Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday
Red Bull changes tack after Ferrari spy claims
|Close call for Jenson Button|
- Button nearly hurt amid Monaco paddock chaos
- Drivers to keep eye on repaired Monaco surface
- Ferrari says journalist lied about sponsor trouble
- Glock upset about driver back down over DRS
- F1 should consider new qualifying format - Barrichello
- December 4 ruled out for new 2011 finale
- Red Bull could race without KERS in Monaco
Red Bull changes tack after Ferrari spy claims
(GMM) Red Bull has changed its procedures after claiming Ferrari spied prior to crucial pitstops in Spain last weekend.
Team boss Christian Horner backed away from Helmut Marko's allegations of "espionage", but he does agree that Ferrari was somehow able to emulate the timing of Red Bull's pitstops.
"We've just changed our procedure to be less transparent," said the Briton in Monaco.
"There were some comments (by Marko) about Ferrari spying on us which I think have been misinterpreted," said Horner.
"I don't know whether mechanics were putting their hands in their pockets at the wrong time or somebody was picking a tire up," he added, speculating about how Ferrari managed to know about the timing of the stops.
"I think that is probably (the) most likely (explanation), which is absolutely allowed."
He acknowledged that "hacking" into a rival team's radio system "would be very difficult".
Said Ferrari's Felipe Massa: "For sure, we cannot intercept the communications of other teams."
Button nearly hurt amid Monaco paddock chaos
(GMM) Jenson Button was a near-victim of the chaos in the Monaco paddock as teams struggle to be ready for action just a few days after travelling from Barcelona.
As members of the general public roamed the paddock because the security turnstiles were not up and running, and workers in hard hats raced to get motor homes up and running, the 2009 world champion revealed he was almost run over by a forklift.
"I was looking but he wasn't as he was reversing," said the McLaren driver on Wednesday afternoon.
"It makes it a bit dangerous. Maybe we should be wearing hard hats," he added.
It is believed the preparations were affected by the truck fire at Ste-Devote, but Button thinks F1's blue-riband event should not be in such a rush.
"It is very busy out there and we are running through a lot of fans and walking through areas not built yet. I would prefer it not to be back-to-back," he said.
"Because it is such a special event we should have a good space beforehand."
Some teams, however, were not complaining as loudly, such as Williams whose motor home was further advanced than most after the team had packed up and left Barcelona within mere hours of the checkered flag.
And Red Bull is also in good shape, having taken a smaller motor home to Spain while its 'Energy Station' was floated into the Principality's harbor.
"It is very tight but we planned ahead," he said.
Also amid the chaos, the FIA announced that Alain Prost would be the driver steward this weekend. In fact, the official on duty will be former Toyota driver Allan McNish.
Drivers to keep eye on repaired Monaco surface
(GMM) F1 drivers will be keeping an eye on the repaired track surface at Ste-Devote when they tackle the first corner at Monaco early on Thursday.
A major truck fire earlier this week burned the asphalt in the braking and turn-in zone for the famous corner, and circuit organizers have laid a new patch of track in record time.
"I walked the circuit and it looked ok. It looked like they did a good job," said Nick Heidfeld.
Nico Rosberg thinks the only issue will be the seeping of oil because the asphalt is not fully cured.
"We have to see if it rains," added Rubens Barrichello, "but I don't think there's any prediction of that."
Paul di Resta, who witnessed the fire as he recorded a circuit guide with British broadcasters BBC, also admitted he is slightly concerned.
"With the heat we have now, with temperatures not going much below 20 degrees and with track temperature at 45 during the day, you have to wonder at how that's going to cure," said the Force India driver.
Ferrari says journalist lied about sponsor trouble
(GMM) Ferrari has accused a Spanish journalist of lying about the concerns of a major team sponsor.
AS sports newspaper writer Raul Romojaro had said Santander chief Emilio Botin had words in Barcelona with Stefano Domenicali about Ferrari's poor start to the 2011 season.
"When lies are being bandied about then the Horse Whisperer cannot let it go," said Ferrari in a website column written by an anonymous writer.
"Someone in Spain, maybe suffering a touch of heat stroke, made up some piece of science-fiction," the columnist added.
Ferrari pointed out that Romojaro, who was not named specifically in the column, was not even in Barcelona.
"If there is one relationship which is going full steam ahead it's the one between the Prancing Horse and Santander," read the column.
It is possible Ferrari is deflecting some attention as the Monaco paddock gathers mere hours after technical director Aldo Costa "relinquished" his post.
Another rumor is that Fernando Alonso, newly signed up for the next six years, promoted the Costa ousting so that his former McLaren colleague Pat Fry can take full control.
"I have full confidence in those who have taken this decision," the Spaniard is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport. "Now we have to rebuild the organization quickly in order not to lose too much time.
"We have many experienced people like Pat Fry in the important posts," added Alonso.
He is quoted by Diario Sport: "The goal is to try to seek a change of direction. When things are going wrong you have to do something."
Alonso denied he knew about the move beforehand.
"We've never had a conversation about this", he insisted, adding that the team atmosphere in Monaco is "very positive".
Glock upset about driver back down over DRS
(GMM) The F1 drivers' union has missed an opportunity to demonstrate its power, according to Timo Glock.
The Virgin driver was among 19 of his colleagues to sign a document organized by Grand Prix Drivers' Association chairman Rubens Barrichello asking the FIA to totally ban the 'DRS' overtaking system this weekend.
Ultimately, the FIA agreed to ban the use of the wing flap in the tunnel, but Glock told Auto Motor und Sport he is worried the compromise is akin to a back down.
"I don't know if we will still be taken seriously," he said.
Many of the group of 19 are upset with the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher, who refused to sign the document.
It is believed Nico Rosberg, Nick Heidfeld and Vitaly Petrov also refused to sign.
Barrichello however insists he can "live with" the compromise because the FIA at least agreed to ban DRS in the tunnel.
"The rest is fine -- we should try to see what it (DRS) brings to the event," said the Brazilian.
Sebastian Vettel agreed it is a "decent compromise. The tunnel was our biggest concern," he said.
F1 should consider new qualifying format - Barrichello
(GMM) Rubens Barrichello believes F1 should consider reviving the one-lap qualifying system for 2012.
The veteran Brazilian says the popular 'knockout' sessions are no longer as interesting this year because drivers are conserving the Pirelli tires for the race.
"The tires are so different to last year so it's worth having a look (at a format change), although I think qualifying is very good," he said in Monaco.
Barrichello argues that F1 might as well revert to one-at-a-time qualifying, a format used in 2003 and 2004, because most drivers are already doing only one run in each of the knockout segments.
"I think qualifying has been quite good for the past years but we only have one run right now so it's worth having a look to see if there's anything different for next year," he said.
December 4 ruled out for new 2011 finale
(GMM) December 4 has been ruled out as a potential date for a rescheduled 2011 season finale.
Bernie Ecclestone admitted last weekend that the inaugural Indian grand prix could be moved from October to December to make room for Bahrain to be slotted back into the calendar.
"Yes, we are having a look at it. Everything's possible," he said in Spain.
But according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, December 4 for India has been deemed "impossible" from a logistical point of view.
That date is just days after Brazil's Interlagos race, and according to the teams "it is logistically impossible to fly the F1 cargo within days from Sao Paulo to Delhi".
December 11 is the next available Sunday, but that is a full two weeks after the currently scheduled finale in late November. In 2009 and 2010, the calendar concluded in early and mid-November.
According to Ross Brawn, the trend for ever-longer F1 calendars risks alienating the sport's hard-working staff.
"We won't keep the people," he is quoted by the Telegraph. "They will get fed up. Their families will get fed up and it will all prove to be too much.
"We have to think about it very carefully because we are reaching a limit on what we can subject our people to," added Brawn.
Red Bull could race without KERS in Monaco
(GMM) Red Bull will decide whether to use KERS for the rest of the Monaco grand prix weekend after Thursday's practice sessions.
The technology has caused problems for the otherwise dominant team so far in 2011, and at Monaco its influence is questionable due to the many tight corners and absence of significant straights.
The energy-recovery unit in Sebastian Vettel's car functioned only intermittently en route to a narrow victory over Lewis Hamilton in Spain last weekend.
"I was playing around with the buttons and the brake distribution so it wasn't an easy race and obviously McLaren and Lewis especially gave us a very, very hard time," he said.
His teammate Mark Webber told Auto Motor und Sport in Monaco: "We will test with it on Thursday."
German Vettel admitted that removing KERS from the RB7s after practice is an option.
"If we have some problems again, we need to consider if it makes more sense to concentrate fully on the driving," he said.