Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday
Chilton would prefer Glock as 2013 teammate
|Pay driver Max Chilton|
- Webber 'on target' after leg surgery
- Horner impressed by Lotus, Sauber
- 2013 to begin with eyes already on 2014
- Hamilton says Rosberg 'underestimated'
- Kobayashi to test Ferrari sports car
- Sutil not giving up on Force India chance
- Kovalainen could have new Caterham role - boss
- Marussia to stay in F1 with new Concorde - Ecclestone
- Lotus confident of no Catalunya repeat
- F1 boss Ecclestone says he's not subject to U.S. laws in bribery case
- Q&A with James Allison New
Chilton would prefer Glock as 2013 teammate
(GMM) Rookie Max Chilton has admitted he would prefer to have Timo Glock as his teammate in 2013.
Actually, Marussia dispensed with German Glock's experienced services in favor of a 'pay driver' -- another rookie in the form of Brazilian Luiz Razia.
"It is not ideal," Briton Chilton is quoted by Germany's motorsport-total.com.
"I had been looking forward to being Timo's teammate, because of his vast experience."
Chilton, 21, acknowledged however that he is sure the team will not encounter any serious "problems" as the result of its all-new driver lineup.
"Unless we were all capable, we would not be in formula one," he insisted.
In fact, he thinks that - in some ways - it could be an advantage for both himself and Razia, who is 23.
"Neither of us are number one or number two, so the team will treat us the same," said Chilton.
The British broadcaster Sky quoted McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh as saying it's "sad" there are so many pay-drivers in F1 now who are arguably "fundamentally not good enough" to be on the grid.
But his Sauber counterpart Monisha Kaltenborn, who is arguing strongly for cost-cutting action in F1, said labeling young drivers like that is not fair.
"There has always been fluctuation on the grid and nobody was harping on about pay drivers," she told the sport's official website.
"Everybody who comes into formula one is on a high level and if there are only a limited number of seats, then of course every team is looking for the best option. Who wouldn't?"
Webber 'on target' after leg surgery
(GMM) Mark Webber insists surgery over the winter period will not affect the start of his 2013 championship campaign.
A few years ago, the Red Bull driver badly broke his leg in a mountain cycling crash, and since then he has raced with a 38 centimeter titanium rod on board.
The rod was removed over the winter period.
"The leg's no problem at all," Webber, 36, told reporters last week at Jerez.
"I'm probably a little bit behind on condition but not much. I'll be ready to go for Melbourne, I'm clearly on target so that's all fine.
"At one point it was a little bit stiff but it's normal. It will be fine. When the adrenalin's going, it's zero problems," he insisted.
Horner impressed by Lotus, Sauber
(GMM) Forget the 'big three' -- Christian Horner has admitted teams other than Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari made the "strongest impression" on him last week at Jerez.
"Lotus and Sauber left the strongest impression," the Red Bull chief said, according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
"All the others are still difficult to assess," added Horner.
The German magazine's correspondent Michael Schmidt said the new grey Sauber had Nico Hulkenberg "smiling" all week as the opening test at Jerez unfolded.
"Eyewitnesses say the C32 is the best car in the field in fast corners," said Schmidt.
Swiss newspaper Blick's veteran correspondent Roger Benoit, meanwhile, quoted Hulkenberg as confiding to his Sauber colleagues: "Guys, this car goes like the devil."
As for Lotus, both Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen each tasted the top of the timesheets during the four-day test.
"We are quite surprised," admitted the always-grinning Frenchman Grosjean, according to RMC. "I think everybody saw my smile."
2013 to begin with eyes already on 2014
(GMM) With the 19-race 2013 season not yet upon us, plenty of plans are already being made for the following championship.
Asked what the biggest challenge was in designing this year's Lotus E21, James Allison confided to Speed Week: "The fact that so many good people are working on the 2014 car."
After a few years of regulation stability, Allison said the changes coming for 2014 - notably the 'ERS' energy recovery systems and V6 turbo engines - represent a "tsunami" for F1.
So important is the change, that some suspect Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes switch for 2014, for example, was motivated primarily by the German marque's promise regarding the new rules.
"I am convinced that was the decisive factor," veteran reporter Tony Dodgins is quoted as saying.
"Lewis knows that a team must have close ties to a manufacturer for the new turbo era. And he also knows Mercedes will cease development for 2013 early in order to put everything on 2014."
Indeed, Briton Hamilton sounds prepared for whatever 2013 will bring.
"I'm not worried," he is quoted by France's L'Equipe sports daily.
"I am quite prepared to finish the first grand prix in fifteenth place."
Hamilton says Rosberg 'underestimated'
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has spoken up for his new Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg.
German Rosberg is seen to have outshone seven time world champion Michael Schumacher during their three years together at Mercedes between 2010 and 2012.
But how much had success and subsequent retirement - and age - slowed the great 44-year-old?
"Nico is a damn strong competitor," Briton Hamilton told the French sports daily L'Equipe, "I can assure you.
"He is underestimated," added Rosberg's new teammate, the 2008 world champion.
Hamilton said Rosberg is good enough to push him right to the limits of his talents.
"If you want to be the best," he insisted, "you have to be pushed to your limits. And Nico is one of the drivers who can do that."
Kobayashi to test Ferrari sports car
(GMM) Kamui Kobayashi looks set to continue his motor racing career in Le Mans-style sports car racing.
After three full seasons in F1, the popular and exciting Japanese lost his Sauber race seat for 2013 and failed to find refuge elsewhere.
Media reports say he will test for the Ferrari-linked AF Corse sports car team in Spain this week.
The reports say Kobayashi, 26, is under consideration for a seat in the FIA's world endurance championship, driving a Ferrari 458.
With Sauber opting for Telmex-linked Esteban Gutierrez for 2013, Kobayashi attempted to stay in F1 by asking his fans to contribute to his sponsor purse.
Ultimately, corporate Japan failed to back him.
"Yes, it is surprising when such a pleasant person like him cannot get any support from such a motorsport-loving nation like Japan," Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn told F1's official website.
"This again should be a sort of warning that we maybe need to change something," she added.
Sutil not giving up on Force India chance
(GMM) Adrian Sutil is still not giving up on the Force India race seat for 2013.
The vacancy is the only one left in F1 with less than five weeks until the Melbourne season opener.
But, currently, Frenchman Jules Bianchi and Narain Karthikeyan appear better placed, even though Force India reportedly refused to comment on reports the latter Indian driver is now in the frame.
German Sutil's manager Manfred Zimmermann, meanwhile, told motorsport-magazin.com: "We are convinced that it will work out.
"But unfortunately we have to keep our fingers crossed and be patient," he added.
Kovalainen could have new Caterham role - boss
(GMM) Caterham has left open the door for "a different project" with ousted number 1 race driver Heikki Kovalainen.
Team boss Cyril Abiteboul admitted that, while bringing in a pay-driver was another consideration, Finn Kovalainen's relationship with Caterham soured after their three years together.
"I think at a certain point at the end of last season, maybe there was not the sort of trust and confidence and respect - on both sides - that you should be counting on for the development of the team and driver," he told Britain's Sky broadcaster.
"It's like with your girlfriend or wife -- sometimes when you disappoint too much, you know the relationship is just ... broken," added Abiteboul.
Nonetheless, Abiteboul said it is possible Kovalainen, 31, will continue to work with Caterham in another capacity.
"We continue to have discussions with Heikki to see if a different project could be possible," he said.
"Let's be honest: we'd be keen to keep experience in our lineup. That's something we'd both be interested in under the right conditions."
Marussia to stay in F1 with new Concorde - Ecclestone
(GMM) No more teams are set to follow HRT through F1's paddock exit, Bernie Ecclestone insists.
There has been speculation the economic situation in the sport and the wider world could claim more scalps, with Marussia at the top of the list, having reportedly failed to negotiate a new Concorde Agreement with F1's 'supremo'.
But after a meeting with team bosses last Thursday, chief executive Ecclestone now tells F1 business journalist Christian Sylt: "They are all safe.
"We have got a deal with them all, including Marussia," he is quoted by Autoweek.
"We are continuing with Marussia. I thought they were going to go but they are not."
Marussia's sporting director Graeme Lowdon confirmed that "discussions" about a final agreement with Ecclestone are taking place now.
Ecclestone said F1's teams should be happy with the terms.
"They've all got more money than god," he quipped.
Lotus confident of no Catalunya repeat
Lotus technical director James Allison says he is confident that the team won't suffer a repeat of the issues that affected it during the second pre-season test of the F1 campaign twelve months ago.
As was the case last year, Lotus started testing with a strong showing at Jerez with Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean both on the pace with the new E21.
The team now heads to Catalunya for the next session of the year eager to maintain the kind of form it showed last week, while also seeking to avoid a repeat of the drama it suffered when the field arrived in Barcelona last year.
Then, a suspension issue saw the team halt its program on the opening day and forced it to sit out the remainder of the week – something Allison said he was sure wouldn't occur again this time around.
“We had a problem last year because we designed a single joint poorly,” Allison said. “We had created a suspension mounting which was capable of withstanding the loads if it had been made absolutely perfectly. However, that style of joint was very difficult to make accurately enough to get repeatable performance from each chassis.
“We ran chassis #01 at Jerez and the suspension joint in this chassis was good enough to cope with the loads. We ran chassis #02 at Barcelona and the joint in this one was made just a whisker differently; it was not capable of taking the loads and so failed instantly. Once we realized our error we redesigned the joint so that the glue lines were capable of delivering the required strength without any scatter from chassis to chassis.
“On the E21 we've paid particular attention to this area so we're not expecting any repeat dramas.” Crash.Net
F1 boss Ecclestone says he's not subject to U.S. laws in bribery case
Formula One CEO Bernie Ecclestone says that he is not subject to U.S. laws in a formal affidavit he has submitted to the New York State Supreme Court. The affidavit responds to a $650 million lawsuit filed against him and others by Bluewaters, an American private equity firm, in the ongoing case involving convicted German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky.
The Bluewaters lawsuit names Ecclestone, CVC Capital Partners (F1's biggest shareholder), and three others in the complex chain of F1 holding companies that CVC set up -- namely Alpha Prema U.K., Alpha Topco and Delta Topco. Gribkowsky and his former employer, the BayernLB bank, are also defendants in the case.
Bluewaters states in its own filing to the court in Manhattan that, in November 2005, it offered $1 billion to purchase a 47.2-percent stake in the F1 business that was being sold by BayernLB in Munich, Germany. However, Bluewater claims Ecclestone paid a $44 million bribe to Gribkowsky (then the chief risk officer of BayernLB) to undervalue that 47.2-percent stake -- which it then sold instead to CVC for a reported $839 million, or effectively a price that was $161 million less than Bluewaters offered.
CVC subsequently paid about $210 million each to two other banks, JP Morgan and Lehman Brothers, for their smaller stakes in F1.
Ecclestone admitted to a German criminal court last July that he paid the $44 million to Gribkowsky. Although the court in Munich then jailed Gribkowsky for more than eight years for accepting the money as a bribe, Ecclestone claimed that it was unrelated to the BayernLB/CVC transaction. He remains adamant that he was instead being blackmailed by Gribkowsky, who he alleges had threatened to lie to U.K. tax authorities about the affairs of an Ecclestone family trust, which Ecclestone said he had spent years setting up. Ecclestone claimed that is was simply easier -- and probably cheaper-- to pay Gribkowsky, rather than dealing with the headache of an investigation triggered by what he alleged would have been lies by Gribkowsky to U.K. tax investigators.
Ecclestone's affidavit puts it this way: “I was concerned that misinformation that he provided to the authorities might be taken seriously, and might cause them to assess me to owe a tax bill of many hundreds of millions, if not billions of pounds that I believe I did not owe but which would have caused me to become bankrupt.”
Ecclestone also claimed in the statement that he is not subject to U.S. law, on the basis that he has never resided in the U.S., owns no property here, leases no offices here, and employs nobody here except lawyers defending him in the lawsuit. He says he is a U.K. citizen living in London, and notes that he has visited the U.S. eight times since 2005, including trips to investigate the proposed Grand Prix in New Jersey, and a vacation with his family in Las Vegas. The affidavit also points out, “The various events underlying the allegations in the complaint did not take place in New York or the United States, but in Europe and the Middle East.”
It adds that the money had been moved from Swiss accounts to an Austrian account without, as far as Ecclestone was aware, any assistance from New York banks.
Bluewaters claims that the F1 business is now worth approximately $10 billion. Accordingly the company is seeking damages for “tortuous interference with prospective economic advantage”, as well as “fraudulent concealment and unjust enrichment” by the defendants. The New York-based firm also wants the court to award it unspecified compensatory and punitive damages from the defendants “for their participation in a criminal conspiracy to rig the bidding process in the sale of Formula One”. AutoWeek
Q&A with James Allison
Lotus tech director James Allison says the team is in "high spirits" after a successful outing at Jerez.
Q: How useful has the first week of testing been at Jerez?
JA: Winter testing is exceedingly precious. We get just 12 days to prove out a very complex vehicle. Twelve days to push the car and the team to make sure that we are match fit by the time we get to Melbourne. Jerez offers the teams four days of guaranteed good weather on a challenging track that will stress the car from both a reliability and a performance point of view. We leave this first test in high spirits having learned that the E21 looks both competitive and reasonably reliable.
Q: What are the initial conclusions about the 2013 Pirelli tires?
JA: Pirelli has changed both the internal construction of the tires and also the tread rubber compound. In the former they have tried to improve the ability of the tire to handle braking and cornering loads simultaneously and in the latter they are hoping to deliver exciting racing by aiming for softer tire compounds that suffer rapid lap time degradation as they wear. From what we have seen so far the construction changes are helpful and we are adjusting our setup to make the most of them. Regarding the compound choices, we are happy with the direction that Pirelli are headed and the challenge for us is to find out how to make the rubber last better than our competition.
Q: Now the first test is complete, what happens next for the team?
JA: The main thrust of activity between now and Melbourne is to build up the quantity of stock so that we can go racing. We are using just one chassis here in Jerez, but in a month's time we need to have four tubs ready to go. Gearboxes, suspension, bodywork and thousands of small parts all need to be made to allow us to commence the racing campaign. At the same time, we will be furiously building a crucial set of Melbourne performance upgrades to allow us to stay competitive. While the factory sweats to get this work completed, the travelling component of the team will plan and execute the remaining two tests. They will push the car as hard as they can to make sure we have amplified its strengths and minimized its weaknesses before we have to use it in anger.
Q: The car looked good in Jerez last year, but then the team had to stop testing after half a day at Barcelona; any concerns this time heading to the Circuit de Catalunya?
JA: We had a problem last year because we designed a single joint poorly. We had created a suspension mounting which was capable of withstanding the loads if it had been made absolutely perfectly. However, that style of joint was very difficult to make accurately enough to get repeatable performance from each chassis. We ran chassis #01 at Jerez and the suspension joint in this chassis was good enough to cope with the loads. We ran chassis #02 at Barcelona and the joint in this one was made just a whisker differently; it was not capable of taking the loads and so failed instantly. Once we realized our error we redesigned the joint so that the glue lines were capable of delivering the required strength without any scatter from chassis to chassis. On the E21 we've paid particular attention to this area so we're not expecting any repeat dramas.