Much to discuss as F1 takes a break

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IOL mot jul29 f1 crowds Getty Images Boosting the crowds will be a topic of discussion between F1 boss Ecclestone and teams. File photo: Drew Gibson.

Budapest - Formula One headed for its annual holidays on Monday with some drivers looking forward to the break more than others and plenty to talk about before the next race in Belgium.

“I'm not so excited about going into the summer break, as we speak,” championship-leading Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg told reporters after finishing fourth and behind team mate Lewis Hamilton in Hungary on Sunday.

“Hopefully I will be excited, but it's going to take some time,” added the downcast German, whose overall lead was cut to 11 points.

Mercedes will want to resolve behind closed doors the latest flare-up between their drivers after Hamilton ignored a request to allow Rosberg, on a different strategy, to overtake him at the Hungaroring.

“We have to discuss internally. That's the best way forward for us as a team,” said Rosberg. “We need to discuss it, we will discuss it, and we will see how we move forward.”

The team's non-executive chairman Niki Lauda reckoned the break would take care of matters, however, “because drivers forget quickly.

“After the holidays they start completely normal again,” said the Austrian, who backed Hamilton's actions.

Of equally pressing importance for the dominant team is getting to the bottom of the reliability problems that have now hit Hamilton for the last two races.

In Germany he suffered a front brake disc failure and in Hungary a fuel leak set the car on fire before he had set a lap time in qualifying, forcing the Briton to start from the pitlane.

“Whenever you have a failure on an engine or a car, you have to do a better job,” said Lauda. “(Technical head) Paddy (Lowe) and (engine head) Andy Cowell will take care of this right away on Monday. They have to fix all these problems and they will.

“I'm sure we have learned lots here, especially on Lewis's engine problem, and we have to fix it. In the next races it will be fixed.”

IMPROVING THE SHOW

Another key meeting will be between the sport's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone and selected teams to discuss ways of boosting viewing figures and crowds in some markets.

Team bosses met Ecclestone in Hungary on Saturday and a more restricted group is set to gather again during the break to discuss ideas.

One senior team source said champions Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari and Force India would attend and Ecclestone had also suggested the involvement of controversial former Renault team boss Flavio Briatore.

Briatore has been out of Formula One since 2009, when he was barred for a Singapore Grand Prix race-fixing scandal that saw Renault's Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet junior crash deliberately to help the team win.

While races in Canada, Britain and Austria saw capacity crowds, this month's German Grand Prix attracted only 52,000 people on the Sunday at a home race for Mercedes, Rosberg and Red Bull's quadruple champion Sebastian Vettel.

There has been nothing wrong with the racing itself, with this season serving up some thrillers including Hungary, but there is agreement that much more needs to be done to promote the sport.

This season marked the start of a new, quieter V6 turbo engine era and that has been accompanied by considerable negativity from those missing the ear-splitting noise of previous years.

“Bernie expressed a wish to discuss with teams about how we can improve the show of Formula One,” Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff told reporters in Hungary, suggesting the media could also be involved.

“A couple of guys will sit together, because it's difficult to do when you invite everybody and come up with priorities and solutions,” added the Austrian.

Reuters



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