Latest F1 news in brief
- Abu Dhabi denies new F1 delay rumors
- FOTA reveals budget cap 'concerns'
- New teams to be selected carefully - Ecclestone
- Test cuts 'suck' for aspiring drivers - Hartley
- Vettel to win 2009 Bandini trophy
- Vettel working with McLaren doctor
- Carmakers not considering F1 exodus - Haug
- AT&T Williams Signs Hell Energy Drinks
Abu Dhabi denies new F1 delay rumors
(GMM) The developer of the new Abu Dhabi formula one circuit has played down reports of a dispute that could threaten the completion of the project.
The local Arabian Business publication reports that a row has broken out between top consultant companies working on the track, which is scheduled to host the 2009 season finale in November.
Apparently 12 key staff, advising on details of the grandstands and pit buildings, have walked out over wage disputes with another sub-contracted company.
The managing director of the consultants in question confirmed that his employees left the project "because they were not getting paid".
It also emerged recently that Abu Dhabi's F1 management company has undergone a fundamental shakeup, with Richard Cregan replacing Philippe Gurdjian as CEO.
A spokesman for developers Aldar said: "Everything is on schedule. We are happy with the progress on the track. We don't comment on minor issues between sub-contractors."
FOTA reveals budget cap 'concerns'
(GMM) F1's teams alliance admitted "concerns" about the 2010 budget cap after a meeting in Heathrow on Wednesday.
"FOTA has concerns with the decisions taken at the last WMSC meeting regarding the 2010 regulations and therefore asks to begin urgent consultations with the FIA," read a statement.
To the UK newspaper Express, F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone said the teams are wrong to oppose the 40m pounds sterling cap.
"The big teams don't get it because it's not in their DNA to make money in formula one. All they want to do is spend, spend, spend," he said.
"Odd isn't it that at a time when everyone else in the commercial world is trying to cut costs and save money, we offer them a plan and some are not happy," Ecclestone added.
He also thinks the time is right for the car manufacturers in F1 to dramatically curb their spending.
"How will it look if a board of one of the manufacturers which is losing money turns down the chance to cut costs hugely?” he wondered.
The FOTA statement also said discussions about a new Concorde Agreement were had in London, and it was agreed to continue cost-cutting methods for 2010 and 2011.
Ross Brawn was interviewed by the BBC afterwards but did not comment on earlier speculation that he could be removed as FOTA's technical chief, or prevented from receiving Honda's owed commercial income.
New teams to be selected carefully - Ecclestone
(GMM) New teams will be evaluated carefully before being shown to the 2010 formula one grid, Bernie Ecclestone insists.
Since the voluntary 40m pounds sterling budget cap became concrete FIA regulations, and the number of team entries was increased to 13, there has been a flurry of interest in joining the sport.
Currently, there are potentially three vacancies on the 2010 grid, but existing teams unhappy with the budget cap proposals could leave and create more space.
David Richards, Lola and USF1 are at the top of the speculation about 2010, but teams in lower categories - like Irish A1GP boss Mark Gallagher - are also talking up their hopes.
"I have ambitions in F1, our driver Adam Carroll should be in F1 but you need to approach this carefully. If you are looking to be racing in 2010 you need to know very, very soon what is required," said Gallagher, who was involved with the Jordan team in the past.
Ecclestone told the UK newspaper Express that he welcomes the interest but added: "It won't be on a first-come, first-served basis. We are not going back to the days when anyone could just arrive, run a few races and then disappear when they ran out of money.
"We only need three teams to come in. Some of the big players are not happy -- but no one has said they are leaving," the F1 chief executive insisted.
David Richards, floating the possibility of a team with Middle Eastern branding, said he is hopeful the FIA would look favorably upon his application.
"The FIA would make a judgment on the most appropriate entries to accept," he confirmed.
"I hope that our credentials stand us in good stead. We have been there before and done it before in most forms of motor sport."
Test cuts 'suck' for aspiring drivers - Hartley
(GMM) Cost-cutting is the buzzword in today's formula one paddocks, but the trend does not find friends with aspiring young drivers.
Brendon Hartley, a 19-year-old New Zealander, has obtained an FIA super license and as of this weekend in Spain, he will be trackside as reserve driver for the Red Bull teams.
But if he is called up to race, he has only limited experience of the Adrian Newey-penned chassis, and that experience is unlikely to be much expanded throughout the year.
"Part of that (cost cutting) was cutting testing, which sucks for a driver like myself who wants to be a formula one driver," Hartley told local radio NewsTalkZB.
He added: "You know, it's pretty hard to get prepared when there's no testing."
However, testing limits will be relaxed in 2010 for budget-capped teams.
Vettel to win 2009 Bandini trophy
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel is to become the latest recipient of the annual Lorenzo Bandini trophy.
The award, officially titled the Trofeo Lorenzo Bandini, is an ongoing tribute to the leading Italian driver of his period, who was burned to death in an horror accident at Monaco in 1967.
Last year's winner was Robert Kubica, and before him Felipe Massa.
Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Michael Schumacher, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jenson Button, Jarno Trulli, Alex Wurz, Giancarlo Fisichella, Jacques Villeneuve and David Coulthard have also been similarly honored.
Vettel, the 21-year-old German who won the recent Chinese grand prix for Red Bull, will receive the trophy from Bandini's widow in the town square of their home town, Brisighella, near Imola.
The event, dating back to 1992, will take place on May 31, the Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport said.
Vettel, currently third in the drivers' championship behind the Brawn drivers, was asked by the German news agency SID how he copes with suggestions he is on the cusp of securing a top drive with Ferrari or McLaren.
"I take things step by step and am not influenced by speculation," he answered. "My goal is to sit in the best possible car and win races. At the moment I'm happy right where I am."
Vettel working with McLaren doctor
(GMM) Although racing for a rival team, Sebastian Vettel is taking advice this year from McLaren's physician Aki Hintsa.
The story was uncovered by Germany's Sport Bild, after Red Bull driver Vettel was spotted talking with Hintsa, a Finn, on the grid of the Bahrain grand prix two weeks ago.
"Aki and I are friends," the 21-year-old, who like Hintsa lives in Switzerland, confirms.
It emerges that Hintsa arranged a new fitness trainer for Vettel: another Finn, 26-year-old Tommi Parmakoski.
Sport Bild reports that Hintsa also advises countryman Kimi Raikkonen, who drives for rival Ferrari.
Vettel and Raikkonen are also friends and often train together in Switzerland.
Hintsa said of Vettel: "I always thought that I was demanding on athletes, but Sebastian is unbelievable. He wants to constantly improve himself: often calls me when he is finishing (training) to see what else he can do.
"You have to slow him down rather than push him."
Carmakers not considering F1 exodus - Haug
(GMM) Norbert Haug has moved to calm speculation that car manufacturers are considering pulling out of formula one.
Amid the global recession, the crisis in new car sales and now the controversial budget caps for 2010, plenty of recent media coverage has been devoted to the future on the grid of carmakers, even the steadfast and robust Ferrari.
But after a meeting of the FOTA team alliance in London, Mercedes' competition chief Haug was quoted as remarking that despite the grumblings about budget caps, teams are focused on moving forwards in F1.
"Even Ferrari wants to save (money)," the German is quoted as saying by spox.com. "Perhaps they are concerned about the terms of the budget cap and the past approaches of the FIA.
"But a withdrawal is at the moment not at all a topic of discussion," Haug insisted.
Former Toro Rosso co-owner Gerhard Berger, however, can foresee the current situation leading to an exodus of car manufacturers.
"Maybe formula one would then be as it was in the 80s and 90s," the former grand prix winner said in an interview with Auto Motor und Sport.
"It was then that Williams, McLaren and Jordan raced one another for 45 million a year. The fans were discussing the sport, great overtaking moves, the drivers, and not all the technical stuff," Berger added.
The Austrian, a friend of Max Mosley, fully supports the FIA president's desire for budget capping.
"Let's wait and see what happens when the big sponsor contracts run out," Berger continued. "If you then get a deal for 10 per cent (of the previous value) you will be happy.
"The next step is the Bernie Ecclestone income: he can't possibly keep the prices of the organizers and the TV companies the same, so the teams won't be getting 30 million but only 10 million."
He also believes that if the two-tier budget cap system begins in 2010, it will not be long before the big-spending manufacturers join in.
"If someone spending only 45 million is just as good as you, or better than you, when you're spending 300 million, then the executive committee will soon be asking, 'why aren't we doing this with 45 million?'" said Berger.
AT&T Williams Signs Hell Energy Drinks
The AT&T Williams team today announced a significant new sponsorship agreement with Hell Energy Drinks. The Hungarian energy drink brand, which has aspirations to be the number two international energy drink, is joining the team as its official drinks partner from the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona this weekend.
Bucking the adverse economic climate, the engagement is one of the few on-car level sponsorship agreements to have been concluded recently. Hell Energy Drinks will appear on the team’s race cars on the rear wing endplates as well as claim a novel position in the pitlane with the team’s refueler firesuits.
The brand, with offices in Europe, Australia and the Asia Pacific, has an established reputation for avant-garde field marketing and events. It will use this most significant new marketing venture to date to open up new markets in Europe, China and Russia.
Tomas Grosch, Hell’s Strategy and Development Director, said, “Hell Energy Drink is the number one category leader in the countries where we operate, plus we are represented in 16 more markets. Our sponsorship program with AT&T Williams is a bold step to use Formula One’s international reach to consolidate our growth. There are any number of competitors who have achieved number two category status in individual markets, our intention is to achieve this internationally and this agreement will be the cornerstone of this strategy.
Frank Williams said, “I am delighted to sign this significant new agreement with Hell Energy Drinks. We can provide a strong platform for Hell Energy Drink’s international business objectives and I commend their confident marketing program to grow and expand.”