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DATE News (chronologically)
07/05/13
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Friday (Update)  UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

07/05/13
  • Audi and Porsche again say no to F1
    Tire crisis deepens as drivers threaten boycott
  • Red Bull asks fans to help decide 2014 driver
  • Audi questions 'sense' of F1 for carmakers
  • Mika Salo expects 2013 race return for Kovalainen
  • FIA moves further to end tire-exploding chaos
  • FIA confirms tire operating restrictions New
  • Tires behave in first practice New
  • Alonso: We have to trust it won't be dangerous New

Tire crisis deepens as drivers threaten boycott
(GMM)  F1's tire-gate saga has taken another dramatic twist, as drivers formally threaten to boycott the German grand prix.

The Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA), led by Ferrari tester Pedro de la Rosa, warned at the Nurburgring that drivers will pull out of the Nurburgring round if there are signs the tire-exploding crisis seen at Silverstone has not been solved.

"The drivers have decided if similar problems should manifest themselves during the German GP, we shall immediately withdraw from the event," read the statement.

The GPDA said it believes the entire problem has been "avoidable", which is surely a dig at F1 and Pirelli's deliberate move to supply tires designed to degrade quickly.

At the very same time, leading F1 drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button were expressing their intention to stay away from the forthcoming Silverstone test.

"I have absolutely no intention of attending," Ferrari's Alonso is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport says teams will only be able to field race drivers on one of the test days, with rookies needing to drive at other times as originally intended.

And speculation about a fourth test day was ruled out.

Alonso, however, insisted he doesn't want to test at all.  "Ferrari will have to force me," he said.

"I'm not a Pirelli test driver.

"The decision to test experimental tires at the track where there was a tire problem is a decision that I believe is extremely dangerous," Alonso said.

"This season the tire supplier hasn't made the best decisions," the Ferrari driver, who said being hit by the shards of metal tire debris last weekend at Silverstone "would be like a bullet or a knife", added.

McLaren's Button agreed that he doesn't want to run at Silverstone.

"Only one type of tire is going to be tested, which - for me - is not a tire test."

Alonso's teammate Felipe Massa, however, told Brazil's O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper he wants to do the test.

"I think it's important," he said.  "I'm always in favor of testing, and I think it's important to have experienced drivers (there)."

Drivers and teams are also hitting back at Pirelli's claims it was the practice of using extreme tire pressures and cambers that caused the problems at Silverstone.

"McLaren stuck within the correct boundaries of what Pirelli told us to do and we had two failures on our car," said Button.

Mercedes' Ross Brawn has said the same, and Spain's Marca newspaper reported that Sauber also followed Pirelli's guidelines but had a failure.

Massa, meanwhile, said the fact rear tires have been fitted the wrong way around may also not be an explanation.

"I had problems in Bahrain and they (the tires) were mounted right," he said.

Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez said: "Not just Pirelli is to blame, and not just the teams are to blame.

"I think we have to work together rather than blaming one another."

But Button also questioned Pirelli's decision to supply new tires this weekend in Germany, before switching to yet another construction in Hungary.

"I don't know why it is necessary (to change again in Hungary) if these tires are fine," said the 2009 world champion.

Watching the tire crisis from the outside, former Mercedes director Norbert Haug sympathized those who are trying to fix the problem.

"Modern formula one is ungovernable," he told Bild newspaper.

"People only care if they see an advantage for themselves."

Former F1 driver Mika Salo also observed: "Silverstone was really unsafe, but the rules were the cause of it -- Pirelli wanted to change (tires beforehand) but they couldn't," he told the Finnish broadcaster MTV3.

Whatever the case, it is possible the move to Kevlar-belted tires at the Nurburgring will shuffle the pecking order.

"Possibly," admitted Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, while teammate Nico Rosberg said a shakeup is "very likely".

Salo agrees: "Change always favors someone."

Alonso, meanwhile, has the final word.

"At the moment, the priority isn't about the performance of one team or another," he said.  "The most important thing is that everyone gets back to their own bed safely on Sunday night."

Red Bull asks fans to help decide 2014 driver
(GMM)  Red Bull has turned to its fans to help it decide Mark Webber's successor.

Team boss Christian Horner recently narrowed down the selection of Sebastian Vettel's new teammate for 2014 to a shortlist of three -- Kimi Raikkonen, or a current Toro Rosso driver.

So on Red Bull's official Facebook page, a survey asking fans which of the three should get the job duly appeared.

Finn Raikkonen attracted thousands of votes, while the second most popular choice was Australian Daniel Ricciardo.

Raikkonen was not listening to the rumors on Thursday.

"It's four days ago since you probably asked last time, and nothing has changed," he said at the Nurburgring.

The always-smiling 23-year-old Ricciardo was more forthcoming.

"It's nice to hear some positive things," he said.  "It would be a great position to be in but I've still got a bit of work ahead of me."

Vettel told a German newspaper last week that he will have a say on who is ultimately selected, but he told reporters on Thursday that Red Bull will decide.

"It's not my decision," said the triple world champion whilst sitting next to Ricciardo, "but as he (Ricciardo) sits here, I would if I could give him the seat.

"But equally if Kimi was there, I would give him the seat," added Vettel.  "I think it's something decided by the team and so far we haven't really spoken about it."

Considered an outside chance to replace Webber is Jenson Button, particularly with McLaren struggling so much to pull out of its 2013 slump.

Asked if he might consider moving to another top team like Red Bull, Button answered: "I would, if this season was a permanent situation.

"But I am convinced that McLaren is simply having a bad year," he is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

Audi questions 'sense' of F1 for carmakers
(GMM)  Audi chairman Rupert Stadler has played down suggestions a formula one foray should be considered by the Volkswagen-owned German carmaker.

Audi's repeat successes at the fabled Le Mans 24 hour race has sparked suggestions the Ingolstadt-based marque might now consider F1, particularly as the sport has now embraced modern engine and energy-recovery technology.

So chairman Rupert Stadler was asked by the German business magazine Wirtschaftswoche whether Audi or the similarly VW-linked Porsche might consider F1 after Le Mans.

He answered: "It's an interesting thought but, believe me, that's not how the world of motor sport functions.

"We ask ourselves, particularly in these days, whether it makes sense to be in formula one.

"Up to 90 per cent of everything discussed (in F1) is not about the manufacturers, but about the drivers.

"Much is also talked about the tires, and also the losers are discussed a lot, with pleasure.

"Only every now and then the involved automakers come into play, and not usually in a positive light," Stadler added.

Mika Salo expects 2013 race return for Kovalainen
(GMM)  Former F1 driver Mika Salo is expecting a return to formula one for Finnish countryman Heikki Kovalainen to "snap into place soon".

The highly-rated Kovalainen, ousted by Caterham at the end of last year in favor of sponsored 2014 drivers, is now being linked with the underperforming Dutchman Giedo van der Garde's cockpit.

Told by Sky reporter Ted Kravitz at Silverstone last week that van der Garde is "not doing the business for you", Caterham chief executive Riad Asmat dodged the answer.

"He'll come back next week, for sure," Asmat answered.

Indeed, van der Garde is still occupying the Caterham race seat at the Nurburgring.

But Salo, now a pundit for Finnish television MTV3, thinks Kovalainen is definitely waiting in the wings.

"Heikki's situation with Caterham right now is at an exciting time," he said.

"Things will snap into place soon, and I hope it's Heikki back in a race car.

"Actually I expected it to happen at Silverstone," Salo admitted.

Salo, the former Sauber and Toyota driver, said Kovalainen's mid-season return to F1 in 2013 would be timely.

"If he does get to race (in 2013) then he will be in a strong position for next season," he predicted, "because there are not many experienced drivers available on the market.

"For example, Lotus may have two seats open for next year," added Salo.

FIA moves further to end tire-exploding chaos
(GMM)  With the threat of a drivers' strike in the air at the Nurburgring, the FIA on Friday moved further to ensure there is no repeat of the tire-exploding British grand prix.

Pirelli had complained after Silverstone that teams were swapping rear tires left to right, and running extreme cambers and pressures.

So FIA race director Charlie Whiting on Friday morning issued a statement insisting teams must now follow Pirelli's precise recommendations - including precise minimum pressures and specified camber angles - with immediate effect.

The parameters will be enforced by official scrutineers and stewards.

Mercedes boss Ross Brawn told BBC radio on Friday morning that the drivers' boycott threat is "understandable", as he had even considered pulling Lewis Hamilton and winner Nico Rosberg out of the Silverstone race.

But Pirelli's Paul Hembery also said on Friday morning he was "surprised" by the drivers' position, having clarified the situation in a meeting on Wednesday.

Red Bull's Christian Horner, however, said F1 should "respect" the drivers' stance.

"Who can blame them at the end of the day?" he said on British Sky television.

Despite the image-damaging situation, however, Hembery said Pirelli will not let the tire chaos change its decision to stay in F1 beyond its 2013 contract.

"You don't walk away in difficult times, that's the time to work harder and make sure you do a better job," he is quoted by Reuters.

FIA confirms tire operating restrictions 
Formula 1 governing body the FIA has confirmed a number of restrictions to tire operating procedures for this weekend's German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, following the spate of left-rear blow-outs suffered at Silverstone.

In addition to limits on tire pressures and camber angles, the swapping of left and right-hand side tires has been banned, with Pirelli highlighting these factors, along with high curbs, as reasons for the succession of dramatic failures last time out.

"For safety reasons, we have been asked by Pirelli to ensure that the tires on all cars are run under the conditions listed below," read a statement from FIA race director Charlie Whiting. "It will be the responsibility of each team to satisfy the FIA technical delegate that their cars comply with the following requirements at all times."

The specific changes will see a minimum figure of 16psi for starting tire pressures, 20psi and 19psi respectively for front and rear running pressures, and 4.0° and 2.5° respectively for negative camber angles. These restrictions, along with the ban on tire swapping, will be monitored by FIA officials throughout the Grand Prix weekend.

Tires behave in first practice
There was no sign of the tire blowouts which marred last weekend’s British Grand Prix in first practice in Germany on Friday although Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso had an electrical problem with his car and failed to set a time.

The Grand Prix Drivers’ Association announced on Thursday that they will withdraw from Sunday’s race if the five tire blow-outs from Silverstone occur again but practice was free of incident.

After the intervention of the governing FIA, Pirelli has brought upgraded rear tires to the Nurburgring with an inner belt made of the synthetic fiber Kevlar rather than steel.

The tires are not totally new to the teams as Pirelli offered them for practice in Canada last month but bad weather meant teams used them sparingly in Montreal and did not gather much data.

Alonso: We have to trust it won't be dangerous 
Fernando Alonso is hoping the German Grand Prix this weekend won’t be blighted by the same tire blow-outs that marred the race at Silverstone five days ago.

Alonso was fortunate to finish third at the British GP, suffering a tire failure just as he came into the pits for his first stop, and later narrowly avoiding Sergio Perez’s McLaren, when the Mexican suffered a left rear blow-out in the closing stages.

Looking to the ninth round in the 2013 FIA F1 World Championship, the Ferrari pilot added that they just have to ‘trust’ the changes made by Pirelli to the tires will be effective.

“After what we saw in Silverstone [with the tires], we now go to the Nürburgring, confident we can see an improvement. I know that various modifications have been applied and let’s hope that means all of us drivers can race in safe conditions,” he told Ferrari’s official website.

“At the moment, we can’t make any predictions, because no one has tried them and we don’t know what and how many benefits they can bring, apart from trusting in the fact that it won’t be dangerous to race.”

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