Formula 1's Latest Rumours and Talk: Mercedes Exhausted and More

Oliver HardenFeatured ColumnistMay 16, 2014

Formula 1's Latest Rumours and Talk: Mercedes Exhausted and More

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    Paul Gilham/Getty Images

    Formula One is all about noise, whether it occurs on the track or in an office.

    In 2014 thus far, most of the sound has been produced in the latter, with the suits desperate to regain the spectacle that was lost when the drone of the new power units replaced the screech of the V8 engines.

    Mercedes thought they had come up with a solution earlier this week, but were proved completely and utterly wrong with what was their first mistake of the season.

    The world champions in waiting, however, have made steps in performance—the thing that really matters—which they believe will give Nico Rosberg a chance to step out of the shadow of Lewis Hamilton in Monaco next week.

    One man who will be pleased with the lack of noise this year is Pirelli's Paul Hembery, who no longer has to answer to disgruntled drivers.

    You suspect the ever-jolly Daniel Ricciardo was never one to complain to Hembery, and the news that he will remain at Red Bull beyond 2014 will only widen the seemingly permanent smile on the Australian's face.   

    Ending this week's roundup is Derek Warwick, the BRDC president, who will oversee Silverstone's 50th anniversary as a grand prix venue in July. 

Mercedes Megaphone Exhaust Unlikely to Return

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    Mercedes' trial of a new exhaust system was a major talking point ahead of this week's in-season test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

    The championship leaders added the device to their W05 car for Nico Rosberg to sample on Wednesday with the hope of silencing the critics of the quiet sound produced by the new-for-2014 turbocharged V6 power units.

    As you can see here, however, the exhaust failed miserably—making little difference to the volume of the new engines and winning few awards for good looks in the process.

    Formula One teams, as the noses of the 2014-spec cars suggest, care little for aesthetics as long as their machines are fast, so Rosberg's admission to AUTOSPORT that the exhaust made no difference in performance to the W05 should ensure that the device is instantly consigned to history. 

    And quite right too—nobody wants to see that thing spoil the glamour of next weekend's Monaco Grand Prix.

Nico Rosberg Starts to Make Progress with Brake Test

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    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    Despite their failure with the megaphone exhaust, Mercedes have made progress with Nico Rosberg's comfort in terms of braking and starts ahead of next weekend's Monaco Grand Prix.

    Due to the tight and twisty nature of the Monte Carlo circuit, the grand prix start is arguably more important than at any other event on the calendar, with overtaking opportunities virtually non-existent.

    Rosberg experienced a poor start from second on the grid in last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, which forced him to fend off the threat of Valtteri Bottas rather than challenge team-mate Lewis Hamilton for the lead.

    But the German, following this week's test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, believes he will approach the Monaco weekend with renewed confidence.

    He told Jonathan Noble of AUTOSPORT:

    I had a productive day of testing in Barcelona where we made some good progress with braking and starts: two areas that I feel are costing me time at the moment.

    Hopefully that will give me the extra edge next weekend. It should be an exciting weekend and I can't wait to get started.

    Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes' motorsport activities, added:

    We have a problem on Nico's car. It seems to be related to the clutch. That is a special project of ours.

    We expected some improvements for Barcelona which didn't kick in as expected. We just need to sort it out for Monaco because it's quite crucial there.

Pirelli Pleased with Start to Season

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    With teams and drivers having had time to reflect on their starts to the 2014 season, it is easy forget that Pirelli, F1's tyre supplier, have their own performance expectations too.

    And Paul Hembery, the Italian manufacturer's motorsport director, has declared himself content with their start to the season.

    With Formula One experiencing major regulation changes this season, Pirelli took a conservative approach with their rubber to provide teams with fewer headaches. In an interview with the official F1 website, Hembery has spoken of his pleasure at being out of the spotlight after a difficult 2013 season.

    He said: 

    Some people always try to complain of course, but every year in Formula One is different and every year there is another "theme" that carries through. Last year we were that theme, but this season so far we’ve had a really positive start. Coming into a season with very new cars—which of course has an impact on the tyres—we were very fortunate to test pre-season in locations which were able to give us strong information very early in the year on how the cars were working with the tyres—and that was a substantial step forward from the sports’ point of view.

    In terms of the slick tyres, we have seen a good performance considering this very substantial change. Maybe sometimes we will see during the season—as the cars improve—that probably some of our choices are a bit conservative, because as they reduce the amount of wheel spin and the amount of sliding, that means that there is less problem from the tyre overheating—and maybe we have to review our choices for the season going forward once we understand the effects of the rate of development of the cars.

Red Bull: Daniel Ricciardo Going Nowhere

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    Andrew Hone/Getty Images

    The silly season began over the Spanish Grand Prix weekend, with reports that Adrian Newey could leave Red Bull to join Ferrari.

    One man who won't be departing the four-time world champions, however, is Daniel Ricciardo, whose three-year contract is in no danger of being shredded any time soon.

    The Australian has had the upper hand over Sebastian Vettel so far this season and claimed his first F1 podium at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

    And Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has paid tribute to Ricciardo's performances as well as his role in creating a positive atmosphere within the garage.

    He told AUTOSPORT's Jonathan Noble:

    We have always believed in stability and continuity. Daniel is on a long-term contract with the team and it will be highly unlikely he will be anywhere else next year—unless of course Ferrari are chasing him as well.

    He has done a great job this year and he is so calm in the car. He continues to impress us with his speed and his approach.

    He is enjoying what he is doing, and you never see him not smiling. It is a pleasure to have him in the team, and the two guys are working extremely well together.

    I cannot speak highly enough of what Daniel has done in the first five races.

    (Managing the relationship between drivers) is a walk in the park compared to previous years. But that is part of the challenge of being a team boss.

Silverstone Prepares for 50th Anniversary

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    Paul Gilham/Getty Images

    Ahead of its 50th Formula One event at this year's British Grand Prix, British Racing Drivers' Club chairman Derek Warwick has paid tribute to Silverstone's iconic stature in motorsport.

    The July race will see the Northampton circuit become the third venue to host a half-century of races after Monaco and Monza, with car parades and a free fans' pit lane walkabout planned for the race weekend.

    Silverstone currently has a deal to host the British Grand Prix until 2027, and Warwick believes its new lease of life reflects the track's timelessness

    He told Lawrence Barretto of BBC Sport:

    Silverstone is the home of motor racing.

    The 50th anniversary proves that through all the different eras, we have kept up with the times.