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Formula 1's Latest Rumours and Talk: Daniel Ricciardo, Mercedes Row and More

Oliver HardenFeatured ColumnistJuly 28, 2014

Formula 1's Latest Rumours and Talk: Daniel Ricciardo, Mercedes Row and More

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    Lars Baron/Getty Images

    Daniel Ricciardo has exceeded expectations so far this season, winning two races and cementing his position in a Red Bull team previously built around four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel.

    His latest victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix has seen the Australian's confidence rise through the roof, with Ricciardo aiming to steal the world championship from under the noses of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.

    The chances of that happening are not as remote as you might think, especially if the Mercedes duo continue to take points from one another as they did at the Hungaroring.

    Hamilton's decision to reject the requests of his team to let Rosberg pass, which could have given the German a chance of fighting Ricciardo for victory, was arguably the main talking point of the grand prix.

    Mercedes, through Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff, have admitted that the team were wrong to ask their driver to move aside, with the latter suggesting that a change of strategy is required to prevent the situation from recurring during the second half of the campaign.

    One man who would have liked a change of strategy is Jenson Button, who was denied a positive result after McLaren made the decision to keep the 2009 world champion on wet tyres on a drying track.

    Closing this week's roundup is Christian Horner, who has explained why the imminent departure of Lotus from the Renault family is good news for Red Bull.

Daniel Ricciardo Targeting the Title After Hungarian Grand Prix Win

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    After taking his second win of the season in the Hungarian Grand Prix, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo has set his sights on the 2014 drivers' title.

    The Australian added to his breakthrough victory at last month's Canadian Grand Prix with another triumph at the Hungaroring after passing Ferrari's Fernando Alonso for the lead with three laps left.

    Ricciardo, the only non-Mercedes driver to win a race this year, now sits 71 points behind championship leader Nico Rosberg with eight rounds remaining, including the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which will see the controversial double points come into effect.

    And with 50 points up for grabs for the winner at the Yas Marina circuit, Ricciardo is aiming to remain in contention for the crown.

    Following his victory, Ricciardo was quoted by William Esler of Sky Sports as stating:

    I am aware that today I closed the gap, but there is still a long way to go.

    Everyone is saying how weird this Abu Dhabi points system is, but I might keep it close to me and it might work out—we’ll see.

Niki Lauda Supports Lewis Hamilton's Decision to Ignore Mercedes Requests

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    Andrew Hone/Getty Images

    Niki Lauda believes Lewis Hamilton was correct to question his team's requests to let teammate Nico Rosberg through during the Hungarian Grand Prix.  

    Rosberg made his way to the rear of Hamilton's car on the 46th of 70 laps, with the German required to make a late pit stop to make his three-stop strategy work.

    Hamilton, who with a two-stop strategy was set to continue until the end of the race on medium tyres, was asked by his Mercedes team to put up little resistance to Rosberg's charge.

    The 2008 world champion, however, held position and ultimately finished on the podium, denying Rosberg a podium finish by just half a second.

    And Lauda, the three-time world champion, believes Mercedes' request was a result of the pressure created by the demands of the afternoon, with a pre-race rain shower and ill-timed safety car preventing the team from sealing their 10th win of the campaign.

    Lauda, Mercedes' non-executive chairman, was quoted by Ben Anderson and Jonathan Noble of Autosport as commenting:

    The team was under enormous stress today because the race was a very difficult one, there is no question.

    This race, with the safety car at the beginning and the wet conditions, was a completely different race. So every minute you had to decide something different.

    In this stress the team told Lewis he should let Nico by because he was on softer tyres and has to come in anyway.

    I do understand that Lewis said, 'Why? Why should I stop now in the middle of the circuit to let my team colleague by?' He is fighting for the championship.

    So from my point of view Lewis was right. And why the call came, this happened out of the panic and we had to make up for what we were losing.

Mercedes Hint at Changing Strategy as Hamilton-Rosberg Battle Heats Up

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    Ker Robertson/Getty Images

    In response to Niki Lauda's comments, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has accepted that his team may have to change how they handle the growing tensions between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.

    Following the Hungarian Grand Prix, the Silver Arrows have one hand on the constructors' championship with a 174-point lead over second-placed Red Bull.

    With only eight races remaining, the chances of Mercedes being overhauled are extremely slim, to say the least, with Wolff admitting that the points cushion will allow the team to give Rosberg and Hamilton more freedom in terms of strategy in the second half of the season.

    The Austrian told Autosport's Jonathan Noble:

    At the moment, we have a 170-point advantage in the constructors' championship and maybe it is a moment of loosening it a bit, in agreement with both of them.

    The longer the season goes, the more intense it gets, and the more difficult it is to beat your teammate.

    At the beginning of the season it is easy to say these are the rules and this is how we are going to do it. But now it is clear: these two are fighting for the world championship.

    Maybe we have come to a point where what we had at the beginning of the season doesn't function anymore, because we cannot ask either driver to give up positions or jeopardise their own campaign and championship chances for the benefit of the team.

Jenson Button Frustrated by McLaren Strategy Error

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    Zsolt Czegledi/Associated Press

    Jenson Button has bemoaned the strategic error which cost McLaren the opportunity to record a strong result at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

    Button and teammate Kevin Magnussen were the only drivers to remain on intermediate tyres during the first safety car period, with McLaren expecting rain to return to the Hungaroring.

    Although Button took the lead from eventual winner Daniel Ricciardo at the restart on Lap 14 and went on to set the fastest lap of the race at that stage, the 2009 world champion pitted for dry tyres a lap later, ultimately finishing 10th.

    And the 34-year-old explained his frustration to James Galloway of Sky Sports, stating:

    We obviously use different radar to everyone else because on the radar the team thought it was going to rain.

    I did everything right in the race and that's why it's always tough when in every condition you do everything you can. Fifth at the start of the race, definitely out of position, and I put the car in a good place then we threw it all away.

Red Bull's Christian Horner Looking Forward to Closer Relationship with Renault

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    With the Lotus team set to become a Mercedes customer next season, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is excited about the prospect of his team becoming Renault's prime focus.

    Renault's power unit has undoubtedly been the weakest of 2014, lacking in power and proving to be unreliable in contrast to the packages produced by Mercedes and Ferrari.

    Lotus, formerly the works Renault team, are almost certain to take Mercedes engines for 2015, leaving Renault with just three customer teams: Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Caterham.

    And Horner believes this will go some way to improve the fortunes of a team which has seen their lead driver, Sebastian Vettel, retire from three races with power-related issues this season.

    Horner told the official Formula One website:

    The whole focus will be on Red Bull Racing—and then a customer engine supplied to Toro Rosso [Red Bull's sister team]. Of course that makes a difference. It would be positive for us and it makes sense to Renault as well.

    If you look at Mercedes and Ferrari they focus on one team and then their customers still get a very good product, whereas Renault’s philosophy was different to that and I think it cost them a little it. 

     

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