Latest F1 news in brief
- Furious Ferrari casts eyes at Le Mans
- Haug reveals 30 per cent pay cut
- Hartley finally granted F1 license
- Richards undecided over F1 team identity
- Another diffuser step in works for Force India
- Peter Sauber queries new FIA rules
Furious Ferrari casts eyes at Le Mans
(GMM) Not since Ferrari built but never raced an IndyCar in the 1980s has the Italian marque's relationship with the FIA been at such a low point.
The 637 single seater was the team's tangible threat to the governing body that its stance over V12 engines could realistically result in withdrawal from formula one.
This time, the threat is Le Mans, with Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali to attend and president Luca di Montezemolo to give the official start signal at the prestigious 24 hour sports car race in June.
"Le Mans is synonymous with technologically-advanced sporting competition and has always been a focus of great attention on our part," he said.
Ferrari's anger, now revealed with a spate of letters between Montezemolo and Max Mosley this week, is about the 40m pounds sterling voluntary budget cap for 2010.
Montezemolo's opposition to the plan is well known, but in one letter he referred to "Ferrari's guaranteed rights" not being adhered to.
It is believed he is referring to a power of veto granted to Ferrari when it committed to formula one over a breakaway championship four years ago.
In a letter of reply, Mosley hit back: "I do not accept that these regulations compromise any commitment that has been given to Ferrari, unless Ferrari would somehow argue that they are entitled to prevent new competitors from emerging at a time when the sport itself is in danger and new competitors are so badly needed."
Haug reveals 30 per cent pay cut
(GMM) Like Flavio Briatore, Mercedes' competition chief Norbert Haug has revealed that he also cut his own salary for 2009.
In the midst of the global financial crisis, Renault's Briatore revealed last week in Bahrain that top team management are making 20 per cent less than in 2008, engineers 10 per cent less and "everybody else" 5 per cent.
"I am making over 30 per cent less than in 2008, with more work to do and twice the motivation," said Haug, whose Stuttgart employer has openly mused pulling out of formula one altogether.
Haug suggests that his 30 per cent pay cut is representative of the overall cost savings Mercedes-Benz has recently been able to make in terms of its F1 program.
Hartley finally granted F1 license
(GMM) As of next weekend's Spanish grand prix, Brendon Hartley will finally step into the role as reserve driver for the two Red Bull teams.
The New Zealand teenager was selected for the F1 role prior to the start of the 2009 season, but not immediately granted a mandatory Super License by the governing body FIA.
"I must thank Red Bull for all their support since 2005 and this new role is another step on the path to reaching my goal of being a formula one driver," 19-year-old Hartley said.
"I know that with the new in-season testing ban, I'm not likely to get much cockpit time, but I will be part of the team and will learn a lot from that," he added.
Richards undecided over F1 team identity
(GMM) The brand identity of David Richards' prospective new formula one team for 2010 is not certain.
The former Benetton and Honda team boss was in the Middle East this week for talks with potential investors about a budget-capped team debut next year.
But it has been reported that while his British racing engineering group Prodrive would be the driving force behind the team, it may actually be named after his luxury sports car brand Aston Martin.
Richards, 56, told the Qatar daily the Peninsula: "It's not absolutely certain that Austin Martin will be the brand that we go to formula one with."
In a media statement on Thursday, Richards welcomed the FIA's introduction of a voluntary 40m pounds sterling budget cap for 2010 but admitted some concern about the current state of the sport.
"It is important for us and our partners that there is stability with broad alignment on the future direction of formula one and this will be a critical issue in our decision making process," he said.
On Richards' visit to Qatar this week, he suggested that "part of" his F1 team could be based in the Gulf region.
"We've had some very positive discussion (in the region) so far, and I believe we are moving in the right direction," he added.
Another diffuser step in works for Force India
(GMM) Although at the back of the field at present, Force India has indicated it can keep up with the pace of formula one development.
While bigger and more competitive teams like Ferrari, BMW and Red Bull worked on the concept at their factories, Silverstone based Force India rolled out an interim 'double decker' diffuser prototype last weekend in Bahrain.
In qualifying, Adrian Sutil outqualified both Toro Rossos, and his teammate Giancarlo Fisichella also escaped the last row of the grid.
Moreover, in South Africa to watch over his team in the Indian cricket league, team owner Vijay Mallya this week said a further step in the diffuser concept will be introduced next weekend at Barcelona.
"We have another update coming in Barcelona, more particularly an improved version of this interim diffuser, and some further aero upgrades," the Indian billionaire is quoted as saying by the news agency PTI.
In Bahrain, the pace of the entire field was covered by a margin of less than two seconds.
"In the midfield everything is separated by hundredths now, and to be in the hunt is quite an impressive achievement," Mallya added.
Peter Sauber queries new FIA rules
(GMM) Peter Sauber, one of the most successful privateer formula one chiefs, has questioned the new rules published by the FIA this week.
Despite the opposition from giant-budget teams like Ferrari, Max Mosley claims interest in his two-tier voluntary cap system for 2010 "has been extraordinarily high".
But the fact that the rules will involve two sets of technical regulations - one for capped teams, one for uncapped teams - is also being criticized by existing teams, while Sauber wonders if the caps can be policed.
"It will be extremely difficult to stop cheating," the Swiss, still involved with his Hinwil-based team after selling it to BMW three years ago, said.
65-year-old Sauber also queries some of the details of the extra technical freedoms for the capped teams.
"With the front wing an adjustable mechanism is acceptable, because if it breaks then the driver simply gets understeer," the Swiss told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
"A moveable rear wing is insane," Sauber added. "If something goes wrong, you just fly off the track."