F1 news in brief – Friday (Update)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

Ecclestone is one smooth operator


  • Teams can't afford 2014 V6 engines – report
  • McLaren plays down Mercedes IP fears for 2014
  • Lauda hails Pirelli's tire change
  • No news on Ecclestone charges until June
  • Bernie Ecclestone: "I am innocent"
  • Ferrari joins Lotus in tire tweak criticism New

Teams can't afford 2014 V6 engines – report
(GMM) Most formula one teams cannot afford to pay the prices quoted by engine manufacturers for next year's all-new turbo V6 engines.

That is the claim of the German newspaper Bild, insisting that grandees Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes aside, the other seven teams are balking at the price demanded by F1's three V6 suppliers Renault, Ferrari and Mercedes.

"Even in Barcelona," said Bild correspondent Helmut Uhl, "you could feel the strange, invisible tension."

He wrote that, world champions and 'works' partner Red Bull aside, 2014 customers Williams, Caterham, Toro Rosso and even the highly competitive Lotus cannot afford to pay French supplier Renault the fee of EUR 23 million per season.

Mercedes, supplying McLaren and Force India, has reportedly lowered its price to between 18 and 20 million, while Sauber and Marussia are being asked for 15m by Ferrari.

McLaren plays down Mercedes IP fears for 2014
(GMM) McLaren has played down suggestions Honda will unfairly benefit from the great British team's continuing collaboration with Mercedes next year.

It was announced in Tokyo on Thursday that McLaren will be powered by 'works' turbo V6 engines provided by Honda from 2015.

But, before then, McLaren will run with customer Mercedes power next year, as the sport switches to the all-new and radical engine regulations.

The situation has raised some red flags: will the development of Honda's new V6 benefit from the insight gained from the ongoing McLaren-Mercedes pairing?

Is Mercedes' intellectual property in danger?

"We have discussed that at length with Mercedes," said McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale, "and we have made sure Mercedes has all the comfort it needs.

"It is not in Honda's interests either," he insisted. "Honda is very honorable as an organization, as is Mercedes.

"McLaren will operate in a scrupulous way between both of those two organizations."

Neale said it is in both Mercedes and McLaren's interests to ensure the 2014 collaboration – prior to the shift to Honda – is successful.

"We need each other to be successful, so we have a confidence in our partnership," he added.

"We recognize there is mutual dependency. Although we are competitive on circuit, behind the scenes there is the highest of regard between the two organizations."

Lauda hails Pirelli's tire change
(GMM) Niki Lauda has hailed Pirelli's move to alter the design of its 2013 tires ahead of the Canadian grand prix next month and beyond.

Lotus, arguably the team with the best grip on the Italian supplier's controversial tires this year, is not happy with the decision.

"It's clear that Pirelli have found themselves in a difficult situation and under pressure from different quarters," team boss Eric Boullier said.

"I hope they (the changes) are not too extreme."

Within the pitlane, the bulk of the 'pressure' put on Pirelli came from Red Bull and Mercedes.

Mercedes' W04 is perhaps the fastest car in the entire field over one lap this year, but it chews alarmingly through the tires over a race distance.

Asked what he thinks of Pirelli's change of tack for Canada and beyond, chairman Lauda said: "This is very positive, and I'm speaking as a neutral observer and not the Mercedes chairman.

"No one understands what's going on anymore, and there are no more man-to-man fights, because everyone is just focused on the tires.

"It can't be the intention of racing that the slowest man wins," the great Austrian told Osterreich.

"Everyone is just hoping he gets into the window where the tires work, and often it's a coincidence only," added Lauda.

Former driver Mika Salo, meanwhile, has played down Lotus' fears the team will be overly disadvantaged by the Montreal tweak.

Backing the move, the Finn told MTV3 broadcaster: "There didn't seem to be any drivers left who were happy with the tires. It was clear that something was wrong with them.

"But I don't think it's anything for Lotus to panic about, as they were also good on last year's tires.

"If they are able to use the tires better now, then they will also use these (new) tires better," added Salo.

No news on Ecclestone charges until June
(GMM) It will be at least June before anything more is known about Bernie Ecclestone's bribery charges.

It is believed F1's 82-year-old chief executive has been charged by Munich prosecutors regarding his payment of $44 million some years ago to now jailed former banker Gerhard Gribkowsky.

But a spokeswoman told German news agency DPA that the district court will not make a decision about how to proceed with the charges "within three to four weeks".

She would not comment further.

Bernie Ecclestone: "I am innocent"
Despite reportedly being charged by the German courts, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone insists he is innocent and that the money he paid to a German banker was nothing to do with the sale of Formula 1.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reports that Ecclestone has been charged with "bribing a public official" as well as “abetting breach of fiduciary duty."

Ecclestone told Bild: “That is nonsense. The money that I paid him had nothing to do with the sale of Formula One."

"At the end he threatened to tell stories about me, which although not true would have possibly caused a lot of unnecessary trouble.

"So I thought I would give him the money to get rid of him."

"I am innocent. The truth will prevail in the end."

"No I don’t think so," Ecclestone said when asked if he will resign over the allegations.

"The shareholders will have to make that decision. Once my contract with the company expires, they can replace me if they want."

Ferrari joins Lotus in tire tweak criticism
(GMM) Ferrari has joined Lotus in criticizing Pirelli's mid-season tire tweak.

Following early-season criticism, culminating in the furor after Barcelona recently, Pirelli announced it is making key changes to its controversial 2013 tires for next month's Canadian grand prix and beyond.

Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez was the first to react, likening the change to widening football goals because one team was always striking the post.

Now, in the anonymous 'Horse Whisperer' column posted on the official Ferrari website, Ferrari has lashed out at those who claim four-stop strategies in F1 show that the tires are too extreme.

Undoubtedly, the Ferrari writer is referring to the kind of criticism made by world champions Red Bull.

"It's a shame that these worthy souls kept quiet two years ago when, at the very same Catalunya circuit and on the Istanbul track, five of the six drivers who got to those two podiums made exactly the same number of pitstops," the column read.

Ferrari also recalled the 2004 French grand prix, when Michael Schumacher won at Magny Cours with a four-stopper that left Ferrari and Bridgestone "showered with praise" within the paddock.

"Today however, it seems one must almost feel ashamed for choosing a strategy that, as always for that matter, is aimed at getting the most out of the package one has available," the column added.

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