Formula 1's Latest Rumours and Talk: Testing Times, Hamilton-Rosberg and More

Oliver Harden@@OllieHardenFeatured ColumnistMay 30, 2014

Formula 1's Latest Rumours and Talk: Testing Times, Hamilton-Rosberg and More

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    Formula One's testing schedule is set to be overhauled from next season, with a return of the ban on in-season testing and the loss of one of the three pre-season tests.

    Those steps, as well as a desire for all non-race weekend sessions to be held in Europe, are just some of the methods in contention as the sport looks to control costs.

    After a dramatic, tense Monaco Grand Prix weekend, you would expect that the relationship between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton is close to being out of control—but their boss at Mercedes remains relaxed over their head-to-head fight for the 2014 title.

    Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen were hoping to be part of that battle at the beginning of the year, but Ferrari's failure to produce a competent car has deflated any wishes for a tense inter-team tussle, with Alonso outperforming his teammate by a significant margin thus far.

    Having worked with both men, this has come as little surprise to Felipe Massa, who has also offered some advice to Robert Kubica, who is continuing his rehabilitation from injury in rallying.

    Closing this week's roundup is Kevin Magnussen, who has received a vote of confidence from one of his McLaren bosses despite enduring a patchy handful of races since his stunning debut in Australia.

F1 Testing Schedule Set to Change

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    Despite the apparent success of post-race test sessions in 2014, Formula One teams are considering a return of the ban on in-season testing.

    Two-day tests have already taken place following the Bahrain and Spanish grands prix so far this season, with more planned to occur in the days after the British Grand Prix in July and the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November.

    In-season testing was previously banned at the beginning of the 2009 season, although exceptions have been made since then with annual Young Driver Tests and an official test at the Mugello circuit in May 2012.

    But it has emerged that in-season testing will be sacrificed as teams look for methods to cut costs, as Autosport's Jonathan Noble wrote:

    Although some teams have welcomed the value of the (in-season) tests, not all of them are convinced that they are justified because of increased expenditure and the extra stress it puts on personnel.

    As well as a potential ban on in-season testing, there are also moves to cut back on pre-season running next year, and it is likely there will be only two tests now before the first race of the year.

    There also appears to be little desire to run outside of Europe, because of the extra cost that entailed for teams this year as they got to grips with their new 2014 cars.

    It could mean that just two pre-season tests take place next year in Spain.

    The news that tests are likely to take place within Europe will come as little surprise to teams who opted to stage two pre-season tests in Bahrain this year to evaluate the new-for-2014 power units in high temperatures.

Wolff: Hamilton-Rosberg Rivalry No Match for Senna-Prost

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    The fallout between Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton following a controversial Monaco Grand Prix weekend has seen the battle between the pair compared to the rivalry between Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.

    However, Toto Wolff—Mercedes' motorsport boss—has played down the links to Prost and Senna, who won seven world championships between them during the 1980s and 1990s.

    The Austrian, who joined Mercedes shortly after Hamilton arrived from McLaren at the beginning of 2013, told the team's official website:

    It's an intense relationship but this intensity is normal: they are both competitive guys and they are fighting for the World Championship. They have a competitive car with exactly the same strengths and weaknesses, so they need to fight for every little advantage wherever they can. We have seen a lot of talk about their relationship but that's not the key thing for a successful campaign: it's a job, not a holiday, and the drivers need to work with and for the team first of all.

    There have been a lot of comparisons to the Senna/Prost scenario, which is kind of a compliment to both Lewis and Nico. But the situation here is very different. The racing philosophy of Mercedes-Benz is to allow our drivers to compete: we let the boys play with their toys, unless they break them. Sure, it can be pretty tense when they are racing so hard, but the drivers know we will not tolerate any incident.

    Both of them know that they are representing not just themselves, and not just the team, but nearly 300,000 people who work for Mercedes-Benz around the world. 

Felipe Massa: No Surprise That Alonso Has Edge over Ferrari Teammate Raikkonen

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    Fernando Alonso's advantage over Kimi Raikkonen so far in 2014 has come as no surprise to Felipe Massa.

    The Brazilian is arguably the best-placed man to judge the dynamic between Raikkonen and Alonso, having partnered the Finn between 2007 and 2009 and the Spaniard from 2010 until 2013.

    Alonso has had the upper hand over his teammate in the opening six races of this season, scoring 44 more points than Raikkonen and finishing ahead of the 2007 world champion in each grand prix.

    And Massa, who went on to join Williams for 2014 after being replaced by Raikkonen at the Prancing Horse, believes the difference between the drivers is to be expected.

    He told ESPN F1

    The difference between Fernando and Kimi, for me, is not a surprise—I expected it. Fernando has built the team around him, but also the way he is driving, he is a very strong driver and he managed to put everything on his side as well.

    I think to be better than him you have to be 100% and perfect with the car, and Kimi is maybe not 100% ready and perfect with the car. Fernando has also the team for him, so it's not easy.

Massa Fears for Robert Kubica in Rallying

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    As well as being an expert on the internal workings of Ferrari and the strengths and weaknesses on Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa also knows a thing or two about recovering strongly from career-threatening accidents.

    The Brazilian, who survived a qualifying crash at the Hungaroring in 2009 after a loose spring from Rubens Barrichello's Brawn hit his helmet, has advised Robert Kubica to end his career in rallying for the good of his health.

    Kubica is still in the process of recovery from an arm injury suffered in a rally crash at the beginning of 2011 and stepped up his rehabilitation by winning the World Rally Championship-2 series last season.

    The Pole, however, has endured a difficult start to life in the top division of the WRC in 2014, retiring from three of the first five events of the season and experiencing several accidents along the way.

    And Massa has said that Kubica should take advantage of his links with Mercedes—for whom the 29-year-old has tested an F1 simulator and DTM car since 2011—to return to the safer environment of circuit racing.

    The Brazilian told ESPN F1:

    He's a great driver but I don't think he's doing the right thing, I don't think rallying is the right thing for him. I never saw him after the accident because he never appears—he disappeared from us (Formula One) and I think in rallying he is risking himself. It's better for him to do DTM or a race that is part of his experience and understanding, rallying is very different for us.

    I know he is struggling with his hand to come back to Formula One, but maybe there is another championship he can do. Especially because you always see he is crashing in this race and that race, if I was him I would not be there.

    Massa has admitted that Kubica, rather than Raikkonen, could have replaced him at Ferrari had Kubica continued in F1, adding:

    I think he had all the talents to drive for Ferrari and other big teams. Maybe I was also in the fighting with him in Ferrari, so maybe it could have been possible to see him in the Ferrari afterwards, but things change. I hope the best for him because he is a very nice guy and a good driver.

McLaren Content with Kevin Magnussen Feedback Despite "Rookie Syndrome"

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    McLaren have dismissed suggestions that the presence of Kevin Magnussen in the team has had an effect on their slow development of the MP4-29 car.

    Since announcing his arrival in Formula One with a podium finish in his debut race, the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, Magnussen has failed to finish higher than ninth in the following five races with McLaren falling behind rival teams in terms of development.

    Jenson Button, Magnussen's teammate, is the most experienced driver on the grid and is renowned for his valuable feedback, but Eric Boullier, McLaren's racing director, has revealed that the rookie is no slouch when it comes to translating his thoughts on the car's behaviour to his engineers.

    Boullier was quoted by ESPN F1 as stating:

    I don't think it's more challenging to have a rookie driver rather than a too experienced driver, let's say, because the kids now, like Kevin, can do let's say most of the job and get enough feedback to lead or at least answer some questions from the engineering team. Obviously when you have somebody more experienced like Jenson you get more details and you can dig in more problems to find solutions.

    I think Kevin is facing the rookie syndrome, which is that they all come from single-maker series and where they struggle most with is to understand is that the cars they have, the cars they are working for and trying to develop is giving them some kind of revert and if you don't have the best car you can't fight for the win, and this is where they most struggle.

    But the rest is fine to be honest, he is settling in well. He's very consistent; his feedback is good enough to drive his engineering group around him to make him go faster, so he's doing very well for a rookie.