The Mercedes war is just beginning, but Rosberg won this battle

5 Comments

It’s been a funny few days in Formula 1. On the grandest of stages – the Monaco Grand Prix – Mercedes appeared to be on the brink of civil war as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg locked horns around the streets of the principality.

After spending much of the weekend sending warning shots to Rosberg in the media, Hamilton came out of the race weekend as the loser. Second place is by no means bad, but the British driver was on the cusp of five straight wins, which – according to history – would have made him a certainty for the title.

Instead, for all of the comments and digs at Rosberg, the German driver had the last laugh on the track on Sunday by winning the Monaco Grand Prix and re-gaining the lead of the drivers’ championship. Frankly, it seemed like Hamilton just had a bee in his bonnet.

Traditionally, Rosberg always plays a bit of soccer before each session; it’s his way to relax. The likes of Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel listen to music. Kimi Raikkonen likes to have a sleep! You can often find Nico doing keepy-uppies with the ball at the back of the garage just minutes before jumping in the car. However, Hamilton complained to the team about this on Saturday before qualifying, claiming that the noise of him kicking the ball against the wall was disturbing him.

They’ve been teammates for 25 races – yet only now is Nico’s pre-race ritual annoying Lewis? Very strange.

After the race, both drivers were asked whether they’re still friends. Speaking to Sky, Rosberg remained cheerful about their partnership at Mercedes.

“We’ve always been friends, we always will be friends,” he said. “But friends is a big word. What exactly is friends? We have a good relationship and work well together.”

However, Lewis made himself very clear: “We are not friends. We are colleagues.”

Just as Fernando Alonso grew restless at McLaren when Hamilton started to challenge him, are the same cracks appearing in Lewis Hamilton?

Across the course of the week, Rosberg has remained a class act, saying the right things and doing his talking on track. Hamilton, on the other hand, has behaved a spoiled child who didn’t get his way. From Thursday to Sunday, there were nothing but digs at Nico. He had a problem with his upbringing, his innocent mistake in qualifying, and the strategic call on Sunday made by the team.

Lewis said earlier this week that his tough upbringing has made him hungrier than Nico. However, he’s now a multi-millionaire global superstar with a private jet, a dream lifestyle and even two dogs he brings to the races. Can we not argue that he is in up in the clouds, believing that everyone is conspiring against him and he can do no wrong?

Final word on this goes to former McLaren mechanic Marc Priestley, who worked with Lewis at the team for three years:

“Lewis Hamilton left McLaren without many fans in the garage because of his attitude & arrogance. It won’t take long for the same to happen at Mercedes I’m afraid.”

Let’s see if they can patch things up before we arrive in Canada. Either way, this civil war at Mercedes is only just beginning.

F1 narrowing down target cities for second US race

Getty Images
Leave a comment

GENEVA, Switzerland – Formula 1 CEO and chairman Chase Carey says that Liberty Media has begun to narrow down its target cities for a second grand prix in the United States.

Liberty Media completed its takeover of F1 in January, with Carey being appointed the sport’s new chief in place of Bernie Ecclestone.

Liberty has expressed a desire to expand F1’s footprint in key markets such as the United States, with a second grand prix to accompany the existing USGP at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas being a key objective.

Speaking to reporters at the FIA Sport Conference in Geneva earlier this week, Carey confirmed that Liberty was continuing to explore options for a second US race, narrowing down the possible locations.

“There’s probably some that we’ve ruled out, but it’s certainly more than a few. We still have multiple cities, and in a couple of cities, there are multiple options or multiple potential options,” Carey said.

“I don’t think we’re going to get too deep into what I think are private discussions. I think these discussions are better-had privately between parties. We’re not looking to go out and publicly play cities against each other and venues against each other.

“I think we want to make a decision that’s best on the merits for the sport and its fans. It’s a priority so we’re actively engaged on it. We’re moving forward, but we’re not going to put a deadline on it or go through the process publicly.”

Carey has previously expressed a strong desire to take F1 to big cities all over the world, and named New York, Miami and Las Vegas as possible targets for street events, although he recognized that getting grands prix in the very heart of them may prove difficult.

“I don’t think they’ll be [permanent] tracks, because I guess the cities we’ve cited like New York, Miami, Las Vegas, there aren’t tracks. So we’re not going to build a track in Miami or New York,” Carey said.

“But I don’t think we’re going to be racing down 5th Avenue in Manhattan either, so I think we like the connection to cities.

“By definition in those certain places we’ll use street races that will be upgraded to a place where they have the quality and requirements necessary to host a race.

“So clearly there will have to be things done to make that circuit ready.”

F1 is also set to put on more events in cities in host nations in the lead up to grand prix weekends, with several days of activities being the goal for Liberty moving forward in a bid to build interest.

“We’d like to be connected to the city. In many ways if you want a week-long event the events up to the race weekend are probably more city-centric and you evolve towards the track as you get to Friday, Saturday, Sunday,” Carey said.

“So having that connection to the city is something that we lack. I think we can make it work in places where they’re further afield as some of the historic tracks exist, but I think that connection to the city enhances the ability to engage the city.

“Silverstone is a way outside London and yet we’re going to have stuff in London that is celebrating the week in Silverstone.

“So just because you have the distance, I think if we have the opportunity to be more connected to the city, we think that presents interesting and fun opportunities.”

Todt confirms interest from new teams to join F1 grid

Getty Images
Leave a comment

GENEVA, Switzerland – FIA president Jean Todt has confirmed there is interest from new teams to join the Formula 1 grid in the near future following recent speculation about some fresh projects being worked on.

Ten teams currently race in F1, marking its lowest full-season roster since 2009 following the closure of Manor before the start of the new campaign.

Speculation has emerged in recent week about new projects being worked on to get a team on the grid in the near future, with staff at current teams reportedly being approached at recent races.

Talking to reporters at the FIA Sport Conference in Geneva, Todt confirmed that there had been interest from new teams, but that an entry would be dependent on a tender being issued.

“There are always rumors, but we have had some interest from some teams,” Todt confirmed, adding the interest had come “recently”.

“When we feel it is time we will be able to make a tender,” Todt continued. “At the moment we have 10 teams and the idea is to have up to 12 teams.

“So we have an opportunity, if we have one or two strong newcomers it could be possible.

“First we need to check the request ourselves, it’s going through a kind of audit to see who are the potential buyers. If it’s a big manufacturer, it’s easy, if it’s a privateer, you need to be more careful.

“And then, once you are sure that there is a real interest, and once you’re sure that people are capable, like it was the case with Haas, for example, then we make tender.”

Todt’s comments also come in the wake of a company changing its name to ‘China F1 Racing Team Limited’ in the UK last month, appearing to add up with speculation about Chinese investment being behind the push for a new team.

Sauber confirms Kaltenborn’s departure from team

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Sauber F1 Team has released two statements late Wednesday night, with the second confirming Monisha Kaltenborn’s departure after reports surfaced earlier Wednesday she was due to leave with immediate effect.

Sauber’s second statement said, attributed to Pascal Picci, Chairman of the Board:

“Longbow Finance SA regrets to announce that, by mutual consent and due to diverging views of the future of the company, Monisha Kaltenborn will leave her positions with the Sauber Group effective immediately. We thank her for many years of strong leadership, great passion for the Sauber F1 Team and wish her the very best for the future. Her successor will be announced shortly; in the meantime we wish the team the best of luck in Azerbaijan.”

An earlier statement released in conjunction with this, also attributed to Picci, scolded media reports hinting at unfair treatment within the team.

“The owners and board of Sauber Motorsport AG take strong exception to speculative and widespread media reports today that our race drivers have not been, and are not being, treated equally. This is not only patently untrue, it would be contrary to the team’s absolute and longstanding commitment to fair competition. These reports, attributed to anonymous “sources”, are highly detrimental to both Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein as well as to the management and all staff of the Sauber F1 Team.”

More to follow…

Global MX-5 Cup heads to Road America after Indy double

Photo: Global MX-5 Cup
Leave a comment

The next two races in the Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires series take place this weekend at Road America, part of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ KOHLER Grand Prix weekend.

Robert Stout (won by just 0.0632 of a second) and Patrick Gallagher split the race wins last weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, but kept McCumbee McAleer Racing’s perfect streak alive in 2017.

Gallagher leads the championship by a healthy margin of 39 points over Nathanial Sparks of Sick Sideways Racing.

Mark Drennan, Stout and Todd Lamb complete the top five in the championship.

MX-5 has raced at Road America on several different weekends in the past, but is now part of the IndyCar weekend.

All four Andersen Promotions-operated series – MX-5 plus the full complement of Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires series – are at Road America this weekend.

This marks the first time that’s happened since MX-5 came under the Andersen umbrella. Pro Mazda was not at Barber, when MX-5 premiered its season.

MX-5 races at 12:40 p.m. Friday and 10:05 a.m. Saturday.