Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday
Alonso signs new Ferrari contract through 2016
|Ferrari locks in Alonso through 2016|
- Red Bull denies breaking in-season test ban
- Abu Dhabi now delaying layout change decision
- Alguersuari thinks Toro Rosso seats safe in 2011
- Ecclestone scoffs at 'emotional' Montezemolo
- Other tire marques feared for 'image' - Ecclestone
- June 3 is final deadline for Bahrain go-ahead - Ecclestone
- Ecclestone disappointed with Schumacher comeback
- Klien pessimistic about stalled F1 career
- Money Service Group signs deal with Sauber
Alonso signs new Ferrari contract through 2016
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has signed up with Ferrari for another five years, the Italian team announced on Thursday.
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said last week he hopes to keep the Spaniard, who joined the Maranello based outfit last year, for "a long time".
Thursday's press release said Ferrari "has renewed its technical and racing agreement" with Alonso, 29, through the end of 2016.
"Fernando has all the required qualities, both technically and personally to play a leading role in the history of Ferrari and I hope he will be enriching it with further wins very soon," said Montezemolo.
Alonso said there is "no doubt" he will end his F1 career with Ferrari.
Red Bull denies breaking in-season test ban
(GMM) An initially innocuous 'tweet' by a Swiss test driver has stirred up a controversy involving the championship-leading team Red Bull.
Neel Jani wrote on his Twitter account this week that he "really worked my neck out" on Sunday during a 400 kilometer test at the wheel of the RB7.
The test is believed to have taken place at the Idiada venue in Spain.
The 27-year-old's comment raised eyebrows because the only testing allowed during the season is to be conducted in a straight line, but Jani said his neck was twinged due to "high speed cornering".
The offending tweets have been deleted.
A Red Bull spokesperson denied to f1fanatic.co.uk that Jani's test broke the rules.
"We did not complete high speed cornering and tested within the permitted regulations -- which is an aero test carried out on FIA approved straight line or constant radius sites," the spokesperson said.
Red Bull also claimed Jani did not write the tweets himself.
Abu Dhabi now delaying layout change decision
(GMM) Abu Dhabi grand prix organizers are reviewing their decision to tweak the Yas Marina layout in order to increase the chances of overtaking.
Last year's season finale was so processional at the otherwise spectacular venue that the organizers had committed to making some changes.
But the 2011 rules, including the 'DRS' overtaking system and the heavily degrading Pirelli tires, have produced such exciting races so far that Abu Dhabi is now committing only to watching the next few rounds of the calendar with great interest.
"Definitely, the new regulations have made formula one more exciting, but we will be watching the next couple of races keenly to see how they unfold before making a decision," track boss Richard Cregan told The National.
"We are looking at the circuit changes and will make a final decision in consultation with FIA and the various stakeholders at the end of this month," he added.
"We need to question whether spending money on changing the track to improve overtaking is really necessary at this point in time when the issue has already been addressed by the FIA and the race teams -- and the result has been absolutely phenomenal racing.
"Digging up the track even for minor changes is very expensive, so we need to make sure it is the right step forward and also the right time to close the circuit. To make alterations would result in a loss of revenue, so that must be considered, also," said Cregan.
Alguersuari thinks Toro Rosso seats safe in 2011
(GMM) Jaime Alguersuari believes his Toro Rosso seat is safe at least in 2011.
The Red Bull owned team has admitted that if the Spaniard or his teammate Sebastien Buemi are not performing this year, Daniel Ricciardo's expected 2012 debut could be pushed forward.
But team boss Franz Tost said last weekend that because Toro Rosso's current drivers are "performing well", "nothing is up for discussion at the moment".
Alguersuari, now in his second full season in formula one, was asked by the Spanish news agency EFE this week if he fears Ricciardo might replace him before the current season is finished.
"A few days ago the boss of the team, Franz Tost, said that Buemi and I are staying at Toro Rosso," he answered.
Alguersuari is yet to open his points account in 2011 but he is bullish about his chances of a good season.
"I have never been better, physically and mentally," he said, insisting he is not downhearted that his Swiss teammate has had better results so far.
"Right now the individual is not the priority, the team is. At the moment there is no room for ego."
Ecclestone scoffs at 'emotional' Montezemolo
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has scoffed at Ferrari's latest 'breakaway' threat.
Some days ago the famous Italian marque's president Luca di Montezemolo warned that Ferrari and the other teams could walk away from the sport's current owners CVC at the end of the 2012 Concorde Agreement.
Asked about Montezemolo's comments, F1 chief executive Ecclestone told Swiss newspaper Blick: "Oh yes, we all know Montezemolo's emotional side.
"But how often has Ferrari actually gone?" the Briton added.
Ecclestone sounded confident about the future beyond the current commercial agreement.
"Forget the Concorde Agreement," he said. "CVC bought formula one at a time when there was basically no Concorde Agreement and the manufacturers were threatening us with a rival series.
"So it was the worst possible time to buy and yet CVC paid good money. Today the risk is even lower."
It has been suggested teams want their share of F1's revenue pie to be increased from 50 per cent in the current Concorde to 70pc in 2013.
"In the last five Concorde Agreements the teams wanted more money. There is no chance they're getting 70 per cent," said Ecclestone.
Other tire marques feared for 'image' - Ecclestone
(GMM) Pirelli was the right choice for 2011 because the alternative tire suppliers did not want to spice up formula one.
That is the claim of Bernie Ecclestone, who in recent days has thanked the Italian marque for agreeing to deliberately produce tires that degrade quickly.
"Only Pirelli would do it, and we must thank them. It was brave and the show has improved," he said in an interview with Swiss newspaper Blick.
"Michelin and Bridgestone refused to build tires like this because they were worried about their image," added Ecclestone.
He claims "90 per cent" of the vastly different spectacle in 2011 is due to Pirelli.
"The effect of the adjustable rear wing is not entirely clear, and KERS was never meant to be a passing aid but was instead for the message we give to the outside."
Ecclestone admits he is no fan of F1's efforts to appear 'green'.
"Some have KERS, some don't, and the ones that do have spent up to $15 million when we really wanted to save. An incredible amount of money was spent and nobody knows why.
"If we wanted it for overtaking, we could have done it like the A1 series and just put in a button for a few hundred dollars.
"Environmentally friendly technology is for touring cars," he said. "That's where it makes sense, because the cars you see there you also see on the street.
"If you compare formula one with other sports, it isn't bad. The Tour de France burns more fuel than us -- just think of the Tour's huge entourage.
"The biggest consumption of gas is by the spectators who come to the event, but try saying to an organizer that he should sell 10 per cent fewer tickets," added Ecclestone.
June 3 is final deadline for Bahrain go-ahead - Ecclestone
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has admitted Bahrain has only two weeks left to clear the path for a rescheduled grand prix in 2011.
After the FIA's original May deadline, the F1 chief executive successfully pushed for a one month extension amid reports the situation inside the troubled island Kingdom is improving.
Ecclestone admitted to Swiss newspaper Blick that June 3 is now the final deadline otherwise there will be no time to have a decision rubber-stamped.
"Yes, because we need a decision of the FIA World Council to change the calendar," he said.
"First, we need the guarantee from Bahrain that it is now safe to have a grand prix," added the Briton.
The latest rumor is that, if that guarantee is forthcoming, the inaugural Indian grand prix could be moved from late October to early December to make room for Bahrain.
Ecclestone disappointed with Schumacher comeback
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has admitted disappointment with Michael Schumacher's return to formula one.
After his disappointing performance season last year, there were high hopes an improved Mercedes car and the new Pirelli tires would lead to a more successful campaign in 2011.
Asked about the seven time world champion's return so far, Ecclestone told the Swiss newspaper Blick: "I am surprised and disappointed.
"I would like to see him in a Red Bull because you don't know how good the Mercedes is. Compared to his teammate Rosberg, it (Schumacher's performance) doesn't look good.
"But Michael is a fighter and he can still win. I'll be the first to cheer when he beats Vettel," the Briton laughed.
Schumacher, 42, admitted after a fraught event in Turkey two weeks ago that he is currently missing "the big joy" of F1.
Some commentators are advising the German to return to retirement, moving 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell to admit: "If things haven't improved by the end of the year, maybe what some people are saying he should take heed."
The German tabloid Express has this week even quoted a doctor as speculating Schumacher might need glasses, but Mercedes' Norbert Haug denies he is over the hill.
"I would not underestimate him or his ability. So far this year his true capabilities have been clear not in results, but in lap times -- yes," the German told Salzburger Nachrichten.
And team boss Ross Brawn is quoted as saying by Reuters: "I think he's pretty resilient and I'm optimistic this weekend he'll be back where we want him."
Klien pessimistic about stalled F1 career
(GMM) Christian Klien has admitted he is pessimistic about his formula one career.
After almost 50 races with Jaguar and Red Bull, the now 28-year-old fell into BMW and Honda test duties but last year bounced back onto the grid with a few outings at HRT.
For 2011, however, Austrian Klien could not raise enough sponsorship and so he has signed on with the Aston Martin Le Mans team.
"It has become more difficult each year," he told Kleine Zeitung newspaper when asked about the role of driver sponsorship in formula one.
He referred to the $30 million brought to Williams by Pastor Maldonado this year and surmised that "Such sums are impossible for an Austrian."
"Even if you can get that budget for a year," added Klien, "what do you do after that? At some point it's no longer possible. Formula one has changed a lot.
"You can never say never, but right now I don't see the possibility," he said.
Klien admits he is eyeing a future switch to the DTM series.
"With three manufacturers, the series is quite interesting," he said, admitting that his links with the incoming BMW could help him.
"There is still contact. DTM would be fun," he concluded.
Money Service Group signs deal with Sauber
The Money Service Group has joined Sauber for the 2011 season, becoming an Official Partner of the Hinwil-based outfit. The company - founded by Michael Seidl in 1993 - will remain in Formula 1 for at least another year after first entering the sport as a Toro Rosso sponsor 12 months ago.
"We are grateful for the confidence which the Money Service Group has placed in us and look forward to a successful long-term partnership that will benefit both sides," Sauber Team Principal Peter Sauber commented.
Michael Seidl, owner and founder of the Money Service Group, added: "We have already gleaned a year of positive experience in Formula One and have now entered a new partnership with the Sauber F1 Team, not least on account of our regional proximity.
"I am impressed by Peter Sauber’s courage and single-mindedness and have no doubt that we make a good match as partners."