Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Ecclestone, like most fans, realizes that the thrill of F1 is gone with the current engines. He proposes bringing back screaming engines.

    Ecclestone to propose V10 comeback for F1

  • Ecclestone admits races in Korea, Qatar unlikely
  • Walsh unlikely to 'rein in' Ecclestone
  • Alonso addresses 'unfinished business' at McLaren
  • Dennis admits controversial driver choice 'painful'
  • Ricciardo Reignites Prospect Of Holding Australian GP At Night

Ecclestone to propose V10 comeback for F1
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone refuses to give up his crusade against F1's current engine formula.

Meeting with a select group of reporters on Thursday including Forbes' business journalist Christian Sylt, the F1 chief executive revealed that he intends to propose the sport brings back loud "normally-aspirated" engines for 2016.

He said he will table the matter at the December 18 meeting of the powerful Strategy Group.

Asked if he is contemplating V8s or V10s, and referring to the teams and manufacturers, 84-year-old Ecclestone answered: "It's up to them."

Ecclestone said to counter the argument that abandoning the quieter energy-recovery-boosted turbos would be a backwards step, the 2016 engines would be branded as 'Hybrid' and have KERS systems aboard.

And he played down suggestions carmakers like Honda and Mercedes will walk away by insisting it would actually be "a bit of a dream for them to build a normally-aspirated engine and develop it to about 1000 horse power".

Ecclestone denied that potentially putting off Volkswagen might be another obstacle, as the German giant has been "out there for long enough and haven't made a big enough effort to come in".

Fascinatingly, Ecclestone also said the FIA might not even be an obstacle to the move, given that president FIA president Jean Todt "sold the rights" in a recent commercial deal.

"The Strategy Group that we have got," he explained. "We made a contribution of $40 million a year to buy that actually.

"They sold the rights to have this new group set up in the way we thought it should be set up," Ecclestone added.

Ecclestone admits races in Korea, Qatar unlikely
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has admitted Korea is unlikely to make its return to the F1 world championship next year.

That is despite the country being listed provisionally as one of 21 races on the FIA's 2015 calendar.

Insiders interpreted the sudden appearance of a Korean race with high skepticism, as it is a neat way to give each driver an extra engine next year without having to obtain the unlikely agreement of all the teams.

Meeting with a group of reporters in London on Thursday, F1 supremo Ecclestone did not confirm that suspicion but he also agreed that Korea is perhaps unlikely to happen.

"We have a contract with them," he told Forbes' F1 business journalist Christian Sylt.

Asked whether a Korean grand prix will actually happen, however, Ecclestone answered: "They would rather it not happen."

Including Korea might then serve a dual purpose — triggering the engine rule tweak, and extracting some money from the organizers for breach of contract.

"We wouldn't extract any more than the contract allows us to," said Ecclestone.

In other F1 race news, Ecclestone admitted that despite negotiating with a Qatari group recently, a race in the oil-rich Arab state is actually now unlikely.

That is because he made one of his famous "handshake deals" with Bahrain's crown prince years ago not to install any new races in the Persian Gulf.

"Now this other race (Qatar) has been proposed," Ecclestone said, "so I put the people together and said 'Can you sort this out between you?'. They haven't managed to do it."

Walsh unlikely to 'rein in' Ecclestone
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone on Thursday sounded unfazed following reports a new F1 chief intends to 'rein in' the long-time F1 supremo.

The reports have said likely new F1 chairman Peter Walsh will be empowered by CVC chief Donald Mackenzie to push Ecclestone to become "more professional" within "a few months" of taking over.

Asked about Walsh's apparent intention to 'rein in' Ecclestone, the 84-year-old Briton hit back: "He would be unique if he could do that. First he's got to be appointed, hasn't he?"

However, Ecclestone did admit that Mackenzie is essentially pulling all the strings, remarking: "Do I have any input? Probably not."

But if it was up to him, he hinted that when he eventually does need a successor, his long-time aide Sacha Woodward-Hill is the obvious choice.

"I think perhaps if I was controlling the board, I would probably say it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a woman being the chief executive," said Ecclestone.

But he also said that, for now, he still regards himself as an invaluable contributor to F1.

"I've a little bit of experience," said Ecclestone, whose rise from team owner to power began in the 1970s.

"I'm in a good position with people who trust me, rely on me, I shake hands with them and they don't need a contract.

"The only thing is it takes an awful long time to develop that sort of reputation, and whoever does what I do it will take an awful long time for them to achieve that I suppose," he insisted.

Alonso addresses 'unfinished business' at McLaren
(GMM) For both Fernando Alonso and Ron Dennis, a successful F1 marriage is "unfinished business".

When they split seven years ago, most insiders found the idea of a reunion at any point in the future impossible to fathom.

Indeed, as what Alonso on Thursday described as their recent "dating" in hotel rooms ramped up, McLaren supremo Dennis admitted that it was initially an "uncomfortable" process.

But with McLaren-Honda needing the best possible driver for 2015, and Alonso seeking a highly-resourced home after his Ferrari exit, both strong characters analyzed the reasons for their split and decided to try again.

"You regret the mistakes you make in life," said Dennis on Thursday.

It is believed, however, that Alonso himself was to blame for many of the mistakes of 2007, particularly as 'spy-gate' and his battle against the surprisingly-competitive rookie Lewis Hamilton became all-out war.

But as Dennis laid the foundation for what he called a "happy situation" on Thursday, he put at least some of the blame at departed McLaren driver Hamilton's door.

"Lewis was understandably perceived to be the chosen one but he also had immaturity," he said. "If you ask who struck the first blow then I'd have to say Lewis had his part to play in starting a process that escalated."

Back at Woking on Thursday, Alonso also admitted that after the 2007 situation spiraled out of control, it had subsequently always played on his mind.

"I had this wish to remove the only thing in my career I am not proud of," he said. "2007."

The 33-year-old Spaniard, set to earn close to an incredible $50 million in 2015, believes his relationship with Dennis soured so badly simply because they are both "extremely competitive people".

Alonso also admits his own failings as a then 25-year-old.

"We have to be honest with ourselves and, if we are, we can find the things we would have done differently," he said.

"The other side is it is no longer 2007. It is not McLaren-Mercedes, it is McLaren-Honda, which is a completely different thing in my opinion," said Alonso.

"Jenson (Button) is not Lewis, which is completely different. I am sitting here, ready for this challenge with McLaren-Honda, because I see no problems at all."

Dennis admits controversial driver choice 'painful'
(GMM) Mere hours ago, his F1 career appeared over, but Jenson Button is now half of what Ron Dennis is hailing as "easily the best lineup" in F1 today.

But as ever in formula one, there was more than meets the eye to the controversial and protracted delay in deciding the identity of Fernando Alonso's Honda-powered teammate.

Conventional wisdom says team supremo Dennis, who favored the young Kevin Magnussen, was ultimately out-voted by the McLaren board including fellow shareholder Mansour Ojjeh.

Magnussen, at just 22, sees his race career stall at the first hurdle but he reacted by posting on Twitter a photo of The Terminator, which would logically be captioned 'I'll be back'.

"But I'm still with a great team and I still have big opportunities in formula one," the Dane said at Woking on Thursday.

Dennis admitted choosing against Magnussen was "painful", but he suggested that part of the decision was to have a top driver on standby should McLaren have to run a third car at short notice.

"We have a contract (to do that)," he revealed, "and if we have to run those three cars I want to have the best drivers."

But perhaps the most decisive part of the story was simply the difficult negotiations between Dennis and Button — the highly-experienced 2009 world champion whose points haul was more than double Magnussen's this year.

Ultimately, it emerged on Thursday, the 34-year-old had to grudgingly agree a more than $6 million pay cut, meaning his $12m is dwarfed by Alonso's staggering $50m deal.

In the end, with McLaren under increasing pressure to make a call, time ran out for Button early this week.

"He (Dennis) put the options to me," Button revealed. "I just said yes."

Dennis confirmed that once Button had agreed to the proposed "solutions" to the negotiating stumbling blocks, the rest of the deal was "very easy" to put into place.

But he also admitted that, until then, he had his reservations about Button's commitment, and had to insist upon at least a two-year commitment.

"He hadn't been saying the things that would make me believe that this was really important to him," said Dennis.

"Him saying yes to two years was one of a range of things that convinced me."

Ricciardo Reignites Prospect Of Holding Australian Grand Prix At Night
Red Bull F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo has "reignited the prospect" of the Australian Grand Prix being staged as a night race at Melbourne's Albert Park, according to Peter Rolfe of the HERALD SUN. Ricciardo has "suggested a shake-up of the current 5pm start time and believes a race under lights could offer an exciting alternative."

Ricciardo: "Night races are great. If Melbourne was to do one, I think it would be fun." He said that a new State Government in Victoria and night races already in Singapore and Abu Dhabi "meant a change might be timely." Ricciardo added, "It would be a good atmosphere. As long as we get big crowds supporting it, I'm happy."

The concept of a Melbourne night race has the backing of F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone, "who says it would add drama and boost TV audiences in Europe." New Sports Minister John Eren said that he was "reviewing the Melbourne contract to see if a night race was viable." Eren: "Initially, my concerns are that a night race would cost significantly more."

Australian Grand Prix Chair Ron Walker said the 5pm start was "written into the contract." But Ricciardo said that changing the start time "should happen regardless, with some drivers complaining about the glare of fading sunlight" Herald Sun

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