Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Sainz may have to buy his way into F1 like Ericsson did by keeping Caterham afloat

    Three teams in battle for 2015 survival

  • Sainz eyes F1 future despite Verstappen setback
  • Verstappen passes medical and waits for license
  • Ferrari loses legal battle with engineer
  • Rosberg contamination 'not a conspiracy' – Mercedes
  • Force India turns to Toyota for wind tunnel
  • Vijay Mallya drops out of India's 100 richest club

Three teams in battle for 2015 survival
(GMM) The fate of three formula one teams continues to hang in the balance.

The health of the sport's most financially struggling outfits has been under an intense spotlight since it emerged the richest teams might be asked to plug gaps on the 2015 grid by running three-car operations.

Arguably the most endangered team is Caterham, whose founder Tony Fernandes suddenly pulled the plug this year, almost leading to a total collapse before July's British grand prix.

The green-colored team is now owned by a mysterious consortium of Swiss-based Dubai investors, amid continuing rumors of serious financial problems.

But Manfredi Ravetto, the new boss, insists Caterham has money to spend.

"We are currently testing our 2015 car in Cologne, at Toyota's wind tunnel," he told F1's official website. "Obviously you cannot run your car in Cologne just because of our extremely nice attitude!

"And if we do this (pay Toyota) it means that we are fully committed to being here next year," he added.

Another obviously embattled team is Caterham's fellow backmarker Marussia, but sporting boss Graeme Lowdon insists the team can also afford to keep racing.

"You don't want to give the wrong impression by glibly saying 'yes, we're fine' because it's always a challenge operating businesses in this environment," he told Sporting Life.

"(But) we have an obligation to trade correctly, and if you don't reasonably believe you can do that, you have to stop," Lowdon added.

"If we didn't think we could be here, then we wouldn't be here."

And the third current team clearly battling merely for survival is Sauber, the 21-year-old Swiss outfit whose fortunes began to fade some years ago when owner BMW pulled out.

Founder Peter Sauber and co-owner Monisha Kaltenborn are putting a brave face on the situation, but a man also with knowledge of the situation paints a more uncertain picture.

One of the men central to the oft-reported 'Russian rescue deal' is Oleg Sirotkin, whose son Sergey Sirotkin was initially believed to be a shoo-in for a race seat.

Now, the young Sirotkin's prospects are not so clear.

"In my opinion it is 50-50," Oleg Sirotkin told the Russian website f1news.ru.

"There have been a lot of problems, one of which is the unstable situation of the teams. There is no certainty they will even be at the start next season.

"For example," he revealed, "we are working closely with Sauber, but they seem to have a problem."

Sainz eyes F1 future despite Verstappen setback
(GMM) Carlos Sainz Jr hopes a timely show of dominance can put him back in the spotlight after a challenging couple of months.

The Spaniard put up an impressive double-victory in the Formula Renault 3.5 category in France at the weekend, moving tantalizingly close to securing the title.

But last month Sainz, 20, was overlooked for a F1 debut with Toro Rosso for 2015, despite being the obvious cream of Red Bull's driver development program.

Sweeping into the Toro Rosso seat instead was the 16-year-old Max Verstappen, who is now being fast-tracked to F1 stardom by Red Bull and compared to the legendary Ayrton Senna by Dr Helmut Marko.

So, when speaking to Spain's El Confidencial, Sainz Jr paused for a long time when he was asked if the Paul Ricard round of the 'World Series' was the most important race of his entire career.

"Probably," he finally admitted.

And asked if his display of dominance was a little message to Red Bull in the wake of the controversial Verstappen decision, Sainz revealed: "Yes, I do have that feeling a bit.

"It was important to show all those who doubted you that you're still the same. That you are able to overcome a difficult situation.

"After Budapest," said Sainz, referring to the previous Formula Renault 3.5 round, "there were difficult days where it was hard to be positive.

"Emotionally, it (the Verstappen decision) was not easy to accept. It was not an easy summer."

In the wake of the Verstappen decision, Sainz and his well-known namesake and father sat down recently with Marko and all sides declared afterwards that the future is still on track.

Asked if his dominance in Paul Ricard changes the situation yet again, Sainz Jr insisted: "I don't know what it means for Red Bull, but for me, for my personal motivation, I feel good.

"If I win (the title) in Jerez I will be the first Red Bull driver to do it, the youngest in history, and it will be the record for wins in a season.

"If I do it I will have enormous confidence in myself for the future."

There might even be space on F1's 2015 grid for Sainz.

He has had talks with Caterham, there is talk of three-car entries for 2015, and Sebastian Vettel could trigger a Red Bull-Toro Rosso reshuffle if the reigning world champion moves to Ferrari to replace Fernando Alonso.

According to El Confidencial, Sainz giggled at the suggestion.

"I cannot have my future that relies on others, I have to rely on myself and keep doing what I did in Paul Ricard — win races and keep showing what I am worth," he said.

Verstappen passes medical and waits for license
(GMM) Max Verstappen is clearing every hurdle as his fast-track to formula one leads to this weekend's Japanese grand prix.

The Dutchman's ultimate seventeenth birthday present this week will be the Friday morning practice session at Suzuka, ahead of his full race debut in 2015.

Never before has a driver been so fast-tracked to F1 glory, as Red Bull spared no expense recently with a test so that Verstappen qualifies for his mandatory F1 license.

"Now it's in the hands of the FIA whether he gets it in time (before Friday)," team boss Franz Tost said.

And Verstappen has now confirmed that another necessity was a full health screening in Helsinki.

"I was totally medically screened with scans and tests," he told his official website. "The medical team was satisfied with my health and fitness."

Verstappen has also been hard at work in the Red Bull simulator at Milton Keynes.

"You drive all day, from morning to evening," he said. "The last one I practiced was Suzuka to prepare for the scheduled Friday practice."

Ferrari loses legal battle with engineer
(GMM) Ferrari has lost a legal battle with a disgruntled F1 engineer.

For 2012, Briton Steve Clark joined the fabled Maranello team from Mercedes, where he was a highly respected senior technical advisor.

It was reported at the time that Clark's new role would be in charge of Ferrari's race engineers.

But Italy's specialist Autosprint and La Gazzetta dello Sport separately report that Clark was subsequently 'demoted' to a role in Ferrari's non-F1 projects, including working on the Italian Olympic team's bobsled design.

Clark reportedly sued the team in the local Modena courts, arguing that the demotion to a role outside of F1 caused "serious harm to his career".

The judge reportedly agreed, declaring that his 'demotion' was contrary to his contract.

The reports say Ferrari has been ordered to reinstate Clark in his contracted F1 role or an equivalent, which could result in a departure settlement for the 48-year-old Briton.

Rosberg contamination 'not a conspiracy' – Mercedes
(GMM) Mercedes has revealed the cause of former championship leader Nico Rosberg's steering wheel failure in Singapore.

The team said it carried out a "forensic analysis" of the problem after the recent night race and found that the steering column electronics had been "contaminated with a foreign substance".

"The contamination was not visible and did not manifest itself until Sunday as Nico went to the grid," Mercedes said on Twitter.

But in the context of the German's bitter battle for the title with teammate Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes' announcement on Twitter immediately set tongues wagging.

"To clarify," the Brackley based team insisted, "the contaminant was a substance used in normal pre-event servicing of the component. Not a conspiracy!"

Force India turns to Toyota for wind tunnel
(GMM) Force India is the latest F1 team turning to Toyota's state-of-the-art wind tunnel in Cologne.

It emerged in Singapore recently that Caterham is developing its 2015 car in the Cologne tunnel.

Previously, Ferrari relied heavily on the Toyota facilities amid its troubles with its own tunnel at Maranello.

"We haven't used the one in Cologne for really quite some time," said technical boss James Allison recently.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport also reports that, with McLaren leasing wind tunnel time to Marussia, the Woking based team also uses the Toyota facility.

And Force India is now beginning to turn to Toyota.

"Our wind tunnel was originally built for 30 per cent models," said technical boss Andy Green, "so we don't have enough room around the 50 per cent model."

From next year, a new cost cutting measure is that each team can only use one wind tunnel per season, so Force India has nominated Cologne.

The report said Toyota charges about EUR 100,000 a week for the privilege.

Vijay Mallya drops out of India's 100 richest club
UB Group Chairman Vijay Mallya is no longer a member of India's 100 Richest club, even as fortunes of the country's uber-rich have seen a significant growth since last year.

Mallya, who has been declared as 'willful defaulter' by lenders following huge debts on his Kingfisher Airlines, is missing from the Forbes latest list of 100 richest released on Thursday.

He was ranked at 84th position in 2013, with a net worth of $800 million.

With a record $1 billion as the minimum net worth this year, as many as 11 persons dropped out of this year's list including Mallya.

"The flamboyant Vijay Mallya, who was tagged by his bankers as a "willful defaulter," also dropped off," Forbes said.

The drop-offs this year also include, Brij Bhushan Singal, whose Bhushan Steel's shares tanked after son Neeraj was arrested in a corruption scandal, Forbes said.

In sharp contrast, the combined net worth of India's 100 wealthiest is $346 billion, up from more than a third from $259 billion in 2013, thanks to soaring stock markets which have gained 28 per cent since January this year.

Earlier in March 2013, Mallya was dropped from Forbes global rich list, while he had moved out of the billionaire league way back in 2012.

Amid huge debt burden and mounting losses at Kingfisher Airlines, Mallya's fortunes has been declining continuously over the recent years.

The airline owes Rs 7,600 crore to 17 banks. In February 2012, the banks had formally declared loan recall on KFA and began recovery process. They have recovered around Rs 2,000 crore by selling pledged shares.

Already, United Bank of India has won a legal backing on its decision to declare Mallya and other top executives of the airline as "willful defaulters". India's largest bank SBI has also sent a notice to tag them as "willful defaulters".

State-run PNB and IDBI Bank, and private lenders Federal Bank and Axis Bank are also in the process of doing the same.

Burdened with huge losses and large debts, Kingfisher Airlines stopped flying in October 2012 and its flying license also lapsed about two months later.

About Mallya Forbes India in October 2012 had said that the 'king of good times' is having nothing but bad times lately.

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