Latest F1 news in brief – Monday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Paddy Lowe cleared to join Mercedes

    Pirelli's Canada changes now under cloud

  • Bahrain stance triggered F1 doctor's exit
  • F1 owner CVC votes to keep Ecclestone despite charges
  • Bernie Ecclestone discloses F1 backing
  • F1 Singapore IPO On Track Despite Legal Issues Of CEO Bernie Ecclestone
  • Losing customer McLaren 'not ideal' – Wolff
  • Alonso 'deserves' 2012 and 2013 titles – di Resta
  • Paddy Lowe to join MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS on June 3rd
  • Lowe arrives at Mercedes, Brawn stays boss New
  • Pirelli confirms Canada changes 'less' than announced New

Pirelli's Canada changes now under cloud
(GMM) Pirelli's planned changes to its controversial tires for Canada and beyond are now under a dark cloud.

Media reports, including by Marco Canseco in the Spanish sports daily Marca, say the FIA has hit back by insisting that mid-season changes are only allowed on the grounds of safety.

But Pirelli's Paul Hembery had announced last week that the planned changes, for Montreal and beyond, are because "the number of pitstops was too high" so far in 2013.

The FIA's opposite view is enshrined in the technical regulations.

At the very same time, Hembery hit out at teams like Red Bull and Mercedes, who have "used the media" to pile the pressure on Pirelli.

"What has changed compared to the past two years," he told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, "is that people have used the media in order to get a benefit for themselves.

"The people who criticize make the headlines," Hembery added, "but we have been contacted by many people who are asking us not to give in to the pressure."

So after Red Bull and Mercedes complained loudly about the changes, other teams like Lotus, Ferrari and Force India – whose cars work well with the existing 2013 tires – are hitting back just as strongly.

Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez told Welt am Sonntag newspaper that it is "stupid" that changes can be made "that punish the clever and creative teams" whilst "rewarding the losers".

"Where is the sport in that?" he quipped.

"I don't know exactly why Pirelli is making changes," Force India driver Paul di Resta is quoted by Speed Week, "but I've been told that everything is fair.

"I suspect that the changes will hurt us, Ferrari and Lotus a little bit more than the others.

"We invested a lot of time in the winter to get these tires working, so of course these changes are a bit frustrating," he added.

Di Resta said he doubts Pirelli can justify the changes on the grounds of safety, as is required by the regulations.

"I don't think they (the tires) are dangerous," he insisted. "People have been getting excited about the last race, but we had no problems in the race.

"I think most of the tire failures are down to driving over debris."

Bahrain stance triggered F1 doctor's exit
(GMM) Gary Hartstein, F1's former doctor, claims his stance about the controversial Bahrain grand prix led to his departure.

American Hartstein, who was hand-picked by the late Professor Sid Watkins to replace him as the sport's chief doctor last decade, lost his job at the end of last season when FIA president Jean Todt chose not to renew his contract.

"I think my dismissal was partly for personal reasons," he is quoted by Speed Week.

"Some people just didn't like my ways.

"The decision was made before the (2012) Bahrain grand prix, because I wanted to set up a central emergency number; and I was proposing it not only for Bahrain," said Hartstein.

"Someone said it was a good idea and that they spoke with the president (Todt) about it. Half an hour later, the president was running towards me, ranting 'Bahrain is not a war zone!'

"I think that was the decisive factor for my release."

F1 owner CVC votes to keep Ecclestone despite charges
(GMM) F1's owners have voted to keep Bernie Ecclestone at the helm of the sport, despite reports German prosecutors have decided to charge him with bribery.

The bribery case surrounds a payment of $44 million to now-jailed German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky some years ago, and suspicions the 82-year-old Briton wanted CVC to buy the sport's commercial rights because he would be retained as chief executive.

Ecclestone, however, argues that Gribkowsky simply blackmailed him, threatening to reveal potentially costly secrets about his tax affairs.

And he told the Sunday Times newspaper that, at the end of last week in Geneva, CVC chiefs met to discuss the ramifications of the German charges.

"Everyone voted to support me staying on and running the business," said Ecclestone.

"The board agrees I should stay unless I'm convicted."

He dismissed the German charges as "a complete load of rubbish".

Ecclestone, however, told F1 business journalist Christian Sylt that, despite not actually receiving the charge sheet yet, he does expect the German prosecutors to proceed.

"I hope they don't but I think they will," he said in the Guardian. "Then we will see what happens. That doesn't mean to say there will be a trial."

Indeed, Reuters news agency reported several days ago that prosecutors could settle the case with Ecclestone in exchange for a "non-penal payment".

Bernie Ecclestone discloses F1 backing
Bernie Ecclestone, the head of Formula One, has disclosed that the board of the motor racing group has given him its full support amid claims the F1 commercial rights holder is facing bribery charges in Germany. Bernie Ecclestone, the head of Formula One, has disclosed that the board of the motor racing group has given him its full support amid claims the F1 commercial rights holder is facing bribery charges in Germany.
The F1 boss also refuted any claims of wrongdoing and dismissed the German charges.

“I still don’t know what the German prosecutors think," Mr. Ecclestone said. “I wish I was guilty – it would be much easier. The charges are a complete load of rubbish."

The investigation by German authorities has also prompted HM Revenue & Customs to examine Mr. Ecclestone’s tax affairs. The FI boss has denied any irregularities, saying: “I’m British. I pay my taxes and, in the end, the truth will come out."

Buyout firm CVC is preparing a stock market flotation of the motor racing business in Singapore that could value F1 at up to $12bn. An initial public offering of the company was delayed last year by the market volatility caused by Europe’s debt crisis but it is thought the flotation could still take place within the next 12 months.

The impending IPO has sparked speculation about who will succeed Mr. Ecclestone, 82, but he has dismissed the rumor that J Sainsbury chief executive Justin King would take his place in the driving seat at F1.

Mr. Ecclestone said he had had no contact with the FTSE 100 supermarket boss. “I’ve never met him and there’s no way I’m going to," he said. “I’ll work till I drop and then they can bury me in my bus."

Mr. King, whose son Jordan is a driver in the F3 racing series, last month denied reports he was quitting the supermarket group and that a headhunter had been contacted to find a successor. The Telegraph

F1 Singapore IPO On Track Despite Legal Issues Of CEO Bernie Ecclestone
A source close to private equity firm CVC Capital said that the company is targeting a $12B market capitalization for F1 "in its planned flotation on the Singapore stock exchange," according to Sylt & Reid of the London Guardian.

The initial public offering (IPO) of F1 "is on track to take place in the next 12 months" despite its CEO Bernie Ecclestone "being engulfed in a legal battle over payment of an alleged bribe."

The source said CVC "isn't planning to sell more stakes before the float. If you look at Discovery Channel and other comparables, the market is up 25% since we tried to IPO last year so just mathematically applying the new pricing for the company, it is worth 25% more. I certainly think you could shoot for $12B."

However, "the road ahead is not clear." Ecclestone "is embroiled in multiple lawsuits" relating to a $44M payment made by him and his family trust to German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky shortly after CVC bought F1 in '06. Guardian

Losing customer McLaren 'not ideal' – Wolff
(GMM) Toto Wolff has admitted Mercedes is disappointed with long time partner McLaren's move to link up with works Honda engines in 2015.

Formerly McLaren's works engine partner, Mercedes set up its own F1 team a few years ago, leaving the great British outfit with the prospect of a customer engine bill.

But that will end after 2014, when Japanese carmaker Honda returns to F1 after a six-year absence, rekindling its famous and highly-successful partnership of the 80s and 90s with McLaren.

Mercedes, albeit focused on its Brackley based works squad but still supplying customers McLaren and Force India, admitted it is disappointed to lose a great partner.

"It is of course not ideal when you lose a customer, especially when it's someone like McLaren, who have been with Mercedes for so long and celebrated great successes with us," motor sport director Wolff told Speed Week.

"So of course it's unpleasant, but it's a decision they've taken. We also look forward to having another competitor in F1 — Honda is a top brand and, as the saying goes, competition is good for business," the Austrian added.

Wolff said Mercedes is not worried its only other current customer engine partner, Force India, could also jump ship to Honda.

"No, because everyone has only a limited ability to supply customer teams.

"For us, it's somewhere between three and four teams, and we're confident that in the coming years we will have at least three (Mercedes-powered) teams in formula one," he said.

That implies that Mercedes is now looking for a replacement for McLaren beyond 2014.

Alonso 'deserves' 2012 and 2013 titles – di Resta
(GMM) Paul di Resta has tipped Fernando Alonso to win this year's world championship.

In fact, the Scot – who drives for Force India – thinks Spaniard Alonso should actually be crowned a four-time title winner at the end of the 2013 season.

"He should have been champion last year," the 27-year-old, referring to Ferrari's Alonso, told Speed Week. "For me, Alonso is the champion of 2012."

There is some history between di Resta and reigning triple world champion Sebastian Vettel, who is 17 points ahead of Alonso in the 2013 drivers' standings.

Di Resta is actually a year older than Vettel, but it was the German who won the race of the former F3 teammates to get to formula one.

Vettel, although beaten to the F3 euroseries title by di Resta, got into F1 sooner than di Resta thanks to Red Bull's strong backing,

"Looking at it they were luckier than I am," di Resta, also referring to Lewis Hamilton, said some years ago. "He (Vettel) shouldn't have gotten there before me."

So, in 2013, di Resta is tipping Alonso.

"He had his problems in Malaysia and Bahrain," he said, "but Ferrari looks very strong.

"I think he deserves the championship."

Paddy Lowe to join MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS on June 3rd
Agreement has been reached between MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes for Paddy Lowe to join the team on 3 June.

Paddy will strengthen MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS in the role of Executive Director (Technical) and will work closely with Team Principal, Ross Brawn; Executive Director (Business), Toto Wolff; and the team's senior technical management. As Team Principal, Ross Brawn will retain overall responsibility for technical and sporting matters.

Paddy Lowe commented: "I am excited to become part of a highly talented and capable technical organization. The team has already produced probably the fastest car of the 2013 season while the technical challenges of the new regulations for 2014 will give us the opportunity to maximize the synergies available to a works manufacturer. That is a challenge I am relishing. I have worked closely with Mercedes-Benz for almost 20 years and deeply admire the company's phenomenal commitment to Formula One. I look forward to much success together in the years ahead."

Team Principal Ross Brawn commented: "I am delighted to welcome Paddy to the team and to begin working together. He has an excellent record of success in the sport and would be an asset to any of our rivals in the pit lane. It is no secret that every team is facing a significant balancing act between this year and next. But it is perhaps less obvious that we will also see major changes for the 2015 and 2016 seasons, as development progresses with the new generation of car design and Power Unit. To deliver in these circumstances, a successful team needs strength in depth. Paddy's arrival will further strengthen our organization and puts us in a strong position for the future."

Lowe arrives at Mercedes, Brawn stays boss
(GMM) Mercedes on Monday finally announced the impending arrival of Paddy Lowe, who has been serving 'gardening leave' at McLaren.

The German squad announced that the former McLaren technical director will start work as executive director (technical) on June 3, serving alongside continuing team principal Ross Brawn.

In a media statement, new shareholder Toto Wolff's role was clarified as executive director (business), with Brawn retaining "overall responsibility for technical and sporting matters".

"Paddy's arrival will further strengthen our organization and puts us in a strong position for the future," said Brawn.

Pirelli confirms Canada changes 'less' than announced
(GMM) Pirelli on Monday essentially confirmed reports the F1 supplier will now make only minimal changes to its tires for Canada next month and beyond.

After the waves of controversy and criticism following the Spanish grand prix, the Italian marque announced it would be making structural and compound changes for Montreal that should reduce the number of pitstops per race.

But, after Lotus and Ferrari sided strongly against Red Bull and Mercedes, the FIA reportedly also hit back behind the scenes, confirming that the rules say changes like that can only be made on grounds of safety, unless the teams unanimously agree.

So Pirelli on Monday is backtracking, with motor sport boss Paul Hembery telling Reuters F1's official supplier only wants to make changes "with minimal disturbance to the sporting equity".

"The changes required would appear less than first envisaged," he added.

Hembery said some changes will still be made for Canada, but only to fix the problem of delaminating tires.

"We're trying to find something that is sportingly equitable amongst the vast majority that allows us to rid ourselves of the tread (problem)," he confirmed.

"We're hopeful we can do that without making such a change that would radically alter the work of any team so far."

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