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DATE News (chronologically)
Latest F1 news in brief
  • Test cuts dangerous for drivers - de la Rosa
  • Ferrari sits out rain-drenched Jerez test
  • Bahrain wants benefit from credit crunch
  • Force India not raising false hopes - Mallya
  • Abu Dhabi homologation set for July
  • USF1 not interested in hiring Button
  • Force India consent to Honda-Merc engine deal
  • Recession cost Force India sponsors - Mallya
  • Emirates denies Honda sponsorship rumors
  • Briatore expects Piquet to perform in 2009
  • Team silent as Honda F1 saga reaches apex
  • F2 has not affected Williams' F1 effort

Pedro de la Rosa
Test cuts dangerous for drivers - de la Rosa
(GMM)  F1's ever-tightening test restrictions are potentially dangerous, McLaren reserve driver Pedro de la Rosa insists.

The veteran Spaniard, also president of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA), said the limited pre-season miles and the total ban on in-season track development means reserve drivers will be "rusty" if they are called upon to race at grands prix.

"We could be a problem in the safety aspect if you haven't driven enough," the 38-year-old said at this week's Jerez test, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The last time de la Rosa contested grands prix was in former team regular Juan Pablo Montoya's seat in 2006, but he said the test regulations were very different then.

"The only thing I was not used to was to take a start, but this year the situation would be very different if I have to replace a driver mid-season, because I will have been four or five months without having driven an F1 car, with the problems that brings to the rest," he explained.

De la Rosa even doubts the testing limitations will succeed in drastically cutting costs, with teams turning instead to expensive wind tunnel, simulator and computational fluid dynamics (CFD).

"I think that testing is the cheapest way to develop a car," he said.  "That's my opinion."

Ferrari sits out rain-drenched Jerez test
(GMM)  As was forecast, heavy and constant rain affected the entire day of testing at Spain's Jerez circuit on Monday.

Seven of the eight teams present persisted, but Felipe Massa spent the session in the garage and was also seen trackside wearing a raincoat, as Ferrari opted to sit out the abysmal weather.

"As the week goes on the weather should improve," said Renault's chief test engineer Christian Silk.

"With the start of the season so close, it's a shame to have a fully wet day."

Bahrain wants benefit from credit crunch
(GMM)  Bahrain is hoping to capitalize on the global recession by attracting more European visitors than usual to the grand prix next month.

According to the local Gulf Daily News, some tickets for the 2009 event at Sakhir have been slashed by more than 40 per cent.

"We expect that a lot of businesses that would normally travel to far away races will be looking carefully at Bahrain," chief executive Martin Whitaker said.

"Ultimately, yes they will be looking at their cash flow, but at the same time they will be looking at maybe not travelling to Australia, China and Malaysia, but considering the shorter haul route to Bahrain," he added.

Vijay Mallya
Force India not raising false hopes - Mallya
(GMM)  Force India's race drivers are not raising false hopes by predicting a major step forward for the Silverstone based team in 2009, team owner and boss Vijay Mallya said on Monday.

Speaking at the Jerez circuit where the new VJM02 is making its full test debut, the Indian billionaire was asked about the promising reviews already given by drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil.

"That's good, because if the car's not good, they won't risk raising expectations by saying something like this," The Hindu publication quoted Mallya, 53, as saying.

With Mercedes power and McLaren technical support, Mallya said points "on merit" is the target for 2009 while there will be "no excuses" for failing to deliver.

He told India's Economic Times: "I don't think we can expect miracles early in the season.  I don't expect the car to go out in Australia and score points.

"But by the time we get to Europe there is no reason why I shouldn't be expecting being in the points."

Fisichella and Sutil failed to score a single point in 2008, the first season since the Spyker buyout.

Abu Dhabi homologation set for July
(GMM)  An asterisk alongside Abu Dhabi's inaugural date on the 2009 calendar will be addressed in the middle of this year, the race's chief executive has revealed.

Currently, the event is subject to the homologation of the Yas Marina circuit by the sport's governing body, the FIA.

"A team from the FIA will be here 90 days before the event, which means in July this year and you can be sure we will be ready for that," Philippe Gurdjian told the local Gulf News newspaper.

"The FIA will confirm whether the security and safety aspects are in place.  After that it will be only fine-tuning and taking care of the minor problems that will keep cropping (up) from time to time," he added.

Earlier this week, the developer of the circuit's Yas Island construction site confirmed that the global financial crisis would not affect the project.

Aldar Properties spokesman Steve Worrel explained: "Hosting formula one being the first (sporting) priority of the Abu Dhabi government, all steps have been taken for the scheduled completion of the project."

The USF1 team is not interested in overrated British playboy
USF1 not interested in hiring Button
(GMM)  While USF1 is interested in hiring Rubens Barrichello next year, the Brazilian veteran's 2008 Honda teammate Jenson Button is not as attractive a prospect to the new American team, principal Peter Windsor has admitted.

Briton Windsor, a former F1 team manager and now well-known reporter and broadcaster, admitted last week that 36-year-old Barrichello's vast experience would be ideal for USF1 in the team's initial start-up phase.

Given the uncertainty surrounding Honda's team survival, the career of Button is similarly in doubt, but Windsor said the 29-year-old Englishman would not fit with USF1's aims.

"You can't imagine Jenson in a start-up team, driving at 100 per cent knowing that the best he's going to qualify is 14th -- which would be good for us -- and finishing maybe 10th on a good day," Windsor is quoted as saying.

"Jenson would want more than that and it would be very difficult working with somebody like that."

Force India consent to Honda-Merc engine deal
(GMM)  Force India could have objected to Mercedes-Benz's likely deal to supply engines this year to the beleaguered Honda team, Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya revealed on Monday.

His Silverstone based team already has a deal with Mercedes in place for 2009, and he told the Reuters news agency that FIA rules limit each manufacturer to working with just two teams.

"The FIA, I believe, have given special dispensation to Mercedes to supply an engine only to the former Honda team for one year," he said at the Jerez circuit in Spain.

"I'm quite happy to just accept that in the interests of the sport because we've had one team disappear from the grid, Super Aguri in 2008, and I'd hate to see another team disappear in 2009," Mallya added.

He said his understanding is that the Brackley based team will survive and contest this year's world championship, which is "very good news".

Recession cost Force India sponsors - Mallya
(GMM)  The global financial crisis has cost Force India multiple sponsor deals, team owner and boss Vijay Mallya has revealed.

"We had several commitments for sponsorship for 2009, some of which will not come through because of the recession.

"Others seem to be on track, people have confirmed to me that they still want to go ahead," the 53-year-old billionaire said at the Jerez test on Monday, according to the Economic Times in India.

Mallya, prominent in the Indian press recently due to the recession's impact on his companies, sponsors the team with his beer and airline Kingfisher.

A new sponsor for the 2009 season, the Scottish whiskey brand Whyte and Mackay, is owned by Mallya's Bangalore based United Breweries Group.

"There is no point in anybody denying the fact that there has been a great economic meltdown and Formula One is bound to be affected," Mallya admitted.

He said he is beginning to see other Indian companies interested in sponsoring Force India.

"Indian companies are coming forward slowly, there isn't a line outside my door, but they are coming on board," he explained.

"I have had commitments from a much larger number than I believe will actually show up on the car finally, but in these economic circumstances that is only to be expected."

Emirates denies Honda sponsorship rumors
(GMM)  A spokesman for Emirates has denied speculation linking the Dubai based airline with title sponsorship of the rescued Honda F1 team.

We reported a rumor on Monday that the company, the eighth largest airline in the world, might back the Brackley based team in 2009 following reports of a Ross Brawn-led management buyout.

In the media recently, Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum has been quoted as strongly backing the concept of sports sponsorship: "We believe sponsorships are one of the best ways to connect with our passengers.

"They allow us to share and support their interests and to build a closer relationship with them."

But an Emirates spokesman is quoted as saying in the Dutch media: "We are currently not seeking new sponsorship agreements."

Nelson Piquet Jr. cannot ride on his father's coattails much longer
Briatore expects Piquet to perform in 2009
(GMM)  Team boss Flavio Briatore has made clear his expectation that Nelson Piquet impress at the wheel of his Renault in 2009.

Brazilian Piquet, 23, had a mixed formula one debut last year, scoring 42 fewer points than teammate Fernando Alonso, who won two races.

In an interview with Italian radio, Briatore spoke glowingly of the French squad's double world champion, praising the Spaniard's "incredible determination" involving a winter cycling program of 200 kilometers per day.

Turning his attention to Piquet, however, the Italian mogul added: "At the moment he would not win the world championship in a Renault or a Ferrari.

"He is a mysterious character," the Spanish news agency EFE quotes Briatore as saying.  "His last name is not going to make him any faster."

Referring to the same radio interview, the Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport also quotes Briatore as saying: "I have tried once again to develop a young guy into an established driver.

"This year will show us whether we chose the right young guy," the 58-year-old added.

Team silent as Honda F1 saga reaches apex
(GMM)  A spokeswoman has declined to comment on the latest speculation surrounding the future of the team commonly known as Honda.

Rumors about the success of a management buyout, the potential driver lineup, sponsors, and forthcoming tests are filling the media airwaves, but at present the Brackley based squad is officially saying nothing.

A spokeswoman at Brackley said the team has "no further comments or updates to make on the team's situation at this time".

Behind the scenes, there is undoubtedly plenty of activity, as designers, engineers and mechanics have persisted throughout the winter in readying the 2009 car with a Mercedes-Benz customer engine.

A source at the Tokyo headquarters of withdrawing team owner Honda Motor Co. told Japan's biggest circulation newspaper on Tuesday that an announcement is close.

"We expect to be able to make an announcement from the company and the team in the near future," the source told the daily Yomiuri Shimbun.

F2 has not affected Williams' F1 effort
(GMM)  Williams' involvement with the new formula 2 series has not affected the team's preparations for the 2009 F1 season, team co-owner and boss Sir Frank Williams insists.

Overseen by Patrick Head, the new F2 single seater - unveiled this week - has been designed and built in the same workshops as the Toyota-powered FW31.

Williams, 66, admits he initially feared the commitment might affect his independent team's core formula one effort.

"When I first heard about F2 I wasn't particularly happy about it," he is quoted as saying by the Press Association.

"I feared it would interfere with our F1 efforts, but it has caused us no problems at all," Williams said.

The Briton also said engaging in the low-cost F2 series has actually provided Williams with a "financial lesson" about how to race with very small budgets.

Patrick Head confirmed that the JPH01 (named after series boss Jonathan Palmer and Head) was designed on computer and without much wind tunnel testing, and with simplicity as a core principle.

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