Latest F1 news in brief - Friday
India GP wants meeting to pursue 2015 return
|Mallya (left) reportedly alluding police|
- Dennis vows to restore McLaren 'focus'
- New era 'completely overshadows' drivers - Alesi
- Long Beach postpones F1 decision
- Bianchi 'mugged while smoking cigarette'
- Concorde Agreement era is over - Ecclestone
- Paddock to celebrate 'popular' Williams revival
- Wife Fabiana 'wants a baby' - Ecclestone
- Police unable to find Mallya for a year
- Alonso: A lot to test on Friday in Melbourne
- Dennis says Lewis Hamilton could return to McLaren
India GP wants meeting to pursue 2015 return
|India GP wants back in|
(GMM) The promoter of the Indian grand prix has vowed to meet with Bernie Ecclestone and try to get the New Delhi race back on the 2015 calendar.
Following the sport's gripes with the Indian tax situation since the inaugural race in 2011, F1 chief executive Ecclestone said this week he does not plan to reschedule the race - which will also not take place this year - for 2015.
"At the moment, India won't be on for next year for sure," Ecclestone said. "Probably 2016."
Sameer Gaur, boss of the race's non-governmental promoters Jaypee, said that in the wake of Ecclestone's comments, he will arrange a meeting with the 83-year-old.
"I will soon set up a meeting with Mr. Ecclestone and talk to him directly over the matter," he told the Hindustan Times.
"As I have said earlier, I would want the race to return next year but let us see what comes out of the meeting with Mr. Ecclestone."
The main issue for F1 in India is that the government has not officially recognized grand prix racing as a sport.
The sanctioning body Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) is pushing hard for a change.
"It's unfortunate but once the government gives the recognition I am very hopeful that Mr. Ecclestone's concerns will be satisfied," said FMSCI chairman Akbar Ebrahim.
Dennis vows to restore McLaren 'focus'
(GMM) Ron Dennis is unapologetic as he vows to take McLaren back on the road to winning.
With the great British team just fifth overall in 2013, 66-year-old supremo Dennis wrestled back control from Martin Whitmarsh and trotted out the old line about even second place being "the first of the losers".
"Of course, I have a lot of respect for the people in our team but they were distracted, not focused enough," he told reporters.
Some believe Whitmarsh, who it is believed is not speaking to the media while his payout is negotiated, was regarded as 'too nice' to effectively run a F1 team.
"Martin is a friend," Dennis insisted. "We did not fall out. Some decisions you take in life are not that easy, and I will not elaborate."
What Dennis has found in Whitmarsh's wake, however, is the loss of Lewis Hamilton and title sponsor Vodafone, and Whitmarsh's new management pick, Eric Boullier.
Dennis insisted, however, that he separately also approached Frenchman Boullier, the former Lotus boss.
"For some time I had been discussing with the shareholders that things were not working," he said.
Another perhaps not entirely Dennis-esque choice was the rookie Dane Kevin Magnussen, son of the erratic former McLaren test driver Jan.
"I had reservations (about Kevin)," Dennis admitted.
"I'm not a great believer in sons of drivers," he added, but he thinks Kevin's "steely determination" will result in "an exceptional career".
So the new Dennis era has begun, and a first major input has been to turn down some "stopgap" solutions following title sponsor Vodafone's exit.
"I strongly believe we are (like) Manchester United," he said.
"Inevitably, when you have a run of poor results, people push the rate card down.
"But I know what this company is and what this grand prix team can achieve, and that requires the correct recognition from and close relationship with a principal sponsor," said Dennis.
New era 'completely overshadows' drivers - Alesi
(GMM) A week before F1's brave new era begins in earnest, not everyone is excited.
At the Geneva motor show, former F1 driver Jean Alesi admitted he is no fan of the 'greener' era of energy-recovery boosted cars.
"The driver is being completely overshadowed by the new technology," said the Frenchman.
"It is a challenge for the engineer but not the driver. We have entered an era in which only the tools count," added Alesi, who raced more than 200 times until 2001.
"Now a driver cannot trust his instinct to attack his opponent because he is just one small element of the machine."
Alesi said it is no surprise Mercedes looks set to dominate early in 2014.
"That has not happened by chance," said the French-Sicilian. "As (Ferrari boss) Stefano Domenicali has said, Mercedes is a giant who did an extreme preparation for this championship."
Also not overjoyed at F1's new era is Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, who said the changes for 2014 have been "very expensive for teams but changing little for the viewer".
But FIA president Jean Todt insists formula one had to change.
"If you go to the Geneva motor show," he told Italy's La Stampa, "you see that cars are different now. There are hybrid and smaller engines, fewer cylinders.
"The automotive world has changed, and F1 must be a laboratory of technologies rather than a showcase of aerodynamics," Todt said.
He is even unapologetic about F1 losing its iconic engine 'scream'.
"The sound of the turbo has its own charm," Todt insisted, "but in addition we have powerful cars that consume much less fuel -- it was an inevitable revolution.
"And if Honda has decided to come back, it means the revolution is working."
At the same time, Todt said, formula one must reduce its costs.
"It is absurd," he said, "that half of the drivers in the maximum category of automobile racing are paying to drive. I know of no other sport in the world where that happens."
The apparent solution is a mandatory cost cap, and the details are being discussed now. Not supportive at all is McLaren's returning supremo, Ron Dennis.
"If you can't afford to be in F1," he said on Thursday, "don't be in F1."
Dennis also accused the FIA of being hypocritical about costs, having imposed the "most expensive engine in the history of motor sport" on the teams.
"The same people who took us down this path are now going down another path, saying we need to reduce costs. How contrary to logic is that?" he asked.
Long Beach postpones F1 decision
(GMM) F1 will have to wait to know if it can return to Long Beach.
It emerged that at a city council meeting this week, the issue of opening up the street race lease to bidders - including F1 - would be on the agenda.
"We just want a fair process where qualified people can bid on it," confirmed Chris Pook, F1's original Long Beach pioneer who is reportedly now working closely with Bernie Ecclestone.
But German-language Speed Week reports that while the issue was indeed discussed by the Californian city's council this week, a judgment was postponed.
The correspondent said that while some want Long Beach to keep IndyCar on the streets, others would welcome the return of formula one.
"So the council decided that more information should be obtained in order to get a clearer picture."
One councilman confirmed: "While the current (IndyCar) Long Beach grand prix is a successful event for all parties, the question is whether or not there is an opportunity to do even better with a formula one option."
Bianchi 'mugged while smoking cigarette'
(GMM) F1 driver Jules Bianchi has been attacked and mugged near Paris' famous Champs-Elysees.
Le Parisien reports that while the Marussia driver and Frenchman, in Paris for a television appearance, stood outside the luxury Pershing hotel smoking a cigarette before midnight, three assailants attacked him.
Bianchi, 24, was reportedly knocked to the ground and held while his watch was removed.
The newspaper said the watch stolen was a model by Richard Mille, the luxury Swiss brand, worth EUR 70,000. Bianchi filed a report with the police.
Concorde Agreement era is over - Ecclestone
(GMM) The era of the Concorde Agreement is at its end, according to Bernie Ecclestone.
Difficult and protracted negotiations over the sport's highly secretive document, binding F1's commercial rights holders with its teams and the governing FIA, are notorious.
The long saga over the newest seven-year Concorde is only just at its end, but according to F1 chief executive Ecclestone, there may be no need for another.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, F1 business journalist Christian Sylt said technical and sporting matters are now decided at the new Strategy Group, comprising Ecclestone, the FIA and six top teams.
As for the Concorde, "I think everyone has forgotten about it to be honest," Ecclestone said, "because with the agreement we currently have with this Strategy Group, we don't really need it."
The 83-year-old said it is not even true that a new Concorde was necessary so that F1 can be floated on the stock exchange.
"It was a peace treaty when it was signed. We have moved on and the whole structure has moved on," said Ecclestone.
Paddock to celebrate 'popular' Williams revival
(GMM) If Williams is a force in 2014, almost the entire paddock will celebrate the return of an F1 great.
The newly Mercedes-powered team, having once dominated the sport but not won a title since 1997, has looked a dark horse contender for 2014 during pre-season testing.
Former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, now wearing the iconic Martini stripes of Williams' new title sponsor, set the fastest time during the eight test days in Bahrain.
"Nobody has a bad word to say about Felipe or Williams," former team driver David Coulthard told the Daily Mail.
"It's great for formula one," he said. "Massa is a very popular driver across the world, and Frank Williams has formed a popular team."
The newly F1-retired Mark Webber was lured to Williams in 2005 off the back of its "deep roots", but his two-year tenure was at the start of the slump.
The Australian said he would be delighted if Williams' pre-season form was replicated at the grands prix this year.
"It would be brilliant for them to be reliable and strong," he told the Telegraph.
"It would be good, really good, for Frank and everyone, they've been through a tough time but they are a good team," added Webber.
Some of F1's big hitters, notably Red Bull, are not happy that the regulations have changed so greatly.
Williams, however, is thrilled.
"Regulation changes of this magnitude often disrupt the order and create opportunities for teams to make a leap forward," Sir Frank Williams said on Thursday as the new Martini-livery was unveiled in London, according to La Presse.
But his daughter Claire, the deputy team boss, is not expecting world champions Red Bull to be down for long.
"I would be gobsmacked if Red Bull did not (catch up)," she is quoted by the BBC.
"We go to Australia in a good position but we really have to take advantage of the first few races," Claire Williams added.
Wife Fabiana 'wants a baby' - Ecclestone
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that his new wife Fabiana, 37, wants a baby.
"I would hope that it would be possible," the F1 chief executive, who is almost half a century older than the Brazilian spouse he married in 2012, told Germany's Bild newspaper.
"Fabiana would like so much to have a baby. But I'm 83, so it wouldn't be fair on the child," said Ecclestone.
"Imagine, the child is six, goes to school, and then its 90-year-old father comes to pick it up. You can't do that to a child," he insisted.
Ecclestone also claimed that, although worth billions and bankrolling the extravagant lifestyles of his daughters Tamara and Petra, making money is not his main motivation.
"Money doesn't talk to me, it doesn't make me laugh," he said.
"I'm just lucky that I have enough that I don't have to worry about making it," Ecclestone explained. "But I'm not trying to accumulate more and more.
"If I make a good deal, I am satisfied," he added.
Police 'unable to find Mallya for a year'
|Mallya (left) reportedly alluding police|
The Cubbon Park police, it appears, are having a hard time tracing Vijay Mallya, one of the most recognizable figures in the country, and a court here is not happy about it. Mallya was present at Indian Premier League (IPL) player auction in the city last month and yet, police have not been able to serve a summons on him.
A special court for economic offences issued a show cause notice to the city police on Thursday, seeking clarifications about their failure to serve summons on Mallya, the chief of Kingfisher Airlines Ltd (KAL). The court wants Mallya to appear before it in connection with criminal cases filed by the income tax department for not remitting tax deducted at source running into crores of rupees.
The court sought an explanation from the Cubbon Park inspector after counsel for the department, Jeevan J Neeralgi, pointed out frivolous reasons cited by the police for its inability to serve summons. In their report, the police stated that they could not serve summons on the company as "the company has left the job" and "Mr. Mallya had gone to a foreign country". The court had issued summons four times through Cubbon Park police. Neeralgi pointed out that Mallya had recently participated in the IPL auction at a hotel located close to the Cubbon Park police station. Mumbai Mirror
Alonso: A lot to test on Friday in Melbourne
With a week to go until free practice gets underway in Albert Park, Alonso is training hard to be as well prepared as possible when the Ferrari F14 T makes its race weekend debut. Fernando has tackled an all-encompassing training regime including running, cycling, karting and even football, which is a particular passion of the Maranello driver. One of these sessions was filmed by Prancing Horse sponsor Santander, and a clip can be seen in the attached video.
However, his mental focus is already on the Melbourne track and all the unknown factors that involves. “We come to the start of this championship with the team having had twelve days of testing, while as a driver I’ve had six. A few more days would have been useful given how much has changed for this season. With every lap of testing we learned something and improved pretty much constantly. I think that will still be the case in Australia, especially on the first day and then actually in the first few races.”
There are the usual unknowns because the cars are still new, but there are also those linked to the rule changes. “The new Formula 1 rules are very different to what we were used to. I think the concept of what constitutes a Grand Prix will actually change this year, with Saturday and Sunday being very different from one another. In qualifying, one will be able to get everything out of the car, pushing the new power unit to the limit, trying to get the absolutely best result. But in the race you won’t get anywhere near that level. Last year, towards the end of the races, on new tires, you could do very quick lap times, whereas in the closing stages this year, you will have to bear in mind how much fuel you have left, the state of the batteries and that of the tires. You will need to be very clever to manage these parameters and the new race strategies could see drivers being unable to go flat out to the end.”
Alonso also had a thought for those watching the races at home. “As drivers, we will get used to it quickly and so I hope these rules aren’t immediately overturned and that they stay unchanged for a few years. Otherwise the spectators could lose confident in this new Formula 1 which is very complex, even for the viewer.”
Dennis says Lewis Hamilton could return to McLaren
Ron Dennis says Lewis Hamilton could be attracted back to McLaren once the team "returns to the level of competitiveness enjoyed in the past".
The 2008 World Champion left the Woking-based team for Mercedes at the end of the 2012 season, having been part of the McLaren family since the age of 13 as he progressed through the karting and junior formula ranks.
Hamilton's move to the Silver Arrows was announced just days after he retired from the lead of that year's Singapore GP and Dennis thinks the disappointment on the streets of Marina Bay was what pushed the 29-year-old to Mercedes.
"I think money played a role in it, but it wasn't a deciding factor," he told Sky Sports News. "The fact is that for him it was possibly time to move on - there had been commitments made from both sides - and I appreciated and knew what the turning point was.
"I know Lewis's character and he was bitterly disappointed to not win the Singapore Grand Prix. Strangely enough it wasn't the failure of a McLaren component that forced him to stop in that race, but nevertheless he was vulnerable and the right offer at the right time was made to him and so he jumped.
"But who knows? As and when - and I can assure you it will be sooner rather than later - that we return to the level of competiveness that we have enjoyed in the past, he could well be one of the drivers that could be attracted back to us and he will be better for having experienced life in a different team environment."
Dennis's return to power at McLaren saw Martin Whitmarsh removed from day-to-day control of the F1 team and his position is currently unclear after the team recruited Eric Boullier from Lotus as Racing Director.
However, Dennis has denied reports of a falling out between him and the man who had been his long-term number two on the pitwall.
"There was no falling out between us whatsoever," Dennis explained.
"This is simple, we had to make changes and I wanted to lead the changes because I felt it was the right thing for the group and I was supported in that view by the shareholders, so that is why I am doing it.
"But Martin and I will find a common and positive way forward, and as and when we have that, we will communicate it." Sky Sports