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DATE News (chronologically)
07/03/13
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday
  • Illegal test put Mercedes ahead of rivals.  Will switch to 2012 tires take it away?
    Pirelli blames teams for exploding tires
  • Silverstone chaos 'shouldn't happen' in Germany
  • Pit blunder won't cause Raikkonen exit - Boullier
  • Schumacher will not attend German GP
  • Rivals say 'test-gate' helped Mercedes win races
  • Frijns happy as young drivers survive test shakeup
  • Ferrari worried about fuel-saving formula in 2014
  • Horner: Alonso could have been killed
  • Wolff hits out at F1 'opportunists' New
  • Decision to step down 'is Brawn's alone' - Lowe New

Pirelli blames teams for tire-explosive British GP
(GMM)  Pirelli has shifted the blame for the tire-exploding chaos of last weekend's British grand prix.

F1's Italian supplier insists its 2013 tires "do not compromise safety if used in the correct way".

After several cars experienced tire blow-outs, punctures and damage at Silverstone, Pirelli conducted an investigation and concluded the chaos was due to "a series of different causes".

"Rear tires mounted the wrong way round," a media statement summarized, "low tire pressures, extreme cambers and high curbs".

Pirelli said teams under-inflating tires and using "extreme" camber settings "can be dangerous under certain circumstances".

"I'd like to reemphasize the fact that the 2013 range of tires, used in the correct way, is completely safe," said motor sport director Paul Hembery.

Nonetheless, Pirelli said that its new Kevlar-belted tires - whose race introduction was recently vetoed by teams including Ferrari, Lotus and Force India - will now be used this weekend at the Nurburgring.

That is because the FIA has moved to immediately change the rule requiring teams to unanimously agree to mid-season structural changes.

Then, after the Nurburgring, an all-new tire will debut, combining "the 2012 structures with the 2013 compounds", Pirelli announced.

Pirelli's statement was interpreted by the media as the beleaguered marque shifting all the blame for Silverstone onto the teams.

But Hembery insisted: "In no way are we intending to create arguments or attack anybody.

"We are receiving the full support of all the parties involved, for which we are very grateful."

Retired F1 veteran Rubens Barrichello, however, said it is clear Pirelli's new range of tires over the winter triggered the problems of 2013.

"Last year, the overtaking was as good as it is today but there was less trouble with the tires.

"So Pirelli should look at whether the changes they made this year caused all of this," he told Brazil's Totalrace.

Silverstone chaos 'shouldn't happen' in Germany
(GMM)  After the tire-explosive British grand prix, formula one can look forward to a calmer weekend at the Nurburgring.

Pirelli has announced that in Germany it will supply teams with Kevlar rather than the steel-belted tires that exploded at Silverstone.

The Italian marque also said the teams' habits of swapping the left and right rear tires, and running unrecommended tire pressures and cambers, caused the problems.

And Germany's Bild newspaper published a photo of a sharp curb, covered with black tire markings, that could have contributed to the rear tire failures seen last weekend.

Silverstone boss Derek Warwick, however, slammed as "absolute rubbish" the suggestion the Northamptonshire circuit was to blame for the chaos.

"These curbs have been in since 2009 and we have had thousands and thousands of cars go over them and were absolutely fine," the track-owning British Racing Drivers' Club president told Sky.

Retired F1 veteran Rubens Barrichello, however, believes the unique characteristics of Silverstone may have contributed to the tire failures.

"The concern at Silverstone is about the high speed corners and the (effect they have on the) tire temperatures," he told Brazil's Totalrace.

"It shouldn't happen at the Nurburgring," added Barrichello.

Ferrari reserve driver Pedro de la Rosa agrees.

"For sure, tires will play a major role in Germany," the Spaniard is quoted by Speed Week.

"But in general, the tires are less stressed at the Nurburgring than they are at Silverstone.

"For that reason alone I can't imagine we get a repeat of the events of England," he added.

In the heat of the Silverstone tire crisis, teams and drivers admitted a boycott of this weekend's action in Germany was a possibility.

The Nurburgring organizers, however, are not worried.

Insisting that safety is "of course important", a spokesman for the circuit said tire problems have nothing to do with the circuits.

"It's up to the FIA and formula one itself to solve this problem," the spokesman told Germany's Sport1.

"Our preparations for the weekend are uninterrupted and in full swing, and we expect that everyone will be at the start as planned on Sunday."

Pit blunder won't cause Raikkonen exit - Boullier
(GMM)  Boss Eric Boullier has denied a bungled race strategy at Silverstone could cost Lotus the services next year of lead driver Kimi Raikkonen.

Having admitted "small talks" with Red Bull about replacing Mark Webber next year are taking place, Raikkonen was angry after the British grand prix because Lotus failed to pit him for fresh tires.

Frenchman Boullier admitted the 2007 world champion was "pretty frustrated".

But when considering the incident might cost Lotus the talented Raikkonen's talents in 2014, he insisted: "Kimi's an intelligent guy and he won't let a single pitstop call define a decision like where to drive for 2014.

"He seems to like being with Lotus and we're doing everything we can to show him this is the place to be for next season and beyond," Boullier added.

However, respected German correspondent Michael Schmidt thinks Raikkonen's move to Red Bull in 2014 is now very likely.

Writing in Auto Motor und Sport, he said Mercedes' big steps forward in the past few races "almost forces" Red Bull to push very hard to sign the Finn.

"No team has a better driver pairing than Mercedes," said Schmidt.

"And Sebastian Vettel cannot win a constructors' championship alone -- not against Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg."

Schumacher will not attend German GP
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher will not attend the German grand prix this weekend.

After retiring from F1 for the second and final time at the end of last year, the seven time world champion was tipped to at least attend this weekend's Nurburgring race.

But Germany's Bild newspaper reports that the great 44-year-old is already signed up for a riding competition with his horse-enthusiast wife Corinna.

Schumacher will be riding in a celebrity charity category, raising money for a children's hospital, while the world of formula one races around the Nurburgring.

"The clash of dates is unfortunate," he said, "but of course I'll be watching the grand prix on TV."

Rivals say 'test-gate' helped Mercedes win races
(GMM)  Mercedes' rivals are drawing a direct link between the illegal Barcelona tire test in May, and the German squad's new winning form in 2013.

Christian Horner, the boss of the Red Bull team who was highly critical of Mercedes' involvement in the 'test-gate' scandal, said the Brackley based team must now be considered a "serious rival" for the title alongside Ferrari and Lotus.

Indeed, while Mercedes already had a grip on pole position, Nico Rosberg has won two of the three grands prix since that highly controversial 1000km tire test in Barcelona.

"Others need to judge," Horner, when asked if there is a direct link between Mercedes' new form and 'test-gate', was quoted as saying by Speed Week.

"I'll just ask: how many races in 2013 did they win before the test?" he added, knowing that the answer is zero.

Red Bull designer Adrian Newey added: "Mercedes have been clearly better with the tires since the tire test in Barcelona.

"Draw your own conclusions," the Briton told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

Lotus' Eric Boullier has a similar view.

"That Mercedes won two of the three races after the test is a fact.  So the conclusion is easy," he said.

Not surprisingly, Mercedes director Toto Wolff doesn't agree, and in fact he argues that the team's progress was even hampered by the scandal.

"We were very busy the last couple of weeks getting prepared for the international tribunal," he told F1's official website.

"A lot of grey cells that normally concentrate on making the car better were working on the (court) documentation."

Team boss Ross Brawn, however, insists he isn't bothered about what his rivals say.

"It shows they take us seriously now," he said.

Chairman Niki Lauda agrees: "If the others are still upset about it, I'm pleased, because it means they are distracted."

And Auto Motor und Sport claims Mercedes should continue to make progress, with the team's budget set to increase from EUR 145 to 190 million.

"Now we are improving by at least a tenth every race," said Lauda, "whereas in the past years we always went backwards in the second half of the season."

Frijns happy as young drivers survive test shakeup
(GMM)  Robin Frijns is relieved he will still test for Sauber at Silverstone later this month.

F1 has responded to the tire-exploding Silverstone crisis by turning the forthcoming 'young driver test' into a full-blown tire development session.

It means not only inexperienced drivers are now eligible to test at Silverstone, but also race drivers.

However, the youngsters will continue to have an important role at Silverstone, because the race drivers are only allowed to conduct specific tire testing.

The FIA will have inspectors at Silverstone, ensuring that only rookies are conducting real development running.

Dutchman Frijns, Sauber's 21-year-old reserve driver, confirmed to formule1.nl that he is still scheduled to run on days 1 and 2 of the Silverstone test.

"It will be a tough test but I am very happy that I will get the chance to drive the 2013 car," he said.

"There should be several new components to test," Frijns added.

Ferrari worried about fuel-saving formula in 2014
(GMM)  Ferrari has admitted it is worried grands prix could be half-baked in 2014, as the radical new turbo V6 era dawns in formula one.

One potential problem with the sport's revolutionary shakeup, according to Ferrari's engine boss Luca Marmorini, is that reliability early next year could be poor.

He said designers and engineers will be grappling with the 1000 degree temperatures caused by the turbos, which is not "an easy matter to deal with".

On top of that, the new rules limit each driver to just 5 engines for the whole season, down from 8 at present.

"It will be difficult to run the season without issues," said Marmorini, "considering we are talking about four to five thousand kilometers per unit which is almost double what we are doing right now."

Even more of a worry, he added, is the new rule limiting cars to just 100kg of fuel per race, which could force drivers to save fuel whilst battling for position.

"Ferrari feels this could be a danger," said Marmorini.

"We like formula one to consider efficiency, but we don't like formula one to be a sport where you are cruising for 50 per cent of the laps."

Horner: Alonso could have been killed
Red Bull boss Christian Horner believes Fernando Alonso is lucky to be alive after the Ferrari driver narrowly missed the pieces of debris that flew off Sergio Perez's car after the McLaren driver's left rear tire exploded on the Hangar Straight at Silverstone.

Horner's comments came after Lewis Hamilton, Ferrari's Felipe Massa, Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne and Perez all suffered left rear failures during the British Grand Prix on Sunday, which raised questions about driver's safety during high-speed tire blow-outs.

"We need to think of driver safety. Make no mistake about it, Alonso is a very lucky boy to be going home," Horner told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"It's not right. Forget performance; forget who has an advantage and who doesn't. The sport has to be safe. The most important thing is driver safety. I'm surprised they didn't stop the race in many respects.

"It's a safety issue now."

Alonso was in position to pass Perez in the moments before the Mexican's tire burst. The two-time world champion avoided the pieces of debris flying off the McLaren and was fortunate not to be hit by pieces of rubber and metal.

"That one with Sergio I was so scared and so lucky because I missed the contact by one centimeter," the Spaniard commented after the race.

Wolff hits out at F1 'opportunists'
(GMM)  Toto Wolff on Wednesday hit out at F1's 'opportunists' who initially blocked Pirelli's intended tire changes.

Actually, Pirelli has never admitted its 2013 tires are not safe, which is the technicality that left the door open for Ferrari, Lotus and Force India to simply say 'no' to the new kevlar-belted structure.

"I don't think you can expect any tire supplier in the world to say their tires are not safe," Mercedes director Toto Wolff said on Wednesday.

The tire-exploding British grand prix, however, has forced the issue, moving the FIA to green-light the kevlar change, even though it breaches the earlier need for unanimity.

Wolff suggested the resisting teams should never have blocked the move.

"Sometimes it takes dramatic events for everyone to pull together.  In this case, there can be no more opportunistic seeking of advantage," he is quoted by SID news agency.

It might be argued, however, that Mercedes is only so open about changing the tires because it has struggled so much with durability on this year's heavily-degrading Pirelli tires.

Wolff insisted: "Safety is priority number one."

He added that it is a "relief" new tires are being debuted at the Nurburgring, but Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton - so critical after Silverstone, where he had a failure whilst leading - is less convinced.

"It's still a concern," said the 2008 world champion.

"We'll see how the weekend goes but I'm sure they've taken the right steps to make it safe."

Meanwhile, having readily accepted its banning from the forthcoming 'young driver test' over test-gate, it might be suggested that Mercedes' penalty just became much harsher.

Due to the Silverstone tire chaos, that test has now been opened up to race drivers -- but Mercedes remains banned.

"We have accepted that we are not going (to test)," Wolff said.

"If, like our test (at Barcelona), it is blind tire testing, then it should go ahead."

Decision to step down 'is Brawn's alone' - Lowe
(GMM)  At the very top of the Mercedes team, the 'elephant in the room' is called Paddy Lowe.

Lowe, surprisingly released early by McLaren, is now attending races for Mercedes, even though many had expected him to arrive to replace team boss Ross Brawn.

But Brawn is quoted on Wednesday by the BBC: "We're in good shape for next year.  I wouldn't want to miss the fun."

For fellow Briton Lowe, it's a slightly awkward situation -- not yet in a defined role, and apparently simply waiting for Brawn to quietly step aside.

There have even been rumors Brawn could return to Honda to lead the Japanese marque's 2015 reunion in F1 with McLaren, but Brawn insists: "I don't know anything about that."

So, Lowe waits.

"Ross is currently the team principal," he told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, "we don't know how long he wants to go on, but it's his decision alone.

"I'm proud to work with a man who has beaten me many times in my career," Lowe smiled.

"In the meantime there's a lot to do and I'm very comfortable with that."

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