Lowe plays down fuel concerns

Paddy Lowe, centre, believes the fuel element is 'being overplayed'

Paddy Lowe, centre, believes the fuel element is 'being overplayed'

First published in National Sport News © by

Paddy Lowe is adamant Lewis Hamilton's more cavalier style of racing will not prove detrimental to him getting across the finishing line this year.

Lowe is Mercedes' executive director (technical), and who makes up a third of those in charge of the Brackley-based team following Ross Brawn's departure as team principal at the end of last season.

Mercedes and Hamilton have been installed as favourites for the title after a solid pre-season in which the car, the W05, appeared reliable and quick in the face of game-changing regulations.

One concern, however, is Hamilton has often come across as a gung-ho driver at times rather than someone who plays the long game over the course of a race.

With the fuel limit down from 150kg (around 140-150 litres) to 100kg from this season, managing that particular element will be crucial.

It is why the suggestion is the new rules suit the strengths better of the more academic Nico Rosberg.

A dismissive Lowe, however, said: "I think that aspect (the fuel) is being overplayed.

"It will be a factor in races, but I hope we won't see it as a dominating factor.

"There were occasions last year when we stopped a driver from pushing to the limit every lap, with Lewis an example, which is sometimes very frustrating.

"But that has been the case in Formula One over most of its many years of existence, that managing tyres and fuel has been a factor.

"It will still be a factor in 2014, but I hope not so dominating that it will be detrimental to the spectacle."

Lowe concedes that despite a few "really tough days" during testing, he is "happy" with his team's progress.

Unlike previous years when stability with the regulations meant teams often masked their true performance in testing, that has not been the case for the three four-day tests this season.

It is why Mercedes and Williams appear to be the frontrunners, with reigning four-time champions Red Bull languishing back in the pack due to a miserable time with reliability.

Lowe, though, is taking nothing for granted as he said: "What we've seen during the winter looks encouraging.

"But we've also seen plenty of other strong contenders out there and the picture could easily change before we get to Melbourne.

"There are a lot of good teams on this grid who can respond well to challenges.

"We could well see a few surprises, so we've got to keep working hard on every front to ensure we are competitive."

Lowe is also wary of maybe having missed a trick or two, adding: "This is always a nerve-wracking time of year.

"It's very interesting and exciting to see what everyone else has come up with.

"But you're equally terrified of potentially seeing something you didn't think of, either through a clever innovation or a different interpretation of the rules.

"We're only in the very early stages of the year, so people will be bringing upgrades which you'll certainly want to keep an eye on."

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