Latest F1 news on brief – Monday

  • FIA President and former Ferrari boss Jean Todt OK after quake

    Todt unhurt in Nepal earthquake

  • Schumacher's son wins Formula 4 race
  • Hakkinen not sure Ferrari should keep Raikkonen
  • Mercedes denies Hamilton has signed 2016 deal
  • Sauber set for more legal trouble
  • F4 figure questions Vettel 'patron' role
  • Perez expects to 'suffer' in Barcelona
  • Montezemolo denies calling for Ecclestone axe
  • Rosberg not focusing on title situation
  • European investigation into F1 unlikely – source
  • Williams reveals more than $50m loss

Todt unhurt in Nepal earthquake
(GMM) FIA president Jean Todt has emerged unscathed from a massive earthquake that killed thousands in Nepal on Saturday.

The Frenchman was heading the governing body's Asia-Pacific Regional Congress in the capital Kathmandu when the 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck.

"All members of the FIA party and congress delegates are safe and accounted for," said the FIA in a statement.

Italy's Autosprint said that while the hotel that hosted the summit was damaged it otherwise withstood the impact, and Todt and his party faced "many obstacles to be able to leave" the devastated region.

Mick Schumacher
Mick Schumacher

Schumacher's son wins Formula 4 race
(GMM) Mick Schumacher won a race during his debut weekend in the FIA-sanctioned German Formula 4 series.

"It's just amazing to win a race in my first 'formula' event," the shy 16-year-old son of the legendary Michael Schumacher said at Oschersleben.

The victory will only ramp up the already huge media interest in the young German, who until now has been racing with the surname 'Junior' or 'Betsch'.

Now, however, he has the same name, the "same sponsors, same manager, same helmet supplier" as his famous father, the major German daily Die Welt observed.

Nonetheless, Schumacher's manager Sabine Kehm is carefully guarding the privacy of her young new charge, just as she has handled the aftermath of his father's skiing accident and brain injuries since late 2013.

Welt recounts one moment on the weekend when a fan asked Mick for an autograph, to which Kehm replied: "I'm sorry."

Mick has "No interviews, no appearances at press conferences, no profiles on social networks," the newspaper summarized.

Indeed, Schumacher Jr is backed by his father's long-time sponsor Deutsche Vermogensberatung, but a company spokesman said: "We expect nothing from Mick.

"No results, no appearances with our company logo, nothing," he insisted.

Meanwhile, McLaren driver Jenson Button finished the London Marathon on Sunday with a personal best time of 2 hours, 52 minutes.

"Not bad for a racing driver!" he wrote on the GPS-based social network Strava.

And world championship leader Lewis Hamilton headed to Rome in the past days to film a cameo appearance for the forthcoming Ben Stiller blockbuster Zoolander 2.

Mike Haillonen throws countryman under the bus
Mike Hakkinen throws countryman under the bus

Hakkinen not sure Ferrari should keep Raikkonen
(GMM) Mika Hakkinen is not sure he would advise Ferrari to keep his countryman Kimi Raikkonen beyond 2015.

Finn Raikkonen, who replaced Hakkinen at McLaren some 13 years ago, is currently pushing to be retained by Ferrari and in Bahrain finished second behind Lewis Hamilton.

But when asked about Ferrari's deliberations, Hakkinen said: "At this stage, it is difficult to analyze whether this would be the right or wrong decision for them."

Today, 46-year-old Hakkinen is a part of Finn Valtteri Bottas' management team, and the Williams driver is often referred to as a logical successor to Raikkonen at Ferrari.

While Raikkonen impressed in Bahrain, so too did Hakkinen's 25-year-old charge Bottas, as he resisted late-race pressure from top Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel.

"Valtteri showed how well he can handle the pressure," Hakkinen told his sponsor Hermes in an interview.

"It was exactly the sort of strong nerves that drivers need in the fight for world championships," he insisted.

As for Raikkonen's race to second place after a fallow period for the 2007 world champion, Hakkinen remarked: "Kimi drove the race as he should have.

"We already know what Kimi's speed and talent is. A very experienced driver like him must regularly be showing the performance that could be seen in Bahrain," he added.

Mercedes denies Hamilton has signed 2016 deal
(GMM) Mercedes has denied reports suggesting Lewis Hamilton has finally signed his long-awaited contract extension.

Germany's Sport Bild said the reigning world champion and 2015 championship leader has now signed up until 2018, with an option to stay for a further two years until 2020.

If he does stay the full five years, the publication estimated the 30-year-old Briton will earn in excess of EUR 175 million.

Team chairman Niki Lauda, however, would not confirm the news.

"I cannot comment on that," he said. "Until nothing is official, I can't say anything. I have to play by the rules."

A Mercedes spokesman also issued a denial, saying the report is "not right".

But Hamilton insisted a deal, although still "not signed", is "about to take place".

"I want to have it all done by the next race in Barcelona," he is quoted by Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

He played down the persistent rumors about a switch to Ferrari.

"I can hardly imagine driving a car other than a Mercedes," said Hamilton. "You should never say never, and I never have done that in my whole life, but I would be very happy to drive for Mercedes until the end of my career."

To Sport Bild, he continued: "The relationship that I have with Mercedes is like a marriage. And now you're asking me whether I actually prefer the brunette.

"My heart is with Mercedes," Hamilton added.

Sauber set for more legal trouble
(GMM) Sauber's legal troubles could be set to explode again next week in Spain.

Ahead of the 2015 season opener, the Swiss team found itself in a near-terminal court struggle with Giedo van der Garde.

The Dutchman ultimately escaped with a reported EUR 15 million in compensation, after Sauber unilaterally reneged on his signed and sealed 2015 race deal.

Now, Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper reports that, with a near-identical 2015 contract in his pocket, German driver Adrian Sutil is now set to take action against the Hinwil based team next week in Barcelona ahead of the Spanish grand prix.

One month ago, Sutil's manager Manfred Zimmermann told us: "The problem with Sauber has not been solved. We are still trying to solve it."

Sutil, 32, is now Williams' reserve driver.

Zimmermann told us on Monday: "Unfortunately nothing has changed. We are still in discussion with Sauber to find a solution."

Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel

F4 figure questions Vettel 'patron' role
(GMM) DTM driver Timo Scheider has questioned Sebastian Vettel's new role as a 'patron' of the Formula 4 series.

"I'm pleased to make a contribution to increasing the attraction of Formula 4," said Vettel, who knows not only F4 newcomer Mick Schumacher but also his teammate Harrison Newey, the son of Red Bull designer Adrian.

But as the FIA-sanctioned junior series kicked off at Oschersleben at the weekend, where Schumacher Jr won a race, Vettel was not there.

"I am curious to see if we do see Sebastian here" in 2015, said Scheider, a DTM driver for Audi but also now the manager of a Formula 4 team.

"PR helps Formula 4, of course, but in the end I'm only a fan of such a thing if it is implemented right.

"As long as he (Vettel) is not here in person and we don't really know what he's doing, it is of limited credibility," Scheider told Sport1.

Perez expects to 'suffer' in Barcelona
(GMM) Sergio Perez is expecting Force India to struggle in Spain next weekend.

Having earlier admitted the Silverstone based team's lack of competitiveness was affecting his motivation, Mexican Perez then had a good weekend in Bahrain, finishing eighth.

But Perez is not expecting a similar weekend in Barcelona.

"Definitely we will suffer a lot in Barcelona," he said, "as it is very demanding aerodynamically with a lot of very fast and medium-speed corners, which is where we suffer most."

Perez, 25, and teammate Nico Hulkenberg are now looking ahead to June's Austrian grand prix, where the team is aiming to launch its 'B'-spec car.

But there are rumors the car will in fact not be ready until the next race at Silverstone.

Perez admitted: "It's a very big frustration as a driver when you know that with the right car you would be winning.

"I am sure that if I had that (right) car, I would win races and fight for the championship," he added.

Perez said that while he finished a surprise eighth in Bahrain, he laments the fact that the performance was essentially overlooked.

"It's hard to explain to people that you did a great race when you are ninth or tenth," he insisted.

"But when you are two tenths a lap faster than your teammate, who is one of the best drivers in the world, and at the end you are 15 seconds in front of him, it is in fact an excellent race," Perez added.

"Obviously, it's hard for people to see that from the outside."

However, the former McLaren driver is hoping the right people in the paddock do recognize his talents eventually.

"In my five years in F1 I have never had a winning car or even a car capable of being on the podium," he said, "but I made it to the podium four times.

"Some drivers reach the top quickly, for others it takes longer, but I hope to show my talent – whether in this car or not – and it opens the door for me to reach the top of F1," the Mexican added.

Montezemolo denies calling for Ecclestone axe
(GMM) Luca di Montezemolo has denied calling for Bernie Ecclestone to step down as F1 supremo.

The former Ferrari president had been quoted by German monthly Manager Magazin last week as urging F1 owner CVC to "engage a management team" that prioritizes "finance, marketing and the digital world".

Some publications interpreted the Italian's comments as a signal to chief executive Ecclestone, 84, to step down for the good of the sport.

"I never said that Bernie Ecclestone needs to step aside," Montezemolo insisted to Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"He knows formula one like no other, he should remain," the 67-year-old clarified, "to ensure a good handover.

But "At his side he needs top people: experts in finance, marketing and digital," Montezemolo added.

Rosberg not focusing on title because he knows he cannot beat teammate Hamilton so he has zero hope of winning the title
Rosberg not focusing on title because he knows he cannot beat teammate Hamilton so he has zero hope of winning the title

Rosberg not focusing on title situation
(GMM) Nico Rosberg insists he is not focusing on the championship standings at present.

After just four of the nineteen races this year, the German is already 27 points behind his Mercedes teammate and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton.

It has triggered suggestions Rosberg is no longer capable of mounting the sort of season-long championship challenge to Hamilton as he did last year.

"Time is already running out for Rosberg this season," agreed former F1 driver and BBC commentator Allan McNish.

"If he wants to mount a challenge for the championship, he has to turn the tables on Lewis Hamilton sharpish.

"Fortunately, there is now a decent break before the next race in Spain for him to have a think about what to do next," McNish added.

29-year-old Rosberg has told Auto Motor und Sport that he is dealing with his current situation by taking each race at a time.

"I have been looking at the championship standings with one eye," he is quoted as saying. "But it's not my focus.

"I just want to have some good races," he added.

Rosberg will also be concentrating on beating Hamilton in qualifying, as he suggested his Mercedes teammate is too easily controlling races from the front.

"He controls it easily," said Rosberg. "At the beginning of the stints he takes it easy and then he pulls it back out again.

"With the same car, you can't do anything about it."

European investigation into F1 unlikely – source
(GMM) F1 teams must lodge a formal complaint or the European Commission will not launch an investigation into the sport.

That is the claim of F1 business journalist Christian Sylt, following reported concerns about the fairness of the income distribution to the smaller teams, and their lack of representation in the powerful Strategy Group.

Concerns had also been raised about the FIA's exchange of decision-making power for a 1 per cent shareholding in the sport's commercial rights.

But Sylt and fellow journalist Kate Hewitt wrote in the Sunday Express: "A source close to the European Parliament said Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has told the teams that unless they make a formal complaint, she cannot investigate."

Sources in Brussels reportedly said teams "are considering their next course of action".

And a source told us: "They (the teams) aren't ones for rocking the boat so I guess that puts an end to it!"

Frank Williams - despite winning races recently, his team is bleeding money due to the high cost of the hybrid F1 engines that the paying customers (fans) hate
Frank Williams – despite Williams' improved form recently, his team is bleeding money due to the high cost of the hybrid F1 engines that the paying customers (fans) hate

Williams reveals more than $50m loss
(GMM) Williams has revealed it recorded a more than $50 million loss in 2014.

The Grove team, listed on the Frankfurt stock exchange, enjoyed a surge in performance last year following a long slump, but took a financial hit due to "lower revenue and higher costs".

In a statement, Williams explained that it had embarked on a "turnaround strategy" in 2013 "following a number of years of deteriorating performance".

"Consequently, and as anticipated, 2014 was a year of transition," the team admitted, due in part to lower income and sponsorship as a result of finishing a woeful ninth in the 2013 world championship.

Higher costs, Williams added, were due to "the introduction of the new hybrid power unit into formula one".

But the team said that due to its strong results on the track last year, "that success will be reflected in increased commercial rights and sponsorship income this year".

"Therefore, the financial results for 2015 will be materially more favorable than 2014," it added.

Chief executive Mike O'Driscoll said: "In 2014 we made very good progress, investing significantly in people, facilities and technology which we believe will provide a solid foundation for the future."

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