Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Alonso stares at smoke haze hanging over Singapore

    Ecclestone admits three-car teams possible

  • Ecclestone admits 'double points' could go
  • 'No help from Red Bull' as Vergne faces uncertain future
  • Kobayashi hopes for three-car top teams in 2015
  • Furious Alonso threatens to reveal source of rumors
  • Alonso hits out at Italian media
  • Whisky Brand Johnnie Walker Announces Partnership With Formula One
  • Singapore F1 Night Race Faces Air Pollution Issue Following Forest Fires
  • FIA revises team radio ban

Ecclestone admits three-car teams possible
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has admitted F1 could fill up a depleted grid next year with three-car top teams.

Former Williams chairman Adam Parr set off alarm bells after the Italian grand prix recently when he 'tweeted' that three struggling teams are about to collapse.

When asked about the news in Singapore, and whether allowing small teams to buy 'customer cars' from their big rivals might be the answer, F1 supremo Ecclestone answered: "No. Three cars (would be the solution)."

Grave fears about the health and future of Caterham, Marussia, Sauber and Lotus are sweeping the paddock.

Asked directly if the Swiss team will definitely return in 2015, Sauber chief Monisha Kaltenborn said in Singapore: "We plan to be."

And if others also collapse under similar financial strain, Ecclestone said the plan is to boost low grid numbers by having top teams like Ferrari and Mercedes run a third car each.

"I think we should do it anyway," he said.

"I would rather see Ferrari with three cars or any of the other top teams with three cars than having teams that are struggling."

Ecclestone, 83, admitted that several teams are in danger of collapsing.

"We'll know after the next two or three races, but it (the three car plan) is being looked at," he said.

The Briton seemed to rule out helping the financial stragglers to survive.

"I've been around – most people would say too long – but long enough to know there are always people at the back of the grid," said Ecclestone.

Jenson Button, F1's most experienced active driver, said it would be a shame if numbers had to be boosted with three-car team entries.

"If one car is so strong next year, you could have no other cars on the podium, which isn't so good," said the McLaren driver.

"Obviously it would be nice if they (the small teams) didn't have such big struggles and they could be more competitive," Button added. "But that's always been the case in formula one."

Ecclestone admits 'double points' could go
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has admitted his 'double points' innovation may be axed after the 2014 finale.

This year, in a bid to keep the championship alive until the dying moment, F1 will allocate double points in the Abu Dhabi finale.

But the scheme has been controversial and almost universally criticized, prompting F1's chief executive to admit it may fall by the wayside.

"I wanted it to be for the last three races," he said in Singapore, "but everyone said I was mad, so we won't do it.

"As for keeping it for the last race, I don't know," Ecclestone added. "Probably not. We can't yet see whether it has worked."

What is definitely staying in F1, however, is Singapore's highly popular night race, with some saying it is the sport's 'Monaco of the East'.

"It's unique. It's beautiful," Ecclestone agreed.

"We will keep coming back here forever. Some places are simply unique."

Also unique is the FIA's all-new electric single seater series Formula E, but Ecclestone said he is not worried it will rival true grand prix racing.

"It's completely different. It's a bit like the Red Bull Air Race," he said.

"It's dramatic, but it's not formula one."

'No help from Red Bull' as Vergne faces uncertain future
(GMM) Jean-Eric Vergne has been left alone to keep his motor racing career on track.

After three seasons with the secondary team Toro Rosso, the Frenchman was overlooked by Red Bull last year when his teammate Daniel Ricciardo got the call to replace retiring Mark Webber.

Less than a year older than 24-year-old Vergne, Australian Ricciardo has humbled quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel in 2014.

And in stark contrast, Vergne has been left without a seat at all for 2015, as Toro Rosso looks to the future with the ultra-young lineup of Daniil Kvyat and teen Max Verstappen.

"They (Red Bull) have a young driver program that they need to promote," said Vergne in Singapore. "That's how it is," he told F1's official website.

But when Kvyat swept in from GP3 for 2014, Toro Rosso hopeful Antonio Felix da Costa nonetheless remained under Red Bull's wing and was placed with BMW in the DTM series.

Similarly, with Verstappen now set to debut, Renault World Series leader Carlos Sainz is still being looked after by Red Bull.

Not Vergne. At approaching 25, he has been deemed 'too old' for Red Bull.

"Funny, isn't it?" he said. "Now it becomes clear that we don't need all these other series before breaking into F1 — now we know that you can jump almost immediately from go-karting to F1.

"And you better start go-karting before six years of age," Vergne added.

If Vergne sounds slightly doleful, it might be because he is being dropped by Red Bull altogether.

"True," he confirmed. "I have no management right now. I am alone right now to sort out my options.

"I know I probably should get somebody, but right now 99 per cent I am on my own. That's how it is."

Over the last few races of the 2014 season, then, Vergne will not only have to race his Toro Rosso, but also trudge up and down the paddock to see if there is a seat elsewhere for next season.

"These are things that I do, but I don't want to talk about it," he confirmed.

"But there is no help from Red Bull. My paramount focus right now is to finish the season on a high."

Kobayashi hopes for three-car top teams in 2015
(GMM) Kamui Kobayashi has admitted in Singapore that he may be left out of Caterham's plans for his home Japanese grand prix later this month.

The Japanese, who is not substantially sponsored, was dropped by the team's new management in Belgium recently as Caterham chose Andre Lotterer and the Le Mans winner's sponsor Hype.

Multiple names have been linked with the seat ever since, but the feisty and popular Kobayashi has so far returned to the green-colored cockpit at Monza and now Singapore.

But all the time, his future has been clouded, and looking no brighter by the day.

"So far I can confirm that I will race here," Kobayashi said in Singapore.

When asked about his sponsorship situation, he answered: "I have no money.

"I do have a contract until the end of the season, but sometimes in formula one contracts don't mean anything. That is no surprise," said the Japanese.

If he wants to bolster his chances of returning for his home race at Suzuka, then – where in 2012 he scored a highly-popular podium – he needs to sign up a sponsor.

"I have talked about it," said Kobayashi, "but this is not so easy."

Asked how much he would have to raise, the 28-year-old answered: "I can't say. A lot!" he smiled.

One option rumored in the media in recent days and weeks is that Honda's return to F1 with McLaren next year could open a new opportunity for Kobayashi, whose grand prix career started with substantial Toyota support.

He said on Thursday: "I am not affiliated with Honda. At the moment, their arrival does not change my prospects for next year.

"I know some people there, but I think I can't say anything, as they are involved in a completely different project."

Kobayashi is, however, well connected at Ferrari, where last year he filled in his time between F1 seats driving in endurance racing.

"No," he insisted. "My goal is to continue in formula one next year. I am also realistic. Formula one is in a very difficult economic situation.

"I don't know how many teams will exist next year."

Oddly, if teams in the second half of the grid do go out of business, it might only substantially boost Kobayashi's chances of staying in F1.

"I like this idea," he answered, when asked about mooted plans to keep up grid numbers next year by inviting top teams to field third cars.

"For me it could be an opportunity," said Kobayashi.

Alonso attacks media

Furious Alonso threatens to reveal source of rumors
(GMM) Fernando Alonso was "visibly upset" on Thursday as he angrily slammed the latest silly-season speculation about his future.

That is the claim of Spain's EFE news agency, reporting that the Spaniard clearly feels the leaks are being originated not only from Italy, but from within Ferrari itself.

Red Bull had promptly dismissed the rumor last week, reported by Italy's Sky broadcaster, that Spaniard Alonso and Sebastian Vettel were set to sensationally swap places in 2015.

Alonso, however, was reportedly furious when asked about the story by reporters from Italian and Spanish publications in Singapore on Thursday.

"I'm doing a spectacular year, with triple the points of my teammate," he is quoted as saying.

"It may be my best year, with 2012," Alonso added, "and yet every Thursday I have to come to the race and on Thursday put out these fires that come from Italy.

"It's a little bit strange, but I have nothing to say," he insisted.

"If I do say something, I will do it in a few weeks time and somebody will not like what it is," Alonso, clearly threatening to 'out' the identity of the leaker, warned.

"It (the rumors) is not good for anyone. I have worked very closely with the team over the years, trying to create a good environment and going to dinner with the guys, playing sports, and then all these things are coming out of Italy.

"Someday, I'll talk too," he threatened again.

Meanwhile, when asked about the latest upheaval at Maranello – this time the departure of long-time president Luca di Montezemolo – Alonso played a straight bat.

"I am neither further nor closer to Ferrari because of these changes.

"It is true there have been many (changes) — also (engine chief Luca) Marmorini and (Stefano) Domenicali and maybe there will be others," Alonso revealed.

"Montezemolo has been very successful but I understand that all the changes are to improve the team," he said.

Alonso hits out at Italian media
Fernando Alonso has hit out at the Italian media for its negativity towards Ferrari and continued speculation over his own future.

In the wake of Luca di Montezemolo's parting with the Maranello outfit, speculation has increased, some claiming earlier this week that the Spaniard is to swap seats with Sebastian Vettel for 2015.

Facing another round of the same old questions, the two-time world champion for once appeared to lose his cool.

"I've been commenting about my future for about thirteen months I think, so I have nothing new to say," snapped the Spaniard.

"It's sad when these rumors are created in Italy," he continued. "It's a shame as it's not helping Ferrari, which is the reason why we are all here and Ferrari is a much bigger brand than any one individual or even Formula 1 in general.

"I have a lot of respect for Ferrari and try and maintain a good atmosphere with the guys in the team, in order to have a very united team. It's what we need and what the people expect from us. So it's not clear to me what is the purpose of these rumors coming from Italy."

The Spaniard closed by paying tribute to Montezemolo who left the team in the wake of a disastrous home Grand Prix at Monza which witnessed Alonso's first retirement since Malaysia last year.

"He was our leader for many years and it was a great time for Ferrari," he said. "I wish him good luck with new projects and for the new President, I wish him good luck for hopefully a very successful future."

Whisky Brand Johnnie Walker Announces Partnership With Formula One
Johnnie Walker announced a new partnership with the Formula One group to expand the platform for its responsible drinking initiative, Join the Pact.

The announcement of the new multi-year arrangement, which also sees Johnnie Walker become the official whisky of F1, was made at an event at the Conrad Centennial Hotel in Singapore (F1).

MARKETING WEEK's Lara O'Reilly wrote Johnnie Walker "has deepened its relationship with Formula 1." The new multi-year agreement "is in addition to the Diageo-owned brand’s sponsorship of the McLaren Mercedes team, a tie-up which was established in 2005 and remains unaffected by the wider deal."

Johnnie Walker "has been looking to partnerships to play up the aspirational elements of the brand." In July "it partnered with men’s fashion retailer Mr. Porter to create a short film starring Jude Law." It also "counts British model David Gandy as one of its brand ambassadors." Marketing Week

Singapore F1 Night Race Faces Air Pollution Issue Following Forest Fires
A smoky, "unhealthy" haze has "drifted over Singapore this week clouding the build-up" to the city-state's "glamour sporting spectacle — the Formula One night race," according to Patrick Johnston of REUTERS.

Singapore's National Environment Agency said that air pollution "had risen into the unhealthy range" on Thursday after a wind change had "brought smoke from forest fires on Indonesia's Sumatra island." The three-hour Pollution Standards Index rose above 100, "the level at which the air is deemed unhealthy." Reuters

In London, Kevin Eason reported the NEA advised on its website that residents should "reduce prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion," while people with chest conditions such as asthma "are advised to take care."

However, rain is forecast, "which should help to clear the worst of the pollution."

A Singapore Grand Prix spokesperson said, "In the event that the haze caused visibility, public health or operational issues, Singapore GP would work closely with the relevant agencies before making any collective decisions regarding the event." London Times

FIA revises team radio ban
The FIA has revised its restrictions on the use of team radio in order to give teams the freedom to discuss car performance.
In an attempt to put the onus back on the drivers, the FIA planned to ban all team radio relating to driver and car performance. However, after meetings with team managers on Thursday in Singapore the ban was slackened to allow conversations about car performance to take place, although a ban is expected next year.
Driver performance is still restricted, with messages on the following subjects still prohibited from the Singapore Grand Prix onwards.
• Driving lines on the circuit
• Contact with curbs
• Car set up parameters for specific corners
• Comparative or absolute sector time detail of another driver
• Speeds in corners compared to another driver
• Gear selection compared with another driver
• Gear selection in general
• Braking points
• Rate of braking compared to another driver
• Rate of braking or application of brakes in general
• Car stability under braking.
• Throttle application in general
• Throttle application compared to another driver
• Use of DRS compared with another driver
• Use of any overtake button
• Driving technique in general

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