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DATE News (chronologically)
Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday
  • Bernie Ecclestone threatens to impose entry fees
    Teams will pay for Concorde delay - Ecclestone
  • Monaco fire damages track surface
  • Sponsors still support struggling Schumacher
  • Brawn not expecting passing in Monaco
  • Sauber, Perez, can count on lucrative backing
  • Villadelprat questions Ferrari's Costa axe 'panic'
  • Trulli confirms 'death of qualifying'
  • Bahrain sacked F1 staff amid protester crackdown
  • Driver tension gone because Vettel faster - Lauda
  • Ferrari laughs at Red Bull's spying charge

Teams will pay for Concorde delay - Ecclestone
(GMM)  If teams do not sign a new Concorde Agreement, they could be charged exorbitant entry fees by Bernie Ecclestone, the sport's chief executive has warned.

Teams reportedly want their share of the F1 revenue pie to increase to 70 per cent after the current commercial contract expires next year, with Ferrari warning that a 'breakaway' series is possible if their demands are not met.

"I don't even care if we don't have a Concorde Agreement," Ecclestone told the Daily Express.

"What we might do is run the championship and ask the teams for money to enter," he added.

F1 teams already pay entry fees to the governing FIA, but Ecclestone argues that it is logical they should also pay fees to the owner of the commercial rights.

"If I want to enter a horse in the Derby, I pay a whacking great entry fee," said the 80-year-old.

He hinted that teams who sign up now for 2013 and beyond will not have to pay the new fee.

"If you are late with an entry in the Derby," said Ecclestone, continuing the horse-racing analogy, "you have to pay a chunk of money to enter the horse.

"If teams don't want an agreement, we will put more money in our bank," he warned.

Monaco fire damages track surface
(GMM)  Organizers of the Monaco grand prix have been working to repair damage to the track after a truck fire this week.

A small lorry, parked in the braking zone for the turn one Ste-Devote corner while workers made minor improvements to the famous street circuit, spectacularly caught fire earlier this week.

The fire caused burn damage to the actual track surface and workers have ever since been making repairs that have been described as "major".

Posting a photo of the repair work, former F1 driver and British commentator Martin Brundle explained on Twitter that the damage has taken place at the "turn-in point" of the corner at the end of the pit straight.

It is feared the new asphalt will not have time to properly dry and cure before opening practice on Thursday morning.

Sponsors still support struggling Schumacher
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher's high-paying sponsors are reportedly holding firm despite his disappointing comeback form.

Triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart told Auto Motor und Sport that, despite his record 91 wins and seven titles, the 42-year-old German "has damaged his reputation" since returning to formula one last year.

As he began his comeback, the German signed Swiss sponsors including Jet Set, Navyboot and Audemars Piguet, and F1 sponsorship expert Zak Brown estimates Schumacher commanded "a fee of about $1 million" for the personal endorsements.

"With every race he doesn't finish or score a point, his brand equity is being progressively eroded," sports business strategy professor Simon Chadwick told the Bloomberg news agency.

Swiss watch maker Audemars Piguet, however, is standing firm with Schumacher, explaining that it was "first and foremost the man and his overall career" that prompted the decision to sponsor him.

Shoe brand Navyboot's chief executive, meanwhile, said he is "very sure that he (Schumacher) will be back on the winning track" soon.

Swiss sportswear label Jet Set declined to comment.

Brown, whose company Just Marketing has negotiated many high profile F1 sponsorships, insists Schumacher is still delivering value of money for his backers.

"It's not like he's coming 18th in races," he said.

Brawn not expecting passing in Monaco
(GMM)  Unlike the other races so far in 2011, Monaco will not be an overtaking-fest, according to Ross Brawn.

The combination of the new 'DRS' rear wing system and Pirelli's high-degrading tires has caused an abundance of passing this year, even in Barcelona last weekend, the scene of usually processional grands prix.

But Monte Carlo will be a track too far for F1's new formula, Brawn suspects.

"The finish line straight is too short," said the Briton, alluding to the 380 meter 'DRS' zone that can be used by chasing drivers in the race.

"With our strategic planning we do not think overtaking will be much easier than before," Brawn told Auto Motor und Sport.

"Even a driver two or three seconds faster struggles to overtake," he said.

Brawn therefore thinks qualifying will, as ever, be arguably the most important day in Monaco this weekend.

"Track position is probably the decisive factor," he agreed.  "So grid position will be more important than at any other track."

There are, however, some unknown factors -- including the possibly extreme degradation of Pirelli's so far unraced super-soft tires, and the influence on a barrier-lined street circuit of the rubber 'marbles' seen so far in 2011.

"I'm not worried at all," insisted the tire supplier's Paul Hembery to Auto Motor und Sport.

Sauber, Perez, can count on lucrative backing
(GMM)  Sauber and Sergio Perez can count on their powerful Mexican backing well into the future.

Carlos Slim Domit, the son of the world's richest man, was in Barcelona last weekend to check on Telmex and other Mexican sponsors' backing of rookie driver Perez and the Swiss team.

"I am very proud, as is the whole country," said Slim, referring to the form displayed so far by 21-year-old Perez.

Asked how long he planned to support the driver and his new team, he answered: "A long, long time.

"Why not?" he added when asked by Blick newspaper if a five-year partnership can be envisaged.  "We have a long term goal.  We want to win the world championship one day.

"We have the time and with Perez a racing driver with great potential.  He is only just beginning his great career," said Slim.

He was told by Blick that ultimate success in formula one costs many hundreds of millions of dollars.

"We will support Sauber with the necessary resources for as much development as possible.  We are very happy with this team.  We are like a family," added slim.

Villadelprat questions Ferrari's Costa axe 'panic'
(GMM)  Joan Villadelprat has questioned Ferrari's decision to oust its technical director.

Villadelprat, a veteran engineer who in the 80s worked for the famous Maranello based team, had predicted the rolling of heads in the days before it was announced Aldo Costa had "relinquished" his top post.

"The pressure on Ferrari at the moment is brutal," he wrote in his El Pais column on Monday, after both Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were lapped in Barcelona.

"Things must change, that's obvious.  But they must avoid at all costs the rolling of heads, a typical reaction at Ferrari when things are not going as planned.

"Rather, they need to consolidate the technical team and give them confidence to keep doing their job.  They are back moving in the right direction but they need more time," insisted Villadelprat.

Two days later, the Spaniard told the sports daily AS that he does not think the departure of Costa is the right response.

"In a company like Ferrari you cannot succumb to panic.  After five races this was not the time to make big changes but the pressure was too great.

"Without doubt, going on now without Costa is a counterproductive measure because he is the same man who last year produced a fantastic car for Ferrari," added Villadelprat.

Meanwhile, Italy's Autosprint reported rumors that others at Ferrari - probably those closest to Costa - may also shortly lose their jobs.

Also noteworthy is that in Ferrari's brief media statement on Tuesday about its "technical side", chief designer Nikolas Tombazis was not even mentioned.

Trulli confirms 'death of qualifying'
(GMM)  The quest for pole position has lost its importance amid F1's new spectacle of 2011.

That is the claim of veteran drivers Jarno Trulli and Rubens Barrichello, with the former claiming earlier this month that the strategy chaos caused by the Pirelli tire situation has meant "the death of qualifying".

"Now I can confirm it," the Team Lotus driver wrote in his latest column for La Repubblica in the wake of the Spanish grand prix.

"The drivers are focusing more on saving a set of tires than doing the fastest lap, and in the race the reason becomes clear.

"Who has more tires, wins," added Trulli.

Williams driver Barrichello agrees that the situation, with the Pirelli tires degrading heavily and a big gap in performance between the compounds, is causing teams to radically re-think the importance of qualifying.

"Some big teams will be thinking seriously about using only hard tires in qualifying, dropping to 16th or 17th, and having three sets of new soft tires for the race," the Brazilian is quoted by Agencia Estado.

"Depending on the track, that could be the best way," added Barrichello.

Bahrain sacked F1 staff amid protester crackdown
(GMM)  Organizers of the Bahrain grand prix must boost their staff numbers if the race is to be rescheduled in 2011.

The Financial Times reports that, as the troubled island Kingdom's government cracked down on protesters recently, about a quarter of the Bahrain International Circuit's staff was arrested, suspended or sacked.

The potentially damaging claim was revealed by one of the detained staff who, according to the report, "declined to be named for fear of retribution".

The source said two senior staff are among those who were detained.

"They (police) were all slapping and kicking me as they led me down the corridor," he said.

"He put my head between his legs, flipped me on to the floor -- and then the beatings really began."

The Sakhir circuit declined to comment, but a government source said the staff were removed for applauding the cancellation of the race.

"Allegations are exaggerated or unfounded to gain international sympathy," claimed government spokesman Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Mubarak al-Khalifa.

The deadline for the rescheduling of the 2011 race is June 3.

Driver tension gone because Vettel faster - Lauda
(GMM)  There is little tension in the Red Bull driver line-up this year because Sebastian Vettel has the clear upper hand.

That is the belief of outspoken former triple world champion Niki Lauda, who predicts that Mark Webber will also struggle to keep up with his teammate in Monaco this weekend.

"No.  Vettel is simply faster than Webber," the great Austrian told Cologne tabloid Express when asked if the high conflict between the pair seen in 2010 might soon return.

Australian Webber appeared to get his campaign back on track last weekend with pole in Barcelona, but German Vettel ultimately won his fourth race of the season.

"We will see that again in Monaco, so again there will be no discussion or tension.  I would bet already that he (Vettel) will be three tenths faster," said Lauda.

He also commented on the decision by Ferrari and Fernando Alonso to extend the Spaniard's contract through 2016.

"I don't understand it," said Lauda.  "I always did two year contracts, which was a mutual actual on both sides to promote competition.  With a long contract, you lose that.

"I am sure that with Ferrari this is a combination of Alonso and the sponsorship of the bank Santander, but if I was Ferrari I wouldn't have done it for so long," he insisted.

Ferrari laughs at Red Bull's spying charge
(GMM)  Ferrari has laughed at reports it could be in the middle of a new spying scandal.

After the Spanish grand prix, Helmut Marko accused the famous Italian team of secretly listening in on Red Bull's race strategies.

"We have noticed that Ferrari is doing some kind of espionage," the Austrian said.

"We called Mark (Webber) into the box relatively late, and yet they (Ferrari) managed to get Alonso in as well.  They had been able to respond to us."

It is believed Marko's suspicions hardened when Red Bull issued fake commands for its drivers to pit in Barcelona, and Ferrari still moved to respond.

"We can only laugh at that," Ferrari spokesman Luca Colajanni is quoted as saying by German-language sport1.de.

"It is clear that everybody observes everybody else," he added.

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