Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

01/08/14

  • Footage proves Schumacher crash at low speed
  • McLaren reveals 2014 car launch date
  • 2014 a big chance for 'middle' teams – Kvyat
  • Ecclestone may be sued again once bribery case ends
  • Four BAFTA nominations for Rush film New
  • Anslie confirms Newey approach New

Footage proves Schumacher crash at low speed
(GMM) Footage from a camera mounted on Michael Schumacher's helmet proves the seven time world champion was skiing slowly when he fell on rocks recently.

That is the claim of France's RMC radio and also BFMTV television, after authorities reportedly extracted the footage as they investigate the incident at Meribel resort late last month that left Schumacher, 45, in a coma.

The information contradicts reports the former Mercedes and Ferrari driver was at speed in the rock-strewn 'off-piste' section between two slopes.

It could also spell legal trouble for Meribel, a major ski resort in the French alps, with lawyers already circling.

"The (safety) standard has not been met, as the signs and markings were inadequate and non-compliant," lawyer Edouard Bourgin told Le Figaro newspaper.

"It cannot be that a resort collects the skiers' money, but does not ensure their right to safety."

Germany's Welt newspaper reports that Meribel has already retained the services of a top ski industry-specific lawyer.

A top former ski racer and Olympic gold medalist, however, has leapt to Meribel's defense.

Markus Wasmeier said areas such as the one Schumacher fell in "are quite normal".

"The problem is unsolvable, short of lining the entire slope with guardrails," he is quoted by the Sport Bild magazine.

And a witness to the Schumacher rescue scene said the two slopes to either side of the rocky area were clearly marked with signs, according to Brazil's Globo.

"Even a professional can fall on a rock," Wasmeier added.

Meanwhile, Schumacher's wife Corinna on Tuesday pleaded with the ranks of reporters and photographers at the hospital in Grenoble to leave.

"It is important to me that you leave the doctors and the hospital alone so that they can work in peace," she said in a statement.

"Please can you also leave our family in peace."

McLaren reveals 2014 car launch date
(GMM) McLaren will launch its 2014 car on 24 January.

We reported recently that the Woking based team was planning to reveal the MP4-29 on the 25th, a Saturday.

But it is believed Ferrari would prefer the 25th for the Maranello launch of its unnamed new car, as Enzo Ferrari always avoided running cars on Fridays for superstitious reasons.

Indeed, McLaren announced officially on Tuesday that it will launch its new car live on the internet on Friday, January 24.

Long-time title sponsor Vodafone has now departed the British team, which will be powered by works Honda engines from 2015.

It is rumored Sony, the Japanese multinational, could become McLaren's new main backer, possibly complementing a new orange livery as the team prepares to put its Mercedes era in the past.

Official testing kicks off at Jerez a few days after the McLaren launch, and it is there in Spain that several teams, including Mercedes and Red Bull, will roll their 2014 cars onto the tarmac for the world's press.

2014 a big chance for 'middle' teams – Kvyat
(GMM) 2014 could be a big chance for "middle" teams to show up their bigger rivals.

That is the claim of Daniil Kvyat, the confident 19-year-old Russian who has been promoted straight from GP3 to Red Bull's junior team Toro Rosso for 2014.

When asked about his plans for his rookie season, Kvyat told Russian television TV Rain: "I do not like to make such plans.

"I think you should always push to the maximum and see what comes of it.

"But I do believe that we have a good chance to fight for top positions, especially in a year when the regulations are changing so much.

"The middle teams will have the chance to get ahead, and I really hope they do," he added.

Some have linked Kvyat's promotion by Red Bull – over the arguably more experienced Antonio Felix da Costa – as an obvious nod to his Russian nationality, on the eve of the country's inaugural grand prix in 2014.

Kvyat admitted that he would welcome Russian backers to the Faenza-based team.

"It is a long process and not so easy," he explained, "but of course we are always open to negotiations with any sponsors.

"If there are interesting proposals we would consider them, as sponsors from Russia are very welcome."

Ecclestone may be sued again once bribery case ends
Bernie Ecclestone is facing the prospect of another major lawsuit which could threaten his position in Formula One’s driving seat if he loses his current High Court battle, The Independent can disclose. In the final few days of the court hearing last month, it came to light that a
new lawsuit claiming $400m (£244m) from the motor-racing tycoon is due to be filed within weeks.

Mr. Ecclestone told The Independent that he thinks the new claim will get thrown out if he wins the ongoing case. But he vowed to fight the new suit if it goes ahead.

German media rights firm Constantin Medien claimed in court that Mr. Ecclestone and his Bambino family trust paid a $44m bribe to undervalue a 47.2 per cent stake in F1 when it was sold by German bank BayernLB to private equity firm CVC in 2006.

The money was paid to BayernLB banker Gerhard Gribkowsky and Constantin says that in return he steered the sale of F1 to CVC as it had agreed to retain Mr. Ecclestone as the sport’s chief executive.

CVC bought the stake for $814m but Constantin says other buyers would have paid more. It claims it lost out since it had an agreement with BayernLB entitling it to 10 per cent of the proceeds if the stake sold for more than $1.1bn.

Constantin sued Mr. Ecclestone, Mr. Gribkowsky, Bambino and its former legal adviser Stephen Mullens for $140.4m. Judgment in the case is due early this year.

In the last few days of the Constantin case, BayernLB won access to the documents from the trial and a spokesman announced that the bank “expects to file suit against [Mr. Ecclestone] in the High Court in London in January 2014". Like Constantin, it claims that the F1 stake was undervalued and it is understood to want $400m in damages.

When asked whether he expects BayernLB to take legal action if the judge in the Constantin trial rules that the stake was not undervalued, Mr. Ecclestone said: “No. BayernLB are waiting for a settlement." He said he may force the case to be heard even if he wins the ongoing case.

In 2012 a German court sentenced Mr. Gribkowsky to eight-and-a-half years in prison for receiving the alleged bribe. Mr. Ecclestone may yet be put on trial for paying it. Mr. Ecclestone denies paying a bribe and says Mr. Gribkowsky threatened to make false allegations about his tax affairs if the money had not been paid. UK Independent

Four BAFTA nominations for Rush film
Formula 1 film Rush has received a total of four nominations for this year's BAFTA Awards.

The Ron Howard-directed movie, which depicts the fierce battle between James Hunt and Niki Lauda during the 1976 Formula 1 season, will go up against five rivals in the category of Outstanding British Film.

It has also been nominated in the Editing and Sound groups, while Daniel Bruhl, who portrays Niki Lauda, is vying for the title of best Supporting Actor.

The winners will be announced during a ceremony at London's Royal Opera House on February 16.

Anslie confirms Newey approach
Red Bull Formula 1 chief designer Adrian Newey could be involved in the design of a British entrant into the America's Cup, according to four-time Olympic champion Sir Ben Ainslie.

Ainslie met with Newey during last November's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to discuss the possibility, the sailing legend confirmed to the BBC.

"Adrian is a big sailing fan," Briton Ainslie told BBC Radio 5 live.

"There's the potential for him perhaps to get involved, cast his eye over our design team and what we're looking at doing."

"We had a great catch-up but Adrian is committed to F1 for the foreseeable future."

Newey has made no secret about his desire to be involved with the Americas Cup at some point in his career, although he is contracted to reigning Constructors' Champions Red Bull until 2017.

Ainsley led American outfit Oracle to victory in the Americas Cup last year and is currently in search of funds to put a British team together.

Americas Cup rules dictate that the winner chooses the next venue, type of boats to be used and date, as long as it is within three to five years of the last race.

"To have the advice of Adrian or many of the very smart people involved with Formula 1 industry in the UK would be a great boost for us as a team," Ainslie added.

"Newey is clearly a genius, in anything to do with competitive design and he's got a great profile, but I would hate for anyone to think we were trying to pry him away from Red Bull Racing."

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