Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Mark Webber agrees with Jackie Stewart

    Webber backs Stewart's criticism of Tilke

  • Alonso fends off Hamilton 'sabotage' reports
  • Pirelli switch 'not good for big teams' – Alonso
  • 'Impossible' to predict Kubica recovery – manager
  • De la Rosa eyes F1 stay 'one way or another'
  • Drivers express concern about Pirelli degradation
  • Some pay drivers are 'moving obstacles' – Vettel
  • 'F1 foray' named as Lotus owner slumps
  • New Mercedes 'not a bad car' – Brawn
  • SingTel finally confirms Singapore GP extension

Webber backs Stewart's criticism of Tilke
(GMM) Mark Webber has backed triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart's views about formula one circuit design.

"Spot on", said the Australian driver on Twitter, after reading famous Scot Stewart's new column in London's Daily Telegraph.

While discussing the problem that some grands prix are not exciting enough, the 71-year-old pointed a finger of criticism at Hermann Tilke.

"I fear he has not done much for the spectators," he said.

Stewart said a major difference between F1 and golf is that golf courses are not "designed by the same person".

"Put simply, they are largely carbon copies of each other and they tend not to penalize mistakes," he said, referring to the new generation of F1 tracks.

Recalling the Abu Dhabi finale last year, Stewart said Fernando Alonso made some "fairly big mistakes" whilst trying to pass Vitaly Petrov, yet Webber was still unable to overtake.

"That is plainly wrong," said Stewart, who was a long campaigner for better safety in formula one after witnessing many of his friends and rivals die in the 60s and 70s.

"It is nearly 17 years since a life was lost in an F1 car," he said, referring to the death of Ayrton Senna in 1994.

"But we have now gone too far the other way. Circuits should not permit liberties to be abused without a penalty that can be instantly recognized by spectators or TV viewers.

"Safety is one thing; abuse of privilege is another," he insisted.

Alonso fends off Hamilton 'sabotage' reports
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has fended off the latest press revelations about his stormy relationship with McLaren and Lewis Hamilton in 2007.

In his newly-launched biography about Bernie Ecclestone, author Tom Bower said Spaniard Alonso had asked his then boss Ron Dennis in Hungary to sabotage the sister car driven by Hamilton so that it ran out of fuel.

Bower's 'No Angel' book also claimed that Alonso, who now drives for Ferrari, tried to blackmail Dennis into making him the team's number one driver in exchange for keeping quiet about spygate emails.

"I ignore what is said from other countries," Alonso was quoted by the Spanish press at a sponsor event in Madrid.

Asked about the Bower accusations specifically, he added: "I don't know — everybody is getting on with their own jobs."

Pirelli switch 'not good for big teams' – Alonso
(GMM) Fernando Alonso believes F1's switch to Pirelli tires is "not good for the big teams".

There have been widespread complaints about the severe degradation of the 2011-specification products supplied by the sport's new official supplier.

"There will be lots of pitstops," said the Ferrari driver at a sponsor event in Madrid, according to the Spanish press.

"There will be three or four (pitstops per race) and that's not good for the big teams," Alonso added.

"It mixes the situation, just as in football if there was a penalty each half hour, Barcelona and Real Madrid would not be happy. If it's better for anybody, it's the small teams," he said.

The Spaniard would not, however, be drawn on the likely pecking order for the first race of the season.

"In other years you could have a slight idea," he explained. "But with so many elements and variables to take into account now – moving wings, tires and KERS – it is virtually impossible to know.

"What we do know is that our car is reliable and that we are happy with it, but not whether it is faster or slower than the others."

Asked which teams have made the most progress since 2010, Alonso answered: "Renault and Toro Rosso."

'Impossible' to predict Kubica recovery – manager
(GMM) Robert Kubica's manager will not be drawn on when the F1 world can expect the popular Polish driver to be back in action.

"Robert is recovering well," Daniele Morelli told Radio Sportiva, "but at the moment it is impossible to predict if and when he returns to racing."

He said it is a good sign that Kubica, 26, is not suffering from any infections or complications after undergoing major surgeries on horror injuries sustained in a recent rally crash.

Morelli said the earliest "passive physiotherapy" has begun, but it is too early to predict a return to formula one.

"We must distinguish between our optimism and the indulging of fanciful assumptions," he insisted. "At the moment it's impossible to talk about timeframes."

Morelli revealed last week that Kubica had decided not to sue the organizers of the Ronde di Andorra rally.

"The police investigations are still ongoing and of course that will take its time as well.

"What is certain is that the guardrails were dangerous," he says now.

Fernando Alonso said at a sponsor event in Madrid on Monday that he visited his friend again after the recent Barcelona test.

"He is recovering from his operations and is bored with the 16 or 17 hour days with nothing to do," said the Ferrari driver.

De la Rosa eyes F1 stay 'one way or another'
(GMM) Santander is continuing its relationship with Pedro de la Rosa.

A spokesman for the Spanish bank, which sponsors the Ferrari and McLaren teams in formula one, revealed the news during an event featuring Fernando Alonso in Madrid on Monday.

Juan Manuel Cendoya is quoted in the Spanish press as describing the newly 40-year-old de la Rosa as "a knight of F1" who has "standing and credibility".

The only remaining race seat for 2011 is with the Spanish team HRT, who are thought likely to sign another pay-driver to be Narain Karthikeyan's teammate.

De la Rosa, also with the Pirelli tire testing role to fall back upon, has said his back-up plan is a third driver role with an F1 team.

He told Europa Press on his birthday last week that he will be in the sport in 2011 "one way or another" but did not elaborate.

Drivers express concern about Pirelli degradation
(GMM) Three leading F1 drivers have admitted their concerns about this year's Pirelli tires.

"The problem is that they degrade too quickly," reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel said on Austrian television Servus TV.

"By lap 16 or 17 they're falling apart," said the German, who said the problems could push drivers up to 10 "or maybe more" seconds per lap off the pace.

Vettel said there is not enough time now for Pirelli to redesign and rebuild new tires for the 2011 season.

"The hard tires degrade just as quickly as the softs," Fernando Alonso is quoted by El Pais newspaper after a sponsor visit to Madrid on Monday.

Vettel said it is wrong to suggest that sensitive drivers like Jenson Button will benefit the most from the severe degradation.

"The problem is that after a certain number of laps the tire is finished, no matter what the driver does," the German added.

Force India's Adrian Sutil told Auto Motor und Sport that when the Pirelli tires degrade, "It's like being in a touring car".

"(Or) like being on intermediates," added the German.

"I've tried to drive differently, say 20 per cent slower at the beginning, and that gives you maybe on more lap.

"We will probably all be pitting at the same time, and quite often," said Sutil.

He predicted that the first impact on F1 is that, due to the limited supply of dry tires per driver, there will be less action in free practice.

"After the tires break down you can't really test anything," said Sutil.

Some pay drivers are 'moving obstacles' – Vettel
(GMM) Sebastian Vettel has admitted he is worried about the "pay driver" issue in formula one.

The global economic situation has led to an increase in the number of drivers who bring substantial financial backing to their teams.

World champion Vettel said on Austrian television Servus TV that the situation is compromising the quality of the F1 grid.

"There is a risk to us if the drivers being lapped are unpredictable," answered the German when asked if the pay-drivers are dangerous.

"There are some in the field that we know are moving obstacles," added 23-year-old Vettel.

Complicating the issue, he said, is that the return of KERS and the debut of moveable rear wings causes drivers to take their eyes off the track.

"It's a bit like driving a car while playing with your mobile phone," said the German.

'F1 foray' named as Lotus owner slumps
(GMM) Proton, the owner of Renault's new title sponsor Group Lotus, has recorded big losses and a slumping share price, according to reports in the Malaysian press.

And automotive analysts OSK Research projected more of the same in the future due to "branding and marketing costs" incurred by Proton's "F1 foray", a report in the Star newspaper read.

Proton advisor Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the former Malaysian prime minister, also acknowledged the Lotus factor in the figures.

"(Proton is) actually profitable but its profit has been trimmed because of the losses incurred by Lotus," he is quoted by the Bernama news agency.

New Mercedes 'not a bad car' – Brawn
(GMM) Ross Brawn has admitted that Mercedes will be pushing for performance at the final test of the pre-season next week.

Asked by Auto Motor und Sport about his assessment of the new W02 car so far, the Brackley based team's boss said: "I would say it's reasonable.

"It will not be a bad car, but of course we don't know where the others are."

The Briton said Mercedes has been focusing on "getting the package to work" at the first three winter tests, with Barcelona recently being the deadline for "solving all the problems".

"At the final test in Barcelona (next week) we will be looking at the lap time," said Brawn.

One of the big questions ahead of the 2011 season is whether the combination of Mercedes' new car and the new Pirelli tires will allow Michael Schumacher to be more competitive this season.

"There is still a lack of comparative data," Brawn insisted. "What I can see is a very motivated Michael."

Overall, all he would say is that "Red Bull are strong, Ferrari, Renault and us look good. The other teams, I could only guess.

"It's difficult to quantify how big Red Bull's advantage is," Brawn continued. "I don't know what development steps they are yet to bring for the first race. For us, it's a big step."

He hinted that among Mercedes' changes is an "exhaust solution", adding that "so far I haven't seen anyone with something similar".

"Until now we've had the exhaust where it was last year," he said, admitting that the new solution is "not as extreme" as on the Renault or McLaren.

SingTel finally confirms Singapore GP extension
(GMM) SingTel has finally confirmed a new two-year agreement to remain the naming sponsor of the Singapore grand prix.

We reported last October that the local telecommunications company had inked a new estimated $30 million contract to associate with the city-state's popular night race.

But a spokesman had told us that SingTel was "still in discussions" with F1 officials.

SingTel announced the 2011-2012 extension on Tuesday.

"We are proud to be continuing as the title sponsor," said group chief executive Chua Sock Koong.

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