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F1: Mercedes The Early Favourite, Melbourne In Tough Talks On Future Photo:
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TMR Team | Feb, 04 2014 | 0 Comments

Mercedes has emerged as the early 2014 favourite.

Amid world champions Red Bull and Renault's crisis, it is obvious that works engine-chassis makers Mercedes and Ferrari have their noses in front on the basis of the opening test at Jerez.

And of that pair, Mercedes out-lapped Ferrari to the tune of almost 300 kilometres - a race distance - over the four days in southern Spain.

Nico Rosberg even did a full grand prix simulation, complete with pitstops, while others were grappling simply to run their radically-new cars.

"There was an element of psychology in the (Mercedes) game," respected Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Michael Schmidt said.

"They wanted to demonstrate strength at a time when the great enemy Red Bull was on the floor," he mused.

Officially, Mercedes has played down any suggestion it is the early title favourite.

"For me it's too early to say who is quick," Sauber driver Adrian Sutil agreed.

But "I think the Mercedes package looks quite strong," he told Britain's Sky. "They do a lot of laps and I have a feeling they are in the front right now."

Others with Mercedes power are also happy. Sir Frank Williams' team moved from the Renault camp over the winter, and after grandees Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren, lapped more than any other rival at Jerez with the new FW36.

"Frank Williams went to the Mercedes motor home on Thursday night to personally thank Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff," Schmidt revealed.

Sutil, however - having moved from Mercedes engines at Force India to Ferrari-powered Sauber over the winter - said Ferrari is also in good shape after Jerez.

Ferrari is also happy with its new red works chassis, the F14 T. The famous Maranello marque has struggled with its wind tunnel data in recent years, but a complete overhaul is now bearing fruit.

"The technical parameters of the F14 T, as well as the aerodynamic validation we saw on track, match our expectations and provide a solid starting point, which we must now exploit as much as possible," said team boss Stefano Domenicali.

(GMM)

 

Melbourne in 'tough' talks over F1 future

There is still no news about the future of Melbourne's Australian grand prix beyond the 2015 race.

That is the admission of race chairman Ron Walker, who said the state-sponsored organisers are still in negotiations about a new contract with the sport.

"I'm as confident ... as I can be," he is quoted by the local Age newspaper.

It is believed the Victorian government is pushing Bernie Ecclestone to reduce Melbourne's annual fee, as he has done with some other races, but Walker said the disputed issues are in fact "nothing serious".

But Victorian premier Danis Napthine said his government is actually playing "a very tough game" in the talks with Ecclestone.

"It's a work in progress," Walker insisted. "It's just taken longer than we thought. I hope the impasse will be resolved soon. Hopefully, it will be concluded before this year's race."

F1 race contracts are typically of a long duration, such as seven years or more, but Walker said Melbourne's new deal could be for just "two years".

He said that would "suit the government, because they are not committing themselves to a long term".

(GMM)

 

Massa tips 'clever' Alonso to beat Raikkonen

Felipe Massa has tipped his former Ferrari teammate to dominate Kimi Raikkonen at the great Italian team in 2014.

Maranello marque Ferrari replaced the long-serving Brazilian with Finn Raikkonen, its 2007 world champion, over the winter, with Massa having to move to the once-great British team Williams.

Ferrari justified the move on the basis that Massa couldn't support teammate Fernando Alonso's title-charging points hauls on a regular enough basis, but the 32-year-old thinks Raikkonen will also struggle alongside the Spaniard.

Having tipped Alonso to beat Raikkonen while talking to the Italian press at Jerez, Massa explained: "Because he's very intelligent and has already grasped the new rules.

"He (Alonso) knows what he needs to do to be fast from the beginning," he is quoted by Speed Week. "He combines talent with brains.

"He really is clever, and that is what you need for rule changes as drastic as these," added Massa.

However, Massa said Raikkonen cannot be completely ruled out.

"Maybe the new Ferrari will be better suited to Kimi's driving style," he admitted. "We'll find out."

There have also been doubts about whether Alonso, formerly the clear number 1 alongside Massa, will be able to work harmoniously alongside Raikkonen, the last Ferrari champion.

But team boss Stefano Domenicali said he was "very pleased to see" how harmoniously the pair had worked together at the Jerez test last week.

Alonso also revealed that he spent some days at Maranello with Ferrari's returnee recently.

"We had some fun evenings," he is quoted by Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"There will be a total sharing of data between us, which is what we are used to at Ferrari," Alonso insisted.

"Every day I had every lap of telemetry from Kimi, and he will also have mine. And what I'm trying here at Jerez, he will try in Bahrain," he added last week.

(GMM)

 

Ross Brawn announces retirement

Despite earlier saying he would consider his F1 future during a sabbatical, Ross Brawn now insists he has definitively retired.

Having stepped down as Mercedes' team boss, the famous 59-year-old has been heavily linked with McLaren and the great British team's 2015 engine supplier Honda.

But despite saying earlier he would contemplate returning to the paddock this year whilst spending time fishing, Brawn announced at the weekend that he has in fact decided to retire.

"What they didn't realise when I was invited here was they had a scoop because the world's press was trying to find out if I was retiring or not," he said at a fishing event in Scotland.

"This is the busiest time of the year for formula one and I said I would come along and open the River Dee.

"If they had put two and two together they would have realised I was definitely retiring," Brawn added.

"I'm retiring -- it's not tongue in cheek," he insisted.

"I'm going to take a year to enjoy the fishing and then see what life brings. I'm looking forward to it but I've got no other plans."

At his former employer, Mercedes said it will not be filling the position of team principal in Brawn's absence.

"Yes, that position is a thing of the past," the Brackley team's Toto Wolff told the official F1 website.

Driver Nico Rosberg said he now reports directly to Wolff, Briton Paddy Lowe and chairman Niki Lauda.

"Technical (issues) is Paddy, but if I don't like the colour of the race car I go to Toto!" he joked.

Elsewhere, it is rumoured Lotus is preparing to confirm ousted McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh as its new team principal, with an announcement possible before the forthcoming Bahrain test.

It is also emerging from Woking based McLaren, where former Lotus boss Eric Boullier is now 'racing director', that aerodynamic chief Marcin Budkowski is leaving, according to Italy's Italiaracing.

The report said McLaren reported "differences regarding future development", although more likely is that Budkowski has paid the price for the disastrous 2013 car.

(GMM)

 
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