Hamilton: I’ll soon have the press back on my side

Lewis HamiltonLewis Hamilton believes that the press will soon be back on side. The McLaren driver has had plenty of criticism levelled at him from the press in recent months thanks to the British driver failing to score a point for two races in succession at Canada, Hamilton smacked into the back of Ferrari s Kimi Raikkonen in the pit-lane forcing both men to retire from the race; In France, Hamilton endured a ten-place grid slot penalty at the start, and then earned a drive-through penalty when he was deemed to have cut a chicane during an overtaking move. Hamilton has also been criticised for his attitude towards the press during these difficult races.

Talking to the BBC, Hamilton explained, “You ve just done an hour and a half race and worked your backside off, and then they expect you to sit down and straightaway get out of the car and talk to people. Are you crazy? Damn man, I’m knackered! I need a drink! Sometimes I like to do that.

“But I feel that I’ve had so much support from the media, especially last year and in the build-up to this year, and I know that with the performance that I’ll have coming up, I feel that they’ll be back on my side and they’ll continue supporting me.”

Coulthard looking forward to the British GP

David CoulthardDavid Coulthard, who has spent the last fifteen years driving in Formula One, has recently faced a barrage of rumours that the Scot is going to retire, but as yet, the Scot has neither confirmed or denied the rumours. However the approach to the British Grand Prix has left the Scot in a reflective mood.

“We’re all different, and I’m quite a realist,” Coulthard said. “When something has happened, or a decision has been taken or whatever it happens to be, it’s not something I dwell on, I just get on with the next thing. It’s just one of those things. When that moment comes, it’s the journey of life. You just move on to the next thing.

“I’m currently a grand prix driver, I have been for many seasons, and I’m sitting here still as a grand prix driver because I still enjoy it, and I get a buzz from it, and clearly I deliver a value enough for the team to commit to me for the last few years.

“There will come a point, naturally, where that’s not going to continue and, boo-hoo, you know? There are a lot of worse things that can happen to you. You just move on to the next challenge.”

“Points-wise it’s [Silverstone] just another race, but in terms of atmosphere, the feel-good factor, the history, all of those things are special.

“Driving down Hangar Straight to Stowe Corner, and seeing all of the crowd standing at the side of the track, that is particularly special at Silverstone because it’s a British crowd, and you see the British flags, and the home of motor sport is in Britain. So that’s a feel-good moment.

“A lot of tracks you don’t even bother looking out at the grandstands, but when you are on Hangar Straight you’re not driving – you’re just sitting on the straight waiting until you get to the braking point. So you soak up the atmosphere.

“I’ve always been like that since 1994, and I will be doing exactly the same when I race there in a couple of weeks.”

There are some rumours that on retirement, Coulthard might buy into a Formula One team, the most likely being Toro Rosso. However in an interview with British newspaper The Times, Coulthard as said buying a team is not an option at this stage.

“I m in the middle of a GP season and I have some clear plans but that is not one of them at the moment,” he explained. “You can’t go straight from primary school to university, and to presume I could go straight from driving an F1 car would be arrogant.

“Buying it wouldn’t be the scary thing but finding $200m a year to run it definitely would.”

Alternating German GP tracks set to remain

The German Grand Prix looks set to stay in it s current format of alternating between venues each year.

Last season, the Nurburgring was the only German track to host a Formula One race after it was agreed that Germany would host just one race per season to allow for races from new countries. This season, Hockenheim is all-set to host this season s German Grand Prix which takes place next month.

Jorn Teske, marketing chief of Hockenheim indicated that alternating option was satisfactory and would continue on in the future., “We aren t dissatisfied with the current alternating solution,” he said. “In the current environment, it is the appropriate solution.”

Hamilton lends his support to the Variety Club

Lewis Hamilton has given his support to a special racing experience, organised by children’s charity The Variety Club, for eight lucky pupils at Brands Hatch next week.

The Arbour Vale School pupils will be driven around the prestigious track by Britcar Endurance ace Henry Firman, thanks to a joint initiative between The Variety Club and Britcar team 911virgin.

Hamilton, who played Scalextric with children from Great Ormond Street Hospital last week to mark Santander’s on-going relationship with the Hospital, has lent his support to the day:

“Racing round Brands Hatch will be a real out-of-classroom occasion for these pupils,” the F1 star explained.

“Thanks to the Variety Club, days out like these enable disadvantaged and disabled children to experience a wide range of entertaining trips outside of the school gates.”

“A big thank you to Sharron and Henry Firman (the 911virgin team) for getting these kids on track to enjoy a great day out.”

Arbour Vale School Head Teacher Gail Burton said that the pupils couldn’t wait to go racing around the circuit: “The pupils are very much looking forward to this experience.”

“In the weeks building up to the big day, 911 Virgin even came to the school to adapt the cars to meet the requirements of the children. We already have a Sunshine Coach from Variety Club and their support has proved invaluable over the years.”

The Variety Club Children’s Charity in the UK was established in 1949 and has helped more than one million children, 450 schools for disabled children, 500 youth clubs and 35 hospitals.

Lewis: winning British GP would be ‘amazing’

Lewis Hamilton is under no allusions that winning his home Grand Prix would be a massive boost as he battles to get his championship back on track.

The British ace has come under heavy fire in the press lately following his pit-lane collision with Kimi Raikkonen in Canada and his lacklustre race in France.

But speaking to his adoring home fans at the Brooklands Double Twelve Motoring festival today, Hamilton said that he is intent on putting these results behind him and getting the best of himself.

“The best way to deal with all that stuff is just to continue to performing well and that’s something that I’ve really worked so hard to do,” he told the crowd.

“You know, I’m training all the time, focussing, re-focussing after bad events, and you’ve just got to keep on going, just keep on pushing. It’s not the end of the day.”

Hamilton, who was unable to stop Kimi Raikkonen romping to victory at Silverstone last year, admits that winning his home Grand Prix would be fantastic for him and his fans.

“For sure it would be the best thing for us, for the country, for my team, for me and my family; to win the Silverstone grand prix would be amazing.”

Hamilton completed a productive three-day test at Silverstone this week ahead of next week’s premier event. The McLaren driver set a searing pace in his revised and upgraded MP4-23, but he warned against a straightforward charge to the top step of the podium at the Northamptonshire track.

“Bear in mind its going to be a very very close race,” he emphasised. “The test went really well last week but I’m not going to get ahead of myself, I think its going to be a tough weekend.”

Give Nick time

heidfeldbNick Heidfeld is being given a hard time by the world’s press at the moment, perhaps more so than Lewis Hamilton.

The latest rumours doing the rounds in the F1 paddock suggest that the German could be ousted by BMW Sauber by the end of the year. GP2 star Bruno Senna is the latest driver to be linked to the seat and before that double world champion Fernando Alonso was in the frame.

Much of the speculation centres on Heidfeld’s below par start to the 2008 campaign. The German has been consistently out-shone by team-mate Robert Kubica who has been relishing every minute behind the wheel of his traction control-less F1.08.

Heidfeld conversely has been having a torrid time with the handling of BMW’s 2008 challenger, particularly in qualifying where he has been struggling to heat up his Bridgestone Potenzas.

If it is true that BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen is genuinely thinking about replacing his fellow countryman for – or even before – 2009, then he would be wise to think twice.

At 31 years old, Heidfeld is no spring chicken, though Schumacher, Hakkinen and Hill have all won championships at a later age. But the problem with the mumblings that Heidfeld is past his prime is the sheer contrast in performance and results between this year and last.

Heidfeld out-qualified Kubica 12-4 last year and was consistently out-racing the Pole en-route to total of 61 points and two podiums. But Kubica has come alive in 2008, flipping the statistics 8-0 to his favour and qualifying on average, five places ahead of his team-mate at each race. Heidfeld has not only struggled to keep Kubica touch, but also dropped behind the likes of Alonso, Webber, Trulli and Rosberg on the starting grid.

Had Heidfeld’s dip in performance been less sharp, there might be some substance to the argument that he his no longer at his prime. But the stark contrast between 2007 and 2008 suggests that there is something more fundamental at play, and that Heidfeld’s problems with the tyres should be taken at face value.

Encouragingly for Heidfeld, he has begun to turn things around. In Magny-Cours he lapped within a tenth of a second of Kubica in Q2 and was confident that the team had begun to get on top of the tyre warming issues that had plagued his lack-lustre season.

“I hope that it will at least continue like in Magny-Cours when I was 0.060 seconds slower than Robert in Q2 which was acceptable,” he said at the end of this week’s three-day test at Silverstone. “It was of course not my target, but at least better than the last couple of races.”

It would be foolish to sacrifice the experience that Heidfeld brings to the team just he is beginning to help resolve and unmask an issue with the F1.08 that could equally hamper other drivers that have a similar driving style.

Give him time to overcome the problems that he has been having with this year’s car before replacing him with a rookie, Mario.

British GP is a must win for Hamilton

Montreal Hamilton2Lewis Hamilton has achieved two of his three goals this year after winning the season-opener at Melbourne and the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix. Now he has set his sights on a home victory in front of his British fans.

Hamilton, who started from pole position last year only to drop back to third after going the wrong way with his car setup, is hoping to get his championship back on track at Silverstone next week after a disastrous few weeks in the press following his disappointment in Canada in France.

The British ace, who started from pole position last year only to drop back to third after going the wrong way with his car setup, says he wants nothing more than to win on home soil: “Of course, winning your home race is something that every driver wants to achieve,” he said.

“People talk of winning the ‘big four’: Silverstone, Monaco, Monza and Spa, but it’s more straightforward for me.”

“I want to win the first race of the season, I want to win Monte Carlo – which I did for the first time this year – and I want to win my home grand prix. Those are my goals and I’m ready for the challenge at Silverstone this weekend.”

In deference to Nigel Mansell’s claim that racing in front of your home crowd yields as much as a second in lap time, Hamilton is expecting his partisan supporters to be a monumental factor next week.

“There’s something about racing in your home country that definitely affects you,” explains Hamilton.

“You can’t really say what it is, but there’s something about the familiarity of your surroundings and the constant support of the crowd that gives you a boost throughout the whole weekend.”

“It’s not something you experience anywhere else but it does make you that bit more determined to succeed.”

Bruno Senna linked to BMW for 2009

TheissenNick Heidfeld is under increasing pressure to retain his seat with BMW Sauber in 2009 after being consistently out-shone by team mate Robert Kubica this year.

The latest murmurings in the paddock are that BMW are on the brink of signing GP2 star Bruno Senna for next year. The Brazilian, who is currently locked in a fierce battle for the feeder series’ crown for iSport International, is in talks with BMW Sauber to become a test and even race driver for the team next year, according to German publication Sport Bild.

The magazine claims that Gerhard Berger, a long-standing friend of the Senna family and Bruno’s guardian in motorsport, was in discussions with BMW Motorsport Director and former colleague Dr Mario Theissen about the Brazilian’s future. “Senna is determined to get a test, and then BMW will decide,” an insider was quoted as saying by Sport Bild.

Heidfeld, who held the upper-hand over Robert Kubica last year having out-qualified the Pole 12-4, has had a wretched start to his 2008 campaign after struggling to get the best out of his Bridgestone tyres in qualifying.

Kubica meanwhile has emerged as one of the hottest properties in the driver market after racketing up a string of podiums, not to mention his maiden victory in Canada. The Pole, who has been revelling behind the wheel of his traction control less F1.08, currently sits a mere two points behind championship leader Felipe Massa, ahead of both McLaren drivers and Kimi Raikkonen.

Heidfeld has been working hard to overcome his problem with heating up his tyres and was buoyed by his qualifying effort in Magny-Cours in which he lapped within a tenth of a second of his team-mate in Q2. But he acknowledges that it situation is still far from ideal.

“I hope as you say that it will at least continue like in Magny-Cours when I was 0.060 seconds slower than Robert in Q2 which was acceptable; of course not my target, but at least better than the last couple of races,” the German told reporters after a productive three-day test for BMW Sauber at Silverstone.

Heidfeld was also confident that the team had made improvements to the car since their below-par performance in France.

“Robert (Kubica) already said it looks like for Magny-Cours we made one or two wrong choices,” he said.

“Unfortunately because Magny-Cours lap times are always close together and although not knowing the fuel levels of the others, here it looks more normal again. It looks unfortunately right now that McLaren and Ferrari are quicker but we should be third or fourth again we are looking not bad.”

For the time being at least, Heidfeld’s place in BMW is secure, as underlined by recent comments issued by BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen:

“We have given him much support over the past weeks,” affirmed Theissen. “The situation is not easy for Nick because he must try to get to the same level as Robert, but at the moment he (Kubica) is quick in every situation.”

“We will decide in the summer [about the 2009 driver line-up], probably in the second half of August, but it could also happen sooner or later.”

Q and A: Nick Heidfeld

Nick HeidfeldNick Heidfeld talks to reporters after a productive test for BMW Sauber at Silverstone.

The German, who is under increasing pressure to close the gap to team-mate Robert Kubica and overcome problems with heating up his Bridgestone tyres in qualifying, said he was confident that the team have resolved some of the handling problems that plagued their below par performance in Magny-Cours.

How was the testing this week, are you happy with progress?

Yeah good. I finished early not because of any problems, but with the kilometre limitations we have completed 93 laps as planned. Unfortunately it was a bit windy but that was the same yesterday which makes it a bit difficult to test properly. But still we managed to do everything that we planned.

Are you happy you’ve made some progress since France?

I think so, but as Robert already said it looks like for Magny-Cours there were one or two wrong choices we made. Unfortunately because Magny-Cours lap times are always close together and although not knowing the fuel levels of the others, here it looks more normal again. It looks unfortunately right now that McLaren and Ferrari are quicker but we should be third or fourth again we are looking not bad.

Have you had a chance to work a bit more at the tyre warming issue that you’ve been having? Because obviously you were closer to Robert in qualifying in Magny-Cours.

Yeah not much today I did some setup work but no so much focussing on the tyre heat up. I hope as you say that it will at least continue like in Magny-Cours when I was 0.060 seconds slower than Robert in Q2 which was acceptable, of course not my target, but at least better than the last couple of races. And we’re still looking into it.

In terms of setup at the next weekend: have you got it where you want to be, do you know where you the baseline is for the weekend there?

Yeah I think we’ve done all the baselines. You know from the years of experience that you cannot set the car up perfectly today and the next week it will be different anyway, but we have an idea.

Are you expecting to start here for the rest of the season: just stay ahead of the rest and catching Ferrari and McLaren is going to be almost impossible?

I think that on most of the circuits Ferrari will be strongest. If McLaren or ourselves does not make any good step, taking out Monza which is a different circuit, a bit like Canada, where we have been strong. But on the more normal tracks I expect Ferrari to be the strongest.

Mosley was warned of plot against him

Max MosleyAccording to an intelligence consultant, FIA president Max Mosley was warned by Bernie Ecclestone two months before the News of the World revelations over this private life that people had been hired to discredit him and they had unlimited funds to help them achieve their aim.

A report in British newspaper The Times has revealed that Bernie Ecclestone warned Mosley that there were people plotting against him, and Ecclestone was upset and angry when he found Mosley had ignored the advice his was given.

Dean Attew, an intelligence consultant who once worked for the Formula One rights-holder, claims that he was contacted mid-January by someone who wanted Mosley out of office, some two months before the first revelations about Mosley s private life were published in the News of the World.

In an interview with The Times, Attew claims, “In January this year I received a call from a friend. We had a meeting and I was approached and told there was an open budget to effectively go out and source material that would bring Max to his knees and, more importantly, remove him from office and discredit him publicly.

“During the conversation I said to the guy, ‘What’s your budget?’ and he said, ‘It’s an open budget,’ and I said, ‘OK, be specific here, are you after Max, are you after the FIA or are you after Bernie?’ They then went back and they came back a little while later and said, ‘We are not going to pursue it for the time being.’ The person contacted me because they knew of my relationship with Bernie but did not know of my relationship with Max. The reason they contacted me was to find out whether I had any loyalty to Max and whether I knew anything of value.”

Attew says that he took the conversation seriously as he felt his contact was credible and so he contacted Ecclestone over the meeting. At that stage, it is believed that Ecclestone knew nothing of Mosley s tendencies and was not overly worried about the conversation as he felt there was no dirt to find on Mosley.

However after the story broke, Attew contacted Mosley to see if there was any way that he could help. Attew says that Mosley admitted to him that Ecclestone had warned him that there were possibly people out to discredit him, and that someone else had also given him a warning. However it appeared that Mosley did not heed either warning.

Attew has said that he is speaking out about the incident now because he feels it is wrong that there is speculation that Ecclestone was involved in the plot when, in fact, it was the complete opposite.

“I hear things about people suggesting Bernie was behind this, but that is ridiculous,” Attew said. “From the very first indication Bernie and I, with Max’s knowledge, have tried to find out who was the source.”

Attew is also angry that Mosley disregarded the advice he was given. Attew contineud, “It was very clear that Max had disregarded both the advice he had been given and had failed to realise his vulnerability at that stage. The issue for me was his total disregard for genuine advice from individuals that he knew had his best interests at heart. When we saw what was in the News of the World, Bernie was as flabbergasted as I was.”