Formula One's Latest Rumours and Talk: Mercedes Warns McLaren over Engines

Fraser Masefield@@fmasefieldContributor IFebruary 10, 2014

Formula One's Latest Rumours and Talk: Mercedes Warns McLaren over Engines

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    Toto Wolff
    Toto WolffAndrew Hone/Getty Images

    With little over a week to go before the second pre-season test session of the season in Bahrain, McLaren has been warned by Mercedes that they face being treated as a rival as well as an engine partner this season.

    The warning comes as McLaren begins its last season with its long-standing partner before a switch to Honda power in 2015.

    Amongst today’s other F1 gossip, Bernie Ecclestone is confident of being cleared of his charges of bribery, and Lotus have apologised for a tweet relating to the Winter Olympics.

Kovalainen Lotus Form Hurt Caterham Chances

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    Kovalainen failed to score any points for Lotus
    Kovalainen failed to score any points for LotusTom Pennington/Getty Images

    Heikki Kovalainen’s disappointing drives for Lotus in the final two races of the 2013 Formula One season harmed his chances of a race drive for Caterham.

    Former race winner Kovalainen drove for the Caterham team from 2010-12 and was again test driver last season.

    The Finn was heavily tipped for a drive this season but team boss Tony Fernandes revealed on Autosport that his poor form for Lotus as stand-in for Kimi Raikkonen played a part in the decision.

    Obviously we would lie if that we said it didn't play a part. It was a whole mixture of a lot of things but in any decision there are pros and cons. I am egalitarian, I put it out to various team members - there were those pro Heikki and those pro Kamui and I had to make a choice. We have to move on, we have to be a little bit cold, if we want to be successful.

Lotus Apologises for Sochi Kissing Tweet

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    Gerard Lopez has business interests in Russia
    Gerard Lopez has business interests in RussiaMark Thompson/Getty Images

    The Lotus Formula One team has been forced to apologise for posting a tweet about the Winter Olympics that featured a picture of two men kissing.

    BBC Sport revealed that Lotus posted the tweet on Friday with the caption "all athletes a successful 2014 Olympic Winter Games #Sochi2014".

    We would like to sincerely apologise for an unauthorized message posted on our Twitter account today & will ensure this cannot happen again.

    — Lotus F1 Team (@Lotus_F1Team) February 7, 2014

    The tweet was seen as a response to Russia’s controversial laws banning gay propaganda. But Lotus quickly removed the post, saying that it had been unauthorised. It supposedly upset the management and shareholders of the team with owners Genii Capital as they have business interests in Russia, including new mobile company YotaPhone.

    Not only is Sochi hosting the Winter Olympics, but also the first Russian Grand Prix on October 12.

Ecclestone Confident of Being Cleared

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone says that he expects the bribery charges against him to be dropped before his April trial begins.

    Ecclestone faces charges over bribery and incitement to breach of trust charges related to a $45 million (£27 million) payment to German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky during the sale of Formula One in 2005.

    But when asked by BBC Sport about whether or not the trial would happen, Ecclestone said: "Bet you it doesn't happen...things happen in life and you have to get on with it."

    If convicted, Ecclestone could be sentenced to a prison term between three months and 10 years.

    The trial is scheduled to take place in Munich between April 24 and September 16.

McLaren Warned Their Relationship with Mercedes Will Change

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    Toto Wolff says it is "not an ideal situation"
    Toto Wolff says it is "not an ideal situation"Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    McLaren has been warned by Mercedes that they could be treated as a competitor rather than an engine partner this year ahead of the Woking team’s switch to Honda power in 2015.

    Mercedes is justifiably wary that McLaren does not pass on important technical data to Honda, and Autosport understands that they have taken steps to keep McLaren’s engineers away from the more sensitive engine work.

    Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff told Autosport:

    I think certainly them heading off to one of our competitors is not an ideal situation. But in these early days of the season we have a short-term target which is common - in making the power unit reliable and performing. It is welcome that we are all having an exchange and all sharing the same short term target, and this is to make the power unit last and be quick. How that is going to pan out during the season, that daily management of the relationship, could change obviously.