Latest F1 news in brief - Friday
Chandhok Snr worried F1 to lose other Indian driver
|Bernie Ecclestone, the ultimate 'Teflon Don'|
- Ecclestone 'aggravated' by worsening bribery scandal
- Webber 'will not pull over' for Vettel in India
- Good and bad news for F1's Vijay Mallya
- Chilton to drive Marussia in Abu Dhabi practice
- Kovalainen facing Caterham axe to pay-driver
- Grosjean happy to 'lose places' to avoid start crashes
- 'Mozzies' a buzzword in the Buddh paddock
- Ferrari 'all talk and no updates' - Alonso
- Ferrari not taking sides in political standoff
- Gutierrez steps in for unwell Perez in practice
Chandhok Snr worried F1 to lose other Indian driver
(GMM) Vicky Chandhok is worried F1 may soon be without an Indian driver.
Chandhok, the Indian motor sport federation's president, has already seen his son Karun's F1 career end due to a lack of sponsorship.
And now it is suggested F1's other Indian driver, Narain Karthikeyan, may lose his HRT seat at the end of the season.
"After Narain and Karun, I really can't see an Indian driver for the next, I would say, eight to 10 years," Chandhok Snr told CNN.
"Formula one has become all about money," he said. "It never was earlier, you could find a slot with just talent.
"The formula one teams have decided that even if you've got talent, let's have your checkbook as well -- bring in five, 10, 20 million dollars and (then) let's give you the seat," he added.
Ecclestone 'aggravated' by worsening bribery scandal
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed reports that BayernLB - claiming the damages amid the Gerhard Gribkowsky bribery scandal - has asked him to pay $400 million.
"I did not respond," the F1 chief executive, speaking in India, is quoted by the Financial Times.
The 81-year-old is quoted by Reuters as insisting he is prepared to go to court over the demand: "Yeah, absolutely," said the Briton.
The Telegraph quoted Ecclestone as saying he has become "aggravated" by the Gribkowsky affair.
"But there's nothing to worry about," he said.
That, however, is not the feeling in the F1 paddock, with senior figures believing Ecclestone will be lucky to survive the corruption scandal with his job.
The Times reports that CVC, the sport's owner, had - amid the recent and ultimately delayed plans to float F1 - commissioned executive search firm Egon Zehnder International to write up a list of possible successors for Ecclestone.
DPA news agency said one candidate for the top job might be Sauber shareholder and new team boss Monisha Kaltenborn.
"The fact is I am very happy in my current job and still have very big targets for it," she insisted.
"So there are no plans in that direction."
And Ecclestone said he is not planning to step down.
"I've been under a cloud for three years," he said ahead of the Indian grand prix, "but there's nothing to stop me running F1."
But what about the risk that, if he is charged and then convicted by German prosecutors, he is sent to jail?
"I hope not," Ecclestone answered. "I wouldn't complain about German prisons, but I'd rather not be in one anywhere to be honest."
Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported on Friday that Ecclestone has, through his lawyers, now offered to travel to Munich to give testimony to the German public prosecutor.
Webber 'will not pull over' for Vettel in India
(GMM) Red Bull's Mark Webber has denied he would pull over for his championship-leading teammate Sebastian if he is leading the Indian grand prix on Sunday.
Reports have suggested the time for Webber to start supporting German Vettel's title fight - both practically and also in terms of one of the Australian's contract clauses - has now come.
But when asked what will happen if he is leading on Sunday ahead of the sister RB8, Webber insisted: "I will win. That's it.
"If I'm in the lead this weekend, I'm not pulling over for anyone."
Told that Christian Horner might not be happy if that happens, Webber recalled that his boss has said Red Bull will not impose team orders unless one driver is mathematically out of the hunt.
And "mathematically I have a chance," he asserted.
"(It's going to be) very difficult (to win the title) but never say never," added Webber.
Vettel, meanwhile, was coy when also asked about 'team orders' in the Buddh paddock.
"First, we see to having a good start and then we will cross that bridge if we get to it," the German is quoted by The National newspaper.
Webber also had to fend off suggestions he would prefer Ferrari's Fernando Alonso to beat Vettel to the title, after suggesting the Spaniard is still a real contender to win.
"That's a ridiculous comment," he snapped at the reporter.
"Do you want me to come out and say Sebastian is the only one that can win it? You're dreaming."
Good and bad news for F1's Vijay Mallya
(GMM) Vijay Mallya, the owner and boss of the Force India team, had good and bad news on Thursday.
The good news was that embarrassing protests planned for the Indian grand prix by grounded and unpaid staff of his ailing Kingfisher airline have been called off.
That's because he struck a salary deal with the disgruntled workers.
"There will (now) be no protests during F1," an airline engineer told the Times of India.
But there was also bad news. One piece is that there is a risk his private Airbus plane will be impounded if he lands it on Friday, due to unpaid bills to India's airline authorities.
Force India's deputy boss Bob Fernley, however, insisted Mallya is still planning to attend the grand prix.
"He won't be at the circuit tomorrow (Friday) but he'll arrive Saturday," he is quoted by PA news agency.
Forbes, meanwhile, has decided that Mallya is no longer a billionaire.
"Thanks to the Almighty that Forbes has removed me from the so-called billionaires list," he wrote on Twitter. "(It will mean) less jealousy, less frenzy and (less) wrongful attacks."
F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone said he is sure Mallya's apparently declining wealth is not a threat to Force India.
"I've known Vijay for 30-odd years and in his business life he's always had ups and downs," he is quoted by the Telegraph. "I don't think Vijay's problem will affect the team."
Chilton to drive Marussia in Abu Dhabi practice
(GMM) Max Chilton, the well-backed British GP2 driver who is tipped to make his F1 debut in 2013, will drive Marussia's 2012 car in first Friday practice ahead of next weekend's Abu Dhabi grand prix.
The team recently promoted the 21-year-old to the role of reserve driver, and he is now expected to replace Frenchman Charles Pic in the race seat for next year.
Marussia said Chilton's Abu Dhabi outing will give him the "chance to demonstrate his potential in a competitive race weekend environment".
He will drive the possibly Caterham-bound Pic's car.
"We are looking forward to comparing his driving development with his growing maturity outside of the car," said team boss John Booth.
Kovalainen facing Caterham axe to pay-driver
(GMM) Heikki Kovalainen has admitted it is possible he will lose his Caterham seat at the end of the season.
Although the Finn is highly regarded by the Tony Fernandes-led team, Caterham is facing up to the prospect of losing millions in projected Concorde Agreement earnings, due to losing tenth place in the lucrative constructors' championship standings to Marussia.
When asked specifically about his future, Kovalainen answered in India: "For our team it's quite important that we try to regain that tenth position back.
"So, the main focus is on that and regarding the future with the team and with Tony, we haven't decided yet," he revealed.
"I think Tony knows what he gets with me but then he's evaluating other options I think to see what he wants to do. And I'm waiting.
"In the meantime, of course, my management is also working."
The implication is clear: if Caterham's budget falls short due to the lost Concorde earnings, the team will be tempted to replace the money with a 'pay driver'.
Marussia's well-funded Charles Pic has been linked with a 2013 Caterham seat, as has Giedo van der Garde, who took over Kovalainen's car in first practice in India on Friday.
Kovalainen is quoted by Turun Sanomat newspaper: "He (Fernandes) has to decide whether to have two drivers who bring budget with them, or (to keep) me. I do not bring any money," he clarified.
"Tony has not told me directly what he intends to do."
Grosjean happy to 'lose places' to avoid start crashes
(GMM) Romain Grosjean has vowed to continue his overly-cautious approach to the start of grands prix.
The Frenchman was noticeably guarded on the run to the first corner in Korea two weeks ago, having been reportedly warned that more start crashes could mean a multiple-race ban, or possibly even the loss of his Lotus seat for 2013.
So Grosjean, 26, is happy to go slow for now.
"We are happy to lose a couple of places at the start to avoid accidents; it's not the end of the world," he is quoted by the Times of India newspaper.
"It is the first step of the approach (and) I plan to follow this approach to the end of the season," he revealed.
His obviously-careful strategy for the otherwise-vigorous opening meters of a grand prix has, however, been noticed by his rivals, Grosjean acknowledged.
"(Other) drivers are already starting to take advantage because they know I am under pressure. But it is alright as long as I am not involved in another incident," he said.
'Mozzies' a buzzword in the Buddh paddock
(GMM) Mosquitoes are a problem at the Indian grand prix this weekend, the local Times of India reports.
The newspaper said Jenson Button swatted one as he spoke to reporters at the Buddh circuit, near the capital New Delhi, on Thursday.
"Oh, I got that mozzie," the Briton laughed.
But the Times of India reports that the McLaren driver would not be laughing if he contracted "dengue".
Dengue fever, transmitted by mosquitoes, is an infectious disease that can be life-threatening.
The newspaper said McLaren and Williams are staying in hotels in Mayur Vihar, where upon arrival "a swarm of mosquitoes greets you".
Journalist Ruhi Batra said he has seen "McLaren team members ... constantly slapping their arms and scratching themselves", while hotel staff rush around "with racquet-shaped zappers".
The Times of India said there are hundreds of reported mosquito infections in New Delhi, "and a concerned government on Tuesday asked municipal bodies to carry out fogging exercises across the city".
Ferrari 'all talk and no updates' - Alonso
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has reportedly criticized Ferrari's lack of progress in recent weeks, as he pushes to regain his recently-lost championship lead to Red Bull's dominant Sebastian Vettel.
"While there is little talk from other teams but many updates," he is quoted by the German broadcaster RTL, "we have a lot of talk but very little updates."
Ferrari has been recently open about its wind tunnel problems in 2012, which have meant many development pieces brought to the circuits in recent weeks have not worked as expected.
Alonso is reportedly resigned to fighting against Vettel with an inferior car.
"We need to improve relative to Red Bull, but to do what they have done is impossible," he is quoted by the El Pais newspaper in India.
"We cannot aspire to having the fastest car," added Alonso.
He continued: "Words are useless. We talk a lot of Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays about new pieces we bring to each track, but there have been many Fridays on which the words were for nothing."
Once again, in the lead-up to this weekend's race, much has been reported about Ferrari's new package. "We'll see if the words are true or not," Alonso is quoted by Italy's Autosprint.
"(But) for five or six races we have not seen anything positive."
Ferrari not taking sides in political standoff
(GMM) Ferrari insists it is not trying to play partisan international politics by wearing the flag of the Italian navy on its F1 livery in India this weekend.
The famous Italian team had announced that adding the flag to its livery this weekend is "in the hope that the Indian and Italian authorities will soon find a solution" to a situation involving two Italian sailors.
Media reports said the sailors were being held by Indian authorities on murder charges, following the fatal shooting of two Indian fisherman mistaken for Somali pirates.
So far, the regional Indian governed has refused to agree a settlement while Rome pushes for the marines' return for prosecution in Italy.
In return, Italy has recalled its envoy from New Delhi, confirming its "strong displeasure" with India's handling of the incident.
Italian foreign minister Giulio Terzi welcomed Ferrari's support, and was quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport: "This shows our naval guards that they have the support of the entire nation."
Ferrari's gesture, however, is controversial, especially given the FIA statute prohibiting "racial, political or religious discrimination" in formula one.
A team spokesman told the Indian Express newspaper: "Something which has to be clear (is) that we don't want to say anything in one sense or the another.
"We have utmost respect for the Indian authorities. We just hope that a solution can be found as soon as possible," he said.
Gutierrez steps in for unwell Perez in practice
(GMM) Sergio Perez sat out the first practice session in India on Friday morning as he recovers from a heavy cold.
Sauber's reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez, another Telmex-backed Mexican who is tipped to replace his McLaren-bound countryman in 2013, stepped in for the 90-minute session.
"This should help Sergio's speedy recovery so he is able to drive for the remainder of the weekend," the Swiss team said in a media statement.
Perez was seen chatting and smiling with Gutierrez in the Sauber pit garage on Friday morning.
The team has not decided if Perez will return to his car in the afternoon.