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DATE News (chronologically)
06/26/12
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

06/26/12
  • Ecclestone making everyone rich in F1
    CVC sees 600% return on F1 investment
  • Red Bull step 'could be decisive' - Alguersuari
  • Hamilton should have avoided Maldonado crash - boss
  • F1 race sharing 'only option' for Valencia
  • Schumacher future still unclear after podium
  • David Coulthard catches 178mph golf ball in Mercedes-Benz SLS
  • Vergne to pay own fine after Valencia crash New
  • No DRS rule for yellow flags - Whiting New
  • Renault working to fix alternator headache New
CVC see 600% return on F1 investment
Private equity firm CVC is set to make a return of more than 600% from its $1B investment in F1 motor racing, according to Sylt & Reid of the London Telegraph newspaper.

It would make F1 "one of the most successful" private equity deals ever, regardless of whether it goes ahead with a planned flotation on the Singapore stock exchange. CVC is the largest shareholder in F1's parent company, Delta Topco.

Over the past six months, however, it has "cut its stake by around half" to 35.5%. Through selling just 28.3% of F1, CVC has already made $2.1B. That is "far more than it paid to buy the business."

CVS purchased F1 in '06 with $1.1B of debt from the Royal Bank of Scotland and a loan of around $965M from its investment Fund IV. Private equity firms "are not renowned for building up businesses, but this is exactly what has happened" since CVC took over F1.

To "ease the gridlock" with the teams, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone "brought all of F1's key companies under one roof." CVC purchased F1's trackside advertising and corporate hospitality divisions, then acquired the sport's feeder GP2 and set up GP3, a "grassroots entry level series" where annual team budgets are around $2M compared to $180M in F1. London Telegraph

Red Bull step 'could be decisive' - Alguersuari
(GMM)  After seven unpredictable and tightly-contested grands prix, Valencia last weekend reminded many F1 analysts of a dominant past.

On the concrete-lined streets, where Sebastian Vettel dominated in his two past championship seasons, the field was once again forced to play second fiddle to a dominant Red Bull.

Only a technical problem stopped the German's charge, but the message was clear: the RB8's latest updates - notably a new double-diffuser style floor - worked perfectly.

An unusually big gap to second place was the first hint after Vettel's strong pole on Saturday, and the next day "Red Bull were phenomenally quick," noted McLaren's Jenson Button, "and it was unexpected."

"For the first time this season," said former Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari, "we saw someone so much quicker than the rest.

"Sebastian Vettel's start and the first half of his race were astronomical and reminded us of the driver of last year.

"The way his team has achieved a very important aerodynamic step could be decisive for the near future," the Spaniard told El Mundo newspaper.

But Vettel and Lewis Hamilton's failures to finish have given Fernando Alonso a big points gap as F1 speeds towards mid-season, but - like McLaren - Ferrari is also wary of the stride forward taken by Red Bull.

"We know what our target is at the end of November and we know that (Red Bull) did something very good this weekend and improved their car," said team boss Stefano Domenicali.

Although gutted after Vettel's failure on Sunday, Domenicali's Red Bull counterpart is also fully conscious of the real situation, with Alonso benefitting from incredible consistency and reliability, if not out-and-out pace.

"Fernando has done a tremendous job," said Christian Horner, "but statistics say he has to have one bad weekend in 20.  It will hopefully balance itself out over the course of the season," said the Briton.

Hamilton should have avoided Maldonado crash - boss
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton should have known better before going wheel-to-wheel with Pastor Maldonado in the dying stages of Sunday's European grand prix.

That is the view of the McLaren driver's boss Martin Whitmarsh, after the British team's top 2012 driver fell 23 points off the championship lead at Valencia.

He crashed almost within sight of the checkered flag in a dice with Williams' Pastor Maldonado, and it was the Venezuelan who was penalized for the crash by the FIA.

And while Maldonado hit out at his rival afterwards, Hamilton's measured reaction was an obvious case of resisting the urge "to throw a tantrum," according to Times journalist Kevin Eason.

In the official post-race McLaren statement, Hamilton said losing the title lead to Fernando Alonso and Red Bull's Mark Webber is "not the end of the world".

But "With hindsight you have to say if you are dealing with someone like that (Maldonado) then you maybe have to take a different approach," boss Whitmarsh is quoted by British newspapers.

Triple world champion Niki Lauda, meanwhile, said in Kleine Zeitung newspaper that he hopes the top drivers are soon once again dominating F1.

"The winner in Barcelona?  Who was that?  Maldonado, but no one remembers.

"Seven winners from seven races, which for you journalists is a hoot.  But now I would like to return to some normality.

"The people who watch formula one need their heroes," the Austrian legend said.

F1 race sharing 'only option' for Valencia
(GMM)  Valencia is unlikely to return to the F1 calendar unless Barcelona and Bernie Ecclestone agree to annually alternate the Spanish grand prix starting next year.

That is the claim of Mundo Deportivo newspaper, following reports Valencia president Alberto Fabra met with F1's chief executive during last weekend's European grand prix.

The Spanish port city has been hit hard by Europe's economic crisis, and a race alternation is now the only option.

"We do not contemplate anything other than the alternating (scheme)," Valencia race chief Gonzalo Gobert said.

Valencia's sports minister Lola Johnson confirmed the talks with Ecclestone and warned that "if they do not sign the alternation, the grand prix is not guaranteed".

Schumacher future still unclear after podium
(GMM)  Even the end of a 2000-day podium drought is not enough to curb the speculation about Michael Schumacher's future.

Although it was powered in part by Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton's misfortunes at Valencia on Sunday, the seven time world champion's return to the podium was an emotional moment for the once-robotic German.

Veteran engineer and manager Joan Villadelprat, who worked with Schumacher at Benetton years ago, admitted he watched the 43-year-old's celebrations through "blurred eyes".

It was Schumacher's 156th career podium, but he was so excited on Sunday that he forgot the old routine and spoke in English when asked to address his fans in his native tongue in the official post-race press conference.

Realizing his mistake, he roared with laughter and then started again, "maybe in German now".

Asked if the emotion of the moment was the reason he decided to return to F1 from retirement, Schumacher agreed: "Yeah, it's those moments that definitely you enjoy deeply.

"The team and myself have been criticized here and there, particularly lately, and this is the best way to answer and therefore I'm proud, thankful and very excited."

So with a podium now in his pocket, is it the right time to think about a new contract for 2013?

"If I may apologize, I have no further news on that matter," Schumacher insisted, "so give me the time that I need and we will see."

Triple world champion Niki Lauda said his fellow F1 great is still on top of his game.

"His qualifying at Monaco was world class, and as we saw in Valencia, he is still one of the fastest if everything fits," he told Kleine Zeitung newspaper.

David Coulthard catches 178mph golf ball in Mercedes-Benz SLS
If this video wasn't made for the viral Web, we don't know what is.

In the clip, Mercedes-Benz shows off a nifty trick involving a 571-hp SLS AMG convertible. Pro driver David Coulthard and pro golfer Jake Shepherd combine for a world record for the longest golf shot caught by a moving vehicle.

Now, we're not sure what the previous record was, or whether one even existed. The trick does get high marks, though, for degree of difficulty.

The video shows Coulthard and Shepherd practicing a few times before the ball lands comfortably in the cabin after traveling nearly 300 yards. We'd bet it took a few more attempts than that.

Coulthard, wearing a helmet and glasses, tracks the ball through the sky before settling under it for the snag. The car needed to travel at about 120 mph as it passed the ball, which took off at nearly 180 mph.

Judges from Guinness World Records were on hand to witness the event.

Stay tuned next week when a BMW attempts to catch a javelin to celebrate the London Olympic Games. We hope.

Vergne to pay own fine after Valencia crash
(GMM)  Jean-Eric Vergne will have to dig into his own pockets after Valencia.

The rookie Frenchman was given a ten-position grid drop for Silverstone after oddly jinking before crashing into Caterham's Heikki Kovalainen on Sunday and then speeding back to the pits with a disintegrating Toro Rosso.

The incident caused the race director to call a safety car period, whilst stewards ruled that a EUR 25,000 fine was also in order for Vergne due to "the serious nature" of the indiscretion.

"What he did was not acceptable and it was his fault," former Toro Rosso team co-owner Gerhard Berger told Austrian Servus TV on Wednesday.

Christian Horner, the boss of Red Bull's senior team, said it is likely 22-year-old Vergne will have to pay the fine himself.

"If it's the driver's fault, he has to pay the money," the Briton, who works closely with Vergne's boss Dr Helmut Marko, said.

"But if, for example, a driver is too fast in the pitlane because his limiter is not working properly, then probably the team will pay the fine.

"Jean-Eric will probably have to reach into his own pockets for this one," added Horner.

The French publication Business Book GP 2012 lists Vergne's estimated 2012 salary at EUR 400,000.

No DRS rule for yellow flags - Whiting
(GMM)  Charlie Whiting has defended the decision to let Michael Schumacher keep his Valencia podium.

After Mark Webber spotted the Mercedes with its DRS rear wing being deployed within a yellow flag zone, Red Bull pushed hard for Schumacher to be penalized.

The stewards conducted a detailed post-race investigation but ultimately ruled that Schumacher deserved the first top-three podium finish of his comeback career.

"The stewards noted that the driver (made) a significant reduction in speed on entering the double waved flag zone," the report read.

But Auto Motor und Sport reports that the officials found that Schumacher had indeed used his DRS amid the waving yellow flags.

"It's not about the DRS position," FIA race director Charlie Whiting insists.  "There is no rule that says the DRS has to be open or closed under yellow flags.

"The decisive element is whether the driver has slowed or not.  And compared to the lap before, Schumacher had taken out a lot of speed," said the Briton.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said that, in fact, Schumacher was slower at that moment than the whistle-blower Webber.

Renault working to fix alternator headache
(GMM)  Valencia flagged a major headache for F1 engine supplier Renault.

Not only did Lotus' Romain Grosjean break down with a failed alternator, so too did Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel.

Initially, it appeared the failures were coincidental, but Germany's Auto Motor und Sport now reports a common link.

And, reportedly, Renault now suspects that a problem suffered by Caterham's Vitaly Petrov in Monte Carlo was also similar.

The unit is reportedly manufactured in cooperation between Renault and Magneti Marelli.

"We don't know what has broken, but we believe it's the same source," said engine boss Rob White.

He also doubts the initial diagnosis that the alternators overheated, in light of the possibility that Petrov's Monaco failure was the same.

Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez agrees: "I heard it was the heat, but we have had races that were just as warm, and you would have to wonder why Kimi or Mark Webber weren't affected too."

Renault works very closely with Red Bull, the French marque's premier partner.

"We know now that it's a problem area," said world champion Vettel, "so we need to work to resolve it as soon as possible."

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