Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Williams garage Fire

    Ecclestone blames KERS 'thing' for Williams fire

  • Kovalainen tips Alonso to win 2012 title
  • 'Hacktivists' threaten F1 over Montreal protests
  • Williams title sponsor moves to Red Bull
  • Sauber hits out at error-prone Grosjean
  • Alguersuari reveals Italian earthquake fear
  • Barrichello earns $330k as Indy 500 'rookie'
  • Boullier jumps to Grosjean's defense
  • Small teams worried engine price to skyrocket New
  • Pirelli to test harder tire at Silverstone New
  • Perez not ruling out 2013 team switch New
  • Webber denies 'backing up' rivals for Vettel New

Ecclestone blames KERS 'thing' for Williams fire
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has admitted he is no fan of KERS.

Although investigations of the cause are ongoing, the F1 chief executive blamed the recent garage fire suffered by Williams after its Barcelona victory on the technology.

"I think the fire was a lot to do with that kinetic energy thing which sparked," Ecclestone is quoted by F1 business journalist Christian Sylt, according to

"It should never have been introduced. It's an expensive secret because nobody knows anything about it. The public don't know and don't care."

Ecclestone's comments come amid speculation of a potential split with the governing FIA over the next Concorde Agreement.

His friend Flavio Briatore admitted in Monaco that he is working on a set of alternate F1 regulations.

Ecclestone is also reportedly opposed to the V6 engine regulation change for 2014, with the new rules requiring cars to be powered only by KERS whilst in the pitlane.

"If the teams reduced the size of their motor homes or the team units they would need less trucks to take them there," the 81-year-old insisted.

"Mercedes has got I think 22 trucks so if they reduced two of those you wouldn't need to use electric motors in the pit lane. The trucks are bigger polluters than the cars.

"I'm happy that the teams want to preserve all of that for their sponsors and brand image but they shouldn't talk rubbish," Ecclestone charged.

Kovalainen tips Alonso to win 2012 title
(GMM) Heikki Kovalainen has tipped Fernando Alonso to win the topsy-turvy 2012 championship.

Alonso is just one of the six race winners after the opening six races of the season, but despite a difficult start for Ferrari the Spaniard is now leading the drivers' standings by 3 points.

"Alonso's lead … yes, he will take the championship this year," Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat quoted Caterham driver Kovalainen as saying.

"Whatever the special circumstances or the weather conditions, there is always a common variable, and that is Alonso being somewhere at the front," he said.

At the same time, Kovalainen agreed that the balance of power is proving otherwise impossible to predict.

"A good example is Monaco," said the Finn, "where McLaren is usually in charge, but suddenly they are average and Jenson Button was having to pass me.

"If the tires aren't working for you, it's finished," said Kovalainen.

Mika Salo, a former Ferrari and Sauber driver, also tipped Alonso to add a third title to his tally this year.

"Their car has improved considerably," he told the broadcaster MTV3, "and now even Massa is able to drive it well.

"The Red Bull guys (Vettel and Webber) are pretty close to Alonso in the championship," added Salo, "but in the long run they are fighting each other for points.

"Alonso has a teammate that will not take his points in the same way."

The dark horse, meanwhile, could be Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, despite his 17-point deficit.

In the last four races, no rival has scored more points than the Shanghai winner.

"This shows that we are fairly consistent," said the German, "and that the future looks pretty good for us."

'Hacktivists' threaten F1 over Montreal protests
(GMM) Internet terrorist group Anonymous is targeting F1 once again.

Last month, the 'hacktivists' aimed fire at the sport over the Bahrain issue, bringing down the official formula one and FIA websites.

Now, Anonymous is backing the protesting Montreal university students over the controversial 'Bill 78', a law that cracks down on their marches.

"Beginning on June 7 and running through race day on June 10, Anonymous will take down all the F1 websites, dump the servers and databases — and wreck anything else F1-related we can find on the internet," the group said in a statement.

The group also said spectators who buy tickets on the internet risk having their credit card details stolen.

Organizers of the Canadian grand prix did not comment.

Williams title sponsor moves to Red Bull
(GMM) Williams' former title sponsor AT&T has switched allegiance to reigning world champions Red Bull.

The American multinational telecom became Williams' naming backer in 2007, but left the Oxfordshire based team after its dire 2011 campaign.

Red Bull announced in Monaco that the company has now joined the Austrian energy drink-owned team as an official technical supplier.

"Red Bull Racing is excited to work with an innovative, global and reputable brand such as AT&T," said team boss Christian Horner.

Sauber hits out at error-prone Grosjean
(GMM) Romain Grosjean would not be the most welcome face in the Sauber motor home.

Recently after the Spanish grand prix, Swiss newspaper Blick quoted Sergio Perez as cursing "f***ing French!" after a collision with Lotus' Grosjean.

Then, at Monaco, Kamui Kobayashi had to retire with suspension damage after his spectacular high-flying crash at the first corner.

"Unfortunately it was Grosjean again," Peter Sauber thundered. "First Perez was the victim, now Kobayashi."

And those tangles were not reigning GP2 champion Grosjean's only mistakes so far in 2012, despite demonstrating otherwise strong pace in his second season since his abortive 2009 debut.

Team boss Eric Boullier insists he is being patient with the 26-year-old.

"He is still early in his career and therefore has the right to make mistakes," the Frenchman is quoted by L'Equipe sports newspaper.

"This is no excuse, but all the drivers around him have done thousands of kilometers of testing and many races. He is still in his first year and I think has done a pretty amazing job for a rookie."

Alguersuari reveals Italian earthquake fear
(GMM) Jaime Alguersuari was also caught up in the latest Italian earthquake that killed 15 people and forced Ferrari to send its employees home on Tuesday.

The former Toro Rosso driver told Spanish sports newspaper AS that he was near the epicenter of the magnitude-5.8 quake as he prepared to test a kart this week.

Asked if he is okay, Spaniard Alguersuari said: "Yes, everything's fine, but this morning at the hotel I had a hard time, I was really scared.

"I was in the shower and I just ran out. At first I wasn't worried because I'd experienced something similar in Japan, but soon I realized that everything was shaking and getting strong and that this was much worse.

"There was a point at which I kept thinking 'it's all over' — I thought the building was coming down. So I put on a towel and ran down to reception and into the street.

"It all lasted about two minutes and I realized that, yes, in a moment everything can change. It was an experience."

Barrichello earns $330k as Indy 500 'rookie'
(GMM) Rubens Barrichello earned more than US $330,000 in Sunday's Indy 500.

At the age of 40 and with an unprecedented 326 grands prix behind him, the famous Brazilian was the highest placed newcomer in the fabled American oval race.

It means he was crowned the official 'rookie of the year' title for his eleventh place finish, earning him $331,080 in prize money.

"My first oval experience, it was very different than anything I've done," said Barrichello.

"It's a pity that we didn't finish top ten but I can be proud of that for my first time out."

Winner Dario Franchitti's earnings were almost $2.5 million.

Barrichello's fellow grand prix winner Jean Alesi, however, went home empty handed, having been disqualified for lapping too slowly in his Lotus-powered IndyCar.

"It was frustrating but the (105pc) regulation is fair and I leave with a lot of respect for the Indy 500," said the 47-year-old Frenchman.

"I hope to return next year. I will start to prepare now."

Boullier jumps to Grosjean's defense
Eric Boullier admits "there is no excuse" for Romain Grosjean's accident in Monaco, but he believes it is important to cut the rookie some slack.

Grosjean started P4 on the grid in Monaco, but he made it three DNFs for the season after crashing out on the first lap following a collision with Michael Schumacher.

It has been the story of his season so far as he has showed plenty of promise during qualifying but mistakes here and there cost him during the races.

"With Romain, there is no excuse, but just one thing: all the drivers around him, they have done millions of miles of testing and many races before. He is still in his first year, so he has the right to do so [make mistakes]," Boullier is quoted as saying by Autosport.

"I think he is doing a pretty amazing job for a rookie driver and nobody on the grid today who started his career with no F1 testing and stepped into F1 has done as well as he is doing."

Small teams worried engine price to skyrocket
(GMM) F1's 'customer engine' teams are worried that the price of power is set to skyrocket.

According to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, teams like Force India and Sauber currently pay around EUR 10 million for their engine-plus-KERS packages.

That is reportedly set to increase to about 18 million when the turbo V6s debut in 2014.

"That is clearly too much," Sauber co-owner Monisha Kaltenborn is quoted as saying.

The magazine said Williams, Caterham, Toro Rosso, HRT and Marussia agree and have asked the FIA to impose a cost-cap for their 2014 packages.

"We have to ensure that, looking back ten years ago, we don't go back to a point where engines were so much more expensive," she added.

Pirelli to test harder tire at Silverstone
(GMM) Pirelli is preparing to test a harder-compound tire, as criticism of the 2012 'lottery' fires up.

The dilemma for F1's tire supplier is that it was specifically asked to spice up the show with heavily degrading tires, and the six different winners so far this season proves the Italian marque met the brief.

On the other hand, the purists are moaning that the unpredictability could now drive away the real fans.

"We think it's absolutely great when people are talking about us," motor sport director Paul Hembery is quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"But we don't want to be the focus of the conversation, just a part of it," said the Briton.

Hembery said he is confident that, as the season presses on, the engineers and drivers will become better at understanding the way the tires interact with the cars.

But Pirelli is nonetheless planning to test a harder compound tire, featuring less degradation, during Friday practice for next month's British grand prix.

Still, Hembery warns that more durability will attack the spectacle.

Referring to the processional Monaco race, he said: "You can see what happens when the tires last forever."

Perez not ruling out 2013 team switch
(GMM) Sergio Perez is refusing to rule out a change of teams.

The Mexican, however, has insisted that he is not about to switch to Ferrari during the 2012 season, despite strong speculation he is first in line for Felipe Massa's seat.

As for 2013, the door is open.

"In Malaysia," he told Germany's Auto Bild, "I lost the victory more than I won second place.

"If I could do that race again, I would win it," insisted Perez.

Once seen as a 'pay driver', Perez is now regarded as a potential winner with key connections; not only to Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim but as the cream of Ferrari's development program.

"There is a point in your career when you feel ready to fight against the best drivers in the best team. For me, this is the next logical step.

"I feel very comfortable here (Sauber), but I want to win races as soon as possible," he said.

And Perez admitted that Slim will play a role.

"We decide together what I do. I told him I would like to talk to him a little later in the season about my future and what options I have," he added.

Webber denies 'backing up' rivals for Vettel
(GMM) Mark Webber has dismissed claims he 'backed up' his rivals in Monaco so that Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel could catch up.

Australian Webber won Sunday's race in the Principality with the other podium challengers, Nico Rosberg, both within a chasing gap of less than a single second.

Next up was reigning back to back world champion Vettel.

But when contemplating the 'backing up' theory, Webber insisted in his BBC column: "That is absolute rubbish.

"You always get bitten on the bum when you get fancy. So you just don't try."

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