Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Since Melbourne complained F1 is too expensive Bernie has Staten Island, NY, Russia and India to replace it and he will. Australia, as happened with IndyCar in Surfers Paradise, can kiss another race goodbye

    Ecclestone goes to New York, not Melbourne, for NY race

  • Pirelli to supply extra tires in Melbourne
  • Lotus denies breaching name sale agreement
  • F1 figures say Vettel favorite for 2011
  • Hamilton comments suggest Red Bull move not imminent
  • Melbourne rain, Kovalainen cold and Barrichello flight
  • Adjustable wing innovation to be tweaked – Whitmarsh
  • Lawyer says Ecclestone 'available' for corruption probe
  • Strategy will be very important in 2011

Ecclestone goes to New York, not Melbourne, for NY race
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone is no longer travelling to Australia for this weekend's 2011 season opener.

The F1 chief executive's office had previously confirmed that the 80-year-old would be in Melbourne, but reports on Tuesday said Ecclestone has headed instead to New York.

Melbourne newspaper the Herald Sun said New York mayor Michael Bloomberg issued the invitation following speculation the Victorian government wanted to offload its race due to rising costs.

Bloomberg "invited Ecclestone to the US to hear his pitch for a race on Staten Island", said the report.

"As a result of what has happened in the last couple of weeks mayor Bloomberg has been on to Mr. Ecclestone," confirmed Australian Grand Prix Corporation chairman Ron Walker.

"It's not just a fight against New York, it's a fight against everybody. Delhi is opening up, there will be one in Russia, Korea has come on stream … the other Arab states want it, so there will always be a fight," he added.

Pirelli to supply extra tires in Melbourne
(GMM) Teams will be supplied an extra set of tires in Australia on Friday, Pirelli has announced.

Following the extreme wear degradation seen in winter testing, the FIA recently agreed a new rule that will allow extra tires to be supplied at some events if necessary this year.

And as the weather in Melbourne this weekend is "likely to be different" to that seen in Spain in recent months, "teams will be given an extra set of prime (hard) tires" for Friday morning, a media statement confirmed.

The move will allow teams to "run more laps in free practice to finalize the setup", added Pirelli.

Pirelli has said consistently that it specifically designed its 2011 product to wear quickly following requests from the teams and Bernie Ecclestone.

"We're aiming for between two and three pitstops in Australia, which in some ways is against our company DNA as our road car tires are designed to be as durable as possible," said boss Paul Hembery.

The highest number of pitstops ever recorded in Melbourne was in 2004, with an average of 2.45 per driver.

Lotus denies breaching name sale agreement
(GMM) Team Lotus has denied breaching an agreement with the former owner of the disputed name.

As the legal fight with Group Lotus resumed in London this week, it emerged that David Hunt had not been paid by Malaysian millionaire Tony Fernandes for the Team Lotus name.

"He's apparently changed his mind at the eleventh hour … and he's trying to renegotiate by offering new terms which are, frankly, ludicrous," said Hunt, who also said he is unsure why he is being sued by Fernandes for defamation.

But a Team Lotus spokesperson hit back by suggesting it is in fact Hunt, the brother of late F1 driver James Hunt, who is stalling on the agreement.

"Team Lotus has an agreement with David Hunt which was signed by both parties," the Team Lotus official is quoted by the Telegraph.

"David Hunt has tried to renegotiate that agreement, which Team Lotus is not prepared to do."

Fernandes wrote on Twitter that "greed corrupts and turns people into monsters".

The High Court action is expected to last ten days.

F1 figures say Vettel favorite for 2011
(GMM) Leading F1 bosses believe Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull are well-placed to defend their titles in 2011.

"The favorite is always the reigning champion, so it's Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull," Mercedes' Norbert Haug is quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost agrees: "They (Vettel and Red Bull) have shown very good performance in all the tests."

And Sir Frank Williams said: "Red Bull and Ferrari will lead the field once again."

Agreed HRT's Colin Kolles: "Red Bull have the strongest package."

"My gut feeling about the favorite is Vettel," said Peter Sauber.

Hamilton comments suggest Red Bull move not imminent
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has poured cold water on speculation he is courting a move to Red Bull in the near future.

The rumors were triggered recently by Christian Horner, who predicted the 2008 world champion will be knocking on his door if McLaren have another fallow season.

But Hamilton on Tuesday is quoted in multiple British reports as hitting out at the reigning champion team, including by doubting Red Bull will ever be a permanent grandee like McLaren or Ferrari.

"I am 100 per cent certain that McLaren or Ferrari will never let that happen," said the Briton.

"Ours have status they would like to keep. Red Bull are not a manufacturer, they are a drinks company. I don't know what their plan is," added Hamilton.

He also struck out at Red Bull's claim about driver equality, suggesting that Mark Webber is clearly teammate Sebastian Vettel's number two.

"It appears to me that it is a clear number 1 team," said Hamilton. "Mark has also stated it hasn't he?"

The 26-year-old also said his relationship with his own teammate Jenson Button is better than the atmosphere at Red Bull.

"We don't need any edge between us, it's not like Red Bull," said Hamilton.

Meanwhile, given the 'liegate' and 'hoon-driving' scandals of past years, it might be said that Melbourne is not Hamilton's favorite spot on the calendar.

"I go back with a plan not to be in the stewards' office and not to be met by any of the police," he smiled.

Melbourne rain, Kovalainen cold and Barrichello flight
(GMM) Rain is in the air as Melbourne gets set to host the 2011 formula one opener.

There are showers on the radar in Melbourne on Tuesday afternoon, and they may return on Thursday and Friday when the Albert Park paddock really bursts into life.

Saturday and Sunday – the days of crucial qualifying and the Australian grand prix – should be sunny and dry but with temperatures only in the low 20s.

"It's pretty clear we'll have some mixed weather this weekend, so we might not get a real understanding of who's where," said Australian Mark Webber on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Heikki Kovalainen was relieved on Tuesday, after earlier suffering from a sore throat.

"(The) flu seems to have been scared off by training and vitamins, so fingers crossed," he wrote on Twitter.

And Rubens Barrichello is enduring a stressful start to the beginning of his eighteenth full season in F1, after Argentina suspended flights due to a airport communication system problem.

But he said from Buenos Aires late on Monday night: "It looks like the plane will leave tomorrow at 1pm. It was a long day but I am happy that everything will be ok."

Adjustable wing innovation to be tweaked – Whitmarsh
(GMM) Martin Whitmarsh has admitted that the debut of adjustable rear wings in F1 this season is "a test".

The McLaren boss, who is also the chairman of the formula one teams alliance FOTA, said the controversial innovation was put in place due to fans' feedback about wanting to see more overtaking during grands prix.

But some figures are concerned that passing aided by the wing will be too artificial, while a group of drivers are worried that – combined with the return of KERS – their increasing cockpit workload is becoming a safety issue.

German reports also quote Whitmarsh as confessing that the intricacies of when a driver may use the wing in 2011 is "perhaps too complicated and not everyone will understand".

"There are many opinions," he acknowledged.

Officials have left open the door to tweaking the system later this season based on the initial races.

"We now have a system on the car by which we can make overtaking easier or more difficult," explained Whitmarsh. "Undoubtedly there will be the need for some fine-tuning.

"This is a test," he added. "If it is too complicated or it does not work, we can adjust it."

It is believed that Red Bull is one of the teams campaigning hardest against the wing, with Whitmarsh confirming that his drivers, as well as those at Ferrari and Mercedes, are not complaining.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa confirmed: "Together with the engineers, we came up with some good methods to be able to operate these systems without affecting your concentration and your visibility of the track without taking your eyes off the road."

Lawyer says Ecclestone 'available' for corruption probe
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone is reportedly "happy" to make himself "available as a witness" as German prosecutors investigate a corruption scandal.

Banker Gerhard Gribkowsky is detained in Munich, accused of receiving $50 million that some German media suspect was paid by F1's chief executive amid the sale of the sport five years ago.

Ecclestone has denied the accusations of bribery and, according to his German lawyer Sven Thomas, is willing to assist the investigation, a report in the Suddeutsche Zeitung claims.

The report also quoted Ecclestone's lawyer as saying the 80-year-old is willing to "testify as a witness".

At the same time, the Telegraph in London claims Ecclestone has been cleared of wrongdoing by a separate investigation instigated by F1's owner CVC.

The investigation was conducted by external auditors and Ecclestone commented: "That has all gone on and they haven't found anything (wrong)."

The Briton acknowledged, however, that CVC wishes "all this with Gerhard hadn't have happened" even though the private equity firm "isn't looking at selling" its majority stake of the sport.

Strategy will be very important in 2011
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali believes having the right strategy will be more important than getting the best position on the grid in 2011.

Domenicali said: “From what we have seen in winter testing, these tires are very different to those we used in the past.

“Therefore, we have to adopt a fresh approach and clearly, from what we have seen so far, the number of pit stops required to complete a race distance competitively will be higher than before.

“This is significant in terms of teamwork at the races, because more pit stops means the role of team members becomes even more important in terms of deciding the final outcome of the races.

“A further impact of having more pit stops is that possibly qualifying and therefore grid position will be less important than in 2010.

“In simple terms it is more likely that a car that has not set the fastest time and taken pole position can still go on to win the race. It will be absolutely vital to have the right strategy in order to win the race."

Heading into the first race of the season Domenicali said his drivers are “motivated for different reasons".

“Fernando [Alonso] has done a fantastic winter in terms of preparation and testing and is looking forward to getting to Melbourne, because after an incredible second half to last year, he wants to cancel out what happened at the last race in Abu Dhabi.

“Felipe [Massa] is now very strong mentally and he is looking forward to what will be a very important season for him."

He added: “As we prepare for the first race, I would like to single out one group of our fans and hold them close to our hearts right now and that is our fans in Japan and indeed all the people in Japan.

“What has happened there is more important than anything to do with our sport and serves to remind us what are the priorities in our lives."

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