Latest F1 news in brief - Sunday
Crash test situation 'normal' insists McLaren
|McLaren not commenting on Brawn|
- McLaren not commenting on Brawn rumors
- Ruhan stepping up amid Lotus struggles
- GP2 champion's sponsor says F1 system 'sick'
- Ecclestone facing ten years in German prison
- Lauda causes stir with new cap sponsor
- Hungaroring needs money for upgrades - boss
- Todt believes friend Schumacher will recover
- Vettel yet to confirm fatherhood
Crash test situation 'normal' insists McLaren
(GMM) McLaren has played down reports its 2014 car is yet to pass all of the mandatory FIA crash tests.
"It is normal at this time of the year for teams to push to the limit to achieve maximum performance," a source at the Woking based team reportedly told the German news agency DPA.
"It is no different when it comes to the crash tests," he added, insisting the MP4-29 will pass the tests before it makes its track debut.
However, it is not clear if the tests will be passed in time for the first pre-season session at Jerez in just over a week. Eric Boullier said recently he knew as "fact" that Lotus will not be the only team missing in southern Spain.
Spain's El Mundo Deportivo said McLaren has scheduled a new round of crash tests for the forthcoming week.
Lotus also struck trouble with its FIA tests recently, but the Enstone based team announced that the E22 is now fully homologated, even though it will only debut at the second test, in Bahrain.
It is believed an innovative nose design was the reason for the Lotus crash test delay, with Italy's Omnicorse speculating the team will revive a 'walrus'-style solution similar to Williams' memorable 2004 car.
McLaren not commenting on Brawn rumors
(GMM) McLaren has refused to comment on intensifying speculation Ross Brawn could soon be unveiled as the great British team's new boss.
After five years of Martin Whitmarsh's reign culminated in the disastrous 2013 campaign, it emerged last week that supremo Ron Dennis has wrested back control of the team he built to success.
Some think Dennis now wants to return to the pitwall as team principal, but at the age of 66, others believe that is unlikely.
So, it is the newly-departed former Mercedes boss Brawn who is now at the centre of the speculation, even though a McLaren source told the Telegraph the team will "not get involved in commenting" on those rumors.
What is fairly clear is that the Whitmarsh era is over.
"It is possible that Martin Whitmarsh could continue in that (team principal) role, but it probably would be unlikely," former McLaren driver John Watson told Sky.
Meanwhile, another former F1 driver, legend Sir Jackie Stewart, played down suggestions Jenson Button's performance may suffer in 2014, following the death of his father.
John Button was a key member of the McLaren driver's entourage at grands prix, but Stewart insisted: "I think racing drivers probably are tougher than most people.
"Jenson will miss him terribly, but look at all the deaths we had (in F1 in the past), yet for whatever reason we all raced."
Ruhan stepping up amid Lotus struggles
(GMM) Andrew Ruhan is stepping up amid Lotus' financial struggles.
That is the claim of Spain's El Mundo Deportivo newspaper, in the wake of the departure of the Enstone based team's chief executive Patrick Louis.
Replacing Louis is Matthew Carter, who is reportedly close to Ruhan.
Earlier this year, Ruhan bought 2 per cent of the team, and correspondent Raymond Blancafort said the British property developer is now stepping up further as the crucial 'Quantum' team buy-in continues to falter.
GP2 champion's sponsor says F1 system 'sick'
(GMM) Even with millions in backing, new GP2 champion Fabio Leimer has been priced out of formula one.
Until now, the 24-year-old Swiss has been backed by his wealthy sponsor, Rainer Gantenbein.
But Blick newspaper reported last week that the backing has now run dry.
Gantenbein confirmed: "The formula one system is sick."
Neue Zurcher Zeitung newspaper claims that Gantenbein and Leimer's management made serious proposals regarding 2014 with three F1 teams, including the Swiss team Sauber.
"I would be willing to pay a low double-digit million amount, if he (Leimer) is involved," said Gantenbein.
"It is a paradox that success has led Leimer to a dead end."
Leimer's manager Stefan Meier, however, denies that luck has run out completely.
"If it does not work out for this season, we will plan for 2015," he insisted.
Ecclestone facing ten years in German prison
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone is facing the prospect of up to ten years in jail.
F1's embattled chief executive has been removed from the sport's executive board after German prosecutors announced he will face trial in 2014 for alleged corruption.
"The possible maximum penalty is a ten year prison sentence," the major Bild daily declared.
Banker Gerhard Gribkowsky has already been jailed for eight and a half years for accepting Ecclestone's bribe, but according to the judge in that case, the F1 supremo's alleged acts were worse.
Indeed, that judge - Peter Noll - will also preside over the Ecclestone case, and in the Gribkowsky trial he claimed the "driving force" of the corruption "was Mr. Ecclestone".
For now, 83-year-old Briton Ecclestone is typically bullish, but even he admits that jail will definitely end his long reign over formula one.
"I don't think I could operate that well from a German prison -- I hope I don't have to," he told the Express newspaper.
Dr Helmut Marko, a leading figure at the world champion F1 team Red Bull, said he continues to support Ecclestone.
"He must be presumed innocent," the Austrian told Germany's SID news agency.
"Of course these are not easy circumstances, but until there is a judgment, he will remain our partner," Marko added.
Lauda causes stir with new cap sponsor
(GMM) The ever-wily Niki Lauda caused a stir last week when he appeared on the red carpet.
F1's great Austrian was in Hollywood to introduce the award candidature for the movie Rush, the biopic based on the legendary 1976 season.
The Golden Globes footage can be seen here.
Keen-eyed observers will notice that the lettering on Lauda's ever-present red cap has changed since the last race of the 2013 season.
Indeed, the Golden Globes signaled the world debut of his new sponsor.
"You could hardly have a better start than that," the 64-year-old was quoted as saying.
But Welt newspaper reports that, within Lauda's native Austria, the company is a highly controversial gambling giant.
"I think the airplanes and formula one cars have adjusted Mr. Lauda's view of reality," said Peter Pilz, an Austrian parliamentarian.
Lauda is the chairman of Mercedes' F1 team, and yet the German carmaker is renowned today for its approach to ethics.
"The team plays no role in the choice of Niki Lauda's sponsor," Mercedes told Die Welt.
Hungaroring needs money for upgrades - boss
(GMM) The Hungaroring needs an urgent cash injection of more than 3 million euros.
That is the claim of the Budapest track's boss Zsolt Gyulay, despite the fact the F1 circuit renewed its contract to annually host the Hungarian grand prix last year.
But Gyulay told Hungarian television and the state news agency MTI that the Hungaroring needs money immediately in order to comply with its modernization plan, beginning in 2014.
"The Hungaroring was built in 1985, so the modernization can no longer be postponed," he said.
Gyulay said the necessary works are to the electrical and drainage systems, and the quality of the asphalt.
Todt believes friend Schumacher will recover
(GMM) Jean Todt says he is confident Michael Schumacher will recover from his skiing injuries.
The FIA president, who became famously close to the seven time world champion during their days together at Ferrari, is one of only a handful of people who have visited Schumacher in hospital since he fell into coma three weeks ago.
There has been speculation the great 45-year-old German may not recover from his brain injuries, but Frenchman Todt said he is confident he will see his close friend again.
"Michael is a fighter and I know well his energy, his courage and his perseverance," he is quoted in German-language news reports.
"I firmly believe this will make the difference at a time when fate is hesitating," Todt reportedly said in Munich at an awards ceremony.
"It is at this time that all who love him must believe in him," he added.
Vettel yet to confirm fatherhood
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel is yet to confirm reports he is now a father.
We reported earlier this week that the reigning quadruple world champion's partner Hanna gave birth to a baby girl last Sunday.
News of their impending parenthood broke only last December, when Hanna Prater - rarely seen in the F1 paddock - was reportedly eight months pregnant.
The birth of their child in a Swiss hospital caused a stir among his fans, but the famously-private Vettel has neither a Facebook page nor a Twitter profile, and so he could not confirm the news via social media.
And now Bild newspaper reports that the 26-year-old's management declined to confirm or deny the reports about Vettel's fatherhood.
What is clearer is that the Red Bull driver will have a new physical trainer in 2014, after working with Finn Heikki Huovinen in 2012 and 2013.
Before that, Vettel's well-known trainer was Tommi Parmakoski, another Finn.
And Sport Bild reports that Vettel's new trainer is yet another Finn, Antti Kontsas, who formerly worked with Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne, and Red Bull reserve Sebastien Buemi.
All three Finns - Parmakoski, Huovinen and Kontsas - have links to the former McLaren doctor Aki Hintsa, who is close to Vettel.