Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • In Alonso Ferrari has the best

    Millionaire Alonso 'a bargain' for Ferrari

  • F1 awaits Red Bull rule clarification for Hungary
  • Marko accuses FIA of passing rule 'double standard'
  • 'Realistic' Sauber targets F1 giant Mercedes
  • Nurburgring 'not annoyed' by Ecclestone snub
  • Toto Wolff Becomes an Executive Director of Williams Grand Prix
  • Whitmarsh hoping F1 cuts ‘inner frictions’
  • Brawn: We’ll work hard to improve Mercedes

Millionaire Alonso 'a bargain' for Ferrari
(GMM) Fernando Alonso is F1's highest paid driver, and he's worth every penny.

That is the view of Brazilian correspondent Livio Oricchio, who said after Hockenheim that the Spaniard's estimated EUR 25 million salary is "a bargain" for Ferrari.

Another observer told the Times newspaper: "Whatever Ferrari are paying him, it is not enough."

Former Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari told El Mundo: "If you're a team manager, you want a driver who is fast consistently, adding many points and committing few errors.

"That is exactly what Ferrari has in Alonso."

Alonso, the only driver with three wins to his name in 2012, is now so far ahead of the field that even if he stayed at home instead of racing in Hungary this weekend, he would return even after the long August break with a healthy lead.

Niki Lauda, who interviewed the 30-year-old on the podium at Hockenheim, said he thinks Alonso's latest win was "a provisional decision" in the 2012 world championship.

"He is doing a flawless job so far and he's not going to forget how he's done it in the second half of the season," the triple world champion told Die Welt newspaper.

F1 legend Lauda insists it will be a "difficult task" for any of Alonso's pursuers – chiefly the Red Bull and McLaren drivers – to beat him now.

"We are talking about an absolutely extraordinary driver," former Ferrari driver Patrick Tambay told France's RMC Sport.

"He was opportunistic with a less efficient car at the beginning of the season, and always getting the points or even the win when he could.

"He is exceptional at motivating the team, and being consistent in always scoring points at every race, even when it's just a few points, he still collects them," he added.

Jenson Button, buoyed by McLaren's return to form in Germany, acknowledged that he needs to start stringing race wins together in order to get back in the title hunt.

He also warned Alonso that things could "easily turn around for him but he is doing a great job and he deserves to be where he is".

But Alex Wurz, a former driver and now commentator for Austrian ORF television, agrees with Lauda that Hockenheim was a "preliminary decision" for the 2012 outcome.

"Ferrari have caught up with the car, so that on the bad days they are losing far fewer points than they were, and they have Alonso who at the moment is in perfect form and putting the team in a good mood," he said.

"In this respect," added Wurz, "the points lead that Alonso has now is definitely worth a lot."

Italy's sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport insisted: "Ferrari is now in a position to dominate the world championship."

"Alonso has never been so strong," agreed Tuttosport.

F1 awaits Red Bull rule clarification for Hungary
(GMM) F1 insiders are expecting the FIA to clamp down on Red Bull's clever engine mapping that has been likened to a form of legal traction control.

Technical directors met on Monday to discuss the situation, triggered by the stewards' admission at Hockenheim that they were powerless to ban the system despite not accepting "all the arguments" put forward by the team.

Insiders therefore expect a rules clarification, probably on the Wednesday or Thursday ahead of this weekend's Hungarian grand prix.

"Clearly the FIA is frustrated by it," McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh said, "so I think it will be better for there to be clarity and to stop doing it in the future."

Joan Villadelprat, a veteran F1 engineer who now writes a column for El Pais newspaper, explained: "In F1 the regulations are very strict in some respects, and in others there is some flexibility."

Even Christian Horner, the Red Bull boss, indicated a rule tweak is likely.

"The (current) regulations are clear, so there could well be further technical directives that are designed to try and further clarify those regulations," he said.

Marko accuses FIA of passing rule 'double standard'
(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko has accused the FIA of sometimes using a "double standard" when it comes to dishing out penalties.

Sebastian Vettel on Sunday was demoted from second at the flag to fifth in the classification after passing Jenson Button whilst off the circuit at Hockenheim.

Marko, Red Bull's motor racing consultant, insists his driver did nothing wrong.

"The whole situation was triggered by Button, who left Sebastian no room and pushed him out," the Austrian told Servus TV.

"Sebastian had to move out to avoid a collision."

Many pundits likened Vettel's move to Nico Rosberg's overtaking antics in Bahrain, for which the German escaped penalty.

Marko pointed out that "the defendant" is often given "the benefit of the doubt".

"That wasn't the case now (for Vettel)," he said. "There is a bad aftertaste. There is a double standard."

Unfortunately for Marko, most paddock residents do not agree with him, including Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg who said Vettel's move was "not right".

"The rules are very specific," ORF commentator Alex Wurz agreed. "You can leave the track with all four wheels as long as you have no advantage."

Former Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari added: "I think Vettel's overtaking was totally illegal.

"He was clearly outside the boundaries of the track."

'Realistic' Sauber targets F1 giant Mercedes
(GMM) Sauber has set its sights on chasing down Mercedes.

Team boss Peter Sauber, however, admitted the task will be no mean feat.

With half of the 2012 season now gone, the Hinwil based team is sixth in the constructors' standings, a healthy haul at Hockenheim bringing Sauber within 25 points of Mercedes.

"It doesn't matter who is ahead of us, we need to always focus on attacking this opponent," Sauber told the Swiss newspaper Blick.

But he acknowledged: "We are realistic and know that Mercedes is a big adversary for a small private team."

Blick said Mercedes' driver duo of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg are paid a combined EUR 30 million approximately, compared to the no more than 2 million apiece earned by Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez.

Last year, Sauber finished the world championship in seventh place, three places and almost 100 points behind Mercedes.

Nurburgring 'not annoyed' by Ecclestone snub
(GMM) Nurburgring officials might be forgiven for feeling "annoyed" after being stood up at the weekend by Bernie Ecclestone.

Despite the Nurburgring entering an insolvency process, bosses Jorg Lindner and Kai Richter took the time and expense to travel to Hockenheim, specifically to meet with Ecclestone and discuss their circuit's crisis.

"They waited and waited, but Bernie did not come," revealed the Suddeutsche newspaper.

Media reports speculated that the F1 chief executive stayed away for fear German prosecutors would order his arrest as they push forward with a bribery investigation.

"We are not annoyed," a spokesman for the Nurburgring told DPA news agency.

"We are in contact in other ways (with Ecclestone) regarding formula one at the Nurburgring in 2013."

Already convicted and jailed for receiving Ecclestone's bribes is the former F1 banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, whose lawyer Daniel Amelung says 81-year-old Briton Ecclestone cannot hide forever.

"I wonder how in the future he can fulfill his duties in Germany, in Europe, indeed in the entire world if the prosecutor should apply for an international arrest warrant," he told Bild newspaper.

Ecclestone has been unavailable for comment.

Toto Wolff Becomes an Executive Director of Williams Grand Prix
Today it has been announced that Toto Wolff will become an Executive Director of Williams Grand Prix Holdings PLC with immediate effect, stepping up his role within the company from that of Non-Executive Director. In his new role Toto will assist and support Sir Frank Williams in his continuing position as Team Principal.

As a shareholder in and Executive Director of Williams Grand Prix Holdings PLC, Toto will work closely with Sir Frank Williams, each being a long term and committed shareholder of the business.

Sir Frank Williams, said: “Toto’s new role, working closely alongside myself, is about Williams looking forward and managing the successful running of the company. I am looking forward to our new working relationship and I have every belief that this partnership will help take Williams F1 from strength to strength."

Toto Wolff, said: “It’s a great honor for me to be assisting and supporting Sir Frank in his role as Team Principal at Williams. I have been a shareholder in the business since 2009 and I am really looking forward to being able to take my responsibilities to a new level. I know that together we will work tirelessly to make the Group and team as successful as it can be."

Whitmarsh hoping F1 cuts ‘inner frictions’
Martin Whitmarsh hopes common sense prevails as the latest version of the Concorde Agreement is signed. Based on past experiences, the McLaren head believes Formula 1 has suffered as certain parties struggled to find moral high ground, but this year is optimistic that the teams, FIA and Bernie Ecclestone can work together harmoniously.

The Concorde Agreement – which is to be updated for 2013 – is the document commercially binding F1’s teams to the FIA, it’s governing body, and Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula One Group, commercial rights holder which manages issues such as television revenues.

“Well, my fear is that at the moment the deal hasn’t been done and therefore it adds some volatility to the situation," Whitmarsh, who became McLaren Team Principal for 2009, explained to the official F1 website.

“At times Formula One has lost opportunities because of inner frictions. We create dramas out here between us rather than saying, ‘Hey, this is a fantastic sport, a world sport, and we should all work together and point in the same direction!’ When Bernie says we have to make this sport a success in America then we all line up saying, ‘Yes, let’s do it!’ But we lose too much on the way to this ‘yes’."

Part of the disagreement relates to Ferrari, which traditionally receives a larger chunk of the TV revenues as it is the only team to have competed in the sport since the World Championship began in 1950. Over recent months, companies such as Mercedes-Benz have allegedly attempted to lower this figure and raise their own benefits.

“I have a very good relationship with Ferrari – I hope I have a very good relationship with Ferrari!" Whitmarsh jokes. “We’ve known them for 30 years now and have been fighting them on the track, in the pit lane, in the paddock, in FIA meetings, in court – everywhere. I respect that Ferrari is the biggest brand in F1. Period. And for McLaren to say that is not something that comes easy and has been said too often before. But it’s a fact.

“The second largest brand in Formula 1 is McLaren. Brand-wise, we are number two. Maybe in 50 years we will be bigger than Ferrari, but at the moment I respect what they represent. Of course we want to beat each other – that will never change as it is the nature of the sport – but consent should be possible."

Brawn: We’ll work hard to improve Mercedes
After the German Grand Prix, Mercedes confessed that their car is simply not quick enough to challenge Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren for Grand Prix victories. Team Principal Ross Brawn admits that the upcoming summer break will be a vital time for the Brackley-based team, but that little will change between Hockenheim and Budapest.

Back-to-back races bookend the summer break, which features four non-F1 weekends in the month of August and precedes the Belgian and Italians Grands Prix in September. During that time, all team factories must be closed for the period of a fortnight.

“After our performance peaks and podium achievements in China, Monaco and Valencia, the last month has been tougher and we have not achieved the results that we would have wanted," Brawn admits, with the squad having picked up just 15 percent of the points on offer from the last two races at Silverstone and Hockenheim.

“There is a limited amount of work that can be done between back-to-back races but we will work hard to find the necessary improvements…it would be a nice reward to have a strong weekend there before a well-deserved mid-season break for the team."

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