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DATE News (chronologically)
05/13/13
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Monday (Updated)  UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

05/13/13
  • Pirelli tires takes 100% of the driving skill out of F1
    Lotus sells team stake, Mercedes on F1 board
  • F1 reaches 'T-word' tipping point
  • McLaren could return to orange F1 livery
  • Alonso almost penalized for flag waving breach
  • Mercedes favorite to win in Monaco
  • Mateschitz: F1 is not racing anymore
  • Unfair to tweak 2013 tires - Lotus
  • Mercedes need 'out-of-the-box thinking' New
  • McLaren denies use of team orders New

Lotus sells team stake, Mercedes on F1 board
(GMM)  F1 team Lotus has reportedly sold a $1.5 million stake to a British property investor.

Writing in the Telegraph, F1 business journalist Christian Sylt said the buyer is Andrew Ruhan, who bought a 2 per cent stake from team owner Genii Capital.

Genii's Gerard Lopez confirmed that Ruhan is "a friend and a business partner in some substantial real estate developments, loves cars, racing and has purchased, if I am not mistaken, 2pc of the equity to be on the board and feel involved -– for sure, not a substantial deal for either party."

Sylt also revealed in the Telegraph that, having initially refused to let Mercedes onto F1's board as per other top teams, Bernie Ecclestone has now appointed a Daimler executive.

"Correct," Sylt told us.  "Pre and post (the sport's floatation), they're on it."

F1 reaches 'T-word' tipping point
(GMM)  There is an angry 'T-word' on everybody's lips after Sunday's puzzling and painful Spanish grand prix.

"Can anyone tell me what's going on?" an exasperated Paul di Resta asked his team during the race in Barcelona.

With that, he summed up the situation in F1 at present: Pirelli's unprecedentedly heavily degrading tires are confusing even the sport's drivers.

Lewis Hamilton, having qualified on the front row, sounded amazed, sarcastic and incensed when he informed his Mercedes bosses that "I've been passed by a Williams now".

Only 24 hours earlier, the same Williams had failed to make it out of 'Q1', while many were tipping a Mercedes victory.

"When we're going round three seconds slower than a GP2 car did in qualifying, and only six seconds quicker than a GP3 car did in the race, there's something wrong," said McLaren's Jenson Button.

Hamilton, asked to slow down to protect his tires during Sunday's race, replied that he couldn't go any slower "otherwise I'm going at walking pace".

"That is the way the sport has gone to improve overtaking," he told reporters afterwards.  "It is for the public to judge."

Until now, Pirelli has vigorously defended its mandate, having come into F1 tasked with spicing up the action by supplying tires that will force multiple pitstops per driver.

But, amid the post-race vitriol in Spain from both inside and outside the paddock, motor sport director Paul Hembery announced that Pirelli will now make changes.

"It's too late for Monaco but we'd look to change things for Silverstone," he said.

Gerhard Berger, a former grand prix winner and team co-owner, explained: "They can't go on like this.

"Every 14 days it's just negative advertising for them.  And the fans no longer know their stuff."

In short, the pressure has built to tipping point, spurred on by vocal opponents like Red Bull, and also the media.

"Is this really a formula one world championship?" said Nicola Pohl in the mass-circulation German newspaper Bild.

She quoted Red Bull team boss Christian Horner saying: "It's like chess now.

"And chess is not necessarily a sport that has many fans."

Hembery is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport: "In the last two years, the public has supported us.  The races have become much more exciting.

"But the criticism has reached a level where we can no longer be indifferent."

However, not everyone supports a major change.  Apparently Ferrari and Force India are quite happy with the 2013 tires, as is - obviously - Lotus.

"It's like football," team owner Gerard Lopez said.  "As soon as one team is always hitting the post, the discussion becomes making the goals a bit bigger."

Another factor is that if Pirelli makes significant compound or structure changes, they want a day of testing prior to Silverstone.

"They'll never get it through," said Sauber team manager Beat Zehnder, "because all the teams would have to agree."

McLaren could return to orange F1 livery
(GMM)  McLaren's cars could go orange in the near future, team boss Martin Whitmarsh has admitted.

Although the Woking based team's cars have been silver since 1997, orange is actually McLaren's traditional race color, dating back to the Can-Am days of the 60s.

After 2014, however, it looks likely McLaren's long relationship with 'Silver Arrows' carmaker Mercedes will end.

Whitmarsh said in Barcelona on Sunday that he could not comment on reports McLaren will definitely be Honda-powered in 2015, saying the matter was "confidential" between the team and existing partner Mercedes.

Asked, however, if the change of title sponsor for next year in the wake of Vodafone's scheduled departure might be a chance for McLaren to return to orange, Whitmarsh answered: "I really like the idea.

"Orange is a great color, especially for McLaren," he told the Russian website f1news.ru.

"We use it for our racing GT and it looks great, and we'll continue to move in this direction.

"F1 is a bit different: the modern business model is one of the main tasks of the team -- to promote the brands of our partners.

"But if we're lucky enough to find a sponsor who likes orange, you could see that color again in formula one," added Whitmarsh.

Alonso waves his country flag to adoring fans who cheer wildly. And F1 has a rule against this?
Alonso almost penalized for flag waving breach
(GMM)  The FIA on Sunday considered penalizing Fernando Alonso for picking up a Spanish flag during his post-checkered flag in-lap.

After winning his home race in Barcelona, Alonso stopped beside a marshal who furnished his Spanish compatriot and hero with a red and yellow Spanish flag.

Once in 'parc ferme', the Ferrari driver draped the flag over the '1' signboard indicating where he should park.

But the glorious moment was actually a breach of a regulation about "receiving an object" prior to the post-race weighing and scrutineering procedure, and Alonso and a Ferrari team member were summoned to the stewards.

Ultimately, the FIA officials let him off without penalty "to be consistent with a previous decision made under similar circumstances".

Mercedes favorite to win in Monaco
(GMM)  Mercedes has been tipped as a likely favorite to win the fabled Monaco grand prix later this month.

Having dominated qualifying in Spain, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton fell spectacularly backwards through the field in the race as the W04 chew mercilessly through Pirelli's tires.

Toto Wolff, the team's co-owner and director, said the extreme reversal of Saturday's fortunes caused himself and Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche "almost physical pain".

But it could all be different in Monaco.

"I think Mercedes has a good chance to win in Monte Carlo," said Swiss commentator and former driver Marc Surer.

"Whoever starts at the front in the principality also has a good chance for victory," he is quoted by Speed Week.

"And the degradation of the rear tires will not be such a big issue there."

Asked if predictions like Surer's are right, Barcelona winner Fernando Alonso said: "Yes, definitely.

"They've been on pole position for the last three races, they were on pole last year with Michael (Schumacher), so it would be a surprise if they weren't on pole position in Monaco," said the Ferrari driver.

"And it's more difficult to overtake in Monaco, so maybe they can keep good positions for longer."

Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen also agreed: "I think Mercedes will unfortunately be pretty quick there and after that it's difficult to overtake.

"So you can really expect, from what they did last year and what they did here, that they should be pretty fast there," the Finn added in Barcelona.

Mercedes' Rosberg told DPA news agency: "In qualifying we are very good, so it's very likely that we'll be close to the front (in Monaco) and hopefully I can keep the train behind me."

Mateschitz: F1 is not racing anymore
Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz has launched a furious attack on the state of Formula 1, saying it is no longer about racing.

Amid a fresh debate about the impact that Pirelli's more aggressive rubber for 2013 is having on the world championship battle, Mateschitz has expressed his frustration that Red Bull is being hindered by high-degrading tires.

Mateschitz witnessed world championship leader Sebastian Vettel struggle home in fourth place as the top Red Bull car in the Spanish Grand Prix, unable to do anything about the Ferrari and Lotus cars ahead of him.

Autosport reports that Mateschitz voiced his concerns in a private 45-minute meeting with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone on Sunday night, and he later claimed that Pirelli had gone too far with its products.

"Everyone knows what happens here", he told Autosport. "This has nothing to do with racing anymore. This is a competition in tire management.

"Real car racing looks different. Under the given circumstances, we can neither get the best out of our car nor our drivers.

"There is no more real qualifying and fighting for the pole, as everyone is just saving tires for the race.

"If we would make the best of our car we would have to stop eight or ten times during a race, depending on the track."

Mateschitz accepts that Pirelli was asked to spice up the show with more pitstops, but thinks that it has now strayed away from that original mandate.

"Yes, it was the target to get more excitement into the races by more stops for tire changes, but not that much," he said.

"This is now a different situation from the original intention." More at Yahoo Eurosport UK

Unfair to tweak 2013 tires - Lotus
Lotus thinks it would be unfair if Pirelli makes changes to the tires later this season just because some teams are struggling to make the rubber last.
After a number of outfits were forced to make four-stops during the Spanish Grand Prix due to the high degradation, Pirelli has conceded that it may have to tweak its tires to limit a repeat in the future.

Such changes could hamper the Lotus outfit, which appears perfectly suited to the high degrading rubber with its E21.

Kimi Raikkonen was able to execute a three-stop strategy at the Circuit de Catalunya to finish second and move to within four points of the lead of the world championship.

Well aware that there is a push from some quarters for Pirelli to make changes, Lotus team principal Eric Boullier has admitted tweaks could be a negative for the Enstone-based squad.

"I think it is not in some ways fair, but we have to deal with it like we always did," he said. "Everyone has the same tires."

Boullier reckons that complaints about the tires are being focused in the wrong area, and he feels that rival teams have simply not dealt with the situation very well.

"People need to get the right question," he said. "The question is not the tires: it is because we did something that allowed our car to [look after the tires].

"It is the same for everybody. There was some slight change for here [to the hard compound] which was to please the most complaining team.

"But I don't think Pirelli is going to change anything. They were asked to build tires lasting 20 laps and they did it. So that is it." Yahoo Eurosport UK

Mercedes need 'out-of-the-box thinking'
Mercedes motorsport director Toto Wolff concedes his squad need to come up with another plan to fix their race day woes.

Nico Rosberg claimed his second pole of the season at the Spanish GP on Saturday while his team-mate Lewis Hamilton started next to him on the front row, but things went horribly wrong on the Sunday.

Rosberg only just managed to hang onto sixth place in the end while Hamilton was out of the points in 12th position, behind the likes of Daniel Ricciardo of Toro Rosso and Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez.

Wolff feels the car has enough pace, but admits they are still struggling to come up with answers when it comes to solving their problems with the tires.

"This car is a quick car," said Wolff. "I've been asked whether it has been made for a dragster race rather than a grand prix but no, it's something else.

"This is not about a team struggling with a car lacking pace, where you end up 15th on Saturday, and then 12th or 16th on Sunday. It is a car which is tremendously fast on Saturday, has real speed, but then on Sunday we are not able to manage the car with the tires.

"It's something else which requires out-of-the-box thinking because this is a pattern we have seen in the past.

"Last season we saw a car that was good at the start of the season, that was a quick car, but performance deteriorated.

"So now it's about everybody in the team getting their heads together and analyzing what we do from Saturday to Sunday, asking if there is anything we have not done until now.

"We need to try to question things we might not have questioned in the past.

"As I'm rather on the pessimistic side I don't believe in a magic golden key - I hope there could be.

"Instead it's about changing the approach, looking at the processes for racing."

McLaren denies use of team orders
McLaren insists it did not order Sergio Perez to ease off in his Spanish Grand Prix battle against Jenson Button in an attempt to avoid a repeat of their Bahrain GP clash.

Just one race after the pair came to blows at Sakhir with an over-aggressive fight for positions, the prospect of another wheel-to-wheel dice was on the cards at Barcelona when Perez closed in on his team-mate in the closing stages.

However, a late radio message to the Mexican that told him to focus on conserving his tires meant he abandoned his chase of Button, and he finished two seconds behind at the checkered flag.

Some interpreted McLaren's intervention as a coded message to avoid the pair fighting, but team principal Martin Whitmarsh insisted that there were genuine concerns about tires.

"Checo himself said at the end his tires were finished," said Whitmarsh. "What we didn't want was him to be battling until he ran out of rubber.

"He very nearly did as it turns out. So it was not tactical, it was practical."

"It was a fair fight but if you are asking, did we ask him to back off and not fight? No, not at all.

"We could see the tire wear energy and we were worried he was going to end up with no rubber at the end of the race, which he virtually did."

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