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Latest F1 news in brief - Saturday
  • Ron Walker with Bernie in Singapore to sign a new Australian GP deal
    Melbourne boss Walker in talks for new F1 deal
  • Lotus owner Lopez slams Raikkonen after salary comments
  • F1 considering ban on helmet livery changes
  • Long-wheelbase Lotus to race from Korea
  • Should Mr. E fear Formula E?
  • Perez's place at McLaren not safe for 2014 New

Melbourne boss Walker in talks for new F1 deal
(GMM)  Melbourne is closing on a new deal to secure the future of the Australian grand prix.

Race boss Ron Walker is in Singapore this weekend, where according to the Herald Sun newspaper he met with Bernie Ecclestone and negotiated the terms for a new contract.

"The deal is pretty much done," said a source, "and will now go to the (state government) cabinet for approval."

The current contract expires in 2015.

"We would support the grand prix - we would like (to keep) the grand prix - but not at any price," said premier Denis Napthine, who won office in March.

Lotus owner Lopez slams Raikkonen after salary comments
(GMM)  Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez has slammed Kimi Raikkonen, after the Finn revealed he is only leaving for Ferrari in 2014 because he has not been paid.

Raikkonen had shocked reporters with his brutal honesty about his unpaid salary on Thursday, but Lopez told the German newspaper Welt that is not the full story.

"He will get his money, as in previous years and as agreed, at the end of the season," Lopez said.

"I am very confused about the timing and content of these statements by Kimi," he added.

Lopez insinuated Raikkonen, who was dropped by Ferrari at the end of 2009 to be replaced by Fernando Alonso, is being ungrateful after Lotus revived his F1 career following his two-year rallying and Nascar sabbatical.

"Unlike with Michael Schumacher and his comeback, he (Raikkonen) had a car that enabled him to win," said Lopez.

"We have done everything to enable him to succeed," he added.

In a separate interview, Lopez said he doubts the money issue alone triggered Raikkonen's decision to leave Lotus.

"If that was the decisive element in him not staying with us, it would surprise me, but it is how it is," he told RTL Letzebuerg.

When also asked about Raikkonen's comments, Lotus boss Eric Boullier defended the team on the basis that the Enstone-based staff and suppliers are prioritized in terms of "cash flow".

"Unfortunately we are not as rich as some other teams on the grid," he said.

But as Raikkonen departs along with a few other well-known names, Blick newspaper reports that twenty more Lotus employees have sent applications to top teams including Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren.

Bild newspaper said some mechanics are also waiting for their pay.  Lopez, however, said Lotus is not on the brink of collapse.

"Most of the team's debt is with me, so the only one who can put Lotus out of business is myself," he insisted.

"As long as I don't do that, the future of the team is secure."

In fact, Boullier said on Friday that Lotus is not considering boosting its coffers by signing a 'pay driver' to replace the departing Raikkonen.

He confirmed that Felipe Massa and Nico Hulkenberg are the frontrunners.  Boullier did not even rule out signing them both, to the detriment of Romain Grosjean.

"In my position, unfortunately, I have to consider every option," the Frenchman told Brazil's Totalrace.

"But Romain has a contract with us and recently he has been matching Kimi.  If he keeps doing that, he has a good future in formula one."

F1 considering ban on helmet livery changes
(GMM)  The days of constantly-changing helmet livery designs in formula one could be coming to an end.

This weekend, world champion Sebastian Vettel - who regularly changes the design of his helmet - is wearing a livery that shines like a disco ball under the Singapore lights.

Even Lewis Hamilton, who usually fields the same Senna-like yellow helmet, is showing off a special white design this weekend.

But the constant chopping-and-changing is set to be stopped by F1's governing body.

Germany's Bild newspaper reports that the F1 technical committee is discussing a ban, so that - as in the past - television and trackside spectators can pick out their favorite driver by reliably spotting his customary helmet design.

Correspondents Frank Schneider and Nicola Pohl report from Singapore that the ban would allow drivers to make only one helmet color change per season.

"If the constantly-new helmets are banned, I think that's good," said triple world champion Niki Lauda, who wore an all-red helmet throughout his career.

"Even I can hardly tell the drivers apart," the great Austrian, now Mercedes' team chairman, admitted.

Long-wheelbase Lotus to race from Korea
Kimi Raikkonen  trialed the new car during practice for the Italian GP but the team elected not to race it because it was not convinced enough about the improvements it had delivered.

However, following analysis of the car at the team's Enstone factory since Monza, Lotus engineers are convinced the new car will deliver a step forward and are now preparing for it to be raced by both Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean from the next race in Korea.

The team decided not to bring it to Singapore because it is upbeat about a decent result this weekend and did not want to compromise its chances by experimenting with a new configuration.

Team principal Eric Boullier told AUTOSPORT: "We should bring it back hopefully for both cars all weekend from Korea - and then even for the rest of the season."

Lotus trackside operations director Alan Permane added that the long-wheelbase car should address deficiencies the team has uncovered in the E21.

"It should give us a more stable car," he told AUTOSPORT. "The main weak point of our car is combined turn-in and braking - and the problem is when we cure it we then have too much mid-corner understeer.

"This [the long wheelbase] should in theory allow us a better window and get us out of that area we're trapped in. It should give us a stable car on braking and turn in, but with a good front end."

Should Mr. E fear Formula E?
As Formula One prepares for a new hybrid era the new Formula E series is going one step beyond with its all-electric racing – so what are the technical specs and how could it affect motorsport’s future?

The dominance of Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One has been challenged in the past but while series like A1GP and Superleague have come and gone this one is very different. This one is all about technology, it already has some big sponsors – including two existing F1 sponsors - and it has the supplier support of McLaren, Williams and Renault.

The concept – a racing series run on electric power alone - is simple but the execution is not so easy and, at times, almost demonstrates the limitations of electric power rather than the benefits, as each one-hour race will have two pit stops not to change tires but to change cars when they run out of juice.

That said, the fact that a performance level equivalent to that of an F3 car can be delivered without a traditional combustion engine shows how far electric vehicles have come.

The decision to race only on street circuits will make the cars look fast, even if they can’t reach F1 levels of performance just yet - but the point is if all goes to plan, one day they could do just that.

The aim (although they deny there is any contest) is to beat F1 to becoming the test bed for cutting edge electric technology.

This time next year, all being well, this plan will begin with season one, a proof of concept that will initially be a single make series.

The powerplant for this is a classic electric motor concept – in simple terms, a bigger version of what you’d find in a Scalextric car, with electromagnets in the stator that spin the rotor to create kinetic energy that powers the rear wheels.

The McLaren-developed powerplant for Formula E will deliver a maximum power of 200kw – equivalent to 260bhp – with full power available for practice and qualifying but a restricted 133kw available for racing, allowing the use of a KERS-like ‘push-to-pass’ system offering full power on the button.

In contrast, the current KERS motor used in F1 delivers just 60kw - equivalent to around 80bhp - useable for 6.7s during a lap. Next year, the more hybrid-focused F1 will have an electric output from the re-named ERS system that can deliver 161bhp for 33 seconds of a lap.

It is the requirement to deliver power for longer in Formula E that puts a challenge on the engineering design as the continuous use puts heavy demands on cooling.

This will be achieved through a water-cooled system, but the organizers say it will still require less cooling than F1’s combustion engines, so will have smaller radiators and smaller sidepods. The powerplant itself is also much smaller and lighter than an F1 engine, with the motor and control unit together weighing just 42kg.

The biggest challenge with these electric motors, however, is that they are very on/off.

That works well for their use in F1 as KERS as it gives a boost of instantaneous acceleration that helps create overtaking opportunities.

For all-electric power, however, controllability is a big challenge, particularly for more powerful electric motors, and McLaren – who has developed the entire electric system - has created a four-speed sequential gearbox design and put it through significant lab testing to achieve a smooth power gradient.

The battery pack is the heavy bit, weighing in at 200kg and heavier than a fully filled F1 fuel tank. It is positioned in the same place as an F1 fuel tank to make it a structural member in what is actually a fairly typical chassis layout.

The most unique aspect of the car is that it is designed specifically for street circuits, with reportedly an incredibly tight turn radius of 7.5m – a smart car manages only 9m and an F1 car is well into double figures – so it can negotiate tight corners and hairpins easily.

The tires are the other revolutionary area, with sole-supplier Michelin getting to do what they wanted to do in F1 and run with 18-inch rims and low profiles – instead of 13-inches with big sidewalls.

This is typical of the series organizers’ approach to development – it resembles products used in road cars and allows Michelin to use the series as a platform to develop road-relevant single-spec grooved tires that deliver good grip in both dry and wet conditions.

And that is the most crucial thing for Formula E – to become a platform for development.

Right now, it’s just a one–make formula but surely a series where the technology used is so new that they had to write their own rules will draw in interested manufacturer eyes when it kicks off.

In year two, it will cease being a one-make series and open its doors to anyone willing to construct a car to its regulations.

And that’s when Formula One will really see if it needs to worry... Yahoo Eurosport

Perez's place at McLaren not safe for 2014
(GMM)  Just because Fernando Alonso has played down the McLaren rumors, it doesn't mean Sergio Perez's place at the British team is now safe.

The Mexican indicated on Thursday that he is yet to actually sign a new deal for 2014.

"The contract is done, we are just finalizing the final dots," he said.

Teammate Jenson Button, however, seems to be in a different situation.

The 2009 world champion told reporters his 2014 deal is completely "done".

Asked if that's right, team boss Martin Whitmarsh told the British broadcaster Sky: "That's accurate."

That leaves a question mark above Perez's name, amid the latest reports that he might be about to replace his current manager, Adrian Fernandez.

"Sergio has a tremendous benchmark in Jenson, who is consistent, a great quality driver, a great team player and who brings a tremendous amount of benefits to our team," Whitmarsh told reporters.

"For a young charger like Sergio, he knows and I know that he has to come in and beat him.  He hasn't done that consistently enough so far this year.

"He is going to give it a good go this weekend I expect," he added in Singapore.

Ferrari's Alonso is apparently out of the running, but McLaren also has two young chargers in its pocket -- Formula Renault 3.5 title challengers Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne.

"They're in the frame," said Whitmarsh, who admitted 2014 might be slightly too soon for the youngsters to leap straight into F1 with McLaren.

"There's no doubt they will come into F1, and openly, we've spoken to a number of formula one teams about them."

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