Thailand is one step closer to hosting a Formula One race in 2015 – if the Thai cabinet gives the go ahead.
SAT governor Kanokphand Chulakasem explained, “The racing contract is in my and Red Bull’s founder advisor, Michael de Santiesteban’s hands. However, before signing an official contact the authority has to present details to the Cabinet for final approval.”
He also revealed that Rajdamnoen Avenue, one of the venues on the short-list to host the F1 race, has already been inspected by the FIA and given positive feedback.
One obstacle currently facing the race is a new Thai law banning racing on city streets. The law has been passed in an attempt to prevent illegal motor cycle racing on the streets and if the F1 event is given the go ahead and is confirmed as a street race, an exemption will need to be made to the law to allow the event to go ahead.
Late last year there was some speculation that Thailand could host a race as early as 2014 however with no official confirmation, it appears that these were just unfounded rumours.
Claire Williams has become Deputy Team Principal of the Williams F1 team with immediate effect. Williams will retain also be retaining her Commercial Director role and continue to be a part of the Company’s Board of Directors.
Williams started as a press officer for the team in 2002. In 2010 she was promoted to Head of Communications and a year later became Head of Investor Relations.
Frank Williams commented, “Over the past decade Claire has worked tirelessly for Williams. Her knowledge of the sport and passion for the team is unquestionable and I’m proud to say that during her time here she has proven herself to be one of our most valuable assets.
“With Claire being appointed Deputy Team Principal, I know the future of Williams is in extremely safe hands. This appointment also had Ginny’s blessing who I know would have been incredibly proud to have seen Claire taking on this position by my side.”
Commenting on her new role, Claire Williams said; “I’m truly honoured to be taking on the role of Deputy Team Principal and look forward to working alongside Frank to help run the team this season and beyond. I have grown up in the sport and have learnt the ropes from one of Formula One’s legendary Team Principals and as a result I feel well equipped for this new challenge.
“I understand the commitment that every person within the team gives each day to see our car out on the track and I am determined to see us back at the top. I don’t underestimate the challenges that lie ahead but I have the full support of the Board and a very talented Executive Committee who will be invaluable as I move forward in this role.
“It has been a sad month for my family and Williams as a company following the death of my mother, but as the season takes hold we must look to the future. It will be a privilege to play a part in taking the team into what I hope will be a successful next chapter.”
Bernie Ecclestone has defended Vettel’s Malaysian Grand Prix behaviour and has said that he doesn’t think Red Bull will suspend the German driver for the Chinese Grand Prix.
“If I was Sebastian Vettel, having won three world championships with the team, and somebody came on the radio to me and started giving me instructions I’d probably do exactly the same as Kimi Raikkonen did when he came back when they gave him some instructions the other day and say “I know what I’m doing”,” Ecclestone told Sky Sports News.
“I don’t think he’s undermined Christian’s authority at all because Christian knows exactly what should have happened and didn’t happen. Put yourself in Christian’s position. What should he now do? Did he give orders in the first place and if he did how could he then give more orders?
“I think what you have to do is think very carefully and I always say “show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser”. Sebastian is not a loser. Sebastian is a winner.
With John Watson having recently said that he believes Vettel should be suspended by Red Bull for a race, Ecclestone was asked what he thought of the idea.
“Leave Sebastian out?” he said. “No, I don’t think I’d give that any consideration.
“I’d say to Sebastian, just don’t make me look like an idiot.”
Lewis Hamilton has said that there is no top driver at Mercedes.
In the latter stages of the Malaysian Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg repeatedly asked if he could take third place from his team-mate saying he was ‘too slow’. This has led to speculation that Hamilton was lured to Mercedes from Mclaren with a contract stating he was to be top driver for the team.
However Hamilton has refuted these claims. “It didn’t,” Hamilton said, talking about the contract negotiations. “I remember just saying to Ross [Brawn] that I wanted equality in the team.
Red Bull’s Helmut Marko has said that he believes Hamilton was promised preferential treatment by Mercedes.
“I think that is rubbish,” Hamilton said. “They [Red Bull] have a clear one and two – they always have and that is why they have the problem they have always had.
“We don’t have a one and two here. I have always said, from the moment I was speaking to the team, that i wanted equality and that I didn’t want to be favoured.
“They didn’t even offer to fvaour me but I just wanted to make the point that i am not a driver that comes and requests that like a lot of other dtivers do. you have to be able to look yourself in the mirror and say you won fair and square.
“Just like in Malaysia I don’t feel like I won my spot fair and square. Although I did drive a decent race, I don’t feel spectacular about it.”
Former McLaren driver John Watson believes that Sebastian Vettel should be suspended by his team for a race for disobeying team orders at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
With 13 laps left, Sebastian Vettel overtook his team-mate Mark Webber at the Malaysian Grand Prix and went on to take the top step on the podium. This was despite orders from his team to stay behind Webber. Webber was clearly unhappy with the race result and there was a definite iciness between the two drivers at the podium ceremony.
“The only purposeful way to bring him to book is to say ‘you will stand out one race’,” Watson told BBC Radio 4. “I know that if other drivers in other teams disobeyed a team order they would be suspended or even fired.
“If Christian Horner doesn’t reassert his authority in the team – because he has been totally subjugated by Sebastian Vettel – then his position in the team is not exactly the role it is designed to be.
“The only conclusion I can reach is that Vettel should be suspended for the next grand prix. You can’t take the points away from him and give them to Mark Webber – that’s now history and Sebastian has the benefit of those seven additional points.
“You can’t really fine him. It is almost irrelevant to fine to him.
“So the only purposeful way to bring him to book is to say, ‘you will stand out one race’.”
Boullier is confident that his Lotus team are currently in the top four despite Raikkonen finishing over half a minute adrift of Malaysian Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel.
Boullier believes that there will be many different race winners this season thanks to the Pirelli tyres and that Lotus are in the top four F1 teams along with Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull.
“It is a prediction we had after the winter testing,” Boullier explained. “It is going to be very, very tight. I think you can expect – mainly because of the tyre management situation – a different race winner each time.
“But we can say we are definitely in the top four – Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and us are very, very close.”
So why weren’t Raikkonen and Grosjean competing at the sharp end during the Malaysian Grand Prix?
“First it was [wet] qualifying and then we did not make the best start ever,” Boullier explained. “After that we lost a lot in the first stint compared to the leaders, especially Mercedes.
“If you then compare the race pace after tha, we were not bad – we were there.
“In Melbourne clearly we had an advantage because again some circumstances during qualifying and Friday practice did not help some teams to get their setup ready.”
Force India have said that they will persevere with their new wheelnut system despite the issue causing the team a double retirement at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
The Silverstone based team were hoping to repeat the double points scoring finish achieved at the Australian Grand Prix just a week before. However both Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta were forced to retire after the Force India pit crew experienced problems with wheelnuts during their pitstops.
“Both cars had the same problem with the wheel nuts and it cost us a lot of time in the pits,” Sutil explained. “We aren’t sure exactly what happened yet so the team stopped the cars to make sure we understand the issue.”
The new captive wheelnut system was in use during the Australian Grand Prix however the temperatures in Malaysia were much higher and it is believed that this is a factor in the problem.
The Force India team now have three weeks to sort the wheelnut issue out before the next race in China.
“We won’t go back to the old part,” deputy team principal Bob Fernley confirmed to Autosport. “We can’t go backwards.
“You need to cure the problem and carry on with your development. Today, everyone’s pitstops are well under four seconds. But it you go back to the traditional route you are plus four.”