Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Stolen from Red Bull, Adrian Newey protege Peter Prodromou started work at McLaren

    Mercedes signs reserve, Prodromou starts at McLaren

  • Ferrari's business success unrelated to F1 – Montezemolo
  • Caldarelli rules himself out for Caterham seat
  • FIA clarifies radio clampdown for F1 teams
  • Heidfeld defends Formula E after Vettel attack
  • Singapore keeps pair of DRS zones
  • Ericsson: Caterham's main weakness is braking

Mercedes signs reserve, Prodromou starts at McLaren
(GMM) Two formula one teams had news to announce on Monday.

On Sunday, 19-year-old Pascal Wehrlein became the youngest race winner in DTM history, and a day later he was unveiled as the new reserve driver for F1's dominant team, Mercedes.

"Pascal will travel with the team from the Singapore grand prix onwards as part of his reserve driver duties," said the German squad, revealing that Wehrlein made his F1 test debut last Thursday in a two-year-old Mercedes.

"It certainly helped that I have been working hard in the simulator since February," he said.

Meanwhile, just over an hour's drive from Mercedes' UK factory, former Adrian Newey protege Peter Prodromou started work at McLaren's Woking headquarters in his new role as chief engineer.

Joining from reigning world champions Red Bull, Prodromou is a high-profile signing by McLaren ahead of its switch to works Honda power for 2015.

"Peter has proved beyond doubt that he's one of the most capable and intelligent engineers in formula one," said team boss Eric Boullier.

Ferrari's business success unrelated to F1 – Montezemolo
(GMM) Luca di Montezemolo says there is no correlation between Ferrari's successes as a business as opposed to success in formula one.

After 23 years as president, the Maranello marque's iconic leader is stepping down to be replaced by Fiat-Chrysler chief Sergio Marchionne.

Defending his position, Marchionne said that while 67-year-old Montezemolo should be applauded for growing Ferrari as a road car business, the downwards trend of success in formula one needs to be addressed.

The implication is that, ultimately, Ferrari overall will suffer.

But, in an interview to be aired by Italian broadcaster Rai 1 later on Tuesday, Montezemolo challenged the view that Ferrari's road car and F1 successes can be tied together.

"I often hear people say 'If you win you sell more, if you lose you sell less'," said the charismatic Italian.

"My reply is that it is not so. Just think that the greatest growth Ferrari has had over the past 60 years was in the United States — the country where formula one is almost unknown."

Montezemolo says that even applies to other markets.

"It would be said 'take a German driver, sell more in Germany'. But we had outstanding victories with a driver like Schumacher, but we didn't sell any more in Germany," he insisted.

Meanwhile, as Montezemolo's decline is hotly debated in Italy and beyond, a member of the influential Agnelli family has backed the controversial news.

Andrea Agnelli, president of the Juventus football club, said Montezemolo made a "profound" impact on Ferrari, including "incredible achievements" for the Maranello marque.

But he said responsibility for Ferrari's failure to win a title since Kimi Raikkonen in 2007 "applies to everyone".

"Whenever you begin a process of renewal which relates to the medium and long term, it is right that it involves new people," said Agnelli, whose uncle was the great Fiat figurehead Gianni Agnelli.

"Ferrari must not be nostalgic but look to the future in a constructive manner with regards to the leadership," he is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I hope that Ferrari and Juventus win together perhaps already next year, as anyone who works in sports can set no other ambition than victory.

"Sport, from this point of view, is ruthless both on the football field and on the track," said Agnelli.

Caldarelli rules himself out for Caterham seat
(GMM) Andrea Caldarelli has counted himself out of the running to race for Caterham in the near future.

As the cockpit reshuffling continues in the wake of Kamui Kobayashi's missed race at Spa, it is known that the team's new leadership wants Roberto Merhi to drive the car under Singapore's lights this weekend.

But although the Spaniard drove on Friday morning at Monza recently, he still did not collect enough kilometers to automatically qualify for his F1 super license.

We reported last week that Japanese Kobayashi could return to the wheel of his car yet again in Singapore.

But other reports in Japan suggested a driver called Andrea Caldarelli could be another candidate, especially for the subsequent race at Suzuka.

The 24-year-old Italian was in the news recently when he was called up to race in the premier Japanese open-wheel series Super Formula when Andre Lotterer got his Caterham opportunity at Spa.

It is rumored Caldarelli, who has tested F1 cars for Toyota and Ferrari, has the backing of Caterham's newly installed boss Manfredi Ravetto, and strong ties within Japan.

But he has now ruled out a Suzuka debut, insisting it clashes with his duties in the Japanese Super GT series.

"I can categorically exclude it," Caldarelli is quoted by Speed Week, "because on the same weekend is the GT race in Thailand and this is an absolute priority for me."

Indeed, driving a TOM's Lexus, Caldarelli is running second in that high-profile Japanese series, and Thailand is the penultimate round.

Caldarelli continued: "It is clear that formula one is a dream for me, and given my experience with Ferrari and Toyota I would not rule out being back in a car one day.

"But for the moment, for sure not," he added.

Meanwhile, ahead of Singapore, the well-sponsored Caterham regular Marcus Ericsson insists he can give no insight into the identity of his forthcoming teammates.

"To be honest, when you're in the car and preparing for race weekends you're so focused on that you don't really think about it," he told Reuters.

"It's not been something that has influenced me but obviously now we have the new owners that have come in and they've been pushing really hard to continue developing the car, so that's been very positive," Ericsson added.

FIA clarifies radio clampdown for F1 teams
(GMM) The FIA has furnished teams with more information about how it intends to enforce its new clampdown on radio communications in Singapore and beyond.

Following feedback from fans, the governing body has banned any radio messages between the pitwall and the drivers that relate to "performance".

It is hoped that the clampdown will end the notion that today's complex cars are being driven in a sort of remote-control fashion by engineers and boffins.

Reports are now beginning to emerge about what precisely the FIA will allow and what may be subject to penalties this weekend as the ban falls under Singapore's lights.

Italy's Autosprint said information about the operation and function of energy-recovery is not allowed, as is notifications about tire temperature, clutch settings and brake wear — among many other instructions outlined in a detailed document.

Additionally, any messages that appear encoded are not allowed.

It means that only basic radio messages are now permitted, including time gaps, positions, traffic and verbal encouragements such as "push".

Discussions about the selection of tire compounds and wing adjustments, and the type of tires used by competitors, are permitted, as are notifications of technical problems and race strategies.

Teams may also remind drivers to be aware of hazards, including the white line when rejoining from a pitstop and the limitations of the track.

And the ban will be in effect throughout not only the grand prix but also qualifying and practice sessions, Autosprint added.

Heidfeld defends Formula E after Vettel attack
(GMM) Nick Heidfeld has defended the new Formula E series following criticism from within the F1 paddock.

F1's reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel recently slammed the fully electric powered series – which kicked off on the streets of Beijing last weekend with an all-star grid and global interest – as "cheese".

Ultimately, German Heidfeld – a veteran of no less than 185 grands prix and 13 podiums – was arguably the star of the show, spectacularly crashing in a last-lap lunge to take victory from Nicolas Prost, the son of the F1 legend.

But Vettel said recently: "I'm not a fan of it (Formula E), and as a viewer I would not be interested."

Heidfeld, who drives for the team co-founded by Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio, was asked by the German-language Spox to react to Vettel's attitude.

"I like Sebastian and I don't know in what context he said that," the 37-year-old answered.

"But I think that Formula E cannot currently compete against formula one and actually it does not want to. The concept is quite different.

"But the series is justified when you consider the development of electric mobility and the interest the manufacturers have in it. How successful it is, we will have to see.

"I think even formula one is currently struggling with some negative headlines, but it is the peak of motor sport and that will long remain the case.

"But that doesn't mean that there can't be something else as well," Heidfeld added.

It has been said that, at least for now, Formula E will never pose a danger to the success of F1 because of the speed of the cars.

In its report, Spox said the lap times show that Formula E is "more formula 3" than F1.

"Compared with formula one, the performance is modest," Heidfeld agreed.

"We have almost 300 horse power in qualifying and the cars are 900 kilos. And the Michelin tires we are using are not slicks, which is slower but we can use them in the wet and the dry.

"Ultimately they are normal single seater cars, which are always difficult to drive on the limit.

"But another reason I chose to race is because of the opponents — in terms of the quality of the drivers, we don't need to hide from formula one," he said.

Heidfeld explained that the trend is therefore different to F1, where so-called 'pay drivers' are wielding unprecedented levels of power in the increasingly expensive sport.

"Compared to some years ago, the difference is obvious," he said. "It is difficult to get into formula one now only with talent.

"I don't want to criticize the teams," Heidfeld added. "Clearly they would prefer to sign drivers based only on what they can do on the track. But they also have to pay them.

"Formula one is too expensive for most of the teams, which is a shame — but that's the way things are."

Finally, Heidfeld commented on the declining age of rookies in F1, with Daniil Kvyat, Max Verstappen and now Mercedes reserve Pascal Wehrlein all signed up as teenagers.

"Basically," Heidfeld explained, "maturity and experience goes up the older you are.

"We saw that it worked out with Kimi (Raikkonen in 2001), but even he was older than Max," said the German, who was Raikkonen's first teammate in 2001.

"On the whole it would be better and safer if there is a minimum age in formula one. Clearly it's possible that there are exceptional drivers like Kimi and maybe Max who can do it.

"But it is very difficult to predict beforehand," Heidfeld added.

Singapore keeps pair of DRS zones
The FIA has chosen to retain two DRS zones for this year's Singapore Grand Prix.

The night race featured just one zone in 2011 and 2012, but moved to two from 2013; the first area is situated on the long stretch from Turns 5 to 7, known as Raffles Boulevard, with the second on the start-finish straight.

Separate detection points control the two zones – the first just after Turn 4 and the second before Turn 22.

Ericsson: Caterham's main weakness is braking
Marcus Ericsson says instability under braking is currently the primary problem facing Caterham as it bids to close the gap to rival teams.

Caterham is one of only two outfits, along with Sauber, yet to score a point this season, with just the final six-race flyaway stint to follow.

Ericsson, who finished a distant 19th at Monza, is hopeful that improving the brakes on the CT05 will have a positive impact on Caterham's lap times.

"[Braking is] one of the biggest issues. There's instability and it's unpredictable," Ericsson told GPUpdate.net.

"We have problems with locking the front tires, the rear tires, so for me that is the main issue that we are still working on and trying to improve, to get a better feel and confidence in the braking zones. It's a place where we can gain a lot of lap time."

The Swedish driver believes that Caterham's takeover by a group of Swiss and Middle Eastern investors has been positive and is eyeing this weekend's Singapore Grand Prix as an opportunity for the squad.

"At the beginning of the year we were, in my opinion, a bit ahead of Marussia, but then we couldn't keep up the pace like they did and they went a bit ahead of us and got the jump on us," he said.

"With the new owners we have pushed again for updates and development and we've started to catch up.

"Things can happen so we need to be there and make the most of it. Singapore is going to be an interesting one and can be a big chance for us. You need to be there, do your maximum and see what happens."

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