Latest F1 news in brief

  • Ecclestone received pay-raise in 2008
  • Symonds says Singapore crash was Piquet's idea
  • No driver announcements until later – Haug
  • Three car idea 'not thought through' – Haug
  • Ferrari would allow Fisi to keep racing in 2010
  • Liechtenstein firm linked with Sauber buyout
  • Ferrari hints Schu to stay in 2010
  • Ferrari to ask rivals for Massa test
  • Mallya to test Chandhok in F1 simulator
  • Force India motor home rumors 'ridiculous'

Ecclestone received pay-raise in 2008
(GMM) F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone received a pay-raise of nearly 15 per cent last year, a report in the Financial Times reveals.

The 78-year-old therefore made about $6.5m in 2008, which is more than 80 per cent of the fees set aside for directors of the Formula One Management company.

At the same time, F1's owners CVC recorded losses for the sport in excess of $500m, as teams were paid more prize money – totaling more than half a billion dollars – in the wake of Honda's shock departure.

$22m was written off when Canada dropped off the race calendar. $84m, meanwhile, was paid off F1's debts, leaving $2.3bn to be repaid by 2014.

Symonds says Singapore crash was Piquet's idea
(GMM) The accusation that Renault instructed Nelson Piquet to crash on purpose at last year's Singapore grand prix did originate from the now-ousted Brazilian driver, it is reported.

Reports in British newspapers including the Mirror and the Times claim Piquet informed the FIA that he agreed to the race-fixing.

The crash was reportedly discussed in a pre-race meeting with Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds – but not Fernando Alonso – and agreed by Piquet because he thought it might result in a new contract for 2009.

FIA investigators were also informed by Piquet that Symonds, Renault's veteran engineering director, told the 23-year-old driver specifically that the crash should occur on lap 13 or 14 to activate Alonso's race strategy.

Turn 17 was selected as the crash site reportedly because the lack of nearby cranes would mean removal of the damaged car would be difficult and deployment of the safety car therefore more likely.

Documents lodged in reply to the accusations by Briatore and Symonds confirm the pre-race meeting but Symonds insists it was Piquet who suggested the crash be staged during the "conversation".

The Times newspaper said Briatore, who in his submission reportedly completely denies the charges, is likening the situation – with Piquet's father believed to have been the first to contact Max Mosley with the claims in late July – to "extortion".

It is also reported that, a few days after his last race for Renault in Hungary, Piquet Jr travelled to Paris to lodge the accusations in writing with the FIA.

No driver announcements until later – Haug
(GMM) McLaren may not make its announcements about drivers for the 2010 season until after November's Abu Dhabi finale, Norbert Haug suggested earlier this week.

Amid the driver 'silly season', the speculation surrounding Mercedes-powered McLaren is rife: Heikki Kovalainen's future is unclear, and his expected successor Nico Rosberg is now linked instead with a move to Brawn GP.

"It is still very early. Perhaps we will announce our driver pairing at the end of the season, but that is not for sure," Mercedes' competition director Haug is quoted as saying.

It has also emerged that, despite previously scheduling the announcement for Monza, Mercedes will no longer publicize its plans for its 2010 customer engine program this weekend.

Three car idea 'not thought through' – Haug
(GMM) Mercedes may also oppose Ferrari's plans to give teams the ability to field three cars apiece in the near future.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, who is also chairman of the teams association FOTA, said after heading a meeting with colleagues at Monza on Wednesday that the issue of allowing three cars had been discussed.

Williams has already indicated that it will block the introduction of the measure, and Mercedes' Norbert Haug told "This (three cars) idea has not been thought through."

"Perhaps Ferrari is interested because they have so many drivers under contract," the German added.

Haug is referring to the fact that, as well as being contractually obliged to both Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen for 2010, Ferrari has also apparently signed Fernando Alonso and remains interested in housing a Michael Schumacher comeback.

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali said that, contrary to Ferrari's wishes, he was not sure the three-car regime will arrive for 2010.

"It is difficult, unless the (three) new teams take a step back," he admitted in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Ferrari would allow Fisi to keep racing in 2010
(GMM) Ferrari will allow its new 2010 reserve driver Giancarlo Fisichella to race with another F1 team next year.

"If Ferrari is in agreement, in 2010 I could race with another team," the 36-year-old Roman said earlier this week.

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali said the Maranello outfit would not stand in Fisichella's way if he can extend his career of more than 230 grands prix beyond his forthcoming five-race stint in the cockpit of injured Felipe Massa's car.

"There are no clauses that would prevent him from racing with another team," the Italian said during an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport.

In fact, Domenicali said Fisichella racing elsewhere in 2010 would actually be beneficial "because he would remain trained".

However, it is clear he will not be returning to Force India in 2010, despite achieving the team's first pole position, points and podium less than two weeks ago at Spa.

After Vijay Mallya last week released Fisichella to race for Ferrari, the team's Indian boss said in a statement: "We wish him all the best for the future."

Liechtenstein firm linked with Sauber buyout
(GMM) Following the links with Malaysian and Indian investors, yet more possible saviors of the BMW-Sauber team have now emerged.

Germany's Sport Bild mentioned Kaiser Ritter, a Liechtenstein wealth management firm, whose chief Fritz Kaiser co-owned the Hinwil based outfit until 1999.

It is said that Kaiser helped secure Petronas as a sponsor and was involved in Sauber's team management until he sold his 30 per cent stake ten years ago.

Sport Bild also said another group of potential investors is from the real estate sector in Luxembourg.

It is said that team boss Mario Theissen, who told Switzerland's Motorsport Aktuell that a Honda/Brawn-style management buyout is not likely, expects imminent decisions about 2010 and "even race wins" next year.

Technical director Willy Rampf also sounds bullish about the future, despite earlier indicating that he will leave formula one if BMW-Sauber folds.

Now, he comments: "I cannot leave my team in a difficult moment."

Ferrari hints Schu to stay in 2010
(GMM) Team boss Stefano Domenicali has indicated that Michael Schumacher is set to remain under contract to Ferrari in 2010 and beyond.

Schumacher, 40, is due to sit down with Ferrari bosses and his manager Willi Weber at Monza this weekend to discuss how to proceed given his expiring agreement as a team advisor.

"We want to find a solution, because Schumacher and Ferrari are inseparable," Domenicali said in an interview with Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

He even refuses to rule out a return to the F1 grid for the German.

"In the way in which Michael responded to our call (to replace Felipe Massa), I believe he still has the will in his mind to be a race driver. If not, he would have hung up his helmet," said Domenicali.

The team chief also indicated that Luca Badoer has a future at Ferrari, despite speculation his disastrous two-race stint in Massa's car had irreparably damaged his career.

"We will find a solution not only for him but also for (fellow tester) Marc Gene," Domenicali said.

Ferrari to ask rivals for Massa test
(GMM) Ferrari will soon try again to gain an exemption from the in-season testing ban.

Earlier this year, the Italian team's request for a one-off run in the 2009 car for Michael Schumacher was blocked by rivals including Williams and Red Bull.

But the object of Ferrari's next request will be Felipe Massa, who team boss Stefano Domenicali said on Wednesday will "get back on track … as soon as the doctors give the all clear".

Apart from short runs on demonstration tires for promotions and some straight-line aerodynamic tests, all circuit testing during the season is strictly banned.

"We want to ask for a dispensation (for Massa) and I'm convinced the other teams will grant it to us," Domenicali told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

F1 bosses at Monza on Wednesday discussed the possibility of allowing some testing in 2010 in the event that teams need to change their race line-ups, and for new drivers.

Mallya to test Chandhok in F1 simulator
(GMM) Karun Chandhok will be given tests in Force India's driving simulator but team boss Vijay Mallya denied he is under pressure to fast-track an Indian national to the formula one grid.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone this week said he was disappointed Mallya decided to replace the Ferrari-bound Giancarlo Fisichella with another Italian, Tonio Liuzzi, rather than give India a boost in the form of promoting Indian GP2 driver Chandhok.

Team owner Mallya responded on Thursday by revealing that Liuzzi's contract as reserve driver meant he had to step up to replace Fisichella.

He also told the PTI news agency that Force India doesn't need to have an Indian driver at any cost.

"Bernie obviously recognizes vast potentials in India and that an Indian driver in F1 will probably, I say probably, make the sport more popular in our country. So one cannot find fault with his comment or desire," said Mallya.

"The entire issue has got too dramatized," the billionaire added. "I have been discussing the issue with Karun Chandhok and have already agreed to put him in the driver simulator to see how he handles the F1 car.

"At the end of the day he must win some GP2 races and come out good in the F1 simulator. And if he is competitive in the simulator, I would be the first one to offer him a position in Force India," Mallya said.

Force India motor home rumors 'ridiculous'
(GMM) Force India is back on track with its regular motor home in the paddock of the Italian grand prix at Monza this weekend.

At Spa two weeks ago, team members were housed in a shabbier-looking MotoGP unit, raising questions about the financial health of the Silverstone based squad.

It was also whispered that Force India didn't want to take its impressive structure to Belgium because it was so close to the headquarters and legal jurisdiction of an unpaid German creditor.

"This is ridiculous," team boss Vijay Mallya is quoted as saying on Thursday by the Indian news agency PTI, explaining that it was the back-to-back nature of the Valencia-Spa races that prompted the decision to use the MotoGP structure.

"For your information, my motor home weighs 40 ton and takes three days to dismantle and another three days to erect," he insisted.

"That's why we sent our original motor home to Monza and used a temporary one in Spa," explained Mallya.

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