Latest F1 news in brief – Monday

  • Karthikeyan has no regrets dumping NASCAR

    F1 teams value media rights before Concorde talks

  • No regrets after giving up NASCAR – Karthikeyan
  • Row threatens media coverage of India GP
  • Sorry Ecclestone would welcome Mosley comeback
  • Red Bull blames 'gamesmanship' as FOTA unity falters
  • Hamilton on right track with girlfriend split – father
  • Williams goes to Qatar as Raikkonen rumors intensify
  • FIA moves even harder to stop diffuser blowing
  • Chandhok tells F1 to take care in India
  • Pirelli 'conservative' for India
  • Toet returns to Sauber as Head of Aerodynamics

F1 teams value media rights before Concorde talks
(GMM) Formula one teams have appointed a company to assess the sport's media value ahead of crucial negotiations over the next Concorde Agreement.

The confidential agreement is set to expire at the end of next year, and the Financial Times reports that the teams – currently still united in their FOTA alliance – are "anxious to secure a larger share" of formula one's income.

To that end, they have reportedly hired Evolution Media Capital, a boutique investment bank, to value F1's media rights before signing the new Concorde.

"This sport is probably the second or third largest in the world and the teams who take all the financial risk receive a minority share of the revenues," said a source.

"There is so much value that these guys are sitting on that they are not realizing."

Evolution Media Capital, reportedly to also look into the value of F1's "new media" impact, did not comment.

The company, affiliated with Hollywood talent agency Creative Artists Agency, has reportedly advised on the recent sale of the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team and other sports deals worth billions.

The new Concorde negotiations will surely follow the high profile corruption trial of former F1 banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, which begins in Munich on Monday.

"It's going to be fascinating," said Liverpool University professor Tom Cannon, a formula one finance expert.

"(Bernie) Ecclestone has found ways of resolving conflicts before they got to court; this time, he hasn't managed to," he told Bloomberg.

No regrets after giving up NASCAR – Karthikeyan
(GMM) Narain Karthikeyan insists he does not regret gambling his future on an abortive return to formula one in 2011.

The Indian was settling comfortably in the NASCAR system last year before the opportunity arose to take his sponsors back to formula one with the struggling HRT team.

But after Valencia in June, the now 34-year-old lost his seat to the Red Bull-backed Daniel Ricciardo, and is only now returning for a one-off drive this weekend in his native India.

Karthikeyan insists it was worth the gamble.

"F1 is the pinnacle of motor sport and it is definitely worth the sacrifices that I've made," he told the Press Trust of India.

"The fact that (the) Indian GP was on the calendar did play a part in my decision to return to F1 despite my comfortable position in NASCAR last year.

"But (I have) no regrets, I didn't want to think 'What if?'," added Karthikeyan, who made his debut with Jordan in 2005 and has also been a Williams test driver.

He reveals that he did not consider returning to NASCAR when he lost his full-time F1 seat in June.

"I have been completely dedicated to F1 this year so I didn't have any thoughts of going back," said Karthikeyan. "The circumstances were difficult but I was assured that I'd be driving the Indian GP which was certainly encouraging."

Row threatens media coverage of India GP
(GMM) Another hurdle has been mounted ahead of India's troubled preparation for its inaugural grand prix.

Amid talk the new Buddh circuit is barely ready for this weekend's race, the Indian supreme court last week ordered that a quarter of the proceeds of the ticket sales be withheld over a tax dispute.

But the latest dispute could cost organizers Jaypee crucial national media coverage, and worryingly the row is with the sport's powerful Formula One Management (FOM).

The Hindustan Times reports that Indian television channels are threatening to boycott covering the event because of FOM's restrictive access to the race feed.

Jaypee's communications boss Askari Zaidi warned reporters that they must cover the race.

"When they signed their accreditation form, they agreed to the terms and conditions, so I expect them to cover the event," he said.

He added that FOM is so restrictive when it comes to the television feed that even Jaypee, the promoter of the event and owner of the circuit, was denied access.

"We requested them to allow us to bring in cameras, but were refused. Even after we asked them to look into the matter, they refused, saying we could only buy a one minute feed of the race," said Zaidi.

It has been a troubled build-up for the Indian race, but motor sport clubs of India president Vicky Chandhok insists the organizers will learn for the future.

"India has never hosted such a big event. It's the largest ever," he told the Times of India. "No IPL (cricket), no Commonwealth Games comes anywhere close to it."

Sorry Ecclestone would welcome Mosley comeback
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has admitted he would welcome Max Mosley back to the FIA presidency.

The F1 chief executive told Germany's Welt am Sonntag newspaper that coming out in opposition to his long-time fellow F1 powerbroker amid the 2008 scandal ranks among his biggest ever regrets.

"One of the worst things I've done in my life – and for which I am ashamed – is to not defend Max Mosley when he had his big problems. There's no excuse," said Ecclestone.

The 80-year-old is referring to his call for Mosley to step down as pressure rose in the wake of the then FIA president's sex scandal involving sadomasochism and prostitutes.

"I made the mistake because so many people – executives and decision-makers from big companies and banks – convinced me that Max must go in the circumstances," Ecclestone explained.

He said his own opinion of the sex affair was that it was "purely private" and "nothing to do with formula one".

"But I was influenced very strongly and badly not to support him. I have apologized personally to Max and also publicly before the FIA World Council," added the Briton.

The FIA is now headed by former Ferrari boss Jean Todt, and it is known that Ecclestone is not a fan.

"I have nothing against the present incumbent, Jean Todt, but I would welcome Max's return," insisted Ecclestone.

Red Bull blames 'gamesmanship' as FOTA unity falters
(GMM) The cracks in the unity of the formula one teams association FOTA are continuing to show.

After talks broke down in Japan just over a week ago, the next round of meetings will take place in Abu Dhabi next month.

The main bone of contention is the cost-limiting resource restriction agreement, with some teams – but primarily Red Bull – suspected of swerving around the gentleman's pact.

A recent audit by a company called Capgemini involved visits to the Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes, Sauber and Williams factories.

Auto Motor und Sport reports that after the visit to the unnamed 'Team 4', the auditors had to write the words "no information" in almost every column.

"The allegations will only stop when all the teams agree to any inspection," Mercedes' Ross Brawn is quoted as saying.

The concern is that FOTA will have to abandon the resource restriction agreement amid turbulent economic times, or even fold the Geneva-based organization altogether.

Red Bull chiefs last week dismissed the allegations as "gamesmanship".

"This year it has moved away from the car to the RRA (agreement) which gets a little bit boring after a while," team boss Christian Horner is quoted by the Guardian.

"It is almost inevitable within the sport that there are those areas of gamesmanship."

Hamilton on right track with girlfriend split – father
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton's split with pop star girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger will make him a better man and driver.

That is the claim of the 2008 world champion's father, following the news that Pussycat Dolls singer Scherzinger and Hamilton, 26, have parted after a four-year relationship.

The split would explain Hamilton's foul mood in Korea just over a week ago, towards the end of arguably the Briton's worst ever season in his professional career.

But Anthony Hamilton, despite no longer managing his son's career, indicated the McLaren driver is now steering onto the right track.

"He's turned a corner in everything he's done, his life, his loves and his love of motor sport. Next year is going to be interesting," he is quoted as saying by the Mirror.

"You've only seen a young Lewis Hamilton. Now Lewis Hamilton the man is coming," added Hamilton Snr.

Williams goes to Qatar as Raikkonen rumors intensify
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen may have now signed a contract to return to formula one with Williams in 2012.

The Finnish daily Ilta-Sanomat reveals that its source is the Monaco-domiciled former Simtek and Footwork driver Taki Inoue, a Japanese who last raced in F1 in 1995.

Inoue is apparently still well connected in formula one circles, given his efforts to advance the careers of several rising Japanese drivers.

Earlier this month, Ilta-Sanomat reported that the key to Raikkonen's return to formula one was whether Williams could sign the Qatar National Bank as a major new sponsor.

Brazilian journalist Livio Oricchio wrote in O Estado de S.Paulo last Friday: "In recent days Frank Williams travelled to Arab states Qatar and Saudi Arabia."

The beleaguered British team rose to the front of the grid some decades ago with Arab-linked sponsors including Saudia, TAG and Albilad.

FIA moves even harder to stop diffuser blowing
(GMM) The FIA is moving to clamp down even harder on the aerodynamic use of exhaust gases ahead of the 2012 season.

F1's governing body had already announced the end of the so-called 'blown diffuser' era by dictating the positioning of the exhausts and limiting the allowable off-throttle engine maps for 2012.

But Italy's Autosprint reports that, following fears the new rules could also have been exploited by teams, the FIA has "turned the screw" even tighter.

The Paris federation has reportedly said that the 2012 version of the software to electronically control the engine will be "even more limited" than was previously expected.

Williams' new chief engineer Mark Gillan is quoted as saying: "I don't think I've ever seen a year when there were no loopholes in the technical regulations.

"That is one of the most enjoyable aspects of our work — to seek out areas in which the rules are vague and can be exploited."

Chandhok tells F1 to take care in India
(GMM) Karun Chandhok has advised F1's travelling circus to take care this week in India.

Some team bosses recently played down fears about 'Delhi belly', but Team Lotus reserve driver Chandhok – a brand ambassador and also a consultant of the new Buddh circuit – has admitted some caution will be necessary.

He told the Swiss newspaper Blick: "The Indian culture will be a shock to many.

"It is organized chaos, maybe like a mixture of Brazil and Malaysia. It affects everything — the traffic, the food, our way of life. We are very loud, chaotic.

"From the moment you arrive you will experience this madness, which will surprise everyone but it also means India is a country with soul.

"Nothing is structured — if someone says 12.30, he means 1 or 2 o'clock. So then you could think of Italy," he laughed.

Veteran Blick correspondent Roger Benoit asked Chandhok how F1's travelers should prepare for their forthcoming adventure.

"Many will get vaccinated, yes, but you definitely need to be careful with food," he answered.

"Only drink bottled water, don't use ice, don't eat salad. Only eat cooked food. This should mean you won't have problems."

Pirelli 'conservative' for India
Motorsport director Paul Hembery said that Pirelli has been "conservative" with its tire choices for the Indian Grand Prix due to the unknown of racing on a new circuit.

Pirelli has been widely praised for improving the quality of racing this season with its rapidly degrading tire compounds, and for the last race in Korea it took what it called an "aggressive" strategy in supplying both the soft and supersoft compounds. For India, however, Pirelli has aired on the side of caution, taking the soft and hard compounds, and Hembery admitted a lack of previous information had forced the approach.

"We've opted for a deliberately conservative nomination in selecting the hard tire alongside the soft, simply because on a brand new circuit you are never quite sure of the exact race conditions you will encounter," Hembery said. "But we've structured the allocation in such a way that we think the teams will run more on the softer tires, particularly because we are bringing an extra set of soft compound tires for Friday."

Hembery said that the combination should help Pirelli analyze what will be the optimal two compounds for next year's race, but that at present even the most likely strategy this weekend was still unknown.

"This will help us to make some decisions about our strategy for next year, particularly after we saw the excellent durability of the softer compounds. It's too early to talk about the number of pit stops we expect this weekend, but we anticipate a reasonably significant lap time difference between the two compounds."

Narain Karthikeyan, however, believes the hard tire will barely be used due to the smooth track surface and a "huge" difference in the tire compounds.

"The lap time difference between the hard and soft tires is going to be huge, maybe in excess of two seconds a lap. I'd expect the teams to use the hard as less as possible: maybe just a short final stint in the race as the benefits in lap time produced by the soft tire should outweigh its shorter life as the track surface isn't abrasive at all and track temperatures I think should be under 40 degrees during the weekend. The long pit lane will play a part in strategy as well with teams trying to get through the race with as few stops as possible."

Toet returns to Sauber as Head of Aerodynamics
Sauber has announced that Willem Toet will soon return to the team as Head of Aerodynamics. The Dutchman, 59, began his Formula 1 career at Toleman in 1985, with that outfit becoming Benetton a year later. In 1994 he moved to Ferrari before switching to BAR and Sauber in 1999 and 2006, respectively.

After his move to Sauber, Toet decided to leave the Hinwil-based outfit – then still owned by BMW – at the end of 2009, although he was not one of the many staff to be made redundant as the German car manufacturer pulled out of the project.

The technical reshuffle will take place on Monday 14 November, with Toet set to work alongside the man who previously took his position – 46-year-old Seamus Mullarkey:

‘The British engineer favors more technical and less management-oriented assignments and will be in charge of Aerodynamic Research,’ a statement says.

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