Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • The ugly Caterham is once again a backmarker in F1

    Lotus 'faster than Williams and McLaren' – Permane

  • Caterham not just after 'quick money' – Frijns
  • Ecclestone says Haas set for F1 in 2015
  • Raikkonen yearns for 'more exciting' F1
  • Next revolution afoot as Montezemolo meets Ecclestone
  • Smedley joins Williams team in Bahrain
  • F1 must wait to bid for Long Beach race

Lotus 'faster than Williams and McLaren' – Permane
(GMM) Lotus claims its troubled 2014 car is often better than a Williams or a McLaren.

Actually, the Enstone based team is badly suffering with its E22, plagued with issues related to the problematic Renault 'power unit'.

"We are still in the learning process," chief engineer Alan Permane told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"I suppose we need to make exactly the step that Red Bull made between the Bahrain test and Melbourne."

There was, however, a glimmer of hope for crisis-struck Lotus in Malaysia, when Romain Grosjean at least managed to finish the race, albeit outside the points.

"For us it's a big step," Permane insisted, "even though we're not usually happy with eleventh.

"But the times in the second sector showed that our car is fast in the corners. Faster than a Williams or McLaren," he claims.

"In the other two sectors we are behind, especially in braking," Permane admitted.

"We have a decent car, but we're lagging behind with the power unit, even compared with other Renault teams. But that's our fault," he said.

Permane admitted that skipping the first official test at Jerez has had consequences.

"We are just behind in time," he explained. "We missed the opportunity to recognize the problems early on and sort them out.

"We will make a development step with the drivetrain in Bahrain, a major one in China and then another one in Spain," Permane revealed.

Caterham not just after 'quick money' – Frijns
(GMM) Robin Frijns claims it is rare to find a middle-ranked team that wants to take on a third driver who doesn't substantially 'pay'.

The Dutchman, recognized as one of the most talented drivers on the F1 fringes, has struggled to find his place in the paddock.

Last year, he bobbed around in GP2 and as a Sauber test driver but ultimately fell by the wayside for financial reasons.

But the 22-year-old is back in 2014, and he will make his 'Friday practice' debut with Caterham this week in Bahrain.

Frijns was asked how much he had to pay for the role.

"I can't say anything," he told Germany's Suddeutsche Zeitung.

"But I was lucky to find a team that is not just interested in quick money but wants to develop me as a driver," Frijns added.

He suggested that some drivers – perhaps like Marussia's Max Chilton – were simply born luckier.

"Many drivers come from wealthy families, where the father is a CEO in a big company.

"My case is much more difficult, when you have to put together the money mostly on your own."

Other 'third' drivers practicing alongside Frijns for the first time this week in Bahrain will be Sauber's Giedo van der Garde and Williams' Felipe Nasr.

"That 90 minutes is very important for anyone who is on the bench and wants to show what he can do," Brazilian Nasr is quoted by Brazil's Globo.

Ecclestone says Haas set for F1 in 2015
(GMM) Gene Haas looks set to take his place on the pitwall as F1's newest team owner in 2015.

Having earlier played down the Nascar team co-owner's chances of securing the twelfth team entry, Bernie Ecclestone said this week: "I think Haas will be accepted.

"They have got the money but it's a question of whether they are going to spend it," the Independent newspaper quotes him as having told F1 business journalist Christian Sylt.

It is believed the FIA recently delayed a decision over Haas' 2015 application pending F1s chief executive Ecclestone's 'ok'.

Money seems to have been the 83-year-old Briton's main concern.

"A billion would last a new team owner four years," Ecclestone said. "I've spoken to Haas but I don't know what they are going to do. It's America, so I don't know."

He also didn't rule out the possibility more teams could soon be following Haas into F1.

"Every year we or the FIA have approaches from new teams," he said.

Raikkonen yearns for 'more exciting' F1
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen has been quoted as lamenting the end of F1's more exciting days.

The Finn went into the 2014 season playing down the likely impact of the sweeping 2014 rules, featuring limited fuel and quieter, energy recovery-dominated turbo V6 engines.

Raikkonen has however struggled for form since returning to Ferrari to race the Italian marque's 2014 car, and he is quoted by Austria's Laola1 as yearning for a bigger thrill.

"The racing itself should be more exciting again," Raikkonen, who at 34 is F1's oldest active driver, said.

"I want more fights, rear wheel-to-wheel battles, but that's not so easy when at the same time you want to bring in sophisticated cars."

As for his personal struggle with the new F14-T car, Raikkonen added: "It doesn't fit my style yet but that's not a disaster, at least I can still collect points."

Raikkonen's struggle and his aversion to the 'new' F1 could ramp up rumors he might not stay around on the grid much beyond 2014.

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali was photographed meeting in the paddock with Red Bull's reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel not once but twice last weekend in Malaysia.

Domenicali played down the rumors.

"We as Ferrari are very pleased with what we have, and I am sure that Sebastian is also pleased with his situation because it looks as if he can fight again," he told F1's official website.

Unlike Raikkonen, apparently much happier in 2014 is F1's other 34-year-old, Jenson Button, who is set to mark his 250th grand prix this weekend in Bahrain.

"The positives of a guy my age outweigh the negatives," he was quoted on Wednesday by British newspapers. "So maybe the best years are to come."

Next revolution afoot as Montezemolo meets Ecclestone
(GMM) Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo flew from Maranello to London this week to meet with F1's chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.

The Italian press, including the authoritative daily La Gazzetta dello Sport, say the headline of the meeting was the future, after both F1 powerbrokers admitted they are no fans of the 'new' face of the sport.

More inclusive meetings are now scheduled for the Bahrain grand prix weekend, to also be attended by FIA president Jean Todt, and on the agenda could be proposals to rev up the quieter and arguably less exciting 2014 spectacle.

On the table will be discussions about the controversial fuel flow meter and whether to abolish it, and how shortening the grand prix distances could spice up the show and also the volume, allowing the engines to rev closer to the 15,000rpm limit.

Dominant Mercedes, and its competitive customers including McLaren and Williams, are likely to oppose any rule change proposals.

But Renault, who with Red Bull are struggling with the FIA-homologated fuel flow sensor, may argue that one solution to the sound problem would be to ease the consumption limits.

"The rules set a maximum of 15,000rpm," Remi Taffin is quoted by Italy's Tuttosport, "but with restrictions on the consumption of fuel it goes down to 12,000rpm and at the end of the straights it can be 10-11,000.

"This makes a big difference," he insisted. "If you want a different sound, you would have to increase the rpm, but it doesn't make sense if the limits on the consumption of fuel stays the same."

It also emerges that Ecclestone, who met with CVC bigwig Donald Mackenzie in Malaysia last week, could be looking to revamp the shareholding structure of F1 by inviting top teams like Ferrari and Red Bull to buy into the sport.

Smedley joins Williams team in Bahrain
(GMM) Rob Smedley is finally starting work at Williams.

More than a month ago, the British team confirmed long speculation the 40-year-old Briton, famous for his close relationship with Felipe Massa at Ferrari, will soon become 'head of vehicle performance' at Grove.

Brazil's Globo said Smedley has now served his mandatory gardening leave and will be on the pitwall in Bahrain.

"Rob will be at the track and I will work in the factory and at the tests throughout the season," Williams' chief engineer Rod Nelson is quoted as saying.

"He will bring a lot of experience and a lot of good ideas," Nelson added.

F1 must wait to bid for Long Beach race
(GMM) F1 will have to wait for its return to iconic Long Beach.

It emerged recently that formula one was interested in racing on the Californian streets, if the city opened up the bidding process at the end of IndyCar's current 2015 contract.

But the Long Beach Press-Telegraph now reports that IndyCar’s contract will be extended through 2018, with confirmation due within weeks.

However, it also emerges that the bidding process will be opened up to include the possibility of a F1 race in the future.

"This is precisely what we wanted," IndyCar’s Long Beach race chief Jim Michaelian said.

"They (the city) have every right to explore other options, but by the same token we have the certainty of conducting the event through 2018. That's important because we have lots of sponsorship agreements," he added.

Chris Pook, F1's Long Beach founder, welcomed the news.

"I'm not knocking the IndyCar race," he said, "but formula one will bring the economic value the city enjoys".

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