Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Ecclestone says F1 will return to Bahrain forever, but given the massive amount of empty seats, rest assured the race promoter is going bankrupt

    F1 to return to Bahrain 'forever' – Ecclestone

  • Ecclestone confirms Spanish hosts to alternate race
  • Lotus not sorry after skipping team order
  • Pirelli making F1 a 'show' or a 'lottery'?
  • 'The dead live longest' beams Marko after Bahrain
  • 'More treasure than deserved' with F2012 – Alonso

F1 to return to Bahrain 'forever' – Ecclestone
(GMM) The calamitous Bahrain grand prix saga has not jeopardized the island Kingdom's future on the F1 calendar.

That is the strident claim of Bernie Ecclestone, after the F1 chief executive and FIA president Jean Todt displayed rare unity as they insisted the country's civil and political problems would not affect the grand prix.

But amid the bubbling Bahrain saga, Ecclestone had suggested that Bahrain might face trouble when it comes to negotiating a new contract, with the existing agreement only set to extend for three more years.

However, when asked by Reuters if F1 is going to keep returning to Bahrain despite this year's troubles, Ecclestone insisted on Sunday before leaving the Persian Gulf: "Absolutely. Forever. No problem."

Like Todt, he even played down the damage done to F1's reputation this weekend.

"I think it's good because people talk about things, you know. You know what they say — there is no such thing as bad publicity," said Ecclestone.

In truth, reputation damage has undoubtedly been done. But Roger Benoit, the veteran correspondent for the Swiss newspaper Blick, admitted he is dismayed with how politics interfered with sport so strikingly this weekend.

"On all continents, somewhere, all hell is breaking loose. And as a formula one reporter, you're flying around this globe two or three times a year," he wrote.

"We go to countries that are politically explosive. Where human rights are violated, where poverty reigns.

"But we hardly talk about it — not in China, India, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore or Brazil. In 2014, we're going to Russia.

"Years ago, our circus happily danced around in apartheid South Africa, and the military dictatorship of Argentina.

"Formula one is pure entertainment. Detached from the problems of the world. But here, in Bahrain, every reporter entered the political field, whether he liked to or not," wrote Benoit.

So that is why Ecclestone is unapologetic, after championing the Bahrain grand prix.

"Because, basically, the problems they have in Bahrain have nothing to do with F1," the 81-year-old told El Pais newspaper.

"The relevant agencies gave the nod as far as security was concerned, and I think it is clear that they were not wrong."

He also sees no problem with F1 being used as a political tool.

"Governments want to have an F1 race for the same reason as they want the Olympics. We come to agreements with the promoters and, if that's good for the country, fine," said Ecclestone. (See related rumor)

Ecclestone confirms Spanish hosts to alternate race
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed that Barcelona and Valencia will, from next year, alternate a single annual Spanish grand prix race date.

Currently, the two venues have their own places on the formula one calendar.

The Germany-style alternating scheme had been floated as a potential solution also for Spain, given the promoters' financial struggles, and F1 chief executive Ecclestone's need to free up calendar space for new races.

"Under the circumstances, especially the current economic climate, the best solution we could find was that we alternate," Ecclestone told the El Pais newspaper when asked about Spain's two F1 hosts.

He is unapologetic about the push – mainly at the expense of the sport's European homeland – into new markets in the Far and Middle East.

"We are a world championship, and that means we have to be all over the planet," Ecclestone said. "We are not a European championship.

"We should be grateful about how far we can go."

Lotus not sorry after skipping team order
(GMM) Lotus did not consider employing team orders in order to boost Kimi Raikkonen's chances of winning the Bahrain grand prix.

The 2007 world champion ultimately finished second and even had a stab at overtaking winner Sebastian Vettel.

And he might have had an ever better chance at challenging the Red Bull had his Lotus team chiefs ordered teammate Romain Grosjean aside at a crucial moment.

"Yeah," confirmed Finn Raikkonen, "but there are no team orders and we know the rules.

"I tried to get past as quickly as I can but it's not easy with two similar cars.

"It's always easy to say afterwards 'if we had done that' but in the end we were not fast enough to win and we have to take the second," he added.

Despite team orders being effectively legal in F1, team boss Eric Boullier confirmed that Lotus does not follow that policy.

"We don't want to play team orders, so we let them race normally and what happened, happened," he is quoted by the Mirror.

The most important thing, according to Spanish commentator and former veteran F1 engineer Joan Villadelprat, is that the former Renault team still knows how to win.

"Maybe they don't have the best car on the grid, because McLaren and Red Bull and Mercedes are probably better, but Lotus have made a car capable of competing with the best in the right circumstances," he wrote in El Pais newspaper.

Pirelli making F1 a 'show' or a 'lottery'?
(GMM) Tires. The political dramas aside, that word utterly dominated the Bahrain grand prix weekend.

Afterwards, Michael Schumacher admitted he was "unhappy" with the situation.

"Sometimes we are driving only 60, 70 per cent through the corners," he is quoted by Bild newspaper.

Pirelli did not take the criticism lightly, insisting it has made Canada 2010-style, heavily degrading tires to order, for the benefit of the 'show'.

Motor sport director Paul Hembery on Monday 're-Tweeted' a message from a follower accusing the seven time world champion of having thrown "his toys out of the pram".

Moreover, Pirelli said Bahrain is perhaps "the most demanding" on the entire calendar when it comes to degradation.

"As a result, knowing how to manage the tires and contain thermal degradation was a vital skill" on Sunday, the Italian marque said in a statement.

On Twitter, The Times' correspondent Kevin Eason called Bahrain an "excellent race, although I am not sure we haven't moved from tire management to lottery".

The roulette wheel didn't spin up for McLaren – the team with arguably the best overall car so far in 2012 – on Sunday.

"Nobody has added a second to their cars in just a week after China," lamented Jenson Button, "but here we were a second off the pace."

His boss Martin Whitmarsh told Auto Motor und Sport: "Maybe it was the pressures, maybe the temperatures. We really don't know."

The German reporter said Whitmarsh's comment indicates an "uncomfortable realization" for such a scientifically meticulous team.

Whitmarsh agreed: "It is now more important to understand the tires than to find a bit more downforce."

The tire marque's test driver Jaime Alguersuari told Mundo Deportivo newspaper that Pirelli deserves credit, not criticism.

"Pirelli is largely responsible for making F1 the most spectacular it has been in a decade," said the young Spaniard.

'The dead live longest' beams Marko after Bahrain
(GMM) With Red Bull the latest to hold a trophy aloft this year, yet another potential 2012 champion has emerged.

In theory, back to back world champion Sebastian Vettel, the Bahrain grand prix winner, was always a contender for a third drivers' crown this year.

But his RB8 was not a race winner until Sunday, after McLaren, Mercedes and even Ferrari had tasted the first victory spoils so far this season.

It was said that – amid the extraordinary field of 2012 – Adrian Newey's latest creation was simply in the league of other midfielders including Lotus, Sauber, and perhaps even Williams and Toro Rosso.

But as Dr Helmut Marko remarked at the checkered flag: "Those pronounced dead live longest!"

"We never wrote them off," McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh insisted to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, "because we knew that they had a good car and that they only needed to find the key.

"This season is really crazy; more exciting than we would like!" the Briton admitted. "And now we have to say Lotus are also contenders."

German Vettel won in Bahrain from pole, but even he admitted that the weekend was a surprise.

"After Australia it seemed that McLaren had a supercar and it would be difficult to beat them, at least in the short term," he is quoted by O Estado de S.Paulo.

So even the experts are at a loss after the initial 'flyaway' phase of the new world championship.

"We know that we know nothing," beamed Vettel after his victory, referring to the oddly see-sawing balance of power in 2012, blamed mainly on the Pirelli tires.

"It is almost impossible to predict in advance how the different tire compounds are going to behave on race day," he is quoted by Der Spiegel.

"You have an idea, but nothing more."

'More treasure than deserved' with F2012 – Alonso
(GMM) Amid Ferrari's performance crisis with the struggling F2012 car, the Italian team has emerged from the opening 'flyaway' races with a solid head of steam.

He might be just fifth, but Fernando Alonso is a mere 10 points off the lead of the drivers' world championship, after a see-sawing pecking order emerged from the overseas races in Australia, Malaysia, China and Bahrain.

The Spanish driver admitted mere days ago that the F2012, at present, is perhaps the "sixth or seventh" best on the grid.

But next up is the test at Mugello, where major upgrades to the car – so significant that some sections of the media are expecting a 'new Ferrari' – will be tested ahead of its Barcelona debut.

Sepang winner Alonso's latest surprise was to finish ahead of the best McLaren in Bahrain.

"If we had said that beforehand, it would be unthinkable," he told Antena 3 television.

"It was another race where we have limited the damage pretty well.

"We were eight points behind the leader, now it's 10. We have spent the first four races outside Europe losing ten points, which I think is more treasure than we deserve.

"For Montmelo (Barcelona) we have to be better. We have to stop depending on others and start depending on ourselves," added Alonso.

Asked how much he is expecting the F2012 to improve, the 30-year-old was coy.

"I have said it could be one tenth, maybe two, one and a half … but we may not be in the same situation as before."

Alonso was also critical of the stewards' decision to leave Nico Rosberg without a penalty on Sunday, after the German driver forced him off the circuit whilst defending position.

"He also did the same to Hamilton, so it's two to zero for him (Rosberg)," said Alonso.

"But if there was a wall there, you would have to be talking to someone else now …"

On Twitter, he sarcastically added: "I think you are going to have fun in future races. You can defend position as you want and you can overtake outside the track! Enjoy!"

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