Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Bernie Ecclestone laughing all the way to the bank as his wealth rises

    Lotus rivals want to sign Grosjean – Lopez

  • Ferrari in deep 'crisis' – Jordan
  • No deal as McLaren title sponsor talks end – report
  • Zetsche says Alonso 'best driver' in F1
  • Red Bull told to redesign 'loophole' nose – report
  • Mercedes expects rivals to be close in Monaco
  • F1 drivers 'miss' Schumacher at football game
  • Force India drivers get dressed up for Monaco
  • Allianz joins Lewis Hamilton in supporting MSA/FIA
  • Hamilton named most marketable athlete
  • Ecclestone's wealth rises amid fierce scrutiny
  • Formula One 'undersold by $736 million' claim Bernie Ecclestone's prosecutors

Lotus rivals want to sign Grosjean – Lopez
(GMM) Rival teams are interested in signing Romain Grosjean, Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez claims.

The Luxembourger revealed the news while responding to criticism of the Enstone team's other driver, Pastor Maldonado, who is enduring an horror 2014 season.

Having switched his lucrative PDVSA backing from Williams to Lotus, Venezuelan Maldonado initially found an unreliable and uncompetitive E22 car, but he has also struggled to keep up with Grosjean while being involved in multiple on-track incidents.

But Lopez backed Maldonado to eventually get it right.

"We've lived the same thing with Romain, and people wrote him off, but now we've got people knocking on our door to see if he can be in their team," said Lopez.

He is referring to Frenchman Grosjean's struggles in 2012, when he was written off as a "nutcase" by Mark Webber and even banned for a race by the FIA.

But Lopez says Grosjean, 28, is now a sought-after driver in the F1 paddock.

"His drives last year meant there were a couple of teams knocking on the door to find out what he was doing, and now we've the same this year," he said.

Lopez admitted Lotus, who lost Kimi Raikkonen to Ferrari over the winter, might similarly struggle to hang onto the on-form Grosjean.

"We don't have the budget of some of the other teams, so there is a point up until which we will fight," he said.

"But Romain is really happy here, he is part of the family, and I don't think he is planning on going anywhere."

Ferrari in deep 'crisis' – Jordan
(GMM) Ferrari has rarely been in a deeper 'crisis' than today.

That is the claim of outspoken former F1 team owner and boss Eddie Jordan, who is now an expert pundit for British television.

Ferrari has not won a drivers' title since 2007 with Kimi Raikkonen, and the fabled team brought the Finn back to Maranello this year to pair with Fernando Alonso, arguably the very best driver in F1.

"Ferrari has top drivers," Jordan told Germany's Auto Bild, "but again it has been unable to provide them with a car that can win the world championship."

Ferrari's latest travails triggered the departure of team boss Stefano Domenicali, and it is rumored Spaniard Alonso may now finally be losing patience, five consecutive seasons into his career in red.

"I think this is one of the greatest crises in the history of Ferrari," said Jordan.

No deal as McLaren title sponsor talks end – report
(GMM) McLaren is likely to contest the rest of the 2014 season without a title sponsor, according to Italy's blogf1.it.

Last month, in the wake of former main backer Vodafone's departure, rumors emerged that the Woking team was in talks with a Japanese giant called Rakuten, the Tokyo based owner of buy.com and play.com.

It was said the deal could be worth $60 million per year to McLaren, a grandee British team that has struggled for competitiveness in 2013 and so far in 2014.

However, blogf1.com claims the talks to bring Ratuken to McLaren in 2014 have not resulted in a deal, adding that it is possible Lotus could now secure an agreement instead.

Zetsche says Alonso 'best driver' in F1
(GMM) Fernando Alonso is "perhaps the best driver" in formula one.

That is the claim this week not of an F1 fan or an insider, but of Dieter Zetsche.

Zetsche is the chairman of Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes, whose Brackley based F1 team is utterly dominating in 2014.

It has been rumored recently that Mercedes could be interested in reviving McLaren's fiery 2007 duo, by ousting Nico Rosberg and pairing current championship leader Lewis Hamilton with Spaniard Alonso next year.

Alonso is reportedly frustrated with Ferrari's continuing lack of championship-winning potential, and eyeing a 2015 move to Mercedes or perhaps McLaren.

Mercedes figures including Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff have denied the speculation.

But Zetsche said on Tuesday: "Alonso is perhaps the best driver on the grid, demonstrating it even in a slightly less competitive car."

And he is quoted by Spain's EFE news agency as saying driver skill is more important than ever, after the move to the new breed of turbo-powered cars.

"Drivers with the new hybrid power must be very good," said Zetsche, "because the cars are no longer the 'trams' that we have seen before.

"Today's cars are exciting; it doesn't bore me that the same team has won every race so far," he smiled.

"It is the job of the other teams to equal the performance of Mercedes, even if we also have a lot that we can improve."

Red Bull told to redesign 'loophole' nose – report
(GMM) Red Bull must redesign the nose of its car, after Adrian Newey exploited a loophole in the 2014 rules.

Keen-eyed observers noticed throughout the winter and again when the race season began that the RB10 did not have the mandatory camera mountings installed as per normal.

A closer look at the nose revealed that a tiny hole for the television camera lens had been cut between the 'Casio' and 'Pirelli' logos in the nose.

The rules say the mountings must not be located inside the carbon structure itself, but Newey's loophole is that the camera was in fact inside the non-structural 'vanity panel' introduced last year to hide the unseemly nose steps.

But while it satisfied the actual wording of the rules, commercial rights holder Formula One Management was less happy with the Red Bull trick.

It meant FOM could no longer use the Red Bull nose camera for a rearward-facing view.

And Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that the Bernie Ecclestone-led company was also unhappy with the front view, moving Red Bull to improve the 'hole in the nose' ahead of the recent Spanish grand prix.

But Ecclestone reportedly remained unhappy even with the Barcelona solution.

So from Monaco this weekend, the RB10 will be fitted with the standard FIA mountings on the outside of the nose structure, as per the other teams in 2014 like Ferrari and Mercedes.

Mercedes expects rivals to be close in Monaco
(GMM) The big question ahead of this weekend's Monaco grand prix is whether Red Bull can finally challenge the so far unbeaten Mercedes to a 2014 win.

After Barcelona, McLaren's Jenson Button admitted he would be "amazed" if Mercedes can be beaten throughout the entire 19-race season.

"Maybe Red Bull might (win) in Monaco," he said, "because that circuit is not about power."

Lewis Hamilton, however, who has won the last four grands prix on the trot, warned that the W05 will once again be difficult to beat even on the tight, twisty streets, where even the main 'straight' is not straight.

"Things should close up as there are not really many straights, so hopefully we'll see a much closer race," he said.

"Red Bull have a very good downforce package and McLaren should be good there as well," added Hamilton, "but we're still going to be quick there."

Teammate Nico Rosberg agrees: "Red Bull keeps raising the bar and even Ferrari is not far away. They are trying as hard as they can to close the gap," he told DPA news agency.

"But I am optimistic that we can stay ahead."

It is therefore likely that, once again, the main spotlight of interest will fall on the battle between Hamilton and Rosberg, who is desperate to fight back after four consecutive defeats.

"I just need that extra little bit, then I'll be back at the front," the German driver said.

"I'm convinced that it's my turn now," Rosberg smiled.

Mika Hakkinen, the 1998 and 1999 world champion, also said it is too early to write Rosberg off.

"Actually Nico doesn't need to do much differently," the Finn told Hermes.

"He just needs to continue to build on his strengths and eliminate the weaknesses, and it could be different already in Monaco.

"Nico is always very good on street circuits," Hakkinen added.

F1 drivers 'miss' Schumacher at football game
(GMM) Formula one drivers have paid tribute to their stricken former rival Michael Schumacher.

For years ahead of the Monaco grand prix, seven time world champion Schumacher captained the F1 drivers' football team as they annually took on Prince Albert's all-stars at the Stade Louis.

But in 2014, the F1 legend was missing on Tuesday, as he continues to fight in France amid a long coma in the wake of his late December skiing fall.

According to the major German daily Bild, the F1 drivers' team – now captained by Fernando Alonso – made clear they missed Schumacher as they went against all-stars like top tennis player Novak Djokovic on Tuesday night.

On the electronic advertising hoardings circling the ground, a message repeatedly read: "Michael, we miss you!

"We can't wait to see you back on this grass next year."

Among those on the grass on Tuesday was Schumacher's former teammate Felipe Massa, Sergio Perez and impressive Russian teen rookie Daniil Kvyat, who scored a goal.

Force India drivers get dressed up for Monaco
Sahara Force India Formula One Team drivers, Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez, will arrive in Monaco with new-look Alpinestars race suits as the team extends its long-standing partnership with the Italian clothing supplier.

Sporting the team's new black identity, the suits are made from advanced, ultra-lightweight fabrics and represent the perfect union of technology and performance. These hi-tech products guarantee both the highest safety standards and crucially, breathability and comfort for the drivers; a key performance factor in the high stress environment of Formula 1™.

The new suits also reinforce the mutual commitment to performance between Sahara Force India and Alpinestars, a partnership that has seen the Italian clothing company supply the team with all of its technical race apparel and footwear, including suits, boots, gloves and under layers, since 2008.

Allianz joins Lewis Hamilton in supporting MSA/FIA
Allianz, as a global leader in insurance and investment is a partner in a new road safety initiative established by the Motor Sports Association (MSA), with the top prize now including a trip to the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in September. The campaign is also backed by Lewis Hamilton, the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team driver who currently leads the 2014 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

The governing body of UK motor sport recently launched a film competition for young people using the motor sport theme to highlight key road safety messages. The initiative has received grant funding from motor sport’s world governing body, the FIA, and supports the FIA Action for Road Safety project.

Working with Allianz as a partner has allowed the MSA to extend the entry deadline from 31 May to 18 July and the winners will now be crowned at the Italian Grand Prix on 6-7 September instead of July’s British Grand Prix.

As one of the largest car insurers in the world, with more than 50 million cars covered, and as official Road Safety Partner of Formula 1, Allianz is committed to making roads safer, reducing road traffic accidents and minimizing fatalities and injuries.
Statistics confirm that road accidents are still the biggest killer among 16- to-24-year-olds in the UK. Working with the FIA, the MSA has devised a special competition for young people in two age categories, 14 to 18 and 19 to 24, to create a short film bringing to life one of the FIA’s 10 Golden Rules:
• Buckle up
• Respect the Highway Code
• Obey the speed limit
• Check tire pressures
• Drive sober
• Protect children
• Pay attention
• Stop when tired
• Wear a helmet (on two wheels)
• Be courteous
The films will then be judged by a panel of experts including Lewis Hamilton, Allianz, Sky Sports F1 and the MSA.

The two winning teams will travel to Monza, where they will join Hamilton to receive a £2,000 prize for their educational establishment’s film or media studies unit. They will also win a driving experience day at Silverstone and their winning films will be broadcast during Sky Sports F1’s programming. Four runners-up (two per age category) will each receive a cash prize for their school/college/university and will be invited to attend a British motor sport event of their choice.

Ben Taylor, MSA Director of Development and Communications, said: “We are delighted to welcome Allianz as a partner in this competition. It provides an exciting opportunity to engage with young people in a very practical way and creates a fun but educational approach to the road safety message through the medium of motor sport. Due to the very nature of our sport, safety is absolutely paramount and developments in vehicle and venue design as well as driver safety equipment, largely through the great work of the FIA Institute, have become very significant. All motor sport competitors recognize that there is a time and a place for driving at speed or in competition and that is in a regulated and controlled environment at a track or similar motor sport venue. As a sport, we must encourage people to take responsibility for their own safety and that of other road users."

Hamilton named most marketable athlete
World championship leader Lewis Hamilton has been named as the world's most marketable athlete.

Already cited as Britain's wealthiest athlete in the latest edition of the Sunday Times Rich List, the Mercedes driver is named as the world's most marketable athlete by SportsPromagazine.

Using a system called the Davie-Brown Index (DBI), which measures consumer perception of athletes, the fifth edition of SportsPro's rankings sees Hamilton beat off cricketer Virat Kohli (us neither), American footballer Robert Griffin III (again), Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and tennis star Grigor Dimitrov.

Rather than focusing on how successfully athletes are marketed, SportsPro focuses on how they might succeed over the next three years, which possibly explains why rookie Daniil Kvyat makes it to 40th on the list and Fernando Alonso doesn't get a mention.
To further add to the skepticism, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, currently third in the world championship, is twenty-seventh in the rankings whilst Sauber's affiliate driver Simona de Silvestro is 50th, though this is explained away by looking at the Swiss youngster’s marketing potential should she get a full-time F1 drive.

Concluding that Hamilton is on his way to his second title, SportsPro says: "It seems remarkable that the Englishman, at 29, has waited this long to realize that ambition but it is in Formula One’s interests that he does. There is no more exhilarating sight in the sport than Hamilton in a fast car.

"For sponsors, the package is already in place – the maturing star, the celebrity girlfriend, the seven-figure social media following and the expert management of XIX Entertainment. After a decade endorsing brands this resurgent champion is worth another look. He might just be the best bet in all of sport."

Ecclestone's wealth rises amid fierce scrutiny
The £26m bribe Bernie Ecclestone is alleged to have paid Gerhard Gribkowsky amounts to a small fraction of his available funds, according to the latest valuation of his total worth.

The Sunday Times Rich List 2014 ranks Ecclestone in joint 29th place among the richest Britons. His estimated wealth of £3bn has increased by £500m compared to last year, and leaves him by far the richest person who made their money in motor racing.

But Ecclestone’s earnings have never been under greater scrutiny – and not just in a courtroom in Munich. Last month he was reported to have paid as little as £10m in tax on profits of £1.2bn.

Ecclestone also contributed, indirectly or otherwise, to the fortunes of the next two richest motor racing figures on the list: his ex-wife Slavica, whose £740m wealth was largely gained from their divorce, and Paddy McNally, who ran the Allsport business including the lucrative Paddock Club and who is now valued at £510m.

Ron Dennis has moved up the list, his total estimated worth almost doubled to £260m on account of his plans to spend £250m to increase his stake in McLaren from 25% to 50%.

The wealthiest active driver to feature in the annual report is Lewis Hamilton, whose income from his Mercedes contract has increased his total wealth to £68m.

Meanwhile Grahame Chilton, father of Marussia driver Max Chilton, is assessed to have a total wealth approximate to that of eighties F1 driver Johnny Dumfries, who is also the Marquess of Bute.

Motor racing figures on The Sunday Times Rich List 2014

Name Wealth Notes
Bernie Ecclestone £3000m Joint 29th overall
Slavica Ecclestone £740m Former wife of Bernie Ecclestone
Paddy McNally £510m Ran Allsport, which operates The Paddock Club, until 2011
Tony Fernandes £392m Owner of Caterham F1 team
Ron Dennis £250m Chief executive of McLaren
Kevin Wheatcroft £120m Runs Donington Park
Johnny Dumfries £110m The Marquess of Bute
Grahame Chilton £110m Max Chilton’s father, who made his money in insurance
Frank Williams £106m Team Owner
Ross Brawn £100m Largely earned from sale of Brawn GP to Mercedes
Eddie Irvine £83m Invested F1 earnings in property. Not in top 1,000 (listed in Irish top 250)
Eddie Jordan £80m Not in top 1,000 (listed in Irish top 250)
Lewis Hamilton £68m Not in top 1,000 (eighth in youngest under 30)
Jenson Button £63m Not in top 1,000
Martin Birrane £60m Not in top 1,000 (listed in Irish top 250)

Bernie Ecclestone leads criticism of expensive turbo engines as small teams push for cost cuts
Formula One’s ground-breaking engines have become the subject of yet more controversy, after the sport’s smaller teams made the expensive new power units the central plank of “final straw" proposals to cut costs.

Since plans for a budget cap were abandoned last month, four of F1’s smallest teams have become increasingly rebellious, even raising the prospect of a European Union investigation into revenue distribution and the power structures which govern the sport.
At a meeting of all teams at Heathrow last Wednesday, it is understood that Caterham, Force India, Marussia and Sauber elaborated on plans to save $30-40 million (£18-24 million), with the main focus of their anger directed at the costly turbo engines.
Last season a V8 engine cost around £7 million. In 2014 the V6 power units are thought to cost more than double that amount, at £15 million to £18 million a year.

Williams and Lotus were given the chance to add their signatures to the proposals, but declined.

Bernie Ecclestone, the sport’s ringmaster, also appeared to suggest last week that the cost of the engines — of which he has been a vocal critic — needs to fall.

“Tell me, what was the idea of the cap? To keep costs down," Ecclestone said. “So we put this engine in and it costs four times more than the other one, and costs the manufacturers a hell of a lot of money."

The four teams also put forward means to cap F1’s frenetic development in the middle of the season, by limiting the number of upgrades to four a year or by establishing a cut-off point after which no new parts could be brought to races. It is highly unlikely the larger teams would accept such an idea, given how crucial developing the car is to the ebb and flow of any F1 season.
It has been left in the hands of the FIA, motorsport’s governing body, and F1’s Strategy Group, made up of the biggest teams, to determine which proposals are adopted.

“This is the last roll of the dice," a source told The Daily Telegraph on Sunday. “It is the final straw."

The frustrated four are also confused as to the stance of Jean Todt, the FIA president, who has been a vocal supporter of cost caps but gave in to opposition from Red Bull and Ferrari, among others.

Any EU investigation would depend on whether a team made a “complaint" to the European Commission, which is currently in a state of limbo with elections ahead. However, there is a feeling that if the latest round of cost-cutting proposals are rejected, one of the smaller teams has increasingly little to lose by knocking on the EU’s door. Telegraph

Formula One 'undersold by $736 million' claim Bernie Ecclestone's prosecutors
F1 was sold for $736 million less than it was worth after its chief executive bribed the banker running the sale, prosecutors claim.

Bernie Ecclestone is on trial for allegedly giving a bung to Gerhard Gribkowsky, former chief risk officer of German bank BayernLB, to steer the sale to private equity firm CVC for $2 billion in 2006.

The firm agreed to keep him on as head of F1.

John Gregg, the former chief financial officer of telecoms firm NTL, also made a bid for the sport and valued it at up to $3.5 billion.

Ecclestone and his family trust are accused of bribing Gribkowsky with $44 million.

He denies this and says that Gribkowsky threatened to make false allegations if he didn’t pay.

Ecclestone faces a 10-year jail term if he is found guilty.

The trial continues.

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