Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday
Ferrari corrects Montezemolo's F1 'quit threat'
|Luca di Montezemolo|
- Young drivers pay dearly for Abu Dhabi seats
- Montezemolo happy to hear Raikkonen rumors
- Market waits for last pieces in 2012 driver puzzle
- Spy Coughlan's F1 return 'a scandal' - Montezemolo
- Nielsen joins Team Lotus as Sporting Director
- Jalinier replaces Rey as Renault Sport President
Ferrari corrects Montezemolo's F1 'quit threat'
(GMM) Ferrari back-pedaled on Monday after comments by its president Luca di Montezemolo were reported as a formula one "quit threat".
Railing against F1's emphasis on aerodynamic technology, the absence of 'customer car' rules and private testing, Montezemolo told reporters at the weekend that "without Ferrari there is no formula one".
"We can be very patient but there are precise conditions for us to continue with our work," he was quoted as saying.
"If formula one still wants Ferrari it must change and go back to being at the cutting edge of research, while always keeping an eye on costs," added Montezemolo.
The subsequent media headlines attracted the attention of Ferrari's 'Horse Whisperer' -- an anonymous columnist who regularly hits back at the way issues relating to the Maranello based team are reported.
"Montezemolo's observations were seen by some as a sort of ultimatum or even a threat to leave formula one," the columnist noted, "but the Whisperer can assure you that it was nothing of the kind."
The column insisted that, rather, Montezemolo was being "totally constructive" and has "the future wellbeing of the greatest form of motor sport close to his heart".
Young drivers pay dearly for Abu Dhabi seats
(GMM) The backers of young drivers are paying hundreds of thousands of euros to test formula one cars in Abu Dhabi later this month.
We revealed recently that Swiss 22-year-old Fabio Leimer, 14th in this year's GP2 standings, purchased his Sauber seat for the young driver test.
Earlier, it emerged that Toro Rosso's rides were open to the highest bidder at around the EUR 200,000 mark per day, with Sauber's seat costing even more.
"Yes, we have had to pay for this test," Leimer confirmed. "That's just the way it is in formula one, but first you have to be in the position to do so."
It is a different story at the grandee teams. Red Bull (Jean-Eric Vergne), McLaren (Gary Paffett), Ferrari (Jules Bianchi) and Mercedes (Sam Bird) are taking the opportunity to give their preferred young chargers some rare test laps.
Elsewhere on the Yas Marina circuit, there will be some unfamiliar names like Kevin Korjus (Renault), Max Chilton (Force India), Stefano Coletti (Toro Rosso) and Dani Clos (HRT), while some highly rated young drivers like Christian Vietoris have missed out.
Auto Motor und Sport said the price-tags have been up to EUR 300,000 for a single test day in a midfield car.
"Success in the lower classes is no longer enough," said the German magazine.
Of interest during the three-day young driver test, however, will be the debut of some "prototype tires", with Pirelli pushing ahead with development for the 2012 season.
And in Friday practice for the Abu Dhabi race, F1's regulars will try two sets of "an experimental soft compound", the official tire supplier also announced.
Montezemolo happy to hear Raikkonen rumors
(GMM) Luca di Montezemolo has revealed he is happy to hear speculation about Kimi Raikkonen's possible return to formula one.
At the end of 2009, despite the Finn having a year to run on his contract, the Maranello based team replaced Raikkonen with Fernando Alonso in a deal that coincided with the arrival of Santander as a lucrative new sponsor.
The 2007 world champion went off to world rallying and even tried his hand at NASCAR-style racing, but is now reportedly on the verge of returning to formula one next year with the beleaguered Williams team.
"That he might be coming back makes me feel good," Ferrari president di Montezemolo told Italy's La Stampa.
"Kimi is a very likeable guy even though I have never been able to communicate properly with him," he added.
"There are some drivers like him with the flames of speed burning inside them, like Jean Alesi who is going next year to do the Indy 500."
Montezemolo also dismissed rumors Ferrari is looking to replace Felipe Massa with Mercedes' Nico Rosberg at the end of the season.
"Our drivers are Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa," he insisted.
Market waits for last pieces in 2012 driver puzzle
(GMM) Force India's drivers might have to wait a little longer to learn their fate.
Despite earlier scheduling a mid December announcement, boss Vijay Mallya has been pushed by Adrian Sutil to make an earlier call about the team's 2012 driver lineup amid reports the German will be left out in the cold.
Reportedly in the hot seats for next season are Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg, but the pair insisted in India recently that they are not sure if they will be on the 2012 grid with Force India.
"All the drivers have asked me to make an early decision, and I respect that," Mallya said on Monday.
But the Indian billionaire also said he does not want to rush, and denied rumors he has already made the decision and is keeping it quiet.
"I have a big decision to make! But it's not made yet -- I'm not the type of guy who's going to make a decision and string people along," said Mallya.
"When I decide I will just tell them the way it is and that's it."
The holdup could tie in with the similarly unconfirmed seats at Williams and Renault, with Kimi Raikkonen and Robert Kubica regarded as the keys to unlocking the last pieces of the 2012 grid.
"There are many different options and of course a lot of speculation," Raikkonen, in talks with Williams, told the latest edition of F1 Racing magazine.
"Until something is certain, there is no point in speculating because it could go any way. To be honest, I don't know myself yet."
Alongside the Finn, Sutil - who has been with Force India's Silverstone based team since its Spyker days - is also linked with the Williams seat.
"It is time for him (Sutil) to take the next step in his career," Gerhard Berger is quoted by Auto Bild. "He was always quick but he now races consistently without mistakes," the former grand prix winner said.
Spy Coughlan's F1 return 'a scandal' - Montezemolo
(GMM) Mike Coughlan's return to the top of his game in formula one is nothing short of scandalous, according to Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo.
The Briton was at the centre of the 2007 espionage scandal, sacked as McLaren's chief designer and banned from formula one for receiving reams of secret technical information from a rogue Ferrari employee.
He worked subsequently with the abortive Stefan GP team and also designed the Ocelot armored vehicle before heading to NASCAR with Michael Waltrip Racing.
Earlier this year he returned to F1 as Williams' new factory-based chief engineer, but team chairman Adam Parr quietly announced in India recently that Coughlan is already "our new technical director".
"Coughlan's return is a scandal," Ferrari's Montezemolo told Italy's La Stampa newspaper.
"It seems F1 never misses an opportunity to make a fool of itself," he added.
According to the Spanish sports daily Marca, an unnamed paddock source does not agree.
"'Spygate' was just a political war between Max Mosley and Ron Dennis, because everyone knows that information is swapping between F1 teams all the time."
A separate question is whether Coughlan is the best replacement for his Williams predecessor Sam Michael, who will appear on the McLaren race team for the first time this weekend in Abu Dhabi.
"He (Coughlan) is a good designer," said the Marca source, "but on the mechanical side.
"The aerodynamic aspect is not his forte, but of course, with Williams astray, there was no one better available," he added.
As for Coughlan's spying days in possession of secret Ferrari data in photocopy shops, the 52-year-old insists he has changed since 2007.
"Leaving a team and a sport that I love, and then seeing the consequences of my actions on the team and its fans was devastating," he said.
"All I can do now is work hard and try to earn my place back in formula one. I can only hope that I can earn back everyone's respect."
Nielsen joins Team Lotus as Sporting Director
Team Lotus has today confirmed that Steve Nielsen will be joining the Anglo / Malaysian team as Sporting Director from December 12th 2011, replacing Dieter Gass who is moving on after playing an integral role in helping Team Lotus establish itself as a viable contender for long-term success in Formula One in its first two years.
Steve Nielsen is one of the most respected people in Formula One, having worked his way up through the ranks in a number of teams including Team Lotus, Tyrrell, Benetton and Arrows. In 2000 he rejoined Benetton as Sporting Manager and has led the race team through to its current incarnation as Renault ever since.
Mike Gascoyne, Team Lotus Chief Technical Officer, commenting on Steve’s appointment, said: “Firstly we are obviously sorry to say goodbye at the end of the season to Dieter Gass who was instrumental in helping us put our first car on the grid in 2010 and for bringing the team to such a high level in record time. He is returning to Germany and he goes with our thanks and with our wishes for every success in the future for him and his young family.
“It is excellent news for the team that Steve has accepted the offer to join us as Sporting Director. I have worked with him extensively in the past at both Tyrrell and Renault where we played our parts in helping to build Championship winning teams, which is what we are aiming to do with Team Lotus. I am sure he will integrate very quickly into our operation and will be made very welcome by everyone in Hingham and Malaysia. We have also had some more very good news with the confirmation that our Team Manager Graham Watson has signed a new contract after having played a vital role in the factory and the race team since the early days of Team Lotus. This gives us a trackside team with experience, vision and strength in depth and I am sure both Steve and Graham will help us keep pushing forward as we make our challenge for long-term honors.”
Tony Fernandes, Team Principal: “I first met Steve in Singapore 2010 and offered him a job then which he turned down, so I am delighted he has finally taken up the chance to join us. It is a good mark of our team that we can attract people of Steve’s caliber and I am thrilled that someone who is so well respected, and is coming from a team that is ahead of us in so many ways, shares our belief in our ability to grow and, in due course, challenge the midfield. I am also very pleased that we have been able to agree a new contract with Graham Watson as he has been one of the core pillars of our team, and has had a direct influence on our growth, both on and off track. There are more announcements to come over the next few weeks which will all help us achieve our long-term goals, and today’s news about Steve and Graham is another step forward for the whole team.”
Jalinier replaces Rey as Renault Sport President
Renault Sport F1, the engine manufacturer which will supply no less than four teams on the 2012 Formula 1 grid, has announced a new President. Following the departure of Bernard Rey, the chief role is taken up by Jean-Michel Jalinier.
Jalinier will begin work from 1 January 2012, with Rey having left the Viry-Châtillon company to ‘pursue a new opportunity’, according to a Tuesday statement.
Jalinier will report directly to Carlos Ghosn, who is Chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, while taking responsibility for the strategic operation of the company ahead of F1’s new 1.6-litre V6 turbo era in 2014. He has previously worked with General Motors and Renault Russia.
"All at Renault Sport F1 would like to thank Bernard for his valuable contribution to Renault’s participation in Formula 1," says Jean-François Caubet, Managing Director of Renault Sport F1. "He has represented the interests of the teams at Enstone and latterly at Viry to the very highest levels of Renault, ensuring the continued support of the board. We wish him well in his new ventures.
"We would like to extend a warm welcome to Jean-Michel. His knowledge of the Renault-Nissan group plus his keen interest in Formula 1 and motorsport will serve us well as we move forward to the next phase of Renault’s participation in the sport; four teams from 2012 onwards and the change in engine regulations in 2014."
From the start of next season, Renault will reinvigorate its partnership with Williams as well as supplying engines to World Champions Red Bull plus the newly-named Lotus and Caterham teams (currently known as Lotus Renault GP and Team Lotus).