Montezemolo: Ecclestone should quit over corruption charges

Bernie Ecclestone should quit if German prosecutors charge him with corruption according to Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, who recently attacked F1’s chief executive for being too old to remain in charge of the sport.

“Could the post be filled by Montezemolo?” wondered Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Michael Schmidt.

Whether or not the 65-year-old Italian wants the 82-year-old Briton’s job, he admits to thinking the Ecclestone era should be over.

“I hope for Bernie and F1 that nothing will happen,” Montezemolo, referring to the possibility Ecclestone will be formerly charged over the Gerhard Gribkowsky bribery scandal, told the Independent.

“If Bernie is accused under process, I think he will be the first to give a step back in the interests of formula one. This could be bad for F1.”

As for Ecclestone’s long reign over the sport, he continued: “The era of the one man show cannot continue: we are slowly approaching the end of a period characterised by the style of one man who has done significant things.”

Source:GMM

McLaren’s MP4-28 to be launched on January 31st

McLaren have announced that they will be revealing their 2013 Formula One car on 31st January 2013. At present, there are no further details on the car or the unveiling, other than the event will happen in the UK.

Most other F1 teams are also likely to be revealing their 2013 contenders around the same period. Sauber’s newest car, the C32, will be formally launched on the first day of F1 testing at Jerez on 5th February 2013.

Thailand set to host 2015 race

It looks likely that Thailand will be hosting their first Formula One event in 2015. Although it was believed that Bangkok could host a race in 2014, Bernie Ecclestone told the Wall Street Journal that a Thai Street race will be on the calendar for the 2015 F1 season.

“An F1 race is likely to take place here in early 2015 instead of in 2014 in our initial plan,” Kanokphand Chulakasem, governor of the Sports Authority of Thailand, told the Bangkok Post.

It is believed Red Bull, whose co-owner Chalerm Yoovidkya is from Thailand, is involved in the preparations.

“I can say that it is almost 100 per cent certain that Thailand will host an F1 race,” said the energy drink’s representative Michael De Santiesteban, who reportedly met with Ecclestone last month. “With Thailand on the calendar,” he added, “a current race is likely to be removed.”

Source:GMM

Montezemolo: Vettel next in line for ‘number 1’ Ferrari seat

Luca di Montezemolo on Thursday admitted reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel is next in line for Ferrari’s ‘number 1’ race seat.

“If, tomorrow, Fernando would withdraw for any reason – let’s say he moves to Hawaii with his girlfriend – then I would want Vettel,” laughed the fabled Maranello based team’s president, according to Auto Motor und Sport.

Spaniard Alonso, however, is tied up contractually for years — and Ferrari is more than happy with him.

“I’m incredibly happy with him,” Montezemolo agreed. “He is more than just a driver.”

Referring to Ferrari’s influential past drivers Niki Lauda and Michael Schumacher, Montezemolo said Alonso is “a bit of both”. But he also doesn’t spare his praise of German Vettel, who while contracted to Red Bull has been the subject of long speculation his future could be in red.

“He’s young,” Montezemolo started, “he has his feet on the floor, and he has an indomitable will to win. “Schumacher made me aware of him years ago because he knew him from his karting years. I must say, Michael was right.”

Montezemolo admitted Vettel, 25, is higher on Ferrari’s wish list than is Lewis Hamilton.

“Because he is younger, and because Ferrari would be Hamilton’s third team. And if you’ve reached your third team, your career is already in its second half.”

Indeed, Montezemolo said he doesn’t even mind that Vettel accused Ferrari of playing “dirty tricks” in a bid to beat him to the 2012 title.

“In the heat of battle,” said the Italian, “you can always say something emotional.”

Montezemolo, however, appeared to rule out pairing Alonso with Vettel, saying that sort of star-studded lineup would be “difficult”.

For now, that keeps Felipe Massa in a job, even though Montezemolo hinted he is keeping his eye on the next generation of potential Ferrari drivers.

He suggested he will be watching Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean very closely.

“Next year, we have two and a half new driving pairings: Perez at McLaren, Hamilton at Mercedes, and the half is the ‘new’ Massa with us.

“I am very curious to see how Hulkenberg goes with our engine at Sauber, and also the young man who on the first laps this year was sometimes a little too fast,” Montezemolo smiled, undoubtedly referring to Frenchman Grosjean.

Source:GMM

Valencia surprised as Barcelona scraps alternation plans

Barcelona’s decision to abandon plans to alternate its annual grand prix hosting rights has caught Valencia by surprise.

It was believed Barcelona, the regular host of the annual Spanish grand prix, had agreed with European GP venue Valencia to annually alternate a single spot on the schedule from now on. Valencia is duly absent from next year’s calendar.

But Circuit de Catalunya chief Vincente Aguilera said on Wednesday: “We have no desire to alternate. We cannot speak for Valencia, who have agreements with (Bernie) Ecclestone about which we have nothing to say.” That has caught Valencia by surprise.

A Valencian government source is quoted by Marca sports newspaper: “There was an agreement between the (Valencia and Barcelona) presidents over the alternation.

“With the formation of the current Catalan government there may have been a change, we do not know.

“Understand that for our part we have worked for the continuity of F1 in Valencia through the alternation, which for us gives the grand prix rationality through increasing revenue and reducing costs,” the source added.

Source:GMM

Barcelona pulls pin on Valencia alternation plans

Barcelona has moved to secure its annual spot on the F1 calendar.

With European grand prix host Valencia dropped from the 2013 schedule, it was expected that both of Spain’s F1 hosts would now move to annually alternate a single race per year.
ut El Mundo Deportivo newspaper reports that the Circuit de Catalunya has inked an agreement with the public institution Diputacion Provincial de Barcelona, providing new funding to the track.

“We have a contract to host the GP de Espana until 2016,” said Circuit de Catalunya chief Vincente Aguilera, “and we want to keep it.

“Indeed, we are open to negotiating an extension until 2020 with the same conditions,” he added.

Aguilera told AS newspaper: “We have no desire to alternate. We cannot speak for Valencia, who have agreements with (Bernie) Ecclestone about which we have nothing to say.”

Source:GMM

Kubica to contest European rally series in 2013

Robert Kubica looks set to return to full-time competitive action in 2013.

Multiple media reports, including German’s Sport Bild and also SID news agency, claim the former BMW and Renault driver will contest the European Rally Championship (ERC) at the wheel of a Ford Fiesta.

SID said the Pole, who has still has limited use of his right arm in the wake of his February 2011 rally crash, has received clearance to enter the Fiesta with modified controls.

“It would be incredible if Robert came to the ERC,” said series chief Francois Ribeiro.

Source:GMM

Grojsean: Uncertainty over 2013 seat ‘unpleasant’

Romain Grosjean has admitted to relief, after Lotus this week ended a long period of speculation about the Frenchman’s future.

After his often impressive yet error-strewn return to F1 this year, the 26-year-old Frenchman admitted he genuinely feared for his race seat.

“I am happy and relieved,” Grosjean told France’s RMC Sport. “It has been some long and not necessarily very pleasant weeks.”

In the wake of his Monza ban, Grosjean began to put his season back together but then ended 2012 badly in Austin and Brazil.

“The last two races of the season did not help the negotiations,” he admitted. “We sat down together to understand, analyse and especially consider whether we go on again.

“I was clearly concerned about going, losing what I love. When the decision came, I was very relieved,” said Grosjean.

There was speculation Grosjean’s turbulent season had also endangered the backing of his sponsor Total, but the French company said on Tuesday that it continues to support the Swiss-born racer.

“This is a new step in the relationship of trust that we have built together from his first laps, 7 years ago,” said senior vice president Jacques-Emmanuel Saulnier.

Grosjean, meanwhile, denied Lotus decided to give him another chance for 2013 after beating the likes of reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel at last weekend’s Race of Champions. Asked when the new deal was done, he told Sky Sports: “It was just before the Race of Champions, so it was good to get there and have a weekend of fun with some good guys and really enjoy it.”

Source:GMM

Haug admits Mercedes defeats led to F1 departure

Norbert Haug has admitted he is stepping down due to Mercedes’ lack of success as a works team since 2010. But in an interview with Germany’s Bild daily, he denied reports he is being made a scapegoat.

“No, I’m not,” said Haug, who served as the German marque’s motor sport vice president for more than two decades. “If I had nothing to do with our failures in the last three years, then I would have nothing to do with our victory in China this year,” said the 60-year-old, “and I wouldn’t like that.”

But why has Haug been axed, and not the Brackley based team’s British principal, Ross Brawn?

“Because over 22 years I have borne the overall responsibility for motor sport at Mercedes, not Ross Brawn. I am ultimately his superior,” he insisted.

Haug said he accepts that he must take the responsibility.

“The basis of our car was good, but the development was poor to very poor,” he admitted.

Haug denied rumours he is actually quitting for health reasons.

“Thank god not,” the German insisted. “Almost three years ago to the day I had thyroid surgery, but since then I’m doing very well. I’m totally healthy,” he added.

He said he doesn’t know if his job will now be split into two roles — DTM and F1.

“I have no information. Maybe there is a very capable professional who can do much more than I can,” said Haug.

He played down suggestions ex-drivers like Michael and Ralf Schumacher, or Mika Hakkinen, can fill his shoes.

“Honestly, I don’t think they were born to be in the office,” laughed Haug.

Source:GMM

FIA feared F1 to be too slow in 2014

F1’s governing body backtracked on aerodynamic changes for the 2014 season because of fears the next generation of cars would be too slow.

After the recent World Motor Sport Council meeting in Turkey, the FIA announced that scheduled bodywork rule changes for 2014 to reduce downforce have been replaced by “2012 specification”.

“There was concern that formula one cars would become too slow,” read a report by the authoritative German magazine Auto Motor und Sport.

One problem is that the all-new turbo V6 and energy recovery systems will add considerable weight – and more than initially expected – to the 2014 single seaters.

With the 2014 rules, the FIA is reportedly aiming to slow down the F1 cars by no more than five seconds per lap.

Any more than that, the German report claimed, runs the risk that formula one could be genuinely outpaced by Le Mans prototype cars, or the US-based Indycars.