Latest F1 news in brief – Saturday

  • Ecclestone – I can't sell this crap product F1 has become

    F1 rules contributed to Canada spin – Raikkonen

  • Mateschitz will not 'give up' – Lauda
  • Michelin wants F1 to be 'extreme sport'
  • McLaren almost shelved new 'short nose'
  • Ecclestone struggling to sell 'crap product'
  • Todt to watch Mick Schumacher race at Spa
  • Leimer turns hopes to Silverstone
  • Perez hits back at 'unprofessional' jibe

F1 rules contributed to Canada spin – Raikkonen
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen says Ferrari has made some tweaks in the wake of his spin in Canada recently.

The spin cost the Finn a sure podium, and incurred the wrath of his boss Maurizio Arrivabene, just as Raikkonen's future in red is being hotly debated.

"Ferrari has not said exactly what happened," fellow Finn Mika Hakkinen commented last week, "but they probably should, to stop the speculation."

In Austria, it was Raikkonen who did the explaining.

"We knew pretty quickly after the grand prix why the spin happened," he is quoted by Speed Week.

"There were some issues that we found, but it makes no sense to dwell on it. It was just an unfortunate situation that cost us a place, but it was not a disaster."

The 2007 world champion did, however, confirm that Ferrari has made some tweaks to the engine mapping, as the spin occurred just after a pitstop, when a different setting is used.

"There are some rules," said Raikkonen, about changing engine settings "after the start and after leaving the pits, so we could not change that.

"But there are still some things that we can change. The fact that we know what can happen is already a help to stop it happening again," he added.

Dietrich will not give up is the claim of Lauda
Dietrich will not give up is the claim of Lauda

Mateschitz will not 'give up' – Lauda
(GMM) Dietrich Mateschitz is not poised to quit formula one.

That is the claim of fellow Austrian and F1 legend Niki Lauda, as speculation about Red Bull's future on the grid swirls in the 'Red Bull Ring' paddock.

Lauda himself is featured in the latest, provocative edition of Red Bull's 'Red Bulletin' magazine entitled 'What's wrong with F1?'.

The Mercedes team chairman railed against the status quo and warned there is "not much time left" to fix the problems before fans and drivers abandon the sport.

Just before the magazine's release, billionaire Mateschitz warned again that he could pull his two teams out of F1, notwithstanding his commitment until 2020.

"How many teams with contracts left before us?" the Red Bull mogul pointed out.

Lauda, though, does not think Mateschitz will quit.

"Didi Mateschitz is not someone who gives up," he told Kleine Zeitung newspaper.

"In fact, he'll work even harder to try to find solutions," Lauda insisted.

Although Lauda himself has been one of those complaining loudest about the cars and the rules, he also suggested there is a limit to how negative those in the paddock should be.

"You can't only be negative," he said. "If you are not satisfied, then you should install another engine instead."

Lauda is undoubtedly referring to speculation Red Bull could ditch its works Renault power and switch instead to 'customer' Ferrari units.

Max Verstappen, one of the four Renault-powered cars on the grid, wouldn't mind if Mateschitz did sign a deal with Maranello. "That would be nice," he smiled to De Telegraaf newspaper.

And Lauda said Ferrari would not be Mateschitz's only option.

"There are enough engines to pick from," he insisted.

Simply complaining about the rules until rule changes are made, Lauda argued, is not the right option.

"You cannot change the rules just because you can't keep up," he said. "All the whining does annoy me.

"It is their right, but it gives you nothing."

Lauda even said the decline in ticket sales for the Red Bull-promoted Austrian grand prix is no reason to conclude that F1 is fundamentally broken.

"It is logical that interest is down after the first year," he said.

Michelin wants F1 to be 'extreme sport'
(GMM) Michelin has hit back at Bernie Ecclestone's claim it would not be good for F1 if the French marque won the sport's 2017 tire contract.

F1's current supplier Pirelli confirmed on Friday that it is going head-to-head with Michelin for the new deal.

"There are definitely only two bidders," said Pirelli's Paul Hembery in Austria.

Michelin's application surprised many insiders, as the company left F1 a decade ago when the sport decided to end the 'tire war'.

Indeed, motor sport director Pascal Couasnon has confirmed to Speed Week that Michelin also ruled out competing for the last two contracts for that very reason.

But now, Michelin has another plan.

"Right now, drivers can only show 60 to 80 per cent of their potential," he said. "They are afraid of damaging the tires.

"But that is not what we see as the respectful treatment of the issue of tires. We want an extreme sport in which everyone gives 100 per cent," Couasnon said.

"We want to improve the image of the tire in F1," he added.

"We do not like this image of having disposable tires in formula one. At the same time I hear the accusation that we (Michelin) would build rock-hard tires. That's not true.

"Le Mans proves that we build tires that are very durable, but thanks to their adhesive strength still allow for a good show.

"I want to emphasize that we have every interest in ensuring that the race for the fans is a good show, not a procession of cars with no overtaking.

"We want interesting grands prix," Couasnon insisted.

He also reiterated that Michelin is asking for the move to 18-inch tires, in line with "other racing series" and to ensure the "real transfer of knowledge from the race track to the road".

Pirelli, on the other hand, has a different approach, with its boss Hembery saying the company is willing to deliver the sort of tires formula one asks for.

In that way, he hit back at Michelin's 'conditional' application to take over from 2017.

"The example would be an engine manufacturer saying 'We propose a five-liter V8' and then acting surprised when the sport says 'We actually want a 1.6 turbo'. It's the same discussion isn't it?" Hembery told reporters in Austria.

"If you want to do 20-inch we'll do 20-inch. If you want to do tires to last the whole race we'll do that. Tell us what you want and we'll do it," he declared.

McLaren almost shelved new 'short nose'
(GMM) McLaren's all-new 'short nose' was almost shelved at the scene of the Austrian grand prix.

The British team reportedly tried and failed to pass the FIA's mandatory crash testing with the new concept in the weeks leading up to its debut on Friday.

But even with the crash tests finally passed, the nose almost had to be shelved in Austria, the German publication Auto Motor und Sport reports.

Indeed, the FIA's technical chief Jo Bauer was spotted in the McLaren-Honda garage on Friday.

"We still have some paperwork to do before we can use it," confirmed a hurried team boss Eric Boullier at the time.

It emerges that the monocoque fitted to the short nose when it finally passed the crash tests was a different version to the one being raced in Austria.

Paddock rumors indicate the 'crash test' monocoque was a special lightweight one that the British team wants to debut at home at Silverstone in a fortnight.

With a bundle of paperwork, McLaren had to prove that the short nose would also have passed the crash tests with the original, Austria-spec monocoque.

Boullier admits the Woking based team has pushed hard with car development in 2015.

"It's a new car," he said in Austria. "The only thing we haven't changed is the sidepods."

However, McLaren will not shine in Austria. Honda is still grappling with poor reliability, and on Sunday Fernando Alonso will be at the back of the grid and also serving mid-race penalties due to taking a fifth engine.

But he is at the wheel of McLaren's car improvements and will then return to action in the post-race test next week, saying of the trip to Austria: "This (race weekend) is another test for us.

"We will see what we can do on Saturday and in qualifying, but the (grid) position is irrelevant," Alonso told Spanish reporters.

"We take this whole weekend as a test, as the car has many improvements and we have a lot to experiment with.

"If we finish on Sunday with some answers, then everything will have gone well for us," he added.

Ecclestone could sell anyone a used car, but even he can't sell this crap
Ecclestone could sell anyone a used car, but even he can't sell this crap. The scream is gone from F1 and so is the thrill. And with the Mercedes parade at the front, all that's missing are the floats and marching bands.

Ecclestone struggling to sell 'crap product'
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone says he is struggling to sell a "crap product" to the public in the new era of formula one.

The F1 supremo has said consistently that the 'power unit' regulations are a major reason for the decline in popularity of the sport he has ruled for decades.

"I was talking to some engineers the other day and I told them that I was always pretty good at selling used cars, and I still am," Ecclestone, 84, is quoted in an interview published in French by the AFP news agency.

"But I told them they have given me a crap product to sell," he insisted.

F1 legend Alain Prost said recently that the sport's biggest problem is that the overly complex rules of today were designed by those very same engineers.

"Absolutely. 100 per cent," Ecclestone agreed.

"If I was running a team, I would not let one of my staff tell me how I should do it."

The problem, however, is that Ecclestone is no longer the benevolent 'dictator', and F1 rules are devised in consultation and agreement with the teams.

"The problem is they (the teams) don't know what they want," Ecclestone insisted. "They don't have a clue. It's good for them to have dreams, to have their meetings, but if they have ideas, they have to implement them.

"They talk about customer cars, but when you come to the question of how to do it, there is a problem. So it will never happen," he said.

As far as Ecclestone is concerned, however, the issue of 'selling' F1 to the public is simple.

"All people want is to be entertained," he said. "We are, first and foremost, an entertainment company. But today, when Lewis (Hamilton) starts a race, we already know he will win by 20 seconds."

Finally, Ecclestone played down the risk of an investigation into the governance of formula one, insisting: "I still have not heard from the European Union."

He says the smallest teams should run their teams better rather than "complain".

"I had a team for 18 years," said the Briton. "I financed it myself and I didn't expect someone else to give me money.

"Those guys (the small teams) would be in the same situation they are now in formula one if they were doing anything else. They are not able to manage their companies," Ecclestone charged.

Jean Todt
Jean Todt

Todt to watch Mick Schumacher race at Spa
(GMM) FIA president Jean Todt will reportedly watch Mick Schumacher race at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend.

Mick, the 16-year-old son of F1 legend Michael Schumacher, is racing with a broken hand this weekend as his first season in single seaters continues in 2015.

His father is synonymous with Spa, a fabled F1 circuit in Belgium, having made his F1 debut there in 1991, won his first grand prix a year later, and secured his record seventh world title at Spa in 2004.

Schumacher was even made an honorary citizen in 2012, Bild newspaper reports.

But this weekend, it will be Schumacher's friend and old Ferrari boss Todt watching over Mick as he makes his own debut at Spa in the German Formula 4 category, the newspaper added.

Michael Schumacher's protege Sebastian Vettel, however, urged the racing world to ease the pressure on young Mick.

"Mick is doing a very good job," the Ferrari driver told Kolner Express newspaper, "but he should not have so much pressure on him and people already talking about formula one.

"That's still a long way ahead," Vettel added.

Leimer turns hopes to Silverstone
(GMM) Fabio Leimer has his fingers crossed for a Friday practice debut at Silverstone in two weeks.

The 2013 GP2 champion had hoped to make his bow in Austria, having signed up as Manor's new reserve and Friday driver just ahead of the recent Canadian grand prix.

Swiss Leimer, 26, did travel to the Red Bull Ring, but ultimately only for checks with the FIA as he progresses his application for a super license.

"For 40 minutes," he told Blick newspaper, "they checked my data, performed memory tests and coordination exercises."

Leimer was hoping to drive on Friday, but his manager had admitted in Canada that it would depend on their raising of sufficient sponsorship.

Taking part in the post-race test at the Red Bull Ring next week had also been a possibility, but without Leimer's backing, Manor will now not run at all.

"Unfortunately I can't drive here," Leimer admitted. "Now I'm hoping for Silverstone, but at the moment it's best just to wait."

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez

Perez hits back at 'unprofessional' jibe
(GMM) Sergio Perez has hit back at claims he was "totally unprofessional" and "a slob".

A month ago, the Mexican's former Formula BMW chief Peter Mucke, who also worked with Sebastian Vettel, Robert Kubica and many others, looked back on Perez's days as a teenager.

"His apartment in Berlin looked like a battlefield. He wrecked my rental car when he came home drunk from a party. He did everything you cannot do," Mucke had said.

But Mucke claimed Perez could afford to take that attitude, given his strong financial backing by Carlos Slim and Telmex.

"He never would have reached the top if not for that money. With his talent alone, he would have been out after that one year in BMW," he told Spox.

Speaking ahead of the Austrian grand prix, however, the now 25-year-old Perez said Mucke's comments had left him "really surprised".

"I mean, I was 15 years old then and not even driving on the road or drinking," he told the Austrian publication Laola1.

Explaining Mucke's comments, Perez added: "I think he just wanted to be in the media, so that people talk about him.

"He did nothing for me and didn't even speak a word of English, so I couldn't even talk to him. Other team bosses in formula 3 or GP2 had a much greater impact on my career," he insisted.

Perez made his F1 debut in 2011 for Sauber, and was then signed up by McLaren in 2013.

"I came to McLaren at the wrong time," he said, "which was really a shame as they have a great history."

But the Woking team is having even tougher times now, having switched to works Honda power for 2015.

"If you look at where they are now, it will take several years before they are right at the front again," Perez, who currently drives for Force India, predicted.

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