Latest F1 news in brief – Saturday (Update)

UPDATE Update shown in red below.


  • Mercedes about to get hammered by the FIA

    F1 penalties await Mercedes at June 20 tribunal

  • Pirelli renews F1 quit threat
  • Boullier denies Grosjean's 'ghosts' reappearing
  • Brawn takes responsibility for Mercedes tire test
  • Bangkok F1 dreams over
  • Hembery withdraws from press conference
  • Alonso in the dark over Ferrari upgrades
  • Button fears failure will be costly New

F1 penalties await Mercedes at June 20 tribunal
(GMM) There is a growing consensus in the paddock that Mercedes will be penalized when the FIA's brand-new international tribunal meets to discuss the secret Barcelona test on June 20.

Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn, who entered F1 as a team lawyer, told Auto Motor und Sport: "A contract can't overrule a law."

She is referring to Pirelli's defense that its deal with the FIA allows tire testing with a representative car, therefore overriding the tightly-controlled test limits in the sporting regulations.

But Spanish sports newspaper Marca's correspondent Marco Canseco reported rumors a fine in the order of EUR 5 to 10 million will be imposed against Mercedes.

Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko told Blick: "A fine and a points deduction would be appropriate."

With the 'testgate' saga occupying the time and minds of most regular F1 journalists in the Montreal paddock, the details and rumors continue to flow.

Germany's Sport Bild claims earlier rumors that Mercedes has proof – an email – of Charlie Whiting's permission to use its 2013 car, was wrong.

That report said Whiting gave only conditional approval, "only if all the other teams are informed and agree".

Pirelli's lawyers advised Paul Hembery against attending the FIA's press conference at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Friday.

Undoubtedly, that's because many more questions remain outstanding.

One is why – if the test was not 'secret' – did Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg wear all-black helmets?

Mercedes' Toto Wolff said the idea was to "protect the public".

"We had no security and no press people on the spot and did not want fans storming the track," he is quoted by RTL.

"If we wanted to make it a secret, our people would not have worn team uniforms, and we would have used neutral trucks," he added.

According to Sport Bild, the 'secret' leaked out when the FIA's Whiting mentioned it to Grand Prix Drivers' Association directors Sebastian Vettel, Pedro de la Rosa and Jenson Button.

The lasting consequence of the Mercedes test is that the door might now be open to the return of in-season testing.

There are rumors Pirelli has demanded it if F1 wants the Italian supplier to stay beyond 2013, and last week FIA president Jean Todt ruled that Ferrari's Barcelona test with a 2011 test fell outside the sport's testing restrictions.

"So far, with our interpretation of the regulation, running with a 2011 car is not testing, as per the sporting regulations," said Ferrari's Stefano Domenicali.

Another implication could be Ross Brawn's job, after the Mercedes team boss admitted it was his decision to run the Barcelona test.

Told that rumors about his future have re-emerged, the Briton said in Canada: "I think there's been some rumors before and nothing's happened.

"I think we should wait and see what the tribunal find and then go from there."

Pirelli renews F1 quit threat
(GMM) Rumors that Pirelli will leave formula one at the end of the season are growing by the day.

Heavily criticized for its 2013 tires, and now embroiled in 'testgate', the Italian supplier is also unhappy with F1's tight testing limits and the obstacles to tire specification tweaks being erected by the teams.

Facing the wrath of the FIA's new international tribunal for accepting Pirelli's invitation of a private test at Barcelona recently, Mercedes' team boss Ross Brawn on Friday sounded uncertain Pirelli will still be in F1 in 2014.

"Discussions about testing for next year will certainly be beneficial for whoever the tire supplier is in the future," he said.

Italy's La Repubblica said Paul Hembery repeated Pirelli's recent quit threat on Friday, "if we are unable to do some tests with the new tires before the start of the season".

"We cannot continue to work in the dark," he added. "By September first we need to provide the specifications for next year, but we don't even know what the cars are going to be like.

"We believe that the (2014) tire should be wider, but we don't know by how much.

"This year, because of the lack of tests … we ended up with these cases of delamination, and then because we couldn't go onto a track we had to remedy it in the laboratory."

And, still, the teams refuse to agree to the new tires debuting at Silverstone late this month.

"We have heard that Lotus will not accept any changes," Hembery is quoted by Finland's MTV3.

"If that's right, we will use the same tires for the rest of the season. There may be some more four-stop races, but what can we do?"

Indeed, Hembery said Pirelli may have to revert to using glue during the construction of the unchanged 2013 tires to stop the tread separating from the carcass.

"Either we get the agreement of all the teams, which I think is unlikely," he said, "or we will have to have some other ideas."

He is quoted by Italy's La Repubblica: "We don't want to have another season like this one.

"Our (F1) contract is expiring. Will formula one be without tires? I don't know, but that's not our business.

"Who knows, maybe they'll find another supplier willing to work in the dark."

Even Pirelli president Marco Tronchetti Provera is being asked about the 'tire-gate' scandal, telling Tuttosport: "It doesn't concern us.

"We have followed the rules and we will continue to do so."

Hembery, on the other hand, sees the situation as the moment to set out Pirelli's conditions for staying beyond 2013.

"We will wait for the tribunal, but then there will be several elements that need to be discussed. We are talking about issues that have a clear impact on our business.

"This is not just a matter of waiting for the truth to come out," he is quoted by Canada's La Presse, "but also a question of doing things differently in the future."

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, meanwhile, took the opportunity to float a conspiracy theory.

"Does Jean Todt have a secret agenda, and wants Pirelli to get so angry that they leave voluntarily, opening the door to Michelin?" correspondent Michael Schmidt wonders.

Boullier denies Grosjean's 'ghosts' reappearing
(GMM) Eric Boullier has leapt to the defense of Romain Grosjean, who many in the paddock say is reverting to his 'nutcase' ways of 2012.

Frenchman Grosjean had an horror weekend in Monaco, crashing four times and incurring a ten-place grid penalty for this weekend's Canadian grand prix.

But Lotus team boss Boullier told France's RMC: "Nobody should say, just because of a tough weekend, that the ghosts of 2012 have reappeared.

"He made an excellent start to the season, correcting everything he was accused of last year," he added.

Boullier revealed he sat down with Grosjean for a detailed discussion about Monaco after the troubled weekend in the Principality.

"Our discussion was to reassure him," he said, amid earlier rumors Lotus might replace the 27-year-old with reigning GP2 champion Davide Valsecchi.

Brawn takes responsibility for Mercedes tire test
Mercedes boss Ross Brawn has revealed that it was his decision to go ahead with the controversial Pirelli test, as he played down talk his position could be under threat if his team is found guilty of breaking the rules.

The Brackley-based team is to face an FIA disciplinary hearing later this month to answer charges that it may have broken Formula 1 regulations by using its W04 2013 car during a Pirelli test at Barcelona after the Spanish Grand Prix.

Following rumors over the winter that Brawn's long term future at Mercedes was under threat after a management overhaul, there has again been talk that the German carmaker could elect to move him aside if the outfit is punished.

Speaking during an official FIA press conference in Montreal on Friday, Brawn denied that his job was on the line because of the case – even though it was his call to take part in the test.

"I think there have been some rumors before and nothing has happened," explained Brawn.

"It was my decision to do the testing, that is a fact, and let's see what happens at tribunal and we go from there."

Although Brawn is unwilling to divulge specifically why Mercedes was so convinced it was OK to test the 2013 car, he says he is eager for the facts of the case to come out so his outfit can clear its name.

"I wouldn't say it is very pleasant at the moment but again I am comfortable and confident that once when we get to the tribunal the facts will become apparent and people can make a better judgment."

When asked if he could shed any further light on what notification he had from the FIA regarding the use of a 2013 car, Brawn said: "I think we would not have done the Pirelli test unless we believed we could do the Pirelli test. When we get to the tribunal you will have your answers."

Brawn also made it clear that Mercedes did not believe the Pirelli test was a 'secret' one – even though information about it taking place was not openly shared with other teams and only came to light during a Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) meeting with the FIA.

"There has been an unfortunate branding of this being a secret test, but it was a private test," explained Brawn.

"To do three days in Barcelona – and 1000km of running – and to think that people would not become aware of it is naive. It was a private test not a secret one."

He added: "Sporting integrity is important to us, important to Mercedes and, when the facts become apparent, people can make a better judgment of the situation." Yahoo Eurosport

Bangkok F1 dreams over
Formula 1 established that the maximum list of GPs should not exceed 20 for a calendar year, but the plans to expand the sport footprint by adding new markets continues. One of the countries interested in landing an F1 race was Thailand through its capital city of Bangkok, but apparently that wish took a turn for bad.

Bangkok's chances of hosting a lucrative Formula One race have faded after planners banned car racing from the city's historic quarter, officials said Friday.

The city was touted to host a landmark F1 night race in 2015, with a track mooted for the tourist area around the Grand Palace and a number of major Buddhist temples.

But Bangkok's Metropolitan Authority has stymied the proposal with a law banning "car racing" from the zone.

"The law came into effect on May 16 prohibiting car racing in inner Bangkok because that area is a conservation for culture and arts," Kriangphon Pattanarat, director general of City Planning Department told AFP.

The law has been under discussion for two or three years, he said, adding it was not specifically targeted at F1.

An F1 race would likely have brought tens of thousands of wealthy tourists to the capital as the sport looks to deepen its influence in Asia.

Opposition to the proposed race had been voiced by local residents around the potential track who said the event would have damaged their incomes and caused more traffic in the already gridlocked city.

Minister of Tourism and Sports Somsak Phurisisak confirmed the law had been enacted and car racing can no longer take place in the city's historic zone.

"Whatever is illegal we will not do," he said.

"I have been told yesterday on the new city planning law," he added, voicing hopes Formula One's governing body would consider laying on a race in another Thai province. F1Plus

Hembery withdraws from press conf
Paul Hembery did not face the media in Montreal on Friday afternoon as he withdrew on advice from Pirelli's legal team.

Hembery was scheduled to attend Friday's FIA press conference for the Canadian GP along with Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn.

The duo were set to the focal point in light of the controversial post-Spanish Grand Prix test.

Mercedes spent three days testing in private with Pirelli, during which they ran a W04.

The two parties will face an FIA International Tribunal over the matter, prompting Hembery to pull out of Friday's press conference.

According to Autosport, "spokesperson for the Italian tire company confirmed that lawyers had advised Hembery not to take part."

Alonso in the dark over Ferrari upgrades
Fernando Alonso says Ferrari is yet to determine whether or not its upgrades for the Canadian Grand Prix have been successful, with mixed weather conditions preventing the Spaniard from completing his planned program in Montreal on Friday.

Despite topping the opening day of practice at the venue, Alonso has refused to make any predictions for the remainder of the weekend, insisting that he and team-mate Felipe Massa must focus solely on learning more about the update package.

"It was an untypical Friday, affected by extremely changeable weather," said Alonso. "We didn’t manage to complete our program as the track was wet in the morning and so only tomorrow will we find out if the updates we tested produce a real performance evolution. It was very important that we try them just as it was also important to try the new Pirelli tires.

"Felipe and I made different choices for the long runs and this is another reason why we will have to wait for the outcome of qualifying to understand more. The only certainty is that we must ensure we make the right decisions, because today we saw how getting a clean lap depends a lot on the time you make the decision and what track conditions are like at that moment."

Alonso added that he is expecting a "very complicated" race weekend to unfold in Montreal, with changeable weather conditions expected on both Saturday and Sunday.

"We can expect a very complicated weekend, because the weather is due to remain changeable right up to Sunday and judging the grip level will be difficult, both in qualifying and in the race," summed up Alonso, who won the race for Renault in 2006.

Button fears failure will be costly
Jenson Button fears that his gearbox problem in Friday practice in Canada could prove costly given that it interrupted his planned long run.

A gearbox issued forced Button to park in the McLaren garage near the end of the day's only fully-dry session, curtailing his program and leaving the team short on data.

"I think the pace today was OK, we were running different downforce levels in the second session which was interesting, it's just whether we're brave enough to attempt something like that with having only done a couple of laps on high fuel loads," Button said.

"The long-run information is really what I needed on my car, so it's going to be difficult to know what to do with the balance and set-up for tomorrow."

Button said the shortened running also had an impact on McLaren's development program for Canada.

"We were trying something in that session which was quite interesting but we didn't get the information while running on high fuel," he said.

"I did three laps. It's very difficult to go into a race and you'd be very brave to put that part on the car, if you've only done three laps on it."

He admitted last year's Canadian GP – in which he slumped to the lower end of the midfield and was lapped by victorious teammate Lewis Hamilton while struggling with tire performance, is an experience he fears repeating.

"We had that issue last year when we had a gearbox problem and had a disastrous race because of rear graining," said Button.

"We needed to be reliable today, but we're running different set-ups on both cars so at least we got some information." Yahoo Eurosport

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