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DATE News (chronologically)
07/23/11
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Saturday  UPDATE Updates show in red below.

07/23/11
  • Jarno Trulli
    Trulli should consider leaving F1 - Coulthard
  • Ecclestone might 'back off' F1 amid scandal - Mosley
  • F1 still discussing silent pit lanes for 2014
  • McLaren trailing victory battle in Germany - Coulthard
  • F1 drivers can't ignore team orders - Heidfeld
  • F1 considers three Friday sessions for 2012
  • Ecclestone vows to 'try' to keep Nurburgring in F1 New
  • Hamilton: F1 crown 'holds less value' than it used to New

Trulli should consider leaving F1 - Coulthard
(GMM)  Jarno Trulli should vacate his seat completely if he is no longer enjoying formula one.

That is the view of the veteran Italian's contemporary David Coulthard, who today travels to the grands prix as a consultant to Red Bull and commentator for British television.

Team Lotus boss Tony Fernandes this weekend admitted Trulli, 37, had been "extremely accommodating" in agreeing to step aside for the Nurburgring weekend so that Karun Chandhok can have a full weekend in the car.

It is suggested that Trulli is happy to wait until Hungary for a new power steering system and in order to guarantee a contract for 2012, but Scot Coulthard said the Italian should consider whether he is still enjoying the sport.

"If Jarno is not enjoying it any more it would be better if he made way for someone who did," the former Williams, McLaren and Red Bull driver wrote in his Telegraph column.

"I don't see his results, and by extension his motivation, improving significantly from this season to next."

Ecclestone might 'back off' F1 amid scandal - Mosley
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone appeared at the Nurburgring on Friday, despite suggestions he might skip the journey to Germany for fear of being arrested.

The F1 chief executive is finally admitting he paid $44 million to jailed German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, but he denies it was a bribe.

Even so, some suspected the fact the charges laid against Gribkowsky coincided with Germany's F1 event would convince Ecclestone to remain in Britain to avoid potential trouble.

But he told the reporter for Bild newspaper at the Nurburgring: "I said I would come, so here I am."

And Ecclestone told the Financial Times when asked if he fears being arrested: "No, not at all.

"I'm concerned it's going to be bloody wet and cold.  Otherwise, should be a good race."

But many paddock insiders on Friday cast serious doubt on billionaire Ecclestone's explanation that he was blackmailed by Gribkowsky to avoid trouble with inland revenue.

"Bernie does not get blackmailed," one was quoted by the Telegraph.

At the very least, Ecclestone admitted that he regrets paying the money.

"So many things in life are hindsight," said the 80-year-old.

"It's not my style to have anyone threaten me.  Believe me, in my life I have been threatened properly.  But in this case they (the lawyers) advised me to pay up.

"But don't worry, I have nothing to worry about," added Ecclestone.

One rumor is that the diminutive Briton, perhaps under pressure from F1 owner CVC's investors, might step aside to allow the scandal to play out away from the sport.

"There is no sign of him backing off," Ecclestone's former power ally Max Mosley told the Financial Times.  "On the other hand, maybe he will."

F1 still discussing silent pit lanes for 2014
(GMM)  Silence may not descend on formula one, despite the FIA announcing that cars will have to drive with only regenerated electrical power in the pitlane in 2014.

The FIA said that part of the new 'green' V6 rules for the future is that the cars will not be able to use their conventional petrol engine propulsion between the garages and the pit entrance and exit.

"There are different opinions on that," admitted Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali at the Nurburgring, admitting that "some manufacturers" are not keen.

"This is a topic that in my view, because of the situation that it is for 2014, it can still be discussed, we have the time to discuss it in a proper way," he added.

Domenicali said one potential problem is that F1 would lose some "passion" with a silenced pitlane, while another is that cars not making any sound could be a safety issue for those working in the area.

Agreed Renault technical director James Allison, who is also FOTA's new technical chief: "There are pros and cons with it from an operational point of view that we're still discussing."

McLaren trailing victory battle in Germany - Coulthard
(GMM)  Red Bull and Ferrari will fight it out for victory this weekend, David Coulthard has predicted.

"It would appear that Ferrari and Red Bull have the edge on McLaren," the Scot, a veteran of almost 250 grands prix, surmised after watching the practice sessions at the Nurburgring on Friday.

"Red Bull have taken pole at every race this year and I would expect that trend to continue," he told the Telegraph.

It is a neat summary in the wake of Ferrari's continued resurgence and the fact that McLaren, as at Silverstone two weeks ago, appears to have taken a step backwards.

Also looking stronger is Mark Webber, with his team orders stoush with Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel appearing to have given him wings.

At the same time, championship leader Vettel appeared to struggle somewhat in front of his home crowd, but forecast rain and low temperatures could give him the edge over Ferrari in the coming days.

"In the rain we still have a problem," admitted Silverstone winner Fernando Alonso to Auto Motor und Sport.  "The worst thing for us is a wet and cold track."

German Vettel told O Estado de S.Paulo: "Our forecast is for rain."

With his 80 point lead, however, the weather is a minor concern for the bigger picture.  More important for Alonso is a consistently quick car -- and for McLaren to improve.

"I need six or seven 'teammates' to be able to finish ahead of Vettel and take points off him.  Otherwise it (the title) is going to be difficult," he said.

There are also mind games at play, with McLaren's Jenson Button openly admitting to trying all he can off the circuit to add to the current tension at Red Bull.

"I love it that there is a disagreement.  It is what McLaren need," he said.

F1 drivers can't ignore team orders - Heidfeld
(GMM)  Nick Heidfeld has admitted he gave up his only shot at grand prix victory some years ago because he respected a team order.

The old team orders debate resurfaced after Mark Webber refused to back away from his Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel in the closing stages of the British grand prix.

But Heidfeld, still chasing his first win at the age of 34 and with approaching 200 grands prix under his belt, told Der Spiegel at the Nurburgring that he gave up a win at Montreal for his then BMW teammate Robert Kubica in 2008.

"I know I can win," he said.  "I once had victory in sight and gave it up for the sake of my team.

"In Canada I was leading and in front of Robert, who was on a different strategy where he had to stop again for new tires.  I did not.

"So that he could use his strategy I let him pass -- the team had calculated that they would either get first place for me and fourth for Robert, or if I helped then a one-two."

Interviewer Ralf Bach asked Heidfeld if he regrets his decision.

"Put it this way: if I ended my career without winning a race, then yes.  I also know that some drivers have ignored the requests of their teams.

"But I'm not just a formula one driver but also a member of a team, and you can't forget that," he said.  "It's unfortunate sometimes but that's the way it is."

Oddly for Heidfeld, he is now occupying Kubica's Renault race seat, hoping on the one hand that the Pole recovers from his injuries and on the other pushing to stay at the team for 2012.

"I'm trying everything possible to stay," he said.  "It is my clear goal."

F1 considers three Friday sessions for 2012
(GMM)  F1 is considering installing a third Friday practice session for the 2012 weekend format.

The proposal is the result of recent talks about slightly relaxing the current total ban on in-season testing, and particularly its impact on the development of young drivers.

"We should not go back to what we had, but in between there is a compromise," said Renault team boss Eric Boullier, who is also deputy chairman of the F1 teams association FOTA.

"We have proposed to have a short extra session on Friday in which young drivers are used," the Frenchman revealed to German website motorsport-total.com.

The report said the proposal is for a half-hour session before Friday's first official practice.

"It should be a separate test session for which a separate set of tires is available," added Boullier.

Ecclestone vows to 'try' to keep Nurburgring in F1
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone on Saturday said he will try his best to keep formula one at the Nurburgring.

The new state coalition government has said it will no longer support the German event, with circuit chief Karl Josef Schmidt admitting contract talks for the next race in 2013 have begun this weekend.

"I am very optimistic that formula one will continue as always at the Nurburgring," F1 chief executive Ecclestone is quoted by the Rhein-Zeitung newspaper.

"I will try my best so that we can stay here," added the Briton at the track on qualifying day.

It has been reported that the circuit operators are seeking a big discount, similar to the one Schmidt successfully negotiated for Hockenheim some time ago.

Ecclestone said: "How can I give a discount if there is no agreement?  No one has come to talk to me from the government.

"But I am sure we will think of something.  Of course I am open to negotiations."

It is believed Ecclestone is convinced Germany is a key market for F1, with Hockenheim not financially able to host a race every single year.

"I have been coming here for about 1000 years and have invested personally a lot in this race," he said.

Hamilton: F1 crown 'holds less value' than it used to
It should perhaps come as less of a surprise during a season in which practically every race seems to elicit an outspoken remark from Lewis Hamilton, but the McLaren-Mercedes star has extraordinarily claimed on the eve of this weekend's German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring that the F1 title 'holds less value' now than it used to – and that he 'never thinks' about his 'one very small world championship'.

In fairness, the chances of Hamilton adding to his 2008 laurels this year are slim in the extreme, languishing as he does a gaping 95 points adrift of runaway F1 2011 World Championship leader Sebastian Vettel in the drivers' standings at the midpoint of the campaign – and with McLaren ostensibly having no answer to the crushing Red Bull Racing steamroller.

When the Briton joined the grand prix grid back in 2007, there was just one previous world champion in the field – his team-mate Fernando Alonso, whom he beat that year as he incredibly very nearly clinched the crown at the first time of asking. Now, there are five – Alonso, Vettel, his current team-mate Jenson Button, record-breaking F1 returnee Michael Schumacher and, of course, Hamilton himself.

There have been 32 world champions in the sport's six-decade history, but 18 of them have triumphed only once, and of the 14 multiple title-winners, just eight have prevailed more than twice. Since his nail-biting, down-to-the-wire 2008 success, Hamilton has seen his career progress frustratingly stall, with McLaren having failed to provide him with a championship-challenging car in any of the three subsequent campaigns – and the pressure is telling.

There has been just a single victory in 2011 to-date, no front row start since Malaysia back in April and – remarkably – no pole position in more than a year and as many wins in the past three years as Vettel has tallied in under four months. With his 2008 title glory now a distant and fading memory, Hamilton concedes that to him, beating the very best in the world only once has lost its luster.

“The world championship is like a gold medal,” the 26-year-old is quoted as having said by the Daily Mirror, suggesting that the thrill of the fight for him is no longer enough, and that true satisfaction and inner-validation come solely from winning. “It's great to have, but doesn't last very long. You move on. I never think about my one very small world championship.

“In the past, not many people won the championship – it was the same guys winning them – but now everyone has them. There are five drivers on the grid with championships. A different guy is winning it every year, so it holds less value for me because other people have won – but having two or three, that's a nice feeling. That would say something.”

Erstwhile McLaren driver David Coulthard, meanwhile, has echoed Hamilton's concerns in bluntly warning his former employer that unless improvements are swiftly forthcoming, the Woking-based outfit can 'wave goodbye to [its] F1 title chances'.

“McLaren's performance in practice on Friday – never the most reliable form guide, but a guide nonetheless – was not hugely encouraging, with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button seventh and eleventh-fastest respectively,” the Scot wrote in The Daily Telegraph. “McLaren need to get their form back, and quickly, or they can kiss this season goodbye. They made some big claims coming into this race, and they need to deliver.”

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