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F1: Melbourne May See Many DNFs, Villeneuve Says No Series Win For Vettel Photo:
 
 
TMR Team | Mar, 11 2014 | 3 Comments

It is possible every single car will fail to finish Sunday's season-opening Australian grand prix - that is the claim of Roberto Dalla, the head of F1 electronics supplier Magneti Marelli.

He told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport that the electronics of the cars have become so much more complicated in 2014, without a corresponding increase in the amount of pre-season testing.

"Last year," said Dalla, "there was a single unit made by McLaren that was the brain of every aspect.

"But now it only has control of a portion, and the underlying challenge is to be able to operate like an orchestra the engine, the turbo, the recovery systems.

"To find the right solutions will take another two to three months," he claimed.

"Doing it during three winter sessions with only 12 days in total was a real mission impossible.

"In Melbourne, it could happen that all the cars do not see the finish line, because every team experienced serious problems in testing," Dalla added.

(GMM)

 

No Vettel title in 2014 'for sure' - Villeneuve

1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve says Sebastian Vettel's run of titles is definitely over.

"He's not going to win this year for sure," the French Canadian, who is set to return to the Indy 500 this year at the age of 42, is quoted by Italian publications including Autosprint and La Repubblica.

"To me, Renault seems completely lost and unable even to finish a grand prix.

"Even if they (Red Bull) are making a new car for the European races it won't change anything -- maybe they'll do 30 laps instead of 15. It's not the car but the engine.

"I'm joking, but why bother going to Australia? They can't do half a grand prix and are slower than most.

"Williams now has the Mercedes and it's only because of that they're doing so well.

"It's good for (Felipe) Massa, because he was finished and for a few years didn't even seem like an F1 driver. I think that shows just how good his car is.

"We'll have to see if they also have the money to develop."

Beyond that, however - and Mercedes' obvious advantage - the former Williams and Honda driver is not entirely sure what will happen in 2014, as F1 undergoes its technological revolution.

"I don't know if it will be a great championship. It could even be funny," said Villeneuve, "because in Australia we could see a Marussia on the podium."

He thinks Kimi Raikkonen's move from Lotus to Ferrari for this year, even though he will be partnered by the excellent Fernando Alonso, was a good one.

"For the first time, I see him working seriously. Maybe his year without pay was good for him," said Villeneuve.

"Alonso is a fighter from the first lap and so he might use too much fuel," he explained. "It also depends on the attitude that he (Alonso) has.

"The Alonso of 2012 could win this year, but not the Alonso of 2013."

Villeneuve also predicted a tough season for confused spectators, and thinks F1 has missed some obvious opportunities to spice up the action.

"The fuel limit is a good idea," he is quoted by La Repubblica, "but it should be the drivers saving fuel and not the electronics."

Villeneuve admits Mercedes is the obvious 2014 favourite, but said the Brackley squad's weakness is the driver lineup.

"Hamilton and Rosberg are not friends," he said, "but to me it seems entirely too flat, without a spark. It has to be tougher than that between teammates."

And unlike Red Bull, Villeneuve says Ferrari cannot be written off yet.

"At the moment it's not the best car, but it's not so far back," said Villeneuve. "They can recover. We'll know much more after five races."

(GMM)

 

Melbourne-spec car different on inside - Vettel

Crisis-struck Red Bull is taking a vastly different car to Melbourne for the first race of 2014.

That is the claim of reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel, even though the German is not expecting to be competitive this weekend after a disastrous winter for the team and engine supplier Renault.

"Only in the comic book world do such processes (to improve) work that quickly and immediately," he told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

"But only in Melbourne will we know how far away from the competition we actually are."

Renault's Jean-Michel Jalinier has now admitted that Renault-powered cars will not be in a position to win in Melbourne, but he expects the picture to change significantly within "three to five races".

And Vettel said Red Bull is also working hard.

"The car we will use in Melbourne will only be the same as the one we tested in the winter on the outside," he said.

"Inside, it will be different," added Vettel.

"It's hard to say where we are, but we are certainly not among the favourites to win," he admitted.

New teammate Daniel Ricciardo, already in his native Australia, said the first challenge will be getting the RB10 to the chequered flag.

"We don't really know if it will last the distance," he told Fairfax Media, "because we haven't proven it (in testing)."

(GMM)

 

Renault says Red Bull car 'extreme'

Renault F1 chief Jean-Michel Jalinier insists the struggling French supplier should not be written off in 2014.

Many believe Renault's early-season problems with the all-new turbo V6 'power unit' have made winning races and the title almost impossible for world champions Red Bull.

But a bullish Jalinier hit back even at claims Renault is concerned it has already had to 'freeze' the specification of its engine for 2014.

"I am convinced that we have designed a good package," he is quoted by Italy's Omnicorse.

"We have to work on the software but that is outside the freezing. On the engine we worked until the last second to be sure we reached the right level of power and torque, and in this aspect we believe we are right."

Jalinier suggested some of Red Bull's problems have been exacerbated by the design of Adrian Newey's RB10 car.

"Red Bull have always made very competitive cars and we worked well together," he said.

"Maybe theirs is a bit more extreme at the level of their project, but we are working closely together to make it competitive," Jalinier added.

He denied rumours suggesting Red Bull and Renault could be set to split, with Lotus to take over as the 'premier' Renault team.

"At the moment," Jalinier insisted, "our team of reference is Red Bull and we have three other customers.

"Among them is Lotus, who have certainly proved to be a very competitive team, but our principal team remains Red Bull Racing.

"We still have a long-term agreement with the team in Milton Keynes ... there is no separation," Jalinier said.

(GMM)

 

Massa 'impressed' with Mercedes power

Felipe Massa has admitted he has been "impressed" with his switch to Mercedes power for 2014.

It is the first time in his F1 career the diminutive Briton has not been powered by a Ferrari engine.

The Mercedes team, and its customers McLaren, Force India and Massa's new employer Williams, are tipped to lead in 2014 with a superior 'power unit' for the new turbo V6 regulations.

"I went to the (Mercedes) factory and I was impressed," Massa is quoted by Italy's La Repubblica.

There are rumours Mercedes has come out so strong in 2014 because the German carmaker has invested four times more money than Ferrari.

"I don't know whether it is four times," Massa said, "but definitely to see them at work made an impression on me."

However, he denied that he deliberately shopped for a Mercedes-powered team for 2014.

"No, but with a regulation change that is about the engines, you know that they (Mercedes) know what they are doing.

"And from the moment I arrived at Williams I felt very wanted, which is a fantastic feeling."

Massa's last comment suggests that he no longer felt loved at Ferrari.

"I will not speak badly of Ferrari," he insisted. "I was there many years and I lived some beautiful moments. And some very bad ones as well."

He does not hide that Hockenheim 2010, when he was told 'Fernando (Alonso) is faster than you', was the low point.

"They did not let me win a race that I deserved," said Massa. "It was not just the team order that hurt me, but the fact that I had come back from a very bad accident. It would have been very important to me."

Asked if he often behaved 'too loyally' to Ferrari, he admitted: "Yes, maybe I did. But now it's the past and it doesn't matter.

"I remember the wonderful years at Ferrari, and the friendships with many people."

Massa, 32, said he thinks Mercedes has the best 2014 car, and when asked 'Hamilton or Rosberg', he answered: "(Nico) Rosberg."

But when asked who he would put money on for the title, Massa grinned: "I don't like talking about myself..."

(GMM)

 

Kovalainen's F1 career is over - Vilander

Toni Vilander thinks his Finnish countryman Heikki Kovalainen's F1 career is over.

Having lost his Caterham seat, Kovalainen looked to be putting his career back on track when he secured the Lotus seat for the last two races of 2013.

But Kovalainen struggled, and despite Caterham wanting an experienced non-pay driver at the wheel this year, that job went to Japanese Kamui Kobayashi.

"I think it's quite a difficult situation for Heikki now," Vilander, a Finnish sports car and former GP2 driver, told Finnish radio Nova.

"If I had to say yes or no, then I would say that formula one is now in the past for him," he added.

"The Lotus seat at the end of the season was not good PR for Heikki. We know that jumping into a new car at the end of a season is difficult, but he should at the minimum have scored points," said Vilander.

(GMM)

 

Ferrari sandbagged in winter testing - Salo

Ferrari is yet to reveal the full potential of its 2014 car.

That is the view of former F1 driver Mika Salo, who raced a few times for the fabled Italian team in 1999 and is now a pundit on Finnish television.

Many believe that, in the 2014 pecking order, Ferrari trails most of the Mercedes-powered teams, but 47-year-old Salo is not so sure.

"Ferrari has been pretty much hidden," he told Finnish radio Nova.

"When you look at the sector times for the tests, some are very good but some are ridiculously bad. They are covering up their pace and no one really knows where they are," added Salo.

 
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