Lewis Hamilton has said that there is no top driver at Mercedes.
In the latter stages of the Malaysian Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg repeatedly asked if he could take third place from his team-mate saying he was ‘too slow’. This has led to speculation that Hamilton was lured to Mercedes from Mclaren with a contract stating he was to be top driver for the team.
However Hamilton has refuted these claims. “It didn’t,” Hamilton said, talking about the contract negotiations. “I remember just saying to Ross [Brawn] that I wanted equality in the team.
Red Bull’s Helmut Marko has said that he believes Hamilton was promised preferential treatment by Mercedes.
“I think that is rubbish,” Hamilton said. “They [Red Bull] have a clear one and two – they always have and that is why they have the problem they have always had.
“We don’t have a one and two here. I have always said, from the moment I was speaking to the team, that i wanted equality and that I didn’t want to be favoured.
“They didn’t even offer to fvaour me but I just wanted to make the point that i am not a driver that comes and requests that like a lot of other dtivers do. you have to be able to look yourself in the mirror and say you won fair and square.
“Just like in Malaysia I don’t feel like I won my spot fair and square. Although I did drive a decent race, I don’t feel spectacular about it.”
Fancy owning a piece of Formula One history? A ‘forgotten’ F1 car is to be auctioned off at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July.
The car in question is a 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 that was driven by Juan Manuel Fangio. The car is special because it featured a lot of innovative technology including a fuel-injected engine, all-round inboard-mounted brakes and a lightweight chassis.
The car will be sold ‘as is’ with all it’s blemishes and dirt. The car has been stored in a warehouse for the past three decades and is said to have been ‘largely forgotten about’.
The 2 1/2 litre eight-cylinder single-seater is the car that Fangio won the 1954 German and Swiss Grand Prixs in.
Lewis Hamilton is happy with the fifth place he secured at the 2013 F1 season opener in Melbourne.
“I always like to go forwards rather than backwards, but overall it is a really good step for the team,” Hamilton commented. “It was great. I’m really happy, way better than we ever expected for the first grand prix, so it’s a good place to start.
“We’ve a good platform to work from. The car felt good and I enjoyed every moment. The only thing is we’re going to have to figure out where we lost time to other people.
“I don’t know how they managed to pull away from us so quickly at the start, but we’ll keep pushing and we’ll get there eventually.
“We’ve a good chance to close up because we’ve some good things in the pipeline. I really feel we can compete with those guys.”
However Hamilton is won’t be drawn on whether he thinks the Mercedes is a winning car.
“Only time will tell,” he said. “If we look back maybe some of the guys will feel a bit frustrated we didn’t finish where we started from, or even further forward. But that’s a good feeling to have because we came here not knowing what would happen.”
Commenting on next week’s race in Malaysia Hamilton said, “It’s going to be tough, but hopefully we can have a better race there and get a better result.”
Specialist publications are reporting a secret of the apparent speed of Mercedes’ new W04 car — a system known in the German squad’s garage as ‘Fric’.
German television RTL is saying it probably stands for ‘front and rear interactive control’, or in other words a type of legal active suspension.
Electronically-active suspension is not allowed, but an hydraulically-controlled layout could be a key to Mercedes’ unmatched pace in the twisty middle sector at the final Barcelona test recently.
Auto Motor und Sport said the Brackley based team has been “tinkering with the system for three years”. The report said Sauber is also now working on a version.
Having recently stepped down at Air Berlin, it is rumoured Niki Lauda could be looking to return to the world of aviation.
As he became a shareholder and the chairman at Mercedes’ works team, the famous Austrian stepped down from an existing management position at Air Berlin.
The business newspaper Handelsblatt speculated last month that Lauda “wants to dedicate his future to his role in formula one”.
But the Austrian daily Der Standard is now reporting that Alitalia, Italy’s struggling national airline, has targeted former triple world champion Lauda for the role of managing director.
“We do not comment on these media indiscretions,” an Alitalia spokesperson told the APA news agency.
And Lauda told Die Presse newspaper: “I’ve heard the rumours but no one has spoken to me — not even the journalists who peddle the story.”
Mercedes is better than McLaren at putting “the focus on the driver”, Lewis Hamilton has claimed after moving teams for the first time after six years in formula one.
It is believed one of the reasons the 2008 world champion decided to leave McLaren is because Mercedes was offering a lighter deal in terms of the team’s non-driving expectations.
“We still have sponsors, sponsors’ appearances and filming days,” he told reporters at the final Barcelona test on Thursday.
“There is not a huge difference. (Just that) the focus is on the driver, the driver’s performance, the driver being ready for the job at hand.
“That’s one thing I’m noticing is a little bit better here,” added Hamilton.
Having sat out the launch of the new MP4-28, McLaren’s technical director Paddy Lowe will now not travel to Australia for the 2013 opener.
The news continues the saga of Lowe’s uncertain future, with the Guardian newspaper claiming on Monday that a move to Mercedes for the 50-year-old is “a done deal”.
“He will join the team in time to oversee the massive (rule) changes for 2014,” said journalist Paul Weaver.
Weaver explained that Lowe will remain under contract to McLaren this year, but he will be on so-called ‘gardening leave’ in order to protect the Woking based team’s technical secrets.
Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn insisted recently that his position is safe, but Weaver thinks Lowe could eventually take over “unless Mercedes make significant progress” in the near future.
According to Niki Lauda, Mercedes has taken “an important step forwards” since the end of the 2012 season.
“We’re not looking at wins at the moment,” Briton Hamilton, who has moved from McLaren over the winter, said after testing the new W04 late last week in Barcelona. “As I’ve said, we’re hoping to be fighting in the top ten.”
Most insiders believe Hamilton’s caution lies somewhere between pessimism and reality. Triple world champion Lauda, at least, sounds more confident.
“I don’t mean that we are better than Red Bull,” he told Brazil’s O Estado de S.Paulo. “It seems they again have the fastest car. But we have taken an important step forwards compared to last year,” added Lauda.
“Our car was born well, with no chronic problems, and with great potential to develop it, which is what we’re doing.
“I think we have put ourselves in the group with McLaren, Ferrari and Lotus,” he said. “The differences between us are very small, as is the difference between the group (of chasing teams) and Red Bull.”
Lauda thinks Hamilton is preparing to over-deliver on his expectations for his first season with Mercedes.
“I believe Lewis saw the challenge to win with Mercedes as great, but probably less now than what he (first) imagined,” said the famous red cap-wearing Austrian.
Daniel Juncadella, who has been signed up by Mercedes for the DTM season in 2013, has played down reports he is set to also become the German marque’s F1 reserve driver.
Spanish and German media sources said last week that the reigning European F3 champion – a 21-year-old Spaniard – looked set to combine his new DTM role with a role as third driver for Mercedes’ Brackley based team.
Juncadella admitted to Spain’s AS newspaper that he heard the very same rumours.
But he said: “You have to remember that I have never sat in the (2013 Mercedes) car and so far have done only one formula one test for Ferrari. So now I can replace Hamilton in an emergency?” he asked rhetorically.
Juncadella confirmed, however, that his management is in talks with Mercedes about a F1 role.
“I can imagine combining DTM with some tasks in the formula one team, perhaps as a development driver, but not the third driver,” he insisted. “This would help me a lot,” he added.
Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche has played down expectations ahead of Mercedes’ fourth-consecutive season as a works formula one team.
The Brackley based team has made big changes for 2013; swapping Michael Schumacher for Lewis Hamilton, ousting Norbert Haug and installing Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff in upper management.
“It was evident in the last few years that we have had a good engine, maybe the best, and good drivers, but we were not competitive because of the chassis,” Zetsche said in an interview with Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper. “We did not get to the level that is expected of Mercedes, so the team management had to be reinforced,” he insisted.
Zetsche sounded happy with Lauda and Wolff, who were recruited not just as bosses but also shareholders of the Brackley based team.
But he warned: “Improvements are of course not immediately visible after the nomination of new people. We should not expect any miracles this year.
“With the new engine next year, we will have more of a chance to implement what we want now,” said Zetsche.
Nico Rosberg, who has been with Mercedes since the start of the current project in 2010, has sounded very confident this winter and is predicting race wins. New recruit Hamilton, however, has been much more guarded, and is quoted by Germany’s SID news agency after the Barcelona test: “The best part of our car is the engine.
“The weakest part is the downforce. Vettel and Alonso say that Mercedes can fight for the title? I don’t really see it like that at the moment.”