Formula 1's Latest Rumours and Talk: Paddock News from 2014 Spanish Grand Prix
After a three-week break, Formula One returns this weekend with the 2014 Spanish Grand Prix. All the teams will have a raft of upgrades to try out, and we may see a few changes in the pecking order come the race on Sunday.
Lewis Hamilton has won the last three races. He seems happier than ever, and he made it clear on Thursday that he has no intention of utilising Mercedes' new sports psychologist, Ceri Evans.
But Korean F1 fans might need a little pick-me-up. The Korean Grand Prix's provisional 2015 slot has been taken by a new race planned for Azerbaijan, and it's looking ever more likely the sport will never return to Yeongam.
Elsewhere, Mercedes are taking the boy racer approach to exhaust sound, and Sebastian Vettel has a new chassis.
Or is it an old chassis?
Read on for a full roundup of the weekend's big stories.
Lewis Hamilton Doesn't Want Psychological Assistance
Lewis Hamilton has dismissed the idea of using Mercedes' new sports psychologist to help his title bid.
Ceri Evans, a former New Zealand international footballer, started working with the team at last month's Chinese Grand Prix. Per The Telegraph, he observed the way team personnel behaved in the garage during qualifying and the race and later told team boss Toto Wolff his findings.
But Lewis Hamilton has made it clear he will not be seeking assistance. He told press in Spain (h/t The Guardian):
I've never had it, never needed it and will never have it. So we'll never speak of it again unless I start going crazy. For me, as a driver, it's not something I feel I need because since I was eight years old I've won every championship I've competed in, and all I've needed is me and my family.
He did, however, concede that Evans' input may be of use to the team as a whole going forward.
Hamilton, who has in the past appeared to let his emotions get in the way of his driving, has always been adamant that sports psychology is not for him.
In 2011, when he was (it seemed) at a particularly low point, he told reporters (h/t Reuters), "I would never work with a sports psychologist. I never have and I never will."
Maybe Hamilton needs a Kimi Raikkonen-inspired shirt to make sure the message gets across?
Mercedes to Test Megaphone Exhaust Next Week
In response to complaints that F1 cars have become too quiet, the engine manufacturers have been working on ways to artificially make them louder.
Mercedes have come up with a solution any boy racer would be proud of: a megaphone. It will sit at the end of the exhaust.
Acoustic megaphones are simple things. The first were made in the 17th century and all variants since then have followed the same principle—sound goes in the narrow end and comes out of the wide end at increased volume.
But they also "aim" the sound in the direction they are pointing, so a megaphone-equipped F1 car might only sound louder from the rear.
The team announced on Twitter they will test the system at the two-day test at the Catalunya circuit next week.
Does no one else like the new engine sounds?
Sebastian Vettel Receives a New, Old Chassis
Sebastian Vettel has revealed the "new" chassis he is receiving for the Spanish Grand Prix isn't new at all.
Earlier in the week, Red Bull chief designer Rob Marshall told Formula1.com:
Sebastian will get a new chassis for Barcelona, which was scheduled at the start of the season.
It shouldn't be [beneficial], as the idea is that they are all the same. Drivers don't always want to change them—they can get attached to a particular chassis and when they are on a good run they like to hang on to it for as long as possible.
From our point of view we'd rather give them one or two new chassis during the season that we have been able to check out in the factory using various testing methods. The next one will be for Dan at some time around Silverstone.
But Vettel told the pre-race drivers' press conference in Spain (h/t Sky Sports F1) a different story. He put the switch down to wanting to find a cure for his poor form, saying:
I think we concluded after China—where we were quite a bit behind—to change the chassis. It is not a new chassis, it is an old one that we used for testing during the winter and we have some experience with it so it is more just to check rather than a problem with the other chassis.
It is not unusual to change chassis, normally when you change chassis you change to a new one, but we have decided to go to an old one just to make sure nothing is wrong.
Vettel has been out-qualified three times in four races by teammate Daniel Ricciardo, and he has twice suffered the indignity of being told to move aside to let the Australian through in races.
But unless we've all been horribly deceived, Vettel is the better driver. The team will be hoping he's back to his best sooner rather than later.
Adrian Sutil Reveals His Latest Drastic Weight-Loss Scheme
Adrian Sutil fasted for two days earlier in the season in a desperate attempt to lose weight.
The minimum weight of a 2014 car and driver combined is 691 kilograms, up from 642 kilograms in 2013. However, the new power units weigh more than expected, so some teams are struggling to hit the minimum.
Sutil's Sauber team were among them, and the German has the added disadvantage of being taller—and therefore heavier—than most of his rivals.
He told journalists at the Catalunya circuit (h/t grandprix247) on Thursday, "I was testing it a little bit here and there. Two days, no food, only drink. . .I tried. It was not easy but interesting what the reaction is. I'm eating now again, it's better."
Sutil added he did it to test what sort of punishment his body could take in his quest to keep his weight down as much as possible.
"I could feel there was a limit where I hadn't the power anymore, the strength in my mind—you get stressed quite early—and you don't want that. It's just important to know your body quite well. I tried it but I'm still alive so don't worry too much. It was my own decision, this is most important."
Sauber have a new, lighter version of the C33 ready for the Spanish Grand Prix, and this should help Sutil's cause.
But drivers having to go on ridiculous diets and starving themselves isn't good for the sport.
Introducing a minimum weight for the driver and seat combined would go a long way to levelling the playing field for taller drivers.
South Korea Gone for Good?
Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed a grand prix in Azerbaijan will take place in 2015. The news comes a week after Azeri Minister of Youth and Sports announced to insidethegames.biz that the race would happen.
But the sport is unlikely to return to South Korea any time in the foreseeable future.
Speaking to The Independent's Christian Sylt, Ecclestone said, "Baku has been signed. It will start in 2015 and will replace Korea."
He added, referring to the organisers of the Korean race, "They did a good job with the track but what they forgot to do was build all the things they wanted to build."
The Yeongam circuit was supposed to be the centrepiece of a wider regeneration project for the southern Korean province of South Jeolla.
A whole city was supposed to spring up around the track, but the global recession and the fact the circuit was built in the real world, not a local politician's fantasy land, put paid to that. It still lies in the middle of undeveloped farmland with only an ugly Hyundai shipbuilding plant for company.
The new race in Azerbaijan will take place around the streets of the capital, Baku. The route is yet to be announced.