F1 news in brief – Tuesday (2nd Update)

UPDATE #2 Additional updates shown in red below.

05/14/13 Updates shown in red below.

Pirelli tires have turned F1 from a driver's championship to a 'tire management' championship – i.e. not what race fans buy expensive F1 tickets to watch.


  • F1's tire row not so simple
  • Domenicali doubts 2013 pecking order to change
  • Pirelli boss says new F1 contract coming 'soon'
  • Grosjean supports penalty points system
  • Perez radio call 'not a team order' – McLaren
  • Red Bull Driver Mark Webber Could Be Replaced By Fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo
  • Williams Hybrid Bus
  • McLaren F1 Team Launches New Twitter Handle
  • Spanish GP draws large number of viewers in Germany
  • Pirelli: We can bring back processions if teams, fans want that
  • Horner weighs up Raikkonen, Ricciardo for 2014 seat New
  • Pirelli speeds up tire changes for Canada New
  • First Carlos Slim sponsor arrives at McLaren New

F1's tire row not so simple
(GMM) In the days after the Spanish grand prix, the word on everybody's lips is the same — tires.

Indeed, so crucial is the impact of Pirelli's controversial product this year is that rumors are swirling that Red Bull mogul Dietrich Mateschitz may have renewed his threat to pull out of formula one.

Reports say the Austrian met with fellow billionaire Bernie Ecclestone in Barcelona, shortly before hinting to reporters that he is losing his patience.

"Formula one tire management is not a race," Mateschitz told German newspaper Bild.

"The tire is a means to an end — it's how you transfer the potential and performance of the car and driver to the road."

But he said the current situation "contradicts" the very idea of motor racing.

Whether Mateschitz threatened to quit or not, or whether the F1 chief executive heard Mercedes' Niki Lauda say the 2013 tires are "the biggest joke", Ecclestone is now on board.

"The tires are wrong," he is quoted by the UK newspaper Express, "(and) not what we intended when we asked Pirelli to produce something which did a half race.

"Pirelli know it and they're doing something about it. We'll go back to last season's type of tires, which gave us some close racing," he added.

As ever in F1, however, it's not that simple. The complaining is not universal — especially among teams who have made the tires work for them so far.

"It's not as simple as that to just change the tires," Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali told Auto Motor und Sport.

Lotus' Eric Boullier agrees that pulling the rug from under teams who are not complaining is "not fair".

"Pirelli was asked to build tires that last 20 laps, and they've done that. If our car can do it, the other teams should work just as hard," he told German RTL television.

Pirelli is also protesting about the fairness of the current situation; criticized if they do nothing, and potentially accused of favoring Red Bull if they make a change.

"If we do something that helps them," Paul Hembery is quoted by the Guardian, "we can understand that Lotus and Ferrari won't be happy.

"We will be damned if we do and damned if we don't."

He is quoted by Brazil's O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper: "It would be much easier and cheaper to produce tires that last the whole race.

"Anyone can see the amount of tires we are manufacturing and taking to the race tracks. We could greatly simplify our task.

"As I've said, it's a choice between one or another kind of competition."

On the F1 grid, competition and politics speak the loudest. "The more frustrating the results," Welt newspaper correspondent Simon Pausch said, "the louder the complaints."

Times journalist Kevin Eason, characterizing Mateschitz's words as a "declaration of self-interest', added: "(The) Tires (controversy) is only a symptom of deep confusion and malaise in F1.

"Costs, 2014 engines, division of wealth etc," he added on Twitter.

Domenicali doubts 2013 pecking order to change
(GMM) Stefano Domenicali doubts F1's pecking order will change significantly as the 'development race' continues in 2013.

Speaking to Brazil's Totalrace, the Ferrari boss seemed relieved that the pecking order had not changed significantly between Bahrain and Spain.

Usually, the first race of the European season is the scene of a potential pecking-order shake-up, as teams returned to their headquarters after the initial 'flyaway' period.

"The Spanish grand prix," said Domenicali, "was important in my view so we could see the jump in performance of each team.

"From now until the end of July, we will see no more than one or two major steps in the development," the Italian added.

He is referring to the forthcoming summer period, when all of the teams will have to turn the bulk of their attention to the huge regulation changes for 2014.

Referring to the pecking order in Barcelona, Domenicali surmised: "It seems like everyone had the same kind of improvement, unlike what happened last year.

"After so many years with these regulations, it is difficult for someone to find a great performance leap."

So, from the middle of the season onwards, it seems obvious that the teams will have close to 100 per cent of their resources on honing a competitive package for the V6-powered future.

"We will be forced to focus more on the car for next year," said Domenicali, "because if we find something (for 2014), the improvement will not be two or three tenths, but two or three seconds.

"This is a crucial part of the season," he added.

Pirelli boss says new F1 contract coming 'soon'
(GMM) Pirelli is now well on the road to securing a new contract to continue as F1's official tire supplier beyond 2013.

That is the claim of the Italian company's chairman and chief executive Marco Tronchetti Provera.

In Bahrain, Pirelli's F1 chief Paul Hembery had hinted that, with Pirelli's existing contract expiring, a deadline was now fast approaching.

"There is a time scale and I'm pretty sure I know what it is," he said.

On Sunday in Barcelona, the Briton said negotiations had continued in the days and weeks since Bahrain, and some progress had been made.

"We are moving in the right direction," confirmed Tronchetti Provera, according to reports in the Italian media.

"We believe the conditions for the signing of a new contract with formula one have already been established.

"It will not take much more and I hope it will happen soon," he added. "There will be news in the coming months."

He added that Pirelli enjoys its collaboration because working in F1 "produces important results for the research of the products and materials for road cars".

Grosjean supports penalty points system
(GMM) Romain Grosjean sounds supportive of F1's move to enhance its penalty system.

Last year, the Frenchman became the first F1 driver in years to serve a race ban, following a string of first-lap crashes.

He admitted to RMC Sport it may seem "ironic" that he therefore supports a system that could lead directly to more race bans.

It is reported that errant drivers will earn 'demerit'-style points against their FIA super license for on and off-track indiscretions, leading to race bans.

Grosjean said: "If there is a nice system that comes in, why not?

"Right now, it is the stewards who decide: it's like boxing or judo, it's arbitrary."

But not everyone on the grid is so accepting. Jules Bianchi, Marussia's rookie driver, said the new system also sounds too arbitrary.

"I've heard that the sanctions could vary from 1 to 3 points," he said. "They're going to say 'You did it in this way, so 1 point. You did it in another way, so 2 points.

"So it won't be consistent," added Bianchi.

Another opponent is F1's reigning world champion, Sebastian Vettel.

"I don't like it," the Red Bull driver admitted.

"I've seen a sketch of it (the plan) and I think you have the potential of scoring points for some things that are not entirely in our hands, and small things that at the end of the day the consequence could be very big," added Vettel.

Perez radio call 'not a team order' – McLaren
(GMM) McLaren has denied a radio call to Sergio Perez during Sunday's Spanish grand prix was a 'team order'.

After Mexican Perez and teammate Jenson Button's wheel-banging recently in Bahrain, boss Martin Whitmarsh said the incident proved that McLaren lets its drivers race.

But in the closing stages in Barcelona on Sunday, Perez again closed on his experienced teammate Button's sister car but was told to look after his tires.

The 22-year-old, who had apologized in the wake of the Bahrain incident, duly followed Button to the checkered flag, for ninth place.

"Checo (Perez) himself said at the end that his tires were finished," Whitmarsh is quoted by the Sapa-AFP news agency.

"What we didn't want was him to be battling until he ran out of rubber. So it was not tactical, it was practical.

"It was a fair fight, but if you are asking 'did we ask him to back off and not fight?' No, not at all," he insisted.

Perez also denied the 'team order' charge via his Twitter account.

"Just want to tell everyone (that) the radio message was all about saving the tires. Never a team order," he said.

Red Bull Driver Mark Webber Could Be Replaced By Fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo
Australian F1 driver Mark Webber's future at Red Bull "is in doubt and judging by comments coming from the team over the weekend, fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo may be in the box seat to replace him next season," according to The Age.

Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner has repeated his assertion that 36-year-old Webber is ''in the autumn of his career and no longer in the spring,'' while team adviser Helmet Marko has talked up Ricciardo's efforts this season.

Horner said, ''It is impossible now to say who will be driving alongside Sebastian Vettel next year. It's clear every driver would at the moment like to be sitting in a Red Bull." Webber is contracted until the end of the '13 season. The Age

Williams Hybrid Bus
Bloomberg reports Williams Grand Prix Holdings Plc CEO Alex Burns said that the team "expects to start street testing of a hybrid London double-decker bus this year as it seeks a revenue boost from technological expertise."

The nine-time F1 constructors' champion and bus operator Go-Ahead Group Plc 14 months ago "agreed to make six prototype vehicles with flywheels that recoup energy from braking, a system Williams developed for racing."

Burns said that Williams and Go-Ahead "are testing one prototype off public roads that has shown 'very promising' fuel saving." Bloomberg

McLaren F1 Team Launches New Twitter Handle
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes "displayed its new Twitter handle, @McLarenF1," on the front wing endplate of the team's cars during the Spanish Grand Prix last weekend.

The new handle "was promoted on the cars driven by Jenson Button and Sergio Perez," and replaces the previous handle, @TheFifthDriver.

The handle "has been created to make it easier for McLaren’s global fan base to identify and engage with the team on Twitter."

The change is "in response to the team’s growing popularity on social media in the past 12 months."

The number of followers on Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Facebook page "has increased by 40% to 700,000 in the past year." On Twitter, its following "has reached almost 350,000, a growth of 80%." Campaign Live

Spanish GP draws large number of viewers in Germany
F1 continues to dwarf NASCAR in popularity. Consider that Germany is a fraction the size of the USA yet German free-to-air TV channel RTL attracted 5.91 million viewers (according to DWDL) to its broadcast of the Spanish F1 Grand Prix, on par with NASCAR in the USA. However, you need to add in the viewers F1 gets in the 200 other countries it is broadcast in. For example, in the UK Sky's coverage of the race, which was won by Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, was watched by 330,000 viewers. Sky's broadcast of the race received a 2.5% share.

Pirelli: We can bring back processions if teams, fans want that
Pirelli says it will help bring back boring processions to Formula One if that is what teams and fans want.

In the wake of a fresh debate about the impact the tires are having on the sport – and Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz claiming F1 "has nothing to do with racing anymore" – Pirelli has reiterated it is only doing what it has been asked to.

When Pirelli returned to F1 for the 2011 season, it was asked to spice up the show and deliver multiple stop races with high degrading rubber, just like the famous 2010 Canadian Grand Prix.

Paul Hembery, its motorsport boss, is aware his company is facing criticism for what is happening on track right now, but he has made it clear that those calling for a radical overhaul need to be sure about exactly what they are hoping for.

"What do you want?" he said. "We were asked to provide two to three stops and replicate Canada [2010].

"I know some of you would like us to do a one stop race where tires are not a factor, and you can go back to processional racing where the qualifying position is the end position, if that is what you want in racing.

"What do you want us to do? You tell us, we will do it."

"It is rather bizarre because we are only doing what we did in the last two years," he said.

"We don't understand why you [the media] are all so excited.

"It is a bit bizarre – unless you all want us to give tires to Red Bull to help them win the championship, which appears to be the case.

"I think it is pretty clear. There is one team who will benefit from a change and that is them." Yahoo Eurosport UK

Horner weighs up Raikkonen, Ricciardo for 2014 seat
(GMM) Christian Horner was on Tuesday faced with rising speculation Red Bull is weighing up a choice between two drivers for Mark Webber's 2014 seat.

Amid suggestions the team has decided to replace Australian Webber, team boss Horner admitted in Barcelona that the 36-year-old is in "the autumn of his career".

On the front row of the grid for his place, according to the rumor mill, are Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo.

When asked about the Finn, Horner told Austrian Servus TV: "Kimi is doing a good job. He's very strong at the moment.

"But we're focusing on our own drivers. Kimi is a competitor that we want to beat.

"The right time for us to discuss the drivers is later in the summer," he added.

Nonetheless, the rumors keep coming. Sitting right alongside Horner amid Tuesday's questioning was Australian Ricciardo, the stand-out driver at Red Bull's second team Toro Rosso in 2013.

"I don't know," the 23-year-old driver said when asked about a possible opportunity at the main team.

"What do you think, Christian?" he grinned.

Horner answered: "Daniel is a very, very talented driver. He has come from the Red Bull junior program and has done a great job. We have an eye on him.

"We're also looking at what Jean-Eric Vergne is doing, and it's nice to see the progress they're making.

"Daniel has done some great races. He was very strong in China," Horner continued.

"The purpose of Toro Rosso is to develop drivers and make them candidates for Red Bull, just as Sebastian Vettel did."

Pirelli speeds up tire changes for Canada
(GMM) Pirelli is speeding up a scheduled change of tack for its 2013 tires.

Following harsh criticism both inside and outside the paddock amid the Barcelona four-stoppers, Paul Hembery announced that changes would be made for Silverstone.

But on Tuesday, the Italian marque's motor sport director said the changes will now make their debut one race earlier, in Canada, which is the race after next weekend's Monaco grand prix.

"Some structural changes," Hembery tweeted, "combining elements (of the) 2012 and 2013 products."

Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Michael Schmidt said the 2012 tire construction will be revived, although the changes to the actual compounds will be minor "so as not to upset Ferrari and Lotus too much".

"The purpose of the change is that the compounds do not heat up as much, especially at the rear," Hembery is quoted as saying.

The change will have an aerodynamic impact on the cars, as the 2012 construction did not deform as much in the corners.

"This could be the salvation for teams like McLaren, Sauber and Williams. It will definitely also help Red Bull and Mercedes," Schmidt said.

Hembery explained: "It may well be that we keep the compounds as we used in Barcelona. If anything, the changes will be minor.

"We want to stay on the aggressive side, to keep the races exciting and not punish the teams who are doing a good job with these tires."

Hembery is now stepping up the pressure on the teams to agree to some hot weather winter testing in the Middle East for early 2014, and also for an up-to-date test car.

"The Renault that we have is three years old and four seconds slower than today's cars," he said.

"Already this year we're seeing as much rear downforce as in 2011 with the blown diffusers.

"We cannot develop tires like this," added Hembery.

First Carlos Slim sponsor arrives at McLaren
(GMM) Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecommunications billionaire, has already arrived as a sponsor at British team McLaren.

When Mexican Sergio Perez was signed for 2013 and beyond, speculation swirled that Slim's Telmex empire would replace departing McLaren title sponsor Vodafone in 2014.

The future has already arrived. On the rear wing of the MP4-28 in Barcelona last weekend were the words 'Claro Video'.

Claro, currently also a sponsor of Perez's former team, Sauber, alongside Telmex, is a Mexican mobile phone operator in the Slim stable.

And according to Mexican reports dated Monday, May 13, Slim's son Carlos Slim Domit has announced that Claro will also be a McLaren sponsor in 2014.

The German news agency DPA said Slim Jr made the announcement at last weekend's Spanish grand prix.

Leave a Reply