Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • 'Minnow' Marussia has no chance

    No 'level playing field' in F1 for Marussia

  • Mercedes not found guilty of rule breach – Lauda
  • Illegal test threat only a joke – Marko
  • Michelin not ruling out F1 return
  • McLaren must not 'lose' 2014 season too – Perez
  • Silverstone says 2013 British GP tickets NOT sold out
  • F1 to use new side impact system in '14
  • Pirelli bringing prototype tires to Silverstone
  • Bernie Ecclestone 'not sure what happiness is' New
  • Williams adopts special livery for 600th race New

No 'level playing field' in F1 for Marussia
(GMM) Marussia is not racing on a "level playing field", team chief executive Graeme Lowdon has told the Guardian newspaper.

It emerged earlier this year that F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone decided to limit the official prize money to only the top ten teams, explaining why Marussia was not offered a new commercial deal for 2013.

Additionally, an extra $10 million per year paid until now to the new teams Caterham, Marussia and the now-defunct HRT was cancelled.

Lowdon complained: "All we ask for is a level playing field. We are not asking for much."

He said the lack of income is compounded by F1 teams' current business model, with exorbitant spending translating into lap time.

"You can buy success, to some extent," said Lowdon. "Most teams, if they have money, will spend it and, if you spend everything you have and then find out you are not getting it, you have a problem.

"All teams should be treated equally. For whatever reason, that does not seem to be the case."

Mercedes not found guilty of rule breach – Lauda
(GMM) Mercedes was not found 'guilty' of breaking the rules, Niki Lauda insists.

The German team has been banned from the forthcoming young drivers test at Silverstone, and was officially reprimanded for running its 2013 car and race drivers in a secret test with Pirelli at Barcelona last month.

"There was no rule violation," triple world champion Lauda, the Brackley based team's chairman and a co-owner, told Austrian broadcaster ORF.

"We got a warning — not even a yellow card which could lead to a red card. We were excluded from the young driver test, which is a judgment that we can live with absolutely."

Lauda said the international tribunal made its verdict with the 'sport' – as opposed to the political intrigue that has filled the headlines in the past days – in mind.

"All the intrigue and the stories were not fair, because everything was done correctly in the sense of how we came to do this test," he insisted.

Lauda therefore slammed those who were heavily critical of Mercedes' behavior, like Red Bull who reportedly wanted a $100 million fine and hefty points deductions.

"Red Bull went with this story very aggressively," he said, "interpreting everything that could be interpreted into it.

"The paddock is a snake pit but the FIA tribunal is a court, which clearly decided that it was not a rule violation, but a different interpretation of various regulations."

However, Lauda said the outcome of the tire-dominated situation in F1 this year is that Pirelli is now unable to adjust its tires.

"They wanted to bring new tires to Montreal, and then they should have been in Silverstone, now they are not.

"So if it gets really hot at Silverstone, which can sometimes happen, the problem with the many pitstops will likely continue," he insisted.

"So I don't understand this rule," said Lauda, referring to the need for unanimity in the paddock before changes to the tires can be made immediately.

"If Pirelli says we want to have a different tire because it's better for us (Pirelli), for the cars, for everyone, then someone is always going to say no.

"So this rule is a disaster," he charged.

Illegal test threat only a joke – Marko
(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko has said he was only joking when he suggested Red Bull might boycott the young drivers test and use its race drivers at a private test.

On Monday, following a report in The Times newspaper, the Austrian was moved to deny Red Bull was so furious at Mercedes' light penalty in the 'tire-gate' hearing that it was considering also breaking the rules to its advantage.

"Of course we wouldn't break the rules," Marko told Sport Bild.

He told Germany's Welt newspaper that he had only made the suggestion of mirroring Mercedes' illegal test because the benefits might outweigh the light penalty.

"It was purely sarcastic," he insisted.

"I wanted to demonstrate that, with such a judgment (of the international tribunal), it might be worth the risk.

"We are frustrated that someone is found guilty on all counts and then sentenced to a punishment that they themselves proposed," added Marko.

Indeed, Welt correspondent Simon Pausch suggested that the only truly punished party in the entire affair is Mercedes test driver Sam Bird, who must now sit out next month's Silverstone session.

Michelin not ruling out F1 return
(GMM) Michelin has not denied rumors it might be shaping up to succeed F1's increasingly frustrated and out-of-favor official tire supplier Pirelli.

Indeed, some reports have even hinted that the French company's candidature is being championed by FIA president Jean Todt.

But Pascal Couasnon, Michelin's competition boss, said the marque would not consider returning to F1 simply to rescue the sport amid its Pirelli crisis.

Asked, however, if he can categorically rule out coming back to the pinnacle of motor sport, he told Speed Week: "No.

"We all live in the same world, and it is clear what formula one is in terms of visibility — in this area formula one is a long way ahead.

"Also when it comes to technology, this (F1) could be extremely interesting," added Couasnon.

However, he insisted that Michelin would not simply decide 'yes' and push ahead with an F1 foray.

"We would be willing to sit down and make some suggestions," said Couasnon, indicating that Michelin would like to change some of the rules.

Asked what he meant, he explained: "In terms of the type of tires in terms of visibility, and what is the right mix for the spectacle and the challenge for tire manufacturers.

"We might suggest, for example, to change the tire dimension for formula one. Today in F1 there are 13 inch wheels, but that doesn't interest us. 18 inches is a whole other thing," he said.

Couasnon also indicated that the current rules do not fit with F1's moves to become more 'green'.

"A tire that lasts only seven laps is difficult to relate to the idea of 'green'," he said.

"We would only be interested (in F1) if we are able to have smart regulations in terms of the tires.

"It is not enough to return as the 'savior' of formula one. If there is another way, then we could say 'why not?'" added Couasnon.

McLaren must not 'lose' 2014 season too – Perez
(GMM) McLaren must not 'lose' another whole season by bungling the development of its next car, new team driver Sergio Perez has warned.

The young Mexican joined the Woking based team this year, just as it launched the uncompetitive MP4-28.

Despite calls that it would be the most sensible solution, McLaren has so far refused to write off the current car in order to focus on the all-new rules of 2014.

Asked how far McLaren is from winning a race in 2013, Perez answered: "I think far away.

"We need to make major improvements; breakthroughs.

"We are currently one second per lap slower," he is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace.

"You don't win races when you're a second slower than everyone else."

Perez suggested the time might be coming when McLaren must draw a line under the MP4-28 and begin to ensure that 2014 is not similarly poor.

"We have to give our best for the next couple of months, but at some point we'll have to focus on the 2014 car," he said.

"We can't risk losing another year."

In terms of his development as an F1 driver, however, Perez admitted that 2013 has not been a totally 'lost' year.

"I think I'm happy," he said, "because I've learned a lot, and grown a lot as a driver.

"Even though I have half the points that I had last year, I'm in a better position as a driver.

"When I came here with such a different car I realized that, compared to Jenson Button, I was not good enough," he is quoted by EFE news agency.

"So I had to learn about that and work at it. Now I'm driving very differently to how I was at Sauber."

Silverstone says 2013 British GP tickets NOT sold out
Tickets for this weekend's British Grand Prix are still available with organizers confirming fans will be able to buy them on the gate.

Although Silverstone is anticipating a big crowd for Sunday's grand prix, fans wanting to attend but yet to buy tickets can still do so by turning up at the circuit on all three days.

"We will be selling tickets on the gate for those that want to turn up on the day," a Silverstone spokeswoman confirmed to Sky Sports Online.

"We are still anticipating a large crowd although it will not be as big a Sunday crowd as we had here in 2011 and 2012.

"For best prices we still encourage people to book directly with us as we are still selling through our call centre and on the web until noon on Thursday of this week."

Silverstone has broken its record attendance figures for race-day crowds in each of the last two seasons, with 127,000 spectators seeing Mark Webber win in 2012, but have experienced more sluggish sales ahead of this year's event.

A multitude of reasons have been put forward as the potential reasons for the drop in sales. These range from high ticket prices amid the difficult economic climate, fallout from last year's event when organizers were forced to urge thousands of ticket holders to stay away for qualifying after poor weather had flooded car parks, and the fact that a British driver has yet to win a race this season.

For more information on how to book British GP tickets visit Silverstone's website

F1 to use new side impact system in '14
Formula 1 teams will use a new side impact system in 2014 designed to improve protection in the case of an oblique angle of impact.

The new system, developed through collaboration between F1 teams and the FIA Institute and featured in the latest issue of the FIA's AUTO magazine, was voted through at a technical working group meeting last month.

Research into current side impact technology found it not to be as effective when angles of impact are not square, with Robert Kubica's massive accident during the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix used as a reference point for analysis.

Two different concepts were investigated, one using carbon tubes and the other using crushable carbon sandwich panels, with the former found to be more effective.

The final specification was produced by Red Bull based upon an initial design by Marussia.

"There were three teams that ultimately submitted impact devices that were subjected to a physical test and ours was deemed to be the best of the bunch so we pursued that device further," said Red Bull head of car engineering Paul Monaghan.

The structures, one of which will be fitted to each side of the car, are designed to progressively crush on impact. FIA Institute testing proved this design to be capable of absorbing close to 40kJ of energy even at acute angles of impact.

"The tube has a common specification but how teams put it into their cars is entirely their business," said Monaghan. "The static tests that will be undertaken on the monocoque will determine the strength of the mounts and make sure that they are sufficient to support the tube.

"After that, it's down to the teams as to how they integrate it and how they design their car around it."

He added that the new system is likely to save teams money on crash tests.

"One of the driving forces was to spare teams extra expense in the testing process," he said. "Assuming everybody has a monocoque which is strong enough and passes the static tests, then they've saved money as they're not doing an impact test."

Pirelli bringing prototype tires to Silverstone
Pirelli has announced that it will be bringing prototype tires for the teams to evaluate during Friday's practice sessions for the British Grand Prix, the same Hard compound that had been trialed at the Circuit de Catalunya earlier this season.

All 22 drivers will be given two sets of the compound, which will be returned following the conclusion of the second practice session at Silverstone. Currently, forecasts are predicting a weekend of dry weather conditions at the Northamptonshire venue.

"Silverstone, with its very high average speeds and flowing series of corners,
presents an extreme contrast to Canada three weeks ago – which was much more stop and start," Pirelli Motorsport Director Hembery explained ahead of the race.

"Like Canada, it’s a circuit that takes a lot out of the tires, but for very different reasons. We’ve brought the two hardest compounds to the British Grand Prix because of that, with a new bonding process connecting the tread to the steel belt, which is designed to eliminate the isolated delamination issues seen earlier this season. The construction of the tire won’t change, as the teams weren’t able to reach a unanimous agreement about this: however we do still have that possibility on stand-by should it be required in future.

"During practice at Silverstone we will have the same prototype Hard tire available that we tried out on Friday in Spain, aimed at even greater durability than our current Hard. This is in order to give the teams the chance to test this new compound on a different track to collect more data."

Hembery added that he is expecting to see three or four stop strategies this weekend.

Bernie Ecclestone 'not sure what happiness is'
Bernie Ecclestone has claimed he has no fear of going to jail and doesn't believe he has ever experienced happiness.

In a remarkably candid interview with The Times' Matthew Syed, the F1 ringmaster reveals that he "is not sure what happiness is", returned to work immediately after his recent marriage, remains utterly sanguine about the possibility of being sent to prison, and is unperturbed by the prospect of death – "I know I am going to die, there is no getting away from it, but I am not frightened by it. I just hope that I die of a heart attack. Preferably at my desk."

F1 purists, meanwhile, will be fascinated by a string of intriguing insights into the complexities of the working relationships at the highest echelons of the sport and Ecclestone's ubiquitous presence at the centre of the web he has so successfully weaved.

For instance, it is revealed that Ecclestone was personally informed by FIA President Jean Todt of Mercedes' reprimand from the International Tribunal an hour in advance of its announcement last week.

"That's great," Ecclestone is reported to have reassured the head of the governing body. "Congratulations on conducting a good process, Jean."

'As he hangs up, a call comes through from his office to say that Toto Wolff, the executive director of the Mercedes team is on the line. Bernie says he gave him the good news telling he had got away with a reprimand. Mr. Wolff then, according to Bernie, thanks him, tells him he is shocked and promises that dinner is on him at Silverstone'.

The mere suggestion that Mercedes' hierarchy were privately 'shocked' at the apparent leniency of the Tribunal will, of course, be seized upon by critics of last Friday's verdict.

Nonetheless, it is the intimate insights into Ecclestone's working life – an aspect of his life which actually appears to be all-consuming to the detriment of all others – that provide the most compelling passages.

"I am not sure what happiness is," he says midway through the interview. "What do those feelings mean? I have experienced satisfaction when I have planned something and it has come off. But happiness? I am not sure."

While Ecclestone's dedication to his business has helped amass an estimated fortune of £3bn, it has also come at a considerable cost in his inner life.

"That is why my ex [Slavica, Ecclestone's ex-wife of 23 years] left me," he says of his 'tunnel vision'. "She was not happy because I didn't take time off."

Two striking details are also revealed about his wedding last year to third wife Fabiana Flosi. The first is that Christian Horner, the Red Bull team boss, was a witness and one of only four attendees. The second is that Ecclestone went back to work the next day. "The wedding was just a job that needed to be done," he adds.

Yet Ecclestone will have no choice but to take time off from work if he is convicted of corruption by a German court. The 82-year-old has strenuously denied the charges but says he has no fears of going to prison.

"I get sent to jail I will have to deal with it," he says. "I don't think I will like it very much, but you have to get on with things."

'An hour ago,' writes Syed, 'I would have put this down as bravado. Now I can see that he is just being himself.' Sky Sports

Williams adopts special livery for 600th race
The Williams F1 Team is celebrating a landmark achievement this weekend at the British Grand Prix – reaching 600 races in Formula One.

Founded in 1977 by Frank Williams and Patrick Head, Williams has secured 297 podiums, 114 race wins and 16 World Championship titles over the past 36 years. Nine of these titles have been won in the Constructors’ Championship, with the remaining seven titles being Drivers’ Championships won with Alan Jones, Keke Rosberg, Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve. Williams has grown into a significant international business since its inception and its achievements have earned Founder and Team Principal Frank Williams a knighthood in the 1999 New Year’s Honors List to augment France’s highest decoration, the legion d’Honneur.

The team will publicly celebrate reaching 600 races at its home Grand Prix this weekend – a fitting place to celebrate as Silverstone witnessed the team’s first ever race win in 1979 and its 100th race win in 1997. The team will officially reach 600 starts in Formula One at the German Grand Prix the following weekend, and will mark this milestone by displaying the number 600 on the sidepod of both FW35s. The livery will also be emblazoned with the names of all 691 Williams employees who work across all divisions of the Williams Group as a tribute to their continued hard work and dedication.

Speaking about reaching 600 starts in Formula One, Founder and Team Principal Sir Frank Williams said; “For an independent team like Williams to reach 600 races at the pinnacle of motorsport is a remarkable achievement. 78 teams have come and gone or changed ownership since our foundation and our longevity is a testament to the thousands of people who have sacrificed so much to keep us here. It seems only right to mark this milestone at the home of British motorsport alongside our loyal British fans."

Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal and Commercial Director, added; “Williams has never been an organization to dwell on what has gone before, but this weekend we will be rightly celebrating our heritage and reflecting on some of our defining moments over the past 36 years. This is also an opportunity for us to take stock and look ahead to the future, making sure that we have the necessary pieces in place to make our next 600 races just as memorable."

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