Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Eddie 'The Mouth' Irvine (L) when his Ferrari teammate Schumacher (R) destroyed him

    Double points rule 'ridiculous' – Irvine

  • Career could have ended in mid 2013 – Grosjean
  • Ferrari most reliable car in 2013 – report
  • Loser Mercedes resorts to poaching two engineers from Red Bull
  • Boullier angry at timing of quit rumors
  • Barcelona Circuit President Says F1, MotoGP Remain Lucrative Despite Recession In Spain
  • Newey warns F1 risks stagnation
  • Paul and Louis di Resta ‘fixated’ by chance to make millions
  • Allison: Everything in place for new Ferrari era
  • Rosberg has blowout

Double points rule 'ridiculous' – Irvine
(GMM) Former F1 driver Eddie 'The Mouth' Irvine has issued a stinging assessment of F1's controversial new 'double points' rule for the 2014 finale.

Regularly critical of the sport's adoption of gimmicky innovations, such as the overtaking aid DRS, former Ferrari and Jaguar driver Irvine said the rule makers have gone a step too far with the decision to keep the championship alive by offering double points at the last race of next season in Abu Dhabi.

"That actually made me realize I am not going to watch another race until that rule gets kicked out," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"That is just embarrassing. It really is. They should be ashamed of themselves.

"It's ridiculous, I've never heard such a joke in all my life. Talk about tinsel town bullsh*t," Irvine added.

48-year-old Irvine, who last raced in F1 in 2002 and now makes his money on the Miami property market, also said he thinks Sebastian Vettel's four consecutive world championships do not quite stack up against his former Ferrari teammate Michael Schumacher's achievements.

"Vettel's record is amazing," he said, "though he has kept the best car pretty much every year which Michael didn't have.

"He (Schumacher) struggled (at Ferrari) for four years before he won another championship. Vettel just staying at Red Bull winning trophies is boring," added Irvine. "I don't see what he's trying to prove.

"Okay, he's going to collect a lot of championships, but you know what, who cares?"

Irvine is also critical of Lewis Hamilton, accusing him of trading performance for his desire to "be a movie star or a rapper or something".

He said he does not keep in touch with any of today's F1 figures, but sometimes hears from Kimi Raikkonen.

"Kimi Raikkonen rings me the odd time when he's drunk!" Irvine laughed.

Career could have ended in mid 2013 – Grosjean
(GMM) Even with a 2013 contract in his pocket, Romain Grosjean has admitted he remained perilously close to seeing his now flourishing F1 career end.

Banned for a race in 2012 and written off as the 'first lap nutcase' by Mark Webber, the Frenchman entered the winter period uncertain if he would be returning in 2013.

Ultimately, having developed a close working relationship with a psychologist and no longer running into regular trouble in wheel-to-wheel combat, Grosjean ended the recently-concluded season as a standout of 2013.

In Kimi Raikkonen's absence, he will lead the Lotus team in 2014, alongside new teammate Pastor Maldonado.

But early in 2013, Grosjean was not so sure about his future.

"I remember calling (team owner) Gerard (Lopez) and saying that the contract is signed.

"But he said that if in the first four races I had four accidents on the first laps, then it's all over. I replied that I thought that was normal.

"I think that in this case, I would not have come to the fifth race," Grosjean said in an interview with the French magazine Auto Hebdo.

He now has his personal problems under control, is happily married and a new father, but Lotus – although competitive – ended the season in disarray.

Amid rumors the Quantum deal is collapsing and that employees and suppliers are going unpaid, Grosjean admits it was a difficult period.

"Actually," he explained, "for the drivers, the engineers and the mechanics, those are external problems," he said.

"The season did end in difficult conditions," admitted Grosjean. "It was a particularly hard time for Eric Boullier. But it's in those moments that you see the strength of the team."

In the end, with the Quantum money so delayed, Boullier had no choice but to turn down Nico Hulkenberg and sign the heavily-sponsored Maldonado to be Grosjean's 2014 teammate.

Grosjean admits Hulkenberg would have been a "great" teammate, but he also thinks he can work well with the Venezuelan.

"We crossed a couple of times in GP2," he said, "but I think he is very fast on one lap.

"When everything is in order around him and with the car, and he is on top of the situation, he can be very fast, and we saw that in last year's Spanish grand prix," he said.

As for the departing Raikkonen, Grosjean said he had no relationship with the Finn at all. Indeed, some believe it was Raikkonen's superiority that exacerbated Grosjean's problems last year.

"Kimi did his job superbly after coming back into formula one," Grosjean insisted.

"He became the leader of the team, even if Lotus has no division of 'driver 1' and 'driver 2'. Kimi of course is a special person, but we had no relationship.

"I was even surprised when he got to Spa and he said to me 'Congratulations on the birth of your child'. It was the only thing he said to me in two years."

Ferrari most reliable car in 2013 – report
(GMM) Ferrari had the most reliable car on the 2013 grid, with Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa not retiring from a single grand prix because of a technical failure.

That is the finding of Germany's Auto Motor und Sport magazine, although it said the Maranello based team did not do the most laps in 2013, due to three in-race incidents.

Actually, Ferrari was the team with only the fifth-best mileage record of 2013, coming in behind McLaren, Red Bull, Mercedes and even Williams. Those teams, however, all had multiple technical retirements, as opposed to the faultless Ferrari.

Among the least reliable teams on the grid was the otherwise competitive Lotus, with 7 incident-related retirements and 5 technical failures, and ahead only of Caterham and Force India.

Loser Mercedes resorts to poaching two engineers from Red Bull
Mercedes has poached two important engineers from F1's dominant world championship team Red Bull, according to the German newspaper Bild.

The report said vehicle dynamics chief Mark Ellis, and simulation boss Giles Wood, have both been poached by Mercedes.

"Not a nice Christmas surprise for Sebastian Vettel!" Bild correspondent Nicola Pohl surmised.

She said both engineers are due to start work at Brackley in June next year.

Boullier angry at timing of quit rumors
(GMM) After having to deny rumors he is jumping ship to Force India, Lotus team boss Eric Boullier admits the episode has left him annoyed.

As rumors the Frenchman is fleeing the financially troubled Enstone based team flourished on the internet, Boullier took to his personal Twitter account to issue a short denial.

"I have never received any (other) offers and I have not resigned," he said on Monday.

Now, according to Speed Week, Boullier has revealed how the rumors caught him by surprise.

"On the ground, everything was going quite normally," he is quoted by the correspondent Agnes Carlier.

"We were preparing for the 2014 season, I was rushing from one meeting to the next, with the days beginning early and finishing late. Every day at full throttle. And then came this story.

"It's not just that I had to defend myself to the outside, I had to get together my people in the factory and tell them that there's nothing to it. Rumors spread quickly in a racing car factory.

"But they should know that I'm still here and I'm not going anywhere," Boullier insisted.

He said that with the regulations changing so radically ahead of the 2014 season, and with a late January deadline for official testing looming large, the timing of the rumor could not have been worse.

"This is a phase in which every minute counts, as we get the car ready for the first winter test at Jerez in late January," said Boullier.

"So this was an immense waste of time and energy," he lamented.

Barcelona Circuit President Says F1, MotoGP Remain Lucrative Despite Recession In Spain
Barcelona Circuit President Vicente Aguilera "shared figures regarding the impact that F1 and MotoGP have had on Spain in recent years," according to Manuel Franco of AS.

Aguilera: "During these difficult economic times, during the worst crisis that there has been in Spain in the last 40 years, we have been able to reverse the situation and finish with positive numbers."

Aguilera said that F1 attendance in '11 was 64,000, with that number increasing to 81,000 in '12 and 94,000 this year. This "included an increase in spectators from outside Spain, as the percentage of foreign fans has increased from 30% in '11 to 60% this year."

This "has led to a bigger financial impact regionally and nationally — from €160M in '12 to €192M ($264M) this year — with €138M ($190M) coming during the Spanish Grand Prix."

Aguilera said in terms of MotoGP, "We have also passed from 80,000 spectators last year to 92,000 this year." This included a total economic impact of €43M ($59.2M) AS

Newey warns F1 risks stagnation
Red Bull technical chief Adrian Newey says Formula 1 is at risk of stagnating if it continues to tighten its regulations.

It has become commonplace for technical innovations in F1 to be outlawed on cost grounds or because they exploit grey areas in the rules, with the double diffuser, f-duct and exhaust blown diffusers among the developments affected in recent years.

Newey accepted that some breakthroughs being stopped by rule changes was inevitable.

"I think it's part of the game and I don't mind investing and being knocked back," he said. "We were all of the view the f-duct was probably going to get banned at the end of the season and it seemed likely the double diffuser was going to get banned at the end of the subsequent season as well.

"You make a decision as to whether you want to invest heavily in pursuing that technology knowing it could be banned fairly quickly or whether you concentrate on other areas that will last longer."

Nevertheless, he feels frustrated that rule changes continue to limit designers' freedom.

"I think what's more of a shame is that most of these things when they're banned – the exhaust being a very good example – it's actually just further restrictions," Newey said. "That's a shame and a danger that if the regulations continue to become ever more restrictive, we'll eventually get the point where the car's more or less designed by the rulebook. You'll then have, effectively, 'GP1' cars where the differentiators are the engine and the driver. For me, it's not Formula 1."

Newey believes the ability to gain a technical edge is part of F1's core appeal.

"One of the big things that differentiates Formula 1 from almost all other sports, with perhaps the exception of the America's Cup, is that combination of man and machine," he argued. "You can have a great car with an average driver and you won't win; a great driver with an average car, you won't win. It's about both.

"I think the public appreciates that and you'd have to say, at the moment, if you judge this season and indeed last season, the blend seems to be about right."

Paul and Louis di Resta ‘fixated’ by chance to make millions
Paul di Resta and his father Louis were accused of being “totally unreliable witnesses" who became “fixated" by the prospect of a multimillion-pound sponsorship windfall, as the damages lawsuit brought by the Scottish driver’s former manager Anthony Hamilton continued in the High Court on Tuesday.

However, Hamilton was said to have played the pair for “fools" in an attempt to “get away with pocketing about three million" and had given evidence that was described as “bonkers".

Hamilton is suing Di Resta for breach of contract and loss of earnings after being sacked by the Scot in 2012. In his defense Di Resta alleges that he was deceived by Hamilton, who intended to use a British Virgin Islands company, Belir Associates, in order to make a €1 million (£845,000) profit on a sponsorship deal with energy drinks company Go Fast.

The trial was meant to conclude on Tuesday after a little over two weeks but the judge, Mrs. Justice Asplin, will have to sit again on Wednesday after closing speeches from the two legal counsels overran.

Charles Hollander QC, representing Hamilton, was first to go on Tuesday and he painted a picture of a father-son combination “fixated" by the prospect of a financial windfall. Hollander said that the Di Restas knew far more than they let on regarding Hamilton’s involvement with Belir, adding that they were “totally unreliable and not to be believed".

Hollander also took issue with his client’s cross-examination at the hands of Paul Downes QC, representing Di Resta, effectively accusing him of grandstanding. “Hamilton was cross-examined for three full days," Hollander said. “And it was nothing if not hostile.

"The questioning was incredibly intrusive with regard to his personal life, his tax affairs, his relationship with his son, his father, his late sister. It was superficially impressive but whatever Mr. Hamilton said he couldn’t win."

Downes, who has accused Hamilton of falsifying evidence and lying under oath, was even more scathing. Listing five reasons – his “formidable five" as he called them – why he believed Hamilton’s case was flawed, Downes described the father of 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton as “the worst kind of witness".

“Mr. Hamilton made things up as he went along," Downes said, recalling in particular his evidence regarding how Paul di Resta earned a test drive with Force India. “He is a very intelligent man. The problem is it didn’t come off for him. He is left looking very unreliable as a witness. The worst sort of witness – ones who invent things."

Downes added that Hamilton repeatedly “avoided questions and argued" during his cross-examination, describing his version of events regarding the Go Fast deal as “bonkers".

“Your Ladyship has got to approach his evidence with such caution," he said. “It must be corroborated. If it is controversial it must be disregarded. That is the sort of person we are dealing with here. It [Hamilton’s evidence] comes with a massive health warning."

Downes asked the judge to draw negative inferences from the fact that Hamilton’s legal team declined to call a number of “key witnesses" and concluded: “As one goes through this story one is left with the lingering impression that Mr. Hamilton thought Paul and Louis di Resta were fools.

"He was prepared to take risks in certain areas because he thought they would never work it out. He thought he could actually get away with pocketing about three million on this and they would never find out because they are too foolish. That is the only way it all fits."

A judgment is expected in the new year. Telegraph

Allison: Everything in place for new Ferrari era
Ferrari technical director James Allison believes the Scuderia is once again at the 'cutting edge' and that everything is in place for another era of success for the Maranello-based squad.

Ferrari has now finished upgrading its wind tunnel and Allison reckons this, and other 'heavy' investment in terms of manpower and technical resources will pay off in 2014 and in subsequent years.

“Aerodynamics remains the lifeblood of a modern F1 car," he told Ferrari’s official website. “It’s impossible to be competitive without having the right tools and adequate resources.

"But now we can say we have moved on from being maybe the fourth or fifth best team in terms of the tools we have, to once again being at the cutting edge and to once again being able to properly dominate this sport.

“Everything is in place to open up a new Ferrari era."

Meanwhile, Allison added that since he re-joined Ferrari in September, he hasn’t focused specifically on the 2014 car.

“I definitely haven’t spent time going into the details of the design of the new car, as it wouldn’t make any sense at this stage," he explained.

“Rather, I concentrated on trying to direct adequate resources and on putting the best people in the right places to optimize attention to detail.

“Actually, when you tackle a regulation change like this one, it’s not something you only start thinking about six months beforehand.

"When I arrived in Maranello, work on the project had been on-going for two years. I tried to immerse myself in its philosophy and adapt to the team as quickly as possible. Having said that though, what you could call my active role in the design of the car involves working identifying the areas on which maybe we should push harder and concentrate more effort," he concluded.

Rosberg has blowout
Nico Rosberg on Thursday threw the spotlight back onto F1's controversial tire supplier Pirelli.

Albeit very briefly, the German told his 432,000 followers on Twitter that he suffered a failure at high speed as he tests next year's tires in Bahrain.

"Just spun at full speed, 320kmh on Bahrain straight, cause my tire blew up without warning," Rosberg said.

"Thanks to that need to get some toilet paper now," the Mercedes driver added in the tweet that was promptly deleted.

Pirelli endured a highly controversial 2013 season, including the calamitous tire-exploding British grand prix.

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