Latest F1 news in brief
- Government vows to save Canada GP
- Honda admits need to reform F1
- Alonso does u-turn on engine freeze gripe
- Glock uses 'joker' engine change
- Buemi pilots F1 medical car
- Berger surprised at new Heidfeld contract
- Honda trial 'traffic lights' pitstop system
- Alonso would not have 'fit' at BMW - Kubica
- Heidfeld's BMW given FIA 'freeze' all-clear
Government vows to save Canada GP
(GMM) Local and federal levels of government have vowed to step in and help rescue the axed Canadian grand prix.
Canada's federal minister of international trade Michael Fortier, who spoke with F1's Bernie Ecclestone by phone, met with Quebec's economic development minister and Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay on Thursday.
"The grand prix is an event that we cannot afford to lose, and that we will not lose," Fortier is quoted as saying by the Globe and Mail.
A meeting with Ecclestone, to take place in about 10 days, is reported to be the next step.
Fortier and Tremblay both confirmed that a multi-million dollar debt to Formula One Management is at the heart of the dispute.
Honda admits need to reform F1
(GMM) Even F1's biggest-spending teams seem ready to compromise on drastic cost-cutting measures for formula one.
Nick Fry, the Honda team's chief executive, wrote in a column for the Daily Telegraph that he backs a 30 per cent budget reduction, and even more radical ideas like a standard engine design.
"We need to reduce the cost of competing by 25 per cent to a third in the short to medium term and improve the revenue flow," he said.
"There is a move to standardize engines and make them last longer, which will contribute to the cost-cutting drive, and to distribute prize money more equitably so that those teams at the bottom get an equal share of the proceeds," Fry added.
He acknowledged that the global financial crisis is putting "a number of teams" under pressure, even though big hitters like Honda are "relatively less affected".
"At the other end of the scale, there are private teams reliant on sponsorship from companies that are clearly under the most enormous pressure, be it a bank or a commercial sponsor," Fry said.
"A grid with 10 healthy teams should be preserved," he explained. "Unless we do something now some teams that are more exposed to commercial issues, the independent teams, are not going to be around."
Alonso does u-turn on engine freeze gripe
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has performed a u-turn on his earlier claim that the engine freeze is unfair to some teams.
The former double world champion, who has not yet committed to Renault for the 2009 season, previously said the French squad has fallen behind because other teams adhered less stringently to the current freeze on engine development.
Since then, the FIA has announced that an equalization of engine superiority among the grid will take place.
"If that happens I do not know if it is right or wrong," Alonso, 27, is quoted as saying by the Spanish press from Fuji Speedway.
"I don't feel very good about it, because on the one hand there is a freezing of engines for five years, and then after two years it is changed."
The Spaniard suggested that "a little more consistency" in the regulations would not be remiss.
Coyly, Alonso also told reporters that he has basically made a decision about his plans for 2009, but refused to reveal any more.
"Yes, I have taken a decision, more or less," he said, "but I am not going to announce anything until after the Brazilian grand prix."
Glock uses 'joker' engine change
(GMM) Toyota's Timo Glock will have a fresh V8 engine installed for the official action at Fuji Speedway this weekend.
The change is unscheduled, but the German avoids a penalty because of the 'joker' rule allowing one free change per season.
With only three races left to run in 2008, the decision to play Glock's joker at Fuji Speedway is astute.
It means that after next Sunday's Chinese grand prix, he can fit another fresh 2.4 liter engine that must only last the season ending Brazilian GP, rather than the usual two.
Buemi pilots F1 medical car
(GMM) Red Bull test driver Sebastien Buemi has at Fuji Speedway taken over the duty of driving the official formula one medical car.
The young Swiss' Honda counterpart Alex Wurz stepped into the cabin of the Mercedes C63 AMG Estate in Singapore two weeks ago, after the regular medical car driver Jacques Tropenat fell ill.
It is understood that Tropenat, the FIA's deputy director of medical affairs, has an ear infection.
In other brief news from the Japanese grand prix, it emerges that a group of Honda engineers climbed the majestic nearby Mt Fuji earlier this week.
Unlike in the abysmal weather of a year ago, Japan's highest mountain can in 2008 easily be seen in the background at Fuji Speedway.
Berger surprised at new Heidfeld contract
(GMM) Gerhard Berger, formerly joint BMW motor sport director, has expressed mild surprise at the renewal of Nick Heidfeld's contract to race with the Hinwil based formula one team.
The ten time grand prix winner, who is now the high profile co-owner of the Toro Rosso team, rates at least a quarter of the current grid more highly than the 31-year-old German driver, who has struggled at times in 2008.
"Nick is a good driver," Berger told the Munchener Abendzeitung newspaper, "but he is not of the caliber of Raikkonen, Alonso, Kubica, Rosberg or Vettel."
Honda trial 'traffic lights' pitstop system
(GMM) Just as Ferrari abandons its unique 'traffic lights' approach to F1 pitstops, rival team Honda has begun testing a near-identical concept at the scene of the Japanese grand prix.
The Brackley based squad does not intend to replace the traditional 'lollipop' system either at Fuji Speedway or elsewhere in 2008.
But Honda, led by the former long time Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn, did trial the system during pitstop practice in the pitlane on Thursday.
It is believed the system, to be further tested over the forthcoming winter period, is being evaluated in view of a possible debut next season.
Meanwhile, it is rumored in the Fuji paddock that - despite the calamity during Felipe Massa's pitstop in Singapore two weeks ago - Ferrari might reintroduce a tweaked traffic lights system at some point in the future.
It is believed that Honda's new system can only trigger a green light if the fuel hose is removed from the car, irrespective of any manual button controls operated by mechanics.
Alonso would not have 'fit' at BMW - Kubica
(GMM) Fernando Alonso did not switch to BMW-Sauber because he would not have "fit" with the German squad's approach to formula one.
That is the suggestion of BMW's Robert Kubica, a close friend of the Spanish driver.
Pole Kubica, 23, has elected to stay with the Hinwil based squad next year, and earlier this season enthused at the rumors linking Alonso with a 2009 seat, declaring that the pair would "have a lot of fun" as teammates.
But he now tells Bild newspaper: "I think Fernando was never convinced about coming to BMW. As far as I know him, he would not have fit.
"There are differences of philosophies," Kubica added.
Like Alonso, Kubica makes no secret of his desire to see Ferrari's Felipe Massa beat McLaren's Lewis Hamilton to the 2008 crown.
Asked who he thinks will ultimately lift the trophy, he answers: "My head says Hamilton, but my heart says Felipe."
Kubica, whose rivalry with Hamilton dates back to their karting days, is critical of the British championship leader's on-track style.
"There are two approaches," he said. "Either you drive hard but fair, or you are overconfident and too aggressive."
Kubica said Hamilton's racing against Timo Glock and Alonso at Monza was "too much and dangerous".
He says he is not the only one who has complained about Hamilton's driving in driver meetings.
"It has been a topic and most see it the same way," Kubica reveals.
Heidfeld's BMW given FIA 'freeze' all-clear
(GMM) Nick Heidfeld's BMW engine passed scrutineering prior to the Japanese grand prix weekend, as the German marque became the latest to be subject to the FIA's detailed conformity tests.
The 31-year-old's Singapore unit was compared with the homologated engine lodged by BMW-Sauber after this year's Malaysian grand prix.
So far in 2008, the V8s of Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari have also been tested and cleared as the FIA tests conformity with the current engine freeze.
Toyota's Timo Glock will have a fresh engine fitted for Saturday and Sunday's action at Fuji Speedway, but he escapes penalty for an unscheduled change due to the 'joker' rule.
With scheduled new engines in Japan, meanwhile, are both Ferrari drivers, Robert Kubica (BMW), both Renault drivers, Mark Webber (Red Bull), both Toyota, Toro Rosso and Honda drivers, and Force India's Giancarlo Fisichella.