Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Fernando Alonso leaving the hospital two weeks ago

    Alonso travelling to Malaysia 'in coming hours' – report

  • Kaltenborn admits 'mistakes' in van der Garde saga
  • German GP axe 'just sad' – Lauda
  • New fuel-flow controversy brewing – reports
  • Young athletes is 'global trend' – Verstappen
  • Bottas 'impatient' for Malaysia return – manager
  • Williams urges more fan research to develop F1

Alonso travelling to Malaysia 'in coming hours' – report
(GMM) Fernando Alonso on Sunday was cleared by FIA-appointed doctors to travel to the scene of this weekend's Malaysian grand prix.

The Spaniard's visit to Cambridge University to sit with the three specialists came exactly a month after his mysterious Barcelona crash, which caused him to miss the 2015 season opener in Melbourne.

Now, widespread international media reports say Alonso, 33, has cleared the first of three hurdles on the road to his Sepang comeback.

The Spanish sports daily AS cited "sources" close to the double world champion as saying Alonso has been given the green light to travel to Malaysia.

"It is private so I cannot confirm or deny it," his manager Luis Garcia-Abad told the BBC on Sunday, "but I have no doubts he will go to Malaysia as planned."

The next hurdle to clear will involve FIA medical delegate Jean-Charles Piette, who will administer his 45-minute 'impact test' at Sepang on Thursday, in which Alonso's cognitive and reaction skills will be tested.

Alonso will also need the green light from the Malaysian circuit doctor.

Although the driver and McLaren did not comment on Sunday, those in F1 circles do now expect Alonso to make his McLaren-Honda race debut this weekend.

The Spanish reports say the FIA will summon Alonso to its official driver press conference on Thursday, during which he will be grilled by international media about the bizarre circumstances of his crash and recovery.

Spain's Diario Sport newspaper said Alonso will begin the journey to Malaysia "in the coming hours".

Referring to Alonso's crash, his girlfriend Lara Alvarez was quoted on Sunday by the El Pais newspaper: "You cannot imagine a scare like that.

"I know he's an elite athlete and it is clear there are risks, but you do not think something like that will happen."

Alvarez said she would "rather not" speak about the details of the incident.

Monisha Kaltenborn chats with Bernie Ecclestone

Kaltenborn admits 'mistakes' in van der Garde saga
(GMM) Monisha Kaltenborn has broken her silence on the Giedo van der Garde affair, admitting she made "mistakes".

The storm surrounding Sauber's Indian-born Austrian boss and co-owner in Australia recently caused some reporters to question her ongoing suitability for the job.

Now, in her first interview since the resolution of the saga with a reported EUR 15 million payment to Dutchman van der Garde, Kaltenborn admitted the explosion of the case in the Melbourne courts and paddock had been a "shock".

"When you sit in an Australian court and hear the word prison, that's a shock," the 43-year-old, who in 2012 became the first female team boss in F1 history, told the Swiss newspaper Sonntagsblick.

Kaltenborn also admitted the saga could have taken yet another twist in Melbourne had van der Garde managed to obtain his F1 super license.

"If he had received a license from the FIA," she said, "he would have tried everything to drive."

That would have unseated either Felipe Nasr, the Brazilian whose sponsor Banco do Brasil is paying for the livery colors of this year's Sauber car, or the similarly high-paying Marcus Ericsson.

Ultimately, the saga was ended when van der Garde's management and backers accepted a reported EUR 15 million compensation package from Sauber.

It is not clear whether the money was paid by the financially-struggling Hinwil based team, Nasr and Ericsson's backers, or founder Peter Sauber.

"I cannot and will not comment on that," Kaltenborn said.

However, she did admit: "Yes, I made mistakes. I was too trusting and I was punished bitterly.

"Courts do not judge by moral principles," Kaltenborn added. "For them, only written agreements apply without regard to the other circumstances."

German GP axe 'just sad' – Lauda
(GMM) Niki Lauda has described the official demise of Mercedes' home race this year as "sad".

The F1 legend and Mercedes team chairman confirmed reports that the German carmaker made efforts to save the July 19 race, as circuit promoters and Bernie Ecclestone ultimately failed to agree.

"This is just sad," Lauda told the German broadcaster RTL.

However, he refused to blame Ecclestone, even though Mercedes reportedly made an offer to promote the German grand prix this year and pay half the financial loss.

"Mercedes tried to help," said Lauda, "but it was not accepted.

"But the conditions are the same everywhere in the world. If there is no promoter in Germany that can do what the other countries manage to do to run a grand prix, then this is how it is," the plain-speaking Austrian added.

Less forgiving is fellow former F1 driver Christian Danner, who said Friday's news from the Geneva meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council was "a slap in the face for all motor sport fans in Germany".

"I find it very unfortunate that there was no institution that could have prevented this," he added.

However, spectator numbers as well as television ratings have been sharply declining within Germany in the past years.

For the 2015 season opener in Melbourne, only 1.8 million Germans tuned in to RTL's free-to-air coverage, compared with 3.1 million exactly a year ago.

The demise of the 2015 German grand prix could now hurt ratings even more.

"As the broadcasting network, we are obviously disappointed about this cancellation," said RTL Sport's Manfred Loppe.

"The German grand prix was a highlight of the racing calendar for us, so we hope strongly that this is just a one-off."

New fuel-flow controversy brewing – reports
(GMM) A new controversy surrounding F1's fuel-flow rules could be brewing.

A year has now passed since Daniel Ricciardo was disqualified from the 2014 season opener when his Red Bull-Renault was found to have breached the maximum allowed flow of fuel to his turbo V6 'power unit'.

Now, the 'fuel flow' issue is set to resurface.

Italian media reports claim F1's governing body has issued a technical directive to the teams that will come into effect at the Chinese grand prix next month.

Until now, the FIA has policed the maximum allowed fuel flow rate of 100kg per hour solely with the use of a standard fuel flow meter.

Now, the governing body reportedly wants to check pressure in other parts of the fuel system.

The FIA reportedly suspects that some teams and manufacturers are finding their way around the rule by increasing fuel flow in other areas, whilst ensuring it never exceeds 100kg/h through the actual meter.

Italy's Omnicorse suggested the trick could partly explain the step forward in 2015 taken by Mercedes and Ferrari.

It is claimed upgrading their turbo systems to withstand a maximum of 500 bar for this year might have facilitated it, whilst struggling Renault is still running at just 250 bar.

Omnicorse said the new Honda power unit, significantly de-tuned in Melbourne due to reliability problems, might also be capable of a maximum of 500 bar.

Young athletes is 'global trend' – Verstappen
(GMM) F1 is simply adjusting to the new "global trend" of younger athletes.

That is the claim of Max Verstappen, who in Melbourne shattered the old record to become the youngest race driver in the history of the sport.

The old record was held by Jaime Alguersuari, who was 19 when he made his debut in 2009.

Seven other 19-year-olds have also raced in F1, including Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. Dutchman Verstappen, however, only turned 17 last September.

His debut has therefore been highly controversial, moving the FIA to impose a minimum age of 18 for F1 drivers in 2016 and beyond.

"Everyone can have their own opinion," Verstappen, whose 43-year-old father Jos also raced in F1, told Germany's Auto Bild.

"In the end it is up to me to show that they are wrong.

"But I would say that there is a global trend of more and more young people entering high-performance sports. Real Madrid, for example, has signed a 16-year-old Norwegian," said Verstappen.

In Melbourne, Verstappen was outqualified by his 20-year-old teammate Carlos Sainz before retiring in the race.

He said he is not worried he might now echo the rookie season of his father Jos, who in 1994 debuted as a 22-year-old alongside Michael Schumacher at Benetton.

"My debut is under completely different circumstances," Max insisted.

"His teammate in 1994 was none other than Michael Schumacher, who we all know now is the most successful formula one driver of all time.

"Actually, he had no chance under those circumstances to distinguish himself. For me it's different.

"Toro Rosso and Red Bull are used to working with young drivers and developing them. So I am in good hands," said Verstappen.

Bottas 'impatient' for Malaysia return – manager
(GMM) Valtteri Bottas is "impatient" to return to the cockpit of his Williams this weekend in Malaysia.

That is the news of the Finn's manager Didier Coton, after his 25-year-old charge sat out the 2015 season opener because of a torn disc in his lower back.

Bottas travelled straight from Australia to Indonesia, where he posted on Twitter a couple of photographs of himself swimming.

"Progress is being made," he said, "and every day is a good step forward. Can't wait for Malaysia!"

And the very latest news is from his manager Coton, who posted to social media a photo of Bottas doing weight work in the gym.

The driver is "impatient to go to Malaysia", Coton said, adding that Bottas "continues his hard work, even on Sunday! All good so far!"

Mika Hakkinen, who is also a member of Bottas' management team, suggested that the driver's seat may have contributed to the injury.

"In my own career," he told the Ilta-Sanomat newspaper, "I had a lot of seats made and each was slightly different to the other.

"It is not easy to find a completely perfect seat," said Hakkinen.

Rumors suggest that if Bottas does not race in Malaysia, he will be replaced by Pascal Wehrlein, who is the reserve driver for Williams' engine supplier Mercedes.

Williams urges more fan research to develop F1
Claire Williams feels more research needs to go into gauging what fans want to see from Formula 1 to ensure it is not spending time pushing for unwanted change.

F1 is coming under increasing pressure to resonate with fans amidst falling spectator and television audience numbers in several key markets, with Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene making his opinion felt by calling for 'revolution' with more powerful cars and greater engagement with fans.

Indeed, Williams agrees that F1 needs to do more to establish a dialogue with the general public to help shape the sport's future direction, pointing out that there has been no fan survey for a number of years now.

“As a group, we probably need to do more research into what fans want and listen to what our fans want before actually doing things that maybe the fans aren't interested in," she said. “It is important to have a two-way conversation rather than pushing change for the sake of it.

“We haven't done a fan survey for a number of years. Obviously partners of teams and promoters do their own research, so it is a case of probably getting everyone together and pooling it and talking to the media, because that is probably the most direct portal that we have. This is probably the best way to listen and engage with fans in what they want and want to see as the future of F1.

Building on this point, Williams feels that F1 should be listening to those who watch the sport and sustain it, as well as pushing for technical innovation.

“We think F1 is a great sport and as a member of the strategy group, there are conversations going on about what we can do to make it a better sport. These conversations are focusing around changing the engine formula, to make it louder, and to change the technical regulations to make the cars more radical and more innovative, so that they represent F1.

“These are conversation we are having and where we are looking… it is about improving what is a great platform and if that drives more fans to watch our sport and ensures the sustainability of the sport, then Williams is 100 per cent behind those conversations."

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