Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Moscow enjoys F1 spotlight on spare weekend
  • FIA clarifies defensive driving rules
  • McLaren must bounce back 'immediately' – Prost
  • Rene Arnoux tips first F1 wins for Grosjean
  • Stepney autobiography set for 2012 release
  • Williams denies Hill to be team boss
  • Ecclestone confirms Monza GP going ahead
  • Research shows world's biggest companies involved in F1
  • Fewer tire pitstops in 2012 – analysis
  • Success 'not automatic' after F1 breakthrough – Rosberg
  • No 'time pressure' for 2013 driver decision – Sauber

Moscow enjoys F1 spotlight on spare weekend
(GMM) 'Moscow' was the word on F1 fanatics' lips at the weekend.

On the last days off before the arduous Hockenheim-Hungary double header, Russia was the centre of the sport's attention.

Although the coastal resort city Sochi will host the first Russian grand prix in 2014, modern F1 cars and current drivers including Lewis Hamilton demonstrated their wares on a temporary street circuit around the Kremlin.

"I think Moscow has an opportunity, I hope, in the future to put on a street race," Briton Hamilton is quoted by Ria Novosti news agency.

Also in action for the Moscow City Racing event were Charles Pic (Marussia) and Ferrari tester Giancarlo Fisichella.

Moscow City Hall spokesman Vladimir Chernikov admitted he hopes it was a prelude to something more.

"Moscow really is ready to hold a formula one stage," he said.

Meanwhile, at Moscow's new F1 test-standard circuit Moscow Raceway, four time world champion Alain Prost said a street race in the Russian capital "could be possible".

"I know that Bernie (Ecclestone) and some constructors would love it," he said.

At Moscow Raceway, Red Bull's F1 car was demonstrated as the track made its race debut for a round of the Formula Renault 3.5 series.

Russian grand prix driver Vitaly Petrov, meanwhile, showed off the Caterham, and Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo was also there.

FIA clarifies defensive driving rules
(GMM) F1 drivers may use the entire width of the circuit to defend position during a grand prix.

FIA race director Charlie Whiting made the clarification in a note to teams, the French news agency AFP has reported.

The ruling follows several controversial incidents in 2012, including Nico Rosberg's defensive moves against Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso in Bahrain.

Whiting says moves like that, where the "full width" of the track is used, are acceptable so long as a "significant portion" of the chasing car is not alongside.

"For the avoidance of doubt," he wrote, "if any part of the front wing of the car attempting to pass is alongside the rear wheel of the car in front this will be deemed to be a significant portion."

McLaren must bounce back 'immediately' – Prost
(GMM) Time is running out for McLaren to bounce back from its 2012 slump, according to former team champion Alain Prost.

Despite looking a title favorite early this year, Jenson Button dropped badly off the pace and even former championship leader Lewis Hamilton bemoaned the MP4-27's flagging development after a bad British grand prix.

"If they don't come back immediately, from Hockenheim, the next race, I think it's going to be difficult," Frenchman Prost, 57, told the Ria Novosti news agency.

He said Red Bull and Ferrari are now the obvious favorites in 2012.

"It looks like they (McLaren) do not understand what is happening with the new tires, which is not good news," added Prost.

Another former multiple title winner, Niki Lauda, told the Daily Mirror that the slump is not Button and Hamilton's fault.

"They are both world champions and better than they were made to look at Silverstone," said the Austrian legend, who won his third title with McLaren in 1984.

He hailed Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, the current championship leader, as the "toughest" and "cleverest" driver in the field.

That will make it hard for the McLaren drivers, said Lauda.

"It's not the points difference that I'm talking about — it's not over for them, but even if they score big Alonso won't be far behind, so to reduce the gap is going to difficult," he added.

Swiss commentator Marc Surer, meanwhile, said he thinks Alonso is almost matched for speed by F1's reigning back-to-back champion Sebastian Vettel.

But where the Spaniard has an advantage is in keeping his emotions in check, he added.

"When they (emotions) come after the race, that's ok," he told the German broadcaster Sky. "Emotions in the cockpit, however, are dangerous, because then you make mistakes.

"I have to say that, of the two, Alonso is probably the cooler," said Surer.

Rene Arnoux tips first F1 wins for Grosjean
(GMM) Former grand prix winner Rene Arnoux has tipped his French countryman Romain Grosjean to win up to two races in 2012.

The Swiss-born Grosjean struggled in his abortive 2009 debut but has shone so far this season after returning to the sport with Lotus' new management.

"Grosjean has matured, he has a nice car, and he has done some great races," Arnoux, who won races in the 80s with Renault and Ferrari, is quoted by RMC.

"I hope it continues to go well and he wins one or two grands prix this year," he added.

But a win might be difficult for 26-year-old Grosjean this weekend at Hockenheim.

The Frenchman said in Lotus' official pre-race statement that he is hoping for "pole position, a win and the fastest lap! The perfect weekend!"

Pole, however, will be impossible for Grosjean in Germany.

It has emerged that Grosjean's black and gold E20 developed a gearbox problem on the very last lap at Silverstone.

"Unfortunately for Romain it means he'll take a five place grid penalty at Hockenheim," technical director James Allison confirmed.

"But he certainly showed at Silverstone that dropping down the order won't stop him challenging at the sharp end."

Grosjean has given himself a 7.5 out of 10 for his 2012 return to F1 so far.

"I'm a perfectionist in that I always want better, so I'm not 100 per cent happy because not 100 per cent has been right," he said.

Stepney autobiography set for 2012 release
(GMM) Nigel Stepney's almost certainly highly controversial account of the 'spygate' scandal looks set to be published late this year.

In the wake of the sacked and disgraced former Ferrari engineer's plans a few years ago to release an explosive autobiography, the publisher pulled out.

It was rumored at the time that Ferrari requested the book be withdrawn.

Stepney confirmed that his former publisher had been "put under pressure" by an unnamed party.

But he vowed to press on with his account of what happened amid the famous espionage scandal involving McLaren and Mike Coughlan back in 2007.

An official book description at Amazon said 'Red Mist' will include "an in-depth and honest account of the recent 'Stepneygate' saga in his own words."

The German-language Speed Week said it should hit the shelves in time for Christmas.

Williams denies Hill to be team boss
(GMM) Williams co-owner Toto Wolff has slammed rumors Damon Hill is being lined up to be the famous British team's new boss.

Chairman Adam Parr shocked the F1 world earlier this year by suddenly leaving the Oxfordshire based squad.

Founder and boss Sir Frank Williams, despite no longer sitting on his own team's board, has revealed he has assumed some of Parr's former duties.

And the next step in the saga was recent rumors that Hill, Williams' world champion of 1996, could now move into a management role.

Since stepping down as president of the Silverstone-owning British Racing Drivers' Club, the 51-year-old returned almost full-time to the paddock in 2012 as a television pundit for the broadcaster Sky.

But according to German-language Speed Week, Williams' Austrian shareholder Wolff slammed the Hill rumor.

"Who said that?" he told the journalist Gerhard Kuntschik.

Asked what truth there is to the gossip, Wolff added bluntly: "Nothing."

Ecclestone confirms Monza GP going ahead
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has moved to dismiss any lingering doubts about September's famous Italian grand prix.

Recently, we reported that local authorities were investigating the fabled circuit following problems at this year's World Superbike races.

La Gazzetta dello Sport said key officials including circuit director Enrico Ferrari were suspended, amid prosecutors' suspicions the organizers knew the track surface was inadequate.

Circuit operator Sias' Paolo Guaitamacchi said earlier this month: "Before the end of July we will correct the safety of the asphalt in the Parabolica.

"I have spoken with (Bernie) Ecclestone's closest collaborators, reassuring them that the organization of the Italian grand prix in September is definitely not in danger."

And La Gazzetta now quotes F1 chief executive Ecclestone as confirming: "There are no problems with the grand prix at Monza."

Research shows world's biggest companies involved in F1
(GMM) Almost half of the world's biggest 25 companies have been involved in formula one in the past five years.

And the new research by F1's industry monitor Formula Money said a third of the world's 100 top companies have in the same period been involved in F1 as sponsors, owners or investors.

They include three of the world's five biggest companies — Ferrari sponsor Shell, Exxon Mobil (McLaren) and former Chinese grand prix backer Sinopec.

Journalist Christian Sylt said oil companies and carmakers are "naturally drawn to F1 due to the obvious affinity between the sport and their businesses".

The banking industry is also attracted to F1 "by the networking opportunities offered by the sport", Sylt added.

The other top-25 companies involved in F1 recently are Toyota (8th), Red Bull and Lotus sponsor Total (11th), Toro Rosso supplier Volkswagen (13th), Caterham backer General Electric (16th), former Renault sponsor ING (17th), Samsung (22nd), ENI (23rd) and Mercedes owner Daimler (24th).

"The involvement of so many major companies is one of the factors that distinguishes F1 from other sports," continued Sylt.

American companies, like former Williams title sponsor AT-T, are also playing a big role, making up 17 per cent of the teams' sponsors — the highest of any nationality.

Fewer tire pitstops in 2012 – analysis
(GMM) Pirelli remains at the centre of the F1 'show', but a new analysis proves that the marque's tires in 2012 are less fragile than last year.

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said that following the pitstop frenzy of the Italian supplier's first season back on the grid, there has been "much less" tire degradation so far in 2012.

In 2010, for Bridgestone's last year in F1, the analysis said there were between one and two pitstops per driver — 304 in total over the first nine races.

That number blew out to 560 stops in the first nine races of 2011, but so far this season there have been only 466 tire pitstops.

An illustration of the changed situation is that, in 2011, there were 65 tire pitstops at Valencia. This year, there were 49.

And at Silverstone last year, there were 54 stops, compared to 43 earlier this month.

The situation could change yet again, with Pirelli already testing a new experimental harder compound that Paul Hembery says the supplier "may use in the future".

Journalist Michael Schmidt said: "The reason for the decline in pitstops is obvious — the teams and Pirelli have learned."

Success 'not automatic' after F1 breakthrough – Rosberg
(GMM) Nico Rosberg has taken no pleasure in proving Niki Lauda wrong.

After the German broke through this year for his first career victory in China, and Mercedes' first since the Brawn takeover, triple world champion Lauda assured Rosberg that his life would now be easier.

"Niki Lauda told me that the next victory is easy after the first one, but unfortunately that's not right," Rosberg, 27, said ahead of his home race at Hockenheim this weekend.

"It's not just automatic," he insisted.

Indeed, since winning from pole in Shanghai, Rosberg has qualified on the front row and finished on the podium only once apiece in the six subsequent races.

"Our performance has been up and down recently, ranging from podiums to lower points finishes," admitted team boss Ross Brawn.

"We need to work hard to improve our level of consistency and ability to challenge at the front of the field."

Indeed, the W03 struggled last time out at Silverstone: Rosberg failing to make the top ten in qualifying and teammate Michael Schumacher sliding from the second row of the grid to just seventh at the finish.

Rosberg said: "I think our car should suit this track (Hockenheim) much better than Silverstone.

"Hockenheim has long straights and short corners, which will be good for the silver arrow," he added.

No 'time pressure' for 2013 driver decision – Sauber
(GMM) Peter Sauber has revealed he does not feel rushed to commit to a driving duo for 2013.

With top five teams Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes and Lotus all now expected to keep their current lineups beyond this season, the impressive midfielder Sauber could in theory boast one of the paddock's hottest vacancies.

Sergio Perez and his sponsor Telmex look likely to keep their Ferrari ambitions in check for at least another season, but there is real pressure on Kamui Kobayashi, who has failed to match up at the wheel of the sister C31 so far.

The Japanese's latest faux pas was at Silverstone, when he bowled over his pit crew.

Blick newspaper reports that one of the mechanics will skip Hockenheim in order to have surgery on his injured thumb.

According to Bild newspaper, chief mechanic Urs Kuratle backed Kobayashi: "He's a really great guy. It just happens — it was a mistake."

However, behind the scenes, it is rumored that Sauber team management have been less than impressed with not only Kobayashi but also Perez at times in 2012.

Writing in Blick, Swiss correspondent Roger Benoit said the pair are "both hoping for a new contract, because they are not on the wish lists of other teams.

"And many drivers would run barefoot to Hinwil to drive the C31."

Regarding the 2013 lineup, Peter Sauber is quoted as saying: "We are not under time pressure."

Chief executive Monisha Kaltenborn added: "We have failed to score points this season several times and for a variety of reasons.

"In hindsight it doesn't help to pine for those points, as now we have to move forward. Plus we've got two strong drivers.

"Sergio has been on the podium twice this year, and Kamui has been able to shine with a fourth in qualifying and a fifth in a race.

"Both have a fastest race lap to their names," she continued.

"We have everything it takes to wind up the first half of the season in a positive way."

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