Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Rosberg does Hamilton's 'dirty work' – kart boss
  • Promoter admits Russia set for night race
  • People struck when Rosberg 'slammed on brakes'
  • New engine era 'far too expensive' – Head
  • Vettel expects engine penalties later in 2014
  • Mercedes says Honda has 2015 'advantage'
  • Ferrari's F1 past and 'future' meet at MotoGP
  • Ecclestone Says He Doubts Fashion Tycoon Lawrence Stroll Will Buy Into F1

Rosberg does Hamilton's 'dirty work' – kart boss
(GMM) Fourteen years on, little has changed between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, according to their former karting boss.

In 2000, the pair were teammates at, the kart team sponsored by Mercedes-Benz and McLaren.

It was run by Dino Chiesa, who told Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday: "On his fast lap, Lewis was always a little faster than Nico. He knew it well and he knows it today.

"But Rosberg has always worked harder. He (Rosberg) has always done the dirty work — the setup, working with the mechanics and the engineers.

"Lewis has never worked as hard as Nico behind the scenes," said Chiesa, when asked about the past in the context of the pair's massive falling-out as they battle for the world championship in 2014 as Mercedes teammates.

"One of them has the talent, the other is fast but is more of a thinker. And then Lewis cuts a piece of Nico's cake and sells it as his own."

Chiesa said Briton Hamilton and German Rosberg also got up to their 'psychological games' in karts all those years ago.

"Yes, but of course on a different scale," he revealed. "At the time I was the team manager, but I was also like a counselor or a father.

"I remember some angry phone calls from the hotel reception. Sometimes they had destroyed the room. It started with a thrown cushion, then a blanket, then the mattress was out on the street.

"It was all fun except that I always paid the bill at the end," he laughed.

Chiesa said Monaco 2014, however, was slightly different.

"Lewis behaved a bit like a young, angry Italian," he surmised. "Nothing is ever his fault. He always thinks others are out to hurt him.

"But you have to understand this is a German team with a German driver who has been there for three years already. It feels to Lewis as if the team is a bit more friendly to Nico. It's normal."

Chiesa said he still talks regularly to Rosberg, but not to Hamilton.

"It is difficult to get to him," he said. "His management is not very helpful. It may be good for a Hollywood star, but not for a formula one driver. These people give the impression of him being a superstar.

"But a motor sport race is not a show, it's hard work. So I think it's right that Niki Lauda brought him back down to earth," said Chiesa, perhaps referring to Hamilton's smaller entourage and apparently clearer focus in 2014.

Meanwhile, former F1 driver Alex Zanardi has tipped Hamilton to beat Rosberg to the title this year.

"I only want to say one thing about their rivalry," the Italian is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Nico is a very strong driver, but Lewis is a champion."

Promoter admits Russia set for night race
(GMM) Sochi could be the next night race on the F1 calendar.

Despite the unfolding Crimean crisis, tickets for the inaugural Russian grand prix in October have are now on sale.

And for the future, promoter Sergey Vorobyov said the plan is to hold the race under floodlights.

"On the night race, yes," he told Ria Novosti news agency, "(Bernie) Ecclestone was in Sochi to make sure that the night-time is very beautiful.

"The idea is technically difficult for the first year (2014), which will definitely be a day race," said Vorobyov.

"A night race has high costs that must first be calculated. But we like it (the night race concept), and I think that sooner or later it will come," he added.

People struck when Rosberg 'slammed on brakes'
(GMM) An eyewitness has pointed the finger at Nico Rosberg in the wake of an accident last week that caused injuries.

During a promotional event for Germany's world cup football team, Rosberg and DTM driver Pascal Wehrlein were driving road cars in Tyrol, Italy, when two bystanders were struck and injured.

A statement issued by Mercedes said Wehrlein struck "two people whom he unexpectedly encountered walking on the closed course".

But an eyewitness has given a different account of the crash.

"I saw exactly what happened," the eyewitness is quoted by TZ.

"The two cars were about three or four feet apart at about 80kph.

"All of a sudden Nico Rosberg just slammed on the brakes. Pascal Wehrlein was surprised. He (Rosberg) obviously did not know which way the course went.

"Wehrlein swerved to the left off the course and then he hit them."

New engine era 'far too expensive' – Head
(GMM) F1's new turbo era is "far too expensive", according to Williams co-founder and former technical boss Patrick Head.

The 67-year-old Briton told the BBC he thinks the sport has taken a wrong turn in focusing too much on road-relevant hybrid technology.

"I think it should be more about the drivers and more about entertainment on the track," said Head.

"The road car people are doing a perfectly good job on hybrid anyway at the moment," he added.

"I'm not sure that it needs formula one to demonstrate hybrid technology."

And he thinks the main problem is the cost of the engines to the teams.

"You could produce 800 horse power for 2 million euros a team each year. I think the teams are having to pay about ten times that amount," said Head.

"It's a very expensive way of powering formula one cars.

"I think the engines are fascinating pieces of kit, but I think they are far too expensive for what they are supposed to be doing."

With a similar view is former F1 team boss Flavio Briatore, who said F1 began to turn the wrong corner due to the disproportionate influence of engineers.

"Is it realistic to design seventy different wings in one season?" he is quoted by Italy's La Stampa.

"Just so these engineers can come to orgasm?

"Unfortunately," said Briatore, "with the abolition of FOTA, a free hand was given to people with no sense of proportion."

Vettel expects engine penalties later in 2014
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has admitted his 2014 troubles are far from over.

The world champion said that even if his run of poor reliability ends soon, Renault's early-season crisis will come home to roost later in 2014.

That is because of the tighter-than-ever longlife engine rules, where drivers may only use five individual V6 engines, turbos, electric motors, batteries and control units in a single season without penalty.

The German and his Red Bull will begin tumbling down the grid once that allocation is exhausted.

Based on his list of component changes so far, Vettel told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport: "It is easy to calculate that I will not have enough" for the entire 19-race calendar.

Mercedes says Honda has 2015 'advantage'
(GMM) Honda has an advantage in being able to concentrate exclusively on 2015.

That is the claim of Andy Cowell, who is the engine boss for F1's dominant Mercedes team.

This year, the German marque is fighting for title spoils against only Renault and Ferrari, but Japanese carmaker Honda is returning to the fray in 2015 as McLaren's works partner.

"There are pros and cons (for Honda)," said Cowell.

He is referring to the fact that Honda is missing from the grid in 2014, the very first season of the all-new turbo V6 era.

"Ferrari, Renault and Mercedes have the experience of winter testing and the grands prix this year," Cowell told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"We know based on facts what the issues are and how to solve them. Honda can only watch," he said.

"On the other hand, we face a challenge in that we are continuing to develop the current engine in the context of what is allowed, and simultaneously we need to prepare for the 2015 homologation next February," Cowell explained.

"So Honda has the advantage of being able to learn through photos and analyzing the performance of the engines whilst concentrating fully on 2015," he said.

"They are gaining knowledge free of charge, but not in the depth of the three (existing) manufacturers," added Cowell.

Ferrari's F1 past and 'future' meet at MotoGP
(GMM) Stefano Domenicali says his heart will "always be red".

Red, of course, is the color of Ferrari, the fabled Italian marque he represented for more than two decades.

But Domenicali, 49, left the Maranello team earlier this year, with poor results in the all-new turbo V6 era triggering the arrival of Marco Mattiacci.

Domenicali has been laying low since his exit, but he resurfaced at the weekend at Mugello, for the Italian round of MotoGP.

"Ferrari? My heart will always be red," Italian reports quote him as saying.

Also at Mugello on Sunday was Ferrari's lead driver Fernando Alonso.

"It is my first time not just at a MotoGP race, but any motorcycle race," Alonso, who arrived in a red Ferrari F12, told Spain's Marca newspaper.

The Spaniard also spoke about Ferrari's flagging fortunes in 2014.

"We have to improve step by step — we cannot do quantum leaps," Alonso is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"We need to set the objective of creating a solid foundation not only for this year but for the future as well."

Ecclestone Says He Doubts Fashion Tycoon Lawrence Stroll Will Buy Into F1
Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that he doubts fashion industry tycoon Lawrence Stroll will make a $1.5 billion investment in Formula One as has been suggested.

F1 is controlled by the private equity firm CVC Capital which owns 35% of its parent company Delta Topco. The third-biggest shareholder behind CVC and Kansas-based asset management firm Waddell & Reed is the estate of collapsed investment bank Lehman Brothers. It owns 12.3% of Delta Topco and according to a recent report, Mr. Stroll was considering taking over all or part of the stake.

Last year Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported that CVC was targeting a $12 billion valuation for F1 which would put a $1.5 billion price on Lehman’s stake. Mr. Stroll has the resources to take it over as Forbes puts his fortune at $2.4 billion.

Mr. Stroll helped to develop the Tommy Hilfiger clothing brand but much of his wealth comes from the American fashion house Michael Kors which he took public in 2011. He is a motor racing fanatic and his 15 year-old son Lance drives in the junior series Formula 4 as a member of Ferrari’s Driver Academy. Mr. Stroll owns Canada’s Circuit Mont-Tremblant and was spotted at last month’s Monaco Grand Prix. It fuelled further rumors about him investing in F1 but Mr. Ecclestone has put the brakes on them.

“Nobody knows if Lawrence is buying into F1. Everybody talks. A deal has definitely not been done. I doubt that he will buy F1," Mr. Ecclestone told Forbes.

The origins of Lehman’s F1 stake date back to 2001. This is when German media company Kirch borrowed $1.6 billion from three banks to acquire a 75% stake in F1’s former parent company SLEC. State-owned German bank BayernLB loaned $987.5 million with Lehman and JP Morgan each providing $300 million.

The loans were secured on the stake in SLEC and when Kirch went into administration in 2002 the trio of banks enforced their security. It gave Lehman a 14.2% stake in SLEC in line with the amount it loaned. In 2006 the banks sold their stakes to CVC but Lehman and JP Morgan reinvested in Delta Topco.

Two years later Lehman went into Chapter 11 and CVC attempted to seize its F1 stake as Delta Topco’s Articles of Association give it the power to force any shareholder which becomes insolvent to sell to it for a fair price.

Lehman objected to this on the grounds that US bankruptcy law would overrule its obligation to CVC. It added that its stake would be worth more if it was sold as part of a controlling interest in F1. CVC agreed and allowed it to move its shares and right to repayment of the debt from its bankrupt arm, Lehman Commercial Paper, into LBI Group, a newly-formed holding company containing the valuable assets in Lehman’s portfolio.

LBI’s purpose is to generate cash from its assets which is then used to pay Lehman’s creditors. Its F1 stake is no exception and a sale of it may be imminent.

In 2012 The Guardian revealed that according to documents released in the ongoing unwinding of the bank “if, on June 30, 2014, [LBI Group] has not disposed of all of the Formula One assets, then [Lehman Commercial Paper] may, at any time thereafter demand that [LBI Group] pay to [Lehman Commercial Paper] an amount equal to the fair value of the Formula One assets."

In summary, the document states that to ensure the F1 stake raises funds for the bank’s creditors, LBI has committed to paying Lehman Commercial Paper an amount equal to the market value of the shares if it has not sold them by 30 June this year.

However, it is understood that this deadline may be an ‘internal’ date that can be easily extended because it’s between two Lehman entities. There is good reason why Lehman may want to hold on to the shares.

As Forbes has revealed, Lehman has got more than $2 billion of cash out and remaining value from its F1 stake which cost the bank $209.3 million. If all of its investments had been that successful then the bank would most probably still be here today.

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