Latest F1 news in brief – Monday (Updated)

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Ross Brawn (L)

    British bank sells Marussia team stake

  • Prost wrong about 'emotional' diagnosis – Grosjean
  • Rosberg questions Brawn departure reports
  • Allergy almost sidelined Raikkonen in Bahrain
  • Alonso would have challenged Vettel – Barrichello
  • McLaren tells Perez to keep 'spark' firing
  • Failing tires 'too much' says Massa
  • Mercedes to look for W04 cure after wilting in searing Bahrain GP heat New
  • McLaren will make Jenson Button and Sergio Perez talk New
  • Bahrain looks long term with Formula One race New
  • Red Bull teams still unhappy with Pirelli New

British bank sells Marussia team stake
(GMM) Lloyds, the part government-owned British bank, has sold its stake in the F1 team Marussia.

F1 business journalist Christian Sylt said the bank's private equity division LDC decided to sell its 25.3pc stake due to huge losses and the team's lack of results.

"LDC has sold its minority shareholding in the Marussia F1 team to (Russian supercar maker) Marussia," a spokesman confirmed to the Telegraph.

The spokesman said the team will continue to have a loan from LDC.

Prost wrong about 'emotional' diagnosis – Grosjean
(GMM) Romain Grosjean has hit back at Alain Prost, after the quadruple world champion said the Lotus driver's lack of pace in 2013 was due to his "emotionally difficult situation".

"I haven't seen him (Prost) this year," Grosjean said, after putting his early-season troubles behind him with a podium in Bahrain.

"I have a deep respect for what he did but I think it's easy to speak when you are not here," the 27-year-old added.

Grosjean struggled with a mysterious problem in Australia, Malaysia and China, leading Lotus to wipe the slate clean with a brand new chassis for the Swiss-born Frenchman in Bahrain.

"We have realized what was wrong," he told France's RMC Sport. "There was nothing mechanically broken.

"Honestly, I can't tell you what it was because it's confidential, but I said on the radio on Saturday morning 'This is day and night — this is the car I love'.

"I had asked myself whether it was me, or the tires, or the car, but in the end it was neither one nor the other, but a combination very difficult to detect."

Team boss Eric Boullier backed Grosjean's explanation.

"Well, we found a lot of details that had not been working well in Romain's car," he is quoted by Speed Week.

"It's nice to see him smiling again."

Finally, Grosjean dismissed Prost's diagnosis that his recent struggles had a psychological cause.

"I think that the fact that you're able to come back from a very difficult situation proves that I think he was wrong," he said.

Rosberg questions Brawn departure reports
(GMM) Nico Rosberg has played down suggestions Ross Brawn is on the road to the exit door at Mercedes.

Earlier, it was believed Paddy Lowe's McLaren 'gardening leave' was because he was shaping up to replace Brawn as Mercedes' team boss, probably in 2014.

But in the wake of better results for the Brackley based team, and strong backing by new driver Lewis Hamilton, it has been rumored 58-year-old Briton Brawn's job now appears safer.

Nico Rosberg had a tough race in Bahrain, finishing just ninth, but 24 hours earlier he was grinning ear-to-ear after qualifying on pole.

A week earlier, it was Hamilton on pole and the podium in China.

Asked if the atmosphere in the team is strained now that Brawn appears destined to leave, German Rosberg told Die Welt newspaper: "That's what you say.

"I know nothing about that," added the German, who was also asked about Lowe's certain appointment.

"So why should I assume that he (Brawn) will not be here anymore after the season?" said Rosberg.

The 27-year-old did admit, however, that "the joy of the pole is gone" after a race struggling with Pirelli tire wear in Bahrain.

"On our own power, we are, I believe, not yet capable of winning," said Rosberg. "But all of us believe that we will get there."

Allergy almost sidelined Raikkonen in Bahrain
(GMM) He ultimately finished second, but Kimi Raikkonen was almost not well enough to contest Sunday's Bahrain grand prix.

Finnish sources MTV3 and Turun Sanomat report that the Lotus driver was late for the pre-race driver parade because he was suffering from an allergic reaction.

"He gets it 3 or 4 times a year," the 2007 world champion's trainer Mark Arnall admitted.

"We have no idea where it came from just before the race, but it affects mainly his skin, and not so much his eyes."

Arnall said Raikkonen was treated with antihistamines.

Lotus engineer Alan Permane said: "Considering he (Raikkonen) was suffering before he started the race, it was a very impressive performance indeed."

Alonso would have challenged Vettel – Barrichello
(GMM) Fernando Alonso would have fought for victory in Bahrain, according to veteran former driver Rubens Barrichello.

Before the race began, Mercedes' Niki Lauda was asked to name the likely winner.

"Fernando Alonso," he answered, despite the fact Mercedes' own Nico Rosberg was starting from pole. "We have to be realistic," the Austrian legend added.

The Spaniard's charge, however, was thwarted by a failing DRS rear wing flap, which had to be manually closed by Ferrari's mechanics during a pitstop.

It then flipped open again, forcing yet another pitstop and ruining his victory chances.

"If Alonso had not had the problem with the DRS, I'm sure he would have fought with (Sebastian) Vettel for the victory," Barrichello, in Bahrain as a co-commentator for Brazilian television Globo, said.

Earlier in the weekend, the Brazilian had watched the action from the middle of the Sakhir layout, and named the Ferrari as among the very best cars in 2013.

"It is a wealth of data that leads me to say that Alonso would have fought with Vettel," the 40-year-old insisted.

"The Ferrari is a great car, even with the DRS open, when Alonso lost just a second per lap," added Barrichello.

McLaren tells Perez to keep 'spark' firing
(GMM) McLaren has urged Sergio Perez to keep up his fighting spirit, despite rebuking the Mexican for pushing "over the limit" in his battle with teammate Jenson Button in Bahrain.

Reports say team boss Martin Whitmarsh had firm words with the 23-year-old after the Bahrain race, following Button's depiction of their clashes as "dangerous" and "dirty".

But just a week ago, in China, Whitmarsh had accused struggling Perez of being "too polite" in wheel-to-wheel duels, urging him to use his "elbows" in future.

"I don't want to curb Checo's passion and spark, because that's what got him past Alonso and Webber," Whitmarsh said.

"And even if he knows that he pissed off his teammate, I don't suppose that will keep him awake tonight."

Earlier, Perez admitted the early pressure of being a McLaren driver in the spotlight, versus racing with Sauber in 2011 and 2012, was palpable.

His predecessor at the great British team, Lewis Hamilton, admitted he has noticed the strain on Perez.

"There is a lot of pressure when you are in such a strong and powerful team like that," said Hamilton. "It's not easy.

"Just as it is here (at Mercedes). The team relies heavily on you, on just those two drivers to pull those results out and if you don't you feel it.

"He looks like an individual who feels it," he added.

Failing tires 'too much' says Massa
(GMM) A new problem could be emerging for Pirelli, as the mere safety of its already controversial 2013 tires is now called into question.

The occurrence of tire failures – or delaminations – appears to be on the rise this season, amid already widespread criticism of the heavily-degrading Pirellis.

"I've never had two problems (failures) with tires in one race. I don't know what it is, but it's too much," Ferrari's Felipe Massa is quoted as saying by Sky Italia after the Bahrain race.

"Maybe there was debris on the track, but I didn't feel any contact," he added.

Pirelli chief Paul Hembery said the Italian marque's engineers had identified "cuts" on the failed tire, "and we're currently trying to find out what caused those cuts".

But Massa told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport that his first problem was caused "probably by delamination of the tread, like (Lewis) Hamilton in practice".

One theory doing the rounds is that Pirelli's extreme, 'show'-approach to degradation in 2013 has compromised the basic safety of the tires.

"It's hard to say," Massa responded, "it hasn't happened to me before, and we've already had a few races this year, so no.

"But we do need to understand what happened and then make sure we are putting any complaining in the right direction."

Mercedes to look for W04 cure after wilting in searing Bahrain GP heat
Mercedes have made it a priority to improve their W04's performance in hot conditions after both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton struggled badly for pace in the first stint of Sunday's Bahrain GP.

With track temperatures at Sakhir's desert venue pushing a high of 42 degrees in time for the 3pm local start time, Rosberg plummeted from pole to fourth place inside six laps while team-mate Hamilton ran only 11th prior to the onset of the first round of pitstops.

But as temperatures began to drop gradually into the late afternoon Hamilton's race in particular picked up from his third stint onwards – the Briton ultimately passing Mark Webber on the first lap for fifth – although Rosberg's dispiriting afternoon continued as he made four pitstops en-route to ninth.

Team Principal Brawn concedes the W04's pace in the opening stint was a cause for concern and must be improved for when they're faced with high ambient temperatures again.

"We struggled badly in the early part of the race when the track temperatures were at their highest," Brawn said.

"This is an issue we have to address and we will continue working on solutions to improve our performance in this area.

"In the second half of the race, as the track temperatures cooled somewhat, our pace was not bad – particularly with Lewis.

"Lewis and Nico did as good a job as possible with the car we had this afternoon but it was a case of damage limitation for both of them."

Dealing with rear tire degradation has been a long-time problem for Mercedes and Brawn added: "We must make it a priority to cope better with elevated temperatures: the tires are the same for everybody and we are not performing as well as our competitors in these conditions." Sky Sports

McLaren will make Jenson Button and Sergio Perez talk
Martin Whitmarsh says McLaren will get its two drivers to sit down and talk about their actions during the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Jenson Button accused Sergio Perez of being "dirty" during their on-track battle at Sakhir, while Perez admitted he was "too aggressive" but said Button was just as guilty. Whitmarsh said after the race that he would ensure the drivers talk it over due to "some tension" between them, but added such a situation was part of not issuing team orders.

"Jenson's a grown-up and he'll deal with it," Whitmarsh said. "We'll probably get the two together and have a chat to them and let them talk amongst themselves. What happened there hurt both of them in a race to a degree, but that happens if you're going to let your drivers race. You can't suddenly change your mind on lap 38 and go 'Sorry guys, I didn't mean it', you've got to let it happen.

"There's some tension, but Checo knows what he did and I think with Jenson the great thing is he's a grown-up. If he's been beaten by his team-mate and he's happy I'd be concerned, but I'm not concerned that he feels like he does because that's how he should do, but he'll get over it."

Whitmarsh clarified that McLaren would continue to let its drivers race and feels that ultimately Perez was showing encouraging signs during the fight.

"If you call a team order the guy behind is always going to be aggrieved and he's trying hard so why should we do that to him? So, it cost us time in the race and it could have cost us a lot more; a bigger calamity than that otherwise I think we would have been comfortably in front of the Mercs but that's how we go motor racing, I don't think there's a surprise there. It was a little bit on the edge of what they should have been doing to each other but I think there was no doubt that they both wanted to get the place.

"He beat a lot of cars fair and square. People talking about Sergio being a bit too polite are probably not going to rate those headlines this evening. He's young and he wanted to push and I was fine with it but hitting your team-mate is a more difficult to forgive offence; you don't do that. He's young, he's learning and he's fighting and that's fine with me."

Confirming he had spoken to Perez soon after the race, Whitmarsh added: "I gave him my view on it. His response was 'Yes, you're right, I was s****ing myself at the time!'"

Bahrain looks long term with Formula One race
Formula One left Bahrain on Monday with commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone talking of a five-year extension to the race contract and the possibility of switching it to the start of the season next year.

"I feel they do a super job and we're more than happy to give them a new contract for five years. I don't see any problems," the 82-year-old billionaire told Reuters at the Sakhir circuit.

Bahrain is the most controversial race on the calendar due to concerns about alleged human rights abuses after a bloody crackdown on a 2011 anti-government uprising in the tiny Gulf kingdom.

The race was cancelled in 2011 but the last two have proceeded without incident, despite regular protests and clashes between police and demonstrators in mainly Shi'ite villages far removed from the circuit and organisers are planning for the long term. The current contract runs to 2016.

"We're committed to motorsports, and F1 especially," said Bahrain International Circuit chairman Zayed Alzayani after Sunday's race. "We were the first race in the Middle East and we call ourselves the home of motorsport in the Middle East.

"We truly believe that in every sense of those words, so we are here for the long term … maybe we can sign something this year.

"We had a race last year, and we had a race just finished and we will have a race for the years to come," he added. "We are now developing the grassroots karting and an academy of open wheel racing to look to the future."

Australia currently hosts the current season-opener with a highly popular race in Melbourne, while Bahrain is the fourth of 19 races this year.

It is no longer the sole race in the Middle East, with Abu Dhabi's day-to-night grand prix under the Yas Marina floodlights becoming a more popular and glamorous destination with many sponsors towards the end of the year.

Bahrain has twice before hosted the opening round and officials have made no secret of their desire to return to the coveted slot, with its higher profile for a worldwide television audience.

Ecclestone has been supportive of the idea, despite some tongue-in-cheek comments at the weekend suggesting that the Bahrain authorities had been "stupid in a lot of ways" to host the race because of the platform it gave to opponents.

"It's on the table," said Alzayani of the date change.

"For us, we're ready any day of the year, but we will have to see how it fits with logistics, other dates, other countries hosting and if there are conflicts with any other events they may have.

"We've had the first race before, and by July or August we will get a better picture as to where we will lie on next year's calendar."

Bahrain could be attractive logistically to teams because they would be able to test at the circuit in dry conditions before the start of the season and leave equipment in place. Indian Express

Red Bull teams still unhappy with Pirelli
Despite claiming a dominant victory in Bahrain, Christian Horner says his Red Bull outfit still wants Pirelli to change their tires.

Sebastian Vettel became the first double winner of 2013 when he took the checkered flag in Bahrain to add his Malaysian triumph.

His victory, though, has done little to quiet Red Bull's calls for Pirelli to change their tires, which suffer from high degradation.

Asked by Autosport whether Red Bull were 'happy' with the Pirellis after their Bahrain win, Horner said: "No, I think the tires are still too on an edge.

"Needing to four-stop in a race is I think a bit too extreme.

"There are other teams that look like they have bigger issues than Red Bull with their tires, but you need to speak to them to ask their opinion.

"But I do feel the tires are on an edge and just need to come back a little bit."

The team boss said that Red Bull had yet to get a handle on the Pirelli tires, adding that Vettel's dominance was only because the team had managed to find the sweet spot for one race.

"These tires are very complex and we got it just right here.

"The strategy worked, the strategy from qualifying worked in conserving tires for the race, and Seb had plenty in hand.

"When you're in the window with the balance with these tires, then you can have a dominant display.

"But that window is very, very fine and if you're outside of it then you can be four or five-stopping." Planet F1

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