Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • An exclusive look at Red Bull designer Adrian Newey – "This was taken when I was on a classic car rally in Sardinia, Italy"

    Red Bull issues 'annoying' but fixable – Marko

  • Raikkonen manager Robertson dies
  • Money-dominated F1 'not fair' – Frijns
  • Wolff tips Red Bull to bounce back
  • F1 'not much quicker' than GP2 in 2014 – Button
  • F1 drivers join forces for a cause
  • Kobayashi: I'm ready to drive Caterham forward
  • Doctors have warned that Michael Schumacher's family face further dark days
  • Todt vows to 'be there' for friend Schumacher New
  • Mercedes surprised at Red Bull woes New

Red Bull issues 'annoying' but fixable – Marko
(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko is sure Red Bull will get its 2014 title-defense back on track.

The reigning world champions endured a disastrous opening test at Jerez as designer Adrian Newey's typically extreme packaging for the new RB10 clashed badly with engine supplier Renault's early V6 'power unit' niggles.

"We need to redesign certain things," Red Bull's Marko told Germany's Auto Bild.

"It's annoying, but I keep remembering that in 2010 we also did not test in the first week."

Red Bull, and the now quadruple-consecutive world champion Sebastian Vettel, ultimately went on to win the 2010 title.

This time, however, the problems appear to be more serious. Auto Bild quoted technical chief Newey as admitting he has "no idea" if he can solve the RB10's problems to his satisfaction.

Marko, though, is confident.

"Adrian's concept is good in principle — I think our car is very elegant, and beautiful cars are usually also fast."

Raikkonen manager Robertson dies
(GMM) One of Kimi Raikkonen's managers, David Robertson, has died.

It emerged late last year that the 70-year-old, who teamed with his son Steve to bring drivers like Finn Raikkonen and Jenson Button into F1, was in hospital in the US with cancer.

"Very sad to hear that David Robertson, who helped me reach my dream of racing in formula one, has passed away," McLaren driver Button, who no longer worked with the Robertson duo, said on Twitter.

The Finnish broadcaster MTV3 reported that Robertson had suffered from cancer of the larynx.

It emerged a week ago that Raikkonen, who switched from Lotus to Ferrari over the winter, was now working with former F1 driver Mark Blundell's management company MB Partners.

"I have known Kimi's management and advisors for a very long time," said Blundell, "and as such, we are working closely together on behalf of Kimi."

In other sad news, it has been confirmed that GP2 boss Igor Mazepa, who headed the 2013 title-winning Russian Time outfit, has died at the age of 40.

According to media reports, it is believed the Ukrainian died after a blood clot.

Money-dominated F1 'not fair' – Frijns
(GMM) Robin Frijns says modern formula one is "not fair".

The 22-year-old Dutchman, arguably the hottest young talent not yet on the F1 grid, has seen his rise thwarted by his lack of personal backing.

Last year, Frijns combined the Sauber reserve role with an on-again, off-again GP2 campaign, but ultimately he lost both seats due to the money issue.

For 2014, he has been signed by Caterham and will appear in the green car at grands prix on some Friday mornings, but he will not combine the seat with GP2 because the grid of the support series is now dominated by 'pay drivers'.

And Frijns said F1 is heading the same way.

Referring to his situation in 2013, he admitted: "I thought it was not fair, as I had worked so hard for years, winning championships, going to the limit in every race — but for what?

"This world is not fair — it's about money. It's like you pay $20 million to the Barcelona (football) team and they put you on the field.

"It's the same here," Frijns told Spain's El Confidencial. "I'm not saying they're bad drivers," he added hastily.

"It has always been about money, but not as much as now. The crisis began four years ago and the teams are really suffering. And with the changes with the V6 this year, it's costing even more."

Explaining how his Sauber adventure ended mid-season, Frijns said: "At the end of the year the car was very good, but in the middle the team had financial problems that everybody knows about.

"Then came the story with Sirotkin … I couldn't be in the car. But I don't regret the experience with Sauber, I know what the circumstances were and I can't blame them for anything," he insisted.

Now, he has started a new adventure with Caterham, and he has already tested the 2014 car at Jerez, albeit amid Renault's technical crisis.

"I changed my manager and I got this opportunity with Caterham," he said.

"I am more involved in the team than I was (at Sauber) last year, I have more time on the track, which is quite rare these days.

"I feel that they believe in me, and that is very important," added Frijns.

Wolff tips Red Bull to bounce back
(GMM) With Mercedes already cast as the early title favorite, boss Toto Wolff is tipping reigning champions Red Bull to bounce back from an early crisis.

Red Bull and engine partner Renault struggled simply to run the title-defending new RB10 at Jerez, causing Bernie Ecclestone to single out Mercedes as the new 2014 favorite.

"Anything can happen under the new regulations," the F1 chief executive told the Indo-Asian News Service this week. "So I would not want to comment much on what could happen this season.

"The way things worked out at Jerez, Mercedes seem best prepared to succeed with (Nico) Rosberg winning the title," Ecclestone added.

Mercedes' commercial chief and co-owner Wolff, however, is not so bold, despite the new silver W05 managing something at Jerez that no other team could — a full race simulation.

"It was more than we expected with the debut of the new power unit," the Austrian told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport. "But we are cautious.

"Our integrated approach brought benefits to the operation of the systems and reliability, and supplying four teams helps us to collect information," he said.

"But only in Melbourne will we evaluate the performance."

It has been said that Mercedes as well as Ferrari – as the only works chassis-engine makers in the pitlane – have a clear advantage in F1's all-new V6-powered era.

"At this stage (yes)," Wolff admitted, "but certainly in the long term I would say no.

"Red Bull and Renault have had a big handicap not to have driven the four days, but it is too early to talk about overturning hierarchies.

"It's not good for F1 that a manufacturer is in trouble, but I am sure they will come back strongly. Hopefully a bit less than before!" he added.

Wolff, referring to Sebastian Vettel, told Germany's Auto Bild: "First, they have an outstanding driver.

"Secondly, they have put together a group of people that works very well. Thirdly, they have the resources from the parent company.

"So there's no reason that Red Bull will not once again be the benchmark."

In the driver department, however, Wolff said Mercedes is lacking nothing — not even compared to Ferrari's 'superteam' of champions Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen.

"Our pair is better!" Wolff proclaimed. "The other two (Alonso-Raikkonen) are strong, but I would not trade Hamilton and Rosberg for anyone in the world."

Finally, Wolff spoke about F1's controversially-milder V6 engine tones for 2014, and the 'ugly' new noses.

"I think the engines sound great on the straights," Wolff told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Mainly because you can even hear the hissing of the turbo.

"I like it, and the critics will get used to it — it's a spectacular, modern sound."

As for the noses, it has been said that Mercedes' solution is arguably among the most attractive of an unseemly bunch.

Wolff said: "Honestly, I don't really like any of them, even if we have more of a classical approach.

"But that doesn't mean that we are not still considering some possible variations in the wind tunnel."

F1 'not much quicker' than GP2 in 2014 – Button
(GMM) Jenson Button thinks GP2, F1's second-tier support series, will run the premier category close for pace in 2014.

As the sport's all-new energy-recovery and V6 turbo-powered era kicked off at Jerez last week, drivers were impressed with the torque but concerned that the big reduction in downforce had slowed the cars too much in the corners.

The initial lap time gap compared to the same Jerez test last winter was a disastrous 10 seconds, but McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen ultimately got the gap down to under 6 seconds.

Nonetheless, GP2 – with unchanged technical specifications – will come close in 2014.

"They will be a lot closer on certain circuits," 2009 world champion Button agreed.

"We'll be quicker, but not that much quicker."

However, the McLaren driver thinks that with F1 set to embark on a steep and speedy development curve with the clean-sheet regulations, the Jerez cars will be substantially faster by the time the season begins in Australia.

"And three races in there will be another chunk in terms of lap time," said Button.

"By the end of the year we might not be that far off (2013 pace), maybe a couple of seconds, which will be pretty good when we get a real handle on where we are."

Some of the extra lap time, Button explained, is due to Pirelli's new, harder and more durable tires.

"We think they are half a second slower," he said.

"The cars are also heavier, about one to 1.2 seconds through weight, so that's 1.6, 1.8 seconds already from those two changes."

ZOOM, a range of photographs taken by F1 drivers and team principals, to be auctioned on Friday for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity. We have obtained an exclusive look at Red Bull designer Adrian Newey's photo, and he told us: "This was taken when I was on a classic car rally in Sardinia." Please feel free to publish the photo, along with how you obtained it and information from the attached press release.

F1 drivers join forces for a cause
Formula 1 will unite in February for the Zoom auction of photographs taken by the sport’s drivers and team principals in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (GOSHCC). Along with the images, the Zoom auction includes cameras provided by leading manufacturer Nikon which have been signed by some of the sport's biggest names.

The drivers and team principals of every F1 team were asked to take a photograph of their chosen subject and those images will be signed and auctioned by Coys ( at a star-studded event on Friday 7th February 2014 at London’s prestigious InterContinental London Park Lane, hosted by the BBC’s F1 presenter Suzi Perry.

All F1’s drivers and team principals have taken part with images ranging from Fernando Alonso’s podium shot of the Monza crowd to Nico Rosberg at the wheel of an historic 1938 W154 Mercedes and the view from the window of Bernie Ecclestone’s house in Switzerland.

Nikon has provided seven COOLPIX S9500 cameras to Zoom which have been signed by some of the sport’s greatest drivers including Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Räikkönen, Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, John Surtees, Alain Prost and Sir Jackie Stewart. It is the first time that cameras signed by F1 world champions have been auctioned and all proceeds will go to GOSHCC.

Further images include those from four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, British superstar Lewis Hamilton, and Mark Webber in his final season of the sport, along with F1 commentator Martin Brundle. F1 legend Michael Schumacher also has an un-signed image taken in 2013 included in the lot.

The photographs will also be collated in a special edition book, published by Vision Sports Publishing, which will go on sale ahead of the 2014 F1 season

The auction follows on from success of the inaugural Zoom event which took place last year. It was the first auction of photographs taken by the stars of any sport. In his foreword to the book of the auction, Bernie Ecclestone commented: “It has been done for a wonderful cause," adding that “the F1 Group has been supporting GOSHCC for many years and we are proud to be able to help with the tremendous work they do."

Christian Sylt, co-founder of Zoom, said: “Thanks to the support of the teams and Bernie Ecclestone, we are able to showcase a varied collection of photographs which encapsulate life inside Formula 1. Every image provides a unique, insider’s view of motor racing and offers a rare opportunity for the public to own a slice of history and help support the incredible work undertaken at Great Ormond Street Hospital."

Olivia Jary from Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity said: “We’re delighted to be working with Zoom again this year on this exciting project, which brings together our supporters in the F1 community. The money raised will make a real difference to patients and families from across the UK.

“We’d like to thank Zoom and the F1 community for their continued support and generosity."

Jeremy Gilbert, group marketing manager at Nikon UK said: “It’s a fantastic project that gives us a glimpse into the lives of F1 drivers from a unique perspective, both on and off the track, whilst helping to support the Great Ormond Street Hospital charity.

He adds: “We hope that the auction of both the images and signed Nikon COOLPIX cameras will help to make a difference and raise funds for this worthy cause."

Kobayashi: I'm ready to drive Caterham forward
Kamui Kobayashi has made a welcome return to the Formula 1 paddock this season, donning Caterham overhauls for his second attempt at the 'big time'. sat down with the 27-year-old Japanese at last week's Jerez test, where the majority of outfits debuted their turbocharged 2014 challengers…

"It's definitely a nice feeling," says Kobayashi, as he enjoys the comfort of his new team's hospitality unit. "This is what I wanted, to be back in F1. There are a lot of rule changes, so every team has a chance to do well now."

He continues: "It's going to be a surprise this year. Just look at how few cars were running on the first test day. Also at Caterham, it wasn't a good situation. Hopefully we can make the car competitive before Melbourne."

Kobayashi's return comes after a one-year hiatus. Having been unable to secure a seat for the 2013 campaign, he made the switch to Ferrari, for whom he raced a Ferrari 458 in the World Endurance Championship. And despite crashing the team's F1 show car during a promotional event in Moscow, he enjoyed the overall journey.

"I had a good time last year," reflects Kobayashi. "Working with Ferrari was a very good experience. But there were less than ten races in GT. In F1 you have 19 or 20 races, which is far more intense. So I had more than enough time to prepare for this F1 comeback.

"I had a lot of time for myself; I am completely relaxed. I'm ready to focus 100 percent on my job at Caterham."

Kobayashi first had contact with Caterham in December, following which negotiations over a potential drive progressed "very quickly". And although he concedes that steps need to be made if the Leafield-based team is to fight with the sport's top outfits in the future, he has been impressed with what he has seen to date.

"My impression of the team is very good," the former Toyota and Sauber driver explains. "They have a lot of work to do if they want to become successful, but I can really feel that this team wants to do a good job.

"This team finished at the bottom [of the Constructors' Championship] last year so there is definitely something to be done, but this team has a lot of potential and I will work hard to help them. I'm ready for that."

Kobayashi will be aided in his mission by rookie team-mate Marcus Ericsson and reserve Robin Frijns. Both are young drivers boasting feeder category success, particularly in Frijns' case, and he is pleased to see opportunities go their way.

"It's good that the team has two young drivers," he says. "I'm very happy to work with them and I am used to that situation, since I worked with [now Force India driver] Sergio Pérez at Sauber. I haven't worked a lot with Marcus and Robin yet, I just met them one week before the test. Let's see if we can develop a strong car together."

It has been so far, so good for Kobayashi, whose podium on home soil in 2012 is the personal best finish he will be hoping to surpass in future seasons. But what one aspect would he like to change ahead of his comeback?

Doctors have warned that Michael Schumacher's family face further dark days
The 45-year-old has been in hospital in Grenoble for over a month after hitting his head in a serious skiing accident just before New Year.

His wife, Corinna, has spent the last five weeks by his bedside, and things appeared to have taken a turn for the better last week as doctors confirmed that they are beginning the process of rousing the seven-time world champion from his artificially-induced coma.

But that process will be stressful for all involved, according to experts.

"Waking from a coma is not like how it is portrayed in the movies," explained Luke Griggs, a spokesman for UK-based brain injury charity Headway.

"It can be a very gradual process that can take several days or weeks."

Griggs, speaking to the BBC, added that the old set of fears will be replaced by new challenges.

"For the family, the initial fear about whether or not the individual will survive is replaced by fear of what the future will hold and what level of recovery their loved one will make.

"Put simply, the effects of brain injury can be devastating and last a lifetime. It can change every aspect of you: walking, talking, thinking and feeling. It can change personalities as well as capabilities."

Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond, who was in a coma in 2006 after a high-speed crash during filming, said how much tougher it will be for Schumacher's wife than for the driver himself.

"It only became relevant to me later when I grasped what had happened," he said last month, speaking to Radio Five Live and also writing in his Daily Mirror column.

"For Michael right now – and he's the one we're all thinking about – the harsh reality is that it makes no difference. At the moment it's his family who will be affected…

"My heart goes out to his family and everyone around him because they can't do anything but hope he gets better.

"Coming out of it, it was a long time before I could accept what had happened. As far as I was concerned I was having a nice lie down in a bed…

"[My wife] Mindy’s face fell when she heard about Michael because it stirs memories for her more than it does for me. She is immediately taken back to what happened to me more than I am because I was in a coma.

"It’s very hard for those around the injured person. My heart goes out to his family and everyone around him because they can’t do anything but hope he gets better."

The BBC also spoke to paramedic Mark Smith, whose son went in to an induced coma last July, and took until Christmas before he was able to speak even a few words.

"Unfortunately the public perception is that people just wake up and start their everyday activities after a couple of days," said Smith.

"That's not the case. It is very slow; there are no finite answers. You just have to stay hopeful that you will get interaction back one day."

Research published in The Lancet shows that just 20 per cent of brain injury victims make a good recovery, and neurosurgeon Peter Kirkpatrick of Cambridge's Addenbrooke's hospital has said that it is "extremely unlikely" that Schumacher will make a full recovery.

Long-term effects could range from disabilities to personality changes. Olympic rower James Cracknell has spoken about his difficulty returning to normal life after his cycling accident in 2010 – and he has written in his autobiography how hard it has been in particular for wife Beverley.

"I worry that Bev will always look at me in a slightly different way. She was summoned to a hospital in America to say goodbye because they didn't think I'd live," he wrote.

"Then she was told I would but that I wouldn't know who she was at first and I wouldn't be the man she married. For her, and for my family, I hope that I'm learning to adapt to the guy who is 'nearly James Cracknell'." Yahoo Eurosport UK

Todt vows to 'be there' for friend Schumacher
(GMM) FIA president Jean Todt remains an almost ever-present figure in Grenoble.

It is there, almost 600 kilometers from Todt's Paris office, that the great Michael Schumacher – one of the former Ferrari boss' closest friends – lies grievously injured after a late December skiing fall.

Ever since Schumacher's coma began just after Christmas, the diminutive 67-year-old Todt has fought through the crowds of reporters in order to be with the German.

He is one of very few Schumacher friends that has been welcomed to Grenoble by the sorrowful family.

Indeed, the mutual admiration is obvious on the wall of Todt's office, where only one photo is present — featuring his wife Michelle Yeoh, his son Nicolas, and seven time world champion Schumacher.

Now more than a week ago, doctors began to try to wake the 45-year-old from his long coma.

"Michael and his family are very close friends of mine," Todt told the German newspaper Die Welt.

"He is an important part of my life. And now he is seriously injured."

Frenchman Todt said he has tried to give the Schumacher family "every conceivable type of assistance" during these most trying of weeks.

"Often that is just to be there for them," he explained.

Regularly, Todt has made the almost 600 kilometer journey to Grenoble, just to be with his unconscious friend and his family.

"I think he would do it for me, if I had an accident like that," he said. "I am sure Michael would be here for me."

Mercedes surprised at Red Bull woes
Mercedes has admitted that it has been surprised by Red Bull's early Formula 1 testing woes.

But the German car manufacturer thinks the reigning champion cannot be written off yet.

Red Bull endured a troubled first pre-season test at Jerez last week, completing just 21 laps over the four days of running.

Its overheating and engine problems have left it needing to undertake some big changes ahead of the second test in Bahrain if it is to avoid a repeat.

Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff told AUTOSPORT that he would never have predicted such woes for Red Bull after its years of dominance.

"Personally I am surprised," he said. "The problems on the first and second day were expected, but finishing the test with almost no mileage is not what I would have expected from Red Bull."

Alarm bells ringing at Red Bull

Despite being taken aback by Red Bull, Wolff has made it clear that he is not expecting the team to be down for long, even though he has no detailed knowledge of what has gone wrong.

"Honestly I don't really know what has happened, I have only read the comments," he said.

"They are a good team with a very determined approach, and they have shown in the past that they were very competitive.

"So I have no doubt that they will eventually solve those problems, whether they are on the engine or on the chassis itself."

Williams chief test and support engineer Rod Nelson reckoned that although Red Bull and Renault's woes appeared serious at Jerez, the complicated nature of F1 machinery meant that a solution could be more straightforward than it appears.

"Renault have got some kind of nightmare going on, but that may be one thing," he explained.

"It could be that the battery might me a bit small or overheating."

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso made it clear his team was not wasting time pondering the Red Bull situation.

"It's not our main focus with what others are doing," he said.

"We have a lot of things going on inside our garage, so we are not looking too much outside.

"They [Red Bull] have done little running so far, but they will put things in place I am sure."

But Felipe Massa reckoned that Red Bull's difficulties could be a boost for its rivals – because it opened up the prospect of different teams winning.

"I think if you don't see the Red Bull winning all the time it can be positive for everybody," he said. Yahoo Eurosport UK

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