Formula One's Latest Rumours and Talk: Adrian Newey, Hamilton, Rosberg and More
The 2014 Formula One Spanish Grand Prix is behind us, but the teams aren't leaving the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya just yet.
A two-day test is being held at the circuit, with McLaren protege Stoffel Vandoorne and Caterham's Dutch prospect Robin Frijns among the runners.
Ten of the teams will be focused on catching Mercedes, who recorded their fifth win from five races in Spain. Some are already talking about them winning every race of the season but team boss Toto Wolff thinks it's too early for such speculation.
Elsewhere, Ferrari are being strongly linked with Red Bull's Adrian Newey, and FIA President Jean Todt has criticised cost-saving plans put forward by F1's Strategy Group.
Read on for a full run-down of the week's top stories.
In-Season Test Starts on Tuesday
The second in-season test of the year gets under way on Tuesday at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, which hosted the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday.
All 11 teams will be present. The weather is set to be dry but cool and cloudy on Tuesday, before warming up a little with wall-to-wall sunshine on Wednesday.
Many of the race drivers will be taking part but several teams are fielding their test or reserve drivers. Sebastian Buemi (Red Bull), Charles Pic (Lotus), Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren), Daniel Juncadella (Force India), Giedo van der Garde (Sauber), Susie Wolff (Williams) and Robin Frijns (Caterham) will each do a day's testing.
Frijns and Vandoorne deserve special attention. They are two of the most highly rated youngsters around and both should be in contention for race seats in 2015. The drivers for each team will be (information from crash.net and Ferrari):
|Red Bull||Sebastien Buemi||Sebastian Vettel|
|Mercedes||Lewis Hamilton||Nico Rosberg|
|Ferrari||Kimi Raikkonen||Kimi Raikkonen|
|Lotus||Charles Pic||Pastor Maldonado|
|McLaren||Jenson Button||Stoffel Vandoorne|
|Force India||Nico Hulkenberg||Daniel Juncadella|
|Sauber||Giedo van der Garde||Esteban Gutierrez|
|Toro Rosso||Jean-Eric Vergne||Daniil Kvyat|
|Williams||Felipe Massa||Susie Wolff|
|Marussia||Max Chilton||Jules Bianchi|
|Caterham||Kamui Kobayashi||Robin Frijns|
Each team has to devote one of their eight in-season testing days to doing tyre development work with Pirelli. Sauber and Toro Rosso will do their duty on the first day, with McLaren and Force India taking over on the second.
Jean Todt Dismisses Strategy Group Cost-Cutting Plans
In April, the F1 Strategy Group revealed its somewhat underwhelming plans to cut costs. They included bringing back active suspension, getting rid of tyre warmers and banning FRIC suspension systems.
But speaking at the Spanish Grand Prix, FIA President Jean Todt dismissed the plans. He said (h/t Autosport):
What was proposed? It was a joke.
We know the budgets are between $100 million and $400 million. The proposals that they seem happy with are to reduce budgets by $2 million, which is ridiculous. When we speak about costs we must speak about reducing it by 30-40 per cent. Then we can feel comfortable.
So what can we do? I have some ideas. I gave some input, and I want to see what the teams say. We will meet with all the people and hopefully they are sensible people and they come with some sensible suggestions.
The Strategy Group consists of permanent members Mercedes, McLaren, Red Bull, Ferrari and Williams, with Lotus also involved due to their recent success.
Most of those teams have massive budgets and little interest in making F1 a more level, cheaper playing field, so at the start of May Todt asked the smaller teams to approach him with their own ideas.
For the sake of the sport's future, let's hope they can come up with some good ones.
Adrian Newey Linked to Ferrari Switch
Rumours surfaced over the Spanish Grand Prix weekend, per Sky Sports, that Ferrari had made an approach to Red Bull's chief technical officer, Adrian Newey.
The suggestion was that the Italian team had offered him a blank cheque in a bid to turn around a poor run of form stretching back to 2009.
It's not the first time he has been linked to Ferrari. In 2011 he told The Guardian that he would not be joining them, in part because he and his family are settled in England.
But this time, he wasn't so dismissive. When asked about the rumour by Sky F1, he replied, "I don't know. I need to think about it. We're in the middle of the season and I'm just getting on with it."
The reply is interesting more for what he doesn't say. Newey made no effort to publicly state he was committed to his current team, something which would normally be expected.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner also responded to the speculation, telling Sky F1:
A lot of approaches are made to our staff, but he enjoys the environment at Red Bull and he has always said he would like to finish his career at Red Bull. The team have a great relationship with Adrian.
For sure, the lure of Ferrari is always there, but there's the politics and the pressure that goes with it and the fact is in Italy. Lots of us have been linked with [leaving] Red Bull but so far none of us have gone.
Newey is considered by many to be F1's version of a "win button"—get him in your team and he'll turn your car into a title contender.
But whether he'd work as well in Ferrari's structure as he does within Red Bull remains to be seen.
Toto Wolff Unsure Mercedes Can Win Every Race
A day later, they made it five from five and the betting odds (via Oddschecker) on them achieving the feat tumbled to just 3-1. For comparison, Nico Rosberg is 4-1 for the drivers' championship.
But speaking to Reuters, Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff has dismissed the idea. He said:
It’s just the fifth race. If you look at the performance now, that comes up to your mind and you say 'Well, that never happened and could it happen?'. But then we know racing.
It’s 14 races to go, we haven’t had really difficult conditions in the race itself. We haven’t had safety car periods at the wrong moment, we haven’t had thunderstorms at the wrong time. They didn't touch yet, which is eventually going to happen—or not, hopefully. So it’s much too early. That would be really like losing the plot, thinking about that.
It does indeed seem too early for such talk, because, as Wolff says, any number of issues could befall the team between now and the end of the season. Two poorly timed retirements are certainly possible and if they continue to race closely all year a collision of some form seems inevitable.
We can't write off Red Bull either—with a fully functional Renault power unit, how good will they be?
The closest any team has come to winning every race was McLaren in 1988. Between them, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost won 15 of the season's 16 races, only missing out at the Italian Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton Says Nico Rosberg Challenge as Tough as That from Fernando Alonso
Lewis Hamilton crossed the line to win the Spanish Grand Prix just 0.636 seconds clear of teammate Nico Rosberg. At Bahrain in April, the gap was a little over a second following a titanic duel for the lead.
Now, the new world championship leader has compared his battles with Rosberg to those he had in 2007 with Fernando Alonso.
When asked if past experience was proving useful this year, Hamilton said (h/t ESPN):
Yes, I think so. The most difficult race with a team-mate was with Fernando in 2007, but Nico's race with me in Bahrain was as equally tough as that. Then this race [Spain] was probably second to that.
His mention of a race in 2007 seemingly refers to the United States Grand Prix of that year, which he told The Independent last month was his toughest win.
That year, Hamilton and Alonso fell out spectacularly as they fought for the title. The Spaniard left McLaren after just one year with the team, but the relationship between the two now seems good.
As does the relationship between Hamilton and Rosberg—for now, at least.