breach of privacy at Rega after they tracked the sale back to a company computer. In a statement, Rega CEO and Chairman Ernst Kohler said: "We are deeply affected by today's announcement by the public prosecutor's office of Zurich Canton, that the Rega employee arrested yesterday on suspicion of violating the rules of professional secrecy presumably committed suicide in his cell last night. "This tragic event saddens us and leaves us lost for words. Our thoughts and most sincere condolences go to the relatives of the deceased and his friends and colleagues." "Rega is in contact with the relatives and is supporting them to the best of its ability. The circumstances of his death are still being investigated by the public prosecutor's office of Zurich Canton."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09195http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09195Ecclestone: 'I was a bit of an idiot to settle case'Wed, 06 Aug 2014 15:53:29 GMTBernie Ecclestone says he was a "bit of an idiot" in agreeing to a $100 million (£59m) payment to settle his bribery court case. The 83-year-old will walk free from the two-year case, but will neither be declared guilty or innocent as he chose to settle the case. However he says the decision to settle isn't an admittance of guilt as the judge hinted he would be acquitted, instead it was a way of ending the trial, stress and aggravation quickly. "In the end what has happened is good and bad - the good is the judge more or less said I was acquitted, and [the prosecution] really didn't have a case," he told the Press Association. "So I was a bit of an idiot to do what I did to settle because it wasn't with the judge, it was with the prosecutors. Anyway, it's done and finished, so it's all right. I'm content, it's all fine. This now allows me to do what I do best, which is running F1." He is happy to turn his attentions back to Formula 1 for now. "The bottom line is it's been three and a half years of aggravation, travelling, meeting lawyers, and God knows what else, so it is good it is out of the way. This trial has been going on for two days a week and it was going to go on until October. When you're trying to run businesses it's not easy trying to resolve things when you're dealing with lawyers." Of the $100 million, $99m will go to the Bavarian state, whilst the remaining $1m will go charity treating terminally-ill children.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09194http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09194Ferrari made some very serious mistakes - CostaWed, 06 Aug 2014 15:30:48 GMTFormer Ferrari designer Aldo Costa, who now works for Mercedes, believes Ferrari are suffering as a result of some poor decision making at the Italian team. Costa was sacked by the team at the end of the 2011 season and despite moving to the now dominant Mercedes, he isn't pleased to see many of his former co-workers struggling. "Let me say that there are a lot of people working in Maranello, for whom I feel affection and it pains me that they are in such a complicated situation," he told journalist Leo Turrini. "It is not good, I left many friends there, should I be happy to see them in such trouble?" Why are Ferrari in trouble? Costa reckons the wrong decisions have been made with regards to facilities and employees - many of which have left the team and followed Costa to Mercedes. "Strategic mistakes were made – I'm talking here about errors of vision – very serious ones. And of course they haven't always taken the best decisions regarding people. "I'll give you an example. In 2008 we in the racing department put in a request to construct a new wind tunnel. We considered it essential to remain competitive. We were told that this was not the case and that there was no need. "In Ferrari all the decisions, on strategy and people, have always been taken by the president, [Luca di] Montezemolo. To be fair, he took them when Ferrari was winning everything and he also took them when Ferrari stopped winning." Ferrari are now trying to correct many of their mistakes and have begun work on a new facility in Maranello, but Costa doesn't believe they'll turn things around any time soon and fully expects the main challenge to come from Red Bull.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09193http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09193Williams eyeing Belgian and Italian GP victoriesTue, 05 Aug 2014 14:33:31 GMTWilliams believe they can challenge Mercedes for victory at both the Belgian and Italian Grands Prix according to head of vehicle dynamics Rob Smedley. Despite claims by technical director Pat Symonds that the FW36 is only the third fastest car behind Mercedes and Red Bull, Smedley reckons the layout of Spa and Monza will suit their car. "It's a possibility," he said when asked if wins were possible. "Both of those tracks will suit our car very well, I would have thought. That's mainly because the power sensitivity at those tracks is very high, so every 1bhp you have is worth more than at other tracks, and the drag sensitivity, especially at Spa, is very high. "We know that our car is strong in both of those areas. Additionally, in somewhere like Spa, with harder compounds, it can sometimes be quite difficult to get the tyres turned on and I think our car can do that, especially when it's a front-end problem. I'm reasonably confident that our car can go well in both of those races, but I've said before that we don't fear anywhere really. "In Hungary people would say: 'Williams with their low-drag configuration is not going to be any good around the hot and twisty Budapest'. And then in qualifying, apart from the Mercedes, we were right there just 0.1s off the Red Bull." At present, only Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo has beaten Mercedes this season.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09192http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09192Redevelopment works begin at Brazil's InterlagosTue, 05 Aug 2014 12:08:54 GMTWork has begun on upgrading the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo, Brazil, as part of an $80 million (£58m) redevelopment programme. The circuit will see a brand new pit and paddock complex constructed at the same site as the current facilities, an improved pit entrance, new grandstands and a complete resurfacing of the track surface. Initial plans had seen the pit complex relocating, but after an in-depth study, officials found it would have changed the flow of the circuit. Therefore preliminary works to the pits will be done prior to the 2014 race later this year, before the existing structure will be knocked down and a new, larger facility built in its place ahead of the 2015 race. Track and pitlane resurfacing has already begun, whilst a new drainage system will also be completed ahead of the November race. The upgrades are part of deal for Interlagos to continue as Brazil's home of Formula 1 until 2020. The city of Sao Paulo is financing the works.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09191http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09191Force India to retain Hulkenberg, Perez for '15Tue, 05 Aug 2014 08:50:51 GMTNico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez can both be assured of a seat for 2015 according to Force India team co-owner Vijay Mallya. The Indian admitted to being very pleased with the duo and despite struggling in Hungary, which has allowed McLaren to close up, the team is enjoying its best season ever as it sits just 11 points shy of its best ever finish. "This has been our best ever start to a season and what is most satisyfing is that every year we have been moving up the grid," he told Motorsport Monday. Mallya is therefore more than happy to retain both its drivers. "They are at home, a good atmosphere, we respect them, we like them. We are very, very happy with both of them. I think they're happy with the team. "I have options on both, at least for 2015, so as I told you, I'm very happy with both of them and I will retain them."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09190http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09190Ecclestone to be cleared after £60m paymentTue, 05 Aug 2014 00:18:35 GMTBernie Ecclestone will avoid any further investigation into whether or not he paid a bribe to German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky in 2005 after agreeing an out-of-court settlement. The 83-year-old billionaire will pay £60 million ($100m) to the state of Bavaria in what is believed to be Germany's largest ever settlement. News that the charges have been dropped was confirmed on Tuesday, ending a two-year trial which wasn't expected to reach a final conclusion until late-September. "It seems that we will be successful in the settlement," Ecclestone's laywer Sven Thomas told the Indepedent. "The amount is not confidential. They are talking about $100m. "It is a settlement without any conviction, the presumption of innocence is still valid. That was a condition under which I negotiated." Thomas then joked about what the Bavarian state should do with the money: "The $100m is for the state of Bavaria. Maybe they will try and build a circuit. I will propose this – that they should build a nice circuit." Had Ecclestone - who has claimed innocence throughout - been found guilty, he could have faced up to ten years in a German jail.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09189http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09189Glock has no interest in returning to F1Mon, 04 Aug 2014 22:21:44 GMTFormer Toyota and Marussia driver Timo Glock holds no desire to return to Formula 1, which he believes has lost its way with the rise of pay drivers. The German left the sport at the end of the 2012 season and opted for a DTM seat with BMW, a decision he says he's happy with as only a small number of F1 teams respect talent over money. "It is pretty clear that in the current situation there are just three or four teams who can choose and pay for their drivers," he told the DPA news agency. "The rest look for how much money the driver can bring. In my eyes, that's not the purpose of the sport. That's why at the moment I don't see a future and don't waste thoughts thinking about it," added Glock. "At the moment I'm having a lot of fun so I would be happy if I could continue for a few more years [in DTM]."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09188http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09188The top 10 drivers of the 2014 season so far...Mon, 04 Aug 2014 18:37:26 GMTOf course we're not actually right now at the mid-point of 2014 F1 season in the purest sense, rather we have 11 rounds of 19 completed. But still, now that we’re into the sport’s summer moratorium it seems an opportune moment to give a personal rating of the drivers thus far in one of those all-the-rage top 10 rankings, seeking to take into account their circumstances as well as the machinery that they had access to. 1: Fernando Alonso  The Ferrari F14 T was a lemon almost from the get-go. Short on downforce, woefully short on power, as well as with a horrid loose rear end which has a knock-on impact of chewing its tyres. It may be generous even to call it fourth or fifth best car out there over the piece so far. So what on earth is Fernando Alonso doing in fourth place in the drivers’ table, with 115 points? That he is represents yet another glowing testament of his personal offering. To think too that some reckoned this year – suddenly with a proper challenge across the garage and without his strict number one status – he would somehow be found out. It can only be said that if 2014 is indeed Alonso laid bare then the solitary reputation shift is his own rising somehow higher than where it was before. Alonso’s stellar 2012 campaign was one that didn’t appear likely ever to be equalled but so far 2014 looks at least as impressive. Perhaps he is in the process of topping it. His place among the very best that this sport has even seen already was assured, but this season he’s hammered in the foundations yet more firmly. Time after time he has hauled his recalcitrant red car as fast as it cares to go (or perhaps even faster), always being right among far more swift-in-a-straight line Merc-powered machines and far better-handling Red Bulls. Usually he beats most of them too. Further, pinpointing races in 2014 where he might have finished higher, taken more points, is near to a completely unrewarding task. And an auxiliary point to this and despite just about always being frighteningly close to the limit – modern F1’s equivalent of the trapeze artist going over the Grand Canyon without a safety harness – there barely has been an error worthy of the name in there either. And Hungary topped the lot with a stunning performance from the magical Spaniard; aggressive in coming through the pack after safety car adversity, and then almost winning thanks to stretching the life of his soft tyres far beyond what anyone thought possible, in a rear-guard action reminiscent of Villeneuve, Jarama and all that. Relentless; complete; tenacious. There are many adjectives associated with Alonso routinely, but perhaps another should be added: unsurprising. He is a driver who just about every time makes the impossible seem possible. A miracle a minimum expectation. Alonso now is the modern F1 standard-bearer, the example to which his rivals must aspire. Most of his contemporaries know as much. 2: Lewis Hamilton At the start of the season Lewis Hamilton appeared all set to descend straight upon the championship like a heat seeking missile. He had a fine car, and every inch in and out of it looked absolutely minded to maximise it; thus taking him in double quick time to his second world title. A fine pole in Melbourne evaporated to nothing almost immediately thanks to technical woes but he then followed it up with four decisive victories wherein he was hardly headed, and in two of them his team mate and sole championship rival Nico Rosberg got nowhere near. Nico looked flummoxed; everyone else mere specks in the rear view mirror. Some even started to speak of a new maturity that would be harnessed to his undoubted innate talent.  Things weren’t quite as easy after that however, thanks in large part to a succession of six difficult (for unrelated reasons) qualifying sessions starting in Monaco, which gave him much to do on race day each time and thus Rosberg was able to stretch clear again in the drivers’ table. And this combined with him getting the lion’s share of unreliability (he’s had four compromising failures to Rosberg’s one) means that at the time of writing Hamilton still has ground to make up. There have been mistakes in there too though – Austria’s and Britain’s qualifying spring to mind – and his emotional reaction to Monaco’s adversity was a little redolent of the bad old days. But so too have there been errors from his team mate and it seems hard to deny that with an even hand dealt from luck, mechanical and otherwise, Hamilton would be topping the points standings, possibly comfortably. But he remains F1 in 2014’s go-to guy and habitual pace setter – no session can be said to be over until Lewis has had his say. His freakish pace and spine-tingling running at the limit often have been a sheer joy; his bare-knuckle rises through the pack in the likes of Austria, Britain and Germany and Hungary even more so. And with all of this it still will be a brave move to bet against him to prevail in the 2014 drivers’ championship. 3: Daniel Ricciardo In Daniel Ricciardo in 2014 we have just our latest reminder that nobody knows anything. Rewind to the latter part of last season and when Ricciardo’s place in a Red Bull seat ahead of an apparently better-qualified Kimi Raikkonen was confirmed, many smelled a rat. Surely Ricciardo’s there as a lackey they said; to follow the haughty Sebastian Vettel at a respectful distance. What do they know. Seb’s been the one following this campaign. We knew from last season that Ricciardo had pace over a single lap, but what else? Well this year thus far has demonstrated that he has just about everything. He’s fast both on a qualifying lap and consistently throughout a race. He has had hardly a single off day. Mistakes have been close to non-existent. He can be quick at vital moments too, as seen in his debut victory when he jumped his team mate with a better in-lap. He is a game and robust participant in wheel-to-wheel battles, and has drawn effusive praise from the very best this year on that front. He acted like he belonged at the top quickly, as seen with the firm way he dealt with his team when being held back by Vettel in Bahrain. He’s quick in the wet also, on show in Melbourne qualifying and the Hungary race. He overtakes like a dream too. In 2014 only Ricciardo not in silver has reached the top step of the podium. And to underline the fact he’s done it twice. Both wins were cut from the same cloth too: all smart restraint to go with his fine speed, before blitzing opponents with dazzling passes in the vital final act, when opponents would be least equipped to react. Even a devil’s advocate conscious search for faults doesn’t give us a great deal. Possibly the closest that can be unearthed is that – a little like his predecessor Mark Webber in that seat – his race launches have often been rather iffy. But he’s not let that hold him back. He also didn’t let the barrow-loads of ill-fortune in the first two races get him down either – and ever since he’s scored everywhere.  And his ever-smiling and friendly demeanour (and with him what you see is what you get) feels exactly what the sport needs on the wider level also. But even with this Karun Chandhok is spot on to say that there is a lot of the smiling assassin about Daniel Ricciardo. 4: Nico Rosberg Both Nico Rosberg and his fans have cause to be disappointed with fourth place in this list. The top four was very competitive and one probably could make a compelling case for putting them in any order. Yet as is the case in F1 more broadly someone has to be placed first and last no matter how close things are. And thus it is with a heavy heart that our championship leader and four-time winner this campaign is placed thus. It’s easy to forget now that this was meant to be a campaign wherein Lewis Hamilton – feet now under the Mercedes table – was really supposed to really show his pace mettle over Rosberg. And while Rosberg by his own admission has had a few cards fall for him in his intra-Merc battle thus far, it’s also been the case that when he’s been presented with open goals he’s almost always dispatched the ball into the back of the net with decisiveness. Only in Hungary did he not take full advantage of an opportunity, when he was messed about by a safety car appearance and from then on was rather subdued. More broadly it’d be harsh also to present Rosberg this season as on a cruise and collect; even up against the freakishly-quick Hamilton there rarely has been much to choose on pure pace, including on tracks such as Montreal and Hungaroring that Lewis usually has to himself. Indeed in Montreal and elsewhere Rosberg was the one ahead. A stat that may surprise also is that only once this year, in Spain, has Hamilton qualified ahead of the two in the dry. But equally if he’s not been nearly as shy of Hamilton on speed as some like to suggest on the flipside he’s also not been quite as metronomic as his defenders like to claim either. In Monaco qualifying, the Canadian and Austrian races and then again in Hungary’s qualifying and race Rosberg left the track after errors, but in each case he got away with it (indeed the first of those rather perversely turned out to be to his benefit, while in Hungary quali he was rescued by a red flag then improved weather). But still Monaco’s qualifying session – whatever Nico might or might not have intended – underlined why he will almost certainly remain a stoic presence in this 2014 fight at the top. As the controversy swirled Rosberg was resolute, everything just bounced off him, displaying an inner steel that not everyone thought was there. He further underlined it with his race in Montreal nursing a severely hobbled car to second place and nearly to a win. Therefore, this year’s is a championship battle in which Nico is not going to go away at all easily. 5: Valtteri Bottas The 2014 F1 campaign has had a lot of the changing of the guard about it, and not just due to the radical regulation changes and related alteration to the cars’ pecking order. It applies to drivers too, and in addition to Daniel Ricciardo’s star rising like a rocket I give you also Valtteri Bottas. We all knew that there was potential, potential that he hinted at when the rare opportunities came along in a difficult Williams last year. But in this 2014 season so far in a much-improved FW36 there cannot be too many out there that still doubt that Bottas is made of anything other than The Right Stuff.  Especially in recent weeks; had the season started in Austria rather than Australia the top four conundrum already outlined likely would have grown to that of a top five.  Bottas’s campaign has had a little of the slow burners about it; in Australia while a finish in sixth (that became fifth) from 15th on the grid looks good on the face of it, it was tempered by him tagging a wall and the subsequent delay cost him a podium appearance at least. But his fruitful opening lap progress plus succession of spellbinding passes were a portent of what awaited later. For a while too Bottas’s efforts were solid rather than spectacular, though his run to fifth in Spain among the Red Bulls was excellent and he was unlucky on occasion too, such as with team orders in Malaysia, being nudged off by Rosberg in China and with mechanical problems in Monaco and Canada. But as mentioned in Austria things really picked up for him, as the Williams improved especially in its tyre handling and aero and Bottas like all top drivers stepped up to the plate. It was the start of three consecutive podium runs, each highly impressive in their own way. In Austria Bottas battled with faster Mercs like he absolutely belonged and at the end was but eight seconds adrift, still the closest anyone has run the Mercs without unusual occurrences this year. In Silverstone he again was brilliant in his first lap and then his subsequent robust progress in coming through to second place, from starting 14th after a quali error that wasn’t his, was again something to behold. Then in Germany he had an excellent run in Rosberg’s wake and was utterly imperturbable as Hamilton challenged late on.  A Finnish colleague likes to tell all that Bottas is just like Mika Hakkinen, except more intelligent. With his understated yet unmistakably steely focus, ability to concentrate on the essentials, as well as his stunning speed and robust abilities wheel-to-wheel we can all see what he means. His first Grand Prix win surely is only a matter of time. His first championship win rapidly is establishing the same status. 6: Nico Hulkenberg For Nico Hulkenberg even with a switch to a new/old team it’s business as usual in 2014. Brilliant business as usual. Brilliant consistency; brilliant pace; brilliant tenacity. Heading into Hungary only he and Alonso had scored everywhere. Returning to Force India for this campaign you could barely see the join as he was immediately extracting as much as anyone could expect from his machine with a series of Q3 qualifying showings and mid top 10 race finishes. About the only bum note in there was that Hungary race itself, wherein first he lost places by running off the track and then slid into the side of his team mate trying to get one of the places back, in a rare misjudgement. That and in Bahrain it was stable mate Sergio Perez that ended Force India’s long podium drought. In Spain and Austria Perez was on top too, as he was in Canada before the Mexican’s late smash, and rear tyre management has on occasion been a problem for the Hulk in races. But perhaps too it underlines the difference between the two Force India pilots; while Perez remains all flashes in the pan Hulkenberg is relentless and one who can be counted on to deliver an 8 out of 10 performance just about every time, and it’s demonstrated by him having more than double of his team mate’s points as things stand. That he’s 9-2 up on Perez in the qualifying head-to-head indicates he lacks nothing for raw pace. And he lacks nothing for a racer’s spirit either, as evidenced with his frenzied battling with the sport’s star names in Malaysia and Canada as well as with a great opportunistic pass of Kevin Magnussen at Monaco’s Portier – not a scene of previous overtakes as far as most of us could remember. For yet another season all scratch their heads as to why a bigger team has yet to snap Hulkenberg up, but perhaps the waiting on this one will be soon over. Surely not even the warped mind set of the F1 team principal can defy such glaring logic forever. 7: Sebastian Vettel How the mighty has fallen. The four-times champion, and one that even his harsher critics had in the top three on driver talent, has in 2014 faced much adversity and no little ignominy. Not least of in the main following a team mate who was expected in advance to give him scant trouble. Seb’s had bad luck undoubtedly in reliability, but still even with that misfortune equalised it’s still likely he’d stack up behind stable mate Daniel Ricciardo (who had plenty of his own in the first two rounds lest we forget) on most measures. Even the former qualifying master has a 4-7 Saturday deficit to the guy across the garage, but it is in races that thing match-up is even more striking, Seb being 2-9 down in that head-to-head. Of course everyone’s had their tuppence worth as to what the problem is, but the passing of the exhaust blown diffuser, which Seb could make dance like no other (combined with Ricciardo being much better than any of us realised) seems the most credible explanation. Within it though he’s kept something like an equilibrium at his sudden adversity – he hasn’t started chucking it off the road nor trashing his team in public (aside from the radio rants that he’s always partaken in). There also is no evidence of his spirit or effort diminishing – his desperate race-day battles with Alonso as well as his refusal even now to concede the title demonstrate that. Despite everything, it’s way too early to talk of busted myths or similar. But still he needs to find some improvement fairly quickly. At least though in the last three rounds before the break Seb’s shown some signs – albeit patchily – of beginning to do himself justice. 8: Jenson Button This year has been a lot like last year for Jenson Button. In an inadequate McLaren an air of vague disappointment has emanated from the Woking management about his performances. But still – again just like last year – he firmly has put his fast young team mate in the shade on hard results, scoring 60 to Kevin Magnussen’s 37, as well as has finished ahead nine times to two. Quite why his bosses – Ron Dennis even going so far as to issue a public shot across the bows before Silverstone – are so underwhelmed isn’t clear to the outsider. Perhaps they have reason to believe that there is more performance in there; perhaps Jenson’s reputation is suffering by association from having to drive a poor car; perhaps Jenson’s approach of all charm and even temper out of the car and smoothhttp://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09187http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09187Williams the third fastest car claims SymondsMon, 04 Aug 2014 18:29:25 GMTWilliams has the third quickest car on the grid according to chief technical officer Pat Symonds who also claims their form isn't track specific. His comments were made after McLaren's Eric Boullier said the FW36 would struggle at certain venues whilst excelling at others. "There is an element of it - always has been, always will be," he said in response to Boullier's comments. "Our objective is to design a car that works equally well on all 19 circuits, but none of us achieve that, not even Mercedes. "But I do think that is a bit of wishful thinking from Eric as well," he told the official F1 website. "Don't get me wrong, I do recognise the differences for us at places like Austria, but I still believe we have the third quickest car, and if we use it and develop it properly we will be third quickest at most circuits. "It is very close this year - no one will say anything other than Mercedes is the best car, in my opinion Red Bull are second, and then you have Ferrari, Force India, Williams and McLaren. That is quite a tight bunch, (but) arguably we have the third-best car at the moment." Symonds doesn't believe the team have made the most of the car's performance at some races, hence their seven-point deficit to Ferrari in the standings which sees them sitting fourth, rather than third - where Symonds believes they should be. "I don't believe up until Austria that we performed or achieved what we should have, for all sorts of reasons," he said. "If we are the third-best team, we ought to finish third in the championship - but in 2005 we [Renault] won the championship with Fernando Alonso despite McLaren having the better car. We were a better team and we won by our racing."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09186http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09186Raikkonen: 'I haven't suddenly lost my speed'Mon, 04 Aug 2014 14:24:42 GMTKimi Raikkonen says he's not lost any of his world championship speed despite failing to match Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso. The Finn has just 27 points to Alonso's 115 and his sixth place finish in Hungary is his best to date. His form and struggles haven't diminished his belief that he still has the speed to race at the front of the field, and insists things just haven't come together yet. "It's been a difficult year but that's life," he said. "It's not fun when you have hard times but it's happened before and that's how it goes. "We try to make things better all the time, make fewer mistakes, and get the car where I want it to be to be fast again. "I know I haven't suddenly lost over the winter a few seconds of laptime." He is confident Ferrari will get on top of the problems which have plagued his season so far. "It's a case of putting things in the right order for me," he added. "Sometimes we have one day, one practice, in some places where we are absolutely fine, but we're still fighting against things a lot and obviously then the results show where we end up. "I have trust in the team but obviously there have to be changes and improvements, But it can only happen when we work as a team."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09185http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09185Melbourne to retain Australian GP until 2020Sun, 03 Aug 2014 18:22:29 GMTThe Australian Grand Prix will remain at Albert Park in Melbourne until 2020 following a year of negotiations to extend the race's contract. There had been threats from the local government not to extend the contract if the hosting fee couldn't be reduced, but after lengthy discussions a deal has been struck between organiser Ron Walker and Bernie Ecclestone. Premier of Victoria Denis Napthine was joined by Minister for Tourism and Major Events Louise Asher to announce the extension during a press conference on Friday. Napthine hopes Daniel Ricciardo's current success with Red Bull will keep Australian's interested in the sport amid complaints from Walker that fans have been turned off by the new noise. "Within this contract we hope to see Australia's own Daniel Ricciardo win the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix and become World Champion. "I congratulate Australian Grand Prix Corporation Chairman Ron Walker for his success as a tough negotiator in getting the best deal for Victoria." The race contributes almost $40 million annually to the city in economic benefits as well as creating between 351 and 411 full-time equivalent jobs according to a statement. "I congratulate Melbourne for the excellent way in which it presents Formula 1 to the world," added Ecclestone.http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09184http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09184Final layer of asphalt applied to Sochi AutodromSat, 02 Aug 2014 09:48:32 GMTThe newest venue to join F1's calendar is nearing completion as the final layer of asphalt was applied this week to the Sochi Autodrom in Russia. 50 workers operating 15 asphalt machines worked round the clock non-stop under the supervision of track architects Tilke GmbH to get to where they are now, with completion just 70 days ahead of the inaugural race. The material has been specially developed for the Sochi Autodrom by Hart Consult International to take into account the local climate which drops to an average of 1ºC in the winter before climbing to an average peak of 30ºC in the summer. The surface is designed to retain its grippy surface for four year, before it will likely need resurfacing. http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09183http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09183Hakkinen not surprised by Bottas/McLaren rumourFri, 01 Aug 2014 15:53:39 GMTMiki Hakkinen isn't surprised by the rumours linking fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas with a McLaren seat for the 2015 season. Hakkinen says the Williams driver is hot property alongside Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, with both springing big surprises this season. Bottas has taken podium finishes in three of the last four races and sits fifth in the championship standings behind the Mercedes pair, Ricciardo and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso. He is therefore gaining attention and it's believed one team, McLaren, has already considered making an approach. With a return to Honda power next year, the team is looking for a powerful driver pairing which many in the paddock don't believe they have in Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen. Former McLaren driver Hakkinen therefore isn't surprised to see Bottas's name being thrown around. "At the moment the two hot names in F1 are Bottas and Ricciardo," he wrote in his Hermes column. "This [speculation] is quite natural," said the two-time champion who has played a role in Bottas's career. "The first thing is that Valtteri is still a young driver who has been in Formula 1 only for a short time. But Valtteri is interesting not only because of his speed. "He can also motivate others in the team and is able to create an atmosphere that is necessary for success," he added. "There is interest," he confiemed, "and that's good. What happens in the future remains to be seen."http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09182http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09182Having difficult years is part of racing - GrosjeanFri, 01 Aug 2014 13:42:41 GMTRomain Grosjean accepts that having tough times in Formula 1 is part of his career and is hopeful that things can change quickly, like they did with Brawn GP. The Frenchman looked to the unlikely success story that was Brawn GP which won the drivers' and constructors' championships in 2009. It had previously been owned by Honda which languished in the lower midfield. "I want to win races in the near future and we are working on that," he said. "If you look at Jenson [Button] in 2008, he was very much struggling with Honda, then it changed to Brawn - same team, different name - and he was world champion. "Having difficult years is part of your career - you have to accept that and not get frustrated." Whilst Brawn's success was a result of huge investment by Honda and an innovative double diffuser, Grosjean knows it's unlikely Lotus can replicate the turnaround, but expects better things from the Enstone team. "I don't know if there are going to be any [innovations] next year, but I'm 99.99 per cent confident the team is going to be better next year." Grosjean currently sits 14th with eight points after just 11 races. At the same stage in 2013, he had amassed 49 points and finished seventh.