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Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday (Update) UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

  • On track for 4th straight title
    Mandatory pitlane helmets 'crazy' - Lauda
  • FIA test rules a blow for Mercedes, Ferrari
  • Teams at loggerheads over next tire change
  • Vettel 'clearly' on track for fourth title - Lauda
  • Ecclestone says no to Sauber bailout
  • Lotus admits Grosjean's 2014 seat not secure
  • Damon Hill's son quits motor racing
  • Zylon visor saved Chilton in Germany - report
  • Organizer sure Ecclestone to honor Monza contract
  • Allison move 'brilliant' for Ferrari - Anderson
  • McLaren: We've learned from our mistake
  • Lotus confirms 'plenty' of new parts on way New
  • Alonso not tiring of life at Ferrari New
  • BBC issues apology after Hamilton spoiler New

Mandatory pitlane helmets 'crazy' - Lauda
(GMM)  Niki Lauda thinks F1's governing body should stop short of overreacting in the wake of the Nurburgring pitlane incident.

The FIA has reacted immediately to the hospitalization of FOM cameraman Paul Allen, who was struck by Mark Webber's bouncing wheel during the German grand prix.

Bernie Ecclestone has reacted by banning his camera crews from the pitlane, while the FIA said only "event marshals and team personnel" are now allowed in the pitlane during qualifying and the races.

"Access for approved media will be confined to the pitwall," the FIA said.

The Paris-based federation also wants to fast-track scheduled changes to the 2014 regulations so that the rules are imposed immediately.

They include the requirement for "all team personnel" during pitstops to wear helmets, and the reduction of the pitlane speed limit from 100 to 80kph.

McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh backed the safety push, admitting F1 had "become a little bit complacent".

But triple world champion Lauda said a rule requiring everyone in the pitlane to be wearing a helmet would be "crazy".

"I'm all for safety," he told Osterreich, "but that would be an overreaction."

FIA test rules a blow for Mercedes, Ferrari
(GMM)  The FIA has bad news for Mercedes and Ferrari this week.

Earlier, it was suggested next week's young driver test at Silverstone might be extended by a day, becoming a four-day affair.

That may have opened up the test to Mercedes, who were only banned from the 'three-day' Silverstone test as a penalty for the test-gate scandal.

But even though the FIA has confirmed Silverstone will remain only a three day test, behind the scenes it is rumored the German team continues to push for at least one day, on safety grounds.

"It cannot be," director Toto Wolff is quoted by Speed Week, "that we have to go to the Hungaroring with a tire we do not know."

Lewis Hamilton thinks the ban, especially after the test was opened up to race drivers and car development, is not fair on Mercedes.

"People don't appreciate how big a negative it is for us not to do the test," said the 2008 world champion.

"We shouldn't be in this position in sport, but that's the way it is," added Hamilton.

Team chairman Niki Lauda, however, said Mercedes will have to accept the situation.

"We will do everything we can to have a car in Hungary that can cope with these tires," he told Osterreich newspaper, "even without testing."

The blow for Ferrari, meanwhile, is that the Italian team was set to count on the services at Silverstone of lead driver Fernando Alonso, who earlier ruled out appearing just to test tires.

But the FIA announced on Tuesday that race drivers can only test next week "provided the purpose of them doing this is to test tires for Pirelli".

The governing body will have an observer on site "to ensure" that changes made to the cars whilst the race drivers are at the wheel "are exclusively related to the tire tests".

Asked if Alonso will still be attending, team boss Stefano Domenicali told Marca: "Right now we do not know as it depends upon the program that we can do there".

Teams at loggerheads over next tire change
(GMM)  A new row is brewing in F1, as teams contemplate the next change to the specification of Pirelli's 2013 tires.

After the tire-exploding British grand prix, F1's official supplier rushed into service the new Kevlar-belted rear tire in Germany.

And Pirelli did intend to debut an all-new tire for Hungary and beyond, combining the 2012 tire construction with the 2013 compounds.

But world champion Sebastian Vettel hinted after winning at the Nurburgring that the tire teams will actually race in Hungary is yet to be completely decided.

Lotus, competitive with the Nurburgring-spec tire, is happy to keep things as they are.

"This was a great race," team owner Gerard Lopez told Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper, "showing that the tires performed much the same as in the first third of the season.

"If the tires change radically, it really affects the credibility of the sport.  At least now, no one can argue that these tires are unsafe," he added.

Force India, on the other hand, had no problem with the original Pirelli tire, but struggled markedly in Germany with the Kevlar construction and the new rules banning rear tire-swapping.

And now, the Silverstone based team is dreading the switch to the 2012 tires.

"If we return to the old carcass," said sporting director Otmar Szafnauer, we lose our entire advantage about how we use the tires this year.

"We designed our car specifically for the 2013 tire specification."

He told Auto Motor und Sport that Force India was the first team in 2013 to discover the old trick of rear tire swapping, complaining that other teams triggered the ban by combining the practice with running extreme pressures and cambers.

"We never ran with low pressure or too much camber," Szafnauer rued.

Now, Force India is hurriedly tweaking its car to see how it works with the 2012 tires, which will be tested for the first time at Silverstone next week.

"I am afraid that these tires will mess up everything," said Szafnauer.

Vettel 'clearly' on track for fourth title - Lauda
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel is "clearly" on track to win a fourth consecutive world championship.

That is the admission of Mercedes' team chairman Niki Lauda, who said he always expected Red Bull's reigning title winner to pull away in 2013.

"Vettel and Red Bull are the best package in formula one," he told Osterreich newspaper.

"Sebastian isn't the winner yet, but he is clearly on course."

Indeed, Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton conceded after the Nurburgring that he isn't going to be able to challenge Vettel this year.

"We didn't manage to get the tires in the correct temperature window, because of the high track temperatures we saw in the race," said Lauda.

"It was the usual problems that almost every team has had this year."

However, Lauda said Mercedes has taken a big step forward compared to last season, and is "now the second force behind Red Bull".

As for Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, Lauda added: "He has the same problem as us.

"As we know Fernando, he has not given up, but the season is being determined unfortunately by the tire issue."

Ecclestone says no to Sauber bailout
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has ruled out intervening directly to help the embattled Sauber team survive.

In the not-too-distant past, the F1 'supremo' has been known for bailing out struggling teams.

But amid reports the Swiss team Sauber is now struggling to survive, Ecclestone said: "We have agreements that require us to treat all the teams equally."

The 82-year-old told Swiss broadcaster SRF that "one solution" for the Hinwil based team would be to sell up.

"They're a good team," said Ecclestone, "and I'm sure there is more than one possible buyer.

"I don't want to imagine F1 without Sauber.  Ideally, they will find new sponsors in the long term, but even companies who are willing to support them in the short term would be fine," the F1 chief executive added.

"The team deserves to be helped," said Ecclestone.

"I don't know exactly what their financial situation is, but I know it's not as good as it should be."

And he said Sauber might not be the only team in trouble.

"There are others," said the Briton, "that are spending more money than they have."

Lotus admits Grosjean's 2014 seat not secure
(GMM)  Lotus could enter the 2014 season with an all-new driver lineup.

It is already known that Nico Hulkenberg is the leading candidate to join the Enstone based team next year, should lead driver Kimi Raikkonen switch to Red Bull.

Team owner Gerard Lopez, however, thinks the 2007 world champion will stay.

"We know that Red Bull is replacing the second driver next year, but I think Kimi is no second driver," he told Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat.

One problem for Lotus could be money, with boss Eric Boullier admitting the team fell behind in paying Raikkonen recently.

"It (Raikkonen's salary) was paid late, yes," he told the BBC.

"But it has been paid.  We have to if we want to keep him."

Even so, more than one driver is being linked with Lotus for 2014, including Williams' Pastor Maldonado and Force India's Paul di Resta.

"Yes, I know the rumors," Lopez said.  "Lotus is a fascinating team, Kimi has not decided what to do, and maybe we will have a place open with (Romain) Grosjean's agreement running out.

"Romain has driven well but no one can know at this point whether we will have one place open, or two, or none at all," he insisted.

Boullier also admitted that both Raikkonen and Frenchman Grosjean could depart.

"A lot of drivers are talking to us," he told F1's official website, "so should the 'white sheet' situation occur I have a plan B but I will not share that now."

Damon Hill's son quits motor racing
(GMM)  Josh Hill, who earlier wanted to be F1's first ever third-generation champion, has quit motor racing.

The 22-year-old is the son of 1996 world champion Damon Hill, whose own father was the legendary double title winner Graham.

Josh Hill was also wearing the London rowing club colors on his helmet in European formula 3 this year, but he announced on Tuesday that he is quitting with immediate effect.

"I do not want to compete unless I am 100 per cent devoted," part of the statement read.

Former Williams driver Damon Hill admitted he accepted his son's decision "with some sadness", but "he has my total support as always".

Zylon visor saved Chilton in Germany - report
(GMM)  Max Chilton can thank the FIA's latest safety standards after returning home uninjured from the German grand prix.

That is the claim of the German-language Speed Week, who reported that F1 race director Charlie Whiting took possession of the Marussia rookie's damaged Arai helmet after the weekend's action at the Nurburgring.

It is reported that, following a marshal's death in Canada and the injuries to the FOM cameraman in Germany, Chilton was lucky to escape without an injury last weekend.

Whiting will reportedly send the British driver's helmet to be analyzed by the FIA Institute, after debris flicked up by another car - probably a pebble - struck the new bullet-proof Zylon strip that runs above the drivers' visor.

The damage can be seen here.

The Zylon strip was introduced following the near-fatal injuries to Felipe Massa in 2009, when the Brazilian was struck on the face with a spring in Hungary.

Organizer sure Ecclestone to honor Monza contract
(GMM)  Monza official Federico Bendinelli insists he is not worried Bernie Ecclestone might be preparing to axe F1's historic Italian grand prix.

The F1 chief executive warned recently that even key European races might be dropped to make room on the calendar for more "emerging markets".

But he is reported to have alleviated Monza's fears during the recent World Motor Sport Council meeting in Goodwood.

And Bendinelli, a key organizer of Monza's annual formula one race, insists he is not worried.

"I have known Bernie for 30 years," he is quoted by Speed Week, "and his comments are often controversial.  You've always got to expect something explosive.

"I only know that he abides by contracts, always, and ours runs up to and including 2016.

"I'm also not worried in any major way about the future, as we are already in negotiations to extend the contract."

Allison move 'brilliant' for Ferrari - Anderson
(GMM)  Gary Anderson, a veteran formula one engineer, thinks James Allison is the right man to join Ferrari.

Amid speculation Lotus' now-departed technical director will shortly re-surface at Maranello, team boss Stefano Domenicali insisted at the Nurburgring that "I will not make a comment".

Anderson, however - now a technical expert for the BBC as well as the German-language Speed Week - thinks signing Briton Allison, 45, is right for Ferrari.

"That would be a brilliant move," Anderson, the former designer of F1 cars for Jordan and Jaguar, told Speed Week.

"I've always said that Ferrari is lacking not resources, but a man of vision.  And James is such a man."

McLaren: We've learned from our mistake 
McLaren hopes the decision to switch its technical focus to next year's challenger will pay dividends in 2014.

The Woking-based outfit has admitted to making mistakes with its current car, which has led to a highly disappointing season so far due to the MP4-28's lack of current pace.

They appear to have written off any chance of a dramatic improvement this season, choosing instead to focus on next year and diverting their resources in the hope of gaining an advantage over their rivals, who will still be largely focused on their current machinery.

Asked by Autosport if he was confident that the team had pinpointed what went wrong this year and would be able to correct the mistakes in 2014, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said: "Yes I am. Often you learn more from mistakes.

"So in terms of the motivation of the team, the focus of the team and the learning it has been good."

Whitmarsh admitted that the decision to abandon the 2013 car was not an easy one, but was confident the pragmatic decision would pay off in the long term.

"I can't remember us having the luxury of being able to choose, because a weakness of ours is we fight to win both championships and races," he added.

"It is difficult to wrench yourself away from that.

"By looking for a positive out of this, it is sobering and it has been a kick up the pants."

Whitmarsh still hopes that more speed can still be unlocked from the current car as they continue to play catch-up with their rivals.

"We are disappointed in this year's car and we rightly should be because ultimately it is relevant performance [compared to rival teams] that counts," he said.

"In absolute performance we are quicker than last year, it is just we put ourselves back.

"We are about six months behind the others in terms of developments, and I think that was a fairly well documented mistake we made as a team."

Lotus confirms 'plenty' of new parts on way 
Lotus trackside operations director Alan Permane has said the Enstone-based outfit will have ‘plenty’ of ‘interesting new parts’ to test at Silverstone next week.

Lotus took a 2-3 finish at the German Grand Prix last weekend, with Kimi Raikkonen challenging Sebastian Vettel in the closing stages and eventually finishing just one second back.

The squad will now be out to maintain that form after a disappointing few races in Britain, Canada and Monaco.

“We’re very happy to be back on the podium again after a short spell of somewhat bleak races,” Permane told Lotus’ official team website. “Both cars ran faultlessly from start to finish and for a good portion of the race it did look like we would be able to take the fight to Sebastian, but ultimately we didn’t quite manage it.

“The win may have eluded us, but to have both drivers pick up silverware and also outscore our rivals in the Constructor’s Championship means we can’t be too disappointed.”

“We’ve now got the Silverstone test to prepare for – with plenty of interesting new parts on the way for assessment – so there’s actually not much in the way of rest before we head to Hungary,” he added, “but we’ll be looking to head into the shutdown on the back of another good result to give everyone a satisfying and well-earned break.”

As for what cost Raikkonen the win at the Nürburgring, Permane felt the time lost early on was crucial.

“The damage was done when Kimi was held up by Lewis after his first pit stop [on lap 8], but he came back fighting at the end of the race to finish a very close second with a little help from the safety car. We did consider running him on a two-stop strategy, but it would have meant an incredibly long final stint and ultimately represented a sizeable risk, as we could see the tire performance dropping.

“The path we chose guaranteed second place with the possibility of a late charge for the win, while the alternative – despite also offering the potential for victory – would have very likely resulted in the tires falling off a cliff and dropping Kimi behind Fernando [Alonso].

“To be honest we did expect slightly more performance from his final set of soft tires, but he was right with Sebastian at the end so I think the right call was made,” Permane concluded.

Alonso not tiring of life at Ferrari
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso has given a short life to speculation he might soon tire of failing to win titles with Ferrari.

Former F1 driver David Coulthard said he sensed the Spaniard, who turns 32 later this month, was becoming frustrated with Ferrari's flagging form last time out at the Nurburgring.

"It's a long time since Alonso won a world championship," BBC commentator Coulthard said, "and that's not because he's not putting in world championship level performances.

"If this continues for that much longer, you have to wonder how much longer Alonso can stay at Ferrari."

Alonso, however, is quoted by Wednesday's latest edition of German magazine Sport Bild as saying he remains fully committed to his long-term Ferrari contract -- and perhaps even beyond that.

"I have no idea how long I'll be in formula one," he said, "but if I renew (the contract beyond 2016), then it will be with Ferrari."

Indeed, while keen to add a third title to his tally, Alonso suggested that just as important to him is how he is perceived -- as perhaps F1's best driver.

"I am satisfied with myself and with my performance," he agreed.

"When I won my two titles, I felt the recognition of being regarded seriously as a good driver.

"Today I am seen as one of the best drivers, although I have not won another title since then," added Alonso.

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh would agree with Alonso, comparing him with F1's reigning triple world champion Sebastian Vettel, who looks set to win a fourth consecutive title in 2013.

The German "is an impressive driver", Whitmarsh admitted.

"But he will never get the recognition he deserves, as long as he drives for Red Bull."

Boss Christian Horner dismissed that view as "bullsh*t", but Alonso insisted: "Yes, every great champion should drive for Ferrari if he has the opportunity."

He said the Maranello marque is "more than a formula one team".

"F1 without Ferrari is inconceivable, but that doesn't apply to other teams that come and go.

"Some auto makers come in and then go out again," said Alonso.  "The same for some private teams and energy drink manufacturers."

Alonso's last comment is a direct jibe at Red Bull, and indeed he said he would welcome Vettel as his teammate in red, and Adrian Newey as the designer of his Ferrari.

"I want to work with the best people," said the 31-year-old, "so if I said I didn't want Newey on the team, I'd be lying."

BBC issues apology after Hamilton spoiler
The BBC has issued an apology after viewers complained the results of qualifying for the German Grand Prix were revealed before the Corporation had screened its own highlights program. The gaff occurred during the BBC’s coverage of Wimbledon as part of a promotion for the race the following day. In total 713 people lodged complaints.

“The reference to Lewis Hamilton having secured pole position in the Formula One German Grand Prix Qualifying earlier that day was an unfortunate error made by the Wimbledon production team,” read a statement from the BBC.

“The intention was to promote BBC1’s coverage of the German Grand Prix final the following day but, in doing so, the team failed to realize that at that point BBC1’s highlights of the qualifying had yet to be broadcast. We apologize for this error and that it affected some viewers’ enjoyment of our qualifying highlights program.

“BBC Sport have reminded their teams of the importance of checking transmission schedules before such promotions.”

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