Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday
Lotus' prize-money in doubt due to naming dispute?
|Red Bull's stupidity might have Alonso laughing come Sunday|
- Alonso to 'laugh' at Red Bull's finale approach - Lauda
- Schumacher expecting no 'miracles' in 2011
- 'Top 30' staff approached by rival teams - Marko
- Abu Dhabi sold out for title finale
- Senna insists Lotus deal reports 'ridiculous'
- Newey: New Rules helped Red Bull outsmart rivals
- Virgin to reveal 2011 plans Thursday
- Bridgestone's final F1 race
- Emanuele Pirro to be F1 steward for 2010 finale
Lotus' prize-money in doubt due to naming dispute?
(GMM) The F1 team currently known as Lotus might forgo its official Concorde Agreement prize-money for finishing the 2010 championship in tenth place if it is forced to enter next season with a completely different name.
That is the claim of the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat, amid the highly convoluted dispute involving Tony Fernandes' team and the entirely separate Group Lotus.
Also separate is David Hunt, the brother of 1976 world champion James Hunt who for years has separately held the Team Lotus brand.
He recently sold it to Fernandes, whose naming license courtesy of Proton-owned Group Lotus had been revoked. The affair is now the subject of proceedings in the British High Court.
In an interview with journalist Peter Windsor, Hunt is quoted as admitting he is "infuriated" with Group Lotus.
"I believe they are counting on it never reaching the court hearing and a 'Malaysian settlement' resolving 'ownership' of Team Lotus in their favor," he said.
But Hunt also said there are now "difficulties" between himself and Fernandes' group, who have "threatened legal action".
A fascinating side-note is that Group Lotus is looking to enter F1 in collaboration with Renault, with a title sponsorship that could result in the team being renamed Lotus-Renault.
But, now with a customer engine deal with Renault in place, Fernandes also wants his team to be called Lotus-Renault in 2011.
It is a fascinating stand-off, particularly in view of the fact that F1's Swiss based team had to go on calling itself BMW-Sauber this year long after the departure of the German carmaker.
There is therefore likely to be great interest surrounding forthcoming meetings of the F1 Commission and World Motor Sport Council, regarding the application of team names for the 2011 season.
Hunt hopes Fernandes' side wins the day.
"I certainly hope they don't give in and I'm comforted that Tony has confirmed to me again over the past few days that they will fight it all the way in court," he said.
He suggested that one possible resolution is to take back ownership of 'Team Lotus', deal with the Group Lotus legal action himself, and simply issue a naming license to Fernandes.
"That would free him up to focus on delivering results on track and the fans would see the true DNA of Colin Chapman's F1 legacy on the grid next year whilst I sort out the legal side," said Hunt.
Alonso to 'laugh' at Red Bull's finale approach - Lauda
(GMM) Niki Lauda has equated Red Bull's apparent approach to the Abu Dhabi finale this weekend as akin to handing the title to Ferrari.
The energy drink company's chief Dietrich Mateschitz has been quoted as insisting it is "never a possibility" that Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber will be asked to swap positions.
"It is a sporting choice, but in the end it is (Fernando) Alonso who will laugh," Niki Lauda, pointing out another 1-2 result with Vettel in the lead this Sunday will result in the Spaniard winning the title, told ORF.
Even Jaime Alguersuari, the Spaniard driving for Red Bull's second team Toro Rosso, said the use of a team strategy this weekend is "logical".
"I'd be very surprised if they didn't (use team orders)," he said on Spanish radio Cadena SER.
Pedro de la Rosa also thinks Red Bull would be mad to give up the opportunity of its first drivers' crown.
"Everyone can think what they like, it is my opinion that they will (use team orders)," he said.
Ralf Schumacher does not agree.
"I doubt it," answered the German when asked if he can imagine Vettel pulling over on Sunday.
"It would mean Webber becoming world champion at Red Bull before him, and defeats within your own team never feel good," he told Bild newspaper.
So while Mateschitz has ruled out team orders, less clear is what the team feels about Vettel making his own personal decision to help Red Bull Racing.
"The drivers race for the team," boss Christian Horner told Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten .
"Our drivers are team players and know that at stake is the biggest title in motor sport," added the Briton.
"I don't think it is a decision I will have to make. Ultimately, if he was in that position, it would be down to Sebastian," said Horner.
Of course, all the speculation about team orders in Abu Dhabi could prove meaningless given that Fernando Alonso can guarantee a third drivers' title if he just finishes second.
"The Ferrari should suit the track with its many fast straights," said former Swiss driver Marc Surer.
De la Rosa agreed: "That is a weak point for Red Bull. It is also why McLaren will be very strong in Abu Dhabi.
"It is a far less suitable circuit for Red Bull than many people seem to believe," added the Spaniard.
Schumacher expecting no 'miracles' in 2011
(GMM) It might not be possible for Mercedes to leap straight to the front of the grid in 2011, Michael Schumacher has warned.
Amid a difficult 2010 season for the Brackley based team, the decision was taken early to switch the focus to the 2011 car.
German Schumacher told Kleine Zeitung newspaper: "We began with our new car earlier than some other teams, which is an advantage.
"But we shouldn't expect any miracles," added the seven time world champion. "We cannot take two steps at once.
"We are after all a smaller team than the big ones, so we have slightly less capacity," said Schumacher.
He has fended off speculation he might not return to F1 in 2011, and denied that he is desperate to cap off his disappointing comeback season with a podium this weekend.
If he does not finish in the top three in Abu Dhabi, 2010 will be the only full season in his entire F1 career in which he did not appear on the podium.
"I do not need a podium, but of course I would prefer to have one," smiled Schumacher.
'Top 30' staff approached by rival teams - Marko
(GMM) Red Bull's top staff are the envy of the formula one pitlane, according to Dr Helmut Marko.
"Of the top 30 people who work for us, there is no one who has not already received an offer from a competing team," said the Austrian, who is Dietrich Mateschitz's right hand man on motor racing matters.
Last Sunday, at its sixth attempt since taking over Jaguar in 2005, Red Bull Racing wrapped up the 2010 world constructors' championship.
At the very top of Marko's 'top 30' employees - and the highest paid - is designer Adrian Newey.
"He has said several times that Red Bull will be his last job in F1," said Marko, referring to Briton Newey who has also designed title-winning cars for Williams and McLaren.
Newey, 51, said this week he intends to stay in F1 for "a while to come".
Abu Dhabi sold out for title finale
(GMM) Sunday's 2010 world championship finale in Abu Dhabi is sold out, organizers of the Yas Marina event have announced.
Richard Cregan, chief executive of Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management, said the capacity crowd on race day is about 50,000.
The event also sold out for its inaugural running a year ago.
"We are very proud to be staging the race and to know that we will see the crowning of the 2010 world champion," said Cregan.
Barely a day after seeing the checkered flag 12,000 kilometers away in Brazil, the F1 cars and equipment arrived at the impressive Abu Dhabi track on Tuesday.
Incredibly, despite the desert location and extremely low annual rainfall, some rain fell in Abu Dhabi late on Tuesday.
And some more light sprinkles are possible over the grand prix weekend, according to some forecasts.
McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh told Auto Motor und Sport he is relieved that this weekend's focus is an unprecedented four-way battle for the title.
In past years, the title battles have been marred by off-track team disputes, political wrangling with the FIA, and scandals.
"It's refreshing," the Briton admitted.
"Four drivers with three different teams have a chance of the title, which has never happened before. This is an epic championship battle," added Whitmarsh.
Senna insists Lotus deal reports 'ridiculous'
(GMM) Bruno Senna has slammed reports he has agreed to switch from HRT to the team currently known as Lotus Racing for 2011.
The reports emerged around the same time that it was suggested current Lotus driver Jarno Trulli had visited America recently to explore opportunities in NASCAR.
"I think people are just ... they are making up rumors," said the Italian.
Trulli's manager Lucio Cavuto went further, revealing to Autosprint that he thinks the rumors were invented "by Senna".
Senna, however, has stridently denied the Lotus link, according to his comments published by Agencia Estado in Brazil.
"There is nothing to it. The stories are ridiculous," said the Brazilian.
He denied the rumors have benefitted him.
"It's bad for the job, because I look a fool when I go to speak with other teams," added the 27-year-old.
Newey: New Rules helped Red Bull outsmart rivals
Red Bull technical guru Adrian Newey believes the new regulations which came into effect at the start of last season helped the team to steal a march on their rivals.
The Milton Keynes outfit have been on the forefront of innovations the past two years which helped to establish them as one of the top teams.
The hard work has finally paid off for Newey and company this season with the team snapping up their maiden Constructors' Championship while the Drivers' crown is also within their reach.
"I think we have been fortunate in a way in that the rules are still to some extent in their infancy," said Newey. "We are the second year into a very big set of regulation changes and with some fairly significant winter changes this year, and that helps to differentiate.
"If you can come up with fresh ideas, new ideas that steal a march then that happens. If you get to a position where we got to at the end of 2008 where we were many years into very stable regulations then it becomes very difficult to find new avenues."
Team boss Christian Horner is delighted that the team have finally fulfilled their vision.
"I think we have assembled a great group of guys and girls who work together so fantastically well," he said. "There is a commitment and dedication that has gone in, not just this year but previous years as well under the technical leadership of Adrian. But it is not all about individuals.
"It is about how the group has worked fantastically well collectively. Six and a half years ago Dietrich Mateschitz had a vision and we've fulfilled that vision which is just an unbelievable feeling."
Virgin to reveal 2011 plans Thursday
Virgin Racing has announced that it will be staging a Thursday morning press conference at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Hotel in order to reveal plans ahead of a second Formula 1 season next year.
As present, Virgin is yet to announce the likes of its driver line-up for 2011, with Holland’s Giedo van der Garde and fellow GP2 competitor Jérôme d’Ambrosio of Belgium having both been linked with full-time race seats.
It is also being rumored in the German press this week that the team could receive backing from Russia, although no such gossip has been mentioned by the squad itself.
Thursday’s press conference, the in five-star hotel which overlooks the Grand Prix circuit.
Bridgestone's final F1 race
Bridgestone bows out of Formula 1 with the medium and super soft compound Potenza tires for the championship finale, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. This race will be Bridgestone’s 242nd since full time entry to Formula 1 at the start of the 1997 season. In that time ten drivers and constructors championships, 174 wins and 167 pole positions have been achieved so far using Bridgestone Potenza tires.
Hiroshi Yasukawa – Director of Bridgestone Motorsport, says: “We are proud to have participated in this wonderful sport for the past 14 years and I would like to thank all our fellow participants and Formula 1 fans for embracing us and the Bridgestone brand in this period. I can clearly remember our first Grand Prix in Australia in 1997 where we also saw the first championship points achieved with our tires. Since then there have been many more points, pole positions and wins with exciting championship battles along the way and it has been hugely rewarding to participate. Abu Dhabi is an appropriate location for our final Grand Prix as it represents the strength and appeal of this fantastic sport with the superb Yas Marina circuit. The Middle East is an important area for our business development and I think we will leave a lasting impression here. Although we are leaving Formula 1 we retain our respect and appreciation for this great sport.”
Hirohide Hamashima - Bridgestone Director of Motorsport Tire Development, says: “Last year was the first time we visited Abu Dhabi and we learnt a lot about the circuit on that first weekend. The track layout is certainly challenging with a long straight which presents a good overtaking opportunity heading into turn eight. The desert location meant there was a lot of sand on the surface at the beginning of the weekend, and this was a contributory cause of graining. The asphalt was very new, meaning that it was very smooth and dark. It will be interesting to see how the surface has evolved in the 12 months since we were last there. Track temperature was an interesting factor last year. In the heat of the sun it reached over 50 degrees Celsius, but after the sun set in the race the temperature dropped by seven degrees meaning it is important to monitor the tire temperatures as this occurs.”
Emanuele Pirro to be F1 steward for 2010 finale
(GMM) Making his first appearance this weekend as a formula one steward is Italian driver Emanuele Pirro.
The 48-year-old, who won Le Mans 4 times, contested 40 grands prix with Benetton and Scuderia Italia between 1989 and 1991, and was also McLaren's test driver in 1988.
He will officiate at the Yas Marina circuit for the 2010 Abu Dhabi grand prix, the finale of the series' 19-race calendar.
At the circuit this weekend, one of a potential four candidates will be crowned world champion; the first time four drivers from three separate teams have been in the running at the last hurdle.