Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • American Alexander Rossi hoping to land a ride with the American Haas F1 team

    Caterham axes 'at least 50' F1 staff

  • Boss 'not worried' about Hockenheim future
  • Mercedes wants driver duo 'til the cows come home'
  • FIFA 'wants to ban' Rosberg's world cup helmet
  • Raikkonen fit for German GP
  • Fans enjoyed 'kindergarten' complaining – Vettel
  • Mercedes to run without 'Fric' at Hockenheim
  • Haas paid '$20m deposit' for F1 team entry
  • Caterham F1 Team Restructuring announcement

Caterham axes 'at least 50' F1 staff
(GMM) "At least 50" Caterham staff have left the Leafield based team, according to Speed Week.

Ahead of the British grand prix, the Tony Fernandes-founded team's new advisor Colin Kolles admitted that up to a hundred of the 300-strong workforce might have to go as he makes Caterham more "efficient" for the future.

The BBC, Reuters and the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf on Wednesday said "more than 40" employees were let go in the days between Silverstone and this weekend's German grand prix.

Reportedly among the departures were technical boss Jody Eggington and track operations chief Gerry Hughes.

Test driver Alexander Rossi also exits with immediate effect, although – for now at least – fellow tester Robin Frijns is safe, as are racers Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson.

Speed Week, however, reports that "at least 50" Caterham staff are in fact leaving, including designer Lewis Butler and head of research and development Elliot Dason-Barber.

Caterham, now owned by mysterious Middle Eastern investors operating out of Switzerland, would not comment.

Boss 'not worried' about Hockenheim future
(GMM) Hockenheim is not looking at this weekend's German grand prix as its last.

That is the claim of circuit boss Georg Seiler, amid reports a deal between Bernie Ecclestone and the Nurburgring could end an alternating scheme that currently sees Hockenheim host a grand prix every second year.

Recently, the Nurburgring's new owners Capricorn issued a press statement indicating that it will be the exclusive host of the annual German grand prix beginning next year.

Seiler, however, told the German news agency DPA that Hockenheim is not giving up.

"The fact is that Capricorn issued this message, not Bernie Ecclestone," he said.

"To do that four weeks before the German grand prix was, I think, a shame. As a rule, you maintain silence during negotiations, until a contract is signed."

It has been reported that Seiler will meet with F1 chief executive Ecclestone this weekend.

"We talk with him regularly," he confirmed. "But that is precisely the point — you do not give details of these confidential conversations."

Nevertheless, it appears Ecclestone and the Nurburgring are in the process of making their plans for a future without Hockenheim.

"Of course, one must pay respect to someone like him (Ecclestone)," Seiler insisted. "We have known him for more than 35 years and have a very good relationship.

"Logically, a relationship of trust has been established and we appreciate his professional approach."

Asked if he is worried about Hockenheim's future, Seiler insisted: "I'm not worried, as we have a contract until 2018.

Mercedes wants driver duo 'til the cows come home'
(GMM) Mercedes is so happy with its driver lineup it can imagine keeping Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg on board "until the cows come home".

Boss Toto Wolff's comments come on the day after German Rosberg's new contract was announced, which according to reports will extend for at least three more years.

And the same reports say Rosberg's pay has been about doubled, with his EUR 55 million deal bringing him almost eye-to-eye with Briton Hamilton's big pay-packet.

"The balance in the team is more important than anything else," Wolff is quoted by Germany's Die Welt newspaper.

On the face of it, Hamilton and Rosberg have clashed personally in 2014, as they battle for the 2014 crown with the dominant W05 cars.

But Wolff indicated that he sees Mercedes' pairing as similarly competitive but far more harmonious than many other potential driving combinations.

"We have deliberately avoided saying just how long the contract is," he insisted.

"But in the best case scenario, we all stay together until the cows come home," Wolff smiled.

Rosberg is also happy to give the impression of relative harmony with Hamilton, despite his rival saying recently that Germany is not really his home race.

"The interviewer started it as a joke," Rosberg said on Wednesday, "and my teammate then played along. I have no problem with that.

"We have a healthy rivalry as we fight every single race weekend for the win. That is precisely the challenge I am involved in motor sport for."

FIFA 'wants to ban' Rosberg's world cup helmet
(GMM) FIFA, the governing body of world football, "wants to ban" Nico Rosberg's special helmet livery for the German grand prix.

Earlier this week, delighted with the national team's world cup victory in Brazil, Mercedes driver Rosberg announced he will wear a "special edition helmet" this weekend in Hockenheim.

The 29-year-old German revealed on social media that the livery includes an image of "the FIFA trophy". It can be seen here.

But according to the major German daily Bild-Zeitung, FIFA "wants to ban" Rosberg from wearing it.

Indeed, in its public guidelines, FIFA warns that it vigorously protects the 'official marks' of the world cup, including the image of the famous golden trophy.

"Any unauthorized use of the official marks not only undermines the integrity of the FIFA world cup and its marketing program," said FIFA, "but also puts the interests of the worldwide football community at stake."

Raikkonen fit for German GP
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen will contest this weekend's German grand prix.

After bruising his ankle and knee with a 47G impact at the start of the British grand prix, the Finn sat out Ferrari's post-race Silverstone test.

But the Finnish broadcaster MTV3 said the 34-year-old is fighting fit for Hockenheim.

"Kimi Raikkonen will be at the wheel of his F14-T in the German grand prix" the Maranello based team confirmed.

Raikkonen caused a stir by saying at Silverstone that he will "probably" quit after 2015, but he insists he is still enjoying his time at Ferrari.

"I think it's a very good place to be," he told Britain's Sky.

"Obviously the racing hasn't been very good this year but that's the way it goes sometimes.

"We are trying to fix things, I need something very specific to be happy with the car and right now it's not happening, but for sure if I could choose to race for any team, I would take Ferrari.

"The day I hate racing I will stop, even if it's in the middle of the year I would walk away, but it's not now," Raikkonen added.

Meanwhile, Italy's Omnicorse reports that, as part of a restructuring at McLaren, Jenson Button has a new race engineer for Hockenheim and beyond.

The report said Tom Stallard replaces Dave Robson.

And it emerges that the driver steward at Hockenheim this weekend will be Jochen Mass, the famous German driver who is perhaps best known for being involved in Gilles Villeneuve's fatal crash in 1982.

Fans enjoyed 'kindergarten' complaining – Vettel
(GMM) World champion Sebastian Vettel has dismissed Niki Lauda's criticism in the wake of the British grand prix.

Having heard his excitable radio calls about Fernando Alonso's driving during their thrilling Silverstone duel, Mercedes chairman Lauda denounced Vettel for "screaming like a small, startled child".

"I don't really know what he said exactly," Vettel told the Spanish sports newspaper AS, "but I think that if you look at the fight Fernando and I had, it's not important.

"I was told that Alonso was complaining so I thought I should do the same. Maybe it was a bit like kindergarten and so I can understand what Niki didn't like, but I think that for the fans it was quite interesting," he smiled.

In reality, Vettel has bigger problems than Lauda or Alonso, and its name is Daniel Ricciardo.

"He's doing a great job, no doubt," the reigning quadruple world champion, referring to his new Red Bull teammate, said.

"It's good to see that there is fresh blood in formula one.

"I'm happy for him. He's having a very, very good start to the season."

Elsewhere, in an interview for Britain's Telegraph, Vettel admitted that he is getting his "a**e kicked" by the Australian so far.

But he plays down any comparison of his struggles with those of Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion who is failing to give Fernando Alonso a hard time at Ferrari in 2014.

"I don't really know what kind of problems Kimi is having," the German told AS, "but I think he is one of the most naturally talented drivers on the grid.

"He has demonstrated his talents on gravel and ice in rallying."

Vettel therefore implies that his and Raikkonen's problems are simply in adapting to the radically different cars.

"It not just my driving style," he said, "I've had many reliability problems but also in terms of speed, I'm still far from where I want to be.

"I need to work on myself and get over it, and I think I can," Vettel added.

Mercedes to run without 'Fric' at Hockenheim
(GMM) Championship leader Mercedes will remove its sophisticated 'Fric' system from the dominant W05 car for the German grand prix.

It is understood other teams – including Red Bull, McLaren, Force India, Toro Rosso and Caterham – are also preparing to run without the hydraulically-controlled suspension aid at Hockenheim.

That is because they fear some rivals might lodge official protests against the technology, following the FIA's announcement that 'Fric' might in fact be contrary to the technical regulations.

But it is believed the system aboard Mercedes' silver car, which has won eight of the nine races so far in 2014, is perhaps the most sophisticated of all, and worth up to half a second per lap.

Still, "It makes no sense to complain," boss Toto Wolff told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport on Wednesday.

"Whether it (banning Fric) makes sense during the season is a moot point. I have my personal opinion, but it doesn't matter.

"We need to analyze all of the data very carefully in order to be best prepared for the change," he revealed.

"Everyone has said that a Fric ban will hurt us most, but we want to prove that is not the case," Wolff added.

Auto Motor und Sport claims Mercedes conducted trials without 'Fric' aboard the car at the recent Silverstone test.

"The difference between 'with Fric' and 'without Fric' is not so great," championship leader Nico Rosberg insists.

"For sure you notice it, but other teams have also been using it this season. I don't even want to think about it too much.

"I have the fastest car and I want to win at Hockenheim," the German added.

Haas paid '$20m deposit' for F1 team entry
(GMM) Gene Haas proved his seriousness about entering formula one by paying a $20 million deposit.

That is the claim of F1 business journalist Christian Sylt, who told us the "more than $20m" deposit was paid at F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone's request.

Ecclestone told Forbes at Silverstone that he said to FIA president Jean Todt: "'You must see how honest they (Haas) are. Tell Haas to put a deposit down' and apparently they have."

US-based Haas, a Nascar team co-owner who for the F1 project is already aligned with Ferrari, intends to make its debut in 2016, probably with at least one American at the wheel.

The identity of that American could be Californian Alexander Rossi, who has now left Caterham as a F1 test and GP2 driver.

"We have a great opportunity to grow the sport in the States," he said on Wednesday, "and I believe the timing is perfect.

"I'm also very pleased to see an American F1 entry, Haas Formula, with plans to join the F1 grid in 2016," Rossi added.

Caterham F1 Team Restructuring announcement
Following the first steps of restructuring, Caterham F1 Team has confirmed today that a number of new appointments have been made.

Christijan Albers is now Team Principal, supported by Manfredi Ravetto, General Manager and Deputy Team Principal. Simon Shinkins has also joined the team as COO, as well as Miodrag Kotur who is now Team Manager. Michael Willmer is the team’s new Director of Legal Affairs and Gianluca Pisanello is promoted to Head of Trackside Engineering. Finally, John Iley is now the team’s Technical Director, leading the work being done to improve the 2014 car and the 2015 new car project.

The team has also confirmed that it has parted company with a number of employees. This is a necessary step taken by the new owners of Caterham F1 Team whose priority is the future of the team.

No further comment will be made at this time.

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