Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Marco Mattiacci

    Schumacher moved within Grenoble hospital – report

  • Hamilton, Rosberg have 'two year contracts' – Wolff
  • Mercedes understands Canada problems – Wolff
  • Ricciardo 'can be champion' – Berger
  • Liberty Global, Discovery in talks regarding F1 stake
  • Formula 1 valued at around $8 billion in stake sale
  • Ferrari needs a long hard look at itself – Marco Mattiacci

Schumacher moved within Grenoble hospital – report
(GMM) Michael Schumacher has been moved to a special rehabilitation unit at the hospital in Grenoble, according to the German weekly newsmagazine Bunte.

Last week, a private German rehabilitation clinic in Allensbach denied reports that it was already treating the seven time world champion.

The DPA news agency said 45-year-old Schumacher, who has been in a coma since a skiing fall in late December, is still at the Grenoble hospital.

But Bunte is reporting in its latest issue that, even though the former Ferrari and Mercedes driver's chances of recovery are now small, Schumacher is now being prepared for rehabilitation.

He has reportedly already been discharged from the neurological care unit at the Grenoble University hospital, and transferred to a unit specializing in rehabilitation treatment.

Citing clinical sources, Bunte added that Schumacher's next phase of treatment will prepare him for transferral to a specialist rehabilitation clinic.

Hamilton, Rosberg have 'two year contracts' – Wolff
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will remain paired at Mercedes for at least the next two years.

That is the claim of boss and team co-owner Toto Wolff, on the heels of a wave of speculation about the future lineup of the currently dominant F1 outfit.

Earlier, Wolff played down reports Mercedes could be eyeing the frustrated Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, while Mercedes' 2014 star Lewis Hamilton was this week spotted at Ferrari's Maranello headquarters.

Nico Rosberg's place at the silver-clad team was also in doubt until team figures declared the 28-year-old German in fact has a "long term" contract.

Also committed to Mercedes is Hamilton, Austrian Wolff told a group of Spanish reporters at the team's Brackley headquarters this week.

"Our drivers have contracts for two years, so we cannot consider any possibility," Wolff is quoted by Marco Canseco, the correspondent for the Spanish sports daily Marca.

When asked about Alonso, Wolff answered: "Everyone knows that he is one of the best drivers on the grid, and one that fits with what Mercedes wants.

"But we already have two of the best," he added.

Mercedes understands Canada problems – Wolff
(GMM) Mercedes already understands the issue that in Canada ended the dominant team's run of one-two victories.

In Montreal, championship leader Nico Rosberg fell to second behind F1's newest winner Daniel Ricciardo, while the sister W05 of Lewis Hamilton failed to finish.

Reports this week said the technical problems with both cars began almost simultaneously, when the energy recovery systems overheated.

"We were trying a new cooling system for the first time. It seems the new software went crazy," team boss Toto Wolff told Bild newspaper earlier this week.

On Thursday, at the German team's Brackley (UK) factory, he indicated that Mercedes engineers now understand what went wrong.

"We exceeded certain temperatures, which was a miscalculation," Wolff told the Austrian news agency APA.

"We know exactly what it was. It will not happen again," he promised.

Wolff said the new cooling system will be used on the silver cars once again when the racing resumes in Austria next weekend.

"The cooling itself was not the problem," he explained. "We only did not have the temperatures on the radar, not assessing them as critical.

"Now we know the limits," added Wolff.

Gerhard Berger, a former F1 driver and team manager, thinks that despite reigning world champion Red Bull's breakthrough win in Canada, Mercedes will continue to dominate in 2014.

"I don't think anyone can seriously challenge Mercedes," he said, "except when they have technical problems."

As for the silver title duel between Hamilton and Rosberg, dubbed by the German-language media as 'Star Wars', Berger said it will continue to be a tight battle.

"Lewis is probably the fastest driver in formula one at the moment," said the 54-year-old Austrian.

"But I also count on Nico for his better consistency, his intelligence and his more detailed work," added Berger.

Ricciardo 'can be champion' – Berger
(GMM) Daniel Ricciardo is world championship material, according to F1 legend Gerhard Berger.

Berger, a former race winner for McLaren and Ferrari, said he has been impressed with the 24-year-old Australian since he stepped up to Red Bull this year.

"He still has not made a mistake," the Austrian told the APA news agency.

"He is a new star. If he has a car that is right, he can be world champion."

Ricciardo won his first grand prix in Canada last weekend, two places ahead of his high-profile teammate Sebastian Vettel.

Berger knows Vettel well, having given the German his first seat in formula one in 2007 when he co-owned the Toro Rosso team.

"We know how good and fast Vettel is, a four-time world champion. But at the moment, Ricciardo is the measure of things for the team," he said.

"If Ricciardo had not had the penalties at the beginning of the season, he would be just behind Lewis Hamilton in the world championship," added Berger.

Liberty Global, Discovery in talks regarding F1 stake
John Malone's Liberty Global Plc and Discovery Communications Inc are in discussions with the owners of Formula One to bridge a $1 billion gap in the valuation of the motor-racing series as they seek to buy a 49 percent stake, according to Bloomberg.

CVC Capital Partners, a London-based private equity firm, and Lehman Brothers Holdings want about $500 million more for the stake, the report said, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

Discussions with CVC Capital Partners Ltd and Lehman Brothers are ongoing although a deal may not be reached, the report added.

CVC remains the largest shareholder in Formula One with a stake of around 35 percent.

CVC may also contemplate an initial public offering of Formula One, according to Bloomberg, although the sources added that it is unlikely to occur before the conclusion of a trial involving Chief Executive Officer Bernie Ecclestone.

Discovery Communications and Liberty Global were not immediately available for comment. CVC Capital Partners and Lehman Brothers were also unavailable for comment. Reuters

Formula 1 valued at around $8 billion in stake sale
The well-known motorsport competition has been recently courted by John Malone’s Liberty Global Plc and Discovery Communications Inc., with the two working together to take a 49 % stake in the series, according to sources.

The people, who have been briefed on the plans but declined to be named because the process is still private and might not even see a deal being reached, disclosed that Liberty and Discovery are negotiating with CVC Capital Partners and Lehman Brothers – with the first owning 35.5 % of the Formula 1 auto-racing series, while the bankrupt Lehamn holding 15.3 %. According to the sources, the talks have hit a snag, as both Liberty Global and Discovery want to give only $4 billion for the whole stake, while the latter think their half of the business is worth an extra $500 million – valuing Formula 1 at $9 billion.

The three people that have knowledge of the matter did say that despite the pricing difference, the talks have a solid base and have been progressing so far, with Liberty Global and Discovery aiming for the acquisition in order to bring more sports content to their European cable-TV ownerships. Discovery for instance has already made earlier this year a 51% investment into the European sports media group Eurosport International.

Ferrari needs a long hard look at itself – Marco Mattiacci
Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci has told his team it needs to have "a long hard look" at what it is doing if it is to achieve better results.

Ferrari's slow start to the season saw Stefano Domenicali stand down as team principal after just three races and Mattiacci take over. Despite scoring a podium on his first race in charge, Mattiacci says recent performances – including last weekend's 6th- and 10th-place finishes in Canada – are not acceptable.

"The final result [in Canada] was definitely not satisfactory, far from it, but the improvement in performance seen over the weekend shows that to get the most out of our package, we have to push in those areas where our opponents are making the difference," he said. "As for the future, I can't make predictions, but I would ask the team to take a long hard look at what they are doing and work together, putting in maximum effort so that our drivers can fight for more ambitious results."

Ferrari's main weakness remains its V6 turbo power unit, with the F14 T significantly down on power compared to rivals Mercedes. Aerodynamic and engine updates were brought to the car in Canada, but Fernando Alonso said they were not all successful.

"There are some new parts that we didn't use due to the temperatures and on the engine side there were minimal changes all related to the software, so I don't think the step there was something that we could feel," he said. "I expect that the next race will be better, not because Austria suits our car, but because here we were too far from the points with our two cars [in Canada]."

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