Category Archives: F1 News

Grosjean ends Vettel dominance in final practice

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Daniel Ricciardo plays down spin in Silverstone testing

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Daniel Ricciardo minimised the importance of an off-track moment on what was effectively an audition for a seat with Red Bull in 2014.

The Australian, who races for Red Bull junior team Toro Rosso, lost the car at Silverstone’s Luffield corner on his seventh lap of a test on Thursday.

“I had a small off, but otherwise it was a trouble-free day. The off was my mistake; I lost the rear,” he said.

The 24-year-old added: “I drove to my ability and did what I could.”

Ricciardo’s stats and facts

  • Team: Toro Rosso
  • Team-mate: Jean-Eric Vergne
  • Nationality: Australian
  • Born: 01/07/89, Perth
  • Grand prix debut: British Grand Prix 2011

A drive at Red Bull, one of the most coveted on the grid, is available following Mark Webber’s decision to leave Formula 1 at the end of the year.

Ricciardo is one of two drivers in contention to be the team-mate of world champion Sebastian Vettel – the other being former world champion Kimi Raikkonen, who drives for Lotus.

Ricciardo set the third-fastest time of the day in his afternoon’s running in the Red Bull. He also set the quickest lap, behind the wheel of his regular Toro Rosso in the morning, when he was 0.215 seconds quicker than he was in the Red Bull.

The second-fastest driver was another Red Bull junior, Spaniard Carlos Sainz, also in the Toro Rosso.

Sainz, who races in the GP3 feeder series, took over the car from Ricciardo in the afternoon and was 0.044secs slower.

Ricciardo said: “It was a good opportunity to get behind the wheel and experience two different beasts.

“In terms of the inevitable speculation, I think this test is something for Red Bull to look at, but there’s still the rest of the season with Toro Rosso to do, so I’ll switch my focus back to that and won’t get too caught up in any rumours.”

Portuguese Antonio Felix Da Costa,  who races in the Formula Renault 3.5 series and is a possibility for a seat at Toro Rosso next season, drove the Red Bull in the morning and was 0.771secs slower than Ricciardo managed later on.

Daniel RicciardoAustralian Daniel Ricciardo is one of two contenders for a Red Bull seat in 2014

The headline lap times are not necessarily an accurate comparison of relative pace because it is impossible to know the specifications in which the teams run the cars, with fuel loads, tyre choice and a number of other factors all having a significant effect on performance.

The ‘young-driver’ test has that name because rules state only drivers who have competed in no more than two grands prix may take part.

However, it is a misnomer this year because race drivers have been allowed to feature, under strictly controlled conditions, so they can try out a new type of tyre introduced by supplier Pirelli.

The Italian company has changed the design of the tyre in an attempt to prevent the multiple blow-outs that were experienced at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone last month.

So far at the test there have been no problems with the tyres, which are being used by all drivers.

Among the hopefuls to get an outing in a Formula 1 car were Britons James Calado, who races in GP2, and Oliver Turvey, a McLaren test driver.

Calado set the sixth-fastest time of the day in his Force India.

He said: “It has been fantastic to get an opportunity to drive this week. It’s another world compared to what I am used to with so much to learn.”

Turvey was just ahead of him in fifth place in the McLaren, in which Dane Kevin Magnussen set the fastest time of the first day of the test on Wednesday.

Formula 1 boss Ecclestone indicted on bribery charge

The charge relates to a $44m (£29m) payment to German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky of Bayern Landesbank, linked to the sale of a stake in F1.

Mr Ecclestone denies bribing Gribkowsky, and says the money was intended to stop the banker from exposing him to a UK tax inquiry.

Mr Gribkowsky was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in jail in Munich.

Speaking to the Financial Times on Wednesday, Mr Ecclestone said: “I have just spoken to my lawyers and they have received an indictment. It’s being translated into English.”

“We are defending it properly. It will be an interesting case. It’s a pity it’s happened.”

Mr Ecclestone has six weeks to respond to the indictment, Formula One Group said in a statement.

‘Silly things’

The charges are related to the 2006 sale of a 47% stake in Formula 1 by Bayern Landesbank, which had acquired it from the bankrupt Kirch media group.

Gribkowsky had been in charge of managing the sale to private equity group CVC Capital Partners.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

If this is the end of the road for a man of rare influence and notoriety, it has been a long on”

Anndrew Benson BBC F1 correspondent

CVC has since reduced its stake in a series of deals. It has not commented on the indictment.

At his trial last year, Gribkowsky admitted corruptly receiving $41.4m (£26.6m) in bank commissions and a large payment via the Ecclestone family’s Bambino Trust.

He maintained he had been paid to undervalue the shares.

But Mr Ecclestone says he paid Gribkowsky to keep him quiet, believing the banker was planning to give false information to the UK authorities about his tax affairs.

Mr Ecclestone said at the time that proving the allegation was false “would have been very expensive for me”.

“The tax risk would have exceeded £2bn. I paid him to keep calm and not to do silly things,” he said.

Mr Ecclestone has until mid-August to respond to the charges. The court will then decide whether to take the case to trial – it could be heard by mid-September.

He faces a possible jail term if found guilty, something he has previously said would force him to stand down as head of F1.

His lawyer told the Financial Times the indictment was largely based on statements from Gribkowsky, and that Mr Ecclestone intended to dispute these.

Lotus drops Raikkonen from test schedule

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Kimi Raikkonen will not take part in the Young Driver Test on Friday after the team decided he would be “underutilised” under the regulations restricting the freedom of race driver’s programmes at Silverstone this week.

Race drivers are allowed to take part in the test but only if they stick to a run plan dictated by tyre supplier Pirelli. Any development work on the car has to be undertaken by drivers with less than two grands prix experience, meaning the team will call on Nicolas Prost, who is testing the car on Wednesday, to return on Friday.

“Once details of what race drivers were allowed to do here became apparent, we would have only been able to conduct a very limited programme with Kimi,” Lotus trackside operations director Alan Permane explained. “If we were to run him, it would compromise the other development work we want to do with the car here. By running Nico again we’ll be able to build on the work already carried out and hopefully be in the best position to develop the E21 ahead of Budapest, whilst also conducting the necessary tyre testing for Pirelli.”

Mark Webber was also pulled from Red Bull’s programme this week after a reshuffle that allows Antonio Felix da Costa more time in the car. McLaren opted not to call on either of its race drivers from the start of the test but several other teams, including Ferrari (with Felipe Massa) and Red Bull (with Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo), will still run a race driver for at least half a day.

Ricciardo’s Red Bull run postponed by a day

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Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull test at Silverstone has been postponed by a day after a clarification by the FIA about the programmes race drivers can complete at this week’s Young Driver Test.

Ricciardo was supposed to drive the Red Bull on Wednesday afternoon, but will now take Mark Webber’s place on Thursday afternoon. Red Bull was the only team with a schedule featuring three current race drivers over three days, but has now been amended to give Antonio Felix da Costa a full day in the car on Tuesday.

Felix da Costa will be back in the car on Thursday morning before Ricciardo takes over in the afternoon, following a morning behind the wheel of his Toro Rosso. Carlos Sainz Jr and Sebastian Vettel will split the driving on the final day.

The test is Ricciardo’s chance to impress Red Bull as he vies for a race drive with the world champions next year when Webber leaves. He is thought to be in direct competition with Kimi Raikkonen for the drive, but his team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne has not been given the chance to test the Red Bull this week.

Susie Wolff set for full Formula 1 test for Williams

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The Scot will drive on Friday, with race driver Pastor Maldonado in action on Thursday, while Spaniard Daniel Juncadella is set to test on Wednesday.

Teams are being allowed to run race drivers for one day at the test on 17-19 July to evaluate new tyres.

Wolff, 30, is currently the development driver for Williams.

She raced in the DTM German touring car championship for seven years before quitting the series to concentrate on her work with the British outfit.

Susie Wolff

Susie Wolff

Born: 6/12/82, Oban, Scotland

Role: Williams development driver

Previous racing experience: 2006-12 DTM German touring cars. Always driving at least a year-old car; best result ninth. 2005 – Formula Three in UK; 2001-4 – Formula Renault in UK

Married to Toto Wolff, Mercedes director of motorsport and executive director (business) Mercedes F1 team. Shareholder in Williams

It is not the first time Wolff has driven an F1 car – she had a familiarisation test with Williams last October and was the first to drive the team’s 2013 car this year at an aerodynamic test in February, and described the Silverstone test as “a fantastic opportunity”.

Wolff added: “It’s going to be a big challenge but the most important thing is to do a solid and consistent job and to give good feedback to the team to be able to prove I am at the level to compete on a day such as this.

“Most of my work is based in the simulator which is why this day is so important for me.

“It will give me a better understanding of what the car is like on track and how that correlates to the simulator which will also help further develop the work I can do there.

“I am not naive enough to think it will be easy. I know it’s going to be tough and a big challenge but the team have prepared me well and I just need to believe in myself. I will go out there and do the best I can.”

The last woman to enter the F1 world championship was Italian Giovanna Amati, who failed to qualify for three races with Brabham in 1992 before being dropped. The last woman to race an F1 car was Italian Lella Lombardi in 1976.

Only two other teams have so far confirmed their line-ups.

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Long road for female Formula 1 drivers – Susie Wolff

Lotus will use Kimi Raikkonen on the final day of the test with Frenchman Nicolas Prost – the son of four-time world champion Alain Prost – driving on Wednesday and reserve driver Davide Valsecchi on Thursday.

McLaren and Red Bull have chosen not to use their race drivers.

Reserve driver Gary Paffett (Friday) and young drivers Kevin Magnussen and Oliver Turvey will test the McLaren.

Portuguese Antonio Felix Da Costa, a contender for a Toro Rosso seat in 2014, will take the first two days for Red Bull, with Spain’s Carlos Sainz coming in on Friday.

Sauber will use Nico Hulkenberg on Thursday, and split the rest of its programme between reserve driver Robin Frijns and Japanese former Formula 3 driver Kimiya Sato.

The ‘young-driver’ test is an attempt to allow teams to try out drivers who have not yet raced in F1 – the rules dictate that those taking part must have competed in no more than two grands prix.

But this stipulation was waived following the problems at the British Grand Prix to allow Pirelli to try out its new tyre design on the track that had caused the most problems.

A series of problems all contributed to six drivers suffering blowouts during the race.

Although Pirelli said the manner in which the teams were operating the tyres was partially to blame, the biggest single cause is believed to have been a weakness in the construction of the 2013 tyre at the shoulder, where the sidewall meets the tread.

Pirelli has decided to revert to the construction used in 2012, which has a stronger shoulder, from the Hungarian Grand Prix, but combined with the softer rubber compounds used so far in 2013.

As there were no similar problems last year, none are expected with the new design, but the Silverstone test gives Pirelli a chance to make sure before the teams reach the races at Spa in Belgium and Suzuka in Japan, which make even more extreme demands of the tyres.

Mercedes will not feature at the test because of their ban for taking part in the controversial Pirelli tyre test.

Formula 1: Daniel Ricciardo will test for Red Bull at Silverstone

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Ricciardo, who races for Toro Rosso, will drive for Red Bull on Wednesday as part of a tyre-testing programme.

He and Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen are vying for the seat left vacant by Mark Webber’s decision to leave Formula 1 at the end of the season.

If Ricciardo makes a good impression, it could swing the decision his way.

The team know Raikkonen, a former world champion and 20-time race winner would be a strong replacement for Webber, but there is some pressure within Red Bull to prove that their young driver programme can work.

So far, in Red Bull’s nine seasons in F1, only one driver has graduated from the scheme to a seat at the senior team – Sebastian Vettel.

The test will not be enough on its own to secure the seat for Ricciardo, but if he integrates well with the team and does an effective job, it will help his case.

Ricciardo’s stats and facts

  • Team: Toro Rosso
  • Team-mate: Jean-Eric Vergne
  • Nationality: Australian
  • Born: 01/07/89, Perth
  • Grand prix debut: British Grand Prix 2011

Ricciardo, 24, is allowed to drive for Red Bull this week because rules forcing teams to run inexperienced drivers at the test have been relaxed so Pirelli can solve problems that led to a series of tyre failures at last month’s British Grand Prix.

Race drivers have been allowed to take part so they can help the teams evaluate, under restricted conditions, a new design of tyre Pirelli plans to run for the rest of the season, which has a different construction from those used so far this year.

But not all the teams have taken up the opportunity to run their race drivers.

Red Bull have chosen to use Ricciardo, Webber and Vettel for a half a day each and Raikkonen, 33, will drive for Lotus on Friday.

But Ferrari have decided not to call up Fernando Alonso, who is second in the world championship, behind Vettel and ahead of Raikkonen.

Ferrari believe the tight restrictions on what teams can do with the tyres mean there is no more than half a day’s work to be done for one driver.

Alonso’s team-mate Felipe Massa will drive on Friday morning after test driver Davide Rigon runs on the first two days of the test.

Alonso said on his Twitter account  that he was not going to the test “because you can’t test – I have important work to do on the simulator”.

Daniel RicciardoDaniel Ricciardo finished eighth at Silverstone

A Ferrari spokesman said the team were not concerned that Alonso missing the test could put them at a disadvantage over the rest of the season.

“The tyres are more or less the same (as before), the top drivers are very good at adapting and Massa is very good at testing,” the spokesman said.

“And one of the two compounds we’re using at the next race in Hungary is not even being run at Silverstone.”

The team have decided to give Massa time in the car because of his struggles in recent races – out of the last four grands prix, the Brazilian has crashed in free practice in three and spun out of the race in the other.

“We chose to do it with Felipe to give him some time in the car, to get back a bit of feeling and confidence,” the spokesman said.

McLaren are also not using their race drivers at all, preferring to split their test between Dane Kevin Magnussen and Englishmen Oliver Turvey and Gary Paffett.

Williams will run Scot Susie Wolff on Friday for her first full test in an F1 car.

The tyres the race drivers will have available are the new ‘medium’ and ‘hard’ compounds, as well as a prototype even harder tyre that is not part of this year’s race range and which has already been tried in Friday practice at the Spanish and British Grands Prix.

Sergey Sirotkin, 17, lined up for Sauber Formula 1 drive

Russian teenager Sergey Sirotkin has joined Sauber with a view to him racing for the team next year.

The deal for the 17-year-old to be fast-tracked into F1 is part of an investment in Sauber by a group of Russian companies.

A statement from the Swiss team said they would set up a development programme for Sirotkin “to prepare him as racing driver for the team in 2014”.

A spokesman added: “The goal would be to have him in our car next year.”

Sirotkin races this year in the Formula Renault 3.5 series and lies eighth in the championship, with a best result of second place.

On the face of it, he does not qualify for the ‘super-licence’ required to be an F1 driver, and would have to win the Renault 3.5 championship to ensure he did.

However, there is a catch-all clause that Sauber could use to argue his case, which states a driver must have “consistently demonstrated outstanding ability in single-seater formula cars”.

Sauber’s race drivers this year are German Nico Hulkenberg, who is expected to move on next year, and Mexican Esteban Gutierrez, who also owes his presence in the team to sponsorship from his home country.

Sauber have been in financial trouble for some time and the deal with a group of Russian companies secures their future for the next few years.

The spokesman said there had been no change in shareholding at the team “for the time being”, with founder Peter Sauber retaining two-thirds of the shares and team principal Monisha Kaltenborn one-third.

The Sauber statement said: “This extensive co-operation will showcase Russian innovation at the pinnacle of motorsport. At the same time, the Sauber F1 Team will have a solid foundation to increase its competitiveness on a long-term basis.”

Susie Wolff set for full Formula 1 test for Williams

The Scot will drive on Friday, with race driver Pastor Maldonado in action on Thursday, while Spaniard Daniel Juncadella is set to test on Wednesday.

Teams are being allowed to run race drivers for one day at the test on 17-19 July to evaluate new tyres.

Wolff, 30, is currently the development driver for Williams.

She raced in the DTM German touring car championship for seven years before quitting the series to concentrate on her work with the British outfit.

It is not the first time Wolff has driven an F1 car – she had a familiarisation test with Williams last October and was the first to drive the team’s 2013 car this year at an aerodynamic test in February, and described the Silverstone test as “a fantastic opportunity”.

Wolff added: “It’s going to be a big challenge but the most important thing is to do a solid and consistent job and to give good feedback to the team to be able to prove I am at the level to compete on a day such as this.

“Most of my work is based in the simulator which is why this day is so important for me.

“It will give me a better understanding of what the car is like on track and how that correlates to the simulator which will also help further develop the work I can do there.

“I am not naive enough to think it will be easy. I know it’s going to be tough and a big challenge but the team have prepared me well and I just need to believe in myself. I will go out there and do the best I can.”

The last woman to enter the F1 world championship was Italian Giovanna Amati, who failed to qualify for three races with Brabham in 1992 before being dropped. The last woman to race an F1 car was Italian Lella Lombardi in 1976.

Only two other teams have so far confirmed their line-ups.

Play media

Long road for female Formula 1 drivers – Susie Wolff

Lotus will use Kimi Raikkonen on the final day of the test with Frenchman Nicolas Prost – the son of four-time world champion Alain Prost – driving on Wednesday and reserve driver Davide Valsecchi on Thursday.

McLaren and Red Bull have chosen not to use their race drivers.

Reserve driver Gary Paffett (Friday) and young drivers Kevin Magnussen and Oliver Turvey will test the McLaren.

Portuguese Antonio Felix Da Costa, a contender for a Toro Rosso seat in 2014, will take the first two days for Red Bull, with Spain’s Carlos Sainz coming in on Friday.

Sauber will use Nico Hulkenberg on Thursday, and split the rest of its programme between reserve driver Robin Frijns and Japanese former Formula 3 driver Kimiya Sato.

The ‘young-driver’ test is an attempt to allow teams to try out drivers who have not yet raced in F1 – the rules dictate that those taking part must have competed in no more than two grands prix.

But this stipulation was waived following the problems at the British Grand Prix to allow Pirelli to try out its new tyre design on the track that had caused the most problems.

A series of problems all contributed to six drivers suffering blowouts during the race.

Although Pirelli said the manner in which the teams were operating the tyres was partially to blame, the biggest single cause is believed to have been a weakness in the construction of the 2013 tyre at the shoulder, where the sidewall meets the tread.

Pirelli has decided to revert to the construction used in 2012, which has a stronger shoulder, from the Hungarian Grand Prix, but combined with the softer rubber compounds used so far in 2013.

As there were no similar problems last year, none are expected with the new design, but the Silverstone test gives Pirelli a chance to make sure before the teams reach the races at Spa in Belgium and Suzuka in Japan, which make even more extreme demands of the tyres.

Mercedes will not feature at the test because of their ban for taking part in the controversial Pirelli tyre test.