Ecclestone – no fear of Hockenheim arrest

Bernie Ecclestone has denied suggestions he will not risk travelling to Germany next month.

Bild newspaper indicated recently the F1 chief executive might skip the race after this weekend’s British grand prix for risk of arrest. Speculation is ramping up that Ecclestone, 81, will be charged for bribery, after former F1 banker Gerhard Gribkowsky was convicted and jailed last week for receiving the payments from the Briton.

“The only thing I did wrong is that I personally paid him ten million pounds”, Ecclestone told the German newsmagazine Focus, explaining the money was paid because Gribkowsky was threatening to cause trouble with his British tax affairs.

But what about the risk of arrest in Germany?

“Of course I’m going to Hockenheim,” Ecclestone insisted.

Time will tell what the next step will be, given the Munich court’s depiction last week of Ecclestone as the “driving force” of Gribkowsky’s corruption.

“The prosecutors’ attitude has been quite aggressive in the last couple of days,” an unnamed person close to Ecclestone told the Financial Times.

Are charges likely?

“No idea,” Briton Ecclestone insisted.

The publication suggested Ecclestone may be suspended as F1’s chief executive by owners CVC if he is charged.

“What we ought to do is wait and see, shouldn’t we?” Ecclestone said.

CVC declined to comment.

Source:GMM

Play F1 Online – Open Beta

Free-to-play browser-based racer F1 Online: The Game has entered its open beta phase and is available to try from the Codemasters official site.

F1 Online: The Game is a free to play Formula One racing and management game featuring all the stars from the 2011 Formula One World Championship. Playable through your web browser, you can become a boss of your very own F1 team. Design your own livery, upgrade your cars and build your own HQ in your bid for F1 glory. The game also features Time Trials and global leaderboards.

Initially, the game allows you to take the wheel of a Red Bull Racing car – complete with KERS and DRS – around the Yas Marina circuit to get you used to the controls before allowing you to progress and create your own team.

Play the game on the Codemasters website here and then join in the discussion our official Forumula1.com forum thread.

F1Online: The Game

F1Online: The Games

Peter Sauber rethinking retirement plans

Peter Sauber has backtracked slightly, having set the scene for his retirement.

The Swiss team’s founder and boss has said numerous times over the last couple of years that “I don’t want to be sitting on the pitwall with my headphones on at 70”. Before the 2012 season is out, he will turn 69.

He has now laid the foundation for Sauber’s future beyond him, handing over a third of the team to future team boss Monisha Kaltenborn, and installing his son Alex as a prominent director.

“I’m going to stay at least until we are able to stabilise the team in a financial sense,” Peter Sauber said last year. “I want to lead the team back into a secure position and establish it at a good level. If I succeed, my mission is fulfilled.”

In the wake of BMW’s shock departure, that time has arguably now arrived, with Sergio Perez bringing solid backing from Mexico and now regularly standing on the podium with the competitive C31 car. But Peter Sauber could be backtracking.

When told about his age-of-70 retirement deadline, Sauber said on Austrian television Servus TV: “The exact date is still unclear.”

He indicated he has thought about the rigours of retirement, and might prefer life in the fast lane after all.

“To watch the races only on television is the worst thing of all,” Sauber smiled.

Source:GMM

Marko: Politics making life ‘difficult’ for Red Bull

Dr Helmut Marko insists life in the F1 paddock for Red Bull has become “really difficult” in recent times.

The energy drink owned team has dominated the sport recent and is the reigning double champion, and according to owner Dietrich Mateschitz’s right-hand man, that is the source of the negative rumblings. There have been suggestions of cost-agreement cheating, regular technical infringements, and at Valencia recently both Marko and Sebastian Vettel suggested that the safety car was deployed chiefly to spoil Vettel’s big lead.

Marko even intimated a double-standard had been applied when comparing Vettel’s drive-through penalty for using DRS in Barcelona to Michael Schumacher’s stewards escape last weekend.

“When you think about the course of a race weekend, it all sounds so nice and so simple, but it’s very different in reality,” said the Austrian. “There is so much politics involved,” Marko told motorline.cc. “If Martin Whitmarsh wishes me a pleasant day, I get really nervous and wonder what is up.”

He insisted that Red Bull’s place in the F1 paddock is a difficult one.

“The first reason is that we are not a car maker or a traditional racing car constructor. What hurts even more is that along with Ferrari we have reached a super deal with Bernie Ecclestone, and not just in the budget but also in the prestige. That’s why our life is really difficult at the moment,” said Marko.

Source:GMM

Team dithering means F1 cost-cutting at risk

he prospect of radical cost-cutting in F1 is hanging in the balance, as Jean Todt’s end-of-June deadline looms and Formula One teams dither.

That is the claim of Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, reporting the risk that June 30 could come and go without significant reforms being put to the World Motor Sport Council.

After Saturday, the 2013 rules can only be influenced by the teams in the unlikely event that they can completely agree. There were heated discussions – even involving FIA president Todt and F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone – at Valencia recently, but large areas of common ground are yet to be trodden.

“At least seven of the 12 teams are on a fine line if for example they lose a sponsor,” journalist Michael Schmidt said. “In this environment, it’s a mystery why the teams are still arguing about the introduction of cost control in the FIA sporting regulations.”

Toto Wolff, a shareholder who is gaining increasing influence at Williams, urged the need to police breaches of the cost rules, citing rumours some teams are simply ignoring the current resource restriction agreement.

“We need clear penalties as deterrents,” said the Austrian.

But his boss Sir Frank Williams said in an interview this week that he is “against any kind of interference”.

“I don’t want any third-party interference with one’s business, to have people sneaking around wanting to check this and that,” he said. “It’s just like waiting for the taxman every day.”

That interview has now disappeared from F1’s official website. And Auto Motor und Sport reports that Lotus and Force India – teams that arguably should welcome cost cutting – are opposed to the further culling of allowed wind tunnel testing time.

It seems the middle-ranking teams are most worried about the cost of buying a V6 engine and KERS package.

“I will ensure that it remains affordable,” Todt is quoted as saying, but the prices being quoted behind closed doors by F1’s engine suppliers tell a different story.

Source:GMM

McLaren considers Ferrari pull-rod for 2013 car

McLaren is considering following Ferrari’s lead and introducing innovative pull-rod front suspension for its 2013 car.

That is the claim of the Spanish sports daily Marca, citing the information of multiple Italian specialist sources.

Ferrari raised eyebrows early this year when the aggressive F2012 was launched with pull-rod suspension: a configuration not seen since Fernando Alonso raced a Minardi more than a decade ago. The Italian team’s early struggles sparked rumours Ferrari could scrap the experiment, but the subsequent giant strides of progress have now reportedly attracted McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe’s attention.

Marca said Lowe “is paying close attention to the front of the Ferrari in his preliminary studies for the MP4-28”.

“He understands it could be a good solution in allowing more air to the diffuser”.

Ferrari test driver Marc Gene has been driving the F2012 for aerodynamic straightline tests this week at the Idiada facility in Spain. Team president Luca di Montezemolo said this week Ferrari cannot relax even though Alonso, the only multiple race winner in 2012, is comfortably leading the world championship.

“Yes, I am worried, because I expect three very tough races at Silverstone, Hockenheim and Budapest and because we have seen (at Valencia) that Red Bull is very strong,” he said. “If we want to achieve our goals then we must make a step forward.”

Source:GMM

Deep scepticism greets London GP idea

Deep scepticism has greeted Bernie Ecclestone’s claim he is prepared to promote and pay for a London street race.

The F1 chief executive’s comments were made on the eve of a media event that took place on Thursday in the British capital organised by Santander, the sponsor of the British grand prix at Silverstone. That the Spanish bank’s imaginary F1 layout for London was being suddenly touted as potentially real was “fantastic news” for the organiser and PR agency Sidhu and Simon, according to a report on the BBC.

The Daily Mail agreed: “Dreamland was exactly where Santander’s publicity machine was residing last night.”

“Of course it’s not going to happen,” a senior figure is quoted as saying. “You know that, and so do I. But it makes a great story, doesn’t it?”

Some are questioning the timing of Ecclestone’s comments, insisting the big news is an ideal smokescreen amid the more serious story about former F1 banker Gerhard Gribkowsky’s jailing for bribery.

“Great idea,” a reader of the Telegraph commented when contemplating a London grand prix. “Bernie will make sure it goes via Wandsworth Prison so he can watch the race for himself.”

Writing in The National, Gary Meenaghan agreed the timing of the news “appears a convenient diversion from a less positive tale.”

British F1 legend Sir Stirling Moss also doubts the race will happen.

“I hate saying it but I think it would be (unrealistic),” he said. “I’d love to see it but they have been talking about it since I was racing in the 60s.”

The National’s Meenaghan continued: “Let’s get one thing straight — London will not be hosting a formula one grand prix.

“Not next year, not the year after, possibly not ever. Why? Because there are more obstacles in its way than there are speed bumps on the city’s streets.”

CNN reported that British motoring association AA is already condemning the event on the basis of London’s famous traffic congestion.

“We’ve seen the huge fuss that has been created by road closures during the Olympics and that is just once in a lifetime — a London GP would be every year,” said a spokesman.

And the Independent newspaper said the Westminster Council has “not been consulted”.

Even the soberly objective news wires are deeply sceptical.

“It’s nothing more than hypothetical for now,” said the Associated Press, adding that the project “is yet to move beyond just an idea and has no official backing from the city”.

And Reuters said there are “plenty of reasons to doubt it (the London GP idea) would ever pick up speed and become real”.

Jenson Button, who was otherwise on-message for the Santander stunt, had to admit: “I’m not sure you would be able to close down London for a grand prix”.

Major UK bookmaker William Hill is offering odds of 1/33 that London will not be hosting a grand prix any time soon.

“We cannot see it happening,” a spokesman confirmed.

The foreign media was also not fooled, Autosprint wondering if the idea of a London grand prix is “Verita (the truth) o folklore?”

And even The Times, who had published Ecclestone’s original quotes exclusively, admitted there are big hurdles that are yet to be cleared.

“Neither Santander … nor Mr Ecclestone intend to submit formal proposals”, the London newspaper conceded.

Source:GMM

Mayor: Air and noise hurdles for London Grand Prix

London mayor Boris Johnson on Thursday could not guarantee the British capital will be able to host Bernie Ecclestone’s race.

F1 chief executive Ecclestone has said he is prepared to put up the money and promote a London street race. Some immediately wrote off the plans as either a classic Ecclestone diversion or a publicity stunt. But London mayor Johnson told the UK newspaper Express he is “broadly positive” about the plans.

“I am always interested in projects that attract jobs and bring growth,” he said, insisting it will be important to find out if there is “a really good economic case” for the event.

Johnson added: “The question of air quality and noise impact will have to be looked at. I am broadly positive providing we can satisfy the air quality and noise issues.”

Source:GMM

Glock expects to race at Silverstone

Timo Glock is expecting to race at next for next weekend’s British grand prix.

Glock did not race at Valencia thanks to a stomach bug. In a media statement, Marussia have said that the German driver is back on the road to recovery.

“Generally I am feeling much better,” Glock said. “I still feel a little weak in the legs, but otherwise I am okay. I am now on my way to a full recovery, although it will be a few more days before I am allowed to train again.”

Glock said that by Silverstone next weekend “I should be totally fit again”.

Gazzetta journalist tips Vettel to join Ferrari in 2014

The rumour mill surrounding Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari is in full swing with yet another F1 journalist beliving the German driver is headed to Ferrari in 2014.

Formula One’s reigning world champion has a contract for the 2013 season with an escape clause for 2014. He has so far denied media reports that he has signed an agreement to move to Ferrari in 2014.

A full year before Fernando Alonso joined Ferrari in 2010, Pino Allievi – the authoritative La Gazzetta dello Sport correspondent – correctly predicted that move. So where does he stand on Vettel to Ferrari in 2014?

“I think Ferrari has indeed contacted Vettel but I don’t know exactly if there is an option or an agreement,” the Italian told El Confidencial.

Allievi however said he understands the parties have agreed to push ahead “if at the end of 2013 the conditions are good for Vettel, in the sense that Ferrari is in the first two or three positions, and if they (the conditions) are similarly good for Ferrari”.

“In other words, he would not go to another team, because the first option is Ferrari,” he added.

In the meantime, Allievi said Ferrari is weighing up who Alonso’s 2013 teammate will be.

“Webber has been talking to Ferrari, but I do not know more than that. I believe that if Massa does some more good races he will continue for a year,” he said.

Source:GMM