Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday UPDATE Updates shown in red below.
F1 trial twist as Ecclestone deputy fails to show
|Now how would I know where Mullens went?|
- Construction halts as 2012 US GP crisis deepens
- Abu Dhabi test not just about young drivers - Sauber
- Ferrari keeps focus on solving 2012 wing 'fluttering'
- Pirelli says not to blame for Vettel tire failure New
- India and Red Bull collect wins for F1 at awards New
- Ferrari's quit threats not serious - Whitmarsh New
F1 trial twist as Ecclestone deputy fails to show
(GMM) F1's corruption scandal has taken a fresh twist this week.
The Financial Times reports that Stephen Mullens, Bernie Ecclestone's long-term deputy who left formula one a month ago, has failed to appear in Munich as a witness during the bribery trial of Gerhard Gribkowsky.
He was due to give evidence on Tuesday.
|Ecclestone (L) with longtime F1 lawyer Stephen Mullens (R)|
"The court was told Mr. Mullens was using his right not to have to answer questions that might cause him to incriminate himself," read the media report.
F1 chief executive Ecclestone, who like Mullens is a defendant in a separate civil claim brought by former F1 co-owner Constantin Medien, testified in Munich last week.
"Mr. Gribkowsky was quite sophisticated in shaking me down," said the 81-year-old. "I've got shaken down by a lot of people, but not as subtle as with Mr. Gribkowsky."
It is rumored Mullens might have contradicted Ecclestone's claims.
Ecclestone told the court last week that his relationship with Mullens "deteriorated a little while ago".
"From what the prosecutor said ... his (Mullens') testimony may well contradict that of Ecclestone," wrote Telegraph correspondent Tom Cary last Thursday.
Construction halts as 2012 US GP crisis deepens
(GMM) Austin's formula one project continued to collapse this week, with news construction of the Circuit of the Americas has been halted.
Bernie Ecclestone cast doubt on the health of the project last weekend in Abu Dhabi, prompting the Texas comptroller to question whether state funds should be released.
The next domino to fall was the organizers' instruction for workers to down tools and not pick them up again "until a contract assuring the (race) will be held" in 2012.
"The failure to deliver race contracts gives us great concern," said project partner Bobby Epstein.
Comptroller Susan Combs also linked the turmoil with the recent announcement that a privately-funded grand prix will be held in New York in 2013.
"Additional races have the potential to reduce the number of attendees to a Texas race, thereby decreasing the economic impact," she said.
"The ongoing controversies are a concern and we will continue to monitor them."
The project began to fall apart recently when it emerged that promoter Tavo Hellmund, of Full Throttle Productions, was turning his attention to other projects.
"It is the responsibility of Circuit of the Americas to bring it (the US GP) across the finish line," Hellmund's company said in a statement.
"For the sake of everyone, we are hopeful that they can reach an agreement with formula one."
Abu Dhabi test not just about young drivers - Sauber
(GMM) The eyes of the formula one world remain on Abu Dhabi this week, as a big field of so-called 'young drivers' conduct three days of testing.
But, as ever at the pinnacle of motor racing, nothing is ever exactly as it seems.
"I think it is not so much a 'young driver' test," said Peter Sauber, who returned to Switzerland after Sunday's race rather than opting to remain with his team in the Arab emirate.
He might be referring to the fact that, at the age of 30, McLaren's Gary Paffett is not exactly 'young'.
"I think he's still young enough to be in formula one," insisted team boss Martin Whitmarsh.
In reality, with F1 testing now such a rarity, the top teams need reliable drivers at the wheel, as nowhere in the rules are they forbidden from trialing solutions for the 2012 season this week.
"In our case, the priority is the technical program," confirmed Mercedes' Ross Brawn, who is running Sam Bird throughout the three day test.
"We've got Nico (Rosberg signed up) for the long term and we are not right now in the market for a young driver," he added.
Ferrari reserve driver Jules Bianchi's car was running a huge gantry of aerodynamic sensors on Tuesday, while Valtteri Bottas' Williams had 2012-style top-exiting exhausts.
Jean-Eric Vergne's Red Bull was fitted with a device to record front wing flexibility, and teams were getting their first taste of Pirelli's 2012 tires.
"I was surprised how different the Pirelli prototype 2012 was compared to the normal 2011 tire," said Canadian Robert Wickens after testing the Renault.
Sauber's comments may also have been a reference to the fact many in this week's driver lineup are not being considered for official roles but have simply paid handsomely.
GP2 driver Fabio Leimer, fourth quickest in Sauber's C30, is believed to have paid hundreds of thousands of Swiss francs for his single day of running.
In the paddock was the 22-year-old's wealthy backer Rainer Gantenbein, who according to Blick newspaper has forked out more than $16 million throughout Leimer's formative career so far.
Asked if he is a 'madman', he laughed: "Sure.
"(But) I regard it as an investment. It would be great if some money would flow back to me if Fabio makes it to formula one.
"We had some talks with Virgin and HRT (for 2012) but I prefer to give him a third season in GP2."
Ferrari keeps focus on solving 2012 wing 'fluttering'
(GMM) Ferrari has entered another week with a firm focus on the flexibility of its new front wing.
The Red Bull-like component made its track debut recently but in India and Abu Dhabi it was observed "fluttering" violently at the front of Felipe Massa's car.
So among the famous Italian team's job lists this week in Abu Dhabi, where Jules Bianchi is running all three days of the 'young driver' test, is to solve that problem as soon as possible.
"We are trying to find the reasons for the vibration," confirmed Frenchman Bianchi, according to the Spanish sports daily AS.
"There will be no more tests after this (until 2012) so it is very important," he added.
But although front wing flexibility was controversial particularly last year, Ferrari's intense focus on its development ahead of 2012 is seen by some as slightly confusing.
Team boss Stefano Domenicali explained: "This year the exhaust blowing and the rear diffuser has had a great influence on the behavior of the car.
"But for next year the designs will be limited and therefore the aerodynamics of the car returns to being much more traditional," he is quoted by Marca.
"So the front wing once again becomes the most important, not only from the standpoint of speed but the whole balance and stability of the car," added Domenicali.
He said he is "very glad" Ferrari decided to kick off its new focus on the 2012 front wing before the current season had concluded.
"So it means the problems we have had with Felipe's car can be corrected well in advance rather than waiting until February to see what happens.
"Other teams like Red Bull have had this same (fluttering) situation, which is normal because we are all looking for the edge with the front wing to meet the regulations for next season," said Domenicali.
Pirelli says not to blame for Vettel tire failure
(GMM) As speculation swirls following Sebastian Vettel's race-ending tire problem in Abu Dhabi, supplier Pirelli ruled itself out as the cause.
The Red Bull driver's rear tire suffered a sudden loss of air on the second corner of the opening lap, and the flailing rubber on the way back to the pits caused too much damage for him to return to the race.
Media reports early this week suggested that, after Pirelli and the back-to-back world champion inspected the curb and scoured the area for debris that might have caused a puncture, the car's hot exhaust-blowing system might be to blame.
Pirelli said in a statement on Wednesday that it has carried out "an extensive investigation" in the last days.
The Italian marque said "a structural failure of the tire has been ruled out as the cause" by Pirelli engineers and Red Bull.
"Track debris or other outside circumstances cannot be excluded as a possible cause," the statement added.
But motor sport director Paul Hembery commented: "Having looked at the track closely there is no direct evidence of this (debris)."
India and Red Bull collect wins for F1 at awards
(GMM) Formula one has collected two category wins at this year's Professional Motor Sport World Expo awards.
India's new Buddh circuit won in the best circuit category, while Red Bull's title-winning RB7 took the plaudit for car of the year.
The winners were decided by a judging panel including figures such as Gary Anderson, Michael Andretti and Pascal Vasselon, and announced during a ceremony in Cologne.
"With adequate facilities to put on a great event, it will mature into one of the best," said former Jordan and Jaguar engineer Anderson, referring to the new-in-2011 Indian grand prix venue.
As for Red Bull's award, GP2 engineer Jordi Riba said: "The RB7 got my vote for its awesome domination but also for its innovative rear packaging, with the KERS alongside the gearbox and the pull-rod suspension."
1996 world champion Damon Hill, however, thinks the team will have a tougher time in 2012, perhaps because McLaren has a better overall driver lineup.
He thinks Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button arguably outpaces Vettel and Mark Webber.
"I think at the moment they (McLaren) might have the edge on Mark in the Red Bull.
"It's harder when you've won to then steel yourself and put in the same effort again -- to win again and keep doing that," Hill told Sky.
"It's much harder on Red Bull to carry that. In some ways it's easier to catch up."
Ferrari's quit threats not serious - Whitmarsh
(GMM) Ferrari is not serious when it occasionally threatens to quit formula one.
That is the claim of McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh, who is also the chairman of the F1 teams' association FOTA.
He was asked about Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo's recent warning that without key changes to the sport, the famous Italian marque might pull out.
"I have been in this sport for over 20 years and I have heard that said many times," Whitmarsh told F1's official website.
"In fairness I have never believed that Ferrari would step out of the sport -- I might be wrong, but that's my opinion.
"If you told me to take my pension and put it into two teams that would be here in ten years' time I would put my money into McLaren and Ferrari," he said.
Whitmarsh said he thinks Ferrari's quit threats are often fueled by "passion and frustration", and then exaggerated by the press.
But he doubted McLaren would ever make a similar threat.
"I think we would handle it differently because I don't think it does anyone any good," he explained. "If you have a bad result, you are better off being determined to have better ones in the future."