Latest F1 news in brief – Sunday (2nd Update)

UPDATE #2 2nd update shown in red below.

06/09/13 Updates shown in red below.

Ross Brawn's job safe says Wolff


  • New York race 'definitely' on – promoter
  • Wolff denies Mercedes to sacrifice Brawn
  • Silverstone tire debut still possible – Marko
  • Massa criticizes F1 medical response after Monaco crash
  • Perez's former Sauber boss defends under-fire Mexican
  • Alonso pinning hopes on dry race day
  • Video: Vettel's pole lap in Montreal
  • Video: Ferrari Montreal track guide
  • Q and A with Lotus F1 trackside operations director Alan Permane
  • Long season, short break for 2014?
  • 'Test-gate' scandal darkens Rosberg's career high New

New York race 'definitely' on – promoter
(GMM) A formula one race amid the Manhattan skyline is "definitely" on for 2014, promoter Leo Hindery said.

The Wall Street Journal said Hindery's positive outlook was his first public comments in months, after the 2013 New Jersey street race had to be delayed.

Hindery added that all the agreements with F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone are now in place, not just for June 2014 but "for the next 15 years".

He said his organization has been "spending like a sailor on leave" to make it happen.

Wolff denies Mercedes to sacrifice Brawn
(GMM) Toto Wolff has played down rumors Ross Brawn is shaping up as the sacrificial lamb in the Mercedes 'testgate' scandal.

The German marque is touted to face the FIA's new international tribunal on June 20, but team boss Brawn seems to have paved the way for taking all the blame.

"It was my decision to do the test, that's a fact", Briton Brawn, whose long-term future at the Brackley based team was already under a cloud, said in Canada.

Asked if the team's new guard, Niki Lauda and Wolff, were informed of that highly contentious decision before the test took place, Brawn insisted: "That's not something I want to comment on."

So the rumor is that Brawn will depart off the back of the 'test-gate' saga, with his undoubted successor Paddy Lowe now already at work at Brackley.

"What I don't understand is that Paddy Lowe is committed to being team boss," former F1 team owner and principal Eddie Jordan told German Sky television in Montreal.

"Can you have two team bosses? No," he answered himself.

Mercedes' new co-owner and director Wolff, however, played down the speculation Brawn will be sacrificed.

"We are a team, we are together, and the blame is not going to be pushed onto one individual, rather we support each other and we support Ross," he told Sky.

Germany's Bild am Sonntag reports that Lauda sat down with Red Bull's Christian Horner and Dr Helmut Marko earlier this week to try to calm their anger, but to no avail.

McLaren, however, has been almost silent.

"I expect (it's) because they run a Mercedes engine and depend on the goodwill of Mercedes next season," Marko told F1's official website.

Sauber founder Peter Sauber, however, is not afraid to speak his mind.

"For me, it's incomprehensible that this test took place," he told Spiegel.

Triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart agrees, telling Sun newspaper: "If there is a regulation that does not allow testing to take place, then that surely is black and white."

Ferrari joined Red Bull in the original protest, but team boss Stefano Domenicali has been less critical than the energy drink-owned team.

"I'm not angry," the Italian told Bild, "but I was very surprised.

"I don't want to participate in all the politics though," said Domenicali. "I don't want to talk about tires, which is boring to the fans.

"They want fantastic drivers, and excellent racing and action. Not week-long discussions about section 22.2 in the regulations. And it's the same for me."

Silverstone tire debut still possible – Marko
(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko is not ruling out Pirelli's tire tweak being introduced for racing at the British grand prix late this month.

The tire, featuring modifications to the construction to prevent the sort of rear delamination problems seen in 2013, was tested by teams in Friday practice in Canada.

Pirelli wants the tire to be debuted properly at Silverstone, but that would require the unanimous consent of all the teams — and given the divisions up and down pitlane, Paul Hembery acknowledges that scenario is "very unlikely".

But Dr Helmut Marko, whose Red Bull team has been pushing hard for tire changes, is not ruling it out.

"I think everyone knows about the problems with the current tire," he told German broadcaster Sky.

"I think if at Silverstone it doesn't rain on Friday for the testing (of the tire in practice), I believe there can be the consent of all the teams."

Indeed, while Force India was previously refusing to budge on the tire change issue, sporting director Otmar Szafnauer now says he would withdraw the team's opposition so long as the tire does not change the behavior of the car.

Lotus, however, is the newest team refusing to budge.

World champion Sebastian Vettel has likened the toing and froing to a Punch and Judy show.

"We heard that the tires will be changed for this weekend, but then three days later we hear that this will not be the case and they will arrive in Silverstone," he told F1's official website.

"It all sounds a bit half-baked and I wonder why there is not clarity about the state of the situation."

Pirelli's Hembery said the Italian marque will make its decision about how to proceed on Monday.

Meanwhile Stefano Domenicali, the Ferrari team boss, warned Vettel to ease his rhetoric about the questionable safety of the existing Pirelli tires.

"That's not true, I don't share his opinion," the Italian told Bild newspaper.

"We must be careful. Everyone in formula one, all the teams, wanted Pirelli to make softer tires to create more pitstops. They did that.

"I don't see very many tire manufacturers wanting to come into F1," he warned.

Massa criticizes F1 medical response after Monaco crash
(GMM) Felipe Massa criticized the reaction to his Monaco grand prix crash during the drivers' briefing ahead of this weekend's race in Canada.

That is the claim of Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, reporting that the Ferrari driver was disappointed in the aftermath of his Ste-Devote crash that left him with a sore neck in the wake of an earlier, near-identical high speed incident.

"It took 13 minutes for the ambulance to get there," the Brazilian is quoted as saying.

"Then I had to climb over fences to get to it."

The frustrated 32-year-old was speaking in Montreal on Saturday, where he had yet another high speed crash, his third in the space of two weeks.

"It's like a movie plot," Massa groaned to Brazil's Totalrace. O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper quoted him as saying the crash hurt "not physically, but psychologically".

"I'm very upset about what happened and I got out of the car very angry because I don't remember anything like this happening in my career — three accidents so close to one another," he said.

His second crash in Monaco was caused by a suspension failure, but on Saturday Massa accepted the blame for his latest incident.

"My time was not good and so I was risking everything and ended up risking too much and braking on the white line," he said. "It was all or nothing."

Reportedly pushing for a new contract for 2014, Massa denied that his recent crashes have hurt his standing with Ferrari.

"We are a team," he insisted. "We win and lose together.

"There are situations where it is not the drivers' fault, maybe it's the car or the strategy, but it's all teamwork," said Massa.

Perez's former Sauber boss defends under-fire Mexican
(GMM) Sergio Perez's former boss has leapt to the defense of the Mexican, following bitter criticism of his increasingly aggressive racing.

After Monaco, where the McLaren driver clashed with title contender Kimi Raikkonen who admitted his desire to punch Perez, many criticized the 23-year-old, but McLaren predictably backed him.

But also now defending Perez in the wake of the criticism is Monisha Kaltenborn, whose Sauber team brought Perez and his sponsor Telmex into the sport in 2011.

"Everybody knows what kind of driver Sergio is," Kaltenborn is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace.

"You have to accept his aggression and also know that he is not yet so experienced, so there is a necessary time for that.

"Maybe in two years something will have changed, but I don't see a problem with respect to his aggressiveness," she added.

"In the last race, two of his moves were successful and only one went wrong. And it's attitudes like these that make races exciting."

Kaltenborn also said Perez does not seem very different to many drivers who went on to become great.

"I'm not surprised with his boldness," she said, "because that's how he is.

"If you think about the great drivers, they all went through it — making mistakes and learning. It's the same with him; he's very young."

Some have even compared Perez to the legend Gilles Villeneuve, but the exciting Canadian's son Jacques – the 1997 world champion – does not agree.

"It's true about the aggression," Villeneuve told Spain's AS newspaper, "but my father was cleaner, and had more respect."

However, Villeneuve thinks it is Raikkonen who should have been punished for the Monaco accident.

"He clearly closed the door because he knew what was going to happen (be overtaken)," said the French-Canadian.

"But of course everyone likes him (Raikkonen), everything is ok," Villeneuve added.

"He says something and everyone in the press room laughs, even if it's bad. I don't understand that."

Alonso pinning hopes on dry race day
Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso is pinning his hopes on the Canadian Grand Prix being held amid dry weather conditions, with the Spaniard unable to finish higher than sixth in a rain-hit qualifying session at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve on Saturday.

With championship leader Sebastian Vettel claiming his second pole position of the season at the Montreal venue, Alonso had to settle for the final spot on the third row of the grid, posting a time over one second slower than his Red Bull rival.

"We were aware how difficult this weekend could be, because with such changeable weather, the track can change from one lap to the next and right to the end, you can never be sure what the right tires to use are," said Alonso. "I am reasonably happy to have salvaged what I could from a qualifying that featured so many unknowns.

"Starting from sixth here isn’t bad, because you can overtake. I’m definitely hoping for a race with no rain, because in the dry, looking at yesterday’s long runs, we can be more competitive and quicker than some of the cars that start in front of us tomorrow."

Alonso added that despite a third row starting position, his aim remains to finish ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen and hone in on the title lead.

"The aim is still to make up ground on our closest competitors: with Raikkonen we have a slightly better chance, as he is starting behind me, while it’s a tougher task with Vettel," he said. "I won’t take anything for granted, as here, especially if it rains, anything can happen and it can be the case that strategy counts for less than luck."

Massa is due to start the Grand Prix from 16th position after his Q2 crash at Turn 3.

Video: Vettel's pole lap in Montreal
Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel claimed pole position for the 2013 Canadian Grand Prix with a time of 1:25.425.

Video: Ferrari Montreal track guide

Lotus F1 trackside operations director Alan Permane reflects on a difficult Canadian Grand Prix qualifying session for the Enstone team.
How was qualifying for the team?

Alan Permane:
It was a disappointing day for us. Romain couldn't get a good lap in the first session meaning he will start from the back of the grid. Kimi struggled too and will start from ninth, which is not where we want to be. The E21 clearly wasn't working well in the wet conditions experienced today. We opted for a more dry weather focused set-up which, although it hindered us today, should benefit us tomorrow if the weather does stay dry. We certainly weren't expecting the level of water that we did see on the track during qualifying.

How difficult was it on the pitwall through qualifying?

Alan Permane:
It wasn't that difficult as it was consistently wet rather than being wet and dry giving us a decision to make on which tires to run. We went for the first lap of Q1 with both cars using the super soft dry tire and it was immediately clear that it was too wet for slicks. After that, timing and finding space on track became the key considerations. Predicting when there might be yellow flags, unfortunately, is a very difficult science.

What are the predictions for tomorrow's weather and strategy?

Alan Permane:
Certainly we expect it to be warmer than today and that should help us. There's still a chance of rain, but the track and air temperatures should be of benefit. If it is dry then we – like all of the teams – will be learning the slick tire performance as we go along as there has been only limited running on them so far this weekend. That said, I think it could be a race of 1-2 pit stops rather than a 3-4 stop strategy.

Long season, short break for 2014?
The F1 off-season could be compressed to just a matter of weeks by the addition of extra races and pre-season testing ahead of the 2014 campaign. Not only could the 2014 F1 season be the longest on record, but the break between the current campaign and embarking on next year could be among the shortest ever too.

With both Russia and the second US race both scheduled for addition to the calendar next season, the number of rounds would swell to 21 – providing that none of the existing events asks to be excused – while the introduction of a new engine formula for 2014 looks set to bring not only extra test sessions, but also an earlier start to proceedings, with pre-season launches potentially taking place around Christmas and New Year.

There is talk of a fourth pre-season test being added to the schedule, pushing the opening session into late January and potentially taking the teams to a warm-weather destination for their final preparations ahead of the opening race. Talk in the Montreal paddock – bolstered by representatives from Sakhir – is that Bahrain will indeed replace Australia as the curtain-raiser, with the final test taking place at the same venue in order to make logistical planning easier.

The final calendar has yet to be fully approved by the World Motor Sport Council, and probably won't be until the end of the year, but the addition of Sochi and New Jersey are expected to take the number of stops to a record-breaking 21 provided both venues are finished and approved by the FIA. Bahrain is firm favorite to open the season, possibly on the first weekend of March, rather than the second or third, while it remains to be seen whether Malaysia holds on to round two as a stopping off point on the way to Melbourne. The last time Australia lost the opening round, due to a clash with the World Swimming Championships, it slotted in as the third event.

New Jersey, which is reportedly making good progress following the recent additions to its management team, is expected to form a double-header with Canada, while Sochi should drop in later in the season, once the site has been turned from a Winter Olympic venue into a racetrack.

"We are hearing the start of next season will be the Bahrain GP, not the Australian GP," Sky Sports Ted Kravitz has confirmed, "And that will be after we have the final pre-season test in Bahrain as well to get the hot conditions that next year's engines will need.

"We are hearing that the Bahrain GP might have a provisional date of March 2, which is at least a week earlier than we are used to.

"It also looks as if the first test next year will be brought forward to January. Obviously we have an expanded season next year of what we think will be 21 races with the Russian GP in Sochi and the New Jersey GP, so it is logical that next year's calendar is going to expand."

Teams are also currently negotiating the return of in-season testing, with potentially as many as nine days available for development purposes, making for a very busy – and expensive – year.

'Test-gate' scandal darkens Rosberg's career high
(GMM) Amid the most successful period in his formula one career to date, the frustration has often shown on Nico Rosberg's face.

As journalists dutifully asked a few sporting-related questions in Canada, SID news agency revealed that the German 'rolled his eyes' and put on a 'tortured smile' as he asked the press men: "Can we come to the tire issue now, please?"

He was sarcastically referring to 'testgate', a scandal of typical F1 proportions that is questioning Mercedes' fairness and integrity just as Rosberg delivered a hat-trick of poles and a lights-to-flag Monaco victory.

Team director Toto Wolff, however, insists Rosberg is "not frustrated because he's too professional" and it is, after all, "a management issue".

Rosberg agreed, asking rhetorically: "How important is it, what others say or write?"

Wolff insisted Rosberg is telling the truth on that score.

"He is a disciplined thinker, blessed with great talent. He can always extract his very best performance, because he can put aside everything else and focus only on the sporting side," he said.

Wolff, meanwhile, is more open about his own frustration.

"Of course," he admitted. "For whatever reason, people are always looking for the controversy.

"Maybe that's even more unpleasant for us because we are now more competitive — that the controversy is coming across in the media as more important than the drivers' performance."

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