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GP Week : Issue 217
F1 >>> nEWs BriEFly HAMILTON sIGNs ON Though yet to be confirmed, it's understood Lewis Hamilton has signed a new deal with Mercedes until the end of 2018. Negotiations were initially put off during 2014 as the squad battled for the chapionship with the new deal signed in the days ahead of the Malaysian GP. FIrsT VICTIM Hamilton became the first driver to fall foul the new helmet rules limiting drivers to a single design for the seaosn. Hamilton had hoped to use a green version of his usual design in honour of sponsors Petronas, which instead it sat on a shelf at the front of the garage all weekend. MArCIeLLO DeBuTs Having made his F1 debut at last years end of season test, Sauber test and reserve driver Raffaele Marciello was given his first taste of a Grand Prix weekend when he repalced Felipe Nasr during opening practice in Malaysia. The Italian recorded the 13th fastest time. VAN Der GArDe seTTLes In the days after the Australian Grand Prix, Geido Van Der Garde and Sauber reached a settlement which ended the legal action the Dutchman brought against the team which caused it so much emabarassment in Melbourne. Details of the settlement were not released, though Peter Sauber said the price was "too high." lovE And WAr After a tough Australian Grand Prix, a war of words broke out between red Bull and engine supplier renault, with each pointing fingers at the other. Throughout the opening weekend of the season all four Red Bull and Toro Rosso drivers complained of poor drivability - the throttle making the car snappy and unpredictable. The relationship with Renault wasn't helped by Adrian Newey, Red Bull's Technical Direc tor, who suggested Renault was being less than helpful. "It's ver y frustrating that we've been pushed into a position where we've got an engine which is quite a long way behind with no obvious light at the end of the tunnel," Newey said in Australia. "We keep trying to offer help and try to be involved but there seems to be a real reluctance to engage." Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul struck back through the French press. "Adrian is a charming man and an engineer without parallel," he told Auto Hedbo, "but he's spent his life criticising engine par tners. He's too old to change his ways." According to Abiteboul the failings with the Red Bull do not lie solely in the engine, which he concedes is not where it should be, but with the chassis too. "It’s therefore the overall package that needs some help and we have been working with the team to move forward." Much of the problem in Melbourne was Red Bull's insistence for new developments to be rushed onto the car before being fully tested by Renault. During practice in Malaysia the team rever ted to parts used in winter testing, Daniel Ricciardo confirming the drivability problem "doesn't stand out like a sore-thumb" any longer. Indeed by the time crews touched down in Kuala Lumpur the spat, which had been highlighted by Abiteboul calling Newey a liar, had been all but smoothed over. Both Abiteboul and Horner were present at Friday's press conference and combined to put on a rather more united front. "Melbourne was a big disappointment for the whole team and when I say the whole team it's Red Bull, Renault and it's Toro Rosso, so those t wo guys and myself were all emtremely disappointed," Abiteboul claimed. " We were not where we wanted to be," he added. "I think this has created a lot of frustration and maybe led to some comments that were unjustified on both sides." " The frustration more thana ny thing coming into the first race was that expectations were higher than what we saw in Melbourne, and we appear to have taken a retrograde step," added Horner. " W hat's encouraging is the way that the t wo teams have reacted bet ween Melbourne and here, and the positive steps that have been made." But still there remains some niggle bet ween the camps, not least of which because Renault has made no secret of the fact it's considering returning to the sport as a constructor, with Toro Rosso a possible takeover target. "This would be a fantastic opportunity for Toro Rosso to make the nex t step forward," chimed team boss Franz Tost. "To work together with a manufacturer, to be owned by a manufacturer would be exactly this step forward which the team needs." 9 GPWEEK.com // 9 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: