Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Mercedes' megaphone exhaust

    Europe still 'assessing' F1 teams' complaint

  • Extra exhausts will improve F1 sound – Cowell
  • 'Good timing' powered Hamilton titles – Montoya
  • Ecclestone, Mosley want Cosworth back in F1
  • Engine manufacturers 'not interested' in reducing costs – Todt
  • Montoya opposed to covering cockpits
  • Ecclestone could sue Red Bull over F1 exit
  • Bernie Ecclestone to hand out £50m in 'foolish' Mercedes gamble

Europe still 'assessing' F1 teams' complaint
(GMM) The risk of an investigation into F1's structure by the European Commission is still hanging over the sport.

"We have received a complaint," a spokesman confirmed to the Telegraph, "and will assess it."

The complaint was lodged recently by Force India and Sauber, two financially-struggling midfield teams who bemoan the unfairness of Bernie Ecclestone's income distribution system and the rule-making strategy group.

And it is being egged on by a senior European parliamentarian, Anneliese Dodds, who urges the Commission to intervene.

"Following complaints within the sport of F1, the EU must take the lead on a sport loved by many across Europe," she told F1 business journalist Christian Sylt.

Ecclestone not worried about minnow F1 team complaints

The Telegraph report said there is a risk an investigation would put the brakes on the looming sale of the sport's commercial rights, but F1 supremo Ecclestone insists he is not worried.

"No. For us, no," he told the BBC recently.

"The payments we make to the teams, they are in contracts," Ecclestone added, "and everybody knows what everybody else is paid. There's no secrets."

Sauber chief Monisha Kaltenborn, however, argues that the 'non-privileged teams' were given take-it-or-leave-it proposals.

Asked if one solution would be to simply tear up those contracts and start again, Ecclestone told the German broadcaster ZDF in a joint interview with former FIA president Max Mosley this week: "If everybody agrees, yes.

"But no one will agree to take less money, and give it to another team. So I would say it's impossible.

"Unless there's a rule somewhere that it's anti-competitive. I understand some of the teams are complaining to the European Commission.

"But there are lots of things that are anti-competitive for the teams in formula one, so they've got a lot of complaints than just the amount of money.

"And if all of them – as Max just said – are on a level playing field, there should be no complaints. They all then could do the same thing," said Ecclestone, referring to Mosley's proposal of a budget cap in F1.

Extra exhausts will improve F1 sound – Cowell
(GMM) Mercedes' engine chief is confident changes to the regulations will turn up the volume for 2016.

The mild tones of the sport since the dawning of the new 'power unit' era has been highly controversial, with Bernie Ecclestone leading the criticism.

"It (the noise problem) was pointed out to me again by some Russian people," the F1 supremo told German broadcaster ZDF in a joint interview with former FIA president Max Mosley this week. "We've lost that excitement."

But also the drivers miss F1's old sound.

"I recently drove an old BRM from 1970 in Mexico, and the sound went right through my body. Noise is part of the trademark of formula one," argued Force India's Sergio Perez.

So for 2016, the FIA has agreed to mandate an additional exhaust – the 'wastegate' – with teams able to choose between one extra pipe or two.

"It will raise the noise by a few decibels," Mercedes' Andy Cowell told Auto Motor und Sport, "and significantly improve the sound quality."

Montoya says Hamilton just lucky
Montoya says Hamilton just lucky

'Good timing' powered Hamilton titles – Montoya
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton's looming back-to-back title triumph is more about "timing" than driving brilliance.

That is the claim of former F1 race winner and 2015 IndyCar runner-up Juan Pablo Montoya.

"It is always the same thing in formula one," said the Colombian.

He admits that Briton Hamilton has done a "good job", but said 2014 and 2015 has been more about the technical dominance of Mercedes.

"His (Hamilton's) timing is really good," Montoya told the German broadcaster RTL. "He always seems to be in the right car at the right time and he benefits from that."

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone believes Hamilton and Mercedes' current dominance is a big problem, as it has robbed the sport of its unpredictability.

"Now, we know who is going to win and be second, third and fourth," he told the German broadcaster ZDF in a joint interview with former FIA president Max Mosley.

"It's an engineers' championship (now), more or less. I'm not saying that Lewis is not a super driver, but he is given a hell of a lot of help. I'd like to see him in a GP2 car," Ecclestone added.

"I'm not saying he wouldn't win, but it would be interesting."

Ecclestone and Mosley may want Cosworth back but they cannot compete against the big budgets of the car manufacturers like Mercedes
Ecclestone and Mosley may want Cosworth back but Cosworth cannot compete against the big budgets of the car manufacturers like Mercedes

Ecclestone, Mosley want Cosworth back in F1
(GMM) The German broadcaster ZDF has published a joint interview involving F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and his old sparring partner Max Mosley.

It has reignited speculation as to what the pair might be up to, especially as one source believes Briton Mosley, although long since succeeded by Todt as FIA president, plans to visit a grand prix in the near future.

In the interview, Ecclestone and Mosley railed against the current regulations, advocated a budget cap and said the need to wrestle back control of the sport from engine makers like Mercedes and Ferrari is "acute".

"F1 was built on people like Frank Williams," said Mosley, "who (decades ago) had an independent engine supplier in Cosworth and then Ferrari came and raced with them, sometimes successfully and sometimes unsuccessfully.

"But I think the one factor that built formula one into what it is now, apart from Bernie's effort, is the Cosworth engine."

And in yet another interview, with the Independent newspaper, Ecclestone suggested that Ferrari and Mercedes – for instance by refusing to work with Red Bull – are in effect holding the sport to ransom.

"That's exactly what the situation is," he told the F1 business journalist Christian Sylt. "We need an independent engine supplier. I've been on about this now for a year and a half."

The problem, however, is that F1's current rules are protecting Mercedes and Ferrari's dominance, while Ecclestone's stance is not being backed by Todt.

"Jean is a bit different to Max," Bernie told ZDF.

"He's very worried about upsetting people, and we know that it is impossible for everybody to be happy.

"When Max wanted to get something done, if one or two people were unhappy, that's how it was," he explained.

Mosley, sitting next to Ecclestone, agreed that the status quo has put F1 "in the hands of the manufacturers", who are running the sport at "board level".

"(Mercedes') Mr. Zetsche can talk to (Ferrari's) Mr. Marchionne or (Renault's) Mr. Ghosn — then they control formula one," said Mosley. "You don't control formula one.

"At that point, the need for an independent engine supplier becomes acute."

Ecclestone wants to go one step further, resurrecting the old V8 engine formula — even though that plan was voted down by the engine manufacturers in the Geneva meeting last week.

But the F1 supremo told Sylt: "I don't think we should get consent from the teams. I think we should just do it and say to them 'If you don't like it you can go to arbitration'."

That sort of behavior would upset the grandee teams, who in the past have threatened to quit the sport or even set up a rival world championship.

Mosley, however, said F1 must stare down those threats and "be prepared to call their bluff and tell them 'If you want to go, don't slam the door behind you'."

Jean Todt says F1 engine manufacturers have no interest in reducing costs. F1 is an R&D engineering endeavor
Jean Todt says F1 engine manufacturers have no interest in reducing costs. F1 is an R&D engineering endeavor for them

Engine manufacturers 'not interested' in reducing costs – Todt
(GMM) The only real problem with today's engine regulations is the cost, according to FIA president Jean Todt.

In a joint interview with German broadcaster ZDF, however, Bernie Ecclestone and Todt's predecessor Max Mosley painted a very different picture.

There are rumors that a parallel bi-turbo V6 formula could soon arrive, and F1 supremo Ecclestone is even talking about reviving the old screaming V8s.

But Todt is totally unconvinced that the current regulations are broken.

"It is true that one of the teams (Mercedes) has done a better job with the new power units," he told Finnish journalists this week.

"But another manufacturer (Ferrari) is now quite close, and I believe the others will catch up as well. It is only a matter of time," the Finnish broadcaster MTV quoted Todt as saying during a visit to Helsinki.

"I think at the moment the main problem is the price of the engines for customer teams. It is too expensive," argues the Frenchman.

"I have asked the manufacturers to consider reducing the price, but they do not seem very interested in considering the matter," revealed Todt.

"But we need to come up with other solutions that work better."

Former F1 race winner Juan Pablo Montoya agrees with Todt that, eventually, manufacturers like Renault and Honda will catch up with their faster rivals.

"I think with a little time and patience, Honda will come back and do a good job," he told the German broadcaster RTL.

"You can't expect that they are going to be good straight away when the others have been there for years," Montoya added. "This is only their (Honda's) first year."

Montoya opposed to closed cockpits. Don't shed any tears when the next one dies, they knew the risks
Montoya opposed to closed cockpits. Don't shed any tears when the next one dies, they knew the risks

Montoya opposed to covering cockpits
(GMM) Juan Pablo Montoya says he is opposed to the idea of covering the cockpits of open-wheel racing cars.

Recent deaths in formula one (Jules Bianchi) and IndyCar (Justin Wilson) have ramped up calls for cockpit canopies, covers or cages.

Colombian Montoya is a race winner in both categories, and this year finished runner-up in the IndyCar championship, where Wilson lost his life in August after being struck on the head from flying debris.

But Montoya thinks the idea of covering open-wheel cars is wrong.

"If someone can't handle the danger," he told the German broadcaster RTL, "maybe you shouldn't be racing.

"Everybody out there knows that risk is always a part of it. It is just part of being a racing driver.

"No one wants to see someone get hurt, but that's just part of reality," Montoya added.

Ecclestone probably telling Horner I'll sue you if you leave F1
Is Ecclestone telling Horner I'll sue you if you leave F1?

Ecclestone could sue Red Bull over F1 exit
(GMM) Red Bull's rivals, and even F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, have admitted their sympathy for the former champions is low amid the engine supply crisis.

Having terminated the deal with Renault prematurely, the energy drink company is saying it will pull both of its teams out of the sport if manufacturers Mercedes or Ferrari do not bail them out.

However, Red Bull committed contractually to stay in F1 until at least 2020, resulting in extra payments and places on the F1 board and rule-making strategy group.

So if they do go, Ecclestone says he could sue.

"Red Bull would stand up in court and say 'Yes, we have a commitment, but we haven't got an engine'," the almost 85-year-old told the Independent newspaper.

"My argument would be 'You signed the contract to compete. You should have made sure when you signed the contract that you had an engine'," Ecclestone was quoted by F1 business journalist Christian Sylt.

Indeed, while it is Renault's performance that might have precipitated the split, it is Red Bull's months and years of carping that burned the bridges of a potential reconciliation.

Red Bull's relationship with rival teams is also strained.

"We have had a long history with them because we got them into the sport and had 10 years cooperation," Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn told British television Sky.

"But if you look at the last few years, they have really been getting away with so much, which is not in agreement with the others.

"They have changed a lot, maybe success has made them change that much, but I would say communication is not that high," she added.

"To answer the question, they have to live with what they get now. We've done that for so many years so why can't they now?" said Kaltenborn.

Williams' technical boss Pat Symonds commented: "I pretty much agree.

"It is a difficult situation for them and maybe they haven't handled it as well as they might have done and I'm sure that is what is antagonizing some fans," he said.

"I remember my father used to say 'When you lose say nothing and when you win say even less', and maybe that is a motto we should all abide by."

Dieter Zetsche spent 70 million to make 50 million
Dieter Zetsche spent £77 million to make £50 million with their silly high tech quiet engines that 0.01% of F1 fans want

Bernie Ecclestone to hand out £50m in 'foolish' Mercedes gamble
Formula One’s chief executive Bernie Ecclestone regrets offering a £50million prize pot to Mercedes this season and has also threatened to force teams back to using V8 engines next year.

Ecclestone challenged the reigning F1 champions to replicate their 2014 success, believing the feat would be too difficult in the current field but Mercedes secured a successive Constructors’ World Championship last week courtesy of Lewis Hamilton’s routine victory in Russia.

Hamilton's 20th race win in the past two seasons, combined with team-mate Nico Rosberg’s eight, triggered Ecclestone’s payment having easily surpassed the required tally.

‘It was stupidity really, when I said that if they could achieve what Red Bull achieved, which was two consecutive championships and winning 21 races, then they got paid for it,’ admitted Ecclestone to The Times.

‘It was a bit foolish, but I thought Red Bull had done something pretty special and it would be hard for anyone to follow that. But Mercedes did and they will get paid at the end of the year, just as I promised I would.’

The sport’s heavy spenders will welcome the vast prize kitty, as the German manufacturer has racked up a £77m deficit whilst pursuing another title.

Meanwhile Ecclestone risks a backlash from the grid, suggesting he will try to force teams back to using V8 engines in 2016.

The current ‘greener’ V6 engines were only introduced last year and consume much less fuel that previous models.

However the environmental change hasn’t appeased dedicated fans who have complained that the V6s have enabled Mercedes to stroll to the title and lack the same historic high-pitch screech from past F1 cars.

The teams would need to give consent to such an instant and significant change as the current engine regulations are in place until the end of 2020.

Furthermore, switching back to V8s would be a huge financial drain for the manufacturers, having invested hundreds of millions of pounds in their development, but Ecclestone is clearly set on a reversal.

‘I don’t think we should get consent from the teams. I think we should just do it and say to them,’ the F1 chief told The Independent.

‘If you don’t like it you can go to arbitration. We could get the V8s back next year. People can build them in no time so we ought to do it.’

Hamilton is currently 66 points ahead of nearest rival Sebastian Vettel in the title race, with just four races on the calendar remaining, and there is an argument that a return to the previous engines could spark the competition back into life in 2016, especially as it is evidently taking time for teams to adapt to the V6s.

‘This engine shouldn’t have been that complicated, to be honest with you,’ added Ecclestone. ‘It was only when the engineers got hold of it that it became complicated. The product is not fit for the purpose.’

Hamilton could wrap up his third world title by reaching the top of the podium at the United States Grand Prix on Sunday in Austin Texas, depending on Vettel and Rosberg’s positioning. Daily Mail

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