Brawn happy with Hamilton’s criticism

Ross Brawn insists he has no problem with Lewis Hamilton’s criticisms of the new Mercedes.

After six years with McLaren, the 2008 world champion began work with his new team at Jerez last week, and immediately both he and Nico Rosberg struck technical trouble. They had a much better second half of the opening test, but Briton Hamilton pointed out that the W04 lacks the downforce of his 2012 McLaren.

“We have some work to do but it doesn’t feel like a disaster,” he said.

Team boss Brawn insists he is not worried Hamilton is being forthright.

“It is correct that he gives his reference points and helps us understand what we have to focus on,” he said. “Some of it we knew already and that is why we restructured the aero group. I welcome that approach.

“It needs to be positive and constructive but criticism of the right sort is helpful to a team, it drives you forward,” added Brawn.

Meanwhile, the Mirror reports that Hamilton’s management team has undergone yet another change. Just one season into his collaboration with Mika Hakkinen’s former manager Didier Coton, Hamilton has now replaced him with Tom Shine. 28-year-old Hamilton is, however, staying with Simon Fuller’s XIX Management firm.

“Tom is very experienced but Simon Fuller will still be the main man,” a source said. “It was Lewis’ decision. He has made all the decisions and Didier was on a one-year contract.”


Hamilton crashes new Mercedes

On his first day of official running in 2013, Lewis Hamilton crashed the new Mercedes.

The 2008 world champion had done a few filming laps in the silver W04 on Monday, but Wednesday was his first real day of on-track work in the wake of his six years as a McLaren driver.

Briton Hamilton sped over the gravel at the end of the back straight, hitting the tyre wall head-on.

A team spokesman said the cause was a braking problem.

“He managed to slow the car with the front brakes but was unable to avoid the barrier. Lewis is fine,” he said.

It is another blow to Mercedes, after Nico Rosberg’s debut running on Tuesday was cut short by an electrical fire.

“This is really annoying,” chairman Niki Lauda is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

“Yesterday we lost almost the whole day of testing, today again …”


Hamilton: Bosses fools to overlook Kovalainen

Lewis Hamilton on Monday branded those who overlooked Heikki Kovalainen for a 2013 race seat “fools”.

Caterham has swept out last year’s driver lineup – Finn Kovalainen and Russian Vitaly Petrov – in favour of the well-sponsored Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde.

When asked about the demise of his former McLaren teammate, Hamilton said on Monday: “When my flight landed and I was driving to Jerez, I thought about what a great pity it is that Heikki is not here.

“When I think about the drivers that are here, they (team management) must be fools if they prefer them over Heikki,” he is quoted by the Finnish website

“I think Heikki is a high quality driver, very experienced and deserves a place,” the 2008 world champion added.


Brundle tips Hamilton to win race in 2013

Former F1 driver Martin Brundle expects Lewis Hamilton to win a race for Mercedes this year.

But the 53-year-old, who like Hamilton is a former McLaren driver, admitted he would have advised the 2008 world champion to make a different decision as he picked a team for 2013.

“Had I been his manager then I think I would have said ‘let’s do a short-term deal at McLaren, for one or two years, and let’s see what is out there and see who is moving’,” Brundle, who used to be David Coulthard’s manager, said.

“Having said that, I do think Mercedes will be much better this year and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he (Hamilton) wins a race in 2013 — in fact, I would be surprised if he doesn’t win a race because Lewis has got such speed.

“If Mercedes can harness that speed and give him the car, he will drag another quarter of a second per lap out of it somewhere and I think he’ll do a great job,” Brundle, now a TV commentator, told British broadcaster Sky.

“Time will tell,” he said at the Autosport International show in Birmingham.


Hamilton: I want to help Mercedes become top F1 team

With his new Mercedes tenure having now officially begun, Lewis Hamilton says he wants to turn the Brackley based team into a F1 frontrunner.

After six years with McLaren, the 2008 world champion has joined the famous German marque in legend Michael Schumacher’s place.

“Doing better than Schumi?” he is quoted by the Italian broadcaster Mediaset. “I don’t look at it that way. He is a legend, unattainable. Looking to the future, I would be very happy if I can help Mercedes to compete with the top teams,” said Hamilton.

The 27-year-old Briton has had an up-and-down F1 career so far; acknowledged as among the very best, but often embroiled in personality scandals.

“Each of us has a personality,” said Hamilton, “and so you have to be yourself and ignore what people say. The important thing is to be consistent,” he added. “Sometimes you worry, sometimes you don’t. What I’m looking for now is stability in my life.”

As for on-track exploits, Hamilton said: “The pass I like the most is Hakkinen on Schumacher at the end of the straight at Spa (in 2000). But I’ve also done some that I’m proud of,” he smiled.


Hamilton has already started work at Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton has already started work at Mercedes.

Britain’s Sun newspaper said that although the 2008 world champion remains under contract to McLaren for two more weeks, a “deal” has been agreed whereby the 27-year-old can at least meet his new engineers. And the report said Briton Hamilton also got his first taste of Mercedes’ driver simulator last week.

“Lewis has already been in the factory to see the team and fulfil some duties after we found an agreement about that with McLaren,” said Mercedes’ departing head of motor sport, Norbert Haug.

Hamilton has played down his chances of immediately succeeding at Mercedes, saying he will not really be thinking about titles and wins until at least 2014.

“That’s fine,” non-executive chairman Niki Lauda told Welt am Sonntag newspaper. “I don’t really like when drivers say they are going to win every race. For me, a sober, pragmatic analysis of things is better, where you can positively surprise rather than promise something that can’t necessarily be achieved.”

Lauda admitted, however, that Mercedes must improve.

“We have the best engine and the best drivers. Now we need to improve the car a lot before the season.”

But he tipped reigning world champions Red Bull to enter 2013 as the definite favourites.

“Yes, the rules for 2013 are a great advantage for Red Bull, who are already on a high level, to just go on. But in spite of the limited possibilities, we have to try to make two or three steps forward.

“I know one thing: the people in England are highly motivated and have completely understood their failures.”

And Lauda suggested that if Mercedes fails again, it will not be Hamilton’s fault, nor his 2013 teammate Nico Rosberg’s.

“For me, Hamilton-Rosberg is the strongest pairing compared to all the other teams. Take a look at Red Bull and the gap between Vettel and Webber, or Alonso and Massa at Ferrari. Or, even worse, at McLaren and the gap between Button and Perez. Some teams have worlds between their two drivers.

“Another advantage of Hamilton is that he comes with experience of another team, and he can tell us exactly what are the strengths and weaknesses of our car,” added Lauda.


Ron Dennis absent for Hamilton’s McLaren farewell

Ron Dennis did not attend a farewell party for Lewis Hamilton last week in Austin, and he will not be in Brazil for his former protege’s last race for McLaren. The news adds to the perception that Briton Hamilton – who was nurtured through his formative years by the McLaren supremo and brought into F1 in 2007 – has fallen out badly with Dennis over the 27-year-old’s Mercedes switch.

Referring to a farewell party in Austin last weekend, Daily Mail journalist Jonathan McEvoy wrote: “Dennis instead chose to attend what a team spokesman described as ‘an important cocktail reception hosted by Exxon Mobil executives at which he was guest of honour’.” But after Hamilton won the US grand prix, Dennis refused to wear McLaren’s customary ‘rocket-red’ victory t-shirt. And the 65-year-old “has decided not to travel to Sao Paulo for Hamilton’s farewell race”, McEvoy revealed.

Dennis said in Austin last week: “Obviously the media thinks there’s some issue between Lewis and I — there’s absolutely no issue between us. Sometimes the circumstances in a relationship don’t balance, don’t match,” he told the British broadcaster Sky.

But there are rumours Hamilton and Dennis fell out very badly over the negotiations for a new driving contract for 2013 and beyond.

“I do know what has happened,” an unnamed ‘senior figure’ told the Daily Mail. “Everyone makes mistakes and Ron made a mistake. Everything went pear-shaped and I don’t think it would be fair to say any more than that.”

A McLaren spokesman responded: “Ron and Lewis plan to get together socially in the near future, as they’ve both said a number of times recently.”


Rosberg: Hamilton right to bet on long term success for Mercedes

Nico Rosberg has fended off suggestions Lewis Hamilton is unwise to have decided to switch to Mercedes in 2013.

Some have questioned the 2008 world champion’s move from a front-running McLaren to Mercedes, whose Michael Schumacher failed to score a point despite finishing the race in Abu Dhabi recently.

Explaining the Brackley based team’s slump, German Rosberg said: “We have changed the scale of our wind tunnel from 50 to 60 per cent.

“It’s a very complicated job but we anticipate to be more competitive in 2013.”

Asked if Hamilton’s move from McLaren is surprising, he insisted: “Not at all. He is one of the best drivers available.”

That, however, explains Mercedes’ decision to pursue the highly rated Briton; not Hamilton’s decision to flee established grandee McLaren.

“He is thinking about the long-term,” Rosberg said. “This is a strong team that is developing more and more and will certainly succeed eventually.”

‘Eventually’ is the keyword — Hamilton has already said he doubts he will win races next season.

“I think he’s leaving space open for something spectacular,” Rosberg smiled. “Anyway, I have learned not to comment on quotes that are reported by newspapers!”


Glock always beats Vettel – at chess

Reigning back-to-back world champion and 2012 points leader Sebastian Vettel has admitted that F1 backmarker Timo Glock always beats him — in a game of chess.

Switzerland’s Blick newspaper reports that Red Bull driver Vettel only discovered his love of the famous board game in the past few weeks. So far, the German has played mostly against his countryman Glock, who drives for Marussia.

“Timo is the only one who is giving me real problems this year,” laughed Vettel. “Because he always wins!”

This weekend will be Vettel’s 100th grand prix, where in Austin the 25-year-old could theoretically wrap up his third consecutive drivers’ championship.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Lewis Hamilton’s latest pastime is recording music in a $2,400 per day London studio, the Sun newspaper reports.

“He’s very passionate about music and wants his work to be of good quality,” said a source. “He’s got the cash, so why not? But he has no intention of becoming a pop star.”


Villeneuve: Mercedes should have used Hamilton-Schumacher pairing

Jacques Villeneuve says he does not think Mercedes has made the right choice in pairing Lewis Hamilton with Nico Rosberg next year.

The 1997 world champion does not, however, question the German marque’s decision to poach Hamilton from McLaren. Instead, Villeneuve wonders about his former title nemesis Michael Schumacher’s exit.

“Why is he stopping?” the 41-year-old told Switzerland’s Motorsport Aktuell. “I don’t understand. Hamilton-Schumacher would be much better than what they do have for next year,” the outspoken Villeneuve insisted.

But German Rosberg insists he is “very happy” with how he has compared against the great Schumacher since 2010, even though the pairing have been more closely matched this season.

“It’s true that Michael has had bad luck, but so have I,” Rosberg told Germany’s Auto Bild. And in their qualifying head-to-head in 2012, Schumacher and Rosberg have been very evenly matched.

“As far as qualifying is concerned, there is nothing special to say about it,” Rosberg insisted. “For three years I have had the upper hand, which is more than I had expected at the beginning. I am very happy with it,” he added.