Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

UPDATE Updates shown in Red below.


  • Red faces after McLaren email gaffe
  • Chavez confirms backing for Maldonado, Williams
  • Team Lotus to consider keeping green livery in 2011
  • Webber plays down shoulder injury secret
  • Hispania in no rush to sign drivers for 2011
  • Mosley: Two or three teams could go in 2011
  • Lotus name dispute heading to court – Asmat New
  • Hulkenberg admits hoping for Force India seat New

Red faces after McLaren email gaffe
(GMM) A gaffe by McLaren's communications department late on Wednesday left the British team with red faces and some members of the media venting their anger.

The team sent an email to the hundreds of regular recipients of its press releases asking them to update their contact details ahead of the 2011 season.

But McLaren forgot to hide the email id of the 'priority' and 'general' media distribution lists, meaning that recipients pressing 'reply all' accidently sent their details to hundreds of members of the media all over the world.

Realizing the foul-up and seeing their inboxes and phones becoming flooded with emails, some journalists displayed anger at the mistake, whilst others saw a funnier side.

On Twitter, the saga is now known as 'McLarenmailgate'.

"McLaren's version of Facebook can perhaps be called McBook," one email reply read.

The most famous personality to press 'reply all' was former racer and now British television commentator Martin Brundle, who was not amused.

He wrote: "What a ridiculous **** up," he wrote. "Brilliant. Hello everybody. My Blackberry battery is not prepared for this. Happy Christmas."

Chavez confirms backing for Maldonado, Williams
(GMM) The president of Venezuela has confirmed his backing of Pastor Maldonado and the Williams team for 2011.

With the support of the government and the state oil company PDVSA, new GP2 champion Maldonado will make his formula one debut next year following the ousting of promising German rookie Nico Hulkenberg.

"I will be looking to get some good results in return for the support my country has given me to help get me to this position today," said the 25-year-old in Williams' media statement on 1 December.

But the Williams press release made no mention of PDVSA as an incoming sponsor.

"We are supporting Pastor Maldonado and his team through Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA)," president Chavez confirmed according to Europa Press.

He said Venezuela's backing of Maldonado began because he needed "money — a lot of money!"

Team Lotus to consider keeping green livery in 2011
(GMM) Team Lotus looks likely to ditch its plans for a black and gold livery in 2011 following confirmation of Group Lotus' collaboration with the separate Renault outfit.

Weeks ago, as the Lotus name dispute was developing amid rumors Group Lotus was eyeing a separate F1 foray, Tony Fernandes' team announced it would abandon its green and yellow livery of 2010.

Lotus' iconic green and yellow has been deployed by Group Lotus in other racing series this year including IndyCar, so Team Lotus said it had decided to go a different route for 2011.

"I know the return to the track of the legendary black and gold will be met with universal support as it strikes such an emotional chord with fans around the world," said chief executive Riad Asmat.

The black and gold was made famous by the JPS-sponsored cars driven by the likes of Ayrton Senna in the 80s.

But when Group Lotus' 'Lotus Renault GP' plans were unveiled on Wednesday, the Enstone based team – also releasing photos of a re-livered R30 car – said its cars will also be black and gold next year.

As the news broke, fans of Fernandes' Team Lotus urged the Malaysian outfit to simply stick with green and yellow.

Mike Gascoyne's secretary duly took a poll, showing 77 per cent support for retaining the current colors, while only 15 per cent want the next car to be black.

"Seems pretty conclusive," said technical boss Gascoyne.

Fernandes accused Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar of "hijacking" Team Lotus' livery plans, but Renault team owner Gerard Lopez said the opposite is in fact true.

"We always had the idea and then it leaked out through the press," he told the Telegraph.

"Three days later they (Team Lotus) were announcing they were doing black and gold.

"At the end of the day, I don't think there will be any confusion as to which cars will be which in terms of position on the track," added Lopez.

Bahar said he doubts all four Lotus cars will be black in 2011, but insisted that if it does happen, he would be "fine with it as it would increase the visibility" of the brand.

"For me, four are better than two," he told BBC Radio Norfolk. "I have nothing against that."

He added that Proton, the Malaysian carmaker that owns Group Lotus, will be handling the legal side of the affair.

Bahar explained that Group Lotus decided to enter F1 with an established team rather than link up with Fernandes' new foray because the former is "much, much more" affordable.

"We believe there is the potential to go back to where they (Renault F1) were when they were winning world championship titles," he explained.

Webber plays down shoulder injury secret
(GMM) Mark Webber has played down this week's news that he contested the last four races of 2010 with a fractured shoulder.

Whether the injury dented his championship chances or not, the most explosive revelation is that he hid it from Red Bull Racing.

Team boss Christian Horner reacted with frustration and disappointment, sparking new speculation the 34-year-old Australian driver might not return to his cockpit next season.

"A little bit of information can be a dangerous thing!" remarked Webber, referring to the explosive paragraph in his new official book 'Up front, a season to remember'.

"I think it must be a fairly quiet week news-wise."

He insists only FIA doctor Gary Hartstein and his trainer Roger Cleary knew about his shoulder because "I was very confident it wouldn't affect my performance in the car".

"It wasn't causing me a problem so there was no need to talk about it to anyone," said Webber, explaining that he received painkilling injections only as "an absolute precaution".

"I've never missed a grand prix but of course if I couldn't drive the car safely and on the limit, I would have notified the team," he insisted.

Webber also rubbished reports that scheduled surgery on the injured right shoulder was the reason he sat out the recent Pirelli tire test in Abu Dhabi.

"I can't imagine where those stories came from," he said. "I was never down to do that test."

Hispania in no rush to sign drivers for 2011
HRT team principal c has said there are a number of drivers being considered for the team in 2011 and that they are in no rush to fill their seats for next season.
Kolles told, “We are in talks with many drivers.. And I will not comment on who these drivers are because I do not think it is fair to comment on unless there is a signed contract."

He added, “However we are not necessarily in a hurry, the final deadline to file the names of our drivers is scheduled for three days before the first race. Of course."

The report added that Kolles was impressed with Davide Valsecchi who tested for the team in Abu Dhabi last month.

When asked about the Italian the Hispania boss said, “What do I think of him? He has done an excellent job in the test. And, if he continues at that level, then he’s ready to race in Formula 1 next year. We are in talks with him."

Mosley: Two or three teams could go in 2011
Former FIA President Max Mosley has warned Formula One’s powers-that-be that much more needs to be done to cut costs and he has predicted that two or three teams could quit in 2011 unless something is done to address the issue.

“A crisis threatens F1," Mosley said in an interview with Die Welt this week. “At the moment we are celebrating a great season. But the future looks bleak.

“In 2011 you will need 100 million dollars to compete. 30 or 40 million will come from Bernie Ecclestone and perhaps 20 or 25 million will be from sponsors or a pay driver. I think around six teams are asking themselves where they will get the rest from. The FIA cannot afford to lose any more teams. It is possible two or three teams could quit.

“In January 2008 I warned that without cost reduction it wouldn’t just be the small teams that would have problems, but also the manufacturers. That forecast happened. Honda, BMW, Toyota and Renault quit because the budgets were spiraling out of control. It is like that today still and that concerns me."

Mosley meanwhile was also critical with how F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has continued to expand the schedule. Next year F1 will feature a record 20 races with India joining the fold and with the USA and Russia also set to join in the next few years, costs will be pushed up even more.

“For me, personally it is too such," Mosley added. “In my opinion that is too many Sunday afternoon’s people will have to align to follow F1.

“It will become annoying and if you miss one race, it might become a habit and then it will snowball and affect the ratings."

Lotus name dispute heading to court – Asmat
(GMM) Team Lotus on Thursday seemed resigned to the naming dispute with new F1 competitor Group Lotus proceeding to court.

Earlier, it was thought possible Tony Fernandes' Malaysian team would simply adopt an all-new name for 2011 due to Group Lotus withdrawing its official license and deciding to enter F1 in partnership with Renault.

Fernandes said recently that he did not want to "destroy" the Lotus brand and heritage by dragging the saga through the legal system.

But the team's chief executive Riad Asmat on Thursday indicated the case will indeed proceed to London's High Court.

"I think that will be fair to everyone and the courts will explain everything to everyone," he told Bernama news agency.

Asmat indicated he doubts Group Lotus completely controls the 'Lotus' brand.

"Did anyone have any specific guidelines? I am not aware of that," he said.

"Oh, they (Proton) said they own the (Lotus) name, well we own the name Team Lotus (and) that is why we are racing as Team Lotus."

Asked if there is a difference between 'Lotus' and 'Team Lotus', he answered: "Yes, there is a big difference in terms of ownership."

Hulkenberg admits hoping for Force India seat
(GMM) Nico Hulkenberg has admitted for the first time that Force India is his best chance of staying on the F1 grid in 2011.

The promising rookie and Interlagos pole sitter was ousted by Williams after a single season in favor of the new GP2 champion Pastor Maldonado, who is heavily backed by the Venezuelan government.

23-year-old Hulkenberg's famous manager Willi Weber recently admitted that talks with Force India are taking place, and the German driver now says he is hoping a deal can be done "before Christmas".

Asked by F1's official website who he is talking to, Hulkenberg said on Thursday: "That's no big secret — Force India is our best shot, but it is also no secret that quite a few drivers are trying to land a seat there.

"We are talking to them and let's wait and see what develops," he added.

Hulkenberg, who destroyed Maldonado as his GP2 teammate en route to the feeder series' title in 2009, said it is "sad" that money is becoming more important than talent for good F1 seats.

He admits to hoping that his sensational pole in Brazil would be the clincher for a new Williams deal for 2010.

"Of course," said Hulkenberg. "(But) there had been signs before that there was something brewing, because the team repeatedly delayed contract talks, putting it off to 'manana'.

"From the outside it is obviously hard to understand, but there must have been circumstances within the team that required such a step," he added.

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