Formula 1's Latest Rumours and Talk: Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and More

Oliver Harden@@OllieHardenFeatured ColumnistJuly 11, 2016

Formula 1's Latest Rumours and Talk: Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and More

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    Home and away fixtures are non-existent in Formula One, but Lewis Hamilton managed to turn the Silverstone circuit into a fortress during the British Grand Prix weekend.

    Having previously won at the circuit in 2008, 2014 and 2015, the home of British motorsport once again became Hamilton's own backyard for three days, with the triple world champion claiming a comfortable pole-to-flag victory in difficult conditions.

    After registering his fourth win of the season, the local hero has thanked the home crowd for energising him throughout the weekend, giving him the strength to perform at his strongest.

    As Hamilton produced his best performance of the season, Sebastian Vettel produced his weakest in Ferrari colours at Silverstone.

    The four-time world champion's ninth-place finish, achieved seven days after he suffered his third retirement of 2016 in Austria, has all but ended the German's chances of securing a fifth title this year.

    But Vettel has urged Ferrari not to panic despite the Prancing Horse lacking both reliability and pace during the British GP weekend.

    As Nico Rosberg suffered a gearbox glitch of his own in the closing laps, race engineer Tony Ross couldn't stop himself panicking, instructing his driver how to nurse his Mercedes W07 car to the chequered flag.

    Rosberg's post-race penalty has reopened the debate surrounding the 2016 radio restrictions, with members of Mercedes, Red Bull and Williams all airing their frustrations with the current rules.

    Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz Jr. has voiced his exasperation with lingering speculation surrounding his F1 future following his signing of a Toro Rosso contract extension.

    The latest rumour has seen the Spaniard linked with a switch to Renault in exchange for cheaper engines, but Sainz has insisted he will remain within the Red Bull setup in 2017.

    Closing our post-British GP roundup is Marcus Ericsson, who has explained why he was fortunate to walk away from his practice crash at Silverstone.

Lewis Hamilton Feels at His 'Strongest' After Latest British GP Win

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    Hamilton has revealed he feels "stronger than ever" after registering his third British GP victory in as many years at Silverstone.

    Having set pole position at the end of a dramatic qualifying session on Saturday, the 31-year-old dominated his home race in changeable conditions to equal 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell's tally of four British GP wins.

    The three-time title winner's fourth victory of 2016, and his second in succession, has seen Hamilton cut Rosberg's points lead to just a single point having trailed his Mercedes team-mate by 43 just two months ago.

    After his wild celebrations at the end of the race, when he scaled the pit wall with a British flag and took part in a spot of crowdsurfing, the Briton has praised the local crowd for providing him with the "energy" to win.

    And following a difficult start to the season, when he suffered several reliability gremlins as Rosberg won each of the first four races, Hamilton believes he is now operating at his peak once more.

    He told Sky Sports F1:

    We unequivocally have the best fans in the world here. In Italy, of course, they've got good fans but the passion here is equal, if not greater.

    I like to think I'm getting stronger. Even though I'm getting older, I definitely think I'm in my prime right now.

    It's been a year of growth. Lots of ups and downs and problems we've had, it's been an opportunity for growth and learning. Today I feel light, I feel energetic, I feel great. 

    I felt stronger than ever this weekend in the car and I'm sure a large portion of that is the fans. Their energy is electrifying and in the car I felt that.

    When I'm at my strongest I don't feel (I have) any problems—let's just leave it at that.

    And I do feel at my strongest right now. I'm just going to make sure I arrive at (Hungary) the same.

    We have our ups and downs and our dips, but energy, physically I feel I can go again. I'm ready to go!

    Hamilton came dangerously close to ruining his hard work at the beginning of the race, when he almost collided with the safety car at Copse corner.

    According to Motorsport.com's Jamie Klein, the Stevenage-born driver admitted the incident was a result of his "glazed" rear brakes, with Hamilton unable to generate sufficient brake and tyre temperature behind the "slow" pace car.

    Per the same source, Hamilton questioned whether it was necessary for the race to begin behind the safety car following a short, intense rain shower, adding: "I think we could have started on the grid. There were wet patches all over the place, but that is what racing is about."

Sebastian Vettel Sees 'No Reason to Panic' Despite Ferrari's British GP Disaster

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    Vettel has insisted Ferrari have "no reason to panic" despite producing their worst performance of 2016 at the British GP.

    Having entered this season with aspirations of securing his fifth world championship, Vettel remains without a win after the first 10 races of 2016 and endured one of his most difficult weekends in Ferrari colours at Silverstone.

    A gearbox issue in the final practice session forced him to suffer a second successive five-place grid penalty, with a mid-race spin in drying conditions and a five-second time penalty for easing Williams' Felipe Massa off track leaving him in ninth place at the chequered flag.

    With Mercedes registering their eighth victory of the season at Silverstone, Vettel has fallen 70 points behind championship leader Rosberg with 11 races remaining.

    But while the 29-year-old has called on Ferrari not to panic, Vettel has urged Ferrari to understand why they were outpaced by Red Bull throughout the British GP weekend.

    He told the team's official website:

    It was a tough day, but we trust our team and trust our car, so there is no reason to panic and to turn the world upside down. The call to come into the pits was absolutely right, but then the spin didn’t help, and all my advantage was gone again. The penalty in the end didn’t make a difference, it was not on purpose that I was trying to squeeze Felipe. Actually I was going out myself, and I was surprised how little grip there was, going side by side with him. In the end it was a racing incident. Now we need to understand where we lost something. We have a lot of things to learn from a weekend like this. Clearly today we weren’t as competitive as in other races, but at least we recovered some points. And this was the only race of the year where we weren’t able to beat the Red Bulls in terms of race pace. Things may look different in two weeks’ time, but that shouldn’t be an excuse. We need to go forward and understand why we made a step back this time around.

    With a fifth-place finish, Kimi Raikkonen has moved ahead of his team-mate in the drivers' standings having outqualified Vettel by more than 0.6 seconds.

    The 2007 world champion, whose contract extension was announced on the eve of the race, has insisted Ferrari's British GP struggles were a one-off, telling the team's official website how the upcoming races "will be much easier."

Mercedes Call for Radio Rules 'Rethink' After Nico Rosberg's Post-Race Penalty

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    Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has urged the FIA and teams to tweak the restrictions on pit-to-car radio messages after Rosberg was demoted to third following the British GP.

    After passing Red Bull's Max Verstappen, Rosberg was closing in on race leader Hamilton in the latter stages at Silverstone when his gearbox developed a problem.

    With his driver staring at the prospect of retiring from the race, race engineer Ross breached the 2016 radio restrictions by telling Rosberg how to fix the issue and instructing the German to avoid seventh gear.

    Despite finishing second on the track, Rosberg dropped to third after receiving a 10-second time penalty, with his championship lead over Hamilton sliced to just one point.

    Having seen Hamilton compromised by the radio restrictions during June's European GP, Wolff has pleaded with the rulemakers to alter the current limitations on team radio. 

    Per Autosport (h/t Eurosport), he said: "The rules maybe need a rethink, between the FIA and the teams, to maybe go more into detail about what's allowed. Not communicating at all, you can just turn the radio off and throw it out of the car. It's been part of driving since a long time. It needs to be discussed."

    Although Verstappen benefited from Rosberg's punishment to earn his second successive second-place finish, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner aired his concerns over the radio ban, questioning whether the "rubbish" rules are "right for F1."

    Per the same source, Williams' technical boss Pat Symonds went a step further, suggesting the imprecise technical directive provided by FIA race director Charlie Whiting has resulted in much confusion among teams, who are unsure what is allowed under the current restrictions.

    Symonds said:

    I don't like it. To me it's a team sport, you should work together.

    A technical directive is not a rule, it's an opinion.

    Charlie has written that technical directive and said, 'this is what you can say everything else is illegal.'

    Well, that's his interpretation of a very, very vague rule about the driver driving the car alone and unaided.

    There are a couple of things we heard on the radio that we asked Charlie, 'are you sure you are happy with that?' and he said 'yeah.'

    Every single race there's a debate going on on the pitwall.

    During Friday practice, Symonds told Sky Sports' television coverage how Whiting declared "the honeymoon is over" regarding pit-to-car messages, suggesting the FIA would become even tougher when it came to penalising radio communications.

Carlos Sainz Jr. Bemused by 'Strange' Renault Swap Suggestions

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    Sainz has dismissed speculation that he could be forced to drive for Renault next season as part of a deal for Toro Rosso to compete with cheaper engines.

    Ahead of the Austrian GP weekend, Toro Rosso confirmed Sainz would remain with the team for a third season in 2017, but doubts over the Spaniard's future resurfaced at the British GP.

    As reported by Autosport (h/t Eurosport), it was suggested that Toro Rosso would be willing to allow Sainz to join Renault in return for reduced engine prices in 2017, when the Red Bull B-team will revert to the French manufacturer's power units.

    Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost told the same source the rumour was "complete nonsense," suggesting the Red Bull B-team agreed the exact terms of their Renault supply deal "several months ago."

    Per the same source, Sainz admitted he was surprised by the prospect of being offloaded to Renault and has insisted he remains committed to Toro Rosso. He said:

    Trade me for Renault engines? Like I'm money?

    I perfectly understand. That was a joke. I don't know if it's a possibility, but the situation relies on Red Bull. It'd be very strange.

    If Red Bull or Toro Rosso signed me, it's because they want me, not to trade me. Maybe they have changed their mind, but I think it'd be strange, extraordinary.

    I don't know how much of it is true or not.

    If it could happen or not, I really think: no. The sole intention Red Bull had to renew my contract was to keep me, not to trade me.

    I can be quite confident and calm about my future because of that. If it happens in the end it'd be unexpected, let's put it that way.

    I'm very comfortable here.

    I've a lot of support of the big bosses, which is important for me with people like Helmut Marko, Christian Horner and Franz Tost, who trust in me a lot, and it's the right place to be.

    If people trust you, and you've gained skills in Toro Rosso who next year could surprise many people with the regulations, then I'm sure it's not a bad place to be, so I'm very happy.

    Ahead of the Silverstone weekend, Sainz told Sky Sports' James Galloway how he was "proud" to be linked "to the top teams like Ferrari and Renault" but hinted a leading team "would need to pay quite a bit of money" to break his current contract with Red Bull's F1 operation.

Marcus Ericsson 'Lucky' to Avoid Serious Injury in British GP Practice Crash

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    Ericsson has praised the safety standards of modern F1 after he walked away from his violent accident in final practice at the British GP.

    On Saturday morning at Silverstone, Ericsson ran wide on the exit of Stowe corner and spun across the track, suffering a head-on collision with the tyre barrier.

    Despite walking away from the wreckage of his Sauber C35, the Swede was ruled out of qualifying after requiring a trip to hospital.

    With his car rebuilt, Ericsson—having passed a Sunday morning medical assessment—started the grand prix from the pit lane but retired on Lap 12 after suffering an electrical problem.

    After the race, the 25-year-old, whose steering wheel was dislodged in the accident, admitted he was fortunate to emerge relatively unscathed from the wreckage.

    He told Autosport (h/t Eurosport):

    I'm a bit bruised, aching, and I've some sore parts on my body.

    The most important thing is yesterday we did all the scans, which is why we went hospital to get everything checked.

    There was nothing broken, nothing wrong with me, which was the main thing, but of course today I felt a bit sore, aching, and I'm a bit bruised, but there was no problem to drive. I felt good in the car.

    To be honest it's quite impressive to see the safety in these cars and on the tracks because with a shunt like that, an impact like that, it's quite incredible to be able to walk away.

    Where the accident took place was quite a bad place because out of Stowe the exit is pointing towards the barrier on the inside, so when I touched the astroturf a bit, it was a bit damp, it snapped the car.

    I had one tenth of a second to think. I realised it was going to hurt, and it was a massive impact. You don't get much time to think, but I was lucky I was not more injured.

    OK, I feel sore, but nothing was broken, which is a good sign for Formula 1 that we have such good safety standards.

    Per the same source, Ericsson paid tribute to his Sauber mechanics for building "a completely new car in 24 hours," suggesting his crew did a "very impressive" and "amazing" job to allow him to start the race.

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