F1 news in brief – Wednesday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Red Bull's Helmut Marko (L) has to thank Christian Horner (R) for assembling a great Red Bull team

    Swiss authorities open criminal probe against Ecclestone

  • Webber's bad mood with Vettel started in 2007 – Marko
  • Williams denies talks with Brawn
  • F1 doctor slams doping claims
  • F1's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix a sell-out again
  • Rosberg on the Magic Bus
  • In praise of Christian Horner New
  • Bids received for Nurburgring New
  • Yas Marina Circuit: three corners in detail New

Swiss authorities open criminal probe against Ecclestone
(GMM) Yet another war front has opened for F1's embattled chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.

As the trial brought by a German media company started in London on Tuesday, 83-year-old Ecclestone was accused of being "corrupt" by lawyers for Constantin Medien, who are seeking $171 million in damages.

Not only that, Briton Ecclestone is still waiting to see if German prosecutors are going to push their similar, albeit criminal charges to a trial, relating to the $44 million payment made to Gerhard Gribkowsky, allegedly as a bribe.

And it now emerges that Swiss authorities have opened their own criminal investigation into the same matter relating to the sale of F1's commercial rights some years ago.

Following a report in the Financial Times, the Bloomberg news agency quoted a spokesman for the Geneva prosecutor's office as saying: "A criminal investigation has been launched."

The spokesman said the investigation follows a request made by Constantin.

"We have to establish the veracity of the facts and whether these would constitute a criminal violation," he added.

Mid-year tire switch helped Red Bull – Newey
(GMM) Adrian Newey has admitted Pirelli's mid-season tire specification change helped the quadruple back-to-back world champions in 2013.

Sebastian Vettel, who clinched his fourth title in India last weekend, had already won races this season at the time of the tire-exploding British grand prix, where after Pirelli came under pressure to revert to last year's Kevlar-belted construction.

Red Bull lobbied hard for the change, and car designer Newey has now admitted that the 2012 tires gave the team a performance boost.

"Going back to the 2012 tires clearly helped us," he is quoted by France's L'Equipe.

"Our car works very well in fast corners, which is where the 2013 tires suffered most. They were pretty easy to damage, so we couldn't really use this advantage that we had over the other teams," added Newey.

Although Vettel's name has been under the title spotlight for the past four seasons, many in the paddock believe Newey to be the real champion of that period.

But Newey insists that Vettel has grown into the role of a truly top F1 driver, since lifting his first title in a head-to-head with teammate Mark Webber in 2010.

"His driving has gone from very talented but slightly raw at times in, let's say, 2009, to incredibly well rounded now," he told the Guardian.

"In 2009 and 2010 you could occasionally criticize him for making slightly ill-judged moves and hence having accidents.

"You could criticize him, possibly, for not being able to overtake. I think some people, possibly, felt that, if he didn't start from pole and control the race from the front, then he was not so good," added Newey.

"You really can't make those criticisms any more. It's difficult to see a chink in his armory."

Vettel's fellow four-time world champion Alain Prost agrees: "He doesn't make stupid mistakes anymore," he told Germany's Sport Bild.

So as the podium boos of recent races now fade, Vettel's four titles – surpassed only by Juan Manuel Fangio (5) and Michael Schumacher (7) – have gained him a new level of respect.

Ferrari test driver Pedro de la Rosa said: "Vettel has been magnificent in his work," he told Marca, "and he stands out with Alonso, Kimi and Hamilton.

"It is impossible to take any merit from his successes," de la Rosa added.

Webber's bad mood with Vettel started in 2007 – Marko
(GMM) Mark Webber's bad relationship with his teammate Sebastian Vettel dates back six years.

That is the claim of Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko, who plays down suggestions Australian Webber and German Vettel only really fell out after the well-documented 'Multi 21' team orders saga of this season.

Not so, Austrian Marko told the Swiss newspaper Blick, as "It goes back to Fuji 2007".

In the Japanese grand prix six years ago, Webber was running strongly for Red Bull when Vettel, a rookie racing for Toro Rosso, crashed into him whilst running behind the safety car.

A furious Webber famously slammed "kids" who "f*** it all up".

"He (Vettel) probably cost him (Webber) his first victory," said Marko. "Since then there was trouble."

After Vettel wrapped up his fourth title in India last weekend, Webber did not appear for the post-race team photo, in which Red Bull also celebrated its fourth consecutive constructors' championship victory.

"Well done to Seb on his championship," Webber said in a post-race statement after retiring with alternator failure, "and also to all the team; to get a fourth title is amazing."

Williams denies talks with Brawn
(GMM) Williams has played down reports the British team could be the next destination for Ross Brawn.

Mercedes on Tuesday refused to comment on the latest speculation about Brawn's future, amid suggestions the 58-year-old has decided to step down as team boss.

Last month, paddock rumors suggested Brawn could be interested in buying the 15 per cent stake in Williams currently owned by his Mercedes colleague Toto Wolff, who is keen to offload the shares to end a conflict of interest.

Brawn began his F1 career in the 70s when Sir Frank Williams gave him a job as a machinist.

Later, in the mid 90s, he worked with great success at Benetton alongside Pat Symonds, who this year started work as Williams' new technical boss.

But Brawn insisted last month: "I'm definitely not buying shares in Williams!"

That doesn't mean he might not head back to the British team simply to work there alongside Symonds.

But deputy team boss Claire Williams told the Mirror in Abu Dhabi this week: "There have been no conversations with Ross."

Brawn has also been linked with McLaren's new Honda era beginning in 2015, but the latest rumor is that he could reunite with his old Ferrari boss Jean Todt, who is now president of F1's governing FIA.

F1 doctor slams doping claims
(GMM) Former F1 doctor Gary Hartstein has slammed suggestions even formula one is not immune to doping.

From 2003 to 2005, Marc Sanson was head of the conseil de prevention et de lutte contre le dopage, or the French anti-doping council.

This year, the French senate revealed an explosive report about doping, with particular attention to the troubled world of cycling.

But Sanson was quoted as saying: "For many years, (F1) drivers have used tacrine, a product used in the treatment of diseases such as Alzheimer's, in order to remember the circuits more easily."

According to The National newspaper, former F1 doctor Hartstein hit back angrily at Sanson's claims.

He said the comments smack of a "loudmouth know-nothing looking for a headline", adding that "tacrine is not and has never been on the prohibited list".

But Gartstein said that even though tacrine is not prohibited, he doubts F1 drivers take it anyway because "it has tons of side effects".

"You may get a performance advantage, you may die, any number of things might happen, but it's not doping — maybe stupid, but not doping," he insisted.

F1's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix a sell-out again
The race for the 2013 Formula One drivers championship may be over for another year after Sebastian Vettel's win in India, but try telling that to motorsport fans in the UAE.

This year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has sold out for the fifth consecutive year, with a new record 55,000 fans from over 80 countries set to enjoy race weekend.

The final ticket for the race was sold just before 8pm on Monday night at the Yas Marina Circuit East Gate retail outlet.

International fans account for over 40 per cent of the sell-out crowd confirmed in Abu Dhabi for the 1-3 November weekend.

“It is a major milestone and testament to both the broad appeal of the event as well as the Abu Dhabi welcome that we extend to our customers," said Richard Cregan, Chief Executive Officer of Yas Marina Circuit (above).

“It’s going to be an outstanding weekend and we are looking forward to welcoming fans from all corners of the globe."

Rosberg on the Magic Bus
Nowhere on the Formula One calendar is there a more jarring contrast between the gleaming paddock and the surrounding areas than in India, a fact which makes more than a few more than a little uncomfortable. Before the race weekend began, though, Nico Rosberg took some time out to show 20 local youngsters around the world of Formula One, as part of his duties as an ambassador for Laureus.

The Mercedes driver joined the Magic Bus, which has reached out to 250,000 children across India. It is one of 140 projects Laureus supports, and has raised €60 million for, around the world. “Sport is so effective in inspiring young people and giving them hope for the future," said Rosberg, amongst the most well-rounded drivers on the Formula One grid.

“Nowhere is this more true than in India where so many children have to struggle from the day they are born. I was pleased I was able to meet the guys and talk to them. I took the chance to show them around on my working desk in the team’s garage. I think they were amazed by the whole day and I hope they will be inspired by the visit and become role models for the other young people at Magic Bus." The Black Book

In praise of Christian Horner
Amidst the fully deserved praise for the impeccable Vettel – the model for the ideal modern-day Formula One driver – and the consistent brilliance of the man who has, since 2009, designed his cars, Briton Adrian Newey, it is easy to overlook the qualities of the third member of Red Bull Racing's leadership dream team. Christian Horner was appointed team principal by Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz in 2005. Still only 39, he is now presiding over an era of domination, deftly managing not only the team, based in an innocuous industrial estate in Milton Keynes, but the near-constant media duties over every Grand Prix weekend, not to mention satisfying his occasionally difficult paymasters back in Austria.

Four successive championship doubles suggests he has been pretty successful at the balancing act. "You're running a business from Monday to Friday," Horner told SportsPro before the start of this season, "and then you're running a sports team for 20 weekends of the year, managing that sports team and having to sign off on all the key and tactical decisions – and on top of that deal with the media and public scrutiny there is on the sport. But that's part of the challenge, that's part of the fun of what the role is." He may not quite make as many headlines as Vettel or even Newey, but Horner has undeniably played his part. The Black Book

Bids received for Nurburgring
The administrator handling the affairs of the bankrupt Nurburgring operation has revealed that he had received several bids from parties interested in securing the future of the facility.

With its operating company having been declared insolvent, the fate of the famous old venue remains in limbo, despite its standing as possibly the greatest circuit of all time.

The Nurburgring ran into serious financial trouble after plans to build a motorsport theme park alongside the circuit proved to be €350m bust. When private investment did not materialize, funds had to be drawn from the public purse and, while the loans were forthcoming in the interests of securing promised jobs and income for the Eifel region, the project failed on a business level, leaving the circuit with massive debts.

The problem was exacerbated by the European Union's refusal to agree to a €13m bail-out to service the €300m loan from the state-owned Bank of Rhineland-Palatinate, which would allegedly have prevented the facility from tumbling into administration. The venue is now listed as bankrupt and faced being sold off to developers unless it was rescued by a white knight.

All bids to buy the venue had to be lodged by September and, despite scotched reports that Bernie Ecclestone may have been interested in the complex, various news sources cited the likes of Red Bull team owner – and A1 Ring proprietor – Dietrich Mateschitz, German automobile club ADAC and even current track boss Jorg Linder as potential bidders.

"The Nurburgring is, without a doubt, the cradle of German motorsports," ADAC president Peter Meyer told Reuters, "It's an automotive cultural treasure."

More recently, it has been suggested that Germany's assorted auto manufacturers may join the throng, particularly with the Nordschliefe's testing 13-mile layout having proven popular for development purposes. Reports suggest that the venue typically generates an annual revenue of €50-60m and has underlying profits of €6-8m.

Law dictates that any buyer must keep the circuit open to the public and the motor industry, despite the infamous layout seeing over 200 accidents and three deaths in the last two years. Although the majority of users are enthusiasts determined to test their mettle – and machines – against the legendary 'Green Hell', the circuit also stages manufacturer test days 'behind closed doors'.

Administrator Thomas Schmidt confirms that he has received 'a sufficient number of legitimate non-binding bids for all Nurburgring assets' and said that he hoped a sale could be concluded early in 2014. crash.net

Yas Marina Circuit: three corners in detail
Turn 7
Yas Marina is considered a mid-range power track, although the power sensitivity is lessened by the high concentration of low to medium speed bends in the back part of the circuit round the Marina. Turn 7, the hairpin, is the slowest of the circuit and similar to the challenges of the Grand Hairpin in Monaco. The engine braking needs to be particularly effective for rear stability on entrance, but equally the response needs to be completely correct as the hairpin exit leads onto the long back straight. Any hesitation will compromise the entry to the straight and therefore the overall lap time.

Back straight (between Turns 7 and 8)
Approximately 55% of the track is spent at full throttle, with average speeds of 190kph, similar to the demands of Montreal. The percentage is heightened by the two long straights, the longest of which is the 1.2km straight between turns 7 and 8. The RS27 will be at full throttle for 14secs here, reaching speeds of over 310kph. Calibration of gear ratios is crucial: seventh gear must be set relatively long to allow a competitive end of straight speed with DRS active. However the right-hand corners in the third sector require the gears to be closely spaced to achieve the required short bursts of acceleration between tight corners, so engine engineers will be forced to compromise somewhere along the line.

Turn 21
The third part of the track from turn 11 through to the final turn 21 features mainly right hand corners that are taken in second or third gear. Turn 21 is a good example of a typical corner in this section. The average speed is low; just 160kph so the RS27 will be set up to give good driveability whilst being responsive for the short bursts of power between turns. Rear stability is the key here since tenths of a second can be won if the car is ‘nailed’ to the track in the slow speed turns.

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