Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

06/04/14

  • Forza Rossa yet to lodge $20m F1 bond – report
  • Renault to 'complete' F1 crisis fix in Canada
  • Witness supports Ecclestone's blackmail defense
  • Canada GP future still in doubt
  • Univa becomes technical partner of Sahara Force India Formula One Team
  • Vettel says critics 'disrespectful' New
  • Former Formula One doctor fears for Michael Schumacher New

Forza Rossa yet to lodge $20m F1 bond – report
(GMM) Colin Kolles' new formula one team still has a high hurdle to clear before it can join the grid.

Media reports this week have claimed that – like the prospective 2016 outfit Haas Formula – the Ferrari-linked, Romanian-backed 'Forza Rossa' has also obtained the FIA's approval to enter the sport within the next two years.

It is believed Kolles, the former HRT and Force India chief, has received a 'letter of intent' from F1's governing body.

But PA Sport correspondent Ian Parkes explained on Tuesday: "They (Forza Rossa) have yet to lodge the required bond guarantee of $20m."

He said the team has until June 23 to lodge the bond.

Nonetheless, it appears that Kolles' plans are well advanced.

Italiaracing reports that the project has Romanian state and private links, held together by Ion Bazak, a senior Romanian politician and chairman of the Romanian importer of Ferrari road cars, also called Forza Rossa.

Also being reported from Italy is that Nicolo Petrucci, formerly Toro Rosso's aerodynamics chief and with links to both Ferrari and Dallara, could be set to join the Haas project.

Renault to 'complete' F1 crisis fix in Canada
(GMM) F1 engine supplier Renault will take stock of its recovery from an early-season technical crisis this weekend in Canada.

Ahead of the seventh round of the 2014 season, the French marque announced it will "complete the process" of fixing its troubled turbo V6 power unit in Montreal.

"At the start of the season we said that we would be out of recovery mode and back on track from Canada onwards," Renault track boss Remi Taffin said this week.

"In the last four races we've introduced several new upgrades and we will complete the process in Montreal, effectively giving us the first full opportunity to see where we are versus the competition."

Unlike Monaco, where ultimate engine power is not so important, Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is expected to particularly suit the field-leading Mercedes package.

Taffin agrees that Canada is the "toughest challenge of the year so far" in terms of the demands on the engine.

"Realistically we have to be humble," he said, "but it will still be a very good test of how far we've come since the difficult winter testing period and how much work remains to be done."

Witness supports Ecclestone's blackmail defense
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone's claim that he was blackmailed by Gerhard Gribkowsky got a boost in court this week.

Gribkowsky has already been jailed in Germany for accepting the F1 supremo's alleged $44 million bribe, but 83-year-old Ecclestone claims he was being 'shaken down' by the former banker.

Ecclestone, who could also be jailed if found guilty of bribing a public official, got a boost this week when a witness – who like Gribkowsky worked on the F1 account for public bank BayernLB – testified in Munich.

Initially, Briton Ecclestone was seen shaking his head when the witness agreed with suggestions the F1 chief executive wanted to "get rid of" BayernLB as a shareholder of the sport.

"From my point of view, our departure was in his interest," the former bank employee said, according to Austria's Kleine Zeitung newspaper.

"Banks as shareholders were not wanted, in his view," the witness explained. "I'm quite sure he wanted us to sell."

The witness revealed they became less and less involved in the F1 account as Gribkowsky and Ecclestone worked more closely together.

"It (the witness' involvement) became less and less and eventually it stopped altogether," the witness said.

The prosecutors claim that others were excluded from Ecclestone and Gribkowsky's talks due to the negotiations about the controversial $44m payment.

But Ecclestone claims he only paid up after Gribkowsky threatened to divulge false information about his family's tax affairs to the British authorities.

The witness on Tuesday supported Ecclestone's version.

The former BayernLB employee recalled a letter, containing claims that Ecclestone was still in charge of the Bambino family trust, that Gribkowsky once placed on Ecclestone's desk.

The witness said that when Gribkowsky was rebuked for leaving the letter for Ecclestone, "He (Gribkowsky) just laughed".

However, it is reported that the very same witness also testified in Gribkowsky's trial, and the very same judge ultimately issued a guilty verdict.

Kleine Zeitung said three more BayernLB-connected witnesses will testify on Wednesday.

Canada GP future still in doubt
(GMM) As the F1 world gathers in Montreal, the future of the popular Canadian grand prix remains in doubt.

Two months ago, race promoter Francois Dumontier said it was "urgent" that a new deal beyond 2014 be agreed before this year's grand prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

He said negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone for a new ten-year contract are taking place, but there are "still no signatures".

According to the French-language newspaper La Presse, all parties need to agree, including Dumontier, Ecclestone and the various levels of government who help the fund the race.

"Negotiations are going very well," said a spokesperson for Dominique Vien, the new tourism minister of Quebec.

"The change of government has not had a negative impact. We will announce it when everyone is ready."

Denis Coderre, the mayor of Montreal, also commented: "I am keen to resolve the issue for the next ten years. Things are going well.

"In time, we'll make announcements," he said. "But everyone is talking and things are progressing very well. We must let time take its course."

It is reported that F1 chief executive Ecclestone is demanding improvements to the ageing circuit and facilities, and a mandatory 4 per cent annual indexation of the new 10-year race fee.

Promoter Dumontier said on Tuesday: "All parties are continuing the discussions and I would like to think that an announcement will be made soon."

Univa becomes technical partner of Sahara Force India Formula One Team
Sahara Force India is pleased to announce the beginning of a new technical partnership with Univa, a leading provider of automation data management software for large scale computational projects.

Sahara Force India will make use of ‘Univa Grid Engine’, Univa’s core product. Grid Engine is the most widely used resource management platform by industry across the globe. This workload-optimization solution allows organizations to run large quantities of mission-critical, compute-intensive applications faster, more efficiently, and with lower overall costs.

Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer of Sahara Force India: “It’s fantastic to begin a technical partnership with Univa and benefit from their knowledge of data management software. Almost every area of the team relies on simulation tools to help develop the car and it is here that our relationship with Univa will be of great value. We welcome them to the team and look forward to shared success going forward."

Gary Tyreman, President and CEO of Univa Corporation: “Formula One epitomizes leading-edge design and awe-inspiring innovations where mankind leverages high-performance technologies to excel and achieve what was once considered impossible. Sahara Force India uses Grid Engine software to support the tight timelines of their engineering design simulations and continual efforts to improve racing performance. Univa is proud to become an official technical partner and we look forward to celebrating a successful first weekend together at the upcoming Canadian Grand Prix."

Derek Daly Will Serve as FIA Driver Steward at Canada GP
After an incredibly busy month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, former Formula One driver, Derek Daly will head to Montreal to be an FIA Steward for the Canadian Grand Prix to be run this weekend. This will be Daly's second time having worked in the same capacity in Monza, Italy in 2012.

"It is an honor for me to assist in Montreal. I like to stay close to Formula One and I can't think of a better way than being directly plugged into race control,' said Daly.

In 2010, Formula One began recruiting experienced former F1 drivers to assist stewards in decision making relating to race incidents. A permanent panel of three FIA stewards attend every Grand Prix and are joined by an additional local steward at each race. Driver stewards provide a driver's perspective before potential penalties are assessed.

Vettel says critics 'disrespectful'
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel says questioning his credentials as a quadruple world champion is "disrespectful".

After four consecutive titles successes, culminating in the ultra-dominant second half of the 2013 season, the German has struggled even to match Red Bull newcomer Daniel Ricciardo this year with a less competitive and unreliable car.

Monaco, for example, was a particularly fraught weekend for Vettel, who was rarely confident his RB10 would even keep running.

"I have had many problems with the car," he said in an interview published on Wednesday by the German broadcaster RTL.

"So it's hard to get in your rhythm and get the best out of yourself," said Vettel, 26.

He said he is dealing with the "frustration" of 2014 by playing sports between races, taking out one of his road cars or indulging his new passion, motorcycling.

In another interview this week, with the German magazine Sport Bild, he blasted as "bullsh*t" any speculation the frustration might trigger his Red Bull exit.

Also irking him is the suggestion 2014 is showing Vettel's true colors — not as 'great' a driver in anything other than an ultra-dominant car.

"Looking back, I only had one race without problems. That was Malaysia," he told RTL.

"Again, I think it's just important to stay true to yourself — if the car is not working, you can be the best driver in the world, the victories will not come.

"I think if you want to make a comparison," said Vettel, "I remember when Michael (Schumacher) came back with Mercedes and the car was just not on the same level as him, maybe not at the level of his Ferrari.

"But there were many people who said 'Then Michael was just lucky when he won everything with Ferrari'. But as I said, at some point you have already proved enough to yourself and to the others."

Indeed, he hit back at his critics who suggest Vettel is not a worthy quadruple world champion, on the level of some of F1's other multiple-title greats.

"Yes," said the German, "unfortunately in our day and age it is quite normal that you come to such judgments very quickly. I think you have to learn to deal with it.

"It's very easy to say something or write something. Of course it's a pity and it's a bit like kindergarten, but sadly it's like that in formula one. Everyone thinks everyone has something to hide."

Asked if he thinks suggestions he has 'forgotten how to drive' are even disrespectful, Vettel answered: "That's the way the world is now. In a way it is disrespectful, because these people do not know the background.

"Often they don't even want to know the background — they want to know how controversial and not-so-great it is, not how wonderfully everything is going."

Former Formula One doctor fears for Michael Schumacher
A former F1 doctor has warned fans not to expect "any good news" regarding Michael Schumacher's condition.

The Formula One legend has been in a medically-induced coma since he fell on an off-piste section between two slopes while skiing in Meribel, in the French Alps, on December 29 last year.

There has been sparse news in the past two months, prompting speculation about the German's prognosis. Schumacher's manager, Sabine Kehm, last issued a statement on April 4.

On his blog, Gary Hartstein, a former F1 doctor, writes: "I'm quite afraid (and virtually certain) we will never have any good news about Michael. At this point, I rather dread seeing that the family has put out a press release."

"I can conceive of no possible reason that Michael's entourage, understandably extremely protective of his and their privacy, would not tell his fans if significantly good things have happened."

Doctors began reducing Schumacher's sedative intake more than 18 weeks ago in a bid to 'reawaken' the motorsport legend.

Responding to rumors that Schumacher is receiving care at his home, Hartstein stated, "This would be the kind of information I’d assume would be EXTREMELY closely held, for obvious reasons."

"If Michael is still ventilator-dependent, taking Michael home would require a certain amount of equipment and the round-the-clock presence of a significant level of care, but thousands of ventilator-dependent patients are cared for at home."

"If Michael is breathing on his own, home care becomes even more feasible. As you can imagine, patients with prolonged severe disorders of consciousness require a high level of care, but this would be something that Michael’s family could organize with no major problems."

In February, French investigators closed the official inquiry into his accident, ruling out any criminal wrongdoing.

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