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DATE News (chronologically)
08/03/11
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Last Thursday  UPDATE According to UK sources, Bernie Ecclestone will be indicted today or tomorrow by German authorities over the bribery case. In the caption below a week ago we asked the question, will this be Bernie's last hurrah?  Ecclestone scoffed at claims the scandal could bring him down as F1 chief and even see him jailed.

"The end?  Of course not," said the Briton.

"I will be doing what I do best for a while yet -- making good deals to keep a lot of people happy and well off in F1.  Some might not want me to continue but I enjoy what I do.  That is what I'll be judged on."

07/28/11

  • Will this be Bernie's last hurrah?
    CVC investors 'worried' about Ecclestone scandal
  • Button eyes longer stay at McLaren
  • Vettel still on track for 2011 title
  • Button insists no team orders at McLaren
  • Top teams pushing for more staff at GPs
  • Still loopholes in 2012 blown exhaust rules
  • Signature still missing from Webber deal - Horner
  • Schumacher only needs good car to win again - Alonso
  • Sauber keeps same drivers for 2012

CVC investors 'worried' about Ecclestone scandal
(GMM)  Investors in F1's owner CVC Capital Partners are worried about the Gerhard Gribkowsky bribery scandal, the Financial Times has reported.

The report said the investors are calling on the private equity group to clarify the affair, with F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone accused of bribing Gribkowsky amid BayernLB's sale of formula one to CVC some years ago.

"There has not been much communication from CVC on F1 and we are slightly worried about it," an unnamed European investor is quoted as saying.

"We do not know more about this than what we read in the media."

CVC said in January it has "no knowledge of, nor any involvement in, any payment to Mr. Gribkowsky".  The company has never been accused of wrongdoing.

But the Financial Times said F1 managers and investors are questioning CVC's apparently "paralyzed" reaction to the scandal.

The report's journalist Daniel Schafer said the investors are also "angry that Donald Mackenzie, the private equity group's management partner responsible for the deal, is not willing to replace Mr. Ecclestone as chief executive of Formula One Management".

But Mackenzie was reportedly "incensed" when he learned of the payments that moved between BayernLB and Ecclestone amid the sale of the commercial rights.

The unnamed investor, however, said a revolt is unlikely.

"It is one of those cases where investors are willing to put up with a lack of communication as CVC has simply shown such great returns," he said.

Button eyes longer stay at McLaren
(GMM)  Despite earlier links with a potential team switch, Jenson Button has now indicated he wants to stay at McLaren for the long term.

Team boss Martin Whitmarsh at the Nurburgring refused to say if the 31-year-old's 2012 contract option would be taken up, but indicated that McLaren wants to hold onto Button as well as Lewis Hamilton.

Button, the 2009 world champion, has made noises recently about Ferrari, but he has now told Spain's Marca sports newspaper that he would like to end his career at McLaren.

"Yes, as I said at the beginning of the year in China, I don't think those were my exact words but for me being at a team that has won many titles and can win the championship is exactly what I want.

"After winning the championship I want to be with a team that always gives me the opportunity to fight for it and this (McLaren) is one of them," said Button, who will start his 200th grand prix in Hungary this weekend.

And the Briton indicated that he has no plans to retire any time soon.

"I was thinking (that) if I did four more years in formula one I would be 35 and I would retire from racing.  I mean, what the hell am I going to do at 35?" he said.

Vettel still on track for 2011 title
(GMM)  F1's last-start race winner Lewis Hamilton thinks winning the 2011 world championship remains a long shot.

He said that although his McLaren raced to victory at cold Nurburgring last weekend, runaway championship leaders Red Bull were "light years ahead" a year ago at the scene of the Hungarian grand prix.

"Naturally we will try to improve, but I do think we will have to wait until next year before our car is maybe as good as theirs," said Hamilton.

His teammate Jenson Button agrees that even if Sebastian Vettel doesn't win another race this year, he is probably still headed for the title.

He compared the situation to 2009, when after a meteoric start with dominant Brawn GP, Button failed to win races in the second part of the season

"I still won the championship with two races to go and he (Vettel) does have a 77 point lead," said the Briton.

Nevertheless, the recent trend is that Vettel and Red Bull's utter dominance of the early season could now be over.

"We can assert that from now until the end of the season there will be a fight for each victory, because three teams are finally at the same level, at least in race conditions," test driver Pedro de la Rosa, referring to Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari, told formulasantander.com.

"Perhaps it is a bit late, and it may be that driving with the aid of a calculator will now be sufficient (for Vettel), but what a wonderful battle we finally have," he added.

Agreed former F1 driver Luciano Burti: "Missing nine races to the end, Vettel and Red Bull should be careful."

But another ex-driver Jos Verstappen thinks German Vettel, 24, just needs to drive with his head, no matter the encroaching competitiveness of his rivals.

"Alonso said that Vettel is making mistakes because the pressure has increased, but I think it's just that his car is now slightly not as good.  That makes you take more risks as a driver," he wrote in his De Telegraaf column.

"If Vettel uses his ordinary common sense, nothing will go wrong for him and he will win another championship," added the Dutchman.

Button insists no team orders at McLaren
(GMM)  A 'team orders' debate will not break out at McLaren, according to Jenson Button.

With team orders now legal, Mark Webber was told by his Red Bull chiefs at Silverstone to hold station behind Sebastian Vettel.

2009 world champion Button says the same situation will not occur at McLaren between his team management and teammate Lewis Hamilton.

"I hate team orders, I don't think it's a good thing for F1, although many people disagree with me," he told the Spanish sports newspaper Marca.

"The good thing for me is that this team does not have team orders, so Lewis and I can fight each other as hard as we want."

Red Bull defended its Silverstone team order on the basis that it didn't want to see Webber and Vettel collide, as they did in Turkey last year.

"Well, this year Lewis and I got together once, but most of the time - and we've raced together a lot over two years - it has been great, with lots of action," said Button.

"If you take that out of the sport it's more boring, so I don't like team orders.  Other teams will use them, but not us," he added.

Top teams pushing for more staff at GPs
(GMM)  Top teams are pushing to allow more staff to travel to grands prix.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that, under the current cost limiting agreement, a maximum of 47 people per team can be assigned for the actual operation of the cars at grands prix.

"Red Bull wants the number increased to 65," read the report.  "McLaren is calling for 57.  Only Sauber and Mercedes want to keep the number at 47."

A limit is also in place for the maximum number of factory-based staff, but Bild newspaper said most teams have been "really creative" to break that limit.

"McLaren has seconded personnel to Force India and Virgin.  Ferrari technicians are used for the care of historic racing cars.  Red Bull has hired specialists from outside", said the German newspaper.

Auto Motor und Sport also revealed the extent to which teams are pushing the envelope in other areas.

At the Nurburgring, for example, the FIA had to tell Ferrari and Force India to embroider the FIA safety information on the collar of the drivers' overalls, rather than have it printed on.

An FIA official was quoted as supposing that the teams were "fighting for every gram" of weight-saving.

Still loopholes in 2012 blown exhaust rules
(GMM)  The blown exhaust saga may not be over for long, according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

The report said there are loopholes in the new rules for 2012 that will require the exhausts to exit at the top of the car rather than into the diffuser.

The new issue - the continuing possibility of the gases being used for aerodynamic effect in 2012 - was reportedly raised during a meeting of technical bosses at the Nurburgring last weekend.

Sauber's technical boss James Key admitted that the new rules might contain some loopholes.

"It's difficult to say what will happen when the teams have had six months to think about it," he said.

But he said the 2012 rules are better than the ones that are in place at present with regards to exhaust blowing.

"It will definitely not be a situation like the one we have right now," said Key.

Signature still missing from Webber deal - Horner
(GMM)  Christian Horner has denied reports that Mark Webber has now signed on with Red Bull for 2012.

But the team boss indicated he is happy to retain the 34-year-old Australian alongside Sebastian Vettel.

"The only thing missing is the signature, but to me this is just a formality," Horner said during an interview with Germany's Sport Bild.

"To be honest, I have a problem imagining any other driver in our car, or Mark Webber with another team," he added.

Horner insisted that the issues that arose after Webber ignored team orders at Silverstone were resolved in a "really good talk", and tipped Vettel to immediately bounce back from his disappointing performance at the Nurburgring.

"It is impossible to win every race, but Sebastian races all the time at an extremely high level," he said.

"Of course, a formula one driver - unlike an athlete or a tennis player - is very dependent on his equipment.  But it still comes down to what he makes of it.

"Without us and his car Sebastian would not be as good, but also true is that we would not be as good without Sebastian," added Horner.

Schumacher only needs good car to win again - Alonso
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso thinks his old championship rival Michael Schumacher is still capable of winning.

The pair fought for the title during the final season - 2006 - of Schumacher's ultra-successful first career spanning seven world championships and 91 wins.

But since the great German returned in 2010, he is yet to stand on the podium even once in 29 races, raising questions about his advancing years, his motivation and his skills.

Spaniard Alonso, however, pointed the blame at Schumacher's Mercedes.

"When Michael finally has a good car again then we will certainly have some more fun together at the front," he is quoted by Swiss newspaper Blick.

"I am convinced that Schumacher could win again," added the Ferrari driver.

Meanwhile, Blick's veteran correspondent Roger Benoit raised the possibility that Nico Hulkenberg could return to Williams next year to replace Rubens Barrichello.

He also said Jarno Trulli, having sat out the Nurburgring, may now be fighting for his career with a new power steering system in his hands in Hungary.

"We are not expecting miracles from that (system)," insisted Team Lotus boss Tony Fernandes.  "It is obviously a small part but, for Jarno, pretty vital as the aim is to give him the feel he needs from the car to extract every ounce of performance he can."

Sauber keeps same drivers for 2012
(GMM)  Sauber on Thursday said its current drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez are staying with the Swiss team in 2012.

The team also said in the media statement that Perez's Mexican countryman Esteban Gutierrez, 19, will remain the official reserve driver next year.

"We are very pleased with our drivers," said boss Peter Sauber, who revealed that Japanese Kobayashi's deal is the result of the Hinwil based team taking up an "option" on his contract.

As for Perez, closely linked with the team's sponsors including Telmex, team principal and owner Sauber said his existing contract already "went beyond 2011".

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