Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday
Ecclestone, team bosses, say Bahrain going ahead
- Abu Dhabi hopes F1 sticks with young driver test date
- F-duct legality 'part of the game' insists Haug
- Ferrari has 'great confidence' in Massa - president
- FIA 'not aware' of penalty risk for obscene Vettel gesture
- Ticket prices drop for Korean Grand Prix
- Marussia F1 Team extends relationship with Nexa Autocolor
Ecclestone, team bosses, say Bahrain going ahead
(GMM) F1 team bosses turned out in force as officials insisted next month's Bahrain grand prix is definitely on.
The sport's chief executive Bernie Ecclestone joined Sir Frank Williams, Martin Whitmarsh, Christian Horner, Mercedes' Nick Fry and Pirelli's Paul Hembery at a media lunch in London.
"Talk about heavy support," wrote Reuters correspondent Alan Baldwin on Twitter.
The self-described 'PR offensive' to promote the forthcoming Bahrain grand prix followed reports earlier this week that said the FIA had decided to cancel the race due to ongoing unrest in the island Kingdom.
"It's all nonsense. We'll be there as long as they want us," said Ecclestone.
"Seriously, the press should just be quiet and deal with the facts rather than make up stories."
If it was up to the drivers, though, they might give it a miss. Timo Glock is a brave lone voice: "Why should we expose ourselves to unnecessary risk?" he asked rhetorically.
"If it was up to me, we wouldn't go there," he told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
Bahrain circuit boss Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al-Khalifa, however, dismissed the risk of violence.
"These incidents can happen anywhere," he told AP news agency. "It's not going to stop our grand prix."
Ecclestone added: "I don't need any personal security, but whatever's necessary will be looked after."
According to a poll in popular British magazine F1 Racing, 60,000 of the 100,000 F1 fans polled internationally said it is "not right" for the race to go ahead.
Looking forward to the event, however, is the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights.
Nabeel Rajab, the president, is quoted by the Telegraph: "(F1) is helping dictators and we are going to protest.
"We are going to use the opportunities that a lot of journalists are there and we are going to protest everywhere."
Abu Dhabi hopes F1 sticks with young driver test date
(GMM) This year's young drivers' test could be called off.
Currently, the event - giving inexperienced drivers the chance to drive current F1 cars amid the sport's strict testing limits - is scheduled to take place as per usual in Abu Dhabi late this season.
But with India taking place just one week before the Abu Dhabi grand prix, the test scheduled for the week after and then the races in the US and Brazil taking place next, there are fears some in F1 will have to work on five consecutive weekends.
There have been reports the teams are therefore contemplating dropping Yas Marina and rescheduling the test for a new date at Silverstone.
"Whether they have the tests here in Abu Dhabi is a decision the teams themselves would need to make," Yas Marina circuit boss Richard Cregan told The National newspaper.
"We have made provisions and blocked out the week after our race, but they have the freedom to change that.
"We would obviously be disappointed if Abu Dhabi didn't host the young drivers' test because it has become a part of our season, but I can understand the teams' concerns," he added.
"It's a long season as it is and there are a lot of back-to-back races this year, so it's tough for them."
Cregan said he anticipates a decision to be made mid-season.
F-duct legality 'part of the game' insists Haug
(GMM) Norbert Haug has the 'F-duct' debate around by admitting he questions the exhaust solution featured on this year's McLaren car.
Some teams - notably Red Bull, Lotus and Ferrari - have complained loudly about the W03's aerodynamic configuration, arguing the F-duct ban completely ruled out similar systems that are triggered by a driver's movement.
Mercedes argues that its new F-duct is entirely passive and is triggered not by the driver but by the activation of the 'DRS' rear wing system.
So far, the FIA agrees, but it has led to suggestions Mercedes is only performing in qualifying because of its questionable F-duct, before struggling in the race when DRS use is much more limited.
"We have to live with that," Mercedes' motor racing chief Haug is quoted by Sport Bild, "until we are faster in the race, but it's not true that we do not have a good car.
"We are a serious team that has to pretend nothing; we have prepared well in winter testing."
Team boss Ross Brawn said recently he suspects all the fuss about Mercedes' F-duct is a diversion when it comes to the exhaust solutions taken by some of his rivals in the wake of the blown diffuser clampdown.
Haug agrees that championship leader McLaren's solution, for example, is "probably not what they (the FIA) had in mind when the blown diffuser was banned".
But he also said Mercedes is not threatening to protest the "clever" British team.
"It is quite legitimate that we ask the FIA for a clarification, otherwise we could be missing a trick.
"It's part of the game," he explains.
Ferrari has 'great confidence' in Massa - president
(GMM) Luca di Montezemolo has offered Felipe Massa some cautious backing.
The struggling driver was summoned to Ferrari's Maranello headquarters this week rather than travel home to Brazil to see his young family.
But team boss Stefano Domenicali said the 30-year-old retains Ferrari's full backing, despite two sub-standard performances in Australia and Malaysia and widespread calls within the media for his dismissal.
Germany's SID news agency quotes Ferrari president Montezemolo as saying: "We have great confidence in Massa.
"And at the moment I don't see many outstanding drivers out there," he added.
The implication could be that an "outstanding" driver might be a candidate to replace Massa either now or in the future.
The cream of Ferrari's own driver development academy, Sergio Perez, sensationally finished second behind Fernando Alonso last weekend in Malaysia, with Massa fifteenth.
Brazilian former driver and now commentator Luciano Burti traces Massa's decline all the way back to Hockenheim 2010, when on the one-year anniversary of his near-fatal crash he was told by his engineer: "Fernando is faster than you".
"When that order came, his house fell around him," Burti told Brazil's Globo.
Soon after that, Alonso was - and still is - the darling of Ferrari, while one of Massa's strongest supporters, the O Estado de S.Paulo correspondent Livio Oricchio, now believes the Brazilian is little more than the "test driver" for new components.
FIA 'not aware' of penalty risk for obscene Vettel gesture
(GMM) F1's governing body has played down claims Sebastian Vettel faces a penalty for his behavior during the Malaysian grand prix.
After the race, the reigning world champion dismissed HRT's Narain Karthikeyan as an "idiot" following their on-track collision.
On-board footage subsequently proved that Red Bull driver Vettel, 24, twice showed his Indian driver a 'middle finger' salute.
Reports in Germany suggested the behavior was a breach of the stricter code of conduct under FIA president Jean Todt, with the German theoretically facing anything from a warning to the revocation of his superlicense.
"My understanding is these matters are dealt with by stewards at each grand prix," an FIA spokesman told us. "I am not aware of any other action being contemplated."
Karthikeyan, who was penalized after the clash, told the Hindustan Times newspaper that the stewards favored world champion Vettel's explanation.
"They (the stewards) didn't care about what I had to say because Mr. Vettel told them god knows what when he went and talked to them," he said.
But Red Bull team boss Christian Horner defended Vettel, telling the Mirror that it is "Karthikeyan's responsibility to get out of the way for the leaders".
Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg, meanwhile, partly excused Vettel's outbursts.
"I think Vettel was just emotional at that point of time. At the end of the day, he is just human and sometimes you get emotional," the German is quoted by the Times of India.
Former driver Adrian Sutil goes even further.
"I can understand him (Vettel)," he told Die Welt newspaper in Germany. "I was often angry when I was lapping people, when they make no room for you while they are fighting for places that have almost no significance.
"Karthikeyan ended up influencing not only Vettel's race, but also Jenson Button's. They (backmarkers) have to understand that as well."
Ticket prices drop for Korean Grand Prix
The Formula One Korean Grand Prix Organizing Committee said yesterday it will lower the ticket price for this year’s racing event.
The organizing committee held a grand launching ceremony for the 2012 Korean GP, which is scheduled for Oct. 12 to 14.
The organizer announced that the ticket classifications, currently divided into five classes (R, S, A, B, C), will be reduced to three (R, S, A), with the average ticket price dropping 30,000 won to 320,000 won ($282).
The organizers said they will also offer early bird discounts. Those who purchase a ticket until tomorrow will get 50 percent off the price. After tomorrow, 30 percent discounts will be applied until April 30, and a 20 percent discount is available until the end of May.
This year’s Korean GP will be better than last year in terms of accommodations and transportation, the organizers said.
Marussia F1 Team extends relationship with Nexa Autocolor
The Marussia F1 Team is delighted to announce that it has agreed an extension to its current Official Supplier relationship with Nexa Autocolor, which supplies the team with the very latest paint technologies for its race cars.
Nexa Autocolor has partnered with the Marussia F1 Team since the team’s foundation in 2009 and its products have been used to paint the team’s three iterations of Formula One race cars and transporters since its debut season of competition in 2010. The striking livery of the team’s current challenger, the MR01, has been achieved using the very latest Nano technology paint products.
Andy Webb, CEO, Marussia F1 Team
“Appearances may not be the full picture, but looking good is pretty high on the agenda for the Marussia F1 Team. That's why when we wanted a partner to supply us with something as important as the finishing products for our Formula 1 cars and race transporters, we went to the best. Nexa Autocolor delivers products of the highest quality, with outstanding performance, to meet the tough legislative requirements and performance criteria we have to work to.”
Richard Denison, Marketing Manager, Nexa Autocolor
“We are delighted to be continuing our partnership with the Marussia F1 Team and we look forward to a great season ahead. We are thrilled with the superb finish of the car that has been achieved through the use of the latest Nexa Autocolor technologies. We wish the team the best of luck for the 2012 season.”