Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • Sergio Perez

    Perez lined up for Ferrari test

  • HP getting best value as F1 sponsor – report
  • Door closed for Chandhok, Karthikeyan at Force India
  • Boss says Renault to stay in F1 if 'conditions' met
  • Kubica vows to be ready for 2012 return
  • Head admits Williams role set to change
  • Defeat for Red Bull no longer a 'miracle' – de la Rosa
  • Team Lotus strike deal to use Red Bull KERS
  • Virgin not confirming Silverstone HQ reports
  • Q and A with Williams boss Adam Parr

Perez lined up for Ferrari test
(GMM) Ferrari will evaluate Sergio Perez during a test with the Italian team's 2009 car later this year.

Mexican rookie Perez, backed strongly by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, is making his formula one debut in 2011 for the Ferrari powered Swiss team Sauber.

The 21-year-old, like French GP2 driver and Ferrari reserve Jules Bianchi, is also a leading member of Ferrari's driver development academy.

The pair are tipped as possible long-term replacements for Felipe Massa.

Driver academy director Luca Baldisserri announced this week that Perez and Bianchi will be testing at Mugello or Fiorano in September.

"I think they will both be very motivated and for us it will be the perfect opportunity to assess both drivers," he said.

HP getting best value as F1 sponsor – report
(GMM) Hugo Boss is getting some of the best value for money as a formula one sponsor, a leading sponsorship consultancy firm has found.

The evaluation by Cologne based Sport Und Markt compared brand awareness versus the amount spent by F1 sponsors in 2010.

The result showed that fashion brand Hugo Boss, a long-time McLaren sponsor, had among the most efficient investments in F1, reaching 4.9 million people for its $3.1 million annual spend.

The very best however was Hewlett-Packard, reaching 6.6 million people by spending just $1.5 million for its minor Renault branding.

Allianz comes in at 11th place, Puma 14th and Mercedes-Benz far behind in 23rd, because each person reached cost the German marque a considerable $4.78.

Also struggling for sponsorship efficiency is DHL, one of F1's official partners, ranking 32nd with its $10 million annually buying recognition among only 300,000 people.

A spokeswoman insisted to German business newspaper Handelsblatt: "This long-term partnership is for us one of the most powerful marketing platforms."

Door closed for Chandhok, Karthikeyan at Force India
(GMM) Vijay Mallya appears increasingly unlikely to choose an Indian driver for his formula one team any time soon.

Three months ahead of the inaugural grand prix in Delhi, the Force India chief has engaged in a public spat with the populous country's only two Indian grand prix drivers.

"I can only feel very sorry for them," said Mallya, referring to Karun Chandhok, Team Lotus' reserve and Friday driver, and Narain Karthikeyan, who has lost his race seat at Hispania.

"They are getting drives by the teams who clearly can't compete," he added.

"If that's what they want to do, drive a formula one car for the sake of driving a formula one car and winding up at the back, I can't do anything about it."

Mallya is running a search for a new Indian star, insisting that "There has got to be good, raw talent in India and I am determined to go find it".

The criticism earned a pointed rebuke by Chandhok, whose father Vicky is a leading Indian motor racing official.

"I think it's a bit sad that in one breath the chairman of our Indian ASN (Mallya) is talking about how much he has done for Indian drivers and then in the next breath he is criticizing India's only two formula one drivers," Chandhok is quoted by Reuters.

"If you are going to criticize people, at least do it with some facts," he added. "Having never tested either Narain or myself in one of his cars, he doesn't have the facts."

Chandhok also slammed Mallya's driver search program, insisting that "You are not going to find the next Indian star by running events in single-engined four-stroke rental karts on 400 meter tracks made out of concrete".

Boss says Renault to stay in F1 if 'conditions' met
(GMM) French carmaker Renault's continuing involvement in formula one relies on "certain conditions" being present.

That is the claim of Carlos Tavares, who is the marque's freshly appointed chief operating officer.

After the 'crashgate' scandal, Renault effectively withdrew from F1 as a works team and is now only an engine supplier to the Red Bull, Lotus Renault, Team Lotus and – in 2012 – Williams teams.

"It was a reasonable decision which led us to a level of expenditure in line with our means," Tavares is quoted in a French language report by Agence France-Presse.

"Renault does not have infinite funds," he insisted. "This decision allowed the company to refocus its efforts on the core of the race engines."

AFP said that instead of paying EUR 220 million to run the works Renault team in 2009, the marque now spends just 60 million on its F1 program.

Asked about the difference in image, Tavares answered: "I don't know that we have lost anything."

As for the future, he said Renault's "strategy is to be the leaders in zero-emission vehicles.

"Our commitment to F1 is long-term when the conditions of cost, image and sporting fairness are also met", added Tavares.

"As long as the conditions are there, there is no reason to not be in F1. It has been almost 30 years that we have demonstrated our passion (for F1) and we continue to do so every day."

Kubica vows to be ready for 2012 return
(GMM) Robert Kubica has confirmed his desire to return to formula one next year with Renault.

Asked by a fan on the team's website if he will be ready for the 2012 season and a title fight, the injured Pole answered: "Yes to the first question.

"For your second question, we will have to wait until the first test in 2012!"

There have been rumors recently of disagreements between Renault team chiefs and Kubica's management, particularly over the timing of the return from his horror rally crash.

"I'm a Lotus Renault GP driver," insisted the 26-year-old. "Of course, I'm missing not being able to drive this season but I feel that my job in Enstone isn't finished yet."

Kubica insisted he is mentally strong but in a physical sense "still a bit weak".

"But my general condition is quite good," he said. "My weight has now returned to its normal level and for a few weeks I've been able to walk without help. All in all I feel pretty well.

"I am satisfied with how things are proceeding," Kubica told another online fan.

"The improvement is in line with the expectations, and luckily there are no complications that could affect the recovery time.

"It is still too early to have a clear picture for the timing of my return but the important thing is the final outcome not the hurry."

Head admits Williams role set to change
(GMM) Patrick Head has admitted he will begin to take more of a back seat at Williams from 2012.

Earlier this year, the famous team's 66-year-old co-founder released most of his shareholding for the Frankfurt floatation, before chairman Adam Parr announced to the press that Head "will be retiring at some point this year".

Head reacted angrily to Parr's statement but at Silverstone admitted that his director of engineering role at the Oxfordshire based team is changing.

"All I know is I'm not retiring," he is quoted by the Independent newspaper.

"I probably won't be involved with Williams formula one in the same way from the end of the year but I'll still be involved in some Williams activities," added Head.

The newspaper said a change of title is likely for Head, but not a stepping back as a shareholder or board member.

Head added that he will "certainly turn up at a few races" in the future but will not have a hands-on engineering role at the grands prix.

Defeat for Red Bull no longer a 'miracle' – de la Rosa
(GMM) A defeat for Red Bull in the 2011 world championship will no longer require a "miracle", according to Pedro de la Rosa.

McLaren's veteran reserve driver admitted the mood had been pessimistic leading into the British grand prix, because Silverstone is a circuit "which appeared to have been designed for the Red Bulls".

McLaren ultimately had a disappointing weekend, but Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were both beaten to the checkered flag by Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

"Perhaps this has been the most convincing victory of the whole season," he wrote in his column for

"The mistake with Vettel's pitstop and Red Bull's need to issue team orders to protect their number one invites us to think that the comeback is now not a miracle, it is a possible reality, difficult but possible," added the Spaniard.

Alonso meanwhile said that while his win is a big morale booster, Ferrari's new approach – more aggressive than in the recent past – will remain.

"Maybe it will happen that we pay a high price for that (approach) but there is no alternative," he said.

"We are definitely not giving up, but we must not think about the championship — as Montezemolo said, we are keeping our feet on the ground."

Team Lotus strike deal to use Red Bull KERS
(GMM) Team Lotus has struck a deal with its technology partner Red Bull to use a KERS system in formula one.

Malaysian Tony Fernandes' small team is this year using the hydraulics system and gearbox run by the reigning championship-winning outfit in 2010.

And Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper reports that, next year, the green liveried team will take yet another step forward because its Red Bull parts will be the ones currently used on Adrian Newey's dominant RB7.

And the KERS to be used by Team Lotus, Turun Sanomat continued, will be the Magneti Marelli system that is developed in cooperation with Renault and Red Bull.

Fernandes confirmed: "Yes, we have agreed with Red Bull on KERS."

Red Bull might be an odd choice as KERS supplier for Team Lotus, given the team's struggles with the technology so far in 2011.

Newey said last month that energy recovery is "Not really our forte. We are an aerodynamics and, sort of, chassis composite engineering group rather than a KERS group".

Virgin not confirming Silverstone HQ reports
(GMM) Virgin has not confirmed reports it has earmarked Silverstone as a potential site for its new headquarters.

Currently, the struggling team operates from the Manor headquarters in Dinnington, and it has recently acquired Nick Wirth's technical F1 facility at Banbury.

But the plan for a couple of years down the road is for a bespoke Virgin factory under one roof.

A rumor in the British grand prix paddock last weekend was that talks took place between Virgin and Silverstone bosses.

Virgin Racing president Graeme Lowdon told The Star on Thursday: "There is no big change in the short term.

"We have got a couple of guys looking at where the best location would be in the long run. On the basis that this will be a new facility, this is not something you necessarily want to rush into.

"They have got to find the right place because it will be a big investment. I don't expect there to be a decision on that too quickly," he added.

Q and A with Williams boss Adam Parr

Williams chairman Adam Parr spoke out about exhaust blown diffusers, the team's new Renault deal and its hopes for the future.

Q: So, Williams supported the Technical Working Group move to revert back to Valencia spec exhaust blown diffusers?

Did we?

Q: Yes, apparently…

No we didn't.

Q: But you signed the letter?

On Sunday you mean? Oh, I see. Sam (Michael) may have done something.

Q: The Silverstone regs appeared to help your form?

I think it's a hugely complicated issue because even if we know what it does to us, we don't know what it does to everyone else. The whole thing came up because people had developed this hot-blowing technique. We sat down with Cosworth and asked if they could do it. They said yes, this is how many engines you're going to need, this is how much it's going to cost, and then Patrick (Head) said, 'hang on a minute, is this even legal?' So we sat down and said well, actually, there's three different rules under which this is probably illegal, and two of them appear under Article 3:15, one to do with parts that influence the aerodynamic performance of the car being rigidly secured to the chassis, and another is a new rule for this year which says that any system that relies upon driver movement to influence aerodynamic performance is illegal. I don't think we were the only ones but we asked for a clarification from Charlie, which is normal procedure, and very rapidly we got the answer back saying no, this is not legal, which has been his consistent position. Using the throttle, during braking, to get aerodynamic performance, is not legal. It's using a thing that is moving rather fast and is not rigidly secured to anything. And it's the driver as well. We said whoopee, we don't have to spend gazillions developing a system.

Q: What sort of money are we talking about?

A lot. And that was only at first. You set out a program to see if you can do it but there's no guarantee that will be the end of it. It was significant money. It was not a case of trying to optimize our position, simply a case of finding out whether something is legal or not before you spend loads of money that you don't really have. Anyway, if they've all found a solution, I'm thrilled!

Q: Is this kind of rule instability good for the sport?

Yes, it's fantastic… I hate when everyone says it's really bad for the sport. A couple of years ago a really serious journalist sat in front of me talking about something else, and said, 'this is really bad stuff…' I said yes, it's really bad stuff, so why aren't you covering darts in Wales? The fact is, it's the intensity of the competition, the brutality of it, and the fact that it's across so many dimensions, including the rules, the money, the politics, as well as the little bit that happens on the track. That's what makes Formula 1 so compelling. Whether it's good or not I don't know, it's just the way that it is. Nobody's ever said to me, Adam, we'd like to interview you but please don't say anything controversial.

Q: Controversy is interesting, sure, but is this too complicated?

It's very complicated and what's changed in F1 over the last 30 years is that engineers learn and, as they do, they don't forget, so every year everything gets more complex and more difficult. Charlie mentioned the banning of active ride in 1993 and that's not a bad example. It was a very complex system, it took us a long time to develop it and then it was banned. So what's new?

Q: But to change in the middle of the year when everyone has planned development strategies and so forth…?

It's irrelevant. I have no sympathy. It really annoys me that I sat in Paris, in the Court of Appeal (over the '09 double diffusers), with certain teams saying 'these cars are dangerously fast.' Some plonker put in his affidavit, 'this car is dangerously fast.' This is a person who is famous for making fast cars, continued to make fast cars and I've never heard such drivel. Anyway, my point is this: do they say well, poor old Williams and Toyota and Brawn, they've spent all this money developing the double diffuser, their whole car is built around it, we must let them have it for 2009 and then we'll change it. Like hell they did. They protested in Melbourne, they protested us in Malaysia and then they went to court in Paris. So it's bullshit. There's a couple of things that really irritate me and rank hypocrisy is one of them!

Q: How is Williams doing financially?

Well, as a team and a company, we can do better. How have we done financially? When I started at the end of 2006, because of losing our partnership with BMW and what went with that, losing what was close to a title partnership with Hewlett-Packard, going from free engines to being a customer, which in those days was a lot of money, at a time when some of the teams were spending £300-400m per year, we took the decision to build up debt to around £35m. Which was a lot of money to us. Since then we have paid off 90% of that debt, we have recorded a profit in 2008-09-10, we've brought the company to the stock market and we've got 500 people working for us. We're supporting 3000 British businesses and a lot outside Britain, so I'd like anyone who wants to criticize what I've done and what we've done in the last few years, to just compare their record with ours.

Q: Can you elaborate on your Renault engine announcement. The people there – Nigel, Damon, Jacques – don't get out of bed for nothing, so do we assume there is some Renault budget and assistance behind it? Is it more than a supply deal?

To deal with the first part: Nigel asked for some help with an air fare, Jacques didn't even ask for an air fare, Damon didn't need an air fare and Alain unfortunately couldn't be with us, but I would have organized an air fare for him. Just to be clear, none of those guys asked for anything or was paid anything for coming along. We were very grateful to them and that's a tribute to the team. In fact, Ginny Williams was saying that it was like a family reunion.

Q: But looking ahead, you've got Williams Hybrid Power and a tie-up with as many road car outlets as possible makes sense, so is the aim a five-year works turbo deal for instance?

The Holy Grail for us is a deep partnership with Renault supplying us with great technology, potentially integrating some of our technology with theirs at the rear end of the car. It's a great marketing platform for them and it's a great bonus for our partners, to be associated with a car company. They are an independent car manufacturer nowadays and, interestingly, the other three teams that they are currently supplying are all associated with another car maker, whether it's Infiniti, Lotus or Lotus/Caterham in the future, because Tony Fernandes has some serious ambitions for that brand. So you could look at this and say, well, maybe we're in a way, the odd one out.

Q: But you could still do special edition Renault Williams road cars?

We certainly could. And what a great thing to do. For me there's huge potential in that partnership.

Q: Any chance of Renault working with Williams Hybrid Power?

Hybrid Power does flywheels and, in the short term, they are probably not right for that kind of vehicle. Unfortunately they don't own the truck company anymore, because that would be a natural partner, but trucks, buses, and then going into bigger systems, subways and trains. That's where we see that technology going.

Q: Are they keen to have a French driver with a Renault engine? Maybe Grosjean or Bianchi?

Well the Silverstone GP2 races were pretty exciting and there's clearly some very talented young guys coming through – Pic, Grosjean, Bianchi. It would be great to have a French driver.

Q: Was that part of the Renault discussion?

No. You have to keep things separate or otherwise it's too complicated.

Q: Jean-Francois Caubet said that Renault wants to pick one or two teams to be preferred partners to make the most of the V6 era. Is that a target to get you back to the front?

I think from a technology point of view Renault is scrupulous in providing the same kit to everybody. And even if we were beneficiaries, that equity between teams is so important. I would never want preference. But in terms of how we develop the commercial relationship, as I said, the advantage we have is that we are not in F1 promoting another car brand. And I kind of feel that Williams-Renault, because of the history, is actually almost synonymous with Renault in Formula 1 in a way that… I'm not being derogatory but I don't think that's quite true of Red Bull. Red Bull is Red Bull. They have a fantastic engine in the back and clearly a Renault presence, but it's perhaps not achieving the marketing impact that it might.

Q: Is the sponsorship situation falling into place?

My philosophy on sponsors earlier this year was that our on-track performance was just so obviously inadequate that to be talking with sponsors just wouldn't have worked, whether it was our current sponsors or future sponsors. You can't seriously sit down with them and say, come on guys, when we were where we were, with no plan. So I said let's just back off and keep things ticking over for the moment because we need to put in place a vision for the future very different from the present. So the technical leadership changes for the future, the partnership with Renault, the partnership with Jaguar, and doing a more respectable job now, were prerequisites for sitting down, which we did last week, and saying right, let's go for it. And we have some fantastic conversations going on and I'm very optimistic we'll bring in some stunning new partnerships.

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