Mike Stevens | May 5, 2011

F1's owner CVC Capital Partners has confirmed that Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation and the Ferrari-linked Exor company have made a "friendly" approach.

News Corp and Exor SpA, controlled by the Agnelli family and with a significant shareholding in Ferrari parent Fiat, confirmed jointly on Tuesday that they are "formulating a long-term plan for the development of Formula One".

CVC responded by insisting the potential takeover consortium knows F1 is "not currently for sale".

"CVC recognises the quality of Exor and News Corporation as potential investors, but any investment in formula one will require CVC's agreement and will need to demonstrate that it is in the interest of the sport and its stakeholders", added the London-based private equity firm.

Since news of the consortium's interest in F1 broke, the sport's Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone has said repeatedly that CVC does not want to sell.

"You would think if somebody wanted to buy it they would approach the people who own it to see if they want to sell it," he told the Press Association.

(GMM)

 

Passing 'Too Easy' In F1 Now: Heidfeld

Nick Heidfeld has expressed concern that overtaking is becoming too easy in F1.

For 2011, given the loud calls from fans who wanted to see more passing, the FIA introduced the 'DRS' rear wings that make it easier for chasing cars to mount a challenge.

And the severe degradation of the new Pirelli tyres have also contributed to more passing, Renault driver and F1 veteran Heidfeld told RTL in an interview.

"If you look at how much overtaking there has been so far, it is probably the most extreme thing I've seen in Formula One for a long time," said the German.

"Sometimes it's been a little too easy maybe," he added.

Heidfeld, who made his Grand Prix debut in 2000, said passing in the past was "something special".

"Now? If you have old tyres and the other has fresh (ones), then he runs around the outside, the inside -- wherever," said the 33-year-old.

(GMM)

 

2011 No Cakewalk For Red Bull: Heidfeld

Nick Heidfeld is sure Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel will not walk away with the 2011 world championship.

The reigning champions enjoyed a dominant start to the season but German Heidfeld, who drives for Renault, has been particularly impressed with the improvements of the McLaren team.

"After the first races some people said it was going to be a walkover for Sebastian and Red Bull," he said in an interview with German broadcaster RTL.

"But if you look back on the past few years, something like that is really very rare. Particularly McLaren in recent years have often started a bit behind and then moved forward quite rapidly," added Heidfeld.

Indeed, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton won with a superior tyre strategy in China three weeks ago, although insiders expect Red Bull to shine this weekend in Turkey.

Heidfeld said of McLaren: "If they have the development pace they've had in previous years, they will be a very serious challenger. And I hope that some other teams and us (Renault) as well can also be at the very front."

In a teleconference with reporters on Tuesday, McLaren's chief engineer Phil Prew admitted the gap separating Red Bull's RB7 from the MP4-26 is up to five-tenths per lap.

(GMM)

 

Aerodynamic Focus In F1 'Unacceptable': Domenicali

Stefano Domenicali is calling for a "discussion" in Formula One about the disproportionate influence of aerodynamics.

As Ferrari struggled with the opening stanza of 2011 and worked to get to the bottom of a wind tunnel problem, president Luca di Montezemolo said aerodynamics is playing an "80 per cent" role in the performance of the cars.

"F1 is also about the mechanical, the engines. This F1 does not sit well with me," he said.

Team boss Domenicali told Auto Bild that he fully agrees.

"Actually, in Formula One at the moment there is really only aerodynamic development," he said. "It is 90 percent of the performance which from the perspective of a car manufacturer such as Ferrari is unacceptable.

"The future of the automobile is not in the aerodynamics; only a small portion of our (road car) budget is in this area.

"If we had the same approach for formula one, we would not qualify for the races. So there is an imbalance between real cars and Formula One," insisted Domenicali.

He admitted that Ferrari is not "traditionally" the best in F1 in the field of aerodynamics, arguing that it is Red Bull's Adrian Newey who is making the difference in the current era.

It's why Ferrari is working hard to catch up, such as by introducing a Red Bull-style flexible front wing as soon as possible.

He denies the concept is illegal.

"There is only a foul if the referee blows the whistle," said Domenicali. "So long as it passes the FIA tests, there is nothing wrong. So we need to make sure our front wings work just the same."

(GMM)

 

Turkey Upgrade 'Fast' Admits Rosberg

After appearing to have podium-winning pace in China three weeks ago, Mercedes could be set to make another major step towards the front this weekend.

Bild newspaper reports that Nico Rosberg tried the W02 car's Istanbul upgrade in the Brackley simulator last week.

"In the simulator I was fast," the German confirmed.

Bild said the upgrade package could amount to as much as one second per lap in qualifying.

"We need to keep pushing to try to get closer to Red Bull," added Rosberg.

(GMM)

 

Red Bull's KERS Problems Now Fixed: Marko

Red Bull has fixed its KERS problems ahead of the weekend's Turkish Grand Prix, the team's F1 consultant Dr Helmut Marko has confirmed.

The championship leaders have had problems with the energy-recovery technology so far in 2011 aboard the otherwise-impressive RB7 car.

Red Bull vowed to get to the bottom of the issue in the three week gap between China and Turkey.

"Our KERS system is fine, over the Easter break we have made some modifications," Austrian Marko told the German newspaper Bild.

It was believed the main problem was overheating.

"It is much better now," added Marko. "It works."

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel, although losing to McLaren's Lewis Hamilton in China three weeks ago, is confident not only for Turkey but also Barcelona two weeks later.

"The next two tracks should be good for us," the German is quoted as saying by Kleine Zeitung.

(GMM)

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