Latest F1 news in brief – Friday

  • Fernando Alonso did not ask to sabotage Hamilton's car, he asked the team to stop giving Hamilton a better car than he was getting. When they did not he revealed that McLaren had stolen secrets from Ferrari and taught the team a lesson – don't ever screw with me

    Alonso happy with long life at Ferrari

  • KERS cost rule 'poorly written' – Magneti Marelli
  • Nannini wants to be mayor of Siena
  • Brazil says no talks for GP date delay
  • Verstappen doubts Alonso sabotage claims true
  • Villeneuve questions Schumacher 'motivation'
  • No quick fix for Korea 'love motel' problem
  • HRT not rushing to name F1's final driver
  • De la Rosa admits recent Renault talks
  • Whitmarsh defends Pirelli after tire criticisms
  • Mercedes now 'a second off' the pace – Brawn

Alonso happy with long life at Ferrari
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has revealed he is more than happy with life at Ferrari.

2011 is the two-time world champion's tenth season in formula one, but only his second with the famous Maranello based team.

"I expected a team of legend and magic and it has been a pleasant surprise, even better than I expected," the 29-year-old told the Spanish sports daily Marca.

Asked how long he might stay in F1 and with Ferrari, Alonso answered: "I am in no hurry to go; here, I even enjoy finishing second, eighth and twenty third."

It has been suggested in the past, however, that Alonso does not completely enjoy F1 overall because it is not a pure sport.

"It's not just racing; F1 is also very much business and with other interests," he agrees.

"It's not a competition, pure and simple. Cars are not equal, the rules are not equal for all. But we know this and accept it because this is perhaps some of the charm of formula one," added Alonso.

Asked about the cars he has driven since debuting in 2001, he said the 2009 Renault was "the worst but I managed a podium in Singapore".

And with the same team, he said 2004 and 2005 were the most enjoyable cars.

"There was the war with the Bridgestone and Michelin tires that made us a couple of seconds faster, already with 900 horse power," he explained.

"Even with the inferior aerodynamics that we had six years ago compared to today, in Cheste (Valencia) we were doing 1m08, compared to 1m14 now — six seconds different. Those cars are hard to beat," said the Ferrari driver.

Alonso revealed that when his F1 career began with Minardi ten years ago, he also had the option of going to Ferrari-powered Prost.

"The offer was to go there (Prost) and then maybe be a Ferrari tester, or maybe not and I'll have to return to F3000," he explained.

"It did not guarantee anything, while Renault were giving me a better opportunity," added Alonso, who indeed became Renault's test driver in 2002 before racing with the team in 2003.

Alonso also reinforced his view that he is in F1 only to win.

"I'm not racing to make friends but to achieve many titles. Let's see if I win enough to be remembered.

"If not, I will also retire very happy, proud of the experience," he added.

KERS cost rule 'poorly written' – Magneti Marelli
(GMM) A rule relating to KERS in formula one is "poorly written", according to a supplier.

"There is a poorly written rule," said Italian company Magneti Marelli's motor sport director Roberto Dalla.

The cost-saving rule stipulates that no more than EUR 1 million can be paid for the KERS unit supply, and then an additional 4 million on research and development.

"It was not clear whether this five million was for the global solution, or for each individual team.

"Maybe someone said it was a figure tied to the teams and, therefore, has set up their solution with 15 million," added Dalla.

It is believed the basis of the Magneti Marelli KERS is being used by Ferrari and Renault this year.

Mercedes is another KERS manufacturer for 2011, supplying units to Mercedes GP, McLaren and Force India.

Nannini wants to be mayor of Siena
(GMM) Former grand prix winner Alessandro Nannini is set to run for mayor.

Italy's Autosprint reports that the 51-year-old, whose career ended whilst a Benetton driver in 1990 when his arm was severed in a helicopter crash, wants to be mayor of Siena.

In Tuscany, Italy, Siena is Nannini's birthplace.

Autosprint said the news will shortly be announced officially.

"I will speak when a decision is taken," Nannini is quoted by Corriere Fiorentino.

Nannini's first and only grand prix win was the 1989 race at Suzuka, when Ayrton Senna was disqualified after famously colliding with Alain Prost.

Brazil says no talks for GP date delay
(GMM) Organizers of the Brazilian grand prix are not confirming reports that the Interlagos race this year might be delayed.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone on Thursday admitted he had ruled out rescheduling the Bahrain grand prix in August.

"It's too hot for the public to sit in the grandstand at 40-odd degrees," he told the BBC.

"We will have a look and see what we can do, how we can swap things around a bit. Maybe we can change it with Brazil, or something like that," added Ecclestone.

The suggestion is that Interlagos' November 27 date could be pushed back to December; a move that could be controversial due to the encroaching Brazilian football season.

A spokesman for the Brazilian grand prix told Globo Esporte that the race's organizers have not been consulted or asked about a possible date change.

The spokesman reiterated that November 25-27 is the official date for this year's race; the last on the 2011 calendar.

Ecclestone said on Thursday that a decision about the Bahrain rescheduling is likely next Tuesday, when the World Motor Sport Council sits in Paris.

Verstappen doubts Alonso sabotage claims true
(GMM) Jos Verstappen on Thursday said he doubts the latest accusations about Fernando Alonso are true.

A new biography about Bernie Ecclestone alleges that, whilst a McLaren driver in 2007, Spaniard Alonso attempted to blackmail boss Ron Dennis into sabotaging the sister car driven by Lewis Hamilton.

Now driving for Ferrari, Alonso responded in Spain earlier this week that he tends to "ignore what is said from other countries".

"You have to wonder if the accusations are true," wrote former grand prix driver Verstappen in his latest column for Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.

"I cannot imagine that a driver would go that far. I don't want to say too much about it except that I have my doubts," he added.

The Dutchman also described as "ridiculous" Bernie Ecclestone's proposal to spice up grands prix with artificial rain.

Speaking to BBC radio on Thursday, Mark Webber agreed.

"Think of guys like Ayrton Senna and Jackie Stewart and Jimmy Clark and they would be … well, Jackie is still here but the other two would be turning in their graves at the thought," he said.

[Editor's Note: Rumor has it that Fernando Alonso did not ask to sabotage Hamilton's car, he asked the team to stop giving Hamilton a better car than he was getting. When they did not he revealed that McLaren had stolen secrets from Ferrari and taught the team a lesson via spygate – don't ever screw with me.]

Villeneuve questions Schumacher 'motivation'
(GMM) Jacques Villeneuve has questioned Michael Schumacher's "motivation" ahead of the second season of the seven time world champion's comeback.

"I followed his return with attention and he is still fit and fast," said French Canadian Villeneuve, who beat Schumacher to the 1997 title after a close and controversial contest.

But Villeneuve, who is approaching his 40th birthday, thinks the "expectations were too high" when the great German returned after three years of retirement.

"Everyone thought he was going to be a second faster than Nico Rosberg," he is quoted by L'Equipe in France.

"But when he was at Ferrari he was only a tenth in front of Rubens Barrichello. And over time, in people's minds, a tenth became a second.

"It took him (Schumacher) some time but he didn't do too badly. But what is his real motivation?" wondered Villeneuve.

"Last year he was smiling even after a bad result," he added.

Villeneuve admits his 2011 favorite is Fernando Alonso.

"He is a Spanish bull, nothing can stop him," he laughed. "He always gets the best out of each situation and has shown he can win with an average car and bring a team forward all by himself."

Villeneuve, meanwhile, is a critic of F1's newer generation of circuits.

"These modern circuits; you see nothing, the grandstands are too far from the track. There is no sense of speed, you don't appreciate the drivers' risks.

"Anyone playing a video game thinks he can do the same thing," he added.

No quick fix for Korea 'love motel' problem
(GMM) Some visitors to South Korea for the country's second formula one race this year will again have to stay in so-called "love motels".

That is the admission of Joo Dong-sik, head of the Yeongam event's organizing committee, after a meeting this week.

Korea won the FIA's 2010 race promotion prize, but from other quarters the event was criticized for problems including circuit construction delays and poor management.

Another high profile problem was the fact that – with the city section of the facility not yet built – many team members and journalists stayed in what became known as 'love motels'.

The phrase was coined due to the hotel rooms' obviously frequent usage by prostitutes.

"We are currently faced with no other options but to utilize existing accommodations and upgrade their quality," said Dong-sik, admitting the accommodation shortage.

"But we feel that the upgrades, such as free internet and cable television, will satisfy our visitors," he told the Joongang daily.

It has also been announced that tickets are significantly cheaper for this year's October event in a bid to boost attendance.

HRT not rushing to name F1's final driver
(GMM) HRT has not ruled out utilizing every single day between now and the 2011 season opener to appoint Narain Karthikeyan's teammate.

Vitantonio Liuzzi and others have been linked with the last remaining cockpit on this year's grid, but the Spanish team is evidently in no rush to make a decision.

"We will announce in the next few weeks our lineup for 2011," a team spokeswoman told the Italian website

Friday marks precisely three weeks until opening practice for the Australian grand prix, which is one day after the FIA deadline for naming the driver.

Another candidate for the seat is Giorgio Mondini, who – like Liuzzi – was faster than Karthikeyan at the recent Barcelona test.

The HRT spokeswoman played down the significance of Indian Karthikeyan's performance.

"We are not worried about the results of the test. Everybody knows that the lap times during a test is not the most important thing, because the teams use the test in order to prove and make changes in the car," she insisted.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone on Thursday hinted he would not be sad to see HRT or another straggler fall out of the sport.

"Twelve teams is too many," he told BBC radio. "I'd like to see ten, that's enough."

De la Rosa admits recent Renault talks
(GMM) Pedro de la Rosa has confirmed he had talks with Renault when the team was contemplating injured Robert Kubica's replacement.

The Enstone based team ultimately plumped for another F1 veteran, Nick Heidfeld, but boss Eric Boullier said recently that Vitantonio Liuzzi was also a candidate.

"I talked a little with Pedro de la Rosa," said the Frenchman.

40-year-old de la Rosa confirmed: "What I said to Renault when they called me was 'I have experience, I'm fast and I don't need 200 laps to know what to change in a car to make it competitive'."

His alternative plans for the 2011 are not known, but de la Rosa has said he wants to stay in F1 in some capacity, perhaps as a reserve driver or with Pirelli.

"My expectations are to stay as an active driver in F1 for three more years," he said in a Spanish language interview on his official website.

"In the end, everything depends on how you are physically. Now I'm very strong, probably better than when I was 20," insisted de la Rosa.

He admits he has made some wrong moves in F1.

"My biggest mistakes were two," he said. "The first was being tester with Jordan (in 1998) without getting many laps. I should have tried to convince Repsol to enter as a racer with a modest team.

"The second mistake was signing for Jaguar (in 2001), a team with a big budget but minimal infrastructure. When I was there it was the only team in the championship without a wind tunnel.

"I got into the wrong car and I'm still trying to find the right one," he joked.

Whitmarsh defends Pirelli after tire criticisms
(GMM) Martin Whitmarsh has leapt to Pirelli's defense amid widespread criticism of the marque's 2011 tires.

Some drivers are bemoaning the tires' severe degradation, but McLaren and FOTA chief Whitmarsh believes some of those views are unfair.

"We complain about high wear, but no one talks about the good grip of the tires when new," he reportedly told Motor Sport.

"The wear can only be high because the grip when new is high. The drivers and teams should perhaps be more careful in their expressions," Dutch website quotes the Briton as saying.

"It's easy to step into the car and complain, but we want more pitstops and we want cars that at various stages of the race are fighting with their tires. That's part of the show," insisted Whitmarsh.

"Bridgestone were always a great partner, but from my position at FOTA I have heard several times in recent years pressure for tires with more risk.

"But now we publicly criticize the degradation of these (Pirelli) tires.

"The job of tire supplier is a thankless one, as the higher wear is a feature that was requested to make the show better," he added.

Mercedes now 'a second off' the pace – Brawn
(GMM) Ross Brawn has revealed that Mercedes' 2011 car is "about a second" off the pace.

There had been concerns about the W02's performance following the initial winter tests, but team figures insist a major upgrade package is scheduled for the start of the season.

"We're about a second off where we want to be, which is at the front, so we've got to find a second in the upgrade which we think we can do," team boss Brawn told BBC radio on Thursday.

"But you never know what others will do — we've set out our plan and we'll know in Melbourne if it's right," he added.

However, rumors are circulating that the Melbourne upgrade – featuring a new exhaust layout – has failed the FIA crash tests.

"Performance, obviously from what we've seen on the track, at the moment is not as good as we would like," team chief executive Nick Fry told Reuters.

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