Latest F1 news in brief – Saturday

  • Red Bull boss might buy F1 from CVC and then put an end to the Mercedes snoozefest

    Hockenheim warns Ecclestone of contract 'consequences'

  • Sutil's legal issues with Sauber 'not resolved' – manager
  • Manipulating excitement would kill F1 – Lauda
  • Susie Wolff 'disappointed' with Sutil appointment
  • CVC would sell F1 to Red Bull – Ecclestone
  • Next hurdle for Manor is 107pc qualifying rule
  • Alonso role meant no IndyCar for Magnussen
  • Schumacher's stepbrother on Germanwings passenger list

Hockenheim warns Ecclestone of contract 'consequences'
(GMM) Hockenheim has hit back at Bernie Ecclestone's suggestion that Germany might not return to the F1 calendar in 2016.

The country has been controversially axed from this year's schedule, but that was essentially because of the ownership crisis at the sport's other German circuit, the Nurburgring.

F1 supremo Ecclestone tried to save the 2015 race by negotiating with Hockenheim, but ultimately the parties did not agree on the financial details.

But as per the original alternating scheme with the Nurburgring, Hockenheim is now contractually scheduled to return in 2016.

When asked about that deal on Friday, however, Ecclestone refused to confirm Germany's 2016 return, notwithstanding the existence of a contract.

"It doesn't make a difference," said the 84-year-old Briton. "A lot of people have a contract."

In light of Ecclestone's comments, Hockenheim boss Georg Seiler said: "We have contracts for 2016 and 2018.

"If these are not met," he told the Mannheimer Morgen newspaper, "there are consequences."

As for the troubled Nurburgring, circuit official Carsten Schumacher refused to rule out an eventual return to the calendar.

"I think it is possible in principle to host formula one in Germany," he told SID news agency. "But not with the current conditions.

"The sport needs to be attractive enough to bring back 80,000 people to the track. If that's the case again, you can finance the (race) fees."

Schumacher also hit back at Ecclestone's claim that the main problem with the German grand prix is the race organizers.

Rather, he said "all the stakeholders" have a role to play.

"I do not think it is right to assign responsibility alone to the organizers," the Nurburgring official insisted.

Sutil's legal issues with Sauber 'not resolved' – manager
(GMM) Adrian Sutil's legal dispute with Sauber is still ongoing.

Late last year, although both the German driver as well as Giedo van der Garde had already signed contracts for 2015, the Swiss F1 team decided to pair Felipe Nasr with Marcus Ericsson this year.

Dutchman van der Garde pressed his case hard, winning in a Swiss arbitration court and then in Melbourne, legally securing his place on the 2015 grid.

Ultimately, Sauber reportedly settled the matter with the 29-year-old and his backers for EUR 15 million.

Handling his contract breach much more quietly, however, has been Adrian Sutil.

The 32-year-old German, a veteran of 128 grand prix starts, said little over the winter but specialist publications insist he is pursuing Sauber legally.

In Malaysia, Sutil resurfaced at Williams, the competitive British team who needed an experienced reserve driver in the event Valtteri Bottas' back injuries recur.

In the meantime, the legal issues with Sauber continue.

"The matter has not been resolved," Sutil's manager Manfred Zimmermann told German media. "We are still in talks."

duh, of course I would say that. Anything to keep our advantage locked in

Manipulating excitement would kill F1 – Lauda
(GMM) Niki Lauda says Mercedes is staying out of the political debate surrounding the team's ongoing dominance of formula one.

After Melbourne, Red Bull – threatening even to quit the sport in protest – called for drastic measures as the current rules and Mercedes' unchallenged position of superiority are "killing" the sport.

When asked about the commotion, Mercedes team chairman Lauda insisted: "To put it in a nutshell, Toto Wolff and I are concentrating on winning.

"That is why you race — to be faster than the others! Why do (Austrian skiers) Hirscher and Fenninger ski? Because they want to win.

"No one is interested in the politics in F1," he charged to Osterreich newspaper.

The argument, however, is that Mercedes is making formula one boring, so some sensible tweaks of the rules could bring the teams closer together and the races more interesting.

"I do not understand the whole discussion," Lauda answered.

"We were the best last year, so it is logical that we are still ahead in the first race of the new season.

"Now it's up to Vettel and all the others to try to bring down our lead. But you can't artificially manipulate the sport to make it more exciting.

"Once you start doing that, motor sport is dead."

Susie Wolff 'disappointed' with Sutil appointment
(GMM) Susie Wolff has admitted she is surprised and disappointed with Williams' latest signing.

Given Valtteri Bottas' back issues in Australia, Wolff – the British team's 32-year-old test and occasional Friday driver – might have expected to be nominated as the official reserve.

But media reports after Melbourne suggested it was actually the reserve driver for Williams' engine supplier Mercedes, Pascal Wehrlein, who was put on standby for Malaysia.

And then Adrian Sutil strolled through the Sepang paddock gates, dressed in Williams gear and having a seat fitting in Bottas' car, having been hurriedly signed up by the team.

"Having most recently raced during the 2014 season gives him excellent knowledge of the current generation of race car," team boss Sir Frank Williams said.

"If the need arose, he would be a solid pair of hands to race the FW37 and assist our 2015 campaign."

Sutil's appointment, however, came as a surprise to Susie Wolff.

She attends all the races, will drive on Friday mornings in Spain and Silverstone, and will test the FW37 in the post-race tests after Barcelona and Austria.

Not only that, Wolff has already driven the 2015 car, having opened Williams' running on the opening day of the Barcelona test just last month.

Regarding the Sutil news, then, she admitted: "Of course I'm disappointed. I think it was a surprise for all of us that we were not expecting," Wolff told the German broadcaster Sky.

"I respect the decision of the team," she added. "I think they wanted to have someone with more racing experience and they chose Sutil."

CVC would sell F1 to Red Bull – Ecclestone
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has welcomed reports Red Bull might be looking at buying formula one.

Some journalists have speculated there is more than meets the eye to the former world champions' mischief-making in past weeks, including bemoaning Mercedes' dominance, criticizing rules that are "killing" the sport, and threatening to quit.

Publications including Auto Motor und Sport, Blick and Osterreich have all reported rumors that Red Bull mogul and billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz is looking to sell Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso and "take over from CVC as the main shareholder of formula one".

"I would be delighted," F1 supremo Ecclestone told a group of selected reporters in Malaysia.

"They (CVC) would be as well. Their business is buying and selling companies, so if somebody comes along with a good offer then I'm sure they'd sell. They'd have to," said the 84-year-old.

Christian Horner, a traditional ally of Ecclestone's and team boss of the premier Red Bull team, said on Friday: "I mean, Red Bull don't run formula one."

He had been asked by a journalist at Sepang what Red Bull would do to change F1 if it did promote the sport.

"Red Bull promotes events, it promotes championships and has done so successfully," said Horner, explaining that he thinks the sporting and technical rules "are driving the costs far too high".

"I think to get those under control needs a fundamental look at what formula one is and what does formula one need to be in the future," he added.

Next hurdle for Manor is 107pc qualifying rule
(GMM) After the silence of Melbourne, Manor finally got its engines running in Malaysia.

The resurrected Marussia team cited software problems two weeks ago, but were warned by Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA that another weekend spent idling in the pits would not be tolerated.

Whether or not the sponsorless team actually goes racing at Sepang, however, is another matter.

Under the watchful eye of new owner Stephen Fitzpatrick, drivers Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi got up and running in practice, albeit a long way off the pace.

It means both drivers will come perilously close to not satisfying the FIA's 107 per cent qualifying rule, which could once again leave them in the pits on Sunday.

Briton Stevens admitted part of his program on Friday was keeping a close eye on the 107pc cut-off.

"I'm particularly pleased that my times in both sessions were inside the 107pc," he said.

Yet to get on that sort of race-worthy pace, however, is the Spanish rookie Merhi.

"My first goal is to qualify for the race," he is quoted by the Spanish daily AS, "and also, of course, to try to be ahead of my teammate.

"We have learned a lot about the car already and should not have trouble with the 107pc," Merhi added.

Alonso substitution role meant no IndyCar for Magnussen
(GMM) Kevin Magnussen has admitted he let an opportunity to race in IndyCar this year slide when Fernando Alonso had his Barcelona testing crash.

With McLaren-Honda preferring an all-champion lineup of Alonso and Jenson Button for 2015, the Dane was relegated to the reserve role but still leaving the door open to race opportunities elsewhere.

"I looked at an option in IndyCar," the 22-year-old revealed in Malaysia, "and almost signed a contract with one of the teams, but my priority has always been formula one.

"When I replaced Fernando in Australia, IndyCar became impossible so we abandoned the idea," Magnussen is quoted by f1news.ru.

Ultimately, Magnussen's race in the place of Alonso was a big disappointment, as he qualified dead last before breaking down even before making it to the Melbourne grid on Sunday.

He is now fully committed to the reserve role. "Yes, I will come to every race," he said. "I have no other work."

Magnussen said opportunities in Le Mans sports cars, where his father Jan races a Corvette, have also dried up, as "all the seats are occupied now".

"It (Le Mans) is interesting," he admitted, "but not for now.

"Of course I want to race, but I'm very young and I won't give up. My goal is formula one, even though right now it might be a bit boring," he explained in Malaysia. "But I'm patient."

Magnussen continued: "I don't know if I will stay at McLaren in the future, or if the team will help me find a place in another team, but I believe that the role of third driver gives me the best chance."

He admitted, however, that he is not even sure if he will get to drive the MP4-30 again in 2015.

"I hope so," said Magnussen. "I don't know how many days, but hopefully one or two."

Schumacher's stepbrother on Germanwings passenger list
(GMM) Michael Schumacher's step-brother was on the passenger list of the ill-fated Germanwings flight, it has emerged.

The Berliner Kurier newspaper reported that 36-year-old Sebastian Stahl, a racing driver in a touring car series, was in Barcelona for a photographic shoot before returning to Germany.

But Stahl told the newspaper: "Yes, I am alive. It is crazy how many friends and people I have said that to in the last few hours.

"I came back 24 hours early on the same Germanwings plane from Barcelona to Cologne.

"I had incredible luck," said Stahl, the son of Rolf Schumacher's latest wife.

"Because on Sunday it was pouring with rain in Barcelona, we did consider extending for a day, so I probably would have re-booked on the flight (9525). We flew over the very same mountains."

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