Latest F1 news in brief – Sunday (Updated)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Ecclestone invests in New Jersey F1 race

    Ferrari wants 'rapid recovery' for Fry

  • Whitmarsh says McLaren not moving to oust him
  • Mercedes not expected to win in Spain
  • Maldonado – 'no idea' how to fix Williams slump
  • Ecclestone wants Spanish hosts to share grand prix
  • Teams beginning to sign 2014 Pirelli tire deals
  • F1 puts money into New Jersey race – Ecclestone
  • Alonso confident of giving stricken Fry Spain podium
  • Five drivers for Canada FOTA Fans' Forum New
  • Barcelona will not share race with Valencia New

Ferrari wants 'rapid recovery' for Fry
(GMM) Ferrari hopes its technical director Pat Fry makes a "rapid recovery" after being admitted to hospital on Saturday.

Before qualifying on Saturday, the 49-year-old Briton was rushed from the Circuit de Catalunya to a Barcelona hospital, suffering from pain.

Initially reported as kidney stones, Fry was actually diagnosed with appendicitis, and Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali said he underwent an appendectomy late on Saturday.

"We wish him all the best for a rapid recovery," said the Italian.

The Sapa-AFP news agency said Fry will not return to work on Sunday, but the Finnish broadcaster MTV3 said he is expected to return in time for Monaco in two weeks.

"It's important that he is back on his feet soon," Domenicali is quoted by Speed Week.

"We had to change our structure a little bit, but that is secondary," he insisted.

Whitmarsh says McLaren not moving to oust him
(GMM) Martin Whitmarsh is determined to keep his job at McLaren, despite the depth of the great British team's 2013 slump.

It was hoped the Woking based team would start to recover in Barcelona with a big package of upgrades, but Jenson Button qualified an awful 14th on Saturday.

Moreover, a plan to rush new front wings from the factory to the circuit failed spectacularly when McLaren baulked at the legality of the design.

"We got them here, but were unable to be confident they complied legally," said Whitmarsh.

The McLaren crisis is causing some to wonder if McLaren might oust Whitmarsh, who has seen Lewis Hamilton, Paddy Lowe and title sponsor Vodafone all decide to leave recently.

"I don't believe it's being considered at board level at the moment," he is quoted by British newspapers.

Whitmarsh also said he is not thinking about quitting.

"I believe in the team, I believe we're going to power through this, so I'm not considering anything other than getting this team back to where it belongs," he said.

The only bright spot for McLaren in Spain was Sergio Perez managing to qualify among the top-ten — an achievement that surprised Button.

"Obviously he did everything right," the Briton said of his Mexican teammate.

But Button denied that, with the MP4-28 failing to improve, it is now an obvious choice for McLaren to abandon 2013 and prepare a better car for next season.

"This is a great team," he is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport, "with many partners and sponsors.

"If we can achieve something this year, then it would be wrong to write off this season.

"Of course I want a good season in 2014, but it's still too early to put everything in one basket."

Mercedes not expected to win in Spain
(GMM) Dominating qualifying in the presence of Daimler supremo Dieter Zetsche, Mercedes appears on top of the world in Barcelona.

But Nico Rosberg also started from pole position last time out in Bahrain, only for his W04 to chew through Pirelli's tires and send him tumbling down the field.

The silver car has been improved for Barcelona, but team boss Ross Brawn warned: "Our Achilles heel is getting the tires to last, and I don't think we are quite there yet."

Just behind the W04s on the grid is Red Bull's championship leader Sebastian Vettel.

He said: "Historically the Mercedes is pretty aggressive when it comes to looking after the tires.

"Looking at the long runs (in practice), I think Ferrari and Lotus were pretty competitive, so I think we can expect them to be very strong in the race."

Starting fifth, behind Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso agreed: "Nico also started in pole in Bahrain and finished I think ninth.

"We are looking at the podium (for Sunday) and maybe something better."

In truth, given the dominance of the Pirelli tire situation this year, it is impossible to make predictions about the outcome of grands prix.

Asked if he is driving a title-challenging car, Lewis Hamilton told Spain's El Pais: "We still don't know.

"We are closer than I expected, but I could say now that we have a winning car and then finish fifth and look stupid."

Asked a similar question, Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda answered: "Unfortunately, no one knows.

"Every race is a surprise because of the tires," he told Kleine Zeitung. "A surprise, in one direction or the other."

At the very least, Saturday in Spain went some way to calming the speculation about Mercedes' driver lineup, amid rumors the German marque might be trying to find a spot for Red Bull's Vettel.

"A good driver changes everything within the whole team," Lauda, referring to Hamilton's arrival this year, told Britain's Daily Mail.

"Nico is even quicker than before as the two drivers motivate one another. I think we have the strongest pair of drivers."

And, at the moment, German Rosberg has the edge over superstar Hamilton, with two poles on the trot now in his pocket.

"Of course I'm pleased to be ahead of Lewis," he said on Saturday, "because I know he's at a very, very high level in terms of his driving. He's one of the best out there.

"When I can be in front of him I'm extremely happy."

Maldonado – 'no idea' how to fix Williams slump
(GMM) A year after winning in Barcelona from pole, Pastor Maldonado has hit rock bottom at the scene of his F1 breakthrough.

For many in the paddock, the depth of Williams' and Maldonado's decline in just 12 months is hard to believe — on Saturday, both FW35s failed to make it out of Q1, and the Venezuelan was outqualified by his rookie teammate Valtteri Bottas.

With new improvements to the struggling car on board this weekend, Maldonado told EFE news agency that "nothing worked" as his team tried to improve his car through the weekend.

"Nothing worked at all," he said again, "but we have to keep calm and keep going.

"We cannot give up," the 28-year-old added.

"We must keep going to find a solution. At the moment we have no idea how to fix our problems, which seems incredible, but this is formula one."

Ecclestone wants Spanish hosts to share grand prix
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has revealed he would like Barcelona and Valencia to alternate a single date for the Spanish grand prix on F1's annual calendar.

Amid reports the two Spanish cities are close to agreeing a deal, Circuit de Catalunya track boss Salvador Servia played down the likelihood.

A deal would see Valencia's streets host formula one in 2014, but Servia said Barcelona is already "working on next year".

"We have already published the ticket prices for 2014," he told Reuters on Saturday.

Clearly, no deal has been struck yet.

"Right now I don't know where the (Spanish) grand prix will be next year," F1 chief executive Ecclestone is quoted by the AS sports daily.

"The best and right option for both of them is the alternation."

AS newspaper said Ecclestone met on Friday at the Circuit de Catalunya with Valencia race official Gonzalo Gobert.

Teams beginning to sign 2014 Pirelli tire deals
(GMM) Still unsure it will be retained as F1's official supplier, Pirelli has begun to sign supply contracts with teams for the 2014 season.

That is the claim of the specialist German website, reporting that Ferrari, and Red Bull's two teams, have already signed deals with the Italian supplier.

Mercedes is also believed to have signed, but for the moment insiders at the German squad are quiet.

"We have had initial talks with a few teams," Pirelli's motor sport director Paul Hembery said.

The report said Pirelli wants to charge each team EUR 1.2 million per season for the tire deal, but some teams are arguing that a discount is in order due to the huge sponsorship exposure enjoyed by the Italian marque in F1.

F1 puts money into New Jersey race – Ecclestone
(GMM) F1 has invested financially in the project to put the sport amid the fabled New York skyline.

Amid suggestions the already delayed New Jersey street race might now falter altogether, the project announced this week that Long Beach grand prix founder Chris Pook has joined up.

"Chris has a history of great success in formula one, which I'm confident he'll bring to the grand prix of America race," Ecclestone said earlier this week.

Now, in the Barcelona paddock, the F1 chief executive revealed that he has committed some of the sport's money to the New Jersey project.

"There's no reason why it shouldn't happen," Ecclestone told Reuters on Saturday.

"We've put money behind it to pay a lot of the things off, a lot of their debts," he said, explaining that he will look to recoup the money later.

"We're going to try and make it happen next year."

Ecclestone also hinted he might be lining up a race on the streets of Long Beach as a potential alternative to New Jersey.

"If we do this (in New Jersey), it (Long Beach) won't (happen)," said the 82-year-old.

Alonso confident of giving stricken Fry Spain podium
Fernando Alonso gave his stricken Ferrari technical director Pat Fry a good news bulletin on Saturday when he forecast he could still win his home Spanish Grand Prix despite starting from fifth on the grid.

The 31-year-old Spaniard said he was not surprised to miss out on pole or the front row after seeing Mercedes dominate qualifying, but added that he believed he could be much stronger in race trim.

That opinion was sure to encourage technical boss Fry who was rushed to hospital on Saturday for an appendix operation after falling ill and complaining of pains.

Fry was at first thought to be suffering from kidney stones. He was expected to undergo surgery later on Saturday and to be unavailable to work again this weekend.

Despite being quick in practice, Alonso was only able to qualify in fifth after which he said: "I think today was not a surprise for anyone in the team.

"We were three or fourth tenths off pole position in the last two or three Grands Prix, and here some people brought new parts so we are half a second off… We need to recover this half-second.

"Our car on one-lap pace is not as quick as the others, but on the long-run pace it's as quick as the others, or even better. That is our strong point and we need to take every opportunity that comes tomorrow. We need to be optimistic and try to be on the podium, or even something better.

"We have the car to do a good race."

Warned that it is almost unknown for a car that does not start on the front row to win, he said: "It is time to change that record.

"Every race is unique, but if you look at races in this championship, we see that Mercedes is struggling a lot in the races.

"So, Kimi and Sebastian may be more of a target for the race itself than the Mercedes guys, and also in the championship Sebastian is first and Kimi is second.

"It would be nice to finish the race in front of them. And I think if you finish in front of them, you will be very close to victory here." AFP

Five drivers for Canada FOTA Fans' Forum
Five Formula 1 drivers have been confirmed for the latest FOTA Fans' Forum, which will be staged in Montreal on 5 June, during the build up to the Canadian Grand Prix.

Spanish Grand Prix pole-sitter Nico Rosberg, Romain Grosjean, Paul di Resta, Charles Pic, Jules Bianchi will all be present, discussing a variety of topics posed by fans of the sport, who can apply to attend the event via the FOTA Fans' Forum website.

The most recent FOTA Fans' Forum was held ahead of the final pre-season test of the year at the Circuit de Catalunya, while Canada last hosted an event back in 2011.

Barcelona will not share race with Valencia
Circuit de Catalunya chiefs have no plans to share the Spanish Grand Prix with the Valencia street track in future seasons, despite Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone stating last year that the venues will alternate from 2013 onwards.

The Barcelona circuit, which has played host to the Formula 1 fraternity since 1991, holds a race contract until 2016 and, amid the ongoing speculation, general manager Salvador Servia says ticket prices for next year have already been published.

"We are working on next year. We have already published the ticket prices for 2014," Servia told the Reuters news agency of the current situation. He later added: "We have done 23 years of Formula 1 and our objective is to do another 23 years."

The Valencia street circuit disappeared from this year's Formula 1 calendar after hosting five European Grands Prix, with a lack of finances cited as the key factor. Ecclestone has also been eager for just one event to take place in Spain.

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