Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • NJ Garages almost all done

    Work still underway on 2014 New Jersey track

  • Ferrari wants Bianchi in F1 midfield – manager
  • Vettel says Mercedes has best F1 duo
  • What next for Spa?
  • Making an impact
  • F1 personnel merry-go-round
  • Fry Looking Forward to Allison’s Arrival at Ferrari
  • Monza Preview

Work still underway on 2014 New Jersey track
(GMM) Amid Bernie Ecclestone's claims the race will not take place next year, work on the street circuit in New Jersey is still taking place.

"As far as we are concerned, the race is still on," West New York mayor Felix Roque is quoted by

He said construction crews are "working diligently on Boulevard East, getting curbs and sidewalks done … they are out there today".

Earlier, F1 chief executive Ecclestone said the 2014 race is no longer "on the cards" due to organizers' financial problems.

But a race spokesman hit back by insisting preparations are on track, and Ecclestone later answered "no, no" when asked if he had ruled out adding New Jersey to next year's calendar.

An unnamed team boss told Speed Week Ecclestone, 82, might simply be up to his old games, insisting "it's not the first time we've heard words like these".

"I would not write off the race in New Jersey," he added.

Another local mayor, Weehawken's Richard Turner, said he also doubted the reports that say the race is definitely off.

"No one from F1 down to (promoter) Mr. (Leo) Hindery has said the race was off," said Turner.

"The way they negotiate details seems to be in the public."

Turner said he was waiting for September 24, when the first 2014 calendar will be officially published by the FIA.

"We'll see then if we are on the schedule," he added.

Meanwhile, the state government has announced a smaller than usual loss – $50 million – for this year's Australian grand prix.

But neither side of politics – the government or the opposition – is promising to renew Melbourne's race contract beyond 2015.

"Generally the driver of all government activity on this will be we will only sign a new contract if it represents good value for money," minister Louise Asher told reporters on Wednesday.

Ferrari wants Bianchi in F1 midfield – manager
(GMM) Jules Bianchi's manager says Ferrari is pushing for the Frenchman to leave Marussia and join a team in the sport's "middle group".

The report by the French-language F1i said the Swiss team Sauber, tipped to renew or possibly deepen its deal with Ferrari in 2014, could field Bianchi alongside young rookie Sergey Sirotkin next year.

Bianchi's manager Nicolas Todt said the 24-year-old has made an impression in 2013 despite racing for the back-of-the-grid Marussia team.

"Despite the fact that he is with a small team," he said, "it would be fair to say that Jules has already made a name for himself in formula one.

"Others have rarely managed to achieve this," said Todt.

"Ferrari is closely watching the results as they want him to pursue his career in one of the teams in the middle group, before joining the Scuderia one day," he added.

Nicolas Todt, whose father is the FIA president Jean Todt, also manages Felipe Massa.

The Swiss newspaper Blick said the experienced Brazilian could also be in the running to return to Sauber next year, if Ferrari does not extend his contract.

Veteran correspondent Roger Benoit said taking on a Ferrari-linked driver could be a way for Sauber to receive a discount on its new 2014 turbo engine bill.

According to Speed Week, Nicolas Todt was spotted in conversation with Sauber chiefs at Spa-Francorchamps at the weekend, no doubt triggering the latest rumors.

Ferrari, however, is not commenting.

"In the next few races," said team boss Stefano Domenicali, "we will try to improve the car to give Fernando the conditions to fight for the title, and also so that Felipe can deliver performances to help the team.

"These are our goals," he is quoted by Brazil's Globo. "The rest does not matter now."

Vettel says Mercedes has best F1 duo
(GMM) Mercedes has perhaps the very best driver pairing in formula one.

That is not the claim of a figure like Ross Brawn, Toto Wolff or Niki Lauda, but of the German team's arch championship rival Sebastian Vettel.

The reigning world champion, and runaway 2013 points leader, was asked by Bild to consider this year's field and name the ideal driver duo.

"Hamilton and Rosberg," he told the German newspaper.

"They push as well as harmonize one another very well," added the Red Bull driver.

Vettel's comments might be interpreted as just the latest sign that he does not get along well with his own teammate, the departing Mark Webber.

But the 26-year-old insists that "people on the outside" have always had the wrong impression about Red Bull's current lineup.

"Our relationship is completely professional," said Vettel.

As for all the media hype about Webber's successor, the German said the eventual choice won't make much of a difference to him.

"As a fan, perhaps I'm interested," he said.

"But in the end I will always want to get to the finish before the others — whether they're in a red or a black or even the same-colored car," Vettel smiled.

What next for Spa?
There will be arguments over the success or failure the protest, given the lack of TV impact, but this was the most serious security breach at a Grand Prix since Neil Horan, dressed as a priest, ran along the track at the 2003 British Grand Prix and the most notable against a sponsor of the sport since a disgruntled former Mercedes-Benz employee wandered along the side of the track at the 2000 German Grand Prix.

Circuit officials from Spa-Francorchamps should, at the very least, expect a call from world motorsport's governing body, the FIA, an organization which once banned Jerez from staging races following political interference in the podium ceremony in 1997.

The Belgian Grand Prix has always walked a financial tightrope, despite being one of the most popular races amongst fans. With more venues than races seemingly available in the next couple of years – Russia on the horizon, a New Jersey race still not dead, Austria returning next year and Mexico City emerging over the weekend as a potential race host in 2014 or 2015 – it was the worst possible time to have failed to meet the sport's high venue standards.

Making an impact
When Ferrari-contracted Kamui Kobayashi crashed one of the team's Formula One cars during a demonstration event in Moscow last month, it might have been expected the team would try and brush the broken pieces under the carpet.

Not a bit of it. Ferrari have made the most of it, releasing the on-board video of the shunt to the world. And Kobayashi himself – smiling perhaps through gritted teeth – returned to Moscow last week to present Eugene Kaspersky – the head of Ferrari sponsor Kaspersky Lab, which helped fund the demonstration – with the damaged nosecone from the accident.

"It's an artifact manufactured in Italy and 'sketched' by a Japanese and now it has its best hanging here in Moscow," said anti-virus software producer Kaspersky, whose logo was hardly touched amidst the damage.

Kudos to Ferrari for making the most of an embarrassing moment.

F1 personnel merry-go-round
While the world waiting for confirmation about who will partner Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull Racing next year, Formula One's technical merry-go-round has continued apace.

Mercedes has this year added former McLaren technical chief Paddy Lowe to its ranks, joining Ross Brawn at the head of a team which at one stage last year had five former technical directors on its staff.

At Ferrari, meanwhile, former Renault man James Allison has just begun work alongside Pat Fry, a former McLaren technical leader.

Lowe has been replaced at McLaren by Tim Goss, who works closely with sporting director Sam Michael, a former Williams technical director.

Michael was replaced at Williams by Mike Coughlan in 2011, but Coughlan has now been replaced by former Benetton, Renault and Marussia stalwart Pat Symonds.

Symonds, whose first race in Williams colors was in Belgium, is only the fourth technical director in the British team's history after Patrick Head, Michael and Coughlin.

All the changes are in preparation for the sweeping regulation changes coming into effect in 2014; this year, the big money moves are not just for the drivers.

Fry Looking Forward to Allison’s Arrival at Ferrari
Ferrari engineering director Pat Fry says that the arrival of James Allison will allow him to focus more on improving the performance of the F138.

Former Lotus man Allison, who officially starts work next week, will have Fry’s former job title of technical director (chassis). This will be his second spell at the team after he worked under Ross Brawn from 2000 to 2005.

“I think getting James on board will be a great asset for us really, I mean he’s a top bloke, isn’t he?," said Fry. “In reality there’s been a huge amount of work for me to do. It’s almost like changing the organization and the running of the company, as well as trying to look at the car."

“For me it’s good because I’ll have more time to be able to concentrate on really what’s going to make the car quick. Between the two of us we’ll divide the work up. There will be more minds thinking about things, so it can only help."

Meanwhile Fry made an interesting comment about balancing preparations for 2014 with developing the current car.

“We’re still pushing as hard as we can. We’ve got updates coming through from the tunnel, a few more for Monza and another set for Singapore. So we’ll keep on pushing until Singapore, and then see where we are and revise things then."

Monza is one of the highlights of the F1 season

Monza Preview
Located around half an hour from the centre of Milan, the Autodromo Nazionale Monza is one of the shrines of motorsport. Woven into Monza’s Royal Park, it has been the scene of motor races since 1922 and since 1950 it has been home of the Italian Grand Prix, save for the 1980 race which was held at Imola while track refurbishments took place.

As Ferrari’s home race the Italian Grand Prix has as its traditional backdrop the Tifosi, especially in a year when the team is still involved in a world championship tussle by September. The passionate support and the rich history of the venue combine to make the race one of the standout attractions on the calendar. The podium, located uniquely on a bridge overlooking the pit-lane, always provides one of the images of the season, with fans flocking underneath it after the race – particularly if the top three includes a Ferrari driver.

The race also has an important commercial role. It brings with it the traditional arrival of a delegation of Ferrari executives led by president Luca di Montezemolo, and is also the final stage of the European part of the season. Deals, be they driver announcements or sponsorships for the following year, have historically been done at Monza, although as the final international swing of the season expands almost annually the Italian Grand Prix gets further and further from the end of the championship.

“There are a number of things about Monza," confirms Mark Gallagher, before examining the commercial appeal of one of Formula One’s most traditional yearly events. “Its proximity to Milan favors it because a lot of corporate guests and their spouses or partners regard Milan as a great place to go, so it ticks a box there. Its presence as the last European race means that, in my experience, quite often what happens is European sponsors suddenly have a rush of urgency to cram in the final European race, so there’s a big build-up of enquiries about Monza in mid-July when everyone realizes it’s the last race before it’s off into the rest of the world. It works from that point of view.

“Then there is the Spa brigade, the die-hards, who want to stand on the banking and take in the atmosphere of the Monza park. All of those things combined make it a very popular event and one that is a vital pillar of Formula One long-term."

Although popular the event is an expensive one for the corporate community, according to Jim Wright.

“The pricing argument still applies to the Italian market and I think it’s difficult for them to spend that kind of money on corporate guests," he says.

“Timing-wise, though, it’s OK because people are back from holidays, and because it’s always the first weekend in September it benefits from that [consistency of date]. It’s a very traditional venue."

The overall crowd at the race tends to rise and fall depending on Ferrari’s performance. In a good year it is packed to the rafters; in a bad one, such as 2009, there are swathes of empty seats, even in the main grandstand opposite the pits.

Such is the historic importance of the event, it is believed that the Societa Incremento Automobilsmo e Sport (SIAS) pays a much smaller annual hosting fee to Formula One Management than many other races on the calendar. SIAS, which is 70 per cent owned by the Automobile Club of Milan and 30 per cent by its estate agency, was responsible for building and managing Monza.

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