Latest F1 news in brief – Friday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

09/12/14

  • Others teams happy to take Gutierrez's Carlos Slim (Telmex) check

    Horner, Prost back FIA radio clampdown

  • Alonso source says Montezemolo exit 'changes nothing'
  • Formula E set to take on F1
  • Hamilton says Pirelli too conservative at Monza
  • Brawn on possible comeback: Never say never
  • Pirelli reveals compounds for Suzuka, Sochi
  • Gutierrez says other teams would be happy to take his check
  • What the F1 radio clampdown means
  • Wolff concerned about radio crackdown, super license issue New
  • Mercedes to correct gear ratio flaw for Singapore New

Horner, Prost back FIA radio clampdown
(GMM) Christian Horner and Alain Prost have welcomed the FIA's immediate clampdown on radio communications within formula one.

Responding to criticism from fans, F1 race director Charlie Whiting on Thursday circulated a directive to teams clarifying the existing rule about drivers needing to "drive the car alone and unaided".

It means that from Singapore and beyond, all radio messages from the pitwall to the drivers relating to "performance" are now strictly banned.

Whiting said the FIA "intends to rigorously enforce this regulation with immediate effect".

The move is a reaction to claims fans are being turned off the sport amid the impression the 'heroes' – arguably the world's best drivers – are being told how to drive the complex cars in 2014 by engineers.

"Therefore no radio conversation from pit to driver may include any information that is related to the performance of the car or driver," said Whiting.

He added that "general" radio calls about race strategy and safety are excluded from the ban.

Whiting told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport that the penalties applied will be "at the discretion of the stewards", but will probably be of a sporting nature rather than fines.

The ban will also end the perception that drivers are being told by their teams during races to save fuel, brakes and tires.

"That (kind of instruction) would violate the rule," Whiting clarified.

"The driver can see the fuel consumption on the steering wheel, just as you do in your normal car."

As for advice about engine settings, fuel mixtures and energy-recovery charging, Whiting insisted: "Absolutely not (allowed). This is clearly contrary to Article 20.1."

But he said the issuing of team orders and advice about traffic is "okay".

Red Bull team boss Horner told the Times he fully backs the FIA's new stance.

"The driver should be on his own when he gets into the cockpit. They all need to be told about pitstops and safety and so on, but none of this picking up advice on where other people are a tenth of a second faster and what gear to choose. That is nonsense.

"It is time for the drivers to drive," he insisted.

Also supportive is Alain Prost, the F1 legend and quadruple world champion.

"People can think formula one has become something too assisted, easy and controlled by somebody else than the driver," he said.

Alonso source says Montezemolo exit 'changes nothing'
(GMM) Sources close to Fernando Alonso insist this week's news from Maranello will not affect his future.

Even before long-time Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo's demise, and the shock death of his friend and sponsor, Santander's Emilio Botin, Alonso was already being linked with a move to McLaren.

Publications have suggested the week's events at the increasingly crisis-struck Ferrari may be the final straw for an increasingly frustrated Alonso.

But a source close to the Ferrari driver, who remains under contract until 2016, told the Spanish sports daily Marca: "The press has overblown everything.

"For a driver, the arrival of a new president of the company does not change anything."

Nonetheless, Montezemolo's departure is big news not only for Ferrari but also for F1, as the 67-year-old was a powerful influence.

Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda, whose relationship with Montezemolo dates all the way back to his driving days at Ferrari, said this week's news was a surprise.

"In my opinion Montezemolo didn't want to go to Alitalia, he has been the president of Ferrari for 23 years and he achieved so many things.

"But, as happens in all companies, when things start to go wrong it is logical that these changes occur," F1 legend Lauda told Italian-language Metro.

"I understand (Sergio) Marchionne and I am not critical of his decision. I hope to meet him soon, now that he is president of Ferrari, to talk about formula one.

"It will not be easy to bring Ferrari back to the competitiveness of the past, but it is the right time to make decisions for the following season," said Lauda.

"It was the time for a change. It will be hard for them to come back this year but they can plan for next season and get to work to improve the engine, which is Ferrari's real problem," he added.

Formula E set to take on F1
(GMM) As a brand new, global single seater series prepares to launch off the grid, boss Alejandro Agag insists Formula E is not trying to take on F1.

With battery-powered and nearly completely silent cars, designed with input from McLaren, Williams and Renault, the inaugural race will take place on the streets of Beijing on Saturday.

"Changing a car halfway through a race is quite strange," said McLaren driver Jenson Button.

"But it might work. It's all in city centers and it might attract people to the sport that aren't interested in motor sport normally.

"If they aren't true racing fans, it's quite fun to watch some cars go around that are electric."

Button's backhanded compliment sums up the general attitude about Formula E within the F1 paddock.

But some big and familiar names are involved in Formula E.

All ten teams feature drivers well known to formula one, including driver-owner Jarno Trulli, Takuma Sato, Nick Heidfeld, Jaime Alguersuari and many others.

Another is Sebastien Buemi, who played down any comparison between the Formula E car – generating 270 horse power and a maximum speed of 225kph – and its F1 cousin.

"Formula E is something completely different," he told the Austrian news agency APA.

"They not only have much less power, but the cars also have significantly less grip."

Series boss Agag was asked by Germany's Welt newspaper about all the quiet criticism within the F1 paddock, including by its reigning champion Sebastian Vettel.

"The bottom line is that top drivers will be competing to win. For me this is already enough to talk about pure motor sport," he answered.

Not only that, Formula E has a healthy grid, the involvement of manufacturers like Audi, and a truly global calendar spanning Asia, the Americas and Europe.

Is Agag's plan to eventually replace formula one as the pinnacle of motor sport?

"I think that would be the wrong approach," the Spaniard insisted.

"We want to be a complement to formula one — it's not about doing things better or worse than them. We are an independent racing series with our own profile.

"To put us in a race with formula one would not be fair," Agag added.

Undoubtedly, though, while F1 is arguably locked in an identity crisis at the start of its new, quieter turbo era, Formula E's vision is clear and modern.

"We are environmentally friendly and fit with the sustainable approach suitable for the cities in which we travel," said Agag.

"We consume no fuel, people do not have to spend hours driving out of the city to come to the track."

And Agag said that, while F1 is struggling at the moment to boost its television ratings and fill grandstands, Formula E will not face the same problems.

"Of that I am absolutely convinced," he said.

"Our approach is different to that of formula one. For example, we rely heavily on social media — the internet is at the heart of Formula E.

"With their vote, the fans can give their favorite driver 50 extra horse power in the race. As I said, it's a great show.

"You also have to understand that you do not necessarily have to buy a ticket to watch a Formula E race — we have big video screens on which the race will be shown.

"There are 500,000 people each day in the Olympic park in Beijing, so the more of them that choose to stay with us, the better," Agag said.

Hamilton says Pirelli too conservative at Monza
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has pointed the finger at Pirelli in the wake of last weekend's Italian grand prix.

In fact, despite his psychological title war with teammate Nico Rosberg, the Mercedes driver says the tires supplied at Monza would have contributed to the German's highly controversial 'mistakes' that handed him victory last Sunday.

"Honestly," Hamilton is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace, "the tires were too good last weekend.

"It was basically very easy in terms of making one (pit) stop.

"There was only one risk," the Italian grand prix winner explained, "and that was if you got a flat-spot.

"That's why we saw so many drivers going straight at the first chicane — to avoid damaging the tire, otherwise they would have had to convert to two stops which would be much slower," said Hamilton.

"I think Monza is such a cool track but I don't know if it was a cool race to watch — more battles, more pitstops would have been nice.

"If they (Pirelli) had brought a softer tire it would have been a greater challenge, because the tire we had was really easy to look after," Hamilton added.

Brawn on possible comeback: Never say never
Ex-Formula 1 team boss Ross Brawn has reiterated that he is not on the lookout for a new position in the top echelon of motorsport, but has refused to rule out making a comeback should a suitable opportunity arise.

Earlier this month, new Ferrari team boss Marco Mattiacci stated that "everyone would like to have or see Ross back at Ferrari", with Brawn playing a role in the Italian marque's domination of Formula 1 in the early 2000s.

Since Luca di Montezemolo's announcement that he is to step aside as Ferrari President, speculation has grown that Brawn, who visited Maranello with friends earlier this year, could find a place amid the restructuring.

In an interview with Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, Brawn explained: "I'm not thinking about a role at Ferrari or somewhere else. My visit to Maranello in May was purely of a private nature. We did talk a bit about what if, but not in a serious manner. I'm not in contact with Ferrari and I'm not actively looking for a role in Formula 1."

But when pushed on the matter, he said: "Never say never. You never know what opportunities might pop up."

Brawn was most recently involved in Formula 1 as Mercedes team boss, a role he left at the end of 2013.

Pirelli reveals compounds for Suzuka, Sochi
Pirelli has revealed its tire compound nominations for the Japanese and Russian Grands Prix.

The Italian manufacturer will supply its Medium (White-marked) and Hard (Orange-marked) compounds for the Suzuka event, while it will take the Soft (Yellow-marked) and Medium steps to the all-new Sochi Autodrom.

Pirelli's choices for the United States, Brazil and Abu Dhabi rounds are the only yet to be announced.

Gutierrez says other teams would be happy to take his check
Esteban Gutierrez has claimed that he has "other opportunities" to consider for the 2015 Formula 1 season, although his priority is to remain with Sauber for what would be a third full-time campaign.

Gutierrez, a former GP3 champion and race winner in GP2, had to wait until December last year to confirm his place on the 2014 grid, but this time expects to finalize his future plans with a handful of races to spare.

"It's one of my priorities [to stay with the team next year]. I have other opportunities [within Formula 1] which are also attractive but in the next two or three weeks let's see what happens," Gutierrez told GPUpdate.net.

Gutierrez added that he does not feel threatened by the increasing presence of reserve driver Giedo van der Garde, who has been involved in seven Friday practice sessions and multiple tests so far this season.

"I don't feel threatened," said the Mexican. "He has his role and he is doing his best within his role. He's also a good guy who I get along with well. I have nothing against it. It's something that doesn't bother me.

"I'm really focused on my work with the team and engineers. We've been doing good progress in the last few races. It's something that needs to be considered that I've been working with this team for years."

Gutierrez's ties with Sauber stretch back to 2009, when the team handed him his first Formula 1 test. The following year, he was named as its test and reserve driver, before stepping up to a race seat in 2013.

What the F1 radio clampdown means
Formula 1 drivers face an increased workload at future Grands Prix with confirmation that the FIA is to restrict pit-to-car radio messages including information about car or driver performance. GPUpdate.net put some key questions to the governing body to clear up what will and will not be permitted from Singapore.

Q: Will race control first give a warning if a team goes too far, or will there be an instant sanction?
FIA: With a clear set of guidelines, we see no reason for there to be warnings.

Q: Does Article 20.1 of the Sporting Regulations (stating that a driver must drive the car alone and unaided) only apply to the race or also to practice sessions and qualifying?
FIA: It will apply to the entire event.

Q: Is the message that a driver should come in for a pit-stop a breach of the regulations?
FIA: We think that it would be OK to allow teams to tell drivers when to stop for tires.

Q: Is a warning that the driver is tight on fuel consumption a breach of the regulations?
FIA: Yes, we believe so. The driver should see that on the dashboard (like a fuel gauge on a road car). *

Q: Are warnings about the condition of the brakes or tires (slow puncture) still allowed?
FIA: No, this should be displayed to the driver from data gathered onboard, again like a fuel gauge.

Q: Are commands such as SOC 3, MIX 5, FUEL 2 still allowed?
FIA: No, definitely not. This is exactly what we feel infringes Article 20.1.

Q: What about all of the instructions the drivers receive on a formation lap in order to warm up the tires and brakes, synchronize the gearbox, carry out burnouts and so on?
FIA: None of this would be allowed as again, this is exactly what we feel infringes Article 20.1.

Q: What about team orders (overtake, do not overtake)?
FIA: This should be OK.

Q: What about information regarding traffic in qualifying and the race?
FIA: This will not be a problem.

Q: Will the radio messages of all 22 cars be checked, or just those on the world feed?
FIA: We listen to and record all the conversations.

* Not all the teams race with the new, larger LCD display screens – such as Red Bull, Williams and Lotus – meaning they would have to consider switching or face leaving their drivers with less information.

Wolff concerned about radio crackdown, super license issue
(GMM) Toto Wolff on Friday expressed concerns about F1's new radio communications clampdown.

The likes of Red Bull's Christian Horner and F1 legend Alain Prost earlier welcomed the news that "performance"-related radio messages would from Singapore next weekend be subject to penalties by the FIA.

The move is in accordance with the existing rule about drivers needing to "drive the car alone and unaided", and concerns by fans that the craft of their 'heroes' is being diluted by the detailed instructions of engineers.

But although Mercedes is part of the F1 strategy group that, at Monza last Friday, green-lighted the FIA's clampdown, boss Toto Wolff made clear on Friday that he does not agree.

"This is a complex and controversial decision which will require a significant effort from the teams to understand how best we can work around it," said the Austrian.

"The directive is not yet fully clear and there will inevitably be some controversy, so it will need further clarification as to how much the essential on-track procedures will be affected — particularly before the start of the race," he added.

Elsewhere on Friday, as the all-new Formula E series prepares for its inaugural race in Beijing, the FIA's World Motor Sport Council took the opportunity to get together in the sprawling Chinese capital.

A 20-race calendar for 2015 featuring Mexico was given the go-ahead, but also voted through was a commitment to look into how F1 'super licenses' are handed out.

The mandatory credential has come under scrutiny recently, as the likes of Max Verstappen prepares for his debut — a 16-year-old who by completing a 300km F1 test qualifies to race in F1, but is unable to obtain an ordinary drivers' license in his native Holland.

The matter was also discussed by F1 team bosses at Monza last week.

"We had the discussion," Wolff confirmed, "and we still believe formula one is the pinnacle of motor sport and formula one drivers should be people who inspire, drivers who inspire, and they should have the qualification."

So on Friday, the World Motor Sport Council resolved to "review the qualification and conditions for the issuing of a super license" in time for 2016.

Mercedes to correct gear ratio flaw for Singapore
(GMM) Mercedes' rivals are in for some bad news — the dominant German team looks set to pull even further ahead in Singapore and beyond.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that the Brackley team will correct its flawed gear ratio selection ahead of the night race in the Asian city-state next weekend.

The rules dictate that the gear ratios chosen by each competitor at the start of 2014 are then frozen for the entire year — with the exception of one "joker".

Mercedes has now decided to make that "joker" ratio change for the rest of the season, beginning in Singapore.

Auto Motor und Sport reports that it was on the long straights at Monza last weekend that Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg used eighth gear for the very first time.

"It (eighth gear) was too long for all the other circuits," admitted designer Aldo Costa.

Mercedes' miscalculation will now be corrected with a shorter eighth gear for Singapore and the subsequent decisive rounds of the world championship.

Curiously, the German marque's customer, the surprisingly competitive Williams, got its gear ratio calculation right from the very beginning in 2014.

But technical boss Pat Symonds admits: "We were a little nervous at first because we thought they (Mercedes) would know their engine inside out.

"After a few races I was reassured," he added.

Symonds said that even though the eighth gear was introduced this year especially for the new turbo V6 rules, in the end it was unnecessary.

"The engines have so much torque that we could make do with a five speed gearbox," he said. "It would save a lot of weight and space.

"Unfortunately, the regulations prescribe the eighth gear — otherwise we would have never had it," said Symonds.

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