Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday (Updated) UPDATE Updates shown in red below.
|Vettel set fastest lap in Monaco at end to prove current Pirelli tires make F1 a parade not a race|
- Big spenders pushing out smaller teams - Mallya
- Vettel smashed fastest lap after Monaco boredom
- Sauber slams 'unsportsmanlike' Bottas
- Marko compares Mercedes test with 2007 'spygate'
- Pirelli's planned change from steel to Kevlar upsetting to some
- Domenicali wants Ferrari tire test if Mercedes test was legal
- Leaked letter reveals teams were warned last year against testing
- Williams sacks Alex Burns
- New Pirelli F1 contract "close", says president New
- Thai Grand Prix attracts opposition New
- Michael Schumachers onboard lap at the Nordschleife New
Big spenders pushing out smaller teams - Mallya
(GMM) Force India team owner Vijay Mallya has backed his deputy in claiming F1's biggest teams are pushing their small rivals out of the sport.
Deputy team boss Bob Fernley issued a furious attack on F1 owners CVC last weekend, saying he suspected the odds are being stacked in an apparent bid to "get rid of teams".
"Everything we're doing at the moment is about increasing costs," he said.
"Everything is now moving in the way of the (biggest) four teams."
Fernley said CVC has done an "awful" job and is "the worst thing that has ever happened" to F1, and one report even quoted him as accusing CVC of "raping" the sport.
According to CVC's Donald Mackenzie, however, Fernley apologized for that.
"He said sorry, that he didn't mean what he said, that he just wanted to get a headline," said Mackenzie.
But Indian businessman Mallya backed his deputy, accusing the biggest teams of backpedalling on earlier cost-cutting agreements and ramping up their spending.
"On the one hand FOTA, when it was in full force, decided that we needed to cut costs in F1," he said.
"But instead of reducing costs, one or two teams decided that winning at any cost was more important than the sustainability of the sport," he is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace.
"I think F1 also needs the independent and the smaller teams."
Bernie Ecclestone agreed that the teams themselves are to blame for spiraling costs.
"They are the ones who control these things. They spend the money," said the F1 chief executive.
"The amount of money I've said the teams receive is enough to run a successful business."
The Jean Todt-led FIA, criticized by some for not getting involved in cost-cutting, has a similar view.
"The FIA has supported the resource restriction agreement but that failed because the teams could not agree," a spokesman told the Guardian.
"The FIA would still like to help teams to cut their costs," he added, but he said the matter of much higher engine costs for 2014 "is between the constructors and their customers".
Vettel smashed fastest lap after Monaco boredom
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has admitted he defied his team's instructions in Monaco due to boredom.
In the dying stages of the race, the Red Bull driver picked up his pace behind winner Nico Rosberg, earning a rebuke for smashing the fastest race lap.
"Just satisfaction instead of going slow for 77 laps," replied the German.
"No satisfaction for us though," added Vettel's race engineer Guillaume Rocquelin.
On seeing just how much faster the Red Bull driver was capable of going in Monaco, having conserved Pirelli's fragile tires all race, BBC commentator David Coulthard called the current situation in F1 "rubbish".
Vettel added: "I'm not trying to do something silly, and I apologize for quarrelling with my engineer on the radio.
"But it's a reflection of how the racing is today, when you can be three seconds a lap faster," he is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace.
"I know that the drivers are not enjoying the races as much as they would like," he added.
"The show is good up to a point, but if it's a matter of following one another and waiting for the checkered flag, I'm not sure if that is what people want to see."
Vettel said he hopes the changes being made by Pirelli for the next race in Canada and beyond will help the situation.
Sauber slams 'unsportsmanlike' Bottas
(GMM) Valtteri Bottas has been accused of "unsportsmanlike" behavior in the dying moments of the Monaco grand prix.
In the last two laps, when Kimi Raikkonen was seething through the field on fresh Pirelli rubber following his late pitstop, the Finn managed to salvage a solitary point by making up three places to finish tenth.
One of the cars he passed was countryman Bottas, who appeared to pull over for the title-charging Raikkonen.
That allowed the Lotus driver to stroll past Sauber's Nico Hulkenberg, who on worn Pirelli tires that were showing the steel belt beneath therefore missed the final championship point by mere meters.
To Blick newspaper, Sauber team manager Beat Zehnder slammed Bottas' behavior towards the charging Raikkonen as "unsportsmanlike".
Team founder Peter Sauber added: "He (Bottas) stole a point from us."
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, however, claims Bottas told reporters after the race that he only pulled over for Raikkonen because he thought the black Lotus was the leader.
Marko compares Mercedes test with 2007 'spygate'
(GMM) F1 could be about to be rocked by a penalty on the scale of the 'spy scandal' of 2007.
The FIA is expected to convene a meeting of the international tribunal, to consider the matter of Mercedes' 'secret' Pirelli tire test.
Ferrari, along with Red Bull, filed the official protest in Monaco.
"You might expect a sporting penalty," Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali told the Associated Press.
"But because it is not really clear what could be the effect on the race weekend, it may be bigger than that," he added.
"Because there is no precedent, I have no idea what should happen."
Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko, however, believes there is a precedent.
"There will be a hearing," he told Bild newspaper, "although I do not know when and where.
"It is in the direction of the spy scandal of 2007 between McLaren and Ferrari," added Marko.
The outspoken Austrian is referring to 2007, when the FIA considered banning McLaren but ultimately excluded the British team from the constructors' championship and issued a record $100 million fine.
Marko makes the 'spygate' comparison because he alleges Mercedes' advantage from the exclusive 1000km test with its 2013 car and race drivers will be far-reaching.
"A test like that is even more of an advantage if it is immediately after a race, because you have all of the comparative data, so you can make very decisive improvements.
"Until now the tires have had a steel (internal) belt but now it's going to be Kevlar, which is the tires that were tested," he is quoted by Swiss newspaper Blick.
"That is what we are going to have in Montreal, so Mercedes does not only have an advantage for Monaco," added Marko.
Pirelli's planned change from steel to Kevlar upsetting to some
Pirelli's planned safety changes to its tires for the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix next month could unfairly handicap teams that have discovered a clever way to use the Italian rubber.
The news also ties in with the controversial Pirelli test conducted by Mercedes at Barcelona in the week after the Spanish GP.
Pirelli had made it clear that it intends to switch from steel to Kevlar belts for Montreal. The move has been touted on safety grounds, as a result of several cases of delaminating treads, which have caused embarrassment to the Italian company, even though many observers consider that a delamination is potentially safer than a complete tire disintegration, as it allows the driver to carry on back to the pits.
Pirelli has insisted that the change won't have a major impact on the competition, but some teams insist that it will.
Since the start of the season, some teams have routinely been swapping the left and right rear tires, having discovered -- in some cases as early as winter testing -- that they found an overall performance advantage by doing so.
The 2013 steel-belt tires are designated for the left side and the right side of the car by Pirelli. However, there is nothing in the rules to stop teams from using them on the opposite side, if they find it works better. That switch is not something that can be done without a considerable amount of attention to setup and so on, in order to make the change work effectively.
Indeed, in the case of some teams, it even goes back to the design stage as they worked with data during the winter, having run prototype tires in Brazil and decided -- in effect -- that Pirelli had gotten its sums wrong in defining the left and right-side tires.
Intriguingly, sources have indicated that in Monaco, Mercedes used the swapping technique for the first time -- or at least it was the first time that it was spotted by keen-eyed observers.
It would thus be very easy to speculate that Mercedes took the opportunity of the Barcelona test to try out the technique.
However, while it may have helped Mercedes in Monaco, it might not do so in Montreal, assuming that Pirelli follows up on its promise to switch from steel belts back to Kevlar, as used last year.
However, Kevlar-belted tires are not designated to be used specifically on one side of the car, so there is no point in swapping them around.
And that means the teams that have been routinely swapping will lose the advantage they currently have, and that in turn explains why they (a) they are now fighting with Pirelli and the FIA over the planned change, and (b) why those teams who have not been able to make tire-swapping work, or have general tire issues, are only too happy for it to go through.
It's also clear that the change of belts represents a change of specification, which usually has to be cleared by all the teams.
If the change does happen, it will provide further ammunition for Red Bull and Ferrari given that it is widely accepted that Mercedes tried the revised tires in Barcelona, and thus have the huge advantage of being the only team to have already run 2013 Kevlar-belted tires.
Inevitably, the speculation is that Mercedes didn't just try tires in Barcelona, but also its own components. It's even been suggested that the team ran a gearbox with revised suspension geometry in an attempt to get to the bottom of its tire problems, and if that turns out to be true, then surely rivals will be even more frustrated than they are now. AutoWeek
Domenicali wants Ferrari tire test if Mercedes test was legal
Stefano Domenicali says the main reason Ferrari has protested against Mercedes' tire test with Pirelli is because it wants to be able to test itself.
The furor over the Mercedes test erupted on Sunday morning in Monaco, with Red Bull and Ferrari protesting to the stewards. The matter has been referred to the FIA who may bring it in front of an International Tribunal, but Domenicali said the fact that Mercedes had tested could mean there is a loophole to be exploited and he wants Ferrari to be able to do the same.
"Just to make the story very short we lodged a protest because it's basically the only way to understand the clarification of the regulation where you have a doubt," Domenicali said. "For us it was not in doubt that it was the 2013 car and - as written in the regulation 22.1 - it's not possible to use the previous two year's cars during the season for any kind of activity.
"Therefore that was our opinion and we just want to know if this is possible. If this is possible we will be the first to raise our arms to make sure we can do the same because as you know Ferrari has always been very pushy to try to do in-season testing on the track and this is the reason why we wanted to understand the situation, no more than that.
"If the decision will be opposite of what we believe is the right interpretation on our side then we will need to react immediately and ask for this to happen, I would say yes we would want to do something."
The regulation of which Domenicali talks - 22.1 in the 2013 Sporting Regulations - states: 'Track testing shall be considered any track running time not part of an Event undertaken by a competitor entered in the Championship, using cars which conform substantially with the current Formula One Technical Regulations in addition to those from the previous or subsequent year. The only exception is that each competitor is permitted up to eight promotional events, carried out using tires provided specifically for this purpose by the appointed supplier, to a maximum distance of 100kms per event.' ESPN
Leaked letter reveals teams were warned last year against testing
A leaked letter has revealed that all the F1 teams, including Mercedes, were explicitly warned that no in-season testing would be permitted despite the provision for Pirelli to run 1,000km of tire-testing.
The letter, reputedly sent out last April by the Formula One Teams' Association and published in The Daily Telegraph, makes plain that a 'tire test' could only be staged with the unanimous support of all the teams.
It is the latest twist in a saga that erupted on the morning of Sunday's Monaco GP when news broke that Mercedes, subsequent victors in Monte Carlo, had held a three-day test with Pirelli in the week after the Spanish GP.
Although Mercedes insisted the test was within the rules, the letter declares that there is no scope with the regulations for a private test to be held unilaterally.
The letter stated: "Pirelli is entitled under the terms of their agreement with the FIA to offer teams 1,000km of tire-testing, subject to each team being treated equally. However, there are no provisions within the sporting regulations for such testing to take place in-season."
Mercedes' rivals are adamant that a breach of the regulations has been committed, with Red Bull boss Christian Horner describing the test as "underhand" and Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali arguing: "There is not a doubt the 2013 car was used and, as is written in the regulations, the two previous years' cars cannot be used in the season in this way."
On Sunday night, the FIA published its own statement which declared that the test had not been approved and would have only been ratified if it had been run by Pirelli with all the other teams offered an equal opportunity to participate.
The matter could now be passed on to the FIA's International Tribunal with a wide range of sanctions available to the governing body if Mercedes are found guilty of transgressing the rules from a swinging fine to a points deduction. Sky Sports
Williams sacks Alex Burns
Williams Grand Prix Holdings PLC has announced that Mike O'Driscoll will become Group CEO with effect from today.
O'Driscoll, formerly Managing Director of Jaguar Cars (2007 – 2011) and ex-President of Aston Martin Jaguar Land Rover in North America (2001 – 2007), has been appointed Group CEO to guide the long term future of Williams. The newly created role will see the Williams F1 Team and Williams Advanced Engineering united under one management structure and will enable Mike to provide support to Sir Frank Williams, founder and Team Principal and to work in partnership with Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal.
Mike will lead the Executive Committee who will report to him and in turn he will report to Sir Frank Williams and the Williams Grand Prix Holdings board.
Alex Burns, previously Chief Executive Officer of Williams Grand Prix Holdings PLC, will leave the company with immediate effect. Williams thanks him for the significant contribution he has made to the business and wishes him well in his future endeavors.
Sir Frank Williams said: "Mike has been a valued member of our Board since 2011 as a Non-Executive Director and I am delighted that his day to day involvement in the company is to significantly increase. This new role strengthens the company and will help us achieve our goals both on the race track and in diversification. Mike brings with him significant skills and a wealth of experience. Working with Claire, I am in no doubt that the future of Williams is in safe hands."
Claire Williams said: "Today's announcement is not only great news for the company, but is further evidence of the execution of our long term strategy for business success. Mike brings with him a unique mix of skills and capabilities and he is a passionate motorsport enthusiast with significant automotive industry experience. I have every confidence that he can drive the business forward to deliver an improved performance for both the Williams F1 Team and Williams Advanced Engineering."
Mike O'Driscoll, Williams Group CEO, said: "I am honored that the Board has entrusted me with the position of Group CEO. I have been proud to serve as a Non-Executive Director since 2011 and in my new role, I am very much looking forward to helping Sir Frank and Claire achieve the ambitious goals we have set ourselves."
New Pirelli F1 contract "close", says president
Pirelli president Marco Tronchetti Provera expects the company to extend its F1 contract
The president of Formula 1's controversial tire supplier Pirelli says a new deal, which will see them remain after this season, is "close".
This year has been a difficult year for Pirelli: their 2013 spec tires are dividing opinion because of the style of racing the high-degrading rubber has produced, and now the Italian manufacturer is embroiled in a new scandal surrounding a 'secret' test conducted with Mercedes after the Spanish Grand Prix.
Pirelli's initial three-year deal with Formula 1 ends at the end of this year and last week Director of Motorsport Paul Hembery threatened Pirelli would quit F1 if a new deal was not done soon.
Now, however, Pirelli's president Marco Tronchetti Provera has said a new contract is close after talks with Bernie Ecclestone in Monaco.
"We are approaching the conditions (to sign)," Provera said, "so we'll see.
"The fact is that Bernie is happy with us and also our company is still interested in the F1 project, so I hope we can get to an agreement soon and all will be well."
Provera continued saying he was pleased of the contribution Pirelli was making to F1.
"We were asked to add more 'show' to the races, and I think the races are better now than before our arrival, so I think in that sense we have succeeded," he insisted.
He then spoke about this year's controversial tires believing Pirelli has not been given a good enough car or "enough days of testing" to develop optimum tires.
Finally the planned changes for the Canadian GP are going ahead despite some opposition as Ecclestone proclaimed.
"I did it like the old days," he told Auto Motor und Sport. "I told the teams that they should be united.
"Pirelli will modify its tires as planned," the F1 chief executive revealed.
Thai Grand Prix attracts opposition
As is often the case with a new addition to the F1 schedule, the proposal to run a grand prix on the streets of Bangkok has met with opposition from environmental groups.
The race took a step closer to reality last month, with local newspapers reporting that the Sports Authority of Thailand has signed off on a 3.725-mile circuit that would take the cars right through the heart of the capital city.
The start/finish straight would be at the Royal Thai Naval Dockyard on the Chao Phraya river near the Rama VIII Bridge, and the street circuit would enclose Bangkok's famous Khao San Road, well known to backpackers the world over. From there, it heads south towards one of the city's chief tourist attractions, the Grand Palace, and then heads up Ratchadamnoen Avenue, before taking in the Democracy Monument and other sites including the red Giant Swing of Wat Suthat, Wat Arun and the Navy Club, before following Phra Sumen back to the start/finish line.
While sports authority representatives claimed that 'only a small group of residents would be affected by the proposed route', the layout's proximity to some of the country's most historic landmarks has sparked concern amongst environmental groups.
"F1 cars might overshoot a curve and crash into some structures along the route," Srisuwan Janya, president of Stop Global Warming Association Thailand told the Bangkok Post, before claiming that the vibration caused by 22 speeding racecars would also cause damage to the likes of the Grand Palace.
Suggesting that holding the grand prix would likely infringe several laws regarding both the environment and historic sites, Srisuwan also doubted the motives for staging the race.
"The purpose of organizing this event is to promote car manufacturers, not tourism as claimed," he insisted, claiming that THAISGWA would ask the national Administrative Court to consider suspending the project with immediately effect.
The inaugural Thai Grand Prix is tentatively scheduled for 2015.
Michael Schumachers onboard lap at the Nordschleife
Watch on-board footage of Michael Schumacher's lap of the Nurburgring Nordschleife.