F1 news in brief - Thursday (Updated Honda is back) UPDATE Updates show in red below.
- Tire change 'like widening football goals' - Boullier
- As Honda news looms, Sato rules out F1
- Alonso third on 'international' sports earners list
- Ecclestone not quitting after German bribery charge
- McLaren confirms Honda's 2015 F1 return New
- Alexander Rossi to drive in 24 Hours of LeMans New
- Whitmarsh: McLaren and Honda are synonymous with success in F1 New
- Ecclestone welcomes Honda to Formula 1 New
- New engines key to Honda return New
- Mercedes trusts rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg won't boil over New
Tire change 'like widening football goals' - Boullier
(GMM) Eric Boullier has revealed Lotus is "a little disappointed" with Pirelli's decision to change its 2013 tires mid-season.
Amid the media furor and the complaining of prominent teams like Red Bull and Mercedes, F1's official supplier announced that it will revert to elements of last year's tire design for the Canadian grand prix next month and beyond.
But Lotus boss Boullier stressed that only "some teams" actually welcome the changes "because it can help their performance".
Indeed, teams including Lotus and Barcelona winner Ferrari were happy with the existing Pirelli tires.
"Unlike Red Bull," Boullier told France's Canal Plus, "who have a policy of developing the car based solely on aerodynamics, we are among the teams like Ferrari, who took into account the Pirelli factor when designing the car.
"So we're actually a little disappointed by this change," he admitted.
"I don't know a lot of other sports where, let's say in football, they decide to increase the size of the goals in the middle of a season," said Boullier.
Similarly, Pirelli's test driver Jaime Alguersuari argues that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the 2013 tire, praising drivers like Ferrari's Fernando Alonso who "understand the tires where others do not".
"I don't see the drama," the Spaniard told the sports daily AS.
"When Vettel was winning in 2011 it was like this, but when things go well, you don't complain.
"What is happening now is that a few understand the tires while others do not.
"So there is Alonso with Ferrari, and also Raikkonen and Lotus (who understand).
"It happened to me in 2011," former Toro Rosso driver Alguersuari continued. "I had a horrible start to the year, but from mid-season we began to understand the behavior of the compounds."
As Honda news looms, Sato rules out F1
(GMM) Honda is expected to announce before the week is out its highly anticipated return to formula one.
Citing Honda sources, major Japanese newspapers including the Asahi Shimbun and Yomiuri Shimbun, and the Kyodo news agency, are reporting that a formal announcement of the 2015 comeback is now imminent.
The announcement will almost certainly be of a works engine collaboration with the great British team McLaren starting in 2015, and potential customer engine deals for the radical new turbo V6 regulations.
A Honda spokesperson would not comment.
Interestingly, however, Tokyo-born former Honda driver Takuma Sato has ruled out a return to formula one in the near future, insisting he is committed to IndyCar.
"Formula one isn't the only racing," the 36-year-old told NBC.
"My first focus is to win races here, win the (Indy) 500 and win the championship."
German-language Speed Week, however, said it could be a totally different story for the newly-departed and formerly Toyota-backed Japanese Kamui Kobayashi.
Alonso third on 'international' sports earners list
(GMM) Fernando Alonso is the third-highest 'international' sports earner on earth, according to the influential US magazine Sports Illustrated.
Excluding American athletes, like undefeated boxer Floyd 'Money' Mayweather who has already earned $90 million in 2013, the highest paid sportsman is British footballer David Beckham.
His $48 million is trailed by tennis' Roger Federer (43m), followed by Ferrari's Alonso, whose estimated $42 million in 2013 will include his retainer and endorsements.
Spaniard Alonso reportedly makes more than Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo (35m) and FC Barcelona rival Lionel Messi, according to the international list.
F1's next representative, coming in at eleventh on the list with almost $24 million, is Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, while the newly-retired Michael Schumacher is still raking in the income, with just under $20m estimated.
Ecclestone not quitting after German bribery charge
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has played down the notion he might quietly retire off the back of his German bribery charges.
Although F1's 82-year-old chief executive and his Munich lawyers insist the official charge sheet has not actually been received, it is now widely accepted that prosecutors will ask the district court to hear charges related to the Gerhard Gribkowsky corruption affair.
It will be alleged Ecclestone paid Gribkowsky - who has already been jailed - $44 million amid the sale of the sport's commercial rights to current owners CVC.
"No, that's nonsense," Ecclestone is quoted by German newspaper Bild.
"The money I paid him had nothing to do with the sale of formula one shares."
Asked if he will nonetheless retire as a result of the bribery charges, he insisted: "No. I don't think so.
"The shareholders will have to decide. Forget this story -- when my contract expires, they can replace me with whoever they want."
As for the German charges, Ecclestone said: "All I know is, I am innocent. And in the end the truth will come out."
McLaren confirms Honda's 2015 F1 return
(GMM) Honda on Thursday confirmed its 2015 return to formula one, announcing it will supply engines to its 80s and 90s works partner McLaren.
"We're proud and thrilled to be joining forces once more to take on the world in formula one," said McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh in Tokyo.
Honda pulled out of F1 amid the global financial crisis at the end of 2008, with its Brackley based team becoming Brawn GP and then Mercedes.
Before the switch to Honda in 2015, McLaren said on Thursday it will continue to work "diligently and professionally" with Mercedes power in 2014, as F1 transitions to turbo V6 power.
Honda president Takanobu Ito said: "We have the greatest respect for the FIA's decision to introduce these new regulations".
Ito believes that motor-racing has played a key role in Honda's road car sales.
"Ever since its establishment, Honda has been a company which grows by participating and winning in racing," said Ito.
"We must re-acknowledge the fact that so many fans and customers around the world supported us precisely because they were inspired by a Honda that challenges and wins in racing."
"Personally, it was very frustrating that we had to withdraw from Formula 1 the last time without accomplishing satisfactory results," he said.
"I regret that we could not meet the expectations of our fans."
Alexander Rossi will drive in 24 Hours of LeMans
Caterham Formula 1 reserve driver Alexander Rossi will race a Greaves Motorsport Zytek LMP2 at the Le Mans 24 Hours in the colors of the grand prix team.
The deal between the F1 team and Greaves means that the American GP2 and F1 driver will be teamed with three-time Le Mans class winner Tom Kimber-Smith and former American Le Mans Series LMPC champion Eric Lux in one of the two Greaves Zytek-Nissan Z11SNs.
Greaves team principal Tim Greaves said: "We are please to be the first LMP2 team to have the backing of an F1 team. The car will run in Caterham colors, which means British Racing Green with white and yellow.
"Alexander joining Tom and Eric means the car is full of talent. We've now got two strong driver line-ups for what will be our 50th endurance start as a team."
Rossi replaces amateur driver Christian Zugel in the Greaves line-up. The German has withdrawn from Le Mans for family and business reasons.
Whitmarsh: McLaren and Honda are synonymous with success in F1
McLaren Group CEO Martin Whitmarsh was very happy with the announcement that McLaren will welcome Honda back to Formula 1 in 2015. “It’s fantastic news for everyone who loves Formula 1 to be able to welcome Honda back to Formula 1,” Whitmarsh said.
Speaking about reuniting both brands in Formula 1 Whitmarsh said: “Like McLaren, Honda is a company with motor racing woven into the fabric of its heritage. We’re proud and thrilled to be joining forces once more to take on the world in Formula 1. Whilst both companies are fully aware that we’re embarking on a very demanding journey together, we’re hugely committed to the success of the partnership, and we'll spend the next 18 months working together to ensure that we’re fully established and competitive ahead of our first grand prix together in 2015.
“The names of McLaren and Honda are synonymous with success in Formula 1, and, for everyone who works for both companies, the weight of our past achievements together lies heavily on our shoulders. But it’s a mark of the ambition and resolve we both share that we want once again to take McLaren-Honda to the very pinnacle of Formula 1 success. Together we have a great legacy – and we’re utterly committed to maintaining it.
“Honda has built a reputation as a worldwide engineering giant, but its roots, its specialism and its passion lie in the advancement of the internal combustion engine. Throughout its history, Honda has pioneered engine technology in road cars, motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles. Indeed, its experience as a manufacturer of turbocharged engines is unequalled by any other car manufacturer currently competing in Formula 1.
“McLaren and Honda share an unswerving commitment to high-technology, to innovation and to performance. Together we’ll form a lasting partnership that will deliver success on the track, backed up by world-leading R&D and engineering intelligence.
“Finally, it’s appropriate to recognize that until the end of 2014 we’ll maintain a full commitment to our existing and long-standing partner, Mercedes-Benz, for which we retain the utmost respect and with whom we intend to continue to work diligently and professionally. McLaren-Mercedes has so far won an incredible 78 grands prix and four world championships. We aim to cap our long-standing partnership with the same ambition and resolve with which we began it: namely, to keep winning.”
Ecclestone welcomes Honda to Formula 1
The return of Honda to Formula 1 makes Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone very happy. Ecclestone saw Honda claim several World Championships with McLaren in the past and according to the Briton Honda is a natural contender in F1.
"It is a great pleasure to see Honda back in Formula 1," Ecclestone said. "Their engine technology and passion for motorsport make them a natural Formula 1 contender."
New engines key to Honda return
Honda's decision to return to Formula 1 was motivated by the potential for technology transfer to road cars offered by the switch to 1.6-litre turbocharged engines.
The new engine formula will be introduced next year, with Honda taking over from Mercedes as McLaren's engine supplier from 2015.
Honda president Takanobu Ito confirmed that the 'green' technologies being adopted by F1 were key to its comeback.
"Formula 1 is about to introduce new regulations that require a downsized engine with a turbocharger and energy recover systems, which fits better with environmental technologies for mass-production vehicles," said Ito at a press conference announcing Honda's return.
"As a result, more than ever we can expect more feedback from racing machines to mass-production vehicles and some feedback from mass-production vehicles back to racing machines.
"As we started to see a better match between the new direction of F1 and the direction of Honda's product development, our young engineers who will shape the future of Honda began expressing their passion to take on the new challenge of Formula 1 racing."
Mercedes trusts rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg won't boil over
Mercedes is prepared for a disagreement between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton at some point this season, but is confident it won't derail the team's progress.
The Mercedes team-mates are good friends away from the circuit and so far this season have been closely matched in qualifying and races. One flashpoint came in Malaysia when Rosberg was ordered to remain behind Hamilton by the pit wall, but the incident does not appear to have affected the relationship between the drivers.
However, team principal Ross Brawn said it is inevitable the two will have disagreements at some point this season, but he is confident it won't distract the team.
"Our drivers get on well, they have raced together before, they have got some nice history together, but we all know there will be events and incidents where they get angry with each other," he said. "But that's natural, they are competitors and it's important that we recover from those very quickly so it doesn't become damaging. But they will have their moments for sure."
Brawn said so far the relationship between his drivers has helped push the team forward.
"I think with any driver you need the pace and speed, because without that you are not going to succeed - the first thing any top F1 driver needs is the pace. Then you need an intelligent approach and if you both drivers working in harmony to improve the car and the way the team works, then you've got an ideal situation.
"Our drivers work very well together as team-mates, they want to beat each other and they are very quick and that's combination that we are enjoying at the moment." ESPN F1