Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • GP2 champ Fabio Leimer latest open-wheel talent to be stuck by the cancer killing the sport

    Marussia, Lotus hit back at 2014 doubts

  • Disappointed Leimer struck by 'open-wheel cancer'
  • Schumacher's condition unchanged – report
  • McLaren's 2013 flaws not fully understood – Paffett
  • Rush misses out at Golden Globes
  • Video: Chris Hemsworth and Niki Lauda – Golden Globes 2014

Marussia, Lotus hit back at 2014 doubts
(GMM) Marussia has hit back at suggestions it might be in dire health.

The backmarker team's place on the newly-released official 2014 entry list was marked with a conditional asterisk.

But in the following hours, Marussia issued a press statement announcing that the well-backed Briton Max Chilton is staying put for a second season.

"Continuity is important for the team but also for me as a driver," he was quoted as saying.

And reports the Marussia 'asterisk' was a sign of uncertainty were also denied by team president Graeme Lowdon at the Autosport show in Birmingham.

He also said the intention is for the team's 2014 car to make its test debut at Jerez late this month.

"With our race driver lineup complete we can now focus all of our attention on our 2014 car and moving Marussia to the next level," said team boss John Booth.

At the same time, the signals from Lotus – similarly conditional on the FIA entry list – are not quite as bright.

But Italy's Omnicorse speculates that the problem may simply be the fact that the legality of the Enstone team's nose solution for its 2014 car may have been rejected by the FIA.

And the Finnish broadcaster MTV3 suggests that the missing link could be the dotted line on a new Renault engine deal for the black and gold team.

At any rate, Lotus continues to work hard on its 2014 car, with the team's official Twitter revealing a teaser preview of the E22.

"Seeing is believing," the Twitter message read last week. "Hello E22, and oh how you're growing."

Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper, however, said its investigation found that Lotus will probably be the only team missing in action at the Jerez test.

"Only Marussia's plans are not certain," said correspondent Heikki Kulta.

Lotus team boss Eric Boullier insists there is no cause for concern.

"Everything is fine here," he told the BBC. "Lotus will be on the grid this year and for a long time."

Disappointed Leimer struck by 'open-wheel cancer'
(GMM) The new reigning champion of the F1 support series GP2 will not move up to the pinnacle of motor sport in 2014 because of the cancer that is spreading rapidly through the world of open wheel racing that will ultimately result in its death.

Since the series' inception in 2005, every single champion became – or, in the case of Giorgio Pantano, had already been – a formula one driver.

But that run stopped with the 2012 champion, when Davide Valsecchi carried the GP2 crown to a mere test role with Lotus. The Italian now looks set to bow out of formula one altogether.

Now, the 2013 champion, Swiss Fabio Leimer, is also missing out on F1.

The Swiss newspaper Blick speculates that his financial backing, formerly bolstered by Rainer Gantenbein, has now run dry.

Leimer, 24, admits to being disappointed.

"From a sporting point of view I deserve it," he said.

Veteran Blick correspondent Roger Benoit said Leimer is currently looking into potential moves to the German touring car series DTM, or the world sports car series.

Schumacher's condition unchanged – report
(GMM) Michael Schumacher's condition remains unchanged, the German newspaper Bild reports.

Almost a week ago, the seven time world champion's wife Corinna urged the media to go easy on the struggling family, as Schumacher – whose coma has now entered a third week – lies in a critical condition after a skiing fall late last year.

Since Corinna's plea, neither the 45-year-old former F1 driver's management, nor the Grenoble hospital, have issued any official updates about his condition.

But Bild cited hospital sources as it reported that the great German remains in a stable yet critical condition, with his health having "not changed since the last statement of the doctors".

The widely-circulated newspaper said Schumacher is, however, undergoing new brain scans, as the risk of renewed bleeding and infections remains high.

"The doctors want to see which areas of the brain are damaged and which are functional," Bild explained.

"It is not clear when new official information about his health is expected, but it could take weeks, or even months," correspondents Nicola Pohl and Thomas Sulzer added.

Meanwhile, Jean Alesi criticized another former F1 driver, Philippe Streiff, for divulging information about Schumacher's condition to the media recently.

Streiff visited the hospital in Grenoble and controversially revealed afterwards that Schumacher's "life is not in danger any more".

"I was very disappointed and upset to see the French driver who did a press conference talking about Michael Schumacher," fellow Frenchman Alesi told RMC Sport.

"We must respect his family and leave them alone, and especially the doctors (should be left) to do their work," he added.

McLaren's 2013 flaws not fully understood – Paffett
(GMM) McLaren ended last season without fully understanding where it went so wrong with the 2013 car.

That is the claim of the Woking based team's main test driver Gary Paffett, as he reveals that he has been testing the all-new 2014-specification MP4-29 in the simulator.

"We certainly feel it is a bit of a fresh start for everybody and we are pushing very hard to make sure we get on top of it from the start," he told the British broadcaster Sky.

Uncharacteristically for the great British team, McLaren finished last season a distant fifth in the constructors' world championship, having dramatically erred with the design of the MP4-28.

But with the rules changing so radically for 2014, the team decided to design its next car with a clean slate, rather than try to rectify every problem with the 2013 car, Paffett explained.

He admitted that McLaren engineers do not even know why the MP4-28 was so bad.

"I think if we had fully identified it (the problem) we would have been a lot more competitive at the end of the year," he said.

"I think the problem was some of the areas were too big to fix during the season."

With Lotus having pulled out of the forthcoming first winter test at Jerez, the media's attention has now turned to whether other high-profile teams will also be missing in action as the crucial 2014 pre-season begins.

But Paffett said McLaren is right on track.

"Yes, I've seen the car in the workshop, they are working hard and the car will be in Jerez," he said.

"It is going to plan but I think just understanding the (V6) powertrain and how it all works is going to be the first target which isn't going to be too easy I don't think."

Rush misses out at Golden Globes
Rush was overlooked at this year's Golden Globe Awards, which took place in Beverley Hills on Sunday.

The Ron Howard-directed film, depicting the intense battle between McLaren's James Hunt and Ferrari rival Niki Lauda throughout the 1976 Formula 1 season, had been nominated for two accolades.

Under the heading of 'Best Drama', Rush was ultimately beaten to the post by 12 Years A Slave, while Daniel Bruhl, who played Lauda, lost out to Jared Leto in the 'Best Supporting Actor' category.

Video: Chris Hemsworth and Niki Lauda – Golden Globes 2014
Chris and Niki introduce "Rush" at the Golden Globes – January 12, 2014

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