Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday
F1 must react to European crisis - Montezemolo
|Luca di Montezemolo|
- Valencia sells less than 40,000 F1 tickets
- C31 best car in Sauber's history - boss
- Not easy for Perez to leave Sauber team - boss
- Whiting happy after Austin circuit inspection
- Schumacher's bad luck in 2012 'incredible' - Sauber
- Montreal close to new long-term F1 deal - Ecclestone
- Ferrari targets pole with Valencia upgrade
- 25 F1 drivers to tackle Le Mans this weekend
F1 must react to European crisis - Montezemolo
(GMM) F1 must acknowledge Europe's financial crisis and cut costs urgently.
That is the call of Luca di Montezemolo, president of Ferrari, the largest of the four formula one teams that are headquartered in Europe outside of the UK.
There is talk of the need for a sovereign bail-out in Italy, hot on the heels of Ferrari sponsor and Spanish bank Santander's long-term credit rating downgrade.
"The world economic situation and that of Europe in particular is very serious and the world of formula one cannot ignore the fact," Montezemolo said.
"We cannot lose any more time -- we need to tackle urgently and with determination the question of costs.
"Ferrari is in agreement with the FIA's position that drastic intervention is required," he added.
Montezemolo's comments coincide with the expiry of the current Concorde Agreement, and suggestions that some teams are pushing hard for the FIA to police a mandatory budget cap.
Speaking with Spain's AS newspaper, former Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari answered "limited budgets" when asked what he would impose if he was in charge of the sport.
"And I would put further conditions on testing in the wind tunnels," he added.
"In F1, the drivers are absolutely dependent on aerodynamics and some (teams) invest EUR 300 million in this area.
"I would also set five points in one year in which a team can introduce new specifications," said Alguersuari.
Valencia sells less than 40,000 F1 tickets
(GMM) Valencia has sold less than 40,000 tickets ahead of next weekend's European grand prix.
El Pais newspaper reports that, of the street circuit's deliberately reduced capacity of 45,000 seats, only 85 per cent have been sold.
And of the 38,000 tickets sold, 64 per cent of them were purchased by foreign visitors, the Spanish publication added.
Spain has been devastated by the European financial crisis, with unemployment at almost 25 per cent and the European Union needing to inject $125 billion to rescue crippled banks.
It is expected that next Sunday's Valencia race will be the last in the port city until 2014, with an alternating scheme with Barcelona set to be formalized soon.
Valencia's sports and tourism minister Lola Johnson, however, insisted on Tuesday that the "grand prix is an opportunity because it adds value to Spain at a particularly difficult time for the country".
The event "ensures the continued promotion of Valencia and helps sustain the growth of a strategic sector such as tourism", she added.
She confirmed that the 64 per cent of foreign spectators next weekend hail primarily from the UK, Germany, Italy, France, the US, Finland, Norway and Switzerland.
C31 best car in Sauber's history - boss
(GMM) The Ferrari-powered C31 is the best car in Sauber's long history, according to team founder, boss and majority owner Peter Sauber.
The Swiss team made its grand prix debut with Mercedes' support in 1993 and even won a race during the recent era of BMW ownership.
But the white and grey C31 is the best yet, Sauber said, after Sergio Perez returned to the podium in last weekend's Canadian grand prix.
Some in F1 circles, however, have largely overlooked Sauber's strength in 2012.
"It's true, we have to improve in qualifying," Peter Sauber, 68, told the Swiss newspaper Blick.
In March, Mexican Perez finished second behind race winner Fernando Alonso.
Sauber commented: "For me, this result (Canada) is more valuable than the second place in Malaysia.
"Canada was a completely normal race -- no rain, no safety car, and the only retirement (in front of Perez) was Schumacher.
"I repeat: Hinwil has built the best car we have had since entering formula one in 1993," Sauber insisted.
"75 per cent of the success is solely in the area of aerodynamics, and we are now the envy of most of our opponents."
It is with frustration, then, that Sauber contemplates Bahrain and Monaco, where Perez and Kamui Kobayashi failed to score even a single point.
"It's annoying," he said, "because the C31 is ideal for all types of circuit. We are competitive everywhere."
Asked if the drivers are a weakness, Sauber answered: "That is a difficult question.
"Kobayashi is a great guy. I love his attitude and he will have success with us."
And referring to Perez's occasional mistakes, Sauber explained: "Well, Sergio is fast and he's easy on the tires. In your second year you can still make mistakes, but that doesn't mean we have to like it!" he smiled.
Nevertheless, Sauber is currently sixth in the ultra-competitive 2012 championship.
"To be within striking distance of the silver arrows (Mercedes) is a good feeling," he admitted.
Not easy for Perez to leave Sauber team - boss
(GMM) Following his latest podium triumph, Peter Sauber has once again played down suggestions Sergio Perez could soon be bound for a top team.
After Mexican youngster Perez almost won March's Malaysian grand prix, rumors began to swirl that Sauber's engine supplier Ferrari could snap him up for the works team.
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo recently played down that possibility at least in the short term, but Perez was back on the podium in Canada, adding fuel to the old rumors.
"Basically I take it as a compliment," team boss Peter Sauber said, "if the competition really wants one of my drivers.
"It means we must be doing things right," he told the Swiss newspaper Blick.
68-year-old Sauber, however, thinks the Ferrari-powered C31 is the best car in the Hinwil based team's almost twenty year history.
He insisted: "I think Perez now knows exactly what he has with our car."
Asked if he is therefore ruling out a team switch for the 22-year-old, Sauber said: "(It will) certainly not (happen) this year.
"Beyond that I think it will be not so easy (for Perez) to leave our team."
Whiting happy after Austin circuit inspection
(GMM) Charlie Whiting sounded happy after inspecting Austin's new formula one circuit early this week.
The FIA's race director, who is also in charge of homologating the venues ahead of their respective grands prix, touched down in Texas immediately after the weekend's race in Canada.
The Circuit of the Americas is still under construction, and has been subject to delays, legal trouble and intense speculation that its inaugural race in November might be in danger.
But Briton Whiting said after his inspection: "It is clear that the significant resources Circuit of the Americas has committed to completing this facility on time and to FIA specifications is making a difference.
"The more than 500 construction workers on site daily are making great progress, and I plan to return to Austin at the end of August for an update," he said in a circuit statement.
The final pre-race inspection in Austin is set for September 25, which will take place 60 days before the first US grand prix since 2007.
Schumacher's bad luck in 2012 'incredible' - Sauber
(GMM) Michael Schumacher's run of bad luck in 2012 is hard to fathom, according to Peter Sauber.
Team boss Sauber, who was instrumental in bringing the seven time world champion into F1 in the early 90s, said that in the third year of his comeback with Mercedes, Schumacher is finally at the wheel of a worthy car.
"But I have to say that Schumacher's bad luck is incredible," Sauber told the Swiss newspaper Blick, referring to yet another technical problem for the 43-year-old in Canada.
In F1's new high-reliability era, Schumacher has failed to finish five of the seven races so far, and is therefore ranked only narrowly ahead of 2012's non-scorers fielded by Caterham, Marussia and HRT.
"I've never seen it in formula one before. I feel really bad for him," said Sauber.
Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn apologized to Schumacher in the team's official post-race statement after Canada, and in the media denied the great German is being given inferior equipment, attention or mechanics.
Brawn now tells Bild newspaper: "Our goal is 100 per cent reliability. We have achieved this with Nico (Rosberg)'s car but not for Michael.
"We are giving this the highest priority."
But with his contract expiring this year, it is rumored Schumacher is losing patience with the situation.
It was rumored he left the Montreal circuit immediately after his retirement without attending his normal engineering de-brief or waiting for the checkered flag.
"Michael did do a debrief with his engineers," Brawn insisted.
"In Canada, he wanted to avoid the big traffic jam that happens after the race.
"One of Michael's special skills that we value the most is his team spirit, which he shows especially in difficult situations."
Indeed, on his official website, Schumacher said it is "completely understandable" that F1 teams' reliability records are not always perfect.
"I won't lose my nerve or my faith in the team," he said.
Montreal close to new long-term F1 deal - Ecclestone
(GMM) Montreal is on the verge of securing a new long-term contract to host formula one until at least 2024, the Quebec newspaper La Presse reports.
It had already emerged that Bernie Ecclestone met at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve last weekend with race and government officials.
F1 chief executive Ecclestone confirmed that the new deal for 2014 and beyond is almost complete, with only a few details left to resolve.
"The annual fee is done," the 81-year-old said. "That's not a problem.
"All they need is the ok for the building (work)," added Ecclestone.
La Presse said Briton Ecclestone is requiring that the Montreal organizers spend $20 million to upgrade the ageing pit and paddock complexes, and resurface the track within five years.
"We don't need it to look like Abu Dhabi, we just want an upgrade," he said.
"We want a facelift. If they do here what they've done at Silverstone, that would be good.
"Canada is important to us," he insisted.
Montreal's new race deal will mean there will be three grands prix in North America, with Austin and New York joining the calendar.
"We have ten races in Europe so I don't see why we can't have three in North America," Ecclestone argued.
However, he expressed disappointment with the controversy that marred this year's running in Canada.
"I think it was all a bit misplaced," said Ecclestone.
"(The cost of student) tuition here is the lowest in Canada, and certainly cheaper than in most other places in the world."
Ferrari targets pole with Valencia upgrade
(GMM) Ferrari has set its sights on pole position in Valencia next weekend.
Since struggling to get out of Q1 early this season, the famous Italian team invested heavily in the F2012 car and in Canada last weekend Fernando Alonso was a genuine challenger for victory.
The Spaniard is also right in the hunt for the championship, with the latest exhaust developments in Montreal having worked especially well.
And according to Spanish sports newspaper Marca, the next developments will be seen in Valencia next weekend, and are especially designed to improve the car's top speed and traction.
"The objective is to get the first pole of the year," the correspondent Marco Canseco reported.
Team boss Stefano Domenicali confirmed: "We have developments for Valencia.
"Our main goal is to achieve pole position and we are not far away.
"The important thing is to keep improving the car, as we will not be happy until we are on pole."
25 F1 drivers to tackle Le Mans this weekend
(GMM) More than 25 drivers with formula one experience will be on the grid at this weekend's 80th running of the fabled 24 hour Le Mans race.
Near the front, in the premier LMP1 prototype class, will be Allan McNish and Marc Gene, driving for Audi.
Scot McNish raced in F1 with Toyota in 2002, while Gene drove for Minardi and is still a Ferrari test driver.
Toyota has since left F1 and for 2012 has entered Le Mans, and the Japanese marque's number 8 entry is a grand prix-superteam featuring Anthony Davidson (Super Aguri), Sebastien Buemi (Toro Rosso) and one-off 1999 Minardi driver Stephane Sarrazin.
Another hybrid Toyota prototype will be raced this weekend by Alex Wurz and Kazuki Nakajima.
Also in the premier prototype class will be the F1 veteran Nick Heidfeld, driving a Lola-Toyota.
His teammates are Neel Jani, a former third driver for Toro Rosso, and quadruple F1 world champion Alain Prost's son Nicolas.
Also driving in the LMP1 class this weekend are Franck Montagny (Super Aguri), Jean-Christophe Bouillon (Sauber/1995), Sebastien Bourdais (Toro Rosso/2008-9), David Brabham (Simtek/1994) and Karun Chandhok (HRT/2010).
In the LMP2 class, former Ferrari and McLaren driver Stefan Johansson, now 55, will be driving a Lola-Nissan.
Also racing will be the Swiss Jean-Denis Deletraz (Pacific/1995) and Bas Leinders, a Belgian who was Minardi's Friday practice driver in 2004.
British veteran and highly respected F1 commentator Martin Brundle, meanwhile, is sharing a Zytek-Nissan with his son Alex, who this year is a regular in the support series GP3.
Also in the LMP2 class are Shinji Nakano (Minardi/1998) and Brendon Hartley, the 22-year-old New Zealander who was an official Red Bull reserve driver in 2009.
Driving a Ferrari 458 in the GT class is grand prix winner Giancarlo Fisichella and Gianmaria Bruni. Italian Bruni, now 31, raced for Minardi in 2004.
Ferrari test driver Andrea Bertolini and Olivier Beretta (Larrousse/1994) share the other Ferrari-linked AF Corse entry, while Jan Magnussen (Stewart/1997-8) is driving a Corvette.
In another Corvette will be the former F1 safety car driver Oliver Gavin, while former Minardi driver Pedro Lamy is set to race a similar car.