Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Ecclestone – "We should not have changed the engine"

    Ecclestone still thinks V6 switch bad idea

  • Reports of biggest F1 budget 'fantasy' – Ferrari
  • Defeated F1 peers split over Vettel versus Alonso question
  • Horner as Ecclestone's successor a joke – Montezemolo
  • Moves afoot for December tire test with 2013 cars

Ecclestone still thinks V6 switch bad idea
(GMM) F1's V8 engines have already roared for the last time, but Bernie Ecclestone still thinks moving to turbo V6s next year is a bad idea.

Asked by the Spanish sports newspaper Marca if he thinks the radical rules shift for 2014 was necessary, the F1 chief executive answered: "No I don't, but let's wait and see."

Ecclestone, 83, also answered "yes" when asked if he thinks forcing teams to spend extra in already tight economic conditions is a mistake.

"I think it is a mistake, but I don't think it is going to change formula one," he insisted. "We have changed the rules many times and it has always been the same sport."

But Ecclestone admitted he is still worried about the milder sound of the new turbo engines. "What we had is good, everyone likes it, so why change it?" he wondered.

"It was thought that, if we had smaller engines, more manufacturers would be attracted to formula one. But nobody else seems to be coming," he said.

Reports of biggest F1 budget 'fantasy' – Ferrari
(GMM) Ferrari has hit back at reports in a famous British magazine that its budget is the highest in formula one.

Autosport said Ferrari's annual budget is EUR 250 million; 15 more than world champions Red Bull, and a whopping 90 million higher than any other team.

The fabled Italian team's anonymous website columnist The Horse Whisperer, however, hit back by insisting the figures are "fantasy", which have drawn "even distinguished newspapers into conclusions that are wildly erroneous".

"It would be easy to deny the figures with facts," Ferrari added, "but the truth about business matters has to stay confidential."

Defeated F1 peers split over Vettel versus Alonso question
(GMM) As only a forced winter pause finally stops Sebastian Vettel's winning streak for now, the F1 grid is divided over whether the German is really the best.

He has won four world championships on the trot, and recently equaled famous records once set by statistical legends Michael Schumacher and Alberto Ascari.

Still, not all of his peers think the Red Bull driver is better than the 2013 runner-up, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

"They are both great drivers," Vettel's retiring teammate Mark Webber said, "but I can only say that I was really happy to be fighting against Fernando in my last race."

Australian Webber, however, is famously friendly with the Spaniard.

Alonso's Ferrari teammate for the past four years, Felipe Massa, is undecided.

"For me, they are both great," the Brazilian told Spain's AS sports newspaper, who in Brazil last weekend surveyed every driver on the grid for their opinion about Vettel versus Alonso.

"Vettel is the champion," Massa added, "Fernando is considered the best. You want me to say one? I won't do that."

Others are less diplomatic. "I think that in that Red Bull, Alonso would win even more easily than Vettel does," said Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton.

Nico Rosberg added: "I don't know if Alonso is the best, but he's one of the best, no doubt. Better than Seb? Maybe."

Alonso's fellow Spanish speaker, Mexican Sergio Perez, answered: "Although this year has been all about Vettel, it is clear to me that Alonso is the best."

Another Mexican, Esteban Gutierrez, added: "Alonso, yes, Alonso. He is still the best."

McLaren driver Jenson Button is not so convinced: "I couldn't say," said the Briton.

"If I was a team boss … when I am a team boss I will show you who I would sign," Button laughed.

Pastor Maldonado added: "I think Vettel is very good, for sure, but if I was a team I would have Alonso, of course, without a doubt.

"Fernando is a genius," the Venezuelan said.

But Valtteri Bottas answered: "Um … that's a difficult question. I think I would have them both!"

Caterham's Giedo van der Garde and Marussia's Max Chilton also answered: "Both."

Heikki Kovalainen did not hesitate before naming his favorite: "Alonso."

Romain Grosjean admitted: "That is a very difficult question and I couldn't honestly answer it."

Nico Hulkenberg agreed: "Impossible to say, impossible to know."

Adrian Sutil added: "All I can say is that they are both very good, but I wouldn't like to say one or the other (is best)."

But Paul di Resta admitted he is leaning in Alonso's direction. "It's hard to say, Vettel is the champion but Fernando … what can you say about Alonso that hasn't already been said?"

Some drivers gave political answers.

"I have Spanish and German friends, so I don't want to hurt anyone," laughed Caterham's Charles Pic.

"I think I will surprise you," said Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso's continuing driver Jean-Eric Vergne, "but I will say Vettel."

"I admire Fernando," said Daniel Ricciardo, who will be Vettel's teammate in 2014, "but I'll take Seb!"

Jules Bianchi smiled: "I stick with Alonso, but I can't say anything else, as I work with Ferrari."

Horner as Ecclestone's successor a joke – Montezemolo
(GMM) Luca di Montezemolo has dismissed as a "joke" Bernie Ecclestone's claim that Christian Horner is his ideal successor as F1 supremo.

Amid the Ecclestone corruption affair, and the 83-year-old's advancing years, it is believed the sport's owner CVC would prefer to headhunt from outside the sport.

But, even though Horner subsequently reaffirmed his commitment to Red Bull, F1 chief executive Ecclestone said last week that he would be "happy" to help the 40-year-old find his feet in charge of the sport.

And when asked about his comments this week by Spain's Marca newspaper, Ecclestone answered: "He (Horner) is an intelligent man and I think he would get on with all the people he would have to."

When asked about Ecclestone's apparent naming of his chosen future successor, Ferrari president Montezemolo told Italian television Rai Uno that it was a joke.

"As the years go by, he more and more enjoys making jokes and I'm happy he still has the desire to do so."

Montezemolo also questioned Ecclestone's nomination of Red Bull's new quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel as better even than F1 legend Ayrton Senna.

"Ecclestone says what suits him," he answered, "but there is no doubt he (Vettel) is a great driver. He is a serious young man who has won a lot and therefore he deserves respect."

Moves afoot for December tire test with 2013 cars
(GMM) Moves are afoot to organize a Pirelli tire test in December, ahead of the start of official 2014 testing in January.

F1's official supplier had been pushing for the Bahrain test – to further develop its 2014 tires and give it time to react ahead of the January tests – with the assistance of just one team, and McLaren had firmly put its hand up.

But some teams objected.

"It would be unfortunate," said Mercedes' Ross Brawn, "if one team had the benefit of running a tire to the exclusion of all the others."

With Friday's rain spoiling Pirelli's efforts to test its 2014 tires at Interlagos, however, the prospect of the December plans being scrapped had raised real concerns that F1 will head into another new season with unsuitable tires.

So, on Sunday at Interlagos, and with the crucial input of Mercedes' Niki Lauda, the team bosses were hurriedly summoned by Bernie Ecclestone and Pirelli's Paul Hembery, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reveals.

The subject of the meeting was the possible organization of a full tire test in December with 2013 cars, which will require the approval of FIA president Jean Todt.

"The decision must be made by Wednesday, for logistical reasons," explained correspondent Michael Schmidt.

"The condition is that Pirelli will pay for the test and theoretically every team can send a car.

"But it requires the consent of all the teams, and the FIA," he added.

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