Hamilton fastest in testing
Lewis Hamilton was fastest at the post season tyre testing at the Yas Marina Circuit. However the world champion only test for Mercedes during the morning after feeling unwell and was replace by Manor’s Pascal Wehrlein.
Hamilton set his fastest time on the wider tyres in a modified 2015 car as Rosberg was unable to drive because of sponsors commitments. The out going world champion was testing alongside the Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, along with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
The regulation changes for next season mean tyres will be around 25 percent wider, with rears up from 325mm to 405, and fronts up from 245 to 305.
All the teams are using ‘mule’ cars, based on their 2015 machines but modified to simulate the higher levels of downforce expected under next year’s rules.
Wolff dilemma over Hamilton’s actions
Mercedes say there in no rush to take disciplinary action over Lewis Hamilton’s race tactics during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The outgoing world champion deliberately backed Nico Rosberg up into the Red Bull’s to allow them to pass and push him off the podium which would allowed him to retain his title.
This annoyed the team after they repeatedly ignored orders from the team to speed up as they felt the win was under treat. Hamilton knew he needed two cars between him and Rosberg to take his fourth title. The outgoing three time champion argued earlier last week he was the moral champion because he had more technical failures on his car than Rosberg during the season.
Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff told BBC News “We need to look at the overall situation and say ‘what does it mean?’.
“Everything is possible – from ‘let’s change the rules next year because it doesn’t work in those critical races and maybe we want to give them even more freedom in racing each other’, to the more harsh side that we feel the team’s values were not respected.
Wolff says he understands why Hamilton did what he did, but he added he is responsible to a global car giant. Saying he is in two minds adding the team values of Mercedes are “pretty clear” and “it cannot make a difference whether it was the first or last race”.
“Those principles and values have won us races and championships and so this is one side. And the other side, me the racer, says maybe I would have done the same.”
Sauber priority driver line up
Monisha Kaltenborn says her Sauber team’s priority now is to sign a driver to drive alongside Marcus Ericsson next season following his announcement that he is to remain with the team.
However while team-mate Felipe Nasr was expected to stay with the team next season, but talks have been stalled following problems with his main sponsor Banco do Brasil. Autosport say they understand current Manor driver Pascal Wehrlein is favourite to replace him, with Rio Haryanto also a strong contender.
Sauber priory over recent weeks has appeared to be the off track team including signing Jorg Zander as technical director and now it appears there focus have shifted to drivers. She told the magazine “The second seat is what we want to sort out as soon as possible. With the new car, everything is on schedule.”
Nasr had talks which ultimately failed, with Force India, Williams and Renault alongside discussions with Sauber about a seat next year, remains hopeful he can stay in F1.
“I cannot change the past or whatever has been decided. All I can do is look for the now, for the solution.” Said Nasr. The priority he says is to remain in Formula One but there is no guarantees.
Nasr is also exploring the possibility of landing a drive at Manor and is not yet entertaining the idea of anything other than a F1 race drive.
Horner expected Hamilton’s actions
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says he expected Lewis Hamilton to back up team-mate Nico Rosberg during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Speaking the week before the race Horner said that Hamilton’s only option to win the title was to play a tactical game of trying to slow Rosberg down so that other cars could overtake him.
Horner was asked if he was surprised with the extent t’hat Hamilton backed up he said he wouldn’t have expected him to do anything differently. Horner told Motorsport.com “He played completely within the rules. Winning the race wasn’t going to be enough for him today.”
“He needed cars between him and if he’d have charged off into the distance he would never have…that wouldn’t have created that possibility.” Horner added it was totally obvious that Hamilton was going to do that.
Mercedes say they had been unsure about whether or not Hamilton would back Rosberg up or race off in to the distance to prove a point. Horner was asked what he would of done he said “We know that Toto likes to control most things in the paddock including other teams’ drivers… so you could not expect any different.”
“They are racing for a world championship, the drivers’ world championship. There are only two guys in it and they are both in the same car.
Horner says that Hamilton drove within the rules, tactical and it would be unfair to criticise Lewis for the way he drove. He wanted to get the result he needed added horner.
When asked if the tensions at Mercedes were something that Red Bull could exploit, Horner said: “I understand that Toto has suggested Lewis followed my instruction rather than his and he should come and drive for Red Bull, but maybe it works better to talk directly to the driver rather than the father.”
Intense emotions for Rosberg
Nico Rosberg says his overtake on Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was the most “intense” emotions he has felt inside a racing car. The new world champion says that his overtake on Verstappen was a “critical” move in his title hope according to his engineer.
Verstappen was trying a one stop strategy meaning Rosberg needed to pass him. But that was going to be tough as the nineteen year old has proved himself to be one of the hardest to overtake, with Interlagos proving himself to be a tough opponent.
Rosberg admits that in his context of the championship getting pass Verstappen was more special. On Sunday he told Sky Sports “Tony [Ross, Rosberg’s race engineer] saying it’s critical we pass Verstappen for the championship…holy moly, seriously!”
“The feelings that I had in the battle and right after when I realised that I passed him, I’ve never had that in a race car before ever in my life.” Added Rosberg. At Hockenheim, Rosberg was headed a penalty for running Verstappen off the road.
In Abu Dhabi, they had another intense fight over second whbile Hamilton tried to engineer a result to see him retain his championship. But Rosberg hung on to remain ahead sealing his title.
Rosberg said that Verstappen “went full-on aggressive of course, he didn’t given an inch, as usual but fair play, we didn’t collide and I got by, so that felt amazingly good.”
Monza sign contract for Italian GP
Monza has finally agreed a deal to hold the Italian Grand Prix until 2019 after signing a provisional deal in August. The circuit was still working out the finer details and resolving a legal dispute with Imola.
“The renewal of the contract for the [Italian Grand Prix] at Monza has been signed,” the circuit announced on Twitter.
The head of the Italian motorsport federation (ACI) Angelo Sticchi Damiani said: “We have avoided the possibility that, after 70 years, Italy could lose the most prestigious, historic and fascinating automobile races in the world.
“Now we move forward together, with the goal of making the grand prix at Monza an even more important event that fascinates and attracts more and more fans worldwide.”