Latest F1 news in brief – Wednesday

UPDATE Updates shown in red below.


  • Ecclestone not happy

    Ecclestone unhappy with Bahrain's 'UniF1ied' slogan

  • Raikkonen can win second title in 2012 – Salo
  • Pirelli job 'not an option' for Sutil
  • Webber helps fans get live coverage in Aus
  • Massa 'good' driver in 'very bad' Ferrari – Leme
  • Haug disagrees with Schumacher's Pirelli blast
  • HRT only team to miss Mugello test New
  • Reports question Bahrain spectator figures New

Ecclestone unhappy with Bahrain's 'UniF1ied' slogan
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has revealed he was not happy Bahrain organizers used the acronym 'F1' in its political slogan for last weekend's race.

The F1 chief executive was highly supportive of the island Kingdom's intensely controversial return to the sport's calendar, insisting Bahrain will retain its grand prix "forever".

But when asked about the banners around the Sakhir circuit and the island Kingdom that read 'UniF1ed', 81-year-old Ecclestone admitted to the Mirror: "We never put it there.

"We told them to take it down, not to use it. I saw other things, not like that."

But Sakhir circuit chief Zayed Alzayani wore a cap bearing the slogan throughout the grand prix weekend, even when in Ecclestone's company.

Briton Ecclestone, however, denied the Bahrain slogan only intensified the opposition's anger.

"Before they started using that slogan there was trouble about F1," he insisted.

"People make excuses but there are only two sports where politics come into it; us and the Olympics because the profile is big enough.

"There was a big golf match in Bahrain before F1 arrived and there was no problems there.

"We are not here to tell people how to run their country."

Ecclestone, however, was angry with some of F1's British journalists in Bahrain, following their harsh criticism of the decision to push ahead with the race.

"I saw Bernie get angry in the press room with some British journalists," revealed O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper correspondent Livio Oricchio.

"I had never seen him that angry."

Raikkonen can win second title in 2012 – Salo
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen can add a second title to his tally in 2012.

That is the claim of the 2007 world champion's countryman Mika Salo, who now commentates on Finnish television MTV3.

In the fourth race of Raikkonen's return to F1 from rallying, the 32-year-old last weekend challenged Sebastian Vettel for victory in Bahrain, finishing second for Lotus.

Five years after his title with Ferrari, he is 19 points from the head of the 2012 drivers' championship.

"The most consistent team has been Lotus," former grand prix driver Salo said. "They've been fast at every circuit so far.

"In that sense, Kimi's situation looks very good. I would not exclude it at all that he will be fighting at the very end of the championship, if Lotus is able to maintain the pace of development."

It is on Salo's final point that Lotus' 2012 season will really be made.

"They (as Renault) also began the previous season just as well, but soon after they were nowhere," observed the Swiss commentator Marc Surer, speaking on Austrian television Servus TV.

"So the real question is 'Do they have the resources to develop the car and stay where they are now?'"

Even if Lotus' challenge fades, the future for Raikkonen – who has surprised some experts with his re-adaptation to F1 after two years of rallying – is bright, Surer insisted.

"I think he has shown everyone that he is still able to do just what he was doing before (leaving F1)," he said.

"He is a lot younger than Schumacher, and if you look at the past ten years, he is probably one of the best talents that we have seen in F1."

Surer said he could therefore imagine Raikkonen leaving Lotus and returning to a 'top' team, but he wouldn't know which one to recommend.

"Everything is so balanced this year that it's impossible to pick a car that he could win the championship in."

Pirelli job 'not an option' for Sutil
(GMM) Becoming Pirelli's test driver was "not an option" for Adrian Sutil, the out-of-work F1 driver has admitted.

"Right now I'm waiting," the former Force India driver told Eurosport Deutschland.

German Sutil, 29, was an established F1 driver until 2011, when he became embroiled in a legal battle with Lotus team executive Eric Lux over an assault.

He has been left without a seat for 2012, causing many to wonder why he – and not the less experienced Jaime Alguersuari – was not selected to test with F1's official tire supplier Pirelli.

"A collaboration with Pirelli didn't work out, but I was never in contact with them directly," Sutil said. "It wasn't an option."

He also didn't find a test or reserve seat with a team.

"The fact that there is hardly any testing, of course, is not very helpful," Sutil insisted.

He has been linked with struggling Felipe Massa's Ferrari seat.

"I do have to hope," admitted Sutil, "that either some drivers don't do well, or a cockpit becomes available. That is my chance.

"That drivers are changed is just a part of formula one," added Sutil.

"My plan is to wait and see if there is a possibility. If not, then of course you have to give serious thought about what to do in the future — in 2013."

Webber helps fans get live coverage in Aus
(GMM) Australian F1 fans are this week rejoicing in local hero Mark Webber even more than usual.

Pressure applied by the Red Bull driver was reportedly instrumental in returning the sport to the live television airways in Australian capital cities.

Fans were outraged with Australian broadcaster Ten's decision to take formula one from its high definition channel One, which in turn meant viewers in Perth and Adelaide had no live coverage at all.

Angry fans bombarded Ten's Facebook and Twitter pages with criticism abuse, and urged Webber to help their cause.

Webber obliged.

"Come on (Ten), I hear our great Australian motor sport fans are not happy with rescheduling of timings of the GPs," he wrote on Twitter.

"Let's go live."

Within an hour, Ten reinstated Perth and Adelaide's live broadcasts — and in full HD.

"The next time Ten wants to tangle with its motor sport audience, perhaps they should ask Mark Webber first," read a report at The Australian newspaper.

Massa 'good' driver in 'very bad' Ferrari – Leme
Aug.25 (GMM) Well-known Brazilian commentator Reginaldo Leme has defended Felipe Massa, amid the Ferrari driver's career crisis.

Massa's Ferrari seat hangs in the balance, and according to his boss Stefano Domenicali, he will have to improve in order to simply stay on the F1 grid with any team next year.

But Leme has pointed the finger of blame at Ferrari's struggling F2012 car.

"It is very difficult to give an explanation for any driver's bad phase," Leme acknowledged on the Redacao Sportv program.

"The car is very bad. The fact that Alonso is always scoring (points) just shows that the Spaniard is the best driver of this generation.

"No other driver, however good, could get anything out of that car.

"I think that's what's happening with Massa," said Leme.

Massa will drive Ferrari's heavily updated Barcelona-spec car at the Mugello test next Wednesday, while Alonso will drive on Tuesday and Thursday.

Turning his attention to the 2012 championship, meanwhile, Reginaldo Leme said consistency is more important than ever before, with four separate teams having won races so far.

"Look at Webber — he has been fourth four times and is third in the championship. Hamilton has been third three times and is right in contention."

Haug disagrees with Schumacher's Pirelli blast
(GMM) He does not agree with the seven time world champion, but Norbert Haug insists he can understand Michael Schumacher's criticism of the current generation of Pirelli tire.

Mercedes driver Schumacher slammed F1's official supplier after last Sunday's Bahrain grand prix, saying the 2012 tires degrade so quickly that they are not good enough for the pinnacle of motor racing.

"We drive around like the safety car. It is not a satisfying situation," he said.

Schumacher's boss Haug, however, does not fully agree, insisting Pirelli has contributed to a "very great competition" in 2012 featuring "very good races".

"Of course, for a driver, there is always a certain frustration when you think you could be going faster, but you are having to be careful," Haug told German reporters including Sport1.

"That's just the nature of the racer," he added.

Haug said Schumacher's comments also prove that Mercedes does not muzzle its drivers, who may freely express their personal opinions.

HRT only team to miss Mugello test
(GMM) HRT has announced it will sit out next week's rare in-season formula one test at Mugello.

For the first time in years, the sport has relaxed slightly its strict testing ban in order to give teams the chance to run between grands prix.

The three-day session at Ferrari's Italian circuit will begin next Tuesday, during the three-week gap between Bahrain and Spain.

Struggling backmarkers HRT, however, will not be there, opting instead to be "completely focused" on relocating to its new Caja Magica headquarters in Madrid.

Every other team will be at Mugello, 30 kilometers from Florence — the first in-season test for four years.

26 drivers will be in action, as will a lot of update packages following F1's return from the hectic 'flyaway' season.

Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, Sauber, Marussia and Toro Rosso will use their regular race drivers.

Running regular racers and a tester will be Lotus (Jerome d'Ambrosio), Williams (Valtteri Bottas) and Force India (Jules Bianchi).

Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said Caterham is "using the opportunity to earn some money" by accepting the sponsorship of the Venezuelan Rodolfo Gonzalez.

McLaren has scheduled to run its testers Oliver Turvey and Gary Paffett, although Lewis Hamilton has indicated he might gatecrash the program in order to help solve the MP4-27's newfound tire problems.

Reports question Bahrain spectator figures
(GMM) A respected specialist publication has questioned the official spectator figures published by the organizers of Sunday's highly controversial Bahrain grand prix.

The Sakhir circuit said 28,000 paid for tickets to the country's first grand prix since 2010.

"It looked like fewer," said Reuters' Alan Baldwin.

The facility's capacity is 46,000.

In a summary piece by journalists Bianca Leper and Michael Schmidt, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport claimed the grandstands were so empty on Sunday "each driver could have shaken the hand of every spectator in the grandstand half an hour before the race".

Baldwin agreed: "When formula one drivers performed their usual parade around the circuit on the back of a flatbed truck ahead of the grand prix, they waved at rows of empty seats".

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