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Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

  • F1 does not want to become a spec series with customer cars like IndyCar.  Most feel 'spec' should be reserved for development series like Indy Lights, GP2, GP3, etc.
    F1 split over customer car proposal
  • FIA inspected Red Bull suspension after Valencia
  • Valencia hosted second most passes of 2012
  • Button not writing off title chances yet
  • Red Bull calls for 'DRS under yellows' clarification
  • Stuck warns Vettel over safety car conspiracy
  • Journalists at odds over Vettel-to-Ferrari reports
  • F1 success 'just didn't happen for me' - Piquet
  • Williams back in charge after Parr exit New
  • Pollock's Pure offers best price for 2014 engine New
  • Prosecutors say Ecclestone corruption 'accomplice' New

F1 split over customer car proposal
(GMM)  Formula one is split over a new proposal to allow 'customer cars' on the grid.

The idea is being powered chiefly by Ferrari and Bernie Ecclestone, and marketed as a way to cut costs by opening a new revenue stream for the big teams and reducing the design and manufacturing burden for struggling minnows.

Mercedes, however, does not sound keen on the idea of selling a year-old chassis to its smaller rivals.

"If you ran this year with last year's car then just guess what happens," said the marque's Norbert Haug.

Lotus' Eric Boullier, however, sounds keener.

"If we have to go to customer cars to serve formula one and be the formula one of the future, why not?  I think the discussion is open now," he said.

Currently, all teams must design and build their own car, but the existing Concorde Agreement expires at the end of the season.

Caterham, initially Team Lotus, entered F1 in 2010 and is yet to score a point.

"An idea is an idea," said Caterham chief executive Riad Asmat when asked about customer cars.

"We are proud of where we are, what we've built -- we came in as a constructor and we hope to stay that way for now."

Joan Villadelprat, a former F1 engineer and manager, told AS newspaper: "This idea undermines the spirit of F1.  We need to reduce costs in another way."

FIA inspected Red Bull suspension after Valencia
(GMM)  The legality of Red Bull's RB8 could come under the spotlight yet again.

Italy's Autosprint is reporting that Mark Webber's car only narrowly passed post-race scrutineering at Valencia after officials "examined carefully" the new rear suspension layout.

Allied with the innovative 'double floor' which was also debuted last weekend, the developments helped Sebastian Vettel to set pole and dominate the Spanish street race until his retirement.

When asked about his new dominance, the German driver admitted: "That was surprising even for us.  We did not expect to pull out 20 seconds over 20 laps.

"Until the safety car I had an extra pitstop in my pocket, which this year is extremely unusual given how close together the field has been," he told Auto Motor und Sport.

"It certainly would have been a good result."

Vettel admitted the latest developments were a big step forward for the RB8 at Valencia.

"Yes and not only in a certain area, we simply have found more grip everywhere and have found a positive impact for the wear of the tires," he said.

Valencia hosted second most passes of 2012
(GMM)  Written off beforehand as a 'boring' race, Valencia in fact hosted a frenzy of overtaking maneuvers last Sunday.

Before the race, Jenson Button and Mark Webber wrote off their chances of climbing through the field on the basis that passing is always almost impossible between the Spanish street layout's concrete barriers.

But the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat has counted up the genuine passing moves in Sunday's race, and the tally is 58 -- second only to China in 2012.

Last year in Valencia, and with twice as many DRS overtaking zones, there were only 29 overtakes.

Webber and Lewis Hamilton made the most passes on Sunday - 6 each - while Fernando Alonso, Vitaly Petrov and Michael Schumacher all successfully overtook 5 rivals.

"It was a crazy day," Australian Webber said after climbing up from 19th on the grid to fourth at the finish.

The 2012 record for overtaking is Shanghai's 72, followed by Valencia (58), Bahrain (43), Malaysia (40), Barcelona (38), Canada (35), Australia (30) and Monaco (9).

Button not writing off title chances yet
(GMM)  Jenson Button is refusing to write off his chances of winning the 2012 title.

Since becoming the first race winner of the season, the McLaren driver entered a performance slump that has stranded him 62 points off Fernando Alonso's points lead.

"The gap to Fernando is more points than I've got," Button, whose performance took a step forward at Valencia last weekend, said.

Notwithstanding the gap, he is staying positive.

"It (the gap)'s still not a lot, though," the 32-year-old insisted.  "We've still got 12 races."

He thinks his MP4-27 will be strong next time out, for the Woking based team and its drivers' home race.

"Silverstone is a high speed circuit, where our strength is," said Button.  "Our weakness is low speed.  It's a circuit where we should be strong."

He said winning the championship is still possible, even though he is lagging in the points standings not only to Alonso but also the Red Bull and Lotus drivers, teammate Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

"At least I've another 12 races, so although I'm a long way behind, it is still possible," said Button.

"But I'm not thinking about that.  I'm thinking about going to my home race and driving a fast, flowing circuit which hopefully our car should work well on."

Red Bull calls for 'DRS under yellows' clarification
(GMM)  Red Bull has called for a clarification about how the DRS overtaking system can be used whilst yellow flags are being waved.

The stewards conducted a three-hour investigation after Mark Webber spotted Mercedes' Michael Schumacher using his 'DRS' inside a yellow flag zone at Valencia late last Sunday.

Ultimately, the officials let Schumacher keep his first podium for more than 2000 days, Charlie Whiting arguing that "the decisive element" is not whether the DRS flap is open but "whether the driver has slowed or not".

The FIA race director added that there is "no rule" specifically forbidding the use of DRS under yellows.

But Red Bull team boss Christian Horner told Austrian Servus TV: "There was a meeting where it was said that DRS and KERS may not be used under yellow flags.

"For this reason we told Mark not to enable DRS and so I was surprised that Michael did."

Peter Sauber admitted: "From past experience we know that the FIA applies different standards from time to time."

The Hamburger Morgenpost newspaper wondered if the fact it was Schumacher's first podium of his comeback, and in the presence of his friend and FIA president Jean Todt, that influenced the stewards' ruling.

Mika Salo, one of the stewards at Valencia, said: "I am not allowed to talk about our decision."

Horner said: "I think it is important for the teams that we clarify the situation for Silverstone."

Stuck warns Vettel over safety car conspiracy
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull should tread carefully in accusing the FIA of a conspiracy to enliven last weekend's Valencia race.

That is the view of Hans-Joachim Stuck, the president of the German motor sport association DMSB.

After Vettel retired at Valencia from a commanding lead, the reigning world champion and his team's Dr Helmut Marko suggested the FIA called the safety car period chiefly to close up the field.

"Vettel was too far ahead and so the field was brought back together," said Marko, doubting the safety car was needed to clear the track of debris.

Stuck however warned "Herr Vettel" to think in future before making accusations that could be interpreted as "unsportsmanlike conduct" -- behavior that could draw the ire of the governing FIA.

"Sebastian Vettel should learn to be a good loser," he told Germany's Yahoo Eurosport.

"It was clear there was debris on the circuit, representing a danger of puncture to the other cars.  For that reason, the safety car was justified," he said.

Stuck also scotched Vettel's claim that the safety car period caused his Red Bull to fail.

"I don't think driving slowly behind a pace car can be the cause of a failure, otherwise all the other cars would fail also.

"If the Red Bull car overheats because of the safety car then it is designed wrong," the former F1 driver insists.

Journalists at odds over Vettel-to-Ferrari reports
(GMM)  Respected journalists are at odds over whether Sebastian Vettel is headed to Ferrari.

Major British newspapers recently claimed the Red Bull driver has inked an agreement to switch to Ferrari in 2014.

Italian television Mediaset's Italia1 channel now agrees, citing the information of the well-connected and authoritative journalist Giorgio Terruzzi.

Fabio Seixas, the correspondent for Brazil's Folha de S.Paulo newspaper, thinks the news could be good for Felipe Massa, given that Vettel will not be arriving until 2014.

"For me, Sergio Perez would not accept going (to Ferrari) only for 2013.  For Ferrari, it is more convenient to keep Massa for another year.

"This time of year is known as 'silly season', where most of the rumors are not true," Seixas explained.  "But experience says that when a rumor comes from so many different sources, it does often materialize."

But the correspondent for another Brazilian newspaper, O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper, said that in his view, the Vettel-to-Ferrari rumor is obviously untrue.

Nonetheless, Livio Oricchio described Mediaset's Terruzzi as a "friend" he has known for "two decades".

"I find it strange that Giorgio states categorically that Vettel is already signed with Ferrari.  He is always very cautious with these issues," he said.

"My argument is that the story makes no sense for anyone."

F1 success 'just didn't happen for me' - Piquet
(GMM)  Having left F1 in shame three years ago, Nelson Piquet Jr hopes his time has finally arrived.

As the son of a triple world champion, the Brazilian entered formula one with high hopes: managed by Flavio Briatore and at Renault's title-winning works team.

But he got caught up in Renault and Briatore's demise, right at the centre of the 'crashgate' affair.

Since 2010, Piquet has been rebuilding his name in the lower tiers of American Nascar racing.

Last weekend, he finally broke through with victory in the second-tier Nationwide category, ensuring the Brazilian's name is back in the headlines for the right reasons.

In the wake of his Road America win, reporters asked the now 26-year-old to reflect on his disastrous F1 career, and the idea of what might have been.

"What could have happened (in F1)?" Piquet said.  "I don't know.  Anything could have happened.

"It's just timing, being in the right place at the right time.  There is a lot of drivers that are there right now that have won races and championships that I raced with before that I've won championships on before.

"But it's just being the right place at the right time and it didn't happen for me, but maybe it's happening now (in Nascar)," Piquet added.

Williams back in charge after Parr exit
(GMM)  Sir Frank Williams has revealed he is back at the helm at his famous British F1 team.

Although still the major shareholder and team principal, the now 70-year-old had taken a step back at the Oxfordshire based team, including stepping down from the board.

He had expressed great faith in the abilities of Adam Parr, but Williams' chairman surprised the F1 world by resigning early this season.

Williams told F1's official website on Wednesday that he is now back in charge.

"Well, I have to say that it is sad Adam Parr didn't achieve what we would have liked together, after all that he did," the team's founder and long-time chief said.

"So when he left it was left to me to step back into that position," added Williams, who had handed over the chairmanship to Parr in 2010.

The team suffered arguably its lowest low last year, but Williams has been back in the winner's circle in 2012, Pastor Maldonado winning from pole in Spain.

"Adam Parr - to his credit - played a significant role in his all too short time with the team," Frank Williams continued.

"I am very sad that he left as he is a terribly clever man who took on two or three key people, like Mike Coughlan for instance, and some key people in engineering, and that makes all the difference.  We do see that," he said.

Pollock's Pure offers best price for 2014 engine
(GMM)  Customer engines will be much more expensive in 2014.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that, for example, Sauber currently spends EUR 8 million on its Ferrari engine, and another million for KERS.

But for 2014, with F1 switching to 'green' turbo V6 power, the price is reportedly going up to between EUR 18-23 million.

Offering the best price is Craig Pollock's new venture Pure, who are asking EUR 14 million for the Gilles Simon-designed engine-plus-KERS package.

"Even that is too expensive," Sauber managing director Monisha Kaltenborn said.

Prosecutors say Ecclestone corruption 'accomplice'
(GMM)  German prosecutors on Wednesday appeared likely to press ahead with a corruption case against Bernie Ecclestone.

Until now, the F1 chief executive has been implicated in the Gerhard Gribkowsky scandal but only as the subject of an investigation into the money he paid to the jailed banker.

Ecclestone, 81, has also appeared as a witness in the trial to give evidence protected by immunity, but on Wednesday it sounded likely he will be separately charged and pursued by the Munich prosecutors.

As prosecutor Christoph Rodler wrapped up Gribkowsky's trial on Wednesday, he described Ecclestone as an "accomplice".

He said the diminutive Briton's explanation of the $44 million payments to Gribkowsky was a "nebulous story", arguing Ecclestone was "not the victim of an extortion but the accomplice in an act of bribery".

According to the Financial Times, Rodler said Ecclestone had an "existential interest" in paying the money to Gribkowsky because his "life's work" was at risk.

Ecclestone has not yet been charged.

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