Latest F1 news in brief - Saturday
Bahrain reshuffle could push calendar into December
|Fernando Alonso in his high-winged Ferrari on Friday|
- Raikkonen admits F1 return possible
- Ferrari to remove high rear wing after Spain
- Domenicali denies being too nice to head Ferrari
- State to support only two more F1 races at Nurburgring
- Alguersuari happy with controversial new hard tire
- Webber pushing to 'stop Sebastian's streak'
- Lauda urges Schumacher to think about retirement
- Red Bull hits back at Schu's staff limit jibe
- Ferrari removes high wing after FIA ban
- Exhaust saga could become F1 protest scandal
Bahrain reshuffle could push calendar into December
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed rumors the inaugural Indian grand prix could be delayed this season to make room for a rescheduled race in Bahrain.
It was rumored in Barcelona that the 2011 calendar might be extended into early December as Ecclestone, the F1 chief executive, makes room for Bahrain.
"Yes, we are having a look at it," the 80-year-old Briton is quoted by Reuters.
"Everything's possible. We could do, yeah," he added.
Indian motor racing official Vicky Chandhok, the father of F1 driver Karun, admitted New Delhi could be moved from late October to December 4.
"If it is ... we will have the race and then the sixth of December is the FIA World Council meeting in Delhi and on the seventh is the annual awards and the eighth is the general assembly," he said.
"From that perspective it makes sense."
But Eric Boullier, the Renault team boss, questioned the need as well as the wisdom in rearranging the calendar for Bahrain.
"The next question would be in the political context: do we have to race there? Does F1 have to go there?" he said in Spain. "It is maybe too early to go there after the dramas."
Raikkonen admits F1 return possible
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen has admitted the possibility of returning one day to formula one.
After walking away from the sport at the end of 2009, the talented Finn and former title winner switched to world rallying and on Friday finished 15th on his debut in the low-tier pickup truck NASCAR series.
Asked in Charlotte about his controversial decision to quit formula one as one of its highest rated and paid drivers, he is quoted as responding by Turun Sanomat newspaper: "There were many reasons.
"But I haven't said it is final. Currently I don't miss F1. I wanted to do different things and now have had a great opportunity to try NASCAR.
"I haven't said I will never go back to F1," added the 31-year-old. "At the moment I have no plans for what I am going to do next year."
Ferrari to remove high rear wing after Spain
(GMM) Ferrari will have to revert to a more conventional rear wing after Sunday's Spanish grand prix.
After Friday practice in Barcelona, Charlie Whiting admitted the FIA was considering banning the Italian team's new wing because it was too high.
The Maranello based team is exploiting a loophole in the regulations about slot-gap separators to effectively increase the height of the upper wing element.
"It's a very clever interpretation of the rules and we've got to decide whether we think it's a good interpretation of the rules," said Whiting.
According to Italy's Autosprint, the FIA technical delegate will allow Ferrari to run the wing for the rest of the weekend in Spain, but not in Monaco or beyond.
Domenicali denies being too nice to head Ferrari
(GMM) Stefano Domenicali has fended off claims Ferrari needs a stronger character at the helm of its F1 team, such as the controversial Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho.
"Mourinho is my friend," Italian Domenicali told the Spanish sports newspaper AS when told Ferrari needs a figure like the Portuguese in charge.
"I will not speak ill of him," he said, rejecting speculation some of Ferrari's troubles since the heady days of Michael Schumacher and Jean Todt is that the team's new leader is too nice.
"Everyone has his own style. If winning is a problem of being hard or soft, I say in 2008 we won (the constructors' championship).
"I don't care what is said, the important thing is to have authority within the group you govern. And frankly, if last year we had won the title in Abu Dhabi, how different would it be now?
"You see? Sorry to say so, but you have to use your head. I respect what you are saying, but I disagree," he insisted.
The interviewer pointed out another observation that Ferrari has reverted to Italianization in the wake of the ultra-successful influences of departed Frenchman Todt and Briton Ross Brawn.
"I think I will not answer because I am a certain sort of person," smiled Domenicali.
Asked to clarify his final point, he added: "No, look, I have replied, but perhaps not as I should have out of respect for your readers. It is not my style."
State to support only two more F1 races at Nurburgring
(GMM) The new government of the German state Rhineland-Palatinate has reduced its support for the Nurburgring's formula one race.
We reported last month that because the ruling SPD political party lost its absolute majority in the recent elections, the new green alliance had endangered the Nurburgring's state funding.
"I have a problem if tax money is needed to ensure that more millions and billions are reaped in profits (by F1)," said Grunen party chief Daniel Kobler.
According to the latest reports from Germany, the new government has decided to limit its support to just two formula one races until 2016.
The Nurburgring is scheduled to host this year's German grand prix in July, but according to the alternating deal with Hockenheim, the circuit was also due to stage the race in 2013 and 2015.
The plan for just two more F1 races by 2016 was confirmed on Friday by the new interior minister Roger Lewentz.
He said that beyond the new plan, he will start to negotiate about the future with F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.
Alguersuari happy with controversial new hard tire
(GMM) Jaime Alguersuari's was a lone voice in Barcelona when he praised the new 'super hard' tire compound supplied by Pirelli.
Lewis Hamilton had slammed the tire - designed to degrade less quickly by offering less grip - as a "disaster", while Fernando Alonso refused to comment.
But Barcelona local Alguersuari, at the wheel of the Toro Rosso, was happy.
"We ran a long stint with the super hard tires and I had never been so consistent with so little degradation, which is a step forward," he is quoted by EFE news agency.
"I think the main problems we have had were with the tires and I found myself running more comfortably and faster," added Alguersuari.
The angry Hamilton had said his McLaren was up to 2.5 seconds slower per lap on the super-hard compared to the alternate soft compound, but Alguersuari said the difference was much less.
"I had a good feeling," he continued. "You have less grip, but it's easier to drive. I'd never done a race simulation with 130 kilos of petrol over 15 laps with the same rhythm."
Webber pushing to 'stop Sebastian's streak'
(GMM) Mark Webber has played down his chances of beating Sebastian Vettel to pole, but insists he is on the right track to catching his widely-lauded Red Bull teammate.
After a difficult opening four races to 2011, the Australian was quicker in both Friday practice sessions at Barcelona, the scene of his victory from pole a year ago.
"I have improved, but I still have not been as fast as Sebastian in qualifying," he admitted in an interview with O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper.
"From pole, he can manage the degradation of the tires. I drop behind with faster wear and have to replace them before him, compromising my race. But he (Vettel) is driving like never before," acknowledged Webber, 34.
He knows the time is now to kick-start his campaign for the 2011 championship.
"I have to stop this winning streak of Sebastian's," said Webber. "If he wins the next three or four it will be bad for me and for you (the media)," he added.
Webber said the FIA's decision to ban off-throttle exhaust blowing in the next few races is "absurd", and Red Bull's F1 consultant Helmut Marko agrees.
"Anything we invent is immediately questioned," he is quoted by Kleine Zeitung newspaper.
But: "In the event that the regulations are rewritten, we already have a solution," he warned.
Lauda urges Schumacher to think about retirement
(GMM) Michael Schumacher's predicament in 2011 reminds Niki Lauda of the end of his own formula one comeback.
The great Austrian retired as a double world champion in 1979, only to return three years later to face the young Alain Prost at McLaren.
Schumacher, the ultra-successful seven time world champion, also took a three-year retirement after 2006 and has struggled on his return with Mercedes.
"Now is the time when Michael must go as fast as Nico (Rosberg) in the same car, no doubt about it," insisted Lauda.
"If he can't do it, he needs to think about it. Just as I had to think about it in those days when the little Alain Prost came, I was able to win the title by just half a point because of my experience.
"The next year he drove me into the ground in the same car. Then I had the question: Am I still, as one from the generation before, still able to have the right performance?" he told the German broadcaster RTL.
"I realized that I could not. At some point Michael will have to realize the same," added Lauda.
Red Bull hits back at Schu's staff limit jibe
(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko has hit back at Michael Schumacher after the seven time world champion accused Red Bull of breaching the rules about staff numbers.
Earlier this month, the Mercedes driver referred to a clause in the Resource Restriction Agreement when he said "certain teams don't respect that".
"If you take the number of people we have compared with Red Bull, that is very different," said Schumacher.
Indeed, Mercedes employs 400 people at Brackley, plus 20 for administration and marketing in Stuttgart.
Red Bull, meanwhile, has 550 staff at Milton Keynes.
The latter's Marko told Auto Bild: "The agreement never came into force. We were reluctant because it (the staff limits) were purely for the chassis development."
He said if F1 teams want to limit staff numbers, then the limit should also apply to the development of engines.
For instance, Mercedes employs another 400 people for the development of its F1 engines, while Red Bull's supplier - Renault - has just 170 staff at Viry-Chattilon.
"Mr. Schumacher should be asking how many people work on his Mercedes engine in Brixworth," said Marko.
"Why should we make concessions in the development of the chassis when Mercedes has every freedom for the engine?"
Ferrari removes high wing after FIA ban
|Fernando Alonso in his high-winged Ferrari on Friday|
(GMM) Ferrari on Saturday morning removed its controversial high rear wing for the start of the final pre-qualifying practice session in Barcelona.
The FIA was overnight looking into the legality of the wing, whose technically 3cm higher-than-legal height exploited a loophole about slot-gap separators.
"It's a very clever interpretation of the rules and we've got to decide whether we think it's a good interpretation of the rules," said technical delegate Charlie Whiting on Friday.
Reports in Italy had suggested Ferrari was likely to get a one-race reprieve and would only have to remove the wing for Monaco and beyond.
In fact, Whiting told Ferrari to remove it immediately.
"(The cars) are fitted with a standard rear wing after the team was told that the solution tested yesterday could be declared illegal," confirmed the Maranello based team.
Exhaust saga could become F1 protest scandal
(GMM) F1 threatened to burst into a new controversy on Saturday as the FIA moves against blown exhaust diffusers.
The governing body intends to clamp down on the off-throttle blowing of exhausts within the next few races.
But Charlie Whiting, the FIA technical delegate, admitted to reporters late on Friday that the technology is in effect already illegal, due to the wording of the regulations about driver-assisted aerodynamic aids.
It means Virgin, HRT and perhaps Williams, the teams not using sophisticated blown exhausts in Spain, could theoretically protest the outcome of the Spanish grand prix -- a risk Whiting acknowledges.
"I've made that clear to the (other) teams," he said. "It (a protest) could happen and then we'll just take it to the stewards in the normal way."
That could result in most of the field being disqualified, an outcome that reminds of the farcical 2005 US grand prix, when only six cars had tires suitable to race.
"I'd like to think that probably wouldn't happen but one never knows. It's not beyond the realms of possibility," said Whiting.
The possibility moved closer to reality on Saturday morning, when it emerged that the Virgin cars have in Barcelona reverted to its Shanghai-specification exhaust layout overnight.
The back-of-the-grid team has been trying to introduce a blown exhaust in Turkey and in Friday practice in Spain, but Saturday's news means the car is now technically one of only two or three legal ones in the entire Barcelona field.
Team president Graeme Lowdon confirmed to the British broadcaster BBC that the decision to revert to the old layout is related to the blown exhaust controversy.
"Currently we have no intention of protesting anything at all," he said, adding that the chance Virgin might change its mind later is "highly unlikely".
"We're just ensuring our car is legal in the event that someone protests against us," added Lowdon.
Ostensibly for technical reasons, Williams was uncommitted late on Friday about pushing ahead with its own blown floor this weekend, while team chairman Adam Parr confirmed that it was the British team that recently asked the FIA about the legality of the systems.
"Yes, we - and I don't know if we are the only team - but we have checked the situation with the FIA to make sure before we spend a lot of money," he said.