Formula 1's Latest Rumours and Talk: Red Bull Evidence, Perez Opens Up and More

Oliver HardenFeatured ColumnistApril 11, 2014

Formula 1's Latest Rumours and Talk: Red Bull Evidence, Perez Opens Up and More

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    With a hearing looming, Red Bull believe they have uncovered new evidence that will allow Daniel Ricciardo to regain the podium position he lost after he was disqualified from the Australian Grand Prix.

    One man whose podium finish is safe and secure is Sergio Perez, and the Mexican has been reflecting on his difficult 2013 season with McLaren and discussing how his strong result in the Bahrain Grand Prix has seen him fall back in love with Formula One.

    The same can be said of Felipe Massa, whose colleague and long-term friend Rob Smedley has described the changes in the Brazilian’s persona and performances since his move to Williams from Ferrari.

    On the subject of performance, Kamui Kobayashi has expressed how Caterham’s planned updates package for the Chinese Grand Prix could see them edge ahead of Marussia, while FIA president Jean Todt has hinted that Formula One’s rulebook needs an update if it is to retain its credibility as a sporting contest.

    Here’s our latest roundup.

Red Bull Uncover New Evidence Ahead of Ricciardo Hearing

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    Ahead of Red Bull’s hearing against Daniel Ricciardo’s disqualification from the Australian Grand Prix next week, it has emerged that new evidence has come to light that could potentially help the team’s case.

    Ricciardo finished second at his home race in Melbourne last month before his car was adjudged to have broken Formula One’s 2014 fuel-flow regulations, which dictate that cars must not exceed the limit of 100kg of fuel per hour. Red Bull suggested that the fuel sensors used by the FIA were unreliable, with the team instead relying on their own data.

    And Autosport’s Jonathan Noble has claimed that Red Bull will enter the FIA’s International Court of Appeal with extra belief, writing:

    The team is confident that it can prove that it was within the maximum fuel allowance—as well as show that there are ongoing problems with the fuel sensors.

    Red Bull has declined to elaborate on what the new evidence is, but it may relate to an increased understanding of why there has been a spate of issues for itself and sister team Toro Rosso in the first three races of the season.

    If the team can prove that there are issues with the fuel sensors that were not clear to the FIA before the start of the season, then it may have a stronger argument.

    Red Bull also claims that a technical directive issued by the FIA in early March outlining when teams would be allowed to base readings on their own data holds no regulatory value.

    It argues that it therefore fully complied with the regulations regarding fuel-flow limits.

    The source also quotes Christian Horner, Red Bull’s team principal, as stating:

    Those points are vital. Every point is vital.

    We have got a very strong case. As more races have progressed, issues have become more evident—and new evidence has come to light, new understandings have come to light.

    So hopefully we can present our case fairly and get our second place back that Daniel deserves from Melbourne.

Sergio Perez Came Close to Leaving F1 Before Force India Opportunity

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    Sergio Perez has admitted that he almost walked away from Formula One after being dropped by McLaren at the end of 2013.

    The Mexican secured his first podium finish since 2012 in last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, which represented a remarkable change in fortune for Perez, who feared his career was over when he was replaced by Kevin Magnussen at McLaren last November.

    The timing of McLaren’s decision, with only a handful of 2014 seats available at that time, left Perez frantically searching for a drive before Force India offered him a reprieve.

    And after returning to the podium, Perez has been reflecting on his difficult 2013 season, telling Autosport’s Jonathan Noble:

    When the McLaren decision came I was really frustrated with how things went. I said to myself it isn't for me. I was not willing to just go to anything.

    I really wanted to find the thing that motivated me to stay in F1 because otherwise I was willing to look for other options.

    But when the Force India came it was a straight forward decision, and we managed to do a deal.

    Perez claimed that his difficult season with McLaren, who failed to reach the podium for the first time since 1980 in 2013, helped him to mature, adding:

    This is Formula 1. It changes your life from one day to another.

    Now that I look back I'm very proud of myself, and now it's time to look forward. We know in Formula 1 you go from hero to zero. And the opposite way as well.

    So now it's time to look forward. I have a very good experience from my time in McLaren and they made me a much better driver.

    But Bahrain was my first weekend of the year without having any issues, and there was some very encouraging pace. So now I am looking forward.

Felipe Massa Benefits from Change of Surroundings

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    Rob Smedley has claimed that Felipe Massa’s move to Williams has reignited the Brazilian’s Formula One career.

    Smedley is arguably the most qualified person to judge Massa, having acted as his race engineer at Ferrari between 2006 and 2013, a partnership that brought 11 wins.

    And Williams’ new head of vehicle performance believes that a change of environment from Ferrari, where Massa played second fiddle to Fernando Alonso for four seasons, has benefitted his state of mind, and therefore his performances.

    He told ESPN F1:

    It's no secret that I know Felipe Massa very, very well. I know him inside-out and I can tell you that he is a very, very good driver. He's been given the freedom of headspace here to do what he's paid to do and he's delivering.

    Without making too many comparisons to the past, which I don't particularly want to do, I think that Felipe now is very relaxed, incredibly experienced and there is a maturity about him and he carries that maturity well. He understands the job that he has to do here, which is not just about driving the car but it's about driving the people as well.

    He can do that. He's a mature guy, he's a sensible guy, but he's able to motivate people well and in the right direction. He's had some very good teachers in that area and I would cite Michael Schumacher as being one of them. Now his time has come, it's his time to do that and he's picked up the baton very well.

Kamui Kobayashi Hopes Upgrades Help Caterham

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    Kamui Kobayashi is adamant that Caterham can regain 10th place in the championship from Marussia at the Chinese Grand Prix.

    Despite neither team being able to break into the midfield as yet, the battle at the back of the grid has proved to be the most exciting since Caterham and Marussia entered the sport as Lotus and Virgin in 2010.

    Kobayashi’s 13th place in the Malaysian Grand Prix had given Caterham the advantage before Max Chilton took back the position for Marussia after he finished 13th in Bahrain.

    And Kobayashi is pinning his hopes on the upgrades that Caterham plan to introduce in Shanghai to put clear daylight between the long-term rivals.

    The Japanese told ESPN F1:

    We obviously want to head back to Europe in a good position so everyone's working flat out to help us do that. We have a couple of new parts coming in China before the bigger package everyone brings to Spain, but we also have to make sure we play to our strengths.

    We have a small advantage in pure pace over our direct rivals which put us in a strong position for most of the Bahrain race, right up until the final stint which ended with a disappointing result. We have to use that performance on Sunday to help us get back to where we want to be, and to build on that at every race.

Double Points Rule Could Be Reconsidered

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    Formula One’s controversial double points rule may be ditched after 2014, according to FIA president Jean Todt.

    Double points will be awarded at the final race of this season in Abu Dhabi, which could have a dramatic effect on the destiny of both the drivers’ and the constructors’ championships. The decision to change the scoring system for a one-off race angered fans, and Todt admits that the sport must listen and take on board the opinions of its customers.

    He was quoted by Jonathan Noble of Autosport as saying:

    To reconsider it we need unanimous agreement, and if we do not get unanimous agreement we cannot change it.

    We had the strategy meeting and I said, 'do you want to reconsider?' The answer was no. Do not ask me who said yes or no. So I said, “okay we will see at the end of the season what is the reaction.”

    Personally I was surprised to get so much emotion for this thing that I do not feel is a huge change in F1.

    But again we need to listen to that and hopefully we will take that into consideration.

    Niki Lauda, the three-time world champion, has echoed fans’ dismay, telling Autosport:

    I think this is a completely wrong decision because it brings into the last race gambling—which nobody wants and nobody cares about.

    There was a time when they were talking about three races [being double points], so thank god it is one.

    I personally think that it is wrong, but this is what we have to face.

    It was a mistake to introduce it, but hopefully next year it will be gone again.

    I am saying this not because I am from Mercedes, but because I am a fan and I am a racing driver.

    If I think in my last race I get a puncture and the other idiot who didn't win anything, blows me off—have we gone mad?