Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday (Update) UPDATE Update shown in red below.
F1 trio back Ferrari's 'fire and ice' 2014 lineup
|Alonso is the 'fire'|
- Red Bull tire-change lobbying 'unfair' - Force India
- Lauda defends Vettel's 'balls in pool' comment
- Raikkonen to be fit for Korea - trainer
- Wolff: Mercedes will claim title within three years
- F1 Owner CVC In The Race To Buy IMG
- Formula One bosses hit back at plans to increase Friday practice times New
F1 trio back Ferrari's 'fire and ice' 2014 lineup
(GMM) Alain Prost, David Coulthard and even Bernie Ecclestone have played down suggestions Ferrari's 2014 driver lineup will blow up in the Italian giant's face.
Many raised their eyebrows at the Maranello based team's decision to pair the fiery Latin 'number 1' Fernando Alonso with the cool but often controversial Finn Kimi Raikkonen, who was Ferrari's last world champion in 2007.
An all-star lineup like that blew up spectacularly at McLaren in the late 90s, when Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost went to war as teammates.
"Everybody thinks about the reality between me and Senna but it has also worked well," Frenchman Prost, comparing the legendary McLaren pairing with the prospect of Alonso-Raikkonen, is quoted by the Mirror.
"It worked very well for the team, we really put the team on top. It is going to be more difficult but it can work," he insisted.
David Coulthard, the former McLaren and Red Bull driver, agrees that Ferrari's decision is not as crazy as some assume.
"It does make sense," he told the German newsmagazine Focus.
"Ferrari had a lot of patience for Felipe Massa but the management also knows it needs the strongest possible driver pair to finally compete again for the titles."
But the fiery Alonso and the impolite Raikkonen? Could that really work?
"Ferrari knows Raikkonen," said Coulthard, "and knows what it's getting with him.
"He's uncomplicated and apolitical.
"And Alonso is also over 30 (years old) these days and mature enough to understand how they need to work together to get the best out of Ferrari.
"They will leave their battles on the track -- as it should be," said the retired Scot.
F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone is yet another significant paddock voice who thinks Ferrari's 2014 pairing could be inspired.
"Kimi has enough common sense to avoid quarrelling," he is quoted by Italy's Autosprint.
And while Alonso "has this reputation of being a troublemaker", Ecclestone acknowledged, "I don't think it's justified".
Red Bull tire-change lobbying 'unfair' - Force India
(GMM) Force India has hit out at the mid-season tire specification change that, according to technical director Andy Green, was a terminal setback for the Silverstone based team.
And, as Ferrari now turns its full attention to the 2014 challenge, the Italian team has also lamented the move from the original steel-belted 2013 Pirelli tires to last year's Kevlar specification.
The move was ostensibly made on safety grounds, but Ferrari and Force India argue that it hurt their performance badly.
"We started the season in a good way," said Fernando Alonso. "We won in China, we won in Spain and then we seemed to lose a bit of the performance, especially when the 2012 Pirelli tires came back.
"That was probably the point in the championship (where) we said 'bye-bye'," the Spaniard revealed.
Force India's is a similar story, but perhaps even more dramatic.
"Initially the others couldn't do what Ferrari and us were able to," technical boss Green told Auto Motor und Sport.
"But Red Bull and Mercedes did a really good job of lobbying. That's just unfair.
"They had the same opportunity as we did to build a car for the 2013 tires -- if they didn't do a good job, that's their problem. But they were rewarded for it instead," he insisted.
The change from steel to Kevlar internals may seen academic, but it had a big impact on aerodynamics, Green explained.
"It gave us bad oversteer in fast corners," he said.
"The aerodynamics at the rear of the car no longer worked because the tire deformed less."
Green said Force India then "stopped developing the car and could only react" to the problem "with different ride heights and suspension settings".
Lauda defends Vettel's 'balls in pool' comment
(GMM) Another F1 figure has defended Sebastian Vettel, after the reigning world champion made a crass observation about his rivals.
After getting booed on the podium yet again in Singapore, the Red Bull driver surmised that the detractors are "jealous", and implied that his rivals are not beating him because they are lazy.
"Whilst there's a lot of people hanging their balls in the pool very early on Fridays, we're still here working very hard and pushing very hard," Vettel had said.
His boss, Dr Helmut Marko, said Vettel's comment was "great and pithy, and anyway it's true".
"Seb wants to keep the workload just as high in the team as it has been," said the Austrian.
But even a rival team figure has defended Vettel's crass comment.
"I liked what he said," triple world champion and F1 legend Niki Lauda told Bild newspaper.
"Plain speaking is always good, even if I think that we work just as hard at Mercedes.
"But there is some truth to it; Vettel has a huge ambition and it rubs off on his team," he added.
Lauda also weighed into the debate about Vettel's unpopularity among the fans, recalling that he was also booed during his successful F1 career.
"I was booed brutally in 1977 at Hockenheim," he said, "because the fans saw me as the gravedigger of the Nurburgring because of my accident the year before.
"The fans were outraged even though I couldn't do anything about it (the Nurburgring's fate)," Lauda explained. "But they whistled like crazy anyway."
However, he said the crowd often has a very short memory.
"Then I won the race for Ferrari," said Lauda, "and those who previously booed were cheering just as loudly."
Raikkonen to be fit for Korea - trainer
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen's trainer has played down rumors the Finn could sit out next weekend's Korean grand prix.
The Lotus driver struggled with pain throughout the recent Singapore weekend, and it emerged afterwards that Raikkonen is suffering an injury where a rib meets his spine.
Subsequently, rumors emerged that the 2007 world champion will have to undergo surgery.
But Raikkonen's trainer Mark Arnall told the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat: "Kimi will be back in full running order next week in Korea."
Wolff: Mercedes will claim title within three years
Mercedes Executive Director Toto Wolff has said that he wants the Brackley-based squad to have secured the Formula 1 Constructor’s Championship in three years time, and would regard any other outcome as a personal failure.
The German marque has invested heavily in its Formula 1 operations ahead of the 2014 season, as it seeks to capitalize on the major regulation upheavals. With the Silver Arrows having recruited an array of technical talent to work alongside Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, Wolff knows that expectations will be high at the company’s Stuttgart headquarters.
When asked by Sport Bild where he sees himself in three years' time, the Austrian said: "Then I will have justified the advance praise and be a serious candidate for the World Championship title with Mercedes," before quickly correcting himself: "No, actually I want to have the title already in the bag within three years."
Wolff also commented on Ferrari’s signing of Kimi Räikkönen for next season, and insisted that his team’s driver pairing is more likely to be successful.
"I think we still have the strongest driver pairing," he said. "Because both of our drivers know that they deal fairly with each other despite their many differences and with all the competition that comes with being team-mates.
"I don’t believe that the situation at Ferrari will be as harmonious as ours."
F1 Owner CVC In The Race To Buy IMG
Back in June it was first reported that F1 Group co-owner CVC Capital was interested in bidding for IMG, the long established sports management and media group.
Last week more details emerged, with the UK’s Sky TV linking CVC to a consortium that includes Bahrain’s Mumtalakat (a shareholder in McLaren) and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (backer of the country’s Grand Prix). They are reportedly aiming for a 60/20/20 ownership split.
IMG is a successful and multifaceted business, and is obviously of interest to CVC in its own right. However the fact that other F1 related entities are involved in the bid raises the tantalizing prospect of IMG becoming involved with CVC’s highest profile investment. Indeed a well placed source told this writer in Singapore that IMG “could be the future of F1.”
In other words while we have been speculating for years about which individual might one day replace Bernie Ecclestone, we should now consider that a corporate entity in the form of IMG is being prepared for the role.
One of IMG’s key strengths is in media rights, and its website claims that it is “the world’s largest independent distributor of sports programming,” and that it “distributes across all forms of media, including TV, audio, fixed media, inflight and closed circuit, broadband and mobile.” The latter two categories would seem to be ripe for exploitation by F1.
IMG has been on the fringes of F1 for decades, since Jackie Stewart first teamed up with company founder Mark McCormack in the sixties. Later the company managed other top drivers, including Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna, and most recently Heikki Kovalainen, although the Finn jumped ship earlier this year.
However, it’s long been the paddock consensus that Ecclestone is no great fan of IMG, and compared to other sports, the company’s involvement at the top level of motor racing has been relatively limited. Will that now change?
Other major bidders are also in the hunt, so there’s a chance that CVC will lose out. But if it does win it will be fascinating to see if its plans for IMG really do unfold as suggested above.
Formula One bosses hit back at plans to increase Friday practice times
Formula One chiefs have rubbished plans by the sport's governing body to extend Friday practice sessions in a bid to give rookie drivers more time behind the wheel.
The World Motor Sport Council is set to announce a half an hour extension of Friday track times from 90 minutes to two hours from the start of 2014.
It is hoped that the teams will use the extra track time to blood young drivers, but bosses of some of the leading outfits in the sport insist they have no intention of replacing their star drivers during precious practice times ahead of races.
"From McLaren's perspective it's not something we'd necessarily want to do," said boss Martin Whitmarsh. "I can understand the view of some in that it's very difficult for young drivers, there's very little testing and it's a way of encouraging them.
"Unless the regulations require you to have a young driver, or whatever the definition, probably none of the big teams would do it.
"From our perspective we'd go to work thinking how we can use that half an hour to do aerodynamic testing.
"Ultimately we would not be doing performance testing in terms of lap time, set-up, we'd be doing a whole range of component changes and just data logging on the straights.
"So it probably wouldn't have the desired effect, although you'd have to look at the precise detail of what they define. As is often the case, quick ideas in Formula One have unintended consequences.
"The teams figure it out for themselves how to exploit it to their best advantage, which is not necessarily aligned with the original intention of such an idea, so I think you'd have to think about it carefully."
"For us, we'll still stick with the race drivers," agreed Mercedes boss Ross Brawn, who's team were punished for conducting an unsanctioned tire test earlier in the summer. "It's not something we would consider because we need all the time in the car with our two race drivers." Mirror Online