Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Sainz Jr, another F1 hopeful's career dead on arrival?

    Ecclestone settled case for good of F1 – lawyer

  • New Nurburgring owner misses payment due date
  • Sainz Jr on hold after Verstappen signing
  • Friday debut at Sochi 'very possible' – Sirotkin
  • FIA bans 'Fric' officially
  • Wolff 'advised' Verstappen to sign with Red Bull
  • Red Bull using electric engine for pitstop practice
  • Alonso the 'only genius' in F1 today – Stewart
  • Kobayashi using Spa sideline to ponder F1 'harmony'

Ecclestone settled case for good of F1 – lawyer
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone ended his bribery trial with a record $100 million payment for the good of formula one.

That is the claim of the F1 supremo's lawyer Sven Thomas, who told Forbes he thinks the legal team did a "good job because the other guy got eight and a half years".

In contrast to the jailed Gerhard Gribkowsky, Ecclestone was able to pay the huge price for ending the trial that otherwise would have dragged on for months.

"We have to keep in mind," Thomas told F1 business journalist Christian Sylt, "that formula one must go on and if it went on with this trial for the next five months then it would mean that problems in formula one could arise.

"So Bernie said 'Ok I do not intend to go on with this if I get a settlement without conviction and the presumption of innocence is still valid'.

"The rest of course was just a question of money and that was what Bernie had to decide. I think he really decided on this because he wants to go on with formula one," added Thomas.

New Nurburgring owner misses payment due date
(GMM) The Nurburgring's sale has hit a fork in the road.

In March, the financially embattled German grand prix host was bought for a reported EUR 77 million by a Dusseldorf based automotive group called Capricorn.

Capricorn has since been successfully negotiating with Bernie Ecclestone about a new long-term race contract.

But Rhein Zeitung newspaper has now claimed that Capricorn has not paid the second due installment to the Rhineland-Palatinate state.

Citing sources, the report said the amount of 5 million euros became due on July 31. To date, Capricorn has only paid one installment in the same amount.

"It is assumed that Capricorn's financing from banks has come to a standstill because the European Commission has postponed several times the decision on the legality of the sale," Rhein Zeitung reported.

A spokesman for the financial recovery experts in charge of the Nurburgring insolvency said: "We have a timescale shift for the second purchase installment.

"We still expect the sale to go ahead," he is quoted by Speed Week.

And Capricorn chief Robertino Wild told Auto Bild it is "untrue" the payment delay is in fact due to the company's own financial problems.

"This is a completely normal process. The operation of the business is going very well," he added.

Sainz Jr on hold after Verstappen signing
(GMM) In the wake of Max Verstappen's signing, life goes on for two other drivers who were overtaken by the fresh-faced teenager.

Last year, Antonio Felix da Costa was the cream of Red Bull's development program, but a dip in form saw him miss out on a Toro Rosso seat to Daniil Kvyat.

Now, Verstappen has overtaken the 22-year-old Portuguese as well.

"I can only say that I have never enjoyed a season as much as this year in DTM with BMW and Red Bull," da Costa, also involved in the new Formula E series, wrote on Instagram.

"(DTM is) such a hard series full of pro drivers. May another 10 years come, and best of luck to this kid Max Verstappen," he added.

Da Costa also sent out his best wishes to Carlos Sainz Jr, who until Verstappen's surprise contention at Toro Rosso was expected to make his F1 debut in 2015.

"To you my friend Carlos Sainz, I have been there," said da Costa. "Just keep pushing because that's what you're seriously good at!"

The Spanish sports newspaper Marca claims that, following promising meetings recently between 19-year-old Sainz, his famous namesake and father and Dr Helmut Marko, the Sainz duo is now confused about the future.

Another Spanish newspaper, AS, said that in the wake of Verstappen's signing, Sainz Jr met again with Red Bull's Marko on Wednesday.

"The meeting was positive," said the driver, currently comfortably leading the competitive Formula Renault 3.5 series.

"Red Bull wants to support me and are trying to find a solution, even for next year," added the 19-year-old Sainz.

Friday debut at Sochi 'very possible' – Sirotkin
(GMM) Sergey Sirotkin is still hopeful he will make his F1 weekend debut in 2014.

Earlier a shoo-in for a Sauber seat amid the Swiss team's supposed Russian rescue deal, the 18-year-old has more recently appeared to be on the backburner.

"I'm just a test driver," he told Russia 2 sports television this week.

"With the test in Bahrain I got the (super) license so it is very possible that I will drive at Sochi on Friday. At the very least I will be with the team.

"For me it's a positive thing — to gain experience.

"There are some options for next year, on which we are working very hard," Moscow-born Sirotkin added, "and I think that one of them should work out."

FIA bans 'Fric' officially
(GMM) 'Fric' has now been officially banned by F1's governing body.

A controversy about the 'front and rear interconnected' suspension layouts came to a head before Hockenheim, when the FIA flagged the potential illegality of the technology.

In the end, every team using 'Fric' agreed to remove the systems voluntarily in Germany and also Hungary.

Now, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that Fric has been officially banned, effective immediately ahead of the weekend's Belgian grand prix.

The decision follows a meeting between team technical bosses and the FIA's Charlie Whiting.

Wolff 'advised' Verstappen to sign with Red Bull
(GMM) Toto Wolff has admitted Mercedes came close to signing up F1 rookie sensation Max Verstappen.

Ultimately, the 16-year-old Dutchman and his father-manager Jos went with Red Bull's famous driver program, after Dr Helmut Marko promised him a race seat for 2015 at Toro Rosso.

"We had several meetings with Jos and Max," Wolff, Mercedes' motor sport chief, confirmed to the German newspaper Bild.

"He is certainly a great talent, but we would not and could not guarantee him a seat with us in formula one.

"So I advised them to accept the offer from Red Bull," Wolff confirmed.

Verstappen's signing at a very young age – before he even qualifies for a license to drive a road car – is controversial and it will be a big talking point throughout the Belgian GP weekend.

But F1 legend Emerson Fittipaldi thinks the talented Dutchman can be ready for his record-breaking 2015 debut.

"Today, with all the electronic help, young drivers with talent are able to go very fast right off the bat," he told Brazil's Globo.

"Last year I had the chance to drive a new Lotus and the car is really well balanced.

"The drivers also have a very large support team around them.

"I am good friends with Franz Tost, he has worked with the drivers who later went to Red Bull like Vettel and Ricciardo, so I trust him a lot," Fittipaldi added.

Red Bull using electric engine for pitstop practice
(GMM) Red Bull was experimenting with an all-electric formula one car at Spa on Wednesday, publications reveal.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport and Italy's Autosprint say the reigning world champions' electric prototype was in fact a 2013 Red Bull RB9 sporting a 2014 nose.

But the real novelty was its propulsion — an all-electric motor to power the car in and out of the pitlane 'box' as the mechanics practiced pit stops.

After a practice stop, Autosprint correspondent Alberto Antonini reveals, the mechanic in the cockpit pushed a button, a reverse warning 'beeps', and the car lurched backwards to be ready for another stop.

"This is the new Formula E," Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Tobias Gruner quoted a Red Bull mechanic as joking.

He added that among the fascinated observers in the Spa-Francorchamps pitlane on Wednesday was none other than FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer.

Alonso the 'only genius' in F1 today – Stewart
(GMM) Fernando Alonso is the best driver in formula one today.

That is the claim of F1 legend and triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart, who said the Ferrari-driving Spaniard is in fact the only "genius" on the 2014 grid.

Asked by the Spanish sports newspaper Marca to name the best driver in F1 today, the 75-year-old Scot said: "Mentally, probably Alonso. The fastest is perhaps Lewis Hamilton.

"Rosberg is definitely one of the best, more consistent, and on the same level I think is Vettel. Those are the best," said Stewart.

"In the world there are hundreds of millions of drivers, several thousand make their living from it, a few hundred live very well.

"There are 22 grand prix drivers, maybe six of them are really good, three exceptional, but there is only one genius. So if I had to choose the most complete driver I would say Alonso," he explained.

And not only that, Stewart thinks Alonso, at 33, is in the prime of his racing life.

"I think it's the perfect age," he said. "He has lived the good, the bad and the ugly."

Arguably, however, the present is one of those 'ugly' phases for Alonso; highly paid but missing a third career title ever since he switched to Ferrari in 2010.

"I don't know if he should change teams," Stewart said, "but what I do know is that he will have to make that decision in the next six to eight weeks."

Kobayashi using Spa sideline to ponder F1 'harmony'
(GMM) Kamui Kobayashi will spend the Spa-Francorchamps weekend out of the cockpit and assessing the potential 'lack of harmony' in his racing life.

Although still under contract to Caterham, the team's new management has sidelined the popular Japanese for at least the Belgian grand prix in favor of 32-year-old F1 rookie and reigning Le Mans winner Andre Lotterer.

"It's a shame not to drive Spa," Kobayashi told his more than 150,000 Twitter followers. "I feel sorry for all my supporters but this is motor sports — I hope not!"

Able to bring little to the table for the increasingly sponsorship-minded new Caterham chiefs, Kobayashi has earlier lamented the increasing power of the 'pay driver' but also life at the back of the grid in 2014.

Asked in Hungary recently if the uncompetitive Caterham is giving him the tools to showcase his famously attacking style, he admitted: "Not really!

"It's not really happy but I need to hope that one day I'm going to make something, a really exciting race. A 'train' race is not really exciting," he said.

Now, after his ousting, Kobayashi posted a Leonardo da Vinci quote to his Twitter followers in Japanese.

In English, the quote is: "Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer.

"Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen," the fabled Italian painter had said.

Caterham's decision to axe Kobayashi has been criticized by former team technical boss Mike Gascoyne, who is still involved in the wider Tony Fernandes-led Caterham Group.

"Such a shame that Kamui is not driving for Caterham at Spa," the Briton said on Twitter. "He was their only hope of regaining tenth place but (the decision is) typical of the new management."

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