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Latest F1 news in brief - Wednesday
  • Renault expecting more problems with their Power Unit in Sepang
    Renault expecting 'issues' in Malaysia
  • De Silvestro's F1 race chance '1 per cent' - report
  • Sepang not joining chorus to make F1 louder
  • Montagny doubts Lotus can return to the top
  • Ex F1 doctor thinks 'really bad news' about Schu coming
  • F1 race going ahead despite Malaysian plane crash
  • Williams: FOTA void can be filled
  • Majority Of Germans Oppose Inaugural Russian F1 GP Due To Crimea Crisis
  • Eddie Jordan launches his new Sunseeker 155 yacht
  • The FIA knew seven years ago the tree huggers would win

Renault expecting 'issues' in Malaysia
(GMM)  Troubled engine supplier Renault is expecting to grapple with more "issues" in Malaysia this weekend.

After a disastrous winter season, the French marque had improved its new turbo V6 'power unit' for Melbourne, but most partner teams, and notably reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel, still suffered race-ending problems.

"We had several issues across the cars in Melbourne," Renault's operations chief Remi Taffin admitted this week, "but we have recreated the problems in the dyno at Viry.

"Most are fixed and the remaining will be under control by Friday in Sepang," he added.

"While we anticipate further issues may occur we are much more able to react quickly to minimize their impact," said Taffin.

Amid Renault's problems, Mercedes dominated the 2014 opener in Australia, but even polesitter Lewis Hamilton had to retire with an engine problem.

Melbourne winner Nico Rosberg said he aims to win again this weekend at Sepang.

"That's my goal for sure," he told Bild newspaper in Kuala Lumpur.

"But you cannot underestimate the team (Red Bull) that has dominated the sport for years.

"We just have to keep pushing 100 per cent in all areas," added Rosberg.

De Silvestro's F1 race chance '1 per cent' - report
(GMM)  Simone de Silvestro rates her chances of joining the grand prix grid in 2015 with Sauber as "good".

Last month, the Swiss team signed up the 25-year-old IndyCar driver, nominating her as "an affiliated driver" of the Hinwil based outfit.

Sauber's February statement said de Silvestro will undertake "on track testing, simulator training, as well as mental and physical preparation", with the goal being "to gain her super license and prepare for a race seat in formula one for 2015".

The Swiss newspaper Blick said de Silvestro, from Thun in Switzerland, is set to make her F1 test debut at the end of April.

She said this week: "Formula one has always been my dream."

Asked how realistic that dream is, she answered: "If I do everything right, there is a good chance I will get there at some point."

However, given the current nature of midfield F1, de Silvestro must be considered third in line at Sauber, behind the well-sponsored reserve driver Giedo van der Garde and the 'Russian rescue deal'-linked Sergey Sirotkin.

Veteran Blick correspondent Roger Benoit said: "The chance that de Silvestro will ever race for Sauber in formula one is about one per cent."

Sepang not joining chorus to make F1 louder
(GMM)  According to the outspoken Australian Ron Walker, his fellow F1 promoters will speak with "an enormous voice" next week in Bahrain.

Walker, fiercely critical of the quieter sound of the sport's new turbo V6 engines, also heads an F1 promoters' alliance, and he has called a meeting ahead of the forthcoming grand prix in the island Kingdom.

According to the Independent newspaper and F1 business journalist Christian Sylt, he tips the promoters to tell "Bernie (Ecclestone), enough is enough.  This is not what we bought'."

However, one of Walker's fellow promoters is unlikely to be joining the chorus.

Razlan Razali, the boss of the Malaysian grand prix venue at Sepang, is not among those who are denouncing the new sound, insisting F1 remains "amazing".

"Even the quieter engines, which goes against what many have been expecting in motor sport previously, might not entirely be a bad thing," he told the New Straits Times.

"Parents should now be less afraid of bringing their children to races with the reduced noise levels."

And Razali said F1's new technology, producing higher top speeds with less noise and fuel, is impressive.

"You see a small engine still able to produce 750 horse power and clock lap times almost as fast as the V8s did last year, so it is just amazing how far technology has advanced," he insisted.

Nonetheless, Ecclestone and even FIA president Jean Todt are reported to be making moves to spice up the sound.

Franck Montagny, a former F1 driver turned French television pundit, acknowledged the issue.

"For the public, when they go and see the GP2 cars race on the same weekend and they're louder, it will seem like they are faster as well.  So there is something wrong," he is quoted by Le Figaro.

The Telegraph newspaper reports that the Ecclestone-run Formula One Management is already "looking at where they position the microphones" around the tracks "to optimize the sound for television".

And some actual tweaks to the cars to make the engine note louder are also possible.

But Sam Collins, an editor of the Racecar Engineering magazine, is skeptical.

"The concept of these engines means it's quite difficult to redesign them to make them louder because you have the turbo sucking all the noise out," he is quoted by the Guardian.

"So you would have to go for a complete rulebook change and that would take two or three years to introduce and would be hugely expensive and basically teams would stamp their feet and say no," Collins added.

Montagny disagrees.

"I think there will be a change this season," he said.  "Technically, it is not even very difficult to do so.

"There are already methods being used to allow electric cars to make more noise in order to avoid incidents with pedestrians.

"You could also intervene by putting in a second exhaust, but there will be no miracles," he warned.  "These engines are 1.6 liters -- the era of the V10 and V8 is over."

Montagny doubts Lotus can return to the top
(GMM)  Franck Montagny has made a bleak assessment not only of ailing Lotus' 2014 prospects, but also Williams' chances of mounting a title challenge this season.

Lotus' campaign so far has been nothing short of disastrous as the visually-striking E22 struggles not only for pace but also merely to run.

"It is a really complicated situation for them," Montagny, the former Super Aguri driver turned pundit for French television, told Le Figaro.

"They lost Eric Boullier to McLaren, but that's not the only thing -- they are a hundred people less at Enstone after the winter.

"100 people is significant and cannot be easily overcome.  Today, I do not see how they can go back to the top of the table.

"They will be able to fight for the points but aiming higher, I would say, seems very difficult," Montagny added.

Montagny, 36, also commented on the resurgent British team Williams, who are currently believed to have the second fastest car behind Mercedes.

"Williams should have had a podium in Australia," he said.  "Felipe Massa couldn't do anything at the start when Kamui Kobayashi lost his brakes and hit him, and (Valtteri) Bottas had his puncture.

"But we have to be cautious because by half-time in the championship, Williams will not have the resources to continue to develop as aggressively as the big teams," Montagny predicted.

Ex F1 doctor thinks 'really bad news' about Schu coming
(GMM)  Former F1 doctor Gary Hartstein thinks it is unlikely Michael Schumacher will recover after more than 12 weeks in a coma and counting.

The German legend has been in his hospital bed in Grenoble since the end of December, following a skiing fall in the French alps.

"As time goes on, it becomes less and less likely that Michael will emerge to any significant extent," American Hartstein, whose contract was not renewed by F1's governing body after the 2012 season, wrote in his latest blog entry.

And he thinks "really bad news" about Schumacher's prospects might be issued soon, due to a "terribly dismal prognosis".

"I think it is inevitable that should the status quo continue, the ICU staff may well, at some point in the not-distant future, decide that the patient they've just been asked to admit has a higher need for that bed than Michael, given his clinical situation and prognosis," said Hartstein.

Hartstein, who succeeded F1's retiring Sid Watkins in 2005, has been critical of the Schumacher family's public silence throughout his hospitalization.

But he thinks that silence might soon have an unexpected benefit.

"I've realized that perhaps the lack of status updates has given us all a chance to move on a bit, to process what's happening, and to start to detach," said Hartstein.

F1 race going ahead despite Malaysian plane crash
(GMM)  This weekend's F1 race is going ahead, despite confirmation the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 almost certainly crashed into the ocean.

Amid the almost three-week mystery about the whereabouts of the plane and its 239 occupants, Britain's Mirror newspaper claims Mercedes planned to run 'Come Home MH370' signage on its W05 cars throughout the grand prix weekend.

But earlier this week, the Malaysian prime minister finally announced that the plane had crashed somewhere in the southern Indian ocean, killing all on board.

DPA news agency now reports that Mercedes, title sponsored by the Malaysian oil giant Petronas, will run the words 'Tribute to MH370' on the cars at Sepang.

Petronas said race weekend concerts featuring pop star Christina Aguilera have been cancelled as "a sign of respect to the families and next-of-kin of the crew and passengers of flight MH370".

"It is truly a tragedy and we are deeply saddened about the crew and passengers," Petronas said in a statement.

The similarly Petronas-sponsored grand prix, however, is going ahead.

"The atmosphere is subdued and I understand everyone is talking about it everywhere and asking why we are hosting an F1 race under the circumstances," said Sepang circuit boss Razlan Razali.

"But it is something that was decided a long time ago."

Also set to go ahead in Kuala Lumpur is the 2014 edition of the Laureus world sports awards, to be attended by nominee Sebastian Vettel on Wednesday.

Laureus chairman Edwin Moses said: "We feel the appropriate action at this time is to scale down some of our activities over the next two days."

It is also believed F1 officials will meet ahead of the race weekend to organize a suitable tribute for the victims of the ill-fated flight.

Elsewhere, 62 per cent of those surveyed by the German news agency SID said F1's governing body should cancel the inaugural Russian grand prix over the Crimean crisis.

Williams: FOTA void can be filled
FOTA, created in 2008 with the goal of giving F1 teams a united voice when dealing with commercial rights holders and the FIA, was disbanded at the end of last month.

Its strength was significantly undermined in 2011 when Ferrari, Red Bull and Sauber decide to leave.

Williams:  suggested FOTA had not managed to adapt to F1's new demands, and feels the Strategy Group will be a good replacement for the teams' body.

F1 will miss FOTA more than it knows

"I think FOTA when it initially came out had a very different [mandate], it was initially established for particular reasons but F1 has changed, the landscape has changed in the sport," Williams said.

"It is a shame and we always need a platform for teams to come together and discuss issues whatever they may be in order to find a common ground and solution.

"It being dissolved is a shame but it changed and teams came out of it, which is a shame, as you need in a sport all the teams talking together in one group. If you don't have that, is the body still relevant?

"But we have the Strategy Group now, which is comprised of the five teams and the FIA and FOM, and it is doing a good job. It is very conscious in the work it is doing to try to improve the sport now but also to protect it in the future."

The Strategy Group was created during the 2013 season and it's made up of 18 representatives from the FIA and FOM, plus Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren and Lotus. Yahoo Eurosport UK

Majority Of Germans Oppose Inaugural Russian F1 GP Due To Crimea Crisis
The majority of the German population "is opposing the inaugural Russian F1 Grand Prix in Sochi due to Russia's controversial annexation of Crimea," according to the SID.

A survey by the Sports Information Service in cooperation with the Nuremberg-based market research institute plus found that 62% of Germans "call on motorsports governing body FIA to cancel the race."

Only 25% said that "they want to see the race go ahead as scheduled on Oct. 12." The remaining 13% abstained from the survey. SID

Eddie Jordan launches his new Sunseeker 155 yacht
The launch event at Sunseeker International's shipyard in Poole was also attended by group president Robert Braithwaite and all the team members who had spent 400 hours or more working on the super yacht.

The yacht, named Blush, will leave Dorset on the South Coast of England this Thursday, en route to Palma Majorca, subject to weather conditions.

It marks the biggest project ever undertaken by the luxury yacht manufacturer. The design concept was conceived in the UK, the building and testing phase also took place in Portland and Poole.

Robert Braithwaite said: 'This boat is British; designed and built in Britain.

'It's the world leader in its class, 100 tones lighter than anything in its competition, which means better fuel economy and it can cover 4,500 miles on a full tank.

'That is quite an amazing thing to do.'

Eddie Jordan, who has been a Sunseeker customer for almost 30 years, praised the 'tough and resilient' team for completing the super yacht despite the tough market conditions of 2008 and 2009.

He added: 'Poole should be called Sunseeker Poole because of the company's investment and belief in the town.'

Guests to the launch event were treated to a performance by Elle & the Pocket Belles.

Special 'Blush' t-shirts were given to the Sunseeker staff who built the boat.

The Sunseeker team are also celebrating the commissioning of a second 155 Yacht following a sale in Dubai.

The FIA knew seven years ago the tree huggers would win
The sound of the 2014 F1 power units has been a subject of discussion since the Australian GP, and a negative reaction from many fans has hardly comes as a surprise.

The sound does not come across well on TV, or to those watching the cars blast down a straight. However it is much better appreciated live by those spectating in corners, and hearing the drivers go down and up the gears.

The always controversial Melbourne F1 boss Ron Walker was quick to join the debate, complaining that he didn’t get the show that he’d signed up for.

Intriguingly seven years ago the FIA was made aware that engine noise could be an issue once the sport switched to turbo power.

In June 2007 the FIA produced a document called “Formula One 2011: Power-Train Regulation Framework,” subtitled “A Briefing Note for the Formula One Manufacturers’ Advisory Committee Meeting, June 2007.”

Commissioned by Max Mosley and prepared by FIA advisors Tony Purnell and Peter Wright, it provided the guidelines that ultimately led to the new regulations, albeit three years later than was originally anticipated.

Although there would be many other documents, much (but not all) of the above report eventually translated into the 2014 rules pushed through by Mosley’s successor Jean Todt.

Purnell and Wright were well aware that the fans had to be taken into account, writing: “The main constraint will be to avoid damage to the emotional attraction of Formula One for its fan base. In particular the technical awe of Formula One and its sheer speed must be retained.”

Regarding the sound made by what was then intended a 2.2-litre V6, they wrote: “The noise of high rpm is to be replaced, by what we don’t know, but it will be quieter. The view is that the risk of this new noise being unappealing is a risk worth taking. Quieter cars are 100% in line with environment demands. The unique and sophisticated power-trains are certain to make a dramatic, if very different noise of their own.”

It will be fascinating to see if the FIA formally investigates the possibility of ramping up the sound for 2015, possibly by mandating a new exhaust design. Adam Cooper

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