Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

12/29/15

  • Michael Schumacher - we may never find out how he is
    Michael Schumacher – we may never find out how he is

    Lawyer defends silence on Schumacher condition

  • Hamilton gets energy from 'excessive' lifestyle
  • Time 'tight' to deliver new pits for Canada GP
  • Drivers, managers giving up on F1 dream – Johansson
  • McLaren to make 'big leap' in 2016 – Johansson
  • Gutierrez admits to eying Ferrari race seat
  • Montezemolo marks Schu anniversary with 'sadness' New
  • Man charged with Abu Dhabi GP terror plot New
  • Vettel tipped to win 2016 title New

Lawyer defends silence on Schumacher condition
(GMM) Michael Schumacher's media lawyer has defended the right of the great German's family to fiercely defend his privacy.

Tuesday is the two-year anniversary of the F1 legend's tragic skiing fall in the French Alps, in which he was left with apparently severe brain damage.

To date, however, the public is completely in the dark as to Schumacher's precise health condition.

Felix Damm, Schumacher's media lawyer, told DPA news agency that the family has every right to defend its privacy, especially as the former Ferrari driver "always drew a clear line" between his public and private life even before the accident.

"The accident itself was an event of contemporary history and could be reported on," he said.

"But there is no such requirement once the recovery starts and the public is excluded — it happened in a hospital and now at home."

Damm also said in a documentary by the Munich broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk: "I can understand that there are people who have a serious interest in knowing how he's doing.

"On the other side you have to understand and see that he does not race anymore and has the right to his privacy," he added.

For some time, the Schumacher family issued statements to update the public about the 46-year-old's condition and recovery.

But Damm defended today's total radio silence.

"You won't be able to say 'I will make a statement and clear up all open questions'. Instead, every statement would lead to new questions," he argued.

Hamilton partying hard in Monaco with the rich and famous
Hamilton partying hard in Monaco with the rich and famous

Hamilton gets energy from 'excessive' lifestyle
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton says he has no intention of easing back the intensity of his off-track lifestyle.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper asked Hamilton, the reigning triple world champion, about his supposed "rock star" life.

"I do not feel like a rock star," the Briton insisted. "I just live my life differently to most people.

"It's an exciting life," Hamilton acknowledged. "Last week I was in Washington and sitting not far from the president. The next morning I was in Canada for a bit of training and some music.

"Then we went to LA, Germany, Monaco, London — from there I flew to Colorado and on the way visited a few friends in New York."

Some, however, believe that Hamilton's jet-setting and off-track exploits – such as an album of pop music he is preparing to release – are a distraction to his core activity of focusing on being an F1 driver.

Hamilton denies it.

"I see it as positive. I enjoy it. This year it has been more excessive than ever and I won almost every race and my third world championship."

Asked if he needs these distractions in order to succeed, the 30-year-old replied: "Yes. What I do is important to me.

"I draw energy and motivation from it, for other things — for the sport. And I feel wonderful about my life," Hamilton added.

Montreal weather makes construction schedule dicey
Montreal weather makes construction schedule dicey

Time 'tight' to deliver new pits for Canada GP
(GMM) The City of Montreal has acknowledged that time is tight to deliver the promised new pit and paddock complex for the Canadian grand prix.

The race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is promoted privately by a company called Octane, but a new ten-year contract signed with F1 last year required the City to fund new garages for the teams at the aging facility.

Montreal promised the delivery of the work by 2017, but the president of the city's executive committee, Pierre Desrochers, admitted that time is "tight".

"For sure the schedule is tight, but we have always worked according to this target," he told the Quebec newspaper La Presse.

"At this stage, it is our goal to do so. We work with partners and the level of discussion is good.

"We all know that as the days move forward, there are deadlines to meet," Desrochers added.

Asked if Montreal will have to compensate F1 if the work is not delivered in time, he answered: "We are not there yet."

Francois Cartier, communications chief for the F1 site venue SPJD, explained: "We are still in the design and implementation phase of the paddocks.

"Discussions are ongoing with partners about the needs and the ability to meet all of these needs."

The report speculated that talks with F1 chiefs have revealed a funding deficit, with Montreal having pledged a maximum of $32.6 million for the new complex.

"It is clear that there is an envelope of $32.6 million, but we will see how it will end," Desrochers said.

Canadian grand prix promoter Octane did not comment.

Young drivers like Felix Rosenqvist know, like AR1.com has reported for years, that F1 is maybe 1% driver
Young drivers like Felix Rosenqvist know, like AR1.com has reported for years, that F1 is maybe 1% driver

Drivers, managers giving up on F1 dream – Johansson
(GMM) Drivers and managers are in danger of giving up the F1 dream, former grand prix star Stefan Johansson has warned.

The Swede raced in the 80s for Ferrari and McLaren, but today he is involved in the management of his impressive countryman Felix Rosenqvist.

The 24-year-old is the new European F3 champion, and this year he became the first driver in history to win the prestigious Macau grand prix back-to-back.

Rosenqvist tested a GP2 car in Abu Dhabi recently, but the veteran Johansson revealed on his blog that he is not impressed with the F1 feeder series.

The biggest problem, he said, is that – just like in F1 – the Pirelli tires degrade too quickly.

"So all these young drivers who need as much seat time as they can get and need to hone their race craft by racing hard from start to finish are basically cruising around," said Johansson.

"I spoke to a couple of the current GP2 stars and they all agree.

"One of them is 20 years old and very promising and he told me he's sitting there in the middle of a race asking himself if this is really what he was hoping to do when he became a professional driver — cruising around at 80 per cent just to make it to the end of the race," he added.

The other issue, Johansson explained, is that GP2 is so expensive – at least $2 million a year for a top seat – and yet it is often proving a dead-end for even the most promising drivers.

"It's a big dilemma," he said. "I talked to several driver managers and F1 managers while in Abu Dhabi and it seems the general consensus is that most of them have in fact given up on the idea of pushing their drivers all the way to F1.

"Instead people are starting to focus on DTM and sports cars as alternative routes for a career as a professional driver. It's a sad situation when even the people in F1 admit that the best drivers don't have a chance to ever drive an F1 car, or at least not race one," added Johansson.

Will Dennis and Button be smiling in 2016?
Will Dennis and Button be smiling in 2016?

McLaren to make 'big leap' in 2016 – Johansson
(GMM) Stefan Johansson has tipped his former team McLaren to make a "big leap" in 2016.

And the 59-year-old Swede, who raced for the British team in 1987 just before its first and ultra-successful Honda era began, is not alone in thinking McLaren-Honda is now capable of putting its troubles of 2015 quickly in the past.

For example, Fernando Alonso thinks a 2.5 second per lap boost is possible for 2016, and even rival Red Bull's Adrian Newey said last week that he expects Honda to easily sort its engine problems over the winter.

On his blog, Johansson agreed: "Yes, I think they will make a big leap next year.

"Their performance has been so bad in 2015 that it's not going to be difficult for them to make a pretty giant gain. With their combined resources I am sure they will bypass a number of teams to get back to being one of the top five teams easily," he added.

As for how long it will take to turn a major boost in 2016 into actual winning success, however, Johansson is less certain.

"I think they'll be regular points-scorers next year but then of course the closer you get to the front, the harder it gets to be a regular winner like they used to be," he said.

Esteban Gutierrez eyes a Ferrari seat - the Haas team is the best seat his check can buy for now
Esteban Gutierrez eyes a Ferrari seat – the Haas team is the best seat his check can buy for now

Gutierrez admits to eying Ferrari race seat
(GMM) Esteban Gutierrez has admitted he would like his new Haas seat for 2016 to boost his chances of racing for Ferrari in the future.

At the end of 2014, the Mexican stepped out of his Sauber race seat and into the reserve role at Ferrari.

Gutierrez, 24, admitted he made the move with one eye on a future at Haas, the strongly Ferrari-linked new American team that makes its debut in 2016.

"Yes, from that side (not racing in 2015) it was difficult and I had to be very patient, knowing that it was for a very good reason, with a view to the future," he told the Spanish sports daily Marca.

"It was a good experience, being part of the Ferrari family, a team with all that importance in F1, with a long history and a great responsibility as third driver," Gutierrez added.

"It was a different year. I would have liked to race, but I knew it was only a year and so I tried to learn as much as I could."

He described leaving Sauber for a test seat on the hope of launching into Haas for 2016 as a "big risk", but he is now setting an eye on part two of the gamble — returning to Ferrari one day to be a race driver for the Maranello marque.

"That was the big gamble which I decided to do at the end of 2014 — leaving Sauber with nothing guaranteed," said Gutierrez.

"I decided to go to Ferrari and put in a lot of effort and work and the first step has worked. But it is only that – a step – because my vision for the future is to reach the top.

"Yes, it's what I want to achieve," he admitted.

After a full season spent as the third driver for Scuderia Ferrari, Esteban Gutierrez looks ahead to a fresh challenge as works driver for Haas F1. Meanwhile, he wraps up what has been a special year for him.

This has been your Christmas with Scuderia Ferrari and we all know that you have a big challenge ahead of yourself next year. What’s your feeling in this moment?

In this moment, first of all, I feel very grateful for this amazing opportunity to be with Ferrari. It has been a very long season, but at the same time it went by very quickly. I have learnt many things from a lot of very good guys in the team, best mechanics, best engineers, two World Champions like Sebastian and Kimi, the best team principal, Maurizio, and I really want to thank them because they have opened the doors for me to be part of it as a third driver, to contribute as well and to take the most of my experience. Now I have a big challenge ahead, that I’m much looking forward to.

What do you think you can bring to a brand new team, the one you’re joining next year?

I believe that I can contribute a lot with my experience, my knowledge of the development of the engine, the gearbox from 2012 to 2013, 2014 when the rules changed dramatically. How it developed from 2014 to 2015, I’ve always been driving Ferrari engines so I know all the procedures and everything. I think it’s a very important thing to have.

Before that begins, you have few days to enjoy as a Christmas break. What do you think you’ll be doing? Going back to Mexico?

Yes it’s true, it’s time to go back to the family, I’ll have some time off. We’ve been travelling a lot, doing a lot of preparation, a lot of events and in general I think the most important thing for all of us that are part of the Formula One world, is that we want to take a rest with the family somewhere stable without travelling, without moving around. This is the best thing to do.

Luca di Montezemolo
Even Luca di Montezemolo has not seen Michael Schumacher, who is sadly rumored to be a vegetable now.

Montezemolo marks Schu anniversary with 'sadness'
(GMM) It was with sadness on Tuesday that two of Michael Schumacher's former colleagues marked the two-year anniversary of the great German's skiing crash.

"I relive the drama with great sadness," admitted former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, under whose reign Schumacher won a record five consecutive world championships wearing red.

"I am close to Corinna, Mick and Gina-Maria and on January 3 (Schumacher's 47th birthday) I will phone Corinna," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The Italian report said Montezemolo has not seen Schumacher since the retired seven time world champion fell whilst skiing in the French Alps exactly two years ago, sustaining serious brain injuries.

"But even with great sadness I still believe in a miracle and in the meantime I keep in mind the moments of our triumphs," Montezemolo added.

He said his only regret is, when Schumacher was showing interest in a F1 comeback, he could not stop the German from deciding to join the new works Mercedes project.

"If I could have pushed through the proposal of the third car, it would have been for him," said Montezemolo.

And Piero Ferrari, the only living son of the great Enzo Ferrari, commented: "It is sad to think of him in such a condition. I never imagined that fate would have this in store."

Le Parisien newspaper on Tuesday reported that the Schumacher family spends EUR 500,000 per month on the 46-year-old's ongoing rehabilitation.

Man charged with Abu Dhabi GP terror plot
(GMM) A man appeared in a United Arab Emirates court early this week charged with planning a terrorist attack on the Abu Dhabi grand prix.

The defendant is accused of supporting Al-Qaeda and ISIS and planning other local terror plots, The National and Gulf News publications reported.

Reportedly, he was married to Alaa Bader al-Hashemi, who whilst wearing a veiled niqab murdered an American kindergarten teacher in an Abu Dhabi shopping mall a year ago.

The defendant reportedly denied the charges.

This man, Aldo Costa, the Chief Engineer for Ferrari when Schumacher won all those consecutive titles, and now with Mercedes, will ensure a Mercedes driver wins the 2016 F1 title, not Sebastian Vettel.
This man, Aldo Costa, the Chief Engineer for Ferrari when Schumacher won all those consecutive titles, and now with Mercedes, will ensure a Mercedes driver wins the 2016 F1 title, not Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel tipped to win 2016 title
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has been tipped to take out the 2016 title for Ferrari.

Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton were dominant in 2014 and 2015, but Ferrari improved markedly this year.

When asked to name the likely 2016 champion, Ferrari reserve and 2016 Haas racer Esteban Gutierrez told Spain's AS newspaper unhesitatingly: "Vettel."

And 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve told Italian website Diariodelweb.it: "They (Ferrari) can catch Mercedes.

"Thanks to their resources, they can often work better than Mercedes. The atmosphere among their drivers and engineers is good, so they have a bright future ahead."

Also impressed with Ferrari and German Vettel is Angelo Sticchi Damiani, the boss of the Monza-linked automobile club of Italy (Aci).

"The recovery of the reds compared to 2014 was very important," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport, "and Vettel impressed not just in his results, but with how quickly he became comfortable with the team and with Italy, becoming very popular.

"Now the hope for 2016 is that it is the year of the Cavallino (Prancing Horse)," Sticchi Damiani added.

He was also asked about the current stoush for power between the big manufacturers like Ferrari and F1 authorities, who want to cut costs for the small teams.

"The change of regulations is a sensitive issue," Sticchi Damiani admitted.

"There is the problem of engines for the small teams, but also the problem of having to adequately award the work done upstream for the production of these engines.

"It is a complex situation and not easily solved," he added.

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