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Latest F1 news in brief - Friday
  • Ecclestone troubles 'not good for F1' - Kaltenborn
  • Caterham - no regrets over 2014 driver choice
  • Ricciardo 'ready' for Red Bull despite audition mishap
  • Maldonado plays down Lotus switch rumors
  • Mercedes backs Wolff amid Kolles comments saga

Ecclestone troubles 'not good for F1' - Kaltenborn
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone insists CVC, the owners of formula one's commercial rights, are "very happy" to keep him in charge of the sport.

That is despite the fact the 82-year-old has been formally charged with bribery by prosecutors in Germany, who allege he blackmailed the now-jailed banker Gerhard Gribkowsky to undersell the rights to CVC.

After news of Ecclestone's indictment broke, CVC issued a terse statement saying it will "monitor" the situation.

"An oath of loyalty sounds different," the major German newspaper Die Welt surmised.

Michael Schmidt, of Auto Motor und Sport, agreed: "It (CVC's statement) does not sound like unconditional support."

Additionally, FIA president Jean Todt is quoted as saying: "He (Ecclestone) is employed by CVC, so it's their decision.

"The responsibility for the future of formula one is more about CVC than about Bernie," he is also quoted as saying by Neue Zurcher Zeitung.

Also monitoring the situation is BayernLB, the Munich bank that Gribkowsky was representing when Ecclestone allegedly bribed him.

A spokesman for the bank said: "We are following events closely."

In the meantime, Ecclestone's troubles are the big talking point behind closed doors in F1 circles.

Bild newspaper correspondent Helmut Uhl wrote: "Team bosses, sponsors, big companies such as Ferrari, Red Bull and their partners are wondering: is Ecclestone still viable as formula one boss?"

The Daily Telegraph's Tom Cary said: "In most sports it would be difficult to imagine a chief executive remaining in power with these sorts of charges swirling about.

"But formula one is not most sports -- and Ecclestone is not most men."

Indeed, Ecclestone insists he has CVC's backing.

"I have heard from them and they are very happy as I am for me to continue to run the business," he is quoted by the Daily Express correspondent Bob McKenzie.

"Nothing has changed. Nothing affects how I look after the best interests of F1.  No one has said anything to the contrary," added Ecclestone.

For now, F1's competing teams are quiet, but the first comment has been made by Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn, according to Neue Zurcher Zeitung newspaper.

"In general," she said, "such headlines are not good for formula one."

Caterham - no regrets over 2014 driver choice
(GMM)  Caterham will assess whether it made the right driver choices for 2014 at the end of the season, boss Cyril Abiteboul has admitted.

Rumors are doing the rounds that Caterham regrets ousting the experienced Finn Heikki Kovalainen in favor of so-called 'pay drivers'.

The rumors add that Kovalainen could soon replace the Dutch rookie Giedo van der Garde, even in 2013.

But van der Garde insists he has a "watertight" contract for the whole year, adding on Wednesday: "I will finish the season."

Team boss Abiteboul seems to agree.

"I do not regret choosing two young drivers," he told the Dutch magazine Formule1.

"At the end of the season it will show whether we have done well, but they have not disappointed me.

"Maybe a little more experience would have done us no harm, but on the other hand a better car would also have helped them.  The knife cuts both ways," added Abiteboul.

Ricciardo 'ready' for Red Bull despite audition mishap
(GMM)  At the end of a day billed by some as his audition for a Red Bull seat, Daniel Ricciardo topped the times at the Silverstone test.

But the Australian's best time was actually at the wheel of his usual Toro Rosso, while in the championship-leading RB9 he was slightly slower.

The 23-year-old, competing against Kimi Raikkonen for the departing Mark Webber's 2014 drive, also beached the Red Bull in the gravel at one point.

"The off was my mistake," Ricciardo said afterwards.  "Probably just pushing a bit too hard."

Asked if the pressure of the speculation had got to him, he insisted: "No, it's fun, it's exciting.

"I didn't take this day as a duel with Kimi," he insisted.  "But I enjoyed it.

"I think this test is something for Red Bull to look at, but there's still the rest of the season with Toro Rosso to do, so I'll switch my focus back to that and won't get too caught up in any rumors," Ricciardo added.

"Whatever happens, happens.  If I don't get the chance, at least this was a nice little bonus.

"If the decision was up to me, I'm ready," he is quoted by Italy's Autosprint.

His potential 2014 teammate Sebastian Vettel will be in the same car on Friday, and Ricciardo confirmed he will be "watching the times" with interest.

"I hope he won't make me look silly," he laughed.

It is expected that, should Ricciardo be called up to replace Webber, Toro Rosso will fill his spot at the Faenza based team next year with 21-year-old Portuguese driver Antonio Felix da Costa.

Da Costa also tested for Red Bull on Thursday, and said afterwards: "I got out of the car and said 'I'm ready, I want that'."

Maldonado plays down Lotus switch rumors
(GMM)  Pastor Maldonado has once again dismissed persistent speculation he might move from struggling Williams to Lotus for the 2014 season.

It has been rumored the Venezuelan, whose major backers PDVSA have sponsored Williams since his F1 debut in 2011, is a leading contender to replace Kimi Raikkonen should the Finn move to Red Bull next year.

Speed Week quoted the 28-year-old as initially dismissing the speculation on Thursday, insisting: "I have other problems to think about than next year.

"We need to be competitive again, and that's all that matters right now."

Speed Week claims there are two details that speak against a move to the more-competitive Lotus for Maldonado.

The first is that the PDVSA deal is actually between the Venezuelan oil giant and Williams, rather than between Maldonado and PDVSA.

And the second hurdle is that Lotus is substantially backed by Total, a French oil company that would not share space on the 2014 livery with PDVSA.

Maldonado said: "I will continue here (Williams).

"Especially since the fabulous news that Pat Symonds is coming.  His achievements speak for themselves.

"You'll see, soon Williams will be back (competitive) again."

Maldonado was at the Silverstone test to try Pirelli's new Hungary-spec tires, but he sounded critical of the limits put on race drivers this week.

"We couldn't change anything on the car.  Nothing," he told Brazil's Agencia Estado.

"Will the new tires help me go back to my old driving style?  I hope so, but we don't know.

"Honestly, we have bigger problems (than tires) with this car."

Mercedes backs Wolff amid Kolles comments saga
(GMM)  Mercedes has thrown its "full confidence" behind Toto Wolff, following reports he made disparaging remarks about his colleagues and bosses.

The German magazine Sport Bild this week claimed Wolff, Mercedes' new F1 co-owner and motor sport director, spoke negatively about Dieter Zetsche, Ross Brawn and Niki Lauda during a conversation in February with former HRT boss Colin Kolles.

Mercedes initially declined to comment.

But parent Daimler's head of global communications Jorg Howe has now been quoted as saying: "He (Wolff) has our full confidence and will continue his successful work.

"We know that formula one is a shark tank," Howe told Germany's Sport1.  "If you are successful, you will be pelted with mud."

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