Latest F1 news in brief: Wednesday

  • Mick Schumacher did not inherit his father's skill
    Mick Schumacher did not inherit his father's skill

    Schumacher to contest two F4 series in 2016

  • Ecclestone says European Commission talks underway
  • Ferrari working to fix injector problem – insider
  • Alonso resumes training
  • Lawyer says Rosberg not evading tax
  • Testing Agreement Delaying Formula 1's Tire Contract With Pirelli
  • Eccelstone: Drivers just take money from the sport
  • Mercedes' data shows Toro Rosso has least powerful engine in F1

Schumacher to contest two F4 series in 2016
(GMM) Mick Schumacher is taking on a busy calendar in 2016 as he continues his push towards formula one.

Now 17, F1 legend Michael Schumacher's son began his open wheel adventure last year in German Formula 4, but Bild reports that the young German will also race in parallel in the Italian series this season.

Driving for the Ferrari-linked Prema team, Schumacher's campaign kicks off at Misano this weekend, followed by the opening German round in Oschersleben the following weekend.

He got his season off to a good start this week, topping the testing times.

"At least at first he will do both series and over time we will see if he concentrates on one," manager Sabine Kehm told the German newspaper.

Kehm said it is good that Schumacher's schedule will be busy in 2016, explaining that the decision was taken against pushing Mick into the highly-competitive F3 Euro series this year.

"We have deliberately opted for another year in Formula 4 so that his training is not rushed and is as broad and deep as possible," she explained.

"With regards to later, that's important. Mick is still in the training phase, and this must not be forgotten," said Kehm.

Meanwhile, former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has again commented on the recovery of Michael Schumacher, having earlier this year said the news about the seven time world champion is "not good".

"I want to express very strongly my confidence," he is quoted by the Italian broadcaster Sky, "because in the past some of my words were misinterpreted.

"With strength and conviction, I am very confident about Michael's recovery and that he will make it. His strength is his great ability to react, so I am convinced that, surrounded by his family and with his own strength, he will fight back," Montezemolo added.

Bernie Ecclestone being grilled by ECC
Bernie Ecclestone being grilled by ECC

Ecclestone says European Commission talks underway
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone says "discussions" with the European Commission are currently taking place.

Last September, midfield teams Force India and Sauber lodged an official complaint to the European Union's anti-competition unit about F1's allegedly "unlawful" governance and income-distribution systems.

The complaint was pointed specifically at Ecclestone, but the F1 supremo – also frustrated by the sport's crippling governance structure – may in fact also be on board, having recently described an alliance between top manufacturers Mercedes and Ferrari as a "cartel".

"The European Commission is beginning to be a little more interested in formula one and whether the competition laws are respected," Ecclestone told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"If they really have doubts, it could mean the contracts must be torn up before 2020," he added, referring to the agreements that bind the sport with the FIA and teams.

Referring again to the EU, he added: "We are in discussions with them."

The 85-year-old Briton makes clear that his biggest qualm is with the dominance of Mercedes, in the controversial 'power unit' era that in his view is badly hurting F1.

"Mercedes has won I think 34 races in the last two years, many of them 1 and 2," said Ecclestone.

"If it was an open battle between Mercedes and Ferrari no one would complain — we could even live with a dominant team if the drivers were at war like (Senna and Prost) were at McLaren.

"But if we don't change the rules, Mercedes could win until 2020 and that worries me," he admitted.

Ecclestone said Mercedes and Ferrari are effectively running F1 at the moment as they are dominating technologically and politically through their competitive power units.

Referring to the decision-making bodies, he explained: "The two big teams buy votes. If their clients do not pay on time, there are no engines — unless you vote the way the manufacturer wants you to.

"It means the FIA and I are left with one vote only," Ecclestone added.

Maurizio Arrivabene under pressure after two DNFs in first two races
Maurizio Arrivabene under pressure after two DNFs in first two races

Ferrari working to fix injector problem – insider
(GMM) Ferrari is confident it will quickly solve the engine flaw that stopped Sebastian Vettel from even starting Sunday's Bahrain grand prix.

Kimi Raikkonen's failure was with the turbo in Australia, and so teammate Vettel's smoky exit on the parade lap in Bahrain had ramped up speculation the Italian team is grappling with fundamental reliability issues in 2016.

"When you seek to improve your performance, as you need to do to try to get closer to Mercedes, sometimes you take risks and have problems with reliability," F1 legend Sir Jackie Stewart told Brazil's Globo last weekend.

"That's how F1 works."

According to Tuttosport, Australia and Bahrain will have set off "alarm bells" at Maranello, where boss Maurizio Arrivabene has already said staff will be working "Saturdays and Sundays" to fix the problems before China.

Former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, however, is looking on the bright side for the fabled Italian team.

"It's better an engine breaks when you're on the second row than to never break an engine on the eighth (row)," he is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I recall in 1996 when Michael Schumacher's engine broke on the parade lap in Magny Cours but then we won at Spa and Monza," Montezemolo added.

"As always in formula one, there is much work to do but I hope that Sunday was a good sign with parallels to those (Schumacher) years."

Leo Turrini, a reliable Ferrari media insider, wrote on his Quotidiano blog that Ferrari has traced Vettel's Bahrain failure to an injector that will now be re-designed.

"In Maranello, they believe they can remedy the situation," he said.

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso

Alonso resumes training
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has resumed training as he fights to be fit to return to the cockpit of his McLaren-Honda in China.

On the Bahrain grid last Sunday, with Stoffel Vandoorne filling in, Alonso said he was "99 per cent" sure his chest injuries would not stop him from racing in China in two weeks.

Earlier that day, the Spaniard has posted on Instagram of a picture of himself on a gym exercise bike at the hotel.

Now, a sweaty Alonso in cycling bibs and pulling on an exercise elastic has posted a new photo, explaining: "Return the training, in the next few days I hope to do also cycling and swim.

"Step by step," Alonso added.

It was a difficult weekend for the former double world champion in Bahrain, sidelined by FIA doctors and also goaded by British F1 pundit Johnny Herbert to retire.

Alonso reacted angrily by gatecrashing Herbert live on television, declaring later that he thought the former Sauber driver had been "aggressive".

When also asked about Herbert's criticism, F1 legend Sir Jackie Stewart told the Spanish newspaper AS: "I read something that Herbert said — that he (Alonso) would not or should not drive again.

"I don't agree, obviously," the great Scot added.

"He will return soon, hopefully in China, but it's ok for him to lose a race or two, he can afford it, although he is important to the team.

"Alonso is one of the best drivers on the grid, possibly the best," said Stewart, "and certainly the one with the greatest mental strength. He is a very complete driver who always takes the most minimal opportunity to win."

Nico Rosberg
Nico Rosberg

Lawyer says Rosberg not evading tax
(GMM) Nico Rosberg's lawyer has denied claims the Mercedes driver is evading tax.

The 2016 championship leader's name was mentioned among the millions of leaked financial documents known globally as the 'Panama Papers', amid suggestions countless prominent people are hiding wealth and evading tax.

German reports alleged that the documents, originating from a Panama law firm called Mossack Fonseca, showed that Rosberg's contract with Mercedes is via a British Virgin Islands-based 'letterbox company' called Ambitious Group Limited.

"Contrary to some reports," Rosberg's Berlin lawyer Christian Schertz said, "our client has no letterbox company in Panama.

"It is true that a letterbox for Nico Rosberg was established in the British Virgin Islands by the firm Mossack Fonseca," he added.

But Rosberg's lawyer denies this has anything to do with tax.

"The sole reason for this was legal liability issues and the ability to act internationally," said Schertz. "This facility has nothing to do with tax," he added, insisting Rosberg has always "behaved fiscally correctly in all respects".

"He is domiciled in Monaco and therefore taxable in Monaco," Schertz insisted. "All compensation that he receives from the (Mercedes) team is therefore taxed directly in Monaco," he added.

German reports say Mercedes is refusing to comment for reasons of business confidentiality, but the carmaker did say there are "no abnormalities" in the dealings with Rosberg in the area of compliance.

Pirelli intermediate tires stacked in Bahrain
Pirelli intermediate tires stacked in Bahrain

Testing Agreement Delaying Formula 1's Tire Contract With Pirelli
Formula 1's new tire contract with Pirelli from '17 "has yet to be signed off with the sport's governing body, despite being agreed in October, as the Italian firm wants specific targets and testing guarantees written in," according to Alan Baldwin of REUTERS.

FIA Race Dir Charlie Whiting said that the delay "was not unusual, however."

Whiting: "Pirelli wanted the targets that they were asked to achieve to be put into the contract. They want more specific items in the contract regarding testing.

"They really just want a guarantee of testing. If we are going to set them targets, they want the tools with which to achieve those targets. Those are really the only points."

The new sole supplier agreement, "already agreed with the commercial rights holder but needing to be signed off by the FIA," is for three years. Reuters

Ecclestone says F1 drivers sucking money from F1
Ecclestone says F1 drivers sucking money from F1

Eccelstone: Drivers just take money from the sport
After the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) called for change within the F1 governance, Formula 1 Group owner Bernie Eccelstone has said that drivers should not be allowed to talk.

The 85-year-old said that the racers only care about how much money they can earn form the sport and are not interested in helping the development of it.

“What sort of interest do they have, the drivers, other than taking money out of the sport?" Ecclestone asked ESPN.

“I’ve never seen one of them put one dollar in, you go to dinner with them and they don’t even pay the bill. They shouldn’t even be allowed to talk. They should get in the car and drive it."

Earlier in the year, Eccelstone was asked whether or not he would pay money to watch a Grand Prix, to which he replied he wouldn’t.

The Englishman has stood by his answer and elaborated further by saying that F1 is too predictable.

“I got slaughtered for saying that I wouldn’t buy a ticket for a Formula 1 race, which is true I wouldn’t," he said.

“Because I know full well before I go to the race who’s going to be first, who’s going to be second and there’s no racing that’s going to happen anyway. So why would I want to sit in the bloody grandstand for with my wife and two kids or somebody else’s wife, for what? To see what?" PlanetF1

Mercedes' data shows Toro Rosso has least powerful engine in F1
Toro Rosso's year-old power unit is the least powerful engine on the grid, according to Mercedes' data.

Toro Rosso is the only team running a 2015 power unit this year, with all the other outfits benefitting from upgrades from their engine manufacturers over the winter. Much of Toro Rosso's impressive start to the year has been attributed to its Ferrari power unit having more power than Renault and Honda, but data gathered from GPS readings by Mercedes suggests all the 2016 power units are already ahead of the year-old Ferrari.

"You may not know this, but the engine with the least power on the grid is actually the Ferrari in the Toro Rosso," Mercedes technical boss Paddy Lowe told ESPN. "The Renault and the Honda are not so far behind the Ferrari Mercedes, so there is not a lot of difference now between the power units."

The current engine formula is based around efficiency, with manufacturers tasked with extracting as much power as possible from the restricted 100kg/hour flow rate of fuel to the engine. Mercedes has recently trumpeted its achievement of utilising more than 45 percent of the potential energy in the fuel, compared to 29 percent in the V8 era, but Lowe says rival manufacturers are not only a couple of percent behind at most.

"Even the worst engines in Formula One, and people complain like hell about them, are still fantastically efficient by any absolute standard. They just happen to be one or two percent worse than the best engines."

The news also underlines the remarkable job Toro Rosso has managed with its car this year after Max Verstappen finished sixth in last weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix. The Bahrain International Circuit is a power sensitive circuit where fuel usage is critical, but Toro Rosso still managed to hold off more powerful opposition.

After qualifying in Bahrain, Verstappen said he could see a big difference between his car's power output and that of the 2016-spec engine.

"If you are behind a factory Ferrari you can see that they have more power, yeah. But we have to be happy with what we have because it's very reliable and for us that is a good start."

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