Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Ecclestone wants eye-candy on the F1 grid

    Ecclestone wants 'glamorous ladies' on grid

  • Manor still in race to reach Melbourne
  • Mercedes still 'hungry' for titles – Zetsche
  • Politics stops Monza GP rescue bid
  • F4 season costing Mick Schu '100,000 euros'
  • McLaren-Honda wants to win 'soon' – Boullier
  • 2015 Pirelli tires 'not spectacular' – Hamilton
  • No more Monaco hamburgers with Hamilton – Rosberg
  • McLaren doctor stopped Hakkinen return
  • Teams threatening boycott over Alonso crash – report
  • Williams expecting fight with Ferrari
  • Ericsson says old feud with Nasr now over
  • King denies eyeing Ecclestone's job
  • Decision looming over 2015 German GP
  • Van der Garde forcing Sauber to give him 2015 seat

Ecclestone wants 'glamorous ladies' on grid
(GMM) A letter to Cyril Abiteboul has revealed the grid strategy of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

A photo of the signed document emerged on social media on Wednesday, dating back to 2013, when Frenchman Abiteboul was boss of Caterham.

It reads: "Dear Cyril.

"Please be reminded that where possible, grid access passes should be used for celebrities or people of note or as always, really glamorous ladies.

"This is not so much a sporting matter," Ecclestone added, "but a part of the show business of formula one."

The Daily Mail said Ecclestone's office declined to comment.

But the matter of exclusive paddock passes hit the headlines last week, when Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene mingled with spectators in the Barcelona grandstand.

He admitted it was a protest against the latest rumors.

"I heard that in Australia there will be further restrictions in terms of passes for the paddock and so I thought we might as well get used to going to the grandstands!" said the Italian.

"These restrictions do not seem acceptable. Having an 'exclusive' atmosphere doesn't mean having an empty paddock," Arrivabene added.

Manor still in race to reach Melbourne
(GMM) Manor must still clear high hurdles as it bids to return to F1 this year.

While the former Marussia team's quest for Melbourne was officially launched at an event in London on Wednesday, the backmarker does not currently have a car cleared to race.

According to Italy's Omnicorse, Manor is currently headed to Cranfield, where under FIA supervision the modified 2014 car will undergo the mandatory crash tests.

Team boss Graeme Lowdon insists Manor has not simply "taken a 2014 car and shoved a different nose on".

Indeed, Omnicorse claims the car is still lacking key suspension and bodywork parts, due to problems with key suppliers now demanding up-front payments.

Not only that, Manor has had to make improvements to its brake-by-wire, amid suggestions it will now use the Brembo system that was fitted to last year's Ferrari.

"Right now the story is survival, understanding what we need to be on the grid and keep the story alive," new team investor Stephen Fitzpatrick said.

Team president Graeme Lowdon added: "I really hope we get the chance to show what can be achieved."

Dieter Zetsche
Dieter Zetsche

Mercedes still 'hungry' for titles – Zetsche
(GMM) Mercedes remains "hungry" for F1 success in 2015, the German carmaker's chief executive Dieter Zetsche insists.

"We are hungry and not yet satisfied," he reportedly said at the Geneva Motor Show, echoing team boss Toto Wolff's claim that Mercedes wants to prove it is in Ferrari and Red Bull's league by winning multiple titles on the trot.

Zetsche is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport: "We have worked hard over the winter and have a good car. But we cannot know how we will go before we race."

As for claims the so-called engine development 'unfreeze' will specifically hurt Mercedes, however, he insisted: "I don't think it is a disadvantage for us."

What may ultimately hurt Mercedes is a political push by key rivals like Ferrari and Red Bull to radically shake up the current technical rules by 2017.

Zetsche responded: "I think there should be internal discussions, but I also think that we already have everything we need for a great show."

Politics stops Monza GP rescue bid
(GMM) A cloud hanging over the future of Monza's iconic Italian grand prix is growing darker.

The latest ominous development is on the political front, where on Wednesday it emerged that a move to exempt the fabled Autodromo Nazionale from new laws had failed.

The news will reportedly cost Monza EUR 20 million in tax exemptions.

According to the local Il Cittadino newspaper, politician Paolo Grimaldi is furious.

"We did not ask for a cent, only that they would ratify something bureaucratic," he said. "It is intolerable that the government is against the Italian grand prix."

Circuit operator Sias' chief Andrea dell'Orto agreed: "It is a very serious matter, particularly as it was an amendment without cost.

"So now I will ask directly for a meeting with (Italian prime minister Matteo) Renzi," he is quoted by Milan's Il Giorno.

Mick Schumacher
Mick Schumacher

F4 season costing Mick Schu '100,000 euros'
(GMM) Mick Schumacher's move into single seater racing is costing EUR 100,000 euros.

That is the claim of the major German daily Bild, following confirmation the great Michael Schumacher's 15-year-old son will drive this year in German formula 4.

The report said the season is costing the Schumacher family, or the kart driver's sponsors, about 100,000 euros.

"In formula 4," former FIA single seater chief Gerhard Berger is quoted as saying, "the boys need to earn their laurels."

McLaren-Honda wants to win 'soon' – Boullier
(GMM) McLaren-Honda is determined to reach the top step of the podium "as soon as possible".

That is the claim of team boss Eric Boullier, after a troubled winter for the new British-Japanese collaboration.

McLaren-Honda has struggled simply to run its new MP4-30, and now its star driver Fernando Alonso has been sidelined with injury.

But Frenchman Boullier says the team nonetheless managed to get through some of its test program.

"We have done what we had to do in view of the situation and the time we had," he told the French magazine Auto Hebdo.

"The aero objectives were achieved, the chassis objectives were achieved, as were those of suspension and cooling systems.

"It is true," Boullier admitted, "that we have not covered the ideal number of kilometers and it did interfere with the development of the car.

"But we must remain ambitious," he added. "Our challenge remains to win as soon as possible."

Lewis Hamilton has never been a big fan of Pirelli tires

2015 Pirelli tires 'not spectacular' – Hamilton
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has admitted his ongoing concerns about Pirelli's F1 tires.

In 2013, drivers were bemoaning the quality and high degradation of the Italian supplier's product, but last year Pirelli was accused of being too conservative.

In pre-season testing, however, the cars of 2015 have proved significantly quicker than last year.

"We've seen a difference of up to two seconds," said Pirelli chief Paul Hembery, "and that gap could be even bigger on the softer compounds."

For 2015, Pirelli has tweaked the construction of the rear tires, and a brand new 'super soft' compound has been introduced.

However, F1's official supplier will not take the super-soft to Australia; a move described by insiders as conservative.

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton admitted recently that he remains unimpressed with Pirelli's 2015 range.

"The biggest issue is the tires," he told the French broadcaster Canal Plus during recent Barcelona testing.

"They just don't work, they're so hard. They're not spectacular."

But Hembery suggests that the new Pirellis should not be judged until the season starts, when temperatures will be higher than in testing.

"(Testing) conditions were still generally much cooler than we will typically see at most of the races, so this is a factor that has to be considered," he said.

Despite the fake similes for the cameras, there is no love lost between Rosberg (L) and Hamilton (R)
Despite the fake similes for the cameras, there is no love lost between Rosberg (L) and Hamilton (R)

No more Monaco hamburgers with Hamilton – Rosberg
(GMM) Nico Rosberg has fired the opening salvo as his rivalry with teammate Lewis Hamilton is set to recommence.

The pair, once boyhood karting friends, endured a tetchy relationship last year as they battled alone at the front of the grid for the 2014 title.

Briton Hamilton ultimately won the day, but only after some notable low-points, including a crash at Spa and having accused his Mercedes teammate of deliberately running off the road during qualifying in Monaco.

"There were difficult times," runner-up Rosberg admits, "which is inevitable, and it will be that way again.

"But in the end, there is respect and we always found ways to communicate."

Indeed, after raising the 2014 trophy aloft, Hamilton claimed that tensions with Rosberg had finally cooled.

But Rosberg told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport their relationship is no longer what it once was.

"I don't think we'll never talk again in our building in Monte Carlo," said the German, "but a couple of years ago, Lewis would come to my house for a hamburger.

"That doesn't happen anymore," Rosberg revealed.

McLaren doctor stopped Hakkinen return
(GMM) Not one but two potential comebacks for double world champion Mika Hakkinen never transpired.

It was already known that, three years after his 2001 retirement, the Finn was linked with a return to formula one with Williams.

But now it emerges that McLaren, for whom the now 46-year-old competed so successfully between 1993 and 2001, also tried to woo Hakkinen out of retirement in 2006.

The claim was made by Oskari Saari, a pundit for the Finnish broadcaster MTV3, in his new book about McLaren doctor and fellow Finn Aki Hintsa.

He claims Hintsa, famously close to Hakkinen, was summoned to England by Ron Dennis.

"Aki," Dennis is quoted as saying, "do you believe that Mika would be able to return to formula one?"

"No chance," Hintsa reportedly replied. "I sincerely believe that, and I cannot lie."

The book said Hintsa concluded that Hakkinen's four-year absence from F1 would have made his return too difficult.

Teams threatening boycott over Alonso crash – report
(GMM) F1 teams are threatening to boycott unless clearer information about Fernando Alonso's mysterious testing crash is revealed.

That is the claim of the German magazine Sport Bild, after McLaren-Honda's star driver was sidelined for next weekend's season opener in Melbourne.

McLaren insists Alonso is completely uninjured, but he will sit out Australia after a mysterious incident saw him spend four days in hospital.

"Sport Bild has learned that several teams are thinking about not letting their drivers race in Melbourne on safety grounds," said correspondents Ralf Bach and Bianca Garloff.

They said teams fear speculation that Alonso was rendered unconscious by an electric shock from the sport's controversial hybrid technology may be true.

Sport Bild quoted a team boss as saying: "If a plane crashes and there is even the slightest risk that it happened because of a system fault, other planes of that type are not left in the air."

The unnamed boss added: "Formula one has been lucky that nothing serious has happened with these hybrid systems.

"If any of my drivers had an incident, I would invite all the other teams to study the data — just so we can be sure. Honda must provide answers to the FIA."

Another new voice calling for more information about Alonso's mysterious crash belongs to Gian Carlo Minardi, a former team owner and boss.

"Silence in cases like these is not helpful," he is quoted by Italy's La Repubblica.

"In recent years, the FIA has made great strides in the area of safety and has all the tools to find out the truth.

"It would be desirable if it was known before the race in Australia," Minardi added.

When asked about the electric shock theory, he commented: "I have no evidence to support that so I can't comment.

"I have never worked with these power units, but I am told there are three or four fail-safe systems.

"There is this investigation of the FIA, so for the good of F1 there cannot be any classified information," Minardi insisted.

The 67-year-old Italian, however, did say he is not surprised Alonso is sitting out Melbourne.

"No," said Minardi, "it's the only normal thing in this whole affair.

"He is like a boxer who went down with a heavy blow. It takes time to come back, even if all the tests were negative."

Can Ferrari take the fight to Williams?
Can Ferrari take the fight to Williams?

Williams expecting fight with Ferrari
(GMM) A close group of challengers is forming up behind dominant Mercedes ahead of the 2015 season.

Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne this week revealed he thinks the team's new SF15-T is now "on par" with Red Bull, the 2014 runner-up.

But also in that battle, it seems, is Williams, who ended last season with arguably the best car behind the title-winning works Mercedes.

Referring to Ferrari, senior Williams engineer Rod Nelson is quoted by Italy's Tuttosport: "We will fight with them, especially early in the season. It will be a good fight.

"At the moment we believe Mercedes is out of reach," he said after the final test in Barcelona last week.

"They did a super time with the soft tires, while we were using the super-soft, but surely we will fight for the podium," Nelson added.

Ericsson says old feud with Nasr now over
(GMM) Marcus Ericsson says he healed old wounds with Felipe Nasr once it become clear they would be F1 teammates this year.

The pair will line up as Sauber's new drivers in 2015, but Swede Ericsson, 24, revealed this week that he was never friends with Brazilian Nasr.

In 2012 and 2013, they were rivals in the feeder series GP2, and Ericsson revealed: "In those days we were not best friends.

"We fought each other several times ending in accidents," he told the Nordic sports channel Viasat.

"We are both very competitive drivers, but in the pre-season tests we were already working together very well," Ericsson insisted.

"We had not talked since those days in GP2. But when Felipe signed the contract with Sauber, I found him and congratulated him," he said at an event in his native Sweden.

"Then we said that we should forget everything that went before," he added.

While Nasr is stepping up from GP2 last year, Ericsson made his F1 debut in 2014 with the now-defunct Caterham team.

"My first season was not easy, both on the sporting and psychological side," he admitted. "It was a hard time.

"We had hoped for better results, but I learned a lot and became stronger, especially psychologically.

"Until the three races that I missed at the end, everything was going well and it was perhaps precisely because of this that I am sitting here now.

"It was important that I signed the contract with Sauber in November," he added.

"Getting out of the car in Barcelona, I said 'Can we go straight to Melbourne now?'" Ericsson beamed.

Justin King
Justin King

King denies eyeing Ecclestone's job
(GMM) Justin King on Wednesday played down suggestions his new role at Manor is a stepping stone to F1's top job.

Already last year, the former Sainsbury's chief was named as a potential successor to Bernie Ecclestone.

Now, he has surfaced at the reborn Manor Marussia, not having bought into the team but serving as an advisor to investor Stephen Fitzpatrick and interim chairman.

But King said at Manor's launch event in London on Wednesday that he will eventually step down from the role.

And he denied it could be a prelude to launching a bid to succeed Ecclestone as F1 chief executive.

"I have always been clear," said King, "I have never applied for a job where there isn't a vacancy — and there isn't a vacancy.

"I understand why people made a connection, but that is because of my son," he added, referring to his 21-year-old son Jordan, who is stepping up to GP2 in 2015.

Decision looming over 2015 German GP
(GMM) The eleventh hour has arrived for the 2015 German grand prix.

Despite a July 19 slot on the calendar, neither the Nurburgring or Hockenheim currently have a deal with Bernie Ecclestone to host the race.

So as the clock counts down to just a week to go until the Melbourne paddock fills, Ecclestone said of a German GP deadline: "Certainly by this weekend.

"(I'm) not sure it's going to happen," the 84-year-old told DPA news agency.

Giedo van der Garde
Giedo van der Garde

Van der Garde forcing Sauber to give him 2015 seat
(GMM) Giedo van der Garde has commenced legal action in Australia as he bids to force Sauber to let him race next weekend.

The Dutchman spent 2014 as the Swiss team's reserve, but when Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson were named as the race drivers for 2015, van der Garde claimed he had been promised a seat.

Australian media News Limited revealed on Thursday that van der Garde has filed an urgent case in the state Victorian supreme court claiming unfair dismissal.

The report said Switzerland's Arbitration Institution has already ruled that Sauber must give a 2015 race seat to van der Garde, 29.

"The respondent (Sauber) was ordered to refrain from taking any action the effect of which would be to deprive Mr. van der Garde of his entitlement to participate in the 2015 formula one Season as one of Sauber's two nominated race drivers," the court documents read.

The action is seeking a hearing on Monday, giving van der Garde time to take his place at Sauber ahead of the weekend's Australian grand prix.

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