Mercedes have benefited from illegal test, rivals allege

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Mercedes’ rivals say the team’s form since their illegal test for Pirelli in May shows the benefited from the information gained while testing.

Lotus team principal Eric Boullier said: “Two wins out of the three races after they tested, so the conclusion is easy. It is just facts. Two races won out of the three.”

Boullier denied Mercedes’ upturn in form might be a coincidence, saying: “I don’t think so. If we were racing on coincidence in Formula One I would know it.”

Mercedes had severe problems with tire degradation earlier in the season. At the Spanish Grand Prix the W04s qualified on the front row of the grid but fell to sixth and twelfth during the race. Pole sitter Nico Rosberg finished 68 seconds adrift.

Mercedes won the first race after their test, the Monaco Grand Prix, on a track which is less punishing for tires. Lewis Hamilton placed second in Canada, another track where the hardest compounds are not necessary. But their victory at Silverstone, one of the toughest tracks on the calendar for rubber, served to indicate the progress they have made.

Before the test Mercedes had scored 72 points in five races and were fourth in the constructors’ championship. Since then they’ve scored 99 points in three races, more than any other team, and overtaken Ferrari and Lotus in the points standings.

Asked if the Mercedes would still be winning races had it not been for the test Rosberg said: “For sure, yeah. Definitely.”

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”