Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Despite losing their shirt on F1, Melbourne renews F1 deal at much lower cost

    Melbourne secures place on F1 calendar

  • Marko eyes F1 debut for rookie Verstappen
  • Glock not looking for F1 return
  • Mercedes not ending contract with injured Schumacher
  • Wolff begins summer break in hospital
  • F1 to 'welcome' Ecclestone court settlement – Lauda
  • Video: F1 2014 Mid-Season Highlights

Melbourne secures place on F1 calendar
(GMM) The future of the Australian grand prix is secure.

"To know there are many more home grands prix to come is great," new F1 sensation Daniel Ricciardo told the Herald Sun newspaper.

Amid annual $50 million-plus losses, the Melbourne race beyond 2015 had been in serious doubt as organizers warned they wanted a better deal from Bernie Ecclestone.

But it has now been announced officially that the sport is staying at Albert Park for at least five more years after the signing of a new 2016-2020 contract.

"I congratulate Australian grand prix corporation chairman Ron Walker for his success as a tough negotiator in getting the best deal for Victoria," said state premier Denis Napthine.

Napthine told media outlets that the new deal includes clauses ensuring Melbourne will continue to host F1's season opener, and not under floodlights at night.

And the Herald Sun said the F1 supremo had also agreed to keep allowing organizers to display prominent 'Melbourne' branding, run the V8 supercar support race, and keep corporate hospitality takings.

"We've secured a great deal for the people of Victoria that's a better deal than the existing deal," Napthine, amid suggestions the race is too expensive for taxpayers, told local 3AW radio.

"The new deal is on the same terms as the existing contract in that it will be the first race of the season, it will be in March each year," he added.

In other F1 race news, Russia's Championat is reporting rumors organizers of the 2016 grand prix in Azerbaijan will shortly begin to sponsor the Caterham team.

And despite controversy in the wake of the MH17 atrocity, race organizers in Russia have nearly completed the new Sochi circuit by laying the asphalt surface.

"I think it's going to be a spectacular race," said F1 race director Charlie Whiting.

"The track itself is going to be really fast, and the drivers will love it, I'm sure of that."

In Melbourne, Rolfe & Johnston wrote the premier distanced himself from Ecclestone, saying that "he did not agree with some of Mr Ecclestone's views including on homosexuality." He refused to comment on Ecclestone’s coming trial on bribery charges, saying that "it would not be appropriate for him to comment."

After more than a year of negotiations, "the contract was signed in London late last week."

Napthine hailed the outcome as a "fantastic" win for Victoria, and said the Grand Prix was an integral part of the state's successful major events strategy. Last yr's Grand Prix cost taxpayers A$50.67M "and a similar public subsidy is expected for this year's race."

F1 sources said the revised deal was "comparable or better" than the existing contract due to expire next year, in line with demands by Napthine that it be a “fair deal for Victorian taxpayers" HERALD SUN

Marko eyes F1 debut for rookie Verstappen
(GMM) Red Bull may not be giving up on hot talent Max Verstappen.

The talented 16-year-old son of former F1 driver Jos Verstappen, in the midst of a meteoric switch from karting to junior single seaters, recently visited the paddock on the invitation of several formula one teams.

Father and son sat down with the boss of Red Bull's prolific driver development program, Dr Helmut Marko, but reportedly ultimately decided to sign with Mercedes.

Italy's Autosprint said recently that Verstappen Jr hopes to make the move to GP2 for 2015, but in the meantime could shortly make his F1 test debut.

However, Italiaracing reports that the story of Verstappen's dramatic arrival on the formula one radar may have taken a sharp twist at the weekend.

As the Red Bull Ring hosted the latest F3 round, the Verstappens apparently had a "long meeting" with Marko.

Austrian Marko, a high profile member of Red Bull's premier world championship-winning F1 team, then joined the Verstappen camp on the F3 race grid.

The upshot is that "Red Bull is willing to pay the (contract) penalty" to sign the young Dutchman to its program, Italiaracing claims.

And that's not all. Marko has reportedly promised Max, who will be a mere 17 at the time of the 2015 season opener, his F1 race debut in a Toro Rosso next year.

Verstappen would most likely take the seat currently occupied by Jean-Eric Vergne, who has been at Toro Rosso for three years but is being overshadowed in 2014 by the 20-year-old rookie Daniil Kvyat.

It was believed Vergne's seat would be filled for 2015 by another Red Bull-backed hotshoe, Carlos Sainz Jr.

As the 'silly season' shapes up, however, there are other possibilities. Perhaps Verstappen and Sainz will be paired at Toro Rosso, while Russian Kvyat moves to Red Bull Racing.

"Daniil has been sensational so far," Red Bull team boss Christian Horner is quoted by the Spanish sports daily AS.

With McLaren pushing hard to sign a top driver like Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull could pair its on-form surprise of the 2014 season, Daniel Ricciardo, with Kvyat.

Horner, however, played down the possibility of a driver change for 2015.

"We have 100 per cent the best driver pairing in formula one," he told Sport Bild.

"Seb is comfortable with us, trusts us. He has won 38 races with us and you don't forget that easily.

"And I don't think Seb actually wants to go somewhere else," Horner insisted.

Glock not looking for F1 return
(GMM) Timo Glock has admitted he has all but given up on the thought of returning to formula one.

After Toyota withdrew from F1, the talented German raced for Virgin/Marussia for three years until he accepted a plum works BMW seat in the premier touring car series DTM last year.

And Glock, now 32, told the German news agency DPA that he is not thinking about mounting a bid to return to F1.

"It is pretty clear that in the current situation there are just three or four teams who can choose and pay for their drivers," he said.

"The rest look for how much money the driver can bring. In my eyes, that's not the purpose of the sport.

"That's why at the moment I don't see a future and don't waste thoughts thinking about it," Glock added.

He said he is happy with BMW in the DTM.

"At the moment I'm having a lot of fun so I would be happy if I could continue for a few more years," said Glock.

Mercedes not ending contract with injured Schumacher
(GMM) Mercedes has vowed to stick with Michael Schumacher as the F1 legend continues his recovery from a skiing fall last December.

In June, as Schumacher remained in intensive care, one of the great German's personal sponsors – the bottled water brand Rosbacher – said it would end its advertising deal with the former Ferrari and Mercedes driver.

Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche, however, said Mercedes-Benz is not looking to terminate its contract with brand ambassador Schumacher despite the seven time world champion's continuing recovery in a Swiss rehabilitation hospital.

"We are pleased with the positive development," Zetsche, referring to the reported improvement in Schumacher's condition, told Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

"We hope fervently that it continues," he added.

When asked about Mercedes' commitment to Schumacher despite his injuries, Zetsche answered: "We have given no thoughts to changing something in the contract."

He said he had not visited Schumacher in hospital or rehabilitation since the skiing accident due to his "highest respect" for the family's privacy.

Wolff begins summer break in hospital
(GMM) Toto Wolff began his summer break in hospital, the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag reports.

During a pre-Hungary team building exercise, Mercedes' team boss broke his arm in several places in a high speed road cycling pileup.

Wolff, 42, had surgery to repair the damage but nonetheless made it to the paddock for the Hungarian grand prix.

But just days after the race at the Hungaroring, Wolff was due to travel to London for a meeting with fellow team chiefs.

The meeting was reportedly cancelled because the Austrian fell ill.

In fact, he was in hospital.

"After the race in Budapest I suddenly had a fever and had to return to the clinic," Wolff confirmed.

The newspaper said the doctors ordered that his mobile phone be switched off for at least 48 hours.

"I just had to rest as the injuries were easily inflamed," Wolff explained.

But his period of rest did not prevent him from lashing out at the cloud of 'negativity' that is sweeping F1, particularly after the crowd numbers at Hockenheim recently were so low.

"Just because Hockenheim had lower numbers doesn't mean the sport is bad," he exclaimed.

"I can't stand this permanent bad-talk about formula one. It is simply wrong.

"We haven't had so much overtaking in the last 20 years. We have Alonso keeping Ferrari in there with his amazing performances. We have the exciting question of whether Ferrari throw Kimi Raikkonen out.

"We have Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel desperately fighting back after four world championships. And we have our two drivers fighting freely for the title," said Wolff.

Nonetheless, the cancelled crisis meeting has been rescheduled.

"We do not need a revolution, but an evolution," Wolff insisted.

F1 to 'welcome' Ecclestone court settlement – Lauda
(GMM) Niki Lauda says F1 should "welcome" the news that Bernie Ecclestone looks to have settled the high-profile corruption case that threatened his role at the top of the sport.

Suddeutsche Zeitung has reported that the 83-year-old Briton has agreed with prosecutors and the Munich court that a $100 million compensation payment will see serious criminal charges – which could have left him in jail – dropped.

"On behalf of formula one, Mercedes and all the other teams, I would only welcome it if Bernie can concentrate on formula one and together with the teams solve the existing problems," the newspaper quoted Lauda as saying.

"If Bernie stops, it would have been a disaster for formula one," the triple world champion and Mercedes team chairman added.

"He has built everything up over three decades and is the only one who knows everything — the business, the details of the teams. Everything is in his head," said Lauda.

A guilty verdict would have seen Ecclestone, F1's chief executive and long-time 'supremo', almost certainly ousted from his position by CVC chief Donald Mackenzie.

"If all the allegations are gone from the table, then Bernie has done everything right," Lauda insisted.

"Then all the speculation ends. Continuity is very important at the top of formula one for the future," he added.

Video: F1 2014 Mid-Season Highlights
The 2014 Formula 1 season can be described as one of the most exciting seasons in the recent times, despite the dominance of Mercedes and Mercedes-powered cars, every single race can offer exciting moments and the summer break is even more annoying this year. Especially after the Hungarian GP, probably the best race of the season. Please feel free to enjoy my mid-season highlights video of F1 2014 season so far and I hope we will have a brilliant end of 2014!

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