Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Whiting will stop race if all cars fall out

    McLaren's Melbourne livery a one-off

  • Mobil 1 and McLaren Celebrate 20-Year Partnership in Formula 1
  • FIA still supports embattled Ecclestone – Todt
  • F1 stares into the unknown for 2014 revolution
  • Heidfeld not happy F1 keeps putting on weight
  • 107 per cent rule no hurdle in Melbourne – Whiting
  • Armin Strom renews its long-term partnership with the Marussia F1 Team
  • McGregor Premium Partner of the Sauber F1 Team
  • Whiting says FIA will stop the race if all cars retire
  • Williams race team manager leaves role
  • Raikkonen: Tires still have biggest impact on driving style
  • Truphone Extends Partnership with Caterham F1 Team

McLaren's Melbourne livery a one-off
(GMM) McLaren will run prominent 'Mobil' branding on its 2014 car in a one-off livery this weekend in Australia.

Earlier, we reported that after the MP4-29 was tested in all silver throughout the winter, new bodywork with the addition of the color black was spotted in the Melbourne pitlane.

The British team has now confirmed that the Melbourne livery is a one-off to mark the 20-year-old partnership with oil sponsor Mobil.

The situation follows the departure of title sponsor Vodafone, and returning chief executive Ron Dennis' refusal to accept the offers of potential replacements who expected a lower price due to McLaren's poor 2013.

"Our cars will not feature a title sponsor at the first event," Dennis said last week, "but it will definitely feature a title sponsor in the next few events."

Commenting on Dennis' return to F1, former arch enemy and now FIA president Jean Todt said: "He was strong opposition to us (Ferrari) and we were strong opposition to him.

"I like his sense of detail and his approach to perfection," Todt told the Daily Mail. "Sometimes he is a bit arrogant. We all have our own style but I respect his achievements."

Mobil 1 and McLaren Celebrate 20-Year Partnership in Formula 1
As the 2014 Formula 1 season kicks off this weekend at the Australian Grand Prix, ExxonMobil and McLaren will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of their technical and commercial relationship. In honor of the major milestone, the McLaren Formula 1 cars will feature a special livery in Australia that will include both Mobil 1 and Mobil brands.

"We are proud to celebrate our relationship with McLaren this weekend and we are looking forward to an exciting season"
"To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Mobil 1’s relationship with McLaren, we are looking forward to showcasing a special branding scheme during the first race of the 2014 season," said Artis Brown, global motorsports manager, Mobil 1. "There is a lot of energy entering this race. Not only are we celebrating our 20th anniversary with McLaren, but we will be welcoming Kevin Magnussen to the team. When you combine these elements with the introduction of the new V-6 engine, this should be a very exciting weekend."

Jonathan Neale, Chief Operating Officer and Acting CEO of McLaren Mercedes said, "We are privileged to have worked closely with ExxonMobil over a very successful 20 years and counting. During 332 races together we have achieved four world championships, 78 wins, 229 podium finishes and 76 pole positions, which is testament to our powerful technology partnership. Seeing the Mobil fuels branding alongside Mobil 1 on the MP-4 29 is a great recognition of the relationship’s contribution to performance over our two decades together."

In addition to commemorating this 20-year relationship, ExxonMobil is also celebrating the return of the Mobil fuels brand at 7-Eleven Australia’s convenience stores on the Australian east coast metropolitan markets for the first time since the sale of ExxonMobil’s retail assets in 2010. Earlier this year, Mobil Oil Australia Pty Ltd (Mobil), a subsidiary of ExxonMobil Australia Pty Ltd (ExxonMobil Australia), announced a long-term agreement for the sale of Mobil-branded fuels at 7-Eleven Australia’s convenience stores on Australia’s east coast. The new relationship provides a platform for future growth building on the company’s more than 120-year history in Australia.

Mobil 1 and Mobil branded lubricants are available through ExxonMobil’s network of six authorized Mobil lubricants distributors in Australia and New Zealand. ExxonMobil Australia is Australia’s oldest petroleum company, operating since 1895.

ExxonMobil began its relationship with McLaren in 1995, with its Mobil 1 synthetic lubricant brand, developing new lubricants and fuels designed to help improve the race team's performance, efficiency and reliability.

McLaren has a strong record in Melbourne, with six of the team’s 11 Australian Grand Prix wins coming at this Albert Park track. Jenson Button has won the race three times, and twice with McLaren Mercedes.

"We are proud to celebrate our relationship with McLaren this weekend and we are looking forward to an exciting season," said Brown.

FIA still supports embattled Ecclestone – Todt
(GMM) Even amid the corruption scandal, FIA president Jean Todt continues to support embattled F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.

Earlier, a co-owner of the sport, the Norwegian central bank Norges' Yngve Slyngstad called on the 83-year-old Briton to be "suspended" while he faces criminal charges in Germany.

But Todt told the Telegraph: "At the moment, he (Ecclestone) is not guilty.

"Has he done a good job? He has done an outstanding job. That's the only thing I concentrate on," the Frenchman added.

Todt also told Germany's Welt newspaper this week: "Without him, formula one would not have become the global business that it is today.

"Some day in the future formula one will have to do without him, but that's the case for all of us.

"Currently, the relationship between the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone is not affected," he insisted.

And Todt said there is currently no sign that F1's owners, CVC, have a different view.

"When CVC … want to move him on, they will let me know as president of the FIA," he told the Daily Mail. "There has been no talk of that with them."

Where Todt and Ecclestone do differ is on the sport's all-new and revolutionary look for 2014, with the Briton recently slamming the "farce" of unreliable cars and disliking the milder V6 engine tones.

Todt, however, is unapologetic.

"If we had not gone this way," he told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, "some manufacturers might have gone away.

"I'm not sure if Mercedes would have stayed or whether Honda would have come back," added Todt.

Meanwhile, as one of the injured Michael Schumacher's closest friends who visits the great German in hospital almost daily, Todt insisted he still has high hopes of a recovery.

"I can tell you that we still have big hopes for Michael," he said.

F1 stares into the unknown for 2014 revolution
(GMM) Formula one is staring into the unknown as the sport's revolutionary new era begins in earnest this weekend in Melbourne.

"We can be neither too pessimistic nor too optimistic," said Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, "because it is likely that Australia will be a race in the dark for everyone in terms of performance."

The Spaniard was quoted by Italy's La Repubblica as saying "good points and even the podium" are realistic possibilities for Ferrari at Albert Park, but he is not sure even the apparent dominance of Mercedes can be trusted.

"Mercedes looks strong," he conceded, "but it was only testing. Now we will see the reality.

"It is the same for Red Bull. Many people talk about their problems, but maybe we will get to the first race and find them in front. Everything is yet to be discovered," added Alonso.

F1's all-new look has divided opinions.

Former driver Patrick Tambay told France's RMC that he thinks 2014 could be a "world championship for engines, a world championship for engineers, with the drivers in the background".

But the taciturn Kimi Raikkonen insisted: "In the end, I think the races will be quite similar to before.

"Over the years, from time to time we've always had to be saving something rather than just driving flat out from start to finish," he told Finland's Turun Sanomat.

"So it's nothing new really," he added, referring to the new fuel restrictions.

"I don't care to guess where we are or what will happen," added Raikkonen. "Let's see what happens on Friday and go from there."

Expecting more drama than that, however, is the veteran British commentator Martin Brundle, who thinks 2014 could be "the wildest season I have ever seen".

"Some teams look like they will struggle to get their car to the start of the race, let alone the finish," he told the Daily Mail.

Indeed, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport has even been moved to ask FIA race director Charlie Whiting what will happen if not a single car reaches the checkered flag on Sunday.

"The winner will be the driver who failed last," the Briton explained, adding that a two-lap count-back may then apply.

"So it could be that the winner is actually not the last survivor," said Whiting.

The bizarre situation of a feasibly zero per cent reliability rate could make it wise for teams to repair technical failures and put their cars back into the race, several laps down.

"It might be worth changing an electronic box or a rear wing," confirmed Sauber team manager Beat Zehnder.

Heidfeld not happy F1 keeps putting on weight
(GMM) Nick Heidfeld thinks formula one should go on a diet.

Actually, it is the drivers who have been skipping dessert throughout the winter period, as the much heavier turbo V6 and energy recovery systems debut.

Germany's Bild newspaper said the already-slight Nico Rosberg dropped 3 kilograms since the last race of 2013.

His Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, who had a visibly muscular upper body in the last couple of seasons, has lost even more.

"Unfortunately," said the Briton who has lost 4 kilos, "getting rid of muscle is harder than getting it. It was the hardest winter of my life."

Daniel Ricciardo has also lost 4kg, with Red Bull team boss Christian Horner joking: "If it was up to Adrian Newey, our drivers would have lost about 15kg each!"

It is believed most cars are now close to if not slightly over the mandatory minimum car-plus-driver weight of 691kg.

Perhaps the lightest driver in the field is Felipe Massa, who tips the scales at just 58kg.

"I've never been as happy as I am now to be small," the little Brazilian grinned, with Bild reporting that the competitive Williams is below the 691kg limit, crucially allowing engineers to place ballast in the ideal places.

According to former F1 driver Heidfeld, however, even the lightest cars in 2014 are now way too heavy, but the weight limit is being further increased for 2015, to 701kg.

"I don't like how the cars keep getting heavier," German Heidfeld, now a Le Mans driver who last raced in F1 in 2011, told T-Online.

"In my day we were at 600kg, soon it will be 700.

"The higher weight means the cars get slower and slower — 100kg is something like three to four seconds per lap.

"It is also against the spirit of the times, as the trend is exactly the opposite in street cars," Heidfeld added.

As for the likely pecking order in Melbourne this weekend, 36-year-old Heidfeld agrees that Mercedes looks better prepared than its rivals for 2014.

"How Ferrari will go is very speculative," he said, "but I want to emphasize that the track in Melbourne is not a good gauge anyway.

"I think we will only see a trend after the first three or four races," he added.

107 per cent rule no hurdle in Melbourne – Whiting
(GMM) When asked how many cars he thinks will finish Sunday's 2014 season opener, Daniel Ricciardo grinned his usual grin and answered: "No one.

"We're all going to be running across the line!"

The Australian was only half-joking.

Indeed, after the calamitous testing rounds at Jerez and in Bahrain, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport has already asked FIA race director Charlie Whiting what will happen if not a single car reaches the checkered flag in Melbourne.

"The winner will be the driver who failed last," the Briton explained, adding that a two-lap count-back may then apply.

"So it could be that the winner is actually not the last survivor," said Whiting.

Another bizarre possibility recently mused is that F1 might struggle even to get half a grid together at Albert Park for the race.

If the 107 per cent rule had applied at the last test in Bahrain, many cars – notably Red Bull's world champion Sebastian Vettel – would not have qualified for the race.

But the Associated Press on Thursday pointed out that stewards are able to overlook that rule in some cases, and Whiting confirmed that cases this weekend in particular are likely to be looked at "very sympathetically".

What is clear is that Vettel is set to struggle at Albert Park, even though boxes upon boxes of new parts for the RB10 have been shipped from Milton Keynes and will be fitted ahead of practice on Friday.

"We are not in the best position for this race," the quadruple world champion told reporters on Thursday, "but it's a different story when you talk about the championship."

Even the overwhelming favorite, Mercedes, is expecting the unexpected.

"All the media are talking us up. Favorite driver, favorite team," said Lewis Hamilton. "I just don't know what's going to happen this weekend."

Armin Strom renews its long-term partnership with the Marussia F1 Team
The Marussia F1 Team is pleased to announce that it has agreed an extension of its relationship with Armin Strom, which will see the Swiss watch manufacturer continue as the Team’s Official Timing Partner for a fourth consecutive season.

The now familiar Armin Strom logo will have a continued presence on the MR03 race car, the Team’s trackside environment and on the racesuit of Max Chilton, a friend and ambassador of the brand. To underline the extent to which Formula 1 continues to form a strong part of the overall company strategy, Armin Strom has created a range of watches for international watch fair Baselworld 2014 that incorporate the same precision and composite materials used to create the Marussia F1 Team MR03 race car.

Andy Webb, CEO, Marussia F1 Team
"We are delighted to maintain our strong relationship with Armin Strom, which has been an Official Partner since the Team’s inception. Over the past three years we have worked together on some very interesting concepts for leveraging the relationship and the latest range of timepieces featuring elements incorporated into the MR03 is one such example of that. We look forward to sharing what promises to be an interesting season for the Team with our Official Timing Partner."

Serge Michel, CEO, Armin Strom
"Armin Strom is thrilled to continue its partnership with the Marussia F1 Team for a fourth consecutive season. Armin Strom has always supported the efforts of this young and ambitious team, and with 2014 set to provide some unpredictable racing, we are hoping to experience some unforgettable moments this season. Armin Strom is also looking forward to developing a number of new timepieces that will incorporate the precision and component parts seen in the MR03. All of us here at Armin Strom wish the team the best of luck in the upcoming season."

McGregor Premium Partner of the Sauber F1 Team
The Sauber F1 Team is delighted to announce McGregor as its Premium Partner. McGregor is one of the most successful fashion houses in the upper market segment.

McGregor has supported Giedo van der Garde as a long-standing partner in the early stages of his career. In addition to this personal relationship, McGregor is now also extending its involvement to the team.

The McGregor logos will be placed on top of the headrest from the 2014 Australian Grand Prix onwards. From the Malaysian Grand Prix onwards, they will also be present on the overalls and the helmets of the drivers.

McGregor Fashion Group BV, founded in 1993, is one of the most successful fashion houses in the upper market segment. Every day about 1,200 staff around Europe continue to build on the success of the brands; McGregor and Gaastra. The brands are available in 3,000 multi-brand stores, 265 shop-in-shops and more than 120 stores within the formula McGregor, Gaastra and ADAM Menswear.

Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal:
"We are delighted about our partnership with McGregor. The brand has been supporting Giedo for a long time, and this is how we noticed it in the past. From the first time we got together it was clear that both companies make a perfect fit, therefore, negotiations were short, and we immediately had a good mutual understanding of the partnership."

Jan-Paul ten Hoopen, Managing Director McGregor:
"McGregor is delighted to be Premium Partner of one of the most outstanding teams in Formula One. The Sauber F1 Team is a dedicated team with impressive skills, dedication and focus. It has a great history and a bright future, something which we share. For McGregor the relationship with Sauber is another proud step in a successful tradition of F1 partnerships. With Sauber we share the passion for craftsmanship, independence and pure performance. This partnership will give an additional boost to the strong international development of McGregor."

Whiting says FIA will stop the race if all cars retire
Given the poor reliability suffered by teams in testing there has been a lot of speculation about how many cars might finish in Australia this weekend, with incidents potentially adding to the attrition rate.

When asked today FIA race director Charlie Whiting said that he will stop the race if there are no cars running.

"First of all I’d like to say that I think a lot of these Doomsday scenarios are quite unlikely, knowing F1 teams and how efficient they actually are," he said. "But if it came to the situation where no cars were running we’d just simply stop the race, because there wouldn’t be much of one, would there? But being serious I think that would be the only option. If the race couldn’t be restarted, as the rules say, then the results would be declared at the lap prior to the one during which the race was stopped, and whoever was running at that time would be the winner."

In theory races can last until the two-hour mark, but Whiting said the clock would not be allowed to run down until the flag was thrown on the off chance that someone might fix their car and re-emerge.

"I don’t think we would [wait]. If it became clear that there wasn’t a race any more, because there were no cars on the track, I think we would stop the race, because there wouldn’t be much else to do, really. It’s not something that’s foreseen by the rules, and obviously it’s something that we hope doesn’t happen."

Whiting agreed that if attrition is high cars that might normally have retired could re-appear after repairs.

"I’m not sure we should really be talking about this, I stress I think it’s highly unlikely, knowing the professionalism of the teams! But once they started dropping like flies I think the ones that thought they’d stopped – because they don’t have to officially retire of course, they can come back out again – they might think hang on minute, I might get something here, let’s get this old girl going again and get back out there…"

They would of course have to complete 90% of the winner’s distance in order to be classified and score points.

Williams race team manager leaves role
Williams race team manager Dickie Stanford has left his role ahead of the 2014 Formula 1 season.

Stanford, who joined the outfit as a race engineer back in 1985, first took on the team manager role in 1995, a position he would hold until the 2005 season before reducing his involvement with a factory-based position.

Stanford began a second stint as race team manager in 2010, but after another four campaigns, has decided to step back once more. He is currently in discussions with Williams team chiefs over a potential new role.

Ex-McLaren technical coordinator Peter Vale has taken on the position vacated by Stanford.

Raikkonen: Tires still have biggest impact on driving style
Kimi Raikkonen believes tires will have a bigger impact on driving styles this year than the regulation changes surrounding engines and fuel limits.

"Certainly tires make a big difference between the drivers and one tire might suit a driver better than the others, but there's not really going to be a big difference with the rules and how it is between the top drivers," he said. "I don't think it's going to be an awful lot different for any of us.

"The different tires will change the driving style much more than the rules that have changed. Obviously there is more torque in the engines and you have to be a bit more careful in some areas because there is a bit less grip than last year, but it will vary from race to race. Once we improve the settings it will get easier to control things, but I think we've done a pretty good job with all the details."

"Driving over one lap it's not an awful lot different, but maybe over the race it will be a slightly different story than previous years. Obviously we haven't done any racing yet so it's a bit difficult to say how it will be and if the racing is exciting or not. Let's wait and see what will happen."

Truphone Extends Partnership with Caterham F1 Team
Caterham F1 Team has confirmed that Truphone, the pioneering international mobile operator without country borders, has extended its support for the team for 2014 and beyond with the new title of Official Mobile Telecommunications Partner.

Truphone first started working with Caterham F1 Team in 2013 as provider of all the team’s mobile telecommunications requirements through a range of services and handsets with multiple numbers on one SIM, giving the team a competitive advantage with patented technology that reduces the complexity of communicating internationally. With the expansion of the partnership, Truphone will continue to provide all of Caterham F1 Team’s mobile telecommunication needs, and the Truphone logo will now be seen on the team’s 2014 CT05 racecars at a number of races throughout the 2014 season.

With Caterham F1 Team regularly preparing and travelling around the globe to races, Truphone seamlessly connects the whole team to its HQ at the Leafield Technical Centre in Oxfordshire, allowing the team to use mobile communications pre- and post-race anywhere in the world. Sharing Caterham F1 Team’s passion and focus on innovation, Truphone also works closely with the team’s IT staff to develop new mobile telecommunication solutions that support Caterham F1 Team’s focus on high performance and gaining a competitive edge.

Rob Jones, Truphone’s European Managing Director, said: "We are delighted to further extend our partnership with Caterham F1 Team in 2014. As a business, Formula 1 epitomizes what a modern international business is faced with; working in a highly competitive environment with rapidly changing technology and managing a highly mobile workforce. Outages aren’t an option for Caterham F1 Team, so our unique systems tools monitor network performance to identify and address issues in real-time, while our Business Help Team is available 24/7 to offer extra peace of mind. When we started working with Caterham F1 last year, we aspired to be an official brand sponsor within three years and we have achieved this in just a year which demonstrates the rapid acceleration of Truphone's growth globally".

Bill Peters, Caterham Group Head of IT: "Since Truphone joined us last year we have seen our call charges drop and the efficiency of our mobile communications improve significantly. I could not give a better testament to the value of our partnership with Truphone than that, so renewing and extending our partnership for 2014 and beyond is very good news and I look forward to working even more closely with Truphone’s dedicated support team to add yet more innovation and efficiency to a service that is already world class."

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