Thursday, 29 May 2014

No Honda buy in at McLaren

Jenson Button on track.
(McLaren Mercedes)

McLaren issued a statement today that Honda have no intention to buy into the Woking based outfit amid media reports that the Japanese manufacturer was set to buy into the team ahead of their return to Formula One next season as a engine supplier to McLaren. The statement said:

'Contrary to recent media reports, Honda has informed us that it has no intention to buy into McLaren'.

Honda return to Formula One next season for the first time since they sold their 'works' team at the end of the 2008 Formula One season following their decision to pull out of Formula One and although they will not be buying into the team, McLaren will be Honda's only customer for 2015 however the Japanese company have not ruled out the possibility of supplying more then one team in the future.

©Ben Johnston 2014

Plan in motion to improve Ferrari performance

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(Scuderia Ferrari SpA via Twitter)

New Ferrari boss Marco Mattiacci has discovered where he feels the team new to improve in order to help them to get to where they want to be and that is competing with Mercedes and Red Bull and challenging for podiums on a regular basis. Kimi Raikkonen was target to finish on the podium last time out in Monaco, however he hit from behind by the Marussia of Max Chilton which resulted in an unscheduled pit-stop that left the Finn unable to return to the podium.

Mattiacci said:

'In the last six weeks we did a very thorough assessment of which are the opportunities to improve in the short-term and which are the areas that require a medium- to long-term approach to bring Ferrari back to the very highest competitive level, I'm not going to disclose publicly which areas we need to improve, but it's clear that we need to take some action towards improving the working methodology, overall organisation, making the Scuderia faster, not only on the track, but also in terms of decisions and processes.'

Mattiacci went on to say:

'I think we have a lot of assets and good people, but I believe if in the market there are people that can bring a strong added value to the team, we will definitely go for it. There is no entity that can stay the same, we need to improve organisational changes and bringing people from the outside. Everybody is doing this it's not only Ferrari.'

Mattiacci's comments comes amid reports over the course of the Monaco Grand Prix weekend that someone within the Ferrari organization had offered Red Bull chief technical officer Adrian Newey £20 million a year to join the team, however in 'the pen' at the Monaco Grand Prix last weekend Mattiacci categorically denied that he had approached Newey and to the best of his knowledge Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemelo has not been in contact with the Englishman.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Montreal to challenge Red Bull

(Jean Michel Le Meur/ DPPI for Renuault Sport F1)

Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner believes that next weekend's Canadain Grand Prix in Montreal will give the reigning world champions a real indication as to the progress they have made in recent weeks.

In the last two Grand Prix in Barcelona and last weekend in Monaco, Daniel Riccardo has emerged as the main on track challenger to the Mercedes pair of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton with the Australian having picked up to consecutive podium finishes with third place in Spain and Monaco to move into fourth place in driver's championship on 54 point's  just seven behind Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

Despite being classed as a street circuit, Montreal has a number of high speed straights with heavy braking zones and this will play into the hand of Mercedes who have won every Grand Prix so far this season and have been able to stretch their legs at circuits such as Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya and the Shanghai International circuit.

Speaking to, Christian Horner said:

'Montreal is going to be a challenging race for us and it will be interesting to see how we fare there. We were much, much closer, it was the first time we've raced Mercedes this year [in Monaco] and Dan's pace; particularly in the last third of the race he was the quickest car on the track. So I think we take a lot of confidence out of that.'

Horner went on to say:

'But you go from one extreme to the other. [Monaco] is all about handling characteristics and the next event will be predominantly straight-line performance. So it's going to be very interesting to see how we fare against Mercedes-powered teams in Montreal.'

The last two Grand Prix have seen the Milton Keynes based outfit collected 42 point's which is exactly the same number of point's that they scored in in the two previous event's in China and Bahrain.

There have been reports in recent days that the team are on the hunt for a new engine supplier with Volkswagen being linked with a move into Formula One however the German manufacturer has been linked to Formula One before and has had no comment on the latest speculation which is exactly what it is after all the Red Bull/Renault partnership has been the most successful in recent Formula One history added to the fact that their sister team Toro Rosso are also powered by Renault. 

Dr Helmut Marko, Red Bull's motorsport adviser has revealed that the team will make a decision about their future engine supplier following next months Austrian Grand Prix.

©Ben Johnston 2014

Twin pit boxes should be introduced

Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain..Wednesday 14 May 2014..World Copyright: Sam Bloxham/LAT Photographic..ref: Digital Image _SBL1077.JPG
(McLaren Mercedes)

Former F1 driver turned BBC commentator David Coulthard believes the sport should introduce twin pit boxes in the pit-lane to avoid situations like that in Monaco which saw some team's double stacking their cars during the safety car period.

Coulthard who raced in Formula One for Williams, McLaren and Red Bull Racing believes that the sport should have inter team battle's among mechanics aswell as driver's. Writing in his column for the Telegraph Coulthard said:

'This has fallen on deaf ears before, but I think we should have two pit boxes, because otherwise it neutralises the inter-team battle as it benefits the guy in front,'

He concluded by saying:

'If you want to see a true battle of man against man we should get away from this single stop.'

 Formula One  is currently looking for ways to reduce pending in in the sport and if Coulthard's suggestion was to be undertaken by the team's it would increase the expenditure for all team's in the sport as they would be forced into bringing two pit crews to a each Grand Prix which would also contravene the sports own regulations limiting the number of staff allowed per team to travel to each event which is currently 60.

©Ben Johnston 2014

In season testing could be banned in an effort to reduce costs

(© Ben Johnston 2014)

Formula One team's and the FIA are reportedly in discussions to re-introduce a ban on on in-season testing ahead of next season in an effort to cut costs. In 2014, in-season testing was introduced following, the Bahrain, Spanish, British and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The tests take place on the Tuesday and Wednesday following each of the events.

However it is now understood that a number of proposals are being discussed in an attempt to reduce the cost of competing in Formula One for the teams.

There is also the potential for there to be just two pre-season tests next season as it is understood that teams want to test within Europe due to the cost involved in transporting the cars to winter testing. This would mean that there would just be two three day tests at the Jerez circuit in Spain.

McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier has warned Formula One not to make nee jerk rule changes as he believes that introducing so many regulations which the Frenchman believes could in fact drive up the cost of operating in Formula One. It is going to be a particularly important winter for the Woking based outfit as they will make the switch from Mercedes to Honda power for the 2015 season so they will want as many test day's as possible to ensue that they have a seem-less transition from Mercedes to Honda power.

Boullier said:

'We have to be careful. The more change we do to the regulations, the more money we could potentially spend adjusting our business to the new rules," He went on to say:

'We know trying to keep the regulations stable over a few years is the best way to make sure we are saving money.'

The Frenchman concluded by saying:

'At the same time, there are a couple of big discussions about the format of the weekend, the price of the engine, restriction in the wind-tunnel, where we could potentially save more money.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Hamilton told to move on from on Monaco

(Mercedes AMG F1 Team)

Monaco driver steward Derek Warwick has urged Mercedes Lewis Hamilton to move on from what happened at last weekend's Monaco Grand Prix and to concentrate his energy on the next event, the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal next weekend. Warwick was a race steward at the Monaco Grand Prix and was was part of the committee who investigated Nico Rosberg's mistake in qualifying on Saturday however it was decided that Rosberg had no case to answer. Speaking to the Daily Mail, Warwick said:

'I understand that Lewis was upset, Possibly he would have gone faster than Nico on that lap. Arguably the incident cost him the Grand Prix. I don't want to give him advice really - he has won umpteen races and a world championship - but if I were to say anything it would be to man up and concentrate on the next race in Canada.

Warwick, the head of the British Racing Driver's Club went on to say:

'I have been around a long time and seen people try to pull the wool over my eyes. Did I have doubts in my mind? Of course I did. But [Rosberg] gave me the answers I needed. I know there are conspiracy theories but you will not find a more honest driver in grand prix racing than Nico. He said himself that he made a mistake, came in too fast, braked too late and locked up his rear tyres.

When asked about the stewards decision not to take the Rosberg matter further, Warwick said:

'We had all Mercedes's data, including Lewis's data to overlay on Nico's. We had the FIA data. We had onboard shots, overhead shots, circuit shots. We had throttle traces, braking traces, everything we needed to make, hopefully, the right decision. It was not black and white. It took a long time. We wanted to be sure and thorough.'

Hamilton heads to Montreal next weekend, 4 point's behind championship leader and team mate Nico Rosberg. The 2008 world champion has three wins and a third place finish in Canada since his first season in Formula One in 2007 where he took his first ever F1 victory for McLaren.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Honda looking to buy into McLaren?


McLaren and Honda are set to join forces next season when the Japanese car giant returns to Formula One as the Woking based outfit's new engine supplier. The company have signed a long term agreement with McLaren set to be the only Honda powered team in 2015. At the time of the announcement Honda stated that they had no intention to buy into the team. However, that stance would appeared to have changed.

Reports emerged from Japan on Tuesday that Honda are in fact interested in buying into the McLaren team. Any team buy in would have to first be cleared by the three current owners of the McLaren Group, Chairman, Ron Dennis, Mansour Ojjeh and the Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company which is under the ownership of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

If Honda are interested in buying into the team it would be a long term objective for the Japanese manufacturer as their main aim right now is to concentrate on their preparation for their return to Formula One next season. This will start in a matter of weeks when they move into their new purpose built engine facility in Milton Keynes in a matter of weeks.

The facility in Milton Keynes is not a production plant but a preparation facility where the new Honda power unit's will be prepared and sent to McLaren's Technology Centre. 

Honda will also provide McLaren with a travelling team of engineers who will assist the team next season. It is possible that McLaren could test the new Honda power unit at the conclusion of the current season. However this has yet to be confirmed and indeed any such test would have to be approved by the FIA and the teams.

©Ben Johnston 2014

Marussia on target for financial windfall

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(Marussia F1 Team via Twitter)

The Marussia F1 Team are on target to secure a financial boost at the end of the season as the Banbury based outfit could earn as much as $30 million as a result of Jules Bianchi's points finish in Monaco at the weekend. The team finished the 2013 Formula One season in 10th place and are currently in 9th place on two point's and are currently ahead of the Sauber F1 Team who are yet to score a point this season.

When the team finished in 10th place last season they received prize money in the region of $10 million as they finished ahead of the Caterham F1 Team. 

The Ferrari powered team are aiming to challenge the Sauber F1 Team regularly for the rest of the season, their Sporting Director, Graeme Lowdon reveled following the team's performance on Sunday that they had spent £2,000 on upgrades between the Spanish and Monaco Grand Prix. Formula One now heads to to Montreal next week for the Canadian Grand Prix which, despite being a permanent track it has similar characteristics to a street circuit.

Marussia are by far the smallest team on the Formula One grid with a workforce of 197 at the Banbury based outfit. The fact that they are a small outfit doesn't mean that they aren't as professional as the bigger outfit's, in fact this just ads to the determine with the organisation. 

To add to the excitement, the Marussia team are just 6 points behind the Lotus F1 Team who finished the 2013 season in fourth place in the Constructors championship. Lowdon explained:

'We take nothing for granted from that point of view - but it certainly helps. We are just very happy because it is progress. That is the key thing.'

Lowdon concedes that the team do not have a car in the MR-03 to challenge for top ten race finishes on a regular basis. 

© Ben Johnston 2014

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Fernandes confirms Caterham is NOT for sale

(Jean Michel Le Meur DPPI/ For Renault Sport F1)

Caterham owner Tony Fernandes has categorically denied that he intends to sell the Leafield based outfit amid reports on Monday that he was looking for £350 million for both the Caterham F1 Team and the Caterham car company.

In a statement released on the official Caterham F1 team website, Fernandes said:

'The Caterham Group is not for sale. We love what we build and we are always looking for further investment. This is no different to how we started AirAsia. Yes, we are constantly challenging ourselves and making decisions on everything from the structure to projects within the Group. That is normal business. That does not mean we are selling.'

©Ben Johnston 2014

Rosberg in shock but uninjured following car accident

(Mercedes AMG F1 Team)

Monaco Grand Prix winner and Formula One championship leader Nico Rosberg has been involved in a car accident along with German Tour Car Championship driver Pascal Wehrlein. The accident happened while the pair were on a visit to the German National Football team's training camp. Although Rosberg and Wehrlein were uninjured in the accident two pedestrians were injured.

In a statement released by Mercedes Motorsport they said:

'An accident occurred during a visit to the training camp of the German National Football Team: while driving on a closed circuit, DTM driver Pascal Wehrlein injured two people whom he unexpectedly encountered walking on the closed course. 

We cannot offer any statement concerning the severity of the injuries, as both injured parties are currently undergoing medical treatment. Pascal Wehrlein was uninjured in the accident. We deeply regret this accident and send wishes of quick recovery to the injured. We will work in full co-operation with the authorities in determining the exact circumstances of the accident.'

Nico Rosbeg siad the following on his official Twitter page:

'I am shocked by the accident. My thoughts are with the two people who were injured and I wish them a fast recovery.

©Ben Johnston 2014

Vettel hopes major engine upgrade planned for Austria will re-ignite his title challenge

(Jean Michel Le Meur DPPI/ for Renault Sport F1)

Reigning quadruple world championship Sebastian Vettel believes that he chances of retaining his world championship remain on track despite the fact that the German lost ground to Nico Rosberg in the Driver's championship after retiring from the Monaco Grand Prix. Vettel is now 77 points behind Rosberg.

Speaking at a media event in Austria earlier today Vettel said: 

'Mathematically we are right in there, We are looking at the situation race-by-race. Of course it did not go well recently but we are looking forward to the next races. For sure we made progress and this proves we are on the right path. We won't be favourites in the near future, but over a race distance, anything can happen.

"There are always reasons for setbacks, and I do not believe in bad luck. We just have to sort the problems out.'

Vettel's comments come as he saw his team mate Daniel Ricciardo collect his second podium in succession to move ahead of the German in Driver's championship. Speaking about the situation with Renault, Red Bull Racing team boss Christian Horner stated:

'We're very much in Renault's hands, We are making progress, they are making progress and Total on the fuel side is making progress, but really we are now where we should have been in January. There's still a long way to go and Mercedes obviously aren't standing still. But we are only at race six. There's still a long way to go in this championship.'

Horner went on to say:

'We're clearly the second quickest team at the moment and we are nibbling into that gap to Mercedes. It's nothing short of commitment, hard work and clever design that is going to close that gap.'

The Red Bull boss went on to discuss the teams prospects for the next in Montreal, Canada by saying:

'Montreal is going to be a challenging race and it'll be interesting to see how we fare there. Renault are working hard behind the scenes and we were much, much closer [in Monaco] and it was the first time we have raced Mercedes. Dan [Ricciardo]'s pace - particularly in the last third of the race - he was the quickest car on the track. I think we take a lot of confidence out of that, but you are going from one extreme to another, Monaco is all about handling characteristics and the next event is predominantly straight-line performance. It will be interesting to see how we fare against the Mercedes-powered teams in Montreal.'

In Monaco, Dr Helmut Marko, Red Bull's motorsport adviser revealed that a task force has been set up comprising Red Bull Racing, Renault and Toro Rosso to find a solution to the issues that they are having. 

Marko is adamant that a solution can and will be found and that could come at Red Bull's home race in Austria where they are scheduled to receive a major engine upgrade from Renault. 

©Ben Johnston 2014

Mercedes will find it hard to control in house fighting

(McLaren Mercedes)

McLaren Mercedes Racing Director Eric Boullier believes that it is going to be difficult for Mercedes to control their driver's if they pair continue to be the pace-setters this season. Mercedes have won all of the Grand Prix so far this season with Nico Rosberg taken his second win of the season in Monaco at the weekend with Lewis Hamilton finishing runner up.

Speaking to Autosport, Boullier whose team secured a double points finish in Monaco stated:

'It is very early in the season so I don't know what they have been doing. "But it is going to be tough for them going through the rest of the season.

Mercedes are currently on 240 points in the Constructors championship 141 points ahead of Infiniti Red Bull Racing. For their part McLaren had their most productive weekend since the Australian Grand Prix as Jenson Button did a fantastic job to finish the Grand Prix in 6th place having started the race from 12th on the grid while Kevin Magnussen finished the race in 10th place to pick up a point after starting the race in 8th place.

The Dane believes that the Woking based outfit are making progress. Speaking to the official Formula One website, Magnussen who was involved in an incident with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen right at the end of the race said:

'Unfortunately [it was] a disappointing ending to my race [in Monaco]. But the outlook is good, and with 13 races sill to come that in the end is all that matters, We are really going forward. That might be a bit hard to see from the outside because things keep happening that distract us from showing our potential - but there is real progress that we're making.

He went on to say: 

'"My guess is that we should have been fifth or sixth, very likely fifth as I should have managed [Nico] Hulkenberg as he had massive degradation and I was looking after my tyres, so I should have caught him again towards the end of the race," he continued. "And just when I wanted to attack him I had an engine problem and fell behind - and then Kimi came along...

In Montreal last season, McLaren failed to score point's with their then driver Sergio Perez finishing the race in eleventh while Jenson Button finished the race in 12th place. Button has had a good record in Canada winning here in 2010, while Kevin Magnussen has never raced in Montreal before.

©Ben Johnston 2014

Abiteboul doubts Haas interest in Caterham

(Jean Michel Le Meur DPPI/ for Renault Sport F1)

Caterham team principal Cyril Abiteboul believes that Gene Haas won't be interested in purchasing the Leafield based outfit after owner Tony Fernandes announced yesterday that he was putting the company up for sale. Abiteboul believes that the team are not what Haas is looking for. Speaking to Sky Sports online in Monaco he said:

'I think they have a very strong opinion of how they want to do Formula 1. I don't think that we tick their boxes.  He went on to say: 'I think everything is for sale in Formula 1, so every team is looking for sponsors, for investors, so I think it's then just a notion of limits. But I can't really comment on the limitation.

'We've been talking to potential investors since I joined this team to be honest.'.

According to reports, Fernandes is seeking in the region of £350 million for both the Caterham F1 Team operation and Caterham cars. Speaking prior to the start of the season, Fernandes said:

'If we're at the back I don't think I'm going to carry on. Nothing is set in stone but after five years with no points there is a limit to one's patience, money, motivation, etc, so it's an important year.'

Fernandes has of course other interests outside of Formula One with his every expanding AirAsia business along with his football team Queens Park Rangers who, on Saturday were promoted back into England's to tier Barcleys Premier League so he will be wanting to invest in new players as the team will hope to remain in the Premiership for more then one season.

NASCAR team owner Gene Haas has been granted entry into the 2015 Formula One season and it is has been reported that he could be interested in purchasing an existing team although this has not been confirmed as the American team is pushing ahead with the development of their Formula Oe HQ which had it's roof put on the new building recently.

It is going to be a matter of wait and see what happens. 

©Ben Johnston 2014

Sauber left disappointed with their start to the season

(Sauber F1 Team)

The Sauber F1 Team had another race to forget in Monaco at the weekend as they failed to secure points for another Grand Prix. Neither Esteban Gutierrez or Adrian Sutil failed to finish the race as both drivers were involved in separate accidents.

Gutierrez started the race from 16th on the grid while Sutil started the Grand Prix from 17th place. the Swiss based are certainly not where they want to be at this stage of the season. Following the Grand Prix at the weekend they have now slipped behind the Marussia F1 Team, who secured their first ever Formula One point in Monte Carlo with Jules Binachi finishing the race in 9th place.

In the opening race of the season Down Under in Australia Sauber just missed out on scoring points with Adrian Sutil as the German finished the race in eleventh place while Gutierrez finished the event in 12th place.

In Malaysia, Gutierrez suffered a gearbox problem resulting in another retirement while Sutil suffered a power unit failure.

Bahrain saw the Sauber duo suffered another double retirement. In China, Esteban Gutierrez finished the Grand Prix in 16th place, while Adrian Sutil suffered an engine failure. In Spain, the pair finished the race in 16th (Gutierrez) and 17th (Sutil).

Speaking after Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix, Adrian Sutil said:

'It is a pity that my race ended so early. I had quite a good start. In turn 5 one of the other drivers spun, and as I came around the corner many cars were suddenly stopping in front of me. I had front wing damage which forced me to make a pit stop. I went back onto track almost at the back end of the field, but I was able to gain some positions lap by lap. Unfortunately, coming out of the tunnel I made a mistake when braking, lost the rear and crashed into the guardrail. Certainly, I am very disappointed and I also feel sorry for the whole team.'

Adrian Sutil was left disappointed and ruing the mistake he made saying:

'Unfortunately, I could not finish the race. It was probably the most painful mistake in my career. I touched the guardrail in Rascasse on the entry to the corner and spun, that was the end of the race. Today we had a great chance to earn some points. The start was great, as I was able to gain some positions during the first few laps which gave me a good basis for our race strategy. During the race I needed to take care of the tyres, but we also had to push because we had quick cars coming from behind. It is very disappointing. I really want to say sorry to everyone in the team because they all did a great job today.'

The Swiss based outfit's team boss, Monisha Keltenborn added:

'This was a very unlucky way not to finish this race. We definitely had the chance to score points, but we are leaving Monaco empty handed. Adrian and Esteban were setting good lap times and were able to keep up with competition. This shows that the car was absolutely competitive today, and is important for the whole team to know. Of course, it’s very regrettable to miss such good opportunities in this way.'

©Ben Johnston 2014

Lotus not satisfied with Monaco performance

(Jean Michel Le Meur/DPPI for Renault Sport F1)

The Lotus F1 Team's Trackside Operations Director Alan Permane has described as 'very disappointing' The Enstone outfit are hoping that at the next event in Canada they will be able to reach an acceptable level of performance following a difficult start to the 2014 season.

In Monaco, Pastor Maldonado never made the start of the race after stalling on the grid just before the start of the formation lap. The team have confirmed that the Venezuelan suffered a fuel pump failure. It is unclear Gastaldi however, whether the issues came about as a result of the new fuel that the team were provided with by their supplier Total but the team are investigating the cause of the failure.

On the other side of Lotus garage, Romain Grosjean had a better race as although the Frenchman started the race from 14th place on the grid, he went on to finish the Grand Prix in 8th place to collect for point's for team Enstone. This was a significant improvement compared to last year's result as Grosjean failed to finish the event last season.

Following his points finish on Sunday, Romain Grosjean has now scored point's in the last two Grand Prix in a row in Barcelona and again in Monaco. The team are currently 7th in the Constructors championship on 8 point's equal with Toro Rosso. Speaking about the next event Permane said:

'We now look ahead to the next race and will work hard to correct issues we have seen here this weekend to get back up to an acceptable level of performance.

Deputy team principal Frederico Gastaldi confirmed that the team were feeling frustrated:

'We scored some lucky points today but our overall weekend has been disappointing. "It's been very frustrating that Pastor couldn't start the race and we have to identify the cause of this. Romain stayed focused and did a very good job to score the team some valuable points.

He concluded by saying: 'We know though that we still have work to do and Monaco certainly hasn't played to our strengths.'

©Ben Johnston 2014

Massa happy to score more points

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(Williams Martini Racing)

Williams Martini Racing Team's Felipe Massa was surprised but extremely happy to come through the field from 16th on the grid in Monaco to finish the race in 7th place on Sunday to score points for the first time since the Bahrain Grand Prix. 

The Grove based outfit have now continued their run of scoring point's in every Grand Prix of the season so far in 2014. The outfit had hoped to have picked up a podium at this stage of the season however that will come eventually. The team are currently 6th in the Constructors championship, equal on 52 point's with the McLaren team.

McLaren are in fifth place after both of their driver's Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen finished in the points last time out in Monaco. Massa was the only Williams driver to have scored point's in Monaco as Valtteri Bottas retired from the race with a power unit failure.

' I am very happy with seventh after starting 16th on the grid. I took some risks when I changed strategy at the safety car and had to make my tyres last, which they did. I made the most of the opportunities I had with other cars making mistakes or retiring. Many things could have happened so I am pleased they worked out for the best. A tough weekend turned into a positive one.'

Last season, the Canadian Grand Prix was a difficult event for the Williams team as Maldonado retired from the race following an accident while Valtteri Bottas finished the race in 12th place. The team will be hoping to collect more point's net time out in Canada.

©Ben Johnston 2014

Mattiacci enjoying working with Raikkonen

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(Scuderia Ferrari SpA via Twitter)

New Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci has described Kimi Raikkonen as 'a super cool guy' Mattiacci, who took over the team principal role ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix following the departure of Stefano Domenicali last month.  Raikkonen has struggled since his return to Ferrari at the start of the season. He admitted following the Monaco Grand Prix that he is still struggling with the new F14T.

Mattiacci revealed that he has worked in Finland for a number of months so knows how Finn's work. Despite the Iceman's perceived persona in the media, Mattiacci has confirmed that he has found it extremely easy to communicate with the 2007 world champion. Mattiacci said:

'I have worked before in Finland for several months and I know quite well Finnish people," "Kimi is someone that is Finnish but grew up internationally because of Formula One's travel. He is a super-cool guy and I like him very much. He always has open and very frank discussions and he is professional. He is a great person to work with.'

 Formula One heads to North America in just under two week's time for the Canadian Grand Prix where Raikkonen has scored two podium's in Montreal including taking victory at the track for McLaren in 2005.

When asked about communicating with Raikkonen, Mattiacci said:

'We are all different so sometimes we need to tune the level of communication and the way we talk to people in order to be in the same frequency. I don't find any issue in dealing with Kimi, it's the opposite and I have no problem.'

©Ben Johnston 2014

Monday, 26 May 2014

Alonso to wave off LeMans 24 Hour

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(Scuderia Ferrari SpA via Twitter)

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso will be in France on 14th June to wave the green flag for the 82nd edition of the legendary LeMans 24 Hours. 

The Spaniard, who won the Formula One world champion with Renault in 2005 and 2006 told Ferrari's official website:

'I am very happy to have been chosen to start this raceAlonso went on to say: “because it is one of a handful of races that has defined the history of motor sport.” Alonso will be able to see at first hand the Endurance cars, that this year more than ever have many elements in common with Formula 1 cars. “I’m keen to check out the details on this type of car. In Formula 1, we have also entered the hybrid era and I am curious to find out more about the working methods and technology involved in this series.”

Alonso went on to say that he is looking forward to catching up with former Formula One driver Mark Webber, as the pair have a very good relationship.

“For sure, it will be nice to see Mark Webber, who is a great friend of mine. We miss him in Formula 1 and I want to know how he’s getting on in Endurance racing.” 

Alonso is not the only Ferrari employee to have waved the green flag at the legendary race as Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemelo did the same in 2009.

©Ben Johnston 2014

Mercedes won't tolerate dirty tactics

(Mercedes AMG F1 Team)

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has warned his driver's Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg that the Brackley based team will not allow either driver to 'cross the line' following a difficult few week's for the outfit. 

The team celebrated another 1-2 finish, their fifth consecutive of the season. There was an awful lot of tension on the podium following the race with neither Rosberg or Hamilton acknowledging one another following the race. Wolff has stated:

"I can tell you, on the Sunday in Barcelona we had some emotions from the other side (Rosberg), which is understandable," "You are in the car, alone out there, you don't have a perspective of what is going on around you.

The Austrian went on to say:

"Right now I think they are probably exploring how far you can step over the line and what the consequences are. Isn't that normal?
"You have a chance of winning the Championship, and as long as it isn't detrimental to the team spirit, as long as it is not underhand, we will handle the situation in the way we did before.'
Mercedes now plan to sit down with Lewis Hamilton to discuss what happened over the Monaco Grand Prix weekend after the 2008 world champion was unable with the team for not pitting him the lap before the second safety car came. He was also unhappy with what happened in qualifying on Saturday.

Comparisons have been drawn with the inter team rivalry between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost when the pair were team mates at McLaren, however, it has not got to that level at this stage of the season and Mercedes don't believe that it will get that bad.

As a result of their 1-2 finish in Monaco yesterday Mercedes have now extended their lead over Red Bull Racing to 141 point's as the sport take a break from Europe and head to Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix in two week's time.

©Ben Johnston 2014

Caterham on the market

(Florent Gooden DPPI for Renault Sport F1)

Tony Fernandes has apparently put his Caterham Formula One team up for sale after becoming frustrated with the lack of progress at the Leafied based outfit. Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix saw their main rivals, Marussia score their first ever Formula one points as Jules Bianchi took a fantastic 9th place finish to score two valuable points with Marussia Sporting Director Graeme Lowdon revealed that the Banbury based squad had spent £2,000 on upgrades for their car between the Spanish and Monaco Grand Prix.

Caterham were unlucky not to score points themselves as Kamui Kobayashi finished the race in eleventh place. According to business website Bloomberg, the Malaysian business has lost patience with the the team and has placed a price tag of £350 million on both the Caterham F1 operation and the Caterham car company which Fernandes also owns.

Speaking to Sky Sports News at the launch of his teams new car in January, Fernandes said:

'"There comes a point where coming last all the time you don't really want to do that so this is a very pivotal year,"

He entered Formula One with the Lotus name in 2010 when the Marussia and HRT outfit's came into the sport and revealed to Sky Sports News recently that he feels that Football have done a far better job of dividing up finances among the team's then F1 has. He stated:

"There are still the haves and the have-nots, but in Formula 1 there is two or even three-tiers. F1 needs to look at itself harder - the gap between top and bottom in the Premier League is not as steep as in Formula 1 and you go to a football game never knowing who is going to win.'

At the top of Formula One you have the big spenders of Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull Racing and McLaren.

In the midfield you have Williams Martini Racing, Lotus and Force India and Toro Rosso while at the back there is Sauber, Caterham and Marussia although following their point's finish on Sunday the Banbury based outfit are in line for a wind fall from the Commercial rights holders come the end of the season when the prize money is allocated.

Fernandes, who was not in attendance in Monaco at the weekend as he was in Wembley to see QPR being promoted back into the top tier premier league. There has been no time frame set on when the team will be sold by.

©Ben Johnston 2014

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Raikkonen left frustrated following Chilton clash

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(Scuderia Ferrari SpA via Twitter)

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was disappointed with the his Monaco Grand Prix result after the Finn finished the race in 12th place for the Italian team.

Raikkonen made a fantastic start to the Monaco Grand Prix getting past team mate Fernando Alonso off the line and overtaking Red Bull Racing's Daniel Ricciardo heading into turn 1. The Iceman moved into third when reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel slowed due to a problem with the turbo on his RB10.

Raikkonen did a fantastic job and was in third place making his first stop of the race after which he came back out in the points and managed to make his way back up to the podium place behind the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and race leader Nico Rosberg when the safety car was deployed. 

During this second safety car period the Finn was hit by Marussia's Max Chilton which resulted in a puncture for the Finn which dropped him down the field ending any hope of him claiming his first podium of the season. When asked about the incident after the Grand Prix, Raikkonen said:

'Nobody talked about the safety car thing until I asked, It's not very straightforward unfortunately with those things sometimes. Obviously that was the thing that destroyed the race, but clearly they were not very interested. "They asked why I missed the drivers' parade, but that was because I did not feel very good. So they make a big story about that, but not the main things."

Raikkonen went on to say that he is still struggling with the F14T saying:

'Small things went wrong and it made a massive difference. It was unfortunate things but I'm still unhappy with the car, the race was better than qualifying, but we still have a long way to go and to be where we want to be."

The next race sees the F1 circus head across the Atlantic to Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix where last year Raikkonen finished the Grand Prix in 9th place for the Lotus F1 Team and the Finn will be hoping that the new engine that will be in the back of his F14T will help him score more points as he is currently in 12th place in the Driver's standings and is yet to score a podium since his return to Ferrari at the start of this season.
©Ben Johnston 2014

Magical moment for Marussia in Monaco

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(Marussia F1 Team via Twitter)

The Monaco Grand Prix turned out to be a fantastic race for the Marussia F1 Team as the Banbury based outfit scored their first ever point's in Formula One as Jule Bianchi finished the race in 9th place just behind the Lotus F1 Team's Romain Grosjean and just ahead of McLaren's Kevin Magnussen.

Marussia entered Formula One as Virgin Racing in 2010 along with the Hispania Racing Team and the then Lotus (now Caterham F1 Team). In 2012, the Banbury based outfit were bought by the Russian Marussia Motors car company and renamed Marussia F1 Team however now Marussia Motors are no longer involved in the ownership of the Formula One team.

Jules Bianchi did a fantastic job today as the Frenchman started today's race from 21st on the grid and was in 8th place when he was handed a five second penalty for lining up in the wrong grid slot for the race start. The Frenchman was then given a five second post race penalty for serving his five second penalty in the pit-lane during the first safety car period.

The Banbury based squad have now moved up the order in the Constructors championship to 9th place after Bianchi's finish. 

The Frenchman has now moved up to 16th place in Drivers championship just 2 point's behind the Toro Rosso duo of Jean Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat. Speaking after the race, Bianchi said:

“Wow. What a race and what a result for the whole Team. I am just incredibly happy, but first of all I have to pay credit to everyone at the Marussia F1 Team for making this possible. Nobody knows just how much work and determination goes into our races, so today I am thrilled that I have helped them to achieve their long-held target of our first points. To achieve them together makes me very proud. My thanks to everyone here in Monaco, the rest of the Team in Banbury and also to our powertrain partners, Scuderia Ferrari, because together we have all made great progress, particularly since the Barcelona Test. This gave us the confidence to push and we certainly did that here this weekend. It was not an easy race; there were some enjoyable highs along the way, but also a couple of concerning moments too. What matters at the end is that we got there and we can savour the highlights for a long time to come. I would also like to thank the Ferrari Driver Academy, who support me every step of my career.”

Marussia F1 Team boss John Booth was overjoyed by the result and stated:

“Naturally we are overjoyed at today’s result and it is a fantastic reward for all the hard work and determination, not just this year, but over the past four and a bit seasons. My congratulations to the team here in Monaco, back at base in Banbury and our much newer colleagues at Scuderia Ferrari. Our powertrain partnership is young, but we saw the potential right from the start of the relationship and we are now really starting to see the results of a true integration. A lot of this weekend’s clear step stems from the progress we made at the recent Barcelona Test. We were cautiously optimistic about our performance increment, but we really needed to see it translate into a good race here in Monaco before we could feel too confident. We are only a young team, but we have every reason to believe in ourselves and a positive future. Clearly, in today’s race, we benefited from some attrition but, throughout, we were running at a pace that allowed us to stay in position with the cars around us. It is clear that we are now able to race with the back of the midfield pack. The penalty situation was a cause for concern and the way in which we served this with Jules was the product of some unusual circumstances, but we understand and accept the decisions. Thankfully, the second penalty was not the determining factor that it could have been. A tough day for Max; today simply didn’t go his way, but we are pleased for him that his finishing record continues.”

The result means that the team are now guaranteed a cash boost at the end of the season as they have now scored the all important points needed to help with their financial situation. There are now only two teams on the grid, Sauber and Caterham who are yet to score point's this season.

©Ben Johnston 2014 

McLaren bounce back in Monaco

(McLaren Mercedes)

The McLaren team had a great race today at the Monaco Grand Prix as both Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen scored points for the Woking based outfit for the time since the Malaysian Grand Prix as Jenson Button who started the race from 12th place on the grid and went on to finish the race in 6th place just behind Sahara Force India's Nico Hulkenberg. Button said:

'This was a typical Monaco Grand Prix – it was messy out there; people were making mistakes; there were cars all over the place; you had to stay focused; keep up with the pack, and look after the tyres, using them when necessary.
“For the entirety of my final stint, I looked after my tyres and dropped back into the clear air behind Kevin. Then it was just about pacing myself to the end. I couldn’t quite get past Nico [Hulkenberg] at the end – he was struggling with his tyres, but whenever I pushed, I struggled as well, so I couldn’t make it stick.
“In the closing laps, we had a good little battle, but it’s so tough when you’re shoved up behind another car. It’s difficult enough as it is, but when you can’t really see anything because there’s a car in front, it’s even more difficult.
“This wasn’t a bad result for us – I just wish I could have picked off Nico at the end. It’s just a pity that Kevin’s late-race problem meant we couldn’t get more points for both cars at the finish.”
Kevin Magnussen was involved in an incident with Kimi Raikkonen, the Finn was handed a reprimand following the race. However despite the issue Magnussen finished the race in 10th place after starting the race from 8th place on the grid. The Dane is now in 9th place in the driver's championship, ten point's behind team mate Jenson Button.

Speaking after the race, the Dane said:

'Despite a lot of things going against us today – the long hold due to traffic at my pitstop, the unsafe release in front of me in the pitlane, and the engine issue – I can draw a lot from the fact that our car felt really good. That’s a real positive: it might be hard to see from the outside, but things are moving forward within the team.
“There were lots of little issues – Jean-Eric’s team probably didn’t calculate his release properly – it’s never the driver’s fault – it’s just one of those things that happens. And it was a pity I didn’t get to finish the battle with Nico [Hulkenberg]; I’d been saving my tyres in the expectation that Nico would struggle, but then I had a problem with my power-unit, which dropped me back.
“I’m still not really sure what happened with my car at the end of the race. And I didn’t see what happened with Kimi – I went to the inside to block his entry into the hairpin, but he chose to make a move anyway. It’s hard to overtake here, but he tried and it didn’t work. That’s racing.'

McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier was left a little disappointed with the team's performance in the today's race. The Frenchman was also full of praise for the Marussia F1 Team who picked up their first ever Formula One point's.

“Sixth and 10th isn’t where we want to be, but we have to be realistic and acknowledge that this was a good performance – both from the perspective of the team, who worked brilliantly together, and also from both drivers, who drove tenaciously all weekend.
“Finishing 10th will be tough for Kevin to accept – he looked set for at least sixth place until the closing laps, when a problem with his power-unit dropped him down the order in quick succession. Fortunately, we were able to rectify the problem so he could proceed, but the incident with Kimi obviously didn’t help.
“As usual, Jenson showed all his customary flair and experience to relentlessly move up the order from 12th on the grid. He was always well positioned to benefit from the incidents and action ahead of him, and judged the second Safety Car [to recover Adrian Sutil’s damaged car] to perfection, choosing to dive into the pits at exactly the right time.
“Finally, I just want to pass on my congratulations to Jules Bianchi, John Booth, Graeme Lowdon and everybody at the Marussia team for scoring their very first world championship points today. Jules drove fantastically all weekend, and ninth place was a fantastic reward – not only for Jules’ charging drive, but also for the team’s efforts all season to improve and develop their car.
“They’re a fantastic bunch of guys, and they really deserve this today.”

©Ben Johnston 2014