F1 news in brief – Wednesday

  • Pirelli making tire change 'for own image' – Red Bull
  • German prosecutors charge Ecclestone with bribery
  • Red Bull wants to keep Vettel for 'a long time'
  • 'No panic' after Allison's Lotus exit – owner
  • Raikkonen vs. Ricciardo: who is really in contention for a Red Bull drive?
  • Sauber Pack Easy for the road in Formula One
  • Mercedes board not rattled by struggles
  • Ferrari still has weakness – Stefano Domenicali

Pirelli making tire change 'for own image' – Red Bull
(GMM) Pirelli has denied claims it is making major changes to its 2013 tire design as a result of the pressure applied by world champions Red Bull.

Following the controversy in the wake of Sunday's Spanish grand prix, Pirelli announced on Tuesday that it will make major changes in time for next month's race in Canada, including reverting to the basic structure of the 2012 tire.

However, before deciding to make the changes, Pirelli's Paul Hembery had warned that a reaction like that could hand the world championship to Red Bull.

But he now insists: "I know there are concerns that the change will help some teams and punish others. But we are convinced that this is not the case.

"This change has nothing to do with Red Bull's criticism — certainly the criticism from some in the media was considerably harsher," Hembery is quoted by Speed Week.

Hembery acknowledges, however, that teams like Ferrari and Lotus did not complain anywhere near as loudly, because they were able to manage the original tires.

"They developed more in the mechanical direction than aerodynamic," he said, "but we do not believe that by making this change, they are going to be disadvantaged," he is quoted by Finland's MTV3.

"We certainly hope not, although there's always a risk. We are still going to be fairly aggressive in terms of choosing the compounds.

"Red Bull never officially came to us and demanded change, which is important for people to understand.

"It is by no means certain that this is going to help Red Bull, so people shouldn't be so quick to assume that," added Hembery.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner agrees that it is "impossible to predict" how Pirelli's change will change the situation in Canada and beyond.

"It is all part of the challenge of formula one," he is quoted by the UK newspaper Express.

Referring to the widespread criticism of the Italian marque's approach so far in 2013, Horner said the change for Canada is "ultimately in Pirelli's interests".

"They had to do something for their own image," the Briton is quoted by Germany's Sport Bild.

German prosecutors charge Ecclestone with bribery
(GMM) German prosecutors have charged Bernie Ecclestone with bribery, the Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reports in its Wednesday edition.

Earlier, the newspaper said the officials had completed their long investigation into the F1 chief executive's role in the Gerhard Gribkowsky corruption affair.

"Munich has filed charges against Bernie Ecclestone," Wednesday's article reads, adding that one of the charges is the "serious" offense of bribing a public official.

The case will surround the 82-year-old's confirmed payment of $44 million to jailed former F1 banker Gribkowsky, surrounding the sale of the sport to CVC some years ago.

"The bribery allegations could cost Ecclestone his job as formula one boss," said the Suddeutsche Zeitung, adding that the district court will now decide whether or not it hears the case.

If it does, a trial is tipped to take place this year.

Briton Ecclestone claims Gribkowsky blackmailed him.

Red Bull wants to keep Vettel for 'a long time'
(GMM) Christian Horner says he is not worried Sebastian Vettel is about to jump ship to a rival formula one team.

German Vettel, F1's reigning triple world champion and the 2013 title leader, has in the past been linked with a move to Ferrari.

And the most recent rumor is that Mercedes' Niki Lauda has made approaches to the 25-year-old.

Vettel, however, remains under contract to Red Bull, even if his boss Christian Horner told Sport Bild: "What team wouldn't want Sebastian Vettel?

"He has been part of the Red Bull family for a long time, and he's an important part of our success. We have steadily developed along with him.

"The issue is not so much about the length of contracts, but how comfortable you feel with one another.

"Seb feels comfortable with us, and we're comfortable with him. And I have no doubt that will be the same for a very long time into the future," he added.

"Seb is fantastic, but I don't think we've seen the best from him yet," said Horner.

'No panic' after Allison's Lotus exit – owner
(GMM) Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez has played down the impact of technical director James Allison's departure.

So highly rated had Briton Allison become within the F1 paddock, that many insiders believe the 45-year-old would be able to take his pick in terms of choosing his next team.

Lotus has promoted from within – Nick Chester – to replace Allison, so it is feared that Enstone will now struggle to produce as good a car with a budget smaller than F1's 'big four' Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes.

Lopez told Finland's Turun Sanomat: "We have known for some time that Allison is leaving, so I don't think it's relevant to our performance.

"James is a great guy, an important guy," he is also quoted by Sporting Life, "but that was more from a coordination point of view.

"When Bob Bell left (for Mercedes), there was panic outside of Enstone, but not with us, and this is the same thing. It's not going to affect us," He added.

"Enstone has amazing talent."

Raikkonen vs. Ricciardo: who is really in contention for a Red Bull drive?
Some impressive performances from Toro Rosso driver Daniel Ricciardo could be moving the Australian closer to a Red Bull drive. This comes as it was revealed Red Bull were keeping an eye on the young driver should Kimi Raikkonen – the teams first choice – be unavailable. But which of the two drivers is really in contention for a future Red Bull drive?
With speculation continuing to grow Mark Webber will not be retained beyond 2013 after Malaysia’s Multi 21 row, Raikkonen and Ricciardo have been lined up as a potential replacements.

The Australian has scored seven points this season and sits in 12th in the drivers championship. There have been impressive performances from Ricciardo. The first came China where he produced his best ever qualifying of seventh and later converted this into a solid points finish. He pushed in the final laps of the race to get ahead of midfield rivals Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg.

His performance in China was also replicated in Spain. The points haul may not have been as many as in Shanghai but the Australian drove a clean race in an upgraded and faster Toro Rosso to finish 10th.

Ricciardo has out-qualified his teammate Jean-Eric Vergne four times and out-raced him three times in the five races so far this season. However not every race has been as successful or impressive as China and Spain. In Australia he retired after 39 laps suffering from exhaust failure whilst in Malaysia it was another exhaust issue which put an end to his race with five laps to go leaving him classified 18th. In Bahrain he also had a disappointing race finishing 16th a lap down on winner Sebastian Vettel.

As previously mentioned, should Webber leave the world championship winning team, the man in pole position to replace him is in fact 2007 world champion Raikkonen. The Finn is favorite according to paddock whispers and he is also without a contract for 2014.

Whilst Lotus remain confident Raikkonen will stay with them for 2014 the benefits of making the move to Red Bull may outweigh the cons. Lotus may have the potential to win a championship- but it is not certain. The lure of a team which has won three consecutive driver and constructor titles since 2009 – and could be set to win a fourth this season – may sway the Finn towards the Austrian team.

Raikkonen has performed faultlessly this year. He is second in the drivers championship just five points behind Vettel. He won the first race of the season in Australia and has finished in second position three times. His worst performance this season has been seventh in Malaysia.

With Raikkonen, Red Bull would also have an experienced driver who has proved he can win a championship. In comparison Ricciardo is relatively unknown only in his second season of F1. He may be out-qualifying and out-racing his teammate but this doesn’t necessarily mean he will be able to perform in a top-team.

The truth of the matter is that there is really only one driver in contention for the Red Bull drive. The team are understood to want Raikkonen, and in light of his recent form it is understandable. However it is not inconceivable that should he not make the move Webber will be signed for another season.

Red Bull say they won’t make a decision until the summer. There may be more than one name floating around for the second seat but one thing is for certain – the team’s 2014 driver line-up is far from settled. F1Plus

Sauber Pack Easy for the road in Formula One
Formula One team Sauber has agreed a partnership with Pack Easy AG. The Swiss luggage company has become a promotional partner of the team with immediate effect.

The deal will be promoted through a range of giveaways for Sauber guests and partners throughout the year, while Lucerne-based Pack Easy will also create a custom range of luggage for the team in time for the 2014 Formula One season.

Sauber renewed another deal ahead of Melbourne Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said: "Our race team is travelling almost one third of the whole calendar year, which is why functional and durable luggage is essential. Pack Easy not only provides a custom-made solution, but also individual design for our team."

It has been a difficult start to the 2013 season on the track for Sauber, with the opening four races yielding just five points.

Mercedes board not rattled by struggles
Mercedes' board members are fully behind the team despite its early season tire struggles, says motorsport boss Toto Wolff.

The German car manufacturer has impressed with its qualifying form so far this year – securing three pole positions – but difficulties managing its tires have resulted in it slipping down the order in races.

Both drivers and team admit they do not have an answer as to why they suffer so much in the races compared to their rivals, but Wolff is adamant that the situation is not putting it under more pressure from the company's senior figures.

Although Daimler boss Dr. Dieter Zetsche saw first-hand his cars slump from the front row in Spain, Wolff says that senior management is aware of how tough F1 is – and that they will be happy as long as the team is working on the problems.

"We had the CEO here this weekend, and these guys are engineers – so they understand what is going on," explained Wolff.

"Having them at the races is not only a very good motivation for the team, but it is good that they see there is huge complexity in the problem.

"When you watch things on television, you always think you can do better. It's like being at a football stadium as a manager – it is always easier when you are far away.

"They [the board members] want to see that there is a proactive approach to this, and that we are reacting." Yahoo! Eurosport UK

Ferrari still has weakness – Stefano Domenicali
Ferrari says the F138's qualifying pace is still its Achilles heel, but is wary of making any changes that unsettle its race pace after wins in China and Spain.

Fernando Alonso won the Spanish Grand Prix from fifth on the grid at the weekend, but had to make up two position around the outside of turn three on lap one to put himself in contention. Team principal Stefano Domenicali said Ferrari could not rely on great starts from Alonso and would have to improve its one-lap pace while maintaining its strength with tire management in the race.

"The priority for me is very clear," he said. "We don't have to unbalance the situation of our car at the moment, but we have to improve qualifying. We knew today that the key to the strategy was to attack and jump on the track, but it's not every time that you can do it. So without unbalancing our decent race performance we still need to improve qualifying to make sure we have cleaner air in front of us."

Domenicali is expecting the top teams to make just one or two more major steps in performance with the 2013 cars before focus shifts solely to the new engine formula in 2014.

"For me this weekend was important just to understand what the jump in performance from other teams, because from now until the end of July you may see, if possible, one or two steps in development but not more. Then you will see that some teams are forced to start work on the new car, with the big challenge that we face with the new project not being about staying within two or three tenths but within two or three seconds. I think that will be the crucial part of this season so that is why these are my priorities." ESPNF1

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