Latest F1 news in brief

  • FIA, teams unite after four-hour meeting
  • McLaren try 2009 wing, nose at Jerez test
  • Alonso doubts Renault to follow Honda exit
  • Honda 'no great loss' to F1 – Ecclestone
  • F1 exit could cost Honda $150m – report
  • Mosley to decide own future in June
  • Webber to return to Europe shortly
  • Webber races near top of Aus sports rich list
  • No proper launch for new Williams

FIA, teams unite after four-hour meeting
(GMM) In Monaco on Wednesday, F1's governing body, and the alliance of nine remaining teams, hailed the sport's "most successful" meeting ever.

Following the four-hour summit in Monte Carlo, a joint statement said agreement was reached on matters for 2010 and beyond, while "significant cost saving" should result from FOTA's proposals for 2009.

More details will be available after Friday's meeting of the World Motor Sport Council, but it is understood a compromise solution has been found between Max Mosley's stance on standard engines, and FOTA's proposals for a low-cost 2011 engine formula to retain F1's "DNA".

"Agreement was reached on measures to meet all the objectives originally put forward by the FIA for 2010 and thereafter," an extract of the statement, provided with a joint FOTA/FIA letterhead, said.

"I am delighted with the outcome of this meeting," FIA president Mosley said.

McLaren tested a 2009 front wing on Wednesday

McLaren try 2009 wing, nose at Jerez test
(GMM) Another piece of the 2009 formula one grid fell into place on Wednesday, when McLaren debuted a front nose and wing conforming with next year's radically altered bodywork rules.

BMW-Sauber, Williams and Honda have already tested visible elements of the 2009 regulations, including the front wing, which is notably wider than in 2008.

The task of testing McLaren's new wing at Jerez fell to test driver Pedro de la Rosa, whose MP4-23 was fitted with a 2008 rear wing.

"The evaluation was extremely positive," McLaren said in a statement.

Also at the Spanish circuit on Wednesday, local Fernando Alonso drew crowds with his first appearance of the winter, but while he was trying slick tires, he ran off the circuit and clipped a barrier.

"It was nice to run on the slick tires as they are more grippy, but when you lose the downforce from the car they don't feel massively different to grooved tires," he said.

The 27-year-old will again be on duty on Thursday, for Renault's last day of testing in 2008.

Other notable contenders in action on Wednesday were both Ferrari and BMW-Sauber's 2009 race drivers.

Alonso doubts Renault to follow Honda exit
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has moved to play down speculation that Renault could be the next manufacturer to pull out of formula one.

Honda has reduced the 2009 grid to just 18 cars by deciding to withdraw, but the French carmaker Renault has been similarly affected by the global economic crisis' impact on car sales.

As he returned to work at the Jerez test circuit on Wednesday, however, former double world champion Alonso doubted that Renault's participation in F1 is in doubt.

"I don't think so," he is quoted as saying by the Spanish newspaper AS.

"Renault has always had a sensible approach to F1. It is not a team that squanders money. I believe we are in a good position to fight for the next championship," said Alonso.

The Spaniard said he was "surprised" by Honda's decision to pull out, especially in the middle of the FIA and fellow teams' efforts to drastically reduce costs.

"It is a shame and a big surprise for me and most of the people in the paddock, because Honda has been around for a long time and was one of the biggest teams.

"I can imagine it was not an easy decision for them to take and I hope that no-one else does the same," he added.

Honda 'no great loss' to F1 – Ecclestone
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has dismissed Honda's departure as "no great loss" to his formula one empire.

The Japanese marque was involved with the sport initially in the 60s, with huge success as an engine supplier in the 80s and early 90s, and most recently with its Brackley based works team.

But although his grid could be reduced to just 18 cars for the forthcoming 2009 season, F1 chief executive Ecclestone played down Honda's departure.

"Honda will be no great loss," he said at the London boutique Moussaieff, where his daughter Tamara was unveiled as the new 'face' of the jeweler.

Ecclestone, 78, added: "Just look at where they finished in the championship — ninth. They wasted millions and were a bad example to other teams.

"In formula one, teams come and go. It's not the end of the world. Only Ferrari has been there since the start.

"Now they've gone, we've got a chance to bring in some sense to the teams about how much they should spend."

The Daily Telegraph newspaper said Ecclestone believes a new buyer of the Brackley team will be announced next week.

He said: "I'm keen for the team to be kept in place. We have whittled it down to three serious potential buyers."

Meanwhile, former triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart believes the global slump in car sales is not the only reason for Honda's decision to part.

"I don't think Honda would have closed down their operations if they had finished third or fourth rather than ninth in the constructors' championship," the Scot told The Herald.

F1 exit could cost Honda $150m – report
(GMM) Honda has pulled out of formula one to escape its huge annual budgets, but even walking away from the sport is expected to cost the beleaguered manufacturer an immense sum.

Britain's The Times newspaper, citing 'industry experts', estimates the bill could near $150 million unless a buyer can quickly be found.

Compensation for driver Jenson Button's recently-signed new multiple year contract may be more than $35m, while Honda would have to fund redundancy packages for Brackley's well-paid 700 staff.

Should a buyer not be found, Honda will also have to fund the disposal of the high-tech F1 factory, and then deal with the consequences of the termination of dozens of supplier contracts.

"Five years from now, I think history will show we made the right decision," Honda Motor Company president Takeo Fukui said.

Mosley to decide own future in June
(GMM) Max Mosley will decide in June whether to commit to the FIA presidency for another four-year term.

The 68-year-old Briton, earlier this year embroiled in a sex scandal but now hailed by some as the champion of a new sustainable formula one, said at the Motor Sport Business Forum in Monaco: "I don't think I shall stand again, but we shall see."

His current term runs out late in 2009.

Mosley had earlier ruled out remaining president into his 70s, but in the immediate aftermath of the sex scandal this year he admitted "pressure" to stay on.

"I am delaying a decision until June," he said on Wednesday.

Webber to return to Europe shortly
(GMM) Mark Webber will shortly return to Europe, less than a month after badly breaking his right leg in a cycling crash.

The 32-year-old Australian is currently recuperating in Melbourne, after having surgery in a Tasmanian hospital following the accident on the island state.

Webber, who drives for Red Bull, had staples removed from the injury last Wednesday, and was told by doctors he can return home to Buckinghamshire (UK) as soon as the swelling reduces and the wound heals.

Red Bull Racing confirmed that, once out of Australia, Webber's rehabilitation and physiotherapy will begin in earnest.

He has targeted returning to the cockpit at the beginning of February, when the Milton-Keynes based team's 2009 car will be up and running.

Webber races near top of Aus sports rich list
(GMM) Red Bull driver Mark Webber, currently nursing a broken leg, has emerged near the top of a list of Australia's highest sports earners.

Business Review Weekly (BRW) magazine said the 32-year-old formula one racer made $8.5 million in 2008, placing him fourth overall on the Top 50 Sports Earners list.

Webber was beaten to third place by Chad Reed, a supercross rider based in America, whose $8.7 million income was less than both soccer player Harry Kewell ($10.5m) and golfer Greg Norman ($20.9m).

Another Australian racer made the top ten: Mat Mladin, whose $6.5m was made in America's premier superbike series.

BRW Rich List editor John Stensholt said the ranking is compiled based on publicly available information, as well as off-the-record conversations with agents, managers and sports teams.

No proper launch for new Williams
(GMM) British independent formula one team Williams has confirmed reports it will not stage a traditional launch event for the unveiling of its 2009 car.

As was the case this year, the Oxfordshire based outfit will simply roll its new single seater, the Toyota-powered FW31, onto a winter test circuit some time in January without fanfare.

The car's final livery will then be shown publicly in late February, prior to the season opening Australian grand prix in late March.

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