Formula 1's Latest Rumours and Talk: Nico Rosberg, Kevin Magnussen and More
Ahead of the resumption of the Formula One title battle in this weekend's Austrian Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg is confident that his substantial points lead means he has the upper hand over Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.
It was thought that Kevin Magnussen would have the edge over McLaren teammate Jenson Button after his stunning arrival in F1 at Albert Park, Melbourne, in March—but the Danish driver's form has been patchy to say the least since then.
Magnussen, though, has argued that his lack of technical experience is not to blame for his drop in performance.
This week's roundup is dominated by experience, with Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat and Romain Grosjean of Lotus discussing their previous tastes of the Red Bull Ring ahead of race weekend.
Meanwhile, British driver Will Stevens—who is yet to make his grand prix debut—will be offered the chance to gain experience with a valuable opportunity at Silverstone next month.
Nico Rosberg Believes He Has the Edge over Mercedes Teammate Lewis Hamilton
With a 22-point lead over Lewis Hamilton in the drivers' championship ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg believes he now has a psychological advantage over his Mercedes teammate.
Hamilton—after a career-best winning streak of four races—lost the lead of the championship at the Monaco Grand Prix after finishing second to Rosberg.
Rosberg then went on to secure pole position at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Canada—widely regarded as Hamilton's stomping ground—before nursing his car through serious technical problems to finish second only to Daniel Ricciardo in the race as Hamilton retired with the same issue.
And Rosberg, searching for his first world title this year, insists he now has the upper hand over the 2008 world champion.
The German was quoted by Andrew Benson of BBC Sport as stating:
It was really important to bring that (Hamilton's winning) run to an end because psychology is a big part of sports.
If you have those results behind you, like I do now, it gives you that little bit extra, that little bit of an edge, so it does help.
However, Mercedes' recent reliability problems—which began when the Williams of Valtteri Bottas suffered a power unit failure in the latter stages of the Monaco Grand Prix—are a major concern for Rosberg, who added:
With reliability problems like that, it's not good.
We need to be bulletproof.
It's a work in progress. We've been good with reliability, but we have had a few problems now, so we have to keep on going and make sure it's 100 per cent.
Kevin Magnussen Dismisses McLaren Feedback Doubts
McLaren driver Kevin Magnussen has rubbished suggestions that his lack of experience is preventing the team from developing their 2014 car.
Magnussen and teammate Jenson Button recorded a double podium finish in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in March but the rookie has failed to finish any higher than ninth in his subsequent six outings.
McLaren racing director Eric Boullier was recently quoted by ESPN F1 as diagnosing Magnussen with "rookie syndrome", with the Frenchman suggesting that the equal machinery in junior formulae makes it difficult for young drivers to develop a strong understanding of the technicalities of racing cars.
Magnussen, however, has rejected the idea, claiming that although he offers alternative feedback to that provided by Button, the value of his opinion is on a par with the 2009 world champion.
The 21-year-old told Ben Anderson of Autosport:
We are different and we feel different things from the car. This is good because you get different ideas.
I don't feel like I'm holding this team back in the development of the car.
I feel I'm contributing with good feedback and I'm saying what I feel and what I feel is right.
I try not to hold back and be shy, I try to open my mouth. As a young kid coming into Formula One you need to be brave enough to do that, whether it's right or wrong I'll let the team figure out.
The best way to learn is to be open and say what you think.
The engineers understand I have very limited experience so they tell me what they think is right and wrong, but they listen a lot as well, which I'm proud of.
They use my feedback, even though I'm so inexperienced, and that gives me confidence.
Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat Hopes to Perform Well at Red Bull Ring
At only 20 years of age, you would be forgiven for thinking that Toro Rosso rookie Daniil Kvyat has never driven at the home of the Austrian Grand Prix.
Despite being only nine when the last Formula One race in Austria took place, however, the Red Bull Ring ranks among the Russian rookie's favourite circuits.
Kvyat—the youngest points scorer in F1 history—has a strong record at the track in junior formulae and is eager to replicate his previous form around the Spielberg circuit this weekend—as well as reminding people that there are two Red Bull-branded teams on the grid as the energy drinks manufacturer participates in its first home race.
Kvyat told Toro Rosso's official website:
This is one of my favourite circuits. I raced here in Formula Renault Alps and had two wins there in 2012. I had a great weekend and really loved the track. Last year I went back to the Red Bull Ring with Formula Three this time and again I had great memories taking three poles out of three, followed by three second places in the races. It's my kind of track, with heavy braking points and it is quite a technical track. It has some fast and medium speed corners which I really enjoy. Hopefully the STR9 will go well there. The scenery is beautiful, typical Austrian nature!
Despite the attention set to revolve around Red Bull, however, Kvyat has maintained that he will approach the weekend like any other, adding:
It's going to be a big weekend for the Red Bull family, but I will be concentrating on the usual jobs of getting everything sorted and finding the right set-up from first free practice, having the right approach and seeing how it goes. You need to find a good balance there as there are some reasonably long straights. But it's mainly about high speed corners which is where you find most of the lap time.
Lotus Driver Romain Grosjean Keen to Visit Red Bull Ring
Although Daniil Kvyat has experience of the Red Bull Ring, Romain Grosjean is one of a number of drivers who have never driven the Austrian track.
And the Lotus driver has been discussing how drivers prepare for new grands prix on the Formula One calendar, telling the team's official website:
There’s a lot you can do with simulators, watching on board laps from other people and going through data and predictions with your engineers as well as driving the track on the Xbox! That said, nothing beats getting in the car and actually driving it for real. I’ll be pretty excited at the start of FP1 as that’s when I’ll really know what sort of track it is.
You very quickly know what you want from the car and how to put together all the corners which make a circuit that’s new to you. The objective for learning a track and setting up the car is to go as fast as possible so for both it’s all the same goal.
Despite a lack of experience at the Spielberg track, Grosjean is excited about the prospect of driving in the Austrian Grand Prix, adding:
It looks like quite a fun lap with some high speed sections and not too much low speed stuff—which hasn’t suited our car so far this year. The track has a bit of undulation too, which is always fun as a driver. A downhill approach to a corner means you have to drive it quite a bit differently than if it’s an uphill approach and Spielberg has both of those. It should be fun.
Will Stevens to Drive for Caterham at Silverstone Test
Caterham have confirmed that Will Stevens will drive for the team at the Silverstone in-season test next month.
Stevens—currently competing in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series—is a member of the team's young driver program and holds the role of test driver with the backmarkers, helping with the development of Caterham's F1 simulator at the team's Leafield headquarters.
The 22-year-old British driver—who got his first taste of F1 machinery in last year's young driver test at Silverstone—told Caterham's official website:
It'll be great to be back in an F1 car for the first time since the 2013 Silverstone test and with the amount of time I've already spent in the virtual car in the simulator, I can't wait to see how it compares to the real thing. I'm sure we'll have a busy runplan set for the day and my focus will be on doing the best job I can for the team, building on the work I've been doing all year in the sim at Leafield.
The Silverstone test, scheduled to take place in the days following the British Grand Prix, is the third of four in-season tests introduced for 2014 after previous tests in Bahrain and Spain.
The final test of the year will take place after the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November, meaning the two days of running at Silverstone could prove decisive in terms of finishing positions in the constructors' championship.