Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Sergio Perez

    Perez hopes to impress 'top team' in 2014

  • Sutil, di Resta moving on after Force India axe
  • Perez defends new 'double points' rule
  • Ecclestone fighting on as legal woes mount
  • Gutierrez says Sauber 'priority' in 2014 talks
  • FIA kicks off driver number process
  • Green light for new F1 penalty system
  • Force India: di Resta had fair chance
  • Mallya skips his day in court

Perez hopes to impress 'top team' in 2014
(GMM) Force India has completed its all-new 2014 driver lineup, confirming Sergio Perez as Nico Hulkenberg's teammate.

The Silverstone based team said the McLaren refugee and Mexican Perez has agreed a "multi-year deal".

"Coming here was always my first choice and I'm really happy everything has now been confirmed," the 23-year-old said in a statement.

But CNN quoted him as saying he hopes Force India is actually a springboard to his return to a top team.

"Hopefully we can have a strong car and confirm once again to top teams that I'm the right one for them," said Perez.

"Hopefully I can do that and have another chance in a top team in a winning car."

Perez said his new teammate, the highly rated German Hulkenberg, is in the same situation.

"He's still looking for a great opportunity for his future and it's the same for me," he said.

Team supremo Vijay Mallya made Thursday's announcement from the Mexican ambassador's residence in central London, admitting that Mexican sponsors would soon follow.

With his companies United Breweries and Kingfisher in the headlines at present, the Indian magnate revealed that the livery of the 2014 car will be different than in previous seasons.

"Traditionally, the cars and team kit have carried a lot of the brands of the owners of Sahara Force India, but that's changing," he told reporters.

One new logo is likely to belong to Telmex, Perez's long-time backer.

"It's between Force India and Telmex now to negotiate," Perez is quoted by Reuters, "but Telmex has been part of my career since a long time ago so I expect them to be with me again."

Sutil, di Resta moving on after Force India axe
(GMM) Both of Force India's race drivers this year are now looking for new jobs.

The Silverstone based team is heading into 2014 with Nico Hulkenberg alongside Sergio Perez, ousting both Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta.

Of the axed pair, German Sutil's prospects look the brightest.

He is backed by the German technology company Medion and now strongly linked with one of the best remaining seats on the 2014 grid, at the Swiss team Sauber.

"We will announce the new employer most likely in the coming week," DPA news agency quotes 30-year-old Sutil's manager Manfred Zimmermann as saying on Thursday.

Scot Di Resta, on the other hand, is likely to leave formula one, although he admitted earlier this week that Sauber was a remote possibility.

After the news of Perez's signing broke on Thursday, the 27-year-old di Resta told his 300,000 Twitter followers "it's now time for a new challenge for me in the next phase of my career".

His most likely move is back to the German touring car series with Mercedes, but he has also been linked with the IndyCar seat recently vacated by his cousin Dario Franchitti.

Force India team boss Vijay Mallya defended his decision to oust both di Resta and Sutil.

"Every team needs to move on," he told reporters in London.

"We gave Paul a good stint with us, we gave him the opportunity, he delivered for us. I have nothing against him or Adrian for that matter.

"I consulted my other team members and they all said 'new car, new regulations, let's get a new set of drivers who have got fire in their belly and are really hungry'," added Mallya.

Perez defends new 'double points' rule
(GMM) Sergio Perez has defended F1's controversial new 'double points' rule for the 2014 season finale.

With the sport moving to ensure the championship stays alive throughout the season, the 'double points' rule was greeted with uproar among fans and slammed by dominant 2013 champion Sebastian Vettel as "nonsense".

But Mexican Perez, a McLaren driver this year who is moving to Force India for 2014, admitted on Thursday he does not agree with the naysayers.

"For some it will be right and for some it will be wrong, but I see the positive," he is quoted by Reuters.

"I think it will create a much better final race where things can completely change for everyone," added Perez, 23.

"I see it positive — I am ok with the rule."

Perez also revealed that his first pick for his new, permanent race number in formula one will be 11, dating back to his karting days.

Also for reasons of karting nostalgia, it is believed Fernando Alonso will plump for 14, while Jean-Eric Vergne – and probably many of his rivals – has selected F1's iconic number 27 as among his top three preferences.

Drivers have been asked by the FIA to make their nominations before Christmas.

Mercedes' Nico Rosberg reportedly wants the number 6, which was carried by his Finnish father Keke to the 1982 title.

The sport has also introduced a new, official trophy for the driver with the most amounts of pole positions per season, according to the 2014 regulations published by the FIA on Thursday.

Ecclestone fighting on as legal woes mount
(GMM) As his legal troubles continue to mount, Bernie Ecclestone has vowed to keep fighting.

F1's embattled chief executive is already tackling the Gerhard Gribkowsky corruption scandal against German prosecutors and the media group Constantin.

And it now emerges that the state Munich bank BayernLB is also preparing a mammoth lawsuit against the 83-year-old, whose long reign as the sport's supremo appears endangered.

Ecclestone might be tempted to try to settle the cases out of court, and according to a report by Reuters, his lawyers agree.

But, referring to the looming BayernLB case, the diminutive Briton vowed to fight it in court, insisting: "They picked the wrong person with me."

Meanwhile, amid earlier reports the UK tax office Revenue and Customs was looking into Ecclestone's affairs, shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry has also called on the Serious Fraud Office to launch a probe.

"What is the Serious Fraud Office for if not for investigating cases like this?" she told BBC Newsnight.

"All I can say is that from what we've seen in the German courts and the British civil courts, there are questions to be answered."

Gutierrez says Sauber 'priority' in 2014 talks
(GMM) Esteban Gutierrez says his "priority" is to stay at Sauber in 2014, even though the Mexican does not appear first in line for a seat with the Swiss team.

Despite its financial troubles this season, Sauber's two vacancies would appear the most attractive of the few remaining places on the 2014 grid.

The Mexico-backed, 22-year-old Gutierrez had a troubled start to his F1 career last year, but he made progress as Sauber improved its car in the second half of the season.

He told Brazil's Totalrace that he would give himself a mark of 7 out of 10 for the season.

Nonetheless, it is believed that Force India refugee Adrian Sutil, and the Dutch-backed Caterham driver Giedo van der Garde, are first in line for Sauber's 2014 seats.

It is even rumored that van der Garde visited Sauber's Hinwil headquarters this week.

Asked about his own negotiations for 2014, Gutierrez answered: "We're working hard.

"I think there are good opportunities for me to continue in formula one — I hope things work out.

"For me, the priority has to be Sauber. I think it is important in formula one to have continuity, but it is always good to leave all the doors open."

FIA kicks off driver number process
AUTOSPORT understands that the FIA has requested all drivers to nominate their preferred number, along with a second and third choice, to be lodged before Christmas.

This will allow the numbers, which will be carried by drivers for the rest of their grand prix careers and will range from 2-99 with number one reserved for the world champion, to be allocated at the start of next year

Although Article 19.1 of the sporting regulations as published suggests that a random ballot would be used to allocate the numbers, FIA media delegate Matteo Bonciani has confirmed to AUTOSPORT that the method originally announced on Monday would be used.

This involved each driver having their choice based on championship order, meaning that if two or more drivers request the same number, the one placed higher in the 2013 standings will be granted it.

Stats: F1's most successful numbers

The FIA is also keen to ensure that the choice of number is made by the driver, rather than the team that employs him, which is why they are being contacted directly.

The regulation states: "Prior to the start of the 2014 World Championship season race numbers will be permanently allocated to drivers by ballot, such numbers must then be used by that driver during every Formula 1 championship event he takes part in throughout his career."

"Any new drivers, either at the start of or during a season, will also be allocated a permanent number in the same way.

"The only exception to this allocation process will be for the reigning world champion who will have the option to use the number one.

"The number that was previously allocated to him will be reserved for him in subsequent seasons if he does not retain the title of world champion."

Few drivers have as yet commented on their preferred numbers, although at an event for IWC watches Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg stated that he has requested six, five and nine in that order of preference – six being the number father Keke carried to the 1982 world championship.

Force India's Sergio Perez said his first choice will be #11, which he carried in karting and in his first season in GP2.

The sporting regulations have also been modified to ensure that number visibility is improved.

Drivers will now have to carry the race number not only on the front of the car in a way that must be "clearly visible" but also on their crash helmet for the first time. Yahoo Eurosport/Autosport

Green light for new F1 penalty system
The planned Formula 1 Superlicense penalty points system, which could lead to drivers getting bans, has been incorporated into the sporting regulations for the 2014 season.
Article 4.2 of the newly-released sporting regulations confirms that any driver who earns 12 penalty points during a 12-month period will be given a one race ban.

This plan was ratified at June's meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council and for the first time creates a rigid system to allow the banning of drivers.

Autosport understands that a driver would have to commit multiple infringements to build up 12 points, meaning that only regular repeat offenders would be banned.

"In accordance with Article 16.3 [which covers driving standards], the stewards may impose penalty points on a driver's Superlicense," states Article 4.2 of the sporting regulations.

"If a driver accrues 12 penalty points his license will be suspended for the following event, following which 12 points will be removed from the license.

"Penalty points will remain on a driver's Superlicense for a period of 12 months after which they will be respectively removed on the 12-month anniversary of their imposition."

The sanctions on unsafe releases from pitstops have also been toughened up.

Drivers will incur grid or time penalties if their car is released from the garage or a pitstop in a manner deemed unsafe by the stewards.

If a car is deemed to have been released in an unsafe manner during practice sessions, the stewards may impose a grid penalty for that race if they find it necessary.

If the incident occurs during the race, the driver will get a 10-place grid penalty for the next event, but can also be penalized during the current event if he can continue racing after the incident. Possible sanctions for that case are drive-throughs and 10-second penalties.

The new sporting regulations also detail the way that grid penalties will be applied in 2014 for the new 1.6-litre V6 turbocharged engines.

In 2014, the 'power unit' is divided into six separate modules, with a maximum of five examples of each permitted to be used.

These elements are the internal combustion engine, the motor generator unit-kinetic, the motor generator unit-heat, the energy store, the turbocharger and the control electronics.

On the first occasion a sixth example of any of the six parts is used, it will trigger a 10-place penalty, although five-place penalties will be given for any subsequent use of a sixth element.

This pattern will continue for the seventh and any subsequent elements, with the first use earning a 10-place penalty and the subsequent ones five places.

If a complete power unit is replaced at any time, the driver must start the race from the pits.

The rules also confirm that should a driver be too far down the grid to serve a full penalty, the remaining grid slots will be carried forward into the next race.

In another tweak, gearboxes must now be used for six consecutive events. Yahoo Eurosport/Autosport

Force India: di Resta had fair chance
Paul di Resta did "nothing wrong" even though Force India decided to drop him for the 2014 Formula 1 season because a ride-buyer came along and flashed a big check in front of team principal Vijay Mallya's eyes. He could not resist the temptation.

"Nothing went wrong with Paul," said Mallya. "I like him, he is a great friend and hopefully he will remain that, but every team needs to move on.

"We gave Paul a good stint with us; it wasn't just one year. We gave him the opportunity, he did a lot for us. We felt, and all my team members felt, that new car, new challenges, perhaps a new driver lineup would also be appropriate."

And so why did Mallya need Perez's ride-buyer check? Because…..the Karnataka High Court has rejected a petition by Vijay Mallya-led Kingfisher Airlines Limited challenging the move by a consortium of banks to take possession of its "Kingfisher House" property in Mumbai to realize part of the debts due to them from the airlines.

Kingfisher Airlines Limited (KAL) had sought the high court's intervention to prevent the banks from taking possession of the property, which houses the airline's prominent offices, but Justice Anand Byrareddy rejected the contention.

In his order on Wednesday, Justice Byrareddy said sections 34 and 35 of the Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act, 2002, bars the Company Court from exercising its power when the banks invoke provisions under it to take possession of the pledged assets.

SBICAP Trustee Company Limited had filed an application before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (Esplanade, Mumbai) on behalf of the consortium to take possession of the property to realize part of the debts due to the banks, which was challenged by KAL.

"The Company Court cannot interfere in the action taken by the banks to take possession of the property in question, but the company can only take recourse under the SARFAESI Act and not under the Companies Act," the judge said.

Justice Byrareddy said the banks could take over the property as per law.

KAL has been grounded for more than 15 months and Mallya had stated in September that the airlines was in talks with a foreign investor for potential stake sale but refused to divulge the investor's name.

Mallya skips his day in court
Vijay Mallya, the chairman of UB Group, was pushed further into a corner by the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday even as it came down heavily on Mallya for not turning up at the Court as per its orders and said that he should appear on September 25, extending the summon. The HC also offered a ray of hope to the hundreds of employees of UB-Group owned now-grounded Kingfisher Airlines, who have not been paid monthly salaries for over a year now.

There were two developments for these employees when the HC said their case can be heard along with the ongoing hearings of un-secured creditors who are fighting hard to get back their dues of close to Rs 600 crore. In a move that brought relief to the employees, the Court said their petition can be heard along with the other cases against the company. The second important indication from the Court was that a part of the Rs 250 crore deposited by United Breweries Holdings Ltd (UBHL) as part of the case with creditors can be used to pay the salaries.

The High Court has allowed Mallya’s counsel four weeks to submit an update on the revival plan for Kingfisher Airlines, failing which the company would have to draw up an alternate plan to pay Kingfisher employees their salaries. “The workforce cannot wait until the company decides whether a revival of Kingfisher Airlines is possible or not. They cannot be kept starving because someone in the Ministry may take about 10 years to decide," Justice Ram Mohan Reddy said.

Lawyers representing Kingfisher said the company was in the advanced stage of a revival plan being worked out by the company and has submitted a document indicating the efforts in confidence to Justice S Abdul Nazeer of the Company Court, who has allowed KFA four weeks’ time to make a revival plan and submit it before the bench.

Justice Reddy also said Kingfishers employees could file a fresh application to the court asking for their salaries amounting to about Rs 20 crores a month to be disbursed from the Rs 250 crore deposit made by UBHL against five winding up court cases filed against UBHL, if they could prove that UBHL had a rights obligation toward Kingfisher employees according to the provisions of the Company Law. This was suggested after the court dismissed an application filed by another set of Kingfisher employees pleading for a settlement of their salaries by UBHL, as lawyers representing UBHL argued that Kingfisher Airlines was no longer a subsidiary of UBHL and hence not their ‘employer,’ to have any obligation to pay its employees.

Employees of Kingfisher Airlines, unpaid for 13 months now, are not only pleading for all or part of their salaries but also opposing the winding up of the company as the move would leave about 1,200 employees without jobs. Many pilots have not applied for a renewal of their license and employees say their chances of moving to other airlines are hampered by the fact that training on a new aircraft would require an investment of up to Rs 20 lakh. However, 21 employees, including those flying the Airbus fleet under Kingfisher Airlines have found employment with Air Asia, according to a source.

Lenders continue to haunt
The High Court also ordered the submission of a complete audited report on Sept 25, consisting of UBHL’s United Spirits stake sale to Diageo as BNP Paribas has alleged some of the proceeds of the stake sale to Diageo has been taken out of the country.

The Court has also extended its summon to Mallya to appear in person by a week on the day of the hearing of the case.

The Karnataka High Court has added that UBHL will have to submit a complete audited statement containing the particulars of the stake sale including a profit and loss statement showing details of the proceeds from the stake sale.

Lenders to Kingfisher Airlines, which include BNP Paribas, Rolls Royce and ATR, IAE, have filed an application asking that any revival plan made for KFA should be made with the consent and concurrence of bankers whose dues of over Rs 6,000 crore is yet to be settled by the defunct Airline. The Defense Counsel maintained that company will talk to lenders and bankers at an appropriate time.

A million free seats on offer
AirAsia is offering one million free seats from Kuala Lumpur to destinations within Malaysia and international destinations to celebrate record of flying 200 million passengers till now. The free seats can be booked online on the airline website from September 17-22 and are valid for travel for travel from January 7 – August 5, 2014.

AirAsia is also offering promotional fares in conjunction with the free seats campaign with all taxes inclusive fares from as low as Rs 5000 from Chennai to Kuala Lumpur, Rs 3820 from Chennai to Bangkok, Rs 4000from Kochi/Tiruchirappalli to Kuala Lumpur,Rs 6000 from Bangalore to Kuala Lumpur Rs 5000 from Kolkata to Kuala Lumpur , Rs 3320from Kolkata to Bangkok.