Mercedes find cause of engine failure
Mercedes have found the fault which caused Lewis Hamilton to lose Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix following an engine failure. Mercedes have also issued revised running parameters for all their cars at this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Hamilton’s engine blew up in the closing stages of the race when he looked on course for the win when his engine expired. Mercedes flew there engine back to the UK to find out the cause of the failure which was a bearing failure. Mercedes say “Our analysis has shown that Lewis’ engine suffered a big-end bearing failure. This happened without warning after 618km and was preceded by a loss of oil pressure in Turn 15.”
“For this race weekend, Lewis will revert to his Singapore unit and Nico will use his Malaysia engine.” The manufacturer has issued different parameters across all eight cars that run their power unit and issued revised customer units to five drivers. This is “to contain further possible learning from the strip of the failure unit.”
The latest set back comes at a key moment in the title race as Hamilton’s retirement in Malaysia allowed team-mate Nico Rosberg to open a 23-point world championship advantage with just five races to go.
Mercedes technical chief Paddy Lowe admitted “we let Lewis down in a big way” and the team’s engineers are working hard to ensure the problem will be “contained for the remainder of the season”.
Offering new perspective – Button
Jenson Button says he can offer McLaren a new perspective next year as he takes a break from the sport. Button will not race next season, but has a two year deal with the team with an option for 2018.
Button says he will only attend “a few” of next season’s expected 21 races, he reckons he can help McLaren to progress in a new way. Speaking at a Honda event Button said “I won’t be developing the car as I won’t be driving in it, my involvement will be more helping the team develop as a whole.”
“I have a lot of experience of working with different teams from a driver’s point of view, but when you step back and you have a look at the team there will be areas where I can see that we will need work.” Button added when your in F1 you can’t focus on anything else as the sport takes over your life.
Button and McLaren will be hoping for a better home race for Honda than last year when they were struggling to be in the points. Button’s long F1 career could now have five races to run and, ahead of a Suzuka race he won impressively in 2011, the former champion is targeting ending the campaign on a high.
Magnussen throws the gauntlet to Renault
Kevin Magnussen has thrown down the gauntlet to his Renault team to decide whether to retain him for 2017. The Dane has already agreed with the French car company to take his option up only to arrive at that race uncertain over his F1 future.
Renault had been targeting Sergio Perez who has resigned for Force India and Carlos Sainz Jr has resigned for Toro Rosso which has left them with Mercedes backed Esteban Ocon. Also Magnussen and rookie team-mate Jolyon Palmer are also still in the frame.
Magnussen hoped offering the team more time to decide, but he is technically now free to look for a drive elsewhere, would highlight his commitment to Renault’s cause. He told the media at Suzuka “It shows very clearly that I want to continue here.”
“We’ve had good dialogue, positive conversations. I know what the situation is, more or less. I’ve given them more time to get things sorted. That’s what I wanted to signal, to say I’m willing to wait. I’ve given them two weeks. Hopefully there will be a decision by those two weeks.”
Magnussen says he understand the situation and he believes Renault will go far and hopes he can be with the team for a long time. He hinted the delay could be commercial considerations, with Renault currently investing in expanding the infrastructure at its Enstone base.
I was not unusually aggressive – Vettel
Sebastian Vettel believes he was not driving unusually aggressively when he collided with Nico Rosberg at the start of the Malaysian Grand Prix. Vettel launched an attack down the inside of Max Verstappen into the first corner, but locked up and hit Rosberg, spinning the Mercedes around.
Vettel took himself out of the race but Rosberg was able to salvaged third to retake the lead of the world title after Lewis Hamilton’s retirement. Rosberg said the Ferrari driver was “out of control”, while the stewards took a dim view and handed Vettel a three-place penalty for this weekend’s race at Suzuka.
When it was put to Vettel, who phoned Rosberg up to discuss the incident, that it seemed like he was driving differently to usual, he said: “I’m a bit surprised you say you’ve never seen me like this. I’ve attacked quite a lot of cars in all the starts that I did in my life into Turn 1 and most of the time got away with it.”
“Sometimes I didn’t and I guess last time was one of the occasions where it just didn’t work.” Vettel believes he was in control at Turn 1 because he feels he made the corner.
“I went to the inside and obviously was able to go side-by-side with Max. As it turned out, I was probably a little bit too late in comparison to the first two cars but I made the corner, it’s not a problem.
“I’m not shooting straight like crazy, so of course it is a risk and in that case it didn’t get rewarded. It was quite bad for Nico because he had nothing to do with it.”
Vettel said he had phoned Rosberg after the race to explain what happened. Ferrari have struggled for performance as the season and have fallen behind Red Bull in the constructors’ championship. But the German says he hasn’t felt out of his comfort zone.
Aussie strippers walk free
Nine Australian men who were arrested for stripping to their underwear during the Malaysian Grand Prix have been allowed to walk free after being charged with public nuisance, which carries a fine but no jail time.
The men were detained after posing in swimwear decorated with the Malaysian flag to celebrate Australian Daniel Ricciardo’s win in Sunday’s race. In a letter read out in court, they apologised and expressed their “deepest regret”.
They said the incident was “purely an error of judgement” on their behalf. One of the men is a aide to Australian Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne. John Walker father of the aide told the media outside the court after the hearing, saying that his son and the other eight were “good boys”.
One of the men, Thomas Whitworth, fainted during the proceedings and had to be given water. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told Nine Network earliuer this week that may be seen as a foolish prank in Australia could be viewed very differently in other countries.
“I don’t know that it will be seen as a lapse of judgment,” she said. “It was clearly premeditated. They were wearing the budgie smugglers and had bought them in Australia.”
Lawyers say that they were part-time lifeguards, so stripping down came quite naturally to them.
A spokesperson from Budgy Smuggler, the swimwear company behind the swimwear, said it would not produce the Malaysian flag design again.
Alonso to race new engine
Fernando Alonso will race this weekend with the latest specification of Honda’s engine after encouraging results from analysis conducted at its factory.
Honda had spent one engine development token on the engine block and one token on a new lightweight exhaust, but only Alonso ran the upgrade during Friday practice at last weekend’s Malaysian GP.
The engine was then removed from the car so Honda could correlate the data and to get round the engine rules because he had exceeded his allocation this season. By running in practice Alonso can now race without the penalty this weekend.
After looking at the data gathered, Honda has chosen to put it back in Alonso’s car for the Japanese GP weekend and plans to run that unit until the end of the season.
Jenson Button is believed to get his upgrade from Honda in Austin because of the penalty if he would take it this weekend.